Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Backstagers: A Review


Hello, gentle readers!
So, it's been about a week since the first issue of The Backstagers came out and I'm still not sure whether or not I actually like this book.
Written by James Tynion and Rian Sygh, the book focuses on the adventures and antics of the Backstagers: Jory, Hunter, Sasha, Aziz and Becket.  They're students at an all-boys school called St. Genesius where they work backstage in the Drama Club.  However, this isn't your ordinary backstage job where you build props, manage the lights, etc.  No, this Backstage is akin to Wonderland or Narnia or an Escher painting.  It's full of magic and strangeness that only the Backstagers know about.
In this first issue, Jory is a new student at St. Genesius, looking for a place to belong. He gives the Drama Club a shot, but winds up getting sent backstage where he falls into one of the Backstagers' adventures.  Hijinx ensue and he abandons the stage for the backstage.
The Backstagers is an all-ages book with a definite queer slant.  The first issue doesn't just hit the ground running, it smashes into it and races along it, scattering sparks and debris in its path. That, I think, is part of my problem with the book; in this first issue, things just happen too fast. The characters are painted with broad, colorful strokes.  They rush from one scene to another. As readers, we're not given a chance to process what's happening.
This could be deliberate. Tynion could be attempting to mirror Jory's experience as he is dropped into this incredible world.  If so, if it was meant to draw us in and make us feel like a part of the action, it didn't really work for me.  The pacing on the story just felt rushed and fragmented.
As for the art? I LOVE the cover by Veronica Fish. That is a beautiful piece of work.
But the internal art? Eh. Not so much. I mean, it's okay, but it's just not my cup of tea.  It's a little too cartoonish for my liking.  However, I do like the character designs, especially Becket and Sasha. To me, those two really pop.
Overall, I really want to like this book. I really want to say that it's a great read and a good beginning to this miniseries.
I really want to do it.
But I can't.
This first issue just left me feeling kind of 'Meh.'  It's not good, it's not bad, it's just 'meh.'
On a scale of one to five, I have to give The Backstagers a two.
Since this is only an 8-issue miniseries, I'll probably give the next couple of issues a try.  It's not that bad.  But if I'm not suitably impressed, or amused, by the end of the third issue, I probably won't buy the rest.

Paladins of Dust

Chelic saw the man the moment he stepped into the ruined temple.  The fellow was youngish. His reddish-brown hair was curly and his skin was flawless.  He wore rimless spectacles and a suit of gray scale armor.  A shortsword lay across his lap and the fellow was reading a small, green book. 
Chelic cleared his throat.  The armored man looked up from his book and smiled.
“Hello again, Chelic.”
The elf frowned. “I’m sorry. Have we met?”
“Not that you’d remember.  Come to have another go at stealing the bones of General Oramyr?”
Chelic’s frown deepened.  “What are you talking about? This is the first time I’ve been here.”
“No,” said the young man.  He put down his book and stood.  He was short for a knight. As he drew his sword and approached, he added, “You’ve said that the other times we’ve fought as well.”
“You’re quite mad, aren’t you?” remarked Chelic, drawing his own blade.
The young man simple smiled and waited as if he had all the time in the world.

Paladins of Dust serve Naroth, the God of History and Memory.  They are usually charged with protecting places of historic importance: the site of a crucial battle, the tomb of a great king, the ruins of a fallen city.  Sometimes they are dispatched to secure artefacts of historical significance, transporting them to the Narothic Archives beneath the Range of Faces.
Paladins of Dust seldom come from a martial background. More often they emerge from the ranks of academics and scholars, people with a deep love and appreciation for history.  They do not rely on Charisma, as other paladin types do, but on Wisdom.
Adventurers hate encountering Paladins of Dust. How do you defeat someone who you’ve probably fought before, but you don’t remember?  As if that wasn’t bad enough, a Paladin of Dust’s attacks actually cause their enemies to age. Even if they don’t reset the clock, even if an adventurer manages to best a Paladin of Dust, he’ll probably be years older by the time he gets away.  It’s really not worth the trouble and most adventurers will simply walk away from a fight with a Paladin of Dust, assuming they’ve already lost it in some other timeline.

Hit Points
Hit Dice: 1d10 per level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + Con Modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your Con Modifier per level after 1st.

Proficiencies
Armor: All armor and shields
Weapons: Simple and martial weapons
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Wisdom, Constitution
Skills: Choose two from Athletics, Insight, Intimidation, Medicine, Persuasion and Religion.

Historical Expertise
At 1st level, Paladins of Dust gain proficiency in History.  Their proficiency bonus for all Intelligence (History) checks is double.

Sense of Time
Also, at 1st level, Paladins of Dust develop a perfect sense of time. They always know the exact date and time.

Fighting Style
Starting at 2nd level, Paladins of Dust chooses a fighting style as a specialty. You cannot take a Fighting Style more than once, even if you later get to choose again.

Defense - While you are wearing armor, you gain a +1 bonus to AC.

Dueling - When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon.

Great Weapon Fighting - When you roll a 1 or a 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit.

Protection - When a creature you can see attacks a target other than you that is within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll.  You must be wielding a shield.

Temporal Smite
At 2nd level, when you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack, you deal additional damage. Add a 1d8 to the weapon’s normal damage. This damage counts as magical and manifests itself as time passing for the subject of the attack.  Your enemy ages years for every blow you land. Staring at 9th level, you add 2d8 to the weapon’s normal damage.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of once). When you have expended all these uses, you cannot regain this feature until you finish a short or long rest.

Divine Vitality
By 3rd level, the divine power flowing through you makes you immune to the effects of aging and you cannot be aged magically.  You can still die of old age, however.

Ability Score Improvement
When you reach the 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th and 19th level, you can choose to increase one ability score by 2, or to increase two ability scores by 1.  As usual, you cannot increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Extra Attack
At 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn. At 17th level, you can attack three times.

Eye of Experience
Starting at 6th level, using your wisdom and experience, you can study another creature outside combat and deduce certain information about its capabilities. The DM can tell you one of the following: the creature’s Strength, Dexterity or Constitution score; its Armor Class or its class levels (if any).

The Grace of Naroth
Beginning at 7th level, you cannot be charmed while you are awake.

Shield of Ages
When you reach 10th level, you become resistant to damage from spells.

Rewriting History
At 11th level, you can use a bonus action to reroll the die for an ability check or saving throw. You must use the new roll.  After you have used this feature, you cannot use it again until you have completed a long rest.

Living History
At 13th level, outside of combat, you can project your consciousness into the past a number of hours equal to your Paladin of Dust level.  You cannot be perceived in the past, you cannot change anything that has happened, and your psychic self cannot be damaged.  You cannot leave the area you currently occupy.
You can use this feat a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of once). After expending all uses, you do not regain it until you finish a long rest.

Hands of Time
Beginning at 14th level, you can use your action to end one spell on yourself or one willing creature that you touch.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of once). You regain expended uses when you finish a long rest.

Healing Time
Starting at 15th level, you can use an action to restore hit points equal to your paladin of dust level. After using this feature, you must complete a long rest before you can use it again.

Time Out
At 18th level, you can use an action to stop the flow of time for everyone but yourself.  No time passes for other creatures while you take 1d4 + 1 turns in a row, during which you can use actions and move as normal.
The effect ends if one of the actions you use during this period affects a creature other than you or an object being worn or carried by someone other than you.  In addition, the effect ends if you move more than 1000 feet from the location you cast it.
After using this feature, you must complete a long rest before you can use it again.

History’s Champion
Your devotion to your deity has been rewarded.  Not only do you stop aging, but you gain the power to reduce your enemies to dust.  You choose a target within 60 feet of you that you can see. Your target must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC is your Paladin of Dust level + your proficiency bonus).  If they fail the save your target is reduced to dust and cannot be resurrected.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Slimegirls for the win!

Last night, at my RPG, a fellow player said something about slimegirls and it inspired this. Thanks, Jason! ^_^

SLIMEGIRLS

Slimegirls were created by a wizard called El Basticho over a hundred years ago, in his stronghold, the Tower of Fallen Graces.  No one is quite certain why El Basticho created the slimegirls, but they have outlived their creator and thrived, spreading all across Bezoar.

Slimegirls resemble attractive humanoid females composed of translucent or semitranslucent slime. Hair and skin color is identical and can range from pale gray to jet black and a whole spectrum of colors in between.  All slimegirls have gray-white eyes.

Although they resemble humanoid females, slimegirls are actually asexual and reproduce via cellular mitosis.  (Irregardless of this, they are all referred to using female pronouns.) Slimegirl reproduction occurs spontaneously once every six to nine months. During this process the slimegirl’s body becomes extremely gelatinous and she splits into two smaller, initially identical, beings.  Over time though physiological differentiation will occur in the offspring due to diet, environment and personal choice.

Slimegirls usually live in small groups, and seem to prefer warm and wet environments. They can eat almost any organic material with no ill effects, but dislike salt. They are not particularly intelligent and are difficult to harm.  To date, no known slimegirl has died from old age.

The slime they produce is both a defensive trait and a biological waste product. Research has revealed that this slime, when properly prepared, can accelerate healing in most humanoids. It has also been reported to possess certain aphrodisiacal qualities.

Slimegirl culture is genial. They don’t usually wear clothes but like jewelry. Their communities are gerontocracies where the eldest generation is in charge.  Although they enjoy meeting new people they are just as happy keeping to themselves.  They all venerate El Basticho, whom they consider their god, and most make a pilgrimage, at least once in their life, to the Tower of Fallen Graces.

Slimegirl adventurers are rare and most don't last long.  Their vulnerability to fire is too well known and too easily exploited.  That said, slimegirls adventuring underwater can be quite successful.

Most slimegirls, however, who leave their communities, referred to as pools, usually wind up working in the entertainment industry.  Slimegirl wrestling is totally a thing and very popular as both a participatory and spectator sport.

Slimegirls have the following common traits.

Ability Scores. Intelligence is -4 and Constitution is +3.

Age. Slimegirls are self-aware moments after fissioning from their parent. They are considered adults within three days.  They do not suffer any penalties from the passing of time.

Alignment. Most Slimegirls are of good or neutral alignments.

Size.  Slimegirls are roughly the same size as young human women. They are considered Medium.

Speed. Because of their gelatinous physiology, slimegirls are a little slower than most medium-sized humanoids. They have a base walking speed of 25 feet, and leave a trail of slick slime behind them wherever they go.

Amphibious. Slimegirls can breath air and water.

Tremorsense. Slimegirls are very sensitive to vibrations. They can detect and pinpoint the origin of vibrations within 30 feet of themselves, provided that they and the source of the vibrations are in contact with the same ground or substance.

Damage Resistance. Slimegirls are tougher than they look. They have a natural resistance to bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage and are immune to acid damage.

Flammable. Unfortunately, the slime that a slimegirl excretes is highly flammable. If touched by fire, they burst into flame and instantly die. No saving rolls. No death-saves. They just die.

Slippery. Because of their slick nature, all attempts to grapple a slimegirl are at disadvantage. If a slimegirl is successfully grappled, she has advantage on her attempt to escape the grapple.

Languages. Slimegirls speak Slimetongue, a breathy language of their own, and Common.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Drunken Magi

Kaj Slein sat on the steps of the blackened manse, watching as Orda spoke with their contact. The man had brought a fair amount of muscle with him, more than was really called for and his reputation was unsavory.  Kaj eyed the man. He was fat and red-cheeked, mounted on a steel horse.  As Kaj watched, the contact produced a wineskin and squeezed a jet of blood-red liquid into his mouth.  His grin, already somewhat off-putting, became diabolical.  Arcane lights flashed in his eyes.
All the hairs on Kaj’s back stood on end.  He leaped to his feet, too late. With a gesture, the drunken mage sent a wave of fire sweeping over Orda’s form.  
With Orda down, Kaj chose the better part of valor. Turning, he grabbed the loot, and ran like hell.

Drunken magi are hard to spot.  Is that rat-faced beggar, hugging a wine-skin to his bony chest in the alleys of Katabis, a drunken mage? What about that tall, lovely elf lady savoring a glass of golden moonwine?  Or those young men, laughing and slapping each other on the back as they weave genially down the alley?  It’s hard to say.
Like witches, drunken magi are everywhere. Unlike witches, they’re a lot harder to spot. Most drunken magi avoid attention. People don’t like them.  Sorcerers are bad enough, but there are schools and guilds and things to train them.  All a drunken mage needs is a tankard of beer and he’s shooting fireballs out of his ass and thinking its great fun.  At least until they sober up and realize they’ve burned down half the village.
A lot of drunken magi choose not to use their powers. They live as teetotalers, avoiding all manner of drink.  Some call for a prohibition on alcohol in general. Some are used as examples of the evils demon-rum can produce.
Then there are the drunken magi who like using their powers. They like having a sip of wine, letting their hair down and casting magic missile.  A lot of these people know that the name, drunken mage, is a misnomer. You don’t actually have to get drunk to use your powers, it’s just a lot of drunken magi are also alcoholics. The gods like their little jokes, even if no one else thinks they’re funny.

Hit Points
Hit Dice: d6
Hit Point at 1st Level: 6 + Con modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d6 (or 4) + your Con modifier per drunken magi level after 1st.

Proficiencies
Armor: None
Weapons: Club, Mace, Quarterstaff
Tools: Brewer’s tools
Saving Throws: Charisma, Constitution
Skills: Choose two from Arcana, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Persuasion and Religion

Drunken Spellcasting
Like traditional sorcerers, you have magic inside you.  However, the magic within you needs a little lubrication to emerge. In short order, you have to drink something alcoholic to access the magic.  You don’t need an arcane focus or traditional spell components, all you need is a bottle of wine, a cask of ale or some jagerbombs. You are a drunken magi.
As a drunken magi, spellcasting doesn’t work for you like it does for most other spellcasters. You can’t cast cantrips or perform rituals.  At 1st level, you can cast any 1st level Sorcerer spell a number of times equal to your charisma modifier. When you have exhausted this number, you can continue to cast spells but at a penalty. For each of these bootleg spells you cast, you lose one HP per spell level.  A 1st level spell will cost you 1 HP, a 2nd level spell will cost you 2 HP, etc.
As you progress, you gain access to addition spell levels at higher drunken magi levels. You gain access to second level sorcerer spells at 5th level, third level spells at 10th level, fourth level spells at 15th level and fifth level spells at 20th level.
You don’t regain ordinary spellcasting until you finish a long rest.

Ordinary Spellcasting Ability
Charisma is your spellcasting ability for your spells. You use your Charisma whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability.  In addition, you use your charisma modifier when setting the saving throw DC for an ordinary sorcerer spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Ordinary Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.
Ordinary Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.

Bootleg Spellcasting Ability
Until you finish a long rest and regain your ordinary spellcasting ability, you can cast bootleg spells.  Charisma is also your spellcasting ability for these bootleg spells.  However, you do not get to add your proficiency bonus to bootleg spells save DC and you get no attack modifier.

Bootleg Spell save DC = 8 + Charisma modifier
Bootleg Spell attack modifier = Zero

Lucky Drunk
Starting at 2nd level, you have advantage on saving throws against being charmed.

Ability Score Improvement
At 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th and 19th level, you can increase one ability score by 2, or two ability scores of your choice by 1.  As usual, you cannot raise an ability score above twenty using this feature.

Tough Drunk
When you reach 6th level, you can attempt to regain all expended hit points.  Roll a d20; if the result is 15 or higher you regain all lost hit points.  After you use this feature, you cannot use it again until you finish a long rest.

Double Vision
Starting at 9th level, you can see the true form of any shapechanger or creature concealed by illusion or transmutation magic while the creature is within 30 feet of you and within your line of sight.  You must be drinking to gain this benefit.

Bar Fly
At 13th level, on your turn, you can use a bonus action to fly 30 feet without provoking attacks of opportunity. You must be drinking to gain this benefit.

Hair of the Dog
When you reach 18th level, if you take direct damage from a spell, you regain HP equal to half the damage dealt.  You must be drinking to gain this benefit.

Drunken Spellcasting Master
You have reached the pinnacle of drunk magery; you can now cast 5th level sorcerer spells.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Speed Fighter

The computers were down at my day job all day so I spent the time coming up with a fighter class that’s built around speed. I don't know how well this would play, but I think the ability to deal multiple damage and cover a lot of ground could be pretty cool.

SPEED FIGHTERS

Hit Points
Hit Dice: d10
Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + Con modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + Con modifier per level

Proficiencies
Armor: Light
Weapons: Unarmed strikes, All Light and Finesse Melee weapons.
Tools: None
Saves: Dexterity, Constitution
Skills: Choose two from Acrobatics, Athletics, Insight, Intimidation and Survival.

Dash
At 1st level, you can use the Dash action as a bonus action.

Extra Attack
Also at 1st level, you get two attacks on your turn.  This number increases to three attacks per turn at 10th level and three attacks per turn at 17th level.

Extra Movement
Starting at 2nd level, your increased speed lets you cover more ground that normal. You gain an additional 10 feet to your normal movement, as long as you aren’t wearing medium or heavy armor.

Ability Score Improvement
At 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th and 19th level, you can increase one ability score by 2, or two ability scores of your choice by 1.  As normal, you cannot increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Second Wind
Beginning at 5th level, you can use a bonus action to regain hit points equal to 1d10 + your speed fighter level.  Once you use this feature you cannot use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Uncanny Dodge
Starting at 6th level, when an attacker that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use a reaction to halve the attack’s damage against you.

Evasion
At 9th level, you can dodge certain area effects.  When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw and only half damage if you fail.

Improved Movement
When you reach 13th level, when you move, you can run along vertical surfaces and across liquids without falling.

Missile Snatching
Starting at 14th level, when you are hit by a ranged weapon attack, you can use a reaction to catch the missile.  When you do so, the damage you take is reduced by 1d10 + your Dexterity modifier + your speed fighter level.
If the damage is reduced to zero, as part of that same reaction, you can make a ranged attack with the missile you just caught.  You make the attack with proficiency, regardless of your weapon proficiencies.

Quick Recovery
At 20th level, you regain full hit points after you finish a short rest.