Showing posts with label 5e. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 5e. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Go for the Eyes Boo! New Monster Manual 2025 Cover

 The new cover for the 2025 Monster Manual has been revealed.

Monster Manual 2025

That is Minsc and Boo on the front and a character I do recognize but can't name at the moment.

A beholder makes perfect sense really. 

I know some people out there won't like it call it a "crash grab" but the truth is anyone that cares about that isn't buying this anyway and anyone buying it doesn't care.

Me? I like it! Lots of monsters, a call back to some classic characters. Yeah, this looks great.




Tuesday, May 28, 2024

New Dungeon Master's Guide Cover

 The new cover for the new 2024 Dungeon Master's Guide is now out and features some fan favorites.

Dungeon Master's Guide Cover

So we got Venger, Warduke, and favorite of the Other Side, Skylla!

When I started posting about Skylla years ago, she was a relatively unknown character save for some Old School gamers like me. Now, she is moving up in the world.

I like the red spine. Help differentiate them from my 5.0 books.

Skylla is looking good. I am hoping we will be getting some more of her.  Greyhawk will be the core setting so I am expecting more Tasha/Iggwilv material too. 

Cover Girl Skylla

I'll keep you posted on this new 5R version of D&D. 


Wednesday, May 8, 2024

I Am Now Become Death, Destroyer of Worlds

 Spoken by J. Robert Oppenheimer, quoting from the Bhagavad Gita, it could very easily have been said by Vecna in the latest offering for D&D 5th Edition.

I know I have been down on Wizards of the Coast for the last year and half after they pull some moronically stupid shit with the OGL and Pinkertons, but also for completely dropping the ball on both Baldur's Gate III tie ins and celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. Well, this adventure at least goes a little bit into the right direction.

Vecna: Eve of Ruin

Vecna: Eve of Ruin

Basically, the plot is this. Kas is going to destroy the D&D Multiverse and rebuild it in his own image. You have to stop it.

This is part Marvel's Infinity Saga and part DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths, so it already has my attention. Then in what can only be described as Wizard's trying to win me back, your characters are "hired" by Alustriel Silverhand and Tasha the Witch. Then there is a romp through the D&D Multiverse to reassemble the Rod of Seven Parts. I don't care that I did that once before I also like to rewatch the Doctor Who serial "The Key to Time."

The Wizards Three

So Vecna is the Big Bad. Yeah, I also fought him in the past, but I still don't care, glad he is back. Plus, I can work all the shit he did on Taldorei before this. 

In addition, we have Kas, Tiamat, Count Strahd Zarovich (punching way above his weight class here), Lolth, Lord Soth, Acerak, Mordenkainen, Miska the Wolf Spider, and even a FREAKING ASTRAL DREADNOUGHT.

There are a ton of twists and turns here and I have no idea how it runs, but I love what I am reading. 

This is not the first time D&D has given us big Universe shaking events between editions. The Forgotten Realms had their Time of Troubles, the Spellplague, and the Second Sundering. This one takes it up several notices.

I am a little disappointed that Mystara doesn't show up here, but that is fine I can deal with that.

The adventure is for levels 10-20, so it is meant to be big and deadly.

If I were to run this, I think I would let players pick their favorite characters from any game they have played in the past. It wouldn't matter if they were from the same timelines; in fact, that is a plus. 

And this seems appropriate; play us out, Barry!

No. Not that one. We need to remember the first battle with Vecna and the loss of a great bard.


Sunday, April 28, 2024

#AtoZChallenge2024: Sunday Special, D&D 5th Edition

Our last Sunday we will cover the newest version of the game at this moment, the extremely popular Fifth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

Dungeons & Dragons, 5th Editon

Sadly, D&D 4e did not last, nor did it ever recover the lost players who switched over to Pathfinder and the various retro-clones. While the game made money, it did not make the money Wizards of the Coast and their parent company, Hasbro, wanted. 

In 2012, Wizards announced a massive Open playtest of a system they were calling D&D Next. The materials were given out for free, and they asked for all sorts of feedback. I played an early version of the Warlock class that I liked, but he lost Charisma as he leveled up (I was not a fan of that), but that changed. The company was generating a lot of goodwill at this point, and their stated aim was a D&D that could do anything the previous editions could. 

I went back and forth on whether or not to get the new rules. I am not sure why really, I had every other edition. So I picked up the new Starter Set and I really liked it. Then on August 8th, 2014, at Midnight, my kids and I piled into our minivan, got some tacos at Taco Bell, then drove to our Favorite Local Game Store, and we all bought copies of the new D&D 5 rules.

And it has been a blast. I ran three games of D&D 5, each with a slightly different focus. One was played like and as a 1st Edition game, the other like a 4th Edition game, and one Rules-As-Written (RAW).  Within these rules, I can see elements of all the past editions. I really believe that this time they really tried to get the rules right.

I even got the Spanish Language editions as a gift to help me with my Spanish.

D&D 5e, English and Spanish

This is also the most popular ruleset to date. By any measure, D&D 5e is the most successful version of Dungeons & Dragons ever sold. Maybe to ever be sold if I am being honest. But some of Wizards of the Coast's own actions, starting the 2023 fiasco of trying to "revoke" the Open Gaming License and other debacles, have really destroyed the goodwill they have been building over the last 10 years. 

Since then, even I have talked about converting my last two campaigns over to Pathfinder 2e and Castles & Crusades.

Right now we are in a strange time. 

There have been playtests for what WotC/Hasbro has been calling "One D&D."  Unlike previous versions of D&D, this one is supposed to be backward and compatible with 5e. Many have referred to it as D&D 6th Edition, but 5.5 or (my choice) "fifth edition revised," 5r, might be a better one.

I must say that Wizard's has dropped the ball here for an anniversary, especially a 50th anniversary. There should've been so much more going on this year.

Well, we are only 1/3 through the year, so maybe there will be more.

Tomorrow is Y day, and I am going talk about Yetis and other Cryptids.

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

#AtoZChallenge2024: C is for Critical Role

 One of the biggest cultural phenomenons to come out of modern D&D has been the success of Critical Role. It was successful because of D&D 5th Edition and, in turn, made D&D 5th Edition more successful.

What is Critical Role

Critical Role Cast
The voice actor players.

It is a streamed "actual play" Dungeons & Dragons 5e (for the most part, more on that) game. Each session is about 4+ hours long (resulting in over 2,000 hours of content) and features a group of voice actors: (top L-R, picture above) Sam Riegel, Taliesin Jaffe, Marisha Ray, Dungeon Master Matt Mercer, and (bottom, L-R) Liam O'Brien, Laura Bailey, Ashley Johnson, and Travis Willingham.

They began just as a group of friends (Travis and Laura were either already married or dating, Matt and Marisha were dating) playing a D&D 4th Edition and then a Pathfinder game.  When D&D 5e came out, they moved over to that. You can even see some rule confusion in the early episodes.

Vox Machina
The characters. Can you match who is who?

They soon became wildly popular. How popular? Well there is an Amazon series based on their first campaign ("Vox Machina"), there are several books about and by the Critical Role team, their Gen Con shows are sold out months in advance, and they also sold out Wembley Arena back in October of 2023. A live event to watch a bunch of friends play D&D, and they sold out a space that had previously seen sold-out shows of the likes of Led Zeppelin, Genesis, David Bowie, Queen, The Who, The Grateful Dead, and more.

While they were not the first online Actual Play D&D streamers, they are the biggest, and they made this into not just their own genre of entertainment, but they have been making an absolute ton of money. 

There are three campaigns featuring different groups of characters. Campaign 1 featured the above characters in Vox Machina. Campaign 2 was their big breakthrough campaign featuring the Mighty Nein. This also introduced Laura Bailey's character, Jester Lavorre, the tiefling that inspired a thousand cosplays

There have also been four published books for the D&D 5e game.

Critical Role books

The cultural phenomena that is Critical Role has not been without some critics. There are those that complain that they are not really gamers. Or that they are not really playing. Or that the "Mercer Effect" has ruined what people expect from D&D.

To those critics, I say, "Do you remember exactly when it was when you let fun die in your life?"

Look. The hobby space that D&D occupies now is not the same as it was in the 1980s. This is a good thing. 

People can watch Critical Role and enjoy it without rolling any dice of their own. They can watch the show and then think, "Hey, this looks fun. I want to try this." They can cosplay Jester, Keyleth, or FCG. They can enjoy the Amazon Prime series.

For me, it is all great fun. I started watching the old streams (still on Campaign 1!), and I enjoy them. They have also given me ideas for my own games. Between Campaign 1 and "Stranger Things," there is a whole new generation of D&D fans out there. Yeah, so sometimes I get 20-year-olds excited to tell me all about Vecna (the BBG in both), but hey, they are excited.

The Future

Critical Role has been a huge money maker...for Critical Role. It should not surprise anyone that the Powers That Be at Hasbro (the current owners of Wizards of the Coast and D&D) wanted in on some of that action. So last year in January, Hasbro/WotC wanted to put out some new guidelines on what various creators can do with D&D material, essentially walking back on 23+ years of access and goodwill.  Well, people naturally were angry.  It was enough that I even stopped using the very permissible Open Gaming License to produce my own works and spent most of 2023 working on solutions. Others did the same. One of those solutions for the Critical Role team was to build their own RPG that they controlled and had all the rights to. It is a very good idea.

They began with an actual play series and a new game called Candella Obscura. It is a quasi-Victorian, horror-themed fantasy game, so you know I am interested! I have not played it yet, but we have the hardcover and it looks fun.  You can try it out for free with their QuickStart Guide

Daggerheart and Candella Obscura

Their newest game is called Daggerheart. It is still being playtested, and I discussed it a while back. Will people leave D&D 5 for it? Well, there is some indication that D&D 5 sales dipped in 2023. Was that because of Wizards of the Coast's series of PR blunders or because D&D 5R (One D&D) is due out at the end of this year, and sales ALWAYS dip after these announcements? Hard to say, but it's likely a combination of both. But in any case I wish Daggerheart and the Critical Role team nothing but the best and hope they are wildly successful.

Even if you don't like Critical Role. The Stream, the Amazon show, their D&D 5e content, or new games, you have to like the attention they have brought to this hobby. Even if only 1/10th of the people drawn into this stick around for other games, that is more than we had before.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about a topic that is very near and dear to the hearts of many gamers. Dice!

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.


This is also my first entry of the month for the RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Codex Anathema on Favorite Settings.

RPG Blog Carnival

Sunday, March 31, 2024

#AtoZChallenge2024: Sunday Special, Introduction to Dungeons & Dragons Editions

 I am going to use Sundays of this Challenge to talk about the various Editions of the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) game that have been published over the last 50 years. 

One of the challenges people have when getting into a game like D&D is where do you start? Generally speaking, you are always best starting with the edition that people around you are playing. If they are playing the newest edition (right now, 5th Edition), then great! This will make finding products easier. If it is an older edition, then great! All editions are fun. 

But what are the Editions? Are there 5 then? Well...it is a bit more complicated than that. Hopefully, this graph (making its rounds on social media and started on Reddit.) will help. The editions are all only sort-of compatible with each other. I'll explain that throughout the month. 

Timeline of D&D Original D&D AD&D 1st Edition D&D Moldvay Basic D&D Mentzer Basic AD&D 2nd Edition D&D Rules Cyclopedia (Basic) The Classic Dungeons and Dragons Game (Basic) Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game (Basic) The Dragon's Den (Basic) D&D 3 D&D 3.5 D&D 4 D&D 4 Essentials D&D 5 One D&D (D&D 5.5 or 5R)

So there are, by some counts, 15 different versions of D&D. Some are 100% compatible with each other, some less so. 

For my posts, I am likely to focus on Basic era D&D (1977-1999), Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1988), and D&D 5th edition (2014-2024).  Right now "One D&D" is not out yet. It is due near the end of the year, and by all accounts, it should be 100% backward compatible with D&D 5. We will see. 

Here are a couple of notes for people who don't know (or care) about the differences in these games.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition is the edition made popular by Stranger Things and E.T. the Extra-Terristrial. It was the one popular in media in the 1980s, though there is some evidence that it was D&D Basic (edited by Frank Mentzer, aka "The Red Box") sold better.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is the edition made popular by Critical Role

I hope that this month I can help with some of the confusion and mystery and maybe, just maybe, make so new players out of you all.

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.

In addition to doing the April A to Z challenge, I am also doing the Ulitmate Blog Challenge

Ultimate Blog Challenge

AND

I hope to have some good entries in the RPG Blog Carnival, hosted in April by Codex Anathema on Favorite Settings.

RPG Blog Carnival

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Review: Return to the World of Maximum Mayhem

 I have a slight sidestep today. I have been playing around with something for a bit. You all know I am a fan of Mark Taormino's Maximum Mayhem adventures from Dark Wizard Games. I have been getting his latest in both the 1st Ed and 5th Ed versions, one for me and one for my kids. I have also mentioned that while they are designed overtly for "First Edition Rules" or what I call "The Advanced Era" the adventures top off at the 14th level, making them compatible "in spirit" with my beloved B/X rules.

The obvious solution to this was to run some sort of mutant B/X-Advanced hybrid. The ruleset that won out was Old School Essentials-Advanced Fantasy Edition. While there are some bumps, it is a surprisingly good fit. To be honest, I would love to test out OSE-Advanced vs. 1st Edition vs. OSRIC and see how they all fare with the same sort of character. I have not done this, nor do I think I will. I think that the differences would be so minor as to be unnoticeable in actual play. 

Maximum Mayhem adventures with OSE-AE

But I do have the characters. 

A while back, I introduced a lovely druid couple, Maryah and Asabalom. They were OSE characters from the very start. They have connections to previous characters of mine, but nothing major. I see Asabalom as the grandson (or maybe great-grandson) of my "Beastmaster" character, Absom Sark. Because of this, I am fudging things a little and giving him the ability to wild shape into a wolf at the 4th level. He just doesn't have the control a 7th-level druid does. Right now, he can only shift into a wolf. 

For a variety of reasons that are too minor on their own but added up, these two characters are my natives of Mark's Maximum Mayhem world. One that uses OSE-AE. They are the ones I am taking through these adventures, and their son, Áedán Aamadu, will go through the 5e versions. 

The biggest issue has been finding the time to do these. With his new Kickstarter now live, I figured I needed to get caught up. 

So. I will review these, knowing I really can't go through them anymore. Sorry, Mad Master! I am reviewing these in "campaign order" and not in release order.

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #0: Village on the Borderlands

by Mark Taormino, 64 pages. For levels 1-3. Art by Justin Davis, Jacob Blackmon, Carlos Castilho, Daniel Commerci, Jeff Dee, Felipe Faria, Mark Lyons, William McAusland, Brian McCranie, Matt Morrow and JE Shields. (How's that for a who's-who among OSR artists?)

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #0: Village on the Borderlands 1eMaximum Mayhem Dungeons #0: Village on the Borderlands 5e

First Edition PDF (DriveThruRPG). First Edition PDF and Print Dark Wizard Games Store.

Fifth Edition PDF (DriveThruRPG). Fifth Edition PDF and Print Dark Wizard Games Store. 

The first edition has "blue" maps, and the fifth edition has full-color maps.

A lot of us freely mixed Basic D&D and Advanced D&D back in the early 80s. It was not uncommon then to find groups that had gone through B2 Keep on the Borderlands and T1 The Village of Hommlet. Mark knows this, and this adventure is a nod and homage to that experience.  This is also Mark's biggest adventure to date.

While this could have come off as pastiche or, even worse, a bunch of hamfisted clichés, instead it is a nod and even an homage to not just how much fun those old adventures were, but also to the experiences we all had. Don't get me wrong, there is a great a adventure here; but if you were playing the Keep or the Village or Giants series back in the early 1980s then this will hit differently. 

The is best described as "what if the Village of Hommlet was set outside the Cave of Chaos and not the Keep?"  You have a local village in need of help. There are roving bands of ogres and weird fungi and skeletons. Whats a local farmer to do? Easy, call upon some brave, and expendable, adventurers for help. 

There are some hooks for the adventure but for me they are unneeded. THOUGH I will add that the whole Valley of the Moon was a great hook for me. Not just because the name is similar enough to where my characters Maryah and Asabalom were from, but it is nothing if not a nod to one of my earliest crushes, Moon Unit Zappa

We have all sorts of classic monsters, rumor tables, nods to (in)famous NPCs, tarot readings, standing stones, name puns, an inn to meet in, places to buy equipment and weapons. 

The Inn of the Whistling Pig is wonderfully detailed and loaded with all sorts of characters. In fact, while reading, I half expected to see stand-ins for Duchess and Candella

I said, "Caves of Chaos," but there are only a few caves where a lot of the "out of town" action takes place, and that is plenty. The Hill Giant cave is the first. There is also the Forest of Fallen Oaks, the Ruins of Sternholm Keep, and the Caverns of the Wicked Peaks.

A great non-linear adventure where the party can start at the Inn and head out in any direction to find adventure. They can come back, heal up, spend their loot and go back out, OR keep going. That last one is not advisable as everything here has a good reason to see the PCs dead. 

There are hooks here to other Maximum Mayhem adventures, too.

The plot and organization of the first and fifth editions are the same. The Fifth edition version features color maps.  

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons Mini Adventure #1: Shadow of the Necromancer

by Mark Taormino, 16 pages. For levels 1-3. Art by Phred Rawles, Chet Minton, Adam Black, Brian Brinlee, Carlos Castilho, Bradley McDevitt, and Phred Rawles.

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons Mini Adventure #1: Shadow of the Necromancer 1e Maximum Mayhem Dungeons Mini Adventure #1: Shadow of the Necromancer 5e

First Edition PDF (DriveThruRPG). First Edition PDF and Print Dark Wizard Games Store.

Fifth Edition PDF (DriveThruRPG). Fifth Edition PDF and Print Dark Wizard Games Store

The first edition has "blue" maps, and the fifth edition has full-color maps.

This is a mini adventure, and the first one Mark has done. Much like his Vampire Queen adventure I have used a figure called "The Necromancer" in my own games. Get out of my head Mark!!

These are designed to be played in one or two sessions. We managed to get through it in three short sessions. It has a great "Hammer Horror" vibe to it, and honestly, I rather love it.

The adventure comes with a map, in beautiful old-school blue for the 1st ed version and full color for the 5th edition version. The module is 16 pages (one page for title and credits, one page for OGL , and one-page blank).  The adventure is a simple "strange things are going on! The PCs must investigate!" situation. It turns into "stop the minion of the Necromancer from finishing his evil plans." It's tried and true, and it works fine here.  As with many of the Darl Wizard/Maximum Mayhem Dungeons, the adventure is a deadly affair. Not as deadly as the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen, but it is not a walk in the graveyard either. It is a fun romp and really captures the feel of old-school playing. Both versions are great, and I can keep the 1st-ed version for myself and give the 5th-ed version to my kids to run.

Exactly what you want in an adventure. Despite the size and scope Mark gives this one the same love and attention he does to all his larger adventures.

The plot and organization of the first and fifth editions are the same. The Fifth edition version features color maps.  

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #7: Dread Swamp of the Banshee
Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #7: Dread Swamp of the Banshee

by Mark Taormino and Alan Chamberlain, 48 pages. For levels 4-8. Art by Jacob Blackmon, Brian Brinlee, Ed Lacabanne, Mark Lyons, Brian McCranie, Matthew Ray, and Phil Stone.

First Edition PDF (DriveThruRPG). First Edition PDF and Print Dark Wizard Games Store.

A noblewoman has returned to her family estate and finds it has been taken over by a swamp. Worse, there is an evil banshee stalking the lands. But what is the noblewoman hiding?

This adventure is for characters of 4th to 8th level. But I will say this. 4th and 5th level characters are going to die. This is not a meat-grinder like Hanging Coffins, but it is deadly. There is a mystery here too so, so it is not all fireballs and swordplay. But there is a lot of that too.

Like the adventures of old, there are also new monsters here. Mark always adds a little something like that. I also get the vibe that Mark and Alan were reading a lot of B3 Palace of the Silver Princess. Not for the plot but just the feeling. It works here to be honest. 

In the series, I would run this one after Vault of the Dwarven King and have the characters between the 5th and 8th levels. Not that Vault is easier, just not as deadly as this one. 

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #6: Moving Maze of the Mad Master
Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #6: Moving Maze of the Mad Master

by Alan Chamberlain, 40 pages. For levels 6-10. Art by Jacob Blackmon, Alan Chamberlain, Ed Lacabanne, Mark Lyons, Brian McCranie, and Phil Stone.

First Edition PDF (DriveThruRPG). First Edition PDF and Print Dark Wizard Games Store.

This one is by Alan Chamberlain, who was also on The Dread Swamp of the Banshee and Vault of the Dwarven King. So the feel is right. In fact, until Mark kickstarted his Maximum Mayhem #8: Funhouse Dungeon of the Puppet Jester, THIS was the funhouse dungeon. 

The premise is simple but very effective. A bunch of metal monsters are attacking small towns and villages, and the PCs decide to help. What we get is an honest-to-Gary, Mad Scientist building all sorts of clockwork and autonomous horrors. To get to him, you need to get through his maze of deadly traps and clockwork terrors. 

If the other adventure is a meat grinder, then this one is a food processor. It's brutal, but of course, the fun is just as great.

You could get this one for the circular maze map and all the stats of the clockwork creatures alone (6) for a total of 11 new monsters. 

It's insane, really.

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons - Nearly complete


I am not sure any character can survive this campaign.

Don't forget Mark has two more of these adventures on Kickstarter nowLegend of Seven Golden Demons & Slime Pits of Sewer Witch both for 1st Edition and 5th Edition rules.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Keller the Silent for Wasted Lands

 Working on moving to my Forgotten Realms characters for my upcoming deep-dive into all editions of the Forgotten Realms. I decided to try a few more of those this week. I have already done Sinéad, who will be my eyes and ears in the Realms, plus others that are likely to appear in my games, like NidaJassic, Kelek, and Skylla

Today, though, is something a little different. I wanted to do a monk character (or mystic if I was using the D&D Rules Cyclopedia), but I don't really have any I want to try! There was Kurtzen, the monk I made for AD&D 1st Ed way back when, but he isn't really all that interesting. Spoiler: I was trying for a Night Crawler (from X-Men)-like character, but I never got it to where I wanted. So instead today I will take on a character I "adopted" rather than rolled up. Keller the Silent.

Keller the Silent

I detailed Keller's story a bit back. She is a wood-elf monk (I said she was a Siswa from the adventure B7 Rahasia), and she joined my party in Baldur's Gate 3.

Now, I could do her sheets for a post-2000 game (3e, 4e, or 5e) where elves can be monks, but for now, I will stick to Wasted Lands and see what I get.

Keller the Silent
Keller the Silent

Class: Mystic Martial Artist (from NIGHT SHIFT's Night Companion)
Level: 4
Species: Elf
Alignment: Light
Background: Elf (Wood Elf)

Abilities
Strength: 16 (+2) N
Agility: 18 (+3) A
Toughness: 15 (+1) N 
Intelligence: 10 (+0) 
Wits: 10 (+0) 
Persona: 9 (+0) 

Fate Points: 1d8
Defense Value: 5
Vitality: 30
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +3/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +2 (base) +3 (Agility) +1 (Heroic Touchstone)
Ranged Bonus: +2 (base) +3 (Agility)
Saves: +1 to magic and spells (elf), +2 to Toughness and Agility saves.

Mystic Martial Artist Abilities
Martial Arts, Agile (+3 to Agility), Melee and Ranged Combat, Lightning Fast (+1 to Initiative), Powers: Danger Sense, Supernatural Attacks

Stealth Skills
Climb, Hide, and Move Silent as 1st level Survivor/Renegade

Heroic/Divine Touchstones 
1st Level: +1 to Defence
2nd Level: +1 to bare-handed melee attacks.

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Combat

Gear
Staff, Leather Armor, thieves tools

Wasted Lands Mystic Martial Artists

Now, this is a version of Keller I would have fun playing. The Mystic Martial Artist, while having its origin in Wuxa or Wire-fu cinema, makes for a great addition to my Wasted-Lands-as-D&D game. I admit I wish I could run my upcoming Forgotten Realms games using the Wasted Lands rules. It would be easier than moving through the various editions. 

I really had not considered using Keller in this at all, but this makes me want to. I have to figure out where she is from now and when she joins my little party of explorers. Also, I need to figure out how a character who has taken a vow of silence would work in my games.

On another note, I think I have settled on a Heroic/Divine Touchstone on every other level. It feels really powerful, but it also is a great way to customize characters. Maybe every three levels is also good.

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Nida for Wasted Lands

 I want to get some more Forgotten Realms this month, and this has me thinking about my *other* native Forgotten Realms character, Lady Nida. But maybe before she was a "Lady."

When I did stats for Nida a while back for AD&D 2nd Ed, I wanted her to be a combination of the witches that I didn't play back then: a Witch of Hala and a Witch of Rashemen. To be a witch of Hala, though, you have to start out in a non-spell-casting class. Fine! I wanted her to start out as a rogue/thief beforehand anyway, so that works. I also knew that Nida, along with Sinéad, were going to be part of a party of characters.  Playing Sinéad, though, in Baldur's Gate 3 changed some of my ideas about her.  So now some of these ideas that don't work as well for Sinéad are going over to Nida. 

Nida Sheets

I want to focus on her Rogue/Thief/Renegade side for this build in Wasted Lands. She has some magic already, which might be the reason Sinéad joins up with her band of adventurers, and also why Sinéad has part of her hair shaved off and wears a lot of black leather; she is emulating the friend she met when she first left home.  Maybe I'll even use a "Quantum Cat" version of Johan as the party's cleric. It would be a different version of course, but maybe the same as my Baldur's Gate 3 run.  Note: I DO have a Baldur's Gate 3 version of Nida as well, but I want to try out something different for her in another run, maybe.

But for now, her job is to be a bad influence on Sinéad. 

Nida
Nida

Class: Renegade
Level: 4
Species: Human
Alignment: Twilight
Background: Sorcerous (Grew up in Rashemen)

Abilities
Strength: 11 (+0) 
Agility: 16 (+2) A
Toughness: 16 (+2) 
Intelligence: 17 (+2) N
Wits: 13 (+1) 
Persona: 18 (+3) N

Fate Points: 1d6
Defense Value: 5
Vitality: 23
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +3/+2/+0
Melee Bonus: +2 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +2 (base) +2
Spell Attack: +0
Saves: +3 vs Death effects (Renegade), +2 to Persona saves (Sorcerous background)

Renegade Abilities
Improved Defence, Ranged Combat, Stealth Skills, Climbing, Danger Sense (1-3), Perception, Vital Strike x3, Read Languages, Stealth Skills

Stealth Skills
Open Locks: 30%
Bypass Traps: 25%
Sleight of Hand: 35%
Sneak: 30%

Heroic/Divine Touchstones 
1st Level: Arcane Power: Detect Thoughts
2nd Level: Luck Benefit 1d6

Sorcerous Background
Bonus Arcane Power: Precognition

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Magic

Gear
Dagger, Leather Armor, thieves tools

Wasted Lands Renegades as AD&D Thieves

Nida here is not "Lady Nida" yet, but she is a good thief. In fact, the Wasted Lands Renegade stacks up well to the AD&D thief. Now, if I were in a min/maxing mood, I could have given her Sage and used the divine touchstones to improve her thief's skills. But that didn't ring true to who I think this character is. While she grew up in Rashemen, she is not a sage. She doesn't have spells just yet, but she will stop being a thief soon and switch over to being a Sorceress or Witch.

I'll come back to both Nida and Sinéad and whatever other characters I come up with for my Forgotten Realms exploration.

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Monday, January 15, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Jassic Winterhaven for Wasted Lands

 It is frigid outside. But we are in the middle of winter, so I guess that is expected. It did get me thinking about a few of my winter-themed characters. So let's start this one off with one of my favorites, Jassic Winterhaven, the gnome bard/warlock.

Wasted Lands has rules for using characters other than the proto-humans of the Dreaming Age. I have done some elves and half-elves, but let see what we can do with a gnome.

Jassic Winterhaven sheets

Jassic here is a bit of fun character. In D&D 4e he was a test run of the hybrid class rules of a Bard and a Warlock.  Later on he became a more traditional Bard/Warlock multiclass in D&D 5e. Both worked remarkably well and loved how well Bard and Warlock work with each other.  I did do this in Baldur's Gate 3, but not as Jassic.

Wasted Lands does not have a proper Warlock class. Night Shift does. Also, neither game has a true bard. But there is the Sage, which so far has played very Bard-like.

So, who is Jassic, and how should I re-build him in Wasted Lands? Taking the Sorcerer and saying he has magic but needs to play an instrument to use it is easily done. No extra rules are needed. Sage would cover his languages and his lore and even grant his some extra spells as well as some Renegade/Rogue abilities. So that is all great. Perform? Well, that is a sort of Persona check. Bardic inspiration? Ah, that one is trickier. But let's see what I can do with some Heroic Touchstones.

Jassic Winterhaven
Jassic Winterhaven

Class: Sorcerer / Sage
Level: 4/2
Species: Gnome
Alignment: Light 
Background: Gnome

Abilities
Strength: 12 (+0) 
Agility: 12 (+0) 
Toughness: 12 (+0) 
Intelligence: 14 (+1) N
Wits: 16 (+2) N
Persona: 18 (+3) A

Fate Points: 1d8
Defense Value: 6
Vitality: 23
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +0 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +0 (base)
Spell Attack: +2
Saves: +3 to Spells and Magical effects (Sorcerer), +1 to Wits and Persona saves (Gnome)

Sorcerer Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers (2): Beguile, Precognition

Sorceress Spells
First Level: Arcane Darts, Beast Speech, Prestidigitation
Second Level: See Invisible, Unlock

Gnome Abilities
Night Sighted

Sage Abilities
Languages (14), Lore, Suggestion, Mesmerize Others, Renegade skills at level 1

Sage Spells
First Level: Chill Ray

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: Bonus Skill: Performance
2nd Level: Luck benefit
3rd Level: Additional Luck
4th Level: Magical recovery

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Wanderer

Gear
Shortbow, shortsword, leather armor, 

Wasted Lands Bards

For starters, suggestion helps with some Bardic abilities. The Luck Benefit from the Heroic touchstones also gives a good replacement for Bardic Inspiration. I can have him take it again at higher levels for more use in the day.

I'd have to play this character some more to see how he works out. 

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Kelek for Wasted Lands

 One more magical character. This time, I want to do Skylla's partner in crime, Kelek the Cruel.

Kelek is a fun character. He was the only Dungeons & Dragons action figure I ever purchased when they were new, except for special edition ones that came out later/recently. And I have used him in a few games. In particular, he is the main bad guy in my War of the Witch Queens

Kelek character sheets

Now Kelek, in my games, has a bit of orc somewhere in his bloodline. So he gets better than expected Constitution/Toughness scores and has slightly pointed ears.  In Baldur's Gate 3 I managed this with carefully editing the half-orc facial features. 

In BG3 and D&D 5 he is a Sorcerer. So he gets magic on the fly. I am able to do this in Wasted Lands by having him take the Street Mage or Hedge Mage arcane power. Like Skylla he is a Persona (Charisma) based caster but his sorcery is different than her witchcraft. He is also one level higher at 7.  

Old hands at D&D B/X or BECMI will note that a 6th-level Magic user has the level title of "Warlock," and a 7th-level Magic user has the title of Sorcerer. Works out here as well. 

Kelek the Cruel
Kelek

Class: Sorcerer
Level: 7
Species: Human* (Orc-men)
Alignment: Dark
Background: Sorcerous

Abilities
Strength: 15 (+1) 
Agility: 10 (0) 
Toughness: 14 (+1) 
Intelligence: 15 (+1) N
Wits: 13 (+1) N
Persona: 17 (+2) A

Fate Points: 1d8
Defense Value: 5
Vitality: 32
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +1 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +1 (base)
Spell Attack: +4
Saves: +3 to Spells and Magical effects (Sorcerer) +1 to Toughness saves (Orc-men).

Sorcerer Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers (3): Street Mage, Enhanced Senses (magic), Detect Thoughts

Sorceress Spells
First Level: Arcane Dart, Command, Read Languages, Sleep
Second Level: Beguile Person, ESP, Unlock
Third Level: Concussive Blast, Fly

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: First Level Spell: Chill Ray
2nd Level: 

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Magic

Gear
Robe of Protection, Staff of Sorceries

Wasted Lands Magic-users

Skylla and Kelek

Class-wise, Skylla and Kelek are the same class. At least that is how they are in the Wasted Lands. Consequently, this is also how they were in D&D Basic. Both were Magic-users. It has just been the last few years where they have been different things, warlock and sorcerer respectively.

Just like Basic (and OD&D and AD&D) you make them feel different by how you play them.

Wasted Lands adds an additional level of arcane powers; this is the first split. By given Kelek Streer or Hedge Mage we free him from the need of spell books. Though it also means that his big desire of stealing Ringlerun's spell book is sort of lost. For Skylla I give her the arcane power of innate magic to allow her to use Arcane Darts more, a she would an Eldritch Blast. 

I can further separate them with a few choice Divine Touchstones.  Simplicity is the key to flexibility here. 

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge



Saturday, January 13, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Skylla for Wasted Lands

 Continuing some magic characters, I also want to do one that I have meant to do since Wasted Lands came out. 

Skylla is a character I have talked about a lot here. She is one of the old LJN Dungeons & Dragons figures (who never got a proper figure), was an NPC in the Shady Dragon Inn, and was to appear in the D&D Cartoon. I was talking about her for years before she came back into popularity. Not only have stated her up for various D&D-like/OSR RPGs, I also have her in an "evil run" in Baldur's Gate 3.

While she is a D&D-owned character, I have done quite a lot with her here, and a comparison should be made.

Skylla character sheets

Since I am using Skylla and Kelek together in both Baldur's Gate 3 and my War of the Witch Queens (and Witchlight), I am going to do them both here. Both are magic user, but I also want to highlight their differences.

First up. Skylla.

Skylla is often depicted as a 6th-level Magic-user; this makes her level title "Warlock," which is often how she is described. I my posts on her I have used a variety of classes, but most often a witch. For the purposes of this post I am going to keep her at 6th level.  In the D&D 5e version of her she has Warlock as her class and this is what I went with in Baldur's Gate 3.

Wasted Lands only has a Sorcerer class. So I'll need to make some tweaks to her and Kelek (who will also be a Sorcerer) to make them feel different. 

Skylla
Skylla

Class: Sorceress
Level: 6
Species: Human
Alignment: Dark
Background: Sorcerous

Abilities
Strength: 9 (0) 
Agility: 11 (0) 
Toughness: 14 (+1) 
Intelligence: 12 (0) N
Wits: 15 (+1) N
Persona: 17 (+2) A

Fate Points: 1d8
Defense Value: 5
Vitality: 28
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+2/+1
Melee Bonus: +1 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +1 (base)
Spell Attack: +3
Saves: +2 to Spells and Magical effects (Sorcerer) +2 to Intelligence saves (Sorcerous background).

Sorcerer Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers (2): Innate Magic: Arcane Dart, Begulie Person

Sorceress Spells
First Level: Arcane Dart, Glamour, Gout of Flame
Second Level: Beguile Person, Magic Lock, Paralyze Person
Third Level: Dark Lightning, Dispel Magic

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: First Level Spell: Mystic Senses
2nd Level: 

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Magic

Gear
Robe of Protection, Staff of the Demon, Necromancies of Thay tome. 

Wasted Lands as D&D 

Early on in the Framingham, MA test trials of the anti-Breast cancer drug Tamoxifen it became so obvious that the drug was effective given the obvious differences in the two sets of participants (experimental vs. control) that even though it was a double blind study everyone knew the the drug was working, and working well. They stopped the study and put all the participants on Tamoxifen. 

That is where I am at now in this experiment. 

I am going to say I can emulate any sort of D&D-like experience with Wasted Lands.

Tomorrow, with Kelek, I'll focus less on this obvious point and more on how to emulate different sorts of spellcasters.

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Sinéad Moonshadow for Wasted Lands

Moving out of my continuity to do something newer, but related today.  Sinéad Moonshadow is a D&D character. She began life as an AD&D 2nd Ed character from a previous Character Creation Challenge. I thought she might be some sort of witch/bard or wizard/bard mix from The Complete Wizard's Handbook.  In fact, I imagined situations where she might later run into such characters as Celene, Heather, or Raven. As the last couple of years moved on, I changed my mind about what I would do with her. Now, she is very much my eyes and voice to visit the Forgotten Realms, which I will do more of later this year. 

Sinéad's Character Sheets

And then Baldur's Gate 3 happened. Sinéad was my second full run-through (my fourth starting character or something). I really wanted to see how the Wild Magic Sorcerer worked in the game, and since I was using Sinéad, I also gave her levels of Bard. Honestly it was so great I have dropped the idea of her being a witch at all and instead going full wild Magic Sorcerer and Bard.  

Honestly, the distinction between a "wild magic Sorcerer" and "Natural witch" is largely an academic one. But I am the academic that gets to make those distinctions, and I am cool with it.

So, in my updated backstory, she is a half-elf girl growing up in the Moonshae Isles. She has bursts of magic that she can't control. Even in the magic-rich Realms, this is an oddity. When she accidentally burns down a barn during a bit of uncontrolled magic, she leaves her home.  That much I always had, but where did she go? Well, now I know. Baldur's Gate on the Sword Coast. I only know a little more than that because my Realms lore could be better. 

In many ways, Sinéad is the spiritual god-daughter to Heather, both half-elves, both bards. I might need to try out a Ranger/Bard under 5e or Baldur's Gate sometime in the future.

Sinéad Moonshadow
Sinéad Moonshadow

Class: Sorceress / Sage
Level: 12/8
Species: Half-elf
Alignment: Light 
Background: Sorcerous

Abilities
Strength: 12 (+0) 
Agility: 18 (+3) A
Toughness: 16 (+2) 
Intelligence: 16 (+2) N
Wits: 15 (+1) 
Persona: 17 (+2) N

Fate Points: 1d10
Defense Value: 3
Vitality: 87
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +8/+6/+4
Melee Bonus: +2 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +2 (base)
Spell Attack: +6
Saves: +6 to Spells and Magical effects (Sorcerer & Elf)

Sorcerers Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers (4): Beguile, Detect Thoughts, Enhanced Senses, Shadow Walk

Sorceress Spells
First Level: Arcane Darts, Beast Speech, Prestidigitation, Sleep
Second Level: Eternal Flame, Invisibility, See Invisible, Unlock
Third Level: Concussive Blast, Dark Lightning, Dispel Magic, Remove Curse
Fourth Level: Control Temperature, Dimensional Travel, Renewal
Fifth Level: Passageway, Restore Life, Telekinesis
Sixth Level: Dispel Evil, Instant Death

Elf Abilities
Night Shifted

Sage Abilities
Languages (18), Lore, Suggestion, Mesmerize Others, Read Languages, Renegade skills at level 4

Sage Spells
First Level: Arcane Darts (yes, twice), Chill Ray, Gout of Flame
Second Level: Conjure Flame, Invoke Fear, Magic Locks
Third: Fly

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: 
2nd Level: 

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Magic

Gear
Longbow, shortsword, leather armor, Dog ("Scratch")

Wasted Lands as D&D 5th Ed / Baldur's Gate 3

Again I am impressed with the levels of customization here. I think this Sinéad fares well against her 5e and BG3 counterparts. I did not pick out any Heroic Touchstones for her, but I would do this to cover any Sorceress or Bard powers she is missing like her meta-magic and Bardic inspiration, though I might be able to get this with Beguile.

This is a really good version of her and really one I could see playing. I am going to obviously spend a lot more time with this character and even try her out in various other versions of D&D. But this one right now is my favorite.

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge