Horror—Ways to Make Your Adventures More Terrifying


The following was a portion of the RPG based on our original comic, Skeleton Crew, that’s currently on the back-burner. In the meantime, I thought I’d share this section you on how to make your adventures a little more terrifying.

Unknown Threat

It’s easy to think of a dozen different types of monsters out there (ghouls, ghosts, vampires, etc.), but you have to remember—tales of monsters existed centuries before monsters had any names. It is common for gamers to label creatures into neat little categories—but to name something is to understand it, and the root of suspense comes from NOT knowing. When writing a creepy adventure, it might pay off to create a horror of your own. You might hint at the name through a local legend, but leave only vague stories as to what it could really be. In terms of skills and aspects, it might resemble other monsters, but the players will no idea how strange or tough the creature they are facing is. Or, make them think they know what it is, until you decide to switch it up on them—have them encounter a normal vampire, only to have his head sprout crab legs and walk off of his shoulders.

Naming Your Monsters (English and American)

Personally, I think folksy or childish sounding names often have the creepiest feel—better still if they have onomatopoeia in them. For example, why not the Tailypo, the Snickercatch, the Moggytom, the Nibblegnaw, the Cindergrim? Author Neil Gaiman wrote an amazing short ghost story called “Click Clack the Rattlebag”…little is known about the “Click Clack” monster, except it drinks the victim’s insides, leaving only a clattering “Rattlebag” of skin and bones. Brrr!

Nursery rhymes work great in there, too. Think of nonsense/old words like “eeny” and “winkum”, find a good meter, and add in some vaguely creepy stuff to the verse.


Ten little fingers, nine little toes
Ragged Man comes, and the Ragged Man goes
Eight little fingers, little toes seven
Keeps you from hell and he keeps you from heaven
Six little fingers, little toes five
Ragged Man steals you, a bit at a time.
Four little fingers, three little hairs
Ragged Man’s coming, up up the stairs
Two little eyes, and one little thumb
Nothing can help you, the Ragged Man’s come!

Naming Your Monster (Bilingual Version)

Of course, the above works best with English speaking threats—for exotic creatures, go with exotic names. Look up local monsters, and mash them around—the Indian Vyala becomes a Vylkara. Or, use an internet translator, and keep translating random dark words until you have a name that sounds neat. For example, Babelfish.com says “death forest” in German translates into “Tod-Wald”… not a bad creature name for 3 seconds of research.

Creating Monsters—Letting the Players Do the Work

There’s no reason that you can’t force your players to do the hard work for you. Don’t have a name for them? Let the characters come up with a nickname all their own—this helps if you give the creature a very distinct appearance—Example: , spiders for hands, three red eyes, etc. You probably won’t need to ask them—by the second time they see them, the characters will probably start tossing names around themselves as they communicate. Likewise, if they have a Mythos-heavy character in the group, he or she might declare that he or she has heard some of the legends concerning the creature, and come up with a neat new aspect to include in the origin story. An example of this shows up in the movie The World’s End, which features the heroes desperately trying to name the eerie villains—they use “the blanks” as a placeholder while the argue over the perfect name. Only then do they realize that “the Blanks” IS the perfect name for them!

Apparent Danger

Many of your adventures, humorous or horrifying, might start off the same way. However, once secondary characters start dropping dead or your group uncovers mass graves, the mood will change quite quickly. You have to get the players into the frame of mind that their characters are in legitimate danger—someone or something is here, just out of sight, and is fully capable of picking them off one by one. A few NPCs can be sacrificed to get this mood across—likewise, if the NPC Ranger Bob was the only with knowledge of the mountain (and with keys to the truck), your safe one-hour drive just became a 6 hour game of survival in the dark woods. Also, don’t be afraid to ignore dice and stats and tease the group with an impossible threat—maybe they can’t hurt the Moggytom during its first encounter, but learning its secret will allow them to physically hurt it. A helpless group will be more likely to fear the threat. If your group is a little virtuous, leave them a living NPC alive that they have to escort out—his vulnerability becomes THEIR vulnerability.

Get Gruesome

Not advised for queasy groups, but rather than just having NPCs disappear, have them be found again—in a barely recognizable state. Give them bloody scenes, slashed corpses, and guts galore. If you want to make it dark and still confusing, maybe the only way to know the number of victims is, (to quote the They Might Be Giants song), to “count the arms, the legs and heads, and then divide by five.” The primary function of such gruesomeness is to make the characters realize that danger can befall themselves (or the few remaining NPCs under their protection.) Secondly, any patterns might lead your characters to the origin of the monster—if all the victims are impaled with ancient railroad spikes, maybe researching into the old, abandoned railroad line will reveal a horrible tragedy left unavenged. Thirdly, if you like a bit of mystery, maybe you can hide the real threat amongst the victims—at first, it seems that all five of the grad students were liquefied in the dorm room, but close analysis shows that only four died in that mess. Was the killer hiding amongst you the whole time?

For further

Evil = Intelligence

All great monsters, but especially werewolves, focus on the idea that a normal human can be turned into a beast. Underneath our suits and ties, each of us has a hungry animal, waiting to lose control. This is a common trend, and will (and probably should) show up during your campaign. However, nowadays, we occasionally see traditional monsters as civil and intelligent—our zombies eat pizza, our vampires read the paper and only drink animal blood, etc. However, if you want to add a creepy twist, introduce a former-human-turned-monster that’s in control and yet still a man-eater—a civil, reasoning monster that does unspeakable things. For example, Jonathan Coulton wrote the song, “Re: Your Brains,” about a group of humans barricaded in a mall. One of the attacking zombies (and the singer of the song) is a former coworker turned brain-eater, trying to convince them to surrender. On the surface, it’s hilarious—a zombie is throwing around business buzz-words like “FYI” and “table it for now.” When you analyze it, though, it features a zombie that remembers his previous life, can empathize with the survivors, but still feels NO REMORSE for trying to bash their skulls open and devour them. That’s all kinds of sick.

Ticking Clock

A convention of suspense that easily carries over into horror. Make the heroes race a proverbial clock—if they fail to do something by a certain time, something horrendous will happen. This is common enough in most stories already, but the way to make it clearer still to the group is to have an actual escalation—a bogey that feeds in the darkness is creepy. Why not have the rain start coming in, along with clouds that darken the moon? Worse still, the city blocks are suffering blackouts, one after the other, getting closer and closer still…This can also be done with aspects—maybe they are each given a negative aspect representing a strange mental influence, such as On Edge, and when you get really close to the climax, replace it with more and more sinister aspects, such as Violent Rage, or Murderous Instincts—suddenly, they are not their own masters, and they have only a short time before their humanity is lost!

Further Reading

One last recommendation: for further reading, I recommend Steven King’s “Three Categories of Terror“.

That’s it for now… Until next time, Game On!

-Dave Seidman-Joria

Ranger Subclass: The Bounty Hunter

Poster: Have you seen this Rogue?

You know what they say; you can talk a ranger out of the wilds, but you can’t take the wild out of the ranger. (I don’t know if they actually say that; I just made that up.)

Today, we’re introducing another subclass for Dungeons & Dragons 5e… Ranger: The Bounty Hunter.

Why a Bounty Hunter?

  • We thought it would be fun to have an “Urban Ranger”; someone just as adept at tracking in the streets as they are the forest.
  • We found the idea of having a preferred type of animal to hunt as bad, and the idea of having a favorite humanoid race to hunt even MORE problematic. We wanted an alternative, with the ranger hunting people based on what they DO.

Without further ado, here it is!


Ranger Archetype

By Steven Moyer and Dave Seidman-Joria

You are a ranger who doesn’t specialize in animals or monsters. You prefer quarries that can talk, reason, and most dangerous of all, think. And they will use all of their cunning to try to outrun you. Track them down over hill and dale, in the deepest cave, or in the densest cities.

3rdBounty Hunter Magic, Unnatural Explorer, Favored Classes
7thFind Your Mark
11thTightly Bound
15thLaw of Names

Bounty Hunter Magic

Starting at 3rd level, you learn an additional spell when you reach certain levels in this class, as shown in the Bounty Hunter Spells table. The spell counts as a ranger spell for you, but it doesn’t count against the number of ranger spells you know.

5thHold Person
13th (Otilake’s) Resilient Sphere
17thFar Step

Unnatural Explorer

Starting at 3rd Level, you immediately gain an additional favored terrain. In addition, your pool of favored terrains types you can choose from (either now or at 6th or 10th level) now includes Urban terrain.  You also also gain one additional language and gain proficiency in the Cartographer tool.

Favored Classes

You may immediately gain two additional humanoid types as favored enemies; however, instead of picking two humanoid races, you instead pick two class types from the PHB (and any other source books allowed in your setting); you are skilled at hunting humanoids with that background. 

Similarly, when your ranger learns an additional favored enemy at 6th and 14th level, they may instead learn two additional classes. (If the GM agrees, at 3rd level, you may change your Level 1 favored enemy to pick two classes instead.)

Note: With some spellcasting monsters, it is hard to discern which exact type of spellcaster a monster counts as: generally, monsters with “spellcasting” count as either clerics, druids, or wizards. Meanwhile, some humanoids (but not all) with innate spellcasting count as sorcerer, warlock, etc. When in doubt, use your best judgement.

Find Your Mark

Starting at 7th level, once per turn, when you cast the spell Hunter’s Mark, you may cast is at level 1 as if it were a cantrip; likewise, any spell slot you use to cast Hunter’s Mark counts as if it was two spell slot levels higher (i.e. a spell slot of 1st-2nd level counts as if it was spell slot of 3rd-4th level; a spell slot of 3rd or higher counts as if it was spell slot of 5th level).

Tightly Bound

Starting at 11th level, whenever an opponent is restrained by one of your spells, it gains a disadvantage on any Strength tests to break free.

Law of Names

Starting at 15th level, you can count any non-animal character as a favored enemy provided you know the character’s True Name (nicknames, pseudonyms, or partial names aren’t enough). You may only have one true name enemy like this at a time; once you have chosen a name, you may not “unlearn” it until after a long rest, freeing up the slot.

That’s it for the Bounty Hunter. It has yet to be thoroughly tested, so any feedback or comments are appreciated. What are your thoughts? Any subclasses you’d like to see? Let us know!

In the meantime, game on!

-Dave Seidman-Joria

Game Designer as Tangent Artists

Channel A – Fan RPG


Hello, Tangerine! It’s been a while! One of my favorite card games for the last few years has been Channel A, the anime pitch game. If you don’t know it, it starts off similar to Apples to Apples: the judge sets two cards for the genre, and each player picks up to five cards for the title.

However, where it deviates is what comes next: players then have to pitch a new anime series using that title. They give a quick 10-30 second pitch about the characters, the plot, the twists, the toys; anything to put their story ahead.

I’ve talked with Ewen about how it might be the fun basis for an RPG; imagine, using these cards to create an RPG setting in minutes. Or, better still, why not a whole multiverse of connected anime settings??

Header for Channel A, featuring a Chibi sorceress, a catgirl, and a space ranger.


RPG adaptation by Dave Seidman-Joria
Based on the Card Game by Ewen Cluney – For sale at Evil Hat’s website!

Note: This is a fan creation, and is in no way affiliated with or authorized by Evil Hat. Not for sale.

EDIT: I completely forgot that you can also buy Channel A for Roll20; which is a PERFECT way to segway from game to RPG!


The players should play 2 quick games of Channel; After determining the winning Pitch in round one, set aside the winning title, genre, and all other cards used that round. Play a second game; afterwards, set these cards aside too. All these cards (including unused cards in hand) are called the BOARD.

Players decide amongst themselves which of the two winning pitches they want to use as the foundation for their RPG game and which player is going to be the GM. If there is a tie, the GM gets the tiebreaker vote. The basic pitch should serve as a basis for the story, with players creating new characters to populate it. The winning title cards used in the winning pitch become the TITLE, while the genre cards become the GENRE.


Each player has 6 character points, which they can distribute between 3 to 5 different stats.

The stats you can use are chosen from:

  • Any number of cards from in the title (Ex. If the title is “Fullmetal Honey Panic Heroes,” skills you can access are Fullmetal, Honey, Panic, and Heroes.)
  • Up to ONE cards from the GENRE (ex. If the Genre is Boys Love and Military, you could pick Boys Love OR Military but not both.
  • Up to ONE leftover card from anywhere on the BOARD (including cards from the other game). Players are discouraged from using the same leftover card another player is using

Exceptions and Clarifications

  • Limits: No single stat can start higher than 3
  • Players aren’t required to spend all their points at set-up; they may save points to create skills mid-game.
  • The GM may allow players to pick a 2nd leftover card for the basic of a stats; this is recommended for titles with fewer than 4 words (or if a player just has a really fun idea that fits the setting); it is also recommended Genre-shift campaigns (see below).
  • If a title card is particularly vague, the GM may require a player specify what it means to THEIR character in some way. (Ex. 2 players pick the title card “Z”; one player picks it to mean “Zebra” because she has zebra DNA, and the other player has it stand for “Zephyr” for having wind magic.)

Sample Build

The Genre was Sports & Steampunk

The Winning title was “Infinite Witches Fury Ring.”

The story is about witches using their magic to power mech suits to fight in colossal wrestling matches.

Two player characters are Genna and Moxie


Queen (Leftover)+1


Sailor (Leftover)+1

*When asked to explain “Infinite,” Moxie’s player explains that Moxie never gives up; not in sports, life, or anything.


Actions use a simplified version of the Forged in the Dark system. When you take an action, roll 1d6 for each point of the stat, and pick the highest result.

6 – Full Success – You gain what you attempted (multiple 6s grant additional boost)

4-5 – Partial Success – You gain part of what you want, or succeed at a cost.

1-3 – Bad Outcome – You fail, or succeed at an extreme cost.

If your skill is 0, you roll two dice, and a pick the lower.

The GM may decide that doing something particularly easy or difficult will change the number of dice you roll (increasing or decreasing)

Opposed Action

If you are opposed, the GM also rolls one or more dice for their action, to represent the opposition. The higher roll gets the result marked above; the lower roll is treated as “bad outcome.” If tied, any side that rolled doubles breaks ties. If no tie breaker, treat as partial success for both.

Actions – Alternative

Don’t like the Blades Approach? Why not make use Fate Core, and roll 4dF? Or, simply roll a single 1d6 and add the skill as a bonus?


If running multiple games in the same setting, after each successful adventure, a player may increase one of their stats by +1 (provided it doesn’t go above 3). If they have less than five skills, they can also get +1 in a new stat.

Genre-Spanning Campaign

Channel A RPG is best set up as a dimension spanning; after every story or every session, the characters are sent to another world.

Concept –
>Guardians of the Multiverse, keeping different worlds safe.

>Dimensional sliders, unable to return home.

>Video gamers, reincarnated into an Isekai video game

Alt Set-up – A genre-spanning campaign, PCs should set at least TWO stats using leftover cards from the board.

Shifting Worlds – When it is time to shift to a new world, the players should pick two new genre cards. Then, instead of creating a brand new title from scratch, players should draw new cards, and create a new title that uses both cards in their hand and one or Title card from the last world (think of a it like Texas Hold-Em, with a communal pot of title cards the player should use as a basis).

Shifting points – When going to the new world, each player may shift up to 2 Title skills from the old Title to new title. 

Shifting Genre skills are a little harder – once they move to a new world, any character with a genre skill rolls 1d6:

1-2 – Lost – You lost the skill, and have nothing to replace it at this time. Instead, keep track of how many points you lost; when you go through an epiphany (see below), you get a new skill with that many stat points.

3-4 – Stubborn – Defying all genres, you seem to have kept the genre skill from the LAST world into this one. This means, you might be a Militaristic genius in a maid café world! When you go through an epiphany, you have the option of changing to a new skill.

5-6 Flexible – You have a choice: Immediately shift your skill to a new genre card for this setting, or pick a new discarded title card to serve as a new skill.

Epiphany – PCs gain an epiphany when they undergo something that makes them reassess themselves or their settings. Common influences might include: failing on an important roll and suffering the consequences; remembering what’s important to; being backed into a corner. You can also tie-in genre appropriate tropes for the epiphany: ex. Falling in love for a romance; meeting being beaten in the first-half of a sports anime; combining into a giant megazord in a mech anime.

Advancement and Shifting – If a story is completed, PCs shift worlds and skills, and THEN gain +1 skill point for advancing. This will let them reprioritize their focus, or gain new skills.

Sample Shift

The setting has shifted from Sports & Steampunk “Infinite Witches Fury Ring.”

New setting: Post Apocalyptic Spy-Thriller.

The final match was interpreted by a demonic entity that the was only defeated with teamwork. However, the banish it to the Netherworld resulted in a second portal opening, sending Genna and transferred to a new world.

The setting: a scored world where the last remaining nations are scrambling to find the last remaining plot of fertile land; known only in rumors as Midori. The name has shifted to, “Witches Ring 2nd Stage Midori.”

Two player characters are Genna and Moxie try to quickly acclimate to their new desolate, high-tech world.

Genna’s stats WERE:

Queen (Leftover)+1

However, “Steampunk” genre no longer applies here. She rolls a 1; she has trouble adapting, and is stuck with 2 points that she can’t use until she has an epiphany. She also gains +1 point advanced from the last session. She decides to gain a new skill: she picks the card Comic, to show that Genna’s wit is and charisma is getting sharper.

Queen (Leftover)+2
Comic (Leftover)+1
? ? ?+2

Moxie’s stats were

Sailor (Leftover)+1

She rolled on the genre ability Sports and got “Stubborn” – she keeps the skill Sports, despite the shift. She chooses to move the Infinite +1 to Ring +1, to show that Moxie’s quickly adapting to being in a close-knit spy ring. She adds +1 to Fury, bringing it to +3

Sailor (Leftover)+1


As an alternative to having your characters travel from world to world, why not skip straight to the mash-up?

Set-Up: Each player draws two genre cards and a title that serves as the foundation for their own character. Then, the GM creates one extra world that all of these characters are pulled into. Is it a celestial nexus with a cosmic threat or a tournament of the gods? Do they break the fourth wall and appear in the real world?
It might seem strange that the humble student /doujinshi artist is teaming up with a cyborg monster hunter and a fanservice-plagued sentai hero, but they will no doubt find a way to combine their talents and save the day!

That’s all for this post. All of us at Tangent Artists wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, and game on!

-Dave Seidman-Joria

Quantum Ogre Theory


This week I learned about an interesting tool / cheat used by games masters: The Quantum Ogre. We’re going to briefly talk about what it is, how you can use it and/or avoid it. And of course, we thought we’d end the article with rules for including an actual reality-bending quantum ogre monster for your players to fight (because why not?)


The quantum ogre is a term for an obstacle (generally of light-medium difficulty) that the GM plans ahead-of-time and throws in the players’ path, whichever way they go.


GM: Before you stands a crossroads. The path on the left leads down into the valley, directly towards the castle. The path on right slopes upwards to the craggy peak that snake behind the castle keep.

Player: Man, this is tough… I think we go down into the valley.

GM: You come across an ogre!

Player: What would have happened if we went to the right? Another ogre?

GM: Uh, Maaaaaybe…

*GM notes: encounter 1 – definitely an ogre*


The reasons are simple enough: 

Players like to have choices (or fail that, the illusion of choice)

  • Writing an entire adventure is demanding enough for a GM; asking them to write an adventure where there are 2+ outcomes for each decision, i.e. prepping twice the material that will actually be used… is ridiculous.
  • It makes it easier to work in essentially plot points, thus typing combat with story (ex. The quantum ogre also carries a quantum letter that needs to fall into the players’ hands.)
  • It works


Resorting to this trick may make your players feel like they don’t REALLY have free choice; they are essentially on a railroad with only 2 results: a pre-written destination, or their deaths. 

Personally, I don’t mind a little railroading or quantum trickery when dealing with a one-shot, or if the players decide to deviate way off track and I’m improvising. However, when in comes to campaigns, there might be better ways to make the players feel like there are options.


Trick 1:

Whenever the party is about to embark on a big adventure, the GM should ask lots of probing questions about what the players want to accomplish, and what’s their ideal situation; next, break down this ideal scenario into smaller items This will give you several dials you can play with, and inspiration for obstacles. 

Keep in mind the old Project Management Triangle: GOOD, CHEAP, FAST: you can only PICK TWO.

Description: triangle, with the corners labeled “cost,” “time,” “product (scope / quality)”

In other words, you can produce something Good & cheap (but slowly); OR good and fast (but at high cost); OR cheap and fast (but poor quality).

Similarly, if a GM can get 2-4 priorities from the players, the GM can offer choices; each scenarios offers some of those qualities, but not all.


Players: We want to approach the castle.

GM: Okay, how do you approach? What do you ideally want to happen and not happen on the way there?

Player: Well, we want to get there without signaling our approach; we want to avoid fights; and we want to get there before nightfall (while the vampire lord is still asleep).

GM: Okay! Before you is a fork in the road. The lower path leads into the valley that stretches before the castle. The path on the right leads up into the craggy hills.

What the players don’t know is that:

  • The path to the left will get them there quickly and without fight, (but they will be noticed, giving enemies inside enough time to get their good armor on)
  • The path to the right will get them to the castle before night and without raising the alarm, (but they they can’t avoid the fight with the ogre ).
  • This also opens up an optional 3rd option, to utilize any spellcasters or rogues: maybe there’s a secret path through the sea caves filled with magical locks*; if the PCs don’t role perfectly, they are stuck opening them slowly over many hours. Thus, they get their stealthily and without fight, (but not before sunset).

*Note: While it’s fun to tease the PLAYERS with an occasional riddle, this is not always required; besides, that is rewarding the players for being smart; sometimes it’s important to let the characters be smart (or dumb) on their own. An obstacle can be as simple as saying, “There’s a magical door in front of you, asking for the correct password. Roll Arcana”; Based on the roll, tell them how many minutes or hours it takes them to research and provide the right word. If you want to make it more dramatic, you can add a penalty for each botched attempt, like a sinking ceiling or a magical attack, but this is not required.

Trick 2 – Don’t Plan an Encounter, Plan a Difficulty

This works mostly for story-games like Fate, but when prepping your adventure, don’t plan a minor battle as “a conflict with a guard with Superb +5 in Fight”; rather, think of it as “An obstacle with a difficulty value of Superb +5.” 


GM: You approach the city walls. 

*The GM wants to give the players a mild obstacle, but nothing too impossible; if they have a Great +4 to a skill, they set the difficulty of the first obstacle of this session a little higher, namely Superb +5.*

GM: Do you approach by the city gate, or scale the walls?

*If they go through the front, they will will encounter an ogre sergeant who’s not easily persuaded or beaten; roughly Superb +5 to defend against approach, give or take +1/-1.

Similarly, if they decide to scale the walls, they will find that doing so safely and quietly is very hard; again, difficulty Superb +5.*

Player: Actually, you said that a river ran through the city; I want to go underwater, and try to infiltrate that way.

The GM didn’t think of this; good thing they didn’t spend a lot of time fleshing out that Sergeant! The GM tells them there’s a grate blocking access to the city via the river; It’s possible to squeeze through or pry it open, but the difficulty is (you guessed it) Superb +5!

With non-fate RPGs, this can also be done, but easier when thinking of Challenge Ratings. 

  • The players want to go through the gate? They have to fight a ogre sergeant with CR 2.
  • They want to swim through the river? They are attack by four crocodiles (which add up to CR 2). 
  • Want to open a secret door? If they fail, the infiltrator is hit with a booby trap attack (that happens to be the same as two javelin attacks from a CR2 ogre.)

That’s it for the lofty game theory discussions: here are the rules for a Quantum Ogre (first for D&D 5e, then for Fate Core and Fate Accelerated)

Quantum Ogre

The quantum ogre, or as it’s sometimes called, the Schrödinogre*, is a rare creature born amidst a temporal storm. As such, it naturally shimmers and projects duplicate versions of it, allowing you to peek into alternate timelines to see where the being could have potentially gone. Thus, it’s hard to be sure which of the fractal ogres is the real one unless you observe it closely, or until it brings a heavy club down on your head.

*Credit where it’s due, my wife came up with “Schrödinogre.” She insisted I credit her so people** don’t forget that.

**Mostly Me.

D&D 5e Rules

Large giant, neutral evil
Armor Class 12 (Hide Armor)
Hit Points 90 (10d10 + 35)
Speed 40 ft.
21 (+5)
9 (-1)
18 (+4)
6 (-2)
10 (+0)
8 (-1)
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 8
Languages Common, Giant
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)
Natural Mirage.Quantum Ogres always appear in pairs, at least to the untrained eye. Once per day, whenever you encounter a quantum ogre, it is accompanied by an illusionary double; treat it as if the ogre had cast the illusion spell Project Image, without requiring a spell slot, action or spell components. It can be dispelled or sensed just the spell normally allows.
Avoidance. If the Quantum Ogre is subjected to an effect that allows it to make a saving throw to take only half damage, it instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if it fails.
Displacement. The Quantum Ogre projects a magical illusion that makes it appear to be standing near its actual location, causing attack rolls against it to have disadvantage. If it is hit by an attack, this trait is disrupted until the end of its next turn. This trait is also disrupted while the Quantum Beast is incapacitated or has a speed of 0.


Multiattack. The Quantum Ogre makes two attacks with either javelin or greatclub.

Greatclub. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d8 + 5) bludgeoning damage.

Javelin. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 30/120 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) piercing damage.


Quantum Ogre

High Concept: A reality shifting brute

Aspects: Craven Bully; Hard to pin down; Hits like a Bull; Shadow Double* (see stunt)

Fantastic 6+ – Physique
Superb 5+ Fight – Stealthy
Great 4+ Notice, Intimidation, Will


Natural Mirage. Quantum Ogres always appear in pairs, at least to the untrained eye. Treat it is if there is a second ogre, which can only interact in non-physical ways (ex. Intimidate, Notice); once a character successfully attacks the ogre’s double, you may compel the Shadow Ogre aspect to have the attack automatically fail (however, the player gains a fate point). Alternatively, you may have the attacking player make a successful Notice roll, to overcome a Difficulty of 5; if they succeed, they may forgo the fate point and take an alternative action this turn instead. Either way, the double is revealed to all characters nearby, and it can take no actions except moving around.

Avoidance. If the Quantum Ogre is subjected to an effect that allows it to avoid harm. It has armor +1 (ignoring the first stress from each attack).

Displacement. The Quantum Ogre projects a magical illusion that makes it appear to be standing near its actual location, causing attacks to falter. When defending against any fight, shoot, or magical attack, the Ogre may defend with the Stealth skill and gains +2 to the result. It may not use this stunt if it was already hit by an attack this round, or has an aspect that hinders it’s abilities (ex. Chained to the floor; blinded by sand.)

Bitter Rage. Once per round, if an Ogre attempts an attack against one character and was not successful, the GM may pay a Fate point to have the Ogre take an additional attack action against another character.


Quantum Ogre

High Concept: A reality shifting brute

Aspects: Craven Bully; Hard to pin down; Hits like a Bull; Shadow Double* (see stunt)

Superb 5+ Forceful
Great 4+ Sneaky
Good +3 – Quick, Careful


Natural Mirage. Quantum Ogres always appear in pairs, at least to the untrained eye. Treat it is if there is a second ogre, which can only interact in non-physical ways (ex. Intimidate, Notice); once a character successfully attacks the ogre’s double, you may compel the Shadow Ogre aspect to have the attack automatically fail (however, the player gains a fate point). Alternatively, you may have the attacking player make a successful Notice roll, to overcome a Difficulty of 5; if they succeed, they may forgo the fate point and take an alternative action this turn instead. Either way, the double is revealed to all characters nearby, and it can take no actions except moving around.

Avoidance. If the Quantum Ogre is subjected to an effect that allows it to avoid harm. It has armor +1 (ignoring the first stress from each attack).

Displacement. The Quantum Ogre projects a magical illusion that makes it appear to be standing near its actual location, causing attacks to falter. When defending against any fight, shoot, or magical attack, the Ogre gains +2 to defending with Sneaky. It may not use this stunt if it was already hit by an attack this round, or has an aspect that hinders it’s abilities (ex. Chained to the floor; blinded by sand.)

Bitter Rage. Once per round, if an Ogre attempts an attack against one character and was not successful, the GM may pay a Fate point to have the Ogre take an additional attack action against another character.

That’s it for today. If you like the D&D version, you can also find it at DNDBeyond and add it to your campaign. As always, please share, subscribe, and game on!

-Dave Seidman Joria, Tangent Artists

Gallery of Rogues – More DnD Rogue Subclasses for 5e


Hello again, Tangerines! We’ve been toiling behind the scenes on more Rogue Subclasses for Dungeons & Dragons 5e. Want to sneak a peek? Well, sneaking is what rogues are all about.


Writer’s Note: The Footpad is an attempt to add some more hand-to-hand Fighter elements. It includes skills that work with a higher skill, as well as things to pick up Dex, should it be lagging behind.

3rdBlunt Strike, Skilled Fighter
9thDouble Attack
13thReliable Talent
17thStunning Blow

Blunt Strike

Starting at 3rd level, you can make Sneak Attacks using non-finesse melee weapons, as well as with thrown weapons.

Skilled Fighter

Starting at 3rd level, you may choose a martial melee weapon; your rogue is proficient in that weapon. 

Double Attack

Beginning at 9th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn. (Reminder: you can only once Sneak Attack once per turn).

Reliable Form

Starting at 13th level, you may pick one: Strength Checks or Dexterity checks. You may use Reliable Talent on any non-skill ability checks. (Ie. You can treat a d20 roll of 9 or lower as a 10.)

Stunning Blow

Starting at 17th level, when you attack and hit a creature that is surprised, it must make a Constitution saving throw (DC 8 + your Dexterity modifier + your proficiency bonus). On a failed save, the creature is stunned until the end of your next turn.


Writer’s note: the Highwayman is all about mounted combat. The addition of Steed Summoner is really to tackle the biggest problem with mounted characters; that it’s sometimes hard to bring a horse with you, so why not have a magic steed you can summon anywhere? The Cunning Disguise is just a flavorful twist that lets a rogue live a double life: as a rogue, and as an “honorable subject.”

3rdSteed Summoner, Born to the Saddle
9thCunning Disguise
13thMidnight Rider, Bonus Proficiency
17thStuff of Nightmares

Steed Summoner

Starting at 3rd level, you gain the spell Phantom Steed, which you may cast without spell slots. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again (except to end the spell and dismiss) until you finish a short or long rest. If you own a steed already, if the GM allows, you may spend 10 minutes and bind your steed as a ritual, allowing you to dismiss and summon your steed instead; a real steed summoned this way doesn’t disappear after an hour or if it takes damage. 

Born to the Saddle

Starting at 3rd level, your mastery as a rider becomes apparent. You have advantage on saving throws made to avoid falling off your mount. If you fall off your mount and descend no more than 10 feet, you can land on your feet if you’re not incapacitated.

Finally, mounting or dismounting a creature costs you only 5 feet of movement, rather than half your speed.

Steve’s Notes 05/17/2020: I haven’t looked but if there is a penalty for firing a bow while mounted I think we should add to the list that the Highwayman suffers no penalty for that

All the rules I’ve read for mounted don’t mention missiles or shooting at all, so I think we’re good. 

Cunning Disguise

Starting at 9th level, you may spend 20gc to purchase a highwayman disguise; this comprises a mask and other mundane items that obscure your face and shape, and can be worn over armor. Whenever you change out of the disguise, no one will recognize you in normal garb, or vice versa. Anyone investigating you will not suspect you more than others, and you have advantage on any Charisma (Deception) check you make to avoid detection. This does not apply if there are obvious facts to link the two together (ex. Someone finds the disguise in your bag; a colleague addresses in both guises by the same name; you ride a stolen horse past it’s owner). You may only create one highwayman persona at a time, but you may buy additional backup disguises at 20gc apiece (should you need to stash them).

Midnight Rider

Starting at 13th level, any mount in your control may take the Hide action (provided there’s suitably big enough cover). In addition, if you have sufficient cover (ex. Foliage, darkness), you may move at normal speed on foot or mounted and still move stealthily.

Bonus Proficiency

Starting at 13th level, you gain proficiency in one of the following skills of your choice: Animal Handling, Intimidation, or Persuasion. 

Stuff of Nightmares

Starting at 17th level, whenever you use Steed Summoner to cast Phantom Steed, you may instead summon a single Nightmare fiend, which is loyal to you. It does not disappear when attacked, and can be summoned for up to 3 days at a time before it must be resummoned.


Writer’s notes: ideally, the saboteur is a rogue that focuses less about stealing and more about deconstructing; laying bombs, taking machines apart.

3rdDisarm Trap, Deconstruct Opponents
9thBuild Explosive
17thDeconstruct Objects

Disarm Trap

Starting at 3rd level, if your character is aware of a trap that has not been triggered, they may choose one: to gain advantage on any Intelligence (Investigation) check to deduce how to disarm it OR may gain advantage on the Dexterity check using thieves tool to disarm it.

Deconstruct Opponents

Starting at 3rd level, whenever you make a Sneak attack against a creature that is a construct, you deal an extra +1D6 damage.

Build Explosive

Starting at 9th level, you gain proficiency with the alchemist’s supplies. In addition, if you have alchemist’s supplies on you, after finishing a long rest, you gain 2 Saboteur bomb; choose which type it deals from the following: acid, bludgeoning, fire, or thunder.

Saboteur bomb – weigh 1 lb

As an action, a character can light this bomb and throw it at a point up to 60 feet away. Each creature within 5 feet of that point must succeed on a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking Xd6 damage of the chosen type on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one, where X is your proficiency bonus. 

The saboteur bomb can also be rigged with a longer fuse to explode after a set amount of time, usually 1 to 6 rounds. Roll initiative for the bomb. After the set number of rounds goes by, the bomb explodes on that initiative.

A rogue will not carry any more than 6 saboteur bombs on them at a time; any more than this is tempting fate.


Starting at 13th level, you gain proficiency with Mason’s Tools, and also gain tremorsense of 30’. In addition, if you have a digging tool (shovel, miner’s pick), you gain burrow speed 10’ (does not allow you to dig through solid rock). 

Alt – once per turn, may gain burrowspeed on one move action; must end your above ground unless you have 

Alt – If you have a digging tool and are on loose ground (sand, dirt, mud), as an action, you can dig a 5’x5’ foxhole. Once dug, it provides 1/2 cover to any medium or smaller creature laying down on it, and can be used to justify hiding.

Deconstruct Objects

Starting at 17th level, whenever you attack an inanimate object with an appropriate weapon or tool (ex. A lock pick; an explosive; a miner’s pick), you may choose one: 

Add +X to your attack roll, where X is equal to your Sneak Attack dice

Deal extra damage to a successful hit, as if you had made a Sneak Attack. 

You can choose to use this feature before or after the roll, but before any effects of the roll are applied. As normal, you can only use Sneak Attack once per turn (which includes using it in this way)


Writer notes – The concept is to use each gambling as inspiration:
The Deck player focuses more or social interaction
The 3 Card player is about illusion and misdirection (mostly defensive)

The Dice player is about attacking and dice manipulation

3rdLying Face, Game of Choice Ability I
9thGame of Choice Ability II
13thVersatile Gamer
17thGame of Choice Ability III

Lying Face

Starting at 3rd level, you can cast the cantrip Prestidigitation; however, you can only use this to change the marking of a card, die, or similar gaming piece, and only to make it match a marking you are familiar with (i.e. appear as a different card or die roll). You can only do this with an object you can touch.

Game of Choice Ability I

Starting at 3rd level, pick one of the following tools: Playing Card set, Three Card Ante, or Dice set. You gain proficiency in that tool. In addition, that tool becomes your Game of Choice. Depending on which you choose, you will gain a special ability at 3rd level, 9th level, and 17th level. You will be able to pick a second Game of Choice at level 13. You must have the tool on you in order to use the ability.

  • Three Card Ante – Find the Object – You gain the ability to cast the cantrip Minor Illusion; however, when you do, you can only create image illusions of objects (i.e. not sound), and only by copying an object you can see. When you use this, you create not one but 2 illusion copies of that object.
  • Playing Card Set – Read the Player – When you gain this ability, pick one: ever you’re in a social situation with a humanoid, you gain advantage when using Insight (Wis) OR any opposing creature attempting to use Insight you is at a disadvantage.
  • Die Set – Lucky Strike – Whenever you have advantage on an attack roll and roll a double on the two d20s, if the attack hits, you may deal an extra 1d6 damage.

Game of Choice Ability II

Starting at 9th level, you gain an additional ability based on your Game of Choice.

  • Three Card Ante – Mirror image – You cast the spell Mirror Image at the lowest level without requiring spell slots or spell components. When you cast this, you only create two duplicates instead of three. Once you use their ability, you may not use it again until you have taken a short or long rest.
  • Deck of Cards – Sore Winner, Sore Lower –  After you have won or lost wager with another humanoid, if the wager is something of moderate value (ex. 5gc or more; a small favor), you may influence up to X targets who wager against you, where X is your proficiency bonus. Each of those targets must make a Wisdom saving throw or be influenced in one of the following ways:
    • You lost the wager: The target is charmed by you for 1 hour or until you or your companions do anything harmful to it. The charmed creature regards you as a friendly acquaintance. 
    • You won the wager: You compel the target into a duel. It has disadvantage on attack rolls against creatures other than you, and must make a Wisdom saving throw each time it attempts to move to a space that is more than 30 feet away from you; if it succeeds on this saving throw, this ability doesn’t restrict the target’s movement for that turn. This effect ends after 1 minute, if you attack any non-compelled creature, if a creature friendly to you damages the target or casts a harmful spell on it, or if you end your turn more than 30 feet away from the target.
  • Dice Set – Reckless Gambit – When you make your first attack on your turn, you can decide to attack recklessly. Doing so gives you advantage on melee or thrown weapons attack rolls during this turn, but attack rolls against you have advantage until your next turn.

Versatile Gamer

Starting at 13th level, you gain a second Game of Choice (i.e. you get all access to all Game of Choice Abilities for that specialty, if you are at the appropriate level).

Game of Choice Ability III

Starting at 17th level, you gain an additional ability based on your Games of Choice.

  • Three Card Ante – Major Image – You may cast the Major Image at the lowest level without requiring spell slots or spell components. When you cast this, you only create two duplicates instead of one. Once you use their ability, you may not use it again until you have taken a short or long rest. 
  • Deck of Playing Cards – Deck of Illusions – You may treat any deck of cards as if it were the magic item, Deck of Illusions. You may only reveal one card this way at a time. Once you successfully use this ability, you may not use it again until you have taken a short or long rest.
  • Dice Set – Double Trouble – Whenever you have advantage on a roll, and roll double 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9, you may add the results together.  

That’s it for the prototype Subclasses.

Steal This Tome: A Book of Scams, Alibis, Tells, Knaves, and Hidey Holes

As a quick reminder, Tangent Artists has a system agnostic Guild Guide book for Rogues: “Steal This Tome.” This humorous guide includes confidence scams, disguises, common poisons, hideouts, and a d20 table to generate alibis. The link above leads to the ebook, or you can buy a physical copy on Storeenvy

What are your thoughts? Are of them seem too weak, too strong, or just right? Which one excites you?

As always, thanks for reading, and Game On!

-Dave Joria

Additional Material from Steve Moyer




A Cosmic Horror Dark Comedy Micro RPG for 3-11 players

By Dave Seidman Joria


RPGs are funny; even though players know they are playing fictional characters, and thus are not at risk themselves, they will still act cautiously. There is a strange paradox of embodying adventurous characters who live dangerous lives, yet they still want to shelter them and be cautious.

So I had a strange idea: what if player death wasn’t something to be avoided, but embraced.

Thus, I’ve made a MicroRPG using a new, untested system:

The Inevitable Doom System


1d6s, paper, writing utensils. (The setting below also requires lots of slips of paper).


The players should collectively create a team of 5-10 playable characters. A small group of players (2-4) are encouraged to create 2 or 3 pcs each, while a large group of players (6-10) will only create one character each.

Each player creates a character with a name (don’t get too attached; they’ll be dead soon enough). They get to pick one stat to specialize in; this is the Specialty.

Examples: Mind, Body, Soul, Gut; Quick, Clever, Forceful, Flashy, Careful

Also, pick a Personality Flaw: ex. Vain; Too Curious; Never Back Down from a Fight

Equipment: Each player has two packs:

A basic pack, with generic things.

A specialty pack: filled with any special items related to their specialty.

Players don’t need to declare their items beforehand; they just naturally have them unless they are used up or lost.


The game consists of multiple Encounters; each encounter includes some obstacle or threat facing the team. At each Encounter, the GM will ask: What does your character do?

Each player will pick at least one of their characters that they control. They will decide how they react, and share it; this may be said aloud, or written down and then said aloud, depending on the scenario (see below).

The GM decides the order of actions (use common sense) and asks the player to roll a specific number of one-sided dice (d6s).

  • If the action matches their specialty, they roll 1d6.
  • If the action does not match their specialty, they roll 2d6.
  • If the action is particularly dangerous (ex. Jumping off a cliff; Punching an Elder God), the GM may ask them to roll 3 or more d6.


  • No 6s: If a roll consists only of dice with the values 1-5 (no 6s), the character survives. Depending on how they roll (low good, high bad) or the difficulty of the action, the GM can decide if they succeed effortlessly, or at some cost (ex. Costs include: they use up their rations; they lose all specialty items; they’re injured; they trigger a random encounter).
  • At least one 6 is rolled: If the character rolls at least one natural 6, the character meets their Inevitable Doom.

If more than one character rolls a 6 in the same encounter, the PC that rolled highest dies. In case of a tie, they both die! Horribly. Or suffer something worse than death (let the player pick).

The player is encouraged to come up how the character dies; if a cause of death is not clear, the GM is encouraged to help. (If a good reason isn’t obvious, see “Stupid Deaths” below).

Sidebar – The “Me First” Rule! – If another player INSISTS their character die instead (as it fits they story better), they can volunteer to die instead.

If there’s at least one surviving member of the party, they managed to overcome or sidestep the obstacle of the Encounter and move on to the next Encounter.

Continue going through all encounters until all characters are dead. Bonus: Players pick the favorite death (not including their own).

Sidebar – Spread the Love – In some scenarios, a player with no surviving PCs may have nothing to do. If so, players with 2+ characters are encouraged to share their survivors. (This is not the case in the following scenario, where players without characters are still involved as Whispers).


The following scenario is half “man-vs-nature” struggle in the Antarctic, and half cosmic horror. It’s also a parody of Lovecraft (with hopefully none of the racism).

Material – 1d6s, slips of paper (or 1/2 or index cards)


Pass around the random question chart.

Each player rolls, picks that question, and writes a brief (1-2 word) answer.

  1. What’s a word that makes you squeamish?
  2. Name an animal whose name starts with the same letter as your last name?
  3. What’s the dirtiest word you would say in front of your grandmother?
  4. What did you eat for lunch?
  5. What is your favorite color?
  6. What’s something you feared as a child?

The GM keeps these slips and sets them aside, these the Back-up Suggestions.


Decades ago, a strange pyramid was reported in the Antarctic, hidden inside a mountainous crater. A team went to find it, and never came back. It was assumed to be an optical illusion and a fool’s errand.

But now, the year is 1980. New reports of the pyramid are circulating, captured by spy planes and fuzzy satellite pictures. It could be a natural phenomenon. It could be the breakthrough of the century. It could be your doom.

You are the team sent to find out if the pyramid is real. Oh, and by the end of the game, every one of you will die.

Character Creation

Players will create characters as above. Suggested Specialties for this scenario:

Science! Wilderness
Action! Cowardice
Occult Greed
Heart Handiness

A basic pack: generic items for surviving the Antarctic: rations, flashlight, rope, radios, etc.

A specialty pack: filled with any special items related to their specialty (ex. Science has instruments and satellite phone; Action has a rifle and dynamite; Occult has dowsing rods and wards; Heart has med kits and pictures of family, etc.).


1st Encounter

Sidebar – For suggestions on the Scenario, see the Suggested Encounters Table

During the first encounter, the GM will ask players to react to the Encounter. However, the players will write their reactions on slips of paper; these are called “Reaction Slips.” After everyone is done writing, the players reveal what they wrote and roll.

After the end of the first encounter, the GM collects all Reaction Slips to the side, but does NOT discard them.

2nd Encounter

Starting with the 2nd encounter, the teammates start hearing unearthly voices in their head.
The GM will describe the 2nd encounter as they did the 1st. The players will write their responses and keep them hidden.

The GM, however, will also submit a suggestion slip; this is called a Whisper. A Whisper can come from a discarded Reaction Slip, from a Backup Slip, or from the GM themselves.

The GM then picks a random player; they give that player the slip. The player shuffles their Reaction with the Whisper, picks one at random, and follows the action on it. If it is the Whisper, the PC must attempt to do the substituted action, rolling like normal. Once a “Whisper” has been used by a player, discard it completely.

If the PC’s action did not kill the PC but did not clear the obstacle, the GM may ask that the PC complete their original intended action, rolling as normal. Alternatively, the GM may just decide that the obstacle is cleared (ex. Another pc might have resolved it during their action).

Using the Backup Slips: A GM may give a Backup slip as a whisper. These are vaguer than normal; when these are revealed, the PC treats it as a dangerous threat, rolling 3d6. Using the slip as inspiration, the player and GM should work together describing the dangerous, compulsive action the PC took (if they survived), or the bizarre threat that killed them (if they died).

Ex. The PC reveals a Whisper Backup Slip that says “Red.”

If they live:

  • The player may decide that their character became enraged and ran off on their own.

If they died:

  • They might explain how they exploded (at some badly cooked shoggoth?)
  • They hallucinate the color red, causing them to walk into a chasm
  • They get crushed from a falling red Chevy Corvette (nothing’s too weird for this game.)

3rd + Encounters

The GM continues with the adventure. They may give out an increasing number of Whisper slips (i.e. 2, 3, 4) with each encounter until at least 1 player is dead. The GM should do their best to give out whispers evenly, avoiding hitting the same person multiple times in a row.

Special Scenario Rules – Voices from the Dead

When a player dies, they are not out of the game; just like the GM, they are now passing Whisper slips on to the players. They can do one of the following:

  1. Pass out a used Reaction Slip. (This can be a slip that was written by any PC; if it is from their dead character, it is quite flavorful).
  2. Roll a D6: on a roll of 1-3, they write a harmful action, inspired by the dark forces of the mountain. On 4-6, they write a helpful action (at least, what their dead character would think of as “a good action”)

The GM and dead players should distribute the slips as evenly as possible between the living players.

Suggested Encounters

The following are inspired by Lovecraft’s Mountains of Madness; however, do not be afraid to stray all you want.

  1. Lost in the Artic snowstorm – Your transport breaks down partway to the mountain.
  2. Climbing the mountain – Scaling the frozen icy mountain to the peak.
  3. Opening the Cyclopean Door – Before you stands a massive door, too large to be made by humans. It is covered in eldritch language. How do you open it? SHOULD you open it?
  4. Albino Cave Penguins – You encounter giant, flesh eating Albino Cave Penguins, with electric tentacles.
  5. Falling Stalactites – Your encounter with the penguins has loosened the ceiling, and you must run to avoid being impaled by falling icicles.
  6. Cave In – There’s a cave in, and the way before you and behind are blocked by rock and ice.
  7. Don’t Wake the Sleeping Elder Thing – You find a lair of sleeping elder beings, which looks like frilled cucumbers.
  8. Shoggoth Attack – A giant, indestructible Shoggoth, the slug-like rebel servant of the Elder Things
  9. Mental Barrage – You come to the realization that humans were crafted by Elder Ones to serve as a food stock for their Shoggoth workers. Everything you know is a lie!
  10. Albino Cave Penguin Cult – Turns out the Cave Penguins were secretly cultists all along! They are not happy you interrupted their summoning.
  11. Elder God Awakens Returns – An Old One has returned, risen from the frozen wastes! (Pick one: might be Yog-Sothoh, or Cthulhu; maybe both, and they’re having a slap fight. If any PCs aren’t dead by now, have them roll a fist full of d6s).

Random Encounters (To Throw in when Flavorful)

  • The Group is Split – How will you find each other?
  • Dark, Cold and Hunger – You have lost your rations and are starting to grow hungry and cold
  • Sudden but Inevitable Betrayal – One of you is Secretly a Mi-Go, come to collect your brains.
  • Lost Something Vital – You lose something vital to the mission (ex. A key, a map, your satellite phone to signal the rescue team). How will you recover it?
  • Injured – Someone’s leg is badly hurt. Can you save them?


Stupid Deaths

Need a Stupid Death that can be used anywhere? Here are a few:

  • Alien Possession – Your mind and body functions are taken over by a Yith. Sadly, the Yith doesn’t realize that you need to breath, and you suffocate to death.
  • Ghouls – A pit opens beneath your feet, and you fall into a cavern of ravenous ghouls. (I hate when that happens).
  • Existential Crisis – You suddenly remembered that you don’t exist. You instantly cease to be.
  • Glowing Rock from Out of Space – You are crushed by colorful meteor that happened to land on your exact location. You are dead (or, worse still, become mutated into a half-dead monstrosity that serves as the next Encounter).
  • Finally Caught You – The grizzly, ghoulish hound that has been tracking you for years finally catches up with you, tracking you all the way to Antarctica. It tears you apart in seconds. Guess you shouldn’t have stolen that Jade Amulet from that grave all those years ago!
  • Light Reading – You pull out your “Necronomicon – Pocket Edition” and read a few pages before your mind dissolves.
  • Grizzly End – By some strange compulsion, you pick a fight with a polar bear. You lose badly. How the polar bear wound up at the SOUTH pole shall remain a mystery.

Got a chance to try it out? Any feedback? Please let us know. Until then, Game on!

-Dave Seidman Joria

Kobolds Galore! – 5e and Fate Core


Morning, Tangerines! This post, we thought we’d try to mix it up. Lately, I’ve been playing around with Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, and I created a few new sub-races for Kobolds. However, they were looking so lonely, I thought I’d keep it going; so I made some quick rules for using Kobolds in Fate Core.



(These subraces require the reader to own the Kobold rules from Volo’s Guide to Monsters)


(Note: this is the default Kobold as found in Volo’s Guide).
Modifiers: +2 Dexterity, -2 Strength
Darkvision, Sunlight Sensitivity
Grovel, Cower and Beg – See Volo’s
Pack Tactics – See Volo’s


The dragonwrought kobolds are unique, in that they bear some semblance of coloration, much like a dragonborn; this proves their lineage to the dragons may bear some creedance. Dragonshield kobolds are similar, except that they were born normal kobolds, but were gifted by dragons to make them better guards for their eggs. They are typically stronger, revered in their tribes, and have longer life spans.

Choose: +2 Strength, +2 Charisma, or +1 to each.
Limitations: Cannot use “Grovel, Cower and Beg”; you’re too proud!


Dragon Resistance: Pick a dragon lineage:

Black / Copper Acid
Blue / Bronze Lightning
Red / Brass / Gold Fire
Green Poison
White / Silver Cold

You have resistance to the damage type associated with your draconic ancestry.

Dragonborn Related: If your group uses the optional Feat rules, when you take a feat, you have access to Feats with the prerequisite “Dragonborn.”


You are a special kobold, born with the unique feature of wings. This makes you a pariah in the community, for your supposed link to the a renegade god.

Choose: +1 Intelligence, or +1 Wisdom

Limitations: May not use Pack Tactics against an enemy who is within 5’ of you; this does not include enemies that are the target.

Flight: You gain a flight speed of 30’, provided you are not wearing medium or heavy armor.


Choose: Only +1 Dex (instead of +2). However, you gain +1 to any Skill

Limitations: You don’t speak Draconic.

City Folk: You have a different dialect that other Kobolds spot and resent. You are at a disadvantage when using Deceive to convince other non-city Kobolds you’re one of them, and disadvantage when using Persuasion against non-city Kobolds.

Special Rules: You may start with one feat from the feat chart; in addition, you may pick feats that would normally require the prerequisite “Human.”

That’s it for D&D stuff. As a little bit of a plug, don’t forget that Tangent Artists also does webcomics, including the swords, sorcery, and sarcasm series, CRIT!

You can read it on Crit Webtoon and our Crit Webcomic, including the very first adventure, which features this little guy.




Kobold Player Character

High Concept: Kobold Rogue
Trouble: Fight or Flight
Aspect: Coldblooded (but not Heartless); Team Player
Country Kobold: Stranger in a Strange Land
Dragonwrought: I’m the Big Fish in My Pond
Urd: I Fly Solo
City Kobold: Need to be Useful

Great +4 – Athletics
Good + 3 – Stealth, Shoot
Fair +2 – Fight, Notice, Deceive
Good +1 – Craft, Will, Burglary, Provoke

Too Small to Hit – You can use Athletics instead of fight whenever Defending against an opponent that’s larger than you.


Kobold Soldiers (Mob)

Aspect: Smelly, Scaly, Skittish
Skills: Average +1  Fight, Athletics
Stress: 1
Conditions: 1

Spears – Unless they are ambushed, the warriors armed with Spears always have the option of acting first in the first round of any physical combat scene.

Pack Mentality – When using Fight skill to Attack, a mob of Kobold add double their teamwork bonus. However, if they use this bonus and succeed, they can only deal a maximum amount of stress they can deal is 2 per round.
(Tip: An easy way to find the total is: X = 2xSize – 1; i.e. a group of 3 will Attack with +5; group of 4 will attack with +7; etc.)


Kobold Trap Master (NPC)

High Concept: Kobold Engineer Tactician

Aspect: I Prepared for That; Glass Jaw

Good +3 – Craft
Fair +2 – Stealthy, Fight

Hidden Obstacles – In any scene in which a Kobold Trap Master is present (or has been present), the GM picks up to three zones and adds the aspect “Potential Trap” as an obstacle to each. If a non-kobold character tries to move through a zone with a Potential Trap, a player may invoke the aspect to create a trap; replace the Potential Trap aspect and replace it with a trap aspect, named however you want, with one free unfriendly invoke; depending on trap, this may create an obstacle (that opposes the character’s movement through the zone), deal an Attack (Fair +2), or something similar. As their action for the round, a character within 1 zone of a Potential Trap may use the overcome action to attempt to find it (Difficulty +2); a successful roll will either remove the Potential trap (it was never there), or reveal the trap (Placing it on the board) and making it less lethal (it loses the free invoke). Revealed traps may also be disarmed or sidestepped (using overcome).

Alternate Rules: Alternatively, if your group has a character with a high Notice, you can make the value of a sprung trap more difficult (Great +4), but the character gets a free Notice defense roll to dodge or circumvent it. (Spotting it as an Overcome action is still only a Difficulty Fair +2).

That’s it for today. Any monsters you’d like to see in 5e or Fate? Let us know! Until then, GAME ON!

-Dave Joria – Twitter

Tangent Artists – Twitter

DOMESTIC SERVANT – D&D Roguish Archetype


Hello, gamers! Today we thought we’d try something new: a class archetype for 5e Dungeons & Dragons!

(Fate fans, fear not: I still plan to write plenty of stuff for Fate, but it’s nice to try out new stuff every once in a while).

Story: While talking to a friend,  Kara Dennison, writer for CruncyRoll (follow her on twitter @RubyCosmos), I was thinking about how Japanese RPG games (JRPGs) and Western RPGs differ. For example, in many JPRGs like Fire Emblem, players learn one skill at base level (ex. white magic using Cleric, a fighter, a rogue), and then merge the two together to form a 2nd level multi-class level (ex. cleric + fighter = paladin). Many of these, like the paladin, have equivalents in Western RPGs too; except for the Maid / Butler.

In JRPG games, the Maid or Butler combines the roles of rogue/assassin (ambushing, ignoring defenses) with the roles of a healer. It occurred to me: why not have a similar role in Dungeons and Dragons?

So, after consulting with D&D savvy friends of mine, we give you the first draft of a Rogue (with a touch of Paladin) archetype, the Domestic Servant!

*Warning* It has not be playtested at this time.


333px-Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_The_Bower_GardenA wizened human nursemaid, who watches her adult charge like a mother bear. A tiefling butler who carries out his master’s wishes with much alacrity and little morals. A nimble halfling gardener whose courage far surpasses his size.

You have chosen the path of the domestic servant, a loyal attendant who is bound to another person by oath; they hold this oath sacred and few things else. Your mission is twofold: to heal your master when they are injured, and to eliminate anyone who would seek them harm.

How did you fall into this lot? Perhaps you were a street urchin given employment and a second-chance by a rich benefactor. Maybe you were an assassin or spy in your youth, and settled into the serving life as you “retired.” Maybe you’re a devoted bodyguard who acts the part of a domestic servant so others will underestimate you.


  1. Safety – You will keep your master safe no matter what.
  2. Obedience – You will get the results your master needs. If possible, you will achieve those ends in using the means your master prefers.
  3. Humility – You will not upstage your master; they are the focus, not you. It is best to speak when spoken to and be seen only when your master needs you to be seen.
  4. Hospitality – You will offer hospitality to those who do not have it. Should they accept, nothing is more important than the safety of a guest, except the safety of your master.

Note to DMs: At this current time, we don’t have any rules for a Domestic Servant that breaks any of the oaths. However, as a means of positive reinforcement, we encourage DMs to freely reward Domestic Servants with inspiration when they act in the spirit of these oaths (even if it’s detrimental to themselves or their party.)


There are many types of Domestic Servants that your rogue can be, depending on which era you are evoking and the role of your master. These include but are not limited to:

Butler, maid, valet, handmaid or handmaiden, squire, lady-in-waiting, bodyguard, manservant, cook, governess, nurse, nanny, batman, orderly, chamberlain, secretary, gardener, tutor, coachman, steward.

Note: We did not include “slave,” “bondservant,” or “indentured servant” because a. OWNING ANOTHER PERSON IS WRONG, and b. If the domestic servant is allowed to leave at any time without legal repercussions, it makes their decision to stay that much more meaningful.

Domestic Servant Features

Rogue Level Feature
3rd Master’s Bond, Servant’s Life, Spellcasting
9th Saving Instinct
13th Wine and Dine
17th Raise their Spirits


At level 3, you may pick another character to be your master (or mistress, or similar title). We recommend another PC in party, but it can be an NPC that is frequently with the party to.

Whenever you use a spell with spell slot 1 or an item to heal the master, they heal an additional 1 wound. If use a spell slot of 2 or higher, they instead regain extra wounds equal to the spell slot used.

You may only change your master:

  1. When your rogue goes to another level.
  2. Should the master die and be past the point of resurrection.


At level 3, you know the secret language used by servants “below stairs”; the ability “thieves cant” is extended to also include servants, allowing you to slow communicate in a way non-servants don’t understand.

Also, your rogue gains proficiency of your choice of the following: Calligrapher’s Supplies OR Cook’s Utensils.


When you reach 3rd level, you gain the ability to cast spells. See Spells Rules for the general rules of spellcasting and the Spells Listing for the paladin spell list.


You learn three cantrips chosen from the following list: Guidance, Light, Mending, Message, Prestidigitation, Spare the Dying, Resistance. You learn another cantrip of your choice from this list at 10th level.

Spell Slots

The Domestic Servant Spellcasting table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your paladin spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.

For example, if you know the 1st-level spell searing smite and have a 1st-level and a 2nd-level spell slot available, you can cast searing smite using either slot.

Spells Known of 1st-Level and Higher

You know three 1st-level paladin spells of your choice, two of which you must choose from the enchantment and illusion spells on the paladin spell list.

The Spells Known column of the Domestic Servant Spellcasting table shows when you learn more paladin spells of 1st level or higher. Each of these spells must be a spell of your choice, and must be of a level for which you have spell slots. For instance, when you reach 7th level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level.

Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the paladin spells you know with another spell of your choice from the paladin spell list. The new spell must be of a level for which you have spell slots, and it must be an enchantment or illusion spell, unless you’re replacing the spell you gained at 8th, 14th, or 20th level.

Spellcasting Ability

Charisma is your spellcasting ability for your paladin spells, since you learn your spells through your passion and conviction. You use your Charisma whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Charisma modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a paladin spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier


      Spells Slots per Spell Level    
Rogue Level Cantrips Known Spells Known 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
3rd 3 2 2      
4th 3 3 3      
5th 3 3 3      
6th 3 3 3      
7th 3 4 4 2    
8th 3 4 4 2    
9th 3 4 4 2    
10th 4 5 4 3    
11th 4 6 4 3    
12th 4 6 4 3    
13th 4 6 4 3 2  
14th 4 7 4 3 2  
15th 4 7 4 3 2  
16th 4 7 4 3 3  
17th 4 7 4 3 3 1
18th 4 7 4 3 3 1
19th 4 8 4 3 3 1
20th 4 9 4 3 3 1



At certain levels, your Domestic Servant will gain access to the following oath of the domestic servant spells. Once you gain access to an oath spell, you always have it prepared. Oath spells don’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day. If you gain an oath spell that doesn’t appear on the paladin spell list, the spell is nonetheless a paladin spell for you.

Domestic Level Spells
3rd Cure Wounds
9th Pick One: Warding Bond or Find Steed
13th Pick one: Leomund’s Tiny Hut or Create Food & Water
17th Raise Dead



Starting at 9th level, when you use Evasion to dodge out of area effect, you may attempt to save another character within 10”. You must choose to use this ability before either of you have rolled to save; if the target agrees, this single roll is made for both of you, and the target does not get to roll to save. Depending on how you roll, either one or both of you may avoid damage, or either or both of you may suffer worse.


If you succeed Dexterity save Both take no damage Both take no damage
If you fail Dexterity save Both take full damage You take full damage, the master takes half damage



Starting at Level 13, whenever your rogue provides a character with food, drink, shelter or comfort (ex. a bonfire in the cold) to a character, all members of your party gain advantage on any Persuasion (Charisma) checks against that character for the next hour.


Starting at level 17th, when you use the spell Raise Dead, you do not have to use spell components (it is assumed your rogue stole them at some point in the past). In addition, if the character raised is your master, every time the resurrected master finishes a long rest, the penalty is reduced by 2 with each rest (instead of 1) assuming the Domestic Servant is there to help with the recuperation process.

Have any thoughts? Have you tried it out? Let us know!

Until next time, Tangent Artists and Dave Joria says, GAME ON!

Fate Accelerated – Adding More Crunch


Howdy, folks! This post, I’m sharing another rules hack (two, actually).

I LOVE Fate Accelerated. I’ve run it at conventions and one-shots with kids and adults of every age.

However, I’ve asked players who prefer Fate Core skills over approaches, and I generally hear three different complaints:

  • Players spam their lead approach for every action
  • There’s not enough complexity / crunch
  • In large parties, player’s expertise overlap (not enough differentiation)

Then, to extrapolate even more about locked actions (as created in Save Game and discussed in a previous blog post), let us consider:

What if we split each approach up into multiple actions? Or better yet, into a sort of “sub-skill”?

With 6 approaches, each with 4 actions, becomes 24 skills.

Approaches – To help with alliteration, we’ve decided to rename “careful” as “peaceful,” “flashy” as “blaze” and “Quick’ as “zip”. (Which is not perfect, but works for a blog).


Approaches –


o- Fracture
Caa – Fault
A – Fight
D – Forebear



o- Crack
Caa – Conjure
A – Capture
D – Circumvent



o-  Pick Apart
Caa – Perceive
A – Placate
D – Protect



o-  Split
Caa – Shroud
A – Stab
D – Shirk



o- Blow over
Caa – Bedazzle
A – Befriend
D – Blind



o- Zoom
Caa –  Zero In
A – Zap
D – Zig-zag

Q. What is your level of approach?

A. For ease, I would recommend that PCs have all sub-skills within the same approach all share the same level . Ex. All unlocked Forceful skills be Good +3; all unlocked Clever be at Fair +2. 

Q. How many do the players start out unlocked, and which ones?

There are several ways to do this:

a. Players are given a certain number of points to unlock any subskills they want (mandatory: at least 1 skill for every approach over Average +1.)

b. Players unlock N subskills of their choice for each approach over Average +1. (N would equal either 2 or 3). (ex. 2 unlocked for Forceful, 2 unlocked for Clever)

c. For flavor reasons, each approach has a specific approach auto-unlocked, and players get to unlock N additional subskills (either 1 or 2). (ex. Forceful at Good +3 would have Attack unlocked and a second action; Clever at Fair +2 would have Create an Advantage and a second action).

d. Reverse tiered – the lower to value, the more skills are unlocked. (Ex. One unlocked at Great +4, two unlocked at Good +3, etc.)

Personally, I think B

Q. If I haven’t unlocked an action/ skill, can I still use it?

A. Of course! However, you get no bonuses. (Alternatively, I could imagine paying a fate point to temporarily “unlock” an action.)

Q. Can I have more than two actions unlocked?

A. Not by default. However, stunts can unlock it in set circumstances. Ex. Suave Swashbucker – you may use Flashy to make attacks when you are armed with a rapier. 

Q. Do NPCs have actions locked?

A. No. To keep things simple, NPCs always have access to all 4 actions.


Before I finish with this post, I had one last idea: what if you used the same Approach/lock/unlock set-up with Fate Core? Perhaps this is a new way to bundle skills for fast character creation.

I call this FATE Accelerated Bundled Core, or FATE ABC







Q. How would this work?

1.. GM’s would pick a pyramid type, either Tall or wide.

  • Tall: Approaches have 1x Great +4, 1x Good +3, 1x Fair +2, 2x Average +1, 1x Mediocre +0
  • Wide: Approaches have 1x Good +3, 2x Fair +2, 2x Average +1, 1x Mediocre +0

2. Players would pick their approaches based on that frame (Ex. Forceful at Good +3, Clever at Fair +2).

3. Players would then pick 2 skills under each approach that’s Average +1 or higher: those two skills are unlocked. The third skill is “zeroed out” (as in, can be used, but at Mediocre +0). Here’s an example (using the Tall set up):

fate abc2

Q. How does it compare to normal character creation?

A. In theory, it should be a lot faster. For example, picking 10 skills requires 10 decisions (or, by reverse, 8 skills you choose to not have). With this system, players pick 1 approach to have at zero, and then one of three skills that’s zeroed out- thus, you’re only making 6 choices.

Q. How does this compare to Skill Bundles from Toolkit / Atomic Robo?

The Advantage of this system is that it creates PCs that have skills that overlap in flavor, but still can be unique.

Take Fight for example: It results in 4 different PCS with 4 different feels:

Zero Drive – A strong a burly character that’s not good with machines.

Zero Physique – A tough scrappy get-away driver who might be physically tiny

Zero Fight – A gentle giant who loves machines

Stunts / No Zeroes – Using stunts, this character is can conditionally access all three skills.

Further Advantages

1. Another fun advantage is it provides a nice shorthand for stunts – by adding in the approaches, we now have another value to reference and technology.

  • Calm Mind – Once per session, I gain +1 to each of my Careful skills for the duration of the scene.
  • Cornered Trash Talker – When I have taken stress or a consequence, I unlock Provoke (same value as my Clever).
  • Backstab – If you are attacking an opponent who is not expecting your attack, you may use Fight skill using your Sneaky Approach value instead.

This saves players having to think of a direct parallel for substitution skills – rather, they have to pick a general approach that covers the category.

2. NPCS – The greatest use would be the fact that NPCs can keep using Approaches; this means GMs spend less time and energy creating complex NPCs, and don’t have to worry about minor NPCs that are too vulnerable against a specific type of attack (ex. Having to give them all Will to protect against a psychic PC).

3. This system allows players with Core and players using Approaches at the same table. For example, you might have one experienced player use Core, while another player (perhaps someone who is less experienced, younger, or differently-abled) uses just the approaches. Balance should not be a major priority (as it’s cooperative), but if you wanted to make it more “even,” the PCs using straight approach would have fewer stunts (which reduces their complexity further still).

That’s it for this post! What are your thoughts? Would you use Locked or ABC set-up? Tell us what you think!


Fate World Tour – Secret of Cats


Welcome back, readers! Sorry for the small hiatus, had a busy few months (including a belated honeymoon.)

Next up on the Fate world tour, we visit one of the most popular Fate Worlds:

Secret of Cats

Author: Richard Bellingham
Artist: Crystal Frasier

Genre: Animal; Urban Fantasy; Gothic; Supernatural

Elevator Pitch: The Aristocats meets Supernatural

Full DescriptionCats are magical; cats understand sacrifice and the power of names. A decapitated mouse left on the doorstep or pillow is a powerful ward, and a spell wailed by the cat chorus confers even greater protection. When evil is on the rise and the safety of the neighbourhood is at stake the Parliament of Cats is there to stand firm against the darkness. Take Silver Ford, for example, a sleepy tourist town near a played-out old silver mine. When kids messing around in the mine accidentally rouse an ancient evil on All Hallows’ Eve, the secret and magical cats of the neighbourhood are the only thing protecting their special people from the things that go bump in the night. This 50 page Fate Core adventure provides everything you need to play from character generation to plot and setting ideas, including a new feline magic system based on true names and sacrifices made to protect your human Burdens. The Secrets of Cats. Sharpen your claws and prepare to defend your territory!


Subsystem: Skills – 13 Fate Core skills, + 4 New Magic Skills

General Mechanics:

Magic System – Magic is divided into 4 areas.  Warding – Defense; Naming – manipulate others; Shaping – manipulate self; Seeking – Divination.

Masters and Dabblers – At creation (and at milestones), cats can choose to be a master in one of the four magic types. If they do, they can access exclusive “master only” stunts.

Scale rules –Larger targets are easier to hit, but harder to deal stress to; the opposite also is true (smaller = harder to hit, deal extra stress.)

Spirits – Spirit NPCs use approaches instead of skills.


I’m gonna go ahead and say it; I’m not a cat person (I blame the allergies). Don’t get me wrong, I bear them no ill will, and wish every cat and cat owner long and happy days. However, roleplaying as a real-life cat doesn’t really grab me.

Which makes the following statement carry even more weight: this is a great world book, and you should definitely pick it up. Speaking as someone without pro-cat bias, I can see that this system is a perfect (purrfect?) gateway game for anyone wanting to hack Fate worlds of their own.

It has:

  • A skill list based on default Fate Core, but with minor alterations
  • Strong NPCs factions to play off of
  • Taboos that guide what steps a PC should / shouldn’t do (but no restrictions to keep a player from doing it)
  • A strong but simple adventure
  • Pre-gen tables for character creation.

Here are some more specific reactions:

Sapient vs. non-sapient: The setting establishes that all cats are sentient; however, not EVERY animal is sentient. I find this very clever and important; it lets the GM throw mindless beasts at them, with the occasional super intelligent ally / nemesis. However, it is especially important because cats power magic by “sacrificing” animals. If everything they sacrificed was sentient (or that they ate; cats are pure carnivores), they’d be absolute monsters, making them far less sympathetic protagonists.

Scale rules – I believe the scale rules were written previous to Secret of Cats, but I’ve never seen them better implemented. This really helps set the tone for smaller PCs living in a big world.


4 Masters Roles – The game guides the PCs into being a master of one of the four magic areas. Without too much work, I suspect this setting could be ported over to the Powered by the Apocalypse Engine (i.e. the system used in Apocalypse World, Dungeon World). Given the Urban Fantasy setting, it might be a great hack for Evil Hat’s PbtA game, Monster of the Week.



Courtesy Moribunt through CC License

Secret of Cars – While writing this blog post, I accidentally mistyped the title as “Secret of Cars.” As silly as it is, it’s hard to get the image out of your head. Picture it: benevolent compact cars and motorcycles saving their drivers from haunted hot-rods and gloom carts. It’s Herbie vs. Carrie: The RPG. Mechanically, it’d be easy: just reverse the scale rules, with cars interacting with smaller humans and appliances (which using “large scale” rules when attacking the occasional evil Big Rig).


Secret of Toys – This is a hack I’ve been wanted to do for years. One of these days, I’ll have to type it up. Same concept, except with toys and stuffed animals keeping children safe from nightmares (and worse).

Bunnicula – SoC seems the perfect setting for bringing your favorite childhood books to life.

More Animals? – Don’t want to play just cats? If so, you can use the Zootopia rules that only / mostly mammals are sentient.

Mash-Up – Merge with White Picket Witches. The Location settings for White Pickett is a great way to increase tension. You can even include human witch NPCs; maybe PCs are the cat familiars belonging to the Five Families?

Secret of Umdaar Cats – Merging Umdaar and SoC. (This idea came from Richard Bellingham himself, so I take no responsibility for it.) I’m not certain what this would look like; either feline humanoids surviving through magic, or the adorable cat sidekicks (a la Snarf and Kringer) being the real heroes behind the scenes.

That’s all for this post!

What world would you like to see next? Let us know!