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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

World-building for #dndnext again, in #13thAge style!


So 13th Age, as you may have read, revolutionized my way of looking at fantasy settings and cooperative storytelling within them.

The concept of Icons intended as powers that have clear (or murky, but definedly so) relationships with each other, and with which the player characters can have in their turn defined relationships with, kind of stated the obvious about world-building, but in a "why haven't I thought it before" kind of way.

My own "infinite project" named World of Cthon started as an alternative cosmology for D&D. The key idea was putting all the planes of existence inside a single material world, with defined spatial and temporal relationships with each other. That is to say: Heaven is a place on earth. And Hell too.
Such a "pocket-size" cosmology naturally implies an "assumed setting". That is, it's not just a guideline regarding planes, but it strongly suggests a story, and stories have characters.
The most influential of these characters are the three major families of gods of Cthon, that are beings sometimes defined as godly, sometimes not, throughout the whole history of D&D (if keeping the original D&D flavor).
In what I wanted to be a heads-up to real anthropology, the three families of gods represent/define three periods of time.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

#13thAge is Awesome! Plus my #Ravnica #dndnext character in 13th Age


With this very self-explanatory title, I basically gave you my personal review of Heinsoo and Tweet's great "advanced D&D vision" that is 13th Age.

Two things in particular blew my mind, and they're the elements that are advanced in the field of story-telling devices that the game offers to both players and GMs.
Backgrounds and Icons.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Final public #dndnext playtest: big likes & proposed fixes


So the largest RPG playtesting of human history and probably the whole galaxy has ended.

This "review" of mine will be very short hopefully, and bullet-point structured, to make it both as easily readable and as bull's-eye-aiming as possible.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A hopefully constructive critic on the announced #dndnext multiclassing


The readers that know me know this already, but those of you who read about my characters here could easily understand it too: I'm a GREAT fan of multiclassing.

We didn't have any multiclassing rules (and we still have to wait till the next package), but all my characters always try to be at the very least two archetypes at once. It's my way of seeing an interesting character, much before a gamist approach: to me, a realistic character has tried different paths in his/her life, some with more success than others, and the final result is something unique, with limitations but also strengths, and for sure with a lot of variety. Being like this myself, I can't help representing this (very general and adaptable) trait into the vast majority of my (many) characters.

Monday, August 12, 2013

#Ravnica Guildmages as new #dndnext Cleric Domains!


So the Cleric has gone through some major changes in the last packet, and my Ravnican guildmages got pretty much obsolete and needed a complete rework, the first part of which is here!

The biggest change was to Channel Divinity, now an encounter resource. I like the change quite a lot, but the balancing of the abilities you can activate through it must change. It's not anymore something more or less equivalent to a 1st to 2nd level spell, that scales with level. It must be a bit lower than that, and it must be something that every battle will see the use of without getting too easy because of it. At the same time, it is a one-shot per encounter, so it would be tricky to balance it out if I hadn't got any examples. Luckily, we all have the guidelines in front of our eyes, via the existing features!

Another change is a "fixed" feature you get even before the Channel Divinity (in one case I ignore this and tie it to the rapidly following Channel Divinity feature), and some bonus proficiencies, namely cantrips OR armor/weapons.

So without further ado, here they are, in the same order as before, which is just the order in which I made them and represents my familiarity and ease with the guild and its corresponding mechanics!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A #Ravnica #Simic #dndnext Monk - Plus my take on the latest rules!


Hello folks!
I guess this blog is becoming a lot like a "let me tell you about my cats", with cats being my characters... But anyway, I always try to push the system a bit and pull off some archetypes that at a first glance are not doable.

As always, the inspiration comes from a picture, which comes from a Ravnica card that is not properly Simic, but depicts a Simic character.


How cool is that, first of all?? In my mind, it is clearly a monk (also notice the resemblance with the iconic D&D 4e Githzerai Monk), and it is clearly repelling some spell.

Couldn't help noticing that the current Monk's "Way of The Four Elements" tradition has the water themed ability focused on saving throws. But honestly, it's also the most boring ability. So what about giving the magic-resistant theme through race instead? The new Gnome has exactly that.

So making a medium-sized Gnome represent this Elf or Human mutant (perhaps even Merfolk, who knows) is a very doable choice. Return to normal speed, but leave the weapon restrictions in place to represent his frailty. Take the Forest Gnome subrace and we also have animal-speaking (quite fitting for a Simic) and the Minor Illusion cantrip, which could be easily replaced by Prestidigitation to stay more in-theme.

So the Monk's elemental choice can now become the flashy Fire Riposte one, which could also be a second take on the picture. Alternatively, if I could start at a higher level, I'd still take the "signature" Shelter of the Flowing River first (which combined with Gnome's feature covers all saving throws, basically), and then opt for Flames of The Phoenix at 6th level.

The feat choice is a bit hard, but to stick to Simic flavor, I would add some magic for sure. And in particular, I'd take the Divine Initiate feat and take Resistance (to capitalize even more on Saves), and Sacred Flame, which I'd reflavor as a "biomancy" power dealing with spontaneous combustion..! The first level spell would be Bless, which I would reflavor as the incarnation of Simic's "Evolve" ability.

As for the Background, I'd go Sage, and take Natural and Magical Lore. The Expertise Die would be of course assigned to Wisdom checks, to better represent the mystical nature of the character.

Now, would I like to play this character? The Monk class has become pretty mature and interesting compared to previous incarnations, but honestly something is missing, and it's basically the first level feat for me. I really miss that, especially considering characters such as this get an even slower feat progression than most. With a first level feat, I would have certainly taken either Alert or Loremaster, adding a lot of flavor to the character.
Repeating a well-known error of previous editions, D&D Next still forces the player to choose between combat and non-combat features (feats), which are very difficult to balance, and even when balanced, one simply feels too bad about choosing.
I think D&D Next sorely needs to expand on the Background concept to make it more like the 4e's Themes, and have it advance with levels, granting a choice of non-combat features, while leaving the Feats to represent truly combat/power related things that are truly measurable in terms of Ability Score Improvement that you give away.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Solanyt, my #Simic and #Dimir #dndnext Assassin - A day in the life


My dear DM Gonzalo asked a cool thing before starting the campaign. A write up of a typical day in the life of our characters. This is an update of my previous post, taking in consideration the changes to the D&D Next playtest rules, which made me reconsider the class to be used (abandoning homebrew stuff, MOSTLY), and also the weapon, since the katana is now just a common longsword. And since I'm changing the weapon, even the ability scores of Solanyt needed tweaking.
So here we go!

UPDATE!
Retouched and modified artwork, a better write-up of the D&D Next definitions of Bonds, Flaws, Ideal, and Personality Traits, and a few modifications to the day in the life that could be hints of a better in-game representation of Solanyt..!

____________________________________

"Dawns are always extra foggy around Zonots, and I always wake up at dawn, always in my Zonot. Screening for my krasis wings is mandatory each day, and within my "beloved" Crypsis clade, screenings and briefings are always scheduled for early morning. A stupid contraddiction since we work mostly at night, but then again the Simic are drowning in contraddictions, much more than they drown under water.

The Crypsis clade's job is to "develop strategies for obscuring other guilds' views of the Simic. This includes literal camouflage as well as magic designed to hide knowledge or operations." - Actually no: it's mostly assassination, and since most of our krasis are easily spotted, tracked or even tamed, agents like me do most of the dirty work, followed by the camouflager mages.

I wake up even earlier than needed for my daily exercise routine with my spear and the aerial maneuvers. My spear is a slightly improved version of the standard issue one for most of us Crypsis clade agents. It's quite simple since it's serially produced (I should say "grown" actually), but it's quite sleek: it's made from a krasis-synthesized quasi-metal which makes it extremely light, perfect for usage in watery environments and to perform quick strikes, but also makes it almost supernaturally slippery. A Boros elite could make a show by trying to pick it up: it would drop it at each and every attempt while it slides from his grunt hands, and the whole thing would look like a clown's act. By the way it also doesn't rust. Something of paramount importance, since half of the distance I cover everyday is underwater.


Solanyt's krasis-synthesized spear (slippery waterborne guardian spear +1), named after an aggressive species of Simic water-bird: "Cygnebron". The grafted wings are equivalent to Winged Boots, but with few rounds instead of hours of autonomy.
My krasis wings are another "tool" that is difficult to use, and having them attached to my body and actually a part of my metabolism doesn't make them any less problematic.
The biomagical muscles they implanted me (and I had to train) to operate them are completely foreign to my body and use a lot of energy, both physical and psychic, making it impossible for me to use other powers that the guild gifted me since birth. 
I still cannot use the wings for powered flight, but they glide just fine, which is extremely useful, especially to reach hideouts from where I can surprise targets from above. 
I also use the wings to navigate the Undercity, so I need to be as fit as possible to use them, especially psychically.

So after my needed daily training and the trip to head-quarters to receive my screening and orders, I just eat and then quickly get some hours of trance again, if my second guild doesn't wake me up too early. 


Knowing that the zonots are fauna-heavy, they usually send me messages through beasts that don't look out of place here, such as small cloudfins or some anonymous krasis. When I answer back, I get to deal with much more noble beasts, such as stryxes and nighthawks, or other birds of prey who can navigate the undercity, and the undercity near Simic zonots in particular, that which only me, some fellow Crypsis agents, and a few swimming and flying beasts can get through.

                       The Undercity under Solany't Simic Zonot is a toxic watery jungle of intricate biomagical structures.

I then read, both to prepare myself for the mission and to amuse myself with a daily doses of truth, something that my life sorely misses. I read random passages from only one book, my favorite: "Notes From The Undercity", wrote by an unknown Golgari hermit as a collection of brief thoughts on life and death.  I have grown quite fond of Golgari philosophy, and when I surprise myself to be so attuned to the book's thoughts, I wonder if I shouldn't have chosen to deal with the Golgari instead of the Dimir, regarding my "betrayal" of the Simic...
So my true life begins at dusk, when I realize how usually my Dimir and Simic missions are one and the same, and how much some of my bosses from both guilds are aware of this. 

I firmly believe that wisdom can be achieved by meditating a lot upon just one thing, rather than a little upon many things. 
Another example of this is another ritual amusing I have before starting to work. I always listen to one and only (beautiful) symphony. And I always find something new within it, very singl time. 
I am under the impression that even this piece of artwork could be coming from Golgari minds, although it clearly uses Izzet instruments played by a semi-anthropomorphic Selesnyan orchestra. The alternations of deathly and blooming themes could be seen as a musical transposition of the concepts behind "Notes From The Undercity", my insight tells me. I'd have to investigate the matter some day, although I have to be careful not to show the Izzet music-trinket too much around: judging from the quality, it's probably a lost or smuggled guild-exclusive item that the Azorius inquisitors are probably already searching around for.

My actual jobs consist in usually one of two things: kill someone or something, or acquire information stealthily. Most of the time it is both things, since I have to complete two missions for two guilds; and when the kill is for the Dimir, the information is for the Simic, and vice versa.
They always seem to be aware of each other's plans for me, and I find that amusing. 
In the mean time I slowly meditate on each case and just as I discover so many things from just one book and one symphony, I'm discovering very much from my monotonous job too. Both contractors find me invaluable right because of that, but they will never know what my soul discovers in addition to my mind, how I evolve



Simic Crypsis clade-stem: Laykan Vigeamack, pondering the possibilities opened by Solanyt's jobs.
They want to know a lot of each other, but they fail to realize how much I learn from them in the process, and what this will mean to me, to my essence. There are some among the Simic who clearly are eager to see what my evolutionary path will be like. I silently answer them to be careful: they might find exactly what they're digging for.

During the more exclusively Dimir parts of my missions, most of my effort is about making a pesky clade-mate lose my tracks. 
Calunyrg, an impressively psychic (and psychotic) mutant half-elf hybrid, who has decided to dedicate all his precious free time to make my life difficult. The biomagical Simic conditioning has worked strangely effectively on his hybrid mind, making him extremely loyal and methodical in his clade duties, to the point that he never, ever, reports me when lacking extremely compromising evidences. I can clearly understand the bastard would not even hesitate in killing me, but he follows the Crypsis guidelines so literally, that he probably finds the desire of framing me even more irresistible than his personal urge to end my life.
He is not as capable as I am in the typical Crypsis spear combat style, but his telepathic and magical abilities definitely surpass mine, and he knows how to use this advantage.
Even like this, and with the wonderful jobs he has done some times in exposing my dirty laundry, somebody in the higher sphere of command evidently decided to willingly ignore his reports on me. I suspect it might be nothing short of the clade-stem, Laykan Vigeamack himself, since he always treated me with an unjustified respect and interest.


Calunyrg, the mutant half-elf clade-mate of Solanyt that decided to become his nemesis, out of a strange symbiotic devotion to the Crypsis. His zeal in persecuting Solanyt is matched only by his deceptiveness and magical prowess.
When I return home, lost in thoughts and still as aware of the hopelessly urbanized surroundings as a shambleshark senser, the sky is getting light already, and a fish-based breakfast is easy to catch. The next few hours of dreamy trance become more real than the nightmarish so-called reality that will follow."

____________________________________
,
BONDS: Simic & Dimir guilds. 
Being a member of both guilds, but covertly so for both guilds, in different manners, means that on one hand Solanyt has double responsibilities, on the other hand half the risks. Risks from other guilds are lesser, but responsibilities are double since he must work for both and in a delicate position.
The Simic Crypsis Clade is highly organized, and Solanyt can in theory call some favors there, but as with everything Simic, things tend to be a bit complicated, so at the end of the day it's all about material resources that are "statically" made available to him, such as his equipment, the wings, his residential quarters, secret hideouts, some services, and his wage.
Being a Covert Dimir is pretty much the opposite. Formally there's little to no organization, and hierarchy is so fluid that Solanyt has hardly had the same bosses for two distinct missions. So in theory, Solanyt has few if any specific people to call for favors among the Dimir, but since it's such a fluid and vast network, he has received much more help from the Dimir than from the Simic when it came down to difficult situations that had to be dealt with quickly. Bane Alley has even provided some useful material resources on the fly sometimes, again through the different networks connected to each of Solany't particular jobs.
So the Simic mostly provide economical and material support, whereas the Dimir mostly provide situational direct help, mostly social in nature. 
Personalities within the guilds.
Laykan Vigeamack is the Simic Crypsis clade-stem, a powerful and enigmatic four-armed vedalken, and is personally and professionally interested in Solanyt to the point of protecting him against the sometimes outstanding inquisitions of Calunyrg, a self-proclaimed law-enforcer of the Crypsis clade that has made it his personal quest to frame Solanyt.

FLAWS: Aimless
Solanyt is not greedy, so he is not bought by best offers. He's not an idealist so he's not manipulated by his own ideal. But his lack of true drive means that wherever the current brings him, he will let it take him. He's aimless as much as he's fatalist, and as fatalist as he's an evolutionist. He is a true Simic at heart: strongly believing and rationalizing that natural evolution always wins. His rationality and irrationality bring him to the same conclusions, and this becomes a flaw: he basically walks every path in front of him, without thinking too much about consequences, and without any long-term strategy in mind. His short-term decisions are usually very good and that's why he survived, but he has been the agent of so many plots larger than him, and even if he knew it, he did nothing to change this or sometimes gain some advantage from it. He doesn't mind, because he's not aiming at something in particular, he basically just amuses himself with his own choices, or more frequently lack thereof.
Both Simic and Dimir leaders of Solanyt take advantage of this weakness of him, giving him the jobs and risks that others would not take, sometimes even without clear objectives and leaving a lot to his initiative, knowing that left to his own, Solanyt will often acquire a lot of precious information, just because he will follow basically every lead, if only to see where do those leads take him.
Mono-thematic
Solanyt particular way to approach knowledge and art is mono-thematic. He fixes his mind on a single concept or thing, and explores it in extreme depth, more often than not just wasting time on useless ramblings of thought. This is also a result of his high Wisdom and mediocre Intelligence: he doesn't have enough memory to extend his analytic thinking to a high number of subjects, but he becomes extremely perceptive when focusing onto something, often discovering particulars and slight shades of things that remain obscure to most. This is however a flaw in his job, because he tends to focus too much, losing situational and lateral thinking. Something that has made it possible for the Dimir and Simic to manipulate him without him knowing, when needed. At the same time, though, if he ever decided to focus on the strings of the puppet masters, he would probably discover their identities and motives. The high spheres know this and do a good job in keeping him distracted, or better yet extremely focused, but on different things.

IDEALS: Self-improvement
Solanyt is not an idealist, and his flaw shows that. But also thanks to his worst flaw, and the beliefs and rationales behind it, a pseudo-ideal shapes out strongly in his mind: self-improvement.
Since to Solanyt no long-term plan or ideal can be a drive, and survival of the strongest is the only thing that matters, he simply tries to be or become the strongest. The only thing Solanyt has greed for is personal strength, intended much more as effectiveness and efficiency rather than true brute force or power.

PERSONALITY TRAITS:
Cynic, meditative, morbid, escapist, always entranced/focused on something, secretly passionate and emotional due to strong awareness of death, aloof, random, self-centered, occasionally raving/frenzied, ruthless in combat.

____________________________________

Solanyt, Simic-Dimir agent, Level 4, Neutral
Wood Elf Rogue (Style: Assassination); Medium, Speed 35 ft; Low-light vision
HP: 22; AC: 15
STR 16 (+3)
DEX 16 (+3)
CON 12 (+1)

INT 8 (-1)
WIS 12 (+1)
CHA 8 (-1)

Attack
+1 Glaive: +5, 1d10+4 OR +0, 2d10+7
(+1d6 on Sneak Attack, +2d6+6(+additional attack) on Assassinate)


Background:
Fields of Knowledge:
 Forbidden Lore, Subterranean Lore.
Trait: Contact (Spy)

Features:
Expertise Die:
1d6 - Dexterity, Intelligence
Trap Expertise: Use Expertise Dice with Traps-related checks.
Rogue's Cant: Secret language and gestures.
Sneak Attack: 1d6
Proficiencies: Disguise Kit, Poisoner's Kit, Thieves' Tools.
Assassinate: Advantage against enemies who haven't acted yet; Critical and max Sneak Attack on surprised enemies.

Feats:
Level 4: Great Weapon Master: Additional attack when scoring a critical hit. Can attack at -5 to deal additional weapon die plus Strength modifier damage.

Equipment:
Slippery Waterborne Guardian Glaive +1 (+2 to Initiative, Advantage on Swim, Dex contest to grab/hold)
Krasis Leather (Dragon Leather)
Longbow
Arrows x30
Caltrops x10
Ball bearings
Grappling hook
Antitoxin
Adventurer's Kit
*Grafted Krasis Wings [Winged Boots with 4 rounds instead of 4 hours, and short rests make them regain 1 round, cumulatively. Total rounds equal level.]
____________________________________

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Morvanghulf: An Original #dndnext Legendary Monster! - Part 1


I had a "gothic (s)urge" amidst the Ravnica craze of the last days/months. It began while looking at Warhammer miniatures of the Vampire Counts, mainly the Vargheists and the Varghulf.


Check out the "plog" of the talented artist that painted this beautiful vargheists!

I thought that this kind of "terror creatures" are under-represented in D&D, but I didn't want to "convert" anything.
Then I was studying for my latest geology exam and a real world location caught my attention for its name. Morvan. I did a bit of research and found out the name means "black mountain". A "gothic-sounding" name for such a location pulled some strings in my head for some reason, and I decided I wanted to create a creature that satisfied the following requirements:

  • A cool, flavorful and gothic story, name, and special location.
  • Being wolf-like, to fill a gap in one of my planned campaigns in the also gothic setting of Innistrad (from Magic The Gathering).
  • Using the new Legendary creature "template" presented with the early testing version of the Legendary Black Dragon appeared in one of the recent Legends & Lore articles by Mike Mearls.
So, the idea of the Morvanghulf was born. The "wolf of the black mountain", that I'm actually brainstorming+creating while I'm writing, as always, would have to have some or all of the following characteristics:
  • Have ghost-like traits. Something in-between a nature spirit and a restless soul. A creature that embodies a feeling/story, and a very negative one of course.
  • Being wolf-like but not entirely. It should be a monstrous wolf, something akin to a never-human werewolf, but not entirely hybrid either. A strange mix.
  • A terror-machine: a creature that terrifies a whole region, but in a subtle way, nearly never actually causing direct damage, or at least not leaving witnesses of it.
  • Attached to a particular landmark, the "Black Mountain". This is connected to its "spirit of the land" trait, and should be part of its story.
For now, I'll stop here at this level of brainstorming, because I have so many things to do (I'll soon be writing from a (very) different country, permanently..!), and because I want to this this creature very well. So I added a good old "Part 1" tot he title, and... To our next meeting..! :)



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I day in the life of Solanyt, my #dndnext #Simic and #Dimir character!


My dear DM Gonzalo asked a cool thing before starting the campaign. A write up of a typical day in the,life of our characters. Here I go with the first, which won't be the last...

____________________________________

"Dawns are always extra foggy around Zonots, and I always wake up at dawn, always in my Zonot. Screening for my krasis wings is mandatory each day, and within my "beloved" Crypsis clade, screenings and briefings are always scheduled for early morning. A stupid contraddiction since we work mostly at night, but then again the Simic are drowning in contraddictions, much more than they do under water.

The Crypsis clade's job is to "develop strategies for obscuring other guilds' views of the Simic. This includes literal camouflage as well as magic designed to hide knowledge or operations." - Actually no: it's mostly assassination, and since most of our krasis are easily spotted, tracked or even tamed, agents like me do most of the dirty work, followed by the camouflager mages.

I wake up even earlier than needed for my daily excercise routine with my katana and the aerial maneuvers. My katana is the standard issue one for most of us Crypsis agents. It's incredibly simple since it's serially produced (I should say "grown" actually), but it's quite sleek: it's made from a krasis-synthesized quasi-metal which provides a strangely solid grip even if it the surface is feature-less, and most importantly, it doesn't rust. Something of paramount importance, since half of the distance I cover everyday is underwater. 
Solanyt's krasis-synthesized katana: "Cygnebra"

So after my training and the trip to head-quarters to receive my screening and orders, I just eat and then quickly get some hours of trance again, if my second guild doesn't wake me up too early. 


Knowing I can usually communicate with animals during the day, they usually send me messages through beasts that don't look out of place in the zonot, such as small cloudfins or some anonymous krasis. When I answer back, I get to talk with much more noble beasts such as stryxes and nighthawks, or other birds of prey who can navigate the undercity, and the undercity near Simic zonots in particular, that which only me, some fellow Crypsis agents, and a few swimming and flying beasts can get through.
Simic undercity near Solanyt's Zonot

So my true life begins at dusk, when I realize how usually my Dimir and Simic missions are one and the same, and how much my bosses from both guilds are aware of this. 

I then read, both to prepare myself for the mission and to amuse myself with a daily doses of truth, something that my life sorely misses. I read random passages from only one book, my favorite: "Notes From The Undercity", wrote by an unknown Golgari hermit as a collection of brief thoughts on life and death. 

I firmly believe that wisdom can be achieved by meditating a lot upon just one thing, rather than a little upon many things. Another example of this is that I always listen to one and only (beautiful) symphony too before starting work, and I always find something new within it.

Work is usually one of two things: kill someone or something, or acquire information stealthily. Most of the time it is both things, since I have to complete two missions for two guilds; and when the kill is for the Dimir, the information is for the Simic, and vice versa.
Simic Crypsis clade-stem: Laykan Vigeamack, pondering the possibilities opened by Solanyt's jobs.

They always seem to be aware of each other's plans for me, and I find that amusing. 
In the mean time I slowly meditate on each case and just as I discover so many things from just one book and one symphony, I'm discovering very much from my monotonous job too. Both contractors find me invaluable right because of that, but they will never know what my soul discovers in addition to my mind, how I evolve

They want to know a lot of each other, but they fail to realize how much I learn from them in the process, and what this will mean to me, to my essence. There are some among the Simic who clearly are eager to see what my evolutionary path will be like. I silently answer them to be careful: they might find exactly what they're digging for.

When I return home, lost in thoughts and still as aware of the hopelessly urbanized surroundings as a shambleshark senser, the sky is getting light already, and a fish-based breakfast is easy to catch. The next few hours of dreamy trance become more real than the nightmarish so-called reality that will follow."

____________________________________

Solanyt, Simic-Dimir agent, Level 3
Wood Elf Cleric (Simic, swapped-in Dimir channel); Medium, Speed 35 ft; Low-light vision
HP: 21; AC: 15
STR 10 (+0)
DEX 17 (+3)
CON 12 (+1)

INT 11 (+0)
WIS 16 (+3)
CHA 8 (-1)

Background:
Skills:
Bluff, Climb, Recall Lore (Forbidden Lore), Sense Motive, Sneak, Swim, Tumble
Trait: Contact (Spy)

Spells:
Cantrips:
Guidance, Thaumaturgy
Level 1 Spells: Cure Wounds, Inflict Wounds, Bless, Feather Fall* (Domain)
Level 2 Spells: Spiritual Weapon, Speak With Animals, Elemntal Mantle* (Domain)
Channel Divinity: Cipher, Evolve, Warrior's Gale

Feats:
Level 1: Hide in Shadows
Level 3: Ambush

Equipment:
Katana
Krasis Leather (Dragon Leather)
Longbow
Arrows x30
Caltrops x10
Ball bearings
Grappling hook
Antitoxin
Adventurer's Kit
____________________________________


Monday, June 24, 2013

The Thrull from #mtg as a #dndnext monster


Thrulls are strange creatures that have evolved through a variety of forms and functions along with the game, in Magic: The Gathering.

As a game/bet with @ArtificerAlf aka Karl Rech, I wanted to create a creature for our Ravnica D&D Next campaign, and I let him name the first one. He chose Thrull.

The Concept

In Ravnica, the Thrull has no defining ability, if not perhaps the one of the most common type, Regeneration using Black mana.
In previous expansions though, Thrulls were actually more similar to each other and shared a common theme of giving either Black mana or some kind of bonus to other creatures when sacrificed.

The general feeling of the Thrull is thus that of a un undead-like construct, infused with dark magic, and at the service of Clerics or Wizards of White and Black alignment.

Taken from The Return of Thrulls

I decided to translate this into D&D terms with some kind of "switch sides" potential, connected to magic.

The Base Creature

After a quick search that ended when reaching the letter D in the Bestiary, and in particular at the "Demon" entry, I realized that the Mane demon had all the base requirements: a somewhat lowly creature with a strong arcane nature, that dissolved when killed (dissolves in Black mana perhaps!) and reforms somehwere else.
Now how to tweak that...

The Tweaks

I definitely want the Thrull to be linked to some specific spells. In particular, I think the Cure Wounds / Inflict Wounds would represent very well the White/Black duality of Thrulls, and these spells could basically help the Thrull retake form. Instead of completely dissolving, the killed Thrull would kind of "lose pressure" and leave a husk and a cloud of dark energy/vapor. This cloud can be manipulated with these spells to reform the Thrull. Also, since it's always Black mana to regenerate, I think I will limit this to Inflict Wounds, but I also want a Wizard spell to be capable of doing the job, although at higher level. This way the link with the clergy is more prominent, but a possible link with Wizards would not be impossible. An iconic necromantic spell to be used for this kind of work could be the straightforward Animate Dead, two levels higher than Inflict Wounds and its undead-curing capabilities.

Returning to the initial concept, we could make the reformed Thrull be charmed by the one casting the spell, thus representing the "switching sides" potential that kind of makes for a truly "quasi-construct" creature. This, in addition to the Immunity to Charming, makes for a special kind of servant, who can't switch sides unless "mana" is used by the wanna-be master (and only after it has been "killed").
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Eternal Torment (Thrull): A thrull reduced to 0 hit points or fewer emanates a cloud of black vapor, leaving behind a flaccid empty husk. The cloud moves in random directions for 24 hours at a speed of 20 ft. before dissolving. If the thrull's body husk lies within 20 ft. of the cloud, casting Inflict Wounds or Animate Dead on it brings back the Thrull after one round, and charmed by the caster.
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As for other resistances, I think the Fire resistance is a bit off, and I'd replace it with Necrotic resistance. The other ones I think they make sense, Electricity being in theme with the pseudo-Frankenstein-esque nature, and Cold being usually resisted by undead and constructs alike. I'd also add Poison, just out of consistency
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Resistances: The mane is resistant to cold, necrotic, lightning, and poison.
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Attacks should be ok, although Thrull could also wield weapons, making them a bit more dangerous.

As for the creature type, I think I would stick with Construct instead of Undead, so that Rebuke Undead doesn't overlap with the integrated method of making the Thrull switch sides. So it would be a Medium Construct (Thrull). Perhaps Living Construct if that becomes a type.

Additional "Kit" Ablities.

Called "theme powers" in D&D 4e, a menu of optional abilities can make for a really customizable creature.
I think I would give Thrulls three of these, to represent the coolest Ravnican Thrulls.

First of all, a larger Thrull (with base statistics and special abilities of a Hezrou demon, but with the same tweaks described above), could have a Consume ability making it able to represent the Maw of The Obzedat thrull. I'm also adding a restriction on the Thrull's movement, to represent this big fat guy:


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Consume:

A Large Thrull with this ability can consume a helpless creature, or a creature it has killed with its Bite, and transform it into necromantic power, giving selected creatures within 50 ft. benefits equivalent to a Prayer spell. Not being originated by a spell, these bonuses stack if the ability is used again, and they only end if the Thrull dies, moves more than 5 ft per round, or if the subjects leave the effect radius.
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Another interesting ability to be converted is the one of the Thrull Parasite. Let's see what I can do:

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Parasite:

The Master of a Thrull with this ability can choose to suffer 1 Hit Dice + Con mod of damage to make the Thrull cast Dispel Magic on a selected creature, object or location without expending spell slots. The dispel roll is made as if the master had casted the spell.
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Finally, a Thrull can have the Extort ability, maybe accompanied by a single 1/day usage of Sanctuary to make the most out of it. You can find the conversion of this mechanic in the Orzhov entry of my conversions of Ravnican "Guildmages" (as D&D Next Clerics) here.

Another final option for Thrulls could be functional wings, giving it a fly speed of 20 or 30 ft.

That's all folks!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My latest #dndnext #Ravnica character: a Noble Gruul Ranger!


My moments of boredom very often result in new characters, and Ravnica is still all the rage as far as character themes go, here where I'm sitting!

My latest idea tries to "fix" the Ranger, considered by most players the weakest class in the current playtest packet.

While I'm at it, I also try to create an interesting character, using my custom "guild powers", and this time it's Gruul's turn.

The Gruul Mechanic.

I chose to give Gruul a somewhat direct "conversion" of their actual mechanic, in the form of a wild sure-critical charge which triggers an also sure-critical OA. So you deal high damage but risk a lot for doing so.

The current critical hit rules in Next are hopelessly underwhelming too, adding just one die of damage, so weapon selection becomes critical.

By the way, if wanting to maintain the custom "Guild Initiate" feat (which grants the guild "channel divinity" effect to non-Clerics) balanced with the equivalent feat (Magical Rejuvination), the power will be usable only once per day, so it's not going to be anything special, but it will be cool to have a "one shot nova".

Equipment.

I'm really fond of D&D Next's take on the Katana. Quite simply a two-handed bastard sword but using Dexterity. I also like the slight paradox of a Gruul using a katana or equivalent exotic sword, and the mechanical advantage of being focused on Dexterity, allowing for good ranged attacks and AC.

So katana it is. And since we want to capitalize on the sure-fire one-shot critical hit, I'd choose a "Keen Katana", replacing katana stats on the magical "Keen Rapier". Those extra 2d6 will help make it worth it.

Armor choice is trickier than usual. I had thought about going light, but until Dex can become 18 at 4th level, medium armor is better. And since stealth is not going to be a focus, Scale Mail will make a lot of sense (and protection). An AC of 16 is nothing bad at all for a two-handed weapon wielder. And since we're talking about a Giant slayer, where "giant" can be any Large or bigger creature, a Studded Dragon Leather could also be available...

For ranged attacks, I picture him using javelins, to retain some savage style.

Favored Enemy

This is the cool part. Making this Ranger a Giant slayer not only fits the Gruul theme, but also the mechanic, because if the enemy OA connects, the ranger can expend his reaction to halve the damage, at least if the enemy is Large or bigger.

Plus, I like the idea of a Gruul Ginat Slayer. Gruul is the "giant guild" in many ways, and having a "small" guy good against them, makes for a respectable individual within his Clan. Which brings to an interesting Background choice...

Unusual Background.

This Gruul (aka savage) Ranger will have the... Noble background. It is meant to be an elite warrior within the clan, who earned a lot of respect by fighting big and scary members of the same or other clans. So for a twist, the "three retainers" pledged to serve this noble will likely be (very) tamed OGRES!

Only change to the skill selection is the selected Lore. Political doesn't make a lot of sense for Gruul, so I'd replace it with Cultural Lore, focused on the Gruul culture, but not only.

Ability Scores.

I'd like a rather balanced stat array for my Ranger. Dexterity is obviously a must, but basically all the rest needs to be decent too, especially mental stats, to convey an "elite" feeling within the savage Gruul. Strangely enough, I think Strength will be the dump stat!
Here's what I'd use, after the (crazy) all-stats human bonus, and class bonus:

Str 9, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 14

Yes, pretty crazy for a Gruul, but I think it works pretty well, making his Intimidate, Persuade, Recall Lore, and Sense Motive skills quite good at a +2.

Feats.

Apart from the nearly obligatory custom Guild Initiate feat, the first level feat that I think fits best here is the simple Weapon Mastery. As written, it could take into account extra damage, so it should allow to replace the result of the extra d6 damage from either Hunter's Mark or Slayer of the Colossus with a juicy d10 from the katana. It's borderline cheating, but hey, we're trying to "fix" the Ranger..!

Name and final details.

I want a name that is both savage and noble of course. A harsh sound, but elegant in some way. Kharshk 'Tan it is, after a 1 minute brainstorming. That "Tan" is meant to conjure "chieftain". I also did a 30 seconds search of Gruul clans using the magiccards.info database, and I chose the rarely mentioned (actually mentioned only once) Bolrac clan, cited on the Wrecking Ogre card, since I want Kharhsk to have the respect of ogres.


Finally, I want a bad-ass illustration, which I obviously found on deviantArt, among the artworks of ~XRobinGoodFellowX.


And that's all for my latest Ravnican character

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sorcery in #dndnext (as opposed to Wizardry) - The Arcane and Raw Magic


Yesterday I posted an old blog entry if you noticed, dated more than one year back. My ideas about sorcery have not changed much fundamentally, but they evolved a bit.

Today I'd like to talk about raw magic, the kind of magic that I'd like to see Sorcerers literally wield.

Types of magic: premises and disclaimers

Ok, so if you're here, you probably know that in D&D there's always been this great divide between Arcane magic and Divine magic. Psionic are considered "non-magic" traditionally, or simply another "power source" in more recent times. Always more recently, with 4th edition, we have become accustomed to distinguish also Primal and Shadow magic, and on a smaller scale even Elemental magic, although it never became a "stand-alone" power source (and the same can be said of Shadow).

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sorcery in #dndnext (as opposed to Wizardry) - Initial thoughts


THE NEXT SORCERER - AS I WOULD LIKE IT

Wednesday, February 8, 2012, 6:12 PM


I have a lot of ideas on how to differentiate Warlocks and Sorcerer from the over-arching archetype of "Wizard", this is actually the second blog I write on the subject.

There are many players and DMs alike that find that the two concepts are too similar to be separated. They view Warlocks as Wizards who delve into dark powers and have spells themed accordingly, and Sorcerers as Wizards that receive their spells from bloodlines and have spells themed accordingly. I think they are legitimate points of view, but they come from a tradition that didn't have clear ideas on the different archetypes in a first place.
Classes need many things to be "worth being a class". They must represent clear and broad archetypes. Any substantial overlapping with another, more iconic class, would make them unnecessary and better off as sub-classes or equivalent. 

That's why I'd like Sorcerers and Warlocks to be radically different from how they are represented now. Especially mechanically-speaking, because even if mechanics can be re-flavored, certain mechanics are better suited at conveying some flavor than others.

This time I will limit myself to the Sorcerer, describing in a brainstorm fashion all the concepts that I think can really distinguish and characterize the class, other than rendering it interesting in play and desirable.

Fluff-story.
  • Raw magic: what should really make "sorcery" different from "wizardry" is that the Sorcerer should draw from raw magic. Either in its "chaotic form" or its "elemental form", Sorcerer's magic should be to Wizardry what stone and wood are to buildings. It's more primitive, and it ties directly to the forces used by primordials to shape the world as we know it. It's tied to chaos, raw energy and the elements.
  • Two fundamental types: as I said, I basically view two types of Sorcerers. One is more tied to the chaotic part of this raw magic, the other more to the elemental nature of it. Note that I view these as the foundations of everything in the world. Chaotic magic is like the "residual radiation left by world's creation", the "wave-like" part of it, while Elemental magic is what constitutes matter at a fundamental level.
    • Chaotic Sorcerers. These are more similar to the classic concept of Sorcerers we're accustomed to. Chaotic magic is something invisible to all but them and creatures imbued with raw magic, as certain fey, dragons, demons or others. It's like a stream that encircles all things, and Chaotic Sorcerers can bend it to their will. They can produce many subtle effects with it, and its signature is being a quick and "reactive" type of magic. Each movement, spell, everything in the physical and not-physical world is in some way touched by Chaos, and as such Chaotic Sorcerers can literally mess with it with their own wills, if they're quick enough to do so. Their method is drawing from these energies, collecting them in ways only them can, and then using them in the most varied ways, sometimes in the blink of an eye.
    • Elementalists. They are somewhat derived from Chaotic Sorcerers, a more specialized form. While Chaotic Sorcerers mostly have just an inner spark of power inside them that lets them see and manipulate a hidden energy source present in all things, Elementalists have some of this energy directly inside their bodies. For them, it's not a matter of manipulating something outside of them through a special power. They are the special power, and they manipulate forces that come from an inextinguishable wellspring placed directly inside their bodies, in their primitive "animus". As such, they need strong bodies, able to withstand the incredible forces encased within them. They also use will-power, but don't need to understand anything of the world around them, they have raw magic all inside them. They can shape this energy in a lot of ways, their spells wouldn't be limited in form, they wouldn't be "known spells". They could create a fireball in a thousand different ways, it's not the Fireball that wizards cast from the books, although it could resemble it. Their fireball could be proportionally as strong, fast, or big as their muscles, casting movements, or bodies are... Their bodies are magic, their metabolism includes spellcasting (or better yet "spell-morphing") as a biological function.
  • Bloodlines. This traditional concept of the Sorcerer is, in my opinion, better off as part of the fluff, story and background. It can be made optionally as a mechanical element, but I think it's something that too many different classes could draw upon, to just make it a foundation of the sorcerer only.
    Sorcerers do have innate powers either as inner magical "sparks" and "senses" (Chaotic) or as true elemental power in their bodies, but the reasons are better left open for the player to describe them. Elementalist could have their powers derived from Dragons, and this could show in any spell they create, but it's only a possibility. They could tap into this bloodline to actually have mechanical advantages/differences, but it should be an option, not the rule. Making it a rule is like limiting the broader scope of the class. Even with countless bloodlines, making them something you have to think about for playing a sorcerer is limiting. You should play it for having innate powers to access raw magic and morph into spells, the reasons behind this, the origin of this power, is better left to the player's imagination first. Then it can always be worked into feats, optional class features and anything else.
  • Actual possible different origins. To show that bloodlines should not be the only distinguishing origin of Sorcerers, I think the developers should come up with different ideas for the origins of Sorcery in a character. Elementalists could be made when not born, for example, in the superhero fashion. They could have had some episode in their life that tied them to elemental magic, they could have found an incredibly old artifact of the time of the primordials that imbued them with elemental magic, or they could have been subjects of arcane experiments. Maybe they started off as wizards and delved too deeply and strangely into the study of elementalism that they accidentally unlocked powers inside them.
    Chaos sorcery could have even more varied origins. It could be a trait that manifests on children born in strange conditions, it could be the result of a close encounter with some strange creature (without the pact thing of warlocks), or it could manifest after birth, for any reason. It's chaos, it's unpredictable.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Gutternsipe Rogue Scheme & Slippery Target for the new #dndnext Rogue


The "Slippery Target" Rogue feature of the previous D&D Next playtest packet was my favorite (EVER) for one simple and yet very original reason: it was a way to make a Rogue that was deadly in combat without even attacking!

It's about redirecting a foe's attack into someone else, and it's pure genius in my opinion, because it's one of the most roguish things one can think about, seen in countless action movies where the star is rogue-ish.

So to "convert it" to the present version of the rules, it must substitute the "sneak attack enablers" such as Backstab, Tumbling Strike, or Isolated Strike.

So without further ado, here's a quick and dirty version of it, which is surely balanced, but ends up being wordy. If you find a better way to word this, please let me know in the comments!

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Slippery Target:
When you provoke an Opportunity Attack and you haven't used your Action for attacking on your turn, if the Opportunity Attack misses you, you can move 5 feet and make the attacker occupy the space you left and/or you can make the attacker re-roll the attack against another creature in range of your choice. If the attack hits, it deals extra damage equal to your Sneak Attack damage.

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Ok so if you're a bit of a rules junkie, you may notice that this rule bypasses the limits of per-turn uses of Sneak Attack, in that if you provoke multiple Opportunity Attacks and more than one misses you and hits the new target, it will be as if you had used Sneak Attack more than once per turn. The catch is that you'll never be able to do this outside of your turn (you can't provoke OAs without doing anything), and there are a lot of conditions for this to happen: at least two enemies near to each other, good accuracy or low AC of the enemy, and you have to be missed, so there's not only a chance that you'll not be able to use the feature, but also a chance to get badly hurt while (not) doing so!

So it's a fun way to gamble for more damage (and confusion, as you can also move the opponents around a bit), at the expense of risking more damage being dealt to you.

It obviously pair extremely well with the Tumbling Movement expert feat, which gives enemies Disadvantage on Opportunity Attacks against you. And a tumbling Rogue is exactly the type that should use this trick!

It's also fun to use it coupled with Taunt, because you can use it to mass-up the opponents around you to get more mileage out of your ability, and because you must not use your action to attack anyway, so you may as well use it to hilariously curse and provoke your opponents! :-P

So I'll leave you with a full-blown Rogue Scheme using this feature!
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Rogue Scheme: GUTTERSNIPE

You have survived a difficult life on the city streets since you were a child, and you learned faster than others that the best way to survive difficult odds is to redirect the enemy strength against them.
You always know the latest rumors, and you can smell danger and lies better than anyone thanks to your countless experiences in the most hostile slums that are your natural environment.
As an adventurer, you use these abilities to your advantage in all kinds of situations, although you still are at your best in crowded places.
Slippery Target: When you provoke an Opportunity Attack and you haven't used your Action for attacking on your turn, if the Opportunity Attack misses you, you can move 5 feet and make the attacker occupy the space you left and/or you can make the attacker re-roll the attack against another creature in range of your choice. If the attack hits, it deals extra damage equal to your Sneak Attack damage.
Skills: Gather Rumors, Sense Motive
Bonus Feats: Pick Pocket, Taunt, Tumbling Movement
Guttersnipe Mastery: When you make a Charisma check to gather rumors or a Wisdom check to sense motive, roll an extra d6 and add the number rolled to the check.

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Fantasy Bar Brawl by Christopher Stevens http://christopherstevens.deviantart.com/art/Fantasy-Bar-Brawl-64206917


Hope you like it! :)




Sunday, May 26, 2013

A #dndnext character for #Ravnica: Firminus, #Azorius judge!


This is, as all my characters, some kind of mechanical experiment, to test the flexibility of the system.
First of all, I wanted a character that didn't use the "guildmage" Cleric builds I made here (and here). Or not entirely.

The only way it would have used those guild-defining rules would have been through a custom feat which is a very straightforward remake of the official Magical Rejuviation feat: instead of giving 1/day usage of either a 1st or 2nd level spell, this would have given 1/day usage of either the 1st level domain spell of the chosen guild or its custom Channel Divnity effect.

Guild Initiate
You have learned the signature magical powers of your guild.
Prerequisite: 3rd level, Wisdom 11 or higher
Benefit: When you take this feat choose a guild. Once per day, you can cast the 1st level spell of the chosen guild or use its signature Channel Divinity.

Now, I wanted my character to be a non-caster, for a change. Those who know me know how much I love D&D Next Rogues, so the Rogue was attracting me a lot. But the typical guild for Rogues, Dimir, had already been taken by my latest character, and since I know the campaign will not allow two characters from the same guild, I wanted another one. Orzhov was really tempting me, but somehow I couldn't find a way to make it special enough. So I went for an extreme choice. Azorius. And in particular, an old Azorius judge! As a Rogue!

Yes, after all, Rogues are skill specialists. And how interesting could it be to play an old judge who represents law and order so well that his specialty ends up being... Intimidation?? The idea was looking cool. He would have used the Bounty Hunter background in a more police-like way, and would have acted a bit like a (much less combat-heavy) judge Dredd in the heavy robes of an old and prestigious Azorius elocutor, which is described (here) as a negotiator of sorts, prone to usage of enchantments to give tangible power to his already powerful words.
Persuade and Recall Lore (Politcal Lore) would substitute Sneak and Spot in the Background's skill, to represent his elocutor role better.

So, meet and greet (choosing your words wisely), Firminus!

Illustration for the character coming from an old Azorius card, from Dissension!


So how could I use magic by being a Rogue? Simple: with the Use Magic Device feat and the Arcane Dabbler feat to take the Read Magic cantrip, and thus have access to both magical Staffs (like in the illustration!) and Scrolls.

In particular, by using a (powerful, but not much on a Rogue!) Robe of the Archmagi, and a Staff of Charming, I had the character as I had envisioned it! In fact, the Robe makes the spells casted by Firminus roughly equivalent in power to those of an equal level (3rd level) caster, while also giving him a good AC, to make up for really low hit points (low Constitution: he's an elder!).
In addition, between Charm and Command usable with the Staff, Firminus has good chances of using the signature Azorius Detain ability successfully, since he won't normally attack his targets.
When he does, using the staff with Backstab and Sneak Attack will be fun...! :-D

For the Rogue Bonus feats, aside from Use Magic Device, I'd have chosen Skill Focus (Intimidate), and Taunt, which was a fun addition, to represent the rage of creatures when Firminus "reads them their rights", and is realistic given the "easy target" appearance of elderly Firminus.
The special skills of the Rogue Scheme were easy to choose: Intimidate (so both Focus and double skill dice, combined with high Charisma... That means minimum check result of 15, maximum of 35!!), and Sense Motive, mainly to sense lies... ;-)

Another slightly tricky aspect to choose were Ability Scores. I wanted them to represent his age, so I went for the "extremist" array of scores, modified a bit.
15, 15, 14, 10, 8, 8
With the two 8s (9s after bonus) going obviously into Strength and Constitution (ouch), the 14 going into Dexterity (and pumped by both Human and Rogue bonus to a good 16), the 10 into Wisdom to reach the 11 after the bonus, required by the Guild Initiate feat, and finally the 16s into Charisma and Intelligence. It's the first time I like using the D&D Next Human race: Firminus needs all those +1s!

So here he is. Firminus. A man who firmly stands on the side of the Azorius, that is, the side of the Law!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My #dndnext character for a #Ravnica campaign!


So I was feeling bored and creative, a special combination that can result into utter nothingness when I experience it, since I create much better things when I'm actually busy with many things.
But one thing comes out easily from these moments: new D&D characters!!

For my next Ravnica campaign, probably to be played online with DM @gcampoverde and player @ArtificerAlf (and I hope someone else too! Drop a line if interested :D), I wanted a character who had something of both my favorite guilds: Simic and Dimir. Dimir is actually the only guild which "mixes" with any other easily, since it has infiltrates here and there. And that's what i wanted: a basically Simic character who kind of turned to "the dark side" becoming a secret agent of Simic.

Meet...

SOLANYT NEPHAZEK



Some of you may recognize this comes from Warhammer 40k, Dark Eldars in particular. Not exactly a kosher source for fantasy characters, is it? And yet it's the second D&D character I illustrate with a Dark Eldar, and both of them have been used in MtG-based campaigns!

So let's state the fundamental points about the character:

ELF: This is straightforward. Simic has a lot of elves in its ranks, and elves are among the most interesting races to play in D&D Next from a mechanical point of view. I think I'll use Wood Elf, both because of the Wisdom bonus and the sneakiness, which will help the Dimir side of Solanyt.

WINGS: Well, these are mostly vestigial/aesthetic. Mostly. Because then again the Simic guildmage build I created (as a Ceric, see the previous posts for the proposed mechanics), is quite focused on flying, using a Monk's Ki ability for sudden short flights, and Feather Fall as its first level (and thus repeatable) domain spell. Of course, these abilities were meant to represent Simic mutations more than magic, just as the next thing which is...

ELEMENTAL MANTLE: This is the most important bonus druidic spell that characterizes my D&D Next version of the Simic "guildmage". It's meant to represent different sudden mutations/adaptations, of which the elements become just a metaphor, in game.

NINJA: Yes. Believe it or not, it's going to be played as a ninja. This is not only because of the Dimir side. Solanyt was stealthy even before becoming secretly Dimir, and he's not that secretive in that even now. He's not very good at bluffing (mediocre Charisma), so even his Dimir allegiance isn't *that* secret in the Simic guild. Most of the smart members suspect (and most of the Simic are smart), but right because of the typical Simic mentality, fascinated by experimentation and evolution, they wouldn't even try to stop him, not before witnessing how (or what) does he become in the process. They instead manipulate him when possible, to use his abilities and allegiances at their advantage. Something he knows, and even enjoys: more interesting work..!
He hides in shadows, enjoys sneak attacks (which he does by using Inflict Wounds with the "Cipher" Dimir ability, which he acquired in place of the Divine Magic channel divinity), and he uses a Katana for maximum damage and maximum exploitation of his very high Dexterity.

SPY: In D&D Next background terms, I chose the Spy background for obvious reasons. The only skill that had to be added, since Sneak is a bonus skill given by the (obvious) Hide In Shadows feat, I chose it to be Tumble, since he may run out of 1st level slots when performing a sudden flight or a drop from a ceiling. I could even replace Search with Climb, since he won't have high Strength, and climbing could be needed for said drops from celings. He's an assassin after all, first and foremost.

SKULKER: Hide in Shadows and Ambush are his bread and butter. He prefers to drag combats, in case he doesn't finish off his prey in the first round. He's accustomed to working alone, so he's a survivalist, with his own skin as his highest priority, and the death of his prey as the close second. From this solitary nature comes the name Solaynt. Which is also a reference to the Solarite, the Dark Eldar elite winged warrior of the illustration.

SPELLS: Other spells he uses, if limited tot he Cleric list, are Spiritual Weapon, which is also very Dimir in flavor if you think about it as spectral blades, and Speak With Animals, apart from the obvious Cure Wounds. Speak With Animals because he finds it an efficient way to marry the Simic and Dimir methods: restricted information, but from nature. He's particularly fond of birds of prey, for obvious reasons. Something of a fetish of his.

EQUIPMENT: Apart from his signature Katana, which I will want to describe and design (or more probably find an illustartion for) later, for protection he wears a Dragon Leather (Krasis Carapace, to stay Simic) and resorts to a Longbow when distance is required and spell power is depleted. He also uses all the tricky gadgets he can get his hands on, like caltrops, smoke bombs and so on.

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And that's it! The mechanics of the character spawned quite a lot of background and personality info already, as usual, but I'll also add some more to give depth to the character, especially when we'll (hopefully) start to play! :)

Monday, May 13, 2013

More #Ravnica Guildmages as #dndnext Clerics!


This time it's the turn of Azorius, Boros, Gruul and Rakdos! Oh boy... The difficulties of these are really high, and I'm thinking about making at least one or two of the most martial ones as options for Fighters instead of Clerics.
But right now I want to try a different root that might still work. It will be a stretch, probably...
As of now I still haven't wrote or thought anything: I improvise even when I design!!
Well let's see what we can do with these guys. Starting with Gruul, dedicated to @ArtificerAlf! :)

GRUUL GUILDMAGE



















Base Deity: None: no armor proficiency, proficiency with unarmed strike, Barbarian's Thick Hide class feature, Big Stick feature.

Big Stick: When you use Shillelagh with a two-handed weapon, you change the damage to 1d12.

Channel Divinity: Touch of Stony Doom (Monk's Ki ability), Divine Magic, Bloodrush

Bloodrush: You can expend a use of Channel Divinity as a reaction when one of your allies attacks an enemy, or when you attack an enemy. If you do, you or an ally at charging range can charge the same target (as having the Charge feat) inflicting a critical hit, but suffering an Opportunity Attack by doing so that will also be a critical hit. At 11th level, the movement of the charging subject is doubled, it has flying until the end of the turn, and it deals 3d10 extra damage.

Cantrip: Shillelagh

Domain Spells: 
1: Flaming Sphere
2: Aid
3: Call Lightning
4: Freedom of Movement
5: Move Earth

Suggested Background: Thug

Suggested Specialty: Survivor


AZORIUS GUILDMAGE





















Base Deity: Protector

Channel Divinity: Spiritual Vestment, Divine Magic, Detain

Detain: You can spend a use of Channel Divinity as an action to magically bind a creature within 10 feet. The target has Disadvantage on attack rolls and can't move more than 10 feet from you. The target can spend an action to roll a saving throw to free itself from the effect, but it has Disadvantage on the saving throw if you haven't dealt damage to it during your last turn. At 11th level, you can target any number of creatures within 10 feet.

Cantrip: Ray of Frost

Domain Spells:
1: Sleep
2: Zone of Truth
3: Hold Person
4: Air Walk
5: Hold Monster

Suggested Background: Bounty Hunter

Suggested Specialty: Defender


BOROS GUILDMAGE





















Base Deity: Protector

Channel Divinity: Righteous Might, Divine Magic, Battallion

Battallion: You can spend a use of Channel Divinity when you hit a target in melee. If you do so, up to two target allies that can see you can instantly take an action that must include a weapon attack against the same enemy. At 11th level, you can target up to 12 allies.

Cantrip: Guidance

Domain Spells:
1: Shield
2: Flame Blade
3: Fireball
4: Divine Power
5: Cure Wounds, Mass

Suggested Background: Soldier

Suggested Specialty: Skirmisher


RAKDOS GUILDMAGE























Base Deity: Trickster (Skills: Intimidate, Perform, Break Object)

Channel Divinity: Vengeful Flame (Monk's Ki ability), Divine Magic, Unleash

Unleash: You can spend a use of Channel Divinity to put yourself under the effects of a Confusion spell, where the only possible results are the last two (change the dice rolls accordingly, to 50/50), and in place of an attack you can also cast a domain spell, provided you do so against the nearest target. As long as the effect lasts, you have Advantage on attack rolls and saving throws, and attacks against you and saving throws against spells you cast are made with Disadvantage. At 11th level, as long as the effect lasts you are also under the effects of a Haste spell.

Cantrip: Prestidigitation

Domain Spells:
1: Thunderwave
2: Heat Metal
3: Confusion
4: Blight
5: Flame Strike

Suggested Background: Jester

Suggested Specialty: Two-Weapon Fighter


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

#Ravnica Guildmages as #dndnext Clerics!


The title is very self-explanatory. I use the extremely flexible Cleric class and in particular its Deity feature to represent a handful of guilds from Ravnica, creating a custom Channel Divinity effect to simulate the core mechanic of the guild in a D&D-meaningful way.

Without further ado, here we go!

SELESNYA GUILDMAGE


Base Deity: Trickster -> Bonus skills: Administer First Aid, Handle Animal, Recall Lore (Nature)

Channel Divinity: Divine Shelter, Divine Magic, Populate

Populate: You can expend a use of Channel Divinity to summon a beast identical to one you have charmed through Animal Friendship. This summoned beast disappears when you take your next short rest. If you are maintaining concentration for an effect on you or another charmed beast, the summoned beast benefits from that effect as well. At 11th level, you summon 1d4 beasts.

Cantrip: Druidcraft

Domain Spells:
1: Animal Friendship
2: Barkskin
3: Plant Growth
4: Stoneskin
5: Commune

Suggested Background: Guide

Suggested Specialty: Mystical Healer


IZZET GUILDMAGE



Base Deity: Lightbringer (Shocking Grasp instead of Lance of Faith. Note that it can stop OAs).

Channel Divinity: Magical Might, Divine Magic, Overload

Overload: When you cast a domain spell, you can expend a use of Channel Divinity to change it so that it has the range and area of effect of a Fireball spell. At 11th level, double the range and area.

Cantrip: Shocking Grasp, Mending

Domain Spells:
1: Color Spray
2: Heat Metal
3: Lightning Bolt
4: Wall of Fire
5: Cone of Cold

Suggested Background: Artisan

Suggested Specialty: Metamagician


GOLGARI GUILDMAGE


Base Deity: Reaper

Channel Divinity: Divine Smite (Necrotic), Divine Magic, Scavenge

Scavenge: When adjacent to a creature that died during the previous round, you can expend a use of Channel Divinity to magically scavenge its corpse and gain 10 temporary hit points and a +2 bonus to the damage of weapon attacks. In addition, you can Speak With the Dead with the scavenged creature. These benefits end after your next short rest. At 11th level, you gain 20 THP and  +4 to weapon damage instead.

Cantrip: Chill Touch (dealing Acid damage)

Domain Spells:
1: Entangle
2: Spike Growth
3: Stinking Cloud
4: Blight
5: Insect Plague

Suggested Background: Thug

Suggested Specialty: Survivor


SIMIC GUILDMAGE


Base Deity: Trickster -> Bonus Skills: Swim, Recall Lore (Natural Lore), Recall Lore (Forbidden Lore)

Channel Divinity: Divine Magic, Warrior's Gale (Monk's Ki ability!), Evolve

Evolve: When you miss or are hit by an enemy of higher level, you can expend a use of Channel Divinity to get a +2 bonus to AC if you were hit or a +2 to your Attack bonus if you had missed. The effect lasts until the next short rest. At 11th level or higher you also gain one resistance, one special sense, or one movement mode that the creature possesses, changing your physical form accordingly. This effect is permanent, but is replaced when you use Evolve again.

Cantrip: Faerie Fire

Domain Spells: 
1: Feather Fall (Ephemeral Wings)
2: Elemental Mantle
3: Haste
4: Polymorph
5: Awaken

Suggested Background: Sage

Suggested Specialty: Hedge Magician


DIMIR GUILDMAGE


Base Deity: Trickster (same skills, add Unarmed Strike to proficiencies)

Channel Divinity: Stunning Strike (Monk's Ki Ability), Divine Magic, Cipher

Cipher: When you cast a spell, you can expend a use of Channel Divinity to cipher it into a melee weapon. It remains ciphered until your next short rest and you can only have one ciphered spell at a time. When you use that weapon to hit a target from which you are hidden (or a target you have Advantage against derived from hiding, such as with the Ambush feat or being Invisible), the target also suffers the effects of the ciphered spell. If the spell allowed multiple targets or affected an area, it changes to only affect the target hit by your weapon.

Cantrip: Frost Ray

Domain Spells:
1: Inflict Wounds
2: Invisibility
3: Hold Person
4: Feeblemind
5: Dominate Person

Suggested Background: Guild Thief

Suggested Specialty: Skulker


ORZHOV GUILDMAGE


Base Deity: Lightbringer (Chill Touch instead of Lance of Faith)

Channel Divinity: Rebuke Undead, Divine Magic, Extort

Extort: You can expend one use of Channel Divinity to cause one enemy and any number of allies in sight to lose 1d12 and 1d4 hit points respectively, but never lowering their Hit Points below 1. The total damage inflicted this way is then gained by you or another ally as temporary hit points. Extort can be used when under the effects of Sanctuary. At 11th level, the affected enemy will use its next action to surrender all carried treasure to the Orzhov Guildmage.

Cantrips: Chill Touch, Mage Armor

Domain Spells:
1: Sanctuary
2: Speak With Dead
3: Blink
4: Dimension Door
5: Cloudkill

Suggested Background: Priest

Suggested Specialty: Specialist