Category Archives: General

The Gruune — A Spelljammer Race

The Gruune are thickset humanoids that contain the remaining life essence of a decimated plant. Meet them today, as we continue our Spelljammer-inspired magical adventures in space.

Descendants of Shattered Stars

Aeons ago, a distant planet shattered under the might of a cosmic convergence of magical energy. Although that galactic event decimated millions of species, it birthed a unique race of creatures. The gruune were created from the remaining life essence of the planet by an arcane anomaly that bound the life essence to space-bound matter. Since that event, the gruune have appeared on countless planets far from their original home. Despite the great divide in time and distance, all gruune share a collective memory of their home planet.

Now, the gruune are star farers and stewards of life who work tirelessly to protect life from the ravages of magic.

Gruune

Gruune Traits

Your gruune character is robust and strong. It has the following traits.
Ability Score Increase. Your  Dexterity score increases by 2, and your Strength score increases by 1.
Age. You reach full maturity at the age of 180 years. Gruune have no known upper age limit.
Ageless. You cannot age, even magically, and don’t gain any frailty from old age.
Alignment. Gruune are the gardeners of the galaxy, sowing life wherever they go. Most gruune are good or neutral. Evil gruune wither and die within weeks. Most gruune are chaotic.
Gender. The gruune are genderless but go through seasons of sprouting flowers that are sexed. There is no apparent pattern to these sproutings, and, since the gruune do not reproduce, their use is unknown.
Size. Gruune range from just over 5 feet to well over 6 feet tall, and most are robustly built, with limbs as thick as tree trunks. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Immortality. You are imbued with magical energy that sustains your life force but also alters your susceptibility to restorative magic. After you die, you are resurrected as through a true resurrection spell, for which you do not need to pay the casting cost. Because of this magical immortality, your body cannot be affected by any other type of resurrection effect, including wish. When you die a second time, your body is obliterated and 1 to 3 new gruune are born, somewhere in space.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Elven.
Sprout. You can, as an 8-hour ritual, sprout a 10-foot square area of plants on a surface. These plants are imbued with your residual life essence and can grow without sustenance, including water or air. After a month, the plant patch reaches 20-feet square, is 5-feet high, and can support itself. After another month, the plant patch reaches its maximum size of 40-feet-square, the plants within it are 10 feet high, and it can support itself and up to six Medium-sized creatures.
Spell Damage Resistance. When you gain this trait, choose one of the following damage types: acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder. You have resistance to damage of this kind from spells. Other sources of this damage affect you normally.

Spelljammer Sale!

All month long, the DM’s Guild is running a sale on Starjammer products. Looking for another Spelljammer race to add to your party, or a space-themed adventure? They’ve got plenty to choose from.

Spelljammer DMG Sale

May is All About Adventures in Space!

We’re hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival, right here, on Rising Phoenix Games. Be sure to check in there and follow the blog for more content on the theme “adventures in space”. Check back at the end of the month too, because I’ll post a roundup of articles from RPG bloggers across the spheres.

Grimmer, Darker D&D Classes — The Witch

Hail, Adventurer!

Quick, roll for initiative!
Here’s what we’ve been up to in the past few months.

Get Dark with The Grimdark Pamphlet

The Grimdark Pamphlet is growing bigger every month. Our last updates included the penitent and black rider classes, as well as a primer on the campaign world of Azuria, the Tarnished Jewel. Remember, if you buy the book you’ll get updates whenever we release new grimdark content for D&D.

We’re currently working on the witch class, an alternate class for the warlock. What’s the difference? The warlock relies heavily on their pact with an otherworldly being, but the witch makes no such alliances. Rather, the witch dabbles with occult truths drawn from a wide number of otherworldly patrons and passed on through their coven. The witch will include special rules for magic brooms and cauldrons, which will all be included in The Grimdark Pamphlet when we release the next update.

Painting the Pile!

Your pile of shame — all those unpainted minis — shouldn’t keep you down. We’ve been working on new paint schemes to help you paint more Space Marines and Genestealers, quickly and with a great end result. These same schemes can be applied to many fantasy figures too, so they’re worth learning, no matter what you paint or play. You can check out previews of what I’ve done on CoolMiniOrNot, and check out all existing Mini Monday posts, on the blog.

Three Stone Stories

I know many of you are waiting on news about Three Stone Stories, our unique solo roleplaying system. The game has come out of playtesting and editing finished this week, so next up is layout. There’s a good chance that we’ll take the book to Kickstarter then, because a simple truth about RPG publishing is that you have to have a strong launch. We’ll still send out copies of the game to newsletter subscribers, as promised.

Till Next Time, Be The Hero


Dr Fate #8 (1988) — When Comics Almost Hook You

DC’s Dr Fate #8 is next on our radar for some raw reviewing. And oh, what a ride. A lot like the taxi ride between airports, in a foreign country. Confusing, frustrating, and enticing.

Dr Fate 8

Here’s the gist of these reviews: I grab a random comic, give it a read, then tell you about it. So let’s do it. Grab onto something!

The Good

Esoteric adventures, body possession, undead beings, the cosmic balance in the… erm… balance, and a hero trying to learn to control her powers. These are some of the reasons why I love comics, and they’re all here.

The Bad

Comic creators have learned that their readers have very short attention spans, and often a reader is jumping into a comic series after the beginning. None of those usual ploys they use to keep readers in the loop are evident here, so I was confused. There’s so much going on here that you feel like it’s all-important, as if you’re a five-year-old listening to an astronaut explain the physics of rockets.

And Now, an Ad Break

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Visit J-List - Your Favorite Online Shop and Friend in Japan

The Meh

The art and colour work isn’t noteworthy, but that cover, wow. Dr. Fate delivers heaps of emotion in this cover, and it got me interested in the cover’s series as a whole. Some very unique pieces, for sure, but that’s not enough to get me to buy into this series.

In the end, I know there’s something cool going on here, but I’m not going to put effort into finding it, because there’s just so much more to read. If you are a Dr Fate fan, though, please sound off in the comments. I’d love to hear your thought’s on the series.

Overall, 3 out of 5 Chibi-Cthulhu!

3 Cheeky Cthulhus

 

Let’s Go Solo with Pathfinder 2e — A Quickstart

There are loads of reasons to play RPGs alone, from avoiding the plague to testing out homebrew rules, or just for the fun of focusing on a single hero’s story. These days, there’s a huge number of tools and adventures for the solo player. We’re going to look at some of the intricacies of roleplaying solo with Pathfinder 2e.

December is Fun for One!

No, I’m not being a Grinch. I mean that the RPG Blog Carnival is parked here this month, and we’re talking Fun for One. That can mean all sorts of things, not just about solo gaming specifically. Go check out the host page, and be sure to check the comments for more posts on the topic. You can even add your own, so why not join us?

rpg blog carnival logo

Now, back to going solo with Pathfinder 2e.

The Core Appeal of Solo Play

Playing a game alone is usually fun for very different reasons that make a group game fun.

Solo games can present a puzzle for you, and you alone, to solve. In this sense, every combat encounter becomes a puzzle: how do I defeat the enemy without losing too many resources (Hit Points are one resource, after all).

Solo TTRPGs are very introspective, and you can enjoy the time alone with the character and their story in a uniquely intimate way. I love writing stories for exactly the same reason, and it’s probably why solo adventures intrigue me.

You might enjoy your solo experiences in other ways too, and here’s the point: understand that solo play is fun for a different reason and play your game to maximize that experience.

Solo Pathfinder 2e Encounters

Let’s take encounters and think about them as puzzles some more. How do we get more of a tactical challenge from encounters, if we’re a solo player?

XP Budget and Character Adjustment

In a solo game, the XP Budget is the Character Adjustment. See XP Budget, in the Game Mastering chapter of the Pathfinder Second Edition Core Rulebook. In other words:

XP Budget for Solo Play
Trivial – 10 XP or less
Low – 15 XP
Moderate – 20 XP
Severe – 30 XP
Extreme – 40 XP

This XP Budget limits what you can throw at your hero, especially if your hero is 1st or 2nd level. You might consider playing a 3rd level character right out the gate to make up for this. Otherwise, you’ll be serving up Moderate to Extreme encounters until you gain a level.

Random Monsters and Generated Dungeons

Completely random tables aren’t going to provide good synergies for building meaningful encounters. Instead, take a look at the maps, map tiles, and monster miniatures you have. What interesting combinations can you build from those?

I’ve already spoken here about building dungeons as a way to invent encounters,  where you put yourself in the role of Dungeon Keeper, using tiles and dungeon scenery as a toy to inspire you.

If you still want to randomize parts of the encounter, then create short, D4 or D6-based lists that let you swap out a few elements of terrain or change up some of the monsters in the encounter. You might have a table for environmental factors, like the level of lightning and if the ground is slippery or not.

Help and Healing

Before you jump into playing the game, decide how deadly you want your game to be. Do you need to keep an NPC handy to cast stabilize, or will you have a magical item that casts raise dead on you whenever you die, up to three times? Will monsters kill your hero if you’re defeated, or will they attempt to heal your hero and keep you as their captive?  

DriveThruRPG.com

Fun for One — RPG Blog Carnival, December ’21

It’s December, and that means Rising Phoenix Games is hosting the RPG Blog Carnival. This month, it’s “Fun for One”. Read on and find out how you can join in on the RPG-flavored action.

‘Tis the Season to be Mental

Aargh! It’s December again! Is the Christmas spirit supposed to be this silly? Is the mad rush of buying gifts worth the heart attack? Any way you paint it, December is always a “special month”, much like mommy’s “special boy” who’s mostly unruly but can have his moments of genuine humanity.

At Rising Phoenix Games, December means gift-giving, hiding toy soldiers in Christmas trees, eating too much chocolate, and hosting RPG Blog Carnival.

rpg blog carnival logo

RPG Blog Carnival and Fun for One

RPG Blog Carnival is hosted by a different blogger every month, throughout the year, with each blogger suggesting a topic for the month. Any RPG blogger can take part by writing about the topic and posting a link in the comments section. You can write as many articles as you like, too, and we’ll compile them all into a roundup that’ll come out around the 1st of 2022. So, if you love reading RPG blogs, this is the place to be, all month long.

Our topic this month is “Fun for One”, and you can swing that any way you like. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Write about a session nobody but the GM enjoyed. It happens! Give us some ideas to help us avoid the same train smash.
  2. Tell us about a game you ran for a friend.
  3. Create a big bad boss for your favorite system. Make sure your creation is tough as nails and hard to take down.
  4. Make some magical items that give a hero plenty of perks, at the expense of a curse on the party.
  5. Write an encounter or short adventure using the theme “Fun for One”. We have loads of cheap stock maps to inspire you.
  6. Make a short RPG for one player, or for one player and a GM. Or write an RPG where every player controls the same character, much like in Everyone is John.
  7. Give us some ideas for turning character creation, which usually is only fun for one, into something the whole group can enjoy together.
  8. Talk about how you handle splitting the party.
  9. Build some diabolical traps that are designed to target one hero only.
  10. Make critical fumbles the most fun thing to roll with new rules that’ll amaze and entertain.

We look forward to seeing those posts rolling in.

Unleash the Power of the Magus

Our friends at d20pfsrd.com Publishing just released Art of Magic: Melee and Magic, which hit Copper Seller in 24 hours. It includes new magus archetypes, feats, magus arcana, and spells. Melee and Magic offers a wide variety of builds for every magus player.

Melee and Magic

The book is compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (first edition) and is $2.99 for 24 pages.

 

Steam Foil Cards Suck

You can’t eat Steam foil cards. They’re not even actually foil. Are they really just a crash grab on Valve’s part?

Steam Foil Cards Suck

PC games have borrowed a lot from tabletop gaming. Take most PC RPGs, which borrow heavily from conventions established by Dungeons & Dragons. Foil cards were made popular with games like Magic: the Gathering and Pokémon.

Sometimes the borrowing makes sense, sometimes it just doesn’t work. In Steam’s case, the “foil” cards are just rarer and have a boring grey border. Considering how easy it would be to add an animation to the art assets, this feels lazy. It also doesn’t add any real benefit to the collector.

DriveThruRPG.com

I have a bunch of great foil cards for Magic, which usually go straight into my favourite decks. They’re a status symbol, but also a nice way that WotC has rewarded me for all that money I’ve thrown their way. I feel no need to collect them, but I enjoy the ones I have for what they are. I have no such feelings for Steam’s foil cards.

MTG Arena has animated “foil” cards, by the way, some of which are very appealing.

foil MTG card

It’s not all that hard to add an animation to a card. You could make an animated shine layer that goes over the image, or add an animated sheen to the border. There are tons of great animation examples on the web that are only as complicated as a gif. Here are a few cheesy ones:

George Redhawk GIF - George Redhawk Surreal GIFs

Golden Rose GIF - Golden Rose GIFs

They’re pretty bad, but they’re not tough to make or run in Steam’s client, and would be a huge improvement on the static image their foil cards have now.

Another Solution

Calling them “foil” cards is really just based on a tabletop convention, so why doesn’t Valve create their own convention? As far as I can tell, Steam cards don’t have any level of rarity, so call them “gold” cards or rares. Call them “Steam-Os” for all we care.

Just don’t call them foil cards.

The Umbrella Academy is a Hammy Cheese-Fest

Do you like ham and cheese? I hope you do. I love ham and cheese. The hammier and cheezier, the better. The Umbrella Academy has both, in equal measure, and it’s a tasty feast… if that’s your sort of thing. Let’s check out the first collection, We dive into The Apocalypse Suite.

The Umbrella Academy

Let me explain, because I might be losing you already. The comic has a murderous Eiffel Tower, a character with a monocle called (you guessed it) The Monocle, and a Murder Bot set to “Careless Brutality”. And that’s why this comic is brilliant.

Comics Too? Cthulhu Logo

The Great

The Umbrella Academy manages to poke fun at superhero comics, while being a part of the family. It never feels like a rip-off of X-Men, even though it’s a hilarious fun-house mirror-image of super-mutant hero teams. That humour is the hammy, cheesy goodness. You’re either going to love it or hate it.

The story’s pace and the depth of the characters were other high points for me. Because most of the story happens after the main characters have passed their prime, the story just wouldn’t have worked if they’d not been well developed. Essentially, you’re getting a story that feels like it exists in a much bigger one, and that the characters have plenty of history left to explore.

More Great Stuff

Gabriel Ba’s art is perfect for The Umbrella Academy because it works with the hammy cheesiness at the soul of this comic. Ba’s art is also grim when it needs to be, sombre when needed, and never confusing. Ba tells a better visual story than many artists who’ve worked for Marvel or DC.

Superheroes - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

The Not so Great

It’s a bit of a weird thing about the comic, but you don’t learn each hero’s power until the mini-comics at the end of this six-comic anthology. Their powers are in the main comic, but Gerard’s subtlety might mean you miss it. Is that a good thing? Does it really matter? Probably not. Maybe that’s there to tell you what kind of story this really is? You decide.

Overall, a great read if you like clever shlock or you’re a fan of the comic book medium. Four out of five Cheeky Cthulhus!

4 out of 5 Cheeky Cthulhus


Guitar Wire for Mini Converting Victory! — MM 51

It’s Mini Monday, and this week I’m going to introduce you to my new favourite kitbashing and converting substance: guitar wire.

Mini Monday Logo

Metal guitar wire, as far as I understand, comes in six thicknesses: thin, thicker… well, you get the picture. What matters is that it has many great properties that make it perfect for miniature conversion and kitbashing work:

  1. It’s wire, so you can bend it and cut it like wire!
  2. It’s tightly wound and won’t uncoil like a spring might.
  3. It’s the perfect thickness for detail work and comes in a variety of thicknesses, so you can use whichever size works best for the job you’re doing.
  4. One string goes a very long way.
  5. Once bent, guitar wire maintains its shape fairly well.
  6. Musicians throw it away when they’re done with it. That’s right, it’s literally free if you know somebody who plays the guitar.

Guitar wire for mini converting

Ask Not What You Can Do For Guitar Wire…

DriveThruRPG.comGuitar wire gets used for pipes and cables mostly (first mini, above), but here are a few more ideas:

  1. Guts! Check out mini number 2, above!
  2. Arms! Mini number 3 had her arm rebuilt with thick guitar wire and modelling epoxy. The original arm was hopelessly too short, but the bendable wire made this an easy fix. I like the ribbed detailing it gives her arm where I left the wire exposed.
  3. Handles! He-Man (yes, he’s finally here!) has an all-new axe with a handle made from our wonder material. This detail alone brings the axe much closer to the toy axe I got with my action figure. Watch out, Beast Man!
  4. Coins! Because they’re so tightly wound, you could use guitar wire to make miniature-size stacks of coins.
  5. Armature Wire! Because it retains its shape after bending, I figure it’ll work well as armature wire — the wire used as a skeleton for modelling clay when making figures.
  6. Joints! Laid horizontally, you could fill gaps in knees or elbows to simulate more complex joints.
  7. Toast! I’ll bet guitar wire makes great toast. Ah, guitar wire…

That’s it. That’s all I have to say. Go get yourself some and give it a try if you’ve never played with it. I promise… this stuff rocks…

Captain Nemo’s Scimitar, a D&D 5e Artifact

Captain Nemo’s scimitar is a powerful artifact that you can add to your undersea Dungeons & Dragons 5e campaign.

Nemo’s Scimitar

Weapon (scimitar), artifact (requires attunement)

The legendary Captain Nemo was a consummate gentleman and an amicable diplomat who made many friends, both above and below the waves. It is said that he counted sphinxes and phoenixes among his closest advisors, and that it is they who helped him build the vessel his name is synonymous with: the Nautilus (see Undersea Sourcebook: Feats and Equipment).

Captain Nemo's Scimitar

While the Nautilus was being completed, a companion blade was forged, a scimitar linked to the vessel by powerful magic. The scimitar would serve as a mark of rank and ownership, while its arcane link to the great vessel would be able to bring the Nautilus back from disaster if their planned journey to the ocean depths ever became too perilous.

Although the scimitar is not required to command or pilot the Nautilus, it is a common misconception that the scimitar is its key, and that the Nautilus would be powerless without it. This misinformation has inspired many of Nemo’s rivals to steal the sword, though none have yet succeeded.



While attuned to the scimitar, you can breathe air or water, have a swimming speed of 30-feet if you don’t have a better swimming speed, and are immune to the effects of extreme cold.

Call the Nautilus. If you are holding the scimitar and are within 120 feet of a body of water big enough to hold it, you can, as an action, call the Nautilus (Underwater Sourcebook: Feats & Equipment). The vessel teleports to your location if it is on the same plane. If the Nautilus has been destroyed, it appears with 1 Hit Point remaining for each of its components. You can’t use this property again until 3 days have passed.

Captain’s Gate. If you are holding the scimitar, you can use your action to cast gate, linking a spot you can see to the captain’s quarters within the Nautilus. You can’t use this ability again until after a long rest.

Conjure Shield Guardian. If you are holding the scimitar, you can use your action to conjure a shield guardian. You can conjure it within 30 feet of you or within the Nautilus. In either case, it is bound to the scimitar, which acts as the shield guardian’s bound amulet. The shield guardian dissipates after 1 hour. You can’t use this ability again until dawn.

Destroying the Scimitar. The only way to destroy the scimitar is to melt it down within an underwater volcano, alongside a power crystal from the Nautilus.

Captain Nemo's Scimitar


Paint Minis While the Sun Shines — MM 50

It’s funny how some things affect others. Take the weather, for instance. Here in South Africa, in the Highveld where Rising Phoenix Games is based, we have dry, hot summers and dry, cool winters. When it rains, painting is magic.

Mini Monday Logo

When it’s dry, which is most of the time, paint doesn’t last long unless you’re using a wet palette. Spray paint, on the other hand, flows well and drys quickly (which is great for second and third coats).

Paint Minis
Have you ever primed with gold? These minis, predominantly from Wrath of Ashardalon, are ready for my next painting session.

The point of this rambly post is simple: make the most of what you’ve got.

Is it raining and great for painting? Then paint. Is it hot and sunny? Maybe spray some minis or build terrain in the shade.

Think about your momentum. Don’t let the weather be an excuse. Don’t let anything be an excuse. Paint what you can, when you can. Adapt and prosper. When life gives you lemons…

You’re bright and intelligent, you don’t need me to mother you, so I’ll stop there and switch to anecdote mode. Draw up a chair, my dears, and listen…

A Tale of Trial and Tribulation

In the last few years, just before Covid, I was painting like a madman. I’d managed to get through loads of Orks and Gretchin, as well as many fantasy miniatures. I’d jumped into the hobby again and was loving it, learning, and gaining huge confidence.

Then Covid threw its proverbial in the proverbial and I had very little time for minis. Chalk this one up to life experiences and learning to appreciate the time you have! But you can’t sweat the small things. If anything, the pandemic took away but also gave. Mini painting became the way to enjoy the hobby, and there were fewer distractions (no kid’s parties, family engagements, or going to the mall to waste time).

So, we’re back here again, at the point. Do what you can with what you have. And that’s not just with painting minis.