Horde is a hack and slash game for 1–4 players. Stand against masses of enemies without lucky dice rolls to save you. Horde’s rules emphasize the need for clever tactics to stay alive long enough to protect the Flame of Life and defeat the deadly hordes.
Horde includes two modes: Defender, for a shorter game, and Dungeon, for a full dungeon crawl through caverns teeming with enemies.
Horde is currently in playtesting, and I’m hoping to release it by the end of the month. Here’s a peek at the cover:
I wanted a game where you play a powerful hero wading through masses of enemies, where dice rolls didn’t determine the outcome of attacks, but tactics meant everything. I wanted to use as much of my growing collection of fantasy miniatures as possible and put hordes of figures on the board. Horde is my answer to that.
The game also had to be playable solo, quick to set up, and — most importantly — loads of fun. Horde is checking all those boxes in playtesting, and I’m excited to share more about the game with you, soon.
We’re busy putting the finishing touches on our first Undersea Sourcebook (that’s a big reveal), which will be a player’s guide to undersea adventures in Dungeons & Dragonsfifth edition (that’s two big reveals). The guide features loads of races, each with a list of names like in the Races chapter of the Player’s Handbook. Here are a few undersea fantasy names, to help you name your next underwater character.
Merfolk parents choose names for their children that reflect the nature of the sea, invoke images of the ocean, or signify freedom or purpose. Merfolk also have a tribal name, which they’ll use when dealing with merfolk from another tribe. Merfolk rarely use their tribal name around other races, and then only if they have significant reason to do so. Even among friends, merfolk regard mentioning their tribal name as an unnecessary vanity.
Naiads choose their own names when they come of age, and prefer names that are lyrical in nature. They have no clan or family names, though they may name themselves after the body of water they have recently bonded with, such as Khev of Dessarin and Loreley of Lac Dinneshere.
Selkies often adopt names similar to those of the people who live near to their colonies. As such, selkie names vary greatly from region to region, though they almost always prefer shorter names. Selkies have no clan or family names, and may refer to the region their family inhabits when introducing themselves, such as Runn of Boatscrape Cove, from Waterdeep.
If you’re looking for more ideas for you own undersea fantasy names, I found loads of inspiration on fantasynamegenerators.com. Start there, find a name you like, then change it to suit your needs. Look for shorter, easier to pronounce names, since those are more memorable and far easier to use while roleplaying.
Since pirates took over, I haven’t been allowed to blog much, but I managed to sneak this barbarian archetype past those black-hearted scoundrels. This archetype is compatible with the 5th edition SRD. If you like it, give it a play and let us know what you think in the comments below.
The line between bravery and stupidity may seem razor-thin to some, but to barbarians of the Path of the Slayer, bravado is a powerful tool for destroying even the most deadly monsters.
You may choose this primal path at 3rd level instead of another primal path, and gain its features at 3rd, 6th, 10th, and 14th level.
At 3rd level when you choose this path, you become immune to fear and cannot be frightened.
At 3rd level, while raging, if you are adjacent to an enemy that is larger than you and not adjacent to any of your allies, you gain a 1d6 Bravado die at the end of your turn. You may spend your Bravado die in the following ways:
Dodge. As a reaction, you can spend your Bravado die to roll it and add it to a saving throw.
Parry. You can, as a reaction, spend your Bravado die to roll it and add it to your armor class against one attack.
Dig Deep. You dig deep into your strength reserves and, as an action, spend up to two Bravado die. You heal hit points equal to the roll of the die.
Slaying Strike. You can spend any number of Bravado die before you make a melee attack roll. If you hit your target, roll the Bravado die and add it to your weapon’s damage roll.
You lose any unused Bravado die when your rage ends.
Your Bravado die changes when you reach certain levels in this barbarian primal path. The die becomes a d8 at 6th level, a d10 at 10th level, and a d12 at 14th level.
Starting at 6th level, when a creature at least two sizes larger than you attempts to hit you with a bite attack, you can, as a reaction, make a Dexterity saving throw. The DC for this saving throw depends on the creature’s CR, as given in the table below.
If you succeed at this saving throw, you jump through the creature’s jaws and down its gullet. On your following turns, while inside the creature, all your attacks have advantage and any hits are treated as critical hits. You gain Bravado dice and may spend them while inside the creature, even if you are not raging.
If you fail at the saving throw, and the creature successfully hits you with its bite attack, it automatically scores a critical hit against you, regardless of the number shown on the die.
While inside the creature, you cannot avoid any breath attacks it makes and you cannot breathe. If the creature is destroyed, you are able to cut yourself free on the following turn as an action. Creatures without a discernible mouth, such as most oozes, are immune to this ability.
CR Dexterity saving throw DC
Beginning at 10th level, you gain proficiency with heavy armor and can rage while wearing heavy armor.
Starting at 14th level, when a Large or larger creature within 5 feet of you makes a melee weapon attack, you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against that creature. If your attack hits, the creature’s next melee weapon attack is with disadvantage.
It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kit bashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. This week I’ll show you how to build a miniature Japanese torii gate for Steampunk Musha, Legend of the Five Rings, or similar East Asian inspired settings.
Here she is, folks. This miniature Japanese torii can easily accommodate most Large sized D&D or Pathfinder figures in the center.
Steampunk Musha – Shangti Factory Hub
This project is the first part of my Steampunk Musha terrain project that will consist of several factory pieces set in the mega city of Shangti. Since it’s steampunk, I figure this set will work well for both my Warhammer 40k games and for fantasy gaming, so this is a “two birds with one stone” type of deal.
The torii gate we’re making today is highly customizable, but is perfect for a Japanese themed game. You could use a similar technique to make gallows or other structures featuring a prominent wooden frame.
You’ll need balsa wood for this, but popsicle sticks will work well too. A sharp hobby knife, wood glue, and sandpaper will do all the heavy lifting, then you can paint and varnish the gate as you see fit when it’s done. I used hardboard for the base.
Make a paper template for the top piece of the gate (the kasagi and shimaki). Cut 3 of these. Cut 1 long crossbar (nuki), and 6 poles (to make the hashira). We’ll add more bits later, so keep any extra wood aside.
Place 1 top section on top of 2 pillars. There’s no need to glue it yet, but you can if you like.
Glue the crossbar onto the pillars, with a small space between it and the top piece.
Score lines on 2 more pillars under the crossbar, like so:
Then cut along the scored lines.
Glue the longer sections of pillar below the crossbar. Glue the short sections of the pillar over the top section. This forms the very center of your Japanese torii gate.
Don’t worry too much if the glue is causing all the pieces to float around. When you’re done you can move everything nicely into place, and sanding will clean it all up when we’re done.
Bulking Up the Top
Score lines to match the location of the pillars onto the second top piece.
Glue the pieces of the second top piece onto the first top piece. In the end, this gives the model more strength and bulk.
Finishing Up your Miniature Japanese Torii
Now glue on the last of the pillars and top piece. If your glue is still wet at this stage you can move things around, then put a heavy book on the gate and let it dry.
Next, add a small down piece between the top and the crossbar. Then cut 2 identical pieces to form the very top section of the tori. These will look like slightly curved french fries.
When it’s dry, use your hobby knife to make everything flush along the edges, then sand the model. An emery board (used for fingernails) works very well for this.
I base coated my model white, then painted the whole thing red. I washed it with a purple wash to pick up the natural wood texture of the balsa wood, and to age the model a bit.
For the base, I used hardwood covered in two grades of sand, the finest for the path. I painted and dry brushed this before adding flock. I varnished everything when I was done, because I like harder wearing gaming pieces.
Pro Tip: Suppliers of Shinto religious goods will often have miniature Japanese torii for sale. Personally, I prefer to make my own.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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 & DragonsDungeon Master’s Guide to help you dive into your undersea adventures.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Appendix B provides a coastal monsters list and one for underwater monsters.
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.
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 & DragonsPlayer’s Handbook to help you dive into your underwater adventures.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Painted, even badly painted, is better than grey plastic.
Simple paint jobs are perfect for gaming.
Start it and finish it, then move on.
Keep it cheap.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Pathfinder Playtest is here, and this past weekend my players and I took our first dip into the new game.
The first session of the Pathfinder Playtest was brutal. It might be more a factor of encounter design than the new rules, but two of my three PCs fell dying at some point, as did the third PC’s animal companion. Fortunately, all the characters survived, thanks to our overworked cleric.
The party left the dungeon twice during the session to get a full rest, and by the end of the session they had five rooms left to explore.
While the players liked the three actions a round mechanic, we often didn’t use the third action for a third attack, it was just too risky. There were plenty of critical failures without taking a –10 on the roll.
As a GM, I felt that I had more options with my NPCs, though this might be because I haven’t played Pathfinder for a while and have learned so much since I last ran a game. PF2 monsters are certainly easier to run, with stat blocks that aren’t more complicated than they need to be.
It did take lots of work to digest the Core Rulebook, but once I’d gotten something down, it proved easier to recall than in PF1. My wife, a PF1 regular, said that she found character generation much easier in PF2. Character gen took about 3 hours for us, on average.
I’m looking forward to playing more of the Playtest and I’m excited about Pathfinder’s future.