Announcing the Book of Heroes

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

1) It Makes It Easier for You to Recognize

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

2) It’s Less Confusing

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

3) It Gives Us More Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you in advance.

5e: Updating the Awesome

Yesterday, we rereleased Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider in PDF for Fifth Edition. The original was our first adventure we released for 5e and I think it deserves a mention as to why. The answer will give you a better picture as to who we are, the way we approach game design, and where we are going from here.

First some history. When we first released Along Came a Spider, there was no OGL or DMs Guild for 5e. If you were releasing products for 5e, you did so hoping you wouldn’t get into legal trouble with WotC. You had to be sure you were right, legally speaking. You had to know what you were doing or that might be the last thing you published. If you remember, the playtest lasted two years and it look another two years for the 5e SRD to be released. Add to that their slow release schedule. While it helped them sell books, it meant that if you didn’t want either of the adventures they released that year, you had no other options. So it was in that environment we decided to go ahead and publish for 5e without a net, so to speak.

Along Came a Spider was designed to be both a Pathfinder release as well as a 5e release. It was written by Joel Flank–a freelancer I trusted as being excellent with Pathfinder and like me and some of my editing crew switched to 5e during the playtest. We loved the new game and wanted to be apart of it right away. Heck, our adventure Rescue from Tyrkaven was written during the playtest and was converted to Pathfinder when some license wasn’t released for it right away, but that is a take for a different day.

When it came to making it a 5e module, we had a number of hurdles about which we had to make tough decisions. Everything from the monster stat blocks to the use of advantage and disadvantage had to be discussed. Ultimately, we decided to go with a Pathfinder-inspired monster stat block since we were using the Pathfinder OGL as our base. Doing so, however, meant that our monster stats did not look like 5e stat blocks. While not a big deal as all the stats were 5e stats and not Pathfinder, it was a barrier to using our module effortlessly. A core philosophy in our modules and any other GM-related products we create is to make the GM’s job easier. We decided that the benefit of a GM having the option of another module to choose from outweighed any barrier of having the monster stat blocks and similar legal hoops we jumped through to make this safe. When we decided to redo this module, fixing the monster stat blocks and similar barriers was at the to of our to-do list.

Then there is the issue of layout. The original version of Along Came a Spider appears almost identical our Pathfinder version. Having run far more Pathfinder modules than 5e modules at that point, I was quite use to having monster stat blocks right in the text and did not like having to flip to the back of the book for all the monsters. Since that time, we have heard from many 5e fans that said they prefer having their monsters in the back. Since those early days, I’ve run more 5e modules and I must say I like having all the monster together when I am running a module from a PDF because it means I can print out the monsters and not have to print out the adventure along with it.

There is one other major difference in this version over the original: a third map. Our budget for modules back in those days was pretty low. We had just enough for only two maps. We decided the maps should cover what we felt were the most critical and visually appealing fights. Ultimately, we decided to not have a map for the final few fights since they were in caves, figuring a cave map is pretty easy to come up with. All the reviews and comments we received concerning Along Came a Spider mentioned the lack of a final map and I knew that if we ever revisited Thai adventure, this would be one of the things we addressed. I am happy to report, those final fights have a map that we can be proud of that will inspire GMs and players in these final moments.

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

5e/Pathfinder: The Pit of Eternal Torture

Last year, I shared my thoughts on an alternate take on the planes of law and chaotic evil. I always intended to get back and describe the rest if the planes, but I got distracted and never finished. Well, I thought I would take a few moments and jot down my thoughts on the lawful evil plane, or as I like to call it, the Pit of Eternal Torture.

Let me just state that I am doing this because I feel that angels, demons, and devils shouldn’t be in a fantasy realm. I prefer facing something without the real world mythology bleeding in. This way I can flavor it as best fits the story as well as experiencing the joy of creating something new. And when it comes to kytons, there’s lots of room to create.

Kytons, also called chain devils in some versions, believing in giving pain and not just oppressing the damned in their charge. They believe in following the rules and that rule breakers are to be savagely and severely punished. If you are healed, it is only so you can continue working for them. Kytons do not just take pleasure from pain but from the resistance of the mind’s resistances crumbling. They do not only want to beat their followers (also known as charges), but to break them as well.

When a kyton is done with you, you should not be able to see a world outside of them.

People that willingly submit to a kyton’s will have many reasons: they offer strength in troubling times, they make the world seem simple by categorizing everything as good and bad (which their charges understand as pain free and painful), and they demonize anyone and anything that is not for them. To those that see the world as dangerous, siding with such a powerful force seems attractive.

In reality, the kytons make the world a far more dangerous place. However, their followers do not see that infact they are helping to make the world more dangerous. By excluding anyone that disagrees with them, it is easy for the kytons to manipulate their charges into working to cause the very dangers that the kytons say they can save people from. This way, the kytons claws are clean while they sow pain and oppression into the world.

Kytons work in darkness. The light of truth can undo their work. It is for this reason that kytons prefer a dark world. Every kyton works to spread darkness throughout the world. So when their charges can see nothing except the kytons as the solution to their problems, this bother literally and figuratively the case.

Be sure to follow the JBE blog for more on my take on the planes and those that dwell within. Maybe next time I’ll write about one of the good ones.

Shop after the JBE Shop during the Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sale where you can grab all of our Pathfinder PDFs for 75% off.

5 Questions Every Bard Should Be Able to Answer

“Why did you think going into the dungeon and singing at the monsters was a good idea?” Let’s just agree that the idea of going into a deadly location armed with a tune is silly concept, at least at first glance. Yet, no one will hear of the hero’s exploits unless someone that is skilled at retelling the tale of heroic is there to witness them. In so doing, they have to know how to stand their ground and meet dangers head on. So it makes sense that they would use what they are best at to full effect.

To help you flesh out your character, we have 5 questions for you that you, as the player of the bard should be able to answer through your character’s eyes. If you prefer to play a fighter, cleric, or monk, we have 5 questions for them as well. So lets begin.

1) How Long Have You Been Training?

Anyone can move to music. Anyone can pick up an instrument, blow on it or pluck a string, and make noise. Anyone read words on a page while changing pitch. These, however, are not the product of years of training, dedication, and long hard work. That is what you have done. Day in and day out you played your lute until it comes to you as easily as breathing. You strengthening certain muscles while hammering your dulcimer, carrying your tuba, lifting your trombone again, and again, and again. Imagine what it was like, being a child on stage performing your dance routine and years later still performing. Not only are you good, you are captivating, enthralling, mesmerizing, inspiring. Your performances are quite literally magical. What were those long days like? Did you enjoy them or were they downright torture? This is actually the perfect intro to the next question…

2) Why Did You Start Training and Keep Training?

First off, why did you start? Did it seem like fun? Did you try it out and liked it? Were you forced by your parents for some village or clan festival? Trying it is one thing; continuing it is another. Children are notorious for trying something and stopping the moment it gets hard. So why did you stick to it? Did you tell your parents you wanted the instrument, they got it for you, you were unhappy when it got hard and your parents made you continue after they spent the money for it? Did they tell you how proud they were of you for doing so? Were you determined to earn someone’s approval by playing hard? Were you trying to emulate the local performer? What made you keep going when it was hard?

3) How Did You Learn a Bit of Everything?

Bards may not be experts in any one area, but they are darn good at just about everything. They may not be front line fighters but they know how to use a number of weapons well. They may not have the spell breadth of a wizard, but they do have a solid number of spells. Their skill selection is diverse. How are you so well educated, so much of a jack of all trades? Did you get sent to college or did you go to the school of hard knocks? Was far more expected of you than most others or were you naturally gifted at learning anything you were shown once. How are you so good at everything?

4) What Drives You To Be Better?

While this answer should always be, “To be better than I was yesterday,” what fun is there in that? If anything this is a great end point for your character—coming to a point where you are in competition with no one but yourself—but not a good starting point. This is a point of professional conflict with your character. Are you trying to be better than someone you consider your equal, that started around the same time as you, but got all the recognition that you feel you deserve? Perhaps you want to be just like your hero, the one person that got you into performing in the first place. Maybe you have this idealized version of yourself and you are forever striving for it but never attaining it. Over the course of the campaign, you should come to terms that you are only in competition with yourself, and talk to your GM about wanting to explore this in the campaign. Maybe your rival or hero can play a part in the campaign and your character can find a kind of peace when they finally see the truth of the situation. This will make your character engaging long after the campaign is over.

5) What “epicness” does your current group of companions present?

If you are going to tell the tale, sing the songs, perform the scene of the exploits of your character and their adventures, their deeds should be worthy of tales, songs, and plays. Maybe they haven’t done anything yet, but you see the spark inside them. What is it that makes you believe in them, and how does being with them make you believe in yourself more?

Sharem is our signature transman samsaran bard. He remembers himself playing instruments and telling tales in previous incarnations and started playing to connect with his former lives. That is what kept him practicing year after year growing up. Today he is more of an actor than a musician. He makes his performances showy, using his whip whenever possible to swing over the audience. He uses similar showmanship when in the dungeon as well. By keeping the monsters’ attention on himself, his companions can take them down with ease.

Sharem and his fellow adventurers are on the cover of the adventure Deadly Delves: The Gilded Gauntlet. Download this Pathfinder book today using coupon code “holiday2017” to get 30% off this and everything else at the JBE Shop now through January 31, 2018.

5e: Snapping Skulls Trap

For today’s weekly monster, we’re not showing off another monster but a trap. Traps are a apart of the tradition of D&D and, while different than monsters, should very much apart of D&D encounters. These help keep players on their toes and make a regular fight with monsters that much more dangerous if the floor beneath their feet opens up and you effectively lose one of your team for the combat.

Traps don’t have be as simple as a pit with spikes in the bottom. They can be as complex as some of the encounters in The Goonies. In truth, the kids in that movie encountered only traps, except for the three bad guys. Traps can be highly entertaining and downright fun when done right.

Today we are sharing with you a trap from the recently released Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin adventure. We hope it finds a good home in your game.

Snapping Skulls Trap

Magic trap
This trap is activated when any non-dragon, non-lizardfolk, or non-kobold living being enters the northern hallway of Floor B. The skulls set in the walls of the hallway begin to chitter and snap, and their empty eye sockets glow with a sinister red light as they stretch forth from the cracked mortar to gnaw at passersby. Every round that a living being meeting the above criteria remains in the hall, they must succeed at a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw on initiative count 20 or take 11 (2d10) piercing damage and 11 (2d10) necrotic damage. (Note that because a successful save does not halve this damage, the Evasion feature does not affect the amount of damage dealt for any creatures who possess that ability).
A spell or other effect that can sense the presence of magic, such as detect magic, reveals an aura of necromancy emanating from the hallway.
The snapping skulls trap can only be disarmed by purifying the cursed fountain in the northeastern chamber of Area B2. A successful DC 18 Intelligence (Arcana or Religion) check is required to identify the ritual herbs needed to purify the fountain, which can be found in Area B3. Once the components have been identified and collected, completing the ritual takes 10 minutes, but requires no further checks to perform successfully.

Download Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin at JonBrazer.com to get more traps for your Fifth Edition game.

5e: Conjure Fey

Today we come to the final conjure spell. Previously, we discussed conjure animals, conjure celestial, conjure minor elementals, conjure woodland beings, and conjure elemental. As always, let’s read the spell’s text:

Conjure Fey

6th-level conjuration

Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: 90 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour

You summon a fey creature of challenge rating 6 or lower, or a fey spirit that takes the form of a beast of challenge rating 6 or lower. It appears in an unoccupied space that you can see within range. The fey creature disappears when it drops to 0 hit points or when the spell ends.

The fey creature is friendly to you and your companions for the duration. Roll initiative for the creature, which has its own turns. It obeys any verbal commands that you issue to it (no action required by you), as long as they don’t violate its alignment. If you don’t issue any commands to the fey creature, it defends itself from hostile creatures but otherwise takes no actions.

If your concentration is broken, the fey creature doesn’t disappear. Instead, you lose control of the fey creature, it becomes hostile toward you and your companions, and it might attack. An uncontrolled fey creature can’t be dismissed by you, and it disappears 1 hour after you summoned it.

The GM has the fey creature’s statistics.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 7th level or higher, the challenge rating increases by 1 for each slot level above 6th.

This spell is quite similar to conjure elemental except it requires a higher level to cast, but it also brings a higher level creature to the table. In fact, it brings a of equal CR to one you could call upon with the conjure elemental spell if cast at the same level. This stands in sharp contrast with conjure celestial in that it uses a high spell slot that this spell requires but conjures a lower level creature.

Enough analysis of the spell itself, how about the creatures that can be summoned? Well, everything that you can bring to the table with conjure woodland beings as well as conjure animals plus:

6th-level: Ankylosaurus (dinosaur), triceratops (dinosaur), green hag, night hag, giant crocodile, giant scorpion, giant shark, killer whale, mammoth
7th-level: Giant ape
8th-level: Tyrannosaurus rex (dinosaur)
9th-level: —

I will admit that when I was preparing the list of conjurable creatures for this list, I missed that it allowed beasts as well. So my original list of creatures was just the green hag and the night hag. I couldn’t believe that the list was this short so I went back and read it again and discovered that it allowed beasts as well. That different saved the spell. It goes from 2 summomable creatures to 11. Just like conjure elemental, you do not have any creatures you can summon using a 9th-level spell slot, but at least your hero has 7th- and 8th-level options with this spell.

Speaking of your hero, choose an exciting races for your character today. Download the Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1 at the JonBrazer Shop now.

5e: Conjure Woodland Beings

Now that we’ve covered the lowest level conjuring spells for the three classes that can summon assistance. First we covered conjure animals. Then we skipped to the highest level conjure spell: conjure celestial. Last week we talked conjure elemental. Today we talk the next logical step up from conjure animals: conjure woodland beings. First let’s take a look at the spell itself.

Conjure Woodland Beings

4th-level conjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (one holly berry per creature summoned)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour

You summon fey creatures that appear in unoccupied spaces that you can see within range. Choose one of the following options for what appears:

  • One fey creature of challenge rating 2 or lower
  • Two fey creatures of challenge rating 1 or lower
  • Four fey creatures of challenge rating 1/2 or lower
  • Eight fey creatures of challenge rating 1/4 or lower

A summoned creature disappears when it drops to 0 hit points or when the spell ends.

The summoned creatures are friendly to you and your companions. Roll initiative for the summoned creatures as a group, which have their own turns. They obey any verbal commands that you issue to them (no action required by you). If you don’t issue any commands to them, they defend themselves from hostile creatures, but otherwise take no actions. The GM has the creatures’ statistics.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using certain higher-level spell slots, you choose one of the summoning options above, and more creatures appear: twice as many with a 6th-level slot and three times as many with an 8th-level slot.

So what precisely can you conjure with this spell? Well, from the MM, you can summon:
CR 2: Sea hag
CR 1: Dryad
CR 1/2: Pixie, satyr
CR 1/4: Sprite, blink dog

Like conjure celestial, the list of creatures to magically bring to the table is remarkably thin. Even then, a sea hag is going to not be a desirable creature to be summoned many players, it being chaotic evil.

That means that this spell has much needed room for expansion as far as creatures to conjure. Be sure to come back to JonBrazer.com every Wednesday for new monsters, some you can conjure with spells like conjure woodland beings or the other spells we are covering in this series. Support our efforts to cover spells like this and other exciting articles by downloading Deadly Delves: Doom of the Sky Sword for your Fifth Edition game today at JonBrazer.com.

5e: What Levels Need More Adventures?

I’ve asked this before for Pathfinder. Now that we are trying to ramp up our 5e production, it is a solid idea to find out what levels of adventures you would like to see. I know many would like to say, “All levels,” but we do not have the resources to do adventures for levels 1 and 20 at the same time. Where do you feel we should we focus our energy. Share your thoughts with us and share this poll with your friends today.

[poll id=”2″]

Download all our Deadly Delves adventures for 5e today at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store.

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