Inspiration’s thin on the ground these days, but when Liana Kerzner went on a D&D parody tear on Twitter about her demonic alter-ego Beelzeboob, I got a wild hair up my arse to write up ‘Literally the devil’ for 5e.
Glazarn are small, clammy, humanoid creatures that live in total darkness, deep underground. They are as translucent as glass and barely visible under any normal circumstances. They live in the icy waters of underground pools and lakes, feeding on the blind, white cave creatures that live in similar places. They have no culture, no language and operate on pure instinct despite their humanoid appearance and attack as a pack, their prey seeming to be suddenly assaulted by dozens of bites out of nowhere.
Other underground dwellers loathe these creatures and exterminate them on ‘sight’, but their spores seep through the rock strata and find icy black pools wherever they can, spawning new ‘tribes’ of Glazarn wherever they can take root.
They are always hungry and will eat anything they can find, silent apart from the tearing of flesh and the crack of bone.
Small Humanoid (glazarn), neutral evil.
Armour Class: 11
Hit Points: 9 (2d8)
Speed: 15 ft., swim 50 ft.
Str: 10 (+0) Dex: 14 (+2) Con: 11 (+0) Int: 5 (-3) Wis: 16 (+3) Cha: 5 (-3)
Skills: Stealth +4
Senses: Passive Perception 13, tremorsense 60 ft, Blindsight 60 ft.
Challenge: 1/4 (50 xp)
Amphibious: The glazarn can hold its breath – essentially indefinitely – underwater.
Glass Skin: The glazarn are virtually invisible without needing the assistance of magic. Their skin and organs are virtually see-thru. Rather than the invisibility bonus it gains +2 to AC and to attack against enemies that can’t detect it, as well as ignoring any bonus they get to their AC from their Dexterity. Painting or otherwise marking a glazarn negates this ability.
Low Level Telepathy: Glazarn can communicate telepathically and can sense intent, they cannot be surprised or ambushed and always know when enemies are around – even if they can’t necessarily see them or target them.
Unique Ability: Glazarn packs exist in closed off caves and are usually only encountered when those caves are newly discovered or excavated into. Their spore can travel through cracks in the rock to find new pools, but different packs evolve along different lines with unique abilities such as venomous bites and so on. The Gamesmaster is encouraged to be creative and to steal an ability from another creature in the Monster Manual.
Vulnerability: Radiant, Fire.
Bite: Melee Weapon Attack +2 to hit, reach 5ft, one target, hit 3 (1d6) slashing damage.
Suggested Unique Abilities
Ambusher: (See Kenku)
Claws (additional attack, indentical to bite).
Constrict: (See Constrictor Snake)
Fetid Cloud: (See Dretch)
Natural Armour: +2 AC.
Nimble Escape: (See Goblin)
Pack Tactics: (See Kobold)
Slippery: (See Kuo-Toa)
Venom: DC11, choose a poison effect you like – paralysis is a good fit.
Adventure gaming ideas have moved on a great deal. Our concept of what’s acceptable in fantasy has moved on from the medieval period more into the renaissance and restoration eras. That means firearms, which have often been eschewed in traditional fantasy for one reason or another, but in many ways firearms make a great deal of sense. Magic has already affected the changes that firearms did in the real world, reducing the effectiveness of armour and fortification, allowing ships to project force at great distance – even from off shore.
Like crossbows supplanting longbows, firearms democratised firepower. They didn’t require a huge amount of skill – despite being more technical and fiddly in many ways – and a man could be armed and fire en masse with other to devastating effect very swiftly.
Besides, guns are just fucking cool. Loud noises, clouds of smoke, devastating musketballs, the potential for new kinds of magic and explosives.
The mistake that seems to occur in a lot of games is making the guns too powerful, too close to modernity. Guns start to stop being appropriate to fantasy once you get to revolvers (discounting the Barsoomian influence) and the best balance seems to be guns no more advanced than those found in the sixteen and seventeenth centuries.
Rough as Toast
‘Rough as Toast’ is my imprint for ‘cheap and nasty’ products. Things that are a bit more experimental, silly or ‘hit and miss’ where a lot of money can’t be spent or risked on a bit of an ‘out there’ idea. If you see that marker, you know you’re getting something a little ‘whacky’ or uncertain, but you will probably get some fun out of it.
The Pulps were churned out at a massive rate of knots. Strange and silly ideas thrown at the wall to see what stuck. Occasionally some of those ideas turned out to have legs – legs that are still carrying them nearly a hundred years later. My intent with Schlocktoberfest (prevously just a sale some years back) is to just throw a bunch of monsters, ideas and other bits and pieces at the ‘wall’ and see what sticks. Maybe something will.
A whole new race for you to use in your 5e games.
The Brock are a reclusive, grumpy people with a pragmatic and dogged mindset. Fierce warriors they protect the forests and occasionally venture out into civilisation – usually to be disapproving.
This is a whole new race and culture for you to add into your games and comes with a set of Brock-centred magic items to use as well.
Here’s a quick monthly update on the current state of affairs here at Postmortem Studios.
I’m a lot healthier than I have been and am working full time again for the first time in about three years. It’s taking a bit of adjustment but so far I’m keeping it up. I’m using this energy and effort to try and keep up a regular schedule of small releases and freelancing and to build up to regaining the financial independence and self reliance I had before depression slapped me around like a ruler meeting a Catholic schoolboy’s hands.
So far this has only been going on for half of last month but I still treat that as something of a victory especially since I’ve been able to raise my monthly income by about 50% just within that period. It feels good – but exhausting – to be back on the horse.
If you want to support my work and help me out, you can donate to my Patreon, and I’m looking for ideas as to what I can offer as Patreon rewards, but at the moment all I can offer are warm fuzzies.
At the moment I’m primarily focussed on finishing off and putting out older material that wasn’t completed. This is primarily because I need to put out material quickly at the moment, meaning it’s all going to be more support material for existing games and odd little interesting notions and side projects. I also have a few people working for me – sadly pseudonomysly – on projects that I’m ‘not allowed’ to look at.
Gor is still very nearly there. There is another slight delay which, again, isn’t anyone’s fault. This project has, I swear, been cursed. Everything that could get in the way for me or the artist has done. Still, we should hopefully be on course for the end of the month. Fingers, fucking, crossed.
I am a 15+ year veteran of the tabletop game publishing world with experience in freelancing and self publishing. I’ve worked for Wizards of the Coast, Steve Jackson Games, Nightfall, Cubicle Seven Entertainment and more. I have also written fiction and worked on social media computer games, packing a lot of meaning into short pieces of text. As a self-publisher I have overseen every step of the publication process from concept through to publications including writing, editing, layout and modification.
Here’s some of the services I can offer, and the minimum prices offered – though anything is negotiable up or down depending on the client.
- New writing (raw text) $0.03c/word.
- Proofreading/Light Editing/Commentary $0.01c/word (second and third deeper passes are possible).
- ePublishing/RPG Publishing consultation Skype/Hangout/Call $20/hour.
- Consultation on your game project $20/hour.
- Layout (InDesign) $10 an hour.
- Stock Art Shopfront: Postmortem studios has a huge stock art catalogue from multiple artists and we’d love to add you to that storefront. If you’re an artist who wants to sell your stock art but doesn’t want to deal with the accounts and uploads etc with your own storefront (which would be my first recommendation) then I can do that for you for 50% (I round up your payouts though).
Clipart Critters MEGABUNDLE: A once in a lifetime offer (at least until September the first) this is ALL of Brad McDevitt’s stock art – up to number 400 – at a HUGE discount. This is basically a company start-up resource which will provide you with plenty of fantasy, horror, science fiction and modern images to kickstart your company into progress with low initial overheads for art. It’s also a fantastic resource for existing companies.
Diversity Dungeons: Despite claims to the contrary from all sides involved this is intended as a fairly serious examination of diversity issues in gaming from a world-building/game design and publishing perspective. It outlines the obstacles and methods to overcome including (or not including) diversity in your games and some material – from bitter experience – on the current febrile atmosphere around games publishing.
The Cathedral of Misogyny: An affectionate pisstake of 4chan, internet culture wars and hyperbole via the medium of a comedic 5th Edition D&D adventure, based upon a scenario I wrote as an introduction for a new player coming in from computer games. Part of the scenario was played online and there’s a Youtube video of it here.
Fistful of Horror 3: A collection of horror scenario ideas in the theme of my 100 seeds. System neutral but geared towards modern horror.
Fifth Fantasy – The Chancer: A new 5e D&D character class, based around the gambler archetypes found in Japanese RPG computer games. This will become a series and, perhaps, a setting if there are a few more sales.
Our entire catalogue (other than the newer items) – easier to browse than the online sites can be downloaded for free HERE.
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There’s a long history of ‘silly’ adventures in tabletop gaming. Even professional modules were often replete with puns, nonsense and other silliness. Some of the most iconic monsters and strange things in Dungeons and Dragons started out as jokes, in-jokes, or silly improvisations and this is something that has become a little lost in more modern times.
This adventure was prepared as an introductory adventure for a new player, hosted in an online session over Google Hangouts (isn’t modern technology wonderful?) As such, it’s full of bad jokes, puns and nonsense relating to online culture and the culture of computer gaming – which they were more familiar with. Still, you may enjoy it and if nothing else it may inspire you to include a little silliness – and some more pop culture references – in your own games.
The Cathedral of Misogyny
The Cathedral of Misogyny is a reference to 4chan. It was intended as a hyperbolic insult to that imageboard but – of course – everyone just thought it was hilarious and embraced it. As a reference to 4chan, it’s a perfect vehicle for re-purposing memes (in many ways the modern equivalent of puns) and using fantasy to make fun of our modern lives and situations. There are, of course, many people who will have no sense of humour about this sort of thing. That’s fine, they can be miserable. I, however, think that there is a great deal of value in laughing both at ourselves and at others – and that’s what this is for. With an irreverent group that can get into the right mood, this should present a great evening or two of fun.
Rough as Toast
‘Rough as Toast’ in this instance indicates a new line of low budget products that are kind of designed to be throwaway ideas, disposable content, silly experiments and so on. They’re not made to such a high standard as normal, but should still be fun. Also cheap.
And while various RPG companies have been sidestepping it to produce things for 5th edition already, this makes it far easier and – more importantly – seems to have learned from the 4th Edition situation with a return to 3rd edition era openness.
Wizards have also created their own, semi-open, online webstore in which D&D material can be sold called the ‘Dungeon Master’s Guild’ though, with a cut of 50% and more stringent rules on content etc, it’s really not that tempting to a publisher like me, save – perhaps – as a place to sling a few short products.
The good thing about it is that it’s just another ‘face’ to Drivethrurpg/RPGNOW, which means an account on one of their sites is an account on all of them. That should help bring more people over to the other sites and increased attention and sales all around. Again though, recent greater pushes for censorship under the Onebookshelf banner is a cause for concern and getting the D&D online sales is another concentration of power in a single place, vulnerable to censorious pressure.
So, what to do with it, now I can play with it?
There’s a couple of projects I’ve been developing for the OSR:
- A ‘city crawl’ inspired by Bloodborne and other Renaissance/Restoration/Victorian horror.
- A post-apocalyptic fantasy hex-crawl across an environmentally ravaged landscape.
- A dark-fantasy waste-world, mingling technology and magic in an interdimensional junkyard city.
A 5th Edition version of Machinations of the Space Princess could be done, though it would be a lot of work for a repeat project and probably not cost effective.
House rules options – like I did in the past for 3rd Edition – might be an option. Some people prefer grimmer and grittier rules more suited to low fantasy and dark fantasy but this kind of thing is more complicated than it seems if you want to retain game balance.
New races are always an option, but it’s hard to create something that truly stands out. The work I’ve done on various fantasy worlds makes me think I could come up with some possibilities.
New classes are popular, but it’s hard to find effective niches for new character types and there’s a lot of competition in creating them. The old Prestige Class system in 3rd Edition was a way around that, but doesn’t exist in 5e, though there are sub-classes to the classes which fulfil some of the same role. It might be interesting to do some anime-JRPG style classes, inspired by Final Fantasy ‘job’ systems though. A new ‘Actual Monk’ is a definite possibility though.
Backgrounds have plenty of room for additions, but are a thin thing to hang supplementary material on.
Equipment can always use additions, but as with background probably needs to be wedded to something else. A deeper crafting system definitely has some appeal.
Mass combat rules would be a useful edition, an updated Feast of Crows might be a good thing to do.
Feats were popular things to create lists of in 3rd Edition, and it doesn’t seem unlikely that they’d be popular again. Again though, a thin thing to hang a whole supplement off.
The Skill system is not remotely as deep or interesting – or adaptable – as 3rd edition and some alternative rules for skills might be a useful thing to introduce.
There’s always room for new spells, or types of magic.
There’s all manner of real and fantastical gods and pantheons to be potentially detailed.
There’s an insatiable hunger for new magic items.
People always need more monsters.
Then there’s adventures, but they never sell well and have limited long term use to purchasers.
If I do anything for 5e, I don’t want it to be the kind of mindless blown-through make-work that a lot of 3e products were. A few of the shorter ideas above appeal – such as the JRPG character classes – but otherwise I’m far more interested in the potential of creating worlds and lore and tapping into the 5e audience that way.
What do you think, what would you be after?