A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons
September 21, 2014Posted by on
As a DM, should you allow your players to multiclass?
To Multiclass, or not to Multiclass, that is the question -
Whether ’tis Nobler in the game to suffer
The Outrageous Limitations imposed by a single class,
Or to take on a Second – perhaps a Third or more -
And by so doing, overcome them?
(My apologies to the Bard of Avon.)
My knee-jerk reaction is to not allow characters to multiclass. When I developed my D&D Lite rules, I had to disallow multiclass characters. This was the only way that I could simplify the rules and still use 90% of the standard D&D rules for the 3.5 edition. However, with the fifth edition most of my objections have been addressed.
Objections to Multiclassing
1) It is too complicated.
This was my primary objection to multiclassing in the previous editions of the game. They have done an excellent job simplifying the muticlassing rules in 5e. And besides, if a player wants to multiclass it does nothing to complicate the game for anyone but him, and possibly the DM.
2) It encourages “munchkinism”.
There are players that will use “level-dipping” to grab some features from a class so they can min/max their character. This is the main objection that many Dungeon Masters have with multiclassing. 5e makes this a much less attractive option for players that only see it as a way to create the ultimate PC. You can create almost any character you can think of without the need to multiclass.
I think that I will allow it.
After much thought, I have decided to allow muticlassing in my games. I will discourage its use, but if a player has a character concept in mind that needs muticlassing I will allow it. The only requirement will be that the player must explain, in terms of what is happening in the game, why his character wants to advance in this different class and how his character is getting the initial training or what event has propelled him in this direction. (See the small sidebar in the Player’s Handbook as a good example.)
I will strictly enforce all of the multiclass rules.
You must meet the minimum ability requirements, not only for your new class, but also for any of your current classes.
You only get the proficiencies listed in the multiclass rules for the new class you take. These are severely limited. For instance, you don’t get any ability save proficiencies and you can’t get proficiency in heavy armor.
You don’t get any free equipment. You will have to find, be given, or purchase your spellbook if you want to lake a level of wizard.
If you have levels in more than one class of spellcaster, you must keep track of your spells for each different class separately. The rules are clear as to how many spell slots you get based on your various spell caster levels.
Some other options
If you don’t want to forbid multiclassing, but want to have some reasonable restrictions, here are some suggestions:
1) Require a PC to advance 3 levels in any class they have before multiclassing. This is not unreasonable, and makes for less “level-dipping”. Most of the best features of each class don’t occur until 3rd level anyway.
2) Have some classes only be available at first level. You can only have levels as a Barbarian or Sorcerer, for example, if your background indicates that you have always had this in you. This could also apply to a Druid. You could also restrict Monk, Warlock and even Wizard to this list. The Wizards cantrips are always available because he has been casting these spells for so long they are second-nature to him now, so how could a Fighter simply start being a Wizard with cantrips and all the rest?
3) Don’t allow certain combinations. Some classes are polar opposites of each other. These would include Barbarian/Monk, Sorcerer/Wizard, Cleric/Warlock, and Paladin/Rogue.
August 30, 2014Posted by on
This is my attempt to explain the term “bounded accuracy”.
Bounded accuracy is the term that TSR uses to represent a role playing game design concept. It is not a “rule” and you won’t find it in the Player’s Handbook, but it is the foundational design philosophy behind the core of 5 Edition D&D.
The “accuracy” part of the term refers to how hard it is to do something. For combat, this relates directly to armor class and bonuses to your attack roll.
The “bounded” part of the term refers to establishing upper limits.
What are the limits?
There is a maximum Ability Score of 20, a maximum Difficulty Class of 30, and a maximum Armor Class of 30. There is a maximum Ability bonus of +4 and a maximum Proficiency Bonus of +6 making a maximum total bonus of +11 (resulting in a maximum score of 30 on a roll of 19.)
Also, there is typically no more than +1 on magic items, with +3 being the cap and representing things of artifact power. The game makes no assumption that you have magical enhancement bonuses on your weapons and armor.
This is all about the Core Mechanic: To resolve an action roll a 20-sided die and add modifiers. If the result is greater than or equal to a target number then the action succeeds.
Regardless if this target number is a Difficulty Class (DC) or an Armor Class (AC), the concept is the same.
|DC-or-AC||Difficulty||To Break||Armor||To Hit|
|5||Very Easy||a glass bottle||an inanimate object|
|10||Easy||a wooden chair||No Armor||a badger|
|15||Medium||a simple door||Leather Armor*||a troll|
|20||Hard||a small chest||Plate Armor**||a dragon***|
|25||Very Hard||a treasure chest||a tarrasque|
|30||Nearly Impossible||a masonry wall(1 ft. thick)||a deity|
|*with shield and +2 Dex modifier **with shield ***Adult Red Dragon is AC 19|
To explain the effects of bounded accuracy on the game, it can be illustrative to compare its effect on three different characters.
Let’s start with a typical commoner. We’ll call him Fred. Fred is average in every respect. All of his ability scores are average (10) and Fred has no proficiencies or special skills. The table above was designed with Fred in mind. If any task is hard for Fred, it has a DC of 20. Fred adds no modifiers to his d20 roll when he attempts a task.
Our second character is Norman. Norman is a first level Fighter. The highest modifier Norman could add to his d20 roll would be about +5 (Ability +3, Proficiency +2).
Our third character is Conan. Conan is a 20th level Fighter. The highest modifier Conan could add to his d20 roll would be about +11 (Ability +5, Proficiency +6).
All three characters attempt to do something “hard”. They all need a 20. Fred rolls a 20 and succeeds. Norman’s roll is only 15, but with his +5 modifier he also succeeds. Conan only rolls a 9, but with his +11 modifier, he succeeds. So this “hard” thing is hard for Fred, not so hard for Norman and it is easy for Conan. Being normal PCs, Norman and Conan are better at some things than they are at others. They do not have maximum ability scores in all of their abilities, and they are not proficient at everything. At some tasks, they may not have a better chance of success than Fred does. Conversely, not all Non-Player Characters (NPCs) are as “average” as Fred. At some tasks, a NPC may have an ability score that is higher than a PC and a larger proficiency bonus. So most tasks within reach of specialist also fall within the ability of a lucky novice.
Higher level characters and tougher monsters are that way because they can do more damage, more often, in more ways than lower level characters.
If you are new to D&D, this may all seem obvious, and hardly worth more than a passing glance. However, this is a break from some earlier versions of the game. In some earlier versions, your PC’s “to hit” bonuses and Armor Class increased with each level and thus forced monster attacks/defenses to also increase with level. This resulted in lower level creatures being unable to have any possibility of hitting higher level PCs and visa-versa. This was done in the very reasonable goal of allowing higher level PCs to combat tougher monsters. D&D 5e accomplishes this goal, not by making tougher monsters harder to hit but by making them harder to defeat by giving them more hit points. So as PCs increase in level they do improve in their ability to hit higher armor classes (although at a much slower rate) but their ability to defeat tougher opponents comes mainly from their increased ability to inflict more damage when they do hit, and their increased capacity to survive stronger attacks due to their own increased number of hit points. So in this edition, characters can meaningfully interact with the same threats for most of their career, if they so choose. Lower level monsters will still be a threat at higher levels if they are encountered in larger numbers.This was described by Rodney Thompson in Legends & Lore (June 4th, 2012) on the Wizards of the Coast website. This is no longer available on their web site, so I quote from it here:
The basic premise behind the bounded accuracy system is simple: we make no assumptions on the DM’s side of the game that the player’s attack and spell accuracy, or their defenses, increase as a result of gaining levels. Instead, we represent the difference in characters of various levels primarily through their hit points, the amount of damage they deal, and the various new abilities they have gained. Characters can fight tougher monsters not because they can finally hit them, but because their damage is sufficient to take a significant chunk out of the monster’s hit points; likewise, the character can now stand up to a few hits from that monster without being killed easily, thanks to the character’s increased hit points. Furthermore, gaining levels grants the characters new capabilities, which go much farther toward making your character feel different than simple numerical increases.
Now, note that I said that we make no assumptions on the DM’s side of the game about increased accuracy and defenses. This does not mean that the players do not gain bonuses to accuracy and defenses. It does mean, however, that we do not need to make sure that characters advance on a set schedule, and we can let each class advance at its own appropriate pace. Thus, wizards don’t have to gain a +10 bonus to weapon attack rolls just for reaching a higher level in order to keep participating; if wizards never gain an accuracy bonus, they can still contribute just fine to the ongoing play experience.
This extends beyond simple attacks and damage. We also make the same assumptions about character ability modifiers and skill bonuses. Thus, our expected DCs do not scale automatically with level, and instead a DC is left to represent the fixed value of the difficulty of some task, not the difficulty of the task relative to level.
The link is back up on the Wizard’s site if you want to read Rodney Thompson’s comments in their entirety : Legends & Lore Archive | 6/4/2012
August 20, 2014Posted by on
Optional House Rules for D&D 5e
A couple of years ago I published chase rules for D&D v3.5. You can download them here.
With the release of the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons, those rules seem rather heavy. You can still use them if your campaign will have a lot of chases. However, in keeping with the slimmed down rules of 5e, I am proposing a simple house rule for chases. The description below is in terms of a PC character chasing a fleeing foe. Keep in mind that the same rules apply when the PC is the one fleeing.
What if your opponent tries to run away?
Most of the time the standard rules for combat work just fine. A chase may occur when one or more opponent turns and runs away. In game terms, he uses the Dash action to spend his entire turn moving away from combat as quickly as possible. If he starts his turn within 5 feet of you, or passes within 5 feet of you, you can use your Reaction to make an opportunity attack.
What if you want to chase him?
It all depends on how far away you are from him at the beginning of your turn. Compare this distance to your characters speed. There are three possible results.
1) You can use your Move to get within 5 feet of him.
- You can attack him and combat continues.
2) You can catch up to him by using your Dash action.[If you have enough speed to pass him you may do that, but if you come within 5 feet of him as you pass, he gets to use his Reaction to make an opportunity attack against you, so you will typically want to stop when you get within 5 feet.]
- You stop within 5 feet of him.
- If he continues to run away you can use your Reaction to attack him. [If you speed is the same or greater than his, this can repeat each round. This is not a good strategy for your opponent, unless he can reach shelter or he is leading you into an ambush.]
- Or he may choose to turn and fight on his turn.
3) You cannot get to within 5 feet of him using your Dash action.
- If your speed is greater than his, you should catch up with him in a few rounds.
- If your speed is less than his, and you have no way to increase your speed, he will get farther away each round. You may as well attempt to shoot him with ranged weapons until he is out of range.
- If your speed is the same as his, he will stay the same distance away from you forever. You move closer on your turn, he moves away on his. This is where a house rule is needed.
House Rule #1
A chase is not a race. There are multiple factors that could enable a creature to catch up to another one that has the same speed. Even a lucky slower creature should have a chance. Here is my house rule:
At the end of a turn where you have used a Dash action to advance toward an opponent that is fleeing, you may call for a Strength (Athletics) contest between the two characters. If you win the contest, you move an additional 5 feet toward your opponent. If you lose the contest, you move back 5 feet.
House Rule #2
Characters can’t continue running at top speed forever. For extended chases:
After 5 rounds of continuous running, a character must make a [DC 15] Constitution save or suffer one level of exhaustion. Each additional round of continuous running requires another save at an additional +2 to the DC.
The DM may rule that certain creatures are immune to this exhaustion effect, or that they can run for longer periods before requiring this check.
August 18, 2014Posted by on
Don’t panic! This is the same blog, I just changed the theme.
I felt that it was time to update the appearance of this blog to make it easier to read.
This is the “zBench” wordpress theme. I hope you like it.
August 11, 2014Posted by on
This is an expansion of an idea presented by the “Thinkerer GM” here: http://thinkerergm.wikispaces.com/Threat+creation+using+bounded+accuracy
He says: “This system allows to create a threat (monster, trap, etc) by extending the Difficulty Classes to apply it to other characteristics. “
You can use these guidelines for monsters and traps that you can’t find in official sources, such as monsters that you are converting from an older module, or one of your own design.
Here is his table
Extended Difficulty Classes Table
|Very Easy (DC 5)||8||+2||5||2 (1d4)||11||0|
|Easy (DC 10)||10||+3||10||4 (1d6)||12||1/4|
|Moderate (DC 15)||12||+4||20||8 (2d6+1)||13||1|
|Hard (DC 20)||14||+5||40||16 (2d10+5)||14||3|
|Very Hard (DC 25)||16||+6||80||32 (2d10+21)||15||5|
|Formidable (DC 30)||18||+7||160||64 (2d10+53)||16||7|
|Nearly Impossible (DC 35)||20||+8||320||128 (2d6+117)||17||9|
This is the idea for Traps:
How hard is it to notice? [DC for WIS (Perception) check]
How hard is it to locate? [DC for INT (Investigation) check]
How hard is it to avoid? (If it is activated.) [Attack bonus]
How hard is it to deactivate? [DC for DEX (Disable device) check]
How hard is it to destroy? [Hit Points]
How hard is it to hit? (in the proper location or with enough force to cause it damage) [AC]
How hard is it to save against? (for poison and the like) [Save DC]
How hard is it to endure? [Damage]
Answer each of these questions with “very easy”, “easy”, “moderate”, “hard”, “very hard”, “formidable”, or “nearly impossible”, and look up the difficulty class table above.
Add all of the DC’s together and divide by 8 to get the average DC for the trap. Use this DC for the traps Challenge Rating (CR).
The idea is very similar for monsters:
How hard is it to detect? [DC for WIS (Perception) check]
How hard is it to avoid? [Attack bonus]
How hard is it to hit? [AC]
How hard is it to destroy? [Hit Points]
How hard is it to save against? (for poison or spells) [Save DC]
How hard is it to endure? [Damage]
Add all of the DC’s together and divide by 6 to get the average DC for the monster. Use this DC for determining the CR if the monster is encountered singly. Use the next higher DC for an encounter with two of these monsters. Increase the DC by one additional level for each doubling of the number of monsters in the encounter. For example, a DC 10 monster becomes DC 15 it there are two of them, DC 20 for 4, DC 25 for 8, etc.
For DCs above 35; For each additional level, increase the DC by 5 and increase the CR by 2.
When determining how hard it is to do these various things, you should be thinking about a single, 0 level commoner. This is what bounded accuracy is all about. Each activity is hard or easy regardless of the level of the characters attempting it. To determine how difficult an encounter this will be for your group use the CR and adjust for the number of PCs.
For Experience Points, you can use the XP values of similar CR monsters as a guide.
July 26, 2014Posted by on
The combat rules for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons are much simpler that previous editions. This is a quick reference guide to the new rules. Refer to the complete rules (which can be downloaded for free here) for more detailed information. This is my own interpretation of those rules. Refer to the DM notes at the end for my house rules.
Each round represents 6 seconds in the game world. Anything a person could reasonably do in 6 seconds, your character can do in 1 round.
Each round, during your turn, you can move and take one action.
• You don’t have to move, but if you choose to, you can move a distance up to your speed. You can move before or after you take an action, or you can move first, take an action, and then move again, as long as the total distance moved doesn’t exceed your speed.
• You don’t have to take an action during your turn, but if you choose to, you can attempt to do anything that could be accomplished in 6 seconds or less. The most common action taken in combat is the attack action. See below for a list of actions that can be performed in combat.
• If your action permits multiple attacks, you can move between attacks so long as you haven’t used all of your move distance based on your speed.
• Your move can include jumping onto or off of things, jumping over things, climbing walls or ropes, swinging on ropes or chandeliers, or moving in any way that your character is capable of such as swimming or flying for example.
You can interact with one object as part of either your move or your action.
You can manipulate the object in an uncomplicated way. Some examples include:
• Draw or sheath a weapon
• Draw Two One-Handed Weapons
• Transfer an item from one hand to the other
• Load a crossbow
• Retrieve or put away a stored item*
• Pick up an item
• Move an object
• Open a chest
• Open a door
* You may only retrieve an item if it was stowed for easy access. If you must dig through your backpack to find something inside, it may require use of an action to retrieve it.
Doing more than one of these things requires the use of an action.
As part of your move or your action, you can do things that take little or no time and don’t interfere with your movement.
These activities take very little time, though there may be limits to the number you can perform in a turn. Examples include:
• Drawing ammunition for use with a ranged weapon (such as arrows, bolts, sling bullets, or shuriken).
• Dropping an item to your feet or within 5 feet of your current location.
• Dropping to a prone position. (Standing up from prone, however, takes half of your movement for the turn.)
• Speaking (you can always speak, even when it isn’t your turn – within reason.)
You may be able to take an additional, bonus action.
• A special ability, spell, or other feature of the game may allow you to do something as a bonus action. You are only allowed one bonus action in a round.
• Example: If you have a short sword in one hand and dagger in the other, after using your action to attack with the sword, you can use a bonus action to attack with the dagger (refer to the rules on two-weapon fighting.)
You are allowed one reaction each round.
A reaction is an action that is triggered by an external event.
• A special ability, spell, or other feature of the game may allow you to react to a specific triggering event.
• If an opponent attempts to move past you or attacks you and then attempts to move away, you get a free swing at him. This is called an opportunity attack, and it is the most common reaction.
• Another example would be a wizard’s feather fall spell that is triggered when the wizard is pushed over a cliff, or steps into a pit trap.
• Your reaction does not have to occur during your turn, but can occur at any time during the round. If it occurs during another’s turn, his turn is suspended until your reaction is resolved.
If surprised, you lose your turn for the first round of combat. This includes loosing use of any reaction for one round, measured from the beginning of combat until the start of your turn on round two.
Actions in Combat
During your turn in a combat round, you can perform any one of the following actions.
You can make one melee or ranged attack. Some features may allow you to make more than one attack with this action.
Cast a Spell
You can cast any spell that you are capable of casting that has a listed casting time of one action.
Rather than performing any other action, you spend the entire round moving. This allows you to move twice as far this round. It is effectively a double move action.
If you start the round within 5 feet of an opponent that can see you, you can use this action to move away from him without provoking an opportunity attack.
This is a total defense action. You spend the round trying to avoid being hit. Until the start of your next turn, any attack roll made against you has disadvantage if you can see the attacker, and you make Dexterity saving throws with advantage.
You can use your action to help an ally attack an opponent within 5 feet of you. You don’t make an attack yourself, but when your friend attacks, his first attack roll is made with advantage.
Or you can help him with any other task. If you are in position to do so, and your assistance could reasonably be seen to be of help, he will gain advantage on his ability check to accomplish the task.
The act of hiding requires an action to attempt. You must make a Dexterity (Stealth) check to see if you successfully hide from your opponents.
Rather than taking and action during your turn, you wait for some specific event and then take your action as a reaction. You can still move up to the distance indicated by your move rate, but you can take no other action this round. You must specify two things -
1) What the triggering event will be.
This can be anything you think might happen that you can observe. If the event occurs before the start of your turn on the next round you can perform your readied action at that time. Some examples could be: If the sniper sticks his head up, If more Orcs come around the corner, If the rope brakes, If the water level rises, If the evil magic user starts to cast a spell, If the guard spots the thief, If the prisoner attempts to escape.
2) What action you will take.
This can be any of the combat actions.
Note that this action will be a reaction and you can only have one reaction per round. This means that if you take another reaction, you lose your readied action. Conversely, if you use your readied action you can have no other reactions this round.
• If the triggering event occurs, you can choose to not take your readied action.
• If you choose Dash as a readied action, you can move up to your move rate.
• If you choose Cast a Spell as a readied action, you cast the spell during your turn but hold off on releasing the energy of the spell until the triggering event occurs. You must concentrate to hold the spell’s energy. Anything that breaks your concentration before the final release of the spell’s energy results in the loss of the spell. If the triggering event doesn’t occur this round, you can continue to hold the spell with continued concentration into the following round, or you can cast it as an action on your next turn, or you can lose it.
You can use your action to attempt to find something. The DM might require you to make a Wisdom (Perception) check or an Intelligence (Investigation) check.
Use an Object
An object may require an action for you to use it, or you may need to use this action to interact with more than one object in a round.
There are many more things that a combatant could do during a round than can be accounted for in the above actions. When you want to attempt something that is not covered by any of the above actions, you can use an improvised action.
Examples of an improvised action:
“I want to pull the rug out from under that guy.”
“I want to jump on the monster and attack him with my sword while I ride on to his back.”
“I want to talk them into surrendering.”
“I want to break that flask the bad guy is holding.” (attack an object)
“I want to slide down the stairs on my shield while I fire arrows at the enemy.”
“I want to intimidate then into running away.”
“I want to grab that piece of folded parchment that is sticking out of his vest pocket.”
“I want to slide under the table and stab that guy in his ankle with my dagger.”
“I want to sheath my sword and walk up to that guy and tweak his nose.”
“I want to hit that rope with my arrow in such a way as to cut the rope and let the body that is hanging from it fall to the ground.”
“I want to disarm my opponent.” (This could be a called shot to the hand, shattering an opponent’s weapon, severing a spear shaft, entangling a sword arm, or using the flat of a blade to smack a weapon from an enemy’s hand.)
“I want to push him into the pit.” (Use the rules for “Shoving a Creature” – this could include shield bashes, tackles, bull rushes, overruns, tables hurled into enemies, doors smashed into opponents on the other side, and so on. Generally speaking, this could be any attempt to use brute strength to move an opponent. Any attempt to shove creatures off a nearby cliff, through a railing, out a chapel’s stained-glass window, and so on will allow the creature a dexterity save.)
“I want to trip that guy.” (This could be any attempt to knock an enemy off its feet. Whether it’s hooking an enemy’s leg, stabbing a kneecap, knocking an opponent off-balance, hurling an enemy away, sweeping an enemy’s legs, or some other maneuver, this improvised action would allow the warrior to knock an enemy prone.)
The following rules apply to improvised actions:
1. You must explain the improvised action to the DM. The DM may rule that what you want to do will require more than one round, or that it is simply impossible (you can’t fire an arrow into the sky and hit the moon). He may ask you to be more specific regarding the action you want to take and how the action will achieve the results you want.
2. The improvised action can also include all or part of your move. Successfully jumping on – or diving into a creature will give you advantage on the attack roll. A failed attempt results in your move stopping at the point there the attack takes place and may grant your opponent an advantage on his next attack against you.
3. To perform the improvised action the DM will normally have you make an ability check. The DM will assign an appropriate difficulty class and will explain possible consequences if the attempted action fails. For example, if you attempt to jump off of the balcony onto the monster in the center of the room and miss you may end up prone.
Most improvised actions can be resolved as simple contests.
Player: “I want to try to [describes some form of physical contest other than an attack roll].”
DM: “Okay, make a Strength (Athletics) check.”
DM compares result to opponent’s Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check, perhaps giving someone advantage or disadvantage.
DM Notes: Some of the information above deviates somewhat from the official rules. You can consider these to be my House Rules.
Retrieving a stored Item – This should only be allowed as part of your move or action if you don’t have to dig through your backpack to find it.
Speaking – Should be allowed at any time
Disengage – I will only allow this action if you are currently engaged in combat and want to withdraw without provoking an opportunity attack.
Help – It only makes logical sense to be able to help another if there is some action that you could take that might possibly be of help to him.
Improvised action – I got rather wordy here, but I think these should be encouraged.