Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Fantasy Fonts for Your RPG Campaign

Written by Justin Mason

So you want to give your player a copy of the ancient scroll his or her character is currently reading? Perhaps you want to dress up a character-history document for your game master? Here we have a collection of 33 free fantasy True-Type Fonts (TTF) that can be used for your personal role playing game sessions and campaigns. Stylized handouts and documentation can make a great impact on both players and game masters alike.

Please check out the Fonts Page in the Mythic Design website free resources:

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Fighter’s Ally (Magic Weapon Template)

Written by Justin Mason

The idea with this magic item template, is to enable the creation of a magical weapon that helps to balance the “higher-level gap” between combat related characters and spell-casting characters.

Traditionally, the solution to this problem is usually to just provide more powerful magical items to the player characters, but this can be quickly unbalancing as items are easily transferred from character-to-character.

The fighter’s ally template can be applied to virtually any weapon, and the magical power of said weapon is then entirely dependant on how much the wielder is willing to invest into it over time.

Skill-based Enchantment Bonus:

A fighter’s ally weapon gains +1 per (existing bonus) in skill points dedicated to its use.

This would result in requiring a total of 1 skill points for +1, 3 skill points for +2, 6 skill points for +3, 10 skill points for +4, 15 skill points for +5, 21 skill points for +6, 28 skill points for +7, etc.).

These skill ranks are considered class, and of course are limited to the character’s current max skill ranks. A maximum enchantment bonus can be applied to a templated weapon.

Weapon-specific Feats:

In place of taking a traditional feat, the character may instead take one of the following weapon-specific feats. These feats only effect the use of the templated weapon, and a templated weapon may or may not have all of the available feats listed below.

Focused Strike: Character learns how to more accurately strike with this weapon. +1 to critical range/weapon-specific feat taken. This weapon-specific feat may be stacked up to a maximum critical adjustment of +5.

Moral Attunement: Weapon becomes more attuned with the character. +1 against targets of opposing alignments. This weapon-specific feat may be stacked up to a maximum bonus of up to +5.

Elemental Fury: Weapon is granted +1d4 (elemental) burst upon successful critical hit. This can include: fire, cold, electricity, acid, and sonic. This feat may be stacked, and can be applied for multiple different types of elements. (i.e. a weapon could have a burst of 1d4 fire, 2d4 cold, and 1d4 electricity). Of course, depending on the game master’s desired results, this could be limited to fewer, or even just one element.

Guiding Force: Upon missing a strike, the character may opt to immediately re-roll the attack. Critical hits may not result from this re-rolled attack. A character may only use this weapon-specific feat once per round.

Premeditated Kill: Character must select one “favored enemy”, and for each instance of this weapon-specific feat taken, he or she will gain +2 to hit and to damage towards that favored enemy when using the weapon. This weapons-specific feat may be stacked up to a maximum bonus of +10 to specified enemy.

Of course, custom combinations and new weapon-specific feat ideas could be endless, and each weapon could be honed towards it’s specific type of combat.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bonus Token Player Reward System (Alternate Rules)

Written by Justin Mason

There are many different ways that game masters have found to reward their players, particularly those who contribute much to a campaign or game session. This could be as simple as a bonus experience reward, or a more complex reward (such as working in some special event into the character's role).

The real question is, how to come up with a system that not only rewards your positive, progressive players, but to also motivates those players who are less than forthcoming.

After all, in many cases, this may be one of the few times everyone is available for a friendly get-together. And, it's very easy to become distracted from the game by catching up with day-to-day life, letting loose some pent up aggression, and sharing the latest jokes from the workplace.

The Bonus Token System is one solution I've come up with and have myself used with quite a bit of success.

Player's earn tokens for things such as attendance, magnificent role-playing, completing of major plot benchmarks, etc. I suggest rewarding 1 token for attendance to be sure everyone at least gets to participate, but not to exceed awarding three to four per player during each game session. Tokens should be rare and valuable commodities.

There doesn't have to be a physical token awarded to the player, though I find handing something tangible over has a very dramatic effect. I use Campaign Coins as a prop to represent the Bonus Tokens I award my players.

These tokens can then be used at the end of the game session to "purchase" bonuses and special features, and upgrades for the character. These should be fairly moderate adjustments, and never anything that would be a "game changer." Though, more powerful benefits could be offered as long as the corresponding token cost is relative to the advantage the character would be obtaining.

For example, below is the basic Bonus Token chart my players utilize for my OGL 3.5 campaigns:

+1 Misc Skill Point = 1 Token
(250 * Level) GP [Max 10,000] = 1 Token
1 Random Minor Magic Item (from DMG) = 3 Tokens
1 Re-Roll Attempt (In-Game Only) = 3 Tokens
(500 * Level) experience [Max 5,000] = 5 Tokens
+1 Ability Point = 10 Tokens
+1 Bonus Feat = 10 Tokens
1 Random Medium Magic Item (from DMG) = 15 Tokens

It can also be fun to find unique and interesting ways to work these rewards into the game session "in-character" to explain how and where they came from. They could even be used as small plot hooks or storyline hints as well.

However you utilize the Bonus Token system, it's a sure-fire way to keep your players on guard, and help keep the focus on role playing.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Platform-Neutral Products. Worth the investment?

Written by Justin Mason

So what's more important, the fluff or the crunch? We all have our own favorite role playing game systems, or own set of house rules and special mechanics. A lot of the time this can limit how useful certain materials are... especially if they are written for an unfamiliar game system.

I'm curious to know what other game masters think about platform-neutral products (or in other words, products that don't provide any sort of mechanical reference, but rather just detailed information about a setting, monsters, items, plot hooks, etc.).

I think it's a good concept. But I'm not sure I would choose to buy a product that was a description of a particular setting or series of events over a product that also provides the relevant mechanics for my particular game system.

I can read a good novel or short story, watch a movie, or even read material intended for another game-system and get that same imagintive seed for some really fantastic ideas to use in my game sessions.

What if platform-specific rules related to this crunch-less material were to be made readily available on the product manufacturers website? What if other role-players who also use this material were the source for those rules?

I'm just pondering the possibilities, and I am not 100% sure I see the benefits of RPG products produced for no particular game system. If I’m going to buy a product just to boost my imagination, what game system it’s geared towards doesn’t really make a difference to me. What are you thoughts?

Enchanter's Goo (Magic Item)

Written by Justin Mason

Enchanter's Goo

A glowing green slime-like substance, very highly reactive to magical items and artifacts. Its recipe is a guarded secret of powerful enchanters, but one fact that is known is that the ingredients for the foul smelling brew are found across many different planes.

Enchanters Goo is used to merge two magic items into a single object. The process is dangerous and painstaking, but often well worth the risk.

Items combined with Enchanter's Goo must be of the same type. For instance, a bladed weapon can only be merged with another bladed weapon, a wand, only with another wand, and full plate armor only with another suit of full plate armor, etc.

There must be 1-gallon of Enchanter's Good per 1-pound of the combined weight of both items being submerged within the goo, and both items must be in some way enchanted. If there is too little goo, both items will be completely dissolved and destroyed.

Items placed in the goo must remain undisturbed for 3 full days (72-hours), if they are removed from the goo before that time, all magical abilities of both the items are completely nullified.

If use is attempted by the untrained hand, then there is only a 50% chance of success. For each trained rank in Use Magic Device, +2% may be added to the success rate up to 90%. If the attempt fails then both items are dissolved and completely destroyed.

Results of successfully merged magic items:

• A random check will determine what physical form the merged item will take (or if desired the game master can be creative and come up with a combination of both the original items)

• Charged effects transfer as the same number of said charge effects

• Bonus Enchantments to the same statistic do not stack, instead the highest of the magic bonuses remains (this is applied to ability scores, armor class, saving throws, or any other such statistic). Bonuses to different statistics carry across.

• Recharging abilities carry across, if more than one like recharging abilities are merged, then both remain effective, though bound by their original limitations.

• Other effects, such as item sentience, alignment, curses, conflicting effects, etc. are merged, or changed solely at the discretion of the game master, but should be resolved at the time of item merging.

The known market price for enchanter's goo is about 250 GP per 1-Gallon. Finding enough goo to merge larger items (such as suits of armor) should be a challenge as very few enchanters would have so much of the substance readily available.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Fool's Quest (Encounter/Plot Hook)

Written by Justin Mason

This encounter takes place on a cold mountain pass beneath a cloudless sunny sky. The characters come across the scene of a young man, unconscious and laid face first upon the ground. Above him lumbers a tall humanoid creature of solid stone (large Stone Golem). If the characters approach within 30-feet of the golem or the unconscious man, it will immediately attack the them. If the character fire missile weapons or ranged spells at the golem or the man, the golem will charge at them and initiate an attack.

The unconscious man is actually a young wizard’s apprentice (3rd Level Human Wizard), sent from a distant land to obtain a rare spell component: the scale of a blue dragon. The golem was sent by the apprentice’s master to aid him in this quest. Unfortunately, the apprentice caught a fever and is delirious. He commanded the golem to guard him from “everything” before he passed out from his illness.

Remove Disease or any Cure spell will remove the fever and its effects from the apprentice.

If the characters want to save the apprentice, then they will either have to kill the golem or find a method of tricking it away from the young man’s body. Once awake, if the golem hasn’t been killed, the apprentice will immediately call it off.

The apprentice has yet to complete his quest, though he has tracked a blue dragon to this mountain range. He will ask the character’s to aid him in this task. If they agree, and are successful, the apprentice’s Master will reward the characters with a minor magical item each.

The dragon’s lair is less than a mile away, and they will arrive just in time to see the blue dragon flying away from a large open cavern in the mountain side. The apprentice will assume this means he and the characters can simply walk in, take a few scales and leave, the mother dragon actually leaves behind three Blue Dragon Wrymlings who will defend the cave bitterly.

There are, however loose scales upon the floor that can be gathered up in 3 rounds. There is also a small treasure worth at least 5,000 gp hidden in the layer. If the characters slay the wyrmlings or steal the treasure, the mother dragon (an Adult Blue Dragon) will attempt to track them down (with a 25% Chance of locating the characters) to avenge what was taken from her. However, if the characters simply battle the wyrmlings long enough to recover the scales, and leave her young alive and her treasure untouched, the mother dragon will not pursue them.

Curse of the Ring and the Sword (Encounter/Plot Hook)

Written by Justin Mason

This encounter can take place in pretty much any dungeon, though it will make more sense if related to a person of great arcane power. Somewhere in the dungeon, there is a 5-foot by 5-foot simple chute-trap. The chute itself is angled at 45-degrees and is coated with a thick, wet, slippery substance (natural algae and moss grown from years of water drainage). This substance makes it very hard to climb back out of the chute unassisted (Climb DC 22).

At the bottom of the sixty-foot chute, the characters will tumble into a 20-foot by 20-foot room filled with three feet of stagnant water. There are no doors or exits from this room other than the chute opening upon the center of the ceiling. Near the northern wall of this room is a 4-foot-tall stone pillar, and atop of it is a clear glass bottle. Inside of the bottle is a very valuable looking ring, however the opening of the bottle is too small to remove the treasure from within (the bottle must be broken).

Description of the Ring:
This ring is fashioned from polished gold. The wide band has been ornately carved with an intricate stylized flames design, offset by a row of tiny garnets. The face of the ring is adorned with an perfectly spherical ruby that faintly glows within with a rolling fiery luminescence.

The container can be easily shattered, however this will activate a magical repulse effect that causing the ring to remain one-foot away from anyone trying to grab it. The characters should eventually be able to “capture” the ring with ingenuity, such as by cornering it or having more than one character attempt to obtain it. However, this repulse effect remains on the ring until it is worn by someone (a challenging feat considering the nature of this effect).

If the characters try to place the ring into a pouch or sack, they will find that the repulsing push of the ring will simply force the ring out of the container. If secured, the ring will leap from the container whenever it is opened. Only wearing the ring will nullify the repulsing effect.

Assuming one of the characters wears the ring, they will be surprised when a grim-covered longsword rises from the water, darts with blinding speed towards the wearer, and lands perfectly in the palm of their hand, as if ready to be used. When the longsword is grasped by the ring-wearer, it will burst into magical flames (+3 magical flaming longsword). If the sword is thrown down (or knocked from the wearer’s hand), it will land upon the ground (or in the water) and distinguish the flame -- however in the next turn it will quickly levitate back into the wearer’s hand and burst back into flames. This is a very useful effect, since the character cannot be disarmed.

The attraction and activation of the sword cannot be disabled or turned off. Which may lead to some interesting situations requiring creative solutions such as when the character needs to sleep. Though the wearer is immune to the flames, bedding and surrounding furniture is not.

The ring is an artifacts of sort, and as such cannot be identified. If the characters do not put the ring on in this room, the sword will still magically seek out the wearer when if it is eventually worn. The sword will levitate/fly to the ring dodging all obstacles no matter the distance (flying at a speed of 1000-feet per minute [Roughly 12-miles per hour]).

The Curse of Fire:

Initially, this will be the only obvious effect of the ring, and is intended to entice one of the characters to use it. However after one week of use, the character (and those around him) are inexplicitly attacked by 1d4 Small Fire Elementals. The next day, they will be attacked by 1d4 Medium Fire Elementals. The third day will result an attack by 1d4 Large Fire Elementals, and the fourth day with an attack by 1d4 Huge Fire Elementals. On the fifth day it is 1d4 Greater Fire Elementals, and on the sixth day 1d4 Elder Fire Elementals. The attacks will continue on a daily basis after this with 1d4 Elder Fire Elements each day with the attacking Elementals becoming more powerful than those from the day before by 3 Hit Dice.

These elementals are summoned by the ring at a random time throughout the day, and the summoned elementals are magically driven by the ring to attack its wearer any anyone assisting him. Regardless of the character’s level, this should eventually become a challenge as the toughness of the ensuing elementals becomes greater and greater with each encounter.

Eventually the characters will likely figure out the attacks are being caused by the ring, and stop using it, but it is the trap designer’s intent for them to eventually be killed for “stealing” from the dungeon.

Note: Once the ring has been attuned to a character, it “knows” who the character’s allies are, and the curse effects of the item cannot be negated by passing the ring around to other party members. Likewise, if the ring is passed on to an unsuspecting NPC, the effects are reset. The ring always remembers who its past owners were, and the curse will continue for that wearer accordingly.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dice Stories Contest

Yeah, we’re running two contests at once? Big deal! Want to fight about it?

In addition to our July-long “Follow Our Blog & Win” contest where we are giving away a great Sovereign Stone set, we’re also running this “Dice Stories” contest until the end of next week (Firday, July 17, 2009) where you can win a complete matching 10-piece set of gaming dice and a dice pouch.

Unknown Image Author

How do I do that?” you might be asking yourself. Well, we all likely have at least one crazy story about how we lost one or more of our dice. For instance, I once swallowed a d20 while chugging down a 20-ounce coke (don’t ask how - but I did learn that dice don’t float).

We want to hear the crazy stories of how you managed to loose your favorite dice, or break up your favorite dice set. At the end of the contest we’ll pick out the most interesting of the stories and that person will win a free set of dice.

Pretty easy, huh? So what are you waiting for? Post a comment with your story to this blog entry to be entered. Contest open to anyone anywhere as long as we can find a way to ship dice to you through the mail.

Charge of the Avatar (Encounter/Plot Hook)

Written by Justin Mason

Late one summer evening, after the characters have set-up a light camp in the forest and a preparing for bed, they suddenly find themselves caught in one of the most massive and violent storms they have ever witnessed. The weather is fierce and arrives with unnatural speed with torrent winds blowing in nearly every direction. Seeking shelter, the characters stumble upon a circle of standing stones.

Suddenly lightning strikes the stones and the scent of electricity and ozone fills the air. The characters will have to make a Reflex Save (DC 20) be knocked to the ground and blinded 1d4 rounds. When their vision recovers, they see before them a tall, dark-skinned man carrying a glowing spear and wearing an antlered helmet. The man’s eyes are fierce and vivid blue, and he is surrounded by a pack of massive dire wolves.

The man is actually the Avatar of a good-aligned god (25th level Outsider/Druid), who has been sent to seek out the adventurers to aid in ridding this forest of an evil cult of demon worshippers. However, as is often the case when it comes to deities, requests often come in the form of commands. The Avatar will shout the characters in a booming, echoing and baritone voice, “Come with me, and rid this forest of its filth!

Any good-aligned character will have to make a Will Save (DC 25) or be overcome with the sense of duty, and accept the charge from the Avatar. In an instant, all who failed the saving throw will follow the man and his pack of wolves as they run off deeper into the forest. Anyone affected by the command will be able to run at twice their normal speed, and easily keep up with the man, those unaffected however can only run at normal speeds. Though, it won’t be hard to track any of their comrades who run off with the Avatar: they can easily follow the distant barks and growls of the leading pack of wolves.

Those effected by the command will retain their thoughts and free will, but be filled with purpose that compells them to do as the Avatar askes. Afterwards everything will be remembered by the characters, but seem dreamlike and unreal.

After a few minutes of dashing through the thick forest, the characters and the wolves (8 Dire Wolves), converge on what is apparently a ritual being performed by a large group of black-robed humans. Each of them wears an amulet depicting the sigil of a well-known evilly-aligned god or goddess.

At this point the Avatar will have mysteriously disappeared, but the charge effect stays in place until the entire cult has been slain. The cult is caught by surprise and flat-footed as the characters and the wolves charge in without fear or hesitation to kill them.
When the last of the cult has been felled, the wolves too seem to vanish into thin air as does the storm, and the forest will be quiet and still.

Note: The evil cult should consist of about 3x as many members as there are player-characters, and should be of equal or slightly higher level.

Each of the characters who participated in the combat with the cult (whether or not effected by the Avatar's charge) will eventually notice the mark of the good-aligned god has been scarred into their right arm.

This is a divinely magical mark, and as such, any followers (particularly high level priests or druids) who follow the god will pay the utmost homage and respect to the characters; even going out of their way to assist them whenever possible. They may even be asked to do additional favors for the god by these same followers.

If the mark is divined/identified in any way, the caster will be given a short, concise vision of the events that happened this night. The mark also provides a divine courage bonus of +5 to attack and damage anytime the characters are in combat with a follower of the same evil-aligned god that the cult worshiped.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ring of the Master Elementalist (Artifact)

Written by Justin Mason

Ring of the Master Elementalist

This intricate ring consists of two interlocking parts. An outer ring of solid platinum, and an inner ring of solid gold. The outer ring, though snugly fit inside upward beveled edges of its golden counterpart, turns on the axis of the larger inner ring. The outer ring, elegantly carved with intricate scroll work and arcane runes, also has a perfectly round hole cut into it. As the outer ring is turned, this hole reveals beneath one of four rectangle sections of inlaid pearl, inlaid amber, inlaid ruby, and inlaid blue sapphire that have each been flawlessly set into the inner ring beneath the platinum outer ring. (More simply put, the inner ring is turned to reveal one of four gemstone beneath it).

The Artifact Effects

When the ring is turned to one of these gemstones, and left for thirty seconds, the gem will briefly flash, indicating it has been attuned to the corresponding element.

(Pearl = Air, Amber = Earth, Ruby = Fire, Blue Sapphire = Water)

Once the ring has been attuned to a different element, it may not be re-attuned for 1 week. If a ring is not re-attuned after one week, it will no longer function until re-attuned. One full cycle turn will re-attune it to the same element.

Elementals of the plane to which the ring is attuned can’t attack the wearer, or even approach within 5 feet of him. If the wearer desires, he may forego this protection and instead attempt to charm the elemental (as charm monster, Will DC 20 negates). If the charm attempt fails, however, absolute protection is lost and no further attempt at charming can be made.

Creatures from the plane to which the ring is currently attuned who attack the wearer take a -3 penalty on their attack rolls. The ring wearer makes applicable saving throws from the extraplanar creature’s attacks with a +6 resistance bonus. He gains a +12 morale bonus on all attack rolls against such creatures. Any weapon he uses bypasses the damage reduction of such creatures, regardless of any qualities the weapon may or may not have.

The wearer of the ring is able to converse with creatures from the plane to which his ring is attuned. These creatures recognize that he wears the ring. They show a healthy respect for the wearer if alignments are similar. If alignments are opposed, creatures fear the wearer if he is strong. If he is weak, they hate and desire to slay him.

Abilities of Ring When Attuned to Air (Inlaid Pearl Section)
Abilities of Ring When Attuned to Earth (Inlaid Amber Section)
Abilities of Ring When Attuned to Fire (Inlaid Ruby Section)
Abilities of Ring When Attuned to Water (Inlaid Blue Sapphire Section)
The possessor of this ring also takes a saving throw penalty as follows:
  • Attuned to Air: -10 against earth-based effects
  • Attuned to Earth: -10 against air (or electricity-based) effects
  • Attuned to Fire: -10 against water (or cold-based) effects
  • Attuned to Water: -10 against fire-based effects
Introduction of Artifact

This artifact is very a very powerful item, and as such should be introduced to a campaign with caution. Rather than just running across in a random treasure horde, or even as the loot off of some powerful advisory slain in combat, I recommend it be actually loaned to the characters with a specific goal in mind. Perhaps in seeking another item of power, a Master Elementalist (an ally) has loaned the ring to the party to aid them in successfully completing a dangerous elemental-based dungeon or a quest across the elemental planes.

Golden Oldie Surprise (Encounter/Plot Hook)

Written by Justin Mason

While traversing across a high mountain plateau, the characters come across the remnants of what appears to have been a very violent battle. There are several dead bodies of armored humans strewn about. These dead bodies wear full plate armor emblazoned with the sigil of a known warlord or evil overseer of the region. There are also the remains of several wagons, shattered and dashed to splintered pieces. The bodies have nothing of real value upon them other than non-magical full plate armor and a normal longswords (perhaps a few hundred copper pieces among them all).

While the party is searching over the area, they will come across the body of a severely injured elderly human man dressed in tattered rags.

Though badly hurt, he is conscious. The man will tell the characters that he woke up here with his injuries and has no recollection of how or why he is here. He will beg them to help him return to his home in the village, where his children can tend to his wounds. He will also insist that the bodies of the soldiers be given proper burial rights, even if they may be the cause of his current predicament, stating, "It's the right thing to do."

In reality, the man is a wounded (1/4 hp) Old Gold Dragon. He was injured and exhausted during the battle, and fell into unconsciousness not long after assuming his human form. He was surprised to awaken to find people stumbling across the wrecked remnants of the dark soldiers attempt to capture him for their master.

His wounds are not so severe that he actually requires the assistance of the adventurers, but he has decided to perform this test of character upon them to determine whether or not he should kill them as well.

The dragon has taken up residence with the humans of a small village a short distance to the south (located at the base of the mountain). He has taken a particular liking to one of the village’s women who was widowed by one of the many past raids on the village. The dragon has taken the woman as his wife and adopted her children as his own.

All of the villagers know his true form, but keep his identity a closely guarded secret, and in return the dragon protects their village from raiding bandits, warlords and other such dangers.

If the characters escort the old man back to his village, nothing will seem out of the ordinary as several of the villagers will openly greet him by name. Once returned to his home he will invite the characters in for dinner, where he will eventually reveal his true form to them. For their kindness, he will also reward each of the characters with a (random) magical item from his horde, which he keeps in a cavern beneath his home.

Note: This encounter opens the opportunity to introduce additional storyline elements. Perhaps the dragon was testing the characters to determine if they were worthy being given a task of some sort. Maybe some artifact the dragon is in need of, but doesn’t feel safe obtaining himself while leaving his village and family unprotected.

However, if the characters refuse to escort, or otherwise purposefully endanger the old man, the dragon will immediately assume his natural form on the mountain plateau, and attack the characters. If they surrender or refuse to fight a gold dragon, he will allow them to live, but will have no further interaction with them, flying away to the north. If the characters make any attempt at this point to follow him, and are detected, then he will again engage in combat, this time to the death.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Wishing Tree (Encounter/Plot Hook)

Written by Justin Mason

During their adventures, the characters, though means of an ancient tome, uncover a very interesting story about an unique ancient tree that has the ability to grant wishes to those who partake of its fruit. There is a map in the book, pointing to the location of this “wishing tree” as being located in small inlet of foliage high in the peaks of a nearby mountain range. This can be particularly stimulating if the characters have been searching for something without much luck -- simply being able to wish for it would be a fantastic advantage. Not to mention, any thieves in the party should already be drooling that the mouth at the prospect.

The book explains that hundreds of years ago, a council of powerful wizards surrounded this inlet where the tree is located with tall stone fortifications and cast a powerful illusion spell to keep its whereabouts hidden from those who would abuse its power. However, the book also provides instructions for seeing through this powerful illusion: a word of power that will enable the speaker to immediately disbelieve the illusion.

The journey up the mountain shouldn’t be overly difficult, but it shouldn’t be a breeze either. The characters can earn their passage with a few well placed random mountain encounters.

Once they have reached the indicated location on the map, the characters see no signs of an inlet, fortifications, or a tree. Instead they view only more huge boulders and craggy cliff facings. However, if the power word is spoken, then to whomever spoke it, one of the cliff facings will seem to melt away and reveal the small inlet, flush with life, with a single massive tree behind a perfectly circular white stone wall.

There are no apparent entrances beyond the wall. The wall is 40-feet high, and can be climbed with a successful climb check for each 10-feet of the wall (Climb DC 12).

The single tree contained within the walls stands about fifty-feet high and is surrounded by a lush and overgrown garden. The tree boasts about three dozen large round, bright blue pieces of fruit, each about 10-inches in diameter. The fruit can easily be knocked down from the tree with a single hit from any ranged implement (AC 15).

When eaten, the fruit will bestow one “wish” upon that individual, and anything they wish for will appear before them. However, rather than manifesting something from thin air, this effect actually teleports the item from anywhere within a 100-mile radius.

If the item wished for cannot be found in 100-miles, then the effect will teleport the next most similar thing within that range to the character’s location (Game Masters discretion). This effect does not try to twist or warp the wish, and it will honestly attempt to fulfill the character’s desire to the extent of its ability.

However, it shouldn’t be immediately apparent that the effect is simply teleporting items from other locations. The idea here being that, with nearly forty pieces of fruit available to them, after a few trial runs the characters will likely succumb to greed and wish for larger, more powerful items and artifacts. These more powerful or valuable items may be the property of a high-level wizard, or perhaps treasure from the horde of a powerful dragon, etc.

The unexplained disappearance of these items or creatures may not go unnoticed (and can easily be tracked via Scrying or a Locate Item, Locate Creature, or similar spell or spell-like ability). The manifestation of one of the wishes could soon be followed by the appearance of a very angry, vengeful adversary who has come to reclaim their property and punish the thieves who stole it.

Additional Notes: Living creatures, people, items, artifacts, or anything else that can fit into a 25-foot sphere can be teleported by this wish effect. If the tree is intentionally harmed in any way (more than 10 points of damage in a single attack, or more than an accumulated 120 points of damage) it will teleport the character attacking it to the brim of it’s reach: 100-miles in a random direction.

Limiting Abuse of the Wish Effect: It takes the tree 10 years to generate a single new piece of fruit, and if a piece of fruit is planted elsewhere, (10% chance of successful planting) it takes 1,000 years for the resulting sapling to grow full size and begin to produce its own fruit. Since the Wishing Tree is a magical creature, it is not effected by spells or spell-like abilities that affect other plants.

Wishing Tree - Magical Creature (HD: 100d8+10 / 720hp)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

When Opportunity Calls (Encounter/Plot Hook)

Written by Justin Mason

In a small rural village a rather brazen thief has been “cursed” with a reverse “Tongues” spell, and the effect bound with “Permanency.” The spells were cast upon her by a powerful wizard who was annoyed with her for stealing some of his more valuable spell components. Instead of killing the thief when he caught her, he instead amused himself by casting the curse upon her and releasing her back into her home town where she would walk the streets babbling indecipherably.

Unfortunately, these simple villagers soon decided that she must have been touched by the gods and mistook her condition as an omen of good fortune. From that moment forward, she has been able to get away with pretty much anything that she wants. She is provided with free room and board, many of the villagers bring her trinkets and offerings, and if she gets caught stealing, the villagers simply take back what was stolen and say nothing more about the situation.

After months of this effortless free-reign, the thief has grown haphazard and sloppy with her skills. When she attempts to steal from the characters, she only has a 10% chance of success. If she fails, then the characters will notice. However, if the characters do anything to retaliate, the villagers angrily converge on them and attempt to drive them out of town.

If the effects of the spells are removed, the thief will continue to intentionally “babble,” though with a little persuasion, she can be made to admit to the villagers that she has been released from the effects of the spell. If this happens, the superstitious villagers will still be angered, believing that the characters have interfered with the work of the gods, and that good fortune no longer smiles upon them. The villagers will then drive both the characters and the thief out of town. In this instance, the thief will likely try to attack the characters for interfering with "her business."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I’m Awake!! - Power Eats for Late-Night Games

Written by Justin Mason

Here are a few quick and easy energy snack ideas to help prevent your campaign from becoming monotonous in the late night hours. Keep everyone wired awake and alert for when the helpless maiden your just saved turns out to be a disguised 20th-level evil sorceress with a grudge against adventurers.

(Just a heads-up folks: In case you didn't already know, I'm not a dietitian. I'm a gamer. In fact, I'm sure any dietitian would blow a gasket at these recommended snacks -- and likely give you a stern warning about consuming WAY too much caffeine, strange chemicals, and possible heart-attacks. Yet, I say, to quote Conan the Barbarian, "To Hell with them! Crom will laugh at them and cast them out of Valhalla.”)

Now, on to the eye-popping, dice-fidgeting goodies --

Gamer Grub Snacks
Keep the smudges off your character sheet, and your dice grease-free with these awesome individually packed tasty gamer snacks. Probably the most substantial of tonight's recommended snacks, Gamer Grub comes in four great flavors: Pizza, PB&J Wasabi, and Chocolate. Just tear open the packet, and pour directly into your pie hole. Not to mention, they're chocked full of vitamins and neurotransmitters that are sure to keep your focused on your role no matter how late your adventures last. Each pack contains: 12g of sword-swinging protein, 640 dragon-killing calories, and 404mg of a proprietary cognitive blend consisting of choline and L-glutamic acid. Just mix with your favorite caffeinated beverage or snack and you won't even remember why you needed sleep.

Buzz Bites Chocolate Chews
Now this is what I'm talking about! It's like your own personal bag-of-holding for bite-sized caffeinated tin rations... These Smooth-tasting chocolate and chocolate-mint chews contain ginseng, taurine, and five B vitamins. Buzz Bites have an abundance of energy-educed paranoia goodness, not to mention each container of 12-chews has exactly 100mg of caffeine. That's the caffeine-equivalent to 18 cans of Coke (or 7.5 Red Bulls)! And, at under $4 a container, they are considerably cheaper.

SumSeeds Caffeinated Sunflower Seeds
Maybe you want a healthier food? How about sunflower seeds? That's healthy. Well, how about sunflower seeds infused with massive amounts of caffeine!? SumSeeds come in four different flavors: Original, Salt and Pepper, Honey BBQ, and Dill Pickle. Each 3.5oz bag contains 120mg of Caffeine (yeah, even more than the Buzz Bites) for a whopping caffeine-equivalent to 22 cans of Coke. Healthy has never buzzed so good.

Cocaine Energy Supplement
Scarffing down all those snacks is sure to make you thirsty. Why break the trend? Cocaine Energy Drink offers up 8.4oz cans of buzz-worthy refreshment containing 350% more caffeine than Red Bull. That's 280mg of Caffeine in each can (or roughly the same amount that would be found in 50 -that's right, fifty - individual cans of Coke). Each serving also contains 750mg of taurine, 100mg of inositol, 50mg of L-carnitine, 250mg of D-ribose, and 25mg of Guarana. It's like a magical potion of Wake-The-F**k-Up!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Talk about a Critical Hit!

Written by Justin Mason

Over the years I’ve seen some pretty unusual game dice, made from almost anything you can imagine from bone to stone, from tin to precious gem, but today I’ve seen a d20 that I have to get my hands on.

Ever since I was a little kid in my elementary science class were I was first introduced to the vastness of our solar system, galaxy and universe, I’ve been somewhat enthralled with things “from the heavens above.” In fact, I’ve always secretly longed to get my hands on a meteorite to have forged into a dagger or sword -- just because.

Many of my role-playing game characters over the past two decades have had meteoric iron armor, weapons and gear. Some of those character's were completely obsessed with the rare material.

I had always assumed that was likely to be as close as I would get to owning any myself. However, now I (and anyone else who’s interested) can get their own tiny piece of extra-terrestrial real-estate in the form of a 16mm Meteorite d20 from Crystal Castle.

“Floating around for perhaps billions of years, meteorites are some to the rarest objects on Earth. There is far less total known meteorite material on Earth, counting all known varieties, than there is gold, platinum, emeralds, rubies, or sapphires. The artisans of Crystal Caste turned some of this wondrous material into Dwarven Stones.” -- Crystal Castle Website

At $300, it’s anything but cheap, but come on!?

We’re talking about rolling with a d20 that was once a flaming ball of superheated rock that plummeted to our atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour from the depths of the solar system and crashed into the earth. Talk about a critical hit!

Crystal Castle also offers Meteorite dice in d6, 12mm d20 and 14mm d20 styles; ranging in price from $100 to $200.

Specific details about the meteorite used to make these dice are --

Name: Ghubara
Location: Oman, 19°13'40"N; 56°08'34" E
Found: 1954
Classification: Chondrite, Ordinary (L5), black, xenolithic Approx. Recovered Weight: 4kg Found on the surface of the desert, the stones are fresh internally, and the crust only slightly weathered. Total Known Weight (TKW): 9+ stones @ 100+Kg
Sources: Meteorites from A to Z, 2nd ed. Jensen, Jensen & Black; Catalogue of Meteorites, 5th ed.,Cambridge University Press

Worth mentioning is that Crystal Castle also offers extraordinary dice made from Camarasaurus (the largest Dinosaur to roam the Earth) fossil, mammoth ivory, and prehistoric Megalodon teeth.

The Mage's Prism (Artifact)

Written by Justin Mason

The Mage’s Prism

This complexly faceted crystal shard is about ten inches in length with as base about three inches wide that tapers off to a point. Angled, smooth surfaces refract light erratically as the shard is turned.

The Artifact Effects

When this artifact is brought into direct contact with another magical item, it begins to naturally radiate from within. The shard reacts to the essence of magic contained in any other magical item, and can actually be used to identify many of those properties with the use of shifting colors and patterns that are unique to a set of properties.

Also, 3x per day the shard can be used as a magic wand to cast the spell Identify. Though Identify won’t reveal the properties of the artifacts, all other effects of the prism will function for artifacts as well as normal magical items.

When the shard is used on an Artifact, there is a 5% chance that the wielder will be given a detailed vision, providing a complete historical background of the artifact, it’s abilities and any required activation methods. This 5% chance only occurs the very first time the shard comes into contact with said artifact. Rolls for this effect are final and cannot be redone.

Possible Colors & Identifying Patterns
  • Red Glow: +1Bonus or -1 Penalty
  • Orange Glow: +2 Bonus or -2 Penalty
  • Yellow Glow: +3 Bonus or -3 Penalty
  • Green Glow: +4 Bonus or -4 Penalty
  • Blue Glow: +5 Bonus or -5 Penalty
  • Indigo Glow: +6 Bonus or -6 Penalty
  • Violet Glow: +7 Bonus or Greater Bonus or -7 or Greater Penalty
  • White Glow: Item is Magical, but has no Bonus Equivalent
  • Constant Quick Flashing Pulses: Cursed Item
  • Constant Slow Rhythmic Pulses: Item Contains Charges, number of pulses indicates number of charges.
  • Vibrates in Wielder’s Hand: Item is classified as an Artifact
  • Feels Warm to the Touch: Item is Intelligent (Ego Less Than Wielder’s)
  • Feels Very Hot to the Touch: Item is Intelligent (Ego Greater Than Wielder’s)
  • Feels Cool to the Touch: Item is Self Recharging (Example: 3x/day or 1x/week, etc.)
  • Feels Very Cold to the Touch: Item is Evilly Aligned/Attuned
  • Emits a Low-Pitch Humming Sound: Items Properties are Arcane In Nature
  • Emits a High-Pitch Humming Sound: Items Properties are Divine In Nature

Introduction of Artifact

Though Identify is a lower level spell (Brd 1, Magic Domain 2, Sor/Wiz 1), the shards true advantage and power is its ability to shed light on artifacts. Odds are that this item will already be heavily used and highly prized by a fairly powerful wizard or mage. However, logical alternatives for introducing the artifact into the campaign could be a treasure hunter or merchant who uses the item frequently to test potential purchases or looted treasures. Or, perhaps a merchant who wishes the characters to "retrieve" the shard from the wizard who claims it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Getting Back to the Basics

Written by Justin Mason

One of my fondest early role-playing experiences was with what most now refer to as Basic Dungeons & Dragons. More specifically, the 1983-1984 red, blue, cyan and black boxed sets with fantastic art by Larry Elmore.

My friends and I were in junior high school, and things were usually pretty, well, "basic". Our game sessions consisted mostly of dungeon-delves strung together by very loose, usually pre-determined central plots used mostly to explain why in hell our characters kept ending up in these accursed, monster-filled (and treasure-filled) dungeons.

It was during this time, I had one of my most impacting game-related experiences. It was summertime, school was out for three months, and the entire lot of us had virtually no responsibilities from sun-up until midnight. It was the perfect breeding ground for imagination.

Early one morning, I cracked the crimson cover to the Dungeon Master’s Rulebook for the very first time, grabbed my dice, a pencil and notepad, and a sheet of blank graph paper. A few hours later, I had created my very first dungeon…

Sitting there in my bedroom, holding in my hands a pitifully-sketched map of strangely rectangular-shaped rooms and a dozen pages of scribbled notes, I somehow knew that this fantastic concept -- role-playing games -- would forever-more be a part of my life in one way or another.

Thinking back on it now, I’m sure there are several factors just beyond recollection that attribute to the fondness of these memories: the smell of the dank, dusty and moldy basement where we spent hours-on-end felling dragons and evil wizards, room-temperature sandwiches and lukewarm colas that would have made trail-rations seem appealing, and the comradery of a half-dozen kids piled around a rickety card table rolling dice for hours on end. Those were the days.

There have been times since then that I have longed to recapture at least part of the essence of “Basic” role-playing games; the easy character management, the simplicity of the rules, etc. And, I was willing to bet that I was not the only one out there who was interested in running/playing a Basic RPG campaign. And, I was correct.

The Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game is a rules-light game system based on the d20 SRD v3.5, but heavily rewritten with inspiration from early RPG game systems. It is suitable for those who are fans of "old-school" game mechanics.

I also found Labyrinth Lord by Goblinoid Games, though at the time of this blog entry their website is undergoing renovations.

If you know of any other retro-clone “Basic” role-playing games that are available out there, please let me know by leaving a comment so others might find it as well.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Leira’s Coin of Willful Deception (Artifact)

Written by Justin Mason

Leira’s Coin of Willful Deception

This large copper coin has been masterfully crafted, and minted with the image of a two-headed maiden on one side, and a grinning skull on the other. It is fairly thick, and along the edge has been delicately engraved in the common language, “One is never more truthful than when acknowledging oneself as a liar.”

This coin has only one use per 24-hours, and can only be activated when knowingly attempting to utilize its power. The effect is activated by tossing/flipping the coin, catching it in the air while focusing on the target, and promptly placing the coin back into a small pouch or sack containing 99 non-magical copper coins. If the result of the toss is witnessed by any party then the effect of the artifact is nullified. If there are any other items in the container, or if there are more or less than 99 other standard copper coins in said container the effect will still function, however the item will not recharge until these specifications are met.

Target: a single sentient individual within 100-yards.

Mechanics: The coin toss should be handled by the Game Master, and the result of the coin toss hidden from the player. The player will remain indefinitely unaware of the which of the two possible effects have been activated.

Detection: Once the daily charge is used-up, the coin becomes just a regular copper coin, and as such cannot be detected by any magical means until the charge returns 24-hours after being activated.

The Artifacts Effects:

Coin Toss Results of Heads (Grinning Skull):
For 24-hours, the character gains a +25 to all Bluff checks made towards the specified target.

Coin Toss Results of Tails (Two-Headed Maiden):
For 24-hours, the character is penalized -13 to all Bluff checks and -13 to all Sense Motive checks. This effects all checks made by character towards any target.

Cumulative Effects:
If the coin’s effects are successfully used (results of heads) three time in a row on a single target (over a period of 3-days), then an additional effect comes into play for each concurrent successful attempt on the target. This additional effect is upon the target and acts as the Charm Person spell at a Caster Level (CL) of 20 with an effect duration of 24-hours. When affected by this cumulative effect, the target is also penalized -13 on all "opposed Charisma checks" when attempting to counter orders from the character to do something the target wouldn't normally do. This cumulative "charm" effect also affects targets of a race, species, or class that would normally be immune to such charm effects.

Introduction of Artifact

This is a great little artifact to introduce into a campaign. It is a fairly powerful item, yet still very easy to overlook. After all, when was the last time any of your characters detected magic on a common pouch filled with 100 copper coins? It is also a great tool to use when introducing a particularly devious npc; especially one trying to deceive the characters.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Custom Minis for Your Campaign

Written by Justin Mason

Once again pondering the many ways to add a custom touch to your role-playing game, I was referred to 3dTotal and their “3D Model Printing” service.

Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like -- they can actually “print” miniatures from standard 3D model files. 3dTotal offers a few free model options, however there are many 3D-artists references available for custom model design.

The resulting miniature is "rugged" and "durable" -- not the brittle plaster-like material associated with some 3D-Printed products.

3DTotal Ltd. has partnered with Growit LLC to offer this pretty amazing service. The miniatures are printed (or “grown”) in layers as small as 16 microns (.0006 inces) which means the final piece is of a quality and detail rarely seen. In fact, it virtually eliminates any “stair-stepping” effect that often is associated with rapid prototyping.

Download their Preparation Guide, and in just a few minutes, you’ll be underway to having your own custom miniatures that can be perfectly customized to represent player-characters, unique monsters, or npcs.

Prices for printing the miniatures range from $50 (the option most average miniatures would fall into) to $500 (for pieces up to 7.5” tall.)

No more “searching for the miniature that looks most like your character.” Now, for an affordable price, you can actually have the miniature that IS your character.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Table-Top Role Playing 2.0

Written by Justin Mason

You’re the Game Master, it’s game night, and you have all your notes ready. From world design, to the contents of the dungeon, non-player character and monster stats, and treasure lists -- it's all there at your finger tips. So, the question is, how organized are you, really?

More and more Game Masters are loosing the thick wire-bound notebooks chocked full of scribbles and sticky-notes and stepping into the age of the internet.

Yeah, I know, the internet has been easily accessible for over dozen years, so it’s not really a “new day.” The internet is integrated into just about every aspect of our lives, but it’s taken a long time for table-top role-playing community to really catch up to standardizing the technologies use in our campaigns and game sessions.

Obsidian Portal is the service that should be destined to usher in this game-table upgrade. It’s free, it’s expansive, it’s user-friendly, and most of all -- it’s cross-platform compatible. Meaning, all of the services and standard features are of use to both Game Masters and players regardless of what game system, game world, or genre they may be using.

I could write a lengthy, detailed description of what Obsidian Portal is, but since they’ve gone to the trouble of already compiling a video that does just that, how about I just share it with you right here:

As a Game Master who has used the Obsidian Portal service to run a weekly, 56-game-session campaign, I guarantee you that it makes it fun and easy to keep track of your campaign, setting, characters, storyline and game session notes.
Also, involve your players in the wiki function of the service and you will witness a dimension and element to your setting that’s totally new as you also get to see, for the likely the first time, your game world through the eyes of the players/characters.

I highly recommend you check it out. It’s a worthwhile 11-minutes.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Exact Change Only! In-Character Props at the Game Table

Written by Justin Mason

So, I’ve seen a few products out there that specifically target the idea of providing in-character props at the game table. One particular product that comes to mind are Campaign Coins (, a great product from King of the Castle Games. These coins come in the standard fantasy denominations (copper, silver, gold, platinum) and the coins themselves are divided into whole amounts including (1, 10, 100 and 1000).

Now these are “actual” coins. They are metal, they have weight to them, they clink together in a leather pouch, they just have a minted feel to them. It is a quality product worthy of any game collection.

The company offers several options and unique designs for their coins, but I recommend anyone interested in incorporating these into game sessions start off with the Campaign Coin: Starter Set -- which costs about $70 and you get a wide distribution of 121 coins in one box.

Product Purchase Link:

Let me say up front that I am a huge fan of this product and the concept, but a fair word of warning to any Game Master planning on integrating them into a campaign:

If you think the typical character “shopping session” takes too long, just wait until they’re paying the shop owner with coins… It’s especially fun when a character decides to buy a 1 cp tankard of ale with a platinum piece, and then waits while the poor bartender breaks out his life’s savings to make change.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dice that Blow the Mind

Written by Justin Mason

Last month we started this blog off with explaining how you can get your very own, professional quality, custom character portrait for your character or npc. Well, we thought we would continue with the theme of custom accessories and supplements and point out Q-workshop.

Q-workshop is a Poland-based dice company. They have virtually hundreds of unique sets of dice from a dozen or more main categories ranging from fantasy, to post-apocalyptic to science-fiction. They even have neon, glow-in-the-dark dice -- come on: how cool is that!?

All of their dice are very affordable, and consist of a quality and intricacy we’ve not seem matched in the industry.

However, why stop there? Q-workshop not only makes some of the coolest most unusual dice in the industry… They also make your dice. That’s right, you can design your own custom set of dice, submit it to them, and they will turn your imagination into a tangible, roll-able, set of dice!

We’ve never seen another service quite like the custom dice service offered by Q-workshop, and all other alternatives come up short, and lacking in comparison (there just really isn’t a comparison). It’s not the cheapest option, but it is affordable enough for just about any game group to design a unique set and have enough made for all the players.

We highly recommend you check out Q-workshop, their plethora of unusual dice sets, and if you’re looking for another way to add your signature to your role-playing campaign, be sure to check out the custom dice creation service.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Custom RPG Character Portraits

Written by Justin Mason

As many of you may already know, Mythic Design has teamed up with a very talented company named They're primary service is to provide players and game masters with professional quality character portraits. However, upon seeing the quality of their work, we brought them on board as quickly as possible.

So, in appreciation for the outstandingly fantastic work they do for us, I thought I'd do them a small favor and plug them here on the blog.

Portraits begin as low as $25, and are priced in a tiered system starting with (Basic Level) Black and White sketches and progressing all the way to (Immortal Level) Full, book-cover quality digitally painted pieces. Every level is affordable, and will exceed your expectations on quality.

The turn around time takes about a week-or-so per level. Starting at a week for a Basic Level sketch up to 5-6 weeks for an Immortal Level portrait and background. Though these are their stated turn around time, we have experience much faster results (depending on their current workload).'s lead artist, Mates Laureniu is based in Romania, and produces amazing work. His portfolio includes works ranging from simple character sketches to detailed custom 3-D design, to movie character and set design.

So, if you're looking for an awesome portrait for your RPG character, definitely check out -- They're a top-notch service with a high-quality product.

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