Other Than Gods

This post was inspired by a question I asked on Twitter. How do you explain clerics in D&D in a world with no gods? There were some excellent responses. I decided it was worth expounding on.

The cleric is one of the older ideas in Dungeons and Dragons. The idea of the cleric was originally a bit more like the priestly monster hunters from Hammer Horror films crossed with a crusader era European priests. The original cleric write-ups made almost no mention of individual gods. They were just nebulously holy in some manner and could cast spells as a result.

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Oath of the Grave Paladins

I have a long affection for gravediggers. I played a gravedigger in a larp for around a decade, and I have been a fan of them ever since. I have written D&D stuff around them before. I am also a fan of Death as being seen as a good thing. Too often we treat death like a villain and that is not a healthy way to look at things. I am not saying we should all go out and embrace our inner goth, but anyone who has cared for terminal patients or a large number of other medical condition can tell you that sometimes death is a mercy.

With that in mind, I give you the Grave Knights, those paladins who follow the Oath of the Grave.

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The many names of spells and how to change them.

In D&D, spells have names. This is based on some fiction and some legendary sources so it didn’t start with D&D. The notion of names having power is actually pretty old. The concept appears in ancient Egypt and Greece by various terms. By naming the spell, they describe its power.

 

Most of the spell names in D&D are relatively innocuous if descriptive of their effect. A Fireball spell creates a big ball of fire. Simple and easy. Then there are some spells that have little more story to them. They not only describe the effect, but carry the name of the wizard who created it.

 

This has been a part of D&D since the earliest days. It is evocative tells you something of the world. If you know that there is a Tenser’s Floating disk, then you know that Tenser is an important figure in the world your playing in. He made a spell that is important enough that you learned it without meeting him. You might have questions about this Tenser person? or Bigby? or Melf?

 

So, what do you do if your world has no Melf? No Bigby? Do you just leave them the same or do you change the names to reflect your world? This will depend on your world.

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5 Things Superhero RPG’s Should Have, in my own biased opinion

I have been thinking alot about Superhero RPG’s lately. I am a fan of them and I have been since the TSR Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game came out in the 80’s. I went on to run multiple games in multiple systems, but Champions certainly got most of my time. 

 

I love comics…let me restate that…I LOVE COMICS!

 

I read a whole bunch of comics. I have been reading them pretty much since I learned how to read. Most of them were superhero stories, so enjoying superhero RPG;s ties into that. I fell off playing the superhero RPG’s about a decade ago. Over time as the design sensibilities of RPG’s  moved on, but a lot of the superhero games did not follow those changes. There have been a couple of major games developed since I stopped running them, so maybe they caught up.

I recently started watching Calisto6 rpg streams. It is a superhero game set in a cyberpunk future, using the Cypher system, and involving the players from the Star Trek RPG stream, Shields of Tomorrow. They are doing a good job with the games and it has refreshed my desire to make a good superhero RPG of my own.

 

With that in mind, here are some design guidelines I would use and look for in a superhero RPG.

 

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The Way of the Grasping Hand: a Midgard “monastic” Tradition

I am writing this for use in the Midgard setting, but I should state upfront that this can be used for just about any setting. A grappling style Monk would fit in just about any setting that allows monks. I recently wrote a blog post about the weird misconceptions held about martial arts and how they shape their presentation in D&D. One of the reasons I wrote that was because I could see some specific archetypes for Monks in Midgard I wanted to make.

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Non East Asian Versions of Monks and Martial Arts

So, there is an idea out there that monks have no place in a western European inspired campaign setting.  Settings like Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk owe a lot to western European history, legends, and literature for their basis, and monks are not part of those traditions, or so the argument goes. This came to mind while looking at the Midgard setting and noticing they had many character options for the range of character classes, but not for monks. I asked about this and was directed to this blog post about monk weapons characteristics, which is awesome, but was also told there was not a lot of places for monks in Midgard to be from. That feels like something I can counter. Note: I love the Midgard setting and I am not offering criticism here.  I am writing this because I feel this is a common sentiment that maybe should be countered.

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Burning Orcs

Trinity_Test_Fireball_16ms

When I began writing a post apocalyptic fantasy setting, I knew a radiation or toxic corruption would be a recurring theme.  It is part and parcel in the genre. The Blight Elves were part of that, and so is today’s offering. There will be others.  Thing is, I am not personally afraid of all things nuclear.  I grew up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. This is where the material for the first atomic weapons came from. My grandfather was scientist at the labs, and I grew up understanding that nuclear was not necessarily a bad thing. Nuclear medicine was saving lives daily and nuclear power, while not yet perfected, was easier on the environment than coal burning plants.

That said, nuclear war is the thing that kept you up at nights back in the cold war. It was terrifying to think of a war where dying in a flash was probably the “good” option. This vision of apocalyptic war shaped the genre. The irradiated mutant is a trope that comes up often. With this in mind, I wrote this little variation on orcs.

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Rogue Magic: 5 Magic Items For Thieves

I like utility magic items. My favorite magic item, hands down, is the Immovable Rod. It practically begs you to think creatively about how to use it. The magic weapons are fine, and the powerful artifacts are great macguffins for your story, but utility style wondrous items are often great ways to relay magic without having to change a power level. It is also provides some flavor to a character and how they interact with challenges. Having a few clever toys can be as much of a statement as a Holy Avenger.

 

I am also fond of rogues and other thieving ne’er-do-wells. You might have figured this out in by all my posts about thieves guilds. They are very pragmatic in their approaches to problems. A thief who murders every problem doesn’t actually last long. Having useful tools to avoid that is ideal.

 

I decided to combine these two loves, so here are a few roguish magic items.

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