Using Skills is a series of posts that delves into and discusses each skill in 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons. This index is meant to make this series easier to navigate for anyone wishing to look up a particular skill. Below the list is a lengthy Afterword in which I discuss the series, my thoughts on it, and the future of this blog. Lastly, there is a poll at the bottom in which I ask what content you are most interested in seeing.
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And now we finally come to the last part of our ongoing series on the skills of 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. Last time we covered Stealth, and for this final discussion we’ll be going over that friend of rangers and barbarians: survival.
Using Skills – Survival
The bent blades of grass. The occasional broken dead twig from the surrounding autumn forest trees. A slight smell still on the air; of horse sweat and steel.
“Less than an hour,” the tracker said, brushing dead grass out of the way of the muddy hoof-print. “Riding east hard, though they’ll need to be turning south-east to get around the river.”
Survival is the skill of thriving outside the confines of civilization.
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Last week we discussed using the skill Religion in Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. Today we’re getting a grip on that skill of nimble fingers, sleight of hand. This will be a short one, as it’s pretty straight forward and a DM hardly needs inspiration in cultivating the use of it.
Using Skills – Sleight of Hand
The juggler stepped through the crowded market area, ignoring every jostle and bump as she kept five balls in the air -as well as nicking a bauble surreptitiously off of a market stall. The courtier made her rounds through the ballroom, greeting diplomats and nobles one after the other with a friendly pat or a hug; none would realize until much later that their pockets were much lighter. The guard captain once again frisked the urchin he had caught stealing in the wharf district, but could not for the life of him figure out what happened to the coins he swore he saw the vagrant grab. Sleight of hand is the go to skill for the sticky fingered.
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So I fell off the planet for a bit around the holidays. Things got busy and I mentally checked out and was unable to really produce anything of worth or note. A new year is in front of us, however, and I am getting back upon the horse.
Today we’ll be discussing the skill Religion. I want to thank you for sticking with me through this series. I’ve rather enjoyed writing it and seeing the discussion it creates. We’re nearing the end of the skill list, and with that I need to think of another excuse to post weekly to my blog.
Using Skills – Religion
The ranger motions for the traveling band to stay back as he examines the half-hidden stone marker among the brambles near the woods path, recognizing it as a symbol for a infernal cult that haunts the wilds of the area. A cleric studies an ancient apocryphal text of his church, recognizing some of the iconography as still in use today. The diplomat nods casually to the grand looking priest that meets her at the entrance of the temple, but bows reverently to the old woman in plain robes that stands beside him – knowing her to be the true head of the religious order. Religion is a skill for those who want to be proficient in divine knowledge.
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Welcome to the next edition of Using Skills! Last week we looked at Medicine, and this week we’ll be looking at Nature. Enjoy!
Using Skills – Nature
The wise woman pulls a cluster of dried herbs from a flour sack and tosses them in a cauldron while making a note in her book. A struggling wood elf scours the floor of the dense forest for a certain white flower, knowing the taproot of this local plant will neutralize snake venom. The green knight scans the trees, confused as to how birch trees could be growing so far south. Nature is the knowledge of flora and fauna, and the lore of the wilderness.
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Last week we covered Investigation in our Using Skills series. This week we’re back with Medicine. Enjoy!
Using Skills – Medicine
A city watchman brings his torch closer to the body in the alley, trying to figure out how the person died. A cleric prays over an ill peasant while taking note of her symptoms to develop a diagnosis. The barbarian gingerly wraps the wounds of his unconscious companion to stop the flow of blood in an attempt to keep him from death’s door. Medicine is the science of health.
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And now for the next in our ongoing series on Using Skills. Last week we explored Arcana, and now we’re going to explore the shady side of Charisma with Deception.
Using Skills – Deception
The diplomat plants a small false rumor among the other members of the town committee that is just enough to sway them in the direction he wanted. The thief, being held up by the scruff of her coat by a guard, quickly comes up with a reason for being so interested in the locked door to the merchant’s house. The old barbarian looks at his hand of cards, then at the other players, letting his face show a small imperceptible grin -just long enough for the other players to think they’ve detected a hint of something under the stony exterior. Deception is the art of convincing others that something false is true.
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Last week we covered Athletics. After a hiccup in the order, I present to you Using Skills – Arcana! We are now back on schedule.
Using Skills – Arcana
A wizened scholar pores over an ancient text once thought of little note, but he is beginning to know better. A treasure hunter traces her finger over the sigil set into the chamber wall, remembering the right way to draw the symbol so as to not set off the ancient trap. The warlock repeats a phrase he learned early in his youth, once believing it to be a child’s rhyme but now knowing its true power. Arcana is the domain of arcane lore and secrets; the deep well of knowledge about the power that weaves itself throughout existence.
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I’ve been running Al-Qadim (well I have ran one session anyway) converting on the fly to 5th edition. I soon realized that I wanted to get a weapons, armor, and gear list set up for use with it, as a lot of the weapons and armor you see in Al-Qadim are different and there is quite a bit of variety in their goods and services.
So, I’ve spent two manic days putting this monstrous PDF together. I’ve come up with the items and prices based on scouring through the Al-Qadim books, the 2e Player’s Handbook, comparing it to the 5e Player’s Handbook, and a good bit of my own fiat. I’ve added even more items to the lists from the 2e Al-Qadim books that I felt were missing (no coffee beans listed for trade goods? come on!). I also made a table of clothing sets to give examples of how the clothing listed before that might be used by different people in the Land of Fate.
Anyway, here it is in one giant WIP PDF. Enjoy!
There are a few things in D&D Fifth Edition which I feel could be expanded upon to great effect. One of these is Downtime (which I have attempted to expand on here), and another is Factions.
In the base D&D rulebooks, factions are a bit of an abstract. In Organized Play they are a bit more structured, but even then gaining reputation within the faction is a linear process that happens automatically as you play in the Adventurer’s League rather than being an entity in the world that you can choose to interact with (or not) for mutual benefit.
This rules module attempts to expand this idea by presenting an example faction, the Knights of the Towerwatch, that as the PCs gain renown with various privileges and amenities are unlocked. However, this goes both ways, and the PCs can get negative ranks with this faction, which could cause some complications for the PCs. This faction could be easily renamed for use in your world.
Eventually I would like to come up with multiple factions that are a bit archetypal (a knighthood, a thieves’ guild, a mage university, etc.) so that players could take those and shape them to their world with minimal effort.
The Knights of the Towerwatch
(pdf coming soon)
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