1. News spreads that a dragon was slain while away from his cave, a search for its unguarded hoard is underway
2. A thief has stolen a power item from a lich and then joins the party for protection
3. A wizard/collector wants a live troll to study
4. Rat catchers are going missing under the city and a plague is spreading in their absence
5. A local caster has summoned a creature that they cannot contain and it is destroying the area
6. A charismatic charlatan claims (and has proof) to be the cousin/brother/son of one of the PCs
7. A wandering merchant trades a pc for their magic item for a fake he claims is more powerful
8. Shipments from a nearby mine have stopped, when the PCs investigate they find the miners crazed and covered with red welts apparently from exposure to a new element they uncovered
9. A white dragon is driving monsters from the north into the southern lands
10. A planar rift has formed and outsiders are seeping through
11. A powerful noble/wizard is hosting a masquerade ball where the guests are polymorphed into monster as their costume, but an actual monster attends to kill the noble/wizard
12. A sorcerer has died of old age, strange things are creeping out of his tower as his spells, and dweomers break down
13. A map has been found that leads to parts of an artifact that once reassembled, will summon a fiendish kraken
14. The dead are rising as zombies one hour after their death
15. Slavers are capturing peasants and merchants on the highway and selling them to mindflayers
16. A shop/traveling merchant sells pets/familiars that are actually polymorphed people
17. The PC’s are sent to find a hermit that lives on the “moving island”, a zircon/dragon turtle
18. A traveling circus/faire comes to town and completely vanishes in the morning with several children
19. An Ur priest cult is killing all the divine casters in the area
20. Water drawn from a certain well is animating into water elementals/mephitis
21. An evil druid has taken up residence in the sewers and is waging a guerilla war on civilization
22. Anyone who reads a cursed book, brought into town by an adventuring party, dies after reading it
23. A killer is leaving rare flowers in the mouths of his victims
24. A member of a planar cartographic society offers the PCs membership into the elite group if they can complete a scavenger hunt that leads them across several planes in one day
25. A mysterious helmed/hooded/masked figure has forged an impressive army by bringing tribes of kobolds, goblins, orcs, and hobgoblins under one banner. The leader is actually a cleric disheartened by the lack of faith and respect of his flock and means to increase belief and prayer for his deity by leading an army of wolves against his flock
26. The owner of a failing inn claims to have the entrance to a mysterious dungeon in his cellar hoping that the ruse will draw business from adventurers
27. A pack of displacer beasts/displacer beast lord are preying on farm animals and famers alike
28. Two rival gangs are actually devils and demons fighting a Blood War battle on the city streets
29. The daughter/apprentice of a caster that polymorphed himself into a golden cup and placed himself in the hoard of a green dragon in an attempt to learn more about dragons, but it has been weeks and he has not come home contacts the PCs
30. Reports that a gold dragon is ravaging the countryside turn out to be true. The dragon, sick with a rare disease, has gone mad and must be stopped
31. Grave robbers working for a necromancer are running out of graves and start looking for easy prey
32. A “red” dragon demanding tributes from a village is actually an especially greedy copper dragon
33. A killer is released from prison and the father of one of his victims stages a similar murder in the hopes of framing him
34. A traveling “holy man” is selling relics that disappear in the morning
35. The new judge is in fact a devil hoping to harvest souls for not guilty verdicts
36. A logging camped is being haunted by the ghost of a treant/forest haunt and his dryad followers
37. A band of fey have been stealing wine from a rural tavern
38. A good and helpful aranea has been captured and tried for murder while the true culprit is a drider that resides close by
39. A college that teaches science over magic opens and arcane casters start going missing
40. Drug related deaths lead the PCs to an evil alchemist
41. The PCs are hired to retrieve a meteor, but find it is being worshipped by a tribe of goblins/orcs/lizardmen etc
42. Several woman in the area are pregnant under strange circumstances, an incubus is to blame
43. An artifact is needed to avert a major catastrophe; its last known owner was Levistus the arch devil trapped within a glacier
44. The PCs must find a rare herb only known to grow within Gith monasteries
45. The PCs visit a strange village where all the people are simulacrums, an ancient wizards mark is seen everywhere
46. The PCs are sent to a distant land to find an NPC that it turns out has been dead for 20 years
47. The PCs must help an conflicted Erinyes to the Cradle of Creation (phb2) to be reborn into a non-evil body
48. A map leading to the legendary Shield of Prator has been found, it states that the shield is in the cave of a dracolich. The map was sent by the dracolich’s minions in the hopes of freeing their master who is sealed magically into his cave
49. A local orphanage is actually run by a demonic cultist that sacrifices the weak children and raises the strong ones to be followers
50. A powerful artifact that will allow teleportation through the layers of the abyss/hells has been uncovered and a race to claim it has begun. The PCs must beat the groups of devils and demons that see the artifact as a powerful tool to end the Blood War
51. An overmatched Marut seeks assistance with a powerful lich/vampire/mummy
52. Rumors of “The most powerful sword” lead the PCs to an evil, intelligent, dancing sword that can animate other weapons to fight for it
53. The PCs are sent to a battlefield to retrieve a family heirloom from a missing soldier where a necromancer and his corpse collector golem are raising the fallen as undead
54. A cult of Tiamat have discovered a spell that ages living creatures and they are trying to use it on dragon eggs to raise powerful allies
55. The PCs are sent to deal with a raiding ogre that turns out to be a gnome illusionist
56. The PCs are looking for an arrow used to slay a dragon a hundred years earlier, but when they pull the arrow from the dragon’s skeleton, it animates and attacks
57. The PCs need the help/information of a treant that will only add them if they agree to be shrunk down to clear out an infestation of insects that invaded his roots
58. The PCs are invited to a Three Dragon Ante tourney, either as guards, VIPs, or to play
59. A lawful good lich (Monsters of Faerun) seeks the PCs to protect him from a zealous paladin on a quest to rid the world of undead
60. Thieves have plundered a tomb and until his golden burial mask is returned, a ghost/ghast/specter will continue to kill innocent people
61. A group of fire giants has taken up residence in an inactive volcano, their activity threatens to awaken the volcano and cause widespread devastation
62. A grandmotherly, if slightly senile, NPC asks the players to rid her attic of rats. The rats are in fact a group of thieves trying to open a magical doorway left by the wizard that previously owned the home
63. A monster seen roaming close to town is actually a cursed person and not evil
64. The PCs find a genie in a bottle, but the genie agrees to help/grant wishes/serve only after the players travel to the City of Brass and save someone the genie cares about
65. The PCs find a wounded angel that is being hunted by powerful outsiders
66. A newly discovered dungeon is actually a complex trap to harvest souls/magic/life energy
67. The PCs must break an innocent man from a complex magical prison
68. Murders attributed to a small girl are being done by her doll, a slaymate (libris motris)
69. An ancient beholder has gone mad and his destroying the Underdark, driving monsters to the surface
70. A gnome settlement has been overrun by Drow displacing hundreds of citizens
71. A mad wizard has been selling potions that have poisonous/odd effects
72. Mind flayers are draining people of their quintessence in hopes of using the substance to return to the far realm from which aberrations came
73. A spelljammer has crashed in a remote forest/jungle and the inhabitants seek materials to repair their helm
74. A foreign diplomat seeks the party’s monk to protect him on a mission to a country/city where magic and weapons are not allowed
75. The tarrasque is wreaking havoc on the countryside and the party (lvl 10ish) must slow it down until the champions (20th) can arrive, but the tarrasque is actually a simulacrum (cr 10) sent by an outsider/caster/etc and not the real thing
76. Cultist seek a tablet that depicts a ritual that will summon a Fist of Spite (BoVD)
77. The party must save an NPC from the stomach demiplane of Dalmosh (MM5)
78. The guild master of the cooper’s guild wants to discredit the owner of a local winery with whom he has had an argument by poisoning his barrels
79. A local sage/astronomer is convinced that a massive meteor is going to strike the kingdom/city/town
80. The normally-inert gargoyles atop the temple/castle/mansion has have animated and started attacking people that approach the building
81. A group of bulettes are keeping anyone from entering or leaving the city/town/inn
82. A doppelganger/changeling serial killer claims the identity of their most recent victim for one week before killing again
83. A gnome settlement has been overrun by fiendish duergar led by a demon
84. PCs seek out a powerful dwarven, smith that traded his soul to Asmodeus for unearthly crafting abilities. Before the smith will help the PCs they must reclaim his soul from the arch devil
85. The players find/are sent to a city that that reflects the entire multiverse scaled down with a neutral inn in the center run by a power caster
86. The PCs search for a legendary library that when found, has no books only the corpses of long-dead sages and librarian clerics that use speak with dead to obtain the knowledge
87. The PCs need a party member/NPC raised from the dead but the only cleric powerful enough to do so has recently been turned by a vampire he was hunting
88. The PCs find/buy/are given a strange bag of holding that has a small pocket dimension inside it where a frightened caster hides. He/she created the bag to hide in and saw that it ended up in the PCs hands to keep it safe
89. The PCs seek an answer/information from a forgotten bard. When they find him, he is a ghost and he will only help them if they give him peace by finishing his final poem/song/movement
90. A chaotic good horselord (CAd) has lead all the horses in the region/city/town away into the hills to freedom
91. The huntsman of a local lord/mayor has kidnapped the NPC’s daughter, and only a highly trained tracker can follow the trail and find the girl
92. An aged and grizzled warrior is going town to town offering his magic sword/shield/armor to any fighter that can best him in honorable combat
93. After returning from a diplomatic journey, the noble/diplomat/prince/queen is acting strangely. The PCs are asked to look into it only to find that the NPC is a doppelganger/changeling/simulacrum/charmed/possessed
94. A pair of ethereal filchers are stealing all the curative magic in the area/city/town
95. The answer/riddle/name/code that the PCs require is etched onto the helm of a massive golem that paces a deadly dungeon
96. Monthly full moon attacks are blamed on a good lycan, and are actually being carried out by a pack of Moon Rats (MM2)
97. Summoned Thoqqua threaten to compromise the structural integrity of the city/town/inn/dungeon/ as they melt tunnels through the ground below
98. Centaur knights (phb2) are running any humanoid from their forest
99. The PCs are sought by the patrons of a desert land where a despotic temple of cleric charges impossibly high rates for fresh water to people not of their faith
100. A temple has hired a large number of bards for a festival where music is to be played from sun up until sundown, the only problem is that no one recalls the obscure holiday because it is a ruse to mask the sound of tomb robbers breaking into sealed vaults below the church
101. A xenophobic elvish lord has begun to arrest non-elves after his daughter eloped with a human
1. News spreads that a dragon was slain while away from his cave, a search for its unguarded hoard is underway
Wizards announced today the creation of a new video game, Sword Coast Legends. The game will use the 5e mechanics, and feature five player races and six classes. The game, set in Forgotten Realms, will also feature a DM mode where a player can create and run adventures for other players.
See the full article and screenshots here.
It looks amazing.
This past Saturday I ran my first 5e game. I’ve read the three core books and love the new system, but I really wanted to see how it worked at the table. There were a few confused moments, but no more than could be expected with a new edition. Here are a few thoughts from our session:
- While a bit murky at moments (death saves, no spell descriptions, etc.), the game still feels like D&D. This is a bit of a given, but some people fear that a new edition won’t feel like the game they’ve loved for years.
- Spells do a great deal more damage. With the general power curve of the game reduced in 5e, I’m not sure why spells do so much more damage now.
- The way spells prepared works is a bit different for 3.0/3.5 players, and vastly different for 4e players. The wizard and cleric (those were the only casters at the table, so this may apply to other classes as well) prepare a list of spells for the day (Their ability modifier + level) and then spontaneously cast from that list. For example, the wizard got four spells to prepare, but can only cast two spells. So the new system gives you a bit more versatility at the table.
- Sneak attack seemed particularly easy to use (no more flanking required) and quite deadly. Rogues seem to have gotten a serious overhaul in 5e.
- Advantage/Disadvantage really makes things quicker and easier than modifiers.
- Dexterity seems like a slightly over-powered attribute as it now applies to saves, ac, many skills, to hit, and damage. Additionally, with the loss of strength and half for two-handed weapons, dex fighters do seem to have a bit of an upper hand, though str fighters will still out damage dex fighters (slightly) and will have a (slightly) higher AC. The str fighters will still shine when things need lifted, when door need forced, gear needs carried, and when baddies need disarmed, bull-rushed, or grappled.
- Combat seemed much quicker. A party of three characters cleared six encounters in two hours. We started hacking and slashing at 9:30 and wrapped up our session at 11:30. Granted there wasn’t a great deal of NPC or roleplay-heavy encounters (I really just wanted to test combat), but it still seemed very quick.
- The monsters hit hard. The CR 2 black dragon laid out 66 damage (22 acid damage to three characters) when he caught three characters in his breath weapon. I guess now that HP’s don’t go into the negatives anymore, DM’s can knock players around with a lesser fear of a TPK.
All in all it seems like a solid system. It feels like a trimmed down third edition, though players from any edition will be able to see hints of all the previous editions.
Here is part two of our in-depth look at the 5e PHB.
One thing that bugs me about 5e is that they vastly limit the power level through ability score, but give ability bumps away like candy. For example, ability scores cannot go above 20 without the use of a powerful item (the old ability score improvement items, like Headband of Intellect only grant a score of 19, and give no benefit if you already have a 19+), but a character will receive +10 stat points from 1st to 20th. If a player rolls an 18 at creation, she will max out their prime requisite very quickly (immediately for some demihumans).
It just seems odd to cap scores at 20 and then give a ton of bonuses to them ( +2 or 2 +1’s five times before twentieth level).
All the standard races are represented, and there are no big surprises here. In addition to Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Half-Elves, Halflings, Half-Orcs, and Gnomes (back from their sabbatical in the 4e MM), Dragonborn and Tieflings have carried over from 4e. In addition, the Drow were added as a playable subrace (at your DM’s discretion), with no level adjustment or penalty.
Mike Mearls stated in a D&D Podcast that R&D wanted all standard races from all editions to be present in 5e. Fans of the Eladrin should note that while not in the PHB, they are present in the DMG.
I am thrilled to see that Wizards and the D&D team are posting content to the official site again. There has been a bit of an article drought while we waited for 5e. A new monthly series entitled,”Unearthed Arcana“, will, in R&D’s Mike Mearls words,”range from mechanics that we expect one day to publish in a supplement to house rules from our home campaigns that we want to share, from core system options such as mass combat to setting-specific material”.
The first installment Mearls converts some beloved Eberron material, specifically rules for adding:
- Changeling as a playable race
- Shifter as a playable race
- Warforged as a playable race
- Artificer as a wizard tradition
- Action Points
While I was never a big fan of Eberron, (I met Keith Baker at Gen Con two years ago and told him that his world appeared to have been designed by drunk twelve-year-olds with its dinosaurs and magic-monorails) Unearthed Arcana is exactly the rich, free content we were seeing before Fourth edition made the baby Jesus cry and forsake mankind. I suggest you download and save these free PDF’s while you can because as we saw with 3.0, 3.5, and 4.0, Wizards is notorious for removing archived materials. That said, we will start our own archive in the Pages section of B3 to house as many of the 5e PDF’s as we can (not just links to their current spot on Wizards.com).
I thought I could bang out a quick review of the 5e PHB as I did with the Monster Manual, but there is just far too much ground to cover. So I’ll give you my take on the classes first. I am happy with all the base classes in fifth, they seem balanced and the archetypes give them serious re-play value. Here is a brief break down:
Not much different here, this class will feel very familiar. The rage mechanics are far simpler as you no longer add stat points mid combat. Instead, you take less damage and do more damage. The barbarian has two paths; one that heightens the rage ability and one that is more spiritual and offers magical abilities (though not spell slots).
The bard gets a pretty big power bump in 5e as they now have access to spells all the way to ninth. As far as archetypes, they bard has two colleges to choose from, one that focuses on being in the thick of combat and rallying forces, and one that focuses on knowledge. Bards look cool to me for the first time (sorry to the three bard fans out there).
Largely unchanged, again this class will feel very familiar to pre-fourth players. Clerics only have one domain as do most gods in 5e (Side note, the PHB lists nearly every god in D&D history: Forgotten Realms, Dragon Lance, Greyhawk, etc., as well as many Earth pantheons, Greeks, Egyptians, etc it is an impressive list to compile your pantheon from.). There are seven domains to choose from: knowledge, life, light, nature, tempest, trickery, and war. The DMG also contains the death domain for evil characters.
No big changes for the druid. They choose from two paths one of which offers a broader range of spells dependent on the land type the druid protects, and the second offers more wild shape options. It looks like the animal companion got chopped.
The fighter has always been my favorite class and they get a lot of attention in fifth. They have three archetypes to choose from: the Champion is an easy to play fighter that requires little thought (along the lines of the 3.5 fighter) he hits, and he hits hard. The Battle Master reminds me of the classes from the Book of Nine Swords or maybe a 4e warlord; he has numerous maneuvers and abilities that he can choose from that aid his party and make him extremely interesting to play. He is slightly more complicated than the standard fighter but a refreshing change for those of us that want a more dynamic melee character. Lastly, the fighter can choose to be Eldritch Knight, which, much like the 3.5 prestige class it’s derived from, is a fighter mage with spells up to fifth level. 5e fighters are amazing.
I’ve never been a fan of the monk class and feel that it really doesn’t fit into the western feel of a largely medieval game, but with that said, the 5e monk is pretty cool as monks go. They have three paths: one that focuses on hand-to-hand combat, one that is essentially a ninja, and one that gets spell like abilities (though no spell slots).
The idea of a non-lawful good paladin isn’t a new idea, there have been paladin variants around for over thirty years and have always been met with mixed emotions. The 5e paladin comes in three varieties: the pain in ass lawful good chivalrous knight we all know and love, a neutral good, nature knight (an elven knight from Middle Earth), and a badass, don’t get in my way neutral or lawful neutral knight of vengeance that is on a mission to destroy evil and cares nothing for law or goodness. The DMG also has an Oathbreaker path for evil paladins that have strayed from the path of good. Not sure how I feel about the third option, but the pally has options for players that don’t want to go the boy scout path. Paladin also get their spells much earlier, and cast up to fifth-level spells.
The ranger, like the pally, see increased spell casting, and has two options: the beast master with his animal companion, and the hunter (who should probably be called a slayer) who focuses on hunting a favored enemy.
Like the fighter, the 5e rogue gets a lot of attention and has three paths to walk: the thief (no explanation needed), the assassin (first edition fans rejoice), and the arcane trickster who is essentially a rogue/mage.
Earlier in the 5e playtest the sorcerer has a vastly different and new approach to a spellcaster (as was the warlock), but fans shouted that idea down and the final product is fairly the same as it was in 3.5 or pathfinder. The sorcerer has two possible bloodlines: draconic and the much-loved wild magic. My beloved 3.5’s attempt at the wild mage in Complete Arcane was a joke, but the 5e wild mage is more akin to its 2e roots, complete with wild surge chart.
The warlock is once again a base class (one thing 4e did right). The warlock has invocations, as well as spell slots. The warlock derives their power from three possible sources: fiends, fey, and great old ones (yup, Cthulhu and his homeboys).
Finally, everybody’s favorite blaster caster, the wizard. Like the cleric, the wiz doesn’t see much of a change. At creation the wizard must choose one of the eight schools to specialize in, but he isn’t barred from other schools as we was in the past, he’s just better at one school.
All in all, the 5e player’s handbook gives you 12 base classes (the most of any PHB in the game’s forty year history) that after archetypes is actually 40 (42 if you allow evil characters) classes. That is pretty cool. Sure we lost prestige classes (for now), but can play a lot of those role more quickly. I am especially impressed with the fighters, monks, paladins, and rogues.
I just received my copies of the new D&D fifth edition core rulebooks. I only had time to look through the monster manual, but here are my initial thoughts.
My friends and fellow gamers will tell you that I am not easily impressed. In fact, I’m hypercritical to point of being offensive about TV shows, movies, books, and games. So when I say that I am thoroughly, truly, impressed with the quality and content of the new monster manual, it is high praise. I grumbled and complained when I had to convert from second to third, but I came around and have played 3.5 for fifteen years. I own nearly every 3.5 book (I skipped fourth edition all together because it was an abomination so vile it should have been smothered at birth and fed to a grick), so I am deeply invested in 3.5. That said, when I look through the fifth edition books, I get a sense of excitement and novelty that I haven’t felt since I started playing D&D over twenty years ago.
In no real order:
The Good Things
- The artwork (for the most part) is the best since the second edition Monstrous Compendium, but more so because these monsters are in color.
- The stat blocks are so clean, succinct, and easy to use, a novice DM can pick up the book and not be confused.
- Flavor has returned to D&D. One complaint I had about my beloved 3.5, is that much of the flavor and fluff present in second edition was removed and replaced with mechanics. The 5e MM has small inserts that outline legendary and familiar monsters or villains from D&D forty year past. For example, next to the Death Knight is a passage about Lord Soth and his history. The vampire entry features a picture of Strahd Von Varovich with a blurb about his history. The same is true for the Demilich, Acerack is pictured and a small insert details his story. (Not to start an edition/game war, but this deep history of beloved characters is what Pathfinder is missing)
- The stat blocks list average damage next to each attack along with the dice like this: 23 (4d8+5), this seems like a small detail, but it will greatly aid a DM running several monsters or a monster with numerous attacks, like a dragon or a hydra. Fifth edition truly strives to streamline the game when possible.
- Certain powerful creatures are “Legendary”, and have powers that lesser monsters don’t possess. Cooler still, is when you encounter a legendary creature in its lair, it gets to activate a lair power on 20 in the initiative order. So the red dragon might stomp the floor and cause a spurt of lava to jet up from the floor of his cave and burn the party. These legendary creatures also have regional effects that warp a radius around their lair.
- NPC’s. There is an appendix full of pregen NPC’s. Think of the second edition MM’s entry for humans. It listed pirates, laborers, spell casters, and knights. The 5e appendix is similar, filled with cultists and commoners that a DM’s job easier.
- A CR 30 Tarrasque. Finally, Big T is the baddest thing in the MM.
It is honestly hard to find anything bad to say about this book. I’ve added the few complaints that I came up with as I read, but they seem nit-picky.
- Flump? Seriously? You wasted a page on this?
- Not sure we needed a three-page spread dedicated to Modrons. I guess people dig em.
- Many monsters have been reduced in challenge rating. These creatures haven’t necessarily been reduced in power, but the MM is full of low CR monsters and it seems that fleshing out high-level adventures might be more difficult. For example: In the NPC section, the archmage is like level 18 (don’t quote me on that) and a CR of 12.
- My Biggest complaint: page 140 and 141 are blackened and completely unreadable. I will reserve nerd rage on this until I find out if I can return my copy for a replacement. In the meantime, my players can rest safely at night in the knowledge that I can’t send gargoyles after them.
- Dragons have been reduced to four age categories. Not sure this is a problem, I liked that there was a dragon for a variety of CR’s, but the drawback was that they weren’t completely fleshed out with feats. Now there are only four dragons and they give a complete stat block for each.
- The size of several monsters has changed and left many of my miniatures obsolete. The reverse is also true though, many monsters have changed to a size that is easier to manage. For example, the mimic is now medium (which makes more sense than a ten-foot wide chest) and I can use the amazing mimic miniature from Reaper’s Bones line.
Overall, the 5e MM is the best in years, if not the best ever in my opinion.