We start out having breakfast at an inn. +Peter V. Dell’Orto joins us playing an Elder of Mitra.

I believe the conversation begins trying to mitigate an uprising and prevent a war, or at least a slaughter, should actual troops come to put down the threat to the economic center that is Phandelver.

Carmina proposes confronting Halia and getting us to tell us what’s the deal with the list of people that she’s paying off that seems to be separate from her whole operation of purchasing fugitives to sell to the CityState as slaves.

That whole slave operation is a direct betrayal of her superiors, right up to the Invincible Overlord himself. Even if the Mitran revolution gets reversed, she’s in deep trouble there. That’s not kosher no matter who’s in charge.

I do a quick check on what the lay of the land is. Phandalin is kind of a nothing town. But the money from the mine has been shut off, and that will be noticed. We probably have a month at the near end, and three at the most, before the Big Dogs notice. Even before that, the local foes of Phandalin may show up to remind the townsfolk that they are, in fact, messing with the source of coin in the local region. The mine supplies the coin, which is used to buy food and other items from the surrounds. No mine, no economy.

An arrogant merchant comes in and starts insulting everyone. Not recognizing a Paladin of Veritas, she mouths off a bit. Mark stands up and calls divine light, rolling Intimidation at an advantage, hitting a 22, and she beats a hasty and chastened retreat. Mission accomplished.

We do a politics overview. The regents are led by the Myrmidon of Set. City State has been taken over by the forces of Mitra. The church of Mitra is present in the neighboring country of Modron, who had paid to finance a future rebellion. The Principality of Modron is a Ghinorian Successor Realm dominated by the Church of Mitra but is not a theocracy but the church of Tain.

Markbludiell speculates that the rumor of uprising in City State was planted. The inflammation caused the uprising (the casus belli) and the shutdown of the money from the mines provides the reason to actually care.

We discuss threats and eventualites and politics – and a young man bursts into the room shouting that the Redbrands (?) are back, and are under the inn. This seems to have been a feature of a previous campaign. 

Apparently “Carp” is in trouble. Little Timmy has fallen into the well, more or less. Rob pulls the ‘if conversation goes on too long, have ninjas kick in the door’

We pile into the area under the Inn, which can only be called a dungeon.

We advance, and eventually see a mage, four thugs, and Carp. The mage says “describe them again, starting from the top.”

Poor Carp starts spilling his guts. About the members of our party that he knows about. In great detail.

Sidwin the Sharp takes careful aim (“Hit him in the hit points!” says +Peter V. Dell’Orto), and rolls a 23 (and a 19! ” +Tim Shorts are you OK? Neither of those was a 1!”). The sneak attack strikes home and he hits for 15 HP total. 

Now for initiative, and Markbludiell rolls a 2. Gah. I am become Tim, roller of 1s. Look upon my order, ye mighty, and laugh maniacally. Sigh.

Carmina closes the distance to the northeast door. The mage then turns around and casts a Web spell at Sidwin. Web is good at preventing closing the distance, but doesn’t prevent a guy with a ranged weapon from peppering you with arrows. Vognur moves, sees the web, says “Aw, Crap!” and tries to start hacking through the web, not wishing to set the web on fire with Sidwin in it.

The thugs all shoot crossbows at Sidwin, two of which hit for 15 HP of damage. 

We discuss making the Shield spell +2d4 to AC instead of a flat +5 to make it less deterministic if it’s worth casting.

Markbludiell moves to the doorway as well, but cannot see a foe. Carmina charges to the south entrance, which she remembers comes around the back of the bad guys, though a 10′ pit must be crossed to get to them. 

Lamar burns away a section of web. 

The mage casts magic missile at Sidwin; he reacts with a shield spell. “You’ll have to do better than that!” and rolls an Intimidation check with DC 15 – he rolls 19 and nails it. They are intimidated.

Alb Irex moves forward and goes for another interaction – “Give up, and we’l spare your lives!”  We all laugh, so at least we aren’t intimidated.

Sidwin comes up and gets in an action, but then gets pasted for another 15HP. He’s down 30 HP, so this is bad news for him. 

We are having real issues with the web, and that’s when, of course, the mage throws a fireball down the corridor. 

“How many HP do you have left?” “Not enough to survive a fireball from a 7th level (or so) mage, likely”

Sidwin rolls a crit, and the door slams shut. The web burns away. And Carp, poor kid, turns into a crispy critter, screaming as he burns. Those that saved take 1/4 damage, those that don’t take half damage, thanks to the quick reaction/critical from Sidwin.

Vognur charges in “You killed Carp; he was just a boy!” but doesn’t get to attack. Alb Irex charges in, and casts a healing spell, healing him completely by the power of Mitra.

Sidwin charges forward, jumps on the mage with the neck, and gives him a little stabby stabby in the neck neck, to quote the player.

He also rolls an intimidation roll and nails it. The thugs are mostly cowering, but some are still active.

Markbludiell rolls in and protects the priest of Mitra and now-healed but still fallen child. It’s what he does.

Carmina rolls some flaming flaminess. “I’ll see your pokey stabbiness, and raise you flamy flaminess! It’s a third level burn!”

We basically finish the mage off. “That’s for Carp!” 

“Um, he’s alive!” “Tim doesn’t know that.”

There is still fighting to the south, with a bunch of bad guys peppering Carmina with crossbow bolts, so Markbludiell dashes forward, leaps a pit, and tries to close with the bad guys. Sidwin also jumps the pit and advances to the fray.

Tim runs forward and has cast Disguise Person on himself; he impersonates the mage and tells the remaining thugs that their cause is lost. They throw down their weapons, and we come forward, and Sidwin drops his disguise. 

We have six captured thugs and one dead mage. We loot ’em all, scoring a magic wand that shoots Web spells, 660d in coin, and a letter. We also find a blacked silver dragonhead token. It’s a sign of Pan Caulderax – she is a dragon. An actual, no-crap dragon that lives in Warwick, north of here. She’s been wanting to infringe on City State territories. 

My divine intuition tells me that this is one of the prime movers in my holy calling. Not the revolution, but the currents being stirred by the dragon.
We interrogate the prisoners. Mori is a green dragon, living south of us, in Dearthwood. Maud is, perhaps, “some girl,” so say the thugs. They also mention a Vermian. And being killed by Herone (?) since they failed. They need to tell Vermian it’s time to come home. 
They did visit the Glasstaff. Oh, and Vermian is Mori’s offspring. The dragon in Thundertree sounds like a young dragon.
Pan Caulderax is well known to the elves. The Silverwood, home of the elves, was taken out by an army of orcs led by that dragon. That army also took out the dwaven stronghold of the Majestic Fastness, which is rumored to be the dragon’s lair to this day.
Herone is a merchant in Tain – just north of here.
Markbludiell prays for guidance; the gods cannot or do not take a side in that matter. 
Intervening in the workings of the locak bad-guy Knight (Sir Varius of Highgarden Manor) is within the realm of human choice. Other pertinent detail: There is probably a dozen other manors between Vallon and Phandelver each with a knight and 2 to 4 yeoman. But their allegiance is fragmented; they might break any direction. Set, Mitra, pro-overlord, the Lars (ancestor worship), etc. 
We do a lot of discussion. There’s a dearth of information. We don’t know whether the Knight of Highgarden Manor is about to mount an attack on Phandelver, or not. We don’t really know if the Regency has really been overthrown by Mitra (we suspect “hell no.”) We do know that the dragon Pan Caulderax is at the center of one of the major plot stirrings. We also suspect that Sir Varius isn’t bright/motivated enough to attack without being poked in that direction.
We decide to head through Highgarden and then on to Tain, looking for mobilization. Sidwin (Tim will be absent next monday) will go ahead to Tain, paving the way for a later visit. We can intervene in Highgarden if bad stuff is happening there. If not, onward to Tain to get info on whether the political situation that motivated the revolt in Phandelver was underpinned by a real upheaval in the capital, or not.
We end there, having spent but a day in-game. We will execute the plan next game time.

This may be a short post. My newly-made Paladin charged into the opening fight as per his “seek out the baddest guy” custom, and got nailed for a crit for 4d8+2 damage, for 22 points. That brought him down hard from 38 hp. Several misses later, Mark (my guy) gets hit again for 9, though he was healed in the interim for 9 HP as well. 

He’s missed twice, but the third time, he connects, and expends a spell slot to do an extra 2d8 damage, for a total of 3d8+3, and he rocks in for 23 HP. That sounds like a good plan for the future, then. Gotta take this guy down before things get horribly out of control.

The rest of the guys are engaging the soldiers – all of whom seem tough. High armor class of 16 or more. 

Sidwin the Sharp – I think is an orc or half-orc, we started in media res so Mark isn’t sure – slides in behind the big guy and eviscerates him with a backstab. Whew.

The miners that were around the campfire continue to run, and Keyar Nailo misses with a rapier stab. We continue to make slow, steady process, knocking down an orc here and there, and they have to make a morale check, only DC 10, but two flee anyway. 

I think that leaves four active foes. Mark runs up behind one of the uninjured orcs, and nails him in the back for 10 slashing damage (he got advantage due to facing). I can see this character is going to need a lot of healing though – this “my calling is to be where the fight is hottest in the defense of the good and the weak” thing is going to damage my calm a lot.

We continue mopping up, the higher level characters taking their toll, and the field is clear enough to start picking up stragglers, and Mark kills the last fighting orc. 

Kayar and Mark both shoot at the fleeing orc, downing him. Sidwin goes and drags him back to stabilize him for questioning. 

Of the miners, we save four of the miners that were wounded. So two dead, four wounded, six robust and unharmed.

The miners are perhaps predictably, grumpy. Rewards are promised if we can get them to safety. They claim they cannot go back to Phandalin; they’d be arrested by the town leaders.

Halia is the leader of the miners; she’s the foreman and a worshipper of Set. The miners are pleased with their treatment, but the Mitrans rand them all out of town, and captured Halia. 

Hmm. Politics.

And some inter-party strife. The overlord has been bleeding the city-state dry, worshipper of Set. The priestess of Mitre that was journeying with me declares against the overlord, and Mark Bludiell is on the side of justice and light, as befits his station.

Much politicking happens that frankly goes by a bit fast for me, and we split the party, I think, and head to Phandalin. We push through the barricade manned by two weak-minded commoners. The Paladin brushes them aside (Mark rolls badly, the barricade soldiers roll worse) and we continue, eventually meeting a Priestess of Mitre and two merchants.

We return Gundrin to the merchants, and note that our fellow party members are escorting a group of miners to the manor house. They ask if we’re from City-State or Dracolindes.

Draco-what? We don’t know either.

We find out that the Sheriff is in Tain, and that sounds like a bad thing, I think.

Markbludiell gets some dents pounded out of his armor from the previous fight. 

We switch scenes, and the PCs come up to the manor house, and a knight in shabby, unkept armor is riding towards them with two companions. It would seem that all representatives of the City-State have been bad guys.

“Well, look what the cat dragged in. State your business here,” says the Knight.
“We’re here seeking refuge, we’re here to see the Sheriff of Tain…”

The miner goes up to the Knight, and shows him something – the High Elf Keyar sees the exchange, and watches the Knight all of a sudden give the miners the Shepherd Book treatment. “Get this man to the infirmary at once!” and whatnot.

We discuss the politics of the situation; we’ve endangered, perhaps, one of the higher ups of the Black Lotus, a spy network. They decide to march hard to Phandelver in order to warn the town that minions and armies of Set may be descending on them.

They return to Phandelver/Phandalin, and run into the same barricade that Markbludiell and the priestess passed earlier. They greet them, “your friends passed earlier with Gundrin!” and are very jovial and welcoming.

The barricade is explained as a reaction to the City-State being under control of the Church of Mitre. They’re kicking out the Settites and taking control themselves. They’ve locked up the reeve, the miners were driven out as allies of Set, and Halia is in jail, etc.

They asked if they got glassstaff? No, they didn’t. They got the drowning black spider, but not the glass-staff. 

They send ’em down to the Stonehill Inn, where the Paladin and Priestess are kickin’ for dinner. The village seems very friendly, and there are about six guys with spears roasting sausage outside the inn. There are probably 100 or so, total, poor excuses for soldiers pretending they’ll make a difference.

The rumors are sweeping across the town that the Overlord Dracolindes, whose patron is Mitre, they say, has taken over the City State. There was an acolyte from the Cathedral; the Duchy of Darkmead is rising as well. Two more allies, and they’re unbeatable. Etc, etc.

We gather around and speak a bunch more; those with Investigation look into the Halia issue, trying to piece together anything coherent from the overall story. Does she have papers and notes? 


I had to go at that point – a conference call in 15 minutes, and an emergency laptop issue.

But wow . . . the Majestic Wilderlands is a dynamic, complicated place to adventure in. Youv’e got countries. Territories. Wilderness. Cities. City-states, each with their own geopolitical stuff going on. Plus the conflict between Set and Mitre . . . or at least, the political conflict between two religious factions, and then there are the layers which may or may not be related, such as whether the Dracolinders guy is actually “rah, rah, Mitre” or he’s playing his own game.

This is so very different from the “beer and pretzels” games I’ve played for a while. I have to pay attention carefully, and I don’t even know who the PCs really are yet! I’m feeling like what I need is a mind map of all the factions. This is probably something +Liz Theis‘ Realmworks might be good at. I wonder if I can/should try using my copy to take notes on this place?

Something needs to be done, though – I’m drowning in the detail. 

It didn’t help that my own PC, Markbludiell (or Mark, or Mark Bludiell – his identity other than as a Paladin, Chosen of Veritas isn’t that important to him) is still nascent. He’s got some backstory written by me, and another large bit of text that was provided by Rob – but I haven’t integrated all of that into his background, personality, story, and motives. 

Hell, I don’t even know what he’s been Called to do, but Paks had that problem too, so I’m not that worried. But in fiction, the characters can be led around by the Hand of God pretty solidly and no one minds. The shared experience of RPGs means I have to be more proactive – seek out The Injustice or whatever the divine mission is, and hit it with a sword a lot. Or whatever is sovereign for the task at hand.

In any case, I think I have homework to do.


Finally, we got about 440 XP for the adventure, which I’m told isn’t bad. At that pace, it’ll be 2-3 more sessions until 5th level, and from there I think 8.000 or so more XP until 6th level, which means a dozen or two sessions per level. So I better get used to this power level for a while. Perhaps.

We follow the underground pathway for a bit longer, and eventually come to a small building area known as Crossroads. We’re met by a gnome in armor, with a golem of some sort, 10′ tall or so. For moral support.  

They discover (because we tell them) that they’ve come home, to Crossroads. A celebration must ensue! 

They take us to their main city, PrinceTown, which +Ken H lovingly rendered in full detail. The primary city is under a large metal dome – defensible and artistic. It is smooth, with no visible seams or joins. It looks like one piece of steel. Each door can be seen opening and closing, but the doors themselves are quite thick, and seem to open themselves, automatically.

We had a party, and the mayor gave a speech. The Hobgoblins came, stole their friends, and these heroes, (for a healthy price), rescued them, yea ha! Bless this food, this gathering, and these heroes, etc. Amen.

+Daniel McEntee arrives. We tell him we’re at a Gnome feast. He asks if we’re on the menu. We say no, and continue.

We gain some knowledge about the map of the Gnome’s territories, a large land, and note that we came through Benn’s house. The map shows Benn’s House to Princetown, and that was about 94 squares. Um. Rough guess about 30 miles, making the extent of the Gnome lands about 10 miles by 6 miles. Making it larger than Rhode Island (kidding. Mostly.)

In any case, we gain knowledge abut the Dwarven Exploration, and the Gnomish History.

Summary of Dwarven Exploration Notes 

The dwarven engineers, builders and miners associated with the Elementalist Monastery left their
exploration notes with the gnomes. Here is the summary: 

  1. The elementalist monastery is 5 levels deep. 
  2. There have been at least two previous settlements of dwarves: 
    • There are remnants of a dwarven city that lie below the fifth level of the elementalist
      monastery. There is no records of this in written dwarven history and the elves simply
      say that the dwarves were stupid to mine and build in such a cursed area. 
    • There was a later influx of dwarves. They avoided the ruins of the dwarvish city and
      mined extensively throughout the area. They were a large but disorganized group,
      which many of them eventually ending up quite deep in the earth. They were able to
      mine significant amounts of gold and silver, but it was a dangerous place. The smart few
      left and most of the rest died. There is some belief that dwarves continued to migrate
      deeper and they are still down there somewhere. 
  3. The dwarves involved with the elementalist monastery discovered a distant gold mine and, with
    the help of the gnomes, built wagons riding on metal rails to transport themselves and their
    gold. The elementalists discouraged this worldly pursuit of wealth, but some in the monastic
    order began to enrich themselves. 
  4. The dwarves discovered several places that were created by outsiders. The first was an area of
    obelisks. The dwarves were banished from this area by the elementalists. Some dwarven
    explorers discovered an area with some of the outsider creatures in tanks near an ancient
    dwarven mining area. This was seen as a very dangerous area and the dwarves destroyed the
    ancient bridge that crossed the chasm, thus severing access from the elementalist monastery.

Summary of the Gnome Chronicles

The gnomes wrote a chronicle of their escape from the elementalist civil war. This is a summary: 

  1. The human monks in the elementalist monastery fell apart into three factions. One faction had
    grown rich by stealing from the dwarven miners. Some within this faction fell into the practice of
    demon worship. A second group was enticed by the powerful magic left behind by the outsiders
    who had once inhabited this area. They used this power to bend the universe in unwholesome
    ways. They also became cannibals. A third group wanted to remain faithful to the elementalists’
    beliefs and practices. They were quickly wiped out, despite the capable leadership of Cassius. 
  2. The dwarves and gnomes fought alongside Cassius. They were able to drive the demon
    worshippers off, chasing them to the dwarves’ ancient gold mining area many miles to the east
    of the monastery. 
  3. The victory had weakened Cassius’ group. He released the gnomes and dwarves to flee for
    safety. Despite overwhelming odds, Cassius and his group was almost successful in their attack
    against the cannibal faction. The cannibals had progressed quickly in their knowledge of alien
    magic and with this magic they defeated Cassius and his followers. 
  4. The gnomes fled through the ant colony to their garden area and then down. The dwarves
    helped them flee, but the dwarves were hunted down and eaten. The gnomes who were
    captured were sacrificed in a secret magic ritual known only to the cannibals. 
  5. The gnomes descended deep into the earth until they found a large cave filled with a forest of
    mushrooms. They carved a small farming community at the western end of the forest. 
  6. Sometime later, a group of stone giants, who also followed in the elementalist way, settled in
    the remaining portion of the forest. They and the gnomes developed an understanding that was
    to their mutual benefit.

The mayor notices that Duncan the Gnome has a hat that gives him a royal countenance. He doffs his hat and bows, revealing the crown of the gnomish king! General amazement ensues, and the gnomes ask if Duncan has returned to be king. 

The mayor leans in, and offers 10 gold bars as a reward for returning the gnomes, but he’ll personally double it if we leave and not come back.

“Oh, well, we didn’t have enemies until you guys showed up.”
“That you knew of. Your people were getting eaten.”
“We have strong allies in the Stone Giants. We give them food, they give us stoneware.”
“But they were eating your people.”
“We had no enemies until you guys showed up.”

I start to wonder if we’re going to have a re-run of “how many five-year-olds can you beat up?” Do you know how mayors and other politicians react when you threaten to take their power away?


There are wood golems and guys in armor around too. The conversation starts to get heated, pointed, and Luven starts sizing up the opposition. There are about 25 gnomes in armor, in groups of 3, each with a construct per group. . 

Duncan offers that we can ask for the current offer plus a few constructs to help us remove the “menace” and ask if any young gnomes would like to enter service to “our royal self”

Duncan stands up, exposes his gnomish crown, and offers up a mighty speech. He totally nails his Charisma check, +2 for leading gnomes, as the gnomes rename the town Kingstown. The mayor takes off his sash, goes down on one knee, and offers up his sash to Duncan.

“OK, we’ll finish the feast and hold court in the morning! Where can we sleep?”
“Somewhere with really thick walls and squeaky floors,” says Nosphryc, sotto voce.

All hail King Duncan! And Queen Breena! (Wait, what? What about the bear!)

“Yay! We have a king! That’s come to stay with us! Forever.”

We keep expecting Ken to ask us all to roll up new characters. You didn’t get a TPK, it was a TPP – Total Party Politicization. Keeping the TP in politics, as if it needed the help. “If you have an election lasting more then four hours, you should seek Clerical help!”

Duncan decides to retire and become king! First time we have a mid-game character loss due to becoming royalty! He decides to make up a Eldritch Knight at 5th level.

“I want to go to the crappy town where I’m a hero.”  – Hoban Washburne

We each get 3,900 x.p for delivering the rescued gnomes…Duncan gains an extra 5,000 for becoming king
 Nosphryc is about 1200XP shy of next level; a T-shirt appears on the screen:

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.


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.


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.


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



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.


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?”

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.


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.

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.


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.


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.