Dungeon Master Assistance

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Tag Archives: D&D

D&D – War Wagon

Encounter with a Wagon

This blog just reached 300 followers. As a way to thank you I will give you this. It can be used for a quick, non combat, encounter on the road. All of the specifications are left up to you to fill in. Sometimes you just need an idea, so here is one.

Metal workers, recently survived a kobold attack.

Wagon is pulled by 4 large work horses (like Clydesdales).

Horses have poorly made plate mail armor. One horse is tied to the side of the wagon with a bandaged foot (was shot with an arrow).

This large wagon is completely enclosed with wood walls and top that have been reinforced with metal plates and has shuttered arrow slits and a smokestack. It has 6 steel reinforced wheels on three axes. There is a door in the back, another in the front, and a trap door in the top. There are several small arrows sticking into the wagon at various places and at odd angles.

The back door is open and the smell of sausage cooking is coming from that direction.

The wagon contains a large variety of metal items that they are taking to town to sell. These are mainly folding weapons racks, hinges, nails, horse shoes, chains, manacles, and some heavy wire. they have no weapons for sale, but can provide small steel balls to use as sling-shot projectiles. They also have some wooden practice swords for sale.

In addition to the items for sale they have their personal weapons, armor, and items and a portable blacksmith shop, complete with anvil, billows, fire pit, tongs, water barrel, etc. These can all be used within the wagon, or they can be removed and set up elsewhere in just one hour (they have had lots of practice).

“We were attacked last night while traveling here. It was along the road where it passes through the densest part of the forest. We were surrounded by kobolds and held out until daybreak. Then the kobolds that were left all left. We caught one. When it came close and tried to reach in to grab a sausage through an arrow skit, we clapped a manacle on its arm. We are thinking about selling it. During the fight we killed a couple and saw them being eaten by the survivors. At least one of them could speak common. It called out to us to throw out any magic items or magical components we had and they would let us pass. They wouldn’t believe us when we told them we had none.”

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D&D 5E – Schools of Magic

Schools of Magic

Here is a cheat sheet for when a PC uses an identify spell on a magical item in your dungeon. You know what it does, but when they ask what school of magic it is, do you know? Remember that some magic, such as some potions, aren’t associated with any school.

Abjuration “Protectin’ stuff” (Abjure: to renounce)

They create magical barriers, negate harmful effects, harm trespassers, or banish creatures to other planes.

Examples: Alarm, Protection from Evil and Good, Arcane Lock, Glyph of Warding

 

Conjuration “Makin’ stuff” (Conjure: to create)

Spells involve the transportation of objects and creatures from one location to another. Some spells summon creatures or objects to the caster’s side, whereas others allow the caster to teleport to another location. Some conjurations create objects or effects out of nothing.

Examples: Entangle, Fog Cloud, Dimension Door, Cloudkill, Teleport, Wish

 

Divination “Knowin’ stuff” (Divine: discover or learn)

Spells reveal information.

Examples: Identify, Speak with Animals, Detect Thoughts, See Invisibility, Scrying

 

Enchantment “Convincin’ stuff” (Enchant: to cause someone to act in a way it usually wouldn’t)

Spells affect the minds of others, influencing or controlling their behavior.

Examples: Charm Person, Sleep, Hold Person, Zone of Truth, Power Word Kill

 

Evocation “Makin’ energy stuff” (Evoke: cause an effect)

Spells manipulate magical energy to produce a desired effect. Some call up blasts of fire or lightning. Others channel positive energy to heal wounds.

Examples: Fire Bolt, Light, Cure Wounds, Heal, Magic Missile, Spiritual Weapon, Earthquake, Telepathy

 

Illusion “Trickin’ stuff” (Illusion: a deception)

Spells deceive the senses or minds of others.

Examples: Invisibility, Magic Mouth, Simulacrum

 

Necromancy “Dead stuff” (Necro: death)

Spells manipulate the energies of life and death. Such spells can grant an extra reserve of life force, drain the life energy from another creature, create the undead, or even bring the dead back to life.

Examples: Chill Touch, Spare the Dying, False Life, Blindness/Deafness, Gentle Repose, Resurrection

 

Transmutation “Changin’ stuff” (Transmute: to change)

Spells change the properties of a creature, object, or environment. They might turn an enemy into a harmless creature, bolster the strength of an ally, make an object move at the caster’s command, or enhance a creature’s innate healing abilities to rapidly recover from injury.

Example: Mending, Prestidigitation, Darkvision, Knock, Polymorph, Time Stop

 

What is D&D?

How do I win this game?

How do you explain this game to someone who has never played? Here is what I say.

I usually tell my players, before they even roll up their characters, that the thing that I like best about Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) is that it is different from most games. In almost every other game, for me to win, you have to loose. D&D isn’t like that. You play a character that adventures with other characters. At its simplest, you go into a dungeon, find treasure, fight monsters, and try to get out alive. All of the characters help each other, and it often requires the help of each other for any of you to survive.

The Dungeon Master (DM) is kind of like a referee. He knows the layout of the dungeon and where all of the monsters and traps are and describes to you what your character can see. You come up with a character that you want to take on the adventure. In every situation, you tell the DM what you want your character to do, and he does it. If there is any question as to whether your character can accomplish what he wants to do, the DM decides how easy or hard this would be and you roll dice to determine success or failure.  Most of the rules are to keep the DM’s decisions from being arbitrary and to provide a framework for deciding how difficult it might be for your character to do things and what the result of success of failure might be. But the rules do not limit what your character can attempt.

D&D 5E – The Nature of Magic

What is Magic? How does it work?

I was trying to figure out how (in 4th and 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons) a character could learn all there was to know about a magic item by simply examining it for an hour. This wasn’t possible in earlier editions. You could only learn about an item by trial and error or by some magical means. It is only now coming up because I never played 4th edition, and this is the first time I have been the DM running a 5th edition game.

After a lot of research (Google is my friend) I finely came to the realization that the nature of magic has changed. To make logical sense out of it all (assuming you can apply logic to the rules of magic in a fantasy game), this is what I came up with.

Nothing below is official. It simply represents my ideas and house rules.

The Source of Magic

Behind reality as the player-characters know it, there is a sort of internal “skeleton”, over which reality exists like skin atop muscle and bone. This “skeleton” can best be envisioned as an unseen essence that pervades all parts of the multiverse, directly linking everything to every other thing. This is the source of all magic. When you cast a spell, you actually create a specific alteration in the local essence, which then causes the spell effect you wanted in the ‘real’ world. Some call this essence “Mana”. In the Forgotten Realms it is called the “Weave”. If the Weave in an area is damaged or destroyed, magic is unreliable or impossible – that’s what creates Wild Magic and Dead Magic zones in the Realms.

All the physical laws of the universe are simply reflections of the true, background laws that govern this universal essence. The average person can only perceive normal reality, but some creatures are born with the ability to sense the universal essence.

All magic-using beings share an innate ability to manipulate the essence. Likewise, almost all those “gifted” with these abilities must receive training in arcane (wizardly) or divine (clerical) magic in order to learn how to manipulate the essence with finesse.

Bards learn that words and music are not just vibrations of air, but vocalizations with power all their own. They learn to untangle and reshape the essence in harmony with their wishes and music.

Clerics and Paladins are conduits for Divine magic, the power of the gods. Divine casting is done by channeling the essence provided by their deities and forming spells out of that.

Druids and Rangers revere nature above all, and can draw essence from the land, gaining their spells and other magical powers either from the essence that flows through nature itself or from a nature deity.

Monks make careful study of the essence that flows through living bodies. Most monastic traditions call this ki.

Sorcerers learn to harness and channel their own inborn magical abilities. They gather the essence to them from force of will.

Warlocks receive their magical abilities from a pact they made with an otherworldly being. This is similar to the way gods channel essence through divine casters.

Wizards create elaborate mental structures within the mazes of their own minds, traps which funnel magical essence like a roof collects rainwater for a barrel, stored and ready to be used over the course of a day.

Detecting Magic

This magical substructure to the universe, this unseen essence, can be manipulated by users of magic. It can sometimes be concentrated and placed inside a creature or object. Examples would include casting a spell on a creature to make it resistant to fire, or creating a ring of protection. These magic infused creatures or items emit a type of magical radiation. A creature with the ability to sense the universal essence can detect this magical glow, but it is invisible to all others without some magical way to detect it.

The “Detect Magic” spell:

Magical radiation is similar to light in that it is dimmer the farther you are from it. It can pass through most objects, but is blocked from most forms of detection by 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt. For the magic radiation to be strong enough to be detected by the “detect magic” spell, you must be within 30 feet of the magic creature or item. If you sense magic in this way, you sense the presence of magic, but can’t determine in which direction, or how far away the magic item is. Anytime during the duration of the “detect magic” spell, you can take an action to see if there are any specific items or creatures within sight that you can identify as magical. You will see a faint aura around any visible creature or object in the area that bears magic. If you don’t see an aura around anything, then the magic that you sense must be out of sight. It could be one or more items or creatures that are invisible or hidden. For instance, they could be behind a door or in a box or under a secret panel in the floor.  If you do not see it, you do not see the aura. This also means you cannot use this to locate invisible creatures or objects. Any aura detected can only be seen by the spellcaster. The color of the aura corresponds to the object’s school of magic. If the item has no particular school then the aura has no color. The brightness of the aura indicates the relative strength of the magic.

Unless the magic item is invisible, you can see it if it is within range but behind a transparent barrier, such as glass. You also perceive its magical aura. This includes potions that are in glass bottles. If the potion is in a container that is not see-through you will not see the aura unless you remove the cap and look directly at the potion.

Identifying Magic

If you were to touch a creature that possesses magic, you would not typically feel the magic. But if you were to hold a magic item for a few seconds (a round), you would feel the magical radiation generated by the item effecting your body and/or your mind in some way. The sensation will differ depending on the magic contained within the item. If you continue to hold the item and concentrate on it for a short rest, “At the end of the rest, the character learns the item’s properties, as well as how to use them.”

“Potions are an exception; a little taste is enough to tell the taster what the potion does.” You can’t hold a potion in your hand. The bottle isn’t magical, just the liquid it contains. You could stick your finger into it, and leave it there for an hour, but a drop on your tongue is much faster. A taste is not enough to receive the effects of the potion. If it is poison, a taste is not enough to do harm to the taster. When tasting it, the magic of the potion enters your body and instantly reveals its nature.

Magic items want you to know their properties! The magic is alive! Or, rather, it contains a life force. All life has magic flowing through it to some degree, and all magic has some degree of life flowing through it. This explains why some powerful magical items possess sentience. The item’s creator forced so much magical essence into the item that it became sentient. This also explains why magical essence tends to be attracted to living creatures (and sometimes to dead creatures). And why magic can create or destroy life.

The Identify Spell

This spell makes you more receptive to the magical essence of the item. To identify the magic in an object with this spell, you must remain in physical contact with it for at least 1 minute. “If it is a magic item or some other magic-imbued object, you learn its properties and how to use them” (That much is the same as you can get from examination alone. But with the spell you also learn) “, whether it requires attunement to use, and how many charges it has, if any. You learn whether any spells are affecting the item and what they are. If the item was created by a spell, you learn which spell created it.”

To use this spell to identify a potion still requires one minute, but you must come into physical contact with the potion, not just the bottle it is in. A drop on your tongue or on any spot on your exposed flesh is enough.

The identify spell won’t trigger a curse, but it also doesn’t tell you if an item is cursed. There is no easy way to know if an item is cursed except by trial and error. Even the legend lore spell may only hint that it may be cursed. The curse on an item may cause you to misidentify it.

D&D 5E – Falling Times & Distance

How fast do you fall from heights?

The PHB says you get 1d6 points damage from a fall of 10ft + 1d6 additional damage for each 10 feet if fall after that, to a maximum of 20d6. (See my post on falling damage.) But if you are falling from a  great height, you may have a few rounds to do things during the fall. So the question is, how long does it take me to hit the ground? The DM usually knows how far you will fall. Any fall of less than 500 ft will take less than one round. You can use these tables to determine how long it takes to fall greater distances.

In Stable Free Fall Position (lying belly-to-the-earth)

Rounds Total Distance
1 500 ft
2 1,500 ft
3 2,500 ft
4 3,500 ft
5 4,500 ft
6 5,500 ft (A little more than a mile)

each round thereafter you fall another 1,000 ft.

-or- five rounds for each additional mile

 

Uncontrolled fall or if you are attempting to go faster by taking a more aerodynamic, diving position.

Rounds Total Distance
1 500 ft
2 2,500 ft
3 4,000 ft
4 5,500 ft (A little more than a mile)

each round thereafter you fall another 1,500  ft.

-or- four rounds for each additional mile

 

Gliding

You can’t glide if you are uncontrolled, or attempting to fall faster. You also can’t glide if you fall less than 500 feet. But if you fall more than 500 feet, and you are in Stable Free Fall Position your maximum a glide ratio is 1:1 (or 1:2 if wearing a wingsuit) which means that you could glide a maximum of one foot for each foot falling. (Or a maximum of two feet for each foot falling if wearing a wingsuit.)

D&D 5E – Abilities Explained

I found this online a while back. Thought I would share.

D&D Stats Explained

  • Strength
    • 1 (–5): Morbidly weak, has significant trouble lifting own limbs
    • 2-3 (–4): Needs help to stand, can be knocked over by strong breezes
    • 4-5 (–3): Knocked off balance by swinging something dense
    • 6-7 (–2): Difficulty pushing an object of their weight
    • 8-9 (–1): Has trouble even lifting heavy objects
    • 10-11 (0): Can literally pull their own weight
    • 12-13 (1): Carries heavy objects for short distances
    • 14-15 (2): Visibly toned, throws small objects for long distances
    • 16-17 (3): Carries heavy objects with one arm
    • 18-19 (4): Can break objects like wood with bare hands
    • 20-21 (5): Able to out-wrestle a work animal or catch a falling person
    • 22-23 (6): Can pull very heavy objects at appreciable speeds
    • 24-25 (7): Pinnacle of brawn, able to out-lift several people
  • Dexterity
    • 1 (–5): Barely mobile, probably significantly paralyzed
    • 2-3 (–4): Incapable of moving without noticeable effort or pain
    • 4-5 (–3): Visible paralysis or physical difficulty
    • 6-7 (–2): Significant klutz or very slow to react
    • 8-9 (–1): Somewhat slow, occasionally trips over own feet
    • 10-11 (0): Capable of usually catching a small tossed object
    • 12-13 (1): Able to often hit large targets
    • 14-15 (2): Can catch or dodge a medium-speed surprise projectile
    • 16-17 (3): Able to often hit small targets
    • 18-19 (4): Light on feet, able to often hit small moving targets
    • 20-21 (5): Graceful, able to flow from one action into another easily
    • 22-23 (6): Very graceful, capable of dodging a number of thrown objects
    • 24-25 (7): Moves like water, reacting to all situations with almost no effort
  • Constitution
    • 1 (–5): Minimal immune system, body reacts violently to anything foreign
    • 2-3 (–4): Frail, suffers frequent broken bones
    • 4-5 (–3): Bruises very easily, knocked out by a light punch
    • 6-7 (–2): Unusually prone to disease and infection
    • 8-9 (–1): Easily winded, incapable of a full day’s hard labor
    • 10-11 (0): Occasionally contracts mild sicknesses
    • 12-13 (1): Can take a few hits before being knocked unconscious
    • 14-15 (2): Able to labor for twelve hours most days
    • 16-17 (3): Easily shrugs off most illnesses
    • 18-19 (4): Able to stay awake for days on end
    • 20-21 (5): Very difficult to wear down, almost never feels fatigue
    • 22-23 (6): Never gets sick, even to the most virulent diseases
    • 24-25 (7): Tireless paragon of physical endurance
  • Intelligence
    • 1 (–5): Animalistic, no longer capable of logic or reason
    • 2-3 (–4): Barely able to function, very limited speech and knowledge
    • 4-5 (–3): Often resorts to charades to express thoughts
    • 6-7 (–2): Often misuses and mispronounces words
    • 8-9 (–1): Has trouble following trains of thought, forgets most unimportant things
    • 10-11 (0): Knows what they need to know to get by
    • 12-13 (1): Knows a bit more than is necessary, fairly logical
    • 14-15 (2): Able to do math or solve logic puzzles mentally with reasonable accuracy
    • 16-17 (3): Fairly intelligent, able to understand new tasks quickly
    • 18-19 (4): Very intelligent, may invent new processes or uses for knowledge
    • 20-21 (5): Highly knowledgeable, probably the smartest person many people know
    • 22-23 (6): Able to make Holmesian leaps of logic
    • 24-25 (7): Famous as a sage and genius
  • Wisdom
    • 1 (–5): Seemingly incapable of thought, barely aware
    • 2-3 (–4): Rarely notices important or prominent items, people, or occurrences
    • 4-5 (–3): Seemingly incapable of forethought
    • 6-7 (–2): Often fails to exert common sense
    • 8-9 (–1): Forgets or opts not to consider options before taking action
    • 10-11 (0): Makes reasoned decisions most of the time
    • 12-13 (1): Able to tell when a person is upset
    • 14-15 (2): Can get hunches about a situation that doesn’t feel right
    • 16-17 (3): Reads people and situations fairly well
    • 18-19 (4): Often used as a source of wisdom or decider of actions
    • 20-21 (5): Reads people and situations very well, almost unconsciously
    • 22-23 (6): Can tell minute differences among many situations
    • 24-25 (7): Nearly prescient, able to reason far beyond logic
  • Charisma
    • 1 (–5): Barely conscious, probably acts heavily autistic
    • 2-3 (–4): Minimal independent thought, relies heavily on others to think instead
    • 4-5 (–3): Has trouble thinking of others as people
    • 6-7 (–2): Terribly reticent, uninteresting, or rude
    • 8-9 (–1): Something of a bore or makes people mildly uncomfortable
    • 10-11 (0): Capable of polite conversation
    • 12-13 (1): Mildly interesting, knows what to say to the right people
    • 14-15 (2): Interesting, knows what to say to most people
    • 16-17 (3): Popular, receives greetings and conversations on the street
    • 18-19 (4): Immediately likeable by many people, subject of favorable talk
    • 20-21 (5): Life of the party, able to keep people entertained for hours
    • 22-23 (6): Immediately likeable by almost everybody
    • 24-25 (7): Renowned for wit, personality, and/or looks

D&D 5E – Weight of Bolders

I found this on-line (I forget where). Thought I would share.  [If you know who created the original, please let me know so I can credit them.]

D&D 5E – How far can you see

worldknit

So What Can I see From Here?

Usually, the limit to how far characters can see will be some obstruction, such as a building, a forest, or some hills. Mist and darkness also limit vision. Sometimes, however, the characters will be on flat plains on a clear day and the only limit to their vision will be their perception and the horizon. Once something goes below the horizon, it can’t be seen. But where is the horizon?

Height in feet Miles away
3 2
6 3
10 4
20 5
30 6
40 7
50 8
60 9
70 10
80 11
90 12
100 13
300 20
500 25
1,000 40
5,000 80
10,000 100
30,000 200
100,000 400
500,000 800

This table has been simplified for gaming use. On an earth-sized planet, the horizon for a six-foot tall person standing at sea level or on flat plains will be about 3 miles. This means that they can see features that are at ground level for up to three miles (depending, of course, on the quality of their vision and the size of the object). Features that are higher than ground level can be seen further.

To determine how far away you can see something, just add together all of the heights. For example, if a 6 foot man is on a 4 foot horse standing on a 30 foot hill, how close would you have to be to a 60 foot tall tower to see it?  First add all the heights together 6 + 4 + 30 + 60  = 100 feet. Look at the table under “height in feet” and find 100 feet. Then look across under “miles away” to find 13 miles. So the tower could be spotted if it was no farther away than 13 miles.

You could see a 14,000 foot mountain a little more than 100 miles away.

 

This is good for seeing features on a map, such as lakes, forests, mountains, towns, etc. but knowing how far you can see is often not what your Player Characters need to know. Just because you can see 3 miles doesn’t mean that you can see a monster on the horizon. For that we need another table.

Perception Distance Table

Item Size Perceive Identify
Creature – Fine 6” or less 30 ft. or less 5 ft. or less
Creature – Diminutive 6” – 1 ft. 30 ft. – 60 ft. 5 ft. – 10 ft.
Creature – Tiny 1 ft. – 2 ft. 60 ft. – 120 ft. 10 ft. – 25 ft.
Creature – Small 2 ft. – 4 ft. 120 ft. – 240 ft. 25 ft. –  50ft.
Creature  – Medium 4 ft. – 8 ft. 240 ft. – 480 ft. 50 ft. – 100 ft.
Creature – Large 8 ft. – 16 ft. 480 ft. – 960 ft. 100 ft. – 200 ft.
Creature – Huge 16 ft. – 32 ft. 960 ft. – 1,920 ft. 200 ft. – 400 ft.
Creature – Gargantuan 32 ft. – 64 ft. 1,920 ft. – 3,840 ft. 400 ft. – 800 ft.
Creature – Colossal 64 ft. or more 3,840 ft. or more 800 ft. or more

In this table “perceive” means that you can see it and may notice it with a perception check. If you do notice it you will recognize the creature type if you have seen one before. If you don’t know what type of creature it is you will be able to tell the creature’s coloration, size, shape, number of limbs, wings, etc. If the creature is moving, you will also be able to tell which direction it is traveling and about how fast.

“Identify” means that you can see details and may recognize an individual that you have met before.

 

Here is a simple rule of thumb that is accurate enough for gaming use:

Distance away (in feet) that you can perceive an item is its size (in feet) times 60.

Distance away (in feet) that you can identify an item is its size (in feet) times 12.

Round fractions down to the nearest 5 ft.

The item’s size is its longest dimension (height or width).

 

One more thing.

You can perceive a burning candle 1 1/2 mile away.

DM Inspiration

Looking for Inspiration?

I ran across this Facebook site. Whenever you, as a DM, are trying to think of an original location for your next adventure, just browse through the photos on this “Abandoned World” site.

 

D&D 3.5 – Classes with Class

pcs

Classes with Class

In 2004 and 2005 Skip Williams (co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition) put a series of articles on the Wizards website with tips on playing each of the various character types. Wizards of the Coast has moved them to their D&D Archives, but you can still find them there if you are diligent in your search.

These are an excellent reference. They were written for D&D 3.5 but even if you are running a fifth edition game you will find then a useful reference.

 

Here are direct links to them:

Fighters with Class

Rogues with Class

Wizards with Class

Clerics with Class

Barbarians with Class

Bards with Class

Sorcerers with Class

Druids with Class

Rangers with Class

Paladins with Class

Monks with Class

Warlocks with Class

 

And here is a link to the 3.5 D&D Archives page:

3.5 D&D Archives