Archive for the Dungeons and Dragons Category

5e Improv Cheat Sheet

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , on August 12, 2015 by boccobsblog

Improv just got easier! We’ve updated the Oh Sh!t Sheet for D&D fifth edition. This handout contains several useful charts to help a DM trapped in an “oh shit” moment, when the players take you in a direction you weren’t expecting and you need to come up with something on the fly.
Pretty self-explanatory. This is usually the first place a DM gets tripped up at improv. Your PC’s interact with a seemingly unremarkable NPC that you’ve written nothing about and for some reason they ask for his/her name, you can grab one quickly off your sheet and it will seem planned.You may also be interested in our longer name list posted a few years back: Names.
We’ve added a few “mostly” non-combat encounters that could be dropped into a session that runs short or goes off the rails entirely. Be sure to check out our 5e Skills challenge conversion sheet: Skills Cheat Sheet
I love the simplicity of the 5e trap system. Just slap a common trap archetype on the table like a  pit, chest, rigged door, etc and the chart does the rest. This chart can be used for unintentional traps as well; like removing someone from a burning building, falling debris or a weak floor in an abandoned building.
Urban Locales
This is a list of possible urban locations when you need a business or place name on the fly. They are generic enough to drop in any city of village.
Wilderness Locales
This area works like the Urban section, all the names are generic enough to be used in any setting. Additionally, the geographic features are small enough to explain their absence from a campaign map. We avoided rivers, mountains, oceans, etc. that would seem conspicuously absent from lore and instead used creeks, hills, and ponds that will provide you an instant location for your impromptu quest.
Hard Encounter Cheat Chart
This handy gem comes to us directly from Mike Shea is all about making a DM’s life easier and is known best for his book, The Lazy Dungeon Master. Shea’s chart is the quickest and simplest way to create an encounter on the fly. Mike was kind enough to allow us to replicate his work so check out his site; there are a lot of amazing articles over there.

Instant NPCs

These three NPCs are the most common you’ll need in village or city setting and are taken directly from the D&D 5e PDF’s on each stat block has a few possible quirks to make the NPC memorable.

It is impossible to plan for every possible scenario in a D&D session, but hopefully this handout will help when your players taken you off the planned path. Now when they ask about an NPC you didn’t plan for, you can quickly reply with a name and a quirk and even have stats should you need them.

Improv Sheet 5e

5e Skill Challenges

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, D&D Next, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , on July 17, 2015 by boccobsblog

While I disliked many aspects of D&D fourth edition, I did like skill challenges. The following article outlines my conversion of that system to fifth edition. Credit where credit is due-this article draws heavily on the skill challenge chapter of the fourth edition Dungeon Master’s Guide II.

Choosing the Skills (and non-skills) for the Challenge
The short answer is, don’t choose any. Present the party with a problem or scenario and let them decide how best to deal with it rather than drawing a box of skills and secondary skills to confine your players, give them free rein to come up with a creative solution. Reward creative thought, award successes for non-skills too, for example if the players want to use a magical item, or a spell in place of a skill. Perhaps they bride the gruff city guard rather than try to use the persuasion skill.

Level of Complexity
Fourth edition used a five-tier complexity system for its skill challenges and I’ve reduced this to four to make it align better with fifth’s easy, medium, hard, deadly encounter scheme. Select a level of complexity from one to four. If your players are just poking about a small village trying to solve a crime, a one should do, however, if they are taking a voyage across a desert or sailing an airship to another country, perhaps a level four challenge is in order. Note: complexity differs from difficulty. Complexity only refers to the number of steps involved in the challenge, not how difficult those steps are. To be successful the players will need x number of successes before y number of failures. I’m using the patterns from fourth edition’s DMG2 where they refined the numbers published in the original 4e DMG.

Complexity Successes Failures
1                 4               3
2                 6               3
3                 8               3
4                10              3

Difficulty Class for 5e Skills/Ability Checks
Much like encounter creation, use a varying degree of difficulty for each step of your challenge. Lob a few soft balls (DC 10 – 15), and put a few challenges in their path (DC 20). Keep in mind that DC’s for skills are much lower fifth edition than they were for third and fourth. Without all those modifiers, the bar needs to be a bit lower. Gone are the days of fifth level bards rolling fifty on their perform checks.

Skill Difficulty Class
Very Easy 5
Easy 10
Medium 15
Hard 20
Very Hard 25
Nearly Impossible 30

Dealing with Failure
What if you players botch a roll or fail the challenge entirely? Failure shouldn’t end the adventure, it should just change the path the players need to take. If your players stealth through the prison but fail to unlock the door to the cell of the NPC they were sent to free, unlock the door but sound an alarm or alert the guards. Here are some ideas for failed rolls or failed challenges:

Possible Consequences for Failure:
• Increase the CR of the next encounter or raise the DC of the next skill roll
• Wandering monster
• Loss of a resource (Spell slot, per-rest power, hit dice, etc.)
• Apply a condition (poisoned, fatigued, etc)
• Inflict a curse or disease
• Expenditure of money or time
• Decrease an NPC’s attitude a step
• Disallow additional uses of that skill
• Damage
• Impose disadvantage on the next roll

Experience Points for Skills Challenge
Giving XP for role playing is a great way to reward RP, but it can be difficult to decide how much XP is warranted. I think the “XP Threshold by Character Level” is a good place to start. Try awarding each player XP based on the chart below based on the complexity of the challenge (1-4) and character level.
Xp Threshold

I hope this conversion helps you maintain a healthy balance of Role and Roll. I would welcome any feedback you may have in the comments section below. Please download the free, Boccob’s Blessed Blog 5e Skill Challenge Cheat Sheet below.

Final Thoughts
A good skills challenge should:
• Involve each player
• Use several skills
• Allow successes from non-skills
• Reward creativity
• Measure how well the PCs succeed, not if they succeed.

Skills Cheat Sheet

5e Psionics Playtest Released

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , on July 6, 2015 by boccobsblog

Wizards just released a new Unearthed Arcana article containing rules for fifth edition psionics. The article contains a new base class, the Mystic, (that only goes to level five) and two psionic orders (Order of the Awakened, and Ordered of the Immortal). Wizards is asking for playtesters to download the new rules, use them in their home game, and fill out the next survey.

Love em or hate em, here are the 5e Psionics.

UA Psionics

5e Resource Archive Added

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , on July 1, 2015 by boccobsblog

We’ve just added an archive page for official 5e resources released by Wizards. The archive will house the actual PDF’s released by Wizards, not just links to the documents because in the past we’ve linked to free materials only to have them removed from If there is a resource missing from the page, please let us know and we’ll add it.

101 D&D Quest Ideas (repost)

Posted in D&D Fifth Edition, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , , on February 13, 2015 by boccobsblog

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

First 5e Game Notes

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, Dungeons and Dragons with tags , on February 9, 2015 by boccobsblog

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.

Review of the 5e Player’s Handbook (Ability Scores & Races)

Posted in D&D 5e, D&D Fifth Edition, Dungeons and Dragons, Wizards of the Coast with tags , , on February 6, 2015 by boccobsblog

Here is part two of our in-depth look at the 5e PHB.

Ability Scores

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.


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