New for 2021

After a busy time in the workshop, what started off as two new projects grew into four. This was because the Agora Core roleplay group needed new scenarios to match the intensity of the moment. Let’s walk through them…

Token’s Rock
(available from DMs Guild)
In Agora Core, the group was pursuing a slippery character called Baden, but to find him they would need to leave their comfort zone and enter a strange subterranean environment where ancient secrets are waiting to be revealed. This is a rich and surprising storyline that provides opportunities to gather information as well as some unique combat encounters.

Quarterstaffs of Legend
(available from DrivethruRPG)
After creating the Treasures of the Desert book, which contains 100 magical items, I watched a number of Japanese anime series and felt inspired to create a series of unique quarterstaffs. This was a fun project in which its simplicity allowed me freedom and flow to create interesting items. Quarterstaffs are generally underrepresented but there’s no reason that these honed pieces of wood couldn’t be lethal in combat or useful in traveling.

Tomb of the Witch Queen
(available from DrivethruRPG)
Currently in Agora Core, the party are biding their time, trying to stay in the good books of a tyrant until they can strike a deadly blow. From a range of options, they decided to go on a tomb-raiding mission for their employers. Creating this adventure was fun because it was a blank canvas and unrelated from the main plot thread. As I thought about who Sassaya (the Witch Queen) was, I thought about the history of the tomb, her strong, enduring magical essence, and how it was discovered later on by devotees as well as women who had nothing left to lose.

There is a section called the Witch’s Labyrinth, which is based on an idea that is a story element in the Hilda animated TV series as well as the sweet and sour anime, Magica Madoka. I decided to make traversing the labyrinth a player-driven experience, which is a decision I’m really pleased with.

War of the Wilds
(available from DMs Guild)
Inspired once again by the Agora Core group that I DM. A major plot thread in the campaign is the war over the wild and new landscape of the Da. As the players tried to gain allies and find an opportunity to defeat a dangerous enemy, they needed a backdrop where events and conditions could unfold at any given moment. War of the Wilds has become the setting template that I use for each session when they are traveling through the wilds of the Da.

Thanks for taking this tour of the new books with me. If you decide to give them a try with your group, I hope you enjoy the experience! Please do let me know.

Potions, Magic Items and Temples

It has been a busy few months as I hit a creative period. Following that was the inevitable administration; simpler tasks but no less time consuming! I am delighted to share this new set of ideas, that I believe will be a fun addition to any home campaign.

Glitzz’s Guide to Potions and Floral Amulets is a magical, easy-to-use collection that I adapted from a previous product (The Magic of Nature). For all 35 potions and floral amulets mentioned, it describes its effects and its rarity, which will affect its cost and availability. The ingredients used are also mentioned, and there is a table of ingredients with appearance, terrain where it is found and rarity, in case the DM wishes to allow players to literally ‘home brew’ their own potions and floral amulets!

The Hidden Sanctuary

Using the tables in the Dungeon Master’s Guide to create rooms and content was a fascinating process. It gave me the background with which to build up an adventure. The result was not what I expected and I was excited by the scenario.

The Hidden Sanctuary can be applied to any temple scenario and adds extra layers to a distinguished place of worship. What lies beyond the grand outer halls is sensational and could lead to many problems if discovered. The players will need to decide what to do with this information.

Treasures of the Desert

I was excited by the idea of creating a collection of 100 magical items. I created magical items for other modules and enjoyed the process. It soon became clear just how much work creating 100 items in a row was, but it was very rewarding seeing the collection completed.

Having the treasures come from the desert was a way to bring the items together under one theme. I based the desert on The Da; the prominent land mass in my home campaign. In that, it used to be a much different landscape and the Elven kingdom known as Chan’Danis. The idea that the desert dunes hid many lost artefacts from past kingdoms was an attractive one, and that sometimes a fortunate or persistent adventurer would uncover a tomb or ancient settlement containing these treasures. Only the Desert truly chooses when to reveal its secrets.

There are no future products in development at the moment as I will be spending the summer concentrating on other parts of my life, but I hope to create some quick documents if and when inspiration strikes during my home roleplay campaign, Agora Core. In the meantime, have a good summer!

Sea Adventures and Charity

The D&D group I DM are currently crossing the seas and decided to create a module based on their adventures.  It turned out to be a much larger volume than anticipated!  I am very pleased to release this to other groups and DMs who are looking for buccaneering, sea-swept adventures to add to their stories.

This was always going to be a product where the author’s royalties would go to a charity.  It’s a strange time for everyone, and I wanted to help in some way.  In buying this product, you will be helping ASTEP (Artists Striving to End Poverty); their Arts Resilience Fund is designated to bring the arts to those most in need during this time.

Crossing the Great Archipelago is available from DM Guild for $4.99.

The islands of the archipelago are jealously guarded by greedy rulers and powerful, wild creatures. The waters are the hunting grounds for pirates and sharks while corals and storms sink the ships of many a reckless captain.

There are 30 different scenarios and many unique encounters as well as some classic watery foes!  There are also 60 different treasure items, all rated from low to high, depending on the encounter.

Happy adventuring, and stay safe and well out there!

Rolling Word Play – 19

Creating Roleplay ideas based on randomly generated words.  Here’s today’s selection.  Discover more about Shrill Experts, Replaces Confining and Onions Relatives.

Shrill Experts
There are creatures called Rills that are so advanced in terms of sound manipulation that they can harm and stun their opponents with the mere use of their voices.  Unlike most humanoids they have 4 lungs and many air vents. They also have keen ears.  Their incredible aural powers have been developed mainly as a result of internal wars, meaning their own audible defences are also very strong. In terms of physique they are top-heavy with good strength and wasp-like eyes on either side of their head.  Their legs are thin with bird-like feet, giving them good agility and balance.  There is a rarer mutation that gives them four legs, and these are revered in Rill culture and obtain a high status in their society.

Replaces Confining
Welcome to Hamrash prison.  This salty plane of existence is a giant, infertile field. Plants do grow here – a variant of water cress – but they have little nutritional value and the prisoners need to eat a lot of them in order to survive, essentially turning them into cattle. There is one pool of water and the city state has created a number of artificial shelters.  The prison is very effective in humbling and wearing down the most temperamental of prisoners, but the city state has the moral issue of deciding whether to ‘police’ the prisoners’ behaviour in the prison or to leave them to it.

Onion Relatives
These rotund humanoids known as Inshi, appear to have a shiny, glossy skin.  It enables them to regenerate damaged cells and recover hit points. The skin can also be shed, peeling back to reveal an inner skin without the ailments of the outer.  When they choose to do this, their maximum hit points and strength are reduced, but they are fit and healthy once more.  Only a severe wound would affect the inner layers. They have approximately five working layers (depending on the individual) before the inner organs become exposed.  Here is an example of their stats in 5e (Int, Wis and Cha stay the same):

Outer Layer:  Str:16, Dex:10, Con: 18, Hit points = 40, Regeneration rate = 0

Layer 2: Str:14, Dex:12, Con: 16, Hit points = 34, Reg. rate = 1 hp/round

Layer 3:  Str:12, Dex:14, Con: 14, Hit points = 28, Reg. rate = 2 hp/round

Layer 4:  Str:10, Dex:16, Con: 12, Hit points = 22, Reg. rate = 3 hp/round

Layer 5: Str:8, Dex:18, Con: 10, Hit points = 16, Reg. rate = 4 hp/round

The Inshi can recover their outer skin(s), but it is a painful process that takes a considerable amount of time to do.

Rolling Word Play – 18

Creating Roleplay ideas based on randomly generated words.  Here’s today’s selection.  Discover more about Rallies Swings, Events Tilting and Reserved Sawdust.

Rallies Swings
The thieves guild has an assault course that tests their agility and ability to work together.  New initiates have to wait till at least four creatures are ready to join the guild before they’ll be considered.  They must then take the assault course together by each completing a lap of the course with a bundle of goods (represented by a sack of stones) and passing it onto the next initiate.  Failure can be very costly as there are not only dogs chasing the runners but also swinging weaponry to dodge and walls to climb.  Those that get hit by the assault course obstacles can become crippled for life or even die.

Events Tilting
Ambal’s Trembling Disk is a very powerful magical item.  Its size makes it very distinguishable as is it has the appearance of a black rock and so heavy that it uses a four-legged stand, making it a similar size to a desk. The central-top area of the disk is separate from the outside.  In shape, this central area is flat and then curves into a ball at the bottom.  A skilled magic user who has taken time to master the device can project a visible area of land up to 300 ft. onto the disk and start physically moving the central part of the disk up, down and around.  This causes the chosen area of land to do the same, affecting any creatures or buildings in that area as if hit by an earthquake.  It has been used in city defence and even carried into battle warfare before.  But where is it now?

Reserved Sawdust
In the Gamalen Forest, the wood lives on beyond the death of the tree.  This wood attempts to protect the soil beneath by crawling worm-like on the ground and find the best place for it to finally decompose.  One clever entrepreneur realised that if the wood is taken from the forest, it can have other uses.  Reserved Sawdust is a thieves’ favourite tool to cover their tracks as when dropped on the ground it looks for damp patches to cover and divots to fill.  Before long, the ground looks as if no one walked there at all.

Magic Users, Part II

How Characters Cast Spells

In Part I, I discussed the types of spellcasters and how they interacted with magic in the fantasy realm. It’s time to look at the mechanics of spellcasting.  How does it work in practice?

Here are the basics…

  1. Prepared spells:  Some spellcasters need to prepare spell for the day from a greater resource they have access to.
  2. Known spells:  Some spellcasters learn spells until they know them, meaning they do not need to prepare them in advance.
  3. Spell Slots:  Most spellcasters have Spell Slots (Monks are the exception), which represent their capacity to cast spells before their magic is used up and they need to replenish their energy.
  4. Spell Modifier:  All spellcasters use a modifier to work out how effective their spells are.  This affects their Spell Attack rolls and rolls for the Spell’s Difficulty Class for opponents to try and match or get a higher result when they roll a saving throw.

Each character class or sub class is a little different, so let’s compare…

Bards don’t study magic, they take what they know and perform. For that reason, bards have known spells and a charisma modifier.

Clerics are conduits for divine power.  They use Wisdom as a modifier.  They can cast any cleric spell available up to their current spell level, but need to have them prepared.  This is their Wisdom modifier + Cleric Level.

Druids draw on nature, as clerics draw on the divine.   They use Wisdom as a modifier.  They can cast any druid spell available up to their current spell level, but need to have them prepared.  This is their Wisdom modifier + Druid Level.

Eldritch Knight is a subclass of the Fighter.  Like Bards, they have known spells they learn as they improve and apply to their fighting style.  They draw from the wizarding spells and their modifier is Intelligence.

Monks learn to use magical energy called Ki.  They channel this energy in their martial art practices uses Ki Points.  The subclass Way of the Four Elements can cast elemental spells using Ki points.  Like Bards and Eldritch Knights, these become Known but are referred to as Elemental Disciplines and not spells.  They use a Wisdom modifier to determine out how effective their spells are.

Paladins learn to draw on divine magic as clerics do.  They use Charisma as a modifier.  They can cast any cleric spell available up to their current spell level, but need to have them prepared.  This is their Charisma modifier + half the Paladin’s Level.

Rangers learn to draw on nature as Druids do. But they behave far more like Bards and Eldritch Knights, applying what they have learned and using their Known Spell, learning more as they level up.  They use a Wisdom modifier.

Arcane Trickster is a subclass of the Rogue.  Like Bards and Rangers, they don’t study magic, they take what they learn and apply it. For that reason, these Rogues have known spells .  They use an Intelligence modifier.

Sorcerers have no need to study as magic is in their veins. Very much like Bards, they perform what they know.  Because of this, Sorcerers have known spells and a charisma modifier.  They also have Sorcerer Points, which can be used to enhance their spells in some way.

Warlocks are peculiar because although they have spell slots, all of these slots are the same level as their current spell level. They can still cast lower level spells but they will be using a higher level spell slot to do it.  They perform the gifts of their patron, so like Bards, they have known spells and a charisma modifier.

Wizards are the students of magic and draw from a spellbook to prepare spells (They should also use physical components as part of the spells’ preparations but not all roleplays apply this).  Because of this their known spells are whatever spells are in their spellbook, so researching and finding spell scrolls can be exciting!  They use the Intelligence modifier.  The number of spells they can prepare is their Intelligence modifier + Wizard Level.

Delving into D&D

Saving Throws

Recently I’ve been getting a few questions regarding the mechanics of D&D and how it works. The Player’s Handbook is excellent but it is just one explanation and sometimes what might make sense to one person might baffle another.   So this series is about looking at an element of D&D and explaining it in more detail.

Let’s start with a description of Saving Throws taken from Wikipedia:

A saving throw is a roll of dice used to determine whether magic, poison, or various other types of attacks are
effective against a character or monster.

What are they for?
In D&D they are used to determine whether a character can resist or avoid the effects of a threat, such as a
trap, drinking poison or being charmed by another creature.

How do they work?

When the Dungeon Master (DM) reveals a threat to the player, they will be asked to roll a saving throw based on one of their character’s attributes.  But which one?

Here are the 6 attributes as described by the Player’s Handbook, p.173:

Strength – measuring physical power
Dexterity – measuring agility
Constitution – measuring endurance
Intelligence – measuring reasoning and memory
Wisdom – measuring perception and insight
Charisma – measuring force of personality

I’ve listed 20 possible scenarios below and sorted them into the attribute the character needs to save against.  Next to that is the reason why that attribute is the one being used.

How do you roll a saving throw?

You roll a saving throw against a difficulty class given by the DM.  Often these are pre-determined; for example a monster’s attack effects (Beholder’s eye ray effects have a difficulty class is 16) or a magic user’s spells (8 + spell
caster’s ability modifier + proficiency bonus).

For difficulty classes not pre-determined, it is up to the DM to decide how difficult it is to avoid or
resist the threat. These range from very easy (difficulty class of 5) to nearly impossible (dc of 30).  The DM should
also say what character attribute it is against.

Now you know what you are rolling against, you roll a d20 die and add you attribute modifier.  If your character class has proficiency against that attribute, you add their proficiency number to the die roll.  For example, a Level 3 Wizard with intelligence of 16 needs to try and pass an intelligence save.  His intelligence modifier is +3 and as a
Level 3 wizard he can add his proficiency of 2. So his saving throw is 1d20 +5.

If the saving throw equals or is greater than the difficulty class, then they successfully save.  This normally results in avoiding or reducing the effects that were threatening them.

So does it matter what attribute to use when making a saving throw?

Yes, it will matter to the character making the save.  Each class has proficiency in saving throws for two attributes (see list on p.145 of the Player’s Handbook).  Here is an example:

Meet Pevel, a Level 5 rogue from my online RP campaign, Agora Core.  Rogues have proficiency in saving throws for  Dexterity and Intelligence.

In this example, Pevel is being attacked by a Beholder (yikes!).  The Beholder can attack with its many eye rays.  Let’s blast Pevel 10 times with 2 different eye rays. The first time through, we will use the Petrification Ray, which requires
a Dexterity saving throw.  Then we will repeat the dice rolls but this time, we will use the Sleep Ray, which requires
a Wisdom saving throw.  For both, the difficulty class is 16.

Pevel’s rolls without adding modifiers are:

13, 5, 1, 6, 12, 7, 14, 20, 18, 17

Against the Petrification Ray, Pevel uses his Dexterity saving throw.  As a Level 5 rogue, he add his proficiency, which is +3. So with his Dexterity modifier, his saving throw is 1d20 + 6.

That means his saving throws rolls are:

19, 11, Nat 1, 12, 18, 13, 20, Nat 20, 24, 23

Against the Sleep Ray, Pevel uses his Wisdom saving throw.  As a Level 5 rogue he is not proficient in Wisdom, so simply adds his Wisdom modifier.  He saving throw is 1d20 + 1.  That means his saving throw rolls were:

14, 6, Nat 1, 7, 13, 8, 15, Nat 20, 19, 18

The difference between the two results shows how your chances of success vary depending on your character’s attributes and class.  For the Dexterity saving throw in which Pevel was proficient, he successful rolled 16 or more 6/10 times.  But for the Wisdom he only succeeded 3/10 times.

What if there is no threat?

If there is no threat, then the character is not reacting to imminent danger to their life.  Any actions they take become an Ability Check instead.  These still use the core 6 attributes, but more often than not use skills, which character can have proficiency in.  For example, spotting a trap is a Perception Check (Wisdom-based), and working out how to disarm it with an Investigation Check (Intelligence-based).

Level 4, Episode 8

What Lies Beyond

Somewhere in the Da lurks a creature with enough power to
worry an ancient lich.  The party venture
into the unknown in search of the creature and to return with new servants for
the Lich Lord, Hayyaes.

This episode combines over 2 sessions of online D&D roleplaying.