4Ward/FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 411

Cast
  • Humal (level 7 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 7 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 7 elf rogue/ranger)
  • Cenric (level 7 human fighter)

Summary
Searching Zyrxog's bedchamber, the party discovered a chest brimming with various coins and gemstones, numerous tomes on transmutation magic and Dovin, and a ledger written in a language that none of them could read, but Corzale believed might be distantly related to the dwarven tongue.

Backtracking, they returned to the small room with a circular stone pool. Sumia stepped into it, but when nothing happened Humal analyzed it with his arcane sight, which revealed that it radiated divination magic. He stared into it and thought of Athala, who they'd trapped in a coffin and stashed in the sewers, but the water only grew dark.

After some trial and error, Humal learned that it would only work if you thought of places you were familiar with, and it was limited to locations within Dovin. Corzale suggested destroying it, but after getting banned from Stonehome and accidentally destroying part of Filge's hovel, they were in the market for a new place to stay; this former-thulid-wizard's lair was looking pretty tempting, what with the single, well-concealed entrance, scrying pool, and fully stocked alchemist's lab one room over.

The center of the final unexplored chamber was dominated by a statue of a massive, vulture-like creature frozen mid-lunge. Humal scanned the room: the statue radiated magic, as did a variety of items contained in glass cases. He ordered his cockatrice skeleton to enter the room, and as soon as it stepped inside he saw a single magic "ripple". As far as he could tell nothing happened, but he still warned the rest of the party about what he had seen.

This did not deter Sumia, who was eager to see what was in the cases. When she stepped inside the room Humal noticed another ripple, but as before nothing seemed to happen. The first case contained an empty cage made from black metal, a perfectly preserved black dragon's head, a dagger that rested atop a red velvet pillow, and a length of bladed chain that slightly shifted when Sumia was close. Not bothering to inspect the other cases, she smashed the case open, but even using the hilt of her sword it was difficult: obviously the glass had been strengthened, and she cut her hand in the process.

This quickly became the least of Sumia's concerns, as the monstrous vulture-man-statue turned about and vomited a torrent of acid upon her, her owlbear, and Corzale, who had only entered the room to tend to Sumia's wound. Corzale circled behind the creature and pummeled it with her blessed hammer, but it continued to focus on Sumia. Humal ordered his cockatrice to attack before resorting to his illusionary-box-around-the-head-tactic, which provided Sumia with the opportunity to flee.

Corzale was barely standing when the creature was finally destroyed. Its flesh dissolved, leaving nothing but a pile of blackened bones. Humal hoped to upgrade from his cockatrice skeleton, but Corzale was adamant in destroying the bones. Humal relented, and after Corzale stormed off he and Sumia proceeded to loot the rest of the room. Amidst various trinkets, such as a small statue of a dragon, a tarnished, jagged sword, and a stuffed doll riddled with spikes that looked eerily like Corzale, they found a collection of mysterious tomes, including one bound tightly in chains.

Maybe Humal would get his demon skeleton after all.

Design Notes
Even though was had a pretty late start, we still managed to wrap up The Hall of Harsh Reflections. Next up, The Champion's Belt! Definitely related, I'm really glad I bothered to paint the Mashaaf I got in the second Bones kickstarters.

The vrock used the stats I cooked up in this post, so no dancing or spores, and its acid attack managed to destroy Sumia's armor in the process. I forgot Cenric was supposed to be there. Oh well, so did everyone else, and it's not like anyone died (though Sumia and Corzale came really close...better luck next time).

Melissa wants to pick up some wizard talents, specifically those from the Diviner tree, which is fine by me since this will allow me to actually work on that tree. If Jacob still wants transmutation stuff, I'll also have to do that one.

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

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, is finally out!

The Paladin is technically the sixth "core" class we've provided an alternative for. If you interested in an alternate class that isn't merely a half-assed reskin, check it out!

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 2)


In the final dungeon in The Hall of Harsh Reflections (the fourth adventure in the Age of Worms adventure path), it's possible for the characters to fight a vrock.

In case you don't know what a vrock is, it's a sort of demonic creature that looks like a cross between a humanoid and more-or-less a vulture (varies between editions) that, in addition to a suite of seemingly random spells, can screech once per encounter battle, hour, or day (also varies by edition), dance about to inflict a bunch of damage, and shoot spores that deals damage and covers affected victims in vines.

Despite the dancing and spores it isn't nearly as silly as the shrieker, but it's still silly enough that I'm going to change it up during the conversion.

Starting with the high concept, they're no longer elite troops fighting in a never ending war against another category of demonic creatures. Instead they travel to the mortal world, seeking souls that haven't passed on, or are unable to for some reason, in order to devour them. I haven't decided on a purpose yet (it's not important right now): if they're not part of an infernal hierarchy, then they could do this simply to feed, or perhaps create more vrocks. If so, then I guess they bring them to whoever they serve.

I'm mostly fine with their stats and overall combat capability, but I just can't envision a vrock clawing, then biting, and then I guess also kicking at someone, so I'm taking away their talon attacks and bumping up their bite damage: if I want a vrock to use its talons (like, say, when it comes swooping down upon someone), I can just use the claw attack numbers.

Next up I'm going to axe most of their spells. I'm cool with detect magic and see invisibility, since that plays off of the keen sight, but stuff like mass charm and telekinesis? Nooope. The turkey vulture has a good sense of smell, but instead of being able to smell decaying bodies vrocks can smell souls. Speaking of vultures, I'm also going to say they can transform into a vulture, or something that looks more like a vulture for when they wanna be discreet.

Finally, vultures have pretty strong stomach acid, and often vomit if threatened. While I guess they don't deliberately vomit on whatever is attacking them, I like the idea of this guy having a sort of acidic "breath weapon" to shake things up (and replace stunning screech).

Here's the stat block (easily adaptable to other D&D things):

Vrock
Level 10 Large Demon
XP 100

Ability Scores 
STR +5 DEX +2 WIS +3
CON +4 INT +0 CHA +2

Skills
Athletics +7, Intimidate +5, Perception +7, Search +7

Defense
Initiative +6
Speed 10 feet/30 feet; fly 20 feet/50 feet
Fort 15 Ref 12 Will 13
Armor 2 (demonic hide)
Wounds 71 Vitality 31 Total 102

Special
Vrocks can detect magic by sight, and see invisible creatures, ghosts, and spirits. They can smell the presence of ghosts and spirits up to 100 feet away, and can harm such creatures normally with their beaks and talons. Should a vrock destroy a ghost or spirit it is also devoured: until the vrock is slain, the creature cannot be returned to life or pass on.

Vrocks can use their action to transform into a vulture or revert back to their true form. In vulture form their size becomes Small, and their bite and talons only deal 1d6+5 damage, but their other statistics remain the same.

Offense
Multiattack The vrock makes two claw attack and one bite attack.

Claw +8 to hit; 2d6+5 damage (1 armor piercing)

Bite +8 to hit; 2d8+5 damage (2 armor piercing)

Vomit (recharge 5+) Affects everything within a 30 foot cone; +8 vs Reflex; on a hit the target suffers 2d8+5 acid damage (half damage on a miss); 18+ the target takes an additional 1d8 acid damage at the start of its next turn, and any armor worn has its Armor reduced by 1 until it is repaired.

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

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, is finally out!

The Paladin is technically the sixth "core" class we've provided an alternative for. If you interested in an alternate class that isn't merely a half-assed reskin, check it out!

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).

RPGaDay: Best Way to Learn a New Game?

This one's easy: play the game.

In my teenage years, I remember my then-group having trouble learning Shadowrun, so one weekend I brought the book over to a friend's house, we made characters as we learned how to make them, and we learned everything else while playing. So, for example, we didn't know how combat worked until a fight broke out, then we pored through the book to see how we determined initiative, tried to hit things, tried to avoid getting hit, and so on.

Though I've only played it once, I loved that the adventure in Edge of the Empire's Beginner Game teaches you the rules while you play, and I think all RPGs should have something like this (I know we're doing this with the intro adventure for Dungeons & Delvers). That way you don't just have one guy figuring it out and then teaching everyone else: everyone at the table can learn together.

Also, I think it's useful to see how the creator of a game handles various things (or what various things in the game were intended to do): for example, if Dungeon World had more/better examples, there probably wouldn't be a fan-made beginner's guide to the game.

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

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, if finally out!

The Paladin is technically the sixth "core" class we've provided an alternative for. If you interested in an alternate class that isn't merely a half-assed reskin, check it out!

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: Player Fragments Color PDF

Melissa finished coloring the art, so we've updated the product files to include the color PDF, and we're now going through the process of getting print options available (let us know if you catch anything).

From the original post:

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, is on sale! If you already purchased A Sundered World, you should get a discount link so you can save yourself a buck (just make sure your DriveThru account is set to receive email from publishers).

Inside its 124 pages you'll get:

  • New race, class, and compendium class moves for everything in A Sundered World.
  • Four additional races, including the thulid.
  • A new compendium class, the divine harvester: kill invokers, take their shit, and gain access to their powers.
  • New weapons, spirits, and materials.
  • New gear, including t'pual hardsuits, mindtraps, alternative kytheran materials, and kytheran warframes.
  • New ship materials and features.
  • Actual stats for enthollows and jotuncases.
  • Six new magic items, each themed for one of the classes in A Sundered World.
  • Rules for companion characters (for when you want or even need something more robust than a hireling).

While the content is obviously intended to be used with A Sundered World, or at the least A Sundered Fragments: Races & Classes, the races, equipment, and companion rules can be used as is, and you could always lift the class moves for use with something else.

Print options are to follow. If you buy it now, you will receive discount links to pick up both the B&W and color books "at cost" (you can use one or both, we don't care).

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).

$8.99

$9.99


$9.99


$9.99


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 Paladin is out, and The Therianthrope is on its way!

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 410


Cast
  • Humal (level 7 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 7 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 7 elf rogue/ranger)
  • Cenric (level 7 human fighter)

Summary
Humal determined that the symbol on the floor was a sort of magical trap, that would at the least cause whoever triggered it to hallucinate for a period of time. Not wanting to risk anyone else's health, he instructed his cockatrice skeleton to stand on it. The symbol flared brightly before vanishing, and as expected the cockatrice skeleton seemed completely unaffected.

Sumia asked Humal to check for any other magical effects, just in case, and when he shifted his sight spotted a glowing white sphere above them. When he tried to point it out it vanished. Apparently someone was spying on them; so much for the element of surprise.

They continued on until they found another chamber. A door made of white marble was set into one of the walls, flanked by a pair of pillars, both branded with a strange sign that none of them recognized. Humal checked for magical auras, once again spotting the white sphere, which also vanished before he could point it out. Suspecting a trap, Sumia started by inspecting the pillars. While she didn't find a trap, she did find a strange, octopus-like creature with pincer-tipped tentacles hiding behind it.

It lashed at Sumia, as two more emerged: one from behind the other pillar, and the other from a crevice in the far wall. The party assumed that they were sort of doppelganger, up until Corzale smashed one and splattered ichor and viscera about. After they were destroyed, Humal examined the remains and theorized that he could possibly craft a suit of leather armor for Sumia, which would grant her enhanced protection should she remain still.

They gathered up the largest chunks they could find, but before they could recuperate the marble doors swung open: a pair of doppelgangers in what amounted to their natural form stood there, instructing the party to follow them and meet their Master. After some deliberation they agreed, and after passing through several rooms arrived in a circular chamber, largely occupied by a rectangular pool filled with translucent green eggs.

A throne was perched at the far end, atop which sat a man in black robes that they had never seen before. He candidly explained that he had been hired to kill the party, but if they swore to leave the city and never return he would let them go. After all they'd already wreaked plenty of havoc thus far, and he preferred to not expend any other "resources" disposing of them.

The party opted for a third option. Humal conjured a massive illusionary bird and sent it after Zyrxog, while Corzale blasted him with divine light. Cenric rushed towards him, wading through the pool to try and close the distance, but before he made it or Sumia could act a wall of stone erupted from the floor, separating Zyrxog and Cenric from the rest of the party.

The doppelganger escort ganged up on Humal. Corzale went to his aid, but after crushing one a section of the wall slid across the room and slammed into her. Though she managed to avoid getting pinned, it gave an obviously mind-controlled Cenric enough time to run through the opening and attack Humal. Not wanting to hurt Cenric, the party continued focusing on Zyrxog, but before Corzale delivered the killing blow he surrendered.

If the party agreed to spare him, he would tell them everything. The party didn't debate long—Humal was confident that he could figure out who Zyrxog was working for, and he'd just go back to using doppelgangers to gradually take over the city—but by the time they decided to kill him and sort everything out later, an insect-like creature detached itself from Zyrxog's back, leaped into the pool, and exited through a drain.

Corzale rushed to the hole and blasted it with more divine energy, but when Humal sent a skeleton after the creature it came back empty handed.

Design Notes
I was concerned that combat was "too easy", but even with their armor, Vitality points, and Corzale's blessing of protection (+1 armor and temp hp for the whole party), Healing Domain (spend Favor to reduce Wound damage), and Hymn of Healing (reduce Wound damage by 1 if you're super close to her), the players all assured me that the game certainly feels deadly. Jacob and Melissa both stated that without their Vitality points and Corzale's healing, they would have been dropped on several occasions (and Melissa has been dropped before).

Even so, I'm going to put in a houserule section in whatever I end up calling the Dungeon Master's Guide (or the GMing section) for those that want a more lethal game and/or randomized Wound/Vitality points. This would include giving characters only Wounds, rolling a die and splitting it up between Wounds and Vitality (favoring Wounds of course), and making Vitality replenish at a slower rate (or even a randomized amount at a slower rate).

We spent sometime post-session talking about The Therianthrope (the next Dungeon World class) and wizard talents. From the sound of it, the wizard will end up with about four talent trees to choose from at the start, with more getting added later. Currently everyone seems to mostly dig Abjurer, Enchanter, Evoker, and Illusionist, but we can always put it to a vote.

I've also been noodling about how to handle the druid, specifically druid magic (the shapechanging part is easy). Pseudo-Vancian magic doesn't make any sense, so that's out, and giving them spell points doesn't feel right. I'm leaning towards giving them more ritual-based abilities (like control weather and plant growth), and having some magic talents do one thing if you spend Vitality, and another if you spend Wounds (giving it a kind of blood sacrifice kind of vibe). Could also give the druid a point system similar to the cleric, except that they need to provide offerings to various nature spirits instead of praying a god.

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

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, is finally out!

The Paladin is technically the sixth "core" class we've provided an alternative for. If you interested in an alternate class that isn't merely a half-assed reskin, check it out!

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).

RPGaDay: Largest In-Game Surprise You Have Experienced?

Since David is usually the GM, I'm going to answer this RPGaDay question. There are actually two instances I can think of. The first was during the Ravenloft game that David was running using Dungeon World. I was playing The Witch, because I wrote most of the class and wanted to see how it held up over the long-term.

At the last leg of the campaign we geared up and headed off to Castle Ravenloft. After some fighting and a rotten dinner party Strahd pops up at the other end of a long hall, taking shots at us with a poisoned crossbow while we're dealing with a bunch of ghouls. He shoots at me, I roll to defy danger and miss, completely run out of hp, roll my last breath and also miss that roll, and get immediately taken out of the fight.

It sucked, but it wasn't David's fault. I tried bargaining with him to stay in the game at least for the big finale, but in hindsight it would have just been a watered down experience: I know what I rolled, and I knew what the results meant. It's just the way the dice roll sometimes.

The second big surprise happened much more recently (and wasn't nearly as bad), during the Age of Worms campaign using David's FrankenFourth system. It was the session where he revealed to us that Sumia had been a doppleganger for most of a session.

To recap, my character went to find Filge (guy from the first adventure) in order to get his help with something. Turned out he needed Sumia to help him move some 'things' in the sewers below his place. At the time David said he wanted to save time, so rather than go through a few fights that she would surely succeed at, just said that Sumia did the job and half an hour later was back to the inn. David mentioned that she smelled, and after asking what the party was going to do I said that Sumia would go take a bath. I didn't ask about my owlbear, which was a mistake.

The rest of the party stayed in the tavern to drink and relax, and a few minutes later David said that my character walked back down into the tavern, murdered the innkeeper with a demon horn that she found in the first adventure, then ran back up the stairs towards the rooms. In my mind I was like, "What the fuck!" Obviously it wasn't me, right? The party (and some angry patrons) ran upstairs and found Sumia in one of the baths. I tell them I didn't do that and have been right there washing myself, because as far as I know that's what Sumia had been up to.

Of course we are all shocked by the events and the party stuck up for me with the guards who came in later. It didn't work and we were all arrested, and while in jail we tried to figure out what was going on and escape, but we ended up getting drugged and moved to where the real Sumia was, bloodied and beaten. It's then that David revealed to us that when Sumia went into the sewers with Filge, she got ambushed, captured, and a doppelganger had taken her place.

We were all surprised, and I'm glad David played it out like that without telling me, as I think it made my actions and reactions more genuine.

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

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, if finally out!

The Paladin is technically the sixth "core" class we've provided an alternative for. If you interested in an alternate class that isn't merely a half-assed reskin, check it out!

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).

RPGaDay: Your Best Source of Inspiration for RPGs?

Mostly video games, books, movies, my random thoughts, and rarely other paper-and-pencil roleplaying games (though I have looked through older D&D editions while designing FrankenFourth, mostly to nail down how complex I want it to be). Some examples:

H.P. Lovecraft is responsible for a lot. I've run numerous FrankenFourth playtest adventures that involved cults of various ancient ones, I ran a whole 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign around Allabar, I thought up a campaign setting that is orbited by the scorched husks of not-yet-dead ancient ones, and so on.

While playing through Super Mario World and/or Super Mario Wii I got the idea to run a campaign that had the characters go into a crater inhabited by kappa, fungus zombies, and—if they'd kept going—carnivorous plants, giant fish and beetles, etc, all in search of a princess that had gotten kidnapped.

I very recently read Stormbringer, which got me thinking about including alignments as an optional thing in FrankenFourth. Not as personality guidelines, but more your character is allied with a god/god-like entity of chaos or law, which you can beseech for aid, or might impose tasks upon you (similar to the Dungeon World warlock).

Crafting from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt mostly served as a basis for crafting in both FrankenFourth and Dungeons & Delvers (also alchemical potions). You spend x money to make something, but instead of needing better formula/designs, if you're experienced enough you can spend more money to make better versions (though training requires you to spend enough time and money with a craftsman that's better than you, which becomes progressively harder the better you get).

Oddly the Blood and Wine expansion (also Witcher 3) got me thinking about item sets, as opposed to, say, Diablo 3.

A movie or TV series maybe (I forget what it was) got me thinking about writing/running an adventure that involved an alien invasion. Also been wanting to write/run something to do with a haunted house/location. A bunch of movies are responsible for that one.

I don't remember why I thought up the whole Epiro thing. Closest thing might be the God of War series, but looking back nothing in the campaign really felt inspired by it.

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

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, if finally out!

The Paladin is technically the sixth "core" class we've provided an alternative for. If you interested in an alternate class that isn't merely a half-assed reskin, check it out!

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).

RPGaDay: What Game is Your Group Most Likely to Play Next?

The Monday group is approaching the halfway mark of an Age of Worms campaign, which I'm running using my homebrewed FrankenFourth rules, and the Wednesday group is on hold since "real life" has taken a hold of half the members.

I'm not sure what the Monday group will play next: maybe another FrankenFourth campaign? I have numerous campaign ideas, but also wouldn't mind running Savage Tide or Expedition to Castle Ravenloft again (October is coming up, after all).

In terms of other systems, Jacob has mentioned Godbound, which sounds like an actually playable Exalted, but after reading through all the new moves out of A Sundered World: Player Fragments Melissa has suggested Dungeon World (or at least an A Sundered World campaign using the Dungeons & Delvers rules).

For Wednesday, no clue. We were playing 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, but Maria has pitched Shadows of the Demon Lord, and Dungeons & Delvers has also come up a few times. Just gotta wait for the other players to get some free time again.

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

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, if finally out!

The Paladin is technically the sixth "core" class we've provided an alternative for. If you interested in an alternate class that isn't merely a half-assed reskin, check it out!

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 409

Cast
  • Humal (level 7 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 7 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 7 elf rogue/ranger)
  • Abby (charmed/dead? doppelganger)
  • Cenric (level 7 human fighter)

Summary
Abby explained that just beyond the entrance was a chamber filled with a fungus that would scream if it detected light or felt vibrations in the ground. The only way around was to climb across the ceiling, something that the doppelgangers could do with ease, and—as with many other things—Abby didn't know that most humanoid races couldn't do.

Humal conjured a wall of illusionary blades that he urged across the darkened room, destroying the fungus before it had a chance to scream. When they crossed the room they saw that the fungus looked to have been composed from humanoid parts, specifically faces.

The passage leading out was narrow and tall, and shortly after they'd entered several crab-like creatures emerged from a shelf near the ceiling. They scuttled along the walls and ceiling, spraying a highly flammable fluid that ignited when it came into contact with Corzale's torch. The ensuing explosion scorched everyone but Humal and his cockatrice skeleton, lighting Sumia and Corzale on fire.

Unable to climb the mostly smooth walls, after they extinguished the flames Sumia and Corzale relied on ranged attacks. Fortunately Humal's cockatrice skeleton was tall enough to peck at them with its beak, and Abby was able to easily ascend the walls. When the first creature was slain, its body reverted into a pale, waxy substance that dripped to the floor, revealing them to at least be related in some way to doppelgangers.

The party managed to kill the rest, but not before Abby had been what they assumed was grievously wounded: it fell to the floor and transformed into a sphere. Sumia and Humal tried poking and speaking to it, but it remained inert. Even Corzale's threats to smash it received no response. Humal and Corzale decided that, despite how helpful it had been that it was probably best to destroy it, but Sumia convinced them to just roll it in a corner and continue on.

The passage soon opened into a much wider chamber that contained a cistern, which glowed brightly due to a fungus growing along the bottom that Corzale knew was not only harmless, but edible. When she went to eat some, she spied a small trove of gold and platinum coins strewn about. Sumia and Humal were tempted to grab some, but eventually decided that the risk was not worth the reward (plus they could always come back later).

The next chamber was wide, high, and the only features were numerous holes in the walls. The party carefully crept about, waiting for more doppelgangers to ambush them. To be fair the ambush did come, just not when and where they expected: while examining the chamber they came across a makeshift prison that was chained shut. Sumia was able to easily pick the lock, and huddled in the darkness they found a half-dozen disheveled and frightened people, and a similar number of rotting corpses.

It took them a bit to more or less earn the prisoners' trust, what with the doppelgangers physically and mentally torturing them for who knew how long, but as they started to escort them out the corpses rose and emerged from the shadows. While the party kept them at bay, the "people" retreated from the prison and locked the door behind them before reverting to their true forms. One of them stated that it would alert the Master, but it barely made it a few steps before an arrow struck its head and an owlbear knocked another to the floor and tore it apart.

Sumia's owlbear.

Cenric rushed into view, skewering another doppelganger before the survivors fled. He lacked both the tools and expertise to pick the lock, and didn't notice a key amidst the doppelganger remains, so Humal told him to go after the others. After destroying the zombies, Sumia was able to once again pick the lock by the time Cenric returned: he told them that the doppelgangers ran past a large, glowing symbol that covered the floor in a tunnel before he could catch them. He didn't know what it was, but suspecting nothing good, and suggested Humal take a look at it.

Design Notes
The original adventure had the dungeon filled with drow and a spirit naga. I kept the naga (though the party didn't encounter it because they wisely avoided taking any coins from the cistern), but felt it would make more sense for the BBEG to continue employing a variety of vat-grown doppelgangers.

Melissa finally got her owlbear back. Since it levels with her, it not only has more Wounds and Vitality than before, it also gets +1 to hit and deals +1d4 damage with all of its attacks. She wanted to move back into rogue, and after some back and forth decided to allow the Sneak Attack talent to work even with ranged attacks (I know there's a feat you could take in 3E and 4E to get ranged SA when an enemy is flanked by two allies, but I guess in 5E it just works that way normally).

In retrospect I'm not sure if Humal's illusion should have worked since the fungus wasn't exactly intelligent, and the Phantasmal Killer talent has you make an attack against the target's Will Defense. We did end up increasing Phantasmal Killer damage from d6 to d10, since using it requires mashing together a series of talents that can get kind of spendy Mana-wise, which was often more expensive than Humal sustaining his cockatrice skeleton.

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

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, is finally out!

The Paladin is technically the sixth "core" class we've provided an alternative for. If you interested in an alternate class that isn't merely a half-assed reskin, check it out!

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).

RPGaDay: Hardcover, Softcover, Digital? What Is Your Preference?

It depends.

For things like single classes (or subclasses), small adventures, and collections of monsters or items I'm fine with a PDF, especially if it's something I might only use a couple times (and if I need to reference it at the table I can use my phone with minimal fuss). If I can pick up a physical copy, I'm fine with a softcover because it's easily replaced (if I even care to).

For bigger books that I'm likely to reference a lot, like core rulebooks—whether it's the entire game in one book, or the D&D Player's Handbook/Dungeon Master's Guide/Monster Manual trio—or larger adventures, I prefer physical over digital because I can write notes/put in sticky notes/bookmark pages, and I prefer hardcover over softcover because they last longer.

Of course when ordering online, I like getting PDFs bundled with physical stuff (that way I can start reading it right away).

Some people have other preferences, which is why thanks to Lulu and/or DriveThru's print-on-demand service we try to make things available in as many formats as we can (including B&W and color versions), so you can ideally get our stuff how you want it.

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

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, is finally out!

The Paladin is technically the sixth "core" class we've provided an alternative for. If you interested in an alternate class that isn't merely a half-assed reskin, check it out!

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: Player Fragments

A Sundered World: Player Fragments, the first supplement for A Sundered World, is on sale! If you already purchased A Sundered World, you should get a discount link so you can save yourself a buck (just make sure your DriveThru account is set to receive email from publishers).

Inside its 124 pages you'll get:

  • New race, class, and compendium class moves for everything in A Sundered World.
  • Four additional races, including the thulid.
  • A new compendium class, the divine harvester: kill invokers, take their shit, and gain access to their powers.
  • New weapons, spirits, and materials.
  • New gear, including t'pual hardsuits, mindtraps, alternative kytheran materials, and kytheran warframes.
  • New ship materials and features.
  • Actual stats for enthollows and jotuncases.
  • Six new magic items, each themed for one of the classes in A Sundered World.
  • Rules for companion characters (for when you want or even need something more robust than a hireling).
While the content is obviously intended to be used with A Sundered World, or at the least A Sundered Fragments: Races & Classes, the races, equipment, and companion rules can be used as is, and you could always lift the class moves for use with something else.

Color and print options will follow once Melissa finishes coloring everything. If you buy it now, you will receive the color PDF when it is available at no additional cost (we'll just update the product files), and when the print options are available you will get a discount link to pick up both the B&W and color books "at cost" (you can use one or both, we don't care).

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).

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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 Paladin is out, and we're holding the next Dungeon World class vote now!

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: Meet the Cleric

If you want to see more details on what I'm talking about in this blog post, check out the FrankenFourth alpha document. It's got all the cleric stuff, plus a bunch of other stuff.

In most editions of Dungeons & Dragons, cleric "magic" operates under the same pseudo-Vancian system that wizards use, which doesn't make any sense. I've also never liked that magical healing in some form (whether spells, healing potions, wands, etc) is basically mandatory: I think clerics/magical healing should be useful, but the game should still work without one.

So, I've designed the cleric class and various parts of the game (such as the Wound/Vitality split and armor-as-damage-reduction) to address these issues, while also giving clerics stronger ties to their god.

Wounds & Vitality
As with D&D, clerics are slightly less durable than fighters: they start with 1 fewer Wound and Vitality Point at 1st-level, and when they level up they get 1 fewer Wound Point (Vitality Points are the same).

Proficiencies & Skills
Clerics can use simple weapons, unless they have the War Domain talent, in which case they can use any weapon. They can wear up to medium armor and normal shields at the start. Maybe I'll change it to just light armor, and have the Protection Domain give you access to medium armor and shields, or let you pick two talents, one of which can give you access to heavier armor/shields (and if you want to play an unarmored cleric, the Divine Aegis tree has you covered).

For skills, you get Religion automatically and can choose two more. This way you don't gotta worry about bullshitting up a background just so you can pick the skills you want. So, if you want to be a cleric that worships a thief god, you can simply choose Stealth and Thievery.

Class Features
Clerics start with Favor points, a prayer, a Domain talent, lance of faith, and Religious Lore.

Religious Lore gives you a +5 bonus when you make a Religion check to see if you know something that relates to your god in some manner. Originally I had a sidebar that explained that Difficulties for clerics making a lore check to know stuff about their god should be lower than normal (for example, 15 for everyone else and 10 for the cleric), but people kept telling me that it would be easier to just give them a hefty bonus.

There are currently three prayers to choose from: one gives you a bonus to damage, another reduces damage when you take Wound damage, and the other bumps up your Armor rating. I'm thinking of removing them entirely, making them into their own talents, or folding them into other talents (especially if I decide to give clerics a second talent choice at the start).

Favor points are a currency that clerics use to activate various cleric talents, though some require you to have at least 1 Favor in order for them to work. Clerics start with an amount equal to your Wisdom (again, stats in FrankenFourth are just a modifier, so most clerics will have 2-3 not 14 or so), and you gain a point every time you level up. When you spend a short rest (about 30 minutes) praying to your god, you set your Favor to its maximum (though maybe it should be something like 10 minutes per point, and/or sacrifice materials to gain Favor back much more quickly).

What helps differentiate cleric magic from wizard magic is that you don't spend a random amount of points, and you can't hurt yourself: if you don't have any Favor, you can't use a talent that require you to spend Favor (and you lose access to talents that require 1 or more Favor available). You also get fewer points overall, and they're tied to Wisdom. Plus, if you go against your religion's dogma, your god can at any point revoke your divine powers.

Lance of faith is a relatively recent addition to the cleric's repertoire: you can spend 1 Favor point to make a ranged attack that relies on your Wisdom. Talents could modify this, so if you worship a god of storms a talent could change it to lightning damage and also bump up the damage die.

Instead of having access to a bunch of spells, you get to choose a Domain talent, which can be any that belong to your god's portfolio (there's no cap on Domains, though the GM might limit how many your god can have). Currently you can choose from the Healing, Protection, and War Domains: the Healing Domain lets you spend Favor to reduce damage that a creature suffers by 1d4 points, to a minimum of 1, Protection lets you spend Favor to force an enemy to re-roll an attack, and War lets you use any weapon, plus spend Favor to re-roll a failed attack.

Obviously there will be more Domain talents to choose from later (Fire, Storms, Sun, Crafting, Winter, Hunting, etc), but for now I want to keep things simple.

At Higher Levels
At levels 2-5 you get to choose another talent, and lance of faith will automatically deal increased damage at certain levels (probably every 5). As with the fighter, you can rank up a talent you already have, or branch out into other abilities or Domains (if your god has access to more Domains). Not only do you get to better control how complex your cleric is, it also avoids the issue of clerics getting immediate access to a heap of new spells with each new splatbook that comes out.

Some cleric talents are essentially divine rituals, which let you do stuff like bless weapons for a period of time, restore Wound damage, and even bring someone back to life. The downside is that they cost time and money, so normally can't be used in combat without the Divine Intervention talent (use a ritual as an action, but you gotta pay the cost as soon as possible or bad things will happen). For example, Miracle of Healing requires 10 minutes and a 50 sp sacrifice: when it's done, the recipient regains 5 Wound Points.

Something I haven't added, but will, is a "turning" ability, though it'll be more like our Dungeon World cleric in that you choose a category of creatures that gets turned/damaged/destroyed, instead of just being saddled with undead.

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 Paladin is out, and we're holding the next Dungeon World class vote now!

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).

RPGaDay: What Story Does Your Group Tell About Your Character?

As I've said numerous times I rarely get to actually play roleplaying games, and the only gamer I routinely talk to face-to-face with is Melissa (unless we're gaming with our kids, we only play via Hangouts). So, I again went to her with this question, and funnily enough I for some reason had this exact scenario in mind when she answered, even though it wasn't really my character.

It happened during I think the second time we played Dungeon World, well before I saw the crappier side of the community and started publishing things. I'd originally rolled up a halfling fighter, because it was something I hand't played and I knew I could milk that whole "+1 to defy danger when size matters" move pretty much all the time (though Josh had me change to a D&Dized kobold later because he doesn't like halflings).

Melissa was playing a druid of some sort, and I think Kamon was also there, but I forgot what he was playing. That's not important, what was important was that at some point we were chasing someone for some reason, and Melissa had to go away from the table. I took over her character, which started a trend that still haunts her to this day: cool shit happening to/with her character when she isn't around.

We chased the guy into the sewers, but he managed to get far enough ahead that he had time to close and lock a grate behind him. Being a fighter and all I might have tried to force it open and failed, because what definitely happened was that Melissa's character had turned into a snake so she could just ride around on us during the chase. So, I threw her through the grate, then had her change into a horse mid-air and kick the grate down. Since the druid shapechanging move is basically "roll+WIS to get 1-3 auto successes", Josh probably felt that it was horse-y enough that she just had to spend 1 hold.

Default druids only revert back to their human form after spending all of their hold, so the other two characters (Kamon's and mine) hopped on and I probably spent another hold to "run really fast" in order to catch up with whoever it was we were chasing.

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 Paladin is also available!

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 408

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

Summary
Once Corzale returned from the temple, the party plotted their next course of action. Assuming Abby was telling the truth, the creator of the doppelgangers was hiding in the sewers underneath a blacksmith's shop known as the Cold Forge. Even better, Abby could both lead them directly there and provide intelligence on what to expect within.

But, before they could leave someone unexpectedly knocked on their door. Reasonably assuming the worst, Sumia and Corzale hid while Humal answered it, his cockatrice skeleton more or less hidden under a tarp nearby and poised to strike. He was surprised but not at all relieved when he opened the door and found a lone woman standing there.

She wanted to know more about the incriminating documents that Humal had dropped off the previous day. Near as Abby could tell she wasn't a doppelganger, so Humal explained that they found them in a warehouse filled with doppelgangers and worse, and instructed Abby to reveal its true form to illustrate just what a doppelganger was. This did little more than frighten the woman; after all, Humal dropped off the documents and had one of the creatures at his command, so who was to say he wasn't behind it all?

Corzale and Sumia emerged from the other room. They probably intended to support Humal's claims, but ended up making things worse until the woman saw Corzale's holy symbol of Bell-Amaranth. Apparently familiar with the dwarven god of war, nature, and healing, she relaxed and introduced herself as Athala.

While discussing whether she could accompany them  into the sewers, Corzale and Sumia noticed a half-dozen figures skulking about the other room. Athala tried to explain that they were simply her bodyguards, which might have worked had not five revealed themselves to be doppelgangers by transforming their limbs into weapons and slaughtering the sixth. One of them told Athala to flee and warn the master, but she barely got out the door before Sumia loosed an arrow. It struck her in the leg, both immobilizing and revealing her to not be a doppelganger, what with all the blood spraying out.

Humal commanded his cockatrice to retrieve her, and then instructed an illusionary chair to help the rest of his companions fend off their would-be assassins. Once three of the five doppelgangers were slain the other two fled, presumably to warn "the master" themselves. Corzale bandaged up Athala, who had fallen unconscious at some point, probably due to blood loss. Not wanting to drag her about the sewers, they sealed her up in a coffin and hid it, figuring that they could attend to her later.

Abby led the way to the Cold Forge and determined through...bloody means that the blacksmith wasn't a doppelganger. Unfortunately, this rendered the blacksmith more hostile than usual, forcing them to find another way into the sewers, but only after Humal bribed him with a handful of gold pieces to keep him from fetching the guard. Luckily, Abby knew of several nearby entrances, and after a few minutes they found themselves at a fungus-caked breach in the sewer wall.

Beyond, said Abby, was the lair of its creator.

Design Notes
This was a shorter session than usual, as we had internet problems (lag, robot-voicing, disconnections, etc) and a few of the players weren't feeling too well. We did get a chance to talk shop about various Dungeon World things (something Jacob is working on and the therianthrope, which won the previous class vote), plus something more system agnostic.

We'd made several changes to the FrankenFourth public playtest document. Specifically, wizards now have an at-will/cantrip attack (based on a public poll that nearly half were in favor of), twice as much mana as they did before (based on a playtest where a 2nd-level evoker-wizard knocked herself out after casting two spells), gain bonus talents at certain levels, and Evoker no longer generates light (that got moved to Conjurer).

Clerics had their Favor nudged down a point, fighters got some tweaks, and sorcerers will need to at least have their mana updated because part of their shtick is having more magic juice than wizards.

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 Paladin is also available!

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).

RPGaDay: Most Impressive Thing Another's Character Did

A few years ago I ran Expedition to Castle Ravenloft using Dungeon World (something I really outta do with FrankenFourth), and I guess I forgot to post the grand finale because it's not linked on the play report page. That's fine, because here's most of it.

Over the course of the campaign, the players went into the swamp and killed the Drowned Lady (Melissa's witch even took her teeth), then into the forest and made a short-lived alliance with werewolves (thanks Strahd), and finally into Castle Ravenloft to get their hands on a piece of the sunsword, Strahd's tome, destroy the dayheart, and maybe nab some other loot that I've forgotten about.

Now, at some point they got their hands on a big-ass, jewel encrusted golden cross, which Shane's wizard decided to turn into a kind of "sun grenade" while most of the characters were stewing about in Barovia and waiting for their debilities to heal, because you don't wanna go up against an old vampire with -1 to anything.

Once they got their shit in order, they went back to the castle, a former-paladin-turned-zombie-maid let them in and guided them to the dining hall, where Strahd and a bunch of ghouls were seated around a table. Someone attacked Strahd, revealing him to be a ghoul in disguise: turned out Strahd was all the way at the other end of a very long hall, taking shots at them with a poisoned crossbow.

Melissa's witch goes down (down down, having missed on her last breath roll), they're surrounded by a dozen or so ghouls that are snapping at them with 1d8 damage, 1 piercingmessy bites, and Strahd's loading another poisoned bolt, when someone, I think Shane's wizard, drops the bomb. I tell him to roll 2d6, because these guys are undead, and he rolls like 12, disintegrating all of the ghouls and severely weakening Strahd.

Or, maybe Strahd also died? I don't remember. At any rate, that completely turned the tables, allowing them to temporarily kill Strahd and get out of the now deserted Barovia before sunset (they thought he was dead, but the woman he bites or kidnaps or whatever ended up getting turned into a full-on vampire and reviving him in a "post credit" scene).

Maybe that's what I could do with FrankenFourth: run a campaign where a new set of characters try to finish the job.

An honorable mention would go to one of Shane's tarchon battleminds in one of our A Sundered World campaigns, who died killing a dragon (a correctly statted one at that). Also, Adam's scion nomad teleporting grenades into another dragon's mouth.

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 Paladin is also available!

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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