Thursday, 24 May 2018

5e: 11 Magic Items For Mounts

The following selection of magic items are intended not for your characters, but rather the animals they ride.

Caparison of Pageantry

Wondrous item, Common

While your steed is wearing this layer of decorative cloth, you can use a bonus action to changes its appearance, including style, design of patterns or symbols, colour, and its apparent quality.

Fiery Horseshoes

Wondrous item, Rare (requires attunement by a mount)

These iron horseshoes come in a set of four. They are blackened, as though scorched.

When wearing these horseshoes, your horse adds 2d6 fire damage to every attack it makes with its hooves. Furthermore, its hooves attacks are magical.

Foul Barding

Armour (any barding), Rare

This dark, forboding barding bears a strong resemblance to eithere a fiendish creature or something alien from the Far Realms.

The barding has 3 charges. While it is worn and attuned by your steed, you can use an action and expend 1 charge to cause each creature within a 30-foot radius of the mount to make a DC 15 saving throw. On a failed save they become frightened of the mount for 1 minute. While it is frightened in this way, a creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from the mount as it can, and it can't willingly move to a space within 30 feet of the mount. It also can't take reactions. For its action, it can use only the Dash action or try to escape from an effect that prevents it from moving. If it has nowhere it can move, the creature can use the Dodge action. At the end of each of its turns, a creature can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success.

The barding regains 1d3 expended charges daily at the stroke of midnight.

Gleaming Barding

Armour (any metal barding), Common

This barding gleams like new, seeming to repel any signs of dirt or tarnish.

Horseshoes of Falsehood

Wondrous item, Common

These iron horseshoes come in a set of four. There is nothing untoward about their appearance.

When you shoe your horse with these items, you choose one four-legged, large-sized creature. While the horse wears the horseshoes you can choose whether it leaves normal tracks or those of the chosen creature.

Horseshoes of Sharpness

Wondrous item, Uncommon (requires attunement by a mount)

These iron horseshoes come in a set of four. They cut deep if touched carelessly.

When wearing these horseshoes, your horse adds 1d6 slashing damage to every attack it makes with its hooves. Furthermore, its hooves attacks are magical.

Horseshoes of Surety

Wondrous item, Uncommon (requires attunement by a mount)

These iron horseshoes come in a set of four, and are grooved on one side.

When wearing these horseshoes, your mount ignores nonmagical difficult terrain, and has advantage on ability checks it makes to keep its balance or grip on a surface.

Saddlebags of Substantiality

Wondrous item, Rare

These resemble a pair of finely made saddlebags. However, each contains an extradimensional space.

Each bag can hold up to 10 cubic feet or 100 pounds of material, not exceeding a volume of 2 cubic feet. The saddlebags always weigh only 8 lbs. no matter what they contain.

Placing an object in a saddlebag follows the normal rules for interacting with objects. Retrieving an item from the saddlebag requires you to use an action. When you reach into a saddlebag for a specific item, the item is always magically on top.

The saddlebags have a few limitations. If one is overloaded, or if a sharp object pierces it or tears it, the saddlebag ruptures and is destroyed. The enchantment on the other saddlebag fails immediately, and if it contains heavier or larger items than a normal saddlebag could contain it is also destroyed. The contents of a destroyed saddlebag are lost forever, although an artifact always turns up again somewhere. If a saddlebag is turned inside out, its contents spill forth, unharmed, and the saddlebag must be put right before it can be used again. If a breathing creature is placed within the saddlebag, the creature can survive for up to 10 minutes, after which time it begins to suffocate.

Placing the saddlebags inside an extradimensional space created by a bag of holding, handy haversack, portable hole, another saddlebag of substantiality, or any similar item instantly destroys both items and opens a gate to the Astral Plane. The gate originates where the one item was placed inside the other. Any creature within 10 feet of the gate is sucked through it and deposited in a random location on the Astral Plane. The gate then closes. The gate is one-way only and can't be reopened.

Summoning Whistle

Wondrous item, varies (requires attunement by a mount or animal companion)

This unassuming whistle holds great magic. When you blow it it is silent, but your loyal steed or animal companion hears and obeys your summons.

Once the whistle is attuned to a creature it can be blown to summon that creature to your current location. The creature is teleported, arriving at the beginning of your next turn to the nearest level ground where they can safely appear.

Three varieties of Summoning Whistle exist:

The Lesser Summoning Whistle is an Uncommon item. It summons the creature from anywhere on the same plane as yourself, but brings them as is. If they aren't prepared and already wearing barding, saddle, and other items when you summon them, they arrive without those items.

The Greater Summoning Whistle is a Very Rare item. It summons the creature from anywhere on the same plane as yourself. When you attune the whistle you can designate four items that appear along with the creature, miraculously equipped: a saddle, a set of barding, a set of horse tack, and a set of saddlebags. You can re-attune the whistle to change the designated items.

The Planar Summoning Whistle is a Legendary item. It summons the creature from anywhere, even if you're on a different plane. It is otherwise identical to the Greater Summoning Whistle.

Unicorn Tack

Wondrous item, Rare

Although called tack, this is actually a delicate silver headpiece worn on the mount's head, with a fine pendant the shape of a straight spiral horn.

Intelligent mounts don't generally consent to traditional tack, and good-aligned characters lack the hard-heartedness to try and force them. Unicorn tack is the solution. While a mount is attuned to the tack, the mount and its rider can establish telepathic contact with each other as a free action. If they wish, they may also share surface thoughts. While sharing surface thoughts the mount and rider effectively share senses, and are thus able to react to things perceived by their partner as though they themselves had noticed.

Winged Saddle

Wondrous item, Very Rare (requires attunement by a mount)

This fine leather saddle has a small, decorative set of wings that emerge from either side of the pommel. They are decorated either to look like the bright feathers of a couatl, or mimic a fiend's bat-like wings.

While your steed is wearing this saddle, you can use an action to speak its command word. Magical wings sprout from the steed's back, and the saddle's magic also soothes the mount, implanting in its mind the knowledge, instinct, and courage to allow it to fly. The mount gains a flying speed of 90 feet for 1 hour or until you repeat the command word as an action. If the effect ends while the mount is still airborne, the wings remain long enough for it to descend to the ground safely. During this period, the mount can't use the wings for any purpose other than to control its descent. The wings disappear when the mount is on the ground, and you can't use them again for 1d12 hours.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Fifth Edition Fallout Q&A

Today's blog post is for fans of Fifth Edition Fallout! I've received a few suggestions and questions since I first released the rules, and I thought I'd compile my answers here.


Why not break up the Ghoul species into Pre-War and Post-War?

I did think about it, but I couldn't think of a way to do it that I was happy with. What ability score bonuses and features would the Post-War Ghoul have? Why would they be different? I was trying to come up with diverse mechanics for mechanics sake, and it just didn't fit the lore. Ultimately the only thing different is the Ghoul's age... and a Post-War Ghoul could still be pretty ancient.

If your player wants to be a ghoul who's only recently turned and doesn't have the years of life experience that the +2 Intelligence is supposed to represent, consider just flipping the bonus: +2 Con, +1 Int.

Will there be backgrounds that reference the NCR, the Master's Army, New Vegas, a generic wastelander background, and the gangs at New Vegas?

I think all of these except perhaps "generic wastelander" are technically covered by using or slightly adjusting existing backgrounds. I'd certainly like to add more backgrounds for specific in-game factions, but it's not a priority right now as I think modifying the existing Fifth Edition Fallout backgrounds, or clever reskinning of the D&D game's available backgrounds, ought to cover most other concepts. My number one task for Fifth Edition Fallout for the time being is still to complete the bestiary.


Will you add the weapons and armour from previous games?

Weapons: Yes, if they're unique enough or there is design space for them between other weapons. But:
  1. I don't consider it a high priority as there's a very good weapon selection already.
  2. One issue is how to integrate them with the Fallout 4 style modification system. Adding weapons from older games leaves me in the position of deciding for myself what modifications that weapon can have. That's why so far I've only added the .357 revolver (which was easy to rule as having similar modification access to the .45 revolver) and the K-9000 (a unique heavy weapon with no modifications).

Armour: No plans to add more. The piecemeal armour system is deliberately generic so you can describe your light, medium, and heavy armour pieces as whatever you want them to be. I'm fairly confident that all canonical power armours are also represented when you factor in the available modifications. If I'm wrong, do tell me.

Will you be adding legendary weapon modifications? What about implants?

Whether I need to add either is something I've honestly gone back and forth over.

On the one hand, it'd be pretty easy for a GM who wanted to include either to treat them as magic items (or in the case of implants, perhaps "supernatural gifts" from DMG pg. 227). A D&D GM can easily add fire damage to a weapon to make a legendary gun without me showing them how!

On the other hand, I can see the value in providing a list so that each GM doesn't have to do the work for every campaign. So perhaps I will at some point. For now, the priority is the monster statblocks.

Should there be a medium helmet to go with medium armour? It seems like you can't complete the medium armour set.

No, this is intentional. Helmets are not treated as part of a complete armour set. A "set" includes the chest piece and all four limbs. That's why the rules list Light Armour, Medium Armour, and Heavy Armour, then Helmets and Shields as separate categories. Shields and helmets are worn optionally and can be worn with light, medium, or heavy armour. To help clarify in the future I've added a note to that effect to help clarify.

Technically there is a "heavy helmet", but that's a modification to the standard helmet rather than its own category. Making a helmet heavy is bulking them out (making them unwieldy). For instance a wastelander taking an American Football helmet and bolting metal plates to it, or something similar.

The hunting rifle uses .308 and deals 2d6 damage. Its caliber can be upgraded to .50 to deal 2d8 damage. The combat rifle deals 2d8 damage and its caliber can be upgraded to .308 to deal 2d8 damage. What gives?

The ammo type is only part of the formula for the weapon's damage potential. Actually calling it a formula is misleading, though there are some rules I abided by when designing these weapons. But not all of it was logical, some of it involved my gut. When converting from the video game stats I had to make best guesses at things like damage dice, considering game balance, and bend a bit in the interests of a varied and reasonably balanced weapons table.

Hunting Rifle vs Combat Rifle is a good example actually, because the Combat Rifle in Fallout 4 deals 33 damage to the Hunting Rifle's 37. So why flip the damage so that the Combat Rifle is more powerful in 5e Fallout? That's because the video game also has a Fire Rate stat, and the Combat Rifle's was 33 vs the Hunting Rifle's 3. It's hard to model in 5e's action system, but the Combat Rifle's overall damage was higher.

2d6 is also decent damage for what you might call the "Tier 1" weapons - weapons that PCs might reasonably be carrying at game start. Notice how the hunting rifle's the only weapon on the Rifles table with a cost under 100 caps! This makes it much more feasible as a starting weapon. The other rifles in the table can generally be imagined as "Tier 2" weapons (with the Gauss Rifle and Railway Rifle making up a "Tier 3"). Low CR raiders tend to carry pipe weapons, so it might be a little while before a player can afford or loot one to replace their hunting rifle... and even then, it still might be worth keeping around for its long range advantage, particularly for a sniper type character.

Speaking of, if you happen to be combining Fifth Edition Fallout with my Wasteland Wanderers supplement, another facet gets added to the hunting rifle's value. It arguably becomes the most attractive choice for the Scout's Old Reliable class feature.

One of our players is seeking a high powered sniper style weapon, see the Anti-Materiel Rifle from Fallout: New Vegas. Do you have any intention of adding a rifle that has the base caliber of .50?

You can build a high powered sniper rifle using the existing rules. And actually, that high powered sniper rifle is a pretty good match for the Anti-Materiel Rifle!

I would choose the hunting rifle as the base for this sniper rifle because it results in the most accurate model of the Anti-Materiel Rifle. Apply the following mods:

  • Caliber upgrade to .50. This is actually correct for the materiel rifle we're trying to build and increases the damage to 2d8.
  • Hardened receiver. this adds +1 damage per damage die. It's essentially increasing the weapon's average damage to the same as 2d10 while also increasing the minimum possible damage from 2 to 4.
  • Long barrel. Increases both short and long range by 20 feet.
  • Any kind of Scope. Doubles the short range, and causes the weapon a third d8 on a critical hit.
  • Large Magazine. Doubles the ammo capacity from 5 to 10. Technically the materiel rifle had 8, but who's quibbling?

At this point, our Anti-Materiel Rifle's damage is:
Base damage: 4-18 (avg. 11) per hit.
Critical damage: 6-27 (avg. 16.5) per crit.

That's pretty powerful! Without factoring in the sniper themselves, too. Assuming any competent sniper has at least a +3 Dex, that sniper would actually be doing 7-21 (avg. 14) or 9-30 (avg. 19.5) on a crit. At their best, the sniper would have a +5 mod so it'd be 9-23 (avg. 16) or 11-32 (avg. 21.5)!

If I were to add an actual entry to the the weapons table for the materiel rifle (which I'm on the fence about considering I've figured out how to make one with the existing rules), I'd probably aim to make its stats similar to the highly modified hunting rifle described above, but applying the design principles underlying the rest of the base weapons on the table, so it wouldn't be an exact match.

The stats would be as follows:
Price: 5,600 caps (not available for sale from most vendors).
Damage: 2d10 piercing
Weight: 20 lb.
Ammo: .50
Range: 170/255
Other Properties: Reload (8 rounds), two-handed
Allowed Modifications: Night Vision Scope, Recon Scope
Special Properties: The Anti-Materiel Rifle comes with a Scope as standard, increasing its short range (already included in its range) and causing it to deal an additional die of damage on a critical hit.

Given the extremely high price of this item, I'd consider giving it another special property - dealing double damage to objects, including vehicles and power armour pieces.

Can my character replace a tool proficiency, such as the handheld musical instrument granted by the Courier background, to be proficient in a Pip-Boy?

They're both tool proficiencies, so technically yes, but it'd ultimately be up to your GM. For what it's worth, it is considerably more useful to have Pip-Boy proficiency than knowing how to play a harmonica (provided you own a Pip-Boy of course), and starting with a Pip-Boy is meant to be a big part of the attraction of the Vault Raised background.

Yes, the Courier gets a Pip-Boy at the beginning of New Vegas. But convenient amnesia aside, they aren't actually a 1st level character. Really they're an experienced traveller who receives a Pip-Boy as a quest item from Doc Mitchell, probably a few levels into their adventuring career. Doc Mitchell had the Pip-Boy because he was Vault Raised. 


In 5e being Prone and attacking with a ranged weapon gives disadvantage, but my players are thinking that it shouldn't since firearms are very different. What are your thoughts?

Ultimately, this is definitely a GM call but I'm happy to stick my oar into the debate.

The TL;DR version of my opinion is "the RAW is normally fine, but consider context".

  1. The game already has similar weapons to firearms - crossbows (and actual firearms if you consider the optional rules in the DMG). WotC didn't think either of these needed different Prone rules.
  2. Mostly when you end up prone in a combat scenario it's because you were knocked down by an enemy, not an advantageous position to attack from regardless of the weapon you wield.
  3. Combats are generally assumed to take place with the participants either on top of each other or relatively short distances apart. At these distances, even if you go prone deliberately and carefully line up your shot, you're basically aiming at people's legs and you'll not be able to react as fast to your targets moving around as you would if you were on your feet. You might also find yourself dealing with a lot of cover, since 1/2 cover is often low walls/fencing etc.
So in short, I think in most scenarios it's fine for prone to impose disadvantage.

However, if the character is in a high place overlooking the scene, if they've got a tripod or some other appropriate rest for the barrel of their weapon, then they're in a perfect position. Context would probably suggest the disadvantage should not apply. And that'd be fine, and the ruling I'd make in that scenario. I'd make the same ruling for a crossbow wielder in 5e!

Got questions of your own?

Do you have any questions about Fifth Edition Fallout? Please leave a comment or drop me a line on twitter!

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Spilled Ale Studios: State of the Spilled Ale Address

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog front, and I think it's high time I post an update! There's a few reasons I've not been as proactive with blog content as I would like to be, some personal, others because of productivity in other areas. It's on these latter I'd like to focus—so, what have I been up to?

Those of you who follow me on twitter likely already know that Spilled Ale Studios has not been completely off the grid. I've pushed a few products out in the last few months. Back in mid-March I posted an update about Heroes of Song and the first issue of Monstrous Monograph. Since then, without any fanfare on the blog, another issue of Monstrous Monograph was released.

Monstrous Monograph: Humanoids Volume I

This volume of the Monstrous Monograph is slightly larger than previous installment, clocking in at 12 pages. This time the focus is on new humanoid species, grouped by theme—specifically, all four of the included species might be found living in or around deserts and arid plains.
  • Anubans are a species of jackal-like humanoids inspired by ancient egyptian culture and the egyptian pantheon. Anubans believe Anubis, the god of the afterlife, to be head of the pantheon (rather than Ra-Horakhty), and they look forward to the day they will join their creator in the underworld. As such, they have no fear of death. Anubans make no distinction between arcane and divine magic, believing both to be gifts from the gods. As such anuban priests practice wizardry. Statblocks include the CR 3 Anuban Priest, the CR 7 Anuban High Priest, and the CR 3 Anuban Tomb Watcher, a kind of guardian mummy that protects the tombs of important anuban figures. 
  • Bardar are a race of energy vampires who can absorb the life of a person simply through touch. They believe themselves a superior species, and are a greedy, selfish breed. They dwell in imposing walled cities, and are universally despised by their neighbours due to their proclivities toward conquest and slave-taking.    Statblocks include the CR 2 Bardar Tempest, elite soldiers drawn from the lesser aristocracy, and the CR 3 Bardar Fury, brutal martial artists who act as enforcers for the Autocrat.  
  • Khione are a planetouched bloodline descended from the Dao, genies of Earth. Though as flexible as normal flesh, their bodies resemble stone, giving them the appearance of living statues. Khione society is matriarchal, and the vast majority of their culture's positions of power and influence belong to women. Statblocks include the CR 5 Khione Cyclone, a scimitar-wielding dervish, and the CR 6 Khione Priestess.
  • The CR 2 Kisarans are seminomadic feline humanoids. They are exceptional hunters, training with a bow from childhood. Master archers, kisarans head out on a ritual hunt as a rite of passage into adulthood. Some never return, instead choosing to explore other lands. Such individuals invariably end up as mercenaries, earning their way with their exceptional archery skills. 
  • Included statblocks represent the most unique members of a given race's society. For more varied encounters with members of these species, pair the statblocks here with others from the monstrous manual's Appendix B: Nonplayer Characters. 
There's a bit of extra content in this one, too! Because all the "monsters" this time are humanoid, I decided to include racial bonuses in case you want to allow them as player options. In addition, some of the statblocks use new spells, the rules for all of which are fleshed out in an appendix, "Monstrous Magics". The appendix includes four new cantrips and spells: earthlord's fury, sand blast, sand shell, and sand sword

Elminster's Eldritch Esoterica: Power of Blood

Today, I also released the first in what I hope will become a new product line providing supplementary rules for unconventional magical practices.

Elminster is, of course, the Archmage of Shadowdale. One of the most famous nonplayer characters of the Forgotten Realms, it's only possible to use Elminster's name thanks to the terms of the DM'sGuild license. That means you'll find this issue, and any others, exclusively on that platform.

The first volume of the new collection is Power of Blood, which provides a simple take on "Blood Magic". The idea is this: all magic has a cost, and usually that amounts to tapping some of the caster's personal reserve of magical power (spell slots). However, some spells are particularly draining. Over the course of millennia, spellcasters have learned to pay magic's price in other ways so such spells don't drain too much of their power. These sacrifices have become material, codified as material components of significant value (those with gold piece values). However, there are other ways to pay the toll of such draining spells. Perhaps the oldest method is sacrificing some of one's own vitality, or stealing that life force from others.

Power of Blood provides rules for using one's own hit points to offset the absence of a material component. Also included is guidance for stealing the blood of others, including use of the blood of an enemy mid-battle.

Valiant Vigilantes!

I've begun work on a game of superheroic roleplaying intended to let the group play members of a non-powered crimefighting team (think Batman and the other members of the "Bat Family"). I'm building the rules using Cortex, the system by Cam Banks of Magic Vacuum Design Studio, who developed it for Margaret Weis Productions. Variations of Cortex have been used in many RPGs for licensed properties including Firefly, Leverage, Smallville, and Marvel Heroic Roleplaying (the latter two proving it works just fine for superheroic play!). As with D&D's OGL, there's a community creator program for Cortex which I'm taking advantage of. A new toolkit version of the system—Cortex Prime—is also due to release very soon! My current aim for Valiant Vigilantes! is to finish the rules and get most of the writing done asap, then seek funding (eg. via Kickstarter) for art, an editor, etc. The goal is that the finished product will be released as PDF and print on demand (with the kickstarter including backer options that include a print on demand voucher). This push is probably the largest reason for my relative inactivity here on the blog.

Okay, so what about Fifth Edition Fallout?

Great question! I've definitely not forgotten about Fifth Edition Fallout, but I'm not working on updates at the same feverish pace I was maintaining before.

At this stage, Fifth Edition Fallout is completely usable:
  • A fully functioning rules hack.
  • Plenty of player options, eg. backgrounds, lots and lots of equipment, and exhaustive advice on which official classes and archetypes can work for post-apocalyptic play, along with how to adapt them.
  • Optionally, my Wasteland Wanderers product replaces the core game's classes and archetypes with options suitable for post-apocalyptic play. Naturally, this product works perfectly combined with Fifth Edition Fallout, enhancing the hack yet further.
  • At last count, 273 monster statblocks! Not including a few variant options described in sidebars.
  • Did I mention the 1st-level adventure I wrote, A Date With the Queen? Well I probably should. It's a good way to start your campaign or to test out the rules before you get going with your own.

Is there more I can add? Sure. A few people have mentioned backgrounds or weapons they'd like to see added, and there are types of monsters and NPC factions missing from the bestiary (the Enclave and Synths, for instance). And I sure as heck want to keep fleshing out my homebrew setting, Fallen Britain. Do I need to add any of that urgently? I'm pretty sure I don't. With the sheer amount of included content, a GM can already run a campaign for a good long time without having to worry about what's missing. A few GMs already are!

If you've not discovered it yet, may I draw your attention to the DumpStatCharisma crew's King's Ransom? They've set their game in the wasteland of Seattle, and are having a nuclear blast!

That's not all! Forgebreaker Gaming have announced their own game: The Brotherhood. They've decided to modify the rules somewhat for their game (which is fine by me—Fifth Edition Fallout is a rules hack, by all means hack it some more!), but the work I've done is right there at the core.

I'm surprised and humbled that two streaming groups have already adopted Fifth Edition Fallout! At the same time, I hope that in the fullness of time they won't be the last! There's a lot of overlap between love of D&D and love of Fallout. How awesome would it be for this to become a genre of play that pops up fairly regularity, and for my rules to be a part of that? Fingers crossed!

Anyway, back to the point—I'm by no means abandoning Fifth Edition Fallout. I just believe it's reached a point where it actually works as is, even if it's not reached its final form. I can safely slow down from the mad rush that was my previous pace, and I really ought to. One thing I must always remember is that developing Fifth Edition Fallout is fun, but it's never profitable. As someone else's IP, I can never dream to profit from the work I've done here. I don't regret it, and I won't regret future development, but I have to remember that it's okay to put my own projects first.

In the meantime, I'm considering opening up a section of the wiki for homebrewed content. That way, anyone GMing Fifth Edition Fallout who ends up creating a statblock or anything else that's missing from the "official" rules can share it with the community.

Speaking of Fifth Edition Fallout, are you guys going to finish The Hunt for Spring-Heeled Jack?

That's still very much the plan.

If I were to stream a longterm campaign of Fifth Edition Fallout, which I'd actually love to do, I'd look for a group who are more local to myself. But this particular game was envisioned as a celebration, and I wanted to invite the twitter followers who were most enthusiastic and vocal in their support of my work on Fifth Edition Fallout. As a byproduct of that the crew are very international, and some of them have a lot of prior commitments. It's been difficult getting the group to commit to a date to continue. Providing my players remain willing, we will do so, no matter how long it takes. We will also endeavour to give a couple of weeks notice before play time, and if you do end up missing it live the videos will always be available on youtube. You can catch the first episode here, warts and all.