13th Age: Hound Golem

I’m a little busy this week and into next. It is the end of the semester so finals are fast approaching, projects need turned it. So I wanted to make sure that I posted another 13th Age blog post and monsters are one thing I know I can do well and fast. So please forgive two monsters in the same week

Today’s monster is a creation of the Fleshcrafter, one of our alternate icons that we created for 13th Age last year. This is more a low level guard that many that want to follow this icon create as a way of initiation into the Fellowship of the Craft. There are other creations, but some variation on this is one that most start out with. When adventurers go to stop such a golem creator gone mad, they can expect to find more than a few of these disgusting creations.

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Hound Golem

It may be four-legged and may be constructed from canine parts, but a hound golem is no dog. This loathsome creature disgusts and infuriates all those that look upon it for what its creator did to all the once noble beasts that make up this abomination.

2nd level troop [construct]

Initiative +2

Wounding Bite +7 vs AC—6 damage and the target is vulnerable (18+) to all attacks until the start of the hound golem’s next turn

Fear: The hound golem lets out a terrifying howl. All those engaged with the hound golem that have 12 hp or less are dazed and can’t use the escalation die. A normal save (11+) ends this for the creature.

Nastier Special

Rotting Interior: Once the hound golem is staggered, some of the stitching opens up, releasing the horrid stench of rot coming from the inside. All engaged creatures take 2 ongoing poison damage (hard save ends, 16+).

AC 18
PD 16
MD 12
HP 36

13th Age: Usurper’s Troops

As we’ve been talking about all last month, we started a Patreon to support our blog. We asked our Patrons to tell us what kinds of blogs they want to see. They spoke clearly. They want to see more 13th Age and more class/career options. So that is what we will be focusing on this month. Will we be doing that exclusively, no, but that will be our focus.

So today we are kicking off May with a new 13th Age creature to fight. Last year we created several new icons for 13th Age. One of which is the Usurper. This underhanded ruler of the Realm seized power and rules with an iron fist. Only those as brave as the adventurers can stop him. Today we’re looking at his troops. They’re mooks, but they’re well practiced and fight well as a unit. Underestimate them at your own peril.

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Usurper’s Troops

5th level mooks [humanoid]
Initiative +8
Sword Strike +10 vs AC—9 damage
Natural 20—Target is vulnerable to sword strikes until the start of the Usurper’s Troops next turn.
R: Long Bow +10 vs AC—9 damage
Natural 18+—The target is hampered until the start of the Usurper’s Troops next turn.
Fear Immunity: Knowing what awaits them should they fail, the Usurper’s troops are immune to spells and abilities that cause the fear condition.
Nastier Special
Practiced Tactics: This creature gains a +1 attack bonus per other Usurper’s Troops engaged with the target it’s attacking.
AC 21
PD 19
MD 15
HP 18 each (mook)
Mook: Kill one Usurper’s troop mook for every 18 damage you deal to the mob.

13th Age: Skunkdrill

I know we haven’t done much for 13th Age as of late. So when we were creating the skunkdrill for Pathfinder and 5e, we couldn’t not create one for 13th Age as well. And that is a goal of ours with our Patreon: having the resources to support this fun game.

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Skunkdrill

2nd level spoiler [beast]
Initiative +4
Claw, Claw, Bite +7 vs AC—7 damage
Natural 16+—The skunkdrill makes a stink spray attack as a free action
[Special Trigger]C:Stink Spray +7 vs PD (1d3 nearby enemies)—All skill checks to persuade others and to remain undetected receive a -5 penalty for the next 1d3 days


Nastier Special
Stinking Shock: Creatures hit by the stink spray are hampered until the end of the skunkdrill’s next turn.
AC 18
PD 16
MD 12
HP 36

5e Skunkdrill

As promised on Monday, we created the 5e version of the Skunkdrill, this mad combination of a skunk and mandrill is a perfect addition to any D&D 5e game. Need to make the rogue run for the hills? This monster will make them not taking their sneaking abilities for granted.

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Skunkdrill

Medium monstrosity, unaligned
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 91 (14d8 + 28)
Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.


STR 17 (+3) DEX 16 (+3) CON 15 (+2)
INT 3 (–4) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 7 (–2)


Skills Perception +4
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages
Challenge 3 (700 XP)
Actions




Multiattack. The skunkdrill makes two claw attacks.
Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d8 + 2) slashing damage.
Skunkdrill Stink (Recharge 5–6). A skunkdrill can spray a terrible odor from its rear. All those within a 15-foot cone must succeed a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or be coated with stink. Those coated with the stink suffer a –5 penalty to all Charisma (Persuasion) and Dexterity (Stealth) checks. All scent-based Wisdom (Perception) checks to find those coated with this stink have advantage. Nothing removes this stink except time and various magical or alchemical items. Left untreated, the penalty reduces by 1 per day. Using magical or alchemical items such as tomato juice or simply bathing with soap and water for an hour will also reduce this penalty by 1; these reductions can only reduce this penalty by 1 every day. When the penalty reaches 0, the stink is gone. Non-magical armor made from padding, leather, or hide as well as clothing permanently retains this stink; magical clothing and armor are immune to this effect.

PF 1e: Skunkdrill

When it comes to a new piece of new monster artwork, particularly one that is not in the core monster books for any games, it is funny just how much of a kid in a candy store I turn into. Take this image by Dean Spencer as an example. It was released Friday and I grabbed it that within an hour of seeing it. Later that night I made the Pathfinder and D&D 5e version of this monster. The 5e version will be available on the blog Wednesday.

If you enjoyed this blog post and others like it, be sure to back our Patreon. Picking up artwork for projects like this costs money and we ask that you help support us for only $3 a month. Your backing can help us to keep making blog posts like this for your enjoyment. So back our Patreon today. If you want our Pathfinder creations in PDF or print form, download our books from DriveThruRPG or the Open Gaming Store.

Skunkdrill CR 4

XP 1,200
CE Medium magical beast
Init +6; Senses darkvision 60 ft., scent ; Perception +10


Defenses


AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 14 (+2 Dex, +1 dodge, +4 natural)
hp 42 (5d10+15)
Fort +7, Ref +6, Will +3


Offense


Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
Melee 2 claws +9 (1d4+4)
Special Attacks stink spray (Reflex DC 14 negates, usable once every 1d4 rounds)


Statistics


Str 19, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 8
Base Atk +5; CMB +9; CMD 22
Feats Dodge, Improved Initiative, Skill Focus (Perception)
Skills Climb +12, Perception +10, Stealth +8


Ecology


Environment temperate or warm forests
Organization solitary, pair, surfeit (3–8), horde (15–25)
Treasure none



Special Abilities


Stink Spray (Ex) A skunkdrill can spray a terrible odor from its rear. All those within a 15-foot cone must succeed a DC 14 Reflex saving throw or be coated with stink. Those coated with the stink suffer a –5 penalty to all Diplomacy and Stealth checks.  Nothing removes this stink except time and various magical or alchemical items. Left untreated, the penalty reduces by 1 per day. Using magical or alchemical items such as tomato juice or simply bathing with soap and water for an hour will also reduce this penalty by 1; these reductions can only reduce this penalty by 1 every day. When the penalty reaches 0, the stink is gone. Non-magical armor made from padding, leather, or hide as well as clothing permanently retains this stink; magical clothing and armor are immune to this effect. The save DC is Constitution-based.

5e: Bitter Armor

I was working on some Pathfinder slayers yesterday, and I made a character that previously was swallowed. Let me tell you, if you’ve ever been swallowed, you want some kind of defense against having that happen to you again. Pathfinder already has armor to help prevent against that so I thought I’d convert it over to 5e (since it may be making an appearance in my home game).

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Bitter

Armor (light, medium, or heavy), uncommon

Any creature that grapples you with a bite attack (or any other attack using the mouth) must succeed at a DC 13 Constitution save to avoid immediately ending the grapple because you taste so terribly.

If you are swallowed whole, the swallowing creature must succeed at a DC 13 Constitution saving throw at the start of each of its turns that you remain alive inside of the creature or become poisoned for 1 round. If the swallowing creature fails two consecutive saving throws, the swallowing creature must vomit you up as their action.

5e: Cavern Elves

Drow are problematic. They are portrayed as dark skinned and evil except for the few that are brooding but good. I always feel that calling an entire race or subrace evil (outside of fiends) as lazy design. So when a player in my campaign said they wanted to play a drow but had some problems with them, I decided a rewrite of them was in order. I’m not just talking, “let’s make some adjustments and we’re good” situation. I’m more thinking, “let’s scrap it all and recreate elves that live underground that are not problematic. Enter the cavern elf.

Cavern Elf

The cavern elf subrace lives underground organized into family houses. Some are friendly, open, and maintain good trade relations with their surface-dwelling kin as well as dwarves, and gnomes. Others are insular, seeking to promote their own family over all others. Their skin tones range from white as salt, to grey as granite, to black as basalt with all shades of grey in-between.

Cavern elves know the value of teamwork and cooperation since one does not survive a cave-in alone. Their deities include the chaotic goddess of tight spaces, well-practiced maneuvers, and luck, Galiena, the good goddess of community, teamwork, and underground animals, Laurenii, the lawful god of stonework, runic magic, and writing named Arrenentae, and the evil god of secrets, vengeance, and unexplored places who’s name is only known to the most faithful but is frequently called The Vengeful Explorer.

Ability Score Increase. Your Charisma score increases by 1.

Cavern Magic. You know the dancing lights cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the faerie fire spell once per day. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Cavern Weapon Training. You have proficiency with rapiers, shortswords, and hand crossbows.

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I asked our very first Patreon supporter what kind of blog posts would they like to see. Their response was a series about the writing process. I think that that is a great idea. So in the Writing Process series of blog posts, I am going to take you through the various stages of writing some new game mechanic for what will ultimately be in a published product. Today’s will answer that all important question: where do you get your ideas from? We are going to look at these using the example of a warlock patron. So here are several steps that I do in no particular order.

1) Look at Official Sources

While there is no particular order to these steps, this one is either first or very early on. It is that fundamental. Before you even start thinking about what you should add to all the creative endeavors that world possesses, you need a solid understanding of what is already out there. Patrons from Wizards are so few, there is no excuse not to be aware of them all so you don’t duplicate your work or come up with something even vaguely similar. This is also true with their Unearth Arcana ones since you do not want someone saying, “I’ll just stick with the one from an official source.” If your idea is too similar to said official source, customers will not choose yours more often than not.

When it comes to the DM’s Guild and compatible publishers, there will be overlap. Just accept that. You will never be able to know all the warlock patrons (or whatever) out there in the world. Should you ignore them, no. Be familiar and do some searching, but doing too much searching or you will never get anything written.

So yes, I said many things you should avoid. But what about inspiration? A list of official warlock patrons can be found on the 5e Wikidot. The first question to ask yourself is, “What’s missing.” The list has quite a few that are dark and evil. A good character trying to do the right thing may take one of these for all the wrong reasons. What is far less covered are the light and the cheery. There are some, but far less and even they can be capricious depending on their mood. So how about flipping the motivation: having the right reasons but end up doing the wrong thing. That is an area of design space that official source do not cover well.

Being familiar with official material will also help you keep yours in line, both in terms of theme and power level. The three in the PHB are the Archfey, the Fiend, and the Great Old One. None of these are deities in their own right. So you don’t want to name yours Thor, as an example. He’s too powerful. However, there is nothing wrong with making a Valkyrie patron, or perhaps an Einherjar patron.

2) Search Other Sources

This one is more than just “surf the internet.” It also includes reading books and watching relevant media. Let’s start with mythology. Greek and Norse deities walked the Earth and routinely interfered with mortals, even giving some power. Classically in D&D these individuals are paladins, clerics or other champions of deities. But that doesn’t have to be the case, especially if you’re demoting the deity to simply a “powerful entity.” Take Odin for example. He doesn’t exist as a deity in the Forgotten Realms or other official campaign settings. But there is nothing saying that the “One-Eyed Seer” can’t be a powerful entity. While this is an obvious allusion to the Norse deity, it is different enough that it can added into a campaign with little difficulty and be in line in terms of power and theme.

3) What Do You Want to Write?

Always ask yourself, “what do you want to write?” It doesn’t matter if you have an idea for a warlock patron (or whatever) that no one else has done before. If you are not interested in writing it, don’t do it. Life is too short to do such a thing. Even worse, you won’t give it your all. Everything you write, you should give it everything you have, and you just can’t do it if you are just not interested in writing it. So decide for yourself what you want to create.

Going through this process, what will I be working on? I have a few ideas. The one I will be sharing at some point (probably as I write the next in this series) is the Crusadess. Why this one? Well like I said above, “patrons with good intentions” are sorely lacking. But I liked the spin of still doing the wrong thing. One who is on a Crusade can be described in such terms. Other sources I searched include the 13th Age Core Rulebook. Their Icons could be interpreted as warlock patrons. And frankly, I want to write it.

So there you have it. Three steps to help you get ideas for what to write. Support our Patreon to help us create more blog posts like these and download our PDFs from DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store, and if you play over Fantasy Grounds, we have downloadable modules at their store.

We at JBE are constantly hard at work at bringing you new products. So we don’t always devote the time we would like to updating our blog. Sure, we post previews of upcoming products or we talk about stuff that is in our current products, but we do not just create stuff for our blog as often as we would like. Oddly enough, these posts are some of our most popular. Take the 5 Questions series as an example. These 5 questions for each class help players flesh out their characters without much longer 50-100 question series that are elsewhere on the internet. These five questions tailored to each class help new players and veterans alike. Or how about our 3 Rules series. These are designed for game masters looking to start GMing or to start GMing in a new way. And then there is when we just like to post random stuff. Take the Baby Owlbear as an example. I came up with this for a campaign I was running last year at the start of the pandemic and I just decided to share that with everyone just because. It has become one of our most popular posts since.

Are the contents of any of these posts in books that we currently have for sale? No. Not one. We would love to create more just like these. Our solution is a Patreon. By financially supporting our Patreon, we can devote more time to blog, posting things for everyone. As a Patreon backer, you will get input into the kinds of blog posts that we create as well as our heartfelt thanks.

Support our Patreon and help us crate more gaming material to share with everyone.

I DM a D&D 5e game at home. It started off as a Lost Mines of Phandelver campaign with some Yawning Portal thrown in. But when Phandelver finished, I started them in on the Tomb of Annihilation. We finished that and the group is on the road to hunting down the rest of Acererak’s phylactories. The group has now two multiclass characters and one person that changed out a character for another. One went multiclass for story reasons while the other two did it because they were bored with the class as it was. Even then, I suspect the story provided the excuse for the player to multiclass because he was bored with his choices.

This brings me back to the days of 3rd edition where prestige classes abounded. Many remember prestige classes with hatred because WotC just published book after book filled with PrCs, but I remember them fondly and I think 5e could really benefit from them for many reasons. Here are my top 3.

1. They Provide High-Level Options Later in the Game

Fifth edition can be described as many things: approachable, easy to learn, a good mix of old school and modern. But the one thing it cannot be described as is having a significant number of character options beyond 3rd level. Sure you can choose to raise an ability score or choose a feat, choose a new warlock invocation, a new spell for casters, or a new subclass option if you selected a subclass with options at 3rd level, but that is literally it. There aren’t other class choices. So a 10th-level fighter wanting some different options adds a level of bard, for example, and gets a few cantrips, 1st-level spells, and an extra skill proficiency. Hideous laughter does not appear very helpful when the single-classed wizard can cast dominate person. A prestige class designed for higher level characters can add options that multiclassing with a base class at level 1 simply cannot.

2) They Can Be a Reward for the Story

Did your group slay a dragon? Being able to take a prestige class called Dragon Slayer would be a nice way to distinguish a character. Did you die and come back? A Deathwalker prestige class might be fun. Were you reduced to 0 hit points with fire? Why not take the Pyrowielder prestige class. This can make the actions in game have mechanical impacts at your table.

3) They Let Games Be More Flexible

According to the book, you gain your proficiencies at 1st level and that’s it. Some subclasses give extra proficiencies when you take them, but there are no other way according to the PHB to gain proficiencies beyond that. I have a houserule where every 4 levels, the players gain an extra proficiency with either a toolset, skill, or language. Multi-classing in bard or a few other classes give an extra proficiency, but that is about the only way to change things up at higher levels. So if no one is proficient in thieves tools, and you want to put a trap in your next dungeon, you’re either guaranteed for them to fail at disarming it or you have to remove it. So a prestige class could offer additional proficiencies. So when no one took Acrobatics and you want to make the group face off against ninja assassins, someone in the group will not be outclassed after taking the Roofrunner prestige class. Someone wants to own a tavern, they can take the Brewmaster prestige class and become proficient with brewing toolset as well as get better at fighting after repeatedly quelling a drunken mob.

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