Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

D&D 5E – Astral Adventuring Revisited

An unofficial suppliant to the 5th edition D&D book Astral Adventurer’s Guide with ship-to-ship combat rules and other enhancements. Download your free copy HERE.

Last month (August 2022) Wizards of the Coast brought Spelljammer into the fifth edition when they published Spelljammer: Adventures in Space. This, for the most part, is very good. However I was disappointed in the lack of information and rules needed for actually conducting a spelljamming campaign. Specifically I was expecting clear descriptions regarding how the spelljamming helm functions and better rules for conducting ship-to-ship combat. The “Ship-to-Ship Combat” section includes boxed text with 3 sentences on “Shipboard Weapons”. Other than that, the entire section on ship-to-ship combat consists of 4 sections; “Starting Distance” (1 paragraph and a table), “Initiative” (1 sentence), “Moving and Steering a Ship” (2 paragraphs), and “Boarding” (2 paragraphs).

This document has two purposes:
1. This is an attempt to make sense out of the Astral Adventurer’s Guide for D&D players that are new to Spelljamming. Some of the terminology and many of the descriptions have been reworded to make it easier for players new to the topic to understand. It also includes a few alternative rules you may want to use in your Spelljamming adventures.
2. To make Spelljamming combat more fun this supplement provides a complete set of spelljamming ship-to-ship combat rules along with new ship statblocks, ship outlines at 1″=20′ scale, and rules that make each of the players active participants in ship-to-ship combat.

One D&D – Character Origins

I am sure you have seen the announcement by now. If you missed it, here is a link:

WotC Announcement

This is all in preparation for the new version of D&D that is scheduled to be released in 2024. They are calling it “ONE D&D” for now. They are getting away from release or edition numbers. If you are familiar with the software AutoCAD, they did the same thing some years back. After release 14 of AutoCAD came AutoCAD 2000, then AutoCAD 2002, etc. It looks like this is what they will be doing with Dungeons and Dragons. They may also change the official name from “Dungeons and Dragons” to “D&D”. I noticed that they are now referring to the fifth edition Player’s Handbook as the 2014 Player’s Handbook.

Note regarding Editions: Not referring to different releases of D&D as editions is not a new idea for D&D. The current 2014 version of the Player’s Handbook has no mention at all of any edition. We players are the ones that have christened it 5E. Looking at the covers of earlier editions I can only find two that have any mention of an edition or version: the “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Second Edition, Players Handbook” (1989), and the “Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook, Core Rulebook 1, v.3.5” (2003). The others simply refer to it as “Dungeons & Dragons” or “Advanced D&D”.

They seem to be bending over backwards to insist that the new rules will be comparable with the current edition of D&D. There are some very good marketing reasons for this and I hope they make using existing books with the new release as painless as possible, but the new release is looking to me a lot like it should be thought of as D&D 6E. Not that that is a bad thing. I prefer the majority of the proposed new rules to the existing ones – so far.

They have started play testing the new rules, a few rules at a time. If you would like to participate in the play testing, or simply see what the new rules may look like, The first set of rules that have been released is called “Unearthed Arcana 2022 Character Origins”. It is in the form of a PDF file you can download a copy by logging into D&D Beyond. If you aren’t a member of D&D Beyond you can access it HERE.

This 21 page PDF contains new rules for Character Races, Character Backgrounds, Starting Languages, Feats, and in what they call a “Rules Glossary” where they list rules and terms that are new or changed.

Here is a quick overview:

RACES

It takes special note of the fact that each of these races have a “Creature Type” of Humanoid. Obviously, this anticipates the future inclusion of other creature types.
It looks like they will be listing Human first, which makes sense for new players. The new list of available races are Human, Ardling (a new race), Dragonborn, Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Halfling, Orc (another new race), and Tiefling. Notice that Half-Elf and Half-Orc have been removed, but your two parents can be any available huminoid race. You get the size, speed, and special traits of one parent and mix and match visual characteristics you want from your two parents.

Your character’s race no longer gives you any ability score increases.

They are no longer divided into “common” and “uncommon” races.

There are no alignment suggestions for your race.

Subraces are being replaced by Lineages.

The speed for each race is now the same, 30 feet (exception: the wood elf speed is 35 feet).

All races get the Common language. Dragonborn also get Draconic. All other races get a language provided by their background and can choose one additional language. You don’t automatically get Dwarvish, Elvish, Goblin, Halfling, or Orc just because you happen to be that race.

Here is a list of what I see as the biggest change for each race. There are other changes as well.

Human
Humans can be Small or Medium. There is no longer a variant human option. Feats are no longer an optional rule. Everyone gets a 1st-level feat based on his background. Humans also get one additional 1st-level feat.

Ardling (A new Player Race)
Ardlings can be Small or Medium. An Adling is kinda like the opposite of a Tefling. Rather than their heritage tied to the Lower Planes, an Adlings heritage is tied to the Upper Planes. Their head resembles an animal, has some innate spell casting ability, resistance to radiant damage, and can sprout spectral wings and fly a number of times equal to your Proficiency Bonus per long rest [ I will be referring to this as (PB/LR). It looks like this is replacing things that were renewing after a short rest.]

Dragonborn
They now get Darkvision. Their breath weapons have changed a little.

Dwarf
You don’t get any weapon or armor proficiencies. They are moving all of those to your background. The Stonecutting feature has been improved to give you Tremorsense out to 60 ft. for 10 minutes (PB/LR).

Elf
You get a cantrip at first level and a spell at 3rd and 5th level. You can cast each of these once per long rest for free, or you can use any spell slots you may have to cast them.

Gnome
You now have Advantage on all Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws (not just against magic). They replaced the Speak with Small Beasts trait with the Speak with Animals Spell and replaced the Tinker trait with the ability to create a Tiny clockwork device that can produce an effect from the Prestidigitation cantrip.

Halfling
No more Lightfoot or Stout. No more hiding behind other creatures – you get Naturally Stealthy but it only gives you Proficiency in the Stealth Skill.

Orc (A new Player Race)
Orcs have darkvision, can Dash as a bonus action (which gives then temporary hit points PB/LR, count as large carrying capacity and push, pull, drag or lift, and drop to 1 point instead of 0 once per long rest.

Tiefling
Tieflings can now be Small or Medium. You get the Thaumaturgy cantrip. Like the Elf, you also get a cantrip at first level and a spell at 3rd and 5th level. You can cast each of these once per long rest for free, or you can use any spell slots you have to cast them.

CHARACTER BACKGROUNDS

This says nothing regarding Alignmant, Ideals, Bonds, or Flaws. It would be okay with me if they dropped Ideals, Bonds, and Flaws but they may show up in a future Unearthed Arcana.
Although the current Player’s Handbook has rules for customizing your background, not many players do that. These new rules makes building your own background the preferred method but also provides some pre-made backgrounds that you can use, or modify using the provided rules.
The rules to create your background are simple.
Abilities: You get 3 points to add to your ability scores, add one to 3 abilities or 2 to one and 1 to another.
Skills: You get proficiency with 2 skills.
Tools: You get proficiency with 1 tool.
Language: You get one language from your background.
Feat: you get 1 first level feat.
Equipment: You buy whatever you want. You get 50 gp to buy it with. You keep any coins that you don’t spend.

LANGUAGES

After creating your characters background you can add one aditional language. Common Sign Language has been added as a standard language and Thieve’s Cant has been added as a rare language.

FEATS

The document defines several first level feats. Each feat has a level, some have prerequisites, and some can be taken more than once (repeatable).
None of the first level feats add to your ability scores.

RULES GLOSSARY

I may give my thoughts on the new and revised rules and game terms in a future post.

One last comment:

Don’t forget that everything in “Unearthed Arcana 2022 Character Origins” is for playtesting. These are proposed new rules that they are requesting we users try out and report back to them. Based on your feedback any or all of these may change before the new Player’s Handbook, Dungeon MAster’s Guide and Monster Manual are published in 2024. There will be many more of these, possibly several different versions.

Tell me (or, more importantly, tell Wizards of the Cost) what you like or don’t like about any of this and why.

D&D 5E – Antimagic Field

Thoughts on the Antimagic Field spell

(and, therefore, the Beholder’s Antimagic Eye Cone)

I recently ran a D&D 5E game where the PCs fought a beholder and a lot of questions popped up regarding what is and isn’t affected in its antimagic field. I made rulings at the table to not slow down play, but promised to look into it further to find what the official rules are and to come up with house rules for anything that might come up that haven’t been covered by any official rulings that I could find. This represents the results of my research and my current thoughts on this matter.

The description of the antimagic field spell is long and detailed. Please read it carefully. It tells you most of what you need to know. The core feature of the spell could be simply stated as “nothing magical works inside the area of effect of the spell”. The wording of the spell description goes on to explicitly define what that means. The problem is that it only “suppresses” magic in the area, and it doesn’t affect especially strong magic such as that “created by an artifact or a deity”.

Hopefully what I have come up with will help with your rulings at your gaming table.

Monsters

Very few monsters are creatures or items created by magic. As a general rule, if the monster’s description does not specifically refer to the monster as “summoned or created by magic”, it remains but can’t use magic or magical abilities.

Here are a few specific examples.

Animated Armor, Flying Sword, Rug of Smothering: These are magically created items and as such “wink out of existence” while in an antimagic field.

Beholer: Beholer’s eye rays are suppressed in the area of an antimagic field.

Dragon: The Monster Manual does state that “Dragons are also magical creatures” (MM p. 86). However, they are not “created by magic” so they do not “wink out of existence” in an antimagic field. (The same is true of Fey creatures). Dragons in an antimagic field can’t use magic or magical abilities. A dragon’s breath weapon is not considered magical; it does work in an antimagic field.

Celestial, Elemental, Fiend (Fiends include demons, devils, hell hounds, rakshasas, and yugoloths.): While in an antimagic field they can’t use magic or magical abilities.

Undead (skeletons, zombies, vampires and the like): If they were summoned or created to only last for the duration of the spell that created them, they will “wink out of existence” while in an antimagic field. Otherwise they remain but can’t use magic or magical abilities.

Constructs (like golems, modrons, and such): If their description says that they were magically created, they will “wink out of existence” while in an antimagic field. Otherwise they remain but can’t use magic or magical abilities.

Monster features

Magical Weapon Attacks: Some monsters (such as the deva) have magical weapon attacks. These attacks do not get any of the extra magical damage inside an antimagic field.

Magical features: Any feature that a monster possesses with the word “magic” or “magical” in it’s description, is suppressed in an antimagic field.

Other, possibly magical features: If a feature is not described as magical but the DM decides that, in his D&D world, that feature is magical, it is suppressed. Examples might include a fly speed without wings (such as death tyrant, for example), or a demilich’s Life Drain ability (This ability isn’t specifically described as being magical, but its description is very similar to a spell description). I would advise the DM to carefully considering the ramifications of any such rulings.

PC features

Clerics, Druids, Paladins, Rangers: Treat their divine magic spells the same as any other spells.

Clarification: Deities directly grant their worshipers the ability to cast divine spells; these spells are not directly created by the deity so are suppressed in an antimagic field like any other spell.

Divine Intervention: A Cleric’s Divine Intervention feature does function in an antimagic field.

Clarification: The Deity is directly doing the effect. If a deity personally creates an effect it overrides the antimagic field spell.

Monks: A monk’s ki is not considered magical, it works in an antimagic field. The Ki-Empowered Strikes feature says a monk’s unarmed strikes count as magical. That magic is suppressed in an antimagic field.

Creatures and objects summoned or created by magic

The antimagic field spell says: “A creature or object summoned or created by magic temporarily winks out of existence in the sphere.”

For any specific creature, you need to know what spell created it. Typically, if it was created by a spell with an Instantaneous Duration it will not be affected.

Spells

Concentration: An antimagic field does not end a concentration spell. The castor can maintain concentration while inside the antimagic field but the effect of the spell he is concentrating on is suppressed while he is in it.

You can’t cast any of the following spells while in an antimagic field, but here is what happens to these creatures or objects after they are created, once in an antimagic field.

Prismatic Wall: The spell description says: “Antimagic field has no effect on the wall.”

Polymorph: Polymorphed creatures are suppressed by an antimagic field spell.

Clarification:  If created with the polymorph spell, you maintain it by maintaining Concentration, so it is suppressed in an antimagic field. If created with the true polymorph spell, it reads in part “If you concentrate on this spell for the full duration, the spell lasts until it is dispelled.” It can be dispelled, so it will be suppressed in an antimagic field.

Animate dead, raise dead, stone shape: Creatures created with these spells are not affected by an antimagic field spell.

Clarification:  Any non-magical creatures or objects that were created by a spell with an Instantaneous Duration, such as these, are not affected.

Familiar: Your Familiar doesn’t disappear, but you can’t dismiss it or recall it while in an antimagic field. The same is true for your steed created with the find steed spell. They are a celestial, fey, or fiend that was brought to you by magic, but are not magically created creatures.

Goodberry: The magic potency of goodberries are suppressed. The same is true for the special effects granted by the food and drink created with the Heroes’ Feast spell.

Leomund’s secret chest: You can’t recall the chest while in an antimagic field.

Melf’s acid arrow: The arrow created with this spell is not magical, so you could cast the spell while outside the antimagic field and shoot it a creature that is inside.

Meteor swarm: The blazing orbs of fire created with this spell are magical, so they would disappear when they entered the antimagic field. The same is true for the globe of cold energy created by the Otiluke’s freezing sphere spell and the whip created by the thorn whip cantrip.

Planar ally: The celestial, elemental, or fiend that was summoned with this spell does not disappear.

Plant growth: Plants that have been affected by this spell are not affected by an antimagic field.

Other features

Blessings (DMG p. 227, 228): Blessings aren’t suppressed by an antimagic field spell.

Clarification: A blessing that a character receives from deity is a “magical effect created by a deity” so it can’t be suppressed by an antimagic field spell.

Charms (DMG p. 228): A charm can’t be used in the area of an antimagic field.

Telepathic communication: “A creature within the area of an antimagic field … can’t send or receive telepathic messages”. (MM p. 9)

This is far from an exhaustive list but perhaps, if you can follow my reasoning, this will help with other questions that may pop up. Please leave your suggestions, questions, and comments below (positive or negative).

D&D 5E – Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel

Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel

Available now on AMAZON.

What it is: D&D Adventure Anthology
Adventures Included: 13 Adventures
Theme: Adventures inspired by world folklore
Starting Location: The Radiant Citadel—a magical city in the Ethereal Plane
Contents: 13 adventures for characters levels 1–14, 11 monsters, and introduction of the Radiant Citadel
Best for: Dungeon Masters

I have just ordered my copy. Let me know what you think about this.

D&D 5E – Class Ability Sheet

Blank Class Ability Sheet

You can use this for a homebrew subclass or for non-PHB subclass.

Download your free copy of the form-fillable PDF HERE.

Enjoy!

D&D 5E – Isle of Dread

Running Goodman Games “Original Adventures Reincarnated #2: The Isle of Dread”.
Available HERE

One of my all time favorite published adventures was “The Isle of Dread” which was originally published in 1981 for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D). I ran it for my players back then, and I found a fan conversion of it that I ran a couple of times in D&D 3.5.
In 2019 Goodman Games published “Original Adventures Reincarnated #2: The Isle of Dread”, a 328-page hardback which contains reprints of the original 1981 “blue cover” edition and the 1983 “orange cover” printing, as well as an interview with “Zeb” Cook (one of the original authors), and a 5th edition conversion of the adventure.
I am just finishing up with running this adventure for my current group. I thought I would provide you with some of of my notes and comments. Perhaps it could help if you plan on running this for your group.
First of all, this is big. You could easily take a group from third level through seventh level. They could become level 8 when they finish if they explored the entire island. They will also end up with a lot of treasure, which was common in AD&D.
Second, there is a temple that contains the primary “dungeon” on the island. The original adventure contains several corridors that were left unfinished, for the DM to design additional adventures if they chose to. The folks at Goodman Games have flushed out these unfinished areas. I highly recommend that you use these. I always thought that the final room in the dungeon was a little anti-climatic. This has been fixed. The only problem is that they kept the original conversion together and put the parts that they added in additional chapters at the end. When playing, this requires a lot of flipping back and forth through the book. I found the easiest thing to do was to use the maps (which are all keyed correctly) and refer to a Map Key listing all of the numbered areas on the map with a page number for where that area can be found in the book. There is no such key in the book so I created my own. I put that key along with a few other tips you might find useful into a PDF you can download HERE.

I hope this helps. Let me know your opinion of this adventure.

Something I forgot to include in my PDF:
It has always bothered me that in the original maps (Temple Level 1: map T-1 and Temple Level 2: map T-2) there is no way to go from level 1 to level 2 or back short of going through one of two pit traps. Even with the expanded maps provided by Goodman Games it will require a long and convoluted path which takes you first down through a vast underground cavern and then back up to Level 2.
To correct this I recommend adding a secret door on the west wall of the corridor just west of pit trap 7 on Temple Level 1 that opens to a spiral staircase that does down to a secret door that opens on the west wall of area 1 on Temple level 2.

 

D&D 5E – Monsters of the Multiverse

Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse
is now available. Click HERE

Wizards of the Coast web site calls it:
“A bestiary of wondrous friends and foes for the world’s greatest roleplaying game.
Sparkling with the musings of the wizard Mordenkainen, this tome features a host of creatures for use in the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. Hailing from every corner of the multiverse, these creatures represent some of the most benevolent and malevolent forces that D&D heroes might face.
The book also gathers together fantastical peoples from many different worlds. Each of these peoples represents a race option when you create your D&D character, expanding on the choices in the Player’s Handbook.
Compiling and updating monsters that originally appeared in Volo’s Guide to Monsters and Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, this book presents friends and foes for any D&D campaign, many of them accompanied by the comments of Mordenkainen. The wizard has faced many of these monsters and peoples on numerous wondrous adventures. Now it’s time for you to venture forth and face these creatures yourself!”

I have been looking forward to this one.

D&D 5E – New releases from WotC

Wizards of the Coast has just announced several new products.

You can follow the links to their pages on Amazon.  

Spelljammer: Adventures in Space Release Date: August 16, 2022

Dungeons & Dragons Accessories Set 1 Release Date: (Summer TBA)

Dungeons & Dragons Accessories Set 2 Release Date: (Summer TBA)

Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel  Release Date: June 21, 2022.

Mordenkainen Presents: Monsters of the Multiverse Release Date: May 17, 2022

D&D 5E – House Rules for Lava

Lava Should NOT be Realistic.

My first inclination was to make the rules regarding lava as realistic as possible but eventually gave up. I have decided to not even try to make lava in D&D realistic. Here is why.

As I see it, you have two different options when coming up with house rules for lava in your D&D games. You can try to make interactions as realistic as possible or you can give it more of a fantasy feel. As an example, here are two different ways I might come up with house rules for falling into lava.

Falling into Lava (2 options)

Option 1 – Reality

  1. In the first second falling towards the lava, the air temperature rises to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point any exposed skin will immediately blister. It feels as though every inch of your skin is touching a hot stove.
  2. You fall for another second toward the lava, and now the air temperature has doubled to 410 degrees. At this point your hair and any clothes you were wearing ignite into flames.
  3. A second or two later you approach the surface of the pool of lava which is between 1200 – 2500 degrees Fahrenheit. You lose consciousness from the immense pain as your flesh is charring, your blood and fluids are boiling.
  4. You begin to asphyxiate as your lings are charring due to the hot gases above the surface.
  5. The superheated air is burning your lungs filling them with fluid much like a blister from a burn fills with fluid.
  6. You are have a cardiac arrest before you ever touch the lava. Your brain isn’t registering much if anything at all at this point.
  7. As you get closer to the lava the water in your body rapidly turns into steam, causing your cells to burst and rapidly swell your body. The pressure from the created steam passes the amount of pressure that your skin and muscles can tolerate, and they begin to tear apart – either in an explosion, or by creating large openings for said steam to escape.
  8. As your skull gets closer to the lava, the water inside your brain behaves similarly, causing your head to explode as the pressure from your brain boiling alive goes above the threshold of what amount of pressure pushing outward your skull can contain.
  9. When hitting this super dense substance at a high speed you may break your neck or crack your skull open.
  10. Then, resting on a bed of molten rock four times hotter than the broiler in an oven, you quickly burst into flames.
  11. In the blink of an eye, it is just your bones and ashes on top of the lava.
  12. Your bones are all burned to ash a few seconds later.

D&D reality house rule: If you fall into lava you die. No saves.

Option 2 – Fantasy

  1. You can sink into the lava like Gollum does in the movie “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.”
  2. Lava should be scary and potentially lethal but possibly survivable, like falling form impossible heights. Some examples where D&D rules aren’t very realistic:
    1. Fireball damage: The fireball spell does 8d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Objects that are worn or carried are not affected.
    2. Falling damage: A creature takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet it falls, to a maximum of 20d6.
    3. Power Word Kill: This spell has no effect on creatures with more than 100 hit points.
  3. Also, lava would not make a good backdrop for an encounter if it was strictly realistic.

D&D fantasy house rule: Any creature that falls into lava or starts its turn there takes 55 (10d10) fire damage.

Here are the rest of my house rules regarding lava (these apply to magma as well). Whether it is because lava is different or for some other reason it is just more “fun” if works like this.

How lava behaves (in my fictional D&D world)

  1. You can think of lava as being similar to thick oatmeal that is extremely hot.
  2. Crust: It doesn’t normally form a “crust”.
    1. As long as it is in motion the surface stays liquid, hot, red, and glowing but there may be exceptions.
    2. When it stops moving and pools up it will form a crust after cooling for 24 hours. (It cools twice as fast if underwater.)
    3. The crust is 1 foot thick and does 1d6 fire damage per round to any creature that walks on it.
    4. After 10 days the crust will be 2 feet thick and no longer does fire damage when you walk on it.
    5. The crust continues to thicken one additional foot every 10 days until the lava all becomes solid stone.
  3. Lava rate of flow: It flows slowly enough that you can normally avoid it. Lava flows at 5 ft. per round (50 ft. per minute, 1/2 mph). This is the same at any angle or over any terrain, even straight down without any support.
  4. Swimming in Lava: Swimming speed in lava is 1/4 your walking speed, or 1/2 your swim speed.
  5. Walking on Lava: Even if you are immune to fire, you can’t walk on the surface without magic, such as the “Walk on Water” spell.
  6. Wading through Lava: If the depth of the lava is not above your shoulders you can wade through it. When wading through it, if its depth is no higher than your knees it is treated as difficult terrain, otherwise your speed is reduced to 1/4 of your walking speed..
  7. Immunity to Lava: An immunity or resistance to fire serves as an immunity or resistance to lava. However, a creature immune to fire might still drown if completely immersed in lava.
  8. Gasses: Lava doesn’t normally also have toxic or dangerous gasses emanating from it.
  9. How it spreads: When it reaches a relatively flat surface it will spread. As an example, in one round a 5 foot cube of lava will spread to fill 5 random adjacent 5 ft. spaces to a depth of 1 foot. Lava that is only 1 foot deep no longer spreads unless more lava is added.
  10. Damage:
    1. Being Close: When a creature enters to within 10 feet of the lava, or starts its turn there, it takes 1d6 fire damage due to the heat radiating off the lava. It takes this same damage if it is using the “Water Walk” spell to walk on the surface of the lava.
    2. Wading: A creature takes 5d10 fire damage each round when wading through a lava stream
    3. Falling In: Any creature that falls into the lava or starts its turn there takes 55 (10d10) fire damage.
    4. Objects: Any object that isn’t being worn or carried takes fire damage as a creature does. An object that is reduced to 0 hit points from taking fire damage from lava is completely destroyed.
    5. Dying: A creature that is reduced to 0 hit points from taking fire damage from lava is disintegrated and everything it is wearing or carrying is completely destroyed (no saving throw, no death saves).

Note: the damage is less than indicated in the DMG but I have added the no death saves and destroying all objects rules.

D&D 5E – Above and Below the Waves

Swimming & Combat Above, In, and Under Water

I have previously posted my D&D 5E House Rules rules on for drowning, casting spells underwater, and entire supplements on running nautical adventures. I have recently given more thought to these matters. I have never adequately presented rules to handle issues such as standing above the water and attacking a creature below the water. In this post I address this and other issues as well as reimagining some of my earlier rules. Enjoy!

A few words about “Swim Speed”
• Having a swim speed does more than effect your speed when you are swimming. It implies a familiarity with the underwater environment that effects other things you do underwater such as speaking and using weapons. These abilities are reflected in the sections below.

How fast do you swim?
• Unless you have a swim speed, your movement speed is halved.

Swimming in Armor
Light Armor: Requires a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check each round. Failure means you have a speed of 0 for that round.
Medium Armor: Requires a DC 15 Strength (Athletics) check each round. Failure means you have a speed of 0 for that round and you sink 10 feet.
Heavy Armor: Requires a DC 20 Strength (Athletics) check each round. Failure means you have a speed of 0 for that round and you sink 20 feet.

Swimming to Exhaustion
• You must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw each hour that you are swimming or you gain one level of exhaustion. The check is made every half hour if wearing medium armor or every 15 minutes if wearing heavy armor.

Holding Your Breath
• You can hold your breath for a number of minutes equal to 1 + your Constitution modifier. If you have a Constitution score of less than 10 you can hold your breath for 30 seconds. At that point, you fall unconscious.
• When you don’t have time to prepare to enter the water, like if you were surprised, the time that you can hold your breath is halved, to a minimum of 30 seconds.
Once unconscious, you can survive for a number of rounds equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 round.) At that point, you drop to zero hit points, begin to drown and must start making death saving throws.
When drowning, a you cannot regain hit points or be stabilized until you are once again able to breathe.
When in combat, if you take any action other than the dodge action, at the end of combat you lose 1 minute from the time that you can hold your breath. For a long combat, for every 10 rounds you lose 2 additional minutes.
When you are hit, you must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw. On a failure you lose an additional 30 seconds from the time you can continue to hold your breath. If it was a critical hit, you must instead make a DC 20 Constitution saving throw. On a failure you loose your breath and fall unconscious.

Melee Weapons
• When your target is underwater, if you don’t have a swim speed, your weapon attacks are made at disadvantage unless you attack with a dagger, javelin, shortsword, spear, or trident. And your unarmed strikes are made at disadvantage.

Ranged Weapons
• If your target is underwater, all ranged weapon attacks other than crossbows, nets, javelins, spears, tridents, and darts are made with disadvantage and even for these, attacks made beyond the weapon’s normal range automatically miss.

Shooting and Casting Spells Into Water
• From the point of view of a creature out of the water, creatures that are underwater are considered to have 3/4 cover (+5 to the creature’s AC).

Speaking or Casting Spells While Underwater
Speaking underwater expends some of your air. Each round that you speak or attempt to cast a spell with a verbal component removes 30 seconds from the time you can hold your breath. If you are talking, this can be no more than about 10 words.
You are harder to understand when you talk while underwater. If you don’t have a swim speed, there is a 50% chance that you won’t be understood when speaking, and a 50% chance that your spell will fail when uttering the verbal component.
Sound travels further underwater. The verbal component of a spell will be heard at least 40 feet away. The same for normal speech. Anyone further than 40 feet away will have to succeed in a perception check with a DC = the number of feet beyond 40 feet to understand what is said.
You can’t whisper or yell underwater.
Creatures that aren’t in the water with you can’t hear you well. If you don’t have a swim speed and you are underwater, anyone that is not in the water will not be able to understand anything that you are saying.
If you can breathe underwater you can talk and cast spells without restriction.

Fire Spells
• All creatures have resistance to fire damage when submerged underwater.
• The range and AoE of fire spells are both halved. In the case of AoE spells, creatures have advantage on their saving throw.

Lightning Spells
• Creatures have disadvantage when attempting to make a save against an AoE lightning spell. The range and AoE of lightning spells are doubled underwater.

Spells and Magic Items:

Water Walk [PHB p. 287]
3rd-level transmutation (ritual)
Casting Time: 1 Action Ritual
Range: 30 ft
Components: V, S, M (a piece of cork)
Duration: 1 Hour
This spell grants the ability to move across any liquid surface – such as water, acid, mud, snow, quicksand, or lava – as if it were harmless solid ground (creatures crossing molten lava can still take damage from the heat). Up to ten willing creatures you can see within range gain this ability for the duration.
If you target a creature submerged in a liquid, the spell carries the target to the surface of the liquid at a rate of 60 feet per round.

Ring of Water Walking [DMG p. 193]
Ring, uncommon
While wearing this ring, you can stand on and move across any liquid surface as if it were solid ground.

House Rules for the Water Walk spell.
The second part applies only when you target a creature submerged in a liquid, i.e. at the time of casting.

House Rules for Ring of Water Walking
• This does not mention the “Water Walk” spell. The spell says “as if it were harmless solid ground”. Note that the word “harmless” has been omitted from the ring’s description. So walking across acid or any other harmful liquid would inflict damage. It also won’t carry you to the surface if you put it on while underwater.

House Rules for both the Water Walk spell and the Ring of Water Walking
• You can chose to dive under the water whenever you choose. In combat, this will be considered part of your move action.
• If you are underwater and swim to the surface, it will take an action to climb back onto the surface of the water.
• The effect of the spell or the ring will allow you to stand, walk, run, jump or engage in combat. It will also support the weight of your body and everything you are carrying even if you aren’t on your feet. So you can sit, lay down, or stand on your hands or head if that is what you want to do. Any object you are carrying can enter the water as it normally would if your intention is not to support your weight with it. As an example, you could use a walking stick or crutch and a monk could do a kick jump with his staff.
• Your movement is not affected by the current. But, the surface of the water can change (such as with the tide) so the surface you are walking can raise or lower with the surface of the water. This means that waves will cause the surface to rise and fall. Breaking waves could present a problem.
• While you are on the surface you can attack any underwater creature that is within range with your sword or ranged weapon.
• While you are on the surface you can dip up some water in a bowl or even with your hands. You can also reach under the surface to do other things with your hands such as picking up items that you can reach, or open a chest.
Don’t forget and set your backpack down beside you, it will sink!