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Category Archives: Dungeons & Dragons 5e

I ran the Doomvault for the boys. It was a blast using ICRPG with the tweaks I discussed from Savage Worlds – Bennies and Action Deck Initiative. In the lower half of the picture above I have my notes ready for the Doomvault. We wound up using all of this space to build our story embellishments, as I’ll show in detail below.

Before we started, I went to my FNG store and purchased the giant d20 to indicate the current Target Number. I also decided to just replace the large, steampunk Hero Tokens with blue chips. So, for our game, we started with 3 Bennies (red chips used to either roll with Advantage or re-roll after rolling an Attempt) and 2 Hero Tokens (blue chips used to add Ultimate Effort to your Effort roll). I also found it easy to use 3 colors of those little counters that FFG makes (upper part of picture). Mainly used to count HP, Health, and Hearts. Blue = 1 HP, Green = 5 HP, Red = 10 HP or 1 Heart. I should also mention that the giant d6’s and d4’s (in the guise of a d12) in the picture are what we used to count Spell Burn and Battle Fury (page 80 of the Core 2e book).

Here’s the story board approach we used. The boys love this because I let them build it. First, 3 index cards are drawn from the pile (I’m using the 1st and 2nd releases because that’s plenty of Fantasy genre goodness). They can arrange them in any order they want to set up the Location, Goal, and Obstacle (see pg. 72 Core 2e). We had a door as our Goal, so we had to hide a card under which represented what was behind the door. Even though the Doomvault begins in Norburg, we inserted this into the adventure between Hag Roost and the end of The Long Pattern where the Invincibles are guarding the descent to Mirror Lake.

We found a secret passage (in the ceiling of The Pattern) that led us on a side quest. After laying out the 3 index cards and determining the LG&O, I let the boys roll the Story Cubes to help create links between the 3 cards. In the top one they decided that the first card was a map they found in the ceiling. The map contained a magic locket in the shape of a Hieroglyph. The boys don’t know about the next adventure called Eyes of Sett. I told them that we could create a cool magic property that will come in handy on their next adventure. This could be a fun way to start that adventure. The map showed a way to descend to a different cavern.

We battled some Cave Ropers to get to the door. This door could only be opened at a certain time of the day. I made them accomplish a 4 heart study of the door that needed to be finished before a 4-round counter went down. They managed to open the door at the right time and fought 2 Giant Tentacles to earn everyone a Loot Card! The group went back and we managed to sneak past the Invincibles using Kang’s magic and Moonglum’s sneakiness. To cross Mirror Lake, we did another card draw as above. I won’t recount everything, but at one point Bran was inside of a Cave Roper being eaten and managed to kill it from within with his sword Hot Knife. This method of creating the story on the fly is fun and effective at generating collaborative game play.

I also wanted to mention some good products that I picked up on DriveThruRPG. The Game Master Worksheets are nice sheets to use if you want to create a one-shot all the way up to world building and campaign design. The Moldy Codex has a great Fantasy adventure called The Lost Tomb of the Skeleton King which I’ll likely run after Eyes of Sett. I sure hope Daniel continues production of the Moldy Codex.

Finally, this Goose IPA is legit! Stay thirsty, my friend!

 

I have to say that I really love the intuitiveness and simplicity of ICRPG! These days I rarely get together with a regular group of adult gamers. More often, I’m playing RPGs with my boys who are just beginning to hit the age where I first started playing D&D.

I did, however, start them off playing Savage Worlds. I remember when I first tried to introduce them to 5e via “The Lost Mine of Phandelver”, my son missed one of his first rolls and exclaimed, “I want to spend a Benny!” Ooooo! Sorry, son, there aren’t any Bennies in 5e . . . until now.

I ran my first session of ICRPG using Hankerin’s rules for Hero Tokens and the continuous clockwise rotation, but I sure did miss SW’s Initiative and Benny system. We ran that game with no prep. We just used Hankerin’s art and some Rory’s Story Cubes to just create a cool story.

I decided to try out ICRPG using a D&D module and incorporating some SW-inspired home brew rules.

Benny Rules and Cards for Initiative

To the left of the pencil I have some large, steampunk tokens that I’m using for my Hero Tokens. Each player gets one and can use it for Maximum Effort. Essentially, this token allows a player to roll their d12 with either their weapon or magic damage so there is no reason to have any special d12s at the table – they use their d12s in their dice pool.

The Benny, however, is used to either re-roll a bad d20 roll OR it can be cashed in prior to rolling to gain Advantage on the next roll. Sometimes you roll and then just wish you could roll again and sometimes you want to cash in the Benny before the roll so that you can roll 2d20 (Advantage). Because this adds another d20 to the roll, I use the little red chips to the right of the pencil for my Bennies and have a pile of d20s on hand to toss at players when they choose to cash in a Benny.

I like this system since it allows players to use a Hero Token for Effort and Bennies for Attempts.

I did like Hankerin’s continuous initiative, but I really like the deck of cards method that SW uses. I believe it adds more suspense and drama to initiative, plus, whenever a Joker comes up, everyone gets a Benny and everyone’s attempt for the round is easy! Besides, there are times in the game (quite a bit, actually) when it’s not really anyone’s turn because the group is discussing what their next action or direction should be.

I chose to use the adventure called “Fane of the Sun Swallower” from the D&D Next book entitled “Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle”. This is a great little dungeon with some cool magic items. The first thing I did was go through and make my own little set of Loot cards that match all the magic items.

Just find all the entries for Treasure, and make your own cards. I used half of an index card and drew little pictures. My boys seem to love the tactile nature of getting a card rather than writing down the item on their character sheet.

I made a little Loot bag so I could create more as the need arises.

Besides my recent acquisition of both ICRPG books, I also recently got the Tal’Dorei campaign book and “Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes”.

I noticed in both Ghosts of Dragonspear and Mordenkainen’s the following pictures that all harken back to the original cover of the Player’s Handbook.

So, I created an ICRPG adventure that has the heroes going to retrieve the left eye of the statue. It is called “The Eidolon of Moloch”.

Hope you enjoy it!

This entry fueled by new favorite beer: Moose Drool

My boys and I decided to try our first session of ICRPG using characters based on the archetypes in the core book and just making up the story as we go along. First, let’s check out all the characters we created!

Kaden opted for the Scout and made his character Link from Zelda. Kaden is also using my oldest set of dice there – circa 1980’s.

Silas chose to make Peter Pan, the Mage version. I acquired the fin boots, but we altered them to winged boots and I traded them to Pete so he could fly. I mean, he is Peter Pan, after all.

Ryland chose a Guardian – Kili from the Hobbit, but not the movie depiction. His Kili is red headed and wields a massive battle hammer! Yeah!

I made a Wildling named Pullo. He’s based on the character in the HBO Rome series, but is Celtic rather than Roman – just a big lug. The cool thing about this game is that the loot I acquired has turned him into a healer type. He’s like a huge barbarian with magic rune stones.

Other characters we made, but aren’t using for Session 1 are Rakhir the Red Archer, Bran MacMorn, Kang, Dirk Moonglum, and The Green Knight.

We decided to use Loot Cards and Rory’s Story Cubes along with the actual Index Cards from the ICRPG game.

When I say, we made up the adventure on the fly, I mean we went into the game with absolutely no starting point and just started taking turns going around the table drawing cards and rolling dice and together we created a plot line.

We just arranged things the way we felt the story needed to logically flow and then went back and began going through the sequence of events, but in more detail. My kids absolutely loved this “theater of the mind” approach and they actually contributed quite a bit of cool detail to the story as we played through two battles and several trapped rooms.

We began in the midst of a dungeon where Pullo had just pulled a lever releasing a cloud of poison. We grabbed some magic items from the room revealed and battled some skeletons as we escaped the poison room. having narrowly escaped the horde of skeletons and the poison gas, we were suddenly in a long corridor filling with water. To escape we had to climb a gore and nail-adorned tower out of the level that was flooding. Pullo fell and suffered falling damage but made it out. The crew emerged in the midst of a troll ritual and had to stop the ritual from culminating in the summoning of some foul beast. Fortunately, we didn’t get too beat up and took out the trolls before the timer ran out! We drew loot cards for our victory and stopped just shy of halfway through our story line. That was about a good hour of play that left the kids eager to see what happens next!

This game is the best! I love ICRPG and can’t wait to play again with the boys. The thing I loved the best was the feel of the game. It felt like old-school D&D, but much simpler and streamlined. It’s also similar enough to 5e to feel familiar. I seriously could randomly choose almost any module or adventure and just run through it using the ICRPG with almost no work at all. Definitely my new fave for a universal RPG!

After watching The Hobbit, I convinced my boys to try out the first adventure in Wilderland Adventures from Cubicle 7’s  Adventures in Middle-Earth setting.

To further entice the boys, I decided to use Legos for character representation.

They thought it was pretty cool to design their Lego Mini Figs to match their character sheets.

And here is the opening scene of the campaign.

The adventure was a success and actually held the boys attention for the duration of the adventure. This setting is a great departure from the stereotypical D&D style of High Fantasy play. The changes made to the system further accentuate the feel of Tolkien’s world of Middle-Earth!

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