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My feelings about the Ant-Man movie are complicated. I was really excited about Ant-Man when it was first announced that Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) was going to be directing it. Needless to say I was disappointed when he left due to creative differences with Marvel Studios. So for me Ant-Man will always have to compete with the pure Edgar Wright version of the movie that only exists in my head, and like anytime when reality has to compete with fantasy it is tough for reality to compete.
That said, Ant-Man is a fun movie. Marvel Studios seems to have making superhero movies down to a science now, even when translating their lesser known properties to the screen. Also, with the sheer number of movies Marvel Studios has produced in recent years they have smartly started to play with the genre a bit. The Captain America: The First Avenger was naturally a superhero film mixed with a period piece, but the Captain America: The Winter Soldier was also a mix, this time of superhero film and a spy thriller. Ant-Man is a superhero film mixed with a heist movie.
Like any heist movie, Ant-Man establishes what needs to be stolen, then establishes all the reasons why it is impossible to steal the item. It then has the ringleader establish a crew with specialized skills that can overcome the security around the item to be stolen. Of course, the heist has complications which are only overcome by quick thinking on the part of the crewmembers during the heist. In the end, despite these complications the heist is successful.
Of course, since it is not a pure heist movie Ant-Man also has to fit in time for a traditional superhero origin story and a big supervillain battle before the movie is over. Like Avengers: Age of Ultron it also takes some time away from the main plot to establish ties to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe by having Ant-Man fight an Avenger to get a MacGuffin “needed” for the main heist. Personally, I wish they had kept it closer to the traditional heist film structure and eliminated the battle at the end, merely leaving Darren Cross raging at how Hank Pym had pulled one over on him. I am guessing my opinion is in the minority on this though.
As someone of Latino descent, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk a bit about Luis. Played by Michael Peña, Luis is one of the first* Latino characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While I wish he was more then a comedy sidekick, he is genuinely funny and gets the most to do of any of the secondary characters. Welcome to the MCU Luis, hopefully we will see you in the sequel.
All and all I enjoyed Ant-Man. It had a good mixture of action and humor. I don’t feel it was quite as enjoyable as last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy but I would definitely recommend it to superhero movie fans.
3.5 carpenter ants out of 5
*Maria Hill is Latina in the comics, but in the MCU she is played by a white actress (Cobie Smulders). Conversely, Agent Sitwell is white in the comics, but is played by a Latino actor (Maximiliano Hernández) in the MCU.
Last time, we asked you to tell us which classic D&D settings, character concepts, and character races you want to see updated. Not surprisingly, it turns out that a lot of people cared about these topics, and we had one of our biggest turnouts ever for a survey. So what did we learn?
The popularity of settings in the survey fell into three distinct clusters. Not surprisingly, our most popular settings from prior editions landed at the top of the rankings, with Eberron, Ravenloft, Dark Sun, Planescape, and the Forgotten Realms all proving equally popular. Greyhawk, Dragonlance, and Spelljammer all shared a similar level of second-tier popularity, followed by a fairly steep drop-off to the rest of the settings. My sense is that Spelljammer has often lagged behind the broad popularity of other settings, falling into love-it-or-hate-it status depending on personal tastes. Greyhawk and Dragonlance hew fairly close to the assumptions we used in creating the fifth edition rulebooks, making them much easier to run with material from past editions. Of the top five settings, four require significant new material to function and the fifth is by far our most popular world.
(A few people asked about Al-Qadim in the comments field, since it wasn’t included in the survey. The reason for that is because we think of that setting as part of the Forgotten Realms. Why did Kara-Tur end up on the list, then? Because I make mistakes!)
Before addressing the character types question, it’s important to focus on how we look at this question. The word “type,” as opposed to “class,” is a key part of the query. The concepts embodied by a warden or runepriest could be character classes, or they could be subtypes within a class. For any character type, we’ll try out a few design approaches and see which one works best.
The artificer, the shaman, and the alchemist finished well in front in the survey. The alchemist is particularly interesting because we’ve never presented that as a class in a Player’s Handbook before. The crazy game designer in me thinks that all three of those character types could be represented in a single class (imagine a shaman who binds spirits by creating talismans). But that might just be all the caffeine I’ve consumed today talking.
Most of the remaining options formed a cluster about 10 to 15 points below those leading three. My sense is that the samurai is a pretty good example of how we’ll handle those types, making them most likely to show up as options for existing classes. For instance, a samurai could fall under a fighter archetype that I would tentatively call the devoted defender—a character whose obedience to a code of conduct and unbreakable loyalty makes her an implacable force in battle.
Races fell into three tiers of popularity, with the thri-kreen, the goblin, and the aasimar at the top—an interesting mix. In my own campaigns, I’ve seen people play goblins for comedic value. Thri-kreen are pretty tough to model using our existing races, but are key to the Dark Sun setting. Aasimar would be a lot of fun to work on. Personally, I’d want them to be as interesting and compelling as tieflings. My personal bias might be showing (since aasimars are my favorite race), but it’s easy to make good guys kind of boring and lame. I’d love to recast the aasimar a little bit, giving the race a few unique traits and a visual appearance attuned to a holy avenger out to kick ass.
The next most popular tier of races includes catfolk, devas, githyanki, githzerai, gnolls, half-giants, hobgoblins, kender, kobolds, lizardfolk, pixies, and revenants. Personally, I’d love to pick up Mystara’s rakasta as our catfolk race, but all these options have strong legacies to build on. The less-popular races are by no means off the table, but they’re likely at the back of the R&D queue—and might run the risk of other races beyond those addressed in this survey cutting in line ahead of them.The Latest Survey
This month, our survey looks at the mystic character class and our first draft of psionics rules for fifth edition. Your input is an invaluable tool that helps shape how we develop new material for D&D. If you love the rules, hate them, or have a specific issue you want to address, let us know.Publication date: 07/28/2015Introduction: Once again, it’s time to sound off with your thoughts on D&D.Tags: Featuresexternal_urls: Texture banner: ShowBanner video:
And so, for my husband’s recent milestone birthday, I went all out. A cabin weekend with fifteen friends, and snow and games, and fondue, and yeah, the piñata. And since he’s a nice D&D-loving fellow, I set out to create a special birthday-themed one-off adventure that our extended group of friends could play in.
But this was tricky, for a number of reasons:
- I’m a newish DM, and rather scared of writing my own adventures.
- Turnout was a crapshoot. I might get thirteen people interested in playing, or three.
- Only some of the party attendees had ever played anything resembling D&D.
But I knew it could be great, because:
- Birthday themed adventure = fun + funny, right!?
- Party-planning adrenaline and optimism kicked in.
- Friends and coworkers took pity on me and offered to help.
After I decided to add this D&D game to my party itinerary, I spent a lot of time online looking for setting and plot ideas. Since I didn’t know in advance how many of my friends might want to join the game—and with so many of them being new to roleplaying—I needed an adventure that was flexible, fast, and straightforward. But above all else, it needed to be interesting. Those were a lot of notes to hit, and I worried that my first test as an adventure writer might be too great a challenge.
Enter Hero Number One. After sending some pings out in the office looking for help finding a setting, Greg Bilsland reached out and suggested I leverage Confrontation at Candlekeep. This adventure was run at GenCon in 2013, and it featured a multitable, multiphase cooperative plot that could be scaled up or down depending on attendance. Convention-caliber storytelling and classic D&D flavor. Bingo.CHARACTERS
Confrontation at Candlekeep was also a great choice because it was written for 2nd-level characters. Since almost all my potential players were new, this seemed like a good fit. After all, it’s one level more interesting than 1st level, but the characters’ abilities aren’t so complex that play becomes overwhelming.
I knew, however, that even 2nd-level characters would be hard for such a large group of new players to create on their own. Creating and adjusting characters can be a highlight of the game, but when I look back on my early days as a player, I remember one thing: creating a character is hard. Before I knew what D&D really was, or how it was actually played, I remember how daunting it felt to try to wade through a myriad of options and come up with something that wouldn’t embarrass my new shiny d20. Never mind dreaming up a character who would be effective against deadly traps or an orc raid.
I decided that if I wanted a decent chance at convincing my friends they could totally handle (and enjoy!) a game of D&D, I would need to skip character building. That meant pregens. Luckily for me, Greg also sent me a bunch of pregenerated character sheets, so I printed out a nice variety of adventurers and thanked him. Now I didn’t have “Create a zillion different characters” on my to-do list.PARTY CONFIGURATION
Any way I sliced it, I knew that splitting the players into multiple tables was my best bet. New players, being new and all, can sometimes need extra time on their turns as they get the feel for the game and their characters. And since I always want to show off D&D at its best (and hopefully hook people into the game), I especially wanted to avoid the adventure getting bogged down by a long turn order.
Luckily, one of my good friends—a D&D lore expert, as well as a player in the ongoing campaign I’m currently running—became Hero Number Two and offered to run a second table if needed.THE HOOK
Confrontation at Candlekeep drops an oddball collection of characters into a classic D&D locale, and then challenges them with an immediate threat that they must eliminate to save the keep. When cultists of Asmodeus infiltrate Candlekeep’s famous library, the adventurers are split into parties by the head monk, tasked with raising wards and seeking and fighting off enemies in various areas of the keep.
The full adventure has two forty-five-minute phases. I decided to run only one of those phases, hoping this would allow us to complete the game in an hour and a half (we had a busy party itinerary). The first phase had content for eight challenges around the library that the adventuring parties could be tasked with. It was difficult to choose which areas to send the parties into, but I ended up selecting two that met my criteria:
- They taxed both brawn and brains.
- They featured interesting enemies to take down (acolytes lurking in closets, giant stone frogs, and so on).
- They paired together well and drove the parties to meet up for the surprise ending (read on for that one).
We ended up with seven players who stayed up late enough to take part in the adventure. Rather than explain the whole adventure process at once, I decided to dole out information piecemeal. All the players knew what D&D was as a rough concept, but they didn’t know what a game actually looked or felt like. I decided to abide by the storytelling advice of “show, don’t tell.” It went something like this:
- Gather together.
- Bathroom break and regather.
- Let everyone pick a character sheet. Most players chose their characters based on a quick glance at name and background. But for those who wanted more information, I offered up quick explanations of character stats and how they impacted the game, particularly combat.
- Assume the character of the head monk of Candlekeep and introduce the setting.
- Divide the players into two parties. I split up spouses and mixed new and experienced players to heighten the ragtag nature of the challenges.
- Ensure at least one person at the table, besides the DM, knew what in the world was going on.
- Protect the keep! Our intrepid adventurers, having split up to fight doppelgangers and mercenaries, were also tasked with recovering a mysterious spellbook and activating a precious runestone. Once the parties brought these magical items back together at the shrine of Oghma, the head monk would use them in a feat of magic to protect the keep.
As the game unfolded, I’m happy to say that I learned a few things. First, “sink or swim” works well with eager participants. I and my assisting DM launched into the story right away. Initially, this was confronted with two or three faces full of “So . . . what do I do?” But once we pointed out one or two actions their characters could take, the players ran with it.
Second, lack of spellcasting simplifies things. By happenstance, only one person out of seven chose a spellcaster as a character (a minimally magic paladin). This ended up being a boon, since we had only two Player’s Handbooks and didn’t need to worry about multiple players needing to look up spells at the same time. Because the adventure was short and had plenty of flavor, the lack of splashy magic didn’t seem to dull the experience.
Lastly, it was great to see roleplaying come from unexpected sources. My friends are totally rad, but though I knew they’d be good-natured about playing, I didn’t expect some of them to so wholly embrace their characters and the setting. As players, they slipped into the skins of their half-orcs and wood elves, so that every action and decision was in step with their backgrounds and stats. It was so cool.SURPRISE!
If I were asked to visualize what I enjoy about D&D, it might look something like this:
I wanted my game to celebrate all these things. And so although it was lucky to have an adventure like Confrontation at Candlekeep written and available, I also knew I wanted to adjust and rewrite sections to boost the flavor and foreshadow a surprise birthday-themed ending, all wrapped up in a neat package. This included small adjustments, such as describing how light in the keep was cast by multicolored balloon-like orbs floating in the halls, or noting that thirty candles flickered to life when the runestone was activated on a round stone altar. But the big reveal happened at the end.
With the magic items brought to the shrine, the head monk (me) and his acolyte (my DM friend) used them to try to raise “the great shield” that would protect the library from further intrusion. As both parties watched, with fallen cultists at their feet and the sounds of battle raging outside the keep, the monks began chanting unintelligible syllables out of the spellbook. Alas, they had not the power to raise the shield. Not alone. So they turned to the adventurers and beseeched them to add their strength and join in a slow chant:
HAaaaaa PPYeeeeeB IRrrrrrrrTHD AaaaaaYT Oooooo YOUuuuuuu (Repeat)
It took a little while for our friends to realize what they were chanting, but when they did, we sped up the chant and started singing the birthday song for real. With the players laughing, we finished the song and described a thundering crash outside the keep and the thirty candles blowing out. When more colorful orbs appeared to bring the room out of darkness, magical confetti started falling from the rafters, and all the ‘dead’ enemies stood up smiling, giving each other high fives and hugging my husband’s bewildered character. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!REFLECTIONS
Of course, after the fact, I thought of a whole heap of other ways I could have flavored a birthday adventure. (I still can’t believe I didn’t dress all the enemies in pointy cone hats.) That said, I think I hit a good balance, because none of the players realized the true nature of the adventure until its enjoyable end. Moreover, my edits worked, my hooks stuck, gameplay was entertaining, and I now have a new batch of D&D initiates ready for a new adventure.
About the Author
Katy Laurance is a senior business intelligence analyst for Wizards of the Coast, and well on her way to lifelong D&D fandom. Not even her love of code and charts can get in the way of a good tabletop game. She’s also a dab hand with a glue gun.Publication date: 07/28/2015Introduction: Birthday parties are kind of my thing. Streamers and piñatas. Costumed pub crawls and Nerf gun battles. Homemade cakes frosted to look like farm scenes, Transformers, or the Seahawks logo. Not to mention to-do lists and shopping lists and color-coded production schedules. All. Of. It.Tags: Behind the Screensexternal_urls: Texture banner: HideBanner video:
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Demons of pure hunger and gluttony, Voraciliths devour anything in their path, even their own kind!
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Remnants of an ancient race, Torrians are less bestial than their appearance would suggest.
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It plays the pipes of war.
Glidion: High Elf Wizard (Enchanter) who exaggerates stories of his past triumphs. Unwitting pawn of the Zhentarim.
Gracealyn “Darkeyes” Droverson: Tethyarian Human Noble Fighter (Champion) who seeks to restore her lost family fortunes. Member of the Lords Alliance.
Milo Miller: Lightfoot Halfling Cleric of Pelor (Life Domain). Seeks to spread worship of his god to Faerun. Watcher of the Harpers.
Salazar Tomoki: Shou Human Monk (Way of the Open Hand). Hermit who walks Faerun seeking enlightenment like Caine from Kung Fu.
Wrenna: Forest Gnome Rogue (Thief). Little is known of Wrenna’s past other then that she has been on the wrong side of the law from a young age.Recap
Having defeated the gargoyles and deciding that their suspicions about the monastery being a haven for evil were correct, the party decided to throw caution to the wind. Well, not entirely to the wind as Wrenna snuck a peak into the central temple area prior to the group kicking open the doors. Wrenna reported that there were a priest and two guards inside gathered around an altar at the far end, with four large columns of natural stone dominating the room and a large set of stairs heading down in the center.
The party seized the initiative and attacked. Glidion lead the attack with a fireball to “soften them up”, followed quickly by the a fleet-footed and stealthy Salazar armed with shurikens. Wrenna used her bow to great effect while Darkeyes was less effective with her javelin as she tried to close the gap. Milo used a guiding bolt of magic to both attack and assist his comrades. Glidion was able to take down the weakened priest and guards using magic to put them to sleep.
Tying the three up, they proceeded to wake the priest and interrogate him. The priest, a man named Qarbo, was quite talkative if openly contemptuous of his captors. He told the group that no matter what they did, they could not stop the rise of the Cult of the Black Earth. When asked if the Cult of Black Earth was behind the attack on the party by monks wearing wingwear, he spat and said those “vulture riding fools from the Cult of Howling Hatred” were weak and would be “the first to fall when the Black Earth ascended”. When asked what was below, Qarbo told the party to “go down and find out, but do not be surprised if the Black Earth devours you.” Having enough of his attitude, Darkeyes literally picked him up by the ankles and shook him, and was gratified when a pair of keys on a chain around his neck fell to the ground.
Meanwhile the group discovered a bronze lever close to the altar. Wrenna could not determine its purpose, but Glidion had a hypotheses it might have to do with the stairs. Deciding to test this, the party placed the three tied up cultists on the edge of the stairs. Qarbo was asked if he had anything to say before the lever was pulled. While he looked nervous, he did not give the party any more information. The lever was pulled, the stairs collapsed, and the three cultists slid into the darkness below. More mechanical noises were heard in the distance, followed by screams, followed by a clacking, scrabbling noise as the umber hulk below tried to make it up the ramp. The party decided it was best to explore elsewhere.
Leaving out the small doors to the west, the party entered a hallway with Wrenna in the lead. Her sensitive gnomish nose detected the smell of baking bread. Making their way through the empty dining area, the group entered the kitchen where four monks in dun colored robes were preparing food. Seeing the party they hastily donned gargoyle masks and attacked. The monks proved no match for the party however, and once they were vanquished the party use the opportunity to restock their provisions. The deceased monks were also liberated of their robes and masks.
Heading back out the way they came and travelling south, Wrenna listened at a door and heard some people speaking in what she thought was a dialect of dwarvish. Darkeyes decided to have a little fun, donned a gargoyle mask, put a (poorly fitting) robe over her armor, and charged into the room to attack. The dwarves, actually duergar, were taken off guard by this unorthodox attack. Only three of the six duergar in the room were awake and the group worked to push their advantage while they could. Two of the duergar used the strange powers innate to their race to grow to gigantic proportions. Regardless, the party took the day and defeated the evil dwarves.
Continuing their explorations, the party found another dormitory with four sleeping monks who were slaughtered before they were even fully awake. The group then discovered the sleeping quarters of the priest and his guards they encountered earlier. One of the keys they had liberated from the priest opened an iron coffer containing priestly vestments, gold bracelets, and several magical scrolls which were claimed by Glidion.
To be continued…
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Some necromancers take the twisted remains of stillborn infants and preserve them, reanimating them as foul, poisonous creatures.
Yes, this means that Pathfinder has dead baby jokes.
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Pesadelo é não tentar! Alma de Boneca: 2149b.iluria.com ❤
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In today's episode, R&D's Chris Perkins takes a look at the game’s continuing campaign storylines. Then, Tom Olsen and Susan Morris join us to discuss the subject of teaching and playing D&D with kids.PodcastRelated content: Rage of Demonsexternal_urls: External url: http://media.wizards.com/2015/podcasts/dnd/DnDPodcast_07_24_2015.mp3External url description: Kids & Stories Podcast Texture banner: ShowBanner video:
In some ways Wizards of the Coast has made great strides in supporting electronic gaming. They have been steadily releasing their impressive back catalog in PDF through the D&D Classics website. The D&D Basic rules are available as a free download from the Wizards of the Coast website. They provide officially licensed content for the Fantasy Grounds which gives them a virtual table top, a character creation tool, and even a digital distribution tool for their books. Despite these strides though, there is currently no way to legally buy the D&D 5e Core Rule Books in a PDF format. This is frankly unbelievable in the year 2015.
PDFs are important. While there may be some issues with PDFs, the format has been around since 1993 (22years) at this point. It is an open format, which means there are a plethora of PDF readers available, and they are available for any OS on the market. PDF is the standard for RPG books, and indeed most reference style books.
No offense to the Fantasy Grounds guys, but I will be extremely impressed if it is still available in 22 years to read the content Wizards of the Coast has made available through their license. Also, launching Fantasy Grounds just to read the core rule books is frankly overkill. While it is a competent virtual table top, it would be crazy to invest the money in Fantasy Grounds if all you want is the books in an electronic format.
So what is wrong with just reading the physical books that Wizards of the Coast is publishing? It is not that there is anything wrong with them, but PDFs have advantages that make them more practical for many people. For starters, they don’t take up as much space. It is easy to bring your entire library of game books over to someone’s house in digital format, obviously not if they are physical books. It is amazing how much space these books take up. When I moved to Arizona, my gaming books filled more than twenty banker boxes, most of which are still stacked up in my garage! For many people, storing this many books is simply not practical.
PDFs are also easily searchable, which helps both with game prep and when looking up a rule during the game. Can’t remember how grappling works in D&D 5e? Just type in “grappling” into the search box and you will have the answer in seconds. Lets say you are entering your character into Roll20. While you can retype all your spells by hand, cutting and pasting them from a PDF is a real time saver. Believe it or not, PDFs are a competitive advantage in today’s market place, and are one of the primary reasons why the Lords of Tyr switched to Pathfinder for one of our two regular games.
What about piracy? Well, not making legal PDFs has not stopped that from happening. Illegal copies of all the current D&D 5e books are readily available online if you want them. The only people prevented from getting PDF versions of D&D 5e books right now are those who want to pay for them.
Look, I like the beautiful, high quality physical books Wizards of the Coast produces as much the next guy. Even if PDF versions of the core rulebooks were available, I am sure I would have bought both the physical and PDF versions of these books, especially if Wizards of the Coast offered a physical and PDF bundle like most RPG companies do nowadays. PDFs would also make me much more likely to try out books that I am not certain I would want to take up room on my ever more precious shelf space.
So come on Wizards of the Coast…
Explore the Sword Coast in this campaign sourcebook for the world’s greatest roleplaying game.Description:
WELCOME TO THE SWORD COAST—a region of Faerûn that comprises shining paragons of civilization and culture, perilous locales fraught with dread and evil, and encompassing them all, a wilderness that offers every explorer vast opportunity and simultaneously promises great danger.
While the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide is a valuable resource for Dungeon Masters, it was crafted with players and their characters foremost in mind. There is a plethora of new character options to intrigue and inspire every member of the adventuring party.
For use with the fifth edition Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide, the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide provides the setting, story, and character options needed to participate in a game anywhere along the Sword Coast of the Forgotten Realms.Image thumbnail: Image left: Banner: Game type: RPG ProductsRelease date: 11/03/2015Price ($): USD39.95Price (C$): CAD46.00Banner video:
Get everything you need to adventure in the Forgotten Realms on the exciting Sword Coast, home to the cities of Baldur’s Gate, Waterdeep, and Neverwinter! A collaboration between Green Ronin Publishing and the Dungeons & Dragons team at Wizards of the Coast, the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide provides D&D fans with a wealth of detail on the places, cultures, and deities of northwestern Faerûn.
The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide is also a great way to catch up on recent events in the Forgotten Realms, to get background on locations featured in the Rage of Demons storyline coming in September, and to learn the lore behind video games like Neverwinter and Sword Coast Legends.
Here are just a few of the features you’ll find in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide:
- Immersive Adventuring: This campaign sourcebook provides players and Dungeon Masters material for creating vibrant fantasy stories along the Sword Coast.
- New Character Options: The book offers new subclass options, such as the Purple Dragon Knight and the Swashbuckler, for many of the classes presented in the Player’s Handbook, as well as new subraces and backgrounds specific to the Forgotten Realms.
- Adventure in the Forgotten Realms: Discover the current state of the Forgotten Realms and its deities after the Spellplague and the second Sundering. You’ll also get updated maps of this area of the Realms.
- Compatible with Rage of Demons storyline: Make characters for use with the Out of the Abyss adventure and fight back the influence of the demon lords in the Underdark below the Sword Coast.
- Insider Information: Learn the background behind locations, such as Luskan and Gracklstugh, featured in the upcoming digital RPG, Sword Coast Legends, from n-Space.
With new character backgrounds and class options, players will love the storytelling possibilities of playing a noble of Waterdeep, an elf bladesinger, or one of the other new options, while Dungeon Masters will relish a book full of mysterious locations and story hooks to keep players adventuring on the Sword Coast for years to come.
Look for the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide to be available on November 3.Publication date: 07/22/2015Introduction: New class options, character backgrounds, and deity descriptions from the Forgotten Realms.Tags: NewsRelated content: Sword Coast Legendsexternal_urls: Texture banner: ShowBanner video:
After last month’s rules roundup, we return to the main work of Sage Advice: answering D&D rules questions. For the foreseeable future, I’ll use Sage Advice to gather rules answers I’ve given on Twitter, and I’ll often expand on those answers, since here I’m not limited to 140 characters! Each month, I’ll also continue to answer questions from the Sage Advice inbox.
Is the Dueling fighting style intended to support a shield? Yes. A character with the Dueling option usually pairs a one-handed weapon with a shield, a spellcasting focus, or a free hand.
Does Uncanny Dodge work automatically against every attack a rogue or ranger gets hit by? Spell attacks too? A use of Uncanny Dodge works against only one attack, since it expends your reaction, and only if you can see the attacker. It works against attacks of all sorts, including spell attacks, but it is no help against a spell or other effect, such as fireball, that delivers its damage through a saving throw rather than an attack roll.
Does a monk need to spend any ki points to cast minor illusion granted by the Shadow Arts feature? No. The ki point cost in the feature applies only to the other spells in it.
Does a monk’s Purity of Body feature grant immunity to poison damage, the poisoned condition, or both? That feature grants immunity to both. As a result, a monk with Purity of Body can, for example, inhale a green dragon’s poison breath unharmed.
Does a sorcerer’s Wild Magic Surge effect replace the effect of the spell that triggered it, or do both effects happen? The spell and the Wild Magic Surge effect both happen.
Does the warlock’s Awakened Mind feature allow two-way telepathic communication? The feature is intended to provide one-way communication. The warlock can use the feature to speak telepathically to a creature, but the feature doesn’t give that creature the ability to telepathically reply. In contrast, the telepathy ability that some monsters have (MM, 9) does make two-way communication possible.
Is an abjurer’s Arcane Ward healed only when the ward has 0 hit points? The ward regains hit points whenever the abjurer casts an abjuration spell of 1st level or higher, not just when the ward has 0 hit points.
Does casting alarm as a ritual heal Arcane Ward? Any abjuration spell of 1st level or higher cast by an abjurer can restore hit points to his or her Arcane Ward. As is normal for healing, the ward can’t regain more hit points than its hit point maximum: twice the wizard’s level + the wizard’s Intelligence modifier.
How does Arcane Ward interact with temporary hit points and damage resistance that an abjurer might have? An Arcane Ward is not an extension of the wizard who creates it. It is a magical effect with its own hit points. Any temporary hit points, immunities, or resistances that the wizard has don’t apply to the ward.
The ward takes damage first. Any leftover damage is taken by the wizard and goes through the following game elements in order: (1) any relevant damage immunity, (2) any relevant damage resistance, (3) any temporary hit points, and (4) real hit points.
Does the wizard’s Potent Cantrip feature apply to cantrips with attack rolls or only to saves? Potent Cantrip affects only cantrips that require a saving throw, such as acid splash and poison spray.Combat
Can a bonus action be used as an action or vice versa? For example, can a bard use a bonus action to grant a Bardic Inspiration die and an action to cast healing word? No. Actions and bonus actions aren’t interchangeable. In the example, the bard could use Bardic Inspiration or healing word on a turn, not both.
How does a reach weapon work with opportunity attacks? An opportunity attack is normally triggered when a creature you can see moves beyond your reach (PH, 195). If you want to make an opportunity attack with a reach weapon, such as a glaive or a halberd, you can do so when a creature leaves the reach you have with that weapon. For example, if you’re wielding a halberd, a creature that is right next to you could move 5 feet away without triggering an opportunity attack. If that creature tries to move an additional 5 feet—beyond your 10-foot reach—the creature then triggers an opportunity attack.
Can you use the Ready action to take the Dash action on someone else’s turn and then combine the Charger feat with it? No, since you can’t take a bonus action on someone else’s turn.Spellcasting
Can spell attacks score critical hits? A spell attack can definitely score a critical hit. The rule on critical hits applies to attack rolls of any sort.
If I have 10 temporary hit points and I take 30 damage from an attack while concentrating on a spell, what is the DC of the Constitution save to maintain my concentration? The DC is 15 in that case. When temporary hit points absorb damage for you, you’re still taking damage, just not to your real hit points.
In contrast, a feature like the wizard’s Arcane Ward can take damage for you, potentially eliminating the need to make a Constitution saving throw or, at least, lowering the DC of that save.
When you cast a spell like conjure woodland beings, does the spellcaster or the DM choose the creatures that are conjured? A number of spells in the game let you summon creatures. Conjure animals, conjure celestial, conjure minor elementals, and conjure woodland beings are just a few examples.
Some spells of this sort specify that the spellcaster chooses the creature conjured. For example, find familiar gives the caster a list of animals to choose from.
Other spells of this sort let the spellcaster choose from among several broad options. For example, conjure minor elementals offers four options. Here are the first two:
- One elemental of challenge rating 2 or lower
- Two elementals of challenge rating 1 or lower
The design intent for options like these is that the spellcaster chooses one of them, and then the DM decides what creatures appear that fit the chosen option. For example, if you pick the second option, the DM chooses the two elementals that have a challenge rating of 1 or lower.
A spellcaster can certainly express a preference for what creatures shows up, but it’s up to the DM to determine if they do. The DM will often choose creatures that are appropriate for the campaign and that will be fun to introduce in a scene.
If I cast shillelagh on my quarterstaff and have the Polearm Master feat, does the bonus attack use a d4 or a d8 for damage? The bonus attack uses a d4. That attack is a function of the feat, not the weapon being used.Monsters
Is natural armor considered light armor? No. Natural armor doesn’t fit into the categories of light, medium, and heavy armor, and when you have it, it isn’t considered to be an armor you’re wearing.
Does natural armor cap a creature’s Dexterity bonus? Natural armor doesn’t limit a creature’s Dexterity bonus.Sage Advice Compendium
This month’s questions and answers are now part of the Sage Advice Compendium.
Bio: Jeremy Crawford is the co-lead designer of fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. He was the lead designer of the new Player’s Handbook and one of the leads on the Dungeon Master’s Guide. He has worked on many other D&D books since coming to Wizards of the Coast in 2007. You can reach him on Twitter (@JeremyECrawford).Publication date: 07/20/2015Introduction: Conjurations, Arcane Ward, reach weapons, and more!Tags: Sage AdviceRelated content: Column_SageAdviceexternal_urls: External url: http://media.wizards.com/2015/downloads/dnd/SA_Compendium_1.01.pdfExternal url description: Sage Advice Compendium Texture banner: ShowBanner video:
The Lords of Tyr have been using virtual table tops (VTT) in our games from pretty much the creation of the category. Early on we used kLoOge.Werks, but ended up switching to MapTools pretty quickly. MapTools was our mainstay until recently, but as support for that tool seems to be winding down, we have been looking elsewhere for our virtual table top needs.
Roll20 was one of the first alternatives we checked out, and honestly one of the best. So I thought it might be good to give it an thorough review for anyone out there who is thinking of using it.OS Support
Roll20 is a web hosted Virtual Table Top. That means that if you have a computer with a modern browser, you can use it regardless of whether you have Windows, Mac, or Linux. This is great for a group like the Lords of Tyr where all three of the aforementioned operating systems are represented at the table. There are also apps for iOS and Android, although I haven’t really used them enough to give a decent review of them.Game System Support
By default, Roll20 is system agnostic. It provides you with the basics of a VTT (map, grid, tokens) and character sheets to which you can assign various attributes and abilities. These can then be referenced in macros which you create, allowing you to simplify your game play.
This only tells half the story though because there are a large number of community created character sheet templates which can be applied to a campaign and that will do most of this work for you. Since they are created by the community, generally the more popular the game the better the character sheet. The character sheet templates we have used for our D&D 5e and Pathfinder games are very robust and professional looking. However, the template we used for the Dragon Age RPG was a bit less polished (e.g., strength was misspelled, poor font choice), although in all fairness it did do the job.Play Experience
Since Roll20 is web hosted, there is minimal setup. The GM and the players need only create accounts on the Roll20 website and login. Unlike traditional client/server VTT setups, there is no need to worry about opening ports on your router for NAT traversal, something that can trip up less tech savvy GMs. However, this does mean that if the website is down, you aren’t playing. We also would occasionally have issues where a specific player’s screen would not update and we had to have them hit refresh on the browser.
Game play is generally pretty smooth. The GM controls what maps the players can see. Die rolls can either be made through the GUI or by a simple chat command (e.g., “/roll 1d20+5”). The turn counter is pretty generic in order to keep it as system agnostic as possible, but works really well with the initiative based games I have played on Roll20. It even allows you to keep track of durations by adding an item with an incrementing counter (e.g., “Flaming Sphere 1).
The Roll20 team prides itself on using a high entropy random number generator. They even provide statistics on the website of every roll made just to show how perfectly random everything is, which is handy to show players who have had one too many fumbles in a game session.
Roll20 also has built in chat, video, and audio (using WebRTC). You can also run Roll20 inside of a Google Hangout, but personally I found I had too much lag when I did that.GM Preparation
The GM creates an account on the Roll20 website and starts a campaign. Maps, tokens, and other bits of virtual set dressing can be uploaded to the site or acquired from the Roll20 Marketplace (both free and for a nominal charge).
Maps you have created are shown across the top of the screen. These maps have three layers: a map layer, a GM layer, and a token layer. The map layer is where you put everything that you want the players to see but not interact with. The GM layer is where you put things that only the GM should see. These can be things like monster tokens, pit traps, or room numbers. When it becomes appropriate to reveal these things they can be moved to either the map layer or the token layer. The token layer has objects that can be interacted with, although who can manipulate a token is still limited by who owns it.
There is also a dynamic lighting layer available to people who have either a supporter or mentor level subscription. Dynamic lighting is an advanced feature which limits what the players can see of the map based on their light sources and line of sight. This layer where you define light sources and objects that block the players line of sight like walls.
When players are logged in you can either present all players a map by moving a virtual bookmark called ‘Players’ to the appropriate map, or drag individual players to a screen if the party decides to split up. I have found it useful to have a generic page to park the player bookmark on when I am not using a map.
Players, NPCs, and Handouts all reside on the right hand side. Like tokens, who can see or edit these items are controlled by access control lists (ACLs). So if I want anyone to see a handout I set ‘all players’ as being able to see, but leave able to edit blank (the GM always has access). All of these items can be organized by folders, but are also searchable by name or by tag (you define both). Tagging monsters can be very useful if you want to bring up a specific category of creature (e.g., undead, goblinoid, etc).
Maps, players, NPCs, and handouts can all be archived if you want to get them out of the way but don’t want to delete them. I find I archive pretty much everything except what I think I will need in a given session, since bringing items back is just a couple of mouse clicks.Cost
You can sign up and use Roll20 for free. While not every feature is available at the free level, it is surprisingly usable without paying a dime. The main limitations are you only have 100 MB of storage and no access to advanced features like dynamic lighting or tablet support.
You can upgrade to the Supporter ($4.99/month or $49.99 /year) level or Mentor($9.99/month or $99/year) level if you choose. Supporter basically gives you 1 GB of storage, dynamic lighting, and tablet support. Mentor gives you 2 GB of storage plus features like access to the Roll20 API and the ability to get support from the development team.
One nice feature is that if you have access to a feature, anyone joining your campaign has access to that feature. For example, if I have access to dynamic lighting and use it in my campaign, none of my players need anything but the free level to use the feature.
There is also the Roll20 market place where you can purchase community created tokens, maps, and modules for a nominal fee. Alternatively, if you are a content creator, you can sell your wares here.
Personally, I joined up at the Supporter level and found it more then met my needs. My fellow GM Chad joined at the Mentor level. None of the other players used anything but the free level of Roll20.Customer Support
Roll20 has a wiki and a robust community supporting it. I was able to learn how to use the interface via YouTube tutorials and how to create all the macros I needed by reading up on them in the wiki. Users who have Mentor status are able to get support via email from the developers, but since I am only Supporter level I cannot comment on it.Community
Roll20 has a great community. It also provides excellent tools for finding players or games built right into the website. Since I have a group I play with regularly I haven’t really taken advantage of these myself, but from what I have heard the ease with which you can find players or games is one of the big selling points of Roll20.Final Thoughts
I love Roll20. I think a web based VTT is the way to go and it continues to get better. The interface is also more modern feeling then pretty much any other VTT on the market. That said, I am not currently using Roll20 for my ongoing Princes of the Apocalypse game. Why not? Well, that will be the topic of a future Virtual Table Top review.
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ridureyu1 has added a photo to the pool:
This Dreamblade figure inspired the Fire Archon/Myrmidon in Dungeons & Dragons.