Archive for September 2012

Wandering Monsters & Dragon's-Eye View: Giants

I have never had the opportunity to play any of the G-series adventures or the remakes, or really use giants in general (though I have often planned to). I blame them being understandably mid- to high-level threats, a lofty peak that my groups have only achieved a couple of times. In fact the only time I can recall dealing with giants--specifically frost giants--was a mid-level 2nd Edition campaign.

Speaking of older editions, most of the flavor is expected holdovers from earlier editions: stone giants shaping stone, storm giants controlling weather, cloud giants living in castles on clouds, hill giants being stupid, and so on. There is also some new stuff in the mix, such as hill giants ranking each other based on who can eat the most and cloud giants mining silver from clouds.

In addition to a easy to reference bullet-list of giant traits, you can also play guess the giant here.

The only ones I am not positive about are the cloud and storm giants (which I assume to be A and B respectively). Spindly legs aside I think they are mostly okay, though the fire giant's armor seems...sleeker than what I would have expected, I guess (and I assume the loincloth is made of something that is immune to fire?). Personally I would cleave to Wayne Reynold's depiction from Secrets of Xen'drik:

September 26, 2012
Posted by David Guyll

Legend & Lore: Playtest Update

Mearls speaks about the bad, the good, and the etc of the playtest. I am going to address some of these things out of order, mostly so I can keep all the class stuff together.

I dug the cleric quite a bit. I kept proposing a magic system in which the cleric would get “miracles” per day (instead of having to prep them), as well as weapon and armor proficiencies, and spells set by your god, and that is largely what we got. Does turn undead need to be a thing that all clerics get? Do all gods care about that sort of thing? I do not think so, so making it a spell or a function of your god makes more sense.

Why not go back to how it was handled in 4th Edition? You get Channel Divinity, and can use that on specific things, so clerics worshipping gods that hate undead can use it against them, while clerics of war gods can burn it to bolster allies in combat? On the other hand, is it even needed? It sounds like a cleric spell by another name, after all.

The fighter is, I think, the best it has ever been. While I enjoyed the warblade from Tome of Battle because it gave melee fighters diverse and useful things to do, such things were couched in supernatural or semi-magical feats (not like Feat feats, but feats like exploits). 4th Edition made a purely non-magical fighter that worked. No prestige class, no non-functional feat chain. In a similar vein, 5th Edition’s fighter is purely mundane but still has a lot of useful and flexible things to do on a round-by-round basis.

Personally I do not mind a rogue doing the whole hide, attack, etc routine. It makes sense in the narrative, with the rogue hanging back and waiting for an opportune moment to strike. I talked about this before, where at higher levels even a rogue attacking every other round can still out-damage plenty of other classes. I also think that it is a nice middle ground between 2nd Edition and 3rd and 4th Editions; instead of making it very difficult or easy (and frequent), you have to set yourself up.

Even so that type of tactic is not for everyone, so Sneak Attack becoming an option could be great for those that want to make a highly skill character that is also not good at randomly spiking damage. The idea of a smooth-talking con artist being able to distract or confuse enemies has merit, so long as it does not become a dialogue spam-fest most of the time.

While I can understand the warlock getting a nerf, the bit about the sorcerer straying too far from its identity confuses and concerns me. The only issue I took with the sorcerer was its twin soul flavor. As I said before I do not like the sorcerer having one of the sorcerer’s souls taking over when it casts lots of magic, but rather having its origin manifest (again, I will use Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle as an example of this). I really hope this is what Mearls is referring to, and not going back to 3rd Edition’s largely hands off approach to the sorcerer.

3d6 damage for a ranged attack with no restrictions is pretty heavy. Rogue’s have to work for their d6s, and even fighters pouring all of their Expertise Die cannot reliably match that damage...well, unless you got a particularly good Strength score and/or use a two-handed weapon. I can see it being dropped to 2d6 or 2d8, especially if they provide favor-fueled invocations that allow a warlock to boost it.

I...guess wizards could use more hit points? Personally I do not mind them being the iconic 4-sided wonder, if for no other reason than to give it something to do besides dagger duty. At any rate I am happy to see wizards getting more magic system types, instead of players having to settle on a magic system at the cost of concept and flavor.

Healing in 3rd Edition either demanded the use of magic or a lengthy recuperation time. This lead to somewhat silly moments where the cleric would heal the party, rest, heal some more, then rest again. In 4th Edition healing became much easier to come by (multiple classes offered healing or temp hit points), especially when out of combat (healing surges).

While healing surges made it easy to cope with time sensitive adventures, in hindsight I feel that it removed tension in the long term: in a fight as healing resources dwindled, it spiked, but once combat ended you could just top your hit points off. The only part where it started to matter was when you started to run out of healing surges.

Having recently started up a 3rd Edition Age of Worms campaign, the lack of a dedicated healer predictably makes the game more tense and dangerous. It is unfortunate that the solution is to spend lots of money on a wand of cure light wounds (or multiclass into cleric, or to roll a cleric when someone dies/becomes bored).

Ideally I would like a system where magical healing is not mandatory, and while Hit Dice (and do a point, Parry) help alleviate it somewhat (it certainly helped in both Blingdenstone sessions), my experience with 3rd Edition tells me that it will not be sufficient in the long run. Hit points are given more elaboration, in that the first half represent largely harmless scrapes and the like; divying up hit points and making it so that the first half are easily restored (or are automatically restored after combat) could help reflect this and increase survivability.

I felt that the monsters were not threatening enough because they could not really hit anything. I do not think that PC damage needs to take a dive, and I am not sure how you would go about doing this: decouple it from ability scores? Reduce weapon damage overall (make it a flat number)?

I would reintroduce 4th Edition’s proficiency bonuses. It would reduce accuracy for characters using heavy weapons like axes and hammers (which could also reduce damage), and give lots of monsters an accuracy boost. I guess it ultimately depends on how close monsters cleave to character generation rules.

Ease of DMing
If “new monsters”, opportunity attacks, and adventure creation is too much, then I suspect that person should not be a DM in the first place. The monsters are largely follow a “roll to hit, roll damage” routine with a few exceptions such as the stirge’s attach, the gelatinous cube’s slam, and the kobold trap smith’s alchemical bombs . The rules for opportunity attacks are dirt simple, and I hope that Mearls is not considering removing them (or really even making them optional).

September 25, 2012
Posted by David Guyll

D&D Next: Keep on the Shadowfell Complete

After a few weeks, Victor and I were able to finish converting H1: Keep on the Shadowfell. If you read my notes on it when I redid it for 4th Edition, this one goes into more depth with actual maps, new monsters, and a couple of magic items. Let me know what you think, as well as any errors (for some reason spacing would occasionally go awry).

September 21, 2012
Posted by David Guyll

Legends & Lore: Multiclassing in Next

I barely even remember how multiclassing (or dual-classing) worked in 2nd Edition. I recall that you had to pick out your classes from the start, and that XP was divided between them.

Multiclassing in 3rd Edition was simpler, but did not make a lot of sense. Basically when you got enough XP to level up, you could pick any class that you wanted (and met the requirements for). This meant that if you started as a fighter (or a barbarian, or sorcerer, and so on) and picked a level of wizard, you got a spellbook with every 0-level spell, and a bunch of 1st-level spells regardless of how much training or schooling you have (or have not) previously had.

Supporters claim that it is okay because it is assumed that at some point you were studying magic, and that when you gain a level it means that you have learned enough to actually do something with it. The problem is that the random age with wizards is higher than other classes, because magic is presumed to take a lot of time to learn. In the game, apparently a character can pick it up in a few days. Also, there is no learning curve; you go from knowing no magic at all to have a comprehensive mastery of cantrips and low-level magic.

Another issue was level dipping, where a player might nab only the first level or two of a class in order to scape class features. One example is 3rd Edition's ranger, which gave you Two-Weapon Fighting at the start (Revised Edition bumped it up to 2nd-level). The barbarian and Rage is another good example.

4th Edition went about things quite a bit differently (which means that a lot of people were dissatisfied with it). The class you started with is the class you got, but you could burn feats to dabble in other classes. Though costly--especially if you believed in feat taxes--it made more sense; a fighter does not learn a bunch of magic spontaneously, but instead gains the ability to use a single spell (and from there can go on to learn more gradually).

Currently it sounds like multiclassing in Next will be optional. They anticipate a lot of groups using it, but will offer backgrounds and specialties that allow you to dabble. It will also follow 3rd Edition's model, where you just pick a class when you level up. However Mearls admits that a front-loaded class makes it ripe for dipping, and is so considering alternate advancement tables for multiclassing. So, for example, multiclassing into wizard will probably not grant you access to a slew of spells. Mearls also admits that multiclassing into a new spellcasting class often works out poorly because of how spells progress. Using an alternate table he believes that they can, if nothing else, reduce the gap to a reasonable distance.

Finally, he wants to bring prestige classes back into the game. My problem with prestige classes was that too many were "class x, but better". Personally I want all classes to be viable by themselves, as they were in 4th Edition. A fighter should not have to prestige-out into weapon master, kensai, or whatever to remain viable, and a sorcerer should not be an elemantalist-lite. The idea of prestige classes being tightly linked to concepts that are different, but not necessarily better, has a lot of appeal (as does linking the requirements to story elements).

Hopefully they can deliver on all of this.
September 17, 2012
Posted by David Guyll

Age of Worms: Episodes 001 and 002

Character Roster

  • Vincent d'Argentum (dragonmarked human sorcerer)
  • Er'ril (human bard)
  • Pipli (goblin wizard)
  • Fea (changling rogue)
  • Sakatash (kalasthar ardent)
  • Klaive (warforged fighter)

With the release of the revised 3rd Edition Edition premium books and 5th Edition still a couple years away, I decided that now might be a good time to try finishing Age of Worms...again. This time we are just going to play it “as is”. As in, revised 3rd Edition rules.

Partially it is that while I am keen on exploring older editions to see what bits worked (and did not), my group is not; they were willing to give this campaign a shot because they are much more familiar with how 3rd Edition operates. The other part is that I really enjoyed running the first six or so adventures in the line, and was disappointed that we dropped it when 4th Edition came out.

I liked it so much that I tried to run it with 4th Edition rules twice. Both attempts were short-lived--each clocking somewhere between 2-6 sessions--which I did not mind so much, because it was kind of a pain trying to convert everything (especially treasure) and shoehorn in enough encounters to level up the party. Ultimately I was putting in a lot more worm than the payoff I was getting.

The first time I tried to run Age of Worms, I did several individual “prologue” sessions with some of the players. Like many DMs I have had issues in the past where you work with a player to develop a background and motivation, only to have them forget or misremember details later (sometimes within the same session). I figured that by actually playing through it that it would stick better, and for the most part it worked out really well.

This time around there would not be enough time for that. Some two weeks before the first session I setup a campaign on Obsidian Portal with information on Diamond Lake (where they would be starting out), and let them know that the first adventure would entail exploring a largely overlooked tomb nearby.

To me D&D is a team game, something that I guess I took for granted. Generally when I make a character I like to skip the part of the game where the players spend an hour or so trying to justify why they are teaming up with complete strangers to go on life-threatening crawls, so I try make sure that I already know a character or two. Or three. Or all of them.

This time? None of the characters had any connection to each other. A couple knew individual NPCs in the town, while two characters were more or less “lone wolf” types without any connections to anyone at all. This is a kind of hurdle that DMs--including me--have been dealing with for decades now, often with a bar of some sort.

I figured I would just handle it in game, trying a few means to link up the characters; street toughs trying to mug them, giving a few of them reasons to speak to Allustan (at the same time, even), and other NPCs prodding them. Eventually after several days of in-game time, they finally got hooked up (at least one in the most tenuous way possible) and into the dungeon.

The best I can recall is that Er'ril won the map from a drunken sod while gambling, who eventually took it to Allustan to look over. He told him to come back in a few hours, but after examining it decided to have Vincent check it out. Er'ril returned and decided to tag along. Fea, who had been trying to rob Er'ril disguised in her alias Jack, also tagged along at the prospect of getting rich quick. Sakatash was the odd ball out, really just going along to keep Fea out of trouble.

Note: We quickly retconned this out of game so that the characters would have actual, you know, reasons for teaming up.

The first wing of the dungeon involved the shattered remains of some arcane device, a den of wolves, and a large room with a sarcophagus and seven halls, five of which featured hanging lanterns. Vincent had discovered a sixth lantern in the wolf den, and everyone figured that they would need the seventh to discover whatever it was that the tomb was hiding.

Fea noticed that the sarcophagus could be rotated, and with plenty of effort managed to shift it one position, which was enough to reveal a hidden elevator in the floor. After much argument they went down in the elevator, which lead to a room blocked with a large stone. They moved it, triggering a poison trap, and decided to call it a day plenty of hit points and a pair of Strength points short. 

To even the odds they hired on a warforged fighter--a soldier-turned miner named Klaive that knew Sakatash from working in the Deepspike Mine--and stocked up on some healing items. With a fighter and pair of potions of cure light wounds in tow, they had a much easier time cleaning out the rest of the hidden wing in the cairn, especially when Melissa's character Pipli arrived on the scene (hooray for color spray).

A lurking strangler and an earth elemental later, they found themselves going back to town again, this time with an actually respectable assortment of magic items, statuettes, and illustrations of elemental glyphs. Vicent brought the drawings to Allustan, who was thrilled to see some substantial information about the origins of the cairns (especially one that was not built by goblins). He identified their items for free, purchased the statuettes, and encouraged them to keep exploring.

The next session saw a largely different party; a few of the players could not make it, so we played it that they were still recovering from the aforementioned poison. This time they brought along a cleric named Logan (played by Josh). They moved the sarcophagus again, with revealed a malfunctioning elevator that plummeted to the area below after a few seconds of struggling. A swarm of insects and aberrant monstrosity that looked like a human-sized, one-eyed spider scuttled out.

The latter was pretty easy to take down, what with its lack of weapon immunity. After almost stripping Klaive down, the swarm was thankfully dispatched by Vincent's gust of wind (which does wonders against Tiny critters).

In this wing they found a few rooms, one with magic sleep-inducing beds, and the other with a hive of insects. Thanks to Pipli's grease spell, a lucky initiative roll, and a torch they were able to take it out without an attack roll. After mucking through the remains they found several healing items and a magic ring, but no seventh lantern.

One section was completely submerged underwater, and after some arguing about finding a magical means to bypass it, Klaive pointed out that he could breathe underwater. Pipli hit him with a light spell, and after a couple of attempts of trolling for monsters--a water elemental and ghoul--were able to find the red lantern.

When they went back to Allustan with more magic loot and ancient trinkets, he was able to explain that the glyphs were symbols of specific elemental entities, and that was built by a race native to Lammania millenia ago. He was also able to identify the star symbol that they found on rings and suits of armor worn by many corpses as belonging to the Seekers, an unscrupulous relic-hunting organization based out of Sharn.

Next time, we will see how long it takes them to find the last section of the tomb.

Behind the Scenes

The first wing of the dungeon was a nice reminder in combat speed and danger; like D&D Next, combat starts and ends pretty quickly. I am using minis again, as well as drawing out the entire map, and we managed to get through two sections of the Whispering Cairn before having to call it a night (which, as previously mentioned, included a lot of "social role-playing").

Combat is much more dangerous, especially without the "right" classes. No one is playing a cleric or favored soul, for example, so after a couple of fights and a poison trap they had to sleep it off for a few days. There is also no dedicated melee character, so against a trio of wolves there was almost two deaths. I like the added element of tension given the lack of universally available healing resources, but it feels too...punishing, I guess; players should be able to play what they want, not be forced to go with a certain class because it is "necessary".

One thing that I missed from 3rd Edition was a how they handled the room with an insect hive: in 4th Edition they would have just ran into the room, guns blazing, and more than likely come out on top. Here they had run into a bug swarm before with some spectacularly bad results and wanted to avoid a repeat. It was much easier because they had a chance to plan, weighed their options, and settled on using grease. They did not need to, and could have gone about it the same way, and would have likely survived (though probably had to go back to town).

There was a lot of tension, because a bad initiative roll would have had a bunch of grease-caked acid beetles swarming over her character, which would have more than likely killed her. The fact that she knew the risk, took it, and still pulled it off just makes the moment all the more memorable.

An a similar note is the ghoul and underwater section. Most of the time it is assumed that the characters go underwater and tackle the ghoul while holding their breath. When I ran this in 4th Edition it was pretty easy given that everyone can hold their breathe for quite awhile, and saving throw effects can be easy to shake off (especially with leaders). In 3rd Edition, not so much; you are paralyzed for a set period of time, and ghouls can make multiple attacks. Anyway, though they were initially scared of the water, it turned out to be really simple because Klaive did not need to breathe.
Posted by David Guyll

D&D Next: Keep on the Shadowfell Catacombs Map

Aaand here is the last map that Victor and I made for Keep on the Shadowfell.

September 14, 2012
Posted by David Guyll

Dragon's Eye View & Wandering Monsters: Minotaurs

The minotaur is a very iconic monster, both in Greek mythology and Dungeons & Dragons, though before 4th Edition I do not recall much general flavor about them. In 2nd Edition’s favor I have not played it in basically forever, and an Ecology article withstanding 3rd Edition did not go much beyond mentioning that they were “often found in underground labyrinths”. Regardless I have pretty much always looked at the D&D incarnation as being a true-breeding race (though before 4th Edition almost exclusively as a monster).

Note: I am only vaguely aware of the yikaria, partly because of a Dungeon adventure, and partly because I swear they were in Forgotten Realms. I really have nothing to say about them, except that I remember them kind of looking neat and could control genies...I think.

Even so the flavor of cultists blessed/cursed by Baphomet is pretty cool, despite its departure from what I have always known. It is a different--and more importantly interesting--take on things, and helps differentiate them from other Large-sized monsters in the game (besides having a gore attack). However I wonder how this will affect players who want to roll up a minotaur? If nothing else the flavor gives you something to work with, which is always nice, though if all minotaurs are the product of demon lord-worshippers then it might start to reek of rebellious drow.

Flavor aside there is still the issue of size. With the possible exception of re-sizing armor and other trinkets, I do not recall it being much of a problem in 2nd Edition. In 3rd Edition? There were several advantages, namely reach--especially since attacks of opportunity were not restricted to adjacent enemies--and increased weapon damage. Depending on how much size matters hopefully we get a Medium-sized option; I could see Large minotaurs being more monstrous, while Medium ones being more civilized and human-like.

Speaking of appearance, I am mostly torn about the feet. I prefer them with fur and tails, and the whole changed-cultist angle justifies the breasts, but ultimately these are cosmetic things and are not a huge deal. The feet? Those could raise some questions. While feet can look goofy, it makes it easy for a minotaur to handle boots and such. Hooves on the other hand make them appear more monstrous (which is good if that is your angle), but can potentially limit such things depending on your DM. Plus, i
n an edition where magic items can be harder to find and potentially harder to make, this could be more problematic if they are going to be usable as characters. Of course if magic items are also not assumed then it could just be a wash.
I like them both, and I think there is room for Large, monstrous minotaurs and Medium-size, more human-like ones in the same default/implied/generic setting. If I had to choose, I would err on the side of giving DMs more options to throw at their players. Plus minotaurs, what with their natural cunning, are made for random dungeon encounters.
September 12, 2012
Posted by David Guyll

D&D Next: Keep on the Shadowfell Map Update

Here is the rough of the Shadowfell Keep Catacombs:

If you played the original Keep on the Shadowfell, you probably remember the maps of the levels underneath Shadowfell Keep: apparently everyone lived in giant square rooms, underground, without furnishings, linked by 10-foot wide hallways about 50 or so feet apart. I also do not recall many doors. There were also goblins, then hobgoblins, a room full of mushrooms I think, and some other bizarre elements.

When I revamped it, I did not make maps of the castle grounds or the catacombs, relegating it to a skill challenge. This time I am taking a more traditional dungeon route, though as with my update am going to stick to cultists, undead, hauntings, etc.

Oh, here is an updated map of the kobold lair from part 1, courtesy of Victor:

I expect to have part 2 done over the weekend. Lemme know what you think, and if you want to see H2: Thunderspire Labyrinth get the same D&D Next treatment.
September 07, 2012
Posted by David Guyll

Wandering Monsters: Yuan-ti and Ogres

While I read about the yuan-ti (which for some reason I always spelled as yaun-ti) last week, I was unable to get around to writing about it soon enough, and figured I would just lump it with whatever we got this week.

My thoughts on the yuan-ti can be easily summed up as "I like it". It sounds more or less what we have gotten before--which seems to be the theme of monsters up until this point--snake features/bodies, poison, superiority complex, and so on (thankfully sans snake-arms). Though I had read an Ecology of the Yuan-ti in an old Dragon magazine, I only recall the god Zehir--though Merrshaulk rings a bell--because 4th Edition made it a core evil god. At any rate, I like the idea of multiple snake gods, as it adds some variety to cult practices and activities.

Despite watching Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Adventurer as a kid (and unfortunately could not get around to reading the books until much later on), I have never used yuan-ti in any campaign, even as a side trek villain. I do not think I have even thrown an individual yuan-ti at them. I do not even know why. I had plenty of inspiration, and in 3rd Edition the Challenge Rating for all of them was low and close enough together to make them a viable early threat, and 4th Edition had them start in late heoric and venture all the way up to epic.

Maybe it was because I also really never ran adventures in jungles or deserts, which is where I assumed they hung out in their pyramids. More than likely between all the monsters, there was just more compelling and thematically appropriate creatures to choose from. I think I will rectify that in D&D Next.

Now ogres and trolls on the other hand, I have plenty of experience with, on both sides of the screen. Ogres and big, strong, and stupid, while trolls...are basically the same, but can also regenerate (and as the article states are the iconic regenerating monster). Neither are changing much, though it seems fighting troll arms and heads are coming back into the game; despite the statement that it has "always been true", this was something that was removed from 3rd and 4th Edition.

I like it, though part of me wants to have it become more of a hindrance so that players use piercing and blunt weapons, and another part of me wants to have the characters end up fighting a swarm of troll limbs. Too bad they died within a day in 2nd Edition if they could not get back to the main body. As a side note, 2nd Edition also mentions that their blood is used to make healing potions. I would like to see more of this for other monsters. So, instead of looting an troll lair for gold and the like, you can get blood and try to pawn it off on a wizard.

Ogre magi are another bag. In 3rd Edition they were Challenge Rating 8, which made them poor allies to their Challenge Rating 3 cousin (and I dug this article from six years ago with tries to alleviate that issue). 4th Edition including a wide enough range of ogres to make them more suitable. Now much is revealed about the Next iteration, but it looks like that they are going to be completely unrelated to ogres...but for some reason allying themselves with them. That does not really make a lot of sense to me, and I would prefer to see more thematically appropriate monsters.

All in all, the ogre and troll sound fine, but the ogre mage/oni needs more depth.
September 04, 2012
Posted by David Guyll

D&D Next: Shadowfell Keep Map Complete

Here is the polished version of the map, courtesy of Victor (aka, The Planewalker).


D&D Next: Homebrew Compilation 1

I have taken almost all of the D&D Next homebrew content I have written up in the past few months, edited and updated some of it, and consolidated it into a single pdf that you can download here. It has not been tested, only compared to what has been done before and what we have seen so far, so any feedback is nice.

Here is what it includes:

  • Gnome and tiefling races (with horned devil, kyton, and succubus heritages)
  • Cultist and hunter background
  • Spellsword specialty
  • Barbarian and bladesinger class
  • Sorcerer storm heritage
  • Infernal and star pact for warlock
  • New spells for the wizard and warlock

September 03, 2012
Posted by David Guyll

D&D Next: Gnome Homebrew

Here is a homebrew gnome, based largely on the 3rd Edition version. Alternatively I could see a bonus to Intelligence or Charisma.

As a gnome, you have all the following racial traits.
      Size: Small.
      Speed: 25 feet.
Low-Light Vision: If there is no light within 30 feet of you, you treat shadows in that radius as normal light, and you treat darkness in that radius as shadows.
Gnome Weapon Training: When you attack with a pick with which you have proficiency, the damage die for that weapon increases by one step: from d6 to d8, or d8 to d10.
Illusion Mastery: You have advantage on checks and saving throws made to detect and resist illusion spells.
Languages:You can speak, read, and write Common and Gnome.
Ability Score Adjustment: Your starting Constitution increases by 1.
Cantrip: You know and cast the minor spells dancing lights and ghost sound.

Dancing Lights
Minor illusion

You conjure one to four glowing spheres of light, or a faintly glowing humanoid shape.
Effect: You create one to four lights that resemble lanterns or torches (and radiate light as such), glowing spheres of light (that look like will-o’-wisps), or one faintly glowing, vaguely humanoid shape within 50 feet. The lights must stay within a 10-foot-radius area in relation to each other, but otherwise can move as you desire. You can move then 50 feet as an action, but wink out if they move further than 50 feet from you. The spell lasts for 1 minute or until you cast it again.
September 02, 2012
Posted by David Guyll

D&D Next: Shadowfell Keep Map

Here is the map of Shadowfell Keep I drew up for part two of my D&D Next conversion. I like the idea of the characters being able to explore the keep in some detail before going dungeon crawling. As with my 4th Edition update I kept Sir Keegan is in the chapel, which is hallowed ground (giving them a place to rest).

D&D Next: Star Pact Homebrew

Rounding out the warlock pacts. I dug the binder from 3rd Edition in concept if nothing else, and loved warlocks and hexblades in 4th Edition. I initially wanted to base the pact off of something from the Cthulhu mythos, but then thought that something actually D&D--in this case the gibbering mouther--would make more sense.

Star Pact: Cho’athonaug
The Sovereign of Whispers is an amorphous mass of eyes and babbling mouths that drifts deep within the Far Realm. Those willing to risk their sanity can occasionally glean powerful secrets.

Level 1: Cho’athonaug’s voice fills your mind as an endless torrent of garbled words. With effort you can sometimes sift through the words and glean useful information. You sometimes whisper seemingly random words or short phrases.
Benefit: You can spend one of your patron’s favors to gain advantage on Intelligence checks for one minute, but you gain disadvantage on Wisdom saving throws.
Level 3: A needle-toothed mouth grows somewhere on your body. It sometimes mutters cryptic phrases and mimics your speech, making it sound as if there are two or more voices speaking at once.
Benefit: As an action, you can force the mouth to gibber incoherently. Each adjacent creature must make a Wisdom save (DC 10 + your Intelligence modifier) or suffer disadvantage on attacks and checks until the end of your next turn.
Level 5: Your body becomes slightly amorphous. Your movements become slightly awkward, and your joints sometimes bend in unnatural ways, which can be used to your advantage.
Benefit: As an action, you can spend one of your favors to reduce the damage you take by 1d6 until the end of your next turn.

Warlock Invocations

Incantation of the Outer Gate
Lesser invocation

You open the outermost threshold of the Far Realm, allowing only a portion of an alien entity to intrude.
As a consequence of knowing this incantation, tendrils seem to write beneath your skin.
Effect: You conjure the tentacle of a Far Realm being within 50 feet of you. It is Medium-size, and attacks a creature within 10 feet of its location that you can see. On a hit, the creature takes 3d8 bludgeoning damage and is restrained until it makes a Strength check to escape.
Thereafter, you can use an action to make the tentacle attack another creature within its reach. The tentacle remains for 1 minute before vanishing back to the Far Realm.


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