Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work. Today, its a video from last weekend of several actors playing D&D with Chris Perkins behind the screen.
I still haven’t watched the whole video, but I can tell you that, while all four of them got the hang of building character concepts and role-playing (duh; they’re actors), David Harbour clearly understood how to play these kinds of games. At one point, he spontaneously helped along a confused Pom Klementieff as if he were an experienced DM.
There were some funny moments throughout. Here’s one.
I was invited to an online, 5e D&D game with some friends. The recent release of Mythic Odysseys of Theros inspired me to accept. Our first session was last night. I’m playing a leonine (anthropomorphic lion) fighter modeled after the archetypical Spartan. Dory spear, xiphos, loin cloth; all the trimmings.
The character, Grexes, has been transported through space and time by the blacksmith god, Purphoros, from the world of Theros to the Forgotten Realms. His quirk: He speaks in riddles. For example, when he went to the bar, he asked the host for that which has four legs but cannot run (table, though chair works). As a player, this is hard to pull off, but that’s a good thing. I won’t be able to overdo it to the point it becomes annoying. I also sprinkle in Greek care of Google Translate. For example, I refer to Waterdeep as the most splendid polis I’ve ever seen. This also isn’t overdone because Grexes is notably learning Common through divine inspiration. Being from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, he otherwise wouldn’t be able to communicate effectively.
If you like this post, please retweet it. Or comment. Seriously, more than any others, I’d like to know if anyone actually likes this post. That’d be weird.
Better late than never?
I wrote this in 2012 but never published it. I wanted to finish Part II before doing so, but I never really learned how to create artifacts in 4th Edition D&D, so that never happened. It’s been sitting in my Drafts folder for 8 years and 9 days. Just in case anyone is playing 4th edition and can make use of these high-paragon to epic level NPC stat blocks, and/or my take on their history, here they are. I’m not optimistic, but this “quarantine life” finds me posting a lot of material. Warning: I haven’t proofread this other than to delete a dead link. 🙂
In 2010, Wizards of the Coast published Dragon 178, and in it was an article that provided 4th Edition material for the creatures that appeared in the remake of Clash of the Titans. With the release of the sequel, Wrath of the Titans, it’s time for a sequel to the article. This article contains the stat blocks for the creatures that appeared in the movie. Part II will provide the artifacts that appeared in the movie: Zeus’s Thunderbolt, Hades’ Pitchfork, Poseidon’s Trident, and the Spear of Triam, as well as the stat block for Kronos himself.
These creatures are built based in large part on how they were portrayed in Wrath of the Titans. Obviously, the movie took (far too many) liberties with the legends, and at times the legends themselves contradict, so don’t expect a perfect congruence between the creatures as presented here and your personal understanding of their legendary counterparts. FYI, a third movie is planned. May Tharizdum have mercy on our souls.
The Chthonic Cyclopes of Hephaestus
Hephaestus guarded himself with three Cyclopes, a father and his two sons. These giants aren’t by any means evil, but as brutes, they tend to fire, ready, and aim in that order. They represent a good test of character for PCs that might take the same approach. Sometimes tact is the best weapon you have. If that fails, they’ll never attack someone wielding Poseidon’s Trident.
Arcana 37: Chthonic Cyclopes are master blacksmiths that aid Hephaestus in his work. Though not inherently evil, they’re territorial and fiercely protective of their master. They will attack first and ask questions later, but they will certainly
The Chthonic Cyclops is the epitome of a brute, charging into battle against any sentient creature daring to intrude upon Hephaestus’s island sanctuary. It will use Hurl Foliage to toss tree trunks at its opponents until it has entered melee range, then switching to Sweeping Club to lay waste to its enemies. For lower-level characters, they represent an opportunity to negotiate a truce in the heat of battle by way of a skill challenge. For higher-level characters, they represent a good test of character for PCs that might be inclined to immediately attack. Sometimes tact is the best weapon you have. If that fails, they’ll never attack someone wielding Poseidon’s Trident.
Unlike their better-known, worldly cousins, these creatures have only two heads, both of which are that of wolves that can spew ignited venom. Additionally, their tails end in serpent’s head that packs a poisonous bite.
Religion 32: Residents of the underworld, these immortal beasts serve Hades as a reminder of the order of things. Their master, god of the Underworld, Hades, relies upon the fear of mortals to feed his divinity, and uses Wolf-Chimeras as a source of that fear. Hades occasionally sends these creatures to the World to random places at random times, leaving its residents in constant state of fear. The resultant carnage can weaken a city’s resources, or forever wipe remote villages from the World.
Wolf-Chimeras are used by gods of the underworld to strike the occasional chord of fear. However, they occasionally serve as an initial wave of attack in a war against humanity, serving as a harbinger of much worse things to come.
A Wolf-Chimera begins combat by closing the gap with Ferocious Leap. The Wolf-Chimera will use Flaming Venom whenever available, but will otherwise use double attack to do as much damage as possible.
The Tartaran Minotaur
The greatest of minotaurs guards the greatest of mazes. With a spirit-filled maze, Tarterus, as its domain, this already fearsome creature knows exactly how to strike fear into the hearts of its enemies, then tears them to pieces with his natural weapons.
Religion 35: When Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon commissioned Hephaestus to create the prison-maze of Tartarus, the architect knew that a guardian was needed. Knowing of the affinity minotaurs have for mazes, Hephaestus chose from among their greatest warriors the honor of immortality, all for the small price of eternal damnation. It took very little time for the guardian’s rage to cross into the realm of insanity, but his insanity didn’t stand in the way of complete mastery of his domain. He uses its effects to full advantage.
The great maze of Tartarus houses the souls of those who lived treacherous lives. These souls find little solace in their eternal existence and savor the rare opportunity to feed off the fear of the living that pass through their prison. They accomplish this feat by uncovering the greatest fear from within the minds of their targets and enhancing it. The Tartaran Minotaur takes full advantage of the crippling effect this causes.
The Tartaran Minotaur attacks with its bare hands and horns. It attempts to gain surprise — a feat made relatively easy by its surroundings and at-will invisibility — and attack an unsuspecting target with its Teleporting Slam. Once isolated with its prey, the Tartaran Minotaur stays hidden the shadows, slipping in and out of invisibility, and doing extra damage from the resulting combat advantage.
Soldier of Kronos
When Kronos formally launches his war against humanity, he will be preceded into battle by the damned souls of long-dead soldiers, some of whom are fused into a single being.
Religion 31: When a great soldier dies, he becomes a leader in Hades’ army. When a mediocre soldier dies, his life force is joined to another in the hopes that together they will serve competently as foot soldiers in that army. Accordingly, these dual-torso soldiers serve as the first line of attack in the war waged upon residents of the World by the god of the underworld.
Soldiers of Kronos protect Kronos from harm while he remains imprisoned. As Kronos emerges from the underworld to begin his war against humanity, he hurls Soldiers of Kronos onto the battlefield before him, where they weaken his enemy’s forces by literally slicing through their ranks.
The Soldier of Kronos is thrown onto the battlefield by Kronos. Upon landing, it uses Cinder Strike to burn all in its range, then immediately hurls itself into battle using Rain of Steel. It constantly moves across the battlefield, attacking a different target each round. It focuses on a single target only if no other targets remain.
The quarantine has me doing a bit of blogging lately, which means I’m also looking at my stats. With respect to my posts regarding copyright and RPGs:
The posts are broken into two separate issues. Part 1 and part 2 are about the copyrightability of RPG stat blocks, and part 3 (not relevant here) is about the OGL. As to the first issue, to date, part 1 represents ~30% of text by page count and has 17,037 hits, whereas part 2 (70%) has only 704 hits. Moreover, part 1 spends much of its text on going over basic copyright principles that don’t represent the actual argument. It’s clear by the stats and the basis of the criticism itself (often peppered with personal insults) that the vast majority of (non-lawyer) criticism I’ve received is from people that have read only 30% (at most) of that argument. I know it’s long, convoluted, and at times poorly written (mostly because it targets two very different audiences); and you’re under no obligation to read it (or even care about it). However, it’s all connected, and if you’re going to criticize it, you should probably understand it first.
Or not. Free speech and all that.
Part 3 has only 703 hits, which is surprising. I thought it would be the most-read post.
Part 4 answers frequently asked questions and addresses frequently raised issues.
Over on a lawyers-only subreddit, all the attorneys seemed to want to discuss is my side note on the patentability of the Shadow of the Demon Lord initiative system. I guess it’s great that they all agree that my argument is trivially correct, but Rob Schwalb has seriously hijacked my glory. No worries, though. I gave him hell when I saw him in February.
I just wanted to give an update on the situation with Wizards of the Coast and my one-stop stat blocks. To review, I created stat blocks that were stand-alone. When using them at the table, you have no need to reference the Player’s Handbook (or others) when using spells with your NPCs. The entire spell description is contained in the stat block, but expressed as concisely as possible.
Hi – I’m with the Wizards of the Coast legal team – we recently became aware of your project.
It looks like you’ve basically copied the text from our books, added check boxes and spell descriptions, and then placed your own copyright notice on the bottom. I am curious what is transformative enough to warrant the notice. Also, how does this infringing material fill a “hole” in Wizards product offerings.
Wizards realizes that the Dungeons & Dragons books are more than just “rules” or “instructions.” The text is highly descriptive, and as such, is inherently copyrightable.
Wizards requests that you remove your stat blocks, or create your own material under the Open Game License.
Within this single, six-sentence email, there is a glaring mischaracterization of the project, an attempt to use legalese to confuse me, and a stunning display of willful ignorance. I’m assuming the ignorance is willful because the alternative assumption would be quite insulting to Mr. Dunham. He then mischaracterizes the nature of stat blocks (in the context of copyright law) recklessly makes two unlawful demands. In truth, the only sentence without an error in it is the first one. I’m sure he indeed works for WotC and only recently learned of the project.
I know I promised a quick response and republication, but good work takes time. My response is coming soon, and it’ll be a doozy. I’ve drafted three articles that will expose WotC’s conduct over the last 10-15 years. They’re currently being reviewed by other attorneys — some that focus on intellectual property, and some that don’t — and I’m reaching the finish line. The third article will link to the one-stop stat blocks, which have been expanded upon quite a bit. If you’re a fan of them, you’ll be floored by what’s coming. WotC, not so much, but that’ll be the least of their problems.
In the meantime, I again provide you with a copy of the template so that you can easily create your own one-stop stat blocks. Happy gaming!
We’re still in need of DMs to run D&D at the All-Star Comic Con, on June 8-9, 2019, at the Sheraton in Tysons Corner, Virginia. The gaming schedule is up (available by clicking here), but only the Pathfinder and Starfinder games are allowing sign ups (do so!) because those are the only ones with assigned GMs. We still need DMs for our D&D games.
If you’re interested, please send me an email at email@example.com. Let me know which games you’re willing to run. I have two half-price badges for the con available to the first ones to sign up as DMs for a few slots.
On another note, I’ve recently been made aware of a 5th edition sequel to my favorite AD&D adventure, the C2: Ghost Tower of Inverness. I’m still reviewing it, but this is faithful to the original in that it’s written as a competitive adventure. If you’d be interested in running that, I can easily replace some adventures with that one, and I’m happy to run a table of it myself. Even if we can’t get signups for multiple tables at the same time, I can keep track of the scoring from session to session and email the results to all involved after the convention is over.
In any case, let me know if, when, and what you’re interested in running.
A paralegal at Wizards of the Coast sent me an email demanding I take down my one-stop stat block project. It’s clear he really didn’t read the document because he made a rather glaring factual error. He also insulted my intelligence. I can live with that, but it shows what I’m dealing with. I responded and await his reply. I’m mulling over my best course of action, which of course depends on their response and how condescending they are. Even if I decide to comply, I promise you that won’t actually be the end of it. I meant it when I said I didn’t want to be their adversary, but they’ve chosen to poke the bear. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, if you want to be able to create these yourself, I’ve provided a link below to a Word document containing various versions of the stat blocks. This way you won’t have nearly as much formatting to do. You will, however, have to create language for spell descriptions, etc. (at least for now). There’s a quirk in WordPress. You’ll have to click on the link, which brings you to a page where you’ll have to click on a separate link to download the document.
Edit: You can find the one-stop stat blocks starting here. Each sourcebook conversion was published as a separate post on the same day, so just go to the link provided, then jump to the bottom of that page, and then click on the link to the next post in line.
At the request of a Twitter user, I’ve resumed my work on the One-Stop Stat Blocks for Volo’s Guide to Monsters. I’m nowhere’s near finished — I’ve finished only 17 of the 45 stat blocks I intend to convert — but something is better than nothing, and more are coming. Also of note is that I found some errors in two of my existing docs, so they’re replaced below. Please contact me with any errors you find.
These were removed on May 12, 2019, at 8:14 PM EDT. They should be back within the week, along with other material that I wasn’t planning on publishing. If you loved what I was doing, you’re really going to love what’s coming.
I don’t do this for the money, but if you’d like to donate to my efforts, feel free to send me whatever you want (including nothing) via PayPal.
As a last note, I get a recurring question on these docs. People have requested the Word document that I use as a template to create these stat blocks. I don’t give that out because I don’t want to make this easy for people to copy all of the stat blocks from any of the books (something that is clearly on the minds of many people criticizing me*** for not publishing the template). Doing so could damage Wizard of the Coast’s sales for their books. My intent is to fill a hole that they left in their work, not to replace their work entirely and harm their sales. I appreciate the hard work they did in producing the game and want them to enjoy the benefits of that work.
*** Yeah, you read that correctly. I’ve actually been criticized for delivering a free, supplemental product that isn’t comprehensive enough.
Why would I pay one cent for this if I didn’t know whether or not it was useful to me?
On the other hand, if she published it without a paywall, then asked for money, she’d get next to nothing regardless of how good it is.
Unlike adventures, content like this will always be cursed by this paradox unless the content retains a value after being published as a PDF. Ergo, I believe the solution here is for WotC to facilitate incorporation of this material into their digital system, D&D Beyond. Beyond doesn’t allow us to create custom classes or builds because it requires more complicated coding behind the scenes. Therefore, the only way for it to be incorporated into Beyond is for WotC to do it themselves, which opens up the market for this kind of community-created content. She could sell the Operatic Bard for $1.99 and get the same cut that she currently gets for the PDF. Or more. Or less. The details don’t currently concern me.
The timing of this article is of particular interest to me because I just received the magnificent Journey to Ragnarok and have no way of incorporating the new class (Rune Master) into D&D Beyond, nor can I add the new builds for the barbarian, bard, cleric, druid, fighter, monk, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard (yeah, pretty much all of them). My gaming has dropped off dramatically as of late. Long story short, it’s not worth the time investment to play. Being able to run Journey to Ragnarok with access to D&D Beyond would be quite an incentive to get me back into the fold. If not, then my interest will continue to wane. I don’t know if I’m in any way representative of a large group of people, but there’s some anecdotal evidence as to why this is a good idea.
Again, I don’t think this applies to NPC stat blocks because they’re easily added to Beyond by the end user. I also don’t think this applies to adventures because players are willing to take chances on adventures based on the synopsis and based on the fact that even a “bad” adventure can still be fun. This applies only to classes, builds, or anything else that end users can’t add to D&D Beyond themselves.
What do you think? Is WotC dropping the ball to some extent by not incorporating community-created classes and builds into D&D Beyond? Would you be more inclined to create classes and builds if you knew they could sell.
Well, that was fast. Converting my original “one-stop” stat blocks document to a “pure” form was easier than expected. What does “pure” mean?
In the original document, I edited the stat blocks for a couple of reasons. Monsters over CR 5 are typically underpowered with respect to how much damage their Actions do. I suspect that the reason for this is related to the fact that the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide were released separately. While that time difference is relatively short, I suspect the two were written independently and thus aren’t in sync. I suggest the following changes in order to reconcile these stat blocks with the table on page 274 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating.
Some of these changes, however, I suggest because I found the monsters as written boring or otherwise lacking. While I found the giants far too similar to one another, I was especially annoyed by the fact that the Azer, Githzerai, and Githyanki don’t have ranged attacks. As far as I’m concerned, a DM should be able to create an encounter based on what’s interesting rather than whether it makes tactics too easy for the PCs, and the entire point of this project was to make things easier on the DM. I also find it incredulous that a Cloud Giant doesn’t have a Create Beanstalk power. C’mon!
Nevertheless, my changes resulted in complaints. The Adventurers League players were concerned that my stat blocks were “illegal” because they made changes that the DMs weren’t permitted to make those changes. To satisfy their concerns, I created an index that showed exactly how I changed the stat blocks. Converting them back to their boring, underpowered selves would be a snap.
Nope. Still not good enough for some, so in the spirit of making this as easy for the DMs as possible, I’ve created a “pure” document in which the stat blocks have no edits. Then I changed the appendix to reflect my edits as suggestions. That’s what I’ve provided here. As a reminder, the same rules apply to this document, which includes, among others, that I used shorthand to keep them as reasonable in length as possible. This means that one could take advantage of loose language to maximize the creatures. If you choose to do that, that’s on you. Also, I could use your proofreading, and if you have any other suggestions, please let me know. As you can see from the original post, I respond.
My next project will be based on Volo’s Guide to Monsters,and will take much longer to complete. Moreover, it’s competing with some other projects I have. Please be patient.
Here’s the complete list so far (in order of creation):