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.

Open Game License


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

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.

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Moar Goblins: Exploring the Pukwudgie

Gob·lin /ɡäblən/

noun

A mischievous, ugly, dwarflike creature of folklore.


Once upon a time, these creatures went by many other names.

Elf. Gnome. Imp. Orc. Brownie. Troll. Puck. Redcap. Ogre.

They were antagonists of myth and fable. The subject of cautionary tales parents would tell their children to encourage common sense and good behaviour. They were the face of humanity’s collective fear of the unknown. They were feared and respected.

Goblins’ folkloric qualities have been stripped away from them in the world’s oldest roleplaying game. The aspects that have made them mythic across the vast and varied tapestry of human culture have been stripped away and granted to other creatures, leaving the poor goblin a pathetic, sniveling servitor to creatures that carry the names that were once synonymous with goblin. First level adventurers kill these pathetic excuses for goblinkind by the score before moving on to bigger challenges. No one fears goblins anymore. No one respects them.

Moar Goblins

Dire Rugrat Publishing aims to change that with Moar Goblins, which features a sextet of goblinoids adapted from a variety of real-world cultures.

  • Grindylows – aquatic scavengers and terrors of the deep.
  • Gudro Bonga – sometimes benevolent creatures often mistaken for children.
  • Kallikantzaroi – weird, yule ruining goblins obsessed with the destruction of the World Tree.
  • Nacht Kabouters – red hat wearing mischief makers that travel by night.
  • Pukwudgies – forest dwellers with a kinship to hedgehogs.
  • Tokoloshe – vicious child stealers and vengeance takers.

With challenges ranging from ½ to 6, Moar Goblins will keep adventurers busy into the middle of their career, and hopefully rebuild some of the respect goblins have lost over the course of five editions.

Moar Goblins (A Mini Bestiary) was released on DriveThruRPG last week.  We love our blog readers, so we’re sharing a sample of one of the goblin variants below.


Pukwudgie

Pukwudgies reside in moderate climates, typically near wooded areas with fresh sources of water. If left to themselves, or occasionally gifted with offerings, pukwudgies refrain from interfering in the lives of those in the area.

pukwudgieGoblinoids. Pukwudgies were once friendly, helpful goblinoids, but their inability to share a language with and understand the ideals of those they attempted to befriend and aid resulted in many of their efforts backfiring. Over time, the creatures were viewed as a nuisance and, feeling unappreciated, the pukwudgies decided to torment those who tried to exclude them and treated them like inferior beings.

Growing Resentment. The less appreciated a pukwudgie feels, the more malicious it becomes. Harmful pranks, missing items and eventually disappearing children are not uncommon in areas with tribes of pukwudgies that believe they are mistreated by humanoids.

Skilled Hunters. Pukwudgies are capable hunters. Living off the land, they are adept at navigating the wilderness. They are also proficient with poison and often dress their arrows with it to take down those who dare trespass into their territory.

Magical Aptitude. Drawing on their bond with nature, pukwudgies have some facility with magic, including the ability to take on the form on a porcupine.


Two stat blocks accompany this variant in Moar Goblins, offering a lower level pukwudgie as well as the more capable pukwudgie shaman.

Pick up your copy of Moar Goblins today and, (bonus!) if you use this link you can pick it up for just $1.50! 

April Fool’s Fun

Some time last year I was browsing through stock art on DriveThruRPG when I found the Invisible Stalker.  What does a picture of an Invisible Stalker look like? I was expecting faint outlines, or a ghost like appearance, or…. well what I found was this. It is an invisible stalker.

And with that I discovered the joy and humour of April 1st product releases. There are a fair few out there, and some of them might even deserve a semi-legitimate spot at the gaming table (10 foot poles can be super useful).

I knew I wanted Dire Rugrat Publishing to be a part of the fun, and so we started coming up with ideas. Not just a gag, I wanted the release to be an entertaining read, and something GMs could use.

not so advantageous abilities coverWe’re big on role-playing here.  For us, it’s not just how the dice land, it’s not just defeating capable BBEGs, it’s about the flaws and decisions that create a memorable story: the plotting seductress who looses her cool and watches her carefully laid plans unravel because someone calls her boring; the bar owner who gets burned by an adventuring party and inadvertently becomes one of their greatest nemeses; the terrifying arbiter of justice who just can’t seem to save against those mind-affecting spells.

If you like building your 5e NPCs yourself, you might have checked out our Advantageous Abilities line of products.

This line provides Game Masters a toolkit with which they can easily add feature abilities to monsters and NPCs, giving their NPCs an advantageous edge (or just a little role-playing fun).

Each product in this line has more than 15 themed feature abilities, and instructions that allow GMs to easily customize existing creatures or create all new foes.

Currently there are three Advantageous Abilities: Humanoid Special Abilities, Charismatic Abilities and Savage Abilities.

Our upcoming April Fool’s release, (Not So) Advantageous Abilities, features twenty abilities for GMs to give their NPCs a custom Achilles’ heel.  Making the most of this weakness can add flavour and humour to a campaign, creating a memorable nemesis and a little role-playing fun. 

With a table indicating the challenge rating adjustments, this little product allows you to take a powerful, capable NPC and give them an exploitable flaw, making someone way out of your PCs league a much better fit.

Keep your eye out this weekend, and get ready to amuse your players!

flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Glando the Pervasive

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!


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

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

Glando the Pervasive was born to a charming catwoman and a hardworking catman.  The young catfolk adored his parents, who worked tirelessly to provide their son with a good life, and remained jubilantly positive no matter what hurdles came their way. While Glando was cheerful and generally well-mannered, others in the village found it difficult to trust him; there was something about the young catfolk that seemed shifty.

Over time Glando’s parents began to drift apart, and though they did their best to keep their son’s well-being first and foremost, a change was eventually needed; Glando’s father no longer agreed with the rules of his clan, and decided to leave the village, but his mother refused to give up the life she had built.   As he neared adulthood, Glando was forced to make a choice – leave with his father, or stay with his mother.

The young boy was devastated.  As it happened, a travelling show came through his village that night.  Several of the visitors were adept musicians, sporting various instruments including the lute.  Glando was mesmerised.  The music spoke to him and soothed him.

Overwhelmed with the decision before him, Glando returned home where he collected a few belongings and, in the first rays of dawn, hid himself in amongst the wagons of the travellers.  It was not until much later that day he was found and, after some pleading, was allowed to stay on with the musicians.  The group wasn’t sure if they could trust him and kept their small coin purses close, but they sympathized with the young Glando and his desire to be on the road, his heart full of melody.

Each evening the party would create beautiful music and occasionally they allowed Glando to try.  He was horrible, but he persevered.  His companions offered words of encouragement and attempted to teach him.

For months he travelled with the musicians, from town to town.  He assisted them with their packs and instruments, he helped draw crowds, and always he dreamed of being one of them, but he was never allowed to play with them for events.

Glando soon decided they were jealous of his ability to play the lute, and when the party left town the next morning he bid them farewell and ventured off on his own with the small pouch of coin he had been paid during his time with them.  The aspiring bard made his way to a local merchant who was selling a lute. The lute, he was told, belonged to a capable and magnificent musician who met his end performing in front of a great crowd well into old age – no doubt, it could bring him the same fortune and luck.  And so, with nary a coin left to his name, Glando renamed himself Glando the Pervasive and set forth to conquer the musical scene of every tavern he could find.

Alas, after a year on the road Glando the Pervasive has had difficulty securing any shows and is frequently booed off stage. Due to his squirrely nature, Glando has not even had much luck hiring himself out to adventurers or merchants to provide a helping hand.  He has begun to consider returning home to his village, but he isn’t sure what he will find if he does, and he fears neither of his parents will forgive him for abandoning them.

Glando 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? 

flawed rose

Flawed Foe: Carbid Stouthall

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!


Carbid was once a champion warrior, idolized by both young and old.  Anytime the threat of danger presented itself, Carbid was at the front line, defending his clan with gusto.  Many an enemy was slain by his hand, and numerous tales spoke of his bravery.

Over mugs of ale around the warm fires his people would feast and afterward, might pull out cards or dice and play games.  Carbid enjoyed the games immensely, and was always happy to make a wager.  He quickly developed a gambling problem, and unfortunately, did not have enough skill to back it up.  Many a bet was won against the great hero until the clan agreed betting with Carbid, and ultimately taking his money and belongings, showed great disrespect to the warrior who had saved them so many times.

Carbid often tried to convince clan members to wager with him anyway, though they always refused, prompting him to spiral into a rage.  His fellows would take cover, waiting for the anger to subside, offering him food and drink and other means of placating him.

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

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

One day Carbid was travelling with a few of his clansmen when they came to rest in a tavern a few days journey from their home. It was here he joined a game of cards, against the wishes of his fellows. The game started well enough, and Carbid, excited at the opportunity to gamble, continued to play hand after hand.  His opponent quickly turned the tables on him, taking all of Carbid’s valuables in two hands.  Certain he could get them back, Carbid begged for one more hand.  With nothing physical to offer, the stranger asked for a single favour.  Carbid hastily agreed. And lost. With nary a copper to his name, and a favour owed, the dwarf walked away, head low.

The next morning, he and his clansmen were set to return home when the stranger beckoned Carbid over and called in the favor.  He asked Carbid to travel east to a nearby lake, defeat the ogre that resides in a cave there, and return with the head.  Carbid was eager to return to his people, but he knew he had to stand by his promise. Enlisting the help of his fellows, Carbid set off.  The trip took several days, thought the creature was easy enough to locate and defeat.  The party returned triumphant a week after they had departed from the tavern.  The stranger was not there, but upon inquiring, Carbid was given a note of thanks.

A bit perplexed, Carbid disposed of the head and, with his allies, set off for home.  What they found was a grave sight; their clan hold had been burned and the residents slaughtered.  The stranger had set them up, eager to have the bravest warriors occupied while he lay waste to the settlement.

Carbid’s companions were furious. Carbid was devastated.

Now haunted by his actions, Carbid travels alone with inferior quality weapons, spending every copper he has on liquor in the hopes of drowning away his sorrows.  Carbid suffers from horrific nightmares, causing him to feel tired even after what most would consider to be a restful night’s sleep.

Carbid 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? 

5 Thoughts on Volo’s Guide to Monsters

In November, Wizards of the Coast unleashed Volo’s Guide to Monsters, a combination monster ecology lorebook, bestiary, and, just for fun, they tossed a chapter on new player races in. Since I’m perpetually behind the times (I like call myself a late adopter), I have only recently come to possess a copy of this tome. My first impressions follow: Continue reading 5 Thoughts on Volo’s Guide to Monsters

Freebie Friday: 5e NPC – Deloris Franz (Part Two)

Last week we gave you sneak peek at Deloris Franz, an antogonist from 5e NPCs: Bullies and Brutes.  We know detailed histories and motivations are awesome, but since Deloris is intended to be used in an RPG, stat blocks are handy too, right?

deloris-finalThat’s why this week we bring you her complete stat block.  If you are intrigued and think a few more unique NPCs could be benefical to you in your game, we entreat you to pick up the brand new release from Dire Rugrat Publishing. Continue reading Freebie Friday: 5e NPC – Deloris Franz (Part Two)

Freebie Friday: 5e NPC – Deloris Franz (Part One)

This coming Wednesday, January 18th, Dire Rugrat Publishing is releasing 5e NPCs: Bullies & Brutes.  With nearly 40 pages of unique stat blocks, write-ups, and colour art, there’s plenty of NPC goodness. While all of the characters in the book are a bully of some sort, some prefer brawn and others brain; challenges range from 1/2 to 15.

To tide you over until the big release, here’s a sneak peek: Continue reading Freebie Friday: 5e NPC – Deloris Franz (Part One)