Shadows of the Dusk Queen for 5th Edition

238224-thumb140

Publisher: Kobold Press
Pages: 36

Link: Shadows of the Dusk Queen
Includes a 12-page art and map appendix to speed play; heavily illustrated.

 

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

Before you is a dark forest with trees rising as much as a hundred feet into the air. Foreboding and sorrow seem to emanate from within. Occasionally, shadowy creatures are glimpsed moving among the trees. Slow, plaintive howls echo among the dark branches as a cool wind begins to blow as if whispering barely discernible words…

“She has returned. She has returned. She has returned.”

 

Shadows of the Dusk Queen is a 5th Edition adventure for 8th-level characters that take players deep into a forest out of a dark fairy tale, where a long-imprisoned fey queen has returned – and evil creatures are stirring.

Featuring full-color art by Brian Syme, Shadows of the Dusk Queen is great for groups who love dark fantasy adventure, or for GMs looking to shake things up by bringing a little fear to the table.

The whispers are getting louder. Do you dare take the forest path, and learn the secrets of the Dusk Queen?

 

How D&D Downtime Saved my Game Session

We have all been there come game day; one of your player’s posts to Facebook, or sends you a text, with the dreaded line.

Can’t make it today guys real life is getting in the way of the game.

Most of us still struggle on, trying to make the best of things when a player misses a game night. The desire to have a good time and play a game still exists, so it’s still game on! Then another domino falls, and you end up with more than one player unable to make the game. You begin to wonder, can we press on with two players out? Should we just make it a board game night and hope for better luck at the next game session?

I had to deal with this very scenario recently. Knowing my group in the game had just arrived in town, I decided to press on and focus on side plots and goings on in the city for the session. Bring the Unearthed Arcana (UA) Downtime rules to the table, as well as my setting’s Factions front and center for a game session. This allowed for my players to meet with each of the representative Faction leaders in their home city. With each meeting, I was able to sprinkle a few more story seeds as well as give the players a chance to roleplay and earn some coin with each of their factions. Additionally, one of my players purchased some property and the other player was able to check her property that she purchased the last time the players were in town. With only two players this still resulted in a shorter game, but none the less a productive one.

Now here is the thing; when it comes to downtime I use a whole lot more than just the D&D Downtime rules for my game’s downtime experience. It has taken some time to find the right elements to make downtime feel the way it does in my game. The result can be as simple as my players arrive in town, sell their things, and leave. Conversely, it can spill into a multi game session, if that is what the players want.

Knowing you are going to be curious about what I use at the table for my game’s downtime. Well let’s get into it, shall we.

darkeyethechainsofsatinav-001245

UA Downtime Rules

I pretty much love all 14 pages of this product, and I am very excited to see the polished version of it once we get the upcoming Xanathars’s Guide to everything. The rules provided here, along with complications and Foils, ramps up everything you do in town a notch.

For me, it was the glue that bound my downtime experience together. Before this UA, I always had work that my players could do, but this helped flesh the options out and bring it to a new level. If you have not looked at UA Downtime rules yet, and you are a DM that likes to have a city with things to do, other than being a place for the players to rest their heads between hobo murdering, you will find this useful.

Expanded Factions

The DMG, pages 21-23, brushes on Factions and how you can use them in your game. The examples of Renown’s benefits are pretty vague, but gives you an idea on how to use them. In addition to the suggestions of Perks and Downtime activities, I adopted a 5 Rank system for all of my world factions. Players at each Faction level can gain benefits for being faction members. Additionally, players can get loans or other items through Faction contacts. Players in my setting can be a member of as many factions as they wish, risking their Renown to rise or fall depending on their actions. Or worse if they are playing both sides of two factions against one and other.

207377Walrock-Homebrew  

The last pillar of my D&D downtime is found on Walrock’s Homebrew page now available on the DM Guild
{WH} Fortresses, Temples, & Strongholds, rules for building and customizing player-owned structures!
I have always loved that I have been graced with players that love to spend their hard earned gold on more than just magic items. With FT&S, my players can now invest in building on a much deeper level than I have allowed in the past.

Walrock the portion from the DMG 127&129 that talks about purchasing and running buildings in your game and cranked this info up to 11. I highly recommend giving this product a look.

 

How do I run downtime during normal games? 

 
With these three things combined, there is always plenty to do when my players hit the city between adventures. That said, I do not always use downtime in my game. If the players are on task and the adventure is moving along at a good pace, I ignore downtime and continue to keep track of how many “weeks” the players have been out of town in the case of shops and other establishments that the players may own.

If my players are returning to sell/purchase goods or are returning from quests, I like to use down time rules. This not only feels natural but gives the feeling of time passing for my players, with events happening in the world, that time is moving in town as well.

Best of all, if my players are in a spot where they can return to town at the end of a session, I now prefer it. If a player can not make it to an upcoming session, I can either have them occupied with stuff going on in the city or I can run downtime activities for the remainder of the party till the next game!

Far too often, DM’s succeeds in making the world around the players feel like it is vibrant and alive, yet the players return to find their hometown in a state of Stasis. The city can feel like an afterthought. With Downtime, complications, and Foils, life is given to the city. Roll in FT&S content and now the players will become invested in these locations and cities.

Finally, one of the reasons why I love developing my Factions is because there is an added element where players can feel part of a Greater Plan. I much prefer this these days than in years past the adventuring guilds that I use to use.

Well, I hope you all enjoyed this read. Please feel free to share your thoughts or ask questions.  See you all next time!

Setting the Scene, Tournament Session!

Setting a good scene can be one of the more rewarding parts of running a good game. Ask yourself how often do you recall great encounters your players have been in but you can not recall where those encounters have been set? A good scene location can lay the foundation of a great encounter. A Tourney can further that and provide us with the foundation for several great Scenes!

Not only can a tournament event be set as a backdrop for your adventure but you can bring it to the forefront and make it the center of one or several game sessions. There were several types of tournaments that were held In medieval times and all were held over the period of several days of celebration and feasting.

The advantages of running a tournament were many. Chiefly among them was the notoriety and power it could bring to a region. Tourneys brought nobility to one location. If it’s a large enough tourney lords from far off kingdoms may even make an appearance. Giving your players a fun opportunity to meet and role play with nobility on potently neutral ground and possibility make contacts allies or even have to opportunity for travel to distant locations later in your campaign. But if you are going to have a Tournaments in your game you are going to need some events for everyone to participate in. The goal of each will be brief so that they do not bog down your game but add to it.

If you are going to have a Tournaments in your game you are going to need some events and Scenes for everyone to participate in. Here are a few ideas of events you could run during a tourney for your players. Or you can make up some of your own.

Melee:
1250x814_10223_Knight_Fight_2d_fantasy_knights_fight_picture_image_digital_artRunning a Historical Melee would be a mess to run at the game table. Why you ask? Well basically because the Melee was a mass combat with the goal of capturing your opponent’s men for ransom. Each side would face one and other mounted and armed with lances. They would charge into the center and then wheel around and make a second pass or single out downed opponents to capture. The Melee could take place on an open field or stretch over several miles of area. In game terms, it is nothing less than a small-scale mock war.

So if I were to run Melee I would instead turn to movies like A Knights Tale, First Knight, and Excalibur. A test of the master of the sword. One on one combat with blunted weapons as a test of skills. Thus keeping everyone involved alive yet proving themselves in a test of combat. The first competitor to five successful strikes is the victor. All combatants are expressly forbidden to use magic arms or armor. And no spells of buffs allowed during the contest.

This is a contest of skill, not a test of magical resources. Run a melee tourney event just like a standard melee combat. Each competitor may take as many attacks as they have per turn as per a normal combat. Whichever combatant strikes more blows in a melee round gets a point for that round. The winner of the round is announced to the crowd and the next round begins. If after five rounds there is a tie the combatants move on to sudden death. Where each blow landed counts as a point. This continues until there is a winner in one round.

Rules for the Melee:
Each Round Lasts 5 rounds of combat (roughly 30-second rounds)
Track all hits on your opponent for scoring.
The highest number of hits wins the round.
Repeat for three rounds to determine the victor.
If tied continue until there is a victor of one round.

The Joust: 
10886_1222833600The Joust is as old as the Tournament itself yet the melee was the preferred event in the beginning And for a time it was occasionally banned from some events that held Melee due to the exhausting nature of the Joust would leave warriors at a disadvantage when the Melee event would begin. Over the years the Joust became the more popular event.
The concept is simple two horsemen with lances meet on the field of battle known as the Lists. The two ride at each other from opposite ends of the field. The goal was not always the same. Some Jousts the goal was to unseat your opponent from his horse and others was to shatter your lance on your foe’s body.  And the popularized movie version of both shatter and unhorsing your foe.

Conducting the Joust

All combatants are expressly forbidden to use magic arms or armor. And no spells of buffs allowed during the contest. 
At the signal (usually a trumpet charge), the opponents ride at each other, carrying only a lance and a shield, (make a ride check higher roll attacks first (simultaneous on tie).You may use three lance’s in each jousting match.

Scoring
You receive one point for breaking your lance on your opponent’s chest.
You receive two points for breaking your lance on your opponent’s helmet.
You receive three points for knocking your opponent off from his horse.
An “unhorsing” ends the match.
Once your three lances have shattered, the jousting match is over.
If you do not break your lance, it is considered a glancing blow and does not count for points, unless you manage to unhorse your opponent in that charge.

Game Rules Note:
All attacks that hit strike your opponent’s Chest.
All attacks that crit are strikes to your opponent’s Head
Any attack that strikes and deals damage results in a ride check DC=10+1/2 Damage
Lances break on a roll of 1 or missing your targets AC by 5 or more.
Archery contests.
Three rounds of three shots much like darts.
Hit strikes outer ring.  Scoring 1 Points
17 hits blue ring              Scoring 2 Points
18 hits red ring                Scoring 3 Points
19 hits yellow ring         Scoring  4 Points
20 hits Bullseye               Scoring 5 Points

Hunting and Falconry.
These tests of skill and training can be conducted with a series of Skill checks. Each day the hunters roll a survival check to see how much food they are able to provide for the nightly feast. On the last day, the huntsman who provided the most is awarded the title of Grand Master of the Hunt until next tourney.

NOTE: Any of these events can still be used as backdrops for Roleplaying scene if your players have no interest in taking part. Anything from Gambling to assassination might be taking place under the cover of the cheer of the crowds.

Other Tourney events! 

Feast
filename-50-jpg-thumbnail0As important a part of any great tourney is the nightlife! Great feasts on an epic scale of decadence. Entertainment from around the realms. This is the prefect time for your not combat players to get involved in what they do the best.
Bards and Rouges can ply their trade among the crowds while the warriors of the day recover from their bruised bodies and egos from the day’s events.  Wine and Ale flow and stories of adventure are shared. The opportunity to make a powerful ally or enemy might just hang on a simple word. So tread wisely and enjoy tournament session.

Song & Dance
When the sun goes down and feast ends then the revelry begins. The backdrop makes a perfect setting for your players to come face to face with foes in an environment where combat is likely the absolute last course of action that they can take. It also sets a great stage for overt diplomacy or back room dealings. These kinds of scenes can enrich your game and if the right deals are struck. Maybe even have long lasting repercussions in your game world if things go poorly.

Ceremonies:
Let’s not forget all of the ceremonies that we can use have. Maybe your players are going to be given Land or title. Why just handwave this, a tourney with a ceremony presenting the players with their lands grants or title is the perfect time to lay in some politics for your group. This can also be a good scene for awarding and acknowledging any players that did well in the tourney events.

Have you run Tourney in any of your games? Would you run aTournamentt now ? Are there some other events that you think I should add to the list here? I welcome your thoughts!

Homebrew Feature: Druid Circle of Life

Today’s Feature subclass is the homebrew Circle of Life Druid by PrometheusDarko. I am a sucker for alternative healer variations other than just the straight up cleric. Additionally, I have always thought the Druid is an excellent option for a cleric alternatively all be it slightly weaker. This class keeps the class balance yet nicely ups effectiveness of a Druid healer build.

tumblr_o7u1pvmapn1ukgbqco1_1280

Circle of Life Druid by PrometheusDarko

 

I think Natural Ballance is a creative way to add a paladin style lay on hands with a nice limiter so that it does not feel better than the ability it is based on. The Gift of Life feature I like a long as well. It is not game breaking in any way as well as it could easily be implmented as part of a total party wipe bailout. Nice clutch utility spell.

Ie. Cleric pops up Druid with Revivify, Druid gets then brings up two more downed players with the use of his Gift of Life.

Lastly, the Form of Ehlonna is just cool as well who would not want to be a Unicorn ! Yet again with the balancing factor that you can not inflict any damage while in this form.

So the Circle of Life Druid subclass has been welcomed into my homebrew PHB for my gamers to use. I look forward to seeing one at my table.

#RPGaDay2016 Day 12: What Game is your group most likely to play next? Why?

rpgaday2016

My group is ramping up to put the finishing touches on our 5E Out of the Abyss game in the next few months. After that game comes to a close it is looking solidly like we will be heading right back into another 5E D&D game set in my personal Homebrew world. The story that we will be undertaking in my personal setting is yet to be determined. So more on that another time.

So why 5E D&D and would I chose any other system ? Well, predominantly the overall favorite system for fantasy settings in our group of players is the still raining king Dungeons and Dragons. This still holds true with 5E, with only a brief delve into Pathfinder our group has for the most part just been hardcore D&D.

If I were to pick any other setting to run my game in I think it would be FATE, using the Freeport ruleset book as a template. I ran a very, very brief 3 sessions of my homebrew setting with the FATE Freeport ruleset and I simply loved it. It had an incredible old school feeling.

I also would say I would love to give a Cypher System fantasy game a try as well. I love the speed and simplicity of the GM’s workload in the Cypher System and the beauty of variety that the character creation and class system that the Cypher System has.

So there you have it. What systems are on your list of likely games that you and your players are going to get on the table soon ?

My Homebrew Three: Race Lupa

Today’s update race for my homebrew setting is the Lupa. Formerly know as the Canis. I have kept the Canis but the are now a subrace of Lupa. Overall this one was a tough one to put together. A lot of thought went into how many subraces I would do. One of the issues with making a Canine race was the concern that there are so many “Breeds” of Canine that it could have gone on forever with a plethora of subraces if I had chosen to go wild.

In the end, I chose to focus on two subraces. The name Lupa replaced Canis because I honestly was not a fan of the name even after all these years. I needed to keep some aspect of the name around so I decided to make Canis one of the two subraces.

I once again had to address the issue I had done years earlier and remove the Canis and Badgen hatred. Where with the Badgen it was a fairly simple task I found that with the former Canis.. It was a tremendous part of their background. Between that and the attachment to the Canis nation that I wanted to pull out as well so they felt more worldly. I pretty much had to start from scratch with this one again.

Just about all I had left at one point was the Canis hate for lycanthropes and gnolls. So I did some research and looked up the “Lupin” from back in 3.5 D&D. They were Featured in the Dragon Mag. I found some interesting parallels’s between the two and I added them here and there into my new write up. Honestly, I normally would not do this.. but It saved me time and it’s not like I am going to post this for money. So I paid homage to some of the write-up and went with it.

So the Canis were the second of my exotic races that I created nearly 20 years ago. I wanted to make a race in the game setting would be more advanced than some of the rest of the world and not be a standard race. So the Canis was born, inspired from the Roman Dog Soldier. They were the backbone of the Canis Empire also a Roman style nation. They were far more advanced then the rest of the world having the beginnings of steam power as well as gunpowder.

They were also kind of my villains. According to my world, they had chased the Badgen from their homes and were at war with them. Many of the Gnome lands had been conquered and the Canis had them cranking out tinker creations for the Canis armies. Halflings as well fled the part of the world to get away from the Canis’s might.

Fun fact…
Before I made my own race and named them Canis. I nearly did not make a unique race and just went with Gnolls. Hobgoblins likely would have worked well also. Instead, I decided to make my own race and have them hate both Gnolls for being Primitive Savages. As well as Lycanthropes because they were easily confused for them.

 

Lupa Final-page-001

#RPGaDay2015 Day 30 Favorite RPG playing Celebrity Vin Diesel

RPG a day 2015 - Twitter

I know there are many people that would say Wil Wheaton, and  he is a great choice. I on other hand am going to go with Vin Diesel. He has not done as much for RPG’s as Wil but he has championed the role of it does not mater what you look like you can play RPG’s. When you see him talk about the subject he lights up, You can tell what a passion it is for him. And now hes about to do the last witch hunter movie. When your favorite PC you ever played was a Witch hunter. How could would it be to play one in your next movie !