I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare: my business is to create.

- William Blake

Sunday, June 28, 2020

New fighting styles for 5e: unarmed, grappling and versatile finesse

As I often say, D&D must have more than 500 "official" spells at this point, but not more than a dozen fighting styles in published books. I also say D&D is about magic (and magical combat) more than just combat, but few people seem to agree.

Anyway, fighting styles seem a bit weak and unbalanced to me. I've analysed them all here. But, since this design space exists, we might as well use it.

Here are a few fighting styles that might add more archetypes to the current fighter:

Unarmed Fighting: When you make an unarmed attack, you can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike.

Yes, this is from the monk. Other "minor" class features, such as "brutal critical", could easily be turned into fighting styles. Notice that they don't improve as much as the usual class features.

Grappling: You gain a +2 bonus when you make a grapple check or a check to escape a grapple.

Fighter grappling in 5e is somewhat lackluster, since the feat doesn't work and you cannot get expertise unelss you multi-class or take a special feat from Xanathar's. This small fighting style makes you a better grappler without being as powerful as a feat or expertise.

Finesse fightingWhile you wield a longsword, trident, or simple melee weapon that does't have the heavy property, it gains the finesse property.

This is just a way to allow Dexterous fighters to benefit form spears, longswords, and quarterstaves. Maybe I should exclude maces and axes.

"Finesse fighting" isn't a great name, just the first thing that came to mind.

Anyway, these are just a few examples on how new fighting styles could create a versatile fighter - and ranger, paladin, etc.


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Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Teratogenicon - the ultimate monster maker!

The ultimate monster maker is finally here!

TERATOGENICON - our most impressive book so far - is a collection of tables and essays on how to create your own monsters.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Rick Troula (of The Displaced fame). Take a look at the images below to see for yourself!

NOTE: There seems to be some issue with DTRPG's preview, making the index Table of Contents disappear. The PDF is fine, however, as you can see in the Quick Preview. Here is the ToC:

As you can see, Teratogenicon contains one chapter for each of the fourteen most famous monster types (aberrations, beasts, celestials, constructs, and so on). Each chapter examines specific habits, appearance, goals, traits, powers, origins, and many other topics. In addition, the appendixes will help you to create stats (for both old school and contemporary games), to roleplay monsters, and to include all monster types into a coherent whole, among other things.

The book is inspired by the most famous RPG in the world (in its current format and by its earlier "old school" version) but is mostly system-less. Use it as inspiration for ANY RPG of your choice, or even for your own stories, comic books, videogames, etc.

Print version: a print version is in our plans. However, it will likely take a long time due to current circumstances. If/When we make it available, we will send an email with a discount coupon to everyone who bought the digital version. If you want to receive this e-mail, make sure you're receiving e-mails from us, and change your settings if you aren't! Also, let us know if you need any help.

By the way, I've sent an e-mail to all our previous customers with a discount coupon - same for whoever is following our Facebook group. If you're a reader of this blog, I'd like to extend you the same courtesy. The coupon is good for 15 days:


Thursday, June 11, 2020

Metallic Tome KS (+ Rafael Chandler)

Here is the Kickstater campaign for "Metallic Tome: A Sourcebook for OSR Games":

If I were to list my favorite OSR modules, Rafael Chandler would certainly appear multiple times.

Here is my review of Obscene Serpent Religion. Also, check Pandemonio, Teratic Tome, Lusus Naturae... all his stuff, really. It's been a while since his last project, AFAICT, and I'll happy to see he is making something new.

I won't review all of these books, because Rafael was kind enough to make all his stuff pay-what-you-want, so I can just say: go get this stuff

And help fund the Metallic Tome so we can have more amazing works by Rafael as soon as possible. 

If Rafael's amazing writing skills are not enough to convince you, check the artists:

Cover art by Peter Mohrbacher, and interior art by Adi, Christianne Benedict, Claudia Cangini, Cliff Roth, Diogo Nogueira, Earl Geier, Gennifer Bone, Pavel Popov, and Will Towles.

I'm certainly getting this!

Saturday, June 06, 2020

REPLACING the cleric... for a LEADER?

Here are my original thoughts on the matter of OSR clerics.

In that post, I picture the cleric as an "anti-thief" without saying it clearly - and mentioned a "leader" character in the last paragraph.

Let's develop this further.

So, the thief has strong offense (many weapons, back-stab) but weak defense (light armor, low HP). The cleric is the opposite: fewer weapons, better armor, and (usually) more HP.

But that is not the only correspondence. Thieves are chaotic; clerics are lawful. The meaning of alignment changes a lot from edition to edition (see this post), so I will not dwell on that. suffice to say thieves are often depicted and more egotistical, with their own motives, while clerics are often more altruistic.

There is another important dichotomy here: thieves are lone wolves, clerics are team players.

Fighters and mages? Well, the best combination is having both of them: the fighter in the front-lines, the wizards as artillery.

But the thief-cleric dichotomy is different: thieves' abilities are GEARED TOWARDS GOING SOLO. For example,sneaking and hiding makes more sense when you're alone. Picking pockets is something you do on your own (in some games, the thief will even rob their own allies). If you fail, you fail on your own. Same for some (maybe most) small traps. And climbing.

Conversely, the cleric has abilities that HELP THE ENTIRE GROUP, and are often less useful for a single adventurer. Sure, the cleric could heal himself - if he is conscious - but cannot resurrect himself. Even turning undead is more useful when you have an ally with a bow (since the cleric cannot use one) that can shoot them from afar...

As always, this isn't clear-cut as it sounds, but it is relevant enough to mention.

So, in short, the cleric DOES have a specific role to play in the "classic four classes".

But again, as Delta says herethe armored, adventuring, miraculous man-of-Catholic-faith is simply not a type you see very much in the roots of the genre, if at all. 

There IS a type, however, of "team-player" character we can find in the roots of the genre. I'm thinking of Aragorn and King Arthur; the type whose greatest strength isn't prowess in arms, but inspiring and helping others to achieve common goals.

Notice that these "leaders" often have powers usually attributed to the cleric - healing, inspiration, end even undead-controlling stuff.

But that is not all. The "leader" position is infinitely more versatile and useful than the cleric position. Yes, priests can be leaders - but also aristocrats, warlords, politicians, teachers, etc. Maybe the class should have some "inspire masses" power, letting the rogue keep some mountebank-like qualities? Or have rogue schemers (like Wormtongue or Littlefinger) that can influence you one-on-one, but end up exposed in front of crowds? Makes sense to me.

Of course, these "leaders" would work well in low magic settings, sword and sorcery, settings without deities or miracles, etc.

In addition, the four basic classes are a great way to classify most monsters.

The leader, especially, is an interesting type of adversary: not that dangerous by itself, but able to inspire, strengthen, organize and control weaker allies.

By the way - this is one of the things 4e got right. But that's another story.

Further reading:
My original post.
Delta's post about clerics.
Interesting "anti-thief" post from JB.