Languages of Kingdoms of Kalamar: Legacy

One of the best parts of KoK was the language system. Each language was one or two skills (pending how hardcore your game was)–so you bought ranks in it like you’d buy ranks in anything else with the more ranks equaling the more “fluent”. And without a “Common” to take as an option, characters would really have to think about their language selections.  Feats were available to make it easier to pick up more skill points for the purposes of language rank buying.  Parties often spread out their proficiencies to cover more ground and Comprehend Language and Tongues were damn useful for travelling adventurers.

So, in the spirit of 5e’s push for simplicity and effect, we’ve tested out the feel of a variant rule for Languages.

That starts with the new Language Fluency Levels.

Continue reading


Races of Kingdoms of Kalamar: Legacy

So, I’ve discussed my love for Kalamar in a big way–I think its just the best setting ever for D&D even though Kenzer has moved on from WotC.  No doubt their d20 game is great, but as I love 5E D&D and I love Kalamar and I have seen so many great homebrew adaptations of old settings (there’s a great Dark Sun one out there), I have decided to walk through the old campaign setting and players handbooks for Kalamar and update a 5E campaign set of rules for everyone that misses the feel and flow.

Continue reading

Happy Holidays

If I can take a moment, I want to encourage all of you out there–all you DM’s and players that really drive the group you’re in (you know who you are… all of you who bring drinks and snaks, host games, run them, give people rides, etc.)..

Consider, this holiday season, giving the gift of one of the core books to a group of players that could use it or a new DM who wants to get her friend’s involved.  Sometimes, especially for those young D&D fans out there, the $40 you would spend on a few extra luxuries in a month is the $40 they don’t have to spare to play with a lifetime of adventure.

For real.  Hit up some of the places where DM’s and players congregate (reddit, enworld, giantsitp, etc.) and Amazon gift someone a book.

DMs gotta look out for each other…

Beholders – Crazy Alien Deathboxes


-Dark-Lord--Комиксы-854783If you don’t know what beholders are (the basics) you should read up on the Wikipedia article for them or even better the post at Power Score about them. Suffice to say, beholders are alien things from another dimension/reality that are not only an iconic D&D monster from way, way back, but also the feature monster on the cover of the 5e Monster Manual. They’re a signature character, as much a part of D&D as anything at all can possibly be.

Playing or deploying beholders in combat, RP-ing them so they pop and stand out is hard. Playing, say, gnolls or hobgoblins I found easier–as a DM. There’s a logic there that’s primitive for one and pretty classical for the other. Playing orcs or goblins is harder, but its still tribal and makes a “behavior of tribes” sense. Dragons are tricky to get right because they’re so large (in stature, I mean) that unless you go very BIG with the performance, you’re really just playing a mean person in the body of a dragon.

Beholders and aberrations or intelligent monstrosities are hard because they are–entirely–not human, not primate, not terrestrial. They are an alien mind. The Monster Manual tries to reflect this by emphasizing paranoia and arrogance, but I like my beholders to go to truly scary levels of alien. The less predictable, the better. The more the party feels like they cannot reliably relate to whatever a beholder thinks and feels the terror of what they see as irrationality (but is simply an alien rationality) the better.

So, here are my tips for playing beholders:

Continue reading

What’s Coming Up At MSD

Good morning, everybody… leading into Christmas and the New Year, we’re back and posting. And, while we have you, we want to showcase what our next few months of update are going to be (primarily).

Our three post-series right now are:

trapTraps to Worry Your Players, where we try and put together traps and traplike 

situations that go a little beyond “pit in the ground”. These can be a little wordy (as good, surprising traps require knowing the pre-conditions, effects, resolutions, post-conditions, etc.) and include the narrative and historical flair we attach to literally everything here at MSD. We want you to look at them and find one that speaks to you or feels like a natural compliment to your campaign and part of that is a taste of why such a thing would exist and what kind of origins or purposes it might have had in our own homebrew-esque “setting”. While many homebrew sources lean on just mechanics, we want you to feel like you understand the trap’s meaning as well. Continue reading