Tracey’s Reading List

The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History by Howard Bloom – This book describes how selfishness, deception, violence and other “evil” traits have a biological advantage, and then explores how those traits helped shape culture and history. Allows DMs to flesh out races and monsters with realistic/reasonable explanations for creatures and their motivations. For example, a DM may decide that the reason orcs are typically violent is that they are heavily muscled and require a lot of protein to develop, and so evolved to have high testosterone and adrenaline as a result to make them better hunters, and thus have also evolved an aggressive hunting culture to meet their biological needs for protein.

48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene – So many people in D&D talk about having power, but so rarely does anyone know how to gain or maintain it. The rules in this book should be memorized by every tyrant (or tyrant to be) that wants to rule by skill and not via DM fiat or plot immunity. Also adds depth and breadth to villains and their plans.

The Deathbird and Other Stories by Harlan Ellison – This anthology is included for the short stories “The Deathbird” (won both Hugo and Locus awards) and “The Slab.” The first story concerns a lone man fighting an insane and power-hungry god for control of a dead world, and what he must first learn to understand and accept if he is to win. This story is masterfully intercut with vignettes illustrating the roles of man, God, fate, and nature. The second tale, “The Slab,” reveals what happens when a modern day huckster unearths Prometheus, the actual ancient Titan who brought fire to mankind. This anthology (and these stories in particular) are included because they present excellent examples of how to combine meaningful depth with plot events.

The Cross-Time Engineer (Adventures of Conrad Stargard, Book 1) by Leo Frankowski – In this story a modern-day mechanical engineer named Conrad accidentally falls through a temporal portal in Poland back to the year 1231, a decade before the Mongols are destined to arrive and wipe out most of the population of Eastern Europe. Unable to return home, Conrad turns his engineering expertise towards modernizing Poland’s military before the Mongols arrive. Story continues through The High Tech Knight, The Radiant Warrior, and The Flying Warlord. The author, Frankowski, is actually a mechanical engineer so his explanations of the steps Conrad must take to evolve common crude medieval technology to modern era tech is both accurate and informative. This series is a must for any DM trying to contain an overly ambitious artificer.

The Long Walk by Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman – A group of 100 boys volunteer for a death march across – where else? – rural Maine in order to compete for the ultimate Prize. An interesting exploration of group dynamics under high stress that asks some surprisingly deep questions – just what is really important, if you know that you’re about to die? Also has some fascinating descriptions of mental breakdowns useful to borrow for extreme NPC behavior – especially ones broken due to high stress.

The Psychopath’s Bible: For the Extreme Individual by Christopher S. Hyatt – This book presents a refreshingly functional chaotic evil mindset – extremely useful for DMs and players that want to be something much more than a flat fantasy stereotype of evil (which usually just winds up as boring gorecore anyway.)

The History of Religious Ideas 1, 2 and 3 by Mircea Eliade – This modern professor of religion, history and philosophy wrote numerous books comparing and interpreting religious experiences that are foundational to the study of these subjects today. These three books by Dr. Eliade outline the basis for the evolution of religion throughout the world. Contains hundreds upon hundreds of examples of real world religious and cultural practices with highly accessible explanations of everything. This book is superb for fleshing out religions and their various sects, cultures, and the personal values of PCs and NPCs alike.

Aghora: At the Left Hand of God by Dr. Robert Svoboda – Dr. Svoboda is recognized as a world-wide expert on Ayurvedic medicine and classical Indian lore, being the first Westerner to ever receive his degree in same from the University of Poona in India in 1980. This book describes how a religious sect called the Aghoris attempt to achieve true understanding of their Selves and ultimate union with the Divine All via religious rites in charnel houses and among cremation fires. This book is excellent reading for DMs because it gives a wholly different perspective on what would be considered normally “evil” practices (such as drinking out of skulls while meditating atop corpses), describes how the touch of the sacred changes the soul of the aspirant – a must for realistic clerics – and gives beaucoup examples of how to dress up a necromantic cult without it being a bunch of hokey “dudes in black robes chanting… again.”

Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice for All Creation by Olivia Judson – This fascinating book gives a survey of some of the most interesting and bizarre reproductive practices in the natural world in the format of a parody advice column for critters having trouble attracting a suitable mate. I include this book for two reasons. First, we often forget that monsters in the world have an ecology, which means that they are looking to reproduce – and I wonder, just how do monsters reproduce, and what problems might they encounter? The fact that this is written as an advice column parody is useful for looking at things from the perspective of the animal/monster – if a sea urchin is willing to spill the beans about its problems finding a mate, would a sphinx? How do shocker lizards act during breeding season? This book is excellent for mining answers to those very questions.

Evil Overlord List by Peter Anspach – While not a book, this list is absolutely essential for any DM no matter how experienced they are. This list is given from the perspective of an Evil Overlord who is swearing to not commit a clichéd act and to act with common sense. Includes lots of useful advice such as “When I capture the hero, I will make sure I also get his dog, monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around.” If your BBEG is violating any of these rules, he best have a darned good explanation, or you as the DM had best be revising them.

Helen’s Recommended Reading List

  1. Small Gods- Terry Pratchett
    1. Useful for its perspective on the nature of the relationship between man and god, which is a core part of many D&D stories. Also damned funny.
  2. Guards! Guards!- Terry Pratchett
    1. Full of analyses of the cliches and tropes of classic fantasy stories- and thus provides an engaging framework for how to avoid the old tropes.
  3. Hogfather- Terry Pratchett
    1. Seasonally appropriate exploration of Christmas, but more importantly on the nature of belief in gods and in ideals.
  4. The Princess Bride- William Goldman
    1. A very amusing satire of old fairy tale cliches, much less earnest than the film adapted from it.
  5. The Sandman- Neil Gaiman
    1. A long comic book series that you might not have the time or inclination to read, but I had to recommend it. This is one of the most deep and evocative comics ever written, that tells stories spanning time, space, and fantasy. It examines the nature of stories- and afterall what is D&D, but a living story?
  6. Goods Omens- Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
    1. Sarah basically outlined my reasons for recommending this, and she’s pretty sharp so you should take her word for it. To list what I think she left out is a story about how not necessarily doing anything to save the day doesn’t mean your story is irrelevant, and that a little irreverence goes a long way.
  7. The Dark is Rising- Susan Cooper
    1. Bit of a dark horse pick for this list. While intended as Children’s literature, like Neil Gaiman Cooper manages to create a tale of old folklore and eldritch imagery that is engaging even for an adult audience.
  8. The Witcher Series- Andrzej Sapkowski
    1. I have to recommend the entire series, though really you only need to read the first two books for a fun and exciting read and some clever (And transparent) deconstructions of classic fairy tales. The later books also have in my opinion one of the best demonstrations of the composition and dynamic an adventuring party should have- and the way they can all meet their ends. (Spoiler)
  9. The William Marshall Series- Elizabeth Chadwick
    1. Historical fiction, not fantasy. I recommend this series both out of my own love for the famed Earl of Pembroke (the title character) but also for its depiction of life in the High Middle Ages, showing how to tell a story in Medieval setting that is both accurate and relatable.
  10. The Children of Hurin- JRR Tolkien
    1. I had to work in some Tolkien in here. This story is a perfect guide for how to torment your players. It’s also quite good- I recommend the audiobook version read by the late, great Christopher Lee.

Book Suggestions by Sarah

Good Omens
What is the nature of those who follow the path of good and evil? How does prophecy actually play into the world around you? From a perspective of long ago, how might the future be seen? How can you as a GM write vague but useful prophecies. And some nature vs nurture and the ease of things going wrong. Whats not to like?


The Kobold Wizard’s Dildo of Enlightenment +2
An engaging world it is not. And that rather is the problem. This book may make you reevaluate how you handle descriptions and game focus. How you try and push what the Character thinks for your player’s consideration compared to what the Player thinks. When they make feat decisions and what they should pick.


Rhapsody (E. Hayden)
A rich fantasy with an incredible interpretation of Truename magic. Truly painful loss, how to write and plot arcing sequences, world magic, and how “monsterous” characters may behave in normal society.
Black magician trilogy
An alternate perspective on magic. Some realities of dark magic, subtly, and intrigue. The early chapters also give some good examples of how a magician’s guild compared to the desires of street gangs could play out.
Night Angel trilogy
Another street gangs and magic series. This time with assassins and how they have a sense of legality within a lawful society. This one deals with Artifact magic items and how that changes the world around them.
Kingmaker kingbreaker series
When one race of people holds supremacy for having powerful magic, and the lesser race develops the same high magic, meanwhile the crown prince has none, what happens? Especially when the two are friends.
Chronicles Of The Necromancer Series
Politics and magic, Necromancy in this case is more spiritual/ghost magic. Yet another alternate perspective on magic, what evil can look like, and what Good can look like even if it is coated in some dust.
If on a Winters night (Calvino)
This book spoke to me specifically. We take in a portion of our environment at any time until we focus with intense focus on an object. Sitting at my desk, I am aware I have a keyboard. But as I focus more on it, I can notice that the S key I overuse or hit at a different angle based on how the paint is scrapped. That kind of evolution of description is demonstrated in exceptional skill with the first chapter. The following chapters can be seen as a linked continuity of characters in different situations. Like a West March quest chain.
Godspeaker Trilogy
Religion is powerful. Regardless of what your gods actually are. Evil spirits, divine beings, it matters not. The FAITH that the followers hold when bolstered by something with power can make a street girl an Empress, and in turn conquer the world…well almost.
Night Watch (Sergei Lukyanenko)
Couldn’t find a good name for the series. It has been a while since I read these and they certainly stuck less than the others. Modern magic, the horrors that can lurk as a result, and how you may or may not cope. The power of perspective. The fear around the Other and how it can be played. Let alone the descriptions of what I recall a World of Darkness-esque Russia.

Book Recommendations, by Camber

Book Recommendations, by Camber

Note, In most cases, I’ve recommended the first book in a series where I would recommend the entire series.

1. Sanderson, Brandon. The Way of Kings.
Epic in scope. The first of a series that promises to be one of the best of all time. One of the best examples of worldbuilding I’ve seen; Sanderson is a master of thinking through all the possible ripple effects of his choices as an author. I would rank Tolkien better because he came first, but Sanderson builds on the shoulders of giants and does not disappoint, making him slightly more accessible and satisfying for modern audiences. I’ve found that Sanderson is a rare gem – an author that writes at a very high rate of productivity (at least two books per year) but also at a very high mark of quality. My standard for quality is that the author makes me care about the characters and the story, takes care making a world, is smart enough that I can’t find any logic holes. Most importantly, that s/he depicts relationships, greatness of heart, sacrifice, and beauty convincingly enough that it moves me to tears at least once in the book. Most authors can’t do even one of these well, but so far I’ve never seen Sanderson not deliver on all of the above.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7235533-the-way-of-kings

2. Tolkien, J.R.R. Fellowship of the Ring.
The more times I read Tolkien, the more impressed I am at his work. I’m always excited when I see his scholarly work in philology cited in some article I read. Recently I was doing genealogical research on ancient Saxon lines, and found that the definitive study of an obscure text on a historical figure was written by the Don himself. An amazing man. He launched the genre of modern fantasy writing, and D&D owes its existence to The Lord of the Rings.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34.The_Fellowship_of_the_Ring

3. Le Guin, Ursula K. A Wizard of Earthsea.
Le Guin is better known for some of her other works, such as The Left Hand of Darkness. But I loved her Earthsea trilogy when I was in middle school; when I found Tolkien a bit too complex for my young mind, Earthsea was just right. If you ever wanted to see what a Truenamer should really look like, this will excite you.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13642.A_Wizard_of_Earthsea

4. Rothfuss, Patrick. The Name of the Wind.
If it weren’t for the fact that Rothfuss is taking forever to finish his series, this would rank higher on my list. He only makes a few unforgiveable mistakes with his characters (George R.R. Martin makes so many that I’ve banished him entirely from my list), and his writing is so good that I feel like

strangling him every year that he doesn’t add another book. If he continues to deliver, this could put him second or third on my list.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/186074.The_Name_of_the_Wind

5. Jordan, Robert. The Eye of the World.
If it weren’t for the fact that Brandon Sanderson penned a perfect ending to his works, Jordan’s epic tale of Aes Sedai and the Dragon Reborn would just be a sad unfinished tale that started off with more promise than it was able to deliver. The first book in the series was very well written. Some of the later books start to drag. But overall, worth the time it takes to read them all.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/228665.The_Eye_of_the_World

6. Kurtz, Katherine. Deryni Rising.
I’m always surprised when I find that Kurtz’s work isn’t better known among fantasy readers. She does an excellent job of depicting an alternative low-magic medieval world, in which a psionic race (the Deryni) play a prominent role. It you want your fantasy to be less fantastic and more realistic, this is a good read. Unlike my other recommendations, I’ve named the first published book as the representative of the series. If you want to read them in timeline order,

start with Camber of Culdi. Yep. That’s where I take my username from. That’s how much I love it.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/537124.Deryni_Rising

7. McClellan, Brian. Promise of Blood.
Gunpowder plus magic. Awesome. The setting is kind of Napoleonic in its cultural feel. So much later than what I’m used to in fantasy novels. But wow, very well-written, and very exciting. These are fairly recent, so they don’t have many fans yet. But they are gems.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15790883-promise-of-blood

8. Kowal, Mary Robinette. Shades of Milk and Honey.
When my wife saw me reading Kowal’s books, she thought I was reading some trashy romance novel. I can see how the cover art might suggest that. But these definitely aren’t silly romances. The side of me that enjoys classic literature like Jane Eyre, Lorna Doone, or Pride and Prejudice, really appreciated Kowal’s creation of a fantasy magic inserted into the time and culture of Jane Austen, at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Where the powder mage trilogy of McClellan is filled with blood and action, Kowal’s novels appeal to my more feminine side. The magic is nearly 100% illusion-based, and the setting is mostly English high society. Be forewarned, this isn’t for everyone. But I look forward to each of her novels, and hope she continues writing for many decades.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8697507-shades-of-milk-and-honey

9. Alexander, Lloyd. The Book of Three.
I’d liken this to LotR for younger audiences. If you ever watched The Black Cauldron, this is the first book in that series. Well-written and accessible for all ages 10 and up.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24780.The_Book_of_Three

10. Brooks, Terry. Running with the Demon.
If you want to get into Terry Brooks’ immense body of work, I’d recommend starting chronologically, not by date of publication, but instead by timeline. I’m impressed at how he got from the modern world to the fantasy of Shannara. I’d also recommend Magic Kingdom for Sale – Sold!
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/187124.Running_with_the_Demon

11. Modesitt, L.E. Jr. The Magic of Recluse.
Modesitt has several series, but this is the better of them. If you want to read them in chronological order, start with Fall of Angels. One thing I like about his works are that they pit order mages against chaos mages, but avoid painting one as good and the other evil. Each side believes they are the good guys, and he switches back and forth in showing us their perspectives (not within the same novel, thankfully). His Soprano Sorceress series is also quite good.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/185253.The_Magic_of_Recluce

12. Hambly, Barbara. Dragonsbane.
Hambly is one of the better older fantasy authors. Between Tolkien and the 80’s, there was a lot of junk written. Hambly stands out as an exception. I’d also recommend her book The Ladies of Mandrigan for the same reason. Unlike most of my recommendations, I’d recommend both of these as standalone books (though Dragonsbane is part of a series called Winterlands).
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/176268.Dragonsbane

13. Sanderson, Brandon. The Final Empire.
Several of Sanderson’s works deserve an honorable mention. The Mistborn series is particularly impressive for its inventive magic system. Warbreaker and Elantris also deserve mention for the same reason. The Mistborn series have more of a post-medieval feel, and they’re darker than what I usually enjoy, but very well written. There is a second trilogy in the series that takes place several hundred years later that’s Wild West fantasy. And a futuristic one is in the works. I also love the premise – a hero is destined to save the wold. But instead, he defies the prophesy and uses the ultimate power that would save the world, to instead conquer it and rule for 1000 years as its godlike overlord. Now, against all odds, a band of rogues attempts the ultimate heist – to rob him of his wealth and perhaps even overthrow the Lord Ruler.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/68428.The_Final_Empire

14. Card, Orson Scott. Seventh Son.
I actually prefer Ender’s Game (it would rank 3rd on my list), but since this is a fantasy list, I would give Card’s first volume in the Tales of Alvin Maker an honorable mention. I hope he finishes the series, but since he’s already said that the main character will die in the end, I’m not too eager. It seems Card isn’t either. Also recommended by him: Enchantment, Pastwatch, The Folk of the Fringe, Pathfinder (no, it doesn’t have anything to do with the game), and The Gate Thief. Card is one of the few authors I would trust with my time no matter what he writes. I’ve read enough of his work to find that he’ll only write about characters that he cares about, and that he’ll quickly make you care about as a reader. He also understands what greatness of heart is, and is able to depict it well enough to move me to tears in nearly every one of his books.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40290.Seventh_Son

15. Smith, Sherwood. Inda.
A tale of a nobleborn boy who excels in battle and gets caught up with pirates. There’s more to it, but hopefully that will get you interested enough to try out this series.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/222837.Inda

16.Lynch, Scott. The Lies of Locke Lamora.
This was recommended heavily to me as a fan of Patrick Rothfuss. It turned out to be more violent than I’d prefer, but I can see why people like Lynch’s work. Darker than my usual tastes. If you like rogues, you’ll like Locke Lamora.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29588376-the-lies-of-locke-lamora

17. Pierce, Tamora. Terrier.
This is the Beka Cooper series of the story of a young female rogue. The Alanna series, of a young female knight, is also satisfying. I thought they were good, but they are the all-time favorites of my eldest daughter, so they deserve mention.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13829.Terrier

18. McKillip, Patricia. Riddle-Master of Hed.
These deserve mention as a bardic epic tale. I actually preferred McKillip’s short story, The Throme of the Erril of Sherill, but that is almost impossible to find.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/92755.The_Riddle_Master_of_Hed

19. Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
I suppose I shouldn’t leave Rowling out, even though she almost seems cliche. I enjoyed her work, but I wouldn’t return to it unless I was reading it with one of my children.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3.Harry_Potter_and_the_Sorcerer_s_Stone

20. Mull, Brandon. A World Without Heroes.
Beyonders is a short trilogy that went well, kept me interested, and that was recommended by my kids. Not as overloved as Harry Potter, and you’ll feel less embarrassed admitting you’ve read it. Mull has other series, such as Fablehaven and The Five Kingdoms, that are also well-written (all for YA audiences).
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8306745-a-world-without-heroes

The unholiest of matrimonies

The rain had been falling for weeks at Sithus Castle. The constant downpour made the ground turn into an almost liquid surface of mud and gravel. The moss that clung to the stonework of the castle smelt of death and decay. Lightning painted the sky like a gnarled hand grasping for the highest tower. The thunder soon followed like a cackling laugh to anyone that heard it. The castle itself seemed to have an aura of death around it like a moth to a flame. This would not be the ideal setting for a wedding in anyone’s eyes, but for this couple it was like heaven. Well…more like hell on Earth. It would be the perfect setting for the beginning of end.

At the walkway leading to the highest tower, the shadow of a skeletal griffon could be seen against the bright light of the lightning waiting for it’s rider. A few moment’s later, a figure emerged from behind the lone door leading inside and mounted the griffin with a roll of decerped paper in hand. A sinister grin spread across their face as they commanded the griffin to fly up into the deathly storm. They had finally received the order to announce the most unholy of matrimonies to all of the unsuspecting victims of this world. It was time to finally cause some pure, unadulterated chaos. No matter what these people did to try and stop it, it would be too late for them to really make a difference. The rider began to fly towards each major city in this country repeating the same decree with a bellowing voice.

“Oh citizens of this world. Your world has been graciously chosen to bear witness to the most unholy of matrimonies. It has come to fruition that the Undying King Vecna will soon wed Kiaransalee, the Lady of the Dead. Their union will bring your world to an end. All of the royal houses are cordially invited to Sithus Castle to bear witness to the end of your world. There will even be a seat specially reserved for your Empress. Please dress to impress.”

The last few words of the decree were said with a jeering laugh as the unseen rider continued to deliver M’kal’s unfortunate fate.

This message rang out through the sky for days as each city began to question if this was true. They sought out answers from their city officials, village leaders, druids, priests and priestesses alike, and even some of the criminal circles. Panic was starting to arise in the streets as the rumors of the Undying King and the Lady of Death herself ravaging their homeland began to spread like wildfire.

On a clear night a few days after the decree began to spread, the Empress of M’Kal was sitting at her desk in her office looking at all of the plea’s for answers from her people. She rubbed her fingers across her temples in frustration. Why M’Kal? What can she do? How can she save her people? Questions like this raced through her mind as a sudden icy cold wind blew all of her papers across the floor. She stood up from her chair and turned towards the door leading to wards the balcony in her office with a scowl etched across her face. A spectral being stood before her with a letter in hand.

“From my master. I am here to send his personal regards.” The voice would send any other weak minded person into a petrified fright, but the Empress stood there quietly. She didn’t move a muscle as the specter floated towards her desk and dropped a sealed envelope on the now empty surface. The wax was the color of poison and the design was undisputedly Vecna’s. The specter vanished out of the room as fast at it appeared. The Empress let out a fearful sigh as she reached for the letter, carefully opening the seal.

‘Empress Calmita,

You are cordially invited to be front and center to witness the end of everything that you hold dear. Are you having fun with my little Ravager pets? Those are just the beginning. Once I arrive with my bride to be in one months time, chaos in the truest form of the world will follow. I shall be bringing more of my children along with us to Sithus Castle. Please attempt to prepare accordingly. ‘

The Empress read the letter over and over as she sat back down at her desk. There had to be something that could be done about this. She would not let this be the end of her people. There was no way that Empress Calmita would be remembered as the Empress that just let her people die.

Re-invasion of board game pieces

Re-invasion of……board game pieces?

Outside of each and every one of the 50 cities in M’Kal there is a battle taking place between, of all things, Chess Pieces. There are nine teams of these chess pieces. Each team is a complete set to begin with.

These creatures are, by their own claims, the original owners of the cities on this continent, having left several thousand years ago, well before the first explorers arrived. Their entire race have been traveling other planes for the last few millennia, and are now returning to reclaim what is theirs.

These creatures will attempt to capture people on the roads near the cities for interrogation. Those that do not put up a fight are simply captured, questioned, and released. Those that put up a significant fight will be struck down.

There are 9 groups, in 9 different colors. Colors correspond with their alignment. Each and every one of these creatures has a permanent ability to see the alignment of any creature they look at. Anybody masked against such things as see alignment or detect alignment will appear as True Neutral to them. When they look upon another creature they will see that creature as being colored according to the same alignment rules they are colored by.

Lawful Neutral Chaotic
Good White Yellow Pink
Neutral Brown Green blue
Evil Purple Red Black

These creatures believe in absolutes. Those that are of a different alignment are enemies. Those that are of the same alignment are allies. No amount of mundane conversation will change their opinion on this.

For DMs, these creatures can be found in Dragon Magazine 358. More information will be released about these creatures in the near future. If your party attempts to capture/question one of these creatures before then, render them unconscious until I can put the information in your hands.

LOOT!

LOOT! We all love loot right? But how does loot work?

There are eight schools of thought(That I know of) on handing out loot; micro-preplanning, pre-rolling, delayed micro-preplanning, delayed pre-rolling, deadlining, and destiny drops, Vidya game loot sploders, and what’s up my butt?

Micro-preplanning is the school of thought for DMs that are strict on details and have every encounter planned out to the T before the players ever get within 10 miles of the encounter. This means you know an encounter will have 5 goblins, and you know that such an encounter should have 793 gold and 2 silver worth of loot so you prebuild each goblins loadout down to the last bolt to make sure if the party does a full cavity search on all five goblins they will get exactly 793 gold and 2 silver worth of loot, minus what ever is broke during the course of the fight such as potions, bolts, javelins, or what ever else might break.

Pre-rolling is fairly less strict, it involves encoutners being preplanned but extra loot aside from the creature’s primary gear being rolled for on various loot tables. This results in more diverse and more unpredictable play. After all, that CR 1/2 goblin can end up with a +1 sword now. Or a minor wondrous item. These random loot options leads to a possible change in the creature’s behavior as they now have an unusual asset available. It gives the player’s something extra to think about. Why does this goblin have a +1 sword? Goblins can’t make such things… can they? They are just mook. They should not eb able to think or learn or do special things right? Or a wand of magic missile?! This leads to flavor. It also sometimes leads to danger. Might mean you can’t take your own rolls as law. May need to reroll or.. just pick something other than what the dice say. All creatures have a part of their statblock called ‘Treasure’ which suggests how much you should roll for them, or how you should split things up if you are purchasing for them.

Delayed micro-preplanning. Much like micro-preplanning this means buying all the items by hand to make sure the encounter has all the loot it should, but with a twist. You slide the strictly planned loot back 1 encounter. So if your party fights 5 CR 1/2 dire rats, they get no loot. Rats have no pockets. So that 793.2 gold the rats should have dropped, goes onto the next encoutner which may be the goblins. Then the loot the goblins should have dropped goes to the next encoutner, and so on for the duration of the quest. Then.. the big loot pile that should have been on the boss instead is given to the party by the benefactor when they go turn the quest in. If any creatures from earlier fights escape, then you just deduct that portion of the loot from the next fight.

Delayed pre-rolling as you may expect at this point, is rolling for loot but pushing it all back 1 encounter.

Deadlining is perhaps one of the more frustrating ones but it sort of fits with the ‘lazy rules lawyer’ type of DM or the one that lives by the mentality of trying to cram at the last minute. In the DMG there is a table that shows what the expected wealth of a player is. This is what the value of their total ownership should be by the time they begin that level. So lets say that the expected wealth of a level 2 player is 4,000 gold. It’s not. Check the table yourself. But for this example.. that means the DM needs to make sure that before that player dings they have that much stuff. That includes the market value of all their gear, as well as their liquid cash, and adventuring supplies. This style of generating loot tends to lend itself to the DM having out very little loot along the way, then suddenly right at the boss fight trying to rush to do the math to see what the smallest amount of loot the DM can crap into your hands to make sure you have that 4,000 gold worth of stuff when you ding from the boss fight.

Destiny drops is one of the more pandering options. This is when the DM looks down a character’s sheet, and sees an out of date item that needs upgraded, then purposefully makes sure that exact upgrade ends up in the next loot pile. While this is not a bad thing it does begin to feel transparent if it happens a lot. The players will also learn (and exploit the fact)that if they complain about a weak item enough they will get an upgrade for it automatically.

Vidya game loot sploders is when the DM rolls for the loot after the party defeats the encounter. This gets it’s name because it follows video game logic, or lack of logic. Fight that wolf and.. it drops a +2 flaming sword? Where did it keep the sword? Why did it have a sword? Or that goblin drops a Sword of Three Wishes.. a very powerful magic item. But it didn’t have a long sword when we were fighting it. Why wasn’t it using it’s best weapon? Why was it using trash when fighting for it’s very life? That could have saved it’s entire tribe from being wiped out. That orc had a necklace of fireballs… why did it never use that? or it’s 17 potions.. Or the archer with 4 arrows of greater slaying for the exact race the party is made up of. It’s good loot, nice drops… but it rapidly will slap the players right out of any measure of immersion if they are pulling magic items off of creatures that didn’t have magic items until the moment they died. By the counter point, if you try to loot a mob and you have to constantly slap the DM to remind them that THIS THING JUST STABBED ME WITH A SWORD I WANT THAT SWORD because the DM is forgetting that the weapons it was swinging is legit loot too.

What’s up my butt is a style of loot generation where the DM just.. hand waves loot. You ask what the creature has because you are searching it. Your DM then makes a zombie noise ” uuuuhhhhhh braaaains… err I mean.. five gold. ” If you fight 17 goblins and they all have exactly 5 gold each.. That’s a sign the DM is pulling it out of their butt. The mobs have no flavor, they are just XP bicsuits with just enough gold to shut you up.

Of course, I do realize that the point table do tamper with some DM’s plans. But they are there to increase player engagement, to grant the players an extra layer of interaction with the world and such. Still, this post isn’t intended to call anyone out. This is food for thought. Chew it. Try it. Make joy.

Path to the Divine

For those planning to bring their characters far enough to become divine beings, to become deities, you may wish to know of this.

Rank 0: Quasi-Diety

Typically the results of having one deity parent and one mortal parent

Levels are as PC

Will have an extra +10 in 1-3 stats depending up their parent diety

May have other supernatural abilities based on what or who their parent deity is.

Creatures of this rank are sometimes called quasi-deities or hero deities. Creatures that have a mortal and a deity as parents also fall into this category. These entities cannot grant spells, but are immortal and usually have one or more ability scores that are far above the norm for their species. They may have some worshipers. Ordinary mortals do not have a divine rank of 0. They lack a divine rank altogether.

Rank 0-1: Petitioner

Level 40

Must control 1 domain

May have 1 chosen

Chose Template is +1 max by Savage Species rules

Rank 1-5: Demigods

Level 50

Must control 2 domains

May have 1 chosen

Chosen template is +2 by Savage Species Rules

These entities, called demigods, are the weakest of the deities. A demigod can grant spells and perform a few deeds that are beyond mortal limits. A demigod has anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand devoted mortal worshipers and may receive veneration or respect from many more. A demigod controls a small godly realm (usually on an Outer Plane) and has minor control over a portfolio that includes one or more aspects of mortal existence. A demigod might be very accomplished in a single skill or a group of related skills, gain combat advantages in special circumstances, or be able to bring about minor changes in reality itself related to the portfolio.

Rankl 6-10: Lesser Deities

Level 60

Must control 3 domains

May have 2 Chosen

Chosen Template is +3

Called lesser deities, these entities grant spells and can perform more powerful deeds than demigods can. Lesser deities have anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands of worshipers and control larger godly realms than demigods. They also have keener senses where their portfolios are concerned.

Rank 11-15: Intermediate Deities

Level 70

Must control 4 Domains

May have 5 Chosen

Chosen Template is +5

These entities are called intermediate deities. They have hundreds of thousands of mortal worshipers and control larger godly realms than demigods or lesser deities.

Rank 16-20: Greater Deities

Level 80

Must control 5 domains

May have 10 chosen

Chosen Template is +7

Called greater deities, these entities may have millions of mortal worshipers, and they command respect even among other deities. The most powerful of greater deities rule over other deities just as mortal sovereigns rule over commoners.

Rank 21+: Overdeities

These entities are beyond the ken of mortals and care nothing for worshipers. They do not grant spells, do not answer prayers, and do not respond to queries. If they are known at all, it is to a handful of scholars on the Material Plane. They are called overdeities. In some pantheistic systems, the consent of an overdeity is required to become a god.

Some flaw inspiration

So, one of our players took a flaw from dandwiki that was more debilitating than flaw rules says it should be. So they wanted to change their flaw. I agreed, but they had to ‘pay’ for it by coming up with a list of 10 flaws we could put here for inspiration to others. These flaws have not been approved by any DMs at this time so don’t take this as any sort of official homebrew for M’Kal. Take this as a spark to help you creatively come up with your own.

 

Weak

When you hit, you often do not hit as hard as you otherwise would, resulting in less damage.

Effect

You deal -2 damage with all attacks.

Mute

You cannot speak. As a result, people find you less threatening and harder to take you seriously.

Effect

You take -4 to Intimidate and Bluff checks.

Blind

You cannot see.

Effect

You are permanently under the Blinded condition.

Deaf

You cannot hear anything.

Effect

You are permanently under the Deafened condition.

Restless

Even on your best days, you are tired.

Effect

You are permanently under the Fatigued condition.

Slow to Start

In combat, you are like the sloth. Slow to respond and you often get punished for it.

Effect

You always suffer from the Flat-Footed condition the first round of combat. This affect wears off on your second turn. You also suffer from a -2 to initiative checks.

Cowardly

You tend to be less brave than most and take whatever measures necessary to avoid combat.

Effect

You are permanently under the Frightened condition in combat. Outside of combat, you are otherwise normal.

Headstrong

You love to fight perhaps a little too much, to the point you don’t know when you’re in over your head.

Effect

You will not pass up the chance to get into a fight and are constantly in Heartened morale. Take a -4 to Diplomacy and you get a +10 bonus on all morale checks. If you ever fail a morale check, you drop immediately to Crazed (Berserk) status. You also will never run from battle; you would rather die than run.

ADHD

You are easily distracted. As a result, your focus wavers inevitably.

Effect

You take a -1 penalty to all skill checks, attack rolls, initiative, and armor class. You also cannot take 10 on any skill checks.

Discriminant

You are an insufferable prick who thinks anyone different is trash.

Effect

Take -4 to all Charisma-based checks with anyone who falls into the category you discriminate against. You decide the way you disciminate against others from the following list:

Origin – Where the person originates from

Heritage – Their family history

Classist – Whether they are noble or commoner

Profession – Whether their work is respectable or not

Creed – If they have class levels, whether you approve of their chosen class or not

Gender – You hate everyone of the opposite gender. And anyone who relates to them.

Race – Are they your race? Then you’re fine with them. If not, screw them.

Age – You are prejudiced against people in a different age group from yourself

FUBAR – You just hate everyone. Your mother must be proud.

Knight of the Golden Dragon

A class I worked on a long time ago. This was intended to be available only to those that serve as the elites of the Empress. I ended up getting depressed how little interest there was in being one of the Empress’s elites so I never did finish the class. Chances are these days the class would end up region locked if I were to finish it, so perhaps it’s best I never did ehh?

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