Rolling Word Play – 19

Creating Roleplay ideas based on randomly generated words.  Here’s today’s selection.  Discover more about Shrill Experts, Replaces Confining and Onions Relatives.

Shrill Experts
There are creatures called Rills that are so advanced in terms of sound manipulation that they can harm and stun their opponents with the mere use of their voices.  Unlike most humanoids they have 4 lungs and many air vents. They also have keen ears.  Their incredible aural powers have been developed mainly as a result of internal wars, meaning their own audible defences are also very strong. In terms of physique they are top-heavy with good strength and wasp-like eyes on either side of their head.  Their legs are thin with bird-like feet, giving them good agility and balance.  There is a rarer mutation that gives them four legs, and these are revered in Rill culture and obtain a high status in their society.

Replaces Confining
Welcome to Hamrash prison.  This salty plane of existence is a giant, infertile field. Plants do grow here – a variant of water cress – but they have little nutritional value and the prisoners need to eat a lot of them in order to survive, essentially turning them into cattle. There is one pool of water and the city state has created a number of artificial shelters.  The prison is very effective in humbling and wearing down the most temperamental of prisoners, but the city state has the moral issue of deciding whether to ‘police’ the prisoners’ behaviour in the prison or to leave them to it.

Onion Relatives
These rotund humanoids known as Inshi, appear to have a shiny, glossy skin.  It enables them to regenerate damaged cells and recover hit points. The skin can also be shed, peeling back to reveal an inner skin without the ailments of the outer.  When they choose to do this, their maximum hit points and strength are reduced, but they are fit and healthy once more.  Only a severe wound would affect the inner layers. They have approximately five working layers (depending on the individual) before the inner organs become exposed.  Here is an example of their stats in 5e (Int, Wis and Cha stay the same):

Outer Layer:  Str:16, Dex:10, Con: 18, Hit points = 40, Regeneration rate = 0

Layer 2: Str:14, Dex:12, Con: 16, Hit points = 34, Reg. rate = 1 hp/round

Layer 3:  Str:12, Dex:14, Con: 14, Hit points = 28, Reg. rate = 2 hp/round

Layer 4:  Str:10, Dex:16, Con: 12, Hit points = 22, Reg. rate = 3 hp/round

Layer 5: Str:8, Dex:18, Con: 10, Hit points = 16, Reg. rate = 4 hp/round

The Inshi can recover their outer skin(s), but it is a painful process that takes a considerable amount of time to do.

Rolling Word Play – 18

Creating Roleplay ideas based on randomly generated words.  Here’s today’s selection.  Discover more about Rallies Swings, Events Tilting and Reserved Sawdust.

Rallies Swings
The thieves guild has an assault course that tests their agility and ability to work together.  New initiates have to wait till at least four creatures are ready to join the guild before they’ll be considered.  They must then take the assault course together by each completing a lap of the course with a bundle of goods (represented by a sack of stones) and passing it onto the next initiate.  Failure can be very costly as there are not only dogs chasing the runners but also swinging weaponry to dodge and walls to climb.  Those that get hit by the assault course obstacles can become crippled for life or even die.

Events Tilting
Ambal’s Trembling Disk is a very powerful magical item.  Its size makes it very distinguishable as is it has the appearance of a black rock and so heavy that it uses a four-legged stand, making it a similar size to a desk. The central-top area of the disk is separate from the outside.  In shape, this central area is flat and then curves into a ball at the bottom.  A skilled magic user who has taken time to master the device can project a visible area of land up to 300 ft. onto the disk and start physically moving the central part of the disk up, down and around.  This causes the chosen area of land to do the same, affecting any creatures or buildings in that area as if hit by an earthquake.  It has been used in city defence and even carried into battle warfare before.  But where is it now?

Reserved Sawdust
In the Gamalen Forest, the wood lives on beyond the death of the tree.  This wood attempts to protect the soil beneath by crawling worm-like on the ground and find the best place for it to finally decompose.  One clever entrepreneur realised that if the wood is taken from the forest, it can have other uses.  Reserved Sawdust is a thieves’ favourite tool to cover their tracks as when dropped on the ground it looks for damp patches to cover and divots to fill.  Before long, the ground looks as if no one walked there at all.

Magic Users, Part II

How Characters Cast Spells

In Part I, I discussed the types of spellcasters and how they interacted with magic in the fantasy realm. It’s time to look at the mechanics of spellcasting.  How does it work in practice?

Here are the basics…

  1. Prepared spells:  Some spellcasters need to prepare spell for the day from a greater resource they have access to.
  2. Known spells:  Some spellcasters learn spells until they know them, meaning they do not need to prepare them in advance.
  3. Spell Slots:  Most spellcasters have Spell Slots (Monks are the exception), which represent their capacity to cast spells before their magic is used up and they need to replenish their energy.
  4. Spell Modifier:  All spellcasters use a modifier to work out how effective their spells are.  This affects their Spell Attack rolls and rolls for the Spell’s Difficulty Class for opponents to try and match or get a higher result when they roll a saving throw.

Each character class or sub class is a little different, so let’s compare…

Bards don’t study magic, they take what they know and perform. For that reason, bards have known spells and a charisma modifier.

Clerics are conduits for divine power.  They use Wisdom as a modifier.  They can cast any cleric spell available up to their current spell level, but need to have them prepared.  This is their Wisdom modifier + Cleric Level.

Druids draw on nature, as clerics draw on the divine.   They use Wisdom as a modifier.  They can cast any druid spell available up to their current spell level, but need to have them prepared.  This is their Wisdom modifier + Druid Level.

Eldritch Knight is a subclass of the Fighter.  Like Bards, they have known spells they learn as they improve and apply to their fighting style.  They draw from the wizarding spells and their modifier is Intelligence.

Monks learn to use magical energy called Ki.  They channel this energy in their martial art practices uses Ki Points.  The subclass Way of the Four Elements can cast elemental spells using Ki points.  Like Bards and Eldritch Knights, these become Known but are referred to as Elemental Disciplines and not spells.  They use a Wisdom modifier to determine out how effective their spells are.

Paladins learn to draw on divine magic as clerics do.  They use Charisma as a modifier.  They can cast any cleric spell available up to their current spell level, but need to have them prepared.  This is their Charisma modifier + half the Paladin’s Level.

Rangers learn to draw on nature as Druids do. But they behave far more like Bards and Eldritch Knights, applying what they have learned and using their Known Spell, learning more as they level up.  They use a Wisdom modifier.

Arcane Trickster is a subclass of the Rogue.  Like Bards and Rangers, they don’t study magic, they take what they learn and apply it. For that reason, these Rogues have known spells .  They use an Intelligence modifier.

Sorcerers have no need to study as magic is in their veins. Very much like Bards, they perform what they know.  Because of this, Sorcerers have known spells and a charisma modifier.  They also have Sorcerer Points, which can be used to enhance their spells in some way.

Warlocks are peculiar because although they have spell slots, all of these slots are the same level as their current spell level. They can still cast lower level spells but they will be using a higher level spell slot to do it.  They perform the gifts of their patron, so like Bards, they have known spells and a charisma modifier.

Wizards are the students of magic and draw from a spellbook to prepare spells (They should also use physical components as part of the spells’ preparations but not all roleplays apply this).  Because of this their known spells are whatever spells are in their spellbook, so researching and finding spell scrolls can be exciting!  They use the Intelligence modifier.  The number of spells they can prepare is their Intelligence modifier + Wizard Level.

Delving into D&D

Saving Throws

Recently I’ve been getting a few questions regarding the mechanics of D&D and how it works. The Player’s Handbook is excellent but it is just one explanation and sometimes what might make sense to one person might baffle another.   So this series is about looking at an element of D&D and explaining it in more detail.

Let’s start with a description of Saving Throws taken from Wikipedia:

A saving throw is a roll of dice used to determine whether magic, poison, or various other types of attacks are
effective against a character or monster.

What are they for?
In D&D they are used to determine whether a character can resist or avoid the effects of a threat, such as a
trap, drinking poison or being charmed by another creature.

How do they work?

When the Dungeon Master (DM) reveals a threat to the player, they will be asked to roll a saving throw based on one of their character’s attributes.  But which one?

Here are the 6 attributes as described by the Player’s Handbook, p.173:

Strength – measuring physical power
Dexterity – measuring agility
Constitution – measuring endurance
Intelligence – measuring reasoning and memory
Wisdom – measuring perception and insight
Charisma – measuring force of personality

I’ve listed 20 possible scenarios below and sorted them into the attribute the character needs to save against.  Next to that is the reason why that attribute is the one being used.

How do you roll a saving throw?

You roll a saving throw against a difficulty class given by the DM.  Often these are pre-determined; for example a monster’s attack effects (Beholder’s eye ray effects have a difficulty class is 16) or a magic user’s spells (8 + spell
caster’s ability modifier + proficiency bonus).

For difficulty classes not pre-determined, it is up to the DM to decide how difficult it is to avoid or
resist the threat. These range from very easy (difficulty class of 5) to nearly impossible (dc of 30).  The DM should
also say what character attribute it is against.

Now you know what you are rolling against, you roll a d20 die and add you attribute modifier.  If your character class has proficiency against that attribute, you add their proficiency number to the die roll.  For example, a Level 3 Wizard with intelligence of 16 needs to try and pass an intelligence save.  His intelligence modifier is +3 and as a
Level 3 wizard he can add his proficiency of 2. So his saving throw is 1d20 +5.

If the saving throw equals or is greater than the difficulty class, then they successfully save.  This normally results in avoiding or reducing the effects that were threatening them.

So does it matter what attribute to use when making a saving throw?

Yes, it will matter to the character making the save.  Each class has proficiency in saving throws for two attributes (see list on p.145 of the Player’s Handbook).  Here is an example:

Meet Pevel, a Level 5 rogue from my online RP campaign, Agora Core.  Rogues have proficiency in saving throws for  Dexterity and Intelligence.

In this example, Pevel is being attacked by a Beholder (yikes!).  The Beholder can attack with its many eye rays.  Let’s blast Pevel 10 times with 2 different eye rays. The first time through, we will use the Petrification Ray, which requires
a Dexterity saving throw.  Then we will repeat the dice rolls but this time, we will use the Sleep Ray, which requires
a Wisdom saving throw.  For both, the difficulty class is 16.

Pevel’s rolls without adding modifiers are:

13, 5, 1, 6, 12, 7, 14, 20, 18, 17

Against the Petrification Ray, Pevel uses his Dexterity saving throw.  As a Level 5 rogue, he add his proficiency, which is +3. So with his Dexterity modifier, his saving throw is 1d20 + 6.

That means his saving throws rolls are:

19, 11, Nat 1, 12, 18, 13, 20, Nat 20, 24, 23

Against the Sleep Ray, Pevel uses his Wisdom saving throw.  As a Level 5 rogue he is not proficient in Wisdom, so simply adds his Wisdom modifier.  He saving throw is 1d20 + 1.  That means his saving throw rolls were:

14, 6, Nat 1, 7, 13, 8, 15, Nat 20, 19, 18

The difference between the two results shows how your chances of success vary depending on your character’s attributes and class.  For the Dexterity saving throw in which Pevel was proficient, he successful rolled 16 or more 6/10 times.  But for the Wisdom he only succeeded 3/10 times.

What if there is no threat?

If there is no threat, then the character is not reacting to imminent danger to their life.  Any actions they take become an Ability Check instead.  These still use the core 6 attributes, but more often than not use skills, which character can have proficiency in.  For example, spotting a trap is a Perception Check (Wisdom-based), and working out how to disarm it with an Investigation Check (Intelligence-based).

Level 4, Episode 8

What Lies Beyond

Somewhere in the Da lurks a creature with enough power to
worry an ancient lich.  The party venture
into the unknown in search of the creature and to return with new servants for
the Lich Lord, Hayyaes.

This episode combines over 2 sessions of online D&D roleplaying.

DM Note #6

Story Paths

This refers to Series 2, Episode 1 of Agora Core: Gifts of Pelor.

After the party was formed, their initial actions caused the original side-stories to be cut because they were never going to be able to walk around the town of Mid-Nis as free men.

And so the possible stories and adventures had to start anew.  I really like the moment in the episode when the well does seem to have run dry.  They are sitting in a tavern having a quiet drink and wondering where to go from here.

From here, their world is both limitless and directionless.  They have no burdens apart from staying clear of Mid-Nis.
Storylines were in place but needed them to make the first move.  It was interesting to see what happened next.  Orix even mentioned becoming pirates!

By talking to Dais in the tavern they heard the local gossip that they could profit from; a new ‘grave’ site discovered in the desert landscape known as the Da and the Mid-Nis mines requiring a Kobold elimination squad.

Their visionary dreams, brought about by the mysterious ‘Summit’, gave the players personal missions.  The visions also gave them insight into other sordid activities going on.

They decided to pursue the treasures in the desert, but they may yet return to the other options.  The Kobolds may yet grow stronger and Orix showed an interest in looking in on his friend Vian who left home to go to the mysterious Mara Society.  But first, let’s see what the Da has in store…