Archive for November, 2017

The Apoapọju

The steaming jungles of equatorial wildernesses teem with myriad forms of life, most mundane, some bizarre, and few more bizarre that the grotesque apoapọju. This large, slow-moving insectile horror has a swollen, transparent abdomen in which wriggle dozens of toxic larvae.

Apoapọju
Large monstrosity, unaligned

Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 102 (12d10+36)
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft.
Ability Scores STR 14 (+2), DEX 10 (+0), CON 17 (+3), INT 3 (-4), WIS 10 (+0), CHA 6 (-2)
Skills Perception +3, Stealth +6
Saving Throws CON +6
Senses tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)

Actions

* Multiattack: The apoapọju makes two attacks with its disgorge larva attack.

* Bite: Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d8+2) piercing damage.

* Disgorge Larva (Recharge 5-6): Ranged Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 30/120 ft., one or two targets. Hit: 2d6 (7) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution save against poison or become Paralyzed for 10 minutes. The target can repeat the saving throw every minute, ending the effect on itself on a success. Disgorged larvae quickly die.

November 24th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

It Takes All Kinds of Critters…

…to make Farmer Vincent Fritters!

In the salubrious spirit of Thanksgiving feasting and fun, the family-owned businesses of Farmer Vincent Fritters and Motel Hello welcome your investigators to their table.

Your Hosts

Motel Hello and its famous Farmer Vincent Fritters are family-owned and operated by the Smiths for decades.

Farmer Vincent
Tall and elderly but still handsome with a warm smile and a welcoming demeanor, Vincent is the patriarch of the family.

Hit Dice: 3 (2d4 damage)
Notes: Vincent is an extremely high-functioning psychopath. He is a clever hunter and has a real talent for mechnical engineering. Saves to detect his lies and evade his traps are made with Disadvantage. He is proficient with a shotgun and a carving knife, but its with a chainsaw that he shows real skill. Strength Saves to avoid Vincent’s chainsaw attacks are also made with Disadvantage.

Ida, His Sister
Heavy set and childish even in her 30s, her facade of normalcy quickly becomes strained when frustrated or threatened.

Hit Dice: 2 (1d6 damage)
Notes: Ida is Vincent’s right hand. She has difficulty presenting herself as a normal, functioning adult, but as long as she’s under Vincent’s influence, she’s unlikely to be pegged as anything other than socially awkward. Despite her weight and clumsy appearance, Ida is remarkably stealthy. Saves to notice her when she’s being sneaky are made with Disadvantage. Ida is a competent nurse and can perform even simple surgery.

Bruce, His Brother
Tall with the physique of faded high school athlete, his sheriff’s uniform is always neatly pressed and his boots spit-shined.

Hit Dice: 2 (1d6 damage)
Notes: Bruce is the youngest of the siblings, and he is the least insane of the trio. This doesn’t mean he isn’t dangerous. He’s not only a cannibal, but he’s also a duly-elected county sheriff, popular with and generally respected by his constituents.

Places to See

The Motel: Set a few miles off the nearest highway, Motel Hello presents a rustic, homey charm to patrons. The rooms are clean and neat, and prices are reasonable. The motel is set on several acres of rural countryside that includes copses of trees, hiking paths, a man-made pond, picnic areas, and a small farm where Vincent grows alfalfa.

The Pens: Vincent keeps hogs and chickens. Free bags of feed for children staying at the motel are available in the lobby.

The Smokehouse: This building is kept locked to keep visitors from discovering the secret ingredient in Farmer Vincent Fritters. A small but well-appointed slaughterhouse is adjacent to the smokehouse. There’s also a large walk-in freezer.

The Pond: Of modest size, visitors are welcome to take out a small rowboat or bob about in an inner tube, enjoying the cool water on those hot days. There are picnic areas near the pond as well.

The Garden: Hidden within a copse of trees, surrounded by a camouflaged fence that is kept locked, Vincent “grows” his most secret ingredient here. He and Ida “plant” people after surgically disabling their vocal chords. Buried up to their necks, Vincent feeds this “crop” a nourishing mix of special ingredients through funnels attached to snorkels. Vincent’s victims are usually travelers captured on the nearby highway with the help of one of Vincent’s clever traps.

The Traps: Vincent loves to come up with clever traps to get drivers to pull over so that he can capture them. He and Ida use a potent knock-out gas carried in thermos-sized canister with an attached anesthesia mask to knock out their victims. The gas works rapidly to render a victim unconscious. Constitution Saves to avoid unconsciousness after breathing the gas are made with Disadvantage.

November 23rd, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

The Oruka

My entry for James Holloway’s first Monster Man contest.

Oruka

Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 5-20
Armor Class: 6
Move: 12″/15″
Hit Dice: 3+3
% in Lair: Nil
Treasure Type: Nil
No. of Attacks: 1
Damage/Attack: 1-6
Special Attacks: Slice
Special Defenses: Two-dimensional
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Semi-
Alignment: Neutral
Size: S (1′ diameter)
Psionic Ability: Nil
Attack/Defens Modes: Nil
Level/XP Value: IV/110+4/hp

Oruka are strange, ring-shaped creatures with dim intelligence that are native to the Astral Plane, but partially exist on the Prime Material Plane at the same time. Their senses extend into both planes simultaneously. They move by rolling or by flying. On the Astral Plane, oruka are maneuverability class A, but on the Prime Material Plane they are much clumsier (maneuverability class E).

Oruka have height and width but no depth. They can make a sideways turn and become invisible, detectable only via true seeing or similar means. In this state, oruka can move (but not attack), passing through the thinnest of spaces as long as the space is wide enough to admit the oruka’s diameter. With another sideways turn, an oruka becomes visible again, and these creatures can make one sideways turn per melee round. When an oruka is turned and invisible, it cannot be affected by any attack that does not also reach into the oruka’s other plane of existence. When visible, oruka suffer triple damage from piercing and slashing weapons.

Oruka attack by slicing through their targets, which are treated as AC 10. Dexterity and magical bonuses modify the target’s AC, but armor itself provides no protection.

Oruka travel in flocks that move about in elliptical paths, searching for food on the Prime Material Plane. These monsters seem to be carnivorous given their aggressive behavior, but exactly how they feed is not clear. Scholars theorize that oruka somehow absorb blood from prey that they slice.

November 21st, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Dwarf as Class for 5E

Way back when, in the Golden Age of the World’s Greatest Roleplaying Game, a dwarf was not just a race option for players. Dwarf was also a character class. It was a race-as-class. Someone else has undoubtedly already done this, but here’s my version of the Dwarf character class for 5E.

Dwarf Class Features

As a dwarf, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: d10 per dwarf level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your Constitution modifier per dwarf level after 1st

Proficiencies

Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, battleaxe, handaxe, light hammer, and warhammer
Tools: Choose one artisan’s tools from smith’s tools, brewer’s supplies, or mason’s tools

Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Skills: Choose two skills from Animal Handling, Athletics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, or Survival.

Equipment

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

* (a) chain shirt or (b) studded leather armor, light crossbow, and 20 crossbow bolts
* (a) battle axe, handaxe, light hammer, or warhammer and a shield or (b) one simple melee weapon and one artisan’s tools
* (a) a dungeoneer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack

Dwarven Nature

You have an assortment of inborn abilities.

Ability Score Increase

Your Constitution score increases by 2.

Age

Dwarves mature at the same rate as humans, but they’re considered young until they reach the age of 50. On average, they live about 350 years.

Alignment

Most dwarves are lawful, believing firmly in the benefits of a well-ordered society. They tend toward good as well, with a strong sense of fair play and a belief that everyone deserves to share in the benefits of a just order.

Size

Dwarves stand between 4 and 5 feet tall and average about 150 pounds. Your size is Medium.

Speed

Your base walking speed is 25 feet. Your speed is not reduced by wearing heavy armor.

Darkvision

Accustomed to life underground, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Dwarven Resilience

You have advantage on saving throws against poison, and you have resistance against poison damage. At 9th level, you can reroll a saving throw you fail against magic. You must use the new roll, and you can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.

You can use this latter feature twice between long rests at 13th level and three times between long rests starting at 17th level.

Stonecunning

Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to the origin of stonework, you are considered proficient in the History skill, and add double your proficiency bonus to the check instead of your normal proficiency bonus.

Languages

You can speak, read, and write Common and Dwarvish. Dwarvish is full of hard consonants and guttural sounds, and those characteristics spill over into whatever other language a dwarf might speak.

Dwarven Variety

You belong to one of the several dwarven subraces. Choose a subrace. Hill dwarf and mountain dwarf are detailed in the Player’s Handbook. Other subraces are detailed below.

Deep Dwarf

Deep dwarves live far under the earth, seldom having contact with races who live in the light of day.

Ability Score Increase: Your Dexterity score increases by 1.

Improved Darkvision: You can see in dim light within 90 feet of you as it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Gray Dwarf

Also called duergar, these dwarves also live deep beneath the earth, driven their eons ago for worshipping evil gods.

Ability Score Increase: Your Intelligence score increases by 1.

Gray Dwarf Magic: You can cast enlarge (but not reduce and invisibility on yourself only, doing so once each with this ability. You regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.

Gray Dwarf Stealth: You have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks when you are alone or accompanied by no one other than gray dwarves.

Sunlight Sensivity: You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

Superior Darkvision: You can see in dim light within 120 feet of you as it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Fighting Style

You adopt a particular fighting style as your specialty. Choose one of the following options. You can’t take a Fighting Style option more than once even if you later get to choose again.

Crossbow

You gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls you make with crossbows, and you ignore the loading properties of crossbows with which you are proficient.

Giant Fighter

When you are fighting a Large or larger creature, you gain a +1 bonus to AC and melee attack rolls.

Great Weapon Fighting

When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit.

Protection

When a creature you can see attacks a target other than you that is within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll. You must be wielding a shield.

Ancient Foe

You have significant experience studying, tracking, hunting, and even talking to giants, goblins, half-orcs, hobgoblins, or orcs. Choose one of these creatures. You have advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to track them, as well as on Intelligence checks to recall information about them. You learn one language of your choice that is spoken by this ancient enemy. At 6th and 14th levels, you choose another ancient enemy from the list and learn its language as well.

Foe Slayer

Starting at 2nd level, you can push yourself beyond your normal limits for a moment when fighting your ancient foe. On your turn, you can take one additional action on top of your regular action and a possible bonus action.

Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again. Starting at 17th level, you can use it twice before a rest, but only once on the same turn.

Dwarven Archetype

At 3rd level, you choose an archetype that you strive to emulate in your life as a dwarf. The archetype you choose grants you features at 3rd level and again at 6th, 10th, and 14th level.

Ability Score Improvement

When you reach 4th level, and again at 6th, 8th, 12th, 14th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Extra Attack

Beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

Dwarven Archetypes

Dwarves manifest their fuller dwarven natures in different ways. The dwarven archetype you choose reflects the way your dwarf shows his fuller dwarven nature.

Battlerager

Battleragers are the most feared of dwarven warriors. In battle, the characteristic dwarven demeanor of calm, cool action crumbles, and the battlerager foams at the mouth, he screams imprecations, and even his body changes, growing in size and strength and speed. In the deepest of battlerages, the dwarf taps into the boundless fury of the dwarven god of war himself.

Battlerage

At 3rd level, when in battle, you surrender to the rage that burns in your heart. On your turn, you enter battlerage as a bonus action. Your rage lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are knocked unconscious or if you neither attacked a hostile creature since your last turn or have taken damage since your last turn. You can also end your rage as a bonus action. While raging, you gain the following benefits:

* You have advantage on Dexterity checks and Dexterity saving throws.

* You gain temporary hit points equal to 1d10 + one-half your dwarf level.

* When you make a melee weapon attack using Strength, you add one-half your proficiency bonus to the damage roll. Against your ancient foes, you add your full proficiency bonus to the damage roll.

If you are able to cast spells, you can’t cast them or concentrate on them while battleraging. Once you have raged a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, you must finish a long rest before you can rage again.

Unstoppable

Beginning at 6th level when you battlerage, you have advantage on saving throws against spells. You also have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

War Frenzy

Beginning at 10th level when you battlerage, you can use a bonus action to tap deeper into your wellspring of rage. This counts as an additional use of your battlerage feature. Your muscles swell with unnatural power. Any of your ancient foes within 30 feet of you that see you must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw (DC equal to 8 + your proficieny bonus + your Charisma modifier) or be frightened until the end of your next turn. For the duration of your battlerage, your melee weapon attacks deal 1d4 extra damage, and you have advantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws.

War God’s Fury

Beginning at 14th level when you battlerage, your rage becomes a channel for the divine rage of the dwarven war god. You have four superiority dice, which are d8s. A superiority die is expended when you use it. You regain all of your superiority dice when you finish a long rest. Choose three maneuvers from the following list, which you can use when you battlerage: Evasive Footwork, Goading Attack, Lunging Attack, Menacing Attack (Wisdom saving throw DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength modifier), Pushing Attack, or Sweeping Attack.

Craft Priest

Dwarves excel at crafting. They are master artisans, and perfecting their arts plays a vital role in dwarven society. Craft priests represent the highest expression of dwarven craftsmanship.

Practice, Practice, Practice

At 3rd level, you gain proficiency in any combination of three Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma skills or tools of your choice. If you choose the artisan tools that you chose as one of your starting proficiencies, you become a master in that craft. You roll with advantage with any ability checks you make using the tools of your mastercraft. For every day of downtime you spend crafting with any of your proficiencies, you can craft one or more times with a total market value not exceeding 10 gp (or 15 gp with a mastercraft). You must expend raw materials worth half the total market value (or one-third the total market value with a mastercraft). If you want to craft something that has a market value greater than 10 gp (15 gp with a mastercraft), you make progress every in day in 10- or 15-gp increments until you reach the item’s market value. While crafting, you can maintain a comfortable lifestyle without having to pay 2 gp per day, or a wealthy lifestyle at half normal cost.

Spellcasting

Starting with 6th level, you can cast a number of cleric spells.

Cantrips: You learn three cantrips of your choice from the cleric spell list. You learn additional cleric cantrips of your choice at higher levels, as shown in the Cantrips Column of the Craft Priest table.

Preparing and Casting Spells: You prepare and cast spells as a cleric. When you choose your cleric spells that are available to cast, choose a number of cleric spells equal to your Wisdom modifier + five less than your dwarf level.

Spellcasting Ability: Just like a cleric, Wisdom is your spellcasting ability. Your spell save DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier. Your spell attack modifier equals your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier.

Spellcasting Focus: You can use a holy symbol or artisan tools for which your are proficient as your spellcasting focus.

Magic Craftsmanship

Starting at 10th level, you can cast identify a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (a minimum of once). You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest. At 12th level, you always have fabricate prepared as one of your 4th-level spells, and it doesn’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day. At 14th level, you can always have creation prepared as one your 5th-level spells, and it doesn’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day.

November 19th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »

Likes, Dislikes, and Craziness

So, my son Christopher is going to, for the first time, take the reins as DM for our twice-monthly Saturday game. He wants to run 5E. If he’d have said this a few months ago, I’d have probably balked, but entirely out of ignorance and a general distate for trying new things that aren’t edible or alcoholic.

In more recent months, however, I’ve had a chance to play 5E, first in Austin at Tribe Comics & Games. (More about this here.) My assessment of 5E after that one game was, “It’s not going to make me rush out and buy 5E books or find a local 5E game to play in. Not really my cup of tea any more.” True to my word, I did not rush out buy any 5E books. I did buy the Player’s Handbook shortly before my second foray into 5E.

Since then, I’ve played 5E a bit more, most recently at the Lone Star Game Expo up near Dallas. My appreciation for 5E has grown. I’m still not really sold on the organized play aspect of 5E, largely for the same reasons that I stopped bothering with Living City and RPGA before they both went belly up. Perhaps I’ll write about those reasons later.

As I just said, my appreciation for 5E has grown, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things that I’d like better if they were done differently.

“Like what?” you ask.

Fair enough. How about this? 5E is a step back toward the old school, but it’s not a big enough step in some ways. I still don’t like the one-XP-table for all classes that was introduced with the d20 System. A thief, or rogue, should not require the same XP to advance in levels as does a magic-user, meaning a wizard.

I’m also not a super fan of d20 System multi-classing, where a magic-user/thief would pick which class to advance in each time he earned enough XP to go up a level. I like XP being divided evenly between the classes.

That said, there is one thing I do like about 5E XP advancement, and that is the idea that levels 1 and 2 are sort of like apprentice levels. It takes 300 XP to reach 2nd level, 900 to reach 3rd, and then a big jump to 2,700 XP to reach 4th.

What happens when I drive about 50 miles each day getting to and from work is I have time to think, or more accurately, time to let my mind wander. During one of my mental meanderings, I mused about combining 1E style level advancement (including multi-classing) with 5E. Let’s compare what the rogue and wizard would like using my crazy idea.

Notice that I kept the apprentice levels. Like I said, I like that idea. Then, for 3rd-level XP, I took the maximum XP for 1st-level from 1E, and added that value to 900. Thus, a 1E thief is 1st-level until he 1,250 XP, so 1,250 + 900 = 2,150 XP to reach 4th level. After that, I sort of followed the XP patter from 1E by doubling the previous level. I know the ratios don’t follow this pattern all the way up, but I didn’t feel like doing that much math today. Using this chart, a rogue advances in levels more quickly than a wizard, which I like (and, no, I don’t really care about balancing the classes so that their equal at every level because (A) that’s impossible and (B) that’s not old school).

Now imagine, if you will, an elf rogue/wizard. At 1st level, he’d have the abilities of both classes because he’d be an elf rogue 1/wizard 1. He’d roll HD and average the results to find hit points, be able to use rogue armor and weapons, cast spells, et cetera. He joins an adventuring group. 500 XP later, his single-classed comrades are comfortably 2nd level, but he’s still a rogue 1/wizard 1 because he has to split his XP evenly between his two classes. When he’s earned 5,000 XP in total, he’s a rogue 4/wizard 3 since each class has 2,500 XP applied to it. A single-classed wizard would be 4th-level, and a single-classed rogue would be 5th-level.

Crazy? Probably, but it’s a craziness that I liked in 1E.

November 16th, 2017  in RPG No Comments »