Welcome to Othereon: Lair of the Lightsbane

Click on the image to check out Lair of the Lightsbane at DriveThruRPG!

Click on the image to check out Lair of the Lightsbane at DriveThruRPG!

So, I’ve started to officially publish the Othereon campaign setting. Which is the campaign setting I’ve been using since I started homebrewing Dungeons and Dragons stuff all the way back in the 80’s. I mean, it’s not the same. It’s been through a couple of ages and a good calamity since the early days, but the core stuff is still there.

I remember when I first started playing D&D, I didn’t know much about Greyhawk, and the Forgotten Realms and other published worlds were still in the future. But all the stuff you needed to create a world was in your head (with help from the Dungeon Master’s Guide). I still remember the names of the first heroes of the world (which had no name at the time), Yargak, O’Toole, Hawkeye, the other guy…

What the hell was that guy’s name?

Shit.

I wanna say Elrond. It might be wrong, but what group of early teen role players didn’t pilfer a name from Tolkein? I remember someone with the name Oblib Sniggab, but not in the game I ran. I did steal the idea and had a halfling named Odorf Sniggab. But what was that other guy’s name? I’ll remember later, or just ask him on Facebook. But, from there it just spiraled. Each new group and new campaign added to the world. New countries were added. New factions and enemies, but the core world stayed the same. Then, I just stopped playing.

For years, it was something occasionally talked about. “We should play D&D again!”

“We should!”

“Yeah, we should!”

And we didn’t. Maybe because I was the dungeon master, and couldn’t be bothered with all of the work involved in coming up with new shit every week. I admit, I had gotten rather burned out after years of this stuff. My brain was mush.

When I started listening to the Drunks and Dragons podcast, I remembered all of fun I had with my friends and family. I dusted off the 4e books I had bought and never played with.

I shudder thinking about them. 4e is potentially terrible. But really, it’s what you make of it. I mostly shudder about the idea of new players starting with a game that is essentially The World of Magic the Warcraft Gathering. For older players like me, it was easy to incorporate the new rules with the same concept of story driving the game rather than encounters. But the game was built around encounters, so yes, I shudder for those new players. But it was there that I decided to start a new campaign world. I started small, like you should, with one region around the town of Wheat’s Landing, and played with my family, having a great time.

I had so much fun, I decided to use the internet to find new people to play with, hoping to play rather than run the games. That worked out really badly, and I found myself running two 4e games. But then, 5e was released and we jumped on that. My new group formed and I wrote an adventure “Lair of the Lightsbane” and came up with a Big Bad that the characters still have never laid eyes on, though they’ve met some of her allies.

As I started to world build, with time borrowed from the life of an older, more harried man. I connected the two games (though one was still a 4e game) and found that I began to reuse names and ideas from the old world.

I soon realized what had happened, this was the old campaign world, but changed. Something really, really bad happened a few hundred years ago, and this new world was the result. I started world rebuilding.

One thing I realized, was that while I had named certain kingdoms and cities, I had never named the world, or the continent in which the adventures took place. So the new campaign world became the old campaign world there. It had a proper name, rather than just “D&D”. It was now Othereon, and many years after a great calamity had scoured all life and civilization from the main continent of Eureon (the event known as The Scouring), people had begun to recolonize, finding new dangers as they settled the wild lands and found new dangers lurking above and below the ground.

I started a half-assed attempt at gathering the information in a media-wiki, but as work and other “normal” life things happened, the wiki kind of fell by the wayside. But I was still creating content as I wrote the adventures (for three separate and yet connected campaigns). I started compiling the world information into a messy atlas, new ideas coming as I tried to explain why certain things happened the way they did. It was fun, and a lot easier than trying to update a wiki every time I thought of something new. I even started a third campaign, all online with my brothers scattered around the world using tools like Google Hangouts and Roll20.net.

By now, Kickstarter and Patreon had come along. People were making money doing Dungeons and Dragons in all sorts of new ways. I looked into the legality of publishing my campaign world, and it was a little messy, unless I wanted to move it to 3.5/Pathfinder. I didn’t. I’m a purist, damn it!

Now, with the release of the OGL for 5e, and the SRD, I didn’t have to worry. I could do it legally, and with a market through which to sell my world using DriveThruRPG and the DM’s Guild (a recent post here talks about the DM’s Guild stuff I’ve published, so I won’t share the story again). I started to re-write the first 5e adventure I wrote, the previously mentioned “Lair of the Lightsbane”. Refining it and trying like hell to figure out how to format it so that it appeared like the core material.

I finished it earlier today (now yesterday, really). Uploaded it to DriveThruRPG and now I’m watching the (mostly unpaid) sales come in. All that I’ve published so far is Pay What You Want. I’m hoping with refinement of my adventure design, and feedback from the people downloading it, it’ll get better and I eventually won’t balk at sticking a price on my work that’s not “suggested”. Maybe with enough of a fan base, I can even start a Patreon campaign of my own. I’m not looking to retire or even make a living from it, but it’s not bad to get paid for work you do, especially if it’s something you love to do.

And I do. It’s cool as hell.

Even without payment.

Mondo.

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I won Dungeons and Dragons! And it was Advanced!

So I’ve been filling a lot of my “down” time with all things 5e Dungeons and Dragons. It started out just planning adventures for my weekly Geek Fight Club, and my usually bi-weekly campaign with my brothers. While doing this, I was occasionally updating and cleaning up my campaign world notes when I could find and make sense of them. Keep in mind, that this campaign world has been in existence in one form or another since the mid 1980’s.

Pierce the Dickish

And it was Advanced!

I was also toying with the idea of creating a new campaign world. Something new and fresh and maybe I’d do a Kickstarter or something and get people to give me money, since I can’t get any of my players to pay me (I kid, guys. All I want is your love. And maybe a TPK). As I batted some ideas around, Wizards of the Coast made two big announcements. In one day (I think)! Not only were they releasing an Open Game License and System Reference Document (this is, in a nutshell, all of the rules and creatures for 5e D&D, encompassing most of the Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Masters Guide and Monster Manual) for 5e, but they were making it really easy for people who create content to share (and possibly get paid) for it! They created the DMs Guild, which is run by the swell folks over at DriveThruRpg, where creators can upload their content, set a price and then sit back and get rich.

Okay. I may be exaggerating the last point. But part of the cool thing about the DMs Guild, is that it allows creators access to the intellectual property not available through the SRD, as long as the adventures are either set in the Forgotten Realms, or setting neutral (so that they could be run in the Forgotten Realms). Creators who don’t want to be limited to Forgotten Realms, can sell their stuff at DriveThruRPG (or anywhere) as long as it’s compliant with the OGL and SRD.

Since I had been pulling this stuff of mine together already, I began to clean it up for potential sale. I’ve been working at it for hours each day after work, anywhere from 5 to 7 days a week (I occasionally say “fuck it” for a night and rewatch Community while my brain resets). I’ve never had so much fun working at something that makes me want to break my fingers and pluck my eyes out. Seriously.

At the moment, I have two supplements up at the DMs Guild, which I am naturally plugging here.

A new race for Player Characters, “The Dire Elf”, which is the rare crossbreed between elven and orc parents. This was the result of coming up with an NPC for an adventure I was writing. Fueled by too much coffee, I made this guy from a nice-guy half-elf rogue into a deadly, dangerous anti-hero. Of course, I had to build a homebrewed race, so as to make sure that there was some sort of balance with the game. I went a little nuts, I think, since the NPC doesn’t actually show up in the adventure, and just exists as part of the flavor of the town the adventure takes place in. Regardless, with the release of the OGL and DMs Guild, I cleaned it up and formatted it, and submitted it. Suggested price is just a buck, but I made it a Pay What You Want. Partly to get a feel for what people thought, but also to start to build some sort of potential customer base. The free downloads have been doing pretty well. I think? I have no way of knowing how many people are downloading how much other material. But I know that, at the time of this post, 148 people have downloaded it. And some of them have even paid for it (I get 50% of the sales).

The second is The Forgotten: An Otherworldly Patron for Warlocks.  This was a direct result of the SRD. It does not contain all of the released 5e material, and includes limited class options for archetypes and the like. One of the adventures I was working on included a villain NPC who was a Warlock with a Great Old One for an Otherworldly Patron. The only Patron included in the SRD was the Fiend (devils, yo!), and that did not work for this adventure (which ties strongly into my non-Forgotten Realms campaign setting). So I did what any over-caffeinated dungeon master would do, I made a new one. And that’s part of the reason that the SRD is limited. They want people creating new content. They might even start snatching it up for official use in the game! And yeah, they’ll ask you and pay you for your work, it’s still your intellectual property. So this new Patron is The Forgotten. It’s a trio (or more) of entities that existed before everything. They embody Chaos, Order (law), and Balance (neutrality), and basically created the whole of creation just to fight with each other until Balance shut them all away where they couldn’t mess with the fabric of creation any more. But there are minute cracks in their prison, where they whisper their names and send out little bits of power to warlock types. At the moment, that stands at 114 downloads, and has made twice as much money as the Dire Elf (again, only some people are paying for this stuff, I can get a six pack of beer or a pack of smokes with what I’ve earned).

So yeah, I’m plugging away at that, and the stuff that I have coming up. Plans are in motion to get the Bastards of Young podcast rolling again, and I’m working on a potential new actual play “in-character” podcast. So stay tuned, check them out when they come, and more importantly, keep playing.

Mondo

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