Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Brachiosaur Artillery Crew

Dominic Matte
In one of the D&D games I'm running, The Long Game, there's a country - Aurum - whose military makes heavy use of the large exotic animals and monsters that exist in a fantasy world. Since it's my game and I do what I want, Aurum's artillery units are armoured brachiosaurs with massive cannons strapped to their sides.

I've been meaning to sketch one of these artillery brachiosaurs for some time, and finally got around to it today. But as I was drawing I started thinking about exactly how these things would work in combat, so I ended up writing stat blocks for the brachiosaur and its crew.
click to embiggen

Monday, 24 March 2014

Gryphon mini

Dominic Matte
Painted this majestic gryphon miniature from my Reaper Bones set the other day. Think it turned out well.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

D&D Next has crappy monster design

Dominic Matte
I had an argument a conversation on reddit today that really helped me solidify what I don't like about
Next / 5e's monster design. In one word, it's boring. It lays the work of building interesting combats solely on the DM when the monster stats should be doing at least half the work. There's some potential, but it's not being used properly.

Let's use black dragons as an example. I'll compare a 4th edition black dragon with a 5th edition dragon. Before I get started, I'll point out that yes, Next is still only in playtest; the point was to get the rules down and then focus on the extras. If monster stats end up being improved, just take this article as an examination of what makes a good monster stat block and what doesn't.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Dynamic Encounters: Monsters Ate My Money

Dominic Matte
Today I ran the first D&D session I've done in months! Hooray! Two of the three encounters were relatively simple compared to what I've been used to planning for The Long Game, but for the third I decided I'd try something different: tying the party's pay directly to their performance in combat.

Here's the setup: rust monsters are attacking the mining camp, and the party is charged with defending 10 stacks of pure steel ingots scattered across the battlefield. For each stack that survives the fight, the party earns 250g - or for those not inclined to simple math, 2500g if they manage to protect every stack. The catch is that the rust monsters can break down an entire stack of ingots with one standard action, so the party needed to control the bugs' movement and burn them down as fast as possible.

As the PCs were surprised by the attack, the first couple of rust monsters managed to consume a couple of piles of ingots in the first round or two. This group of players is pretty strong on damage - despite rusting weapons and the barbarian's loss of his greatspear, they managed to down the beasts pretty quickly. They were a little light on control, though, so despite the warforged fighter blocking access to one group of ingots, the party ended up losing a couple more stacks as the fight went on. They ended the battle with six stacks surviving, and so they earned 1500g as their reward.

Probably the high point of the battle was the heightened tension when a swarm of baby rust monsters latched on to the warforged and started eating away at his steel plating. Fortunately he survived relatively unscathed.

Monday, 10 March 2014

D&D, finally!

Dominic Matte
After a very long time it finally looks like I'll finally be running another D&D game! (The Long Game isn't over, but Dallas is over in France and we've only played one session since then)

A friend asked me if I had any material I could run. I told him it's not a matter of whether I have material, but which of these seven campaigns he'd like to play. I'm pretty excited and eager to get working on a new campaign, but first the group is going to have to pick one. I narrowed the list down to be a better fit for this group - we may not play super regularly, and we may be missing one or two people in any given session, so it'll have to be fairly episodic.

So here are the three options I sent over:



The campaign is set in a single city experiencing a devastating flood. Trapped in the isolated city, you'll have to deal with the immediate consequences - ancient protective seals are washed away, waterlogged magical artifacts malfunction, monsters escape from an exotic zoo, soft ground lets coffins float to the surface and release undead... As time goes on and isolation continues, new gangs, organizations, and cults will form, and people will start to wonder what caused such a huge flood in the first place... 

This campaign focuses on a single city and how it copes with a major disaster, and looks at some unexpected problems that such a disaster might cause in a world full of magic and monsters, as well as the rising pressure of diverse groups trapped in one place.



A prosperous, isolated kingdom is running dangerously short on resources. The king and queen send out a call for adventurers to explore the unseen lands beyond the borders to create maps and claim new resources, with pay based on map accuracy and richness of finds. But not all adventurers are honourable - competition is fierce and rivalries develop quickly. 

This campaign is focused on exploration, discovery, and rivalry. Do you go for the most claims or the best claims? What are you willing to do to secure your discoveries? What happens if someone steals your claim? What if your discovery already belongs to someone?


Over a thousand years ago, the entire continent sank beneath the ocean, and now the former mountain tops are the only solid land. Explorers and pirates make their fortunes rediscovering lost ruins and artifacts, both above water and below. Monsters and storms ravage ships and islands indiscriminately. Cities and small empires are made or broken by naval strength and cannon fire. Fragile alliances are forming for the first time in hundreds of years, and peace may finally be on the horizon... but so might all-out war. 

This campaign features a lot of naval play, including ship-to-ship and underwater combat. Diplomacy is important, but when it fails, so is strength at arms. There's plenty of room for a mix of exploration, politics, and naval warfare.


Once the group decides on a campaign, I'll get to work. I'm excited - haven't worked on D&D in a while, it'll be fun to get back into it.