Using Skills – Arcana

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

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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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Using Skills – Athletics

Welcome to the third part in the Role Play Craft Using Skills series. Last time in this series we covered Animal Handling, and today we’re covering Athletics! I appreciate the feedback on this series so far, and I’m glad a lot of you are finding it useful or enjoyable.

You might notice that we’ve skipped Arcana. This wasn’t intentional – I’m just bad at planning. We’ll cover Arcana next week.


Using Skills – Athletics

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The half-orc carefully chooses another hand-hold on the sheer cliff face, lifting himself little by little toward the ridge above. A kensei leaps from a tree branch far across the skirmish field to land in front of the goblin chief. The sailor, thrown overboard, tries to calmly keep her head afloat amid the storm-chopped water. Athletics is the domain of heroic physical feats against incredible odds.

The Player’s Handbook describes it thus: “Your Strength (Athletics) check covers
difficult situations you encounter while climbing, jumping, or swimming.” (PHB pg.175)

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Using Skills – Animal Handling

Welcome to part 2 of my weekly series on using the skills of 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. Last week we covered Acrobatics, and this week we’ll be going over Animal Handling

As mentioned before, the point of this series is to clearly define what each skill is as well as provide examples and options for using it in your game. Some skills, such as Animal Handling, seem (to me) to not be used as much as they should. Hopefully this series of posts will inspire you to try something new in your games, or provide your PCs with the opportunity to do so themselves.


Using Skills – Animal Handling

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A woodsman coaxes a bear cub, badly burned by a bushfire, out from under a dead log. A hunter watches warily as a dire wolf stalks nearer, trying to figure out if the thing is curious – or hungry. A charging knight guides his stallion to jump over a thorny wall of brambles with only the slightest touch. Animal Handling is the domain of those with a connection to the beasts of the world, and the desire to control them in some way.

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Using Skills – Acrobatics

Greetings and welcome to a bit of a departure of the usual Role Play Craft fare. I tend to stick to optional rules mechanics or campaign and story content. However, my content production is around one or fewer posts a month these days – generally because what I do release is pretty comprehensive or wordy.

Recently I’ve begun to try to organize myself using the Bullet Journal technique, and in doing so have challenged myself to practice certain daily, weekly, and monthly habits. One of those that pertains to this blog is to get one post published a week. What this means is I need to generate smaller bite sized bits of content to space out the time between the larger rules modules and story content.

Thus this limited series of blog articles was born: Using Skills. What I hope to accomplish with this series of articles is to give both Players and Dungeon Masters a good idea of what a Skill is, it’s uses, as well as unique ways in which to use it. This latter effort is a bit of a continuation of the last post dealing with Skill Specialties. Hopefully this will make this series useful for beginner, intermediate, and veteran role players.

I’ll be going in alphabetical order, and you can expect a new blog post about Skills each week on Tuesday until we reach “Survival” -whereupon I’ll need to find a new weekly subject. Interspersed with these, hopefully around once a month, will be the larger posts of rules mechanics and story inspiration that I tend to release as PDFs.

That’s the plan, anyway! There’s no telling what might happen between a penchant for procrastination and probable undiagnosed ADD. With that being said, let us begin with the go to skill of gymnasts and foppy duelists…


Using Skills – Acrobatics

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The agile thief leaping from a rooftop into a small window below in the alleyway. An elven ranger falls from a slippery cliff, but rolls expertly to avoid hurting herself. A cocky duelist somersaults over two brutish bandits to come up behind them. Acrobatics is the domain of those wishing to perform stunts of agility and balance.

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A Selection of Subraces

I have for you today three subraces for Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons. They’re based on my want of something a little less Faerunian for players when choosing these races. The Dark Elf especially is my attempt to come up with an elven subrace more connected with the unseelie side of the fairy/elf mythos than the now ubiquitous drow.

The Brownie Halfling is a classic take on the halfling based on fairy myth. I enjoy the image of a furry halfling, similar in my mind to the Orlan from Pillars of Eternity. Brownie tales were some of my favorite ones from my childhood.

The Dark Elf is a bit of a gothy-take on bad elves. I like the idea of not-good elves that have a code of honor and are very orderly. Living in stone fortresses among the cold highlands, wearing heavy cloaks and thick sable boots and looking around haughtily.

The Deep Dwarf is just an update of a subrace that often gets overlooked in favor of the Duergar. Not all deep delving dwarves are evil illithid-slaves that can inflate like Mario.

Update: And now a River Gnome for your perusal!

Anyway, enough gabbing. Here you go! (Expect a PDF version later today for those that like that sort of thing.)

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A Selection of Subraces

(PDF HERE)

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Ranger Archetypes: Manhunter and One of the Ancient Order

In 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons, the subclass structure of classes is where you’ll find a lot of the variety that helps make a class your own. As it stands, between released products, there are around 2 to 4 subclasses per class, not including the 8 or so domains and traditions given to Clerics and Wizards. It is clear that these subclasses will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to defining these classes in the context of campaign worlds, as well as fulfilling certain character builds from past editions.

The Warlock patron and pact item of my last post inspired me to look at the subclasses we have so far and try to come up with some solid ones for classes that are lacking. The Ranger is one class that is sorely lacking in a good variety of archetypes, so I decided to ruminate and try to come up with a couple that I found interesting. Hopefully you will too!

The following subclasses are works in progress, thoroughly not playtested and more than likely overpowered. The reason for this is that I prefer to scale back then forward. I will be updating this post as I have been the Shamanic Warlock one as I get feedback and am able to test them. (A special shout out to those on Reddit who helped me with your generous feedback!)

The Manhunter is a ranger archetype that focuses around grappling and incapacitating creatures. The One of the Ancient Order is a more mystical style ranger, getting a couple of rituals and a druid cantrip that they can use once per rest. Hopefully I can work these into good subclasses for a class that is sadly lacking those at the moment.

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Simple Settlements

(A PDF of this in-the-works module is provided here.)

The idea behind this module is to give 5th Edition Dungeon Masters an easy way to flavor the settlements of their world, as well as provide some light mechanics that they can use to interact with the PCs in interesting ways.

Adding new ways for PCs to interact with the various settlements in your world can really enrich gameplay. These light mechanics will give you and your players that interaction and provide you with a simple system to resolve interactions between settlements. These rules will also be helpful for your PCs if they happen to gain control of a village, town or city.

The following rules are based on the ability score roll system of Dungeons and Dragons and provide settlements with their own Ability Scores, just like PCs and NPCs. It also provides them with what are called Attributes, which function like a simplified version of the skills and special rules of character classes and monsters. Rolling up a settlement using these two things will give your settlement mechanical weight, allowing you to express the different aspects of your settlement using the game rules.

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