Wednesday, 22 March 2017

5e: Two New Conditions for 5th Edition

I think 5e's designers did a good job with the conditions that can be applied to characters. But there's still a little design space left for new types of conditions. Here are two ideas:


Stunned is a very nasty condition, which is fine, but I feel that something that denies characters their turns should be used sparingly. The only other mental conditions are charmed and frightened. I wanted the flexibility to give my player's characters weakness via a mental condition without completely crippling their ability to act, and there wasn't really something in the rules for that.

My idea for a dazed condition required that it sit somewhere between being healthy and being stunned. It needed to allow characters to take actions, but to represent an addled state where they aren't able to perform at their best. What does that sound like? Disadvantage.

I found my model for dazed in the poisoned condition.  
Poisoned: A poisoned creature has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.
Actually, that sounds perfect, doesn't it? 

Dazed, then, is functionally the same as being poisoned. But it's something that psychic creatures might cause, rather than poisonous creatures.
Dazed: A dazed creature has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.
It's fairly easy to add dazed to your game. As a rule of thumb, treat any creature or character that is immune to psychic damage as also being immune the dazed condition. Whenever you use a monster that can deal psychic damage or cause psionic effects, you might consider customising them to give them an attack or special ability that can cause the dazed condition. Consider the following examples. 
Addling Aura (recharge 6). The monster releases a shockwave of mental energy  that cascades through the minds of surrounding creatures. Each creature within 30 feet must make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed saving throw, they are dazed. They may repeat the saving throw against this effect at the end of each subsequent turn. Once a creature successfully saves or the effect ends for it, it is immune to Addling Aura for the next 24 hours. 
Psychic Blast. Ranged Spell Attack: +6 to hit, range 120 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8 + 4) psychic damage, and the target must make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed saving throw, they are dazed. They may repeat the saving throw against this effect at the end of each subsequent turn. 


I love 5e's exhaustion track, but I find that it just doesn't come up that much in my game. The main effect it has on my campaign is as a limiter on my barbarian, who only frenzies once or twice before the party tries to take a long rest. There are rarely any other reasons the party need to worry about it, because there are several features built into the game that make exhaustion a less serious worry. An outlander's ability to find their party food and water if there is any there to find can even apply to fairly hostile environments like a desert (so long as there are cacti, edible flowers, lizards, rodents, insects, etc.). Starvation and thirst are therefore uncommon features of the game, and it's also usually hard to make your party go without rest for too long. Not only would they gain massively debilitating exhaustion levels, they'd not be able to regain any of their hit points and powers. Keep that up for too long and you'll have a TPK on your hands. 

I want exhaustion to be a feature, so I'm always looking for options to include it. Recently, I've been working on a project to publish on DMsGuild that introduces new power options for player characters. For several of these new powers, I've developed a new way for characters to interact with the exhaustion track: the winded condition. Here's how it works: 
Sometimes a character can gain a level of winded. A level of winded is equal in every way to a level of exhaustion. The target moves along the exhaustion track, but a note should be made about how many of their exhaustion levels come from being winded. A target that reaches 6 exhaustion levels due to being winded does not die, but instead falls unconscious.   
As long as they are conscious to do so, the target can remove a level of winded by spending a full round doing nothing other than regaining their wind. Any effect that removes exhaustion levels can also remove levels of winded, but reduces a character's exhaustion levels first.  
You can add a monster  that causes winded conditions any time you'd like exhaustion to be a feature of a single encounter but not to gum up the rest of the game. Winded makes exhaustion meaningful in the moment, but not significantly dangerous in the long term. 

Here are a couple of ways you could add winded to monsters in your game: 

Inhale Oxygen (recharge 6). The monster sucks in the available oxygen from a 30 ft. cone originating from their space. All creatures within the area must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw. On a failed saving throw, they gain a level of winded. Creatures that do not need to breathe, such as constructs or undead, are immune to this effect.
Breath-Stealing Blow. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage, and the target must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw. On a failed saving throw, they gain a level of winded. 

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