Monday, May 30, 2011

A Memorial Day Thanks.

To all those who served and especially those who dies for this country. Our thoughts of gratitude are with you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Manliest Thing in the World, A Man Playing a Harp

Benjamin Bagby performing Beowulf.

Seriously awesome and a great display of what a Bard might be like. This part is called Battle and if you let your wild heart listen its easy to be carried to a great hall 1500 years ago when the night is cold and dark and fear is all around.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Faerie Queen

This song is an entire adventure waiting to happen and while its a little too lyrical for gaming background its a great piece of music.

I have had the pleasure of hearing this performed live by Heather Alexander prior to the change into Alexander James Adams.

Now in fairness I haven't heard him sing as yet so I have no idea how his voice is. He's a heck of a fiddler though as this song will show.

Fire in the Head !

The Bard song, performed ably by Emerald Rose

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Theme Parties: The Nakama

Something crazy that just occurred to me, with the right books its pretty easy to create a balanced Anime themed party.

Like many Anime groups its a five man band. I haven't assigned genders so set em up as you like. You while in this set up you need Tome of Battle to use this fully, the Sword Sage can easily be switched for a War Blade if you want a big guy or if you are clever, a Fighter.

The Nakama:

Sword Sage

Alchemist Preservationist

Summoner Synthesist


Wizard Scroll Master

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Very Short Rolemaster Story

Just a short true story.

Rolemaster was the 1st game I ever gamed with a "gaming celebrity" in that case Chris Stone the author of the Shadow on the South Module.

Though we only gamed a short few sessions , generously he even gave me a copy of the adventure which alas I never thought to autograph and no longer have.

Still he was a hoopy frood. Hope he is doing well.

Rolemaster and Why I loved It

I tell you what, I loved Rolemaster 2e and 3e (aka Standard System)


Well it wasn't the charts (so many we called it Chartmaster) it wasn't the rules which were simply not all that great, it wasn't Shadow World which is cool but we never used it, and it sure as heck wasn't character generation which could take 30 minutes with a spreadsheet.

No it was the people.

For some reason Rolemaster attracted well adjusted, focused and mature players and for that reason alone I'd go back in a minute.

Simply, it was fun 95% of the time and I can't claim that for a lot of other games.

Games You Should Like But Don't.

Another open thread.

What are the games that in general people would assume you would like but don't


Hollow Earth Expedition. There is just something not quite right with the Ubiquity system and for some reason , it and the other game that uses it Desolation sticks in my craw.

secondly, Savage Worlds. I've owned this game twice and traded it (no loss to me) twice. Never again.

How about you?

What oddball games do you most want?

Just curious.

The two weird games I have yet to get that I want are Tales of Gargenthir and Melanda (also here)

I'd also like En Ferreus Veritas but I covered that long ago.

So whats your oddball ?

A few words of Wisdom from one of my Players regarding High Level 3x

I was chatting with one of my players, Eric the other day and was busily extolling the virtues of E6 and and E6.

Eric politely agreed that they were cool and more realistic but than added a bit of advice "Look High Level games and worlds aren't that hard of you remember that D&D characters live in a Final Fantasy-esque world."

I have to say its interesting advice and probably true though anyone naming a character Cloud Strife without a really good reason is probably banned from the game ;)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Tome of Horrors Complete, I Want It.

Tome of Horrors Complete. Here.

Its expensive (nearly a C-Bill) enormous to the point some might call bloated (1000 pages) and crunchier than pea gravel but I want both versions. I don't even use that many monsters but I still want it.

I don't know who said this (it wasn't me) but if you had S&W Complete (here) or Labyrinth Lord and the AEC (here) or Dark Dungeons (here) and this book, you'd have a lifetime of material and never need another book.

I might slightly disagree, I usually want a companion and DM's notebook but the sentiment is spot on. Thats a crazy lot of monsters and a lot of gaming.

Should You Switch to an Earlier Edition or a Retro-Clone

This was originally going to be a replay at B/X Blackrazor but I thought it might be a better post for the blog

Assuming you players are game, the question is should you switch to an older edition or a retro clone??

These days cost and support are not longer issues, Retro-Clones are free , there are plenty of adventures and most older stuff is fairly cheap .

Remember though that Gary and company were as old as many of us Old Grogs when they designed D&D. Making mature , fair judgment calls were not an issue for them.

OTOH an 11 year old kid like I was won't have the same skills out the door and while many of us could and did wing it well, not everyone did.

At that point rather than a big arbitrary Notebook O's Rulings, it was kind of nice to have rules in the rule book.

if you and the players are young or you don't feel like you could handle the extra burden of Old School DMing, thinking on your feet all the time (granted lighter now with the Internet and all) and being a very impartial "Judge" who does his best to make good ruling, than you might benefit from older systems

However if the issue now though is bloat and a lack of sense of imagination, you might be better served with older rules

Understand that say B/X or Labyrinth Lord (or Swords and Wizardry) and a DM's notebook and a bunch of misc stuff (extra critters and so on) was much shorter than just the Pathfinder rules, all 576 pages of them.

Don't get me wrong but Pathfinder is a great game but if you use the expected books, it can get rules intensive well over 2000 pages! (Core+APG+Bestiary 1 and 2, +Ultimate Magic + Ultimate Combat ,granted not out yet> + Misc , Bonus Bestiary, etc) exclusive of Golarian material or 3rd party stuff. Throw in some fairly generic Paizo stuff like the Inner Sea Magic, good 3rd party stuff and such and its easy to hit 3000+ pages.

Heck my trimmed "rules legal 3.5 for Pathfinder " stuff alone is nearly 4x larger than my entire B/X rules and while I can handle it, it can get to the point where the interaction of the pieces is a burden. How does this feat work with that spell or magic item and so on.

And yes sure you don't have to use it all and of course the Pathfinder SRD has most OGL stuff but thats a titanic challenge to keep track off and can seem very intimidating.

Thats not always fun.

As a counter point, Dark Dungeons a superb (and free) copy of Rules Cyclopedia one of the comprehensive Old School rules sets ever and say a fat DM's notebook/splat book is less than just Pathfinder core.

If your at that point when the rules are a burden you have some choices ..

You can

#1 Try and get your players to go simple
#2 Trim and possibly disappoint the players
#3 Or Just deal

So far for me, just deal is working OK but I certainly can see why a lot of people would benefit from a lighter rules set and with the Retro-Clone rules being free and all, its worthy asking. You'll never know till you do.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A D&D Confession. I sold my OD&D books long ago

Heresy I know but I never got much use out of them. Besides I have PDF's for any uses I may want and would rather they went to a good home.

Diaglo, the OD&D grognard, basically he was OSR before OSR bought them from and and as OD&D is pretty much all he played and he played it a lot I knew they'd get used.

That was a good thing.

Music for all the Alchemists Out There

Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jive by the totally awesome early 80's band, Men at Work.

Open Thread... What do you think Oathfinder should be?

I was typing a reply over at ChicagoWiz's blog when my ham fingers typed an O rather than a P --

I quickly deleted Oathfinder and finished more post but that got me to thinking, Oathfinder is kind a neat name.

So I am opening a thread and asking

What do you think Oathfinder is or should be?

Answers should be clean and gaming of course but beyond that, skies the limit

Monday, May 16, 2011

Let Us Not Go To Midrea For it is a Horrible Place 1d12 Ugly Things You Might See

One of the key ideas about my game world is that while there are some pretty decent places, since Midrea has weak rule of law, barbaric backgrounds, monsters, magic and violence galore it is not a nice place

Here are a D12 unpleasant encounters

#1 A gang attack on someone

#2 A public flogging (the most common sort of punishment)

#3 A public hanging (the usual execution method)

#4 A dead body. Happily with the fear of Necromancers, even in poorly run cities someone will be along to clean it, well probably, unless a ghoul or an enterprising re-animator gets it first

#5 A cast off child

#6 A wounded person, crying out for help. Careful though, it might be a trap.

#7 A woman being assaulted in an alley. A note here, this may be implied as rape but that kind of stuff never happens on screen or to PC's as some of my players, especially female players have had stuff ion their life that makes this hit too close to home.

#8 A maimed and or/diseased beggar

#9 A domestic quarrel. Note here also, this also has to be handled with care for the same reason as #7. However as my players sometimes enjoy knocking the stuffing out of bad people like that, its still viable.

#10 A starving dog. It might be vicious, I am almost wrote this as viscous, but hey its a strange place so it might be that too.

#11 A poor person desperate for work, any work.

#12 Something unnatural

3 Short New House Rules for Old School

#1 Armor Class and To Hit are positive in the manner of 3x as vs more traditional tables. Though heretical, its faster in play and more flexible.

I may have posted the next two before so bear with if thats the case.

Improved Shields
A buckler (a small hand held shield) adds a +1 to AC
A small shield (such as a target or a viking shield) adds +2 to AC
a large shield (like a kite, a knights shield or a Hoplite shield) adds +3 to AC

These bonus do correspond with the bonus given in skills and powers however in 2e games an extra proficiency slot is not required to get them. Instead a slot grants an extra +1 and up to 2 may be taken.

#3 Shield Block

Anyone carrying a shield may subtract its base bonus (exclusive of any enhancements or feats) from his to hit and add it to AC on a one for one basis.

Shields Shall Be Splintered
is in use.

2 Short New House Rules for Pathfinder

Fight Aggressively

Any player not fighting defensively, using combat expertise or total defense may opt to have his character fight aggressively. This grants a +2 to hit at the cost of -4 to AC in the round it is done. This may be used with missile weapons.

Shield Block

Shields function in a similar manner to combat expertise and anyone carrying a shield may subtract its base bonus (exclusive of any enhancements or feats) from his BAB and add it to AC on a one for one basis.

Campaign Ideas 2011 May Edition

Utopia Secret Police

Its 20 years after a mostly benevolent super being has secretly taken over the planet. All large scale war has stopped and most oppression has stopped. However as the super being does not wish to be everywhere all the time for fear of going wacko, its your jobs to stop organized crime, terrorism and all the other transnational, anti Utopian nastiness. You are the Utopia Secret police, a carefully selected, multinational force of experts because some people just can't deal with a decent world.

Royal Archaeological Delvers

Dungeon crawls and ruin raiding with a twist. Instead of freelance looters, you are a team of professional archaeologists in the employ of a King, Sandor the Wise. Instead of smash and grab it catalog, preserve, fight off monsters and Delvers , speak with monsters, uncover secrets and sometimes protect the Kingdom.

Arm of Decision

Its 2030 a new cold war, a war of limited resources in a world with NBC weapon proliferation and a ruined orbit. As near future special ops, you are the arms of decision. Your team of specialists protects national security and does all the nations dirty work, for the people. Probably.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Making Urban Fantasy More Real

Though most of my GM work in Urban Fantasy , specially Buffy/Angel Unisystem I seldom cover the genre here. I figure Tim at the Other Side blog has that covered pretty well and I'd like to concentrate on Pathfinder and the OSR

Today however I am making an exception and posting an old essay of mine on making Urban Fantasy more real. This was originally going to be a column on but I decided not to finish it and instead I am going to post it here.

Its a little rough in places and not 100% complete but I hope y'all enjoy.

Making ModernFantasy seem more "real' which is what we are talking about here isn't too hard.

There are a few tricks I use to help out.

First: Character design is all important.

Make sure the characters have NPC friends, relatives employers and so on. Make sure there is no more than one (if that) moody orphaned loner per group.

Second: Set the adventure in a town you know.

It doesn't have to be a real place. Twin Peaks, Newford wherever, as long as you know the town. I find using the home town works best.

Third:Make actions have consequences.

If the PC's shoot a gun, have the cops called. Don't hesitate to play the forces of law and order to the hilt. But do it fairly. if it is realistic have them arrested whatever but be fair and reasonable.

Fourth: Make the characters have a life.

Everybody has a life even the "Struggling Writer with a Trust Fund" that seems so popular among the adventuring set. PC's have friends, contacts relatives. All those folks they thought up either when the character was made or even on the fly can be used. Resist the temptation though just to use them as victims. They can also help out the PC's in a lot of ways. "Sure Buddy you can stay at the old cabin for a week"

Fifth: Emphasize sense and emotion.

Urban Fantasy isn't a game of numbers and monster bashing unless you want it to be. It is often a game of mood and texture. Be as descriptive as you can. If you aren't that good at description relax and fudge a little. Borrow something from your favorite author will never know the difference.

Sixth: Use real locations.

Know a good diner? Everybody hang out at a certain club? Use it. The players will love you. Even in an unfamiliar city there are familiar chain restaurants and businesses.

Seventh: Use the Internet.

If you are reading this article you probably have Internet access. Use it. There are millions of pictures and resources out there. City web pages, online directories you name it is out there. All of it for the cost of paper and ink.

Eight: Go slow.

The pacing in an Urban fantasy game does not have to be the relentless attack, recover, loot, sell back to the attack style of gaming. Pace the game in a manner that shows the real world as much as the false one.

Nine: Take a break from unreality.

Once in a while roleplay something like a trip to the mall or the dentist or the park or even a day at work and have nothing weird happen. This strengthens the notion that the PC's are in the real world and makes supernatural events more shocking. Not too much though, most players aren't interested a long game of papers and paychecks.

Ten. Even Monsters have Motivations

Monsters in Urban Fantasy setting benefit from having a realistic motivations. Not only does it add to the roleplaying aspects of the campaign it helps cement how reasonable it all really is.

Unlike in conventional Fantasy game marauding around looking for loot isn't reasonable. A pack of Goblins had to be much more careful modern Chicago then in a fantasy wilderness. Even a rogue werewolf may find himself outgunned by the local constabulary.

Now some systems address this issue with game mechanics. If your does those "mechanics" can help you balance encounters they can also lead to splatterpunk games in the hands of some players.

Eleven: Demphasize Violence

Many player character reach for a gun as a first response to any threat. Discourage this unless you are running a splaterpunk game. Realistic consequences are one way but there are a couple of others including setting the game somewhere with strict gun laws (I am sorry handguns are illegal in the UK and you can't get one) and simply writing adventures where guns aren't that useful. "You can't shoot a ghost Hillbilly"

Twelve: Encourage OOC knowledge.

Unlike in conventional game if a trivia fact, common bit of lore whatever is known by the player the character will likely know too. All those horror movies you watched, your character has seen them too. Those books you have read, he or she has read them too. Encourage the players to use what they know. As a corollary to this if the player is particularly knowledgeable in some esoteric area, encourage them to take the appropriate skill. This way Player Knowledge and Character Knowledge can blend harmoniously

Thirteen: Roleplay like crazy

Whenever possible roleplay and encourage the players to do the same. Ham it up a little. Play the waiter and the cabby and the monster too. make the people seem as real as you can. If you don't have a bunch of stock voice or extra stock characters, don't worry. Base them off you uncle Bob or your third grade teacher no one will ever care. In fact they will thank you for it.

A good way to encourage roleplaying is with some sort of "Brownie Point" system that allows the players to effect rolls. The more roleplaying the more control the player has over the dice. It is self perpetuating reaction

And finally Number Fourteen :

Be flexible in your GMing. Most games are run in a passive down manner "here is the room, here is what you say what do you do." Break out of this mold and let the players help you set the scene. For example let a player run a minor encounter with the traffic cop. If it isn't a big plot point who cares who runs it. Stuck for ideas, don't know what happens next? No problem let the players come up with something. For daring GM's letting players run a monster or reoccurring character is a possibility. Players who abuse the system, no problem, over ride them and start back a little bit.

With these tips you can improve your Urban Fantasy games,whatever system you play. Good Gaming.

Tricks to Bring Home Immersion, Fantasy Edition

Yesterdays post was ostensibly about the movie Runaway and how to get its ability (unusual in SF films, especially older hard SF films) of comfortable casualness with the setting into you game.

Here are a few tips.

#1 Call a Cow a Cow and a Horse a Horse .

Weird names for common animals make it harder for people to get into the setting.

#2 Call the a Tharn a Riding Lizard at least till the players are comfy with it

Common names for the weird animals in you game make them easier to accept.

#3 A Picture is worth 1000 words.

Well at least a hundred. A few pics printed off the net can make a big difference and there is no reason we should not take advantage of this technology that we did not have in Ye Olde Days. Its also easier than digging through a library (which we did) and photocopying (which we did)

#4 Props are better than Pics

If you happen to have toy jewelry, Ren-Faire stuff, junk from a New Age store and whatever, use it. Being able to handle things or even eat Iron Rations can make a huge difference in Immersion . I do recommend against real weapons however. Not all gamers are careful and someone could get hurt. Also not recommended costumes, unless your game has LARP elements or y'all are very silly.

#5 Simply Names

Make them easy to pronounce, real sounding and fit. This is especially important for month and day names. Vec Rill of the 7th Blen of Ithlac in the Silm of Gire, may sound cool but its a lot harder to remember than Moon's Day, Month of Harvest.

#6 Concentrate on the Mundane from Time to Time.

Every so often a vivid description of something not related to or hooked into adventure can help, clothes, religious sects, food, tapestries, whatever .. Make the rest of the world real too.


Be flexible in your GMing. Most games are run in a passive down manner "here is the room, here is what you say what do you do." Break out of this mold and let the players help you set the scene. For example let a player run a minor encounter with the traffic cop. If it isn't a big plot point who cares who runs it. Stuck for ideas, don't know what happens next? No problem let the players come up with something. For daring GM's letting players run a monster or reoccurring character is a possibility. Players who abuse the system, no problem, over ride them and start back a little bit.

#8 Change the game room scene a bit

A few candles (careful please) some incense (if no one is allergic) mood music (no vocals) or just a tapestry on the wall can make people forget for a moment they are a bunch of geeks rolling dice.

Learning from the Movies: Runaway

James Lileks once said "Nothing ages faster than yesterday's tomorrow." and in my experience this is true even in Sci-Fi gaming.

in fact the last "old sci-fi" that I saw that didn't age too badly was an obscure movie from 1984 ,Runaway written by none other than Michael Crichton and starring Tom Selleck.

Without going into spoilers other than its about robots, this old movie has held up very well .

Sure stylistic elements are slightly dated (clothes, retro-future cars, object shapes and the relentless whiteness of L.A.) however its telling that it is not set at any given time and could be set any 20 minutes into the future.

Now I didn't see cell phones but there was no point in the movie in which they would have been used anyway and I did see an I-Pad like device.

What really caught my eye was unlike almost any SF movie l everyone even the reporters seemed familiar and comfortable with the settings tech. That bit movie-wise is quite remarkable in many ways.

If I as a DM/GM could capture in any game fantasy or SF that casual sense of reality that you see in the movie, the familiarity with technology and such , well if I could pull that off (with player help) that more than even plot would make for a great game.

Its more than action and story but a sense of a world coming to life.

Its not easy but its well worth trying and a skill well worth cultivating and my next entry will suggest tricks to make it happen.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

For all the Mom's reading this blog, to every one a Happy Mother's Day

The Best Darned Second Edition AD&D Podcast Out there

Or at least thats what the pod-cast guys have to say and I kind of agree with em...

If you like 2e as much as I do (and that a lot) and want a nice MP3 Podcast for your listening pleasure give THACO'S Hammer a try.

A Cool GM's trick: Quip Cards

A little trick I use to spice up the roll playing aspects and to make my NPC's cooler is to have Quip Cards.

To make these get a a bunch of index cards (I use 3" by 5") and write a a name of an NPC (or just a a title say Orc Leader) a circumstance (i.e in combat, when retreating) and a line of description.

For Example

Line #1 Orc Leader

Line #2 His Forces are aligned

Line #3 As the forces align the Orc growls (in a thick accent) "Come and Die, Humans!"

Having a small pile of these, pre-maid can increase roleplaying fun. save a lot of stress and make it seem like you can improvise anything even if you can't.

Also if you don't feel like splurging on index cards (they run about a $1 US for a pack) you can of course print up a bunch on the computer and cut them up.

This has the advantage of being less time consuming, heck you can even cut and paste quotes and such from the net however they are less tactile a personal.

Either way though, having quotes ready is quick, easy and will improve your game.

Give it a try and see.

DragonForce Valley of the Damned

I have been meaning to make a truly metal game from DragonForce stuff but till then, one of their best and my favorites. Valley of the Damned

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Highwayman

Someday or other I'll do an article on reincarnation in gaming but till then, a favorite of mine

The Highwayman

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The New House Rules Document Preview

Shorter and punchier. As before if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Section #1 Character Generation
All classes and races on my lists are available although you should check with me for any
modifications. Races that are LA+0 will receive 25 points as per the PFSRD, LA +1 races will receive 20 points.

Starting level is 2

Fighters gain 4 points per skill level instead of two.

This rule is designed to help make Wizards a bit more desirable without messing with the game balance.

At level 1 every wizard gains the bonus feat spell mastery however one of the mastered spells must be Read magic.

In addition at every level the Wizard gains spells known or any spell in which the Arcane Study (a homebrew feat) or Spell Perfection has been applied is considered to be mastered. If either of those spells is applied to a spell already mastered, another spell may be selected immediately. Once made this selection may not be changed .

And the very slightly revised Spell Mastery

Spell Mastery

You have mastered a small handful of spells, and can prepare these spells without referencing your spellbooks at all.

Prerequisite: 1st-level wizard or other spell preparation class that requires a spell book

Benefit: Each time you take this feat, choose a number of spells that you already know equal to your natural Intelligence modifier +1 . From that point on, you can prepare these spells without referring to a spellbook. If your Intelligence modifier is later permanently raised through experience or magic, additional spells equal to the difference may be slected immediately. Once selected these spells cannot be changed.

Normal: Without this feat, you must use a spellbook to prepare any of your spells that are not mastered,

In addition the Wizard is modified as follows

Action points will be used with the the added ability that they may be spent after an enemies to hit roll negate a hit.

Fractional BAB and Saves will be in use

Hit points will Max at L1 and Greyhawk Average after.

Starting money is 1000GP in standard magic campaigns. Items than can be made by the character can
be purchased at half cost.

Superior Items are also available. These items would qualify as Masterwork as the the PFSRD and cost the same . Items that gain an additional +1 and cost twice that.

Traits will be used as per Pathfinder

Keen and Improved Critical and similar effects stack

Better Stat rolls Rule
One thing that always bugged me about the rules as written is the fact that a hulking brute of a fighter is only (minus his magic) maybe 20% better at battering down a door than a Wizard (STR18 vs STR10) this makes no sense to me -- Instead I'd suggest that a bonus equal to the amount over 10 be added to stat rolls. This way Big Fighter Guy (l8 fighter 20 Strength) vs Puny Mage is 50% better at the physical stuff. It also correlates nicely to the old school stat roll (stat against a D20)

Most spells work as per the rules with two key exceptions.
#1 Resurrection Magic.
Bringing the dead back to life in Midrea has been difficult since the Unhallowed War some one
hundred years ago . For some reason the various Gods have stopped allowing resurrection magic of any kind to work . Short of using a Magic Jar or Clone spell and a soul stone (or a few limited class abilities that effect only the caster) it is basically impossible to bring the dead back to life with new magic. Do note though that magic from before this period works normally , so the occasional Scroll (though they can't be scribed) ,Staff of Life or other items work normally.
There are also a couple of artifacts (the Heroes Table, The Life Web and the Rod of Years) that can raise the dead as well. Bottom line, you die and unless you buddies want to quest for you, you stay dead...

#2 Teleport
Teleport like spells and powers are rather rare and dangerous sorts of magic. The spells work normally however using them involves travel through the the 1st realm and thus risks madness . You an assume almost no one will teleport unless its utterly necessary. Also note that Tree Stride and Fire Stride and similar "nature themed" spells do work normally within the grounds of the Ealven Wood for some reason. So be careful.

Because of these changes Travel Domain Clerics do not gain Dimensional Hop as a power instead gain the following power as per the D20 SRD

SU: For a total time per day of 1 round per cleric level you possess, you can act normally regardless of magical effects that impede movement as if you were affected by the spell freedom of movement. This effect occurs automatically as soon as it applies, lasts until it runs out or is no longer needed, and can operate multiple times per day (up to the total daily limit of rounds).

In addition their spell list is altered as follows
L4 Enduring Flight
L5 Overland Flight
L7 Phase Door
L8 Discern Location
L9 Mass Overland Flight

Many more spells are available in game but all starting spells must be drawn from the Pathfinder SRD

The action sequence has been revised and looks like this.

Every round each character gets the following action
1 Swift as per Pathfinder rules
1 Standard Action as per Pathfinder rules
1 Movement Action as per Pathfinder rules
1 Five Foot Step

If a character as multiple attack they may combine the standard and movement actions and
take however many attack they are entitled too. The five foot step is performed normally.
Also when allowed by the rules a movement and standard action into a run action as per
Pathfinder rules. The five step must be added to the move and provokes Attacks of
Opportunity as usual.

The New Revised Class List for 3x

Now with less 3 and 3.5

Basically this is the material that will make up my new Class/Race PDF . For the most part I have eliminated almost all the WOTC D20 stuff and am in the process of creating versions of the ones that I like that are OGL but inspired by the closed content ones. This way if I should so desire I can release the PDF for all to enjoy

It should be for the most part clear but if you have any questions about what or why, feel free to post them.

(PF) Breaker, Brutal Pugilist, Drunken Brute, Elemental Kin, Hurler, Invulnerable Rager, Mounted
Fury, Savage Barbarian, Superstitious, Totem Warrior

(UA) Hunter (drop rage for Ranger abilities as SRD) (everywhere)

(PF) Arcane Duelist, Archivist, Court Bard, Detective, Magician, Sandman, Savage Skald, Sea
Singer,Street Performer,

Cleric (everywhere) domains and sub-domains OK
(UA) Cloistered Cleric (everywhere)

(PF) Aquatic Druid, Arctic Druid, Blight Druid, Cave Druid, Desert Druid, Jungle Druid, Mountain
Druid, Plains Druid, Swamp Druid, Urban Druid., Bear Shaman, Eagle Shaman, Cat Shaman, Serpent
Shaman, Wolf Shaman,
(L) Environment Weapons List (not OGL)
(UA) Druidic Avenger
(UA) Swift Hunter

(PF) Archer, Crossbowman, Freehand Fighter, Mobile Fighter, Phalanx Soldier, Polearm Master,
Roughrider, Savage Warrior, Shielded Fighter, Two Handed Fighter, Two Weapon Warrior, Weapon
(H) Musketeer
(H) Harrier

(PF) Drunken Master, Hungry Ghost Monk, Ki Mystic, Monk of the Empty Hand, Monk of the Four
Winds, Monk of the Healing Hand, Monk of the Lotus, Monk of the Sacred Mountain, Weapon Adept,
Zen Archer
(L) Weapon Schools (not OGL)

(PF) Divine Defender, Hospitaler, Sacred Servant, Shining Knight, Undead Scourge, Warrior of the
Holy Light
(UA) Hunting Paladin

(PF) Beast Master, Guide, Horse Lord, Infiltrator, Shapeshifter, Skirmisher, Spirit Ranger, Urban Ranger
(L) Spellwise Ranger (this is an OGL version of the Mystic Ranger from Dragon)
(L) Solitary Hunting (for Companion)
(L) Warder (for Combat Style) (this is an OGL version of the Moon Warded Ranger from Dragon)

(PF) Acrobat, Burglar, Cutpurse, Investigator, Poisoner, Rake, Scout, Sniper, Spy, Swashbuckler,
Thug, Trapsmith
(H/UA) Feat Rogue (Drop Sneak Attack for Feats) (may also gain savant special abilities ) custom

(PFSRD) Aberrant, Abyssal, Arcane, Celestial, Destined, Draconic, Elemental, Fey, Infernal, Orc,
(PF) Aquatic Bloodline, Boreal Bloodline, Deepearth Bloodline, Dreamspun Bloodline, Protean
Bloodline, Serpentine Bloodline, Shadow Bloodline, Stormborn Bloodline, Verdant Bloodline
(UA) Battle Sorcerer

(PFSRD) Schools (A, C,D,EN, EV, ILL, NEC, TR, UNIV)
(PF) Elemental Schools and Focused Schools
(H) Unbonded -- Lose Arcane Bond gain bonus feat
(H) War Wizard (lose 1 spell per level, scribe scroll, sub wizard feats for custom abilities gain medium BAB, D8 light armor cast) custom under construction

(PF) Cavalier (PF) (Midlands, 20 Kingdoms) Orders Renamed
Knight of the Dragon (Order of the Dragon)
Knight of the Crown (Order of the Lion)
Knight of the Stone (Order of the Shield)
Knight of the Garter (Order of the Sword)
Knight of the Sword (Order of the Cockratice)
Knight of the Falcon (not available)
Knight of the Bath (not available)
Knight of the Palantir (prestige class)

Swashbuckler (Pathfinder version, 9 Cities, Brin, 7 Nations)

Artificer (Pathfinder versions) (7 Nations, Dragon Kingdoms)

Gun Mage (7 Nations, Dragon Kingdoms)

Rogue-Mage (H) custom

Noble (as Green Ronin, everywhere)

Wicca (Aradia, Queens Domain, Ashanan, )

War Master (Genius Guide) (?)

Sacred Fist (Kobold Quarterly 12) (Hajasa, Ro-Jin)

Phantom (Thief/Cleric) (Kobold Quarterly 12) (Hajasa, Ro-Jin)

Emissary (Thief/Cleric) (Kobold Quarterly 12) (Hajasa, Ro-Jin)

Arcane Archer (from its own book)

Oathsworn (Arcana Unearthed) (Lawbringer Theocracy, Vara)

Alchemist (PF) (7 Nations)

Inquisitor (PF) (Lawbringer Theocracy)

Oracle (PF) (anywhere, Ancient Ones)

Hexer (PF Witch Class) (Dark or Grey Elves)

Monster Hunter (GRR Freeport) (everywhere)

Yogi (Monte Cooks Best D20 ) (Hajasa, Vara)

Runeblade (Monte Cook Book of Experimental Might) (Northlands, Dwarfs)

Investigator (Crime and Punishment)

(L) Archivist (HoH)
(H) Cloistered Archivist lose all armor, gain Bardic Lore


Soul Knife

Thane Mage

Dragon Rider (Genius Guide)


Under Consideration

Warlord (from Tome of Secrets) this would replace War Master above

Pact Mage

Scholar (Paths of Power)

Agent (Northern Crown)

Voayguer (Paths of Power)

Beastmaster ( Adventuring Classes, Fistfull of Denarri, )

Corbie ( Adventuring Classes, Fistfull of Denarri)

Sea Dog (Skull and Bones) (Sea Folk, Brin, 7 Nations, Dragon Empire )

Corsair (GRR Freeport) (Brin, 7 Nations, Dragon Empire, Sea Folk )

Buccaneer (Skull and Bones) (Sea Folk, Brin, 7 Nations, Dragon Empire )

Assassin (Green Ronin Assassins Handbook ) (Everywhere)

Races List


Half Elf

Tainted (aka Half Orc)

Dwarf (Hill, Mountain, City)

Elf (Grey or Light)



Spirit Folk (OA, Wood (bamboo) River, Sea)

Azhar (Jinn Blooded, GRR Freeport)

Lesser Assimar

Lesser Tiefling

Troll Blooded (as Half Ogre)




Of course as before Natural Lycanthropes, Talking Animals and various Fae are still allowed on case by
case basis.

Races Under Consideration





Ilumians (Races of destiny) with multiple preferred classes (runeblade + sigil)

#2 Small Pathfinder House Rule: Fighters

This was almost too small to post.

Fighters gain 4 points per skill level instead of two.

I added this rule as I think Fighters can use a small boost and as the secondary "no magic" guys they depend on skills to a greater degree than the casters.

My original house rule added 2 to all the classes but I found this unbalanced in Pathfinder and unnecessary with favored class benefits. Now I did consider giving Sorcerers Wizards and Clerics the same benefit but as these guys depend more on spells , they really don't need it.

#1 Small Pathfinder House Rule Wizards

One for the Wizard

My players seem to avoid Wizards pretty much completely , partially its because of the complexity (Sorcerers are much easier to play) partially for the power (Sorcerers get more spells per day) but mainly because they fear DM's messing with the spellbooks.
This rule is designed to help make Wizards a bit more desirable without messing with the game balance.

At level 1 every wizard gains the bonus feat spell mastery however one of the mastered spells must be Read magic.

In addition at every level the Wizard gains spells known or any spell in which the Arcane Study (a homebrew feat) or Spell Perfection has been applied is considered to be mastered. If either of those spells is applied to a spell already mastered, another spell may be selected immediately. Once made this selection may not be changed .

And the very slightly revised Spell Mastery

Spell Mastery

You have mastered a small handful of spells, and can prepare these spells without referencing your spellbooks at all.

Prerequisite: 1st-level wizard or other spell preparation class that requires a spell book

Benefit: Each time you take this feat, choose a number of spells that you already know equal to your natural Intelligence modifier +1 . From that point on, you can prepare these spells without referring to a spellbook. If your Intelligence modifier is later permanently raised through experience or magic, additional spells equal to the difference may be slected immediately. Once selected these spells cannot be changed.

Normal: Without this feat, you must use a spellbook to prepare any of your spells that are not mastered,

Watershed moments from mediocre players

Thought I'd share this from my old 3.5 group.

We had a player in the group, I'll call him WC. He was one of those less attentive, shy and unimaginative players that sometimes end up in gaming groups simply because we gamers are pretty accepting of oddballs. He was never super reliable or a super good player at the table but as he was not disruptive and we needed an extra warm body, we let him play.

One game he decided to play a bard. You could probably hear the eyes rolling in their sockets at this point since the bard (unlike say a fighter) is a high involvement character requiring a lot of skill to play.

However bard it was.

As the adventure progressed our low level, I think our usual L2 starting level, party ran into a Harpy. This was not good at all.

However a round or so into it, WC looked up and asked "Hey I have this counter song ability, can I use it."

DM said yep, dice were rolled and much bacon was saved with much congratulations and backslapping.

Now this wasn't really an epiphany in any sense, he didn't suddenly become a great player but he did have a good time and over time improved more than a bit. He was never an asset but he was more welcome and thats good enough.

So how about your stories ?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Revision .. Prestige Class list stays the same

This is more for my use than anyone else's as it will give me a quick reference to my allowed PRC's. It looks like my list is going to stay about the same.

Ultimate Magus

Urban Soul (in some games)

Enlightened Fist

Bear Warrior

Horizon Walker

Amethyst Rose

Arcane Tempest

Mystic Theurge

Swan May

Master Chymist

Rage Mage

Rage Prophet

Dragon Disciple

Tattooed Monk


Psychic Adept
Fire Starter
Ghost Hunter
Mind Hunter
Psychic Healer

Soul Bow

with the following new ones for consideration

Master Spy


Old School Requires a Different Type of Player

This might be a bit controversial to some but in my opinion, traditional adult non hack and slash old school play requires a different skill set and different attitude to play than more modern play styles.

Its how shall I say a bit more geeky in that its lack of rules clarity requires more attention to detail in the dungeon (sometimes obsessive amounts of it) and a bit more imagination at the same time.

Modern games still reward brains and skills in play but those skills are more about optimizing and us of resources than imaginative choices.

Now mind I am not claiming it brings home the fun better, only that it was a nerds game in ways that modern games are not.

This is why that some players can't /won't /don't transition from new to old and that others simply don't get why its fun.

Different strokes for different folks as it were.

Pathfinder Class List: Revision

Thought I'd let you know that my current efforts are being directed to getting rid of as much non OGL, non Pathfinder content in my homebrew as possible. This way I can make more of it OGL and simplify my gaming world as much as possible.

Thus far I have eliminated most all closed WOTC classes and am left with the following open class variants

UA Hunter Barbarian Variant (open)
UA Cloistered Clerics (open)
UA Swift Hunter Druid (open)
UA Druidic Avenger (open)
UA Battle Sorcerer (open)
UA Wilderness Rogue

, a few class options not listed here and the Archivist and Cloistered Archivist closed classes.

eventually I will create a PF/OGL version of the Archivist (dropping some of the closed type abilities) as well.

I'd say the most difficult "drop" choices were the Warlock (I like this class but it really doesn't fit) the Factotum (mechanically a poor fit) and the Scout which I like but is decently superseded by its Rogue variant.

Theme Parties: 6 Arrows

This group is a unit of military archers, all clad in green uniforms and bearing a sheath of arrows banner.

They are much in an upfront fight but if you want to break up a pike block or reinforce skirmishers or the like, there are few better.

Vlad L9 Fighter/Archer

Raven L9 Scout/Archer variant

Cole L9 Marksman Adept

Hauser L9 Ranger/ Archery Combat style

Vi L9 Arcane Archer Core

Stalis L9 Huntsman

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Maximum Realism in D20 the Easy Way

When, just for fun I set out to use my D20 books to create a system that seemed to have the maximum amount of realism I was surprised how easy this was.

It took me only three steps to do it

#1 Use E6 or E8 if you want slightly super human skills or easier integration.

#2 Use the excellent Codex Martialis (info here and purchase here) and reviews here

#3 Graft in the bleeding and HP rules from D20 Game of Thrones

This turns D&D into a pretty good medieval combat simulator and while picking a magic system and using monsters was slightly tricky on the whole, other than GURPS or the now defunct The Riddle of Steel rpg, I've never seen a more realistic combat system out there.

Not bad for mechanic that at its core is designed more for Fantasy Supers is it ?

Theme Parties: Dragon's Claw

Hailing from the Dragon empire, this group are all Dragon Touched in some way or other, all by the same Dragon Prince. They can be found almost anywhere performing misions for their partron or sometimes adventuring for fun.

For those without access to the WOTC books, the Dragon Shaman and the Dragon Fire Adept can be replaced with a Witch with the appropriate patron and a Sorcerer or Battle Sorcerer,

Fel -- Draconic Bloodline Sorcerer L10

Big Lester -- Fighter 3, Sorcerer 2, Dragon Disciple 5

Otan Vaka-- Cleric of Dragon Prince L10

Ray -- Dragon Fire Adept L10

Tala -- Dragon Rider L10 (Genius Guide)

Penn -- Dragon Shaman L10

Theme Parties: The Enduring Storm

The Enduring Storm is one of the odd parties in that their name was given to them by the various groups they fought against rather than self selected. None of the members are all that fond of it but as it brings in work,they live with it

This group is noted for their extreme endurance , stubbornness and the rare presence of a Warforged on the team.

This material requires Book of Nine Swords and Ebberon which are of course closed content.

Nico , team leader Crusader 8

Dain , War Blade 8

Maya the Dancer , Sword Sage 8

Unit 443 aka Tom Mithril Shelled Warforged Warlock 8

Grey Cat Factotum L8

Martin Longbow Marksman Adept L8 (here)

Durn Longbow Huntsman L8 (here)

Theme Parties: D.A.R.T.

D.A.R.T (direction action response teams), the successors to the unfortunately named F.A.R.T. (fast action response teams) are the Lawbringer Nations answer to Earth S.W.A.T. and consist of highly trained Church professionals that deal with dangerous individuals and situations the regular military and Church police have trouble with.

The configuration below is a standard one though other groups, say PC parties or the like may have different membership.

Team Lead: Lawbringer Cleric L6-L8

Tactical Officer: War Master L6-L8 (Genius Guide)

Investigative Lead: Inquisitor L6-L8

Liason: Fighter/Investigator L6-L8 (Crime and Punishment)

Point Man: Factotum L6-L8 (Dungeonscape)

Sentry: Oath Taker L6-L8 (Arcane Unearthed)

Apprehension Specialist: Bounty Hunter L6-L8 (Fistful of Denarri)

In addition each unit may have several squads of L3 Warriors or any personal retinue of the Tactical Officer gained from the leadership feat

For persons without access to the additional books, make the War Master a Bard, the Point Man a Rogue, the Sentry, a Monk and the Apprehension Specialist a Ranger. The Investigator class can be had here at the Grand OGL wiki thanks to Atlas Games.

Why all the Theme Parties?

Simply, they are fun to write, easy to transfer to other games and give readers an idea of what kind of encounters might be had in my games.

Also even without stats they beat the heck out of the old Rogues Gallery tourney style parties

Sqig Punanmer, Xagyg Bad Ref, Fatman Dwarfbeer and so on might have charm in a 1e kind of way but they are really only useful as they were intended, for tournament play.

Theme parties, even if you have to do the grunt work, at least root you in the world.