Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Adari or the power of Cosmos

I started playing D&D in the mid 90’s, with the AD&D 2E ruleset. It was—of course—a blast, like it did for most of us who started playing as teenagers. In those days also, the Saint Seiya cartoon was running in my country for the first time, and we were all—as good teens—crazy about it. So, my DM created this overpowered rules he called Cosmo, of course inspired from the cartoon. D&D plus Saint Seiya, what could possibly go wrong? Needless to say, the game went into crazy town, but it was epic and funny as hell.

Nowadays, as I’m trying to do serious game design and my players wanted to play epic levels, I revisited my friend’s idea and give it a more balanced and modern form with the 5th edition rules, trying to keep the original spirit. First thing of course was to rename the power, and thus the Cosmo became the Adari.

The Adari is fit into my own campaign setting, with its own cosmology and gods, not set into the classic D&D multiverse. However, is a concept that can easily be imported into any Epic D&D campaign, with little or no changes needed.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Stranger Things, and back again

New Netflix series Stranger Things is all over our social media circles right now. And when I say "our" I mean us, the role-playing gamers. So here I am, returning from a really long hiatus, writing again about this strangers things we love!

I knew nothing about the show until I opened my Netflix account the day it premiered and saw it there on the home page. I sometimes put series on while working on my computer—I have two monitors set up—so I clicked it with no expectations and thinking of using it just as background noise while I worked.

What a big surprise!

The first couple of minutes I saw this typical lab scene where something has gone terribly wrong and poor "Scientist Number 1" dies a horrible dead. OK—I thought—seen it before. So I kept working while watching. But next, there are these kids playing D&D in a basement and, obviously, that instantly caught my attention! I stopped what I was doing to focus on the scene, and I cracked open with laughter!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crafting and D&D

Dwarven Forge dungeon tiles
A few weeks ago I opened the Pandora's Box of D&D Dungeon Crafting... yes I'm now doomed, because —let's admit it— as with dice, you can never have enough dungeon terrain for your table top gaming.
I've been looking —for a while now— at those gorgeous images of 3D dungeons people post in table-top gaming forums. I'd also pondered —for a while too— about buying some molds (Hirst Arts seems to be the staple) and start working on my very own 3D dungeon tiles.
But two things had been stopping me from buying them, a) I'm not sure the required materials are easily acquired in my city (I'm from Mexico), and b) I'm sure I won't have enough time to do all the cool things I would like to do.
Another option could be to buy pre-made sets, like the ones made by Dwarven Forge, but a) my budget is already thin enough gaming-wise and b) do I need to mention a point b)?
Nonetheless, this is a part of the hobby that's been flirting with me since the mid 90's, when I used to buy at my local magazine store the White Dwarf issues printed in Spain, just for the cool pictures and crafting tips, even if I couldn't get any Warhammer minis at that time.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ravenloft for Halloween

Halloween is coming once again, and this year I finally got to DM the legendary I6 Ravenloft module, the one that started it all.

At first I wanted to run it using the original 1st edition rules, but I've never played that edition and for time-frame reasons (too much to read and learn) I've decided to go with 5th edition, which is the edition we're currently playing. I also wanted to play it as a 1-shoot since we're currently in the middle of another campaign. But some of the players begin to ask when we'll be starting it, and because I've been wanting to run this classic a good 10+ years ago, I've decided to savor the pleasure of having Strahd play cat and mouse with the helpless PCs for more than one session.

And indeed I'm savoring it. Castle Ravenloft it's a beauty and the myriad of paths the players can take makes it really alive. Also the Fortunes of Ravenloft add an extra level of excitement to the gaming sessions (not to mention the re-play value).

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dark Sun: The Gladiator

The Fighter class in the world of Athas is pretty much unchanged, the only thing was to remove the Eldritch Knight from the Martial Archetypes options, and to compensate I created the Gladiator as a Martial Archetype.
Some people suggested me doing the Gladiator as a completely separate class of its own. But I think that would be redundant. I was even tempted to use the Champion archetype and just change the name to Gladiator because it kind of fits. but in doing so, I was leaving the rest of non gladiator fighters with no option but the Battle Master.
So I worked on the new archetype. I looked at some of the gladiators from previous editions. The one on the original 2E box didn't had much to choose from, and the prestige class from 3.x was too dependent on the crowd cheering up. I somehow implemented that in one of the features, but also added the ability to impress the enemies, in case there's no crowd around—no, the party does not count as a crowd!
So here it is, my take on the Gladiator of Athas, as a Martial Archetype.

EDIT: I just changed the previous Favored Weapon feature for the Pit Fighter feature, to make it feel more like the original box gladiator.


The life of a gladiator is brutish and brief, but it is the one occupation a slave can hold that also brings respect. Gladiators are heroes to the common people. Their trials and victories are the stuff of legend, and many slaves grow comfortable from the accolades their conquests bring.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Dark Sun: Feral Classes

The barbarian an the druid classes didn't required much changes. Just some renaming and tweaking for flavor sake.

The barbarian totems for example, since there are no wolves, bears and eagles in Athas, I had to look around for beasts with similar qualities. The Klar is literally a big nasty bear, so the choice was easy. The Dagorran (as presented in 4E) is a tracking beast that hunts in packs, so very much like the wolf, specially the benefits provided by the wolf totem. Finally the eagle was a hard one, I could not find a bird of prey besides the Kes'trekel, which is more a carrion bird. I really don't like it for a totem, but for now I'll leave at that—perhaps later I'll work a new totem from scratch based on an Athasian beast.

Regarding the druid, I gave the circles a little name tweak, and created new circle spells lists, more appropriate for Athas peculiar geography. I was tempted at first to use just four types of terrains: the Tablelands, the Sea of Silt, the Ringing Mountains and the Forest Ridge—I guess someone can try this simpler approach and use the desert, coast, mountain and forest spell lists, respectively. But I rather worked on the types of terrains presented in the 4E Dark Sun Campaign Setting book. Some of the spell lists may seem repetitive, because the differences are subtle. My three main focuses when creating the lists was theme, traveling, and survival in each particular terrain. Let me know what do you think.


Brutality is a way of life in Athas, as much in some of the cities as in the dwindling tribes of Athas’ harsh wastes. Nibenese sages claim that the potential for savagery is in every sentient race, and the history of Athas seems to support their claim.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dark Sun: Elemental Cleric

Clerics in the old Dark Sun® setting were quite peculiar. This was a setting without gods, so the designers substitute the worship of the gods with worship of the elemental planes—and of course worship of sorcerer-kings, but that's another class entirely.

Back then, the cleric spells were arranged in spheres, the grand grand fathers of today's domains, and elemental clerics had major access to their elemental sphere, and only minor access to the cosmos sphere. What does minor access means? Well... it means they only had access to 1st-3rd level spells. So no cure serious wounds, no heal, no raise dead and no resurrection! Dark Sun was a deadly gritty place to live in.

To reflect that lack of major healing magic, I'm thinking in removing some spells from the cleric list, and to compensate I'm giving more domain spells. If you don't want to remove spells from the basic cleric list, just give domain spells up to the 9th cleric level, just like in the PHB®.

Also to compensate this lack of healing, I'm giving the water cleric some healing powers, as they had in the Earth, Air, Fire and Water supplement.
In everything else I tried to emulate the existing divine domains. Let me know what you think about them.

Athasian Cleric

The cleric is a free-willed priest, tending the needs of the local people with his particular talents. On Athas, clerics draw their magical energy directly from one of the four elemental planes: earth, air, fire, or water; not from any manner of deity.

Class Features

You get all the class features from the Cleric class as presented in the PHB, unless noted otherwise.


As presented in the PHB, but replace Religion skill for Nature.

Elemental Domain

The Divine Domain feature is renamed as Elemental Domain. The four elemental domains available to you are Earth, Air, Fire or Water. Each elemental domain is detailed at the end of the class description. Other than that, this feature works as presented in the PHB.