Dungeons & Dragons

Explore the Upcoming 5E Campaign Setting of Kisarta for Dungeons & Dragons: Grim Horror at Its Finest

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You remember the teeth of the wolf sinking into your throat and tearing it out. You remember the blood spilling out of you, steaming as it hit the frost-covered ground. You died. But you didn’t enter the afterlife you were promised. Your Soul was lost and trapped somewhere else entirely….

Every Soul that enters Kisarta awakens inside a tomb with their name, in a gloomy and seemingly endless cemetery. As they raise from their tombs, Souls catch glimpses of the faint lights of Limbo, and above them the pale, heatless light of a ghostly sun eternally floating in a black, starless sky: Kisarta.

- From the Kisarta Quickstart Guide

I love reading about new campaign settings, and I was excited to take a look at this setting when the publisher reached out to RollforGeek on Facebook to let me know about the setting and to see if it might be something that interested me.

It has me more than a little intrigued. It’s dark, grim, dismal, and still have beautiful and evocative artwork, which you can see below. If you’ve been looking for a truly dark D&D setting, Kisarta could be for you. It will be published in Italian and English, and it has a Kickstarter that begins on July 22.

What is Kisarta?

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The entire premise of the Kisarta 5E campaign setting is grim and dismal. The city of Limbo is vast, bizarre, and the world is connected to different planes called the Seven Dominions each ruled by a Guardian. The Seven Dominions are not any nicer than Limbo. There’s the Crucible of the Damned, The Howling Forest, The Nameless Abyss, The Ocean of Lost Souls, The Pit of Eternity, The Radiant Citadel, and The Whispering Desert.

There are also the Lords of the Black Circle, who are even more powerful and evil than the Guardians of the Seven Dominions, cults and religions, madness and damnation rules, organizations, new races, changes to classes, new classes, and so much more. In fact, the Abomination class looks like a lot of fun to play. There’s all sorts of weirdness and horror happening in this setting, and that makes me happy.

It includes some brutal rules that you might not be used to in 5E, as well. For example, a short rest in Kisarta is eight hours, and a long rest is seven days. This will make most parties carefully consider how and when they get into combat. It will also require that the GM is creating encounters that are still balanced. This helps to emphasize just how unfriendly this setting is.

The City of Limbo with the Pale Sun Hanging Overhead

The City of Limbo with the Pale Sun Hanging Overhead

There is going to be a lot to explore in this campaign setting, and the quickstart guide only touches on them right now. It’s enough to get you started, and there is a lot of meat in the 35 pages. In fact, there’s more information in the guide than I’ve found in some fully released products that are twice the size. I can’t wait to eventually get my hands on the fully realized product.

I suggest that you consider checking out the free guide. You can download it here or through DriveThruRPG.

Check out the free guide to see if it might be something that’s right for you and that you will want to support through the Kickstarter. You can also learn more and provide feedback by checking out the Kisarta Facebook Page or the official Facebook Group.

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5 Things I Love About Ghosts of Saltmarsh

Ghosts of Saltmarsh

Ghosts of Saltmarsh

I’ve finally had some time to go through the latest offering from Dungeons & Dragons, Ghosts of Saltmarsh and thought I would let folks know about a few of the things that I really enjoyed and found useful from the book. I imagine that some others will find these to be useful, as well, and it might help them in their buying decisions. So, let’s take a look at five things that I love about this supplement.

Thing the First: The Town of Saltmarsh

All seven of the adventures in the book take place in and around the area of Saltmarsh, which really could be placed in just about any campaign world with very little tweaking. The town itself has quite a bit of background information provided, and it might be fun to have characters from the town or a nearby settlement. There are even some new backgrounds, along with tips on how to use backgrounds from the Player’s Handbook in the setting. New backgrounds include Fisher, Marine, Shipwright, and Smuggler.

The town and the region are well-detailed with plenty of places to go, factions, NPCs to interact with, locales for adventure, and more. Geographic features of interested include The Dreadwood, Drowned Forest, and Hool Marshes.

There is plenty to mine from in the book even if you don’t use the adventures as they are written. I usually pick and choose with these sorts of books, and there is a lot here, as you will see. Actually, this is one that I might try to run some of the adventures closer to how they are written rather than just mining from them.

Thing the Second: The Ships, Crew, and Upgrades

There are several stat blocks and maps for different types of ships including:

  • Galleys

  • Keelboats

  • Longships

  • Rowboats

  • Sailing ships

  • Warships

There’s some brief information on crew members and officers that a ship would need, there are hull and movement upgrades that can be added to ships, weapon upgrades, figurehead upgrades, and more. One of my favorites, because it is weird, is the Death Vessel hull upgrade, which uses materials harvested from the Shadowfell to provide the ship with an aura of dread… that just sounds neato.

Thing the Third: Combat, Travel, and Hazards on the Seas

The rules for ship combat and travel on the seas are straightforward and simple, which I like. Everything is streamlined in combat and the travel portions. DMs can learn how to add various types of hazards to the travel, and to the combat, such as having a fire erupt on a ship while it is in combat. There are simple tables to help deal with a range of issues that could crop up, and best of all, it really helps to ignite my imagination.

Thing the Fourth: Ocean Environs and Ship Encounters

This section of the book deals with all of the strangeness and awesomeness of the sea. You will find information on blue holes, sandbars, coral reefs, learn how currents can affect travel, and learn more about the dangers of the depths. Some of the other fun environs detailed include kelp forests, Kraken graves, eldritch mist, magical storms, and… you get the idea. There is a lot, and they all have DCs or tables with them to make them easy to use.

The Ship Encounters section is great too, making it easy to come up with random encounters quickly. The ship name generator is a lot of fun, as is the crew name generator.

Thing the Fifth: Mysterious Islands

This is a great feature and a simple way to set up some wild and fun encounters for your players. You roll to determine the theme of the island, the leader of the island, and story hooks. Very simple, but great for getting the imagination going. Let’s take a look at a random result that I will roll right now (mainly because I want to roll some dice). And for the fun of it, I rolled up a crew member name.

So…

Our crew member, Drizzly Mast (I swear that’s a possible combo in the book), finds a mysterious island that is about two miles long and five miles wide. Since good ol’ Drizzly has been in the tropics, he will come across a tropical island. It has an “alien” theme and the island leader is a beholder. Some of the inhabitants on the island are cult fanatics who refuse to interact with the characters, seeing them as lesser beings. The story hook rolled for the island is that the leader has a spell scroll of true resurrection in its belongings.

It is a quick and easy encounter that could be a lot of fun and quite a challenge.

These are just five of the things that I love about the book. There are more, but I am already getting dangerously close to 1,000 words.

Do You Need to Buy Ghosts of Saltmarsh?

As with most of the Dungeons & Dragons books that are not a part of the core three (Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monster Manual), you don’t need them. However, there are some fun adventures in the book, along with the other elements that I discussed above.

It has a lot going for it in my opinion, and if you like nautical adventures and you plan to have some seafaring in your campaign, this is a great way to get some new backgrounds, additional rules, and new creatures that you can use. If you are on the fence and you have the money for it, I’d say go for it. For me, it was well worth the money.

A Quick Review of Festivals, Feasts and Fairs by Ashley May

An easy to use and affordable resource for Dungeon Masters.

An easy to use and affordable resource for Dungeon Masters.

I do a lot of homebrewing and I often have to come up with ideas on the fly… which can sometimes be more taxing than I really like. This is especially true after a long week of writing for my day job. That’s why I really appreciate products like Festivals, Feasts and Fairs by Ashley May. This book is fun and filled to the brim with useful information.

Available on the DM’s Guild, this .pdf is filled with easy to use, fun activities/ideas that you can throw into your Dungeons & Dragons games for when the characters have a little bit of downtime. There will be plenty of fun interactive activities, which you can incorporate into more than just fairs and festivals.

Although the book is only about 40 pages, it is full of great information that makes it easy to create holiday celebrations for a town or city, to create a carnival or circus, to create festivals, feasts, fairs, and to round them out with a wealth of activities.

You will even find rules for archery contests, arm wrestling, drinking contests, eating contests, jousting, milking cows, pig calling, carnival games, and… so much more. It gets even better. The book has information about vendors of different types, fortune telling, different types of items that can be found around a carnival or fair, six new magic items, two new backgrounds – carnie and mummer.

Lots of content that will be easy to integrate into just about any campaign.

Lots of content that will be easy to integrate into just about any campaign.

The book gives you plenty of information to put a festival or event (or even an entire traveling carnival) together relatively quickly and easily, which is a huge benefit to me. You will even find sample festivals that can be quickly re-skinned and slipped right into your campaign.

I’ve already used information from the book a couple of times, and I will be doing so in the future, as well. It’s one of my favorite purchases from the DM’s Guild thus far.

For less than $4, I highly recommend this for any overworked DMs who might want to have a simple way to put together some fast, fun things for the players to do. And like I said, it’s likely to ignite your imagination and provide you with some interesting story ideas. Check it out.

Odyssey of the Dragonlords – A Short and Sweet Look

Odyssey of the Dragonlords from Arcanum Worlds and Modiphius

Odyssey of the Dragonlords from Arcanum Worlds and Modiphius

I have been looking for a good setting for Dungeons & Dragons 5E that features the look and feel of Ancient Greece and Greek mythology for a while now, and I think I might have finally found what I’m looking for. Odyssey of the Dragonlords, created by James Ohlen and Jesse Sky from Arcanum Worlds, is being published by Modiphius and should come out later this year. From what I’ve seen so far, it rings all the right bells for me. It is a setting, as well as a campaign, and it should be able to provide the type of flavor that I am looking for.

The project successfully finished its Kickstarter recently, but that doesn’t mean that you’ve missed out – which is fortunate because I am still trying to put aside some extra money to get it through Modiphius when it releases. If this type of setting and adventure interests you, go check out what’s available to order.

Odyssey of the Dragonlords Player’s Guide

Odyssey of the Dragonlords Player’s Guide

Even better, you can check out the Player’s Guide, which is currently FREE on the Modiphius site. Head there (or to DriveThruRPG.com) and download it and check it out for yourself. The free guide is only about 30 pages long right now, but it is full of great information – you could even get started adventuring in Thylea before the main product releases. The Players Guide contains the history of the land of Thylea, the kingdoms and factions of the land, the myths, the laws, new playable races, backgrounds, epic paths, information on the gods and Titans, the Dragonlords, and more. I’ve read through it a few times already, and I can’t wait until the whole product releases.

If you’ve ever wanted to play in a Greek-style setting that has its own mythology rather than being tied to real-world myths (which your players are probably already familiar with), this could be the setting for you. I’m seriously looking forward this set and will be purchasing the Gold Medalist late pledge through Modiphius in a couple of weeks.

From the setting to the fantastic art and writing, this is a land I can’t wait to adventure in… although let’s be honest, I’ll probably still be the DM rather than a player. I know my lot in life. I can already think of plenty of ways that I want to take Greek myths and twist them and reconfigure them to fit into this setting – familiar, but able to keep players who know mythology on their toes.

Anyway, go check it out!

Finding Monsters: Going Beyond the Monster Manual for Your D&D Baddies with these 4 Monster Tomes

5E D&D Monster Books from Kobold Press, Frog God Games, and Petersen Games

5E D&D Monster Books from Kobold Press, Frog God Games, and Petersen Games

If you’ve been DMing for a while, you’ve probably already used quite a few of the monsters from the good old Monster Manual. If your players have been around for any length of time, then they probably have had characters face off against many of the horrors in that book (and their previous incarnations), as well as some of the subsequent books that have been put out by Wizards of the Coast over the last few years.

The monsters in those books are great, and you do have quite a bit of variety. But, as a DM, you know that monsters are just like dice… you can never have too many. At least that’s the way I feel.

So, I have collected a range of other monster manuals that have helped to add plenty of additional monsters and even NPCs to the mix, including the Creature Codex and Tome of Beasts from Kobold Press, both of which are great and quite popular. However, there are a couple of other books that you might not have heard of that could be nice if you need an influx of new critters and options to add to your games.

Tome of Horrors from Frog God Games

Frog God Games is a popular third-party publisher that has put out quite a few interesting books for Pathfinder, as well as Dungeons & Dragons 5E. This book has 338 pages and a variety of monsters that does a nice job of building onto the options that are available in the Monster Manual.

Some of my favorites include the Phooka, a small fey creature that could make for an interesting NPC. There are a variety of types or orcs, oozes, gremlins, elemental goblins, and some really interesting creatures. For example, there is a Mouse Dragon and a Giant Hamster. You read those names right, and there’s plenty of other strangeness and greatness in the book. You can find the hardcover version on Amazon currently, and the PDF version through DriveThruRPG.com at this link.

Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos 5E from Petersen Games

The name Sandy Petersen is likely familiar to a lot of you. After all, it was Petersen who is the author of the Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game that is certainly one of the most beloved properties of all time. Here, he’s bringing the horrors of Lovecraft to the realms of Dungeons & Dragons in a way that only he can. You will get information on the cults, including the Cult of Great Cthulhu and the Cult of the Black Goat. You will learn about the culture of the Deep Ones, more about various Mythos entities and how traditional fantasy races fit into the scheme of things.

Of course, it also includes stats for the various creatures that you will find in the Cthulhu stories including those written by Lovecraft and other authors who have worked on Mythos stories over the years.

One of the nice things about this book is the fact that it is more than just a collection of monsters that you can use. You will also find some great information on running horror games and using insanity and dread, along with mythos spellcasting, new player character options and backgrounds, and even several new player character races. You could even play as a Dreamlands Cat or a Mythos-style ghoul. There are a lot of weird possibilities here.

This is a massive 433-page book that’s well worth the price. The physical edition of the book should be out in August of 2019, but you can currently get in on the PDF action now at their website. I have the PDF, and it is gorgeous, but I can’t wait to get the hardcover.

If this product sounds familiar, it might be because there is a Pathfinder version that is already out in the wild. However, the 5E version does feature a bit more, including dozens of additional monsters, additional backgrounds and character options, and more than 70 new illustrations.

Kobold Press – Tome of Beasts and the Creature Codex

Kobold Press tends to put out a lot of good quality content, and that’s certainly true when it comes to their 5E monster compendiums. Both the Creature Codex and the Tome of Beasts are filled to the brim with all manner of monstrous goodness to throw at adventuring parties. My favorite, even though I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, is the ooze with a shark inside of it… the whole thing looks like a fishbowl. In fact, there are a lot of weird and wild creations inside of these monster collections. You can check them out on Amazon by clicking on Creature Codex or Tome of Beasts. They are also available on DriveThruRPG.com at Creature Codex and Tome of Beasts.

What About You?

These are just a few of the books that I have used or that I will be using in addition to the WotC books going forward, but I’m always looking for more.

Let me know if you have any books of 5E monsters that we should check out.

Basics of What You Need to Know About Wayfinder’s Guide to Eberron

Well, the Eberron campaign guide is here. Well, it’s mostly here. Currently, you can pick up a PDF version of the guide, which is called Wayfinder's Guide to Eberron, on the DM’s Guild by clicking the link. The current cost is $19.99, and having had a quick look at it, I have to say that thus far, there is quite a bit to enjoy.

What I’ve read so far is well-written and engaging, and there appears to be quite a lot that I will want to use. It also makes me want to run a setting in Eberron, which is saying quite a lot since I am mainly a homebrewer.

However, there’s a bit to unpack when it comes to exactly what this book is and why there is not currently a hardback release, as one might initially expect from a D&D release from Wizards of the Coast.

Rumors for New Dungeons & Dragons 5E Settings - Will Eberron Be Coming Soon? What About Other Settings, Like Planescape?

It's been an unfortunately long time since I've been able to post, mostly because the day writing job as a freelancer and the work on other personal writing projects has impacted just how much time I have to write posts. It happens. Hopefully, things will change to give me more time sooner rather than later.

For now, though,  here's a short post based on some rumors and, well, some decent evidence. @BrainClouds (David Flor) posted on Twitter that he discovered that the DM's Guild is adding a setting that many people already know and love - Eberron. It looks like Wizards of the Coast might have leaked their own secret a bit early through the DM's Guild, and David was keen-eyed enough to spot it.

Happy Mother’s Day: D&D Origin Story

I’ve talked about this before. It’s essentially the origin story of why I love and play Dungeons & Dragons, similar to what I have on the about us page. Being Mother’s Day, thought, I wanted to write about it again here because there are just those days where I miss my mother a lot, and this is certainly one of them.

Northeastern Olandara: My First Map for the New Campaign World With Inkarnate Pro

I haven’t had much of a chance to put up as many posts as I would like, and a big part of that is due to the amount of work I’ve been putting into a massive Dungeons & Dragons project that will eventually (hopefully) see the light of day – we’re pushing for fall of 2018. Of course, this will all depend on a range of factors, and one of those is my ability to take care of a bunch or preproduction and production stuff. But that’s not really the focus of this article. This is about my experience with Inkarnate, an online map making tool.

Don’t Be a Backseat DM: Let the Dungeon Master Handle the Game

In the last article, I talked about some tips for those who were new to DMing and gamemastering. I thought it was appropriate to follow up with a quick bit of advice for Dungeon Masters who are now players in campaigns whether they are run by experienced or novice DMs. As the title states, don’t be a backseat DM. What does this mean though?

Miniature from Hero Forge - A Half-Orc Named Pesci

I've only recently started down the path to minis for Dungeons & Dragons, and I still don't use them in all of my games. I started with some of the pawn sets put out by Paizo, which were of a higher quality than I had initially anticipated. Then, I started to fall down the rabbit hole even further, and I began to look at the many different mini options out there, including the prepainted minis from Pathfinder, along with Nolzur's Marvelous Miniatures. They were all relatively cheap, and I figured I could grab a few here and there and then eventually learn how to paint (still working on that last part).

I had also heard of a popular company called Hero Forge, which allows people to make custom minis for their game. I loved the idea, but it's a costly venture. I spent about $35 for a single mini (a birthday present of the half-orc fighter Pesci, my friend Erin's character in a game we play set in Tal'Dorei). Let's look at some photos of Pesci and images of some other minis for a comparison.

D&D Video Update for Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes from Wizards of the Coast

More news (a lot more news) has been released regarding the upcoming D&D book Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, but rather than having me dissect it all and write out a long winded post regarding the book, I thought I would provide you with a video of Dragon Talk from Wizards of the Coast. Hosted by Greg Tito and Shelley Mazzanoble, with guests Kate Irwin and Jeremy Crawford who are working on the book, the video delves into much of what we can expect when we get our hands on the book at the end of May.

I have to say, I'm even more excited now than I was when the first information was released.

New D&D Book Coming Soon: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes

Some great news from the folks at Wizards of the Coast! They just announced that there will be a new book releasing on May 29, 2018, called, as you saw in the title, Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes. While we don’t know a whole lot about the book quite yet, I’m already looking forward to it based on how happy I’ve been with Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, which I find myself perusing and using more and more often.

DM Tips and Opinions: Running a Small Group for D&D and Other RPGs

Back in the day, the crew I used to play with would be six or seven strong most of the time, and that’s what I was accustomed to. Today, I generally run much smaller groups for D&D, Star Wars, and other RPGs. In fact, it’s often just four in total, including me as the DM. There are both good and bad things about running a small group. Let's look into it.

5 Gifts for Tabletop RPG Players

Recently, I put up an article on items that DMs and GMs might like as a gift. However, I don’t want to leave out the players. I also figured I should do it before the holidays, even though these are great gifts no matter the occasion. After all, a gamemaster wouldn’t have much to do if there were no players. So, here’s a list of some items that you may want to consider picking up for some of your favorite roleplayers out there. While they might not need all these items, they can be a lot of fun.

Check out 5 great types of gifts for tabletop RPG players.

Do You Use Miniatures for Your Tabletop Roleplaying Games?

I love the idea of using miniatures and tokens in games like Dungeons & Dragons and Starfinder. However, it’s not something that I do very often. In fact, the only time I’ve used any type of minis or maps recently has been in a couple of Star Wars games that I’ve run, and then on Roll20, of course, since it’s so easy to do. Before that, I hadn’t used any since the third edition of D&D. Even then, they were my DMs minis and terrains, not my own.

Why haven’t I started using minis and terrain? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

Great RPGs for Kids and All New Players

In yesterday’s post, we talked about some of the benefits that can come from having your children play tabletop RPGs such as D&D. Today, I wanted to write just a bit about some of the different game systems and settings that tend to be nice and easy to use, even for those who are just starting out. So, let’s have a look at some of these roleplaying games that would work well for kids, as well as any new player for that matter.

DM Tips and Opinions: 10 Benefits of Kids Playing Tabletop Roleplaying Games Like Dungeons & Dragons

Roleplaying games, whether it’s Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, Starfinder, Cypher System or anything else, really can be for just about everyone. If you are on this site, then there’s a good chance you feel the same way or you at least want to learn more about how RPGs can affect kids.

There’s something magic about these types of games. They pull you away into a new world or into the setting of your favorite book or movie. I feel that they can be great for people of just about every age (why not have people in retirement homes start playing to keep sharp? It's better than sitting and staring at the television). Let's check out some of the best reasons kids should play.

Tal’Dorei Campaign Setting: A Brief Review

I’ve become a huge fan of Critical Role and have been following the adventures of Vox Machina for a while now. So, it’s only natural that I would be excited about the campaign book to come out to learn a bit more of what goes on in Matt Mercer’s head. Mercer, along with James Haeck, wrote the guide, which is populated by some gorgeous art straight from the Critter Community.

5 Horror Tabletop RPGs for the Halloween Season

With October upon us, it’s natural to start thinking about adding a bit of horror to your roleplaying game. Whether it is a one-shot or an ongoing campaign of terror, you can choose from quite a few fun and interesting games that might pique you and your players’ interest.

I’ve compiled a list of five games that I think will fit in well with the holiday of horror. Later in the month, I hope to post an article or two on building suspense and horror in your gaming sessions. Let's look at these five games to see what they can offer.