D&D Volo’s Guide to Monsters Previews Collection

Volo’s Guide to Monsters, a new hardcover book of monsters for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, is releasing very soon (November 15, 2016 or earlier in gaming stores). The book features new monsters for a Dungeon Master to unleash on his players, lore and lairs for classic monsters, and new playable races. Here are some previews to look at while you wait to get this book in your hands.

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.)

Upwind Project from Biohazard Games

Imagine Bakshi’s classic animated film Wizards has a head-on collision with Disney’s Treasure Planet and the resulting fire is put out with a whole lot of Studio Ghibli’s Castle in the Sky. That, in an unexpected, animated mash-up, is Upwind.

Upwind is a narrative style RPG set in a strange alternate world of floating island nations, flying sailing ships, long lost technology, wild elemental powers, looming war and forgotten legacies.

Upwind is powered by the Q-system, an original stakes-based, playing card-driven mechanic that gives every encounter consequences with meaningful, narrative-building outcomes. With its unique bidding rules, Upwind plays as fast as you can tell your story.

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.

Open Legend RPG

A couple of months ago, a reader reached out to be to say that he had created a new tabletop game, and he hoped I would consider an article on it. We had a good conversation about it, and I agreed. History of the Classes has involved a lot of design critique, which is related to but (in my head if nowhere else) different from a review. Seventh Sphere Publishing plans to crowdfund through Kickstarter later this year, running from 18 October to 19 November. The core rules are available for free on the Open Legend RPG website.

Art by Stephen Najarian

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.