Over on Google+, +Benjamin Baugh was thinking about damage reduction in place of increased hit difficulty for D&D armor.

This obviously strikes a chord with this GURPS (and D&D) player, and I replied:

Even if you run screaming from the game, the implications of negated attacks and armor as damage reduction/resistance are fully fleshed out in GURPS. It assumes that an attack “good enough to hit” is only the first step, and there are two different opportunities to negate it – a defense roll and the “damage soak” provided by armor.

Lots of concepts implicit in the rules that you could choose to ignore or map to D&D mechanics.

In fact, I think I’m going to yoink this thread and see what I can make of it. :-)

Rather than write a post that says “do this,” I’m going to start with thinking about the kinds of things that might have to be true in order to map a GURPS-like combat sequence to D&D mechanics.

Why Bother?


Well, firstly, I obviously like the GURPS sequence of attack-defend-penetrate armor-resolve injury. I feel that it involves more player agency, since the defense roll also comes with a plethora of tactical options, including yielding ground, special parry types, damaging parries, and the ability to do a “riposte” that sacrifices the ability to defend this around for an extra increase to hit in a following round. 

So yeah: if you just like roll 1d20+bonus vs. your AC, by all means keep doing it. I do it five times a month and have a riotously good time, so this is in the nature of a thought experiment.


The Key Questions


GURPS asks different questions for resolving attacks than does D&D. They are, basically

1) Did you throw a blow good enough to hit a target, assuming he doesn’t do anything about it?

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s not. If you’ve even been in martial arts training, you’ve either thrown, or seen thrown, kicks and punches that are terribly, awfully mistimed, or (more often) where the distance is just completely wrong. The defender could just stand there, and the attack would still miss. In fact, more advanced students will do exactly that, while beginners will attempt to defend anyway. 

In GURPS, the basic hit chances can start out pretty low, especially for Joe Normal. A punch would default to DX, while a weapon attack would probably default to something like DX-5, which is a crazy-low Skill-5 which you can see in one of my more widely-read Melee Academy posts is really, really awful. If you’re attacking another Joe Average, you’re probably looking at an All-Out Telegraphic attack. That would be an 83% chance to throw a blow worthy of landing (but your foe’s defenses will be 50% or higher in that situation). 

But I digress. The key is, the first question is “did you throw something worthy of hitting a doofus who’s basically just standing there?” It doesn’t take that many points in skill, plus the All-Out and Telegraphic options, to make the answer to this question “Yes, yes I did” often enough that you can presume it. 

Of course, you can’t defend if you do that.

2) OK, here comes a blow worthy of hitting. Does the foe defend, and how?

This one gives you three options. You may always try and dodge; and if terrain and your maneuver selection allows, you can also retreat for a big honkin’ bonus. If Joe Untrained can back the hell up, this one will start at about 62% chance of success, boosted to 83% if he’s receiving a Telegraphic Attack.

He can also parry, which is to use a weapon or unarmed technique to ward off the blow. This is based on combat skill, and the more skilled you are, the better your defenses. But it takes a +2 in your skill to give you a +1 to defend – it’s presumed to be harder than attacking.

Finally, if he’s got a shield, he can block. This is basically a parry with a shield, but it also works with arrows (which normal parries do not) and has some advantages when parrying weapons like flails. 

Dodge is based on your speed, equal to 3+(DX+HT)/4; Parry and Block are 3+Skill/2.

3) OK, you hit the guy. Was he wearing armor? If so, did you hit it hard enough to either penetrate it or deliver damage through it anyway?


Once you hit and your foe fails to defend, you roll damage . . . and if your target has no Damage Resistance, he takes HP of injury. If he does, you subtract the DR from the damage. This can nullify the attack, even if it hits.

4. You penetrated his armor. Is he dead yet?


This one’s pretty universal. Get down to 0 HP or lower, and Bad Things happen.

Good grief, get to the D&D part already!


Right. Now we start to play.

The D&D question set is smaller. It basically treats steps 2 and 3 as a single, passive score. If you overcome this score, you proceed to 4. Now, there are a few exceptions. You can Dodge in D&D, a whole-turn action that, well . . . the rules are now online. So:

DODGEWhen you take the Dodge action, you focus entirely on avoiding attacks. Until the start of your next turn, any attack roll made against you has disadvantage if you can see the attacker, and you make Dexterity saving throws with advantage. You lose this benefit if you are incapacitated (as explained in appendix A) or if your speed drops to 0.

With apologies to WotC, I’ve linked some commentary I made about Advantage and Disadvantage, a mechanic that keeps on giving. Really, it’s genius.

Still, what happens here is you roll your attack, and if you beat the Armor Class of your foe, you injure him – or if you’re bugged about injury in the face of short rests, you at least reduce his Hit Points.

A starting D&D character – who is probably NOT Joe Normal – swinging at a guy with average stats in mail armor (call it a chain shirt) will roll 1d20+2+his STR bonus, and that’s likely to be a +3 if you choose from the Basic Array and play a human. So 1d20+5 vs an AC 15 (assuming DX bonus of +2, from the Standard Array). Basically a 50% chance of doing injury.

It of course will depend on how far you want to go with this, but in general, if you’re going to look at attack, defend, absorb damage:

  • Hitting should probably be easier, and you should get better at it as your level increases. The second part (thanks to proficiency bonuses) is true already.
  • Defending should be a thing. Dodge and defensive movement might still be rolled into a passive effect, or they might be active effects. 
  • Damage resistance would have to be worked out by armor type. Weapon damage might need to increase to compensate. Maybe not. If high level means you are negating more and more attacks with active defenses, this may mean HP need to come down. Maybe way down.

Let’s Try


OK, so we’re going to GURPSify D&D. [Cue howls of outrage. OK, better now? Good.]

The attack roll

I’m tempted to just say Roll 1d20 plus the usual bonuses vs. a DC of 10. This gives our Joe Average (well, not exactly average, if he’s a 1st level fighter with STR 16, CON 15, DEX 14, INT 11, WIS 13, CHA 9) at first level 1d20+5, and a 20th-level character with STR 20 and a proficiency bonus of +6 a 1d20+11. He’s always going to hit. As he should.

I’m going to speculate that we’ll want how well he hits to matter. In GURPS, this is done by the mechanic of Deceptive Attack – you take a penalty to your hit roll, and half that penalty applies to your foe’s defenses.

This is a bit more risky than the Margin of Success method, but this is D&D, not GURPS – let’s forget that. We’ll go with a single roll, which determines your quality of hit:

Make an attack roll vs. DC 10. Note your margin of success.


Level 1 character: average hit chance 75%; average margin of success on a hit 7.5.
Level 17 character (assumes STR 20): 95% hit chance; average margin on a hit 12


The Defense Roll


The defender gets a roll to ward the blow. The skill of the character (or level of the monster) should matter for parries and blocks. Many animals and monsters will simply try and dodge. Let’s call that Evade, to distinguish it from the official Dodge rule above.

Evade


This should probably be a DEX-based roll, against something like 8 or 10 plus the foe’s DEX bonus, and maybe the proficiency bonus as well. At 1st level, that’s going to be about +4, while the incoming hit roll will have succeeded (or else you wouldn’t defend) and so have a margin from 0 to 15 (assuming another 1st level assailant). If you want two first level characters to stay more or less the same chance of a successful blow landing, defenses are going to be pretty low. Something like only succeeding 30-35% of the time. So if you’re rolling with DEX and proficiency of +4, you’re looking at DC 18 or so, which conveniently means your target might be something like 10+Margin.

How does that work for our Level 17 hero? A fighter gets seven ability score increases, each of which is a +2. He can get to his STR 20 with a two +2 bonuses, or a single +2 and two well-chosen Feats. That leaves four or five others. Let’s assume he gets a single +2 to DEX, with another +2 for CON, and then two or three actual martial Feats. So STR 20, DEX 16, CON 18, and a bunch of Feats, probably four (one of which probably raises STR by 1). Lots of ways to get there, but the point is, our Level 17 fighter is rolling 1d20+9 against a DC 22 incoming blow. He’ll succeed 40% of the time vs. a foe of his own quality, and against the 1st level guy at DC 17, 60% of the time. 

I don’t think this is enough disparity between Level 1 and Level 17 here. But then, our Level 1 character will be rolling 1d20+5 against our Level 17’s AC of 20 assuming non-magical plate and a shield. 30% chance to hit. Against the active defense roll, he’ll make a successful attack 75% of the time, and Level 17 will fail to defend 40% of the time . . . for a 30% chance to hit. Maybe not so bad after all.

Block

This is just a defense using a shield. Again, skill matters, so proficiency counts. I’m tempted by four options here:

  1. The shield’s usual bonus to AC of +2 adds to the roll, making it 1d20+Proficiency+2 (Shield Bonus)
  2. Double the shield’s usual bonus to the roll: 1d20+Proficiency+4 (1d20+6 for Level 1)
  3. You get your STR bonus plus the shield bonus. For our +3 STR guy, that’s 1d20+7 (shield, STR, proficiency).
  4. You get your DEX bonus (retaining DEX as the thing that makes you harder to hit with armor), proficiency, and another 2 for the shield. Our sample Level 1 guy is 1d20+6 in this case, picking up 2 for each.

The DC of the incoming attack doesn’t change – about 17 for the Level 1 attacker and 22 for the Level 17 one. In theory, you want about the same as dodge, but maybe a little better. So I’ll pick option 4, and retain DX.

Parry


Again, this one is going to be similar, with proficiency counting to your ability to parry. However, for this one, I’m sorely tempted to allow STR to be the dominant factor here, since it’s your STR that gives you bonuses to hit when attacking, and so perhaps it should also give bonuses to parry.

That would make our Level 1 guy parry (with STR 16) at 1d20+5. That means his best defense would be a block if he carries a shield, second best is a parry, and third is dodge. Not unintuitive for a STR-based fighter.

Damage Resistance


A bog-standard longsword will do 1d8+2 in one hand for our level 1 guy, and 1d10+2 in two hands. If that has to (say) punch through armor before it does injury . . . well, that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

We’re not going crazy here – no calculations of armor thickness. I’d just start with the native AC of the armor – 10. So hide will only remove one point of damage from an attack, while full plate will provide 8 points of protection.

Clearly, this begs for a modifier to the hit roll to aim for chinks in armor, which might (say) halve the damage resistance, rounded down.

The implication there, though, is that instead of doing 1d8+2 for 3-10 HP per hit, against our guy with the standard chain shirt (AC 13, or in this case 3 points of protection), he’ll do slightly less, 0-7 points, but 90% of his blows will still be telling. Against more serious armor, like plate, he’s looking at 0-2 HP of penetrating damage per hit, and 75% of his swings will be nullified.

I’m guessing you’d want to cut HP in half, roughly, to keep the fights from taking forever.

Parting Shot

Why would you ever do this rather than just play GURPS or some other system with active defenses? 

Well, for one, D&D-type games are the #1 force in the tabletop RPG market (though other kinds of games, like card games, are likely even bigger). So if you want a system nearly everyone plays, you’re into D&D, Pathfinder, and the OSR. 

The other reason, of course, is because it might be fun. One of the nice things about playing Dungeon Fantasy with GURPS is that you get more options on both attack and defense. The game is very interesting from a tactical perspective. You can go all-in on your attacks, sacrificing your defenses to try and strike home accurately. You can do the same thing and trade off defenses for a really hard hit. You can aim for various hit locations. You can retreat bit by bit and hold a foe at bay with a long-reach weapon.

Some of these things you can do in D&D, but many you cannot. While the games I play in that are helmed by +Erik Tenkar and +Ken H are outstanding fun, I do miss some of the cool things I could choose to do with GURPS that take combat beyond “I hit him with my sword again for 8HP more damage.”

I also really like not just sitting there when attacked. Yeah, it’ll slow down the game by making every contest two or three times as long from a rolling dice perspective. Every time the GM or player rolls a notional hit, you have to defend (or not – there needs to be an option and a benefit to not defending), then roll damage, subtract armor DR. I’m used to that in GURPS, and I feel it enhances my game experience rather than detracting from it. 

Personally, I really like the agency. I also like that the quality of the hit in the concept presented above matters. The better you roll, the harder it is for the foe to defend. 

Obviously it would need tons of testing – but I started out wondering if you can map the attack-defend-damage paradigm onto D&D, and whether or not it’s a good idea, it seems plausible and not inherently game-breaking off the bat.

One-Step Opposed Resolution


I had a funny feeling this would be true, and it is. My reliance on 10 as a base DC for both attack and defend allows me to write the following:

Hit occurs: 1d20+Attack Bonuses > 10, or 1d20+Attack Bonuses – 10 > 0

Defense Successful: 1d20+Defense Bonuses > 10 + 1d20+Attack Bonuses -10

Defense Successful: 1d20+Defense Bonuses > 1d20 + Attack Bonuses

No surprise there. It’s a contest. The only caveat is if your attack or defense roll inlcuding the bonus is less than 10 (the base DC for most of this stuff), you fail anyway. 

So the sequence, without the math, would simply be:

Attacker rolls his to-hit roll: 1d20+Bonuses; Defender simultaneously rolls his chosen defense: 1d20+Bonuses. 

  • If Attack roll < 10, you miss.
  • If Attack roll < Defense roll, you miss.
  • If Attack roll > 10, defense roll is <10, you hit
  • If attack roll > 10, Attack Roll > Defense Roll, you hit

This combines well with +Peter V. Dell’Orto‘s idea in the comments, since Dodge gives advantage (roll twice, pick the best) to the Defender, while an All-Out attack would give advantage to the attacker, and rather than have them somehow cancel out, you can just use the rules independently.

In Monteporte 44, the session began and ended with animated discussions on the rules for attunement to magical weapons. +Rob Conley had created a chart or an excel file listing all the weapons that required attunement from the DMG, and we played around with the concept a bit. We all, I think, liked the general concept of attunement, but were all equally bothered by some of the implications. In addition, since Monteporte was migrated over from a game with different assumptions than went into D&D5, there were many more magic items than seemed typical for a D&D5 party.

Attunement (DMG pp. 136-138)


The basic concept behind attunement is simple. To use a weapon with magical properties in a magical way, you have to spend a period of time – a short rest – bonding with the item in an appropriate way. If you don’t do so, the items functions like a normal, non-magical item of that type, but no nifty stuff can be generated from it. A Sword of Sharpness might act like a regular sword and would cut things just fine, but no other magical abilities would be present, and I’m not even sure it’d damage creatures that are only damaged by magical weapons – the text seems to suggest not. A suit of plate armor that requires attunement would still give you AC 18 for wearing it, but whatever powers it has would not be available to you until attunement is complete. A wand or ring, which otherwise serves no purpose than to give you certain powers, is basically useless. Maybe you could use it as a napkin holder or a stir stick?


Limits on items


The biggest thing that the DMG rules hit you with is that you cannot be attuned to more than three items at a time. Period, done . . . see you later. So you can’t (for example) wear ten Rings of Protection, one on each finger, and another couple on your toes. Firstly, you can’t usually wear multiple of any given item, but also, three is the limit, and the limit shall be  three. Not two, unless proceeding directly to three, etc.

This makes any given player decide what she wants to be equipped with, and since you can only detune-attune to an item with a short rest, you can’t just swap out inventory slots and always get the benefit of the good stuff. So you have to prepare. It’s not quite as restrictive as spell slots and long rests, but it’s there to make you think about what you’re doing.

What requires attunement


The magic item lists speak to what requires attunement – sometimes by a particular class – and what does not. There definitely seems to be a pattern to it, and some very useful stuff does not require attunement. 

Let’s start with some examples:

Basic Magical Weapons and Armor: Your basic +2 Mace or longsword, or +1 Chain Mail, or +3 half-plate does not require attunement. OK.

Mace of Disruption: Requires attunement. If you smack a fiend or the undead, you do extra radiant damage. If the critter has fewer than a certain number of HP, it must make a saving throw or be destroyed outright. The foes of the affected type are afraid of you. Also, the weapon glows if you hold it.

Mace of Smiting: +1 damage, more against constructs. If you roll a 20, you get extra damage, and can destroy constructs on a lucky roll. Does not require attunement.

Immovable Rod: Hey, the thing doesn’t move. Ever. Does not require attunement.

Gloves of Thievery: Provides a bonus to Sleight of Hand and DEX checks while wearing them. Does not require attunement.

Most any Cloak of X: Protection, Elvenkind, Invisibility. All of these require attunement, but . . . 

Cloak of the Manta Ray: Allows you to breathe underwater, and swim pretty fast. There’s another item like this that makes a bubble of air around your head. Neither require attunement.

What’s the Common Theme: The key bit here seems to be that if the item is magical because of itself, such as magic armor, it does not require attunement. If the item has powers that only affect the victim or the environment – that is, the magic is outwardly directed – it does not require attunement. But if the thing is basically casting a spell or giving its blessing to the user – something that if malign would be resisted by a saving throw – then you need to attune to it. 

It’s a fine line. The Cloak of Protection is just a cloak, it’s not particularly sturdy. But even it it is sturdy, the bonus to saving throws impacts the wearer as if it were a spell. That requires attunement. The Manta Ray cloak and the bubble-head charm (whatever it is) probably work their magic on the water and air around you, not you. They don’t bestow gills, they create a space of breatheable air.

I have no explanation for the Gloves of Thievery. I’d probably force you to attune to them, but perhaps the skill/DEX boost provided is actually a spell that impacts whatever you’re working on, not you. 

Basic magical swords are just magical. The Mace of Smiting is totally outwardly directed. The Mace of Disruption . . . seems like the mace of smiting, but makes creatures afraid of you (not the mace) and casts light. I suspect it’s the fear thing that turns the tables.

Armor that’s just magical is simply better made and enchanted. That’s inherent to the item. But if it also provides extra spell-like abilities, that requires attunement. 

Anything that requires conscious activation seems to require attunement.

House Rules?

Wouldn’t be a blog – specifically my blog – without the tinkering. So, here we go. What could we do to tweak out what’s basically a good concept?

More Awesome is More Awesome


The first one is easy. Allow the number of magical items to which you can attune vary by character level. Specifically, something like “you may attune to item equal to your proficiency bonus” would allow two items for beginners, but up to six at very high levels. Another would be you may attune to one item plus half your proficiency bonus. That’s still two items at low level, but four at high levels. 

In any case, items tend to grow with power at high levels, so another way might be a slot system. Each rank from Common through Legendary is given an effective number of slots: say 1 for Common, 5 for Legendary. You might get a number of slots equal to 1 plus your proficiency bonus, so slots vary from 3 to 7. So you can attune to seven Common items at very high level, or one Legenary item and two Common ones. Or two Uncommon and one Rare. Still limiting, but if you really want to wear seven common items instead of carrying around that Vorpal Sword . . . 

Partial Powers


Not attuning to an item having it behave as completely mundane seems off to me. Of course, that thought was started by Ken thinking that any item of +2 bonus or higher, including armor and weapons, requires attunement. I was thinking that in that particular case, the weapon or armor would still be magical, just provide no bonus. So not attuning to said Vorpal Sword would give you a magical longsword which could damage creatures that are only harmed by magical weapons (if such exist anymore in 5e), but would not suddenly decaptiate anyone.

Gotta Fight, for the Right . . . 


One thing that would be interesting for non-attuned weapons would be that yes, you can still use them, but you have to force the item to obey. You’d need to make some sort of saving throw, and I’m thinking INT, WIS, CHA rather than the physical stuff – basically willpower – in order to activate the item’s powers. 

In fact, one interesting thing would be to have attunement be a gradual process. Each short rest spent attuning would give you a bonus to the roll to master or attune to the item. You have to successfully use the item in order to claim your next bonus. Eventually, your roll will be high enough that you automatically beat the item’s DC. At that point, you’re attuned permanently unless you voluntarily switch it out – then you have to start again.

That would make it a bit of a process – and narratively interesting – to get to know a weapon or armor or magical device. If the process were intersting/onerous enough, there’s a barrier to switching out.

Naturally, you’d want the DC to go up with item power. So maybe if we use the level analogy above, the DC might be 10 plus twice the slots. So a Common magical item would be DC 12 for mastery, a Legendary one would be DC 20.

Parting Shot

Attunement brings a very cool dynamic to equipping magical items in D&D5. The core concept is very good, and it forces you to be choosy about what items and powers you can have. It keeps the focus, to some extent, on the character rather than the gear – though some of the Legendary items are truly badass, so there is always going to be a certain cache to having that Hammer of Thunderbolts paired with the Girdle of Giant Strength, which is also good.

Tuning the attunement rules also provides knobs for campaign-specific flavor. This is also good.

We’ll see what Ken decides to do with it, but I can certainly see options.

We begin with some bookkeeping – we need to pick the three magic items we’ve attuned to, which limits the other players more than Nosphryc, since he only has three magic items. Good news is that reading the descriptions of the Sword of Lendorth and Amulet of Ren again, which provided two key abilities that I can draw upon for the undead guys:

  • Amulet of Ren: +1 to AC versus undead; First attack by an undead creature in a turn is at disadvantage (happens once per turn)
  • Sword of Lendorth: Long sword, +1 to attack and damage; +3 to damage versus undead; You gain a bonus action every turn when fighting undead

Nice


***

We start out recovering from the fight, and then proceed to explore some more, following the evidence of foot traffic, assuming traffic is treasure. We decide we’ll use the Lens of Finding in each room to ensure that we don’t bypass any secret doors. It’ll slow us down, but worth it to ensure we don’t miss anything.

We wander for a while, well, purposeful wandering, and come to a T intersection. We can see evidence of a room to the left, so we head that way. Another couple of splits, that seem to head back to an intersection we’ve passed before.

We come to a standing pool in the middle of a small room. The pool is elevated a bit from the floor, maybe a foot. It’s also about a foot deep.

We investigate the pool a bit, checking it for any auras or vibes. As we get close to it, examining the pool, we can tell that the stonework around the pool is itself magical – but not the water. We check out the pool with the Lens of Molnar, and we find that the stone creates and purifies the water within the basin. We replenish our fresh water supplies, and warn Luven not to pee in the pool. Let’s see if Luven’s Mighty Wand can dispell the magic! Let’s not.

We proceed on, and the room to the south contains six rings and eyebolts, that seemed to be for holding animals.

We proceed onwards . . . and walk right the heck into an ambush. Eleven humanoids, with spiked clubs and loincloths. Mixed male and female. They are Grimlocks, a type of creature we’ve not yet seen.

“YUMMY YUMMY! EAT EAT!”

Apparently not vegan.

We are not surprised, but split initiative. Luven hits for 12 HP, which does not kill anyone. And we get rushed by another ten guys from behind.

Nosphryc nails one with a critical hit, using his Archery feat to take -5 to hit and +10 damage. Blasts him for 24 HP, killing him. The second is actually a critical miss, alas. The guys only seem to have about 9-16 HP, so he’ll be splitting his attacks on the guys coming from behind.

Breena rages. She puts one down, and badly injures another. Adzeer throws down a Guardian of Faith – an indistinct sword and shield that wards off hostile creatures, who will take damage if they come too close. Kinds of a Patronus charm, but an angry one.

Dante tries to nail one with a firebolt, but just misses (thus establishing their AC as 11).

Luven fires through the ranks, at a disadvantage, and hits anyway with a 16; he does 18 points of damage even including his 4d6 sneak attack. He kills his foe.

Now the grimlocks are up. First all the guys next to Adzeer’s guardian have to deal with it – three get more or less vaporized, using up the 60 HP of capacity that the thing provides. That’s a nice hit, but still leaves us with six to the south and ten to the west.

Two attack Breena, both hitting. She’s a Grimlock magnet, but her damage taken is halved since she’s raging. Only 4 HP taken. Two attack and miss Adzeer; all the Grimlocks advance down the corridor, and now Nosphryc is sword-out.

He strikes one twice, killing him. Adzeer casts Spiritual Weapon, and a ghostly blade appears. 

We actually discuss this rule for quite a while. Was not clear to everyone in the same way.

Anyway he hits once with the ghostly weapon, and once physically. A total of 20 HP later, and his foe drops.

Breena takes down two, the second with a mighty blow for 17 HP in one shot.

Dante misses again with his firebolt; he’s 0 for 3. Luven klls one for 26 HP – he’s very dead – with his light crossbow.

The Grimlocks attack. One hits Adzeer for 5 HP, and two hit Nosphryc for 10 HP total. 

Nosphryc takes down one next to Luven, leaving him room to use his crossbow. He hits a second foe, but not enough to kill him. Adzeer misses with his Spirit Weapon, but hits hard with a melee attack, killing another.

Breena steps up to the plate with a critical hit for 20 HP, murderizing another. She spins, and attacks the one Nosphryc hit, hitting him and dropping him for 13 HP, enough to ruin his day as well. Dante finally connects with a firebolt, doing 13 HP of flaming death. He’s toast. Grimlock: it’s what’s for dinner! Grimlock: the other white meat. 

Hey, that’s what they get when their battle cry is “YUMMY YUMMY EAT EAT!”

We speculate that this is either the worst ambush ever, or a clever drain on our resources before a real fight.

At this point, we’re down to but four Grimlocks; they flee. One triggers two attacks of opportunity, one from Luven, another from Nosphryc – he dies. Another triggers a spiritual hammer and mace attack from Adzeer, and again takes 15 HP on the first attack, making the second irrelevant. 

Luven decides to give chase; he hits one hard in the back, but doesn’t kill him. We joke that the Grimlocks have isolated the gazelle from the herd. Luven kills one on an attack of opportunity as he flees, and then runs down and kills the last one.

Upon searching the bodies, we find many have a rough cloth bag, most with meat in them. One with a pink diamond (worth 5,000gp), and one with a plush figurine. Of a mind flayer. Yikes.

It could be used as a fetish, but Grimlocks were once the slaves of mindflayers, and they still venerate them. So it could be a holy symbol, a security blanket, or a freakin’ chew toy. No idea.

We continue to explore, looking for the primary room where the dual-pronged ambush came from. We find it – a 40×120+ foot room with pillars supporting a tall ceiling. We check both the pillars and the walls with the Finding Lens, but it’s just a big ol’ room, with periodic pile of poo where the Grimlocks did their thing. Luven, with an eye for treasure, finds something sparkly in the poo – he uses Slight of Hand to nab it. 

We contemplate taking a long rest – and decide to take one. We hole up where we fought the southern wave of Grimlocks, making a 300-like wall of Grimlocks 

We let Breena’s Bear take a watch, then Dante and Nosphryc, then Adzeer and Luven take their turns, and a long rest is embarked upon. We hear sounds of dripping water and the occasional scuffle, the first watch is as still as death. During the second watch, far off in the distance, there is a horrible wailing scream . . . then nothing. The third watch passes without incident as well. We’ve passed around magical items that we can’t attune to, the most notable being a Cloak of Protection (+1).

***

It’s about 8:30 – we end there. We got 3,010 XP.

We then discuss the attunement rules. We talk about attuning to 2+Proficiency bonus. And a few other options, but no resolution is found just yet.

We started out remembering that we had some magic items to divvy out, since last time we forgot to distribute the freakin’ Ring of Zombie protection.

There were lots of dead undead (?!), and a human figure with a wooden stake driven through the visor of his helmet. The mail is decent quality; this guy was no slouch. Well, other than getting a stake driven through his face, after which slouching was the order of the day, really.


Everything magical/non-weapony from last few sessions:

  • Potion of Gaseous Form
  • Potion of Animal Friendship
  • ring of zombie protection (disadvantage to attacking zombies)
  • Magic Helmet
  • 4 vials healing potion (1d8+1)
  • Dante (Chris): 10 vials holy water
  • 10 flasks of holy water (a flask is 5 vials)
  • 5 flasks oil
The helmet was the one with the stake jammed through it, but Adzeer knows the Mend cantrip. That fixes up the helmet, and a quick scan reveals a Detect Undead spell on it. 
We agree that it must have had a very short range. We are informed it’s a 60′ range. It’s a greathelm, so we give that to Nosphryc ’cause he can wear it, and the ring of Zombie protection to Breena. 
Luven, against his better judgement, pulls out a tin scroll case, 41 silver bars, 17 gold bar, and a silver chalice (worth 300 gp). Guess he just happened to find that.
The scroll reads: 

“an than we gose don moore long steps too a odder plase tat haz a beg man and a forrezt and than we gose Further pasd a sittee an dat is wer the nomes ar rimemmer too stele da nomes an brigg dem to elias” (Bork bork bork!)

We divvy up the healing potions between Luven and Dante at two each, so everyone has some, as well as two flasks and two vials of holy water each.

We receive the party pog back, and Luven examines the (locked) secret door, and picks it open with his tools. It’s short corridor with a smaller room than the previous one, and since it’s empty, we know to look for secret doors. We find one, expectedly.

Luven continues to rock the door finding and locked-door picking. He uses his earring of echolocation to find secret doors and such. Since the corridor goes only 15′ and then hits a wall, again, we have a hidden door. 

Portrait of Luven

This one enters a room devoid of creatures, but has a black altar and a stone table against the east wall. There’s some soot on the ceiling on either end of the altar – looking at the surface, on the altar below the soot spots, there are traced of black wax. Candles.  Luven is looking for treasuretreasuretreasuretreasure. We decide Luven is like the hamburglar, and he shouts “Man, this is a gyp!” when no treasure is found.

Looking at the altar and the construction of the room, we determine that it’s set up to look like a temple or shrine, but it’s to nobody. It’s basically for show. We speculate that it was to try and make money or run a con.

We decide to give the altar cap a shove, and Breena, with STR 18 and Aspect of the Bear, she puts us all to shame. “Step aside, men. This is women’s work.” Breena pushes the slab off, and the entire thing collapses. The stone table is broken!

Not that anyone cares. 

We look for more secret doors again, and find one behind the table on the east wall. We ask Breena to do it, since lifting is, again, women’s work. Geez, we do a quick survey: Luven is STR 11, Nosphryc and Dante are STR 18, Breena is STR 18 with her magical Aspect of the Bear, and Adzeer is STR 19. Crimeny.

We decide to detect undead, and we both get a faint sense of Undead behind the door, as if it’s a trace of a creature. The secret door itself is locked; Luven picks it, opens it up a crack, and we head down to some sort of sarcophagus. 

Luven goes to check it out and rolls a natural 1 . . . so he just opens the thing up.

“You can roll all the 20s you wan’t, but you can’t fix stupid” – Adzeer

Inside the sarcophagus, there’s about a cubic foot of dirt, and nothing else. It’s probably the vampire’s sacred soil or something, so Nosphryc pours a flask of holy water on the soil. The name on the sarcophagus says  The water starts to bubble and steam; the helmet no longer detects undead.

Sebastian Baynard Finster

Ah. There’s SBF from the letter.
Luven steps into the Sarcophagus drops his pants and piddles all over the vampire’s “sacred” soil.

We go around the area with the Finder’s Lens, but dont’ find much. We head back to the crossroads, and hear noises from the north. Luven heads out on point, and peeks around the corner – he sees some trolls and some hobgoblins, which are known to have pretty good loot.

He tries to gesture to us. We decide there are two Tiger Tanks, a couple of panzers, and he wants a subway meatball sandwich with cheese.

Anyway, we get ready to fight!

Nosphryc rolls poorly, but still better than the trolls. Small favors. 

The hobgoblin starts by saying “I’m going to shove that ‘meh’ up your ass!” and attacks Loven; one hits for 7 HP and the other runs up and misses twice. Now our 18s go,  but a few more hobgoblins just pop into existence as well. We’re now facing at least four hobgoblins and two trolls.

Breena mounts her bear, rides up to a hobgoblin, and tries to grapple him. So a gnome, riding a bear, grapples a hobgoblin. Don’t see much of that! Breena gives him a shove for his second attack (both with advantage). The shove is resisted by Athletics or Acrobatics; the hobgoblin fails, and he’s pinned against the wall by the bulk of the combat bear. Panzerbjorn for the win. The most literal overbearing attack ever. Plus rage. Can’t forget the rage.

Dante steps up and hits the prone, grappled hobgoblin with a firebolt for 13HP worth of damage.  Luven stabs at his foes for 15 HP, with both the Blade of Ung as well as the magical talking sword, Marcus Aurelius. Nosphryc steps up and glaives the prone guy twice for 19 HP, with a crit. He dies.

We manage to block the corridor, more or less, but the tactical advantage does not yet seem with us. Adzeer gets hit once for 2 HP, and two hobgoblins attack Luven, one hitting for 5 HP, the other for another 5 HP. 

Breena attacks with the Battle-Axe of Aknarr, twice, hitting both times, for a total of 19 HP. Not bad, not bad. 

Adzeer kills the wounded fellow with a mighty blow from the Mace of Curn. Dante then steps up to the corner and attacks with the Axe of Delnar, hitting for 11HP. The hobgoblin speaks disparagingly of our ancestry. Luven hits for 21 HP, including 4d6 worth of sneak attack.

Nosprhyc then steps up and hits twice for 15 HP with his glaive.

Now the trolls move up, and Luven gets bitten by a troll, but only for 5 HP; the frantic swinging with the trolls arms does an additional 12 HP of damage. Yowch.

The hobgoblins disappear; they teleport away somewhere. Probably behind us.

Breena hits wtice with her axe for 25 HP, but it’s not magical or fire damage, so it’s going to grow back. Adzeer casts a 3d8 healing spell on Luven for 15 HP to keep him in the not-dead column.

Dante steps to the side and tries to hit the front troll with a firebolt, which he does for 11HP of non-regenerating fire damage. Woof.

Luven quaffs a quick potion using a Cunning Action, and hits with his sword for 23 HP, thanks to a highly distracted troll. Nosphryc hits twice for 19 HP with his glaive. His knees buckle after the second hit, but he doesn’t go down.

A troll chomps at Breena, and rolls a critical hit for 13 HP; another crit with the next arm does 16 HP more, and the final swipe misses. His Aspect of the Bear halves this 29HP down to 15HP, which is fortunate.

Adzeer steps in front of Luven and casts at the troll that was almost dead, but is now recovering. Sacred Flame – it does radiant damage, so not unhealable by trolls, but better than nothing. 13 HP of damage. Dante flings another firebolt, but only hits for 3 HP this time. Luven uses his shortbow and adds his sneak attack damage for 24 HP of damage(!).

Nosrphyc flings a flask of oil at the fallen troll (he’s regenerating), hits, and then hits for 12 HP.

The final troll chomps at Adzeer, and hits AC 21 by rolling 25! He bits for 9 HP, and then misses twice. 

Breena’s player had to step out, but she comes back and gets to take her turn, and then another to start the next round. Two attacks with her axe hit for 27 HP, and then twice more for 28 HP. Those are mighty, mighty blows.

Dante hits the oil with the firebolt; the oil bursts into flame as well – 9 HP for the bolt, and 5 HP of fire damage for the oiled-up troll. Both die, and the fight is over.

The trolls, together, have 12 silver bars, and 2 bags each with 15 lbs of rotting meat. Each hobgoblin has a spear, a light crossbow with 12 bolts each, a dagger, and one of the hobgoblins has a small sack tied to his bolt. 

The sack is a bag of holding – there are 71 gold bars, 322 silver bars, 3 more crossbow bolts, and a bedroll. A good WIS roll shows them to be 3 bolts of vampire slaying, which give Advantage and 3x damage. The bedroll is Mildor’s Bedroll of Comfort. It provides perfect sleeping comfort on any semi-horizontal surface at temps of -20 to 120F. It also causes searchers looking for us sleeping to have disadvantage on Perception rolls. Camouflage elven bedroll! (p. 22 in the LL Bean catalog, we think).

The brown sacks to the north are yet unplundered, so we plunder them. Five large sacks, lumpy in the middle of the floor. Each of them is moving as if something inside is breathing. We open them up, and find more gnomes. One of the gnomes with us recognizes them. Good, they can take care of them. 

We inquire how close we might be to their gnome-home. They have no idea. 

After the fighting and searching, we take a short rest, it being a little after noon. The short rest brings most people back to full HP.

***

We each earn 2980 XP. I get a Feat or stat boost, and . . . hmm.

Nosphyrc’s stats are

STR 18
DEX 14
CON 16
INT 13
WIS 15
CHA 14

So there are quite a few things I could do here.

  • STR stat boost for STR 20. Hits me with +1 to hit, +1 damage for all melee stuff.
  • DEX stat boost for DEX 16. Given me being encased in plate, there’s no AC help for me here, so that’s just +1 to hit with my bow. Probably bad idea.
  • CON 18 would give me +1 HP for the rest of time, and raise my HP maximum, I think. Given I’m a front-line guy, this is not necessarily a bad thing
  • INT 14 WIS 16 would give me +1 to two different stats, both of which have seen use. Perception is a big thing for Nosphryc, and this would help that.
  • Heavy Armor Mastery gives +1 STR for STR 19, plus soaking three points of mundane damage per shot. That’s a good thing.
  • Polearm Mastery is nice because of the extra attack (only 1d4, but includes the STR bonus, so it sorta turns the glaive into 8+1d10+1d4, for 10-22 damage, more with a critical
  • Sharpshooter is nifty, and would be lethal against foes where I have advantage. We have a grappler in the group that likes to throw people down, which would make for a nice one-two combo
  • Finally, Observant for +5 to Perception is sweet.
I was leaning sharpshooter, but that STR boost will always help me. 
Hrm, decisions, decisions.

You can find great outtakes over at The Clash of Spear on Shield.

We picked up where we left off, and the amulet that controlled some sort of transport device. We reviewed prior locations and interesting phenomena, so as to figure where to go next.

We decide to head West, and we see doors which are shiny, iron, dwarven-made doors. They don’t appear to be locked in any way. It’s surprisingly well-made, and there’s some sort of funky non-corroding alloy. Detect magic? Nope. 

We open it up. No demons, just a narrow corridor, another pretty door, and a corridor pointing south. There are two rows of stone tables, and a Dwarven dinner prayer inlaid into the walls. The room to the south is another dinner hall. Apparently this mirrors a room somewhere above – 21 miles away. 

Between the Finder’s Lens and the belt of Dwarvenkind, we determine that the construction here is predating the one above by quite some time. Perhaps the one above was built to mimic this, which was then abandoned?

Also: looking for Montporte-a-potties. I missed some stuff in previous sessions, apparently.

We head through a door to the East, and we find a room full of dark, thick soot. We leave it to our fire expert, who investigates. We look around, and there seemed to be some sort of large iron object; presumably an oven.We do a quick Finder’s lend, finding nothing.

South we expect to find a pantry, since we probably just came from the kitchen. 

We make a full circuit out of it, and find a double-door, behind which is a staircase down. We’ve been mapping and checking out rooms for 90 minutes or so. We descend about . . . five miles. Good grief. That’s a hell of staircase, though apparently the last one was 21 miles deep, so this is “nothing.”

We find a humanoid body, laying face-down on the stairs. It’s a half of a half-elf. So a quarter-elf, really. It was wearing a tunic, trousers, a felt cap, with a backpack. There’s a trail of blood down the steps, and the elf has been almost eviscerated, complete with bite marks on his neck.  There’s nothing immediately obviously screaming “trap-door spider!” or anything.

He’s got a wound on his arm that looks like he got chopped. Everything else looks like multiple claw-marks. The body left a blood trail, and is not yet completely dry.

Holy crap. Not yet completely dry.

Hmm. If we only had a couple of rogues! Alas, they’re gone.

“What have you been doing?”
“Sneaking.”


We find out that the elf is wearing the symbol of Adzeer’s god on him. He’s got a dagger on his belt (clearly not a good fighter, with no blood on his dagger). He’s got the trappings of a Hunter of Adzeer. He’s got 127gp in his backpack, a bone scroll case, a dagger, a ring, and 12 vials. The lens of awesome (Lens of Molnar) identifies them as a bunch of potions (2 healing potions and 10 vials of holy water), a small spellbook, and a Ring of Zombie Protection (Nosphryc gets a good roll). The dagger is nothing special. The spellbook is for a Wizard

The wound definitely looks like a vampire bite, the blade wound could be a sword or knife, and the bite marks look like humans – likely zombies.

The scroll-case actually contains a letter.

Most of us stop and wet ourselves at the line containing the word “lich.” Yikes. Lichs, vampires, zombies, and lots of crypts. Yeesh.

“Who’s the highest-level guy? He needs to say ‘OK, the area is secure.'” like Lieutenant Gorman.

We continue down the stairs for another mile, saying “Lichs and zombies, and vampires, oh my.” For the first bit, we see evidence that the poor half-elf dragged himself. Now we see an occasional bloody footprint.

Oh, and the staircase is no longer dwarven-made. Hell. Probably literally. We descend another sxeven miles. 

We keep descending, and see the body of a wight laying on the ground; farther on is the body of a dead zombie. The wight looks like it has a burned, charred spot on his chest, as if he was hit by some sort of electrical energy. Bet that spellbook has a lightning bolt spell in it.

And on the south wall says “Arlonian Syndicate Waystation 452.” Thanks to a good roll, we know that that Goblins have something resembling guilds, where certain Goblin troops have exclusive trading rights to certain areas.

We decide to take a long rest before we open doors and stuff – actually two of them. We hear a groan during the second watch, but nothing else of consequence. We check out the western staircase, and find a three-way corridor. Huh. Hoped for something that didn’t give more options.

Still, we choose danger. The trail of blood continues, and a zombie body lies in the middle of a 25-foot-long corridor, which is but 5′ wide. We emerge into at least a 25′ square room, with at least five zombies in it.

Initiative is rolled. We don’t do too badly, and retreat to a chokepoint. Breena takes a small hit, and Adzeer rolls a hit, then a bunch of 1’s for damage. Breena rages, and grapples a zombie, in a cool but seemingly cosmically backwards. Breena rolls very well, while the zombie also rolls well, but not well enough. He takes the zombie down with a shove; he’s got advantage on that roll, so the zombie has to beat a 16 or be flung prone. He rolls 20 and 10 (disadvantaged) and takes him down. So he has the guy grappled, which means he’s immobile, can’t get up, and all attacks against him are advantaged. Breena is not disadvantaged by grappleing, so booyah.

Nosphryc moves past Adzeer, and hits the grappled zombie with a critical hit, dispatching him. He uses his second action to plug the hole in the line and attack another zombie, hitting for 9 HP.

A wight moves into the line, and we start making Steven Wight jokes.  A few zombies move up, and one hits Nosphryc for 4 HP, and Breena for 7, reduced because she’s raging.

Our strategy is working; we’re only facing two at a time, and can pretty well concentrate on them. Unfortunately, we forgot to actually give out and equip the freaking Ring of Protection from Zombies. Because we’re stupid.

Goose: “The defense department regrets to inform you that your sons are dead because they were stupid.”

Breena and Adzeer do their thing, and Adzeer hits for 12 HP radiant damage to Steven Wight, while Breena hits and kills a zombie with the Battle-Axe of Aknarr, and then hits and wounds another.

Dante moves up and firebolts the Wight, with advatnage thanks to Adzeer’s spell. Hits, but only 5 HP of damage. Nosphryc hits for 13 slashing damage, reducing his target to 0 HP with an undead-slaying sword. So dead-dead.

But on their turn, the wight moves up to Nosphryc, and attacks once with a sword, and misses, and reaches out and drains the life out of Nosphryc with a critical. “He grabs you by the ball-sack, baby. Your descendants are starting out lower level.” 12 HP of damage, and 12 HP from my freakin’ maximum as well. The wight says “Turn your head and cough.”

Nosphryc does so.

The zombie misses Breena.

Adzeer misses with a spell. And Breena misses with one attack, and axes the other for 8 slashing.

Dante continues the streak of misses against the wight. These guys really have a thing against Nosphryc; must be a 1%-er thing.

Nosphrys steps up and crits with the Sword of Lendroth. The wight dies. Another hit on the zombie in front of Breena with the undead-slaying sword kills a second one. We rule on the spot that the Sword of Lendroth (+1 vs everything, +3 vs. Undead) automatically kills undead at 0 HP.

As the zombies step up, we hear a female voice from within the room saying “get them and kill them!” The zombies miss both Nosphryc and Breena for a change.

Adzeer uses Sacred Flame, a cantrip that requires a single save, which he misses; 6 points of radiant damage is dealt. Now Breena steps to the fore, and hacks at a zombie twice for a total of 19 slashing damage. Still up. Wow.

Dante rolls an 8 vs the zombie, hitting, and does 19 points of fire damage, deep-fat frying him. Nosphryc hits twice for 33 slashing damage, killing the second-to-last zombie.

Nosphryc takes another 6 HP, down 22 HP from his former max, one of two PCs to be hit. And a second wave of zombies shows up, along with a token we immediately label Evil Cosplaying Goth Chick – presumably the owner of the voice

Adzeer flings a spell, and the lady laughs maliciously, revealing sharp pointy teeth. Oh, crap. Vampire.

Breena hits twice for 14 slashing damage, while Dante flings a fireball. Dante bends it like Gandalf, and five critters have to make a DEX save or take 9d6 damage.

Suck it, bloodsucker. One zombie makes it, as does the vampire babe. So they take 12 HP, the others take 24 HP.  Only two dead, but hopefully some softening.

Nosphryc kills the zombie in front of him, but misses the vampire chick with a quick-drawn bow shot.

The undead charge in, but only the wight is in close range, and he misses Breena.

Adzeer hits the vampire, but for only 12 HP. We weep for Tim’s continual rolling of 1s when damage happens.

Breena hits the wight twice for 25 HP, killing it. Dante casts an opaque wall of fire, which damages everyone on the far side of the wall, 5d8 within 10′ of the wall. 21 HP of damage if they fail a DX save. The vamp . . . fails her save. We clear the board of everyone but, well, we can’t tell, because wall of fire.

Nosphryc fires two arrows through the wall at where the vamp was, at a disadvatnage. He actually hits twice, for 9 HP piercing damage, and his arrows do not burst into flame. A stupid zombie runs into the wall, immolating himself.

Adzeer casts locate creature on the vampire – a very fitting companion to the nature of his hunter character. He can locate her as long as no one breaks his concentration, she polymorphs, or crosses running water.

Dante drops the wall of fire, and we all charge into the room as far as we can. Breena hits with a few hand-axes. Nosphryc tosses two hand-axes, and actually stuns her. Nosphryc then runs up and makes vampire julienne – actually, she’s not a vampire. She’s a vampire groupie (vampire spawn, technically).

Nosphryc reclaims and cleans his axes.

Besides the vampires and wights in the room, there were three dead zombies, and a dead human in armor. He’s got a wooden stake shoved through his visor.

We search for treasure and likewise search the room. We find a secret door right where she was standing (no surprise there).

We also recover 322 gp, and the human has 280gp, a long sword, a short sword, short bow with 20 arrows, a a bone scroll case. 2 vials. and 15 flasks. The liquids are 2 healing potions. 5 flasks of oil. 10 flasks of holy water.

We end there.

***

+Ken H used the second-most dangerous category using the DMG to make the encounter (Hard), and tuned it for one more player than we had. Still, we did well, Setting ourselves up in the choke-point was vital, and the undead-slaying sword turned the tide on the early waves. We also put down the vampire spawn fast enough that the vampire spawn couldn’t regenerate fast enough to make a difference.

We each net out 4,100 XP. This brings Nosphryc to just shy of 2,100 XP away from 6th level.

Players were +Tim Shorts+Chris C.+Joshua Macy+Rob Conley

Figured I’d post the character I wound up making before my second session, tomorrow.

I went with “simple.” That being said, given the rolls I got, I think a Monk or Paladin would be a fun second character. Granted, can’t expect the same thing a second time, but those two seem to benefit a lot from lots of good scores in the 14-16 range.

Anyway, to Nosphryc. Mostly I’m going to put up screen captures from the wonderful character sheet in Roll20, which is darn handy. More info: It’s the sheet made by Actoba, and found here, in his character sheet repository.


Core Stats

As noted in the previous character post, the dice treated me well, and choosing a human fighter focusing on STR for his attribute boost pushed him into pretty rarefied air in terms of overall attributes. Sure, I probably could have selected Dwarf or something to push my STR to 19, or played other games for 20, but the +1 to everything you get for being human took both my 15s and both my 13s to the next level that gives a bonus, and even my “dump” stat – an INT of 13, is respectable. 

I could have sacrificed the extra STR (+2) for a Feat – Heavy Armor Mastery, still giving me STR 17 and three points of damage absorption or whatever you call it. But I chose the raw STR for now, and my next ability score improvement is only just shy of 7,000 XP away. This last session was basically one fight, and we got through that with about 1350. Looking at past games, that’s the lowest award in five or six sessions, and ranges go from about 2,500-9,000+. So I’d expect 1-5 more sessions, and I can pick up that Feat, and maybe Polearm Mastery. Or maybe the other order, since getting the attack of opportunity when a foe enters or leaves my reach is darn handy. I’ll pick up five more “attribute increases” even past that, so there will be plenty of feats on my plate. I’ll also have to see if there are better ways to get +1 to damage than STR 20. But Heavy Armor Mastery would push me to STR 19, and taking a stat boost to get to STR 20, WIS 16 (I like good Perception rolls), then picking up some nice feats from there would make sense to me.

Skills


I chose proficiencies in Athletics (for grappling) and Perception (to notice stuff). My background gave me History and Persuasion. At anywhere from +4 to +7 bonuses to these skills, I’m fairly happy with them.
Background


These were fun details with game-mechanical weight assigned to most of them. They helped steer the character’s conception quite well, and led to a nice background, captured by +Ken H in this evocative opening to his session notes:

The Prelude
Nosphryc Azurecoat was surrounded by the season warriors of his family at the start of the solemn ritual in the chapel of the family castle. The family’s cleric pronounced the admonitions and blessings, as the men and women in armed splendor looked on.

When the final affirmation of the congregation is spoken, Nosphryc would be teleported to a destination chosen by the family’s gods where he would hopefully prove his worth as a brave and true hero, fit to rule his people. Of course, the hope was that Nosphryc would bring back a few wagon loads of booty as well.

The deal is that Nosphryc (and I think Azurecoat is a temporary thing, much like Kara Zor-El had to undergo the Kryptonian Trials before she could wear her family crest in the Last Daughter of Krypton books) needs to prove himself worthy to rule. It’s a family thing, basically an analog of the aforementioned Kryptonian Trials, where the children of the family (need to come up with a real name) go adventuring to become heroes, conquerors, and of course to raise cash to support the noble line’s obligations.

I think he’ll be the fifth child (ROY G BIV), thus the blue surcoat.

Class




Not too much to talk about here; I don’t think Roll20 accounts for the improved critical chance (that’d be nice, though). The two attacks is nice, and I’ve used Second Wind once already, as a prelude to a healing aura, which brought me back up to my full allotment of HP before tomorrow’s game.

Weapons




Most of the time, I’ve used the bow. Going to need to figure out where to get a stash of arrows, and I have to wonder if I can talk the GM into letting me put a ton of them into my Bag of Holding. I must have gone through at least 6-10 of them last game, and we’re 21 miles down. I’m going to run out Real Soon Now.

Parting Shot


Overall, Nosphryc has held his own, save for an unfortunate tendency to shoot gnomes in the back. He’s amongst the lowest level in the group, as befits his beginning status. But 6th level can’t be too far behind, and the current group’s lead is 8th level, I think. That’s about 26,000 XP away, which again could be done in 3-6 games. That’s two ability score increases and the Remarkable Athlete feature, which will allow me to add +2 to a bunch of rolls at 9th level, +1 until then.

Until then, he could probably use some magical protection, but honestly, AC 18 seems fairly decent, and I’m not sure how much better it needs to be in 5e. A basic magic glaive or halberd would rock, as would an an enchanted bow, just so that he can affect critters that are only affected by magic.

I also need to round out his mundane items; he’s got the Explorer’s Pack, and those items need to appear on my character sheet. I’m also a big fan of alchemist’s fire . . . 


I got invited to join +Ken H and his crew for their regular Monday night Monteport game, now running in D&D5e. I got to play with some great folks: +Tim Shorts and +Rob Conley, whom I’ve interacted with before. Plus +Chris C.Daniel McEntee, and +Joshua Macy. It was a good time, and my character, Nosphryc, got dropped right into it . . . 

We started out making a marching order, and then lots of banter. This is a good thing. We started out to go talk to Daria (?), and had to get across a fairly wide chasm. We tie a safety rope on to Adzeer and then levitate him across. We joke about falling into the mile-deep chasm and taking 528d6 damage.

I step away for some food, and when I return, +Tim Shorts is apparently starting to plummet to his death. He’s saved by a last-minute Levitation spell. And a rope. So briefly Tim becomes a kite, and we bounce him across the top of the cave. Ouch. Stalactites suck.

The brief errand at that side of the cave taken care of, we form up and decide to go through the iron, dwarven-forged door. Luven Lightfinger carefully examines the door, which is neither locked nor trapped.


(We also, FINALLY, thanks to +Rob Conley , fix my longstanding sound problems. Go Rob!)

We continue to journey through doors, and find a pink spider or two. With really large mandibles. And a “dwarven lego.” And more and more spiders keep coming. And another type, clearly larger.

It’s all about the boom- so we toss a fireball into the room, and back off and slam the door. The spell goes off, and Dante ( +Chris Cosk3 announces that that was his last spell slot. He hits for 38 points of damage, so the poor guys all die save for two of them. 

The spiders get to go, and one moves, and the big blue one does something that makes a huge “gong” sound, and everyone saves vs CON. Well, except for Tim, who of course rolls a natural one. In some other universe, Tim rolled a 20. But not this universe.

It’s the Gong Show! Adzeer and Nosphryc (and someone else, it turns out) both fail their saves, taking 13 HP and are stunned for a round. The giant wall of metal up front is stunned. Awesome.

We go through the initiative order, and Luven cracks open the door, and flings a dagger at one of the “pink” spiders. He kills it! A pink pepto-bismol looking blood comes out.

Dante’s turn, and he shoots a firebolt at the big-ol’ blue spider. Nailing it for 2d10+8 = 18 points of damage. 

Doug: Easy game, eh?Everyone else: Don’t. Say. That. Ever.

Just as I say, that, turns out we just got our butt flanked by another seven more. Breena shoves her bear out of the way (!) and hurls a . . . huh. There are gnomes in the way. Disadvantage. He rolls 18 and 26 anyway, and hits for 7 slashing damage. Her second attack misses.

Nosphryc gets his first real action in the fight, and on a roll with disadvantage, I roll a natural 20 . . . and a natural 1. Oops. Crit fail. I hit a gnome. For 10 damage. Oops. A gnome goes down. Nosphryc’s mission to prove himself worthy of leading fellow men has just excluded gnomes.

Tim: Easy game, eh?

Duncan webs the spiders. And two gnomes. The gnomes are not happy with us.

Adzeer notes that he has a Ring of Spider something or other that allows him to talk to spiders. 

We note that before we started flinging fireballs and webs and axes and stuff. He doesn’t get a lot out of them. And Luven stealths so he can gank some more spiders.

The spiders keep noting that they’d really like to not die.

Adzeer hits, thanks to advantage. But rolls a 1, of course, on damage. We all mock Tim for a while. 

Nosphryc redeems himself by killing a spider with two longbow hits. for 11 damage. We keep making spider jokes: “Poor Charlottte. I knew her well!”

Duncan heals the gnome I skewered, as a firebolt is cast and burns up a spider pretty good. “Which sonovabitch shot me in the back?!”

Nosphryc Azurecoat (Doug): Those blue arrows with blue feathers make it really hard to point to the other guy and say “Bobnan did it!”Ken H. (GM): Plus a whole group of gnomes pointingNosphryc Azurecoat (Doug): Fair point. I was kinda hoping they were ALL looking the other way

Adzeer nail another one with a crossbow. Slight damage, but enough to bring him down. 

Loven does what Luven does best . . . and rolls a 1 for surprising the spider. The spider is not surprised.  Nosphryc hits twice more for 17 HP, thanks a bit to advantaged in the web, and he’s veyr hurt but not dead.

A bunch of spiders break free of the web, and flee towards the big blue guy Luven revealed in the hallway. 

Luven tries the same technique he started the combat with – he opens the door (unspiking it with a DEX roll) and flings two daggers, hitting for 9 piercing damage with one of the daggers.

Breena moves in, and chops up the last spider in the first room. That still leaves five of them and a big blue dude. Nosphyrc comes up with a move and hacks at one of them twice with his glaive, for 16 total damage. We note that with Pole(arm) mastery that it would have allowed a butt attack.

A vast, vast silence occurs. No one walks into that opening, as it were.

The spiders get a turn to do something not running away, and miss both Breena and Nosphryc. And then there’s another blue gong sound. Another 5 or 11 HP to various people, and those that fail the save are stunned for a round.

Dante’s up, and he gives himself some temp HP, while Adzeer nails a spider with Sacred Flame for a couple of d8 damage, for 15 HP of fire damage to the thorax. Like a spider boss.

Luven comes up behind the Bleu Gong Spider and backstabs him with a nasty, sentient magic sword for 17 HP of damage. Nosphryic continues to glaive the guy in front of him, hitting twice for 14 HP, yelling “Flank the blue guy!” in fear that the gong can be done over and over.

Breena gets tagged by a spider, as does Nosphryc, bringing him down to 25 of 52 HP. Dante moves to flank the blue guy, as requested, and misses with a firebolt, while Duncan chuks a dagger at the guy for 25HP. Tim unloads with Sacred Flame again, hitting for 9HP – between the two attacks, he dies.  Luven’s up, he moves around the spider, sheathing Marcus Aurelias, and unsheaths the Sword of Karn; he uses the blade of Ung to hit for 16HP. Kills the blue guy. 

This obviates the flanking strategy. 

Breena beheads the last one, hitting for 12 slashing, killing his foe, as does Nosphryc.

We’re all down some HP, so Tim casts a 4th level healing spell and gets us all up by 20HP, and Nosphryc tops himself off back to his full 52 with Second Wind.

We search the room, and find pieces of the two blue spiders; the body still shimmers, and a Nature roll by Nosphryc shows that the critter actually excretes silver from the body. We burn the bodies and extract a bit of silver. The main room has a dwarven altar and shrine – 

We look around, and find a secret door. Specifically, Duncan (8th Level Arcane Trickster – Rogue subclass) finds it,does a look-see, and doesn’t find anything bad. He opens it with a mage hand – he sees a needle snickt out and poke the mage hand, which does nothing. We proceed. There’s lots of bones, pieces of armor, weapons, remnants of crates, boxes, and barrels on the west wall. Looking closely at the bones, they’re dwarven as well. The armor is a bit rusted and beat up; looking around with the Lens of Molnar (the ultimate detect magic/hidding things item). We do find 10 gold bars and 200 silver bars. Nice. A bar is worth 50 coin, so 500gp and 10,000 sp equivalent.

We explore some more, finding tons of spider debris and residue, including fallen humanoids and skeletons. We do see a fairly freshly killed goblin, with a backpack. There are five golden bars, 8 silver bars, two vials, and a metal box with four blue gems inset into it. Each gem is about the size of a small coin. The Lens reveals a Gaseous Form potion, and one Animal Friendship potion. The box is a controller for a vehicle or some sort of transport device. 

The goblins are fey; they’re known to travel around in a big-ass wagon thing. So we figure that this guy was grabbed from the wagon, which is stalled out somewhere. Odds are they didn’t come with it.

And that wraps it up. We all get 1,365 XP.

Parting Shot

Fifth Edition is recognizably D&D. Since I also play in +Erik Tenkar‘s S&W game, it was very similar to that . . . 

. . . but with some exceptions. The 18 skills provide a nice overview of adventuring tasks, and I’m sure the Basic and PHB rules tell you what skills to use to identify a magic item, or value an item. Nosphyric did use a Nature roll to figure out the silver spider thing, after all.

The Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic is a thing of sublime beauty. It absolved, in many cases, the GM and players from any sort of specific calculation in terms of penalties for “bad stuff” or “good stuff.” Just declare advantage or disadvantage, and have done with it. I “caught” +Ken H a few times thinking about a penalty, after which he would just say “you’ve got disadvantage on this roll.”

And that was enough.

I really like the feel of the game. It’s more in depth than OSR, and invites a broader array of tactics. Are your friends hotly engaged with a foe? Then you can chuck or shoot ranged weapons at him and get a “sneak attack” since he can’t see you. Makes sense! It was phrased in mechanical terms that obscure what was going on a bit – but that was the crux of it, and it works.

The short/long rest thing allows some pretty impressive combats, and some nice reccovery and replay value. Some powerful healing magic can get you back to fresh HP pretty fast, but by and large, you”l play through a fun combat and some exploration, and when your group gets together again, you’ll start out being able to do something, and not just “Hit him with my mace.”

It did not hurt anything that the group has a ton of fun, and it was an easy integration into their gaming group.

All in all, I look forward to next Monday’s game.

OK, given my choices below I think I have a fun character to play. However, given these four constraints:

  1. Your basic die rolls are 12, 15, 13, 13, 15, and 14. Nothing to complain about here.
  2. The character should be a weapon specialist of some sort – not necessarily fighter only, but a fighty-type. 
  3. He’s going to need a reason to wind up miles underground in the Monteport dungeon
  4. He’ll start with exactly as many XP as he needs to be 5th level

What would you do with those stats in order to provide more weapon and meat to the party.

This coming Monday, I’ll play in my first game with the new D&D rules, and I’m pretty excited about it. Now that I’ve gone through a character generation cycle, I find myself very impressed with the integrated Roll20 support for D&D. Lots of macros, auto-calculations, etc. Good stuff.

I’ll get to the numbers in a moment, but I really enjoyed how the roleplaying elements of the new edition interacted with the die rolls for statistics. When I happened to roll a very nice set of stats, the ideals, flaws, and other motivational aspects pushed me to choose the Noble. That is a solid step up over the “you’re on your own” support for roleplaying in, say, Swords and Wizardry. That which is measured or supported with mechanics is more likely to be acted on, and the six background elements (more later) there are a nice touch.

So here we go . . . 

The Die Rolls


I started with +Ken H telling me that the die-rolling method was 4d6 drop the lowest, allocate as I’d like. I tend to start with fighters, and human fighters specifically, in games in the fantasy genre with which I’m not familiar. Also, he gave me the cast of characters, and I noted that there was only one fighter-type, and a Barbarian at that:

  • Adzeer Mattiu, Hunter of the Second Circle (Half Orc, 8th Level Cleric)
  • Breena Honey-Badger Warrick (Gnome, 5th Level Barbarian)
  • Dante Rathburn (Human, 7th Level Warlock)
  • Duncan Kern (Gnome, 7th Level Rogue)
  • Luven Lightfingers (Human, 8th Level Rogue)
So I figured a straight-up fighter-type would be appropriate. I’m starting at 5th level, the lowest in the party along with said (gnome!) Barbarain.
In any case: the dice were kind. Raw rolls of 12, 15, 13, 13, 15, and 14! Choosing human gave me +1 to each of these (!), and I allocated them with my highest scores in STR and CON, and my third in WIS, since Wisdom is closely linked to perception rolls, and I like being able to notice stuff. I’d had a suggestion that since I was likely going to wear plate armor, that I could/should ignore DEX, but the concept of ignoring DEX as a fighter seems backwards to me. I put my “lowest” score,  a 13, in INT instead, and put my 14s in DEX and CHA. With the +2 CHA bonus, I felt that it was an indication of polish and sophistication. 
Leveling up and making choices

I started with 6500 experience points, at the start of 5th level. So I got +2 to one of my stats, or +1 to each . . . or a Feat. Some of those seem cool, and I was tempted, but I figured I’d leverage the opportunity to start with a really obnoxiously high STR instead. That also kept new rules to a minimum, and since I don’t yet have the Players Handbook, it meant I could do it all from the Basic Rules.
Mixing a few things together, I wound up choosing the Archery fighting style, and the Champion archetype (the only one in Basic, but it fit anyway). I chose a Noble background, combined with my skill choices has given me Athletics (grappling!) at +7, History at 14, Perception at 15, and Persuasion at 15 as well.
In terms of other choices, Ken and I decided that Nosphryc (I looked around my room, and saw Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. I took Crypto and Stephanson, came up with Cryptoson, and said, hmmm, maybe backwards. Nosotpyrc. Eh – Nospyrc? Nosphryc. There we go.) would have “a Wizard did it” as the basic reason he showed up miles underground in full armor and gear. 
But then I came up with the idea that it was voluntary. That part of the family tradition was that potential rulers have to go adventuring in order to both increase the wealth of the family and prove that they’re heroic and noble enough to rule. That inspired the choices for the roleplaying elements, and that led to the choices below.
A Full and Proper Kit

Ken allowed me to, since I was 5th level, start with plate armor. I decided that all of his weapon choices would be large and two-handed – no shields for him, though he could use them if he chose. So with the martial weapon proficiency, he picked up a Longbow, a glaive, a pair of handaxes, and a longsword. 
Ken also gave me a bunch of magic stuff: a +1 Sword, +3 vs. Undead (the Sword of Lendorth), an amulet that gives me +1 AC vs the undead (Amulet of Ren), Quickboots (40′ move regardless of encumbrance), a Medium Bag of Holding (to put all the loot in I need to bring back to my family), and a small handful of healing potions. When I’m not tramping around in my armor, I have fine clothes, a signet ring and scroll of pedigree, an explorer’s pack (which I’ll populate with the proper stuff before Monday), and his tokens of vice: a set of playing cards and a white, sequined lady’s glove that is not of good quality. At all.
Parting Shot

I’m gong to enjoy playing him, I think. He’s got decent mobility and AC 18, which I’m told is pretty decent. Against non-undead, he’ll roll 1d20+8 to hit with his sword, 1d20+7 but at longer reach to hit with his glaive. So in melee combat, he’ll range between 5 to 14 points of damage per hit, and 8-17 vs undead. Ranged weapons are the bow, which will reach out quite far, at 1d20+5 to hit, 3-10 damage, and the handaxes, closer-in but 1d20+7 and 5-10 points, for a smaller minimum. It’s slashing, though, rather than piercing, which is probably good against creatures that don’t have much structure to them. Skeletons and the like.
His STR and proficiency make him an excellent grappler , and he’s got good Perception to detect threats. I suspect he won’t be sneakin’ up on anyone, since his heavy armor disadvantages him on Stealth, but what with two rogues in the party, I think he’s more likely to be on the lookout to provide fire support when the rogues are out on point getting themselves in trouble.
I usually don’t play front-line types. I like me my rangers. But I wanted to stay basic for the start, and the Archery fighting style gives me a decent stand-off. I’ll definitely be looking for magical bows and arrows, though. If I could mitigate the clanky-clanky of the plate, he’d be a good point man – put a wall of metal and muscle up front.

I’m very excited. I asked to join a DnD game with some names you’re going to recognize when I post session reports, and was invited to join.

Because I don’t have access to the PHB, I”m sticking with the basics. Fifth level fighter, and he’s developing a nice backstory.

I rolled ridiculously well for stats: 4d6 drop lowest, plus being human, gave me 13, 16, 14, 14, 16, 15.

Yow.

Right now, I’m considering Heavy Armor Feat instead of the +2 to stats, but I’m unsure. I don’t really have access to the feat list. If I just do stats, I can rock out with STR 18, DEX 15, CON 16, INT 13, WIS 14, CHA 14 or I can go with STR 17 and DEX 16. I like high DX for both the AC as well as often a bonus with ranged weapons. I’ve got an Archery specialty at the moment, but Great Weapon Fighting might be fun too. He’s going to let me start with plate armor, and my loadout is a longsword, longbow, glaive, and two handaxes.

The back story on him is At a certain age (18, 21, whatever) the noble scions of the House of the Azure Tabard (or some such) are sent on Quest. They’re teleported (voluntarily) way the hell away. They must adventure, thrive, enrich themselves to show they are worthy, lead men, follow men, slay monsters, fight for law, and . . . eventually . . . return home.

I’ve got some other notes on him, and I’ll post a final character when I’m done.
For now, though – I’m open to suggestions! What am I missing?