Sunday, September 14, 2014

D&D 5e: Five New Spells for Druids and Rangers

I'm working on a new subclass for rangers, focused on snares and cunning use of terrain. Working toward that end, I've created five new spells for rangers, and as the druid spell list is largely (though not strictly) a superset of the ranger spell list, I think these spells are appropriate to druids as well. I have a longer post percolating on the basic problems of ranger design, inspired by many conversations with Kainenchen as well as Rob Donoghue's recent review of the class.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Postmortem: Monastery of the Blessed Scroll

In my (now long-running) D&D Next/5e game, the players explored a dungeon called the Monastery of the Blessed Scroll (layout based on Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire). I run very few dungeons that take much more than 2-3 sessions at most to explore, so this post documents what I did, and what parts of that worked or did not work. Players who were involved in some of those eleven sessions should feel free to chime in with comments. A lot of this post concerns the unusual-to-me format of this campaign, so I'll start there.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

D&D 5e: Royal Bloodline Sorcerous Origin

During the public playtest of D&D Next, I did some fiddling around with the sorcerer class to keep it current-ish with later packets, because several of my players were so intrigued by the original class concept. My efforts weren't great, in part because they highlighted what was wrong in the long-term with WotC's original model for the sorcerer - the pool of sorcery points ballooned into something that felt unmanageable. The good thing that came out of this was that I developed a new bloodline concept for the sorcerer, and now that 5e is actually out and doing its thing, I still think that concept is pretty cool.

Friday, August 15, 2014

D&D 5th Edition: Mastermind Roguish Archetype

A few days ago, the G+ thread following +Rob Donoghue's post on Rangers and Rogues led to an idea that really grabbed me: the Mastermind Rogue. This is a Roguish Archetype that roughly parallels some of the functions of the Bard and the assisting functions of the Battle Master archetype. For all that I loved (OMG loved WTFBBQ) 4e warlords and other leaders, this first draft doesn't attempt to offer any real healing effects until 17th level - this is a matter of embracing the apparent style of 5e rather than trying to shoehorn in something from 4e.

Monday, August 11, 2014

D&D 5th Edition: Enforcer Background

In my campaign, the Bounty Hunter background in the playtest documents was one of the more popular options. Since the setting runs more toward late-Renaissance and early-colonial rather than the core medieval setting of most campaigns, players used that background to cover slightly more modern law-enforcement concepts as well. The Player's Handbook doesn't offer a Bounty Hunter per se, though - instead, it's a minor option within Outlander. That's sufficient for the majority of campaigns - I don't think WotC "did it wrong" on this by any means. All in all I'm impressed with how many character concepts are thoroughly covered by the Backgrounds that are in the book. But if, like me, many of your favorite characters are cops, detectives, bounty hunters, vigilantes, thief-takers, or inquisitors... read on.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Gaming to Byzantium

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
--W.B. Yeats, "Sailing to Byzantium"

Okay, I'll fess up - this isn't a post about how to use "Sailing to Byzantium" as game inspiration, though I've done that too. I recently read The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire by Edward N. Luttwak, and (like anyone as monomaniacal as I am) I reinterpreted a lot of what he talks about through a gaming lens. Before I really dive into it, let me recommend the book in the strongest available terms: if you care about a more nuanced understanding of medieval warfare and politics, or if like me you previously knew approximately nothing about the Eastern Roman Empire, this book is ideal.

(For clarity, I'll generally be calling them Byzantines rather than Eastern Romans. I know perfectly well that this is historically laughable.)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

D&D Basic: Spells


This breakdown of spells is lengthy enough that I'm going to boil down trends first, rather than making readers wade through a discussion of literally every spell in Basic to read a derived change log. You might say it's a trifle dry. (This blog is justly accused of same; I laud your forbearance.) There are also some discussions of what I foresee as optimal applications of various spells, and emergent oddities.
  • In-combat healing is drying up a bit, except for the high-end stuff. The spells aren't going away, but they've lost a bit of throughput.
  • Damage output for spells is holding steady or increasing - the more iconic the damage spell, the more likely that its damage has increased.
  • lot of spells that had a fixed duration in the playtest now have a Concentration duration. This is a broad-spectrum nerf to spellcasting classes, until we see domains, traditions, or magic items that change up a character's interaction with Concentration rules.
  • Many spells that previously did not have scaling effects from higher-level slots have gained them.
  • There are only two spells in all of Basic that still have hit point thresholds in their mechanics - the Power Words. All other uses of hit point thresholds are gone.
  • There are a lot of all-new spells, and a lot of classic spells that were absent from playtest packets but have now returned.
  • Most spell ranges that are greater than 15 feet are factors of 30 feet, rather than 25 as in the packet. More ranges go up than down.