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

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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

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

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”: 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

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

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

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