Convention Games over Fantasy Grounds Classic

During the pandemic, I’ve been running a number of games online over Fantasy Ground Classic. Since many are new to the platform, I’ve been sending out instruction each time to help new players get connected. So instead of typing it out again and again, I’m just posting this once and will be pointing new players to this page. GMs, if you are running convention games over Fantasy Grounds Classic and you have an Ultimate License (such as myself), feel free and point your gamers here so they can find out how to set up FG Classic for the first time. If you are playing an RPG over Fantasy Grounds Classic, follow these steps to set up the program and connect to the game:

  1. Goto the following site: http://www.fantasygrounds.com/home/FantasyGroundsClassic.php
  2. Choose Mac or PC. Download and install.
  3. Once you do that, you’ll get a window that asks for your license key at the top. Just click OK at the bottom without entering anything. This will let Fantasy Grounds run in “demo” mode.
  4. You’ll be asked to log in to your Fantasy Grounds account or create one. It’s free.
  5. A new window will open. Click “Join Game.” You’ll be met by two boxes. The first labeled: Username. Please type in your real name (first name only is fine). This makes it easy for a GM to refer to you during game (your character’s name will be elsewhere). The second is labeled Host Address. That information, you will get for registering for the game. Once you enter that information, click the Start button.

It is always best to do this a day or two (or more) before the game so you can find out if you have any issues installing the program and can figure out other options.

This should get you started in online gaming. Enjoy virtual game, and I hope to game with you at Gen Con Online, or any other online convention.

If you run games over Fantasy Grounds (Classic or Unity), I encourage you to check out all of our products at the FG Store. We are adding more products there all the time so check back frequently.

3 Rules for Creating Compelling Fantasy Religions

Whether you are creating your own setting or just adding your own flare to an existing setting, creating your own fantasy religions can be fun for both you and your players. The gods and their religions is a way to emphasize something important in your campaign. Learning more about the god of stealth is important when fighting the thieves’ guild; discovering a particular blacksmith is a follower of the deity of war equipment may tip off the players to the NPC being more than they appear.

So how can you go about making your own, without shamelessly ripping off real world religions? Before I answer that, I wholeheartedly endorce “borrowing heavily” from mythology. Some exceptional tales are there and are a classic for a reason. Pick up a book on them, read and borrow.

But if you still feel you need to create a religion from whole cloth, I have three rules for you to follow.

1) Pick a Theme and Run With It

Start with a core concept that is going to be important enough that it could draw followers. Clearly define it in 1-3 words: war, art, thieving, servants, farming, birds, a particular celestial body, and crafting are but a few examples. Now take that core concept and let your mind wander on what else is related to that theme. Servants work hard all day long for little reward. Who else does that? Employees. So this moves beyond a Noble’s servants and incorporates the baker’s lowly assistant, the dock workers, the one that cooks for to the caravan guards, and so on. So this deity is not a good of servants, but a god to the downtrodden. When the downtrodden are about to be beaten by their master’s for some minor mistake (or because the master is in the mood), they call upon their deity and the deity shows them some place to hide, perhaps even helping them to plan for such eventualities. So this deity is also a god of forethought and hiding places. Now this deity is both fun and more fleshed out than just “servants.”

2) Add in Something Unexpected … And DON’T Explain it.

Players will latch in to that oddity and think about that far longer than anything else, trying to figure out how they work together? Why does the deity of understanding, reason, and time have a groundhog as their spirit animal? Sure it makes total sense if you’ve seen the movie Groundhog Day, but if you hadn’t, how long would you try puzzling that one through. More importantly, what crazy ideas would you come up with trying to make that one work.

The most important part of this step is to limit it to one or two things. Anything more and the theme to your carefully thought out deity starts to look like a collection of random ideas rolled up together. This is definitely a less-is-more situation. Take the deity of servants from the previous step. What if we make them associated with purple flowers? Or instead its sacred animal is a particular breed of goldfish? Maybe followers should always turn their glass or bowl of water counterclockwise three times before taking their first drink for the day. Obviously, there is a perfectly logical explanation for whatever oddity is chosen, but leaving such reasons said unspoken both adds an heir of mystery and makes the world feel more lived in. Besides, it is entirely possible no one knows why such oddity is the case. It could have been lost to time over the last 1,000+ years. Maybe the deity never felt the need to explain such oddities to their followers. Heck you could make the answer explainable should someone ask, but they have to ask someone in world so they can give an in-world explanation. No matter what it is, treat it as ordinary as a Catholic priest putting a wafer into your mouth saying that it is from the body of someone that died about two thousand years ago and you should eat that dead person’s flesh.

3) Describe How Mundane Followers Interact With Their Faith

In my experience, this more than anything else is forgotten by game designers and GMs when describing religions. While the religion is focused around the deity/deities, the followers are no less important. Without followers, gods lose power. Terry Pratchett described this relationship perfectly in his book Small Gods. The great god Om said several times throughout the book, “Smite you with lightning bolts!” when he got angry at someone, yet nothing happened until he gained a single follower. Even then, he got hit with the equivalent of static electricity. When many people believed in him, he swelled with power.

Mind you, that book was really about how the people in the church of Om had no faith and simply did the ceremony without knowing the reasons why. However, a religion without some type of regular way for the followers to participate in is a religion that is going to lose followers. How many books are forgotten after their author dies? Sure some classics are remembered, like Mary Shelley’s The Modern Prometheus is well remembered, but Percy Shelly is not nearly as well remembered despite the fact he was an established author when his wife created Dr Frankenstein and his monster. Same idea.

So yes, any religion needs a consistent way for the followers to interact with their faith. All of these should interact with stuff we decided above. Prayers at select times or for certain reasons. Eating / not eating certain foods on certain days. Regular community gatherings with preferred offerings. Ceremonies to mark important events in the religion as well as the lives of the followers. Perhaps the god of servants has a ceremony marking someone’s promotion. Similarly, prayers for enough energy and strength to make it through a hard day’s work comes at dawn while prayers of protection against an angry master’s wrath can come at any time. Compare that with a god of intellect and arcane study: prayers to that deity should be before sitting down at a desk to do some heavy reading and study. That same deity probably talks about the evils of eating excessive carbs as they will make one drowsy before a long night of study by candlelight.

I hope these tips help you create compelling religions in your game. Be sure to check out all of JBE’s Pathfinder 1e, D&D 5e, 13th Age, and Traveller at the JBE Shop.

Pathfinder 1e: Steal Strength

As I’ve mentioned before, working on the Book of Beasts: Magus Codex has shown me the many holes in their spell selection particularly their lack of touch spells. The magus class is built around delivering touch spells through your weapon. However, there are far too few touch spells making the close range arcana necessary.

To address this, we are working on a bunch of new touch spells for the magus with a number of other classes benefitting as well. We’ve shown off the 1st level spell frigid grasp and the 2nd level spell tarfoot. Today we’re talking the steal strength spell for 3rd level.

Download our Pathfinder 1e PDFs at DriveThruRPG, the Open Gaming Store, Paizo, and our own store at JonBrazer.com.

Steal Strength

School necromancy; Level arcanist/sorcerer/wizard 3, bloodrager 3, magus 3, witch 3
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range touch
Target creature touched
Duration 1 round/level
Saving Throw Fortitude half; Spell Resistance yes
The subject takes a penalty to Strength equal to 1d4 per three caster levels (maximum 5d4). The subject’s Strength score cannot drop below 1. A successful Fortitude save reduces this penalty by half. This penalty does not stack with itself nor similar penalties such as from ray of enfeeblement. Apply the highest penalty instead. Half of the Strength penalty taken by the target from this spell is granted to you as an enhancement bonus for the duration of this spell.

Pathfinder: Face Mask of Disease Prevention

I saw a meme of how if there was a magic item that gave you a bonus to prevent disease, you’d wear it all the time. Well, I don’t know of such an item so I figured now was a great time to create one.

Wear your face masks. Wash your hands. Social distance.

Play RPGs while social distancing by playing them over Fantasy Grounds with JBE’s expanding suite of expansions. See them all today at the Fantasy Grounds Store.

Face Mask of Disease Prevention

Aura divination; CL 1st

Slot face; Price 300 gp; Weight 0.5 lbs.


Description


When this black cotton scarf is tied over the nose and mouth, the wearer receives a +1 resistance bonus to saving throws against disease.


Construction


Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, guidance; Cost 150 gp

Pathfinder 1e: Bag of Wind

Over the years, I’ve read many mythological tales and seen such items in D&D/Pathfinder. Belts of giant strength, winged boots, various magical weapon and armor properties all owe their origins to the Greek, Norse, and other tales.

Of all the items I have seen there one I have never seen: a big of wind. In The Odyssey, the bag of wind was supposed to blow the Odesseus and the crew home; instead the crew opened the bag early and they were blown to the other side of the world. While such a powerful item would be an artifact level power in Pathfinder, something of similar concept could be used to blow enemies around the battlefield. With that in mind, I present to you a bag of wind.

Bag of Wind

Aura weak evocation; CL 3rd

Slot –; Price 300 gp; Weight 1 lbs.

Description

The size of a water skin and closed with a stone stopper, a bag of wind can be opened as a swift action after a successful bull rush attempt. The winds carry the target an additional 10 feet.

Construction

Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, gust of wind; Cost 150 gp

13th Age: The Mother, an Alternate Icon

All year long we are releasing alternate icons for 13th Age. Read previous entries in the series: the Usurper, Deposed Heir, Fleshcrafter, Herald, Wandering Spirit, and the Guild Mistress. This month we leave civilization behind and bring in someone that doesn’t dish out cruelty as much as giving others permission to release their own cruelty, the Mother, the equal and opposite of the Great Druid.

In many ways, the Mother is not terribly dissimilar to the Guild Mistress, although both would slice your throat if you made the suggestion to their faces. Both make deals and trade goods, and those deals are always tipped in the icon’s favor. What they trade in is where they differ. Where the Guild Mistress trades in goods and services, mostly wanting gold in return, the Mother trades in secrets and power, wanting everything from their firstborn child, souls, or a day’s worth of memories in return. Only a fool walks away after having struck a bargain with the Mother thinking well of what had just transpired.

Quote

“Come. Let us see what you have to offer the dear Mother.”

Frequent Location

Swamp of Desperation, while it is said that the very trees emit this stench that makes one feel despair, the truth is the opposite, unfortunately. None come to this swamp if had any other option, bringing the stink of desperation with them. Over time, the trees, water, ground, and air have absorbed it, to the point that the smell overwhelms those coming here.

Common Knowledge

The Mother has the ability to grant wishes. The barren can have children. Those afflicted by some terrible disease are cured. Peasants find true love with royalty. Few speak of the price. The pain their eyes or the eyes of their lives ones does the speaking for them.

The Icon and Adventurers

Wise adventures will avoid the Mother. Far to many seek her out, hoping to get some deal made my a despite villager undone. Those same adventurers walk away either making the situation worse or having to collect the price from others that owe to the Mother. Even less wise are the adventurers seeking her out, looking for ways to defeat their enemies. She always knows their weaknesses. What price is an adventurer willing to pay to win?

Allies

No icon publicly says they have anything to do with the Mother. The truth is far more complicated. Both the Deposed Heir and the Usurper have avoided sending troops here, no matter how much someone begs them to. Even the Herald, avoids speaking about the Mother when someone comes to him about the pain she causes. Their silence make some wonder if this is how they attained such power. Agents of each of these have been rumored to occasionally collect the price from those foolish enough to strike a bargain with the Mother, but few believe such tales, and those that do believe that do not assume that they do so with their respective icon’s blessing.

Enemies

The Wandering Spirit and the Guild Mistress are the only two that openly talk about their emninty towards the Mother. Many skilled crafters and guild enforcers have lost their desire to keep plying their trade after paying the Mother’s price, costing the Guild Mistress a valuable members of her team.

The Wandering Spirit is sensitive to the anguish the people feel after paying her price. If anyone would be sympathetic to the cause of adventurers seeking to undo some deal struck with the Mother, it would be this one. Yet the Wandering Spirit will not strike at the Mother directly, fearing to be trapped in some soul crystal of hers. However if adventurers that helped the Wandering Spirit receive a reward of the location of some forgotten weapon or item and it coincidentally may defeat one of the Mother’s agents, that is not the Wandering Spirit’s problem.

History

The most powerful of the cruel and capricious fey, the Mother rose to prominence after recognizing the power of souls, stolen memories, and the list children. Whether she did not know or did not care that such power corrupted even the darkest of souls is not known. The longest lives elves that glimpsed her through the centuries spoke of her living body purifying over time. Supposedly she was once the model of grace and beauty; none would describe her as that today.

The Reason to Fear

No one exactly knows what she has done with the army of children she has taken. Between them and the souls and the memories she has collected, it is possible that she has more raw eldritch power available to her than any other icon.

While it may be rumored that some icons achieves their standing from the Mother granting a wish, one icon that achieves their standing through their own blood, sweat, and tears is the Tinkerer, the equal and opposite of the Dwarf King. Read all about this icon associated with the gnomish people next month at the JBE Blog.

Looking to play 13th Age while social distancing, Download Book of Heroic Races: Age of Races at the Fantasy Grounds Store. You can also find it at the JBE Shop and DriveThruRPG.

PF1e: Apprentice Mage

I’ve said before that the next in the Book of Beasts series of NPCs known as the Character Codex will cover the Magus class. The first round of edits is moving along nicely (with some unrelated delays). So today I want to share with you the first NPC in this supplement.

When I created this NPC, I couldn’t help but remember my very first D&D character—Xavier. Mind you, that character was a grey elf fighter/magic-user, back in the days when you had to keep track of your XP separately and elves had names like Swift. This NPC was made in honor of that character. The actual name this character gets will be more in line with today’s names for elves. But I hope it finds a home in our game.

Subscribe to the Book of Beasts: Character Codex today at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, the Open Gaming Store, and Paizo.

Apprentice Mage CR 1/2

XP 200
Elf magus 1
CN Medium humanoid (elf)
Init +3; Senses low-light vision; Perception +1


Defense


AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14 (+4 armor, +3 Dex)
hp 9 (1d8+1)
Fort +3, Ref +3, Will +1; +2 vs. enchantments
Immune sleep


Offense


Speed 30 ft.
Melee rapier +3 (1d6+1/18–20)
Ranged dagger +3 (1d4+1/19–20)
Special Attacks arcane pool (+1, 3 points), spell combat
Magus Spells Prepared (CL 1st; concentration +3)
1st—magic missile, shocking grasp
0 (at will)—daze (DC 12), detect magic, ray of frost


Tactics


During Combat The magus opens combat with magic missile and then engages in melee combat, enhancing attacks from the arcane pool.


Statistics


Str 12, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 15, Wis 8, Cha 10
Base Atk +0; CMB +1; CMD 14
Feats Weapon Finesse
Skills Climb +3, Knowledge (arcana) +6, Knowledge (planes) +6, Perception +1, Spellcraft +6 (+8 to identify magic item properties), Use Magic Device +4; Racial Modifiers +2 Perception, +2 Spellcraft to identify magic item properties
Languages Common, Elven, Goblin, Orc
SQ elven magic
Combat Gear scroll of blur, alchemical grease APG, poison ward salve ACG, weapon blanch (silver) APG; Other Gear chain shirt, dagger (2), rapier, ioun torch APG, magus spellbook (contains all 0-level spells and all prepared spells plus 1st—chill touch, returning weapon UC, shield), 16 gp

Black Lives Matter

Like so many of our fellow gaming industry professionals, fellow Americans, and fellow humans around the world, we at JBE are horrified and outraged by the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and so, so many others. We say it with you: Black Lives Matter.

We call upon our elected officials to enact meaningful reforms such as banning chokeholds, holding officers accountable for their actions, and cutting bloated budgets of police departments and transferring it to services that will help people without involving law enforcement.

To that end, Jon Brazer Enterprises is proud to take part in the Black Lives Matter Bundles at DriveThruRPG. All proceeds from these bundles go to support some very important causes such as Black Lives Matter, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the National Police Accountability Project. You can find all 6 of the Black Lives Matter Bundles as well as some awesome products created by person’s of color here. Our contribution to the bundle is the Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Elans. We chose this book because it features a strong and wise black woman on the cover that can defeat her enemies with both her weapons as well as her mind.

Recently it was pointed out that our diversity in our cover artwork is lacking. We may be decent with our representation in our interior artwork but we are by no means great. We are committing to increasing the representation of skin tones and body types in our artwork, particularly in our cover artwork.

It’s not just that black lives matter, their voices matter as well. Everyone has the potential to be a hero; those that stand up for the good of all are heroes. No matter what your heritage is, you should be able to see yourself in the games you love. Heroes should be represented in gaming artwork, and that is what we will be aiming to do. As a game designer I look up to once said, “It is not about being perfect but learning from your mistakes and being better than yesterday.”

d66: Reason for Not Writing a New d66 List

So I started working on some more d66 lists again, and I wondered why I hadn’t done more of this during the pandemic. I took some time and thought about it and realized why I hadn’t. So instead of writing at some length as to why I had not, I thought I would make it fun and make it a d66 list by itself. I hope you enjoy this.

If you haven’t grabbed yourself the d66 Compendium and the D66 Compendium 2, treat yourself to these exceptional books today at DriveThruRPG.

d66 List Reason for Not Writing a New d66 List
11 Assembling a desk char
12 Attacking the spiders
13 Baking a loaf of bread
14 Binge watching cooking / gardening videos
15 Busy eating cake
16 Cancelling appointments
21 Creating Pathfinder spells
22 Doing some basic housework
23 Emotionally worn out
24 Enjoying awesome 80’s movies
25 Getting lost in Twitter
26 Laying awake at night, trying to sleep
31 Looking at my unfinished LEGO project
32 Making Fantasy Grounds products
33 Making something with scrap wood
34 Mowing the lawn, again
35 Optimizing the home office
36 Organizing my book collection
41 Overcooking the eggs
42 Playing a board game
43 Playing with my Star Wars LEGO fighters
44 Prepping a D&D game for the kids
45 Reading an RPG book I’ve wanted to read for a while
46 Sleeping, please don’t wake me up
51 Slept poorly the night before
52 Spring cleaning
53 Staring at the deer eating the victory garden
54 Surfing Facebook and feeling happy / sad / depressed / angry
55 Talking about a theoretical dog we want
56 Telling myself to go for a walk
61 Thinking about baking a pie
62 Watching late night comedians adapting to working from home
63 Watching the news about the pandemic / protests
64 Wiping down the groceries
65 Working on the victory garden
66 Writing Pathfinder NPCs

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