You made a living by stealing as a member of a thieves’ guild.
The guild is similar to a modern organized crime syndicate.
It exacts protection money from criminals and businesses alike, and uses its influence to keep the city watch focused on apprehending criminals who operate without the guild’s blessing.
Necessity might have driven you to this work, having no other means to provide for yourself, or you might have been an orphan taken in by a thieves’ guild.
Whatever your reasons, you learned how to slip into places where others would prefer you not go, neutralizing traps, locks, and sentries with uncanny skill.
Skill Proficiencies: Investigation, Stealth.
Trait — Thieves’ Cant: Among thieves, there is a secret language, a combination of jargon words and secret signs that members of the criminal underworld know and use.
Creatures hearing you converse in Thieves’ Cant might think you say one thing when you are actually saying something else entirely.
You have learned the secret language of thieves.
You can correctly interpret thief signs and doublespeak, and you can communicate in this manner to others familiar with this language.
Suggested Equipment: Thieves’ tools, lampblack, oil can, breeches with secret pocket, small steel mirror, belt pouch, 18GP, 4SP.
You were employed as a jester by a noble.
You performed acrobatic stunts, told jokes and stories, and provided entertainment for your employer and his or her guests.
However, you also served a key role, lacing your entertainment with criticisms and observations too controversial for others to speak aloud.
Trait — Licensed Fool: You enjoy the rare privilege of speaking your mind with little concern for repercussions.
As a jester, it is your duty to use comedy to point out the absurdities of the world.
You can criticize through the lens of humor without offense.
In addition, you can gain access to nobles in order to perform.
When traveling, you can usually find a meal and a place to stay in the local castle or manor house in return for a performance.
Suggested Equipment: Jester’s motley, tin scepter, musical instrument (your choice), book of bawdy poems and jokes, traveler’s clothes, 38GP.
You have successfully completed your training as a squire and earned the title of knight.
Your title carries many responsibilities, and you are expected to behave in a chivalrous manner, protect the innocent, and mete justice across the land.
You might be sworn to a noble house or be a wandering knight, questing for some prize or glory.
Skill Proficiencies: Choose two from Athletics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, Religion and Survival
Trait — Knight’s Station: When you are among nobility or some other group that would recognize your station as a knight, you can expect to receive free accommodations and food for yourself and your adventuring companions for the duration of your stay.
Certain nobles might decline, but this is a serious breach of etiquette and usually has social consequences.
Suggested Equipment:lance, token of affection, signet ring, sealing wax, light warhorse with saddle and bridle, grooming kit for horses, feed (seven days), traveler’s clothes, 32GP, and 5SP.
You wander the land performing music, telling tales, and entertaining audiences with your talents.
Rarely does a community not welcome you in, as you bring news of distant lands to the common folk.
Trait — Noted Performer: You can always find a place to perform, usually in an inn or tavern.
At such a place, you receive free lodging and food (within reason) as long as you perform each night.
In addition, your performance makes you something of a local figure.
When strangers recognize you in a town where you have performed, they typically take a liking to you.
Suggested Equipment: Fine clothes, ink, musical instrument (your choice), paper (five sheets), traveler’s clothes, 27GP.
You have pledged your life to serve a god, pantheon of gods, or philosophy.
You serve as an intermediary between your chosen power and the mortal world, conducting sacred rites, offering sacrifices, and expounding the teachings of your faith to those you meet.
When you choose this background, select a deity or power.
Your knowledge and experience is drawn from your time as a priest in the service of that faith.
Trait — Temple Services: You belong to a specific temple dedicated to your chosen power.
You have a residence there, and you can perform religious ceremonies and offer sermons drawn from the sacred teachings of your faith.
While near your temple, you can call upon acolytes and fellow priests for assistance, provided the assistance you ask for is not hazardous and you remain in good standing with your temple.
Additionally, when you are in a location that has a temple, shrine, or other presence of your faith, you can expect to receive free healing, care, and religious services for yourself and your adventuring companions from others aligned with your faith.
Suggested Equipment: Holy symbol, flask of holy water, ink, ink pen, paper (ten sheets), vestments, 3GP, 9SP, 8CP.
Years of being a street tough have given you an aura of menace.
Your look communicates a basic message to those who annoy you: You’d as soon break their knees as receive an apology.
Threats and bullying tactics come easily to you.
Your demeanor has landed you jobs with less-than-reputable organizations in the past, where you’ve provided both protection and muscle.
Trait — Bad Reputation: No matter where you go, people are afraid of you due to your connections to the dangerous criminal underworld or your history of violence.
When you are in a place of civilization, you can get away with minor criminal offenses, such as refusing to pay for food at a tavern or breaking down doors at a local shop, since most people will not report your activity to the authorities.
Suggested Equipment: Sap (equivalent to club), tattoo, half of a set of manacles, common clothes, 28GP, 4SP.
After Playtesting, I decided to re-work a lot of things with my Chronomancer Class. I took out the spell-casting and focused more heavily on time manipulations, and make the Base stat Intelligence.
I also decided to re-work the archetypes from scratch, as they felt too much like discount versions of other classes. This time around the archetypes are based around theories of time, and will hopefully feel more unique. It may require some heavy re-balancing. at this point, but I like the direction.
Monsters included are -The Dwelve Race - Dwarf/Elf hybrids
Yin Dragon - New Years Dragon Yang Dragon - New Years Dragon Giant Groundhog - Groundhogs Day Monster Cupid - Good Valentines Day Monster Fallen Cupid - An Evil Valentines Day Monster Leprechaun - A St. Patrick’s Day Monster Wicker Man - A St. Patricks Day Monster Easter Bunny - An Easter Monster Wererabbit - An Easter Monster Jester - An April Fools Monster Elite Jester - An April Fools Monster Pumpkin King - A Halloween Monster Reaper - A Halloween Monster Grim Reaper - A Halloween Monster Undead Treant - A Halloween Monster Cursed Turkey - A Thanksgiving Monster Animated Christmas Tree - A Christmas Monster Animated Wreath - A Christmas Monster Demonic Reindeer - A Christmas Monster Werereindeer - A Christmas Monster Ghost of Christmas Past - A Christmas Monster Krampus - A Christmas Monster Mrs. Claus - A Christmas Monster Santa Claus - A Christmas Monster Santa’s Reindeer - A Series Of Christmas Monsters Reindeer - A Christmas Monster Flying Reindeer - A Christmas Monster Snemund - A Christmas snowman-like Monster
Check out my Tumblr, or Facebook group for other material like this!
Zero Hour – Advice for what to cover in your Session Zero
Hullo, Gentle Readers. This week’s Question from a Denizen
comes from @lxscrow963, who says, “Hey there! I’ve loved reading your posts and
noticed that you often mention holding a Session Zero where you go over
expectations between the DM and the players for a campaign. Could you elaborate
on some of the things you cover in those Session Zeros? I’m going to be DMing
my first campaign with almost all new, beginner players. The campaign will
start with a couple of childhood adventures (inspired by one of your other
posts), and I want to make sure everyone is on the same [page and that
expectations are clear. Any advice?”
Well, lxscrow963, first, thank you so much. Glad you are
enjoying the posts, and I’m super-flattered that you found my childhood adventures
idea inspiring. I will be happy to offer some thoughts.
First, have snacks. Snacks are a great ice-breaker to get
folks in a happy, mellow mood. (I mean, I’m sort of kidding, but sort of not. I
have a lot of ideas for gaming snacks. Hmmm…maybe that’ll be an article before
the end of this month.)
Even before your Session Zero, I would tell the players to
think about possible character ideas, but try not to get too attached to any of
them. You’ll want to talk to them about any restrictions you might intend for
character creation early. If you invite someone to a Session Zero for a
campaign where you don’t intend half-orcs to be allowed as a PC race, and they
start telling you about their plans to play a half-orc barbarian, let them know
right up front so that they’re not disappointed.
Start your Session Zero by thanking everyone for being
there. Give them a little hint of what you had in mind…kind of like pitching a
movie. Let them know the flavor you have in mind. “I intend to set this
campaign in the Forgotten Realms about 5 years after the events of the Tyranny
of Dragons campaign. It’ll initially be set in the Dalelands, but it’ll quickly
grow to a fast-paced, globe-trotting adventure, where you race against the
forces of evil to recover artifacts. Kind of like D&D meets Indiana Jones.”
You don’t have to spoil all the mystery here; just give them
an idea of where to start when creating characters. If you want to do Curse of
Strahd, but you don’t want them to realize this, you could tell them something
like, “The campaign is going to start in the Forgotten Realms, but I have a
major twist coming. Create your characters as you would for a standard
campaign, but be prepared for some nasty surprises down the road.”
Be very upfront about what you want to include or not
include for character options. If you don’t want to use Feats, or you don’t
intend to allow any playtest material, let the players know that. It’s worth
still maintaining an open mind, however. For my current campaign, I intended
all the players to be childhood friends, but one of my players asked me about the
possibility of playing a Shardmind Psion. We ultimately decided he would play a
different character in the childhood adventures who would die, and then the
Shardmind would absorb some of his memories, giving it a reason to travel with
the others (and for the others to accept it.)
It’s good to have a talk for what the players might want to
see, or what they’d prefer not to see. Do they love dungeons? Hate them? Do
they want heavy role-playing or something lighter? Do they want a grim, bleak
story, or something with plenty of time for light-hearted adventures? Are there
specific monsters they’ve always wanted to fight? Specific magic-items that
they’d love their characters to find? Does one have her father’s sword, and she
wants it to ultimately be a holy avenger? Take note now so that you can weave
that into your story later on.
If you don’t yet have a strong feel for the flavor of your
game, let the players’ wants speak to that. If someone suggests a campaign as
privateers in command of a ship, and everyone likes that idea, go for it, if it’ll
fit with your existing plans. Otherwise, you might say, “Well, I’ll try to make
that happen over the course of the game, but that isn’t what I want to focus
This is a great time to figure out what kinds of players you
have, especially if you’ve never gamed with them before. This goes a long way
towards knowing what their expectations are. If you have a group of people who
just want to roam dungeons, kill monsters, and loot treasure, then you know
what you campaign needs to center around. If you have a mix of people who want
role-playing, exploration, political intrigue, and monsters to kill, you’re
going to have a much more interesting and well-rounded campaign.
It’s also a great time to get a rough idea from players as
to what they might want to play. This is useful, not just for you, but for the
party as a whole. Generally speaking, the most successful parties have a good
mix of backgrounds, races, and classes, so they bring a wide variety of
abilities to the mix. That said, a party of all halflings, or all clerics, or
all entertainers is a perfectly interesting and viable party. If nothing else,
if gives an interesting story element for you to play off of. But, for example,
having everyone declare what they wanted to play in the Session Zero was very
useful to me in the game I play now. I knew we had a wizard, a rogue/artificer,
a barbarian, and a ranger. Since I love playing clerics and had an interesting
character concept, this made my choice easy, and I’ve been enjoying Malachi, my
tiefling cleric, ever since.
Don’t forget that you don’t have to only have one. If you
want to have one where everyone talks and then an actual character creation
session, or even more planning sessions, these are all perfectly viable
options. You could always have a series of sessions before the first game in
which you and your players jointly create the campaign world you’ll be playing
in. I could imagine that this would make for a very interesting and memorable
I hope this advice is useful to you in playing and executing
a successful Session Zero, lxscrow963. Let me know if you have any other
questions, and watch for an article on D&D snacks towards the end of the
month for my “Freestyle” article!
Hey Dre! Waz up! I've been wondering, how did you and your boyfriend meet? I know this is waaaayyy up in your personal bubble, but I'm betting it's a cute story.
* OH ye, you bet! Git comfortable cuz this’s a helluva story.
* SO I stumbled inta this get-together- Dun even KNO how I got there, there was a whole fuckin’ BUNCHA people gettin’ sucked up inta dis spot outta no where, but- ANYway anyway… ‘s not da point, it just happened. Shit’s crazy sometimes.
* Dere I waz. I wandered t’ a big table. Buncha people. I was on somethin’ seeeerious. I had me a cake knife, BBQ sauce all ova my titties, an’ I was yellin’ sum crazy stuff, can’t even rememba, but I was scarin’ folks…
* Oh w8, w8…. dat was….. Dat was uhhhhh sum fella’s babyshower. Dis ain’t th’ rite story.