Gobble-ins, Centaurkeys,and Thanksgiving One-Shots

Happy American Thanksgiving, everybody! I expect most people are reading this on Thursday, because they are drinking as often as possible on Wednesday. This is going to be a hard holiday for a lot of people, and I bet bars and liquor stores are looking forward to Black Wednesday. Let’s assume for a minute that you are woefully hungover and are reading this from your smart device while praying to the porcelain gods. First, I feel your pain, and suggest you pop some alka seltzer and make yourself an egg cream. Second, double up on the mashed potatoes, heavy on the butter. Third, let’s talk about a Thanksgiving themed one-shot you can run while everyone is barely keeping it together.

e-D&D and Parallel Experiences

In a lot of ways, I’m a curmudgeon of a luddite who is afeared of technology. I mean, sure, I’ve literally worked on space telecommunications, but for some reason podcasts seem new and terrifying. Video streams, and even YouTube channels, don’t seem weird or foreign, but podcasts? It’s strange magic performed in the woods by the Sheldon gang summoning the Black Goat of a Thousand Young. Shubby N. is a good dude, I’m sure, but we have a hard time relating to each other. We just have very different backgrounds, ya know?

Get to Know the Merfolk

It might seem like just a few days ago, I was talking about spooky creatures and practices in honor of Halloween. Well, now Halloween is behind us, and our next holidays in the US are Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. To that end, I will be covering the wide variety of militaristic and martial turkeys that dot the Dungeons & Dragons landscape. We’ll first cover the turku, a kenku variant, and then move into the gonzo stuff, like the turketaur and the turkesaur. Just kidding, let’s talk about merfolk.

Get to Know the Erinyes

We’re official into October. For many people I know, October means one thing: Halloween. While I am certainly not opposed to a fancy dress party, not to be confused with the Fancy Dress Party, I’m not exactly someone who goes crazy for the holiday. I like making stuff, but going to a party means I have to socially interact with people, all of whom might realize at any moment that I am the worst. Rather than have it be proven, I prefer to stay at home to cultivate my mystique. I might have veered from the point. Regardless, this time of year sees a whole host of devil and fallen angel costumes, of the classical, re-imagined, scary, or sexy variety. A kind reader (you can tweet to @tribality or @standsinthefire if you want me to cover something, or just complain about/to me) asked if I would cover demons or devils in the new future, and this time of year is perfect for it. Without further ado, let’s talk about one of my favorite devils: the erinyes.

Azer | Kenku | Giants | Scarecrow | Erinyes

Get to Know the Scarecrow

Welcome to Fall. The time of year where we lament that it is still too warm for this time of year and yearn for cold weather, only to complain when the weather is actually cold. The time of year where bonfires, raking the yard, and drinking to excess in the name of team loyalty rule the day. It’s also the time of monsters, honoring the dead, giving thanks, pilgrimages, and the harvest. While Halloween gets most of the focus, with growing interest in Day of the Dead and All Saints’ Day, I’ve always felt a strong pull to the mythos surrounding the harvest. There is just something about the lore and superstitions associated with the harvest that stirs my creative juices. So let’s kick off the season with a look at a seasonal staple, the scarecrow. If you’ve missed the previous creatures I’ve covered, you can find them below.

Azer | Kenku | Giants | Scarecrow

Get to Know the Kenku

Last week, I spent a little bit of time talking about a creature I thought was cool and didn’t get enough recognition — the azer. The response was overwhelmingly positive, so I thought I would discuss one of my other favorite creatures in D&D: the kenku. For the unaware, kenku are awesome crow people (except for when they are hawk people), and have an entire weird culture built, on the surface at any rate, around the idea that crows are clever thieves. Kenku are much more than that, and have some pretty great backstory that is modular and capable of fitting into many a campaign.

Burden of Knowledge Design

One of the common usages of “burden of knowledge” is describing a situation where you need in-depth exposure (often first-hand) to understand something. For you to perform something to the highest levels, others have to also attain a high level of mastery. Conversely, your mastery might be so thorough that no one can successfully compete against you. The knowledge base is so deep, or so well hidden, that there is never a really equal playing field.  There are many possible barriers to entry, but system mastery isn’t easily overcome. This is especially problematic when you are talking about things that are attempting to be easily accessible, as cooperative and competitive games often attempt to be. Let’s look at a timeless game—chess.

The Age of Retiarius

I had something else planned for this week, but then I read the July round of rules answers  in Sage Advice. One of the questions was about the net, and if attacks with the net were always made with disadvantage. The answer was the net was specifically designed so a net attack was always made with disadvantage, without an intervening factor, like a special feature, advantage to offset through something like faerie fire, or the net itself is special. Unfortunately, neither barbarian or fighter seems to have a special feature to offset this penalty in the core materials. Alas, it is up to all kind folk to make an impassioned defense of the retiarius, the net-fighter.

The Earl of Lemongrab and Antagonists

“I have to use my sound sword now! It’s a sound sword!”

-Lemongrab, Earl of Lemongrab

The current trend of power fantasy poses some interesting challenges for the modern GM. Anecdotally speaking, players are less fearful than ever, and engagement is only the barest of excuses to quip and preen. Again, this isn’t every game. Nor is it every player. It’s just a common enough trend amongst the people I know and the games I hear about to warrant some discussion. Let’s say you are in this situation. Fear isn’t something the party is willing to acknowledge, and being continually on the edge of death in combat can wear on any group. Variety is the spice of life, bro. So, what can you do to present a challenge to the players that encourages players to engage on multiple levels without violence and fear? When life gives you lemons, make Lemongrabs.

Chrono Rogue Archetype for D&D 5e

In May 2016, Blizzard launched Overwatch, a game where players clash with colorful heroes on battlefield around the globe. I have been playing far too much Overwatch and have played pretty much all of the characters, but Tracer is one of my favorites. As the poster character of Overwatch, Tracer is “a time-jumping adventurer” who fights as a force for good. She packs twin pulse pistols, energy-based time bombs, quick banter, and “blinks” through space and rewinds her personal timeline.

We now have five official archetypes for playing a rogue: Thief, Assassin, Arcane Trickster, Mastermind and Swashbuckler. This week on the Campaign Trail, I thought that a time jumping rogue could make for an interesting player option for a traditional, urban fantasy, d20 modern or science fantasy game. While this article is more of a fun experiment, this homebrew archetype could be used to create any character who uses magic or technology to jump through time.