Tag Archives: Dungeons & Dragons

The Mincy — Undersea Sourcebook Monster

All mouth and stomach, the mincy masher is a tiny aberration that’s terrorizing the ocean’s currents. Let’s take a look at this bite-sized D&D monster.

Sea Monster Title Image

The Undersea Sourcebook for Dungeons & Dragons 5e is a collection of player and GM options for running ocean-themed adventures. Subscribe for free weekly sea monsters and monthly encounters, right in your inbox.

Last week subscribers visited the Crystal Caves for adventure #1. Now that we’re in February, we have three new monsters (including the mincies) and adventure #2 in the works. Don’t miss out, subscribe.

Mincy

This tiny disk-shaped creature is nothing but a ring of sharp teeth spinning around a miniature black hole. With an insatiable appetite and the ability to consume anything, mincies are a minute menace that plague the deeps.

Mincy mashers, or mincies, have a rudimentary physiology adapted to consuming anything that fits within their small mouths. Sharp teeth, a hard shell, and a sensory organ that allows it to see rotate around a miniature black hole — the mincy’s digestive system. Scholars have proposed that anything that enters a mincy must end up somewhere, but the total oblivion of the matter is more likely. How this sustains the mincy is unknown, though it has been recorded that the black hole winks out of existence when a mincy dies.

Mincies are usually solitary hunters, but can gather in great numbers when food is plentiful in an area. They often congregate in powerful currents, where they pull water and anything else through themselves to remain stationary. They care little about anything other than eating, and even reproduce by consuming each other.

Most intelligent undersea creatures hate mincy mashers, which they refer to as floating stomachs, and will drive them off or kill them if they can. Sahuagin play a cruel game with mincies, in which players attach these creatures to their skin in turns, to see who can withstand the pain the longest.

Mincy — Undersea Monster 4

 

Are you interested in knowing what inspired the mincy? This photo of an arctic lamprey and talking about portable holes and bags of holding.


Merfolk — Undersea Sourcebook Monster

Lithe, human-like hunters glide through the water, their athletic bodies propelled by strong, piscine tails. These are merfolk, the princes and princesses of the sun-touched sea.

Merpeople are a common addition in any Bestiary or Monster Manual, but we thought the 5e version could use an update, so here we have a new merfolk build for your game of D&D 5e.

Sea Monster Title Image

The Undersea Sourcebook for Dungeons & Dragons 5e is a collection of player and GM options for running ocean-themed adventures. Subscribe for free weekly sea monsters and monthly encounters, right in your inbox.

More Monsters! Check out the Concussive Clam and Grindylow.

Merfolk, Saltwater

Fey touched, merfolk possess an unnatural beauty and grace, which complements their beautiful singing. Despite the legends surrounding them, merfolk seldom entice sailors to their doom. Unfortunately, their beguiling traits have earned merfolk the distrust of land-going peoples. In reality, merfolk prefer to use their enchanting singing to lure sailors away from their territories.

Merfolk dwell throughout the oceans of the world, though they seldom live far from the reach of the sun. They do not like settling close to land-dwellers and prefer uncharted waters off major trade routes. Merpeople often live in great coral cities which may comprise a chain of small islands on the surface.

Mermaids and mermen cultivate crops of shellfish, seaweed, and kelp, domesticate many varieties of fish, including dolphins and orcas, and trade with other peoples when they are on peaceful terms with them. They have a long and bitter history of war with sahuagin, who are known to raid merfolk settlements and enslave merfolk.

Saltwater merfolk are the most common variety of merpeople, while brine , arctic , deep , and freshwater varieties have also been sighted by explorers.

 

Merfolk D&D Stats

 

What special abilities would you like to see freshwater varieties of this monster sporting? How about arctic mermaids?  Let us know, in the comments below.


Grindylow — Undersea Sourcebook

“Sucker marks on the tavern windows, salt water in the ale, and squid ink on the floor. Yip, a sure sign that you’ve got a grindylow infestation.” Let’s take a look at this classic D&D monster.

Sea Monster Title Image

The Undersea Sourcebook for Dungeons & Dragons 5e is a collection of player and GM options for running ocean-themed adventures. Subscribe for free weekly sea monsters and monthly encounters, right in your inbox.

Grindylow

Grindylow are an aquatic subspecies of goblin. They have bulbous heads, sharp teeth, and dextrous tentacles that are constantly poking around and grabbing things. Legend says that the first grindylow was a goblin cutthroat who attempted to drown a merciless wizard in a bog. The mage cursed the goblin and his spawn to dwell in the swamps and marshes of the world as half-octopus mutants.

Grindylow are cunning hunters with a fondness for kidnapping, thieving, and drowning. Most grindylow live in small tribes in stagnant water, usually close to travel routes and hunting trails.

Ocean-dwelling grindylow are a subspecies that live in tribes along cavernous reefs, in shipwrecks, and kelp forests, never too far from land.

Of all goblinoids, grindylow have the strongest ties to the lands of Faerie, and their bogs often conceal dank routes into the land of the Fay. Although they will protect these portals if they must, their true role is often as scouts and lackeys of the more powerful Fay on the edge of whose domain they dwell.

Undersea Sourcebook Monster 2: Grindylow

 

Find a new monster, next week. We’re bringing you three new monsters a month, one a week for the first three weeks, and then a complete D&D encounter.

Is there a sea monster from lore you’d like us to build, or an idea for a creature you’d like us to play with? Maybe you’ve got an idea for using the grindylow in your own campaign. Let us know, in the comments below.


This monster uses the OGL.

Concussive Clam — Undersea Sourcebook

With an ear-piercing clap, the concussive clam snaps shut and rockets backward, out of reach. Check out this new D&D monster.

Sea Monster Title Image

The Undersea Sourcebook for Dungeons & Dragons 5e is a collection of player and GM options for running ocean-themed adventures. Subscribe for free weekly sea monsters and monthly encounters, right in your inbox.

Concussive Clam

These shell-armoured molluscs burrow in river and ocean beds and can also be found clinging to tidal rocks or the hulls of large ocean-going ships. When attacked, they use their powerful shell to create a deafening blast that shoots them backwards, away from danger.

Concussive clams are also known as clap clams, slam shells, or crack jacks. They are found in cold and warm oceans, at great depths as well as in shallow freshwater rivers.

Concussive clams live in colonies, but can occasionally be found alone. They are particularly tasty and those divers who make a living harvesting them are often hard of hearing.

Concussive Clam D&D Stats

In the next two weeks we’ve got two more monsters coming your way, including one iconic sea creature and the tentacled goblins of the sea, then a 1st-level encounter in the Crystal Caves featuring the new editions and the concussive clams. Here’s an initial design for the caves that didn’t make the cut:

Coral Caves 39x35 Map
Pretty, but we prefer hand-drawn maps, so this got scrapped early.

Have you got any ideas for using concussive clams in your game? Do you have a sea monster you’d like us to design or redesign? Let us know, in the comments below.

So, You’d Like to Read More, Would You?

Be sure to check out our roundup post for last month’s “No Dice” RPG Blog Carnival. We also recommend our State of the Phoenix post from the end of 2022.

Till the next monster arrives, have a good one. See you on the high seas!


RPG Blog Carnival Roundup — No Dice

That’s it, folks. 2022 is done, and 2023 is here. Who knows what the year will bring, but we wish you the wisdom and courage to ride the storms and opportunities that come your way. With the end of the year comes the final RPG Blog Carnival roundup of 2022, as we wrap up the topic “No Dice“. Here’s what some of the best RPG bloggers around the world had to say on the topic:

To Roll or Not to Roll, part 1

Mike Bourke of Campaign Mastery expertly breaks down the various kinds of die rolls common to most RPGs. You might expect — from that short intro — a boring treatise on stuff you already know, but what Mike has created here is a master class that unpacks many of the core aspects of telling a story with dice that I have not seen any other resource cover. That includes books on game design.

For example, I found his explanation of attention and awareness mind-opening and equipping — there’s far more to a Perception roll than I ever thought possible. If a die roll is a GM’s tool, then Mike’s post offers a better understanding of how those tools work, when they work, and why they work.

There’s more to his post than I’ve covered here, so have a read of To Roll or Not to Roll, part 1.

To Roll or Not to Roll, part 2

Mike’s second article explores when to avoid rolling, and how this allows GMs to keep the story going. As with part 1, this article is another master class for GMs, but then his site is called Campaign Mastery. Read To Roll or Not to Roll, part 2.

Nod Ice

RPG Wandering visited the land of Nod and brought some icy scenes to inspire your next campaign. I like how they played with the theme for the month and painted intriguing winter scenes that built a world. Read Nod Ice on the RPG Wandering blog.

No Dice

James of Hereticwerks looked at diceless RPGs, providing lists of these games on various TTRPG web stores, then offered up some examples of his past campaigns where they did away with some rolling. Read No Dice on the Hereticwerks blog.

Thank you to all who contributed to the RPG Blog Carnival this month, it was a great month!

Flaming Holiday Sale

It’s our birthday, and we have two sales underway:

The Flaming Birthday Bundle: 15 publications for only $25, on Drive Thru RPG.

The Flaming Sale on Itch.IO: 10 publications for only $20.

Flaming Birthday Bundle Cover

Remember, you can find all of our RPG products on our product page. This includes supplements for Dungeons & Dragons, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and many stand-alone tabletop RPGs.

Have a wonderful 2023!


The State of the Phoenix – 2022

Every year we learn and adapt. In 2022 we returned to our grassroots and applied those lessons to great effect. Here’s what Rising Phoenix Games got up to in 2022.

Early in the year, I finished developing TTRPGs for d20pfsrd.com Publishing with the release of the Pathfinder Second Edition version of the Eldryn character supplement and Artful Dodgers (which, alongside Masters of the Occult: Play Manga d20 is my best works for the company). Leaving them allowed me to commit more time to freelancing and to Rising Phoenix Games.

Freelancing remains the best way for me to learn the art, science, and business of TTRPG production, so it’s one pillar of the business.

The GrimDark Pamphlet Banner

For Rising Phoenix specifically, our goal was to focus on the Grimdark Pamphlet and Undersea Sourcebook series, complete Three Stone Stories, and begin work on a larger solo RPG product that will eventually form the core of our business. All have progressed nicely:

  1. Three Stone Stories is out and on its way to earning its Copper Seller medal. It has two 4-star ratings so far.
  2. With the release of Undersea Sourcebook: Water Magic we are halfway through the development of the series. We’ll probably focus on the monster book next, which I’ve done a substantial amount of development work on already.
  3. The Grimdark Pamphlet is progressing well, and we’ll return to it in 2023 after some freelance work in early 2023.
  4. Our larger solo project is top-secret for now, so I can’t say much.

In refocusing we’ve let a few games go, including several miniature skirmish games that we’re selling off to larger publishers. There are also a few paused projects, which we’ll sit on until the time is right.

Mayas & Dungeons and Camp Karate

Some opportunities are worth grabbing with both sets of talons, and we had two great opportunities this year.

In March I was asked to develop a small game to promote JAST USA on April 1st, and this became Mayas & Dragons, a small (and free) print-and-play solo dungeon crawl.

In July we participated in Drive-Thru RPG’s ZineQuest, creating Camp Karate. It was a great opportunity to get eyes on our products, and we remained within the top 8 entries for all of August.

Camp Karate RPG

The Fat Long Tail

One pleasant surprise was our 5e Madness Cards making more sales this year than in all of 2020 and 2021. I added a PDF version for home printing after a customer’s request on Drive-Thru (thank you, Lee). We’ll be adding a version of the Pathfinder Second Edition Madness Cards for home printing in 2023.

Goals for 2023

Next year will be more of the same:

  1. Develop the Grimdark Pamphlet, according to the roadmap.
  2. Develop the Undersea Sourcebook monster book.
  3. Take part in ZineQuest if possible.
  4. Develop our Solo RPG master plan (mwahaha).

We’ll be moving away from social media in the same way we pulled back from the blog, but there’s still time to snag a book from our latest contest:

Have an amazing holiday season and a happy 2023!

Yomi, The Japanese Land of the Dead

Yomi is the Japanese land of the dead. It was mentioned in the ancient Kojiki, a collection of myths and legends purportedly composed in the 8th century. In Yomi, the dead live out a muted, eternal existence, regardless of their past deeds.

RPG Blog Carnival

It’s Orktober… ahem… October, and that means time for another RPG Blog Carnival. This month’s carnival is hosted by our good buddy Kim, over at Beyond the Horizon Games (he also plays Orks). The topic for October is “Worldbuilding“, which is serendipidious since that was exactly what we were looking at in our latest edition of the newsletter.

Campaigns in Yomi

We must always be respectful when setting games in places that are significant to others. We must go as respectful travelers, realizing that we are journeying into a land that others understand better than we do. This short guide can only introduce you to the world of Yomi, but its lore is truly vast, so it might be the perfect inspiration for your own campaign.

Yomi is more like Limbo or the Shadow Plane in Pathfinder than Hell. People do not go there because of their sins or lack of faith, they go there because it is the next step of their journey. People do not usually return from Yomi after they have feasted in Yomi, but that probably won’t stop your players from trying.

Yomi is both a land of shadows and corruption. You might find people covered in maggots or pass through a stranger like a ghost. Yomi is as cold as a tomb, but its residents seem only dimly aware of the cold. The rain hardly ever falls on crops unless it floods the land, the wind never moves ships unless it throws them against the rocks, and the sun is forever pale and powerless.

The responsibilities you had in life might remain in death, but they are no easier. A farmer might work a field that grows only rotting rice, or a baker might put bread into an oven that never gets hot enough for cooking. Emperors still reign, but they too must suffer the entropy that pervades Yomi, as their kingdom falls apart no matter what brilliant decrees they might enforce.

Travelers wandering through Yomi navigate by landmarks rather than distances. While two places might be considered “close” to each other, their true distance is in constant flux. A journey might take a day or a month, and a traveler that strays from their course is doomed to wander aimlessly until they discover a known landmark.

NPCs from Yomi

The Tetsuakuto and other NPCs will appear in the Grimdark Pamphlet.

Tetsuakuto (Iron Bandit)

Encased in black iron plate, tetsuakuto wear hideous menpo face masks bearing octopus designs.

The Tetsuzaku, or Iron Bandits, were feared outlaws that menaced major trade routes throughout the Empire. When they were finally captured they were boiled alive in their iron plate before being offered to a kami of the ocean cliffs. Through some occult bargain, they returned from Yomi to plague those who live near the sea, before returning back to the lands of the dead.


Tetsuakuto

Medium undead, lawful evil

Armor Class 18 (plate)
Hit Points 76 (8d8 + 40)
Speed 30 ft.
  STR
  DEX
  CON
  INT
  WIS
  CHA
  18 (+4)   12 (+1)   16 (+3)   10 (+0)   14 (+2)   12 (+1)
Saving Throws Con +5
Skills Athletics +6

Damage Immunities cold
Condition Immunities frightened
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages Common
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)

Undead Fortitude. If damage reduces the tetsuakuto to 0 hit points, it must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5 + the damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, the tetsuakuto drops to 1 hit point instead.

Actions

Multiattack. The tetsuakuto makes two attacks with its naginata.
Naginata. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8 + 4) slashing damage. On a successful hit, the target must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity save or fall prone.

Reactions

Spike Rake. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d4 + 4) slashing damage.

Three Stone Stories: Solo Narrative Roleplay is here!

Three Stone Stories Cover

Your Greatest Tale

Three Stone Stories is a solo narrative role-playing game where you’re the Storyteller.
Tell heroic tales using your own imagination, these rules, and three regular six-sided dice.

Roll the Stones,
Determine the Will of the Dice,
Choose your Destiny.

It’s Your Story

The full 64-page book, including several adventure chronicles, tips for getting the most out of the game, and D6 generators is available wherever we sell the game, and you can get it from Drive Thru RPG for 20% off using this coupon code.


Can We Improve RPG Leveling Systems?

Look at me, killing monsters for wealth and XP! Experience points (Exp or XP) are a great reward for players and a fun part of the game (it’s all fun though, right?). But do they really do their job? Can we build better RPG leveling systems that include roleplaying?

Void Dragonborn

Leveling up with XP is a staple of the genre and games like D&D and Pathfinder would lose much of their playability without it. Imagine being level 1, forever!  Each new level gives you more options and lets you fight bigger monsters and face more dangerous challenges. But has anything really changed for your character? Hasn’t the bar just moved? Has the character’s experience of the world really changed them at all?

Before I sound too much like a jaded grognard, I’m not saying that the system’s broken. It doesn’t need fixing. But what if the system incorporated character development? What if your character didn’t just become more powerful, but their outlook changed and they grew in their understanding of the world?

The Mouse Guard RPG and Marvel Heroic Roleplay both tie mechanics to your character’s goals, and I’ll bet there are a ton of other systems that do too. How does it work? Basically, you gain some penalty or bonus (or both) when your character’s goal or flaw comes into play. These goals or flaws often change at the end of a session or when you level up your character.

In D&D, we have ideals, bonds, and flaws, but they’re not linked to level progression. With One D&D recently announced, are we likely to see that change? What might an ideals-based leveling system look like?

An Ideals-Based RPG Leveling Systems

Instead of (or in conjunction with) using inspiration in your D&D games, players earn experience points when they play to or against their ideals. You can award XP according to four tiers linked to the XP Thresholds by Character Level table in the Dungeon Master’s Guide (Chapter 3). For example, a minor use of an ideal, for a 6th level character, you might only award 300 XP. Going against their ideal that causes major consequences might, in contrast, be worth 1,400 XP to the same character.

This XP is awarded only at the end of the session, and could be divided between the players to ensure nobody is too many levels ahead of the rest. In essence, while one character might have had a significant moment of personal growth (or regression), their whole party is affected and learns from it.

This isn’t rocket science, so I’ll be surprised if GMs aren’t already doing something similar. Let me know.

RPG Blog Carnival

A big “thank you” to Adventures to Authenticity for hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival. This month’s topic is “Character Development”,  so head on over there to see all the great articles submitted by the community.

Camp Karate Goes Copper

Camp Karate, our game of hot-blooded dramatic roleplay, is now a copper seller on Drive Thru RPG. To celebrate, we’ve got a special discount link for you, so you can join in the action. Haya!

Camp Karate RPG

5e Madness Cards for Home Printing

We’ve added a PDF version of our Madness Cards for 5e to Drive Thru RPG, so you can print them at home. We still think the POD option is better, but here’s a discount link if you want the PDF.

Madness Cards Set
Just look at the prettiness! You get two sets of the cards in a nice tuck box if you order the POD version.

That’s all from me for today, have an amazing weekend.

Rodney

Dragon Rep: The Top Tier PR of Dragons

Dragons get good public relations (PR) these days.

It’s easy to forget that dragons used to be the embodiment of evil. They were the Serpent, Satan in the garden of Eden and the Book of Revelation. You know that Vecna guy? Dragons were worse.

These days the public image of dragons is more varied.

I was watching trailers for upcoming movies the other day and was surprised to see how many of them had dragons in them. Some inclusions made sense; the Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves trailer has two (a black and a red). House of the Dragon… that’s easy…

Then there was Shazam! Fury of the Gods and The Sandman. I’m not so familiar with either franchise, but I didn’t expect to see dragons here. I realized that it was time to get educated, so I picked up The Sandman, Volume 1. I’ll let you know when the dragon appears.

Even Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has what looks like an Aztec representation of a dragon, seen just briefly on screen.

So, dragons are really popular, but is that just in the circles I hang out in? There’s even a mod for Stray that lets you play as Spyro the Dragon. I think that just points to the fact that dragons intrigue us. Ever since our ancestors first picked up a dinosaur bone, we’ve been fascinated with scaled giants.

The RPG Blog Carnival and Dragon Fire

In July, this fascination came home. We hosted the RPG Blog Carnival with the topic “Here Be Dragons“, and here’s what our friends had to say about our fire-breathing friends:

Kim Frandsen of Beyond the Horizon Games talked about Wyrms of the North, a series of articles that ran in Dragon Magazine from 1996 to 1999. He says (and I agree) that the history — the story — behind each dragon is an important part of what makes them work at the table.

In his second article, Kim introduced Patina, a copper dragon with a grudge. Here’s an excellent campaign idea for your table, based around an intriguing creature. This isn’t a simple “slay the monster, get the gold” adventure idea either, and I love that.

Kim’s third article opened up dragons in a big way. I even consider this article a must-read for Pathfinder 2e and Dungeons & Dragons 5e GMs looking to run a campaign featuring dragons, as it deals with some aspects not covered in the core rules. Dragons are Dangerous, and Kim has done some work to ensure they play that way at the table.

Finally, Gonz at Codex Anathema created a dragon-focused campaign based on three one-shots he ran. The article is written in Spanish, but Google Translate in Chrome will get you there in a jiffy! The players get to meet phoenixes during their adventures, so we’re big fans already. And oh, it gets better from there. Give it a read.

Thank you to everyone who contributed this last month, and to everyone who joined us along the way.

Before we go, I’d love to hear from you. Who is your favorite dragon? What setting are they from and why do you like them? My favorite is Niv-Mizzet from the Magic: the Gathering TCG, because who doesn’t love making things go boom?

Just Out

We just released Camp Karate: Hot-Blooded Dramatic Roleplay, a new little indie RPG. We loved making it and we think you’ll enjoy playing it. Check it out.


The Hot RPG Sale — July 2022

We have the Hot RPG Sale, with massive deals, coming all July long! Remember, newsletter subscribers get to hear about special offers first.

Remember also to check out the RPG Blog Carnival, Here Be Dragons, which we’re hosting this month. It’s full of great dragon-inspired content and ideas for your next campaign.

30%-Off Coupons

All of these titles are 30% off, this July only. Click on the title to apply the coupon to your order on Drive-Thru RPG or the DM’s Guild:

Fifth Edition OGL and Dungeons & Dragons

Monster Books:

Griffins – A Field Guide
Phoenixes of the Realms

Solo Adventures:

Welcome to Scarthey (D&D)
Death Queen & the Life Stone
Forest of Secrets
Companionable Darkness

Undersea Sourcebooks:

Undersea Sourcebook: Race & Class
Undersea Sourcebook: Feats & Equipment
Undersea Sourcebook: Mutants & Mariners

Aurora’s Whole Realms Seasonal Catalogues:

Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue
Aurora’s Whole Realms Autumn Catalogue
Aurora’s Whole Realms Spring Catalogue
Aurora’s Whole Realms Christmas Catalogue

Feywild Guide:

The Adventurer’s Guide to Fey Magic

Pathfinder RPG (Second Edition)

Heaven & Hell (Alternate ancestries and options)

Pathfinder RPG (First Edition)

Monster Books:

Phoenixes – A Field Guide
Chilling Curiosities

Adventures and Settings:

Lunatic Labyrinth (Solo Adventure)
Welcome to Scarthey (PFRPG) (Sourcebook for our Adventures)
Anaximander’s Adventuring Studies
Dying Dead

Starfinder RPG

Mecha—A Field Guide

Stand-Alone and Unique Systems

Nightscape: Red Terrors
Claustrophobia

Nightscape: Red Terrors RPG Cover

 

Remember, the Hot RPG Sale offers end at the end of July.

Till next time, be the hero!

Rodney Sloan
Rising Phoenix Games