March 24, 2017

Sirine

Race
Notes from the Nails: this one is largely inspired by the video game, Baldur's Gate. Though my sirines are more like sirens than water nymphs - wild, beguiling and not bound to a particular place.

Sirine

A sirine is a beautiful, amphibious fey creature often found on beaches and riverbanks. Humanoids regard them as unpredictable and dangerous, but the reality is more nuanced.

Beach Party
To a sirine, nothing is more important than living in the moment. They act as they please, seeking joy and pleasure wherever it may be found - especially if that happens to be by the seaside! Sirines love the fresh breeze and the feel of warm sand between their toes as much as anyone else; staking out the best spots on beaches to make sure their frolics attract just the right amount of attention.
      As with most fey folk, their emotions are strong and shift rapidly, such that they may want to kiss someone one minute, and kill them the next. And a sirine's commitment to spontaneity is deep: they do not hesitate to act on these impulses. This can make them seem wild, but to a sirine, it is the natural state of things.

March 22, 2017

The Tavern - Raging Barbarian and Intellect Devourer

Today on The Tavern, we make a couple of drinks that aren't fruity, a big change from our normal fare.

March 20, 2017

Oath of the Seraph

Sacred Oath
Comments from the Knuckle: The initial idea for the 1st draft of the mechanics for this Sacred Oath were inspired by Xander from Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest, specifically the Seraph Sword is inspired by the powers of his mighty blade, Siegfried. The theme of ascension came from a discussion I had with my college roommates about whether or not a paladin whose goal was to become a god and eliminate evil would be on the Good or Evil side of alignment. Without further ado, I give you the Oath of the Seraph.

Oath of the Seraph

Paladins who take the Oath of the Seraph are known for making grand destinies for themselves. Their deeds are known far and wide, and every paladin who takes this Oath has the goal of eventually assuming the mantle of divinity.

March 17, 2017

The Oozemaster's Apprentice

Monsters
Notes from the Nails: the 5e Monster Manual doesn't have many oozes. Some say it doesn't have enough oozes. Here's a selection of new and revived jelly monsters to dissolve your players...

Amorphous Antagonists and Sinister Slimes

When we play D&D in a fantasy setting, it's easy to take the existence of oozes for granted. There they are, right there in the Monster Manual, between oni and orcs. Just another sack of hitpoints for your players to beat up, right?
     Wrong. Encountering an ooze should be as terrifying for your players as it is for their characters. Put yourself in their shoes: a pool of liquid on the ground suddenly comes to life and attacks! It can't be reasoned with, feels no pain, and cutting it up just means there's more of it to fight! Maybe it's corrosive. Maybe it's poisonous. Maybe it absorbs magic. Stumbling upon an ooze should be instantly turning run-of-the-mill dungeon delving into a deadly struggle to survive.
     Even worse, encountering an ooze will nearly always be a surprise. An adventuring party will very rarely expect to be fighting oozes, because oozes are not innately evil (or indeed good, if playing an evil campaign). They don't build fortresses and plot villainous schemes, nor do they invade or rampage like orcs and gnolls. They're just there, doing their own thing, with no heed for whomever else they might share their lair with... except to the extent that they may be edible.
     Thus, oozes make great random/wandering monsters, providing a useful change of tone to scenarios that might otherwise involve multiple battles against the same kind of enemy. You can also drop them into exploration-heavy scenarios, treating them almost more like a hazard to be avoided, rather than a monster to be fought.
     The stat blocks below aim to offer you a wider variety of oozes to throw at your players, especially at higher challenge ratings than the Monster Manual caters to. One thing that many of these have in common is that they get more dangerous the longer a fight goes on, engulfing, draining and inflicting status effects of the PCs while slowly wearing them down. These kinds of effects ratchet up the tension and encourage players to feel more of what their characters are feeling.

March 15, 2017

Finishing the Session

It's been a long time since we've done one of these articles, but today I just want to talk about one particular moment of gaming at your table -- the last one.

A Practical Example

Our last few sessions concerned the party diving into the bowels of a mountain, which we soon learned was controlled by a beholder, with a force of goblins and wyverns under its sway. After two sessions of carving through goblins and rescuing townsfolk, we discovered the beholder's lair; unfortunately, it was at the top of a sheer 200 foot vertical shaft. With few options, short of climbing the outside of the mountain, battling through a nest of wyverns, and then diving into an over CR battle with a beholder, we simply tied a large batch of dynamite to our witch's loyal familiar, lit the fuse, and sent it upward into the beholder's lair. We ran for the exit, and a massive explosion followed.

Then, high above, hundreds of small beholderkin started floating out from the destroyed lair, streaming toward the nearby town, which we had been working to save! We looked around the table, knowing full well the disaster we had wrought for everyone there.

"None of this was any of our fault!" I confidently declared.
The other players agreed with the lie in unison: "None of this was any our fault."
"Let's go save the town."

And that was it. Session over -- to be continued.

March 13, 2017

School of Somnomancy

Arcane Tradition
Notes from the Nails: something I hear all the time is that the Sleep spell is awesome at level 1 but useless by level 4. That doesn't seem right to me, so I made a subclass to keep it relevant. Sweet dreams!

School of Somnomancy

The somnomancers are an idiosyncratic bunch, given to fancies, daydreams and odd sartorial choices, and it is no surprise that they are rarely accorded any respect by mages of other schools. Although their obsession with sleep is occasionally useful, such as when someone needs to be hypnotized or must have their dreams interpreted, it is more often a source of humor – much to the chagrin of so-called 'pajama-mages'!