Friday, March 10, 2017


I've been working on a condensed version of D&D 5E. Condensed mostly in terms of player character complexity. I think I have it in a ~95% or so completed state. That's usually around when I abandon things I work on, so I figured I'd just go ahead and share it. I have mixed feelings about it. All I did was scrap backgrounds and archetypes, streamline racial bonuses a bit, and that's about it. Not really much to write home about. Maybe some people out there will find some of the bits usable in whole or in part. If nothing else, the printable spell reference booklets ought to be handy. Enjoy!

D&D 5E LITE Player's Handbook (basically a character creation guide)
Basic Rules Cleric Spell Reference (Spell Levels 1-5)
Basic Rules Cleric Spell Reference (Spell Levels 1-3)
Basic Rules Wizard Spell Reference (Spell Levels 1-5)
Basic Rules Wizard Spell Reference (Spell Levels 1-3)
D&D 5E LITE Character Sheet

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

5 good things and 5 bad things about D&D5

So I've played and DM'ed about a dozen all-day sessions of 5th edition D&D. I'm certainly no expert on the system or anything, but I have enough of a feel for it to make these two lists about stuff I like and dislike about it. So here it is:

The Good
  1. The streamlined core mechanic: d20 + ability mod + proficiency bonus, with or without advantage/disadvantage. This makes the game so much easier to run. Fast, simple, and fun.
  2. Equipment packs. About time. (Can't remember if 4E had this or not)
  3. Pretty good balance of detail/simplicity. We play with minis more often than not, and it's refreshing to have this playstyle be well supported, but also fast and simple to adjudicate. Combats run well and I'm very happy with this.
  4. Backgrounds (the roleplaying cue parts). My players don't seem to have latched onto this at all, but for my PC, it was great to have the handful of cues from Trait/Ideal/Bond/Flaw to help me figure out how my character would act.
  5. Familiar but new. The game is without a doubt D&D, but every time I crack open one of the books I find a new twist on something. This is really cool because it's like rediscovering D&D all over again. Examples: add DEX mod to ranged weapon damage (even crossbows), partial move/act/partial move is something everyone can do without fancy feats, the concentration mechanic, the attunement mechanic, magic item and spell mechanics, etc. I haven't found many of these tweaks that I wouldn't be able to classify as improvements, although the way the sleep spell works is a bit clunky.

The Bad
  1. The game's been out for a year and there are no official digital/web tools. Character generation isn't extremely cumbersome, but it's time-consuming and complex enough that an app like the 4E character builder would be welcomed with open arms (minus the monthly subscription fee of course). The SRD is out now, so we have and people can at least start building stripped-down versions of these tools, but they won't legally be able to support all the options in the PHB. It makes me very sad because these things would make my life so much easier as a DM/Player of the game. P.S. - Fantasy Grounds, the only application that is fully licensed to have all the PC options, and meant for online play, is one of the worst pieces of software I've ever had the displeasure of trying to use. It makes the 2E CD-ROM suite look like sleek Apple software.
  2. Character creation as outlined is a bit goofed up and can necessitate some backtracking to re-select skills that are duplicated and that sort of thing. I think it should go Abilities > Race > Background > Class. This is kind of a head scratcher, like, how'd they screw this up? Also, character creation takes way too long. It would be nice if they got you up and running more quickly. In my experience it seems like it can take about 30-60 minutes depending on if you have to pick spells or not.
  3. The cover art SUCKS. On the whole, I think the interior art is mostly good, but the cover art is too monochromatic and lame. The Monster Manual is the least offensive of them, but the color scheme of the PHB cover honestly makes me want to vomit. If they ever release PDFs of the core books, the first thing I'm going to do is make myself some POD versions with decent cover art. Maybe if we're lucky they'll make some special edition sets with better covers.
  4. Backgrounds are cool to flesh out the character, but I think they went a bit overboard with them. Having skills, languages, equipment, and features tied to background make them too bulky and too much of a difference maker to discard completely. If background was just the roleplaying bits, Ideal, Flaw, etc. then the players who wanted it could use it and the players who didn't care could just generate their character faster. I'd be interested in ideas for a replacement system for backgrounds that is faster and balances with characters that have the regular by-the-book backgrounds. Maybe just choose a feat instead?
  5. The characters have too many class features. You can't really give too many magic items because they would just become way too goddamn powerful. I guess this is why they limited attuned items to 3. I'd rather have more goodies to acquire in play, and less abilities that you get automatically when leveling.
In summation, I guess you could say I love the gameplay, but not a huge fan of the complexity of characters. I like it to be possible to generate a character in 10 minutes or less, and I like the characters to get cool stuff through adventuring, not just have a billion built-in class abilities.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Rod of Seven Parts... In SPAAAAACE!

My 5E campaign is about 18 months old, and we just recently had our 12th session. We get together far too infrequently, but the campaign itself has really started to hit its stride in my opinion. Here are some highlights thus far:

  • Campaign began with the classic adventure T1: The Village of Hommlet. They left the moathouse mid-delve to go rest and come back, giving Lareth the Beautiful a chance to move his operation elsewhere. He has since come back to harass them once or twice. I need to work him in more. They got their first piece of the rod, which to them was just a wand with some healing powers.
  • One session had half the party absent, so we did the DCC RPG adventure Tower of the Black Pearl. The result was that all lawful heroes of the land of level 5 or higher had their lives extinguished. Oops!
  • A small homemade dungeon netted the party their second rod fragment. I was aggravated at how little a basilisk challenged the group. They all just averted their gaze and roflstomped him, even with disadvantage.
  • We did the classic Ravenloft adventure. I didn't use Curse of Strahd, I used the original adventure with some conversion notes I found on Reddit. First session was spent traveling to Barovia and farting around in town. The next session they went to the castle proper, and it was very interesting how it played out. Due to some random bat swarms in the courtyard, they ran around back and broke into the chapel window. Boom, holy symbol. Then they proceeded to go downstairs and spend lots of time demolishing a bricked up staircase that was in their way. They handled all the associated encounters this triggered (it was quite a few!) so I let them proceed. While in the crypts, they dealt with some monsters and got harassed by Strahd a few times, but it wasn't long before they had the Sunsword in hand. It was sheer luck that they got the items the way they did, because they literally had explored maybe 5% of the castle before having the two major items and also having found Strahd's resting place, giving them the opportunity to smash it up, pee on it, and pour holy water all over it. When they next encountered him upstairs, he was poised to start laying them out, when all of a sudden the fighter landed a solid blow, followed by an action surge and a critical hit, which reduced Strahd to a cloud of fog. They quickly ran down to his coffin to put in the final nail. I just gave them all the treasure in the castle and the castle itself as a reward. On the plus side, I'll be able to use the adventure again in the future since they explored so little of the castle. They also got the 3rd part of the rod here.
  • At this point, we had a bit of an interlude, and I had a wind duke come talk to the party and ask to take over the rod segments. Of course they refused, setting them on the path to complete the rod. He pointed them in the direction of a mind flayer lair (the one from Volo's Guide to Monsters) where they could steal a spelljamming ship, since the remaining four segments are on other planets/planes. They did surprisingly well infiltrating the lair and dispatching some mind flayers on their way to getting the ship, thanks to the party's assassin. Unfortunately this ship only has a lifejammer helm, and they weren't too keen on sacrificing lives to power the ship.
  • Next they had to travel to an island to plunder a long lost wizard tower (C2: The Ghost Tower of Inverness) in order to raid his library to learn stuff about the rod and its history, traveling through space, etc. They got lots of cool information and books, an astrolabe and star charts which will help them navigate the local solar system, as well as lots of alchemical items and a few magic items. They are starting to feel how restrictive it is to only be allowed to benefit from 3 attuned magic items at a time.
  • Looking forward, they will need to complete some tasks in order to continue assembling the rod, but I intend to disrupt their designs by staging an attack on Castle Ravenloft by BROODMOTHER SKYFORTRESS! The giants will be space demons sent by the Queen of Chaos to harass the party. This will also be an opportunity for them to get a traditional spelljamming helm to replace the lifejammer they currently have. You know, so they can sleep better at night.
So the quest to complete the Rod of Seven Parts will be headed into space before long. I'm much looking forward to it. I got the two main books from the Spelljammer boxed set from half price books a few years back, and I've been poring over those. I have some ideas for how to adapt a few of these things to 5E, although most of it doesn't require any changes. I'm using our real-life solar system as the framework for all of it, and they are currently on earth. It's going to be awesome! More posts soon!

Here is the ship they stole from the mind flayers. Boy were they pissed!

Deck plans for the ship

Monday, January 9, 2017

DCC RPG Reference Booklet - In Spanish!

The good folks over at Other Selves have been hard at work translating DCC content to Spanish language versions. Go here to check out all the stuff they have going on. I've also added links to the Spanish versions of the DCC RPG Reference Booklet to my DCC RPG Resources page.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Another d66 Item Chart

For TOON or whatever gonzo thing you're into...

11. Sword
12. Laser Gun
13. Can of Fart Spray
14. Net
15. Pet
16. Guitar
21. Candy Bar
22. Fire Extinguisher
23. Scuba Gear
24. Helmet
25. Jet Pack
26. Nunchucks
31. Pocket Trampoline
32. Ice Cream Van
33. Magnifying Glass
34. Butterfly Knife
35. Lunchbox with Food in it
36. Bohemian Earspoon
41. Bear Trap
42. Wheel of Cheese
43. Deck of Flash Cards
44. Fireworks
45. Snakeskin Jacket
46. Night-Vision Goggles
51. Calculator Watch
52. Plate Armor
53. Foam “#1” Finger
54. Can of Spray Paint
55. Flame Thrower
56. Stink Bombs
61. Aerosol Cheese
62. Dog Whistle
63. Bottle of Viagra
64. Jar filled with Carpenter Ants
65. Tin of Mustache Wax
66. Fake ID

6 Alternatives to the +1 Weapon

+1 weapons rub me the wrong way. Maybe because the name has game mechanic math built right into it. I offer a few alternatives, none of which are ground-breaking, but at least the names don't have algebra in them.

Note: These were written with 5E in mind.
  1. Powerful. These are the simplest of magic weapons that just have a damage die that is one step up, so a shortsword that does 1d8 damage instead of the standard 1d6, or a longsword that does 1d10 damage for example.
  2. Brutal. Exploding damage. When you roll the max value on the damage die, you roll again and add the result. For a stronger variant, use 2d6 for damage and roll again whenever doubles are rolled (Doubles add and roll over [DARO] from Tunnels & Trolls).
  3. of Accuracy. Attacks are rolled with a d24. Advantaged attacks are d24+d20 and take the better result. These can introduce some issues, as criticals and fumbles are less likely. This should only matter if you are OCD like me.
  4. Bane. Advantage against a certain type of enemy (goblins, giants, undead, dragons, lawfuls, whatever). There are some more powerful variants that additionally do double or even triple damage to the type of creature they are designed against.
  5. Ultralight. These are the heavier one-handed weapons that deal 1d8 damage, like a longsword or a morningstar. They have been enchanted to weigh half as much as normal, and as a result they have the [light] and [finesse] properties, so they can be enjoyed by rogues and dual-wielders.
  6. of Wizardry. Enables the attuned wielder to use an action to cast a wizard cantrip at will. The most common versions have the Light spell, which is highly valued by humans and halflings. The Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide has a few cantrips that would work well with this, like Booming Blade or Green-Flame Blade.
I'd love to hear any other simple ideas in the comments...

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Saturday, January 30, 2016

DCC Warrior Class for D&D 5E

I've attempted to port the DCC Warrior to 5th edition. I'd play it. Check it out HERE.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Punching and Wrestling

I found this post in my drafts folder from god-knows-when:

Some of my earliest D&D memories come from this table (which is from the AD&D2E DMG, table 42, for those who didn't know). Of course my first game started in a tavern, and of course there ended up being a fight. We had great fun just rolling away on this table to see what happened. So right away I learned that charts make everything better.

On a side note, I found this really cool 2E online SRD of sorts:

I hope to see a full-blown online reference for 5E some day, but I'm not holding my breath...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Need to Come Off Hiatus

So I let 2014 escape with me playing hardly any D&D. HOWEVER, I have the 5E PHB in hand, the MM and DMG are en route, and I have I $200 box full of stuff being sent to me from Finland. The gears are grinding and I'm getting ready to come anew in 2015 with something fresh, something possibly RED and/or PLEASANT. That is all.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

D&D 5E Basic Rules - Lulu Cover

Step 1: Get version 0.2 of the player rules and version 0.1 of the DM rules HERE. (printer-friendly versions)
Step 2: Remove the last page from each file (it's an advertisement) so that there is an even number of pages.
Step 3: Start your lulu 8.5x11 perfectbound project. Upload the two files for the interior of the book. You should end up with 174 pages total (114 player book and 60 DM book).
Step 4: Use the "Advanced one-piece cover designer", and upload this file for the cover.
Step 5: Order a few copies for your group, and enjoy!

Don't use this! Click the link above in Step 4.

The cover is simply a modified version of this one here. I started to make one based on the Moldvay basic book, which I still think is a cool idea, but I was struggling with it so I gave up on that for the time being. Got any other cool cover files? Link them in the comments!

(This is of course intended for personal use, not so you can resell someone else's IP. Just in case anyone missed that obvious point.)

And one final note: There will be further updates to the Basic Rules documents in the coming months if I'm not mistaken, so if you are only interested in the final-final version of the basic rules, you can ignore this for now.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

DCC RPG Reference Booklet - Revised and Expanded

Finally, after over a year of toil, I can present you with the updated version of the DCC RPG Reference Booklet. I expanded it out to include more of the useful charts, cleaned up the layout, and commissioned two of my favorite artists, Stefan Poag and Doug Kovacs to create some great art for it. I offer it to you now, free in PDF, or in print from Lulu at a small markup, in the hopes I can recover some of the cash I laid out for the art. I've ordered several rounds of proof copies to ensure that the thing is error-free, but if you find anything, please let me know. Enjoy!

One final thing worth noting... When I began work on this thing, I designed it around Lulu's 6x9 saddle-stitched offering, which at the time included thick, glossy pages and a really bright and durable cover. They've recently changed their 6x9 saddle-stitch book to use thinner, cream-colored pages and what appears to be a lower-quality printing process for the cover. By the time I discovered this, I was too far along in the process to be willing to put the time and effort into exploring other options. Although the book is not as rad as I initially planned, it is still quite serviceable, and the cost is less so at least I can offer it for a few bucks cheaper.

Okay, enough rambling. Here you go:

DCC RPG Reference Booklet - Free PDF

DCC RPG Reference Booklet - Lulu Print $6.66