All posts by Rodney

Game designer, writer, and programmer at Rising Phoenix Games. Follow me on Twitter: RisingPhoenixGM.

Ocean Adventures in D&D, Part 3 – Sea Monsters

The Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual all provide great resources for undersea or ocean-based D&D campaigns. We’ve offered you an Undersea Guide to the Player’s Handbook and an Undersea Guide to the Dungeons Master’s Guide. Today we’ll be talking sea monsters with the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual.

rpg blog carnival logo

This week’s post is part of the RPG Blog Carnival. This month the carnival is hosted by NukeTown.com, and the theme is “All These Worlds.” Be sure to check them out and see what others have shared on the topic.

The Monster Manual is full of useful creatures for your undersea campaign, and the easiest way to access these is to refer to appendix B in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, which lists coastal and underwater monsters. Below is a list of suggestions for expanding on those lists.

Sea monsters
Image credits: Laura College

Aquatic and Amphibious Variants

Many creatures can become sea monsters by giving them the ability to breathe underwater and a swim speed. Twig blights could become seaweed blights, while you could replace a frost giant’s greataxe with a trident and call it a sea giant. Be careful with some monster abilities though, an ocean basilisk could pose a real problem for characters who can’t breathe underwater.

Undead Creatures

Most undead creatures can survive underwater, without any modification. Adding a swim speed is usually all that’s needed to make them effective threats. Ethereal undead, such as ghosts, can use their fly speed instead of a swimming speed, making them difficult to escape.



Constructs

Similar to the undead, constructs don’t need to breathe, so giving them a swimming speed is usually enough to make them useful. A homunculus might have a swimming tail instead of wings, while golems might be formed like sharks or dolphins, giving them a swimming speed and a reduced base speed. You can also replace some golem abilities with ones from other sea monsters; like giving a flesh golem tentacle attacks to replace its slam attacks.

Common sense if your greatest ally here — a stone golem is more likely to sink than swim.

Sea monsters
Image credits: Jonas Allert

When it comes to sea monsters, a little creativity goes a long way, and the Monster Manual serves as an excellent starting point for populating your campaign world.

What’s Next?

What would you like us to cover for your undersea campaign next? Let us know in the comments below.

We recently asked about trinkets in your D&D game, and we’d love to hear your ideas, especially if you’ve got some ocean themed ones.

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Undersea Adventures in D&D, Part 2

The Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual all provide great resources for undersea or ocean-based D&D campaigns. Last week we offered an Undersea Guide to the Player’s Handbook. Today I’ll run through the Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide to help you dive into your undersea adventures.

undersea adventures
Photo credit: Sagar

Undersea Fantasy

The Flavors of Fantasy section in chapter 1 includes a short coverage on swashbuckling fantasy, which offers some inspiration. An undersea campaign might just as likely contain elements of dark fantasy, sword and sorcery, or epic fantasy too.

Undersea fantasy might focus on the otherworldly aspect of the ocean, giving special attention to the wonders of this new world, or emphasizing the alienness of the sights and creatures found there. The sea has a clearly defined border, and crossing this threshold for the first time is almost always a significant event. On top of that, many things we take for granted are not readily available or don’t work in the deep, such as fire, paper, ink, drinkable water, or air. Gravity is less pronounced, and capable swimmers can move in three dimensions, much like flying creatures can do above the waves. Take these aspects into account when building your own undersea campaign.

Planes

The Plane of Water section in chapter 2 describes the elemental plane of the same name, which offers an excellent setting for your campaign as well as inspiration for one set on the Material Plane.

undersea adventures
Photo credit: Nsey Benajah

Adventure Environments

Chapter 5 contains a wealth of information that can be applied to undersea adventures with a little work. The Underwater section is particularly noteworthy and includes a table of random undersea encounters, expanded swimming rules, and rules for underwater visibility. The Sea section includes rules for navigation, weather at sea, visibility, and owning a ship, along with a table of random encounters at sea and statistics for airborne and waterborne vehicles.



Magical Items

Notable magical items include the apparatus of Kwalish, cap of water breathing, cloak of the manta ray, folding boat, gloves of swimming and climbing, mariner’s armor, necklace of adaptation, potion of water breathing, swan boat feather token, ring of swimming, ring of warmth, ring of water walking, and trident of fish command.

The sentient weapon, Wave, makes a great template for a similar trident in your campaign.

undersea adventures
Photo credits: Irina Kostenich

Monster Lists

Appendix B provides a coastal monsters list and one for underwater monsters.

Maps

Appendix C has a map of a ship including the deck and a level below.

Next week we’ll look at the Monster Manual as we continue to build our ocean campaign for undersea adventures.

 

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Underwater Adventures in Dungeons & Dragons

The Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual all provide great resources for underwater or ocean-based D&D campaigns. Today I’ll run through the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook to help you dive into your underwater adventures.

underwater adventures
Photo credit: Ryan Loughlin

Classes

Many of the classes presented in the Player’s Handbook can be customized to suit an ocean campaign. Druids can choose creatures with a swimming speed for their wild shape ability from 4th level, while rangers can choose appropriate animal companions to suit to underwater adventures.

Backgrounds

The following backgrounds work well for an ocean campaign:

Acolyte. Many of the deities of the Forgotten Realms are worshiped in their ocean aspect by seafarers and fisherfolk or given offerings in hopes of a safe sea voyage. A character with the acolyte background may have served in a seaside temple or as a ship’s chaplain. Amphibious characters might tend to the needs of an underwater community or maintain sunken temples and shrines to ocean deities.

Criminal. A character with the criminal background might be a pirate or an escapee from a prison ship. Many criminals find their way into shipping ports, in the hopes of finding a ship to take them to wealthy cities. Amphibious characters are much like their land going counterparts.

Guild Artisan. A character with the guild artisan background might be a cartographer, a shipwright, or a traveling artisan from a port city or island town. Guild merchants are particularly common in port cities and aboard ships. Amphibious guild artisans might be jewelers working in pearl and shell, coral carvers, leatherworkers, skinners, or scrimshaw carvers, besides a host of other occupations.

Hermit. Hermits can be found inhabiting ocean caves, beachcombing along coastlines, and on remote islands. Some hermits are castaways who’ve come to enjoy their life away from the stresses of society.

Outlander. A character with the outlander background might be a fisherman, a pearl diver, a seafarer, or even a pirate with a love of adventure.

Sailor. Both the sailor and the pirate variant backgrounds are excellent options for an ocean campaign.

Equipment

The Mounts and Vehicles section of the Equipment chapter includes a list of waterborne vehicles. The Services section lists a ship’s passage as costing 1 sp per mile.

Abilities

Strength (Athletics) checks are used for swimming in stormy seas or raging rivers, or if you’re struggling with a creature while in the water.

Adventuring

The Special Types of Movement section covers swimming, while The Environment section covers suffocating, vision and light, and food and water. The sun’s light only penetrates so deep below the water, and ocean water is undrinkable, meaning that characters must find a source of fresh water or rely on magical means for survival.



Spells

Alter self, create or destroy water, any spells that create light (light and daylight), water breathing, and water walk are particularly useful spells for underwater adventures.

Many spells have uses that might not be obviously apparent at first, such as using forcecage to create an air bubble. Rope trick, because of the opening it creates being at the bottom of the space, creates a very functional refuge that won’t flood.

Spells that often see use in a land-based campaign might be less useful in a water-based campaign, while spells like fireball might have little effect underwater, but can be devastating if hurled at a wooden ship.

Creatures

Appendix D contains a number of fitting creatures for your sea campaign:

Consider the constrictor snake (which could double as an eel with a faster swimming speed), crocodile (saltwater crocodiles can use the same statistics), poisonous snake (with water breathing for sea snakes), and the reef shark.

Skeletons and zombies might be drowned sailors, cursed pirates, or undead merfolk (with the addition of a swim speed).

Next week we’ll look at the Dungeon Master’s Guide as we continue to build our ocean campaign for underwater adventures.

underwater adventures
Photo credit: Sagar

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Age of Sigmar Makes Fantasy Wargaming Sexy

Age of Sigmar has flipped my perception of fantasy wargaming. But why is this much-hated line worth a look?

Age of Sigmar
This guy’s 20 years old, but I can still find rules for him for Age of Sigmar.

You don’t have to go far to find evidence of the squig’s nest Games Workshop stirred up when they killed off the Old World of Warhammer. Many fans still begrudge the fact that their much-beloved game and setting was taken away from them.

Except that it wasn’t.

There’s nothing stopping you from playing by the old rules, or reading novels set in the “World That Was.” There are plenty of recent product that celebrate the depth of Games Workshop’s epic body of fantasy work too, such as the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Fourth Edition Rulebook and Total War Warhammer (or Total Warhammer).

Enough Chatter! You Used the Word “Sexy”

Yes, I did. And it’s not just a thinly-veiled attempt at attracting readers. Age of Sigmar is a very sexy game. But let me break down what I mean by that.

Warhammer, Age of Sigmar has made it easier than ever to get into tabletop fantasy wargaming. The game’s rules are free online, you don’t need a ton of miniatures to play, and, if you’re casual enough about it, you can use your existing fantasy miniature collection to play.

 Are you painting enough RPG minis?

So, for someone like me who has always been on the fence about getting into fantasy wargaming, because of the cost and the painting involved, Age of Sigmar offers the perfect solution.

And sure, what works for me doesn’t work for many of my friends who’ve had their armies sidelined. I do think that Games Workshop has gone to some lengths to ease old Warhammer players into the new game, but that isn’t enough for everyone. I get that.

But games change, and the Age of Sigmar ruleset seems both streamlined and familiar to me, coming from Warhammer 40k. I doubt Age of Sigmar could be what it is if Warhammer Fantasy was still around.

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Are You Painting Enough RPG Minis?

There’s something great about playing with miniatures you’ve painted yourself. Even if you’re more a “theater of the mind” type GM, having a few miniatures on hand is useful. But are you painting enough of them?

Storytime folks (or a thinly veiled reminiscing, really).

My Life with Minis

I got into Warhammer 40K about twenty years ago. That led me to Warhammer Fantasy Role-Playing, which was when I first bought a box of beastmen and a paint set. I painted up one of the beastmen and the chaos warrior that came with the paints, but most of my roleplaying was with grey plastic.

Painting RPG Miniatures
The first miniature I ever painted is a testament to suckage.

Over the next twenty years I bought odd miniatures to supplement my game: some hobbits, an elf, the nine companions from The Lord of the Rings, and some figures I found at second-hand stores. If I did paint any of them, they remained unfinished. Most are still grey metal or plastic.

Painting RPG Miniatures
My chaos warrior, the second mini I ever painted. This week I gave him a black wash and varnish. It really improved the old paint job.

Then came pre-painted, blind-box miniatures. I bought loads of the Dungeons & Dragons miniatures, and have nearly completed the War Drums set, with 9 rares left to go. Now I didn’t need to paint, I could just throw miniatures on the table.

Then a friend and I got into the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Boardgames, and started painting up minis from the boxes. When I moved back home from living in Japan I discovered that my paint set, now two decades old, was still good, and kept going. Suddenly, the bug had bitten, and I was hooked.

Getting into the Mind for Minis

What changed? I figure it’s a mental switch that made the difference. Now, when I paint RPG miniatures, I have a few tenants I follow:

  1. Painted, even badly painted, is better than grey plastic.
  2. Simple paint jobs are perfect for gaming.
  3. Start it and finish it, then move on.
  4. Keep it cheap.
  5. Try new things, but not all things at once.

I reckon that most of us have mountains of unpainted minis because we get discouraged at some point. We know our minis won’t be Pinterest worthy, or that it’ll take too long to finish a figure, or we’re just not excited about what we’re painting anymore.

For me, having to fork out money for two pots of grey paint kept me from finishing my gargoyles. When I figured I could mix acrylic paints I had around the house there were no excuses left — and I was done in half an hour. It was a really silly thing, but I saw a roadblock and let it derail me.

Painting RPG Miniatures
This guy just needed an undercoat, two shades of grey, and a good flocking to get him ready for the gaming table.

Point 5 touches on something that can also discourage you, especially if you’re new to painting. It’s tempting to want to try every new technique you’ve learned, or to play it safe and only use techniques you’ve mastered. Trying a new thing every now and then lets you learn and explore, while keeping the process exciting. The flock on the gargoyle above was an experiment that I very nearly scrapped, but it worked in the end.

Get Motivated

Other things motivated me to get painting RPG miniatures again too. I recently deep-dived into Warhammer Age of Sigmar, which I’ll talk about in another post, and I started watching some excellent YouTube channels.

Luke’s Affordable Paint Service (YouTube Channel) is excellent for terrain and scenery, and, like me, Luke loves finding a bargain. Luke also has a great contest on right now for his range of speed-basing materials.

Miniac (YouTube Channel) is an awesome painter, and like Luke has a great sense of humor. His level of detail is way above what I’m going for, but Scott does an awesome job of explaining the basics well. PAINT MORE MINIS!

Tabletop Minions (YouTube Channel) feels like chatting about the hobby with someone who knows the ins and outs of the hobby intimately. Atom Smasher, the channel’s presenter, has loads of great tips, presented as opinion pieces that are a joy to watch.

YouTube has plenty to offer for painting and miniature conversion besides these three, but they’re channels I keep coming back to.

The Rule of Three

Another thing that’s making my painting easier is that I work in sets of three. Three zombies, three wraiths, three whatevers. This lets my paint go further once it’s on the palette, and gives me a chance to try different things with each figure. For bigger miniatures, I’ll work on one at a time, but for short painting sessions, three figures usually get done in 30 minutes of painting, and I can let the others dry while I work on one. Three is also a good average when painting RPG miniatures for most encounters.

Painting RPG Miniatures
Two of three wights, done together. Skeletor, with the yellow face (right), came from me messing around. I’m very happy with these.

Paint More Minis!

In the words of Miniac, “Paint More Minis!” Keep it fun and free and you’ll work through that heap of plastic and metal in no time.

Painting RPG Miniatures
Some ghouls I painted for Part 3 of Doomsday Dawn. I painted six undead in my spare time, over a few weeks.

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Good Fantasy’s Secret Sauce

Understanding the answer to the question — what makes good fantasy — is the key to unlocking the potential of the fantasy genre. If you’re a GM, a writer, a designer, or a consumer of fantasy products then it’s a question worth figuring out.

The Key to Good Fantasy

What Makes Good Fantasy?

Or, better yet, what fantasy works inspire you? I’m sure your answer’s going to be way different from mine. There’s a glut of fantasy content out there — movies, books, games, RPGs — and not all of it resonates with everyone. Even the cream of the crop isn’t going to fire everyone up. The World of Warcraft is plenty of fun, but it isn’t inspiring me or fueling my storytelling. On the other hand, whenever I dive deeper into the world of Warhammer, including the newer Age of Sigmar, I come up wanting to create more fantasy. The Lord of the Rings and The Children of Húrin did the same for me, as did A Song of Ice and Fire. Not every book by Tolkien or Martin stirs my soul though. I still think The Silmarillion is possibly the most boring history book ever written.

What Awakens Your Soul?

All the works I’ve listed are masterworks, crafted by some of the world’s most skilled storytellers. They figured out how to capture our attention and take us on a journey.

For me, the gritty darkness of the Warhammer world and the Mortal Realms is real and alive. Tolkien’s world exists just as vividly in the text as in the recent movies, and Martin’s characters live and breathe from the pages. This believability draws us in, and once we’re hooked, the real magic can happen. Literally.

I’ve read bucket loads of R. A. Salvatore’s Drizzt novels, but they never turned me on. I think it’s largely because of a superficiality in the books that remind you that you’re reading a fantasy novel. The books are hugely popular, sure, but not groundbreakingly good.

Real Unreality

Crafting something believable and then adding the magic gives us a relatable anchor that draws the audience in. When the paladin gets lost in a bustling city market we can sympathize, then enjoy the wonder when she meets a vendor selling a magical phoenix.

The Trouble with RPGs

RPG monster manuals, bestiaries, race guides, magic item lists, and spell books are full of fantastic goodies by design. It’s tempting to dish up great big helpings from these resources, but we’ve got to keep the human element front and center if our players are going to buy what we’re selling.

Even a goblin campaign needs relatable elements: check out We Be Goblins and We Be Goblins Too from Paizo and you’ll see some interesting tricks used to pull human players into feeling for the monsters they play. Partly this is done by keeping humans out of the goblin’s path, because we don’t want a part in the death of innocents.

Lure and Switch

The realism makes the fantasy work. We spend quite a bit of time with Bilbo and Frodo at the start of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies because they’re so relatable. Dragons, magic, elves, and demons all work against that backdrop of humanity, and it’s the GM/writer/designer/storyteller’s job to weave this humanity into everything we’re selling. That’s the key to good fantasy.

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Rogue vs the Lich King – Hearthstone

Frost Bunnies was my answer to beating the Lich King with the rogue in Hearthstone. The deck list is very customizable, and I beat the Lich King without extra copies of some of the key cards listed below — the screenshot is my actual deck.

Frost Bunnies

Rogue vs Lich King Decklist

Class: Rogue
Format: Wild

  • 2x (1) Skaterbot
  • 2x (1) Southsea Deckhand
  • 2x (2) Knife Juggler
  • 2x (2) Lab Recruiter
  • 2x (2) Pogo-Hopper
  • 2x (2) Youthful Brewmaster
  • 2x (3) Acolyte of Pain
  • 1x (3) Coldlight Oracle
  • 1x (3) Face Collector
  • 2x (3) Mind Control Tech
  • 2x (3) Phantom Militia
  • 1x (3) Sonya Shadowdancer
  • 2x (4) Ancient Brewmaster
  • 1x (4) Barnes
  • 1x (4) Elven Minstrel
  • 1x (5) Dollmaster Dorian
  • 1x (5) Grim Patron
  • 2x (5) Vilespine Slayer
  • 1x (6) Mossy Horror

To use this deck, copy this link to your clipboard and create a new deck in Hearthstone.

Tactics

The aim is to control the board with cards like Southsea Deckhand, Knife Juggler, and Mind Control Tech, while building up your Pogo-Hoppers invasion with Sonya, the Brewmasters, and Lab Recruiter. With any luck, Dorian or Barnes will give you a second Sonya, especially if you play Elven Minstrel while Dorian is in play.

To beat Frostmorne, the Mossy Horror is hands-down your best bet, with the Vilespine Slayers there as a backup.

After Frostmorne, Skaterbot merged with Pogo-Hopper to the Lich King’s boney face should bag you the win.

Sideboard

Poison and Rush minions are very useful, especially when combined with Sonya. Work hard to control the board in the early game with anything that’ll stick around.

Bunnies!

My Pogo Hopper deck is by far my favorite deck to play, and when you’re not up against that cold-hearted Lich King you’ve got all sorts of great spells that make the deck sing. Here’s the regular version. It isn’t the fastest or most consistent deck, but it’s always great fun.

Bunnies

  • 2x (0) Backstab
  • 1x (0) Preparation
  • 2x (0) Shadowstep
  • 2x (1) Southsea Deckhand
  • 2x (2) Cheat Death
  • 2x (2) Knife Juggler
  • 2x (2) Lab Recruiter
  • 2x (2) Pogo-Hopper
  • 1x (3) Face Collector
  • 2x (3) Fan of Knives
  • 2x (3) Mimic Pod
  • 1x (3) Mind Control Tech
  • 1x (3) Sonya Shadowdancer
  • 1x (4) Elven Minstrel
  • 1x (5) Dollmaster Dorian
  • 1x (5) Seaforium Bomber
  • 1x (5) Vilespine Slayer
  • 2x (6) Vanish
  • 2x (7) Sprint

To use this deck, copy this link to your clipboard and create a new deck in Hearthstone.

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

A Love Affair With Deadly Solo Games

I strongly believe that gaming, or any geekdom, should be about people first. So then it might seem strange that I love solo games so much, particularly deadly ones. Solo games, like The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, Zombie in my Pocket, or our own Choose Your Destiny Adventures, are a conversation — a dialogue between the designer and the player — of the most intimate nature.

Deadly solo games
Photo credit: Steve Halama

A solo game designer creates a puzzle for their players to solve.
The best designers get the difficulty balance right. They know their audience and create challenges that’ll push players to bring their best, without breaking them.

But how difficult should a game be?

Different Strokes

It varies. Solitaire’s three-card draw version is perfect for many players,  while others prefer the easier one-card draw version. It largely depends on your audience. Hard-core puzzle solvers want a challenge, other players just want to relax and take a load off. Still, make things too easy and players will pass through your game too quickly and have little reason to come back to it. If it’s too tough players will eventually give up and hate the game. The sweet spot, in my experience, is somewhere just before that: deadly.

Deadly and Desirable

The Dark Souls series taught us that a deadly challenge is memorable — even desirable. Of all the bazillion games out there, Dark Souls is the only one tempting my brother and I to buy a console. And a TV. And the game. I’ve literally watched hours of other people playing the game, and it still fascinates me.
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the first in the Fighting Fantasy series, is famous for being difficult to beat, with only one true path through it. You’ll die plenty of times on your way to the warlock. I picked it up again recently because I’ve still not beaten it — and that’s enough to tempt me back again.

This is starting to have weird similarities with BDSM, and maybe there’s wisdom in that. The question then is, how difficult is too difficult?

A Step Too Far

A game gets too difficult if it’s unplayably hard, if the player bearly gets started before meeting a grizzly fate, or if multiple attempts result in little  or no progress. In a solo game, without a buddy for backup, it’s vital that the designer supports the player, so the rules need to be digestible and must provide the tools for beating the game.

We like a challenge, we don’t like getting the snot kicked out of us again and again.

When a designer nails the difficulty then the player feels respected, and that makes for a fun game that’s hard to forget — just like a good conversation.

Choose Your Destiny

Our Choose Your Destiny Adventures can surely prove deadly, and they’re a lot of fun, especially if you want to break out your fifth edition fantasy character and play for an evening. You can subscribe to the series on our Patreon page.

Death Queen  - A Deadly Solo Game
What’s more deadly than an adventure with “Death Queen” in the title?

Till next time, play good games!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

Getting Social with Social Classes for RPGs

Social classes and RPG classes are two very different things, but when they start to mix things can get really sticky very quickly. Just look at the barbarian in Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder. Almost always represented as a class for tribal berzerkers, the class could just as easily be used to build an urban gladiator. Take it a step further: the berzerker could be the king of a tribe or a landless peasant.

Social Class in Action!
Photo by Lou Levit

Why’s this important? Social classes were an important aspect of the medieval age, and navigating social classes can make for interesting interactions at the table.

RPG Classes are Jobs

Think about RPG classes as jobs. As a first level fighter, you have some on-the-job training, and are on the path to learning more, through leveling. When you multi-class, you’re effectively learning two jobs.

Most RPGs I’ve played blur the lines here, and as you level you also rise in status. Effectively, the social class you’re born into has very little impact on a character unless the GM is using a specific system to represent it.

And Social Classes?

Each social class contains a number of jobs, similar to how you could be a cat burglar rogue, a bandit rogue, or an assassin rogue. Could you be a level 1 noble or a level 7 peasant?

The hierarchy of European feudal society goes something like this:

  1. The Church
  2. The Monarchy
  3. Nobles and Barons
  4. Knights
  5. Tradesmen
  6. Peasants

We can simplify this into three groups that are representative of the largest portion of the population:

  1. Those who prayed – the clergy.
  2. Those who fought – the knights.
  3. Those who worked – the peasantry.

Here’s my first attempt at defining each of these as RPG classes, compatible with the fifth edition SRD:

Clergy Class

As a member of the clergy, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d8 per clergy level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (5) + your Constitution modifier per clergy level after 1st

Proficiencies

Armor: Light armor
Weapons: Simple weapons
Tools: Brewer’s supplies, calligrapher’s supplies, cartographer’s tools, or clerical supplies
Saving Throws: Wisdom, Charisma
Skills: Choose three from History, Investigation, Insight, Medicine, Persuasion, Religion, and Literacy (yip, Literacy is now a skill)

Knight Class

As a knight, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d10 per knight level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (6) + your Constitution modifier per knight level after 1st

Proficiencies

Armor: All armor, shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Skills: Choose two from Animal Handling, Athletics, Insight, Intimidation, Medicine, Perception, Religion, Stealth, and Survival

Peasant Class

As a peasant, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d8 per peasant level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (5) + your Constitution modifier per peasant level after 1st

Proficiencies

Armor: Light armor, shields
Weapons: Simple weapons
Tools: Carpenter’s tools, cobbler’s tools, cook’s utensils, glassblower’s tools, leatherworker’s tools, mason’s tools, potter’s tools, smith’s tools, weaver’s tools, or woodcarver’s tools
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Skills: Choose two from Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Athletics, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Performance, Persuasion, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, and Survival

Design Notes

The clergy class is quite similar to the cleric and the knight to the paladin, for obvious reasons. I figured the clergy would have a d8 Hit Die, representing their better living conditions. Peasants get a d8 for being hardy, but a d6 Hit Die could also make a lot of sense.

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games

Check out our store, subscribe to our newsletter for monthly updates, and visit us on our blog, our Facebook page and on Twitter.

The Great Cereal Conspiracy

There are things the cereal companies don’t want you to know. Terrible, diabolical, apocryphal things. But we know the truth. Oh yes, we do. In this exclusive story, we go deep undercover to discover the hidden truth behind the great cereal conspiracy that plagues your favourite sugar-coated morning meal.

Great Cereal Conspiracy!
Death Cereal! Photo by Amanda Belec

Our journalistic staff work hard for their money, which is great because if we ever decide to pay them we won’t feel like we wasted the money. They recently, through no small amount of Googling, uncovered a great cereal conspiracy that left the rest of us in the office with the wobblies. Or it might have been last night’s staff-party curry.

The conspiracy is so fearsomely fiendish, so dastardly devilish, so painfully poisonous — and alliteratively alluring — that we think you’ll be at least sort of glad you read through this bit to get to the end.

Suspenseful stalling aside, our operatives agents journalistic team consumed several thousand bowls of cereal during their collective lifetimes in preparation for this article. Supposedly they’d have done so anyway, but we’ll clutch at anything to give this article some level of credibility.

So, what is this Great Cereal Conspiracy that we keep alluding to (mostly for the sake of good SEO)? Well, let me enlighten you, the discerning consumer of wheat, rice, oat, wood pulp, or other breakfast cereals.

Did you ever notice how, when you were younger, they had really great toys in cereal boxes? The thing was, you could only eat a finite amount of cereal before your little body was stuffed and sky-high on a sugar-fueled buzz. What we didn’t realise then was that the cereal companies had it all planned out. They knew that we’d grow up. They knew that one day we’d be able to consume enough cereal to make cereal-focused-toy-collecting a viable activity. And, when that day came, they simply pulled all the good toys from the boxes.

Yeah, I know, I’m fuming mad about it too.

Yummy Conspiracies

If you enjoy food-based mysteries, please check out A Dinner to Die For, which is the player’s guide to How to Plan a Murder. It’s a fun game to play with friends, and the rules are intuitive and easy to run in large groups.

A Dinner to Die For