#RPG #DnD5e – D&D Month: Grimdark

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Art by Nikolay Razuev

A new month, a new blog project.

I’m thinking ahead to my next crowdfunded project, though I don’t know when I will get around to it. There’s no harm in thinking on the issues involved though.

5e has taken a step back towards the ‘old school’ style of play and improvisation, coupled with a few story elements from the indie scene. What is, perhaps, missing a bit is the grittier, nastier side of dungeoneering.

The setting I will be creating is a harsh, horrific setting – a closed off city that has been left to the undead, into which criminals, heretics and the foolhardy are cast – never to return.

For this I need a deadlier, nastier take on the standard rules and need to expand them to take other things into account. I want a low/no magic setting, slightly more technologically advanced setting.

This is going to take a considerable amount of changes, innovations and new approaches.

Starfinder month was open, D&D month will be paywalled for Patrons and Minds.com subscribers. Tasters will be here, but the full text will be found there.

#DnD #RPG – Beware the Cakeholder

cJiCX1530197337The Cakeholder

There was a time when the noble houses of many cities would hire specialist chefs to prepare – or conjure – fantastical meals. These were the times of the pastamancer, the saucerer and the Clerical order of the Miracle Whip. None were so prized for their skills, however, as the great culinary wizard, Anton Burdo.

Burdo’s foods were a spellbinding delight, sugarplum fairies that flew into your mouth, fountains of chocolate and his turducken one-upped the owlbear by combining three creatures into one, raised purely for the eating. His garlic-chilli dire-chicken was to die for, and many did die in battle with dire chickens to ensure a steady supply for the high tables.

Then it all went wrong.

The wastage from uneaten food and continuous kitchen-spellcasting began to have side effects, trolls in the pantry, mutations in the wait-staff and then – most spectacularly – the emergence of an entirely new breed of beholder in the sewers beneath the kitchens.

Burdo quit in disgrace and fled to the south in a personal quest to explore as many dungeons and drive-ins, and dragons and dives as he could, providing the spoils to the people as an apology. His lost spellbook is said to be in the hands of a cakeholder and to contain a wealth of lost magic. These apocryphally include:

Splashback, Onion Ward, Chilli Touch, Pilot Light, Condiment Spray, Ray of Frosting, Disguise Food, Expeditious Service, Protection from Haute Cuisine, Food Coma, Unseen Sous-Chef, Enlarge/Shrink Portion, Melf’s Acid Reflux, Animate Food, Barbecue Ball, Leomund’s Tiny Kitchen, Appetising Cloud, Banish Calories, Control Lard, Leomund’s Secret Pantry, Wall of Cake, Create Omnomculous, Otto’s Irresistable Cookies, Finger of Fudge, Ramsey’s Harsh Power Word and Profiterole Swarm.

As to the cakeholders themselves, they continue to proliferate, a strange being made of your actual cake, layer upon layer of sponge, chocolate, jam, cream and berries, brought to some unholy life. An unsavoury beast, in every meaning of the word.

(Not to be confused with other sub-species such as the cupholder or the cuckolder)

Cakeholder
Large Aberration, lawful-delicious or delicious-evil
Armour Class: 16 (Natural Armour)
Hit Points: 180 (19d10+76)
Speed: 0 ft, fly 20 ft (hover)

Strength 10 (+0)
Dex 12 (+1)
Con 18 (+4)
Int 16 (+3)
Wis 15 (+2)
Cha 20 (+5)

Saving Throws: Int +8, Wis +7, Cha +10
Skills: Perception +7, Deception +10

Condition Immunities: Prone
Damage Resistances: Slashing, Piercing, Cold
Damage Vulnerabilities: Bite attacks and bludgeoning.

Senses: Darkvision 120 ft, Passive Perception 17 (Cakeholder’s cast dim light from their candles in a 10 ft radius)

Cakeholders have low-level telekinesis, enough to use kitchen equipment.

Language: Deep Speech, Undercommon, Baker’s Tongue

Challenge 13 (10,000 xp)

Ice Cream Cone: The cakeholder’s central eye creates an area of rich, creamy coolness in a 150 ft cone. At the start of each turn, any character within that cone must make a Constitution Save against a DC of 17 or suffer an ice cream headache (so long as they remain within the area). They are considered to be three levels of exhausted, and this adds on to any existing levels of exhaustion.

Actions
Bite: Despite rampant tooth decay, the cakeholder is still a formidable biter, their remaining teeth honed to razor edges on day-old bran muffins. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, Reach 5 ft, one target. Hit: 11 (3d6) piercing damage.

Eye/Stalk Rays: The cakeholder shoots three of the following magical rays at random (reroll duplicates) choosing one to three targets it can see within 150 feet of it. Roll a d8

  1. Ray of Frosting: A character struck by the Ray of Frosting (DC 13 Dexterity Save to avoid) is covered in a delicious sugary coating. Any character or enemy in a neighbouring space must make a Will Save DC 13 or only be able to grapple and/or lick the afflicted character for their action. The frosting effect remains until a whole turn is spent cleaning it off, or the Dungeon Master rules it has been removed by some other means (or excessive licking).

  2. Ray of Deliciousness: A character struck by the Ray of Deliciousness (DC 13 Dexterity Save to avoid) is made magically delicious. Any character or enemy who has them in their field of view must make a Will Save DC 13 or try to move in and bite them – and only bite them, no other attacks are allowed. The effect lasts for ten turns.

  3. Flesh to Cake Ray: The target of the ray must make a DC 12 Constitution Save or start to turn into cake, appropriate type to be determined by the Games Master. On a failed save they are Restrained and must make additional Constitution Saves on the following two turns. If they fail all three times they are turned into (immobile) cake. While in cake form they have the same weaknesses and immunities as the cakeholder.

  4. Candle Flare: The candles atop the cakeholder flare into brilliant light, lighting everything for 50 ft as bright as day, and sending out a blast of harmful radiance. This harmful blast has an area of 15 ft centred on the cakeholder and creatures within that area must make a Dexterity Saving Throw or take 3d6 radiant damage on a failed save or half as much if they succeed.

  5. Ray of Obesity: A target struck with the Ray of Obesity must make a Strength Save against a DC of 12 or start to become fat. Each time they are struck they gain a level of obesity from ‘A’ through ‘F’. While many halflings and dwarves are healthy at any size, this ray causes unhealthy obesity. Removing this obesity take a month of harsh diet and exercise per level.

    A: Buxom – You have disadvantage on Strength checks.
    B: Plump – You have disadvantage on Strength and Constitution checks.
    C: Rubenesque – You have disadvantage on all physical ability checks.
    D: Big Boned – You have disadvantage on all physical ability checks and move at half speed.
    E: Fat – You have disadvantage on all physical ability checks, move at half speed and halve your maximum hit-points.
    F: Hambeast – You have disadvantage on all ability checks, can no longer move and divide your maximum hit points by 4. You can – however – now reduce all incoming damage by two points, due to a thick, protective layer of blubber.

  6. Tooth-Rotting Ray: A target struck by this ray, provided that they have teeth, must make a Constitution Save against a DC of 17 or take 1d4 damage as though from a disease. A second strike does 1d6 damage and a third rots their teeth out of their head.

  7. Berry Blast: The target of this ray must make a DC 13 Dexterity Save or be struck by a hail of berries. The force with which they are blasted does 1d4 x 1d4 damage and the staining makes them sticky and causes them disadvantage on Charisma-based rolls until they can get clean. They will also be the preferred target of both giant and conventional insect attacks until they are cleaned.

  8. Trick or Treat: A target struck by this ray must roll a d20 to make a Saving Throw on behalf of their rations. Standard rations just roll a d20, iron rations add +2 to their total, both rolling against a DC of 12. If they fail, the rations are turned into sweet, delicious, but fattening treats. They can still be eaten but now require a Strength Save against a DC of 12, or the person who eats the rations gains a level of obesity (see above). This change is permanent.

NB: This is just for fun, but it’s entirely usable if you really wanted to. Hanging out with Satine and Ruty (Rudy?) warped my fragile little mind and reminded me of one of the times I helped with the D&D School Competition back in the 2nd Ed AD&D days. One of the adventures involved a candy/sugar-themed dungeon and a peppermint dragon!

#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.

#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.

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