“From the Arcane Archive” is a real magical tome

“From the Arcana Archive” by Mage Hand Press
by Ex_Libris85   Twitch   Twitter

Mages, Wizards, Bards, Warlocks, Clerics, Druids, and all other practitioners of the arcane and divine winds! Ever wanted a bit more oomph in your invocations? Need more pizazz in your illusions? Extra mojo in your enchantments? Then I have a book for you!

“From the Arcane Archive” by Mage Hand Press is an OGL supplement for DnD 5th edition and it is the closest you will ever come to a real life wizard’s tome. This book contains hundreds of spells for all the casting classes in DnD 5e, plus a few more custom classes including Mage Hand Press’ own creation the Shugenja.

This book is a wonderful supplement and helps add a lot more utility and, dare I say, humor into 5th edition’s repertoire of a 1000 evocation spells that deal fire damage. Jokes aside, it does help fill a hole that I feel is left by the published WotC material and adds greater depth into spell casting.

One of the nicest things about “Arcane Archive” is that it not only includes spells for the traditional fantasy setting but they are forward thinking enough to add futuristic spells (tailored for Mage Hand Press’ Dark Matter setting) as well as a Renaissance tag for an era that includes rudimentary firearms and a larger scientific presence. These give a lot of flexibility to the GM who wants to create a game that isn’t pigeonholed into a particular setting. Personally I think the futuristic and renaissance tags are good resources for adding spells to my homebrew steampunk world.

 

Here are some interesting spells from the Archive (click to enlarge):

This spell is bananas, I love it. Hack a friend apart, hide them in your shopping bag and infiltrate the evil castle like a Trojan horse. Just make sure you do it in less than an hour!

 

Consecrated Armor is a good lower-level armor spell and honestly it is good to see something besides mage armor. A solid example of the useful spells in this book.

 

 

A novel situational spell. Not something that would come up too often in a traditional setting but certainly very effective if you are in a place with lots of water based foes.

 

A little meta here but this is a fantastic cantrip. Good damage and scaling, but more importantly it just looks like it is fun to use.

 

A nice and fun alternative to Tiny Hut. This spell has a lot of character and the imagery that comes along with it makes me smile. This may seem a weak spell for 5th level but the HP max increase and charm immunity are very valuable effects.

 

There is a lot more to this book than I could ever put in digestible review. What I can assure you is that this book contains something for everyone. Games set in forgotten realms, spell jammer, modern urban fantasy, steampunk, and futuristic settings will all find this book useful. There are utility spells, damage spells, and just weird and fun spells in here. This is an incredible work and a benefit to any 5e player or DM.

 

 

 

 

Mage Hand Press can be found here on Patreon where they release books such as these as awards to their patrons: patreon.com/mfov/

Follow them on twitter here: @MageHandPress

And here is their blog where they post news about their work: http://mfov.magehandpress.com/

Bring Some Scares with These Horror RPGs

It’s October, and everything has become dark and spooky, so why not your tabletop roleplaying games? There are a plethora of games written to bring and maximize the essence of horror, with many of these games touching on different aspects of the genre. Some of the RPGs on this list will be familiar, but hopefully, there will be something here to bring the scare for your Halloween game night. So prepare some candles, turn down the lights, and get ready to be spooky.

Call of Cthulhu

Lovecraftian horror deserves mention as a genre that truly gets under your skin and sometimes leaves you a little insane. Chaosium, Inc.’s 7th Edition of this iconic game expands on the Cthulhu mythos, implementing a system where investigators become exposed to eldritch horrors, ancient forbidden truths through the Necronomicon, and die horrifically against the Great Old Ones. Most Call of Cthulhu settings take place during the turn of the century of the Industrial Revolution, but there are additional variants such as Pulp Cthulhu that brings it close to the Atomic Age with secret organizations, spies, and other deadly dangers. Lovecraft’s atmosphere along with Chaosium’s expanded Cthulhu mythos resonates into this wonderful tale of suspense and horror.

If you’re interested in learning how to create your Call of Cthulhu character, we have you covered with some quick and easy tutorial videos.

Dread

Dread is an indie narrative survival-horror RPG that does not utilize any dice mechanics or stats, but instead, players resolve their actions through a tower of wooden blocks that entirely resemble a Jenga tower. Instead of character sheets, players have character questionnaires tailored by their game masters for the particular scenario. What I love and enjoy about this game comes from the physical and emotional sensation of dread that builds throughout the game, because if the tower falls, the last player to touch it has their character suffer a tragic and possibly horrible end. The book itself provides useful tips, advice, and strategies to create your own scenarios, player expectations, and how to formulate your questionnaires. Additionally, there are four scenarios provided with pre-generated questionnaires. This is a great game to introduce someone to roleplaying games without the learning curve of game mechanics.

Ten Candles

If Dread is to be considered the epitome of survival-horror, then I would consider Ten Candles to be the epitome of tragic-horror. The game utilizes the simple setup of ten candles, some index cards to serve as character traits, several d6s with two different colors, a fireproof bowl, a tape recorder for your characters’ final thoughts before their imminent demise. Finally, it’s heavily suggested that this game is played in the dark with only the light of the candles to be the barrier against the setting’s dark apocalypse.

Unlike other games where players strive and hope to survive, in Ten Candles, the characters’ fate is inevitable and predetermined. Whenever a character fails a test, a candle is snuffed out, and the scene ends, but players can choose to “burn” away one of their character traits to prevent this failure. But ultimately, once there is only one candle remaining, the game enters its final end phase, and the players will all die. In other words, in this hopeless game, players will try to seek hope for their characters in this dark setting.

The game’s psychological degradation is appealing especially with other horror movies such as the Descent, the Final Destination series, Silent Hill, or even Friday the 13th. The desperation to keep these candles lit to delay this looming inevitability will undoubtedly have players feel the pressure after a few candles go out. The tape recorder mentioned previously? Whenever a character dies, their recording is replayed from the recorder as a final testament.

Don’t Rest Your Head

Evil Hat Productions’ Don’t Rest Your Head makes it to this list for the surreal and psychedelic atmosphere presented in its setting of the Mad City. The players are insomniacs who become aware of a metaphysical reality and entities are known merely as Nightmares. While awake, the players act like any normal human being, but their actions will eventually wear them down which runs the risk of the character drifting to sleep. While a character sleeps, the Nightmares stalk and attempt to kill your character. Survival requires another awakened character to assist, but alternatively, a character can choose to accrue madness in the face of their growing exhaustion.

The game employs a growing dice pool mechanic between its three attributes of Discipline, Exhaustion, and Madness. Players roll dice using their base Discipline plus any Exhaustion gained and any permanent Madness dice. For most mundane actions, a player character may roll their Discipline within a sense of control, but by incurring an Exhaustion die, the dice pool increases and grants a chance to succeed their rolled tests. But players can choose instead of using their Exhaustion pool, they can add a die to their Madness pool. Besides the onset of psychological strain and mental breakdowns, there are more devastating results such as the decrease in their Discipline trait followed by permanent Madness die.

Additionally, the game utilizes a meta-currency of Hope and Despair, with the former being a means for player characters to combat against the debilitating journey of living with insomnia. Despair is a currency for the GM to impose a significant challenge against a character, but between these two features, when one is spent, it is added into the coffers of the other which establishes the metaphor for give-and-take presentation of the harsh reality of life.

Bluebeard’s Bride

Fan of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales? This RPG focuses on two characters, Bluebeard and his Bride, with the players’ roles as aspects of the Bride’s psyche. Throughout the game, players explore Bluebeard’s house through the eyes of the Bride, each player takes turns to act as their aspect of her psyche to make decisions, speak as the Bride, and pushing the Bride forward to explore this mysterious house only to encounter new horrors along the way.

This game is another excellent tragic horror game that harkens back to such classics as Disney’s Beauty and the Beast if it had become a full-fledged horror movie. As the Bride explores the house, the psyches (players) are confronted with various revelations and horrors about their beloved Bluebeard. The game reminds and encourages discourse between players with their Bride actions to represent the conflicting internal mental struggles of this central figure.

Ultimately, by the end of the game, the Bride will face the final door that Bluebeard forbade this Bride to enter. Depending on the actions of the Bride throughout this haunting tale, the Gamemaster has a unique track to determine the Bride’s faithfulness, treachery, or defiance. Whichever becomes the dominating mentality at the end of the game, each psyche will have a chance to narrate the final scene. This RPG combines the hallmarks of a collaborative storytelling experience yet encourages discourse between the players while taking turns to control a central character to serve as a vehicle for the narrative.

Little Fears

Little Fears harkens back to those classic childhood fears but turns the dial to eleven as players play as everyday kids that face both real and imagined monsters. Players have character sheets like any other roleplaying game but also includes a questionnaire to help flesh out their fears and the various aspects of their troubles, which your gamemaster will employ and build your stories around. Additionally, the game utilizes other features that are iconic from one’s own childhood, such Belief and Rituals to dispel the monsters that haunt us. The game has a very “Monster of the Week” infrastructure for longer campaigns but definitely can work under a one-shot capacity. Unlike other roleplaying games, many of the character aspects are strictly narrative or abstract in nature, fans with familiar to games such as Fate Core will feel right at home with this sort of game.

As an honorable mention, if you wish to play a game set in childhood horror, Kids on Bikes follows the same archetypes, but while Little Fears is explicitly focused on childhood horrors and traumas, the former fits into a wider variety of genres. Though Kids on Bikes can be presented with horror elements and just like Little Fears, both are narrative-focused games.

Old Friends

This indie entry by Bully Pulpit Games, written by Jason Morningstar (creator of Fiasco) and Ode Peder, is more of a ghost story than a horror RPG but there plenty of avenues to expand on the genre. In the premise for this game, the players were once former ghost hunters who found a way to bridge the worlds of the living and the dead together to put the spirits to rest. Unfortunately, one of these ghost hunters died and never found rest. Your group has returned to the place of your former friends’ passing to finish the job once and for all. The game does not require a gamemaster, but does suggest at least one game organizer prepare materials and moderate the game, as the players must enact a secret ritual to summon spirits to possess them. A mask is heavily suggested and required as a prop for this game, to represent the possessed character. Most of the character creation is done through cards that can be printed out before gameplay that establish roles, relationships, and backstories. While a character becomes possessed by the ghost, they make direct instructions or commands to other characters and they must obey them. Possessions pass across the playgroup until the end of the game. The rules are loose and abstract to fit for every number of playstyles and groups.

The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth

Another game to bring some nightmare to your childhood memories, The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth brings you the magic and joys of your iconic theme parks and turns them into a carnival of despair and dread. Just as the title suggests, this is a hack using the Powered by the Apocalypse system, but the atmosphere and themes touch on a satirical outlook with a dark representation for a sinister children’s theme park called Mouse Park. The game adopts a monster-of-the-week structure for longer campaigns, but it is also suited for one-shots as well. Characters acquire talents and abilities that can be cut and pasted onto their sheets which reduces a whole lot of reference to the rulebook and more time to focus on the gameplay.

The satirical undertones feel like a George Romero horror movie, but within the setting of The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth, you have the added caveat of ancient evils, demonic circles, strange experiments, and rogue animatronics. Plus, who doesn’t love the idea of an evil theme park full of unknown terrors? For longer campaigns, the book does offer advice to bring the player characters back every time, with each visitation revealing a new dark facet of Mouse Park.

The Esoterrorists

The Esoterrorists marries investigation and horror under the GUMSHOE system. Unlike most investigative driven RPGs, the GUMSHOE system focuses on the interpretation of the clues. This system inspired another Cthulhu RPG called Trail of Cthulhu which deserves an honorable mention here, but the real honor belongs to The Esoterrorists for being the progenitor. In The Esoterrorists, the players battle against fanatical occult terrorists who seek to shatter the fabric of reality to bring forth otherworldly monstrosities to our present realm.

This narrative-centric game utilizes a pool of points to perform investigative abilities, with other generic tests conducted with a six-sided die and its own point pool. As the players find clues, the story advances. To find the clues, the players will need to use their investigative abilities that correlate with it. All investigative skills always work, but again, the novelty from this system applies to the players’ and groups’ interpretation of these story clues. Spending their investigative points usually grants additional clues which are often additional information or benefits. Since the point pools can be adjusted and tailored for any scenario, a gamemaster can customize their tales to fit any kind of difficulty and length.

Fate Horror Toolkit

Fans of Evil Hat Production’s Fate Core and Fate Accelerated have a new toolkit for bringing horror to their games. While Fate provides a full breadth of narrative creativity with the interpretations of their aspects, this book offers advice and tips to maintain the tension often found in the horror genre without sacrifice the system’s ingenuity and freedom. There are mechanical elements such as the descent (very similar to mechanics found in the sanity mechanic from Call of Cthulhu) and methods for coping with trauma. Additionally, the supplement discusses the playgroup’s buy-in through impending doom and storytelling advice for crafting a survival horror scenario.

For the survival horror rules, there is a clock mechanic and a system for the gamemaster to establish finite resources that the players can freely utilize throughout the game. However, when those resources run out, there will most definitely be consequences which can range from reducing results to skill rolls and possibly even alterations to established aspects. As for the mechanics to define impending doom, there are some great tips and advice for setting this early buy-in with your players. Additionally, the toolkit adds a clock mechanic that is reminiscent in other games such as Apocalypse World or Blades in the Dark. Overall, this book provides solid advice to incorporate horror into your Fate games, whether to an existing campaign, a new one or even as a one-shot. Fate’s adaptive storytelling system allows for a full breadth of actions, moments, and creativity but in the vein of horror, some exercised limitations and restrictions will draft the necessary atmosphere needed.

There are plenty of horror-inspired RPGs out there, and whether or not your favorites made this list, just remember the core elements of horror: limited resources and inevitability. Atmosphere and mood are essential whether it be darkening a room or having appropriate music as a backdrop. Of course, the last key ingredient to any good horror game comes from the players and their acceptance of their fate within the game. Have the players aware of the context of their game, set expectations, and provide a safe means to express their discomforts. These elements can be found in the roleplaying games listed above, as it’s essential that every be comfortable and safe to tell the best tales possible. Enjoy, and may your nights be full of terror.

RollUP: Warhammer 4E

RollUP is a show all about character creation – exploring a host of different systems every Friday! The last couple of Fridays we have been taking a look at Warhammer Fantasy RPG Fourth Edition with the help of Jim Davis (@therealjimdavis of WebDM and Warhammer Wednesdays right here on EncounterRP!). For our deep dive into the Cubicle7 Character Creation, we took a look at rolling up a random character using d10s, d100s and the random roll tables which are a staple of WHFRPG.

Jim had a dream of playing in a game which explored the rise of everyday folk into the great chaos cults. Yoma, the witch, could not have been a more perfect random roll. Thanks again to chat for their assistance in helping name and shape this character. For all of her final stats, spells and details please check out her sheet below but be warned, like all humans in Warhammer, she is doomed. Her prophecied doom is to “die in water darkened by blood” – hopefully, she can avoid or use the chaos powers to escape this fate but if not, at least that is some bonus points towards the next character!

Yoma/Salandra The Witch

Thanks again to Ex_Libris for his help in the walkthrough for this character creation and for making the fillable PDF which includes advantage trackers for combat.

If you need MORE Warhammer characters you can also take a look at this pre-gen list!

The next part of our focus on character creation took a look at how you could reskin/”homebrew” the already existing content in the core book to create your own races, to play stories that you want to play. Jim’s second dream is of a game filled with orcs and so he got to work coming up with a set of characteristic base rolls, skills, talents and career options which would be a great way to start your own Warband.

Orc Race Character Creation

Check out the episode for more explanation on these choices and how to use them but we hope you have as much fun using them as we did making and talking about them.

If you are looking for some actual play Warhammer Fantasy content then check out Beneath Dark Boughs (2E) or The Great Conspiracy (4E – currently playing live Wednesdays 4pm EST)!

9 Reasons your Next D&D Character Should be a Monk

I asked Twitter which Dungeons & Dragons class I should write about. Twitter chose one of my favourite classes: the monk. Let me convince you that your next D&D character should be a monk.

Monks can learn to catch incoming missiles and throw them back.

That’s pretty cool with arrows and darts, but you can do the same when you’re attacked with spells like fire bolt or ray of frost too.

If you like one-one-on combat, you could make a monk who wants to duel with every character they meet.

This might be about testing and improving your own character’s skill or knowing how your allies fight.

You could make a monk who’s physically graceful, but socially awkward.

When you’re making a monk character, you always want to make Dexterity their strongest ability. With this kind of character, you also need to make Charisma their weakest.

While we’re on the theme of contradictions, you could make a monk who is an accomplished fighter but lacks discipline.

Maybe their lack of discipline is why they have had to leave their monastery and take up the life of an adventurer?

When you’re playing as a monk, you can just ask strangers for money and it’s not inappropriate.

Maybe your monk character always needs to ask for money because they’ve given their money away to others? Or maybe they don’t need the money, but they’re greedy?

You can make a character who masters the elements by choosing the genasi race and making a monk who follows the way of the four elements.

When choosing elemental disciplines, you could choose disciplines that match the element of your character’s subrace. Or you could disciplines that manipulate a range of different elements, to make an elemental all-rounder.

Your monk could be a tabaxi character who always lands on their feet.

If you choose to follow the way of the long death, it could seem like your character has nine lives.

If you make a goblin monk, your character could be just like Yoda.

Just check with your dungeon master if they’ll let you have a sun blade.

Lastly, you could coordinate with your D&D group and make a party of ninja tortles.

I’d suggest using subclasses like way of the open hand and way of the kensei. You could do this for a one-shot adventure or for a whole campaign, set in  the sewers of Waterdeep, Sharn or your own urban setting.

RollUP: Call Of Cthulhu 7E Characters

RollUP is a show all about character creation – exploring a host of different systems every Friday! The focus for our first few episodes has been Call of Cthulhu 7e by Chaosium.  In addition to our episodes, we recommend checking out the free Quick Start PDF for more information as well as the Investigator’s Handbook.

Over the last three weeks, @LaughLoveLindy (Masks of Nyarlathotep and more) and I (@Frostfrmfire) have been working on two characters as an example of what could be made for playing in this narrative, and flexible, system. There are so many settings open so to narrow it down we took a poll and the classic 1920s of Lovecraft were chosen.

Our plot hook was simple: a rich Parisian society lady by the name of Madame du Faux has invited a number of guests to a lavish party in her home, the highlight spectacle of which will be the unwrapping of a mummy. What dark secrets will be found within?

Thanks to the help of chat and the random rolling method (p43 onwards in the handbook) we ended up with: Professor Archibald Bennett, a self-taught expert and Gillian Moore, a jewel and art thief. These two characters went to school together in London but their lives had since diverged. The invitation had the Professor searching for a plus one and Gillian ended up conveniently in Paris just in time to oblige.

Professor Bennett is a curmudgeonly fellow, old before his time who has a specific interest in the occult, his most treasured possession is a stolen artefact with a symbol he has yet to identify carved into its surface. He’s generally unkempt with barely tamed hair and a tweed suit a week past laundry day but his brain is organised, and fascinated with secrets the world. Having glimpsed a few of the dark secrets and not being of the best constitution he chooses to arm himself with a revolver. Gillian rides a motorbike and sidecar and appears to have a much more devil may care attitude to life and her work. She seeks a great prize and fortune – adventure isn’t such a bad methodology. Gillian’s prized possession is a compact which contains a hairpin lockpick, a breath mint and a very handy mirror (suitable for many occasions). Gillian has a habit of staring at things – things she desires and into space where she can imagine things she desires.

Professor Archibald Bennett Professor Career, 180 Personal Interest Points, 200 Occupation Points

Gillian Moore Criminal (Freelance/Solo), 150 Personal Interest Points, 250 Occupation Points

Need more Call of Cthulhu content? Check out the Tomes & Tentacles Podcast for some wonderfully spooky and maddening fun with The King in Yellow.

(Sheets compiled using Dholeshouse.org and require Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition Pre-Generated Player Characters

by Ex_Libris85   Twitch   Twitter 

 

Here are some pre-gen player character sheets for Warhammer 4e so you can jump right into an adventure. All of these PCs were created by the rules stated in the book with some of them rolling random for race/class and some of them choosing their careers and races, which gave them variable amounts of XP to spend on advances. They are all legitimate by-the-book starting PCs.

 

 

Click the pictures to be taken to a link where you can download each characters sheet. The sheets used is the same one created by me on this link:

https://www.encounterroleplay.com/warhammer-fantasy-roleplay-4th-edition-fillable-pdf-character-sheet/

 

Human Artist

 

Dwarf Engineer

 

Human Flagellant

 

Human Rat Catcher

 

High Elf Seaman

 

Human Warrior Priest

 

Top Upcoming Releases by Green Ronin Publishing

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

Green Ronin Publishing is a renowned roleplaying game company with a reputation for innovative quality games since 2000. Some of their notable roleplaying game products include Dragon Age, A Song of Fire and Ice Roleplaying, and Mutants & Masterminds. The Seattle-based publisher continues to be hard at work to produce expansions to their existing properties while broadening into new systems and projects. For example, a week before Gen Con 2018, Green Ronin launched their Expanse RPG Kickstarter campaign and highlighted the release of their new Modern Age system, the contemporary-to-futuristic successor to their Fantasy Age ruleset.

It’s been a month since Gen Con, but there are still plenty of projects Green Ronin has in development, soon-to-be-released, or recently completed. These are my top picks for most anticipated projects or products, but they encompass most of Green Ronin’s product offerings.

The Expanse Roleplaying Game

This upcoming game system brings James S.A. Corey’s award-winning science-fiction novels to your tabletop. Fans of the SyFy Channel series based on the same novel series can look forward to the same fast-paced action and intrigue-filled storytelling. Using the new Modern Age ruleset, the game offers unique features such as Fortune instead of Health, Interludes for those breaks between encounters, and of course, spaceship battles. You can snag a copy of the quickstart for The Expanse RPG here.

Modern AGE

Fancy some adventures during the Industrial Revolution? Or perhaps some urban fantasy noir game? Or maybe head into a dystopian future reminiscent of settings such as Blade Runner or Ghost in the Shell? The latest iteration and expansion to the Adventure Game Engine (AGE) now features a classless implementation through talents, focuses, and specializations. The iconic stunt system makes a return in this new high octane, fast-paced combat, a sleek new interface for a plethora of games and genres. The new system includes new mechanics for running chases, along with options to add magic and psychic powers to your games. The World of Lazurus will serve as the Modern Age‘s first campaign setting with a dystopian noir flair. Additionally, there are plans for a companion book be released sometime in late 2018 to 2019. You can take a glance at the new Modern Age ruleset with a quickstart PD here.

Dragon Age/Fantasy AGE

Fans of this video game turned tabletop game, as seen on Geek and Sundry’s Tabletop, inspired the Fantasy AGE ruleset but the folks at Green Ronin have been hard at work to produce new content for this beloved franchise. According to announcements and planned releases for both Dragon Age and Fantasy Age, longtime fans can expect several new supplements to arrive over the course of 2019. Notable products include a new “Faces of Thedas” supplement series, a rules compendium, and a campaign builders handbook. I will enjoy reading the campaign builder book, I love the AGE system and would not mind have some more ideas on crafting my campaign settings.

Mutants & Masterminds

The superhero inclined RPG system has received some cosmetic and linguistic updates in the latest edition. Green Ronin’s partnership with DC Comics produced iconic heroic stats for Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman to name a few. At the Gen Con panel, designers announced a quickstarter’s guide to introducing new prospective players to the game, a Super Team handbook, and an “Astonishing Adventures” series as their modular adventure entry. Additionally, the game recently launched a new Basic Hero’s Handbook to present a streamlined presentation of their third edition rules, and a Rogues Gallery supplement, containing all of their iconic villains from M&M under one cover.  I have not personally played Mutants & Masterminds since their 2nd Edition book sometime back in the mid-2000s and would love to read up on the changes over the past decade. The system is quite adaptable and exemplifies one of the most authentic superhero RPGs with an ample blend of mechanics to narrative design.

Freeport: the City of Adventure

Green Ronin has partnered with Drowned Monkeys Games to create a computer roleplaying game (CRPG) based on the publisher’s original campaign setting of Freeport: the City of Adventure. According to Drowned Monkeys Games, the game will feature a virtual room hosted by a virtual gamemaster on a virtual table. The entire experience is akin to a full-fledged simulation that includes “dice rolls, playing with friends, painting miniatures, dioramas, character sheets, etc. are represented in the play space.” The game is slated for release during the holiday season of 2019.

Ork! The Roleplaying Game

Longtime Green Ronin fans will recall this familiar product, Ork! The Roleplaying Game was the company’s first product released over eighteen years ago. This casual, “beer-n-pretzel” roleplaying game is chock full of wild antics that will often leave your playgroup reeling in laughs. After years of no additional releases, the company has returned to their roots and announced before Gen Con a new standalone second edition printing. The updated book is currently still on preorder at the time of this article, but if you are looking for a fun, casual antic-inlined tabletop RPG, Ork is the right game for you.

Green Ronin is undoubtedly going to be busy the rest of 2018 and well into 2019. Dungeons & Dragons fans may recall the company’s previous entries which include Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide and in the Critical Role: Tal’ Dorei Campaign Setting. For D&D fans looking for new roleplaying games, this is an excellent opportunity to expand your horizons with a trusted company with years of experience crafting quality games.

Additional Links

Return to the Night with the new Vampire the Masquerade

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

Sometime in the early 2000’s, I entered into a world of darkness and terror, where monsters wore a human face and a great plot lurked underneath the pale moonlight. Vampire the Masquerade 5th Edition by White Wolf Entertainment brings the nostalgia of the revolutionary vampire tabletop roleplaying game to the 21st century. Since its original publication in 1991, White Wolf has published games to tell captivating stories about the horrors of the night, touching on mature content compared to the fantasy roleplaying games of yore. 

What you need to know about Vampire the Masquerade 5th Edition (V5):

  • Storyteller Roleplaying System: a dice pool of d10s with difficulty determined by the number of successful die results (a result of 6 or above). The dice pool is usually determined by combining the dots or value in an attribute stat and skill together.
  • Vampire has strong themes that parallel the real world, which may contain dark and mature undertones but in a safe environment.
  • Updated mechanics from previous editions that offer a streamlined entry for new and veteran fans, especially fans who haven’t played a game of Vampire in many years. I love the new Hunger dice mechanics.
  • The Second Crusade and the Gehenna War has caused many powerful vampires to be gone, with greater danger now for the Kindred than ever before in a continually changing world. The metaplot within Vampire sets the stage for new opportunities for unique narratives within playgroups.
  • Players have nine clans to choose during character creation which includes the original seven clans of the Camarilla, the Caitiff, and Thin-blooded.

At Gen Con 2018, I had the opportunity to sit down with White Wolf to discuss Vampire’s changes from its previous editions, what people should expect in the new edition, and White Wolf’s plans for the future (trust me, it’s good).

Mechanically, Vampire 5th Edition sports many new options to streamline gameplay and resolution into a robust system that emphasizes story and its progression. Sure obstacles still matter, but they are no longer a detriment for narrative advancement.

For returning and new fans of the franchise, 5th edition sports some refined concepts:

  • While the dice still uses pools of d10s, the difficulty is defined by the number of success. Successful results are determined by any die results of 6 or more. Criticals occur for each pair of die results with a 10, which count as two successes.
  • Winning at a cost is a new feature, where if the rolls possess some successes, but the test fails, a player can achieve their goal, but a situation worsens. A much more narrative focused option but one that adds stakes and tension.
  • Checks are single d10 rolls, attempting to achieve a target number of 6 or higher. Typically used to determine any Hunger gain for the vampire.
  • Taking Half is one of my favorite additions to the game. As a way to reduce the number of dice rolls, Storytellers can take half for SPCs (storyteller-played characters) for rolls in contests (such as combat for example). The Storyteller takes half the value of the final dice pool, rounded down, and treats that result as successes.
  • Predator Types are similar to D&D 5th Edition’s background, except focused on the way your vampire character hunts for their blood. There are additional boons and flaws acquired that grant some areas of specialization and narrative opportunities.
  • Vampire focuses on the group dynamics with coterie creation and relationship maps, which provide an excellent tool for players to reference the overall climate of their character plots, but also as an influential tool for Storytellers to assess where to tug for story beats.
  • Hunger and the Hunger dice mechanic is significantly streamlined compared to older iterations, criticals and failures create new story avenues and opportunities. A much more narrative implementation compared to the mechanical presentations from earlier editions.
  • Disciplines offer a suite of options based on the level of investment, choosing a new power each time the vampire gains a dot in it. Characters normally have an equal number of dots and discipline powers.

One of the novel additions to the game that I love is the introduction of the loresheets, which provide a context in a character’s background and establish them as a facet of the Vampire lore and metaplot. While players should consult with their Storytellers on what loresheets are allowed, they provide a fantastic way for players to engage with the setting. The physical print sports fifteen loresheets for players and Storytellers to utilize but the digital PDF includes additional loresheet that did not make the final cut.

Additionally, the core rulebook includes advance mechanics and systems that expand on the test mechanic, explores interpretations for combat, and includes new implementations with blood and hunger.

Fun Tip: While I was at Gen Con, Karim, the lead editor for Vampire, introduced me to a novel approach for incurring Hunger. Should the vampire accrue enough damage to fill their health boxes, they gain one Hunger die. Give it a try in your game.

Some of the upcoming ventures and products from White Wolf ahead:

  • The upcoming Anarch and Camarilla sourcebooks are expected to be released later in the Fall of 2018 and include additional lore information with some mechanical inclusions as well.
  • White Wolf has partnered with Onyx Path Publishing to bring the iconic Chicago by Night setting book to the V5 system.
  • A new Legacy-format board game called Vampire: the Masquerade Heritage will be released in SPIEL 2019. In the game, players build a vampiric bloodline with characters to complete historical missions and battle against other clans in a chronicle that spans 700 years.
  • The World of Darkness – the Documentary is set to be released on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon later in 2018. The documentary explores the history of White Wolf Entertainment, the impact Vampire had on pop culture and media, with interviews from many creators, fans, and artists who were inspired by this IP for over 25 years.
  • White Wolf has also partnered with Belladonna’s Cupboard for a Vampire: the Masquerade-themed makeup line.
  • Additionally, there will be new upcoming Vampire LARP events in the coming future including one in Austin, TX in November 2018 called The Night in Question. You can find other LARP events and support at World of Darkness’ community hub.

Vampire’s 25-year legacy lives on in the latest 5th Edition and is prompted with possibly the most ambitious media resurgence that would be akin to a Second Coming. The growth of the tabletop roleplaying hobby presents a substantial audience from Vampire’s initial release in 1991. The system is accessible, the setting is vibrant, and the story is still just as dark. It almost makes me hopeful to see a Kindred: the Embraced television series reboot. Time to grab your black chain jeans and leather shirts, it’s time to return to the Masquerade. 

Additional Links:

  • Purchase Vampire: the Masquerade (V5) here.
  • Learn more about Vampire: the Masquerade on the World of Darkness site.
  • Get a sneak peek at Vampire: the Masquerade Heritage board game.

Player Characters for your Ravnica Adventure

A few weeks back Wizards of the Coast announced two new settings, Eberron and Ravnica. There’s a significant crossover between the fandoms of Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, two of WOTC’s biggest properties, but not everyone is familiar with both. Ravnica is a setting from the collectable card game Magic: The Gathering, and the first to be getting a hardcover D&D book. Ravnica is a planet covered by one megacity, co-ruled by ten competing guilds.

Whether MTG was your gateway drug into D&D or you hadn’t heard of Ravnica until a few weeks ago, this article will take a quick look at each of Ravnica’s guilds, and the kind of characters you might make for a game set in Ravnica.

Update:

WOTC has released some playtest material for races of Ravnica, which you can find here. Includes loxodon (humanoid elephants), vedalken, viashino and Simic hybrids.

Azorius Senate

Azorius are the law enforcers of Ravnica, mostly cops.

 

Races: human, vedalken

Classes: wizard, paladin, fighter

Backgrounds: city watch / investigator, soldier

To me, one of the most iconic Azorius cards is Detention Sphere:

Detention Sphere makes me think of making a control wizard, probably a human wizard with the city watch background and spells like friends, lightning lure, shocking grasp, charm person, color spray, grease, sleep, snare. If you were using the variant human you could choose the moderately armored feat to give your squishy wizard a bit more protection in the line of duty, unless you’re happy with just the mage armor spell.

Boros Legion

Boros and Azorius seem  kind of similar. If Azorius are the cops, Boros are the troops.

 

Races: human, minotaur, goblin, viashino (use lizardfolk)

Classes: fighter, paladin

Background: soldier, mercenary veteran

While they have a lot of human, minotaur and goblin soldiers, they also have fire elemental soldiers. If you wanted to make one of these, I’d suggest a fire genasi fighter with the champion subclass for increased crits, and the soldier background.

Another option is a human paladin (soldier) on a griffin, specializing in great weapon combat.  (Azorius have ‘skyknights’ too, so you could do something similar for an Azorius character.) Obviously you’d want to make sure your dungeon master was on board with this plan.

 

House Dimir

Dimir are Ravnica’s crime syndicate. Most of Ravnica doesn’t know they exist. Some of their most valuable business is information stolen from other guilds.

 

Races: human, shapeshifter (use changeling), vampire

Classes: rogue, wizard

Background: charlatan, criminal / spy, urban bounty hunter

I’d suggest using the changeling race (from the Eberron playtest material) to make a rogue character using the criminal background. One of the quirks of the new changeling rules is that one of their tool proficiencies is enhanced when they adopt a persona associated with it. So, if the tool proficiency was alchemy, they might take on the persona of a member of a rival guild (perhaps Izzet or Simic) in order to steal that guild’s secrets.

Golgari Swarm

Golgari are the castoffs of Ravnica’s society, living in the sewers beneath the city, recycling the city’s waste, creating life out of death.

 

Races: elf (shadar-kai or drow), human

Classes: cleric, druid

Backgrounds: far traveler, outlander, urchin

For a Golgari character, I’d suggest an shadar-kai cleric using either the life or death domain. If you’re creating a zombie, say that it’s being held together by animated vines. If you’re healing your comrades, say that their wounds are filled in with fungal growths.

Gruul Clans

Gruul are the barbarians and anarchists of Ravnica.

 

Races: human, goblin, minotaur, centaur, viashino (use lizardfolk)

Classes: barbarian, druid

Background: far traveler, folk hero, outlander, uthgardt tribe member

This card makes me want to have a go at making a Gruul earth genasi barbarian:

Izzet League

Speaking of genasi, I think they could make good Izzet characters too. Izzet are mad scientists and alchemists.

 

Races: human, goblin, weird (use genasi)

Classes: sorcerer (wild mage or storm), wizard

Backgrounds: cloistered scholar, sage

One of the most iconic Izzet creations are weirds – elementals created from opposing substances. In order to make a weird character, I’d make a water genasi sorcerer (probably wild mage) and choose lots of spells that do different kinds of elemental damage.

Orzhov Syndicate

Orzhov is a church ruled by a council of ghosts who worship wealth and power. Orzhov exerts control over the masses through debt and extortion.

 

Races: human, vampire, revenant

Classes: cleric, rogue (spy, assassin, inquisitive), warlock

Backgrounds: acolyte, criminal / spy, haunted one, inheritor, noble

I could imagine running an adventure with three different Orzhov characters:

  • an innocent life cleric whose eyes haven’t yet been opened to the corruption of the church
  • a cynical grave cleric who can’t leave because they’re indebted to the church hierarchy. Maybe they’re a revenant, forced to pay off their debt beyond death?
  • an evil death cleric (perhaps a vampire) on a quest for power
Cult of Rakdos

Rakdos is an insane, demon-worshipping clown cult who provide sadistic forms of ‘entertainment’.

 

Races: human, goblin, devil (use tiefling)

Classes: bard, fighter, wizard (necromancer), warlock (the fiend)

Backgrounds: entertainer, gladiator, haunted one

Selesnya Conclave

Selesnya is a kind of utopian environmentalist collective, led by dryads.

 

Races: elf (high or wood), human, centaur

Classes: druid, fighter

Backgrounds: acolyte, outlander, sage

Simic Combine

Simic are a group of mad bioengeneers who create strange combinations of different creatures. Many of them have experimented on themselves.

 

Races: sea elf, triton or anything that you can reskin as a hybrid

Classes: wizard, sorcerer barbarian

Backgrounds: cloistered scholar, far traveler, hermit, outlander, sage

One of my favourite ideas is using existing character races to make characters who are results of Simic experiments. For example, to make a giant predatory lizard-frog, I’d make a bugbear barbarian with the totem warrior subclass. Choosing the tiger totem would allow them to make large jumps between buildings, just like a giant frog mutant. The urban bounty hunter background would help them hunt prey on the streets of Ravnica.

What kind of characters would you make for a Ravnica adventure?

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition Fillable PDF Character sheet version 2

by Ex_Libris85   Twitch   Twitter 

 

I have created a fillable pdf character sheet for Warhammer 4th edition. I have also added a third page for nothing but notes as I find you can quickly run out of space for skills, talents, trappings, corruption and mutations and whatnot. I hope you enjoy using it!

 

Version 2 now live with clickable buttons that keep track of your advantage and auto fill skill blocks from your current characteristics blocks.

Please click the image below to be taken to the sheet. You can download it from there.

 

 

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition PDF Character Sheet

Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th Edition is everything I ever wanted

by Ex_Libris85   Twitch   Twitter 

 

The wait is over and Cubicle 7 has delivered. Through some kind of sorcery they have managed to bring Warhammer into the modern age and maintain the tone and feel of the old games.

 

Percentile Rolls

Back are the popular percentile system using D100s. In order to pass a simple skill test you have to roll equal to or below your skill level. So if you are using your Agility score of 45 to jump over an obstacle you must roll a 45 or below on a D100.

Success Levels (SL)

Previous called “degrees of success” in 2nd edition, this value has become of prime importance in calculating several important actions, such as attacks and damage. It measures the full amount of “10s” that you succeed or fail by on the dice to measure the effectiveness of your test. If your skill is 49 and you roll a 21, you have a SL of 2. If you roll again on that same skill and you roll a 95 you have a -4SL since that is a hard fail.

Combat

Gone is the “whiff” factor of 2e, where low skill players facing low skill enemies miss each other several rounds in a row. Now each attack in combat is an opposed roll between the participants. If an attacker rolls on Weapon Skill and gets a success of 2SL and you compare that to the defender who succeeds as well on a 3SL then the defender has won the round and takes no damage. This type of opposed roll comparing SLs also means that even if both parties miss, damage can still be dealt and there can be a winner of each round. While some people might have a problem with the logic of this, I am fine with it for two reasons: keeping the flow of the game swift and for the cinematic aspect of picturing the players in desperate sword fight where every move of the blade matters.

Careers

Careers make a comeback, expanding upon the much loved careers of 2e. Now instead of gaining advances on your stats through XP and moving onto an advanced career, each career has four levels and you can stay or advance as you wish. It also is a lot easier to completely change careers. Unhappy with your rat catcher and want to become a knight? You certainly can, with the GM’s permission of course. I personally would allow such a drastic advance as long as there is a good roleplaying reason for it.

Spells

Spell casting has been simplified, where instead of rolling D10s and seeing if you beat the power level of the spell’s description you now measure your Success Level on your Comprehend Languages (Magick) skill. If you know you can’t cast your spell like this you can make a Channeling Test to gather the winds of magic each turn and when your SLs match the casting number (CN) of the spell it then goes off.

Lore

The Old World of Warhammer makes its return, taking place before the “End Times” story arch and the disappointing Age of Sigmar. The rulebook focuses the attention on the social and political atmosphere of the Reikland, the capital province of the human kingdom of The Empire. This makes sense as both a limit of scope in describing the world of Warhammer to new players and as a diverse sandbox to immense players in as it provides cities, sewers, swamps, forests, rivers, mountains, farmlands, villages, and more in an area easily managed by a GM.

I imagine later they will expand upon this in future supplements but it is a good size toolbox to pull from.

 

Conclusion

Cubicle 7 have done a wonderful job with Warhammer 4e and any fan of Warhammer will be pleased. Jim Davis from WebDM sums up the new edition perfectly:

“I think it’s a worthy successor to the WFRP tradition and clearly draws inspiration from prior editions while improving upon those aspects of the game that were notorious problem areas. Everything I’ve read so far makes me want to play this game and see how it does in delivering that classic WFRP experience.” – Jim Davis

 

 

As an added bonus I have created a form fillable pdf character sheet for online use. Its a far cry from a Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds sheet with roll macros in it, but it will allow for shareable electronic character sheets.

 

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 4th Edition pdf character sheet

 

 

 

Channel your inner Han Solo with Evil Hat’s Scum and Villainy

By Jacky Leung     Twitter

Long since the days when renowned smuggler and scoundrel, Han Solo graced the silver screens in the first Star Wars movies, would pop culture be dazzled by the soon-to-be-iconic trope of the space cowboy. The trope would carry on into many films, television series, and books include such notables as Firefly, Dark Matter, the Expanse, Guardians of the Galaxy, and anime series like Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star. The “space western” genre grew from the space opera scene and told stories of anti-heroes or heroes with attitude in a cruel, unforgiving universe. With Evil Hat Production’s open-game license of Blades in the Dark into the Forged in the Dark branding, we are presented with a unique space adventure known simply as Scum and Villainy. The title pays homage to a particular line from Star Wars: A New Hope from the late Alec Guinness’ Obi-Wan Kenobi, “Mos Eisley spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

Fans of Blades in the Dark will find familiar mechanics.

  • Progress clocks make a return with new additions like “race against the clock” and faction clocks for those pesky rivals.  
  • The game structure remains the same but includes new mechanics for upkeep to maintain your ship. The ship takes center stage compared to the lair from Blades.
  • Dice rolls and resolution remain unchanged but with twelve new actions for all the space heist high jinks.

The new things in Scum and Villainy include:

  • Seven new playbooks (or classes) that resemble typical sci-fi tropes such as the mechanic, the muscle, the scoundrel, and pilots. Essentially, all the critical roles from Joss Whedon’s Firefly if you wanted to be specific.

    The crew of the Serenity, Firefly
  • Armor to reduce to nearly lethal consequences.
  • The Way is the mystical energy that acts like magical ley-lines across the galaxy. What’s a space opera without some supernatural force that no one can explain? Did I mention there are cults for it too?

    When mysticism meets the weird, Outlaw Star
  • What’s a crew without their main attraction, the ship? Unlike the crew’s lair in Blades, in Scum and Villainy, the ship is a character too and requires upkeep to stay functional for your band of scoundrels to make their heists.
  • Rules for science and the strange mystic forces that bind the universe together. Everything from advanced tech, to elusive precursor races, and even the mystical Way.
  • Androids and drones. Sadly, you cannot be an Urbot character, but maybe in a future installment?

    Who wants to this upcoming Star Wars movie?
  • Speaking of advanced technology, crafting has a more significant role as a downtime activity. In many sci-fi series, you will always find someone tinkering away on a new device or modifying an existing one.
  • Is there honor among thieves? In Scum and Villainy, there are some added suggestions for crafting your trust mechanics along with tips for those massive spaceship battles. 

    Space battles!

Pre-orders for hardcover copies of Scum and Villainy are already underway with an expected shipping date in early August around the time of GenCon. Due to Evil Hat Production’s PDF purchase policy (something several indie publishers have started the practice), anyone who pre-orders the rulebook gets immediate access to the digital PDF so you can start playing right away. I adore this practice, and if you’re interested in Blades in the Dark, you can read the Forged in the Dark SRD and start your adventures with your motley crew of scoundrels and heathens trying to make a name for yourselves.

Scum and Villainy Preorder Link: https://www.evilhat.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=79&products_id=336

Forged in the Dark SRD Link: https://bladesinthedark.com/