Sunday, December 27, 2020

Design Retrospective - The Fanatic


The Fanatic, or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Miraculous


Hey everyone, Jonathon here. Woah, we made a whole class! It was a lot of work, a lot of revisions, and a lot of playtesting, but goodness we really did it. This article is about the Fanatic as a whole, how we got the idea to make it, how we went about making it (and the difficulties along the way) and some thoughts about the final product. Making a whole new class for 5e is a pretty substantial undertaking, and doing it well requires a lot of awareness not only of the existing 5e classes, but also the races, feats, and other abilities that might get mashed together with your new class. Keeping everything balanced in a variable, mixed-composition game like Dungeons and Dragons is impossible, but getting close to the same level of balance Wizards of the Coast’s team and other high quality homebrewers create was our goal. We think we hit that mark and we hope you do too - and if we didn’t, we can always update the Fanatic down the line. For now, I’d like to talk about how and why the Fanatic ended up where it did, Miracle Die, Con Mod, muttered prayers, and all.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Full Class - the Fanatic, and an Important Announcement

Today, we have a few very exciting things to share with you all. 

First of all, our homebrew for this week is our largest project so far, a full base class, the Fanatic! Fanatics are filled with a powerful, unshakeable fervor, making them formidable on and off of the battlefield. While they don't channel divine power into spells like a cleric does, strange, amazing things seem to follow fanatics wherever they go; while others are born accident-prone, fanatics seem to be miracle-prone. Creating the Fanatic was complicated but rewarding endeavor, and so we are all the more excited to here what you think! 

Secondly, and even more exciting, we have officially launched a Patreon! We're only just getting started here at Gelatinous Cubicles, and so if you want to see us create even bigger and better things, pledging is the most direct way you can help us! And, if you can't commit to being a patron, but still want to chip in, we're still on Ko-fi. We're excited to start even more ambitious projects, and every bit of help you can give will go right back into making that a reality!

With all that done, we are pleased to introduce our first of hopefully many more major projects. Enjoy!

Download it here:

Monday, December 14, 2020

The Expanded Weapons Table

 

I love playing martial characters. There’s a certain thrill to playing a proficient warrior that I don’t find captured in full casters like the wizard and sorcerer (though I love casters for different reasons!) Upon comparing a spellcaster with a martial character, however, the difference in player choice becomes readily apparent.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Content Expansion - Expanded Weapons

Adventuring is a hard business, and to keep up with new monsters and villains, players have to constantly invent new ways to slash, stab, slay, and otherwise murder their enemies. However, there are only so many ways to gut a man with a simple dagger, and there are only so many kinds of weapons for players to experiment with in the standard rules. To make sure players have new ways to do horrible violence for years to come, we present this list of brand new weapons. Take them for a spin, and if they help you bring in some extra gold, maybe share some with us on Ko-fi, so we can keep the lights on in our dank sewer laboratory. 

Download it here:

Monday, November 30, 2020

Monster Design: the Behemoth

We set out to design the behemoth because we had never created a boss monster before. An interesting problem to be sure; a boss monster is more than a big stat block with legendary actions. A boss monster is an experience, a defining feature of a campaign, something you spend sessions tracking before a huge fight. Or, you know, it’s a pretty fun one shot. Either way, one only needs to look at the Curse of Strahd module to understand just how campaign-defining a boss monster can be. Now I know my limits - I can’t make Strahd. I can, however, make a pretty sweet boss monster.

The behemoth, named after the biblical beast, is an unstoppable force of nature. It’s the ultimate apex predator. This concept intrigued me; there’s no reasoning with the behemoth, and there’s no subterfuge. There’s only simple destruction and hunger. I picture a group of adventurers coming across an empty town, with only a large path of footprints to tell the story that took place. That’s the kind of scenario a good boss monster creates!

Monday, November 23, 2020

Monster - the Behemoth

In the wild, each layer of a food chain gets smaller, as the creatures in each layer get hungrier. There are hordes of rabbits and minnows in the wild, but fewer foxes and salmon, and even fewer bears. As the predators become more fearsome, their appetite becomes more and more demanding for an ecosystem to support, so it can only support a few of the most dangerous creatures. And so, we present the Behemoth, the ultimate capstone to every food chain; a singular predator, with a truly endless appetite. Next on the menu, your adventuring party.

We hope enjoy running this high level boss monster as much as we enjoyed testing it. If you're feeling generous, we take tips over on Ko-fi, and let us know what sorts of brews you want to see coming up!

Download it here:

Monday, November 16, 2020

Subclass Design: How I Did It

Originally named the ‘Doctor’ Rogue during testing, the Stitcher took on new flavor as we began publishing. What originally began as a plague doctor was expanded to encompass the archetype of a back-alley surgeon or a Frankenstein-esque figure. Here’s the details on our thought process surrounding the design.


First Aid is pretty self-explanatory: it’s a sort of ‘Fast Hands’ for healers. Things get more interesting with Patchwork, which uses Hit Die as a resource to heal your allies. We knew we didn’t want this class to ‘magically’ restore hit points, so we decided that the healing needed to expend some kind of resource and not just appear from thin air. Expending the Hit Dice of other creatures seemed to be an elegant way to accomplish this.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Rogue Subclass - The Stitcher

Get to stichin' your friends back together the good old fashioned way with this Roguish archetype, the Stitcher! Tired of relying on magic to heal your friends, inspect bodies, and apply crippling debuffs? Then this doctor of dubious certification is a perfect fit for you! After your alleyway surgery business takes off, be sure and come back and share the love by sending us some of your gruesomely-gotten gains on Ko-fi. Sewer rent ain't cheap, and we always appreciate the support!

Download it here:


Monday, November 2, 2020

Designing Races: Building a Better Boneman

Hello again, everyone. Thank you for the great response we’ve seen for the Wakeful already! It’s good to know our work is appreciated, so thanks for that. If you’re feeling generous, feel free to support our efforts on Ko-fi. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter so you get updates on our work as it comes out!

Today, I want to talk about how we created the wakeful, and what drove them toward the state they ended up in. Hopefully it’ll give you some insight into how we test player races, and how 5E balance informs even the little details of the game’s design.

The wakeful began as a part of a larger project I’ve been working on for a long time now, a massive city-setting, in which the wakeful are created in the aftermath of a calamity early in that realm’s history. As a result, the first major step in making them for Cubicles was to write the lore as realm/setting neutral, so that a DM looking to use it wouldn’t need to work in too much background adaptation to make them appropriately fit into whatever game they would be running.


In addition, since they already existed in a fairly complete form within the setting I’d written, writing the wakeful as a player race was more like adapting them than it was like writing something new. Instead of deciding what to make and what it ought to be able to do, I already knew exactly what a typical wakeful skeleton was capable of, and just needed to translate it into the rules of 5E. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

Player Race - The Wakeful

All sorts of monsters love to gobble up adventurers, a possibility that most players have tried to avoid. Most try to make their character too fearsome to be worth the trouble to kill, or else too sneaky to be worth the trouble to hunt down, but what if monsters never wanted to eat you in the first place? What if there just wasn't enough meat on your bones to be satisfying to the average famished owlbear? 
What if you were only bones?
Now, with our new skeletal player race, you can find out. The wakeful have all the calcium of a classic skeleton, with none of the necromancy, guaranteed! If you want to help us keep the meat on our bones and in our bellies, feel free to support us on Kofi, and look for more content soon!

Download it here:


Monday, October 19, 2020

Monster Design: the Lingering Wills

 Content Warning: This document will discuss themes of death, old age, mental illness, and dementia.

The lingering wills are the manifestation of the now deceased’s desperate desires, taking the form of a spectral undead. The concept for them started with a desire to make undead creatures that truly felt like the remnants of the people they once were, similar to how spirits are generally portrayed in a lot of culture and media. I was largely inspired by my experience being around people with dementia; it’s an illness that traps you within yourself, and reduces your psyche to its most basic and prominent components. It’s a horrifying reality; one that I saw taking form in a monster. A spirit who is lost and confused, only left with a burning desire. While DnD certainly is not lacking in representation for this type of undead, such as with ghosts, wights, and revenants, I felt as though there was more room to make a monster that properly represented this concept through more tailored flavor and mechanics. And thus, I began to work on what would become the lingering wills.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Monster - Lingering Wills

 Do you have any regrets? We don't, but our new monsters are made of them. A lingering will is an undead creature that persists because of its unfinished business, and each have their own way of trying to finish their leftover work. Have a look at these first few apparitions, and let us know what other sorts of regrets and lost goals you'd like to see turned into monsters. If you want to see more content sooner, support us on Kofi, and let your party members know about us, too!

Download it here:


Monday, October 5, 2020

Subclass Design: Master of Games & Yu-Gi-Oh!

It’s time to D-D-D-D-D-D-D-DUEL!!! Compelled Duel that is. Well not really. Look, the point is, Yugi Warlock.

Now I know you’re wondering, and why yes, to answer your extremely specific question that you definitely had, our recent release “Otherworldly Patron: Master of Games” was indeed inspired by everyone’s favorite case of bad hair day. That is, I was inspired to play a Yugi-esque ‘King of Games’ in 5e.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Too Many Races in DnD 5e: 3 Potential Solutions

I started playing 5th edition around the release of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Needless to say, I never experienced ‘vanilla’ 5e with its constraints and limitations. My first experience creating a character in 5th edition, and indeed in any TTRPG, was a fairly smooth one. I could choose from a handful of races present in the Player’s Handbook and Volo’s Guide to Monsters. With the release of more and more supplemental products, however, I have now found myself somewhat bogged down by the sheer amount of options available, especially as a DM and worldbuilder.

As a Dungeon Master, the ability to integrate these races into a coherent setting is tumultuous at best. On one hand, I want my players to have a choice. I want someone to, within reason, be able to choose a race from published D&D content and bring it to my table, confident in their ability to play what they desire. And yet, to do so is to have a world with a daunting number of cultures and fantasy races, a world where gith and warforged travel alongside drow and firbolg, to the point where it seems every adventuring party I’ve run since 2018 rarely consists of two beings from even the same plane of existence.


A lizardfolk, a changeling, and a centaur walk into a bar... (Art: Jeskai Ascendancy by Dan Scott)

Monday, September 28, 2020

Warlock Subclass - Master of Games

Hello, I want to play a game... with our new Master of Games Warlock Patron! Use the power of gambling to overcome your foes through tricky subterfuge with this unique new Otherworldly Patron.

Download it here:


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Monster Design: The Iphik

Hello! I’m Jonathon, one of the team members at Gelatinous Cubicles, and the drafting author of our release last week, the iphik. I and the rest of the Gel Cubicles team put a lot of work into these chitinous lads, and I wanted to write up something that goes over some of the design choices I came to, why I came to them, why we did or didn’t cut or change them, and some other interesting tid-bits about the iphik that I’d like to share.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Monster Race - The Iphik

Pheromones, pheromones, pheromones. The iphik are here, and they're talking about you behind your back right in front of you. These ant-inspired bugfolk are a fresh new monstrous race and are ready to infest your campaign!

Download it here:

Monday, September 7, 2020

Archetype Design 101: How to Start a Subclass Right & Arcane Zoology

For our first piece of published homebrew, I am pleased to present the Arcane Tradition of Arcane Zoology, a wizard subclass that takes a lot of cues from its druid colleagues. Rather than only study spellcasting, these wizards focus on magic’s effects on the animal kingdom, and on the many varieties of magical creatures that roam most fantasy settings we are familiar with. As a result, they are much more in tune with their familiars, allowing the connection between familiar and master to be far more useful than usual. From a gameplay perspective, the archetype has a great many utility options and is capable of being played as a less grim ‘minion-mancer’ than the Necromancy wizard.

Before we look at the archetype itself, though, I want to talk a bit about the creation process, something we’re very interested in at Gelatinous Cubicles. The Arcanozoologist began from the idea to build a wizard around the familiar, a classic feature of the wizard’s broad toolset. The concept was for the familiar to become like an arcane spin on the Beastmaster’s Animal Companion, and the flavor of it as a zoologist of magic followed afterwards. From there, the draft came together fairly quickly, as between the long find familiar spell description and the ‘supernatural biologist’ fluff, there was a lot of fertile ground to work with. It’s even possible that there may be more content in that space, for Wizard or otherwise; that remains to be seen.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Wizard Subclass - Arcane Zoology

It's time to familiarize yourself with familiars! This new Arcane Tradition for the Wizard features powerful abilities that make your familiar a true force to be reckoned with, both on and off the battlefield.

Download it here: