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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!


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.


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!


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.


Fantasy Bar Brawl by Christopher Stevens

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.



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.


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! :)


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


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


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


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!


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


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


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


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


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


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