Monday, December 29, 2014

GotWK Campaign Part 2: Blood on the Rails

This is an account of part 2 of my ongoing campaign set in my homebrewed wild west setting, Guns of the Western Kings.  Get caught up with part 1 here.  

Vulture-Tribe Orc Berserker - Kent Hamilton
When we last saw our heroes - Face, Blair, and Heather - they had vanquished a bandit gang of hobgoblins and kobolds in the Sunbeam Silver Mine and discovered that the old mine, long thought to be played out, was still producing silver.  That night, Blair struck off on his own, still convinced that he was evil inside and hoping to save his companions from himself (translation: Blair's player wanted to play a different character).

The next morning, Face and Heather sat in the sheriff’s office.  Sheriff Flant sat across from them, his dirty old boots propped up on his messy desk.  Two of the hunks of silver ore that they had liberated from the Sunbeam Silver Mine rested atop a stack of coffee-stained papers.  Flant took another puff from his pipe, then wheezed, his grey moustache bouncing along with his rattling cough.

“I have to say, everyone in town is mighty pleased that you found silver in that mine, seeing as we was all told it was played out.  Silver was the lifeblood of Sunbeam; without it we been withering up, fixing to expire.  Problem is, that mine is still property of the Deuclair Mining Company.  Mr. Deuclair bought up the whole damn mountain less’n a year after the first silver strike.  Course, weren’t two years after that the mine up an closed, citing a lack of ore, which we can clearly see is no longer the case!”  He laughed and tapped the ore with his foot.  “We cain’t draw none o’ that silver out without oversight from Deuclair.  Our town’s got hope again, but hope’s gotta go through a whole mess o' clerks and lawyers afore it can reach the people.”  He paused and took another puff from his pipe.  “Course, being as the silver ore you liberated was already mined, that’ll fall under spoils of war.  No need to notify Mr. Deuclair on that account,” he winked.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Escape from the Lair of the Krampus - A Holiday D&D Adventure

Happy Boxing Day, everyone!  My Boxing Day present to you is my holiday adventure, "Escape from the Lair of the Krampus!"  It is available to download for free from my Patreon page.

"Escape from the Lair of the Krampus" is a short dungeon-crawl for four to six 7th level characters.  The adventure comes with eight pre-generated characters for your group to choose from, but I have also included guidelines for creating your own characters to run through the game with.  Last night, I ran (part of) the adventure for some very cool friends and family members, some of whom played the pre-generated characters and some of whom played their own characters - it works fine either way.

"Escape from the Lair of the Krampus" is the first part of a trilogy of Christmas adventures I have planned.  "The Chaining of Krampus" will come out for Christmas 2015, and "Assault on the Fortress of Christmas" will come out the following year.  They will use the same characters advanced to 10th and then to 13th level.  I'll try to have them out sooner next time.

I should note that one of the reasons it took so much longer than I anticipated to get this adventure ready for you is that I created five original monsters specifically for this dungeon, including the figgy pudding and the frostjack.  Expect more original holiday monsters in adventures to come!

-your holly-jolly d20 despot

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monster Monday: Frostjack - the Frost-Touched Fey

As a bonus preview for my upcoming Christmas adventure, "Escape from the Lair of the Krampus", today's Monster Monday is the frostjack, a frozen fey creature based on the legendary figure of Jack Frost.  This is one of five brand new monsters I have statted up for this dungeon (one of the big reasons for my lateness in getting the adventure written up.  Expect it before Christmas!)

Here's a lovely picture of some ice crystals,
because I can't find a good jack frost picture that isn't from some Legend of the Guardians fanfic.  
The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Escape from the Lair of the Krampus - TEASER

You stand in ankle deep snow across the street from the orphanage, the midnight moon casting its silver light across the quiet northern town.  You check the note again:
Season’s Greetings, Adventurers!
Santa has a very important mission for you.  Meet Santa across the street from the orphanage at midnight.
-Santa Claus

The note is brief and cryptic, but the ornate, flowing script seems to call to you from the depths of your childhood memories.  The whole thing is absurd, yet you hold out hope that it can be real.  

Just then, you hear the faint jingling of bells behind you.  Out of the shadows steps a tall man in a long, red, fur-trimmed cloak, leaning on a crooked staff of holly.  “Ho, ho, ho!” He laughs, his thick white beard tumbling out over the clasp of his cloak like an avalanche.  A warm feeling comes over you, the cold of the snow completely forgotten.  It is Santa!

“Santa is glad you came, brave adventurers!” Santa begins.  “You are familiar with the Krampus?  The diabolic holiday spirit who punishes naughty children?  Santa’s elves report that the Krampus has been getting a tad… overzealous lately.  It seems it is much easier to land on his naughty list than Santa’s!  Ho, ho, ho!  Well now, Santa’s bag has been stolen, and the elves suspect the Krampus.  Santa can’t deliver presents without that bag!  This is where you come in.  Santa needs you to get captured by the Krampus and search his lair for my bag.  If you find it, escape and bring it back to Santa.

“How will you be caught by the Krampus, you ask?  Well, you’ll just have to do something particularly naughty.  Which brings us to this orphanage…”

There's no post today because, as I mentioned last week, I'm working on a Holiday one-shot adventure called Escape from the Lair of the Krampus.  The adventure is designed for 4-6 seventh-level characters, and it will be available on this website as a PDF sometime later this week next week, because it's taking me longer than I expected.  

If you're a GM on the lookout for a Holiday adventure for your group, check back later this next week!  If you are in my gaming group, I will be running this game for you later, so maybe don't check back.  

-your naughty d20 despot

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monster Monday: Figgy Pudding - The Holiday Monster that Really Brings It.

'Tis the season for holiday-themed D&D adventures!  You've heard of the deadly black pudding, but today's Monster Monday is its lesser-known Christmastime cousin, the Figgy Pudding, a truly terrifying dessert wreathed in alcoholic flames that are sure to fill you with seasonal warmth.

illustration by Kent Hamilton
Consider this a preview of next week's post: a short little one-shot Holiday dungeon crawl I'm calling ESCAPE FROM THE LAIR OF THE KRAMPUS!

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Sandbox Campaign Part 12: "We're Getting the Band Back Together!"

It's been a while since we last saw The Graverobbers, the famous adventuring party in my sandbox campaign.  You may want to refresh your memory.  As it has been over a year since the last session of this campaign, I thought it fitting to rejoin the party members a little over a year after Sigrid and Hardrig's wedding.  

Kat awoke, as she so often did, to the noonday sun right in her face.  She grumbled death threats to whatever hotel architect put a skylight right above the penthouse bed.  She looked over and saw a man sleeping in the bed next to her.  She didn't remember his name.  All in all, a normal start to the day for one of the most popular bards in Karcerinburg, capital city of the Kaldish Empire.  As she rubbed the sleep from her eyes, she spotted a note that had been slipped under her door.  She ran over to read it.

It said, in a practiced, lunate hand:

The note:

Kat - 

You are in grave danger! Gather the others, meet me tonight at the center of the hedge maze, before the Moon Maiden reaches her height.


Kat was elated.  The note must be from Chernyx, the undead rogue/cleric of the Moon Maiden who had befriended the party, and whom Kat had killed and raised from the dead.  She ran to the bed to kick the mystery man out of her room, but as she did so she saw a shadow fall across the bed.  Seconds later, the leaded glass panes shatterd and a black-garbed figure leapt nimbly down onto the bed, brandishing two shortswords menacingly.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Swashbuckler - A New Base Class

I really like swashbucklers as a class, and I was disappointed with Pathfinder for a while because the closest thing to a swashbuckler they had was a lackluster rogue archetype.  Of course, I made my own homebrewed conversion of the swashbuckler from Complete Warrior for use with Pathfinder rules.  Then, a few months ago, Paizo released the Advanced Class Guide, promising ten new classes based on combining other existing classes, including a swashbuckler!  Well, that's out now, and the swashbuckler is the only one I've looked at, and... I don't really like it.

We've got a problem right off the bat in that the swashbuckler is a combination of the fighter and the gunslinger, and I don't like the gunslinger.  It's not just because of the fact that the feel of the gunslinger is totally wrong for most campaign settings, it's also that I don't like their Grit ability.  I'm okay with the 'pool' mechanic for magical or mystical abilities, like the Magus' Arcane Pool or the Monk's Ki Pool, but not with physical abilities.  If I'm playing a gunslinger and I ever say to myself "Oh, I can't do that cool thing I do with my guns because I haven't scored a critical hit or a killing blow recently," that would take me out of my character.  It's a gamey mechanic and it feels wrong and 4th-edition-y.  Well, the new swashbuckler class uses a similar mechanic called 'panache', which is just terrible.  "Sorry, I can't perform that deed right now, I don't have enough panache," said no swashbuckler ever.  Aside from that, the class is generally pretty boring.

Naturally, I decided I would do a blogpost introducing my homebrewed swashbuckler to the world.  I opened it up to look it over, and immediately changed my mind.  My old swashbuckler was basically a word-for-word copy of the swash from Complete Warrior with a few modifications and the ability to take rogue talents.  So I scrapped it and built a new, original swashbuckler base-class from scratch!

Illustration by Kent Hamilton
The following text in gold and the associated table is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.

Monday, November 17, 2014

How to Run Naval Combat, Part 1

London, British Library, Royal MS 10 E. IV, fol. 19r
The general public's knowledge of Medieval naval combat probably derives from pirate movies and swashbuckling adventures, things centuries removed in setting and technology from the Middle Ages.  So how did people fight at sea in the Middle Ages, and how can we use that knowledge to make naval combat in D&D more interesting?  Well, not to brag, but I've recently written an award-winning Master's thesis on medieval naval warfare, and I'm obviously an expert on D&D because I run this blog, so allow me to drop some knowledge on you.

First, let me say that I know historical accuracy is not what a lot of people are looking for in their D&D game.  I would never recommend sacrificing fun on the altar of scholarly pedantry.  But when you look into it, adding a dash of accuracy can actually make things more interesting - as it turns out, people in the past really knew what they were doing.  Today, I'll talk about how naval combat worked in the Middle Ages, dispelling a few myths and anachronisms.  In a later post, I'll talk about how to mesh that information into a world where magic and monsters are very real things.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Conquistador Campaign

We awoke to the smell of smoke, one of the scariest things you can wake up to on a ship except for the feeling of rushing water or the lookout's cries of "KRAKEN!"  We ran abovedecks and saw, to our relief and astonishment, that the smoke was not coming from our ship.  Before us loomed the coast of the New World, and the horizon was on fire.

"Go back to sleep, they're just burning the jungle back," said one of the crew dismissively.  "We'll be at Paradiso in the morning."

Our party consisted of three people: Scoria Stoneturner, a dwarven archaeologist who was coming to find her missing thesis supervisor, Professor Alfonse Stonescribe; Pico de Gallo, a foppish changeling swashbuckler with delusions of glory; and Quetzalcoatl, a brightly coloured tengu ranger who would be our native guide.

Pictured?       via poohadventures.wikia

Regardless of our personal goals, we (well, we two non-natives) had been drawn to the New World with the promise of streets paved with gold, glory and riches free for the taking, and, most importantly, absolutely no snakes or spiders.  As we stepped off the dock that morning, we realized that the New World might have been oversold a little.  Paradiso was a grimy town dominated by massive smelting furnaces constantly belching acrid smoke into the air.  No matter how many Perception checks we made, we couldn't detect a single gold paving stone.  But we did see an army of downtrodden workers collecting charcoal from last night's jungle burn to feed the insatiable furnaces.  The main conflict in our homeland and its colonies was between the rationalist mages, who want to study the treasures of the New World and investigate the natives' magic system, and the Church of Horus, which seeks out native magic items, disenchants them, and melts them down into relics for the glory of the Church.  It was clear which party held sway here in Paradiso.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monster Monday - Embalming Ooze and Pickled Zombie Template

Earlier this week I released a one-shot nautical horror adventure called Horrors of the Floating Garden.  Some of the monsters therein are pickled zombies, the reanimated corpses of preserved biological specimens.  I neglected to include the template I created for pickled zombies, so I'm presenting it here along with a sample pickled dire rat and an entirely new monster that creates pickled zombies out of the corpses of those it slays.

The curators at the British Natural History Museum insisted that this was not the star spawn of Cthulhu
The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Horrors of the Floating Gardens - a d20 Despot Halloween Adventure

Illustration by Kent Hamilton
Happy Halloween, players and GMs!  In the spirit of the season, I've created a brand new nautical horror adventure that you can play tonight!  Or any night, really.  Even during the day, if you wanted.

Apologies for the lateness of the post - I promised on Monday to post this sometime before Halloween, but it took a lot longer to get ready than I expected.  I suppose, technically, as Halloween stands for All Hallows'  Eve, and it is not yet evening where I live, I'm in the clear.

The adventure is available below as a PDF, with a series of maps as separate images.  One of the reasons I took so long is that I had ambitions of creating a professional-looking, publishable adventure, but after much lost sleep and hasty statting-up, I have decided to wait and pretty it up later.

I began playtesting the adventure last night, and it went quite well, though we were only able to make it about half-way through in five hours, so be warned that this one-shot adventure is pretty long.

You many notice that one of the pre-made characters is a swashbuckler, but not the swashbuckler that they've released in the Advanced Class Guide.  This swashbuckler is a sneak peak at my upcoming, original homebrewed class that I hope to have available to you sometime soon.  My patrons on Patreon can currently view a PDF of the Swashbuckler on my Patreon page.

Alright, the adventure is below!  I only ask that people who are currently playtesting this with me, or who are likely to play this with me in the near future, not read the adventure.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Horrors of the Floating Garden: Teaser

Illustration by Kent Hamilton
You awaken, as you have ever since the shipwreck, in your small rowboat.  The seas around you are placid and waveless, as smooth as a silver mirror, but the fog is so thick that you cannot tell whether it is day or night.  The lamp hanging from the prow of your boat still burns, casting a shimmering golden disc on the water around you.  Bobbing alongside your boat is a corpse, floating face down, a hole the size of a gold piece bored into the back of its skull.  The boat striking it must have been what disturbed your slumber.  In passing, you think it strange that the sharks have not come to feast on the body.  But then, maybe the sharks know something you do not.

Just then, you notice a massive hulk of a ship rearing out of the fog.  Could this be your salvation, at long last?  You silently rouse your companions and point out the dark vessel.  As you draw closer, you notice that there are no lights aboard the ship, and the whole thing is covered with vegetation.  Thick vines wind up the three masts, blankets of moss hang from the forecastle, and mushrooms sprout from the hull. 

There's no post today because I'm working on a Halloween one-shot horror adventure called Horrors of the Floating Gardens.  The adventure is designed for 4-6 third-level characters, and it will be available on this website as a PDF sometime later this week.  

If you're a GM on the lookout for a Halloween adventure for your group, check back later this week!  If you are in my gaming group, I will be running this game for you later, so maybe don't check back later this week.  

-your derelict d20 despot

Monday, October 20, 2014

Polearm Feats and Polearm Ranger Style

Hello, dear readers.  Long time, no see.  I'm pretty well settled back on my home continent now, sadly very far away from any castles but very close to all my RPG books.  I'm sorry for the lack of updates recently, but that changes now.  I'm getting back on schedule and bringing you more content every Monday.

Today, as I promised long ago, I've written up a selection of feats centered on making polearms a more appealing weapon choice for adventurers.  While all of these feats are great for people that use polearms, a number of them will also be of interest to adventurers who don't keep their weapons on the end of a ten-foot pole.

And, now that polearms have more feat support, I've also made a polearm fighting style for rangers.  I know at least two of my players have expressed a desire to play a polearm ranger and been frustrated by the lack of options available to them.  Rangers seem like they would be well-suited to polearms; they tend to seek out and fight a lot of scary stuff, and in my experience it's often best to have ten feet of weapon between you and scary things.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Crumbling Construct - A Template for Ancient Golems

First off, wow, I am way behind on my posts.  Sorry about that.  Things are pretty hectic at d20 Despot HQ right now (currently a hotel room down the street from Beaumaris Castle on the Isle of Anglesey).

Moat may contain otyughs
I know I said recently that you would be seeing a new PC class here soon, but that has been delayed due to technical difficulties.  As soon as Kent sends me the awesome illustration, I'll post that new class for you, no matter what day of the week it is (there is a complete PDF of the new class, minus illustrations, on my Patreon available for $1+ patrons).  Updates over the next few weeks will be sporadic or entirely absent, as they have been for most of this month.  I happen to be moving to a different continent soon, so please forgive my irregular schedule.

For today's update, inspired by a recent trip to the British Museum, I've created a 'Crumbling' template that you can apply to any constructs to nerf their power, making them appropriate for lower-level parties, and giving them that ancient feel which you might expect them to have from waiting around in an eroding tomb for 3000 years or so.  Due to my aforementioned hectic schedule, I've only been able to test this new template on the stone golem and caryatid column, so the CR adjustments might need some tweaking (determining Challenge Ratings is an inexact science in any case, especially so when working with templates).

The following material given in gold text is available as Open Game Content under the OGL.  Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.  Crumbling stone golem and crumbling caryatid column are based on material published in Pathfinder Bestiary 1 & 3, (c) Paizo.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Monster Monday Friday: Spinosaurus, the Aquatic Predator

It's not Monday yet, but I just read some new findings about Spinosaurus that place it squarely in the 'aquatic predator' camp, not the 'run at you T-Rex style' camp, mainly because Spinosaurus probably couldn't run.  You know how excited I get about prehistoric stuff.

Art: Davide Bonadonna, National Geographic, via
Obviously, I had to modify the existing stat block for Spinosaurus to take these new findings into account.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. It is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars, based on material published in Pathfinder Bestiary 3 © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors Jesse Benner, Jason Bulmahn, Adam Daigle, James Jacobs, Michael Kenway, Rob McCreary, Patrick Renie, Chris Sims, F. Wesley Schneider, James L. Sutter, and Russ Taylor, in turn based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Fixing the Weapons Table, Part 7: Daggers and Short Blades

Whew!  I just finished my dissertation and boy am I tired, so this article might be a bit brief, but it's still important.  You probably know my whole Fixing the Weapons Table spiel by now: the weapons table in Pathfinder is broken, I think I know better than the team of professional game designers that wrote it, etc.

Today's article comes from a struggle I've been having with myself (and the weapons table, of course) over the various types of daggers and how best to simulate them in-game.  Specifically, I wanted to incorporate the long, pointy stiletto dagger and the iconic, wavy kris dagger.

The kris modeled here by Jafar                 Aladdin - Disney
In the end I had to move some things around and add some new stuff, and it really fleshed out the dagger and short blade options available to your characters, be they old-man assassins or merely powerful sorcerers disguised as old-man assassins.

The following material given in gold text is available as Open Game Content under the OGL.  Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Monster Monday: Orang Pendek - The Hairy Forest Man

Lately, in my spare time, I've been doing some research for the Southeast-Asian-themed region of my campaign setting.  As a direct result of that, today's Monster Monday is the Orang Pendek, a mythical forest-man creature from the jungles of Sumatra, which I have imagined as an intelligent orangutan-like ape capable of making and using tools.

'Orangutan Attacked by Dyaks' by Joseph Wolf, via Wikimedia
I've also made a new intelligent animal subtype that allows for animals with an Intelligence higher than 2 without making them Magical Beasts, because language and tool use are not magic.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Guns of the Western Kings - What is it?

A few weeks ago I posted an account of the first play session in my new campaign setting, Guns of the Western Kings, promising that I would explain more about the setting later.  Well, later is now.  Last time, I explained that GotWK (pronounced gotwik) is not Eberron, not steampunk, and not Deadlands.  I want to expand on that a bit, just for clarity's sake:

GotWK is not Eberron.  Eberron is a campaign setting that made its debut during the age of 3rd edition D&D.  It was groundbreaking in tone, inviting players into a high-magic, high-fantasy setting heavily inspired by post-WWI pulp adventure.  Eberron took magic to great extremes, filling the world with magical robots (that you can play as), airships, and trains powered by bound elementals.  GotWK, while similarly bringing a fantasy world into a more modern setting, is not a high-magic world of airships and sentient robots.  Magic, in the world of GotWK, did not advance exponentially as technology did.  It has the same basic presence in and effect on the world as it does in an average game of D&D or Pathfinder - magic items are expensive, wizards are holed up in their towers, and magical beasts are terrifying and dangerous.  The trains in GotWK run on coal.  Speaking of coal...

GotWK is not steampunk.  The level of technology is the same as the real world American West in the 1870s-80s.  Although I wouldn't rule out coal powered automatons and airships, they certainly won't be commonplace.  Steampunk can be pretty cool when it's done right, but it is rarely done right.  Besides, if GotWK were steampunk, it wouldn't be western anymore.  There are no giant mechanical spiders in GotWK, as far as I know.

Warner Bros via Unmuseum
GotWK is not Deadlands.  Deadlands is a Western RPG set in an America where suddenly, after the Battle of Gettysburg, the dead started rising from their graves and magic was unleashed upon the world.  It has its own system of magic, its own classes, and its own rule system (although it was later adapted into d20, GURPS, and Savage Worlds).  Where Deadlands is about the real world suddenly becoming magic, GotWK is about a fantasy world that advances to the point that it has a Wild West.  It is not its own RPG, it is a campaign setting for the Pathfinder roleplaying game.

So now that we are clear on what Guns of the Western Kings is not, let's talk more about what it is.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fixing the Weapons Table, Part 6: Medieval Gunpowder Weapons

Depictions of gunpowder weapons in fantasy RPGs are plagued by a number of issues, not the least of which is a general overestimation of their power and efficacy.  This is because people think, "Guns and gunners replaced swords and knights, therefore guns must be more powerful."  This is a reasonable line of thinking, but it is not correct.  The reasons why guns became the dominant weapon on the battlefield are many - too many to go into here, in fact - but for our purposes, it is important simply to recognize that guns did not become dominant because they did more damage than the other weapons of the period.  Even today, in this wonderful technological world we live in, I would rather be shot in the chest than be struck with a battle axe.

Knights actually co-existed with guns for centuries, and for the most part they could get by with only a few dents in their armour to show for it.  Even in the 17th century, many soldiers wore steel armour which protected them from bullets.

Royal Armouries - Leeds
Although later guns were getting better at penetrating armour, the decline of armour in warfare had less to do with the power of guns and more to do with the weight and expense of the armour itself.  It is only in recent decades that sending soldiers into battle in suits of armour has come back into fashion.

That said, you may be starting to guess that I have some issues with the way Pathfinder deals with gunpowder weapons.

Actually, not as many as you might think from the above paragraphs.  For the most part, the damage these weapons deal seems reasonable on the whole, with a few exceptions.  A lot of the weapons have x4 crits, which seems fine for modelling gunpowder weapons - if they hit you right, they can hit you hard.  Sure there are a lot of things I could nitpick (in what world does a musket do more damage than a rifle?), but I'd rather just scrap the whole thing and start over.  So let's kick off Part 6 of Fixing the Weapons Table.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Guns of the Western Kings - First Play Session in a Brand New Campaign Setting

I've been working on a secret project for a while now: a Wild West campaign setting for the PFRPG.  I'm calling it "Guns of the Western Kings" (formerly: "Gunslinger", but that is a little too close to some other trademarked names.  Plus Pathfinder has since come out with an ill-conceived class of the same name).  Here's a picture I drew when I first came up with the idea about 4-5 years ago, which still gives a pretty good idea of what this whole thing is about:

(No longer called Gunslinger and no longer being developed for D&D 3.5)
I thought maybe the best way to introduce you to the campaign setting was to tell you how my first playtest of it went.  But first, I feel I should clear up a few things.  This is a campaign setting for the PFRPG, not a new roleplaying game system.  It uses the same rules and has many of the same races, classes, and monsters.  It is not steampunk, it is not Eberron, and it is not Deadlands.  It is an original fantasy world, not a magicked-up version of the late 19th century American West.  The world of GotWK is one of kings and presidents, dragons and locomotives, wizards and six-shooters.

But I'll tell you more about it later.  For now, let's hear how the first play session went!

Monday, August 4, 2014

4 Rules You Probably Aren't Using Correctly (And Why You Should)

You know the problem with rulebooks?  There's just so many darn rules!  I know how it is - some rules are just too complicated or time consuming to enforce.  Maybe you were a new GM and you jettisoned those minor rules that just slowed things down.  Maybe you were running a game for some new players and you didn't want to scare them away with these extraneous rules.  And then you sort of let them slip away, because the game worked just perfectly without them.

Well... I think it's time to re-evaluate some of those rules.  I've played a fair amount of D&D in my time, and I've read of and heard a lot of other peoples' stories as well.  From the experiences of myself and others, I've identified a few rules that often get ignored (not all the time - very possibly not even in your games - but often).  Now, I totally understand why these rules don't always get used: I've neglected many of them myself.  But they were written for a reason, and I think they might benefit from a little extra love.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Monster Monday: Ichthyosaurs - Prehistoric Sea Monsters

"Two prehistoric sea monsters in a row?  What is your problem, d20 despot?" you might be asking.  To that I say "Shut up, sea monsters are awesome.  Especially when they're prehistoric.  It's not my fault you don't run more aquatic caveman campaigns."

"I'm sorry," you might reply, "I won't complain anymore that you are spending so much of your free time making awesome monsters and giving them to me for free."

Wow, what a great segue into some site business before we get started on today's Monster Monday.  Last week, I put d20 Despot on patreon and asked you to tell me what kind of rewards you would like to see for backers.  If I don't get any feedback by the end of the month, I'll default to the 'occasional gifts of random content' option, with a distinct probability of me adding more rewards tiers when I'm less busy/actually have backers.  So go on over and leave your feedback, or sign up to Patreon and become a backer of d20 Despot!

All self-promotion aside, today's Monster Monday is actually a 3-for-1 deal, because there is such a variety of Ichthyosaurs that I couldn't stat up just one.  So we've got your basic dolphin-sized Ichthyosaurus, your much larger, deep-diving, gigantic-eyes Ophthalmosaurus, and (as a variant option) your saw-nosed Eurhinosaurus.

Heinrich Harder (1858-1935) via Wikimedia
The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

d20 Despot is Now on Patreon

I'm pleased to announce that d20 Despot is now on Patreon.  Mostly I'm pleased because that means you can give me money if you want.  'What is Patreon?' you may find yourself asking.  Patreon is a service that seeks to return to the days where artists were given patronage by great men and women who had a lot of money and enjoyed the finer things in life, only this time the artists are internet content creators and the patrons are their viewers (and you don't need to have a lot of money to do it).  It's sort of like an incremental, ongoing kickstarter.

"How does it work?"
If you aren't already on Patreon supporting all your favourite artists, go over and sign up!  Once you're signed up, head over to, determine how much you would be willing to donate to my cause, and click "Become a Patron"!

Sadly, I don't think their scripts can handle die rolls.
You can donate any amount you want (but I think any donation that adds up to less than 30 cents per month actually costs me money, so please don't do that).  In my case, you would be donating that amount per blogpost.  Don't worry: I won't start posting tons of new posts just to take all your money, and I won't count boring ol' newsposts like this one.  In fact, you can set an upper limit to your monthly donations just to be sure you won't go over budget.  And if you ever get tired of me, just cancel your patronage (note: please don't cancel your patronage).

Monday, July 14, 2014

"Yes, We're All Individuals!" - Reskinning and Reequipping Monsters So They Don't Get Boring

"Hey, remember that time we fought those skeletons?"
"Yeah, I almost died.  It was bloody ridiculous."
"No, you're thinking of the skeletons we fought back in Derdinn's Keep.  I'm talking about when we fought the skeletons in those crypts back when we were second level."
"You mean third level.  There were three skeletons and two zombies."
"No, second level.  The ones with rusty scimitars."
"They've all had rusty scimitars."
We can't all work our way though the Monster Manual from cover to cover; sometimes in our campaigns we have to throw the same kind of monsters at the party that they have already fought.  But that doesn't mean they have to feel the same.  Too often as GMs we become satisfied with presenting monsters just as they are presented to us in the Monster Manual or Bestiary.  But no matter how good a dish is, eating it over and over is going to get bland.

Take a look at these skeletons.  We've got your typical shambling skeleton in tattered scraps of armour:
Duty-Bound Dead, by Johannes Voss (c) Wizards of the Coast
A saintly skeleton decked out in the finest gilded plate:
St. Pancratius - Dr. Paul Koudounaris, via Cartwheel Art
And glowing-eyed skeletons (okay, probably liches) wielding staves and wearing crowns and mighty robes:
Keith Parkinson
In your game, if you pitted your party against any of these three types of skeletons - even if behind the screen they were all just your basic CR 1/3 skeletons - I guarantee they wouldn't remember it as just "that skeleton fight."

The two simplest and best ways to make your monsters unique are reskinning and reequipping.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

d20 Despot Reviews the 5th Edition D&D Basic Ruleset - My Initial Thoughts

Earlier this week, Wizards of the Coast released the Basic Ruleset (a free, watered-down version of the rules) for D&D Next, which they are now just calling D&D, and which I will be calling 5th Edition D&D because - unlike Wizards and Microsoft - I don't like confusing people.  So I have spent several hours badly neglecting my schooling in order to bring you folks my initial reactions to this new official ruleset.

You can download the rules for free here, at Wizards of the Coast's website.  
To make a long story short, it seems fine.  I really want to play it.  But I very much doubt that it will replace Pathfinder as my go-to fantasy RPG.  There are some things that they did really well, like the classes.  There are some things they did poorly too, but those are outnumbered by the things they did that confuse me.  It's a very decent ruleset with a lot of really great pieces in there, but it's not enough to make me abandon my current system yet.

I appreciate that they really tried to tone down the rampant bonus accumulation that plagues D&D/Pathfinder once players hit even moderate power levels; they really bring the focus back to die rolls more than bonus-stacking, which is great.  And they did a lot to simplify things, some of which worked and some of which didn't so much.

Alright, I'm done making long stories short.  Here's the long story, with my remarks presented in no particular order:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Traps 102 with Dr. Henry Jones, Jr.

Paramount Pictures
Last week, in Traps 101, I used Raiders of the Lost Ark to demonstrate a few basic things that traps can do in a dungeon.  I mean, besides maiming and killing.  This week, I'm also bringing in examples from Temple of Doom and Last Crusade, the only other Indiana Jones movies I recognize as canon (not that Crystal Skulls had any traps in it anyways).

Indiana Jones is an adventurer's adventurer, so it really makes sense that the temples and ruins he navigates are dungeons any GM would be happy to have created.  They have a cinematic quality to them (naturally) that boils the elements of a good dungeon down to a few tightly-implemented set-pieces.  For that reason, the Indiana Jones movies ring true as great D&D-style adventures despite the fact that there are no fantastical monsters and Indy himself doesn't wear armour or wield a sword.

"You're strangely dressed for a knight..."                 Paramount Pictures
So what else can we learn about traps from the adventures of Professor Henry Jones, Jr.?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Traps 101 with Dr. Henry Jones, Jr.

Traps are an integral part of nearly every dungeon, but they are very easy to do wrong.  There are some GMs who seem to think that the goal of a trap is to kill your party in as devious and clever a way as possible.  If your goal as a GM is just to kill your players, kindly refrain from GMing.

From Grimtooth's Traps
Others decide to put traps on everything, turning the exploration of a dungeon into a never-ending paranoid sequence of skill checks.  Putting traps in a dungeon is like putting spice in a dish: the right spices in the right amounts can add flavour, but using too much or too overpowering of a spice can render it unpleasant or inedible.

So naturally, to illustrate how to do traps correctly, I am turning to the Indiana Jones film trilogy.  Not just because they are perfect movies, but because they use traps incredibly well.  In a well-put-together movie, every element should contribute to the whole.  If you just throw things in there for the heck of it, your movie will be an incoherent, tone-deaf mess.  But the three Indiana Jones films are well-constructed (the first and third admittedly more-so than the second), and each trap Indy encounters serves to move the plot along or tell us something more about the story or the characters.

When you are designing a dungeon, you are like the director of a movie that your players are about to watch/star in.  If you want it to be a good movie, keep the following tips in mind:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monster Monday: Sabertooth Salmon - Deadly and Delicious

I've mentioned before that I'm really in to prehistoric animals and that I would try to bring more of them into Pathfinder.  Well, for this Monster Monday I'm bringing you a pretty unusual one: the sabertooth salmon.

(c) Ray Troll.  Prints of this piece are available for sale on his website.
Yes, that's a real thing that existed.  Oncorhynchus rastrosus (formerly known by the more colourful Smilodonichthys rastrorsus) were 8-10 feet long, 300-400 pounds, and equipped with a pair of sharp fangs.  They lived about 5 million years ago along the Pacific coast of North America.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

d20 Despot Reviews Snow White and the Huntsman

Like many of you, I gave 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman a pass when it first came out, but I just watched it a few days ago and I'm glad I did.  While it is not at all a great movie, it is enjoyable on a surface level, especially from the perspective of someone who enjoys fantasy and GMing.

Universal Pictures
That said, while I feel I owe it to the movie to explain why you should watch it for its intriguing and delightful fantasy visuals, I also feel the need to delve into Snow White's many failings as a story and a film.  So, as is traditional, let's start off with the negative stuff:

[Spoilers, obviously]

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Monster Monday: Wadjet - Ancient Egyptian Fire Cobra

Last week, d20 Despot received its 10,000th pageview!  It was only a few months ago that we got to 5,000 and, as I mentioned in last week's news-post, it was made possible by a reader's post to the RPG section of Reddit.  d20 Despot is a labour of love, and I'll keep coming out with new content no matter how many readers I have, but if you want to start seeing illustrated d20 Despot PDFs chock full of bonus content, I'll need a bigger reader-base.  And for that, I'm relying on you, my loyal minions!  Spread the word all around these glorious interwebs!

Speaking of content, today's Monster Monday entry is the dazzling wadjet, a giant winged cobra straight out of ancient Egyptian legend.  Watch out for their poisonous spit and their searing gaze!

via Amentet Neferet
The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

No Post This Week (Except for This Post)

Sorry, loyal readers and new arrivals.  Things have been pretty busy here at d20 Despot HQ and I haven't had time to get a post done.  Come by next week (June 2nd) for a new Monster Monday entry.

In the meanwhile, why not browse through the archives?

I've recently made minor changes to my advanced language rules and my old post about swords.  I also added an alternate first page of my Improved Character Sheet v2.0 for people who are playing 3.5 Edition D&D and need that super-long list of 3.5 skills.

Or check out the current most-viewed article on this blog: 3 Undead Monsters More Deserving of Cultural Ubiquity than Zombies and Vampires.

If you're looking for ways to support this blog, share it around the internet.  Last month a reader linked my Togbins post to Reddit and gave this site its biggest month ever.  This month, I've noted a ~33% increase in readership as a result.  I'm pretty terrible at self-promotion, so I rely on *you* to get the word out about my blog and all its free content.  The greater my reader-base is, the more comfortable I will feel investing in producing high-quality PDFs and maybe getting a kickstarter going to print some books.  So if you want to someday own a d20 Despot Bestiary full of original monsters and professional artwork, or a guide to my medieval Indian campaign setting of Chattara full of unique weapons, monsters, and class archetypes, help spread the word!

-your absent d20 despot

Monday, May 19, 2014

Everything Wrong with 'Dark Dungeons', the Infamous D&D Chick Tract

Last week I used the infamous Chick Tract 'Dark Dungeons', by evangelical comic author and professional confused grandpa Jack Chick, to poke fun at the idea that D&D teaches you necromancy.  This week I'm going back to that ancient well to draw up another fetid bucket of laughs to pour down your gullet (don't forget to check for throat leeches!).  'Dark Dungeons' is 30 years old this year, and the fact that the earth has not been consumed by Orcus, Demon Prince of Undeath, means that Jack Chick is either laughably incorrect or D&D players are just terrible at the dark arts.  I dunno, maybe they took out the rules for 'real magic' in 2nd Edition or something.

This and all further pictures in this blog post are ©1984-2014 Chick Publications, Inc. I am reproducing the tract in it's entirety here (minus the last page about how you can 'get saved') under what I believe is Fair Use as part of a satirical review piece.  I won't be linking to Chick Publications' website, where you can view this tract and others like it for free.
Without further ado, let us delve into the world of the 1980s D&D scare which, just like the scares about comic books, rock music, and video games, has proven to be 100% valid.  

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Debunking 6 Common Myths About D&D

D&D has been around for a long time now, and it is the subject of its fair share of myths and misunderstandings.  I feel it is my duty to debunk six of the more common myths right here, before your very eyes, using only this blog and the time I should be spending on my finals.

6. It's Antisocial
Warner Bros. via ofdiceandmen
I may have mentioned before that D&D is an inherently social game.  Either you're playing with a group of friends or you're meeting new people by playing with them.  D&D is basically the opposite of an antisocial activity; unlike, say, videogames, it forces you into social interaction.  And if you really get into it, it forces you into regular social interaction.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fixing the Weapons Table, Part 5: Indian Weapons

The second campaign I ever ran was set in Chattara, a mighty multicultural empire ruled over by a caste of turbaned, woolly rhino-riding dwarves.  I did a lot of research into Indian weapons at the time, to make sure my party could really get the feel of the land they were adventuring through.  For today's post, I'm revisiting these weapons, updating them for Pathfinder and with a more practiced eye for game design.

When D&D books start talking about eastern weaponry, you know they mostly mean Chinese and Japanese stuff.  Pathfinder has been a bit better at this, but I find Indian weapons are still a gap that doesn't get filled in as much as it deserves to be.  That's why I'm Fixing the Weapons Table.  The Indian subcontinent has a rich history of unique and exotic weaponry that deserves a chance in the hands of a PC.  From the thrown chakram to the badass pata to the deadly urumi, here are nine awesome Indian weapons for your D&D game.

The following weapons given in gold text are available as Open Game Content under the OGL.  Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.

Monday, April 28, 2014

House Rules Compendium

One of my favourite things about reading other people's D&D experiences on the internet is hearing all of their house rules.  No two D&D games are alike, and house rules are one of the ways GMs can customize their game to fit their own needs and play styles.  I myself have picked up a number of house rules from the GMs I have played under, from the tales people tell on the web, and from my own imagination.  For your convenience (and mine), I will be compiling all of my house rules right here on this page.

I hope you find it interesting, and just maybe you'll steal one or two for your own home game.  I'll keep this updated with new house rules as they spring into existence.

Monday, April 21, 2014

PC Race - Perinin: Cunning Warrior Hares

Last week d20 Despot brought you togbins, a fierce race of cold-dwelling tortoise-men who love to hunt.  This week, continuing my collaboration with Kent Hamilton in celebration of his graduation from concept design school, we bring you perinin, the brave and cunning race of hares that are the togbins' favorite prey.

Kent Hamilton Concepts
Well, as you can see from the above picture, perinin are clearly not the timid prey that togbins wish they were.  Perinin are agile and cunning, and they use their natural knack for tactics to outsmart and overwhelm their physically superior adversaries.

Read on for more information about this Pathfinder-compatible playable race.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

PC Race - Togbins: Tortoise-Men of the Wild North

Sorry for the late update; we've got something kinda big today.  Remember in my 2013 year-in-review column when I mentioned that I might start having professional illustrations on my site?  Well, here we go:

Kent Hamilton Concepts

Alright, this may require some explanation.  My supremely-talented friend Kent Hamilton is a concept artist.  For his final project at Art Center, he is looking back on some very old drawings he made when he and I used to run around in the back yard fighting orcs and dragons, and he's redesigning them with his honed and practiced skills.  Here at d20 Despot, I'll be bringing you two of these creatures statted up as playable PC races.  Today, we have the hardy, tortoise-like togbins.  Next week, we'll have the clever, hare-like perinin.

So what are togbins?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monster Monday: The d20 Despot Aviary

Hello, dear readers. I hope you like birds!  For today's Monster Monday entry, I'm bringing you five species of birds, four of which make suitable familiars for your more wizardly characters.  So strap in for excitement as I present: a cassowary, a heron, a chicken, a duck, and a hummingbird.

Keep in mind that all of these are dinosaurs          (c)d20 despot
The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools: GMing for your Significant Other

Edit: Hopefully it was obvious, but yes, this was an April Fool's joke.

I don't usually do two posts in one week these days, but the first of April happens to by d20 Despot's one year anniversary!  So to commemorate this auspicious occasion, I'm writing on an important topic that I see pop up pretty frequently on internet discussions of GMing: how to GM with your significant other in the group.

The general sense I get from these anecdotes and horror stories is that GMs tend to give preferential treatment to their boyfriends or girlfriends, and let them get away with anything, to the point where it harms the experience of the other players.  This is really bad practice and it can lead to the disintegration of your gaming group.

To demonstrate how to do this right, I'll run through my girlfriend's character sheet from our last campaign and pull out some examples.  And be on the lookout for some of my signature homebrewed magic items!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Improved Character Sheet v2.0

Hey everyone, I've got an even better version of this character sheet now! You can check it out here.

Or here's the download link:
d20 Despot Advanced Character Sheet v3.0

But, if you prefer version 1.0, read on.

It's been a year since I posted my original improved character sheet, and it has become the most viewed post on my blog (hey, last week we broke 5,000 total all-time blog views!).  So it's about time I updated it.

Here's the d20 Despot Improved Character Sheet v2.0.  <= Download it there, folks!

(Edit: Also, here's the first page with D&D 3.5 Edition skills: Download Here.  Sadly, in that version, the "Special Abilities" and "Conditional Skill Modifiers" sections have been sacrificed on the altar of 3.5's humongous skill list.  Fair warning: it still has the CMB and CMD stuff on it, but if you're playing 3.5 you'd damn well better be bringing those rules in instead of grappling with the grapple rules.)

Read on for more info about it and the changes/improvements I've made.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

3 Undead Monsters More Deserving of Cultural Ubiquity than Zombies and Vampires

The Walking Dead - AMC, via A Geek Saga; Twilight - Summit Entertainment, via twilightsaga.wikia 
Modern pop culture is obsessed with the undead.  People on the bus are reading books about zombies and vampires.  Cinemas are playing movies about zombies and vampires.  The video game market is flooded with... um... zombies and vampires.  You can see where this is going.  Looking at our pop-culture, you'd think that there were only two types of undead monsters: the shambling, mindless, brain-eating kind and the immortal, blood-sucking, inexplicably effeminate kind.

Don't get me wrong; zombies and vampires can be very cool if used correctly and in moderation.  But what we have in our culture right now is an oversaturation.  Zombies and vampires are getting played out, and I'm pretty tired of them.  This jumbled graph - which I painstakingly assembled with my own two hands, Wikipedia, and Microsoft Excel - shows that, while vampires and zombies still remain popular, they might be on the decline.  I think that the general public may be slowly growing tired of these undead as well.

I tried counting up all the vampire books, too, but soon realized that it would be an impossible task.
Damn Anne Rice and Stephanie Meyer.  
So what undead horrors are worthy of stepping into the cultural spotlight and filling the gaps left by vamps and zombs?  I've got a few ideas:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Food and Drink: Never Adventure on an Empty Stomach

"I'm starving.  Let's break out some rations before we rest," Folg suggested, patting his rumbling dwarven stomach.

"There are no rations," Kyliss shot back. "Daldreth was carrying all our food."  She cast a deadly glare at the cleric, who was dusting himself off in the corner.  

"Hey, if you guys hadn't taken your sweet time getting me out of that gelatinous cube, maybe we'd still have some rations left!" he shot back defensively.  "Or if you guys carried some of the food, for a change..."

"We had a week's worth of rations.  Your saying all of it's gone?  What are we going to eat?"

Kyliss thought for a moment.  "Well, we killed all those dire rats a few rooms back."

Daldreth pulled a face, but Folg lit up.  "Now you're talking," the dwarf said.  "Fresh meat!  Daldreth, go get some of those! I'll break some of this furniture up and get a fire going; this is a vaulted ceiling, there should be enough space for the smoke to go without smothering us all."

Kyliss rubbed her hands together decisively.  "Right, I'll attach a rope to this bucket and draw some water from the well."

Daldreth turned.  "A dungeon well?  Do you want throat-leeches?  Because that's how you get throat-leeches!  No, I'll just cast create water."

"Into what?  That gross-ass old barrel?  It smells like someone stored jellied fish in it."

Kyliss sighed, walked over to the barrel, and cast prestidigitation.  With a flick of her hand, a cloud of dust and unidentifiable ancient muck shot up out of it and splattered against the wall.  "We're good."

Food and drink should be important considerations for any adventuring party, because you need that stuff to live.  But, like weight and encumbrance rules, such things are often neglected in favour of gameplay expediency.  A lot of gaming groups feel that keeping track of rations is too 'simulationist' and slows things down or distracts from the fun.  Well I'm here to champion the right of every PC to eat a square meal a day, and not just for the sake of realism.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Monster Monday: Honey Badger and Dire Honey Badger

In celebration of my 50th blogpost, today's Monster Monday is the honey badger, the fierce predator that just takes what it wants.  Honey badgers, also known as ratels, are quite distinct from actual badgers, and they deserve to be statted up separately.  They are known for their resistance to poison that lets them fight and eat cobras and bees, the loose skin on their neck that lets them keep attacking whoever tries to grab them, and the fact that when they attack they go straight for the nuts.

I am also including the Dire Honey Badger, also known as al-girta, a fierce, man-eating honey badger the size of a black bear.  Al-girta is the name for the honey badger in southern Iraq, where they made headlines in 2007 thanks to a rash of reported attacks in Basra by mysterious man-eating monsters that turned out to be regular, not-man-eating honey badgers.  The locals blamed occupying British forces for the animal attacks, leading to my favourite quote from the Iraq War: "We can categorically state that we have not released man-eating badgers into the area."

And of course, I've made it so that you can have a honey badger/al-girta as an animal companion.

The following text in gold is available as Open Game Content under the OGL. Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Speaking in Tongues: Using Languages in Your Campaign

The monk halts mid-step and tilts her head.  Yes, those are voices!  She silently drops down next to the sarcophagus and presses her ear to the granite floor.  There must be some sort of chamber below!

"Everything is falling into place," a sinister voice echoes from below.  "That earthquake will have awakened the Unconquered Bull."

"The people will also take it as a sign of divine disfavour.  Their faith in the Emperor will be shaken.  We need only push, and he will fall," a deeper voice responded.  

"Yes, soon the People of the Bull will topple this decadent society and usher in a reign of blood and fire!  We must return to the capital and complete the rituals."

"Indeed.  It is best we move as far from the coast as possible; the tidal wave will come shortly."

The monk sits up, puzzled.  She pulls out her Hyksaean-Zhengi phrasebook and flips through the pages with a practiced hand.  "I wish I knew what they were saying."

Language is key to how we interact with and interpret the world.  As such, it naturally comes up a lot while roleplaying as well.  The character from a distant land.  The ancient inscription above the doorway.  The conversation overheard between hobgoblin guards.  Yet the rules for learning, speaking, and reading languages are surprisingly slim in the d20 and PFRPG systems.

This sort of thing bugs me, so I came up with a new set of rules that govern how a character learns and uses languages.  It works fine if your approach to languages is as simple as "Common, Dwarven, Elvish, Orcish, etc." but it also includes optional rules for those GMs who want to lend some realism to their campaign settings by including regional languages and language families (Try going to Latvia and see how far speaking "Common" gets you).  So if you are looking for a more comprehensive rule set for languages in your campaign, look no further.  Actually, look a little further; the rules are below.

The following gold text and its associated tables are available as Open Game Content under the OGL.  Open Game Content is (C)2014 Jonah Bomgaars.