Showing posts from 2010
Poison Elves(originally posted at the RPG Stack Exchange)
A new player character race for D&D 3.5, modeled after the Poison Elves of Drew Hayes' comic book series.
The diametrical opposite of the Grugach, Poison Elves are the urbanized, hookah-smoking assassins of Elvenkind. Prone to substance abuse and impulsive actions, they are nevertheless very capable survivors. Most Poison Elves are Neutral Evil alignment, and their preferred class is Rogue. They are originally descended from the Qualinesti, but were disaffected with the insular nature of their bretheren. Living in Human cities, they gradually developed into a separate race. Many expect the Poison Elves to breed themselves out of existence by intermarrying with Humans, but it is little known that many of them also have Shadar-Kai parentage. LA+0
These traits are in addition to the high elf traits, except where noted:
+2 Dexterity, -2 Wisdom, -2 Charisma. These adjustments replace the high elf’s ability score adjustments.Imm…
Desperate & Dateless?
Challenge Ratings and Encounter Level
(originally posted at the RPG Stack Exchange)

The Challenge Rating of a monster is a very useful guide for judging the difficulty of an encounter, but it is not an exact science. Experience with your own players will tell you how tough an encounter they can handle, and what kinds of encounters they are best at. When the entire party can gang up on a single monster (even one with multiple attacks) tactics on the battlefield can be less important than when they are outnumbered. However, the more monsters you have, the less certain the estimate of Encounter Level (EL) / "CR Equivalency" becomes. You should also be careful when advancing monsters (adding extra hit dice to increase their CR), as this too can lead to some nasty surprises. I find this online calculator to be very useful for estimating EL, especially when I'm using monsters with a range of different CR's in a single encounter:…
Gnod Yriah and his army of 1000 orcs had captured a village on the river Brallen, 70 miles downriver from Marchion. They used it as a staging point for raids on neighboring thorps and hamlets, as well as blockading the river and capturing any merchant caravans or ships that came past. Yriah, being a barbarian, is illiterate (as are most of his army). However, the adepts (orc shaman) are not.

The village itself has a diameter of 1000ft, so roughly 18 acres (785,398 sq ft) A village has an adult population of 401-900, with 2 adults per acre (43,560 sq ft) of crops 450 acres of arable land (150 acres left fallow + 150 acres of winter wheat), irrigation ditches 14 acres of forest and 18 acres of meadow

I created this map using Campaign Cartographer: City Designer 3 CD-ROM and exported it to PDF.

I installed the printer driver for the HP DesignJet 4500 postscript plotter and defined a custom page size of 1066.80mm wide (the maximum) by 1930.40mm, equivalent to 42in by 77.8in. The size …
Affiliation Contacts

Helena d'Mezzo
female half-drow bard 1 / cleric 9 of Oghma
Affiliation Score: 28 (superstar)
Init+0; Senses: Spot+4, Listen+4, Darkvision 60ft; AL: TN; Spd: 20ft (run x3)
Hp: 48 (1d6+9d8+10)
AC: 23 (+9 armor, +3 shield, +1 natural)
Atk: ranged +7/+2 (mwk comp shortbow 1d10, 19-20/x3, range incr. 120ft)
SA: 5/day - Turn Undead (Su) {turn level 7, turn damage 2d6+9}
SQ: immunity to sleep, +2 save vs enchantment, Bardic Knowledge +2,
Calm Emotion (Su), Healing Hymn (Sp), Inspire Courage (Su), Inspire Competence (Su) St: 13, Dx: 10, Co: 10, In: 12, Wi: 17, Ch: 14; SV: F+7 /R+6 /W+12
Skills: Bluff+8, Diplomacy+21, Disguise+13, GatherInfo+9, Perform+7, SenseMotive+10
Feats: Versatile Performer (CAdv 112), Negotiator, Wanderer's Diplomacy (PHB2 85), Landlord
Languages: Common, Elven, Undercommon, Guild Sign Language (Amazing Chicanery Troupe)
Domains: Trickery, Travel
Cleric Spells (CL 9, SV 13+lvl):
5th — teleport^D, flame strik…
An Affiliation for Bards
The rules for affiliations can be found in chapter 7 of the Player's Handbook II.

Name:The Amazing Chicanery Troupe
Symbol: A white snake, with red eyes and tongue
Motto: Trickery is mightier than the fist
Members: Lukwind, his cohort and followers
Secrets: Lukwind's identity as a Changeling; Rohit's identity as a Vanara; Helena's identity as a half-Drow
Type: Business
Scale: 1 (neighborhood)
Capital: 1

Criterion: Affiliation Score Modifier
Character level: +1/2 PC’s level
Charisma 13 or higher: +1
Bard: +1
Can cast 3rd-level or higher illusion spells: +1
Can cast 3rd-level or higher enchantment spells: +1
5-9 ranks in Perform, Tumble, Sleight of Hand or Gather Information: +1 per skill
10 or more ranks in Perform, Tumble, Sleight of Hand or Gather Information: +2 per skill
Extraordinary performance as part of the troupe: +1 per performance
Has no ranks in Perform, Tumble, Sleight of Hand or Gather Information: -2
Charisma 8 or lower: -2
Failed to show …
Planescape: TormentRetrospective by Kieron Gillen (Rock, Paper, Shotgun)
More lengthy, academic analysis of the game: Carr, Dianne (2003) Genre and Affect in Silent Hill and Planescape Torment
Game Studies 3(1) ISSN:1604-7982

The PC game has been re-released on the occasion of its 10th anniversary. However, you'll probably need to install the fixpackto run it successfully on XP or Vista.
Planescape: Torment has been released on It is their second most-requested game title.
GemRB Game Engine open source re-implementation of BioWare's Infinity engine, 1998-2002 Pages of PainTroy Denning's book
D&D em português do BrasilNo próximo sábado, eu vou jogar Masmorras e Dragões com meus amigos. Nós rolamos os dados e contamos histórias. Eles descem para o subsolo, mas não dragões já.

Depois, nós fizemos um churrasco de canguru e bebemos cervejas. Mas talvez demais ... está tudo bem, porque eu não dirijo. Eu viajo de trem para a Costa Dourada.

Where in the world is Gutboy Barrelhouse?

Je ne détruis pas le bugbear
Opposed Haggling Rolls

My simple rules for bargaining in D20, and why you shouldn't use them:

player rolls either Bluff or Diplomacy (or Charisma check)

opposed by the merchant's Profession or Sense Motive (or Wisdom)

If the player is buying, subtract the first roll from the second and add to 100%. That is the adjustment to the final price (for example, player rolls 44 and merchant rolls 18, so the player pays 18-44+100 = 74% of the standard PHB price)

If the player is selling, subtract the second roll from the first and add to 50% (eg. 44 - 18 + 50 = 76% of standard price)

As you can see from the above example, the player could potentially buy an item and then sell it back to the merchant for a 2% profit. However, I make the player roll 1d4+1 for the number of hours that it takes to find a buyer or a seller (a Gather Information check with DC 10 + 1 per 1000gp value). So they need to decide whether to take the standard price (or 50% if selling an item), or to spend their valu…
Rules Light, it sure ain’t
In case you're wondering what theseOSRgamers are on about, this is the contents of my game bag:
netbook and power supplydicepens, pencils, dry-erase markers, calculator, notepaper and graph paperrulebooks: DMG, Rules Compendium, PHB2Ultimate Toolbox (Aeg), Common Ground Imonsters: MM1, MM2, MM3, MM4, MM5 & Fiend Folio
(usually only 3 of the above, tailored to the encounters that I have planned)game module of the moment (in this case, Splintered Peace) as well as relevant issues of Dungeon Magazine for any side-adventures I have preparedportfolio of player handouts: maps, pictures of monsters and NPC's that they might encounter
15.4kg (34lbs) on the bathroom scales - too much for carry-on baggage, that's for sure. Enough to stress the rear suspension of my mate's ute, not to mention the risk of a dislocated shoulder or slipped disc!

But that isn't even the full story. I rely on my players to provide the following:
dry-erase board with 1…
A Crisis of Population Density
A static, hereditary aristocracy seems illogical in a world where adventurers accumulate wealth and power in epic proportions. My aim is to describe a setting that is much more an extrapolation of the D&D rules, rather than an emulation of a pseudo-Medieval, low fantasy setting.

Which is not to say that Helsmuth and Eastrealm do not contain pseudo-Medieval elements and an aristocratic class. However, that is not the driving force of civilization. Instead, the basic building block is the adventurer who achieves "name level" and establishes a stronghold. This harks back to 1st edition AD&D, which is part of why I like it, but is still just as relevant in 3rd edition (particularly with the Landlord Feat as described in the Stronghold Builder's Guidebook, and the Leadership feat as described in the DMG).

Many sourcebooks such as A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe and Dungeon Masters Guide 2are founded on the assumpti…

My D&D Campaign

Actual Play thread at

The thread begins with session #30, which is admittedly suboptimal. Older sessions, including James Thomson's awesome module the Maze of Screaming Silence, are available on my campaign wiki.
I haven't written AP reports for every session, which is why I chose to do it that way. I still have my notes for most of them, though, and do intend to write them up at some stage. The November 2009 session, when the party slays a black dragon, is still a work in progress.
The game started out as an attempt at an urban sandbox (session #1, July 2005 => session #6, August 2006). However, that fell pretty flat with my players, who felt that they really didn't have enough information to make meaningful decisions about what to do. When I introduced the plot hook for the Maze of Screaming Silence (one of the characters began having foreboding dreams) they jumped at it.
Most of the next 9 sessions were spent in transit, since the maze was located "at th…
En Route
Preventing an overland journey from deteriorating into a tedious succession of random encounters has always been a struggle for me as a DM. Therefore, when the player characters found themselves over 300 miles from the next plot point in the main storyline, I was keen to try out some of Penumbra's mini-adventures:

Dancin' The Night Away 
"A travelling party is charmed into serving at a pixie's dance and must escape." 
very harsh: all of the DC 20+ Will saves are not something that I would want to inflict on my players very often. If you take away their ability to act, then you reduce them to a passive audience. They are sure to find this trying on their patience. However, it is in keeping with the reputation of the fey as enchanters and illusionists. Gwydd and his band of cheeky tricksters are only after a bit of fun at the adventurers' expense, but their ploy stands a significant risk of backfiring. The player who heard Amadan's warning should have …
Fields of Blood: The Book Of War
Eden Studios have created a truly impressive pen & paper resource management sim. They describe in detail how a DM and players can incorporate these rules into their D&D 3.5 campaign. For 10th-20th level characters who decide to establish a stronghold and raise an army, this book provides a comprehensive, coherent basis for adding wargaming to your roleplaying.

However, there are aspects of these rules that are unsuitable for my own game: the rules operate on a fixed level of detail and impose certain assumptions on the way that settlements function.

Mass combat involves units of 100 basic troops, or their equivalent (a handful of giants, or one dragon). Resource management employs hexes with maximal diameter of 12 miles (just under 100 square miles in area). Since the empires in my game span millions of square miles, it is infeasible for me to describe every hamlet and outpost in such painstaking detail. Likewise, clashes between armies of thou…

Encounter Distance

Maximum spotting distance in the DMG goes up to 6d6x40ft on the plains, for creatures up to Colossal size. However, some Spelljammer ships are even bigger than that. Also, unless you are in an asteroid field or close to a planet, there is nothing to obscure vision. You don't even have the usual limit of the distance to the horizon, which is an important factor in naval combat.

In real life, the main difficulties are the contrast/lighting conditions (wooden ships wouldn't reflect much light, but the white sails of some vessels would) and the angular size of the object.

A medium-size creature (say, 6ft in height) between 240ft and 1440ft away would have an angular size of between 14 and 86 arc minutes. It is a DC 20 Spot check to notice the creature at that distance.

A Drow/Neogi Deathspider with 175ft beam length would appear to be the same size if it was between 7,000ft and 43,000ft (8 miles) away. So if the lookout succeeds at a DC 20 Spot check, then he or she would notice the …
Open Mass Combat System
Mongoose Publishing introduced the OMCS in Seas of Blood (2001), then expanded upon it in Quintessential Fighter (2002).
Of all the mass combat systems I've come across for D20, this one is the easiest to convert a creature stat block into its corresponding mass combat statistics. Unit Hit Points (UHP) are equal to the total number of hit dice for all members of a unit, adjusted by Constitution modifier (and possibly by Toughness feat). Cavalry units receive a 50% bonus to account for their mounts. Particularly large or small units receive a modifier to damage from their ranged attacks. And then you're basically done.
You roll a single to-hit roll for the entire unit, which is just the ordinary to-hit modifier for a single member of the unit, adjusted by the relative size of the unit and its target (eg. if a unit attacks another unit half its size, it receives +1 to hit and a x2 damage multiplier. Conversely, it's opponent is at -1 to hit).
You can make…