Archive for October 2017

Dungeons & Delvers: Myconids (Also More #Inktober)

In Dungeons & Dragons, myconids are fungus men that live underground, and unlike most Underdark races just want to be left alone to do...whatever it is that they do. Well, except in 4th Edition, where they were for some reason much more invasive and destructive.

I can't recall ever using myconids, though I did use fungus zombies in Something Stirs in the Blackscale Brakes (they can be found in the abandoned colony), inspired in part by clickers from Last of Us, and I also reskinned goombas as fungus zombies in our short-lived 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Mario-themed campaign.

I forget exactly why, but about a week or so ago I got to thinking about myconids as something more like fungus zombies (though not undead). Checking out their 2nd Edition incarnation, I see (or rather am reminded) that they can emit a variety of spores, including one that animates creatures as something similar to a not-undead-zombie.

3rd Edition basically kept them the same, Hit Die-based spores and all, while 4th Edition restricted spores to specific types (ie, guards get pacification, sovereigns get commanding and spore burst, and rotpriests don't have spores at all), and gave them all the ability to share damage to a point.

My big Dungeons & Delvers changes would be that all myconids are "born" from a corpse or living creature, and some spores are only available to those made from fresh corpses or living creatures (and maybe of a minimum level). Here are the three basic types I've come up with:

First up are drones. Drones are basically fungus grown around skeletal remains (and severely decayed corpses). They're slower and stupider than other myconids due to a lack of muscle and brain tissue to assimilate. Mostly used as guards, labor, or other incredibly simple tasks. Thinking they only get distress, rapport, and reproduction spores regardless of level.

Next up are the rotwalkers. They're made from fresher/more intact corpses than drones. They're faster and stronger than drones (due to the muscle tissue), but while they aren't as stupid still aren't very smart (having assimilated a dead brain and all). I figure these represent the standard myconid, and would be able to use any spore so long as they meet the level requirement.

Finally we get to hybrids. These are living creatures that were exposed to reproduction spores, which ended up infesting and changing them in both mind and body. Stat-wise they're similar to their original form, just tougher and able to emit various types of spores. Probably the rulers and leaders of myconid colonies, and can use any spore so long as they meet the level requirement.

I don't envision myconids as inherently malicious or even especially dangerous. They use dead bodies from other creatures for reproduction, which can pose a problem because they consider corpses to simply be a resource like stone and metal.

Hybrids would generally be accidents from people exposed to reproduction spores and succumbing to them (see below). Rare individuals might willingly expose themselves, but I could see some unscrupulous or even desperate myconid colonies seeking out living creatures to abduct and infest.

Each myconid has access to one or more types of spores. To save space they are described here, and only mentioned in the myconid's stat block below. If a spore requires a Recharge roll before it can be used again, once used the myconid cannot use any other spores that require a Recharge until the roll succeeds.

  • Choking (Recharge 5+): Affects a 30-foot cone. Every creature in the area of effect suffers 5d8+5 poison damage and is dazed until the end of the hybrid warlock's next turn. On a successful DC 14 Fortitude save, the target only suffers half damage and is not dazed. Gained at 6th-level (replaces the classic animator spores since reproduction spores turn corpses into new myconids anyway).
  • Distress: When the myconid suffers damaged or perceives a threat, it emits a cloud of distress spores out to a 120-foot radius (free action). Every other myconid in the cloud automatically emits their own distress spores. Myconids affected by the distress spores of another myconid gain 1d6 temporary Vitality Points, a +1 bonus to their Initiative, and a +1 bonus to their attack rolls during their first turn in combat. All myconids have access to this spore type.
  • Hallucination (Recharge 5+): Gained at . Affects a 30-foot cone. Each creature in the area of effect must succeed on a DC 14 Fortitude save or be confused for 1d4 rounds. At the start of each round roll 1d4: on a roll of 1 or 2 the affect creature doesn't do anything, on a 3 they flee in a random direction (double moving if possible), and on a 4 they attack the nearest creature they can see. Gained at 5th-level.
  • Pacification (Recharge 5+): Affects a 30-foot radius. Creatures in the area of effect must succeed on a DC 14 Fortitude save or stand motionless for 1d6 rounds. If combat has already broken out, they receive a +2 bonus on this save, and each time they suffer damage they can attempt another save (with a +2 bonus). Gained at 4th-level.
  • Rapport (Recharge 5+): Released out to a radius of 10-feet per level of the myconid. Grants affected creatures the ability to communicate telepathically with the myconid (only hybrids retain the ability to speak). The range is 10 feet per level of the myconid that produced the spores. Gained at 3rd-level.
  • Reproduction Spores: When a myconid dies, it emits a cloud of reproduction spores in a radius around them equal to 10 feet per level. If the spores land on a dead creature, they begin the gradual process of encasing it in fungus (takes 1d4+2 days). If they land on a living creature, it must succeed on a Fortitude save or become infested with spores: an infested creature transforms into a myconid hybrid over a number of days equal to 2d4 plus their Constitution (dwarves take twice as long). Alchemical potions (made from myconid spores) or cleansing magic can halt and reverse the process before it is complete. Gained at 2nd-level.

HUMANOID DRONE
Level 2 Medium Plant
XP 32
Speed 20 feet

ABILITY SCORES
STR +1 DEX +0 WIS +0
CON +2 INT -4 CHA -4

SKILLS
Athletics +2, Perception +2

DEFENSE
AC 10 DR 0
Fort +3 Ref +0 Will +0
Immune blinding, charm, fear, poison
Resist bludgeoning 5
Wounds 10 Vitality 4 Total 14

OFFENSE
Slam +2 to hit; 1d4+2 bludgeoning damage

SPECIAL
Blindsight The myconid drone can sense the location of creatures and objects within 30 feet.

Spores:
 The humanoid drone has access to distress and reproduction spores. The Fortitude DC is 12 where applicable.

A drone's stats are largely independent of the original creature (the above assumes a Medium-sized humanoid). Mostly you're looking at its size and physiology: ie, a drone made from a dog or wolf skeleton would be faster than one made from a human, though their stats would otherwise be the same. Drones made from a giant's skeleton would take longer to make, but would also be stronger and capable inflicting more damage.

Drones don't have to be made from a single skeleton, or even a single skeleton: that just provides the fungus a frame to help support it. A drone could be formed from numerous skeletal remains taken from numerous creatures. Go crazy with it!

====================

ROTWALKER SENTRY
Level 4 Medium Plant
XP 80
Speed 30 feet

ABILITY SCORES
STR +2 DEX +0 WIS +0
CON +2 INT -1 CHA -1

SKILLS
Perception +2

DEFENSE
AC 12 DR 2 (armor)
Fort +3 Ref +0 Will +0
Immune blinding, charm, fear, poison
Resist bludgeoning 5
Vulnerable radiant 5
Wounds 20 Vitality 8 Total 28

OFFENSE
Arming Sword +3 to hit; 1d8+3 slashing damage

SPECIAL
Blindsight The rotwalker can sense the location of creatures and objects within 30 feet.

Spores: The rotwalker sentry has access to distress, rapport, reproduction, and pacification spores. The Fortitude DC is 13 where applicable.

Unlike drones, the final stats of a rotwalker would vary depending on the creature it was created from, as the fungus assimilates and builds upon existing tissues. Mostly this process results in enhanced toughness and strength, the ability to emit spores, blindsight, and radiant vulnerability.

====================

HYBRID WARLOCK
Level 6 Medium Plant
XP 216
Speed 30 feet

ABILITY SCORES
STR +1 DEX +0 WIS +1
CON +1 INT +1 CHA +3

SKILLS
Arcana +4, Intimidate +5, Perception +3, Search +3

DEFENSE
AC 13 DR 1 (arcane warding)
Fort +1 Ref +0 Will +3
Immune blinding, charm, fear, poison
Resist bludgeoning 5
Vulnerable radiant 5
Wounds 24 Vitality 12 Total 36
Boon 9

OFFENSE
Staff +2 to hit; 1d8+1 bludgeoning damage

Eldritch Blast 60-foot range; +5 to hit; 1d10+5 poison damage

Exploding Pod 3 Boon. The hybrid warlock conjures a fungal pod and throws it up to 60 feet away. It explodes on impact, showering a 30-foot radius with toxic spores: creatures in the area of effect suffer 7d6+5 poison damage (ignores armor, half on a successful DC 14 Fortitude save).

Fungal Growth 1 Boon. The hybrid warlock covers a 30-foot radius all around it in a thick carpet of fungi (it can spend additional Boon to expand the area by 10 feet). It is difficult terrain for everyone but the warlock, and when creatures enter or start their turn on the fungus they must succeed on a DC 14 Fortitude save or suffer 1d6+4 poison damage (ignores armor).

SPECIAL
Blindsight The hybrid witch can sense the location of creatures and objects within 30 feet.

Spores The hybrid warlock has access to choking, distress, hallucination, rapport, reproduction, and pacification spores.

====================

As an added bonus, here's an illustration for the above myconids (drone, rotwalker, and hybrid respectively)!



Announcements
It look a lot longer than expected, but we finally released The Jinni. As with our other monstrous classes, this one is more faithful to the mythology (so don't go in expecting elemental-themed jinn).

After putting it to a vote, the next couple of classes on the docket are the warden (think 4E D&D warden) and apothecary (gotta go see what they're all about).

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, 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).
October 15, 2017
Posted by David Guyll

Trick-or-Treat Sale: The Therianthrope

Though the witching week is over, The Therianthrope has revealed itself; for the next week you can obtain the power of its terrifying transformations at a 31% discount!

From the original post:

This isn't a werewolf or were-class that lets you choose from a handful of common animals: it has been specifically designed with flexibility in mind. You start out by choosing a number of features from a list (such as increased damage, size, armor, and various other benefits), and as you level up you can choose to become better at changing your shape (and gain more features), stronger, tougher, sneaking around and ambushing creatures, blending in with a crowd, and so on.

This flexibility extends beyond what you can turn into and how your character can grow: there are three general backgrounds to determine how you acquired your powers. You can be cursed, inherit it, or learn it through magic. You even get to choose a move from another class, so you can be, for example, a cleric cursed by her god, a fighter that was afflicted while hunting a werewolf down, or a wizard or witch that discovered the process.

This product contains three files.

The first is a letter-sized character sheet that uses our new character sheet layout (so we could fit the twenty-six advanced moves).

The other two are digest-sized PDFs, one in color, the other in black and white to make it easier to print at home. They both contain:
  • The therianthrope class.
  • Silvered weapons, new types of armor, and animal armor.
  • The cursed therianthrope compendium class.
  • Nine moves for if you want to better evoke a kitsune.
  • A Director's Cut with questions to ask yourself when rolling up a therianthrope, explanations/clarifications for some of the moves, advice on permitting more multiclassing, nine extra/variant moves that we couldn't fit on the sheet (including one for if your animal form is your normal shape), and rules for companion characters.


Announcements
It look a lot longer than expected, but we finally released The Jinni. As with our other monstrous classes, this one is more faithful to the mythology (so don't go in expecting elemental-themed jinn).

After putting it to a vote, the next couple of classes on the docket are the warden (think 4E D&D warden) and apothecary (gotta go see what they're all about).

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, 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).

Dungeons & Delvers: Organic Progression With Class

Over on G+ Dominique Zimmer started a thread where he asks:

"Are classes a needed thing in rpg's, they do help a character alot by guiding them as to what the class does but they seem very very restrictive in alot of ways"

William Altman soon responded with this:

"Necessary? No, and personally, I loathe them. I prefer organic character growth and character options, two things that classes, by their very nature restrict, even if the system they are in allow for it. That said, they are useful for jumping into the action, for new players, for helping the GM more easily balance encounters."

I'm not surprised by either statements. See, in a lot of Dungeons & Dragons games you choose a class (and often a race), and then you get whatever the designers feel you should get (which wasn't always much when it's anything at all), when they feel you should get it.

For example, 2nd Edition fighters got the option to choose weapon specialization, which gave you a bonus to hit and damage, and multiple attacks. Otherwise you didn't get to choose shit, though at 9th-level you could build a castle and attract followers. Yay, I guess?

Even worse, if you were a human and had a good in-game reason to switch classes, you could, but if you used abilities from your original class you suffered an XP penalty until I think your new class was higher level than the original, and you could never switch back. Demihuman races (ie, halfling, dwarf, elf, etc) could have more than one class, but you had to choose that at the start of the game, and unlike humans you couldn't switch out classes later.

It wasn't until 3rd Edition where I recall sometimes getting the chance to actually choose something, though it was usually feats, bonus feats, or spells. You want to play a paladin? Whelp, that means aura of good, detect evil, and smite evil once per day. At 2nd-level you, like every other paladin, will get divine grace and lay on hands, at 3rd-level you'll get aura of courage and divine health (plus a feat), and at 4th-level you'll...get to choose which spells to prep at the start of the adventuring day.

There's never any point during your paladin progression where you'll get to diverge from the status quo: every other standard paladin in the game will get the exact same stuff, also when you got it.

Now, in 3rd Edition you could multiclass pretty easily, choosing pretty much any class you want when you level up (barring stuff like alignment restrictions). Unlike 2nd Edition's dual-classing you could bounce back and forth between classes if you felt like it (among other issues like reduced XP for using abilities from your original class), and unlike it's version of multiclassing you didn't have to choose from the start if you wanted to have more than one class.

Technically it's better than nothing, but you're really just exchanging one set of rigidly and unnecessarily pre-defined class features and maybe bonus feat acquisition for another set, and if you didn't have a solid plan, houserules, and/or luck you'd probably end up accidentally breaking your character in the process.

I remember in the longest 3rd Edition campaign I ever played, one guy ended up with a bizarre and non-functional mix of rogue/wizard/bard/assassin and maybe something else that I can't remember. He couldn't hit anything because his attack bonus was too low, he'd get his ass handed to him in melee because his hit points were too low, and his spells sucked ass because he only had access to 2nd-level spells (normally by then you'd have access to 5th- or even 6th-level spells).

Really the only thing he might have had going for him were a few of his saving throw modifiers and some skills.

One of the goals with Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book was to allow for character flexibility, whether you stick with one class or find a logical in-game reason to shift careers. It's not as complex as 4th Edition, where you get like six powers at 1st-level, plus race stuff, feats, maybe even backgrounds and themes if you're doing that. Even classes like clerics and wizards are pretty simple, and you're never "locked in" on a path once you commit.

For example, if you roll up a fighter and opt for bonus damage with two-handed weapons, you can always pick the tanky-talents later. Using the multiclassing rules, you can even pick up levels in cleric and start performing divine miracles, though unlike 3rd Edition you don't get everything your new class would normally get at 1st-level (ie, if you start as a fighter and go into wizard, you're getting less talent choices than a core wizard would).

Also unlike 3rd Edition (and the more recent Dungeons & Dragons editions) there isn't a lot of math. Numbers go up pretty slowly, usually +1 every 3-5 levels, and the game doesn't "assume" any numbers: a 1st-level party can, with some planning and/or luck, take out a monster many levels higher than they are. This means you can multiclass without worrying about whether your character will be able to hit a "level appropriate" monster.

For a very extensive actual play example (which is the best kind of example), in our Age of Worms campaign Melissa started out playing an elf rogue named Sumia. In the first adventure (The Whispering Cairn) they found an owlbear cub, and of course she wanted to keep it because cute, adorable owlbear. I'd been working on the ranger and told her that if she wanted to make it into a kind of pet, she could take ranger next level-up and choose the Animal Companion talent.

Over the course of the campaign, Melissa bounced back and forth between rogue and ranger (mostly ranger because of all the archery talents and Undead Hunter), until they got close to the end of Encounter at Blackwall Keep, where Melissa said she reaaally wanted to be able to see in the dark, because sneaking was a pain in the ass in dungeons if she also had to carry around a torch. I whipped up a Darkvision talent for the wizard, which she eagerly snapped up.

She went back into rogue or ranger for a few more levels, but then much later wanted to for some reason be able to communicate via telepathy, so she took another level in wizard to pick up a Diviner-based talent that would let her do just that.

I can't imagine a rogue/ranger/wizard combo working in 3rd Edition without some major planning and probably combing through numerous books looking for feats and/or prestige classes to maybe patch some issues, and you can't even really do this in 4th Edition. 5th Edition looks like things would be more functional, though again you're more often than not saddled with whatever class features the designer felt you should have, when he felt you should have them.

Compared to Dungeons & Dragons, the Black Book is much, much more organic and easy to work with: each time Melissa leveled up, she just chose whatever she felt made the most sense to her (which turns out was mostly rogue and ranger), and when an option wasn't available asked if/how we could make it work. Often the solution was as simple as creating a new talent. Despite a lack of planning and steady math, her character functions perfectly fine.

So, there you go: a class-based system that is flexible and allows for very organic progression (especially if your GM is willing to whip up a new talent here and there). Probably not as much as some point-buy and/or classless systems out there, but you still have a huge amount of freedom. As an added #inktober bonus, here's some quick illustrations of Sumia over the levels (clicking should enlarge it):



Announcements
It look a lot longer than expected, but we finally released The Jinni. As with our other monstrous classes, this one is more faithful to the mythology (so don't go in expecting elemental-themed jinn).

After putting it to a vote, the next couple of classes on the docket are the warden (think 4E D&D warden) and apothecary (gotta go see what they're all about).

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, 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).
October 07, 2017
Posted by David Guyll

#Inktober: Gelatinous Cube

A gelatinous cube that I drew awhile go but don't think I shared, yet. Nothing fancy.



Aaand here's a stat block for Dungeons & Delvers: Black Book, because for some reason I forgot to include it (along with the gnoll and owlbear)!

GELATINOUS CUBE
Level 4 Ooze
XP 112
Speed 15 feet

ABILITY SCORES
STR +2 DEX -4 WIS -2
CON +5 INT -4 CHA -4

SKILLS
Stealth +0 (see transparent)

DEFENSE
AC 6 DR 0
Fort +6 Ref -4 Will -1
Immune blinding, charm, lightning damage, mind control, fear effects, sleep
Resist bludgeoning 5
Wounds 36 Vitality 8 Total 44

OFFENSE
Slam The gelatinous cube just rams into a creature: +3 to hit; 2d6+3 acid damage, and the target must succeed on a DC 13 Fortitude save or be paralyzed for 3d6 rounds.

Engulf The gelatinous cube tries to absorb creatures by moving into their space. Automatic if the creature is paralyzed, restrained, immobilized, or otherwise unable to move, otherwise they can avoid it by succeeding on a DC 13 Reflex save. The gelatinous cube can have up to four Medium or Small creatures absorbed (or a similar volume) engulfed at a time.
Engulfed creatures suffer 4d6+3 acid damage each turn, and each round they must succeed on a DC 13 Fortitude save or be paralyzed for 3d6 rounds (which means they're probably going to remain paralyzed until they die, someone pulls them out, or the gelatinous cube is destroyed). If they need to breathe, they'll also need to hold their breath to avoid suffocating.
SPECIAL
Blindsight The gelatinous cube can sense the location of any creature within 60 feet of it (even if they are hiding or invisible).

Transparent A gelatinous cube can attempt to hide even if there is nothing for it to hide behind. If there isn't anything floating about inside of it (it eventually ejects material that it cannot dissolve, such as stone, glass, metal, and gemstones), it gains a +5 bonus to its Stealth checks. Otherwise it makes a Stealth check normally.


Announcements
It look a lot longer than expected, but we finally released The Jinni. As with our other monstrous classes, this one is more faithful to the mythology (so don't go in expecting elemental-themed jinn).

After putting it to a vote, the next couple of classes on the docket are the warden (think 4E D&D warden) and apothecary (gotta go see what they're all about).

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, 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).
October 06, 2017
Posted by David Guyll

Trick-or-Treat Sale: The Witch

First in line for this year's Trick-or-Treat sale is The Witch. For the next seven days, you can pick it up over on DriveThruRPG at 31% off.

It is a little known secret that there is magic in everything, from plants to stones, to metals and animals. Names carry power, and in certain times and places it swells and coils upon itself, forming a wellspring of raw, untapped magical energy. Some learn these secrets after ceremonial induction, others through extensive instruction and trial, while the more desperate or greedy find that there is no shortage of dark entities willing to help them shortcut the process.

For a price, of course.

The how matters less than the results: through your work, words, and will you gather, bind, and temper magical forces in accordance to your desires, good or ill. You can brew a concoction to heal someone just as easily as one to alter a man’s shape or desires. You can forge a talisman either to shield someone from harm, or draw ill fortune to them like a moth to a flame.

Of course you are not helpless without time and safety: with a few words you can make someone’s eyes bleed, cause even the most faithful and tame of beasts to turn on them, prevent them from speaking, or vermin to crawl forth from their screaming mouths.

There is a reason others regard you with equal measure of fear and respect.

This product contains two files.

One is a digest-sized, 24-page book laid out like the Dungeon World book. It contains:

  • The witch. Foretell the future, curse your foes, brew potions, and craft charms.
  • New equipment, like the athame, warding pentacle, divination trappings, and poppets.
  • Twenty magic items.
  • A behind the scenes look at our design, as well as some expanded explanation on the fiction powerful the moves.

The other is a 2-page, letter-sized character sheet with custom graphics for you to print out.

Announcements
It look a lot longer than expected, but we finally released The Jinni. As with our other monstrous classes, this one is more faithful to the mythology (so don't go in expecting elemental-themed jinn).

After putting it to a vote, the next couple of classes on the docket are the warden (think 4E D&D warden) and apothecary (gotta go see what they're all about).

Dwarven Vault is our sixth 10+ Treasures volume. If you're interested in thirty dwarven magic items (including an eye that lets you shoot lasers) and nearly a dozen new bits of dungeon gear, check it out!

Just released our second adventure for A Sundered World, The Golden Spiral. If a snail-themed dungeon crawl is your oddly-specific thing, 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).
October 02, 2017
Posted by David Guyll

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