On Rare Erol Otus

Presented without comment to stimulate creativity and for the enrichment of the general public. Also, note that the following nudity is artistic in nature, and not intended to be pornographic.



Note that the following pictures contain images of brutal violence, drug use, and nudity.




All of the following are Erol Otus pictures from the late 70's and early 80's.












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On A 5th Edition Paladin Variant, Illrigger, Oath of Scourge

Way back in February of 1986, Dragon Magazine made some paladin variants. Fortunately 5th Edition already has a system in place to handle such things. Let's take a look, shall we?

Sacred Oath

When you reach 3rd level, you swear the oath that binds you as a Paladin forever. up to this time you have been in a preparatory stage, committed to the path but not yet sworn to it. Now you choose the Oath of Devotion, The Oath of the Ancients, and Oath of Perdition, all are detailed at the end of the class description.
Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 7th, 15th, and 20th level. Those features include oath spells and the Channel Divinity feature.

Oath Spells

Each oath has a list of associated spells. You gain access to these spells at the levels specified in the oath description. Once you gain access to an oath spell, you always have it prepared. oath spells don't count against the number of spells you can prepare each day.
If you gain an oath spell that doesn't appear on the paladin spell list, the spell is nonetheless a paladin spell for you.

Channel Divinity

Your oath allows you to channel divine energy to fuel magical effects. Each Channel Divinity option provided by your oath explains how to use it.
When you use your Channel Divinity, you choose which option to use. You must then finish a short or long rest to use your Channel Divinity again.
Some Channel Divinity effects require saving throws. When you use such an effect from this class, the DC equals your paladin spell save DC.

Sacred Oaths

Become a paladin involves taking vows that commit the paladin to the cause of righteousness, an active path of fighting wickedness. The final oath, taken when he or she reaches 3rd level is the culmination of all the Paladin's training. Some characters with this class don't consider themselves true paladins until they have reached 3rd level and made this oath. For others, the actual swearing of the oath is a formality, an official stamp on what has always been true in the paladin's heart.

Oath of Scourge

The Oath of the Perdition binds a paladin to the ideals of a rigid framework designed for the worship of the Paladin's god. There are acceptable behaviors within this framework, and all those outside of it are eliminated or subdued. Any who refuse to follow the paladins beliefs are enemies of his, and may be slain with impunity. The followers of the Oath of the Scourge will both desire to publically and horrifically slay his enemies so that others know the penalties for failing to follow the dictates of the paladin's god, as well as secretly assassinating opponents of the god, removing opposition to his worship.

Tenants of the Oath of the Scourge

The tenets of the Oath of Scourge vary by paladin, but all the tenants revolve around the following virtues. 
Order The word of god is law and must never be questioned or altered. Any who deviate from the path must be slain.
Penitence The god you serve must be served well. All your thoughts are to the needs and desires of your god. Should you rise to prominence, it is only in service of helping your god rise to prominence.
Power Any money, item, or tool you can use to your cause should go to you. Those who are your allies must recognize the strength of your god and insure that the majority share of any resources are put towards his ascension.

Oath Spells

You gain oath spells at the paladin levels listed
1st Arms of Hadar, Hellish Rebuke
5th Hold Person, Invisibility
9th Fear, Hunger of Hadar
13th Evard's Black Tentacles, Phantasmal Killer
17th Contact Other Plane, Planar Binding

Channel Divinity

When you take this oath at 3rd level, you gain the following two Channel Divinity options.
Strength of the Left Hand Path. With a use of your channel divinity, you may draw energy from all living creatures, enemy and ally alike, nearby and use them to strengthen the force of your cause. All creatures. enemy and allied alike within 30 feet take 1d6 damage. Targets may save to avoid this damage, the DC of the save is 8 + your Wisdom modifier + your proficiency bonus.  Creatures that are allied with you have disadvantage on this saving throw. Half the total damage done in this way is granted to you as temporary hit points.
Subjection of the Perditious.With a use of your channel divinity you may attempt to subjugate or turn fiends. As an action, you present your holy symbol and speak a terrifying command. Each fiend that can see or hear you within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the creature fails its saving throw, it is either turned or charmed, your choice. The same choice must be made for all fiends.
A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from you as it can, and it can’t willingly move to a space within 30 feet o f you. It also can’t take reactions. For its action, it can use only the Dash action or try to escape from an effect that prevents it from moving. If there’s nowhere to move, the creature can use the Dodge action.
A charmed creature can't attack the charmer or target the charmer with harmful abilities or magical effects, and the charmer has advantage on any ability check to interaction socially with the creature.

7th level trait

The Illrigger chooses any two skills to gain proficiency in.
Beginning at 7th level, the Illrigger knows how to strike subtly and exploit a foes distraction. Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage to one creature you hit with an attack if you have advantage on the roll. This attack must use a finesse or a ranged weapon.
You don't need advantage on the attack roll if another enemy of the target is within 5 feet of it, that enemy isn't incapacitated and you don't have disadvantage on the attack roll.
The amount of the extra damage increases as you gain levels. At 11th level the damage increases to 2d6. At 15th level the damage increases to 3d6. At 19th level the damage increases to 4d6, and at 20th level the damage increases to 5d6.

15th level trait

You can summon a fiend creature of a challenge rating of 10 or lower to serve you for 1 hour. It appears in an unoccupied space that you can see within range. The creature disappears when it drops to 0 hit points or when the spell ends.
The fiend creature is friendly to you and your companions for the duration. Roll initiative for the creature, which has its own turns. It obeys any verbal commands that you issue to it (no action required by you), as long as they don't violate its alignment. If you don’t issue any commands to the fiend creature, it defends itself from hostile creatures but otherwise takes no actions.
This effect requires concentration. If your concentration is broken, the fiend doesn’t disappear. Instead, you lose control of the fiend, it becomes hostile toward you and your companions, and it might attack. An uncontrolled fiend can't be dismissed by you, and it disappears 1 hour after you summoned it.

20th level trait

You gain advantage on attack rolls against any creature that hasn't yet taken a turn in combat yet. In addition, any hit you score against a creature that is surprised is a critical hit. When you do attack and hit a creature that is surprised, they must succeed at a Constitution saving throw (DC 8 + Your Dexterity Modifier + your proficiency bonus). On a failed save, the total damage done is doubled.



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On Reader Mail, Random Generation

Mr. Cole writes:

I'm seeking some major input on a Convention game I plan on running next month. My goal is to run an old school crawl 100% randomly, complete with characters (we're using the LotFP generator on "Save vs Party Kill" website), traps, encounters by dungeon level, and treasure.
I'm hoping to find an effective way to just sit down, roll some dice, and move forward with minimal GM-Side table clutter, and likewise minimal page-flipping to get to the goods. 
So my questions! I'm right now picking and cutting individual pages from your "Tricks" and "Treasures" pdfs, to assemble a GM screen. My hope is to not have to use anything aside from that custom GM screen, a rules reference book, and a monster book. Maybe you know some useful shortcuts and tips from your experience with this subject?
Oh boy.

One of my former players (only former because he moved away from our face to face game by going to a state far to the north) had a fantasy of a complete random campaign generator that takes input and drills it down to whatever level of specificity you need to run a game*. I maintain the same opinion now that I did then.

On-the-fly random generation for a group doesn't work.

I'm saying that as a human being who has played solo Dungeons and Dragons with my wife using Ruins of the Undercity, an excellent book specifically designed to create a certain campaign style setting using random generation. It's fun to do solo, but not for a group of players.

Explicitly the tables in most of my books are designed for preparatory work. This is evidenced by their design. Zak S. of D&D with Porn Stars fame noted that you could take all the room entries and place them in a single d100 table, which makes it more useful for in media res use, because it reduces the dice rolls from two to one.

All hope is not lost!

Part of the problem with random generation is that, well, it's random, and ergo meaningless. This means, that for most players it's unengaging. Unintentionally, wizards of the coast proved this exact point in a video ad in an attempt to be funny.

The inability to obscure what's random (and therefore without meaning) and what's off the top of your head (and therefore not impartial) combines in the course of an entirely randomly generated session to remove agency from the players. 

This isn't true of localized randomness. A random magical item is exciting, as is a random encounter—because the tables themselves aren't random, but meaningful selections from a larger whole, when then adds a sense of discovery for all players (including the Dungeon Master) to the game.

That is the importance of randomness in combat, encounters, personalities and treasure in a game. It turns it from a boardgame, into a method to auger the actual reality of a foreign realm for entertainment. Who knows what will happen? Not even the Dungeon Master! That's a large part of the charm.

How to make In Media Res Random Generation useful

So what do you do?

Generating what's actually down a hallway and what's in each room is very time and attention consuming, removing your ability to play. There are several different pieces of advice and options that I can suggest.
  • Avoid using multi-roll tables. Have tables that are die drop, roll all the dice, or single roll tables for use during play.
    • If you've ever actually generated a "random dungeon" using 1e style generation, it's very time consuming, which is not fun for the players at the table. 
    • Part of what I mean by this is instead of using treasure and taking 14 rolls to generate an art object, try rolling on a table like 50 Interesting Pieces of Treasure, which in one roll, will give you something unique. 
  • If the point in randomness is for you to explore the environment at the same time as the players, you can use the most excellent resource Wizarddawn to randomly generate a hex and then randomly generate all the sites within the hex. (World Adventure, under Basic Dungeons and Dragons is what you are looking for)
  • Otherwise, you should spend your time creating meaningful random tables. What this means is not a table of what's behind that door, but a table of different dungeon modules with a theme that fits together and various options for how the players could interact with the modules as the explore the dungeon. 
    • Design the tables with an eye towards a meaningful unit. Hallway width and door type are not that. Complete descriptions of single rooms may be. A large part of how this plays out is kind of dependent on the real reason you want to try a complete random campaign. 
I hope some of the above suggestions address what you're looking for in randomness from games, and maybe make the convention experience a bit more fun. Feel free to talk with me on G+ about your ideas and let me know how the campaign game goes!

* He, of course, imagined a computer, but that type of randomness was already done, in Elderscrolls Daggerfall and Arena. It's massive, samey and in general, meaningless.


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On a Useful Review of Slumbering Ursine Dunes

You know what this side of the gaming internet is like? On time kickstarters that go above and beyond their goals.

Here's the Slumbering Ursine Dunes and a useful review.


  • My least favorite thing is that it's print on demand and the spine doesn't have the title. That's because I want to see it when I look at the shelf and have it make me feel happy again.
  • This is, effectively, one six mile hex, that goes anywhere in your campaign. 
  • It's a pointcrawl site based adventure with several factions that war in an area of ancient structures and gigantic dunes. That sounds blah, whatever. What it really is (SPOILERS) is
    • WERESHARK!
    • Talking bears!
    • Annoying, tax collecting centaurs!
    • Malevolent Elves!
    • Ancient Ships!
    • Two-headed Giant Vultures!
    • et. al.
  • It's unlike any other product I've read. It's a singular Dungeon Master (+Chris Kutalik of Hill Cantons) talking to you, another Dungeon Master, about how he ran his campaign, and how you should run his campaign based on his experience having done it already. 
  • Chris doesn't present you with a Non-player character. He introduces the character, talks about who they are, how he used him, gives advice and ideas on how to role-play him, and talks about how they fit into the larger picture of the dynamic of the Slumbering Ursine Dunes. 
  • These are actual Non-Player Characters that saw play, so they are brought to life by his descriptions, You can really imagine Jaromir misunderstanding the players so he can intentionally ramble on about some adventure he had once in the past. 
    • This both makes it a pleasure to read and enjoyable to play. You can't wait for the players to meet these non-player characters.
  • In case you missed it above, WAR BEAR B/X CLASS.
  • It's a pointcrawl, and there's an in-game rationale for why it's a point crawl. I feel that you don't need any sort of rationale for a pointcrawl beyond "These are the areas of interest".
  • It isn't  designed for fast and easy use at the table. To use this product you will have to read it once, then re-read it, then prepare some materials before play (such as a larger version of some of the maps. 
    • On the flip side of that coin, it commits no mistakes that many early modules and Dungeon Magazine adventures commit. All fiction/text is concise and evocative, and provides needed, necessary, and entertaining information. No verbiage is wasted on things that will never interface with play. The monster statistics and room descriptions are concise.
  • It contains a number of adventure accoutrements! A rising chaos table, a rumor table, a wandering encounter table, some new spells, some new classes, a table of hirelings for hire, new monsters.
  • The art is really nice, done by David Lewis Johnson who also did some of the pieces for Strange Stars. You can see some of the interior art of Dunes at that link.
  • It is an Interesting adventure. Besides the pointcrawl, there's a golden barge and a glittering spire. The barge may leave or the situation may change based on player action, and the glittering tower has multiple factions and more interesting gameplay then explore/kill/loot.
  • This is the exact right amount of content for a six-mile hex. 
    • So, if you have any sort of travel in your world, picking this up can be a good solution for whenever the players drill down on a coastal hex!
  • The kickstarter hit all its stretch goals and was delivered on time. 
    • You hear that, lying kickstarter starters? The Hydra collective did it right, not like people with 7 unfinished kickstarters, who start more AND run Patreons. The nerve.
  • Slumbering Ursine Dunes is available in Print and .PDF from RPGnow.

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On Reader Mail, Level Drain

Owen writes:

"So, I've been enjoying your Hack & Slash blog suggestions for HotDQ. 

I ran the beginning of Castle Naerytar the other evening and I liked your suggestion of using the Pale Eye cultists so much, the party ran smack into two of the level draining faceless white witch-things.

The foolish druid ignored them in favor of another opponent and was bitten twice. Bam. Two levels. I hadn't given much thought to how levels might or might not be restored.

What are your thoughts?"

Oh, this old chestnut again! A new edition and it rears its head up to bedevil new players. 

Level drain officially doesn't exist in 5th edition. This is the replacement: 

"The target's hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage taken, and the creature regains hit points equal to that amount. The reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0."
People don't like level drain. It isn't fair. It takes away something that took weeks (or longer) to earn.

That is the point!

You aren't supposed to like it. You aren't supposed to get rid of it with a long rest or a spell. You are supposed to stop and say "That creature is terrifying!" and really not like what it can do to you.

Of course, modern players and their ideas of what's "fair" and not wanting to have anything bad happen to them may create a situation where your milage may be fluctuating independently of my experience.

Being that this is 5th edition, I would have each hit drain 2d4x500 experience. I would not reduce the experience level (with death at 0 experience), I would just require them to earn back the experience before they could continue gaining experience. The reason for this is twofold.

  • First, very little actually happens when you gain a level in 5th edition. In general, unless it's a threshold level (5, 10, etc.) Your to hit bonus isn't going to change, your hit points are going to differ only slightly, and you'll lose a class feature or two. It is simultaneously difficult to track and not globally significant. (Yes, on a stat gain level, it might increase your chance to hit and strength checks and some such, but whatever the penalty is, isn't usually global, even if it is a little important for a subsystem like combat.)
    • In summation, the complexity far outweighs the benefit of tracking the reduction in level, unless that level is a threshold level, and even in that case it's better to be consistent.
  • They still lose the experience, putting them that much father from the next level. This is a painful enough consequence that it will make them seriously consider the strength of your opponent. 
That said, it is wonderful to hear about people using materials you create in the world! It's even nicer to hear from people who use them. For those of you enjoy my posts or who have used my materials in your games, you can thank the great team of patrons who made it possible! Without them, there would be no blog compendium, no Hoard of the Dragon Queen conversions, no blog posts at all since 2013! I would have needed to move on. 

Right now those Patrons are making an art-filled ecology book possible, as well as allowing me to donate to the cancer research foundation so they can find new ways to combat cancers, so that maybe other people in the future don't have to go through what my wife is going through.  

Thank you. It's an honor.



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On A 5th Edition Paladin Variant, Fantra, Oath of the Holy Tribe

Way back in February of 1986, Dragon Magazine made some paladin variants. Fortunately 5th Edition already has a system in place to handle such things. Let's take a look, shall we?

Sacred Oath

When you reach 3rd level, you swear the oath that binds you as a Paladin forever. up to this time you have been in a preparatory stage, committed to the path but not yet sworn to it. Now you choose the Oath of Devotion, The Oath of the Ancients, Oath of the Tribe, all are detailed at the end of the class description.
Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 7th, 15th, and 20th level. Those features include oath spells and the Channel Divinity feature.

Oath Spells

Each oath has a list of assoicated spells. You gain access to these spells at the levels specified in the oath description. Once you gain access to an oath spell, you always have it prepared. oath spells don't count against the number of spells you can prepare each day.
If you gain an oath spell that doesn't appear on the paladin spell list, the spell is nonetheless a paladin spell for you.

Channel Divinity

Your oath allows you to channel divine energy to fuel magical effects. Each Channel Divinity option provided by your oath explains how to use it.
When you use your Channel Divinity, you choose which option to use. You must then finish a short or long rest to use your Channel Divinity again.
Some Channel Divinity effects require saving throws. When you use such an effect from this class, the DC equals your paladin spell save DC.

Sacred Oaths

Become a paladin involves taking vows that commit the paladin to the cause of righteousness, an active path of fighting wickedness. The final oath, taken when he or she reaches 3rd level is the culmination of all the Paladin's training. Some characters with this class don't consider themselves true paladins until they have reached 3rd level and made this oath. For others, the actual swearing of the oath is a formality, an official stamp on what has always been true in the paladin's heart.

Oath of the Holy Tribe

The Oath of the Holy Tribe binds a paladin to the ideals of a guardian of meadlennes (the "holy tribe members"). They are the guardians of their entire people, granting them comfort and protection. However Fantras only care for their god and their people. All others are attlennes ("outsiders") and are considered inhuman, souless, and no more or less valuable than a cow or a pet. At best, one could be a valued companion, as a trusted dog or horse, but in the Fantra's view, lacking the essential nature that makes the Fantra and their tribe real people with souls.

Tenants of the Holy Tribe

The tenets of the Oath of the Holy Tribe vary by paladin, but all the tenants revolve around the following traits.
The Tribe must be protected. The highest value any Fantra places is upon the health, well-being, and success of their tribe. Everything must be sacrificed for the good of the tribe. Their gain and success always trumps that of the personal needs and desires of the Fantra.
Forbidden retention of wealth. Fantra's can retain no wealth. Everything they own and possess is actually the property of the tribe, and anything they are not currently using belongs to the tribe. They keep only their personal items and gear as such that they need to serve their duty.
Your faith is your shield. All Fantras are restricted from wearing heavy armor. They may only wear light or medium armor and use shields.
Attlennes ("Outsiders") are inferior to the tribe. Any Fantra must place the needs of the tribe above all others. If she ever aids an Attlenne against or in favor of the needs or wishes of the tribe, her status as a paladin is revoked, and she loses all her paladin abilities, and from this point forward, must advance as a fighter. 


Oath Spells

You gain oath spells at the paladin levels listed
1st Animal Friendship, Sanctuary
5th Locate Animals or Plants, Beast Sense
9th Conjure Animals, Beacon of Hope
13th Conjure Woodland Beings, Giant Insect
17th Insect Plague, Flame Strike

Channel Divinity

When you take this oath at 3rd level, you gain the following two Channel Divinity options.
Cure Poison and Disease. With a use of your channel divinity, all allied targets within 30' of you are instantly cured of any one poison or disease, and for the next minute, have advantage on saving throws versus poison and disease.
Protect the Tribe. Using your channel divinity power, you grant all allied targets within 30' an additional 1d8 temporary hit points. At level 6, this increases to 2d8 temporary hit points, and at level 14 it increases to 4d8 temporary hit points.

7th level trait

Fantra gain proficiency and expertise at both nature and survival skills. They also have advantage on any Charisma check with any member of their tribe.

15th level trait

Fantras gain the service and companionship of a variety of followers. If any die or if the Fantra wishes new or different companions, given 24 hours, the Fantra can replace or exchange his followers from the following list. They follow the Fantra and are completely loyal. (Originally this was Tabaxi or atomies, and once released, they should be replaced with them.

  • 2 Quaggoths
  • 8 Satyrs
  • 16 Pixies or Sprites in any combination

20th level trait

At 20th level, you assume the form of an Immortal tribe protector. Using your action, you undergo a transformation. For 1 minute, you gain the following benefits.

  • You cannot be reduced below 1 hit point.
  • You are immune to the Frightened, Incapacitated, Paralyzed, Petrified, Stunned and Unconscious conditions.
  • Any hostile target who strikes or targets a member of your tribe that is within line of sight of you takes 15 radiant damage.
  • All tribe members within 60 recover 5 hit points at the start of your turn and opponents have disadvantage on attacks against them.
Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a long rest.



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On 10 Random Facts about Numenhalla

Level 1. 300+ rooms. 4 sub-levels.
Many, many character fatalities.
So, I was called out.

As February draws to a close, I am engaged in two wars for dominance with a pretender god over fictional realms, my wife is almost halfway through chemothearpy, Hack & Slash Compendium II is nearly complete, my players are in Eturel in Hoard of the Dragon Queen, my fashion score is ever rising, and the team of wonderful Patrons are supporting the creation of even bigger and better things. After Compendium II comes the hardcover Ecology!

So, I will take Kiel's Challenge of a small indulgence.

10 Random Facts about +Numenhalla

  1. Numenhalla is known as the god halls, because it is where the gods walk. And they literally do walk among the halls.
  2. Typhon took the sword of Tethys, and she looks for it still, or one can surmise from the room in her hunting halls filled with swords.
  3. The Cannites live in a multi-level structure surrounding what appears to be a 200 foot tall statue of a snake, but really, it's the imprisoned foot of Typhon, king of gods.
  4. Altars provide access to the logos, a special realm where the rules are different, and those skilled in religion can explore those depths. 
  5. That giant staircase in the center will take you as far down as you please.
  6. Only one group of players has opened and explored beyond the black door that radiates cold, very near the entrance.
  7. The sun of the Soma of the Gis (the world above the dungeon numenhalla) is a flaming lance, that runs from Holdstyri to Holdstyri, the mountains that make up the edge of the world. It too, is beginning to fade.
  8. The dungeon was started the day before my daughter was born, and lives in a quadruled leather book, filled with my scrawlings. 
  9. The gigantic treasure hoards of Freya lie inside a rotating puzzle deathtrap, each vault locked with three keys, Three of metal, and three of color. 
  10. There is a gigantic shopping mall with over 50 stores + inventory, containing a variety of strange and useful wares.
Development on Numenhalla continues!


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