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July 2017

Skill Check

The past few hours I was tinkering with ideas about skills checks, and a thought occurred to me.  If you leaf through most modules there are always instances where the GM will be told to ask players for a specific type of skill check, or a range of skills. There’s nothing wrong with a GM having an idea for a certain type of situation to call on a select range of skills, but it may deprive players of a chance to flex their roleplaying muscles. The example I thought up while I was wasting time at work today uses Dungeons & Dragons 5e, but the principle applies to any rpg with a skill system.

Imagine your players have entered a local pub looking for information, now let’s also pretend that this didn’t devolve into a ballroom brawl ( a certain monk and warlock I know could probably learn something from this come to think of it.) One of the patrons, a minotaur sailor known to have dealings with the black market, overhears them chatting up the crowd and takes an interest.

Maybe he’s been soured on smugglers after years of being cheated? Or perhaps he’s hoping to send some trouble towards his competitors? Whatever his reasoning he’s not inclined to impart information to anyone who he doesn’t trust. Stomping his way through the pub he proposes a challenge to test their mettle, in this case a pepper eating contest.

Now some GM’s would probably ask for a Constitution saving throw, but there’s plenty of opportunity for creative players to find a way to win out this encounter. A saving throw might favor the broad shouldered goliath barbarian, but the other members of the party could have a great deal more difficulty measuring up. Now there’s something be said for a comical failure and they certainly provide opportunity for roleplay, but let’s examine a few other possibilites.

The halfling bard might manage to deceive the minotaur, pretending that to him the pepper is no hotter than piece of bread. A dragonborn wizard skilled at sleight of hand might tuck the offending pepper into his sleeve. The elf druid might fallback on her knowledge of herb lore and attempt to make a nature check to see what she has on hand that might counter the burning sensation of the peppers.

Give your players an chance to get creative an approach the problem from a different angle. Now a GM also has to know when to say no, but saying yes present much more exciting results for the table more often than not.

 

 

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Castlevania Part 1

After watching the new Castlevania series on Netflix  couldn’t help thinking it would make a great setting for a very dark Dungeons and Dragons campaign with some cool steampunk elements. I’m actually working on a short module that takes players through a brief adventure in that world. However creatures from that setting can be folded into almost any D&D game with a little imagination.

For folks who have yet to see the show please stop reading now if you care about spoilers.

I’d also like to let everyone know in advance I am not a longtime fan of Castlevania, I’ve been aware of the franchise for many years but I never played any of the games. If I get any of the terminology wrong please forgive me.

Also Castlevania is the property of Konami and the Netflix series is the property of Netflix, I claim no ownership of either. All of the art pictured here is from the Netflix series and belongs to their artists, it is also pretty great and definitely helps make the show worth your time. So without further ado…

goblins

I’ve seen these things called imps and goblins, to me they look like Red Court vampires from The Dresden Files. At any rate they seem to make up the bulk of Dracula’s demonic army.

Goblins

Medium fiend, chaotic evil

Armor Class 13 (natural armor)

Hit Points 18

Speed 60 ft., climb 20 ft, flight 40 ft.

Str 10 (+0) Dex 16 (+3) Con 12 (+1) Int 8 (-1) Wis 10 (+0) Cha 8 (-1)

Skills Perception +2, Stealth +5

Damage Vulnerabilities Cold, radiant

Damage Immunities Fire

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10

Languages  Abyssal, Common

Challenge 1

Actions

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6+3) slashing damage.

Infernal Blast. Range Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, 60/100 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (1d8+6) fire damage. Creatures within 30 ft. of the target must make a DC 14 Dexterity Saving throw, on a failed saving throw they take half as much damage as the hit target, on a successful saving throw they take no damage. All objects in the radius of the attack that are not being held burst into flames.

Shock troops for Dracula these summoned monsters serve as the foot soldiers in his army. They are capable warriors able to spread violence throughout cities and the surrounding countryside with ease.

Please note, Infernal Blast is meant to be a powerful attack capable of dealing huge damage. It can kill or seriously injure an entire low-level party if they aren’t careful as well as setting fire to everything in the immediate area. I designed it that way because we see these things peppering cities with these blasts and setting them ablaze in minutes. You may want to warn the party by having one of these things fire off a round at NPCs or buildings before opening fire on your players.

cyclops.png

I love seeing a cyclops used as a monster, and this one is a bit like a beholder crossed with a cyclops. Easily the best monster in the Netflix series so far in my opinion.

Stone-Eye Cyclops

Huge fiend, lawful evil

Armor Class 16 (natural armor)

Hit Points 82

Speed 20 ft.

Str 18 (+4) Dex 12 (+1) Con 16 (+3) Int 10 (+0) Wis 10 (+0) Cha 8 (-1)

Skills Perception +5

Condition Immunities Petrified

Damage Vulnerabilities Radiant

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12

Languages  Abyssal, Common

Challenge 5

Feast on Terror. The Stone-Eye Cyclops feeds on the terror of those it has turned to stone, it regains 1d4 hit points each turn for each living victim it has turned to stone. It also adds +1 to any roll it makes for each living victim it has petrified.

Thundering Footsteps. Creatures and objects within 5 ft. of the Stone-Eye Cyclops when it moves take 1d4 bludgeoning damage.

Actions

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d8+6) bludgeoning damage.

Eye Ray. Range Weapon Attack: +0 to hit, 30/60 ft., one target. The target must succeed on a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed saving throw, the creatures turns to stone and is petrified.  Petrified creatures can only be returned to normal by killing the Stone-Eye cyclops that turned them to stone.

Powerful guardians that can be utilized to protect valuables or locations from unwanted visitors these towering behemoths are terrors to all. Although they’re more than capable or tearing treasure hunters limb from limb whenever the mood strikes them, they usually prefer turning intruders to stone so that they can feed off of their fear. The lair of a Stone-Eye Cyclops is almost always marked by the petrified bodies of their victims.

As I said this thing is like a cyclops and a beholder crossbreed, which amazing and horrifying all at once. The eye ray requires the cyclops to hit the opponents AC and then the players gets to make a dex save to avoid being petrified. This is, again, a savage attack that can take a player out of the action in one stroke. The cyclops shouldn’t be able to sneak up on a party so they’ll have some warning of what is coming. I went this direction because unlike the beholder who slowly turns victims to stone I wanted to give a more cinematic feel to the cyclops.  A huge beam engulfs your wizard and they’re just gone in an instant.

Anyway I hope someone out there finds these amusing if nothing else, thanks for reading.

Episode 97: Adventures in Middle-Earth Character Creation

Before diving back into the adventure I wante to share our character creation sesssion for Adventures in Middle-Earth.

http://outofcharacter.buzzsprout.com/13127/531985-episode-97-adventures-in-middle-earth-character-creation

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