Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Using Halo to Plan Better Encounters

Halo was my favorite game for all of high school. It has bled into my subconscious and has affected the way I design encounters since day one. Here's the big points.

1. Break the enemy into rankings

  • In Halo you have varying enemies rankings that each have their own abilities and level of difficulty.
  • Grunts - Elites - Brutes - Jackals - Hunters - uhhh, the others
  • Fourth Edition did this really well with the various types of each creature and giving each one a role
  • In 5e you can do this by assigning different monsters from the Monster Manual to each role
  • Some are already grouped like this through lore, but you can use or ignore this. CREATE YOUR OWN LORE
  • Example using the basic lore of D&D: Goblins (grunts), Orcs (elites), Bugbears (hunters), stirges (drones), hobgoblins (jackals)
  • I would use these stats to create my own, rooted in my own world.
  • FURTHER - in Halo, as you progress, each of these rankings has sub-ranks inside of them. There are many variations of the grunts and elites throughout all of Halo 1, adding more variety.
  • You can accomplish this by giving them different weapons, more health, and spells

2. Group the rankings into Encounter Groups

  • In Halo there are several encounter groups that you will run into over and over again
  • You could break these down into a random encounter table and use it to build your own
1d8Encounter Group
1.2d6 grunts
2.2d4 grunts, 1d2 Elites
3.2d6 grunts, 1d2 Elites
4.2 Hunters
5.Swarm of drones
6.2d4 jackals
7.d4 jackals, 1 elite
8.2d4 grunts, d4 jackals, 1 elite
  • That might be an oversimplification, but still, using that you can have a base encounter chart with different locations
  • You can get creative by expanding each of the encounter groups to include the different types of each ranking.
1d4Grunt Encounters
1.2d6 grunts fucking around
2.d4 kamikaze grunts
3.d6 grunts, d2 fuelrod grunts
4.d4 fleeing grunts
  • It gets more and more complex and detailed as you combine the ranking types and the encounter groups
1d4City Encounters
1.d4 kamikaze grunts, d2 sniper jackals
2.d2 fuelrod grunts, d6 grunts, sword elite
3.2 hunters, d6 grunts fucking around
4.d4 assassin elites
  • You can customize your own encounter groups to show the flavor of each area
  • The goal is to have a bunch of encounter groups that you can mix and match to keep the encounters focused on the same rival force, but keep the encounters fresh and new each time

3. Overwhelm the PCs

  • The best parts of Halo are when you have way too much to do
  • The flood are on all sides of you and won't stop coming till you move on
  • Do not be afraid to overwhelm your PCs by throwing more than one encounter group at them at once
  • Or throw them one after another, in a wave-style of encounter
  • Your players will get creative to get out of these situations
  • It's totally normal for a player or two to go down in an encounter, it's why they have short rests
  • If you're really worried about the party being beaten up too much, give them more toys--

4. Vehicles are toys designed to make you feel EPIC

  • Vehicles serve one purpose in Halo: to allow the player to face more enemies at once, giving encounters a grander scale
  • A vehicle is a toy for the player to use
  • Other toys include the power weapons
  • Vehicles and power weapons are the equivalent of magic items in DnD
  • If you give the players a Necklace of Fireball, you SHOULD be throwing a lot more opponents at them at once, specifically squisher groups of grunts
  • If you give them a +1 sword, you should be throwing opponents with more health and AC
  • I often see people asking how to handle accidentally giving the players items that are too powerful so that they end up stomping all encounters
  • This. Should. Not. Happen. The reason being - you can ALWAYS throw bigger and badder things at your players. Finding the right balance takes time, but always opt for giving them more they can handle, and then mitigating when it seems like too much.


  • Yes, this one gets a second chance.
  • I'm serious people. You need to try this. I know it might make you nervous. I know you fear that your friends and players will think you're being mean.
  • But trust me. Your players will find a way to make it out. Especially if you've given them toys to play with.
  • This is why I am never worried about handing out potions and strange, single/limited-use magic items all the time. Because one day they'll remember they have it and it will save the day. And it will be memorable.

5b. Here's how I do it

When it comes to designing encounters I follow these basic rules
  • The opponents Hit Dice should be AT LEAST equal to the PCs, which means if there are 5 level 3 players, that's 15HD to spend. So 15 1HD opponents, 2 7HD opponents, 1 big 15HD opponent. This works out to a good encounter 95% of the time.
  • The opponent should get 1 attack per 2 PCs, at least. So in any given round against 5 PCs, you should be rolling 2-3 attacks. MINIMUM. Action economy is a big thing in 5e and you need to level the playing field.
  • Their to-hit bonus should be their HD + 2 (for proficiency). This is not always sound, but it's a good rule of thumb.
  • Their damage bonus should be 2 at a minimum. So even 3 attacks at 1d6 each can do a max of 24 damage.
  • I always increase the number of dice they roll before the die type. So 2d6 before 1d8.
  • I always increase the number of dice they roll before increasing their damage bonus. So the big 15HD bruiser might roll 6d6+2 instead of 2d6+12. Rolling dice is fun.
  • For every 5HD an opponent has, give them an extra attack. So the 2 7HD opponents will each attack twice.
Alot of these guidelines are based on 5e's proficiency scale and player-leveling.
These are some of the bigger things I've taken from Halo. I hope you learned at least one thing from this.
If you want to see some of these things in action, check out my book.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

D6 diseases to use in TTRPGs

I’ve been following a train of thought. We all take inspiration from real life, from our experiences. And in order for us to be writing *fantasy* instead of just fiction, we personify that into something grander and more representative.

And when it comes to DnD, there are 3 things which I feel don’t do this properly. Diseases, Potions, and Poisons. In my many years of learning 3.5 in high school, I never once used a disease from the source books. They were boring. They were just real diseases. They didn’t do anything new or *mean* anything.

I started to follow this train of thought as I try to expand what I do in games. I’ll be honest, I mostly do NPCs. That’s what I use 99% of the time. I like to talk. I’m getting better at including combat, but I still don’t use traps, poisons, diseases, or any of the other obstacles that are present in the real world, and very often in a fantastical world.

Today we’re going to talk about diseases. 6 of them. The BIG SIX of my world, and maybe you’ll find one to use in your world. These are all my way of looking at real diseases and trying to translate them. The horror. The isolation. The pain. I like to write about things that personally scare me. That’s the root of horror. So yeah...let’s dig in.


Also known as the Demon’s Disease. It’s a fairly common disease that has sprouted up recently, which causes the cells to multiply and harden in strange patterns. The outward effects of this are the horns which grow, usually from the head, but not always. They always grow in pairs, and can reach a length of 12 inches. To cure the disease, the horn must be sold to a demon, who will then find a new host for the disease. No one is sure how it started.

If the disease is left unchecked, horns grow on the inside of the body until something is punctured and the patient dies.


This disease only affects humans, and can show signs starting as young as adolescence. It begins small, around one finger tip. It would take luck to see the signs at this point, but the finger tip is no longer under your control. And when the disease is left unchecked, it expands down the fingers and outwards to the others until the entire hand is no longer under your control.

Amputation is the first step. But that rarely works, as the disease is not in the limb itself. It’s in the brain. And without intervention from a mage, the disease will spread up one side of your body until it reaches the brain itself, where it will then have full control of your motor functions, leaving your conscious mind trapped in shell that is no longer its own.

Those fully taken by Auto-Engrosia will not be discernible from the general public. Your neighbor could be living with it. Your friends. Family. The only way to know is to present the inflicted with something draconic. The closer to a real dragon the better. Because those taken by Auto-Engrosia will stop at nothing to be eaten by a dragon. There is no known cure, only safety nets that a wizard can put in place, such as simulacrum, resurrection, and permanent paralysis.

The Elven Curse

Named such because all elves are cursed with it. It is why they must stay in the woods. It keeps the curse at bay. Half-Elves can be carrier but cannot be affected by it. Humans and other races are in danger of getting it if cursed by an Elf (or Half-Elf).

To put it simply, this disease affects all internal organs, animated them and turning them into animals. Intestines turn into a giant centipede, liver turns into a large toad, heart flutters into a bird, bladder into a mess of butterflies, brain into a giant crab. You will be alive and feel everything as this happens, even as they try to escape your body. You will stay alive until those animals are killed, as they are your organs.

There is no cure. But you can live with this disease by capturing the animals and taking care of them.

Aquarium Disease

This disease changes the lungs. They can no longer breathe oxygen and must breathe water, like a fish. If you are not submerged in water you will suffocate. But it doesn’t stop there. You will just wake up one day like this, and as the disease progresses you will need to breathe deeper, and deeper water. A pond will suffice, until you’ll need a lake, and then the sea. Until you’re sunken to the seafloor and are left to die.

There is no known cure, but on the seafloor you may find something...

Carnal Dementia 

This disease affects the elderly. It replaces their memories with either fake memories, or just memories that are not true of their life experience. It starts as a slow growth, little dips into another personality, until eventually the patient is no longer who they were before. They have a new name, a new personality, a new life. They want to get out of the hospital and find this new life, but no one has been able to follow a patient to their destination, and most families are reticent to allow their grandpa/grandma to go wandering the world like an adventurer.

Mage Liver

This happens from the constant exposure of potions to your liver. The organ itself begins to grow technicolor, as the remnants of all the potions are soaked up. You see, when a mage makes a potions (or anything) it's impossible for a little bit of themself to *not* get put into it. So as the liver absorbs these potions, they are also absorbing little parts of mages, alive or dead. You have nothing to fear from the living ones. But the dead ones...they will infect you through the liver, granting you spell slots of their old spells. This in and of itself doesn’t sound that bad. But if you cast them, or begin to learn more, all of that energy is going to the dead mage. Every spell learned is imprinting their brain onto yours. Every spell cast is teaching *your* body *their* movements. This is the resurrection long-game. This is immortality.

Friday, January 25, 2019

dten encounters in a weird desert

i wrote these for Micah a while ago. not sure if he ever used them. basic premise - there are tears in reality in this desert due to eldritch hearts.

1 alchemy assassins
Drinkers of the heart, they trip on the shit and go into a comatose state. When they do so, out in the desert, from the tears in reality spill these Mr. Game and Watch looking, multi-colored little fuckers. They are 2-D and use this to their advantage (if they stand sideways they essentially vanish). Their psychedelic colors mirage in the hot sun and mesmerize those who stare too long.

2 scar-sniffing hounds
gangs of hunting dogs from rival tribes try to "set up" around these tears in reality. You can discern a reality tear if there are too many dogs around. Additional signs: if a dog is howling at the sand, or several sizes too large as if seen through a magnifying glass, if it floats lazily like a half-filled balloon, and if the dog is in fact a human pretending to be a dog.

3 reality warping cockroaches
As strange as it may seem, through these tears in reality, cockroaches crawl out. Maybe they really can survive anything. There isn't much strange about them, except they they seek the comfort of human companionship. They like to crawl between clothes, where fabric meets skin. When they find a nice spot (underside of wrist or under left breast) they give you an exchange. The truest of sight in exchange for control of your body. What they do when they control your body varies, but it typically involves additional human companionship, platonic or not. But with the truest of sight you can see all things broken, from a broken belt buckle to a broken heart.

4 bleeding-sky syndrome
The sky gets sick sometimes. Maybe not your sky, but this sky, here in the desert, it gets sick and hurts itself. It's a dark thing, yes. The ideal of it at least. But the execution is strange more than dark. Cloud cut the sky, parting the blue like a bed sheet (with much the same noise) and letting the black behind it spill out. The the cut bleeds. It's like rain except it comes out like blood from a wound, and is black like the night sky. Inside this plasmic liquid are boiling hot stars which can be harvested. If they are not harvested they give birth to changelings (or something else equally strange).

5 horror faces
These are people who has touched the reality scars, or were there when they were made, or who have merely looked at one such scar for too long and maybe said some things about the scar they really shouldn't have. Their faces warp into picasso-esque portraits which alter with their moods. Limbs can sprout from these new heads. They cannot control these limbs and sometimes they cannot even control their mood. Keeping them calm is paramount, lest you be dragged kicking and screaming into their gaping purple maw, never to return.

6 hot heads
Bald giants with weak, frail bodies and big, fat heads. If their head gets to hot it explodes, so they bury their head in the sand to stay cool. If you see normal sized bodies sticking up from the sand, be careful there's not a large head under there.

7 straw tooths
These pale kids walk with umbrellas that cast jet-black shadows (so they appear like floating umbrellas with a sheet of black underneath). They will not tell you where they came from. They will only float to the nearest scar, stick their bendy-straw teeth into said scar, and drink whatever is inside. If interrupted they will drink you instead, even if they hate the taste.

8 sand druids
Sand druids eat sand and lay under shallow pools of sand to sleep. They do not come out in the light, only at night. At night they crawl on the sand, eating tasty patches. They are afraid of humans and most things and prefer to hide. But their knowledge of the desert is tremendous, even if accidental. You see, the patches of good sand all seem to form a line, like a leyline, that leads between places of magic (the tears, certain cities, etc). So if you follow them they will surely lead you someplace interesting.

9 court of glass
This mausoleum made of glass appears to the holy in mirages. When you see a mirage in the distance reach out as if to grasp a doorknob and you will find it. Inside it is cool and safe, and you can see out into the desert through the glass walls. Everything inside is glass and fragile and the building demands ease. If you shatter the walls (or anything inside) then the Glass Angels will come for you and force-feed you your future sharded in glass.

10 landmines
There are landmines under the sand. Be careful.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Basilisk - redoing the 5e MM

My skills in MS paint are unrivaled.

I liked the Chamber of Secrets. The basilisk was cute and had poison fangs and SOMEHOW never quite petrified people.

We ain't playing that game.

Basilisk in the Cage are born from the nightmares Giants have of the snakes that almost killed them. They are taken as pets by the Akumu (Nightmare Pirates) and crawl into dreams when they can. Their Cheshire-Cat-nature allows them to exist in either reality, the dream or the real, whenever they choose.

Their blood is not theirs. And the eyes on their flappy parts are so familiar to you that it's painful. Their hissings make nightmare voices in your ears that act as the spell Suggestion.

To kill them you have to scare them.

As the DM, you have a bit of a challenge at hand. Staring at someone until they run out of things to say. Trying to strike at foes without looking at them. Rolling the dice and picking it up carefully to read the number...

This is better.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Player/Character Divide

This is probably the first of a few articles I want to write on this topic. 


I ran a campaign for the entirety of the 2014 summer where most the challenge came from physical puzzles, usually word or math, that the players solved. There would be chunks of the game where they would be sitting there at the table, while I prepped a combat encounter, just working on this puzzle.

They were a lot smarter than me, but with the help of the internet, I was able to push things for them into a difficult space. One puzzle took several sessions to solve, the two lead solvers passing the paper back and forth between each other as the group made their way through a dungeon.

It was one of the best campaigns I've ever run. Half the challenge was Player challenge, not Character challenge.

When I watch Critical Role, the best parts of it for me are the talking. Between characters, between the NPCs and a character, even between two NPCs. It's what makes CR special, and it's also what people point to as the biggest criticism. The Players' skills as actors are given value, instead of just the charisma of the Character.

People complain because not everyone is an actor and since CR is the "face of DnD" it creates an unfulfillable promise to new players that they will be able to act like this and be given NPCs who are well acted. But really they aren't criticizing the people playing CR, they are criticizing the Player/Character divide that CR uses.

I mention these because CR is the best place to start when discussing the ideas that *I* find fun in games, TTRPGs in particular but also videogames and boardgames. The Player/Character divide is the idea that a game can challenge the Player, the person sitting at the table, as well as the Character, the piece of paper that the Player has written.

Critical Role does this without much backlash (besides the criticism above) because it is perceived as part of Dungeons and Dragons already. In the Dungeon Masters Guide (and in the PHB) there are listed the Three Pillars of Play: Combat, Exploration, and Social. But Social does not equal acting. You do not need to be an actor to interact with the social pillar of DnD.

The social pillar in this theory is the Character interacting with NPCs. What they are saying with these three pillars is that, in a game of DnD, you should explore a place, talk to some stuff in that place, and fight some stuff in that place. That's is all they are saying. Thinking that acting is the social pillar would be equal to saying that being in shape is necessary to enjoy the combat pillar. Which as my chubby body shows, is not true.

There is something to say though about how many people are coming into DnD because of CR, and having this misconception about acting = social pillar, and that all tables *need* to have this in order to play the game the correct way.

It tells me that there are a lot of players who want this. There are people who have never played DnD who watched Critical Role, who say the Player/Character divide that exists at their table, and thought "That looks fun".

It tells me that there is a place for the ideas that I have. It tells me that the Player/Character divide can be used to create fun. At least in the way of acting. You can be goofy and silly and funny and serious and depressing and brooding as a Player, as a DM, and you can still have fun. Being sad or mad doesn't mean you aren't having fun.

And it tells me that you can maybe push it further. Beyond just acting. Beyond the social pillar.


Munchkin is a card game heavily inspired by old school Dungeons and Dragons, that features a lot of oddly fitting crossovers in the form of expansions, each with a plethora of cards that accentuate the Player/Character divide and make it a tool in your arsenal. Where you play a game of munchkin can come back to bite you in the ass or save you. Who you play it with will change the game dramatically. What fucking clothes you wear can have an effect on how strong you are on a given turn.

These kinds of ideas have existed in board and card games since their inception. Poker requires strategy, math, and ultimately the ability to lie. Monopoly requires money management and the cold-hearted, calculated eye of a banker. Risk requires charisma as well as military dominance. Games have always played on the Player/Character divide. They use it as part of the mechanics of the game. Anyone can play chess, but the smartest person wins.

These are analogous to physical games which are strongly tilted towards Player skill. In football, you play the quarterback, a role which has its own unique abilities and ways to interact with the game, but its the Player's strength, quickness, and intelligence that leads to victory. That coupled with the mastery of the quarterback role itself creates a legend on the field.

Munchkin creates a very tongue-in-cheek version of this that *I* find fun. Instead of a Player/Character divide, where the player and character can be challenged separately, there's a conversation between the Player and the Character, and it takes both of them to win the game.

An example, website on the card

The goal of Munchkin is to build a very powerful arsenal of armor, weapons, and items so that you can get to the 10th level of the dungeon and beat a final monster. Where the fun of the game comes is cheating, player cooperation and this player/character communication. If you're like me and you like to get drunk while you play games, then this card is going to be better for you than it will be for your sober friends, and it could mean the difference between all of your friends teaming up to beef up some low-level goon so it can stop you vs. you sneaking out victorious and taking all the glory. 

There's a monster that is Steve Jobs but as a goblin. He gets more powerful for every window that is in the room you are playing the game. There's a card that allows all cultists to go off into a corner and trade cards and plot the downfall of the rest of the table. The game plays off of which class you get, which gender your character is, what your marital status is, what color shirt you're wearing, and so many other factors. 

Every game is different, and every single one of them is so unpredictable. It never lets me down when I need a good, fun game. And the little stories that it makes at the table are hard to forget and even harder to write.


With the history of games having the player/character divide as a basis of them, I'm very curious as to *why* the current state of DnD is the way it is. I shouldn't just lump it as DnD either. TTRPGs in general have this (what I see as an) issue of trying to divorce the Player from the game as much as possible. Making the divide into a chasm. They just want to challenge the Character. 

You even see the same mindset in the original example I gave against it. Critical Role. A character says something convincing, something really fucking good, and they act it well. Turn to the DM. "Roll a persuasion check." And you can see it on their face. That expression of "but that was fucking awesome!"

That's a limitation of the game itself. Saying something persuasive tends to lead to the allowance of a role where there otherwise wouldn't be. I'm someone who believes in the dice. I think they are the perfect abstraction for factors beyond our control. In combat, rolling the dice is the game's way of saying "you are fighting living things in a living world and your skill won't always mean as much as it would in a training room". 

But when it comes to acting? When it comes to saying what would *actually* convince the NPC? I say don't roll. 

And I've seen the counter arguments. It's part of the reason I'm writing this now. They are counter-arguments that have kept me reigned in when writing adventures. "Just because I'm not charismatic doesn't mean I can't play a charismatic character." I don't really have an answer to that. Or, I don't have an answer that's going to make you feel better. What I want to say to that counter-argument is "why are you so boring?" But that's mean and not fair. It's cruel. 

The correct thing to say, which is less of an answer and more of a way to just stop the argument, is that we play different games. Fundamentally, what you find fun in a game is not what I find fun. I like to be challenged. Me, as the player. I don't want things to be fair, or based on what's on my character sheet. As a DM, you never roll to convince the players of what you're saying. You talk.

I think there's a hybrid though. Instead of the Player/Character divide, try to take from Munchkin. The idea of the Player/Character conversation. The marriage of both, and the skills of both, which opens a toolbox filled with fun odds and ends that can be used at the table to solve problems and tackle the odds. 

I think in a way, that's what the DM already does. I think there's something there to be mined.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Dark Souls and the Beauty of the Megadungeon

I used to think the idea of a dungeon, let alone a MEGADUNGEON, was boring. Going from stone room to stone room, fighting orcs. I was fourteen then, and it wasn't for another 4 years, when Dark Souls came out, that I learned the beauty of the Megadungeon.

1. Megadungeon as a style of play

  • In Dark Souls, you measure your progress in several things - areas cleared, bonfires lit, and bosses defeated. In Megadungeons, you measure your progress in rooms cleared.
  • Dark Souls uses the idea of a room as a metaphorical thing. A room is any place where a thing is located. Firelink Shrine and the NPCs are a room. The cemetery below is a room with the skeletons which do not stay down. Keeping it simple like this can make designing a Megadungeon much easier.
  • Dark Souls tells story through this process - each region has a tale told by the order of its rooms, and the encounters in those rooms. While designing your own megadungeon, think in these terms. How can the rooms and the encounters tell a story?
  • In this way, Megadungeon is a style of play, rather than a location. It's a style of play that focuses on the ROOM and the ENCOUNTER and how those are linked together to tell a story.
  • Continuing the war example: the battlefield region could have 1.) foxholes filled with terrified soldiers, 2.) a trench with wounded men clogging the route, 3.) front lines with constant machine gun fire and an incompetent commander, 4.) no man's land, with enemies charging with bayonets. This tells a story of the region, and the players that move through it will forward the story of the Party.

2. The Beauty of the 5e Adventure Day

  • Dark Souls is a game of attrition. Resources are your only way of survival. Health, Stamina, estus, spells, etc. This. Is. DnD.
  • In 5e, health, HD, spells, potions, etc. are the resources you need to continue adventuring.
  • In Dark Souls, reaching a bonfire is a goal because it means rest and replenishing resources. In 5e, this is the adventure day.
  • The adventure day - typically - says that a party can handle 5-8 encounters from easy-hard difficulty before needing a long rest. During this day you can have short rests to expend HD and replinish certain abilities.
  • You can use this in your Megadungeon game to create story. Nothing is more exciting and tension driven in Dark Souls than when you're running low on everything and having to decide whether you are going back or moving forward in hopes of a bonfire.
  • Take this example and place safe spots (bonfires) in your Megadungeon. Place them at the end of Adventuring days.


  • Taking a look at Dark Souls as an example of excellent design - From Firelink Shrine to the first bonfire, there are 5 necessary encounters: the undead on the stairs, the undead playing dead, the undead where the dragon lands, the crossbow undead, and the undead with the shields and spears. Each one takes place in its own "room", with the crossbow-men being able to fire down on you while taking on another encounter.
  • Not only this but there are 3 optional rooms for extra xp and treasure - the rat in the sewer guarding the humanity, the secret jump to get the treasure in the building, and the hidden NPC downstairs which sells stuff.
  • THAT'S the perfect example of how to design an adventure day. In DnD that entire thing might take a session, maybe two, depending. And when you start looking at Dark Souls like that, you can see that all areas are the same. And they USE the Adventure Day to build tension. Sometimes making them shorter, and sometimes forcing you to go 14-15 encounters before reaching the next one.

2a Adventure Day Continued

  • When designing your regions for your Megadungeon, use the idea of the adventure day to add another layer to the story. The layer which taxes the PLAYERS resource management. With this, you have both layer of the game engaged - the characters and their buy-in, and the players with their character sheets.
  • Continuing the war example: after crossing no-man's land, the opposing force is pushed back and the Party can finally rest before being awoken by artillery the next day.

3. The importance of NPCs

  • Dark Souls uses NPCs for very few reasons - covenants, buying/selling, and optional story. But all of these impact the world of Dark Souls, a lonely world where you make it on your own.
  • Let this influence your own NPC design. Let the theme of your world influence your NPC design.
  • Ask yourself what role they fill. Are they here to buy/sell? What would a buyer/seller look like in your world?
  • In this hypothetical war campaign, a buyer/seller would be the guy at the barracks, or a medic on the field, or the guy riding around in the jeep with all the bullets.
  • The other NPCs, keep their story on an optional level, but don't be worried about having NPCs reappear, like when Big Hat Logan shows up after being freed.
  • Have NPCs disappear, like the Cleric that stands near the back of Firelink. If this draws interest, then great, if not, then that's one less NPC you have to worry about.
  • NPCs as optional stories in the War Campaign could be a soldier that joins the squad, a tank sergeant that keeps needing help, a daring spy that is offering coin for info, a cartographer that needs help mapping the enemy territory. People that can enrich the world, but aren't necessary if the party isn't interested.

4. Locks, Keys, and Gates

  • Dark Souls has some backtracking, to say the least. There are doors that can't be opened, paths that shouldn't be traveled, creatures which can't be beat. These require you to go do some other shit then come back later.
  • When designing your regions, don't hesitate to put in rooms that need a key. Just like the room, the key can be metaphorical.
  • In the War Campaign, a key can be a new rank that gives access to new areas/information, it can be a commanding officer that you have to get in good with, it can be an injury that puts you in a new location for recovery.
  • 5e has some locked gates built in - certain spells such as Fly allow access to the air in a new way. Water breathing potions/spells give you access to new locations. Druid wild shapes could give access to animal areas previous unallowed. Paladin oaths can give you access to locations. Perhaps your wizard school gives access to a certain portion of the library others can't go to.
  • You can use both 5e's system and your world's theme to build your own series of locks/keys/gates and place them around your regions to have your own little secrets.
  • When someone finally discovers one and unlocks'll make it all worth it.

This is a continuation of my new series where I take a look at some of the things that inspired me and pull out the wisdom that has carried through. You can follow me on reddit by clicking on my name and going to my profile. I have an AMA on the 21st, my book "Haunted" is coming out soon. Got the proof back from the printer and just had to tweak some things. I'm excited for the end of this year and I think there's big things coming.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Hogwarts-on-acid: my next dnd campaign

I'm building out my new campaign, which is looking to be an entirely new system built on the bones of 5e.

The pitch is - Bully (the Rockstar game) meets studio Ghibli set in a Hogwarts-on-acid magic school.

Some things I've learned so far:
1. The secret service operates out of the school (inspired by Matt Colvile's worldbuilding streams)
2. It's more like a campus of schools interconnected by dungeons and made complicated by rivalries
3. Each student will level up by taking classes, so as you pass each semester you will be selecting the things you want to learn/be good at
4. Each semester will have a "project" which will essentially be a dungeon/pointcrawl/hexcrawl/some other adventure.
5. Death is the least likely thing to happen. Mutations/scars/dismemberment are more likely. Expultion is *most* likely.

It all takes place in my world, which means that they are in Endsville, the city at the end of the world. It rests on the back of a world snake. Her name is Ran. Endsville is set up like a hex map, where each hex is a scale on the snake. On the head of Ran is the MegaRave, a dungeon that is just one massive party.

The city itself is always in this constant state of cold war, as the Dread Lords try to push each other out of power without coming to direct confrontation. This is the last one wants to die.

It's all just a complicated web of kafkaesque politics and brutal, mind-altering dungeon crawls.

Here's how you make a character :D

Choose your race (might make this a roll table)
Human, Goblin, Tiefling, Drow are most common
Unseelie, Half-Elf, Homunculi are uncommon
Black Cat, Dwarf, Dragon Mutant are rare

Choose your Class
Wizard - visited/bonded with a familiar so that they can study magic. Familiars are alien and capricious.
Sorcerer - caught a falling star to gain magic and a wish, but if they use the wish they lose their magic
Warlock - traded hearts with a monster to gain magic, but pushing that magic makes them monstrous
Witch - married something to gain magic, like a demon or the moon or a god spider
Cleric - chosen by a spirit and thus haunted by it. They gain a point when something horrible happens to them and can spend those point to make the spirit do something cool

Choose your background - this is how you got into the school
Squallor - you were poor so you saddled this massive debt to get a chance at something greater. You aren't well known so your rival won't be super crazy, and you have access to your loving family and friends for support
Chosen One - You were part of something bigger than yourself which has put you in the limelight, OR you have shown some unnatural magical aptitude thrusting you into the limelight
Scholarship - you've proven yourself enough to be given some cash. Roll a percentile dice to determine how much of your debt is being covered and talk to your DM about *why* it's being covered. Could be an athletic scholarship, or a scholarship for you to develop homonculi forces for some distant king's army
Military - you were in the military or your father is a high ranking officer in the military. This gives you status, a weapon proficiency, and some skills, but it also puts a burden on you. Uphold your rank or your family status or have it all stripped from you.
Political - same as above except entirely social. You are the child of a politician, maybe even someone in the court of a Dread Lord, and you have a certain image to uphold.

Then you choose your school. All of these are works in progress.
Crystal Palace - fire elementals
Earth Elementals
Water Elementals
Air Elementals
The School of Lock and Key - door mages
Key mages - unlock metaphorical doors
Moth School - illusions/light
Some other ones

I want to aim for 20 schools of magic, 8 spells each. Seems like a good goal.

Hoping to run this campaign after my two current campaigns wrap early 2020 lol

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Banshee - redoing the 5e monster manual

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Today is the Banshee. I kinda like her already, so all I wanted to do was make getting rid of her interesting and unique. 

So, Banshee's are murdered queens and the only way to lay eyes on them to be able to slay them is to be a part of their court. So you have to find out what it took to become a part of this court, then see if you can even still do those things since the queen is dead. 

Banshees attempt to blind you by showing you their gruesome death. 

Then they wail to deafen you. 

This makes you their servant. Part of their undead court, so to speak. Then they *ask nicely* if you'd kindly kill those mother fuckers that let her die. 

So while all this garbage is going on, the party has to play Ace Attorney to bring the murderer to justice. I guess you can just kill them...but I'd rule that justice is more important. The banshee doesn't make sense. They are angry spirits who are really fucking mad that they died, but they were queens and believe in justice. 

If presented with any sort of contradiction, they'll probably just wail. 

Friday, January 18, 2019

3-Dimensionality in TTRPGs

I wasn't sure how to react to these comments at first.

People often talk about Story when I mention how I do something in a game. They mention Story like its something you as the DM bring into the game fully breathed out. The idea of an NPC that is not fleshed out is "BAD STORY" because they are one dimensional. The idea of an adventure location is "NOT A STORY" because I don't give them, in the adventure location, an explicit beginning, middle, and end.

It bothers me in a deep part of my chest because we are playing a game, not writing a fucking story. And the story that comes from playing the game is not one that I can write for you. All that we can do as game designers is create tools that codify our table experiences in the hopes that there is something universal about them.

That's why there are so many hacks, clones, and spin-offs of DnD. That's why some of them are more popular than others. It's why Dungeon World did (and continues to do) so well; it creates the kind of game experience that many, many other people *wanted* to have and related to.

So when someone comments on my Naruto post about how "these ideas create one-dimensional characters", I just want to scream in all caps, "THAT IS YOUR FAULT!". I as a creator am not responsible for bringing the life to your game. YOU AND YOUR PLAYERS are the two other dimensions that take what are just words on paper and turn them into a story.

You may have bought Curse of Strahd because you think Strahd is complex or something, or that his castle is beautiful, but all of that is one dimensional and means nothing until YOU as a DM use it at the table and bring it to life.

Everyone's Strahd is different. Every. Single. One. Every castle Ravenloft is different. Even if the rooms stay in their exact order with as-written text read aloud from the book to the player, the castle is now yours and what happens there has never happened before and will never happen again.

TTPRGs are unique in that way that other media are not. The story is created by the conversation of books/DM/players. And each is affected by the next. The same book/players with a new DM will have a new experience. The most common form of this is the DM/player and a new book.

As a writer, I cannot deny the power of words. It's communication. Transfer of information. In literature, a one-dimensional character leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The trope-ridden characters in film trigger the gag reflex. These are medium that rely on the written word to create those things for you. They are essentially taking the place of the book and the DM all in one, while you take the place of the player. You take in what they give you and react.

But that is not the case in games.

When I take in the information of a book (Curse of Strahd, just to keep it flowing) and spew it out to a player, I am making it three dimensional. The book MAY give me some feelings that PUSH me in a direction (sadness, or longing) but I am the one making Strahd a three dimensional, living, breathing character.

The way I interpret the words and react to them will be different than other DMs. The way I look at his loss and his role in it will be different. Even if the fucking book tells me "Strahd only talks in a whisper", my fucking whisper will be different than yours. Not just in sound but in meaning.

So when I write an article, or a book, I am not giving you a story. I CAN NOT give you a story. I am giving you tools so that you, as a three dimensional person, can hopefully create an experience closer to the fun I am having at the table while I and my players bring things to life.

That's why I give my NPCs just three things:
What they say - what they outwardly present
What they don't say - their subtext
What they actively hide - their secret

I do this so that maybe it can create a bit of faux-depth that makes you interested in a character. In my eyes, that should be all you need as a DM. Because YOUR experiences and thoughts and feelings and multi-faceted brain filled with all the various parts of you will fill in any gaps that I leave.

There SHOULD be gaps to let you do so.

So no, creating a clan of people based off of a trope, or a "gimmick", or any of the other derogatory terms people use when talking about anime, is NOT one dimensional. I give you the tools, your players and you bring it to life.

P.S. - I understand to a degree that most of these people are commenting on Anime as a medium and, more so, commenting on their disdain for anime as a medium. But then to just be ignorant of the things you can learn from things you don't like? Gross.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Cowboy Bebop and the Art of Controlling a Session

I like anime. Bebop is one of the best. And when rewatching it last month, I realized that I had been using tools from it. So here's a post about those tools.

1. Bounty of the Week

  • The key to controlling a session is to know your enemy
  • In Bebop, every episode (session) revolves around a bounty that the gang is chasing. 
  • Find your bounty. It can be a reoccurring villain or a Monster of the Week scenario. 
  • This is tied into your Theme. In the war example from the Pokemon post, the enemy is the opposing force.

2. Structure

  • To goal of knowing your enemy is to have a structure. 
  • Bebop's structure is simple: 1. there's a new bounty, 2. the gang goes after the bounty, 3. the gang doesn't get rich.
  • This is most feasible to plot in an episodic game, where every session can have an individual story
  • But **Bebop's structure comes from the Villains**. It comes from the Theme that there will always be another bounty to catch, they will always mess up, and they will always escalate. 

3. Villains

  • So to create your Structure, even in a serial campaign, you must only know the steps your enemy will take to succeed their goal
  • Continuing the war example: the enemy will always try to win the war. Doing this can be done in many ways, to create some variance, but we can make a list of three steps that all of the opposing forces see the world through: There's a new target, we send troops to deal with the target, we win the war. 
  • Ever need to know what the enemy force is trying to do? Wherever the PCs are is a new target. The opposing forces will send troops to handle this new target, either by destroying it, capturing it, planting a spy, etc. In the hopes that they'll win the war.

4. Pacing

  • Bebop tells a fulfilling and impactful episode in 22 minutes. You have 3 hours (or more) to be a part of something that is fun. Doesn't even need to be impactful. Just fun for the table.
  • If you watch Bebop, you'll see that, like in D&D, the gang meanders, wanders, gets distracted A LOT. They focus on the wrong things, follow the wrong leads, wind up at "dead ends" of the Bounty Hunt. 
  • The Villains always stay on track though. And this creates pace.
  • If your session feels like its lagging if it feels like your party is losing their place, if there is a big lull and nothing is happening and you feel the game slipping away...your villain is trying to accomplish their goal.
  • YOU can act in the face of party inaction. You, in the guise of the world, can act.

4b. Types of Action

  • The villain does something devastating nearby
  • The villain attacks the party
  • The villain takes hostages
  • The villain escalates the situation
  • The villain is spotted making an escape
  • The villain slips up and reveals their position

5. Communication

  • Cowboy Bebop communicates with its cast. The world, I mean, communicates with the gang to push the show along. Most episodes are started with a TV program giving the gang their new bounty. And when this doesn't happen, either they stumble onto a bounty wherever they happen to be, or the character's backstories come back to haunt them.
  • As a DM, I find a lot of joy in worldbuilding that communicates with the players
  • Bounty boards are a big example of this in a standard fantasy world. Open a session with the bounty board and you're off to the races
  • But you have the freedom to communicate in other ways. Quest giving NPCs that have a personality and depth can be a great way to open a session, which creates pacing but also allows for RP.

5b. Backstories

  • Spike has a personal villain that haunts him. And because of this past life, he has a lot of contacts. I'd say 1/4th of episodes have something to do with Spike's past, or someone from the Gang's past. 
  •  Matthew Mercer, DM for Critical Role, almost exclusively communicates to the party through their backstories. Their gods, patrons, past friends, enemies, etc. 
  • When your PCs hand you a backstory, it is a gift of resources that all allow you to communicate directly to your party through the game

As always, check out my book. It's in the right hand corner. This is my continued attempt to get my reddit posts onto the blog without just spamming everything all at once.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


I'm finally working on MUCK!!
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My art-friend and collaborator Micah finished this beautiful fucking map of my new adventure location, MUCK. It's a fuckin' swamp. It's inspired by the metal music I love plus a dungeon I wrote a while ago called the Drowned Mountain

The gist is - if you want to travel anywhere, you gotta go through MUCK. 

So the party wants to go do a thing, this place is in the way.

I'm really excited to get to work on it finally, as my parties have been going to other locations and doing other things that required me to focus on them. NOW they are going here and I get to flesh everything out and get to work. 

This will be the fourth issue of Songbirds, my extra-planar zine. And yeah, only one is released right now, but that's because this is my first time self-publishing a physical book and it's a fucking bitch. I'm so bad at it. This is proof number 3 of Haunted, and proof number 2 of Inside the Giant's Eye. Hopefully, Desert Wind goes smoother and I'll have all the bits hammered out so that MUCK goes straight to print without issues. 

Maybe I should do a blog about my experiences with self-publishing...idk if anyone even reads this though. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Tonight's D&D Game

I run my IRL game today.

The session ended with everyone killing their sharks. That means today they are gonna open them up and see what is inside. Finding something they've lost.

I'm struggling a bit with this. There are three characters: Nix, E.D., and Khalil.

E.D. has lost her memories. So she's going to find a photograph/vhs with the names/faces of the people who created her. And maybe push her closer to an answer of what she is.

Nix lost a childhood. Nix was poor and worked his entire life. He looked up at the snake city and wanted to be there. To grow to power and never have to worry again. But what will be inside of his shark? A piece of his childhood? A compass guiding him on his quest so that he can overcome his childhood?

Khalil lost a lot as well. Free will. His life belongs to the Queen of the Mountain, who has a contract of his blood in order for him to get revenge on his old gang who betrayed him. Perhaps one of those he wants revenge on is inside... Or maybe another fae? The location of an UnBlade?

It's not what they *want*, it's something they've lost. What have they lost?

Khalil has given his soul to a fae to get revenge.
Could be his soul?
The location of his soul?
A bunch of money?
The location of a bunch of money?

What do I want it to do? E.D.'s shark is going to guide her towards dragons. Nix's should guide him to the sea. Khalil's should guide him to the moon.

E.D. finds her memories.
Khalil finds one of the things that was stolen from him by his team, and the dagger used in the attempt to take his life.
Nix finds the ring he gave to someone. That person betrayed him. Now he can give the ring again and regain his trust or he can wear it himself.

I think that will work.

This session is going to shape a big part of the campaign I feel. Or maybe not. We'll see.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Ankheg - redoing the monster manual




What Pokemon Taught Me About Worldbuilding

This is the first in a series of articles I started on Reddit and will be porting over to my blog for the sake of longevity. It's a series about looking at some of my biggest influences and seeing *why* they influenced me, and how. This one's about Pokemon.

1. Episodic Adventuring

  • Set yourself up for an easier time prepping by using an episodic structure. This will allow you to have generalized ideas of your world as a whole while only focusing on one location per session. 
  • It stops you from having the "open world" vs. "linear story" discussion because there isn't one with an episodic story. 
  • Each episode is linked, but how they are linked can be handwaved as traveling. 
  • The direction of travel isn't as important because you are essentially resetting the party's footing with each session. 
  • It creates a definite end and beginning to each session. Each session begins with the party coming to a place, or experiencing something new. Each episode ends with them moving on. 

2. Build the map as you go

  • You have your starting town and your first adventure, plus you have your list of ideas that sound cool. 
  • At the end of each session you can lay out some rumors for the party to choose from. 
  • When they pick one, just place that as the next spot on your "map". No fuss, no hassle. 
  • After 9 or 10 sessions you'll have a whole region mapped out. 

3a Theme

  • In the World of Pokemon, there is a core theme. Capture pokemon, battle them to become stronger, become the "very best". 
  • This is a goal and an attainable one. 
  • What is the core theme of your world? Boiling your world down to an idea this basic can free you up to explore ideas that are not complete in your head. 
  • You don't need to know why the nations are at war if your theme boils down to: go to town, capture base, win the war. 
  • Everything else can come from that and you can give your party this information as a pitch. If they're in, they're in. If not, try the next idea.

3b Location Theme

  • Instead of focusing on the minutiae of worldbuilding, when it comes to new locations in Pokemon, each one is based around its *own* theme. 
  • In Pokemon, each gym has its specialty, and from that specialty, the town grows. The rock town is rough and stoic. The ghost town is spooky and horrifying. 
  • Use those random ideas you have to be the fuel to flesh out the locations of your world. 
  • If we continue with the war example, you might have a list that includes: the horrors of war, the downward spiral, losing a friend, letters from home. 
  • Each of those will be a location in your world: a fresh battlefield where shellshocked soldiers call for the party's help, a wasteland where the weirdness of war pull at the party's sanity, a makeshift gravesite where the party faces their fallen comrades, a base with working water/comforts and a mailbox.

4a Enemies

  • The World Theme creates the enemies. 
  • In Pokemon, it's other trainers. 
  • In this War World (which I'm starting to grow fond of) it's the opposing army. 
  • You don't need to know everything about them, just that they are on the opposite side of your Party. 
  • They fight against the party because of the Theme. 
  • They oppose the party to fulfill the theme.

4b Recurring

  • Recurring enemies creates fondness, understanding, and something *other*. 
  • Just like a player can learn about their character by experiencing various situations and reacting to them, so can we learn about the enemy by experiencing them every session. 
  • And not a group of faceless nobodies. But people with faces and names. 
  • In Pokemon, it's Jesse and James. 
  • In this War World, it might be the seductress who is a double agent, or an opposing sniper who radios in to taunt the party. 
  • It's through repeated exposure that relationships and life are brewed. 

5. Random Encounters

  • In Pokemon, between each of gym battles, the gang has an encounter. Usually out in the woods, or on the road. 
  • These are just random encounters, and random encounters done right. Each one is impactful and lends itself to the overall theme. 
  • Each one involves the gaining of a pokemon, the battling of some strange trainer, the accomplishment of some bonding exercise, or the thwarting of the enemy trying to steal your power. 
  • In the War World, the random encounters could be POWs, a ruined village with survivors, mortar attacks, ambushes, a strange adventure where you have to dress fancy and mingle at some benefit. 
  • Create a list of 10 ideas and use that as your springboard for random encounters. 

6. Re-imagining the old

  • Pokemon is just a homebrew DnD world where the spells are living and wizards capture them to battle and grow stronger. 
  • You can create a fresh spin for *your* world just be fluffing something old (spells) as something new (pokemon). 
  • What if all monsters were just people, the name in the monster manual was their nickname? 
  • What if all the races were actually animals (humans are dogs, elves are cats)? 
  • What if dragons are just ideas that you can be infected with? 


These are some ideas that influence my worldbuilding. Maybe you can see them in some older posts. You can follow me on reddit. I've got a book coming out soon! It's at the printers, just making sure it all came together okay before it goes up in the shop. Stay tuned!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Animated Objects: Redoing the Monster Manual

So I like Beauty and the Beast. That's the animated objects I know. And other than them, I don't really know how to do them, or *why* to use them. They seem kinda wacky and weird. Especially how they are written.

The main thing I did was make it *not* because of a wizard. These objects are not serving anyone and they are not here for anyone. They are here because the person who owned/used them left something behind in them. Never on purpose. Just by force of will/character, a little bit of them was left behind in these objects, so now the objects act like them.

These are best used sparingly. Like, if the party is graverobbing and they open the tomb of a knight, the armor is animate with his personality. Or if the party is in an old kingdom, ruined by giants, there's an animated book that knows what happened.

Shit like that.

Other than that, follow the advice and watch Beauty and the Beast if you REALLY want to use animated objects. Cause, in the 5e MM, they're kinda boring.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Angels: Redoing the 5e Monster Manual

I already have angels in my world. Everyone in my world has an angel. They live inside your dreams and rarely show themselves on purpose. You have to seek them out. They're the kid in the yellow smock that's drawing with chalk on the pavement of that one weird nightmare you keep having.

They always have the yellow coat. They always have the chalk (they're often drawing you dying in horrible ways).

All angels are the daughters of Zweila, the giant who was to cut the head off the Ran (the world snake) before she was betrayed, her own sword stabbed into her. She escaped, like most giants, into a pocket dimension, left to bleed her white blood.

She holds her hands out, cupped to catch the trickle of blood from her mouth. Every so often there's a clot and it sludges out and falls in the pool of her palms, and this forms an angel.

They watch you from the dream plane hoping you'll be the one to pull the sword from Zweila and kill Ran.

I'm copying and pasting the rest from my reddit because I'm tired.


HD 25 HP 137 SPEED 220’ (flying/hovering/levitating/anything that allows them to not exert force)

AC 16 (high dex)

ATTACK Zweihander +8 to hit, 2d6 + 8 damage, 6d6 + 8 to demons (includes witches married to demons, half-demons, demon marked sorcerers, warlocks with demon patrons, or anyone with any positive association to a demon)

DEFENSE Immune to ranged attacks unless from another angel, Immune to Zweihanders, Offended by any attacks that don’t come from an immaculate weapon, also has a buckler shield that she will use on occasion (+2ac)

SPECIAL phobia of snakes (will not go to Ran and abhors the Serpent Prince) which imposes disadvantage to all rolls revolving around snakes in any capacity, and being presented with a snake has a 50/50 chance of snapping them into a battle frenzy or paralyzing them

Colorblind - they only see in shades of white on account of the milk they were born in

The Gift - Angels can reach inside you, as if your chest was a curtain, and pull from it something and gift it to you. They often do not know what will come out and are just as often disappointed by the lack of blood it spills.

Angel Appearances - or at your own discretion


  1. You critical fail at your most critical moment
  2. Someone crits you when you were about to do something great
  3. You fail your second death save
  4. After you anger the government
  5. Near a pit of snakes
  6. When someone breaks your heart


  1. Out of the corner of your eye
  2. In the back of a muscle car
  3. Parachuting down
  4. Out from under some bricks (or a manhole)
  5. The shadow of an alley or a passing cloud
  6. From your chest, which opens like a curtain for her

Why? - what they say when you ask

  1. I thought you needed a cheerleader, she says using air-quotes and rolling her eyes.
  2. You’re boring if you’re dead. shrugs
  3. It’s a job. Nothing personal. snaps rubber glove on hand
  4. Brushes dust off your shoulder Shut up.
  5. You’re just about useless.
  6. That’s a weird way of saying “thank you”, kid.


Angels can see what you really are, what creature wears your skin, what color your soul is. If they feel like it, they can pull this from your chest and let it face the world. It doesn’t have to be kind, or subservient. Most of the time they are violent and destructive. To help determine what this gift is, look at your birth month and year below.


There is no definite look that I can give you for your Angel Gift, but these are the ideas behind each month that give it its shape. Embellish and exaggerate whenever possible. And if needed, here’s a list of d12 animals to use as a base.

  1. Cat
  2. Dog
  3. Wolf
  4. Shark
  5. Bull
  6. Octopus
  7. Hawk
  8. Gecko
  9. Snake
  10. Lion
  11. Fox
  12. Whale


  1. January - shielded, solid parts for battering, clumsy
  2. February - sagging, tentacled beast, wrapped in aging debris
  3. March - pure evil, vile muck of a shadow, dripping with time
  4. April - berserking beast, jittering and hungry, rippling with energy
  5. May - immovable, unstoppable, gargantuan and blocky
  6. June - Vile, monstrous humanoid
  7. July - Many limbs, pincers, armor
  8. August - animal in nature, warped humanoid
  9. September - hunched and angry, pure instinct, humanoid
  10. October - made of machines and war, fire and neon
  11. November - Chimeric creature, human, animal, and alien
  12. December - a humanoid climbing out of an animal

YEAR - special ability/trait

  1. 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960 - Animated tiny minions
  2. 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961 - Super strength
  3. 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962 - Shadow form
  4. 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963 - Super speed
  5. 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964 - Combustion
  6. 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965 - Invisibility
  7. 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966 - Regeneration
  8. 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967 - Ethereal limbs
  9. 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968 - Polymorph into objects and animals
  10. 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969 - Telekinesis, levitation
  11. 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970 - Immortal
  12. 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971 - Laser eyes, thermal vision

Optional rule: You can roll a d12 for each option, they are all based off of 12 options.

What does it do? Why is it here?

This is a last ditch effort and also a test. If what comes out is an ally, then you’re more worthy than you were before. If what comes out is a monster and you slay it, you’re more worthy than before. To determine if it’s friend or foe, flip a coin. Have the player call it and catch it in your hand. Do not show them the result. Describe to them what it looks like as its pulled from them. Ask them what they do. If they respond “I wait” then you can look at the coin. The Gift will get an action before them.

Creating stats for your Angel’s Gift

The easiest thing to do, and a way to make it level with you and always be a viable option in-game is to give the gift your stats. HP, AC, etc, only modified by the appearance and traits. You could also base them off the stat-block of an animal or similar creature in order to create a feel. For instance, if an angel pulls something from a terrible villain, you could use the stat block for a powerful monster.

Who is Worthy?

One who has faced their Gift and has eaten a snake. One who has swallowed true courage and has faced the Leviathan in the Dreamwave. Dream jumper, demon slayer. Crafter of their own Zweihander.

Only they can pull the sword from Zweila and slay the Serpent Throne.