Archive for 2017

Dungeons & Delvers: Appendix D Issue 2

Just added the second issue of Appendix D to Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book. This issue contains the cambion and dwarf racial classes, the warlock class, and some new demons to kinda go with the whole cambion/infernal pact warlock thing.

The racial classes are based on something I kicked around during the 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons playtest era, which were in turn kind of based on 3rd Edition's racial paragon classes except that you can take levels in them whenever you wanted to instead of at specific levels.

The racial classes in the Black Book have two functions.

The first is for those that just want to play "a cambion" or "a dwarf", maybe because you're nostalgic for earlier D&D editions where races were also classes, or maybe because it's exactly what you're looking for.

Like classes these go up to 5th-level and have their own class features and talents to choose from (though there can be some overlap: dwarf shares many similarities with the fighter at least class-feature-wise).

The second is to let players determine how much race effects your characters. So, you can start the game as a cambion warlock, and then at 2nd-level multiclass into the cambion racial class to pick up some cambion talents (like Scaly Skin, Infernal Wings, or one that beefs up your sin's bonus).

This requires also using the multiclass rules (found in the first Appendix D issue), and so is dependent on whether the GM is cool with it (and might result in the GM modifying/bannig one or more talents).

The warlock class (which I also talked about in this post) is largely what you'd expect if you've seen/played warlocks from 3rd Edition and up (but mostly like 4th and 5th Edition): you pick a patron (right now just infernal and star), and that patron gives you a bonus and magic powers like eldritch blast.

Where it differs is that by giving things to your patron and doing shit for it, you gain Boons. Boons are a currency that you can spend to make your eldritch blast more accurate and use certain powerful warlock talents. You have to choose a Boon talent (there are talent choices that just let you do things all the time, no problem), so if you don't want to deal with them you don't have to (you get the Boons-for-better-blast thing automatically, so there's always something you can do with them).

Really thinking of having warlock talents do one thing, and then you can spend Boons to make them better. For example, Bind would just immobilize a creature for a turn, but if you spend a Boon it would deal damage and restrain them for longer: what do you guys think?

The other thing is you have a sign, a physical feature that lets people know there is something wrong about you. It starts out small, but gets worse as you level up. Since the class only goes up to 5th-level it's not much, but I'm thinking at higher levels an infernal pact warlock would basically look like a demon, while a star pact warlock would be a tentacle cluster covered in eyes.

Also thinking of maybe giving the signs benefits and/or drawbacks, so when your star pact warlock gets a bunch of eyes you also gain a bonus to Perception and maybe can see in the dark, but having a bunch of mouths could penalize your Stealth and various social skills (because they won't shut the fuck up).

Finally, monsters. If you own A Sundered World a few are based on how I did angels and demons there. There's also an imp that can get you to do things as long as you think it'll make people like you, and a succubus but it's more like the mythological succubus so can get you in your dreams.

Announcements
Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book is out! It's our own take on a D&Dish/d20 game that features (among other things) simple-yet-flexible classes, unassumed magic and magical healing, a complete lack of pseudo-Vancian magic, and more mythologically accurate monsters.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

The History of Kobolds

I wrote a blog post nearly a month ago (as of this post) addressing a comment someone left on an old playtest document for what eventually became Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book.

Basically, in the document I said that we were going to have more mythologically accurate kobolds (which we do, among other monsters), and the guy somehow took issue with that goal.

That blog post caused someone else to write a blog post about how I guess statting out monsters is "bad" because players might learn the stats, and once the players learn the stats there won't be any mystery or immersion (which for some reason gets a capital "I" but I'm not going to do that).

I don't really agree with any of it, and frankly the whole post comes across as misguided and a bit pretentious.

THE GOAL
First things first, us going with more mythologically accurate monsters has nothing to the sales of anything or trying to solve a problem that I'm not convinced exists, and everything to do with the fact that when I compare the classic Dungeons & Dragons kobold and the kobold from real world mythology, I find the latter to be far more interesting, so instead of telling GMs "go look it up on Wikipedia" I figured I could just do some of the legwork.

If the real-world kobold was a small draconic-ish humanoid, and the Dungeons & Dragons kobold could change its shape and turn invisible and phase through stone, I'd be sticking with the D&D version.

THE MYSTERY
I have to ask: what mystery? The abilities we're giving kobolds are and were “known”. We didn't just pull shapechanging and invisibility out of our ass or give them random abilities that just so happened to also be what it was said to be able to do: it's on the fucking Wikipedia entry! The Wikipedia entry that anyone can go read up on, which was again informed by what people “knew” about kobolds.

It's partially because of that that I don't think there is anything wrong with the players knowing monster stats. This is not only an inevitability of just playing the game, but is also reflected in the real world: people "knew" at least some of what most monsters were capable of. They "knew" that kobolds could change their shape and turn invisible.

(What do you do when you play a campaign and the players learn stuff, and then start up a new campaign? Do you just never use monsters you used in the previous campaign? Do you completely change everything about them? Do you move to a new town or get a new group?)

I will point out that I didn't just ask Vb if his players would have any clue how to kill a kobold, I said, "So your players have no idea what an elf or kobold can do, or how to defeat them?" He thinks they'd hem and haw and respond with "it depends", but I think it's a safe bet that even in his game elves and kobolds can simply be stabbed to death.

Really though "it depends" is valid for many groups and many monsters, even if the players know the default stats unless maybe the DM/GM only ever has the players fight them in flat open terrain.

Finally, knowing monster stats doesn't mean that the players know everything about the monster (or even most things about it). Knowing that kobolds can turn invisible and change their shape doesn't instill knowledge of their history, culture, general personalities/habits, and so on: it just means they know that kobolds can turn invisible and change their shape.

IMMERSION
Knowing default monster stats has nothing to do with immersion: it's what the player does with that knowledge that can I guess hamper it. Like, if the player knows that kobolds can turn invisible but the character somehow doesn't (maybe the PCs are the first people to ever run into a kobold?) and still acts on that information.

If the general population knows that kobolds can change their shape and turn invisible, then the characters probably know this, too. In fact, telling the players that their characters know commonplace information even if the player doesn't actually reinforces immersion.

I don't give a shit if the players know that basilisks are so poisonous that they can turn stone to dust and kill you just by looking at you: I want to see how they handle it.

Frankly, if you need to hide stats from players to instill wonder or mystery then you're probably a bad GM. So what if the PCs know that kobolds can phase through stone: have them come across an ancient, subterranean kobold city that's been buried for centuries and only easily accessible by things that can phase through stone.

Sounds pretty mysterious to me: what was it like? How has it changed? What caused the kobold sto flee (or what killed them all off)? What artifacts/treasure/magic shit is still down there?

Announcements
Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book is out! It's our own take on a D&Dish/d20 game that features (among other things) simple-yet-flexible classes, unassumed magic and magical healing, a complete lack of pseudo-Vancian magic, and more mythologically accurate monsters.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Dungeons & Delvers: Making a Spellsword

I remember trying to make a fighter/wizard combination back in my 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons days, but aside from houserules and/or specialized builds (requiring classes, prestige classes, feats, and/or magic items) it doesn't work, and I'm not even sure about the latter.

This is because of all the fiddly math in 3rd Edition: fighters need all those plusses to hit in order to hit things (with the first attack, anyway), and spellcasters need higher level spells because the saving throw numbers are based on the spell's level, so lower level magic quickly becomes worthless.

Something else I disliked about 3rd Edition was that, by the book, if you're a wizard and multiclass into fighter you immediately become proficient with all weapons and armor. Of course that's not as ridiculous as a fighter multiclassing into a wizard and being able to immediately cast spells, get a spellbook with a bunch of spells, and being able to snag a familiar.

4th Edition made things less silly with multiclass feats: you spend a feat in order to basically get a single spell, which makes more sense then a shitload somehow. Problem is by the books you can't really evoke both classes because there's only three multiclass feats, so you can only ever have three powers from the other class.

I think hybrid classes might have made this easier (ability scores could be a problem because the game assumes a +3 or +2 base for your "attack" stats), but I never bothered with them much so can't say. Really if you wanted to do a fighter/wizard proper without houserules, you're better off just rolling up a swordmage or bladesinger.

With Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book we wanted to allow flexibility and mitigate multiclassing issues/nonsense: right now if you multiclass into another class you don't gain weapon and armor proficiencies or saving throws, or the WP/VP it gets at 1st-level (you get the level-up amounts which are smaller). You usually don't gain all of the class features (MC fighters get +1 to hit and damage, but wizards and clerics lose out on an extra talent or two).

So using the alpha multiclassing rules (which got added as an extra download over on DriveThruRPG), here's what a 1st-level human fighter/1st-level wizard looks like if you started the game as a fighter:

SPELLSWORD (Fighter 1/Wizard 1)
Level 2 Medium Humanoid (Human)
Speed 30 feet

ABILITY SCORES
STR +2 DEX +0 WIS +0
CON +1 INT +2 CHA -1

SKILLS
Arcana +5, Athletics +3, Search +3

DEFENSE
Speed 30 feet
AC 12 DR 2 (scale armor)
Fort +2 Ref +0 Will +0
Mana 4
Wounds 10 Vitality 5 Total 15

OFFENSE
Arming Sword: +3 to hit; 1d8+3 damage (critical hits on 19-20)

Magic Missile: +3 to hit; 1d6+2 force damage

Evoker: 1d4 Drain; target suffers 3d6+2 force damage (half on DC 13 Reflex save)

EQUIPMENT
arming sword, scale armor, magic focus (probably a wand or staff), explorer’s pack

So you're not as tough as a 2nd-level fighter (something like 2 WP and 1 VP behind), and you don't get a fighter talent (which could give you added defense, damage, a special attack, and so on). The plus side is, hey, you got a pair of magic attacks (albeit you need a hand free to use them) and you can detect magic (though I might drop auto-detect magic and make it part of the Divination tree).

If you want a bit more magic, you can instead go with the elf race since it has an option to gain a magic talent and +4 Mana:

SPELLSWORD (Fighter 1/Wizard 1)
Level 2 Medium Humanoid (Elf)
Speed 40 feet

ABILITY SCORES
STR +1 DEX +2 WIS +0
CON +0 INT +3 CHA -1

SKILLS
Arcana +5, Athletics +2, Search +4

DEFENSE
Speed 40 feet
AC 14 DR 0 (Abjurer talent)
Fort +1 Ref +2 Will +0
Mana 6/8 (sustaining Abjurer)
Wounds 8 Vitality 5 Total 13

OFFENSE
Short Sword: +3 to hit; 1d6+3 damage

Magic Missile: +4 to hit; 1d4+3 force damage, and target must succeed on a DC 14 Fortitude save or be knocked prone

Evoker: 1d4 Drain; target suffers 3d6+3 force damage (half on DC 14 Reflex save)

Equipment
arming sword, magic focus (probably a wand or staff), explorer’s pack

I like the differences between both characters: the human is stronger and tougher, while the elf is faster and can better rely on magic for defense (though he doesn't have the DR that the human does). In either case I think they'd both work out just fine.

I actually tried doing a fighter/wizard that starts out as a wizard, but the end result was you're best served using the Shocking Grasp cantrip for melee attacks and Magic Missile for ranged attacks, only switching to a repeating crossbow if the target has high DR because it has armor piercing 2.

The human ended up burning through all of his Mana sustaining Abjurer and Mage Armor (which is why I went with talents that had good cantrip effects), while the elf had 4 points left over, which is enough to use Evoker or Shocking Grasp now and again. I suppose you could focus entirely on Abjurer or Illusionist, but humans have a sparse weapon selection (elves have auto-proficiency with arming swords and so have a solid d8-damage option).

I still think it'd be a neat and functional character, but not what I think when I think "spellsword".

We're considering adding in talents that let you become proficient with weapons and armor. I initially wanted to make them free aside from time and money to train in them, but I could see every wizard just doing that because there'd be no downside. This way it'd be a choice. Could also restrict it to certain classes so you need to multiclass out in order to snag them, so wizards that want to be able to wear armor would lose out on some magic juice.

Adam is working on rules for hybrid classes, because he's a huge fan of 4E hybrids and I think it'd be great to let players mash up a couple classes instead of waiting for/cobbling together a specific class. When that's good to go I'll add it as an Appendix D PDF.

Announcements
Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book is out! It's our own take on a D&Dish/d20 game that features (among other things) simple-yet-flexible classes, unassumed magic and magical healing, a complete lack of pseudo-Vancian magic, and more mythologically accurate monsters.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Father's Day (Also Some Free RPG Stuff)

I nearly forgot that (as of this posting) Free RPG Day was yesterday (local game store out here wasn't doing it I guess).

I quickly put up a post last night giving away a few Dungeon World PDFs, but then realized this morning I had some always free stuff I could point people to. Plus it's Father's Day.

So for gaming dads looking for something to run for the kids, here's a free playtest adventure for the kids version of Dungeons & Delvers that teaches you the game as you play (and has some pregen characters).

It'll become an actual intro adventure at some point: it just needs more art and some possible mechanics tweaks that we're making to the core game (but still plays fine as is).

If you want a more complex d20 game, there's a public not-as-cool document for Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book here (and if you want to buy the better organized snazzy PDF you can get it here).

If you play Dungeon World, you can get a free adventure here and an alternative also free character sheet here.

Announcements
Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book is out! It's our own take on a D&Dish/d20 game that features (among other things) simple-yet-flexible classes, unassumed magic and magical healing, a complete lack of pseudo-Vancian magic, and more mythologically accurate monsters.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).
June 18, 2017
Posted by David Guyll

Enlil-Zi-Shagal's Sky Tomb Playtest

Cast
  • Saitama (1st-level human monk)
  • Sarush (1st-level cambion warlock)
  • Uttama (1st-level tarchon ranger)

Very Brief Summary
Since I want to publish this adventure as a kind of starter adventure for Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book, I don't want to spoil too much (especially the puzzle solutions, which was a big reason why I wanted to playtest it in the first place).

Basically what's happened so far is that the party was hired to deal with a harpy plaguing a village, and after a day or so of travel and climbing they find out that the harpy is squatting in an ancient tower high up in some mountains.


While exploring the tower they find the harpy on the rooftop, and after a string of bad rolls followed by some good ones the monk goes down, but the harpy is so badly wounded that she tries to flee. Melissa has Uttama make a penalized ranged-attack because the harpy is so far away (and why not): she rolls a critical hit and takes it out in mid-flight.

They stabilize the monk and want to keep exploring the tower, because hey, ancient abandoned tower, so they just camp out a few days. When the monk is back on her feet the party runs into a sylph. She wants to go home (which is the Elemental Plane of Air), but all she knows is that the tower is somehow able to do that, and she's been waiting for the harpy to leave or die so she can try and figure it out.

Eventually with the sylph's help they manage to open a portal to the Elemental Plane of Air (considering changing name). Everyone hops into the portal, and it takes them to a stone platform suspended in a seemingly endless sky. A single bridge extends from the platform to a stone door, but its locked and requires a specific combination of incomprehensible symbols to open.

Everyone in the party besides the sylph (who is sticking around to help them out because it's thanks to them she was able to make it back at all) takes turns trying out different combinations and choking on toxic gas before they guess the correct combination. The door opens into a long hallway filled with a bunch of stelae, and that's where we stopped for the night.

Design Notes
So even with some pretty abyssmal luck a party of three 1st-level characters was able to take out a lone level 7 harpy (though the monk was dropped). Of course that's just a Medium critter: I'm sure something like an ogre would have splattered them all due to its size and damage output (I warn about the dangers of Large monsters in the Black Book's GM advice section).

Melissa was able to solve the first puzzle all on her own (opening the portal), but even though she overlooked a clue for the lock just outside of the sky tomb, she was still able to guess it on the third try. I might add more combinations to make it a bit harder to brute force (which might even make the clue a bit more obvious), but I guess losing WP/VP with each attempt is a more meaningful cost than just time.

Not much to say design-wise about the new classes: everything worked pretty much as intended, though Melissa never offered up anything to gain Boon for the warlock. Probably just do a few combat-heavy test runs to see how that works out. We got in a Dwarven Forge set that among other things has a spider web and my daughter is pestering me to make a "spider house", so at least I'll have a solid theme to work with.

(The warlock, as well as a few racial classes and a bunch of new monsters will be going into the next Black Book Appendix D update. Not sure when exactly, but should be out before the end of the month.)

Announcements
Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book is out! It's our own take on a D&Dish/d20 game that features (among other things) simple-yet-flexible classes, unassumed magic and magical healing, a complete lack of pseudo-Vancian magic, and more mythologically accurate monsters.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Dungeons & Delvers: Designing the Warlock

The warlock debuted in 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons as an arcane spellcaster with unlimited magic. Well, unlimited as in you could use it whenever you wanted: you only started the game with the ability to make a magical ranged attack and one other thing (like creating fog clouds or spiderclimbing on walls).

3rd Edition's warlock didn't really mention pacts. The closest it gets is a line about how "a few blameless individuals are simply marked out by the supernatural forces as conduits and tools". Otherwise like sorcerers they can be born with their powers, but instead of the magic being in their blood its described as being part of their soul.

4th Edition's warlock has you choose a type of pact, though only the Fey Pact mentions forging an actual bargain: the Infernal and Star Pacts make it sound like you just learned your magic like a wizard learns his spells. It follows the standard At-will/Encounter/Daily power model that most other classes do, differentiating itself from other spellcasters by being able to curse enemies (bonus damage plus a minor benefit if you kill a cursed enemy).

While you can choose almost any spells you want, many give you an additional kicker effect if you have a specific pact, thereby encouraging you to stick with the more thematic options.

5th Edition's warlock mentions both pacts and patrons. As with 4th Edition you choose a pact (albeit at 3rd-level instead of 1st for some reason), which grants a benefit such as a familiar or the ability to summon a magical weapon. The class is otherwise a mix of pseudo-Vancian magic, plus some at-will and encounter spells. So, basically like 4th Edition, except you don't automatically start with eldritch blast and some sort of damage-boosting curse ability.

Really the only thing I liked about the 5th Edition warlock was that it at least suggests figuring out how big a role your patron plays in the campaign and your relationship with it, something that was lacking at least at the start of 4th Edition.

When developing the warlock for A Sundered World I kept 4th Edition's pacts, but created a debt mechanic to ensure that your patron's influence and desires could never be overlooked or forgotten. I also added a move so that you could get in touch with your patron and to see if it had any jobs on hand: taking the initiative to see what it wants instead of waiting for a call gives you some extra benefits.

Unlike every other Dungeon World spellcaster I've seen (and created), when a warlock casts a spell it always works: you pick what you want to do from a list, it happens, and then you make a Charisma roll to see how much debt you accrue. When your debt gets high enough it resets to 0 and your patron gives you a job: until you get the job done you take a constant penalty to further uses of warlock magic, and if you get too many jobs the GM can decide that your patron pulls your magical plug until you get shit done.

I want to do something similar with the warlock for Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book.

As with the version from A Sundered World you'll choose a type of patron. Right now I'm thinking that there will be general warlock talents, plus talents specific to a pact type, so if you choose the Star Pact you can summon eldritch horrors but not demons, and the Fae Pact won't let you immolate your foes with blasts of hellfire. Something like winged flight I think is general enough for any of them, though.

You'll also start with eldritch blast automatically, which will be raw, unshaped magical energy, basically a ranged Charisma attack similar enough to the wizard's Magic Missile. I'm thinking about having the Pact type alter this, so Infernal Pact makes it inflict fire damage, Fae Pact can have it inflict radiant or cold damage (depends on if you go summer or winter fae), and Star Pact makes it deal psychic damage.

I actually worked on a homebrew warlock class for 5th Edition back when I thought it might result in a game I'd enjoy (I later made a new pact when they got around to making an "official" warlock). One of the class features I included (and for a short while was part of the official version) was simply called sign, and had you gradually physically transform over time.

As before the sign will start out small, something that can be easily concealed, but as you gain more warlock levels you'll continue changing until there's just no hiding it. Like, for the Star Pact you might have an eye or mouth somewhere on your body, and as you level up you'll start growing tentacles, more eyes and mouths, and so on until you look like the alienist from Tome & Blood.

As for other spells, I'm thinking of giving you one spell that you can use at-will, no problem, and you can speak to your patron (10 minute ritual) to swap it out for something else. Higher levels let you have more at-will-no-cost magic on tap, though I'm not sure if I want to have them automatically scale, or let you "rank up" by using multiple I guess "slots" on the same ability.

So at 1st-level you could temporarily bind a creature in chains, and then at 4th- or maybe 5th-level you could choose a second ability, or rank up binding chains to make it deal more damage and also restrain or something. Since you can hit up your patron to swap them around, you can experiment without worrying about having a (mostly?) useless ability.

Another way to differentiate them from other spellcasters is that they won't have an automatically replenishing spellcasting resource like Mana or Favor. Instead they'll have Boon, which they can only earn it by doing or giving things to their patron (have to put in guidelines for how much to give for doing things, but for trading stuff I'm thinking 50 sp per Boon since clerics can sacrifice 50 sp worth of stuff for 1 Favor).

Depends on how much bang you can get per Boon.

Current uses for Boon includes casting more potent spells (that can only be cast by spending Boons), maybe bonuses on various d20 checks and saving throws, and boosting your at-will stuff. Really the trick is making sure its worth the effort, but not making it too good. Ah, well, that's what playtesting is for.

So, what do you think? Does this class sound interesting to you? Better than current warlocks on the market? Is there something other warlocks can do that you'd like to see this one do? Once I hammer out a five-level version it'll be part of the next Appendix D issue (probably along with racial classes).

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Dungeons & Delvers: Age of Worms, Episode 604

Cast
  • Humal (level 10 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 10 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 10 elf rogue/ranger)

Summary
With the water elemental destroyed and Humal more-or-less back on his feet, the party continued through the water ring and on to the smaller building beyond.

The door was covered in elaborate bas-reliefs that from a distance concealed a number of what Sumia figured were keyholes. The entire surface was covered in rust, so when she tried to pick one and almost immediately failed blamed it on ancient, faulty machinery.

Luckily Corzale still had the magical rusting gauntlet they found beneath Dovin's arena: she obliterated a sizable portion of the door with a single punch...revealing another door only a few feet behind it. It was similar to the first, just much better preserved.

Sumia was able to pick one lock, which quickly retracted into the door, only to be replaced by a series of dials covered in "Wind Duke language". Rather than wait for the rust gauntlet to recharge or go through who knew how many possible combinations, they decided to back track, find Allustan, and hope he could sort it out. Who knows: maybe it'd take so long the gauntlet would recharge by the time they got back.

When they turned about, Humal and Corzale saw a strange, shadowy form moving about the door to the previous building. They were used to ambushes by now, but when they retraced their steps across the winding bridge and peered through the door, everything looked to be more or less in order: the statue was still standing, and the pile of rubble was still a pile of rubble.

Figuring that whatever it was had something to do with the remaining statue, or that the statue would animate and attack as soon as they tried the remaining door, Corzale strode up to it and prepared to smash it with her hammer. She was surprised that it reacted to avoid her attack. Not that it moved, but that it moved before she could hit it: normally these sorts of guardian constructs just stood around until you touched something or moved somewhere you weren't supposed to.

It stomped on the ground, causing the stone floor to ripple and pelt Corzale with stone fragments. The floor was visibly damaged but still mostly intact; Corzale prayed that they could destroy the statue before it could stomp again. Unfortunately Sumia's arrows harmlessly shattered against it, and her owlbear's claws and teeth didn't fare much better; it got in another stomp before Corzale struck it square in the midsection, shattering it in two and sending the amorphous shape they'd spotted earlier flying out of the torso.

Corzale found herself stranded on a floating piece of rubble, unwilling to risk leaping off of it because for some reason they still fell on this accursed plane. Whatever had been controlling the statue was still alive: Sumia failed to strike the creature as it swam through the stone towards Humal, but just before it struck it suddenly stopped, bowed, and began speaking to him in an infernal language.

Now that it was completely exposed and standing still, Corzale recognized it as a very old and primitive gnome. As with the rest of the elemental guardians they'd encountered it had likely been bound here by the tomb's creators long ago, and from what Humal discerned the binding magic had faded and now it just wanted to go home. Corzale agreed to let it go after it reassembled the floor so that she didn't have to risk jumping across the gap.

After it eventually completed its task to Corzale's satisfaction it, best they could tell, attempted to warn them about a pair of guardians in the next room before leaving.

Expecting another fight they rested up before trying the final door, which opened into a square room. Standing opposite of the door was a golden statue of a wind duke, garbed in flowing robes and standing atop a heap of slain demons. The walls were covered in bas-reliefs that depicted warriors and what they assumed were wind duke nobles and common folk saluting and bowing before the golden statue.

Humal and Sumia were surprised that the only magical energies they could detect emanated from beyond the wall right behind the golden statue: it looked roughly spherical in shape, and radiated abjuration, conjuration, and evocation magic. Everything else seemed perfectly mundane: had the gnome attempted to warn them about traps? Had the previous guardians already left?

Taking a cue from the bas-reliefs, Corzale grabbed Humal and Sumia by the arm, pulling them down into a position of supplication, but nothing happened. Recalling the gnome's warning, Sumia entered the room and examined the bas-reliefs of two warriors on either side of the statue.

Careful examination revealed that these warriors weren't carved from the wall: they were assembled from a number of tiles that fit together almost seamlessly. To Sumia's surprise and relief, nothing happened when she pried a tile loose, and as she continued to work a door was gradually revealed behind it.

She lifted the door to reveal the source of the magical energies: a great sphere of electricity, seemingly powered by a metal spike positioned in the ceiling above it. In the center she saw Allustan, face contorted in agony, likely due to the great wound in his side. Fortunately he seemed to be frozen in time, so hadn't yet died from blood loss.

Design Notes
First off, we've finally released Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book!

It's a complete role-playing game, albeit with a soft five-level cap (there's a sidebar for it you want to go past that, plus guidelines on converting monsters, so with a bit of work you can play until you snag all the talents).

We also updated it with the first Appendix D document, which adds some new races and classes, multiclassing, and examples of what you can do with various monster parts.

Second, I am in fact working on an adventure that involves the party going to a sky tomb on another plane, based on some of the stuff I mentioned in this post and that post. Going to release it as a kind of intro adventure for the game.

Aside from being the tomb of an air elemental-ish humanoid, it's not going to have much in common with The Whispering Cairn, though I'm also kicking around a sequel adventure that has the characters investigate an ancient worm-cult temple (which so far has an Alien vibe).

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Dungeons & Delvers: Wizard Spells

Someone pointed out that it's possible for a 1st-level human wizard to start the game with either Fireball or Lightning Bolt (and every other race could pick it up by 2nd-level). Fireball inflicts 7d6+Intelligence fire damage to a 10-foot radius, while Lightning Bolt inflicts 6d10+Intelligence lightning damage to a single target (Reflex save for half in both cases).

Either talent costs 2d4 Mana per use. Yeah, you could luck out and get 2 (which is why I reduced the overall effectiveness of most spells), but you could also roll an 8, which for a 1st-level wizard with a Constitution of 0 or less is enough to drop you immediately: since Mana costs are paid before the spell goes off, this would mean you go down without anything happening at all.

By 2nd-level you'd have enough Mana to foot the cost even on a maximum Drain roll, though you'd have to mediate for several hours to replenish it (unless you're cool burning through your paltry WP and/or VP).

I'm not sure how much of a problem this really is. On one hand I'm pretty fine in theory with a wizard overspecializing and gambling knocking themselves out attempting to drop one big spell, and on the other hand it is a fuckton of damage (which could result in some pretty awesome stories where a wizard lucks out blowing an ogre apart with a lightning bolt).

What do you think?

For those that consider it an issue, here's a list of possible solutions (though I'm open to others and could implement more than one):

  • Reduce the base damage and have the spells automatically scale up to a point. Like, they could start out dealing two or three dice of damage (ie more than Evoker), and as you level up they deal more dice until they cap out.
  • Change/increase the Mana cost. Currently the costs are mostly based on the spell point costs from 3rd/5th Edition: since a 3rd-level spell costs 5 spell points I pegged it at 2d4. I don't want to change it up too much, but I could do something like 1d6+2, which at least increases the minimum Drain.
  • Impose a level restriction, so you can't even choose them until 5th-level.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Dungeons & Delvers: Multiclassing

I didn't put multiclassing rules in the Black Book because it's only five levels right now, and I wanted to keep things simple, but we've actually been using them almost from the start in the Age of Worms playtest campaign.

Or rather Melissa has.

She started out Sumia as an elf rogue, but during the first adventure (The Whispering Cairn) they ended up killing an owlbear mother (though they didn't know it at the time and were understandably more focused on trying to not get collectively mauled by it).

Melissa wanted to keep its cub as a pet, and I told her that the next time she leveled she could take a level in ranger in order to pick up the Animal Companion talent (basically gain Medium or smaller beast of your level, levels up with you so it doesn't quickly become a wasted talent choice).

Since then she's mostly focused on ranger, snagging a level in wizard much more recently for a Sustain Darkvision talent so she could see in the dark while sneaking about, and also not give away her position with a torch.

I just updated the Black Book with the first Appendix D document (for those of you that already bought it, just check the product page again), which in addition to multiclassing rules adds the cambion and tarchon races, the monk and ranger classes, and suggestions on things you can make with monster parts (as with the Black Book we want to know what you like/hate about it).

The gist of it is that when you want to multiclass, the next time you level up you choose another class. This is mostly how it worked in 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, but since the numbers are lower and there isn't any assumed math-by-level you can organically develop your character without inadvertently crippling yourself.

You don't gain the new class's weapon or armor proficiencies, or its saving throw bonuses, because all of that is assumed to be stuff you learned prior to adventuring. We're waffling between having you spend a talent on weapon and armor proficiencies, or just letting you pick them up for free if you take the time to train in them. Probably end up doing the former.

Here's what you get by multiclassing into a new class:
  • Cleric: Favor equal to your Wisdom, Lance of Faith, Rebuke Adversary, and a cleric Domain talent.
  • Fighter: You get +1 to hit and damage with all weapons, but you can swap out +1 damage for another fighter talent.
  • Monk: +1 to hit with unarmed strike, unarmed strike deals 1d6 damage, Ki equal to Wisdom, Flurry of Blows, and Fighting Style (might drop that though and require you to pick it up later because monk seems to get quite a bit)
  • Ranger: +1 to hit with weapons, Great Outdoors, Hunter
  • Rogue: You gain Sneak Attack and a rogue talent. Thinking of also adding a bonus skill to the mix.
  • Wizard: You get Detect Magic, Magic Missile, 4 Mana and you choose a wizard talent.

Your WP and VP increase is based on what the class gets when it levels up, not what it gets at 1st-level. So, if you multiclass into fighter you get +4+Constitution WP and +2 VP, not the 6+Constitution WP and 4 VP a 1st-level fighter would normally starts with.

At 2nd-level and up you just get whatever the class normally gets. So if you start out as a wizard and multiclass into a rogue, you get Sneak Attack +1d6 and a rogue talent, and if you take another level in rogue you get a bonus skill and talent.

Related, Adam (Albright) is working on hybrid class rules, which will ideally let you do a spellsword type mix at 1st-level.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book

And it's finally done. I think. Going to see what people think and if there are any mistakes/clarifications/missing shit they point out, because even though we (as in, Melissa, myself, our playtesters, and a bunch of other people) have gone over it a bunch of times I'm sure there's something that got overlooked.

I'll give it a few days, and if nothing crops up I'll do a BW PDF (added for free of course), and then start working on the various print options. As usual if you buy the PDF before the print stuff becomes available, we'll send you the print-at-cost links (for every print option) so you don't have to pay anything extra (and might even pay a bit less).

In case you have no clue what Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book is, this is for the most part Dungeons & Dragons how I'd do it, which might also be in some part how you'd do it, too.

It's still roll-over-target-number d20, you still got ability scores and saving throws and armor class (mostly). If you've played D&D or something d20 this should be stupid-easy to learn, and one of the playtest campaigns uses the Age of Worms adventure path so in practice it's easy to convert stuff over (the other uses A Sundered World so that'll be a d20 thing at some point).

But of course we have changed some stuff.

For starters, the magic systems: wizards and clerics don't use the same pseudo-Vancian mechanics, wizards can recover spent magical energy sooner than clerics and have a wider array of magical abilities, but they burn through random amounts and can exhaust or even kill themselves if they aren't careful (and/or lucky). They're also squishier.

Kobolds and some other monsters like ghouls are more inline with their mythological roots. Kobolds replace halflings as a starting race choice because they can do more interesting things, but if you really want halflings just use the abilities and mechanics from your favorite edition and add them back in.

Other assorted things include: armor mitigates the damage you suffer, characters have a small hp pool that recovers with a bit of rest (short rest that takes 30 minutes), magical healing isn't essentially required to get by, and characters are a lot more flexible (and you can to a point control how complex your character gets, yeah even wizards).

There's more, and if you don't like the entire package even mostly as-is odds are you'll find something you can lift for another game.

We're very interested to hear what people like/don't like about this game, primarily the stuff you don't like and why. We're going to build on it over time, adding more classes, races, expanding the level cap, craft skills, an organic multiclassing system (that Melissa has been really digging thus far), magic items, houserules for a bunch of stuff, and so on, but we don't want to build too much only to find out people really don't like this or that.

You can see previews of it over on DriveThruRPG.

Another Note: If you purchase using the PayPal Buy Now button, we will also send you a complimentary copy through DriveThruRPG. Please allow up to 24 hours for delivery, though it usually ends up being at most eight (depends on if you buy it after we've gone to bed).

$6.99

$6.99


Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).
May 30, 2017
Posted by David Guyll

Fiction Fails: Bag of Books

So in Dungeon World, for a mere 10 coins you can buy a bag of books. Each bag for some reason weighs twice as much as a suit of chainmail (which also weighs as much as leather armor and provides the same amount of protection), has 5 uses, and each use gives you +1 to Spout Lore about whatever.

I guess you go to a book store, for a pittance of ten measly coins the clerk tosses in five books, and they just happen to be precisely what you need the next five times you want a +1 to your Spout Lore roll. Maybe the clerk should use his precognition for something more financially lucrative? Because, at 2 coins a book he's hemorrhaging an insane amount of money.

No mention as to whether you can continue referencing them after the fact (for something related to but maybe not exactly what you used it for previously), give them to another PC so they can take a +1 to Spout Lore about the same general topic you did, or just sell them to someone else (it's not like reading them suddenly devalues them, though they oddly aren't worth very much to begin with).

In our Dungeon World games we've used a bag of books like so: the PCs come across something, someone wants to Spout Lore to see what their character knows about it, and if a player feels like it would be especially useful to hit the 10+ mark they'd consult the bag. Otherwise, because again it's only a single +1 that one time, they'd save the book, or might not even want to attempt spouting lore at all because of a contrived miss result.

For a game that drones on and on about "the fiction", doesn't make much sense, does it?

If the PCs have some clue as to what to expect over the course of an adventure, and think it might be useful to know more about it, I imagine the them doing some research before the adventure even kicks off to see what they can learn. More often than not they don't, so I expect them to hit the books during the adventure to find answers to any questions that crop up, again so long as they feel that the answers would be particularly interesting or important.

I figure you could reskin the Bolster move that I've never seen anyone use to make a kind of Research move, but instead of taking a long-ass time racking up a few floating +1's, the GM tells you interesting/useful things that you learned. I wouldn't require a roll, but if you wanted to make it random I guess you could roll+INT or +some rating based on how well stocked a library or archive is, with maybe another +1 or -1 added to the mix depending on how much time you spend there.

But what about individual books?

First off, unless books in your campaign are incredibly easy to mass produce (which is totally feasible, though nothing in the book suggests that that's the case), they should cost more in general. A lot more. I'm thinking a good starting point would be 100 coins for a book with some basic information on something, and 1,000 coins for a decent quality book with comprehensive information on a particular subject. If nothing else, it gives PCs something to do with all the cash they're gonna rack up over the course of a campaign.

Second, when you buy a book you have to tell the GM what you're looking for, and the GM determines if the book you are looking for is even available (because it very well might not be and you can always fall back on the Supply move). You can't just buy a "bag" of five books that will just so happen to maybe have useful information on the next five things you Spout Lore about (assuming you roll high enough on your Intelligence check, that is).

Finally, you shouldn't make an Intelligence check to see if the book contains useful information: the book's quality should determine what it can tell you.

I figure a book with basic information would cost 100+ coins (depends on what it's about) and have the slow tag (why doesn't the bag of books?). When you read it, the GM will tell you something interesting about the subject (as if you rolled a 10+ on Spout Lore).

If it's a basic bestiary--either for a specific monster or possibly monster setting--you can now Spout Lore about them if you couldn't before, but you automatically know the more infamous abilities of a monster, such as a cockatrice's petrifying bite or rust monster's ability to rust metal.

A book with comprehensive information would cost 1000+ coins. In addition to learning something interesting about it automatically, you can now Spout Lore about the subject (if you couldn't before).

A comprehensive bestiary could be about a narrow type of creature (all types of therianthropes), or a specific creature (vampires). You basically learn everything there is to know about them, including their damage, HP, special qualities, and moves. If parts of the monster can be used for things like alchemical items, magic items, rituals, and so on, it'll also mention those.

Something else I considered doing with books would be to give books something like a Quality or Knowledge tag, which would determine how many useful/interesting things you'd learn by reading from them. So, Quality 1 would be one thing, Quality 2 would be two things, etc. Obviously the higher the quality, the higher the price.

If you also want to keep things random with books, like maybe the guy who wrote the book overlooked something, some of the information could be inaccurate, or you were reading too quickly and missed something, you could also make a move that has you roll+Quality. Or, when you reference a book on a particular subject you can Spout Lore with +Quality instead of +INT.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

FrankenFourth: Elves, Dwarves, And Kobolds Oh My

Over on a much earlier, maybe even the first public alpha document for FrankenFourth (which is over a year old at this point, and there's even a link to a later one at the top of the document), one David L left the following response to a line in the Races section where I state that we're going to have "more mythologically accurate kobolds".

Here's the comment in its entirety:

The phrase "mythologically accurate" makes me highly skeptical. First off, what even counts as 'accurate' when it comes to centuries old stories passed down orally with countless variations? I mean, just looking at kobolds, are you going to use the version where they're the Germanic equivalent of brownies or of knockers? If mythological accuracy is all that's important, why pick one over the other? And of course, when it comes to how they fit into a game world, the brownie-like kobolds are tied to their house and can't leave, which greatly limits adventuring options. And if you go for the knocker-like kobolds, then they're going to start overlapping uncomfortable with dwarves (or rather, dwarfs, since we're being mythologically accurate, here).

Second, and much more importantly, as a fantasy game... I mean, do you intend on reverting elves back to their Nordic origin of "this may just be another name for 'dwarf', but it may be something else entirely, we can't tell"? Elves that stood more than a meter high did not exist before Tolkien*. To draw this line at halflings is incredibly arbitrary, particularly given the way the rest of this seems to be intending to evoke classic, old school D&D in terms of flavour. If you want to make a game that's more faithful to mythology that's great, and I would love such a thing, but it would be wholly distinct from the Tolkienesque high fantasy that is iconic to D&D, and you'd be far better off decoupling your system from its legacy (at least overtly, basically every system today can trace itself back to D&D one way or another, so don't worry about ripping off the mechanics).

*The description in myth is vague at best for dwarf/elf height, simply indicating that they were shorter than typical Norsemen to some unspecified degree. However, this is the general consensus in artwork up until Tolkien, and really, up until D&D.

Before I go about responding to it, I want to say that I got on the kobolds-instead-of-halflings train back when we worked on A Sundered World, but I forget exactly how it got started. Best I can recall, I think while looking up information on kobolds I realized that they're waaay more interesting than halflings, and can even look like halflings to boot.

Of course that wasn't the first time Melissa and I mined real world mythologies for ideas. I'd been doing that since those Wandering Monster articles during 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons development, during which I quickly realized just how much more awesome the source creature was than whatever the D&D team was coming up with.

For example, take the ghoul: the mythological ghoul is a type of jinni that can assume the form of an animal and take the form of the last person it ate, while the D&D ghoul is basically a humanoid undead creature that can paralyze everyone but elves. Former sounds way cooler, so that's the one we ran with.

With that out of the way, let's get back to that comment.

The phrase "mythologically accurate" makes me highly skeptical. First off, what even counts as 'accurate' when it comes to centuries old stories passed down orally with countless variations?

For the past three editions of Dungeons & Dragons, kobolds have been little draconian people with dragon's blood that typically serve or worship dragons. I recall Pathfinder actually linking their scale color and appearances to specific dragons, and I'd be surprised if no one else has done that, too. They're also good at digging and setting traps.

So, I'd say our kobolds are more mythologically accurate, which succeeds at our stated goal.

I mean, just looking at kobolds, are you going to use the version where they're the Germanic equivalent of brownies or of knockers? If mythological accuracy is all that's important, why pick one over the other?

As described in the alpha document, we're using three types. Players can pick whichever type they like the most, and there will be a talent in the Red Book (which is the full core game that will come out after the Black Book) that lets you choose a second and even third spirit type if you want to do that.

I never said mythological accuracy is all that's important, so I don't know why you're saying it now.

And of course, when it comes to how they fit into a game world, the brownie-like kobolds are tied to their house and can't leave, which greatly limits adventuring options.

Hearth kobolds (the closest thing to kobolds that live in homes) aren't tied to a house, obviously because no one would choose a race that is restricted to a house in a game where you're supposed to go on adventures. We gave hearth kobolds the ability to conjure flames in their hands, which in the full game will lead into you being able to fully transform into fire if you want to take it that far.

Remember: more mythologically accurate. We are ignoring certain things. Maybe. The mythology behind lots of things gets muddy and sometimes contradicts itself.

And if you go for the knocker-like kobolds, then they're going to start overlapping uncomfortable with dwarves (or rather, dwarfs, since we're being mythologically accurate, here).

Actually they won't: just compare the dwarf and kobold entries (specifically compare dwarves with mine kobolds). If you're just looking at mechanics, dwarves are really fucking tough, and I'm considering giving them another racial trait that makes them learn weaponsmithing and armorer skills twice as fast as other races.

Kobolds right now don't have much of a mechanical focus. The Charisma bonus will make them ideal for bards and sorcerers and the like, but for now they're the go-to race for social skills. The game doesn't assume certain numbers at certain points, so they're still good enough to get by at anything. Considering changing it so that your spirit type gives you a different stat bonus (so mine kobolds might get +1 Constitution instead of Charisma).

Again: more mythologically accurate..

Second, and much more importantly, as a fantasy game... I mean, do you intend on reverting elves back to their Nordic origin of "this may just be another name for 'dwarf', but it may be something else entirely, we can't tell"?

Check the elf entry to see what we did.

Elves that stood more than a meter high did not exist before Tolkien*.

When researching elves for A Sundered World, I came across stuff that mentioned elves being short, human-sized, and even taller than humans. One book stated that Tolkien's elves were actually pretty close to one particular elven mythology, and I'm inclined to agree. I also read stuff that described elves as being akin to gods or spirits of the dead.

So, I simply ran with elves being as tall or taller than humans. Seems to fit one mythology, and there are plenty of small things to choose from if I want to add another small player race.

To draw this line at halflings is incredibly arbitrary, particularly given the way the rest of this seems to be intending to evoke classic, old school D&D in terms of flavour.

Again, near as I can tell D&D elves were pretty close to an elven mythology, but I didn't "draw the line" at halflings.

First, our kobolds are a much more interesting race choice than a small, stealthy and maybe lucky human (and if you really want to use halflings it would be very easy to add them to the mix). Second, we've given a similar treatment to (for starters) chimeras, angels, ghouls, rakshasas, and gorgons (or what D&D typically calls a Medusa).

Mimics and doppelgangers are getting reworked, there's not going to be 20+ elven subraces to choose from, we've changed tieflings into cambions and tied them to sins, and instead of aasimar we've got ishim (and tied them to a Domain or virtue).

Basically, we're looking at the mythological source or equivalent or whatever you want to call it for a monster (when it exists), and if we think it's cooler we're doing that, and if we also like the D&D version we can do something different with it if we think it's cool enough to stand on its own.

As mentioned above, we're going with the mythological ghoul, and not bothering at all with the D&D incarnation. I like the look and ideas behind the current D&D  kobold (plus I've got a shitload of kobold minis I want to use), so we're going to keep the appearance, call them something else, and maybe change up their abilities.

If you want to make a game that's more faithful to mythology that's great, and I would love such a thing, but it would be wholly distinct from the Tolkienesque high fantasy that is iconic to D&D, and you'd be far better off decoupling your system from its legacy (at least overtly, basically every system today can trace itself back to D&D one way or another, so don't worry about ripping off the mechanics).

Being faithful to a specific mythology for it's own sake isn't really the point: we're going with what we feel makes more sense or is more interesting, rather than sticking with D&D because nostalgia or ease.

As mentioned above (a few times), Tolkien elves aren't that far off from one interpretation, and I don't really mind them like that, so we're just going to leave them alone. Mostly. They can still get access to minor magical powers at 1st-level (couldn't find any specifics so just went with a free wizard talent).

But, you're forgetting or ignoring other aspects of D&D, like pseudo-Vancian magic that gets incorrectly labeled as Vancian by people that have apparently never read The Dying Earth, the paladin, paladin mount, swanway, and other things from Three Hearts, Three Lions, and other things from various works from Appendix N roster. It's not all Tolkien.

That said, there's a bunch of stuff in this game that makes it distinct from D&D, while at the same time still giving you that D&D feel: just read through the Google Doc (specifically the much more recent one).

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, check it out!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).
May 26, 2017
Posted by David Guyll

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