A Preview of Things to Come

Things have been quiet around here lately, but behind the scenes, I’ve been hard at work. I wanted to share the briefest of previews of what I’m working on right now:

What could it be? What could it all mean?! (There’s a good chance that you could guess correctly, or close to correctly.)

This has become a much larger project than I anticipated at first, so it might be a while before this comes to light. But I hope you’ll look forward to it as I am.

In the meantime, I might try to produce the second volume of pregenerated characters. This one will be Angels & Demons, featuring all sorts of characters who are aasimar and tieflings.

Let me know if you like what you see!

I’m Not Dead Yet!

Hello to you! I trust that if you’re visiting this website, then you’ve downloaded one of my products from The DM’s Guild. (If not, then I hope you will!)

You might have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve published anything. Perhaps you’re wondering if there will be any future additions, or if this is the end of the road.

I’m happy to say that I do have several publications in the works, with topics ranging from interesting ways to convey exposition; to character headquarters; to more packs of pregenerated characters. However, they probably won’t be ready until sometime in 2020. Currently, most of my time is spent working on The Episodic Table Of Elements, a podcast about the fascinating true stories behind every element on the periodic table.

If you would like to be notified when these new publications are available, I hope you’ll enter your email address using this form. I won’t flood your inbox — you can expect anywhere from a week to several months in between updates, and I’ll never share your information with anyone else or use your email for any other purpose.

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In the meantime, thank you so much for taking a look at my products. I hope you enjoy them. Until next time, may all your attack rolls be critical hits!

Copper Bestseller

Just a quick note to crow a bit: My first product on the DM’s Guild is now a Copper Bestseller! This is extremely exciting to me, and I’m grateful to everyone who purchased a copy — even if you only paid a nickel!

To pull the curtain back a little, all of my titles are available as Pay-What-You-Want (for now). That means you can even pay nothing at all to download these PDFs; and in fact, I encourage you to! Nearly a thousand people have done just that so far.

However, if you pay any amount whatsoever, the DM’s Guild counts that as a sale — not just a download. And if you “sell” 51 or more copies, you’re officially a Copper Bestseller. You can climb up the ranks after that, but this is the first tier that lets people know, “Hey, this is actually something people liked.”

I’m flattered and delighted that over 51 people have spent money on this product. I hope I can continue producing PDFs that the community enjoys for a long time!

Magical Mishaps: 100 New Wild Magic Surges is available on the DM’s Guild as a PWYW title.

Fumbles & Crits: A Unique Approach to Hard Hits and Wild Misses

Yesterday I published Fumbles & Crits: A Unique Approach to Hard Hits and Wild Misses as a PWYW title on the DM’s Guild. It aims to add a rare bit of fun to combat while reflecting the skill and training of the martial classes.

As far as I know, this approach to 20s and 1s is unique. I certainly haven’t seen anything quite like it. I hope you enjoy, and let me know how it works for your group!

It’s quite nice to see that “More from this title’s contributor’s” ribbon completely full at the bottom, as well as to get another blue cover uploaded — AKA, a supplement intended for DMs.

Additionally, Magical Mishaps is my oldest and best performer of all these titles, and it’s very close to becoming a Copper Bestseller! If you enjoy that title, even a tiny contribution would be more valuable than you might think.


Premade Characters, Volume I: The Goon Squad

Now that I’ve finally finished work on my Alternate Character Sheet, I can finally start work on the originally intended product: Packs of pregenerated characters. These don’t take nearly as long for me to put together as a typical product, but they allow me to explore some of the less common race/class combinations in D&D. I think there’s value there for other people, too — obviously as characters they can pick up and play tonight, but also to serve as inspiration for their own characters.

Volume I: The Goon Squad focuses on characters that might feature more prominently as bad guys in your typical D&D game:

  • Bartleby Bruce, the bugbear brute. Bart doesn’t fight because he’s angry. In fact, he would prefer not to. Unfortunately, it’s just about the only thing he’s good at.
  • Demelza Bree-Yark, a goblin bard from the College of Swords. Some might say that Demelza has an “obsession” with sharp objects. She prefers to call it an “appreciation.” Regardless, she’s spent so many hours studying the blade that she almost never nicks herself anymore. Her enemies are rarely so lucky.
  • “Hundred Hands” Harlan Ward, the boxing orc. Harlan used to use his fists as a bounty hunter. Then he realized he didn’t care that much about the bounties, or the hunting. He just likes to use his fists.
  • High Justicar Brassus, the minotaur zealot. Brassus was the most brutal and heartless interrogator of the Great Inquisition. The only problem now is that no one can convince him the Inquisition ended over a decade ago.

Each of these is a character I would love to play, if I ever have the time. I’m particularly excited to include the Pugilist class by Sterling Vermin. It’s a fantastic execution of an unarmed fighter that’s nothing at all like the Monk.

The Goon Squad is available as a pay-what-you-want title on the DM’s Guild today. I hope this is received well, since I’d like to put out several of these packs in between bigger releases. I might even put out a product that’s not PWYW one of these days!

Alternate Character Sheet

My fourth product is now available on The DM’s Guild, an Alternate Character Sheet for Dungeons & Dragons players. It’s meant for people who would like to highlight their character art and background, easily calculate weight and measure encumbrance, or players who would simply like to see a visual change.

Ultimately I created this character sheet for myself. I plan on releasing packs of pregenerated characters in the future, and wanted a distinct style in which to present them. In making this character sheet, I thought, why not let everyone else use it, too?

This is my first time creating a form-fillable PDF, so please do let me know if it’s an utter disaster to use on your computer.

The Applesorcerer’s Alternate Character Sheet is available on The DM’s Guild as a pay-what-you-want title.

Ability Score Feats

I’ve released my third product for the DM’s Guild, Ability Score Feats. By focusing on a small number of options, I’ve aimed to create feats that are well balances while still opening up interesting new avenues of play.

I actually started work on these feats before I began my second release, Feats for Ravnicans. I scrutinized these a little more closely, too, so they shouldn’t require a second revision. However, I’d be very interested to hear how well they work — or don’t — around your table!

Review by Rich da Lich

I was flattered and delighted over the weekend to see that prolific gamer and vlogger Rich da Lich reviewed Feats for Ravnicans over the weekend! It’s an incredibly thorough, thoughtful, and fair critique.

I’m currently working on layout and design of my next release, which should come out within the next week. My next priority after that will be releasing a revision of Feats for Ravnicans, which will address the issues Rich brings up in this video, as well as tidy up the layout a bit. In the meantime, check out this video to get a good idea of which feats are ready for prime time, and which still need a little finagling.

Subscribe to Rich’s channel while you’re at it! He’s putting out new videos six times a week, which is an impressive feat in its own right!

Feats for Ravnicans

Feats for Ravnicans is a collection of sixteen feats uniquely tailored to the denizens of the City of Guilds. Each of the ten guilds gets one feat associated with it, plus new racial feats and a special feat only available to those who don’t swear allegiance to any guild.

This is a title I’ll be happy to revisit in the future, incorporating feedback from those who use it around their tables. So your reviews will be especially helpful!

Download Feats for Ravnicans now as a pay-what-you-want title on the DM’s Guild.

In Praise Of 3d6

I’ve never been a min-maxer. There’s nothing wrong with that style of play, but personally, I find it inherently less interesting than playing “sub-optimal” characters. In fact, I’m such a big fan of low ability scores that I’ve ported over a score generation method from 2e: Rolling a flat 3d6 for each score.

Philosophy around ability scores seems to have really changed since the TSR days. The Second Edition PHB introduces the idea like so:

Suppose you decide to name your character “Rath” and you rolled the following ability scores for him:

Strength 8
Dexterity 14
Constitution 13
Intelligence 13
Wisdom 7
Charisma 6

Rath has strengths and weaknesses, but it is up to you to interpret what those numbers mean.

An 8, a 7, and a 6?! With nothing higher than a 14?! It’s hard to imagine a player being happy with that spread today.

But it’s also hard to imagine that even happening, it’s so statistically unlikely. By Third Edition, “Roll 4d6, drop the lowest” had become the standard method for generating ability scores. This method is most likely to produce scores of 12 and 13, with every character having a decent shot of rolling at least one 15 or 16. Scores lower than 8 are practically impossible.

But on top of this, your ability scores are only going to go up from here — some of them as soon as right now! Racial ability score penalties are no longer a thing (unless you’re the rare player creating a kobold character, or the like), and you get an ASI every four levels. Low ability scores are simply not a threat in D&D 5e.

So why does it matter? Well, the 2e PHB continues in that same chapter:

Obviously, Rath’s ability scores (often called “stats”) are not the greatest in the world. Yet it is possible to turn these “disappointing” stats into a character who is both interesting and fun to play.  Too often players become obsessed with “good” stats. These players immediately give up on a character if he doesn’t have a majority of above-average scores. There are even those who feel a character is hopeless if he does not have at least one ability score of 17 or higher! Needless to say, these players would never consider playing a character with an ability score of 6 or 7.

In truth, Rath’s survivability has a lot less to do with his ability scores than with your desire to role-play him. If you give up on him, of course he won’t survive!

This is every bit as true today as it was in 1983. It’s sort of the player’s corollary to Tucker’s Kobolds — if you play smart, you won’t be hampered by a few weaknesses.

Furthermore, as Zee Bashew points out in this great video, this game is a group activity! If your rogue has an Int score of 6, that gives your party’s wizard an opportunity to shine outside of merely casting fireball yet again.

I had my current group roll 3d6 for their ability scores when we started out. I lucked out, because they were all game for it without any convincing on my part. They’re currently around level 4, and you know what? There are already a couple characters whose primary stat has hit 18. But everyone also has an Achilles heel, and that’s allowed for some more fun moments than if every score were an 11. Facing off against aberrations, for instance, the characters who dumped their Wisdom score are more likely to be afflicted with fear, so the party’s druid really needs to step up his game.

If you want to get even more hardcore with it, I think it can be fun to insist that your first ability score roll is your Strength score, your second roll is Dex, etc. It’s a pretty fun way to organically see who your character will be, rather than arriving at Session Zero with a preconceived notion of who you’ll be playing. But hey, only one radically resurrected old-school idea for today.