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.

Pathfinder: Shadowsfall Symbols and Map Fonts

This past weekend, the map arrived for the first Shadowsfall campaign that we are hard at on work. I would love to show you the full map, but we are still putting names on everything. There is one part of the map that I am able to show you right now and it is the legend. In the picture above, you can see all the symbols of places in the area. It shows everything from villages and towns all the way to the stronghold at the center of the campaign: Blackbat.

There is another reason why I am showing you the legend. It is because I would like your help deciding on the font we should be using for the map. It is difficult because we want it both stylized and easy to read. If it is not easy to read, then it fails at its main purpose as a map. However, if we go with something that is obviously a modern font it will pull your mind out of the immersion of the world. So we are looking for the right balance.

Some of the fonts there are modern fonts simply to have a baseline. Others are more stylized. Take Ruin for example; that font is the same font that we used for the Shadowsfall logo.

Tell us which font is your favorite in the comments below.

The Not Going to PaizoCon 2019 Sale! is going on now. Grab our PDFs at 60% off their regular price at the JBE Shop.

Not Going to PaizoCon 2019 Sale!

They Pathfinder Fans, It is that time of year again!

To put cucumbers in our ears?

No. It is time for the Not Going to PaizoCon 2019 Sale! This year is going to be amazing because every Pathfinder PDF we produce that is over $2 is 60% off the regular price and it is exclusively at the JBE Shop. To make it easy for you, we put all of our products that are on sale on its own page.

So if you have been wanting the $10 PDF of the Book of Heroic Races Compendium, you can now download it for only $4. That is one heck of a discount that you do not want to pass up. We’ve got monsters, NPCs, and spells from $1.18, playable races from $1.58, and Adventures from $2. Even the Book of the River Nations is available for only $2.38.

You do not want to pass this up. It lasts until the end of PaizoCon so while you are waiting for any spoilers from the convention, download these PDFs and enjoy yourself now. Check out the Not Going to PaizoCon 2019 Sale! at JonBrazer.com now.

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.

Pathfinder: Grave Hulk

It is another Shadowsfall Friday. Today, we bring you a monster straight from the brain of Richard Moore. He wrote this one for his home game sent it over to me to send off to you. If you use it in your game, buy him a drink if you see him at a convention.

As always you can find more awesome monsters like this for your game in the Book of Beasts: Monsters of the Shadow Plane at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store.

Grave Hulk CR/HD 9

Init –2; Perception +17 (darkvision 60 ft.)
Size Large (10 ft.); Speed 30 ft.


Defenses


AC 25 (touch 14, flat-footed 19); Fort +10, Ref +10, Will +10; CMD 29
hp 126


Attacks


Melee 2 claws (reach 10 ft.) +17/+17 (2d6+15)
Attack Options (DC 16) awesome blow, energy explosion (1/day, 20-ft. radius, 1d6+9 slashing); CMB +15


Statistics


Str +7, Dex –2, Con —, Int —, Cha +4
XP 6,400; NE undead


Special Abilities


Absorb Corpse (Su) As a move action, a grave hulk can grab the body of an unconscious Medium-sized or smaller living creature at less than 0 current hp, automatically dealing claw damage to it. If the creature dies from this blow, the grave hulk absorbs its body into its form, gaining 4 temporary hit points per hit die of the absorbed creature.

A grave hulk is formed from dozens of dead bodies, their putrefying flesh and bone twisted by necromantic magic into a vaguely humanoid form that stands some ten feet tall. It reshapes its body as it moves, manifesting new claws and limbs seemingly at random and even discharging bone shards in destructive showers when surrounded by foes.

Although a grave hulk can be made out of approximately 25 corpses via create greater undead, most grave hulks either occur naturally in areas suffused with extreme levels of negative energy or are constructed in rituals that profane the culture or religion of the dead whose bodies will comprise the creature.

In combat, a grave hulk prefers to use its awesome blow in conjunction with its superior reach to keep foes at bay, instinctively discharging its energy explosion ability whenever three or more enemies are within its radius of effect. It is not smart enough to distinguish friend from foe in most cases, however, so poorly-worded instructions from its master could have disastrous consequences for a novice necromancer who attempts to control one.

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.

Pathfinder: The Shadowsfall Elevator Pitch

Every setting should have what is called an “elevator pitch.” If you never heard the term before, it is a quick speech that a writer/producer can pitch to a producer during an elevator ride. It should quickly telegraph exactly what kind of stories you are going to tell in the setting. Just take a look at your favorite TV shows and movies and you can quickly figure out what the elevator pitch was. *Spoiler Warnings* MASH: A bunch of doctors in an army field hospital work to save soldiers and civilians. When they are not working, they are bored out of their skulls and occupy themselves with relationships, practical jokes, and writing letters home. Star Trek: The voyagers of the starship Enterprise are on a 5 year mission to explore strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations. Together they boldly go where no human as gone before. Marvel Cinematic Universe/Avengers: The adventures of Earth’s mightiest heroes. They are each a force powerful enough to deal with serious dangers. However, when they encounter something so powerful that none of them can stop it alone, they put aside personal differences and team up for the good of the world.

This is also true for role playing games. Take the Pathfinder Campaign Setting as an example. The elevator pitch is basically a setting where each country has their own flavor allowing for just about any kind of story to be told there. The god of humanity died when he was foretold to ascend to even greater power. Now the world is in an age of lost omens where prophesy no longer works reliably. How about Eberron? Its elevator pitch is a high magic society run amok. Various magical wars have left some of the landscape barely hospitable yet the people have access to magical equivalent of modern tech such as street lights and high speed transportation.

The obvious question is then, “What about Shadowsfall?” Of course we have an elevator pitch. Here it is. A lich very nearly took over the world when he decided to take on the sun goddess and destory the sun. The after the goddess’ death, the gods destroyed the lich and his phylactories, leaving the undead a leaderless horde. You are one of the survivors, beating back the masses of zombies and skeletons while trying to reestablish civilization.

So how does that pitch make it different from more stand RPG settings like a Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, or Pathfinder? In these settings, a common source low-level violence involves raiders, be they human, elf, dwarf, orc, goblin, kobold, gnoll, or whatever. An adventure jumps off from there because the raiders took something and you have to get it back. In Shadowsfall, that source of low-level violence is a horde of skeletons and zombies. Since these can’t take something (unless controlled by an intelligent creature), adventures go in a different direction. Are there too many zombies? You have to get everyone to safety. Do they all bare the markings of the orc tribe your village trades with? You have to go and investigate. Do all the skeletons bare the same arcane symbols to reanimate them? Someone is actively raising them and you have to go find out who and stop them.

Another source of adventure in most campaign settings is delving into ancient ruins looking for treasure. In Shadowsfall, you’re trying to steal food from ancient fields and orchards protected by constructs that can no longer tell living from undead or from fey growing magical mushrooms that can feed anyone that submits to their whims. Political campaigns in standard settings revolve around taking down a corrupt city ruler and getting the backing of the powerful NPCs to install an honest person. Shadowsfall political campaigns involve getting humans, elves, and gnomes, to coordinate their efforts with orcs, hobgoblins, and trolls and getting them to see that working together will help for the greater good.

The Greater Good. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

What about high level campaigns? Your standard campaign settings frequently fall back on 4 different sources of danger (mixing and matching as desired): giants, dragons, the planes, and undead. Well, one of these is kind of obvious for Shadowsfall. Undead are definitely there. The question then becomes, who or what is the power behind the undead. Is it a powerful wizard or sorcerer that wants to unify the worlds under their rule? Perhaps it is an archkyton that want to keep the people afraid of the undead enough to submit willingly to their torture? Maybe it is a fey lord trying to clear her lands of undead and inadvertently sending them to the mortals? Maybe a construct machine that has seen all the fighting the living and undead have wrought and decided to wipe out the source of the undead by eliminating the living. The possibilities are endless. Sure you can have an undead only campaign but you need a reason behind them or else it will become boring fast. You need to have a conscious mind with clear goals and that is where all the other creatures come in.

Shadowsfall is shaping up to be a fun and exciting place to adventure in. We hope you will join us.

Download all of our Pathfinder RPG books at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store.

Traveller: A Universe of Monsters

Foreven Worlds Creatures of Distant WorldsNow that tax day as well as a few personal days is behind us, I am getting back into the groove of working on at JBE full time again. Today I am sharing with you something I wanted to post right when the book first came out. Today I am sharing with you the full table of contents of the Foreven Worlds: Creatures of Distant Worlds so you can get an idea of exactly what you are getting with this book.

This book has more than 60 monsters for your Traveller game, yet it has only 17 monster entries (18, if you count the benchmark appendix). How did we do that? We have more than one monster per entry. Some of these monsters have young, adult, and elder version of these creatures. Others have completely different creatures under the headings. Take spiders for example. We have stalking spiders and web spinners as well as giant version of each. Imagine a spider that can take 105 damage! I know I don’t want to, but it is the book. How about psionic plants. We have pyroplants, siren plants and telekinetic plants. That is not something you see every day on planet Earth. How crazy do our monsters get? How about a blog of living magma? Is that crazy enough for you?

Are you looking for a pet? I would recommend one of 5 varieties of dogs we have in the book over the three varieties of gorallians or psirats we present you. Snake fans may enjoy the young sand cobra but by the time it grows into a terror sand cobra, they may consider releasing it to the wild. A shock lizard may make a fun pet, but I would not let a giant shock lizard near the electronics. All of the creatures in this book can be found above. Download this book now exclusively at DriveThruRPG.

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