Spilled Ale Studios: State of the Spilled Ale Address

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog front, and I think it’s high time I post an update! There’s a few reasons I’ve not been as proactive with blog content as I would like to be, some personal, others because of productivity in other areas. It’s on these latter I’d like to focus—so, what have I been up to?

Those of you who follow me on twitter likely already know that Spilled Ale Studios has not been completely off the grid. I’ve pushed a few products out in the last few months. Back in mid-March I posted an update about Heroes of Song and the first issue of Monstrous Monograph. Since then, without any fanfare on the blog, another issue of Monstrous Monograph was released.

Monstrous Monograph: Humanoids Volume I

This volume of the Monstrous Monograph is slightly larger than previous installment, clocking in at 12 pages. This time the focus is on new humanoid species, grouped by theme—specifically, all four of the included species might be found living in or around deserts and arid plains.

  • Anubans are a species of jackal-like humanoids inspired by ancient egyptian culture and the egyptian pantheon. Anubans believe Anubis, the god of the afterlife, to be head of the pantheon (rather than Ra-Horakhty), and they look forward to the day they will join their creator in the underworld. As such, they have no fear of death. Anubans make no distinction between arcane and divine magic, believing both to be gifts from the gods. As such anuban priests practice wizardry. Statblocks include the CR 3 Anuban Priest, the CR 7 Anuban High Priest, and the CR 3 Anuban Tomb Watcher, a kind of guardian mummy that protects the tombs of important anuban figures. 
  • Bardar are a race of energy vampires who can absorb the life of a person simply through touch. They believe themselves a superior species, and are a greedy, selfish breed. They dwell in imposing walled cities, and are universally despised by their neighbours due to their proclivities toward conquest and slave-taking.    Statblocks include the CR 2 Bardar Tempest, elite soldiers drawn from the lesser aristocracy, and the CR 3 Bardar Fury, brutal martial artists who act as enforcers for the Autocrat.  
  • Khione are a planetouched bloodline descended from the Dao, genies of Earth. Though as flexible as normal flesh, their bodies resemble stone, giving them the appearance of living statues. Khione society is matriarchal, and the vast majority of their culture’s positions of power and influence belong to women. Statblocks include the CR 5 Khione Cyclone, a scimitar-wielding dervish, and the CR 6 Khione Priestess.
  • The CR 2 Kisarans are seminomadic feline humanoids. They are exceptional hunters, training with a bow from childhood. Master archers, kisarans head out on a ritual hunt as a rite of passage into adulthood. Some never return, instead choosing to explore other lands. Such individuals invariably end up as mercenaries, earning their way with their exceptional archery skills. 
  • Included statblocks represent the most unique members of a given race’s society. For more varied encounters with members of these species, pair the statblocks here with others from the monstrous manual’s Appendix B: Nonplayer Characters. 

There’s a bit of extra content in this one, too! Because all the “monsters” this time are humanoid, I decided to include racial bonuses in case you want to allow them as player options. In addition, some of the statblocks use new spells, the rules for all of which are fleshed out in an appendix, “Monstrous Magics”. The appendix includes four new cantrips and spells: earthlord’s fury, sand blast, sand shell, and sand sword

Elminster’s Eldritch Esoterica: Power of Blood

Today, I also released the first in what I hope will become a new product line providing supplementary rules for unconventional magical practices.

Elminster is, of course, the Archmage of Shadowdale. One of the most famous nonplayer characters of the Forgotten Realms, it’s only possible to use Elminster’s name thanks to the terms of the DM’sGuild license. That means you’ll find this issue, and any others, exclusively on that platform.

The first volume of the new collection is Power of Blood, which provides a simple take on “Blood Magic”. The idea is this: all magic has a cost, and usually that amounts to tapping some of the caster’s personal reserve of magical power (spell slots). However, some spells are particularly draining. Over the course of millennia, spellcasters have learned to pay magic’s price in other ways so such spells don’t drain too much of their power. These sacrifices have become material, codified as material components of significant value (those with gold piece values). However, there are other ways to pay the toll of such draining spells. Perhaps the oldest method is sacrificing some of one’s own vitality, or stealing that life force from others.

Power of Blood provides rules for using one’s own hit points to offset the absence of a material component. Also included is guidance for stealing the blood of others, including use of the blood of an enemy mid-battle.

Valiant Vigilantes!

I’ve begun work on a game of superheroic roleplaying intended to let the group play members of a non-powered crimefighting team (think Batman and the other members of the “Bat Family”). I’m building the rules using Cortex, the system by Cam Banks of Magic Vacuum Design Studio, who developed it for Margaret Weis Productions. Variations of Cortex have been used in many RPGs for licensed properties including Firefly, Leverage, Smallville, and Marvel Heroic Roleplaying (the latter two proving it works just fine for superheroic play!). As with D&D‘s OGL, there’s a community creator program for Cortex which I’m taking advantage of. A new toolkit version of the system—Cortex Prime—is also due to release very soon! My current aim for Valiant Vigilantes! is to finish the rules and get most of the writing done asap, then seek funding (eg. via Kickstarter) for art, an editor, etc. The goal is that the finished product will be released as PDF and print on demand (with the kickstarter including backer options that include a print on demand voucher). This push is probably the largest reason for my relative inactivity here on the blog.

Okay, so what about Fifth Edition Fallout?

Great question! I’ve definitely not forgotten about Fifth Edition Fallout, but I’m not working on updates at the same feverish pace I was maintaining before.

At this stage, Fifth Edition Fallout is completely usable:

  • A fully functioning rules hack.
  • Plenty of player options, eg. backgrounds, lots and lots of equipment, and exhaustive advice on which official classes and archetypes can work for post-apocalyptic play, along with how to adapt them.
  • Optionally, my Wasteland Wanderers product replaces the core game’s classes and archetypes with options suitable for post-apocalyptic play. Naturally, this product works perfectly combined with Fifth Edition Fallout, enhancing the hack yet further.
  • At last count, 273 monster statblocks! Not including a few variant options described in sidebars.
  • Did I mention the 1st-level adventure I wrote, A Date With the Queen? Well I probably should. It’s a good way to start your campaign or to test out the rules before you get going with your own.

Is there more I can add? Sure. A few people have mentioned backgrounds or weapons they’d like to see added, and there are types of monsters and NPC factions missing from the bestiary (the Enclave and Synths, for instance). And I sure as heck want to keep fleshing out my homebrew setting, Fallen Britain. Do I need to add any of that urgently? I’m pretty sure I don’t. With the sheer amount of included content, a GM can already run a campaign for a good long time without having to worry about what’s missing. A few GMs already are!

If you’ve not discovered it yet, may I draw your attention to the DumpStatCharisma crew’s King’s Ransom? They’ve set their game in the wasteland of Seattle, and are having a nuclear blast!

That’s not all! Forgebreaker Gaming have announced their own game: The Brotherhood. They’ve decided to modify the rules somewhat for their game (which is fine by me—Fifth Edition Fallout is a rules hack, by all means hack it some more!), but the work I’ve done is right there at the core.

I’m surprised and humbled that two streaming groups have already adopted Fifth Edition Fallout! At the same time, I hope that in the fullness of time they won’t be the last! There’s a lot of overlap between love of D&D and love of Fallout. How awesome would it be for this to become a genre of play that pops up fairly regularity, and for my rules to be a part of that? Fingers crossed!

Anyway, back to the point—I’m by no means abandoning Fifth Edition Fallout. I just believe it’s reached a point where it actually works as is, even if it’s not reached its final form. I can safely slow down from the mad rush that was my previous pace, and I really ought to. One thing I must always remember is that developing Fifth Edition Fallout is fun, but it’s never profitable. As someone else’s IP, I can never dream to profit from the work I’ve done here. I don’t regret it, and I won’t regret future development, but I have to remember that it’s okay to put my own projects first.

In the meantime, I’m considering opening up a section of the wiki for homebrewed content. That way, anyone GMing Fifth Edition Fallout who ends up creating a statblock or anything else that’s missing from the “official” rules can share it with the community.

Speaking of Fifth Edition Fallout, are you guys going to finish The Hunt for Spring-Heeled Jack?

That’s still very much the plan.

If I were to stream a longterm campaign of Fifth Edition Fallout, which I’d actually love to do, I’d look for a group who are more local to myself. But this particular game was envisioned as a celebration, and I wanted to invite the twitter followers who were most enthusiastic and vocal in their support of my work on Fifth Edition Fallout. As a byproduct of that the crew are very international, and some of them have a lot of prior commitments. It’s been difficult getting the group to commit to a date to continue. Providing my players remain willing, we will do so, no matter how long it takes. We will also endeavour to give a couple of weeks notice before play time, and if you do end up missing it live the videos will always be available on youtube. You can catch the first episode here, warts and all.