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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Paladin Option: Oath of the Quest

The questing grail knights of Arthur, the paladin Roland in the Matter of France, Sir Gawain and his trial against the Green Knight – all of these are knights who travel through strange lands on adventures in search of something. A divine relic, a crusade to protect their homeland, or the meaning of bravery.

This Oath of the Quest option represents a more “chaotic good” sort of knight, used to the freedom of the road. They seek something, and along the way they help who they might. Not tied down by a lord or a strict religious order, they are free to go where they may, spreading their influence and forging their own legends to be told by the smallfolk for generations to come.

This is a play-test version of this paladin option. It has not been tested extensively and feedback is both sought and appreciated.

 

update: Based on feedback from Reddit and Twitter, the Oath of the Quest has been tweaked! I adjusted power levels across the board. I got rid of Mark the Craven and instead have Pilgrim’s Rebuke. Enjoy!


Oath of the Quest

(pdf here)

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The Oath of the Quest represents the Paladin’s pursuit of a sacred task, binding them to a life of travel and adventure. Seeking a holy relic, attempting to pilgrimage to a sacred land, seeking the favor of a powerful fey lord or lady, or crusading into the unknown to defeat a particular foe are all impetus for a Paladin to take up this oath. As constant travelers, they tend to gain a love for the freedom of the road and rapport with commoners. Sometimes called Knight-Errants, Free Knights, or Questing Knights, those of this oath typify the ideal of the traveling roads-worn knight unbound from their home to seek that which will bring salvation, honor, or glory.

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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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Holiday Game Cards for your Players

Have you thought about giving your players a small gift to celebrate the yule holiday? This post will give you an idea that I utilized that I think you might like. What you’ll need is a printer, some print-capable card stock, and Avery (or similar) business card paper for your printer. Also some sort of PDF reader!

The central part of this gift idea are a small set of cards you can print out and give to your players. These cards can be turned in to you, the DM, in exchange for a small effect. There are also trinket cards that are small magical items with no hard mechanics but which might be utilized in creative ways. (The PDFs of these cards are near the bottom of this post.)

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An example card.

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As Above, So Below: The Cultist Background

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You are led down a spiralling stone staircase, far beneath the unassuming house near the outside of the village. Your eyes are covered, and you have to grasp the shoulder of the masked Gatekeeper as he leads you forward towards your fate. You are cold and tired, but in your heart anxiety wrestles with excitement.

There is the sound of a door opening and a rush of warm air, and you step forward. It shuts behind you with a soft click. Around you is the thick perfume of incense, and you feel hot flame on your face as the blindfold is taken from your eyes. Finally you behold the inner sanctum, the secret circle of power for higher initiates.

Finally you are being given the secret that binds your soul to the order.

Forever.

Hidden from the eyes of official authority, below the lazy vigil of noble and king and the blind eyes of the temples, lay the secret path to true power. One need only seek it out, to walk the hidden path of illumination. Continue reading “As Above, So Below: The Cultist Background”

A Review of the 5th Edition D&D Monster Manual

My review of the Player’s Handbook, here, was fairly positive. Okay, perhaps overwhelmingly so. Beyond a few fairly glaring indexing issues in the magic section, I found the book to be delightful and highly useable. Having now received the second in the holy trinity of rulebooks, can the same be said for the Monster Manual?

The book is, of course, quite different than the Player’s Handbook, and this review will reflect that. As more of a reference tool, or as a collection of pieces for the DM to use, there’s simply less to review. But, I am sure I can find quite a bit to say.

 

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A Review of the 5th Edition D&D Monster Manual

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