Brandes Stoddard


Character Relationships and Engagement

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the threshold between roleplaying that feels like it’s going through the motions and roleplaying that feels like it takes on a life of its own. That distinction will mean a lot of different things to different people, as much as two people can […]


D&D 5e: Cultist Background 4

For an upcoming project, I felt like the Acolyte background was a little too socially acceptable. The Cultist background presented here is a fairly close cousin to it, but emphasizes an illegal or heretical sect or secret society. As such, I think it’s especially well-suited to warlocks, but I love […]


D&D 5e: Expanded Background Assets 3

In D&D 5e, Backgrounds grant a modest assortment of equipment and a pocketful of starting cash. For many campaigns, this is fine and appropriate. You’re playing wanderers, sellswords, not to say murderhoboes, and a broader base of social and material assets will at best be in a town halfway across the […]


D&D 5e: Serpentkin Roguish Archetype 3

A few months ago, Jeremiah McCoy mentioned wanting a snake-themed roguish archetype, inspired by his long-term King’s Gate character who was a physician and brewer with a bond to the Snake totem. Obviously, barbarians are the class with pre-existing totemic themes, but I wouldn’t be sorry to see totemic themes […]


D&D 5e: Ranger Spells 7

I’ve recently started a Forgotten Realms campaign with Kainenchen and two of our friends, Sam and Ryan. Sam created a tabaxi ranger, planning to go for the Beast Master conclave. (Conclaves are cooler than archetypes, as a descriptor, so I’m running with it.) She has only a little 5e experience, […]


Design Diary: In the Company of Unicorns

When I was first asked to create rules for unicorns as PCs in D&D 5e, part of my reaction was realizing that I wasn’t the target demographic for this product. I’ve never been a brony. Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn is a classic and a masterpiece, but my reaction to […]


Flesh Grafting

Some time back, I created D&D 5e stats for homunculi – not the tiny bat-winged dudes of D&D tradition, but something more like sapient flesh golems. (I probably don’t have to tell you this – you all read books – but Doctor Homunculus was their creator’s name.) One of the key […]


Celebrating 400 Posts: A Giveaway! 29

This is my 400th published post in Harbinger of Doom. To celebrate the first 399, I’m giving away a copy of Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate! From now until the end of the month, you can enter the giveaway by either: Commenting on this post, or Sending an email to harbinger@brandesstoddard.com. If you feel helping […]