Monster Monday: Kala Archer of Tarakona

Lizardman Archer by Walsidar on DeviantArt

The savage continent of Tarakona, where draconic races battle for supremacy!

The fearsome, combative, plains-dwelling Kala people (think lizardfolk) use well-trained archers to overwhelm enemies from the back line.

As noted for kala warriors, kala prefer to find the most powerful enemy—that front-line barbarian, fighter, or paladin—and swarm him or her. The archers follow this strategy, even willing to fire through allies at the identified enemy.

The archers also eliminate one of the big weaknesses of ranged combatants: opportunity attacks against melee enemies. The archer’s rapid eye feature allows it to effectively make ranged attacks as melee attacks.

As such, if you’re adding kala archers into your campaign, beware that they’re quite a bit more powerful than your standard ranged monster. Use fewer than you normally would until you’re sure of how the PCs will deal with them.

 

Text version of stat block:


Kala Archer

Medium humanoid, lawful


  • Armor Class 16
  • Hit Points 20 (5d8)
  • Speed 30 ft.

|STR|DEX|CON|INT|WIS|CHA|
|:—:|:—:|:—:|:—:|:—:|:—:|
|15 (+2)|14 (+2)|11 (+0)|8 (-1)|14 (+2)|9 (-1)|


  • Proficiency Bonus +2
  • Skills Athletics +3, Nature +3, Survival +5
  • Senses passive Perception 12
  • Languages Draconic
  • Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Rapid Eye. The archer can make one ranged attack against a target within 5 feet without provoking an opportunity attakc.

Pack Tactics. The archer has advantage on attack rolls against a target if at least one of the archer’s allies is within 5 feet of the target and the ally isn’t incapacitated.

Actions

Shortbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 80/320, one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) piercing damage.

Tactics

The archer will focus fire on whatever enemies the warriors focus on, even if firing past a warrior. If the archer can’t get a clear shot, the archer will fire at enemy spellcasters.

Categories: Tarakona | Leave a comment

Faction Friday: The Wizard’s Tower

Adaptation of 'The Making of Harry Potter 29-05-2012' by Karen RoeCoril Hawklight, a high-level wizard, lives in this classic wizard’s tower. He can be run as either friendly to the PCs, in which case he will ask them to recover powerful magical artifacts in return for a useful artifact from his own collection, or as an antagonist who has stolen a powerful artifact and keeps it in the top level of his tower.

The tower sits on a large rock outcropping; visitors must scale the rock and find the single large stone door that serves as entrance. If Coril is in the tower, he knows whenever anyone nears the entrance and will open it for friends; otherwise the PCs must use magic or a DC 20 Strength check to force open the door. Inside, a large spiral stone staircase runs up the inner wall of the tower, providing access to each level.

Level 1: Stables

Stone stalls run around the walls of this level, its cobblestone floor covered with hay. Animated brooms maintain this space, and they care for any mounts that are placed in a stall: brushing them down, feeding them, watering them, etc. If invaders enter, the animated brooms attack with the stats of a baboon, dealing bludgeoning instead of piercing damage (AC 12, HP 3, Speed 30, Climb 30, Init +2, Attack +1, Hit 1 (1d4 – 1)).

Level 2: Laboratory and Museum

This level is divided into two rooms: one is a disorganized magical laboratory of sorts, while the other contains several powerful artifacts.

The laboratory contains three stout wooden tables on which sit bubbling beakers, jars of reagants, scattered notes, and several quills and inkpots.

The museum is a grand, half-moon shape with large windows made of thick glass (DC 15 to break). Inside, three artifacts sit on plinths: a canaith mandolin, a helm of teleportation, and a shield of missile attraction, each one in pristine condition. The walls are lined with the pelts of a nothic, a chuul, a grell, and a beholder.

The first intruder who enters the museum unannounced is targeted by a plane shift spell (save DC 30); on a fail the creature is immediately transported to the Ethereal Plane. The first intruder who enters the lower study unannounced is targeted by an imprisonment spell (save DC 30); on a fail the creature is restrained by chains until the creature states “I swear to leave and never return” (Coril will appear shortly to inform the creature of this fact). In either case, as soon as an intruder enters the museum or lower study (regardless of save) the entire tower is immediately encased in a force field that can only be removed by magic (as in dispel magic, wish, etc.), or at Coril’s desire.

This level is set up partly as a ruse. Coril entertains most visitors in the bottom 3 levels, and for most of them he maintains the fiction that all of his magical study and artifacts are confined here.

Level 3: The Dining Room

One entire level is reserved for a huge dining room, within which sits a polished wooden table large enough to seat 10 people very comfortably. It always has fine silver place settings that magically clean themselves as soon as the room empties of people. Coril creates and dismisses food with the wave of a hand, and he prefers game meats, sweet fruits, sweet breads, and very strong brandies.

If an intruder gets within 5 feet of the table, the silverware animates and attacks with the stats of a swarm of insects with 20 fly instead of 20 climb, one swarm per intruder (AC 12, HP 22, Speed 20, Fly 20, Init +1, Attack +3, Hit 10 (4d4)).

Level 4: Sleeping Quarters

Part of this level is reserved for Coril’s quarters, a cozy room with a huge four-poster bed, two overstuffed chairs next to a roaring fireplace that magically casts heat only in a 10-foot radius (and vents to another dimension), and a small table that usually contains a few history books. Coril likes to read from one of these books before retiring for the night.

The other half of the level contains half a dozen bedrooms about 20 feet wide, each outfitted with a brass bed, two chairs, a small desk, and a wash basin that is always full of fresh water. At the far end of the hall is a large tile bathroom, with toilets that void to another dimension and bathtubs large enough for 4 people at a time.

Level 5: Library

This circular room takes up the entire level, and is ringed with bookcases full of magical tomes. A large table takes up the center of the room, which is surrounded by four comfortable chairs.

The books here cover magic, monsters, and history. Generate some book titles here and here.

If a hostile creature enters the room, 1d4 magical books fly off the shelves and attack with the stats of an imp but with vulnerability to fire (AC 13, HP 10, Speed 20, Fly 40, Init +3, Attack +5, Hit 5 (1d4 + 3)).

Level 6: The Private Sanctum

This mostly empty sanctum contains four objects on plinths: a crystal ball, and an anstruth harp, an ioun stone of absorption, and a rod of alertness. Coril is notified as soon as anyone enters this chamber and will immediately teleport in.

Coril fights with the stats of an archmage.

Categories: Faction | Leave a comment

GMs: Ask These 3 Questions At the End of Every Session

'Group Hug' by Mel Aclaro on Flickr“What was your favorite part of the session?”

“What was your least favorite part of the session?”

“What do you want to see happen next?”

Of course, you don’t have to ask these questions. But if you don’t ask for feedback, or the feedback you get isn’t helpful, these questions tend to get to the heart of the matter.

Vague questions, like “So, how was the session?” or “So, what did you think?” get vague answers, like, “Good” or “Fine.” (Just as vague questions like “How are you?” get a vague answer of “Good.”)

You want to know what went right. What did the players respond to? What excited them, inspired them?

You also want to know what went wrong. You think you know, but the answer might surprise you.

And you want to plan for next session. Let the players tell you.

Protip: If one of your players stays quiet, ask them directly. Show them that their feedback matters to you, too.

Categories: Prescriptions | Leave a comment

The Scheduling Post

"Calendar*" by dafnecholet on Flickr

“Calendar*” by dafnecholet on Flickr

Feel free to steal/modify this for your group:

 

Hi there! I know it can be hard to find time for gaming. But I need to establish a few ground rules.

From now on, at the end of each session, we’re going to agree on a date and time for the next session. By that I mean, before we leave, we’re going to spend just a few moments working out a date/time for next session. We don’t have to all agree, but we’ll come to a majority vote.

If you don’t verbally commit to attending, I’ll assume you’re not coming.

I need you to let me know by phone/email/text/Discord/Facebook at least 24 hours before a session if you can’t make it. I have to plan encounters, which I can’t do effectively if your fighting force is sudden reduced by one or two characters. I just won’t have enough time to plan. If I don’t receive enough warning ahead of time, another player will play your character.

If you show up without having committed, that’s great, and I’ll do my best to fit you in. I’d always rather have more players. Just be aware that I’ll have optimized the game for a smaller number of players, so the experience might be a little rougher than it would otherwise have been.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How to Get Minis 3D Printed

Deco Diselbot by Arian Croft

You’ve probably heard about 3D printing, and you’ve probably thought about 3D printed miniatures or terrain, but you probably don’t own a 3D printer. What to do?

You’ve got roughly four options, which I’ll describe here from the easiest (and most expensive) to the cheapest.

If you have no files and nothing to start with, just an idea, head over to HeroForge. Their site includes an incredibly customizable mini creation tool that works right in your browser. Choose from a huge variety of body types and measurements, clothes, items, helmets, boots, and so forth. They’ll then 3D print it in materials ranging from nylon plastic (USD $15) to steel ($35) and ship it directly to you. They can’t do terrain or anything beyond the minis you can build there, but what a great resource!

If you’re looking for a bit more flexibility, Shapeways has a section of pre-generated character models (and many, many other models, too). You choose a model on the site, and they’ll 3D print and ship it to you. They have a relatively limited range of models, unfortunately, and you can’t customize them, but you can find minis or terrain that you just can’t build with HeroForge.

But Shapeways is far from the only site offering mini files. You can search online for a 3D model of your character, using sites like Thingiverse and Yeggi. You can then upload that to Shapeways for printing, or try one of the options below.

3D Hubs will connect you with someone near you who owns a 3D printer. You can treat this in basically one of two ways: You can just upload a file you’ve found online, use the service to match you with a local 3D printer owner, and treat the rest of the transaction like it’s any other commercial site: order your file and have it sent to you. Or, you can treat it as more like a local social network that connects 3D printer owners with folks who want things printed. You can communicate with the owner about the file you want printed, explain exactly what you want, and even meet up with him or her at a public place to pick up your printed object. You can build a longer-term relationship with that owner and have a bunch of things printed, with a lot more flexibility and options than you’d get if you’re just making an order on Shapeways.

But the ultimate flexibility comes from a local makerspace or hackerspace. You might have one very close to you (search for a local makerspace here), and most of them have 3D printers. Members will almost certainly be willing to help you 3D print your object, and teach you how to operate their 3D printers yourself, so you can print as many objects as you want. Some makerspaces even sponsor 3D printer build clubs, so you can build your own 3D printer.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monster Monday: Kala Warrior of Tarakona

Credit: Anonymous

The savage continent of Tarakona, where draconic races battle for supremacy!

The fearsome, combative, plains-dwelling Kala people (think lizardfolk) pride themselves on their fierce warriors, who wade into battle and gang up on the most powerful enemy.

It’s easy for melee combat in D&D and other fantasy RPGs to get predictable. Melee monsters spread out amongst the front-line PCs, while ranged monsters stick to the back and look for where they can do most damage.

Kala Warriors are different. They will all coordinate to take down the biggest enemy, regardless of other powerful melee fighters in the battle. While this may cost them one or two warriors, their pack tactics can brutalize even a high-HP barbarian or paladin that the party counts on to hold the line, quickly shifting the tide of battle. Combine this with kala archers and warcasters for a tough battle.

As such, if you’re dropping the kala warrior alone into your campaign, beware that it can do a lot of damage in groups. Use slightly fewer than you normally would until you’re sure of how the PCs will deal with them.

 

Text version of stat block:


Kala Warrior

Medium humanoid, lawful


  • Armor Class 16
  • Hit Points 26 (5d8 + 4)
  • Speed 30 ft.

|STR|DEX|CON|INT|WIS|CHA|
|:—:|:—:|:—:|:—:|:—:|:—:|
|15 (+2)|14 (+2)|13 (+1)|8 (-1)|11 (+0)|9 (-1)|


  • Proficiency Bonus +2
  • Skills Athletics +3, Nature +2, Survival +4
  • Senses passive Perception 10
  • Languages Draconic
  • Challenge 1 (200 XP)

Pack Tactics. The warrior has advantage on attack rolls against a target if at least one of the warrior’s allies is within 5 feet of the target and the ally isn’t incapacitated.

Bloodied Frenzy. The warrior deals an extra 1d8 damage on attacks when reduced to half its Hit Points or fewer.

Actions

Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8+2) slashing damage, or 10 (2d8+2) if at half HP or fewer.

Tactics

Warriors seek out and gang up on the most powerful enemy in the battle, taking advantage of pack tactics.

Categories: Tarakona | Leave a comment

Faction Friday: The Eyetooth Cult

The Eyetooth Cult can be used either as a friendly faction that sends the PCs out on a mission, or as a foe that the PCs must overcome. It is led by Bariam Incisor, an old human man who wears a black, hooded cloak and carries a gnarled staff. The cult bases itself in an abandoned crypt where a werewolf is interred.

As a friendly faction, the Eyetooth Cult is a small cult to Cala, a canine god. Their leader has set himself up in an abandoned crypt to a powerful werewolf, where he’s careful not to desecrate anything, and his followers meet here once a week to perform simple rituals.

Plot hook: An enemy group has stolen Bariam’s staff of dreaming, which is a symbol of his authority within the cult. He pays handsomely for its return. The enemy group wants it to invade the dreams of a foe.

As a foe faction, the Eyetooth Cult is a pack of gnolls led by a werewolf who controls them with a staff of domination. He has secreted the gnolls in an abandoned crypt to a powerful werewolf, who he wants to raise as an undead servant.

Plot hook: The cult has been raiding nearby settlements (even dominated gnolls need food). During a recent raid, the village’s healer saw the staff and realized its purpose, and the village elders will pay the PCs to bring back the staff, broken, as proof that Bariam’s power is no longer.

The Crypt of Callahan
Room 1: Entrance Room 2 Room 3
Friendly: Two acolytes sit at a small, book-covered table in this small stone entrance chamber, studying their books.

Foe: Two gnolls keep watch in this small stone entrance chamber.

This otherwise empty chamber contains three sarcophagi (one along each side wall and a large one at the end) and four gargoyles. Stepping on any of the floor tiles in a 10’x10′ square at the room’s entrance causes darts to fire at the triggering creature (1d8 damage; DC 12 Dexterity saving throw for half damage). A DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check will identify the trap. Moving past the trap causes the gargoyles to animate if the intruders are unknown to them.

The cult usually performs its rituals in this chamber. Three copper ritual bowls lay on top of the large sarcophagus.

Each sarcophagus is carved with the image of a half-man, half-wolf. Each contains the skeleton of a human; the main sarcophagus also contains a small gold ring.

Bariam spends much of his time in this chamber off the main crypt. It contains a simple bed, chair, and table, on top of which are stacks of books about lycanthropy.

If attacked, this room will contain a force of cultists or gnolls guarding Bariam. A creature within 5 feet of Bariam can make a DC 15 Strength check to wrest the staff away from him and break it. Doing so ends his control of the gnolls, and they will attack anyone they please.

 

Categories: Faction | Leave a comment

Your villain should be like your PCs except in one way

VillainYour villain should be industrious and productive, just like the heroes.

Your villain should be committed to her or his cause, just like the heroes. Your villain should be convinced that she or he is right, and have reasonable justifications for her or his behavior.

Your villain should inspire others to follow the same cause, just like the heroes.

However…

Your villain should be willing to do anything to accomplish her or his goals. Murder, theft, bribery, kidnapping; all of it is defensible in pursuit of a goal. The villain may not relish taking those actions, but the villain must be willing to take those actions.

Categories: Role-playing | 1 Comment

Do you like isometric dungeon maps?

Would you have any interest in seeing more maps like this?

It’s a bad photo of a line drawing, so if I did this more often, I’d make it much cleaner (and I’d add a symbol pointing north).

I enjoyed drawing it, but I don’t know if anyone would find it useful. Please comment if you’d like me to draw more of them, a la Dyson Logos.

Isometric map

Categories: Maps | Leave a comment

Have you ever had a die break?

Check this out:

Broken die

Found it in my big bag of spare dice.

I like to think that the dice gods said, “Nope, rolled poorly too many times.”

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment