Friday, December 26, 2014

5e Class Summaries for New Players

The Classics

The classic D&D party consists of four classes:
  • Fighter (front-line combatant & general muscle)
  • Cleric (healer, secondary melee combatant, magical utility)
  • Rogue (ranged/opportunistic combatant, non-magical scouting and utility)
  • Wizard (ranged combatant, magical scouting and utility)
Each of these classes is very broadly defined and can be effective in pretty much any environment or situation


In Combat: Clerics are capable combatants, able to wield many different types of weapons and armor. Traditionalist clerics employ only blunt weapons. Clerics can also offer prayers to their patron (a god, goddess, saint, or philosophical principle) to heal their friends or smite their enemies- they are particularly good at destroying the undead and other other-worldly menaces.

Out of Combat: Clerics can ask for aid from their church as long as their mission is in accordance with its principles- the church may chose to provide as much as an army or as little as a bowl and a robe depending on the worthiness of the cause, the reputation of the cleric, and their resources. Clerics can pray to their patron to heal wounds or diseases, provide food or shelter, or seek portents of the future. They also likely know the lore of their church or people.


In Combat: You are a master of all forms of armed and unarmed combat, and adept at employing any conceivable weapon or armor that you might encounter. You can specialize in a type of fighting at which you are particularly adept, and can keep yourself alive despite significant wounds.

Out of Combat: You are well-versed in tactics and strategy- you can spot favorable terrain, defensive choke points, ambush opportunities, etc., by inspecting your surroundings. You know the customs and culture of army encampments and how to make a living as a hired sword. You are good at identifying objects that are both small and valuable.


In Combat: You are skilled with a number of light, easily concealed melee and missile weapons, and you are particularly good at striking from concealment or when an enemy is distracted. You are comfortable in light armor, but find heavier protection too constricting.

Out of Combat: You are a master of stealth and deception, able to sneak past guards, pick locks or pockets, and disable traps and alarms. You are good at recognizing valuable loot. Your criminal background may provide opportunities to find new work or buy and sell rare or illegal goods.


In Combat: Your more powerful spells can kill or incapacitate multiple enemies at a time. Your weaker magic can provide you with a fair chance of defending yourself at a distance. You strive to avoid melee combat at all costs- you are more likely to wear armor backwards than correctly, and likely have only basic skills with a few rather non-threatening weapons. You are prone to dying without prior warning.

Out of Combat: Your spells can pierce the boundaries of time and space in pursuit of knowledge or power. You know a wide array of magical lore that may contain arcane secrets, forgotten history, or forbidden wisdom. You spend most of your spare time studying.

The Specialists

These classes can be thought of as specialized versions of the classic four- they trade a little overall utility for versatility or excellence in a particular area. Barbarians excel at close melee combat, but have a narrow range of tactics available to them compared to fighters. Monks ecel at unarmed combat and can make decent scouts, but lack the selection of weapons, armor, and tactics of the fighter or the focused specialization of the rogue. Rangers provide extra utility in a wilderness situation at the expense of overall combat options. Sorcerers have a narrower range of spells compared to other primary spell casters, but gain some versatility. 


In Combat: You are a a fierce but undisciplined opponent, throwing yourself into combat with reckless abandon. You are familiar with most weapons, but prefer to stand toe-to-toe with an opponent while wielding a huge two-handed weapon. You are particularly adept at avoiding damage while wearing little or no armor.

Out of Combat: You have keen senses that make you adept at noticing danger, like traps or an ambush. You are good at shrugging off the effects of poisons and diseases, and difficult to hold o restrain. You likely grew up in the wilderness, and are skilled at surviving both in the wilds and
among the hardened people who live there.


In Combat: You are a master of the martial arts, being as or more effective bare handed at dealing and absorbing damage as most people are cased in steel and armed to the teeth. You are highly proficient with a small selection of deceptively simple melee and thrown weapons. You are adept at performing complex maneuvers (like flips, kicks, etc.) in combat.

Out of Combat: You likely belong to an order of warrior-monks, who you can seek out for assistance, wisdom, or further training. You may also know the philosophy and lore of your order, which may contain secrets about the world. You move quickly and can make an excellent spy or scout.


In Combat: You can wield only a few basic weapons and shun armor in favor of magical attack and defense. You have a narrower selection of spells, but can change them up on the fly (unlike wizards, who must prepare their spells in advance).

Out of Combat: You are charismatic and find it easy to socialize with and manipulate others. You likely know some arcane lore or the history of your patron power.


In Combat: You are familiar with a wide range of weapons, and may specialize in a preferred form of fighting. Almost all rangers maintain some skill with bows of some type.

Out of Combat: You are at home in the wilderness, and are particularly skilled at navigating and foraging in unfamiliar terrain. You can recognize important or edible plants and animals, natural hazards, signs of animal or monster dens, and track a quarry through any imaginable terrain.

The Utility Players

These classes can fill any of a variety of roles, and are common either as '5th party members' or to fill multiple roles in a smaller party. Bards bring a mix of magic, rogue skills, and combat utility and excel in social roles. Druids blend the wilderness expertise of a ranger with the spell casting and combat abilities of a cleric. Paladins combine some of the options of the cleric and the fighter and make excellent defensive fighters.


In Combat: You are a fair fighter with blade or bow, though you are most familiar with lighter, more elegant weapons. You can turn the tide of a battle at critical moments by inspiring your companions with your words or music.

Out of Combat: You excel at getting along with strangers and making new friends- you are also good at tricking or manipulating people. You know some minor magic that can be used to entertain, distract, or deceive. You have an excellent store of old stories, rumors, legends, and dirty jokes that can be used to recall facts about your environment or gain the friendship of primitive idiots.


In Combat: You are a versatile combatant, skilled with a small selection of traditional weapons. You can cast spells that call on the natural world to aid your allies or harm your enemies in combat, including healing wounds. At higher levels, you can transform into an animal and attack. You shun metal weapons and armor as much as possible.

Out of Combat: You know a great deal about the natural world and its inhabitants, and can survive there easily without any outside support. Your spells allow you to commune with natural spirits, seek portents of the future, heal the sick, etc.


In Combat: You are highly skilled with a wide range of weapons and armor, and are most comfortable fighting as a heavily armed and armored knight. You are skilled at fighting from horseback and battling the undead. You can heal your allies by calling upon your faith.

Out of Combat: You can detect the presence of supernatural evil, and heal your allies with your faith and prayers. You can call on other members of your faith for assistance in worthy tasks. If you are recognized as a member of a particular knightly order, you likely have a good reputation that proceeds you everywhere you go- except in evil lands, where you may be met with hostility or scorn.


In Combat: You iz muthafucking Skelator, yo! Zap things. Then zap them harder.

Out of Combat: I think you ride a bike or something.

Seriously, I've never played a warlock. Don't know anything about them.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Books of the Anvil - A Downtime Magic Item for 5e

The Books of the Anvil are a legendary collection of collected over the years by an unknown master
Dwarfish wizard. With typical Dwarfish ingenuity and discipline, he applied himself to cataloging magic with the same intensity of focus that a master smith would bring to a life-long masterwork.

Identifying the Books
Even to the untrained eye, this collection of 15 books (50 lbs total) appear to be of exceptional quality. Despite their antiquity, they are in exquisite condition. Each page is richly illuminated, with orderly black-on-white lettering interspersed with geometric designs and diagrams. To Detect Magic they give off an aura of mild divination and abjuration magic. Any wizard can immediately recognize that the books are all spellbooks, as can anyone making a DC 5 Arcana check. On a DC 20 Arcana check, you recognize the books as being those of a Dwarfish wizard. Anyone who knows the Dwarfish language and is of Chaotic alignment must make a DC 15 Wisdom save on first reading through the books or be blinded for 1d10 hours. Subsequent readings have no effect on a character who has been blinded, though overuse (described below) can still trigger blindness.

Using the Books
The Books of the Anvil use a highly complex magical encoding scheme to cram a seemingly impossible number of spells into 15 volumes. Unfortunately (for everyone but Dwarfs) this means that a great deal of math is needed to puzzle out the spell formulas, and a table of contents is neither included nor possible.

A wizard can chose to study the books for up to 8 hour per day. Time spent resting or adventuring does not permit proper study- the books can only be studied on 'days off', though other non-strenuous activities (buying supplies, resting and healing) can be undertaken. A wizard who attempts to study more than 8 hours in a single day becomes blind for 1d10 hours. At the end of 7 (cumulative) days of study, make a DC 15 Arcana check. On a success, the wizard has identified one spell that is stored in the book and can attempt to learn it and copy it into his spellbook as normal, paying the associated costs in time and gold. Determine the spell randomly. If the wizard chooses not to learn the spell, there is no guarantee that he will be able to figure out the encoding for that spell again- each time the wizard attempts to identify a new spell, the encoding for the previous spell is forgotten and a new spell is generated at random.

Monday, September 22, 2014

5e Goblin PCs

Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity score increases by 2.
Age: Goblins mature faster than humans, reaching adulthood around age 10. A healthy Goblin can live to 50 or more, but rarely does.
Alignment: Goblins tend towards evil; they tend to be greedy, lazy, and selfish. They have no particular inclination towards following orders without a strong incentive to do so, but are happy for someone else to be responsible for hard decisions or dangerous tasks. As a result, they have little inclination towards either law or chaos and their most common alignment is Neutral Evil. Goblins that live among other races are capable of working within a system to get what they want, or ignore it entirely when it is convenient, tending more towards True Neutral or Chaotic Neutral.
Size: Goblins are between 3 and 4 feet tall and average about 35 pounds. Your size is Small.
Speed: You have a base walking speed of 30 feet.
Darkvision: Goblins commonly live underground, and even surface-dwelling Goblins tend to be more active at night, emerging to scavenge or raid and then laying low during daylight hours. You can see in dim light within 60 feet as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Languages: You can speak, read, and write Common and Goblin, which uses a crude version of the Dwarvish alphabet. Goblin is rarely written down, except in the form of graffiti which Goblins use to mark their territory and mock their enemies.
Nimble Escape: Goblins favor hit and run tactics, which they use in groups to wear down their opponents while trying to remain out of range. When an opponent targets you with a melee attack and misses, you can take the Disengage action as a reaction to move away from your attacker.
Sneaky: You are proficient in Stealth.
Sniveling: Goblins are used to being treated with contempt by those stronger than they are, which is nearly everyone. The average goblin will shamelessly lie, boot-lick, grovel, and flatter to avoid being swatted down by a boss or foe. Their ancient enemies have long realized that goblins treat mercy as a weakness, but other races either haven't caught on or don't regard goblins as worth the trouble to kill. You have advantage on Charisma checks to avoid being blamed or punished for your actions by anyone other than a Dwarf or an Elf.
Opportunistic Eater: Goblins enthusiastically eat a wide variety of foods that more civilized races turn their noses up at; they also are accustomed to having to provide for themselves in a wide variety of situations. You have advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to forage for food, and can forage for food anywhere- including inside dungeons and cities. At the DM's option, the food that you find may not be fit for non-goblinoids to eat!

edit: Thanks to /r/DnD for feedback- I've made a couple adjustments for balance and simplicity that were suggested there and added the 'Sniveling' feature.