Tag Archives: Fifth Edition

Eberron and The Blight

So I picked up Eberron: Rising from the Last War at the local game store this week. I kind of like Eberron. It was that 3rd Edition setting that color outside the lines without being totally weird. And IHMO added some neat stuff. It was fun. So yes. I grabbed up this Fifth Edition book to add to the collection and as always for just maybe some inspiration. So what if you like the stuff in Eberron but a different setting?

I started reading the book and since The Blight was on my mind any way. I started to wander that direction. I had posted previously that the gaming group is still being a little bit wishy washy on what system. So maybe it’ll be Swords & Wizardry or maybe Fifth Edition. We shall see in a couple weeks which is the next time we’ll get together. But on with this post.

So how do these settings compare? The Blight is a gritty and grim city setting with horror and just a few steampunkish and magic tech elements. While Eberron sits more in the some steampunk elements, a little film noir, and pulpish. But that’s just overall feel of these two settings. Let me go through this in a little more detail.
On the player facing side, Eberron gave us some a new races and a new class. So let’s look at these.
Warforged: OK. Living constructs, sort golem like. Well, that fits.
Shifters: A bit feral and just hinting at lycanthropy. Well that fits with the horror theme. And well Wererats are pretty common in The Blight.
Changelings: Just read through the setting. There are shapeshifters all over the place. Why not a few of these.
Kalashtar: Now this is where it gets interesting and my tendency to tweak things. They never really interested me but in The Blight, you’ve got the Between. A strange and alien dimension. Sooo. Instead of dreams or as an addition to dreams. The Kalashtar would have a special connection with the Between. Instead of normal “dream” they end up touching the Between. Or maybe they are from there. Hmmm.
Then you’ve Artificers. Yeah. It’s a steampunkish, mad scientist type class. So this too would fit right in.
The Dragonmarks. Well, heck that’s just another minor magical trick.
On the player facing side pretty much everything fits into place. Then on to the monsters. First, there’s the Quori from a plane of dreams. For my take on the Blight, I want the Between to be even more alien than it’s depicted in the book. The Quori are perfect candidates for this. Then there’s the overlords. Well, Castorhage could always deal with a few more gods and liches. Then there’s the Living Spells and a few more of the Ebrron beasties that fit right in.
So it really doesn’t matter if I run Swords & Wizardry or 5E. I can convert back and forth pretty easily with this. And for the lesson I want to share here. It’s OK to cross pollinate settings. See? So if you’re 5E only type, then hey you take the Blight and really turn things on their heads. If you’re an old-schooler. Hey, there’s still some inspiration that you can get from the “new” stuff.

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Swords & Wizardry and 5E??

Yes, please. Swords & Wizardry is my favorite retro-clone and some have even called the old-school Rosetta Stone since it’s so easy to bring things from other games. Guess what? It cross pollinates with 5E too. But the why listen to me? Let’s get the insider track on this.

But wait there’s more.

For The Blight, I’ll probably be mixing the rules a lot. More than I originally planned after some discussion after the last game. And you know I just might do more it in the future. It may even turn into some crazy project here on the blog. Let’s face it Swords & Wizardry is a streamlined system with its single Saving Throw and Ascending AC, it gives you a solid foundation to work in stuff from other systems whether it’s extra races, skills, feats, classes or whatever. Bonus, you still have all that old school material to use. There’s no way you could just add a bunch of that stuff without a little tweaking but it won’t totally break the game or cause any weird cascading effect. So maybe this is a way to show that those old-school games still are good games. So yeah. It’s an idea that bouncing around inside my head.
And if you’re still with me. Go ahead and subscribe to Frog God’s Youtube Channel. If they hit 1,000 subscribers there’s going to be a giveaway. And doesn’t want a chance at some gaming swag. (And just to be clear. I don’t have any financial interest in this. I just like their stuff.)
So there you have it. A thought. A plug. And now one more plug.

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Wererats for Swords & Wizardry and 5E

Well, I’m still prepping to run The Blight and we were having a little table talk before the Labyrinth Lord game started last week. One player mentioned that he does miss 5E abit. So next time, we’ll have to nail things down. I’m expecting to start this after the holidays so with the speed I write stuff, Ill need the time. Another was excited that the setting isn’t so normal and asked if he could play something weird. So I asked, “Like what?” He replied, “I don’t maybe like some sort of were creature.” Hey, wererats are pretty key to the setting so I thought, “Why the hell not?” So here you go.

Swords & Wizardry Version
See in the Dark
+1 Save Vs Disease
Half damage from non-magical or non-silvered weapons. But double damage from silver weapons.
Bite (1d3) (Save Vs Disease to avoid Lycanthropy)
Cast Animal Summoning I (Rats only) Once per day
+1 Stealth (That’s with YARC Skill System).
Shapechange (Human/humanoid rat)
Suggested Classes: Fighter, Thief, or Fighter/Thief

Fifth Edition Version
Ability Score Increases: +2 DEX, +1 CON
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 Feet
Darkvision: 60 Ft
Damage Resistance: Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing From Nonmagical Attacks Not Made With Silvered Weapons.
Vulnerabilities: Damage from Silver Weapons
Shapechanger. The wererat can use its action to polymorph into a rat-humanoid hybrid or into a giant rat, or back into its true form, which is humanoid. Its statistics, other than its size, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies. Bite in Rat or Hybrid form does 1d4 damage. (f the target is a humanoid, it must succeed on a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or be cursed with wererat lycanthropy)
Keen Smell. The wererat has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.

I based these, of course, on the monster stat blocks with some tweaking to make them a little more balanced. Of course, I may change this up later on, but this if the first version of this idea. And I’ll keep you all update on what the players decided. Swords & Wizardry or 5E. We shall see.

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Making 5E More Dangerous

When I was doing my initial brainstorming about running The Blight, I did a lot of thinking about how to make 5E more deadly and grimmer. But my players decided that they wanted to do Swords & Wizardry so I’m cool with that. But I still had these ideas. so I figured what the heck share them.
I wanted to do something that fit within the existing rules and didn’t screw around too much with everything else. For lack of better terms, I came up with two ideas. Let’s call them strategic and tactical.
For strategic, I’m thinking long term effects of game play over the campaign and this one is pretty simple. Slow down character progression. Keep the characters at lower levels longer. I’m thinking about twice as long. This keeps those low-level threats still threats even longer. And the higher level ones be even more dangerous. Simple.
Then for the tactical side. This for something that actually effects the characters as they are adventuring. I didn’t want to mess with long and short rests. Heck. Let those stay the way they are. There’s a lot of class abilities that are tied to those and I didn’t want to mess with all that. I didn’t want to nerf the healing abilities because there are so damned many. So I started thinking and flipping through the Players Handbook for ideas. Then it struck me. Exhaustion. And here’s what I come up with.
For each failed Death Save, the character takes one level of Exhaustion.
Sure a character can get all their HP back but they ain’t going to feeling that great. This becomes really dangerous when you break it down and the following isn’t stuff I’m making up. It’s right there in the PHB. At 6 levels of Exhaustion, the character dies. For levels 1 to 5, the character has more and more penalties as their combat capabilities are reduced. A Long Rest recovers one level of Exhaustion. A Cleric can “heal” one level of Exhaustion with Greater Restoration (A fifth level spell).
And that’s it.

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More Thoughts on The Blight

Yes, I know I didn’t get any blog posts done last week and I was hardly around on social media. Things were busy but I wasn’t idle on the gaming front. I almost have Back Alleys done for Dark Streets and Darker Secrets, I did some more brainstorming on YARC, and the whole reason for this post more mulling on The Blight.
Right now, I mostly messing around with the gods and Gods of Castorhage and thinking of how to make the various game systems. So I figured what the heck, throw out to masses and see what happens. Of all the games I have at my disposal I’ve narrowed it down to these (in no particular order).
1. Swords & Wizardry: It’s easy to do NPC’s. It’s flexible. It’s readily available in PDF form and the players can buy the book if they want. And there’s already a ready made version of it by Frog God Games.
2. Fifth Edition: It’s the elephant in the room. The players are already familiar with it and they already have their own books. It’d be a little tougher to run improved NPC’s off the cuff. The PC’s do have a lot more umph than in the other systems so make it a little grittier will take some house ruling.
3. Dungeon Crawl Classics Lankhmar: Why? Well, DCC is cool and I should have my physical copies from the Kickstarter soon. The players are already familiar with it. The Blight is a city-based campaign so in my mind’s eye, it would make a good fit using the DCC: Lankhmar rules. Yes, I know no clerics and I would have house rule the partrons. So more prep type work on the DM’s part. I’m also aware of how crazy the magic can get. The players are already familiar with DCC and some have the books already.
4. Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Well, you can go weird and gritty without thinking about LOTFP. The players should be able to pick it up quickly. The art-free version is still available. It won’t take much to convert the Swords & Wizardry version over to LOTFP.
5. Something else? Oh. There’s plenty of other games out there. But the above are really my main choices.
So here’s a poll. Leave a comment. Let me know what you think.

The Blight by Frog God Games

Last month Frog God Games ran a contest for fan reviews. I did a couple and did garner some Frog Bucks to spend. I’m still shopping. The Blight was on my list of things review and I just didn’t have the time fully delve into it. But as luck would have it, I just did have some time and dove right in and wish I had done so earlier. Now, if you’ve follow me around social media I’ve mentioned the idea of mixing The Midderlands, Tegel Manor (which I backed), and The Blight. That idea still stands. One more disclosure for this rant. This is based on the 5E version of The Blight and I’ll only be talking about the Campaign Guide. I had grabbed it and a bunch of other really cool stuff from a 5E Humble Bundle.

Let’s start of with a general overview. So what is The Blight. It’s grim/dark, horror, gritty urban campaign location, namely the City-State of Castorhage. It’s mean and cruel place and it’s big. The campaign guide places the population at about 3.8 million. That’s roughly the size of Los Angeles. Not only is the city big so is the book. It clocks in at 890 pages or so. No easy feat reading this thing in PDF form. Castorhage is physically and morally corrupt. Countless alchemical experiments and a lot of sewage have polluted the the main river. The royal family is decadent and insane. To add to this already warped setting, there’s the Between. A nightmarish dimension that can sometimes be accessed through mirrors or other reflective surfaces. And to keep with horror theme sometimes the Between just pops up in those places.
Let’s do a little run down of the book itself. Like I said, it’s huge. It starts off with the usual overview. This can be most easily summed up with the Seven Prayers of Castorhage and the Seven Unspoken Prayers of Castorhage. Basically, the rules and philosophy of the city. One for the low born and one for the powerful. For Example: Only the wise know how to use the dangerous curse of magic, and only a fool would tamper with it./M agic is power, and power in the wrong hands is folly. Only those of high caste know how to use it wisely; the lowborn who dabble with it must be taught a lesson and cleansed as an example to others.
Next up are people. Some of the more important NPC’s as well as options for player characters plus quirks, and new equipment. Then we have a GM’s section with advice and suggestions on how to run the Blight. And there’s even more material about places and people. One of the interesting things about Castorhage is that there gods and Gods. Let me explain. The gods aren’t really gods. They walk around and inhabit the city. They don’t have real religions but they do have cults. They way the are presented in the book I’d call them urban legends to place blame or find cause for any mysterious or horrible thing that might happen. For the 5E version, they really missed the boat on this one. I feel that the gods would make great warlock patrons but alas nothing was written up so GM’s would be on their own.
Then there’s a whole section on the Between. Like I mentioned a nightmare dimension that personally reminds me a bit of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands. But that just maybe me. I don’t want to say too much on this part since I feel it’s a good venue for GM’s to throw in some mystery and exploration in an otherwise urban based campaign. But it is detailed as basically it’s own world. Oh yeah and the Between can corrupt characters and so on. Nasty stuff.
Then come a huge bestiary. I’m seeing why this book is so long. All sorts of new and interesting monsters as well as some of the major NPC’s. Oddly enough, enterprising GM’s will find a few other player character options like the Undying. You’re only sort of undead.
Then there’s a very small section of inspirational random tables and then the books goes into another more detail breakdown of each of the districts of the city. There’s a ton of information and detail about these districts. It’s not as crazy as City-State of the Invincible Overlord but still there’s a lot. Almost too much for your average GM to digest and remember.
Finally, there’s an adventure path, The Levee. I don’t want to put any spoilers but looks pretty good and if you want a sneak peak of what it’s like then stop by and listen to Swords & Misery, an actual play podcast.
So what do I think? Overall, pretty god but it doesn’t mean there a few problems. First there’s a few editing errors that make the 5E conversion seem almost like an after thought. There’s a few places where the explanation of crunchy is worded more akin to the Pathfinder rules rather than 5E. Like I said before, there’s lots of information and I fell it wasn’t always presented in the most efficient fashion leading to page flipping and head scratching till find another bit of information to tie it all together. Also, some of the NPC’s have powers or abilities that are mentioned in the fluff text but not even mentioned in the stat blocks. For example, one powerful NPC “borrows” the skin of an underling when needed. Yeah. Nasty stuff. And I suppose I should mention that if you aren’t ready for a decadent, horror-filled setting then just walk away. Also, going through the setting if you are the type to doesn’t like the Cantina Scene type set up then you may just house rule the extra races and racial options out. However, I would say this, it all seems to fit without seeming forced or “let’s just make sure that any player can play whatever they want”. There may be prices and/or consequences based on the character’s race or class.
Do I still want to run it. Hell yeah. But I’ve got some thoughts on that.
5E: While the version I have of the Blight is for 5E. I just don’t feel the game as written doesn’t play well as for a horror/grim dark setting. There would have to be some house rules. Sure all the races are ready made but there’s nothing about Tieflings which fit well and would have their unique problems in the city IMHO.
Swords & Wizardry/White Box/Old School Essentials/OSR: This could be done with little or no conversion and only some minor tweaking. I know there’s a Swords & Wizardry version available but it’s so easy to convert into Swords & Wizardry. There’d me minimal house rules plus there’s is much good old school stuff out there it would be easy to find other tools that would fit. Now, I can’t mention the old school games without thinking about Lamentations of the Flame Princess. The vibe fits almost perfectly but there’d still be some tweaking. The real gem in LOTFP is the spell list which could be easily substituted for the original or vanilla lists.
Dungeon Crawl Classics: Lankhmar This already give a set up for running urban adventures with a more Sword and Sorcery flair. Conversion would be a little more difficult and then there’s the fact the magic can get really swingy. So that would be a consideration.
Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells: It’s no secret that I love this game. It’s rules light and very easy to convert into. It would work great. If you want to add non-human races then that might take a little work.
Zweihander: I admit that I haven’t played this yet but I do have the PDF. And it would work danged perfectly. It’s fits great with the tone and atmosphere of the setting. There are a couple of problems. First, it would be a pain in the butt to convert all the monsters and NPC’s. I’d also be faced with teaching the group a whole new game system.
I’ve rambled long enough on this. I haven’t brought it up the gaming group yet so we’ll see what they say. We’ll see what happens.

Fleeting Luck: Not Just For DCC

Lankhmar for Dungeon Crawl Classics will be hitting the shelves some time soonish. The PDF’s have gone out to Kickstarter backers (Yep, I’m one) and the physical copies should be in my grubby hands in a couple months or so. One of the new mechanics added was Fleeting Luck which has been around a while for public consumption and comment for a while. I’ve used in Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics and the players loved it. Then I got to thinking why not use it other games.
So here’s a real brief outline how Fleeting Luck works. The PC’s each get a Fleeting Luck Point at the beginning of the session. If player rolls a Natural 20 or does something cool then they get another point. If any of the players roll a Natural 1 then ALL of the players lose all of their Fleeting Luck.
Since other games don’t have a Luck Score like DCC, I looked around and thought what could I use? Oh yeah. Hello, Fifth Edition. Inspiration Points. So if you don’t Inspiration Points let the player roll two d20’s and take the better for checks. And there you go. Use Inspiration Points with the Fleeting Luck mechanic.
There is one change that I would make for Fifth Edition, I wouldn’t let characters use Fleeting Luck to heal. There’s plenty (almost too much) healing in 5E.