Monthly Archives: July 2020
We spent last week presenting the base of the Mascot class for 5e. Tuesday we laid out the concept and framework for the Mascot class for 5e, Wednesday we presented the Domestic Companion option for that class, Thursday we presenting the Inspiring Failure class feature, and Friday we presented the Torchbearer option.
All that’s left is to create its selectable class feature, shtick.
You are often surprisingly effective in combat… just not in ways that traditional heroes are. Instead you have actions that,–backed by a combination of your moxie, some luck, and the total surprise you are engaging in adventuring at all–can alter the flow of combat in surprising ways. These sometimes-comical options are known as shtick. You gain your first shtick at 2nd level, and gain an additional shtick at 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th level. You cannot select the same shtick more than once.
Some of your shtick abilities for a foe to make a saving throw. The DC of such saves is equal to 8 + you proficiency bonus + your Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma bonus. You select which ability score applies to your shtick save is based on when you gain your first shtick, and once made this decision cannot be changed.
(Art by Lunstream)
The very fact you place yourself in places of extreme risk without any apparent talents or powers to make such actions look like reasonable choices on your part can endear you to foes who see you as a cute little thing, rather than a threat.
Using your action you can stand defiantly in the face of a creature within 30 feet that has attacked and damaged you or an ally. The target must succeed at a Wisdom save or be charmed by you for 24 hours, or until you attack them. Once you have successfully affected a creature with adorable bravery, you cannot attempt it again until after you take a long rest.
Using your action you engage in behavior that is both confusing, and obviously out of place with no apparent explanation (and no visible reason for you to believe it will work). You might scold a giant for being a bully, act like a bull about to charge an enraged minotaur, or challenge a lich to a dance-off. The behavior is so unexpected and novel, the target is briefly taken aback. You select one creature within 60 feet that is able to see or hear you. The target must succeed at a Charisma save or be incapacitated for 1 round. Once you have successfully affected a creature with baffling affront, you cannot attempt it again until after you take a short rest.
While your traveling companions have been learning new spells, mastering fighting techniques, and perfecting new forms of skulking, you’ve been picking up little tips and tricks from the cooks at inns, drovers of friendly caravans, and other behind-the-scenes folks. Much of this builds off a direction you might have taken in your career, but never mastered until now.
Select an additional background. You gain the benefits and items from this background.
You are adept at the endless chatter common to some working-class folk, and can both use it to get the skinny in a new region, and to overload a creature with more words than they are used to processing. When you are in a settlement where you speak one of the common languages, each day you may make one Charisma check with proficiency to learn local gossip and rumors without anyone realizing you are gathering such information.
Additionally, using your action you can direct a stream of apparently endless but potentially important words at a creature within 30 feet able to hear you. You can maintain this for a duration of concentration (10 minute maximum). As long as the target can hear you, they are deafened to any other sound.
Sometimes, you are saved by the noncombat equipment you carry on you. This might be a spider’s fangs sinking into your cookbook, a giant crushing a loaf of bread thinking it was your head, or an arrow being stopped by hitting the pewter flash you have in your vest.
When you take damage or have a condition applied to you, as a reaction you can instead have one item in your possession be destroyed and not take the damage or condition. Once you have used this ability, you cannot do so again until after you have taken a long rest.
The Right Tool
You know that sometimes the important thing is not who tries something, but what they try to do it with. While mighty heroes are busy giving speeches and staring down the forces of evil, you’re keeping track of who is holding what, which item is in which belt pouch, and what is likely to be needed in the coming moments.
Using your action, you can change what items are ready for use for yourself and every willing adjacent ally. You can ready items from yourself or a willing ally for use by another ally. Only items that can be readied or put away in an action can be affected by this ability.
Shielded By Clutter
You have so much stuff that attacks are as likely to hit your cooking pot, tailoring cloth, or portable library as to damage you. As long as you have any equipment or gear, you are considered to have the benefits of a shield without needing to hold one in your hand. If you are adjacent to an ally and they are attacked, as a reaction you can cause them to benefit from having a shield (temporarily ending your shielded by clutter benefit). This lasts as long as the ally is adjacent to you, until the beginning of your next turn.
Spoon to the Knuckles
You may see yourself as a cook, or tutor, or dressmaker rather than a warrior, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t willing to treat a monster like an unruly child and rap their knuckles with a wooden spoon (or otherwise take them to task).
Make an ability check with advantage using a tool with which you are proficient. Your DC is equal to your target’s AC. If you succeed, you do a single hp of damage (though this does not trigger rules triggered by making an attack). Additionally, the target is so flabbergasted by your effrontery they have disadvantage on any attack thy make for 1 round.
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Monday we laid out the concept and framework for the Mascot class for 5e, and Tuesday we presented the Domestic Companion option for the Mascot Archetype class feature. We’ll present the Torchbearer archetype later in the week, but today I actually want to define the Inspiring Failure class feature.
While a Mascot character is often out of their element and overmatched by the circumstances of adventuring, the very fact they keep trying can inspire their allies. When a mascot succeeds at a task everyone is delighted, even their failures can inspire the heroes around them to achieve greater success on the mascot’s behalf.
(art by Lunstream)
You get one use of Inspiring Failure at 3rd level, and gain an additional use at 11th, 17th, and 20th level.
The first time each day you fail an attack roll, Ability/Skill check, or saving throw while you are in an encounter that can earn XP (as determined by the GM), you earn one inspiring failure point (IFP). When an ally within 60 feet who witnessed your failure fails an attack, ability/skill, or save, you may expend an IFP to grant them a special reroll. If the d20 on their reroll results in a 1-10, they gain a +10 bonus to their total.
Each additional use you gain of inspiring failure allows you to gain an IFP from an additional failed roll on your point. When you take a long rest, you lose all IFP.
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Yesterday we laid out the concept and framework for the Mascot class for 5e, so now it’s time to begin deliver into some specifics.
At 1st level you choose a Mascot Archetype. This defines what KIND of mascot you are, and will impact your character’s options and play style as you gain more levels. In a full version of this class we’d likely want at least 3 Mascot Archetypes, but for blog posts I think we can just do two. (If there’s a huge demand for more, we can always circle back ‘around to it. 🙂 )
We’ll start with the Domestic Creature.
(Art by Kajenna)
At 1st level, you choose an archetype that defines what kind of mascot you are, and gives you some idea how other PCs and NPCs are likely to see and treat your character. You can choose from the Domestic Creature or Torchbearer archetypes.
The archetype you choose grants you features at 1st level and again at 7th, 10th, 15th, and 18th level.
Regardless of what species you choose (human, elf, dwarf, and so-on), you are actually a Small or Tiny creature that appears to be a pet or companion. You may be a common pert, such as a cat or dog, or may be a more supernatural kind of noncombat companion. You have lived with the species you took for your character enough that you count as them for purposes of spells and prerequisites (and get all the appropriate traits), but are truly some different kind of creature.
Beginning at first level when you take this archetype you are treated as one size smaller, can only express concepts as long as five words, look like a domestic pet of some kind, and can only use one hand worth of equipment (held in your mouth, or talons, or flippers as appropriate). A creature of your size or larger can carry you in 1 arm (if you are willing) without worrying about your weight. A creature at least 2 sizes larger than you can carry you in a pocket with ease.
You also gain two of the following of your choice, as part of your domestic creature nature — darkvision, a 20 foot fly speed (but you cannot carry anyone unless they are smaller than you), 1 30 foot fly speed, the ability to breath on land and in water, a finesse attack that does 1d4 + Strength damage and does bludgeoning,slashing, or peircing damage (your choice), advantage on one category of saves of your choice, advantage on one of the following skills of your choice — Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Athletics, Insight, Perception, or Stealth.
Domestic Creature Advances
At 7th level, and again at 10th, 15th, and 18th, you select one of the advances listed below. You cannot select a greater version of an advance until you have selected the standard version.
Cute Creature: As a bonus action when an ally adjacent to you makes a Charisma (Deception, Performance, or Persuasion) check, you grant them advantage.
Cute Creature, Greater: You can be so cute, creatures are stupified by how adorable you are. this acts as hypnotic pattern, but affects only one creature.
Distracting Creature: As an action you can make an attack or Charisma (Intimidate) check against a target within 30 feet. If successful rather than your normal effect, the target suffers disadvantage on all attacks for 1 round, and anyone that is forced to make a saving throw against your targets spells or effects during that round gain advantage on the save.
Distracting Creature, Greater: You can use distracting creature against all foes within a 10-foot cube at a range of 60 feet.
Guard Creature: You take no penalties to Perception when asleep, and if you successfully perceive a threat you can wake all allies within 60 feet as a bonus action. As a bonus action when an ally adjacent to you makes a Wisdom (Perception) check, you grant them advantage.
Guard Creature, Greater: As a bonus action when an ally adjacent to you is attacked, you give the attack disadvantage.
Support Creature: As a bonus action when an ally adjacent to you makes a Wisdom or Charisma saving throw, you give the save advantage.
Support Creature: You can cast calm emotions at will.
We’ll look at our other archetype, torchbearer, tomorrow!
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(Image by Jessica Dale)
For about a month now, I’ve been talking about the realities of the U.S. tabletop RPG industry, as I see them. I’ve posted thoughts on Facebook and Twitter, including under the hashtags #RealGameIndustry and #NotesFromAnRPGDev. ENWorld also created threads to discuss many of these shortly after I started, and again a week or so later. (And, I just discovered, a third time on July 4th).
And a lot of those observations paint a pretty grim picture. Poor pay. No security. No prospects for retirement. Regular harassment from fans and pop culture commentators. A fairly wide spectrum of people who think what you do requires no special talents, and that’s why you can’t make a living at it, and if you wanted to be able to live in moderate safety you shouldn’t picked a “fun” job like making games. These, of course, are intermixed with people who feel the need to interject about how common these problems are in all industries–which certainly suggests picking a different career might not be as helpful as the first group wants to claim.
Of course, my experiences aren’t objective or somehow universal of course, but I have been involved in the industry for 23 years, as a freelance writer (full and part time), contract worker, staff designer, staff developer, freelance developer, producer, line editor, publisher, and consultant. But even then, it’s one narrow slice of the ttRPG industry. A number of other professionals have opined about what they agree with, and what they feel like need qualifiers, but there’s been little real disagreement that I have seen.
So, if it’s a terrible way to make a living—why do I? Why stick with an industry for decades if even the “success” of getting hired on-staff by the two biggest RPG companies in North America isn’t enough to leave me able to pay the bills without having to scramble every month?
I was writing the headline of this article, and my wife leaned over, and in all seriousness asked me “So, why DO you do it?”
I confess that in the past 6 months, I have begun to think maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe it’s time to hang up the dice, at least professionally, and switch to a “normal” job. I still may. But not this week, which brings us back to “why?”
There are two big reasons.
1. I Want To Help
And I think I can, but only from the inside.
So, what do I mean by help?
I mean help gaming, as a hobby, and game professionals, as a group. I want to work to make the ttRPG industry create the most good situations for the most people. That means working to improve conditions and stability, trying new things and seeing if any of them work better, answering questions, tutoring people, putting folks in touch with other folks for mutual benefit, and publicly fighting for diversity, inclusion, and ethical game designs.
And while it may be hubris to think I can make a difference, I’d rather struggle so survive if it means there is a chance I can make other people’s struggles easier. I’ll never be the person who determines if I have succeeded at this, of course. And I may never know if I really improve things. But I do get feedback that convinces me the effort is worth making.
It looks to me like there will be people trying to be full-time RPG professionals for the foreseeable future. I want to help them, and at the same time help the industry, hobby, and fans of gaming be the best they can.
2. I Think RPGs Are Important
I think ALL games are important, but especially ttRPGs. Roleplaying Games brought me most of the good things in my life.
High school was harsh for me, and I can honestly say I was miserable most of the time and considered suicide more than once. But RPGs let me explore ideas I was too afraid to discuss, helped me form a strong social support group, and let me make friends I am still playing with 25 and 30 years later. Nothing else came close to letting me deal with my pain, and learn something about bravery.
I learned empathy through RPGs, and regret, and problem solving. It encouraged me to learn about history, grammar, math, probability, tactics, risk-taking and analysis, even a theory of fun. I doubt there is any positive aspect of my personality I can’t trace back to RPGs. And a lot of things I know were terrible parts of who I was growing up I overcame through interactions with RPGs, and the people I met through them.
My tightest bonds outside my immediately family came from ttRPGs. I met my wife through roleplaying. My best friends, from people I have known for more than 35 years to people I just got to know in the past year, through roleplaying. I have gotten to learn from geniuses, and help put folks much more creative than me on easier paths, through roleplaying games.
Further, I believe the influence of ttRPGs has much bigger ripples than people realize. And I want to have a small hand in what those ripples look like, and what messages they send out.
So yes, even when some person or persons leaves comments on videos claiming I am so fat and disgusting no-one should ever look at me or trust me, even in weeks when I have to spend 60-70 hours scrambling to pay the bills and arrange for opportunities to do the same thing next month, even when groups of people claim my ethics and morals are just schemes to draw attention, even when people smarter and more creative than me throw in the towel and leave the industry — or maybe especially those times — I feel the drive to keep doing this.
I know I cannot make a huge difference, but I feel this is the tool I can best use to do the most good, for the most people.
If you feel like supporting me in those efforts, you can make a huge difference by supporting my Patreon.
In the Fantômonde, there are five Dynasties that represent the five ways a terne may discover the phantom world. Upon accessing the Fantômonde for the first time, a percie is wise to find which Dynasty they used to expand their world. Once a percie knows this, they are referred to as a Scion of that dynasty.
Ankhar epitomize resilience, determination, and perseverance. They are seen as dull or stubborn by many other Scions, but Ankhar don’t give up easily and at the end of a trying time it is the Ankhar most likely to be left standing.
Mahgreis see pain and sadness as the best teachers for both themselves and others. They may be dismissed as broody and unempathic, but they wish to see the world as it truly is, and believe nothing of value is accomplished without sacrifice.
Peraseer are thoughtful, intuitive, and creative. They are sometimes accused by other Scions of being flighty or chaotic, but they are simply more likely to trust their instincts than obvious answers and will take the time they need to explore new thoughts or hunches before being comfortable with a plan.
Valdrakken take to power and violence. Scions of other dynasties often see them as brutish, short-tempered, and bloodthirsty, but when fighting begins most admit you want a Scion of Valdrakken on your side.
Whinnowhin appreciate things that are done right and done well, even thigns that other Scions look down upon. A Whinnowhin may be seen as uncreative or unambitious, but they simply wish things to actually get done, rather than wasting time trying to find fancier ways to accomplish needful tasks.
Not all percies learn their Dynasty. Some think of the traditions defining them as limiting or self-fullfilling prophecies. Others claim to be empowered my multiple Dynasties, despite the seers and mancers declaring that factually this never happens. And a few just don’t get around to it, spending more time focusing on their vocation, or trying to build a veil to remove themselves from the Fantômonde and wishing to renounce all elements of it.
I don’t know if I’ll ever touch this again, but it leaped into my head nearly fully-formed, so I wrote it down. If you DO want me to explore these ideas more, obviously the best way to let me know is to join my Patreon and say so! 🙂