Too Many Games… Too Little Time

Looking at my shelves filled with RPGs, it’s abundantly clear that a good deal of my games will never see action in this lifetime… in spite of the fact that I’d love to play quite a few of those systems again.

In the interest of clearing space for stuff that I’ll likely play, I’ve been “weeding” the shelves and selling off games that I’ll probably never use (which differs from never playing) again.  Here’s my quick way of noting what games will stay and what won’t:

  1. Play List:  Games that I’m currently playing with one of my gaming groups.
  2. Reference List:  Games that I use (or may use) as a resource when running my D&D game.
  3. Wish List:  Games that I’d love to play but can’t find a group for (yet!).
  4. Dead List: Games that I’ve purchased but don’t have much interest in.

Play List:  D&D 5th edition and DC Heroes/Blood of Heroes.  At this point, these are the only games that I’m playing or running (3 D&D and 1, infrequent, DC Heroes game).  These games aren’t going anywhere… especially because they’re my favorite game within their respective genres.

Reference List:  AD&D (1st & 2nd edition), Basic/Expert D&D (Moldvay edition), and D&D 3.5.  AD&D is the game that got me into roleplaying and the game that most heavily influences how I run my game (episodic adventures and with a sandbox feel to the campaign).  Between the inspiring Gygaxian prose and tables of the original Dungeon Master’s Guide, excellent adventure modules like The Village of Hommlet and The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, and amazing campaign settings like the original Greyhawk boxed set and Planescape, AD&D provided a great foundation for creating and running a fantasy game.  Back in the day I didn’t give Basic/Expert D&D credit (I thought it was a dumbed-down version of AD&D) but, looking back, I can see that it was a much tighter, leaner, and meaner system than AD&D.  It also was a great tool for teaching DMs how to run dungeons and, with Expert, wilderness adventures.    As for 3.5, it’s the version of D&D that I played the most and grew to loathe over time (too much math, too much reliance of skills and feats, too many stacking effects, etc).  Still, the d20 system serves as the basis for 5th edition and I’m sure that I can find bits to adapt (cleric domains for example).  Then again… maybe I should sell most of the books and only keep the PHB and awesome bits (Ptolus, the Forgotten Realms settings, Rappan Athuk, The City of Brass, The Wilderlands boxed set, etc).  The Thieve’s World RPG/boxed set is something that I’ll NEVER play but can’t chuck for some reason… probably because I dig the art and would love to run a game where the entire group plays a bunch of thieves.

Wish List:  Barbarians of Lemuria (it looks like the perfect system for a pulp fantasy game… I’d love to use it for a Lankhmar campaign), Pendragon (in spite of its needing an overhaul to move it out of the 1980s), The One Ring (I love this game but would much rather play in it than run it), Feng Shui (fun, cinematic game that encourages wacky stunts), Star Wars (WEG’s d6 system is the only one that does the movies justice), Irradiated Freaks (for a post-apocalyptic, gonzo kinda game), Yggdrasill (this looks like a brutal game but I’m intrigued by it!).

Dead List:   Atlantis, 2nd Edition (I’d rather use Barbarians of Lemuria),  Call of Cthulhu (I’m interested in the newest edition of the game but don’t own it), Warhammer FRP, 3rd edition (good game but it’ll never see use), Star Trek RPG (I’m not a big fan of scifi, other than space opera settings like Star Wars), Star Frontiers (I’ve owned this for years but never got a game off of the ground), Fantasy Hero (dated and too rules-heavy), Rolemaster and MERP (too complicated), Decipher’s Lord of the Rings (The One Ring blows this system away… though I should probably keep the sourcebooks),  Savage Worlds (I have a TON of stuff for this system, particularly for the Hellfrost setting, but it just doesn’t do it for me), Shadows of Esteren (beautiful books and a lot to love in terms of the thought and care put into this system… but too much for my addled brain to digest), BASH! (DC Heroes does “supers” much better), Runequest (meh… too dated), Traveller (I guess I’d play a game but don’t think it would really inspire me… unless the GM had a great idea for a campaign), James Bond 007 (an innovative system for the time but I’d rather use Feng Shui for a spy game), Marvel Superheroes (once again, DC Heroes does it better).

So… what games are on your Play, Reference, Wish, and Dead lists?

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A Spell-less Ranger for 5th Edition – Updated on 9/13/16

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Class Options

The PHB presents 12 classes (barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, fighter, monk, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, warlock, and wizard), each with several archetypes that allow for greater diversity within those classes.  On top of this, character backgrounds grant additional proficiencies, boons, and roleplaying considerations that further distinguish one character from the next.

So why mess with the ranger?

With all of the options presented, a player can easily create countless characters without feeling like their characters are cookie cutter duplicates of one another… even if they create multiple characters with the same class.

The options presented in The Player’s Handbook could easily allow a player to run a spell-less ranger by making a fighter, rogue, or barbarian with the outlander background.  WotC has even provided a spell-less ranger variant for those who feel the need for one  (I guess I’m not the only person who didn’t dig the ranger as presented in the PHB).

Still, as a finicky nerd, I felt the need to come up with my own variant.  To download a PDF copy of this class, click HERE.

RANGER VARIANT

THE  RANGER
     
Level Proficiency Bonus Features 
1st +2 Favored Enemy, Natural Explorer
2nd +2 Fighting Style, Natural Lore
3rd +2 Hunter’s Instinct, Ranger Archetype
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement
5th +3 Extra Attack
6th +3 Land’s Stride
7th +3 Ranger Archetype feature
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement
9th +4 Favored Enemy and Natural Explorer improvements
10th +4 Hide in Plain Sight
11th +4 Ranger Archetype feature, Extra Attack (2)
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement
13th +5 Call Natural Allies
14th +5 Ability Score Improvement, Vanish
15th +5 Ranger Archetype feature
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement
17th +6 Favored Enemy and Natural Explorer improvements
18th +6 Feral Senses
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement
20th +6 Foe Slayer

CLASS FEATURES

As a ranger, you gain the following class features:

HIT POINTS

Hit Dice: 1d10 per ranger level

Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + your Constitution modifier

Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your Constitution modifier per ranger level after 1st

PROFICIENCIES

Armor: All armor, shields

Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons

Tools: Herbalism kit

Saving Throws: Strength, Dexterity

Skills: Choose three from Animal Handling, Athletics, Insight, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Stealth, and Survival

EQUIPMENT

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) chain mail or (b) leather armor
  • (a) two shortswords or (b) two simple melee weapons
  • (a) a dungeoneer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
  • A longbow and a quiver of 20 arrows

FAVORED ENEMY

Beginning at 1st level, you have significant experience studying, tracking, hunting, and even talking to a certain type of enemy.

Choose a type of favored enemy: aberrations, beasts, celestials, constructs, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, giants, monstrosities, oozes, plants, or undead. Alternatively, you can select two races of humanoid (such as gnolls and orcs) as favored enemies.

You have advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to track your favored enemies, as well as on Intelligence checks to recall information about them.

When you gain this feature, you also learn one language of your choice that is spoken by your favored enemies, if they speak one at all.

You choose one additional favored enemy, as well as an associated language, at 9th and 17th level. As you gain levels, your choices should reflect the types of monsters you have encountered on your adventures.

NATURAL EXPLORER

You are particularly familiar with one type of natural environment and are adept at traveling and surviving in such regions. Choose one type of favored terrain: arctic, coast, desert, forest, grassland, mountain, swamp, or the Underdark. When you make an Intelligence or Wisdom check related to your favored terrain, your proficiency bonus is doubled if you are using a skill that you’re proficient in.

While traveling for an hour or more in your favored terrain, you gain the following benefits:

  • Difficult terrain doesn’t slow your group’s travel.
  • Your group can’t become lost except by magical means.
  • Even when you are engaged in another activity while traveling (such as foraging, navigating, or tracking), you remain alert to danger.
  • If you are traveling alone, you can move stealthily at a normal pace.
  • When you forage, you find twice as much food as you normally would.
  • While tracking other creatures, you also learn their exact number, their sizes, and how long ago they passed through the area.

You choose additional favored terrain types at 6th and 10th level.

At 6th level and beyond you may render your tracks and those of your allies untraceable while traveling at a normal pace in one of your favored terrains.  Under such conditions you and a number of allies equal to your proficiency bonus + Wisdom modifier cannot be tracked by nonmagical means, unless you choose to leave a trail.

FIGHTING STYLE

At 2nd level, you adopt a particular style of fighting as your specialty. Choose one of the following options. You can’t take a Fighting Style option more than once, even if you later get to choose again.

  • Archery: You gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls you make with ranged weapons.
  • Defense: While you are wearing armor, you gain a +1 bonus to AC.
  • Dueling: When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon.
  • Two-Weapon Fighting: When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.

NATURAL LORE

At 2nd level your knowledge of herbalism allows you to gather medicinal herbs when foraging (PHB 183).  During a short rest you can create a number of non-magical herbal salves equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum 1).  These salves must be applied within 24 hours of their creation or they lose their potency.  Application of herbal salves takes 1 minute.  This ability may only be used once per long rest.

At 2nd level your herbal salves can be used to replicate the effects of a Cure Wounds spell when applied to a creature.

At 9th level your salves can be used to replicate the effects of a Lesser Restoration spell when applied to a creature.

HUNTER’S INSTINCTS

At 3rd level, your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make with any two of the following skills:  Animal Handling, Athletics, Insight, Intimidation, Investigation, Nature, Perception, Stealth, and Survival.

At 10th level you can choose another two skill proficiencies to gain this benefit.

RANGER ARCHETYPE

At 3rd level, you choose an archetype that you strive to emulate: Hunter or Beast Master, both detailed at the end of the class description. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 7th, 11th, and 15th level.

ABILITY SCORE IMPROVEMENT

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 14th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

EXTRA ATTACK

Beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.  Starting at 11th level, you can attack three times, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

LAND’S STRIDE

Starting at 6th level, moving through nonmagical difficult terrain costs you no extra movement. You can also pass through nonmagical plants without being slowed by them and without taking damage from them if they have thorns, spines, or a similar hazard.  In addition, you have advantage on saving throws against plants that are magically created or manipulated to impede movement, such those created by the Entangle spell.

HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT

Starting at 10th level, you can spend 1 minute creating camouflage for yourself. You must have access to fresh mud, dirt, plants, soot, and other naturally occurring materials with which to create your camouflage.

Once you are camouflaged in this way, you can try to hide by pressing yourself up against a solid surface, such as a tree or wall, that is at least as tall and wide as you are. You gain a +10 bonus to Dexterity (Stealth) checks as long as you remain there without moving or taking actions. Once you move or take an action or a reaction, you must camouflage yourself again to gain this benefit.

CALL NATURAL ALLIES

Starting at 13th level, when you are in an area of your favored terrain, you can call natural creatures from that terrain to fight on your behalf, using your attunement to the natural world to convince them to aid you. The DM chooses beasts appropriate to the terrain to come to your aid from among those that could hear you and that are within 1 mile of you, in one of the following groups:

  • One beast of challenge rating 3 or lower
  • Three beasts of challenge rating 1 or lower
  • Six beasts of challenge rating 1/2 or lower
  • Twelve beasts of challenge rating 1/4 or lower

These beasts approach you from their current location, and will fight alongside you, attacking any creatures that are hostile to you. They are friendly to you and your comrades, and you roll initiative for the called creatures as a group, which takes its own turns. The DM has the creatures’ statistics.

After 1 hour, these beasts return to their previous location. Once you use this feature, you cannot use it again in the same general area for 24 hours, since the same animals will not repeatedly heed your call.

VANISH

Starting at 14th level, you can use the Hide action as a bonus action on your turn.   Also, you can’t be tracked by nonmagical means, unless you choose to leave a trail, regardless of terrain or travel pace.

FERAL SENSES

At 18th level, you gain preternatural senses that help you fight creatures you can’t see. When you attack a creature you can’t see, your inability to see it doesn’t impose disadvantage on your attack rolls against it.

You are also aware of the location of any invisible creature within 30 feet of you, provided that the creature isn’t hidden from you and you aren’t blinded or deafened.

FOE SLAYER

At 20th level, you become an unparalleled hunter of your enemies. Once on each of your turns, you can add your Wisdom modifier to the attack roll or the damage roll of an attack you make against one of your favored enemies.  You can choose to use this feature before or after the roll, but before any effects of the roll are applied.

RANGER ARCHETYPES

The ideal of the ranger has two classic expressions: the Hunter and the Beast Master.

Hunter

Emulating the Hunter archetype means accepting your place as a bulwark between civilization and the terrors of the wilderness. As you walk the Hunter’s path, you learn specialized techniques for fighting the threats you face, from rampaging ogres and hordes of orcs to towering giants and terrifying dragons.

Hunter’s Prey

At 3rd level, you gain one of the following features of your choice:

  • Giant Killer: When a Large or larger creature within 5 feet of you hits or misses you with an attack, you can use your reaction to attack that creature immediately after its attack, provided that you can see the creature.  In addition, when fighting Large or larger creatures you may Dodge as a bonus action.
  • Horde Breaker: Once on each of your turns when you make a weapon attack, you can make another attack with the same weapon against a different creature that is within 5 feet of the original target and within range of your weapon.  In addition, when within 5 feet of two or more foes, you may Help an ally as a bonus action.
  • Relentless Harrier: Your tenacity can wear down the most potent foes. When you hit a creature with a weapon attack, the creature takes an extra 2d4 damage if it’s below its hit point maximum.  You can deal this extra damage only once per turn.  At 7th, 11th, and 15th levels, you gain an additional d4 of damage, to a maximum of 5d4 at levels 15 and higher.

Defensive Tactics

At 7th level, you gain one of the following features of your choice:

  • Escape the Horde: Opportunity attacks against you are made with disadvantage.
  • Multiattack Defense: When a creature hits you with an attack, you gain a +4 bonus to AC against all subsequent attacks made by that creature for the rest of the turn.
  • Steel Will: You have advantage on saving throws against being frightened.

Multiattack

At 11th level, you gain one of the following features of your choice:

  • Volley: You can use your action to make a ranged attack against any number of creatures within 10 feet of a point you can see within your weapon’s range. You must have ammunition for each target, as normal, and you make a separate attack roll for each target.
  • Whirlwind Attack: You can use your action to make a melee attack against any number of creatures within 5 feet of you, with a separate attack roll for each target.

Superior Hunter’s Defense

At 15th level, you gain one of the following features of your choice:

  • Evasion: You can nimbly dodge out of the way of certain area effects, such as a red dragon’s fiery breath or a lightning bolt spell. When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail.
  • Stand Against the Tide: When a hostile creature misses you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to force that creature to repeat the same attack against another creature (other than itself) of your choice.
  • Uncanny Dodge: When an attacker that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to halve the attack’s damage against you.

Beast Master

The Beast Master archetype embodies a friendship between the civilized races and the beasts of the world. United in focus, beast and ranger work as one to fight the monstrous foes that threaten civilization and the wilderness alike. Emulating the Beast Master archetype means committing yourself to this ideal, working in partnership with an animal as its companion and friend.

Ranger’s Companion

At 3rd level, you gain a beast companion that accompanies you on your adventures and is trained to fight alongside you. Choose a beast that is no larger than Medium and that has a challenge rating of ¼ or lower (appendix D presents statistics for the hawk, mastiff, and panther as examples). Add your proficiency bonus to the beast’s AC, attack rolls, and damage rolls, as well as to any saving throws and skills it is proficient in. Its hit point maximum equals its normal maximum or four times your ranger level, whichever is higher.

The beast obeys your commands as best as it can. It takes its turn on your initiative, though it doesn’t take an action unless you command it to. On your turn, you can verbally command the beast where to move (no action required by you). You can use your bonus action to verbally  command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge, or Help action.

While traveling through your favored terrain with only the beast, you can move stealthily at a normal pace. If the beast dies, you can obtain another one by spending 8 hours magically bonding with another beast that isn’t hostile to you, either the same type of beast as before or a different one.

Exceptional Training

Beginning at 7th level, on any of your turns when your beast companion doesn’t attack, you can command the beast to take the Dash, Disengage, Dodge, or Help action on its turn with no action required by you.

Bestial Fury

Starting at 11th level, your beast companion can make two attacks when you command it to use the Attack action.

FERAL BOND

Beginning at 15th level, your beast companion shares the Hunter’s Instinct and Land Stride abilities with you, so long as you are within 1 mile of it.

May the 4th be with you!

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Being that today is Star Wars Day, I’m asking what’s your favorite RPG for gaming in the Star Wars Universe?

  • West End Games:  Star Wars, Star Wars 2nd Edition (d6 system)
  • Wizards of the Coast: Star Wars, Star Wars: Revised Edition, and Star Wars Saga Edition (d20),
  • Fantasy Flight Games: Star Wars Roleplaying Game

Please answer in the comments section.

My favorite of those is, by a wide margin, WEG’s d6 system.  It allowed for a great degree of differentiation between characters without getting bogged down in rules.

From what I can recall, there were two issues that cropped up in our d6 games:

  1. Jedis soon overshadowed all other characters in combat.
  2. Die resolution became a chore once you rolled more than 5 dice.

Luckily here are simple houserules to mitigate these issues.

  1. For Jedi characters, change Lightsaber Combat so that the Jedi only adds half his Sense as additional dice for attack rolls and half his Control as additional damage dice. In addition, cap the additional dice at +5.
  2. To simplify die rolls, cap all dice rolled at 6D (5D+ 1 Wild Die).  Any dice beyond this would add 3 to the result.  As such a character rolling 11D would roll 6D and add 3 for each of the remaining 5 dice for a total of 6D+15.

The Half-Ogre for 5th Edition D&D

The Half-Ogre

When an ogre mates with a human, hobgoblin, bugbear, or orc, the result is always a half-ogre. (Ogres don’t mate with dwarves, halflings, or elves. They eat them.)

The Half-Ogre

Monstrous Heritage
Human mothers rarely survive the birth of a half-ogre offspring. The half-ogre offspring of an ogre and an orc is also called an ogrillon. An adult half-ogre or ogrillon stands 8 feet tall and weighs 450 pounds on average.
Skin color and hair color is variable but tends to be brown, grayish, black, dull yellow (skin only) or one of the above with a slight grey-green hue. Overall, half-ogres have swarthy, dull complexions with dark, lank hair. Most half-ogres have human-like eyes, though about 20% have the white pupils common to ogrekind.

Tenacious Outcasts
Half-ogres, though generally outcasts among humans and feared for their ugliness and size, can find some acceptance among ogres. Half-ogres in an ogre band need to prove themselves constantly to their larger kin, however. For this reason, half-ogres found among an ogre band are cruel, violent, and strong; weaker half-ogres usually wind up in the stew pot.
Most half-ogres found among full-blooded ogres are leaders of the ogre band or are at least well on their way to becoming leaders. Long years suffering the harsh treatment of their kin help half-ogres develop a sense of cunning and a strong will to survive. Therefore, ogres under the leadership of a half-ogre fight more effectively, even engaging in planned ambushes and complicated tactics that are beyond most ogres.

Mixed Blessings
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to being a half-ogre. On the positive side, their Large size allows half-ogres to use heavy or versatile weapons one-handed without penalty. Luckily, protective rings, bracers, and amulets may be used by the race, despite their size.

On the negative side, half-ogres are cursed with evil dispositions, prone to sullenness and bouts of rage.  Even when this is not the case half-ogre characters are viewed with fear and suspicion by most civilized folk they come upon. Furthermore, the cost of specially sized armor and clothing required by half-ogres is high, four times the norm for Medium-sized creature, and weight is twice normal. They are also too big to ride anything but a huge horse or an elephant, neither of which is readily available or of low cost.

Hunted
When struck by any weapon designed to slay humans or giants, half-ogres are considered to be of either race.  Rangers attacking ogres gain the benefits of the favored enemy class ability if they have chosen either humans or giants as favored enemies. The giant killer ability also includes half-ogres as viable targets.

Half-Ogre Names
Half-ogres usually have names appropriate to the culture in which they were raised. Half-ogres raised among ogres typically adopt ogrish or giant names.
Male Names: Durnar, Freki, Gniall, Gragmr, Holg, Magri, Surdrim, Thrum, Urg, Wuld
Female Names: Alda, Denir, Eldra, Helgi, Murren, Ogra, Riasa, Sagrid, Ulle

Half-Ogre Traits
As a half-ogre, you have the following racial traits.
Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2, and your Constitution score increases by 1.
Age. Half-ogres have lifespans a little shorter than humans. They generally reach maturity at 15 years of age, and live for about 70 years on the average.
Alignment. Half-ogres inherit a tendency toward chaos from their ogre parents, but, like their human parents, they favor neither good nor evil. Half-ogres raised among ogres and willing to live out their lives with them, however, are usually evil.
Menacing. You gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill.
Size. Half-ogres are taller than humans or half-orcs, but not as tall as pure-blood ogres. Half-ogres stand almost eight feet tall and weigh around 450 pounds, making you a Large creature.  You can use wield oversized weapons that deal double the normal dice of  damage on a hit, but cost four times the normal price. Armor must also be made especially for half-ogres, at a cost of four times the normal price.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Darkvision. Adapted to nocturnal pursuits, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Languages. You can speak Common and Giant; while the ability to read and write is relatively common among  adventurers raised in civilized lands, half-ogres who grow up among their ogre kin are rarely literate.

To download a PDF versions of this, click HERE.

Human & Demihuman Options for a 5th Edition Greyhawk Game

Now that I’m running a 5th edition classic Greyhawk campaign I’m trying to stir some AD&D flavor into 5th edition… without unbalancing or over-complicating things.  Between the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Elemental Evil Player’s Companion  there are a total of  12 official races and 11 subraces to choose from :  aarakocra, aasimar, dragonborn, dwarves (hill and mountain), elves (dark, eladrin, high, and wood), genasi, gnomes (deep, forest and rock), goliaths, halflings (lightfoot and stout), half-elves, half-orcs, humans, and tieflings.

One easy way to run a 5th edition game that feels a bit more like old-school AD&D is to limit the racial choices permitted at my table while adding new subraces and a new race (the half-ogre) to the mix.

Races that don’t make the cut:   Aarakocra, aasimar, deep gnomes, dragonborn, drow, eladrin, tieflings, genasi, and goliaths.  While I have a soft-spot for planar races (aasimar, eladrin, tieflings, and genasi), I’d save them for Planescape.  Drow do exist in Greyhawk but are reclusive, villainous schemers that are seldom seen above ground.  They are best reserved for NPC foes for the PCs.

RACES OF GREYHAWK


HUMANS

Humans must be from one of the classic Greyhawk cultural groups: Baklunish, Flannae, Oeridian, Suloise. I’d probably allow Rhennee characters as well since I may integrate Ravenloft into my campaign.

Baklunish, Flan, Oeridian, Olman, Rhenee, and Suliose humans

 

DWARVES

Dwarven characters have no new options in Greyhawk; they must be either hill or mountain dwarves. While duergar do exist, they are a malevolent and largely unknown subrace in Pre-Wars Greyhawk.

 

ELVES

As noted above, elven players characters may not choose to be drow but have three new subraces to choose from:  Grey elves (faeries), Valley elves, and Wild elves (grugach).  Both Valley and Wild elves would be exceedingly rare as player characters due to their outlook towards other races:

Grey Elves: These elves are the most noble of elves, and the most aloof. They are of higher intellectual capabilities than other elves, and tend to be taller than high elves. They live in isolated mountain strongholds, and rarely allow access to outsiders. They have silver hair and amber eyes, or gold hair and violet eyes, and wear clothes of white, silver, yellow and gold, and usually wear regally colored cloaks. Those with gold hair are generally called faeries. They worship the standard elven pantheon and are played as high elves, except that they may replace the standard elven ability score increase to Dexterity with a +1 increase and increase their Intelligence score by 2.

Valley Elves: Valley elves are thought to be an offshoot of the gray elves and have all of the powers and abilities of that subrace, but speak the gnomish language as a  starting language.  Valley elves are unusually tall, some of them growing to the height of humans, with hair color of silver or gold and eyes of amber and violet. They are shunned by other elven sub-races, who do not consider them “true elves” but are greeted with goodwill by gnomes.  The name of valley elves is derived from the Valley of the Mage, where the sub-race is headquartered in the WORLD OF GREYHAWK™ Fantasy Game Setting. They are played as high elves, except that their extra language must be Gnomish.  Valley elves are distrustful of outsiders, to the point of xenophobia. Valley elves are despised by all other elven subraces, including the drow.  The reason for such antipathy is uncertain, but some have speculated that it was because they sold their loyalty to a powerful master in exchange for extraplanar knowledge. Despite their xenophobia, valley elves work closely with the gnomes and humans of the Vale of the Mage to be in defense of their mutual home. Most needs of the valley elves are provided by the Mage of the Valley. Foraging makes up for the rest.

Wild Elves: Wild elves, or grugach, are the most reclusive of all the elves; xenophobic towards all other races including other elves. The wild elves, who are found in the depths of the Phostwood, pride themselves on their isolation and skill at keeping hidden. Their skin tends to be brown and they have similar colored hair which lightens with age. They are played as wood elves but gain proficiency with spears in place of longsword proficiency.

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GNOMES

Surface and deep gnomes use the Gnome Traits presented in The Player’s Handbook on pages 36-7. Use the subraces below for Greyhawk gnomes:

Surface Gnomes: Surface gnomes, also called rock gnomes, normally dwell in shallow cave complexes close to the surface. Gnome villages can be hard to find, as they blend with nature and even artificial structures are often constructed to resemble trees, rocks, or hills. Though naturally a hill-dwelling folk, orcish and goblinoid threats have driven many gnomes into the plains of human-dominated lands where they seek help to reestablish their old heartlands. Many, too, co-exist with elves in the woodlands; where the elves are active in working with human interests, so are the gnomes. Surface gnomes often share living space with dwarves, and are a brave, tough folk who are loyal to their neighbors and fight side by side with them. While they are not particularly fond of water, surface gnomes are more willing than dwarves are to live in such areas, and gnomes have even been reported dwelling in bubbles of air in undersea caverns. Gnomes have also been reported in the arctic and in places with mild volcanic activity. The traits and abilities for surface gnomes are:

  • Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 1.
  • Gnomish Combat Training: You have proficiency with the warpick and warhammer.
  • Speak with Small Beasts: Through sounds and gestures, you can communicate simple ideas with Small or smaller beasts. Surface gnomes love animals and often keep squirrels, badgers, rabbits, moles, woodpeckers, and other creatures as beloved pets.
  • Stonecunning: Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to the origin of stonework, you are considered proficient in the History skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.

Deep Gnomes: In the dark below earth, svirfneblin protect their enclaves, keeping their small communities safe from the terrors of the lightless depths. Serious creatures, these gnomes vary greatly from their surface cousins by choosing to live in the shadowy depths and protect the world above from the foul creatures sharing their chambers, vaults, and tunnels. Svirfneblin closely resemble their rock gnome cousins; they are slightly thinner than rock gnomes, though just as strong. Male svirfneblin have little or no hair, while females have thin, stringy hair typically worn no longer than shoulder length. Their skin is the color of rock, typically gray or brown. Their eyes are always some shade of gray. They are stunted and gnarled creatures averaging three to three-and-a-half feet in height. They gain the typical Gnome Traits, though they make speak Undercommon in place of Common and tend towards neutral alignment.  Use the Elemental Evil Players Companion rules for deep gnome player characters.

HALFLINGS

Both lightfoot and stout halflings are played as described in The Player’s Handbook. Tallfellow halflings may also be played in the Greyhawk setting.

Tallfellows: Taller, thinner, and fairer than their halfling cousins, it is rumored that elven blood runs in the veins of tallfellows. Tallfellow halflings are on good terms with elvenkind and often build their communities within woodland havens. They are played as lightfoot halflings but replace the Naturally Stealthy ability of lightfoots with the Mask of the Wild ability of wood elves.

HALF-ELVES

Half-elves are played as described in The Player’s Handbook.

HALF-ORCS

Half-orcs are played as described in The Player’s Handbook, except that some (10% chance) pass for humans.

Coming soon:  The Half-ogre

In Search of Adventure


MEGA-ADVENTURES VS. ADVENTURE MODULES
As much as I love 5th edition, I do wish the WotC would release short adventure modules as they and TSR did from the late 1970s until the late 2000s.

While I do have plenty of classic adventures that I can easily convert to 5th edition, it would be great to see something new get released.  At the same time, it would be awesome if they also re-released classic adventures, in pdf format, that are statted out for 5th edition.  

My informal method of converting AD&D adventures is to start by dividing all treasures’ value by 8 to get its 5th edition value.  For monsters, I pretty much use their 5th edition counterparts (when available) or substitute level appropriate creatures for those that I can’t track down.  NPCs are slightly trickier but, thankfully, they are easy enough to generate.  

Megadventures that cover the entire span of a campaign don’t thrill me because I prefer running adventure arcs that could change dependent upon the players’ action.  Right now, for example, the party has completed A0:  Danger at Darkshelf Quarry and could now take several different paths that could lead them to either T1:  The Village of Hommlet, N1: Against the Cult of the Reptile God, or U1: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh

Megadventures, even those that allow players to take the lead as to how to proceed through the adventure, strike me as too limiting and, with 5th edition, too earth-shattering.  Every one of WotC’s current megadventures has vast destruction as the price for the PCs’ failure. I’d much prefer short adventures that I can plop into my campaign, with some minor tweaks, to create a story that revolves around the players’ actions and choices.

Some of my favorite classics, in no particular order, are:

  • B1:  In Search of the Unknown
  • B2:  Keep on the Borderland
  • G1-3:  Against the Giants
  • I1:  Dwellers of the Forbidden City
  • I2:  Tomb of the Lizard King
  • I6:  Ravenloft
  • L2:  The Assassin’s Knot
  • N1:  Against the Cult of the Reptile God (the boss fight needs to be tweaked)
  • S1:  The Tomb of Horrors
  • S3:  Expedition to the Barrier Peaks
  • T1: The Village of Hommlet
  • U1:  The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
  • X1:  The Isle of Dread
  • The Red Hand of Doom
  • Rappan Athuk

Back in the Saddle Again

So, after a 5 year hiatus, I’m back to DMing and playing Dungeons & Dragons (5th edition this time around).

My hope is to post 5th edition musings, conversions, and houserules.  In addition I’ll be posting about other RPGs that I dig (or dug), such as Pendragon, Keltia, The One Ring, and Yssdrassil.


Hopefully I give someone out there some bits to use in their games or spark someone’s interest in a game that has inspired me.


For now, I’ll leave you with a link to my 5th edition support page:  LINK