Sunday, December 20, 2015

Race: Awakened Undead [Third Draft]

Constantly, it seems this project is being left to die, before it suddenly rises from its grave with newer revisions!

Very little changed in this version, which means that this is (likely) the final draft. Always good, especially because I have a couple very big things planned and it's nice to have a clean project queue before starting up a mega-project.

What's different? Changelog!


  • Rebalanced Bone to Pick and gave your skeleton arm a d6 instead of a d8. Seems reasonable.
  • Withering Touch is now more important, not giving you proficiency in something you'd already have by default, and adding CON to unarmed damage. 
  • Fixed Incorporeal Stride so that it no longer references 4e mechanics and gives you a very clear idea of what keeps out your ghost. 
  • Nothing, really. Seems about done and balanced to me.
  • Not much this time around. Just that you guys are always particularly good at picking out the nits I've missed. 

Expanded and Exotic Weapons [Fourth Draft]

Adding new mechanics further down the line is a bit of a double-edged sword (or, y'know, a sword, two-bladed).

On one hand, it's usually pretty necessary to work out bugs and kinks when it happens. On the other hand, it's new and unpolished, so it always brings a whole lot of clunk to the table as well.

While the 4e encounter-power mechanics the last draft used worked, they didn't always work in service of a weapon and, if the weapon missed, it resulted in the feat feeling wasted. Wanting the weapons to feel worthwhile, I broke the powers down into either new weapon properties or special mechanics on the weapons themselves.

But now we're getting into the crunch of what got changed, and that's the changelog's job.


  • Rebalanced the Katana, Scythe, and Shuriken, keeping them from stepping on the toes of other weapons. The Katana no longer has the light property (there's always the feat to hold two), and the shuriken fell from 1d6 to 1d4 damage, but now has a minor special property. The scythe was reduced to 1d6 slashing, but is now also a finesse weapon (that you cannot sneak attack with).  
  • Folded Exotic Weapon Powers into the weapons themselves. This resulted in the new Ensnaring and Rapid Fire properties, as well as cropping down the feat into just a single proficiency because the powers now come bundled with.
  • Reworked Double Weapons such that there is only one way to hold them, as two one-handed weapons, because it cuts down on complication and cheese. 
  • Added Special Rules for every Exotic without Extra Shot or Ensnaring.
  • Moved Tonfa into the Expanded Weapons list. Being Exotic wasn't working out for it.
  • Added Harpoon to the Exotic Weapons list. Now any orc or goblin can be your character's white whale. 
  • Balance on new content, as always. Specifically on the new weapon properties and special properties for Exotics. 
  • Little, horrible mechanical complexities and cheese this might accidentally cause with builds I didn't consider. Seems to be a reoccuring theme with this project. 
  • Weapons have a lot more moving parts than appear on the surface. You all have helped me stumble upon a new branch of system mechanics I didn't as much consider when I started this project. 
My quest to make an effective, selectable PDF continues. For this version I've generated this selectable PDF, which you can download by clicking here

It looks great in Google Drive, which was my goal, but now it looks awful in Adobe Acrobat. C'est la vie.

A newer version of this option is available. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Expanded and Exotic Weapons [Third Draft]

There are two important things to consider when revising homebrew:
  1. The difference between when a mechanic is bad and can be fixed, and when it's bad enough to have to take it behind a shed and do what must be done.

  2. When to keep it simple, and when it's appropriate to complicate it a little bit. 
The "trade in proficiencies" bit wasn't really working out for this homebrew. So, I nixed it, and mixed the format of this project around a little bit. 

The changelog can explain.

  • Expanded and Exotic Weapons is the new title, replacing the old "Exotic Weapons" and representing the two weapon lists available here,
  • Broke weapons into two lists, one intended to be an extension of the PHB's weapon list and proficiencies, the other of which requires feats to access. 
  • Removed Bladed Fan because that one just really wasn't working out. 
  • Added Repeating Crossbows because D&D cowboys. 
  • Added Sword Sheath because that's a fun thing to beat people with. 
  • Added Exotic Weapon powers which are once-per-short-rest abilities related to the weapon, intended to help make a feat worth it. 
  • Revised item descriptions, rebalanced weapon damage because you can't do that enough times. 
  • What's the power balance on the new Exotic Weapons and the weapon abilities? I think the power variation is fairly alright; I guarantee they're not going to be perfectly balanced, but as long as the spread is roughly even I'm alright with it. 
  • Do any expanded weapons invalidate any existing weapons? Keep in mind the differences in Simple and Martial weapon categories. 
  • Well, that thing I posted, above. 
  • 4e-style mechanics can work in 5e. Whoda thought. 

Also, I'm still figuring out how to generate a PDF with selectable text that Google will let me embed without breaking it. It's surprisingly tricky, but for now you can download a PDF with selectable text here. It won't look pretty previewed, but if you download it, it should run off a computer or device just fine.

A newer version of this option is available.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Exotic Weapons [Second Draft]

One of my favorite things to do recently is to take cracks specifically at game mechanics I don't have experience with yet, to build up my knowledge base and system mastery for more complicated homebrew projects down the line.

So far, I've learned that weapons in 5e are fairly comprehensive and have very little wiggle room to add new material. Rather than let that be a deterrent, I've found the areas that 5e's weapon spread hasn't covered, and used that to bring back perennial favorite D&D weapons, and to bring in new stuff that fits the genre all the same.

...Problem is, in the first swing at it I had very little idea of what the parameters of these weapons should be. But, you all helped me with that quite a bit! Let's see how:


  • Adjusted damage values for Bladed Fan, Spiked Chain, Jian, Katana, Kusari-Gama, Nunchaku, and Sap.
  • Removed Dwarven Throwing Hammers and Kukri because unknown to me the PHB's light hammer already covered that niche, and the Kukri wasn't coming together right.
  • Added Machete and Tonfa, both providing very interesting dual wield options.
  • Reworked properties for the katana, sap, and nunchaku.
  • Changed proficiency requirements. You must now trade three Martial proficiencies for one Exotic proficiency, and two Simple proficiencies count as one Martial proficiency for this purpose. 
  • Tweaked Double Weapon property, mostly for clarity.
  • Tweaked Grappling property, to keep players from grappling two people at once with a spiked chain. 
  • Added note on Exotic Weapons and monk weapons.
  • The spiked chain as a two-handed weapon that deals 2d4 damage interacts in an interesting way with the fighting style Great Weapon Fighting. I don't see it as particularly game-breaking, just nice, and a small homage to the spiked chain's history as a powerful, optimal weapon. 
  • Special properties are probably the way to go with differentiating weapons, but not overly powerful and only where they make sense. 
A newer version of this option is available.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Worldbuilding Option: Fortresses, Temples, & Strongholds [Second Draft]

What? What's that you say? I've been avoiding updating my 17-page, huge document of world-building stronghold options because it takes SO LONG and is a huge pain in the butt?

No I haven't. That's not true. You can tell, by the fact that the second draft of it is right here.

Minor tweaks, all around, but important ones all the same. Let's take a look!


  • The Trading Post can now be built as a Large House, for those of us looking to make an effective inn. 
  • Expansion Units and Expansions are no more! They are now replaced with room points and rooms, which specify that they are used to furnish existing, unfurnished rooms. 
  • Rooms no longer upgrade spell slots used. Rather, some rooms increase spell duration, as well as halving the price of reagents used for a spell. 
  • The Chapel and Graveyard have been reworked. The Chapel is now permanently hallowed ground, and the graveyard provides some minor quality-of-unlife improvements to aspiring necromancers. 
  • Added a sidebar for the Magical Enchanter because not every game needs easy access to magical items. 
  • The Tavern now produces alcohol you can sell and is overall probably one of the best rooms you can buy, which I'm pretty alright with. 
  • Updated the skills required for Hidden, and replaced Wisdom (Insight) with Dexterity (Sleight of Hand).
  • The Sphere of Annihilation now costs significantly more and will still fuck you up just as much. 
  • Reduced the time it takes to cast year-long spells in a structure, down to every-day-for-a-month, which seems more reasonable in many campaigns. 
  • Room balance is still imperfect, but I don't care about this so much because it isn't as aggressively out-of-line as it was before. Structures are the sort of things that you will build up how you want, regardless of balance, so long as balance issues are minor. 
  • There's a LOT that I have planned for expansions to this content, and I'm dreading making it. It's so cool that I definitely will anyway, though, so don't worry about that too much. 
  • The good thing about introducing large content packs is that I don't have to add every brilliant new idea the people reviewing the content have, because I can just introduce everything in an expansion. It saves me from the formatting nightmare that re-editing 17 pages of content is to add new things, so I'm thankful for that at least. 
  • Teleportation Circles for easy transit around a large structure.
  • Golem Forge for constructing golem hirelings.
  • Magical Hirelings because who doesn't want to hire a fey cleaning staff?
  • Druid Circle to attract defenders of the wild to also defend your structure, maybe.
  • Tinker's Workshop to make mechanical devices and contraptions!
  • Labyrinth to amaze and confuse (mostly confuse) unwanted visitors.
  • Brightsmith to cut and forge magical gems.
  • Mining to provide resources for your structure.
  • Baths to keep a clean, satisfied population.
  • Sewers to keep a clean, satisfied population in less speakable ways. 
  • Secret Passages to conjoin rooms in sneaky ways. 
  • Planar Binding Circle for when you absolutely have to summon up Asmodeus and not die. 
  • Topiary Enclosure because who doesn't like shaped plants?
  • Hospital because the sick need somewhere to go besides the Graveyard.
  • Catacombs are always cool, and can effectively hold treasure and secrets.
  • Thieves' Enclave for thief guild shenanigans.
  • Soothsayers, Graverobbers, Cultists, and other specialized hirelings.
  • Crossroads to bring the trade to you!
  • Well/Oasis for clean drinking water.
  • Vault to keep your treasure (and you) nice and secure. 
  • Lighthouse for seeing at sea at night.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Exotic Weapons [ROUGH DRAFT]

Homebrew is best and easiest to add when it's relatively light-weight, something that can be included in a game without too much fuss or argument, that blends into many settings and may even serve to enhance the more esoteric corners of whichever D&D world you are running.

That's kind of what I'm going for here: enhancing the basic weapon options offered by the 5e PHB, without rocking the boat too much in terms of balance. Hopefully it's on the mark, but of course that's where all of you all come in!


  • 23 New Exotic Weapons, each unique in their own way, from the likes of the Katana and the Kusari-Gama to the ever-popular Spiked Chain and Chakram!
  • Rules for Gaining Proficiency in an exotic weapon, that don't disrupt balance or character progression.
  • 5 New Weapon Properties to make these weapons even more unique (without breaking balance, of course).
  • Double weapon may be a bit hard to understand, but it's about as clear as I think I'm able to make it.
  • The katana held in two hands deals 1d10, which is more than any other finesse weapon. However, I think its negative special property (and the fact that it eats up an extra hand that no other finesse weapon does) somewhat cancels out this benefit.
  • Grappling with reach seems alright, but also like something that could go wrong in ways I didn't think of. 
  • It's hard to keep weapons representative of what they do, while still remaining unique and balanced. 
  • 5e is very restrictive on things like Crit Range (a.k.a. keen) and other staples of weapons in past editions. This makes 5e's weapons more streamlined and balanced, but less easily diversified. I had to get creative with keeping these weapons unique. 
A newer version of this option is available.