Saturday, 26 October 2019

An OSR style XP chart for 5e D&D

Chart assumes standard monster XP, and XP for GP. Typical treasure should cap at Tier III level, ca 50,000gp/hoard, with Tier IV hoards being exceptional.

Level   XP
1           0
2      1000
3      3000
4      7000
5    15000
6    30000
7    60000
8  100000
9  150000
10 200000 'Name Level'
11 300000
+1 +100,0000 up to Level 20.

Magic Item Crafting
Rarity Minimum Level Time Cost
Common     4           2 days       200gp
Uncommon 8           7 days    1,000gp
Rare             12      31 days    5,000gp
Very Rare    16      92 days   25,000gp
Legendary   20   366 days  125,000gp

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Youtube Channels for a Gamer/GM

I'd recommend watching Youtube videos on topics of interest, generally NOT gaming videos. I get more from:

Scholagladiatoria - weapons
Shadiversity - weapons, castles, dragons, etc etc
Lindybeige - history, weapons, culture, etc etc
PBS Spacetime - space, astrophysics
Science & Futurism with Isaac Arthur - what it says
John-Michael Godier - space
Dr Becky (admittedly her cuteness may be a big factor!)  - space
PBS Eons (though it's pretty lowbrow compared to Spacetime) - evolution/paleontology
Overly Sarcastic Productions - history, mythology, tropes

Monday, 21 October 2019

5e D&D House Rule - Bonus Skill Proficiencies for high INT

This is intended to deal with the 5e D&D 'INT as dump stat' issue.

Bonus Skill Proficiencies for high INT

A PC may begin play with a number of additional skill proficiencies from their class skill list equal to their INT bonus.

ie 12-13 = +1, 14-15 = +2, 16-17 = +3 etc. Multiclass characters choose from their starting class skill list.

If INT is raised during play, additional class skills up to the bonus limit may be learned using the Downtime rules in XGTE, ie 10 weeks - INT bonus per skill.

It's intentional that very high INT PCs may max out their class skill list, then being unable to take additional skills. It favours Wizards and to a lesser extent Rogues, which I think is ok.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Changing battlemat scale from 1 square = 5' to 3 squares = 10'

This has several advantages in terms of plausibility, mobility, et al.
Base sizes stay the same, so a 1" base figure still occupies 1 square, now about 3.3', or 1 meter. For diagonals, count 1 diagonal as 1 (3.3'), 2 diagonals as 3 (10').
5' reach = 2 squares
10' reach = 3 squares
15' reach = 5 squares
20' range = 6 squares
30' range = 9 squares
Now 8 characters with 5' reach can attack 1 from adjacent squares as before, but an additional 3x4=12 can attack from the second rank, the target benefitting from cover (+2 AC). Still, a mob becomes a lot scarier without having to worry about any in-and-out dance!

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Running Paizo Adventure Paths, with reference to Skull & Shackles


Clarity & Presentation - Paizo write primarily for the reader on their couch, not the GM at their table. The material tends to be incredibly verbose, and often irrelevant to at-table play. I have learned over time how to treat the material as a buffet and not be bound by what's written down. Eg you get a great NPC with a few paras of backstory, who is "Remains in room - fights to death - suicides if captured". The GM can delete that last bit, take her out of her room, create links with PC(s), make her a cool part of their own campaign.

Balance - S&S is known as ridiculously deadly in the early chapters. There is a general issue that 3e/PF balance is very tenuous even to start with, without author 'errors'. I had a lot of trouble running Curse of the Crimson Throne in PF, with the 2 min-maxed PCs slaughtering everything with ease while the 2 non-minmaxed PCs were nearly helpless. I solved this by converting APs over to 5e and making/converting my own stat blocks, with the PF ones as a guide. This is pretty easy, certainly easier than using a multi-column PF BBEG stat block as written.
Re S&S balance in particular, I don't have an issue with most merchant ships being so outmatched they surrender immediately; pirates don't go in for fair fights! I think the main thing there is that pirating per se shouldn't take up a large amount of play time. In Queen of the Black Coast REH covers three years of pirating in a couple lines. The interesting stuff happens when things go wrong.

Minigames - Paizo are legendarily awful at these. My best advice is to ignore whatever mechanics they give you and run the situation the same way you normally would. Eg instead of a chase sequence mini game in Curse of the Crimson Throne, I used a battlemat of rooftops, and the standard rules for jumping, climbing etc. Players will thank you for this, trust me! Likewise, instead of a doing an actual tarot/harrow-card reading & trying to interpret the results, just improvise some suitable NPC dialogue from the reader suitable to the PC - "I see the queen & crown - there are great things in your future, Lord Zerda! But the snake means you must be wary..."

Overall, I find the better PF APs (prob including S&S) to be well worth using, but sadly they are probably least suitable for a new GM, and most suited to a very experienced GM who knows when to ignore instruction. For a newbie GM I'd recommend something like Adventure Anthology #1 at

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Running A Game of Thrones


I own the Song of Ice and Fire RPG by Green Ronin, but it doesn't seem very well suited to actually 'playing' the Game of Thrones. If I'm doing GoT I don't really want to play or GM a minor house squabbling with the minor house next door, I want to be playing the big cheeses, the major houses and the monarchy. Star Wars RPGs work because it's a big galaxy and your PCs can still do major stuff in the same universe as Luke Skywalker. It's a lot trickier in GoT and I haven't seen a great solution yet.

I guess a good approach might be: the PCs are from a junior branch of one of the major houses, and need to take it over when the canon characters are wiped out; so you more or less preserve the canon timeline up until a clear point of departure, then put them in an immediate crisis. This way the PCs get to interact with the canon NPCs and are not stuck in some bog in the Riverlands dealing with drainage in the lower field (which seems to be the kind of level the minor houses in Chronicle Starter are pitched at).

PCs could also be from several different major houses, which would give them each their individual stories running in parrallel with the official one, then a gradual divergence. In this case the GM would need to work with the players to ensure ties between the PCs.

One good thing is that the TV series cuts out so many characters, it is easy to take the TV series as your starting point then add back in characters as PCs! The TV series also shows how you can start with the books then deviate.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Campaigns & Campaign Length

From here.

I tend to track my #sessions and run longer campaigns, a couple years is typical.

Some recent campaigns:Loudwater (4e) 2011-2016, 5.5 years, 103 sessions, levels 1-29 & reached 30 at end.Follow on Princes of the Apocalypse campaign (same link) runs monthly and plan to go 36 sessions over 3 years, 2019-2021.
Primeval Thule I have run 27 sessions so far since January 2019, plan to run around 60 sessions over 12 months or so.
Varisia - Runelords of the Shattered Star so far 83 sessions since November 2015, but took a break in 2018 and switched from tabletop to online.Followed on from Curse of the Crimson Throne PF, 34 sessions Jan 2014-Oct 2015.
Nentir Vale 4e campaign 26 sessions 2017-18.
Karameikos Campaign (Classic) 25 months to January 2017.
Southlands Campaign (4e) 20 sessions 2011-12.
Yggsburgh Campaign (1e AD&D) was 45 online sessions. Wilderlands (online5e ) has run a few hundred sessions since 2015.1e Rise of the Runelords was 16 sessions online before TPK.
I used to mostly run 20-35 session campaigns in 3e, but with 5e I find it fits longer campaigns going the full level range.