The Legend of Zelda is a Megadungeon

Want to know a secret? I actually kind of hate megadungeons. In theory, they should be great, right? It’s an opportunity to explore a vast superstructure, discover interesting puzzles, enemies, and magic items, and overcome ever-greater odds as you delve deeper and deeper into the dungeon. In practice, however, it feels much more like tedium. You go room by room, clearing them of threats until you clear the whole floor, then go to the next one and do the same all over again. In truth, it’s not the megadungeon that I hate, it’s the standard structure of megadungeons that I hate.

I much prefer something like The Legend of Zelda in my megadungeons.

“What’s that,” you say? “The Legend of Zelda games are open-world exploration games, not megadungeons. They might contain various dungeons within them, but they themselves are not, in fact, megadungeons.”

Oh, dear readers, that is where you are wrong. Continue reading “The Legend of Zelda is a Megadungeon”

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[UPDATED!] Return of the Ranger: Alpha Version 2.2

UPDATE!: Due to feedback given by valuable readers (which can be viewed below, in the Comments section), I have made minor adjustments to the class, updating it to version 2.2. I added the Adrenaline Surge feature at 6th level, in order to grand added survivability, and replaced the Nature’s Ward feature of the Seeker path with the more expansive Spirit Guide.

So, finally, I have a Ranger Alpha which I am comfortable handing over to you. Because, let’s be real, guys. The last alpha was a bit of a mess. It was rushed and sloppy: a product of my own attempt at biting off WAY more than I could chew. The various features which were designed to make use of the Bonus Action mechanic in 5e actually just created a major limiting factor for the class: it had a lot of cool shit to do, but not enough actions to do it all. I’ve mitigated that by getting away from the original “bonus action playground” mentality of version 1.0. Instead, I’ve gone with more of a streamlined approach, primarily focusing around triggered abilities and passive benefits.

I’ve also distanced myself, thematically, from the “wandering mystic” version of version 1.0, and have focused instead on a more general survivalist idea. And I played with the concept of the ranger being more of a warrior than it was before, specifically focusing on skirmishing tactics.

The good news of is that this is a decidedly better version of the ranger than the last version I put out (and, if I’m being bold, I would say that it’s better than the core class).

The bad news is that what I’m presenting here is only a 6 level build. It’s small because I’m working my way up. I have a general layout for a full 20-level build, but I’m not sure how all of the pieces fit together (and my recent attempt at building and playing a level 11 version for playtesting resulted in kind of an overload of features, so things are still very much in flux).

I’m not going to go point-by-point with this version of the ranger. I have a few design notes, but nothing significant.

Why Six Levels?

I decided on six levels, rather than five or ten, because I wanted to give enough for a ranger that’s just starting out, but also allow you to play the low-level ranger to its fullest potential. In order to do that, it needs to have its Strider feature, which allows it to maneuver through difficult terrain. And that comes at level 6. And, besides that, if I only included 5 levels, then you’d really only be getting 3 levels of content, since levels 4 and 5 are taken up by an Ability Score Increase and Extra Attack respectively, and those features are a dime-a-dozen.

You can download a PDF copy of my new ranger playtest here: The Ranger: Alpha v2.2

Continue reading “[UPDATED!] Return of the Ranger: Alpha Version 2.2”

Treasure Type Z: Armored General Archetype

GilliamThis week, we continue our exploration of Fire Emblem subclasses by introducing the Armored General. This is a version of the General class from Fire Emblem. However, the term “general” in a standard fantasy system is generally more of a leader, marshal, or warlord, which is NOT the point of this subclass.

The point of this subclass is to be a defensive bulwark. They are nearly impenetrable, heavily armored badasses that, just like the swordmaster, are probably 100% overpowered. But, again, I’m kind of okay with it. This is about delivering the spirit of the class, rather than something that’s viable for Adventurer’s League play.

Anyway, onto the Armored General. Continue reading “Treasure Type Z: Armored General Archetype”

Dungeon Master’s Guild Review: The Swordmage

I chose the Swordmage as my first DM’s Guild review for a reason: these kinds of spellsword classes have always had a special place in my heart and in my games. Going way back to the Eldritch Knight of 3rd Edition, I was consistently enamored with these kinds of classes, and sought them out wherever I could. Bladesingers, Rune Knights, Spell Swords, Abjurant Champions, Daggerspell Mages, Duskblades, and even the blade magic of the Tome of Battle enraptured my early D&D years. My friends and I even tried to create our own class: the Arcane Swordsman (the original idea must be credited to a friend whose name I won’t reveal without permission, but you know who you are). And once I moved from D&D to Pathfinder, that love followed me. Whether it was the divine Inquisitor or eventually the Magus, I definitely have a type.

Except the Spellrager. I have an inherent and irrational dislike for the Spellrager.

So, of course, when I saw the Swordmage on the Dungeon Master’s Guild, I had to have it. It’s unfortunate that the class is so…underwhelming. Continue reading “Dungeon Master’s Guild Review: The Swordmage”

Treasure Type Z: Swordmaster Archetype

I really enjoy the Fire Emblem series of games. I have ever since I was a kid and I first played Sacred Stones on the Game Boy Advance.Lucia_Artwork_(FE10)

My favorite class in the games has always been the Swordmaster. I always loved their speed and penchant for critical hits. So, in honor of the new Fire Emblem: Fates, which I’ve been playing for the past couple of weeks, I decided to take a crack at making a Swordmaster martial archetype for the Fighter.

It’s pretty basic, and probably 100% overpowered. But I don’t really care, because I think I captured the magic of the Fire Emblem class. Go ahead, test it out and have a good time.

Continue reading “Treasure Type Z: Swordmaster Archetype”

Monstrous Monday: Spellcasters Without Spells

I’ve decided, recently, that all spellcaster NPCs and monsters I design, from now on, will no longer actually use spells. I have a rant planned on why that is, but suffice it to say for the moment that it’s much easier to design NPCs when you use customized abilities, rather than pre-packaged spells. Continue reading “Monstrous Monday: Spellcasters Without Spells”

Fury Road and Factions in RPGs

Pop Quiz! Name as many factions in Mad Max: Fury Road as you can.

Can you name any? If you’ve seen the movie as many times as I have, then you probably can. However, if you’ve only seen it once or twice, then I seriously doubt it. However, let’s amend that pop quiz a bit.

Describe as many of the factions in Mad Max: Fury Road as you can.

I bet you did better that time. There’s a reason for that. It’s because each faction in Fury Road has a certain number of narratively distinct traits or visually iconic images that define them as a member of their faction. Fury Road does an excellent job of this (though not necessarily perfect), and is a perfect example of how to create narratively distinct factions within a world, which is something that I find is unfortunately lost in many games and RPGs, whether it be D&D or otherwise. Continue reading “Fury Road and Factions in RPGs”

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