Tabletop Gaming Feeds

5150 Send Lawyers, Guns and Money - Down the Rabbit Hole

Two Hour Wargames - Sun, 05/10/2020 - 22:26
I had a cover and an idea of what the book would be about but seriously once I started writing it; well, it took me to places I hadn't thought of when I sat down to get started. Heck, I can't wait for it to be over so I can play it.

Here's one of Billy Pink's Crew. Waiting for the rest of the artwork to follow.
Fast Eddie
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Sword of Shannara

Deep Sheep - Sun, 05/10/2020 - 18:09
It was 1977. The Holmes Basic Set for D&D came out that year as well as the Monster Manual. The AD&D rules were still being worked on and would not come out until 1978 and 1979. The Sword of Shannara, a novel penned by a young Terry Brooks fresh out of college, released to great popularity, excepting many fantasy roleplayers. They said The Sword of Shannara was just a shallow copy of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and in some ways they were right. But in many other ways they were wrong.

This review covers only the first quarter of the novel and in its broad strokes, you will find it very similar to the Fellowship of the Ring. But although Sword of Shannara is very inspired by Lord of the Rings, it still goes its own way. It dispenses with Tolkien's poetry and gives us more action. You could even say that Sword of Shannara is the D&D version of Lord of the Rings.

Let's state the differences first. There are no hobbits in Shannara. Shannara is a world similar to ours after an apocalypse that made man evolve into gnomes, dwarves, and trolls. Elves were always around in our world but they now they no longer hide themselves. The Warlock Lord allies himself with gnomes and trolls and flying creatures called Skull Bearers. But the biggest difference is that there is no ring. There is a sword and, at the beginning of the story, the Warlock Lord has stolen it.

So while there is a fellowship of men, dwarves, elves, and a magic-user that forms after the two young men escape from Shady Vale, the quest is different. They have to find the sword. Then they have to figure out how to use the sword. And then defeat the Warlock Lord with the sword. Is that much of a difference? Yes. They are not hiding a ring as they travel to the land of Mordor, while the ring plays with everyone's hopes of power. They are on a mission of desperation. A mission that more resonates with D&D adventures than Tolkien.

I'll post more as I continue reading. What are your thoughts about The Sword of Shannara?
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Review & Commentary On The Book of Manos: A Grimoire of Handy Spells By James Mishler, & Jodi Moran-Mishler

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 05/09/2020 - 05:22
"The Book of Manos: A Grimoire of Handy Spells is a 16-page PDF that expands upon the classic “hand” and “fist” magic-user spells, providing a legendary historical context in which to fit them; guidelines on their use; 21 new magic-user spells; six new Manos-based magic items (including the infamous relic, the “Hand of Manos”); and not one but three Manos entities that a magic-user can evoke to Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Review & Commentary On Troll Lord Games Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure of Aihrde 3rd Printing By Stephen Chenault

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 05/09/2020 - 03:36
"Within Monsters & Treasure of Aihrde lies a veritable host of legendary monsters. Each entry comes fully detailed with descriptions, habits, treasure, combat, special abilities, details on culture where needed, as well as a special section on each monster’s place in Aihrde. Over 170 Monsters! A mountain of Special Magic Items! Enhanced Character Content!'Despite a typo on the back cover Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

AD&D Session 7: The Overbearing of the Crystal Men

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sat, 05/09/2020 - 01:01

Session six is about where I normally reach creative exhaustion with an rpg campaign. The desire to try some other obscure system is one threat that must be overcome. One or two players being on the low energy side could easily sap my will to continue at this point. But AD&D is great. Everyone knows what it is. The campaign can easily handle new people coming and going, sure. But I’ve got to say, it sure seems like people really want to play this. None of us has any clue how any given session will go. And people just really want to go back in. It’s a real enthusiasm that is very hard to say no to.

I am still a bit worn down from the futility of attempting to plan for a session. My brilliant campaign idea went out the window the first session. My lovingly made one page dungeons have sat unused for weeks as the players stomp through my ridiculous campaign world doing random stuff. What can you do in such a circumstance? Oh, that’s obvious!

I open up the session with a flat, “what do you do?” Somebody points out that they have a lot of options. They can go back to the ruins in the jungle that are two days journey to the north. They can check out whatever is going on in the south where a group of large creatures headed some weeks back. They can tackle the dogmen yet again. They can explore the sinkhole that they discovered previously. And they can go investigate the weird laughter that they heard in the northeast section of the sewers. Five adventure scenarios to choose from.

The players decide to go after the dogmen. It’s been seven days since their last foray into the dungeons, though. So there’s no telling what’s going on down there. I make up a quick D12 table with the three outcomes I think are most likely– a 1-3 option, a 4-7 option, and a 5-12 option. I get a twelve and imagine in my head what has happened during the week. The AD&D rule of having one game day pass for each real day creates pressure for the players to complete objectives while they have the chance. Opportunities can just evaporate due to inaction! Which is sorta where we ended up this time. The hostages were all dead by now, for instance. The value of the haul is thousands of gold less and the chance of having grateful first level adventurers joining the party’s retinue is off the table. Ya snooze, ya lose!

The party has mass quantities of flaming oil this time. The had trouble deciding how to carry it all. They spend a lot of time working out the ideal marking order for the sewer section where they can go three abreast. They find a door that they forgot about and try to open it. I dutifully check for wandering monsters. Somebody made a map and explained where they were, though. So they continue on toward the lair of the pug-men.

They send the half-orc Fàgor up to check things out and he doesn’t see anything with his heat vision. The party rolls up to the entrance and see that the pit is wide open. They concoct a scheme to cry out as if they just fell in so that the pug-men will come investigate. They ham it up and I check for wandering monsters– a one! I check my tables and see what investigates.

The party is surprised to have something come up on their six in all this. Before they can really react, the cleric back there took some damage and the two remaining men-at-arms got dropped– the torch in the back goes out! The players wail away on these things and I tell them they are hard. Hitting them makes a clanging sound.

As things evolve, there are two competing plans. One is to throw flaming oil onto the bodies of the two men-at-arms who were each carrying five vials of the stuff. The other is to fall back a bit and (somehow that I can’t really imagine) throw the monsters into the pit. This stops the game as one of the players suggests that we use the grappling rules on page seventy-two. I have never played these things in anger– I’ve never even heard of someone playing these things in anger. But somehow we ended up on the Overbearing Table where it turned out to be rather easy to knock an opponent to his knees and/or knock them flat. There is not much defense for this except to be big and win initiative.

Anyway, I let the player responsible for this narrate it from his perspective, one tweet at a time:

  • Real time game report. The thread: I have spent 48 minutes making sure none of the players are culturally sensitive.
  • We have purchased 30 oil flasks and are determined to kill Dog men. Furries beware.
  • We are hunting the Dog Men in their home. We believe they may be holding men captive in their lair. Which them being furries can mean only one thing: Sodomy.
  • We are now fighting a group of Dog Men. We set a trap for them but some snuck up from behind like the perfidious snakes they are. The Henchmen are actually earning their pay.
  • My character Funk holds the front with the cleric. The rear guard are now taking on the dog men and are missing. Darkness is rising, fear grows. DM: “These things are hard.” Oh snaps….
  • These are not dogmen. These are something made of stone. The darkness has deceived us!
  • We are luring them towards us with a pit in front of us. We are bringing them to death, flaming oil flasks being sent. Destruction everywhere. The half orc was hit but his momma hit him harder in grade school.
  • They are healing the half orc. We voted to only heal half of him.
  • SESSION DONE Lesson for the day is dont trust mute on your mic when talking to your wife. If they DM rolls heavy on you bust out obscure rules and wreck his evening. Godspeed you beautiful animals.

One of the men-at-arms turned out to still be alive, lying in a pool of filth and flammable oil. He is the last one of ten! During the fighting I needed to roll the paladin’s henchman Gilbert’s strength. He got a 17!

The players go into the party room were they fought dog men before. They are all gone. Man, that fight would have been scary if the crystal men were blocking the exit and the dog men were coming out of their caves from the other direction. Some day!!

The players search the party room and Fàgor finds this hidden recess in the wall. There is a pouch in there, but he won’t reach his hand inside. He takes a spear and wedges it out, standing such that any flaming jets of acid shooting out of the wall. The bag falls on the floor. He carefully dumps out its contents attempting to avoid inhaling any strange dust that might be in it. Inside is a bunch of gems.

Two players gotta leave, so their characters escort the surviving man-at-arms to safety, healing everyone else before they leave.

The players explore the other two rooms of the dogmen lair. One is full of skinns and rags. The other has shackles, chains, and an iron maiden. They open it up and there is a body inside that had been there for a week. (I check to see if it is a Swolecerer clutching a spellbook… the dice say no!)

The remaining party heads west in the sewer for about half an hour. They get bored and come back to the door they found earlier. They try to open it. Another wandering monster turns up, this time it’s (rolls dice) some kind of slime that (rolls dice) lands on top of the paladin. One of the players gets really excited about this, pausing the came to consult the Player Handbook. What color is it, he wants to know. I am loath to just say “green”, but finally I tell him. He says the paladin can just cure disease to get rid of the thing. I’m incredulous, but consult the Monster Manual and sure enough… it all checks out. Three combat rounds would have been the end to the paladin’s plate mail, but under these circumstances, he just comes out with a bit of a polish.

Party drops a half-naked Brother Pain down into the sinkhole. He notes two tight passages, one to the northwest and the other to the southwest. The players mull it over and decide that exploring the second level of the dungeon at close to half strength is not a good idea. Nobody bothers them as they head back to Trollopulous.

Aulis Martel the Acolyte (8 hits) [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6a, and 7] XP: 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 + 8 + 255 => [Frozen at 1500 until he levels!]

Brother Pain the Acolyte [Delve 3b and 7] XP: 351 + 54 + 255= 660

Torin the Runner (7 hits) [Delves 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 6b, and 7] XP: 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 + 8 + 80 + 255 = [Frozen at 2250 until he levels!]

Arthur the Gallant (7 hits) [Delves 2, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6a, 6b, and 7] XP: 122 + 753 + 351 + 54 + 766 + 8 + 80 + 255 = 2389

Gregg the Acolyte (10 hits) [Delves 4, 5, and 7] XP: 54 + 766 + 255 =1075

Fàgor — (12 hits) Half-Orc Fighter [Delve 7] 255 (His name means “astonishing hero” in orcish. For real!)

Funk — FIghter — Also worships Issek (at best a saint) [Delve 7] 255

Gilbert (Strength 17) and Sullivan: [Delves 2, 4, 6a, 6b, and 7] (122 + 54 + 8 + 80 + 255) / 2 = 259

One shell-shocked man-at-arms: — (7 hits) [Delves 6a, 6b, and 7] (8 + 80 + 255) / 2 = 171

Experience: 804 XP for killing monsters. Gems worth 1000 + 5 + 50 + 50 + 500 + 50 + 90 = 1745 gold pieces value. Total XP is 2549 divided 10 ways.


Day 1: The Hole in the Sky

Day 2: The Thing in the Sewer

Day 7: The Big Score part I

Day 8: The Big Score part II

(Day 9-14 — player characters all carousing¹; Keebler Khan fully recovered) <—- I day of real world time = one day of game time!)

Day 15: The Drums of the Dog People

(Day 16-21: More carousing, fasting, panhandling.)

Day 22-25: Altar of the Beast-women

(Day 26-31: Resting)

Day 32-33: The Pugs of Slaughter

(Day 34-39: Resting)

Day 40: The Overbearing of the Crystal Men

The graveyard:

Dorkorus — Half-elf fighter/magic-user/thief — Half brother to Keebler Khan, talked with a lisp! Killed by a pug-man in the Trolopulous mega-dungeon.

Dairage — Elf fighter/magic-user — Killed with his shield spell one, valiantly taking down the leader of the pug-men so that the party could have a chance to escape certain death!

9 Hapless men-at-arms!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

5150 - Send Lawyers Guns and Money

Two Hour Wargames - Fri, 05/08/2020 - 16:34

Coming soon!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[ZINE] Echoes From Fomalhaut #07 (NOW AVAILABLE!)

Beyond Fomalhaut - Fri, 05/08/2020 - 16:09
From Beneath the Glacier

I am pleased to announce the publication of the seventh issue of my fanzine, Echoes From Fomalhaut. This is a 40-page zine dedicated to adventures and GM-friendly campaign materials for Advanced old-school rules, with cover art by Matthew Ray, and illustrations by Graphite Prime, Denis McCarthy, Stefan Poag, and the Dead Victorians.

The Bat Plague may still be out there, but now so is this zine (and YOU can be the judge which one you like better). Not all restrictions are gone, but they are suitably relaxed to resume print sales and shipping. Delivery is bound to be slower than usual for a while – I am hearing that packages, which had taken five or six days to reach European addresses now take twelve days or so – but at least it seems to work without major problems. If you can trust the Post, you can perhaps trust the rest of our civilisation as well.

And so, we have this issue! The common theme this time seems to be “things that go deeper than anticipated” – at least this is one aspect which, by some act of Fortune, unites the four articles. There is something quite fascinating going into an adventure, and discovering that the dungeon you expected to end has a deep well going down to a new level; the plot threads you have almost had in your hand suddenly trail off again in new directions, or the room beyond the secret door has a second secret door, hidden even more carefully. What lies beyond the door, the well, or the almost solved plotline? Only one way to find out!

The titular adventure, From Beneath the Glacier, takes the characters to the high mountains where something has gone wrong. Where do the nighttime raids and strange corpses washed down the rivers come from? The answers are found in this scenario, with 21 keyed areas, offering challenges related to navigation, exploration, and confrontation – not to mention a major dilemma once the company is victorious. This is an adventure for mid-level characters, levels 5-7 (our test party was slightly stronger by the time they got there, and had an easier time).

Of course, sometimes an undead-haunted cellar is just an undead-haunted cellar – The Hecatomb of Morthevole is a take on the proverbial “help this guy with rats in his cellar” dungeon, except it is not rats, and the cellar goes deeper than you might think (levels 2-4, 12 keyed areas, which is not bad for a two-pager – I am thinking there will be more smallish scenarios in future issues).

This issue’s centrepiece, drawn from The City of Vultures, is the best known of its Underworld complexes. The Tomb of Ali Shulwar is fairly well known among the city’s thieves and smugglers, but few know of its deeper layers, and none before have mapped its connections, secret sections and true depths. This article presents two entrance levels and three main levels of the tomb (more precisely, what lies below the tomb… if the tomb is even the real tomb) in 66 keyed areas. The dungeons are mostly for the 4th to 6thlevel range, with outliers (and tougher side-areas, to be presented next issue).

The issue’s final article, The White Hand, introduces one of the City’s lesser conspiracies. A vigilante group formed to mete out “good old-fashioned street justice” to market thieves (and everyone the members believe to be one!) would usually merit little discussion beyond “Thugs (3d6)”… but something is off here. Links to now extinct organisations, infiltration attempts by other conspiracies, odd musical tastes and bizarre characters hanging around the White Hand make it a gateway into an entire world of hidden meanings and secret warfare.  Who is using whom? Who watches the watchers watching the watchers? Most importantly, what happens when it all falls apart at the slightest shove? Whether used in the City of Vultures or somewhere else (which would be easier than it first looks), it will be fascinating to find out.

The issue’s map supplement this time is an unkeyed dungeon level. Or it is multiple smaller dungeon levels on one sheet? You be the judge!

The print version of the fanzine is available from my Bigcartel store; the PDF edition will be published through DriveThruRPG with a few months’ delay. As always, customers who buy the print edition will receive the PDF version free of charge.


In other news...

  • Castle Xyntillan is being reprinted. While copies of the first printing are still available, there will be more soon. The PDF edition is also out there, although the promised, improved functionality will still take some time (my IRL job has been picking up pace again).
  • If you look at the back cover of Echoes #07, you will discover a listing for EMDT62. This was too optimistic, but this module – the English version of the great In the Shadow of the City-God – should be published early next month… if things go well, along with a module collection.
  • The Four Dooms of Thisium, our Bat Plague placeholder campaign, keeps racking it up. 44 PC and follower casualties have been noted, and while one Doom has been averted, three more still hang over the city, abandoned and cursed by its very gods!

From Beneath the Glacier

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Weird Revisited: The Strange Stone Age

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 05/08/2020 - 11:00
This post first appeared in May of 2015...

Or maybe forward to a remote future? Whichever, it's a time where prehistoric humans do battle with monsters--both known to history and unknown--and with incursion of aliens or ultraterrestrials, part Kirby and part von Däniken. The actions of the aliens create sores in the skin of reality where the normal laws are warped and disrupted.

Some humans have benefited (or so they believe) from alien technology and even interbreeding. They view themselves as superior to the others and hunt them for slaves--or worse. But humans have allies, too: the gregarious Small-Folk (Halflings, pakuni, homo florensis), the hardy and aloof Stone Folk (dwarves, T'lan Imass, Neanderthals). And then there are the spirits, made stronger since the aliens rent holes in reality, with whom the shamans intercede through the use of sacred, hallucinogenic technologies--their "passkeys" into the operating system of the universe.

Comics: Devil Dinosaur, Tor, Tragg and the Sky-Gods, Henga (Yor), Turok, anything New Gods by Kirby or Morrison (for the "magic as technology" aspect).
Fiction: Karl Edward Wagner's Kane stories (mainly the implied pseudo-scientific background), Manly Wade Wellman's Hok, Roadside Picnic (the portrayal of zones and alien artifacts)
"Nonfiction": alien abduction stuff and forteana, "forbidden history" stuff, Chariots of the Gods.

The Lulu Controversy & Free Castles & Crusades Material

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 05/07/2020 - 17:22
So over the last couple of days I've been a bit overwhelmed by sewing machine repair work & the on going pandemic. Not to worry I've still managed to sneak in a bit of Patrick Wetmore lulu action with some mail call today.   Thanks Patrick! I look forward to using these at the table top! Apparently I managed to sneak this in before the great Lulu controversy of 2020. Evil races not Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Reputation for Sentinels of Echo City

The Splintered Realm - Thu, 05/07/2020 - 17:16

I am working on the first setting supplement, for Boondock's Hideaway, and was thinking about how helpful it would be to have a 'rating' for how well a hero or villain is known. I started tinkering, and came up with a system I like and will be play testing - this is not "official" yet, but an official set of rules will be with the first supplement in this series. Feedback is most welcome!
It’s a negative or positive value that reflects how well known a character is. While CHA is your ability to use your personal charm and influence, reputation is your larger popularity in the game world.
Reputation ranges from -20 to +20. It is used as a check in any situation where you might get a public response to your name. Every time you do something that might affect your reputation, attempt a 1d20 check. If you roll on the OPPOSITE side of your reputation in the relevant direction, it moves 1 point that way. When you do something good, you want to roll above your current reputation. It is hard to maintain a strong reputation in either direction; if you want to be greatly feared, you better not accidentally help someone out - you might get caught on camera and have people say nice things about you. A 20 always ‘succeeds’ (moving in the direction of the check) and a 1 always ‘fails’, moving you towards reputation 0. Villains do bad stuff and want a 20 to get 'more negative' in their reputation, and heroes do good stuff and want a 20 to get 'more betterer' in their reputation. Or something like that.
For example, as a new hero, you have a reputation of 0. You rescue a kitty from a tree. The old lady who you helped immediately posts on social media (yeah, old ladies have Facebook, too.) You attempt a check, with a target of rolling over a 0. As long as you don’t roll a 1, you succeed; good news, 95% of the time you are at reputation 1. After several adventures, your reputation is now 7. You are rocking it. Unfortunately, you get some bad press when you get into a fight with Mr. Awesome (it was a misunderstanding that you totally worked out). Unfortunately, Twitter doesn’t see it that way; You roll 1d20, and you want to avoid rolling below your current reputation; if you roll 6 or less, your reputation drops 1 point; a roll of 7 or better doesn’t help you (because this is a ‘negative’ reputation check) but at least the only fallout from the fight is literal fallout from the thermonuclear device that was set off over the Pacific (it was a BIG misunderstanding). 
Reputation in Play
Reputation allows you to make a reaction check when you aren’t there, or when your name alone is being used in some context, but you are not the one making a CHA check. In many situations, you are trying a reputation check before a CHA check. “You’ve never heard of Magnet Master? Oh. Well, look guys… if you could help me out this time, I’d really appreciate it…”
You attempt a check based on your reputation rating. While a reputation of 1 is going to make it unlikely for something special to happen, a reputation of 10+ is going to be helpful. Reputation also works for epic checks; with reputation 14+, you can do amazing things. “Because Lord Wrack threatened to attack the America’s Day Parade, we are canceling the whole thing - and all parades forever until he is in prison.”... “Normally, we don’t just hand out F-16s to civilians, but you are Doc Stalwart after all…”
The default setting for reputation for existing characters would be level x3. Therefore, Lord Wrack as a villain 5 starts you game at -15 reputation, and he's trying to really, really hard to get to -20.

New Talent: Popular
You start with 1d4+2 reputation. You score critical success on a reputation check with a roll of 19 or 20, and you may attempt a Featto avoid reputation loss when you roll a botch on a reputation check. You automatically receive +1 reputation every time you level up.

The Thundarr Roadtrip

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 05/07/2020 - 11:00

I ran across a podcast yesterday that is reviewing the the episodes of Thundarr the Barbarian in way that sensibly traces Thundarr and crew's travels across post-apocalyptic North America and beyond. It's called appropriately Thundarr Road.

Wednesday Comics: Fourth World Reread Week 2

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 05/06/2020 - 11:00
One thing that virtually all of the continuations of the Fourth World saga by other hands seem to miss is that it isn't just a superhero action epic, but like all good mythologies, there are things going on beneath the surface.

New Gods #6 (on sale in October of 1971), continues Orion's struggle against the Deep Six, a group of Apokiliptian fishmen with the ability to mutate other lifeforms. They are not the best villains of the saga by any means, but Kirby uses them in issue 5 to reveal things about Orion, and in this issue, "Glory Boat!" to tell an allegorical story about war and its human cost.

The setup is almost Biblical. A great sea creature recalling Leviathan and all the primeval, Chaos monsters of the depths, a family, emblematic of humanity as a whole: the bellicose and overbearing father, the "conscientious objector" son, and the daughter who doesn't get to do much between the two's bickering. God of war Orion also has someone to play off here, his friend, Lightray, embodying the enlightenment of New Genesis.

Where Orion's instinct is to destroy his foes, Lightray strives to show a better way, to rehabilitate. He succeeds in transforming one of the Deep Sixes' creatures into the service of our heroes. Unfortunately, for the humans, the Deep Six are drawn back to the boat.

The father freezes, having some sort of breakdown when confronted with the creatures. The son, the peacenik, goes on the offensive, attacking the Apokoliptian Jafar. Jafars kills him, mutating his face into that of a featureless, metallic mannequin. Lightray opines that the war has taken "another faceless hero."

Lashed to the mast, the father bears witness to what is to come.  Orion and Lightray take the son's body and launch themselves into a possibly final attack against the remaining Deep Three, in an epic two page spread.

But Lightray and Orion are not destine for some Neo-Vahalla, just yet. The boy goes "to the Source" and the New Gods live to fight another day. The father, still on the mast amid the wreckage of the ship is left to wonder as Kirby tells us: "What is a man in the last analysis--his philosophy or himself?"

It's heavy-handed perhaps, but no more so than work of the writers that would come to be seen as seminal figures of the 70s leading the "maturation" of comics.

Myth Beyond The Monster Manual - The Erinyes Devils of Violence & Justice For Your Old School Sword & Sorcery Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 05/06/2020 - 05:21
I've  been quietly cracking open my first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual & looking into the devils section last night. I looked into the Erinyes entry  for a bit of Sword & Sorcery inspiration.The Monster Manual & even the original Dungeons & Dragons monster stats profile has been lacking. Greco Roman mythology is so much richer on these goddesses & children of Chronos's Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Campaign Hook and Some Character Building

The Splintered Realm - Wed, 05/06/2020 - 01:37
Mikah the Chronicle opened a filing cabinet. It was amazing he knew which one. There were hundreds - no, thousands - of filing cabinets here. They sat in rows and rows, each filled (presumably) with file folders. Mikah the Chronicle produced one. He handed it to you. You read the label: “Last Known Location of Doc Stalwart.”
Campaign Hook: The Search for Doc Stalwart
At the end of the Stalwart Age, Doc Stalwart was the greatest hero in the world. He had overcome incredible challenges, defeating many of the most powerful villains in the world. And then, at the height of his fame and success, he disappeared.
That was twenty years ago. Eventually, people accepted that he was gone. Probably dead. Maybe at the bottom of the sea. Or at the edges of the solar system. Or in a far-off dimension beyond mortal reach. But now, he’s alive. Several mentalists have felt his presence in the world. 
The campaign is a loosely-connected series of location adventures wherein the heroes undertake a quest to find Doc Stalwart. As they go, they may amass clues that will allow them to find him and restore him to life. Or, maybe they won’t.
My idea right now is that I am going to write the adventure locations one at a time, and plant a seed in each one about the quest for Doc. I am going to make a character to maybe play test with...
Judah Jynx. The son of the ghost Zirah - Judah has supernatural powers.  I'm thinking a ghost as the character theme.
Let’s see what I get from random rolling:
Altered human. +1 to one attribute, +1 Feat rating.
4 Traits:StunInvisibilitySwinglinePhasing
He’s like the invisible girl, but with a stun instead of the telekinesis. Hm. I need some way to do damage (right?) I don’t really like invisibility or swingline, but I’d rather have teleport. Actually, I am going to swap invisibility and swingline for blink. So, I have stun, blink, and phasing. I’m sort of a proto-vision kind of character. Definitely works with my ghost theme.
I’m going to take a drawback and pick up one other trait… not sure what. I need a way to deal damage, so I’m thinking a weapon of some kind (a sword like his mom?) He doesn’t need the sword - he is bound to the realm, unlike his mom - but he THINKS he does. He has panic attacks when the sword is not on him. 
He will take melee weapon, sword, with his bonus trait. So, he has:
Stun, Phasing, Blink, Melee Weapon
Rolling for attributes:
12, 14, 15, 12, 13, 12
Wow did I roll really well! I’d like to bump up that 15 to a 16, and while it doesn’t make sense to drop 12s, I don’t need secondary attributes that high. I’m actually going to drop the two 12s all the way to 10, giving me 2 points; I bump the 15 to 16, and the 13 to 14. Noice. I arrange as follows:
STR 12 (+3); INT 10 (+2); PWR 16 (+5)DEX 14 (+4); CON 14 (+4); CHA 10 (+2)
For hit points, I roll 12 (I rerolled a 2 and got 6). That gives me 16 starting hit points.My Feat modifier is +8.My talent will be enemy (?) I don’t see this character having an enemy, but I guess he would… sure… hmm. Have to think on that more.
Armor class is going to be 15. 
I have to do some math on my traits:My sword deals base 1d8 damage. Happy with that. It cannot be thrown (and if it could be, he wouldn’t; he’s got that anxiety about being separated from it, so intentionally winging it at someone else in combat doesn’t make much sense).When I phase, I’m going to take +5 to AC (bumping it to 20), get +5 to hit and damage with my sword (instead of the +3 I get normally), and I can attempt a PWR check to move through solid objects. Dang that’s nice… I extend this to my blade (of course) which partially phases with me (or which channels some of my natural energy; something like that).I have a stunning glare (to 90’) that forces a target once per turn to attempt a Feat (DT 25) or be stunned for 1d6 rounds. Nice.
He’s going to be a hero, and his purpose is going to be to honor his mother (who is trapped in the Shadow Realm, and is only accessed via a special mirror). He was born in the shadow realm, but then was brought over. I was going to go with his name (Judah Jynx) for his moniker, but I looked up ghost in the thesaurus and found Ether. I modified that for a moniker. And, reviewing my notes, I see that I forgot a +1 to one attribute. Oops. I throw that into DEX.
EtherianJudah Jynx; Hero 1AC 15 (20 phased); hp 16; Feat +8; Sword (+4/1d8+4 -or- +6/1d8+6 while phased)STR 12 (+3); INT 10 (+2); PWR 16 (+5)DEX 15 (+4); CON 14 (+4); CHA 10 (+2)Enemy: The Shadow King Asigoth (and his servants)Blink (as a free action, up to 160’, 5x per turn)Phasing (one action once per turn; PWR check)Stun (one action; force target within 90’ to attempt Feat CR 25 or stunned 1d6 rounds)
I wanted a character a little bit like Nightcrawler; I think I have him. He’s definitely different, but he makes sense. 
About the Shadow Realm (also called the Vale of Shadows): This is a mystical dimension of dark energy. It is controlled by the Shadow King Asigoth, who seeks to cross over into our realm and touch all corners with shadow. His efforts were stopped by Zirah, who intentionally made herself a barrier between lands, preventing him from crossing over. 

The Saga Continues.. Not That One But My Castles & Crusades Ordering Adventure..

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 05/05/2020 - 21:49
The Castles & Crusades saga continues & this time it starts with the collectors Back on 24th Apr 2020 I was looking for some Castles & Crusades book bargains. Up pops the  the collectors & a bunch of great C&C titles. So I jumped at the chance to own some of these. They really are some great ones. I found  Castles & Crusades Death in the Treklant for 3 dollars & fifty Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Holmes Ref: Dungeoneering Reference Sheet

Zenopus Archives - Tue, 05/05/2020 - 21:06
Screenshot (click on image for a larger view)
Another week, another Holmes Ref sheet!

This one is a true DM's aid for dungeon exploration using the Holmes ruleset, covering Time, Movement, Light, Surprise, Wandering Monsters, Reaction Rolls etc.

DUNGEONEERING REFERENCE SHEET (click here to download)

A few notes:

---The 1/12 movement rate for combat rounds comes from two sources:
(a) the rates given by Holmes in the section "Combat Rounds, Time and Movement in Melee" on page 20, where indicates that movement in melee "is usually at a sprint; an unarmored man can move 20 feet per melee round, a fully armored man only 10 feet".(b) the extension of the above rules on page 3 of the first printing of B2 Keep on the Borderlands, which repeats the above rates, plus give 5 feet per round for Armored & Encumbered, and states that a monster's melee move can be determined by dividing the monster's move by 12 (although this really should be 6, see below).---Monster Movement. The column for "Monsters" on the Time & Movement table doubles the movement rate for monsters. This corrects a problem I noticed a number of years ago regarding the relative movement rates of characters as compared to monsters, as explained in this thread on ODD74.

To reiterate: OD&D had movement rates of 12" (120' in the dungeon) for light foot, 6" (60') for heavy foot, and 3" (30') for encumbered heavy foot. These are given in the Encumbrance Table on page 15 of OD&D Vol 1. 

But OD&D Vol 3 further explains that characters get two moves in a 10 minute turn, and thus gives a movement rate of 120' for a fully armored character (which is equivalent to heavy foot). Thus, the 60' rate for heavy foot (fully armored) is actually 120' in the dungeon.

Holmes, when making the Movement table for Basic, incorporated this double move into the listed rates, and thus giving an Exploring rate of 240' feet for unarmored (i.e. light foot), 120' for metal armor or encumbered (i.e., heavy foot) and 60' for metal armor & encumbered (i.e., encumbered heavy foot). 

However, the Movement table in Holmes does not include monsters, and the Monster List in Holmes does not incorporate this same double move per turn, and instead simply gives a Move stat for each monster that is as exactly given in the list in OD&D Vol 2. 

Without giving monsters these two moves, characters are going to be moving twice as fast relative to monsters. You can see this if you scan a list of monster movements (for example, in my Monster Reference Table), and note that the 240 feet/turn Exploration rate for an Unarmored men given in the Movement table is faster than any monster Move stat on the list other than Horses and some flying beasts. If you further compare the 240 feet/turn Exploration to the humans in the monster lists in Holmes, which including Bandits and Berserkers (each in leather armor), you will see that they have a move of 120 feet/turn, half of that of characters.

So to correct this, I've included a Monsters column, where it is noted that the movement for a monster in a turn should be double their Move stat from the Monster List. This doubling applies to ally of the movement rates: Exploring, Walking Normally, Running and Combat.

---The Phosphorescent Fungus is from the Sample Dungeon, Room L. Holmes also used this in the Maze of Peril. Real world fungal bioluminescene is known as foxfire. As I've written previously, "Margaret St Clair's The Shadow People, an Appendix N book that I read and enjoyed, has an extensive worldwide underworld lit by foxfire, but I don't know whether Holmes was familiar with this book."

---The Swimming rules are from the Sample Dungeon, Rooms H and M.

As usual, please let me know if you spot any typos & ask questions about anything unclear.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Spell Tactics for 8 Wizards in the D&D Monster Books and for a Wizard of Your Own

DM David - Tue, 05/05/2020 - 13:17

Evil wizards in Dungeons & Dragons can make exciting foes for players. They have access to a range of spells that threaten characters and create tactical puzzles. But that potential seldom translates into play. The designers of fifth edition aimed to make a typical fight last 3 rounds. That seems brief, but wizards lack hit points and they carry a big bullseye, so they can only dream of lasting so long. Too often, some evil “mastermind” stands in an open room, whiffs an initiative roll, and dies in an encounter that resembles an execution by firing squad. Dave and Gary did not give D&D to us just so players could claim a Table H treasure without a fight or even any cunning.

Five years ago, I wrote the The Evil Wizard’s Guide to Defense Against Murderous Treasure Hunters. That post focused on defensive spells and assumed dungeon masters would choose spells rather than stick to the lists in the Monster Manual and Volo’s Guide to Monsters. Sometimes players who see non-player wizards go off script can get a bit salty. After all, an archmage who prepares greater invisibility becomes a much bigger threat than one bringing the standard spells listed in the book. For a convention table, I’ll stick to a standard spell selection. For a home game that includes players who welcome a challenge, anything goes.

This post focuses on the game’s stock wizards and their spell lists.

Wizard encounters

Wizards make poor solo foes. Better fights come where wizards—even the boss—play supporting roles. Players must wonder if they can safely ignore a casters’ allies to focus fire on the wizard.

If wizards are paper, the party’s archers are scissors. Ranged rogues and sharpshooting fighters break concentration and heap damage on a wizard’s meager health. Avoid starting a fight with a spellcaster standing in the open, because they rarely bring enough hit points to survive long. In fifth edition, a character can move into view, cast a spell, and then move back out of sight. Make the party ready attacks or charge in to face the wizard’s allies. I dream of wizard battles where a solo wizard boasts defenses that the players must fight to unravel, but we have a game with sharpshooters instead. (This message brought to you by the alliance to return protection from normal missiles to D&D as a non-concentration spell.)

Spellcasters are smart and have the potential to become recurring foes, so whenever I pit the players against a wizard, I plan an escape and reserve the spell slots required for that plan. For lower-level casters, my escape may require invisibility or fly. Higher-level casters may reserve teleport or wall of force.

Next, identify the wizard’s most powerful offensive spells. For the mage and archmage in the Monster Manual, this means cone of cold followed by fireball. Few D&D battles last long enough to tap lesser spells.

Next check the wizard’s defenses. Without their defensive spells running, wizards become as fragile as soap bubbles. Unless the players make a special effort to gain surprise, and succeed, let the wizard raise a few defenses before they enter battle. Since defenses often require concentration, pick the spell that merits that focus. Sometimes this means concentrating on an offensive or battlefield control spell rather than a defense.

The rest of this post highlights the wizards in Monster Manual and Volo’s Guide to Monsters, from the tricky illusionist to the mighty (underwhelming) archmage.


A 7th-level wizard.


Invisibility [2nd-level Illusion] (V, S) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 1 hour)

Invisibility lets wizards escape from melee, but without much stealth, they need more tricks or obstacles to block a chase.

Disguise Self [1st-level Illusion] (V, S) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: 1 hour)

Disguise self enables an illusionist to blend into a crowd.

Minor Illusion [Cantrip] (S, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: 1 minute)

Minor illusion could make a hall or a door look like a plain wall for long enough to engineer an escape.


Phantasmal Killer [4th-level Illusion] (V,S) (Casting time: 1 Action) (Duration: concentration, 1 minute)

Phantasmal killer only hits one target and requires 2 failed saves before inflicting any damage. Even that feeble effect requires concentration. An attacking illusionist can only target the barbarian and hope for the best.

The illusionist starts with feeble offensive spells, so more than any of the other wizards, illusionists work as part of a group of foes.


Mage Armor [1st-level Abjuration] (V,S,M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: 8 hours)

Every wizard the players face will have mage armor in effect.

Mirror Image [2nd-level Illusion] (V,S) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: 1 minute)

Even compared to higher-level options, mirror image ranks as the best no-concentration defensive spell.

Make it fun

Illusionists make bad foes for dungeon showdowns. Instead, use an illusionist in an urban environment to trick an frustrate the party, potentially helping other attackers.

Major Image [3nd-level Illusion] (V,S,M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: 10 minutes)

Use crowds, illusion, and cover to avoid being spotted, and major image to befuddle the party. For a good model, think of the super-villain Mysterio as seen in Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Power up

Hypnotic Pattern [3nd-level Illusion] (S,M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, 1 minute)

To make an illusionist more dangerous, perpare hypnotic pattern rather than phantom steed and shield instead of magic missile.


A 9th-level wizard.


Misty Step [2nd-level Conjuration] (V) (casting time: 1 bonus action) (duration: instantaneous)

For a quick escape, use misty step to teleport to someplace relatively inaccessible, such as a balcony or across a chasm, then dash out of view. Misty step just takes a bonus action to cast, but you cannot cast a spell as a bonus action and cast another spell other than a cantrip in the same turn. See Player’s Handbook page 202.

Fly [3rd-level Transmutation] (V, S, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 10 minutes)

Fly offers a defense against melee attackers and a potential way to escape a fight that goes bad. When a wizard can fly in and out of cover, the spell makes a good defense.


Ice Storm [4th-level Evocation] (V,S,M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: instantaneous)

While ice storm falls short of the damage from cone of cold or fireball, the spell slows movement and makes a good opening attack.

Cone of Cold [5th-level Evocation] (V,S,M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: instantaneous)

Fireball [3th-level Evocation] (V,S,M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: instantaneous)

While the other wizards in D&D’s monster books include some weaker spell choices to make them into distinctive foes, the mage picks the strongest spells as a player might.


Greater Invisibility [4th-level Illusion] (V, S) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 1 minute)

Greater invisibility rates as the best defensive spell in D&D. Most attacks on you suffer disadvantage. Plus, you avoid spells that require a target “that you can see,” which includes counterspell.

Counterspell [3rd-level Abjuration] (S) (casting time: 1 reaction) (duration: instantaneous)

An enemy wizard will run out of turns before running short of spell slots. Counterspell gives wizards a use for their reaction and lets them benefit from casting two leveled spells in a round rather than just one. Counterspell lets you trade another caster’s action for a reaction that a wizard probably would not use. Despite the power of counterspell, most enemy spellcasters benefit more from ducking out of sight between turns.

Whenever players face enemy spellcasters, pay close attention to the 60-foot range of counterspell. If possible, spellcasters move out of that range before they cast.

Shield [1st-level Abjuration] (V,S) (casting time: 1 reaction) (duration: 1 round)

Shield offers protection against archers and melee attacker that lasts a full round. Use this to protect against readied attacks when you move into view to cast spells.

Also: mage armor.

Make it fun

The mage brings the best spells on the wizard list, so of all the monster-book wizards, this one hits hardest for its challenge rating.

Power up

For a more durable, and therefore more dangerous mage, swap suggestion for mirror image.


A 9th-level wizard.


Misty step.


Evard’s Black Tentacles [4th-level Conjuration] (V, S) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 1 minute)

In most fights, start with Evard’s black tentacles and follow with fireball.

Cloudkill [5th-level Conjuration] (V, S) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 10 minutes)

If the natural terrain somehow prevents attackers from easily escaping from a cloudkill, or against parties dominated by ranged attackers, start with cloudkill. Remember, cloudkill creates a heavily-obscured area that blocks vision.


Stoneskin [4th-level Abjuration] (V, S, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 1 hour)

The quality of stoneskin depends on the number of foes wielding magical weapons or attacks. Against groups likely to fight a 9th-level wizard, stoneskin offers nothing. Just about every non-player character wizard prepares stoneskin, and that’s always a mistake. With so many of the conjurer’s spells requiring concentration, stoneskin becomes doubly useless.

Also: mage armor

Make it fun

The combination of cloudkill and Evard’s black tentacles makes an exciting challenge for a party facing a pair of conjurers.

Power up

Prepare shield instead of magic missile and mirror image instead of cloud of daggers.


A 9th-level wizard.




Enchanters have fireball, which seems like a bid to give them something to do in a fight, even if that lacks the flavor of the specialty.

Hold Monster [5th-level Enchantment] (V, S, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 1 minute)

In the best case for hold monster, the enchanter paralyzes one character and spoils one player’s fun, then the rest of the party takes an average 1.5 turns to zero the caster’s 40 hit points.

Haste [3rd-level Transmutation] (V, S, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 1 minute)

Haste ranks as an excellent spell for an enchanter to cast on an ally, but a fight with a hasted, charmed assassin doesn’t feel much like a fight against an enchanter.

Dominate Beast [4rd-level Enchantment] (V, S, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 1 minute)

The best setup for a battle against an enchanter features a giant ape or a tyrannosaurus rex improbably around to become the target of dominate beast.


Instinctive Charm seems like defense that shows an enchanter’s flavor, but enchantment spells tend to require concentration, so an enchanter probably won’t cast one every turn, and the ability will rarely recharge. Let the ability recharge every turn anyway.

Also: mage armor and stoneskin.

Make it fun

An enchanter serves as more of a story piece than a combatant. For a fun battle against an enchanter, add odd creatures under a geas to defend the wizard and perhaps a fearsome beast in a cage.

Dominate Person [5th-level Enchantment] (V,S,M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 1 minute)

For enchanters to show their power, power up with dominate person.

Power up

Confusion [4th-level Enchantment] (V,S,M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 1 minute)

Switch hold monster for dominate person, confusion for stoneskin, and shield for magic missile.


A 12th-level wizard.


Wall of Ice [6th-level Evocation] (V, S, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 10 minutes)

A cautious evoker saves a 6th-level spell slot for a wall of ice to block pursuit.

Also: misty step.


Bigby’s Hand [5th-level Evocation] (V, S, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 1 minute)

Rather than casting chain lightening, start with Bigby’s hand to interfere with melee attackers, and then start blasting with cone of cold and either fireball or lightning bolt.

Lightning Bolt [3th-level Evocation] (V, S, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: instantaneous)


Mage armor, mirror image, and counterspell.

Make it fun

With so many blasting spells and few defenses, the evoker will probably strike hard, and then die quickly. This caster may work best supporting other foes in a high-level encounter.

Power up:

Prepare greater invisibility instead of stoneskin and shield instead of burning hands.


A 13th-level wizard.


Teleport [7th-level Conjuration] (V) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: instantaneous)

Teleport enables a near-certain escape, so long as you allow time to cast it.

Wall of Force [5th-level Evocation] (V, S, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 10 minutes)

Wall of force can serve three purposes.

  • Create a barrier to enable escape.

  • Trap some of your foes so the rest become outnumbered by your allies.

  • Create a defensive shield that blocks attacks while you blast foes.

An invisible wall of force lets you see targets for spells, but “nothing can physically pass through the wall of force.” Few wizard spells let you continue to concentrate on the wall while enabling attacks through the wall. Sadly, none of the non-player character wizards prepare both wall of force and something like disintegrate or finger of death. Unless you change spells, this lapse eliminates the wall’s third use.

Also: invisibility.


Symbol [7th-level Abjuration] (V,S,M) (casting time: 1 minute) (duration: until dispelled or triggered)

The abjurer’s most dangerous spell takes too long to cast in battle, but it lasts until dispelled or triggered. Each symbol costs 1,000 gp to inscribe. This leaves DMs to decide how many symbols protect an abjurer. One seems sporting.

Symbol aside, start blasting with cone of cold, and then fireball.

Banishment [4th-level Abjuration] (V,S,M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 1 minute)

As soon as you take damage, upcast banishment in a 6th- or 7th-level slot and bolster your Arcane Ward.


Alarm [1st-level Abjuration] (V,S,M) (casting time: 1 minute) (duration: 8 hours)

Abjurers should never face an attack unprepared. Best case, that means casting symbol on the entry, taking a position that puts a barrier between you and melee attackers, and having a globe of invulnerability in effect.

Globe of Invulnerability [6th-level Abjuration] (V, S, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute)

Globe of invulnerability only protects from magical attacks, so it just leaves most casters vulnerable to the party’s archers. Paper, meet scissors. Fortunately, the abjurer’s Arcane Ward grants a measure of protection that other wizards lack. Plus, the ward takes damage instead of the wizard, reducing concentration checks. The globe might remain active long enough to shape the battle.

Also: mage armor, shield, counterspell, and stoneskin.

Make it fun

The abjurer rates as the only wizard able to make a globe of invulnerability into a tactical challenge for an adventuring group, rather than a bubble a few arrows pop. So start with the globe. Once the wizard takes damage, switch to concentrating on banishment.

Forget the archmage, the combination of symbol, Arcane Ward, and banishment makes abjurers the most dangerous wizards in the monster books. If enough characters fail their saves, banishment could make half the party vanish. If you pit an abjurer against a group, ready a plan B involving a capture, a rescue, or a deal that can avert a total-party kill.

Power up

Prepare mirror image instead of arcane lock.


A 15th-level wizard.


Teleport and fly.


Mass suggestion [_6th-level Enchantment] (V, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: 24 hours)

A diviner’s best strategy probably starts with a mass suggestion that convinces everyone to leave in search of the real villain. Unlike suggestion, mass suggestion doesn’t require concentration.

Maze [8th-level Conjuration] (V, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: 10 minutes)

Escaping maze requires a DC20 Intelligence check. Because so few player characters boast an Intelligence above 10, the spell usually guarantees one character leaves the fight for its duration. If the party includes a paladin, then use maze to banish that character and their boost to saving throws. Otherwise, wait to see who saves versus mass suggestion.

Delayed Blast Fireball [7th-level Evocation] (V, S, M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: concentration, up to 1 minute)

A diviner can see enough of the future to know not to cast delayed blast fireball, saving their 7th-level slot for teleport instead.

Also: ice storm and fireball.


Portent will probably only get one use, so keep it for a saving throw.

Make it fun

Like an enchanter, a diviner serves better as a story piece than a combatant. Diviners make good patrons because they see enough of the future to send the party on quests.


An 18th-level wizard.


Teleport, wall of force, fly, misty step, invisibility, and disguise self.

The wealth of spells that enable archmages to escape reveal the role of these wizards: Archmages underperform in combat and work better as plotters who avoid fighting whenever possible.


Cone of cold, banishment, and lightning bolt.


Time Stop [9th-level Transmutation] (v) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: instantaneous)

Time stop gives an archmage a chance to cast a suite of defensive spells.

Mind Blank [8th-level Abjuration] (V,S,M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: 24 hours)

Mind blank serves as a story piece more than a spell that actually defends against anything players might use to attack an archmage.

Fire Shield [4th-level Evocation] (V,S,M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: 10 minutes)

As a 4th-level spell, fire shield ranks as the worst no-concentration defense. The damage amounts to less than a typical melee attacker can deal, and wizards lack health to lose in trade.

Combine fire shield with stoneskin, the worst defense that requires concentration, and you follow a recipe for a short and disappointing showdown.

Make it fun

The archmage’s spell list makes this wizard weaker in combat than some of the lower-level specialists. I suspect the designer who concocted this spell list imagined a fight starting with a time stop that enables an archmage to erect defenses, followed by a barrage of attack spells. Unfortunately, the feeble defenses do little to thwart a party facing an archmage. The archmage’s 99 hit points may not last two players’ turns. Paper, meet scissors.

The smart move is to skip time stop and upcast banishment at 9th-level, and then to blast the survivors who made saves. Once you thin those foes, cast wall of force to split the banished party as they pop back. Divide and conquer.

I’m not sure which of those strategies seems less fun for players.

The Intelligence-20 move is to teleport away to live for more evil schemes.

Power up

Disintegrate [6th-level Transmutation] (V,S,M) (casting time: 1 action) (duration: instantaneous)

Prepare greater invisibility instead of stoneskin and disintegrate instead of globe of invulnerability.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On Superhero Worlds

The Splintered Realm - Tue, 05/05/2020 - 12:05
On a suggestion, I found a pdf of the original version of Aaron Allston's Strike Force and skimmed through it - and I didn't love it, at least not in terms of what I want to do. I thought that the practical discussions around running supers gaming were good, but other than that it's mostly a roster of characters. I suppose that what I keep reacting to is that many supers gaming supplements are 'here are my/our cool characters' rather than 'here is where your cool characters live'.

It is one of the key problems with gaming in Marvel's or DC's worlds - it is awesome to be where Batman is and to fight some of Batman's enemies, but when Batman keeps showing up, he kind of takes the spotlight from you. I have addressed that by having all the great heroes be also kind of dead. Ermugurd, there were all these incredible heroes who did tremendous things, but now there's a bit of a void and we hope you'll step up, because they didn't take any of their villains with them when they died.

And, the fact that they're dead almost makes me want to avoid creating stats for them. How powerful was the Emissary? How much could Magni lift? What was Eldritch able to do? They assume a more mythical status if I don't tell you how powerful they were - because of that, you are always just a little bit in their shadow. And it's always just a shadow.

I'm interested in the stories of before and after those heroes lived. I'm actually not all that interested in telling stories about the greatest heroes at the height of their powers defeating overwhelming threats.

And again, my focus is on creating a living gaming environment, not a fixed world that has already had the coolest stuff happen.

Foul Deals in N1: "Against The Cult of the Reptile God" By Douglas Niles - An Alternative Timeline Adventure Set Up For Using The Siege Engine System

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 05/04/2020 - 18:35
"Terror by night! The village of Orlane is dying. Once a small and thriving community, Orlane has become a maze of locked doors and frightened faces. Strangers are shunned, trade has withered. Rumors flourish, growing wilder with each retelling. Terrified peasants flee their homes, abandoning their farms with no explanation. Others simply disappear. . .No one seems to know the cause of the Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

5e Inspiration android beta test 1

Blog of Holding - Mon, 05/04/2020 - 17:50

I just released the first Android beta test for Inspiration 5e. This test concentrates on dungeon exploration, levels 1 to 7.

You can download the APK at

Installation instructions: Follow the link above. You’ll need to say OK to install an untrusted app, and grant permissions for the app to look at your contacts and location. Note: I don’t save or share this information. I ask for photo permissions so that I can allow you to share a bug screenshot with me. I don’t use or look at location data at all, and I don’t know why the app asks. I’ll fix this in future versions.

Here’s what I’d like you to test:
-Turn on Map Mode and explore a dungeon
-Browse for a monster or spell

Here’s what I’d like you to tell me:
-Is it obvious how to save or reroll dungeon rooms, encounters, and treasure? With Map Mode on, is it obvious how to explore the dungeon?
-Is it obvious how to look up a monster or spell?
-When you restart the app, are your settings and Saved items saved?
-What are your biggest annoyances?
-Any suggestions or feature requests?

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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