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Category Archives: Dungeons & Dragons 5e

Just prior to Xanathar’s Guide to Everything being released, we were running some characters through the D&D Next adventures “Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle”, “The Scourge of the Sword Coast”, and “Dead in Thay”.

Ghosts is a great product to have in hard copy because it includes the adventure as well the entire rule system as it was during play tests; it also contains beasts and a huge amount of resource material. Probably the best thing I like about it, though, is the art work that spans the entire D&D oeuvre!

Of course, Dead in Thay has been redone for 5E in “Tales from the Yawning Portal”, so it can be ran using either D&D Next or 5E, even though there is very little difference.

We had gotten through a large part of Ghosts and were at 3rd level at the time that Xanathar’s came out, but I gave the players the option to convert their characters to one of the new classes since I used their characters to go through the creation process of the new classes in Xanathar’s just for my own edification. For those interested, here are the characters I created: Jelenneth Floshin (3rd Level Gloom Stalker who is a kinswoman of the famous Elven Floshin family who play a huge part in the region of Daggerford’s history); Holg (Half-orc companion of Jelenneth who is a 3rd Level Barbarian of the Ancestral Guardian Primal Path); Emporo Zuberi (3rd Level Bard of the College of Swords who is from Chult); Juma Zuberi (Younger brother of Emporo and 3rd Level Swashbuckler).

Jelenneth Floshin

Holg

Emporo Zuberi

Juma Zuberi

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve posted any RPG-related material here, but that’s not because of inactivity. It’s actually because of too much activity.

First and foremost was the publication of one of my write-ups of a monster in the relatively new mag, Savage Worlds Explorer. All of the folks at PEG that I’ve met, chatted with online, or exchanged e-mails with, have been just great people! But I have to send the big thanks out to Matthew Cutter who has been a fantastic editor to work with!

I’ve also reorganized my RPG book shelf and am chomping at the bit to dig into that beautiful Ripper Resurrected Box Set and start posting some homemade content. So, stay tuned!

Currently I’m running Adventures in Middle Earth which is an interesting adaptation of D&D 5e OGL. It really downplays the use of magic by characters and incorporates a system akin to Fear or Insanity that is called Shadow. As players continuously encounter the forces of evil, they can become affected and descend into all manner of role-playable badness. I’ve found myself having to fight the urge to Savage this game, but I really want to run it RAW before tweaking things.

I’ve also been creating new characters from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything since it was released.

We took our new characters through older D&D adventures from the D&D Next line. Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, Scourge of the Sword Coast, and Dead in Thay.

 

Another RPG I’m excited about getting in the next few days is Genesys by Fantasy Flight Games. It’ll be interesting to see the design of their agnostic RPG.

Finally, I decided to entice (force) the family to play Savage Worlds at our house since we were hosting Thanksgiving. It really did’t take much arm twisting because I let the group decide on the genre. We decided to run a Zombie Apocalypse one shot which I had run before and it was a huge success! Introducing my wife’s grandfather of 80-something years to Savage Worlds was quite entertaining. Everyone had a great time!

The D&D multiverse is a pretty friggin’ cool thing to role play in. With Wizards of the Coast’s rebranding of D&D with 5e’s pseudo-retro focus and feel, it’s tough to ignore what’s happening with their products. As a hard core Savage Worlds’ fan, it’s fun to keep abreast of the 5e stuff while at the same time thinking of opportunities and methods of Savaging 5e.

Several weeks ago I created a team of elite Eladrin (Elves from the Feywild) who were a commando team that were being sent into the Shadowfell. I created both 5e and SW versions of the four-person team.

As I was reading about some background on the Eladrin, I discovered an entry in the Dungeon Master’s Guide on the Eladrin as a race.

So, I went and updated the 5e sheets to reflect the feature of Fey Step.

Ranger 7

Paladin 7

Druid 7

Bard 7

I really don’t like page 2 of the D&D sheets, so I printed these and replaced them as page 2.

Quarion Pg 2 D&D

Paelias Pg 2 D&D

Ivellios Pg 2 D&D

Anastrianna Pg 2 D&D

For their basic backstory and the Savage Worlds character sheets, see this post.

The only Shadowfell-set story that has been released for 5e is The Curse of Strahd, so that would be the natural product to Savage, but let me throw out a couple of ideas.

The only product outside of 5e I’ve counted on for this campaign is the Shadowfell Campaign 4e book. The amount of information and the great map of Gloomwrought are worth using it just for that content, but the book has even more awesome stuff to help you expand beyond the valley of Barovia.

The box also comes with the equivalent of a fear deck that is great to use with 5e. You’ll need to convert from 4e to 5e, but this should help.

In Savage Worlds, it’s best to use the Horror Companion’s rules for Fear and Psychosis. You can adjust the timing of when the group has to make checks to be more-or-less in the background, or you could give difficulties and increase frequency to make it grittier.

Either way, if you use the Tarokka deck, you’ll be using a couple of decks of cards in Barovia. You could even use the Tarokka deck to deal Action cards in SW.

I thought it would be a cool storyline to have the Eladrin team travel back and forth between the Shadowfell and a location in Faerun that serves as a base of operation. My pick for this is Baldur’s Gate, which has been statted for 5e under the title of D&D Next. The campaign guide for this is robust. The campaign takes place earlier in the timeline than all of the D&D 5e book products, but remember, time flows differently in the Shadowfell; so, a long campaign in the Shadowfell after The Murder at Badlur’s Gate campaign could cause the characters to return to Faerun during the time of another, later campaign (like Tyranny of Dragons, e.g.).

The possibilities are endless with areas to explore when the bases of operation become Baldur’s Gate and Gloomwrought. A possible connection could be a portal in both cities linking the two.

And finally, here are numerous monsters from the D&D multiverse statted for SW. My go-to places to find monster stats before I wind up making them from scratch are the various bestiaries from PEG’s line-up – especially the genre-specific companion books. I also like Zadmar’s Savage Stuff and this wonderful bestiary.

Hopefully, I’ll one day run these campaigns in BOTH systems just to compare the experiences.

This serves as the first adventure for the four Elven heroes who must eventually sneak into the Shadowfell on a secret operation. The first four missions are not in the Shadowfell. They are designed as missions to retrieve four magic items that each Elf will find beneficial on their future missions inside the Shadowfell.

This first mission utilizes Dyson Logos’ map and background called “Wygralak’s Hole”.

For the full keyed dungeon as well as a Random Encounter table for the surrounding lands, see here:

Wygralak’s Hole Revisited v2

The Mad Mage Maurice is back with his stunning art and awesome research.

Here is a handy conversion of many D&D magic items to Savage Worlds:

Magic Items

This character creation turned into a little project of its own and needs a little explanation. I began with creating the four Elves in D&D 5e as it’s more robust. Even though D&D breaks down levels into four broad categories, it actually makes more sense to group them by the Proficiency Bonus increase and that creates 5 tiers of levels. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to create off-shoots from the core classes, so I chose a party consisting of Bard, Druid, Paladin, and Ranger and chose paths for them that emphasized nature. I also wanted them to begin with a certain level of skill, so I chose to create 7th level characters and then try to emulate the same build in Savage Worlds with Veteran characters.

The biggest hurdle turned out to be how to handle the magic. Druids and Paladins have Prepared spell lists from all available spells, and Bards and Rangers have Spontaneous spells that are a smaller set of spells they learn. D&D and Savage Worlds have Arcane systems that are markedly different from each other – D&D being “Vancian”, cast and forget type spells using Spell Slots from a large spell repertoire and Savage Worlds using Power Points that fuel a small amount of spells. This was a challenge.

I had seen Richard Woolcock’s document on his Zadmar site entitled Savage Vancian Magic, but had never taken the time to read it. This seemed like a good time to check it out. And boy, am I glad I did. It maps the D&D spell system to Savage Worlds effortlessly. Not only that, it also includes new Edges that have the D&D feel to the classes. You could still use the Power Points method if you were adamant about keeping your Savage Worlds play grounded in the familiar Arcane system of SW, but I believe that SVM is worthy of a test run.

When I got to the point of creating the same characters in Savage Worlds, I had to make a decision, did I want to convert them exactly or create the character from scratch leaving most of the background the same, but potentially wind up with a character of the same name but different skills. I wanted to try and emulate the character’s skills from D&D, but parse it down to a faster playing style that is the SW feel. Honestly, using SVM was very helpful in this. I chose a mix of Edges from the core book and SVM that I feel emulates each character very well at a comparable rank in SW.

I also wanted to use fillable character sheets so people can use these characters and advance them in rank in both systems. The SWFC fillable sheet turned out to be too limited, but I persevered and used it anyway. I like my sheets to have as much information for the player as possible to limit having to look things up in books or on computers, so I went ahead and created an additional SW sheet for each character.

The real prep work for both systems will be the spells. On the D&D sheets I listed spells that I thought would be a good list of starter spells for an adventure, but feel free to change them as you see fit. For my own printed versions, I went into SVM and printed off the spell lists for Shaman (Druid), Spellsinger (Bard), Warden (Ranger), and Champion (Paladin) and attached them to the SW sheets.

To use these characters, you’ll need:

D&D: Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide, and the Monster Manual

SW: Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorers Edition, Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion, and Savage Vancian Magic

I will be releasing a series of adventures for a High Fantasy setting using both D&D 5e and SW. These characters are presented as pregenerated characters that may be used in the forthcoming adventures, or you’re certainly free to create your own should you want to use those adventures.

BACKGROUND

The Material Plane is bounded by two worlds and the three worlds overlap each other. These worlds are the Feywild where everything is in either perpetual dawn or perpetual dusk and the other is the Shadowfell where everything is dark, saturnine, and eerie. The Feywild is home to many fairytale creatures and is a world with much beauty. Two fey courts rule in the Feywild. Both courts are ruled by Queens. The Seelie Fey is called the Summer Court and is ruled by Queen Titania. The Queen of Air and Darkness rules the Unseelie Fey in what is called the Gloaming Court. [see the DMG for more details.]

Our adventure party are four Elven members of the Gloaming Court who have been chosen to create an elite team with specialized skills for their upcoming missions. They were inserted as diplomats from the Gloaming Court into the organization called the Emerald Enclave on the Material Plane. Within the Emerald Enclave, they have a Renown level of Winterstalkers.

The first member is the Bard. Paelias Moonwhisper. Paelias loves lore from any culture he encounters and is a master lute player. He is also a good swordsman.

Bard 7

Bard Vet

Paelias SW

Our next member is the Druid Quarion Amastacia. Quarion is the eldest of the group and acts as the leader of the team. His early life was spent in seclusion, but he has since become an adventurer of renown.

Druid 7

Druid Vet

Quarion SW

Next, we have the Paladin of the group. His name is Ivellios Naïlo. He is a close relative of the Queen and has a noble background. He is young by Elf standards and is passionate about proving himself to his family.

Paladin 7

Paladin Vet

Ivellios SW

Finally, we come to the Ranger and lone female of the group. Her name is Anastrianna Sionnodel. Anastrianna served in the Ghoul Wars where she learned her Ranger craft. She is now ready to put her skills to the test outside of the Feywild.

Ranger 7

Ranger Vet

Anastrianna SW

I started playing D&D in 6th Grade. That would be 1981 when I was 11 years old. The person who exposed me to D&D was my older cousin Trace. He still runs his weekly D&D game with his friends to this day in Huntsville, Alabama. For a long time he was a key event planner for the gaming convention in Huntsville. While doing this, he was able to coordinate the guests of honor that came to the Con to help draw more participants. This would have been in the early 90’s. My uncle worked for NASA at the time (he’s now retired) and Trace was able to get Bob Salvatore to attend the Con with the promise that a full-access tour of the NASA facilities would be included in the trip. We’re talking visiting areas that the general public weren’t able to visit with the standard tour.

An unexpected, but cool, outcome to this was that Trace and Bob became friends at a time when Bob’s career was just beginning to take off. Trace even went and spent one Thanksgiving with Bob and his family one year! One day when I was at Trace’s house visiting he got a call from Bob and I was able to talk to Bob for 30 or 40 minutes on the phone. It was so cool!

Another cool thing that Trace did for me was to get my first edition of The Crystal Shard signed by Bob!

What does this have to do with the topic at hand? Good question. Not a whole lot other than I thought about all this while I was scouring the internet for stats on Drizzt and thought it would help add to my RPG street cred!

Now to the real point of the post. When I created the Pulp Hero Team that accompanied my last post, I thought it would be cool to create a team of High Fantasy/Swords & Sorcery heroes to use as Player Characters. I mean, how fun would it be to go through a One Shot using Gray Mouser, Aragorn, and Gandalf as PC’s! Or to play through one of the dungeon crawls just released in Tales from the Yawning Portal using Elric, Drizzt, and Conan!

My research around the net has uncovered the following trove of characters for both D&D 5e and Savage Worlds.

Lord of the Rings characters for Savage Worlds

Another version of Aragorn for Savage Worlds

Drizzt Do’Urden for D&D 5e

Statting out Conan for D&D 5e

Another version of Conan for D&D 5e

Statting out Elric for D&D 5e

Fafhrd & Gray Mouser for Savage Worlds (There’s also more versions of them in the Savage Worlds product called Lankhmar: City of Thieves)

Harry Potter characters for D&D 5e

Finally, here are links to fillable character sheets for both systems so that you can use the links above to craft your own all-star adventure group for your home-brew games.

Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion Fillable Character Sheet

D&D 5e Fillable Characters Sheets

 

Here are the character sheets for the Pulp Hero super team presented in individual files:

Indiana Jones

The Phantom

Lara Croft

Doc Savage

This is the final version of the Adventure called “The Blasphemy of Pavel”.

The Blasphemy of Pavel v3

I began with the 5e Dungeon Masters Guide (DMG), graph paper, pencil, and some dice using the tables on page 290. I completed about half of the dungeon only fudging rolls when I encroached upon the edges of the graph paper. I got about half-way finished and decided to jump ahead to the other tables to see what kind of dungeon I was creating. On the “Lair” table I rolled “Barracks where the lair’s defenders are quartered”. While looking through the tables, my mind was drawn to the “Temple or Shrine” table and I rolled “Central temple built to accommodate rituals”. The blending of these ideas made me think of a militant, religious order like the Knights Templar. I decided to check out the monster tables to try and see what sorts of monsters might be good to populate the dungeon with. As I perused the tables, the picture of the Bone Devil on page 308 caught my eye. I decided to get the Monster Manual (MM) and read about the Bone Devil.

While looking up the Bone Devil I came across the Death Knight and the Chain Devil as two candidates for Bosses. While reading the description of the Death Knight, the idea began to form of the plot that would result in the final product. I liked the idea of an Order of Good Knights descending into the stuff of Conspiracy Theory and Secret Society-type corruption. Having the Chain Devil be the cause of this fall fit right into the dungeon.

As I went back and finished rolling up the dungeon, I came up with religious practices that might go on in this shrine. I knew I needed to have the Knights as cultists in the dungeon. I also knew I wanted to have 3 Boss Battles. The first one I determined would be against Pavel. I learned from Ed Wetterman from a conversation as well as an adventure he ran at this year’s Genghis Con, that nothing stirs the Party as much as a good old Philosophical-style Moral Dilemma thrown in their lap. I thought it would be interesting to see if the Players would try and determine whether or not Pavel was beyond redemption. There’s no clear answer presented, but all options would be playable. A good DM/GM could also have Pavel say certain things that might raise such questions amongst the Party. I also gave Pavel a sword from both systems which are obviously versions of Stormbringer. Will this doppelganger of Elric suffer a similar fate here?

The third Boss Battle was a no-brainer – Chagûl the Chain Demon. But what could the second one be. While looking through the MM and the Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion (SWFC) cross-referencing monsters, I must have either made my Notice roll or succeeded on my Difficulty Class roll, because I happened to notice that both systems have Archmages. After reading both systems stats – BTW, I think a cool Con game would be to run this adventure in both systems back-to-back just to experience the differences between two similarly designed adventures and how the two games play out – I decided to model the Archmage on Rasputin. I thought that it would be a cool second Boss Battle.

I finished rolling all of the dungeon except the very top part that connects to the Underdark. By that point, I knew the general plot and had ideas on how to key the dungeon.

I hope you enjoy this and decide to play through it. If you do, or just want to share your own random dungeon, please let me know!