marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
Over the weekend a young acquaintance mentioned his desire to play a (D&D3) minotaur paladin, and some resistance he had met to the idea. I took the time to explain that the resistance was probably not to the idea as such, but the extra work that would be required to align the DM's world such that any minotaur character and their companions would not be confronted by torch-and-pitchfork wielding mobs / local adventurers / bounty hunters / heroes of the realm in every dominion and at every outpost of civilisation.

By the time the conversation had finished however my worldbuilders brain had come up with an outline for how a larger race with a reliable number of relatively peaceable members would probably be incorporated into a fantasy society without ending up in charge. I present a minotaur version of that below as a plug-in suitable for dropping into a fantasy world, but first would like to take off on a couple of tangents.

chaaanges )

availability )

balance )

Place in civilisation )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Kiera)
There are a few leftovers from the previous couple of posts on healing in D&D3E that I wanted to express.

A quirk of abstraction )
Variant damage system )
Alchemical/herbal healing items )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
A campaign I am playing in at present has among the options for starting gear a weakened Ring of Regeneration, healing one HP/hour (I am unclear if it also does the restoration of lost bodily parts). This has led me to think critically about the SRD standard ring of regeneration and I have come to the conclusion that it is overpriced for what it does. Let's take a look....
Ring of Regeneration

This white gold ring continually allows a living wearer to heal 1 point of damage per level every hour rather than every day. (This ability cannot be aided by the Heal skill.) Nonlethal damage heals at a rate of 1 point of damage per level every 5 minutes. If the wearer loses a limb, an organ, or any other body part while wearing this ring, the ring regenerates it as the spell [within a round - M]. In either case, only damage taken while wearing the ring is regenerated.

Strong conjuration; CL 15th; Forge Ring, regenerate; Price 90,000 gp

I don't even know how they get that price and caster level, by my calculation it should be
7 (spell level) * 13 (minimum caster level) * 2000 = 182,000gp
or even
7 * 15 (given caster level) * 2000 = 210,000
Is it halved because of the "only while wearing the ring" limitation? Or because as discussed below the replacing limbs/organs never really comes into play?

What else could we get for that money? )
A more realistic cost? )
How about a real Ring of Trollish Regeneration? )
Finally (for this post) another quirk which seems to me to be a good candidate for adding to an ongoing healing item (perhaps one which was a prototype or not quite made right) is a slight loss in Constitution (2 points, to make sure the bonus drops). Is the healing going to be worth the ongoing fragility? That might very well depend on the wearer's normal maximum hit points and level.
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Kiera)
Ability damage whether through poisons, energy drains, feats or other effects is fairly common in D&D3 and it's close relatives. In fact as hit point totals grow I've found that the easiest way to make the players concerned about the ability of an enemy to damage them is to break out an ability-damaging critter, taking them back to worrying about a total which is likely in the teens to start with rather than the tens.

Monte Cooke's Arcana Unearthed (and revision for 3.5, Arcana Evolved) deliberately make healing harder to come by. For HP damage the lower level healing spells either cure less (fast and with no side effects) or cure more but at a cost to the caster.

After diligent searching I found the following options for ability damage:

#Iamblind #rightundermynose
The Restoration spell is a Complex, Positive Energy (specifically accessible by certain classes / feats), level 5 spell. It requires the target have a Truename to be effective. Diminished (cast using a 4th level spell slot) it removes all temporary damage to one ability score and dispels negative levels; cast normally it dispels negative levels, restores one drained level, removes all temporary ability damage and one point drained from a single ability score, and heightened (cast using a 6th level slot) it restores all lost levels and all points drained from a single ability score. At best you need to be a 9th level caster before you get access to this spell in any form, 11th to use it heightened.

For comparison the 3.x spell Lesser Restoration cures 1d4 points of ability damage and is 2nd level (3rd level caster), Restoration dispels negative levels, restores one drained level, cures all temporary damage, restores all points drained from a single ability score and is a 4th level spell (7th level caster)

Other options appear to be:
- The heightened version of Transfer Wounds (Total) (Simple, Positive Energy, using an 8th level spell slot) in addition to healing all hit point damage removes all temporary ability damage, applying half of that damage to the caster as per usual for the Transfer Wounds spells.
- Perfect Health (9th level, Simple, Positive Energy, requires Truename) removes all temporary ability damage but explicitly does not remove drain.
- Heightened Neutralise Poison (Complex, Positive energy, 5th level slot) heals damage inflicted by poisons within the past hour.
- Heightened Remove Disease (Complex, Positive energy, 4th level slot) heals any damage inflicted by diseases in the last week.
- Remove Malady (Complex, Positive energy, requires Truename, 5th level slot) can take away (among other things) a poison or disease affecting a character, but it is not clear if this will restore ability damage. Comparing it to the levels of the previous two I would say not; this spell instead has the flexibility of being effective against a wide variety of conditions.
- the Runethane (class) Rune of Rest doubles the rate of healing while during rest, presumably including ability damage.

The lack of lower level magic for addressing ability damage is clearly a deliberate design decision but it's a bit problematic when a series of horrendous FORT saves leaves your low-to-mid-levels group mostly incapacitated by a few spiders. By the rules it also makes ability healing items (eg potions) prohibitively expensive at lower levels. Google has not revealed unto me any existing house rules for this out there, so here are a couple of ways I see to address this while still keeping the availability of healing a bit more scare.

1. Easily within the rules Lesser Restoration can be brought in as an exotic spell. I would probably make it 3rd level, Positive Energy, restoring 1d4+1 points of damage to one ability score, diminished restoring 2 points but at a cost to the caster of 1 point (ala Transfer Wounds), heightened restoring all points of damage to one ability score.

2. The Lesser and Greater Transfer Wounds spells could be modified such that the heightened version additionally / instead restores some amount of ability damage at the usual cost of transferring half the damage to the caster (effectively having half the effect if cast on oneself). If I were taking this route I would probably make the amount 1d4+1 points to one ability score for LTW and all points to one ability score for GTW (heightened is a 5th level spell so Restoration may be available, but GTW is a Simple spell and doesn't require a Truename).

As a side note even with multiple applications of these spells there would always be one point left /somewhere/ which has to recover naturally #math.

3. The Lesser and Greater Battle Healing spells could be similarly modified. These are already a level higher than their Transfer counterparts which seems reasonable for the utility. Restoration is still preferable if it is available if only because it now uses a lower level slot (heightened GBW uses a 6th level slot to achieve what Restoration does using a 4th level slot).

My preference would probably be to use both 2 and 3 but for the stingier DM introducing an NPC who has spent the feat for or an Amulet of Spell Knowledge containing the first option might be more palatable.
marsden_online: (Evil GM)
Curses can be hard to handle in some RPGs. D&D3.x in particular the Bestow Curse spell has some nasty but purely mechanical effects

-6 to an ability score == -3 to related rolls and possibly loss of spell casting ability
-4 to pretty much every roll
do nothing 50% of the time

but by the time you encounter it with any frequency Remove Curse is probably available to you and the effects are serious enough that you wouldn't think twice about using it. And of course you are left to come up with interesting names / descriptions of the curses.

Something more subtle which occurred to me this morning is possibly more frustrating, yet small enough in apparent impact. Simply this: any dice rolled for the character are treated as if they had naturally rolled 1 less. Not a huge deal on any given roll perhaps, but
- no more natural 20s (auto hits, critical threats)
- 1 less HP per level gained while under the effect of the curse
- doubles the chance of auto-failing a saving throw (now on a "natural" 1 or 0)
- significantly reduced damage on multiple-damage-dice attacks.

OTOH marginally better chance of making those 10% chance stabilisation checks.
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Markos)
A few items my Sunday Broken Kingdoms group have just come across, for their reference.

Wand of Lesser Transfer Wounds
This slim wand is made of a pale wood carved to resemble a forearm ending in an outstretched hand.

Wand of Touch of Disruption
This slim wand is made of a dark wood carved to resemble a forearm ending in a clenched hand with one finger extended.

Leather Coat of Sneaking
This magical leather coat was removed from the burnt corpse of the undead named Esolith. It is filthy (with chunks of his flesh still adhering in places) and will need a /very/ good clean and minor repair before it is again fit for use by the living.
(Leather Coat +1, +5 to Sneak skill)

Ring of Ramming (modified Ring of the Ram)
This heavy iron ring is carved with the head of one of the massive mountain sheep the hill tribes use as livestock and mounts.

"The wearer can command the ring to give forth a ramlike force, manifested as a vaguely discernible shape that resembles the head of a ram or a goat. This force strikes a single target, dealing 1d6 points of damage if 1 charge is expended, 2d6 points if 3 charges are used, or 3d6 points if 3 charges (the maximum) are used. Treat this as a ranged attack with a 50-foot maximum range and no penalties for distance. The ring has 5 charges per day.

The force of the blow is considerable, and those struck by the ring are subject to a bull rush if within 30 feet of the ring-wearer. (The ram has Strength 25 and is Large.) The ram gains a +1 bonus on the bull rush attempt if 2 charges are expended, or +2 if 3 charges are expended.

In addition to its attack mode, the ring of the ram also has the power to open doors as if it were a character with Strength 25. If 2 charges are expended, the effect is equivalent to a character with Strength 27. If 3 charges are expended, the effect is that of a character with Strength 29."

Boots of Stomping (from the Magic Item Compendium)
"When you stomp your feet and activate boots of stomping, you generate a 15-foot-long cone-shaped burst of psychokinetic force that travels along the ground, toppling creatures and loose objects. The shock wave affects only creatures standing on the ground within the area. Creatures that fail a DC 13 Reflex save are thrown to the ground, prone, and take 1d4 points of nonlethal damage.

Boots of stomping function three times per day."

About 200 pairs of these boots were originally commissioned by an Old Kingdom Duke for the front rank of his army. The range and vigour of the effect is said to be increased for each adjacent pair being activated. Unfortunately many were lost or destroyed when in the midst of a major battle the vibrations caused by their use attracted a terrible worm-like beast from deep underground which proceeded to crush or consume the bulk of the forces present.
A number of prototypes and attempts-at-duplication are known to exist - the effect of these may include but are not limited to
- affecting also (or only) the wearer.
- creating their effect in a random direction relative to the wearer
- Creating a Muddy Ground spell effect centred on the wearer
- One particularly powerful pair known as "The Boots of Earthquakes" generated a strong enough force to demolish small buildings nearby and could be felt for some distance ... these were lost when a crack in the earth opened beneath the user and closed over again moments later.

Viper bolts
These 10 +1 crossbow bolts came carefully wrapped in soft leather and are fashioned in an extremely fine likeness of a tiny snake from the tail at the point to the head at the butt. On a hit they transform into a tiny viper which makes one attack on the target struck before falling to the ground and wriggling off (100% non-recoverable).

Tiny Viper +5 To Hit, 1 point of damage, Poison DC 10 1d6 CON Primary, 1d6 CON Secondary.

On the event of a natural 1 being rolled to hit the bolt animates before it is fired and attacks the wielder of the crossbow instead.
marsden_online: Lochlan Springheel avatar (Springheel)

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/ 4

B'fore any treas'r the keep we wus head'n f'r turn'd out t'be full o' 'obgoblins. T'boss stuck a Silence on'e dwarf's 'elm t'stop the clank'n and we snuck in past t'guards at dawn.

Gett'n d'nstairs past the barra'ks were a bit tricky'r. Takir disguised 'isself as an 'obbo 'n pretend'd I were 'is prison'r as a d'stract'n fr'm one door while t'others popped up an 'llus'ry wall 'tween t'other door 'n t'stairs.

Bottom 'o stairs surpris'd a pair of 'obbos, bit tougher th'n 'ey looked but we took 'em. Found some rooms then a s'cr't door straight to the 'obbos boss, wizard call'd Scarr'd.

/ 5

W th' advant'ge o' the silence 'n Takir bluffin' guards out o' the fight made short work o' the wizard. 'Ad some nice stuff on 'im, got some magic bracers. T' tiefing found a very nice dagg'r which she's become suspic' protective of.

Note t'boss likes to get big [Enlarge person] when 'e scrums w' that chain o' 'is.

/ 6

Found a way deeper down w'out any more 'obbos. Incubus wuz feel'n a bit poorly so we left 'im to watch the stairs & amuse 'imself w' and hobbo's 'oo migth follow.

Searchin' the basement di'nt turn up anythin' but some rats and an entry to some caves. Caves 'ad a drow 'untin' party but a peaceful partin' o the ways were negotiat'd.

Caves also 'ad an 'ydra [6] 'oo coul'nt follow us back into the tunnel so we lef' it alone. Back t'other way were some bears *big* bears t'boss decid'd we coul' take, mebbe get'a fur rug. Turn'd out they w'r chained up, coulda backed off 'n jus' blasted 'em, di'nt seem like a far fight so I blasted the pillars jus' a lit'l w' acid.

T'boss had made a misjudgem'nt. Even b'fore break'n loose the bears 'ad th' dwarf as chow (one fer one). didn't manage t'get t'wand o' Cure Light work'n prop'ly 'uff t'get 'im alive 'n t'boss back on is feet b'fore bear got me, last thin' I saw were Killarah 'ightail'n 't outta th're chased by a bear.

/ 7

Seems Killarah manag'd t' outrun th' bear 'n fetch Takir, 'n 'e manag'd to keep th' bears attent'n [flying out of their reach] while she pour'd healin' potions 'nta t'boss 'n me. Poor dwarf were already 'alf eaten. Will miss th' tin can.

R'treat'd back into th' basem'nt 'n rest'd up f'r a day or double.

/ 8

Goin' back prepared made short work of th' two left bears, I led one ona chase around th' loop so only one at a time. Just led it back wh'n this insecty devil thing [ooc: Thri-Keen Psychic warrior] pops out o' nowhere 'n rips into th' bear - real famish'd 'ppar'ntly. Been 'eld prison'r on t'other ide of t' 'llus'ry wall th' bears w'r guard'n. Name's Kik Kik Kik or sump'n.

Poked around back there a b't, found anoth'r demon pris'n like th' one und'r t'inn but empty, th'n a big 'all, interest'n library, alchemy lab (don' know much 'bout alchemy but t'boss got all excited ov'r some sorta "aboleth spit") then big copper do 'n lo! five godsforsak'n mind flayers in th' middle of summon'n something. Don' know what exactly, but I could see they weren't tak'n any chances w' the bind'n circle.

Honest, thought we wuz gon'rs. Th' shark's'd eat our brains f'sure. Made ready t' blast th' book one 'ad, seem'd importn't, but tiefling threw t' aboleth spit inta th' circle 'n all the magic 'n the summonin' jus' blew up. When m'head stopped ringin' the 'llith'ds were toast.

They 'ad some nice stuff tho', 'n we found 'n 'ole 'oard in a secr't room. Load'n up 'n getting out o' there b'fore any o' th'r cobb'rs arrive.
marsden_online: Lochlan Springheel avatar (Springheel)

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Well, things gett'n a bit 'ot in this ol' city o' Tellarat 'n me bein down to me last gol' piece I've taen to th' a'ventur'n life, respond'n to 'n ad by a profess'nal dung'n delver fellow wit line on'n ol' keep full o' treas'r out'n th' mountains. No cash up fr'nt but'l shake 'em Academy sharks off me tail.

Japes alon' fer th' ride are bein

René duPlessis, bit o'n odd chap but e's th' one sett'n up this 'ere expedition so e's th' boss. [Human Factotum]
Player's description "Indiana Jones with a spiked chain instead of a whip."

Rothratur, dwarven 'oly knight 'n some sort o' quest and prob'ly th' most norm'l of us chumps by com'n stand'ns. Seems like a good bloke to 'ave at y' back mean'n e'd stay put 'n protect it unlike th' next two. [Dwarf Crusader]

Takir, genr'lly goes ar'nd as a good look'n human bloke but 'e dropped th' act for a bit 'n I seen 'im for what 'e really is, young incubus. Gods know (or mebee they don't) wot one o' them is doin' lark'n about on this plane. Most never shuts 'is damned (heh) mouth, always 'as to be stick'n 'is nose into evryt'n 'n tell'n people what to do ('n "persua'n" th'm when 'ey don't). [Incubus using "monster class" levels]

Killarah, 'nother off-planer tho' she jus' tryn t'hide th' horns 'n tail unner her wearables. S'posd t' be the sneak 'n search bod so I 'ope she's a bit more obs'rvnt th'n prov'n so far. Seen 'er about a bit b'fore, hooked up w' one o th' underside guilds. [Tiefling Rogue/Psychic Warrior]

So we 'ead out o' town and worst luck the first village we stop 'n gets wraith-bomb'd o'ernight. Most o' the villagers made it to th' inn which turns out 'as an old relig's ward roun' it, din't find this out 'til a coupl' of the others 'ad gone outside 'n tried to smack the wraiths round a bit. [Dumb japes. Y' don'ever get close to a wraith.] Bloody incubus was so upset t'be fac'n someth'n 'e coul'n charm or 'mpress 'e just stole a bow off some poor villager inside 'n sat on the roof shoot'n pointlessly. Meself just blasted 'em safely from th' window, lucky none came in from t'other direction tho' (not know'n bout th' wards at th' time).

Wraiths threw 'emselves at th' wards until dawn, when 'ey slunk off to 'ide out 'o th' sun for th' day. Rider was sent flat-tack to the city t'get some clerical 'elp, y'don' want wraiths wander'n this close t' a damn city. We 'ung around 'cos broken rest, too soon t'get spells back 'n might be a chance t' get paid fer blast'n wraiths t'night.

/ 2

Th' incubus or th' scout managed t'find an 'idden temple unner th' inn 'n first thing t' dwarf 'n me knew 'bout it was t' incubus telepath'n¹ up that th' boss 'ad mang'd t' walk innoo a gelly cube down b'low. Scoot'd down 'n blast'd t'ooze off've 'im ('n scooped up a bunch o' coin it 'ad picked up somewhere) 'n he went back upstairs 'n took a bath while we scouted out th' rest of th' level 'n loot'd some good qual'ty weapons fr'm an old armory.

Th' was a big stair down t' a lower level wh'r t' is/was a demon fr'm th' old wars bound 'n asleep to all 'pearences², 'n old holy alt'r to the goddes s of protectin' travellers wh'r I 'eft what 'ad bin m'last gol' piece fer luck, a few dead a'ventur's and a bleeding (so t'speak) vampire, 'oo tried (failed more th' pity) ta make a meal 'o the incubus but din't bother chas'n us.

¹ not keen on th' blighter bein able t' get innoo me head whenever 'e wants - enough sharks already b'n mess'n around 'n there.
² [until the incubus' repeated clairvoyancing back to that room to make sure it was still there and asleep woke it up, not that he told the rest of the party why he was even more hell-bent on getting out of there than we already were]

/ 3

Got back up t'stair to find the cavalry had arriv'd from t'city, liter'ly, force o' mounted relig's bods o' all sorts but all carry'n magic 'n led by a tall glow'n winged bod. Mebbee this place attracts 'em or th's a gate t'Sigil around or som'n. 'e weren't to pleased t'see t'other two w' us, looked at 'em 'ard but din't start w' th' smit'n. Dwarf had t' tell 'im all 'bout t' vampire 'n such down below but then 'ey sent a group down there 'n f'nd nuttin. So mebee we w' see'n things or mebee 'ey w'not see'n things or mebee th' sharks down b'low jus' moved out t'wait for th' dust t' settle.

T'wraiths (w' more) turned up agin o'ernight 'n we left 'em to th' holy folk. 'ey dealt w' some but waited for dawn t' follow th' rest back to th' nest, 'n we hightailed it off t'ward th' mountains because it din't seem 'ey were goin' t'pay for 'elp w' anyth'n but bless'ns.

Day'r so later 'n we were pass'n throo 'n old forest when th'r's this goblin standing 'n th' road bold as brass demand'n a 50 gol' piece toll. Now if any o' us 'ad that sort o' coin we wouldn't be on this lark inna first place 'n buggered if anyone were giv'n up a valuable piece o' equipment. Where th's one goblin th's usually a bunch more so we wer'n keen t' just walk over 'im. 'e said the coin were so 'e could buy bread fer 'is many kids, so we off'd to liberate any coin 'e might know of 'ereabouts which might be guarded by someth'n nasty 'n pay 'im out o th' proceeds (or, since 'e point'd us at'n ogre, the corpse fer eat'n).

Short story, t'scout mang'd t'sneak up on t'sleep'n ogre 'n ta'e 't out 'n one stab³. found a bag o' sliver 'n a magic ring ' n a necklace o' fireballs some'ow intact, lucky ogre nev'r roll'd ov'r onnoo it. Dragged th' body back to th' goblin 'oo were a bit surpris'd 'n he 'n th' scout nearly came t'blows, 'cept 'e called on 'is mates 'n 'bout 30 of the blight's popped up. Th't I might get t'do some blast'n after all, but it all calm'd down 'n toll accounted fer we moved on.
³ [DM had forgotten about the FORT save part of the coup de grace rules and after the rogue did 26ish damage on the strike the DC was 36, difficult even for an ogre barbarian. To his credit he gave us the kill rather than fudging the encounter.]
marsden_online: (Evil GM)
Spellweb is a template which can be applied to any monstrous spider or similar poisonous, web-slinging creature, eg an aranea or ettercap.

A Spellweb spider gains the following:

Spell Resistance equal to 11 plus (HD/2) (round down)

Poison (Ex): instead of STR spellweb spider poison drains INT from non-casters, or the primary spellcasting stat of a caster. From casters the venom additionally drains one of the highest level spells the caster has available (determine randomly) as if that spell has been cast. For spontaneous casters this is the highest level available spell slot and the spider gains knowledge of a random spell known of the equivalent level that the caster knows. The spider may then instinctively cast the spell on it's next action (see Reflex Casting).

Web (Ex): spellweb spider webs are attracted to and wrap around magical items, draining them of their power. Any time a character is caught in a spellweb spider web randomly select one magic item worn or carried about their person. Until the web is removed from the item (a full round action which draws an attack of opportunity):
- potions, scrolls and other single-use items are drained of their magic in one round per level of the spell contained
- wands and other charged / use per day items are drained at the rate of 1 charge per round
- permanent magic items have their enhancements and other magical abilities suppressed until the web is removed. This may mean that e.g. gear stored in extra-dimensional spaces becomes unreachable for the duration. If not freed of the web permanent magical items will also eventually have their enchantments completely drained.

Breaking free of the entangling effect of the web(s) does not automatically remove it from any item it has bound to. The wearer of a set of armour cannot adequately remove web from the armour unless unusually jointed.

Spell like abilities:
Reflex casting: On it's next action after draining a spell spider will instinctively cast the spell as if it were the caster for purposes of level-dependant effects. Saving throws are based on the caster's ability score but do not include feats such as Spell Focus; similarly if a spell requires a Spell Resistance check caster feats such as Spell Penetration are not included. The spider will target itself if the spell is beneficial or an appropriate opponent if it is not. Area effect spells will be cast to affect the greatest number of opponents regardless of whether the spider will also be included (they are still no brighter than regular monstrous spiders. This may not apply if the template is applied to an intelligent creature).

This is a standard action which draws an attack of opportunity, but with no concentration check required for damage taken. Slaying the spider prevents the spell taking effect.

CR increase: +3 but adjust by situation. Even a tiny spellweb spider can wreak terrible damage on the equipment of a high-level party if it manages to set up camp in a backpack overnight.

Treasure: as per base spider but any magical items rolled will likely have been completely drained of magic and only valuable as the base masterwork item. However
- spellweb spider venom fetches a good price on certain black markets and a successful skill roll (DMs discretion) can extract up to four intact poison sacs from any spider of size medium or larger. (Tiny creatures may also be able to harvest tiny and small spiders). Apart from the obvious use it can also be used to brew a draught which suppresses a beings ability to cast spells or use spell-like abilities for a period of time.
- scrolls scribed on fabric crafted from spellweb silk always cast as if affected by the Maximise Spell feat regardless of the original caster's ability.

Particularly powerful or dangerous magical items too difficult to destroy are sometimes hidden in spellweb lairs, where the silk keeps them quiescent until such time as they are needed ... or uncovered by unwitting adventurers.
marsden_online: Lochlan Springheel avatar (Springheel)

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Character for a just-started D&D game, level 6.

Lochlan Burrfoot Foundlingson (Lochlan SpringHeel)

Halfling Warlock 3 / Warmage 3


As his name tells Lochlan is a foundling halfling child adopted by the Burrfoot clan. His childhood among the Burrfoots (feet) was the happiest time of his life.

His magical ability was recognised by a “recruiter” for a prestigious warmage academy and he was given little choice but to enrol. Competition at the academy was fierce and discipline harshly enforced to keep the mostly evil-aligned students from “advancing past” (murdering) all their classmates before graduation. Lochlan managed to avoid the worst of the schemes by keeping low (pun intended), being generally likeable and staying aware of most of the plots which were happening. It helped that he was not an exceptional student; but his presence at the academy was ensured by the staff being aware of his warlock abilities (which were concealed from the other students) and potential.

On graduation the majority of graduates were Geased to serve a “patron” noble or warlord for a number of years and Lochlan was no exception. However he made his save against the Geas but bluffed his way through it until he was able to escape, stealing a magical shield and some other trinkets in the process. Now sought/hunted by his patron and/or the Academy who want back the money they had to refund his patron and to make an example.
Other possibilities floated here were:
- was partway through his unwilling service when the geas was broken by a spellcaster to whom he now owes a massive favour, left immediately, possibly sought as above.
- served out his time but chafed under it / was forced to take actions he strongly objected to in the process. Left as soon as he could with equipment either stolen or earned through service.


Currently Lochlan is down to his last gold piece (literally) and looking for an adventure which pays, while trying to stay below the radar of those who might be looking for him. He manages food and accommodation selling his ability to destroy things (tree stumps, boulders, etc) through liberal application of Arcane blast (acid/fire); and performing/competing in feats of agility.


Unknown. Mechanically another level each of Warlock and Warmage then Eldritch Theurge, possibly unlocking the fiendish or half-fiend templates as his powers mature further.


Lochlan generally presents as a typically cheerful halfling, slightly muscular and with an untidy shock of black hair which flies out wildly when he casts an Invocation. Privately he is prone to sudden fluctuations in mood, from genuinely cheerful to angry and despondent about the past and the likely future. Secretly he is haunted by the knowledge that he is not a “real” halfling, that he is part “something else”.

stats )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
So I was lying awake at 5am one morning (quite a while ago now) and my muse decided to get stuck into the fact that most fantasy races have the same sexual binary as humans, despite in a world with magic and elementals and active gods and so forth the options are far broader. This is the fourth in a short series.

These are written with a lot of D&Disms but the principles should hold elsewhere.

Possible trigger warning for child abuse themes.

Goblins, a desperate and diminishing race )
I originally wrote this article thinking of goblins, then it occurred to me that it made very similar sense for halflings, those carefree and likeable folk who get to make their way through human society at will, generally well liked and generally also overlooked ....
The halfling (or other small folk) take )
marsden_online: (Evil GM)
(D&D) dragons didn't belong to fixed colour groups and prefer environments based on their colour/abilities but instead metamorphosed to suit the environment around them? A red who settled in a swamp for a short 10-year nap might wake up to find themself a black, a green who foraged in artic waters for a few years might become a white.

One likely consequence is that there have been far fewer dragons than actually recorded in history, due to double/triple/... counting.
marsden_online: (write)
A fragment of overheard conversation earlier in the week got my brain whirring, and it won't shut up. I've googled and not come across anything similar, so here are a few ideas for a points based, flexible casting magic system to swap into D&D 3.x while retaining the spells as written as at least a useful reference.

This system does require re-imagining some of the classes and would bring a very different "feel" to the magic side of a campaign.

snip )

Whew. More later.
marsden_online: (neverwinter)
Just some jottings for my next campaign-in-planning, where elves and dwarves occupy niches outside their traditional ones which necessitate a few mechanical changes


Rather than being arboreal elves (at least the ones any PCs will be drawn from) are a nomadic society roaming the grasslands of a plateau. (Which once may have been forested, but that's a story for another day.) Very few changes are needed but I am switching out the racial +2 to Search for a racial +2 to Ride, the proficiency with rapier to proficiency with lance, and the favoured class (not that I bother with those) from Wizard to Ranger.

[Aside: when humans first encountered elves the formers' religion still considered of worshipping elemental spirits and forces-of-nature incarnate along with a few older, darker powers. Initially the elves also were worshipped as unto gods, something many of them did little to discourage. Ultimately the older religion more-or-less died off as the humans and to a lesser extent halflings (see below) adopted the elven gods.

The campaign will probably still use the standard gods I'll just need to tweak their backgrounds a bit to reflect their "new" elven origins.]


Dwarves can be normal dwarves, who tunnel in the rocky island archipelago off the coast and have left many worked-out mines from times past riddling the cliffs and hills of the mainland coast, or their seafaring brethren whose natural stability is equally a bonus on the water and whose longships and galleys still ply trade and raids to the mainland.

"Weather-eye" replaces Stonecunning and grants a seafaring dwarf a +2 racial bonus to Survival checks related to forecasting and preparing for the weather conditions of the next week. It also grants a +2 racial bonus to Spot checks made to assess the depth of a body of water and hidden dangers or benefits (currents, lurking monsters, sandbars, safe crossings etc).

Seafaring dwarves lose the +2 racial bonuses on Appraising and Crafting certain types of items; in exchange
- Stability is extended to grant a +2 racial bonus to Balance checks.
- Use Rope is always a class skill for seafaring dwarves

[Aside: delving dwarves still primarily worship Moradin who raised the islands from the sea to be their home but I still need to come up with a Neptune/Posiden type deity to add to the pantheon.]

Halflings (no mechanical changes)

Halflings and men have been co-existing as long as either race can remember - both races came to this land together. Although the relationship hasn't always been smooth at the present time halflings and humans share and are equal members in society, although the ruling classes tend to have a majority of the taller folk halflings produce the most skilled and respected artisans and craftspeople.

Gnomes (no mechanical changes)

Gnomish settlements occupied these lands before men came here, but they were happy to share and their fortified mounds quickly became just a feature of the "human" kingdoms although they swore no fealty to human rulers. This was aided by the human tendency to consider them as "just" slightly taller halflings, something the gnomes quietly grumble about but take full advantage of.

Since the human kingdom was shattered by the greenskins (goblins, orcs, ogres, trolls, hobgoblins) and human territories reduced to a series of coastal city-states life for the gnomes has pretty much gone back to the way it was before the arrival of men, their mounds once again surrounded by "wilderness" they call home and stoutly defended against greenskin attacks.

Half-orcs - none, replaced by Hobgoblins

Hobgoblins live as highly organised roving bands, selling their services as mercenaries to any side when conflict is present and resorting to brigandry when it is not. They are barely tolerated in human lands but welcomed by those in need of loyal (until the next paycheck) soldiers and with the gold or other resources to pay them. Their welcome in greenskin lands is barely more hospitable.

Hobgoblin characters possess the following racial traits
+2 DEX, +2 CON, -2 CHA
Medium size
Base land speed 30'
Darkvison 60'
+2 racial bonus on move Silently Checks
Automatic languages: Common, Goblin
Bonus languages: Draconic, Orc, Giant, Gnome
Favoured class: Fighter

[MM Hobgoblins have no penalty to CHA, a higher bonus on Move Silently checks and a +1 EL - presumably because of the 2 boosts to physical stats and no compensatory negatives. Comparing this to the string of abilities bestowed upon elves and dwarves though - I don't think any EL adjustment is necessary.]

Ogres [NPC race]

Ogres in this setting are slightly less savage than their traditional brethren, dwelling in crudely constructed villages and are actually quite an industrious people putting their strength to use in building as well as smashing. Unfortunately they are still on the whole rather dim and clumsy so their own constructions leave much to be desired, but they are easily recruited as labour by other races who can direct their efforts better.
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
One of the things which bugs me about the D&D3 monk is how they get proficiency with several interesting weapons but are actively dissuaded from using them by the disconnect between their improved unarmed damage and the relatively low damage of said weapons. One could just rule that the monk deals at least unarmed damage with any weapon they are familiar with, but this seems a bit overpowered and also detracts a bit much from the specialised combat feel of the class.

With that in mind here is a Monk-only feat designed to add a bit more flexibility.

Monk weapon training
You have trained with one type of weapon, such as kama, until using one is like an extension of your own body.

Monk Level 1, proficiency with selected weapon

Attacks with the selected weapon do your unarmed damage or the weapon damage whichever is greater, and the weapon takes on the properties of your Ki Strike.
Additionally the weapon counts as a special monk weapon for purposes of Flurry of Blows even if it would not normally.
* You still don't get to combine Flurry of Blows with Two Weapon Fighting for 3 attacks at 1st level, munchkins.

This may be chosen as the bonus feat at level one in place of Stunning Fist or Improved Grapple.
DM's option to let this be acquired in a regular feat slot.

Character Concepts
Half-orc or dwarf with axe who literally kicks butt at the same time. (Spend first level feat on weapon proficiency.)
Human duelist (Spend a feat on rapier proficiency)(I briefly thought of the 3 musketeers but they would probably have an issue with the lawful alignment of the monk)
Legolas (elven monk-with-bow-training)
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Kiera)
In D&D style games some dragons have an affinity for a particular element (most specifically red = fire, but ) but little further thought seems to be given to this. Additionally they are often portrayed as somehow apart from the natural order - as if being magical makes them somehow unnatural in settings where magic is everywhere as a matter of course.

With that in mind here are a few ideas for dragons more closely tied to the elemental planes. All these dragons are neutral in alignment (possibly varying on the law/chaos axis) and have the elemental type and all the immunities that provides, as well as the limitations on environment (fire/earth cannot enter bodies of water for example) as a balancer they lose most spell-like abilities and physical stats would come down a bit.

These creatures are found on their native planes, in dense areas of their element on the material plane or as summoned. I'd either slot them into the summon monster lists based on the CR they eventually turn out at, or (preferably) give them their own Summon Elemental Dragon spell. (I rather think the way D&D handles "Summon Creature" with just one set of lists is a bit naff but that is a post for another day).

Whereas regular dragons are described as eschewing grappling attacks elemental dragons make good use of them especially to draw opponents into their element (this will reflect in their feat selection). Elemental dragons also tend to be a bit single minded in combat, focusing on one foe at a time rather than spreading their attacks.

Fire: the red dragon could pretty much be used as-is, although fun ideas are
- immaterial form; not gaseous as suck so still able to be struck by normal weapons (miss chance?)
- loses tail attack
- no breath weapon but all attacks deliver fire damage, or a heat aura
-- with immaterial form the dragon can simply move into the same space as opponents to inflict burnination.
- drop STR, CON to make physically the weakest of the dragons

Earth: based on the brass (burrowing) dragon and the earth elemental
- lose flight and wing attacks but gain earth-glide, earth mastery
- breath weapon is a cone of shards

Water - fluid: based on the black and green dragons and the water elemental
- lose flight and wing attacks but gain water mastery, drench and the ability to corrupt or purify water
- breath weapon (corrosive, chlorine or peroxide based) would express as a line out-of-water and a cone beneath the surface (alternatively cone and spread respectively)
- all attacks inflict bludgeoning damage

Water - solid (ice): based on the white dragon, not a lot of changes needed
- could replace cold weapon with icy shards as per earth dragon above
(bonus points - have water dragons able to change between these forms)

Air (Storm) dragon: based on the blue dragon and air elemental
- immaterial form
- loses burrowing, gains air mastery, dramatically improves fly categories, retains create/destroy water
marsden_online: (globe)
I'd just like to wave in the general direction of the first comment on a Campaign Mastery review of The Unconventional Dwarf which promises
elves who reproduce by exposing other races to their mutagenic spores
in the next in the series.

There are fungoid (usually unintelligent) races which do something similar already in the D&D milieu, but it occurs to me that you could easily take the debate mentioned in my Elves and Fey post over what method of reproduction to undertake and have a schism whereby one group of elves adopted a mushroom-like method and went and lived in the dark.
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
So I was lying awake at 5am one morning and my muse decided to get stuck into the fact that most fantasy races have the same sexual binary as humans, despite in a world with magic and elementals and active gods and so forth the options are far broader. This is the third in a short series, previous entries: Dwarves Orcs

These are written with a lot of D&Disms but the principles should hold elsewhere.

This is less of a full article and more short jottings on a variety of the woodland inhabitants.

Elves )
Fey )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
So I was lying awake at 5am one morning and my muse decided to get stuck into the fact that most fantasy races have the same sexual binary as humans, despite in a world with magic and elementals and active gods and so forth the options are far broader. This is the second in a short series, Dwarves can be found here

These are written with a lot of D&Disms but the principles should hold elsewhere.

This entry has a mild trigger warning - like the rest of their culture the orcish reproduction process is fairly brutal.
The ultimate survivors )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
So I was lying awake at 5am this morning and my muse decided to get stuck into the fact that most fantasy races have the same sexual binary as humans, despite in a world with magic and elementals and active gods and so forth the options are far broader. This will probably be one of a short series.

This is written with a lot of D&Disms but the principles should hold elsewhere.

Moradin forged the first dwarves from elemental earth and stone and imbued them with the spark of life. Dwarven reproduction is analogous to this process.
A stone in the oven )

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