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?

#RPG – Powder Monkeys RELEASED! SCHLOCKTOBERFEST

BUY IT HERE

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.
Schlocktoberfest
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.

#RPG – Fifth Fantasy: The Brock RELEASED!

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.

Enjoy!

 BUY IT HERE

#RPG – The Cathedral of Misogyny RELEASED!

CoverthumbBuy it HERE

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.

#RPG Fifth Fantasy: The Chancer – A gambling character class for 5e RELEASED!

gamblerBUY HERE

There are gamblers of all kinds across the many worlds, but a Chancer is something different. Lady Luck is not a god, she is something more and less, though she is embodied by and in many gods. Sometimes she reaches out and touches people with her blessing. For every unlucky person whose life is one of ruin and endless misfortune, there are others with blessed and lucky lives, raised or damned by her fickle favour.

Chancers are gamblers who have been touched by The Lady. Their abilities can be random and unpredictable, but their luck, itself, is predictable. Things tend to go right for them, not always, but often enough to make them, and those around them, supernaturally fortunate.

This book also contains gambling rules, magic items and equipment.

Having a Chancer in your party can easily mean the difference between success and failure and if you’re relying on luck, they’re essential.

Chancers are assets, making things easier not just for themselves but for everyone around them. The randomness of some of their special abilities can disrupt and disorder an otherwise ordered battlefield, usually to your benefit, sometimes to your detriment. They’re good in social situations and can raise money quickly, since they’re far more likely to win games of chance or bluff than anyone else. The trouble with that of course is that it makes enemies who don’t like being cheated.

Fifth Fantasy is intended to be a short series of alternative character classes, which are supposed to emulate the kinds of characters and roles found in classic JRPG and Anime games. As such they are most suited to high-magic games, and games which play up to the style of anime, manga and Japanese computer games.

No world is explicitly described, but the character class books will also contain magical items and some background material that will build an implicit setting – which may be detailed in the future.

You can keep up with Grim and Postmortem Studios in various ways…

Blog: https://postmortemstudios.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/grimachu
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PostmortemStudios/
G+: https://plus.google.com/+JamesGrimDesborough/posts
Buy Merchandise: http://www.cafepress.com/postmortmerch

Board & Card Games: https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/postmortem-studios

Hardcopy: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/grim1031

PDFs: http://www.rpgnow.com/browse/pub/384/Postmortem-Studios?affiliate_id=50144

And should you feel so inclined, you can support my work regularly with a Patreon donation. https://www.patreon.com/grimachu

#RPG – Fifth Edition goes OGL

dungeon-masters-guild-2FINALLY

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?

Brainstorming

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.

Conclusion

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?

(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.