Kim Frandsen: The Cleric of Keeping It Classy

I’ve interviewed Kim Frandsen, my former editor at the Open Gaming Network, about his DMsGuild book – Keeping It Classy: The Barbarian and Keeping It Classy: The Bard – as they were coming out. To build this tradition, I’m talking to him about his latest project, Keeping It Classy: The Cleric.

[“Talking Classy Barbarians with Kim Frandsen” and “Kim Frandsen: The Bard of Keeping It Classy“]


EGG EMBRY (EGG): Kim, this is our third “Keeping in Classy” interview (Barbarians and Bards, so far). To that end, pitch me your classy clerics!

KIM FRANDSEN (KIM): One of the things that always bothered me about clerics in 5e is a certain lack of choice. They’re only so many domains in the core books (and not exactly a lot more if you expand to other books), but when you look at the rich mythology of our world, as well as that of the various gaming worlds, then you can’t really just narrow it down to the 11 domains that are currently in the official WoTC releases. Things like the Trickery domain applying to both Mask (the god of thieves), Beshaba (the goddess of misfortune), Tymora (the goddess of luck) AND Shar (the goddess of darkness and secrets) just feels wrong. So I aimed to expand that as much as I reasonable could.

So in this, you want to play a Cleric of the Norns (from Norse mythology), there’s a Fate Domain. You want to play a noble cleric of Torm? There’s a Valor domain. You want to play a fallen Cleric of Gond? Well then you take the Creation domain, and add on the Heretic Background. How about a reincarnated cleric of Talona? Yep, that’s the Disease domain, coupled with the Reborn background.

EGG: Will these will be setting-neutral clerics, or are you creating a mythology for them?

KIM: These are all setting-neutral clerics. I did toy with the idea of adding in a “make-your-own-pantheon” idea, but I realized that while that would be interesting, it’s not for this book. This book is for players, i.e. it has class options, race options, background and equipment. Something like a “build a pantheon” deserves its own treatment to do it justice. It’s also a matter of scope. If I added that in, the book would likely be twice as long as it is now, and it’s already bigger than the other two Keeping it Classy books. 😛


EGG: Does creating clerics without a specific world in mind make this easier or more challenging?

KIM: It makes it more challenging without a doubt. I tried to tie in the domains and backgrounds to all our classic tropes, stories and campaign worlds out there. So, for the majority of the domains, there are examples from both the campaign worlds and our own world, of which deities would typically offer these. That said, I do recommend that a DM takes a moment to think about the various domains that a player wants to access, to choose which deities it applies to, and to think outside the box. There is no reason why a domain shouldn’t apply both ways in the alignment scale, if given a bit of thought. For example, the Disease domain is skewed towards evil, i.e. the inflicting of diseases. But I’ve made sure to include a few curatives, to give people that option. After all, there are people out there CURING disease too, and they could have that domain. (Also, even evil clerics sometimes want to help their allies, and a plague IS a bit unhelpful).

EGG: With this book, you’ve onto three related pieces. Are there any Easter Eggs or crossover between them?

KIM: Direct crossovers, no. But there are some synergies between some of them. They’re not requirements, but they would work together well. The one that stood out in my mind was two of the backgrounds. The Barbarian had a background called “Out of Time” – where essentially, they were a time traveler from an age long past. The Cleric book has one called Reborn – and it is literally that. Someone given a second chance from the afterlife, either by a good or spells like reincarnate. I think it would be a fun party to DM – two friends from another time, come back together, through different paths.


EGG: Did you write all of this one?

KIM: As usual, yes. It’s all mine, and new content to boot. 😊


EGG: Any new clerical spells?

KIM: No, there are no new spells in this one. Again, it’s a matter of scope and space. I could have added them, but the book would be enormous if I did. I wanted to give people room to play with what is already available, add customization without muddying the waters with more spells.

EGG: Any new monsters or PC races to play?

KIM: There is, the Kornfar. A race of ex-humans that were exiled thousands of years ago to Limbo, and who have now come back. They’re extremely orderly, as that’s what kept them alive, and all of them believe in SOMETHING. They’re a very religious (if not fanatical) race, but they don’t stick to one religion. The religion of each individual is their choice (though the rest of them might not necessarily agree). I’d been planning on giving them masks – sort of  the idea that their actions should speak for them, not whether they have a pretty face – and Dean Spencer happened to put out a piece of art while I was writing the book that was PERFECT for them.


EGG: You’ve done memes before, what memes are you doing for this campaign?

KIM: I haven’t actually had time to come up with any for this one! I am planning to though. The book is about to enter the editing stage – so I’m going to put a few out there. I did do one that you can see here.

EGG: How did your first and second book do, sales-wise? Where do you think your current book will land among them?

KIM: The Barbarian book did really well. It performed far beyond my expectations. The Bard book, not so much. At this time, it’s only just broken even – i.e. I’ve not earned anything on it, so all it has cost me is time and effort. I have no idea why that is, but maybe people don’t play bards as much as barbarians. 😛 – Obviously, I’m hoping that The Cleric book will do as well as The Barbarian book, but I’d be happy if it lands somewhere between the two. 🙂


EGG: Where can fans find more about your books and this one that’s coming out?

KIM: I try to keep active on all the social media, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – but I’m not quite as active on Instagram as I probably could be. That said, at the moment, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s going on, as I’ve got two more books in the making. They’re not Keeping It Classy, but they’re one of those “from the heart” projects. A domain book for Ravenloft for Souragne and a spiritual (and actual) sequel to an old adventure in that domain: Night of the Walking Dead. The images you can see here are the work-in-progress shots for the covers, so they’ll likely see some changes.

As for a release date: it’ll depend on the editing process by now. I’m guessing end of September, start of October, so watch this space. 😊

Kim Frandsen: The Bard of Keeping It Classy

My former editor on the Open Gaming Network, fellow journalist on d20 Radio, and RPG pal, Kim Frandsen, did a book for the DMsGuildKeeping it Classy: The Barbarian, that flew off the digital shelf. We did an interview about it if you’re interested. Now he’s back with Keeping It Classy: The Bard so I caught up with him to talk about his newest book.  

EGG EMBRY (EGG)Kim, we talked before about your prior project, Keeping it Classy: The Barbarian, just a few months ago. You’re back with the next in your Dungeons & Dragons 5e series, Keeping It Classy: The BardCan you pitch me the book 

KIM FRANDSEN (KIM): Well, the answer really is simple. If you like bards, but you find that the colleges of Lore and Valor are a bit too limited, then this book is for you. Like with the Barbarian, the tradition of the Bard comes from rich folklore and stories that go back centuries, and some of the experience of those traditions is lost. I wanted to expand on that, and take inspiration from those. You want to play something like the Pied Piper of Hamelin? There’s a college for you. You want to play Alan-a-Dale from Robin Hood, there’s a college for you. You want to be Cacofonix (the Bard from Asterix) – yep, there’s a college for you. 


EGG: Why bards?  

KIMI always found bards to get the short end of the stick, and a bit of a bad reputation. Sure, some of them will seduce anything with a pulse (and a lot of things without one), but it really is playing into the stereotype. They’re a face and support style character – they don’t have the flamboyance of a raging Barbarian or a fireball-throwing Wizard, but they have a very distinct “feel” when you play them as something other than a seduction-machine. It’s not the most popular class in the world either. Apart from myself, I only actually know a single person who’s played a bard – or at least only one who’s ever told me. 

EGG: Of your new Bard Colleges, what are the top 3? 

KIMI wouldn’t say there’s a Top 3 as such, but the 3 that stand out to me are the College of Life – as it enables you to play a more effective healer than you would normally as a bard. It takes the idea of the “old wise village dweller” to the logical conclusion. Then there’s the College of Death – it allows you to create a type of assassin. When I was writing that one, I kept getting Milady de Winter from the Three Musketeers popping into my head – seductive, persuasive and undeniably deadly. Finally, there’s the College of the Silver Voice – my version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. You want to convince someone to do something: That college is your best bet. 😊 


EGGAny new monsters? Or a new race to play 

KIMNo – Not unless you count the college of discord. The tunes that thing can turn out ARE monstrous. 

There is a new race for this book as well, just like I expect there will be for the other books. 🙂 The windsingers in this book were inspired in part by actual birds (from a walk I had in my local forest, where it sounded like the birds were having a conversation [well, argument really]), and the avariel elves (if you don’t know them – look them up. Winged elves) – and also by the fact that there only seems to be one flying race. So I combined the idea of this ability to fly and the love of music into a race – one well suited for the bard class. 🙂 

EGG: Are all of these your words or is anyone helping you on this one?  

KIMThese are all my own. I had a single archetype in the Barbarian book by Rodney Sloan, but this time around all of it is mine. And it is all new. 😊 


EGG: What “new” memes did you create for this one?  

KIMThere were a few.


EGG: So, dropped it on July 5th, the day after America’s Independence Day, did ya? How’d the holiday impact your roll out?  

KIMYes I did. And in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have. Noted down as a lesson learned. Since I don’t live in the US, I completely forgot about it. To me it was a normal Friday, but it seems like a lot of the US had the day off. Whether it’s due to the Bard being less popular than the Barbarian or not, I don’t know, but the response has been a lot slower in coming. 


EGG: Keeping it Classy: The Barbarian did some great numbers. How has it performed?  

KIMIt has hit GOLD on the DMsGuild – and it did so in about a month. I couldn’t be happier with that. 😊 

EGG: Are you planning to keep every 5e class classy?  

KIMShort answer: Yep. 😊 Long answer: Yes, but each book does take time to write. Now I have ideas for all of them, but I don’t accept just anything into them. Each book takes about a month to research and write (and rewrite) and another month for editing, layout and cover to come together. So next up is cleric, and I’m 90% or so through the brainstorm for it. For those curious, next up is Cleric. (I like to keep things alphabetical. 😛 ) 


EGG: Where can fans find out more about you and your books?  

KIMWell, I do a blog on the d20 Radio network every Friday. That admittedly is mostly Pathfinder, at least currently, but lately I’ve been working on locations and encounters based off Magic cards, and they can be used for any system. People looking to find my books can find them on DriveThruRPG and DMsGuild. 


Egg Embry is a participant in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to DriveThruRPG.

Talking Classy Barbarians with Kim Frandsen

The Open Gaming Network’s newsletter had an offer to write for them. That’s how I met Kim Frandsen, my editor at the Open Gaming Network. As with every editor I’ve had, he helped me to hone my craft, introduced me to a number of people in the industry, and is someone I count as a friend. So, when Kim shared one of his projects with me, I knew I wanted to repay his kindness and talk to him about The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy

[UPDATE: The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy is live. Find it here.]

EGG EMBRY (EGG): Thanks for talking with me. Currently, you’re finishing up a project (really several). Can you share some The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy details? 

KIM FRANDSEN (KF)Sure thing, Egg. So, this is basically an experiment, and something that was born out of my own annoyance. I have a liking, as a player, for having multiple options in a single book. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but it just seems right to me. But a lot of the time, when I see a new subclass or something of that sort revealed, it seems to be just that single subclass included in the book. And to me, that seems wrong, as I like choice – I like a LOT of choice. So, I set about the book as an experiment of trying out the DMsGuild for the first time and providing the kind of book I like. I took a good look at all the tropes, stereotypes and references to the barbarian that I could think of, and then I tried to turn them into something that players can use in their games. 

That originally started as just an idea of 10 new paths for the Barbarian, but by the end of it, there was 14 of paths, a new race, 5 backgrounds and a bunch of equipment. It got a bit bigger than I’d originally intended, but that’s how many of these projects run😊 


EGG: This project is all you, correct? Every word from your keyboard?  

KF: Everything in the book is mine. EXCEPT the path called Path of the Slayer. That came from the mind of a good friend of mine called Rodney Sloan, who does 5e and Pathfinder as well, and who worked as my copy editor on the OGN. We saw an opportunity as one of his paths fit perfectly into my book, and one of my paths (the Path of the Northman) has made an appearance in his book as well, and was released just a few days ago in the Undersea Sourcebook: Race and Class Guide. 

EGG: Who’s providing the art?  

KF: The cover and some of the larger pieces of internal art is Dean Spencer. I have a real love for his work, so I wanted to showcase some of it. Incidentally, he came out with a piece of art, just as I was writing the new race for the book (redscale lizardfolk), and I just HAD to include that one in the book. The other pieces of internal art are all in the public domain, and was sorted by Bob Greyvenstein, who also did the general layout (and who did a fantastic job, I think). 


EGG: Where will it be available? When (roughly) will The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy drop? 

KF: It’s only going to be available on the DMsGuild. I’m hoping this weekend. But it might be delayed (on purpose) till next Thursday/Friday. It really depends on when the layout is finished. 

[UPDATE: The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy is live. Find it here.]

EGG: Why the DMsGuild as opposed to a “standard” release?  

KF: Well, that’s part of the experiment that I mentioned earlier. I’ve had a number of books released on DriveThruRPG, and there are certain advantages to releasing there, such as easier access to putting your book out as Print-on-Demand. However, I think the 5e audience mainly uses the DMsGuild, at least for their D&D purchases, and I want the book to be available to as many people as possible. And it’ll be interesting to see if I’m right. 😉 


EGG: Can you share the details of a few classes from the book?  

KFCertainly. I already mentioned the redscale lizardfolk earlier, so I’ll start with them. They’re a new player character race, created from normal lizardfolk stock, by a red dragon looking to make slave creatures. They’re strong and wise, good swimmers and have a bite attack and the ability to deal fire damage with their weapons by coating them in blood. 

I’ll cover just 2 of the paths as well. First is the “Path of the Immortal” – which is inspired by the stories of Achilles. This gives you a bit of the legendary abilities of his, like an improved armor class, extra damage against creatures that wound you, and decreased damage from non-magical weapons, beyond the normal resistance.  

The other one is the Path of the Skinchanger, and it’s inspired by He-Man. I wanted a Barbarian that transformed when he raged, so I have a class that’s thematically tied to his gear, transforming and gaining abilities as long as you have your weapon/armor/shield (your choice) on you, gaining superhuman strength eventually. After writing it, I realized that a quick re-skin would allow you to do Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde and the Hulk as well, which is an added bonus😊 

EGG: You’ve done a small meme campaign to get the word out about this. How has the reaction been? 

KFA lot of laughs. Hopefully not just mine😊 – No, the reception has been good from what I can see, but it’s definitely an acquired taste, and not for everyone. I just wanted something a little different to posting my stuff in every single group imaginable. I know that’s probably imposter syndrome talking, since we all see it, but I really dislike doing it. So, I’d rather have something fun. And yes, I do have one more planned for when the book releases. – One that I think incapsulates every author ever when a new book comes out. 😛 

EGGThe Barbarian: Keeping it Classy is not your only project. What else can you share?  

KF: I always have multiple projects on the go (at any given time, there’s at least 5 on the backburner with a few more active), but the 3 that are currently going on are 2 Starfinder ones (That I cannot talk about due to NDAs), and another 5e one that I CAN talk about. 😊 We’re doing a follow-up to two books that I did together with Ishmael Alvarez called Aurora’s Whole Realms Summer Catalogue and Aurora’s Whole Realms Autumn Catalogue. Spiritual successors to the old Aurora’s Whole Realms Catalogue, based in the Forgotten Realms, and full of new equipment. 😊 


EGG: For those not familiar with you, what other projects have you participated in?  

KFThat is WAY too long a list to put it all in here. But my work has probably been seen by most people in Paizo’s Pathfinder Player CompanionWilderness Origins – But I have more than 40 books behind me as an author or co-author and another 20 as editor, plus some 100+ blog posts. Anyone interested can find the full list here: 

EGG: On to some sadder news (for me), you’re no longer my editor at the Open Gaming Network as you’re moving on to greener pastures. Can you share a few highlights from your years there? 

KFWell obviously working with a bunch of talented authors has been interesting to say the least. I’ve learned a lot, hopefully taught even more and often thought to myself “herding cats is easier”😊 – In all seriousness though, I’m grateful to have worked with so many talented people, and singling anyone out would do them a disservice. I will say though, that the most INTERESTING thing we did was to host the DesignFinder Contest. While I wasn’t among the judges, I was the person that the winner had to work with afterwards, and I was the only one, apart from the judges, who saw all the entries. And there are some talented people out there, who simply need to polish their skills, and they could REALLY make an impact. 


EGG: For fans interested in learning more about your and The Barbarian: Keeping it Classy, where can they find out more?  

KFI’m relatively active on social media – though I’m new to Twitter. People can follow me here:
Facebook Page: 

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