Friday, February 17, 2017

Stronghold Expansion: Traders & Merchants [Second Draft]

REMINDER: Any donations to this blog for the month of February will be passed on to the ACLU, in full. 
Donations can be made to the blog, or to the ACLU directly at the link above.
I'll try and keep a running tally with each release. So far we have $30 to donate! Great job!

Bet you wondered where I went, didn't you?

One of the difficult parts of updating old content is when I've switched over to a new template since making it. For the previous version of this project, I had my second-iteration template. Now, I'm using a third-iteration template with different sizing and standardization that pretty much exactly replicates the PHB. That's great and all, but what it really means is that I need to re-do every page of a project if I want consistent sizing and aesthetics with my newest content.

And that's a problem if a project is 23 pages long. Even more so, when you inflate the project to 32 pages after working on it.

Almost twice as long as the core Strongholds rules, this is now officially the biggest project I've ever worked on, and hopefully contains a merchant for just about every situation.

What made this pile of insanity worth doing? Well, since you asked...


  • Added 8 new merchants, including legendary merchants, rare super-merchants a player can stumble upon once in a lifetime!
  • Added new and altered items to all merchant inventories, to make the lists more representative of what they're supposed to be. 
  • Added a Quantity column, so players will have a hard limit on how many throwing knives they can purchase. 
  • Removed Very Poor and Very Good merchants, folding them over into Poor and Good qualities.
  • Merchants are now determined by a d100 roll, allowing for food merchants to show up more often than potion merchants.
  • Fixed textual errors referring to incorrect sources and similar.
  • I've added more than I've ever added to just about any project to date. I'm betting there'll be a mistake or two somewhere.
  • I might need to change the probability numbers on the legendary merchants, to make encountering a time traveler or the devil himself significantly less common than say, an enchantments merchant.
  • I'm not looking forward to updating the Strongholds core to the new template, I'll tell you that much. Although it'll probably be way easier than this, tables are an absolute nightmare to format. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Monastic Tradition: Way of the Zen Archer [Second Draft]

REMINDER: Any donations to this blog for the month of February will be passed on to the ACLU, in full. 
Donations can be made to the blog, or to the ACLU directly at the link above.
I'll try and keep a running tally with each release. So far we have $30 to donate! Great job!

Monks are a massive pain in the behind to do anything with.

You've got the ki system, of course, which itself isn't so bad. But then you've got Martial Arts, a list of weapons which do/do not synergize with that feature, Flurry of Blows vs. the basic MA bonus attack, and a whole lot of hidden balance math that can be upset when you try and do something obscene like make monks synergize with using ranged weapons.

There's a reason the Kensei has to kind of be a mess and include "kensei weapons," is what I'm saying.

But! I have the advantage of being able to release multiple incarnations of one class archetype whenever I feel like, allowing me to fix and update much faster than a UA release.

That said, this version of the Zen Archer greatly improves the balance and feeling of the original, making the whole experience of being a bow-or-crossbow monk a much cleaner, more flavorful experience.



  • Incorporated Martial Arts directly into Bonus Proficiencies, because trying to pick and choose how the feature interacts with MA without explicitly stating it was a losing battle.
  • Spiritual Archery no longer has a bonus action attack, now using a bonus action to increase the damage of your attacks directly. It still has a Flurry of Blows equivalent option, but it waits until 5th level to coincide with Extra Attack. 
  • Immaculate Lance has its math rebalanced, giving it a higher front-end damage but lower back-end damage. It also has new verbage to allow it to be cast using 0 ki, similar to the Sun Soul monk's Searing Sunburst, and now deals no damage on a successful save. 
  • Exquisite Accuracy now only negates disadvantage, allowing advantage from things like true strike to persist. 
  • Some people expressed vague concern over Stunning Strike being available at range, but after looking it over a couple of times I can't find anything that makes it inherently gamebreaking. The most imbalanced thing I can find is pulling off a Stunning Strike / Immaculate Lance wombo-combo, and that requires careful planning and about half your ki at the level it becomes available. 
  • True strike continues to be marginally useful, but is handy if you're using your action for something other than attacking. It synergizes well with Immaculate Lance, if nothing else. 
  • The new Spiritual Archery makes advantage and disadvantage a bigger deal than it would be for a regular monk, but that doesn't seem balance-breaking by its nature. 
  • I'll miss the spirit arrow. Ah well, these mechanics are much smoother. 
  • I deeply, deeply miss how relatively easy it is to make something like a rogue. Maybe next time. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Monastic Tradition: Way of the Zen Archer [ROUGH DRAFT]

REMINDER: Any donations to this blog for the month of February will be passed on to the ACLU, in full. 
Donations can be made to the blog, or to the ACLU directly at the link above.  

I really and truly love playing 5e. Having played both 3.5 and 4e as well, 5e is definitely my favorite edition to date, in my opinion running smoother, cleaner, and more intuitively than either of its WotC predecessors.

One of the problems I do have in 5e is the holes in material, but that's bound to happen in any relatively-new system. Most of what I do here is try and patch the holes that I perceive to exist, making 5e be (in the end) a more complete system with a fuller range of options.

In this case, the hole I'm filling is the ranged monk. The only ranged options available for monks are to either be a sun-bolt hurling Goku, or to rules-abuse the UA Kensei into using martial ranged weapons that can deal Strength bludgeoning damage. Neither seems like a real great way to make a bow-monk, and that's where homebrew comes in.

More than just a monk with a bow, a Zen Archer is a spiritual ranged attacker that focuses on making impossible shots and striking foes with bolts of pure ki energy. A Zen Archer attempts to make every shot count, channeling their mastery of mind and body through a bow or crossbow to dispatch foes from far away.

What makes this monk different and fun to play? Well...


  • Curve arrows around walls to make impossible trick shots, striking dead those who would hide from you. 
  • Fire conjured bolts of ki from your bow, with the ability to supercharge them using ki points!
  • Launch a powerful lance of radiant ki that you can empower with additional ki points.
  • Some of the abilities may be a little verbose. I tried to cut them down a bit, with mixed results. 
  • Unsure of the damage balance on Immaculate Lance, it may need to be higher. Tried to base it off of what the Sun Soul got at that level, but a burst effect is hard to balance against a line effect. 
  • There might be usage errors here and there. A lot of this is emulating core monk features in a different direction, similar to what the Kensei does, which even the Kensei didn't do especially clearly. 
  • Monks have a LOT of working parts, and it's particularly hard to design a subclass without running afoul of some of them.