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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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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Al-Qadim Equipment for 5th Edition

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(PDF Here)

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!

Factions: The Knights of the Towerwatch

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.

 

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The Knights of the Towerwatch

(pdf coming soon)

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A Review of the 5th Edition D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide

So, as you can probably tell, I failed NaNoWriMo spectacularly, and along with it my plans for a development diary for my Ghartha project. I’m disappointed, but it is an unfortunate reality that we generally need to put our jobs before our hobbies, and holiday season is definitely the busiest time of year for mine.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as the Dungeon Master’s Guide is finally here! This tome of all three of the holy triad is the one I’ve been looking forward to the most. I am a tinkerer, enjoying twisting the rules this way and that, and always get more pleasure from running a campaign than I do from playing. With the rumors of a “tinkerer’s manual” on the winds of, well, the internet, my expectations for this book (especially after the first two) were very high.

Well, how did it do?

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A Review of the 5th Edition D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide

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A Review of the 5th Edition D&D Player’s Handbook

I’ve had the PHB since the 19th, but I didn’t want to churn out a review as soon as a I got my grubby paws on it. I kind of wanted to play around with it, let it simmer a bit. Flip through it at my leisure, what have you.

What actually happened is that I’ve managed to read it front to back three times now. Let’s just say I’m a bit obsessed with RPGs anyway, so a new edition of my favorite game is hard to resist consuming (multiple times).

Anyway, here are some of my principal impressions. I’m going to try to keep it simple, though this post will end up long. The main question I’ll be leading with is: Is this a book that compels me to play the new edition, and lends itself to table use?

My review will be separated into First Impressions, which will mainly concern the book, art, and layout, and then Digging Into It, in which I will speak about the crunch and fluff and the use of the book in play. Then of course I will wrap up with some closing thoughts.

 

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A Review of the 5th Edition D&D Player’s Handbook

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The Overly Complicated Weapons and Armor Module

Edit: This blog post will be updated multiple times to reflect changes due to feedback, so check back to see if things have changed!

Change Log: (changes based on feedback include the person that inspired the change) 

  • AP values on weapons messed with. (mikemonaco)
  • Flail ability added for nullifying shields. (mikemonaco)
  • Initiative is no longer rolled each round; rather, the modifiers change your initial initiative roll and thus can move you in the order, making it a little less fiddly. (daganev from the WotC forums)
  • Clarified some weapon attributes. (me)
  • Created a list of all of the playtest weapons to make changes more easily to all of them. Messed around with AP and Initiative modifiers. (me)
  • Changed how AC works completely. Now AC is a score made up of your Dex modifier, any Shield bonuses, and a base AC of 10. Armor provides DR only. AC can now be seen as purely defense/parrying/dodging. (mikemonaco/me/bawlie)
  • Completely removed initiative modifiers/weapon speeds. Way too fiddly in practice. Couldn’t find a way to make it work and fit seamlessly into the rules. The rest of the module should be complicated enough. (me)
  • Added Weapon Attributes Clumsy and Parrying, which effect AC negatively/positively. (me)
  • Shields changed; removed AR, they instead give an AC bonus based on your prof. Proficiency taken out of the AC equation. (bawlie)
  • Added a section for weapon and combat tactics to help spice up combat. Only one tactic added so far (pushing). Can you help me with some more? (me)

It’s certainly an exciting time to be a fan of Dungeons and Dragons. If you’re reading a blog about RPGs, then you are already probably aware of the various book announcements as well as the announcement of a free ‘Basic’ D&D PDF from Wizards of the Coast. The front page of Enworld is a good place to catch up. I could wax poetic about how good of a move this is, but I think the near universal approval is resounding enough.

Instead, today I wanted to work on a rules module for use with D&D Next, or Fifth Edition as it stands now. This is definitely the first ‘draft’, trying to catch a rough idea right now to polish off later when the game has been released.

This module focuses on weapons and armor, and seeks to, in plain terms, make them more complicated. Generally the direction of the game has been to make it  simpler, and this is a noble goal. I thought, however, that since Combat was really rather quick with this edition, it might not hurt to throw a few complications into it. The idea is to make weapons and armor have more mechanical crunch so that they feel like they have more weight in the narrative, if that makes sense. I think these could be made more three dimensional, making some weapons better in certain circumstances, as well as providing a useful reason for choosing a certain armor type over another.

Now, since this IS a rough draft you will not find balance here. I guarantee it. It’s something that needs playtested. If, in fact, you are currently running the playtest (or will be), please feel free to playtest this module as well. I would love some feedback to make the end module that much better. Of course, a lot will factor into how different weapons and armor look in the final product as opposed to the playtest documents I am using currently. I suspect there won’t be much change, however.

 

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The Overly Complicated Weapons and Armor Module

The Very Rough Playtest Draft Version

 

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