Thursday, June 23, 2016

5e Homebrew Rules: Classes - The Ranger (part 1)

Much has been made since the release of 5e that the Ranger class was somehow missing something. I've come across hundreds of blog posts, forum entries and twitter rants on the subject, not to mention a couple of Unearthed Arcana columns partially addressing the topic.

The Ranger has always been a personal favorite of mine, I cut my teeth in 1e many years ago by running Orion the Ranger thru many harrowing adventures in my friend Chris's campaign. Orion eventually reached 15th level and was retired to live out the rest of his days as a Ranger Lord from a keep somewhere on the borderlands.

While I have yet to run a 5e ranger myself, I admit to having a lackluster feeling regarding the class as written. To this end, I've spent countless hours searching the internet for every manner of homebrewed solution I could find. My countless hours of research in other's homebrewed efforts have lead me to the conclusion that if we consider the PHB version of the class to be broken or at least missing something then the host of various internet fixes nearly all error on the side of over-powering the class.

The ranger as written is a fairly solid class, a jack-of-all-trades. Able to hold their own in combat, backed up with utility spellcasting and better than most in the exploration phase of the game, they still lacked a signature power or unique defining characteristic. The Hunter archetype tries to compensate by granting a bevy of options to choose from, some more useful than others but none particularly evocative of what a ranger is. The Beast Master has potential, but the economy of actions seems to put the archetype at a disadvantage.

Of course this leads me to try my own hand at "fixing" the class. My own approach is to simply make a minor alteration or two.

  • Give the Ranger expertise in the SURVIVAL skill at 1st level. Similar to a Rogue's skill expertise. Rangers should be the absolute best at wilderness survival and tracking.
  • Give a small boost to the Favored Enemy ability. In this case, we grant a small combat bonus to damage based upon the Ranger's WIS modifier.
  • Give the Ranger a combat boost by increasing their first strike abilities. We add the AMBUSH ability as described in Unearthed Arcana.
  • We modify Feral Senses and lump into the Primeval Awareness ability.
  • Do away with the Hide in Plain Site and Vanish abilities as they become redundent with the addition of AMBUSH.

I'm in the process of writing this class up in a pretty PDF file, however I'm finding it's harder than expected... and I'm not so good at it. Stay tuned.

5e Homebrew Rules: Races - The Warforged

Ever since the introduction of the Eberron campaign setting, the Warforged race has been one of my personal favorites.

While WofC has not officially updated them for 5e as of yet, Mike Mearles did take a pass at them in the first of the Unearthed Arcana columns. His draft didn't quite hit the spot for me, so I have taken  a turn at trying to adopt them to 5e in my first Homebrew Rules posting.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Colorful Characters: The Brothers Grimm (part 1)

The Brothers Grimm
A traveling band of misfits, malcontents, grifters, charlatans and monster hunters.

I created these colorful NPC’s years ago after I had first seen the movie “the Brothers Grimm” staring Matt Damon and the late Heath Ledger. I was looking to add some colorful characters to my homebrew world that we were playing in at the time.

Initially, they consisted of a band of traveling misfits akin to a small traveling circus or gypsy band. They provided minor entertainment as well as bringing some petty crime to town. Then I wanted to add a secret element to the group and thought that witch or monster hunters really worked.

In all of their incarnations, the band has always been run by two dwarves, twin brothers known as the Brothers Grimm. Besides the brothers, none of the other members had been named or stated out as I wanted to keep my in-game flexibility. Their roster always included whatever I needed at the time.

Their merry band almost always numbers a lucky 13 members. This includes a core of permanent named members and is then supplemented with added muscle, replacements, temporary members and specialists.

I had come up with the name “Felonius” for a dwarven rogue character that I played in the D&D Stormreach MMO and I liked him so much that I decided he would be the model for the twin brothers leading the Brothers Grimm. Shortly thereafter it lead to the creation of his brother “Larcenius”.
In the time since their original incarnation, I have played one or both of the brothers in a few one off adventures, including an epic castle seige during an Extra-Life charity game last year.

The current roster of the Brothers Grimm for my 5e game is as follows:

Core Members:
Felonius Grimm - (Male Hill Dwarf Figher/Rogue)
Larcenius Grimm - (Male Hill Dwarf Fighter/Rogue)
Ziljinn Popos Zilwinn Grimm - (Male Tinker Gnome Cleric)
Bulwark - (Warforged Fighter)
Farnum Grimm - (Male Human Bard)

Supplemental Members:
3 Goblin Acrobats (Rogue)
2 Human Swashbucklers (Rogue)
2 Dwarf Savages (Barbarians)
1 Dwarf Mystic (Druid)

Stay tuned for detailed character write-ups on the named members.

Epic First Post!

Well, this is it. I've finally gotten motivated enough to fire up a blog and start cataloging all of the nonsense floating around in my head.

I've been a gamer and an avid Dungeons & Dragons lover since I was introduced to the game almost 40 long years go. I was only 8 or 9 at the time. My best friend and I used to follow around a few of the older boys in our neighborhood and one day they decided it would be fun to teach us how to play D&D. We didn't really grasp the rules and we didn't have any of our own rulebooks, but it was sure fun to spend the summer afternoons pretending to be knights, wizards and dwarves off on a quest to defeat the evil dragon and save the princess (and treasure!).

While we've often taken separate roads, Chris and I are still the best of friends and game together as often as we can. Our tastes in games has expanded greatly to include video games, board games, card games and minature war games, but we still play Dungeons & Dragons together when we can.

 Other games and hobbies have come and gone over the years, but I keep coming back to Dungeons & Dragons as my life-long favorite. I've been playing since the advent of the game and played just about every edition and flavor that's seen publication. I'm currently loving the new 5e rules and will be mostly publishing content for that edition of the game.

Thanks for checking out the site, hopefully you'll find something here that you find interesting or useful.