Happy New Year with New CCB Merchandise

Happy new year to you and yours!  We hope your 2010 has been as filled with greatness as ours, and that 2011 is even more prosperous and peaceful (but full of lots of fantasy and sci-fi battles acted out with plastic and metal minis on cardboard tiles and wet-erase battlemats!).

For those of you looking for a New Years or orthodox Xmas present for your gamer loved ones, head over to ourCafePress store and make a few purchases.  You’ll help support this magazine, blog, and our travel to cons to run adventures.  Here’s what the t-shirt looks like:

While you’re at it, visit Unicorn Rampant’s CafePress store to pick up some regal gear.

For those of you on the con circuit, we will see you at OwlCon, GenCon, and MilenniumCon over the next year!

May Avandra see you roll many cinematically-appropriate crits over the next year.

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Necrotic Stalagmites

In a quest to define a series of simple-yet-deadly hazards, here is one that’s easy to run.  Just place your favorite marker of stalagmites on the battlemat.  Then have any living, non-necrotic creature that begins its turn within 1 square of these take 10 necrotic damage, as they suck the living out of them.




Place as many as you need in your room to present terrain challenges.  Then have creatures push unwitting characters into them.




Simple but effective.

Posted in Hazard by with no comments yet.

Terrain Tiles on the Cheap

Here’s an early Xmas present from the gamers at Claw/Claw/Bite.

Wizards and others have provided cardboard cutouts to enhance the gaming experience.  This is great, but they’re pretty pricey and limited if you want a collection of tiles the represent the breadth of your imagination.  I recommend making your own, so you have more creative control over your adventures.  In a few simple steps, you can have terrain tiles in a variety of shapes and colors.

Step 1: Download Images And Print Them to Your Scale

Most standard tiles are 1″x1″, representing 5′ squares in most fantasy and sci-fi games.  There are a host of good tiles on rpgnowand elsewhere on the web, easily found with a g search.  Use a color printer, ideally one that leaves a waxy resin on the page.  This way the spray epoxy used in step 4 doesn’t warp the paper.

Step 2: Cut Images from Printouts

Use a regular pair of craft scissors, the kind they have at work, or that you can buy for a few dollars at a craft store.  Leave a few mm to a cm along every edge so you can apply a goodly amount of pressure along the edges of the images later to ensure a tight seal along the edge of the final tiles.  X-acto knives also work for this purpose; just make sure you place your work on a cutting board to avoid injury and damage to your furniture.

Step 3: Raid Your Recycle Bin For Light Cardboard

Use cereal and oatmeal boxes or any other post-consumer packaging.  Cut them at the edges so you have flat surfaces to work with.  Ask your neighbors or take home used dry food boxes from work.  Or go spend money on a thicker cardstock as others have reported online. Personally, I prefer using what I’ve already paid for, taking advantage of the second R in the reduce, reuse, recycle cycle.  If nothing else, it makes me feel less guilty about buying food that comes in a cardboard box.

Make sure you gently bend the cardboard to straighten them out before you glue the terain printouts to them; otherwise you may loosen the seal between the two.

Step 4: Spray Cardboard with Epoxy

I recommend using Elmers or 3M spray epoxies for this task.  Use these spray expoxies outdoors where there’s plenty of ventilation.  Try to use evan coats by holding the can 12″ away from the surface, and gliding across the surface quickly.  Alternately, use epoxies that come with applicators that allow you to apply an even coat of epoxy to the surface of the cardboard.

Step 5: Press Cutouts to Cardboard

Starting in the center, run your hands to the edges of the images.  This way, you avoid air pockets between the paper and the cardboard.  If you’ve kept enough of a lip around the exterior of the image, you should be able to press to the edge of the image without getting residual glue all over your hands.

Step 6: Wait Overnight

Overnight is best to ensure that the epoxy is fully dried.  These should be stored indoors to prevent air pockets due to moisture or temperature changes.  Keep these away from where you sleep, as there are epoxy aerosols and other air pollutants that leech out from the tiles.  If you do not wait long enough, the bond may not be strong enough to hold the pieces together in the long term.

Step 7: Cut off Excess Cardboard

I cut mine all the way to the edge of the image so I can place the tiles together to create larger rooms and dungeons.  They fit together pretty neatly if you make straight enough cuts.

Once this is done, you may want to touch up the edges with a marker to hide the white cardboard underneath from view when your terrain is deployed on your gaming table.

I have found that for a $10 can of spray epoxy, I easily get between 120 and 150 8×8 tiles worth of tiles in a wide assortment of styles.  I’ve put them to use in science fiction stories, Gamma World settings, and Dungeons and Dragons encounters.  This variety of tiles is a must for any storyteller who likes to mix up their adventures using a variety of terrains.

Have fun with it and make your players proud!

Note: If you use these tips, please take photos and send ‘em our way.  We love to see what other gamers are up to in their creative construction and use of terrain.


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Buffing the 4e Lich

I recently ran a group through an encounter involving a lich, and found them grossly underpowered.  Their lack of a melee attack renders them weak in the face of a single 15th lvl fighter, let alone a full party.  To make up for this likely accidental shortcoming, here are some powers that beef up the 4e lich.

Fear Aura (psychic) Aura 3
Any creature beginning its turn in the aura takes 5 damage and is immobilized (save ends).

Necrotic Touch (necrotic) At-Will

Attack: Melee 1 (one creature) +15 vs. Fortitude

Hit: 2d6 +5 necrotic damage, and the creature is dazed until the end of the lich’s next turn

Dominate the Living (psychic) Minor Recharge

Attack: One living creature within close burst 10, +15 vs. Will

Effect: The lich dominates one living creature (save ends).

These effects provide the lich with plenty of up-close-and-personal, up-in-your-Kool-Aid power that will make your players truly fear an encounter with this granddaddy of the undead.  Feel free to adjust the numbers to make an appropriately-powered lich for your encounters.

Update: after writing a draft of this post, Scott Murray of Save Versus Death pointed me to the Monster Vault, which includes a number of improved variants of classic creatures that seemed underwhelming in 4e.  The Lich Necromancer on page 183 takes on similar traits, as well as added ranged attacks and movement.

Happy player hunting!

Posted in 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons, Creature by with no comments yet.

Necrotic Pool

The result of an evil presence that sits too long in water, necrotic pools grow to hate the living, and do all they can to render their prey lifeless to feed the need for evil.

Necrotic Pool                   Level 10 Blaster
Hazard                               XP 400
A tendril of necrotic liquid spills outward from the dark pool.
Hazard: The pool becomes active when triggered. Thereafter, it attacks every round on its initiative.
✦ DC 28: The character detects the pool before moving within 3 squares of it.
Additional Skill: Nature or Dungeoneering
✦ DC 24: The character recognizes the danger of the pool before moving within 3 squares of it.
Initiative +4
The pool rolls initiative when one or more characters move within 2 squares of it.  It is also triggered when a character falls into it, receiving a free attack when this occurs.
Standard Action    Close burst 2
Targets: Creatures in burst
Attack: +14 vs. Reflex
Hit: 3d6+3 necrotic damage and followup.
Followup: +12 vs. Fortitude.
Hit: Ongoing 5 necrotic damage and dazed (save ends).
Miss: Half damage.
✦ A character in the burst can minimize the damage of the pool with a DC 28 Acrobatics check made as an immediate interrupt before the pool’s attack. With a successful check, the character takes half damage if the pool hits and no damage if it misses.  This countermeasure is unavailable if the character is immersed within the pool, for instance after falling in.

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Follow Us on Twitter

We have set up our blog to send out a tweet every time we post a new entry.  Follow us on Twitter @clawclawbite, or by clicking on the Twitter logo at the right.

Other means to follow us include RSS, Facebook (again, follow links on the right), and visiting our site on a regular basis.  See you around!

Note: This also serves as a test of our Twitter-WordPress connection.

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Astral Magic

By Kevin Gates & Adam A Thompson

Astral Magic is a new way for spellcasters to gain access to metamagic-like abilities.  Through study of the mystical properties of the stars and constellations spellcasters are able to modify the warp and weft of their spells, increasing their power, changing their shape, changing their range, and modifying them in other ways.

Planisphæri Cœleste

Astral Magic

Recorded in the pages of the grimoireConstelation Magic by the sage Gevestikan are the secrets of using the power of the stars to modify spells.

A character who finds one of the rare copies of this tome gains access to a new knowledge skill – Astronomy.  Reading the tome makes knowledge (Astronomy) a class skill and gives the reader a +2 competence bonus in the skill.  Fully studying the tome takes a total of 24 hours of reading.

A character with ranks in Knowledge (Astronomy) has 3 uses of star magic per day.  You make a Knowledge (Astronomy) check to successfully invoke the stars you know.  Using Star Magic is a move action.


Rigel – on a DC 20 check, the damage rolled for the next spell you cast  cannot be less than 50% of the possible damage. On a DC 25 check, it can’t be less than 75%, and on a DC 35 check, it’s maximized.

Izar – a DC 20 check lets you cast an area spell that excludes one
ally within the area of effect. A DC25 lets you exclude 2 allies. A DC 35
check lets you exclude all allies within the area.

Altair – a DC 20 check lets you invoke Altair. When a spell requires concentration, invoking Altair allows the caster to instead concentrate as a swift
action for one round per three caster levels (minimum 1 round).

Alpheratz – Invoking Alpheratz lets you cast your next touch spell as a ranged spell at the following distances.  DC 20: 15 feet.  DC 25: 30 feet.  DC 35: 60 feet.

Pollux – Invoking Pollux requires a DC 30 knowledge (Astronomy) check, and allows the next spell you cast to effect 1 additional target who is within 30 feet of all of the original targets.  Spells with the target “self only” cannot be modified with this ability.

Optional Rules

By night under the open sky knowledge (Astronomy) checks are +2.  Underground they are -4.

Posted in 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons / d20 fantasy / Pathfinder, Variant Rules by with no comments yet.