By - August 27, 2014 - 4 Comments

D&D Next Review Coming… »

Copyright WotC

Copyright WotC, please don’t fireball us.

Zone of Truth style Confession.  Even though we’re a D&D-focused Blog, we here at DungeonMastering honestly had a hard time getting excited about D&D Next/What 4.0?/5th Edition.  Maybe it was weariness of those Edition Wars, or maybe it was the wallet-closing $49.95 MSRP.  Or just the simple fact that everyone already has dozens of unplayed- sometimes even unread- book sitting on their shelves, gathering dust like a Wizard’s library.

But thanks to the distribution centers of Amazon (motto: “This Drone Army won’t build itself.  Yet.”)  it can be had for the much more gamer-realistic $29.95 w/ free Prime Shipping.  When I saw that, I raised an eyebrow that would make Mr. Spock proud & stopped to read the reviews.  Guess what sport fans?  Overwhelmingly positive.  How positive?  Of the 82 people leaving feedback, a Colossal-sized 66 of them are 5-Stars.  8 more are 4-Stars, while 3 are 3-Stars, leaving only a diminutive 5 people didn’t like it.

Five.  My gaming group literally has more people (lucky number 7) in it.

So the book is on it’s way, & once the big brown truck has dropped it off, I intend to curl up in a chair then read it hard cover to hard cover.  After that, I’ll try out some things with my guys & maybe run a 1-shot to test it out.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, anyone more open-minded then we were & already have or even starting played D&D Next?

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By - August 22, 2014 - 3 Comments

On Rewards and Balance »

So I’ve talked a lot about the beginning and end of a campaign, from character and session creation to developing a villain to hate. What I haven’t covered with you is what to do at the end of a campaign. In this article I would like to specifically talk about the inbetween variety of ending. Most of us have been playing long enough that we’ve founded a group of good friends and great players, the kind that you stick with even after a campaign comes to an end.

 

Normally, when you come to the conclusion of a campaign the DM can feel free to throw out any kind of reward he’d like; the game is over and balance isn’t an issue, afterall. But what do you do when the party wants to stay together for another adventure? The unlimited wish and millions of gold pieces is looking a little less likely, now. On the other hand, your players have worked hard, and they deserve to feel like they’ve earned a great reward, so where do you find the median? That’s what I’ve come here to tell you. The key is in providing character-oriented rewards.

 

For example, I recently ran a campaign involving an estranged noble’s son. When the campaign finally came to an end, the king presented the titleless bard with a blank crest. It took the player a moment to put two and two together, but when he figured out he was ecstatic. I could see his thoughts developing, plans for his character forming and a smile broke out on his face. Mechanically speaking, the most the reward did was provide him with access to a prestige class, and some contacts and revenue he didn’t have before– Nothing too game-breaking.

 

The other option is to take a simple item and dress it up. Take a +1 Corrosive Scimitar. It’s magical, and obviously much stronger than a mundane item, but it’s nothing game-breaking. Throw that in a pile of loot and the players will be happy enough to take it, but present it to your players as an end-game reward and it might fall a little flat. But what happens when you give it a name, or a history? How would they react to a one-of-a-kind item?

 

After honoring all of you with a rousing speech and a great feast, the Duke calls the four of you to his private study. There he presents each of you with a special reward. To you, Eric, he presents a beautiful sword, the hilt and blade curve in opposite directions marking it as an Eastern blade. The hilt is wrapped in silk and golden wire, the crossguard and pommel made of gold and embedded with emeralds. You recognize this as the Fang of the Third Wind, an ancient and deadly weapon gifted only to the captain of the Sultan’s Elite Guard.
Now that sounds like a weapon worth months of travel, pints of blood, and a lifetime of danger to get. There’s no need to spoil your players, just do what you’re meant to as a Dungeon Master: tell them a story. I can guarantee that it’ll make your players happier and your rewards more satisfying than ever before.

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By - August 11, 2014 - Leave a comment

Games within Games: The Shifting Tower »

Everyone has their own kind of favorite dungeon. Some of my players prefer gauntlets of traps and monsters, while others prefer dungeons from the likes of Legend of Zelda, where puzzles appear frequently and everything revolves around a central theme or element. My kind of dungeon is the unpredictable, seemingly random one. A dungeon where you never know what the next room holds. A magical place where the only thing separating near death experiences from wondrous treasure is a simple matter of chance. The Shifting Tower is an idea that plays upon this kind of encounter.

 

For this game, I recommend a session or two and a Jenga tower. To those unfamiliar with it, a Jenga tower is a large tower of 54 rectangular blocks, each stacked three by three. In Jenga, a player removes blocks for the tower and places it on the top, hoping not to knock down the tower. In the Shifting Tower, each Jenga tile represents a “room” of the dungeon, a self contained piece of the Shifting Tower. While you need not prepare a separate encounter/setup for every single room, I recommend making 15-30 different designs (Jenga tower typically has 54 pieces, though I often use 15, 24 or 32 for smaller towers). Each can house anything a slowly falling ceiling, to a maze of pits and tripwire traps, to monsters and guardian, and even house little areas of respite and rewards. As each room is self contained, each can have their own little theme or mindset.  Don’t feel any obligation to make the rooms long, rectangular or jenga block shaped, vary them up a bit. For maximum enjoyment, balance how much puzzles, combat sets and relaxing respites your tower might have.  Roll each room as it appears, and always take note to what the room has in it, as chances are, it might be found in a future floor of the tower.

 

The premise is simple. The players encounter a tower, flavored however the GM desires. This tower can be said to hold the MacGuffin they need, house ancient treasure, or perhaps they just want to explore for explorations sake. As they ascend the tower, pieces of it move around, causing the tower to change shape. Prepare your Jenga table, and place it somewhere that it hopefully won’t get knocked down.

 

Players enter the first room, and they are informed how this works by a sentinel of sorts. As they proceed, the tower shifts, altering its form. When players clear rooms, they alternate removing any room from the tower, whether conquered or not, and placing it on the top of the tower. The sentinel warns them that by forces unknown (hint: a player’s shaky hand, earthquake or maybe a cat knocking the tower down), the tower sometimes kicks out its guests, only to reshape itself once more. Clearing the contents of a floor leads takes the players to the next one. As such, more stable structures result in more rooms for the players to undertake, while riskier, more dangerous structures minimize the number of rooms, but increase the danger of the tower falling. Players may arrange that some tower floors have only one room, but if so, the integrity of the tower is at risk. The DM might want to put a goal in mind, such as 10 floors, or let it go on until the tower falls.

 

Three doors exists on both sides (the long sides, not the stubby sides), ensuring that players can access the next room. If the center piece is removed, the players travel across the “roof” of a previously clear room into their next destination. Most doors will open and just reveal the sky if they don’t lead anywhere, giving the players a bit of knowledge of how high they are in the tower to help prevent them metagaming those details. Lastly, every five or ten rooms or so, let the sentinel appear after clearing and offer the players a way out. If resources are dangerously low and you don’t feel like killing the party, you can even extend it to them when things look dire.

 

The most interesting part of the game is when players begin to catch the metagame of the scenario. If you offer them a room with a fountain in it, allowing them to replenish their health, a smart player will take note of it, and move it to the top in anticipation of future use. As the players near the top of their tower, they are encountering old scenarios, and must shape the tower to their advantage if they want keep progressing. Players can reduce the number of rooms in a floor by removing rooms from floors above, but doing so makes future floors’ content a secret. If the players remove floors only below them, they are encountering more rooms, but have greater control of the future look of the temple.
So here is what the Shifting Tower is. It is a 1.) random/procedurally generated dungeon that 2.) has unique elements not found in a typical dungeon crawl that 3.) offers DMs the ability to present self contained locations, enemies, friends and puzzles. While I have seen Jenga towers used in D&D and Pathfinder games before, I believe this idea to be fairly unique and while awfully experimental, can lead to some interesting sessions and breath some life into the dungeon crawl.

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By - July 29, 2014 - Leave a comment

Behind the Gear-spun Curtain: A Purely Steampunk Look at Game Design »

Character classes are the gateways through which players enter our games. As DMs, it’s important for us to understand character class design and what kinds of classes our players might enjoy playing. Remember this maxim: “What works for one game or one set of players might not work for another!” I took the liberty to interview two other key members of the Pure Steam™ build-team to see what their thoughts were on the subject of class design.

“The one thing player classes can’t be is boring,” Davin ‘grimgrin4488’ reminds us in starting to think about the basic things we all might expect from a class, “and there are several pitfalls to avoid. The class needs to be fresh. It can’t be too derivative and needs a unique hook or cool factor. If the player feels he has seen this [or that class] before it won’t fly. The class needs to be flexible. [‘I can bend my wrist like this, how about you?’ said the double-jointed rogue to the paladin in full plate.] Players need to be able to personalize the character to feel a sense of ownership, and classes in most RPG campaigns need to have a role in and out of combat.” [‘I attack the barstool!’ said the fighter with ADHD.]

He further elaborates, “The character needs to be easy to play. If the class rules are too complex, the player may not understand the class or play will drag as the player or GM has to keep checking the rules of play. Alternatively, if a class has too may options, creating the character may feel like too much work. [‘Okay guys, so the next 6-hour session we’ll set aside for leveling-up. I need your forms in duplicate, and make sure you get them notarized.’] Finally, a campaign world needs a variety of classes. Not everyone likes the same things [Remember the maxim.] and you need a full spectrum of classes for wide game appeal.

On our work for Pure Steam, he says, “Developing classes for Pure Steam is a team effort. There is a synergy of ideas where others’ ideas spark your own and they can see the errors you will routinely overlook.

“For Westward classes and archetypes, we looked at actual history and ‘wild west’ tropes and imagined how they would mesh with the Pathfinder ruleset and interact in the campaign setting. We extracted the core character themes, fleshed them out, and made them into unique classes that Pathfinder gamers would enjoy playing, leveling-up, and customizing.”

Brennan ‘sellsword2587’ speaks more to this where archetypes are concerned: “Designing Pathfinder archetypes has similar challenges to base classes, but is a bit easier due to the preexisting framework, character archetypes, and themes of the Pathfinder base classes; how closely does this character concept, such as flavor and mechanics, relate to a Pathfinder base class? The Ructioneer, for example, is a rabble rouser with a love for brawling and an unorthodox fighting style. [‘My style? I call it, the art of fighting without relenting.’] While the Barbarian certainly fits that criteria, we wanted the Ructioneer to be a bit more formulaic and dedicated to his fighting style, not just a rampaging brute as steampunk-themed characters typically have an expected level of sophistication about them—as much as a Ructioneer could have, anyway. So, the Fighter base class served as the root for the Ructioneer’s abilities.

“The same design philosophy holds true for our Westward archetypes. In a wild west or frontier setting, you need cowboys and ranchers, characters that know the land and are good with animals [‘Uh-yeup! My gun’s named Bessie, and my horse’s Spitfire. Ironic, ain’t it!’], so using the Ranger base class as the foundation for our Cowboy archetype fit perfectly; a character specialized in riding a mount, shooting a firearm, and wrangling with a lasso or whip. What is the West without snake oil salesmen? [Ya got me!? A lot healthier, and friendlier to snakes?] The Huckster, an alchemist archetype, fills that role with his ability to create a ‘polypurpose panacea’ that he utilizes for both effect and profit. With the expanse of the steam-engine railway into the West, it seemed fitting to develop the Hobo archetype for the Rogue, a cunning loner good at surviving on the move by jumping trains and utilizing a network of geocaches and ciphered cant, known as the ‘hobo code,’ to find supplies and information. These, along with numerous other archetypes, stem from the need to match our steampunk-wild west theme where traditional fantasy character options would simply seem out-of-place.”

And that’s the way of it! Meet us back here next month when we bring you our recap of experiences and lessons learned from our upcoming GenCon appearance. Until then, we hope to see you there!

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By - July 18, 2014 - Leave a comment

“There can be no heroes where there is no doubt.” »

Being that our name is DungeonMastering.com, we often get emails about DMing questions.  Here’s some from one of our readers, Seth, who writes:

So I am an aspiring DM who is trying to sort out my approach for an upcoming campaign. I would really like to dig into the meat and bones psychological aspects of adventuring and explore the feeling of a dark epic horror with less fluffy ‘ooo look they’re dark sorcerers’ and more 
‘but why?’ 

Growing up I remember spending a lot of time sitting around the table with an unconscious and possibly dying hero in front of me. As I’ve continued to play I’ve found very often that the threat of character incapacitation and death as a guiding force in player psychology is often completely avoided by many, if not most DMs. 

So my thought is this: if I wanted to set up the party to be part of much larger group taking on a truly formidable foe which they would not truly be able to defeat on their own, how would one split XP and what would you recommend as far as DMing tactics for allowing them to both prove useful to the battle, but also still have an uncertain chance of survival? 

I’m not opposed to killing a couple characters if I have to. I really think that the players should know, like their characters, that there is always truly a time to run away. There can be no heroes where there is no doubt.” 

Hi Seth!  Love that last line.

The first thing I’d say for any DM is that even before the dice start rolling, you talk about your ideas with the players.  If they’re not interested in the concept or you can’t get them to buy-in to the tone you want the campaign to take, then that’ll be a problem for everyone.  I’d start by sharing with them a piece of fiction or a movie clip that captures the vibe you’re hoping for.  Not only is including the players in the process crucial to their being better involved, they undoubtedly will have suggestions to improve things. So don’t bother with a single character until you’ve had a session or two where everyone can talk about what they’d like to see happen for the campaign.  After all, shared an RPG is not just a story but a collaborative story.

Ok, you’re looking for a way to have the party be part of an organization.  One that is opposed to ‘dark sorcerers’ & while trying to stop them, is uncovering their motivations.  They could be a clandestine part of a church or maybe just in the employ of a witchhunter or inquisitor.  Either way, they’re trying to stop a growing evil that is causing corruption.  You can allow their patron to come to their aid if necessary, but if they do need to call upon a benefactor then that assistance costs in terms of XP.

Now, when it comes to the meat/bones of adventuring, my feeling is that you want to make sure you start by conveying the difficulty of that as a profession.  Track rations.  Encumbrance.    Make selling back any treasure an actual in-game activity rather than an auto 50% off tally.  Then get into the real dangers of the job.  The risks that need to be taken before the rewards.  Have any critical hits cause lasting scars even after the cure spells & potions have brought back HP.  Include rules for horror, psychosis, or other mental issues- Unearthed Arcana has guidelines for Tainted people/places & using Sanity (or rather, losing it) in D&D games.  Finally, make death a permanent thing- ala what we mentioned when telling you guys about Diablo 3.  That’ll make even the bravest PC wonder if it’s time to cut bait.

Well other readers, how’d we do answering Seth’s questions?  What other suggestions would you give?  Any questions of your own? Let us know!

 

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By - July 11, 2014 - 1 Comment

Gargoyle! »

pen2This is another illustration I did for the Behind the Monsters Omnibus from Tricky Owlbear. I was pretty happy with how it turned out and even happier when the publisher told me the illustration reminded him of those old school illustrations from First Edition AD&D. Since I loved those BW drawings and idolized the artists, such a comment was high praise indeed to me!

I started playing AD&D in the mid to late 70’s when I was around 10 or 12 years old. Since I was also an aspiring your artist (my mom often got comments from my teachers like “Marc is a good student, but can you please get him to stop drawing pictures in the margins of his tests and homework?”) I spent a huge amount of time studying the artwork. In fact, I’m sure I spent more time when I was a kid studying the artwork in the original Players Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide and Monster Manual than I did actually reading the rules!

Anyone remember the cartoon about these guys?  It had almost every member of STtNG in it.  Seriously.

Anyone remember the cartoon about these guys? It had almost every member of STtNG in it. Seriously.

I alone among my fellow 12 year old gaming friends could identify the work of David Sutherland, David A. Trampier, Jeff Dee, Bill Willingham, Erol Otus. I day dreamed about what it must be like to be one of those guys and actually have illustrations in a D&D book or module. Soon, I also discovered and fell in love with the likes of Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore, Clyde Caldwell and Keith Parkinson and learned to distinguish their art styles. 12 year old me absolutely revered these people – they inspired my dream to become an artist, especially those early BW artists I loved so much!

I owe them all a debt of gratitude and a massive “THANK YOU!”

So, when anyone tells me my work reminds me of old school BW D&D art … well, it makes me smile.

A LOT!!!

Coolest Comment

Tell me who your favorite D&D artist from the early days is and why. Best post gets the Gargoyle original illustration

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By - July 1, 2014 - 2 Comments

Console Cleric #3: How Diablo III helps D&D »

imgresAh, Diablo.  Where you went through 16 dungeon levels killing monsters before entering Hell itself to fight a Prime Evil.  If you read DungeonMastering.com (thank you), then you most likely play or at least come across video games.  Console Cleric was a column that looks at various video titles to see what digital counterparts can add to tabletop sessions.  A long time ago in a column far, far away our controllers took a tour of the Warhammer 40K-based Space Marine, but this time we see how the demonically besieged world of Sanctuary in Diablo III is an idea mine for D&D games.

Diablo III takes place 20 years after a demonic horde from the Burning Hells poured out to rampage.  An omen of a falling star from the skies awakens all the ancient evil.  Now 4 new Heroes drawn from the classes of Barbarians, Demon Hunters, Monks, Witch Doctors, & Wizards- are called upon to adventure together.  Along the way they’ll learn the plot through talking to various NPCs and reading journals while breaking barrels/crates/urns to find more stuff.  Through co-operative gameplay they must kill a ton of enemies who grow in power, loot bodies, upgrade the magic items in their 14 item slots, then fight a boss.  Repeat.

While that may sound like stereotypical D&D, consider the following aspects about Diablo III that might be ported to your tabletop RPG games:

1) Monsters can have 24 traits (special powers) to modify them In Diablo III the baddies can be Fast or Plagued or Vampiric or Molten.  So you could be fighting normal skeletons one screen only to later fight Frozen Skeletons- where they explode in a blast when killed & if you’re nearby your guy could be temporarily iced solid.  Other Diablo traits that might fit well for adding to D&D creatures include Fire Chains (burning links between the monsters), Vortex (reverse knockback, pulling characters towards the monsters), Avenger (killing one only makes the remaining tougher, which stacks), & Waller (creates temporarily barriers to separate the Heroes or trap them).  Once you establish what the modifiers from a Diablo trait are, you can quickly add these improvements to any monster in your game & instantly make it more deadly, err special.

2) Health Globes & Health Potions are helpful, but instantly helpful  In Diablo III health replenishment doesn’t immediately work, as it takes several seconds for the cure to be felt.  Nor can you just drink a bunch of potions all at once; there is a 30 second ‘cool down’ before you can get the benefit again. Consider having there be similar delays in between spells & potions in D&D as immediate HP regeneration isn’t as realistic as there being some time for the body to heal.  Half a minute between being able to drink another potion is 5 rounds but you could adjust this for shorter or longer as you see fit.  However Diablo potions restore a pre-set amount (60%) which if using similar pre-determined various totals for D&D healing would save some dice rolls.

3) Magic Items Sets make magic work better In Diablo III some of the magic items fit a theme, & when you are able to pair 2 or more of the pieces in a set together, they all get additional powers.  So in the Captain Crimson’s Finery set, if you have the Captain’s Satin Sash (belt slot) + the Captain’s Bowspirit (pants slot) you’ll regenerate health.  But if you can later find the Captain’s Whalers (boot slot) you’ll also get a big resistance bonus to all elements to reflect no doubt the the Captain’s legendary experience traveling in every climate.  Now, rules for magic item sets can already be found in WotC’s Magic Item Compendium, but if you haven’t had sets in your games consider giving some sort of modifier to characters- or NPCs- who have multiple similar magiks, maybe these influence each other.  So if you were carrying a Bag of Holding as well as an Efficient Quiver perhaps reaching into one reaches into the other as well; i.e. the extradimensional spaces become linked.  Or you have 2 items which protect against fire.  Their abjuration ‘fuses’ making you even safer versus flames but gradually you start to become more sensitive to cold, to the point where it damages you more.  Get the idea?

4) A fallen Hardcore hero cannot be revived  In Diablo III, there is an optional setting called Hardcore that you can create a character on.  It basically makes your guy mortal rather than semi-Immortal. Normally in Diablo, aka Softcore, when you die you just gradually lose 10% of your magic items’ durability, & only have to pay the blacksmith to repair them when they’re broken to zero.  That’s it.  Moreover each time you do die, you can choose to resurrect by your corpse, at the last checkpoint, or even all the way back in the complete safety of town. Hardcore completely erases this triviality. “You have but one life, eager hero.  If you should die, though your deeds will be remembered, you shall not return again.”  Die, you die.  Game over man, game over.  I could go into why this makes the game awesome, but a guy named Alex Sassoon coby already smartly summed it up in a 2012 piece called “If You’re Not Playing Diablo III Hardcore, You’re Doing It Wrong: Nothing is beautiful and everything hurts; why you should embrace death in the Diablo universe.”  So what if in D&D death was final?  Every deity in every pantheon in your universe no longer grants Resurrection, Raise Dead, or even Reincarnation.  Maybe this is from a mutual agreement or maybe they have somehow lost the power for this power.  Whatever the case, the players learn (perhaps after trying to bring back a follower or other NPC) that this is something which can no longer be done.  Imagine how this would change how death is seen.

Although seeming somewhat like just another button masher, Diablo III has a lot to it.  And I don’t just mean Nightmare Mode, Hell Mode, & Inferno Mode.  Or the 100 Paragon Levels you can advance through after you’ve gotten to Level 60.  Or finding the 4 keys from the Keywardens to build the Infernal Machine for 100,000 gold so you can then “open red portals to special dungeon areas where Ubers, super powered versions of certain quest bosses, must be defeated,” in the hope that they’ll drop a Demonic Organ, which, once you have collected 3, let’s the jeweler build you an infamous end-game item, the Hellfire Ring, for 50,000 gold after Squirt the Peddler has sold him the plans for TWO MILLION GOLD.  {cough}  Or even the ‘secret’ Whimsyshire boardwith it’s clouds and ponies.    The monsters, the maps, & the items have a near endless variety due to the randomization from the game’s engine.  But there are clear formulas for everything & if you spend some time with it, various ideas from Diablo III can really have an impact on your D&D games.

Look into it, maybe even give the game a try, & let us know what you think.

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By - June 27, 2014 - Leave a comment

Behind the Gear-spun Curtain: A Purely Steampunk Look at Game Design »

Creating new races or writing for old ones can be a chore. Given that no matter how incredible our idea may be someone somewhere has probably already done it, we think there are a couple key design approaches one can follow to help build a better race.

Races come from the land. This may sound like a natural conclusion, but when you begin to think evolutionarily about how a race or species adapts or is ideally suited to its surroundings, the challenge of assigning environments, attributes, and traits to a race becomes a breeze. As a steampunk setting, our approach with Pure Steam™ has always been to make it as grounded and scientifically rendered as possible, while still allowing for all the fantasy elements gamers have come to expect. We took extra effort in describing our takes on orcs and half-orcs in the campaign setting—making them into distinct races with a shared if not not-so-distinct evolutionary past—so we wanted to do the same when it came time to build races for the new book: “Westward.”

Coming from the land means you have to take into account various environmental stimuli to determine from where one of your races might have sprung, and how their physical characteristics might have influenced their movements on the map, or how their characteristics might have changed after millennia of living away from their ancestral homes. For “manriks,” a race of lizardfolk native to wetter, warmer climes on the continent of Northern Ullera in Pure Steam, the story could aptly be titled, “The Taming of the Beast.” In detailing the middle portions of the continent, we knew we wanted to branch out and start showing more fantastical races and monsters. We also knew we had a wide swath of no-man’s land to cover. The lizardfolks’ scaly hide, predilection for swimming, and hold breath ability gave us a pretty good idea about where to start them, but to give them wider playable appeal to players and DMs alike we chose to grant them optional traits like a climb speed, and an ability to share pain (i.e. damage) between other manriks with the same racial trait—a trait bred into them over centuries of use as frontline shock troops. Finally, we tempered their generous ability modifiers with a slight drawback trait traced from their evolution as reptilians: “Cold-Blooded.” Now, to learn more about this race’s counterpart, and about that oblique Shakespeare reference. :p

With the “zaurto,” a race of kobolds who rule over their subordinate manrik cousins, these choices were more about form than function. In our campaign setting, dragons are all but extinct. The zaurto are their cultural successors, taking cue from their religious beliefs that state they are the dragons’ blood inheritors, evolving a smaller stature and more prodigious reproductive cycle where the dragons’ great size and low birth rate had failed them. Zaurto traits like “Dragon-Scaled” speak to this tradition, and help to paint kobolds in new skins respecting their chromatic ancestors, while affixing them to distinct climatic zones that would fit their evolved bodies. The nifty “Detachable Tail” trait makes the zaurto harder to kill, and pays homage to their reptilian nature. More where form is concerned, we ratcheted up the kobold use of tools and trickery alongside the racial propaganda they use (as descendants of dragons) to explain how they have achieved the dominant position over the bestial manriks, with whom they’ve long shared a common habitat.

Turning monsters into races. As you can see from the above, nothing new is invented where races are concerned; instead our approach dictated that we find the best land upon which to place our races and let the creative process take its turn. You may find that the barrel scrapes dry after exhausting the core races, so looking to suitable monster races to adapt as playable ones is a fine alternative. Even if there’s no simple table or block of text describing how to adapt a monster as a race, creating a new set of ability modifiers by examining the monster’s stat line and converting monster traits to player character ones is but a short bit of research away. There are plenty of books and online guides to help you in this endeavor, so go out and find one and get designing!

Now, let us hear from you below, and give us your thoughts on what makes a good race and why! After commenting below, visit us at the Pure Steam forums, and let us hear more. Until then, happy gaming!

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