Wednesday, September 3, 2014

5E Monster Manual

I managed to get an advanced copy of the new Monster Manual on eBay...


They were given as swag with the VIP packages at GenCon 2014 and either the seller isn't a fan or decided to make some cash to cover his trip to the con and plans on getting another copy on general release. In an event, this version has been signed by the development team...


Greg Bisland, Kate Irwin, Peter Lee, Mike Mearls, Rodney Thompson, and Steve Townshead. What I really wanted was early access to the book, but the sigs are a bonus. In all of the years collecting D&D stuff, I've never bothered to acquire anything signed.


There are other sites with reviews and I'm not going to bother beyond saying it is a beautiful book. As with the Player's Handbook, the art directors have managed to maintain a consistent look throughout despite the many different styles presented. The water color backgrounds and inclusion of many pencil sketches add a nice touch. The few entries I've had the chance to read seem well done and I am looking forward to actually reading the book cover to cover.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Basic D&D


The day is finally here...

Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons

These are free and contain rules for creating characters with four races (Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, and Human) and four classes (Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, and Wizard) with the progression to level 20 (albeit with limited choices). The PDF also includes most of the rules needed to play, equipment, and spells. So far there are no monsters, but many of these will become available over the next few months as the basic rules are expanded.

Bravo, WotC... This was a great move and I look forward to seeing what the rest of the year brings!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

"If it's in there, it's in the Basic Set"

An excerpt from an interview with Mike Mearls...

Jonathan Bolding: Because of the staggered release schedule there have been some concerns over both home and organized play, and whether or not people will have enough material to start playing their weekly campaign right off in the new edition and carry them all the way through release. What would you say to people concerned about that?

Mike Mearls: I would say that's definitely where Basic D&D comes in. When the Starter Set launches it's going to cover character creation. Once the Player's Handbook launches we'll update it. [Basic D&D] is going to be a updated a few times when it first launches. With basic D&D you'll have the core monsters, magic items, all the rules for creating adventures, for Dungeon Master guidelines, for balancing encounters, for treasure, treasure tables, encounter tables. This is literally the process I used to outline it: I took the old basic set from 1981 and just the rules in there, the magic items, if it's in there it's in the basic set - except a few things that people don't see as iconic anymore. For monsters, we just went through and said "What are the typical fantasy monsters like Orc, or Ogre?" with a few adjustments for power level in there so there's a nice curve. In theory, with basic D&D, you could run an entire campaign. The core rulebooks could be expansions to that. The core rulebooks are like Advanced D&D.

The bold text is mine and what I wanted to emphasize. By the time the DMG rolls out, we will essentially have a free 80's style D&D rule set. There won't be all of the options that you get with the core books, but you will have enough content to run entire campaigns. Adding the core books will make the transition to AD&D and it will be far easier than it was to convert back in the day.

I really think they've hit this out of the park.

Red the entire interview on The Escapist...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Basic Dungeons & Dragons

From Mearls latest column on the WotC website...

Basic D&D is a PDF that covers the core of the game. It’s the equivalent of the old D&D Rules Cyclopedia, though it doesn’t have quite the same scope (for example, it won’t go into detail on a setting). It runs from levels 1 to 20 and covers the cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard, presenting what we view as the essential subclass for each. It also provides the dwarf, elf, halfling, and human as race options.

But the best part? Basic D&D is a free PDF. Anyone can download it from our website. We want to put D&D in as many hands as possible, and a free, digital file is the best way to do that.

If Basic D&D is the equivalent of the classic Rules Cyclopedia, then the three core rulebooks are analogous to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Want more character options? Pick up a Player’s Handbook. Looking for more critters for your campaign? The Monster Manual has you covered. Want to sculpt a unique campaign? Pick up the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Still, Basic D&D is the true heart of the game and could easily provide a lifetime of gaming.

At the launch of the D&D Starter Set, Basic D&D will include the material needed to create characters and advance to 20th level. In August, with the release of the Player’s Handbook, Basic D&D will expand to include the essential monsters, magic items, and DM rules needed to run the game, along with the rules for wilderness, dungeon, and urban adventuring. (The Starter Set already covers the aspects of these rules that you need to run the included campaign.)

As we introduce new storylines like Tyranny of Dragons, we’ll also make available free PDFs that provide all the rules and stats missing from Basic D&D needed to run the adventures tied into the story. The adventures released as part of Tyranny of Dragons are playable without requiring any of the core rulebooks or the Starter Set. With just the Basic Dungeons & Dragonsrules, you can play D&D for years.
Basic D&D makes it easier than ever for new players and DMs to jump into tabletop RPG play. We’re involved in the greatest gaming hobby ever invented. It’s time to bring that hobby to everyone who wants to take part.

Epic win. A fully playable D&D set as a free download. Beginners can get their hands on the core rules for nothing and enjoy a full fledged campaign experience.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Heraldry of Quindia

I always loved the heraldry from the old Greyhawk folio and Harn books. I've had rough designs for Quindia for a long time but I just recently managed to sit down and work up professional versions...


The arms with mantles are the major nations of Quindia. The three small shields at the top are for city states. The remaining shields are famous knightly orders from various nations. The Order Infernus (dedicated to the Elemental Lord Kakatal), Checkered Shield, and Order of the Wall are all from Bronet, the Knights Griffon and Knights Panther from Goland, the Slayers Brotherhood are based in Modria, the Order of Malice (dedicated to Dartilla) and Shattered Lance are from Beelzia, and Doomfall from Sazir.

Of course there are many more coats of arms, but these represent the ones that most citizens of Quindia would recognize. This was a fun project and if I get the chance I'll work up some of the major noble houses from across the realm.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Fall of Memnoch the Damned

I don't have a huge amount of notes on the session involving the attack on the kobold lair. I do remember that the fighters had been having lots of success using the the AD&D rule that allowed fighters one attack per level against monsters with less than one hit die (i.e. kobolds) and they opted initially for a frontal attack! Things were going well until Memnoch decided to break away from the party and head toward the chieftain and ran into a pack of ONE HIT DICE monsters, humbling him back to a single attack per round. The rest of the PC's were tied up and couldn't reach him. Memnoch did manage to kill the leader, but he was pulled down under and avalanche of angry kobolds. The NPC Loopika died as well.

The rest of the session was a running battle. The characters reached the dubious security of the lair and managed to face down smaller groups after that. Resistance was still fierce until the Shaman was killed as well. With discipline poor at best, the loss of the leaders took most of the fight out of the tribe and the monsters scattered. The Reavers actually went to loot the tribe's treasure rather than pursue such obviously dangerous foes. The heroes managed to recover all of the parts of the lute except for the emerald arrow and they were forced to pursue the Reavers for a day to recover it.

Returning to the lair, they found it deserted. Aware that the kobolds would return with reinforcements, they gathered up Memnoch's body and retreated to the mountains. With no guide and no boat, they knew they faced a difficult journey and had no way to carry Memnoch back to civilization. Strom knew the funerary customs of the Midga involved burning the corpse of a fallen warrior with his weapons and those of his foes so they preformed the rites as best they could and then buried the bones in a hastily constructed cairn.

The Tomb of Memnoch the Damned is marked on the Quindia map...


Friday, May 3, 2013

The Red Slashers

From my notes...

The kobolds of Pheba are split into a dozen tribes, held together by Meerak, and iron-willed warlord of unusual size and cunning. His elite guard, the Reavers of Meerak, are spread throughout the kobold empire to act as shock troops in battle and as enforcers in peace. The guard are fanatically loyal and well equipped, armed often with poisoned weapons!

The Lute of Harmonious Order has not fared well. It was not viewed as great treasure and was cast to one of the lesser tribes - The Red Slashers. The magic has preserved the artifact, but it has been dismantled my the industrious little monsters to more evenly divide it among the tribe:

1. The neck and headstock will appear first, rudely wielded as a weapon by the leader of the first band of kobolds the party meets.
2. The body has been added to a unit as a drum.
3. The golden tuning keys and two golden strings adorn the tribal shaman.
4. The third golden string is wrapped around the haft of the chieftain's mace.
5. The fourth and final golden string is in the purse of a Reaver.
6. The emerald, fashioned as a single arrow and set into the body, has been removed and heaped witht he rest of the tribe's treasure - mostly copper and silver coins mixed with silks, some pewter and bronze statuettes, and a Cloak of Displacement.

The Slashers are a small tribe, some 300 warriors strong. At the present time, roughly one-third of the tribe is deployed with Meerak's forces on the border of the Iron League. Those left are organized into packs of 15-30 warriors. In addition there are the chieftain's bodyguard numbering 20 (1HD monsters) and the detachment of Reavers of Meerak numbering 13 (2HD monsters).

At any one time, one unit will be deployed at the lookout post (though discipline is lax and only about half of the expected number actually show up for this duty). One unit will be ranging on patrol, one unit bolster's the chieftain's guard, and one guards the slaves at the stockade or in their duties. Most of the slaves are normal folk, captured in raids on caravans and will run away if given the chance. However one is an elven Fighter 2nd named Dilanius and he will fight with with the party if given a weapon.