Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Phlegethon, a new monster for Swords & Wizardry

My first attempt at creating a new monster for my home campaign. I've included statistics for using this beast in Swords & Wizardry, but it could easily be ported to Dungeons & Dragons or any other fantasy RPG.

Presenting the Phlegethon, a half minotaur/half gorgon monster.

Phlegethons are an unholy union of a Minotaur and a Gorgon. First created by Baphomet, they were seen as a failure in eyes of the demonic lord of Minotaurs due to their supremely lawful nature. He cast them out of his realm and forbid any of his children to associate with them. The Phlegethons eventually found a new home in overseeing the centuars who guard the boiling hot river of blood known as the Flegetonte as it flows through the Abyss and Avernus, the first layer of the Nine Hells. The Phlegethons and their centaurs keep the tormented souls submersed in the boiling hot blood as punishment for the evil deeds they committed in life. Phlegethons are often summoned by powerful wizards to use as guardians, as their bellicose nature is only offset by their strict adherence to law & order. The boiling hot blood from the river Flegetonte courses throughout the body of each Phlegethon. They frequently spew forth the blood during battle, as the vile liquid bursts into white hot flames when exposed to air of the Prime Material plane.

HD: 10
AC: 2 (18)
Attacks: Head Butt (2d4), 1 Kick (1d6), 1 Weapon (1d8), Breath weapon (Flaming Blood - 2d8)
Move: 12
Save: 7
CL/XP: 12/2000

Feel free to use this monster in your own games or campaign, but not to republish without permission.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The whole really is just the sum of the parts

Real life has had me swamped as of late, but during all of my "busyness" I've been giving more thought to what Dungeons & Dragons distills down to for most gamers.  In this post I want to share some thoughts about how we approach the various parts of a character sheet & how we use them.

My Wednesday night game is currently filled with players who are all but new to the game, so I'm having a lot of fun experimenting with them as we build their characters & our campaign. Character creation has been expanded from a one time task during the first gaming session to something that builds over successive sessions. For my group, ability scores were rolled in the second session, hit points were established during the third session and tonight during the fourth session the players will be presented with a challenge that will help them determine the alignment of their characters.

One of my players had concerns about this approach, in that he was used to the AD&D method of character creation. He asked how complex our character sheets might become, and I told him the answer to that question was up to the group. He was a bit puzzled by this, so I explained that I want their character sheets to be composed of features that they will not only use during an adventure but have a working knowledge of. I want to avoid the paradigm of having a player roll for an ability that is written on their sheet & never used. I also want them to have a working understanding of what those abilities are before they are determined, whether it be by die roll or by player choice. Most importantly, I want them to fully understand each part of that character sheet as being a building block that helps make their character into who they are, rather than the character being seen as a whole entity first then broken down later.

By dissecting the various components of a Dungeons & Dragons character, I'm hoping the players will have a better understanding of what their characters are composed of. In every edition of D&D, there have always been parts of the character sheet that see more use than others. One of the challenges of earlier editions was to take those lesser used parts and find ways to creatively use them throughout adventures. I hope to not only help recreate that in my game, but to recreate it in a new way that breaks down what many consider to be a "sacred cow" of the game - Character creation first, adventuring second.