Adventurer, Take This… — RPG Blog Carnival

RPG Blog Carnival

‘Tis the season to be jolly
To deck the halls with boughs of holly
Then loot the corpses for lots of lolly!

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival is all about the players and their characters. The theme is “Adventurer, take this… ,” we hope it will inspire you to join in the fun and post an article on the subject. Here are some ideas to spark your creativity:

  1. An adventure idea based around a magical item, such as an evil ring of invisibility or a magical sword from a lake.
  2. New magical items, gear, weapons, vehicles, or spells.
  3. A look at the role magical and mundane items play in a campaign.
  4. How to deal with overpowered items and the ramifications they can have on your campaign.
  5. An article aimed at the most important people in our games: the players.
  6. A miniature painting tutorial aimed at player character figures.
  7. A devious trap based on a magical item or bit of loot.
  8. A review of a player-focused RPG supplement.
  9. An article appropriate to the season of giving and related to RPG player characters.
  10. A discussion or rules for crafting items or in-game economy.
Adventurer, take this - RPG Blog Carnival
Adventurer, take this…

Be sure to put a link to your post in the comments below. Because of spam moderation and holidays, please allow 48 hours for your post to go live. I’ll post a summary of all the articles at the end of the month, to take us into the new year, on Rising Phoenix Games’ birthday! Let’s end the year with a bang!

If you’re travelling this season, travel safely. Have a Merry Christmas, a happy festive season, and a Happy New year, and we’ll see you next year for more adventures in the worlds inside our heads.

Till next time, play good games!



First Contact — Valkyrie: Ragnarok

This is the first story in the Valkyrie: Ragnarok and Valkyrie: Saga settings, and sits between both. I hope you enjoy it. For the full story, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

First Contact

The ground shook, rattling the shelves of tools and threatening to topple the computer screens in the small control room.

Stevens cursed and grabbed the monitors. “No, no, no. Not now.”

“What the hell was that?” Stern asked. He’d slopped hot coffee all over his white shirt.

“Probably a mine collapse. There are several major shafts running through this area.” Stevens straightened his chair and grabbed the PC’s mouse. “Diagnostics all green. Nothing in the envelope, and the seals are all good.”

“We should manually inspect the exterior. Call it ‘protocol.’”

“Right, Did you ever get to listing emergency procedures for earthquakes?”

“Haha,” Stern said, mirthlessly, “I’ll get to it. Just after I finish writing emergency protocol procedures for dealing with aliens, pixies, and hippies.” He grunted a laugh.

Suddenly the lights flickered. Both men leaned forward to peer through the perspex viewing window, into the hanger beyond.

***

“The Landing Pad was built for a single purpose,” Stevens said, speaking into Stern’s camera. “The saying goes: ‘build it and they will come.’ So we built it.”

Stevens stepped aside as Stern began his long pan, which took in the hanger and all of its modifications.

The Landing Pad, as they’d dubbed it, was a medium-sized airplane hanger, an old military building they’d bought and repurposed. The hanger was purposely empty except for a large square marked out in yellow and black chevron tape on the concrete floor. The square was exactly a meter from each wall, and the space it marked out was empty — the envelope.

There were four red lights, one in each corner, at eye level. All of them were off.

Besides these, the hanger was featureless, although sensors and cameras were carefully tucked away into the girders that make up the hanger’s skeleton. Heavy white plastic sheeting covered the walls and ceiling between each girder, overlapping and carefully bonded together to form an airtight seal. Behind that, the corrugated iron sheeting of the hanger had been carefully reinforced and sealed as well, to prevent anything bigger than a bug from getting in.

“This structure is a marvel of ‘can-do’ engineering.” Stevens said, “It’s a science project on a massive scale. This is what happens when men with a passion for science put their efforts and their money together. Some called us mad. Some said it was a midlife crisis, but here we are.”

Stevens stood in the centre of the envelope with his arms outstretched. “This is the world’s first monitored teleportation landing pad. It is a safe zone for machines, for vehicles, to teleport into, perhaps from a different time. We will provide a live feed and a freely accessible archive of the 24-hour video footage, of the envelope and Landing Pad via our website, which you can find in the links below.”

Stern zoomed in for the finale.

“We predict,” Stevens said, “that our first arrival will occur within moments of the project’s completion. Join us live in three weeks, on December 6th, for the launch of our live feed. Till next time, teleport safely.”

Stern cut.

That had been two weeks ago.

***

The four warning lights flashed, bathing the Landing Pad in red, strobing light. The two men gazed through the perspex, into a confusing conglomeration of substance which their minds, at first, failed to comprehend. Then they discerned figures, bodies in battle with dark masses that bore sharp black fangs down with savage fury, ripping the throats of the human figures in a frenzy of bloodlust. The vision dissolved into a red mist, and then nothing.

The red lights blinked twice, then went dim.

The yellow glow of the hanger’s overhead lights took their place, revealing a scene that was unchanged from moments ago, the envelope empty again.

“First contact,” Stevens mumbled, fumbling for a pen, a phone, he wasn’t sure what.

“Get on the phone Stevens.”

“To who?”

“The news. The President. Someone important, you ass.”

Stevens didn’t seem to register, and was mumbling to himself. “They’re early. The vents aren’t even closed yet. I still need to test the scrubbers. Anything could leak out.”

“Screw the scrubbers. We’ve been broadcasting, look. The feed’s live.” Stern pointed to the screen.

“We’ve been streaming for a minute. Look, it started just before the quake. You can see it on the log.”

Stern grabbed Steven’s phone and started dialling. “Crap, this is bad. Start the lockdown.”

Suddenly the earth shook. This time, tools cascaded from the racks, clanging to the floor. Draws of filing cabinets rolled open and a coffee cup smashed to the floor. The red warning lights began flashing their steady pulse and a siren began its droning wail.

Stevens took a deep breath. “Something’s coming through.”

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter to get the full story, which will go out next week.

 



Mini Monday #11: Basing Basics

It’s Mini Monday, where we share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting projects for your roleplaying table. This week we get down to the basics of miniature basing. It’s Mini Monday #11: Basing Basics.

Mini Monday Gargoyle

I’ve been tinkering with this basing method since I started painting Warhammer 40,000 figures, and have refined it into a simple method that gives great effects.

Mini Monday #11: Basing Basics
The Gretchin on the left has sand from my garden. Sam, on the right, has a larger grain of dirt. You could paint this grey or brown to look like gravel, but it’s good enough for gaming, and that’s the point.

Remember, the main thing you’re looking for when basing your army or figures for roleplaying is consistency. You can differentiate heroes from the rank and file with special bases, but generally, you want a process you can apply to all your figures, to give them unity.

1. Preparing the Miniature

Paint your miniature and glue it to its base. Leave the base for now.

2. Texture

Get sand from your garden and sieve it. You can cook it in the oven for 10 minutes to ensure it’s free of life, then let it cool. I keep my sand in small plastic containers. Mix PVA or wood glue with water, in a 1:1 ratio. Paint this on the top of the base and then dip the base into the sand. Leave to dry.

Homemade Sand - Mini Monday #11: Basing Basics
“Homemade” sand sieved and ready for use. Costs nothing and you can get tons of it.

3. Glue it Again

You can use the same mixture again over the sand when it’s dry to ensure it stays down, otherwise it might come off when you’re painting it. You can also spray the PVA and water mixture onto the base, but I find an old brush works well if the glue is dry: start at the edge and work your way inwards.

4. Paint

When this is all dry, paint the textured base. There are a few options for this. I like to paint the whole base in Warboss Green, from Citadel Colour. Some people like to paint the edge of the base black, or you might choose a sandy tan colour — it’s up to you.

5. Flock

Use small bits of flock to represent scrub and bits of vegetation. Stick this on with PVA glue.

6. Varnish

When it’s dry, varnish the whole mini. Sprays are great, but if you don’t have a spray, you can paint it on using an old brush.

That’s it. This technique is cheap and easy, and really finishes off a model. Doing batches of miniatures together makes waiting for things to dry less of an issue.

You can support the blog by purchasing a gargoyle mug from our store.

Gargoyle Mini Monday Mug
Paint brushes, water, or regular ol’ caffeine, whatever it holds, it does so in style.



Magic Life Lesson #9: Your Definition of Success

Magical Life Lessons are short snippets of wisdom learned from playing Magic: the Gathering. It may be a game, but here you’ll find insights learned from slinging cards that you can apply to the game of life.

In Magic: the Gathering, knowing your goal is simple; you’re playing to win. How you win is far more complicated: you could win by taking your opponent down to 0, by milling their library, or through some card’s effect, such as Nicol Bolas, Dragon-God’s ultimate ability that causes opponents to lose if they don’t control a legendary creature or planeswalker.

Magic Life Lesson #9: Your Definition of Success
Source: Gatherer.wizards.com

Life is a lot like that too: there are many roads to success. The important thing is defining what success is. Being a millionaire might tick the success box for many people, but isn’t your contribution to society worth more than the contents of your wallet? It’s an important question to ask, and that’s why it’s Magic Life Lesson #9: Your Definition of Success.

Magic Life Lesson #9: Your Definition of Success
Source: Gatherer.wizards.com/

Magic Life Lesson #9: Your Definition of Success

Speaking for myself, I’ve always struggled fitting my professional goals into my world view. I want to be a successful writer and game designer, and I know that stories (and, by extension, games) are an important medium for tackling and teaching important concepts — such as how Spec Ops: The Line is a harsh introspection on war and games about war — but I don’t always feel that I’m making peoples lives better. When I was a teacher, this was a no-brainer. My students learned and grew before my eyes, and I felt that my contribution mattered.

What does give me hope are all the writers who have made an impact on my life. Tolkien’s love for language flows from every page of his works, while C.S. Lewis brings a profound wisdom to his works that any man should seek to emulate. George R.R. Martin understands history and the humans that wrote it in a way that breathes new life into all history.

Games have resonated with me, too. Emperor and Emperor worship in Warhammer 40,000 has, as a bad parody, always stood in stark contrast to what the church and Christianity are to me, and has motivated me to question and dig into what I read in the Bible, so that I gain a true understanding of the writer’s message. And, you already know how Magic: the Gathering has proven to be a great game through which one can learn about life.

Ultimately, the struggle to balance my world view and goals has led me to change the ways I do things. Even if I have yet to nail down the how, I know that I want to make good games and tell stories that get people thinking about real issues, even if those issues are embedded in fantasy stories about elves and dwarves.

The struggle to define success in your own words is infinitely valuable, and certainly not easy, but it’s integral to your personal journey and to the question we all ask:

Why am I here?



Genjutsu Master, the Illusionist Monk Tradition

The Genjutsu Master is an illusion flinging monk tradition for Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition.

Genjutsu Master Cover

Use your ki to cast illusion spells to fool your enemies, with 22 Genjutsu Disciplines to choose from.

Genjutsu Master Phone PDF Sample
The book includes a phone-optimized PDF, for ease of use at the table.

What is Genjutsu? It’s the art of creating illusions and affecting reality.

Disciple of Genjutsu

The genjutsu master learns how to mold their ki and manipulate the ki of others to produce powerful illusions. Some use these abilities to become invisible spies and assassins, while others use them to entertain or manipulate the masses. The way of the genjutsu master is therefore carefully guarded and shrouded in secrecy, with each sensei carefully choosing their students and testing them before even the most basic skills are taught.

Genjutsu Disciplines

Genjutsu Disciplines work in the same way as Elemental Disciplines: you spend ki points, as an action, to cast them. With Genjutsu Disciplines, you cast illusion spells, turning your monk character into a master of deception and trickery.

Unlike the Elemental Disciplines, you gain access to a few more utility spells, such as phantom steed. These spells don’t have much use inside combat — although spamming the battlefield with horses seems like fun — but having access to them gives your character the utility an illusion-focused caster needs.

Get the Genjutsu Master on the Dungeon Masters Guild.

More Where That Came From

The Genjutsu Master follows on from the Street Fighter, the combo slinging monastic tradition, featured last week.

Are there any other monk traditions you’d love to see, like a Naruto-style shadow clone technique, a pro wrestler, or a 5e version of The Karate Kid? Let us know in the comments below.

And don’t forget, this brawler tee is available for a limited time only, from our Trophy Room:



Mini Monday #10: Good Enough

This was supposed to be a post about getting 18 miniatures painted in 18 days. I needed to finish 18 Orks to finish my battalion detachment, and I gave myself 18 days to do it in. ‘Easy,’ I said. And that’s why today’s full title should be Mini Monday #10: Good Enough and the Power of Being Satisfied with the Chance to Try Again.

Mini Monday Gargoyle

It’s Mini Monday, where I share customizing, scratch building, kitbashing, and miniature painting ideas for your roleplaying table. This week we talk about mediocrity, the value of arbitrary goals, and being satisfied.

Mini Monday #10: Good Enough

Here’s my kitbashed Ork boy with rokkit launcha. He’s the only figure I finished in the 18 days.

Mini Monday #10: Good Enough

I’m very happy with the kitbashing I did with him, but not with the paint job. But, you know what, it’ll do. It’s better painted than unpainted.

The 18-day goal was arbitrary, but it was still good for a few things.

Just Your Average Geek

For one thing, it was good to remind myself that I’m no pro painter. This blog isn’t about me teaching you. It can’t be. The only thing I have to give is passion and the determination to keep learning. Rather, this blog is about sharing my discoveries and, hopefully, encouraging you to go make your own, paintbrush in hand.

Flinging Paint on Plastic

I still have 17 minis to go, but the 18 days meant I got closer to finishing them. How long will that take? Who knows!? All I can say is that whatever time I spend painting is progress. If I want to get through that pile of plastic, the only way to do it is to sit down and paint.

Got anything to say? Slap it in the comments below and let’s talk about painting, kitbashing, and the benefits of more dakka!



Street Fighter, the Combo Slinging Monk Tradition

The Street Fighter is a combo slinging monk tradition for Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition.

Street Fighter Cover
Rockin’ the retro!

The archetype includes four abilities: Combo, Round Two, Ki Blast, and Signature Move. Let’s break those down:

Street Fighter Phone PDF Sample
The book includes a phone-optimized PDF, for ease of use at the table.

Combo

Combo lets you string unarmed strikes and monk weapon attacks together, turning them even more deadly. The downside is that there are very few ranges attacks that work with this ability, so you’re going to need to get in close and personal to get the most from this ability.

Round Two

Round Two gives you a chance to jump back into the action quickly, with the disadvantage that you’ll be stunned just before gaining the full benefits of this ability. If you can survive that one round without taking damage, then you’ll get your chance to turn the tables.

Ki Blast

Hadouken! Smash your opponents from a distance and string this together with your melee attacks for powerful combos. Of course, you’ll need to tap into your ki to do so, but the added versatility is worth paying for.

Signature Move

Build your own moves from a list of options, which you choose when you gain this ability. Go in close or take another ranged option, then tweak the damage type to fit your character’s concept.

The Street Fighter is a unique take on the monk that leverages the key features of the class to create a close combat combo combatant that’s a lot of fun at the table.

Get the Street Fighter on the Dungeon Masters Guild.

And don’t forget, this brawler tee is available for a limited time only, from our Trophy Room:



Magic Life Lesson #8: The Long Game

Magical Life Lessons are short snippets of wisdom learned from playing Magic: the Gathering. It may be a game, but here you’ll find insights learned from slinging cards that you can apply to the game of life.

It can take time for things to come together, but when they do, all the effort can pay off in a big way. Today’s Magic: the Gathering deck is all about the long game, and it wins by sticking around and grinding down the opponent for the eventual win.

Graveyard Adventures

You can copy and paste this list into MTG Arena:

3 Lucky Clover (ELD) 226
4 Order of Midnight (ELD) 99
7 Swamp (ANA) 58
8 Forest (ANA) 60
3 Rosethorn Acolyte (ELD) 174
3 Garenbrig Carver (ELD) 156
4 Leyline Prowler (WAR) 202
4 Spark Harvest (WAR) 105
1 Witch’s Cottage (ELD) 249
2 Glowspore Shaman (GRN) 173
2 Syr Konrad, the Grim (ELD) 107
1 Edgewall Innkeeper (ELD) 151
1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General (WAR) 97
4 Overgrown Tomb (GRN) 253
4 Temple of Malady (M20) 254
2 Kraul Harpooner (GRN) 136
2 Loaming Shaman (M20) 180
2 Find // Finality (GRN) 225
1 Izoni, Thousand-Eyed (GRN) 180
2 Golgari Findbroker (GRN) 175

Magic Life Lesson #8: The Long Game

Life is about the long game too, and that’s Magic Life Lesson #8: The Long Game. You work your plan for weeks, months, years, until you successfully achieve your goals. This takes two things: the ability to see where you want to be and stubborn perseverance to keep slogging away until you get there.

It won’t be easy.

It shouldn’t be easy.

Nothing worth doing is easy.

Your future is like a marble sculpture, while your plans are the sketches and clay models of what you’re crafting. Your hammer and chisel are the efforts you put into making this new reality happen.

Right now, I’m seeing my RPG content — writing and ideas I’ve amassed over years — come together as a consistent whole. Many lessons, over many years, have gotten me to this point, but only because I kept the future in mind. If I regret anything, it’s that I didn’t dream bigger, sooner. But I don’t regret the lessons; tomorrow’s brighter because of them.



Faster, Better, Crunchier! More Content for You!

You’re important to us, so we have a few upcoming changes planned to give you more top quality gaming content.

Playtests

Flaming tier Patreon backers have had access to our solo adventure playtests since our Patreon campaign started. Going forward, we’re offering a playtest subscription that will be free to patrons and newsletter subscribers, while the playtests will go for a buck or more on Drive Thru RPG and our store. These playtests will include all of our stand-alone games and anything else we deem suitable for a playtest.

Patreon Changes

I’ll be chatting to our Patreons soon about extending our Patreon campaign to cover more types of products. Initially, we wanted to focus on solo adventures, but sales haven’t justified that focus. While we’ll still be bringing out new solo adventures, we’re looking for a more flexible approach that gives our patrons a better and more regular offering.

Print on Demand is Here!

Heaven & Hell and Anaximander’s Adventuring Studies are now available as Print on Demand titles from Drive Thru RPG! There really is nothing like that new book scent!

Heaven & Hell CoverAnaximanders Adventuring Studies Cover

Forthcoming Releases

Print proofs for our new range of Madness Cards are on their way from America! Here’s what it says on the box:

As sanity slips away, draw Madness Cards to decide your player character’s mental affliction.
This pack contains 60 Madness Cards; two copies of 30 unique cards, each with a short term, long term, and indefinite madness, including afflictions from Arcanaphobia to Vampirism, compatible with the Fifth Edition OGL.

We’ll soon be releasing a new monastic tradition for the fifth edition D&D monk that will bring retro feels back to the gaming table. I’m not giving any hints, but this one’s sure to be a knockout.

Official T-Shirts

Now you can show your support by wearing official Rising Phoenix merchandise from our Trophy Hall. Some designs will only be available for a short time, so don’t wait to grab the tees you like.

Faster Brawler TeeFaster bard tee

Till next time, happy gaming!

Keeping It Classy with Kim Frandsen

Kim Frandsen, author of  Heaven & Hell: Aasimar & Tiefling Ancestries for Pathfinder 2, kindly agreed to do a guest post about his Keeping It Classy series, which is available on the DMs Guild. Take it away, Kim!

Keeping It Classy

Today, I’m here to talk about fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons, and more specifically a series of books that I’ve been releasing, called Keeping It Classy.

So far these have been released for the barbarian, bard, and cleric, with more to come in the following months. Each book is 40–50 pages long and jam-packed with content for that class.

A Series is Born…

So what prompted these books? Well, it was a series of conversations with fifth edition players and people who’d been having a sniff at Pathfinder (this all started before Pathfinder Second Edition came out). And the one thing that seemed to connect all of these experienced players (most had been playing for a few years) was that they felt tied down to the options given in the Player’s Handbook. For example, the barbarian only has two standard options in the PHB: Path of the Berserker and Path of the Totem Warrior.

When I started toying with the idea of various characters from fiction and myth, it struck me that it was a very limited view of what the barbarian could be. So, one evening, I sat down and started brainstorming — to see which fictional characters would fulfill the criteria of a barbarian, but who wouldn’t necessarily fit within those two paths. Rather quickly I had a long list of characters ranging from Conan (the classic barbarian, who you could, at a squeeze, fit into the Berserker, but who was really more of the “noble savage” type), Achilles (the warrior who could not be damaged), all the way over to more esoteric characters like Mr. Hyde (from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) or He-Man.

The idea of more barbarian paths was born, and I set a few goals for these. There had to be something new and unique to each path (this wasn’t so much of an issue for the Barbarian and Bard, but we’ll get to the Cleric), and I wanted there to be a plethora of options. So, my shortlist ended up being 15 different, and new, paths, all with new and unique powers.

That got me wondering: where do these people come from? Again, there are a number of backgrounds in the Player’s Handbook, but some of the character tropes that you typically see for barbarians weren’t covered, so the book ended up with 5 new backgrounds too. Of course, that got me thinking about races and equipment, until I eventually had a full book on my hands.

When The Barbarian was released, one of the first questions I got was “So, what other classes are you doing? Can I have X?” While I’d originally intended The Barbarian to be a once-off thing, I started digging into various classes and found that a lot of them had the same issue that the barbarian did, that there simply wasn’t that much choice to be had in how you made your character (the bard for example, also only has two options in the PHB, the College of Lore and the College of Valor). I realized that all of the classes, in one form or another, are a bit underserved with the options in the core books.

Now you’ll see that I’ve specifically mentioned the amount of paths/colleges available to the barbarian and bard, but that was not the issue facing the cleric. The cleric has 7 domains to choose from, but you’ll notice that a LOT of the powers are recycled or reskinned versions of each other — and DAMMIT, I want my character to be unique, not just a copy-paste of another domain. It bothered me a lot (and The Cleric took me a lot longer to write than The Barbarian and The Bard) as I wanted each domain to not only have unique powers but also to feel like they belong in a fantasy setting. This gave birth to The Cleric, and it’s 15 new domains, all tied to mythology and the existing pantheons in D&D, and all with unique powers that only they have.

In essence, I want to give you, the player, the option to make the character YOU want to make, not just the one intended by the writers of the Player’s Handbook, while maintaining the accessibility of fifth edition.

You can find The Barbarian, The Bard, and The Cleric, on the DMs Guild.