Showing posts from April, 2020

Dark Albion Session 1 Campaign Diary

Well, that escalated quickly. I had some hiccups getting things going in my Dark Albion game. Chiefly among the issues, about 5 players backed from playing the game within a few days of our starting night. It being an online game, I anticipated this. I recruited 8 players total. Since we only had 3 players actually play and Lion & Dragon is a lethal ass game, I told them to go ahead and run their back-up PCs. This left us with 2 Clerics: Agnes and William, 1 Fighter: Grace, 1 Magister: Roland, and 2 Thieves: Yorick and Leonard. Sir John Neville and his Magister, William the Elder, explained his plan to the party. They were to disguise themselves as monks returning to the abbey at Stamford Bridge, retrieve a cache of armor and weapons in the catacombs, wait until nightfall, then storm the manor to capture Lord Egremont and force his men to stand down. It went off without a hitch. By leaning into the Monk disguises and putting the "Clerics on official business" spin on it,

5e Monster: Aberrant Tapeworm

The Aberrant Tapeworm Generic, right? There really is no better way to describe this thing. It's nice and understated, fitting somewhere between somewhat ominous and extremely inconvenient. The Aberrant Tapeworm is a parasite. It's introduced to the host through undercooked meat when animals graze in corrupted fields, but you can change that to whatever. In my campaign, an Inquisitor ate a wild hog that ate some weeds in the field the Inquisitor murdered his wife. While typical tapeworms seek sustenance through absorbing nutrients, Aberrant Tapeworms multiply inside the host, introducing foreign agents into the bloodstream that induce rage and paranoia. People will observe worrisome mood changes in the afflicted, but will often be murdered by the host before having a full grasp on what's happening. As they grow and replicate (over 5-6 days), they maneuver to the brain and sieze control of the host's body. When this happens, they devour organs and use their inherent tele

Are You A Bad Cleric? Probably.

Clerics require more heavy lifting to get right from a role-playing perspective than any other traditional class in D&D. This is absolutely, unequivocally, objectively true. Why? Clerics do godly stuff. It's that simple. Fighters and Thieves are self explanatory. "How does magic work?" is commonly a very simple explanation that has little variances here and there between arcane classes, but ultimately is fairly straightforward (magic is accomplished through x, which you picked up by x). Druids are where things get a little more complicated (are you a Nature Priest or a Radagast type Wizard?). Clerics are where the real deep shit comes in. What Is My Knowledge Of My God? Has the Cleric ever been directly visited by their deity? Have they met a representative (messenger)? Does the deity have a doctrine or a moral code by which they expect their subjects to follow? Is any of this true, or is the deity just granting miracles mysteriously in spite of false doct

Dark Albion Game: The Battle at Stamford Bridge

Given that I'm fairly certain that none of my Dark Albion players read my blog, I think it's fairly harmless to make my GM prep available for everyone who might be interested. If you are one of my players, stop reading, you bastards. So Dark Albion is a low magic, quasi-historical Medieval England setting. While fantastical elements exist, it is nowhere near what you get with Dungeons and Dragons. I'm trying to present a rather mundane opening that will set the tone for a medieval romp. The adventure introduces the characters to a historical battle and allows them to take a pivotal position.  It features branching paths, much like a pointcrawl.  The party will deal with light on-site exploration, many opportunities to avert combat, and a few potentially disastrous situations that can be caused by poor planning. This is designed around level1 PCs, but it would work fine for level0s with some backup PCs. Stat blocks have been removed, but they're pulled from Lion & Dr

Malleable Magic, An Improvisational Magic System

PLAYTEST MATERIAL One of the more lamentable things I have faced in some moments when playing Dungeons & Dragons is the realization that magic is such a particular craft.  This was more understandable in early D&D, when Vancian Magic was king.  A wizard would spend hours memorizing this very particular spell that has a very particular effect when the spell is finally triggered. Experiencing Dungeon Crawl Classics and other systems in which "spell checks" must be made with varying levels of results was an eye opening experience.  Ever since, I have fallen in love with "risky magic."  Recently, I've wondered: what if we made this a process that was less based on tables with predetermined results, and more on some simple principles that govern magic? Malleable Magic is an attempt to use these governing principles to make magic a rules-light and highly intuitive process.  It makes it so that players can innovate, manipulating magical energy to se

My Upcoming Lion & Dragon Campaign

I have reached my limit. I can contain it no longer. I've been staring at it for months now, just licking my chops and praying for the day to come. No more. It's time for this to finally happen. I don't care if I'm running this son of a bitch for only 2 players. Daddy's been eating his vegetables running 5e D&D for over 2 years now. It's time for pie. Or steak. Or whatever it is I really want to be eating instead of 5e in this metaphor. Lion & Dragon has everything that I want in an RPG right now.  Between the core rulebook, the Dark Albion setting material, and the supplementary rules that offer tons of additional tools to enrich the "Medieval Authentic Role-playing" vibe, I can run a kick ass game that would've taken months of research, homebrewing, and preparation otherwise. So why am I writing this? I'm basically going to spread this to anyone interested in playing so that they have an idea of what I can offer. The pros

Adding Psychics to 5e

I've been utterly disappointed in Wizards of the Coasts' attempt to relegate psychic powers to subclasses. I understand why they're doing it. To put it simply, 5e is, much like 4e and 3e before it, designed around the concept that there should be balance between PCs of a given level. To tip the scales by adding more abilities for one PC while the other PCs are somewhat less equipped would feel unfair. So, by tying it to one's subclass, you're getting new flavorings that are more or less equivalent to what everyone else is getting. That's boring and uninspiring .  What if, truly in the vein of older editions of D&D, we added the potential for all PCs to have these abilities, but it's completely left to chance? This means that what you roll at character creation is MUCH more important. It means that you end up with a new dimension to add to your game. The rules will be familiar enough to be easily incorporated, but fresh enough to make their addition a sig

Why OSR?

If you've watched Critical Role or any of the other major Live Stream D&D Fifth Edition games, you gather a particular impression of what Dungeons and Dragons, at its core, is supposed to be.  Wizards of the Coast's marketing team spends plenty of time pushing this idea.  "Collaborative Storytelling" is what they call it.  "You tell stories together as a group, playing exotic characters in magical, fantastical worlds." It sounds accessible and highly appealing to many, but when you put the idea into practice, you're often left with disparate approaches to playing the game that are eternally in conflict. While there are often mixtures of each approach in any Tabletop Roleplaying Game group, players will often emphasize some more than others, causing the desire to branch off into separate groups or playing separate systems.  This is a natural impulse.  Part of Fifth Edition's overwhelming success is how it melds all three approaches together, fac

A Comedy of Errors - The State of My Current 5e Campaign

It began with the best of intentions. I knew more than one player in my area who clamored for a D&D experience that was nontraditional to say the least. My wife lamented how combat-oriented the games she and I had been involved in tended to be. So, in the manner of Toni Morrison's famous quote, ("If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it.") I said "Fuck it, let's make this happen." My newest player suggested that it would be interesting to run a campaign based around a troupe of traveling performers. I loved this idea! It sounded brilliant for an episodic, mostly social approach to the game. I started hastily constructing a setting that I thought would be fresh and interesting, something fitting for a high fantasy, high magic system like D&D 5e. My often low-fantasy oriented passions were greenlit for bizarre amalgamations of historical analogues and subgenre bending fantasy tropes.