Racial Alternative For Half-Orcs: Erwhona

I feel that half-breed races such as the Half-Orc do not get enough variation, therefore I decided to create a race that is a cross between elf and orc called the Erwhona.

The Erwhona

An Erwhona is the unfortunate result of a coupling between orc and elf. Erwhona means “one who is damned” in the Elvish tongue. Such couplings are rare  and the chances of Erwhona surviving birth are even more unlikely. These incredibly rare births do happen on occasion. When an Erwhona is born in orc lands they are often left to die in the wilderness. Those not left to die, become slaves or worse. When an Erwhona is born in elf lands they live, but are viewed as vulgar and unclean. Erwhona in elf lands must leave home as soon as they reach adolescence.


Erwhona have a strange and unsettling beauty to their features. They tend toward thin muscular builds. Males average 5’8″, and females average 5’4″ in height. Male Erwhona weigh an average of 150 pounds and Females average of 120. Erwhona hair color tends toward shades of black, but other colors are not unheard of. The eyes of the Erwhona are various shades of purple to red.

Erwhona Life

Erwhona who manage to survive, find a melancholy outlook on life. They are typically unwelcome by all and find it difficult to form friendships. When they do form friendships with others, the Erwhona is fiercely loyal and will never let a friend down for any reason. Erwhona can feel the rage of orcish ancestry but also feel the love of beauty from elven heritage. The combination of orc and elvish blood often drives Erwhona toward obsessive behavior. While Erwhona may become obsessive, individual obsessions are short-lived and something else always grabs their attention and focus.

Erwhona Traits

Ability Scores: Erwhona gain a +1 to Constitution, a +1 to Dexterity.

Age: Erwhona reach maturity at 18 years and live to a maximum of 250 years.

Alignment: Erwhona do not favor good or evil but have a strong chaotic streak in their nature.

Size: Erwhona are medium size humanoids and range between 5′ to 6′ for males and 4’8″ to 5’10” as females.

Speed: Erwhona move at a base speed of 30

Senses: Erwhona have darkvision as well as keen senses. Erwhona gain proficiency in the perception skill.

Graceful Rage: An Erwhona always struggles between the feelings of their elf heritage and the rage of their orc blood. Erwhona learn to balance this internal battle for short periods of time, becoming a deadly opponent on the battlefield. Once per encounter an Erwhona may add a +1 to their attack and damage rolls, as well as a +1 evasion modifier to their armor class. They gain these bonuses for one full round.

~ Ric Martens

Rogue Archetype: The Conman

Con Man

Back Alley RogueOne of the things I personally enjoy about 5e is how much room is left for creativity. Below is  information on a rogue archetype called The Conman. The Conman is for use in places with large populations. The Conman may not gain some of the combat bonuses other rogue archetypes do, but this character is incredibly useful in urban environments.

The Conman

You focus your social skills to a point where you use them for personal gain. You live for the thrill of setting up and executing a well planned operation. Not all who live for the con use their skills to enrich themselves. Some do so to enact a sense of vengeance against a world that they see as unfair. Still others have taken the concept of attracting flies with honey instead of vinegar to heart. While Dexterity and it’s associated skills are important to you, you have found that Charisma is your primary tool. Some people might think you’re a lair and cheat, but you know deep down inside, everyone is.

Fast Talker

When you take this archetype at third level you make all Charisma (Deception) and Charisma (Persuasion) checks at advantage. You can also use the bonus action from cunning action to re-roll a failed check but must take disadvantage when you do.

Time to Run

When a con goes south, running away is the better part of valor. At fifth level you can attempt actions that hinder an enemies attempt to chase you. Anytime an enemy grows close enough to attack they must first succeed in a Strength (Athletics) roll. A failure indicates they lose a round of action while you continue running.

Master of Many Faces

You have learned to disguise yourself very well and can change your appearance quickly. At 9th level you may make a Charisma (Performance) check to disguise yourself. To do this you must be hidden and have proper clothing for the disguise. The action takes 1d6 rounds. If you choose to spend a full six rounds creating the disguise the Charisma (Performance) roll is with advantage.

Secret Life

When you reach 13th level, you have spent time building up a secret life that allows you to be anyone you want to be. To build a secret life you must purchase a home. You also must spend at least one month living as this person. Once a secret life is established, you can use it at any time You can build as many secret lives as you wish.


At 17th level you gain the loyalty of a fellow conman. This character is 3rd level and may by used in any way you see fit. This character will gain experience and develop skills as you choose.



The Paladin Code Part 2: Violating the Code


PaladinWhat constitutes a violation of the Paladin code? This question has confounded players and Game Masters since the inception of the class and continues to do so today. On one side of the argument is the player who feels they have their agency taken away any time a Game Master “punishes” their Paladin. On the other side of the screen the Game Master feels responsible for upholding their concept of the game world and acting as judge over the rules of the game. There are a few hard and fast rules about the Paladin code throughout the editions, but they don’t do much addressing grey areas.

  • What happens when a Lawful Good Paladin works with a rogue known for theft?
  • What if a Lawful Evil Paladin shows mercy to someone weaker than themselves?
  • Do both count as violations, or do neither?

Why, or why not?

It would be impossible to cover every potential violation of the Paladin’s code,  but a Game Master can and should work from some general guidelines. The following is how I break down code violations at my table.

Minuscule Violations

Minuscule violations are actions that barely count as a violation of the code. An example of this would be the Paladin forgetting to say a prayer before entering battle. Sure, this goes against the Paladin concept, but it’s hardly a big enough offense to call for a god’s attention. Not only is the deity in question likely to be concerned with such an action, but a player shouldn’t have to live in fear of forgetting a minor detail like this. If you’re a Game Master who punishes players for such minor things, maybe  you need to review how you handle Paladins in your game.

Minor Violations

Minor Violations are actions that break the letter of the code, but don’t break the spirit of the code. For instance, in the 5e Player’s Handbook the Oath of Devotion requires the Paladin to be courageous. What happens if the Paladin is in a situation where they know that their death is an unavoidable outcome of a fight? By the technical definition of courage, this violates the code, but what good is a dead Paladin to their deity?

When it comes to minor violations, I feel that they should be treated as an opportunity for role-playing. The Paladin could have a bad dream, or a servitor of their deity visits the Paladin and issues a warning. If the Paladin continues to commit minor violations then something more unpleasant should happen such as a servitor coming down and beating the Paladin down. Unless the player isn’t learning the Game Master shouldn’t strip the Paladin of their power over minor violations.

Major Violations

Major violations are actions that are in direct contradiction to the Paladin’s code. An example is letting an enemy live when the Paladin follows the Oath of Vengeance (5e Player’s Handbook pg. 88).  There is no debate that this breaks the oath and the Paladin needs to be brought to task. I would suggest that the Paladin be tasked with repentance, but it is not unreasonable to strip the Paladin of powers.

Grotesque Violations

Grotesque Violations are actions that not only violate the Paladin’s code, but go against everything the Paladin stands for. Slaughtering innocents is an example of grotesque violations and should result in the Paladin losing their status at the very least.

There is no way to plan for every single violation of the Paladin’s code, but the above should help a Game Master and player work out details. As always feel free to fire off in the comments below and let me know what you think. Until next time happy gaming!


The Paladin Code (Part I: Why is There a Code)


cavalierFrom the very beginning of the game the paladin has been a class surrounded with contention. In my experience it is the paladin code and what that code means causing most arguments. Many players feel that the code a paladin is required to follow is used by the Game Master as a stick to force their character into certain behaviors.

Game Masters, on the other hand, feel that players want the perks of the class without having to play the class correctly. I doubt anything I say affects the argument one way or the other, but it is a part of the game I have thought about quite often and figured I would share some of those thoughts today and follow up on in later posts.

Why is There a Code?

The concept of the paladin, a holy warrior who was granted amazing power in order to fight evil, existed from the beginning of the game. This power had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere was from the gods themselves. If a god was going to grant a human that much power, that god wanted to be assured the paladin would use it as intended. Thus the paladin code was created. This makes sense when you think about it. After all, why would a being as powerful as a god give that power without requiring something in return?

Not only would the god want something in return for granting the paladin power, but it would want to make sure that power didn’t get used for evil. This meant that not only did the god require the paladin to follow a code, but if the paladin did not uphold the code there needed to be someway to take the power away. While most everyone agrees that the concept of the paladin code makes sense, it is the god taking away a paladin’s power that causes problems. This is understandable, no one likes their character to lose powers simply because they did something against their code. The problem is that the paladin code is central to the concept of the class and without that code the paladin simply becomes a somewhat over-powered fighter.

While over time, the game has softened up on the paladin class (which anyone can attest who has played through all five editions* of the game),  even in today’s version the code is there. Most people agree there should be a code,  but what constitutes violating that code? What happens when that code is violated? All these can be hotly debated topics. I am going to explore this debate in future posts, but for now I need to let you all go.

In the mean time, I would love to hear from other people. If you have thoughts about the Paladin and the Paladin code, feel free to drop a line in the comments section below. Until next time, happy gaming!

Ric :)

*The game actually has more than five editions and there are grognards that will point this out so I figured I would point it out first :P

Hirelings – Making your world real!


Hirelings In the AD&D Players Handbook there is a brief few paragraphs on Page 39 that precedes the section on Henchmen.


The humble hireling is a frequently over-looked opportunity for the DM to add a fair amount of “dressing” to the world in which the characters live.

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Gary Con IX

Gary Con

E Gary Gygax

Gary Con IX Approaches!

Roll for initiative because it’s upon us! Gary Con is an annual game convention celebrating the life and works of Gary Gygax, the Father of Role Playing Games. It’s also where my career in the game world got its start.

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