Beyond Dwelfs: Even more mixed race options for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition

Portrait of a half-Dwarf, half-Orc (dworc)
Portrait of a half-Dwarf/half-Orc (dworc) named Grehg by Archaes8 (via DeviantArt)

It’s March, and apparently that means I’m doing another update of my free ruleset for creating and playing mixed race or hybrid characters in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. I launched this is March 2018 with Bring on the dwelfs: Mixed race options in Dungeons & Dragons 5e, and significantly updated it in March 2019 (one year ago today, in fact) with Dwelfs and Dragoblins: More mixed race options for D&D 5e. I wasn’t planning to update it today or even this month, but here we are.

For those who don’t know, I have a bugbear (ba dum tsh) with how fantasy races are portrayed in Dungeons & Dragons, and in particular with how the existing, official hybrid races (mainly Half-Elves and Half-Orcs, but also to a lesser extent Aasimar, Tieflings and Genasi) are presented as wholly separate from either of their parent races. I also dislike that they all seem to be half-Human and half-Something Else, for several reasons. In my first blog post on the subject, I talked at some length about my concerns and ways to address them using the rules as written.

But let’s be honest, it would be far more interesting if there were new rules for actual mixed race characters.

My solution has been to take the official Wizards of the Coast playable races (or at least those available on D&D Beyond) and split their associated rules into two parts, a Left Component and a Right Component, which can be mixed and matched to make any combination (including the official races themselves). I provide the general rules for each component, including the names of the features provided but not the rules of those features (you’ll need relevant official sourcebooks for that).

Now you have rules for playing that Dwelf (half-Dwarf/half-Elf) or Dworc (half-Dwarf/half-Orc) you’ve been thinking about. Or a Genasi that is half-Gnome instead of half-Human (a Genome, if you will). Or, for the first time in this update, a half-Tabaxi/half-Locathah (or Catfish).

This update includes new races from the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, Acquisitions Incorporated, One Grung Above, and Locathah Rising. The spreadsheet is also now available on Google Docs instead of needing to be downloaded as an Excel file, which I hope will improve accessibility and will definitely make it easier to update in future. Enjoy!

Creating Hybrid Races in D&D 5e by Stephen Morffew

Also, as ever, instructions and the components are also included in the blog below, but the spreadsheet is likely to remain the most up-to-date version going forwards. Check it out periodically for updates and new races! And let me know if there’s anything you want me to add!

Continue reading

Masters of Umdaar: The Starblades of Su’ul (from universe 3858)

What Happens Next? header image from Masters of Umdaar. Pencils by Tazio Bettin, colours by Enrica Eren Angiolini, via deviantArt

Dave Joria’s Masters of Umdaar, which I recently got an opportunity to run as a campaign at long last, includes a starter adventure called The Starblades of Su’ul. In it, the player characters, the Archaeonauts, set out to find one of the eponymous legendary swords before it can be claimed by Kaji-Sa the Bloodmonger, who is collecting the blades and already has one in her grasp. It’s a great adventure, fun to play and wonderfully evocative of the aesthetic (there are Lazer-Wolves!).

The adventure can stand alone, but it can also serve as the first session of a longer campaign, in which the players race Kaji-Sa (or other villains) to find the rest of the Starblades. It’s a fairly popular way to start an Umdaar campaign; it’s certainly how I did it!

The funny thing is, I’ve never seen any stats online for the other Starblades. In fact, it’s rare to see anyone stat up any relics that the Archaeonauts might uncover, even though people share heroes, monsters, and villains aplenty (check out #Umdaar and #MastersOfUmdaar on Google+, or the Elektrokhan, Facemonger, and Scorpotaurs from Dave Joria’s own Tangent Artist Tabletop blog), and even the occasional cliffhanger-style trap. But no relics, and no Starblades. I wouldn’t have minded some examples as a leaping off point when I was preparing my campaign.

So in this blog I present the Five Starblades of Su’ul (from at least one of the alternate universes of Umdaar, let’s call it 3858 why not), and some other resources that I used to run my campaign of Masters of Umdaar. I’d love to know if you find it useful!

Continue reading

Bring on the dwelfs: Mixed race options in Dungeons & Dragons 5e

Kiliel from Titansgrave by Nick Gan
Kiliel, Alison Haislip’s half-elf/half-dwarf from Titansgrave. It’s not exactly D&D… because half-elf/half-dwarves don’t exist in D&D. That’s the point.

I recently finished playing in a Dungeons & Dragons (5th edition) campaign, and the same group is now planning for the next one, in the same setting but with all new characters. We’re even using D&D Beyond for it, because if we’re going down that rabbit hole we might as well go all the way, right?

And going through character creation has got me thinking again about fantasy races in D&D, and pondering yet again the age-old question: what in the Nine Hells is up with the Half-Elf and Half-Orc races? What makes them so special that they get treated as distinct races in their own right? Why can’t I play as any other type of hybrid, like a half-elf/half-dwarf dwelf? Well, this time I actually decided to do something about it.

You can play other types of hybrid in D&D 5e. Read on to see how.

Update 2019-03-22: A follow-up blog post updates some of the rules I originally wrote on this post. You can find it at Dwelfs and Dragoblins: More mixed race options for D&D 5e

Update 2020-03-22: Another update, this time at Beyond Dwelfs: Even more mixed race options for Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition. While the links in this blog have been updated to the latest version, you’ll need to see the updated blog post for an update to the components as presented at the end of this post.

Continue reading

The Avengers Assemble… in the Apocalypse World

Teaser image of Iron Man as The Faceless, by Melissa Trender (melissatrender.com)

I was thinking recently: someone could totally run an Apocalypse World game in which all the player characters were based on the Avengers.

I don’t mean a hack to tell Avengers-style superhero stories. There are already plenty of Powered by the Apocalypse superhero games that do that (Masks and Worlds in Peril, for example). Instead, this would use Apocalypse World‘s rules as written to tell a sort of What If…? story.

What if the Avengers were formed 50 years after the end of the world?

What do the Avengers (Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, etc.) look like in the blasted, lethal, psychic-powered Apocalypse World?

Does it work? Is it a good idea to even try? I don’t know, but I’d better get the idea out there quick before Avengers: Infinity War comes out and transforms the general population’s understanding of who the Avengers are! Especially now that the superheroically talented Melissa Trender has provided some fantastic illustrations! Read on for that if nothing else!

Continue reading

You better watch out: Festive monsters for your Christmas dungeon crawl

Season's Greetings by Jo Chen via DeviantArt

It’s December, my weekly Unknown Armies game has had its annual Christmas special, and I’ve been listening to a reading of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather.

As a result of one or more of these things, I’ve found myself thinking about a dungeon crawl that drops a band of adventurers in a wintry ice fortress and pits them against an evil Santa Claus and his Christmassy minions. Here are some monsters that might populate such a dungeon crawl, which you can use for a game of Dungeon World if you’re so inclined.

Enjoy…

Continue reading

Fate of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Part 3: When the evil Shredder attacks (one-shot adventure)

The TMNT surrounded by Foot Clan by blackbat
In this third part in my series about adapting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) as a roleplaying game, I outline a one-shot adventure and a handful of featured NPCs. (In part 1, I explained why I was using the system from The Three Rocketeers, a World of Aventure for Fate Core. In part 2, I produced character sheets of the four main characters to use in a campaign.)

Although I made a big deal about making the character write-ups flexible enough to apply to multiple versions of the characters, in this post I largely throw that out of the window in pursuit of a different goal: streamlining and simplicity. This involves featuring one main threat (the Shredder), focusing on one main plot hook (Splinter is kidnapped), and cutting out everything that doesn’t support these (sorry, April).

Continue reading

Fate of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Part 2: Heroes in a half-shell (player stats)

Four Ninjas and a Reporter by samuraiblack from DeviantArt

In my last blog post, I said that I’ve been pondering how to run a roleplaying game based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT). I want my game to have the four main turtles as player characters, and getting those characters right is vital for the game to work.

In this blog post, I adapt the four titular protagonists of the franchise to the rules of The Three Rocketeers, the World of Adventure for Fate Core that I am using for the TMNT game. Write-ups for these heroes, in the form of proto-PCs (incomplete characters that can be customised by players), are included at the end of the post, along with PDF character sheets. Feedback is welcomed and encouraged!

Continue reading