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)!

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)

Call to Adventure: “Belly of the Beast”

An Adventure Hook Written By: Dice Prophet

System: D&D 5th Edition or Pathfinder

Ideal Party Size: 4-5

Recommended Level: 10

Concept

Defeating a dragon is usually the capstone to an epic adventure. The beast falls, the party splits up the loot, and everybody returns to the town, hailed as triumphant saviors. Instead, let’s reverse the formula; this time the wyrm-slaying kicks off an unexpected journey!

Introduction

Read the following flavor text to the player characters at the beginning of the quest:

“The sky grows darker as clouds billow in from the east, carried by quickened winds. The miscellaneous scents of your surroundings are suddenly overpowered by ashy smoke. Then, a thunderous roar sunders the silence, drawing your attention skywards, and you lock eyes with your enemy. A massive shadow stretches across the land as a ferocious red dragon soars straight towards you, steaming maw and malicious intentions bared.”

Setup

When the battle begins, the players can be camping out in the wilderness, celebrating at a tavern, or shopping in the village square, et cetera; the details of their current occupation are unimportant. What matters is that they are suddenly set upon by a vicious young red dragon (D&D 5th Edition Monster Manual pg. 98 or this link for Pathfinder). The serpent attacks with murderous intent and must be slain for the adventure to progress.

Development

Once the dragon is defeated, the party can investigate the corpse, which sows the seed for the actual adventure. Roll a d10 to randomly select which twist of fate befalls the party, or come up with your own! Where you go from there is up to the Dungeon Master’s discretion! But here are some ideas.

  1. The dragon’s belly is filled with countless half-dissolved belongings of the hapless mortals who were previously devoured. Among the salvageable bits you find a slime-soaked scroll that contains a heavily encoded message. The only passage you can immediately decipher is the line, “A False King sits upon the Throne” beside the painted likeness of the current Emperor.
  2. There were no prior rumors regarding dragons in the region, so this attack was entirely unprecedented by the locals. Upon closer inspection of corpse, you find the remnants of shattered chains hanging from the wyrm’s throat and arms. These shackles have no maker’s mark, and are comprised of a mysterious alloy that no one can identify.
  3. As you inspect the motionless dragon, the body reduces in size and transforms before your eyes, leaving behind a humanoid creature. They then jolt awake, screaming in abject terror and agony.
  4. The beast lies dead in the dirt, but is erratically twitching and emitting sparks. You peer past the grave wounds and behold an internal network of gears and clockwork components. This creature’s draconic nature is only skill-deep.
  5. Upon the killing bow, the creature’s body loses form and suddenly dissolves into a shower of black ink that rains down upon the surrounding landscape. The ink is harmless, but traces of dark magic linger within it.
  6. The dragon’s entire body is wreathed with the twisting vines of some unidentifiable plant, the roots of which are centered directly at the base of its skull. As you approach, the leaf-lined tendrils rapidly detach from the corpse and burrow underground, disappearing from sight.
  7. An incredibly rare and dangerous event known as environmental diffusion occurs (D&D 4th Edition Draconomicon: Chromatic Dragons). When some dragons are slain, their bodies rapidly decompose and seep their respective elemental essence into the land, tainting it. In this case, the region becomes engulfed with a magically endless wildfire that does not wane in weather nor require fuel. The characters must find a means to contain and extinguish the blaze before it spreads any further.
  8. The creature’s form is magically reduced to that of a dragon-shaped stone totem that you can lift with a single hand. The artifact is entirely inert, save for the ruby-like jewels set as eyes, which gleam with warm light.
  9. In an ironic turn of events, the dragon’s presence was actually an indirect source of adventuring-based revenue for the nearest town. In its absence, less people frequent the region, and the town eventually falls into economic decay. You monster.
  10. The dragon’s blood is incredibly toxic and causes all nearby plant matter to disintegrate. Any humanoid characters that directly contacted the essence are later wracked with an even worse affliction. First they experience a fiery rash, followed by intense itching, and ultimately the appearance of red scales under their peeling skin as their body temperature begins to rise…

Don’t Open That – Mantrap (snare)

Don’t Open That – Mantrap (Snare)

Free to download traps with tips and tricks

By Craig Simpson    Twitter Website

Hello and welcome to another ‘Don’t Open That’ article! I trust that you all enjoyed last week’s article and that (some) of your party is still alive. This week I have made a mantrap for you. I don’t recall seeing this anywhere else, but hopefully, if there is, then this will be different enough for you to run either in a session and yield different results.

Mantrap

I hope you enjoy implimenting this trap in your sessions, I know I will! Until next week – Don’t open that!

– Craig

Don’t Open That – Shocking Maze

Don’t Open That – Shocking Maze

Free to download traps with tips and tricks

By Craig Simpson    Twitter

Hello and welcome to another ‘Don’t Open That’ article! Hopefully you all enjoyed the statue upgrade I made last time. This time I will be tackling something quite different. As I have mentioned before, I will alternate between making my own traps and upgrading traps that are already available.

So, this week we will be looking at making a maze with a shocking twist. It works by having a 6×6 room (you can actually increase this to any dice by dice room, so 8×8, 10×10 and so on). There are invisible walls that prevent a character from walking in to a given square, so they must find the right route (there may be more than 1 correct route, there may be dead ends. This is up to you).

The Shocking Maze

I hope you enjoy this trap room. Until next week – Don’t open that!

– Craig Simpson

PC: Leoris Bog’ Leon

Name: Leoris Bog’ Leon
Player: Spartans282
Details: Wood-Elf Male 200 yr old Druid
Appearance/Equipment:
Leoris is a 6’0″ Wood elf with light tan skin. His hair is a Dark Pitch black. His eyes are a shinning Silver with a gleam. A Phoenix Feather in his left Ear attached to his hair.He has DarkBlack Leather armor with Black feathers on the shoulder pads. His dark green cloak drapes around his neck covering down to his knees almost like a poncho. he carries a wooden shield and a Scimitar with a hilt of Green Vines wrapped around to a Dark Oak wooden sharp blade.
Background: 
Leoris is actually created from a Tavern PC after learning of that PC’s Secret.
Magic Items
2 Trinkets: He carries a piece of a Crystal around his neck that shines in the moon light. Also has a Bright Red Shelled Egg
Companion:
Ferret named Bleh.

The Problem with Firefights (And How to Fix It!)

Keeping combat encounters unique and exciting can be tricky, especially with longer-running campaigns. In traditional fantasy games, this is made a little easier by the sheer diversity of creatures, abilities, and equipment in play. Running games in a modern, western, or even a low-tech sci-fi setting, however, doesn’t always afford that luxury. In these genres, full-on combat can easily devolve into a mere repetitive exchange of bullets. In this article, we’re going to look at the problem with fire-fights and give you some easy tips to resolve it!

The Problem with Fire-fights
Typical fire-fights, while remaining “ranged” exchanges, can sometimes feel like Rock’em Sock’em Robots. When both sides of an engagement utilize similar weapon types and tactics, consecutive combat rounds will have less inherent diversity, and consecutive combat encounters are liable to start blending together too. There are only so many ways a player can excitedly describe where they place their hole on a landed shot. In short, fire-fights have less intrinsic potential for variation, and so require a little bit more proactive planning to make for great combat encounters. In addition to piling on additional objectives inside your combat encounters, here are three sure-fire ways to keep your fire-fights distinct!

3 Ways to Spice-Up Fire-fights

  • Weapon Distinctions
    Emphasize the differences in the look, sound, smell, and feel of different weapon types and individual firearms. Even if your setting only sports a small variety of weapon categories, that doesn’t mean the highwayman Reckless Joe’s revolver can’t have a carved rosewood pistol-grip or the swat unit’s shotguns an especially tight spread. Describing firearms through as many senses as possible is a great way to differentiate them, even if the wounds they inflict remain pretty similar.
  • Dynamic Cover
    Since terrain and cover tend to play a much more prominent role in fire-fights, mixing up those environmental engagements will keep your players on their toes. Try adding or removing obstacles and points of cover mid-combat, or disrupting/revealing lines of sight. When the circumstances warrant, even consider having your PC’s cover deteriorate after taking the damage from “missed” attacks.
  • Various Threats
    Just because some of your combatants are locked in a bullet-exchange, doesn’t mean rounds have to be the only thing flying around! Include one or two different types of threats other than the fire-fight itself, either through melee combatants or terrain hazards. This will keep your players thinking outside of their lines of sight and force them into some less-than-favourable positions!

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Numenera and its logo are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC in the U.S.A. and other countries. All Monte Cook Games characters and character names, and the distinctive likenesses thereof, are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC. Content derived from Monte Cook Games publications is © 2013-2015 Monte Cook Games, LLC.

How to Cheat Death!

“Yes, there is death in this business of whaling.” 

Adventuring is a dangerous life. There are times when even the most sympathetic GM will be powerless to mitigate a string of rash decisions or disastrous rolls. But it can be hard to part with a beloved PC, especially mid-way through a long campaign. Thankfully, most fantasy RPG settings leave room for a number ways to treat death a little less permanently. By suggesting a way to keep your PC’s “death” a significant, life-changing event, you might just be able to convince your GM to let you hang on a little bit longer. Below is a list of consequential alternatives to flat-lining your PC for good.

  1. Worldly Resurrection
    Probably the most common method to cheat death is to have your character magically restored to life. That said, few parties reach high enough levels where this is an option available amongst themselves – and, frankly, these epic tier parties aren’t at nearly as high a risk of dying in the first place. This means you’ll have to get some help from NPCs. Few GMs, however, will be willing to let NPC support so easily deflate the weight and significance of death. Make sure to propose some heavy debts to the NPC in question for having called in such a big favour!
  2. Divine Resurrection
    Just as with any method of cheating death, your GM will be more likely to allow it if you propose hefty consequences to accompany your second chance. Unlike worldly resurrections, a divine intervention gives you a bit more freedom to be creative with your long-term consequences. Rather than simply owing a favour or a small fortune of gold, consider taking on some deeper complications from having witnessed the awful presence of a divine hand. In addition to the inevitably zealous conversion, your PC may end up suffering from restless dreams, delirious waking fits, or having committed themselves to a vow of poverty for the sake of a nearby temple.
  3. Permanent Injury
    Another way to get around death is to propose that your PC doesn’t quite die in the first place. Instead, propose to have your character afflicted by a permanent, debilitating injury that lasts long after you’ve made your long and slow recovery – missing limbs, staggering limps, partial blindness/deafness, significantly reduced carrying capacity, etc.. For those of you that might hope to sneak around this result with a powerful restoration spell at a later date, remember that your GM might only entertain these alternatives in exchange for substantial, long-term effects.

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How to use Climate and Weather

You could almost taste Endor’s thick humidity, and Tatooine dried out our mouths. Theoden King’s pauldrons clinked with harrowing rain-drops, and the Icewind Dale was…well, always icy. Climate and weather can leave lasting impressions on our engagement with story, even if they don’t always jump to the forefront. Let’s take a look at some basic tips for enhancing your stories with climatic features and events.

Using Climate Narratively
Climate can do a lot to add texture to your story. Mixing up the weather and seasons can completely alter the tone or atmosphere of your party’s objectives and actions: a scorching, cloudless sun can thicken the smells and raise the tempers of those shopping in a crowded marketplace, just as a howling arctic wind will intensify anyone’s shift on the camp watch. More than just this atmospheric flare, climatic events like storms, droughts, seismic shifts, or other natural disasters can also be used as major plot point’s in your world’s history or as part of your party’s present adventures.

Using Climate Mechanically
There are a lots of ways climate and weather can be physically threatening to PCs. Apart from the more overt threats – lightning bolts, land-slides, tornados, meteors, etc. – climate can have significant, if more subtle, impacts on how player’s work through their objectives. Try incorporating things like difficult terrain (deep snow, slippery ice, thick mud, dense vegetation, flooding, etc.), poor visibility (dust storms, snow squalls, heavy fog, mirages, etc.), and long-term exposure (heat exhaustion, dehydration, hypothermia, trench-foot, cracked/blistered skin, etc.) to make your party’s progress just that much more difficult and compelling!

Simple Models
If you’re going to be affecting your sessions with climate, you’ll have to make sure to always be consistent. Unfortunately, there will always be times when your players ask YOU about the current weather in-game when you haven’t actually planned for anything special – they’ll do those more and more regularly once they’ve had to learn the hard way about obstructive climatic events creeping up on them unexpectedly. In order to stay prepared for this (but without having to map out and track complex continental meteorological charts and tables) just pick one of these simple climatic models that make it easy to improvise and stay on top of your world’s weather phenomena!

  • Earth-Like
    Since we all have a basic understanding of earth’s seasons and typical weather patterns, establishing your world as Earth-like (tilted axis with 4 seasons over a 12 month cycle) should make improvising climatic features relatively easy to keep consistent. Add in our own planet’s current climatic volatility, and you won’t need much by way of meteorological justification to toss around dramatic events when they’re best suited to have an impact!
  • Untilted (Seasonless)
    If your world exists without a tilted axis, it won’t have annual seasons. This can be one of the easiest models to use consistently over a long campaign, since north/south regions will always be cold, the equatorial regions will always be hot, and everything in between will stay relatively temperate. There can of course be slight variation in this model, but generally all you have to keep track of is which of these “three” bands your adventures are taking place in. Be sure to consider how this fixed-season orientation will impact your world’s economies and cultures (concentrated wealth in temperate bands, very little life on equator or too far north/south, etc.).
  • “Eyeball Planet”
    This climatic model is a bit different but I wanted to include it anyway because it can really make for some interesting worlds and it’s still pretty simple in terms of managing day-to-day weather systems. “Eyeball” planets are those whose local rotation is perfectly  in sync with their orbital rotation, meaning that the same side of the planet is always facing the sun. As a result, while one face of the world will have constant daylight, heat, and higher chances of life, the other face is always absolutely dark and extremely cold. Given this stark contrast, using an eyeball worlds is like having two completely different worlds in one

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Numenera and its logo are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC in the U.S.A. and other countries. All Monte Cook Games characters and character names, and the distinctive likenesses thereof, are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC. Content derived from Monte Cook Games publications is © 2013-2015 Monte Cook Games, LLC.

An Argument Against Initiative

The majority of standard d20 systems utilize rolled initiative to determine turn-order in combat encounters. While this is a useful way to establish the mechanical breakdown of complex turn-based scenarios, rolling initiative is not without its flaws. While rigidly turn-based encounters allow the GM to fairly and precisely cycle through the actions of players, NPCs, enemies, and time-specific environmental events, they do so at the expense of narrative freedom. Combat encounters are not, after all, supposed to be any different from any other type of encounter when considered narratively – characters themselves are never “in” or “out” of combat, they are simply taking actions and having things occur around them, sometimes with weapons involved!

The “Whoosh” Effect
Rolling initiative makes a strong declaration: “We are now in combat. We are no longer in non-combat.” But, again, these two things are the same. Implying that there exists two distinct roleplaying spaces risks suggesting that players ought to think or play differently within them. Rolling initiative is the tabletop equivalent of the Pokemon or Final Fantasy “whoosh” that brings your avatar from “the world” to “the fight” and subsequently offers you a restricted list of options to choose from until you get back out into the world. The only REAL difference between “combat” and “non-combat” is that the GM is being much more careful to fairly allow players to take actions and have actions taken against them. Initiative order is really just the hyper-meticulous form of the GM’s constant game mediation – presenting players with world events or actions and asking how their characters respond. Since the stakes are higher in combat, the GM has to ensure that players feel their characters are being given exactly equal opportunities to act and react alongside one another and within the world around them – something that is less significant when preparing a meal over a campfire, walking through a marketplace, etc..

 

Alternative Options
Turn-based encounters still serve an invaluable role in many roleplaying situations, but there are ways to reduce the narrative disruption of entering these carefully parsed-out narrative sequences. Below are some alternatives to rolling initiative at the start of every turn-based encounter that can help keep your players “in the world” even when jumping in and out of turn-based actions.

  • Pre-rolled Initiatives
    Have your players roll a dozen or so initiative rolls when they make their character. Having a series of pre-rolled initiatives for your players allows you to prepare full turn-order lists for each encounter during your GM prep. While there is no mechanical difference to using pre-rolled initiative, it allows players to move seamlessly in and out of combatunder the direction of the GM. Instead of stopping to establish an initiative order, the GM just assigns or asks for the first action and continues to guide the encounter – ex. “As your caravan is rolling past a fallen log, five shrieking goblins erupt from the trees. Dalton, one of them to the left looses an arrow at you, dealing 4 damage. Katarin, what do you do?”
  • One-Roll Initiative
    Have your players roll initiative once at the start of each session and have that number apply for the duration of the session. If you’ve pre-rolled your enemy/NPC initiatives, this will allow you to easily insert player values and then move easily in/out of combat with these predetermined lists. Since players who roll especially well or especially poorly will feel the impact of their roll over a longer period, be sure to come up with narrative details for each encounter to distinguish their repeated advantage/disadvantage – ex. “Alek, the giant spider turns to hiss aggressively at Sharrla, giving you an upper hand. Thuldir, the hilt of your halberd caught on a hunk of webbing right before the spider crawled out of its nest.”
  • Fixed Initiatives
    Instead of using any rolls to determine initiative, use only the appropriate modifiers as the final value. Similar to pre-rolled initiative, this allows you to prep pre-determined turn-orders and seamlessly enter in/out of the encounter. In addition, this method affords a greater degree of narrative consistency – the extremely agile character will always act prior to the sluggish or heavily armoured character, and no character will act before the blinking hell-cat. In combat-heavy games, however, this added realism can sometimes be unforgiving, so be sure to discuss using this method with your players ahead of time.

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Numenera and its logo are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC in the U.S.A. and other countries. All Monte Cook Games characters and character names, and the distinctive likenesses thereof, are trademarks of Monte Cook Games, LLC. Content derived from Monte Cook Games publications is © 2013-2015 Monte Cook Games, LLC.

D&D 5E Pregen Characters

Need a pre-generated character for a last-minute DnD session? Check out this great database of randomized DnD5E pregen characters complete with fully filled out character sheets! They’re even scaleable by level and allow you to specify class specialization!

‘Nuff said!

D&D5E Pregen Character Database

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Rights and Wrongs in DnD

Will is the brainchild of Encounter Roleplay. He runs the livestreams and heads the management team. You can follow him on Twitter @EncounterRP!

I recently published an article on 3 Things I’ve learned as a DM, in which I spoke of “Right” and “Wrong”. These are controversial terms to use in a community where we’re used to hearing that there is “No wrong way to play!” How ridiculous. As an Englishman I feel rather indignant, I might even skip my midday scone. But let’s get into it.

The phrase “No wrong way to play” is clearly flawed. There is a wrong way to do everything. In the same way that attempting to write a song with a guitar with no strings is going to be fruitless, so is running a game with a DM who is intent on punishing his players for out of character disagreements. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong. If a player in your game is having a miserable time then I don’t care who you are, something needs to change!

“But Will, is there a RIGHT way to play D&D?!” No kid, there’s not. That’s why your mother left us and also the reason Donald Trump exists. There can be no single correct way to play D&D because that entirely depends on what you and your players want to get out of the game. Instead, we’re left in a hole of disappointment, where that simple answer you were looking for when you clicked on this article has disappeared into. Don’t despair though, because there are a multitude of “Right” ways to play your favourite RPG games.

Right and Wrong are subjective terms, so let’s take ownership of them. D&D is all about picking the bits that you love nd ignoring the bits you don’t. Don’t listen to those who would have you love every aspect of it; maybe meta-gaming is just so wrong for you! Then again, maybe you just love making an OP build; then that’s the right way to play!

The right way to play, for me, is through heavily roleplay-oriented games and making silly jokes with my friends. Long combats bore me to the point of distraction and character development is essential. But none of that matters to you. You have your own opinions. To me, they might be wrong. But as long as you’re having fun, I can understand.

Right = Having fun with your friends.

Wrong = You/Other Players not having fun

There are wrong ways to play D&D, as with all things in life. Thankfully though, there are many ways to enjoy our hobby, with fun being the main component to “playing right”. Right and wrong are subjective, and its up for you to decide!

Image ©David Revoy

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