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5 Questions Every Bard Should Be Able to Answer

“Why did you think going into the dungeon and singing at the monsters was a good idea?” Let’s just agree that the idea of going into a deadly location armed with a tune is silly concept, at least at first glance. Yet, no one will hear of the hero’s exploits unless someone that is skilled at retelling the tale of heroic is there to witness them. In so doing, they have to know how to stand their ground and meet dangers head on. So it makes sense that they would use what they are best at to full effect.

To help you flesh out your character, we have 5 questions for you that you, as the player of the bard should be able to answer through your character’s eyes. If you prefer to play a fighter, cleric, or monk, we have 5 questions for them as well. So lets begin.

1) How Long Have You Been Training?

Anyone can move to music. Anyone can pick up an instrument, blow on it or pluck a string, and make noise. Anyone read words on a page while changing pitch. These, however, are not the product of years of training, dedication, and long hard work. That is what you have done. Day in and day out you played your lute until it comes to you as easily as breathing. You strengthening certain muscles while hammering your dulcimer, carrying your tuba, lifting your trombone again, and again, and again. Imagine what it was like, being a child on stage performing your dance routine and years later still performing. Not only are you good, you are captivating, enthralling, mesmerizing, inspiring. Your performances are quite literally magical. What were those long days like? Did you enjoy them or were they downright torture? This is actually the perfect intro to the next question…

2) Why Did You Start Training and Keep Training?

First off, why did you start? Did it seem like fun? Did you try it out and liked it? Were you forced by your parents for some village or clan festival? Trying it is one thing; continuing it is another. Children are notorious for trying something and stopping the moment it gets hard. So why did you stick to it? Did you tell your parents you wanted the instrument, they got it for you, you were unhappy when it got hard and your parents made you continue after they spent the money for it? Did they tell you how proud they were of you for doing so? Were you determined to earn someone’s approval by playing hard? Were you trying to emulate the local performer? What made you keep going when it was hard?

3) How Did You Learn a Bit of Everything?

Bards may not be experts in any one area, but they are darn good at just about everything. They may not be front line fighters but they know how to use a number of weapons well. They may not have the spell breadth of a wizard, but they do have a solid number of spells. Their skill selection is diverse. How are you so well educated, so much of a jack of all trades? Did you get sent to college or did you go to the school of hard knocks? Was far more expected of you than most others or were you naturally gifted at learning anything you were shown once. How are you so good at everything?

4) What Drives You To Be Better?

While this answer should always be, “To be better than I was yesterday,” what fun is there in that? If anything this is a great end point for your character—coming to a point where you are in competition with no one but yourself—but not a good starting point. This is a point of professional conflict with your character. Are you trying to be better than someone you consider your equal, that started around the same time as you, but got all the recognition that you feel you deserve? Perhaps you want to be just like your hero, the one person that got you into performing in the first place. Maybe you have this idealized version of yourself and you are forever striving for it but never attaining it. Over the course of the campaign, you should come to terms that you are only in competition with yourself, and talk to your GM about wanting to explore this in the campaign. Maybe your rival or hero can play a part in the campaign and your character can find a kind of peace when they finally see the truth of the situation. This will make your character engaging long after the campaign is over.

5) What “epicness” does your current group of companions present?

If you are going to tell the tale, sing the songs, perform the scene of the exploits of your character and their adventures, their deeds should be worthy of tales, songs, and plays. Maybe they haven’t done anything yet, but you see the spark inside them. What is it that makes you believe in them, and how does being with them make you believe in yourself more?

Sharem is our signature transman samsaran bard. He remembers himself playing instruments and telling tales in previous incarnations and started playing to connect with his former lives. That is what kept him practicing year after year growing up. Today he is more of an actor than a musician. He makes his performances showy, using his whip whenever possible to swing over the audience. He uses similar showmanship when in the dungeon as well. By keeping the monsters’ attention on himself, his companions can take them down with ease.

Sharem and his fellow adventurers are on the cover of the adventure Deadly Delves: The Gilded Gauntlet. Download this Pathfinder book today using coupon code “holiday2017” to get 30% off this and everything else at the JBE Shop now through January 31, 2018.

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5e: Snapping Skulls Trap

For today’s weekly monster, we’re not showing off another monster but a trap. Traps are a apart of the tradition of D&D and, while different than monsters, should very much apart of D&D encounters. These help keep players on their toes and make a regular fight with monsters that much more dangerous if the floor beneath their feet opens up and you effectively lose one of your team for the combat.

Traps don’t have be as simple as a pit with spikes in the bottom. They can be as complex as some of the encounters in The Goonies. In truth, the kids in that movie encountered only traps, except for the three bad guys. Traps can be highly entertaining and downright fun when done right.

Today we are sharing with you a trap from the recently released Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin adventure. We hope it finds a good home in your game.

Snapping Skulls Trap

Magic trap
This trap is activated when any non-dragon, non-lizardfolk, or non-kobold living being enters the northern hallway of Floor B. The skulls set in the walls of the hallway begin to chitter and snap, and their empty eye sockets glow with a sinister red light as they stretch forth from the cracked mortar to gnaw at passersby. Every round that a living being meeting the above criteria remains in the hall, they must succeed at a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw on initiative count 20 or take 11 (2d10) piercing damage and 11 (2d10) necrotic damage. (Note that because a successful save does not halve this damage, the Evasion feature does not affect the amount of damage dealt for any creatures who possess that ability).
A spell or other effect that can sense the presence of magic, such as detect magic, reveals an aura of necromancy emanating from the hallway.
The snapping skulls trap can only be disarmed by purifying the cursed fountain in the northeastern chamber of Area B2. A successful DC 18 Intelligence (Arcana or Religion) check is required to identify the ritual herbs needed to purify the fountain, which can be found in Area B3. Once the components have been identified and collected, completing the ritual takes 10 minutes, but requires no further checks to perform successfully.

Download Deadly Delves: Reign of Ruin at JonBrazer.com to get more traps for your Fifth Edition game.

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5e: Conjure Fey

Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1 (5e)

Today we come to the final conjure spell. Previously, we discussed conjure animals, conjure celestial, conjure minor elementals, conjure woodland beings, and conjure elemental. As always, let’s read the spell’s text:

Conjure Fey

6th-level conjuration

Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: 90 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour

You summon a fey creature of challenge rating 6 or lower, or a fey spirit that takes the form of a beast of challenge rating 6 or lower. It appears in an unoccupied space that you can see within range. The fey creature disappears when it drops to 0 hit points or when the spell ends.

The fey creature is friendly to you and your companions for the duration. Roll initiative for the creature, which has its own turns. It obeys any verbal commands that you issue to it (no action required by you), as long as they don’t violate its alignment. If you don’t issue any commands to the fey creature, it defends itself from hostile creatures but otherwise takes no actions.

If your concentration is broken, the fey creature doesn’t disappear. Instead, you lose control of the fey creature, it becomes hostile toward you and your companions, and it might attack. An uncontrolled fey creature can’t be dismissed by you, and it disappears 1 hour after you summoned it.

The GM has the fey creature’s statistics.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 7th level or higher, the challenge rating increases by 1 for each slot level above 6th.

This spell is quite similar to conjure elemental except it requires a higher level to cast, but it also brings a higher level creature to the table. In fact, it brings a of equal CR to one you could call upon with the conjure elemental spell if cast at the same level. This stands in sharp contrast with conjure celestial in that it uses a high spell slot that this spell requires but conjures a lower level creature.

Enough analysis of the spell itself, how about the creatures that can be summoned? Well, everything that you can bring to the table with conjure woodland beings as well as conjure animals plus:

6th-level: Ankylosaurus (dinosaur), triceratops (dinosaur), green hag, night hag, giant crocodile, giant scorpion, giant shark, killer whale, mammoth
7th-level: Giant ape
8th-level: Tyrannosaurus rex (dinosaur)
9th-level: —

I will admit that when I was preparing the list of conjurable creatures for this list, I missed that it allowed beasts as well. So my original list of creatures was just the green hag and the night hag. I couldn’t believe that the list was this short so I went back and read it again and discovered that it allowed beasts as well. That different saved the spell. It goes from 2 summomable creatures to 11. Just like conjure elemental, you do not have any creatures you can summon using a 9th-level spell slot, but at least your hero has 7th- and 8th-level options with this spell.

Speaking of your hero, choose an exciting races for your character today. Download the Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1 at the JonBrazer Shop now.

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5e: Conjure Woodland Beings

Deadly Delves: Doom of the Sky Sword (5e)

Now that we’ve covered the lowest level conjuring spells for the three classes that can summon assistance. First we covered conjure animals. Then we skipped to the highest level conjure spell: conjure celestial. Last week we talked conjure elemental. Today we talk the next logical step up from conjure animals: conjure woodland beings. First let’s take a look at the spell itself.

Conjure Woodland Beings

4th-level conjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (one holly berry per creature summoned)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour

You summon fey creatures that appear in unoccupied spaces that you can see within range. Choose one of the following options for what appears:

  • One fey creature of challenge rating 2 or lower
  • Two fey creatures of challenge rating 1 or lower
  • Four fey creatures of challenge rating 1/2 or lower
  • Eight fey creatures of challenge rating 1/4 or lower

A summoned creature disappears when it drops to 0 hit points or when the spell ends.

The summoned creatures are friendly to you and your companions. Roll initiative for the summoned creatures as a group, which have their own turns. They obey any verbal commands that you issue to them (no action required by you). If you don’t issue any commands to them, they defend themselves from hostile creatures, but otherwise take no actions. The GM has the creatures’ statistics.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using certain higher-level spell slots, you choose one of the summoning options above, and more creatures appear: twice as many with a 6th-level slot and three times as many with an 8th-level slot.

So what precisely can you conjure with this spell? Well, from the MM, you can summon:
CR 2: Sea hag
CR 1: Dryad
CR 1/2: Pixie, satyr
CR 1/4: Sprite, blink dog

Like conjure celestial, the list of creatures to magically bring to the table is remarkably thin. Even then, a sea hag is going to not be a desirable creature to be summoned many players, it being chaotic evil.

That means that this spell has much needed room for expansion as far as creatures to conjure. Be sure to come back to JonBrazer.com every Wednesday for new monsters, some you can conjure with spells like conjure woodland beings or the other spells we are covering in this series. Support our efforts to cover spells like this and other exciting articles by downloading Deadly Delves: Doom of the Sky Sword for your Fifth Edition game today at JonBrazer.com.

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5e: What Levels Need More Adventures?

Deadly Delves: Rescue from Tyrkaven (5e)

I’ve asked this before for Pathfinder. Now that we are trying to ramp up our 5e production, it is a solid idea to find out what levels of adventures you would like to see. I know many would like to say, “All levels,” but we do not have the resources to do adventures for levels 1 and 20 at the same time. Where do you feel we should we focus our energy. Share your thoughts with us and share this poll with your friends today.

What Level in 5e Need More Adventures?

View Results

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Download all our Deadly Delves adventures for 5e today at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store.

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5e Adventures for Conventions

Deadly Delves: Rescue from Tyrkaven (5e)

If you are running a Fifth Edition game at a convention this fall, you could run an adventure from the official living game that is designed for the players to “win” or you could run an adventure built for fun with intrigue in mind, like ours are. Three of our Deadly Delve adventures are both short enough for a convention game and provide a different experience than anything in the official living campaign does.

Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider – Level 1

Giant spiders have overrun Mossdale, and every last villager is either dead and dessicated, or cocooned and abducted. But what were they after, and who coordinated the vermin to attack en masse? Could it have been the local ettercap or a crazed arachnophile druid… or was something far more sinister behind the attack? Can the adventurers rescue the missing citizens and foil the plans of the nefarious mind behind this dastardly deed before it is too late?

Deadly Delves: Doom of the Sky Sword – Level 1

Following the disappearance of personnel at a lumber camp, a mysterious sword drops from the sky, cleaving the very earth to deliver a pronouncement of doom upon all who refuse to leave the logging site. Can the adventurers ferret out the source of this ominous portent and put a stop to it before it wreaks further havoc on the loggers?

Deadly Delves: Rescue from Tyrkaven – Level 2

When hobgoblin raiders kidnap a caravan full of workers and supplies, the adventurers set off to get them all back. But neither the raiders nor the adventurers know what terrifying horrors await them in the depths of their cavern hideout. Now, the adventurers must risk it all to prevent the minions of an ancient enemy from visiting death and destruction upon the land. Can the heroes rescue the captives from the hobgoblins and deliver them from this ancient foe—or will they all perish, ushering in the rise of a forgotten deity?

Check out all of our Fifth Edition products at the Jon Brazer Enterprises Shop, DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store.

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The JBE Shop Is Now Open

Jon Brazer Enterprises now has our own online shop. You can download our PDFs direct from us, helping us make the amazing RPG books you know and love. When you download a PDF from us, you will always have access to the latest version should it ever be updated. 

Right now you can get many of our Pathfinder and 5e titles. We will be adding our 13th Age and Traveller titles soon.

From now through September 15th, you can get 25% off your first order with coupon code OpenStore25

Order your books from the Jon Brazer Shop today.

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Pathfinder/5e: Lands of Eternal Chaos and Destruction

I know that last time I posted a blog post on my own vision of the planes for Pathfinder and 5e, I promised the chaotic neutral plane. Well, after thinking on my vision more, I realized that it was not Chaotic Neutral at all but Chaotic Evil. Since I am still trying to put my ideas for CN into focus, I will go ahead and share with you my idea for the Chaotic Evil plane, or as I like to think of it, the Lands of Eternal Chaos and Destruction.

Before I begin, I want to reiterate why I am doing this (incase you missed it on my various social media posts). Angels and devils and demons are a solid class imagery of good and evil … that I hate using. First off, they are ripped from a Judo-christian tradition. While there is nothing wrong with taking from real world mythology and putting it into your game, I do not feel it right to set one religion apart and say that religion feels are symbols of pure good and evil should be a fantasy world’s symbols for pure good and evil. So I want to change them into something that would be both unique and understandable to those in our own reality today, those 1,000 years ago, all the while still making sense inside of a fantasy setting. All that said, here we go.

There is a quote I absolutely love from the TV Show MASH.

War is war. Hell is hell. Of the two, war is worse. … In hell there are no innocent bystanders. Everyone there deserves to be there.

And this, more than anything else is my guiding light for my vision of the plane of chaotic evil. This plane should be a war-torn hellscape. Imagine the images out of Syria. That is this land of unreason. Constant fighting. Constant warfare. The element of fire’s forces are burning down the fey forests who are in turn fighting the air force’s sail barges, who are … you get the idea. Through it all are the mercenaries. These creatures of pure evil with no regard of loyalty or order care not for what they destroy as long as they get to destroy something. They join one side and help them for however long they are paid to do so and once they are done will gladly fight against their former employers if paid by someone else.

What is worse, this is where the worst weapons are first created. A people so obsessed with warfare are always looking for an edge over those they fight against. Military people that become consumed with the thought of destroying their enemies will be more than happily make whatever bargain the mercenaries are asking for, no matter how perverted, cruel, or conniving if it means they get a hold of the means for triumph.

Be sure to revisit JonBrazer.com frequently to see the next in our series of reimagining the outer planes. Next time we will do one of the good ones.

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5e: The Lizardfolk Race

Lizardfolk are one of the most misunderstood races in the world, reviled by other humanoid societies for their practice of cannibalism, their frequent alliances with or subjugation by evil dragons, and their tendency to war over border encroachments and environmental exploitation.
Despite the misunderstandings of outsiders about this race of people, lizardfolk occupy and protect ecological niches which benefit the world at large. When treated fairly and given the means to peaceably integrate with other humanoid societies, they become valued allies and powerful members of standing multicultural armies.

Lizardfolk Racial Traits

Lizardfolk have the following racial traits.
Ability Score Increase. Lizardfolk are used to harsh environments and being exposed to adversity. Your Constitution score increases by 2.
Age. Lizardfolk mature more quickly than most humans, reaching adulthood around age 14. They age rapidly as well, seldom reaching 80 years of age.
Alignment. Most lizardfolk are neutral due to their deep connection with nature.
Size. Lizardfolk tend to be a little taller than humans, standing between 6 and 7 feet tall. You are Medium size.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Lizardfolk Combat Training. You have proficiency with the blowgun, handaxe, javelin, and maul.
Languages. You can read, write, and speak Common and Draconic.
Subrace. The two most common types of lizardfolk are the dragonsired and swampkin. Choose one of these subraces.

Dragonsired Lizardfolk

Dragonsired lizardfolk carry a touch of their draconic ancestry within them.
Ability Score Increase. Dragonsired lizardfolk exude a dragon’s confidence and power. Increase your Charisma score by 1.
Damage Resistance. You gain advantage on saving throws against damage of of a type chosen from the following: acid, cold, fire, lightning, or poison. You also have resistance to that same type of damage.
Draconic Cantrip. You know one cantrip of your choice from the sorcerer spell list. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for it.

Swampkin Lizardfolk

Born to the marsh, a swampkin lizardfolk is at home in places others would forever avoid.
Ability Score Increase. Being observant in harsh and deadly marshes keeps a swampkin lizardfolk alive. You increase your Wisdom by 1.
Hold Breath. You can hold your breath for a number of minutes equal to your Constitution score before needing to make Constitution checks.
Natural Armor. Your scales protect you against the elements and against attacks, granting you a +1 bonus to Armor Class.

Lizardfolk are one of the races in the Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 2. Download now for your Fifth Edition game at JonBrazer.com. You can also find this at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, the OpenGamingStore and Paizo.com.

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2016 in Review

With little over a week left in the year, I thought I would do some analysis on the company. How’d we do? Well, we released a total of 11 new products this year (plus 4 d66 lists, but we’ll talk about that later). In previous years, we tried to release one product every two weeks but sometime during the year that changed to one per month. We feel that that is a more sustainable release rate for us, especially considering we are trying to release larger products.

So what did we produce? What I could consider to be JBE’s key releases for the have been finishing up the the Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Series and the Book of Magic: Patron Hexes for Pathfinder and the start of the Prelude to War Adventure Path and the D66 Compendium 2 for Traveller. Why were these so key? Because fans like you requested them. I’ve been hearing requests for the D66 Compendium 2 since the release of its predecessor. Patron Hexes started off as a forum thread where fans of the Pathfinder witch requested more hexes. And the Prelude to War Adventure Path and Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Series is the request of me just posting a thread asking people what they wanted. So if there is something you want us to tackle, please ask. We listen.

systemWhat was the result (click on the pie charts for larger images)? Well, as you can see from the graph, Pathfinder represented 55% of the company while Traveller made up about 30%. Oddly enough, our single best seller was Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1 for D&D 5e. That’s right, that red area is almost entirely one book, and that was released last year. I hate to admit it but we did not do nearly enough with 5e this past year. We will be doing much more for D&D next year.

Traveller was a major comeback this year. Aside from d66 lists we released 1 (yes, one) product for it last year. This year, this year it was 4 and even then, we didn’t finish up a 5th by the end of the year or there would have been one more. We have two more adventures in the Prelude to War Adventure Path we are finishing up. Then we will probably do a few stand alone adventures for those that like to make their own campaigns. We’re also working on ships, space stations, and some more locations. Oh and we still have a sector to finish detailing. Look for these in the coming year. 2017 is going to a massive year for Traveller from us. Strap in!

pathfinder-locationIt is kind of hard for Pathfinder to not dominate our sales considering how many books we have written for it in the past. Unfortunately, our individual Pathfinder releases have slowed to where few products actually make back their cost to produce them. Having said that, we are still creating Pathfinder material because some of our ideas are just too damn cool not to do!!! Like one Deadly Delve adventure we have coming up next year has the players into the heart of a volcano. The best part is that 5e and 13th Age fans can look forward to seeing this converted to their game systems at some point as well. And that is how we are targeting Pathfinder products these days when you don’t ask explicitly ask for them: what can we convert over to another system. Because if we just want to do it bad enough, we’ll find a way to make it work.

As you can see from the chart, Pathfinder is pretty evenly split between Paizo and the OpenGamingStore for the whole year. However, this is far from representative for the year. Throughout the year, OGS has gained ground on Paizo and has overtaken Paizo in recent months as our #1 Pathfinder retailer. DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, on the other hand, has stayed a constant #3 and has never been a great retailer for Pathfinder for us. Will OGS continue to increase over Paizo in terms of Pathfinder sales? We shall see.

locationThat last chart is only for Pathfinder. For all of our sales, DriveThruRPG/RPGNow dominates but that is mostly because our D&D 5e and 13th Age sales do not sell nearly as much as outside of DriveThruRPG, and Second Edition of Mongoose Traveller is exclusive to that same site.

All of these leaves a number of questions for us. Chief among them is: how is Starfinder going to shake this up? What kind of releases do we have in mind for Starfinder? Well for the time being, here is everything I can say about Starfinder: I am under a Non-Disclosure Agreement concerning Starfinder as part of the closed Playtest. Any more than that and one of the Paizo team will have me summoned to Seattle where lawyers will … lets just say … do this to me. Expect me to talk more when I am allowed to talk more, not before.

So aside from that, what can you expect to see us do in 2017? Well I mentioned the volcano adventure. It is written by Joel Flank. He turned it in a month ago. I am still reading it over and damn does it look fun. I can’t wait to hand it off to the editors and start working on the 5e conversion. The Book of Heroic Races: Advanced Compendium will be out early next year and you can expect to see more races from that in 5e soon after hopefully in 13th Age not long after that. We have a product that has been top secret for over a year at this point and we hope to have ready next year.

All in all JBE is doing great. We have had a great year and we expect 2017 to be even better.

EDIT: On Dec 27, I updated the graphs and some of the text after discovering an error in my spreadsheet.

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5e: Christmas in July Sale, Until the 29th

Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1 (5e)

Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1Hey 5e Fans. Like we said yesterday with Pathfinder, today starts the annual Christmas in July Sale at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow. It started earlier today and will be running until July 29. We have three excellent products for Fifth Edition on sale now.

  • Those that want to play a new race should check out the 5-STAR rated Book of Heroic Races: Player Races 1. These fun races will give your players exciting options for some time to come.
  • A great way to start off your campaign is the 4-Star rated Deadly Delves: Along Came a Spider. This 1st-level adventure is a great way to start off a creepy campaign for your players. Those that hate spiders, like me, will remember this adventure for a long time to come.
  • Continue your campaign with the 5-STAR rated Deadly Delves: Rescue from Tyrkaven. This 2nd-level adventure starts the players off with hunting down murdrous hobgoblin and ends up having the players take on the servants of a long-forgotten deity. Even though the Pathfinder version of this adventure came out first, it was written for Fifth Edition.

Grab these great deals today at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow.