Thursday, February 26, 2015

Fifth Edition Foes: Monster List

In response to Calvin's request, here's the list of monsters in Fifth Edition Foes. Alternatively, you can grab this two-page PDF of Appendix A, which lists all the monsters by type and CR.
  1. Aaztar-Ghola
  2. Adherer
  3. Aerial Servant
  4. Algoid
  5. Amphoron of Yothri: Worker
  6. Amphoron of Yothri: Warrior
  7. Amphoron of Yothri: Juggernaut
  8. Ant Lion
  9. Ape, Flying
  10. Aranea
  11. Arcanoplasm
  12. Artificer of Yothri
  13. Ascomoid
  14. Assassin Bug
  15. Astral Moth
  16. Astral Shark
  17. Aurumvorax
  18. Basilisk, Crimson
  19. Basilisk, Greater
  20. Bat: Doombat
  21. Beetle, Giant Rhinoceros
  22. Beetle, Giant Slicer
  23. Beetle, Giant Water
  24. Biclops
  25. Blood Hawk
  26. Blood Orchid
  27. Blood Orchid Savant
  28. Blood Orchid Grand Savant
  29. Bloodsuckle
  30. Bloody Bones
  31. Boalisk
  32. Bone Cobbler
  33. Boneneedle, Greater
  34. Boneneedle, Lesser
  35. Bonesucker
  36. Borsin
  37. Brass Man
  38. Brume
  39. Burning Dervish
  40. Cadaver
  41. Cadaver Lord
  42. Carbuncle
  43. Caryatid Column
  44. Cat, Feral Undead
  45. Caterprism
  46. Catfish, Giant Electric
  47. Catoblepas
  48. Cave Cricket
  49. Cave Eel
  50. Cave Fisher
  51. Cave Leech
  52. Centipede Nest
  53. Cerebral Stalker
  54. Chain Worm
  55. Chaos Knight
  56. Chupacabra
  57. Church Grim
  58. Churr
  59. Cimota
  60. Cimota Guardian
  61. Cimota, High
  62. Clam, Giant
  63. Clamor
  64. Cobra Flower
  65. Coffer Corpse
  66. Cooshee
  67. Corpse Rook
  68. Corpsespinner
  69. Corpsespun
  70. Crabman
  71. Crayfish, Monstrous
  72. Crimson Death
  73. Crypt Thing
  74. Dagon
  75. Dark Creeper
  76. Dark Stalker
  77. Darnoc
  78. Death Dog
  79. Death Worm
  80. Decapus
  81. Demon Prince: Teratashia
  82. Demon Prince: Thalasskpotis
  83. Demonic Knight
  84. Denizen of Leng
  85. Dire Corby
  86. Dracolisk
  87. Drake, Fire
  88. Drake, Ice
  89. Dust Digger
  90. Eblis
  91. Ectoplasm
  92. Eel, Giant Moray
  93. Eel, Gulper
  94. Elusa Hound
  95. Encephalon Gorger
  96. Exoskeleton: Giant Ant
  97. Exoskeleton: Giant Beetle
  98. Exoskeleton: Giant Crab
  99. Fear Guard
  100. Fen Witch
  101. Fetch
  102. Fire Crab, Greater
  103. Fire Crab, Lesser
  104. Fire Snake
  105. Flail Snail
  106. Flowershroud
  107. Foo Dog
  108. Forester's Bane
  109. Froghemoth
  110. Fungoid
  111. Fungus Bat
  112. Fyr
  113. Gallows Tree
  114. Gallows Tree Zombie
  115. Gargoyle: Four-Armed
  116. Gargoyle, Fungus
  117. Gargoyle, Green Guardian
  118. Gargoyle: Margoyle
  119. Genie: Hawanar
  120. Ghost-Ammonite
  121. Giant Slug of P'nakh
  122. Giant, Jack-in-Irons
  123. Gillmonkey
  124. Gloom Crawler
  125. Gnarlwood
  126. Gohl (Hydra Cloud)
  127. Golden Cat
  128. Golem, Flagstone
  129. Golem, Furnace
  130. Golem, Stone Guardian
  131. Golem, Wooden
  132. Gorbel
  133. Gorgimera
  134. Gorilla Bear
  135. Green Brain
  136. Gray Nisp
  137. Grimm
  138. Gripple
  139. Grue, Type 1
  140. Grue, Type 2
  141. Hanged Man
  142. Hangman Tree
  143. Hawktoad
  144. Helix Moth
  145. Hieroglyphicroc
  146. Hippocampus
  147. Hoar Fox
  148. Horsefly, Giant
  149. Huggermugger
  150. Igniguana
  151. Jackal of Darkness
  152. Jaculi
  153. Jelly, Mustard
  154. Jupiter Bloodsucker
  155. Kamadan
  156. Kampfult
  157. Kech
  158. Kelp Devil
  159. Kelpie
  160. Khargra
  161. Korred
  162. Kurok-spirit
  163. Land Lamprey
  164. Lava Child
  165. Leng Spider
  166. Leopard, Snow
  167. Leucrotta, Adult
  168. Leucrotta, Young
  169. Lithonnite
  170. Magmoid
  171. Mandragora
  172. Mandrill
  173. Mantari
  174. Midnight Peddler
  175. Mite
  176. Mite, Pestie
  177. Mummy of the Deep
  178. Murder Crow
  179. Naga: Hanu-naga
  180. Olive Slime
  181. Olive Slime Zombie
  182. Ooze, Glacial
  183. Ooze, Magma
  184. Origami Warrior
  185. Pech
  186. Phycomid
  187. Pleistocene Animals: Brontotherium
  188. Pleistocene Animals: Hyaenodon
  189. Pleistocene Animals: Mastodon
  190. Pleistocene Animals: Woolly Rhinoceros
  191. Pudding, Blood
  192. Pyrolisk
  193. Quadricorn
  194. Quickwood
  195. Rat, Shadow
  196. Red Jester
  197. Ronus
  198. Russet Mold
  199. Ryven
  200. Sandling
  201. Screaming Devilkin
  202. Scythe Tree
  203. Sea Serpent, Brine
  204. Sea Serpent, Deep Hunter
  205. Sea Serpent, Fanged
  206. Sea Serpent, Shipbreaker
  207. Sea Serpent, Spitting
  208. Seahorse, Giant
  209. Sepulchral Guardian
  210. Shadow Mastiff
  211. Shadow, Lesser
  212. Shroom
  213. Skeleton Warrior
  214. Skeleton, Stygian
  215. Skelzi
  216. Skulk
  217. Slithering Tracker
  218. Soul Reaper
  219. Stegocentipede
  220. Strangle Weed
  221. Tabaxi
  222. Taer
  223. Tangtal
  224. Tazelwurm
  225. Temporal Crawler
  226. Tendriculos
  227. Tentacled Horror
  228. Therianthrope: Foxwere
  229. Therianthrope: Lionwere
  230. Therianthrope: Owlwere
  231. Therianthrope: Wolfwere
  232. Treant, Lightning
  233. Tri-flower Frond
  234. Triton, Dark
  235. Troll, Spectral
  236. Troll, Two-headed
  237. Tunnel Prawn
  238. Tunnel Worm
  239. Vampire Rose
  240. Vegepygmy Commoner, Worker
  241. Vegepygmy Guard
  242. Vegepygmy Chief
  243. Volt
  244. Vorin
  245. Vulchling
  246. Lava Weird
  247. Were-mist
  248. Weredactyl
  249. Widow Creeper
  250. Witch Grass
  251. Witherstench
  252. Yellow Musk Creeper
  253. Yellow Musk Zombie
  254. Zombie Raven
Steve

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Fifth Edition Foes: The Bone Cobbler

Now that PDFs of the Necromancer Games 5E books are rolling out, I finally have time to write some of the previews that should have been done, oh, four months ago while the Kickstarter was still running. Reviews of Fifth Edition Foes have been very positive, and let me tell you, it's great to hear strong reviews after so many months of work.

Offered here is one monster from 5EF that illustrates some of our approach. I won't say the bone cobbler typifies the book, because no single entry can be "typical" of a book containing 252 monsters. It's an example of how we went for monsters with strong story implications and with the potential to become far more dangerous than their raw numbers imply, in the hands of a GM who respects those story angles.

The bone cobbler doesn't belong on anyone's random encounters table. This is a creature that deserves to have an entire short adventure, or at least a detailed lair encounter, devised around it. Animate Bones is a great cinematic ability, and Bonestripping should put fear in the heart of every low-level adeventurer. If this thing gets you alone for four minutes, you aren't just dead; you're gone beyond hope of recovery by much of anything short of divine intervention. A GM who uses a bone cobbler needs to construct its lair like the set of a black-and-white gothic horror film, with plenty of secret doors that victims can be pulled through after all their companions have marched past, or trap doors that open silently under the last person in line and drop them into the bone cobbler's lair, where they're finished off by horrific skeletal abominations. The victim's friends have three minutes to recover the body, which is a tall order considering they probably don't know where it is and might not even know that the person is missing, if the GM did things correctly!

In other words, the bone cobbler is a ready-made Jeepers Creepers horror-movie villain waiting to be sprung on characters.

Just as important, however, is the fact that Fifth Edition Foes doesn't explain all of that for you. You might think that's because of space restrictions in the book, or is just laziness on our part, but in fact, we prefer to leave things like that unstated. Why? Because it's more fun for GMs to figure out for themselves. We believe GMs enjoy thinking about these sorts of things; why else would they be GMs? A book that does all the readers' thinking for them robs them of all those delicious "aha!" moments. Possibly worse, it assumes that our creativity is better than yours, and that's beyond deflating, it's an insult.

So that's a brief introduction to some of the philosophy underpinning Fifth Edition Foes. If you didn't get in on the Kickstarter, you can still buy the book in hardcover + PDF or just PDF through the Frog God Games website. The book has quite a few reviews at ENWorld and also has an extensive discussion thread there, and Sobran ran a multipart look at the book and some of our CR assignments on his Fantastic Frontier blog.

In coming days, I'll look at more of the monsters I found most interesting in 5EF, plus Quests of Doom and Lost Spells, of course!

Steve

Friday, February 20, 2015

Howling Tower Returns to Kobold Press

Hey, I'm back at Kobold Press. Today's post was the first of six aimed at players.

Welcome to the end of the Howling Tower hiatus—thanks for coming! The Tower has been silent for too long. During the past year, I’ve been so occupied with huge writing projects that no time or energy was left over for small ones. Lots of good things came out of the past year — Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat for Kobold Press, and a trio of Fifth Edition books published by Necromancer Games: Fifth Edition Foes, Lost Spells, and Quests of Doom. But now that those massive projects are wrapped up, the light is flickering again atop the creepy tower at the dismal end of the valley, and eerie wailing can be heard wafting through the pre-dawn mist again.

This six-part series of columns will be aimed squarely at RPG players instead of GMs. Gamemasters have reams of material to peruse when they want advice on how to do their jobs better, but the pickings can be slim where players are concerned. The goal is to help readers develop better roleplaying habits and attitudes so they can get the most enjoyment from their time around the game table.

Just because the advice is aimed at the players’ side of the screen doesn’t mean GMs should look away. They’re sure to find some useful tidbits here, too. You can’t be a good GM without understanding where your players are coming from.

Most of what we’ll cover can be summed up succinctly in two words: embrace immersion. The more you suspend disbelief and think like a character instead of like a player, the richer your experience becomes. That little gem of an idea has many facets to explore.


Read the rest at KoboldPress.com.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fifth Edition Foes is Available (in PDF)

It took longer than we wanted, but the first of the Necromancer Games books for Fifth Edition is ready -- Fifth Edition Foes, with 250 more monsters to challenge adventurers.

If you didn't get in on the Kickstarter action, you can still order the book directly through the Frog God Games website. If you want a printed copy, I highly recommend pre-ordering, because the print run will be very close to the pre-order number. If you don't pre-order, there's a strong chance the printed copies will sell out before you get one.

Steve

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Rise of Tiamat: A DM’s and Player’s Overview

I have a new installment of "Tiamat Tuesday" over at Kobold Press, discussing the differences between Hoard of the Dragon Queen and the upcoming sequel, The Rise of Tiamat. Here's a taste:

Ideally, players and Dungeon Masters (DMs) who sit down to tackle The Rise of Tiamat will already have played Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Rise is a continuation of Hoard’s story about the Cult of the Dragon, but they are very different adventures in style.

Hoard of the Dragon Queen is a big, sprawling adventure that spreads across hundreds of miles of territory and encompasses several distinct styles of play, from the short commando missions of “Greenest in Flames” to the dungeon crawl of “Dragon Hatchery” to the extended road trip of “On the Road” to the open-ended investigation of “Castle Naerytar.” But running through all that variety and tying it together is a unity of theme—the paired ideas that no one outside the Cult of the Dragon yet understands the full extent of the cult’s plot, and that the player characters, being brave but largely unknown, are good candidates to investigate and find out what’s up.

By the time The Rise of Tiamat kicks off, that situation is reversed. Through the player characters’ investigation and the cult’s own actions, the truth about Rezmir’s plans for the Sword Coast is revealed and the adventurers become famous heroes with well-known reputations. Those two changes lead to a noticeably different structure and tone in The Rise of Tiamat.

Read the rest of the article at KoboldPress.com.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Necromancer Games

I've been terribly remiss in not promoting this project here at the Howling Tower, but it's not too late yet. I've been working with the great crew of Necromancer Games (essentially the same team that's behind Frog God Games) on a Kickstarter project for three 5th Edition support books: Fifth Edition Foes, The Book of Lost Spells, and Quests of Doom. Rather than me telling you about it here, I urge you to check out the Kickstarter page itself. The campaign has less than three days to go, so if you want in, now's the time to jump.

These three books are what's been eating all my time since wrapping up work on the Tyranny of Dragons set of adventures for Wizards of the Coast. Converting monsters and spells to the new system has presented a chance to really delve into the design of 5E and see what makes the system tick.

I can't guarantee that every monster and spell in these books will be structured exactly the way the design team at Wizards would do it -- but that's largely the point. The PHB is already filled with spells designed the Wizards way, and the Monster Manual will be filled with great monsters by the same team. I know those guys, they're my friends, and I have nothing but respect for their work. Everything they've done for 5E is top notch.

The Necromancer approach is slightly different, especially where monsters are concerned. The project's slogan -- "Fifth Edition Rules, First Edition Feel" -- does a good job of summing that up. Read the Kickstarter page and check out some of the online previews for more info.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Finally, A New Post

I'm horrified to see that I haven't howled from the tower since January 27. I believe that I have a decent excuse, though. I've been sequestered while writing the premier 5th Edition D&D adventures -- Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat, collectively titled Tyranny of Dragons -- along with Wolfgang Baur and Alexander Winter. Until recently, we weren't allowed to talk about what we were doing. Even if we had been, every word I wrote for the last many months went into those adventures. Writing for other purposes, like blogging, could only endanger the deadlines, so everything else got shelved.

But now the adventures are written and I can move on to other things. I still don't have much time for personal writing -- more on that to come -- but at last I can talk about Tyranny of Dragons.

And I have, over at KoboldPress.com, in some of the Tiamat Tuesday postings. My entries are "Maintaining Focus," "Tiers of Tiamat," "Closing In On the Cult," and "So You're Running Tyranny of Dragons." Wolfgang, Marc Radle, and Guido Kuip also chime in with essays about the Cult of the Dragon and about the illustrations and maps in the adventures. If you're looking for direction on what to expect from Tyranny of Dragons, Tiamat Tuesday is the best place to start.

In other news, I'm headed to GenCon again this year, for the first time in . . . wow, it must be over 10 years. I attended a few of the early Indianapolis GenCons, but I stopped going after the year when I spent nearly the entire show sealed away in a side room playing Terrible Swift Sword with a group of fellow TSR alumni. We had a great time, but we realized that we didn't need to travel to Indianapolis, stay in dreary hotels, and struggle against constant crowds to play TSS for four days. We could have just as easily spent a long weekend at someone's house in Wisconsin or Washington, where we'd have been more comfortable and saved a bunch of money. I never went back after that year.

But here it is 2014, there's a fantastic new edition of D&D, and I have the honor of coauthoring the premier adventure for it. I'll be spending much of my time in the Kobold Press booth, discussing Tyranny of Dragons (and 5E) with anyone who's interested and signing copies for anyone who wants theirs besmudged with my scribble. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by and chat.

I'll also be sitting on a seminar panel: either "When the Kobolds Met Tiamat" at noon on Friday, or "Storytelling in the Realms" at 4 p.m. on Friday. I suspect it will be the first of those, or maybe it will be both, but I won't know for sure until I get to the convention. I'll also be interviewed on the official Gencon podcast at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. Listen live if you want to hear all the scatology that will be bleeped out in the download version.

Finally, with Tyranny of Dragons put to bed, I'm now devoting my 12-hour days to Necromancer Games's 5E Kickstarter. But that's a topic for after Gencon. I hope to see plenty of you in Indianapolis.