Monday, June 29, 2015

Norse Foundry Provides The Finest in Heavy Metal Dice

It's game time. You have a cold, highly-caffeinated beverage on your left, a character sheet on your right, and the field of battle is laid out before you. You draw your weapons, but for some reason the barely-there weight of your old, familiar friends feels like it isn't making an impact. Your critical hits are mere whispers, when you wish you could hear thunder! For that, however, you will need the fate hammers forged by Gromur Dagarkin, who does his work deep in the Koltodir Mountains.

Fortunately, for those who don't have time for an epic quest, Norse Foundry has an online store!

Heavy is good. Heavy is reliable.
Facetious tones aside, everyone wants to own at least one set of table breakers. You know, for those special characters for whom nothing else will do. Norse Foundry offers you a variety of different metals, as well as gemstone dice if you'd prefer something a little more organic. No two sets are completely alike (this goes double for the dice made of Tiger Eye), and you can rest assured that you have something truly unique in your arsenal.

But My Table!

Yes, yes, one of the primary advantages to lighter weight, plastic dice is that they don't hurt the table. However, if you want to have your cake and eat it, too (or in this case use your heavy hammers without upsetting your DM), Norse Foundry also provides rolling mats and guards you can use to stop your Dice of Mass Destruction from getting out of hand.

The Nightmare pattern is ideal for DM use.
If you prefer your lightweight dice because you enjoy the artsy flick of the wrist, then more power to you. If you'd prefer to stop rolling your dice like an elf, though, go to Norse Foundry's website, and follow them on Twitter while you're at it.

Speaking of following folks on Twitter, you can find my little tweeting bird right here. Facebook and Tumblr are regularly updated as well. Lastly, if you'd like to see more Improved Initiative then stop by the Literary Mercenary Patreon page to toss a little bread in my jar.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

What Does Your Character Do When Not Adventuring?

We all know what our characters do when they're working. Korak the Thunderer smashes any foe that stands against him with his great, iron-studded club, roaring a challenge to any who would meet him on the battlefield. Thendril, servant of Iomede, protects her companions, raises arms against the wicked, and cares for those who are wounded in the struggle. Lemen Light-Fingers always goes unnoticed as he relieves you of your valuables, and if you're threatening his companions, of your life as well. Rend, the Father of Wolves, can channel the very furies of nature against his enemies.

So what does this party do at the end of the day? When the traps are tripped, the dragon is dead, the horde has been divvied up, and all the threats are passed... what do they do with themselves?

I cast magic missile... or something...
People are more than just their jobs, but all too often we let that be all that defines our characters. If you want to add a little depth to them, though, it's a good idea to ask what they do aside from raiding tombs, hunting bandits, or starting megalomaniacal plots to take over the world.

You Are Not Your Job

When you were a kid did you ever run into your teacher at the grocery store or at McDonald's, and your mind just tweaked because this person was in an environment you didn't associate them with? That's sort of like what happens with our characters. Our mental images are so jam-packed with brutal sword slashes, exploding words of power, and skulking thievery that we forget these characters have a lot of other moments in their lives.

Like douchebaggery.
I'll give you an example. Many years ago I was asked to join a 3.5 Shackled City campaign. The game took place in a city built inside a caldera, and every character began the game with a single trait. The one I took for my character, a half-orc who due to an accident of birth passed for human, was nightmares. He suffered from terrible night terrors, and the result was that he was immune to the fatigued condition.

So of course I was going to make a fighter/barbarian, and then slide him into frenzied berserker.

Because of Arius's terrible nightmares, and the fits of screaming that accompanied them when he was a child, he was given up to the Temple of Kord. They taught him to fight, but more than that the temple taught him how to push his body past normal limits. Despite his youth, Arius's size, strength, and ability to train when other people were sleeping made him more than a great fighter. They made him an unparalleled athlete.

I didn't plan that to be part of the character, but it showed up in an early, mostly roleplay arc where the party attends a huge festival in the city. There are swimming competitions, wrestling, performances, drinking, etc. Arius, it was soon established, had won the long jump for several years. He was unafraid to dive into any physical challenge, and he reveled in the competition. But when the drinking event came up he took water and watched. Because, as he painstakingly explained, his body was a well-oiled machine; pour that poison into it and it would take months to work all the effects out.

This was the look on the party's faces when the guy with the +7 fort save at level 1 bowed out.
The more I played the character, the more I realized Arius had a life outside of dungeon delving and adventure-seeking. He liked to exchange riddles and solve puzzles (he wasn't good at it, but he liked doing it), he paid some attention to local fashion (not much, but some), and he was a great believer in spectacle. It's why when the party was told they were going to be participating in a big ceremony, which would require dance lessons, Arius was there with bells on.

What Do You Do, And What Does It Say About You?

By examining your characters' lives beyond the scope of their heroic exploits you'll end up with rounder, more interesting PCs. For example, when he isn't off valiantly fighting the forces of evil, does your paladin volunteer at an orphanage? Why? Is it to remind him of the family he lost long ago? Is it because his devotion to duty means he'll never have children of his own? Is it because he wants to help shape the next generation by showing them someone cares about them? Does he just need something to lift his spirits after gazing so long into the abyss?

Who knows? All of them are valid interpretations depending on the character.

There are all sorts of things you can do. For example, does your orc write poetry? If so, what kind? Does he read publicly, or does he keep it shut up in a journal where no one will see? Does your sorceress like the theater? If so, does she go for the acting or for the effects? Was she ever a theatrical person herself, or is it just something she likes? Is your cleric a fan of chariot races? Does the bard love gladiatorial bouts, even though he's well aware they're at least partly fake? Does your wizard like to garden?

I could keep asking you these questions all day long, but here's an easy way to think about it. If you were going to create a dating profile for your character, what would you fill in for all those miscellaneous sections? Would you talk about your experiences as a bounty hunter, and about how strong or fast you are, or would you instead focus on the more personal aspects? Do you want kids (or have them), do you have a religion, do you smoke, do you drink, and what are those six things you simply could not do without?

All right... what are the other three?

As always, thanks for stopping by Improved Initiative! If you'd like to support me and this blog, stop by The Literary Mercenary Patreon page to toss a little bread in my jar. If you want to make sure you've got the inside track for all my updates, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter as well.

Monday, June 22, 2015

"I Hit It With My Axe" Is How Porn Stars Play DND

When you hear the words "Dungeons and Dragons," what's the first thing that comes to your mind? It probably isn't "porn stars," unless you either read the title of this blog entry, or you're already a fan of I Hit It With My Axe. The reality show, currently featured on The Escapist, recorded a campaign played by Mandy Morbid, Kimberly Kane, Satine Phoenix, and several of their friends whose professions include exotic dancing, pin-up modeling, and (in one case) hairdressing. There's over 30 episodes of the show, and it features a variety of special guests, including noted adult film star Sasha Grey in the debut episode.

Don't pretend you need this picture to know who I'm talking about.
So what is I Hit It With My Axe like? Well, it's an engaging show about a group of gamers playing a campaign. Some of the players are fresh, some have been playing for years, and generally speaking the game has about the mix of goof-off, bad jokes, demands for snacks, and spurting blood you'd expect from your average DND campaign.

What, you were expecting giggles, sanitized couches, and lingerie parties? If that's the case, move along. If, on the other hand, you're curious to know more then check out this brief interview Geekscape did with Satine Phoenix about the show at Comic Con several years back.

I don't know about you, but I'm a fan.

Editor's Note

It appears that the show has broken from The Escapist. A fuller explanation of the reasons for the split can be found at the blog DND With Pornstars. Efforts to continue the show in another location which fits with the ethics of all participants is ongoing, and if you want to keep up with the crew's progress go and Like their Facebook page.

As always, if you'd like to put some bread in my jar then head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page. If you want to make sure you don't miss any of my updates then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

How To Power Up Your Pathfinder Characters With The Eldritch Heritage Feats

One of the biggest differences between Pathfinder's sorcerers and those found in previous editions of Dungeons and Dragons was the idea of bloodline. In Dungeons and Dragons 3.0 and 3.5 sorcerers were assumed to be descended from an obscure magical lineage, which was most often draconic in nature, that allowed them to use magic spontaneously. Pathfinder decided to take that core concept and supercharge it, which is why we have dozens of different sources for where sorcerers' magic comes from. In addition to a specific heredity, though, sorcerers also gained bonus feats, bonus spells, bonus skills, and thematically appropriate bloodline powers around levels 1, 3, 5, 9, 15, and 20.

Mileage may vary.
What didn't change with sorcerers, though, is that they still have low hit points, and they still can't wear armor. This makes some bloodline powers, like the draconic bloodline's claws or the boreal bloodline's ability to give weapons the frost property for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your sorcerer level, thematically appropriate but practically useless.

Unless, that is, you decide to give them to a more martially-inclined class.

Eldritch Heritage

The eldritch heritage feats (eldritch heritage, improved eldritch heritage, and greater eldritch heritage, on pages 149 and 152 of Ultimate Magic respectively) allow any character, regardless of class to gain bloodline powers. If you take all three feats (which will require playing till at least 17th level), then you can gain up to the 15th level powers from any single bloodline.

So what good does that do me?
So you get a minor feature of the sorcerer class, big deal, right? Well, as with any other mechanical trick you need to look at all your options in order to come up with a long-term goal that will make your character more effective.

For example, let's say you wanted to utilize the most basic power of the serpentine bloodline (Advanced Player's Guide 139). This power gives you fangs that you can use as a natural weapon to deal 1d4 points of damage, and to deliver a poison which does constitution damage, and whose save is equal to 10 + 1/2 your sorcerer level + your constitution modifier. The fangs are eventually considered magical for overcoming DR, and your poison grows more potent the more levels you gain. This kind of ability isn't that big of a deal for a sorcerer, but what if you gave that ability to a barbarian with the brutal pugilist archetype, who also had abilities like Raging Grapple? Perhaps a wrestler from Sargava whose ropy muscles are ideal for wrapping around enemies before sinking his fangs into their necks, quickly draining their constitutions and leaving them unable to continue the fight?

There are dozens of combinations of class and powers you can create to boost your mechanical performance, as well as adding intriguing elements to your character's backstory. For example, a Kellid fighter with an eldritch heritage from the nanite bloodline (Pathfinder Player Companion: People of The River) gains powerful bonuses from the nanotechnology living inside of him, but did that same heritage get him cast out from his tribe for bearing the mark of the machines? A druid with the verdant bloodline gains a useful ability to disarm or trip enemies using a 15-foot vine, bonuses against sleep and poison, along with being treated as if they're wearing a ring of sustenance, which would give the character an otherworldliness as she snacks on fresh air and sunlight. A philosophical assassin who comes from the starsoul bloodline would be able to use gas weapons without risking harm to himself, or he could exist in a void such as the space inside a bag of holding without problem (which would allow companions, or even bestial familiars, to carry the assassin past human guards to infiltrate a target's home base).

Cautions and Costs

Nothing comes for free, and the eldritch heritage feats are no exception. They require you to take skill focus in the skill associated with a bloodline, and they have a steadily increasing charisma requirement that can be problematic for some class combinations. So you need to keep in mind that the bigger the power you want from the bloodline, the higher your charisma will have to be, and the more feat slots you'll need to take up.

All right, let's break this down...
Put another way, if you want to get the most bang for your buck out of these feats you should look for low-power ones that will naturally grow with your character level (the serpentine bloodline's poison is a perfect example of a power you get with one feat, but which keeps growing as your character level advances), or to combine them with classes that get other benefits from having a high charisma.

For example, a paladin with infernal heritage is both intriguing as hell (so to speak), and it provides a nice dovetail. Paladins gain a huge number of benefits from having a high charisma, and the infernal heritage provides the paladin with a debuff touch attack, poison and fire resistance, and if you make it all the way to 17th level, you can gain the ability to call down hellfire or to grow devil wings and fly. So if you're going to be using your charisma (swashbucklers, Mysterious Stranger gunslingers, oracles, bards, and any other dashing character classes... including sorcerers who want more bloodline powers), then you're already on the right path.

Half-elves are also a swanky choice, as you get that free skill focus feat out of the deal.

These feats won't be ideal for all classes/builds, and they won't be ideal for every campaign. For example, you might take rakshasa heritage to increase your bluff, but if most of your game is spent slogging through zombie fights then you aren't going to find that silver tongue very useful. If you take a fire heritage, but find yourself fighting demons at the Worldwound, then you're going to have an impossible time making those powers punch through your opponent's resistances.

Now that you've had your warnings, go forth, and create terrible combinations where your character's parents are more than just a convenient reason to adventure in the name of revenge!

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Thug Notes Gives You A Break Down of "Game of Thrones"

Few book series have achieved the universal popularity managed by George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, particularly when you consider the brutality with which is treats both its cast and its audience. With everything from a TV show to roleplaying games dedicated to the world Martin created, it can be tough to keep track of the vast plots and confusing series of events going on in Westeros (not to mention the rest of the world).

Don't worry, Sparky Sweets is here to lay it down straight and simple on you.

Bitches get shanked, the end.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the good doctor's work, Sparky Sweets is the host of Thug Notes, which is part of the Wisecrack channel on Youtube. The series takes some of the densest and dankest books in all of classic literature, and breaks them down into terms we can all understand. With old standbys like Shakespeare's Othello, and some more recent tales like At The Mountains of Madness, you're in for a treat when you pop on over to Thug Notes.

Seriously, check out the break down for Game of Thrones.

It only gets better from there! Especially since Wisecrack also boasts additional shows like 8-Bit Philosophy and Earthling Cinema, which are pretty damn entertaining in their own rights.

If you'd like to help support Improved Initiative, then step on over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page and leave some bread in my jar. $1 a month can make a pretty big difference. If you want to keep up to date on all of my work, then make sure you follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter as well.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Saga of Majenko Part Three: Scourge of The Red Mantis

When last the Saga of Majenko left off I'd detailed how in Curse of the Crimson Throne we'd freed a tiny pseudodragon NPC, and said pseudodragon had gone on to steamroll entire encounters with his poisonous sting. Seeing the inherent value of such a potent ally, but wary of his fragility as a 15-hit point, cat-sized dragon, I made him my character's familiar. Not content with that (and because I could find no rules banning it), I also made him my cohort. So in addition to being able to share spells, gaining additional natural armor, and sharing an empathic bond with the little guy, Majenko also gained 5 levels of rogue with all the associated trimmings.

It's a good thing too, because this was right around the time the campaign got serious. It's also around the time Majenko fell in love. If you need to review, here's the full list of the Saga of Majenko installments.

Part One: Finding The Main Character of "Curse of The Crimson Throne"
Part Two: How Much Damage Could One Pseudodragon Do?
Part Three: Scourge of The Red Mantis
Part Four: Blood Pig Champion
Part Five: Brother to The Shoanti
Part Six: The Assault on Castle Scarwall
Part Seven: The Return to Korvosa
Part Eight: Re-Taking Korvosa
Part Nine: The Assault on Castle Korvosa
Part Ten: Down With The Queen

All caught up? Great!

Part Three: The Scourge of The Red Mantis

When last we left our intrepid adventurers they'd managed to uncover the secret plot to destroy the city with a plague of bloodveil, arrest the head doctor behind it all, and descended into the bowels of the city to fight a priestess of Urgathoa. In short our crack law enforcement task force managed to save the city, and stem the tide of death that was pouring out of the guts of Korvosa.

We also discovered (gasp) that the queen was tacitly behind the plague!

This is my surprised face.
Now, we know that we're sitting on a few tons of black powder with this information. The queen may not be much liked, but attempting to depose her would lead to civil war regardless of her guilt. Unless, that is, we could find Neolandis Kalapopolis, the royal seneschal. As the seneschal, Neolandis had the legal authority to remove Queen Ileosa, assuming we could present him with the appropriate evidence.

The only problem with that is that Neolandis seems to have up and vanished. So we've got to track him down somehow. Fortunately for us a letter from the city's most esteemed vigilante Blackjack happens to show up on our doorstep, asking us to meet him in Old Korvosa; the northern island district that's been sealed off due to the plague.

Why not, what's the worst that could happen?

It's Dangerous Out There, Take A Cleric With You!

It just so happened that our regular cleric couldn't make that session. So rather than go off adventuring without such a crucial class, I checked my followers chart and saw that, in addition to Majenko, I qualified for a single 4th level follower. I asked the DM if, for a session, she would let us bring an NPC pseudodragon cleric to help out with the heals. I got permission, and that's where Aoefa came in.

I'll say she did!
Aoefa wasn't just a pseudodragon who happened to have 4 levels of cleric. She had been born as a living holy symbol of Apsu, and she was silver from snout to tail. With a breathy voice, a haughty demeanor, and a definite sense that she was the queen of the castle, there was at least one vote that when we brought down Ileosa that we gave Aoefa the crown in her place.

With her added to our party we headed north to Old Korvosa. We eventually found the meeting place, which was the personal quarters of the resident fencing master (a man who couldn't possibly be Blackjack, because he was missing two fingers!). We enter the building, investigate, and as soon as we reach his upstairs living room two red-sheathed figures drop down from the rafters.

A pair of the legendary Red Mantis Assassins were waiting for us!

Time To Make A Move

Aoefa, disdaining the physicality of combat, flits up to one of the rafters and stretches out like a Siamese cat. The assassins hurl alchemist fire, setting the room ablaze and giving us a definite time period to end this fight by (since only Egil has the ability to walk through fire mostly unscathed). The barbarian and the fighter are cornering one of the elite killers, and the other is dealing with Egil and Majenko.

Or at least he was planning on dealing with us. Because it seems that with Aoefa looking on Majenko really wanted to show off his prowess to prove what a good mate he would be. This led to Egil taking several, ineffective swipes at the assassin before Majenko sprung up behind the Red Mantis, stabbed the sweet spot where the helmet met his armor, and gave him a full load of sneak attack and poison before springing away. The assassin whirled, failed his save, and just before sleep could overpower him committed seppuku in order to turn himself into a red mist and prevent his identity from being discovered. The other assassin was dispatched in short order, and when the party asked for their wounds to be tended Aoefa was only too pleased to help.

She wanted to show Majenko he had impressed her, and thus was willing to be kind to his party mates. Even if two of them were lowly humans.

Musical Character Sheets

Our regular cleric arrived soon after the battle, and the barbarian decided to take his earnings and go. He'd just met a girl in the southern half of the city (a broad-shouldered, wide-hipped nurse who was going to bear him many strong children), and he wasn't about to do something that would get him locked up (that, and the player wanted to bring in a different PC). The last thing we hear as Aoefa alights on Spatters arm, their boat fading off into the night, is, "Oh, you have a woman. Tell me all about her. Disgust me..."

What Happened Next?

Well, the story doesn't end there (as anyone who's played this adventure path knows. Next time I'll detail the battles in Old Korvosa, and perhaps begin the quest into the high desert country where our party faced even stranger challenges than they had in the plague-ridden gutters of Korvosa.

Tune in next time!

Also, if you'd like to support Improved Initiative then please stop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron today! $1 a month can go a long way toward keeping the game going. Also, if you want to make sure you don't miss a single post, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter as well.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Creative Home Engineering Will Build You A Secret Passage!

Lots of us fantasize about having the ideal game room. You know, something with a cool gaming table, sturdy chairs, heavy bookshelves with all the reference material we need, and maybe a mounted dragon head above the minis case? For the really creative folks, maybe you also want a sound system so you can have pre-recorded lines delivered for your players, or fight music to go along with your combat rounds. Maybe you imagine a projector that will shoot a terrain map so you'll never need to use a boring old battle mat again?

All of that would be cool, but what if you could have a game room behind a secret door?

Some passages have better secrets than others.
Enter Creative Home Engineering. This company was created to do one thing, and to do that one thing excessively well; build secret passages in your home. Whether it's a playroom hidden under the stairs, or a study behind a moving bookshelf, Creative Home Engineering can give you what you want.

I'll give you a moment to get your breath back, and to let all those fantasies of building secret additions in your home finish flashing before your eyes. Don't worry, it's a totally normal reaction.

According to interviews with Creative Home Engineering, the company seems pretty evenly split regarding its clientele. Half of the people who call them up want a secret passage in their homes because they think it's neat. The passages add value to the property, and it makes their homes a truly unique place. The other half of their clientele tend to be looking for panic rooms, safe places to hide important documents, and escape routes in case someone breaks into their homes. There isn't a whole lot of in between, though there are a few cases where a client is mixing practicality with imagination.

No matter which one you think is cooler, can you imagine something like this being the gateway to your gaming den?

If you'd like to check out more cool stuff from this company, then visit Creative Home Engineering today! You might also want to check out Castle Magic, a contracting company that will build you a freaking castle! And if you're looking for additional home decor as a gamer, check out this great post on the best gaming chairs from We PC!

Like, Follow, and Stay in Touch!

That's all for this week's Moon Pope Monday. Hopefully you found this suggestions useful!

For more of my work, check out my Vocal archive, and stop by the YouTube channel Dungeon Keeper Radio. Or if you'd prefer to read some of my books, like my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife or my latest short story collection The Rejects, then head over to My Amazon Author Page!

To stay on top of all my latest releases, follow me on FacebookTumblrTwitter, and now Pinterest as well! To support my work, consider Buying Me a Ko-Fi, or heading to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a regular, monthly patron. That one helps ensure you get more Improved Initiative, and it means you'll get my regular, monthly giveaways as a bonus!

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Dangers of The Phrase "I'm Just Playing My Character"

There are certain, inviolable rules at any gaming table. Critical hits from a player must be confirmed by an outside source, preferably the DM. All character sheets must be given the rubber stamp of approval before play begins. No player may dictate to any other player what actions they have to take or not take, and no character can force another to do anything barring the use of some form of mechanical compulsion.

The last example is most often shut down by the phrase, "I'm just playing my character."

Mic... dropped.
It doesn't matter what game you're playing, or what the situation is, this magical phrase instantly ends (most) discussion on the matter. However, are we too quick to hide behind this shield as a way to excuse our behavior, or to duck fully legitimate criticisms of the way we're making our characters act?

You Are The Man Behind The Curtain

The entire goal of roleplaying games is to create living, breathing characters whose stories you can tell. These characters might be refugees from magical realms spat back into reality as twisted reflections of their former selves, archmages who have mastered the arts of magic, or government agents who investigate the strange and unusual; no matter who or what they are, you're the one who created them, and you're the one who decides their actions.

Some character concepts are weirder than others.
So, let's use an example. Say you're playing a garden-variety cleric. You wear white robes, worship a god of light and life, and your magic is used to heal the wounded as well as turn back the undead. The party comes to a destroyed monastery with the goal of delving into its depths and slaying the necromancer who killed all of the brothers. Now, because they were members of his order, your cleric feels it is his duty to go and give the last rites to the brothers. The first time this happens, the dead rise and attack you. It happens the second, third, and fourth time, too. Despite this, your cleric doggedly insists that the party stop and provide the necessary rites to every single corpse you come across.

Yes this is detailed in a comic strip, and you can read it right here.

Now, your cleric has a choice to make at this point. He can stolidly demand that last rites be given to every body discovered, which will likely result in the party having to fight the entire monastery. This will put the cleric, as well as the party, in serious danger while wasting resources they could be using to accomplish their goal of killing the necromancer and destroying his grip on the region.

If at this point you, as the cleric, continue to insist on a harmful and wasteful course of action and you justify it with "I'm just playing my character," you're ignoring the fact that characters sometimes have to make decisions that are hard. Put another way, your beliefs or desires are shown to be reckless, and ill advised. For example, as a holy man ostensibly charged with protecting the living, wouldn't it make more sense to destroy the necromancer first, and then grant the bodies the proper burial rites after the threat has passed? After all, if the dead have waited this long, surely they'll be able to wait until you're no longer under fire, as it were?

All too often we point at our characters like they're someone we aren't in control of. We say, "look, that's what he'd do," as a way to justify actions which we know will have negative effects on the rest of the party. The point is, though, that as players we are in control of our characters. If you're stubbornly insisting on a course of action that you, as a player, know is bad then you may have motivations beyond remaining true to your character.

Either that, or you brought a knife to a gun fight.

Don't Bring A Monkey Wrench

Character conflicts happen. The paladin wants to accept an enemy's surrender, and the cynical rogue thinks the only safe course is to kill the guy holding the white flag. The halfling bard wants to share the party's food and drink with a wandering NPC, but the barbarian sees that as both a waste, and a weakness.

These things are going to happen. Ideally the characters will work out a solution through roleplay, and the players will be open-minded enough to seek an equitable answer. The problem is when one player answers any criticism of his or her character's actions with, "I'm just playing my character." Just as any man who must say I am the king is no true king, if you find yourself using this phrase too often to justify your actions you might want to take a step back and re-examine what character you're actually playing.

My character, my rules.
What you may have done, without even thinking about it, is brought a monkey wrench. For example, are you playing a paladin with a very narrow view of right and wrong in a party made up of renegades, rebels, and rogues? Did you bring a killer-for-hire to the table, and set them down in the middle of a bunch of servants of the god of life? Are you trying to take a bloodthirsty pillager into a game where you're actively attempting to stop a civil war from breaking out? In most of these situations the problem isn't that anyone is wrong, but it's that you're trying to put a square peg into a round hole.

If you realize that, it doesn't mean you have to play an entirely new character; simply let the one you have actually grow to reflect his or her experiences. Does the paladin learn that sometimes the spirit of the law is more important than the letter, allowing the knight to keep his vows without dotting every I and crossing every T? Does the assassin learn to appreciate the value of life, understanding that blood cannot be measured in gold? Does your marauder figure out that there are greater fortunes to be made with the signing of a treaty than the drawing of a sword, becoming a kind of bandit king through diplomacy and guile instead of through sheer brute force?

All of these are options, but if you insist on keeping the original character totally and completely unchanged regardless of what experiences that character has, then none of them will ever happen.

This is why it's a good idea to have an idea of what you want to play, and to get a feel for what you're going to have to work with, before you show up at the table. If you want to play Judge Dredd, then it's a good idea to make sure you don't have a bunch of people interested in peace, love, and harmony. Otherwise your party members are going to spend all of their time fighting each other, and none of it actually inconveniencing the villains.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

The D20PFSRD is Now on Patreon!

The D20 Pathfinder System Reference Document, located at, is one of the most popular resources on the Internet for Pathfinder players. A collection of every resource players need from the Core Rulebook to obscure supplements like Bastards of Golarion and Blood of the Moon, this site makes it possible for players who can't afford hard copies to still play the game with a full library. It even collects third party supplements, providing the information free of charge to anyone who wants to pop in and have a look around.

It even has obscure relics like The DM's D20!
The site, for those who don't know, is run by John Reyst. John is a long-standing member of the gaming community, and he's been rolling the bones since there was only one edition of Dungeons and Dragons. What surprises most about John is that he isn't a big-name RPG developer. He isn't an industry insider, and he's not even a third party publisher (not in the strictest sense, anyway). John is just a gamer who loves Pathfinder (at least as much as the rest of us do), and he wanted something similar to the system reference document that was available when Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 was the mainstay.

So he made one. Because no one else was doing it the way he thought it should be done.

The result is a website that has made all of our gaming lives that much easier. It's also made it possible for John to pay some of his bills, and to take care of his family. In case you didn't know, that's what the store on the site is for, along with all of the ads you see every time you're clicking around to see what traits you may have missed for your new character.

The key word there is some.

The D20PFSRD is a useful, as well as gigantic, undertaking. With the constant releases from Paizo, as well as third party publishers, there's a ridiculous amount of work that goes into keeping it up to date. Even with helpers, it's more than a full-time job. The problem is that it's falling a little short.

That's where we come in, because the D20PFSRD now has a Patreon page!

Bribe The DM, Go Up A Level!
Why should you become a patron for the D20PFSRD? For one thing, if you use the site then you recognize it's a resource for you as a gamer. That means if you don't support it, and the person behind it, then there's a chance it might go away. Secondly, if you fund the site then you're likely to see it grow bigger, better, and faster. More updates, more material, and Reyst even hinted that if he had the funding then readers might see a lot more independent projects from the site.

Do you want to see that? Then go and become a patron today!

Also, if you're throwing patronage around, feel free to stop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page if you'd like to support Improved Initiative! Also, to make sure you don't miss any of my updates follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter.