Friday Link Dump

Just a few interesting links I've come across this week...
  • I've never played or GMed a true hexcrawl, but I happened across this series of adventures by Frog God Games. I don't know for sure if I'll ever run any of them, but I plan on picking up the first one just to see what all the fuss is about.
  • This is a cool idea: printing Dwarven Forge compatible dungeon terrain. Sure it takes hours for each piece and 3D printers are insanely expensive, but if I could get my hands on one for a decent price, I'd be churning these out by the dozens.
  • Alright, I'm joining the movement and spreading the word (even if it is right before the Indiegogo campaign is over). I think these would be awesome, and I think America should invest.

Blake Marquis, Vampire Aspirant

Blake Marquis was the new ruler of a previously abandoned tower in Cormanthor. He, along with some mercenaries and a handful of devoted followers, cleared the tower of its previous inhabitants. The tower itself was constructed years ago by the Zhentarim as an outpost, but was abandoned shortly after Randal Morn freed Daggerdale from Zhent rule. Since he began using it, Blake has turned the place into a haven for his own little cult full of humanoids who wish to become vampires.

Blake has been trying for months to gain admittance to a secretive group of vampires who operate in the Dales and the Moonsea regions. He and his followers admire their power and want the same. The vampires are less sure of his goals, however. They see enough potential in him not to kill him, but don't feel that he has proven himself worthy to join the ranks of their elite. In their eyes, he relies to heavily on a magic staff that he happened upon rather than having what it takes to pull his weight in their organization. He is crafty and determined, and sometimes useful, so the vampires do use him for various tasks that are either too mundane or too risky for them to take on themselves.

Most recently, Blake was charged with tracking down a magic chest that had been thought lost to the organization years ago. He did find it, but his mission was interrupted when he captured a group of adventurers who reportedly had information on how to open the chest. These adventurers turned the table on him, and though his body was not recovered after an explosion atop his own tower, he is presumed dead.

Blake Marquis    CR 5
XP 1,600
Human sorcerer 6
NE Medium humanoid (human)
Init +6; Senses Perception +4

AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 15 (+4 armor, +1 deflection, +2 Dex, +1 dodge)
hp 35 (6d6+12)
Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +7
Resist cold 5; DR 5/- vs. nonlethal damage

Speed 30 ft.
Melee spear +2 (1d8–1/×3)
Bloodline Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th; concentration +9)
6/day—grave touch (target shaken or frightened)
Sorcerer Spells Known (CL 6th; concentration +9)
3rd (4/day)—lightning bolt (DC 17)
2nd (6/day)—false lifegust of wind (DC 16), spectral hand
1st (7/day)—chill touchmage armor, magic missile, obscuring mist, shocking grasp
0 (at will)—acid splash, dancing lights, detect magic, light, mage hand, ray of frost, read magic
Bloodline undead

Before Combat The sorcerer casts mage armor.
During Combat The sorcerer favors his ranged spells, casting lightning bolt or magic missile, or using his spectral hand to deliver shocking grasp attacks. He prefers ranged combat, using a potion of fly or levitate to avoid opponents on the ground.
Base Statistics Without mage armor, the sorcerer's base statistics are AC 14, touch 14, flat-footed 11.

Str 8, Dex 15, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 16
Base Atk +3; CMB +2; CMD 16
Feats Dodge, Eschew Materials, Improved Initiative, Spell Focus (evocation)
Skills Fly +10, Knowledge (arcana) +9, Linguistics +2, Perception +4, Spellcraft +10 (+12 to identify magic item properties)
Languages Common, Draconic, Elven
SQ bloodline arcana (humanoid corporeal undead are treated as humanoids for the purpose of which spells affect them)
Combat Gear potion of fly, potion of gaseous form, potion of levitate

How Were We Supposed to Beat That?

A few weeks ago, one of my players uttered that question at the end of a particularly difficult encounter with a drow mage. "How were we supposed to beat that?"

My answer was, "Well... I expected you to be creative, and you were."

I knew that they didn't have a true answer to one of his most basic abilities: deeper darkness. One character had a stone with continual light cast on it, though, so they weren't entirely helpless. I ruled that the two effects would negate one another, but only in a five foot radius around the stone. Blue (the character with the light rock) was central to their victory even though he didn't do much damage. From moving around with the stone enough for the characters around him to get glimpses of the battlefield, to rolling it like a bowling ball toward their enemy, the group's creative uses of that stone allowed them to defeat the drow.

I just love good fights that require players to think outside of the "which weapon/spell/ability will do the most damage this round" box.

Review: Ultimate Campaign by Paizo Publishing

A few weeks ago, I grabbed a copy of Ultimate Campaign before an online store (that used to get most of my business) stopped selling RPGs (and now they don't get much of my business at all). That's besides the point, though. The important thing is that my first impressions of Ultimate Campaign were pretty positive, and now that I've had time to read through the whole thing, I can give it a real review.

The four chapters of Ultimate Campaign each focus on one or more aspects of the Pathfinder roleplaying game that happen outside of the "typical" session.
  • Character Background This chapter covers all kinds of background options, including tables for randomly generating various aspects of your background. It features tables that are race-specific as well, so differing cultures and lifespans are taken into account. I particularly like the fact that they incorporate options for characters who were raised by or among races other than their own.
  • Downtime Although some of this chapter gives more information on various class-specific downtime activities (such as item crafting, finding a new animal companion, etc.), the vast majority of this chapter is about player run organizations. Want to know the mechanical benefits of running a thieves guild? or keeping a sage on retainer? or owning the tavern the group visits when they return to town to resupply? You'll find it all here.
  • Campaign Systems This "chapter" is really just a catch-all for all the subsystems of the game - alignment, companions, magic item creation, retraining, etc. It expands on all of these, and also adds some new ones, including contacts, honor, investment, reputation, and others.
  • Kingdoms and War This chapter provides the rules necessary to found, expand, and manage your own kingdom... including rules for armies clashing with one another. I don't know that any of my campaigns will ever need this level of management, but just in case... Ultimate Campaign has it covered.
Aesthetics (4 out of 5)
I like the artwork in this book slightly less than the art I've found in other Pathfinder books. However, it is still high quality. In general, this book keeps up the high production standards of Paizo, which are higher than many similar RPG titles.

Ease of Use (4 out of 5)
There are some rules in this book that you can just pick up and insert in any campaign without a second thought. However, there are a few systems that are complicated enough that you'll probably have to read them two or three times before you "get it." I'm a huge fan of the downtime systems in Chapter 2, but there are a few parts that just weren't intuitive. Several times I had one of those, "Wait, what?" moments while reading and had to go back and reread.

Price (5 out of 5)
This book has the typical price tag for a hardback Pathfinder supplement, which is slightly more expensive than I would like. However, used copies are pretty easy to find online, and the pdf deal on is pretty sweet as well. Even better, much of the information in Ultimate Campaign can be found in the Pathfinder Reference Document for free.

Value (4 out of 5)
If your players are only in it for the dungeon crawl, this book will sit on your shelf and gather dust. However, if your players are interested in making their characters fixtures of the campaign setting, this book is invaluable. Whether by weaving the setting into their character's story or by redefining the geopolitical boundaries of the setting itself, Ultimate Campaign gives a lot of options. If you prefer a straight dungeon crawl to a sprawling multifaceted campaign, you probably won't find much value here. However, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that if you were interested enough to read this far, you'll be delighted with the options in this supplement.

If you're looking for guidelines and rules for all the things that happen outside the dungeon itself, this book is an incredible buy. If you have the spare cash, pick it up. If you don't have the spare cash, start saving.

Underdark Campaign Log #9

This week, in the aftermath of a dragon attack, our heroes attempt to clear the remainder of the vampire aspirant's tower. Although they took a bit of time for healing magic, they decided that resting without knowing who (or what) else was still in the tower with them was just too dangerous.

More of Jake's artwork here.
  • Kjell, Dhampir Inquisitor (Andrew) 
  • Blue, Human Fighter (Jake) 
  • Rurik, Dwarf Barbarian (Stetson) 
  • Mercy, Half-Orc Ranger (Jammie)
A quick interrogation of the prisoner they captured when they escaped from the prison yielded surprisingly good results. He revealed how many guards he knew to be in the tower, and was subsequently locked up in his cell yet again.

As they descended the tower, our heroes battled several small groups of guards. Though victorious in each battle, they were growing weary. Some in the group were still nursing wounds from their capture in the forest, and continuing to do battle without rest was taking its toll.

By the time they made it to the basement, Blue had fallen in battle and Kjell stayed behind to guard his unconscious form. Meanwhile, Rurik and Mercy (an unlikely pair) fought on and finally defeated the remaining guards, and the last of the aspirant's apprentices.

Blue falls to a volley of arrows from the tower guards.
In the lowest level, a second prison was found, this time full of dead captives - except for a mangy and starved cat of unusual size, which Mercy released and befriended.

Where will our heroes go next week? Perhaps they will continue on toward Dagger Falls in search of more clues about the disturbing increase in slave trade? Perhaps they will explore the surrounding area in hopes that their new base of operations will be a bit safer? Maybe they'll spend time perusing the vampire aspirant's extensive notes and discover more about this vampire organization's activities. 

Friday Link Dump

Game of Thrones Pillows featuring maps of Westeros. Man, I would love to have these. I've actually never looked at a map of Westeros (except for the animated fly-by map that they feature in the opening credits). In my mind, I know that the wall is to the north, and King's Landing is probably somewhere in the middle. Beyond that, basically everything I know has no geographic context... until now? :-)

In case you somehow missed the announcement, D&D 5th Edition cover art and release schedules are now available. I love the artwork, but I'm still undecided on the text formatting... I sure hope it works out for Wizards.

Overpriced Items for Your Campaign is a short but amusing post over at Rolang's Creeping Doom. I was particularly intrigued by the left handed dragon fire diverter.

I don't expect RPG ideas from Bruno Mars, but he did post this. I have never been a fan of trying to combine random animals to make a monster, but this image just speaks to me for some reason.

Thy Realm Card/Miniature Game

I love card games, and I also love miniature wargames. What happens when you combine the two concepts? Well, Steve Klein of Winston-Salem, NC has an interesting take on the idea... what if the cards themselves serve as the miniatures?

Even if this game doesn't take off, it still features some pretty sweet artwork. I could see buying the cards just to supplement one of the Paizo face card decks.


If I Were Playing in My Own Campaign...

I don't often get to be a player, as I typically fill the role of game master. However, if I was playing in my own campaign, I'd probably be running something like this:

Telamar the Houseless
Chaotic neutral drow-blooded half-elf
Telamar has always had a knack for words, whether talking himself out of trouble, wooing a local beauty, or practicing his hypnotic battle chants. The son of a half-elf and a drow, Telamar likes to think he has all the best qualities of his three bloodlines. Luckily for him, he's charismatic enough that his arrogance doesn't make everyone hate him. Though he grew up with the Auzkovyn drow, he has since left home and is currently being recruited by the Harpers. Although he has worked for them in the past and agrees with most of their principles, he doesn't like the idea of people being able to tell him what to do, so he has been hesitant to fully pledge his loyalty.

  • At 5th Level: Fighter 1 / Bard 4 (Arcane Duelist archetype)
  • At 10th Level: Fighter 1 / Bard 4 / Spellsword 1 / Abjurant Champion 3 / Eldritch Knight 1
  • At 15th Level: Fighter 1 / Bard 4 / Spellsword 1 / Abjurant Champion 5 / Sublime Chord 2 / Eldritch Knight 2
  • At 20th Level: Fighter 1 / Bard 4 / Spellsword 1 / Abjurant Champion 5 / Sublime Chord 2 / Eldritch Knight 7
Required Feats: Combat Casting
Books Used: Complete Warrior, Complete Arcane, Complete Mage, Advanced Player's Guide, Advanced Race Guide

For the first ten levels, the character plays like a slightly more combat-capable bard. At 11th level, though, he really comes into his own, with access to a much more versatile spell list than either a bard or a wizard. Perhaps the best part of the build is that even though it incorporates four different prestige classes, it only requires one feat - and it's one that many casters choose to take anyway. That leaves nine feats (plus a handful of bonus feats) to take the character in whatever direction I want.

Sound like a munchkin build? It probably is, but while this build is arguably more versatile, I don't believe it's any more powerful than just going straight wizard or druid all the way to 20th level. And honestly, I enjoy the mental challenge of stringing together prestige classes that compliment one another to form something greater than the sum of its parts, but not necessarily broken.

Underdark Campaign Log #8

The group, as drawn by Jake. See more of his
artwork here.
Before they ventured any farther north, our heroes took a detour to visit Thistle and have Mercy take a look at the chest they buried just outside of town. Upon their arrival, they immediately went to visit Jern, but found his home empty. They inquired about his whereabouts with the local villagers, but none had seen him in over a day.

  • Kjell, Dhampir Inquisitor (Andrew) 
  • Thomus, Human Rogue (John) 
  • Blue, Human Fighter (Jake) 
  • Rurik, Dwarf Barbarian (Stetson) 
  • Mercy, Half-Orc Ranger (Jammie)
After failing to find Jern, they went on to dig up the the chest they buries weeks before. Unfortunately, when they arrived at the site, they found the chest had already been excavated. Worse, they were not alone in the woods. Four archers confronted them, ordering them to lay down their weapons and come with them to meet their master. Although none in the group wanted to give in, everyone but Rurik finally gave in. Rurik, with typical dwarven stubbornness, started advancing. 

The archers peppered him with arrows, and Rurik could feel the poison beginning to take hold. Meanwhile, Kjell tried to call off Rurik's aggression with a command spell, but as soon as he began casting, the archers pelted him with poisoned arrows as well. It didn't take long for both of them to collapse into unconsciousness. 

Everyone was manacled, hooded, and led off into the woods. Blue and Thomus were charged with dragging the still-unconscious Rurik and Kjell for the beginning of the journey, but by the time they arrived at their destination hours later, both the incapacitated party members were back on their feet.

Eventually the woodland ground turned to gravel, and the group was led into a tower. They heard servants talking as they entered, and they were forced up a spiral staircase. When they did stop, they were imprisoned one to a cell, and their hoods were removed. Finally able to see again, they realized they were sitting in a prison with none other than Jern, the man they had gone to Thistle to find.

Jern explained that he had been brought here for the same reason: Blake Marquis, the wizard in charge of this tower, was trying unsuccessfully to open the chest they had buried. Someone Blake was working for would be coming soon to collect the box's contents, and he was desperate for a way to open in before their arrival. He went on to reveal that Blake Marquis was a vampire aspirant: a human who was working for vampires in the hopes of being turned. However, Jern points out that he doesn't appear to be a very powerful mage, but his staff of power makes him quite dangerous. Jern also mentioned that he had a plan to escape, but had been biding his time...

A guard soon came to bring one of the prisoners up for questioning, and settled on Kjell, thinking a dhampir might be the easiest to coerce given the nature of their leader. Unfortunately or him, Kjell was all too willing to feed into his assumptions, and bluffed him into releasing his bonds. As soon as he was released, Kjell went to work disabling the guard and releasing everyone else. After an annoying but relatively easy combat, the guard was subdued, their weapons were recovered, and the group was ready to take on the tower's master.

They ascended a ramp that took them to the roof of the tower, where they encountered Blake Marquis, the tower's master, still trying to open the stubborn chest. A dangerous battle ensued, with the wizard levitating and raining spells down on the party. Thomus leaped up, however, and managed to grab onto the wizard, which interrupted his ability to cast spells and provided a key break for the battered party to gain the upper hand in the fight.

Meanwhile, a loud thud shook the tower. Another followed, and another, each time getting closer and closer. Not long after the wizard was finally defeated, those thuds were so  loud and so close that the tower itself shook with each one. A large black scaled claw came into view, grabbing onto the edge of the tower, and a huge draconic head raised itself into view. The dragon hoisted itself up further, revealing wounded wings that forced it to climb the side of the tower rather than just flying in.

In horror, the group froze, nobody sure exactly what to do except for Rurik, who immediately ran back down the ramp. When the dragon didn't immediately attack, Blue decided to drag the chest over to it, thinking that if he gave it what it wanted, perhaps the dragon wouldn't kill everyone. Seconds passed without anything else happening, and the group decided that Rurik probably had the best idea.

Want a gargantuan black dragon? Find one here.
The map is from this issue of Dragon Magazine.
Suddenly, the dragon lashed out, clawing Blue and Kjell... and that was it. Everyone began to retreat except for Thomus. In a last ditch effort to save his companions, he grabbed the staff from Blake's dead body, kicked the door to the roof closed, and snapped the staff in half - triggering an explosion the likes of which few have ever seen. 

Moments later, the heroes ascended the ramp to the top of the tower again. The top of the tower had been heavily damaged by the blast, but not so much that any part of it collapsed. Thomus's body was nowhere to be found. The dragon had been blasted from the tower, and fell through the trees at the base of the tower. Though they could see where it fell, it had already begun crawling off through the woods, no doubt licking its wounds.

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game (Paizo)

Review: Realm Works by Lone Wolf Development

A few weeks ago, the folks over at Lone Wolf Development gave me the opportunity to try out a review copy of Realm Works, a product that might just revolutionize the way we game masters track information in our campaigns. I spent an afternoon with the software, seeing if it would be appropriate for the campaign I started back in early March, and then took my questions to Liz Theis.

Who is Liz Theis, you might ask? And why would you be asking her questions? Well, to put it simply, she’s in charge of marketing and social media for Lone Wolf, and she’s been my contact for this review! Besides, who better to ask than the person who has probably already answered these questions approximately 76,598,697,655,768 times? :-) Full Interview Here

As if that wasn’t enough information, I then took to the forums to ask some Lone Wolf customers how they felt about the product. It was really cool to hear from some of the folks who adopted the product early on and have been using it in their campaigns for quite some time. Full Interviews Here

Between Liz’s responses, as well as the comments of the Realm Works users, I feel like I have a pretty good feel for the program even though I’ve only been using it a few weeks.

Realm Works: Interviews with Customers

My original intent was for these interviews (and the interview with Liz Theis) to inform my review. However, Liz and the users that I interviewed were so thorough in their responses, I just couldn't let them invest all that time for nothing! So instead of incorporating their responses into my text, I decided to post their responses as separate posts so you can see all of their commentary rather than just the parts I thought were most important. Before I go on, I want to send out a big "thank you" to Liz for allowing me access to Realm Works for review purposes and to both Liz and the Realm Works forum regulars for taking the time to answer all my questions!

Realm Works: Interview with Liz Theis

My original intent was for this interview (and the interviews with the Realm Works users) to inform my review. However, Liz and the users that I interviewed were so thorough in their responses, I just couldn't let them invest all that time for nothing! So instead of incorporating their responses into my text, I decided to post their responses as separate posts so you can see all of their commentary rather than just the parts I thought were most important. Before I go on, I want to send out a big "thank you" to Liz for allowing me access to Realm Works for review purposes and both Liz and the Realm Works forum regulars for taking the time to answer all my questions!

Friday Link Dump

I just ran across a link for Deep Magic, which sounds pretty amazing. I'm a big fan of the reserve feats from Complete Mage, and it irritates me sometimes that certain classes don't have specific subtypes of spells to hit the prerequisites sooner. This book is likely to change that. With the addition of this many spells, surely my bard would be able to take Fiery Burst with just second level spells.

For anyone out there not in the know, the Aurora Borealis phenomenon is great inspiration for what a major magic-related event might look like.

Paizo posted an editing position on their jobs page. I don't think I meet the "six years of editing experience" prerequisite, but I might if my experience as an English teacher would count. Hmmmmm....

This pic was titled super squirrels. I expected a Superman, but alas...

Old School Books I Still Use Often

As D&D has evolved over the years, a lot of its rule books have become obsolete unless you're running one of the older versions of the game (or an old school clone like Labyrinth Lord). Who bothers cracking open the 1st edition Monster Manual when you're running Pathfinder and you have the latest Bestiary at your disposal? I know I don't... but I can't bring myself to get rid of those old classics either, even if they are just gathering dust on a bookshelf.

There are, however, a handful of older books that I still use even though the edition they were printed for is long gone. Here are a few:

It's not a secret. I'm a big fan of drow, and there is a ton of edition-neutral information in this book that I refer back to on a semi-regular basis. Perhaps my favorite part? The drow lexicon, which includes a ton of vocabulary, given names, house names, runes, and other random stuff. I know some of this has been duplicated and expanded upon (both in Dragon Magazine issues as well as online), but the original is still a classic.

Most of this book is just random spelunking rules in my opinion, but there is a hidden gem at its core that I find indispensable: The Lands of Deepearth. A well-mapped and relatively well-detailed region of the underdark? I'll take it.

This book pushed me to create my first few memorable villains who were more than just the scariest monster I could think of throwing at my players. The advice in this book is invaluable for experienced and novice GMs alike, and it is useful no matter what edition you choose to play.

How Much Railroading is Okay?

The concept of railroading - the GM forcing the characters down the track of a mostly predefined story - is very much a maligned concept in roleplaying games. Players want the freedom to choose what their characters do next. Sure, there are those players who expect to be more or less led by the nose, but even those players seem to want the illusion of choice.

I usually run very open-ended campaigns. I have a major villain or three who lurk in the shadows for a long period of time, influencing things from behind the scenes while the characters do pretty much whatever they want until they are powerful enough for their interests and the interests of the primary villain(s) to intersect. Then, based on what the heroes have done up to that point, I figure out why and how they will come into conflict.

In tomorrow's session, I'm planning to railroad a little. Things have been pretty open ended up to this point, and I intend to keep it that way. But there is a twist in the story that needs to happen ASAP in order for it to be meaningful and relevant, and I might have to push the players more than usual in order for it to make sense.

I'm not even sure it's "true" railroading since it's only one session worth of events, and they'll be free to once again do their own thing as soon as it is resolved. But I'm wondering if my players will see it that way. With the exception of one player whose background ties into the plot twist in a major way, none of them have any clue what might be about to happen. The plan is to spring it on them, see how they react, and then talk about it later if I need to... if I discuss too much ahead of time, it will ruin the climactic encounter. If I don't railroad a little, the climactic encounter might never happen. I'll be pondering this between now and this week's session, and I might not make the final call until we actually sit down at the table together. But until then, let me know what you think...

Is railroading ever okay? If so, how much?

Arcane Factories Season One

Although I'm not sure why they're calling it season one (which makes me think of a television series rather than a line of miniatures), these miniatures look downright amazing. They'll be produced at 30mm scale, which is slightly larger than the 28mm miniatures I usually use, but not so much that they'll look weird on the tabletop. The 2mm difference is noticeable when you're comparing models side by side, but if you're at a distance or the table is crowded with lots of miniatures, they don't stand out that much.

Underdark Campaign Log #7

For the first time in the campaign, our adventurers had their sights set on a destination more than a day's walk away from Shadowdale... Dagger Falls. After some deliberation over which path to travel, they set out on the path straight through Cormanthor and the Dagger Hills... a direct but more dangerous course to their destination than the more well-traveled roads.

  • Kjell, Dhampir Inquisitor (Andrew) 
  • Thomus, Human Rogue (John) 
  • Blue, Human Fighter (Jake) 
  • Rurik, Dwarf Barbarian (Stetson) 
  • Mercy, Half-Orc Ranger (Jammie)
The first morning on the road, the group passed a number of poverty stricken travelers, most on their way from some secluded farm or another to Shadowdale to sell their paltry wares. Before lunch, though, they came upon a more interesting caravan: mercenaries from an Uthgardt barbarian tribe with a half-drow merchant, leading two wagons loaded with goods. Having just fought drow in the tunnels below the Twisted Tower, the group was especially cautious. The half-drow introduced himself as Kelaghar, and greeted the group as, "My friends!" GM's Note: Actually, now that I think about it, I might not have mentioned his name at all! Even more suspicious at this point, the adventurers turned down nearly all his offers to purchase his wares, including the magic items that lit up with a soft glow as he described them, although Kjell did purchase a masterwork heavy repeating crossbow. Before he left, Kelaghar asked if anyone knew if Elminster was in Shadowdale when they left, and nobody knew. He made a comment about how that idiot Tauster had better be 

Later in the day, the adventurers noticed the smoke from campfires rising above the treeline not too far away. Thomus and Mercy, who scouted ahead on the path, were attacked by orcs rushing out of the trees to the east of their path. Although they were able to slay multiple orcs each round, more just kept flooding out of the trees, and finally their ogre leader charged into battle. By the time the sounds of battle died, fifteen orcs and an ogre had fallen in battle, while one orc escaped. The adventurers had suffered multiple injuries but no casualties, and were ready to set up camp for the night.

Conveniently, the orcs had already set up camp for them, and although their orc equipment was dirty and grimy, the tents had already been set up and the campfires already started. A quick survey of the area revealed no more orcs, but one character noticed large three-toed footprints, and identified them as those of a troll. Rurik and Mercy came to an "understanding" that they would be sleeping on opposite sides of camp, and Mercy threw dirt on the fires to avoid drawing unwanted attention. Watch groups were set for two shifts, and the adventurers settled in for what they hoped would be an uneventful night.

During the first watch, Mercy and Blue heard something large moving out in the forest. It seemed to be circling the camp, drawing nearer and nearer. They awoke the rest of the group and quickly decided whether they should go out in the woods to confront it or lure it into the camp. When the decision was made, Blue screamed and taunted the beast, which had the intended effect: it charged into the group. The adventurers quickly surrounded the troll, and hacked it to bits, while Kjell jumped in with an acid spell to keep it from regenerating and ruining their rest a second time.

And finally, they were able to rest.

Friday Link Dump

On Fridays, I'm going to just start posting links to a handful of cool things I spotted online this week.

  • Corfe Castle, a place I think it would be sweet to visit. There's nothing like a real castle to inspire a Dungeons & Dragons player, right?
  • Walking Dead RPG... yeah, you should definitely take the time to check this out.
  • An Underdark themed post over at World Building Blog... plenty of inspiration for my underdark campaign
  • En World showed off the cover art for the Advanced Class Guide, which is scheduled for release in August.
  • And this... because this dog is just downright amazing. I've never seen more dangerous fetching in my life!

Used Book Stores - RPG Treasure Troves

I'm not a big fan of paying full price for stuff if I don't have to... and I know I'm not the only one. Unfortunately, roleplaying games are such a niche hobby that it is difficult to find them in just any old yard sale or Goodwill book section. Used book stores, while still not a sure bet for finding RPGs, are much more likely to be gold mines if you're looking for a sweet deal. Sure, you can find Dragonlance novels in just about any used book store, but here are a few used book stores in my area that sell actual RPG rulebooks.

North State Books in Lincolnton, NC
Remember me telling you about the time I "sold" my D&D books and bought Rifts books to take their place? Well years later, before eBay was a thing, I was able to purchase a copy of every 1st edition D&D book I ever owned (except for Fiend Folio) at this place. The last time I went in, they didn't have any game books in stock, but they did have a bunch of the old Endless Quest books.

Downtown Books and News in Asheville, NC
This place is awesome. They have lots of roleplaying games... especially D&D 4E. I did snag a copy of Green Ronin's Modern Magic the last time I was there, though. It also helps that they're right across the street from one of the most amazing Indian restaurants I've ever been to.

The Last Word in Charlotte, NC
I was supposed to take my wife here on our first date, but we talked so long in the restaurant that The Last Word closed before we got there. When I went the next time (on Valentines Day, if I remember correctly), I picked up a copy of the first edition Manual of the Planes. Yeah, we are huge nerds.

Leadership Feats (Pathfinder/3.5)

Why the Birthright logo on this post? Easy...
because in what other campaign setting is
every hero a leader?
I probably like the Leadership feat a little too much... so much that I don't think I'd ever play a 3.5 character without it. Alongside a decent charisma bonus, the cohort that comes along with Leadership is exponentially more powerful than the static (and often situational) bonuses provided by other feats. And that's before you count the actual followers...

You probably already knew that, though, and the Leadership feat clearly doesn't need a push in power level to be a great choice for almost any character. But for anyone out there who loves the Leadership feat and wants some new options, this post is for you.

Elite Followers
You keep a smaller retinue of elite followers.
Prerequisite: Leadership
Benefit: You have a pool of levels to distribute among your followers rather than a set number of followers at each level. You may distribute the levels in any manner, but no single follower can exceed the maximum follower level. You use the following table for followers rather than the standard Leadership table.

Leadership Score
Cohort Level
Level Pool
Max Follower Level

Improved Leadership
You are an exceptionally effective leader.
Prerequisite: Leadership
Benefit: Your base leadership score increases by two.
Normal: The base leadership score is based on character level and charisma bonus.
Special: This feat may be taken multiple times. Its effects stack.

Intellectual Leader
Your followers are attracted to your intellect.
Prerequisite: Int 13, Leadership
Benefit: Use your intelligence modifier instead of your charisma modifier to determine your base leadership score.
Normal: The base leadership score is always based on character level and charisma bonus.

Wise Leader
Your followers are attracted to your reputation as a wise leader.
Prerequisite: Wis 13, Leadership
Benefit: Use your wisdom modifier instead of your charisma modifier to determine your base leadership score.
Normal: The base leadership score is always based on character level and charisma bonus.

Edit: The original wording, "Your base leadership score is now character level plus intelligence bonus," was poorly worded and didn't make it clear enough that the bonus was being replaced by that of a different stat. 
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