Archive for March 2017

FrankenFourth: The Illusionist

Something that's been on the docket for awhile now is the illusionist talent tree.

Jacob has been playing an illusionist/enchanter hybrid since the start of the Age of Worms playtest campaign, though he's since branched out into Necromancy because c'mon, animating big-ass undead minions and interrogating ghosts is pretty damned awesome and useful.

Not to say that his illusions haven't at least been useful, because they have: there's been many an enemy temporarily blinded by illusionary cubes conjured around their heads, and Jacob has even used illusionary walls to conceal the party's presence.

Despite its three or so talent requirements, Phantasmal Killer has been less then phenomenal: I don't even know what its Mana cost is, but it's pretty steep considering that you gotta cobble it together using several talents, but it only does something like 1d10+Intelligence psychic damage.

Yeah, the damage ignores armor, and unlike an undead minion you don't need a corpse handy to make it, but then it's only hop and skip down the Evoker path before you're blasting enemies apart with handfuls of dice at a fraction of the cost and time it takes to math out the Mana expenditure.

So, I took it back to the drawing board, and while I was there tweaked costs and effects of most if not all of the other illusionist talents. Here's what they look like, now:

ILLUSIONIST
Concentration
Fatigue: 1d4 per 5-foot cube (see below)
Duration: 1 minute per wizard level
You know how to weave stationary visual illusions. They can be up to 60 feet away, and occupy space no larger than a 5-foot cube per 1d4 fatigue suffered (but no more than one 5-foot cube per wizard level).
They last as long as you maintain concentration and don't move beyond the maximum range. They are not solid and make no sound. A creature viewing the illusion must make a Will save or believe that it is real until something happens that reveals otherwise. If a creature touches the illusion there is a visible distortion, revealing that it is fake.
Cantrip: You can conjure a small illusion that occupies a space of no more than one cubic foot within 5 feet of you.

And here's what some of the potentially confusing terms mean:

  • Concentration is a key word that means the talent lasts until you stop concentrating on it, or the duration expires, whichever happens first. If you suffer damage while concentrating on a spell, you have to make an Arcana check or the spell fizzles away anyway. You can normally only have a single concentration effect going at a time, but there will be magic items and possibly race/class talents that let you maintain more than one.
  • Fatigue is the amount of Mana you spend when using the talent (though I'm thinking a term like Drain would be more appropriate). If you don't have enough Mana, you spend the rest from your Vitality and/or Wounds, and if that's still not enough, you fall unconscious and the spell doesn't do anything at all.
  • Cantrips are little bonus things that some talents give you. They normally don't cost anything. Many of the illusionist talents modify the core Illusionist talent.

This talent grants a good deal of flexibility: you could use it to conceal the party, create an obstruction, a visual aid when trying to convey information (possibly for free if you keep it small), or something that might lure or dissuade someone from approaching (like a pile of treasure or some creature that wouldn't normally move).

Wizards start out with 4 Mana, which means you can safely create one 5-foot cube's worth of illusions, and on average you can get away with two if you don't mind maybe draining your 1 point of Vitality.

ANIMATED ILLUSIONS
Prerequisite: Illusionist
Fatigue: +1 per 5-foot cube
Illusions you create can move as you will, but cannot move beyond the talent’s indicated maximum range. You must pay the cost when the illusion is created: you cannot pay it after making an illusion to give it mobility. You can move each illusion affected by this talent as a Swift action, and they can move as quickly as you like: for example, you can have the illusion of a person walk or run from one location to another, or just suddenly vanish and appear somewhere else.
Cantrip: Illusions you conjure using the Illusionist cantrip effect can move.

COLOR SPRAY
Prerequisite: Illusionist
Fatigue: 1d4
Every creature in a 15-foot cone must succeed on a Will save or be dazed until the start of your next turn.

DISGUISE SELF
Prerequisite: Illusionist, Animated Illusion
Concentration
Sustain: 1d4
You completely change your appearance, including clothing, weapons, armor, and other equipment. You can only change your apparent height by about a foot or so. The illusion isn’t solid (without the Solid Illusion talent), and anyone interacting with your disguise will immediately know that it is fake.

GHOST SOUND
Concentration (Special)
Prerequisite: Illusionist
Fatigue: 1
Duration: 1 round per wizard level
You create sound within 30 feet. It can be of a single creature, as loud as a lion roaring. It can be used with other illusionist talents that require concentration: in this case treat them both as a single effect.
Cantrip: Illusions you conjure using the Illusionist cantrip effect can make noise no louder than a person speaking.

INVISIBILITY
Prerequisite: Illusionist, Veil
Concentration
Fatigue: 1d6
Duration: 1 minute/wizard level
You or a creature touched becomes invisible until the duration ends, you stop concentrating, or the target attacks or casts another spell.

PHANTASMAL KILLER
Prerequisite: Illusionist, Animated Illusion, Ghost Sound
Concentration
Fatigue: 3d4
Duration: 1 round/wizard level
You create an illusionary creature up to 60 feet away that assaults a creature's mind. Each round you can command it to move anywhere within range and attack an adjacent creature as a Swift action: the target must make a Will save or suffer 3d8+Intelligence psychic damage (ignores armor).

I figure just giving it a fatigue cost was better than forcing the wizard to tally a bunch of other costs. Also upped the damage and gave it a set duration.

SOLID ILLUSION
Prerequisite: Illusionist
Fatigue: See below
When you use illusionist, you can suffer an additional point of fatigue per 5-foot cube to make the illusion solid to the touch (there is no distortion when interacted with, and it feels normal), but the creature can still make a Will save to disbelieve the illusion if it has reason to. Even if the illusion is believed, it doesn't provide much resistance: a DC 5 Strength check is enough for a creature to force its way through. It cannot support more than a few pounds of weight.
You can use this with disguise self to make it solid (increasing the fatigue cost by +1), so people interacting with you won’t immediately realize that your disguise is fake.
Cantrip: Illusions you conjure using the Illusionist cantrip effect can be solid to the touch.

That's really all to expect in the Basic Rules. For illusions, anyway: there's a similar number of Abjurer and Evoker talents, and other schools will be available down the road. There default level cap is five, though it's pretty easy to look at the class and XP table and go higher if you want. Since wizards get something like 10 talents over the 5-level spread this will still have you mostly covered if you really want to focus on illusions.

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

Dungeons & Delvers is also on Kickstarter now: check it out, and if it looks like something you'd enjoy give it some support!

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to 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).

FrankenForth: Looking Back

So over on Google Plus, Kyrinn (S. Eis) asks:

"Looking back at 3rd, how do you like how F4th is holding up, or exceeding?"

The very short answer is that it's exceeding in every aspect, but then this is a D&Dish game that I specifically designed to do everything I wish D&D would have done in the first place.

So, yeah, you could say there's some bias, but I'm very pleased that all the things I wanted to do ended up working out in actual play.

The longer answer:

We've been playtesting FrankenFourth for quite some time, with a bunch of different people, in a bunch of adventures and campaigns (some we came up with, others converted from 3rd- and 4th Edition just to see how easy it would be, which it is), and a bunch of different characters.

While it started as a 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons hack that I originally ran with Melissa and the kids by the book (I wanted to make sure I hated the staggering amount of hp as I remembered), we gradually stripped virtually all of the 4E specifics away: the last thing to go was I think Defenses, which got flipped back to 3rd Edition saves after a poll. So, to everyone that utterly despises 4th Edition, give it a look anyway because it's not what you think.

We also kept changing and adding new stuff to the mix. This eventually resulted in, among other things, characters no longer requiring magical healing in order to get by, the cleric's per-day Favor mechanic, the wizard's unpredictable and dangerous magic, multiclassing that results in more organic character progression, more control over how complex your character is (fighters aren't the training wheels class), and monsters being able to challenge characters within a much wider level range.

All of this addresses nearly every problem I've had with every edition of Dungeons & Dragons (might actually address them all, but maybe I'm forgetting something).

I'm no longer going "Why is gold the default currency for PCs? It'd be nice for them to have something to aim for", or "Man, magic doesn't make any sense but that's the way it is, I guess I'll just deal", or "Kobolds sure can take a bunch of whacks (and why are they little dragon people?), guess I'll halve hp like basically everyone else does", or "Why do I choose a class feature at 2nd- or 3rd-level that locks in a bunch of other choices down the line? Why can't I just make some choices?"

The even longer answer (broken up into sections for your convenience):

Simple-Yet-Flexible Characters
One thing I didn't like about both 3rd and 5th Edition, is that too often you're stuck with whatever the game designers give you, when they give it to you. 5th Edition adds a bit of flexibility with subclasses, but these basically lock in a number of class features down the line: you can't change them later, even if it makes sense.

4th Edition gives you a considerable amount of flexibility, but characters are really complex right out of the gate: everyone gets two things they can do all the time (in addition to other things they can do all the time, like basic attacks), a couple things you can do once in an encounter, another thing you can do once a day, and that's before you factor in class features, racial features, and feats.

I'm good at memorizing all that stuff (and I still have a lot of it memorized), but most of my group? Nooope. Plus, making a character usually took 30+ minutes (even with the Character Builder) depending on how many books you wanted to look through due to the staggering number of races, classes, powers, and feats available, plus skill powers and hybrid classes.

With FrankenFourth I wanted to give the players more control over character complexity, but keep the baseline low anyway. I'd say that character generation is generally faster than in 3rd Edition and 5th Edition (depends on what you're playing and familiarity), and waaay faster than in 4th Edition.

You generate your stats (you can roll them, but there's also an array if you want to speed things up/keep things "fair"/don't trust your players rolling without you present), pick a race, pick a class, and can either choose gear from a list or randomly roll your cash and do it that way if you want.

Classes grant class features (ie, things you get no matter what), and most let you choose one or more talents (ie, things you choose that let you do stuff that the class normally can't do, or make you better at doing stuff that the class can already do).

Fighters are (currently) the odd class out in that you basically start out getting +1 to hit and damage with every weapon. They used to only get one talent over a 5-level spread, but due to player feedback and some playtesting I decided to allow them to exchange their +1 damage passives for a talent of your choice.

So, if you want to play a simple fighter, you can: just stick with the defaults and take talents that give you passive bonuses like Slayer (+1 damage with a two-handed weapon). If you want to get more elaborate, you can pick up exploit talents (and even swap out your damage bumps for more).

Even the magic classes are in a similar boat, as there isn't a huge-ass list of spells and you can always opt for the simpler stuff. Wizards start with Detect Magic and Magic Missile, and get to choose three more: if you want to keep things simple and blow shit up, stick to the Evoker tree, and if you want to get more complicated, Enchanter and Illusionist have got you covered.

What's more, if you think your character is getting too complicated you can always go with the simpler stuff later, and vice versa if you get to a point where you think you can handle more complex options.

Functional, Organic Multiclassing
In 4th Edition multiclassing is very shallow: you spend a feat to basically gain a skill and a once per encounter or maybe day ability key to another class: rogue gives you Sneak Attack, and cleric gives you their Healing Word prayer. If you want, and you pretty much won't, you can spend more feats to swap out powers from your class with ones from another class.

You're essentially burning feats merely to exchange powers, which is why my group houseruled it so that you just need to take the gateway feat and then can power swap however much you want later (it's not like you're getting more powers than everyone else). But, unless you wanted to miss a lot you still had to be careful what you picked due to the game's very tight math.

3rd Edition made multiclassing very easy and flexible: when you leveled up, you could choose just choose another class. Unfortunately, outside of some very specific builds it completely failed in its execution.

For example, let's say you make a 1st-level wizard. You don't know how to wear any armor, can use a smattering of shit weapons, only get 2 skill points, and have a spellbook brimming with cantrips and some 1st-level spells. Oh, you can also get a familiar: at the start of the game it basically gives you the Toughness or Skill Focus feat, except it can be killed.

1,000 XP later and you've leveled up. You decide to take a level in fighter. Whelp, all of a sudden you know how to use every simple and martial weapon (whether or not you actually trained with any of them), get +1 to all of your attacks, and can wear every type of armor and use any type of shield. You still only get the 2 skill points, but hey you get the fighter bonus feat (which wasn't nearly as good as auto-scaling spells).

The downside is you didn't learn any new spells and couldn't cast any more spells than you could before, and your Base Attack Bonus started to lag, both pretty big problems due to how all the numbers in 3rd Edition scaled.

FrankenFourth doesn't use leveled spells, and while monsters have levels aside from Wounds and Vitality it only barely affects some of their numbers. For example, a typical bandit's AC is like 11 or 12, while a dragon's AC is I think 14 or 15 (depends on age). Where they differ is that a dragon is insanely tougher and stronger: a 1st-level fighter would get maybe a good whack or two in before getting torn apart.

This has led to some very organic character progression that I don't think would work in 3rd Edition, and you can't even do in 4th by the book. For example, in our Age of Worms campaign Melissa's character Sumia started as a rogue, but during The Whispering Cairn found an owlbear cub. She wanted to befriend it and keep it around, and when I told her that the ranger class would let her choose the Animal Companion talent she jumped on that.

Fast-forward several more levels (mostly in ranger) and, frustrated by needing a light source to see in the dark that would also prevent her from sneaking around, she decided to multiclass into wizard for a Divination-based talent that gives her the ability to see in the dark. Yeah, the sustain cost eats up all of her mana, but it's the only thing she wanted anyway.

Magical Healing Isn't Mandatory
A big thing I hate about Dungeons & Dragons is that outside of 4th Edition magical healing is pretty much mandatory: you need someone to keep cranking out cures, and a case of healing potions and/or a healing wand (in 3E, anyway) is great as a backup.

We fixed that in FrankenFourth by giving characters a Vitality stat, which is basically a small portion of hp (about a quarter to one-third depending on class and Constitution) that recovers much more quickly than the rest (though it's very easy to flip everything over to pure hit points if you want, and you can control how long/how much Vitality is replenished).

Characters also have Wounds, which replenishes much more slowly: you regain a bit based on your level and Constitution after resting for the night. Your Wound Recovery is modified by your environment, too: you'll recover much more quickly by staying at a comfortable inn (though the ranger, druid, and barbarian will get class features or talents that negate penalties from resting in the wilderness).

Alchemical potions are readily available, but these don't work right away: currently mending potions restore lost Wounds at a rate of 1/round, but they also penalize your Constitution for awhile (which reduces your maximum Wounds), so if you drink too many too soon you'll die. Actually magical healing potions are far more rare, work much faster, and cure everything that ails you (including poisons, disease, broken bones, etc).

Dangerous, Unpredictable Magic (Sometimes)
Wizard magic in FrankenFourth is both unpredictable and dangerous: most wizard talents require the expenditure or investment of mana, often a random amount. I didn't make stuff like Mage Armor random, because then the wizard could cast it, roll, and if they rolled badly rest up and try again.

Anyway, when you use a talent that requires mana, you subtract that amount from your mana first. Not enough? Okay, the rest gets paid with your Vitality, and if that's not enough (or you're out of Vitality) it starts dipping into your Wounds. This cost is paid before anything else happens, so you can't sacrifice yourself to unleash a devastating spell: you just fall unconscious and maybe die before anything happens.

Sorcerer magic uses a similar system, but they get more mana, Wounds, and Vitality, and transform the more they use their magic (think Howl from Howl's Moving Castle). We're also kicking around the idea of reducing sorcerer costs and even making some abilities free when you certain conditions are met. Only downside is that their magical abilities are far more focused than a wizard.

Cleric and druidic magic is completely safe, but requires you to be in good standing with your god, and you can only regain Favor once per day for free: if you really need more, you'll need to offer up sacrifices to your god. What you can do is also restricted by your god's portfolio(s) and the Domain(s) you have access to.

No Pseudo-Vancian Magic
None of the spellcasting classes use what would be more accurately termed as pseudo-Vancian magic (which again doesn't make any sense). Some share mechanics (wizard and sorcerer, and cleric and druid), but that's only when it makes sense to do so. Still gotta hash out warlock and psychic characters.

I will be adding in a Vancomancer at some point, which will use actual Vancian magic because contrary to what you might have heard it does in fact make sense.

Mythological Monsters
For the most part we're sticking with the mythology whenever we can find actual concrete information about it.

Like, we're not calling gorgons medusas and metal bulls gorgons, kobolds are halfling-sized and -shaped spirits (not little dragon people), angels aren't just a bunch of dudes with random skin colors and wings, ghouls can steal your face, change their shape, and can't paralyze you, vampires won't by default be harmed by sunlight, and chimeras are a lion with a goat head sticking out of its back and a snake-tail.

Ogres look a bit different. Ditto for rakshasas, which will also have a much different array of abilities. Really you can go through our Dungeon World monster classes to see where we're going with some things. Some things will be harder to deal with than others, like djinn, but we're doing what we can because more often than not the actual mythological source is much more interesting that what you get in D&D.

Related, many monsters are also going to have things you can harvest from them. So while a hellhound doesn't have a need for treasure, its hide can be made into fire-resistant armor (or just sold if you don't need/want it).

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

Dungeons & Delvers is also on Kickstarter now: check it out, and if it looks like something you'd enjoy give it some support!

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to 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).

FF/ASW: Escape From The Cambion Cube

Cast
  • Asheal (level 4 ishim wizard)
  • Hordac (level 4 tachon battlemind)
  • Rust (level 4 scion nomad)

Summary
The party woke in a cramped chamber. It was uncomfortably warm, and only dimly illuminated by pulsing crimson runes carved into every surface. Unsure where they were or how they got there, they felt the walls for a means of escape. When nothing was found, Asheal resorted to her arcane sight.

Magic radiated from every surface, but a pattern along one of the walls hinted at a something like a door.

They searched the area, but when they were still unable to locate a button or handle Rust used his psychic powers to collapse space near it: while it didn't destroy the wall, it did briefly pull some of the panels away. He tried again; this time Hordac grabbed onto one of the panels, preventing it from returning to the wall and giving them a small opening to escape through.

The room beyond wasn't much different from the one they were in, just bigger: it was still dark, warm, and there were glowing runes everywhere. There were also several skeletons wrapped up in bladed chains, but they didn't get a chance to do much before Rust destroyed them by warping the fabric of space all about them.

An opening appeared in one of the walls across the room, and a horned cambion peeked in to see what all the tumultuous rippling of space was about. When he spotted the characters he ordered a bunch of burned, naked warriors wielding nothing but jagged blades to kill them.

There were also three more skeletons in another part of the room, but even though they all ganged up on Hordac he was able to weather the damage thanks to his psychic skin-hardening. While trying to support him Rust lost control of his powers and went partially out of phase

Since Rust could now move through walls he managed to sneak up on the cambion overseer, and nabbing his sword before returning to the fray. The overseer also had a flaming whip, but he didn't get a chance to use it much before Asheal pelted him with some magic missiles and Hordac ran him through.

With everything sliced and scattered apart, Asheal observed that there were more magic-wall-doors regularly spaced along the walls, suggested more cells like the one they woke in. But, when Rust and Hordac attempted to open one, Rust ended up accidentally freezing himself in space, which was about the time a pair of lesser hellcubes rolled into view.

They both began clicking and changing shape: Hordac grabbed one to halt its transformation, but Asheal just stared at the other one because she wanted to see what would happen: numerous lengths of bladed chains burst forth, forcing Hordac to drop the one he was holding in order to mostly evade them. This allowed it to complete its own transformation and summon a fallen cherubim.

Rather than fight the demon, Hordac rushed over to the hellcube and hacked it apart. As he theorized this caused the demon to vanish. They then set about destroying the last hellcube before it could reset and do something else, and since it was late we stopped the session there.

Design Notes
Really this is it for this adventure. I might try running it again in, but due to work, Shane (the player of Hordac) probably won't be able to play for quite some time. Definitely going to publish this adventure for A Sundered World, though: I certainly planned more than enough material (which I'll gradually reveal as I start doing the art for it).

Got to playtest the new nomad power suite. Adam thinks that the Tear Difficulties are a tad high: he wants to try lowering them, while also reduced what each of them does because it was very easy for him to take out groups of enemies. Might be awhile before we get around to it though, since we're going to try a more "normal" campaign setting to better playtest the paladin, barbarian, druid, ranger, and sorcerer.

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

Dungeons & Delvers is also on Kickstarter now: check it out, and if it looks like something you'd enjoy give it some support!

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to 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 Kickstarter is Live!

The Dungeons & Delvers Kickstarter went live yesterday, and we're (as of this posting) already over a third of the way to our goal!

If you haven't been keeping up, it's basically a rules-lite dungeon crawling role-playing game geared towards kids, but still fun for everyone.

We've been playtesting it off and on for a few years now, both with our kids and our adult Hangout group (in addition to various one-shot games and letting other people take a look at the document).

So, the rules are basically done, we really just need to finish writing one of the races and a couple classes, and wrapping up the art (which will take the most time since I'm still not used to the chibi-style).

If you wanna see the game in action/hear what a group thought about it without any input at all from us, you can watch this video by the guys from Skinner Games:



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

Dungeons & Delvers is also on Kickstarter now: check it out, and if it looks like something you'd enjoy give it some support!

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to 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 One-Shot With Skinner Games

The folks over at Skinner Games took the latest version of Dungeons & Delvers for a (pretty lengthy) spin: if you're curious what they thought about the game (especially without any guidance from its creators), give it a watch (or listen, it's nearly three hours long)!



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

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to 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).

FrankenFourth: The Cover & Other Art

Aaand here's the pretty much finished cover for FrankenFourth (courtesy of Melissa):


Here's a few other bits of art (not to scale):


Chimera, death cultist, and ogre (I'll let you figure out which is which).

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

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to 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).

FrankenFourth: Age of Worms, Episode 510


Cast
  • Humal (level 9 wrathful cambion wizard)
  • Corzale (level 9 dwarf war cleric)
  • Sumia (level 9 elf rogue/ranger)

Summary
The party pursued the maybe fleeing Bozal-Worm, retracing their path back to the Coenoby. They were delayed by a pair of Kyuss zombies that Bozal-Worm had deposited in the first flooded chamber, and by the time they caught up the Coenoby guards had been transformed into more Kyuss zombies.


Humal used his magic to conceal Sumia from sight, allowing her to easily slip past them. She found Bozal-Worm for some reason attempting to unsuccessfully wriggle his way into one of the gladiator bedchambers. Sumia returned to Corzale and Humal, and after informing them as to what she had seen they—with the help of Humal's magic and chameleon cloaks—took turns sneaking by the zombies.

By that time Bozal-Worm had withdrawn from the room, dragging two unconscious figures along with long tentacles. One was an elven woman that they'd only seen a few times during their stay, the other a male human that they knew to be the eponymous leader of Auric's Warband. Bozal-Worm slurped up the elven woman, but before he could do the same to Auric, Corzale charged in and struck the tentacle: her maul's radiant light reduced it to ash, and Auric's barely conscious form fell to the ground in a heap.

Countless thin, razor-sharp filaments exploded from Bozal-Worm's body as he bellowed with rage. They flailed wildly about, slicing everything they touched. To make matters worse, the Kyuss zombies also rushed to their progenitor's aid.

While the party busied themselves trying to destroy the Kyuss zombies, Bozal-Worm scooped up Auric in his mouth. Sumia suddenly heard Filge's voice in her mind urging her to save him; without hesitation she scrambled up Bozal-Worm's back and began sawing through what she hoped was his throat. Corzale rushed in underneath Bozal-Worm, hoping to make it harder for the filaments to harm her, and struck at its underside. This exposed Auric, and Sumia shouted at Humal to rescue him.

Humal commanded his chimera skeleton to haul Auric out of Bozal-Worm's gullet and carry him beyond the range of the filaments. Bozal-Worm barely managed to gurgle out a protestation before Humal's cockatrice skeleton tore it apart, causing it to melt into a heap of necrotic filth. Corzale was the first to burst forth, screaming in agony and desperately trying to heal herself.

Auric didn't seem to be breathing, but before Sumia could try administering a healing potion a Kyuss-zombie-formerly-known-as-the-mysterious-elven-woman emerged from the filth and dashed towards Auric, dagger in hand. They weren't sure why Bozal wanted Auric dead so badly, but that was enough to tell them that they needed to keep him alive: Corzale blasted her with divine light, Sumia stabbed her with the cursed dagger, and Humal's cockatrice skeleton unceremoniously crushed her underneath its massive talons.

Sumia proceeded to administer the potion, which instantly healed Auric's wounds. Once revived he was understandably confused and frightened. He ignored the characters' questions and explanations as he scrambled about looking for a weapon, but was eventually cornered by Humal's undead minions when he retreated to his team's chamber.

They tried to explain that the massive green worm was Raknian's doing, but he refused to believe them: as a regular at the Champion's Games he'd known Raknian for years, while the characters were both strangers and his opposition. To speed things up Humal charmed him, and while he became far more amicable maintained that the worm-creature must have been an attraction that simply somehow escaped from the monster pens.

With at least a few guards dead and Raknian's plans presumably foiled, the party opted to slip out of the arena after nightfall, bringing Auric with them just in case. The safest place they could think of was the hopefully still vacant lair of the thulid transmuter; they decided to hole up there for a few days to recover, and give Humal a chance to brew up some doppelgangers.

Auric delivered a message to Ekaym on their behalf, informing him that they were still alive, that Raknian had murdered his sister, and had intended to use a massive undead worm-creature to do something that also involved Auric for some reason. Having miraculously escaped the disastrous event unscathed, Sumia snuck out a few times, and while observing the arena and Raknian's home learned that he had mysteriously vanished.

Design Notes
It was nice seeing that the PCs were able to fight Bozal-Worm's undead throng last session, and then keep up the chase without having to rest. Didn't get a chance to see how the wizard's partial mana recovery worked out (it's now 1 mana point per level, per 10 minute period of rest), but Humal had enough to do what he needed to do anyway so I guess that's good.

I'd intended to have the Filge-mind-crystal speak to Sumia earlier (the one she found back in The Hall of Harsh Reflections), but I kind of kept forgetting about it. He's convinced her to implant it in one of the doppelganger's Humal is cooking up, so assuming he's on their team looks like they'll have more necromancy magic at their disposal.

This mostly marks the end of The Champion's Belt: we're just one adventure away from where the original 3rd Edition campaign left off!

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

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to 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).

FrankenFourth: Monster Preview

Here's three of the many monsters that will be featured in the FrankenFourth "black book" (most of the monsters will be illustrated, just depends on if there's enough space to put one in).


Initially this stat block was for a goblin, but (and I forget why) very early on someone suggested replacing it with a boggart and it just kinda stuck.

If you've played Dungeons & Dragons much of the stat block should make sense to you. If you haven't kept up with FrankenFourth's design and development, once we get to the Defense section a few things look different.

The first is Armor Class and DR. We started out having armor just be Damage Resistance, with shields upping your Reflex (and having melee and ranged attacks target your Reflex "defense"), but a lot of playtesting and a few polls later people really wanted to see saving throws.

So, Reflex got changed back to a saving throw (along with Fortitude and Will), Armor Class came back, and I ended up doing an AC/DR split with armor so that magical armor, special materials, and class talents wouldn't quickly and easily result in an insane amount of damage reduction.

The other thing that differs is the Wound/Vitality split. When you take damage you normally lose your Vitality first, then Wounds. Vitality replenishes fairly quickly (short rest brings some or all back), while Wounds requires a long rest and even then only a portion is healed.

Since for monsters it typically won't matter, we also give you the Total at the end.

After that it's basically business as usual, though we put in a treasure line. Originally I was going to do it more like older D&D, what with treasure types and whatnot, but this is easier than looking at a monster, then flipping to the treasure section to see what it means.


The cockatrice is one of many monsters that has stuff for you to harvest from it (rangers and druids have access to talents that let them harvest more from certain monster types). You can sell it to a sage or alchemist, but they can often be used to create things (assuming you know how to make something and have access to the necessary equipment).

In the case of the cockatrice, I could see someone with the alchemy crafting skill using its blood to make an oil to restore someone that got petrified (or even something for you to use on your own weapon to petrify someone you hit with it), and the feathers could be used to make magically petrifying arrows (or, since the cockatrice can fly, a cloak that would let you fly).

Some things have a cost (like alchemical potions), so it's a matter of having x sp worth of something to make it, but in many cases (like the magic arrows or cloak) it'll end up being the GM's call.


We went a more mythological route with the ghoul (as we did with the Dungeon World version), giving them abilities to change their shape and steal faces. The treasure line points out that the ghouls' treasure is in its lair (by default any treasure listed is either carried on its person or must be harvested from it).

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

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to 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).

FrankenFourth: Another Druid & Fighter Playtest


Cast
  • Merric (3rd-level human fighter)
  • Pikala (3rd-level elf druid)

Summary
Merric and Pikala arrived at a village just in time to catch a post rain-calling ceremony mishap: apparently the sacred stone disk used for the ritual doubled as a cap to a pit leading to a section of the underworld; while the priest was able to complete the ritual, one of his assistants failed to stop it from rolling off of the cliff and shattering on the ground below.

This was quickly followed by a group of lemures emerging from the pit. Very slow and very stupid, it was a simple task for Merric and Pikala to destroy them, after which the village priest explained that he needed to venture to a nearby temple and retrieve a new disk. Since it was infested with harpies, he naturally wanted both of them to accompany him.

As harpies are wont to do, they initially attempted to keep their distance and charm the characters with their alluring voices. Not only were they both able to resist, but Pikala conjured a storm cloud and began blasting them with bolts of lightning. This forced them to close the distance in an effort to tear Pikala apart with their talons, but Merric interposed himself, suffering only a few scratches before the harpies were slaughtered.

The temple had been dilapidated through time and neglect. While the priest was occupied searching the rubble for an appropriately sized-and-shaped stone to bless, Merric and Pikala rummaged about for anything of value. They'd only found a few gemstones by the time the priest was ready to go, but at least they wouldn't be leaving empty-handed.

By the time they returned not only had more lemures crawled out of the pit, they were also accompanied by a dark-skinned, infernal warrior wielding a wicked spear and carrying a large shield. Pikala tried tying up the lemures with her nature magic, but had to quickly change tactics and focus on the warrior with Merric; even with their combined attacks, Merric was barely standing by the time they finished the warrior off.

Fortunately, without the warrior supporting them the lemures were of little consequence: Pikala didn't even have to use any of her magic to heal Merric. While the pair finished off the last of the lemures, the priest and a few other villagers replaced the stone disk, sealing the pit and preventing more from climbing out.

Design Notes
This playtest session was handled by Melissa, giving me a chance to play a sufficiently talented druid, though I only ended up using Call Lightning and Entangle throughout the session. Entangle is an area-effect attack that can also restrain on a failed save, while Call Lightning lets you continuously bombard a single target for a minute.

It only costs one Favor to activate (and can deal a bit more damage if there's a storm already going, such as one made using the Weather-Worker talent), but then unlike wizards and clerics, druids don't get an at-will magical attack.

Adam was much more satisfied with the fighter this time around, what with there being enough enemies for him to use his exploits on (especially Sweeping Strike). We all agreed that his AC was a bit on the high end: it's 17 right now, and that's without masterwork/magic armor or special materials. So, I'm gonna reduce shields to a flat +1 bonus and see how that works out.

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

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to 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).

A Sundered World: Player Fragments Softcover Color Books

Took far longer than expected, but the softcover color version of A Sundered World: Player Fragments is now available. Hardcover and B&W versions are of course to follow.

If you already purchased the PDF, look for a print-at-cost discount link in your inbox (assuming your DriveThruRPG account is set so that you can be contacted, that is).



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

The Rogue is our latest alternate-addition to the Dungeon World core class roster. If you want something different and/or more flexible than the thief, be sure to 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).

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