Veteran Knight

Your players have run afoul of the city guards, but when you pull up the stat block you realize it isn’t going to be as effective as you hoped.

We present to you, the veteran knight.

Veteran Knight

To be regarded a veteran, most knights have seen their fair share of war and atrocity. Outside of a wartime environment, many veteran knights become watch commanders or household trainers who teach younger members of the house in warfare and force of arms.

 

Find this stat block, and others like it, in Houses and Heraldry for 5e on DriveThruRPG.


Houses and Heraldry

old fashioned book with a house shield of a black elk on a green and white backgroundThis book sketches out ten noble houses for your campaign. Each house is laid out on one page; the top half contains the house name, its motto, a representation of their heraldic device as it would appear on a shield, and an information block detailing important personages, numbers of troops, and vassal houses. The lower portion provides enough detail about the interesting characters of the house to get your imagination going, but leaves plenty of room for you to add your own details. See a sample here.

Pick up your copy today on DriveThruRPG.

What’s in the Bag?

Ah, that moment when your players take down an NPC wealthy enough to possess a bag of holding. They want it to store their own goods, sure, but it didn’t come empty now, did it?

This series of posts detail the contents of such magical bags.


An Infernal Commander’s Bag of Holding

The edges of this meticulously clean bag are trimmed in a fine red ribbon.  The initials “RY” have been embroidered near the opening of the bag.

  • An unholy text
  • 25 gp
  • Black vestments for an infernal church
  • 5 candles
  • 3 vials of unholy water
  • A wicker basket with a handle
  • Patchouli oil
  • A series of unsent letters to “Father” signed “RY”
  • Family signet
  • Potion of healing
  • Case of 10 crossbow bolts
  • Silver whistle
  • Boot polish
  • Whip

What’s in the Bag?

Ah, that moment when your players take down an NPC wealthy enough to possess a bag of holding. They want it to store their own goods, sure, but it didn’t come empty now, did it?

This series of posts detail the contents of such magical bags.


An Adventurer’s Bag of Holding

The bag is stained with smears of blood, dirt, and something that smells suspiciously of vomit. It has a sturdy set of ties strategically placed to allow the user to carry it like a backpack.

  • 26 loose crossbow bolts
  • An abacus
  • 7 bags worth of loose ball bearings
  • 3 baskets
  • A bell
  • 2 blankets (one has a squirrel embroidered on it)
  • A well illuminated book (The History of Wine: A Monk’s Tale), worth 15 gp to a collector
  • 18 chalk nubs
  • 3 costumes (1 courtier, 1 blacksmith, 1 naughty apothecary) all with appropriate cosmetics and costume jewellery
  • A flask (half filled with cinnamon scented whisky)
  • An hourglass
  • A vial of perfume worth 55 gp
  • A nightshirt
  • 6 pounds of soap
  • A waterskin filled with high quality wine
  • A cloak of billowing

Cloak Clasp of Confusion

Inspired by Paizo’s War of the Crown, but using the rules from the Cubicle 7’s (no longer available) Adventures in Middle Earth, our latest campaign is a low-magic, gritty, sexist world.

Most people think magic is almost entirely gone from the world. In truth, it still whispers in the trees of the deepest forest, and calls to some individuals in their dreams. Magic items are incredibly rare, but a few magical heirlooms remain.

This is one such item. Worn by an unsuspecting lord sent to do his father’s bidding, this clasp shields his mind from those who might read it, but at a cost.

Cloak Clasp of Confusion

Wonderous item (requires attunement), uncommon

This intricately made cloak clasp depicts the image of a griffon.

While wearing this cloak clasp, you are immune to magic that allows other creatures to read your thoughts, or know your alignment. 

The cloak clasp of confusion protects your main intentions from being read by focusing on another irrelevant thought. This can often drive the wearer to have a shift in their apparent personality. It does not affect your ability to focus to or complete your intended task, but a gentle soul may give off a lecherous demeanour while other individuals may seem obsessed with a person or subject.

Swift Retribution (a weapon)

Inspired by Paizo’s War of the Crown, but using the rules from the Cubicle 7’s (no longer available) Adventures in Middle-Earth, our latest campaign is a low-magic, gritty, sexist world.

Most people think magic is almost entirely gone from the world. In truth, it still whispers in the trees of the deepest forest, and calls to some individuals in their dreams. Magic items are incredibly rare, but a few magical heirlooms remain.

This is one such item. Wielded by a lowly lord with nothing but a title and his family’s heirloom dagger.

Swift Retribution

Weapon (dagger, requires attunement), very rare

The hilt of this finely crafted silver dagger is embellished with images of wind gusts.  

When your allies are harmed, you gain +1 to attack and damage the creature that harmed them.

Additionally, the swift retribution is imbued with a spirit of protective vengeance. When you roll a 20 on your attack roll, and the target has injured one of your allies, the target takes an extra damage equal to your proficiency bonus.

Face at the Tavern: Yakub Bekril

With the release of Tangible Taverns: The Beached Mermaid comes a collection of new faces.

This shipwreck turned tavern is located just on the outskirts of a settlement. The tavern is open to the air, allowing the fresh sea breeze to blow away the stench of the salty sea dogs who frequent it. The company is seedy and there are no rooms to rent, but the food is good and few people ask any questions. 

The tavern itself has a handful of servers, Captain Ormont, and the cook named Tor. Tangible Taverns: The Beached Mermaid also includes a collection of colourful patrons ready to make an appearance while your PCs sip their ale.

Yacub Bekril

Yacub’s face is weathered and scared from countless ship battles and tavern brawls. His facial hair is neatly trimmed, and his brown hair is long, but well groomed. Like many pirates his clothes are loose and slightly tattered. He wears a patch over his left eye.

An optimist from a young age, Yacub typically has a cheerful disposition. He feels at home on the ocean and despises being away from the waves for any length of time. He has worked for countless captains on all manner of ships. While much of his life has been spent aboard pirate ships, scuttling other ships and making off with cargo, Yacub has also sailed with merchants, assisting them in seeing their cargo safely to port.

If not for Annette Cunninsgworth, Yacub might never need set foot on the shore, save to assist in restocking a ship. Whenever he finds himself in a spot of trouble, unsure of how to carry on, Yacub recalls the day he first laid eyes upon his bonnie lass.


Can your PCs discover Yacub’s dark secret?
Or will it be their undoing?

Pick up Tangible Taverns: The Beached Mermaid today.

Savage Combat

Savage: ˈsavij

Definition: (of an animal or force of nature) fierce, violent, and uncontrolled.

The fifth edition of the world’s oldest role-playing game relies heavily on combat, but often what should be cinematic and memorable is laden down with dice rolls and rules that prevent truly memorable acts from occurring.

Knocking out a PC with one hit, for example, is nearly impossible. Until now.

Knockout (X/Day). [CR + 2 ] If this creature hits a creature with an unarmed strike, its target must make a Constitution saving throw equal to 8 + this creature’s proficiency bonus + this creature’s Strength modifier or be knocked unconscious. If this creature attempts this against a creature that has not taken any damage, it has advantage on the saving throw. An unconscious creature gets a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns to regain consciousness.

Our recent release Advantageous Abilities: Savage Abilities Volume 2 provides even more brutal abilities for the GM’s arsenal.

Give your PCs the unexpected as they come up against a monster with a slightly different strategy than others of its kind.

Pick up the whole Advantageous Abilities line now on DriveThruRPG.

 

Our Crew Solution

A problem reared its head shortly after we began playing a pirate themed D&D 5th Edition game: there are a lot of NPCs in play when the crew of one ship boards another ship.

Assessing the Options

I looked at the limited rules about handling mobs in the DMG and disliked them. I then read a lot of advice on the subject, most of which boiled down to “avoid mass combat at all costs”, or “let the NPCs do their thing in the background while the PCs star in the important action.”

The advice didn’t work for me. I like situations where perhaps the PCs are struggling against their opposition while the friendly NPC crew have quickly mopped up the enemy crew and can help the PCs. Or the inverse where the crew is nearing defeat which forces the PCs to divert some or all of their efforts to save them. I could just decide these things as the GM, but that felt cheap as well.

Looking Elsewhere

Unable to find a solution in the core D&D 5e books, I looked at other solutions such as the minion monster rules in D&D 4e, which are workable but still require too much management and rolling at the table. I also looked at 13th Age which has excellent and elegant rules for mooks, and I almost adopted them until I found the entry for the Bar Brawl in the Creature Codex by Kobold Press (which is a fantastic monster resource and highly recommended by us rugrats). This third-party work gave a group of aggressive humanoids the swarm feature, allowing them to use their numbers to threaten the PCs and their crew while elegantly working within the 5e framework.

Creating the Crews

I took this idea and ran with it. The resulting crews and monster swarms worked well in play testing (aka: our campaign). We compiled them together, added some officers and captains to bedevil the PCs, and created some magical and mundane seafaring equipment.

The Seafaring Supplement contains nine crew stat blocks, including two sets of sea creatures. Challenges range from 2 to 10. From crews of undead to experienced marines, these stat blocks keep ship combat from becoming bogged down, while still bringing excitement to the combat. 

You can pick up the Seafaring Supplement on DriveThruRPG.


NAVAL MARINE TROOP

Little clenches the stomach of a pirate faster than the sight of a frigate carrying regiments of naval marines. These hardened soldiers are equally adept at fighting on land or the heaving deck of a ship. Naval marines are more heavily armed and armored than most sailors, and take a great deal of care ensuring their weapons and armor don’t succumb to the brine and spray. 

The Dagger of all Daggers

Our interest in writing RPG products stems from our love of playing RPGs. One of my favorite campaigns, and certainly our most epic one, is Way of the Wicked. Written by Gary McBride of Fire Mountain Games, this adventure path allows the PCs to be anything but good. (Specifically, it actually recommends they all be lawful evil.)

The Bull & The Bear coverSome years ago, we ran through this campaign, taking the time to explore the cities more than the adventure path may have intended, which is where the Bull and the Bear was born. The PCs began amassing a reasonable collection of taverns, some of which have been published by us since.

We enjoyed dropping a fair few 3rd party products into this PFRPG campaign, including the 101 New Skill Uses by Rite Publishing and Legendary VIII: Evil by Sam Hing and published by Purple Duck Games.

It was in the latter we pulled Black Spider – a magical weapon (and a then some). Though intended for use by the BBEG, it was allowed in our evil solo campaign. (I should note here this product received a poor review and indeed has some glaring oversights.)

This blade was legendary in the course of the campaign. One moment I still clearly remember was when many of the party had fallen, with only the rogue (myself) and our anti-paladin remaining. Both of us were near the death. The righteous paladin still stood before us, and with the blade knocked from my hand, and my companion drawing her last breath, I was sure we were done for. Then this diminutive construct unleashed its fury upon the virtuous knight, scuttle across the floor before actually puncturing through his calf (hello double nat 20!). Perhaps it stole a bit of the thunder from the characters, but it earned this weapon much favor from its master.

Very recently we decided to revisit a version of Way of the Wicked: an alternate reality with some minor and some glaring differences. All of the PCs are rogues. The valiant Mitrans in the country are unknowingly demon worshippers (those pesky demons and their deception filled long game!). Our PCs did not start in prison (which made sense, but if you haven’t played WotW as intended, give at least the first module a go – it’s amazing!).

Some things have stayed the same, and one such similarity is the presence of Black Spider. With the switch to 5th Edition as the framework (as well as some of those glaring oversights), we’ve had to adapt the blade. Here is our modified version below. Again, a big shout out to Purple Duck Games for creating an amazing (and overpowered!) collection of weapons, as well creating one of my favorite weapons to date.


BLACK SPIDER

Weapon (dagger), legendary (requires attunement by a creature that meets all the listed requirements)

Requirements. A creature that wishes to attune itself to Black Spider must meet the following criteria.

  • Any evil alignment.
  • Proficiency in Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
  • Sneak Attack feature.

Black Spider grows in power with the creature it is attuned to. When a creature attunes itself to Black Spider, it gains all of the benefits listed for a creature of its current level.

  • When you reach 2nd level, Black Spider gains a +1 bonus to attack and damage. The dagger maintains a telepathic bond with you, and regularly urges you to commit acts of violence.
  • When you reach 4th level, Black Spider can animate itself and act independently from you. When it animates, the barbs lining the blade twist and act as spidery legs. Black Spider maintains its telepathic bond with you and follows your instructions, unless it can cause more carnage by doing something else. Black Spider’s starting statistics are below.
  • When you reach 6th level, the telepathic bond between you and Black Spider allows you to see and hear everything occurring within 60 feet of the dagger as an action. This effect can be ended as a bonus action. While using this feature, you have disadvantage on ability checks, saving throws, and attack rolls until the start of your first turn after ending the effect.
  • When you reach 8th level, Black Spider can urge you to overcome certain conditions. If you fail a saving throw and become charmed, frightened, paralyzed, or stunned, you can use your reaction to reroll the saving throw. If a condition allows a new save to overcome it at the end of each of your turns, you have advantage on it. If you are unconscious, Black Spider can use a bonus action to deal 1 hit point of piercing damage to wake you. Black Spider Enhancement: Armor Class increases by +1 (natural armor), Hit Points increase by 7 (3d4), Dexterity increases by 2 (add +1 to Armor Class,stealth skill, and Stab action to hit and damage), Challenge increases to 2 (450 XP), Sneak Attack damage increases to 14 (4d6), Multiattack action is added adding one additional attack per round. Black Spider’s CR 2 version is below for your convenience.
  • When you reach 10th level, Black Spider’s bonus to attack and damage increases to +2. Black Spider Enhancement: Stab action to hit and damage increase by +1.
  • When you reach 12th level, attacks made with Black Spider score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20. Black Spider Enhancement: Hit points increase by 7 (3d4), Challenge increases to 3 (700 XP), Sneak Attack damage increases to 21 (6d6).
  • When you reach 14th level, when you make a sneak attack against a creature, you can gain half of the sneak attack damage as temporary hit points. Once this feature has been used, it can’t be used again until you have finished a short or long rest.
  • When you reach 16th level, if you have surprise when you make your first attack with Black Spider in an encounter, you deal maximum damage. Black Spider Enhancement: Hit Points increase by 7 (3d4), Challenge increases to 4 (1,100 XP), Sneak attack damage increases to 28 (8d6)
  • When you reach 18th level, Black Spider’s bonus to attack and damage increases to +3. Black Spider Enhancement: Stab action to hit and damage increase by +1
  • When you reach 20th level, if you are hidden from your target when you hit it with Black Spider, it must succeed at a Constitution saving throw with a DC equal to 8 plus your Dexterity modifier plus your proficiency bonus or die. Once you have used this feature, you must finish a long rest before you can use it again. Black Spider Enhancement: Proficiency bonus increases by +1 (affecting skills, and Stab action to hit), Hit Points increase by 7 (3d4), Dexterity increases by 2 (adding +1 to AC, Stealth skill, Stab action to hit and damage), Sneak Attack damage increases to 35 (10d6), Black Spider can make three attacks per turn with Multiattack.

Black Spider is both greedy and jealous. You have disadvantage if you make a melee attack with a weapon that is not Black Spider. This penalty does not apply if your attack is made with a weapon in your other hand when you are fighting with two weapons.

 

 

 


What’s the most memorable weapon you’ve used in your game?

Open Origins: Royston and Petunia Hamperstand

Sometimes an NPC’s story begins long before they are born. The fate of these characters can be traced back to the decisions of their parents, characters who, while interesting, are unlikely to ever meet the PCs, and as such, their tale goes unnoticed and untold along with hundreds of others about the places the PCs explore.

Our Open Origins series focuses on these bit characters and gives some history and context to some of our NPCs.


Royston and Petunia were a match made by the gods. Dedicated to the intense study of magic, the pair of halflings were undefeatable by just about any foe that crossed their path. Petunia had begun her studies early in life and excelled quickly. When she met Royston the two maintained a friendly feud for a time, but eventually admitted their feelings for each other. Their love was intense and pure, as strong as their combined forces against those that would move against them.

Petunia was kind-hearted and generous, no matter how powerful she became. At her insistence, the pair helped those in need, and always came to the aid of the rulers of the kingdom in which they resided. They quickly developed a reputation for charity and Petunia especially was beloved by the smallfolk. After some years together Petunia became with child, and their son was born some time later. Little Billet Hamperstand with his brown ringlets and chubby face was celebrated by everyone in the kingdom, and Petunia and Royston had never been happier.

When Billet was a toddler the city was attacked by a band of orcs that had been growing restless in the nearby mountains. Officials, as well as Petunia and Royston, had been keeping an eye on them, but they had seemed disorganized and scattered. The sudden organized attack had been impossible to predict. 

The pair rushed to assist the city, hiding Billet in a nearby home with some trusted acolytes before proceeding to the hilltop where they would have the best vantage to fend off the opposition. They had almost reached their destination when Petunia heard a squeal from Billet. She pivoted on her heel, realizing her young child had followed her into danger. Unbeknownst to the residents, the orcs were a distraction meant to allow an assassin inside the walls of the city.

Petunia’s eyes met her sons only for a second before the assassin upon her. The unsuspecting halfling was no match for the silent stalker, and right there in front of Billet, she perished. It was quick, too quick even for Petunia to see the horror that crossed her toddler’s face, too quick to see her son faint or her husband attack her killer. A single wound to the throat.

Royston, also hearing his son, had turned and seen the whole thing. He and the nearby guards quickly dispatched the assassin. Alas, despite Royston’s best efforts, and those of the local healer, his beloved Petunia could not be revived. 

Royston was devastated, but he gathered Billet, and prepared himself for a life without his beloved wife.

Consumed with Petunia’s death, Royston poured much of his energy into furthering his own magical ability and determining who sent the assassin after his wife. What remained was focused on his son Billet in whom he instilled the idea that the boy was destined for greatness, and that he was to follow in the footsteps of his parents. 

Royston became increasingly powerful, eventually surpassing the skill of his late wife. Despite Petunia’s passion for assisting others, Royston turned his back on helpless citizens of nearby towns and others in need, determined no one else in his family would sacrifice their life in service to the weak and incapable. Instead, he and his son remained locked in their town, forever studying and researching.

Much to Royston’s frustration, Billet struggled with his studies and when the boy reached puberty, Royston sent his son to an arcane academy, where it was hoped he would finally excel in his magical studies. Billet despised the school and wrote to his father constantly begging he be allowed to return home, but Royston, for his part, had become even more obsessed with finding the identity of the individual who had his beloved wife killed, and so he refused his son’s requests.

After much magical investigation, Royston was confident his wife could be attributed to a seer assisting a powerful noble in gaining control of the land, and Royston set off to enact his revenge. While much of the intel the widower had gleaned was correct, he was not prepared for the seer to be Primula Flemarand, Petunia’s own sister and a fellow student from many years prior who had been most interested in Royston during their studies. Royston had spurned her advances due to his interest in Petunia (who was unaware of Primula’s interest).

Where Petunia was patient and caring, Primula was impulsive and selfish. Where Petunia was gentle and encouraging, Primula was forceful and demanding. The sisters were as different as night and day. Primula, ever second to her smarter, prettier and more charming older sister had been furious at the time and her anger for Royston and Petunia had festered and boiled to pure hatred in the years since.

Primula’s power had finally blossomed, and with her gift of foresight she knew breaking the bond between her sister and Royston would change the tides for her new employer; the fact that it allowed her to finally seek her revenge against the man who spurned her was mere icing on the cake.

And so, when Royston confronted the oracle who was responsible for setting the wheels of his wife’s death in motion, he was caught off guard by the familiar face. In that brief moment of hesitation, Primula gained the upper hand. Royston, quickly found himself underprepared for the battle and so he retreated to his tower, hoping to collect himself and attempt once more to avenge his wife.  

Primula, knowing such a thing was likely to happen, had already advised her employer, who sent agents to dispatch the wounded halfling, and so, inside his own home, the great and powerful Royston Hamperstand was slain.

From her crystal ball, Primula now watches over her nephew, ever curious to see what the young man will become.

Learn more about their son Billet Hamperstand, the humourless halfling in 5e NPCs: Flawed Foes.