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.