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.