Interview with Author Jean Rabe

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 25, 2021 by boccobsblog

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Jean Rabe about her latest novel, Black Heart of the Dragon God! I met Jean a few years ago at FlatCon and can honestly say that she is an amazing writer, cunning gamer, and sincere animal-lover.

While your most recent works have been modern mysteries, you’re no stranger to fantasy. How many D&D novels have you written?

A bunch. My first was Red Magic, a Harper’s book, it came out in 1991 … yeah, a good while back. I wrote two pick-a-path novels after that, also set in the D&D realms, then moved to Dragonlance, where I wrote three trilogies and three standalones. So … fifteen!

What is the weirdest thing you learned while writing this novel?

That female mountain goats have horns. I don’t suppose that’s a weird thing … but it was something I hadn’t known.

Did your experience writing Dragonlance novels prepare you for this project?

Certainly. I was a news reporter before I wrote fiction, and so I started with a tight style and used complete sentences. It took Bill Larson, the editor of Red Magic, to get me to relax. He insisted I sit and listen to strangers in cafes and in the park. “People do not talk in complete sentences.” At least not all the time. So I followed his advice, and my dialog got better and better. I still sit and listen to people in the park and in cafes, always with a notebook in hand.

Patrick McGilligan, who edited my Dragonlance novels, taught me to “take time with magic.” He said magic is awesome and amazing, and when you use it, draw it out with imagery. So I never had a character cast a magic missile spell. I had a character who concentrated, thrust out his arm and extended his fingers, felt his skin itch and warm, and then watched as darts of hot, bright light shot forth.

Brian Thomsen, who ran the book department for a while, and who later edited my novels for Tor, taught me to limit magic. The fewer characters able to cast it, the less magic in your world, the more special and wondrous the magic you employ comes across.

So writing Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance gave me better preparation for my own fiction, including Black Heart of the Dragon God.

What sets your protagonist, Goranth, apart?

He’s a musclebound former pirate who is wildly strong, wholly embraces life … and yet has a soft side and is willing to stick his neck out for strangers. He loves wealth, but he’s not greedy about it; he only wants his share.

Where would he land on the pineapple on pizza debate?

Never pineapple on pizza. Just meat.

Have you and Craig Martelle worked together before?

Craig edited an anthology called Metamorphosis Alpha 3: A Generation Ship Catastrophe Survived (Chronicles from the Warden). Here’s the link. I had a story in it; robots that went deadly nuts. Craig emailed me and asked why we hadn’t written anything together. I had a sword & sorcery novel outline in my computer that I’d not gotten around to writing. I sent it to him, asked if he was interested. I had such great fun writing with him. It turned into Black Heart of the Dragon God. We hope to get another Goranth the Mighty book out by summer’s end.

How does the sword & sorcery genre differ from high fantasy?

Hmmmmmmmm. I think sword & sorcery can be high fantasy, but not all high fantasy can be considered sword & sorcery. To me, a good sword & sorcery yarn is gritty, magic is limited, the main character is big and bold, and there is a good amount of blood. A lot of sword fights. I think high fantasy can be more polite and more politically complex. But … that’s just my take.

Could Goranth defeat Eleanor Roosevelt in a thumb wrestling match?

No. Goranth the Mighty would not participate in a thumb-wrestling match. Thumb wrestling is for children and drunkards.

Who is your cover artist?

Ain’t he great? Goranth’s artist is Didier Graffet, a French painter who specializes in fantasy and steampunk.

What was the most difficult part of writing this novel?

The death scenes. I love to kill characters. I think it makes the struggle or goal or prize more costly and feel more real when you off characters. Hopefully it gives readers a bit of a “gut punch.” But I also hate to kill characters … saying goodbye to someone you crafted.

Where can B3 readers purchase a copy of Black Heart of the Dragon God?

It goes on sale January 25th. It is available for pre-order now in ebook form. Paperbacks can be ordered on the twenty-fifth. I think people will want a paper copy because of the gorgeous Didier cover. Here’s the link.

An old friend gave us an awesome blurb/review. I feel compelled to share:

Ed Greenwood, Internationally Bestselling creator of Forgotten Realms had this to say…What if Conan wasn’t a grim loner, but a stalwart in a band who banter, bicker, and brawl their way through life? Then he’d be one of the heroes in Black Heart of the Dragon God. Real people, in the heart of adventure. This tale plunges you into their midst, to see and smell and feel what they do–as they change the world. And they’re good company; I can’t wait for sequels! Dangerous company, though. They start by hunting dragons…

My web page:

I am on Twitter

My Amazon author page

I have a newsletter filled with tidbits about weird news items, pics of my dogs, discussions of upcoming books, reviews of things I’m reading, and writing advice. You can subscribe here.

The Great Dulmuti is Here!

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering, Wizards of the Coast with tags , on November 17, 2020 by boccobsblog

The Great Dulmuti

The Great Dulmuti was a game by Magic: the Gathering creator Richard Garfield. Garfield based the game on a much older card game called, President, and published it in 1995. Now WotC has revised the game and given it a D&D theme. According to their website:

A Fast-Paced Card Game of One-Upmanship

Sometimes you roll a 1…

… and sometimes you roll a 20 and crush it! In the Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game, the dice may control your fate, but in The Great Dalmuti, it’s about how cleverly you play the cards you’re dealt. One round you’re polishing your royal crown, and the next you’re whacking rats in a filthy alley. It’s a gloat-filled, winner-take-all contest in this D&D-themed version of the classic card game.

Item details

Price: $14.99
Release Date: 17 November, 2020
Format: 4-8 players, ages 8 and up

Here are some samples of the cards:

You can see all the cards here. Do you use game like this or Three-Dragon Ante in your campaign?  The Great Dulmuti is available at your FLGS and Amazon.

Ravenloft Revamped

Posted in D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , on October 20, 2020 by boccobsblog

WotC has revised the Curse of Strahd adventure, and released it as a boxed set. According to WotC:

Bury Yourself in Gothic Horror

Unearth the terror of Ravenloft in this boxed adventure for the world’s greatest roleplaying game.

Under raging storm clouds, the vampire Count Strahd von Zarovich stands silhouetted against the ancient walls of Castle Ravenloft. Rumbling thunder pounds the castle spires. The wind’s howling increases as he turns his gaze down toward the village of Barovia.

Far below, yet not beyond his keen eyesight, a party of adventurers has just entered his domain. Strahd’s face forms the barest hint of a smile as his dark plan unfolds. He knew they were coming, and he knows why they came—all according to his plan.

A lightning flash rips through the darkness, but Strahd is gone. Only the howling of the wind fills the midnight air. The master of Castle Ravenloft is having guests for dinner. And you are invited.

Coffin Components

Curse of Strahd, one of the most popular Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game products of all time, split into three parts: a 224-page perfect-bound adventure for characters of levels 1–10, a 20-page Creatures of Horror booklet of new monsters that appear in the adventure, and an 8-page Tarokka Deck booklet.

A cover sheet with Strahd von Zarovich’s image on one side and Strahd’s monster stat block on the other.

A sturdy, four-panel Dungeon Master’s screen designed for use with the adventure.

A double-sided poster map showing the domain of Barovia on one side and Castle Ravenloft on the other.

54 foil-stamped Tarokka cards, which help determine the heroes’ path through the adventure.

A tuck box to hold the Tarokka deck.

12 postcards (3 copies each of 4 different cards), which you can use to invite friends to your game.

Is this new boxed set just a money grab? Is it in response to recent criticism to WotC handling of the handicapped NPC or the Vistini? In either case, will you be taking your players through the mists to the Demiplane of Dread?

Natural 20 Shirts

Posted in Dungeons and Dragons, Product Review with tags , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2020 by boccobsblog

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Carl Huber of Natural 20 Shirts. Carl asked me to review his line of gamer T-shirts. Natural 20 has a variety of nerdy tees. There is a virtual treasure trove of original D&D designs, as well as Bob’s Burgers and Rick and Morty merch.

According to their website:

We specialize in Dungeons & Dragons tshirts, and nerdy tshirts of all kinds. Find your favorite TV show here, like Bob’s Burgers tshirts or Rick and Morty tshirts. Find Star Trek tshirts and more! Don’t forget we also offer our designs on coffee mugs, notebooks, stickers, and all sorts of great items.


I own the Dungeon Master tee shown above. It fits great, is soft, and the images are high-quality. I’ve worn my shirt several times since getting it in the mail and it has held up well to being washed. Compared to other D&D T-shirts (and I own several), the Natural 20 shirts are superior.


Natural 20 Shirts uses Teepublic, Threadless, and Redbubble to produce and deliver their products, this allows customers to use a website they prefer and trust, as well as get the design of their choosing on mugs, phone cases, pillows, notebooks, etc.

Natural 20 Shirts has the best collection of D&D gifts, merch, and clothing, hands down. I love the original designs. Often social media is crammed with the same old puns and images on D&D shirts.

Check them out!

D&D Adventure Begins

Posted in board game, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , on October 1, 2020 by boccobsblog

Looking for a gateway game to get the next generation hooked on Dungeons and Dragons? WotC has a new D&D themed board game for children ages ten and up. According to their website:

Your Fast, Fun Entry into the World of D&D

Step into the exciting world of D&D with the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Begins board game! Choose your character and work together along the journey through the lands of Neverwinter, facing fantastic obstacles, battling monsters, and defeating the boss monster terrorizing the realm. The role of Dungeon Master passes from player to player with each turn, so everyone gets to be part of the storytelling.


QUICK ENTRY TO DUNGEONS & DRAGONS: Step into the exciting world of D&D with the Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Begins board game. Designed for 2-4 players, ages 10 and up.
COOPERATIVE FANTASY GAME: This fantasy board game is a portal to the monsters, magic, and heroes of Dungeons & Dragons. Players work together as they journey through the lands of Neverwinter.

QUICK GAMEPLAY: Players can choose and customize their heroes, battle iconic D&D monsters, and experience a new adventure every time. So, step forward, brave heroes; adventure awaits!

CHOOSE A JOURNEY FOR YOUR PARTY: Choose a journey and which Boss your party of heroes will fight in the end. Choose from Felbris (Beholder), Orn (Fire Giant), Deathsleep (Green Dragon), and the Kraken.

D&D MINIATURE FIGURES: The game includes 4 plastic mini figures that correspond with the heroes featured in gameplay.

This isn’t the first D&D themed board game for kids, Dungeon has been around nearly as long as D&D itself. But Adventure Begins does look pretty awesome!


Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , on September 15, 2020 by boccobsblog

Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden drops today. This arctic-themed adventure, set in Icewind Dale, takes players from level 1 through 12.

According to WotC:

Some Secrets are Worth Dying For

Feel the cold touch of death in this adventure for the world’s greatest roleplaying game.

In Icewind Dale, adventure is a dish best served cold.

Beneath the unyielding night sky, you stand before a towering glacier and recite an ancient rhyme, causing a crack to form in the great wall of ice. Beyond this yawning fissure, the Caves of Hunger await. And past this icy dungeon is a secret so old and terrifying that few dare speak of it. The mad wizards of the Arcane Brotherhood long to possess that which the god of winter’s wrath has so coldly preserved—as do you! What fantastic secrets and treasures are entombed in the sunless heart of the glacier, and what will their discovery mean for the denizens of Icewind Dale? Can you save Ten-Towns from the Frostmaiden’s everlasting night?

Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden is a tale of dark terror that revisits the forlorn, flickering candlelights of civilization known as Ten-Towns and sheds light on the many bone-chilling locations that surround these frontier settlements.

Item details

Price: $49.95
Release Date: 15 September, 2020
Format: Hardcover

Will you be taking your players to the frozen wastes of Icewind Dale?

One-on-One Roleplay

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , , on September 1, 2020 by boccobsblog

Today David Clark of To Have And To Roll is writing about one-on-one roleplaying.

You find yourself in a room. You have no memory of how you got here or why you are here. All you have is the clothes on your back, the feeling of cold stone beneath your feet, and a faint shaft of torchlight, streaming in from the edges of a trapdoor above you. The door is too high for your to reach on your own. Looking about, the only notable object in the room is a heavy stone lever. What do you do?

This is my way of introducing people to tabletop roleplaying games. No dice. No rulebooks. Only a scenario with an open-ended solution. It is the simplest way to get someone into the action and playing a game, and it is also the simplest form of a one-on-one roleplaying game.

When a coworker or an acquaintance asks you what this whole tabletop thing is about, you can respond by telling them about your last session, how the rules work, when your gaming group meets, etc. Or you can simply show them. Tell them they find themselves in a room, give them some sort of means of escape, and tailor what they find along the way to match with their interests. I have brought many a friend into the hobby this way and it has always at least provided a window into what I find so enjoyable about gaming.

As soon as your friend starts making decisions or asking questions, they’re playing the game. Pull the lever, and the walls start closing in. I’ve had people jump out, wait until the walls are close enough to brace themselves and climb through, or just wait and die, praying for a god to watch over their soul when they are gone. Does this provoke a divine intervention? Does the story then shift to the journey of their soul through the afterlife? All of these are relevant paths. The important part about this scenario is that it is a learning experience. Your only goal is to convey why people play tabletop games, not how. Once out of the room, they might find themselves in an orc camp or an orbital prison. They could be in the depths of a drow stronghold, seeking escape from torment and slavery. They might be in a medical ward, with no memory of how they got there and no staff to answer their questions, only bloody footprints and a chained door that rattles and shakes from time to time. Whatever brings the spark of interest to the player’s eye is the right answer, and things that don’t can be glossed over as you present them with more points of interest.

For more experienced players seeking a longer format game than “you find yourself in a room,” you can use mechanics as deep as they want. You could have a single player character with nothing but their starting equipment on their back and a single plot hook to get them on the path to adventure. Your player could run an entire adventure path, complete with a full party of 4-6 adventurers, all crafted and piloted by your one player. They could be a monarch in charge of a kingdom at war, with a full mass combat and resource management system at their disposal. The level of detail is something you will want to discuss beforehand.

One-on-one games often have a more personal tone, which can be both a benefit and a challenge. On one hand, there are some stories that would be too personal to cover in a large group. A personal vendetta with a master assassin or vengeful rival might have more chance to develop when it’s only the Player Character and their nemesis in the room. Scheduling becomes much easier, pacing is handled at whatever rate the two of you care to form, and cancellations are as easily solved as finding the next time two of you have a couple of hours free. If you’re playing with someone you already spend a lot of time with, you can have impromptu sessions when you’re just hanging out. The next time you are waiting for a pizza delivery, just hit them with “When last we left our hero…” On the other hand, there is no group for the player to discuss their plans with. Roleplaying will have less banter and more direct interaction with the world. Combats are much more involved, as there is no time to plan your turns or to relax while others take their actions.

To run a one-on-one game, there are few considerations that must be taken into account before you begin. Many of these aspects will depend on what type of game you want to run, and what level of involvement your player wants in the mechanics and planning.

If you seek to run a traditional homebrew campaign or pre-written adventure, expect a level of adaptation. Both rules and content may need to change to suit your needs. In a one-player run of Pathfinder’s Curse of the Crimson Throne, my player has elected to run a four-person party. One of our early discoveries was simply the need to call for rolls that other players might ask for in a large group. Don’t be afraid to remind your player to doubt someone’s story or check for traps from time to time. In a large group, these are things that someone usually interjects with, but when it’s only you and a single player, sometimes you may need to break the immersion to remind them of mechanics, or point out a plot hook that has special resonance with one character if they are controlling multiples. In these instances, it’s only too much if your player says so.

Running a multi-character party may also necessitate a change in scope. Rather than inhabiting a singleplayer character’s perspective and abilities, the player will be acting more like a manager of the party, as one might find in a video game. They could choose to have a single point-of-view character with NPC companions or alternate between party members. If they chose to have NPC companions, make sure these companions aren’t stealing the spotlight. They can have their own stories and their own moments, but ultimately they are there to complement the point-of-view character.

If you player chooses to act as a manager for a group entirely consisting of Player Characters, it may be best for both of you to treat the game as taking more of a third-person perspective. Conversations among group members can involve swapping off who has control of which character, with the Game Master taking control of player characters in ways that you and your player have worked out. You might describe actions in longer form, much like a novel. If your player likes acting out their characters, don’t be afraid to stop and ask who’s talking at any given time, as this can also get confusing if there is less distinction between individual character voices. Append descriptions of action to break up dialogue. Take a step back from their character perspective and talk about the events of the game in a more omniscient tone.

As the only other person involved in the game, you will also have to do more book-keeping if you elect to run a more traditional party-based game. Tasks which could usually be delegated to other players, such as managing inventory or keeping a journal of quest activities and plot points will have to be managed by either you or your player. Most likely, you will both find yourselves doing these things to make sure everything is recorded accurately. If neither of you care for those things, feel free to reduce all loot to money that can be spent on gear, or just give more experience.

All-in-all, with the proper set-up, and the proper mindset, a one-on-one game can be a great way to fill in for days that you can’t organize a large group. It is, however, by no means a replacement for gaming in a group. By its nature, the stories you tell will tend to be more limited in scope, as you are not seeking to entertain an entire table. There is no reason you can’t face down an ancient dragon, blow up a planet-destroying space laser, or bring a mafia boss to justice in this format. But the scale will almost certainly change to accommodate the smaller pool of participants. There is also nothing that beats the harebrained schemes that a full party of 4 or more players can come up with.

For those that seek to play more games or just have an easy fall-back when larger sessions cancel, this can be a great extra tool to have in your Game-Mastering repertoire. So grab one of your favorite players, find a time that works for both of you, and try a one-on-one. The best way to learn is to play.

About the Author:

David Clark is the Game Master and producer of To Have and To Roll, the treasurer for the Plot Bubble podcast network, and an active participant in many online tabletop discussion groups. If you would like to hear some of these techniques in practice, check out, where he and his wife are recording Paizo’s Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path for Pathfinder First Edition as an actual-play podcast. You can follow the podcast @tohaveandtoroll on Twitter or on Tumblr at David is active on twitter as @rane0

Looking for some free D&D adventures? Look no further!

Adult Sapphire Dragon Miniature

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , , on August 17, 2020 by boccobsblog

Sapphire Dragon

As a part of  D&D’s 45 Anniversary, WotC, in partnership with WizKids has released a gem dragon mini (maxi? it’s pretty big). According to WotC:

Celebrating 45 years of Dungeons & Dragons!

The glittering sapphire dragons are the most territorial of all the gem dragons to a dangerous degree. They collect magical weapons and armor as the centerpieces of their hoards and vault them away in isolated caverns.

A sapphire dragon’s psionic nature is evident in horn and bone structures of their body. Their tail barbs and horn tips are all separate pieces, but they float in place, held aloft by the dragon’s psychic force while the dragon lives. These levitating horns and spines shift slightly with the dragon’s mood, bobbing in amusement or flaring dangerously with anger. Its scales and wing membranes are varied shades of blue, ranging from the light tones of a spring sky, to the rich, crystalline azure of sapphire gems and compressed glacial ice. In the light, many of their scales glitter and shine with luminous starburst images.

Over 160mm tall, this miniature is based on the all new art for thesapphire dragon, released by Wizards of the Coast for the 45th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. Completely translucent with gemlike effects on the wings and body, this dragon is a great foe for your next adventure or a beautiful piece for display!

Item details

Price: $69.99
Release Date: 30 August, 2020 (it’s actually available now)

Need a gem dragon for your D&D campaign? You can get one here.

Rey Clark Interview

Posted in Fiction, Interview with tags , on May 15, 2020 by boccobsblog


Tell us about your new title.
My lasted work released at the end of March.  Age of Redemption is the sequel to Dawn of Genesis in the Titan Code Science Fiction Series.

Still on track for this year:

  • Second middle grade fantasy book, Legends of the Weirded Ways
  • New historical fantasy series set during World War II.
  • Coming soon the Realm of Thraul collaborative project with artist Rich Kunz and three other authors.  The playing card suit reimagined.  I will be writing for the diamonds.  Think Asian Steampunk.

How has the current Covid-19 crisis affected your process?
Normally I write or edit on my lunch hour, but with work being so crazy busy I haven’t had a lunch since January.  I work in the financial industry and serve on the bank’s Pandemic Response Team, so we have been outlining contingency after contingency.  My desk is currently swamped with folk needed loan payment deferrals or mortgage forbearances so that has taken the front seat as a priority.  Now time for lunch.  I’ve moved my writing time to the evenings and weekend and have tried to move forward in large chunks.  Right now, I’m still on schedule.

How much of yourself do you put into your protagonists?
I try to diversify my protagonists to keep them fresh, but of course some of myself bleeds through.  I don’t fashion them all in my image otherwise they would all be the same.  Each one does have a piece of me.  I tend to be bold and straightforward with a sarcastic tone so many times that is reflected in my protagonists.

What is the greatest challenge currently facing self-published authors?
I think recognition and exposure are the two largest challenges facing self-published authors.  There is still a stigma that self-published work is inferior to traditional published work, but I’ve read some fantastic indie work.  There is unfortunately crap out there in the market too, but I believe that the good stuff will bubble to the top.  Self-publishing offers a wide variety of diversity in writing rather than a few major publishing houses deciding what you want to read.  Indie publishing gives the reader more to choose from.

The other issue is exposure.  There is so much content on the market right now its difficult to gain any traction in the marketing arena.  Finding readers can be a challenge.  Conventions work best for me to get my name out there. Specifically, gaming conventions for my genre.  Super bummed about Lexicon this year (stupid virus), I was on target to release Age of Redemption there.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block?
Whiskey, lots and lots of whiskey.  All joking aside, I plot out my books course before I ever start writing.  The rough plot line helps me outline my chapters, so I know what’s happening where and when in the story.  If I always know the next event in the story, I can’t have writer’s block.

Sometimes inspiration doesn’t strike in the moment I sit down to write but I move forward regardless.  If I write and dull lifeless chapter, I’m sure to pick up on that during the editing process.  That triggers a re-write and corrective course for the tone and plot of the story.

If you could do psychedelic mushrooms with one Supreme Court Justice, past or present, who would it be?
Hands down, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  She’s one bad ass woman. I’d love to get inside her mind for a minute.  I’ve not met her but last year I did sit in the main chamber of the Supreme Court.  Spoiler alert: Its not the highest court in the land.  The basketball court above the chamber is the highest court in the land.

You’ve recently started to add your books on Audible, how is that going?
First book in the Path of Ascension Trilogy went live in December and the narrator is currently working on the second book, Fire Forged.  It’s been a painless process.

You and Katniss step into the ring, who struts away in triumph and who limps away in shame?
Since it is a boxing ring and I am a kickboxer and Katniss would be up close and personal rather than using her bow, I’m going to say that I would kick her ass. 

About the Author
Rey Clark is science fiction and fantasy author from central Illinois. Her desire and motivation to inspire others does not stop with the readers.  Rey works in her community to foster creativity and spark new writers to explore their own creativity.

Path of Ascension Trilogy

  • Flames of Valor
  • Fire Forged
  • Inferno Rising

Titan Code Series

  • Dawn of Genesis
  • Age of Redemption
  • Final Legacy (2021)

Legends Chronicles

  • Legends of the Vale
  • Legends of the Weirded Ways (Fall 2020)
  • Legends of the Phoenix Flame (2022)

All books can be purchased on Amazon in either print of ebook.  Flames of Valor is currently available on Audible.  Fire Forged & Inferno Rising should be available on Audible by the end of 2020.

Other projects include:

  • MurderHobos Inc Live tabletop RPG gaming on YouTube.
  • Titanholm Gaming – A new world to explore through 5th edition D&D.  Titanholm is a world of high fantasy and steampunk.
  • Realm of Thraul – a fantasy world with four unique kingdoms locked in a power struggle.  The cultures are interpretations of traditional playing card suits.  The project involves Rich Kunz as the artist and four authors.  Rey is developing thee world of diamonds, an eastern inspired culture with elements of steampunk.


Learn more at


Sorry for the ads but I’m saving up some new nunchucks!

New 5e Backgrounds

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons with tags on May 1, 2020 by boccobsblog

I’m Andrew Beahm. Over the past few years as D&D has exploded in popularity, I’ve always felt like something is missing. Even with the explosion of live streams, YouTube communities, and every accessory imaginable it still seemed like there wasn’t enough high-quality written content about the hobby. Now granted there are great sources like Boccob’s Blessed Blog, but I wanted more. With this in mind, I decided the remedy the issue by creating my own site, where we do things like pair beer with D&D classes, talk to zoo keepers about how hard it would be to train Girallons, and just generally try to go places other haven’t in talking about TTRPGs.

Now, you’re probably asking, “Why am I here? Weren’t you just going on about how you have your own dang website?” Thing is, I try to avoid talking about the mechanics of D&D or any other RPG system on my blog. I’m simply more interested in exploring things like real life booby traps. However, now that I’m stepping out of my home turf, all bets are off.

Have you ever heard of Wizard’s of the Coast SRD? If you haven’t, it’s basically the magical (legal) blessing the owners of D&D have instituted that allows people to publish and sell their own original D&D content. It covers most of the core rules, spells, and a good chunk of the creatures in the Monster Manual. However, almost every single character background, which is an essential part of character creation, is off-limits. The only one you’re allowed to reference in any materials you create is the Acolyte. So I decided to help out the community and provide you with 5 new backgrounds you can use in any of your D&D related projects. Free. Gratis. Complimentary. It’s my gift to you. Without further adieu, here they are.


You live by your luck and are always after the next big win; you’re most at home at a gaming table matching wits with others in games of skill and chance.

Skill Proficiencies: Deception, Insight

Tool Proficiencies: Playing Card and Dice Set

Equipment: Game set (of your choice), a set of traveler’s clothes, a pouch containing 20 gp, and a lucky mundane item such as a rabbit’s foot, novelty coin/chip, or other small trinket.

Feature: Always a Table 

You have a knack for rounding up a group of players and getting a game going. As long as you have access to a public place where gambling is permitted (such as a tavern), you can attempt to win a few extra coins.

Suggested Characteristics

d8    Personality Trait

  1. I’m always taking little mementos and souvenirs from wherever I go.
  2. My facial expression is almost always neutral.
  3. I’m fidgety and occupy one of my hands with a coin.
  4. I like to keep a hidden weapon on me at all times- in case things get hairy.
  5. I pepper conversations with colorful aphorisms.
  6. I’m competitive and love to challenge others to contests.
  7. I like to place little bets with friends to make things more interesting.
  8. I don’t like being tricked or made to seem foolish.

d6    Ideal

  1. Charity. I know how quickly your luck can change, so I’m kind to those down on theirs. (Good)
  2. Rules. I respect the law and am offended when others don’t. (Lawful)
  3. Excitement. If I see a chance to shake things up, I do. (Chaotic)
  4. Greed. How much is enough? More. (Evil)
  5. Friends. Find people you can trust to watch your back- so they can watch yours in return. (Neutral)
  6. Aspiration. Anything I do I want to be the best at. (Any)

d6    Bond

  1. I owe a huge debt back home, and I can’t return until it’s paid.
  2. I lost a massive sum in a game of chance to a rival, and I intend to win it back.
  3. I won one too many games against the wrong noble, and they want revenge.
  4. My parents never thought I’d amount to anything, so I’m going to prove them wrong.
  5. I escaped poverty through three card monte schemes and made many enemies.
  6. I spurned a powerful ex-lover.

d6    Flaw

  1. I think I’m luckier than I actually am and can be reckless.
  2. I never quit while I’m ahead.
  3. I’m not above cheating to get what I want.
  4. I love the party life a little too much.
  5. I’m not careful with money and splurge on frivolities.
  6. I don’t think of the long term consequences of my actions.



The laws of nature have always fascinated you and you’re determined to discover their secrets. Through rigorous study and experimentation, you developed a strong understanding of how substances react with one another. Although many mistake this aptitude for magic, you know you’re harnessing the fundamental rules that govern all matter.

Skill Proficiencies: Nature, Medicine

Tool Proficiencies: Alchemy Set

Equipment: A bottle of black ink, a quill, a notebook detailing your past experiments, alchemy set, a set of common clothes, a small vial containing a substance you’ve yet to identify, and a pouch containing 10 gp

Chemiser: You are able to synthesize simple substances such as soap, some acids, and gunpowder. Through dedicated study you have also been able to learn to craft the infamous substance, Alchemist’s Fire by purchasing it’s ingredients for 25 gp. The availability of any materials you need are subject to DM’s discretion.

Suggested Characteristics

d8    Personality Trait

  1. I have a thirst for knowledge and always want to learn.
  2. I have a mechanical mind and am very logical.
  3. I only speak when I have something important to say.
  4. My clothes are disheveled and stained with unknown alchemical substances.
  5. I’m leery of tall tales and boasts.
  6. Every problem is a puzzle, and I love finding the solution.
  7. I’m a voracious reader and will eschew social interactions to do it.
  8. I’m working on the next great chemical breakthrough and love to talk about it.

d6    Ideal

  1. Progress. I do what I do to expand and share knowledge. (Good)
  2. Logic. Decisions should be made from a cool, dispassionate perspective. (Lawful)
  3. Experimentation. Knowledge should be pushed to its limits. (Chaotic)
  4. Self-Interest. I seek to hoard knowledge not share it. (Evil)
  5. Detachment. I know what I can affect and I don’t concern myself with that which is outside my control. (Neutral)
  6. Self-Improvement. The no greater pursuit than honing one’s intellect. (Any)

d6    Bond

  1. My mentor turned my life around by teaching me the wonders of alchemy.
  2. The school where I learned my skills is on the verge of financial ruin. I’ll do anything to prevent that.
  3. My last experiment was a failure that I just can’t get over.
  4. An explosion at my last laboratory drew the ire of the local populace.
  5. I am the only one who knows a secret formula powerful interests want for themselves.
  6. I seek an ancient tome containing marvelous secret knowledge.

d6    Flaw

  1. I’m fastidious to a fault and am harsh with the disorganized.
  2. I’m absent minded and forgetful.
  3. My curiosity overrides my caution.
  4. I never let go of my failures.
  5. My emotions are often more volatile than the substances I work with.
  6. My dedication to my work takes precedence over my loved ones.



You have spent your life among thinkers, philosophers, and occasionally radicals. This life has honed your ability to craft arguments and push the limits of accepted thought.

Skill Proficiencies: Persuasion, History

Equipment: A set of fine clothes, a diploma of academic achievement, a treasured book relating to your field of study, and a purse containing 15 gp

Languages: Two of your choice


The only hope for mastery of a subject is to choose one area and delve deeply into its study. Although you may be informed in other fields, you are truly an expert of one of the following.

  1. Philosophy
  2. Politics
  3. Literature
  4. Art
  5. Warfare
  6. Theology
  7. Mathematics
  8. Astronomy/Astrology


Feature: Milieu 

You have a network of academics you can contact in the pursuit of specific knowledge. If you don’t personally know an expert in a given subject, you can make a history check to recall the current authority in any given field of study.

Suggested Characteristics

d8    Personality Trait

  1. I speak fast to try to convey my intelligence.
  2. My speech is peppered with jargon from my field of study.
  3. I love to see new sides to an argument and seek out differing points of view.
  4. My interests are extremely narrow, which makes talking to most people… difficult.
  5. I correct the grammar of others.
  6. I affect a highbrow accent that is befitting of my education (although my native voice still sneaks through from time to time).
  7. I am a social maladroit and uncomfortable in large groups.
  8. I nitpick semantics and insist on defining terms precisely.

d6    Ideal

  1. Growth. All improvements to one’s life begin with one’s mind. (Neutral)
  2. Community. The world thrives when experts share their knowledge and challenge each other. (Good)
  3. Impartiality. Personal preference and biases must be checked when making decisions. (Lawful)
  4. Questioning. No subject should be considered settled, all ideas and systems should be challenged. (Chaotic)
  5. Exclusivity. Knowledge should belong to a privileged few. (Evil)
  6. Self-Betterment. The pursuit of higher learning is virtuous for its own sake. (Any)

d6    Bond

  1. I will do anything for my alma mater.
  2. I was embarrassed in a public debate and still want redemption.
  3. I must tirelessly continue to contribute and advance my field of study.
  4. I will do anything to prove my pet theory correct.
  5. A rival school of thought is spreading dangerous, false theories and must be stopped.
  6. A wealthy patron put me through university. I must find some way to repay them.

d6    Flaw

  1. I am rude and dismissive to the uneducated.
  2. I will jot down an idea in the middle of a conversation no matter how distracting it is.
  3. I can’t stand to be corrected or proven wrong and will pout if it happens.
  4. I am willing to overlook ethics if it means expanding my knowledge.
  5. I start arguments over trivial things just for the sake of it.
  6. I don’t think I can be tricked or influenced, which makes me all the susceptible to cons.



You are in tune with the unseen forces all around us. Some see the world as chaotic and random, but you know everything is foretold if you just stop to listen.

Skill Proficiencies: Religion, Arcana

Language: One of your choice

Equipment: Prayer beads, ceremonial garb, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 15 gp

Feature: Ethereal Connection

Through good luck or misfortune a lesser spirit has attached itself to you. The spirit can only interact very weakly on this plane of existence. You can communicate with this spirit although others are unaware of its presence. Although it is often vague and cryptic, by communing with it, you occasionally glean useful bits of information or warnings of impending danger.

Suggested Characteristics

D8 Personality Trait

  1. I take the omens I see seriously and am quick to anger if others don’t.
  2. I can seem blaise or aloof because my attention is on the next life not this one.
  3. I am eager to learn of other religions and customs.
  4. I prefer quiet contemplation to raucous revelry.
  5. I always spare a coin or two for local shrines or temples.
  6. My dreams are filled with symbols, warnings, and advice that inform my actions.
  7. Local festivals and celebrations enthral me. I can’t resist joining in the fun.
  8. The denizens of my home village often sought my council, which has given me a bit of an ego.

d6    Ideal

  1. Heritage. Our ancestors laid the groundwork for our lives. We should honor them. (Lawful)
  2. Grace. There is no greater calling than to ease suffering. (Good)
  3. Renewal. We must not cling to the old ways and move boldly forward. (Chaotic)
  4. Masterhood. When you see the future, you control the future. (Evil)
  5. Restraint. We shouldn’t meddle with forces we don’t understand. (Neutral)
  6. Understanding. The path to enlightenment begins with listening. (Any)

d6    Bond

  1. I would do whatever it takes to unravel the mysteries of the afterlife.
  2. I am dogged by spirits to solve mysterious murder.
  3. My life’s work is dedicated to allowing lost souls to rest.
  4. I seek to bring honor and glory to my home town.
  5. The masses must learn to revere the spirit world, and I will teach them.
  6. I must find the meaning of a cryptic, recurring nightmare that has plagued me since childhood.

d6    Flaw

  1. I am reluctant to seek advice.
  2. I fixate on bad omens and they become self-fulfilling prophecies.
  3. The dead mean more to me than the living.
  4. I give advice whether it’s asked for or not.
  5. I am extremely superstitious.
  6. My mind wanders and I often tune others out.



You were a member of a small volunteer force dedicated to keeping the peace in your homeland. For a predetermined period of time (usually a year) you were drafted to assist in crime prevention and investigation. Here you learned to keep a critical eye open at all times. You developed your skills of deduction and critical thinking to piece together information and make a complete picture.

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Investigation

Equipment: A badge of your former office, a set of iron manacles, a set of common clothes, and a pouch containing 10 gp

Feature: Veteran 

You still carry yourself like an officer of the law. This makes town guards, sentries, and those in positions of authority more trusting of you. They are more likely to take your accounts seriously. Though they won’t let you get away with anything special, they’re unlikely to treat you with hostility without cause.

Suggested Characteristics

d8    Personality Trait

  1. I carry myself with an air of authority.
  2. I’m always alert and suspicious by nature.
  3. I focus on details and can ask questions that seem trivial.
  4. I don’t tolerate nonsense or suffer fools.
  5. I don’t need anything fancy and prefer spartan accommodations.
  6. I’m tough and I want to show it.
  7. I have a strong sense of right and wrong and won’t hesitate to speak my mind.
  8. I’m the strong silent type.

d6    Ideal

  1. Community. People should feel safe in their homes and we all must pitch in to help with that. (Good)
  2. Order. I follow the law and expect others to as well. (Lawful)
  3. Judgement. Justice is more important than process. (Chaotic)
  4. Authority. I know what’s best for everyone and won’t tolerate descent. (Evil)
  5. Discretion. Let the little things go and focus on big problems. (Neutral)
  6. Duty. You must fulfill your obligations. (Any)

d6    Bond

  1. My home town means everything to me. I’ll do anything to protect it.
  2. I can’t stand idly by when criminals abuse innocent people.
  3. My old captain is a hero in my eyes and would still follow their orders if asked.
  4. A criminal escaped my grasp and I’m still on the lookout for them.
  5. I once wrongly imprisoned a suspect and I’ve been trying to make up for that with good deeds.
  6. I spoke up against the corruption of a judge making a powerful enemy.

d6    Flaw

  1. I cannot admit that I’m wrong.
  2. Once my mind is made up nothing can change it.
  3. I assume the worst in everyone.
  4. I am bossy and have been known to bark orders.
  5. I defer to authority more than I should.
  6. I’m overly aggressive with people.