Where’s Judd?

These are the places you can regularly hear and/or see me talking about gaming or doing the thing and streaming some play. Links are both in the pictures and in the text beneath.

Here’s the link where I store my links.

I’ll update this as more comes up.


The logo for my podcast, Daydreaming about Dragons

In which I have a conversation with you about techniques that are shaking out at the tables where I sit and inspirational media.

Daydreaming about Dragons Podcast


In which Jason and I discuss the Trophy RPG and in doing so end up talking about game culture and techniques that link up to all kinds of tabletop RPG’s.

The Sixth Ring, a Trophy Podcast


I’m often gaming on the Actual Play twitchstream channel.

My first time getting back to Marr’d since I playtested the Dictionary of Mu almost 2 decades ago.



Inspired by our friend, Morgan Ellis’ character that he never got to play, we’re playing something Traveller-ish.

I’ve been honored to play so much on the Actual Play channel, a place where I’ve made wonderful friends and played wondrous games.


Want a t-shirt?

Click here.

Insight in D&D

NOTE: Trusted friends told me my math was off. Hence the crossed off numbers. This is a work in progress.


Your character meets an NPC and you don’t trust them, not one bit. They are hiding something but you aren’t sure what. Roll the dice, then role-play a bit and step out of character to ask the DM questions as they occur to you or role-play through and ask the questions at the end.

DC 5 – a little detail, if you are going against a skilled liar and they rolled better than you, it might be something planted to lead you the wrong way. The DM can ask 1-2 questions to get information that the NPC has picked up about you.

DC 10 7 – Ask the DM one question about the NPC you are evaluating but the DM may ask you a question because the NPC gets a read on you too.

DC 15 12 – Ask the DM one question about the NPC you are evaluating.

DC 20 17 – Ask the DM two questions about the NPC you are evaluating.

DC 25 22 – Ask the DM three questions about the NPC you are evaluating.

DC 30 27 – Ask the DM three questions about the NPC you are evaluating and they will tell you any remarkable statistics.

The questions should be things Sherlock Holmes could pick up about a suspect. The DM might ask you how you picked up such information from your interaction with the NPC; feel free to make up cool shit about how your character picked that up.

An opposed Deception roll can add to the DC and/or let the NPC pick up details on the character trying to learn about them. (NOTE: A trusted friend says this opposed roll will make this endeavor all but mathematically impossible. Noting this here while we discuss it).

From Matt Weber:

So, here’s the deal. By RAW, to make an Insight check against an NPC, you roll their Deception against the PC’s Insight. Many GMs will also just use the NPC’s Passive Deception, which is 10+(whatever their modifier is). Either way is valid, but that of course is using a binary pass / fail model, rather than your more interesting gradations.

If you have a set DC *and* the NPC gets to add their entire roll to that DC, that’s “double dipping” because fixed DCs are essentially supposed to replace a roll of the d20+(skill mod). Many NPCs don’t have much in the way of Deception, it’s true, but those that are trained in it could easily have +9 or higher.

When the dice hit the table, the status quo is going to be upended, tables will be flipped and secrets will be spilled.

Inspired by Apocalypse World moves.

Check out these designs and more at my shop…

Landing in the Lost City of Omu

After 4 sessions in Tomb of Annihilation adventure, the players landed their pterodactyls in the Lost City of Omu. 1 session was getting to Port Nyanzaru, another couple of sessions shopping and dinosaur racing in the city and another flying pterodactyls across Chult.

This is our second session have switching over to 5e. The party just got to 3rd level.

  • They decided to land on a pillar of land above the lava, hoping that the lack of easy access would keep them safe.

    Their Gnome-inventor friend, Dosk, is setting up her equipment to see if she can figure out exactly where the Soulmonger is pulling the ghosts.

  • “I am going to use the Gem of True Seeing to make sure no invisible wizards fly in and sneak up on us,” Kuru said, right before a pair of Red Wizards tried to fly in invisible and take stock of them. Contact was made and the group was invited to the Red Wizards’ wreckage of a camp.

  • Jusko was worried about the letter of introduction Vandrilla Shadowmantle gave them to give to the Red Wizards, worried they might get Rosencrantz-&-Guildenstern’d.

    Kuru removed the wax seal and Bugwump read the letter in ancient Mulhandori. It was legit, no coded kill-orders.

  • They split the party – Failed Soldier (Corpseflea Cleric of the Grave) and Trundle (Dwarven Ranger) looked into the Godroad entrance near the shrine to an ancient Omu God while Jusko (Human Fighter) and Bugwump (Frog-kin Wizard) took Pterodactyls to make contact with the Red Wizards.

  • Kuru remained at camp with the guides and the remaining steeds, using his spyglass to keep track of things.

  • The camp was a mess, having just survived a Yuan-ti attack. Bugwump corrected their assessment of the Yuan-ti as “snake people” repeatedly. Jusko invited the Red Wizards to dinner at their place that night.

  • Failed Soldier and Trundle looked at the local Godroads, making contact with an ancient Omuan deity who Trundle took into his flesh for the power of Invisibility.

    They could see the other shrines to the other Omuan deities and some fell shrines in a temple complex that would turn out to be run by the Yuan-ti.

  • On their way home, Jusko and Bugwump are hit by a flurry of arrows from Yuan-ti scouts who were watching their approach. The archers targeted their pterodactyls, killing one.

    Jusko and Bugwump wade in and drive 3 of the 5 scouts away with spell and steel.

  • Kuru sees something moving towards Jusko and Bugwump from the north of the city.

    The Queen of Feathers, a legendary t-rex with a beautiful ridge of black and blue feathers, attracted to the sounds of dying pterodactyls is making her way south. It has a sword stuck in it skull, flesh and bone healed over it, from someone who tried to kill her and failed.

  • Next game will begin with Yuan-ti, Red Wizards, Queen of Feathers and a few new faces colliding as Trundle and Failed Soldier enter the fray from a nearby shrine-door from the Godroads.

The amount of hit points things have in 5e is shocking to me after months of 5 Torches Deep. I’m wondering if an E5 hack would be the way to go. I’ll give 5e a go for a while.

I think I got distracted by the combat and maybe didn’t split up the spotlight time as well as I should’ve. Something to watch out for in the future.

Using the Bingo Style Experience Points, we started the game writing up the outer ring of the Bingo Board. Bingo chips can be taken off the board to be used as Inspiration.

The covered squares from this session are: Discovered Secret Lore, Earned the Trust of a Wondrous Ally, Added a New Detail to the Map, Built a Bridge (relations with the Red Wizards).

After reading over the full Tomb of the Nine Gods, I’m trimming that dungeon way, way back. More on that later…

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/collections/tabletop-role-playing-games

See this design and more in the Tabletop Role-playing Game Collection…

Character Creation GMing

Once upon a time in Innistrad there was a werewolf…

Lots of talk about funny voices, world building, narrative decisions and encounter design but I rarely see folks talk about the skill behind GMing during character creation. It is a subtle thing and if done right can solve or uncover 99% of other problems that might have hit the table down the road.

I was chatting with a good friend, Tom, on twitter because I know he’s hungry to game and is a Magic the Gathering fan. I asked him a question because I thought he’d enjoy it. The conversation is an interesting way to dissect what would have happened in 2 minutes at the table but is slowed down in amber on the twitter.

I chose Innistrad because of Tom’s link to Magic the Gathering; I know he’d know the lore. I chose D&D because I know that is a game he’s familiar with and likes. Going to switch to screen shots.

Tom: Werewolf Shaman.

Tom: I was thinking in terms of Magic creature types. In DnD terms, that’s probably a human druid werewolf.

I jumped into the Innistrad pdf but didn’t read it too carefully – no need to just yet. Skimmed for werewolf material. You can see the details I found in my skim below:

Judd: Solo hunter or park of a howlpack? In doomed love with a Stromkirk vampire (name chosen because it was the ony I liked the sound of)? Mother heads up a witch coven?

Now I’m on the hunt. I want some Situation. In Sorcerer terms, I’m looking for something kickerish, somewhere to start the game that has…if you’ll forgive the pun…teeth.

Tom bites:

Tom: Solo. More comfortable alone in the wilderness than with a pack. No. Detests vampires and other unnatural undead things. Mother and father both minor Thraben nobility/knights who morn their “missing” son.

He shrugged off my first two attempts to find a handhold on this character and then hands me the campaign in the third sentence. I have no idea what Thraben means and didn’t need it to get started. I’ll do the deeper lore reads later. I would’ve dug into it more if I didn’t feel like I had enough.

I felt like I had enough.

First game/first scene – You wake up having devoured a noble entourage. They were on their way to your ancestral home, upon closer inspection they were on their way to a wedding, the name on the wedding invitation is yours. How is that possible?

I have no idea what any of this means yet. I will know what is afoot before we begin play. I’d think that the answer will be inspired by lore. Not only do I have the free pdf but I bet I can find Innistrad-related cards and their bite-sized lore chunks online. That stuff is perfect for us. I’ve gotten to this point and had a lukewarm response or found that I had setting assumptions that the player didn’t have. It happens and it means I have to circle back or toss an idea into the scrap-heap or ask questions to figure out what is wrong,

Sometimes the whole concept is wrong or it is too much like something they just played or too close to real trauma or brushes against a trope they detest. It happens; that is why this stage is about questions and brainstorming – fast and furious – and not deep lore dives or heavy labor just yet.

Not this time, though.

Tom: OK! I’m in. When we playing? Who is actually getting married? Do I recognize the names? I also want to search the remaining belongings very carefully for clues.

Hell yeah. This is where I had to make the shitty adult communication that with everything going on in my life, I don’t think I’ll have a moment for a new game until autumn but the good news is we have a game ready to roll and if I visit NJ, we know what we can do should we meet up and have an afternoon together.

Ask questions, act on the answers, listen, empathize, expand and know when to STOP. Don’t give it all away during character creation. Save something for play.

This kind of collaboration makes the game much easier to run and heads off problems before they occur. It is not necessary for every game. With some games the players randomly generate a character and jump into play with both feet but even then I take a moment and just ask a few questions.

Questions and comments welcome. How do you deal with character creation?

Bingo Style Experience Points after a few months of leveling up

Bingo Style Experience Points after a few months of leveling up

We’ve been using the Bingo Style Experience Points (LINK TO FIRST POST) for a few months now. The last character just hit 3rd level. The we we’ve done it is when we hit a bingo-row/column/diagonal the group gets a level to hand out to whichever character they decide. I can see different ways to do this.

Row/Column/Diagonal = Single Level

I like the table deciding where each level goes. I haven’t seen it create bad feelings but I could see how it might if there are other problems afoot at the table. It might even create problems, which is the last thing I want.

I realize that asymmetric level advancement vexes some folks. They might very well be right and if so, I’ll move things around. For now, I dig it and it stays. If anything, I might lean into that a bit, see how far we can go before the game breaks.

I think I am going to have the levels be able to go to other things – leveling up hirelings, pets and maybe an HQ. Something to consider for later…

The group makes the decision about who gets the level for reasons both narrative and strategic. Sometimes it is, “Level up the cleric and the wizard first,” thinking about artillery and healing and sometimes the conversation goes, “Helewyn clearly just learned something; she should get the level tonight…” and the level is doled out because it makes narrative sense. Other times it is pragmatic, “Is anyone still 2nd level?” I like this blend.

Sometimes we keep track of things as they happen. Other times we go over it after a scene or at a good resting spot. Some sessions folks tinker with it during a break. There have been days we’ve forgotten about it and gone back to it at the end of the session. It can be as intrusive or background as you want and still work.

I use the jamboard where we keep it as a place to store NPC names, maps and art. Players use it as a spot for character art.

Row = Party Level

Alright, everyone gets a level every time you get a row. Maybe there is a way to write the bingo squares so they are not so easy to reach. If we did it that way the party would be 20th level rather than 3rd.

Maybe add another layer of squares? Otherwise it would go too fast. Maybe only one level per session? I don’t think we hit a level every session but sometimes we hit more than one or two right at the same time. Something to work on and consider.

Clear the Board

I wasn’t sure when to clear the board and then it became very clear – whenever hits a level, we clear it. Everyone’s 2nd level…clear it. Everyone’s 3rd level…clear it.

We’d have to figure out a different time if we played a strange rule-breaking game in which a group of 1st level characters dump all of the levels into one character, who is said to be their demi-god.

“Judd, that wouldn’t work!”

I know. I want to do it anyway. It is just so strange to have a party trying to elevate one character to godhood.

Bingo Squares

I’m figuring out how to put to words what makes for a good bingo square.

Build a Bridge

Plant a Seed

Both could be literal or metaphorical and it gets us to watch out for play in which these things happen. I don’t have proof but I feel like this style of experience encourages players to pay attention, looking for their friends to do cool things.

Then there simple and literal ones that gets everyone looking for opportunities:

Spring a trap on a mighty foe

Use a mundane item as a weapon

Dress up a your enemy to gain access to a forbidden place

And sometimes going into a particular mission inspires one. When the players were going to a Faery Ball we had:

Ask someone dangerous to dance

In the week before we play, if we’ve just cleared the board, we have a thread where we share ideas. Before we start I make sure no one had an idea that isn’t represented. I add some in too. Sometimes I use what I know of the upcoming adventure but often I have no idea how the group is going to attack a problem. I never know if they are going to use dynamite or diplomacy (and I wouldn’t have it any other way).

I’ve tried to keep the 3 Pillars in mind: Exploration, Social Interaction, Combat.

Last house-rule we use now – A bingo chip can be spent off the board as Inspiration. I choose the chip. I wouldn’t necessarily want players spending a chip on a square they were accomplishing with that roll. I’d want the chip to mean some kind of sacrifice.

If we hit the same bingo square twice, could we put two chips on that square and use one for Inspiration while still having a chip on that square? Something to consider…

If you use the Bingo XP Variant, please let me know. I’d love to hear the glories and challenges you experience with it at the table.

Thank you to the Thursday night crew that has been gaming regularly since the first days of the pandemic. And thanks to Aaron for talking D&D with me.

If you want a Bingo Board of your own, you can print one out from the pdf’s or png files above OR you can buy one from my Threadless shop. All Artist’s Proceeds go to the Trans Lifeline and Threadless throws in a bit more.

You can get a beach towel, a blanket, or a bag or a big sticker that you could put on a small whiteboard – something new on the table as face-to-face gaming returns.

Check it out.

Bugwump’s Gift to the D.M.

SPOILER! We are playing Tomb of Annihilation and this post will spoil some secrets concerning the Heart of Ubtao encounter. If that doesn’t matter to you – READ ON. If you want to play that module and don’t want to know the secrets behind it, maybe come back to this later.

My friend, John, is playing Bugwump – a frog-kin wizard.

The team’s back-story is that they were all sentenced to the Maze by the Lady of Pain; I didn’t choose that but it seemed to gel everyone together and gave them a timeless period where they were all together. Now they are deputized by the Lady of Pain as an Outlands Expedition Team.

John mentioned that before the Lady of Pain sentenced him, he had been a powerful wizard, high-level (as the D&D folks say). So, when they met an Arch-Mage on the Godroads, it occurred to me to ask John if Bugwump knew this guy and he did. It was a cool encounter – reminded me of running into an old college buddy on a day when you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything. Suddenly, a strange moment – encountering an Arch-Mage on the Godroads – became very relatable.

Enter this odd encounter in the Tomb of Annihilation – The Heart of Ubtao.

The Heart is this magically floating mote of earth, about the size of 3 cottages. Valindra Shadomantle is there, an agent working for the Red Wizards. Though a powerful necromancer, she isn’t a Red Wizard herself. The big secret is that she is a lich.

As I read the encounter, I realized Bugwump might know her. The Arch-mage on the Godroads felt like running into an old buddy from school. Valindra was going to feel like…

…holy shit, Bugwump dated her, didn’t he? I asked.

John agreed. I mentioned that when they were together she’d take consulting work from anyone. She had helped liches hide their phylacteries and trapped dungeons and lairs against intruders.

Being Bugwump’s ex gave her this realness. Bugwump was much less scrupulous in his youth. We have seen that change from when we first began the campaign.

Hasn’t everyone dated someone in college who, if they turned out to be undead, you’d say, “Yeah, that scans.”

Through stealth checks the a Gem of True-Seeing the players figured out Valindra’s lichness. Bugwump told her that they’d meet her cohort of Red Wizards and come back to figure out what to do next with whatever Acererak was up to in the Lost City of Omu. He was lying and she knew it but suddenly, it wasn’t about adventurers stealing. It was an ex saying he’d come back when he never was going to come back.

I know that adventurers (particularly, bards) dating monsters is a kind of RPG-twitter cliche. Tonight it made a dangerous and interesting totally unbalanced encounter even more interesting.

Thank you, John, for making interesting choices.

One more interesting moment from that game. The guides were frantically saddling the pterodactyls to get off the earth mote.

Drew’s knight, Jusko, knocked on Valindra’s door. He had a game board that we called Outlands Chess – it is round and the center of the board represents Sigil. You can win by taking the other’s Wizard or by taking Sigil. Valindra won by taking both but Drew’s roll had been higher (he rolled GREAT and she rolled poorly).

He learned about her through play and I let him ask questions about her to see what the game taught him about her character. Love it.

When characters play strategy games I almost never make the die roll about winning; I make it about seeing what you can learn about the person playing.

Sometimes, though, winning is cool.

Next week…

Does our Thursday night D&D group have its own t-shirt? Yeah, we do.

The Library Atop the World

The Library Atop the World, PIC: Turtle with a tower on its back and books on the tower….

A library founded by the most ancient arcane traditions, built around three towers on the peak of the highest mountain in the world, a peak so high it is said to be within an arrow’s shot of heaven. In different eras it has been a school, a sealed archive, a lich’s fortress while undead ravaged the world.

(NOTE: I’d build those three towers around the main spellcasting classes: Sorcerer, WIzard and Warlock. Maybe there are clerics of bookish, arcane deities here to offer support.)


Library Type

Closed Archive. A near-complete collection of the world’s knowledge, librarians are frantically finishing up the collection before the inevitable end of the world.

Public Library. A living and breathing collection that goes out into the world so that wizards and sorcerers and warlocks can make their communities stronger and more informed and new items can be added to reflect the world’s wisdom.

Recovering Academy. Once a thriving wizard’s academy that was destroyed in a brutal battle and closed. Only now the arcane world is ready to open its shelves once again.

Dragon’s Hoard. The dragon that hoarded this information was recently killed and now the purpose of this knowledge is being decided.

Royal Library. A triumvirate of the mightiest monarchs founded this library when the first cities were founded and now the library provides information to the mighty.

New Collection. In the Lich Wars, the liches and almost every Arch-Mage died but their private towers were never penetrated. Their collections are being transported to a site near heaven, ordained by the Gods, to make sure that this kind of arcane war never happens again.

NOTE: This need not be a single choice. One could be where the organization started and where it is headed. Don’t feel like you have to choose just one. Another could be a rival library.


Library Perks

It isn’t often I’d say that I’d use something right out of the book but yeah, the perks on page 85 of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything are excellent. Compensation, Documentation, Research, Resources and Training are nifty.


Library Contact

Tome Ranger. (jaded, worldly, uncompromising) A scarred library champion who has been keeping these collections from falling apart by their own sweat and blood for most of their lives and now manages your team, doing their best to keep you shielded from the politics going on in the towers.

Tower Magic-User. (ambitious, unrealistic, distracted) One of the three on the library’s Arcane Council (Sorcerer, Wizard or Warlock), who due to some odd trick of the org chart is in charge of the ragtag adventuring crew who goes out and does the dirty work.

Ghost. (wise, unmerciful, cunning) With a spirit bound to the library, this ghost is your contact to the senior arcane leadership, having guided teams just like you for decades, maybe centuries.

Clerical Official. (professional, empathic, driven) A member of a holy order from a deity concerning magic, information, books or knowledge, they take on this task that none of the Arcane Council want to deal with – managing adventurers.

Construct. (naive, well-read, supportive) When the three most powerful arcane practitioners in the world had a task they did not want, they did what any powerful mage would do – they built someone to take care of it. Your contact is a construct who was built to protect the library’s collections and oversee its teams.

Young Mage. (squeamish, earnest, egotistical) Full of hope and ambitions for this library, the young mage sees this group’s success as an important part of rising up in the library’s ranks. They took this job so they could do research regarding their obscure side-projects with no real idea what it means to go out and take a book from a necromancer.


Library Staff

Collections | Acolyte, Criminal, Far Traveller, Investigator, Sage

Outreach | Charlatan, Entertainer, Folk Hero, Knight, Noble

Tower Loans | Acolyte, Criminal, Far Traveller, Knight, Soldier

Research Aide | Acolyte, Anthropologist, Archeologist, Courtier, Sage

Rare Manuscript | CLASSIFIED


Library Quests

Item Return. When a manor knight has to return a book on local grains this might be a milk run but when an emperor is nearing the end of their life and a book is late on necromancy – this might get nasty.

Library Delving. New parts of the collection are being unearthed all of the time. When that occurs, your team is the first to deal with any security left behind.

Item Exchange. Sometimes trading copies of scrolls can be as fraught as a peace treaty between warring nations. Pack your knives.

Research Guard. Sometimes sages have to go into dangerous places to get information – from tomb rubbings to drawings of rare creatures. Keep them safe so that others might grow from their expertise.

Apocalypse Response Team. When several tomes come to similar prophecies this team is activated to make sure the world lives another day. Thwart the prophecy and keep the world spinning.

Tower Breaking. When a wizard passes and leaves their collection to the library, you go in first before any other two-bit tomb raiders can get in there and rob the place clean to sell to private collections.


If you liked this or will use it, please consider giving a small donation to your local library. Drop me an email and let me know if you don’t mind.

I had the honor of working for NYPL for six years and watch my friends and colleagues in libraries of all kinds support their communities. The folks who work in those libraries and keep the lights on are super-heroes.

If you want to click and link and give right now, here are a few libraries that are near and dear to my heart.

NYPL

Tompkins County Library

Tomb of Annihilation: Chultan Skies

“Find out why this lich is breaking death on this back-water prime world.”

The group is flying south, following the souls of their first guides, found out to be Zhent spies, being sucked southward by the Soulmonger, Azererak’s creation. A gnome with tech gear allows them to track the spirits.

Activate Indiana Jones travel-red-line!

They are flying on pterodactyls, their guide is a merchant prince’s sister, Tefnek. I rolled a herd of pegasi and so she followed them to a safe valley.

“Pegasi are a safe bet; I like to follow them to find a good place to camp for the night. This valley is solid – a pack of t-rexes cover the southern entrance and some ancient ward I didn’t see on the way in must cover the north.

“In a few days we’ll reach The Heart of Ubtao, a holy site of floating earth where priests once went to have visions. It might be an auspicious place to keep tracking the path the souls are taking.”

Because the FB event needed a cover.

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/designs/thursday-night-delving-club

Made a t-shirt for the Thursday night D&D group.

Outlands Expedition Team

Outlands Expedition Team

Outlands Expedition Team, Deputized by the Lady of Pain, Clerk Ward, Sigil

The Lady of Pain expends most of her energies making sure no one attempts to gain power within Sigil. She has spies and allies in the Outlands and beyond, making sure the planes do not become imbalanced in a way that could spill out across creation and endanger her home – the City of Doors, where gods are banned from entry.

The Outlands Expedition Teams were put together as a way to counter those imbalances and forge friends between Sigil to the planes. When the teams return to Sigil, they sit in a forum, held in a plaza near the community where they live and discuss the outcome of the mission. This allows the community to interrogate the teams their taxed gold supports and allows the varied

Teams are called upon to think outside the box and adapt their approach based on the mission-at-hand but often, an approach rises to the surface.

Team Types

Mazers | A team brought out of the Labyrinth, serving the rest of their sentence in service to the city that imprisoned them.

Spies and Diplomats | Sometimes a more subtle and nuanced approach is necessary.

Watchdogs | Other times you have to cut off the arm to save the body.

Scouts | Some places are so dangerous all the team can do is look, assess and report back.

Scholars and Librarians | The planes, its inhabitants and the way they evolve need to be catalogued.

Mercantile Opportunists | Others see the planar scales as nothing but a way to make some gold.


O.E.T. Perks

Lifestyle

As long as you find your way back to Sigil, you can live a modest lifestyle for free. Your housing is paid for by the city and no one in the City of Doors would force an Expeditioner to pay for a meal or a cup of tea.


Known

In Sigil, if you make a CHA check to find someone, you always roll with Advantage. You are well known in the City of Doors. This Advantage also applies on a mission if the city officials have had time to put assets in place to support the team.


Diversity

Before a mission, city officials will ask anyone who has lived near or studied the forces at work. The team will have access to people who have on-the-ground knowledge of the forces causing or effected by the imbalance.


Gear

Specialty gear can be asked for to help support a mission. Time is often of the the utmost importance but Sigil is a good place to find things.


Portals

The City of Doors has doorways to everywhere and anywhere if you know the right key that opens the right portal. It might take some doing but if an Expeditioner needs to get somewhere, they should be able to get there or somewhere near it if they are willing to get the right elements necessary to make the key the portal demands.


O.E.T. Contact

City Clerk | Official, a bit cold and businesslike but also staking their career on this team’s success or failure.

Retired Expeditioner | Someone who once went out and get things done in the trenches; often opinionated on the best approach for a given mission.

Faction Leader | A philosopher who wants to see their faction’s point of view reflected across the planes.

Labyrinth Priest | A minotaur priest who worships the labryinth, an idea that our choices ring out across the planes and sustain reality.

Box | A Rogue Modron, still dedicated to order and setting the planes just so.

Cynic | They have been in Sigil too long and only see the problems, none of the beauty. Will likely be adopting a doomful philosophy.


Team Roles

Those who try to find a pattern to find the best paths of life and fate that make for a successful Expeditioner or what blend of people from what backgrounds makes for a good team have come up with nothing concrete just yet. Still, factions will argue about it in cafes and taverns all over Sigil.

Basher | Folk Hero, Knight, Marine, Mercenary Veteran, Soldier

Spellslinger | Investigator, Noble, Urchin, Sage, Hermit

Spiv | Charlatan, Criminal, Spy, Gambler, Pirate

Primer | Entertainer, Far Traveler, Folk Hero, Outlander

Kneeler | Acolyte, Cloistered Scholar, Urchin, Sailor, Sage

Greybeard | Archeologist, Cloistered Scholar, Haunted One, Sage, Noble


Academy Quests

No single d6 table will show the breadth and width of the many kinds of imbalances in the Outlands and beyond.

For more on this, check out this blog post if you’d like to see how I do it.

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/356828/Silver-Swords-of-the-Lich-Queen-Inspirational-Tables-for-a-Githyanki-Invasion

Inspirational Tables for your own Githyanki Invasion at the Dungeon Master’s Guild

How to make the forest interesting…

From a thread on DM Academy asking about how to make a forest interesting, moving away from modules.

Wrote a blog post about it, like to read it? Here it goes…

I used to just jot down ideas, knowing that when I covered an 8.5 by 11 piece of paper with names and ideas I usually had a good amount of game time. I’m enjoying tables lately.

Daydream about some cool places, some cool factions, some cool tensions and you can always roll a few if you don’t know what to do. Here’s what I might have in front of me before DMing such a thing:

Places

  1. Serene Glade
  2. Ancient Witch-Tree Coven
  3. Devil Gorge
  4. Ancient Standing Stones
  5. Elf Ruins
  6. Raging River

Factions (roll twice if you want factions fighting – same result might be in-fighting)

  1. Satyrs
  2. Queen’s Elves, returning to lands they left long ago
  3. Witch-Elves, sworn to fell trees, never left
  4. Tieflings (with a keep and small castle town in Devil Gorge)
  5. Gnomes, ply the river
  6. Scattered human nomads, hither and yon

Problems

  1. Something ancient has stirred
  2. One faction’s forces is stalking the other from stealth
  3. One faction’s forces is retreating desperately
  4. Diplomacy among two factions is occurring
  5. One faction is celebrating a holy day
  6. Two factions are trading goods

Encounters do not have to be fights.

And here they are in layout. Sometimes things change from notebook to google doc to layout, which is neat.

Maybe I roll a few times to see what is going on before the game.

The Ancient Witch-Trees, Tieflings twice and a Holy Day.

Maybe a Tiefling assassin squad is waiting to ambush some Witch-elves but some of the Tieflings don’t want to attack them on their holy day, not wanting to upset the Witch-trees.

What are Witch-trees? No idea. I have an idea that their bark looks like bone… Creepy sentient trees…


I rolled the Witch-trees again but got the Satyrs and Gnomes and Factions Trading. Nah, just Satyrs and Gnomes trading on the river – pretty normal. Maybe they are gossiping about seeing some shady looking Tieflings moving toward the Witch-trees.


I’d grab some names for each faction type, maybe daydream about some NPC’s. Name the river. Daydream a bit about the Queen’s Elves and the Witch-Elves and the Tiefling Knight who runs the castle in Devil Gorge.

What do the humans who follow a nomadic path around the forest’s edge think of all this drama?


That is it. That is enough to start. If I need more I can roll and we haven’t even discussed linking the players to this mess.

That is a post for another day.

Make your own! Let me know how it goes at the table.

I’ve got pdf’s with inspirational tables like this over at the DM’s Guild.

Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft and Remove Curse

Lich face!

I’ve been watching lots of reviews about the upcoming Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft and Remove Curse taking away lycanthropy has come up in a few videos.

Here’s my Remove Curse house-rule as I wait for my local book store to get my copy of the new Ravenloft book to me.

“Magic is like language; context is everything.”

– Azalin Rex

When you cast remove curse, your deity will do what it can to help you remove the curse. If you are in the Golden Halls of your God, the curse might be taken away with a glimmer of sunlight. If you are in the mist-shrouded demi-plane of Dread, you might be filled with fell visions concerning what you must do to remove the curse or the sins that led to your curse with no clue as to how to make those wrong-doings right.

In other words…

When you cast remove curse, ask the DM how to remove the curse. The DM will tell you – this might mean they give you a map or a place you are drawn to or a riddle.

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/designs/goth-af

Need a t-shirt for your flesh, sticker for your difference engine or shower curtain to wrap up a corpse?