Darkest Dungeon (Very Late) Early Access Review

Darkest Dungeon is a rogue-like dungeon crawler that I really wish I hadn't picked up way back when it was still in early access (and this review is based on my experiences then), because though it looks nice it fails to deliver on everything mentioned on its About page.

Before I, er, delve into the bad, I'll start with the good (since it won't take nearly as long): the art and overall concept.

I like the art because it's similar to the style I use (which is in turn based on Mike Mignola), and though the game is pretty minimalist when it comes to animations it didn't really detract from the game.

The concept is also an interesting idea (and one that I'll be using in a future adventure): there's a shitty village surrounded by lots of bad things, and the characters have to clean it all up.

Now the bad.

What makes this game suck is a three-part answer, so let's start with the challenge.

Instead of actually trying to challenge you by forcing you play and learn, it relies entirely on randomizing everything. While this will often result in you barely making it out of the dungeon alive, if at all, it has nothing to do with your skills, knowledge, or experience, and everything to do with how bat-shit random the game is.

You start out by completing a short, straightforward tutorial, and assuming both heroes survive (one or both can in fact die, I guess) you'll have four characters to take into the next dungeon. There's only one to choose from at this point, and the game recommends purchasing 8 food and 4 torches. That sounds like good advice, but the game doesn't tell you how anything works.

Take food for example. You'll be walking along, and the game will randomly ask you if you want to eat or starve. In fact it's so random that you can go through an entire dungeon without a single food event occurring, or have a bunch hit you in rapid succession.

It's not just food that you have to play this guessing game with, but all of your supplies: the number of rooms and arrangement of the dungeon is randomized each time you go in (no matter how many times you go in), and there's no way to even get a guesstimate.

For example I've never used a key, but have "expended", I guess, one or two shovels about an equal number of times (and a couple of times I've needed none or even three). If you don't have enough shovels to dig through an obstruction, then you end up burning through torches I guess digging through it by hand (which can mess up your torch guesstimate).

Speaking of torches, I've also consistently burned through 10+ of them with each crawl, even if I'm just doing the bare minimum of exploring 90% of the rooms.

But you don't want to stock up too much because, not that the game tells you this, any supplies you don't use are discarded when you return to town, even if it makes no goddamn sense: why the hell do you just chuck your remaining shovels and keys?

Combat is equally bad: you'll get a string of misses, enemies will get a string of crits (ramping up your Stress, which leads to another set of problems that I'll get to in a bit), your marching order will get fucked (forcing some characters to spend their turns shuffling about, possibly just to get knocked about again), status effects just won't stick, and so on.

I've fought a group of spiders and had them basically do nothing, but then had another fight with another group of spiders; they focused entirely on my cleric in the rear, until they killed her in a couple of turns.

Another thing that ruins the game are the characters that the game tries to label as heroes.

They aren't. None of them act like heroes, and they don't even have personalities or ambitions. They arrive at random off a wagon, you run them through a random dungeon, and hope that everything just happens to fall into place so you can throw them in the tavern to reduce Stress, grab a fresh batch off the wagon, and run them through another dungeon while the first set recovers.

If anyone dies or gets too annoying due to Stress, you boot them the fuck out of town and replace them.

Rinse and fucking repeat.

You don't get attached to your characters, because at any time you could lose one entirely by events outside of your control (and, frankly, probability). You don't get to build any characters, and while you can rename them what's the point? They'll probably die, go crazy, or someone with a better skill loadout will show up.

Not that the skills particularly matter. Each character has a class, and each class has its own own set of skills that can somewhat differ. For example, I've had a leper with a melee area attack, and another with a single target attack and something else that I never used. I think you can eventually exchange and/or upgrade skills, but I didn't play long enough to bother.

Speaking of not bothering, you won't bother with most skills. When I first played the game I had my crusader routinely use a stun attack and the highwayman use an accuracy/crit boosting skill, but the fights went on forever, and in the end I barely limped away. I started over and tried again, this time just using their single-target attacks, and breezed through the tutorial.

The only classes that had me shake things up were the hellion and vestral: with the hellion I'd spam the hellion's stun shout, using the melee attack when the enemies were whittled down (or there was just one left), and with the vestral I'd just rotate between the single target and full-party heal (using the ranged magic attack if everyone was topped off and she even had it).

Finally, the Stress mechanic is somehow both frustrating and pointless.

You gain Stress just by touring the dungeon (more if your torch is too low), you gain Stress when monsters crit you, and for some reason you gain Stress if you leave the dungeon without finishing it. If your Stress fills up, then the character has a chance to get an Affliction. I've seen them be useful once; most often they are crawl-fuckingly bad.

Afflicted characters will cause you to waste your turn trying to heal them (they just won't let it happen), skip their own turn, shouting at the other characters, causing them to gain Stress faster (leading to a snowball effect of more characters gaining Afflictions), changing their position (likely resulting in you having to spend turns fixing the order), attacking themselves, and more.

The biggest kicker is that if things start going south, you can just leave. You get to keep any loot you picked up, and while your party gains more Stress who the fuck cares? Ditch them all if you want, grab some new meat off the wagon, and try again (probably with similar results).

Conclusion
Ultimately this is a game that you can't feel bad for losing at, because unless you deliberately make a bunch of stupid decisions—not bring supplies, put party members in the "wrong" spot, let your torch constantly peter out—it's never your fault. All you do is build your party, put them in the right spots, guess what supplies you'll need, pick a dungeon, and cross your fingers.

This also means that you won't feel accomplished for successfully completing a dungeon, because your only contribution was a lot of guesswork and some button-pressing. You didn't know how many items you'd need, you didn't know what the dungeon would look like or what you would face, and you didn't build your characters: you just got lucky.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

A Sundered World: More Character Stuff Preview 9

In A Sundered World, some races have a fixed race move, like the kytheran's made, not born, and the tarchon's call of battle. Others let you choose from a handful, namely the cambion (you pick a sin) and ishim (you pick a domain).

Elves were in the former camp, but in the upcoming more-race-and-class-stuff supplement you'll be able to choose whether to stick with at the edge of sight, or replace it with coral's emissary (the only restriction is that you gotta choose at 1st-level):


Coral's emissary lets you swim in the astral much more quickly than you normally would by drifting (mechanically, it lets you defy danger using DEX instead of INT when you're drifting if you want to), and you can also breathe underwater.

A few moves build upon coral's emissary, but of course there are plenty of others that let you, for example, use DEX when you hack and slash with certain melee weapons, give you a backstab-like ranged attack when you snipe, shape your limbs into ironwood weaponry (and cover your skin in bark), transform into something akin to an enthollow, and more.

If you have any race/class/move/equipment suggestions, or things you want us to clarify, let us know: even though there are currently over 250 new moves (in addition to new gear, including vehicles), there's still time to add more stuff!

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

4Ward/FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 405

Cast
  • Humal (level 6 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 6 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 6 elf rogue/ranger)

Summary
Sumia disappeared into the water along with several of Humal's skeletons, and to both Humal and Corzale's surprise she emerged in one piece several minutes later. She explained that a twisted underwater passage lead to a wide, dimly-lit chamber, with only a strange, irregular pillar reaching out of the water.

Since this was the only way left for them to go, they figured there must be something more to the room. When they arrived in the chamber, Humal ordered his skeletons to scale the pillar while carrying a rope, which they lowered once they reached the top, providing the rest of the party with a much easier means of ascension.

As Corzale climbed she noticed several thick pipes threading the pillar. They were all made of a single piece of metal, and connected to an oblong, metallic object that was embedded in the side of the pillar. Corzale could not ascertain the purpose the pipes or the object, which upon prolonged inspection looked disconcertingly like a heart.

At the top of the pillar was a metal lever, which was attached to a base that seemed to have been somehow...blended in with the surrounding stone. Sumia pulled the lever: the metal heart began to somehow undulate steadily, the pipes writhed, and they party could hear something popping and snapping within the pillar as it retracted. Fortunately the water receded with it, vanishing completely just before the pillar had finished lowering into the floor.

The party waited for a few minutes to see if anything else would happen, namely a bunch of monsters leaping out of the shadows to attack them. Nothing did, though Corzale was able to hear what sounded like faint, labored breathing coming from one side of the chamber. Sumia lit a torch, but the only thing they could see was an irregular hole in the ground near the edge of the torchlight.

Humal ordered a skeleton to approach the hole, and after a few moments something spoke. It sounded like multiple voices stating the same thing, just out of sync to varying degrees. It commented on a "strange mask it was wearing", and when the party said nothing a deeper set of voices followed up by asking if it needed something.

Sumia asked who was speaking, and a fleshy mass "flowed" out of the hole, quickly taking the shape of something nightmarish, vaguely octopus-like, and seemingly composed of innumerable humanoids that had somehow been fused together. Several of the faces not-quite-in-unison stated that the party did not belong there, while another cluster sounded overjoyed that it was "feeding time".

It dragged itself towards the party using numerous hands, tentacles, and hand-tentacles, knocking Humal's skeletons aside as it went, and scooping up Corzale and Sumia. They tried fighting back, but only Corzale was able to inflict any harm. The creature responded by trying to crush Corzale with its tentacles, but when her armor proved too sturdy it tried a new approach: a cluster of faces congealed into a massive beak and began tearing at her.

Humal had managed to evade the tentacles, but he didn't have enough mana to blind all of the faces, and wasn't sure if the creature could be charmed, so he directed his skeletal minions as best he could against it. The creature's grip soon slackened, which allowed Sumia to finally get her bow free and loose arrows into several of the faces: it suddenly tensed, before slowly slumping to the ground and separated into a pile of humanoid bodies covered in a strange, translucent slime.

Humal used some choice corpses to replace his minions before they returned to the lever. Sumia pulled it again, and the hole puckered and gasped as water erupted from it, again flooding the room while the pillar snapped and popped back into place. When the gruesome process was complete they could see a nearby bridge. It led to a door that appeared to be made entirely from iron, yet was oddly forged to appear as a wooden door bound in iron.

Sumia checked it for traps before opening it. Inside was a wide, long hall filled with doors: each end was capped by iron double-doors, one was on their side to the right, and four were evenly spaced on the wall across from them.

After checking the solitary door—which as far as Sumia could determine was merely a bathroom—they decided to investigate one of the sets of double doors. They weren't locked, and the room contained two tables, both of which were buried in stacks of books, scrolls, and sheets of paper, and notes were scrawled across a very detailed map of Dovin that hung on the far wall: a casual investigation of the materials revealed that the doppelgangers had infiltrated many positions of power in the city.

Sumia shoved as much as she could in her pack and bags, figuring that they could inspect them later and maybe either take out the doppelgangers themselves, or turn the information over to the authorities and let them sort it out.

Next up were the four doors. Each was locked, though nothing Sumia couldn't handle given enough time, but she was dismayed to find that each room was furnished with a pair of beds, two full-body mirrors, and trunks filled with clothing. Or rather, that they seemed to be: while investigating the fourth room Sumia heard the iron double-doors groan. She bolted to the now-pillaged espionage room, but when she found no one there deduced that there must be a hidden passage somewhere.

The party searched every inch of the floor and walls, and eventually Sumia discovered something in one of the corners. As with the rest of the complex, the wall looked to be made of a single piece of stone, but when she touched a section of it it...jiggled, as if made of some gelatinous substance. As expected, when she pushed it aside there was another room beyond...

Image Dump



Design Notes
I talked about some ways I changed the adventure in this post, but that was just the start. But, I probably won't reveal more beforehand unless we end up missing out on the game again.

I don't even have a normal giant octopus mini (I realized after the fact that Reaper has one, but it wouldn't have gotten here in time/we wouldn't have been able to paint it in time), and though I considered using a roper quickly settled on Hastur from Cthulhu Wars. Not what I was looking for, but at the least more thematically appropriate than a roper.

Jacob commented that it made him think of Fullmetal Alchemist, which is a great manga/anime series (if you watch it, make sure you watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood).

I wasn't thinking of that at the time, but coincidentally while reworking and running this adventure it gave me a lot of ideas for the wizard's transmuter suite. Not sure if it will make it into the core game (wizards already have plenty of talents to choose from), but it'll certainly give them the ability to do plenty of things you couldn't do in other D&Dish games (and without having to invest feats and/or insane amounts of time, XP, and money).

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

A Dungeon World Character Sheet That You Can Use

A week or so ago Melissa was tagged in a post on G+, in which someone asked Adam if they could use the new Dungeon World character sheet layout (which was still bad despite taking over a year to finish). The answer was both surprisingly and bewilderingly no: you're stuck using the horrible "classic" sheet, come up with your own, or use someone else's...

...like the blank no-frills one we designed specifically for A Sundered World:


Click here to get the full-sized PDF.

The background section is there because we use that in place of race for our "core" Dungeon World stuff, while race is also there because in A Sundered World races are treated something like compendium classes. So, for the innumerable horde that uses our stuff, put the background move in background, and if you use something with a race then record it over there (and, of course, all you A Sundered World owners already had this and knew what to do).

Unlike the classic sheet, there's plenty of space for gear, none of which is filled out by stuff you're more than likely gonna lose/break/upgrade/replace anyway. All of the move sections are completely blank, which along with having to write in your alignment and bonds is a bit inconvenient, but makes it possible to write in moves from multiclassing and/or compendium classes (and/or race moves if you're using A Sundered World).

Feel free to do whatever with it. I intentionally made it minimalist because we go through a lot of character sheets anyway and we like to save ink (and so do many others judging by all the people that asked me and Melissa to make black-and-white, no background print book variants).

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Dungeons & Delvers Cover

Melissa finished coloring the cover for Dungeons & Delvers (though I'll probably add some more linework), so now I got a neater image to use for blog posts, the community, and most importantly the actual game.

Let us know what you think.


Why frog-man? Because people demanded frog-man, I guess based entirely on the playtest game where one of the kids played a frog.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Bare-Bones Backgrounds

In the rare instance that I actually get to play a role-playing game, for several reasons I usually don't bother with a "deep" backstory, if I even consider a backstory at all.

First, there's the whole character death thing. I know certain groups of people loathe the idea of their excessively detailed characters dying, but for me it's of little concern: I'm perfectly happy fleshing the character out as the campaign progresses, if I even need to.

This leads to the biggest reason: if the DM or GM or whoever is doing a good enough job running the game, I'll likely be more focused on what's actually going on to notice that I didn't burden my character with paragraphs or even pages of almost certainly useless backstory.

Cases in point, I've only played Dresden Files a couple of times, in which an entire session can be completely devoted to character (and city) generation: you think of your high concept, some sort of "trouble" that plagues your character, describe your first "adventure", and then how you met up with two other characters.

In both games our characters' backgrounds never came up in play: we basically did a bunch of pre-game work in order to ultimately generate aspects, so we'd have something to "tag" for bonuses and compels. Looking back it felt like a waste of time, but ironically the most background-intensive campaign I've played wasn't Dresden Files or Dungeon World or some other story game, but Dungeons & Dragons.

Waaay back in 2004, maybe 2005, I played in a 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign in which both DMs (yes, there were two of them) had each of us write up two or three really detailed characters. We're talking at least a page, preferably more, per character. Essentially it was character generation as homework.

The deal was, once we submitted our characters they'd pick one, and from there build up an entire campaign to revolve entirely around them. Yeah, it was the wet dream of special snowflake Tumblrinas everywhere, but at the time I was the default DM so I was just happy to have a chance to play for a change.

Now to the DMs' credit the campaign was fun (eventually), but it had nothing to do with our incredibly extensive backgrounds. Despite playing it up until 12th-level before the campaign fizzled out (as long campaigns are wont to do), we never got to deal with anything from our backgrounds (though a few of us encountered some elements from them): the entire campaign was basically us traveling across a Jupiter-sized world doing odd-jobs and exploring.

Actually, if anything our backgrounds served to hinder the fun, because on at least one occasion a player dropped out (which wasted a bunch of prep), and another wanted to change characters due to boredom (3rd Edition ranger, what can I say?), but the DMs didn't want to scrap all the work they'd done integrating that character's background into the campaign, so they convinced him to keep on playing.

The next 3rd Edition campaign we played marked the first time I tried to run the Age of Worms adventure path (but certainly not the last). During the first session everyone made characters, and through some circuitous, somewhat forced social role-playing (one of the players wasn't big on that sort of thing), the party was eventually rounded up and headed off towards the Whispering Cairn.

This campaign was also really enjoyable, despite none of the characters having detailed backgrounds (if they had one at all) or being integral to the overall plot. Yeah, one or two times I slightly modded an adventure to reference a bit of backstory from one character (basically adding an encounter to The Hall of Harsh Reflections and The Champion's Belt), but a character could die, and a player could opt to change characters, without grinding the entire campaign to a halt or wasting a bunch of prep.

Which was good, since The Whispering Cairn is pretty fucking brutal.
My most successful Dungeons & Dragons campaign, however, was when I originally ran A Sundered World (using 4th Edition, of course). In that campaign, two characters only had very simple motivations (one was looking for a powerful weapon, the other for World Serpent spirit fragments), while the third seemed perfectly fine carting them about astral space in his magic boat in search of abandoned dominions because treasure.

At no point did the players lament the lack of character history, because they were so invested in what they were doing, and what was actually going on in the campaign: in their own words it was the best Dungeons & Dragons campaign they'd ever played.

Much more recently, but still a few years ago, I got the chance to play in an actual long-term Dungeon World campaign.

Not wanting to make things too strange for the GM, we all just stuck to the core book: Ben went with a paladin, Melissa chose a bard (a decision she would later regret, but spurred our decision to upgrade it), and I went with a thief because I didn't want to step on Ben's toes as a fighter, the cleric and wizard didn't really interest me (plus Melissa was already playing the healer), and I hadn't seen the thief in action before.

We sped through bonds, answered a few questions that the GM pitched to us about the setting and starting village before the dice hit the table, and you know what? It was fucking awesome. The most fun I've had playing Dungeon World. Yeah, we didn't spend much-if-any time dwelling on our backgrounds, but that was fine because there was plenty of other fun shit going on.

I'm perfectly happy just picking a race, class, and name, maybe a brief motivation, and then start rolling dice. I can always flesh out the character's history later, ideally if the DM/GM prods me for it because he wants to actually use it for some reason (assuming the character doesn't die or I get bored of it). Of course even if he doesn't, if the DM/GM is good enough then, again, I'll probably be much more focused on what's going on in the actual campaign to even bother.

Plus, DMs/GMs rarely if ever mine character backgrounds for adventure/campaign material: every DM/GM I've played with has an adventure in mind, and I'm not the kind of player that requires some specially tailored plot hook to see what they've come up with. I'm there to play: just point me in the direction of the nearest dungeon environ.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

4E D&D: Save the Princess, Episode 102

Cast
  • Aka (1st-level red panda hengeyokai slayer)
  • Kabuto (1st-level warforged vampire)
  • Mirai (1st-level human cleric/shaman hybrid)
  • Sho (1st-level spirit-folk cursed swordmage)

Synopsis
On their second day of slogging across the crater, the party came across a wooden, stalk-like growth that snaked up into the sky. Its branches gripped a series of stone platforms at various heights, from which water cascaded into a wide pool surrounding the stalk's roots. The mist and clouds quickly obscured it, so they had no idea how high it reached or how many platforms there were.

A stone bridge reached across the pool to a pipe clutched in the stalk's roots. It appeared unoccupied, and given that this was the first thing they'd seen since they'd entered the crater, they decided to explore it. However, before they were even halfway across the bridge a corpulent, fish-like creature flopped onto the stones behind Kabuto.

Kabuto stared at it while it jerkily stood on a pair of spindly legs, but when it began clumsily wobbling towards him, teeth bared, he turned to warn the rest of the party, which was when it spat a still-living, snapping fish at him. He was surprised that it was able to latch onto his chest, more so when it began easily tearing into his metallic body.

Sho charged and began blasting the bizarre fish-man with his magic up close, while Mirai hung back and battered it with powerful winds. Aka sliced the fish off of Kabuto, who then joined the rest, but after striking the fish-man it vomited forth a small group of smaller and seemingly normal-ish fish. They flopped about on the bridge for a few moments before growing wings, after which they began zipping about and biting the characters as they flew by.

Fortunately they weren't terribly strong, but moments after slicing, scorching, and smashing the fish, both humanoid and flying, a squad of five kappa soldiers emerged from the mist, likely attracted by Sho's flashy display of fire and lightning. Despite their wounds and exhaustion, the party stood their ground; they eventually succeeded in slaying four of the kappa and forcing the last to surrender, but Kabuto was destroyed during the battle.

Behind the Scenes
I reiterated to the group that not only is not every encounter intended to be fought, but many things in this place are going to outclass the lot of them, even if they manage to gain a dozen or so levels (like, given that this is a Mario thing and all, a level 15+ Donkey Kong is somewhere out there).

Fortunately 4th Edition can be pretty forgiving, which means that they'll ideally be able to realize that whatever is kicking their ass is probably going to kill them, so they can try to leg it sooner than later. Unfortunately, this time they stuck around.
I really tried to avoid houseruling the game, but I caved and started doing the "leveling up the party whenever" thing. Otherwise it's gonna take for fucking ever: after everything they've done, including the fights from this session, they were only halfway to 2nd-level. I'm using random tables from Rules Compendium to dole out treasure: they've got a few magic items, just not stuff that's ideal for them. Oh well, there's always the Enchant Item ritual.

Shane wanted to deal more damage, so I managed to convince him to roll up a tiefling oni infernal pact hexblade. That means bye-bye defender, but I've run a campaign with two leaders and a controller, so I think a party of one leader and two strikers will work out juuust fine. If not, they can always roll up new characters!

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

FrankenFourth: Renovating the Hall of Harsh Reflections (Part 1?)

Didn't get a chance to run our Age of Worms FrankenFourth playtest campaign this week, so I figured I'd just talk about some of the ways I'm improving The Hall of Harsh Reflections SO DON'T READ THIS JACOB OR KELLY IF YOU WANT TO AVOID SPOILERS.

The start of the adventure is mostly unchanged: the characters go to the Free City because they gotta talk to a guy named Eligos about Kyuss worms, they get to the Free City, they beat up a chimera, find Eligos, gotta wait several days for him to get the information they need, and then stay at the Crooked House until some doppelgangers try to frame them.

The only thing I changed at this point—aside from the flavor/lore surrounding doppelgangers, not that it mattered at this point—was the Crooked House: it became Stonehome, a big-ass stone monolith with an inn built around it. Instead of being run by gnomes, you've got (more mythologically accurate) kobolds that use hearths carved into the stone to teleport about the place.

Now, when I ran the adventure the characters ended up getting arrested, drugged, and carted off to a warehouse referred to in the adventure as the Sodden Hold. This is where I started making more changes. Cases in point...

The Doppelgangers
As I mentioned in this post, doppelgangers in FrankenFourth by default aren't a true-breeding race. There are a variety of monsters that would more or less fit the bill as a doppelganger, but most of them are aren't exactly what you'd call "naturally occurring".

The doppelgangers in this adventure were grown by the big-bad wizard Zyrxog in flesh vats (kinda like in The Dying Earth, but more of an alchemy thing than a magical thing), who is skilled enough in transmutation magic that he was able to grant them the ability to change their shape on a whim.

The Mimics
Like doppelgangers, Zyrxog also made the batch of mimics that guard the warehouse. The characters didn't fight them since they got captured, so here's the stat block I didn't get to use:

MIMIC
Level 5 Medium Aberrant

Ability Scores 
STR +3 DEX +1 WIS +1
CON +2 INT -2 CHA +0

Skills 
Athletics +4, Stealth +5

Defense
Initiative +1
Speed 5 feet/20 feet
Fort 13 Ref 11 Will 11
Armor 2 (thick hide)
Wounds 22 Vitality 12 Total 34

Adhesive The mimic can secrete an adhesive on any part of its body. If a creature or object touches it, they are stuck: it takes a Difficulty 13 check for a creature to free itself, or pry an object free. A strong alcohol dissolves the adhesive.

Shapechanger The mimic can assume the general shape of an object anywhere from 8 cubic feet (2 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet) to 125 cubic feet (5 feet by 5 feet by 5 feet) in size. Regardless of what it looks like, its body is hard and has a rough texture.

Offense
Pseudopod +5 to hit; 2d6+3 damage; 15+ the target is restrained by the mimic (Difficulty 13 to escape)

Bite +5 to hit; 2d6+3 damage + 1d6 acid damage

Zyrxog
Zyrxog isn't a mind flayer, but a thulid survivor. That is, someone who got a thulid symbiote latched onto their back, but somehow managed to resist being taken over and mutated by it without dying.
In his normal form he looks more or less human, but his tentacles can unfurl from his mouth.

Originally he was a wizard skilled in transmutation magic (technically he still is, just with some extra thulid abilities), which is again not only where the doppelgangers and mimics came from, but how he was able to construct the entire dungeon (which I'll get to in a bit).

The Sodden Hold, The Hall, And The Giant Octopus
The Sodden Hold is basically unchanged: a few rooms at the front are intended to make it look like a legitimate warehouse, though several crates are actually disguised mimics. A hidden passage along the catwalk leads to the back, which contains the prison cells and dilapidated room filled with water, rusty weapons, flimsy planks, and a pair of invisible stalkers because why not.

Beyond the shithole room, there's a smaller, better maintained room with a square shaft that contains water and a barrel. This ultimately leads to the second level of the dungeon: you gotta swim down, follow an underwater shaft into another room, climb up a pillar, and pull a lever to drain the water.

I was going to leave this part of the dungeon alone, but I thought of something more interesting to do, which isn't hard because it's a published adventure and even the best ones can use some tweaking. See, when the water is lowered you're supposed to be able to pull the lever, sit in the barrel, and let the water just carry you back up to the Sodden Hold level.

The problem is that what do you do if you're in the Sodden Hold and wanna get down, but the water is already up?

Whelp, in the official adventure there's a giant octopus that I guess guards the pillar room. I figure, why not make the octopus yet another result of Zyrxog's experiments? So now it's really smart and fucked up looking because he mashed a bunch of people together with a giant octopus: it'll have faces and arms in addition to tentacles. I'm thinking something like an octopus version of Envy from Fullmetal Alchemist.

Getting back to the barrel issue, in addition to guarding the chamber, I changed it so that if you sit in the barrel and yank on the rope three times, the "octopus" grabs the rope and drags the barrel into the pillar chamber. You can seal the barrel beforehand if you want/need to stay dry, and/or you suck at holding your breath.

The octopus/pillar room is described as being lit by everburning torches, which is something I hate because it's lazy and makes players lazy.

It's lazy because everburning torches (or continual light spells) have been everywhere in this adventure path. Instead of thinking up ways creatures in a dark dungeon would handle a lack of light, the writers just used everburning torches. This makes players lazy because, even if the dungeon isn't pre-lit, they can just buy one (or cast continual light) and stop worrying about torches.

So I ditched the everburning torches. The walls of the pillar room are instead lined with luminescent fungus. It isn't enough to brightly light the place, and has the added effect of giving the place an eerie, alien glow.

The walls also aren't hewn stone: everything looks to be made of a single piece of stone, but it's pinched and lumpy because Zyrxog used his magic to mold a lot of it by hand (riding around on his mimics when necessary to reach high places thanks to their adhesive slime). The doors look like wooden doors bound in iron, but everything is made of iron.

Finally, the pillar in the center is stone, but riddled with metal pipes, and there's a metallic, tumorous mass attached to the side that looks somewhat like a heart. When the lever on top is pulled, the "heart" begins to beat as if it were made of flesh, either draining or filling the chamber with water.

Sketch of kinda what I'm talking about.


Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Dungeons & Delvers: Into Yig's Coils, Take 2

In the interest of further playtesting armor-as-bonus-Wounds, adventurers with Defense scores, and monsters with Attack Pools, we played through Into Yig's Coils, the Dungeons & Delvers playtest adventure again.

While pretty much every playtest besides the first one or two sessions has gone smoothly—even the playtest campaign we ran using Melissa's adventure Heart of Hemskil—I enjoyed this session because the adventurers were able to clean house with only one long rest, and really that was just because of some horrendously bad luck on their part.

As before, the changes didn't affect the game's speed or complexity in any discernible way, so it looks like we're going to run with them (along with scaling Wounds by class). I'll repost the playtest adventure after incorporating all of the new rules changes (that are relevant to it, at any rate), that way people can read/play it and in the latter case let us know how it went for them.

Something else I want to mention is Melissa and I are considering Kickstarting the game.

As with A Sundered World, we want to wait until the text is almost completely done, because we don't want to be like so many other RPG Kickstarters that end up being severely late, when they come out at all (and we also don't want to end up having to rush out something half-assed). We're almost there: as with the playtest adventure we pretty much just have to adjust everything to account for the new rules.

Once that's done we'll figure out how much art we need, and project a delivery date that—also as with A Sundered World—we can meet while still giving others a chance to read/play the game, and tell us what sucks about it so we can effect changes.

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Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Divine Intervention

Triggered in a totally not-Tumblrina-way by Timothy's blogpost about clerics, I wanted to talk about what I don't like about the traditional/classic portrayals of clerics in Dungeons & Dragons, and how I aim to fix it in FrankenFourth and Dungeons & Delvers (and to a point already did in Dungeon World).

At the core of the problem is pseudo-Vancian magic.

I talk about it in this blog post, the gist of which is that leveled spell slots don't make any sense, even before you factor in—depending on your edition—cantrips/at-will spells, encounter spells, rituals, and class features that further jumble everything up (Channel Divinity, Divine Intervention, the stuff wizards get that lets them turn daily spells into encounters, etc).

Most of the problems with pseudo-Vancian issues can be fixed by simply using actually accurate Vancian magic, which would basically require giving wizards a universal "head space" for them to pack x number of spells into (reducing memorization time and not limiting them by the day would also fit/be nice). No leveled slots or even leveled spells, though spells with levels could still work and make sense, ala Dungeon World, where wizards can memorize a total of x levels of spells (1+your level).

I suppose that even cleric magic could work this way, flavored as the cleric petitioning his god for pre-determined divine miracles that get jammed in his mind. Though they would somewhat differ from the wizard in that they wouldn't need to pore over spellbooks to prep them (or find/steal/research new spells), this seems somewhat lazy: I'd frankly prefer to further differentiate it in some fashion if possible, make it feel more "cleric-y". But, before I get to that, I want to talk about other cleric things that bug me...

...like turn undead. Makes sense for a cleric that's actually about wiping out undead, less so for a cleric devoted to a god of, say, the ocean, war, wisdom, hunting, horses, and so on. I think it'd make more sense for a cleric to be able to turn whatever it is that his god doesn't like. For example, an elven god could "turn" orcs, and I've seen feats and prestige classes in at least 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons that let you turn other things like elementals: why not just let a cleric do that from the get-go?

Clerics being able to use all sorts of armor and shields was something I houseruled away in 3rd Edition, limiting them to chain mail and light and heavy shields (they of course could multiclass/pick up one or feats if they really wanted to use other armor and tower shields). I dunno, just seems odd that a cleric of plants, knowledge, or love knows how to wear it all. I'd restrict default clerics to lighter types of armor, and give them additional proficiencies if their god is about something like war or protection.

For our Dungeon World cleric playbook, we scrapped almost all of the core cleric and pretty much implemented everything mentioned above (except for proficiencies, since for some reason leather is just as good as chain mail and anyone can use any weapon).

You describe your god, choosing a name, domains, and adversaries to help figure out when certain class-specific moves are applicable. You can also determine rites, holy days, a favored weapon, what sort of sacrifices your god wants, sacred animals, and so on at the start, or you can fill them in later as needed/when asked by the GM (this also includes adding more domains and adversaries, within reason).

Instead of a bunch of cleric "spells", you use Favor points to keep yourself safe, gain a bonus when doing something that your god is about, and even heal others over time (no instant- or frequent-touch-healing, at least at the start). From there, the moves you pick make you better at healing, smiting, keeping you and/or others safe, and so on. Basically, we let you better control what your cleric is about, instead of just saying that every cleric is a skeleton-scaring heals on wheels.

You regain Favor by praying, which is a roll-and-result move so you might have to offer up sacrifices or perform services for your god to get it all back (some advanced moves will also force this). Oh, and you suffer a penalty on this and pretty much every other cleric move without your holy symbol on hand.

The Favor mechanic is something I originally cooked up for Dungeons & Delvers. Basically, you get 1 Favor point at the start, which you can spend to trigger a Domain Talent. For example, the Healing Domain lets you spend 1 Favor to negate a Wound that an ally would suffer (I had to do it this way in order to prevent the cleric from healing Wounds, praying to regain Favor, and repeating until everyone was topped off), while the War Domain lets you spend 1 Favor to have an ally re-roll a missed attack.

FrankenFourth operates pretty much the same way, though the mechanics differ since it's a d20 thing and therefore has more granularity and baseline complexity.

In both cases, Domain Talents drastically limit what the cleric can do, which avoids the CoDzilla issue that plagued 3rd Edition: you can't just pray to your god and change up your entire magical loadout after taking a nap. Yeah, you can pick new Domains when you level up (so long as your god has access to those domains), but even then you're choosing between spreading yourself out or getting more bang for your Favor, as some Talents can be upgraded, while others are part of trees.

The result is a class that is very much mechanically and I guess narratively different: you don't gotta worry about your magic harming you, but what you can do is limited by your god, who might limit or even revoke your powers if you're...insufficiently devout.

Other Spellcasters
As a bonus, here's how we are handling magic for other classes in FrankenFourth (and by extension, at least conceptually in Dungeons & Delvers).

Arcane magic as used by wizards is flexible-but-dangerous: you currently start with three Talents, which you can spend on three entry-level school Talents, invest two in one and dabble in a second, or even dump them all in three to specialize right from the start.

When you level up you can choose new schools or focus on what you know. It's really up to what you want to do, which leads me to the downside of wizards and their brand of magic: wizards are more fragile than other classes, and most of their talents carry a Fatigue cost, which drains your Mana, then Vitality, and finally your Wounds.

Fatigue costs are paid before any magic is used, and worse, many wizard Talents generate a random about of Fatigue. This makes wizard magic more dangerous than the rest, and prevents you from setting up a huge spell (even if you fully intend to go out with a bang). Sure, you can try to play it safe and only use one or more Talents whose total cost won't knock you out, but a monster can just as easily finish the job if you severely tax yourself.

(I should note that this is also how we handle wizards and their magic in A Sundered World, though instead of magic-school talents they learn and speak magical languages.)

Similar to wizards, sorcerer magic also generates Fatigue, but sorcerers are a bit tougher and manifest new powers once they run out of Mana and Vitality, reflecting their magic transforming them when used too much. This was inspired by early 5th Edition playtest drafts of the sorcerer, which in turn made me think of Howl from the anime version of Howl's Moving Castle.

For example, a dragon sorcerer grows scales when he runs out of Mana (bonus Armor), and his blood burns when he runs out of Vitality, allowing him to make a free attack when damaged in melee. We haven't worked on any other bloodlines, but I could see a storm sorcerer's body crackle with lightning and/or surrounded by strong winds.

The downside is that sorcerer magic is limited by your bloodline: dragon sorcerers, for example, can't summon demons and teleport, while storm sorcerers are basically about conjuring wind and lightning.

While we don't have a working druid build (yet), we have made a druid for Dungeon World that others have said is much more playable than the "official" version, and I think the FrankenFourth (and, again, Dungeons & Delvers) druid would follow a similar trend.

Wildshape is probably going to be an at-will thing, and let you simply choose from a list of benefits based on whatever form you're changing into. That, or it could use a set of stat blocks that evoke a kind of archetype. So, if you want to be a big, heavy hitter you can do that, or something fast, or something that can fly, and so on. I want to avoid choosing from monster stat blocks, because then you'll just run into the 3rd Edition issue of finding the "best" animal form.

As for the nature magic aspect of the druid, I'm debating having it also be at-will, or require a Wisdom check and/or blood sacrifice (which would cost Wounds, but probably wouldn't be a random amount like wizards and sorcerers). Definitely going to have it's share of ritual magic for stuff like growing plants, conjuring up storms, and summoning animals.

As with the druid, we made an improved bard for Dungeon World a while back. Also, as with the druid, others have said it's much more playable. This makes sense because Melissa's terrible experience with the normal bard was the impetus for us to create it, and having played both she of course vastly prefers the one we did.

Initially the class focuses on knowledge and telling stories, with a bit of magical music that only works outside of combat or when you rest. You can also deliver stirring speeches (also only outside of combat), which wasn't something I'd intended to include at the start but that's what the overwhelming majority of people providing feedback wanted.

Now, you can opt to focus on your magical music, but it still only ever works outside of combat: you don't sit there and strum a lute while the rest of the party dashes about carving up monsters around you. If you want to focus on combat, there are not-singing-moves to help you out in that regard: graceful swordsman, war skald, rallying cry, riposte, and even cutting jibe would qualify (we also included a couple of combat-oriented magic items).

Getting back on track, for a FrankenFourth bard I'm thinking that instead of Fatigue or points, their magic is dependent on Charisma/Perform checks or attacks. It would also largely be only usable outside of combat, allowing you to cause creatures to become drowsy, fall asleep, enchant/lure them, frighten them away, and the like.

The psionic classes we've cooked up for Dungeon World differ quite a bit: the psion just does things, often with roll-and-result moves, while much of the nomad focuses around sensing cracks in the fabric of space and exploiting them (a roll-and-hold move).

I think FrankenFourth classes would deviate from this by relying largely on power points like in Dungeons & Dragons, though I dunno if I'd let you exhaust and/or kill yourself using them (when you're out of power points, you're out). Maybe I could provide set points costs, and let you drain/kill yourself if you really want to. I recall some sort of psionic-focus mechanic from Expanded Psionics Handbook, which could also be useful.

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Cleric is out! Next up, The Paladin and probably The Mimic, after which we'll run another class vote.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

Dungeon World: The Cleric

The Cleric is now on sale! It has been added to our All of the Playbooks and Adventuring Party bundles, and since the next class is The Paladin we're going to make an alternate class bundle (which would include The Vancomancer and wizard from A Sundered World).

As with The Bard, The Druid, and The Fighter, this one deviates from it's Dungeon World iteration considerably: it's not merely a half-hearted and/or -assed reskin.

For starters, there's no pseudo-Vancian magic system. You have a handful of Favor points (something we originally cooked up for FrankenFourth) that you can spend to protect yourself, heal others (over time), and increase the odds of succeeding at tasks that fall within your deity's purview. You can also perform services for your deity in exchange for XP, attempt to ward off whatever it is that your deity is opposed to (not just undead), perform divine rituals, and use WIS instead of INT to see what you know about your deity and things relating to it.

The thirty advanced moves let you control how your cleric develops as you level up: you can repel your deity's enemies to a greater range (and even inflict harm if they're too close), lend allies some of your power, better protect yourself (and even your allies if they're close enough), call down your deity's wrath (which can decimate a group of enemies down the road), heal better and faster, gain more Favor, summon the servants of your deity (and even gain one of their abilities), and much more.

Like many of our classes, there are even a handful of other moves crammed in the back that we couldn't fit on the sheet.

For obvious reasons, holy symbols are also a pretty big deal (you're -1 to a lot of things without one), and there are rules for more expensive holy symbols, as well as symbols made from other materials and integrating them into a weapon or shield (both making your weapon or shield holy, and also freeing up one of your hands).

While this class is intended to replace the "official" cleric with something less dependent on older Dungeons & Dragons traditions, they're different enough that you could feasibly use both in the same game, or even mix and match the two and get something completely different!

This product contains four files.

Two are letter-sized character sheets that use our new character sheet layout, which was still just barely enough to fit all 30 advanced moves (the second character sheet uses copperplate gothic for the headers, which some might prefer).

The other two are digest-sized books, one in color, the other in black and white (to make it easier to print at home if you want). They both contain:

  • The cleric class.
  • New weapons, holy symbols, and dungeon gear.
  • A director's cut with questions to ask yourself when rolling up a cleric, explanations/clarifications for some of the moves, and some extra moves that we couldn't fit on the sheet.

You can see a preview of it over on DriveThruRPG.

Note: If you purchase using the PayPal Buy Now button, we will also send you a complimentary copy through DriveThruRPG. Please allow up to 24 hours for delivery, though it usually ends up being at most eight (depends on if you buy it after we've gone to bed).

$2.50

$2.75


$2.75


$2.75


Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Beastmaster has been released into the wild.

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

4Ward/FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 404

Cast
  • Humal (level 5 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 5 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 5 elf rogue/ranger)

Summary
After recovering their equipment, the characters learned from the surviving doppelganger that Filge had been captured by them (answering the question as to whether he had betrayed the characters), and that he was currently imprisoned somewhere beneath the warehouse while their boss experimented on him.

Initially they were going to spare the doppelganger's life, but changed their mind when it became clear he wouldn't let them leave with the other prisoner, a wealthy woman that one of them was impersonating because money. Whoever she was, she was unconscious due to a steady supply of drugs: they'd have to return for her after rescuing Filge.

The floor of the room beyond the makeshift prison had almost completely rotted away and/or collapsed, revealing water from which numerous rusted spear- and sword-blades jutted forth. Long, narrow planks of wood were arranged about, offering several treacherous paths across the water. To make matters worse, the doppelganger warned them that there was something invisible guarding the room.

After carefully examining the boards, Corzale realized that some were much flimsier than others. She was testing out a path, because if they could support her then Sumia and Humal would have no problem, when something struck her, hard. Unable to maintain her balance, she leaped for shore; while she didn't completely make it, she did manage to avoid getting impaled on the blades in the water.

While Humal helped Corzale up, Sumia raced across the planks and scattered the contents of a few acid vials about where she thought that whatever attacked Corzale would be. The acid splashed harmlessly into the water, and then the invisible creature swatted Sumia off of her plank.

Corzale went to help, but before she could hoist Sumia out of the water she was again struck, but this time she was able to maintain her balance. Corzale whirled about and swung her hammer at the seemingly empty space: there was some resistance, though she couldn't be sure how much harm, if any, she had inflicted on the creature.

Humal wasn't sure what to do, until Sumia surfaced and shouted to him that there were numerous skeletons in the water: He reached out with his magic and animated four of them. They hauled themselves up using the very spears that impaled them, snapped them off near the tips, and crawled onto the planks. Since the invisible creature seemed to still be in front of Corzale, that's where he directed them to attack.

The good news was that his guess was correct. The bad news was that this drew the creature's attention, and there were two of them: one flew towards Humal and cornered him, probably hoping that the skeletons would collapse if he was slain, while the other inadvertently shielded it from Corzale's thrown axes and Sumia's arrows. Luckily Sumia's arrows didn't turn invisible when lodged into the creature, which made it easier for Corzale to target it with her hammer even if it moved.

After a few good whacks Corzale heard a soft puffing noise, which she assumed meant that the creature was dead. She didn't have long to deliberate, as Humal's skeletons weren't proving very effective against the remaining creature: she raced back to shore, and just barely finishing it off before it pummeled Humal to death.

Even dead the creatures remained invisible, and their "corpses" felt light and spongy. Humal wondered if their remains could have some alchemical, or even possibly magical application, so stuffed both of them into a sack: once they rescued Filge he'd visit the mage's guild again and see.

The only other door led to a much smaller room, which contained a square shaft. Some thirty feet below they could see water, in which bobbed an open barrel. A rope ladder was set into one of the shaft's walls: Sumia used it to descend into the barrel, and discovered that a rope had been tied to it. The other end of the rope trailed off into the water, and when Sumia tugged at it found that it was solidly attached to something else.

Sumia offered to dive into the water, figure out where the rope led to, and return to tell them. Corzale and Humal reluctantly agreed, as she was the best suited for both swimming and keeping out of sight, but also the most likely to find herself in trouble. Just in case, Humal instructed his skeletons to follow and protect her.

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Design Notes
First time I've used invisible critters in FrankenFourth. The characters initially had a very slim chance to figure out where the invisible stalkers were, because they were moving very slowly, waiting for someone to get on the wooden planks (I think I pegged the Perception Difficulty at 25, which is effectively impossible for a character without a good Wisdom and/or Perception ranks).

But, after an invisible stalker attacked the players asked where the attack came from, which allowed them to make an educated guess as to where the invisible stalker was. If they guessed right, they got to make an attack without any penalties, unlike 3rd Edition, which imposes both an attack penalty and 50% miss chance even if you do "hit": I figured having to essentially wait and get hit was bad enough.

Here's the stat block for the invisible stalker (as quickly bullshitted together during the game):

Invisible Stalker
Level 5 Large Elemental (Air)

Ability Scores 
STR +4 DEX +4 WIS +2
CON +2 INT +0 CHA +0

Skills 
Perception +5, Stealth +7

Defense
Invisible: Always invisible, even when attacking, and cannot be dispelled.
Initiative +4
Speed 10 feet/30 feet; flying (hover)
Fort 14 Ref 14 Will 12
Armor 1
Wounds 26 Vitality 16 Total 42

Offense
Slam +5 to hit; 2d6+4 damage

Treasure
2d6 x 100 sp of invisible stalker substance

Invisible stalker substance can be sold to an alchemist or some other wizard, allowing you to just cash it in as you would gems or art objects that you don't wanna keep. It can also be used for oils and potions (it's value in sp lets you determine how many you can make using item crafting costs), and possibly magic items (ultimately up to the GM).

Announcements
If you're curious about FrankenFourth and/or Dungeons & Delvers, you can find public alpha documents here and here respectively.

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Beastmaster is also out, and we're working on a cleric and paladin class next. If there's anything you want/don't want to see in those classes, let us know!

By fan demand, we've mashed all of our 10+ Treasure volumes into one big magic item book, making it cheaper and more convenient to buy in print (which you can now do).

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