Dark Sun Psionics

In today’s History of the Classes article, I’m examining Dark Sun’s use of psionics in AD&D Second Edition. As far as I know, it’s the only 2e setting – out of the glorious variety of 2e settings – that deeply embraces psionics and makes it a centerpiece of the setting. My resources are the revised Dark Sun Campaign Setting (the one reworked to fit Skills and Powers), Dragon Kings, and The Will and the Way. I also have a copy of the 4e Dark Sun Campaign Setting on the shelf, but I plan to fold that into my article on 4e.

(Part One, Part Two, Part Three)

Aarakocra (Circle of Air, Storm Lord, Oath of the Winds, Infiltrator)

The aarakocra were one of my favorite monsters from the original Fiend Folio. They, along with the bizarre and oft-mocked flumph, were one of the only good races in the book and seemed ripe for heroic storytelling. Unfortunately, they weren’t available to the average player as a race (at least until Dark Sun) and creating appropriately balanced new races in the early editions was challenging. It’s a little thing, but opening the 5th ed Monster Manual and seeing the aarakocra as the first monster helps this edition find a place in my gamer heart.

The Elemental Evil Player’s Guide
Though this build was posted first at www.gameschangelives.com, WotC has since offered up their own version of the aarakocra. Whether you decide to use this version or their official write-up, I’m hoping the background information and the various archetypes will provide you something fun for your next avian game.

D&D Upcoming Storyline Predictions – Revised

Way back in November 2014, I made some predictions on upcoming storylines between now and 2018. I predicted that they would do an Underdark storyline… but I was way off thinking it would come out in 2018. As we have learned more about the two storylines a year that will be coming out each year, here are my revised “predictions”, but I would say that this is wild guesses at this point.

New Options for Githyanki and Githzerai PCs

My previous article on githanki and githzerai PCs generated a lot of conversation about the history of these races across more than 30 years of D&D, including discussions about the kind of options people would like to see converted to the newest edition. Below you will find several new class archetypes inspired by James Wyatt‘s brilliant “Rise of the Githyanki” in Polyhedron #159, including the ghustil (arcane healers) for both bards and rangers, a holocaust warrior variant for eldritch knights, and a new warlock patron, the Lich Queen herself.

UPDATED: D&D to Release Two Storylines a Year Through 2018

Since I wrote this article in November 2014 quite a few things have changed, so I thought it was time to update the original article.

  • In a recent interview, Jeremy Crawford commented that the official setting of the D&D tabletop RPG “is the multiverse, which includes all D&D worlds.
  • On Twitter, Chris Perkins revealed he has something in the works for 2016, which just might be a new setting based on his own world called Valoreign.
  • Errata documents will be released this spring.
  • It is likely that the Warforged race (from Eberron) and Kender race (from Dragonlance) will be covered in an upcoming article on the Dungeon & Dragons site. Comments by Mike Mearls have pretty much confirmed this, with Warforged “up first”.
  • Previously, Mike Mearls let us know that they are ” looking at two storylines a year” and have “plans laid down for stories up through 2018.

High Power Races: Thri-Kreen

Along with the aarakocra, the thri-kreen are one of my favorite non-standard races to play. Unique and alien, thri-kreen provide for unusual roleplaying opportunities and unusual flavor at the table. The challenge? Thri-kreen are a powerful PC race (see Behind the Development below). Converting them to a standard PC race while maintaining their flavor and popular, race-specific powers was a challenge and even with this conversion DMs should consider before allowing them in their campaigns. If used, DMs and players should play up the thri-kreen’s social disadvantages as much as possible, including limited communication and insight into humanoid motivations and feelings. Though I follow Monte Cook’s design rule that “fluff does not balance crunch”, if you have decided that thri-kreen are usable in your campaign, you can use these disadvantages to build interesting stories and social interactions while balancing some of their physical benefits. Remember that 5th edition emphasizes combat, exploration, and social interactions in equal balance.

Thri-kreen

Thri-kreen are nomadic, insectoid humanoids typically found in deserts and savannah. They communicate with a species-specific combination of clicks, body movements, and antennae waves, though it is suspected that pheromonal communication allows for more subtlety than most humanoids can decipher. Though non-thri-kreen can learn to understand the basics of thri-kreen communication, it’s impossible to speak. Most thri-kreen understand Common with the same level of understanding. Unless a thri-kreen has spent significant time with non-insectoid humanoids, they make all Insight and Persuasion checks at disadvantage. The same is true of mammalian humanoids when dealing with thri-kreen.

D&D to Release 2 Storylines a Year Through 2018

UPDATED to include new information revealed at Gamehole Con by Chris Perkins and Ed Greenwood. New text is in blue.

In an interview on Israeli site pundak.co.il, Mike Mearls (Head of R&D for Dungeons & Dragons) provided answers to 14 questions. The most interesting question and answer for me was:

Q: How often can we expect to see a story line like Tyranny of Dragons? Once a year? Twice a year?

A: We’re looking at two storylines a year. Right now, we have plans laid down for stories up through 2018.

10 Awesome Monsters for a D&D 5e Desert Encounter

Are your adventurers parched and starving in a desert wilderness? Does your group need a little challenge on the way to the pyramid? Let us do the work for you. Here is a list of 10 Awesome Monsters for a Desert Encounter (and some Dark Sun ideas) from the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Monster Manual.