Monday, July 22, 2019

The Knights of Ruin

The Knights of Ruin are an outlawed cult dedicated to Vokara. The Knights of Ruin revere Vokara in her aspect of the Lady of Undeath, and the majority of the sect is comprised of undead creatures, such as vampires, ghouls, and liches. The mortal members of the cult aspire to undeath. The Knights see the People’s Covenant as guilty of obfuscating two holy truths: life is a curse to be transcended and the eternal existence granted by undeath is a sacred reprieve from mortal frailty. The Knights view the mortal world as an abject failure—they wish to enact a powerful necromantic rite that will turn the world into a blighted paradise for the unliving.

Long live the dead flesh.

  • Undeath is a sanctified state of being.
  • Mortals are nothing more than prey and beasts of burden.
  • Undeath is the only sure route to immortality.
  • Complete the horrid ritual that will usher in the Abdead Ascendancy.
  • Commit murder as a sacramental offering to Vokara.

  • Recover a unique artifact capable of the mass production of animate skeletons.
  • Free a Knight imprisoned in Bleakbone Gaol.
  • Assist a vampire hunted by fanatical slayers of the undead.

If you like the content above (or any of the content here), consider checking out Umberwell: Blackened Be Thy Name, system agnostic New Weird city setting, now available in print and pdf from DriveThruRPG. It's also currently on sale!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Christmas in July Sale

All of the pdfs published by Dolorous Exhumation Press are currently on sale as part of DriveThruRPG's Christmas in July Sale!

The Liberation of Wormwood is on sale for $4.49. The Liberation of Wormwood is a kit for creating a campaign in which the characters attempt to overthrow a usurper who has taken control of their hometown.

Umberwell: Blackened Be Thy Name is on sale for $7.49. Umberwell is a weird fantasy city setting inspired by the works of China Mieville and Dishonored.

Krevborna: A Gothic Blood Opera is on sale for $7.49. Krevborna is a Gothic setting inspired by Bloodbourne and Eastern European folklore.

Cinderheim: The Land Under the Demon Sun is on sale for $4.49. Cinderheim is an apocalyptic setting inspired by sword & sorcery and Weird West fiction.

Hexmoon Sabbath: A Folk Horror Doom is on sale for $1.49. Hexmoon Sabbath presents three witches ready to invade the setting of your choice.

There's never been a better time to complete your collection of Dolorous Exhumation Press's offerings!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Best of 2019 (So Far)

Jack and Kate look at what they've been reading and watching so far in 2019 and make some recommendations in the world of books and beyond. The rules of engagement are simple: the hosts each choose one movie, album, TV show, book and "wild card" from any category that was the best experience of its kind encountered during the first half of 2019.
Follow your hosts as they talk about gritty frontier justice, bloodthirsty demons, various forms of heavy music from across the globe, and the joys of powder-coating among many, many more topics.
BBfBP theme song by True Creature 
Find us at, on Twitter @badbooksbadppl, Instagram @badbooksbadpeople and on Facebook. You can discover where to get all the books featured on Bad Books for Bad People on ourAbout Page.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Two Flavors of Monk

I recently re-watched Enter the Dragon. No surprise, it's still fantastic. But, as I was watching the Bolo fight sequences I was again struck by how poorly the 5e D&D monk models the brawn-based style of martial arts. You can do a monk who uses strength to punch suckers out in the rules as written, but unfortunately that puts you in the unfortunate position of relying on three attributes (Str, Dex, Wis) instead of just two (Dex, Wis).

Here's a house rules that fixes that: At character creation, a player can choose to use Strength for any monk class features that reference Dexterity. 

What does this look like in practice? Let's take a look at a couple features rewritten with the house rule above taken into account:

Beginning at 1st level, while you are wearing no armor and not wielding a shield, your AC equals 10 + your Strength modifier + your Wisdom modifier.

Starting at 3rd level, you can use your reaction to deflect or catch the missile when you are hit by a ranged weapon attack. When you do so, the damage you take from the attack is reduced by 1d10 + your Strength modifier + your monk level.


* * *

It seems clear that the Way of Four Elements monk is meant to provide an Avatar-esque character option. Unfortunately, it's in the running for worst-designed subclass in the Player's Handbook and is sure to disappoint anyone hoping to play Korra or Aang.

The problems with the subclass are many: if you compare the spells it gives you access to, they cost too much ki to use and you get too few of them. Compare what this subclass offers in comparison to the Way of Shadows subclass and the problem is obvious. Also, the features it gives you are poorly scheduled in terms of level and they're often going to be way less useful than the monk's core features.

It's tempting to adjust the subclass by giving more access to the elemental abilities, repricing the ki cost for using them, and maybe make the attack options usable with bonus actions, but...that sounds like a lot more work than it's worth.

Instead, if what you're after is a monk that has elemental blasts, just use the Way of the Radiant Soul subclass and swap out the damage types of its features for elemental damage types. (Bludgeoning for earth, water, and air, cold if you want to, fire, etc.) Hell, you could let the player choose per attack and it still wouldn't be unbalanced.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Tenoch the Devourer

The people of Zulot regard Tenoch as something more than just their leader; to them, he is a destructive force of nature. His ravenous hunger is legendary—Tenoch the Devourer has been known to publicly feast upon the bodies of his foes. Whether or not his enemies are dead when he sets his mandibles upon them makes little difference to Tenoch.
  • Appearance. Mantisfolk, dark green exoskeleton, four arms ending in clawed pincers, fearsome mandibles.
  • Abilities. Blade-wielding dervish, inspires loyalty through fear.
  • Traits. Predatory, unable to feel remorse.
  • Ideal. Consume every living creature within Cinderheim.
  • Bond. Tenoch believes that he has been chosen by Zulor to grow stronger by consuming life.
  • Flaw. Nothing ever sates Tenoch’s hunger, and this causes him to be in a state of perpetual pain.
  • Warband. Mantisfolk warriors led by elite janissaries, bolstered by enslaved warriors.

  • Janissaries. Tenoch’s janissaries are fanatical mantisfolk warriors who adorn themselves with the bones of the vanquished.
  • The Ebony Procession. The Ebony Procession are twelve towering golems crafted from black basalt.
  • Trade emissaries. The traders sent from Zulot are notoriously sly and underhanded, and it is widely suspected that they act as spies seeking weaknesses to be exploited within the other encampments.
Zulot is the most bellicose of the encampments, and the most reliant on raiding and pillaging to sustain itself. The warbands of Zulot take more than just mundane foodstuffs and material goods—they are notorious for enslaving their victims as thrall soldiers, grub farm laborers, or as potential meals for Tenoch.
  • Population. Half of the population are mantisfolk; the other half of the population are spiderfolk, scorpionfolk, and slaves of other races.
  • Aesthetic. Buildings like large termite mounds made of bones, mantisfolk saliva, and desert grit.
  • Supplies. Edible grubs, cotton, linen, silk. Water is drawn from deep wells at the center of the encampment.
  • Grub farms. Water from Zulot’s wells maintains soil-beds where beetle grubs, one of the primary foodstuffs eaten by the residents of the encampment, are nurtured.
  • The Boulevard of the Broken. This street in Zulot is lined with wooden stakes upon which the half-eaten bodies of those who have displeased Tenoch the Devourer are displayed as a warning against dissent.
  • The House of the Maw. The House of the Maw is a temple dedicated to Zulor, the Red Hunger. The vengeful visit the Maw to be blessed with the skill to hunt their foes to the ends of the earth.

  • Steal enough grubs from the grub farms to feed a starving village at the outskirts of Tenoch’s territory.
  • Free an important slave before Tenoch eats them.
  • Disenchant the Ebony Procession before it can be used in an act of war.
  • Defile the House of the Maw to break the janissaries’ morale.

If you like the content above (or any of the content here), consider checking out Cinderhein: The Land Under the Demon Sun, a system agnostic apocalyptic fantasy setting, now available in print and pdf from DriveThruRPG.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Where They Sleep

Sometimes the really memorable moments in a game aren't the triumphant combats or the tense final death save. Sometimes they're the quiet moments. 

This is something I think about a lot: a while back, in a game in which we were playing a gang of criminals turned neighborhood protectors, the DM asked us to be prepared to talk about where our characters slept. When they weren't being adventurers and running a shady business, what did their lives look like?

I found myself taking a lot of notes on what the other players brought to the table. I already knew their characters from weeks of play, but it was amazing to get a glimpse into who they were when they weren't risking life and limb in pursuit of gold and power.

The characters: 

Goliath eldritch knight fighter
Bronte occupies the top floor of a ramshackle tower that has been built out of the remnants of a crashed airship. His bedroom has been pieced together from the ship's cockpit. His rooms in the tower are absolutely crammed full of junk and scavenged debris. Scrolls and books about magic litter the floor. He also has the bad habit of leaving half-eaten containers of take-away food strewn throughout his flat. Bronte smokes innumerable cigarettes on his balcony while he watches the to-and-fro of the city's residents.

Human circle of dreams druid
Hayseed is an unkempt country bumpkin who seems ill-adjusted to life in the big city. Hayseed has a shaggy beard, dirty threadbare clothes, and a smell that one would associate with a countryside barn. Hayseed rents a small house nestled among the gigantic trees of Kenweth Park. Inside, Hayseed's house is immaculate and the many potted flowers he keeps lend the place a highly perfumed and fresh scent. He has a piece of furniture that looks like a library card catalog, but inside it has neatly organized packets of seeds.

Half-elf college of whispers bard/hexblade warlock
Kallisto has carved out a bedroom in the basement in the basement of the gang's munitions factory. No one knows about this room; it's tucked away in storage space where no one ever goes. Although Kallisto takes pains to present herself as a well-dressed, stylish business woman, her room is extremely spartan. She owns very little in the way of personal effects, save for one solograph print of her with her bother, an anarchist who is currently on the run from the vengeful forces of the law.

Gnome chaos sorcerer
Gumdrop maintains an apartment above a candy store. The street is quiet and the families who live on it are solidly middle class. She never keeps food in her apartment, preferring to eat at the noodle stand down the street. Her apartment is absolutely filled with plush animals. Anyone who comes into her living space is likely to be terrified by the quality of plush animals lurking throughout the apartment--it isn't cute, it's vaguely but intensely off-putting.

Changeling assassin rogue/battlemaster fighter
The party knows Wax as a stone-cold, hardened killer; due to assuming and discarding identities continually as a changeling, he has little sense of self--no inner core. The other characters in the party are honestly a little afraid of him. What they don't know is that he has a secret life of warm, prosaic attachment. Wax rents a room in a working-class family's home. When he returns to his quarters, he assumes the likeness and persona of an utterly plain factory worker. When at home, he partakes of his landlords' family life--he takes his meals with them, sharing in their joys and sorrows. These moments are the only time when he actually enjoys life.