For some reason I managed to spend more money on D&D stuff in the twelve months after 3rd Edition's release, than I did in the five years before that. Put it down to Wizards' (or Hasbro's) evil mind control rays.
There are many places to get good advice on D&D and roleplaying in general. There are also many places to get bad advice on D&D and roleplaying in general. When you can tell the difference between the two, is when you have achieved enlightenment.
Here's some idle content for you, since you were so nice to come to this page. Comments and criticisms would be much appreciated; in particular, if you intend to use any of this material in your campaign, I'd like to know what changes you'd make, and your reasons for making them. All original gaming material on this site is released as Open Game Content under the OGL. That includes everything except Britannia 3E and the Bo9S-derived material, basically. In addition, all material is 3.5E compatible. Thanks to everyone on the various online forums who took the time to critique these.
Latest update (11 June 2007): Added the marksman adept class, a ranged combat counterpart for the swordsage.
A notable omission from the Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords is any discipline dealing with ranged combat. Most odd, since there is already a prestige class (order of the bow initiate) that shares much the same feel. Here's two to fill the gap.
The marksman adept, a ranged counterpart to the swordsage. Good for both Zen archers and machine-gun-wielding skirmishers.
Class variants to use the Bo9S material. So far, a ranger variant to use the above disciplines, and a version of the Jade Phoenix mage that uses maneuver slots to power both maneuvers and spells.
Iron Heroes has the concept of a villain class, which is a simplified, NPC-only class used to create antagonists for the party. I like the concept, so I've been making some villain classes for D&D. These also make use of Bo9S mechanics.
Each of these also has tables of (nearly) all relevant stats laid out for convenience, plus sample characters at 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th level.
I've never been entirely satisfied with the role that magic items play in D&D. Innate magic is the latest hack that I've come up with. The idea is to allow easy access to the "big six" stat boosters — which are necessary for character survival but lack something in flavour — while retaining a place for actual magic items. Thus (the effects of) a utilitarian +5 sword or ring of protection can be obtained with a minimum of fuss, while a holy sword or winged boots (items with a bit more pizzazz) would have to be found or crafted.
If you want something more elaborate, here's an earlier set of rules for imbuing magic items. These are essentially the same as the magic item creation guidelines in the DMG, but substituting XP for gold.
Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar is probably my favourite CRPG of all time, followed closely by Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny. Because I have too much time on my hands, I've taken the liberty of converting the setting to D&D. The main source of rules content, in addition to the core books, is Oriental Adventures, as well as the class splatbooks (first 3E, then 3.5).
Why OA, I hear you ask? Basically, because I like the book. The plot for U4 is also a thinly-disguised version of Buddhism/Taoism's quest for enlightenment, so there's a convenient handwave if you need one. Be aware, though, that I haven't bothered to follow Ultima canon particularly closely; if this sort of thing matters to you, it may thus not be to your liking.
Enter Britannia 3E
These are two of the classic archetypes of myth and legend, so I thought I'd lump them together. Both are conversions of material in Oriental Adventures; the knight is based on the samurai, and the priest is based on the shaman.
The knight is a noble warrior and embodiment of the heroic ideal, as seen through western eyes. The class mechanics are based on the samurai from OA, which struck me as being particularly appropriate for the underlying archetype. You can think of it as a cross between a cavalier and a paladin, without the cavalry specifics of the former and the religious overtones of the latter. In fact, it can serve as a handy paladin replacement, if you're so inclined.
The priest is a healer, counsellor, servant of the faith, and more. This class is meant to serve as a generic divine spellcasting class. The PHB cleric is really an "adventuring priest" or "crusading priest", and its skillset reflects that (notably in its heavy armour proficiency, base attack bonus, and saving throw bonuses). Such a character can be represented as a multiclassed barbarian/priest, fighter/priest or knight/priest, depending on the underlying culture.
The martial artist is an unarmoured warrior who uses swiftness, agility and precision to defeat her enemies. This class draws on the same sources of inspiration as the standard monk class, but is more flexible. In terms of abilities it's similar to a cross between a rogue and a fighter, with slightly less raw stamina than the latter but (I think) more panache. Although the monk is strongly influenced by Asian wuxia and ninja movies, to the extent that it's hard to think of it as anything but a kung-fu guy, there's no reason a martial artist has to have an eastern background. A duelist with a rapier, for example, can be built quite easily using this class — in fact, see the Flashing Sword duelist below as an example of a prestige class based on this concept.
If you're going to use the martial artist, you should probably look at the feats listed below. In particular, all of the martial arts feats and most of the combat feats are meant to be used with this class; more than anything else, they make it what it is. There's probably not much point using the class unless you're going to use these feats as well.
Because this class overlaps considerably with the monk in terms of character concepts and abilities, a campaign should probably feature either monks or martial artists (or neither), but not both. In my opinion, it's not a good thing in general to have classes that occupy the same niche. But to each his own.
The martial arts genre is big enough to have spawned at least two third-party d20 splatbooks already, and there's undoubtedly more in the wings. Note that I'm actually not that keen on a super-detailed or accurate treatment of the subject. Most D&D campaigns take place in a quasi-western setting, and monks and martial artists are only one character type out of many. Too much setting-specific and/or historically accurate detail for one class would be incongruous when most of the other classes are purposefully generic. Now if a campaign focused entirely on martial artists, that would be different — but whether D&D is the right ruleset to use for such a campaign is an interesting question.
That said, just having a core class and feats still leaves plenty of scope for expanding and filling in the details. Having schools of martial arts is my way of doing this. I use the system given in OA (and later used in Dragon magazine), whereby taking a collection of prerequisite feats and skills provides a free benefit. This represents mastery of the initial stages of a martial arts style, and also opens the way to a prestige class representing deeper and more advanced knowledge. The individual schools are also given below in the Prestige Classes section of this page.
Schools of martial arts
Making up new feats is one of the easier ways to tinker with your D&D game. The lack of strict rules means you have a lot of freedom in what you come up with. Here are some of my efforts.
Here are several feats drawn (very loosely) from the martial arts genre. I do mean very loosely; you'll find no technique- or maneuver-specific feats here. I think D&D's combat system is too abstract to handle that level of detail very well; instead, I've tried to capture a certain "feel" which would distinguish a martial artist from the other fighting classes (fighter, barbarian, etc).
List of martial arts feats
These should really be called "more combat feats", since the martial arts feats are also mostly to do with combat. These feats, however, are intended just as much for fighters, rogues and other classes as martial artists.
List of combat feats
I don't like how Charisma is often treated as a dump stat in D&D, so I made up some feats to fix this problem. I realise you can get around the problem without tweaking the rules, by "roleplaying". You can get around most rule deficiencies by "roleplaying", but that isn't the point. Besides which, this is my web page, so I can fiddle with the rules as much as I want and you can't do anything about it la la la. Ahem.
List of Charisma-related feats
Most of the feats on this site are combat-oriented, which reflects my view that feats are meant to deal with the combat side of the game: the fighter gets a plethora of bonus feat slots but no-one else does, for instance. However, there are a number of non-combat feats here as well.
List of miscellaneous feats
Here are the 3.0E versions of the martial arts feats and combat feats. Don't say I never do anything for you.
Like feats, prestige classes are a way to tinker with your game. They take a bit more work than feats, for a few reasons. Typically you have to figure out 5 or 10 levels worth of nifty powers, and a progression by which they're gained, with all the attendant balance concerns. Ideally, you'd also think about how the class would fit into the world, and what niche it would occupy. The amount of work thus adds up. Nevertheless, designing prestige classes can be a fun thing to do if, like me, you have too much free time.
(The reason no new prestige classes have appeared since early 2004 is because I no longer have too much free time.)
Each of the following represents a "school" of martial arts, and includes a mastery benefit and the associated prestige class.
I've been playing around with the Hexmapper program, from Arr-Kelaan Software. It's a tiny (<500Kb) Visual Basic utility for generating hex maps, like you'll see in various older RPGs, war games, and related material. Not only is it a useful tool for whipping up maps in a jiffy, it's also a great way to get that retro feel into your game.
Note: the Hexmapper program is not written by me, I'm just a happy user. Please do not send me emails about it or ask for enhancements, because I can't help you. Send emails here instead, although since the last update was in 1999, it looks like the programmer may not be supporting it anymore.
I've embarked on a project to map all of Britannia 3E using Hexmapper. Unfortunately it barfs on a 256x256-square map (which was the size of the game world in Ultima IV and V), so I've chopped it up into quadrants. Here they are, cut down to one-quarter size for your viewing pleasure:
If you'd like the full-size originals, feel free to contact me. They're each 2-3 megabytes in size.
All of these maps were created using a tileset developed by Darraketh, a regular on the EN World boards; I think they're a great improvement on the tiles that are supplied with the program itself. To install it, just unzip the file into the hexes folder under the Hexmapper program directory. Roads, rivers and text labels were added using Paint Shop Pro.
You'll also find some hexmapping-related links on the Links page.
Some new magic items and enchantments.
Using Vitality/Wound Points for D&D (with modifications).
Real Men Don't Play GURPS (or Vampire, for that matter). Based on the infamous Datamation article, "Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal".
Three silly prestige classes:
Two sessions' worth of chronicles of the Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil:
Some webrings you might want to look at:
A log of the changes to this page
Back to main page