Category Archives: General

Path of the Slayer (Barbarian Primal Path)

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.

Fearless

At 3rd level when you choose this path, you become immune to fear and cannot be frightened.

Bravado

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.

Belly Ripper

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.

Belly Ripper

CR Dexterity saving throw DC

0–3: 13

4: 14

5–7: 15

8–10: 16

11–12: 17

13–16: 18

17–20: 19

21–23: 20

24–26: 21

27–29: 22

30: 23

Slayer’s Armor

Beginning at 10th level, you gain proficiency with heavy armor and can rage while wearing heavy armor.

Goad

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.

Did you like this primal path? Let us know below.

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.

Free Swag and a Choose Your Destiny Play Test

Har har har, me hearties! We’ve got free swag for you. All you need to do is subscribe to our newsletter or back us on Patreon and you’ll get a free copy of Lunatic Labyrinth by next week Friday.

Lunatic Labyrinth Updated - Free Swag

Join Our Playtest

Right now, our Flaming Backers are enjoying a first look at our next Choose Your Destiny adventure called Companionable Darkness. If you back us now there’s still time for you to join in and try out the game before anyone else.

In the Works

Besides the next Choose Your Destiny book, we’re working on the next Aurora’s Catalogue, Nightscape: Red Terrors, and have a new Pathfinder adventure in layout. I’m also dabbling away at a solitaire wargame, which I hope to tell you about soon.

Our biggest project is the ocean-themed book we’re doing for the DMG, which I’ll dive into writing for again next week (and yes, I love puns). The book is already well over 10,000 words and covers a lot of ground.

Have an awesome 2019!

Arr, This Blog Be Ours Now!!!

Avast, me hearties!

This here blog now belongs to us, to do with as our black heart’s desire! You might say, we’ve commandeered it — it’s a nautical term.

Walking the Plank: originally published in Pyle, Howard (August–September 1887). “Buccaneers and Marooners of the Spanish Main”. Harper’s Magazine. (We may be pirates, but credit where credit is due.)

The Captain’s Blog Log

Look here, matie, we’ve scrounged below deck and hauled up the captain’s log. 2018 was a good year for this blog, I say:

Blog stats - 2018

But now things will be different, just you wait and see. Hoist the Jolly Roger and join our crew (or walk the plank).

Update: Oi, what’s this mutiny?! We found this message in a bottle, dropped by those scurvy dogs we left adrift at sea!

– Two Finger’s Megee

Summer Christmas Adventures

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is, like in the Northern Hemisphere, a time of family, relaxation, and lots of food. The Oliphant in the room is the very European aesthetic to the celebrations we have here. Mistletoe, snowflakes, skiing Christmas decorations, and snowmen — even though we’re spending our December by the pool. So, if you’re sick of winter, you’ve had it with snowflakes, or you’re enjoying summer in your corner of the world too, here’s our guide to summer Christmas adventures — a mishmash of adventure seeds in the sun and surf for your RPG campaign.

Summer Christmas Adventures
Image credit: Frank Mckenna

Sun & Surf Adventure Seeds

  • A sand elemental is terrorizing the coastline. The locals have dubbed the creature “Sandy Claws.”
  • A selkie druid in human guise seeks help rescuing her cubs from a sahuagin hunting party, deep below the waves.
  • An ancient bronze dragon brings toys and gifts to the local children every summer solstice. The gnomes that usually help him make the toys have run into a problem…
  • A ship disappeared from port during the night, along with its crew. In its place is a strange island of sand. Some say it was the curse of a genie.
  • A whale swallows the adventurers after capsizing their boat.
  • The legendary ningyo has been sighted by pearl divers off the coast. Capturing one of these creatures could bring a handsome reward.
  • An ominous statue is discovered during an unusually low tide. News of the discovery spreads quickly, and nefarious forces are moving to acquire it.
  • A mysterious spell is slowly turning the surface of the sea to glass.
  • An island appears off the coast. When explored, it’s found to be a forgotten temple on the back of an enormous sea turtle.
  • The rising tide brings unusual creatures onto the land.
  • The adventurer’s ship is captured by pirates and burned. The PCs are given a choice: join the pirate crew or walk the plank.
  • An ancient city rises from the ocean.
  • The party discovers a tunnel that leads deep beneath Waterdeep. In a water-filled chamber, they find a massive clockwork crab lying in its berth. Portholes and a hatch indicate something of its intended purpose.
  • A sailor reports having seen a giant undead whale.
  • A coastal town floods during the night. In the morning, the citizens discover that the graves of the town have been emptied.
  • The PCs discover an open portal in the ocean, which draws water through. The portal brings the water to a thriving desert city, but endangers ocean inhabitants.
  • An underwater ritual opens a portal to the Elemental Plane of Water, through which a giant sea monster passes to terrorize the Mortal Realm.

More Summer Christmas Adventures

Looking for more summer goodies? Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue has a vast collection of thematic items that will add flavor to your Dungeons & Dragons game, without breaking it.

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.

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.

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.

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.