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Dungeons and/or Dragons

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
Surprised nobody's made a D&D thread yet, so here we are!

My friend just ran us a one-shot, and I had a chance to run with a build I've been interested in for a while - I ran a 4 swashbuckler rogue/4 shadow sorcerer. The single-target damage was NUTS. My main weapon was Shadow Blade, from the spell, so 2d8+5 base attack; Booming Blade for most of my attacks, so 1d8 right there; and really easy to get my sneak attack, for a total of 3d8+2d6+5 for most of my attacks. Also, I could twincast booming blade to attack 2 enemies if they're both in range of me. And then, since I'm a swashbuckler, I got to just turn around and walk away - and since we started at 8 we got a rare and an uncommon item, so my Cloak of Elvenkind let me hide in some shadows (and ring of spell-storing increased my limited slots). I also got to disable a caster with magical darkness on his head and sneak attack him easily as he flailed around trying to find me. We all had fun and had some pretty cool characters and builds, so we might make it a semi-recurring episodic thing, and I'm excited to play around more with this build.

This is the same DM who ran an earlier short adventure (one-shot became more like 4-5 shot) where I got to try my bearbarian, the level 3 totem barbarian/level 2 moon druid, where I shifted into a bear for lots of extra hp and damage, and took half damage from everything while raging. I like starting at higher levels so I don't have to be bored through earlier levels while the builds come together!

AND, I started as a player in a different campaign, we're doing Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden. I'm playing a Warforged Barbarian (Zealot, eventually) who, with the war he was built for having ended, picked a god out of a library book to fanatically fight for instead, not that he's entirely sure what that entails yet.

Anyone else playing in any good games or with any neat characters? Looking forward to any upcoming content? I'm excited for Tasha's cauldron, definitely. New subclasses, woo!
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
I’ve been meaning to make one, but never got around to it. Thanks for getting it started, Paul!

My friends & I have been running one-shots on Zoom since March. Except that we’re now level 7, so I guess it was accidentally a campaign? I probably DMed about 1/2 of them, my friend Art (who joined a Talking Time one-shot a while back) ran a bunch, and one other friend ran a session. The party stole a ship early on, so the loose connecting thread has been a Medieval Mediterannean theme.

I’ve been playing as Oskar, a Dwarven Mountain Druid. He is convinced that being shorter makes you more important, and so he’s been taking orders from the group’s Goblin. Mountain Druids get Lightning Bolt, which fills a gap in Druid’s casting since they usually don’t have many direct damage spells. Plus, Druids have a lot of battlefield control & out of combat abilities, so he’s been a lot of fun to play as.

But, we recently decided that it would be nice to play in a real campaign, with some more continuity & direction from the player characters. Art & I collaborated on a setting, and we’re going to trade off DMing duties. The party is all monsterous races, and largely evil aligned. Their land has been taken over by a Dwarven Empire, and their goal is going to be building up a resistance & defeating or forcing the Dwarves out. Here’s a map (still a work in progress):



I’m going to run the first few sessions, but eventually I’m going to play as a Kobold Swords Bard named Nicknack.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
Ooh, I really like that idea for a campaign setting. (But I also have a thing about playing the least human-like, least-normal races available. Yuan-Ti, Tabaxi, Firbolg, the elephant one, Tortle... Warforged was almost too "normal" for me but I liked the character hook of the Zealot Barb warforged. Otherwise I was going to be a Minotaur I think.)
 

Nich

stuck in baby prison
(he/him)
My main group is about to wrap up an epilogue to our campaign where we adventure through the Hells. We're level 20 at this point and defeated Demogorgon a little while back--somehow we lucked into staring down his madness gaze every single time he used it in that fight without it ever taking effect. Our fighter/ranger with a vorpal sword managed to cut off one of his two heads during the fight. It was great, but we steamrolled it a bit.

So the DM brought him back, under Asmodeus' control via a demon amulet, as...MECHAGORGON. This time he had custom infernal armor with a number of infernal devices attached, including a missile cannon (fired a 6th-level magic missile at a target), a death ray, and a force field. To compensate a bit, the DM gave our party legendary actions in the form of our yugoloth army backup. It was one of the coolest fights I've ever been a part of, even if Asmodeus did show up afterward to spoil everyone's fun a bit.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
Ooh, I really like that idea for a campaign setting. (But I also have a thing about playing the least human-like, least-normal races available. Yuan-Ti, Tabaxi, Firbolg, the elephant one, Tortle... Warforged was almost too "normal" for me but I liked the character hook of the Zealot Barb warforged. Otherwise I was going to be a Minotaur I think.)

I usually just try to find a race/class combination that feels right and gives my character a good motivation. Humans can be interesting as long as they're not bland, generic adventurers. But, I did have a lot of fun as a big, dumb Firbolg.

My main group is about to wrap up an epilogue to our campaign where we adventure through the Hells. We're level 20 at this point and defeated Demogorgon a little while back--somehow we lucked into staring down his madness gaze every single time he used it in that fight without it ever taking effect. Our fighter/ranger with a vorpal sword managed to cut off one of his two heads during the fight. It was great, but we steamrolled it a bit.

So the DM brought him back, under Asmodeus' control via a demon amulet, as...MECHAGORGON. This time he had custom infernal armor with a number of infernal devices attached, including a missile cannon (fired a 6th-level magic missile at a target), a death ray, and a force field. To compensate a bit, the DM gave our party legendary actions in the form of our yugoloth army backup. It was one of the coolest fights I've ever been a part of, even if Asmodeus did show up afterward to spoil everyone's fun a bit.
That sounds awesome!
 

Cyrael

...we're shy.
(he/him)
Doing the third session of a game we started during the pandemic. 4 total PCs with me DM'ing. General world/story is effectively building up a Dwarven Kingdom in a post-decline world. We ran Kingmaker in Pathfinder a few years ago and this is highly inspired by the things we liked - the exploration, watching things happen over a long period of time, and building up communities and finding small adventures. 3 Dwarves (Oath of the Crown Paladin, Divination School Wizard, and Path of the Ancestral Guardian Barbarian) and a Half Elf (Swashbuckler Rogue).
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
Every attempt I've made at joining a D&D group has been shortlived. The games are either short one offs or the group I JUST joined is just now running out of steam.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
If you really want a good group, you have to DM and be selective about your players. Or, just get lucky.

I think I’m done with the map for our campaign. I’m happy with how it turned out:



We’re starting on Monday, but I might send this out early to get people thinking about the campaign.

I have the first few dungeons, a bunch of characters and some adventure hooks prepared. My players requested that I use maps, so I downloaded a bunch from Dyson Logos & figured out how to block out areas in Gimp so that I can reveal it as they explore. It takes a little more prep, but Zoom screensharing / annotating makes it really easy to run. I’m looking forward to getting things started!
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
We were talking just now in our session about a fun idea for legendary/artifact item: It gives you the benefits of a long rest on a short rest, and it's called Sealy's Fluffiest Bedroll
 

Zef

Find Your Reason
(He/Him)
I want to drag ZRofel into this thread but I don't know if he's signed on to the new forums yet. He's been our DM for about four years now!

Incidentally, just to throw it out there: it's my first actual D&D game (not counting a two-session non-starter with friends in Mx right after graduation). I created a duergar monk, a teenager (as in, literally 15, which makes him an infant in dwarf years) who has lived above ground his whole life. I created him just before the latest expansion, so I went with Way of the Four Elements. Thunderwave has been VERY useful on occasion, such as leaping on top of a mech construct and using the pushback effect to crush the enemy into the ground for additional damage, but according to player guids this is a very limiting build? So once I became aware of Xanathar's Guide to Everything last year, I now want to trade the Lv6 Monastic Tradition AND the multiclass option for a multi-discipline option for my dwarf instead. Thunderwave is basically the only real use I've gotten out of Wo4E, since there's been very, very few opportunities to use basic elemental manipulation as anything other than a party trick, so I dunno about keeping this discipline, but I'm definitely interested in Way of the Sun Soul (because what better discipline for a surface-dwelling duergar), Way of Mercy (because the team could use another healer), or Way of the Astral Self (because I get to shout Persona! whenever I use it.)

ZRofel is fine with it as long as I wait for the end of the current arc... which has stalled since Feb since we haven't gotten together since. But yeah, it's been very fun playing an "evil dwarf" who's actually a bright-eyed kid raised by monks and who can talk to birds and likes perching on high places... who can also see in the dark and has to shave with an axe to keep his Shaolin monk looks. :p

(I can never figure out how the natural Extra Attack and the special Flurry of Blows stack, though, or how they combine with the unarmed attack and the monk weapon attack. From the description it SOUNDS like I can do two regular armed OR unarmed attacks with Extra Attack, then do two more unarmed attacks with Flurry, but I've read many conflicting interpretations.)
 
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Nich

stuck in baby prison
(he/him)
RAW is that if you use the Attack action on your turn, then both Extra Attack and Flurry of Blows key off of that. If you don't use the Attack action, you get neither of them--you can't, for instance, move, Dash, then use your bonus action for Flurry of Blows, because you didn't Attack. If you use the Attack action, then once you have Extra Attack then you get to make two attacks. These can be unarmed or use the weapon that you have equipped.

At your option, you can then use your bonus action to make an unarmed attack for free (from Martial Arts) or spend a ki point to use Flurry of Blows for two unarmed attacks.

(If your monk ever gets the benefit of a Haste spell, fwiw, this doesn't become six attacks. Haste specifies that the extra action granted by the spell can be used to make one weapon attack only--this can be an unarmed attack if you prefer, of course.)
 

Nich

stuck in baby prison
(he/him)
Sorry to double post, but the situation between Asmodeus and my paladin went even further south and I think I'm going to end up starting the next session attempting to intimidate the prince of Hell.
 

aturtledoesbite

earthquake ace
(any/all)
Sorry to double post, but the situation between Asmodeus and my paladin went even further south and I think I'm going to end up starting the next session attempting to intimidate the prince of Hell.
Is there any better way to start a session?
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
I ran the first session of our campaign last night. Overall, it went well. We introduced the characters and I let them know that they received a message from the Orc goddess Luthic. They got to pick where they were on the map when they received the message, and how it appeared for them. So, one was a deer and the message appeared spelled out in leaves, one was off in the wilderness and a fireball landed in front of them and dropped a note, one had a dream where a green dragon told them the message, one had their patron appear and deliver it, and the last one was in a fighting arena, and they heard it when they killed their opponent. He wasn't smart enough to realize that the message was for him, so he heard the message four more times from dying combatants before he really got it.

The message only told them which town to go to. I let them decide the order they showed up, then role played them arriving and trying to find out what was going on. Some of them ran into each other & teamed up, and one found the place they were supposed to go early and was waiting when the rest of the group arrived. The goal was to reach an old shaman who asked Luthic for help defeating the Dwarves who are occupying their land. He had a bunch of info about the town and area, and sent them off to an old hidden cave that had supplies to get them started.

The cave dungeon was a bit short & not that impressive, but I wanted something that we'd be able to finish quickly so we'd do the whole thing in the first session. They navigated a ledge, got past a couple of traps (with some damage to a few characters, fought some Ochre Jellys, and found a bunch of treasure and a dead adventurer. The adventurer has a Journal written in Primordial, so they are off to find someone who can translate it.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
My Rogue/Shadow sorc's team went after another bounty. We found some mind-controlling spiders, snuck up and took them out without MUCH trouble. I did get dominated/enthralled and had one round where I had to attack a teammate...and I missed, luckily.

Then we went into a cave with a corpse flower (enemy) and, hooboy. My first round was an attack from the sky with a ton of damage where I gracefully spun away...except the DM rewound when he realized he forgot to make me take the con save, which I failed and got incapacitated. Then as I staggered away retching, I triggered two of the little stalactite-trap monsters. The before/after on that turn was pretty brutal. Being a Swashbuckler, I run around a lot...I ended up triggering all but one of the traps, including getting critted and KO'd. We were taking a LOOOT of damage and it seemed kinda hairy there for a minute, but we finally pulled through and splatted the thing!

So we're leveling up. I'm 4 rogue/4 sorc right now. The idea is "rogue with sorcerer flavor boosts," but looking at what I get from each class at their 5th levels...I think I have to go Sorc. For rogue, I get uncanny dodge and sneak attack goes up another d6. On the other hand, I can get 3rd level spells and another sorc point (and, if I cast shadow blade at 3rd level, my main weapon can now do 3d8 damage every attack). Kind of a Duh moment there. I think in the long term, I might go to 6 in Shadow sorc to get a third lv3 spell slot, a second lv3 spell, and my shadow hound, then put the rest in rogue. I mean, uncanny dodge and more sneak attack is good, and so is the extra expertise at 6, but...they don't really compare to 2 more levels in sorcerer right now.

Also my zealot barbarian now does some extra damage which is...neat? It's neat. But there isn't all that much to playing him right now except "rage, reckless attack repeatedly until things are dead." I suppose at level 3 it's not a lot of classes that get too deep or intricate. Except wiz/cleric/druid, I guess. Or bard. Extra attack always spices things up a little...possibly just a little though. Well, if I don't like it, guess I'll die! and roll something else.
 

SabreCat

Sabe, Inattentive Type
(they/them)
Also my zealot barbarian now does some extra damage which is...neat? It's neat. But there isn't all that much to playing him right now except "rage, reckless attack repeatedly until things are dead." I suppose at level 3 it's not a lot of classes that get too deep or intricate. Except wiz/cleric/druid, I guess. Or bard. Extra attack always spices things up a little...possibly just a little though. Well, if I don't like it, guess I'll die! and roll something else.
I've tried a bunch of different 5e characters, and overall I've found that only spellcasters have much in the way of tactical decisions to make in a typical fight. I guess I got spoiled by 4e where everybody had some variety!
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
The best tool that Strength based melee characters have is the grapple. You can prevent enemies from moving and move them around the battlefield at half speed. that might not sound impressive, but battlefield control is powerful in 5e. Grab that monster who is attacking your wizard & drag them away. Push them into an AOE spell. Shove ‘em off a cliff. Or, knock them prone. They have no movement speed while grappled so they can’t stand up. That’s advantage for all of your attacks, and disadvantage for theirs.

Also, the grapple only replaces one of your attacks, so you can still make an attack in the same round starting at level 5. Doing more than one thing in a turn is also really powerful in 5e.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
I would absolutely play a Grapple-based character; I've planned out a number of different ways. I'd have to ultimately go with a battlemaster fighter, though. Being able to trip and/or push with attacks adds a really powerful element to the build, because you can grapple, then attack and trip to add damage and possibly put them prone. Grapple + prone = they can't get up and everyone has advantage until they get away from you.

BUT, I'd especially want, if not only want, to play that build if I could take the Unarmed Fighting style from Unearthed Arcana a while ago:
Unarmed Fighting: Your unarmed strikes can deal bludgeoning damage equal to 1d6 + your Strength modifier. If you strike with two free hands, the d6 becomes a d8. When you successfully start a grapple, you can deal 1d4 bludgeoning damage to the grappled creature. Until the grapple ends, you can also deal this damage to the creature whenever you hit it with a melee attack

So you do some damage when grappling, and while pummeling your grappled target you deal an extra 1d4. It's not a ton of damage - it'll never outdamage a full 2h warrior - BUT with the added versatility it's NUTS.

The Humblewood game I'm DMing actually has a player doing exactly this build, and at least at these low levels, it's BRUTAL. I love it. It's especially super good because the race they're playing, a Strig (subrace, Stout Strig) has "your unarmed attacks are talons" as a base racial bonus, and this one as well:
Brawler: When you successfully attack a target with your talons, you can choose to grapple that target as a bonus action.
i.e. their race basically includes the Tavern Brawler feat.

So my player can make an 2h unarmed/talon attack for 1d8+str, bonus action to grapple for 1d4. Next turn (or actually, now that they're level 5, second attack on the same turn) they can attack the still-grappled target for 1d6+1d4+str. On any of these attacks, they can use superiority die to add damage and potentially trip the target to the ground, giving advantage to themselves and everyone else.

I had this all planned out for myself as a "someday" build, but when my player chose fighter and expressed interest in doing a brawler/bare-handed fighting style I perked up and laid it all out for them, and they're loving it so far (and so am I).

It doesn't strike me as particularly OP, any more than my small rogue riding my dire-wolf-shifted moon druid does. Is it balanced? I think so, but ultimately I don't know, and I frankly don't care. TTRPGs aren't about "balance" like a MOBA has to be or anything like that. it's about having fun and feeling powerful. Every class can do some bonkers shit, and now a fisticuffs brawler can too. The only "balance" that matters is 1) if you have a build that blows and the player isn't having fun playing it (PHB ranger/champion fighter), 2) there's a build so unique and powerful that a lot of people feel like they basically have no choice but to play it (hexblade dip for anyone who wants to do a fighty caster), or 3) if combat becomes trivially easy such that it's just boring.

The brawler build isn't 1 or 2. As for 3, 5e tends to be pretty dang easy in my experience regardless (at least for players who have even medium experience, and all of my players are pretty highly experienced), and I've had no problem jacking up the base difficulty of the encounters to keep it dangerous and interesting for my players, and I'm still finding ways to DM smarter, not harder (like the Monsters Know What They're Doing book, or a "minions" format I'm trying out). (And like, no matter how hard it gets, they have a moon druid in the party, so it's not like they can ever actually die.)
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
Concerns for future effectiveness:
-Barehanded isn't Magic. Solution: +1 claw weapon. Attacks count as unarmed and count as magical damage. Everyone else gets +1 weapons and it's not like brass knuckles and gauntlets aren't a thing. (There's also an item in, I think it's hoard of the dragon queen, that's a talisman but does the same thing.)
-Not being able to grapple something that's bigger than Large. Could be a problem, but even without grappling, the build is still a relatively normal fighter build that just does slightly less damage. Other potential solutions: player encourages the druid to learn Enlarge/Reduce and embiggen them so they can grapple up to huge. A "Talisman of Brawn" or something that makes you count as large for everything but how much space you take up. I dunno.
-...any others? I dunno. It's cool.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
Yeah, balance exists so that the players are happy with how much their characters can contribute. As long as it’s not making another player feel useless, it should be fine.

My ideas: mystical hand wraps that do magic damage. Hell, let them wrap their hands in spell scrolls.

And a magic item that casts enlarge wouldn’t be too powerful. Enlarge is only a second level spell, after all. Just limit the uses per day and make it a major reward.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
My ideas: mystical hand wraps that do magic damage. Hell, let them wrap their hands in spell scrolls.
The hand-wraps are basically the exact same as the clawed gauntlets, yeah. It's a problem with a simple solution. I'm kind of surprised there aren't any of those already existing in 5e, to be honest.

Now, spell scrolls... THAT could be interesting... Now I'm getting ideas for what the elements monk should have been (as opposed to "garbage") but I think I'm getting off into the woods here. Or an unarmed-fighting wizard (or monk/wizard dual class?) whose spellbook is their own body... Or a sorcerer/monk...

Or I might just design my own Way of Elements subclass fix.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
Wow, that's pretty similar to what I was thinking. It's basically a tacit admission that they fucked up the elemental one from the PHB and are basically trying a do-over.

Also I really want to try playing one of these now.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
Yeah, and the Ranger subclass is a fixed Beastmaster.

One of my players is playing a by-the-book Beastmaster. I offered the revised ranger or alternate class options, but he wanted to try out the original. His wolf got knocked out in the first fight.

I think he’s going to take some of the options that get published in Tasha’s once they’re official though. I feel like the bonus action command to attack, and 5x level + con & wisdom HP instead of just 4x level HP are pretty solid boosts. I’ll make sure that he can get barding & some magic items for his wolf as well.
 

Paul le Fou

Pickle Bus Owns Tulip Town
(He)
I was talking with my friend about the Dargonmaster Ranger, and actually (god help me) started thinking it looked like it could be fun. One thing is that since your bonus action will probably be spent on having your dargon attack, you could actually play melee pretty effectively since you don't need your bonus action for offhand attacks. (Rangers don't get the great weapon fighting style, or that would be a good option too.) But duelist with shield is still pretty rad - you'd be a relatively tanky sword&board fighter with a dragon friend, meaning you can occupy a lot of space to control enemies too. With Duelist 1h attacks, plus your dargon's reaction to add damage to your attack (OR an ally's, basically guaranteeing it lands once/round), and your dargon attacking on its own, you can do some neat tanky-ness. Combined with the Revised Ranger for actually not sucking... That actually sounds like it could be pretty fun.

Now I'm not sure which I want to play more. Psych, it's the monk. But if my zealot barbarian gets a little too boring and "accidentally" falls of a cliff, or retires to go fishing, I could work one of those in... And the party has a monk already and is a little light on tanking, so the ranger w/dragon might be a good choice there.
 

Patrick

Magic-User
(He/Him)
Either of those sound like a lot of fun!

Even though I'm going to be DMing for a while, I've started thinking about my new character. He's going to be a Kobold College of Swords Bard named Knicknack. I was looking into it, and it turns out that Kobolds are really tiny. Like, 2' tall and 25lbs. at the smallest. That's smaller than my dog!

He's going to be wearing half plate and taking the moderately armored feat for a shield (the other DM and I agreed that everyone should get a feat and an ASI at level 4), and using the dueling fighting style with a rapier. I'll have a crossbow too if I need to attack at range. Kobolds have Pack Tactics, so I'll have advantage on most attacks as long as there's an ally nearby and we're not in direct sunlight. And even if we do fight in the sun, pack tactics and sunlight sensitivity cancel each other out. Since I'll be able to do a fair amount of damage with weapons using flourishes and a fighting style, I'm focusing spells on support & out of combat uses:

cantrips: Mage Hand, Minor Illusion, Prestidigitation
1st level: Bane, Comprehend Languages, Healing Word, Tasha's Hideous Laughter
2nd level: Calm Emotions, Invisibility, Silence

He's going to be a sneaky, tricky little bastard. I'm going to carry around caltrops and flasks of oil & such and just get into all kinds of trouble. I'm hoping that our campaign lasts to level 10 so I can steal Tiny Servants from the Wizard list. I'll have a bunch of flasks of acid sprout arms & legs then have them go dump themselves on enemies. Major Image at level 5 is going to be fun, too.
 
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