In the language of the nomadic desert clans Jhalan Umeed translates as “false hope.” The creature earned this name by the manner in which it feeds on prey. When seen in full the Jhalan Umeed resembles a gargantuan flat skate 30ft long from head to tail. The underside of its head is distinguished by a 10 ft. wide concave depression where the mouth should be and four large proboscises that resemble desert palms. Few travelers witness the creature in full though. The Jhalan Umeed buries its long body upside down in the sand leaving only its proboscis and head depression exposed. Glands in the head excrete a powerful neurotoxin that fills the depression. To its unsuspecting prey the Jhalan Umeed appears to be a welcome oasis in the vast sea of desert. Targets that drink from the “pool” are paralyzed. Once the creature feels movement stop it uses one of its proboscis to grab the victim. Powerful muscles in the proboscis swallow the prey, crushing bones and armor, allowing the Jhalan Umeed to slowly drain the bodily fluids from the body. The Jhalan Umeed will have a body in 1d4-1 of its proboscises at any given time. Once the bodies are completely drained the creature expels the remains and buries them nearby. Continue reading Desert Bestiary Part 2: Jhalan Umeed
The visit from a camel spider last night inspired the idea of the Giant Camel Spider for a D&D monster, but it also got me thinking about several other new desert monsters that could be created. My brain exploded with ideas for adapting monsters from the 5e Monster Manual for challenging campaigns in a harsh, desert setting. First up, as promised, is the the Giant Camel Spider.
The way that ability scores are rolled in D&D has always seemed a little strange to me. For a normal character with no bonuses the scores rolled with D6 should range from 3 to 18. This puts the mid point at a 10 which makes sense. An ability score of 10 or 11 provides no bonuses and carries no penalties. It’s average. The issue that I have is the scores that fall in the below average range. Continue reading Variant Method For Rolling Ability Scores
We previously covered Chapter III and Chapter VI of Sun Tzu’s classic military treatise The Art of War. That means it must be time for Chapter X which covers terrain. Don’t try to figure out my system. Most DMs take terrain into consideration when running an RPG campaign, but we need to consider it as more than a tool for establishing the story setting. Terrain can also be turned into a weapon when running combat. Continue reading Sun Tzu’s Art of RPG Combat: Terrain
Welcome to the second installment in our RPG combat analysis of Sun Tzu’s military treatise The Art of War. In the first post we discussed Chapter III, Attack By Strategem. This post will take a look at Chapter VI, Weak Points and Strong. This chapter advises generals how to exploit the weakness of an enemy and how to use tactics to turn strengths into weaknesses. This second part is especially useful when running monster combat since the party usually has a strength advantage. Continue reading Sun Tzu’s Art of RPG Combat: Weak Points and Strong
When I was in High School I was in a group that played D&D on a regular basis. Aside from me there was Mike who had actually introduced me to roleplaying and our friend Brett. Mike’s younger brother Pete rounded out the group most sessions. We were pretty big on 2nd Edition AD&D back then (I still am because that edition is the shit! THAC0!!) and were starting to get into some of the other worlds like Ravenloft and Spelljammer. Mike and I were so into Spelljammer that we had gone through and created a custom smuggling ship and a crew of motley pirates to play. It was Firefly but on a wooden ship and several years before Firefly came out. We had built them mid-level to play some of the higher level Spelljammer modules and picked from races not traditionally used as PCs such as the Thri Kreen. They were a bad ass crew built to kick ass, but before they got a chance to star in their own adventures they were needed to break up a fight. Continue reading The Time I Fought Myself
One thing that really bothers me are when DMs who don’t put any effort into running their combat encounters. They fill their campaigns with monsters that act more like vending machines for XP and treasure than real opponents. Intelligent monsters rush headlong into combat against the group without any hint of a combat strategy. This is unrealistic and it makes for boring combat. DMs don’t need to be retired generals in order to run great combat, but learning some military strategy can really benefit them. To this end I want to look at one of the most well-known texts of military strategy, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, and highlight the lessons that can be applied to RPG combat. Continue reading Sun Tzu’s Art of RPG Combat: Attack By Stratagem
On a bookshelf somewhere in your house, tucked in between a dog-eared copy of an old Player’s Handbook and a copy of the Unearthed Arcana is a binder. It may be a simple cardstock pocket binder or it could be a fancy Trapper Keeper, but their purpose is always the same. They are a retirement home for old characters. From the first roll of a D6 during character creation we invest our time and love into these imaginary heroes. We guide them through epic adventures against impossible odds, but, like all things, their journeys eventually come to an end. It’s a sad inevitability for an RPG PC. They all fall victim to reaching max level or a player’s desire to run a new character. But, these characters don’t have to be put to pasture. They can still serve a valuable role in ongoing quests for glories . . . as NPCs. Continue reading Don’t File Away Those Old Characters Just Yet
One-Shot Adventures provide adventuring hooks for stand-alone adventures that can be ran through in one or two gaming sessions or inserted into existing campaigns for a change of pace.
In most of the groups that I have run games for the players are very good at seeking out and destroying monsters. It is very satisfying for them to imagine their characters standing over the crumpled bodies of various creatures, wiping the blood from their weapons and hoping for treasure. I honestly have no issue running these types of combat encounters, but sometimes I like to give players a challenge that can’t be solved with murder. What if they were required to actually capture a creature instead of destroying it? Continue reading One-Shot Adventure: Capture A Dragon!
Let me tell you a story about a game from about a decade ago. A group of friends were playing 2nd Edition AD&D and I was serving as the DM. During the course of the campaign, one of the players received a Deck of Many Things. I’m not a huge fan of the Deck of Many Things while I’m DMing. In my experience it has a tendency to completely grind the game to a halt since the players want to immediately draw from it. This is exactly what happened in this case, but it was already late in the session so we decided to draw from the deck and then wrap things up.
Continue reading Should a DM Present Players With Impossible Situations?