On Even More 5th Edition Monster Manual Comments

I've had some time to read over this book and there are even more thoughts that I have. (WARNING, This post contains some adult content!)

  • Why don't the angels have halos?
  • The book has both piercers and dark mantles, their 3.x replacement that supposedly made more sense. That has to be awkward at the christmas party.
  • Here is a list of monsters with ken doll parts that should have visible dongs. I'm leaving demons and angels off this list because they might have ken doll parts.
    •  what Ettin will wear pants? 
    • Fomorian says they wear scraps of cloth or less. The one in the picture has a swank belt!
    • Aarakocra
    • Azer (sculpted from bronze but wears a skirt)
    • Cyclopes
    • Werebear (all these lycanthropies have so many pants and clothes!)
    • Ogre
    • Nothic
      • It's totes important to note here that this is a game targeted at 12 year olds. I mean, I understand the lack of visible dongs. I'm not particularly into visible dongs. I'm just saying that visible dongs are a pretty monsterous thing. I mean, I hate pants and I'm all civilized. If I lived in the monster filled wilderness and I was a giant monster, I wouldn't start my day by looking for my pants.
  • They seriously went overboard with the anthropomorphization. Why does a cloaker or a chasme have a human head? Monsters very rarely seem like alien creatures. You can always locate their eyes and head. Is that intentional? Is it because of this research about locating eyes on creatures? Most of these monsters could be cosplayed by people in suits. Deliberate?
  • Digital motion blur. Uggghhhhhhhh. *stomps foot*
  • The lemur picture is the best
  • A tyrannosaurs is the same CR (8) as a young green dragon, and although it does slightly more damage in melee, it's considerably weaker than the dragon. Conclusion? Dragons are (again) under-rated for their CR.
  • Props to whoever painted the dinosaur pictures, I'm sad they are blocked out.
  • Monte Cook designs a female succubus, and the world loses its mind, Dopplegangers are rapists to reproduce, no one makes a peep. (And they shouldn't)
  • The dryad is stiff and underworked and bland for an impressionistic piece.
  • Two spells a level is still a lot of options for a spellcasting monster.
  • The empyrean and the Ettercap are examples of digital illustration gone wrong (you see that skirt on the Empyrean). Apologies to the artist(s) but you know you'll never see anything like that in a LotFP book.
  • The lycanthropy page runner is excellent.
  • Hags can inspire a whole witch hunting campaign themselves.
  • My, how well dressed are you, you hedonistic reveling Satyr. You look like you're going to a mid-level marketing seminar.
  • Lowering stats from an attack is still a terrible mechanic due to recalculation. (Yes, shadows still drain strength). I thought this was a solved problem with things like negative levels, or even doing things like having weakness points or something.
  • Maybe it's just the fact that my 6 person, level 2.8 party killed Venomfang in two rounds, but all of these monsters seem weak, unless there are a lot of them. The power level seems pretty similar, problems only come in when facing a lot of opponents.
  • A lot of these creatures are weirdly monochromatic. E.g. Wyvern, wraith, stirge, et. al.

I think the art here is more erratic than the art in the Player's Handbook. But it is a large full color book. It's clear (from the art reuse and stuff) that Wizards/Hasbro is looking to control cost. I'd imagine that although large to us, the art budget on this book was more limited than in the past. 

There are a lot of spectacular drawings, and some special recognition is due Christopher Burdett who just is constantly knocking these illustrations out of the park. He can, uh, illustrate my monster manual anytime.

I like more rawness and nudity in my art. Obviously this game for children isn't the place for it, but I don't like pictures of monsters that just look like people in rubber suits. I dislike that most all "monstrous" creatures in the manual are mostly handsome men and women, and the monstrous ones are still basically human shaped. I'm going to post some of my own illustrations to, ahem, illustrate what I mean. 

See? Dongs?
Interesting Female Nudity
Cultists are anti-pants
Don't you know dudes that look like this in real life?

On the Popularity of Games

Which Role Playing Game is the best role playing Game?

Wait, no.

Which is the most popular?

The truth is, we live in relative darkness about what games are being sold and what games are being played. To date, our best resource has been ICv2 which just tells us the top few best selling games through the retail channels.

This has allowed an awful lot of us to live in ignorance.  Didn't release a supplement this month? Nobody is playing your game!

What's more, is that the people in charge of the companies have no motivation to dispel any illusions the players have.

And it's not really a mud-slinging type industry—After all, products that focus on "fixing" things and are built around not having "problems" other gaming systems have don't do well. Or so I believe, and who's to tell me otherwise?

The Orr Group, that's who.

Who are the Orr Group? They are the Roll20 programmers who consumed Tabletop Forge when several people quit the project. (A slight exaggeration, Joshua Owen approached Roll20.) They provide a Virtual Table Top interface for people playing on-line games.

Now people don't like to have their illusions shattered. Anyone who doesn't like these numbers or facts will just come up with excuses about how it doesn't count home games, or people playing games on G+ online might not be using these pieces of software.

Well that's true. it's also true that those people don't understand statistics and sampling data either. After all, I play B/X so I don't need Roll20, so I'm not counted.

Let's look at the numbers we get for the third quarter of 2014.

THE ORR GROUP INDUSTRY REPORT is an overview of tabletop gaming ruleset popularity based on usage data from Roll20 Virtual Tabletop. Third Quarter results are as follows: Based on a sample size of approximately 25,000 games and 15,000 players.
Notes on how information is gathered:
  • “Games” = % of games where the Game Master said “this is what we’re playing.”
  • “Players” = % of players who were active in the quarter and filled in the “this is what I enjoy playing” field on their profile.
  • Percentages will total more than 100% because each player/game can have more than one game type designated. This is extremely common for players and rare for the games.
  • This only takes into account games/players which were active (e.g. game was played, player played at least one game) during the 3rd Quarter of 2014.
  • This is meant to be a representative sample, as it only takes into account games and players who filled out relevant fields on their game page/profile. There was significantly more than 25k games and 15k players who played in this quarter, but many do not fill out these fields.
  • The list of available games to select were curated by Roll20’s staff based on previous freeform survey results, and will be changing in the future.
Notes on Roll20 / THE ORR GROUP:
Roll20 began as an effort to keep developers and The Orr Group founders Riley Dutton, Nolan T. Jones, and Richard Zayas in touch via long distance gaming. Since launching via Kickstarter in April of 2012, Roll20 has attracted more than 600,000 users as a free service. The program continues to be funded by subscribers who receive features that assist advanced gameplay.

Did it match your expectations? Was the Popularity of the games played related to your internal narrative of which games are popular and which games are not?

Does it matter if more people are playing 1st edition than whatever game you are playing that isn't Dungeons and Dragons?

Hack & Slash 
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On 5e Backgrounds: Brewer/Drunk

A background, per a Patreon request!

You brew beer, alcohol, or other spirits, because doing so is important. But there was an accident. Perhaps the beer ran out, or something contaminated a large batch. For whatever reason, you don't brew beer any more.

Skill Proficiency: Gain proficiency in Intelligence (History) and Wisdom (Insight)
Tool Proficiency: Gain proficiency in brewers tools
Languages: Gain one additional language.
Equipment: Two mugs, a mini-keg, a bottle opener, a flask, a bowie knife, one weapon of your choice, a suit of leather armor, and a sleeping bag.

Reasons you no longer are a Brewer.

  1. The inside of a cask is not a place normal people sleep.
  2. I still maintain I don't have an unhealthy obsession with cats.
  3. I've been brewing beer for over a decade now, but you go get one monkey. . .
  4. Apparently no matter how much you dislike the people in your home town, using the kegs as your personal urinal/vomitorium was bad form.
  5. Disreputable brewing techniques using pixies. 
  6. People didn't like your Opium brew. Rather they did, and that was the problem.


You can tell the type and quality of a drink just by a small taste. You are also very familiar with bar culture, allowing you to gain investigation on any rolls made to find out information in taverns and bars.

Suggested Characteristics

Beer is important to the development of humanity and that's why you learned to brew it. People who drink beer are healthier and live longer, and they have more to live for. 
What are you like?

d6 Personality
  1. I'm tough enough to crush a can on my head. I'm tough enough for this.
  2. I don't know how I got involved in this. I just black-out and always show up in the strangest places.
  3. If I had to do something responsible with my life, it might as well be something enjoyable. 
  4. I'm not a fan of drunks, but I like beer and I like crafting it.
  5. My best customers are humanoids, not humans!
  6. I'd still be doing it today if I didn't dislike politics so much. 

d6 Ideal
  1. Hedonism: Everyone should be a little bit more concerned about their own happiness. (Chaotic)
  2. Isolation: I just want to be left alone to drink. (Neutral)
  3. Companionship: Nothing is better than the camaraderie of friends. (Good)
  4. Callousness: It's not my fault, I was drunk. (Evil).
  5. Chemist: The science and chemistry of brewing is magic! (Lawful)
  6. Inebriation: I don't drunk I'm think! (Chaoticsh Sloppy)
d6 Bond
  1. I lost my job, so now I need to find something else to do to support my family.
  2. My best customer is my best friend.
  3. I have a group of nearby non-human customers that need me to bring them beer, even if I don't brew it anymore
  4. I have a bunch of secret recipes that no one can ever have. They will make me rich someday.
  5. I have valuable brewing equipment that takes up a lot of space.
  6. I love going on adventures, but I have to come back pretty frequently to check on my brews. 

d6 Flaw
  1. "No! an ale is not a lager!" The world is filled with idiots and I'll never teach them.
  2. I have to be a little drunk to cope with even small things.
  3. Alcoholism isn't just a river in egypt.
  4. I might like the fighting more than the drinking. 
  5. Conservative teetotaling know-it-alls drive me crazy!
  6. The doctor says I have a bad liver, but I don't see what that has to do with drinking.

OSR Package
Running a B/X game? Give these advantages instead of proficiency and features. You can alos give these bonuses if running a 5e game using 3d6 for character generation.

  • Often Drunk. When Drunk +2 Str, +2 Con, -1 Int, -4 Wisdom.

  • Hack & Slash 

    On a Children's Quest, A Starter 5e Adventure.

    I'm High Quality. Click me to Download and Print.
    The below is a fantasy adventure for 1-4 second level characters with players ages 8 to 12. Running games for children that young requires special skills discussed On a Practical Guide to Playing Dungeons & Dragons with Children.

    Roofus Goodsman, the mayor's assistant, calls an audience with the players and says that Oracle, the town wise-woman has foretold that the players have a destiny to save the town. 

    There is a great evil ready to be loosed in a nearby ruin. The players must visit the ruin to stop the evil otherwise many bad things will happen. 

    He offers each of the players three items to each of the players and allows them to pick one. The items offered are dependent on the class of the character.

    Reasoning: This makes the children feel special and gives their characters a higher degree of survivability. It also provides a fun choice for the player to immediately make that increases their power and is a simple enough decision. Named items are in the Basic D&D .pdf

    Items to give to the players

    • Barbarian
      • A Talisman made from a large bear eye surrounded by yellowed teeth, that when worn, allows the wearer to make a Constitution check when reduced to 0 hit points or less to remain at 1 hit point. The DC is equal to the damage dealt.
      • +1 Great-axe made of runic steel that hums when wielded. It grants you +1 hit point per hit die.
      • An amulet made from the tail feathers of birds that have willingly donated them to your tribe that acts as an Amulet of Health
    • Bard
      • A masterwork musical instrument of the type the bard plays that grants you an extra bardic inspiration die
      • A jaunty cap that grants you an extra first level spell slot and advantage on charisma check 3 times a day
      • A worn pair of frogskin boots that act as Boots of Striding or Springing
    • Cleric
      • A luxurious silken stitched tabard in the colors of your god that grants you an extra first level spell slot and a bonus use of channel divinity
      • A holy symbol that increases your spell save DC by 2.
      • A set of thick golden gauntlets that act as Gauntlets of Ogre Power
    • Druid
      • A thorn amulet that increases your level by 3 for the purposes of wild shape.
      • A leather jerkin that gives you expertise in stealth while outdoors and grants you a second level spell slot.
      • A Vine ring that acts as a Ring of Evasion
    • Fighter
      • A well-used longsword that has a blade of iron with a hilt wrapped in oiled grey wyvern hide. The blade is decorated with a lightning motif. There is an ornate scabbard of Mithral inlaid with Lapis Lazuli. It acts as +2 magic sword
      • A footman’s shield made of ancient steel with the image of an oak leaf, within a eight-pointed star in white on a blue-green field. It acts +1 shield that allows you to recover an additional hit die during a short rest for free
      • An uncomfortable looking pair of books made from spider chitin, that act as a pair of Boots of Striding and Springing
    • Monk
      • A pair of wrist wraps that increase the monks armor class by 1 and allow the monk to do an extra point of damage with unarmed attacks.
      • A headband that provides an additional 2 ki points.
      • A simple stone band that acts as a Ring of Protection
    • Paladin
      • A golden shield that is a +1 shield that glows and grants an extra 1st level spell slot.
      • A heavy silver maul, inlaid with the symbols of your god that acts as a +1 Maul that causes divine smites to do 1d10 points instead of 1d8.
      • Fishscale gloves of swimming and climbing
    • Ranger
      • A longbow made of cherry wood. The grip is wrapped in black leather. The bowstring is actually a fine chain made of sinister brass.  It acts as a +2 longbow
      • An elven lightblade composed of iron, with a hilt wrapped in pebbled black leather. A blood groove runs the length of the blade on each side. The large, round pommel is stamped in copper with the image of a centipede. It grants the two-weapon fighting style and an extra 1st level spell slot.
      • A darkleaf amulet around an acorn that acts as an Amulet of Health
    • Rogue
      • A dagger that has a blade of steel with a hilt wrapped in pebbled brown deer leather. The pommel is in the shape of a spike and screws off to reveal a hollow hilt. It is a magical dagger that grants an extra 1d6 sneak attack damage and returns to your hand using your reaction.
      • A dark cloak made of shadow silk, that grants a +2 bonus on perception and stealth checks.
      • A small cap that acts as a Bag of holding
    • Sorcerer
      • A a kinked yew wand with a head of large Aquamarine, that glints with a yellowish light while underground that contains an additional 1st and 2nd level spell that can be cast using the sorcerer's spell slots.
      • A silver bracelet that grants an additional first level spell slot and an additional sorcery point.
      • A green marble wand, ending in the shape of a ball of antlers of Magic Detection
    • Warlock
      • A dark iorn bracer that grants an additional spell known
      • A steel ring covered in hooks that causes 1d4 points of damage if removed that grants a +2 bonus to damage cast by spells.
      • A glass ring filled with blood that acts as a Ring of Protection
    • Wizard
      • A golden ring that grants the wizard the ability to prepare an additional spell and increases the DC of every spell by 2.
      • A hat covered in moons and stars that allows you go retrieve small objects three times a day
      • A crystalline wand with a sapphire tip that is a Wand of Magic Missiles

    The Adventure

    Hand the Players the Map

    The first choice: The ruin lies to the north east. There are two routes, a shorter but more dangerous route through the Mirkmire woods, or a longer path through the Baleful hills.

    Show them the map and let them make their choice.

    Let them feel free to ask questions about the map and walk them along. Those things on the map are actually there. Use this opportunity to describe the road, the nearby farmhouse, the turtle in the road, the nearby well, and other sites on the map. Descriptions of each location are listed below.

    Advice: Treat the world as living and dynamic, allowing them to interact with anything. They may have ideas about what things are, and being loose and going with their ideas while injecting creativity and things they don't expect can lead to a fun session. Anytime they appear frustrated, giving them some options and likely consequences of making each choice is a good idea. Feel free to remind the players that they can ask questions.

    • The turtle in the road has a patterned shell, with one spot that is opalescent.
    • The house north of the road is deserted. Rations can be found within. It is unclear what happened to the people who lived there.
    • The tree nearby the house has a beehive.
    • The cow is white and is quite friendly.
    • If they climb down into the well, they can find a small sack in the bottom that contains 100 gold coins.
    • The small pond has an aggressive frog that gives players the stink eye if they mess with it.
    • The field of flowers is filled with sprites who dance and play in the air. If the player approach they turn invisible and disappear. If there is a ranger or druid and they watch for a while and leave an offering, the sprites might approach and grant the characters advantage on the next ability check they make.
    • This sign is weathered and points in three directions. The arrow pointing towards the town is labeled Brighton. The arrow pointing north says Mirkmire Woods. The sign that points south says Baelful woods.
    • The Crystal lake is calm, with a rocky southern shore. If the characters investigate the waterfall behind it they find a small pool with a hatching dragon egg. Out crawls a pseudo-dragon who imprints on one of the party members, focusing on pure spellcasters first.
    • Attempting to pass around the eastern edge of the woods causes Rock Trolls on the upper ledge to drop rocks on the player characters. The ledge is 40 feet up and must be climbed. (Rock Troll Stats as Kobolds.) There are 2 rock trolls +1 for every member of the party over 4. The rolling rocks do 1d8 damage if they hit, and the character must make a Dexterity saving throw or fall to the bottom of the hill.

    The Southern Path

    While traveling through the southern hills, the party is attacked by a single rock gnome named Phil. He doesn't attack the party with weapons, but instead with words. If the party ignores him, he becomes bored and wanders off. If they attack him, he begins to attack them with cutting words. (verbal attacks that do 1d6 points of damage, with a +4 attack bonus). If the party hits him, he splits into two half-sized gnomes, that continue attacking the party. If the party hits those gnomes, they turn into two half-half-sized gnomes which continue attacking the party with insults. If the half-half-sized gnomes are hit, they die. If at any time the party flees, the gnomes stop attacking.
    Reasoning: Attacking people who insult you only grants them more ammunition.

    The house on the hill is the home of a wretched looking woman, with a long nose that has a big wart with thick hairs growing out of it. She is hunched over, has bulging eyes, and wears a dark coat of beasts that looks like rats crawling over her skin. Her name is Esmeralda and she, although scary sounding is quite nice. If the players attack her, she attacks back and is quite powerful (stats as an Oni). If she wins the combat, she heals any characters back to full health, and deposits them at the crossroads by the pond. If the players are kind to her, she invites them in, and blesses them with charms of protection. The next creature that wishes to attack fails on their first successful attack automatically. Reasoning: Appearances can be deceiving.

    The cave is the home of an ogre named Blorp. He is frightening and scary, making loud roaring and groaning sounds, but is really peaceful and sad. He attacks as an Ogre if the players fight him. But if they are nice to him and find a way to make him happy, he can be friendly. Reasoning: Sometimes new things or people can be scary but are really nice

    The Northern Path

    The Mirkmire woods. These woods are dark and spooky. It should just be a three hour journey through the woods, but they are enchanted. At the end of every hour, make DC 10 Wisdom checks for the party. For every two cumulative failures, they wander around in circles (the hour doesn't count) and they are attacked by 1 Giant Spider per 2 members of the party. If the party wipes, they wake up at full health outside the forest.

    If the players make it through the woods, they find a vicious Dire wolf near the exit. It growls scarily at them, but is really just very afraid. If the characters befriend it and remove it of the painful infection it has (cure light wounds), then it can be a loyal companion.

    The Ruin

    Outside the ruin, there is a very wizened old man who is about two feet tall and quite frail. He floats above the ground about 3 feet, but appears very sick. He calls the players to him and says that he is the guardian of a great evil and his life is almost over. He needs someone to take over his job or the evil will get free and run rampant. But if they take this job, the won't ever be able to leave, stuck here until it is almost time to die. Let the players talk it over for a minute, but if they can't decide, tell them they don't think the old man is going to live very much longer.

    No matter which decision they make, they here an evil laughter coming from beneath the stairs. They are attacked by a death knight (Skeleton) with red glowing eyes and wearing ancient armor. His armor class is 17, and he has 3d8 hit point per member of the party. He also has the Undead Fortitude special ability as a Zombie.

    Death Knight (Skeleton)

    Medium Undead, Lawful Evil
    Hit Points: 3d8 + 6 per party member
    Speed: 30'

    Strength: 10 (+0)
    Dexterity: 16 (+3)
    Constitution: 15 (+2)
    Intelligence: 6 (-2)
    Wisdom: 8 (-1)
    Charisma: 5 (-3)

    Damage Vulnerabilities: bludgeoning
    Damage Immunities: Poison
    Condition Immunities: exhaustion, poisoned
    Senses: darkvision 60 ft. Passive Perception 9
    Languages: Common
    Challenge: 3 (700 XP)

    Undead Fortitude. If damage reduces the Death Knight to 0 hit points, it must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of the damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, the Death knight has 1 hit point left.
    Terrifying Gaze. As a reaction, the Death Knight my gaze at any opponent that successfully hits it with a melee attack. The target must make a DC 9 Wisdom save, taking 10 (3d6) psychic damage and moving away from the Death Knight using their reaction, or half damage only on a successful save.


    Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft. One target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) Piercing damage.

    Flame Gaze. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 80/320 ft., One target. Hit:  6 (1d6 + 3) fire damage.

    Hack & Slash Like this adventure and think it's a cool thing to get for free? Tell somebody on the internet about it!
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    On a Practical Guide to Playing D&D with Children

    A lot of people have been talking about introducing their children (6-12) to Dungeons & Dragons to 5th edition.

    This is like discussing quilt crafting by examining the threading of the needle. Who cares how the needle is threaded if the quilt is completed?

    Threading the Needle

    When you are playing with children, you are playing with people. React to them as people first not as children.

    Yet they are children. Do not let this contradiction confuse you. It is empowering.

    There are physical constraints for children, they have a drive to move. Sessions should be short (2-3 hours) and have frequent breaks to get needs met. Some will want to play act. Others will want to run around. Still others will want to sit still and pay stoic attention. As people first, respect this and acknowledge that that is the fun for them.

    Learning to manage these types of conflicts is how one grows into an adult.

    Do not over-explain. As the adult, they already expect you to have all of the answers. It will not surprise or impress them that you know the answer to their question. What they need is time to think about what they have been told. Answer the questions they have, even if you know it to be the wrong question. If they are asking it, it is the right question for them.

    Sometimes children will complain. "This isn't fair" or "I wanted the magic sword" or "Why didn't the baby dragon like me?". And the thing they complain about, being children, is almost always a true thing. The best response to hearing such a complaint is to agree. If it is true, shouldn't it be recognized as such?

    Children in this age range are still learning how to express their thoughts and feelings. Your statements should be designed in such a way to guide them to a place where they feel comfortable doing so. This often involves saying things and waiting longer than you feel is comfortable before moving on. 

    "The Ogre roars and threatens you with the club. Julie, it is your turn. You can do anything you like, is there anything you would like to do?"
    Long Pause
    [continues] "You can pull out your bow and fire an arrow at him. Or you could draw your sword and shield and guard Thomas, or you could run away. If you can think of any other ideas those might be good too! Would you like to do one of those?"
    Often they will have crazy ideas or want to do things that aren't covered by the rules. Those rules weren't written to make children sad. This doesn't mean they should get everything they want either. Letting them try and succeed on a success, and partially succeed on a failure with some creative drawbacks will be an interesting pattern to add.

    Qualities of the Fabric

    Children want to accomplish things as well as testing their values and beliefs! They are focused on learning and applying skills, dealing with peers, competition, and self-control.

    Obviously individuals will vary.

    Children 8 to 9 years old:

    • Will make faces and noises and be silly: Accept it and don't take it seriously 
    • Will want to know why things happen: Answer all their questions.
    • Will tend to overestimate their characters ability and internalize all failures: Point out what they can actually do without removing the challenge and focus on the fact that learning and trying are what's important.
    • May also be really hard on themselves and overly dramatic: Encourage them and point out that everyone makes mistakes.
    • Also like immediate gratification: So frequently find some small way to reward them immediately in the game. 
    • Have shorter attentions spans and need more physical activity: Limit game time to 90 minutes with frequent breaks.
    Children 9 to 10 years old:
    • Suddenly discover their development is unequal between genders: Don't compare the boys and girls during the game. 
    • Are at the point where they can focus and sustain interest and gain more abstract reasoning skills: Longer games, but it's important that you give them time to think and respond to problems.
    • Sometimes they may act out if the feel ostracised: If this happens reiterate their importance, their role in the group, and that you accept them, even if the acting out isn't appropriate.
    • They may have an obsessive focus on fairness: Acknowledge that things are unfair. Talk to them about how it's ok not to succeed and win because that's part of playing. 
    • Children at this age are into group adventures and social activities!
    Children 10 to 11 years old:
    • You are going to need food at the table.
    • They will begin to argue with you using logic: Engage them in discussion and encourage them to use logic. Think about what they say and if it makes sense go with it. 
    • Becomes even more focused on justice and morality. Really focuses on things that aren't right and aren't fair: Acknowledge this inequity. This is a great way to motivate these children ("Something is wrong in townsville!"). Sometimes their sense of justice or rightness will be personal, subjective, and quite rigid. Accept this and support the feelings about the rightness and wrongness.
    Children 11 to 12 years old: 
    • Much more likely to challenge what you say: This is not an attack. Don't become defensive, you're the adult. They aren't attacking you, they are trying to figure out why.
    • May seek to become more independent of the party: Encourage them to support their teammates and point out that helping them will allow them to help the player. Allow and encourage opportunities for them to take their own actions in the game. 
    • May engage in exaggeration or be subject to unreasonable or frequent worry: Understand and be supportive, don't overreact to sudden mood changes or exaggeration.

    Stitching the Quilt

    Allow setbacks to happen. These can often focus a group and allow them the enjoyment of working as a team to overcome a problem.

    If you're playing with children, you should consider kid friendly tropes. A small child crying. A noble quest given by a trusted authority figure. A small animal in trouble ("Wonder pets, wonder pets, we're on the way. . .")

    Monsters generally attack the person with the highest hit points, because that's the toughest looking player! 

    The worst thing that can happen is that a player is knocked out, unless you judge that it shouldn't be.

    Remember that the description in this case is both more important and more powerful then it would be in an adult. Keep this in mind as you use your words, for you are literally constructing the framework that allows the children to feel empowered via their confidence in their imagination. 

    Everyone should have a chance to feel important. It isn't cheating to make sure everyone gets spotlight time. Doesn't the spotlight feel nice? Who doesn't like to feel nice? If you listen very closely, you can augur where they want the spotlight to be. 

    Props, battlemats, pictures, and physical objects are so cool. BE COOL.

    Quilt Patterns

    For ideas and frameworks that communicate working imagination paradigms, watch episodes of Adventure Time, Spongebob Squarepants, Power Rangers, and Yo Gaba Gaba. See at least 1 episode of Wonder Pets.

    Finishing the Quilt

    This is not advice for Playing 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons with children. This is advice for playing games that allow freeform exploration of fantastic spaces with children: 4th edition, Pathfinder, 13th age, FATE, whatever you like.

    The rules, what would really happen, and playing the game "correctly" are secondary in first experiences to Dungeons & Dragons. 

    Did the players enjoy themselves? This does not mean that the quilt keeps you warm, only that they will use the quilt again.

    After all, we are all children. Now we are just children who know better. 

    Hey! If this is like the 10th or 20th time you've been directed to my blog, why don't you just follow the blog already? or maybe circle me on Google +. And if you've been finding what I do useful, and want to see more of it, Support me on Patreon and get to see a lot more of it, along with office hours and even more blog posts. 
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    On Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Episode III Remix, Part II

    Dragons are not creatures like you and I.

    The beginning of this was pretty standard room and trap fare, but when the players leave after encountering the dragon creche, they should say—that's not like any dungeon I've ever seen!

    So in each of the dragon and dragon spawn chambers, there's going to be environmental effect, some that do the battlefield game of a little extra damage. Others that whisper dragon to the part of your brain that recognizes them as master.

    You may also note that I'm listing out the DC's and skills for each trap, because apparently the rules weren't finished yet. Many of the rooms are using verbiage from older drafts of 5e ("Readiness scores and Incidental spotting")

    Room 7: Drake Nursery

    So the gate blocks off this pit which is where the ritual to create a guard drake is performed.

    What is this ritual? I'm so glad you asked! Instead of consuming a worm from a dragon egg, the victim—a cultist or captive who has committed some offense or crime—is forced to drink the blood of a dragon of the color of the guard drake they are to become. Blue in this case. This cup-full of dragon blood is enchanted so that the victim falls catatonic, but completely aware of their surroundings. Paralyzed with eyes open, a dragon egg worm is released on the face of the victim where it promptly seeks out a burrows into an available eye. It makes its way to the brain, at which point, it begins transforming the person in to a guard drake. As noted in the description, the drakes can understand draconic and any language they knew in life—because the mind of the person transformed is whole within the beast. Trapped inside an alien body they no longer control, they suffer as prisoners for the entire life of the creature, which, since barring accident or murder, guard drakes appear to be immortal, can be a long time.

    So, they got that going for them.

    Oh, there's also some dragon dogs here, who take it as their highest priority to release the drakes from their pen.

    Environment: Besides the overwhelming scent of Ozone that the drakes (and all blue draconic creatures produce) anytime anyone speaks while fighting with blue drakes, everyone hears what they say come from the mouth of the blue drake and people regularly hear the people they are fighting with make loud draconic roars. Anyone making a melee attack against a blue drake must succeed at a DC 10 Wisdom save or find themselves having switched places with the drake. No long term affects result from this besides disorientation.

    Traps: Spike trap: Passive Wisdom (Perception) 15, Intelligence (Investigation) DC 10, or discovered automatically if testing the floor ahead of the party. 20% chance per character to take 1d4 piercing + DC 10 Constitution save vs. poison. Causes confusion for 1 minute if failed, for 1 round if you succeed.

    Avoidance: Avoid stepping on the camouflaged floor.

    Chapter II: There are triple the number of Dragon-dogs and drakes in this chamber.

    Room 8: Dragon-dog Barracks

    Oh, look, a boring room with some treasure and monsters. 

    The first thing to note is that this room looks like a frat house, but instead of having beers, they have people. Half-eaten rotten corpses lie everywhere, flies are swarming around, vomit and crap lie in piles. Anyone performing melee in the room has to make a DC 10 Dexterity check each round to avoid slipping and giving them disadvantage on their attack. Also, everything in this room is surprisingly flammable!

    Traps: Collapsing Ceiling: Passive Wisdom (Perception) 15, Wisdom (Perception) DC 10, automatic if checking the stairway; 50% chance to collapse the ceiling on the person following.

    Avoidance: It's only half the step, so it can be avoided by going down the correct side of the stairway, instead of needing to skip a step. 

    Chapter II: Very active with double the number of kobolds here.

    Room 9: Dragon Shrine

    The black shrine to Tiamat.

    Zero Content: First, any writing not devoted to Tiamat flares up and burns to ash as soon as there is a line of effect from the shrine to the person carrying it.
    Void of the Black Wing: Secondly in front of the shrine there is a black vortex. It's a ball of inky purple blackness about the size of a soccerball floating in front of the shrine, and black-purple tendrils stretch throughout the room. Anyone taking damage in this room must succeed at a DC 15 Constitution save or take another 1d4 necrotic damage. This is stored in a pool that dragons and draconic creatures can access as an action to grant themselves hit points.

    TrapsTrap Name: Passive Wisdom (Perception) 15, Intelligence (Investigation) DC 15, automatic if the chest is inspected for traps.  Description: The chest requires a DC 10 Dexterity check to unlock, and a DC 15 Dexterity check to disarm. On a failure to disarm the trap is set off. Taking real world measures to bypass the trap work (i.e. figuring out a new way to depress the plate. Removing the rear of the chest with flame paste, et. al.)

    Avoidance: Keys man, keys. Rezmir has the key. 

    Aside: If Cyanwrath is dead, he's not here. The bezerkers could be half-dragons also. Personally, I'd have him use his breath, cut down anyone that's weak, pump back up on hit points, and then flee using the bezerkers for cover. Why he fights to the death is beyond me. Plus, players love to chase down a bad guy. Also, Cyanwrath owns a potion of fly.

    Chapter II: Cyanwrath has his full guard compliment of 8 half-dragon bezerkers.

    Room 10: Dragon Hatchery

    You know where you don't want to be?

    A dragon hatchery

    Environment: The walls in this room ooze acid. Every minute spent in the room by a non-draconic creature requires a DC 15 Constitution save or you take 1d8 acid damage from the burning to your lungs.

    The guard drakes in here are black guard drakes.
    Festering wounds: Black drake attacks do 1d6 points of damage the round after the successfully strike a foe as the wound festers and burns.
    Disco Confusion: When in bright light, mirrored reflections of the people around it dance in a confusing holographic array, making ranged attacks take place at disadvantage.
    Persistence of Memory: Sometimes, after fighting these drakes, the world forgets your name.

    Sweet, anyone want to try and raise a black dragon? At this stage they are still worms, allowing the characters to create 10-100 dragon dogs or guard drakes, if they have a penchant for such things, but they only have a tenday (this is Forgotten Realms, remember?) meaning each day 1-10 worms are eaten by the other worms.

    Also, sticking an out of depth roper in here is a nice nod to the Sunless Citadel Debacle.  I see you Steve Winter.

    Chapter II: There are eight eggs here, and twice as many guard drakes

    Room 11: Frulam Mondath's Chamber

    No changes. Mondath needs a personality, since she's not given much of any text until this point.

    Random generation says she's: Fanatical and Cautious, she's a physical fitness buff and has a narrow bering. She views herself as having the spirit of a dragon and is tired of the constant shit she has to take from everyone.

    Nice that her actions and motives are dynamic. Sanctuary and her potion of Invisibility I just gave her should give her a fighting chance to flee from the party.

    TrapsCarpet Pit: Passive Wisdom (Perception) 10, automatic if looking or checking for traps; I prefer cumulative sum for falling damage, as Gygax intended it. 1d6+2d6+3d6=6d6 falling damage for the 30 foot fall. If you are running this and you cringe at that, then I promise you after puberty, you'll enjoy it a lot more. 

    Avoidance: Don't step on the sagging rug.

    Room 12: Guard Barracks

    The guards that are left here should be engaged in a touching ritual, where they are gleefully worshiping Tiamat. The details of this should be strange and mildly to severely disturbing. Adjust to taste. The important part is that they are totally stoked about what they are doing, super friendly to party members, and actively encourage them to join in.

    Room 13: Treasure Storage

    If woken up and not killed outright, this cultist doesn't want to be in the cult anymore, and instead wants to be a henchman. He's socially awkward and laid back and is interested in minutia. His name is Rank Magus, and he has a long neck.

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    On Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Episode III Remix, Part I

    A moment before we get into the work of remixing Episode III.

    I've seen a lot of people giving Wolfgang Baur and Steven Winter a hard time for this adventure path.

    I don't think it's fair to say that the module is bad or a failure simply because it compares negatively to some of the best adventure modules ever written (e.g. Masks of Nyarlathotep). This was written on a deadline as work for hire. Wolfgang has written one of the best modules ever written (Kingdom of the Ghouls from Dungeon Magazine #70). HotDQ is a huge project on a tight deadline with a rule set that is still in flux. It's not supposed to be wildly creative, it's supposed to show off the system. So my attempt at remixing it and any comments made are not designed to reflect negatively on either of the designers. Lots of people are running HotDQ as written and it's going fine.

    Those people aren't me and likely aren't in the OSR. Onward with the remix.

    A Dungeon

    Obviously this was marked as "Party's first dungeon" and someone came in and did it by the numbers. There's an awful lot wrong with this dungeon. How many people got poisoned to death getting a sandwich?

    Still, let's start from the beginning:

    Assuming the characters returned from either rescuing Leosin or failing to do so, someone, Tarbaw Nighthill, Escobert the Red, Leosin, whoever, tells the character's that they need eyeballs on the camp and they are worried about whatever is being held in that cave.

    If for some reason, they visited the cave when they were at the camp the first time, everything is as I've remixed it below, along with additional notes about increased troop strength. It's likely if they investigate the cave in chapter II, they will end up captured and back to the situation where they are sent back to start this chapter as chapter III.

    That would confuse me, except this is meant to be run at Encounters and in game stores, hence the sharp division between chapter II and chapter III. Hell, a lot of these changes alone can double or triple the running time of these missions, which might not fit in well to 2 hour encounter sessions.

    Abandoned Camp

    Most of the facts here as noted in the module are fine. The issue comes that there is absolutely nothing interesting going on in the abandoned camp. Oh, except some scouts, who don't talk to anyone, unless they do, and then they say as little as possible. 

    Here's a table of interesting things going on in the abandoned camp:

    • Two of the scouts are fighting over a tied up villagewoman
    • A lone Dragon-Dog is furiously digging somewhere in the rear of the camp.
    • A single cultist is painting a large wooden signboard with the phrase "Free Couch" and an arrow.
    • A group of three cultists stands on the north side of camp arguing about which way to go.
    • 1d4 of the scouts are standing around cutting meat.
    None of these people are actively hostile to the players, none of them care much about what's going on in the cave. 

    The Dragon Cave

    "Episode 3 is familiar territory: an old-fashioned dungeon. This one is a dragon hatchery manned by a handful of cultists, some monsters, and everyone’s favorite low-level foe, kobolds. In a larger sense, it takes what players learned in episodes 1 and 2 and puts it all to the test: problem solving, risk assessment, exploration, and combat." - Steven Winter
     Obviously "make a dungeon" is a different thing than "make the best damn dungeon ever".

    Aside: Let me tell you, there are some super boring and terrible one page dungeons. Making a dungeon interesting is hard, so I'm going to take what Steve Winter says above and try to merge that with the most interesting thing I can manage.

    The dungeon is not strictly linear, nor is it flat, so that's excellent. Since kobolds are often skinned as trapmakers, and the dungeon is full of traps, we're going to go full on trap agency with this.

    Structurally, I would add a connection between room 5 and room 9, as well as a secret path from 2 to 11.

    Room 1: Cave Entrance

    There are several nude corpses in this room. These are cultists who have taken the worm, unsuccessfully. Sometimes (quite frequently in fact) the kobolds burst from the gut and chest of the bearer, after eating their way out. All the players can tell is that the corpses in this room look like they have exploded from the inside out. The dragonclaw guards hide as normal.
    Chapter II: In Chapter II, there are triple as many guards (6 instead of 2), and several of the cultists have yet to die, but are weakly moaning as they are eaten from the inside out. Instead of attacking, they call for reinforcements. Note that if the players a subtle, they could possibly sneak in this room and charm/sleep/alpha strike this group before an alarm is sounded.

    Room 2: Concealed Passage

    Other than the detritus of the dragonclaws "readiness", this area is unchanged. The DC 20 perception check should be made into a DC 20 passive perception check and should be automatic (as noted) for anyone who actually walks into the darkness.

    Room 3: Fungus Garden 

    Oh, you keep the violet fungi, but on a successful attack or if the characters fall into the fungus patch, require DC 10 Constitution saves. On a failure, the character begins to hallucinate

    1. Everyone the character sees turns melty and then is replaced by a reptillian doppelganger.
    2. Bugs start swarming out of the walls and floor and are covering the character's hands and arms. 
    3. The walls and room catch fire and you are unbearably hot, willing to do anything to cool off.
    4. A monkey ran up and stole you Macguffin, and then hid in random team-mates backpack. Once you find him he only steals something else and runs away. If anyone tries to reassure you, they must be in on it.
    5. You feel sick and the walls are closing in and you know you are going to die any minute.
    6. Everything is just, really, really, funny. Laugh out loud funny. Ringing echoing laughs.
    Also, there is now a halfling named Tom Haverford who is naked and hanging upside down from the ceiling. He's lazy and obsessed with looking dapper. Rescuing Tom puts you in range of the fungus. He is awake or unconscious as you desire.   
    Traps: Stair Trap: Passive Wisdom (perception) 20, Active Wisdom (Perception) 15. Automatic if inspecting the stairs before going down. 
    Violet Fungus: Intelligence (Investigation) DC 15 to spot the correct path through the fungus or Intelligence (Nature) 15 to spot the fungus.  

    Avoidance: Cultists know where not to walk.

    Room 4: Stirge Lair

    So, you have to avoid cat-sized deadly mosquitoes to get something to eat? No. Just no.

    The bat storm is a nice idea, but the thought of every cultist needing to make a DC 10 Dexterity (Stealth) check just to eat or go get a lizard is a bit far-fetched. What is this room now?

    Empty. A big, creepy, empty room that echos and casts shadows everywhere. It's hollow and it echos and it's a bit creepy, and every time the players enter it, you roll a random encounter check because it's the center of the complex.

    Be sure to mention the spears leaning against the east exit by the stairs.

    Room 5: Troglodyte Incursion

    A real opportunity is missed here. The room setup and the player skill focus is good. Troglodytes attack is dull. Here are some other options for Troglodyte interactions.

    1. Busy inscribing religious pictograms on the wall, plenty eager and polite to acquire new worshipers, centered around sexual acts and giving birth. 
    2. Torturing an unlucky cultist, who is eager to be rescued. Troglodytes not hostile to party, believe that they are making him very happy due to his mouth noises.
    3. Room seems like a convenient place for sexual activity.
    4. Busy holding off an underdark invasion of driders
    5. Trying to scrape together enough dope for a second bowl
    6. Just looking to hang out and have a beer like excellent dudebros. All around good guys, just waiting for their dark god to destroy the world. 
    No matter what happens, they think the party is a bunch of real jerks and aggressive pricks if they attack them. During the fight they constantly complain about how mean they are and want to know why they are so hostile.

    Room 6: Meat Locker 

    So the trap is foreshadowed well by the placement of the spears above.  Them leaning against the staircase provides the clue and explanation needed for the larder trap. The room is empty otherwise, which is fine, though I'm a fan of rot grubs being around in old meats.
    Traps: Poisoned Hooks: Passive Wisdom (Perception) 20, Intelligence (Investigation) DC 15; The book makes it sound as if the hooks aren't visible, leading to the conclusion that it can't be perceived, but it can be investigated. Of course, specifically inspecting the curtain for traps will automatically discover the hooks.
    Avoidance: Planting one of the spears in the ground to push the curtain aside. 

    Tune in for Part II of the Episode III remix later this week, for the other 7 rooms. 

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