3.14 Ways To Turn Into Horror.

This started out as a story about a Geometry teacher caught in a strange situation. Unfortunately, my blog software has gone slightly haywire. Hopefully we’ll finish this later.

A Des Moines Remote Viewing Society Story for Monster of the Week.

It was Tom’s turn to sit with Brenda. The ideal way to conduct a remote viewing for the DsM RVS was to have a Monitor sit with the Viewer and sketch/record the information given. Brenda was usually the Viewer. Dan was her preferred Monitor, but on this occasion he was busy with a stakeout.

Tom began his usual questions. Brenda was provided with her “random” coordinates which always seemed to be local and usually led to trouble. Tom had already learned to sometimes dread these sessions because of the stress and strain on Brenda. She was an amazing psychic and pro Remote Viewer, but it left her prone to all kinds of damage to her mental and physical health.

As the viewing went on, Tom wrote, drew, and recorded everything Brenda would give him. This particular target was a classroom, probably in an area high school, possibly a math teacher of some sort. There was writing all over the dry erase board in the room. At first it looked like regular geometry. Then more arcane symbols and imagery came up.

Brenda jerked and fell out of her chair. For the first minute she was on the floor Tom was debating about calling an ambulance yet again. He was unable to tell if she was in cardiac arrest, having a seizure, or just violently fighting to wake up. Whatever she last saw was pretty intense. The last thing he recorded was a mirror, but the face in it was… and that’s when she fell out of trance.

Brenda coughed, sputtered, and gasped as if being saved from drowning. She looked all around the office bewildered. Tom found her glasses and handed them to her. She regained enough composure to pull herself back into her wheelchair. All she could manage to blurt out was, “Salt circle. Now.”

Tom knew a salt circle was protection from whatever might have followed Brenda home.

Tom immediately grabbed the vials of pure salt they kept on hand for viewing days. This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. There had been too many recorded incidents of other remote viewers being followed home. Brenda had a particularly ugly track record of things seeing her and/or following her home. Tom encircled the wheelchair in salt, being careful not to step into the line or disturb it.

“Talk to me Bren.” he said. “What’s going on?”
“Co-cover the monitors and the mirrors, you wingnut,” Brenda stammered.

The fact that she had used one of her terms of endearment for Tom and Dan meant she was at least still partially there. Tom threw his coat over his laptop. Darting over to the wall mirror, he grabbed a curtain to pull over it. Then he found Brenda’s favorite lap blanket to toss over the monitor bank on the desk.

He sat down with his clipboard of remote viewing notes. “Okay, what’s going on?” he asked.
“Pie,” was all she could manage to say in that moment.
“Ha-ha. Okay, Bren. What flavor?” he inquired.
“3.14159265359” she rattled off. “The symbol is the gateway. Aw crud.”

Tom scribbled down the number and then drew the symbol for Pi. It didn’t seem too odd given they had been viewing what was likely a Geometry teacher. Tom glanced back at his notes. Pi had come up already along with the Fibonacci Sequence. The alchemical symbols and what sounded like Greek were the confusing parts. What would a Geometry teacher be doing with figures like that?

*Editor’s Note: Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am unable to finish this entry at this time. I’m having multiple crashes and failures to save for whatever reason. I’ll come back to this at a later date. Sorry, family.

Thank you for stopping by. Hopefully this is a temporary issue. Have a great week.

Contemplating Percentages.

Talking about random number generation from 1-100. There are multiple ways to achieve the same results. Some are easier to use than others.

Let’s discuss some different ways dice can emulate a span of 1-100 as it comes up in RolePlaying Games.

Different games have different die types and rolling conventions, but it all still comes down to a span of numbers 0-100. We’ve had various physical dice through the years, but they all do basically the same thing.

In the stone ages of miniatures wargaming, in the before time- 1970, when dinosaurs walked the Earth and people listened to disco music, we had twenty sided dice numbered 0-9 twice. First roll is first digit. Second roll is second digit. Good to go, right?

Then came our friend in dice, the d10. Roll it twice. Once for the first digit, second time for the second digit. Done. Easy mode.

My gaming group for Marvel Superheroes RPG used to roll two dice and call the color of the first digit. I had a player (Travis) who liked to change up the color of the first digit die. This led to way more hits than misses.

Then came the argument over whether or not the result of 00 + 0 was to be read as 0 or 100. One is usually a catastrophic hit or a horrid miss depending on the system. Don’t look it up on the Internet. We can’t decide on there, either. I leave it to the individual GM to decide. Depending on the game we either roll between 1 and 100 or 0-99. Either way, game on.

Another way a wise friend once explained it, is EVERY d20 based game functions on percentages. 1d20 x 5 = a span between 5 and 100. Oh looky, percentages.

That’s a 60. I called Yellow first.

Then, someone in the glorious 1980s made a miracle die- the d00, or double-digit ten sider. I love these dice for percentages. No more arguments over which die went first. The d00 always determines the first digit. Easy.

The mighty Zocchihedron!

There’s one die I haven’t mentioned. Everyone’s favorite golf ball, the Zocchihedron, an actual 100 sided die. One roll and done.

Through years of working in the game industry, I’ve also seen d50s and d100s that look like gigantic ten sided dice. The only downer is many of these dice are hard to read. (Sorry, no pics on these as I don’t own any.)

There are also digital 00-99 counters that offer up a new number at the push of a button. I haven’t seen any lately, but I know they’re out there. I hear they’re cool. Obviously we all have dice phone apps and office applications capable of generating random percentages, but what fun is that?

We could potentially oversimplify the whole process and roll 1d10 x 10 or the d00 by itself. We’re just omitting that pesky second digit. Oh well. All good, yes?

Okay, cool math rocks, but why are we here?

I’m still working on my own TTRPG engine that is theoretically going to cover Fantasy, Cyberpunk, AND Mecha Starship Sci Fi. I cut my teeth on Cyberpunk 2020, Mekton Z, Rifts, and Robotech back in the early days. Of course I also ran a lot of Marvel Superheroes and AD&D Basic-2E AD&D. I’ve called for my share of percentage rolls. I’ve seen the mighty d20 at the best and worst of moments.

It’s all about the manipulation of probability. A +1 to a d20 roll is the same as 5% A +1 to a d00 roll (both 1d00 + 1d10) is a drop in the bucket at a paltry 1%. However, a +1 to a 1d10 roll gets you a 10% bonus, and that’s pretty good.

I want a system where a +1 bonus really means something again. I’ve noticed a tendency for a lot of d20 based games to hand +1 bonuses out like parade candy. What I intend to do instead is have a 1d10 based system where skill really counts. So the base roll in my system will be 1d10 + Attribute OR Skill level vs target number. The higher the target, the tougher the challenge is to beat.

That’s how skills and combat will likely work. I’m also bringing back my beloved AD&D 2E initiative system since it ran on a 1d10 roll with bonuses/penalties. Of course, there will still be times when the d00 is rolled. We’ll also discuss warping of percentages by using dice cleanly indivisible into 100. (In other words, there is no way to get a d6 or a d8 to emulated a 1-100 chance without crunching some more serious math.

Thanks for being here. In the next article from this series, we’ll talk about dice pools and advantage/disadvantage concepts. We’ll also discuss the probability curve of rolling two or more dice together. I appreciate you. Have a wonderful day.

Random Encounter: The Recovery.

“Beep beep-beep bee-be-beep bee-beebeep. Beep. Beep. Beep.”

An encounter for almost any D20 Fantasy TTRPG.

This encounter works ideally where technology/science fiction elements are available. It can be played as humorously or seriously as the GM desires. This is not intended to be a combat encounter, but it is possible OO-P5 has a combat mode for when it logically deems hostility is necessary.

1. The find.

The group is mid travel when they find a large, round, silk sheet with strings attached to it. There is a hole in the center of the sheet as well that would seemingly serve no logical purpose as a bed sheet. The ropes all seem to be attached to a metal framed backpack suitable for a medium creature. It’s almost as if the sheet fell from the sky.

Robot Pilot from “Hare Lift” Bugs Bunny 1952. From Warner Brothers Animation.
2. Further down off the trail.

A short while later, assuming the group is paying attention, they find a crater approximately 5′ in diameter. At the bottom of the crater is a dark gray, rectangular, metal box. There are no footprints around the crater and there’s no sign of local wildlife. It’s almost if the box was slammed into the ground by a greater force.

The box is very heavy. There are etchings on the box along with 00-P5 painted in black on one side. On the opposite side is a white button that seems to have survived the fall undamaged.

When the button is depressed, the box begins to shake a big. a port opens on top. A foot long metal rod with a small glass globe appears. “Bee=Beep Beep Beep.” is heard.

The globe lights up with each beep. The rod points the globe around at each party member as if looking them over before standing straight once more. “Bee-Beep Beep?” is heard.

Further investigation of the box.

If the group gives the strange “inhabitant of the box” no logical reason to fear them, its arms and legs will eventually protrude from its body and it will stand up. To the group it may seem like a strange golem or automaton. They will eventually be able to translate the robot’s beeping into a sort of rudimentary language. The party has gained a lifelong friend and ally or an oddity to be sold at the first opportunity.

While OO-P5 doesn’t seem terribly cold and lifeless, its logic processors can only handle so much. Emotions might be a bit too much. The real challenge of the initial encounter is to coax 00-P5 into trusting the group and coming all the way out of its box. Damage to its processing unit has left it unable to process its current whereabouts or origins.

Things the robot understands:

  • Self preservation. (Parachuting from a crashing spacecraft, for example.)
  • Preservation of close “friends.”
  • How to assist humanoids without violating the first two principles.
  • Threats to itself and friends.
  • When communication is important to it.
  • Basic machine learning. How to fire a crossbow. How to fix a cart. How to drive a cart. How to play simple games.
  • What its physical and mental limitations are.
  • How to use the rudimentary tools it is equipped with in order to repair itself.
  • Understands most languages, just can’t record or speak back due to mechanical limitations.
  • Small, furry, cute, cuddly, and innocent things are friends.

Things 00-P5 does not understand:

  • Animal behaviors.
  • Medicine.
  • Magic. (Completely freaks it out.)
  • Complex human emotions.
  • Humanoid interactions.
  • Why beings treat each other the way they do.
  • How to speak anything other than “Beep.”
  • How it got here.
  • Religion, philosophy, psychology, or sociology.

00-P5 does not have any sort of flight recorder or memory technology to explain where it came from. 00-P5’s quantum particle battery will last for approximately 99 more years unless someone tampers with it. The robot is not armed, but will seem to understand how to operate a crossbow or ballista instinctively. Its sensor dome only extends 120′ in all directions and much farther when plugged into a starship sensor system.

It will do whatever it deems logically necessary or whatever its close friends tell it to do as long as it or no one else will get hurt as a result. It’s about as intimidating as a pair of bunny slippers in combat, appearance aside. It will always try to assist wherever possible by lifting, carrying or repairing things. 00-P5 can be used as a sentry in a pinch, although mileage may very when it comes to some humanoids and small, furry, innocent animals.

00-P5: Init +0; Atk +3 Fist melee (1d6); AC 14; HD 7d6 (36) ; MV 25’; Act 1d20; SP immune to mind control, regular heat and cold temperatures, eating, drinking, sleeping and breathing; SV Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +0; Approximate Str: 12. Int: 10. Equipped gear: Flashlight (lightbulb protrudes from chest.) Basic auditory, Infrared, UV, and visual sensors. Starship piloting and gunnery programming suites. Basic tools (Claw hammer, screwdrivers, knife, scissors, pliers, wirecutter, electrical tape.) Starship/computer interface ports. It also understands how to pack and use a parachute.

Additional uses: 00-P5 could also be a refugee robot in any given post apocalyptic or science fiction campaign. It will most likely appear as a relic from a long-past era or civilization.

There is a much longer backstory I will share about this robot at a later date. Have fun with it if you decide to run the encounter. Thanks for stopping by.

Wizards of the Coast Content Creator Summit.

I’m sure a speak for a large crowd of gamers who didn’t need an all-expenses-paid trip to my living room to figure it out. We don’t need WotC or their take on D&D any more. I’ve pretty much given up on Wizards of the Coast. They can go rot with whatever official titles come next. There are very few things they will ever do or say to win my trust back.

Please allow me to better clarify my position on this.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with WotC calling a Creator Summit. There’s no grudge or beef with the attendees of said event. Actually, I’m wicked jealous, to be honest. But, good for them. I’ve made it a point since starting this site to praise the success of others as long as no harm was done.

I admire a lot of folx in the YouTube arena. I could list probably twenty people who I respect and admire greatly. I’m not going to single anyone out, however.

I admire a lot of people, but I don’t always agree with them.

Someone pointed out on Twitter that a lot of the “Content Creators” being invited to the summit don’t actually write much of anything, with a few exceptions. I see a lot of endorsements and sponsors on the channels of various Content Creators. Again, all good.

They all work very hard at what they do. I’m not sure how “Influencer” became sort of a negative term, but it describes what they do so much better. YouTube videos, social media posts, liaising with various other writers, creators and corporate types are just part of their daily agenda. Anyone who has ever edited a YouTube video can probably tell you it’s not as easy as it sounds.

So, yes. Great for the people going to get wined and dined by Wizards of the Coast. Is it the best approach by WotC? That remains to be seen. Make no mistake, this is a (smart) Public Relations move. WotC isn’t paying for good previews/reviews. However, I kinda suspect that’s what the corporate overlords are expecting out of all this.

Here comes one of my theories.

What if, maybe, just possibly, this has been planned all along? It’s almost Machiavellian in its conception. IF/F the OGL debacle was manufactured, then some of the subsequent PR maneuvering would be intended to build more support for the new video game, err…Virtual TableTop using the Unreal Engine. (Just like Fortnite, *cough.*) Even if the OGL disaster hadn’t occurred, my educated guess is this was already in the works.

Wizards’ various teams have been plotting and scheming. Sometimes Team A has no idea (supposedly) what Team B is doing. The Hasbro overlords’ teams sometimes do things the WotC teams have no idea are happening. It’s all about the franchise, the lifestyle brand, these days.

Content? Not in the gaming sense of the word. Mark my words- what goes into the books is tertiary or even irrelevant to selling the brand. Advertising, promotion, and selling merchandise are super important to WotC. Books? Pfft! “Do we sell those?” they ask. They need “Content Creators” to promote the brand. They don’t need actual game content.

Remember, One D&D was already pretty much in the bag before they even announced it. WotC’s focus has nothing to do with the game itself at this point. They’re entire effort is going into marketing, merchandising, and virtual space. Screw the game. They just want money because they own the name and they have a dim view of the fans.

Someone highly respected by the community mentioned “gatekeeping.”

In my heart of hearts, I almost wish Linda Codega was wrong about gatekeeping, but I know they’re right. That snarky comment Kyle Brink made about “old white guys (like him) can’t flee the hobby fast enough” might be the new standard in gatekeeping for D&D. The new “cool kids” are turning away the section of the fanbase that launched the entire TTRPG industry.

As others have commented, WotC “left us” the SRD 5.1 and the OGL. WotC doesn’t see editions. They see dollar signs. All of us old codgers and Grognards can play the older editions of the game or pretty much do anything we want in the old sandbox. The new faces of D&D are coming, and chances are there won’t be one old white guy with a bald head and a long beard anywhere among them.

Hasbro/WotC want tons of sales of merchandise, action figures, D&D lamps and gimmicky transformable d20s. They’re banking on the Honor Among Thieves sales and views to propel D&D into the future much the same way Star Wars took off back in the 1970s. Getting a bunch of YouTubers onboard with the new VTT and kicking all of the old white guys to the curb are just another phase of the marketing plan.

The way I see it…

We’re headed into a new era. This new era will be pretty much free of official WotC publications. There plenty of companies out there in the #TTRPGIndustry who will take our money. If WotC wants to blow a pile of money on bringing a bunch of YouTubers in to try to coax more people back over to One D&D, and the video game masquerading as a VTT, good for them.

The brain trust at Hasbro/WotC has forgotten the hundreds of YouTubers they didn’t invite. The old guys like Erik Tenkar and The Dungeon Delver probably never make the list. Why? WotC doesn’t want honest opinions. They want public relations.

WotC wants YouTubers to go on the air and sing the praises of One D&D and the shiny new VTT. They want the microtransactions that work so well for video game companies. They weren’t lying when they said they want to monetize the players. Remember, we’re dealing with WotC execs that think D&D is a video game and nothing more.

Again, there’s really nothing terribly wrong about what WotC is doing. Yeah, they want to make money. I think other TTRPG fans and I would rather they went about things differently, but we’re not their crowd any more.

I can name dozens of other fantasy TTRPGs that can easily be mistaken for D&D. These other titles are eventually going to completely replace D&D. Let WotC do whatever the heck they want to do. Good luck with One D&D.

I’m sure a speak for a large crowd of gamers who didn’t need an all-expenses-paid trip to my living room to figure it out. We don’t need WotC or their take on D&D any more. I’ve pretty much given up on Wizards of the Coast. They can go rot with whatever official titles come next. There are very few things they will ever do or say to win my trust back.

Update: As of March 10, I have not received any word from Wizards of the Coast on the best way to contact them. Obviously they want the fans’ opinions so badly that there’s no way to contact them. I call bullsh🦆t on their whole operation at this point. I really get the impression no one in those offices wants to be my friend.

Thanks for reading this far. You rock. I appreciate you. I like having online friends. Keep on gaming your way.

Compilation of Interviews, Streams, & Podcasts.

Sean Reynolds is a well established game designer. Please go check out his page.

Please go check out Sean Reynolds’ page. He’s a great guy. I admire his work.

I’ve put together a list of links to interviews and streams I’ve appeared on. This doesn’t include the things I’ve posted on my (long-neglected) YouTube channel. Ideally I’ll get these all in chronological order. I’ll add more as I find them! 1997 SciFi Channel documentary Masters of Fantasy about TSR (I briefly appear at 11:11) […]

Compilation of Interviews, Streams, & Podcasts

Different Random d12 Tables.

Two very random tables.

No context. Just roll 1d12:

  1. White
  2. Infrared
  3. Red
  4. Orange
  5. Yellow
  6. Green
  7. Blue
  8. Indigo
  9. Violet
  10. Ultraviolet
  11. Black
  12. Eyeball Sucking Void.
Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com

Random Destinations. Roll 1d12

  1. Albuquerque
  2. Berlin
  3. Cucamonga
  4. Dublin
  5. Effingham
  6. Farlin
  7. Guangzhou
  8. Hell.
  9. Istanbul
  10. Jefferson
  11. Kilimanjaro
  12. La-La Land.

Thanks for stopping by. I had more planned than this. What I didn’t plan on was two kids sick and a third with a bumper crop of friggin head lice. (*EUWWW!) I appreciate you being here. More betterer tomorrow me hopes… <thud!>

Wizards of the Coast Invites Creators.

The OGL Scandal of 2023 continues as Bob World Builder gets an email invitation to the first ever Content Creator Summit; a gathering of elite, cherry-picked YouTubers who talk about D&D. They get to hang out at WotC HQ, meet with the team, and eat on the company’s dime. Woot! Who wouldn’t want to go?

On March 8th, Bob World Builder received an invitation to the first ever “Content Creator Summit.”

Here’s Bob’s video in case you are wondering.

I gotta say, I’m pretty jealous. I mean, who doesn’t love to be wined and dined by a large corporation? Who wouldn’t want to go and hobnob with the D&D creative staff and/or the “Creator Relations Team” as they’re now calling it? Bob is right. The chance is too awesome to pass up.

I’m sure Bob won’t be the only one. Ginny Di is no stranger to WotC HQ. I wouldn’t be surprised if the other Kyle Brink interviewers get to go. I suspect Guy from How to Be a Great GM will be there given he’s basically on WotC’s payroll already. There will probably be a few other guests we don’t know about yet. Good for them, eh?

If WotC truly wants to get to know the whole community, they’re still not trying hard enough.

Obviously I’m just a guy with a blog. I have a small, but loveable number of readers. (*I love you all.) I’m pretty sure if Wizards decided they wanted to fly me out to Washington where I’ve always wanted to visit, put me up in a nice hotel, fed me, and let me hang out? I wouldn’t have to think twice. My suitcase is already packed. I’d even start a YouTube channel just for them.

We all know it’s not likely to happen. It’s kind of a shame they’re only limiting themselves to YouTubers so far. Does WotC know their fanbase extends beyond YouTube and Twitter? Obviously they never read my blog. (Prove me wrong. I DARE you!) In fact, my guess is they ignore the blogosphere and the hundreds of articles written about them the same way they pretty much ignore conventions.

If they were doing everything right, the Creator Summit would be completely superfluous and unnecessary.

I’ll echo the sentiment of a few others. If WotC was still sending a team to conventions and mingling with us peasants, they wouldn’t have to wonder what the TTRPG community thinks of them and some of their nonsense. People are dreadfully honest at conventions sometimes. WotC might actually *gasp* hear something “negative” about what they’re doing. (I think I just heard half of Kyle Brink’s team pee their pants in fright just now.)

Honestly, I don’t handle criticism well, either. I get it. For a dude with kind of a big ego, I really am pretty fragile and sensitive when it comes to criticism. Gonna have that chat with my therapist later again today. So I get it that WotC doesn’t want to hear the critiques of thousands of fans.

On the other hand, WotC is a large, faceless, unfeeling corporate entity under the thumb of an even larger, scummier corporation. We don’t really see much of a human face on anything they do despite the dozens of names in the credits. They’re only as good as the McPropaganda Kyle Brink is told to spew by the PR people. (Yeah, someone has to pick on Kyle a little. Mercer can tell you I’m a big softie, though. LOL!)

WotC can handle a bad review. They aren’t going to go belly up if a sourcebook or adventure flops. (All three core books selling like it was 4E all over again might be bad?) It’s like WotC has no concept of what it was like when they were starting out. This new team of leaders seems pretty daft when it comes to the history of their own products, much less the history of the hobby. Tis truly sad.

I’d run D&D in a castle if WotC asked.

I’d contribute to their books. Heck, if they want to send me a check, I’ll never speak about them again if that’s what they wanted. And mind you, I’m the guy that completely holds contempt and loathing for large corporations. I guess I can dream. I’ve said many times how cool it would be to actually work on official D&D content. Or any game, really.

Seriously. I want to be a game designer when I grow up. Please, pay me to write cool stuff for your game. Any roleplaying game, really. No joking. I’d love to have paid projects, convention visits, give interviews, write magazine articles, and so on. They’d probably have to tranquilize me and drag me out of the office at night. Security would have to boot me out of the hotel at the end of conventions.

Isn’t that sort of the definition of “dedicated fan?” Isn’t that sorta what being a content creator for D&D is all about? Honestly I haven’t published anything on DMsGuild or DriveThruRPG yet. In fact I’m not printed anywhere yet. I’m too fussy about my own work and there are attachment issues. (Talking to therapist about OCD and attachment disorder. 😅) It’s going to happen someday, though.

Am I any less dedicated? No. Am I any less of a content creator? No. Trust me, my filing cabinets, folders, and Word files attest to my content creation efforts.

WotC doesn’t get it. There are thousands, maybe over a million fans out there that actually do appreciate them and want to see them do well. We wouldn’t be critical of their efforts if we didn’t care and just wanted them to fail. WotC execs and designers would know that if they’d come down out of their corporate tower and mingled with non-corporate people for a change. But D&D Executive Producer Kyle Brink says he actually plays the game, so they must have some sort of clue what they’re doing. Right?

I’m going to send WotC an email.

Will it get anywhere or be seen by anyone before it gets deleted? Not holding my breath, but I’ll keep you posted. I want Wizards of the Coast to understand that they need to speak with more than just a cherry-picked cadre of YouTubers who are going to probably going to tell them what they want to hear. It’s readily apparent there are plenty of people in the corporate office who believe the WotC narrative. How about inviting some truly objective non-YouTube fans?

Where’s the rest of the “community,” WotC? Legit question. I want to know. Who else has Kyle Brink spoken to outside of YouTube? Anybody?

I promise I’ll be nice. I have gone this whole article without saying one four/five letter word or calling anyone specific by my nicknames for them. It’s been a challenge, but I made it.

Wish me luck. Thanks for stopping by. More on this situation as it develops.

Rough Day. Brief Personal Share.

Fuzzy little bunnies. It was that sort of a day yesterday. I’m pretty wiped out at the moment. Just stopping to say “Hi” to everyone. Hope your day is going well.

My SSDI Hearing was yesterday.

(Social Security Disability Income for those outside of the U.S.) It took a lot out of me mentally and physically. I spent most of the day prior to said hearing freaking out. I spent most of the time afterward fanning it around to get my kids together for East High Family Night and the orchestra concert that followed.

Our oldest child played the violin quite well. We’re all very proud of them. It was a wonderful concert all around. My 13 year old is going to play the bass next year as well as the saxophone for band. I have no idea where the kids get all their talent. Must be their Mother, because I was a choir kid.

I didn’t realize exactly how much pain, anxiety, depression, and fatigue play a role in my life until I was trying to explain it all to a judge. It also gives me a new appreciation for money however it’s earned. I also have lots of love for all of you who have far more severe and profound conditions than I do. It’s never easy.

Needless to say I’m quite tired as I write this. At least I’m writing in coherent sentences unlike the other night. (*Still sorry about that one, btw.) I refuse to let my publishing streak go down for anything, though. (Lol?)

Please be kind to one another. Every day is full of new experiences. Every experience provides a new opportunity for joy and learning. We’re all on this planet together.

Thanks for stopping by. Lots of fun stuff on the agenda this month. I appreciate you.

Mutated Monsters Review

The writers of Mutated Monsters went all out when it comes to creepy in this book. The art is amazing and just adds to the feeling of dread players will have when dealing with some of these creatures. It was like the writers took an average 5E monster and asked, “What kind of creature can we merge this with to make it nightmare fuel?”

5E Compatible Sourcebook from Dice Dungeons.

Wayyy back in 2021 when I still had gainful employment, I backed a book from Dice Dungeons called Mutated Monsters. Link to the Kickstarter here. I have not seen this book available commercially yet outside of Kickstarter and DriveThruRPG.

Link to the book on DriveThruRPG HERE.

It took Dice Dungeons a while to get these books out to the backers. The wait was totally worth it and we did get the pdfs well ahead of the printed material. I suspect a lot of the printing and shipping delays were a mish-mash of Covid, cargo ships stuck sideways, shortages, etc. They did the best they could getting it out to us.

Nightmare fuel to make your 5E players shudder.

The writers of Mutated Monsters went all out when it comes to creepy in this book. The art is amazing and just adds to the feeling of dread players will have when dealing with some of these creatures. It was like the writers took an average 5E monster and asked, “What kind of creature can we merge this with to make it nightmare fuel?”

I was excited about this from some of the social media ads that Digital Dice ran prior to the Kickstarter. The mutated rat shown was enough to convince me to add this to my already large collection of 5E monster books. If a regular rat was made this terrifying, imagine what they could do to a T Rex or a Kraken? <shudder>

A few highlights.

This is a list of the things that stood out to me, but there is much more worth digging into on these pages.

  • Animated Topiary. I was overjoyed to see this monster return to 5E because it was one of my favorites from an old 3E supplement.
  • Annhilator Worm. It’s a Purple Worm, only made more Kaiju and harder to kill. This is one most adventurers are going to be able to just hack down. If low or mid level characters see one, their best bet really is to run away. The artwork alone is intimidating on top of the lore. The stat block almost seems superfluous.
  • Arachin. <shudder> Spider + animal, humanoid or other monster. Yeesh. I mean, awesome for a dungeon I’m working on, but definitely creepy.
  • Behir Mastermind. Let’s take something that was fearsome on it’s own and give it an oversized brain, some innate spells that resemble psionics on top of its usual Behir abilities. Frightening at any level. The art for this monster stands out.
  • Bulette variants. Amazing artwork. Absolutely devastating to run into either one. If properly combined with terrain or other monsters, either of these variations could spell doom for many adventurers. Why the wasp? (Cries for the PCs.)
  • Cockatrice of the Burning Sands. Thinly veiled Dark Sun reference? Maybe? Cool creature nonetheless. Beware ye caravans of the desert sands for ye may not return. Really would work in Athas.
  • Cricket Panther. Terrifying and strange. Definitely not something to underestimate. Fabulous art on this one.
  • Dragon, Mechanical. As the name suggests, a clockwork not to be underestimated.
  • Dragon, Vampiric. A writer after my own heart created this. I ran something similar in a 3.5E dungeon once. Ah, fond memories and now there’s a 5E version that can maybe get the job done.
  • Iron Aboleth. They took one of the most intimidating aquatic monsters (with psionics) and made it a huge construct. Because it wasn’t hard enough to kill before?
  • Naga, Scorpion. I gotta find me a way to work one of these things into a dungeon strictly for the intimidation value. Spells + multiattack + poison (OMG the poison…) + Lair actions = crazy dangerous.
  • Nature Guardian. Serious Princess Mononoke vibes on this one.
  • Owlbear, Fire Breathing. Hats off to whomever came up with this one. It rocks.
  • Remorhaz, Crystal. Another one of my absolutely favorite creatures made more deadly and far harder to kill. Oh, and more dangerous in its home environment than ever before. Great art all throughout the book. The picture for the Crystal Remorhaz is excellent.
  • Star Kraken. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water after seeing the Shipwreck Whale, there’s this Chaotic Evil CR 25 Titan. I can scarcely describe the amounts of damage this thing is capable of doing. Truly frightening.
  • Starved Lich. Because the well-fed kind weren’t undead enough? Interesting concept for many a DM’s favorite monster. It’s a soul vampire on top of all of the undead and spellcasting a lich would normally have.
  • Troll, Translucent. They turn invisible. They play pranks. Plus troll.
  • Turtle Shark. This book excels at giving me reasons to never put one of my own characters on a boat ever again. Megalodon with a shell. Abandoning ship is just like throwing fish food in the water for it.
  • Ventriloquist Snake. This particular danger noodle is capable of ruining an entire day’s travel for a group if encountered on the road.
  • Xorn, Flytrap. At least they’re not super aggressive. They lure unsuspecting adventurers in with the promise of a shiny jewel then slurp them down like a Venus Flytrap with a house fly.

These are just a smattering of the ones that stood out to me as a DM and a monster collector. I really have to say how much I really love the art for this book. It truly makes the creatures in this book come to life.

Another sweet, sweet feature of Mutated Monsters is the “Additional Loot” on many of the monsters. Look. You can make a +1 dagger out of this creature’s horn. You can use this creature’s scales for a Potion of Invisibility, etc. It’s so cool that they took the time out to put these little tidbits in the book. I wish Wizards of the Coast, with their overpaid writing team, would learn to do the same. But, hey, at least they let the indie creators do all the fun stuff.

It’s not just cool creatures.

There are some pretty epic lairs in this book, too. We like to talk about Lair Actions in D&D, but how often do we get cool lairs to go with them. This is enhanced further by each lair having regional effects and additional actions available to the lair’s owner or denizens. My favorite is the Demon’s Castle. It’s pretty much certain doom for adventurers before the proper dungeon is even built.

The Alterkin and new subclasses.

The Alterkin are shapeshifters of sorts and offer the only new Ancestry available to the players. There are also new subclasses for the Barbarian, Bard, Monk, and Ranger. My only criticism here is I wish there had been more options for this section. There is a lot of room for development of Clerics, Fighters, Paladins, and Warlocks. It felt like the creators ran out of time or energy in this section.

New mounts and new deities.

There are several mount possibilities throughout the book and toward the end there is a new taming system and more mounts. What character wouldn’t want to bond with a Sabertooth Rhino? Clockwork Elephant would be a pretty shiny cool mount if a character were to harness one.

The Gods of Mutation section is well crafted. I think it might take some work on the part of the DM to fit them into a preexisting pantheon such as Forgotten Realms. But if the DM is going to use some of the more profoundly frightening creatures in this book, why not have a god or demigod to go with them?

Wrapping up.

I’m happy and grateful to have backed this Kickstarter. The book is a good investment for game systems beyond 5E. I would recommend it for Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics as well as Pathfinder. It’s also easily adapted to any number of other fantasy settings in order to really challenge the characters. It might also be useful for throwing those know-it-all players for a loop once they get the regular Monster Manual memorized.

In conclusion, I have high praise for Mutated Monsters. Please check it out if you get a chance. Thank you for being here. I appreciate it.

Campaign World Design Diary Day 1.

Imagine the perfect world, heaven, Utopia, paradise. Now, picture it descending from that state down into the world of 13th or 14th century Earth. It seems like the change happened almost overnight. Now your character must cope with this frightening new reality.

Game stats be damned. Full speed ahead.

I’ve decided I’m going to stop ruminating on which system to use and just do the thing. Tentatively it’s going to be a Cypher System Game. The first few days of this project are going to be a massive lore dump, anyway. System doesn’t matter when we’re just writing some basic fiction and creating a setting bible.

My goal here is not to give too much of the setting away as I am planning on selling this thing. It’s part labor of love and part loving detachment. Part of the reason I think many of us have so many unfinished projects is because sometimes it’s hard to release something into the world after we’ve spent so much effort to make it cool. This series of articles is to share some of my thoughts about the design process and why I did some of the things I did. Maybe it will help a fellow Game Master/Dungeon Master somewhere along the way.

Starting premises. What is the 5th Dimension?

(*Apologies in advance. This first part is pretty esoteric.) Simply put: the 5th Dimension is a realm currently ascended and evolved compared to the one we live in here in the real world. Some believe it is a higher frequency, higher vibrational realm that overlaps the one we’re in now.

When people talk about the 5th dimension, one hears of great crystalline cities in the sky. Everyone has the ability to create or manifest anything they desire almost instantly in most cases. There is no toil or suffering. Beings are free to come and go as they please and get around by thought. Pleasurable endeavours such as art, music, literature, poetry, theatre, and dance are emphasized.

There is no need for currency. Everyone’s basic needs are met or manifested automatically as not to cause discomfort. It’s a Utopian vision of heaven. Every day is sunny and pleasant. There is no war, sickness, hate, lack or death. No worries, ever. Just thought, creativity, peace and comfort.

Picture a world where you can have any super power you could ever want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. *Not that anyone would ever dream of hurting anyone. There is literally no need to do so, ever. No governments, banks, currency or jobs to go to. Sounds wonderful, huh?

Photo by Ricardo Esquivel on Pexels.com

Nothing that perfect can ever stay that way.

Now, imagine what would happen if an enormous 5D world came crashing down gently into a 4D/3D state such as we see in most fantasy TTRPGs. What would that look like? What happens when an entire generation or two on this world live through a change from a perfect world to the one that existed on the real Earth in the 1300-1400s in Europe.

Imagine what a shock it would be to one’s system to go from manifesting a perfect dwelling out of the Earth itself to having to live in a crude wooden structure with a thatch roof. Imagine going from never being hungry to having to be a maid making just enough coins to buy bread on a given day. Imagine being friends with animals and trees only to find out they’ve changed. The trees are not as much a companion as a resource. The animals are doing terrible things to one another. (By eating smaller animals for sustenance for example.)

Survival became a major concern for the beings. Animals began attacking people. This was very confusing because the beings had always been friends with all in their surroundings. The split became more divisive as time came to a slower crawl. Some animals came to life as monstrous beasts. Soon creatures known as giants, dragons, hydras, and ogres roamed the land.

Courtesy of Openverse.

It’s all about the beings.

The most difficult part of the descent into this harsh physical realm for many is remembering the reality of being true, timeless, peaceful light and not being able to return to it. A veil of forgetfulness fell upon the physical plane for most. Beings on the spirit plane escaped this veil. Spirits of the plants and earth remember all too well which is why they speak very slowly and lovingly. The fae retained their own metaphysical corner of the new world, as did dragons.

Harsh new reality extended to some beings. They became twisted, evil, cruel, and inhumane in exchange for the powers on the 3D plane. They called themselves the “Old Ones.” Creatures from a much darker, negative space called “demons” and “devils” began to portal into the new world as it became solid. Other beings that came down from the 5D space were almost immediately subjugated or destroyed.

Destruction or death is such a double edged sword for the beings that descended from the higher plane. Most don’t remember the 5D realm They ALL return to 5D, but some choose to come back to experience these short, “mortal” lives all over again. Many choose different roles and agree to “forget” their immortal powers for a time in the mortal realm beforehand.

Fortunately, some remember a portion of their amazing abilities from before the descent. Some are gifted with what others would learn to call “magic.” It is strange and almost painful for those who still remember the higher realm. The descent was a massive blur. But they can still speak with the spirits and channel amazing energies.

Here’s where the TTRPG part comes in.
Courtesy of Openverse.

Your character is either one who remembers, or one who has come back with a tiny fraction of the divine power they once held. Your character could also be one of the ones born to the 3D reality who has managed to adapt physically to the harsh, brutal, new existence. Some are just born to explore.

All of the characters are Human. No one has ever seen or heard of Elf, Dwarf, or Gnome. Most beings have never run across the fae, the spirits, giants, or any negative entities. Stories of powerful beings circulate, but few have actually encountered one. The characters know they exist, along with the treasure they might happen to guard or secrets they might remember. (Cyphers.)

However, the PCs are like a magnet to the unnatural, unusual, and paranormal experiences of the world. The planet is enormous. Settlements are scattered far and wide. Riches and artifacts lie buried in cairns, caches, and even dungeons from the time before the descent. There is an enormous amount of land to explore outside of the village where the group starts out.

Other beings.

There are rumors floating around about beings trapped in their divine, Luminal forms. Some might be severely disturbed by the Great Descent, unable to process the crash into a plane of time and gravity. These beings might appear as Titans, demigods, or something much more malevolent if encountered.

Wow! Covered a lot of ground with not a lot of TTRPG stuff mentioned. This planet has existed in my head for so long, it’s almost like living there. Putting it all down on paper is like downloading a novel.

Thanks for stopping by. Much more to come. Have a great day.

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