News and such

I’m moving, in April I will get into the new house. So there is still a lot to do, but at least I wanted to share something…

First of all, I share some official stuff from WotC on my side, you can download them there, too, it’s totally free, but since not all of you likes to look regularly there, I just figured, I can simply upload them here, too, and you can get it, if you want.
In this case we get the first 2 instances of Unearthen Arcana, which provides pre-rulings for Eberron and a army-combat system. I guess it might be worked over after some thought there for the hard-cover variant (especially since the Eberron races only have +1 to two abilities, which is uncommon so far).

Now I’m proud to say, that I will begin a Baldur’s Gate campaign with a new party. And that means to transfer the beloved PC-game to the P&P media in 5e! I will try to transfer my campaign notes into a self-made gaming module, which can be DMed by those, who also played and love the game or if I’m a bit skilled even those, who don’t.

Of course I know, that I’m not able to make it like the game, since the companion NPCs and the playstyle does a lot for the mood. But in the end, it’s still a strong plot, a great journey and some quite great story twists, which will make this very enjoyable, especially for those, who don’t know the games or were too weak to play them.

The plan is to make a campaign with a proud numbers of the optional quests, since you can actually take some time in most cases. I’ll try to write game reports, too, but I still have two left for Tyranny of Dragons (and the campaign will go on, too), so I won’t make promises.

This is sadly all this time, with the new campaign I have a lot to do, and moving isn’t good on your time, either. Be patient and I will make the wizard’s overview, even though I will first update my paladin and cleric overview with the options of the DMG.

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Warlock – Overview

Sorry for the great delay, Christmas and other stuff kept going on and on and on and so I was pretty unmotivated to do the blog. Even though I played a lot of D&D in this time and in the end have a lot of experience to share. I won’t have much free time (at least without decreasing my time playing D&D), but at least I’ll try at least one per week.

This was definitely a really big piece of work, since I had no idea how I could make it even remotely viable. But now it’s done! Wohoo, only one more to go, even though it’ll be a lot of subclasses there… dammit. As always my personal opinion and somehow I think an overview isn’t too accurate here, since the warlock class is much harder to grasp than most other classes, since there are way more ways to customize it.

This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.

Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in the warlock’s case AF for the Archfey, FI for the Fiend and GO for the Great Old One). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.

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Multiclass-Strength:

  • Brings Pact Magic, which is pretty useful for high class warlocks with some levels in another spellcasting class
  • Invocations can bring some pretty nice basic effects, which will enhance the warlockish experience even with few levels up to the high tier
  • since the warlock’s features lacks in focused power and excels in power over time, you can easily balance the focused power out by taking another class
  • good combinations with every class
  • the capstone isn’t to sneer at, but you won’t find it too sad not to have it until you’re in a lengthy and really difficult dungeon crawl

Offensive:

  • Pact Magic: Some offensive potential here and depending on pact much more incoming. Especially the Eldritch Blast cantrip will be useful in that department.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Agonizing Blast: Obviously more damage.
    • Devil’s Sight: Increases the chances to make damage, especially after making it harder for a lot of enemies.
    • Eldritch Spear: Increased range means more chances to make damage.
    • Lifedrinker: Obviously more damage.
    • Master of Myriad Forms: Well, sometimes you really want claws, I think.
    • Minions of Chaos: More guys to make your damage.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Become something to increase your offense.
    • Thirsting Blade: More attacks means more damage.
    • Witch Sight: Counters these annoying illusion defensive spells, like invisibility in any form.
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Chain: The more powerful familiars can be pretty nice, if you’re still on low-levels and cornering one guy and don’t want to waste more resources than needed. But in the end they’re still not combat material, but at least they share the functions of a normal familiar, too, like touching enemies for you.
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Blade: Warlocks aren’t good melee characters, but this pact make them decent, like a bard. It’s less about making yourself a great combatant and more about making you more diverse. And as long as you don’t have a magical weapon as a pact weapon, you can choose the right weapon at the right time and use it, regardless of what it is.
  • Expanded Spell-list (FI): More offensive spells can make you a spell-slinger for a couple of turns. And if you know you have time for a short rest afterwards, you will make your wizard-buddy look at you with envy in terms of damage.
  • Hurl Through Hell (FI): It’s like another offensive Mystic Arcanum. Only needs to hit with an attack, so any spell with an attack roll is fair game, too.

Resource-Management:

  • Pact Magic: Spell slots which will be regained after every short rest! Cool!
  • Mystic Arcanum: These don’t use up your spell slots, even though they’re powerful. A nice exception of the rule.
  • Eldritch Master: Nice to have, since it shortens the time to regain spell slots once a day.
  • Pact Features (AF, FI, GO): Most of them are regained at a short rest or at-will, so you can use them without too much worry.
  • Pact Magic: Too less spell slots for situations, when you want to cast as much great spells as possible. And even with regaining those slots after a short rest, it’ll slow down the exploration phases, if you’re the only caster with utility spells, which consumes the resource ‘time’.
  • Mystic Arcanum: This red is only compared to other main-spellcasters, since you end up with less high-level spells and can’t use higher spell slots to empower them.

Support:

  • Pact Magic: Not the best spell list for this kind of work, even though the Archfey brings some neat spells and invocations can bring others.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Bewitching Whispers: Less enemies to worry about and more allies for all kind of usage.
    • Chains of Carcer: Lessen the enemies (even though only special types) for a round or two.
    • Dreadful Word: Another one which will decrease your enemies.
    • Mire the Mind: A genuine debuff.
    • Otherwordly Leap: Increasing your jumping distance is a standard way in dungeons to get these hovering bastards, like Flameskulls.
    • Repelling Blast: Push those enemies to the tank, which will save your back line some trouble.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Make one enemy into a beaver, so he won’t do much until the spell ends.
    • Sign of Ill Omen: Debuff are as good as buffs and with less enemies even better.
    • Thief of Five Fates: Another debuff.
    • Witch Sight: Even if your allies can’t use it, you can at least tell them.
  • Expanded Spell-list (AF): The Archfey makes it possible to learn some support and avoiding fights entirely with the Sleep spell at low levels.
  • Hurl Through Hell (FI): Sometimes an enemy brings a mean aura or another nasty effect. With this you can at least get one round of breather.

Survivability:

  • Pact Magic: Some defensive buffs and temporary hit points here, plus some debuffs. Nothing too directly and some of the greatest defenive buffs are missing in this spell list.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Armor of Shadows: Mage armor without spell slots on yourself? Be prepared 24/7!
    • Ascendant Step: Good for melee only opponents which can’t reach that high.
    • Bewitching Whispers: Make one enemy into a friend.
    • Chains of Carceri: Hold that one fiend, fey or celestial which want to slam you.
    • Eldritch Spear: Keep your distance to the danger as long as possible.
    • Fiendish Vigor: Gives you practically additional hp.
    • Mask of Many Faces: Sometimes your best bet is to take the form of an enemy, like a city guard, to survive.
    • Master of Myriad Forms: Aquatic adaptation safes lifes. And of course the ‘look like an enemy’ thing.
    • Minions of Chaos: Have something between you and your doom.
    • Mire the Mind: The slower the opponent, the faster you get away.
    • One with Shadows: Vanish if you’re not needed and there are shadows nearby, which is pretty often the case.
    • Otherwordly Leap: If you can jump over something the enemy can’t, you win. And of course you can position yourself in the first place somewhere much harder to attack.
    • Repelling Blast: Especially useful with multiple Eldritch Blasts: Push them back and move back afterwards for maximum use.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Be either a spider, rat or bird to run away or beef up as a T-Rex!
    • Sign or Ill Omen: Disadvantage with attack rolls against you? Bought!
    • Thief of Five Fates: At least some protection… even though it’s minor.
    • Witch Sight: Those invisible ambushers will have a harder time to ambush. Invisible.
  • Fey Presence (AF): Even though charm and frightened aren’t the best debuffs, you can count on it to keep you safe versus a lot of trouble. Except undead and dragons.
  • Misty Escape (AF): Get damage once, be sure to survive afterwards. Teleport and invisible at the same time are two great ways to mitigate further damage.
  • Beguiling Defenses (AF): While you love to charm, you hate being charmed. And not only being immune to it but to redirect it back to the sender is a very nice thing to do.
  • Dark Delirium (AF): Only one opponent and again it becomes charmed/frightened, but in this version, the enemy is practically out of combat until it breaks.
  • Dark One’s Blessing (FI): Killing stuff and getting temporary hit points. Since temporary hit points are as good as normal hit points when taking damage, you’ll like them.
  • Dark One’s Own Luck (FI): Since it only applies to ability checks and saving throws, you will most likely use it in life-threatening situations.
  • Fiendish Resilience (FI): Since you can choose the type, you can practically prepare after every short rest for the next fights. Oh, there is a green dragon out there? I should better take a poison resistance. And even for bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage it’s great, since silver or magic weapons aren’t too common.
  • Hurl Through Hell (FI): Use it to single out the most annoying enemy and send it away for a round.
  • Entropic Ward (GO): Even though it gives you advantage on one attack roll if it succeeds, the warlock doesn’t have a real damaging spell, which relies on an attack roll. So just use it for the disadvantage for one enemy attack.
  • Thought Shield (GO): If you ever find yourself in the Underdark, you will love this ability. Resistance to psychic damage and to share the rest is a great way to combat aberrations on an even ground and of course illusions will hurt less.
  • Armor Proficiency: Only light armor, which is better than no armor, but since Dexterity isn’t a main ability, you’ll feel the difference in AC.

Utility:

  • Pact Magic: A decent amount of utility spells in this list and the pacts adds some more. It misses the sheer amount of the wizard, but brings some overall useful stuff. And misses long range teleportation spells entirely.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Ascendant Step: Levitate to places you won’t reach otherwise.
    • Beast Speech: Talk to pets and other animals to gather information.
    • Beguiling Influence: More Skill Proficiencies!
    • Bewitching Whispers: Compulsion can do that much.
    • Book of Ancient Secrets: Make your average warlock to a above average dungeon crawler by adding rituals to the mix. From any list.
    • Devil’s Sight: The better darkvision will make you a great scout… at least that’s what your party will think.
    • Eldritch Sight: At will Detect Magic without using 10 minutes for a ritual cast. You will love it.
    • Eyes of the Rune Keeper: Your DM will hate you for this, since ancient writings aren’t supposed to be read. But at least you can read any message your enemy left behind. At least unless the bloody mess made it unreadable.
    • Gaze of Two Minds: Scout ahead with two people… kinda. And of course to make an ambush and time it just right, while hiding somewhere your enemy will never see you.
    • Mask of Many Faces: Look like any humanoid you want. Like the townmaster!
    • Master of Myriad Forms: Be any humanoid you want. Like the king, after kidnapping him.
    • Misty Visions: Minor illusion for maximum usage outside of combat.
    • One with Shadows: Infiltration succeeds.
    • Otherwordly Leap: Jump to places you won’t reach without using resources.
    • Repelling Blast: You can push objects around and that makes it useful.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Polymorph Shenanigans makes great exploration experience.
    • Visions of the Distant Realms: Like Eldritch Sight, only better. And the need for a higher warlock level.
    • Voice of the Chain Master: If you want to talk with someone without being there.
    • Whisper of the Grave: Dead people can tell you a lot. Especially concerning their deads.
    • Witch Sight: This is not the king, but a shapeshifter!
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Chain: With a familiar with several special abilities, dungeoneering and some urban strategies becomes much easier. Having an imp go invisible to follow a goon back to headquarters to get the whole band? Easy!
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Tome: Of course it depends partly on the cantrips, but since most cantrips are meant to be useful, I didn’t saw the need to put it in other categories. But the real power of this feature is due the Book of Ancient Secrets Invocation, which enhances your utility tenfold.
  • Fey Presence (AF): You know, you can choose the effect to make a conversation go more smoothly?
  • Dark Delirium (AF): If you want to let a guard being less on guard, don’t use drugs but dreams!
  • Dark One’s Own Luck (FI): If you have that one ability check which would fail otherwise, you can use this feature after seeing the result to correct it. If you’re lucky enough.
  • Expanded Spell-list (GO): Even though the new spell selection is very versatile, the most interesting options are in the utility-department, like detect thoughts.
  • Awakened Mind (GO): Telepathy at-will, even if you don’t share a language. Great ability, which have a lot of possibilities, the best part is the fact, that you can organize the party in a silent manner. Or use it to deceive someone or at least get the attention.
  • Create Thrall (GO): Only for humanoid targets, but if you ever need a spy, you can simply make you one. But only charmed, so it’s still less than a total control.

Grading:

Multiclass: Fantastic
Offense: Good to Great (FI)
Resource Management: Great
Support: Bad
Survivability: Decent to Good (AF, FI)
Utility: Good to Great (GO)

Overall: Good

Multiclass warlocks are pretty common in the forums, mostly because you can grasp some really nice features with only a few warlock levels when focusing on another class or instead take a few level in another class, to enhance your warlock build. This is possible, since the warlock class is much more customizable than your average class, so the customize option ‘multiclass’ just add to that strength.

One of the strengths of the warlock are the Invocations, which enhances any category you feel is lacking, but at the same time every warlock have one problem: The power of the moment. Without short rests a warlock lacks a lot of power, since he have less resources but it’s easier to regain those. So for short and hard encounters the warlock loses out against every other class, while on a long adventuring day with the common 3 short rests, he will be at least reliable and at the end have more spells left than the other arcane casters.

But first you need to get to this point, since other classes lacks the means to regain resources early in the game and you don’t want to go on an adventure, while your companions hit rock bottom of their power.  So at the start you will be underwhelming, then you become reliable and in the end it all comes down how well you build up your warlock.

I suggest the warlock class for everyone who likes having options and not too specialized. For those who wants options and be specialized, I suggest a warlock-multiclassing, which are very common these days as ideas on the forums. You can combine the warlock with any other class to make it work better in one department.

 

The wizard’s overview will have to wait, since I never got the chance to speak about the other books and want to finish the game reports of the Tyranny of Dragons campaign I’m mastering. Even though we didn’t get that far there, sadly.

Tyranny of Dragon Report 02

Got entangled with a video game and failed the saving and strength checks multiple times. About every day, using a lot of precious non-working time on that. But now it’s played (even though I might start the sequel soon) and I want to write a bit before seeking for new pleasures.

But we had our second Tyranny of Dragons Session, if you haven’t read the first even though you want to, here is the link.

Level Up:

Since we play with only 3 players, I use the XP like normal, since it should balance itself out at some point. But in the last session, we got enough XP to gain 2 levels, so I let the players decide, if they really want to skip the 2nd level entirely. And after some thoughts they said yes.
So we have now our lightly enhanced party, Konrad took the Oath of Vengeance and Aelar entered the Circle of the Land (Forest), since he tries to emerge in the role of a supporter and healer, a thing he hadn’t done before.

The characters:

Aelar Naïlo (Woodelf Druid; NG) – Aelar is an elf in his 3rd century and saw a lot. But most of the time he spent learning, first to become a druid, but after he got prophetic dreams every fifth tenday, he tried to learn what these dreams mean. So he traveled around the Sword Coast, searching for different tomes and mentors and ended up learning from a Copper Dragon, since his dreams showed signs about the destruction by chromatic dragons. And who could possibly know more about dragons than dragons themselves? But after years of study, his dreams became much more vivid and came more often, so he thought it was time to bring his knowledge to the field and prevent the oncoming disaster. And it seems, that Greenest will be the first of many steps of this way.
His background is Outlander to show how much he traveled, his campaign-bound are those prophetic dreams, which comes every fifth night now. His personality makes him more patient, taking time to see problems from different angles, while he has the flaw to underestimate the short-lived races, since they can’t possibly acclaim the experience of the centuries. He decided to take the Dragon Scholar trait instead of his Outlander one, since he is well-versed in terms of dragons.

Enna Amakiir (Half-Elf Sorceress; CN) – Enna was once a street-kid in Waterdeep who cut purses. One day she tried to steal from two cultists from the Cult of Dragon, but was caught. Since she was quite dexterous, the cultists decided to adopt her, but years after members of the Cult, Frulam Mondath, Bog Log and Rezmir backstabbed her adoptive parents to further their goals and even Enna was thought dead. But after fleeing first, she changed her appearance and took an alias to join the Cult again, even though in another region. After passing the tests, she chose the red affinity and since she seemed to be viable, she was one of the chosen new Dragonclaws (practically the lowest rank within the cult after a test-phase as an initiate), which should be used in an experiment to grant the specimen draconic magic. For this an organ of a wyrmling and a blood-transfusion was made, Enna’s left eye was replaced and she was one of those who survived. After some basic training, she became a Dragon Sorcerer, the power she sought to execute her revenge. And after hearing, that at least 2 of her 3 targets planned to attack the town Greenest, she decided to travel there.
To express the life on the street, she took the Urchin background and replaced the trait with the Cult of the Dragon Infiltrator, while choosing the bound of revenge for her parents. She’s neither trusting, nor trustworthy, but she does what’s necessarily for survival, even though some of her actions seem suicidal.

Konrad Dorn (Human Paladin; LG): Konrad is a son of one of the Nine of Neverwinter and seek to follow his father’s footsteps. He was trained by Ontharr Frume, a paladin of Torm, but since Konrad is pretty ambitious and seeks a more direct and stark way to confer good and justice, he decided to take Bahamuth as his patron deity. After reaching knighthood, he wanted to gain experience and spread the good to the world, so his mentor offered him a quest: To visit Greenest and
Even though Konrad is a knight, he’s also a Noble by birth, so he took the standard background. His bound lies within his mentor/pupil-relationship with Ontharr Frume (an important NPC of the campaign) and while he is generous and couth, he can also be fierce and sometimes a bit slick, especially when women comes into play.

Summary:

This is a Game Report of the second Episode of Tyranny of Dragons, which got completed that day, so if you haven’t played it but want to, don’t read any further. This time we didn’t got that much game-time, since one had to leave early, but we got through that one barely… Good enough!
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The raiders were fought back and the party showed some saiyan-feature: Getting stronger after being on the brink of death. Especially Konrad, who got his ass whooped by Langdedrosa Cyanwrath. After a long rest, Governor Nighthill asked the players to visit the camp of the raiders to gather more information. The party accepted, even though Enna wanted to hear about the reward first.
Before they left, a monk of Berdusk asked them to look for another brother, the half-elf monk Leosin Erlanthar. He studied the Cult of Dragons before and they came to Greenest for some further investigations and Leosin’s colleague feared that the half-elf got captured in the attacked or (maybe worse) tried to infiltrate the cult at that opportunity. So another check-point to the list.
After a while of following the very obvious path a small army leaves behind, they saw some cooking fire smoke a mile ahead and decided to get a look. When they got closer, Aelar decided to scout ahead and wild shaped himself into a mouse, so he wouldn’t get another look, even when detected.
There was a small camp there with 4 humans and 8 kobolds, after watching those a while, they didn’t seem that careful, made a camp in a tactically poor place and weren’t showing awareness at all. After reporting, the party didn’t thought of them as a rearguard, but most likely stragglers. Time for intelligence gathering, means first looking for traps around that camp, a bit of sabotage afterwards, then putting some of them into sleep and finally, beating the rest up.
They got the hint, where a real rearguard could be and bound the survivors on a tree. Avoiding the rearguard wasn’t a problem with this information, there was no reason to risk the mission by attacking it. If the rearguard gives an ‘all-OK’, then it’s much easier to infiltrate the camp.
Since it was only a day since the Greenest attack, stragglers coming back to the camp weren’t too unusual. The cultists still weren’t at uniform and they hired a bunch of mercenaries, so after blending in (with a Charisma Check), they could move freely.
Here the problems started. Konrad wasn’t willing to befriend cultists for gathering information, so he took a look around the camp, while avoiding the tents and the cave, which got highlighted in importance, for the case, he run into Langdedrosa. Aelar used his second wild shape per rest during the straggler fight and they didn’t rest before, but he was also fixed at the idea of entering the cave. He wanted to leave the camp again for collecting poisonous herbs to mix it in the guard’s meal, so they get diarrhea. Not bad per se, but leaving the camp might get too much attention and they still knew nothing. So for leaving the camp unnoticed, he wanted to take a short rest to regain wild shape. Enna took the liberty to mesh into the cult (like she did in the past) and gather some information.
After rolling on a list I made, Konrad and Enna could do their actions, while Aelar who wanted to rest, met up with Frulam, who became suspicious of Aelar, since he was resting at a random place! She talked to him and the dialogue left both inactive players grind their teeth, since Aelar wasn’t humble and ‘initiatish’ at all. I described her down to the Purple Robes, without calling her name, but he sadly forgot about the fact, that Wearer of Purple are high ranked members of the cult and if it’s not a half-dragon, it has to be Frulam. It was very fun to see the other players reaction.
If you served the army for compulsory military service (or watched some movies with that theme), you know that one guy, who is kinda wishy-washy, reeks out of unwillingness, and subtly doesn’t accept any authority without speaking that line out. Aelar was this case, but he tried his best, after Frulam asked some questions.
It may be mean to say, but his answers were… shocking. Like ‘Where did you join the cult?’ He said: ‘The last town, how was it called…?’ ‘Interesting. And who recruited you?’ ‘Erm… that kobold. Can’t exactly pronounce its name… and they all look the same.’ I get old, I guess. Because I brainfarted for some seconds there, not able to have a clear thought. I guess Frulam was the same.
Too unsure if this was the worst cultist or spy in history, Frulam made the character standing watch at Leosin, who got captured before and now was tied up at the tents, while one of Frulam’s trusted men was observing him. More to see, if there was any kind of reaction there, while she would consult Rezmir later (even though the PCs didn’t knew about that).
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Leosin was in a pretty bad shape and when he was coughing, Aelar used this to secretly put a Goodberry into his mouth, while pretending slapping the monk. It became a suspicious incident, but the watcher of Aelar didn’t notice the real intend. Afterwards Aelar began talking to his watcher in a nonchalant manner, acting like an airhead. He got too many lucky rolls there!
Meanwhile Konrad found other prisoners and Enna began to obtain the reasons, why the cultists are here: To gather treasures for a big hoard to present it to the Dragon Queen, so Tiamat will rise from the Nine Hells to the world. That can’t be good! She heard about the fact, that in the cave will be the treasures additionally to the dragon eggs, and some other informations, which might be interesting for the governor.
Enna and Konrad met up, Aelar not. He was still under observation, so he didn’t want to risk meeting the others. Enna was about to plan an assassination of two of her three targets, Rezmir and Frulam Mondath, but Konrad on the other side wanted to free all prisoners as quickly as possible. Since he declared he’d do this even this night, Enna who would need a lot more of preparation time had to concede, especially since she wants to survive her revenge: Killing leaders inside a big camp without good means of escaping might be a bit suicidal, especially if said leaders aren’t helpless either.
So they sought out Aelar, Konrad was able to notice that Aelar was consciously avoiding them and thought, it’d be better to realize his plans without him. Enna found out where Leosin was held captured and after a session of minor work, they ‘switched’ nightly guard duty with some cultists.
At night Aelar was able to use the darkness to lose his warder and he wanted to free Leosin himself, where he met the other two. Leosin who remembered the Goodberry told the party openly, that he doesn’t wish to be freed, since he was about to gather some precious information, but since the characters planned to free the other prisoners, he resigned. They put on a dummy, sneaked to the other prisoners who were locked up for the night, picked the lock and freed them. Since they reduced the night watch by taking over that post, it was quite easy until they got to the watchtower at the entrance. After some thought and a gentle reminder of the ability to cast spells at higher slots, the high risk sleep (which would put down 2 guards at average to sleep and will definitely caught attention with the chanting) became a low-to-mid risk sleep, since casting it on 2nd spell level definitely put the numbers to their favor.
The escape succeeded! They returned to Greenest with Leosin and the other prisoners without too much of a ruckus. And timely.

Afterthoughts:

Player’s side: If the moon druid have one flaw, it’s the fact that he has to really weight up every wild shape he wants to use. Only 2 per short rest and combat forms makes most of his class, while the often much better way is to use wild shape to become something weak, but not outstanding. And something you can ignore if you’re still detected.
And yes, remember that you can always cast spells at higher spell-levels! Especially the Sleep-spell enhances its use more steeply than other ones, even though it might lose a bit of handiness in the high levels.
Finally, it’s a dumb idea to give some attitude to someone who is leading the camp you’re spying on. As long as you don’t try to become a Power Ranger, attitude should be presented with care. Helps in RL, too.

DM’s side: The really hard part was to hint to the players, they don’t have to enter the cave and that it’s a recon mission, instead of a spying one. Gladly, after detecting those prisoners, Konrad forced his ideals to the other PCs and it went smoothly like the adventure said. I mean: How can PCs even think about forcing their way into the cave, if access is very restricted and too much cultists to fight are in the camp?!

DM-Work:

Preparation time: About 20 min, 7 min of reading and 13 min of noting down some possible ‘random encounters’, which might occur, when they roam or stand around the camp. Got the Frulam Encounter there, too.

Here for reference: After the players decide to take action, roll a d20.
1-8: The PC can make the called action without further interference.
9-12: The character will be assigned to a job by a higher cult member, roll a d6 (1: Standing watch at the entrance; 2-3: Standing guard by the prisoners; 4-5 move crates, food brought by the hunters and other goods; 6: Be assigned to a job outside the camp, like replacing one of the rearguard)
13-16: A cultist remembers the character from the attack of Greenest, but not necessarily its role. Maybe he thinks of the character as a mercenary or has no idea why the character is that familiar, but is ready to find out.
15-17: Langedrosa comes by, the player character must make a DC Charisma Check to hide in the cultist crowd, otherwise Langdedrosa might notice them. A character which fought against Langedrosa is immediately
18: Frulam Mondath becomes suspicious of the character’s action and she/he has to roleplay her/his way out.
19: Rezmir is making an example to increase the camp’s discipline again. And the character was one of the randomly chosen ‘initiates’, who get bound, whipped and/or Dragon Breathed.
20: Be evil.

Changes: Add a personality to Frulam? And cutting some corners in gathering information, after confirming that only Enna was willing and able to do it, to decrease some game time. The player would have get any bit of information out there with time, but letting the player roll for feeling it was accomplished is simply way faster than using a lot of time to make an ingame-dialogue, which would bore the other players.

Special Techniques: I rotated the players regularly, normally first to say what they want to do in camp, afterwards I handled every one of them by ‘timing’ and used up playtime so far. After that, mostly improvisation, since social encounters works more smoothly that way. Every DM should have some impro-skills or be willing to learn those, since it makes the game less mechanical and cuts down preparation time immensely in a social situation. If you disagree, try running ‘World of Darkness’ without any improvisation and you will find a very sad system.

Final Thought: This was more of a social challenge and it was kinda bumpy, since Konrad didn’t want to befriend the cultists in any way if possible and Aelar’s player almost got them captured. Even though there is a captured paragraph, it’s hard to punish someone who tries to roleplay, but just got the wrong idea what would be wise to do, especially with a character who has actually a above average wisdom score.
But at least I’m happy that he rolled well and after talking to him, I hope he understood where the problem lies. He got that much better after playing Scion, but in D&D he’s not a child of a god and can’t boost with a body, who is almost maxed in the undestructible-department.
As a paladin of vengeance, Konrad can actually lie his way into the camp, but since he plays a young fool with too much stories about heroics in his head, this wasn’t too bad in a roleplay point of view. Even though that simply means, that in infiltration Enna have to carry the whole party and there are some segments in this module, where infiltration is smarter than assault.
But in the end, a great day, especially since after a combat-heavy start, now a social interaction took most of the time. So module really likes to introduce one pillar at the time, next time it’ll become a dungeoneering experience, so the third pillar, exploration, will be introduced in this edition. Hope they didn’t forget how to do it…

Ranger Variant (without spells)

Since it came up in the wizard forum, I made a ranger variant without spells. Even though it will most likely be less powerful, it should do the job.

Additional Tool Proficiency: Traps (for setting up an complicated trap, craft a trap, hiding a trap, etc.)

Use this table instead the normal one for class traits

1st: Fighting Style, Favored Enemy
2nd: Natural Explorer, Hunter’s Action (use a Bonus Action to either disengage or set up a trap)
3rd: Ranger Archetype, Primeval Awareness (WIS-mod per day, at minimum length)
4th: Ability Score Improvement
5th: Extra Attack
6th: Favored Enemy Improvement, Skill Expertise (three skills/tools [traps would be tools, too])
7th: Ranger Archetype Feature
8th: Natural Explorer Improvement, Ability Score Improvement
9th: Land Stride, Expert Trapper (add your prof bonus on DC of traps you’re setting)
10th: Ability Score Improvement, Favored Enemy Improvement
11th: Ranger Archetype Feature
12th: Ability Score Improvement
13th: Hide in Plain Sight, Natural Explorer Improvement
14th: Favored Enemy Improvement, Vanish
15th: Ranger Archetype Feature
16th: Ability Score Improvement
17th: Favored Enemy Improvement, Natural Explorer Improvement
18th: Feral Senses
19th: Ability Score Improvement
20th: Foe Slayer

Differences:

  • Some features changed their level, to keep the power-gain per level in check
  • Hunter’s Action added at 2nd level, a variety of the Cunning Action of the Rogue
  • Primeval Awareness got (since lacking spell slots) a per day use of the ranger’s WIS mod at the minimum length
  • Skill Expertise at 6th level, since this build have some trap synergy (if you don’t have magic, go mechanical!), player gets reminded, that you could possibly say traps are tools in a sense (which got already mentioned in the tool proficiency)
  • Expert Trapper added at 9th level, which makes even mundane traps pretty dangerous
  • an additional Ability Score improvement at 10th level
  • 5 favored enemy and 4 natural explorer overall, to increase the variety of the ranger and keep it ranger-like without too much trouble

This build suffers in the damage department of a damage focused normal ranger and even don’t have that much utility to boast around, if you consider all the possible spells which would be possible. But since spells are harder to grasp in power-level and ranger’s and that good spellcasters, I personally think the use of at-will features which will come handy every time and more specific features which doesn’t use up any resources. Especially increasing favored enemies and natural explorer makes it much more reliable, since you got a broader array of choices and more favored enemies enhances the foe slayer capstone.

Short today, won’t probably get to the warlock overview until Monday, since I got some gamedays before me (even though I try).

What makes the warlock different?

I already said, that the warlock is an entirely different class than any other. That mean, while you can somehow categorize the other classes into some generic groups (like fighter, paladin, barbarian as the front-liners, ranger and rogue as the skirmishers/artillery, bard, cleric and druid as the support/healer and sorcerer and wizard as the arcane support/blasting), the warlock might be everything and none to it.

The basic of this view follows the fact, that the warlock uses a lot of unique mechanism, while other classes has some very basic commonalities, like Extra Attack for the weapon based, spellcasting trait, etc. So this means, that despite all differences, you can get a bit of insight what these class are supposed to do.

The warlock is supposed to be a main-caster in a way, but lacks spellcasting. He uses Pact Magic, which is quite different. He isn’t as squishy as a standard wizard/sorcerer, but have the basic defense capabilities of a rogue. And with the Invocation mechanism, he can be pretty well customized on a basic level (means there will never be need for a new kind of subclasses, which would replace standard features like Pathfinder archetypes do), be it in focusing on damage, utility, spellpower or other departments.

And of course he has practically 2 subclasses, one pact which would be the real subclass and the pact boon, which doesn’t have anything to do with the pact in the first place, but will affect many builds as much if not more than the choice of fey, fiend or great old.

This makes the options of customization fourfold: Known spells, Invocations, subclass, Pact Boon. A fey warlock with the pact blade will feel much different than one with the pact tome, since the focused went from enhanced weapon damage (and the utility to use the weapon you want unless you got another item bounded) to utility-magic focused type, even though both excels in mind-affecting and tricky spells. And if you would change to the pact of the fiend instead, you got your weapon plus a bunch of offensive potential.

 

So even when writing my overview I just get the feeling, I can’t really pin down this class as good as others. Even though the cleric is problematic, since his domain will give him a huge jump and change the class focus for a great mileage, the warlock is just more complicated. And if you get into feats and other non-class dependent customization, you can do about anything with this class, even though it might not excel in it. But if a warlock would be a better fighter than the fighter, I would definitely complain about it.

But for most people who are looking forward or have already fun playing a warlock, this variety might be exactly the reason why to. Personally, I’d like to play a fey pact blade warlock, combining a charming personality, swashbuckling and a bit of useful spells, even consider to not take Eldritch Blast as a cantrip or even if I do, to ignore the Agonizing Blast Invocation, since there are so many other nice ones there.

Homebrew Genasi

This is a home-brew version of the genasi, which I wrote before the Player’s Companion: Temple of Elemental Evil. So if you want to grab the real one, you’d better download the .pdf on the Supplement page.

Since the DMG got released and we got a few peak-views, I’m pretty excited to use those few things I know. Here I tried to use the official excerpt of the DMG to create a well-known but less used race: Genasi. Much like the tiefling, but with a more elemental flair.

I’m going solely mechanical to this, since I think that those who know them, should know their fluff as well and the time I got left is going to be spend to the warlock overview (and it’s less enough).

Earth, Fire, Wind, Water and Heart! Well, less heart, but you know...

Even if the Genasi are further categorized as Fire Genasi, Earth Genasi, etc. they share the same basic idea: The blood of elementals (means Dao, Efreeti, Marid and Djinni for exampel) combined with the blood of mortals. So we choose the same base race (genasi) and add (for now) 5 subraces, windsoul, earthsoul, firesoul, windsoul and stormsoul.

Since there are similarities origin-wise with the tiefing, I use it as a basic. Then I look into my 3e and 4e Forgotten Realms and realize, that it might be a bit difficult. But in the end I realized, that the Genasi are supposed to be a bit like elemental warriors, using magic and physical power, so I think I got a good conses.

Genasi

Ability Score Increase: +1 Intelligence

Age: Genasi matures at the same rate as humans, but live a few years longer

Alignment: Since they have a elemental nature, genasis are more leaned to a neutral alignment.

Size: Genasi are about the same size as humans, even though depending on their element their stature differs. Your size is Medium.

Speed: Your base walking speed is 30ft

Languages: Common and Primordial

Subrace: Choose one of the following subraces.

Earthsoul

Ability Score Increase: +2 Strength

Elemental Resistance: You have resistance to acid damage

Earthen Legacy: You know the blade ward cantrip. Once you reached 3rd level, you can cast the thunderwave spell once per day as a 2nd-level spell. Once you reached the 5th level, you can cast the spike growth spell once per day. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Firesoul

Ability Score Increase: +2 Dexterity

Elemental Resistance: You have resistance to fire damage

Fiery Legacy: You know the produce flame cantrip. Once you reached 3rd level, you can cast the burning hands spell once per day as a 2nd-level spell. Once you reached the 5th level, you can cast the heat metal spell once per day. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Stormsoul

Ability Score Increase: +2 Strength

Elemental Resistance: You have resistance to lightning damage

Stormy Legacy: You know the light cantrip. Once you reached 3rd level, you can cast the witch bolt spell once per day as a 2nd-level spell. Once you reached the 5th level, you can cast the shatter spell once per day as a 3rd-level spell. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Watersoul

Ability Score Increase: +2 Constitution

Elemental Resistance: You have resistance to cold damage

Watery Legacy: You know the resistance cantrip. Once you reached 3rd level, you can cast the create or destroy water spell once per day as a 2nd-level spell. Once you reached the 5th level, you can cast the blur spell once per day. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Windsoul

Ability Score Increase: +2 Dexterity

Elemental Resistance: You have resistance to lightning damage

Earthen Legacy: You know the mage hand cantrip. Once you reached 3rd level, you can cast the featherfall spell once per day. Once you reached the 5th level, you can cast the gust of wind spell once per day. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

So let’s talk about some choices: Earthsoul was hard, since there are less earth-themed spells there, but after consulting the 4e power and the 3e fluff (for female earthsouls), I went with a shockwave and growing plants. Produce flame for firesoul was a hard choice, since its damage increases over the time, but since one action is creating that flame and another to throw it, it shouldn’t break anything. Not everytime the spell is cast at a higher level, since here and there I felt like overall it would be too powerful, like seeing the fire genasi, who has a pure damage based legacy (even though I did consider misty step there).

That the subrace gives a greater ability improvement is meant to be, since the element should have some physical impact.

I’m sure I like what I’ll see as the official genasi, but sometimes you just get a bit giddy in thinking about what could be. For now it’ll work. 😉

Bound to level

Since time issues and the fact, that the warlock is unlike any other class, I’ll postpone the overview for now, I try to make it happen any day, but make it so, that I first write a less time.consuming post and afterwards put some time into drafting the overview piece a piece.

For today like to talk about levels and level-bound traits. These came up when playing and after seeing some postings about it, I thought that it might still be confusing. And sometimes not even that clear.

First, I want to explain, that I will not talk about the traits, which are entirely bound to classes, where the improvements are part of the class table (like Wild Shape, Aura Improvement, Extra Attacks, etc.), but where the character level seems to be the deciding factor or at least could be.

Second, I will take on the ability score improvement trait, which is now bounded to class, instead of character level, simply because I think this is somehow viable to talk about in this post.

Third, every DM is free to make changes to it, so if you don’t feel like this is a good or logical choice, you’re free to disagree. But you should expect that others don’t agree to your disagreement and stay cool about it.

Cantrips: Taken from this site here:

With cantrips, does a MC caster use their character or class level for determining damage? A multiclass character uses character level to determine the damage of a cantrip. -J

Cantrips comes from multiple choices, starting with spellcasting classes, races (like the high elf) or feats (Magic Initiate). Since the offensive cantrips are meant to rival multiple attacks at some point, they become stronger with rising level, but why should it be character level be the basic?

OK, there are multiple ways to get them and even if a high elf isn’t needlessly a wizard, it doesn’t mean that he won’t put some work into it. Same for a ranger/wizard or other combination of caster/non/less-caster class. Even though you might suspect, that it would be illogical if the fighter picks up the wizard class after having a lot of fighter levels and have as lethal cantrips as an non-evocation wizard of the same level.

Multiclassing shouldn’t punish or reward players ideally and dishing out damage per round is somewhat crucial for staying competitive through the levels. Extra attacks are the way for melees and these don’t stack, so why would cantrips do it in any way? Counter-question: How much does it hurt? Since cantrips are still often inferior to weapon choices of weapon-focused class (at the at-will department), you often needs some basic traits of these classes to make them stronger, limiting either your options (like warlock Invocations) or the need to take some levels (like Arcane Tradition of Evocation).

I don’t really see any damage here, especially since most cantrips aren’t that reliable in comparisons to other at-will features.

Warlock Invocations prerequisite: This is a thing, which is asked quite often. Do you need the specific character or warlock level to choose those high-level invocations? RAW it doesn’t become clear, but if you look at those features, it seems kinda unfair to other classes to make this 2 level dip into warlock something which gives you some features you wouldn’t be able to get when multiclassing into another class. Jeremy Crawford answered in his twitter (source):

The intent is that a level prerequisite in a warlock invocation refers to warlock level.

Intend doesn’t needlessly means that it’s meant to be a rule. I would decide on a case to case basic here, a valor bard/blade warlock who seeks to increase the damage a bit with the Lifedrinker-Invocation might get another treatment as a paladin who seeks to do the same. It’s about how much the party might need it (if you run official modules with 3 characters, you might consider that this is within reason or if the player of the tank is leaving the party due personal circumstances and no one could otherwise be that melee-prescience).

But for the most part, I agree.

Ability Score Improvements (or feats): In 3e and 4e these were bounded to character level, now they’re not, which is bad for multiclass characters. At the beginning, a great “Why?!”-wave came around and after all that time, some don’t even tried to understand. There were a lot of change-requests, house rules and the like flowing around (like feats at 1st level, bounding the ASI at character level and such).

Before house-ruling something, I suggest trying it out first. It’s really not that bad. And there are some reasons not to be so fast to expand it:

  • The team are unlikely to be composed of idiots, since they got the job in one of the greatest companies in the gaming business
    • classes aren’t design to have the ASI at character levels, which would lead to dead levels (means no benefit), if the normal ones are taken away
  • Multiclassing brings other features, seems even logical that characters wouldn’t have the resources to improve abilities or learn a new feat in the meanwhile
  • Most feats are terrifying strong and define characters quite strongly. In most cases, you will feel the benefits of a feat much more than the benefit of a ASI, at least that’s what I experienced so far. They can easily match up to class features in terms of benefits and are often even more overwhelming than those at the mid-levels
    • I do think, the human variant is the more D&D-like human (at least 3e upwards) and the standard is the one you only tend to use when feats are not allowed. Since feats are so strong, a lot of (PC-)Adventurers are actually human.

So why should you even expand to those without thinking things through and not even trying to use the actual rules at this point? Of course there might be good reasons, like having less PCs than normal, but I run a campaign with 3 PCs and advanced standard rules (means multiclassing allowed [nobody wants to], variant human [one] and feats [at least 2 will take a feat at 4th level instead of ASI]) and even if the start was hard, they managed.

So, that’s it. If I missed something, please feel free to comment and I’ll add it.