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.

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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

As we’re working on the Book of Beasts: Slayer Codex, I keep thinking about the next project. To the completely honest, the next one is going to be the Solomani Worlds: Kurland Cluster for Traveller since that has been sent off to the editors, and we’re hard at work on the Book of Beasts: Arcanist Codex so that won’t be long behind. Then there’s an unnamed 13th Age project we’re not ready to talk about yet. At the moment, however, I’m thinking long term. What is our next major project, the one that will come after the Character Codex Compendium? One that comes up in my mind is a possible Encounter Codex.

For those of you unaware, the name Encounter Codex is one we won’t use since it references a book that Paizo talked about doing towards the end of PF1 but never materialized and there may be legal issues around using such a name that I’d rather just completely avoid. But the basic idea still holds.

The real question is what kind of book would this look like? One idea we’ve had is a list of random tables with monsters listing. Below is a sample table of what it might look like. Roll on the d100 table, and use the corresponding monster. If there’s more than one of a given monster, it is listed in parentheses. Lastly, the B number in parentheses lists which Bestiary the monster is in. This is far from a final list (i.e. it excludes the various codices, combos are only involving monsters in the same book, some monsters were left off the list, etc.), but it is enough to give you an idea of this specific version that we’re considering. Also, this is only CR 1 for underground monsters. If we did this for a book, we’d be doing this for each CR level for the 10 terrains listed for a ranger’s favored terrain, excluding the planes. The various planes would be a different book entirely, if we did one.

What do you think about this? Let us know in the comments below. If you want to see more proposed Pathfinder books or proposed book for any other game systems as a blog posts, join us on Patreon. For only $3/month, you can have input into what kind of blog posts we should post and what kind of books we should explore. Also download our book at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store.

d100CR 1 Underground
1Akaname (B5)
2-3Akata (B2)
4-5Amoeba Swarm (B2)
6-7Amoeba, Giant (B2)
8Beheaded (3) (B4)
9Beheaded and Isitoq (B4)
10Boilborn (B4)
11-12Cave Scorpion (B2)
13Celedon (B5)
14-15Clockwork Spy (2) (B3)
16Dark Dancer (B4)
17-19Darkmantle (B1)
20-21Dire Corby (B3)
22Dossenus (B4)
23-25Duergar (2) and Fire Beetle (B1)
26-28Duergar (3) (B1)
29Ectoplasmic Human (2) (B4)
30-32Fire Beetle (3) (B1)
33-34Flumph (B3)
35Formian Worker (2) (B4)
36-37Ghost Scorpion (2) (B3)
38-40Ghoul (B1)
41-42Giant Flea (2) (B4)
43-45Giant Spider (B1)
46-47Goblin Snake (B3)
48Grioth (B5)
49-50Gryph (B2)
51Hobkins Gremlin (2) (B5)
52-54Homunculus (B1)
55Isitoq (2) (B4)
56-57Jinkin Gremlin (B2)
58-60Kobold (4) (B1)
61-63Mite (4) (B1)
64-65Mongrelman (B2)
66Nuno Gremlin (4) (B5)
67Pickled Punk (B4)
68-70Skeleton (3) (B1)
71-73Skeleton and Zombie (B1)
74Skincrawler (2) (B6)
75-76Skulk (B2)
77Small Aether Elemental (B5)
78-80Small Earth Elemental (B1)
81-82Small Mud Elemental (B2)
83-85Spider Swarm (B1)
86-88Svirfneblin (B1)
89-91Troglodyte (B1)
92Undigested (4) (B5)
93-95Vegepygmy (2) (B1)
96-98Venomous Snake (B1)
99-100 Zombie (2) (B1)

I recently played Pathfinder 2e and picked up the Core Rulebook and Bestiary. I mentioned this in the Fans of Jon Brazer Enterprises Facebook Group and someone mentioned that the RPG market is oversaturated. I’ve heard this argument before, but this time it got me thinking. Sure the businessperson in me says that the law of supply and demand should end games without sufficient demand, but a different thought in my head said that the basic statement isn’t true, that the market isn’t oversaturated, and that is what I want to talk about today.

I don’t believe the “market” is oversaturated because the market is not one single market. Take 5e for example. The game is a simple game, relative to more crunchy games like 3.0/3.5 or Pathfinder 1e/2e. While not the fastest-paced game on the market, it is so compared to many others available. And for being a 7-year old game, the core company (yes, I am excluding compatible publishers like myself as well as the DMsGuild) has put out very few supplements. So if you are a gamer that wants a crunchier game, one that supports substantially more options for your character, and has tome after tome that you can just sit on your couch and read through, you are not in the 5e market. You’re in a market like Pathfinder. Do you want a science fiction game with limited to no magic, you’re in neither of these markets. You’re in a Traveller market. Were this all one market then the rules-light D&D 5e game could temp a Pathfinder player to switch with relative ease. The fact that that does not happen as often as say the canned soup market means that these are essentially different markets.

That all brings me back to the question, “Why do we play the games we play?” Thinking about that, I realized that that question is far more difficult than at first glance. Take the game I ran last year with my daughter and her cousins. We’re in different locations so it was over Fantasy Grounds. They’re all new so I wanted a simple game that was easy to teach, the book had to be easily available for everyone to read when they weren’t gaming, and I wanted to run it with them having only the core book (so no supplements as requirements). For that game, 5e was the game that fit our group.

Compare that with my home game consisting of all adults. Again, we’re playing over Fantasy Grounds since we’re not all local. While we’re playing 5e, I am not convinced that this game is the right fit for us. Several players are bristling against the simplicity of the game. One player traded in their character for another because the class offered too few options and another comments to me that the game simply has too few mechanical options for their character. There are only so many ways you can say, “you gain advantage,” before it no longer gives you the stimulation you are looking for. For us, we might be switching markets to Pathfinder 2e, or something else perhaps.

Having said all that, 5e was the right game when we got together. Maybe it isn’t now. I’m not sure yet. But we play the games we play to get the enjoyment we are seeking. For some a mechanically simpler game is ideal. For some and entirely different genre is better. So saying that the market is oversaturated does not do it justice. It doesn’t recognize the complexity of the “market.” Each game provides its players something they are seeking, something they enjoy that can’t be found in a different game.

Why do you play the games you play? Tell us in the comments below. We would love to hear your thoughts.

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Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium

If you haven’t heard, the price for the hardcover of the Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium is going to be going up on July 1st (printing costs). So until then, we’ve got it for 25% off the regular price. So I thought I would just take a few moments today to reflect on this awesome book.

What I realized was that picking my favorite race was like picking my favorite child. I just can’t do that. Well, okay I can because I only have one child, but you know what I mean.

Catfolk, I will always have a special place in my heart for this race. I mean I’m a child of the ’80s. I grew up watching the ThunderCats. If I want a rogue or a ranger I reach for a catfolk.

If I want a cleric with a better melee attack than most I’m pulling out a tengu. Bonus, the Gifted Linguist ability lets them evangelize to everyone they encounter.

Well I don’t normally mix science fiction with my fantasy, the android race is exceptionally well built and works well as a sci-fi mix in.

What can I say about wyvarans? You get to play a dragon! Need I say more?

When I want a race with a monstrous connection and temptation of dark powers, I am reaching for a changeling. This fun race speaks to power and corruption as a central point about the character with a troubled past.

Speaking of a monstrous connection, the gillfolk do this for an underwater, but these has the added benefit of being the humans of the environment. For a race with a history of abuse by another, gillfolk do this well.

Sticking with underwater for a moment, the merfolk are the elves of the sea. As someone who grew up playing a number of elves, this race appeals to the child in me, while still being new and unique.

Another race with a dark connection and a history of abuse, the wyrwoods have a long memory of what their abusers have done. Even better, their abusers are mages, instead of a monstrous race.

Playing a werewolf can be difficult mechanically. So when I’m looking for that same experience in a game, I reach for a skinwalker. This race carries much of the same flavor and feel while still being mechanically balanced.

Some people say that the psionic races are difficult to understand. That does not hold true for the elans. This human-of-the-psionics world is easy to understand and a real joy to play.

I know many people that don’t feel like they belong in the body there in. Either that or they feel like they are out of time or simply do not belong here. When I want to play this aspect in a game, samsarans are my choice of race.

Lastly, we have the lizardfolk. This scaly, misunderstood race of noble savages is one with nature more than anyone else here. Lizardfolk are what many druids or shamans wish they could be.

Do you love all these races as much as I? Are there any others you want to see delved as indepth as we had in the Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium? Order your copy of this book before the price goes up at DriveThruRPG.

We asked our first Patreon support what kind of blog posts they wanted to see. Their response was a series on the writing process. Previously, we talked about where we get the core idea from. Today we are developing that idea into a full usable draft. Like last time, we are using the example of a 5e warlock, one we’re calling the Crusadress. We decided last time that this patron has good intentions but with a spin of doing the wrong thing. We’ll see how that changes as we go through our steps.

1) Describe Each Core Concept in a Few Words

Before we make this a big pile of random, we need a solid idea of all the Crusadress’ core concepts. As we said above, “doing the right thing” is one as well as “doing the wrong thing” is also apart of that. While I could tighten up that last concept to something like, “for the wrong reasons” or “goes about it the wrong way,” I am intentionally not doing so. When creating player-faced material, you have to keep it loose for individual interpretation. If this was for an NPC, I would most definitely pick one of them as a core concept. However, player material needs room for different character concepts. Saying, “this is the one right way to play this material” is the worst thing you can do. That would be like calling a fighter a “defender” without leaving room for an archer, a Dex-based finesse fighter, and so on.

Next core concept is “blind dedication to a cause.” “Hitting first and asking questions later to never,” is another solid idea. You can deep doing this for a while, but it is best to limit the core concepts to three or four. We’ll stick with these four.

2) Create Abilities that Match Concepts

Warlock patrons get 4 class abilities and a total of 10 spells across 5 levels. Spells are an easy place to start. When I hear “doing the right thing,” I think paladin. So let’s pick some spells from the paladin spell list to give to our warlock patron. Branding smite is definitely going to be picked, if for no other reason than it is the only OGL smite spell. As a result, we may end up creating some new smite spells, but we’ll work on that later. Heroism is another good choice since a lack of fear fits well with both doing the right thing and blind dedication to a cause. So is detect evil and good, banishment, and dispel even and good.

When I think of “doing the wrong thing,” I think warlock. So lets add a few spells. Enthrall is a solid choice. Hellish rebuke is a good for “wrong thing” as well as “hitting first.” However, we already choose two first-level spells. That’s ok. Right now having too many options is a good thing; we can make cuts later. Vampiric touch has a very “ends justify the means” vibe which is another way of saying, “blind dedication to a cause.

The question now becomes, how do you turn these concepts into class abilities or spells for empty spell slots. Well let’s go back to the Core Idea blog post and use “look at official sources” principle. The core book’s first level warlock abilities include charming/frightening someone once per short rest, bonus hit points when providing the final blow on a creature, and telepathy with a creature you can’t otherwise understand, XGtE has two additional cantrips + a healing pool, a curse + bonus proficiencies + the ability to attack with your Charisma modifier instead of Str or Dex.

So some of these recreate a variation on a spell (charm person, fear, vampiric touch), so varying up a spell and toning it up or down for 1st level. Bless fits the concept of “doing the right thing” and “hitting first and asking questions never.” I specifically didn’t choose that in the spell list because that spell has its routes purely in the divine. So let’s vary it up some. How about instead of blessing people, you “bless” attacks against a creature you attacked? This could be something like, “All attacks against the creature roll an additional d4 and add the number rolled to the attack roll.” This will need some verbage about not stacking with bless. To balance it against similar first-level abilities, you’ll need to use a bonus action to activate it after hitting said creature with a spell or weapon attack and can’t use again until after a short/long rest. Solid idea, it encourages coordination with the party since everyone should be ready to make attacks against the big bad, the basic concept is already familiar, but it is different enough to be special. Use the same process for creating new spells, but here you have to consider which classes can cast it by default.

When you’re done here, you should have a full spell list and all the abilities in a rough draft version. Here is where you…

3) See What Other’s Think

Show the mechanics and core concepts to other game designers and people you trust (like your home gaming group). Let them give you feedback based on how they read it as well as playtest it. Is one ability far too powerful or utterly worthless. It takes a whole lot of eyes on something to see whether it is a good idea or not, more than you have alone.

Please note, I said above that you are showing the mechanics and core concepts, not the final version of the thing. Simple reason: everything is still subject to change at this point. EVERYTHING. If no one agrees that one of your core concepts and all associated mechanics works with the rest, the core concept associated mechanics have to be kicked out of the thing. When that happens, either you have to create new mechanics based on the remaining concepts or add a new concept and create new mechanics. When you have a consensus that what you have is on point and balanced, then you are ready to move on.

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As I write this, I am sitting in a metal tube several miles above the surface of the Earth. No matter how many times I do this, I still find it amazing. I know all the physics involved, but that still doesn’t make it any less a wonder of the potential we can achieve when we put our brightest minds and the most daring among us together. There needs to be a deity to just that thing. Frankly, I can think of no one better than Daedalus.

For those of you not familiar with Greek mythology, Daedalus strapped on a pair of wings made from feathers and wax and flew to escape the tower he was imprisoned in. While the story is a celebration of innovation and daring, it is also a cautionary tale as well, as his son Icarus flew too close to the sun, causing the wax to melt and he fell back to Earth.

With all that in mind, what would a religion based on such a deity look like?

Daedalus

Chaotic Good Hero-Deity of Artificial Flight, Daring, and Ingenuity

Followers of Daedalus believe in understanding the natural world and look to create mechanical ways to emulate them. Chief among these inspirations is the ability to fly like a bird, run as fast as a horse, and haul as much as an elephant, however, this is hardly an exhaustive list. Also among Daedalus’ followers are those daring enough to try such inventions and see if they work.

Daedalus has a strong following among gnomes. Even those of their kind that do not worship him still respect him and will offer up a quick prayer before trying a new invention out. Other races with a sizable following for the hero-deity include humans, dwarves, goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds. The goblinoid and kobold followers go hand in hand as the hobgoblins create the new invention and the goblins and kobolds are more than willing to try. Kobold inventors may be less successful, but they still try hard.

The holy symbol of Daedalus is a pair of feathery wings. Followers are hardly commanded to but still frequently keep a feather on them somewhere. Most often this is in the hair or in a hat, but followers of Daedalus are an individualistic lot and feathers can be found anywhere and in any quantity on the faithful.

While followers of Daedalus are stereotypically the friend that is up for anything (the crazier, the better), they also heed their deity’s warning for they do not want to end up like the son of the deity before ascending to godhood. Proficiency with mechanical tool sets are taught among the faithful and they check the working of anything the device they are not familiar with, both to see how it works as well as to make sure they feel it is safe.

If you enjoyed this minor deity and would like to support us in our creative efforts, join our Patreon. For only $3/ month, you can help bring more posts like this to life. Join today. Also download our PDFs at DriveThruRPG and the Open Gaming Store.