June 13, 2019

Alliterative Announcements

In lieu of a post, I thought I'd bring you notable news, some significant scoops, some important information on what we've been up the last few weeks, all of which is alliterative.

Fate and the Fablemaidens 

First and foremost, we've started sponsoring a phenomenal podcast called Fate and the Fablemaidens! It's an all-female cast D&D podcast with absolutely stellar performance and production. If you've heard anything about this podcast, you don't need a recommendation, but for those who are hearing about it for the first time: Go Listen to This Podcast!

Taverns and Tankards

Secondly, our complete guide to bars, brews, and barfights is out now! Taverns and Tankards is easily one of the funniest and most polished books we've ever crafted. Get this book before your party next sets foot in a tavern or inn!

The Club Cruises

Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't plug Hero Club again! Their high-seas adventure season is still going strong and it's seriously coming to a head. Start listening now!

June 11, 2019

Craftsman Final

Base Class
Comments from the Finger: Everyone on our Patreon has been watching us painstakingly rebuild and rebalance the Craftsman class from scratch, and the end result is remarkable, if I don't say so myself. Not only does the class give you comprehensive rules to build custom weapons and armor that are precisely balanced with the core rules, but it also comes with a staggering suite of exotic weapons and variant rules. Get all of that, plus some of the best subclasses we've ever written, in the Complete Craftsman!


A burly dwarf brings his hammer down on a glowing hunk of steel, launching a shower of sparks into the air. Sweat pours down his back, and his arms strain with each strike, revealing thick cords of muscle, yet he does not tire. The air resonates with the sound of metal impacting metal, while the bright, hot piece of steel in his tongs begins to take shape. Gradually, it flattens, widens, hardens, and cools. He quenches the newly formed blade in an oil bath, then sets his mind to preparations for polishing, sharpening, and fitting the weapon with a handle and guard.
     An elf threads a needle with an almost impossibly thin metallic wire, preparing to set the stitches into a set of what looks to be leather armor, but made of dragon's hide. She checks the placement and attachment of the owlbear down lining and ensures that her apprentice set the crystal studs into the surface properly. Once satisfied, she sets about her work in a flurry of dexterous stitches.
     A gnome with an intricate set of goggles examines the stock for his latest work, a portable ballista. He examines the gearing and loading crank, ensures the tension on the bowstring, and scans the bolt rail for imperfections. He smiles, for he knows his work is without flaw.

Master of Craft
Artisans of all types are an integral part of every culture: buildings must be erected, pots must be set to the kiln, tools must be smithed. Despite their pervasiveness, master craftsmen are still as rare as they are prized. These artisans, creators, and inventors can smith items of mythic quality, and can solve most any problem simply by using the right tool and the appropriate amount of force.

Secret of Steel
Adventuring craftsmen come in many varieties, but nearly all leverage use their advanced knowledge of metallurgy, smelting, and construction to forge arms and armor rarely seen, even by other adventurers. The smiths test their schematics and designs themselves, building prototypes and experimental gear that can later be refined into mass-production items.

June 8, 2019

The Rose Court | Into the Wilds

In this series, we'll be expanding on the work begun in our supplement of fairies and fariy tales, Fey Folio, by extending the world building, exploring additional mechanics, and fleshing out the Fey's fantastical world. Join us as we embark Into the Wilds.

Notes from the Nails: several people have asked me for archfey stats. Clearly, these are going to be huge stat blocks, so we can only do a few at a time. That's why we thought it would be best to tackle them court by court, mixing in some more worldbuilding while we're at it.

Designing the Faerie Courts

Usually, when a new writer, game designer, artist, or other builder of worlds sets out to fashion a system of fey courts, they take their inspiration from a few common sources. These include real-world mythology, older works of fiction, and natural phenomena like weather and seasons. We have taken a somewhat different approach. Our starting point was encouraging Feywild campaigns to focus on intrigue, magic, and politics, so it felt most natural to base out faerie courts on political ideals and build from there. Doing it this way is handy, because it means that the courts will sit along natural ideological fault lines that bring them into conflict with each other organically, without falling back on the overly reductive good-vs-evil and law-vs-chaos conflicts that drive most D&D settings.
     One of the potential pitfalls of drawing inspiration from real-world politics is that we, as writers, can be biased. We've done our best to take our personal beliefs out of the equation and incorporate 'positive' and 'negative' traits into each of the courts, but please let us know if you think we've failed to do that at any point. On the other hand, I do think it is helpful to players if some of the courts to be broadly good-ish and broadly evil-ish, since there isn't always time at the table or space in the narrative to explore all the subtle nuances of a group of NPCs. So don't necessarily see it as a bug if some of the courts aren't perfectly balanced in the neutral zone.
     And, of course, all of the courts are filled with fey creatures and (at least for the major courts) based in the Feywild. That means that their philosophies are filtered through the nature of fey creatures and the history, geography, and culture of their plane. Don't be surprised if some things don't quite line up to the real world!

June 5, 2019

The Carnivore

Comments from the Finger: This one needs all sorts of background: 

The new season of Hero Club, Here There Be Monsters, has this really creative nautical setting: all the characters are anthropomorphic animals, from sea otters to elephants, which imposes a whole strange order on the world. Generally, animals don't eat one another (fish are another matter), except for the Carnivore, the season's antagonist, a gazelle that's taken up meat-eating and pirate-hunting.

Also, if you've read our High Seas Update, you've probably already pieced together the other important aspect of the setting, which is that magic-users are extremely powerful at sea; a fireball can just destroy a wooden ship in seconds. So, the Carnivore comes with a built-in antimagic field, to thwart the pirates' spells.

Last but not least, while I normally tackle the stat creation, this one is all George (Hero Club's fantastic DM), so it's a sterling example of how effective he is at the mechanical side of the game that we champion so hard around here.

The Carnivore

Nicholas Blackbriar, AKA The Carnivore, sails the seas of Emporia aboard The Briarpatch, terrorizing innocents and pillaging to his black heart’s content. Infamous for consuming his victims, the gazelle commands an entire crew of lions bent completely to his will. Blackbriar loves toying with prey and is always eager to find new powerful artifacts to cement his status as Apex Predator.

May 29, 2019

Borderlands Manufacturers

Comments from the Palm: I don't know if we've mentioned this, but Go Listen to Hero Club! We'll have some actual PDFs about the new season next week (we promise), but in the meantime, just get in there and listen to it.

Welcome all to a series of articles I’m calling Borderlands-ng your Dark Matter Game!

Okay, that’s a bad title.

I love Borderlands. I’ve played several hundred hours of BL1, BL2, TPS, TFTB; all the acronyms. I’ve beaten Crawmerax, shot the crap out of Pete the Invincible, and done my fair share of OP8 Digistruct Peak runs. I’ve leveled almost every character to max at least once, and a couple twice (hello Gaige). You could say I like the franchise.

Now, with the upcoming release of Borderlands 3, my Borderlands hype levels have never been higher. With the upcoming physical release of Dark Matter, my 5E hype levels have ALSO never been higher. So, like rakk milk chocolate and skagnut butter, I thought I’d combine these two great tastes together into something that will hopefully taste great (and not give me turbo-salmonella, like the aforementioned skagnut butter)!

Over the next couple articles, I’d like to give you a few guides on how you can add a bit of Borderlands to your spacefaring 5e game.

Oh, and if it wasn’t clear, my prospective Vault Hunters, these rules are made to modify the weapons and gear available in our Dark Matter setting and in both the Complete Craftsman and Complete Gunslinger. Weapons made by these manufacturers gain new, unique weapon properties, of which a weapon can have only one. (Free firearm rules are found here.)

Manufacturers Warning: Implementing these changes into a 5e game may seem like it throws balance out the window. Just remember: what is good for the players is good for the bad guys.

Borderlands Gun Manufacturers

Central to the narrative of any game set in the 6 galaxies of the Borderlands universe are the weapons manufacturers that control the whole lot of them. More than simply companies, these manufacturers are unchecked capitalism taken to the logical extreme: massive, intergalactic corporations with their own private armies, citizenry, planets, and laws. Most have even more power than the local governments of the planets they operate on, to say nothing of the intergalactic government.

But whatever about that, here’s how they make your guns more awesome.

May 24, 2019

Feywild Geography | Into the Wilds

In this series, we'll be expanding on the work begun in our supplement of fairies and fariy tales, Fey Folio, by extending the world building, exploring additional mechanics, and fleshing out the Fey's fantastical world. Join us as we embark Into the Wilds.

I find writing this article without wholesale writing a map and diving into the worldbuilding neck-deep challenging. We've been carefully considering how to make the Feywild itself live up to its reputation of splendor, magic, and strangeness, and we've got some fun ideas.