Monday, January 26, 2015

Sandbox Campaign Part 13: Blood on the Snow

This is part 13 of my ongoing Sandbox Campaign, a campaign which, for a long time now, has totally not been an actual sandbox campaign.  

Before I get started on the adventures of the Graverobbers, I have some news!  My good friend Kent Hamilton, official illustrator of d20 Despot, has launched a companion site called d20 Doodler, where he will be posting daily warm-up sketches of characters, monsters, and scenes from my campaigns or just D&D/Pathfinder-inspired stuff.  I'll be using a lot of these as preview images for my posts, but there'll be plenty more over at!  Let's check out today's preview image - a sketch of Rikkit, the Graverobbers' lovable goblin sorcerer:

The Death of Rikkit Nightingale - Kent Hamilton
Oh.  That doesn't bode well.

Monday, January 19, 2015

"Where Do You Keep All That Stuff?" - Storing Things on Your Person

How much can you hold?  I'm not talking about carrying capacity - there are already rules for that and I encourage you to use them.  I'm talking about potions - where do you keep them?  How many can you easily store?  I'm talking about arrows.  Do you remember buying a quiver at the start of the game?  Where exactly do you fit your 40 arrows?  I'm talking about weapons.  You can't just scroll through your entire inventory of weapons like Gordon Freeman, you've got to put them somewhere.

Most of the time, this is just sort of abstracted.  The character has a backpack they probably store things in, but everything they need in battle at the moment is always right there on their belt, even that cold iron morningstar they found in the crypt a month ago and the potion of invisibility they've been carrying around since their first adventure.

This makes the average adventurer seem like a bad 90s comic book hero.

Rob Liefeld, via progressiveboink
"I don't need to worry about encumbrance because I have the belt of many pockets
the pants of crotch-asterisk, and a magnetic back."
The following items in gold are available as Open Game Content under the OGL.  Open Game Content is ©2015 Jonah Bomgaars and d20 Despot.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Expanded Reincarnation Tables - Back from the Dead with a Brand New Body

I don't care how you die, the most fun way to come back is reincarnation.  Sure, spells like raise dead and true resurrection bring you back just as you were before, but with reincarnate, you could come back as anything!  Well, so long as your definition of 'anything' is 'bugbear, dwarf, elf, gnoll, gnome, goblin, half-elf, half-orc, halfling, human, kobold, lizardfolk, orc, or troglodyte'.  I really like the element of chance involved in reincarnate; it feels right to be rolling on some big percentile table when you come back from the dead in D&D.  But it feels like there should be more options for what you come back as, for better or for worse.  So when one of the characters in one of my ongoing campaigns died (you'll see who in a later update), I decided the time was right to make my own table.  Well, tables.

I took some inspiration from the old AD&D version of reincarnate, which gave you a chance to come back as a centaur, a satyr, a badger, or any number of other woodland creatures.  It makes sense for a druid spell.  So on my tables, you have a chance (albeit a much smaller one) to come back as an animal or fey creature.  I even added plants and vermin, something I feel druids would appreciate, though the recipient of the reincarnate might feel a little less comfortable with it.  I think the possibility (however small) of coming back as a flower or a cockroach really adds to the sense of risk that this inexpensive shortcut back to the world of the living should have.

"Okay, maybe we should have sprung for raise dead, but I think we still have what it takes to bring down that lich!"
Illus. Paul Bransom via Wikimedia
I also wanted to expand the number of races you could come back as, making full use of the Advanced Race Guide.  This is where more of my own personal opinions went into this table, because there are some races in the the ARG that I am wholly against.  Some, like the half-vampire dhampir or the sci-fi android I left out because I think they are dumb and I would never let my players play them.  Others, like the half-wyvern half-kobold wyvaran and the four-armed kasatha, I think are overpowered, cheesy, and dumb, and I would never let my players play them.  But, hey, feel free to modify these tables to include them if you like them.  I won't judge.  I would have excluded the notorious Mary-Sue-bait catfolk race from my campaigns had one of my players not convinced me that they could be played realistically, like asshole cats, not just as special snowflake fetish-fodder.

I also, of course, put my own homebrew races in there.

So there are a lot of things a player could come back as using these reincarnation tables.  Even some monsters are available as rare options!  Take a look, and use them in your game if you like.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Review: "The Hobbit III: Well, I Guess That's It"

Warner Bros. Pictures
Going to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was a weird experience for me.  I kept thinking back to seeing the Lord of the Rings movies in theaters when I was young.  I was probably one of the last people to read the books before the movies came out; I remember skimming through the appendices on the drive up to the theater.  I was so invested in those movies.  As The Return of the King approached, I was filled with a mix of emotions: anticipation for the coming movie experience, sadness that this would be the last cinematic journey to Middle Earth, excitement at the prospect of seeing the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, speculation about what things from the book would get included and what things wouldn't (I'm still sad that Prince Imrahil was cut out, but I'm not so disappointed with the exclusion of the DrĂșadan Forest as my 14-year-old self was).

I felt nothing when I went to see the final film in the Hobbit trilogy.  The previous two film had done nothing to make me excited for it, nothing to make me look forward to seeing all my favorite parts from the book on the big screen.  Heck, I barely remember the first movie, and I only remember the second because I wrote that barely positive review of it about a year ago.  I went into this movie with low expectations, because all the previous two movies had done was train me to lower them.  I did have hope, of a sort.  I hoped that because the second movie had been a bit better than the first, that this movie would be a bit better than the second.

[SPOILERS!  SPOILERS LURK BELOW!  Also, some swearing.]