Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lessons in Monster Design, Part V: Special abilities

In the fifth part of the Lessons in Monster Design series, I'll discuss monsters' special abilities. In my opinion, special abilities are one of the most important parts of a monster entry. They're the only thing that really tests the author's rules-fu.

It's important to remember that in the various bestiaries there are many perfectly good creatures that wouldn't make the top 5 in Here Be Monsters or advance in RPG Superstar. The orc, for instance, is a fantasy staple and it's absolutely necessary for such creatures to exist in RPGs. However, in a contest you want to show off your ability to create mechanically interesting creatures. You need special abilities that do more than just keep the monster conscious at negative hp. You need to include something unique that sets the monster apart from other monsters and shows your creativity, mojo, and rules-fu.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Sword for Hire is looking for a co-blogger

It's been a good year for my blog so far: the third-party interviews I've conducted have been popular, and Here Be Monsters was also a success. In many ways, RPG Superstar is going to be another highlight since a lot of my advice articles discuss wondrous item design, monsters, encounters, and other relevant themes. I'm hoping to get a lot of new readers, which means I'll need a lot of new and relevant content in the coming months.

In other words, I aim to blog more. But at the same time I have time for lessI'm currently writing an adventure and I expect next year to be quite busy as well.

As a result, I've decided it's time for me to find a co-blogger, at least for the duration of the RPG Superstar season (December-March), maybe longer if it works out really well. The co-blogger should be able to blog once per week.

If you're interested, send me a message on ( Below are some things you can include in your message.
  • Discuss your experience in blogging, doing interviews, freelancing, RPG design, and organizing events online. Note that none of these are absolute requirements, just things that may be useful.
  • Pitch me 3-5 ideas for blog posts you'd be interested in writing during the RPG Superstar season. It can be interviews, interesting statistics about the contest, games to keep the voters entertained, or anything else that seems relevant.
A Sword for Hire is a non-profit blog, so I can't offer any compensation. However, I've noticed that blogging is a good way to network with people in the RPG industry and gain visibility, so I'm sure that you'll also find it beneficial. :-)

The deadline is Monday the 8th of December.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sellsword, part IV: September-November 2014

I realized it's been a while since I last wrote about my freelancing experiences. I also couldn't find the time to write the fifth part for the Lessons in Monster Design series, so I'll make a Sellsword update instead. Below are things I've been up to these past three months:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lessons in Monster Design, Part IV: Stat block—statistics & ecology

Part IV of the series discusses some mistakes in the final two parts of the stat block: statistics and ecology. Next time I'll talk about special abilities, and the last part of the series will be about the write-up for the monster.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Lessons in Monster Design, Part II: Stat block—overview & the top part

As promised, I'll continue going through the different parts of monster entries. This time I'll discuss the stat block in general, and start going through the topmost part of it, where the monster's alignment, type, size, and other things are detailed.

The two things you need to get right in the stat block are 1) the math (the numbers add up and are right for the CR) and 2) presentation (you've got the right things in the right places and you use the right terminology, punctuation, and typefaces). Let's have a look at some of the stat block mistakes I noticed while judging Here Be Monsters.
A Sword for Hire