Category: GM’s Pick of the Day

We wrap up Play the Fifth Week with another official Wizards of the Coast release for the system, and a perfect bookend with the first PickDreams of the Red Wizards: Scourge of the Sword Coast directly follows up the events of Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle with revelations of other terrible unleashed upon the world. Those wishing to explore one of the wild, dangerous places of the Forgotten Realms will wish to delve deeply into the tales of this popular release.

Dreams of the Red Wizards

Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle chronicled the efforts of the Red Wizards to unlock the power of elemental nodes located in an abandoned temple dedicated to the Princes of Elemental Evil. A gate to the Nine Hells lay open for some time, spewing devils and smoke. The heroes who closed the gate could not know it then, but amid the chaos of battle, another threat emerged.

“Dreams of the Red Wizards: Scourge of the Sword Coast” (2014), by Tito Leati, Matt Sernett, and Chris Sims, is the adventure for Season 17 of D&D Encounters. It was released in February 2014 as a PDF-only book on DnDClassics.com

Continuing the Encounters. The D&D Encounters program saw major changes beginning with Season 15’s “Murder in Baldur’s Gate” (2013). That was the first D&D Encounters book that was produced for broad sale — and so could be played at home or in a store. The commercial production of the adventure allowed for a higher-quality product, and also let the designers provide more detail on the setting. “Murder in Baldur’s Gate” was also the first Encounters season to notably move away from the trends of 4e play: though support was offered for 3.5e, 4e, and D&D Next, tactical maps were no longer a part of the D&D Encounters adventure.

Season 16’s “Legacy of the Crystal Shard” (2013) followed these trends and made an even bigger change: the adventure was no longer separated into individual encounters; instead each D&D Encounters group could play it at their own speed.

Season 17’s “Scourge of the Sword Coast” continued the revamping of the D&D Encounters program. Where the previous two adventures were print releases, “Scourge of the Sword Coast” was the first D&D Encounters adventure ever that was produced exclusively in PDF form; however, it continued to be sold commercially, now through DnDClassics.com It was also the first D&D Encounters adventure to exclusively support D&D Next play.

Following a launch weekend on February 15-16, 2014, “Scourge of the Sword Coast” ran from February 19, 2014 to May 7, 2014.

About the Homage. The revamped D&D Encounters adventures weren’t homages to classic D&D modules, as was the case during the early program. Nonetheless, “Scourge of the Sword Coast” was somewhat reminiscent of B2: “The Keep on the Borderlands” (1979): characters met many classic humanoids (including goblins, orcs, gnolls, and duergar) in individual encounter areas.

Continuing the Sundering. “Scourge of the Sword Coast” continues “The Sundering”, a Forgotten Realms multimedia event meant to transition the setting to D&D Next. The Sundering was intended to “reshape” the Realms by banishing the realm of Abeir and ending the “Era of Upheaval” that began when Ao destroyed the Tablets of Fate in the first-ever Realms crossover, the Avatar event (1989).

The Sundering was also a part of the two previous D&D Encounters seasons, “Murder in Baldur’s Gate” and “Legacy of the Crystal Shard”, and a series of six novels beginning with The Companions (2013), by R.A. Salvatore. As with most of the other Sundering tie-ins, it’s a minor part of “Scourge of the Sword Coast”, mainly acting as a background.

Continuing the Story of Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle. Wizards of the Coast previewed D&D Next at Gen Con Indy 2013, which saw the release of Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle (2013), a book that combined the playtest D&D Next rules with a Forgotten Realms adventure set in and about the city of Daggerford. There, the Red Wizards of Thay sought four keys to free the Princes of Elemental Evil.

Though the Red Wizards (hopefully!) failed in Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, their story continues here as they bedevil Daggerford once more. To a certain extent, “Scourge of the Sword Coast” is a direct sequel to Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, continuing with some of the characters and the setting and exploring some of the repercussions of the earlier adventure. However, it can’t be run for the same characters, as Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle was meant to advance characters from level 1-10, while “Scourge of the Sword Coast” begins play at second level.

The Adventure Continues: The story of “Dreams of the Red Wizards” continues in “Dead in Thay” (2014).

Expanding the Realms. Daggerford has been a classic area for introductory Forgotten Realms play ever since the release of N5: “Under Illefarn” (1987). More broadly, the Sword Coast has been one of the best-detailed areas in the Realms since first-edition days. Thus it’s appropriate that Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle and “Scourge of the Sword Coast” return to this fertile land.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Yet another third-party setting that exploits the opportunities of D&D 5e for those seeking to Play the FifthKobold Press is a well-known and respected publisher that brings in top-notch talent, and Midgard scratches a lot of mythical and pop-culture itches all at once. Better still, you can readily take all the tasty stuff in this book and just expand your own 5e campaign with it!

The Flame of Heroes Brings Light to a Dark World!

Welcome to a world of dark roads and deep magic, where you can match wits with Baba Yaga, set sail for uncharted islands with minotaur corsairs, and face the fury of the giants in the icy north!

The Midgard Heroes Handbook for 5th Edition has everything you need to create a character for a 5th edition Midgard campaign, including full details on 11 new races and 4 variants on standard races. Roll up a trollkin barbarian, a ravenfolk fighter, a kobold rogue, and more.

You also get:

  • more than 48 new class options, including new bard colleges and paladin oaths
  • martial, ranger, and rogue archetypes—and new weapons and gear
  • a new druid circle and a dozen new cleric domains including Beer, Justice, and Moon domains
  • sorcerous bloodlines, new warlock pacts, and strange arcane traditions
  • 20 backgrounds from the Southlands to the distant North,
  • And nearly 300 new spells from the fan-favorite Deep Magic series, including shadow magic, clockwork magic, battle magic, rune magic and more!

The shadow roads are open, and the World Serpent stirs in its sleep. Adventure awaits the bold!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Today’s Play the Fifth Week Pick, another excellent 3rd-party product for D&D 5e from Onyx Path. It’s their Greek myth inspired Scarred Lands setting, giving you a chance to “play the Fifth” in a world where gods and monsters strive against one another in the aftermath of war and disaster on a cosmic scale. A highly-developed setting revised and updated for the most recent iteration of the World’s Most Popular RPG.

A Pathfinder version is available separately.

A Land Where Legends Walk

Drawing enthusiastically on Greek mythology, the revised and re-imagined Scarred Lands nonetheless retains its place as a modern fantasy RPG setting. This is a world shaped by gods and monsters, and only the greatest of heroes can expect to be counted among them. The most populous continent of Scarn, Ghelspad, plays host to vast unexplored regions, hides unsolved riddles from ancient cultures, and taunts adventures with the promise of undiscovered riches hidden among the ruins of older civilizations. 

Yet the myths of the Scarred Lands are relatively recent events. The effects of the Titanswar still ripple through the world, and the heroines and villains of many of these stories are part of living memory, if not still living. 

The Award-Winning Fantasy Setting Returns

Scarred Lands has been a favorite fantasy setting since the release of the Creature Collection for the d20 System in 2000. In subsequent years, over 40 titles were published for Scarred Lands, making it one of the most fully supported fantasy RPG settings ever and the premiere product line of Sword & Sorcery Studios. 

Now, Onyx Path Publishing and Nocturnal Media have partnered to bring this cherished fantasy setting back to your gaming table!

Begin your adventure with the free adventure Gauntlet of Spiragos!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Onward through Play the Fifth Week with a 3rd-party supplement loved by many. Ebonclad – A Thieves’ Guild Setting & Adventures is a top-rated product by Dan Coleman designed to let a GM and players fully immerse in a 5e-driven world of rogues and thievery. It’s designed to start characters as 1st level members of the guild, but the setting is detailed and rich enough to remain vital for long after… or to become an intricate part of a larger world.

We are the cogs which make the great wheel spin
We hold the strings tied to the marionette
Where pacts are drawn, we are the ink upon the parchment
Where ships set sail, we are the wind upon their masts
Where kings are made, ours are the hands holding the crown
We seek no glory
We hold no oaths
We take what is ours
We are the black at the edge of the darkness
We are the silence at the bottom of the abyss
We are the ghosts who tread the streets unseen
Those who call our names shall find only shadows in response
We are Ebonclad
We wear the night

Ebonclad is a thieves’ guild campaign setting for the 5th edition of the world’s greatest roleplaying game! 

Inside Ebonclad you’ll find:

  • 170 pages of setting lore and history, accompanied by lavish illustrations and short stories to bring the setting to life.
  • 7 adventures for character levels 1 – 4 GMs can use to introduce new players to the setting, or customize for use in their own campaigns. 
  • Tons of character options including new backgroundssubclassesfeatsequipmentpoisons, and spells
  • Tools for GMs to generate random citizens, valuables they may possess, the contents of their pockets or purses, and ways of determining how connected they are and how they’d react to witnessing crimes.
  • Dozens of new NPCs, from generic stat blocks for thieves in the Ebonclad guild or town guard, to specific characters living in the city.
  • primer on thievery, for characters who live the life of crime.
  • Over 30 random street encounters with different customization options a GM can use.
  • New urban chase complications specific to the setting.
  • More than a dozen encounter area maps saved as PNG files to print or use online.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Have you played D&D 5e yet? If not, it’s long past time you gave it a look. As the massive month-long Dungeons & Dragons sale goes on at DriveThruRPG, I’m declaring this Play the Fifth Week, with a focus on top titles from both Wizards of the Coast and others doing 5e-compatible stuff.

Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle is your perfect gateway into the system and the settings as WotC envisions them in this new era. Constructed as a “preview” under the banner of “D&D Next,” it’s a complete package to enable newcomers to get a thorough gaming experience with the 5th edition of the world’s most popular RPG. All the rules needed to play are in this adventure, along with pre-gens and the ability to level them up to 10th.

Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle is a D&D Next preview and mini-campaign comprised of four thrilling adventures, designed to advance characters from 1st level to 10th level. The book also contains everything a Dungeon Master needs to run the adventures, including D&D Next game rules developed during the massive public playtest, monster statistics, spell descriptions, magic item descriptions, and background information on the coastal town of Daggerford, where the campaign is based.

Against the backdrop of the Sundering, brave adventurers must protect the town of Daggerford against an insidious foreign threat while forging alliances, exploring dungeons, and battling monsters. The action moves from the Lizard Marsh to the orc-infested hills, finally culminating in a deadly altercation amid the crumbling ruins of the legendary Dragonspear Castle.

Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle includes pre-generated D&D Next characters, as well as rules for advancing these characters up to level 10. The book also includes the winning character sheet from our recent contest.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

 

I’ll close out Not Your Average Heroes Week with Chris Pramas’ take on the grim-dark world of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (2nd Edition). What makes this such a perfect fit (and capstone) for this week is the nature of the characters you start out playing in this game. You’re no highly-trained warrior or talented rogue or educated wizard. Granted, you may have some foundational ability there, but you are absolutely rock-bottom of your weight class, so to speak – barely an apprentice, desperate to survive against highly aggressive sewer rats.

Then again, maybe that’s all you are to start – a Rat Catcher. Or a Beggar, Herbalist, Labourer, Pedlar, or Servant. Seriously, the game is all about folks who have little-to-no reason to become outright heroes, instead just trying to make a meager living in a world where terrible forces clash with devastating consequences (and collateral damage). The “something happens” and you have to learn how to use your rat-catching abilities to fight something you hoped never to encounter… and off you go.

In Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, you are unlikely heroes in a grim world of perilous adventure. You venture into the dark corners of the Empire and deal with the threats that others cannot or will not face. You’ll probably die alone in some festering hellhole, but maybe, just maybe, you’ll survive foul Mutants, horrible diseases, insidious plots, and sanity-blasting rituals to reap Fate’s rewards.

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay is a complete game. All you need to play is in this book, some dice, and a group of friends. Inside these covers you’ll find:

• A quick system for character creation. You can make a character in less than half an hour and jump right into the game. 

• A simple yet robust set of rules that let you handle everything from social interaction to Chaos mutations.

• A unique career-based system of character advancement and over 100 careers – from Assassin and Bone Picker to Troll Slayer and Zealot.

• Complete rules for magic, cover both Arcane and Divine Orders and over 175 spells. Power can be had, but beware Tzeentch’s Curse!

• Details on the Empire and the Old World, from the social order to religion and belief. 

• A complete introductory adventure, Through the Drakwald. 

• A new short story by renowned Gaunt’s Ghosts author Dan Abnett.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

The Thursday edition of Not Your Average Heroes Week brings us to this interesting Pathfinder/OGL supplement designed around layering interesting things into your basic build. The idea in Path of the Reluctant Hero is to establish a background for a character who had no intention of going on adventures or saving the world, yet can draw upon just that kind of foundation to become something more.

From Humble to Hero!
Path of the Reluctant Hero provides over 80 amazing mythic path abilities and reluctant heroics to help build characters that may not see themselves as heroes, but whose sheer grit and determination can see them through any challenge. They will not bow or break, they will not give up on protecting the home and hope they hold dearest to their hearts, and they will never forget that what they are fighting for peace and freedom, home and happiness matters more than anything.
Whether your reluctant hero is a homebody or simple farmer, an orphan or retired hero, denier of destiny or a scoundrel with a heart of gold, you’ll find all manner of abilities designed to help you tap into unknown reservoirs of strength like rise to the occasion, unflinching, he ain’t heavy, and hold onto hope,  and may tap into the breadth of their experience with abilities like heirloom, one step ahead, or curse-bearer. A reluctant hero may get through with guile and luck with accidental observation, shot in the dark, lucky guess, and right place, right time, but she’s equally adept at applying the keen insights of everyday wisdom with common sense, learning by example, trusty tools, and ever practical. A reluctant hero may seem harmless due to abilities like obscurity, cautious, innocent bystander, and I’m getting too old for this, but when disaster looms a reluctant hero may snatch from death, use everything, or declare that’s not fair! or you shall be avenged! Whether your hero traces his roots to simple peasant life, long-faded glory, or a lineage that haunts his destiny, you’ll find a wealth of ideas to make your reluctant heroes truly legendary!

The Mythic Path series from Legendary Games looks to fill in the niches that are not quite served by the existing mythic paths, providing exciting new options for your mythic heroes and diabolical dirty tricks for your mythic villains, made by the same creative minds that helped build the mythic rules. Whether for heroes or villains, the abilities in these Mythic Paths offer a host of great new options for your mythic game, bringing fabulous flavor and imaginative mechanics with the standard of excellence in design that you’ve come to expect from Legendary Games. Pick up this supplement for today and Make Your Game Legendary!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Taking a different tack for Not Your Average Heroes Week, we take a look at the folks who step up to save the world in Eloy Lasanta‘s Apocalypse Prevention, Inc.. Average humans side-by-side with monsters and demons, teaming up to keep outside forces from blowing up the planet where they keep their stuff! They aren’t raiding dungeons or striking evil criminal organizations – they are “cancelling the apocalypse!”

Welcome to Apocalypse Prevention, Inc., thwarters of catastrophes, enders of end-of-world scenarios and defeaters of doomsday plans. 

Join the fight to protect Earth by enlisting in API, a worldwide company whose only mission is to stop anyone or anything who wants to harm our world. Humanity doesn’t fight this battle alone, as monsters and demons have given up their lurking to serve the alongside the company. This is their home too!

Each API agent (20 playable races) is armed with the tools for the job. Some become adepts, followers of traditions teach 18 Paths of customizable magic. Some go under the knife to enhance their body with one of over 30 Cyberware implants. Some master combat training from one of 10 types of Fighting Styles. Most agents wade the waters between these three extremes, taking advantage of the almost limitless combinations of powers at their disposal.

Powered by the the Dynamic Gaming System 2.0 (DGS2.0), every mission is filled with excitement and drama, and every battle is immersive! All you need is 1d20 and an imagination to jump into the action. Includes plenty of character creation options, antagonists to battle and an in-depth view of our modern world through the eyes of Apocalypse Prevention, Inc.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Not Your Average Heroes Week continues with this Powered By the Apocalypse gem, Night Witches. Very real women banded together, went up in completely outdated and barely working airplanes to drop bombs and heavy junk on German forces invading their homeland in World War Two. This is a game wherein you are immersed in who they are, what they did, and how they lived as they struggled to survive.

This is gaming taken to someplace very new and important.

There was a night bomber regiment in World War Two composed entirely of women. Natural-born Soviet airwomen.

These 200 women and girls, flying outdated biplanes from open fields near the front lines, attacked the invading German forces every night for 1,100 consecutive nights. When they ran out of bombs they dropped railroad ties.

To each other they were sisters, with bonds forged in blood and terror. To the Red Army Air Force they were an infuriating feminist sideshow. To the Germans they were simply Nachthexen—Night Witches.

Night Witches is a tabletop role-playing game about women at war. As a member of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment, you’ll answer the call of your Motherland in her darkest hour. Can you do your duty and strike blow after blow against the Fascists? Can you overcome discrimination and outright sabotage and rise above your sexist comrades? Are there limits to patriotism—or endurance? Play Night Witches and find out!

Night Witches requires 3-5 players, who will take turns in the role of game master during the game. It can be played for a single two-hour session or expanded into a literal campaign following the Regiment across the entire Second World War. Either way, you’ll tell an epic tale of heroism and sacrifice that honors the women who did it for real.

The game is based on Vincent Baker’s brilliant Apocalypse World and is heavily modified from that core to meet the demands of Night Witches. We also took inspiration from the many offshoots already on tables everywhere—Dungeon World, Monsterhearts, Sagas of the Icelanders, and others.

In play you will alternate between day and night, with unique moves for each. Days are about renewal and interpersonal conflict, and nights are about hair-raising bombing missions on historically accurate targets across the Soviet Union, Poland, and, in the end, Germany. Missions are crazy dangerous and you have to make hard choices constantly. And when they end, a whole new kind of danger is waiting back at the airbase—paranoid secret police, sexist Red Army officials who want you to fail, and chronic supply shortages are just the beginning of your troubles!

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

This week, I’m going with the theme of Not Your Average Heroes Week. An exploration of “the little guys,” the reluctant adventurers, and “normal” people called to do extraordinary, abnormal things. The recently-released Arecibo launches the theme with a group of kids dealing with supernatural and otherworldly threats, themselves becoming more than they expected in the process. The beauty of this product is its celebration of Puerto Rico (and Evil Hat is donating profits to help in the ongoing aftermath of the devastating hurricane that swept through the region earlier this year).

Enter the all-too-timely world of Arecibo…

Everyone on the island knew that something was amiss when the power went out. In the municipality of Arecibo, frogs and crickets fell quiet, bringing stillness to the night. Slowly but surely, the children started to understand that something far worse than animals dwelled in their tropical paradise. When the island is abruptly blockaded by US Armed Forces, it is up to them to determine what has gone wrong when no adult will listen, and perhaps stop the very end of the world. In the far reaches of space, something stirs in response to the Arecibo message. Deep in the giant caverns of the island, something else answers. Stranger Things and the eldritch meets Puerto Rico in its darkest hours in Arecibo, a Fate World of Adventure by Nicolas Hornyak.

Arecibo requires Fate Core to play. This 43-page supplement includes:

  • Streamlined rules to make young characters, including guidelines on appropriate aspects, skills, and stunts
  • Essential background information for running games set in Arecibo, a city on the north coast of Puerto Rico, complete with drop in locations for your games
  • Transmogrification rules in Fate to define the process of character change from a normal human into an instrument of eldritch power
  • Alternate dimensions—and their inhabitants—reachable through Arecibo
  • A complete starter adventure: The Wow Child

Author Nicolas Hornyak wrote Arecibo to honor his Puerto Rican roots in the days before Hurricane Maria, and Arecibo’s stories are now more relevant than ever. Evil Hat will be donating profits from our 2018 sales of Arecibo to the UNIDOS Disaster Relief and Recovery Program organized by the Hispanic Federation.

In Arecibo, somos fuertes. We are strong.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!