Quintessence Design Diary: Light and Dark Tokens 1

From the moment I read about the mechanic of light and dark tokens in Chill 3rd Edition, it had a death-grip on my imagination like few other mechanics before or since. I finally got a copy of Chill 3e for my birthday, so I can examine the game’s implementation in more detail. […]


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 […]


D&D 5e: Alternate Barbarian Rages 1

Both Stands-in-Fire and Samhaine have done some great writing about barbarians lately, thanks to the experience of having two barbarians in the party at the same time. You should definitely read what they have to say, but the short version that I care about for this post is that barbarian […]


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 […]