Archive for the ‘5e D&D’ Category

Running a Dragon Chess Tournament

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Last year, I ran a Dragon Chess Tournament in my D&D 5e game, and it was a lot of fun. The event was a huge tournament that attracted people and powerful monsters from across the land to compete for fabulous treasures. I created an abstract system to simulate several days of play in the tournament, culminating in an epic final match. The rules I used are below:

Dragon Chess Tournament

Premise: A Dragon Chess Tournament is being hosted in the Crystal City, an ancient Metropolis of crystal spires whose best days are behind it. Hundreds of challengers have journeyed across the lands to compete for the grand prize, a mysterious and valuable treasure.

What is Dragon Chess?

Structure of Tournament:

  • 500 GP Entry Fee
  • 8 Rounds of Swiss Pairings
  • 1 Point for a Win
  • ½ Point for a Draw
  • Only players with greater than 6 points at the end of 8 rounds proceed to the Top 8 Finals.
  • Top 8 is single elimination (with the top players paired against the bottom players)

Prize Payout:

  • 5+ Points: Roll on Individual Challenge 11-16 (pg 136)
  • 5th-8th Place: Roll on Treasure Hoard Challenge 0-4
  • 3rd and 4th Place: Roll on Treasure Hoard Challenge 5-10
  • 2nd Place: Roll on Treasure Hoard Challenge 11-16
  • 1st Place: Roll on Treasure Hoard Challenge 17+



5e Dungeon Masters Guide: The Paradoxical Economy of D&D

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

10313383_10152396043486071_5167317756165026174_nThe D&D Dungeon Masters Guide is out now, and it’s a very cool resource filled with lots of new rules for treasure, magic items, world building, new downtime activities, and optional rules! Also, my name is in the play-tester credits, so that’s pretty fun :).

Anyway, instead of doing something ridiculous, like review an entire book, I’d like to focus on one specific element I found interesting, the rules for running a business during your downtime!

The idea of running a business and making extra money during downtime is pretty appealing. It’s a great way to engage with the campaign world, a fun “simulationist” way to make money, and it opens up some cool adventure hooks for the DM. For example, maybe some mysterious cloaked figures show up at your Inn, clearly wounded and seeking shelter for the night, OR maybe a group of bumbling first level adventures meet up for the first time, planning a raid on a dragon lair that will surely result in their deaths!

However, running a business is a tricky mechanic to get right. You probably don’t want it to be TOO profitable, or else your PCs will be scratching their heads, wondering why they ever go on adventures. Conversely, if it doesn’t really make you any money, why even bother? Sure, running an Inn sounds cool, but if it’s not profitable, maybe you’re better off spending your character’s time elsewhere.

The folks at Wizards of the Coast gave running a business a decent shot that may work for casual play, but unfortunately it suffers from a few serious flaws when you dig into it:

  • Running a big business is less profitable than running a small business: If you look at the table for running a business, you’ll see that lower results penalize you by forcing you to pay some percentage of your upkeep every day you spent running a business. Your upkeep can range from 5SP a day for a farm to 10GP a day for a trading post. That makes sense. If your business does poorly, you still have to pay your workers and keep your property in shape. What is pretty counter-intuitive, however, is that if you roll higher on the table, you roll a set amount of dice to determine your profit. This profit is in the same range no matter the size of your business. So a small farm makes the same profit as a large inn, but since the large inn has an upkeep that is 20 times larger, you’ll end up making a lot less money overall since it will hurt a lot more when you roll poorly and need to pay that upkeep. (more…)

D&D 5e: The Many Shapes of the Druid

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Druids get right down to business in D&D 5e, gaining Wild Shape as an ability by level 2. Wild Shape is a really awesome ability in this edition with a ton of utility both in combat and in general exploration. Here are a few of the obvious perks:

  • Turn into any beast with of a certain CR or lower. Extremely versatile ability that is useful for blending in, getting into small spaces (think wild shaping into a mouse), and bringing force to bear in combat, among other applications.
  • Unlock ability to gain a fly speed or swim speed at higher levels.
  • Whole new set of hit points while in wild shape. You switch to use the hit points of whatever you transform into. If you take more damage than you have, you transform back at your previous hit points, minus any excess damage you took. So essentially the Druid can take a lot more damage than many of the other classes, which is a little crazy and borderline overpowered.
  • Can wild shape 2 times between short rests! Considering that you can stay in wild shape form for one or more hours, this is pretty generous.

The Circle of the Moon sub-class really exemplifies this feature, gaining a number of abilities that makes their wild shaping stronger, more useful, and quite capable in combat. As they level, they can transform into higher level beasts, heal themselves by expending spell slots as a bonus action, treat their natural weapons as magical, and even transform into Elementals. They also can cast alter self at-will, but that’s kind of its own thing.

As combat is a bit easier to analyze than all the crazy stuff you can do with wild shape outside of combat, I thought it could be fun to take a look at some of the obvious choices for wild shaping throughout the levels. I’m focusing on the Circle of the Moon’s options since they are the obvious choice if you want to really take advantage of this feature:


D&D 5e 10th Level Bard Hack

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

I’m a big fan of the Bard in D&D 5e. Recently, while playing around with different builds, I discovered a pretty silly hack to make them a very powerful (arguably overpowered) choice for ranged combat by level 10. If you already know about Bards, feel free to scroll past my general overview to see how it works.

However, for those who don’t have the new PHB yet, here’s a short list of some of the nice perks the Bard gets to give you a little background:

  • Full caster class: Bards get the same number of spells as Clerics and Wizards. This is nice because it gives them a core competency to build off of, something they lacked in 3.5 and previous editions, where the bard was okay at everything but not particularly good at anything.
  • Inspiration: In place of bard songs that all do wacky things and have always felt a little awkward to actually use, bards have inspiration dice. They can pass these to allies, who can use them to add the die as a bonus to attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws. Sub classes allow them to be used in other ways, such as reducing an enemies attack roll, adding to AC, or adding to a damage roll.
  • Jack of all Trades: Super fun ability that gives bards half their proficiency bonus to skills they aren’t proficient in. It’s a great thematic ability, and it encourages Bard players to try things outside their character’s normal areas of expertise.
  • Song of Rest: Grants extra healing when the Bard or allies regain hit points during a short rest.
  • Good Melee/Ranged Subclass: Bards get to choose from two options for subclasses. The College of Lore emphasizes the “jack of all trades” aspect of the bard, granting extra skills and extra cross class spells, along with some other very solid perks. However, I am more attracted to the College of Valor, which legitimately makes the Bard a solid melee or ranged combatant, granting proficiency with martial weapons, medium armor, and shields, along with a bonus attack at level 6 and a nice perk at 14 to allow casting a spell and making an attack as a bonus action. So this means by level 6, the Bard is basically on par (or close enough) with all the other melee/ranged classes, such as the Barbarian, Fighter, Ranger, Paladin, and Rogue.
  • Magical Secrets: The bard spell list is pretty focused. It has a lot of stuff you might expect from a bard: charms and enchantments, some utility spells, and good options for travel, along with a healthy mix of “fun” spells you’ll certainly enjoy playing around with. It also sports healing spells, which are always going to be useful. However, at 10th level and again at 14 and 18, you get to choose two spells from ANY class to round out your list a bit. The only requirement is that the spell level is one you can cast. This is very cool. For example, you could pick up fireball (which can be cast at higher spell levels for more damage) to add a nice AOE spell to your list, since Bards don’t normally have any.

The “Hack” Explained