Monstrous Monday: Armored Arachnid, Gohma

I promised a boss monster last week, and I plan to deliver! That’s why I’m giving you guys the mother of arachnids, Gohma! That’s right, this little lady right here.

Queen-gohma-Ocarina-of-Time-by_sulamoon

Continue reading “Monstrous Monday: Armored Arachnid, Gohma”

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Monstrous Monday: The Dodongo

And finally, we reach the dodongo! The big challenge with this one was to create a monster with a weak point: the dodongo’s tail. The inherent problem with this is that standard D&D doesn’t have facing rules. Therefore, “getting behind” the dodongo in order to attack it is superfluous. Instead, I decided to add a trait called “weak point,” allowing the player to bypass the dodongo’s damage resistance by suffering disadvantage on their attack roll. Simple, and appropriate.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not problematic. Continue reading “Monstrous Monday: The Dodongo”

Why D&D Needs Zendikar

So…the big announcement from the folks over at the D&D offices was the release of the free setting Zendikar. Now, many people heard the word “Zendikar” and thought, “what the hell is that?” I was included in that number. However, the moment I clicked on literally ANY link or article, I understood. Zendikar is one of the many planes native to Magic: The Gathering.

“Ah…” I said to myself, now understanding the gravity of this announcement. “Took you bastards long enough.” Continue reading “Why D&D Needs Zendikar”

Monstrous Monday: Night of the Living Redead

This whole “Design Zelda Monsters” thing is proving to be an interesting experience. See, as similar as many video games and tabletop games are, there are still inherent differences in the way we treat tactics and tone within games. In a video game, tone is often established by visuals and sound. At the table, we have a very different view of the world. If we see it at all, it’s usually from a god’s-eye perspective. We invent a lot of what we see in our own minds. Similarly, tactics are often very different in a video game where you’re dealing with active, mobile characters rather than turn-based tactical movement.

Therefore, when designing a monster like the redead from Zelda, I had an interesting task ahead of me. I had to create a monster that functioned mechanically like the redead. But I also had to create something that felt like a redead. I wanted to give the players the creep-factor of simply seeing it standing in a tomb, unmoving. But I also wanted to establish the shock when it screams and freezes you in place, and the slow horror as it approaches. Continue reading “Monstrous Monday: Night of the Living Redead”

Monstrous “Monday”: Deku Baba

And, finally, Monstrous Monday is back! …On a Wednesday! I know I took a bit of an unplanned break for a couple weeks, and I apologize. I should really be holding myself to a better standard. But now I’m back, and I’m here to tell you about one of my favorite monsters in Legend of Zelda. The Deku Baba! Continue reading “Monstrous “Monday”: Deku Baba”

It’s Time to Talk About Superiority Dice

I decided not to review the new Unearthed Arcana. It’s fine, and while it’s more beefy than a few prior versions (the tiefling document, in particular), it’s still a bit scant, and definitely skews toward player options, which is something I’d like to see them get away from with these documents. Especially since they’re only coming out with 6 each year, now.

One thing did strike me, though, while I was reading it (LINK so that you can follow along). The Monster Hunter archetype for the fighter, like the Scout and Cavalier that came out earlier this year in their Kits of Old document (LINK), uses superiority dice in a very unique way to help shape the flavor of the class and offering a variety of options linked through this one system.

I liked this idea back in the Kits of Old doc, and I like it here. However, there are some issues that I would like to discuss regarding the way these superiority dice are being used. What makes superiority dice great (and they really are great), and what parts could really be improved? Continue reading “It’s Time to Talk About Superiority Dice”

Dungeon Master’s Guild Review: Backgrounds, Vol. 1

Full Disclosure: Shamus Williams, author of this product, asked me to review it.

This product is an interesting opportunity for me, as a reviewer/critic/whatever. When I review a class, archetype, or subsystem, I have a lot of crunchy bits to talk about. So much, in fact, that I think I went a little overboard last time, with the Swordmage. I left basically nothing to the imagination.

With this one…if I talk about the crunchy bits, there’s really not much for people to spend money on. Therefore, I’m going to have to be a bit more careful with my wording on this review.

Before we begin, here’s a link to the document in question:

BACKGROUNDS, VOL. 1, BY SHAMUS WILLIAMS

Continue reading “Dungeon Master’s Guild Review: Backgrounds, Vol. 1”

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”

[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”

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