Thursday, October 25, 2018

Spell Component Pouch of Holding

A spell component pouch contains an infinite number of live spiders.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Phantom Trap

No matter how long you've been playing this game, no matter how many times you've reread the Player's Handbook, I find there's always some obtuse spell you've never seen before. Case in point: I recently stumbled across a core spell called phantom trap that I swear I've never laid eyes on. Unlike a lot of these obscure and worthless spells that crop up now and then, however... this one I kind of wish I had. It's strange, so strange that I'm having trouble thinking of any real, practical applications for such a spell. That said, it is worth investigating by virtue of how unique it is - and likely more for the DM than any of the players. The text for phantom trap is as follows:

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Art Object Database

"Satisfied with a job well done at the end of an arduous dungeon, you pry open the old treasure chest to find... uh... seven +1 longswords!"

This is extending an olive branch to all of those DMs out there. When you're selecting (or rolling up) treasure for the party, do things not feel a little too... unrealistic? Using the tables provided in the Dungeon Master's Guide, and other published books, will lead to player characters mostly finding coins and gems, with some magic items when you're feeling generous. Who are all these dungeon-dwellers that mindlessly stockpile wealth in amounts perfectly divisible by 4, though? Wouldn't it make more sense to spend some of that coin? That said, it's never been the case for the wealthy to only spend on practical items. Not every one of someone's possessions are going to be potions, oils and magic weapons. Having egregious shows of wealth is the whole point of being wealthy!

In comes the second problem, though. The DMG does have a tidy table of art objects that can be found as part of treasure, for a neat alternative to raw monetary units. Said table, however, is woefully sparse - especially as a party approaches the higher levels, where the only pieces of art in circulation are gold rings and gold cups. Just how many nonmagical gold rings could one guy be reasonably expected to have?

Here then, I have an answer to your sparse and unrealistic treasure woes.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The One-Man Party

Dungeons & Dragons is a social game built around the core concept of the adventuring party. To that end, the various threats and obstacles throughout an adventuring day necessitate a variety of skill sets. One party member can bash down doors and cross swords with burly foes, another can pick locks and disable traps, a third can cast spells and, uh... do everything the first two do as well as much more. Nonetheless, the point stands: if you want to get far in this world, you'll need some friends with different class features before long.

Such is the conventional wisdom, anyway. But we here are all about bucking trends. Wouldn't it be exciting to try and have a single character be as versatile as possible to try and fill every party role? I'm not saying he or she has to be just as good at doing everything a complete party is, merely well enough to have a fair shot at any demand the adventuring world may throw at him. There's a certain tidiness (and thrill) to running a one-man party: how different does the D&D game feel when it's just one player and the DM? Imagine not having to share any loot from a treasure horde or XP from a fight. Imagine never having to argue about where to go or what needs to be done. Plus, it's the only way to experience one of my favourite adventure modules from a conceptual viewpoint: Jacob's Well.

So what sort of class is suited to take on such a demanding role? Perhaps it's tempting to take one or two levels of several different classes, hoping to score the most fundamental aspects of their class features and thus being able to do a little of everything. Your base attack bonus, spell progressions and general effectiveness at any one thing are going to suffer mightily for it, though. Surely it would be more elegant (and no doubt effective) to try and tick all the boxes while still staying in one base class!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Goblin Mini-Guide

I'm no Mons Johnson, but I'm going to say it: I really like goblins. I like the goofy, self-destructive, idiot savant medieval-steampunk-mad-scientists who are there for comic relief. I like the noble, misunderstood humanoid race facing ostracization because they've been labelled "evil." Hell, I even like the sexy little green women that seem to have been popularized by World of Warcraft. So imagine my disappointment, then, when they turned out to be such a bust in Dungeons & Dragons.

The thing is, goblins weren't really meant for player use, and it shows. While they have a +0 level adjustment, which is probably to be expected, their statblock also notes that "goblins with levels in NPC classes have a CR equal to their character level -2" (as opposed to the usual NPC's -1.) So really they're intended to be evil but weak little foes with some character levels that might be familiar. A level 3 goblin warrior or adept will have a CR of 1, but don't expect to play a level 3 goblin adept and have it count as a level 1 character.

I'm going to go off on a brief tangent here and lament the fact that goblins perhaps had the problem of not quite being bad enough. I mean, they come up a little short as far as player character races go, but it's not by a lot. Consider the kobold, however: another weak, evil 'NPC race,' the kobold is probably inferior to even the goblin, with its stat modifiers providing an overall net loss of -4. They were seen as so weak that Wizards stepped in and provided plenty of support material for them, from an entire chapter in Races of the Dragon that provided all sorts of kobold-specific feats and alternate class features, to a tailor-made web enhancement article that just threw in four more racial traits for free, not to mention a feat that increases your goddamn caster level. Most discussion of kobolds nowadays centers around how overpowered they often are in practice, with the poorly-thought-out Dragonwrought feat and various spellcasting boosts made available to kobolds alone. This is, of course, in addition to the various subraces printed since then that allow for superior stat modifiers depending on your build. There are no doubt a number of players who are blissfully unaware of the fact that the kobold was ever seen as a weak point in need of shoring up. See what I mean? The kobold is so weak that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, whereas the long-suffering goblin is just decent enough that it can be completely ignored in a system that prints books at the drop of a hat.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Battle Jump

If it hasn't already been made abundantly clear, you can do some pretty silly things thanks to the Book of Nine Swords. Really it has no shortage of silliness within its very pages, but sometimes you can get a really spiffy effect by combining the new offerings for marshal adepts with an abusable piece of minutae from a previous splatbook.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Mirror Move

In D&D, it can be tempting to try and do everything. You want to have all these spells, and these prestige classes, and these feats, and even these various skill ranks... yes, it can be tricky to fit everything that catches your eyes into a single build. But what if you were able to sub in what you want when you want it now and then? You might not be able to trade out class levels on the fly, but whenever you see someone using a cool feat, do you not think to yourself "I wish I could try that"?

Well if you're willing to look way back to a dubious little corner of an unofficial web article, you just might be able to try that.

Mirror move is a 2nd level bard/wizard spell that allows you to make like Taskmaster and copy any physically demonstrable feat that you see. If you're wondering why you haven't seen nor heard of this admittedly funky spell, it's because it's from a somewhat dubious source - a web article published in 2001 that was never subsequently included in a book, updated for 3.5, or otherwise mentioned again. Yes, the same source as guidance of the avatar and other suspect tidbits. Still, it was published by Wizards, so if your DM doesn't mind you can have some fun with this one.

If it wasn't obvious already, I have a deep love for open-ended feats and spells. Having a single option that can be tooled to the current situation rewards creativity and inventiveness without demanding perfect foresight or having an overabundance of niche options prepared "just in case." After all, you can rarely be certain of what you'll come across in any given day of your adventuring career, let alone while adventuring in general, so having a multi-tool can keep you from being caught with your pants down. Unlike a lot of the usual "cast this and pick what you want" sorts of spells, though, mirror move functions a little differently.