Saturday, December 23, 2017

Subrace: Yule Elf [ROUGH DRAFT]


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Just in time for Christmas!

It's been a long time since I've done a stand-alone subrace. I had a plan to release a whole slew of elves for every environment back in the day, but got distracted halfway through and only ended up releasing two elf subraces.

This subrace is less of a serious, intended-to-feel-canon addition to what I've created, and more of a fun, seasonal offering. Who wouldn't love to play a holiday team of yule elves, banding together to rescue Santa, or to defeat their ancestral foe the Krampus once and for all?

FEATURES:

  • Be small, but still an elf, owing to a lineage that involves crafty gnomish blood.
  • Know all the tools, because you never know what you'll need to make before Christmas!
  • Produce things on the fly, every short rest, using slightly tweaked Downtime math.
  • Know who's been naughty, and who's been nice! Maybe even keep a list (checking twice is optional).
CONCERNS:
  • Yuletide Crafting might be semi-abusible, but it doesn't seem that bad at first glance.
  • This is the only elf subrace that gets a choice of ASI, but again I don't think that breaks balance too badly. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • When doing research for the lore I was writing, I found out that the Krampus actually harkens back to the pre-Christian Horned God common in pagan winter celebrations. That same Horned God is also considered a central figure in Wild Hunt mythology, so that seemed like a great starting-off point to write some lore!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Otherworldly Patron: The Monstrosity [ROUGH DRAFT]


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Well, that took a surprising amount of time!

First, sorry for the small hiatus. December took me by storm, and managed to upset my carefully-laid plans. However! We're back on track, and starting off all that is the Monstrosity, a patron I've made as a Christmas gift for a friend of mine, with whom I share a long and enduring love of films with giant rubbery Japanese monsters smashing models and cardboard cities.

In the world(s) of D&D, a monstrosity is something kaiju-like. Think of the tarrasque, neothelids, purple worms, and similar, monsters both immense and apocalyptic, terrifying portents of nature's wrath.

A pact is struck with these creatures not typically with their consent. Similar to a Great Old One pact, the monster may not even have knowledge that the pact has been struck, but rather the warlock draws on the beast's power through consuming its magically-imbued blood, offspring, or essence.

What destructive tricks does this kaiju-caster have? That leads us to:

FEATURES:

  • Unleash your Destructive Potential to damage anything, anywhere!
  • Frighten your enemies with a Monstrous Roar, as a bonus action OR a reaction.
  • Transform into a nightmarish Monstrosity Spawn, tear up the town, and probably never get invited back. 
  • Customize your monster form and give it the terrifying visage that suits your patron.
CONCERNS:
  • Balance is questionable with Unstoppable Rage and Spawn of the Monstrosity. 
  • I feel like there may overall be a better way of implementing Spawn of the Monstrosity. 
  • Word of Ruin involves casting a buffed 6th-level spell once per long rest, which isn't something other invocations do. I don't think it's imbalanced, per se, but it's definitely a concern. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • If you hit a bump in the road and have to slow down, that's fine, just keep going! Homebrew rests for no one. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Otherworldly Patron: The Fathom Horror [Third Draft]


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After I released both the Fathom Horror and the latest draft of the Ancient Dragon, I had a gradual realization that this material was the least future-proofed it could be. As can be seen in earlier drafts of both patrons, invocations found in Unearthed Arcana had changed the face of how certain warlocks functioned and their power level, and I attempted to accommodate those changes in the material I produced.

Ultimately, I decided just not to touch either option until Xanathar's Guide to Everything came out and included the finalized version of those UA options. What followed was a grueling waiting game on my part, both for Xanathar's, and to see how its invocation options were inevitably received.

Now that some of the hubbub around the new book has died down, I finally feel comfortable in continuing the revision cycle on these warlock options. The Fathom Horror is first up, because I love it so dang much, but expect the Ancient Dragon to be close behind!

All that in mind, let's see what all this time waiting led me to change:

CHANGELOG:

  • Jellify has been tweaked slightly, to keep the ooze it creates from being able to eat metal.
  • Removed Anchor of Drowned Sailors and Aquatic Adaptation invocations, as both conflicted with new material present in Xanathar's.
  • Anchor of Drowned Sailors is now a sidebar rule, synergizing with Improved Pact Weapon found in Xanathar's. 
  • Young Sea Drake has been rebalanced, tweaking its HP, making its Torrent Breath an at-will ability, and allowing it to share its Marine Camouflage with whoever it is riding. 
  • All invocations have been made patron-agnostic, meaning that any warlock with the right features can now use these invocations!
CONCERNS:
  • Still unsure of how the young sea drake feels. Monster math has always been a weakpoint of mine.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • When a class' whole game is about to change, maybe wait before releasing content for it. That's why I still haven't released a single ranger option. =/

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Roguish Archetype: The Archaeologist [Third Draft]



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Sometimes, with the content I produce, things get lost in the shuffle. Good, flavorful options fall behind and don't get updated properly, and don't quite get to that finished-n'-polished stage I like to have my whole library at.

The Archaeologist rogue was definitely one of those options. As strong with flavor as it was, it never quite got to where I was happy with it. I kept coming at it, revising it, and giving up, because I just couldn't seem to make it work. 

So when a Walrock-level Patreon backer (thanks @DrMoradin!) asked me to revise this option, I knew what I had to do:

I gutted 90% of this option, and started over fresh!

I've learned a lot of things about making class options function well recently, and I've put everything I've learned to work here on this project. As it stands now, the Archaeologist is fully functional, well-flavored, and likely will be a treat to play. 

CHANGELOG:

  • Field Training has been modified slightly, giving a slower climbing speed that scales with existing climbing speeds.
  • Intelligent Combat is now Explorer's Tricks, using a number of points equal to your INT mod + 1, that confer mostly non-combat benefits as rewards for being a researcher!
  • The Ruin Researcher feature, a similarly non-combat feature, which grants a level of archaeology-type knowledge whenever you want to spend your short rest studying a ruin that you find yourself in. 
  • Get out of a bad spot with Fortune's Favor, and spend those handy explorer's points to dodge some nasty nat 1's!
  • Paragon of Adventure has been fully reworked, and how provides all the explorer's points you could ever need, every short rest.
CONCERNS:
  • Lots of changes means at least a few bugs. Always.
  • Explorer's Tricks are powerful, but their usage is few and far between. I wonder how they'd feel in actual play. 
  • Fortune's Favor might not be powerful enough? Or could it be too powerful, with a full INT mod and Paragon of Adventure?
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • As much as it hurts, if it's not working, sometimes you just have to throw out what you've made and start over.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Stronghold Expansion: Patreon Rooms [ROUGH DRAFT]



November's Patreon-backer reward is here!

This month, I made a collection of five new rooms for Strongholds, all which have been requested multiple times by fans and followers. And, not to pat myself on the back too hard, but these are some of my favorite rooms so far, having really cool themes and being applicable to a wide variety of strongholds. So far, we have:

FEATURES:

  • The Maze: A great way to get your enemies lost! Feeding to a minotaur or other monster is optional.
  • The Meditation Chamber: Cool off, relax, and get some extra ki while you're at it. 
  • The Portal Conflux: Ever wanted a series of wormholes to transport you wherever you please? Well, now it's yours. 
  • The Safe Room: The world outside is a scary place, but you don't have to be there! Find perfect safety in a hidden room made of solid mithril that contains all the amenities of life.
  • The Topiary Garden: Human servants got you down? Grow your own! And then, as an added bonus, glue them together Voltron-style to make a giant attack tree!
CONCERNS:

  • Maze is pretty good, but it's also very situational. Were it not for that last point, it'd definitely be worth 2 room points. 
  • The Safe Room and Topiary Garden may have hidden side effects living in their verbage. Probably not, but editing is appreciated!
WHAT I LEARNED:

  • I've got a lot more strongholds content left in me! I've got a great idea for a much larger expansion, but that'll come later on. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Stronghold Expansion: Bastions of Eldritch Power [ROUGH DRAFT]



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Surprising no one: people like Strongholds! In fact, people like it enough that they've used Patreon to commission even more Strongholds content from me.

So if it's what the people want, well, I just gotta make more of it. Thanks to IceAssassin77, a Walrock-level backer, for requesting this work!

We started off thinking: What if warlocks had strongholds that centered around their themes? Not necessarily "evil," but certainly cult-ish and otherworldly, a place where forgotten powers could contact the Prime Material and bleed over into more mundane planes of existence. And so, we added two new structures, some associated rooms, new hire-able minions, and some related items!

What specifically got added? Well:

FEATURES:

  • New Structures: The towering Ziggurat and the elusive Coven, enabling you to work your magics in as secretive or obvious a manner as you see fit.
  • New Rooms: Invocation Chamber and Illusory Shroud, which call out to the eldritch powers for aid, or hide your structure entirely from prying eyes. 
  • New Hirelings: Cultists and Cult Fanatics, just in case you're a charismatic individual looking to make a compound in the middle of the hinterlands.
  • New Optional Rule: Rituals and Sacrifices, enabling you to use cultists, spellcaster hirelings, and sacrifices to empower your ritual spells. 
  • New Items: Mordenkainen's Mystical Model and the Rings of Rooms, giving your structures a pair of helpful, magical dodads. 
CONCERNS:
  • The Invocation Chamber is pretty good, for what it is. I'm wondering if it should be made into a 2 room point Room (with the Ziggurat adjusted accordingly). 
  • The Cultists and Rituals optional rule is very all-encompassing, while attempting to be flexible. I'm sure there's something this rule might be able to break that I haven't thought of yet. 
  • The wording on the new items has to be pretty elaborate, because neither of the items does just one simple thing. I'm wondering if there's a way to streamline that. 
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • Smaller, piecemeal Strongholds expansions are a lot of fun to make! I should see if I can't make another of these sometime soon. ;)

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Martial Archetype: Dragoon [Fourth Draft]



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November looks like it'll be a month for mostly revisions, with a few new promising pieces of new content coming out. Xanathar's Guide to Everything will be out (very) soon, and I'm going to wait a little bit before releasing anything that might conflict with its new rules.

However! I've got a good backlog of projects like the dragoon that are just begging for revision. After releasing it last month, I felt so incredibly close to having the dragoon complete, fully formed and ready to use, so I just had to revise it again as soon as I could. With the witch out of the way (for the moment), that time is now!

I'm really happy where this one has ended up, aside from the fact that I'm barely able to fit its rules in two pages. Still, minor complaints compared to how this has shaped up.

Special thanks to Vileo Sufora and Marc Darville for giving me some very valuable balance insight on the last draft, couldn't have done this without you guys!

CHANGELOG:

  • "Uses of Dragonslaying" is now "dragonslaying points," because, while I took some convincing, that's just much more clear in the end.
  • Aspirant Step now requires a bonus action, and Avoidance requires a reaction, to make them eat in important ways at the action economy.
  • Avoidance now works on certain CON saving throws, allowing you to use it on all forms of dragon breath.
  • Syntax changes which, while not exciting, are very important all the same!
CONCERNS:
  • A lot of tiny fiddly bits where changed this draft. I'm hoping I didn't accidentally break something.
WHAT I LEARNED:
  • All in all, fighter options are easier to balance than I originally thought. It's easy to despair at something when you don't know its balance math, but when you know where to look and what to look for, it ends up becoming pretty simple.