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[sticky post] Visit Parsantium.com for updates

Now that my Wordpress blog at parsantium.com has been going strong for a year, I'm going to stop crossposting Parsantium content here, and go back to using this Livejournal primarily for session logs from my D&D games.

If you want to keep up to date on Parsantium: City at the Crossroads, please visit parsantium.com.

You can buy Parsantium in PDF and print online at drivethrurpg.com, paizo.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.com and d20pfsrd.com.

If you want to support your FLGS, print copies are in stock in London's Leisure Games and Orc's Nest.

Confused GM Crib Sheet

I've been getting a bit confused recently remembering how things like opportunity attacks and shooting into melee work in the different D&D editions. I'm currently playing Pathfinder on Monday nights, finishing up my long-running 4e Parsantium campaign and DMing two groups through Lost Mine of Phandelver. I also plan to run some more 13th Age again soon. No wonder I'm getting things muddled up!

To try and dispel some of this confusion I made this little crib sheet. It's not intended to be comprehensive but does cover some of the things that are similar but slightly different from edition to edition. Hope some of you find it useful too. Feedback and suggestions welcome!

Ready for What's Next

Like everyone else, I'm really excited about the new D&D books now that we have a release schedule and have seen the very cool cover art. I'm even more excited as we bought our GenCon event tickets on Sunday and are going to be playing in a couple of D&D Next games in August. After over two years of playtesting various iterations, some good and some less so, I'm looking forward to playing the finished game.

Player"s Handbook    Monster Manual

Although some folk aren't keen on the staggered release dates, I'm actually rather pleased by this. During the 2e to 3e transition (when the new books were also published a month or so apart) it felt like there was enough time to properly read and digest all the new rules before starting a game, and not having everything until November will give me some much needed time to finish up my long-running 4e Parsantium campaign and make sure it ends with a bang! I'm still undecided whether to run my new Parsantium campaign under D&D or 13th Age either, so having more time will help us make the right choice for our group.

With the new edition of D&D on the horizon, I'm convinced I did the right thing in keeping Parsantium almost stat-free so it can be readily used with any edition or variant of D&D, whether that's 5e, Pathfinder, 13th Age or Adventurer Conqueror King. We don't know yet if there will be any kind of 3rd party licence arrangement or SRD for Next, but I hope there will be something that gives me the option of writing adventures and other Parsantium supplements compatible with the new edition. In the meantime, I'm going to continue writing up 13th Age icons for the setting, then my plan is to write an adventure or two, perhaps following the model WotC used for Murder in Baldur's Gate and Legacy of the Crystal Shard and providing stats for Pathfinder and 13th Age, plus D&D, licence permitting. I'm not sure yet but the next few months are going to be interesting...

Now on Paizo

Huzzah! Parsantium: City at the Crossroads is now available to buy in PDF on paizo.com.

There's also been some nice feedback about the book on the Dragonsfoot forums and The Piazza too.

Parsantium: City at the Crossroads cover image

Crossposted from http://parsantium.wordpress.com/blog

After a lovely week in Kalkan, Turkey to recharge our batteries in the sunshine, we are back in Blighty and working hard on Parsantium: City at the Crossroads again. We’ve got the week off from our day jobs this week so the plan is to get as much as possible done and hopefully finish the first edit. While we were in Turkey we visited the fascinating Greco-Roman ruins at Xanthos – see below for a picture of its Roman amphitheatre, not dissimilar to Parsantium’s Theatre of Cytherea!

Kate finished her first edit of the huge Gazetteer chapter today, leaving “just” the Organizations and Religion chapters to do. I have completed my revisions to the Imperial and Mercantile Quarters and will work on the Old Quarter and Hidden Quarter tomorrow to finish off the Gazetteer. Once the first edit is done, we’ll be putting the text into InDesign and working on the layout. Six out of eight pieces of art are in from Matt Morrow already, with six to come shortly from Marc Radle, along with the city map by Jonathan Roberts. There’s a lot to do but we are going to do our best to hit our planned November release date.

The other exciting news is that hopefully there will an opportunity for some of you in the UK to play in a Parsantium game at Dragonmeet on 7th December. The schedule is still to be confirmed but I am planning to run a Pathfinder game in the morning while Steve Dempsey will run the same adventure under the excellent 13th Age system in the afternoon. More information as soon as things are firmed up.



Roman Amphitheatre at Xanthos

Photo by Richard Green

A City for All Editions

Crossposted from: http://parsantium.wordpress.blog

On Saturday I ran my paragon tier 4e D&D game, tonight I’m playtesting D&D Next online, and on Monday night I’m playing in Pathfinder’s Rise of the Runelords adventure path. Oh, and I’m reading the 13th Age pdf at the moment and eagerly awaiting my print copy of the rulebook. I don’t think I’m the only one in this situation, so I’m very keen that Parsantium: City at the Crossroads is easily usable with whatever edition of D&D or D&D-like game you are playing. There aren’t really any game mechanics or stats in the book for this very reason – the model I’m using is that of Green Ronin’s Pirate’s Guide to Freeport or recent WotC books like Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue. Story and flavour over stat blocks.

As I ploughed through the first draft of the book, I included all the stuff that had been in my 4e Parsantium campaign, including dragonborn, eladrin and genasi, as well as references to spells, magic items and other cool stuff from earlier editions and Pathfinder that don’t necessarily exist in 4th edition. I knew I couldn’t include beholders, mind flayers and yuan-ti, but a lot of other D&D references are in there. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been revising the manuscript and I realised I needed to make a call on whether I would use the GSL, OGL, both, or neither in the book.

After a lot of thought and some helpful advice from some sensible folks in the industry and on message boards, I’ve come to the conclusion that trying to use both the GSL and OGL correctly would require the (expensive) services of a lawyer to make sure I didn’t get it wrong, and I’d much rather spend my money on better art for the book. Since I need to include stuff that isn’t in 4e, I’ve made a decision to go with the more straightforward OGL and use Pathfinder/OGL equivalents where necessary (so eladrin become high elves etc). There’s also been a fair bit of interest in the book on the Paizo boards so it sounds like putting a “Pathfinder compatible” logo on the front might help sales.

I really do want to stress the book is (almost) systemless though. It refers to D&D tropes like otyughs, slippers of spider climbing and magic missile but it doesn’t contain stat blocks for the NPCs or monsters. You can use it with Pathfinder, 4e, D&D Next, AD&D, 13th Age or whatever D&D-like fantasy RPG you like. The one thing I am planning is to add the kind of NPC shorthand you got in old AD&D books so the text might say “Yuroslav Bloodclaw (N male gnoll druid 9)” before launching into the NPC’s description just to give an idea of how powerful (or not) a particular character is.

Any thoughts on this approach? Aside from putting the words “For Use with All Editions of the World’s Most Popular Fantasy Roleplaying Games” in giant letters on the cover, is there anything else I should do to get the “all welcome” message across?

Maison Tiskiwin, Marrakesh

On the roof II

We're trapped in a farmhouse defending it from dozens of ghouls. There are PCs on the roof - this time represented by little bulldog clips.

My latest book, So What's the Tavern Like Anyway? II, came out today and is available at drivethrurpg.com.

I've enjoyed all five of the books I've written this year for Raging Swan Press but this is my favourite kind of game design – writing about fantasy locations (in this case, inns & taverns) and describing the associated NPCs that a party of adventurers comes across during the course of a campaign. The book has 20 taverns described in it. Creighton asked me to write 10,000 words which meant some were shorter, half page entries, while others were longer and meant to fill a whole page. In the end, he has done a brilliant job of expanding the shorter entries so each establishment fills a page, making the book is 25 pages for just £2.49 ($3.99).

I am very pleased with how the book has turned out and it's already had a five star review on drivethrurpg.com/RPG Now!

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Navras of the Tamiir-Quah

This is what my new Pathfinder PC, Navras, looks like:

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Navras is a Shoanti, and was exiled from the Tamiir-Quah (Wind Clan) after nearly killing the man who attacked his sister. He has had to leave his childhood sweetheart, Conchaka, behind in the northern mountains of Varisia.

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A 4e #dnd Player's First Game of Pathfinder

Last night I played my first proper session of Pathfinder. I played and ran D&D 3rd Edition/3.5 for nine years and had also played the first scenario in the Pathfinder Beginner Box but this was my first full-on Pathfinder game. So, how hard was it going back to a variant of the edition I’d stopped playing in 2009? The answer is not very.

We were playing the Rise of the Runelords adventure path, set in Paizo’s colourful Golarion setting, and our GM and group were great fun to play with. Rob’s gnomish bard Scaramouche Fandango made me laugh – a lot – and there were a lot of funny moments. Having a good group is the most important thing, not the rules system, and having a strong adventure helps too. I’ve also been playtesting a fair bit of D&D Next recently and the two systems are not that different in feel.

My Pathfinder character is a spell-less ranger (not that standard Pathfinder rangers have spells at 1st level) facing my favoured enemy, goblins, so had a lot of fun taking quite a few of them out with my longsword and longbow. I didn’t really miss having cool martial powers but I think, like the D&D Next feedback is showing, there is a middle ground between giving everyone “spells” and giving the fighter types nothing interesting to do in combat. A small number of per encounter or per day special attacks for non-spellcasters would be my preference. 

Combat was fast and we fought through three groups of goblins in a series of linked encounters. Combat speed is one of my biggest issues with 4e and playing with counters and a grid (actually a nice colourful battlemat) didn’t slow us down. Then again, we are only 1st level so it’s hard for the more dithery players in our group to spend ages thinking what to do on their turns with a very limited selection of options to pick from.

A couple of things annoyed me. The main one was critical threats. This rule needs to go. A natural 20 should be a critical – it’s very frustrating to roll one, not confirm the critical and then do crappy damage! Hopefully the GM will house rule it out. In addition, none of us could remember the different bonuses for attacking a prone opponent , flanking and so on. 4e streamlined these to +2 and Next has the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic, both of which are more elegant and easier to remember. I haven’t yet got my head round CMB and CMD but it these two stats mean that the hideous 3.x grappling rules are gone, then huzzah!

Overall, it was a very fun session with lots of good roleplaying and fast-moving battles so I am eagerly awaiting the next episode!

IMG_3929

There's been a second awesome review posted for So What's the Tavern Like, Anyway? on the Paizo website! This book, written by me and Liz Smith, includes loads of tables to help the busy DM make the taverns and inns in his or her game well detailed and memorable.

It's great to see the stuff I've written is appreciated by other gamers, and this review is particularly timely as I'm about to start writing a follow up to the first Taverns book for Raging Swan.

You can pick up So What's the Tavern Like, Anyway? for just $3.99

PZOPDFRSP101247E_500
As I sit here in Yellowstone National Park enjoying a cold bottle of Fat Tire Amber Ale after a hard day's walking around looking at geysers and hot springs, I am very pleased to report that So What's the Armour Like, Anyway? has had two great reviews on Paizo's web page. You can check them out here, and also order the PDF:

paizo.com - So What's The Armour Like, Anyway? (PFRPG) PDF

Out now: So What's the Armour Like, Anyway?

My latest D&D book, So What's the Armour Like, Anyway?, is out now from Raging Swan and can be downloaded here at RPGNow for the bargain price of $3.99/£2.51.

The book includes dozens of descriptions of armour and shields to help the busy GM add some detail into his or her game, and should prove very handy at the gaming table. I'm really pleased with how this one has turned out. As well as referring to couters, pauldrons and vambraces, it also contains the word "crikey".

While writing the book, I starting pinning pictures of cool armour to a Pinterest board for inspiration, and I've carried on since. If you're on Pinterest, you can check it out here,
The product page is up for this already, so just as well I completed it this morning and sent it to the publisher. Phew! It releases on 20th August.

As always, I had a lot of fun writing this and it should prove handy to the busy DM who wants to make treasure more interesting, and add depth and detail to his campaign. And like my other So What titles it's just as easy to use with 4e or AD&D as it is with Pathfinder/3.x
Very pleased to get such an excellent review for my latest "So What" book at RPG Now!

Check it out here.
My third book for Raging Swan, co-written with Liz Smith, is now available from RPG Now and Paizo. This one should prove handy to any D&D or Pathfinder GM whose PCs like to visit inns and taverns. You can check out some samples on the product page here.

Very pleased with how it's turned out!

Tavern_front1_220
The book I co-wrote with Liz Smith on taverns has a preview page up on Raging Swan's site here. You can download a sample section on tavern customers.

I had a lot of fun doing this one, and I think it will be very handy for the busy GM who needs to describe a tavern in a hurry.

Tavern_front1_220
Very chuffed to get a 5 star review for So What's the Weapon Like, Anyway? at RPG Now/Drivethrurpg.com. It's great to know the stuff I am doing is appreciated by gamers ;)

DriveThruRPG.com - So What's The Weapon Like, Anyway? Reviews

Huzzah! My second book for raging_swan, So What's the Weapon Like, Anyway? is now available to download at Drivethrurpg.com, Paizo, RPGNow.com and e23 for the bargain price of £2.52 (or $3.99).

I enjoyed writing this one a lot. The book contains hundreds of detailed weapon descriptions, intended to help the harried DM describe the sword the PCs have just prised from the dying blackguard's hands, the bow they've just found in a treasure chest, and so on.

Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands Review

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this adventure from the author. This is not a playtest review, although I fully intend to run the adventure for kb98 when we’ve got some time to play it.

Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands is a 94-page adventure for 1st-level Pathfinder RPG characters, intended as a starting location for fledgling adventuring careers, to be easily inserted into a DM’s campaign. The name of the adventure spells this out too, harking back to the classic B2 (now being used to playtest D&D Next!) and the less-fondly remembered 4e introductory adventure, Keep on the Shadowfell. To me, the name also summarises what this adventure is – the classic, old school concept of an introductory dungeon (well, only part of it is an actual dungeon, but you know what I mean) brought up to date for today’s gamers.

Raging Swan Press uses a very crisp, easy to read, no-nonsense layout for all their products, and Shadowed Keep is no exception. The page design and the way the product is structured is intended to make it easy for the DM to run the adventure and pick out key information quickly and easily. It does this very successfully through the use of smart stat block and encounter formats, and by providing extras such as pre-generated characters (illustrated by the legendary Larry Elmore!), player handouts and illustrations to show the players. The maps are not fancy but are very clear, and there is good use of art throughout to illustrate the adventure.

So, what’s the adventure like, anyway? I don’t want to give too much away as kb98 is likely to read this, but the Shadowed Keep was built by the great adventurer Valentin Ironwolf forty years ago. After his drunken death at the hands of the goblins and orcs he spent his career murdering, the keep fell into disrepair and is now the sinister home of several different factions. Adventure hooks are provided to get the PCs to go there – bandits have been raiding the nearby villages, tales of Valentin’s riches and so on – as well as a rumours table (another welcome nod to the old school) for those players who like to spend some time researching what they’re about to get themselves into.

The adventure briefly details the wilderness around the keep, including a random encounter table and a handy menu of terrain features to add to any forest combats the PCs might experience en route. Full stat blocks are provided for the monsters involved to make it as easy as possible for the time-pressed DM to run. Later in this section a number of options for further adventures once the keep has been cleared out are given – including the intriguing possibility the PCs might claim the castle as their own base.

The bulk of the book, of course, details the keep itself. As well as the enemies, treasures and items of interest found in each location, there is also a timeline of events to make the keep a dynamic place with various inhabitants coming and going. This section also outlines a number of roleplaying possibilities as one or two of the factions living here may attempt to negotiate with the PCs.



Minor spoilers follow

The keep is divided into four sections, each home to a different group of opponents. The Watchtower is home to a gang of human bandits, the ruined Donjon is the lair of various dangerous and mostly unintelligent monsters, and the cellars beneath the Donjon are where the Goblins of the Blood Moon are based. Finally, the Undercrypt is under the influence of necrotic seepage with all that entails.

Encounter design is excellent, with lots of neat details on each area, including tactics sections for the monsters, terrain features that can be climbed, pushed over and pulled, and advice on scaling the encounter for weaker or tougher parties. As an added bonus, one of the encounters features one of my favourite low level monsters (a Fiend Factory classic). To make exploration more rewarding, the PCs can uncover clues to the history of the keep and its original inhabitants as they wander around, and even have the opportunity to interact with one of them. NPC opponents are well-detailed throughout, facilitating roleplaying if your group is prone to parley or take prisoners.

Overall, Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands is an excellent way to kick off a new Pathfinder or D&D 3.5 campaign. It has a cool, old school feel – Creighton has said it’s his homage to the Moathouse from T1 on his blog – and presents a detailed adventure setting, full of memorable and fun encounters. Highly recommended.

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Richard Green

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