RPG Christmas Stocking Fillers

Ho, (and a ho, ho, ho), Adventurer!

We’ve got four Christmas stocking fillers for the players and GM in your life this festive season.

Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue

For D&D fifth edition, Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue is a fresh take on Aurora’s Emporium, which some of you might remember from AD&D. The book’s 50 pages include loads of interesting, flavourful, summer-themed items that won’t break your game. And yes, we know it’s probably winter where you are, but here in Africa we’re melting.

Christmas stocking fillers

Griffins – A Field Guide (D&D)

We’ve also got Griffins – A Field Guide, which offers 6 subspecies of griffin, a new paladin archetype, and rules for griffin animal companions and familiars. The book is beautifully illustrated throughout and would make a stunning player aid for a party of griffin riders. The book is $2 off until Christmas.

Christmas stocking fillers

Tentacles of the Deep

Tentacles of the Deep is a PWYW title with statistics for tentacles that act as individual monsters but are connected to a larger creature deep below the ocean’s surface. Grab it free, and if you like it, you can always leave a tip in the tip jar, or a review.

Christmas stocking fillers

Steampunk Musha: Races of Rosuto-Shima

Lastly, for Pathfinder this time, and not from us but from our friends at Fat Goblin Games, is Steampunk Musha: The Races of Rosuto-Shima. The book introduces several East Asian inspired races, such as the tanuki, pandajin, jinteki oni, and kappa, as well as steampunk inspired races such as the clockwork ronin.

Christmas stocking fillers

These Christmas stocking fillers are a great way to show your appreciation for a year of great gaming.

We’ll be back next week with more exciting content, but if we miss you, have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

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.

Welcome to Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalogue

Greeting, adventurer. Let me introduce Kim Frandsen, a game designer I’ve worked with on a number of projects before. We recently collaborated on the Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue, which he’s here to tell you a little more about.

This will likely be a bit of me gushing, so bear with me.

Back in the heady days of AD&D, a younger version of Kim was introduced to a number of fantastic worlds: Dragonlance, Ravenloft, Forgotten Realms, and more.

For some reason, the Forgotten Realms always stuck with me. It had a depth unmatched by any other setting. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t necessarily better, but it had a depth that the others simply couldn’t match. Even just in the world of Abeir-Toril, you had a number of other settings: Al-Qadim, Maztica, Forgotten Realms, Kara-Tur, and the Hordelands. But the central Forgotten Realm, Faerûn, stuck with me.

This was a world where you could dive into almost unimaginable detail: Volo’s Guides, Faiths & Pantheons, the Forgotten Realm’s Player’s Guide, and then there was this “little” tome called Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalogue.

Aurora's Whole Realms Catalogue

The Catalogue was like opening a box of toys for me. It contained bits and pieces I’d never even thought of, but which belonged perfectly within a fantasy world, or even a realistic medieval one. All this was offered to you by Aurora, an adventuress who sold these things from her shop, Aurora’s Emporium, in Westgate. Using teleportation and magic, this high-level (16) adventurer would collect bits and pieces from all over this fantastical realm.

And here I was, with my greedy little fingers, paging through the book, like someone paging through a book at a store. (In hindsight, it actually reminds me a bit of what they’ve done with the shops in Red Dead Redemption 2). I was itching to get my hands on these items.

This wasn’t the power-hungry munchkin player in me that got so attracted by these. This was something that allowed me to see the world of the Forgotten Realms as a living, breathing place, where ordinary people could experience extraordinary things, just by entering a shop. How could I not get hooked?

Fast forward 24 years and here we are. Along with Ishmael Alvarez, Troy E. Daniels, and Rodney Sloan, I finally get to release my homage to this book that, in my youth, captured my imagination. I hope, dear reader, that this humble offering of ours, will do the same to you and your imagination. But for now, let me invite you inside Aurora’s Emporium. As Aurora would say: “Welcome, dear customer. How may I serve you today?”

Aurora's Whole Realms Summer CatalogueYou can find the 50 page Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue on the DMs Guild.

Kim Frandsen

37 years old, and a gamer since I was 13. These days I freelance as a writer for various companies (currently Fat Goblin Games, Flaming Crab Games, Outland Entertainment, Paizo, Raging Swan Games, Rusted Iron Games, and Zenith Games) as well as editing the Pathfinder and D&D 5th edition lines for D20PFSRD Publishing. I’ve dipped my hands into all sorts of games, but my current “go-to” games are Pathfinder, Dungeon Crawl Classics and SLA Industries. Unfortunately, while wargaming used to be a big hobby, with wife, dog and daughter came less time.

NPC Meme Brings RPGs and Real Life Together

I love the Internet. In many ways, the Internet has made my work possible. But it has also brought a level of anonymity that shelters people from repercussions for the things they say and do. Often, the Internet provides an excuse for people to be rude. A good example of this is the NPC meme. This post is going to be a rant, but let’s face it, humanity can always use a swift kick in the backside from time to time.

NPC meme
Source: Rawpixel

NPC (meme) named after non-player characters in roleplaying games, the term is used to label someone as a person who does not. or is incapable of, thinking for themselves.

You might have heard of the NPC meme, where people label others as NPCs: bit players in this game we call life. It’s another example of RPG’s influence on our lives, but it’s also a cheap blow that dehumanizes others. Stange word that, “dehumanizes.” How conscious are we, really, about the feelings of others on the net? It’s so easy to break others down, why don’t we put more effort into raising others up — especially in a global village like the web?

But okay, enough of that. Let’s talk about games.

Griffins for Fifth Edition Fantasy

Griffins – A Field Guide was one of the first books Bob Greyvenstein and I did together. Now, with Ismael Alvarez, we’ve updated the book for fifth edition fantasy. Yip, that means you can use the griffins detailed in this book in your Dungeons & Dragons games.

The book is beautifully illustrated and contains 6 new griffin subspecies, a new paladin archetype, and rules for griffin familiars and griffin animal companions. It’s a great addition to your collection, no matter if you’re a player or a GM.

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.

 

 

 

Tentacles of the Deep – An Undersea Monster

What do Cthulhu, an octopus, and many politicians have in common? Tentacles! That’s right, tentacles!

As roleplayers, we kind of love tentacles, don’t we. Evard’s black tentacles, Day of the Tentacle, mind flayer chins, and the Japanese porn industry – tentacles have dipped their slimy appendages into every part of geek culture.

Today, I’ll share a new monster I’m working on that’s 100% tentacle, and tell you how you can join in and playtest it at your table.

Tentacle Miniatures - Hand Made Monsters
Tentacle Miniatures. Easy handmade monsters.

The above tentacles are based off the Watcher in the Water from The Lord of the Rings movie, and the miniature Games Workshop made of it. They were relatively cheap and easy to make, too.

In most cases, the adventurers are fighting against whole monsters, but what if you wanted to only pit them against a giant’s hand, or a dragon’s claw, or the tentacles of a creature hidden deep below the waves?

That’s where the tentacle of the deep comes in. First, I’ll talk about the miniatures, then I’ll show you where to go to find the stats.

Making Tentacles

I made my tentacles with wire and modeling clay. You could probably use Green Stuff, but anything that won’t go brittle when it cures is fine. For the water effects, I used clear silicone, then painted the tips of the waves white. Lukes APS has an excellent tutorial on water effects that’s well worth checking out for this kind of project, and his silicone idea worked a treat.

I painted the miniature dark green, and used a mixture of Citadel’s Bronzed Flesh and Goblin Green on the underside. Paint the base black, because it really adds depth once the silicone is added to the top. When I was all done I used a gloss varnish to give the tentacles a wet look.

D&D Stats for Your Tentacles

We’ve published the stats for these tentacles, free, on the DMs Guild. Grab your copy here.

Tentacles of the Deep

If you like the monster, let us know or drop a tip in the tip jar. If you’ve got creative feedback, we’d love to hear from you too.

Black Friday with Rising Phoenix

This Black Friday we have a massive 50% Off Sale on Drive Thru RPG. This includes books compatible with Dungeons & Dragons and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as well as stand-alone games, map tiles, and all of our Solo Adventures.

Looking for some unique gaming gift ideas? Check out our Black Friday Buyer’s Guide.

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.

The Quick Win – Leveraging Goals for the Big Win

I’m a big believer in the quick win.

Especially when it comes to hobby gaming.

The Quick Win
Photo credit: Andre Hunter.

Quick wins, as the name suggests, are small projects that don’t take much time, or effort. The miniature you paint in an hour, the terrain you bang out in 3 hours, or the monster stat block you write in 5 minutes all fall into this category.

Why the Quick Win?

Getting things done is very motivating. My recent post about painting RPG miniatures gets into that more. The reverse is also true though, that having too much on your plate can turn you off of your hobby quicker than a quickling in hyperdrive.

It’s also great having something to show for your efforts, and with a string of quick wins you can easily build up to a much larger goal. It’s a lot like how I write now. My current RPG book — teasers here, here, and here — is being written in 2-hour bursts. In each session, I aim to finish one section of the book. Sometimes I’ll get 2-3 monsters done, sometimes it’s most of a background, but every session that I finish something is another thing off the checklist.

How’s this different from how I used to write? Before, I didn’t break down my tasks much, so in 2 hours I often worked on a bunch of sections, got demotivated, and lost my concentration. That kind of thing can lead to burnout. In other words, I’m talking about the tortoise’s approach to winning the race: slow and steady, and about breaking down that race into milestones. Each milestone is a victory in and of itself.

Life also takes up much of our hobby time, so when we have time, we need to use it wisely.

Your Next Quick Win

I’ll leave you with this thought. What small hobby project would give you the most satisfaction. Is it drawing that dungeon map you’ve been planning? Making a handout? Stating up an NPC? Or do you just need to run a short session over Google Hangouts to get everyone ready for a longer session?

Plan it. Do it. Celebrate your quick win.

Black Friday with Rising Phoenix

This Black Friday we have a massive 50% Off Sale on Drive Thru RPG.  This includes books compatible with Dungeons & Dragons and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as well as stand-alone games, map tiles, and all of our Solo Adventures.

Looking for some unique gaming gift ideas? D20Radio.com has some excellent gamer gift ideas worth checking out.

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.

Black Friday – 2018 Buyer’s Guide

Right now, all our books are 33% Off, but wait, because this Black Friday (and maybe earlier) we have a massive 50% Off Sale on Drive Thru RPG. This includes books compatible with Dungeons & Dragons and the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as well as stand-alone games, map tiles, and all of our Solo Adventures.

Black Friday

Black Friday with Rising Phoenix

Here are my top 5 recommendations, based on sales and customer feedback, as well as my own (totally biased) opinion:

5. Mecha – A Field Guide

This has 2.5 stars out of a possible 5, making it our worst rating, for any product, ever. Still, if you read the reviews objectively, you’ll notice that nobody’s complaining about the rules, which are water tight. The book might not show you how to design your own mecha, but attentive readers will be able to reverse engineer the system and create anything they want, using the core Starfinder Roleplaying Game rules.

Get it on Drive Thru RPG

4. How to Plan a Murder

How to Plan a Murder CoverWhat’s a little murder between friends? A lot of fun, it turns out.
The game’s rules are so intuitive that you might be tempted to think the game is overly simple. In fact, the game’s streamlined for an evening’s dinner party with friends, and makes intrigue an integral part of the experience. We think you’ll find that How to Plan a Murder has something special that most murder mystery dinner games lack. Check it out.

Get it on Drive Thru RPG

3. Phoenixes – A Field Guide

This book is so beautifully illustrated that it’s worth grabbing, just for the pretty pictures. The art is by Bob Greyvenstein, who does most of our illustration and layout work, and this book contains many of my favorites of his art. It takes real talent to draw birds well, and Bob pulls it off with apparent effortlessness.

Get it on Drive Thru RPG

2. Death Queen and the Life Stone

Death QueenOur Choose Your Destiny line of solo 5e adventures is steadily growing, but it all starts with this, the first adventure in the series. The second book, Forest of Secrets, is also on sale.

The books contain rules for extending the game, as well as player boons and class archetypes, so they’re valuble resources for GMs too.

Get it on Drive Thru RPG

1. Welcome to Scarthey

This brings us to my top recommendation for Black Friday, 2018. Scarthey, the University of the Arcane, is your guide to adventures in a wizard’s university, complete with map, location guide, introductions to the main faculty members, houses, the surrounding town of Scartheyton, history, activities, and sports. You can set your whole campaign within the grounds of the university, or drop it straight into your campaign. Our Choose Your Destiny adventures are set in Scarthey and its surrounds, making Welcome to Scarthey an invaluble part of the collection.

Get it on Drive Thru RPG

Enjoy your Black Friday shopping!

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.

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.

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