Posts by Steve Winter

Bemmean Wizard

Warlock’s Apprentice: Spells from the Fire

These spells are suitable for a campaign that visits the City of Brass or that takes place in a setting where fire, heat, and the desert loom large, such as the Southlands. They’re geared toward wizards, but there’s no reason why sorcerers and warlocks—or even clerics and druids—can’t have access to them if you decide …

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Howling Tower: Cardtography and the Wilderness

The Wilderness The cardtography method can be used to lay out a wilderness area just as easily as a dungeon. All that’s needed is an encounter grid tailored to your particular wilderness. Creating the grid isn’t much more difficult than building a table of random encounters since that’s essentially what it is. A wilderness area …

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Howling Tower: Cardtography and Multi-Level Dungeons

Multi-Level Dungeons We’ve covered the basics of how to lay out the cards, how to connect the cards, and how to decide what each card represents in a simple dungeon. In this installment, we look at ways to create a more involved, multi-level complex. If we’re talking about a dungeon (and for the time being, …

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Howling Tower: Cardtography, a Simple Dungeon

A Simple Dungeon The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate why playing cards are such a potent choice for generating our environment. We didn’t choose cards as our randomizers because they’re somewhat room-shaped. That’s a happy coincidence. The real reason is because they have information embedded on them, and we can use that information …

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Howling Tower: Cardtography

Cardtography: The Basics Since the introduction of computer RPGs, randomly generated dungeons are everywhere. Software developers prefer to call them procedurally generated rather than random because they aren’t truly random; they’re created according to a rigid procedure. Developing a procedure that spits out satisfying dungeons is a popular problem among programmers, and the web is …

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Howling Tower: Monster Stats, Part 5

This installment is about deconstructing dragons. The Monster Manual contains 20 chromatic dragons, 20 metallic dragons, 1 shadow dragon, and 1 undead dragon. The Tome of Monsters and the Southlands Bestiary introduce several more. With all those stat blocks spread over three books, you’d expect to find plenty of variety—and you’d be right. But even …

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Howling Tower: Monster Stats, Part 4

This installment, you get a break from graphs and formulas—though not entirely. In honor of Thanksgiving, I had to include some pie charts. Instead of plotting trends, however, this time we count how often certain concepts occur throughout the Monster Manual, to help you get a handle on whether they’re common, uncommon, or rare. Before …

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Monster Philosophy

We’ve been very pleased with the positive reaction to the Tome of Beasts previews, even—maybe even especially—when readers point out places where we’ve added numbers incorrectly or overlooked a modifier. In a few cases, however, readers have called out features as errors that we don’t consider errors at all. Instead, they’re cases where our philosophy …

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Howling Tower: Monster Stats

In the year since fifth edition came out, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time deconstructing its monsters and putting them back together again. The lessons I’ve learned have been invaluable when developing new creatures for third-party monster collections such as Fifth Edition Foes from Necromancer Games and Southlands Bestiary and Tome of Beasts from …

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Howling Tower: Rules Are Your Frenemy

This is the final installment in a series of six articles for players hoping to get the best possible experience from their time around the RPG table. Roleplaying game rules are wonderful things. I’ve spent decades pulling them apart, refining and polishing every piece, and putting them back together so they purr and growl like …

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Howling Tower: Expect Things to Go Wrong

(This is the fifth installment in a series of articles for players hoping to get the best possible experience from their time around the RPG table.) “Adventures, in retrospect, are pieces of extremely bad luck that missed a fatal ending.” ―Lawrence Griswold, Tombs, Travel and Trouble It’s a shame that Lawrence Griswold isn’t better known …

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