Why Taverns?

Why taverns? I posed this question in the foreword of the original version of Tangible Taverns: The Bull & The Bear. Taverns are where we got our start, five years ago. We were so proud of our work at the time, though reviewing it shows how inexperienced we were and how much we’ve grown since then.

The past five years have seen an improvement in every aspect of what we do. The writing is sharper and more concise. The art is more skillfully executed, and more of it is produced in-house. The maps look great. The layouts improve every release.

We couldn’t have believed five years ago that our humble little release would be the stepping stone for working with other publishers.

If you’ve noticed a slowdown of Dire Rugrat releases, it’s due to just that fact. If you like what we do, you may be interested to know that Kelly has done work for Kobold Press, Playground Adventures, Flaming Crab Games, and other third-party publishers of D&D 5e materials. I’ve worked with Rogue Genius Games and others.

But… back to the question. Why taverns?

The local watering hole is a representation of the community as a whole, whether that community is a neighbourhood in a larger city or a tiny hamlet. Adventurers can go to the tavern, figure out what the locals are like and what problems they have, solve those problems (or make new ones), and return to the taphouse to collect payment before moving on… or not. I’m certain entire RPG campaigns could be set in a tavern, just dealing with the drama created by all those visiting adventurers!

If you downloaded the latest Tangible Taverns: The Bull & The Bear because you received a notification of an updated version, thank you for your patronage these last five years. 

To those who are new to what Dire Rugrat does, welcome!

I’m excited to see what the next five years hold for us and our little company, and hope many of you reading this will come along for the ride. Regardless, put your feet up, pour yourself your favourite drink, and enjoy this little slice of our gaming reality.

We’re pleased to announce the anniversary edition of Tangible Taverns: The Bull & The Bear. These new files include more original artwork, a revised colour map, and additional stat blocks for 5e and Pathfinder.

Ken Pawlik, September 2020

 

Pick up Your Copy Today

Tangible Taverns: The Bull & The Bear (5e)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tangible Taverns: The Bull & The Bear (Pathfinder Compatible)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tangible Taverns: The Bull & The Bear (System Neutral)  

   

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. 

Tavern Shots: Gumption

You are a rockin’ GM.

You’ve nailed the voices, the descriptions, and general atmosphere.

Or maybe you haven’t.

Or you want a little inspiration tonight because it’s been a long day.

Check out our tavern shots and get a quite glimpse through the window at life inside our taverns.

Today We Explore Gumption 

Where: Middle of Nowhere

Located far away from just about anything, this strange little homestead is a haven for weary travellers who manage to stumble upon it. Originally made viable by a druid, this oasis in now home to a halfling and two adopted human children who work the land and help out those who pass through. With no nearby neighbours, some of them are a little starved for attention, while others are leery of strangers. 

If your PCs are wandering the barren lands of the Wasted Waste, the demon ravaged landscapes near the Worldwound, or another seemingly endless uninhabitable terrain, break up their travels with a stay at Gumption. 

Who: Faces of the Tavern

Harbrum

A friendly halfling who has lived here almost his whole life, Harbrum is happy to give visitors a good meal and a safe place to sleep for the night. He works hard and believes others should do the same. He is also remarkably knowledgeable about waterfowl, especially ducks

Bill

A young, hardworking adolescent, Bill aspires to be a brave, kindhearted adventurer in his adult years. He is eager to learn from competent travellers, but wary of those who seem cruel or menacing. He would make an excellent apprentice, if someone could convince him to leave the farm. 

Magenta

A talkative young girl, Magenta is more than competent in the kitchen and has a special way with animals, especially “Buck” the resident horse. She is eager for any information from outside of the valley and could be considered something of a gossip. She seems to know everything that happens in and around Gumption. 

“Buck”

Lost and abandoned after his caravan was attacked by bandits, Stanley found himself wandering the barren land around the valley. By chance he was taken in by the dryad who made the valley what it is today, and he hasn’t strayed far since, doing all he can to care for the land and the people who reside there peacefully.  This majestic horse is more than what he seems, a secret he shares with only other one resident of the valley.

What: Stuff For Your Players to Explore

Each of our taverns includes a table of rumours and a table of events, giving you quick ideas to feed to your players. From animals in labour, corpses found nearby, and a kidnapped child there is something for every PC to show off their skills with.

In the short piece below, we introduce a mysterious traveller. Just what does he have in store for the caretakers of Gumption? And can your PCs arrive in time to stop him? 

Pick up your copy of Gumption today.


A Shot of Gumption

“What are you doing, boy?” asked Harbrum, lifting his straw hat to wipe his brow.

The horse just stared at him, refusing to move from the hay bale.

“It’s time to go inside,” he said, turning from the horse. “The other animals are settled in. Am I putting you in the barn for the night?”

The horse moved from the hay bale and blocked the man’s path.

The sun was low in the sky and Magenta had already let Harbrum know they had a visitor. He didn’t like leaving her or Bill with strangers for too long and was eager to get up to the main house and greet them. He was also getting hungry.

“Come on, Buck. We’re done for the day,” he said sighing and trying to move around the horse.

The horse blocked his path once more and neighed insistently.

Harbrum sighed.

“What do you want, Buck?” he asked, his usually cheerful demeanor starting to fade.

The horse moved to the hay bale once more.

“There’s plenty of hay in the barn,” said Harbrum distracted. “Come along. You can have some there.”

The two of them stared at each other for several moments before Harbrum threw his hands up in the air.

“I’m going inside, Buck,” he said. “We’ve got company, and we can put the hay in the barn tomorrow.”

The horse neighed in protest and moved to block Harbrum’s path once more.

“I’m going to talk to Magenta,” said Harbrum, frustrated. “Maybe she’ll know what to do with you.”

The horse moved slightly to one side, allowing the halfling to pass.

Harbrum made his way over to the main building and went in the side door. The savory smell of a well-seasoned stew met his nostrils and a smile spread across his face.

“Smells delicious!” he exclaimed to the young girl who was stirring a pot over the fire.

“Thanks, Harbrum,” she smiled, wiping her hands on her apron.

Harbrum took in the man sitting at one of the hand-crafted wooden tables. The stranger looked tired, dirty, and in need of a good meal.

“He hasn’t been any trouble?” he asked Magenta quietly while washing his hands in the basin of warm water she’d put out for him.

“No, no,” she assured him, taking a small spoonful of stew from the pot.

He nodded.

“Oh, Buck seems unhappy about something. I’m not sure what though. Refuses to go into the barn, but didn’t want me to come up here either,” Harbrum said almost absently. The good smells were already easing his mind.

Magenta frowned slightly.

“Okay, I’ll be back in a moment,” she said, disappearing through the same door he’d entered.

Harbrum made his way to the table and the man looked over at him.

“Must be the owner of this place,” he said gruffly, surveying the halfling.

“Just the caretaker,” he responded. “Dinner should be ready here shortly. You’ve already got a room for the night, have you?”

“Ay, I do,” he nodded.

Harbrum smiled at the man, and moved back toward the cooking area.

Something about the man was off-putting to him, but he wasn’t certain exactly what.

“I don’t like him,” said a young boy quietly as Harbrum stirred the pot of stew.

Bill, who had just come in from fetching a pail of water from the well, began to pull bowls off one of the shelves for the stew.

Harbrum nodded as the side door opened once more and Magenta reappeared.

“It’s going to rain,” she said, looking at Harbrum and Bill.

“Not tonight,” said Bill shaking his head.

“Put the hay in the barn,” replied Magenta softly, taking a bowl from him and filling it with stew. “Trust me.”

Harbrum sighed and, surveying the guest once more, nodded at Bill to follow him back outside.

Bill frowned, but followed hesitantly.

A small smirk crossed the face of the man at the table as the side door swung shut.

Place this tavern in your game with Tangible Taverns: Gumption.

Available now on DriveThruRPG.

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?

flawed rose

Flawed Foes

Over the last year a bit we have been creating Flawed Foes. These NPCs may once have held great potential, alas, their flaws have created substantial hurdles.

5e NPCs: Flawed Foes cover

They are a fun, but flawed group of NPCs, and they have finally been collected into one of our 5e NPC collections.

You can find Flawed Foes on DriveThruRPG.

If you haven’t checked out the other offerings in this collection yet, what are you waiting for?

5e NPCs: Bullies and Brutes is a 35+ page book dedicated to colourful, unique, and competent NPCs that are (you guess it) bullies and brutes. You can check out Deloris, Human Business Mogul, here.

5e NPCs: Goblins! Goblins! Goblins! features 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. You can meet Eakogs Clutternugget here.

And In Death They Live…

I was recently given the opportunity to contribute to Warlock, an ongoing publication by Kobold Press supported by their Patreons.

The person who reached out was Scott Gable, and I’ve worked with him in the past on this big project he’s been doing… not sure if you’ve heard of it… The Faerie Ring? (If you haven’t, you should check it out.)

At any rate, we’ve been a little behind on our projects here (though we were finally starting to progress on another NPC collection!), and I thought about trying to focus on them and saying no. The thing is I often really enjoy writing for other companies, and I find it to be so different than writing for my own.

So I said yes.

And the writing began.

Fast forward a bit and here we are!

Warlock Undead!

The topic is the Undead, with options including undead magic, a rogue subclass, the Ghoul Imperium Deserter background, some truly skin-crawling planar locales, a legendary villain, and a new PC race. This booklet’s esteemed sections and designers are:

Dry Lands: Plane of Undeath, by Wolfgang Baur

Order of the Ebon Star, by Kelly Pawlik

The Wendestal Devil, by Chris Harris

The Shade: Voices Beyond Death, by Dan Dillon

This 32 page PDF is available on the Kobold Press website, and if you are a Patreon (and why wouldn’t you be?) you probably already have a copy of it, so go check it out and let me know what you think.

Did you love the exploration of the plane of undeath? Are you getting ready to incorporate the darakhul defectors into your next game session? Were you haunted by the backstory of the vampiric monster?

We want to know (and so does Kobold Press, I’m sure, because reviews and feedback are awesome!).

flawed rose

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.

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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.

Tangible Tavern 5e Bundle

5 5e Adventures Ripe For A Tangible Tavern

If you aren’t familiar with our Tangible Taverns line, this series of PDFs is dedicated to bringing life back to the local watering hole while making the GM’s job a little easier.

We help you bring the tavern to life with:

  • Detailed descriptions
  • Rumour and event tables
  • Tavern maps
  • Colourful and unique NPCs
  • Complete stat blocks (for Pathfinder and 5e compatible versions)

All of our taverns are designed to be slotted into just about any adventure, but this week we bring you a few specific 5e RPG adventures that can easily host a Tangible Tavern or two.

If you missed our list of PFRPG adventures ripe for a Tangible Tavern, you can find that here.

Continue reading 5 5e Adventures Ripe For A Tangible Tavern