5e: Designing Warlock Patrons

With the impending release of Book of Heroes: Heroic Fighter Archetypes, I am setting up the framework for the next few installments. One if them is warlocks, because I love warlocks. It’s a solid class mechanically, and it has a back story built right in. My first 5e character (post playtest) was a warlock—Sir Tim von Daggerdale. He’s fun. I haven’t played him in years, but I enjoyed the fun times I had with him.

From the point of view of the in-game characters that choose to be a warlock, let’s moment and analyze the biggest choice for the character: the otherworldly patron. The PHB has 3 in there: the Fiend and let’s just call them Fey and Great Old One. Specifically, I am only looking at flavor reasons why a character would choose to make a deal with these; I’m not looking at the game mechanics.

Warlock

First just being a warlock means a number of things. You made a deal with a being for power. So you lacked the patience to study to become a wizard, the innate ability to become a sorcerer, the faith and devotion of a cleric or a paladin or any of the other prerequisites for the other classes. This deal is or power plain and simple. Without that deal you believe you would be simply average. The real question is, “Is that true or is the deal holding you back from what you are meant to be?”

Fiend

The deal you make with a fiend is never what you expect. Even if you think you found all the loop holes, you haven’t. This deal always benefits the fiend far more than it benefits you. So what does it say about a person that reaches out to a demon or a devil for power? It could say you are ambitious and are willing to make sacrifices to see that ambition come to fruition. It could say you desire to rule over others, stopping conflicts by making others see what is obvious to you. One could even choose the fiend pact out of a desire to preserve life, believing that taking such power is required to make others hear what you have to say. No matter what the reason, choosing the fiend pact is a far more complex option than simply believing that the devils have it right.

Fey

Harry Dresden made a deal with Queen Mab for power after he broke his back. She pursued him for a long time but it refused until he felt he had no option left except a deal with her. So what does it say about him and–back to the main topic–any character that makes a deal with Mab or some other great and powerful fey? First off unlike the other two you stand for life. Fiends and Cthulhu want the character’s soul (or the souls of others) while fey promote the natural world. So if you choose the Fey as your patron, you promote life not death. You may promote the life of animals and other non-intelligent creatures over humans but it is still life. You may find something appealing about civilization becoming a less potent force in the world. Perhaps you just enjoy being a force for chaos or a trickster.

Great Old One

While the cultist that is a true believer and wants to see the world end in fire or drown in water is the stereotype, it is far from the only kind of character that would make a deal with a Great Old One. I prefer a passage from the Roger Zelazny book A Night in the Lonesome October.

“I hunted rats and ate out of dustbins and saw my kittens killed and was hung by my tail and abused by wicked urchins,” Graymalk said suddenly, “before the mistress found me. She was an orphan who’d lived on the streets. Her life had been even worse.”

Here, Greymalk the cat is telling Snuff the dog why they support opening the gate and the Great Old Ones destroying the world. Greymalk and her mistress had terrible lives and the two want their own pain to stop, want the pain for others in their situation to stop and to make all those that inflict such pain to pay for their crimes. While a character in a 5e game might not want to go to such lengths, those in a position to be recruited by a Great Old One frequently have had something bad happen to them and it stayed bad for a very long time. Someone who has made a deal with an otherworldly being that wants to destroy the world wants to lash out, particularly at anyone causing pain. Those who take the power offered by Cthulhu and others of his kind may very well be good people willing to do bad things to bad people because of the pain inflicted upon them. So what does a deal with a Great Old One say about your warlock, that you’ve been hurt. Hurt quite a bit.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.

Help us produce more great articles like this by downloading our 5e PDFs like the Book of Magic: 10 Warlock Invocations at the JBE Shop, the Open Gaming Store, and DriveThruRPG.

5e: Amazing Archetypes for Fighters

Weapon Masters and Martial Champions

Other adventurers sometimes consider fighters to be nothing more than dumb brutes—prove them wrong with this supplement! Build a fighter with enough new tricks to make your rogue jealous, and employ tactics no barbarian can comprehend. Mix magic with your martial prowess, and become a knight of wits.

Inside the 16 pages of Book of Heroes: Heroic Fighter Archetypes, you will find:

  • The Pact-Bound Sword, who deals with an otherworldly patron in exchange for warlock-like powers
  • The Shieldbearer, who deflects mighty blows with a shield and wields it like a weapon
  • The Tainted Soul, whose knowledge of their fate in the afterlife drives them to oppose evil at any cost
  • And many more!

Be the Hero You’ve Always Known You Are With These Awesome Character Options Today.

Download Book of Heroes: Heroic Fighter Archetypes today at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, Paizo, and soon the Open Gaming Store.

5e: Unbroken Hero

With the Book of Heroes: Heroic Fighter Archetypes coming out next week, we wanted to give you a taste of what is inside. This one is one of my favorites. This is the “you saw Cthulhu and critted your Sanity check” archetype. This archetype pairs well with the soldier background. It is designed for a character that fought in a war and returned home and having the horror of seeing your friends slain upon the battlefield play out over and over again in your mind. While it does not fully portray those that have survived a true war zone, I hope it provides enough flavor to express that type of character for those looking to play one.

Download all of JBE’s Fifth Edition PDFs at the JBE Shop. Our adventure Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin is coming out in game stores this month. Tell your local game store that you want to pick up this 7th-level adventure today. And now, to the archetype.

Unbroken Hero

You have seen things. Whether it was someone being torn apart, whole villages destroyed, loved ones dragged into the Abyss, or something even worse, you witnessed it with your own eyes. What you have seen would break many. The memory of that day fuels your drive to continue forward, never yielding or surrendering.

Take the Attack

When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you can use your reaction to make an attack targeting an ally within 5 feet of you target you instead. You must say you are using this before the attack is rolled. This cannot be used with area attacks or on spells that do not require attack rolls.

Haunting Eyes

At 7th level, your gaze can piece the mind, heart and soul, making you far more persuasive, to the point of terrifying. You gain proficiency with Intimidation and Persuasion. If you are already proficient with these skills, you add double your proficiency bonus when using these skills.

Fight Through the Pain

Starting at 10th level, you can use your Second Wind ability a second time before needing to finish a short or long rest.

Undeterred by Fear

Upon reaching 15th level, nothing can frighten you. You are immune to the frightened condition. Additionally, you can use a bonus action to remove the frightened condition from an ally within 10 feet.

Avatar of Terror

At 18th level, your very presence is terrifying. As an action, you can give a loud shout, requiring all of your enemies within 30 feet to make a Charisma saving throw (the DC is equal to 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier) or become paralyzed with fear for the next minute. A successful save means the creature is frightened until the end of your next turn. Once used, you cannot use this again until you complete a short or long rest.

Announcing the Book of Heroes

Today JBE is announcing we are consolidating all of our player-focused lines into the Book of Heroes. This goes for DnD 5e, Pathfinder, and 13th Age. So all future Book of Heroic Races, Book of Magic, Book of Feats, Book of the Faithful, 13 Class Options, and several other lines we created will all be in this line. This is something we should have done from the beginning, and I only recently understood just how important it is. So I thought I would share with you our reasoning and hope you will check out our titles.

1) It Makes It Easier for You to Recognize

This is easily the biggest reason. From now on, you will know that any book of ours labeled Book of Heroes, you will know it is designed for players. From there, all you have to do is look at the subheading to see if it is right for you. Makes life easy.

2) It’s Less Confusing

Previously we had put Arcanist, Warlock and Witch class options, dragon themed-archetypes, and spellcaster feats in the Book of Magic, Cleric subdomains, feats, and artifacts under the Book of the Faithful, and some magic items and Cavalier class options under no heading at all. Where exactly the line was on these was not well planned out and was downright confusing. By consolidating all of these and others under the heading of the Book of Heroes, it all makes sense.

3) It Gives Us More Freedom

Lastly, we have the freedom to combine different ideas. Take the Book of Magic: Dragon Spells and Archetypes as an example. In addition to the spells, we included archetypes and class options for the Occultist, Shaman, and Wizard classes. You’ll notice there is no dragon rider archetype for the Cavalier, dragon hunter for the Ranger, or a scaled warrior for the fighter. Those ideas were cut because they did not fit under the heading of Book of Magic very well. From here, we are no longer held back by the label we put on the product. From here out, you should enjoy seeing our products covering a wider range of topics. Now we are freed up to include new archetypes and class options as well as magic items designed to work with those new class options and spells to make better use of these archetypes. Plus we can consolidate them all under one title to give you more print books for your shelves.

I should point out that Shadowsfall will still be separate but that is because it is its own setting and not designed for use with any setting, like the Book of Heroes line is.

Check out all of our Pathfinder, D&D 5e, and 13th Age products at the JBE Shop. Order and download them today.

Poll: Where Do You Buy Your Pathfinder Compatible, 5e Compatible, and 13th Age Compatible Books and PDFs From?

Today we would like to ask you where you buy your books from, be they print or PDF. Please note, we are only asking about Pathfinder Compatible (so not Paizo’s books), 5e Compatible (so nothing from Wizards nor from the DMs Guild), and 13th Age Compatible (so not Pelgrane’s books). Vote for your top 3 answers. If you don’t see where you purchase your books and PDFs from, please let us know in the comments below.

Sorry Traveller, we would include you in this poll, but the license allows for only one place for Traveller MGT2e books to be sold at DriveThruRPG.

Thank you in advance.

GM’s Day Sale 2019 Is Here!

The GM’s Day Sale is here and it is better than ever. Get 20-40% off of our Pathfinder, Fifth Edition, 13th Age, and Traveller 1e books you have been wanting for a while now. Grab these books now while they are available at a great price. Which books you ask? Here are some highlights.

Fifth Edition

Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Forbidden Woods
Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1
Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1 (For Fantasy Grounds)
Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 2
Book of Magic: 10 Warlock Invocations
Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider (2019 Edition)
Deadly Delves: Doom of the Sky Sword
Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin
Deadly Delves: Rescue from Tyrkaven
Deadly Delves: Temple of Luminescence

13th Age Compatible

13 Fighter Talents and Maneuvers
13 Rogue Talents and Powers
Book of Heroic Races: Age of Races 1
Book of Heroic Races: Age of Races 2
Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin

Pathfinder

Book of Heroic Races CompendiumBook of Beasts: Legendary Foes
Book of Bests: Monsters of the River Nations
Book of Bests: Monsters of the Shadow Plane
Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium
Book of Heroic Races Compendium
Book of Heroic Races: Occult Intrigue in the Wilderness
Book of Magic: Dragon Spells and Archetypes
Book of Magic: Gemhancements
Book of Magic: Insurgency of Summer
Book of Magic: Patron Hexes
Book of the River Nations Complete
Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider
Deadly Delves: Doom of the Sky Sword
Deadly Delves: Nine Lives for Petane
Deadly Delves: Quests of the Sands
Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin
Deadly Delves: Rescue from Tyrkaven
Deadly Delves: Temple of Luminescence
Deadly Delves: The Chaosfire Incursion
Deadly Delves: The Guilded Gauntlet
Deadly Delves: To Claw the Surface
Treasury of the Sands
Shadowsfall: Shadow Plane Player’s Companion

Traveller 1e

Creatures of Distant Worlds Compendium
d66 Compendium
Foreven Worlds: Vehicles of the Frontier
Mech Tech ‘n’ bot: Fighters and Small Ships
Mech Tech ‘n’ bot: Mech Squadrons
Mech Tech ‘n’ bot: Warp Ships 1

Download these and other titles now at DriveThruRPG.

5e: Mites

Earlier this month, we released an updated version of our adventure Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider for the Fifth Edition of D&D. Inside are a number of new monsters and spiders do take up the majority of those new monsters. However, they are not the only new monsters inside. Today we want to show off the mite. These little fey are used to being kicked around. They get absolutely no respect and carry a grudge because of it. Despite their evil bent, they are not without their redeeming qualities. Find out what they are by reading this adventure today.

Download Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider today at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store.

Mite

Image by Simon Buckroyd
Small fey, lawful evil
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 40 (9d6 + 9)
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft.


Str 6 (–2) Dex 14 (+2) Con 13 (+1)
Int 8 (−1) Wis 13 (+1) Cha 10 (+0)

Skills Perception +3, Stealth +4
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages Deep Speech
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)

Innate Spellcasting. The mite’s spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 10). The mite can innately cast the following spells, requiring only verbal components:
At will: prestidigitation
1/day: bane

Actions


Dagger. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage.
Dart. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 20 ft./ 60 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage.
Vermin Empathy (1/day). As an action, a mite can conjure a swarm of bats, a swarm of rats, a giant centipede, 2 giant rats, or a giant wolf spider. The conjured creatures attack the closest creature except the mite. The mite has no additional control over the conjured creatures.

5e: The Spiders Have Been Unleashed Again

These Spiders Aren’t So Itsy Bitsy

Giant spiders have overrun Mossdale, and every last villager is either dead and dessicated, or cocooned and abducted. But what were they after, and who coordinated the vermin to attack en masse? Could it have been the local ettercap or a crazed arachnophile druid… or was something far more sinister behind the attack? Can the adventurers rescue the missing citizens and foil the plans of the nefarious mind behind this dastardly deed before it is too late?

Along Came a Spider is an exciting adventure module in Jon Brazer Enterprises’ Deadly Delves series for the Fifth Edition of the World’s Oldest Fantasy Roleplaying Game. This updated 29-page adventure is designed to challenge four to five 1st-level PCs like no other content has to date. Inside this volume, you’ll find:

  • 6 new monsters, 2 NPCs, a unique trap, and more material for your Fifth Edition campaign

  • Three full-color maps, one of the ruined alchemist shop, another of the an ancient stone circle where spiders and worse horrors prowl, the final is in the lair of the deadly horror

  • Enough content to get your group of 1st-level PCs through a night of play with little preparation time required, bringing your group to 2nd level

Dangers Unknown. Treasures Untold. Adventure Awaits.

Download the updated adventure Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider for Fifth Edition today at the the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store.

5e/Pathfinder/13th Age: Guide to Mini-Bosses

There’s a short story by Janni Lee Simner called Practical Villany that I particularly love. It’s from the villain’s point of view. The opening line is “The first thing I want you to know is that I drowned those kittens for a reason.” It’s a dark comedy about a villain talking to his latest kidnapee about his rebellious daughter that turned hero, betraying the family business. In the story, the author talks about how evil is a business while heroes are just one person. That is where mini-bosses come in. Mini-bosses are akin to mid-level managers. The real question is why would someone in a fantasy RPG world need them.

No matter which level-based fantasy game you play, you get more powerful by level. You are obviously more powerful at level 2 than level 1 and even still more powerful at level 3 and so on. The same is true for your main enemy. They didn’t try to take over the world at level 1. They worked to amass enough wealth and influence and easily outclass the adventurers at the start of the campaign. So why are they employing people that can’t hold their own against a plucky group of low levels?

1) Your Big Bad Has a Source of Revenue and Power that Must be Maintained

Your big bad has a source of income that still needs to be maintained, and they are busy with taking over the city/country/worlds. So the actual job of generating that income has to be in the hands of some trusted aid to oversee the operation. Whether that operation is a kobold mining company digging up gold, orc hunters that sell skins for leather armor, or an ogre timber consortium, they have to perform operations far to trivial for the big bad to do. The problem comes in when they interact with the humanoid races. Do the kobolds breech into a dwarven mine or a gnome village? Do the orcs kill the cows of a small hamlet? Are the elves upset the trees are being felled? The people doing the work need direction and someone to pay them for their work, someone that represents the big bad to the workers. That is a mini-boss. Remember, any good business has lots of moving parts to it (different managers in charge of different workers at different locations all doing the same job, different departments doing different jobs, etc.). That is a lot of different mini-bosses at a number of different difficulty levels. In this case, the employees are minions.

2) Your Big Bad Doesn’t Have Every Skill or Ability

The person at the top simply can’t have every skill or talent possible in the whole world. CEOs hire accountants and lawyers to help them navigate those arenas. Your big bad trying to take over the city/country/world needs someone to advise them on the way to the crown and how to finance it. So your mini-bosses can be advisers to the big bad in their specialty field. Other possible advisers include a cleric of an influential church and the big bad isn’t a follower of the deity or doesn’t have any divine casting ability, a public relations bard to smooth over incidents like the kobolds invading the dwarven mines, and a spiritual advisory monk.

The important thing to remember with advisers is that they should fill two roles: the official one and an unofficial one. The official one is the job for which they are known. This is their day job, how this adviser is presented in the public. The unofficial one should be the real reason that person in particular was hired by the big bad. Does the financial advisory funnel money from the crown to the big bad? Does the cleric get people (more minions) to act against their interests in the name of the religion? Is the public relations bard in charge of spreading disinformation? All of these roles a big bad needs done and these make great mini-bosses.

3) Dirty Workers

Bad guys are not known for fighting fair. Once the adventurers have been identified as disrupting some small plans, they should have someone to deal with them. Assassination attempts have been done and the players will see that coming. Instead, trying having the big bad hire the adventurers for a job they are not qualified, like killing a monster that is more powerful than they can handle. Have the public relations bard hire them, apologizing for any previous incidents involving low-level managers, and praise them for bringing such bad actors in their organization to light. The job is something like clearing out a cave where some new miners will be going soon. The adventurers aren’t told there’s a dragon in there. The dragon will be warned and compensated for it’s trouble. Naturally the dragon will have his own minions to soften you up in your way there. The idea behind this is that if the adventurers never return, no one will miss them or possibly figure they left for another problem elsewhere. As an added bonus, the public relations bard can claim they had bad information and apologize for their near deaths. By doing this, you turn what would otherwise be a single encounter into a night’s game session and they might even believe the big bad isn’t so bad.

Every mini-boss need minions and we have some excellent ones in the Book of Beasts series, available now for Pathfinder, Fifth Edition, and 13th Age. Download them now.

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