Sunday, 30 April 2017

5e: Three More New Conditions, New Falling Rules, and an update for the Confusion spell

Shaken

I created this condition pretty much by accident when working on the Prognosticators Militant, a new monastic order for monks.I liked the effect a great deal and think it has the potential to be a condition with a wider place in the game. 

Shaken represents a state of startlement and possibly anxiousness that prevents a character from performing at their best. It could be caused by something that invokes feelings of horror, shock, or anxiety. It isn't precisely a fear effect, because a creature incapable of fear can still be briefly taken aback and distracted. However it's certainly an effect that certain monsters who already create fear effects might also be capable of. Indeed the combination of frightened and shaken would synergise in such a way that the affected character would have no choice but to either be rooted to the spot in terror or flee in panicked and disorderly fashion. I don't think every monster should be able to pull out this combo, but it would be great if used sparingly. Here's the definition of the shaken condition: 
If a shaken creature moves 5 feet or more or takes the dash or disengage action on their turn while they are shaken, they have disadvantage on all attacks and ability checks made in the same turn.
Here are a few examples of how you might add powers to creatures in your game that cause the shaken condition:
Intimidating Blow (recharge 5-6). The monster makes a melee weapon attack. If it hits and the target takes damage, they must also make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be knocked prone and be shaken. On a successful saving throw, the target is not knocked prone, and cannot be shaken again by this ability until 24 hours have passed. A target that fails its initial saving throw can repeat it at the end of each of their subsequent turns, ending the shaken condition on a success, and becoming immune to the monster's Intimidating Blow until 24 hours have passed.
Mighty Bellow (recharge 6). The monster roars loudly, and every enemy creature within 30 feet of it makes a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw. f it hits and the target takes damage, they must also make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or be knocked prone and be shaken. On a successful saving throw, the target is not knocked prone, and cannot be shaken again by this ability until 24 hours have passed. A target that fails its initial saving throw can repeat it at the end of each of their subsequent turns, ending the shaken condition on a success, and becoming immune to the monster's Intimidating Blow until 24 hours have passed. 
Startling Aspect. Once per turn, when the monster's movement takes it in and out of an enemy's reach, and the enemy either misses their opportunity attack or don't take one, that enemy must make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed saving throw, the target is shaken until the end of its next turn. On a success, the target cannot be shaken again by this ability until 24 hours have passed. 

Falling

Falling is one of those areas of the game which isn't that well served by the rules. There are quirks to it such as characters always hitting the ground seconds after they fall regardless of height (which also doesn't allow for the character to be saved mid-fall). And there are also ill-defined aspects such as what happens when a character is forced over an edge.

The alternative rules presented here attempt to redefine falling as a condition, also creating a condition known as teetering which applies to characters when they're about to fall. These conditions allow characters the opportunity to save themselves or be saved from otherwise fatal falls.
A fall from a great height is one of the most common hazards facing an adventurer. When a creature falls, they gain the falling condition. 
Sometimes a creature is forced off an edge by an enemy's actions, a trap, or an environmental effect. When a creature is targeted by a forced movement effect that would move it over an edge and cause it to fall, it immediately gains the teetering condition. 
Where the creature will be moved to should be determined, but does not yet apply - the creature remains in its current space and is only moved at the end of the round (after every participant in the encounter, including the teetering creature, has taken its turn).
The effects of falling and teetering aren't resolved until initiative count 0, after all creatures involved in an encounter have taken their turns for the round. There is therefore an opportunity to save the endangered creature, or for them to save themselves if they've yet to take their own turn.    

Avoiding or Ending a Fall

When a creature is teetering while they are still within their reach of something they can reasonably grab onto (such as the edge itself, a railing, low wall, or outcropping), it may make a Strength saving throw to grab hold and prevent the fall. The DC is usually 10.  If the creature succeeds, it becomes prone and neither of its hands are free until it is able to clamber up to ground level and get to its feet. If the creature fails its saving throw, it gains the teetering condition as normal.
A creature may also attempt to arrest its fall if it comes within its reach of an outcropping or something else they can reasonably grab onto mid-fall. They may make a DC 15 Strength saving throw. On a success, the creature suffers falling damage based on the distance it has already fallen, it becomes prone and neither of its hands are free until it is able to clamber up to ground level and get to its feet. On a failed saving throw, the creature retains its falling condition. 

Flying Creatures and Falling

If a creature is knocked prone while flying, it gains the falling condition (not the prone condition).  

Consequences of a Fall

At the end of a fall, a creature loses the falling condition and takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage for every 10 feet it fell, to a maximum of 20d6. The creature lands prone, unless it avoids taking damage from the fall.   
If the creature has fallen a particularly large distance and is unable to avoid taking damage from the fall, the DM may rule that it dies instantly.

New Conditions: Teetering and Falling

Teetering

  • A teetering creature remains in its current space until the end of the round.
  • A teetering creature's speed becomes 0, and it can't benefit from any bonus to its speed.
  • A teetering creature cannot be affected by forced movement of any kind other than the forced movement that initially caused it to gain the teetering condition.
  • A teetering creature can use any Action or Bonus Action on its turn as long as they do not cause it to move from its present location. It can also take a Reaction as normal if one is triggered. Alternatively, a teetering creature may opt to delay its turn. If it chooses to do so, the creature is moved to the top of the initiative order for the following turn.
  • At initiative count 0 the forced movement is applied. The creature may make a Strength saving throw to prevent itself from falling if it is viable for them do so. If it cannot or does not do so, or if it fails its saving throw, the creature loses the teetering condition and immediately gains the falling condition. 
  • If the creature opted to delay its turn until the end of the round, it may use its Action and Bonus Action after the forced movement is applied but before it gains the falling condition. It can also take a Reaction as normal if triggered. The creature may use movement that occurs as part of an Action, Bonus Action or Reaction, but only if that movement is as a result of flight or teleportation. 

Falling

  • At initiative count 0, a falling creature falls directly downward at a speed of 500 feet. It does so every round until it reaches the ground of otherwise loses the falling condition.
  • A falling creature cannot move on its turn unless it has a flying speed, but it can take its Action and Bonus Action. It can also take a Reaction as normal if it is triggered. The creature may use movement that occurs as part of an Action, Bonus Action or Reaction, but only if that movement is as a result of flight or teleportation. 
  • A falling creature has disadvantage on attack rolls.
  • An attack roll against a falling creature has disadvantage.

Dazed and the Confusion Spell

As a special bonus, I wanted to revisit the dazed condition I presented in the previous article Two New Conditions for Fifth Edition, and rewrite Confusion so that dazed is one of the possible effects.

Confusion

4th-level enchantment

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 90 feet
Components: V, S, M (three nut shells)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

This spell assaults and twists creatures’ minds, spawning delusions and provoking uncontrolled action. Each creature in a 10 foot radius sphere centered on a point you choose within range must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw when you cast this spell or be affected by it.

An affected target can’t take reactions and must roll a d12 at the start of each of its turns to determine its behavior for that turn.

Confusion Effects

d12 Effect
1 The creature uses all its movement to move in a random direction. To determine the direction, roll a d8 and assign a direction to each die face. The creature doesn’t take an action this turn.
2-6 The creature doesn’t move or take actions this turn.
7-8 The creature is dazed until the beginning of its next turn.
9-10 The creature uses its action to make a melee attack against a randomly determined creature within its reach. If there is no creature within its reach, the creature does nothing this turn.
11-12 The creature can act and move normally.

At the end of each of its turns, an affected target can make a Wisdom saving throw. If it succeeds, this effect ends for that target.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, the radius of the Sphere increases by 5 feet for each slot level above 4th.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

5e: 13th Age Ideas in the 5th Edition Game

13th Age, by Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet (two very experienced D&D game designers) is an excellent d20 based fantasy rpg. If you haven't ever played it, I highly recommend it. In some respects, it is the successor to D&D 4th Edition but detractors of that system shouldn't be put off from trying it. Only the very best parts of 4e made the cut, and it has a bunch of slick, streamlined new ideas. 13th Age is a slimline system, and nothing like an MMO. The only aspect of the game I don't like are the Icon Rolls, because I feel that they rob the DM of a lot of creative control. They would suit a more improvised game, but they're not for me. Fortunately, they're easily ignored.

There are some ideas from the 13th Age game which could be very interesting additions to 5e. Luckily, 13th Age has its own System Reference Document, so it is possible to share those ideas with you and to build upon them. 

The Escalation Die

(See the rule on the 13th Age SRD)

Here's how this rule works in 13th Age:
  • The escalation die represents a bonus to attacks as the fight goes on. 
  • At the start of the second round, the GM sets the escalation die at 1. Each PC gains a bonus to attack rolls equal to the current value on the escalation die. Each round, the escalation die advances by +1, to a maximum of +6. 
  • Monsters and NPCs do not add the escalation die bonus to their attacks.
  • If the GM judges that the characters are avoiding conflict rather than bringing the fight to the bad guys, the escalation die doesn’t advance. If combat virtually ceases, the escalation die resets to 0.
Pretty interesting, right? This rule represents increasing momentum and building teamwork among the heroes, and has the game effect of shortening most battles, making for improved session pacing.

The Escalation Die in 5e

13th Age attack bonuses are higher than those in 5e (due to 5e's bounded accuracy), so while I think this rule can be imported almost as is, my suggestion would be to use a d4 in place of the d6.

It is recommended to use as big a die as possible for the Escalation Die for visibility, but I think it's a lot easier to get massive a d6 than a massive d4. One idea would be to print and construct a large d4 from card. Here's a template I've made which you can use for your tabletop game. Simply print it out, fold along the lines, and stick the tabs in place with glue or tape.

Other Consequences of Escalation

In 13th Age, certain character powers and monster abilities trigger when the Escalation Die reaches a certain number. We can't do that in 5e without a complete overhaul, but we could look at other ways to change up the battle based on the level of Escalation. 

Here's a few ideas that alter how enemies function as the battle proceeds:
  • While the heroes attack with more surety and skill, their enemies react with more desperate and powerful blows. The first time a monster or NPC deals damage on its turn, add a number of additional d4s to the damage equal to the current value of the escalation die. 
  • In response to the increased deadliness of the heroes, their enemies become more wary. Monsters and NPCs have a bonus to their AC equal to half the value of the escalation die, rounded down. 
  • When faced with overwhelming enemies, some monsters push themselves past their perceived physical limits. Monsters and NPCs have a bonus to their movement speed equal to 10 feet times the current value of the escalation die. 
  • Some enemies only become more enraged as the threat level rises, stubbornly pushing through pain and persisting in spite of their wounds. The monster or NPC can roll a number of d4s to reduce damage it takes each round equal to the current value of the escalation die. It can split these dice up as it wishes between attacks.
Monsters shouldn't always have their own escalation features. Save it for significant battles. When you do use these features, remember that a monster only gets one. However, you can give different creatures participating in an encounter different escalation features that best suit their role. Enemy skirmishers may be better off with escalating movement speed, while brutes and archers will be most potent with increasing damage. Monsters whose role is to tie up attacks and soak up damage should increase their AC or gain damage reduction dice.

Attack Miss Damage 

When a 13th Age character misses with their basic melee attack, they deal damage equal to their level (although it is worth noting that the maximum level for 13th Age characters is actually level 10, meaning the miss damage caps at 10, not 20).

I like this rule because a wasted turn can be pretty demoralising, especially if you have an unlucky run of rolls over multiple turns. It can be especially egregious for warrior classes, who may not have many ways to contribute to fights. Without area powers or deadly spells, their attacks are all they have, and to miss with them and utterly waste their turns can be pretty brutal. The rule lets players feel like no turn is wasted, and that they contributed in some small way.

One thing to note is that in 13th Age the rule doesn't extend to ranged weapons, which on the one hand I think is a good thing because it gives melee weapons an advantage that ranged weapons don't. On the other, ranged fighters will still feel the sting of a miss. A good compromise might be to have miss damage for ranged attacks deal only half the damage compared to melee attacks.


Melee and Ranged Attack Miss Damage in 5e

13th Age characters have 10 levels, meaning the maximum bonus to damage on any attack will cap at +10. Additionally, 13th Age characters generally make only one attack per turn, though certain powers may allow a secondary attack too. It's possible for a 5e character to attack three or four times. We need to account for both facts.

Melee Lethality

All characters possess a melee lethality score. Your melee lethality is equal to 1⁄2 your character level (rounded down, to a minimum of 1).

On any turn on which you miss with every melee attack you make, or when your combined damage from any attacks that hit is less than your melee lethality, you can deal damage equal to your melee lethality to a single creature you targeted with one or more melee attacks this turn.

You can only deal melee or ranged lethality on your turn, never both.

Ranged Lethality

All characters possess a ranged lethality score. Your ranged lethality score is equal to 1⁄4 your character level (rounded down).

On any turn on which you miss with every ranged attack you make, or when your combined damage from any attacks that hit is less than your ranged lethality, you can deal damage equal to your ranged lethality to a single creature you targeted with one or more ranged attacks this turn.

You can only deal melee or ranged lethality on your turn, never both.

You need to decide whether the game impact of this additional damage is an issue for your game or not. As stands, it will slightly increase the overall damage output of your party, meaning that fights could theoretically end more quickly (not necessarily a bad thing). In practice, it should be triggered fairly rarely, though expect it to be more common at low levels when the characters have less attacks that might hit. If you're happy for fights to end faster, make no changes to your monsters. If you want players to feel empowered but keep your monster on par, bump up the monster's hit points by 2 or 3 times the current melee lethality score of your party members. You'll probably always want to do this for legendary and other solo monsters, too.

Lethality by Level

The following table provides an easy reference for your character's Melee and Ranged Lethality.

Melee and Ranged Lethality Scores

Character Level Melee Ranged
1 1 0
2 1 0
3 1 0
4 2 1
5 2 1
6 3 1
7 3 1
8 4 2
9 4 2
10 5 2
11 5 2
12 6 3
13 6 3
14 7 3
15 7 3
16 8 4
17 8 4
18 9 4
19 9 4
20 10 5


Fight in Spirit

(See the rule on the 13th Age SRD)


Is there anything worse than your character being knocked unconscious? Not only is there a possibility that your character will die, you also can't take part in the game for three turns save for rolling your death saving throw.

Well, being stabilised might actually be worse. Now you don't even get to make a roll!

13th Age has a solution for players of characters who are out for the count, under the effect of a hold person, currently banished, or otherwise incapable of contributing normally to the fight.

Fight in Spirit is a special combat action that you can take when you are out of the fight altogether. Once a round you can specify how your character is still there ‘fighting in spirit’ alongside the other party members. Come up with some story about what your character has done that could boost party morale. The GM may grant any ally a +1 bonus to attacks, Armor Class, Physical Defense, or Mental Defense. The first time each battle that someone fights in spirit may be a +2 bonus. 

The bonus lasts one to two rounds. If the fight is still on and you have something else to add to the story, sell it to the GM.

If you’re still (even partly) in the fight, then you can’t fight in spirit.

In effect, you make up a memory of your character for one of the other PCs.Perhaps it was a rousing speech, an illustrative tale told round the campfire, or a maneuver you made in the past that the other hero might have learned from. Once you do, the GM translates it into a +1 bonus for that PC (or a +2 bonus if it's the first time anyone has used Fight in Spirit during the encounter).

Fight in Spirit in 5e

Although it will technically make this ability more powerful, I think we should make use of the advantage mechanic rather than applying fiddly +1 bonuses. Besides, +1 isn't usually going to amount to a very big deal anyway, so in the spirit of giving the incapacitated hero's player a worthwhile turn, upping the potency a bit seems worthwhile. In any case this action should be used rarely enough that this isn't too big deal.  We also need to adjust the list of things to which the bonus can apply.

Fight in Spirit is a special combat action that you can take when you are out of the fight altogether. Once a round, after an ally makes an attack roll or saving throw, or has an attack roll made against them, but before the result of that roll is declared, you can specify how your character is still there ‘fighting in spirit’ alongside them. Come up with some story about what your character has done that could boost the target character's morale.

If your DM accepts your story, your ally can roll an additional d20 on their attack roll or saving throw, taking the best of the results. If your Fight in Spirit action was in response to an attack targeting the ally, the enemy creature must roll an additional d20, taking the worst of the results.

If you’re still (even partly) in the fight, then you can’t fight in spirit.


Flee

(See the rule on the 13th Age SRD)

Flee is an optional rule in 13th Age that empowers the party to take greater risks, knowing they have a narrative out if things go South fast. It can also save the party's bacon if they are being defeated by a monster that, on paper, they couldn't possibly escape from due to high movement speeds.
Fleeing is a party action. On any PC’s turn, any player can propose that all the characters flee the fight. If all players agree, they successfully retreat, carrying any fallen heroes away with them. The party suffers a campaign loss. The point of this rule is to encourage daring attacks and to make retreating interesting on the level of story rather than tactics.

Flee in 5e

We don't need to make any changes to this rule, really. A campaign loss is any significant negative consequence that will not block the story, but will alter it. If the party flee from orcs in an old keep's guardhouse, the orcs may be able to fortify that entrance, meaning the heroes will have to find another way in. If they flee from an adventure's villain, the villain probably escapes to become a recurring thorn in their side. Maybe the wounded monsters drink the potions of cure wounds that were supposed to be part of the treasure? Or an enraged dragon, in its fury at the party's escape, might accidentally trample some of the valuable items in its hoard.


Backgrounds in place of Skills

(See the rule on the 13th Age SRD)

In 13th Age, characters don't have skills. Instead, they have backgrounds. They are considered proficient in any skill that makes sense given those backgrounds.

This is something we can do in 5e, and it works very well (I actually use this as a houserule in my tabletop game). The only thing we need to consider is that the 5e game already has backgrounds, so maybe we shouldn't call these skill replacements that. How about "Training"? Here's how I handle it:

  • A Training proficiency is a a short statement of the player’s invention which illustrates a key aspect of the character’s past and skillset.
  • Whenever an ability check comes up, you can add your Proficiency bonus to your roll as long as it is clear or you can justify how one or more of your areas of Training can help you. A Training proficiency can be anything but when creating them apply your common sense and write a Training proficiency statement that is useful in many situations but that also has reasonable limitations. Training should never allow you to add your Proficiency to every ability check, or even most ability checks. For instance: "Cat burglar", "Rogue with a heart of gold", or "Child of a merchant family" might all be suitable Training proficiencies. "Unparalleled prodigy at everything he tries" would be very unsuitable.
  • A character's Race, their Class, and their Background all act as Training proficiencies which the character receives automatically.
  • A character selects a number of additional Training proficiencies determined by their class:
    • Barbarians, Clerics, Druids, Fighters, Monks, Paladins, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards may select one additional Training proficiency.
    • Bards and Rangers may select two.
    • Rogues may select three.
  • Variant Humans do not get an extra Training proficiency, and nor do Half-Elves or any other race which normally adds one or more skill proficiency. However, they get to select a single skill expertise (see Expertise) for every skill proficiency they would normally receive. This replaces their previous skill proficiency feature.

Expertise

Whenever a Bard or Rogue gains the Expertise feature, they select two skills, tool, or tasks with which their character is especially accomplished.

Some races also grant expertise. For instance, a Variant Human character may select one skill, tool, or task. A Half-Elf may select two.

You might for instance select a "core rules style" skill, eg. Acrobatics, Stealth, or Perception. You might select Thieves Tools, or a Poisoner's Kit. You might just as easily select something else, as long as it is a single area of knowledge or ability like "ropework", "animal handling", or "parkour".

You may only select an expertise that would normally be an area with which you would be proficient due to the competencies granted by one (or possibly more) of your Training proficiencies. For instance, if none of your Training suggests you would be competent at using poisons, it would make no sense if you were expert as a "Poisoner".

Whenever your expertise is relevant during an ability check you may add double your Proficiency bonus, instead of your Proficiency bonus.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

5e: Avatars of the Gods — Asmodeus, God of Sin

In our version of the realms, Asmodeus claimed the porfolio of sin by force, becoming a god. Rather unfortunately for him, in his rare lapse of attention spared for the mortal world, events were unfolding which would undo the archdevil's grand plan in the very moment of his victory.

On the face of Toril the schemes of the lich Beliogalir were leading toward a ritual which, if enacted, would drain all the power from the gods, killing them in the process, and use that power to heal the planar riftstorms that were ravaging the world and to create Beliogalir's idea of a perfect Toril—a Toril beholden to no gods.

This ritual was interrupted, and cast imperfect. The riftstorms were ended, but the gods were not slain. Instead, enough power was taken from each of them to make them mortal, forcing them to walk the world in their avatar forms. So began our version of the Realms' own take on the Time of Troubles.  

Just as he attained the power he had sought above all else, Asmodeus was made mortal with all the rest of the pantheon. Ironically, he was hardly stronger than he had ever been while reigning over the Nine Hells, and without his diabolic hosts at his beck and call. In his absence the Archdukes of Hell set to bickering and warring over who would replace him, and the entire hierarchy shook. Not one would lift a finger to help. Indeed, in his vulnerable state, devils were far more likely to seek him out to slay him than they were to offer aid.

Naturally, Asmodeus has spent the time since seeking a solution to the problem facing the gods. Or just him, if at all possible. Yet in the middle of that, he has taken the time to travel to Osse. Why? Perhaps because, at this most inopportune time for him, an old collaborator has called in a very ancient favour. Or part payment of it, at least...
Asmodeus 
Medium divinity (avatar), lawful evil

Armor Class

22 (fiendish blessing)

Hit Points

864 (64d20 + 192)

Speed

60 ft.
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
16 20 16 24 20 24

Saving Throws

Str +12, Dex +14, Con +12, Int +16, Wis +14, Cha +16 

Skills

Str-based +12, Dex-based +14, Con-based +12, Int-based +16, Wis-based  +14, Cha-based +16

Damage Resistances

bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks

Damage Immunities

fire, poison, psychic

Condition Immunities

charmed, exhaustion, frightened, incapacitated, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, stunned

Senses

true sight within line of sight, tremorsense 120 ft.

Languages

All, telepathy within line of sight.

Challenge

33 (215,000 XP)

Aura of Submission.

Any creature within 20 feet of Asmodeus at the end of their turn must succeed on DC 24 Will saving throw or be affected as though by the command spell. Asmodeus chooses the command word the target must obey.

Fiendish Blessing.

Asmodeus' AC includes his Charisma bonus.

Freedom of Movement.

Asmodeus ignores difficult terrain, and magical effects can't reduce his speed or cause him to be restrained. He can spend 5 feet of movement to escape from nonmagical restraints or being grappled.

Godly Magic.

Asmodeus' spellcasting ability is Charisma (Save DC 24). He can reproduce the effects of any spell, requiring no material components, but is limited by the number of spells he can cast per long rest:
At will: Any 5th-level or lower spell.
4/long rest: Any 6th-level spell.
3/long rest: Any 7th-level spell.
2/long rest: Any 8th-level spell.
1/long rest: Any 9th-level spell.

Godly Mastery.

Asmodeus adds his proficiency bonus to all ability checks.

Godly Resilience.

Asmodeus adds his proficiency bonus to all saving throws. He does not need to eat, drink, breathe, or sleep, but can do any of these if he wishes. Magic cannot put him to sleep, and he cannot be polymorphed or scried unless he wishes it. His maximum hit points cannot be reduced (such as by a wraith's Life Drain ability).

Inhuman Speed.

Asmodeus may spend a bonus action to dash or disengage.

Legendary Resistance (3/long rest).

If Asmodeus fails a saving throw, he can choose to succeed instead.

Magical Mastery.

Asmodeus can concentrate on two spells at once. If he is concentrating only on one spell, he has advantage on concentration checks to maintain it. In addition, Asmodeus can freely change the damage type of a spell or cantrip he is casting. 

Silver-Tongued Devil.

Asmodeus has advantage on his Charisma-based spell attack rolls as well as any ability checks he makes pertaining to social interactions. When Asmodeus targets a creature with a spell that would give them the charmed or frightened condition, the target has disadvantage on their saving throw. 
Actions

Multiattack.

Asmodeus makes five attacks with his ruby rod.

Ruby Rod.

Melee Weapon Attack: +16 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (1d8 +7) bludgeoning damage. The Ruby Rod adds Asmodeus' charisma bonus to its attack and damage rolls instead of his strength bonus. It also ignores resistance to bludgeoning damage, and on a hit the target is also affected as though by an inflict wounds spell cast at 3rd-level, taking an additional 27 (5d10) necrotic damage.
Reactions

Devious Desertion.

As a reaction after he is damaged, Asmodeus can teleport to any free space within 60 feet. If a creature is within reach of his new location, he can make a single attack against them with his ruby rod. 
Legendary Actions

Attack.

Asmodeus makes an attack with his ruby rod or casts eldritch blast.

Detect.

Asmodeus makes a Wisdom (Perception) check.

Teleport.

Amodeus teleports up to half his speed.

Godly Resistance (costs 3 legendary actions).

At the end of his third legendary action, Asmodeus regains one use of Legendary Resistance.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

5e: Five Dragon-themed Magic Items

These five items are perfect for any campaign where dragons play a large role, or to give to any character with an interest in the draconic races. They'll work great in any game featuring dragonbound, too!

Dragon Claw

Weapon (gauntlet), rare (requires attunement)

This gauntlet of scale mail ends in wicked claws that look like those a dragon. 

The gauntlet is a simple weapon with the light and finesse properties that deals 2d4 magical slashing damage.

Dragon Eye

Wondrous item, very rare (requires attunement)

This is a golden amulet set with a ruby cut to resemble the slit eye of a dragon. While worn, the amulet grants its wearer darkvision out to 120 feet and blindsense out to 60 feet. 

If the wearer of the dragon eye sleeps in the same location every night for at least a month, they can declare that location their "lair". The lair is an area three hundred feet in diameter (150 feet in any direction from where the wearer sleeps). The wearer of the dragon eye is always aware when a creature enters or leaves their lair, and senses hostility directed at them by anyone within the area.

Dragonlord's Lance

Weapon (lance), very rare (requires attunement)

This ornate lance is looped with a gold gilded dragon. The dragon's tail coils around the base of the weapon and its forked tongue forms the lance's tip.

On a hit, this weapon deals an additional 2d6 damage of a type determined at random when the weapon is found. Once per long rest after hitting a creature with the lance, you can spend a bonus action to have the lance emit a dragon's roar. The target must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened for 1 minute. The creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Lance Damage

d12 Damage Type
1-2 acid
3-4 cold
5-6 fire
7-8 lightning
9-10 poison
11-12 thunder


If you are a dragonbound, the bonus damage of this weapon is the same type dealt by your bonded dragon's breath weapon. You may expend one breath to increase the bonus damage by an amount equal to your dragon companion's breath weapon dice.

If you possess both the dragonlord's lance and the dragonlord's shield, you can attune both with a single attunement slot.

Dragonlord's Shield

Shield, very rare (requires attunement)

This gleaming shield is emblazoned with the image of a rampant dragon.

While this shield is in hand, you take half damage from any breath weapon or area spell that deals a damage type determined when the shield is found. On a successful saving throw, you take no damage.

Protects Against

d12Damage Type
1-2acid
3-4cold
5-6fire
7-8lightning
9-10poison
11-12thunder

At the end of a short rest, you can select a different damage type from the above list. The shield now protects against that damage type.

If you possess both the dragonlord's lance and the dragonlord's shield, you can attune both with a single attunement slot.

Wyvern Wings

Wondrous item, very rare

A supple leather harness attached to elaborate wings comprised of interlocking plates of mythril or goldensteel. These decorative wings appear designed to fit on the back of a humanoid creature.

Wyvern wings are created both by cultures that fight alongside dragons and cultures that make war on them. They enable the flight of footsoldiers, and reduce the risk of a warrior falling to their death when caught in a breath weapon attack.

A creature wearing wyvern wings can fly at a speed of 60 feet, but this requires their concentration as though they had cast a concentration spell. The wearer of the wyvern wings has advantage on concentration checks that are a result of damage from a dragon's breath weapon or from a dragonbound's breath ability.

Friday, 14 April 2017

One For All: Classes and Powers

The second in a series of articles highlighting Spilled Ale Studios' own setting which is currently in development, this post looks at how One For All handles classes and character powers.

See also: Part 1: The World and its People

Classes

At its core, One For All is powered by the rules in 5e's SRD. But there have been significant changes to many parts of the game to build a system that best captures the world of One For All.

One such change is a significant alteration to the class structure of the game. Classes no longer represent very specific types of characters such as fighters, clerics, or monks, but rather three broad archetypes. In One For All a character is either a Magus, a Rogue, or a Warrior. The classes are deliberately generic, but the player has plenty of opportunity to make their character special through their choices at every level. In short the player chooses what makes their character special, it isn't dictated by the class subsystem. Or, just as likely, they are multiclassed between two or even all three of these classes. Multiclassing is completely unrestricted and there are even some benefits to doing so. One For All encourages you to build exactly the character you want to play.

Also playing into this design goal are the level-based benefits of each class. Whether you play a Magus, a Rogue, or a Warrior, your rewards at each level are the same: at odd levels, you receive a talent. At even levels, a bonus feat. This progression will be familiar to anyone who has played D20 Modern.

So how do the classes differ? Each class offers different benefits when selected at first level. Beyond that, the main differences between the classes are what feats a character may select when they earn a bonus level during a level up in that class, and which talent trees the character has access to when they earn a talent. Additionally, while multiclassing is easy and encouraged, there are also rewards for dedication to a single path. Each class is associated with a number of prestige talent trees, which are only accessible when a character has a certain number of levels in one or more classes (among other prerequisites).

Magus

A magus is a hero who practices a magical art. Characters that other games might divide up into categories such as Clerics, Druids, and Wizards are all Magi in One For All. While there are differences in the beliefs and practices of various spellcasters in the world, all their magic works the same way.

Any character can gain access to the magic subsystem via the selection of the appropriate feats, but a character that picks magus at 1st level gets these feats for free up front, and has an initial boost in magical power.

Rogue

A rogue is a hero who relies on skills and knacks. Rogue is a well-rounded class that can be built as stealthy thieves, agile catburglars, shadowy assassins, charming scoundrels, or keen-eyed scouts.

Apart from immediate access to the roguish talents, a character that picks rogue at 1st level gets a choice of feats which, depending on your selection, can improve the character's skill set, mobility, or deadliness.

Warrior

A warrior is a hero whose talents lie on the field of battle. Deadly duelists or professional soldiers, warriors are deadly combatants with a talent for surviving combat.

Apart from immediate access to the warrior talents, a character that picks warrior at 1st level gets the best immediate access to weapon and armour proficiencies.

Feats and Talents

A feat may have prerequisites, but it is never restricted from a character based on their class or faction affiliations. Theoretically, almost all characters from any of the three classes can select any feat as long as they can qualify for its other prerequisites. Each class does offer a restricted list of feats that members of that class can select when they level up in the class, but characters aren't restricted to any list using their level-based feat slots.

Talents are slightly more potent than feats, and usually more restricted. To earn a talent from any of the talent trees in the Rogue class, the character must gain an odd level in Rogue. The same goes for talents associated with the Warrior class and prestige talents with the Magus class.

There are also three other types of talent: General, Magic, and Faction. Talents in a general talent tree can be selected by a member of any class. Talents in a magic talent tree can be selected by anyone who has unlocked access to the magic subsystem (these are the go-to talents for any Magus, but other characters can unlock them too with a little effort). Finally, faction talents are available only to characters who are affiliated with the faction in question. Affiliation with a faction can be established at character creation, or else earned in-game.

Magic, Rituals, and Maneuvers

Any character can eventually gain access to the magic subsystem by purchasing the Magic Initiate feay, which lets characters gain spells by spending one or more of their level-based feats (earned at 1st level, 3rd level, and every three levels thereafter) on Spell Lore. Spells are potent, once per encounter abilities.

Magic-using characters can also learn to perform rituals, which take time and often are difficult to perform, but can create correspondingly powerful and often longterm magical effects.

Finally, all characters can learn to perform maneuvers by selecting the Battle Maneuvers feat. Maneuvers work in similar fashion to spells but are explicitly nonmagical. They grant characters interesting abilities and options in encounters.

Magic Schools

Depending on who you ask, there are between four and six branches of magical knowledge. However, most magi from all over the world of Tierra currently recognise only four distinct schools of magic:

  • Calling. Spells of the calling school breach the barriers between the material world and realms beyond, typically in order to bring something through. Calling spells might tap into elemental power sources to attack, defend, or generate power. Other spells of this school might summon entities from one plane to another, or use planar travel to permit the rapid or even instantaneous relocation of a person or object from one place in the material realm to another, or scry on a target from afar.  
  • Enchantment. The enchantment school includes spells that imbue a target with properties it did not previously have. For instance: temporarily imbuing a sword with an enhanced cutting edge,  granting a person supernatural strength, dominating the mind of an enemy, or causing a weapon to pull itself from an enemy’s grip. Naturally, enchantment also includes spells that undo such effects. The school is considered by many to be the purest expression of magic, as it relies on no other power or raw material than that of magic itself. However, there are those (typically specialists of other schools) who believe enchantment to be a brute force approach to problem solving, lacking in finesse. There are also students of magic who theorise its energy may be a finite resource: if this is true, then enchantment spells would certainly be the most wasteful.  
  • Occultism. There is a fine line to be drawn between Occultism and the school of Calling, a point which has been argued by philosophers for centuries with no conclusion reached. The distinction is largely one of semantics as the types of spells employed by both schools are largely similar, however the difference does matter to many.  Occultism magic taps not into elemental planes, but rather into the divine or profane forces that intersect with the material realm. Acting as a conduit for the power of the Divinity or the pantheon of one of the pagan deities, calling forth a spirit from the afterlife, or channeling the unholy energies of the Pit to create undead abominations—all are examples of Occultism spells. Unsurprisingly, the miracleworkers of the Faith prefer not to group their own magic alongside the pagan rites of the so-called False Gods or the dark magic of devil worshippers. They classify their own spell use as a separate school of Divine magic.
  • Shaping. Originally two separate schools: “Creation”, classified as the making of something out of nothing, and “Shaping”, which altered something in existence into something else. Modern thought posits that it is impossible to create something from nothing, and even if a spell has the appearance of doing so it is actually forging an object from constituent elements taken from the environment or some other place. Thus, these two spell types are now grouped together. Depending on their tradition or personal preference some practitioners may prefer to call this branch of magic “Creation”, while others might still believe that each is a a separate school of magic.



Tuesday, 11 April 2017

5e: Demon Lords — Pazuzu

Another big player in my tabletop campaign is the Demon Lord Pazuzu. The campaign's main villains are the Aeree-Quor, members of one of the Forgotten Realms' creator races. The Aeree-Quor turned away from their gods to worship Pazuzu in exchange for dark powers. In my campaign the Aeree-Quor fled south when the empires of the Aeree fell, eventually winding up in Osse. After a protracted war they defeated the Sarrukh who were already living there, led a campaign of extermination against the dragons of the continent, and then ruled the continent for millenia... until the Tethyrian expedition arrived on Osse's shores.

As a creator race, the Aeree-Quor are responsible for making a number of servitor races that have spread throughout the continent, spreading the worship of Pazuzu with them. Therefore, the continent has become an important focal point for his power on Toril. When the Aeree and their servants pray to him for assistance against the interlopers, he responds. Though the party have yet to directly feel the effects of his actions yet, he has already taken some steps in the background.

The more I researched Pazuzu for my game, the more fascinating I found him. Here is a demon lord who survived the fall of the Obyrith and the rise of the Tanar'ri. Here is a demon lord who claims the skies and aerial demons of all the infinite layers of the abyss as his own. Here is a demon, in short, who logically must be one of the strongest demons in existence, perhaps even having a stronger claim to the title of Prince of Demons than Demogorgon. And yet he seems to have no interest in claiming it,  or joining in the petty squabbles of Demogorgon, Graz'zt, and others. More interestingly still, Asmodeus of all entities owes him an incalculable debt, for it was Pazuzu who provided the gemstone for the archdevil's ruby rod. This demon is clearly a mover and shaker—one to watch! He's certainly become my personal favourite of the abyssal crowd.

The party probably won't ever have to fight Pazuzu directly, but I'm not ruling it out.

Pazuzu
Large fiend, chaotic evil

Armor Class

20 (natural armor, fiendish blessing)

Hit Points

744 (48d20 + 240)

Speed

60 ft., fly 120 ft.
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
18 24 20 20 18 20

Saving Throws

Str +12, Dex +15, Wis +12, All others +13

Skills

Str-based +12, Dex-based +15, Wis-based +12, All others +13

Damage Resistances

cold, lightning; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks

Damage Immunities

fire, poison

Condition Immunities

poisoned

Senses

true sight within line of sight.

Languages

All, telepathy within line of sight.

Challenge

27 (105,000 XP)

Avian Aura.

Any evil creature with a fly speed and a Challenge Rating lower than Pazuzu's own must make a Wisdom saving throw (DC 23) when they approach within 120 feet of Pazuzu. On a failed saving throw their movement immediately ends, and they cannot attack Pazuzu. The affected creature may take non-offensive actions or offensive actions towards someone other than Pazuzu normally. On a successful saving throw, the target is immune to the effect for 24 hours. A creature Such a creature that spends more than one round in Pazuzu’s presence must make a second Wisdom saving throw (using the same DC) or be permanently charmed by him.

Demon Lord's Resilience.

Pazuzu adds his proficiency bonus to all saving throws. He does not need to eat, drink, breathe, or sleep, but can do any of these if he wishes. Magic cannot put him to sleep, and he cannot be polymorphed or scried unless he wishes it. His maximum hit points cannot be reduced (such as by a wraith's Life Drain ability).

Fiendish Blessing.

Pazuzu's AC includes his Charisma bonus.

Fiendish Mastery.

Pazuzu adds his proficiency bonus to all ability checks.

Freedom of Movement.

Pazuzu ignores difficult terrain, and magical effects can't reduce his speed or cause him to be restrained. He can spend 5 feet of movement to escape from nonmagical restraints or being grappled.

Demon Lord's Power.

Pazuzu's spellcasting ability is Charisma (Save DC 23). He can reproduce the effects of any spell, requiring no material components, but is limited by the number of spells he can cast per long rest:
At will: Any 5th-level or lower spell, as well as True Polymorph on himself only.
2/long rest: Any 6th-level spell.
1/long rest: Any 7th-level spell.

Inhuman Speed.

Pazuzu may spend a bonus action to dash or disengage.

Legendary Resistance (3/long rest).

If Pazuzu fails a saving throw, he can choose to succeed instead.

Master Manipulator.

Pazuzu has advantage on his Charisma-based spell attack rolls as well as any ability checks he makes pertaining to social interactions. As a bonus action, Pazuzu may switch places with any creature he can see within 30 feet. 

Tempter of Fate.

A mortal that speaks Pazuzu’s name three times automatically establishes a link between itself and the Prince of Anarchy, creating a telepathic bond between them for as long as both the caller and Pazuzu will it. While in communication with this creature, Pazuzu instantly gains the benefits of detect thoughts and discern lies against it and may immediately discern its alignment. In this fashion, he determines his level of interest in the subject.

If he then wishes, Pazuzu may create an illusory duplicate of himself at the caller's location (regardless of distance or plane) through which he is able to cast spells. He may also cast wish up to once per minute either in person or through his duplicate, as long as the wish is made on behalf of someone whose soul he is corrupting.
Actions

Multiattack.

Pazuzu makes two attacks each with all four of his kukri, and a single attack with his tail sting.

Lamashtu's Teeth (kukri).

Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +14 to hit, reach 10 ft. or range 60 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (1d6 +5 +3 magical) slashing damage. Lamashtu's Teeth return to Pazuzu once thrown, and they ignore resistance to slashing damage.

Tail Sting.

Melee Weapon Attack: +17 to hit, reach 15 ft, one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 +4) piercing damage, and the target must make a DC 23 Constitution saving throw, taking 26 (4d12) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Pazuzu's tail ignores resistance to piercing damage.
Reactions

Wing Shield.

Once per round, when hit by an attack, Pazuzu may use his reaction to block it with his four wings. He makes a Dexterity saving throw (DC equals the attack roll). On a success the attack is negated.
Legendary Actions

Attack.

Pazuzu makes an attack with one of Lamashtu's Teeth.

Detect.

Pazuzu makes a Wisdom (Perception) check.

Move.

Pazuzu moves up to half his speed.

Tail Sting (costs 2 legendary actions).

Pazuzu makes an attack with his tail sting.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Spilled Ale Says: Tropes as a Tool

It is often said that "there are no new stories". This is an issue which has been analysed to death by far smarter people than I, so let's just say that I agree. No matter how unique and special a story might seem, it will still fit into an archetype of which there have been many examples before, and many if not all of the story's parts will have parallels elsewhere in fiction.

As a creative, this doesn't worry me. The way I see it, there are still ways to put together oft-explored ideas to make a whole that isn't quite like what has come before. Additionally, a familiar idea is one that requires less explanation. All audiences will intuitively grasp the hero's journey and similar narrative structures, so prevalent are they in fiction, film, and other creative media.

Just as a writer can use the audience's familiarity with various structures and common tropes to signpost certain things to their readers or even subvert their expectations, we can use similar tools in our campaigns. We want our PCs to have those Big Damn Heroes moments. The party are almost certainly either a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, True Companions, or The Squad. It would be an unusual campaign indeed that doesn't involve one or more Plot Devices.

As DMs we really don't need to fear tropes, or try to avoid them. Players are comfortable with tropes. Therefore if we embrace them, and use them smartly, we can build a world that our players intuitively understand. Subverting tropes should be uncommon, because if the players cannot rely on their intuitive knowledge of how the fictional world should work, they also cannot hope to grasp your intentions for the plot. They'll just bounce around your campaign world, lost and confused, while the plot moves on without them. You'll end up having to railroad them back in the right direction not because they're choosing to deliberately avoid the path but because they cannot see the signposts. But we can subvert tropes if we do it rarely and carefully. When we do choose to do so it has meaning precisely because the audience (our players) expected some other outcome. It stands out, and that makes your players sit up and take notice that this right here is important.

We can also use tropes as a tool to help build characters, particularly with new players or those who find coming up with concepts more difficult. We might list a few tropes to give their imagination a kickstart, such as The Black Mage, The Medic, or The Reluctant Warrior. Hell, we could even just let them loose on TV Tropes and see what they come up with on their own. Another approach might be to ask the player what characters from literature, film, or TV they like, and whether they'd like to a play a character that is similar.

It's easy to be tempted to roll our eyes when a player comes to us with a concept that bears a marked similarity to a popular anime character, or the hero of a fantasy novel. I once received an application who was exactly Eragon, to the point where his written backstory was basically plagiarism. Obviously it's fine to reject a carbon copy, but my recommendation is to first talk to the player about your concerns and work with them to build on the concept until it has something new to offer. Think of the character they're basing their idea on as a template, a starting point. You and the player can trim something here, bolt on something new there, until the character is familiar enough to be comfortable for the player but different enough to bring something worthwhile to the game.

Tropes could also become a team building tool. It's very common for characters to be built in isolation. How often have you been part of a game where two or more players turn up to the table with characters with overlapping shticks? This is why I would always recommend a "session 0", in which characters are created in a collaborative environment. As part of that, you might ask your players to think not just about what race and class they want to be, but also which member of a team trope. If you happen to have five players, perfect—why not consider the Five Man Band? If you have three characters, consider selecting one or more Power Trio subtropes. Or there's the Four Temperament Ensemble.

For DMs, knowledge of tropes can actually be a useful analytical tool for your game. I guarantee you're using them even if you're not consciously aware of it. More awareness of tropes and the way they fit together might make you despair that your story isn't original, but as I've mentioned that's an impossible ask anyway. Embrace the tropes in your game, use them as foundational building blocks, and learn how to combine and subvert them more effectively. In closing, I'll just repeat that tropes aren't necessarily a bad thing. They're a tool in your toolbox, like any other, and if you're going to be using them subconsciously anyway you might as well embrace them!

Friday, 7 April 2017

5e: Product Highlight —Draconomicon: Gem Dragons

Spilled Ale Studios has a new product up on Dungeon Masters Guild!

Draconomicon: Gem Dragons contains six new dragons with full write-ups, lair actions, regional effects, and twenty-four statblocks (wyrmling through ancient for all six dragon types. The gem dragons are fifth edition conversions of dragons that have previously appeared in past editions of the world's most famous fantasy roleplaying game. They fill a gap left by the chromatic and metallic dragons, as their alignments are split over the neutral spectrum rather than tending towards good or evil. They are also inherently psionic, as opposed to innately magical like the dragons in the Monster Manual.

Each dragon in this collection does include psionic abilities, but they are optional. If you wish to use their psionic abilities you'll need to pick up the most recent version of the Mystic (as of April 2017) in Unearthed Arcana. You can run the dragon just fine without them, however.

Draconomicon: Gem Dragons is the sixth entry in Spilled Ale Studios' Draconomicon series, which also includes the Orange, Purple, and Yellow Dragons (also conversions) Mantragons (an original creation), and the Dragonbound: a playable class that lets you adventure with a dragon companion. I'll be adding more conversions and all-new creations alike to the series going forward.

This also seems as good a time as any to draw your attention to our new product page! If you want to find this later, look for the "catalogue" link under Our Products on the bar to the right.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

5e: Avatars of the Gods — Valkur, God of Sailors and Naval Warfare

Next in line for my treatment of statblocks for powerful entities is Valkur. The party in my game have had no direct contact with members of Valkur's church as yet (that they know of, anyway). Yet naval power is by no means alien to the game, and it's possible Valkur is involved somehow. After all, the joint Tethyrian and Lantanna expedition had to cross the waters to reach Osse, bringing with them a small fleet of ships. Recent reinforcements in light of the threat of the Aeree-Quor have included three powerful warships from Lantan. Like the Red Knight, Valkur is also a god of battle and both of them are exarchs of Tempus (also known as Kord in our version of the Realms)—they are known allies.

Let's touch on that term "exarch" for a minute: it's a very hazy term that means he is one step below a patron god in the divine hierarchy. But that isn't as clear-cut as you might think. In the Realms, an exarch themselves could be a a demigod or other type of lesser deity, an archangel, or even a mortal granted great power as one of the patron deity's "chosen". "Exarch" isn't exactly a useful term in defining an entity's actual power, therefore. For my purposes I'm assuming that the Red Knight and Valkur are both lesser deities who were once mortal, that were raised up to their divine status by and are loyal to Tempus/Kord.

And what do these statblocks mean when they describe the gods as "avatars"? In the Realms, an avatar is the physical manifestation of a deity when they walk the mortal world. The avatar is usually significantly less power than the deity would be in their true divine form, but still very powerful for all that. The deity still has much of their divine might at their fingertips, and can continue to grant spells to their divine worshippers all over the world. But an avatar can be slain. Usually, this isn't a problem, for the avatar is a mere vessel through which the deity interacts with the mortal world. The death of the avatar does not mean the death of the deity.

In the Time of Troubles, however, the gods have been forced to walk Toril in their avatar forms. In this time period, the avatar and the deity are one and the same, and slaying a god in their avatar form may well result in their permanent death and the sudden availability of their divine portfolio.

As such, many of the deities are presently lying low, at least in as much as it is possible for them to do so. Yet Tempus and his exarchs are gods of action! I can't see them not getting involved in world events, one way or another.

Valkur (Avatar)
Medium divinity (avatar), chaotic good

Armor Class

20 (+3 studded leather armor)

Hit Points

744 (48d20 + 240)

Speed

60 ft., swim 60 ft.
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
20 20 20 20 20 20

Saving Throws

All +14

Skills

All +14

Damage Resistances

bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks

Damage Immunities

poison, psychic

Condition Immunities

charmed, exhaustion, frightened, incapacitated, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, stunned

Senses

true sight within line of sight, tremorsense 120 ft.

Languages

All, telepathy within line of sight.

Challenge

30 (155,000 XP)

Freedom of Movement.

Valkur ignores difficult terrain, and magical effects can't reduce his speed or cause him to be restrained. He can spend 5 feet of movement to escape from nonmagical restraints or being grappled.

Godly Magic.

Valkur's spellcasting ability is Charisma (Save DC 22). He can reproduce the effects of any spell, requiring no material components, but is limited by the number of spells he can cast per long rest:
At will: Any 5th-level or lower spell.
4/long rest: Any 6th-level spell.
3/long rest: Any 7th-level spell.
2/long rest: Any 8th-level spell.
1/long rest: Any 9th-level spell.

Godly Mastery.

Valkur adds his proficiency bonus to all ability checks.

Godly Resilience.

Valkur adds his proficiency bonus to all saving throws. He does not need to eat, drink, breathe, or sleep, but can do any of these if he wishes. Magic cannot put him to sleep, and he cannot be polymorphed or scried unless he wishes it. His maximum hit points cannot be reduced (such as by a wraith's Life Drain ability).

Inhuman Speed.

Valkur may spend a bonus action to dash or disengage.

Legendary Resistance (3/long rest).

If Valkur fails a saving throw, he can choose to succeed instead.

Call the Tides.

Wherever he is, Valkur can summon great waves that dash boats, batter enemies, and submerge the land. As an action, Valkur reproduces the effects of the tidal wave spell (see the Elemental Evil Player's Companion), except that the area of the wave is twice as big. After the wave spreads across the land, it submerges a 60-foot radius circle centred on the midpoint of the original tidal wave in shallow water, which remains until Valkur no longer wills it, and counts as difficult terrain.  

Wave Walker.

Valkur is permanently considered to be under the effect of the water walk spell, though he can always choose to submerge himself if he wishes. While he is in or atop the water, or on a waterborne vessel, Valkur has advantage on all attack rolls, all saving throws, and any ability checks he makes pertaining to sailing, swimming, or other water-related activities.
Actions

Multiattack.

Valkur makes five attacks with his cutlass.

The Captain's Cutlass (scimitar).

Melee Weapon Attack: +16 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d6 +5 +2 magical) slashing damage. The Captain's Cutlass ignores resistance to slashing damage and has all the properties of a scimitar of speed (DMG pg. 199) and a weapon of warning (DMG pg. 213). In addition, it deals an extra 2d10 radiant damage to any creature with a natural swim speed.
Legendary Actions

Attack.

Valkur makes an attack with the Captain's cutlass or another melee weapon.

Detect.

Valkur makes a Wisdom (Perception) check.

Move.

Valkur moves up to half his speed.

Godly Resistance (costs 3 legendary actions).

At the end of histhird legendary action, Valkur regains one use of Legendary Resistance.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

5e: Oblate Orders — The Order of the Prognosticators Militant

Important Notice!

— The Prognosticator Militant is now on DMsGuild! —



The Prognosticator Militant archetype first presented here has been polished up and made available to download from DMsGuild.com as a Pay What You Want product. Please consider downloading it from there and making a small contribution to support the continued development of this blog and other Spilled Ale Studios products!

Purchase it here.

Oblate Orders: Prognosticators Militant Cover © RDD Wilkin / Spilled Ale Studios.



Founded and chiefly operating in Tethyr, where the head abbey of the order can be found in the Omlarandin Mountains, the Order of the Prognosticators Militant is a sect of warrior monks dedicated to the Red Knight that seeks out children with divinatory gifts. These potential initiates are offered training to control and channel their gifts, and the chance at a great purpose. While the separation of a family is always a sad thing, many parents of such uniquely gifted children are glad to know that their child will receive the attention and magical education they deserve.

Monks of the Order are encouraged to explore their ability as an oracle, and trained as lethal warriors. Their unique gifts of foresight will help the Order predict moments of military significance that may change the fate of Tethyr, and their martial skill will aid them in helping to secure the correct future whenever a prophecy offers branching possibilities. Typically such seers as the Order recruits are blind, the price they pay for their sight beyond sight. Yet they are taught to channel their divinatory powers to replace their eyes. In spite of their eyeless masks they flow gracefully through combat entirely unimpeded, a sight to instill fear in any foe.

Members of the Order are an unwelcome sight during times of peace, for it may herald war on the horizon. During times of war, they are an invaluable aid which any Tethyrian officer will gladly accept.

Other abbeys of the Order may have been established in other nations where the Red Knight has a following, and may seek to assist their local government in the same way. Members of the Order may also travel further afield than Tethyr's borders in search of new candidates for membership, or they could be encountered far from their home undertaking a quest the significance of which they saw in a vision and felt they could not ignore. Alternatively, your character may be a member of a similar order established in the religious traditions of another god of War, or even without religious trappings.

To use this monastic order in other settings than the Forgotten Realms, simply replace the Red Knight with an appropriate god of War or completely divorce the order from its current religious attachment.


A Prognosticator Militant in Action!

Sight Without Sight 

Unlike other monastic traditions, you must select the Order of the Prognosticators Militant at 1st level, due to one of the archetype's most defining features: you are blind, but you "see" using your innate divinatory skill.

The scene you see in your mind's eye is exactly what a creature with normal sight would see, and you gain all the benefits and restrictions of the senses your race possesses. For instance, if you are human you are still effectively blinded while in darkness, for darkness is all you can see in your mind's eye.

However, you do foresee danger to yourself just before it happens, and thus you can take reactions even when surprised.

You are blinded if you cannot use your magic, such as while you're within an area of anti-magic.

War Oracle

Starting at 3rd level, you learn magical disciplines that harness your divinatory talent to increase your lethality in combat, as well as your ability to guide your allies. You know the Auspicious Advice and Guide the Hand disciplines and one other war oracle discipline of your choice, which are details in the "War Oracle Disciplines" section below. You learn two additional war oracle disciplines of your choice at 6th, 11th, and 17th level. Whenever you gain a new level in this class, you can also replace one war oracle discipline that you already know with a different discipline.

If a war oracle discipline requires a saving throw, the DC is based on your Wisdom if the discipline reproduces a spell. If the discipline does not reproduce a spell, the ability used is specified by the discipline and is usually either Dexterity or Wisdom.

War Oracle spell saving throw DC = 8 + your Wisdom modifier + your Proficiency
War Oracle discipline saving throw DC = 8 + specified ability modifier + your Proficiency

Casting War Oracle Spells. Some war oracle disciplines allow you to cast spells. To cast one of these spells you use the casting time and other rules, but you don't need to provide material components for it.


Once you reach 5th level in this class, you can spend additional ki points to increase the level of an war oracle discipline spell that you cast, provided that the spell has an enhanced effect at a higher level, as bane or bless does. The spell's level increases by 1 for each additional ki point you spend. For example, if you are a 5th -level monk and use Words are Weapons; Sayings are Shieldsto cast either bane or bless , you can spend 2 ki points to cast it as a  2nd level spell (the discipline's base cost of 1 ki points plus 1 additional kit point).

The maximum number of ki points you can spend to cast a spell in this way (including its base ki point cost and any additional ki points you spend to increase its level) is determined by your monk level, as shown in the War Oracle Spells and Ki Points table.

War Oracle Spells and Ki Points

Monk Levels Maximum Ki Per Spell
5th-8th 3
9th-12th 4
13th-16th 5
17th-20th 6

War Oracle Disciplines

The war oracle disciplines are presented in alphabetical order. If a discipline requires a level, you must be that level in this class to learn the discipline.

Auspicious Advice. You peer a short distance into the future and use your foreknowledge to guide yourself or others. As an action you can briefly instruct an ally within thirty feet who can hear you, or you can opt to use this ability on yourself with no verbal requirement. Any time in the next minute, the target can roll a d4 and add the number rolled to one ability check of its choice. The target can roll the die before or after making the ability check. You must concentrate on this ability as though it were a spell.

Battle Augur. You predict a sequence of attacks that will leave your foe more and more vulnerable to your onslaught, and set about enacting it. Immediately after you take the Attack action on your turn, you can spend 1 ki point to activate your Battle Augur for the remainder of the round. Whenever you hit a creature with an attack, the next attack you make against the same creature before the beginning of your next turn is made with advantage.

Certain Step (11th Level Required). Your ability to see the possibilities and outcomes of the battle allows you to move with certainty down the most optimal and efficient path. You can spend 3 ki points to gain all the benefits of haste except the spell's doubled movement. However, neither do you suffer the lethargy that applies to the target of a haste spell after it ends.


Exhausting Evasion (6th Level Required). You know exactly when and where your enemy will strike, so you can avoid their attacks with minimal effort. They, on the other hand, quickly tire as they keep chasing a phantom. Whenever an enemy creature attacks you more than once on its turn and misses you as many or more times than it hits, you can spend 3 ki points to force them to make a Constitution saving throw with a DC based on your Dexterity. On a failed saving throw, the target receives 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 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.

Glance Afar (11th Level Required). You can cast clairvoyance once per long rest.

Glimpse of the Future (6th Level Required). You can spend 2 ki points to cast augury, or 0 ki points to cast it as a ritual.

Guide the Hand. As an action you can glean a brief insight into the defenses of a single target within thirty feet. On your next turn, you gain advantage on your first Attack roll against the target. You must concentrate on this ability as though it were a spell.

Perceive Doom. You know when you are destined to bring about of foe's downfall. You can spend 1 ki point to cast hunter's mark.

Peril Prevision. Once per long rest, you can spend one minute sifting through your potential futures and preparing for what lies ahead. When you do so, you spend 1 or 2 ki points. From 11th-level you can spend up to 3 ki points, and from 17th-level you can spend up to 4 ki points. If you have 0 ki when you roll initiative between now and your next long rest, you regain a number of ki points equal to twice the amount you spent. Any ki gained in this manner stack with the ki gained from Perfect Self.

Prophecies of Protection. You can spend 1 ki point to cast shield of faith, except the creature's AC bonus comes from your continuous warnings about upcoming dangers. The effect ends immediately if the creature can no longer hear you.

Seek Clarity (17th Level Required). You can spend 4 ki points to cast divination, or 0 ki points to cast it as a ritual. While the sorts of reply you might receive are the same, the response to your question always comes in visual or audio form or a combination of the two.


Startling Aspect. The sight of you darting through the battlefield in your faceless mask, unerringly avoiding all attacks and striking with lethal accuracy, is unnerving to say the least. Once per turn, when your movement takes you in and out of an enemy's reach, and they either miss their opportunity attack or don't take one, you can spend 1 ki point to force them to make a Wisdom saving throw with a DC based on your Dexterity. On a failed saving throw, the target is shaken until the end of its next turn. On a success, you cannot attempt to cause the target to be shaken again during the same encounter. At 6th level you can use your Startling Aspect up to twice per turn, at 11th level you can use it up to three times per turn, and at 17th level you can use it up to four times per turn.

If a creature moves 5 feet or more or takes the dash or disengage action on their turn while they are shaken, they have disadvantage on all attacks and ability checks made in the same turn.

Track Creature (17th Level Required). You can cast locate creature once per long rest.

Track Treasure (6th Level Required). You can cast locate object once per long rest.

Visions of the Past (17th Level Required). You can cast legend lore once per long rest, except the information comes to you in a series of visions of past events that reveal the pertinent facts about your target.

Visions of the Present (17th Level Required). You can cast scrying once per long rest.

Words are Weapons; Sayings are Shields. You can spend 1 ki point to cast either bless or bane. Allies can only gain the advantage of your bless if they can hear your words of advice. Enemies affected by your bane only suffer disadvantage against your allies who were within thirty feet of you when you cast the spell and could hear your words of warning.