#My30dayWorld – Do Any People of Your World Revere Nature? How Deeply?

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Nature in this world is extremely dangerous. Even without the mutations and strangeness incurred by the wars of the Philosopher Kings this is a world with megafauna, magical animals, plants and the same natural disasters, plagues, fires and issues that would occur in a low or no magic setting. Mother nature is, very much, a bitch. Nature is something to be tamed, exterminated and beaten into submission for most peoples in this world. It’s a hostile relationship with nature existing as a sort of amoral (rather than immoral), destructive force…

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#RPG #My30dayWorld – How are Taxes and Tributes Collected in Your World?

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How tax and tribute is collected will differ from land to land, but most systems will collect their tithes after the harvest season, monetary and other tribute being a substitute for earlier tribute in the form of grain, rice or other foodstuffs. In the monarchies this will take the form of wandering tax collectors under heavily armed guard – but still a favoured target of bandits, robbers, rebels and other ne’er do wells. Within the cities such efforts aren’t needed, and a tax collector can make their rounds with only a bodyguard or two…

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#RPG – #My30dayWorld – Are Constructs Common in Your World? What is their Role?

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By default, I am not going to consider constructs to be especially common. Giving life to something would require a massive amount of magical energy, energy not typically easy to find – especially compared to the half-life that undead manage, often only able to sustain it through cannibalism, murder, blood drinking or sacrifice. Constructs are – rather – things that have been given a kind of permanent life, lending animation to an otherwise inanimate object like a statue, clockwork, carving or golem…

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#RPG 5e D&D Monster – Glazarn

sewer-monster-800x480Glazarn 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.

Glazarn

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.
Languages: None.
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.

Resistance: Cold.

Vulnerability: Radiant, Fire.

Actions
Bite: Melee Weapon Attack +2 to hit, reach 5ft, one target, hit 3 (1d6) slashing damage.

fangs_by_vederant-d5l5qwv.pngSuggested 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.

Fifth Fantasy – The Alchymyst – RELEASED!

203356Buy it HERE

While others grub around with their burners and their distillations, their purifications and their poisonings the Alchymyst – a true alchemist – seeks knowledge in the basis of all things. The elements. Reducing things down to their basic components – Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Light, Darkness and Magic the Alchymyst can manipulate things on a fundamental level. With this knowledge they can perform remarkable feats, without recourse to magic and without the limitations of magic. The mixtures and chymicals they create only run out when you run out of ingredients and between gemstones and slain monsters… there are plenty of ingredients.

This booklet contains all you need to play an anime/JRPG inspired alchemist character class, along with equipment rules and rules for harvesting they ingredients they need for their concoctions.

If that doesn’t take your fancy, perhaps a gambler archetype, The Chancer would?

Or if not that, how about a race of Badger People suitable for any 5e game?

5e Hacks – Skills & Deadliness

Lockpick_by_InkthinkerDeeper Skills
General skills are fine too, but some people prefer a bit more granularity, to be able to be really good at one thing and to suck at another, to specialise to better describe their characters or to round them out. An alternative to the simplistic, binary yes/no, skill is to provide points to spread between the different skills as the player sees fit.

Another option – given the hugely broad nature of the skills in 5e at present – is to allow for specialisations. These would be narrower ‘sub skills’ that you could take more than once, giving an extra +2 boost to the skill score only in that specialised sub area.

EG: Haluk of the Mountain Tribe doesn’t want to pump a lot of points into general Athletics, but it doesn’t make sense for a mountain tribesman not to be able to climb. So he puts the minimum of one point in, but makes it a specialisation. So he has Athletics (Climb Only) 3.

EG: Frater Dominus doesn’t care about heathen religions other than his own order’s opposite, evil, number. So he has Religion (Order of Light) 6, Religion (Order of Darkness) 6, despite only putting four points into each.

Consider also allowing Intelligence and Wisdom bonuses – and penalties – to affect the skill point pool, for a more skill-oriented game that encourages specialisations.

Barbarian: Skill points 8, +4 each proficiency increase (or 1 per level).
Bard: Skill points 10, +5 each proficiency increase (or 1/1/1/2/1/1/1/2 etc).
Cleric: Skill points 8, +4 each proficiency increase (or 1 per level).
Druid: Skill points 8, +4 each proficiency increase (or 1 per level).
Fighter: Skill points 8, +4 each proficiency increase (or 1 per level).
Monk: Skill points 8, +4 each proficiency increase (or 1 per level).
Paladin: Skill points 8, +4 each proficiency increase (or 1 per level).
Ranger: Skill points 10, +5 each proficiency increase (or 1/1/1/2/1/1/1/2 etc).
Rogue: Skill points 12, +6 each proficiency increase (or 1/2/1/2/1/2 etc).
Sorcerer: Skill points 8, +4 each proficiency increase (or 1 per level).
Warlock: Skill points 8, +4 each proficiency increase (or 1 per level).
Wizard: Skill points 8, +4 each proficiency increase (or 1 per level).

Deadliness
Standard D&D is not especially brutal, once you get past your first few levels. Hit Points are an abstraction that can drive more ‘simulationist’ players to distraction.

A first level Barbarian in standard rules starts with around 12+ hit points. There is not a single weapon that can possibly kill them in a single blow. This is great for heroics, but again – less good for grim and gritty settings and rules. The answer isn’t, necessarily, to reduce hit-points because this sort of range is about right, the answer may be to increase the potential, possible damage that a weapon might do – outside of the context of criticals.

Attacks would do a multiplier of themselves for damage, so a dagger would do 1 (1), 2 (4), 3 (9), 4 (16) damage with bonuses added onto the total at the end.

Multiple dice would roll individually. So a 2d6 maul rolling 3 & 4 on its two dice would do 9+16 = 25 damage, with armour being applied to each dice and the bonus to damage from strength etc being applied at the end – if any damage at all gets through.

To offset the deadliness and to further make the combat classes more effective, it’s necessary to alter the relationship with armour.

As well as making one harder to hit – deflecting attacks – armour now also reduces damage by the amount it increases AC over 10. Padded armour reduces damage by 1, while platemail reduces it by 8. Shields continue to boost AC as normal.

Inspiration points can also be used to completely evade an attack and take no damage.

Criticals are just automatic hits with no additional damage.

Tiny Creatures increase their AC by +2.
Small Creatures increase their AC by +1
Medium Creatures have no modifier.
Large Creatures reduce damage done to them by 1.
Huge Creatures reduce damage done to them by 2.
Gargantuan Creatures reduce damage done to them by 4.

God_of_War-Ascension_25bCreatures with armour (over AC10) reduce damage by the amount it is over 10.

A barbarian stikes a Fomorian with his Battleaxe, he rolls a 5, for 25 damage, +2 for his strength for a total of 27.

A Fomorian is a huge creature, reducing that damage by 2 to 25 and has natural armour 14, reducing it by another 4 to 23, he’s down to 126 hit points.

Our level 8 Barbarian meanwhile has 103 hit points and hide armour, for 2 points of protection.

He gets hit for 3d8+6 (Greatclub)

3(9-2=7)
5(25-2=23)
6(36-2=34)
+6

70 hit points. Leaving him with 33.

He probably shouldn’t mess with giant monsters by himself.

(Sort of) Review: 5e D&D Player’s Handbook

10390393_10152396043581071_7602083816466343216_nHere’s your capsule review of 5e.

There’s nothing particularly new here except an optional, mild nod towards developments in Indie-Gaming over the last 20 years or so in the form of ‘inspiration’. That is rewarding good roleplay, or at least roleplaying according to your character’s personality and background – with mechanical benefits in game, rather than just in terms of experience points. That’s a small, but significant, update to the game in my opinion.

Otherwise there’s nothing particularly new here, the game is a sort of ‘greatest hits’ or a remix in many ways. 3e and 4e were emach radical departures for D&D with 3e arguably being the better modernisation of the two, 5e is much more retro.

On the good side multiclassing doesn’t suck like it did in 4e and ‘build optimisation’ isn’t as broken or as big of a deal (yet) as it was.

On the minus side, the Feats instead of Ability Bonuses thing makes you make a very, very hard choice and removes a degree of character individuality. Also the skill system blows goats, reducing it to a binary yes/no and a level dependent bonus (proficiency) making it more akin to non-weapon proficiencies from back in the day.

The game’s solid and, probably, the right move in the current market.

The presentation is where it kind of gets confusing. I’ll get into some of that a bit later, but it definitely lacks a definitive look and feel of the kind that 3e and 4e had. It’s all a bit… brown, wishy-washy, insipid and uninspiring. The best bits, the bits that actually catch the attention or make you want to play are the few illustrations that are outside the bounds of the Social Justice influence, the huge-ass dragon on page 171 and the little humour-filled B&W sketches for things like the condition effects (which even include some same sex dwarf/tentacle action).

Score
Style: 3/5 (Especially halflings and gnomes. Dude… wtf?!?)
Substance: 5/5
Overall: 4/5

So, into the post-script, because nobody REALLY needs another review of 5e. The ‘meta level’ discussion has been about some of the consultant’s presumed biases (spoiler: they’re not bigots) and the paragraph on gender. This all taking place as part of a much broader discussion about media representations (primarily of women and racial minorities).

This has obviously had a rather big influence on the art direction in 5e and while I have described the art as weak, uninspiring and insipid (and brown) I don’t think this is down to the pressure to diversify the depictions. While it’s true that the illustrations that are less ‘inoffensive’ tend to have a bit more animation and fun to them, the relative variety of ages, body-types and races is well handled and doesn’t feel like tokenism – which is always my big worry when people get into this.

I’d have liked to see more stylistic and sexy illustrations – especially as I like playing sexy male characters when I RP – but that’s a matter of personal taste and I’ll take the hit. Diversity is a good thing, but it needs to make sense in the context in which it is presented and assuming Forgotten Realms is the default, there’s nothing that sticks out like a sore thumb in this.

Besides, the black fighter guy is fucking badass.

Anyway, I made a decidedly unscientific survey of the images in the PHB, breaking it down some, along with my observations. I was looking at visible characters in the pieces, ignoring monsters, basically going on what I noticed, rather than poring over every page with a magnifying glass. Still, here’s the results:

Significant Male Illustrations Vs Significant Female Illustrations

MvF

Significant Illustrations by Race

Note that some illustrations were hard to tell and I gave them the benefit of the doubt. East Asian, Middle Eastern and African style illustrations were present but South Asian and Hispanic style illustrations were largely absent. Normally I’d hate to conflate PoC into one big thing, but it wasn’t especially useful with the sample size here to break it down more. ‘Green etc’ is to cover all the fantasy races with abnormal colours – such as drow and orcs.

racial

Titillation Index

The proportion of images that were, IMO, even mildly titillating or ‘impractical’ versus the number that weren’t. This is very subjective so I had to make a category for ones that weren’t – quite – either. Your opinion may fall either side of the spectrum on that.

Sexy

So what does all this mean, if anything?

D&D 5e has clearly catered – to a degree – to the small by vocal crowd who have been causing ructions. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on your perspective. I like diversity, but have worried about it being done ‘just because’. 5e handles it about as well as we can expect I think, having the added bonus of not really being tied to any explicit setting as, say, something like Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, Middle Earth or Game of Thrones would be. This gives D&D a bit more wiggle-room than a lot of settings to include diversity without shattering suspension of disbelief.

Not every game has that going for it and while D&D has handled it well the overall presentation isn’t that inspiring and since writing the review section of this post my opinion was swished the other way. Given that the better illustrations with more interest, inspiration and panache ARE the ‘sexier’ ones, perhaps the ability to excite and engage an audience has been sapped a little by this concern.

D&D always sells well, relatively speaking (even 4e) so it’s not a great benchmark for the rest the industry. It will, however, now be cited whenever someone wants to try and influence art direction in another project so the best I can suggest is wary, cautious optimism.