Archive for June, 2019

D&D Did You Know’s: Curses and Ravenloft’s Dark Lords

June 15, 2019

Ravenloft has always been my favorite of the official settings for D&D. Nor am I alone in this particular regard, since Ravenloft’s popularity is self-evident from a look at its product history. After the original module (and its sequel) made a landmark impact on AD&D First Edition, Second Edition saw Ravenloft receive an unprecedented three campaign setting books.

First among these was the original Realm of Terror boxed set, though it needed the Forbidden Lore expansion set to really reach its full potential. Later, they’d be effectively combined as the Ravenloft Campaign Setting boxed set (aka the red boxed set), before finally having the Domains of Dread hardback published. And of course, Ravenloft made a very fast return as a licensed setting during the days of Third Edition, first with a hardback Ravenloft Campaign Setting book for 3.0, and then the Ravenloft Player’s Handbook and Ravenloft Dungeon Master’s Guide for 3.5. Clearly, demand for Ravenloft was considerable!

But among all those campaign settings, there seems to have been a curious little rule that was only found in one of them. Specifically, a rule that it was impossible for anyone to lay curses on the domain lords of Ravenloft. But (unless I missed something) you wouldn’t find this rule if you looked in the Realm of Terror boxed set or the Domains of Dread book, or any of the Third Edition books.

Rather, it seems to be exclusive to the red Ravenloft Campaign Setting boxed set. Specifically, from page 65 of the set’s “Realm of Terror” book, which says:

Exclusivity of Curses

As a general rule, any individual–player character or nonplayer character–can suffer the effects of only one curse at a time. Otherwise, a truly evil brute–the type of person who makes for an excellent antagonist in any adventure–could quickly become so burdened with curses that he or she would be crippled. What a waste of a perfectly good villain that would be! Therefore, no curse can affect a character if he or she already suffers from one.

An important note to make at this point concerns domain lords. By definition, all of them are laboring under the most horrible curse of all: that of ruling a domain in Ravenloft. Thus, any curse that the players might wish to lay upon them is doomed to fail.

And there you have it. Trying to lay a curse on a domain lord, whether via a spell or as your PC’s last act of retribution when slain by them, is an act that simply can’t work. It’s a small, but possibly not-insignificant, advantage that domain lords have, and yet seems to have been overlooked everywhere outside of the red boxed set.

Now if only there were a way to lift the curse that seems to be keeping Ravenloft from being revived as its own campaign setting once again…

Official New Monsters for the Tails of Equestria RPG

June 1, 2019

I’ve spoken before about the Tails of Equestria role-playing game, which at the time of this writing has just over a dozen products released for it, along with some helpful downloads. But recently, the company making the game, River Horse, has been releasing several new monsters for it as well. But these are only available via the company’s social media presence, specifically their Twitter, Instagram, and mailing list.

Given that those won’t reach some people, and because social media of all stripes has always struck me as being impermanent by nature (more so than a blog, at lease), I’m going to repost those monsters here. Or at least, the ones that don’t already appear in a book, since the ones that do don’t need additional archiving. So without further ado, let’s see what new monsters there are in Equestria!

The kindling is an original monster, rather than being from the show itself (but don’t ask me if they’ve ever appeared in the comics or any of the other secondary media). Technically, they appear in the adventure “A Dragon’s Bounty” in the Tails of Equestria Starter Set. However, the stat block shown above doesn’t actually appear in the book, though the kindlings play a part in the adventure.

Do the bite-acuda! These little guys come straight from the show, being introduced in Non-Compete Clause, the ninth episode of the eighth season. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve ever seen them in Tails of Equestria format. Hopefully we’ll get more show conversions in the future; I’d love to see what a bufogren or an ophiotaur’s stats are like!

There were also stats posted for another creature (an original one, not from the show): the lava bug. However, that appears in Filly Sized Follies, the most recent Tails of Equestria book to date. Hopefully River Horse won’t keep recycling monster entries going forward!

But I suspect we’ll find out soon enough. So far, these creature entries have been released on a weekly schedule. With any luck, they’ll keep putting them out for a while to come.

EDIT (06/11): And the bufogren, from The End in Friend (season eight, episode seventeen) has been released!

EDIT (07/12): Another creature from the show, heretofore unseen in a Tails of Equestria product, has been released! And this time it’s a double-feature, being stats for the winterchilla and its alternate form, the winterzilla, from the Best Gift Ever special episode that aired between seasons eight and nine! (Notice that the winterzilla’s stats need some slight errata: it should have a Stamina score of 24 rather than 20, since Stamina is your total die values for your Body and Mind traits.)



EDIT (07/19): And now we have the ophiotaurus, the Greek-inspired creature from Frenemies (season nine, episode eight)!

EDIT (09/02): I’ve been slightly remiss in updating this post to account for new creatures coming out. Here then are all of the new Tails of Equestria monsters that have come out in the last few weeks:

The octoselene is a reader-submitted creature, not appearing in the show, the RPG, or any other pony-related media that I’m aware of.

Magic books are from the “Judge Not By the Cover” adventure, where they play a central role in the plot. However, much like the kindlings (q.v.), they aren’t actually given stats in the book. As such, we have them here for the first time. The original posting even noted that it was possible for them to be used as PCs!

The kirin, and their fiery nirik forms, are from Sounds of Silence (season eight, episode twenty-three). Given that the introduction of an entirely new and eminently-playable race, it’s not surprising that they received official game stats! Moreover, they were also given a special “how to play” section as well! It largely repeats what’s in the official descriptions; note, however, that it says that kirin PCs (must?) take an additional quirk besides their nirik form.

The most recent release (as of this update) is for none other than Daybreaker herself! While Daybreaker is never shown to be a “real” character, only appearing in Starlight Glimmer’s nightmare in A Royal Problem (season seven, episode ten) and Twilight Sparkle’s worst fear in The Beginning of the End – Part 1 (season nine, episode one), she remains a fan-favorite for what could happen if Princess Celestia ever goes bad the way her sister did. While her stat block contains a few typos, this is still a great addition to any (high-level) Tails of Equestria game!

EDIT (09/08): Normally I don’t bother reprinting monsters that have already been featured in a Tails of Equestria product. But I’m bending that rule here. While the giant spiders are found in “The Festival of Lights” adventure (p. 31), this re-release also includes rules for playing one as a PC. An unusual choice, perhaps, but not that much more so than playing something like a changeling!

With that said, be aware that the actual explanations for the spider climb, web sling, and tremor sense talents are found in “The Festival of Lights,” so if you don’t have that book you might have to make some quick decisions about what those can do. Notice also that the stats for a giant spider here are slightly different than those in the book. Not only are the quirks different, but in the book giant spiders have the spider climb talent at a D8 rather than D6.

EDIT (09/13): This time around we have something a little different. Thrilly Filly is one of the original characters created for the Tails of Equestria RPG, serving as one of the three iconic ponies on the cover of the main rulebook! While we’ve received stats for her before (such as in the Starter Set, for one), I don’t recall seeing this particular version of her stat block before. Notice that, according to her Trait dice sizes, she’s 4th level here.

EDIT (09/20): And here’s the second of the three Tails of Equestria iconic characters, Firebrand!

EDIT (09/27): And last but not least, the third iconic character for Tails of Equestria, Strong Oak!

EDIT (10/11): This update adds two new monsters. Sky bunnies are an original, user-submitted entry:

The Great Prism Whale, however, is from the forthcoming Melody of the Waves adventure. While I don’t normally repost Creature Feature entries that are reprinted from another product, since that adventure isn’t out yet this monster gets in on a technicality!

EDIT (10/18): The latest update is the gloombrine hydra! Also from Melody of the Waves, this creature gets in under the same technicality as the previous one!

EDIT (11/01): Another monster from the forthcoming Melody of the Waves adventure!

EDIT (11/08): One more new monster from the soon-to-be-released adventure, Melody of the Waves!

EDIT (11/15): This time it’s another reader-submitted original creature! Notice that this one has no Body score, which I think indicates that it has no physical form?

EDIT (12/05): Here’s one more creature from the upcoming Melody of the Waves adventure!