October 31, 2014

5E Friday - Dungeonscape

The news this week is that Dungeonscape, the online gaming tool being made by Trapdoor, is no longer being made for 5E. News has been sparse and is likely to remain so as to the actual behind the scenes decision making. Here are some of my random thoughts on the topic...

-I suspect the product was late. Normally such a product should have launched with the Player's Handbook. Two months after the PHB release and they are still in beta. It also looked like a release version was far off.

-Seeing some recent feedback on the beta...things were not going well. They didn't even have the character generator complete or non-buggy.

-Combine a late product with it looking even later and WotC probably decided to pull the plug on what they felt was a non-viable product. Maybe I'm reading too much into it but from WotC - "we remain committed to creating great tabletop and digital gaming experiences for Dungeons & Dragons players and DMs" - To me this sounds like Dungeonscape was not looking like it would be a 'great...digital gaming experience'.
If the product had hope of completing I suspect WotC would have kept them on...but it didn't look like that was a possibility.

-People are hoping that PDFs of the books will become available now. Previously the only online versions of the books would have been through Dungeonscape. However, I suspect WotC is working on a new online resource with the same intent of keeping the books behind an online source (ie no PDFs).

-It sounds like Trapdoor is looking to continue on the project, however, it will likely not be for 5E. They will likely shop it out to other companies or make it something generic.

-I never expected a personal "need" for the product, though I would have checked it out. However, I won't be missing it now that its dead.

-Look for news about their newest online product for 5E from WotC soon. I suspect they've been looking for another producer for at least a month.

October 28, 2014

5E Background - Guard


You have the skills to protect other people and their possessions. In the past you may have been a bodyguard protecting a traveling merchant caravan, protecting an important person or a security guard protecting a place of business. Likely you've done a bit of all of those tasks over the years. However, keeping other people's gold safe gets old after a while. Eventually you decided to go out and find your own gold...though sometimes you still have to take the occasional guard job to pay the bills.

Skill Proficiencies: Intimidation, Perception
Tool Proficiencies: One type of gaming set
Equipment: A set of common clothes, a set of bone dice, a belt pouch continuing 10gp

Feature: Steadfast
You are used to spending long periods of time waiting but being on high alert the entire time. During a long rest you can perform light activities such as reading, talking, eating, or standing watch for 4 hours instead of the maximum of 2 hours.

Suggested Characteristics:
A guard has a broad range of skills. They need to be capable with weapons, but they are not soldiers. They need to be aware of what is going on around them at all times. They need to put themselves in harm's way. They are a military jack-of-all-trade but master of none.

Personality Trait:
1. I have given names to my weapons and I talk to them.
2. I am very good at waiting. Patience is a virtue I have conquered.
3. I am awkward and uncomfortable around people I am attracted to.
4. I do not lie and hate being lied to.
5. I am good at taking orders.
6. I never panic in a crisis situation.
7. When there is not much going on, I like to eat. My gut would indicate, maybe I like it a bit too much.
8. I like to know the names of everyone around me.

1. Aloof. I try not to get close to those I protect, it makes my job more difficult. (Neutral)
2. Self-Sacrifice. My job is to save the lives of other people, even at the expense of my own. (Good)
3. Spontaneity. Try to keep them guessing. If the enemy doesn't know what defenses I've planned then they can't prepare for them. (Chaotic)
4. Diligent. I'm getting paid to do a job, I'll see it to its completion. (Lawful)
5. Sadist. I like to hurt people and being a guard makes it legal. (Evil)
6. Meaningful. It may not be glamorous but what I do is of value. (Any)

1. I once saved the life of an important noble. I keep a medallion he gave me as a reward.
2. During one of my stints as a security guard I found a stray cat. It still travels with me.
3. I'm not an alcoholic, but I perform better after having a drink.
4. I work better as part of a team; we can watch each other's backs.
5. After 6 months guarding a caravan the boss stiffed us on our wages and left us out in the middle of no where. I want my pay.
6. Some day I'll be the leader of my own mercenary company.

1. Someone I was hired to bodyguard died under my watch. The family still blames me. Even worse, I blame myself.
2. I am suspicious of everyone. It is very hard for me to trust anyone.
3. Once I am on a job nothing will dissuade me from completing it.
4. I was once a soldier but left under a cloud.
5. I hate organized crime and will doing anything to crush it wherever I find it.
6. I was tasked to protect an artifact from a cult. I failed and my goal is to recover it one day.

October 24, 2014

5E Friday - Inspiration

I'll admit it, I was a bit leery about 5E's Inspiration mechanic. To me it seemed like it was either...

...a munchkin tactic wherein the players would work to get them for no reason other than to gain a numerical advantage in game.
...an unnecessary rule that overcomplicated the system.
...virtually the same as the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic.

However, having seen it in practice I've decided I like it.

The munchkin, min/maxer, in my game quickly started going for it. He started role-playing the quirks on his character sheet (the players are using the pre-gens from the Starter Set while we try out the system). The thing is, he is not the most diligent role-player. He is very based in the numbers and not the character. I would call him a roll-player and not a role-player. And yet, here he was role-playing and doing it well. Sure he was doing it to gain the advantage for his die rolling, but despite the motivation...he was role-playing!
The best part was that he was interacting more with the other characters and getting them to role-play as well. While my fear of munchkin-ism was basically proven true, I'm okay with that. The end result is an overall improvement to the game.

The second Inspiration I handed out was when one of the players made the entire table roar in laughter for a good long time. I'm not even sure if it was for something in-character or out-of-character; it didn't matter. It seemed like a nice reward for entertaining us and she seemed pleased to get it.

For me, Inspiration is a reward for role-playing or simply being entertaining. It's a way to reward the players when they do something I approve of, a way to give them direction without demanding it. I'm liking it utilization.

October 21, 2014

5E Background - Traveller


Some would call you vagrant, vagabond, tramp. drifter, but they just don't understand. You are gripped with wanderlust and enjoy the simply thrill of traveling from place to place, experiencing something new every day. You are most comfortable on the road and staying in one place for too long begins to get on your nerves. This might be a week or a year, but eventually you need to move on.

Skill Proficiencies: Nature, Survival
Languages: Two of your choice.
Equipment: A set of traveler's clothes with sturdy shoes, a walking stick (that can act as a staff), a rucksack with 5 gp

Feature: Home on the Road
You have adapted to always being on the move and not having a home to live in; you make your home wherever you stop for the night. You are able to find shelter, or build it quickly, while traveling. This means you can stay dry and warm outside of urban areas. You can also find food and water for yourself and up to 1d6 other people daily, assuming there is any food and water in the area.

Suggested Characteristics
Being tied down to one place is antithesis to who you are. Being on the move is where you feel the most comfortable. This does mean who are the perpetual stranger and people tend not to trust you, but that is fine since you'll be gone soon anyway. The world is a huge place and you intend to see all of it.
Personality Trait
1. I hum the same tune when nervous or unsure.
2. I can't help letting people know where I've been.
3. I'm not sure when my next meal will be so I am constantly eating something.
4. I have no sense of personal space.
5. I may not tell outright lies, but I will certainly embellish a deed.
6. Whittling is how I spend much of my time.
7. My mustache is a thing of beauty and perfection. Keeping it groomed is time well spent.
8. I make sure to think through a question thoroughly before answering.

1. Change. Anytime something becomes stagnant is the time to change it. (Chaotic)
2. Gain. I try to take as much from an area before moving on. (Evil)
3. Respect. I am only visiting; I should leave things as I found them. (Lawful)
4. Individualism. I won't stop you from doing what you wish, don't try to stop me. (Neutral)
5. Amiable. There is so much for all to see and enjoy in this world. (Any)
6. Nurture. As I make my way through the world, I try to leave it better than I found it. (Good)

1. I have my favorite walking stick which I am never without.
2. The book I carry is a record of every place I've ever been.
3. I will see something no one else has ever witnessed before.
4. I know the location of a hidden vale that if revealed to the rest of the world would cause its destruction.
5. There are tales of a lost city. I will find it one day.
6. I search for my father. All I have is his name, but I know I will find him before I die.

1. I can't bring myself to retrace my steps. I'll take the long way around if that is an option.
2. I am running from someone I have wronged and must stay constantly on the move.
3. I am impatient and brusque with other people which makes me appear surly.
4. I am uncomfortable touching other people and avoid it as much as possible.
5. Personal freedom is more important than anything else.
6. I left behind a spouse and child and it now brings me great shame.

October 14, 2014

5E Monsters - Which Ones Are Next?

The 5E Monster Manual gave us a bunch of the most iconic monsters D&D has ever produced. It's like the Hall of Fame for monsters. However, which monsters will be in the next Monster Manual? Which ones do YOU want to see next? For myself...

Dark Ones
Oozes (other varities)
Rot Grub
Yellow Musk Creeper

Looking through the list of past monsters, there are not a lot of must-haves. The 5E Monster Manual really did a good job at including the "necessary" monsters. From this point on, we'll likely see monster variations (different types of golems, etc), setting specific monsters and the bizarre ones.

October 7, 2014

5E Birthright - Skills & Blood Abilities

5E does not have many skills so adding a bunch more will not work as well. There is a new skill called Statesmanship which rolls the Administration, Law and Leadership skills together. There is a new skill called Warfare which rolls the Siegecraft and Strategy skills together. Diplomacy is now used under the Persuasion skill. Intrigue is now used under the Deception skill.

Statesmanship (Charisma)
This is Birthright's Administration, Law and Leadership skills. On each Domain turn you can do one of the following:
·        On a successful check, you can reduce your maintenance costs by 25% for a domain turn.
·        On a successful check, you can reduce the base GB cost of a domain action by 1.
·        On a successful check, you gain a +1 to your success chance in a Create Holding, Decree, Rule or Espionage domain action.
·        The resolution of a Matter of Justice random event is increased by one level (ex. a fair result becomes a good result).
·        On a successful check, you can improve the loyalty rating in one province by one level.

Warfare (Charisma)
This allows for the use of abilities as listed under the Siegecraft and Strategy skills in the Birthright rules.

Blood Abilities
Acquisition of Blood Abilities can be done as normal. The following Abilities do not need any changes: Alertness, Animal Affinity, Battlewise, Blood History, Character Reading, Courage, Detect Illusion. Direction Sense, Divine Wrath, Elemental Control, Fear, Persuasion, Poison Sense, Protection from Evil, Regeneration, Shadow Form, Touch of Decay, Travel, Unreadable. Below are the ones that need new information to fit into 5E:

Alter Appearance
You can change your appearance similar to the alter self spell, but only the change appearance option. You also do not need to concentrate while using this ability.
Once you use this ability, you can't use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Gain Advantage on social interactions.

Detect Lie
You are able to cast detect thoughts, but are only able to pick up lies. However, the target does not know you probed their minds.
Once you use this ability, you can't use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Divine Aura
Gain Advantage on social interactions.
The Major and Great Ability remain the same, except once you use this ability, you can't use it again until you finish a long rest.

Enhanced Sense
Anduiras- The detect evil spell is now detect evil and good.
Azrai- The major ability is detect evil and good and detect magic (necromancy only).
Reynir- Gain Advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks.
Basaia, Brenna, Masela, Vorynn- Remains the same.

The spells listed are replaced with lesser restoration; everything else remains the same.

Heightened Ability
Increase the ability score tied to your bloodline by 2. If you have two options you can increase one of them by 2 or both by 1. No ability may be higher than 20.

Iron Will
Gain the Toughness Feat. Gain Advantage on saving throws vs mind-influencing spells.

October 2, 2014

5E Birthright - Apocalypse (Warlock Patron)

Apocalypse (Warlock patron)
While some claim Apocalypse is an awnshegh, it is something more than that. It is a primal force of disease and destruction. Some warlocks have managed to "reach" this entity and tap into it for increased power.

Expanded Spell List
Spell Level    Spells
1st             detect poison and disease, ray of sickness
2nd            blindness/deafness, silence
3rd            bestow curse, stinking cloud
4th            confusion, ice storm
5th            contagion, insect plague

Marked For Death
Starting at 1st level, you start the process of spreading death and decay. When you hit a creature with a successful attack you can inflict a disease upon the creature that does damage equal to your warlock level at the beginning of your turn until the creature dies or a number of turns equal to your warlock level have passed, whichever comes first.
   Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Lasting Pain
Beginning at 6th level, your patron bestows upon you the ability to extend your spells upon a victim. When a target makes a successful saving throw vs. one of your spells, the effect does not stop until the end of their next turn.
   Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Plague of Death
Starting at 10th level, you gain the ability to bring disease and death upon an entire province. Once per Domain Turn you can use this ability to depopulate a province, reducing it by one level. It costs no Regency or Gold and does not need a Required Source. However, the ability can only be used if you are in the province at some point during that Domain Turn or you have a ley line into that province.

Touch of Death
Starting at 14th level, you can cause a creature to fall part at the cellular level. When you hit a creature with a successful attack you can inflict a disease upon the creature that does 5d6 poison damage at the beginning of your turn until the creature dies or make a saving throw. The saving throw is a Constitution Save (DC 10 + your level), but the creature must first have a dispel magic cast upon (DC 10 + your level) them before they are allowed to make the saving throw.
   Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a long rest.

October 1, 2014

5E Birthright - The Cold Rider (Warlock Patron)

The Cold Rider (Warlock patron)
Is your patron one of the Lost, an aspect of Azrai, a liche, a god, an awnshegh, a part of the Shadow World brought to life? You do not know but it whispers to you in the night and you listen, gaining new magics others fear.

Expanded Spell List
Spell Level    Spells
1st             detect evil and good, false life
2nd            blur, gentle repose
3rd            animate dead, feign deathSki
4th            death ward, evard's black tentacles
5th            cone of cold, dispel evil and good

Cold Heart
Starting at 1st level, you become inured to cold. You gain resistance to cold attacks.

Beginning at 6th level, you take a quick step into the Shadow World when you are about to take harm. After you have been successfully hit, but before damage has been declared, you may use your reaction to quickly teleport into the Shadow World and out again. You take no damage from the successful attack.
   Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Undead Army
Starting at 10th level, you are able to summon an army of undead to do your bidding. You can summon one unit of undead minions without paying any Regency or Gold, and you do not need to have the Required Source value. The duration of your unit only lasts until your next long rest.
Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a long rest.

Into the Shadow World
Starting at 14th level, when you hit a creature with an attack you can use this ability to instantly transport the target through the Shadow World. The creature disappears instantly and hurtles through a cold and bleak landscape.
   At the end of your next turn, the target returns to the space it previously occupied or the nearest unoccupied space. The target takes 10d10 psychic damage as it recovers from the horrible experience.
   Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you finish a long rest.