Boston Festival of Indie Games Wrap-up!

This past weekend was the fifth annual Boston Festival of Indie Games, a convention celebrating independent tabletop and video game developers, in the MIT Johnson Athletic Center in Cambridge, MA. Upon entering the venue, I was greeted with the sight of tons of indie game devs waiting to showcase their most recent projects, and when I actually got the chance to experience what these devs were working on, I enjoyed myself way too much. But with all of these games around trying to impress, some stood out more than others to me, be it for mechanics, aesthetic, control, even the people running the booth. So these are my highlights from the Boston Festival of Indie Games 2016.

 

Now Everyone Get The F%$# Out!

F%$#

When it comes to Now Everyone Get The F%$# Out, by the fantastic Starcap Games, I’m very well-acquainted. I’ve already played the game various times whenever I go to this great thing in Boston called Game Over, and when I saw it was going to be at FIG, it was one of the first booths I went to. Prior to FIG, only Kennedy and I had played NEGTFO, and now a lot of us here at The Lifecast like it. It’s a card game about getting people out of your dorm so you can study for a final, and you do this by forcing things like a live band or hard drugs onto your opponents to make the partiers go into their dorms instead of your own. You have actions to do special things like reuse cards from the discard pile, and instant actions which let you do something (normally counter a card your opponent plays) at any time. It’s an insanely fun game that gets even more fun with more people, and I play it every time I get the chance to. On top of that, the one running the booth, Pat Roughan, is super cool. Absolutely be sure to check this out; it’s honestly one of my favorite tabletop games. Now Everyone Get the F%$# Out! is available on Amazon and, though currently sold out, will have more in stock later! You can follow Starcap Games on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

Mech Deck

Mech Deck

Now, let me tell you about a game that I absolutely cannot wait for: Mech Deck. Now, at this point, it’s no secret that I love me some good old fashioned mechs. Be it eastern, western, Gundam, or MechWarrior. I love mechs. I mean hell, my tag online is MechaManDan. This board game was the coolest one at FIG. It sucks that it wasn’t at the showcase and that I was media. Because if I wasn’t media and it was in the showcase, I would have absolutely voted for it as best game. It focuses around free-for-all mech combat. Normally, you draft for parts to your mech, but in the effort to save time, we were given pre-built models. Your parts are split into the torso, legs, arms, and back. Arms are generally weapons, body supplies energy you need to move and do certain tactics, legs give movement perks, and the back, well, I don’t really know, since my back piece was immediately destroyed by our own Greg by the end of the first turn. Each mech has weapons with varying ranges, and when you get within range, you can attack. Combat is resolved by each side rolling 2 6-sided dice, with the higher number determining whether or not the attack goes through (attacker wins ties). Each individual mech’s piece is not just that one piece, though. Every arm, leg, jetpack, body, etc. is each their own part, and are held together through magnets. Meaning for each part you get for your mech, you get to make a piece that truly represents what you have, as opposed to a vague placeholder. Different terrain gives different effects, like defense bonuses or damage. You’ve got a lot of other things to affect your combat as well, like your pilot and their abilities, your Battle Fervor, or as we started calling it, your “Anime Meter”, which you can spend on special skills, and more. This mecha battle royale is insanely fun, and I personally can’t wait for it to come out. Mech Deck is still in development, but you can follow it on Facebook here and Twitter here to keep track of its progress!

GUNGUNGUN

gungungun

GUNGUNGUN, developed by Mystery Egg Games, is a platforming, arcade-style arena shooter. The premise is quite simple: You’re running around this arena, trying stay alive as long as possible, and you do so by shooting everyone who is trying to shoot you. You control your character with the right stick, aim the gun with the left, and shoot with R2. As you kill things, you can use different guns, but they act more as temporary powerups that total upgrades. The controls are incredibly tight and responsive. The main character has a perfect weight to her, and every single gun is satisfying to shoot, and even more satisfying to hit with. In addition to that, each gun feels different from the others in terms of how the shooting feels. Jumping is solid, movement is fluid, and everything about the game just… Works. The music is awesome, it looks really nice, and it’s HARD. It’s super challenging to get a good score in this game. I remember the longest I lasted in one game was about 2 or 3 minutes, and that’s after playing it a bunch of times to get the feel of the game down. But this difficulty is genuine and fair. Every time I died, I felt like it was my fault and not the game’s. GUNGUNGUN is the kind of game you pick up multiple times in a day to try to beat your high score because it’s so addicting. GUNGUNGUN is currently on Steam Greenlight and has recently passed 50%, so please, if you can spare the time, please help greenlight this game for Steam. You can follow Mystery Egg Games on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

Kung Fu: Shadow Fist

Kung Fu

VR has always interested me, but up until this weekend, I had never really used it. I played Swingstar at PAX East on a Gear VR, and it was awesome, but I never really experienced a fully VR experience until Boston FIG. Kung Fu: Shadow Fist, developed by Digital Precept LLC, is officially my first “full” VR experience. I’ve got to say, it was pretty damn cool. I strapped on that HTC Vive and let me tell you, that entire experience was freaky. I loved it. Anyway, Kung Fu: Shadow Fist is a VR arcade-style beat-em-up. It’s still in early phases of development, but from what it is so far, I’m looking forward to its release (and my inevitable inability to play it because I’m too poor to afford an HTC Vive). You’re put into this environment where you’re put up against these crash test dummies, and then you give ’em the ol’ one-two. Swing your fists while holding those surprisingly comfortable HTC controllers and then you’ll beat ’em up. Raise your arms to block your face to block, and you can press the huge button in the middle of the controller to do a shadow step, which stops time and puts you right next to an enemy. That’s about it for controls. While playing the game, my reach did feel a bit short, and the sense of depth in the area was a little off, which made me miss some punches. Though that may also just be that I’m not used to VR, but it is something to be aware of. While I do think it is in need of some polish, that doesn’t stop it from being a really cool VR experience, and just being a genuinely fun game to play. It’s definitely worth looking into if you have a Vive. Kung Fu: Shadow Fist is currently on Steam Greenlight awaiting approval, so when you have the time, please help greenlight it for Steam. You can follow Digital Precept on Facebook here and on Twitter here.

Finally, I’d like to give some honorable mentions to games that seem awesome that I just didn’t get enough time with to write well about. First up is Tailwind: Prologue, a shoot-em-up game kind of like a bullet hell, but not really. The gameplay takes place while you’re falling down and permanently shooting, and you need to get behind the enemies to destroy them. It really breaks the standard shmup formula to do what it does, and is a super interesting game that I want to play more of. The other game is a board game that has been highly, highly acclaimed called Dragoon. It’s a strategy game in which you play as a dragon trying to take over the land and collect as much gold as possible to win. You’ve got to capture areas, destroy others, and do whatever you can to collect gold and take control. Sadly I was only able to play one turn of the game before the venue started closing, so I wasn’t able to get much of a feel for it, but from what I saw go down, it seems awesome.

I think the best part about the Boston Festival of Indie Games is that there wasn’t a single bad game that I played there. All of the games that I played, even the ones not mentioned in this article, were good, fun games that I would absolutely play again. The experience overall was really fun, and I am absolutely going to be returning next year to see what new content all of these creative developers can think of.

TLC’S D&D 5E Homebrew: The Elements: Ice

I’m a huge fan of RPGs. Like actual Role Playing Games, though now typically referred to as Tabletop RPGs or Pen and Paper RPGs. I haven’t been playing for too long, being introduced with the release of the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons or D&D 5e, but it has thoroughly taken over my life. Being an aspiring game developer, I can’t help but come up with my own ideas for how certain mechanics should work or new ideas on less fleshed out mechanics. Dungeons and Dragons, while having a rule set, greatly encourages this type of behavior and a community of “homebrewing” has formed.

So I’d like to share a few of my ideas:

THE ELEMENTS:

Magic is a very important part of Dungeons and Dragons whether your world is filled with magic or has barely any at all. While I love your standard wizard with mastery of many elements and styles of spells I’ve always enjoyed the fantasy of the spell-caster with limited scope but insane prowess over a single element. And while there does exist the ability to buff a character’s power over a single element some elements get much better treatment than others. We’re lookin’ at you fire.

This is the first in a series where I will be creating additional spells for each element. Except fire. Enjoy and tell me what you think @STGHazard

ICE MAGICKS:

ice_mage_by_adlovett-d4zjf2r
“Ice Mage” by adlovett

Last time we talked about water and how it represents life and love. Well, ice represents the exact opposite. Ice thematically fits together with the winter season representing death within the cycle of life. A cyromancer could represent this idea in a few ways. Perhaps they think death a necessary part of life. They focus on the -cycle- aspect of the whole thing. Feeling that before change can occur old ideas or corruption must first be destroyed. Images of ice melting off a plant invoke this idea.

The Cold can also represent the harshness of nature being the most hazardous thing man could weather. And those who brave its harshness, considered legendary. Even the dragon representing cold is the most simple, barbaric and savage. Perhaps your cyromancer is hardened druid with a high constitution who survived the worst your world has to offer. Maybe they come from a land where their coming-of-age ritual involves surviving a set of particularly hazardous mountain peaks.

Also, ice spells are cool as hell. So lets get started.

“The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt – White Frost” by Ver1sa

Frigid Grip:

2nd Level Evocation:
Classes: Wizard, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Touch
Duration: Instantaneous

A cold frost envelopes your hands as you attempt to grasp a creature within range. Make a melee spell attack against a target, on hit the target takes 2d8 cold damage and they must make a Constitution saving throw or their speed will be halved for one turn. If you are grappling the creature they take an additional 2d8 cold damage.

At Higher Levels: +1d8 damage per spell level

Icy Parry:

2nd Level Conjuration:
Classes: Wizard, Druid, Sorcerer
Casting Time: 1 Reaction
Range: Self
Duration: Instantaneous

You create a thick sheet of ice in front of you in hopes of parrying a melee attack heading towards you. You increase your AC by 3 before you know if the attack hits or not. If the attack misses the attacker takes 3d8 cold damage as the shield explodes sending icy shards toward their direction. If the attack hits you nothing happens.

“Ice Spears” by BenWootten

Logan’s Javelins of Ice

3rd Level Conjuration
Classes: Wizard, Druid, Sorcerer
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30 feet
Duration: Concentration, 1 Minute

You summon 3 javelins made of ice and throw them at a target within range making a separate ranged spell attack for each. On hit the target takes 1d8 piercing damage + 1d4 cold damage. Whilst this spell is active you can spend your bonus action to summon 1 additional spear and throw it.

At Higher Levels: +1 additional spear created initially.

Shiver:

4th Level Conjuration
Classes: Wizard, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 30 ft
Duration: Instantaneous

You remove the heat from a target in range dealing heavy damage and crippling the target. The target must make a constitution saving throw. On a failed save the target takes 6d8 cold damage, and they receive several conditions that lasts for 1 minute:
– Speed is halved
– -2 penalty to AC and Dexterity saving throws
– disadvantage on attack rolls
– take an additional 1d8 cold damage

The target may attempt an additional saving throw at the end of each of their turns. On a successful save the target takes half damage.

Absolute Zero:

9th Level Evocation
Classes: Wizard, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 100 ft
Duration: Instantaneous

You remove all of the heat from a 100 foot sphere within range. Targets within range must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save the targets take 20d8 cold damage, or half as much on a successful save. The terrain within range becomes difficult terrain for 1d4 weeks. And all targets’s speed are halved for one turn. If a creature is dropped to 0 HP they are killed outright as they are frozen completely solid.

“White Dragon” by BenWootten
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The 5th Boston Festival of Indie Games

This weekend we here at The Lifecast went to the 5th Boston Festival of Indie Games–or FIG for short. Not only was this my first FIG, but it was my first event as a member of the media/press, making this event all the more memorable for me. Not that I needed that for this event to be memorable by any means, because there were a myriad of amazing indie games–both tabletop and video–to play. The event was hosted by the MIT Johnson Athletic Center in Cambridge (which neighbors Boston) and hosted thousands of indie game developer teams and players who came to find out about all the new and upcoming indie games: Here are the titles I had the opportunity to play.

 

Cheer Up

cheerup

Upon entering the venue, we were greeted by Cheer Up–a simple but hilarious tabletop game. One person draws a question card–alongside the question, it’ll say what kind of cards the players need to use to answer it. A detail (D card), thing (T card), or action (A card) and in what order they need to go. The player draw 2-3 of the cards they need and use the cards to answer the question. The person who drew the question then draws a rule card to mix things up a bit–things like swapping cards, maybe you have to do something while you answer your question, etc. Hilarity ensues, and it absolutely did when we played a few quick rounds. Although a black and white printable version not featuring the cute face of the dev’s dog Niko is available for download on their site for free, the full, color version that we played isn’t available yet. We talked a bit with the dev who said he’s hoping to put it on Kickstarter soon–hopefully early October if everything goes well–and we definitely had a fun time with it, so we’ll definitely be on the lookout for it. I also need to thank the dev who was giving out free coasters just as I was thinking I needed some in my new apartment just the day before–so I think that was one of the funniest moments of the whole festival for me.

 

Now Everyone Get the F%$# Out!

fuckout

Developed by Star Cap Games, I’m actually no stranger to Now Everyone Get the F%$# Out! (henceforth FOUT.) There’s a monthly gaming event here in Boston called Game Over. It’s mostly a few fighting game tournaments, but there have been set ups for Rockband, Magic: The Gathering,  and other tabletop games in the past as well–including FOUT. Although I haven’t been to every Game Over since they started the event, I do go to as many as I can and I’ve made it a point to always look for where this game is set up. I always have so much fun playing it. Inspired by a wild house party thrown by the dev during her sophomore year of college when her roommate was desperately trying to study for a final she had the next day, FOUT is a game where you and your fellow players are trying to get people out of your dorm party so you can study. Everyone has a number of people in their room, and you’re given cards with party items (EX: bouncy house, pet rock, pizza, etc.) and each of those items has a fun rating. The higher the overall fun rating of your room, the more people there are. The person with the highest fun rating is the party animal, who gains people in their room at the end of each turn. The person with the least is the nerd, and they lose a person at the end of each turn. Of course there are items and event cards that can mix things up, as well. The aim of the game is to get everyone the f%$# out of your room so you can study. According to their facebook page, all the copies available of FOUT were sold at Boston FIG, but there are plans for making more.

 

Fall of the Last City

fallofthelastcity

Marred by a very lengthy explanation of the game that ultimately didn’t do us much good, this was definitely one of the more fun tabletop games we played at FIG. Set in a post-apocalyptic world and developed by Christopher A. Barney, Fall of the Last City was surprisingly the most competitive game I think we played at FIG. Using paths, bases, and soldiers, the aim of the game is for the last city to be taken over. You and your fellow players will try to create paths to get to the city, and take its resources and citizens to join you and help you get soldiers. Where this game shines, however, is in its alliance system. In a way that reminds me very much of the Nonary Game in Virtue’s Last Reward, when you cross path with another player, you have the option to challenge them. When in a challenge, you can ally or fight. If both players ally, then you exchange alliance tokens and you can freely use each others paths, and you both get resources from the city. If one person chooses to fight and one to ally, then the player who chooses to ally will lose a base and a number of soldiers. If both players fight, then the one with the fewest soldiers on hand loses those soldiers as well as a base. Having alliance tokens helps you win at the end of the game, so you’d think that everyone would just want to ally all the time, right? Wrong. Reducing the number of soldiers your enemies have–not to mention taking one of their bases–is a very alluring idea, so it made for lots of strategic and competitive fun during the game. This game has a lot of complex rules that take a bit to get used to, but once we got the hang of it, it was a very enjoyable game.

This game was originally intended to be an Ingres-esque board game on Google Glass, the dev explained to us, but as Google Glass became increasingly less popular, the idea of making it a tabletop game appealed more and more. Wanting it to be something Mad Max-esque and something more physical–something that wouldn’t require a large team of artists, but rather, something the dev could make with his hands–the idea eventually evolved into what it is now. Fall of the Last City isn’t available for purchase currently, but the dev explained to us that he hopes to have it on Kickstarter by the end of the year if everything goes well.

 

Kung Fu Shadow Fist

kung-fu

The first Vive game that any of us had played, Kung Fu Shadow Fist is a VR game being developed by Digital Precept. It’s a simple game where you use the Vive to fight off dozens of training dummies–a VR version of an arcade brawler. There’s no complex gameplay, the devs explained to us, and it’s a game focused on the speed of your hits. You don’t need to be a martial artist to play this, either, because you can slow down the speed of the game if you want. The game is meant to feel like an 80’s action movie where you’re fighting off a lot of bad guys, and rather than fighting one guy with 100 HP, the game wants you fighting 100 guys with 1 HP, they added.

Sure enough, it was exactly that. A really fun VR arcade brawler. My only complaint was that the shadow step mechanic, which is used to rapidly move you from one spot to another, still felt really unfinished since I never felt sure about where it would land me and at what speed. You can play this game without that mechanic however, and aside from that, was really fun. It’s currently in its early alpha stage and on Steam Greenlight.

 

Perception

perception

This was the game I had by far been looking the most forward to. I’ve made it no secret that Bioshock 1 and Infinite are my favorite games of all time, and this game is being produced by a team led by the lead level designer of Bioshock 1 and design director of Bioshock Infinite, Bill Gardner, and his new team, Deep End Games. Set in Gloucester, MA, Perception is a first-person horror game in which you play as a blind woman, Cassie, as she tries to find her way through a haunted house using nothing but her limited sight and echoes. While she’s there, however, she starts hearing things, and it quickly becomes clear to her that she’s not alone. Lots of research was put into the idea of using echoes to find your way through the area, Gardner explained to me, because it’s an idea he had been considering for years but wanted to confirm it was a real thing that people can and have done–and it is. Gardner explained to me how he even met up with a teacher from World Access for the Blind who explained it in full detail to him so he could fully capture it in Perception.

Just as the Bioshock games have a focus in their beautiful, detailed narratives, so does Perception. It’s very clear that (for obvious reasons) this game takes narrative inspiration from the Bioshock games, as there are tapes–audio diaries–you can find and listen to throughout the house and listen to that helps tell the player about the previous owners of the house and piece together what happened. Gardner explained to me that he wants to make sure that the narrative is clear in Perception, as there seemed to be a bit of confusion regarding the ending of Bioshock Infinite–therefore, he’s trying to step up from Infinite and make this narrative as wonderful as he can. Also similar to Bioshock, this game has a very rich, detailed area that it takes place in that’s practically a character itself since you find yourself so invested and interested in this house and what possibly could’ve happened to it.

This game is much like a game of cat and mouse, he explained to me. As mentioned before, Cassie isn’t alone in the home. There’s something else with her–a Presence. And when the Presence appears, you have to hide. As mentioned before, Cassie is blind and finds her way around by echoes. When you tap something–when you make an echo–an otherwise dark room will be clear to you for a few seconds Or, if there’s something in the room that makes sound (EX: a ticking clock) you can see things using that echo. It’s about your relationship with the space, and you’ll familiarize yourself with it, Gardner said. If you make too much noise, the Presence could come out, so there’s a level of risk involved with using the echos which only adds to the constant suspense looming in this game. I can’t wait to play this game once it’s complete, because there aren’t many games–let alone demos–that got me feeling the same sense of dread and nervousness that you feel in Perception. As a horror game, Perception has already very much succeeded.

This game was Kickstarted in May 2015 and is currently available for pre-order on Steam. Gardner indicated that he was hopeful about an early 2017 release date, and hopefully, an eventual physical release date. There was a lot of time and love put into this game that you can see (or hear, rather) in every inch of this game. This was, by a large margin, the finest game I played at Boston FIG this year.

 

Tailwind: Prologue

tailwind

Tailwind: Prologue immediately stands out with its creative concept: It’s a shoot-em-up game being developed by Cipher Prime. Rather than being a typical shoot-em-up that relies on finding a sweet spot to shoot from and moving forward, Tailwind throws it all on its head by reversing everything: It’s a shoot-em-up about a falling ship that focuses on movement and melee attacks. The dev called it “An aerial ballet.” Gameplay was very tight and from the few minutes of this game I played, I could already tell it’s a very unique experience. Visuals were gorgeous, colorful, and minimalistic. As the dev explained, they took aesthetic inspiration from games like No Man’s Sky and Fire Watch. This game was originally a Humble Original exclusive during April. Unless you were lucky enough to get it then, there’s currently no other way to get it currently, however, the dev explained that they’re currently looking into ways to add a multiplayer option and campaign mode.

 

Inariinari

One of the most visual games I played, Inari is an upcoming mobile title devloped by Spectrum Studios about a fox god whose shrine is destroyed. When the shrine is destroyed, so is the light shard–which you must now find pieces of throughout the game. A very solid 2D platformer, the devs explained to me that they wanted to make a mobile game that was aesthetically appealing, had solid gameplay, and a good soundscape. There’s a particular focus on the beautiful soundtrack which was developed by Zhao Shen, who helped make this game all the more immersive. There aren’t that many immersive mobile games out there, the devs explained to me, so they wanted to make a mobile game that had that sense of freedom-as though you’re soaring–and immersion. When I tried the demo, sure enough, it was a very gorgeous game with a wonderful soundtrack, and although the gameplay was very basic, it was also very tight and very solidified. This game shows a lot of potential–especially now that mobile games are starting to become a much bigger market.  The game is currently in a private beta that’s still taking sign-ups, but if everything goes well, should be out in early 2017 or Spring.

 

Maze Racers

mazeracers

This was a pretty interesting game–it felt really finished, and honestly like a game that you’d find on the shelf of the board game section of a major retailer. Developed by FoxMind Games, Maze Racers is a simple game: Using pieces of foam and your board, create a maze for a ball to get from point A to point B that your opponent has to figure out. The board is magnetic and there are magnetic strips at the bottom of the foam pieces, so everything fits really well–additionally, you’re given a little cylinder the same width as the ball so you can make sure it fits. Once one person’s maze is done, your opponent has a minute to finish theirs before you switch. The first person who can solve their opponent’s maze by getting the ball from start to finish and back again is the winner. It was simple, creative, and like I said, already seemed very finished. The game is currently available for purchase on Amazon.

 

Dragoon

dragoon-game

I didn’t get to play a full round of this game because the festival was beginning to close down, but I played it long enough to know that I enjoyed it very much. I’m clearly not the only one who enjoyed it, because it’s won awards at FIG in the past–which immediately got my interest. Developed by Lay Waste Games, Dragoon is a 2-4 player game in which you play as a dragon trying to hoard treasure and take over villages and towns. A simple, but charming concept. Each round of turns has 3 phases: Populate, Action, and Tribute. During populate, new villages and towns up for the taking appear. During action, each player takes their turn–they can move, play cards to cause events, take gold, towns, and villages, etc. And during tribute, you and your fellow players collect the gold from your villages and towns. The first player to 50 gold wins.

There’s currently a special edition of the game up for pre-order now on the site that ships in October–it’s the version I played at FIG, and I’ll vouch: It’s a very well put together game. It seems like a game that would work very well if it were also mass produced and sold at major retailers since it’s very easy to jump into and have a lot of fun with.

 

My Verdict: The Best Games I Played

city

Although some games were better than others, I didn’t play any bad games at Boston FIG. Every game brought me some kind of enjoyment, and I left the festival very thankful for that. I had a great deal of fun at Boston FIG, and I’ll certainly try to come back to it next year as well. There were a great deal of game devs already at the festival, but I’d love to see this event become even bigger–perhaps getting so many devs that it becomes a 3-day event that requires a convention center–very akin to PAX East. I think it would work especially well that way because PAX focuses on triple A titles, and though there are plenty of indie games, yes, wouldn’t it be amazing to see an entire convention center of nothing but indie games? The festival seemed all too short, so if nothing else, I wish it had gone later into the evening than it did.

 

Favorite Video Game: Perception

The most realized, professional game I played at FIG, Perception seems like it will be a fantastic game once it’s complete. It’s creative, clever, suspenseful, and gives the player such an unparalleled sense of fear I haven’t felt from a game in quite a while. If you haven’t already been keeping an eye on it, you should be now.

 

Favorite Tabletop Game: Dragoon

Although I didn’t get to play it for long, it became immediately clear why this game is so beloved. It’s a very creative concept with solid rules and it’s really easy to have fun with. My only nitpick with it is that I wish it could host more than 4 players.

TLC’s D&D 5E Homebrew: The Elements: Water

I am a huge fan of RPGs. Like actual Role Playing Games, though now typically referred to as Tabletop RPGs or Pen and Paper RPGs. I haven’t been playing for too long, being introduced with the release of the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons or D&D 5e, but it has thoroughly taken over my life. Being an aspiring game developer, I can’t help but come up with my own ideas for how certain mechanics should work or new ideas on less fleshed out mechanics. Dungeons and Dragons, while having a rule set, greatly encourages this type of behavior and a community of “homebrewing” has formed.

So I’d like to share a few of my ideas:

THE ELEMENTS:

Magic is a very important part of Dungeons and Dragons whether your world is filled with magic or has barely any at all. While I love your standard wizard with mastery of many elements and styles of spells I’ve always enjoyed the fantasy of the spellcaster with limited scope but insane prowess over a single element. And while there does exist the ability to buff a character’s power over a single element some elements get much better treatment than others. We’re lookin’ at you fire.

This is the first in a series where I will be creating additional spells for each element. Except fire. Enjoy and tell me what you think @STGHazard

Water:

“Water Bender” by Takumy

There are many who would consider Ice and Water to fall under the same category in terms of element. While technically similar, Ice and Water represent entirely different things. Water is the source of all life here on Earth and or your fantasy world. (probably) So a character with an affinity towards water might reflect that element in their character. Perhaps they are a maternal figure to the party, always ready to listen, heal, and protect. Perhaps they come from a desert region and their ability to create and manipulate water is considered a gift from the gods and they’re practically worshiped. You could even flip the tropes on their head and play a killer using water to forcefully drown your victims.

Either way there aren’t enough spells to fully support that fantasy. So lets get started!

I’ll also be creating a few healing spells using water magicks to help those druids who enjoyed playing a support role in earlier editions. I’m choosing to allow clerics and paladin to learn some of them too in case you wanna have a character who’s faith revolves around the concept of water bringing life. Fits well with a Life Domain Cleric or Oath of Ancients Paladin.

Torrent:

1st level conjuration
Classes:
Wizard, Druid
Casting Time:
1 Action
Range: 30ft
Duration: Instantaneous

You emit a large flow of water from your hands slamming into enemies and pushing them back 10 feet and forcing them to make a strength saving throw. If the target fails the save they are pushed back an additional 20 feet. If the targets collides into a structure they take 2d10 bludgeoning damage.
At Higher Levels:+5 feet push back and +1d10 damage per level

Aquatic Blessing:

1st level conjuration
Classes:
 Druid, Cleric, Paladin
Casting Time:
1 Action
Range: 30ft
Duration: Concentration, 1 min

You cover a willing creature in soothing waters, healing their wounds over time. While this effect is on a target they have resistance to fire damage and each time the target starts their turn they heal 1 hit point.
At Higher Levels: +1 HP per turn for additional spell level

“Water Shuriken” by Seiryuuden
Water Whip:

2nd level conjuration
Classes:
Wizard, Druid
Casting Time:
1 Action
Range: 30ft
Duration: Instantaneous

You create a whip made of water that shoves and pulls a creature to unbalance it. A creature that you can see that is within range must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature takes 3d10 bludgeoning damage and you can either knock it prone of pull it up to 25 feet closer to you, On a successful save the creature takes half damage and isn’t pulled or knocked prone.
At Higher Levels: +1d10 damage for each level.
(No credit for this one. the PHB had a perfectly good water spell already in the book.)

Milo’s Aquatic Spear:

3rd level conjuration
Classes:
Wizard, Druid
Casting Time:
1 Action
Range: 30ft
Duration: Instantaneous

You condense some water in front you and shoot it foward with extremely high pressure and velocity. You must make a ranged spell attack, on hit the target takes 5d10 piercing damage. This spell ignores piercing resistances.
At Higher Levels: +1d10 damage per spell additional level.

Undersea Pressure:

4th level transmutation
Classes:
 Druid, Wizard
Casting Time:
1 Action
Range: 30ft
Duration: Concentration, 1 min

You increase the water pressure around a target that is completely submurged in water. The target must make a strength saving throw. On a failed save the target takes 2d10 bludgeoning damage, their swim speed is halved, and they take an additional 1d10 bludgeoning damage at the start of each of their turns. At the end of their turn they can make another attempt at the save. On a successful save the target takes half damage and the spell ends.
At Higher Levels: +1 HP per turn for additional spell level

“Water Elemental” By Ryky
Spring of Life:

5th level conjuration(ritual)
Classes:
 Druid, Cleric, Paladin
Casting Time:
1 Action
Range: 30ft(Self)
Duration: 1 Hour

You cover the area in a 15ft radius centered around you in  a magical oasis of life giving water. At the start of their turn creatures within spring heal for 1d8+ your spellcasting modifier.
At Higher Levels: +1d8 healing per level

One With The Waves:

6th level transmutation
Classes:
 Druid, Wizard
Casting Time:
1 Action
Range: 30ft
Duration: Concentration, 10 min

Your body becomes one with the element of water, you gain the various benefits:
– The water surrounding your body grants you resistance to fire and bludgeoning damage.
– You gain a swimming speed of 60ft and the ability to breath underwater.
– You can cast all spells involving water at 5th level or lower as a bonus action using the water forming all over you body as fuel.

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TLC’s D&D 5e Homebrew: The Elements: Earth and Acid

I am a huge fan of RPGs. Like actual Role Playing Games, though now typically referred to as Tabletop RPGs or Pen and Paper RPGs. I haven’t been playing for too long, being introduced with the release of the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons or D&D 5e, but it has thoroughly taken over my life. Being an aspiring game developer, I can’t help but come up with my own ideas for how certain mechanics should work or new ideas on less fleshed out mechanics. Dungeons and Dragons, while having a rule set, greatly encourages this type of behavior and a community of “homebrewing” has formed.

So I’d like to share a few of my ideas:

THE ELEMENTS: Earth and Acid

Magic is a very important part of Dungeons and Dragons whether your world is filled with magic or has barely any at all. While I love your standard wizard with mastery of many elements and styles of spells I’ve always enjoyed the fantasy of the spellcaster with limited scope but insane prowess over a single element. And while there does exist the ability to buff a character’s power over a single element some elements get much better treatment than others. We’re lookin’ at you fire.

This is the first in a series where I will be creating additional spells for each element. Except fire. Enjoy and tell me what you think @STGHazard

Acid:

“Acid Rain” by Josh Calloway
Caustic Grip:

1st level conjuration
Classes: Wizard, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: Touch
Duration: Instantaneous

A thick acid covers your palms dealing damage to a creature you try to touch. Make a melee spell attack against the target. On hit the target takes 4d4 acid damage and and additional 2d4 at the start of their next turn.

At Higher Levels: +1d4 acid damage per additional spell level to the initial damage.

Acidic Erosion:

3rd level conjuration
Classes:
Wizard, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock
Casting Time:
1 Action
Range: 30ft
Duration: Instantaneous

You throw a thick caustic liquid at a creature sticking to their armour lowering its effectiveness and dealing minor damage. The creature must make a dexterity saving throw or have their AC lowered by 2 and take 1d4 acid damage and an additional 1d4 acid damage at the end of their turn. This effect last for 1 minute or until the target passes the dex save at the end of their turn.
At Higher Levels: -1AC per additional spell level

Acid Rain

5th level Conjuration
Classes:
Wizard, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock
Casting Time:
1 Action
Range: 120ft
Duration: Concentration, 1 Minute
A green cloud appears, centered on a point you can see pours acid in a 20ft radius dealing damage and destroying the environment underneath it. Targets that start their turn within the radius must make a dexterity saving throw. The creatures take 6d4 damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. You can spend an action to move the cloud 20ft.

At Higher Levels: +1d8 every turn per additional spell level

Avatar of Acid:

6th Level Transmutation
Classes: Wizard, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock
Casting Time:
1 Action
Range: Self
Duration: Concentration, 10 minute
Your body becomes a host for the acidic. A thick green liquid drips from all over your form. You gain these various properties:
– You gain immunity to acid damage
– You any time you are struck by a melee attack the attacker takes 3d4 acid damage.
– Your unarmed strikes and touch spells deal an additional 2d4 acid damage.
– If you grapple an opponent they take 2d4 acid damage each turn they start grappled.

When this spell ends you take 2d4 acid from the last bits of acid left over inside you.

Earth:

“Golem used Rock Slide!” by LindseyWArt
Boulder Bash:

2nd level Transmutation
Classes:
Wizard, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock
Casting Time:
1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Duration: Instantaneous
Take an existing or create a boulder from the ground and hurl it at a target. Make a ranged spell attack, if it hits the target takes 2d12 bludgeoning damage and must make a strength saving throw. If the target fails they are knocked prone.

There must be earth around you to use as ammunition.
At Higher Levels: Size of boulder increases. +1d12 damage per spell level

Gaia’s Blessing:

3rd level Transmutation
Classes:
Wizard, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock
Casting Time:
1 Action
Range: Self
Duration: Instantaneous
You focus and the ability to tremor-sense in a range of 60ft.

Fissure:

4th level Transmutation
Classes: Wizard, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock
Casting Time:
1 Action
Range: Self(100-foot line)
Duration: Instantaneous
The ground erupts in a straight line toward the direction you choose. Each creature in the line must make a dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 4d12 bludgeoning damage and is knocked prone on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

This spell has no effect on targets 10 ft or higher off the ground.
At Higher Levels: +1d12 damage per spell level

Condensed Shot:

5th level Transmutation
Classes: Wizard, Druid, Sorcerer, Warlock
Casting Time:
 2 actions
Range: 60 feet
Duration: Concentration, 6 seconds.
You take a large piece of earth and hold it in front of you for your first turn. For your second turn you condense the earth into a small point and throw it at an opponent dealing heavy damage. Make a ranged spell attack, if it hits the target takes 7d12 piercing damage. On a miss, the targets takes 2d12 bludgeoning damage from the nearby debris kicked up from the stone.

If your concentration is broken during the first turn the spells ends with no effect. You need earth nearby to use as ammunition.
At Higher Levels: +1d12 damage per spell level.

Next week, the elements of Ice and Water.

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TLC’s D&D 5e Homebrew: Samurai Class

I am a huge fan of RPGs. Like actual Role Playing Games, though now typically referred to as Tabletop RPGs or Pen and Paper RPGs. I haven’t been playing for too long, being introduced with the release of the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons or D&D 5e, but it has thoroughly taken over my life. Being an aspiring game developer, I can’t help but come up with my own ideas for how certain mechanics should work or new ideas on less fleshed out mechanics. Dungeons and Dragons, while having a rule set, greatly encourages this type of behavior and a community of “homebrewing” has formed.

So I’d like to share a few of my ideas:

D&D SAMURAI:

I grew up watching a lot of Eastern Asian movies and martial arts masterpieces. Ever since then I’ve been obsessed with Samurai and their devotion to their honor and duty. So naturally when I started creating my own characters many of those values made their way into my creation’s personalities. Reading the Dungeon Master’s Guide(DMG) one day I noticed they had variants on the weapons of D&D. Substituting the European influences for Eastern European versions. And that got me thinkin’, “Yo, I could make a Samurai.” My goal is for the Samurai to really emphasize the whole weapon master aspect of the fighter class whilst keeping the theme intact. To make this happen I had to simplify some concepts(specifically using Kendo for all weapons. Eesh..) but I think it came out rather clean. It’s a hybrid between Fighter, and bits of Monk and Rogue.

So.. here we go.

Samurai: (First Draft)

Level:Proficiency: Features

1st +2 Fighting Style, Martial Arts
2nd +2 Stances(First Stances)
3rd +2 Way of the Samurai
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement
5th +3 Extra Attack
6th +3 Transition Strike, Stances(Third Stance)
7th +3 Way of the Samurai Feature
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement
9th +4 Stance Mastery, Stances(Fourth Stance)
10th +4 Way of the Samurai Feature
11th +4 Extra Attack(2)
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement
13th +5 Action Surge,(one use) Stances(Final Stance)
14th +5 Ability Score Improvement
15th +5 Way of the Samurai Feature
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement
17th +6 Stance Mastery(second stance), Action Surge(two uses)
18th +6 Way of the Samurai Feature
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement
20th +6 Extra Attack (3)

Class Features:

Hit Points:

Hit Dice: 1d8 per samurai level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8(or 5) + your Constitution modifier per fighter level after 1st

Proficiencies:

Armor: Light and Medium Armor
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
Tools: none

Saving Throws: Dexterity, Wisdom

Skills: Choose two skills from Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Athletics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, and Survival.

Equipment
  • (a) Breastplate or (b) leather, Daikyu(longbow), and 20 arrows
  • two martial weapons
  • (a) Yari(Spear), or two Kama(sickles)
  • (a) an explorer’s pack or (b) a scholar’s pack
Fighting Style:

Archery:
+2 to attack rolls with ranged weapon

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 to damage rolls with that weapon.

Great Weapon Fighting:
When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2.

Two-Weapon Fighting:
When you engage in two-weapon fighting you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.

Martial Arts:

At 1st level, your practice of martial arts gives you mastery of combat styles that use unarmed strikes and martial weapons.

You gain the following benefits while you are unarmed or wielding a single one handed only weapon.

  • You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes.
  • You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike.
  • When you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or a one handed weapon, you can make one unarmed strike as a bonus action. For example, if you take the Attack action and attack with a quarterstaff, you can also make an unarmed strike as a bonus action, assuming you haven’t already taken a bonus action this turn.
Stances:

As a Samurai you are prepared for any combat situation. As you grow you will master stances to help you in more specific situations.

There are universal pros and cons to stances:

  • While you’re in a stance you move at half speed.
  • You cannot receive the bonuses with ranged weapons
  • You have advantage on opportunity attacks

It takes a bonus action to activate a stance. Leaving a stance is a free action. You start by picking two stances to learn and gain additional stances at levels 6, 9, and 13.

Chudan:
The most basic stance: You stand with you weapon out in front of you ready to react.
+2 AC

Gedan:
Point your weapon towards the ground baiting your opponent into thinking your guard is down.
+1AC + 1 ATK

Jodan:
The aggressive stance. You hold your weapon over your head and strike down hard. Leave yourself open.
+1 ATK, +2 DAM, -1 AC

Hassou:
You hold your weapon straight upwards. Able to react your opponents movements and still strike hard
+1 AC +2 DAM

Waki:
Hide the weapon behind you to confuse you opponent on your weapons length. Harder to react to an aggressive opponent.
+2 ATK, -1 AC

Way of the Samurai:

At 3rd level you are experienced enough to choose your own path in life. You can choose between the Way of the Warrior, and the Way of the Ronin. Your choice grants you feature at 3rd level and again at 7th, 10th, 15th and 18th levels.

Extra Attack:

At 5th level, you can attack twice instead of once when you take the Attack action on your turn. The number of attacks increases to three when you reach 11th level and to four when you reach 20th level.

Transition Strike:

At 6th level, when you are in a Stance you can choose to forgo one of your attacks and use a Transition Strike. Transition Strikes are effectively the same as a normal attack but it switches you from one stance into another. You can do this once per turn and up to a total number of uses equal to your Wisdom Modifier.(minimum of 1)  You regain expended uses upon finishing a short or long rest.

Stance Mastery:

When you reach 9th level, you’ve grown accustomed to one of your stances and now are able to get a bit extra while using it. You are able to pick another stance to master at level 17.

Chudan:
Parry: While in this stance, if another creature damages you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to reduce the damage by 1d6+DEX+WIS.

Gedan:
Riposte: While in this stance, if a creature misses you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to make a melee attack against the creature.

Jodan:
Menacing Attack: When you use Transition Strike into Jodan and hit a large or smaller creature, the creature must make a wisdom saving throw vs or be frightened of you until the end of your next turn.
DC = 8 + Proficiency + Charisma Modifier

Hassou:
Knock Down: When you use Transition Strike into Hassou and hit a large or smaller creature, the creature must make a Strength saving throw vs or be knocked prone.
DC = 8 + Proficiency + Strength Modifier

Waki:
Iaido: While you are in this stance, you can add your Wisdom modifier(minimum of 1) to your attack and damage rolls if you had used the “Ready” action.

Action Surge:

At 13th level, you can push yourself beyond your normal limits for a moment. On your turn, you can take one additional action on top of your regular action and a possible bonus action. This also makes it so you are able to use an additional Transition Attack within the same turn.

Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again. Starting at 17th level, you can use it twice before a rest, but only once on the same turn.

Path of the Samurai:

The ultimate goal of samurai is to live a life full of honor and glory. Though their goals are the same some take different paths.

“Samurai” by GBrush
Way of the Warrior:

Scholarly Warrior:
Starting when you choose this path at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in History and Calligrapher’s Tools. If you already have proficiency you gain double proficiency in these skills.

Second Wind
At 7th level, you can use a bonus action use a bonus action to regain hit points equal to 1d8+ your samurai level.
Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.

Warrior’s Discipline
At 10th level, you get to choose a second option from the Fighting Style class feature.

Dedication:
At 15th level, your willpower and focus increase to higher levels.
– You can’t be surprised while you are conscious
– You can add your wisdom modifier to your Initiative.
– You have advantage vs being frightened.

Indomitable:
At 18th level, you can re-roll a saving throw that you fail. If you do so, you must use the new roll. You can use this feature twice between long rests.

“Ronin” by JasonEngle
Way of the Ronin:

Wayward Wanderer:
Starting when you choose this path at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in Perception and Survival, If you already have proficiency you gain double proficiency in these skills.

Unorthodox Style:
At 7th level, you gain proficiency with improvised weapons and your Martial Arts Die increases to a d6.

Uncanny Dodge
At 10th level, when you’re hit by an attack that you can see, you can use your reaction to have the damage you take.

Free as the Wind:
At 15th level, your free spirit is reflected in your fighting style, you gain additional uses of Transition Strike equal to you wisdom modifier. (minimum of 1)

Evasion:
At 18th level, when you 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.

Cover Image by Lubliner

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TLC’s D&D 5E Homebrew: Druid of the Land Variant

I am a huge fan of RPGs. Like actual Role Playing Games, though now typically referred to as Tabletop RPGs or Pen and Paper RPGs. I haven’t been playing for too long, being introduced with the release of the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons or D&D 5e, but it has thoroughly taken over my life. Being an aspiring game developer, I can’t help but come up with my own ideas for how certain mechanics should work or new ideas on less fleshed out mechanics. Dungeons and Dragons, while having a rule set, greatly encourages this type of behavior and a community of “homebrewing” has formed.

So I’d like to share a few of my ideas:

D&D Druid of the Land Variant:

In recently discussing level 20 features for various classes I noticed something interesting. The Druid features heavily benefits one subclass of druid over the other as one has many upgrades to their Beastshape while the other does not. So I set out to try and come up with one more fitting for the Druid of the Land archetype. I ended up replacing the beast shape entirely for Druid of the Land in the form of a feature known as “Spirit Animal.” WHICH works out perfectly as you choose your subclass the same time your acquire beast shape. Alright lemme know what you think @STGHazard.

"Keres" by Tachit
“Keres” by Tachit

Spirit Animal:

At 2nd, you are imbued with this essence of a beast native to your land. This beast is reflected in apparel in some manner: Your druidic focus could be a totem, you could bear tattoos, wear clothing, or even share physical traits with that of the beast.

These spirits grant your certain perks.

Arctic: White Wolf

Keen Hearing and Smell: You have advantage on Wisdom(Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.
Pack Tactics: You have advantage on attack rolls against a creature if at least one of your allies is withing 5 feet of the creature and isn’t incapacitated.

Coast: Shark

Pack Tactics: You have advantage on attack rolls against a creature if at least one of your allies is withing 5 feet of the creature and isn’t incapacitated.
Natural Swimmer: Your speed is not inhibited by swimming.

Desert: Snake

 Keen Smell: You have advantage on Wisdom(Perception) checks that rely on smell.
Camouflage: You have advantage on stealth checks when not moving.

Forest: Brown Bear

Keen Smell: You have advantage on Wisdom(Perception) checks that rely on smell.
Sturdy: +1 to Constitution

Grassland: Eagle

Keen Sight: You have advantage on Wisdom(Perception) checks that rely on sight.
Minor Slowfall: You can use your reaction when you fall to reduce any falling damage you take by an amount equal to two times your druid level.

Mountain: Ram

Sure Footed: You have advantage on Strength and Dexterity saves made vs effect that would knock you prone.
Charge: If you move at least 20 feet straight toward a target and and land the attack the target takes an extra 2d4 bludgeoning damage. It must succeed on a DC(8+Prof+STR) Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

Swamp: Crocodile

Camouflage: You have advantage on Dexterity(Stealth) checks while not moving.
Hold Breath: You can hold your breath for 30 minutes.

Underdark: Bat

Blindsight 30ft: As an action, you use your superior hearing to sense targets within 30 feet of you. You can use it again after you finish a short rest.
Keen Hearing: You have advantage on Wisdom(Perception) checks that rely on hearing.

“Forest 2” by Edli

Spirit Animal Improvements:

4th:

At 4th level, you always have Animal Messenger prepared, and it doesn’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day. You can cast this spell even if no beasts are around. A spiritual manifestation of your totem beast will appear and complete the task.

8th:

At 8th level, you always have Conjure Woodland Beings prepared, and it doesn’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day. You are allowed to summon beasts of the same species as your spirit animal. The beast you summon bears is considered a fey and bears signs of its spiritual essence.

The creatures summoned have increased max hp equal to your druid level and has a bonus to Attack equal to your wisdom modifier.

“Meditation IV” by Esee

Druidic Seer:

At 18th level, When you are located in an environment similar to the land where you became a druid you can cast Commune with Nature as an action at will.

One With The Land:

At 20th level, when you are located in an environment similar to the land where you became a druid you can cast a 9th level spell without expending a spell slot. Adding an additional 1 hour to the casting time.

You can use this again after finishing a long rest.

Cover Image by DarkKenjie

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TLC’s D&D 5e Homebrew: Dark Souls Weapons

I am a huge fan of RPGs. Like actual Role Playing Games, though now typically referred to as Tabletop RPGs or Pen and Paper RPGs. I haven’t been playing for too long, being introduced with the release of the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons or D&D 5e, but it has thoroughly taken over my life. Being an aspiring game developer, I can’t help but come up with my own ideas for how certain mechanics should work or new ideas on less fleshed out mechanics. Dungeons and Dragons, while having a rule set, greatly encourages this type of behavior and a community of “homebrewing” has formed.

So I’d like to share a few of my ideas:

D&D & Dark Souls Weapons:

If you’ve listened to the podcast for two minutes you’ll probably have heard me mention Dark Souls in some shape or form. Its my favorite game of all time and I have a bit of an obsession with it. Dark Souls is well known for its variety of weapons and magicks so I’d like to try and transcribe some of the weapons to D&D for people looking for a bit of variety.

Weapons Types:

These are all considered Martial Weapons:

parrying_dagger-icon Parrying Dagger: 1d4 Piercing | 1lb. | Finesse, light, thrown (20/60)
– Special: Spend reaction to increase AC by 3. If the attack misses you can make one weapon attack. You must declare you’re going to use the effect before the attack total is announced.

shotel-icon Shotel: 1d6 Slashing | 3lb. | Finesse, light
– Special: When your attack misses you still deal damage equal to your damage modifier.

murakumo-icon Curved Greatsword: 1d10 Slashing | 6lb. | Finesse, heavy, two-handed
caestus-icon Caestus: 1d4 Bludgeoning | 1lb. | Finesse, two-handed
– Special: Add both Strength and Dexterity modifiers to damage dealt.

dragonslayer_greatbow-icon Greatbow: 1d10 Piercing | 10lb. | Ammunition (range 200/800), heavy, two-handed
– Special: Requires 13 Strength to wield. Fires Great arrows.

Twinblade Twin Blade: 1d4/1d8 Slashing/Piercing  | 6lb. | Two-handed, heavy
– Special: You can choose whether to deal slashing or piercing damage with this weapon. When you choose piercing you deal 1d8 damage. When you choose slashing, each time you take the attack action you can attack one additional time using the other blade dealing 1d4 damage each. (with modifiers applying both times.

I would consider these new weapon archetypes meaning feel free to craft more powerful version as special weapons for your team. Speaking of which.

Magic Weapons:

moonlight_greatsword-icon Moonlight Greatsword:
Weapon(Greatsword), Legendary (requires attunement)
+3 ATK. When you hit with this weapon you deal an additional 1d4 force damage and additional force damage equal to your Intelligence modifier.

You can spend a spell slot to make a ranged spell attack 60ft dealing 2d6 force damage with an additional 1d6 damage per level.

ricards_rapier-icon Ricard’s Rapier:
Weapon(Rapier), Legendary (requires attunement)
When attuned to and wielding this weapon, the wielder receives +4 to their Dexterity Stat. This effect ignores statistic caps.

dragon_tooth-iconDragon Tooth:

Weapon(Maul), Legendary (requires attunement)
+3 ATK +3 DAM. This weapon grants you the resistance of an everlasting dragon gaining resistance to fire. Additionally, per short rest you can choose an additional element and gain resistance to that as well.

dragonslayer_spear-iconDragonslayer Spear:
Weapon(Spear), Very Rare(requires attunement)
+2 ATK. When you hit with this weapon you deal an additional 1d4 lightning damage and additional lightning damage equal to your charisma modifier.

You can spend a spell slot to make a ranged spell attack 60ft dealing 2d6 lightning damage with an additional 1d6 damage per level.

crystal_chime-iconCrystal Chime:
Wondrous Item(Holy Symbol), Legendary(requires attunement)
This chime has 3 charges you can speak it’s command word and expend one charge. For the next minute, you add your intelligence modifier to your spellcasting ability, Spell Save DC and Spells attack bonus. This effect ends after you cast a spell.

That’s it for now, lemme know what you think.

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Deanna’s Shadowrun House Rules & GM Tips

Much like our very own Greg, I GM for our little group over here; however I run a tabletop RPG called Shadowrun. A brief backstory is that sometime in the next few years, orks, trolls, and elves are born to human parents. This marks the beginning of the Sixth World: the return of magic to society and a highly advanced technical era. Corporations run pretty much everything and tax the ever-loving crap out of the poor while skirting around taxes themselves and reaping the rewards. Meanwhile, shadowrunners are those who are fed up with the system, so they made their own. Dealing almost exclusively in black-market, back-alley deals, shadowrunners make a living off-the-grid and on the run.

All this and more lies at your fingertips. (via Save/Continue)

The Main Difference

While D&D may focus more on the story of the world the players are in and exploring that to its fullest, Shadowrun is easier to run a one-off campaign with. Most runs start with a fixer, lovingly known as “Mr. Johnson”, giving one or a group of shadowrunners a job. This could be any number of things: information extraction, assassination, smuggling, you name it. There are plenty of pregenerated worlds for you to set up shop in as the GM. Catalyst Labs, the makers of the game, go to some pretty impressive lengths to make sure that the game is immersive despite this, though.

For instance, Shadowrun not only offers general base stats, but skill sets to go on top of that. At character creation, you get a certain amount of points to put into each section. Dice pools (which I’ll cover later) are calculated depending on how many points you have per skill and how many points you have per attribute. Even on top of that, there are pages’ worth of gear for your players to choose from to make their character exactly how it should be. Since we’re playing in the future, also, there’s another pile of cyberware and bioware enhancements that players can buy. You wanna have glowing tattoos that change color with your emotions? How about hair? Well, you can. No magic needed.

Game Mods

I should start off by saying that Shadowrun, in its fifth edition, is incredibly number-heavy. It’s dense. Character creation, with an uninitiated player, takes a solid hour and a half if you’re fine-tuning your gear list. It’s run entirely through d6 rolls instead of the various dice that D&D uses. For each point you have in a specific skill plus the base attribute associated with that skill, you roll one d6. When characters start getting good, dice pools can easily reach 40 or more.

Combat in and of itself is another beast. If you’re familiar with tabletop RPG combat at all, generally you have an initiative roll which determines the order of operations once per combat engagement. Shadowrun has one every combat turn– and if you roll high enough, you can move more than once per turn.

Complications aside, I have a set of modifications that I implement in games that I run. More than once I’ve considered having gear and weapon cards available for players to look at when they’re offered the opportunity to upgrade. I now know that Catalyst offers such as a printable PDF. I feel as though especially with Shadowrun, the more you can prep your players during the campaign, the better they’ll roleplay.

GMs come prepared. AliExpress celebrates. (via /u/pizzatuesdays on Reddit)

Custom Mechanics

To keep gameplay moving with a regular group of six or more, I’ve modified the way things are supposed to be. Just a touch, though. GMing is a fairly new experience so I’m keeping it pretty vanilla for now.

One thing I completely threw out the window in the current campaign is turn-based astral and matrix combat. It’s a free action, it just happens. My attention capacity isn’t enough to have up to three separate initiative counts running. Shadowrun 5e has rules for hackers and mages performing combat in their respective planes, but it’s complicated, slows down physical plane combat, and isn’t really fun unless you have a party of all deckers and technomancers or astral-projecting magicians respectively.

I also run simplified rigger actions. This is a bit of a homebrew solution, as either it’s not discussed in the core rulebook or I keep overlooking it. {Double-check the rules on this.} Since there’s only one rigger in the group, I don’t want to slow them down in combat. Plus, if you’ve spent 100,000 nuyen on a Roomba, you should at least know how to use it.

Another mechanic of combat in Shadowrun is the fact that guns fire different counts of ammunition per pull of the trigger. This creates interesting layers for advanced players like reloading and being careful with what they shoot. Once again, I threw these out the window along with things like carry limits and guns being unconcealed by default. There are a lot of little things like this that I choose to overlook because they can slow down the roleplay.

House Rules

My first house rule is that if anyone has a legitimate concern with something happening in the session, voice it. Things like extensive torture, mutilation, and the like can be stuff that does happen in the underworld. Just because it exists, it doesn’t mean it has to be in the session to move the story along. This is a public topic in the group, but I encourage players to tell me privately if something makes their stomach turn a bit too much. Likewise, I have some limitations with what I do and don’t let players do in accordance with those concerns.

Another, more lighthearted house rule I have is that if you know you’re going to miss a session and want your character to still be active in the background, you write their story. For instance, one player’s character is incredibly mundane, so he went to the dentist during one session. This is mainly to keep people engaged whether they’re there or not. It also usually gets a good laugh.

One other, more whimsical rule I have is something called a point of the D. Players are rewarded for doing cool dumb shit by getting a point. One point is equivalent to one reroll of the appropriate dice pool.

Lastly, it goes without saying, but I run a lot of free sessions since the group is so large and (at least I think) the story I’m trying to tell is important. Not every session has combat because even small battles take close to an hour. There are times where I’ll make decisions for the group to set up key plot points. I’m not sure if this is standard practice, but I don’t do it too often and sometimes a shove in the right direction won’t cut it.

When your crew pulls through that insanely hard battle with one box of damage before down, you end up feeling pretty damn cool. (via Fandible)

Other Encouragements

The only thing that really distracts me when GMing is players who aren’t paying attention to the game. Again, due to the large party it’s alright to check Twitter for a few seconds while you’re not in combat. But don’t watch TV while we’re playing. Or I’ll come for your ass when you least expect it.

I do recommend that everyone be the GM at least once in their own campaigns, just so they’re aware of the work that goes into it. It took me two months to start running one Shadowrun campaign because I was learning its ins and outs and developing the world. Show your GM some respect. Give them the few hours they’re asking for.

Also, help out your GM by reading up on your character a bit. Know what their gear does, know what your cybernetics do, and know what your abilities do. If your character has qualities that affect your rolls, know that, too. Keep up with combat when it happens, and ask questions.
Be engaged in the session. There’s little more that makes me, personally, happier as a GM than when I feel my players are enjoying interacting with the world around them.

Now go out and play some tabletop RPGs. There’s nothing like a bunch of people getting together and telling a story together. That’s really where the magic is.

Cover image is from Shadowrun Universe.

TLC’s D&D 5e Homebrew: Level 20 Bard Features

I am a huge fan of RPGs. Like actual Role Playing Games, though now typically referred to as Tabletop RPGs or Pen and Paper RPGs. I haven’t been playing for too long, being introduced with the release of the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons or D&D 5e, but it has thoroughly taken over my life. Being an aspiring game developer, I can’t help but come up with my own ideas for how certain mechanics should work or new ideas on less fleshed out mechanics. Dungeons and Dragons, while having a rule set, greatly encourages this type of behavior and a community of “homebrewing” has formed.

So I’d like to share a few of my ideas:

Level 20 Bard Features:

In D&D hitting Level 20 is a big deal. It means the campaign you and your friends have been playing for YEARS is finally coming to an end. It means your character has reached their maximum potential. It means your characters are some of the most powerful things in the world. It means you should have some dope ass abilities!

Unfortunately for some classes the ability they’re granted at Level 20 is a bit… lackluster.

Superior Inspiration:

Art by Kit Buss of Critical Roll

“At 20th level, when you roll initiative and have no uses of Bardic Inspiration left, you regain one use.”

In laymen’s terms, every time you start a fight, if you’re out of “Bardic Inspiration” you gain one use of it. Bardic Inspiration is the bard’s special ability that can buff their allies. Increasing their chance to succeed at attacking or completing tasks. The bard can cast it a maximum of 5-6 times between rests. It’s a pretty powerful ability and while bards are not lacking in the power compartment, this being their ability at level 20 is butt. Don’t just take my word for it here are a few of D&D 5e’s level 20 Class features:

Signature Spells:
“When you reach 20th level, you gain mastery over two powerful spells and can cast them with little effort. Choose two 3rd-level wizard spells in your spellbook as your signature spells. You always have these spells prepared, they don’t count against the number of spells you have prepared, and you can cast each of them once at 3rd level without expending a spell slot. When you do so, you can’t do so again until you finish as short of long rest.”

Divine Intervention:
“Beginning at 10th level, you can call on your deity to intervene on your behalf when your need is great.
Imploring your deity’s aid requires you to use your action. Describe the assistance you seek, and roll percentile dice. If you roll a number equal to or lower than your cleric level, your deity intervenes…”

“At 20th level, your call for intervention succeeds automatically, no roll required.”

Like I said, when compared to those Superior Inspiration is lackluster. My idea involves solidifying the Bard’s role as the true Support class.

Mass Inspiration:

At 20th level, your Bardic Inspiration pool is doubled and with each use of the ability you can inspire up to 3 targets at once.

Image from Mad Max: Fury Road

This is no doubt more powerful than Superior Inspiration but balance is less important for TRPG’s than say your average video game as the DM knows how strong his players are and can simply make encounters more dangerous. All that really matters is how powerful your players feel. And being able to buff multiple allies at once and more often is significantly more exciting than recovering your pool slightly.

 

Archetype Based Level 20 Features:

The Paladin’s have a unique feature where their level 20 class feature is based on their class archetype. (sub-class) These are far and beyond my favorite as it makes it so you could have two paladins in your party and yet they would feel completely different from one another. So I’ve always liked to think about what archetype based level 20 class features I would make for each class. The two archetypes for bard are: College of Lore, a bard with a focus on learning and gathering information. And College of Valor, a bard with a focus on combat and celebrating heroes.

For College of Lore I would just insert Mass Inspiration as it has additional synergies with their Cutting Words and Peerless Skill features.

College of Valor: Superior Combat Inspiration
“Tactical Bard” by NIW

At your 20th Level your Combat Inspiration is improved:
– When a target uses your Inspiration on an attack roll the Inspiration Die is also added to damage dealt.
– When a target takes damage it can spend its Inspiration Die to reduce its damage by that much.
– When you kill a target you get a free Inspiration Die and a free action to cast it. Once per turn.

Wrap Up:

Remember, your job as DM is to make sure every player is engaged. Some enjoy the story telling aspects and some the gameplay. Either way I believe these variants give players more to work with.

If you ever run any games with a max level bard try it out for me and see how it feels. Or if you’re the player feel free to show this article to your GM to see how they feel about it. Either way shoot me a msg @STGHazard and let me know how it went.

Cover Image: “Thinkin Bout Kisses” by DaveRapoza

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