The nice things about the long adventure books of D&D or Pathfinder Adventure Paths is that they make the brunt of the work of creating a long campaign off the GMs shoulders. You have a book in front of you; just do what it says comes next. The down side: the player characters are interchangeable. Standard balanced party, great. Party of clerics, all good. Three fighters and a druid, sure. As such, they can feel like the characters don’t have a connection to the campaign. They don’t feel their particular character is invested in the campaign. So what do you do?

1) Have The Players Describe a Connection

This one can be kind of cheap, but it’s effective, at least for the beginning of a campaign. Here you’re asking for characters to come up with a connection to the campaign through a common NPC. Make them all like the NPC or outright hate them; don’t mix and match. If you’re going for like, something has to happen to the NPC. If it is hatred, they’re banding together for revenge. Either way, this gives the group of strangers a reason to work together and begin adventuring.

Like I said, this one is cheap because either you’re solving this quickly and getting to the main campaign where you’re back to the original problem of characters being interchangeable or it’s a sizable chunk of the campaign, if not the whole campaign, at which point you’re back to the main problem. So how do you keep players feeling their characters are invested throughout the whole campaign?

2) Modify an Arc

Adventure Paths have multiple books, each telling an independent story that build towards the main story. Long campaign books are divided into various sections where the parts of the story make up the larger whole. You don’t need to do major rewrites to incorporate a character’s backstory and help them feel invested. Instead it can be as easily as renaming someone or adding some flavor to their backstory. A backstory describes a parent being murdered by a six-fingered person and stole a precious sword. Boom! The main bad guy of this section now has an extra digit and their weapon is familiar to the character. Someone is the last of their people? That is what the helpful NPC thought as well. Someone wants to reclaim a relic? Guess what the bad guy of an arc is wielding now.

3) Add a Side Quest

Between chapters of a long campaign or books in an adventure path is the perfect time for a side quest. Either write it yourself or use a short adventure module. Just make sure that it directly ties into the characters and their backstories. This is a fun way to give your players something directly relevant to their characters as well as reward them with some unique magic items and more. Plus it gives them a bit of extra experience, covering encounters they may have missed earlier, and it breaks up the main story line, giving the players some breathing room. It’s an all around win-win.

Check out all of our 3 Rules advice posts, and download our supplements at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store. Grab our supplements for your games online at the Fantasy Grounds Store.

5e: Screaming Bolas

So I absolutely love this artwork. It was created by Beatrice Pelagatti for a project that got cancelled for a number of reasons. So I am posting it here on our blog. We’re working on versions for this Pathfinder and 13th Age.

This post was made possible by our Patreon supporters. Join our Patron to support our blog and make more posts like this possible. While you’re at it, download our supplements at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store. Grab our supplements for your games online at the Fantasy Grounds Store.

Screaming Bolas

Weapon (bolas), uncommon

Created from two shrunken heads connected by a length of rope, when the wielder hurls the screaming bolas up to 60 feet and speaks its command word, it lets out a terrible shriek that burns the mind of all it passes nearby. All creatures within 5 feet of the line the bolas pass through must make a DC 13 Charisma saving throw, taking 4d6 psychic damage on a failed save, and half as much damage on a successful one. Whenever the bolas strikes a Large or smaller creature with a ranged weapon attack, the creature is grappled and takes 4d6 psychic damage. Additionally, the grappled creature must succeed a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be deafened until the end of their next turn. A critical hit does not increase the damage but instead knocks the target creature prone. Undoing the grappled condition on the creature requires an action. 

The bola’s property cannot be used again until the next day. Instead, it can be hurled as a magical bolas.

Book of Heroes: Heroic Fighter Archetypes DnD5e

One of the things I LOVED about third edition was all the racial options we had. There are so many that are rather imaginative and inspiring that I do not feel have been duplicated in the current edition. So I thought I would create a scratch-off-the-serial-numbers version of one of my favorites. So today I bring you grave gnomes.

Grave gnomes are named not because they they are close to the dead but because they are as silent as the grave. This is the human name for them. In Gnomish, their name for themselves translates to “the whispering ones.” They lack the jovial attitude that is associated with their more well known brethren. They can be single-mindly focused on attacking their enemies and defending the few they let in close. When they are not spying on their enemies they are sharpening their weapons and tending to their armor.

Grave Gnomes

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 1.

Martial Knowledge. Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to weapons or technological devices related to war, you can add twice your proficiency bonus, instead of any proficiency bonus you would normally apply.

Blending. When you attempt to hide, you can attempt to blend in with their surroundings. You gain advantage on all Dexterity (Stealth) checks for one minute. Once you use this ability, you cannot use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

This post was made possible by our Patreon supporters. Join our Patron to support our blog and make more posts like this possible. While you’re at it, download our supplements at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store. Grab our supplements for your games online at the Fantasy Grounds Store.

It is the Christmas in July Sale 2021 at DriveThruRPG. Act now to get yourself 15-25% off the titles you’ve been wanting. Nearly every JBE title is on sale. Let’s see what deals you can have.

Traveller 2e

On sale now that you should check out are titles like Solomani Worlds: Vehicles from the Rim where we bring you all kinds of new vehicles design for names near the homeworks of all humaniti, the Terra system. Running games near thr old Spinward Marches? Well, you’ll want Foreven Worlds: Ships of the Border Worlds as well as Creatures of Distant Worlds. Are you a player looking to make a character different from the core book? Snag yourself Foreven Worlds: Careers Beyond the Claw. Need a place to visit in your travels? Have them visit Foreven Worlds: Rusted Fang Station. And of course, how could anyone forget the D66 Compendium 2. This book is universally loved by Traveller referees and players alike. If you don’t already own it, you should grab it right now and find out why your fellow gamers love it so much. It was the first Traveller Aid Society book to be published and the first be a Gold Best Seller.

If you didn’t see a book of ours you’ve been wanting, check out our entire Traveller 2e category and grab it while it is on sale.

Virtual Tabletop Space Battle Maps

While we’re talking about SF, one of the things that Starfinder and Traveller players have been doing all pandemic is playing over Virtual Tabletops, like Fantasy Grounds, Roll20, and Foundry, and they’ve been doing their space battles with Star Battles Space Battle Maps. Now you can have epic ship battles on backdrops that will inspire you and your game. Fighting near a space station? We’ve got the space around a Commercial Space Station, Double Wheel Station, Asteroid Mining, Station and Galaxy, Huge Space Station, and a Station in Asteroids. Fighting amongst the asteroids? We’ve got an Asteroid Field, Large Asteroids, as well as a huge Planetoid.

All this is just the tip of the meteoroid. Find galaxy backdrops, nebulae, planets close up, planets far away, planets with moons, even a freaking red dwarf star. All of these can be found in the Virtual Tabletop category. All of these are normally $1, but you can grab them right now for only $0.85. That is 15% off their regular price. Grab all the space battle maps you want at a nice discounted price.

Pathfinder 1e

With the release of the Slayer Codex, the Book of Beasts: Character Codex Subscription just went up. If you missed it, it is now on sale for 15% off, making it cost less than it was it was available only last week. If you don’t own a piece of gaming history, the Book of the River Nations, now is the time to grab it. The ever-popular Book of Heroic Races Compendium as well as the Advanced Compendium are both 25% off. Playing one of the newer classes with one of these races? Then you need Occult Intrigue in the Wilderness. Grab it while it is at such a great price. Do you own the first Free RPG Day adventure funded by a kickstarter? Well, it is on sale now. Grab the Temple of Orcus today.

We have so, SO many Pathfinder titles that we can’t list them all here. But if you are still playing this game that we all love so much, look over our inventory in the Pathfinder 1e category, and treat yourself to so many highly rated titles now.

Do you play D&D 5e, 13th Age, Traveller 1e? These titles are on sale as well, including the original d66 Compendium. Download the titles you want while they are on sale. But hurry, this sale will not last forever. Head over to DriveThruRPG and download today.

With 20 new slayers coming your way in the Book of Beasts: Slayer Codex, you should see what we’ve got for you. Well, we’ve shown off several of the stat blocks of new NPCs, including the Fugitive Hunter, Poisoner, and Terran Enforcer. Now we want to show you some of the beautiful artwork we’ve got inside for you.

Download the Book of Beasts: Slayer Codex today at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store.

The Slayer Codex is part of the Book of Beasts: Character Codex Subscription. Join today and get this as well as the Warpriest, Magus, and Witch Codeces today at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store.

Images by Rick Hershey and Brian Brinlee
Image by V-Shane

Intelligent Melee Fighters and Deadly Ranged Combatants

Do your PCs need to hire a tracker that can deal serious damage? Does your upcoming session need someone that can bring the pain to the toughest members of the group utilizing unexpected tricks? Are you seeking ideas for the terrible power at the end of your campaign?

The Book of Beasts: Slayer Codex has the solutions you need, arming Game Masters of the First Edition of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game with the following:

  • 20 ready-made slayer characters, one for each level of play
  • Tactical combat recommendations for every character, helping you to quickly and effectively run the NPC in a fight
  • Personalities and details to give you ideas on how to use the characters both in combat and in roleplaying interactions

Populate Your Campaign With the Exact Character You Need!

Download the Book of Beasts: Slayer Codex today at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store.

The Slayer Codex is part of the Book of Beasts: Character Codex Subscription. Join today and get this as well as the Warpriest, Magus, and Witch Codeces today at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store.

5e: Bolas

I want to make a magic bolas for the 3 fantasy games we support, but first I have to mundane version, since it doesn’t exist for two of them. It already exists for Pathfinder, and 13th Age has rules for weapons for each class so it will just be a magic item. So here’s the 5e version.

Bolas (5e)

Bolas 2 gp — 1 lb. Special, thrown (range 20/60)

Bolas: When hit with a bolas, the target becomes grappled. If the hit is a critical hit, the target is grappled and prone. The target can use their action to free themself with a DC 10 Strength check. Alternatively, the target or another creature can deal 5 damage to the bolas (AC 10). Attacking the bolas in this manner deals no damage to the grappled creature. Bolas cannot grapple creatures that can move through narrow spaces like an air elemental or a grey ooze or are otherwise formless.

Be sure to join our Patron to support our blog, and download our supplements at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store. Grab our supplements for your games online at the Fantasy Grounds Store.

Check out the other previews of the Slayer Codex, like the Poisoner and the Fugitive Hunter

One of the key features of our Book of Beasts: Character Codex Subscription is that we include some of the archetypes in our builds. These amount to a quarter of the NPCs within involve one of the various archetypes.

The upcoming Slayer Codex is no different. One of those NPCs with an archetype is the level 10 Terran Enforcer. As a bounty hunter, this oread is well versed in capturing their target alive and dealing nonlethal damage. With the patience of a rock, they wait for the opportune moment to apprehend their prey.

The Book of Beasts Character Codex Subscription now includes the Slayer Codex. Download today at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store.

Terran Enforcer CR 9

XP 6,400
Oread ARG slayer (bounty hunter ACG) 10
LN Medium outsider (native)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +17

Defense

AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +3 Dex)
hp 79 (10d10+20)
Fort +9, Ref +11, Will +5
Resist acid 5

Offense

Speed 20 ft.
Melee +1 earth breaker +18/+13 (2d6+10/×3) or net +17 (entangle)
Ranged sling +17 (1d4+8) or net +16 touch (entangle)
Special Attacks incapacitate (DC 17), sneak attack +3d6 (6d6+6 when dealing nonlethal), studied target +3 (3rd, swift action)
Oread Spell-Like Abilities (CL 10th; concentration +8)
1/day—magic stone

Tactics

Before Combat The slayer studies the target and casts magic stone on their sling bullets.
During Combat Should the slayer act before their target, they strike with their earth breaker, using incapacitate, Bludgeoner, and Sap Master to deal a significant amount of damage and knock the enemy out. During subsequent rounds, the slayer works to get into flanking position with allies to land a sneak attack on their studied target. Whenever the target looks wounded, the slayer will use the net to entangle their foe, hoping to capture the target alive. Any fleeing targets get hit with sling bullets.
Base Statistics Without magic stone and studied target, the slayer has the following stats: Melee +1 earth breaker +15/+10 (2d6+7/×3) or net +14/+9 (entangle); Ranged sling +13 (1d4+4) or net +13 touch (entangle); CMB +14; Skills Knowledge (dungeoneering) +15, Perception +14, Stealth +19, Survival +14.

Statistics

Str 18, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 6
Base Atk +10; CMB +17; CMD 27
Feats Bludgeoner UC, Improved Initiative, Sap Adept UC, Sap Master UC, Stealthy
Skills Acrobatics +15, Climb +16, Escape Artist +16, Heal +14, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +18, Perception +17, Stealth +22, Survival +17
Languages Auran, Common, Dwarven, Terran
SQ dirty trick, slayer talents (fast stealth, surprise attacks), stalker, submission hold, track +5
Combat Gear sandals of quick reaction UE; Other Gear +1 chain shirt, +1 earth breaker UE, net (2), sling with bullets (10), belt of incredible dexterity +2, cloak of resistance +1, 120 gp

All of us GMs have been there. We create an encounter that we think will be a cake walk for the players and they roll terribly. Either that or they split the party and neither group can help the other. The question then becomes, “How does the GM same the party?” because we all know the players will never, EVER run away when they really, really should. The encounter balancing system of any game is not perfect, but 5e is notoriously bad, and the GM has to make adjustments on the fly. These three rules can save the characters’ bacon.

1) Remove Enemies From the Battle

Not long ago I sent my players to Hell. They were second level and pretty much spent for the day, but I wanted them to have a memorable experience. So I made a number of easy fights against weak devils that were chained to the slaves the characters were trying to rescue. I made sure to describe the slaves as non-responsive, like they were just following orders and otherwise not conscious of their actions. So one of the players tried to rally the slaves and have them fight back. All that did was get the attention of ALL if the nearby devils, instantly turning several easy encounters into one very deadly encounter.

So how did I rescue the players? I took some pieces off the board. That infernal boar there? It no longer has 25 hp. It now has 10. That imp over there, it uses invisibility on itself to get into a better position and never pops back out. All of the sudden, that encounter became much more survivable.

What else can you do? Have an enemy run away. Have an enemy hide and then make an escape through a previously undiscovered tunnel.

2) Have Some Reason for the Battle Other Than Killing

Unless the players are there for the express purpose of killing the other side, there is some goal in mind. The same is true for the bad guys. Is there some MacGuffin the characters are trying to keep safe that the NPCs are trying to steal? Add a rogue with mage hand or a wizard with telekinesis to grab the item and the bad guys retreat. When the goal is no longer there, the fight is no longer important.

3) “Invite” Them to Leave

Those of you familiar with Critical Role know a character dies pretty early on in Campaign 2. It was obvious that that battle went against the players. Had it continued, it would have resulted in a TPK. Instead, the leader of the bad guys told them to leave, saying he’s teaching them a lesson. They left, licked their wounds, got more help, and then came back to fight.

That was definitely a loss, but inviting the players to leave took them out of the battle for a moment, letting them assess their situation and make the right call. Yes one character died, but the others lived and the story continued. Don’t be afraid to kill off one or two characters; be afraid of the TPK.

Check out all of our 3 Rules advice posts, and download our supplements at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store. Grab our supplements for your games online at the Fantasy Grounds Store.

I’ve heard it said time and again that spell casters have all the fun, they have all the options. Well that just simply isn’t true. Today I want to show you one such example that proves the opposite. With today’s Slayer from the upcoming Book of Beasts: Slayer Codex, we’ve got one with plenty of options.

Check out the other previews of the Slayer Codex, like the Terran Enforcer and the Fugitive Hunter.

The Slayer Codex is a part of the Book of Beasts: Character Codex Subscription. Subscribers get the Slayer Codex as soon as it is released. Join today at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store.

Poisoner      CR 4

XP 1,200
Vishkanya ARG slayer 5
CE Medium humanoid (vishkanya)
Init +4; Senses low-light vision; Perception +9

Defense

AC 20, touch 14, flat-footed 16 (+5 armor, +4 Dex, +1 shield)
hp 42 (5d10+10)
Fort +6, Ref +8, Will +0; +5 bonus vs. poison
Defensive Abilities poison resistance

Offense

Speed 30 ft.
Melee mwk rapier +12 (1d6+3/18–20) or mwk rapier +10 (1d6+3/18–20), mwk short sword +10 (1d6+2/19–20)
Special Attacks sneak attack +1d6, studied target +2 (2nd, move action), toxic (swift action, 2/day, save DC 14, frequency 1/round for 6 rounds, effect 1d2 Dex, cure 1 save)

Tactics

Before Combat The slayer applies one of their poisons (whichever they deem appropriate) to their rapier. The slayer prefers to hide and study their target by blending into a crowd.
During Combat The slayer disguises themself as a nondescript bystander to get the first strike with a poisoned sneak attack, following up with more poison attacks using their toxic saliva.
Base Statistics Without studied target, the slayer has the following stats: Melee mwk rapier +10 (1d6+1/18–20) or mwk rapier +8 (1d6+1/18–20), mwk short sword +8 (1d6/19–20); CMB +6; Skills Knowledge (local) +9, Perception +9, Sense Motive +7, Survival +7.

Statistics

Str 13, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 10
Base Atk +5; CMB +8; CMD 20
Feats Seething Hatred (Human) ACG, Two-Weapon Defense, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse
Skills Craft (alchemy) +10, Disguise +8, Escape Artist +10, Knowledge (local) +11, Perception +11, Sense Motive +9, Stealth +13, Survival +9; Racial Modifiers +2 Escape Artist, +2 Perception, +2 Stealth
Languages Common, Undercommon, Vishkanya
SQ combat style (two-weapon combat), poison use, slayer talents (ranger combat style, swift poison APG), track +2
Combat Gear potion of barkskin +2, medium spider venom, purple worm poison, sassone leaf residue; Other Gear +1 chain shirt, mwk rapier, mwk short sword, portable alchemist’s lab APG, 45 gp