Friday, December 26, 2014

The Hallowed: Mortal Agents of Celestial Will

While passing the time(and more importantly serving to distract myself) in the days before my recent spinal surgery and again afterwards I found myself tinkering on a little project of sorts. I believe the initial seed for the whole thing, the proverbial pebble that started it all was an idea that came to me when I became curious about making an aasimar warlock based roughly on Constantine. While working on that character I began to ponder the nature of warlocks in general and how at their core it could easily make sense for a sort of holy warlock to exist.

Just consider it for a moment. A warlock, in D&D is in essence a spellcasting class that is bound into the service of a dark power or extra-planar/outsider being in exchange for secrets, magic etc. They cast arcane spells but they aren't quite wizards by any means or even quite sorcerers. In short they are a bit of an odd duck among the arcane classes.

Now, what if you stripped them of the thematic elements of evil and dark magics (or, yes - the whole grey area middle ground regarding outsiders like elder gods or archfey entities) in favor of their opposite. Instead of being beholden to fiends, outsider elder gods or even archfey you could have them sworn to serve angels or other celestial entities. Replacing the dark/foreign magics and arcane tricks at their disposal is divine magic and holy abilities to aid them in their appointed tasks.

The end creation, in the strictest sense of the word would be someone who was hallowed; blessed and chosen to preform as the mortal hand to a celestial's will. Among these 'Hallowed' are three different celestial aspects, each one based on the type of duty they are charged with. These aspects include: Swords, Shields and Cloaks. Hallowed Swords seek do battle with the minions of evil, Hallowed Shields protect the innocent from harm and Hallowed Cloaks act as agents of celestial authority or scouts wherever they are needed.

In the process of shaping the class into a fully detailed write-up like any official class within the player's hand book I also crafted or 're-themed' some new spells that fit along with the concept. The most predominant new spell, one that in many ways is a hallmark of the class is a divine cantrip; called Faith Blade. Basically, it allows the Hallowed to form a weapon, created by their very faith itself in order to fight their foes. In so many ways it is a sort of counterpoint to the warlock's eldritch blast spell - it gives them an attack that they can use that is tailor suited to the class without being overpowered. For the Hallowed, that magic is used in melee combat where warlocks instead blast at you from range.

Overall, I do believe the class fits in a similar capacity as a divine odd duck where the warlock is an arcane one. Hallowed aren't quite the powerful combat class as paladins but they don't quite have the range or scope of a cleric. You could say that the Hallowed did indeed become a sort of Holy Warlock or even a Divine Sorcerer in many regards. Depending on the aspect, what began as a divine class based as a mirrored opposite to the warlock soon became a mix of pieces drawn from bards, clerics, paladins and more. The finished product though, is nothing short of its own unique identity.

So, I'd like to make the Hallowed class available to anyone interested in trying them out or to those who simply find the thematic niche they fill missing from their games and worth adding. Here is is available in either Microsoft Word format or PDF.

If you are using my Digital Dossier character utility for 5th Edition, then here are three example builds to showcase each of the Hallowed's celestial aspect types:
Caelynn Liadon, Moon Elf Hallowed Sword 1st Level
Vondal BrightShield, Mountain Dwarf Hallowed Shield 1st Levcl
Carric Amberweave, Half Elf Hallowed Cloak 1st Level

Each pre-generated character is a complete write-up with background notes to provide a basic idea of how they came to become a Hallowed and/or why they chose to become bound into service. I won't claim they are all novel concepts or brilliant conceived but they do give some idea into the nature of the Hallowed class as a whole. Feel free to use them in your games as npc's or for player-use. If nothing else, I hope they might help inspire your own interesting ideas for a character or story.

As always, I am all ears regarding any feedback, opinions or thoughts.

Have fun playing and making stories to share. This began as something to preoccupy myself but became a sort-of labor of love. I had a blast crafting it and, at least to me also opens up a whole new cluster of interesting characters with which to play with. Hopefully you'll agree! Enjoy!

For where warlocks walk in darkness, beholden to shadows, Hallowed tread in the service of light, willingly sworn to serve when called upon. Wielding their very faith itself, Hallowed stand against evil in any form, ready to combat it at every turn.

- Regarding and in response to the question of why Hallowed are a viable option for players as opposed to an unnecessary one where players could simply play a cleric instead:

Granted an obvious question is why not just make them as another cleric devoted to a deity, why make them beholden to a lesser being instead? Which is a valid point, one that merits consideration. A paladin is a crusading champion of good, devoted to some cause or ideal. Clerics are themselves devoted priests to a particular deity themselves. Both are great character types, ones that are established, well known and familiar/recognizable. Much like how wizards are among the arcane classes and fighters are among the martial ones. Yet, there exists oddball blends between them like the bard, there are even fighter-wizard types like the eldritch knight. Hallowed exist within that same sort of mixed crossover space. They lack the potent martial prowess of the paladin, as well as their ability to channel divinity. When compared to clerics they enjoy a narrower scope of spells (even if they do garner access to many that a cleric simply doesn't have available), nor are they able to provide the full healing and/or the raw divine power to turn/destroy undead. Instead what the Hallowed have at their disposal is a unique knack, a niche for being a blend of battle-casting divine magic users, some flexibility for magical support, the ability to fight on their own to a degree and an overall capacity to fill in a themed roll based on their celestial aspect, one that is rich in flavor much like any warlock. If you ask yourself who would want to play a Hallowed instead of just making another cleric, the easy answer with which to counter that notion is this: who would want to play a warlock when they could just make another wizard. It lies in variety, in tastes and feel. Instead of an angel or celestial appearing to oppose the forces of darkness, wouldn't it be interesting to see an agent acting on their behalf - one invested with a measure of their holy power? It only seems somewhat more believable and/or balanced to have a 1st level player character who has been chosen or called into the service of a deva to act as their voice or intermediary in comparison to one who has a fiendish/elder god/archfey patron.

Hallowed © Matthew C. Gill 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

They're Back: A Clutch Of Kobolds Are Under The Tree!

I've mentioned the old 'Kobold Rating Calculator' before. It was born out of a single question; just how many kobolds would it take to overrun a player's character? Virtually every player has ran into an angry clutch of kobolds. They've all experienced the same simple truth; while deceptively weak one on one, these critters can get dangerous in numbers fast.

With all this in mind I wrote a simple program to calculate through a very basic simulated combat how many kobolds it would take to overrun that character. The original version had one fundamental flaw however; it was designed under a very strict time-frame that required a certain degree of finality. In short; it was a final project for a college programming course. Much to my own regret in order to complete the project at the time and have it function I had to make certain alterations to its intended objective.

Instead of having it test the player's character against an ever growing horde of kobold combatants it just threw one after another lone kobolds against the character, resetting their hit points each time until the player was finally bested by the monster. This meant that the program did function and did so in a way that to those unfamiliar with the actual premise was concerned made for a completed objective.

However, it is something that has always bothered me ever since and one that quite recently I decided that I perhaps now had the better understanding(and time) to rectify. So with that in mind(and the fact that in two days time I am most undeniably about to be out of commission for the foreseeable future) I would like to share a completely revised take on the Kobold Rating Calculator.

This newer rendition is more to the intended design goal of what the original was planned to be. The user can input their character's name, their own and the combat stats for their fictional hero(attack modifier, damage modifier, hit points, armor class and damage die). Using that information the program then generates a basic no frills fight against a single kobold's combat stats. Nothing is considered regarding range, surprise attacks, special tactics or the like. This is just a simple your attack versus theirs face to face kind of fight.

You can imagine it all happening like this; you find your character trapped all alone down in some dark dungeon or mountain mine shaft with only a single trusty weapon at their side and a growing number of kobolds starting to become aware of their presence. How many can they handle all on their own before they are overwhelmed? Can your 1st level wizard actually challenge more than a single kobold on their own? Can a mighty half-orc fighter lay waste to half a dozen? Now you have a metric with which to measure that along with a means to do it.

This updated Kobold Rating Calculator also features some vast improvements over its predecessor. The most important and obvious of which is that it can increment the number of foes all the way up to a group of 10 kobolds strong(currently, plans are to increase this size limit further if this initial version proves itself to move past this alpha/beta release). Also included within is a hall of fame record similar to the original where the user can record their name and rating. But one new aspect is the inclusion of a combat log where a generated account is made available of a blow by blow as it were of the battle.

There are still, unfortunately, limits that I have had to maintain. Since this first build only is designed to deal with a very fundamental aspect of combat and only scales up to 10 kobolds attack and damage modifiers cap out at 10, armor class at 20, hit points at 100 and damage dice at 2d12. Forgive me if this seems pale or inflexible enough but I thought it best to design this first release with low level characters in mind to start. Over time I do hope to grow this to handle much more powerful characters and potentially even handle much more 'creative' combat as the like with which most players are known for.

The Kobold Rating generated will be a figure between 0(if you die fighting a single kobold) up to 10(for those who slaughter all 10 without meeting their own demise). Should your character die at the hands of, say, a group of 4 kobolds(whether due to bad rolls or simply because you couldn't put up enough of a fight against that many) then it will provide you with the number of those creatures you did manage to beat(that number being 3 in this hypothetical instance).

All in all, this should be considered a work of novelty and humorous entertainment. In no way does the Kobold Rating Calculator provide you with a definitive evaluation of your character's inherent successfulness or failure. The real strength of any character you build lies in the fun you have playing it and the stories you can enjoy telling about it. The number of monsters it can dispatch single-handedly is of little real value. Although, there is something to be said in being able to know exactly how many kobolds you can take down all on your own even if the rest of your party thinks you are a liability in combat encounters...

So, even though it is still early yet(like I said I may not get another chance before hand) let me share with one and all a little gift this Christmas;
The Kobold Rating Calculator(Revised) - Direct Download
*Requires the 4.5 .Net Framework available from Microsoft. Just unzip and runs from the Kobold Rating Calculator(Revised).exe inside the folder.
For this and other programming projects by myself you can check out my Glitched Grimore.

I hope you enjoy the work, and are entertained. And, as always; feel free to report any problems, complaints or opinions back to me.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Digital Dossier; D.D. For Your D&D 5th Edition.

[Edit] Released an updated version of Digital Dossier on 1/20/2015. This newest build should resolve an issue where shield ac bonuses aren't being included into the total armor class when it is calculated. Also, bundled with this version is a folder containing a collection of pre-made characters. These characters are from a wide ranging variety of classes and races, suitable for use as npc's, examples or even as pre-made pc's to jump into a game with. I had included an installer for the 4.5 .Net Framework in the zip file but due to size limitations had to remove it. This shouldn't be a problem, however if you do have any trouble or an issue develops; let me know. Currently this version has both run and been installed on a Windows 7 and a Windows 8.1 machine. Enjoy, have fun and make some memorable stories to share.

[Edit] As of 7 A.M. CST on 12/6/2014 The 5th release of Digital Dossier is now live and in available in the form of a zipped folder. All that you have to do is ensure that you have the 4.5 .net framework(available for free from Microsoft and already included on most pc's already running windows), extract the files and run the setup. This newest release should fix all the previous issues including an installation problem as well as address a variety of user-interface ones as well. It provides a much more friendly interface lay out that allows more detail space from the user all while (hopefully) also helping to keep everything visible for reference and printing. Happy tales to you, and as always - if you find any flaw, issue or idea for improvement just send it my way and I'll try to tackle it right away.

So for about a week and a half I have been working on a little project of my own. It isn't perfect, nor do I profess it as a thing of any overwhelming aesthetic - however it so far appears to be a functional tool. I am releasing it now as a preliminary build so that it may be put to use, tested and evaluated. May it be of use to you, may you tell great tales and enjoy in their telling.

Direct Download *Requires 4.5 .Net Framework
Digital Dossier along with my Digital Pathfinder Sheet(D.P.S) can be found here:

As an example/sample here is an already made character file you can load in Digital Dossier to see it filled out: Silverbells the Elven Sorceress by Eslyn Gill

Stay tuned, in the coming days you'll find a release of an entire collection of pre-built pc's to use as well. Should you find any issues with the software, ideas for improvement or anything at all feel free to notify me immediately. This is only an initial release - one that I hope will see newer iterations in the near future.

Matthew C. Gill