Out of Character

"Has anyone seen my D20?"



#1 Bulbasaur

The grass-type starter Pokemon that is considered by many to be the easiest of the starters for new trainers to raise. Ash’s Bulbasaur chose not to evolve, but it helped carry him to to some of his greatest victories as a trainer. Way back when I got my copy of Pokeon Blue Bulbasaur was the first starter I ever chose my very first Pokemon, so it has always had a special place in my pokedex. This is the first of the starters that I’ve created so lets jump in!


Medium beast, neutral

Armor Class 14

Hit Points 60

Speed 20 ft

Str 14 (+2) Dex 14 (+2) Con 14(+2)  Int 12 (+1) Wis 14 (+2)  Cha 14 (+2)

Damage Resistance lightning thunder

Damage Vulnerabilities fire

Skills Athletics +4, Intimidation +4, Perception +4

Senses Passive Perception 14

Languages Pokemon, understands Common but can’t speak

Challenge  5 (1,800 XP)

Evolution. After gaining 4,000 XP Bulbasaur evolves into Ivysaur.

Grass-Type: Bulbasaur has advantage on Stealth checks in areas with tall grass or other abundant plant life.

Pokemon. Bulbasaur can be captured in a Pokeball, from that point on it will act as a companion to its new trainer.


Slam: Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6+2) bludgeoning damage.

Vine-Whip. Ranged Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, range 40/100 ft., one target. Hit: 22 (4d6 +4) slashing damage. On a Critical Hit the target is also grappled.

Razor Leaf: Bulbasaur expels a shower of razor sharp leaves in a 20-foot foot cone. Each creature in that are must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw, taking 24 (6d4+4) slashing an piercing damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one. As a bonus action Bulbasaur may maintain its Razor Leaf for one additional turn. Doing so causes Bulbasaur to gain one level of exhaustion.


Star Trek Top 10

While neither of us consider ourselves to be Trekkies Tina and I ARE both big Star Trek fans. While we were looking over the Star Trek Adventures RPG we started talking about our favorite characters and episodes. We challenged one another to write out a list of our ten favorite characters and we wended up with some interesting results I felt like sharing.

Because there are so many great characters in Star Trek and it could be hard to crowd someone out of the list we both got an honorable mention.

Honorable Mentions

7 of 9 and Odo

Tina picked the changeling constable Odo from Deep Space 9 played by René Auberjonois. She says she picked him because he had great development during the show, and I have to agree with that. I picked 7 of 9 the former Borg played by Jeri Ryan from Voyager. I know people are going to say nasty things about my choice, and generally people are dismissive of 7, but I think she had some amazing episodes and stories during the series.


Tina chose Commander William T. Riker First Officer of the Enterprise played by Jonathan Frakes. If I had to a hazard a guess as to why it probably has something to do with the less than serious attitude the commander often displayed. He wasn’t afraid to have fun or laugh when the moment allowed it. I also chose a first officer also Saru of the Discovery played by Doug Jones. Two ore different individuals there have never been, but I like them both. Saru is a Kelpian and the first of his species to join Starfleet. He isn’t afraid to admit to his own misgivings, and he’s willing to admit when he is wrong. Saru is also kind enough to forgive and acknowledge the abilities of others.


Looks like we have a bit of a Voyager reunion. B’elanna Torres the half-Klingon half-human Chief Engineer played by Roxann Dawson was another matter entirely. She was angry, stubborn, and ready to fight with anyone about anything which may have been how she ended up with the Maquis. She was also one of the best engineers Starfleet ever had and she cared about people more than she was willing to admit. Her time of Voyager afforded her opportunities to grow, confront the things that had tormented her for most of her life, and grow into an even more amazing person.


Tina’s pick for #8 Tina and I are both big fans of Voyager’s Tactical Officer the Vulcan Tuvok played by Tim Russ. He stands out among all Vulcans in my mind as one who never allowed his logical nature to overrule him. During the long journey home from the Delta Quadrant he was a teacher, a mentor, a confidant, a soldier, an explorer, and someone the crew could always count on. My choice was Lt. Commander Data of the Enterprise played by Brent Spiner. Data is such a fan favorite I have always found him fascinating. In this ongoing mission to explore the stars Data is undergoing his own mission to explore his own identity. He’s asking Who am i? Why am I here? He asks these questions with an open mind and explores all of the possibilities. Plus, let’s face it, Data is a nerd. He has a cat, he LARPS, and he can perform trillions of equations in seconds.


Tina picked Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterprise played by Patrick Stewart. You can’t not have THE captain on this list at some point unless you hate everything about Next Generation. My choice was Jadzia Dax Science Officer of Deep Space 9 played by Terry Farrell. Jadzia wasn’t the first Trill to appear on Star Trek, but she was the first to flesh out the species and make it her own. I picked Jadzai in part because like any of the characters from Star Trek she’s brilliant, but there was a bigger reason. I look at Jadzia and see someone who lived. She learned Klingon martial arts, played tongo, saw spatial phenomenon no one else had ever even dared to dream of, and she was ever ready to offer wisdom or a joke when the situation called for it.



I shit you not we both picked Chief Miles O’Brien played by Colm Meaney for #6. We weren’t even in the same room when we did these lists and somehow this happened. So why the O’Brien? On Enterprise he was a secondary character who didn’t get to do much, but he still managed to meet and marry the love of his life, and saw her give birth to their first child Molly.  Not bad. In reality I chose him because people who have technical skill are amazing. The rest of us just kind of stumble through the world, but they see all the wires and know just where they go. O’Brien also explores some less pleasant aspects of the future. He’s got prejudices against Cardassians, he’s got a temper like a Klingon, and he’s struggling to keep his family happy while he keeps up with a difficult job. Chief, somehow you did it all. I also think that his friendship with Julian Bashir was something we need to see more of in fiction.


Now we have a Deep Space 9 theme? Fine. Tina chose Captain Benjamin Sisko of Deep Space 9 played by Avery Brooks. If you need an explanation as to why he belongs on this list crack out Netlfix and go watch In The Pale Moonlight. I’ll wait. Understand now? Good. Quark, played by Armin Shimerman, was a Ferengi owned a bar on Deep Space 9. Quark was sexist, greedy, conniving, and in the first few episodes he seemed like he’d sell his own mother for a few slips of latinum. He did manage to keep things interesting with all his schemes and intrigues. His feud with constable Odo made them both more enjoyable, it also seems like it made them rub off on one another. Quark probably grew more than almost any character in any Star Trek show ever. He never quite became one of the good guys, but in the end he wasn’t a bad guy either.


We’re creeping towards the top spots now and competition is getting tighter. For her #4 Tina chose Kira Nerys the Bajoran First Officer of Deep Space 9 played by Nan Visitor. Kira is plain a simple a badass. She can kick the butt of a Jem’Hadar warrior twice her size without spilling her raktajino. She also happens to have some of the most compelling episodes in Star Trek. My choice was Voyager’s Captain Kathryn Janeway played by Kate Mulgrew. I could say a lot of things about why I picked Janeway, but in the end it comes down to one thing. She got her ship home. She didn’t do it alone, and luck helped more than once, but it she saw it as her duty to get Voyager home and she damned well did it.


In part one of the top three we have a repeat performer with Jadzia Dax. I chose the Voyager’s EMH or as he came to be called The Doctor played by Robert Picardo. Who needs a sonic screwdriver when you have a mobile emitter am I right? The Doctor carried on the tradition of Starfleet’s medical officers grappling with ethical conundrums. He also grappled with his own personality and how it clashed with the crew. All of the other EMH programs with his personality were demoted, but Voyager needed him so he got the chance to learn and grow. The Doctor was curious and eager to prove he could be more than just what he was. There’s an episode called Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy that to this day makes me tear up every time I see it. The Doctor has installed a daydream progrma to allow him to live out fantasies, and one of those fantasies is taking command of Voyager as the Emergency Command Hologram during a crisis. When his daydreams go haywire the crew end up getting a peak into his deepest fantasies and seeing one of these scenarios play out.

He says “Thank you for this opportunity Captain. All I’ve ever wanted was the opportunity to live up to my full potential. To hone all my skills, expand my abilities, to help the people I love.”

Robert Picardo brings so much humanity to the role, I don’t think anyone else could have done it quite so well.


Another Voyager reunion? Fine! I’ve already talked about why these characters are so great, but I will also say Tuvok is my favorite Vulcan. Yes over Spock. I said it and I won’t take it back.


Well here we are, the top spot. We end with two Starfleet Captains no less. Captain Philippa Georgiou played by Michelle Yeoh commands the USS Shenzhou on Star Trek Discovery. She’s a great character we only get to see a little bit of, but she makes us wonder what happened in her career to bring her to this point. You can tell she has the admiration and respect of her entire crew. She also seems to be a bit of a pack rat. Captain Picard delivers some of the best dialogue in all of Star Trek. Patrick Stewart makes you care about the ship, the events, and the characters even when you don’t want to. When I think of a Starfleet Captain he’s the first to leap to mind.

Well there you have, those are our Top Tens. I expect there to plenty or rage over these lists. To be honest there are very few characters on Star Trek I don’t like. Less than 3 in fact. I’d like to finish by thanking the actors from the series for all of their hard work over the years.

Star Trek: Discovery Characters

As one of the main characters in Star Trek: Discovery Lieutenant Commander Saru fascinates me, he’s extremely different from most of the other characters we’ve seen on Star Trek over the years. For one thing he’s the first Kelpian to join Starfleet, but we’ve had many first officers over the years on other series. Data, Worf, and Nog were all the first members of their species to join Starfleet, but Saru is also the first member of his species we’ve even seen.

Another distinction is that he is far more cautious and willing to take the safer course than virtually any other character we’ve met. I think that will annoy some fans who will call him a coward, but I think it makes him an interesting member of the crew.

A lot of what came up during character creation was very different from when I made Michael before. I had to create a unique species and make some assumptions about Saru’s background that may not be accurate, so apologies if that proves to be the case.


Step 1: Species

So Saru is a Kelpian, a prey species from a world with dangerous predators. He’s also the first member of his species to join Starfleet. I used that tiny bit of information to choose what abilities would be enhanced. I went with +1 bonus to Fitness, Insight, and Reason. As a Prey species on a dangerous planet Kelpians would have to be reasonably fit to stay alive, Saru seems pretty insightful, and of course a species would have to be reasonable to survive under such harsh conditions.

For a trait I went with the Kelpians ability to sense death, which some people seem to love and others seem to hate. I can certainly see a scientific explanation for this ability despite all the naysayers. Kelpians may be able to sense the electrical activity present in a living creature’s brain, and they get an instinctive warning when that activity changes in a way consistent with brain death. This would certainly be a handy ability for a prey species to have, and it could come in hand for Starfleet officer.

When it came to their Talents I went with the way a sentient prey species would evolve, and came up with something old and something new.

Like Harry Dresden said, if something is trying to kill you being able to run away is always a good option. With that in mind I whipped up the talent Prey Species. Adapted for flight over fight responses Kelpians are capable of running at high speeds for prolonged periods of time over unforgiving terrain. You may take the Sprint Action  as normal with the following differences. If successful you may move two zones rather than one, and one additional zone per Momentum spent (Repeatable). Also, you ignore Terrain factors that would increase the Difficult of this Task.

The fact that Kelpians have hooves seems to support the idea that they can move one they want to, and thatthe terrain on their homeworld isn’t the most hospitable to sandals or going barefoot.

The second talent I came up with was What Your Species Calls Cowardice Mine Calls Caution. You may reduce the Difficulty to sense another beings true motives, or to detect a trap or ambush.

I chose not to have Saru use either of these talents as he isn’t your typical Kelpian, and I felt there were other options to explore for him. However if you want to make a Kelpian of your own and you do use those please let me know how they work out. The first Talent I chose for him was Quick to Action, allowing him to react quickly in a life or death situation thanks to his survival instincts.

Step 2: Environment


We don’t know much about Saru’s background yet but given that he is the first Kelpian in Starfleet I think it is safe to say he grew up on his homeworld. At this point I gave him a +1 to Reason and a +1 to Science. For his first Value I chose “You’re Either Predator or prey. My Species is Prey.” His instinct to survive certainly influences many of his choices.

Step 3: Upbringing

94b711aa8424076e7800c70e6f8dc53b59069ac2Here’s where I had to take a leap and try to draw some conclusions about Kelpian culture and Saru’s background. For now I am assuming they’re world is beautiful but deadly, and that the Kelpians are advanced enough to have wrap technology, but they’re still struggling for survival at home.

With that in mind I embraced the idea that Kelpian society is Agricultural or Rural for the most part. If they’re not preying on other creatures to survive they have to get their food from somewhere, and with predators hunting them I imagine they are nomadic or isolated.

Now we know Saru is a scientist, and being the first to leave home for a life in Starfleet it seems reasonable to say he rebelled against the norm of what is expected of his species. I He gained a +1 in Presence, a +2 in Reason a +1 in Engineering and a Focus in Botany. Although he hasn’t great knowledge of life sciences yet it seemed like a reasonable first choice for him to study up on.

For his Talent I chose Intense Scrutiny as he definitely the type to take his time getting the right answer rather than jumping to the wrong conclusion.

Step 4: Starfleet Academy

vlcsnap-00013-1I don’t imagine Starfleet was much fun for a younger Saru. Being the only member of his species there, and the first ever to attend the academy probably made him pretty isolated. Those things probably influenced the adult he grew to become more than a little, he’s always going to be at odds with the non-prey species, but he’s learned to work with them. Being a Science Officer Saru clearly followed the Sciences Track at Starfleet. He gained a +1 to Insight, +1 to Control, and +1 to Presence. He gained a +2 in the Science Discipline, a +1 in Con, and a +1 in Engineering. For his focuses I stuck to sciences to expand his areas of expertise as much as possible adding: Computers, Astrophysics, and Spatial Phenomenon.

I’d imagine young Saru threw himself into his studies and excelled, but he never managed to stand out as much except the Kelpian cadet.

For his Value I chose “I Am the First Kelpian to Join Starfleet, That is Courage Enough.” I’d imagine he’s proud of what he has achieved, and he sees it as a courageous act to leave his world to explore the stars. However, he does’t seem himself as foolhardy or brave as a rule.

For his Talent I chose Cautious (Science) as he is definitely willing to err on the side of caution when it comes to discover or hypothesis.

Step 5: Career


As with Michael Burnham I decided to make Saru an experienced officer, he has experience but he isn’t yet a veteran and he’s got a ways to go before getting there.

For his Value I added “If You Don’t Survive the Act of Discovery There’s Little Point to it.” I think a career in Starfleet has shown Saru more than he could ever imagine, and he has been witness to some amazing phenomenon and discoveries. At the same tie, he’s seen officers taking risks they didn’t need to, and more than one probably dying as a result. He’s a scientist first and an explorer second.

For his Talent I chose In the Nick of Time, giving him the ability to gain more benefit from taking longer periods of time to complete his work.

Step 6: Career Events

With Michael Burnham I outlined the events that took place during the first episodes of Star Trek Discovery to form her career events. I did the same thing with Saru, only this time the events played out from his perspective to form a very different narrative.

Event 1: Conflict with a Hostile Culture


Saru was also involved in the battle with the Kilingons, although far less directly, and more reluctantly than his Captain and First Officer were. He still gains a +1 in the Fitness Ability and a +1 in the Security Discipline. For his Focus I settled on Shipboard Tactical Systems. I think Saru certainly has a working knowledge of how the tactical systems work, and while he’s unlikely to be called upon as a tactical officer he can help improvise better defenses and offensive maneuvers.

Event 2: Called Out a Superior


When Michael attempted to override the Captain Saru sensed something was not right, and he stood up to his First Officer. This is a major moment for Saru. Everything about him up to this point suggests he’d keep his head down and follow orders, but he steps up and holds true to the orders his Captain has given, and the ideals of Starfleet. He gained a +1 to the Reason Ability and a +1 to the Con Discipline. For his Focus I went with Starfleet Protocol, he definitely knows the rules and when they’re being broken.

Event 3: Required to Take Command


I had a few options here, and while we don’t know Saru took command of the ship during the conflict at any point he was certainly on command on the bridge, and he may have been in charge after the captain died as one of the most senior officers. I went with that because it provided more growth to his character, and in my mind made more sense than the other choices available. He gained a +1 to his Daring ability and a +1 to his Command Discipline. For his Focus I chose Composure as Saru never lost his head during the crisis.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

To finish him off I gave Saru +1’s in both his Control and Presence abilities, as well as +1’s in his Science and Con Disciplines. He’s a capable officer who can fill in a number of roles aboard a starship, but he is definitely best suited to being a Science Officer.

His last Value is “You’re a Valuable Asset, but You’re Dangerous.” After his encounter with the Klingons and the betrayal of the captain I think Saru is a bit less trusting of his fellow officer’s motives. He does still see the value in cooperation, but his guard is up more than it was.

His Stress ended up at an 11, his Damage Bonus is a +2.

We can see how different the two characters to survive these events really are, and how that might influence the way the develop over time.

Saru character sheet

If you liked these last two entries please let me know. As more episodes of the series come out I may create character sheets for more of the crew if there is an interest.

Star Trek: Discovery Characters

After watching the first two episodes of Star Trek Discovery I found myself with the desire to whip up some of the characters for an RPG. I broke out my copy of Star Trek Adventures from Modiphius and put myself to work. Please be warned if you haven’t seen the show yet there will be spoilers contained below so please stop reading now.

First up, Lieutenant Commander Michael Burnham former first officer of the  USS Shenzhou.


Step 1: Species

This step as usual in this system was pretty simple Michael is a human. I chose to give her +1 bonuses to Daring, Fitness, and Presence respectively. For her first talent I chose Resolute. From what we saw of her early years these options made the most sense to me.

Step 2: Environment


After her family was killed by Klingons Sarak adopted Michael and raised her on Vulcan, This is a clear case of Another Species World so I chose that. Since she’d be raised by and among logic driven Vulcans I thought it best to giver her +1 here to Reason, I also gave her a +1 to the Science Discipline.

Her first given Value is “I Know the Klingons.” This represents her knowledge of the brutality with which the Klingons killed her family, and how their actions continue to influence hers to this day.

Step 3: Upbringing


Raised on Vulcan where she would one day be the first human to graduate from The Vulcan Science Academy Michael clearly excelled academically despite struggling emotionally. The Vulcans clearly tried to instill emotional control and logic as pillars to hold her up through her life. I gave her a +2 to Control, and a +1 to Reason respectively.

Since her focus was scientific study I also added a +1 to her Science Discipline.

I made her focus here Computers for a couple of reasons. One, it is a handy skill that most characters can find a use for. Two, we see her interacting with various computer systems on multiple worlds during the course of two episodes.

For her Talent I went with The Vulcan Nerve Pinch, which requires GM approval for non-Vulcans, which I kindly approved.

Step 4: Starfleet Academy

dsc-919-2vids-head.jpgHonestly I’m not 100% certain Michael ever went to Starfleet Academy. We see her arrive on the   USS Shenzhou as an adult, but we never see her go to Earth for an extended period to attend the academy. So, she either got her education from the Vulcans and Captain Philippa Georgiou directly bypassing Starfleet, or that experience hasn’t come up yet. I prefer to think she mentored under the captain and Starfleet bypassed the requirement as a courtesy.

Here she gained a +1 in Control, a +1 in Fitness, and a +1 in Reason. This was the time when she’d be learning how to be around humans while performing her duties aboard a a Starfleet vessel, I imagine she’d fall back on emotional stability before cracking her Vulcan shell so to speak. We also see her aiding the captain on at least one physically difficult mission, and nothing makes me think she isn’t the physically active sort, so a bump to fitness made sense too.

For Disciplines I gave her a +1 to Command and a +2 to Science. She is a xenoantropologist and she goes toe to toe with the chief science officer on a regular basis, so she needs to now her stuff. In addition, she was learning to take command from a decorated Starfleet Officer so she definitely picked up a few tricks.

Her added focuses were Anthropology, Linguistics, Xenobiology, and a custom Zero Gravity Operations.

The Value I chose here was “The Vulcans Abandoned This Outdated Transporter Technology Long Ago.” This was one of the first things she said to  Captain Georgiou after coming aboard and is indicative of the admiration she demonstrates to Vulcans.

The Talent I selected was Spirit of Discovery. Like many Starfleet officers Michael does seem to love boldly venturing into the unknown, and I think that fact become more pronounced as she spent time with humans.

Step Five: Career


I decided to make Michael an experienced officer, she’s been serving under Captain Georgiou for 7 years so she isn’t new to the ship. However, at the same time she doesn’t have decades of experience so this seemed like the best fit.

The Value I went with here was “If You’re Afraid of Everything You’ll Never Discover Anything.” Michael is an officer who takes chances and sometimes ignores the wisest course of action in favor of results. Sometimes that boldness pays off, other times it doesn’t.

For her last Talent I went with Dauntless. She isn’t easily cowed, frightened, or intimidated and that is something anyone who wants to command a crew needs to be able to say about themselves.

Step Six: Career Events

Here I focused on the events that occurred in the first two episodes of Discovery.

Event 1: Mentored


We know for certain that Captain Georgiu took an interest in her career and planned to help her secure her first command. They were familiar and used to working together, if not for ranks one might have called the other a friend. This mentoring granted Michael a much needed +1 to Presence, and a +1 to Command. I chose the Persuasion Focus because she seems like the sort who is willing to try to win folks over rather than scream them into submission.

Event 2: Conflict with a Hostile Culture


So Michael comes face to face with her own worst nightmare in the form of the Klingons as these two episodes unfold. She witnesses, and precipitates, a war between The United Federation of Planets and The Klingon Empire. She sees ships destroyed, and crews killed as the battle unfolds around them.

She gained a +1 increase to Fitness and a +1 to Security as those are the outcome of such an encounter. I chose to give her a Focus in hand-to-hand combat because we see her squaring off with multiple Klingons, and from the previews for episode 3 it seems like more fisticuffs are coming.

Event 3: The Death of a Friend

star-trek-discovery-georgiou-deathThe death of Captain Georgiu when she and Michael transported aboard the Klingon flagship was a major turning point for Michael. She’d betrayed everything to try and save the crew and her captain, only to see her killed right in front of her, and for their final mission to end in failure.

This event increases her Insight by +1, which makes sense given how much she learned from these events. It also increased her Medicine Discipline by +1. For her final focus I went with hand phasers which we see her use to avenge the Klingon who killed her captain.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

So we’re wrapping up Michael with a few last touches. I chose to increase her Daring and Presence by +1 each, and increase her Command and Con Disciplines by +1 a piece.

I allowed her to retain her rank of Lieutenant Commander for the sake of simplicity, but given her court marshal she will probably be demoted.

Her Stress comes out to a total of 15, and her damage bonus comes out to a +2.

Her last Value is “I Think About What Happened All the Time.” Recent events continue to haunt Michael, and probably will for the rest of her life.

Michael Character Sheet

Check back later for more Star Trek: Discovery Content, if people like these I might do a few characters.


Skill Check

The past few hours I was tinkering with ideas about skills checks, and a thought occurred to me.  If you leaf through most modules there are always instances where the GM will be told to ask players for a specific type of skill check, or a range of skills. There’s nothing wrong with a GM having an idea for a certain type of situation to call on a select range of skills, but it may deprive players of a chance to flex their roleplaying muscles. The example I thought up while I was wasting time at work today uses Dungeons & Dragons 5e, but the principle applies to any rpg with a skill system.

Imagine your players have entered a local pub looking for information, now let’s also pretend that this didn’t devolve into a ballroom brawl ( a certain monk and warlock I know could probably learn something from this come to think of it.) One of the patrons, a minotaur sailor known to have dealings with the black market, overhears them chatting up the crowd and takes an interest.

Maybe he’s been soured on smugglers after years of being cheated? Or perhaps he’s hoping to send some trouble towards his competitors? Whatever his reasoning he’s not inclined to impart information to anyone who he doesn’t trust. Stomping his way through the pub he proposes a challenge to test their mettle, in this case a pepper eating contest.

Now some GM’s would probably ask for a Constitution saving throw, but there’s plenty of opportunity for creative players to find a way to win out this encounter. A saving throw might favor the broad shouldered goliath barbarian, but the other members of the party could have a great deal more difficulty measuring up. Now there’s something be said for a comical failure and they certainly provide opportunity for roleplay, but let’s examine a few other possibilites.

The halfling bard might manage to deceive the minotaur, pretending that to him the pepper is no hotter than piece of bread. A dragonborn wizard skilled at sleight of hand might tuck the offending pepper into his sleeve. The elf druid might fallback on her knowledge of herb lore and attempt to make a nature check to see what she has on hand that might counter the burning sensation of the peppers.

Give your players an chance to get creative an approach the problem from a different angle. Now a GM also has to know when to say no, but saying yes present much more exciting results for the table more often than not.



Castlevania Part 1

After watching the new Castlevania series on Netflix  couldn’t help thinking it would make a great setting for a very dark Dungeons and Dragons campaign with some cool steampunk elements. I’m actually working on a short module that takes players through a brief adventure in that world. However creatures from that setting can be folded into almost any D&D game with a little imagination.

For folks who have yet to see the show please stop reading now if you care about spoilers.

I’d also like to let everyone know in advance I am not a longtime fan of Castlevania, I’ve been aware of the franchise for many years but I never played any of the games. If I get any of the terminology wrong please forgive me.

Also Castlevania is the property of Konami and the Netflix series is the property of Netflix, I claim no ownership of either. All of the art pictured here is from the Netflix series and belongs to their artists, it is also pretty great and definitely helps make the show worth your time. So without further ado…


I’ve seen these things called imps and goblins, to me they look like Red Court vampires from The Dresden Files. At any rate they seem to make up the bulk of Dracula’s demonic army.


Medium fiend, chaotic evil

Armor Class 13 (natural armor)

Hit Points 18

Speed 60 ft., climb 20 ft, flight 40 ft.

Str 10 (+0) Dex 16 (+3) Con 12 (+1) Int 8 (-1) Wis 10 (+0) Cha 8 (-1)

Skills Perception +2, Stealth +5

Damage Vulnerabilities Cold, radiant

Damage Immunities Fire

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10

Languages  Abyssal, Common

Challenge 1


Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+3) slashing damage.

Infernal Blast. Range Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, 60/100 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (1d8+6) fire damage. Creatures within 30 ft. of the target must make a DC 14 Dexterity Saving throw, on a failed saving throw they take half as much damage as the hit target, on a successful saving throw they take no damage. All objects in the radius of the attack that are not being held burst into flames.

Shock troops for Dracula these summoned monsters serve as the foot soldiers in his army. They are capable warriors able to spread violence throughout cities and the surrounding countryside with ease.

Please note, Infernal Blast is meant to be a powerful attack capable of dealing huge damage. It can kill or seriously injure an entire low-level party if they aren’t careful as well as setting fire to everything in the immediate area. I designed it that way because we see these things peppering cities with these blasts and setting them ablaze in minutes. You may want to warn the party by having one of these things fire off a round at NPCs or buildings before opening fire on your players.


I love seeing a cyclops used as a monster, and this one is a bit like a beholder crossed with a cyclops. Easily the best monster in the Netflix series so far in my opinion.

Stone-Eye Cyclops

Huge fiend, lawful evil

Armor Class 16 (natural armor)

Hit Points 82

Speed 20 ft.

Str 18 (+4) Dex 12 (+1) Con 16 (+3) Int 10 (+0) Wis 10 (+0) Cha 8 (-1)

Skills Perception +5

Condition Immunities Petrified

Damage Vulnerabilities Radiant

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12

Languages  Abyssal, Common

Challenge 5

Feast on Terror. The Stone-Eye Cyclops feeds on the terror of those it has turned to stone, it regains 1d4 hit points each turn for each living victim it has turned to stone. It also adds +1 to any roll it makes for each living victim it has petrified.

Thundering Footsteps. Creatures and objects within 5 ft. of the Stone-Eye Cyclops when it moves take 1d4 bludgeoning damage.


Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d8+6) bludgeoning damage.

Eye Ray. Range Weapon Attack: +0 to hit, 30/60 ft., one target. The target must succeed on a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed saving throw, the creatures turns to stone and is petrified.  Petrified creatures can only be returned to normal by killing the Stone-Eye cyclops that turned them to stone.

Powerful guardians that can be utilized to protect valuables or locations from unwanted visitors these towering behemoths are terrors to all. Although they’re more than capable or tearing treasure hunters limb from limb whenever the mood strikes them, they usually prefer turning intruders to stone so that they can feed off of their fear. The lair of a Stone-Eye Cyclops is almost always marked by the petrified bodies of their victims.

As I said this thing is like a cyclops and a beholder crossbreed, which amazing and horrifying all at once. The eye ray requires the cyclops to hit the opponents AC and then the players gets to make a dex save to avoid being petrified. This is, again, a savage attack that can take a player out of the action in one stroke. The cyclops shouldn’t be able to sneak up on a party so they’ll have some warning of what is coming. I went this direction because unlike the beholder who slowly turns victims to stone I wanted to give a more cinematic feel to the cyclops.  A huge beam engulfs your wizard and they’re just gone in an instant.

Anyway I hope someone out there finds these amusing if nothing else, thanks for reading.

Episode 95: Adventures in Middle-Earth Part 2 The Dangers of Mirkwood

In the 2nd introduction to our Adventures in Middle-Earth campaign we join an elf on parol deep in the southern reached of Mirkwood.

Way of the Iron Lightning

Fans of Critical Role will probably be familiar with the Gunslinger Martial Archetype for Fighters created by Matthew Mercer. I used that as a guidepost for creating a character centered on firerarms, but I went in a very different direction with this Monastic Tradition.

These monks employ firearms at close range in unison with martial arts making them even more deadly. The idea was inspired by history and fiction in equal measure, and I think it would make for some very interesting characters.

I didn’t want to break the game, or just saddle characters with a useless lump of iron. Nor did I want to steal from Matthew Mercer, who made the Gunsmith into something pretty amazing. To that end I went to the drawing board and started tinkering.

For the most part these monks don’t have the extreme range one might expect from such a thing, but again they’re meant to be using their weapons at close range. There are mechanics to better explain how that works below. I also wanted to emphasize their ability to use ki and to channel it through these weapons.

Is this perfect? Heck no and it could sure use some playtesting. I still think it is a worthwhile idea and I’d be happy to hear people’s thoughts on it.

Way of the Iron Lightning

A Monastic Tradition for the Monk Class

Monks of the Way of the Soaring Iron are masters at employing firearms at range and in close combat, utilizing them to deal devastating damage to their foes when partnered with their martial prowess. Monks who follow this path have learned the secret arts of forging firearms, and then how to employ them at close range to devastating effect. These monks are usually sworn to the service of a power, and serve as guardians or protectors of that power until their dying day. It is not unheard of for some to abandon their vows of service to take to the road as mercenaries.

Fists that Hold the Roar of Thunder

Starting when you choose this tradition at 3rd level you gain proficiency with firearms allowing you to add your proficiency bonus when making attacks with them.

You also learn channel your ki through your firearms giving you supernatural abilities when using them. You no longer have disadvantage when making attack rolls with your firearms when targeting a foe within 5 ft.

Unlike other firearms you also learn to use yours in melee as bludgeoning weapons. They are usually fitted with heavy weight in the handles, making them like clubs.

Ki Crafted Firearms

You gain proficiency with Tinkerer’s Tools. You may use them to craft ammunition or firearms, or to repair damaged firearms. All weapons created by monks of the Way of the Iron Lightning are crafted by channeling ki into them. Ki is an essential part of these tools, and they cannot be employed by anyone who has not learned to harness these mystic energies.

Cacophany of Thundering Shots

At the 6th level you gain additional abilities to channel your ki into your firearms.  Immediately after you take the Attack action on your turn, you can spend 1 ki points to an additional with your firearm as a bonus action.

You can also spend 1 ki point to convert the damage from your firearm to thunder or lightning type when using this ability.

Eyes that See the Path

At the 11th level you gain a preternatural ability to sense oncoming attacks at range. All ranged attacks targeting you alone (This does not include cones, lines, blasts, cubes, spheres, or cylinders) have disadvantage. When a ranged attack misses you, you can immediately make an attack with your firearm as a bonus action.

Serenity of the Swooping Eagle

At the 17th level you gain the ability to take spend a full round aiming for your next shot, you cannot take any other actions during this round of combat, including bonus actions. When making your next attack add a +10 bonus to your attack roll and 2d12 to your damage. If the attack is successful the target must make a Dexterity saving throw with a DC equal to your attack roll, on a failed saving throw the target is knocked back 5 ft., and knocked prone.


Name                              Cost                       Damage                                         Weight                 Range  

The Coming Storm       Crafted                 1d8 Piercing/1d8 bludgeoning      10 lbs                (50/80)

The Twin Suns (Dual)  Crafted                 2d8 Piercing/2d8 bludgeoning      18 lbs                (40/75)

The Winding Path         Crafted                 2d10 Piercing                                   22 lbs              (100/300)


All of the firearms employed by monks of this monastic tradition are single-load weapons. They must be reloaded after each shot.

Hagrid’s Enchanted Motorbike 5e Version

One of the first magical items seen in the Harry Potter series, and certainly the loudest, is Hagrid’s enchanted motorbike. Hagrid has always been one of my favorite character from the books, and the thought of creating a version of his bike that could work in a D&D game amused me to no end.

Enchanted Motorbike

Wondrous Item, Unique

Originally belonging to Sirius Black it was passed on to Rubeus Hagrid after the deaths of Lily and James Potter. This enchanted enchanted motorbike is capable of flying over long distances at great speed. It was later modified to include defensive measures meant to aid in the escort of Harry Potter during The Second Wizard War.

Normally the enchanted motorbike has a flying movement of 150 ft., and a ground movement of 75 ft.

The headlight is capable of producing bright light directly in front of itself for a distance of 50 ft.

One weakness of the enchanted motorbike is that it is extremely loud and easy to track magically. Characters attempting to make a Dexterity (Stealth) check while using the enchanted motorbike have disadvantage and suffer a -10 penalty to their roll. Spells rolls and Wisdom (Perception) checks made to attempt to track the motorbike’s movement have advantage.

The traps and defenses added to the enchanted motorbike make it far more powerful, but each can only be used once per day. The motorbike regains the use of these powers after 24 hours.

Net: Loaded with an enchanted net that is expelled from the exhaust pipe it functions much the same as a Muggle net, but is propelled magically. See pg. 148 of The Player’s Handbook for rules on nets.

Brick Wall: Functioning similarly to the spell Wall of Stone the Enchanted Motorbike expels a solid brick wall directly in the path of an oncoming pursuer. This version of the spell has the benefit of requiring no components, or concentration to be maintained. Once the wall is created it remains present unless destroyed. See pg. 287 of The Player’s Handbook for the full explanation of the spell.

Dragon Fire: A line of flame erupts from the exhaust pipe sending the Enchanted Motorbike rocketing forward, effectively doubling its movement speed for one round. The range of the line is 100 ft., any creature standing directly in the path of the line must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed saving throw the hit creatures take 10d10 fire damage, on a successful saving throw they take half damage.

Speed 150 mph

Crew 1

Passengers 1

Cargo –

AC 15

HP 120

Damage Threshold 10

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