The Warlock Class, Part Zero

So, funny story, I was digging through boxes and boxes of books and Fantasy & Science Fiction magazines at my parents’ house the other day, when I found my old copy of Player’s Option: Spells & Magic. In case you’re not familiar with the Player’s Option series, they more or less constitute a 2.5 edition of D&D. I’ve mentioned Skills & Powers several times in the course of the History of the Classes. Spells & Magic picks apart the magic system and offers variant classes, spellcasting rules, and lots of new niche-use spells. Anyway, thumbing through this tome for the first time in… uh… sixteen or seventeen years, I was flabbergasted to discover that there are rules for warlocks here, as (somewhat) distinct from wizards. Since this clearly pre-dates Complete Arcane, which I foolishly labeled “Part One,” I’m obligated by the unholy power of numbers to label this article “Part Zero.” (God help me if I should learn of a 1e or OD&D warlock as a discrete class.)

Domain Rulership, Part Eleven

Last time in this series, I wrote about some additional ACKS content and Sine Nomine’s An Echo, Resounding, with full-throated praise for both. Today I’m covering a domain rulership system entirely separate from D&D: Green Ronin’s Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, by Robert Schwalb. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past twenty years, this title tells you that it presents rules for roleplaying in the setting of George R. R. Martin’s series of novels, based on the hit HBO show A Game of Spoilers. (…nailed it.) Of necessity, I’ll include an overview of the Chronicle engine that SIFRP is built on, but mostly I’m here to talk about domain rulership. What with that being the title of the article and all.

Domain Rulership, Part Ten

Last time in this series, I examined the Adventurer Conqueror King System. Alexander Macris came along in the comments section and offered me previews of five articles that will appear in the AXIOMS fanzine, expanding some particular elements of ACKS’s handling for non-feudal governance and the like. I’m starting this article with some commentary on those, and I’ll continue into discussing An Echo, Resounding by Kevin Crawford. The huge amount of content I’m covering is also the reason this is going up almost twelve hours late.

(image above from the popular HBO series, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo Kill Everyone)

Unearthed Arcana Breakdown: The Ranger, Revised

In today’s Unearthed Arcana article, Mearls returns to one of the most hotly discussed topics of 5e design: the ranger. This isn’t UA’s first take on an alternate ranger, either – and the blogging/third-party-publishing community has followed suit. That previous article lays out a lot of what WotC sees as The Issues, but the solution they presented was not particularly celebrated in the conversations I saw about it. To be fair, though, the core of the problem is that there’s probably less consensus on the ranger’s identity as a class than any other class in the game. In this article, I’m picking apart what I see in the document.

Domain Rulership, Part Nine

You know, there have been a lot more domain-management systems published for D&D, D&D derivatives, and D&D clones than I would have guessed. Today I’m tackling the Adventurer Conqueror King System (hereafter ACKS), which will take up enough column-inches to stand alone. I’ve been reading about ACKS for years now without actually reading it, though I came very close to buying a copy a few years ago at the Escapist Expo in Durham a few years back. My deep gratitude goes to the generous reader who gave me a copy of the PDF as a gift, just so I could write this article.

Fifth Edition’s Content Strategy

In various communities around the internet, I’ve seen a lot of people complain about WotC’s glacially slow publication schedule for 5e, often suggesting that they do not understand why WotC is making these choices. I don’t have any insider knowledge, but I pay attention to what people like Mike Mearls, Monte Cook, and Ryan Dancey have said, and I’ve watched the successes and failures of other content models.

If it helps my credibility, I did successfully predict the DM’s Guild back in 2012. Considering that RPGNow got its start in 2001, this wasn’t exactly a revolutionary idea! It was just the right combination of WotC and OneBookShelf getting paid. I’ll come back to this.

Domain Rulership, Part Eight

Last time in the Domain Rulership series, I talked about some of the relatively rules-light approaches to domain and stronghold play, in the form of 13th Age and Dungeon World. Now I’m turning back toward more involved systems: Fields of Blood by Eden Studios, given to me by a generous reader; and Kingmaker/Ultimate Campaign by Paizo, given to me by… a more different generous reader. The point is, my readers are the best. They are discerning and witty and almost assuredly 10% more appealing to members of their preferred gender than people who do not read my column. Look at you, reading this, getting better-looking every second. I mean, not to me, I’m married. But still.

(Image: The Magna Carta. One of the original system documents defining domain rulership as something other than, “it’s good to be the king.”)

Domain Rulership, Part Seven

Previously in this series, I looked at one of the high-water marks for fine detail in domain rulership systems. This week, I’m going to some systems at the opposite extreme: 13th Age and Dungeon World. Not counting, of course, systems that simply have no rules for domain rulership or strongholds. Absence is different from minimalism – and I’m about to split that hair damned fine.

Domain Rulership, Part Six

Two weeks ago, I talked about the Stronghold Builder’s Guidebook, the “main” 3.x-based book for stronghold construction and domains. I also mentioned a third-party product, A Magical Medieval Society: Western Europe, by Expeditious Retreat Press. In the comments, alert reader Charles Geringer brought up Power of Faerûn. Because irony is the only cosmic balance to entropy, I have a copy of that very incunabulum on the shelf behind me. This is me, in my customary writing chair, looking as dashing as ever.

Domain Rulership, Part Five

Last time in the Domain Management series, we discussed my personal high-water mark for domain-level rules, known in the tongues of gods and men as the Birthright Campaign Setting. We continue therefore to Third Edition. The Dungeon Master’s Guide has nothing on this topic, signaling the total difference in the game’s assumptions about what characters do with their money at mid-to-high levels. The Stronghold Builder’s Guidebook fills in with domain rules, and I’ll get to that in a bit.