A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons
Tag Archives: D&D
April 16, 2016Posted by on
Pitchlight spent all morning going from cartwright to weaponsmith to armorer and to several others in an attempt to re-provision the dragon hunt. In every case they required gold coin on the barrelhead. He was unable to get any of them to accept a share in the dragon treasure for more than face value. The gold pieces struck specifically to be exchanged for a share in Abraxas’ treasure could not be exchanged for more than the value of the gold that they contained. Some even refused to accept them at all. A rumor was spreading that Abraxas would single out anyone that possessed such a coin and that they would be the first to die on his next attack.
He couldn’t blame the citizens of Rockport. They were frightened. He had already spent all that the church of Heironeous had provided for the hunt, and quite a bit of his own personal funds as well. As it now stood, the poorly provisioned campaign could be ready in about a week. It would take that long to build or repair the wagons and assemble the meager provisions.
He left the merchant district and walked through the crowded streets of Rockport to the temple district and to the temple dedicated to his deity. As he walked he passed children playing in the streets and he found himself thinking back on the days of his childhood. Both of his parents died when he was young, leaving him and his three older sisters to be raised in an orphanage ran by the Heironeous church. Their days there were divided into 4 equal parts; rest, study of holy texts, meditation and weapon training. This left little time for play. His teachers were impressed with his understanding of the Heironean Code and tried to persuade him to take an active role in the church, but at that time he was more interested in swords than in holy script. When he came of age, he joined the king’s guard and quickly advanced in rank. One day, when leading his squad against a marauding group of goblins, something happened that changed the course of his life. After bringing down the last goblin with his own sword, he was struck by lightning.
The holy symbol of Heironeous is a fist holding a lightning bolt. Lightning has special meaning to his worshipers. Anyone killed by lightning must deserve his fate. Anyone that is struck by lightning and survives is deemed blessed by Heironeous. Pitchlight remained unconscious for 14 days. When he awoke he found himself in the temple of Heironeous on the isle of wonder being measured for a custom suit of plate mail. From that day forward he has traveled the world as a cleric of Heironeous seeking out and destroying evil.
As he approached the temple of Heironeous he was wondering if the key to defeating Abraxas was in understanding him better. He would ask Heironeous himself for help. He passed quickly through the main entrance of the worship area and arraigned with the head of the church here to have the clerics prepare the inner sanctum for a major ritual. The High Priest that ruled this temple out ranked Pitchlight in the church hierarchy but adventuring clerics were considered “the tip of the spear” in the battle against evil. While the room was being prepared, Pitchlight bathed and dressed himself in his finest suit of plate mail.
All Heironean temples are built on the same basic ideas of presenting a façade of strength and power and providing a strong and easily defensible fortress. Each individual temple varies in design to reflect the specific taste of its priest and the perceived threats that it must defend against. Each temple size is also limited by the funds available for construction. The temple at Rockport was typical for a town of this size. One thing that all these temples have in common is a room near the center that is reserved for meditation, prayer and casting of spells. The room is sanctified and blessed. Anyone not dedicated to Heironeous is forbidden entrance. At this temple, the inner sanctum was a round room 20 feet in diameter with a flat ceiling 10 feet overhead. The room was windowless and contained no furniture other than tall iron candelabrum spaced 5 feet apart around the perimeter of the room, each with four burning candles, and a brazier in the center of the room. When Pitchlight entered he was met with the sweet smell of shagbark smoke, the embers of which were glowing in the brazier. He placed a handful of the most expensive incense onto the coals and began slowly walking around the room sprinkling holy water as he strode and began the incantation to invoke a commune spell, but at the point where the spell requires the asking of questions he fell to his knees and offered up a diamond valued at 1,000 gold pieces if Heironeous would but appear to hear his questions directly.
After an hour of praying and burning of over 500 gold pieces worth of incense, his meditation and prayers were interrupted by the sound of the creaking hinge on the room’s only door as it opened. He turned and saw a priest entering the room. Angrily, he shouted, “I left express instructions that I was not to be interrupted!”
As the man entered, Pitchlight tried to place him. He was sure that he had not seen this particular priest before. He was much taller than any he had seen here in Rockport. As the priest came closer it became clear that the short robe that he was wearing under his cloak was not of cloth as he had first thought, but was indeed made of the finest chainmail. He wore no holy symbol and carried no shield. His only weapon a great battleaxe. He wore no helm. His reddish-brown hair was short and rather unkempt. His face was clean shaven and his skin was the color of burnished copper.
The stranger stopped a few paces in front of Pitchlight. The door closed of its own accord. He spoke in a very calm voice saying, “Have you forgotten how to cast a commune spell, or have you gone completely mad?”
Pitchlight felt the blood drain from his face and his anger was replaced by awe as he realized he was in the presence of his god. He fell to his knees. “Pease forgive me, but my need is great and the commune spell is so limited. This one time, I need more than riddles or cryptic answers to my three questions.”
“Have I not always answered your questions truthfully?”
“Of course, and I am more than grateful, but if you could, just this one time, answer me more fully, so that I might understand. I seek answers regarding the dragon hunt we are about to commence.”
The tall man was indeed an avatar of Heironeous. He was silent for a few moments, studying the pleading face of his cleric. “You have been good and faithful. Rise to your feet and ask your three questions. My answers will be as full and complete as possible. However, you must understand that I do not take this lightly. You must not presume that I will come to your call at your every whim. I am not your servant. You are mine.”
Pitchlight nodded his head in acceptance and paused to think for a moment before he asked his first question, “Will we succeed in defeating Abraxas?”
“You will have the resources, but to succeed you must have the wisdom to use them.”
Pitchlight wasn’t completely satisfied with that answer, but he continued on to his second, “What is this gem he seeks and why is it so important to him?”
Heironeous smiled and replied, “I will be tolerant with you, but you must not break the rules. You must ask that as two separate questions, or rephrase the question.”
Pitchlight thought for a moment. Perhaps he could get the answer he was seeking if he asked it another way, “How was the gem stolen?”
The room became dark and Pitchlight thought for a moment that he had angered Heironeous in some way. Then the darkness lifted and he found himself standing outside in what was obviously the main square of a small village. The square was empty of people and horses, which was unusual for any village in the middle of the day. The only thing in the square was a large open chest that appeared to be about half full of bags, boxes, gilded armor, mirrors, and other items that may have represented the entire wealth of the village.
Then what he thought was a small child darted past him to the chest. Pitchlight quickly recognized that this was not a child, but rather a gnome who climbed into the chest and concealed himself under the treasure as fast as he could. Then a shadow passed over him as a gigantic red dragon landed in the square and dropped a small pouch into the chest. He started to draw his sword when he realized that the dragon could not see him there. It took only a moment to realize that this was only an image being shown to him by Heironeous. The dragon turned his massive head slowly in all directions, looking at all there was to see. He must have decided that this was all the treasure this village had to offer so he closed the lid on the chest, uttered some magical words, and it vanished, leaving only a print in the dust where it had been resting.
Darkness descended upon Pitchlight once again. This time when it lifted, he found himself in a huge underground cavern. The air was hot and damp. There was a lake of molten lava that provided the only light, bathing the rocky walls and stalactite covered ceiling in a pulsating reddish light. He was on the broad shore of the magma lake and standing near a large pile of coins. There was also many treasures of every description. As he was looking at what must have been a dragon’s horde accumulated over the centuries, the chest that he had seen earlier appeared on a patch of clear ground near the treasure. A few moments later the lid began to open, slowly at first, only an inch. The gnome then lifted it the rest of the way open and crawled cautiously out. Once the gnome was confident that he was alone, he closed the chest and began to examine the great volume of treasure. He was very cautious not to move or disturb any of the treasure in any way. After nearly an hour of examining the pile of coins, the many gilded and enameled armors, the fancy dress weapons, the piles of jewels, royal coaches and other valuable items too numerous to quickly tally, a single gem mounted in a simple silver medallion began to shine with a reddish glow. The gnome made his way over to the medallion which was hanging by a simple silver chain on a rocky outcropping on the cavern wall. Pitchlight moved closer for a better view and as they were looking at the gem it began to glow more brightly. As its brightness approached that of a burning torch he heard the unmistakable sound of leather dragon wings echoing off the cavern walls. The gnome quickly dashed into a deep crevice, wedging himself as far back out of site as he could.
The dragon landed more gently than one would expect possible from a creature so massive. He smelled the air and closely examined his treasure. Once satisfied that all was as he had left it, he opened the chest and began the process of lovingly emptying it of its contents, placing each item in its proper place according to some sorting process that only the dragon could fathom. When he was finally satisfied with the distribution of his latest take, he curled himself a tight ball perched on top of the pile of coins. With a contented breath he closed his eyes, and with a final snort of sulfurous smoke he appeared to fall asleep. A couple of minutes passed before the gnome again appeared. Keeping one eye on the dragon he creeped cautiously from his hiding place and made his way over to the shining gem. He tucked it under his shirt and began to make his way quietly along the cavern wall.
Everything went dark and the cleric found himself back at the inner sanctum standing again before an avatar of his deity. Heironeous spoke, “And what is your third question?”
Still dizzy from his view into the past, Pitchlight took a few seconds to remember that everything he had just seen was an answer to his last question. He braced himself for whatever he might be shown next and asked “What is Abraxas’ greatest weakness?”
Heironeous smiled and said, “Arrogance”. Then he turned and disappeared as he walked away.
July 18, 2015Posted by on
Sir Gleamheart and the governor had been discussing the status of the dragon hunt. The other guests were being ignored by their host and had begun half a dozen quiet conversations at their various tables around the hall. Everything fell silent when a wizard suddenly appeared in the center of the room. Sir Gleamheart drew his sword and the guards all readied their weapons. The governor calmed their fears when he stood and addressed the intruder. “Qewaxon, welcome. Your entrances are always shocking.” Turning to the others he said, “Put your weapons away. This is my friend, Qewaxon. He is King Athyert Veray’s court wizard and occasional emissary.”
Only after the paladin slowly sheathed his sword did the guards relax their positions. All eyes remained fixed on this small framed human. In the dim light of the candles, his ashen complexion and deeply wrinkled skin gave him an undead appearance. His head was almost completely devoid of hair making the light gray hair that fell to his shoulders and a thin beard that hung past his knees that more striking. He was wearing a tattered black wool robe tied at the waste with a broad leather belt with brass buckles from which hung a variety of pouches and odd metal hooks and rings along with what appeared to be a leather scroll case and small wire cage. A thin maroon scarf and faded blue gown could be seen where the robe parted down past his belt. His gown was as tattered around the bottom as his robe. He had tall soft leather boots on his feet. His forearms and hands were bare. He held a large crooked wooden staff in his right hand and a rolled-up parchment in his left.
After looking around for a moment, he stepped over to the head table. Ignoring the governor and the paladin, he addressed Gauwalt Byne, the old wizard who was sitting to the governor’s right. “I received your missive. I have been following the activities of your dragon with great interest.” Turning to the governor, he continued, “I ask your forgiveness in not passing the document immediately to the king. He is quite busy but if you or Sir Gleamheart would consent to returning to the palace with me, I could get you an audience with his highness almost immediately and you could make your plea in person.”
“Take me,” Sir Gleamheart said. Realizing his breach of etiquette in interrupting their conversation when he had not yet been addressed he stepped back and said, “I apologize but if the king is as wise and compassionate as they say, I am sure he will find a way to provide a number of fighters who would be eager to join in this holy quest.”
Qewaxon didn’t respond right away. First he looked the paladin over closely, from the top of his naturally curly hair and perfect teeth to his highly polished armor and proud posture down to the polish on his pointed sabatons. “You Sir Gleamheart are exactly as I expected you to be.” The paladin started to smile and thank him when he continued, “You are brash and compulsive. You are too eager to use your sword when your words would serve you better. It is my opinion that this dragon hunt you are contemplating is doomed to failure. I have followed your exploits from time to time and I must say that I am not impressed. However, I am only an advisor to the king and he seldom heeds my advice. If you are ready we can leave now.”
Gleamheart turned to the governor, “By your leave sir, I will go with the king’s wizard and hopefully return with enough men to defeat Abraxas.”
The governor replied, “Go then, and good luck.” Then to the wizard he said, “It was good to see you again, however briefly.”
Qewaxon handed him the rolled parchment that he had been holding. “This message is from the king. I believe it to be a tax matter.” Then without further ado he recited a few magical words and both he and the paladin disappeared.
To Gleamheart, all the world went momentarily cold and black. He became somewhat dizzy with the feeling of falling from a great height while still standing firmly on the ground. Then, suddenly, the room where he had been standing was gone and in its place was a large, brightly lit room filled with many people and bright colors. It took a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the bright sunlight that was streaming in from the huge open doors at both ends of what he soon realized was a very wide and quite long corridor. Only he and the wizard that was standing before him remained, all the rest had changed. If the people that were milling about had noticed them appear it must have been a commonplace occurrence for no one seemed startled, or even curious.
Qewaxon said for Gleamheart to wait here for a moment while he arraigned for them to be announced. He explained that the hall was full because the king was hosting a tournament that was to start in a few days. Today he was receiving each of the participating knights. With that he hurried across the hall to a pair of 20 foot tall gilded doors and slipped inside.
Sir Gleamheart stood there in awe. He had often heard tales of the golden palace but this was more wondrous than anything that he could have imagined. The walls were of a white marble through which ran strands of gold in all directions forming intricate webs of abstract design. Everywhere catching rays of sunlight from the many tall windows reflecting light in all directions giving the entire place a golden glow. Then he began to take note of the throng of people. What at first he mistook for chaos he could now see was a hectic but rather orderly crowd with many small groups, each group wearing different livery colors, most of which he recognized. There was the green and gold of the Southern Forest Duchy, the red and black of the Imstul Empire, the gold and blue of Marietland. The colors continued on down the hall – yellow and blue, white and green, pink and grey, orange and white, brown and blue. Gleamheart had spent many an evening studying the many and varied livery’s of all of the known lands as well as their various ranks and titles. But never had he seen so many different liveries in one place.
In most of the groups he could see one or two knights in their finest armor surrounded by several squires, nobles and attendants. Most groups were human or elf but there were a few dwarven groups and he saw a few half-orks and tieflings. He even thought he saw a dragonborn in a group at the far end of the hall, when suddenly a knight rushed over to him and grabbed him by the arm. “Olorry! My old friend. Is it really you? When did you arrive? Are you in the list?”
Not recognizing this stranger at first, Sir Gleamheart replied, “No, I am not in the list. I didn’t come to participate in your games.” It took him a few more seconds to recognize his old sparring buddy. “Neil Cutroy! The last time I saw you you were wearing the tan and brown of Marshwood and your beard was several inches shorter.”
“They call me Nel the Courageous now.” His friend replied. “I went adventuring for a while and ended up in the Ephoura Empire, where I swore my allegiance and took to wearing their gold and red livery.” He gave him a solid pat on the shoulder, “It is a wonderment to see you again.”
Gleamheart replied, “It is quite an unexpected pleasure to see you here as well. I am glad to see you are well.”
Neil stepped back a pace and asked, “If you are not here for the jousting tournament what business brings you the palace?”
“A very grave matter indeed, I am afraid. I have come to partition the king to provide me with as many volunteers as he can muster to fight a red dragon from the Black Mountains that is on a rampage of destruction.”
“The Black Mountains? Aren’t they over a thousand miles from here?”
“Over two thousand to be more precise and you must cross two other mountain ranges and a desert to get there from here.”
“You came all that way?”
“The king’s wizard teleported me here. I was standing in Rockport only moments ago. I am hoping the king will allow him to use his magic to deliver fighters to join my group to hunt down and destroy this dragon that is causing so much pain there.”
“I hope the king grants you your partition,” Neil said. “After your audience with him you should stay here a few days and participate in the jousting. You could represent Rockport. I have many lances and a good warhorse you can use.”
“I am afraid that I must decline your gracious invitation,” said Gleamheart. “I must return to Rockport as soon as possible. The dragon may attack again at any time.”
“Of course,” said Neil. “But if you were teleported into the palace you haven’t seen the list. Never before has a list had such a find field and grandstands. It is just outside the castle wall and the colorful pavilions have been popping up for the last couple of weeks as knights have arrived from all over the kingdom, and a few from other realms as well. The vespers tourney starts tomorrow. I have a young squire that expects to do well there. The jousting tournament will be on the following day. We are all here today to receive our formal welcome to the games from the king. After that we will be assigned our order in the formal procession to start the tourney. I am looking forward to riding in along with all of the other knights and judges. This will be my first Invocation.”
Gleamheart responded, “It sounds like it will be quite an event.”
Neil continued, “Everyone says that this will be the largest jousting tournament ever held. They have even erected a low wall to separate the horses and riders.”
“I remember when we once used a rope divider,” said Gleamheart.
“That’s right. I had almost forgotten that. That was in Glosharmos, if I remember correctly. Wasn’t that where your opponent was shamed for directing his attack at your horse?”
“Yes. That was Galter the Swift, and I won the contest despite his un-chivalrous conduct. I still have his silver buckler.”
“He became Galter the Earnest after that. You know that the looser no longer forfeits his armor to the victor? On the last day of the tournament the ceremony for awarding the prizes will be conducted. The king is awarding 200 gold coins as a grand prize to the ultimate victor.”
Then they noticed Qewaxon. Clanking his staff on the tiled floor with each hurried step he quickly approached and when Gleamheart looked in his direction he motioned for him to follow and said, “Come quickly, the king will see you now.”
As Gleamheart turned to go, Neil said, “Come back for me before you teleport back to Rockport.I will go with you. I can’t let you have all of the glory!”
“I will,” said Gleamheart. “Thank you.”
“There is no time for that,” interrupted Qewaxon. “We must go now!”
They crossed over to the gilded doors which opened for them as they approached.
July 1, 2015Posted by on
It’s no secret that pretty much every parent who plays any kind of tabletop game wants their kids to join in on the fun as well. Besides everyone using their imaginations to play, D&D helps to develop your kiddo’s cognitive skills such as reading, problem-solving, and creative thinking.
Wizards has released 2 kid friendly D&D adventures: Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod and Monster Slayers: The Champions of the Elements, both by Susan J. Morris. Parents can use this simplified rule-set as a stepping stone to introduce new players, young and old, to the world of D&D. Once you’ve finished these quick adventures you can move on to bigger campaigns and hopefully have the time of your life introducing the little ones to a game that they could be playing for years to come.
June 13, 2015Posted by on
It was nearing noon. The large pendant on its silver chain rattled against the paladin’s polished breastplate as his warhorse reared to a stop. The pendant was in the form of a silver hand holding a silver lightning bolt, the holy symbol of Heironeous, the deity to whom Sir Olorry Gleamheart had dedicated his life and sacred honor. It flashed brightly in the sun as the he dismounted at the gate to the governor’s residence.
As he removed his helmet and gantlets he addressed the guards, “I must see the Governor at once!”
The guards looked at each other. The first one said, “Of course, Sir Gleamheart, sir. But, you see, he wasn’t expecting you and, well, perhaps if I have someone announce you he will grant you an audience when he is free.” It was not surprising that he knew who this knight in shining armor was. Everyone in town knew of this man.
A young man, a squire from his clothing and demeanor, ran up from the stables to take the paladin’s horse and see to any of his other needs. Gleamheart handed him this helmet and gauntlets and turned for him to assist in removing his cape. “Tell Governor Patrick that his godson seeks his counsel in regard to this dragon business.”
Just then there arose a commotion in the street. A man in a torn and battered city guard uniform and a crazed expression on his face was running toward them. “You must die!” he exclaimed as he ran directly toward Sir Gleamheart and raised his sword to attack. With a swiftness born from years of practice, the paladin drew his sword and in that same motion swung it into his attackers weapon with a force that nearly knocked it from his hand and, ducking and spinning, he pivoted on one sabaton covered foot, turned a full circle and struck the man in his chest with the other, sending the attacker to the ground. The two guards were just now drawing their swords. Before they could approach, Sir Gleamheart stopped them with a raised hand saying, “This man is obviously under some kind of spell.” Reaching the man before he could get back to his feet, the paladin spoke some ancient and mysterious words as he placed a hand on the man’s forehead. Almost instantly, the man dropped his sword and looked around as if seeing his surroundings clearly for the first time.
Seeing the sword still in the paladin’s hand, the man dropped onto both knees and said, “Sir Gleamheart, please spare me! It wasn’t I who meant you harm, it was Abraxas! The dragon! He hexed me! I swear it!”
“Of course,” Gleamheart said as he sheathed his sword. “You are injured,” he said as he offered him his hand. “Can you stand?” With Gleamheart’s help he stood uneasily. “Let me heal you.” Then, with a magical incantation he had recited many times before, he invoked Heironeous’ divine mercy to heal the man’s wounds. The man acted as many before him when first receiving magical healing. First disbelief in the sudden and compete healing of all his wounds and restoration of his health and vigor. Then extreme happiness at his good fortune. “How do you feel?” Gleamheart asked.
“I feel great!” he answered as he turned himself around with outstretched arms, examining his arms and chest where seconds before there had been multiple scratches and bruising. “Thank you! Thank you so much!”
“Thank Heironeous,” Gleamheart replied. “I am only his servant.” Then, turning to the squire he said “Bring this man some water. He looks thirsty.”
“Yes, now that you mention it. I guess that I haven’t had anything to eat or drink for nearly two days. Ever since the dragon snatched me from the ballista tower.”
“It is important that you tell me of your ordeal. All of it, in so far as you can remember.”
“Yes, of course. And I can remember it all clearly.”
“But wait, you must tell it all in front the governor, so it won’t lose anything in its retailing.” He grabbed the man by the arm and took him quickly to the large doors of the white granite building. Ignoring the startled guards at the door he cast a spell which pushed the doors open with a slam that could be heard in the street. Without breaking stride he continued into the large foyer. He turned and started to toward the assembly hall when a guard stepped in front of him. Before the paladin could push him aside, the guard pointed to the descending staircase to his left. “He is in the dining hall,” he said with a grin. Sir Gleamheart smiled in return and turned to proceed down the wide stairs and then along a short corridor with doors to either side to arrive in front of another pair of ornately carved doors. He had ran and played in the corridors of this mansion as a child and knew every alcove and secret passageway. From beyond the doors to the dining hall he could hear music playing. It was a song he remembered from his youth. He stopped and waited for the song to end. The sweet sound of a child singing to the strings of a high strung lute.
He opened the doors to see that the lute player was a young boy astride a pure white buck which was being led by a fair hared girl. She led the buck out a near side door as all eyes turned to the intruders.
As soon as he recognized who it was, the Governor called out to him from the far end of the room, “Olorry!” Then with a wave for him to come on in he corrected himself, “Sir Gleamheart! You and your guest come join us. We were just finishing our meal, but I’ll have them return with soup and mead.”
Governor Tamas Patrick had bright turquoise eyes that could be seen clearly from across the large room. His complexion seemed somewhat paler than the paladin remembered but his wavy brown hair was pinned back as was his custom from as far back as Olorry Gleamheart could remember. He was a tall man, but was now somewhat stoop shouldered. His was wearing a suit of leather armor in gray and copper. The great hall was lit only by clusters of candle chandeliers rendering it rather dark. All of the main rooms of the mansion were built underground for fear of dragon attacks. This was a rectangular room three times as long as it was wide. The governor sat at the head table. There were tables to the left and to the right. With the central area for entertainment and for the servants to access the tables. Although the room could easily seat 50 or more guests, there were less than 20 seated here now. There were various land owners, money lenders, high ranking military men, guild masters, the harbor master, and other nobles and knights. Many of the faces were familiar to Glemheart, but none more familiar than Gauwalt Byne, the old wizard sitting to the mayor’s right.
Pushing the suddenly timid guard forward, Gleamheart said, “Governor Patrick, I came to discuss the dragon hunt, but first this man has some valuable information to share.”
The room grew quiet and the guard looked nervously around. He then stood tall and straight. “My name is Quaintus Northant, second paviser, third armored company, blue division of the city watch. On the night of the dragon attack I was stationed on the ballista tower on the corner of Rosemont Street and the Warfe Road.” Looking back at the paladin seamed to give him courage to continue. “The fog was so thick we couldn’t see even as far as the next tower over. The first notion we had that the city was under attack was the screaming. And then we saw a flash of fire in the distance. We manned the ballista but couldn’t see no target. Then there was a dark shape coming down and the dragon grabbed me up. His scaly foot, it was like a crow’s claw, only big, you know? It was near as big as me and it crushed the breath out of me. It flew away with me. I tell you, I have never been so scared. I don’t know if I was more scared of being crushed to death, or of being dropped. I had no way of knowing where we were, or how high we were flying because of the fog.”
Looking around at all the eyes watching him, he swallowed hard and continued, “Finally he flew far enough away that he was out of the fog and I could see how high in the air we were. I held on tight and closed my eyes. A couple of minutes later he landed. I could see that we were near the coast, many miles north of here. He must have cast some kind of spell on me because all of a sudden I wasn’t afraid any more. It was like he was the greatest creature in the world and I was his best friend. I mean, he isn’t really my friend. I was under a spell and I just thought he was. You have to understand that I wouldn’t do anything to help Abraxas. I swore an oath to defend Rockport from dragon attack and I take that oath seriously.”
Governor Patrick assured him, “I understand, my boy. You are not in trouble. Please continue.”
“Well. He asked me a lot of questions about the expedition that was being organized to come after him.” Turning to Sir Gleamheart he said, “I am sorry, but I told him everything that I knew. After I told him where the wagons were being kept, he instructed me to return to town and slay you. Failing that I was to give you a message. Then he flew back towards Rockport. That was the last time I saw him. I started walking. I didn’t stop until I found you. You know the rest.”
Gleamheart asked, “The message, what was it?”
“Please don’t hold this against me. These are not my words, they are his …
“Abraxas, the largest, most fearsome, most deadly, and greatest dragon since Tiamat, supreme lord of all land over which he flies, issues this command to Sir Gleamheart. You shall abandon your ill-conceived expedition. You shall obtain the gem that I seek, and you shall return it to me personally. Do this and I will stop my assault on your towns and villages. Defy me and not only will your entire expedition be utterly destroyed, but I shall start a campaign of fire and destruction such as has never before been seen.”
Gleamheart said, “Did he say what the gem was that he wants me to bring him?”
Quaintus shook his head and said, “No. I got the impression that he thought you knew what gem he was talking about.”
Gleamheart said, “I only wish that I did, and that I had it. Perhaps I could end this whole bloody mess.” Then he pointed to the nearest table and said, “Sit. Eat. Thank you.”
Quaintus went around to the table and quickly set at the nearest spot. Halflings hurried to the table to bring him food and drink. Gleamheart walked up to the head table. “Governor,” he began, “the expedition is in dire need of volunteers.”
Tamas Patrick answered, “I have already encourage all city guards that wished to volunteer. I granted them leave and told them they could keep their share of the treasure. As I recall, you seemed pleased with the response.”
“The attack has changed all of that. Yesterday many of the volunteers withdrew their pledge and returned their shares. More left this morning. It has been reported that some were seen leaving the city and taking their shares with them. Taking into account those that were killed or wounded that we were not able to restore, we are left now with less than one in five of the original number of fighters.”
“I can order more men to volunteer,” the governor replied.
“No,” snapped Gleamheart. “I will not lead men who are forced to fight!”
From the governor’s right Gauwalt Byne spoke up, “Tamas, Olorry, have either of you asked King Veray for help?”
They both turned and stared at the old wizard. This small man in the black cloak and pointed hat that he always wore had been sitting and listening calmly until now.
“King Veray?” asked the governor. “He is sitting on his throne in the Golden City of Wheathorp, a thousand leagues and two mountain ranges away. He wouldn’t be able to get any troops here even if he could be persuaded to part with them.”
The wizard tapped his bony finger on the table, then turned to the governor, “You are always overlooking the power of magic. No, I don’t have the power to move large numbers of people a thousand leagues or more, but the King has more powerful wizards than me at his command, and may have other magical means of transport we are unaware of. All I am saying is that it could do no harm to ask.”
Governor Patrick looked at Sir Glramheart, then turned back to the wizard and said, “I don’t suppose it would do any harm to ask. Can you send him a missive?”
“I took the liberty of preparing this earlier. It needs only your seal,” the wizard said as he handed him a parchment.
The governor looked it over. It eloquently but briefly, described the entire situation. It ended in a formal request for any help in the form of willing fighters that the king could provide. After reading it, he held a stick of red wax in a candle flame to drip the wax onto the document and then pressed his signet ring into the hot wax. While he was doing this, his wizard was clearing the table in front of him and setting a small silver tray there. When the governor handed the document back to him, he placed it on the tray and cast his spell. The document disappeared with a sparkling flicker. “We must now wait for his reply.”
Gleamheart and the governor continued discussing the upcoming quest. Gleamheart said that he had been informed that the wagon makers and ballista maker are requiring coins on the barrelhead and will no longer accept the golden coins for a share of the treasure in payment, and furthermore that it will take at least a week to equip and provision even the small band of volunteers he now had available. The governor gave the paladin an account of the destruction from the attack and what emergency measures are now in place. While they talked the wizard noticed a small transparent globe appear near the center of the room. It floated just above head height and was as elusive as a whiff of pale smoke. No one else saw this magical apparition which the wizard recognized as the receiving eye of a scrying device. As he watched, it winked out of existence and a heartbeat later a black robed man with a long grey beard appeared.
August 30, 2014Posted by on
This is my attempt to explain the term “bounded accuracy”.
Bounded accuracy is the term that WotC uses to represent a role playing game design concept. It is not a “rule” and you won’t find it in the Player’s Handbook, but it is the foundational design philosophy behind the core of 5 Edition D&D.
The “accuracy” part of the term refers to how hard it is to do something. For combat, this relates directly to armor class and bonuses to your attack roll.
The “bounded” part of the term refers to establishing upper limits.
What are the limits?
There is a maximum Ability Score of 20, a maximum Difficulty Class of 30, and a maximum Armor Class of 30. There is a maximum Ability bonus of +5 and a maximum Proficiency Bonus of +6 making a maximum total bonus of +11 (resulting in a maximum score of 30 on a roll of 19.)
Also, there is typically no more than +1 on magic items, with +3 being the cap and representing things of artifact power. The game makes no assumption that you have magical enhancement bonuses on your weapons and armor.
This is all about the Core Mechanic: To resolve an action roll a 20-sided die and add modifiers. If the result is greater than or equal to a target number then the action succeeds.
Regardless if this target number is a Difficulty Class (DC) or an Armor Class (AC), the concept is the same.
|DC-or-AC||Difficulty||To Break||Armor||To Hit|
|5||Very Easy||a glass bottle||an inanimate object|
|10||Easy||a wooden chair||No Armor||a badger|
|15||Medium||a simple door||Leather Armor*||a troll|
|20||Hard||a small chest||Plate Armor**||a dragon***|
|25||Very Hard||a treasure chest||a tarrasque|
|30||Nearly Impossible||a masonry wall(1 ft. thick)||a deity|
|*with shield and +2 Dex modifier **with shield ***Adult Red Dragon is AC 19|
To explain the effects of bounded accuracy on the game, it can be illustrative to compare its effect on three different characters.
Let’s start with a typical commoner. We’ll call him Fred. Fred is average in every respect. All of his ability scores are average (10) and Fred has no proficiencies or special skills. The table above was designed with Fred in mind. If any task is hard for Fred, it has a DC of 20. Fred adds no modifiers to his d20 roll when he attempts a task.
Our second character is Norman. Norman is a first level Fighter. The highest modifier Norman could add to his d20 roll would be about +5 (Ability +3, Proficiency +2).
Our third character is Conan. Conan is a 20th level Fighter. The highest modifier Conan could add to his d20 roll would be about +11 (Ability +5, Proficiency +6).
All three characters attempt to do something “hard”. They all need a 20. Fred rolls a 20 and succeeds. Norman’s roll is only 15, but with his +5 modifier he also succeeds. Conan only rolls a 9, but with his +11 modifier, he succeeds. So this “hard” thing is hard for Fred, not so hard for Norman and it is easy for Conan. Being normal PCs, Norman and Conan are better at some things than they are at others. They do not have maximum ability scores in all of their abilities, and they are not proficient at everything. At some tasks, they may not have a better chance of success than Fred does. Conversely, not all Non-Player Characters (NPCs) are as “average” as Fred. At some tasks, a NPC may have an ability score that is higher than a PC and a larger proficiency bonus. So most tasks within reach of specialist also fall within the ability of a lucky novice.
Higher level characters and tougher monsters are that way because they can do more damage, more often, in more ways than lower level characters.
If you are new to D&D, this may all seem obvious, and hardly worth more than a passing glance. However, this is a break from some earlier versions of the game. In some earlier versions, your PC’s “to hit” bonuses and Armor Class increased with each level and thus forced monster attacks/defenses to also increase with level. This resulted in lower level creatures being unable to have any possibility of hitting higher level PCs and visa-versa. This was done in the very reasonable goal of allowing higher level PCs to combat tougher monsters. D&D 5e accomplishes this goal, not by making tougher monsters harder to hit but by making them harder to defeat by giving them more hit points. So as PCs increase in level they do improve in their ability to hit higher armor classes (although at a much slower rate) but their ability to defeat tougher opponents comes mainly from their increased ability to inflict more damage when they do hit, and their increased capacity to survive stronger attacks due to their own increased number of hit points. So in this edition, characters can meaningfully interact with the same threats for most of their career, if they so choose. Lower level monsters will still be a threat at higher levels if they are encountered in larger numbers.This was described by Rodney Thompson in Legends & Lore (June 4th, 2012) on the Wizards of the Coast website. This is no longer available on their web site, so I quote from it here:
The basic premise behind the bounded accuracy system is simple: we make no assumptions on the DM’s side of the game that the player’s attack and spell accuracy, or their defenses, increase as a result of gaining levels. Instead, we represent the difference in characters of various levels primarily through their hit points, the amount of damage they deal, and the various new abilities they have gained. Characters can fight tougher monsters not because they can finally hit them, but because their damage is sufficient to take a significant chunk out of the monster’s hit points; likewise, the character can now stand up to a few hits from that monster without being killed easily, thanks to the character’s increased hit points. Furthermore, gaining levels grants the characters new capabilities, which go much farther toward making your character feel different than simple numerical increases.
Now, note that I said that we make no assumptions on the DM’s side of the game about increased accuracy and defenses. This does not mean that the players do not gain bonuses to accuracy and defenses. It does mean, however, that we do not need to make sure that characters advance on a set schedule, and we can let each class advance at its own appropriate pace. Thus, wizards don’t have to gain a +10 bonus to weapon attack rolls just for reaching a higher level in order to keep participating; if wizards never gain an accuracy bonus, they can still contribute just fine to the ongoing play experience.
This extends beyond simple attacks and damage. We also make the same assumptions about character ability modifiers and skill bonuses. Thus, our expected DCs do not scale automatically with level, and instead a DC is left to represent the fixed value of the difficulty of some task, not the difficulty of the task relative to level.
The link is back up on the Wizard’s site if you want to read Rodney Thompson’s comments in their entirety : Legends & Lore Archive | 6/4/2012
August 20, 2014Posted by on
Optional House Rules for D&D 5e
[Check out this newer post on this subject: D&D 5E – Quick Reference – Chase Rules.]
A couple of years ago I published chase rules for D&D v3.5. You can download them here.
With the release of the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons, those rules seem rather heavy. You can still use them if your campaign will have a lot of chases. However, in keeping with the slimmed down rules of 5e, I am proposing a simple house rule for chases. The description below is in terms of a PC character chasing a fleeing foe. Keep in mind that the same rules apply when the PC is the one fleeing.
What if your opponent tries to run away?
Most of the time the standard rules for combat work just fine. A chase may occur when one or more opponent turns and runs away. In game terms, he uses the Dash action to spend his entire turn moving away from combat as quickly as possible. If he starts his turn within 5 feet of you, or passes within 5 feet of you, you can use your Reaction to make an opportunity attack.
What if you want to chase him?
It all depends on how far away you are from him at the beginning of your turn. Compare this distance to your characters speed. There are three possible results.
1) You can use your Move to get within 5 feet of him.
- You can attack him and combat continues.
2) You can catch up to him by using your Dash action.[If you have enough speed to pass him you may do that, but if you come within 5 feet of him as you pass, he gets to use his Reaction to make an opportunity attack against you, so you will typically want to stop when you get within 5 feet.]
- You stop within 5 feet of him.
- If he continues to run away you can use your Reaction to attack him. [If you speed is the same or greater than his, this can repeat each round. This is not a good strategy for your opponent, unless he can reach shelter or he is leading you into an ambush.]
- Or he may choose to turn and fight on his turn.
3) You cannot get to within 5 feet of him using your Dash action.
- If your speed is greater than his, you should catch up with him in a few rounds.
- If your speed is less than his, and you have no way to increase your speed, he will get farther away each round. You may as well attempt to shoot him with ranged weapons until he is out of range.
- If your speed is the same as his, he will stay the same distance away from you forever. You move closer on your turn, he moves away on his. This is where a house rule is needed.
House Rule #1
A chase is not a race. There are multiple factors that could enable a creature to catch up to another one that has the same speed. Even a lucky slower creature should have a chance. Here is my house rule:
At the end of a turn where you have used a Dash action to advance toward an opponent that is fleeing, you may call for a Strength (Athletics) contest between the two characters. If you win the contest, you move an additional 5 feet toward your opponent. If you lose the contest, you move back 5 feet.
House Rule #2
Characters can’t continue running at top speed forever. For extended chases:
After 5 rounds of continuous running, a character must make a [DC 15] Constitution save or suffer one level of exhaustion. Each additional round of continuous running requires another save at an additional +2 to the DC.
The DM may rule that certain creatures are immune to this exhaustion effect, or that they can run for longer periods before requiring this check.
July 26, 2014Posted by on
The combat rules for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons are much simpler than previous editions. This is a quick reference guide to the new rules. Refer to the complete rules (which can be downloaded for free here) for more detailed information. This is my own interpretation of those rules. Refer to the DM notes at the end for my house rules.
Each round represents 6 seconds in the game world. Anything a person could reasonably do in 6 seconds, your character can do in 1 round.
Each round, during your turn, you can move and take one action.
• You don’t have to move, but if you choose to, you can move a distance up to your speed. You can move before or after you take an action, or you can move first, take an action, and then move again, as long as the total distance moved doesn’t exceed your speed.
• You don’t have to take an action during your turn, but if you choose to, you can attempt to do anything that could be accomplished in 6 seconds or less. The most common action taken in combat is the attack action. See below for a list of actions that can be performed in combat.
• If your action permits multiple attacks, you can move between attacks so long as you haven’t used all of your move distance based on your speed.
• Your move can include jumping onto or off of things, jumping over things, climbing walls or ropes, swinging on ropes or chandeliers, or moving in any way that your character is capable of such as swimming or flying for example.
You can interact with one object as part of either your move or your action.
You can manipulate the object in an uncomplicated way. Some examples include:
• Draw or sheath a weapon
Draw Two One-Handed Weapons [You can normally draw only 1 weapon for free on your turn. Dual Wielder lets you draw 2.]
• Transfer an item from one hand to the other
• Load a crossbow
• Retrieve or put away a stored item*
• Pick up an item
• Move an object
• Open a chest
• Open a door
* You may only retrieve an item if it was stowed for easy access. If you must dig through your backpack to find something inside, it may require use of an action to retrieve it.
Doing more than one of these things requires the use of an action.
As part of your move or your action, you can do things that take little or no time and don’t interfere with your movement.
These activities take very little time, though there may be limits to the number you can perform in a turn. Examples include:
• Drawing ammunition for use with a ranged weapon (such as arrows, bolts, sling bullets, or shuriken).
• Dropping an item to your feet or within 5 feet of your current location.
• Dropping to a prone position. (Standing up from prone, however, takes half of your movement for the turn.)
• Speaking (you can always speak, even when it isn’t your turn – within reason.)
You may be able to take an additional, bonus action.
• A special ability, spell, or other feature of the game may allow you to do something as a bonus action. You are only allowed one bonus action in a round.
• Example: If you have a short sword in one hand and dagger in the other, after using your action to attack with the sword, you can use a bonus action to attack with the dagger (refer to the rules on two-weapon fighting.)
You are allowed one reaction each round.
A reaction is an action that is triggered by an external event.
• A special ability, spell, or other feature of the game may allow you to react to a specific triggering event.
• If an opponent attempts to move past you or attacks you and then attempts to move away, you get a free swing at him. This is called an opportunity attack, and it is the most common reaction.
• Another example would be a wizard’s feather fall spell that is triggered when the wizard is pushed over a cliff, or steps into a pit trap.
• Your reaction does not have to occur during your turn, but can occur at any time during the round. If it occurs during another’s turn, his turn is suspended until your reaction is resolved.
If surprised, you lose your turn for the first round of combat. After your turn, you are no longer surprised so you can use a reaction after your turn has passed, even during the remainder of the first round.
Actions in Combat
During your turn in a combat round, you can perform any one of the following actions.
You can make one melee or ranged attack. Some features may allow you to make more than one attack with this action.
Cast a Spell
You can cast any spell that you are capable of casting that has a listed casting time of one action.
Note regarding components: Retrieving the required material (M) component from a pocket or pouch is included in the “Cast a Spell” action. If the spell also has a somatic (S) component, you can perform the required hand gestures while holding the material component in that same hand. Therefore, if you are holding two weapons, or a weapon and a shield, at the beginning of your turn, you can sheath one weapon (refer to “interact with one object” above) and then draw the material component and cast the spell all in the same round. [A material component is not consumed with the casting of the spell, unless the spell description specifically says that it is.]
Rather than performing any other action, you spend the entire round moving. This allows you to move twice as far this round. It is effectively a double move action. [You use your dash action to move your speed then use your move to go that distance again.]
If you start the round within 5 feet of an opponent that can see you, you can use this action to move away from him without provoking an opportunity attack. [The disengage action does not include a move. You use the disengage action to avoid an opportunity attack while you use your move to travel up to your speed.]
This is a total defense action. You spend the round trying to avoid being hit. Until the start of your next turn, any attack roll made against you has disadvantage if you can see the attacker, and you make Dexterity saving throws with advantage.
You can use your action to help an ally attack an opponent within 5 feet of you. You don’t make an attack yourself, but when your friend attacks, his first attack roll is made with advantage.
Or you can help him with any other task. If you are in position to do so, and your assistance could reasonably be seen to be of help, he will gain advantage on his ability check to accomplish the task.
The act of hiding requires an action to attempt. You must make a Dexterity (Stealth) check to see if you successfully hide from your opponents.
Additional information regarding the hide action here: Stealth and Hiding
Rather than taking and action during your turn, you wait for some specific event and then take your action as a reaction. You can still move up to the distance indicated by your move rate, but you can take no other action this round. You must specify two things –
1) What the triggering event will be.
This can be anything you think might happen that you can observe. If the event occurs before the start of your turn on the next round you can perform your readied action at that time. Some examples could be: If the sniper sticks his head up, If more Orcs come around the corner, If the rope brakes, If the water level rises, If the evil magic user starts to cast a spell, If the guard spots the thief, If the prisoner attempts to escape.
2) What action you will take.
This can be any of the combat actions.
Note that this action will be a reaction and you can only have one reaction per round. This means that if you take another reaction, you lose your readied action. Conversely, if you use your readied action you can have no other reactions this round.
• If the triggering event occurs, you can choose to not take your readied action.
• If you choose Dash as a readied action, you can move up to your move rate.
• If you choose Cast a Spell as a readied action, you cast the spell during your turn but hold off on releasing the energy of the spell until the triggering event occurs. You must concentrate to hold the spell’s energy. Anything that breaks your concentration before the final release of the spell’s energy results in the loss of the spell. If the triggering event doesn’t occur this round, you can continue to hold the spell with continued concentration into the following round, or you can cast it as an action on your next turn, or you can lose it.
You can use your action to attempt to find something. The DM might require you to make a Wisdom (Perception) check or an Intelligence (Investigation) check.
Use an Object
An object may require an action for you to use it, or you may need to use this action to interact with more than one object in a round.
There are many more things that a combatant could do during a round than can be accounted for in the above actions. When you want to attempt something that is not covered by any of the above actions, you can use an improvised action.
Examples of an improvised action:
“I want to pull the rug out from under that guy.”
“I want to jump on the monster and attack him with my sword while I ride on to his back.”
“I want to talk them into surrendering.”
“I want to break that flask the bad guy is holding.” (attack an object)
“I want to slide down the stairs on my shield while I fire arrows at the enemy.”
“I want to intimidate then into running away.”
“I want to grab that piece of folded parchment that is sticking out of his vest pocket.”
“I want to slide under the table and stab that guy in his ankle with my dagger.”
“I want to sheath my sword and walk up to that guy and tweak his nose.”
“I want to hit that rope with my arrow in such a way as to cut the rope and let the body that is hanging from it fall to the ground.”
“I want to disarm my opponent.” (This could be a called shot to the hand, shattering an opponent’s weapon, severing a spear shaft, entangling a sword arm, or using the flat of a blade to smack a weapon from an enemy’s hand.)
“I want to push him into the pit.” (Use the rules for “Shoving a Creature” – this could include shield bashes, tackles, bull rushes, overruns, tables hurled into enemies, doors smashed into opponents on the other side, and so on. Generally speaking, this could be any attempt to use brute strength to move an opponent. Any attempt to shove creatures off a nearby cliff, through a railing, out a chapel’s stained-glass window, and so on will allow the creature a dexterity save.)
“I want to trip that guy.” (This could be any attempt to knock an enemy off its feet. Whether it’s hooking an enemy’s leg, stabbing a kneecap, knocking an opponent off-balance, hurling an enemy away, sweeping an enemy’s legs, or some other maneuver, this improvised action would allow the warrior to knock an enemy prone.)
The following rules apply to improvised actions:
1. You must explain the improvised action to the DM. The DM may rule that what you want to do will require more than one round, or that it is simply impossible (you can’t fire an arrow into the sky and hit the moon). He may ask you to be more specific regarding the action you want to take and how the action will achieve the results you want.
2. The improvised action can also include all or part of your move. Successfully jumping on – or diving into a creature will give you advantage on the attack roll. A failed attempt results in your move stopping at the point there the attack takes place and may grant your opponent an advantage on his next attack against you.
3. To perform the improvised action the DM will normally have you make an ability check. The DM will assign an appropriate difficulty class and will explain possible consequences if the attempted action fails. For example, if you attempt to jump off of the balcony onto the monster in the center of the room and miss you may end up prone.
Most improvised actions can be resolved as simple contests.
Player: “I want to try to [describes some form of physical contest other than an attack roll].”
DM: “Okay, make a Strength (Athletics) check.”
DM compares result to opponent’s Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check, perhaps giving someone advantage or disadvantage.
DM Notes: Some of the information above deviates somewhat from the official rules. You can consider these to be my House Rules.
Retrieving a stored Item – This should only be allowed as part of your move or action if you don’t have to dig through your backpack to find it.
Speaking – Should be allowed at any time
Disengage – I will only allow this action if you are currently engaged in combat and want to withdraw without provoking an opportunity attack.
Help – It only makes logical sense to be able to help another if there is some action that you could take that might possibly be of help to him.
Improvised action – I got rather wordy here, but I think these should be encouraged.