New Dunwood Map

One of the things I’ve always loved doing since I was a kid was creating maps fantasy maps for my D&D games.

For a new DM’s Guild production I’m putting together, I’ve been able to indulge myself with more map creation.  I thought it’d be fun to share the progression of my work.

First, pencil on paper, then ink and erase the rough sketches.

Next, I scan and import my sketch into photoshop and start working in the forms.

Forms are mostly done, so I start adding colours and textures.

And finally add a scale, a wonderful Dyson Logos compass rose, and a few labels and I think it’s pretty close to done!

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Art commissions for Dunwood

One of the really fun things I get to do while creating RPG supplements is commission wonderful art from some really talented artists. Thought I’d share a couple pieces I commissioned for Dunwood – Demons, Druids, and Danger, an upcoming DM’s Guild .pdf I hope to have out in the coming months.

The first is by Paul Paloma, an up and coming artist with a wonderful eye for b/w line art. I asked him to illustrate an undead wolf, reanimated by corrupted plant-like magic for a climactic encounter written by the talented Zeke Gonzalez.

The second piece is by John Latta, who I’ve had the pleasure to work with a few times. I asked John to illustrate the BBEG of a short adventure written by the profoundly prolific Shawn Merwin.  This creature was once a Nar barbarian who was transformed by a ritual powered by her demon-infused polearm. Really beautifully done!

Finally, I’ve been lucky to get a pair of RPG creators to work on tactical maps for this production. Check out the great stuff made by Jean Lorber and  Chad Lensch. Jean illustrated an encounter written by Emily and David Harmon while Chad’s piece is for one written by Steve Fidler.

I can’t wait to finish this book and share all the wonderful work my contributors provided!




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New Dunwood Map

For my Dunwood project, I thought I’d try a new mapping style. Happy with progress so far. Eager to see what I can do with it in Photoshop.

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DMs Guild Pricing Snapshot – July 2020

As I was getting ready to publish my Great Dale Campaign Guide on the DM’s Guild last fall, I examined the current pricing trends for content at that time (see post Sept 16, 2019). As I’m pulling together another collaborative effort, I thought I’d again take a look at guild pricing.

When I looked at the top 50 most popular products on the guild (excluding compilations, templates, pay-what-you-want, and fantasy grounds translations), I found the following:

Note there’s there are very strong pricing attractors currently in the market. Most products are priced to be $4.95, $7.95, $9.95, $14.95, and $19.95.

Comparing the price/page with my numbers from last fall suggested there has been some movement upwards. Last year only a few of the top offerings were priced at great than $0.15 per page, now however there’s a good deal more.  It’s difficult to compare individual products because of variances in font, art, and content per page, however, when looking at an aggregate of available products, there’s a clear trend in current pricing. Smaller focused content appears to support a higher price/page than large compilations of material.

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Sneak peek – Dunwood

This summer I’m busy working on an exciting new collaborative effort with some outstanding writers. I’m currently pulling together a lot of awesome content. I’ll share more in the coming weeks, but we’re currently on schedule to publish on the DM’sGuild in late September.

In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of the current concept for our cover art. The art for our cover was created by Nicula Mircea and purchased from DriveThruRPG.

cover concept for Dunwood - Demons, Druids, & Danger

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MOON13-3 Wolves of the Sea at GenConOnline 2020

This year I was lucky to have my first Adventurer’s League Adventure run at Winter Fantasy.  I wrote MOON13-3 Wolves of the Sea as part of Baldman Game’s tier 3 trilogy. The Trilogy was developed and edited by Pieter Sleijpen and Eric Menge, and follows the adventurers as they search for missing refugees fleeing Norland as part of the Moonshae Isles Rising Shadow’s adventure path.

Adventure Overview

An expedition has gone missing. Rumors surface that reavers based in the pirate city of Westhaven are selling slaves to unscrupulous merchants. Is the expedition still alive? Can you uncover the slavers and rescue the expedition before it’s too late? A four hour D&D Adventurers League adventure for Tier 3 characters, set in the Moonshae Isles and brought to you by Baldman Games. Optimized for APL 13. This year we are proud to support several charities on top of what Gen Con is already doing. We will be donating a portion of our proceeds to Black Lives Matters charities at the conclusion of the show. On top of that, we are happy to partner with Jasper’s Gameday once again to offer rerolls and other exciting showtime activities to support their awesome mission statement.

Gen Con Online Schedules

Although I’m still eagerly awaiting for it to be published on the DM’s Guild, I’m excited that my adventure is being run as part of GenCon 13. The following are a list of schedule slots for the adventure:

Friday, July 31 Noon

Saturday, Aug 1 – 9 AM

Saturday, Aug 1 – noon

Saturday, Aug 1 – 4 PM

Saturday, Aug 1 – 7 PM

The evocative art I’ve used in this post is by Piotr Krezelewski. I thought Piotr’s illustration nicely presents what the pirate town of Westhaven might look like.

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Gen Con Online – 2020

My hope had been to attend my first GEN CON this year. Unfortunately, because of the COVID craziness affecting all of us this year, that won’t be possible. However, the convention has moved OnLine and they’re running a ton of gaming events. I’m both excited and scared to be running my first online D&D games at the event using Roll20.

I’ll be running modules from Baldman Games CCC-MOON-10 series. I’m very excited to run these tier-2 adventures. The series creative lead was the uber-talented Amy Lynn Dzura. The adventures take place in the Moonshae Isles of the Forgotten Realms.

Although not required to play in these adventures, Baldman Games published a well-made campaign guide for the region (Rising Shadows:Moonshae Isles Regional Guide) written by Shawn Merwin, Robert Alaniz, & Eric Menge. I highly recommend this book.

Adventure Outlines

  • MOON 10-1 Whispers and Warnings: The reach of the Shadowfell has come to Alaron! The Great Gark’s forces are intent on spreading the Howling Disease throughout the island, and the fey are in dire peril. Will you ride to their aide or will the shadow spread across the land? Part 1 of the MOON 10 trilogy. A four hour D&D Adventurers League adventure for 1st to 4th level characters, set in the Moonshae Isles.
  • MOON 10-2 Shadows and Shrouds: A new threat is gaining power over the moonwells of Alaron, and the druids of the Earthmother believe the best way to uncover the sinister plot is to venture into the Shadowfell itself. Part 2 of the MOON 10 trilogy. A four hour D&D Adventurers League adventure for 1st to 4th level characters, set in the Moonshae Isles.
  • MOON 10-3 Fortresses and Fortunes: Forces are gathering at Caer Callidyrr. The Slain seeks to capture the High King of the Moonshaes, and the fate of Alaron hangs in the balance. What will happen when the Shadowfell and the Feywild troops collide? Part 3 of the MOON 10 Trilogy. A four hour D&D Adventurers League adventure for 1st to 4th level characters, set in the Moonshae Isles.

Joe’s DM’ing Schedule

I believe event registration opens up July 13th. Here’s my schedule for the games I’m DM’ing during the convention (all times in Eastern Timezone). Although they’re designed to be 4-hour adventures, they’ve set aside 6 hours for each timeslot. I’d love to see you at my table!

Thursday, July 30th

Friday, July 31st

Saturday, August 1st

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Hatred In Strale

One of the great things available to current D&D players is a wealth of campaign world in which they can run their games. Late last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Travis Legge, who shared with me a love for the Scarred Lands setting.

This well-detailed campaign world was first published using the d20 System by White Wolf Publishing starting in 2000. During the early 2000s a flurry of material detailing this campaign world was released. In 2013, Nocturnal Media and Onyx Path Publishing picked up the rights to the fantasy setting and a few years later released their 5th Edition remastering of the material.

What are the Scarred Lands?

The Scared Land setting is a world that reels from the effects of a war between the gods and titans. 150 years have passed since the gods won this war, but the lands still bear witness to the horrors unleashed by this conflict. You can grab the 5th edition version of the Scarred Lands sourcebook on DriveThruRPG.

Slarecian Vault

The Slarecian Vault is Onyx Path’s community content publication platform offered through DriveThruRPG. Much like the DM’s Guild, the Slarecian Vault allows individuals to create and sell new Scarred Lands content.

Hatred in Strale

In speaking with Travis last year, he encouraged me to try my hand at creating material for this setting. Though it took longer than I’d like, I’ve finally finished my first publication for this setting.

I’m pleased to present Hatred in Strale.Hatred In Stale - v1.0 - 20200519_Page_01 It’s intended to be a two to four-hour adventure to challenge 4-5 characters of 1st level.

The characters stumble upon the survivors of a doomed expedition and learn of a shipwreck that may still hold items of great value. Can they overcome an abomination that now claims the vessel, or will they fall victim to the Hatred in Strale.

Although it was designed for the Scarred Lands adventure setting, the adventure is easily adaptable for most fantasy settings.

Please take a look!

Here are a few sample pages from the production:

Hatred In Stale - v1.0 - 20200519_Page_03 smallerHatred In Stale - v1.0 - 20200519_Page_04 smallerHatred In Stale - v1.0 - 20200519_Page_11 smallerHatred In Stale - v1.0 - 20200519_Page_13 - smallerHatred In Stale - v1.0 - 20200519_Page_17 smallerHatred In Stale - v1.0 - 20200519_Page_18 smaller

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Jasper’s Game Week Discount

This year, Jasper’s Game Week starts May 2nd and runs until Thursday, May 7th. It’s a Dungeons & Dragons community charity event raising money to support suicide prevention in the United States.

I’m very pleased to participate this year, as I’ve donated money for a chance to play on a streamed D&D game run by Shawn Merwin Tuesday May 5th at 5pm eastern. If you’d like to see me fumble through playing my human wizard Vanor Longsleeve, please tune in and watch.

Better yet, if you’re able, please consider donating to the event here. DONATE.

For those interested in helping Canadian organizations, here are a few that could use your help:

In addition, between May 1st and May 7th, 2020, I will donate to this charity event my commissions from Terror Beneath the Frozen Gate. It’s my collaborative D&D adventure available on the DM’s Guild that I co-wrote with Jeff Stevens and Karl Resch. Please consider picking up a copy. You can even use this special discount link to grab the .pdf  at 1/2 its regular price.


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Circle Initiate

One of the fun D&D innovations released in the last year were the official sidekick characters in the D&D Essentials Kit. In my gaming experience, all too often it’s been difficult to pull together 4 or 5 folks for a D&D game. Historically, playing D&D with just a DM and a single player was unwieldy, usually forcing the player to juggle managing two or more characters. Certainly can be done, but it does add a lot of thinking overhead to remember all the different abilities of each character.

Sidekicks remind me of 1st editions henchmen, hired non-player characters brought with adventurers to tackle difficult adventures. Henchmen were usually one-dimensions figures used by players to beef up their group, to help their main characters survive.

5E’s sidekicks present simplified characters whose abilities nicely fit into a single stat block. With a streamlined set of skills, these characters easily augment a small group of characters, making even the DM and single-player a viable option.

Earlier this year I released Terror Beneath the Frozen Gate, a tier-one adventure I wrote with Jeff Stevens and Karl Resch. We designed it to be an adventure that could take new players from level 1 to level 5. My intention was to provide a full set of pre-gens to make it a quick, ready-to-run adventure, but as often happens, there never seems to be enough time to do everything I’d hoped to do.

However, I thought it might be fun to add a set of side-kicks that a small group could use to help run this or any other adventure based in the Great Dale. So this week I released the Circle Initiate, the first of a series of Great Dale themed sidekick characters. Over the coming months, I intend to publish four or five more and finally bundle them into a single collection.

The Circle Initiate took inspiration from the Circle of Leth, a druid order that watches over the vast forests surrounding the Great Dale. These characters bring a host of nature-themed abilities to support player characters, including the ability to augment berries created by the goodberry spell to make them viable healing support as the group advances in level. Cover art for the Circle Initiate by the talented stock art artist Daniel Comerci.

If you have a chance, pick up a copy. I’ve also included it in my Great Dale Campaign bundle allowing you to get it along with my Great Dale Campaign Guide, and a few adventures including  Terror Beneath the Frozen Gate.


Interested in finding some other articles on Sidekicks check out the following links:

  • Down With DnD Episode #174 – Merwin and Sniezek looked at the sidekicks when they were still in development as an Unearthed Arcana consideration.
  • DM David  – a post back in 2017 by David Hartlage describing the benefits of augmenting an adventuring party with NPC support, which for me foreshadows the arrival of sidekicks nicesly.
  • RPG Bot – an overview of sidekicks, how to use ’em and make your own.
  • DnD Duet – a nice overview of using Sidekicks in your games
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