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.

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Flawed Foe: Robert “Robbie” McGee

Some NPCs make excellent allies, others are debilitating nemeses, but some are just sad. In this series of posts we bring you Flawed Foes.  These NPCs may once have held great potential, alas, their flaws have created substantial hurdles.  Don’t let that stop you from enjoying some good old role-playing fun though!


“It is important to engage in one’s pleasures, is it not?”

Robert McGee was born to an average couple in an average city. His home was small, but still fairly average for commoners; he had a reasonably warm bed and enough clothing and food to get by. His parents worked long, hard days at their import shop, which sold a variety of strongly scented herbs, overly perfumed soaps and oils, and other exotic items. Robbie spent much of his time helping out at the family shop sorting and refilling spices, the smell of which embedded itself in his clothing and made his nostrils burn.

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

The family earned enough to get by, but it was no fortune. The McGee family ate a lot of grains flavoured with some of the herbs from the shop, as well as bread and what meat they could afford (which was often poorer cuts his mother marinated in herbs and liquid to mask the quality). Robbie and his parents worked well into the night each day and began again early the next morning. Hygiene was not a huge priority as finding time to visit the local bathhouse was difficult and costly. As a result, Robbie was teased mercilessly from a young age for his poor hygiene and strange odour. Children would chant “Stinky McGee” in his presence, and very few children ever played with the pungent adolescent.

The growing boy distanced himself those around him, assisting his parents or exploring the fields outside of town alone. Over the years Robbie learned how to turn his emotions off, deadening himself on the inside to the world around him. He passed more time than he would ever admit to his parents inspecting the carcasses of creatures he found, and even killing some wildlife, and once a stray dog, he happened upon. The cold distance with which he performed these acts is what would have troubled the McGee’s more than anything else, but the parents remained blissfully unaware of their son’s pastime.

When Robbie grew older he decided to leave town. Taking a supply of goods from the shop, the youngest McGee thought he might have some luck as a traveling merchant. He knew his parents would need him in the coming years, but Robbie wished to see life outside his hometown, and secretly also wondered if he might be able to move the business somewhere else. With his parents’ blessing, Robbie set out.

What Robbie came to find was that there was indeed a market for goods such as his family’s out on the road. In a very short time, Robbie sold the majority of what he had set off with, and, having noticed the eager faces of many potential patrons, had done so at a higher cost than his parents normally charged in the shop. The days were just as long, and time on the road perhaps less pleasant than in town, but Robbie enjoyed the solitary nature of it.

Pleased with his progress, his bags near empty of their goods, and his pockets laden with coin, Robbie found lodgings at a nearby inn and decided to treat himself. Rather than order the least expensive food items available, Robbie decided to savour his success with a strong glass of ale and a meat and cheese platter. The smoked meat was delicious in the way so many roasts of his youth had not been, but it was the cheese with its strong flavours and unusual texture that delighted Robbie.

After enjoying much of the tavern fare Robbie stepped outside to the back ally to relieve himself. Here he inadvertently found himself listening to the end of a negotiation between two parties. One, a well-dressed man with a hood pulled low, was bartering with the other, a poorly dressed half-orc with several knives at his belt. From what he could gather, the half-orc was trying to increase the rate of services he was offering, and the human was frustrated by this. At Robbie’s appearance the half-orc appraised him, scowled, and looked back to the human stating if he changed his mind, he knew where to find his services. The half-orc rounded the ally toward the main street and the human looked in Robbie’s direction. A brief conversation ensued where the human became frustrated with Robbie for interrupting his business deal. While not always the canniest of people when it comes to people’s emotions and motivations, Robbie quickly determined less than reputable dealings were transpiring in the ally. Robbie cared very little for anyone but his parents, but he was distantly curious, full of satisfaction from his job well done, and emboldened by the copious amounts of food and drink he celebrated with, and so somehow, he convinced the man he might be able to help. That evening Robbie walked away with the first job in his new career.

The execution was easy; he simply slipped into the house via a window, dispassionately murdered the woman, and left the scene. Robbie found his ability to feel so little for so many, to be so distant from everything around him, was a huge asset in this line of work. The fee was substantial, and the work even easier than travelling with a large volume of goods and speaking with people long enough to convince them to purchase said goods. Robbie wanted to return to his parents; he wanted to help them with their business. He also wanted to do this.

That night, after he returned to the inn, his blade wiped clean on some discarded clothing, Robbie felt ill. At first concerned he had been poisoned, and then perhaps cursed, and so the next morning Robbie made his way home. Travel was slow at first, but as the days passed and Robbie ate the rations procured some days prior, the pain began to subside.

Feeling intrigued with the possibilities of completing more jobs like the one he recently done, Robbie returned home with the funds he had received the goods he left with. His condition cleared up while he resumed living with his parents, dining on seasoned meat and vast quantities of rice and other grains. He told his parents of the success of travelling with the goods, and the three of them agreed that for as long as Robbie wished to, this would be a good business practice. Within a few days Robbie set off once again, travelling here and there and peddling his wares, but he also kept his ear out and made contact with a few less than savoury people in the various places he visited. Before long Robbie had built himself a reputation with the “right” people, and had begun a second business of sorts – a hired hitman.

All the while the traveling merchant found himself obsessed with cheese and other delicious milk products, seeking out more varietie s in each town he came across, and enjoying it with every meal he could. Along with his new-found love of cheese, Robbie discovered something else about himself: his body had trouble digesting the milk protein. The malodorous man, who was used to the foul looks of those around him, realized he hadn’t been poisoned that first night, not exactly at any rate: from what he could tell his new favorite food caused him minor gut pain, and the most flatulent of farts.

For some time now, Robbie has travelled from town to town, completing jobs for those need to simplify their lives or have messages sent and peddling his parent’s wares, all the while indulging in the fare that causes him (and those around him) such anguish.

NPC: Shades the Blade (Blade Slinging Mercenary Goblin)

Looking to add an NPC to your Starfinder session? Look no further!

Shades the Blade was originally featured in 5e NPCs: Goblins! Goblins! Goblins!, but has been lovingly crafted into a Starfinder NPC. If you love Starfinder, keep an eye out for our upcoming Tangible Tavern: ICON.


Shades the Blade

Blade Slinging Mercenary Goblin

What, that? That’s just a fracking flesh wound, chum, it’ll be gone in a tick.”

Tarrgk Facegump was like every other member of the Flayback Tribe: vicious, impulsive, greedy, and short-sighted. The day the burning ship fell from the sky onto the Flayback camp he ceased to be impulsive and short-sighted. That was the day that Tarrgk Facegump died and Shades the Blade was born.

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

When his tribe’s camp was destroyed, Tarrgk and a small band of warriors were returning from an unsuccessful raid, laden down with their dead companions. Upon seeing the burning craft strike their home like the finger of a vengeful god, Tarrgk’s companions fell to their knees and begged forgiveness for their failures. Tarrgk, however, did not. He had seen something break off the crashing structure and arc to the east, and after the crash, he could see a faintly blinking white light some distance in that direction. Sensing opportunity, he snuck away from his companions to investigate.

About a mile away, Tarrgk found his prize: a segmented metal cylinder the size of five goblin tents. As he approached the cylinder, a door sized portion of it folded out into stairs with a hiss, creating a softly glowing entryway. The goblin cautiously hefted his spear and entered the cylinder with a mixture of trepidation and excitement, sure that he had discovered something truly valuable.

As Tarrgk passed through the door, a terrifying, man-sized creature with a smooth, glassy black face lunged at him, stabbing him with some kind of fine spear attached to a liquid filled shaft. Tarrgk thrust his weapon at the thing reflexively, stabbing it deep in the thigh and killing the already mortally wounded monster. As the rush of adrenaline subsided, Tarrgk’s head began to swim, and he passed out.

When he awoke mere moments later, Tarrgk was changed. He understood the cosmonaut he had killed had not intended to attack him; she had injected him with a nanite solution that connected Tarrgk’s brain directly to the escape capsule’s central computer, effectively making him smarter and more canny than he had been. The connection also informed Tarrgk that the nanites would work to keep their host safe, knitting almost any injury suffered and making his body and mind hardier.

Tarrgk used his enhanced knowledge to assemble a resonant blade, an extraordinarily sharp knife that doesn’t suffer the effects of friction, and that returns to his hand at his mental command, and a pair of tinted goggles. He also found the craft’s stealth module and rendered the ship invisible to all but the most advanced sensors, though he can always locate it due to the nanite’s connection to its central computer.

Finding his fellows far more limited than himself upon his return, Tarrgk quickly abandoned them, and his name. With the new name, Shades the Blade, he set out into the world ready to sell his services to whomever was willing to part with sufficient funds. Shades takes on nearly any task, regardless of the danger, as the nanites heal even the most grievous wounds rapidly, though he is quick to retreat in the rare instance that his injuries are slow to disappear.

 

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Flawed Foe: Nigel Ralston

Some NPCs make excellent allies, others are debilitating nemeses, but some are just sad. In this series of posts we bring you Flawed Foes.  These NPCs may once have held great potential, alas, their flaws have created substantial hurdles.  Don’t let that stop you from enjoying some good old role-playing fun though!


“This world needs heroes and goodness, and I shall do my part, but pray tell, are you friend or foe?”

As a child Nigel’s favorite game was hide and seek. The young boy was always begging his siblings and neighbours to play with him, and usually they would agree.  During the better weather, the children would all play together outside, running and hiding in trees and bushes or ducking behind buildings and crates. In the less pleasant weather Nigel would play with his siblings inside, hiding beneath beds, behind curtains, or under tables. Most of the kids loved the game, and some were quite good at it; Nigel was not.

The young boy’s feet could often be seen dangling from a tree branch, his legs protruding from a bush, or his back raised higher than the furniture in front of him. His eyes were closed or covered each time, and assume since he couldn’t see anyone, they couldn’t see him. Little Nigel truly believed he excelled at the game. His friends and siblings, who were all older than him, were usually kind enough to humour him, and so Nigel continued to think of himself as a stealth master.

When Nigel wasn’t playing hide and seek he was listening to tales told by his neighbour, a kindly older man. The tales of heroic adventurers and city savours who were capable of a great many deeds inspired Nigel, and the boy began to dream that one day he could grow up to be the stuff of legend. The wise old man often reminded Nigel small acts of kindness and bravery went a long way, and so Nigel endeavoured to do all he could for those around him.

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

Nigel’s hometown was a quiet, sleepy village, and remained so through his youth. Playing games of tag, hide and seek, and exploration was as close as Nigel came to any grand adventures, though he was always quick to stand up for his friends. Nigel called out any wrongs he saw, tried to include everyone, and ensured any game played was fair for all participants.

When Nigel turned eighteen he knew in his heart it was time to find his fortune on the road. Armed with a pack, a bow and arrows, and a sturdy pair of boots, he set out determined to help make the world a better place.

In many towns, Nigel was hardly needed. The residents respected each other, and when they didn’t, the law was just and fair, but in one city he came across Nigel discovered immense corruption. Determined to bring justice to those who resided there, Nigel approached several people who were contributing to the problem, asking them politely to change their ways.  When they brushed him off, Nigel would wait for them outside their businesses and offices, eager to try once again to help them see reason.

Unsurprisingly, these methods proved futile for Nigel and bothersome for the subjects. Nigel’s insistent meddling did little to ease the burden of the suffering citizens, but the corrupt council grew weary of the time they wasted on the matter. After several weeks of this they hired a pair of thugs to show the meddlesome do-gooder the error of his ways.

The beating was severe, but Nigel was left alive. Determined not to give up, he bid his time, recuperating from his injuries and trying to find a new approach. By the time Nigel could move about without too much pain, he realized it would be best to operate under a guise. Certain a series of disguises, combined with his prowess at hiding, would allow him to fight the corruption from the shadows, Nigel strengthened his resolve to bring peace to the residents.

While passionate about his disguises, Nigel is not much more capable at creating them than he was at hide and seek as a child. Details allude the young man and he has, on more than one occasion, forgotten to scrub and trim his nails before impersonating a noble, or worn high quality footwear when impersonating a beggar. Most of Nigel’s disguises can be seen through by all but the most casual of observers, though the young man puts a good deal of effort into them, going so far as to create detailed backstories for the roles he plays.

For some time now, Nigel has been watching the local powers, amassing what knowledge he can while remaining hidden from their prying eyes. He has yet to make any overt moves, and any information he has is mere speculation. Nigel is making plans to acquire concrete evidence of wrong-doings, but the last time he approached the office of one of the council members, Nigel was surprised to find himself spotted by a very perceptive guard and he abandoned the operation.

Nigel is once again bidding his time, unaware the council’s current lack of concern regarding his actions is due to their belief in his incompetence. As a precautionary measure, one of the council members has sent her low-level-lackey to follow Nigel, a fact the would-be-hero is blissfully unaware of.


You can find more unique NPCs in our Tangible Taverns and 5e NPC collections on DriveThruRPG.

Open Game License


What did you think of this NPC? Did he make an appearance in your game session? 

So Many Goblins….

Earlier this year the Dire Rugrat team started thinking about goblins. The way we saw it, goblins are an often used enemy in role-playing games, but they have become typical; PCs know what to expect when they see them. We wanted to bring some life to these poor little creatures, really give them a chance to shine for their 15 minutes of fame, so to speak. What better way to do that than 18 unique goblins, reminiscent of our Bullies & Brutes collection with the common thread being, well, goblins. So many goblins.

Moar Goblins

Moar Goblins coverAs we set to work building a collection of goblin NPCs, we realized we wanted to do more than just add some unique abilities to the same old goblin stat block: we wanted to address the lack of variety. To be fair, unlike some systems, 5e makes it relatively easy to customize NPCs, but even still, goblins were goblins. And so we ended up creating Moar Goblins, a mini-bestiary featuring a sextet of goblinoids adapted from a variety of real-world cultures. Back when that came out last April, we shared details of the PDF, including a sneak peak of one of the goblin sub-races. The book received a great review (and 5 stars) from Endzeitgeist.

Beyond the basic builds, which all have at least one intriguing feature, it is undoubtedly the copious flavor and inspiring supplemental text that makes this pdf come into its own; it s also a big, big plus that this does not simply regurgitate the same tired creatures we have seen over x editions and instead opts to go for the uncommon and novel, drinking deep from the wellspring of more obscure myths and legends.

-Endzeitgeist

It also substantially delayed our progress on the NPC collection. The pesky little creatures seemed to be everywhere like gremlins in the gearworks of our lives.

Fittingly, perhaps, it wasn’t that one goblin was a problem, it was that there were so many.

But I digress.

After a lengthy delay, we have finally chipped our way through the biographies and stat blocks of 18 different goblins. There are over 35 pages of NPC content and while all of the characters in the book are a goblin of some sort, numerous racial variants, capabilities, motivations, and challenges (ranging from 1/2 to 12) mean your PCs will never look at goblins the same way again.

Some of my favorites include the capable psychic goblin twins, Nix & Zub, the ever-helpful gudro bonga Eakogs Clutternugget, and the tokoloshe traitor N’tambu. If you love a little demonic backstory with your goblins, look no further than Flubboks Hugemitt, but if complicated family dynics is your thing, you’ll want to check out Neeha and Vaishik – these gudro bonga have a few family matters to sort out, assuming the PCs don’t wipe them and their children out.

A lot of love went into these NPCs, so much so it saddens us a little bit that your band of adventurers may just want to wipe out these poor unfortaunete souls just because of their race. We hope you’ll consider checking out this colourful collection, and showing your PCs that goblins can be just as diverse as any longshanks. To that end, we present Eakogs Clutternugget, a sneak peak at the offerings inside 5e NPCs: Goblins! Goblins! Goblins!


Eakogs Clutternugget

“Trade! Trade! I have many goods for trade!”

A great many years ago there lived a goblin who desired little more than to assist weary travelers. Through chance, he had come to be in possession of a magical drinking horn that produced the most delicious beverage imaginable and sated even the most parched traveler. Atop a hill in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, the benevolent goblin resided. When a traveler stopped to rest his weary feet and called out for water, the goblin appeared, as if by magic.

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

Always dressed in a red cape, the goblin would provide drink to those in need. Most were incredibly grateful, and word spread of the benevolent goblin and his incredible beverage until one day a traveler came through not looking for aid, but for the horn itself. When the goblin produced the magical vessel the traveler snatched it and jumped upon his horse, riding off into the distance faster than the goblin could follow.

Heartbroken, devastated, and feeling betrayed by those he had assisted, the goblin retreated into his hidden hilltop home. His child, Eakogs, who had long watched his father’s good deeds was perplexed. What would possess someone to take something which did not belong to him? How could his family aid those in need now?

Travelers continued to arrive at the hilltop hoping for a respite from their difficult journey. With the drinking vessel stolen and the benevolent goblin’s spirit crushed, their hopes were dashed. Over time fewer and fewer people made their way to the valley hilltop and fewer still hoped for that magical beverage.

Tales of encounters with the benevolent goblin stopped being shared and he became something of a myth or legend that could no longer be substantiated. Many a time Eakogs asked his father if they could assist the travelers in another way, but the betrayed goblin bid his son stay inside the safety of their hidden hilltop home lest they lose any more than they already had.

For years Eakogs watched and puzzled over how he could restore his father’s spirit, and do his part for the world. When he came of age Eakogs set out, promising his father he would return with tales of generosity, both his own, and those of the beings he encountered. Secretly, Eakogs hoped he could also find the horn, but he feared raising his father’s hopes.

Eakogs began to roam the world, offering assistance to those in need. He quickly discovered that many beings were leery of goblins, while others were outright hostile. Still, Eakogs made peace with many a traveler, providing goods from his laden down pack and often going without if he stumbled on those less fortunate.

While he carries a weapon, Eakogs uses it for only for self-defence. He is furious if anyone attempts to steal from him, certain the world would be a better place if everyone shared and was kind to each other. Eakogs prefers to trade items rather than sell them, though he happily accommodates shopkeepers who have no need for the goods he carries and would prefer coin.

This strange but optimistic goblin continues to search for leads of his father’s missing horn, and would be eternally grateful to any adventurers who helped him locate it.

flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Jago Sudsworth

Some NPCs make excellent allies, others are debilitating nemeses, but some are just sad. In this series of posts we bring you Flawed Foes.  These NPCs may once have held great potential, alas, their flaws have created substantial hurdles.  Don’t let that stop you from enjoying some good old role-playing fun though!


“You think your beauty is cherished by all that behold it, but it is merely a sweet lie held on the lips of a world that cares nothing for you.”

In his youth Jago was often called handsome. His square jaw, deep brown eyes and flawless skin made him the object of desire for many of the girls about town. When Jago smiled, it was as if the room lit up. His muscular stature, earned from moving heavy goods and otherwise helping with the family business – a small import shop – further enhanced his appeal. Despite his status as a commoner, many of the noble girls in town took notice of the good looking young man.

Jago Sudsworth

©Rick Hershey, Empty Room Studios, 2017

Jago enjoyed the attention, and the affection.  By the time he neared the end of adolescence Jago had numerous lovers, and had caught the eye of the very wealthy and notable Tillie Anne Sharperre.

Tillie, an attractive young woman of noble breeding, was the epitome of a lady in public, but she was also an emotional rollercoaster behind closed doors.  While Tillie was often passionate and adventurous during the secret moments she found with Jago, she was also prone to jealousy. Tillie demanded that if she and Jago were to continue, she be the only woman in his life. While Jago balked at the request initially, he quickly realized Tillie meant more to him than any of the other women. He called things off with his other lovers and assured Tillie his feeling for her were pure and true.

Tillie’s parents had promised her to a nobleman in town who was slightly older than the bride-to-be. She was disinterested in the relationship, but knew it was her duty to follow through. Tillie convinced herself that even after the union she would be able to continue her relationship with her beloved Jago, and he promised her the same.

As spring flowers began to bloom the wedding day drew closer; Tillie and Jago did what they could to find time together, while keeping their relationship a secret. Three nights before the wedding, Tillie and Jago met for what they believed to be the last time before the wedding. After a passionate kiss goodbye, and promising to visit Jago as soon as she could get away, Tillie set off, unaware it would be the last time she would see the handsome face of the man she loved.

Tillie’s future husband had begun to suspect something was amiss with the young girl and, determined not to be made a fool of, had hired someone to follow her.  When news came of her lover, he was furious. The nobleman hired thugs to ensure the relationship ended. The brutes cornered Jago in an alley and beat him, punching and kicking him, and even slashing his face until he was barely conscious. They told him if he loved his parents, he’d never see Tillie again.

It took some time for Jago to recover. He convinced everyone he was the victim of a mugging and had no idea who the attackers were. While the family business was successful, neither he nor his parents had enough funds to procure the services of a magical healer, and the attack left Jago horribly disfigured. Where he once caught the eye of many a fair maiden for his picturesque features, they now did their best to avert their curious gazes from his scarred and misshapen face.

Despite the warning, Jago was desperate to see Tillie.  His mind raced with the possibilities of her state – was she happy in her new marriage? Was her husband kind to her? Did she know of what happened to him? He convinced himself he could stay far enough away from her that no one would notice his presence.

Once Jago was well enough to travel about the city on his own, he set off to see Tillie. He was concerned about the welfare of his parents, but his love for the young woman was strong. He positioned himself in an alley that looked out at a busy street and here he waited for his beloved to pass by.  Even those who didn’t give the alley a wide berth paid him no notice, as he hid in the shadows deep in the alley with a large cloak wrapped around him for warmth, the hood pulled low over his face.

After some time the fetching young lass moved down the adjacent street. Jago heard her laughing and his heart leapt with joy, but he also became nervous. Was there anything she wanted to say to him? Did she miss him? Was she as happy as she sounded? Had her marriage caused her to forget him?

Jago hadn’t even realized his feet were moving until he had stepped out of the alley. His hood fell back over his shoulders and he came face to face with the love of his life, who was accompanied by a friend and two servants. He wanted to reach for her, despite all the reasons not to, when she recoiled, a look of terror upon her face. Heartbroken, Jago fled immediately, consumed with the knowledge that the beautiful Tillie Anne, his lady love, found his disfigured face repulsive.

Jago ran. He was hardly even aware of his actions as he returned to his home and hastily packed a few belongings. To this day he can only vaguely recall stealing the horse from the stable in a nearby inn, his appearance startling the stable boy into a corner and leaving him so speechless he couldn’t even bring himself to call for help. Jago rode the stallion into the night, and set off again the next morning. For days he travelled, blind to where he was going, knowing only that he must escape the small town and distance himself from the woman who now viewed him as a monster. Jago, heartbroken and betrayed, swore to himself he would never love again.

It never occurred to him in his haste to depart his home, to distance himself from the look upon his beloved’s face, that Tillie was not repulsed by him, but terrified of a figure emerging from the alley, surprised at Jago’s presence, and astounded at what had been done to him. It never crossed his mind after that brief moment that she still loved him and that her heart broke each day over their last encounter.

When Jago eventually stopped in a town he had never before seen, he found a shop selling masks. Here, his hood pulled low, he petitioned the shop keeper to fashion him a custom face mask, one that would ensure no one ever looked upon his face again.

Every year as the first spring flowers bloom, Jago’s heart breaks at the memory of Tillie and what they once shared, but he continues to move forward, desperate to put his memory of her, of their love, of the way she looked at him that final day, behind him. For years he has travelled the lands, targeting wealthy nobles with brutal acts of reprisal. It is hard to say for certain which bothers him more: those truly in love or those together for social status, but both become the victims of the masked man who leaves one or both of lovers broken, disfigured, or dead in the hopes it will bring him some solace for what he lost so many years ago.

 

 


You can find more unique NPCs in our Tangible Taverns and 5e NPC collections on DriveThruRPG.

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flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Briony Ashfarn

Some NPCs make excellent allies, others are debilitating nemeses, but some are just sad. In this series of posts we bring you Flawed Foes.  These NPCs may once have held great potential, alas, their flaws have created substantial hurdles.  Don’t let that stop you from enjoying some good old role-playing fun though!


“If you like how I look right now, just wait and see how much fun I’m going to have!”

The youngest of nine children, Briony spent her childhood trailing after her eight brothers and emulating them in every way she could. With them as her mentors she learned how to follow a trail, set a snare, hunt, fish, fight, and drink. This made her mother, Brynhild, very unhappy; Briony was Brynhild’s last chance to join their family with a wealthier one, as the boys had all been deemed too rude, too stupid, or too ugly to be paired with any eligible young noblewomen. Every time Briony came home covered in dirt and bruises with unkempt hair and torn clothes, her mother would admonish the young girl as she cleaned her up, explaining that it was important that she be demure, pretty, and accommodating. No well-heeled gentleman would marry a woman who was prone to speaking her mind, let alone fighting, after all!

Briony

©Rick Hershey, Empty Room Studios, 2017

As she neared adulthood, many young noblemen, mostly from minor houses, came to call on Briony, having heard, mostly due to Brynhild’s constant promotion, that she was a rare northern beauty with alabaster skin and ashen hair. During these visits, Briony would try to sit in silence as her gentlemen callers would extol her with tales of their wealth and influence in the region. Inevitably, however, she would grow bored and do something these fine young men deemed unladylike, such as disagree with their opinions, belch the alphabet, or challenge her visitor to an armwrestle… and win. Many suitors visited, and all of them left with the opinion that Briony was too inappropriate for their household.

Not wanting a man who did not accept her for who she was, or who would infringe upon her independence, Briony did not take her callers seriously, much to her mother’s despair. When she reached her twentieth naming day, Briony sold off her belongings and used the proceeds to purchase her axes and a custom suit of armour designed to be as revealing as possible; despite rejecting most of the things her mother taught her, Briony certainly remembered Brynhild’s admonishment that she must be pretty at all times.

Briony is now a veteran of many conflicts, not all of her own making. She has been a soldier of fortune, a pirate, a tomb raider, a treasure hunter, and many other things. She lives from campaign to campaign, filling her spare time with strong drink, athletic endeavours, gambling, and lovers of all races and genders. She lives her life to the fullest, satisfied that nearly anything she desires is within her grasp. But once in a while she finds herself wondering about her mother’s health, or whether any of her brothers have married, or if they have made her an aunt, and she pledges that she will return to her childhood home and find out.

One day, she may even do so.

Briony Ashfarn stat block


You can find more unique NPCs in our Tangible Taverns and 5e NPC collections on DriveThruRPG.

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purse contents

Handbags – The Real Life Bag of Holding

If you play PRFPG or D&D you are no doubt familiar with the magical sack that holds damn near everything.  This bag is the answer to an adventurer’s every problem (or close to).  Loads of loot to drag home? Just toss it in the bag, it barely changes the weight.  Need a bedroll or a tent? I probably have an extra one in here somewhere.

Some GMs are more of a stickler for how much you can fit in one of these puppies and exactly what can go in, saying some items are too big to fit inside the mouth of the bag, or that the item itself could puncture the bag, destroying it and either expelling all the items, or sucking them and nearby people into a whole heap of trouble.  No matter how your GM rules, or what you use it for, no doubt this enchanted bag has made its way into more than one game session.  If only there was something like it in real life, right…?

There is.

Well, sort of.  See, during our latest solo-campaign, which was meant to be a one off during vacation, my character was busy scavenging goods to survive in a zombie-filled-post-apocolyptic world after she got separated from the group had been living with, and their secure compound.  Ken, my husband, GM, and fellow Dire Rugrat Publishing companion, hand waved the contents of some purses.  Not much in there, he said. Mints, some recipients, that’s about it, he said.  The room had been untouched to date and I found more in the cheap motel’s bathroom than I did in the middle aged woman’s handbag.  I shrugged and figured she was one of the few women I know who keeps her bag to a minimum.  I wanted to focus on playing, not raise a stink about a hand-waved handbag in a savage story, but it kept happening.

Then it occurred to me: most men have no idea exactly what lays in the depths of these mysterious containers. Indeed, dumping out the contents of my purse at any given time either causes my husband to stare in wonder or back away slowly (I have since been much more careful to remove any perishable food). There’s seemingly no end to the random junk in the bottom of an oversized purse.

Much like a bag of holding, a woman’s purse can produce any number of random long forgotten object, and can store a great deal.  From the incredibly helpful flashlight or screw driver to the useless lone child’s sock, these bags were (at least in my opinion) an untapped resource in a world four years into a zombie apocalypse.

So What’s in There?

In an effort to help him out (*cough* gain more awesome resources), I started making a list.  I dumped out my purse.  I asked around.  I looked up pictures of the content of people’s bags (oh Flickr and Instagram, how helpful you can be). I even found the random bags I’ve emptied my purse contents into before a trip (those were some random items in there I’ll tell ya!) and inventoried what I found.

The result…? Over a hundred various items with varying degrees of usefulness.  Of course, an item’s usefulness is related to the situation and the imagination of the bearer.  I’m sure, given enough pressure and few enough resources, a creative mind could put damn near every item in a bag or two to good use.

Handy Handbag or Pointless PurseThe full PDF of Handy Handbag or Pointless Purse? is now available over on DTRPG, but as a sneak peek, I’ve included one of the tables below. Being the mother of 3 charming (and exhausting) rugrats, I’ve picked the Caregiver Table. This particular list is one that only applies to certain handbags, but the contents could be useful to anyone, depending on their desperation.

Some of the items are more humorous than helpful. Rugrat #1 couldn’t stop laughing about a few of them, but I assure you that either myself, or a friend, has had any one of these items in their bag at some point.

Ready to add these items? Roll 2d4 – that’s how many items from the table will appear in the bag.  Now collect 3d12, total the results and find the matching item.  Repeat for each item and voila! Repeats are okay, unless you don’t want them to be.  I assure you, and I’m sure fellow parents can agree, when in doubt – throw another one in!

Caregiver’s Handbag Table

3 children’s pain reliever 20 1d4+1 matchbox cars
4 snot sucker 21 1d6 miniature plastic dinosaurs
5 children’s sunscreen 22 1d4 adhesive bandages patterned with various cartoon images
6 baby’s bottle with milk or formula 23 child’s hair elastic or hair clip
7 child’s shoe 24 pouch of squeezable baby food
8 partially coloured colouring page 25 small package of baby wipes
9 pair of children’s socks 26 children’s sunglasses
10 plastic spoon 27 small children’s book
11 fruit flavoured snack in animal shapes 28 sippy cup of water
12 single dirty sock crusted with snot 29 soother
13 crushed package of animal crackers 30 1d4 diapers
14 used tissues 31 hand sanitizer
15 rock 32 small bottle of adult’s pain reliever with d10 caplets remaining
16 seashell 33 antiseptic wipes
17 beach glass 34 juice box missing a straw
18 1d3 broken crayons 35 teething toy
19 1d3 small plastic ponies 36 reusable container or bag of dried cereal

Comment Below

Did you try out the table? What did you end up with? What’s your favourite item? We want to head from you!

 

flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Billet Hamperstand

Some NPCs make excellent allies, others are debilitating nemeses, but some are just sad. In this series of posts we bring you Flawed Foes.  These NPCs may once have held great potential, alas, their flaws have created substantial hurdles.  Don’t let that stop you from enjoying some good old role-playing fun though!


“What foul and wretched creatures stand before me? You do not deserve to breathe the air of this world, let alone grace the halls of my home.”

Royston and Petunia were a match made by the gods.  Both dedicated to the intense study of magic, the pair were a match for just about any 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 how they both felt. 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 villagers. After some years together Petunia became with child, and their son was born some months later. Little Billet with his brown ringlets was celebrated by everyone in the kingdom, and Petunia and Royston had never been happier.

One day, when Billet just a toddler, a band of orcs that had been growing restless in the nearby mountains attacked the city. 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.  Petunia and Royston hurried to assist the city.  Petunia hid Billet in a nearby home with some trusted acolytes and proceeded to the hilltop where she would have the best vantage to fend off the opposition.

Billet Hamperstand

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art ©Rick Hershey/Fat Goblin Games (https://fatgoblingames.com/)

She had almost reached her destination, and smiled at the sight of her beloved Royston aiding the town, when a she heard a squeal from Billet.  She pivoted on her heel, concerned her young child had followed her into the danger zone.  Her eyes met his only for a second before the assassin who had snuck inside the walls was upon her.  The unsuspecting halfling was no match for the silent murderer, and right there in front of Billet, she perished. It was a single wound to the throat, but all Billet could see was blood, so much blood.  The young halfling fainted.

Royston, also hearing his son, had turned and seen the whole thing. He and the nearby guards quickly dispatched the assassin, but it was too late.  Despite her husband’s best efforts, and those of the local healer, Petunia could not be revived.  The city managed to fight back the orcs, with a number of casualties, but none were more grievous to the city than that of Petunia.  Royston was devastated, but he collected Billet, and prepared himself for a life without his beloved.

His father, consumed with Petunia’s death, poured all of his energy into his own studies, and those of his son in whom he instilled the idea that he was destined for greatness, that he was to follow in the footsteps of his parents.  Royston became increasingly powerful, eventually surpassing the skill of his late wife and drawing the attention of numerous people, both admirers and enemies.  Royston no longer wished to assist the helpless citizens of nearby towns.  No one else in his family would sacrifice their life in service to the weak and incapable.

Billet struggled with his studies, much to the disappointment of his father.  When he reached puberty, Billet was sent to an arcane academy, where his father hoped he would finally excel in his magical studies.  Billet despised the school. Each day he was expected to spend countless hours pouring over old tomes, making notes, and inspecting and studying various components.  Most of the other students were thrilled at the chance to learn under the watchful eyes of the instructors, but Billet just wanted to explore the world and be left alone with books full of incredible tales of wonder.

Billet would write to his father, begging to return home, but he was always refused.  Royston loved his son, but he was consumed in avenging Petunia’s death and eliminating any threat to himself and his son. His actions resulted in many enemies, and eventually a powerful band of mercenaries caught up with him.  Inside his own home, the great and powerful Royston Hamperstand was slain.

When Billet hadn’t heard from his father in some time, he requested leave to go check on him.  He was denied, but snuck out of the school anyway.  Billet made his way to his childhood home and there he found what remained of his father.  Even with Billet’s lack of medical training it was clear the death had not been quick.  The place was a ruin and remains and blood covered many surfaces of his father’s dining hall.  The sight and smell of blood, dried as it was, caused Billet to faint.

When he came to, slightly bruised from his fall, Billet forced himself from the room and vowed to avenge his father’s death, to make his family proud. He swore he would not return to his studies at the school, and began to amass followers by announcing himself the son of Petunia Hamperstand, the beloved arcane protector.  Many of those who remembered his mother came to his aid. His father’s home was cleaned and Billet began to build a new life for himself.

Inside the walls of the great tower Billet’s arcane studies have ceased, despite the plethora of tomes, but his love of books in general has grown.  The walls of the tower are now filled with any books Billet can procure, and he memorizes the stories, telling the accounts of protagonists as if they were his own, recounting numerous tales of grandeur and adventure.

Inside the walls of his father’s tower, Billet’s hatred of orcs and mercenaries festers. He takes his frustration out on his minions, belittling them with verbal tirades before apologizing to them with grand promises. The occasional reminder of his family’s legacy and his birth right keeps the majority of them devoted, and those who falter are replaced and announced as traitors conspiring with orcs or mercenaries.

 

Billet's Stat Block


You can find more unique NPCs in our Tangible Taverns and 5e NPC collections on DriveThruRPG.

Open Game License


What did you think of this NPC? Did he make an appearance in your game session?