Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

D&D 5E – Spirits and Souls

Soul_Magic

In Dungeons and Dragons, according to the Great Wheel cosmology, all souls in the multiverse originate from fonts on the Positive Energy Plain, sometimes called the Plane of Life. When a sentient being is born his soul enters his body with his first breath. How long that soul existed before it occupied the newborn and how the choice of host is made is not known. A PC’s soul then continues throughout his life and beyond. A PC’s soul isn’t typically destroyed when he dies and if he is brought back to life, his soul re-joins his body. It is possible for his soul to be moved into an object or another body or travel to other planes and other timestreams. In a very real sense, a player’s character’s soul is that character.

What is a “soul” in D&D? Is that different than a “spirit”?

In 1st-edition D&D; humans, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, and half-elves had souls. Elves, orcs, and half-orcs had spirits. Those with souls could be resurrected and the others could not. This was changed in later editions.

In D&D 5E, a “spirit” is a creature’s bodiless life force. As mentioned in the “Speak with Dead” spell, an animating spirit is the part of your life force that makes your body move to your soul’s wishes and has some semblance of awareness. A “soul” is a creatures spirit that also includes it’s memories, personality, and alignment. All souls have a spirit but a spirit can exist without a soul.

The Dungeon Master’s Guide (DMG) seams to imply that all living creatures have souls:
“When a creature dies, its soul departs its body, leaves the Material Plane, travels through the Astral Plane, and goes to abide on the plane where the creature’s deity resides. If the creature didn’t worship a deity, its soul departs to the plane corresponding to its alignment.” (DMG p.24)

In D&D 5E what creatures have, or don’t have, souls?

There is nothing official that I can find in any of the published books, so here are my thoughts on this subject.

As a house rule, I propose that most creatures have souls. Creatures that don’t have souls are: beasts, constructs, elementals, oozes, plants, unaligned creatures, and most undead.

The following are the undead in the Monster Manuel (MM) that specifically DO have souls.

A ghost has a soul:
“A ghost is the soul of a once-living creature, bound to haunt a specific location, creature, or object that held significance to it in its life.” (MM p.147)

A rvenant has a soul:
“A revenant forms from the soul of a mortal who met a cruel and undeserving fate.” (MM p.259)

A will-o’-wisp has a soul:
“Will-o’-wisps are the souls of evil beings that perished in anguish or misery as they wandered forsaken lands permeated with powerful magic.” (MM p.301)

How many D&D editions are there?

Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is a game where players sit around a table and roll dice. They create characters and go on adventures led by a dungeon master (DM), who controls non-player characters (NPCs), monsters and events in the world.

DnD Editions

How many D&D editions are there?

I have listed here the major editions. For any edition there may be multiple printings and different covers. There are also many variations and supplements. For most editions there were three core books; a Player’s Handbook, a Dungeon Master’s Guide and a Monster Manuel.

D&D 0.0

0.0 – Original Dungeons and Dragons (OD&D) 1974
A small box set of three booklets. The original game had only three classes (Cleric, Fighter, Magic User). Cleric spells up to 5th level, Magic user spells up to 6th level. Every attack except for certain monster abilities did 1d6 damage if it hit.

D&D 0.5

0.5 – Basic Dungeons & Dragons (BD&D) 1977
Playing a Race meant playing a class. For example a Dwarf used only the Dwarf Class. The first Basic Set was available as a 48-page stand-alone rulebook, or as part of a boxed set, which was packaged in a larger box that included a set of polyhedral dice and supplemental materials.

D&D 1.0

1.0 – Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) 1978
The most popular version of older edition D&D. Bonuses for characteristics roughly go up to +4 and are capped at 18 except for exceptional strength. Characters select a race and a class. Non-human race can multi class which involves splitting experience between multiple classes. Non-humans were generally limited to a max level (often low).

D&D 2.0

2.0 – Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition (AD&D 2 or 2nd Ed) 1989
Still basically AD&D 1st Edition but the rules have been reorganized and rewritten for clarity. Introduced THAC0 (To Hit Armor Class 0). Some content like half-orc, demons, and assassins were removed or changed due to media pressure. Character customization was expanded by using non-weapon proficiencies as a skill system and by allowing characters to take kits that confer various benefits. Combat has been redesigned.

D&D 3.0

3.0 – Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition (D&D 3 or 3E) 2000
The first edition created by Wizards of the Coast, 3rd Edition took the idea of Skill and Powers and developed a cleaner system for customizing characters by designing the classes so a level of one class can stack on top of another class. A single level chart was introduced and at each level a character could take a new class or add another level of a class they already had.
In addition feats were added to allow characters to further customize their abilities. A true skill system was introduced and integrated into the game. The underlying d20 system worked by rolling equal to or higher than a target number and adding various bonus.

D&D 3.5

3.5 – Dungeons & Dragons v.3.5 (Revised 3rd Edition or D&D 3.5) 2003
This edition featured only small changes to the core game (and was mostly-but-not-entirely compatible with books written for 3rd Edition), but had its own extensive line of supplements which magnified the role of feats, prestige classes, and multiclassing in character customization.

D&D 4.0

4.0 – Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition (D&D 4E) 2008
This edition is a completely new game with only a few game mechanics carried over from the 3rd Edition. It has a simple set of core rules and defines all character and monster abilities as exceptions which are described in standard terms. Higher level combat has been simplified, and class has been designed to have specific roles in combat. Every classes has a diverse set of combat options to use.

D&D 5.0

5.0 – Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition (D&D 5E) 2014 The current edition of D&D.
Skills, weapons, items, saving throws, and other things that characters are trained in now all use a single proficiency bonus that increases as character level increases. Multiple defense values have been removed, returning to a single defense value of armor class and using more traditional saving throws. Saving throws are reworked to be situational checks based on the six core abilities instead of generic d20 rolls. Feats are now optional features that can be taken instead of ability score increases
The “advantage/disadvantage” mechanic was introduced, streamlining conditional and situational modifiers to a simpler mechanic: rolling two d20s for a situation and taking the higher of the two for “advantage” and the lower of the two for “disadvantage” and canceling each other out when more than one apply.

D&D 5E – My House Rules

House Rules

Below are the house rules I use when I run a 5th Edition D&D game.

1) Inspiration
You can wait until the d20 is cast to decide if you’re going to use your inspiration to roll the second die to get advantage.

2) Initiative Order
On the first round only – On your turn you can change your initiative to one less than another character which has a lower initiative.
Clarification: This will change your initiative to that lower number for the rest of the encounter.

3) Passive Perception
I very seldom use it.
Clarification: If it is something you would probably notice, you notice it. If it is something you might not notice, I have you make a Perception check.

4) Changing weapons
Attacking with a weapon includes drawing the weapon.
Clarification: If you have a weapon in your hand and want to change to a different weapon you can use “interact with one object” to sheath the weapon you are holding and then draw and attack with a different weapon.

5) Secret Doors
If you are searching for a secret door and there is one, you will automatically find it.
Clarification: This also means that if there is some kind of trap there, you will activate it. You have to say where and how you are searching. Saying “I am always searching for secret doors” is not allowed. Sometimes I may require you to make an investigation check to determine how to open it.

6) Invisible Creatures
If a creature can’t be detected by using any of your senses then you can only guess at its location.
Clarification: If you can notice some clue as to its location you must succeed in a Perception check to locate it. You can make this check with advantage if you use the Search action. If it has taken the Hide action your Perception check will be against its Stealth check.

7) Attacking unseen creature
You only get advantage on attack against a creature that can’t see you if you can see the creature.

8) Magic Spells – Components
V – Verbal: It must be spoken in a clear voice that could normally be heard 20 feet away. It cannot be whispered.
S – Somatic: You cannot cast a spell that requires a somatic component if your hands are bound or tied together.
M – Material: 1) A spellcasting focus must be presented boldly. 2) It is assumed that you stocked up on material components with no listed value during your downtime. 3) For a material component with a listed value under 100gp you can assume that your character acquired it during your down time and you can simply deduct its value from your character sheet at the time you cast the spell. 4) For more valuable components you must have procured the item and have it listed on your character sheet.

9) Magic Spells – Area of Effect
A creature is considered to be in the area of effect if the center of the square it occupies is wholly inside the defined area.
Clarification: You can aim your AoE any way you want, but if it just touches the center the creature’s square it is unaffected. So if a 5 ft. wide “line” AoE runs horizontally or vertically between two 5 ft. squares, it won’t effect creatures on either side.

—LINKS TO MY OTHER HOUSE RULES—
1) Falling
2) Falling Times & Distance
3) Falling Objects
4) Detecting & Identifying Magic
5) Underwater
6) Playing on a 1″=10′ Grid
7) Learning New Languages

D&D 5E – Learning New Languages (House Rule)

Thr One Ring

For learning new languages without having to spend down time.

1) You can become proficient in a new language by having another character spend a few hours per day training you in a language that they are proficient in.
2) You can only learn one new language at a time.
3) The teacher can only teach one student each day.
4) It will take 125 days of in-game play minus your intelligence score to learn the language.
5) You must pay the teacher a minimum of 2 gp per day of training.
6) If you have had one or more days of training but are not yet proficient in the new language, the DM may allow you to attempt to read, write, speak or understand a short phrase or sentence of ten words or less in the new language. This will require an intelligence check. The DC of the check is the number of your training days remaining divided by 4. A natural 1 on the check will be an automatic fail.
7) The maximum number of new languages you can learn this way is equal to your Intelligence modifier.
8) If your intelligence score is 11 or lower, you can learn one new language this way, but you will only become proficient in speaking the language, you will not be able to read or write it.

D&D 5E – Character Wealth per Level

If a character doesn’t start at level 1, what should they start with in terms of gold and magic items?

Whenever a PC dies and the player rolls up a new character, I always have the new character start at the same level as the rest of the party. The same goes whenever a new player joins an existing game. So when they roll up their new higher level character I have them start with their first level inventory and any appropriate equipment based on their class and level. I also give them magic items similar in power to the items the other PCs have.

However, sometimes it is not that easy. That is when I use the following.

Starting Gold:

I give them gold based on their level. They start with their level 1 gold based on their class, and then add the following gold based on their starting level.

Level Gold
1 0
2 376
3 751
4 1,504
5 2,632
6 16,267
7 29,902
8 43,537
9 57,172
10 70,807
11 84,442
12 156,842
13 229,242
14 301,642
15 374,042
16 446,442
17 518,842
18 1,190,892
19 1,862,942
20

2,534,992

They spend from this to equip their character. They can spend as much of their gold on magic items as they choose up to the limit shown below.

Magic Items:

I use this for Magic Item Prices:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8XAiXpOfz9cMWt1RTBicmpmUDg/view

Note that this is for newly created characters only.
Your character gets 2 points for each character level. You can buy magic items from the provided list (I often modify the list based on the campaign) based on the chart below.

Rarity Cost
Common 2 points
Uncommon 4 points
Rare 8 points
Very Rare 16 points
Legendary 36 points

You can’t have more than one of any non-consumable magic item. For every combat item you get, you must get at least one noncombat item before selecting another combat item.

Example: If you are 8th level you will have 16 points to spend. You can get 1 very rare, or 2 rare, or 8 common, or 1 rare and 1 uncommon and 2 common magic items, or any other combination that adds up to 16. Half or more must be noncombat items.

D&D 5E – Nautical Adventures [re-post]

Ship-Book_Cover

Rules for conducting a seafaring campaign in D&D. Including rules for Ship-to-Ship Combat.

This is a re-post. I first posted this in 2015. It has been by far my most downloaded file. My records for downloads doesn’t go back farther than July 2019, but just in 2020 there were over 30,000 downloads. For any of my followers that may have missed it, here is a copy of the original post. For those who have downloaded this and used in your games I am very happy that this has been so well received. So here again is – Nautical Adventures.

You can download a free copy here: 5E_Nautical_Adventures.pdf

This is a complete re-write of the Ship to Ship Combat rules I published before (3.5 version here).

In keeping with the spirit of 5e, this  is  not  about  conducting  massive  sea battles, moving small model ships around on a hex battle map exploring tactics and the intricacies of wind and sail. Rather this is about what the PCs can do with ships. Ship-to-ship  battles  do  take  up  the  majority  of  the  pages here, but the battles are from the point of view of the player  characters  on  board  their  ship.  Care  has  been taken to assure each payer has something to contribute each round of ship-to-ship combat. Each player controls one of their ship’s officers. That officer can be his or her PC  or  it  may  be  an  NPC  and  he  has  several  actions available to him that are specific to that officer.

I copied liberally from Wizards of the Coast’s 1997 publication “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons of Ships and the Sea”. I also got a lot of good ideas from Pathfinder’s “Skull and Shackles”  (their “Wormwood Mutiny” adventure path will work with these rules for those of you who want a good Pirates campaign.)
I also found a lot of good information in Kenzer and Company’s “Salt and Sea Dogs”.

A special thanks to Shawn at http://tribality.com/ for his series on Naval Combat for D&D 5th edition. He got me to thinking seriously about how to keep all of the players involved in naval combat.

D&D 5E – Printer’s Key

How do I know if I have the first printing on the Monster Manual or a later printing?

If I go to my local game store to buy a new copy of the Monster Manual (or the Player’s Hand book or …) because my copy is worn out, I want to make sure that I get the latest printing so it will contain all of the latest updates and reversions. But when I get there how do I know which printing of the book is on the shelf?

One way that usually works on D&D books, and most others, is to look for the printer’s key, also known as the number line. You can typically find it on the second or third page just under the ISBN number.

The example shown above on the left is a first edition. The printer’s key is:
9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Numbers are removed with subsequent printings, so if “1” is seen then the book is the first printing of that edition. If it is the second printing then the “1” is removed, meaning that the lowest number seen will be “2”.

In the example images above the one on the right is the 11th printing.

D&D 5E – Jump Calculator

I found this great tool to answer the question “How far (or how high) can my character jump”.
[Can someone tell me who created this so I can give them credit?]

https://fexlabs.com/5ejump/

D&D 5E – Encounter Size Tables

Tables for Determining Encounter Size

This is for Dungeon Masters. I created it a few months ago and have found it very useful when creating encounters for my 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons games. Using guidelines found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide I worked on the math to come up with simple tables that I could reference to make the encounter neither too hard nor too easy for my Player Characters.

There are separate tables for 3, 4, 5, or 6 characters of any level (1 through 20). Just find the table for the number of PCs – their average character level – and if you want it to be an easy, medium, hard or deadly encounter. There is also an “Any Level” encounter table if you want to use that. Then read across the table to find how many monsters you will need based on the monsters challenge rating (CR).

This makes for a lot of tables. Each of these single page PDF files has a separate table for Any Level encounters, Easy encounters, Medium encounters, Hard encounters, and Deadly encounters.

PC Levels 1-5 for 3 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 1-5 for 4 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 1-5 for 5 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 1-5 for 6 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 6-10 for 3 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 6-10 for 4 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 6-10 for 5 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 6-10 for 6 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 11-15 for 3 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 11-15 for 4 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 11-15 for 5 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 11-15 for 6 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 16-20 for 3 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 16-20 for 4 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 16-20 for 5 characters: Download HERE
PC Levels 16-20 for 6 characters: Download HERE

There is also a single PDF file that contains all of the above: Download HERE

If you find these useful let me know.
Enjoy!

D&D 5E – Character Sheet with Dice Rolling

5E – Dice Rolling Character Sheets

The pandemic has made a change to the way I am running D&D games. Running a virtual game of Dungeons and Dragons made me realize how useful it would be if your Player’s Character Sheet would roll your the dice for you. So I took my Character Sheets (you can find then HERE) and figured a way to to add dice rolling. These are my results..

Download a sheet by clicking on the underlined word.

DICE ROLLING Character Sheets: For each class there is a 4 page character sheet: Artificer, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Class Feature Sheets: These are the same feature sheets that are available on my previous Character Sheets post, repeated here for your convenience. Artificer, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard
Simple DICE ROLLING Character Sheet:This is a 2 page character sheet if you don’t need the class information: download it  HERE
Multi-class DICE ROLLING Character Sheet:This has 4 general pages plus an additional 12 pages – one for each class in the Player’s Handbook: download it HERE

Magic Item Record Sheet: The character sheets may not provide enough space to track all of your character’s magic items. If your character requires more space than available on this one page simply copy the file under a different name for each page required. You can scroll the text if the magic item description is too long to fit in the box. If you intend to print the page you should abbreviate long descriptions to fit in a single box, or split the description across two or more boxes. download it HERE

Using the Dice Rollers

I tried several free PDF viewers, and the one that works best with these is Adobe Reader. I recommend you download your Character Sheet and use Adobe Reader to fill it out.

Box by box instructions for filling in the Character Sheets can be found HERE. The only difference is that on these sheets clicking on any red text will generate and display a dice roll.

On the upper right corner of each page there is spot that looks like this  #____   Previously, this is where you could put a version number if you had multiple versions of the same sheet. This has been re-purposed to display the results of any dice roll you may indicate just below that line. For example if you enter 4d12+6 and then click on the red = sign it will roll four 12 sided dice, add them together and add 6 to the total. Above the line it will display the results of that roll. Above that it will show the result of each die rolled. This same space on page 1 is also used to display the results of an ability check, a saving throw, a skill check, or an initiative check. The results of an initiative check will also be displayed in the initiative box. You can override the number in the initiative box by typing in a different number if need be.

The attack bonus box for each weapon will now roll 1d20 and add the attack bonus to the roll. It displays the result of the roll in the same box. There is also an ADV (advantage) and a DIS (disadvantage) box that you can check to roll 2d20 and pick the highest (for advantage) or lowest (for disadvantage) of the two before adding the attack bonus. If a natural 1 is rolled (for advantage two natural 1s must be rolled) it will display MISS in red letters. If a natural 20 is rolled (for disadvantage two natural 20s must rolled) it will display HIT in green letters and will check the CRIT box.

The damage box for each weapon will now roll the indicated number of dice of the indicated size and add the indicated bonus. It displays the result of the roll in the same box. It also shows the results of each individual die roll. If the CRIT (critiacl hit) box is checked the number of dice rolled will be doubled.

For spellcasting characters, clicking on the spell attack modifier (on page 4) will make a spell attack roll and display the results of that roll on the #____ line at the top of that page.