Sunday, April 12, 2020

Character Sheet for 5E

I was up late last night enjoying the quiet in my house and looking for a way to entertain myself. I decided to make this character sheet in Excel that gave me some nostalgic feeling of the AD&D 2E character sheets I spent so much time with as a youngster.

This is not the coolest character sheet by far, but I got enjoyment out of figuring out how to arrange all the boxes.

Click here for link to the PDF

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Buddies and Pets for 5E

I recently purchased the 5E Essentials Kit boxed set to play with my kids. It allows for the PCs to have sidekicks if you have a small party of only like 1 or 2 PCs. Provided are stat blocks and leveling rules for three sidekick types: Expert, Warrior, and Spellcaster.

I think this is a cool idea, but I wanted to provide more options, so here is the list I allowed them to choose from, which generally consists of CR 1/8 or 1/4 entries.
  1. Aarakocra (MM 12)
  2. Axe Beak (MM 317)
  3. Blink Dog (MM 318)
  4. Blood Hawk (MM 319)
  5. Boar (MM 319) 
  6. Bullywug (MM 35)
  7. Camel (MM 320)
  8. Constrictor Snake (MM 320)
  9. Dretch (MM 57)
  10. Duodrone (MM 225)
  11. Flumph (MM 135)
  12. Flying Snake (MM 322)
  13. Giant Badger (MM 323)
  14. Giant Bat (MM 323)
  15. Giant Centipede (MM 323)
  16. Giant Crab (MM 324)
  17. Giant Frog (MM 325)
  18. Giant Lizard (MM 326)
  19. Giant Rat (MM 327)
  20. Giant Weasel (MM 329)
  21. Giant Wolf Spider (MM 330)
  22. Goblin (MM 166)
  23. Grimlock (MM 175)
  24. Kenku (MM 194)
  25. Kobold (MM 195)
  26. Kuo-Toa (MM 199)
  27. Manes (MM 60)
  28. Mastiff (MM 332)
  29. Monodrone (MM 224)
  30. Needle Blight (MM 32)
  31. Panther (MM 333) 
  32. Pixie* (MM 253)
  33. Poisonous Snake (MM 334)
  34. Pony (MM 335)
  35. Pseudodragon (MM 254)
  36. Pteranodon (MM 80)
  37. Riding Horse (MM 336) 
  38. Skeleton (MM 272)
  39. Slaad Tadpole (MM 276)
  40. Smoke Mephit (MM 217)
  41. Stirge (MM 284)
  42. Wolf (MM 341)
  43. Zombie (MM 316)
A mastiff and a blink dog were chosen.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Goblin Slayer Adventurer Ranks

One of the interesting things in Goblin Slayer is the adventurer's guild ranking system. Level 1 scrubs start out as "Porcelain" rank, and if they survive through many adventures they can work their way all the way up to "Platinum" rank.

The full rank list is provided below.
  1. Porcelain
  2. Obsidian
  3. Steel
  4. Sapphire
  5. Emerald
  6. Ruby
  7. Bronze
  8. Silver
  9. Gold
  10. Platinum

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Dungeon Crawling with TOON

Over the past "shelter in place" weekend I got the opportunity to play in a handful of online games in lieu of going to GaryCon. One of the games was TOON, a game I first played in 1995. This session helped me remember all the things I love about TOON. Let me list a few of them here for you now:
  • Fast character creation
  • No concern for balance
  • You can't die, so you can focus on having fun instead of staying alive
  • Failure makes things more interesting
  • It's just goddamn hilarious
Anyways, after the game, we were talking about doing some D&D-style dungeon crawls using TOON as the system. The more I've been thinking about it, the more excited I've gotten about the idea. I've been in search of the perfect mix of two of my favorite things - 80s cartoons and dungeon crawling - and I think this might be just what the doctor ordered.

Here are some draft character generation rules I've been thinking about.

Equipment: two or three six-sided dice
  1. Choose species/race. It's important to do this first to increase the chance you get something weird that doesn't fit the stats you roll.
  2. Roll 1d6 for each attribute: Muscle, Zip, Smarts, Chutzpuh. Maybe you can reroll 1s. Or maybe not. Sucking can be fun in this system.
  3. Roll 1d6+6 to determine max hit points.
  4. Select a class: Fighter, Thief, or Wizard (see details below). Make adjustments as needed. I've included some simple stat adjustments but the net effect is zero and I feel like they are optional.
  5. Spend your 30 skill points. You can buy one schtick if you like (you will get 1 or more schticks for free from your class).
  6. Choose 1-2 Natural Enemies.
  7. Choose Beliefs & Goals.
  8. Record starting equipment: 4 weird items and 4 mundane items.
  9. Draw a picture, or snag one from the internet.
  10. Write a description of your character.
Stat Adjustments: +1 Muscle, -1 Smarts
+3 to Max Hit Points, +2 to Damage Rolls
Schtick: Toughness (Physical),

Stat Adjustments: +1 Zip, -1 Muscle
Schticks: Bag of Many Things, Maximum Boggle

Stat Adjustments: +1 Smarts, -1 Muscle
Schticks: Cosmic Shift or choose two Spells

Other Considerations
In playing a few online games, I found the sweet spot for the length of a session for me to be about 3 hours. Beyond that I would start to get burned out. Others' opinions may differ, but let's operate under this premise.

Small Dungeons: This game should run a bit faster than traditional D&D, so small dungeons of 5-10 rooms should be about right for a 3-hour session.

Running a Megadungeon: I think a fun way to run different groups through a megadungeon in short sessions would be to have some sort of teleporter at the beginning that transports the group to a randomly determined area in the dungeon. The dungeon rooms themselves should be somehow marked or labeled so that the players can create maps in each delve, and have a way to know how to stitch them together after the fact.

Classic TSR Modules: I first got this idea from hearing about Adam Thornton's "TOON of Horrors" game. It sounded to me like a great way to experience that classic module. Since you never actually die you could play it more aggressively and not have to worry about dealing with the death of a high-level character as you would in D&D. Why not play the other TSR modules on my shelf as well? There's less of a barrier to entry with TOON characters and casual players.

Monday, January 20, 2020

New Campaign and World: Planet X

It's been a few years since I've run a campaign in earnest, and I'm looking to get a new one going. I have 2-3 potential groups right off the bat that I could run games for, so I want to get a decent amount of material together to get started.

System: The base system I will use for this is the excellent fan-made Gamma Five rules by Emanuele Galletto. I really like the streamlined character generation, and the fact that its basically 5E but even simpler.

Setting: The overarching idea for the world is that at some point in history (probably today plus or minus 20 years), the earth was devoured by another planet. Most of humanity, and the entirety of the world as we know it was wiped out. The result was an entirely new planet, henceforth referred to as Planet X. Fast-forward unknown aeons, and this new planet is inhabited by a mix of mutated life forms from the original two planets. The surface is largely primitive and wild, and there are underworlds made up of the lost ruined cities of past ages.

Characters: I will do away with plant-men and robots, but use all the other character bios (avian, beast, insectoid, mutated human, pure-strain human, and saurian). The idea I have for pure-strain humans is that they are hatched from ancient eggs. The ancient humans knew of the impending collision and stored as many embryos as they could in these biotechnological wonder-eggs that could sustain their lives and allow them to hatch when conditions were safe enough.

Influences: I've been reading some Clark Ashton Smith lately (the two Xiccarph stories, as well as Vulthoom), and I've also been watching 80's cartoons to get that beautiful science-fantasy vibe. These include He-Man, Blackstar, Thundarr and Silverhawks. Here is some additional inspirational art below...

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

Gamma World Mutations Booklet

I made this booklet a while back. Might be useful to someone!

Gamma World 1E Mutations