Go here!! Read the rules!! Submit your request!!! Do it!!!
Long live the Santicore!!
Go here!! Read the rules!! Submit your request!!! Do it!!!
Long live the Santicore!!
The Wondrous Bag of Holding*-
This 60 pound thick tattered leather backpack is a highly sought after treasure. It has the ability to hold an immeasurable amount of objects. The mouth of the bag is wide enough to fit a canoe or similarly sized objects or smaller. When someone attempts to retrieve something they must stick their hand into the bag and concentrate on the object for one round. The person then must succeed at a Luck roll to find it. Failure means that the object is swirling in the nether of the bag for 24 hours. Burning a point of Luck will immediately bring the object to the person’s hand.
Should the inside of the bag ever been torn by a sharp object, calamity will ensue. The ripped inside of the bag opens a powerful vortex to the Void and begins sucking everything in within 96,000 square feet (roughly 2 ¼ acres). There is no save. There is no escape. Once the bag has been sucked into the Void, the vortex dissipates, leaving a huge bowl shaped crater in the area.
*- This item is from the Hubris campaign setting.
The Violin of the Lamented Exile- Isaac Thamuel, a once a renowned and celebrated musician, fled his beloved nation after he wrote a symphony of such passion and heartbreak it caused all in the audience to go insane, many dying of a seemingly broken heart.
As the years in isolation and exile passed Isaac became more engrossed in his grief and torment. He played his violin at many inns and taverns along his travels, and the result was nearly always the same… chaos, crushing sadness, insanity, and death.
Eventually Isaac was killed by a frenzied mob as he wandered into a new town, but his violin survived. This violin is fueled with the energies of sadness, bitterness, and chaos that coursed through Isaac’s soul.
Should a person play a song of sadness and loss on the violin, all within a 100’ radius must make a successful save DC 18 Will save or be driven mad, suffering a permanent 2d3 Wisdom loss. Each day the target must make another Will save at the same DC or lose a further 2d3 points of Wisdom. Once a target has dropped to 3 or below Wisdom, they are permanently insane, lost in the prison of their own mind. A successful Will save causes the target to snap back to reality, but does not recover the lost points.
Each time a person plays this violin they permanently lose a point of Charisma as their become a more surly, moody, and tortured soul.
The ancient and shriveled goblin shaman Ulgrag kept a bag of victim’s belly buttons as a trophy. He would gladly take them out and show them to the other members of his clan at a moments notice. After an unfortunate incident where Ulgrag’s head ran into a knights war mace, the bag was collected and sold off to a mysterious pawn shop, simply known as “The Emporium.” Now the shop keeper has a deal for you…
In the bag at any given time are the belly buttons of:
Virgins (There are 10 of these)- they can be put on the fingers of a person (like black olives) and become suction cups that allow the wearer to climb sheer surfaces. Lasts for 2d10 minutes before shriveling up and crumbling to dust.
Children (1d4 of these)- Throw at a target and it acts like the Phantasmal Killer (Wizard, lvl 4) spell.
Old People (2d4 of these)- These shriveled and nasty belly buttons can be crushed into a fine powder and blown in the eyes of a target. The target must make a DC 14 Fort save or be blinded for 2d10 minutes and being to have horrible, violent hallucinations. Alternatively the user can crush up four at a time and throw them at an area, which acts as the Web spell (Wizard, lvl 2).
Goblin (3d6 of these)- Ah how Ulgrag liked to carve out the belly buttons of naughty lil goblins of his clan! Each one of these thrown summons a loyal goblin soldier (2 HP, +1 attack, AC 12, 1d4-1 dmg- rusted dagger). These lil bastards giggle, cause mayhem, and last for 2d10 rounds or until killed.
Women (1d3 of these)- The owner can stretch this belly button out and lower it around their head. They will be transformed into a beautiful woman (Charisma 18, +4). The perfect disguise… or just something to do on a lonely Friday night.
Men (1d4 of these)- This can be thrown on the ground and a level 1d4 fighter will appear and serve your will. This is a mindless husk, but very capable with a blade. Only one of these belly buttons can be used at a time. The fighter lasts for 2d3 rounds before disappearing.
Once all these belly buttons have been used the bag will sit empty for 1 month. After 1 month the bag must be set under the full moon and bathed in the blood of a yak, the venom of a spider, and the spit of a whore. Once these rites have occurred the bag will refill.
For Part One- go here.
Yesterday I covered chapters 1-4 (basically character creation and to get the PC’s up and adventurin’). Today I will hit chapters 5-11 and the Appendixes.
Chapter 5 is the equipment chapter. If you’re familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, I really don’t need to touch on this chapter. The one cool thing I’ll mention about it is at the end of this chapter there is a d100 table of trinkets. Each player receives one trinket when they create their character. These are cool. They could be the jumping off point of a plot hook of the character. Is it magical? Is it cursed? Totally up to the DM to flesh these out (or not).
Another thing is the finesse feat of 3.x is now attached to the weapon itself (like daggers and rapiers) rather than something that the player needs to take to be functional.
Chapter 6 is about customization options for characters- these are rules that the DM can state whether or not they are allowed in their game.
Multiclassing functions a bit like it did in 3.x. Your levels in each class add together to your actual level (IE a 3rd level fighter that takes a level of rogue is now a 4th level character). The cool thing is that there is Ability Score minimums required to multiclass- I dig.
The chapter then touches on Feats. I really dug what they have done. First off the Feats section is only 4 pages long. Again, these are an optional rule. How it works is that Classes don’t get feats. As with 3.x (and maybe 4e- not sure about that) when a character gets to level 4 they are able to raise an Ability score. The player can either raise one Ability by 2, or two Abilities by 1. If the GM allows the optional rule of feats you can take one instead of raising an Ability score. So the first level you are even getting a feat is at lvl 4. Very cool. Again- this speeds up chargen and doesn’t overwhelm a beginning player with too many options.
Chapter 7 is about Ability scores- this covers modifiers, the Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic (which is awesome), Proficiency bonuses, Skills, and Saves.
As a major fan of OSR-style play (fast rules, simplicity, and fast women) I was really happy with these rules. Gone are the numerous saves and weird bonuses and long skill lists. Everything is traced back to your Abilities and Proficiencies. All saves are now handled by your Ability score. Each class has at least two Abilities scores that they are Proficient in for saves. As the class levels up, so does their proficiency score- to cap out at +6 for ALL CLASSES by level 17.
When a PC is required to roll a save they roll a d20+ the appropriate ability modifier+ proficiency bonus (if applicable) to beat the determined DC. Very easy. I feel was inspired by Castles and Crusades.
Ability checks are done the same route and if you have a skill (determined by class) that is applicable you apply the same formula as stated above. While it isn’t touched upon here, this is also the same for toolkits. Your race, class, and background may give you proficiency with a toolkit. If someone needs to pick a lock they require a thieves toolkit.. A fighter with this toolkit would roll a d2o+dexterity modifier and hope they hit the DC. A thief is proficient with the thieves toolkit, so they would also add their proficiency bonus to the roll- making them better than others at opening locks (or disabling traps).
I really like this approach. There isn’t the skill list wIith too many options (some redundant) of the 3.x era, and everything boils down to an Ability roll. Everyone can try anything. You wanna swim in a strong current? Roll a strength check. Oh you have the Athletics skill- go ahead and add your proficiency bonus to that then. Done. It’s simple and elegant.
One of the coolest mechanics in the game is the Advantage/Disadvantage system. I really think that it was inspired by the mechanics of Barbarians of Lemuria. If you have the advantage on a target (and there are multiple things that grant this) you roll two d20s and take the higher of the two. If you are at a disadvantage, you roll two d20s and take the lower of the two. You can’t have more than one advantage or disadvantage at a time. If a situation arises where you have both- you simply roll your d20 (even if you have three things giving you advantage and two giving you disadvantage). I love this, because it’s not going to slow things down with people trying to figure out what cancels what and what’s left over, etc. It’s a DONE DEAL. Move on. Roll your d20 and kill shit! It’s a great, simple, and rewarding mechanic!
Chapter 8 is all about adventuring. It discusses travel (broken down into times that work for dungeon crawls, city crawls, and hexcrawls), movement, vision and light sources, environmental factors, resting, and activities between adventures.
Resting is broken down into a Short Rest and a Long Rest. Short rests are for an hour more when there is no strenuous activity other than eating, drinking, or pooping. During this time a wizard can recover a select number of spells (class ability), some other classes have things that refresh from a short rest. Also PC’s can access their Hit Dice pool and get some healing.
I think that this is the evolution of healing surges from 4e, but I could be wrong. Each character has a pool of dice equal to their maximum HD (IE a level 5 warlock has 5 HD pool). The player can spend a number up to the maximum of their HD pool and roll those dice, and adds their Con modifier to each one- and that replenishes their health. Expended Hit dice from the pool are replenished at 1/2 of level with a long rest (IE a the 5th level Warlock could regain 2 HD to their pool back with a long rest).
Long rests are a good night sleep- 8 hours. This replenishes casters spell slots (more on this in the magic section), refreshes some class abilities, and replenishes ALL lost hit points. I remember this rule from 4e.
I’ll be honest- when I read this, my OSR brain had the reaction in the meme below:
It causes my normal instinct of brutality and death and chaos that is prevalent in my Hubris campaign to twitch a little. It may be too forgiving for my tastes, but honestly I haven’t played it yet and I can’t make a judgement. It’s easy to houserule it to NO HP back or maybe I won’t be such a prick and let them have 1/2 back, but I won’t make that houserule until I play it RAW so I can actually made an educated decision. Also I’ll concede that while 5e takes many inspirations from old school games, it still is more heroic than games like DCC or LotFP. Level 1 characters aren’t Luke Skywalker on the moisture farm on Tattooine, they are Luke from Empire Strikes Back. And hey- that’s fine- I’m just so used to gritty death and maiming that I have to recalibrate the way I think about things.
It also touches on things to do between sessions such as crafting, cost of living and lifestyle expenses. These are SIMPLE rules and I love it. Gone are the skills or feats needed to do anything… Simple and down to one paragraph.
Now onto Chapter 9… the big one… the thing that is on every veteran D&D player’s mind… Combat! I was actually really surprised by the rules for combat… why? Because it is only takes up 10 pages in 5e (actually 9 if you count the two half pages as one page)! It makes me weep (in a good way- not looking at myself naked in a mirror kinda way). It’s so small and lite compared to 3.x and 4e.
Combat pretty much runs the same from 3.x and 4e days- roll your d20, add your Strength or Dex mod and beat the targets AC. If your character is proficient with a weapon- add your proficiency bonus.
However some changes have been made, and I have to say- I like them.
Here’s a few to highlight:
Death in 5e is handled differently than I’ve seen in any other edition. Gone are they days of negative HP tracking. Once you are at 0 HP, you are unconscious and dying. When in this state you roll a d20 (no modifiers, this is purely luck now) and if you roll a 10 or above, you mark it as a success. 9 or below is a failure. Once you have three successes you wake up with 1 HP. If you get three failures before three successes you are maggot food. Rolling a 20 on this roll automatically stabilizes you, whereas rolling a 1 counts as two failures.
Another way to die is from massive damage. If you are dropped to zero and there is enough damage to equal or exceeds your maximum HP you are toasted instantly, no saves. I like this because it keeps the threat of death for early level play, but diminishes with each level as you grow stronger.
Chapter 10 moves into spellcasting rules. While certain things remain familiar to veteran D&D players- the way spells are now handled has changed. Instead of having spells per day and having spells that scale as you level up, you now have spell slots. These slots are how many spells you can cast per day. Several classes (IE- Bard, sorcerer, etc) have spells that they know, whereas a wizard doesn’t- because they have their big badass tome of spells.
When you cast Magic Missile as a level one spell, you conjure two missiles that automatically hit and do 1d4+1 damage each. You can choose to cast Magic Missile as a level two spell (thus taking up one of your level two spell slots) and do more damage. The spell (and this is how any spell that follows this formula is described) states that at higher level spell slots it does 1 more dart. So you could cast this as a ninth level spell and have 10 bolts that do 1d4+1 damage. Higher level spells can never occupy a lower level spell slot.
This is a cool way to do things and I think will add a bit more versatility to a spellcaster.
All spellcasters can also use cantrips, basically level 0 spells. These have unlimited use and gain in ability as the caster levels. While it seems, to me, that casters have less spells they can cast in a day, the added bonus of cantrips, their versatility, and scaling growth keeps casters in the game even after their spells have run out.
Chapter 11 is the spell descriptions. This is (as with any D&D book- or clone) the bulk of the book, weighing in at a whopping 82 pages. I’m not really going to talk about the spells as I didn’t read all of them, but perused them here and there… There are changes to some spells, some new ones, etc. However any caster will be happy to frolic through this section.
We now move to the Appendixes- the first one is conditions- and funnily enough this is where my favorite art in the book is. They are just simple sketches, but I really enjoy them. The book covers the 14 conditions that are possible in 5e, and most of them are old hat to veteran players, even if in older editions we didn’t refer to them as a “condition.”
Appendix B is the gods of the multiverse. 5e touches on the deities of Greyhawk, Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, and Eberron. Then it goes on to touch on deities of our world (nice touch) including Celtic, Greek, Egyptian, and Norse deities.
Appendix C is the planes of D&D, touches on planar travel and the like.
Appendix D is creature stats- while it’s not a bestiary and more of what a caster can summon, it still gives you a glimpse of how stat blocks work in 5e. For some free enemies go here.
Appendix E is inspirational reading… How sad that they didn’t call this Appendix N… Tsk tsk.
Then there is an index. Huzzah… I HATE books that don’t include an index.
Now I’ll touch on the one thing in the book that really didn’t do anything for me… And that is the art. I’m not saying it’s bad… It’s technically skilled and has a decent aesthetic, but I just feel it is pretty “meh.” I understand that D&D is attempting to be the gateway and attract a large audience (and that is what D&D does best), but the art didn’t conjure any visceral emotions for me. I didn’t get a “holy shit! I want my character to do that shit!” I just feel the art is too save….
Truth be told I’ve become spoiled by the amazing art by the many talented artists active in the indie RPG/OSR area.
I just prefer art that gets my blood boiling with excitement and inspires me to write shit for my players… The art in 5e just doesn’t do that for me…
In Conclusion- From what I have read (I haven’t played it yet), 5e is a solid and great addition to the worlds greatest RPG. I am excited to play this game and run my players through it. It’ll be a good change from the chaos and grit that is constant in their lives (in a good way) with DCC and my Hubris session.
Is this version of D&D in the “heroic” vein that 3e and 4e were…? Yes… but rather than super powers of 4e, it pays homage to the grittier and deadlier days of yore and then moves forward to the heroics, firmly acknowledging both types of play and creating a happy place for all.
I tip my hat to the people at Wizards of the Coast and the consultants that aided in making this a great game and all their hard work. Thank you.
Now I’ll have to have my girlfriend add another panel to this strip she did for me a few years ago.
I just finished reading through the 5e Players Handbook and figured I’d take the time to write a review on this bad boy.
Disclaimer: I was not asked by WotC to write this review- I was not given a monetary reward, beer or even donuts for doing this… I did it because I wanna.
Disclaimer Number Two: I am NOT going to touch on all the fucking nastiness and bullshit that has permeated the net since the release of the D&D Basic rules. If you don’t know about it and want to dive head first into it- go here.. Nuff said.
I guess I should give a little bit of background on myself- I started RPGing in 1995 with 2e and played it for six years before moving to 3.x (and eventually Pathfinder upon its release). I had the 3.x monkey on my back for roughly 9 years before I just got so dissatisfied with the overly-complex rules and started fishing elsewhere.
I immediately turned to the OSR (because I remembered all the fun I had with the original red box campaign my friend had run for me years ago) and started running games using Swords and Wizardry and Lamentations of the Flame Princess (free version, paid version). When I started writing my Hubris setting for publication I fell in love with Dungeon Crawl Classics and have been playing that for nearly a year.
I am not a fan of 4e at all. It’s not my cup of tea. I am not opposed to, or look down on, people who desire and enjoy playing it. There is no badwrongfun when it comes to enjoying a game and having a blast with your chums.
When WotC released the free basic edition (link above), I downloaded it and was actually really impressed with what I read. So it came no surprise to me that I was chomping at the bit for the PHB to be released. I picked it up yesterday and poured through it…
Ok… Enough babble- onto the meat and potatoes
Let’s Get Started, Shall We
I’m not going to spend much time on production value- It’s a WotC book- it’s top notch. Good binding- and page quality, etc.
The Players Handbook weighs in at roughly 316 pages, includes the character sheet, and even a small bestiary (that is a nice touch). Side note: WotC released a supplement for Tyranny of the Dragons for free with some magic items, monsters, and spells.
First off I’ll open with that I really dig the philosophy behind this edition- it clearly borrows things from previous editions (2e, 3e, and 4e) and makes them work. It also borrows from other sources (although I have no proof to solidify this, just my experience on other games)- Savage Worlds and Barbarians of Lemuria- but I’ll touch my briefs on this later.
Chapter 1 is Character Creation and is standard fare- roll 4d6, keep the highest three. Do this six times and then allocate in order you desire.
Chapter 2 is about races. There are nine races in the PHB and several of them have sub-races (very cool). Each race gains several traits such as increased Ability (5e term for Attributes) score, darkvision, proficiency with items, toolkits, armor, etc. (more on this later), and other things. Each of these racial abilities give the race (and the player) a little more nifty in their PC, but not at the cost of really increasing bloat.
The races are dwarf (with hill dwarf and mountain dwarf sub races), elf (with high elf, wood elf, and dark elf sub races), halfling (with lightfoot and stout halfling sub races), human, dragonborn*, gnome* (with Forest gnome and Rock gnome sub races), half-elf*, half-orc*, and tiefling*
*= There is a side bar starting these races are uncommon and not in every D&D setting. While it doesn’t state it- it is implied that one should ask the DM if it is alright to choose one of these races.
While the races are standard fantasy fare, I like what they have done with them (except Dragonb0rn- I’ll be honest… It just makes dragons mundane for me, but that is my own opinion). I like the different abilities and flavor texts (especially for beginning role-players), and I like that sub races create even further variation within a class without HUGE rules bloat.
Chapter 3 is all about classes and there are quite a few of them in the PHB! Twelve classes and, like with races, many have variations or paths that make them more unique and special. This is cool because you could have two very different fighters or rogues based on their chosen path (or profession). I like that they adopted a more kit mentality with the classes (like from 2e) rather than come up with 80 new classes, each one roughly 3 pages long- creating more complex rules (as we saw in 3.x/4e). With this approach you’ll see nods to 3.x prestige classes that have been absorbed into these various paths/professions/etc.
Examples: Eldritch Knight is now a path for fighters; Arcane Trickster and Assassin are rogue paths; and while it is named differently the Shadowdancer prestige class has now been made a Monk “tradition”, the Way of Shadow; Wild Mage is a Sorcerer bloodline. Very cool.
The classes in the PHB are: Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin (there is no anti-paladin, but I can see this being a path in the DMG or released later), Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard.
Each one of these classes has very cool abilities- and more importantly is VERY quick and easy to understand (bonus for new players). I made two characters to see how long the process would take (thinking of the 2.5 hour chargen for Pathfinder for new players) and I had a Fighter made in 25 minutes and a Wizard in 35. That’s not bad for not being fully familiar with the system. I then walked one of my players through chargen and he had a fully functioning Wood Elf Rogue within 30 minutes. Awesome!
At level 1 each class also gains proficiencies with certain skills, weapons and armor, saves, and toolkits (more on proficiencies later), full hit points, and starting gear (this is an awesome feature and REALLY speeds up starting play rather than the dreaded “YOU MUST GO SHOPPING NOW BEFORE YOU PLAY!!” crap. It’s nice to see this- I’ve been doing it for years in my home games and it really does speed up kickstarting your campaign).
Chapter 4 describes a new feature to Dungeons and Dragons- personality and backgrounds (and the optional rule- Inspiration).
Backgrounds are a nifty little thing- first a player chooses one of the following backgrounds: Acolyte, Charlatan, Criminal, Entertainer, Folk Hero (one of my favorites), Guild Artisan, Hermit, Noble, Outlander, Sage, Sailor, Soldier, and Urchin- each one grants a few proficiencies or skill or equipment (or even a role-playing perk, like being able to get the local militia to give you aid- from soldier). Then the player rolls on several tables to generate a personality trait, an ideal, a bond, and a flaw. The rules state that if this doesn’t go with what you had envisioned or if you don’t like it- JUST MAKE IT UP! How novel!
Joking aside I like that WotC has gone this route- this is something stated in the book several times- the rules aren’t the end all and be all of everything… and in the end the DM has final call on all things (and I know that has gotten some of the 3.x/4e ruleslawyers butthairs in a tangle, but hey- that’s the way it should be).
Aside- Hack and Slash has been doing his own awesome Backgrounds- scope em out!
Inspiration is basically like Bennies from Savage Worlds and is completely option- DM’s call. Basically when you do something cool, the DM will give you an Inspiration point. You can burn this later to give you an Advantage on a roll (or cancel a Disadvantage, I suppose). More on Advantage/Disadvantage in Part 2.
I think I’ve prattled on enough for today- tomorrow we will hit the rest of the book- starting with customization like multi-classing and feats!
The Teeth of Mad ‘Ol Philomena- These teeth belonged to the irate and paranoid gypsy, Philomena Renfrew. She was known for her ability to see dark portends of the future and took great glee in expounding them to others. She would cackle and clap the more horrible the vision.
Ironically she was unable to see her own misfortune and died at the hands of an angry mob that had tired of her visions. They gathered around her and slowly removed her nasty, disgusting teeth and then beat her, stabbed her, and then set her corpse on fire. Her teeth were gathered in a bag and dumped in a river.
Eventually the teeth resurfaced, covered in muck and blood. The teeth vibrate with power and whisper of a dark rite that one can undergo to gain her powers. The one wishing to gain the powers of Philomena must remove their own teeth on a dark, rainy night and then shove the teeth of the ‘ol hag into their open mouth wounds. The teeth will painfully take root, giving the person a terrible grin.
The person now gains a bite attack at a +2 (2d3 damage) and 3 times per day can attempt to see a vision of a person or other intelligent creature. The user must succeed on a DC 12 Wisdom check. If they succeed they can claim luck or calamity. If it be luck the target gets to roll two dice and take the higher of the two for any check. If it is calamity, the target must roll two dice and take the lower of the two.