Sunday, July 22, 2018

dice decay probabilities

Messing around with supply dice in a game. Here are the average number of times you can expect a die of a size to last if it decays to the next smaller sizer on a 1 or a 2, then be expended after 1.

dminimum usesavg uses

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Dog Weapons

Retrieving bolts
    Golden-tufted crossbow bolts. Feel kind of stupid in the hand.
    Drag struck creatures backwards.

Dirt knife
    Jumpy dagger with itchy, stocky, wire-wrapped handle.
    Vermin bane.

Flushing spear
    Long spear with a bifurcated, wavy head.
    Strains towards nearest hiding creature, granting holder advantage to find them.

Pit cestus
    Stinky, tooth-studded bandages with a thick metal ring around the middle knuckles.
    Advantage to maintain (not enter or escape) a grapple.

Barrel-down greatsword
    Huge blade is perpetually cold and damp. Banded, barrel-like wooden handle.
    Once per day, dispenses medicinal brandy from handle (as healing potion, plus tipsy).

Hounding blade
    Baying is heard in the distance when this short sword is drawn.
    Checks to track anyone hurt by this blade have advantage until the wound is healed.

Puppy shot
    Wiggly and soft arrows, bolts, or stones.
    For each damage that would be dealt, instead a healthy puppy drops to the ground. If reared to adulthood, might have hints of struck creature.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Trapper 5E Rogue Archetype

This steps on the ranger's toes a bit, but it's for a game without rangers.

Said game also doesn't have the Arcane Trickster archetype, so I was okay letting this be a little more complex to take up that design space.

I took the Survivalist feature directly from the published Scout archetype.

Also includes a rules for grenades.


When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in the Nature and Survival skills. Your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses either of those proficiencies.


Trapper's Kit: You have assembled a trappers' kit. It is a unique combination of wires, vials, blasting caps, strings, acids, and other interesting odds and ends you've "acquired" in your travels. In conjunction with thieves' tools, it allows you to improvise traps.

The trapper's kit has 4 uses. Whenever you take a short or a long rest, you're able to repurpose and cannibalize portions of it and your environment to restore all expended uses.

Your kit gains another use at 9th and 17th level.

Trap Proficiency: Starting at 3rd level, add your proficiency modifier to any attacks by, saving throws against, or checks to detect or escape from traps you set. Ball bearings, caltrops, grenades, hunting traps, and nets count as traps.

You can use the bonus action granted by your Cunning Action to Ready, but only to respond to a creature you can see taking damage from a trap you set. If this trigger occurs, you can use your reaction to add half your sneak attack dice to the trap's damage (round up).

Additionally, you can use this bonus action and 1 use of your kit to produce a simple trap which emulates a bag of ball bearings, caltrops, a grenade, a hunting trap, or a net. These aren't durable and cease to be effective after 1 minute.

Improvised Traps: Choose 2 of the following improvised traps you're familiar with.

By spending 1 minute, 1 use of your trapper's kit, thieves' tools, and items scrounged from your surroundings, you set one of the chosen traps.

You can reliably improvise a number of traps equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum 1). When you set another, one of the existing ones, determined at random, fails and becomes harmless.

You can choose another improvised trap to be familiar with at 9th, 13th, and 17th level.

The DC to avoid, disarm, or detect any of these trap effects is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier.

Improvised Traps

Alarm: When you set this trap, choose if it will be subtle or blaring. When tripped, you automatically hear the subtle version it within 60 feet, but anyone else must make a Wisdom (Perception) check against the trap's DC to tell they have tripped it. The blaring version is audible up to a mile away outdoors.

Bomb: Each creature in a 10-foot-radius sphere centered on the triggering creature must make a Dexterity saving throw. They take 4d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Audible up to a mile away outdoors.

Dart: The trap makes an attack against the triggering creature, adding your proficiency bonus and your Intelligence modifier, for 2d6 damage. Extremely quiet.

Flash: A blinding light flares in a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on the triggering creature. All within must pass a Constitution saving throw or be blinded. They can attempt a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns.

Release: A container rigged to open or break when the trap is sprung. You must provide something to fill it with. A pint will affect the triggering creature. A gallon will usually affect anything within 10 feet of the triggering creature.

Common choices include: Ball bearings, resin, acid, grease, holy water, bees, scorpions, caltrops, confetti or glitter, stinky muck.

Snare: The triggering creature must pass a Dexterity saving throw or be restrained. It can use its action to make another Dexterity saving throw at disadvantage to escape. You may opt to construct this trap such that it deals 1d6 damage when it initially restrains a creature.


Starting at 9th level, moving through nonmagical difficult terrain costs you no extra Movement.

In addition, while traveling for an hour or more in the wilderness, your group moves more effectively under your leadership:
  • Moving at a fast pace does not impose a penalty to passive Wisdom (Perception) scores.
  • Your group can use stealth at a normal pace.
  • Moving at a slow pace allows your group to use stealth and imposes disadvantage on any Wisdom (Survival) checks made to track you and them.

Urgent Improvisation

At 13th level, you can create an improvised trap as an action rather than in a minute by spending twice its uses from your trapper's kit.

Chain Reaction

Starting at 17th level, if a creature takes damage from or fails a saving throw against a trap you set, your first attack next round against it has advantage.

Simple Traps

These are provided for reference. Add your proficiency bonus to any of these traps' DCs when you use them, and to any attack roll you make with them.

Ball Bearings: As an action, you can spill these tiny metal balls from their pouch to cover a level, square area that is 10 feet on a side. A creature moving across the covered area must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw or fall prone. A creature moving through the area at half speed doesn’t need to make the save.

Caltrops: As an action, you can spread a single bag of caltrops to cover a 5-foot-square area. Any creature that enters the area must succeed on a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw or stop moving and take 1 piercing damage. Until the creature regains at least 1 hit point, its walking speed is reduced by 10 feet. A creature moving through the area at half speed doesn't need to make the saving throw.

Grenade: As an action, you can throw a grenade up to 60 feet. Make a ranged Attack, modified by cover, treating the grenade as an improvised weapon. At the start of your next turn, the grenade explodes. Everything within a 10-foot-radius centered on it must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw. They take 2d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. A creature can use its action to attempt a Dexterity saving throw with a DC equal to your attack roll to pick up the grenade and throw it back. On a failure, it explodes immediately, and they cannot attempt a saving throw for half damage.

Hunting Trap: When you use your action to set it, this trap forms a saw-toothed steel ring that snaps shut when a creature steps on a pressure plate in the center. The trap is affixed by a heavy chain to an immobile object, such as a tree or a spike driven into the ground. A creature that steps on the plate must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or take 1d4 piercing damage and stop moving. Thereafter, until the creature breaks free of the trap, its Movement is limited by the length of the chain (typically 3 feet long). A creature can use its action to make a DC 13 Strength check, freeing itself or another creature within its reach on a success. Each failed check deals 1 piercing damage to the trapped creature.

Net: A Large or smaller creature hit by a net is Restrained until it is freed. A net has no effect on creatures that are formless, or creatures that are Huge or larger. A creature can use its action to make a DC 10 Strength check, freeing itself or another creature within its reach on a success. Dealing 5 slashing damage to the net (AC 10) also frees the creature without harming it, ending the effect and destroying the net. When you use an action, Bonus Action, or reaction to Attack with a net, you can make only one Attack regardless of the number of attacks you can normally make.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Goblin Names

Quick d50 table for generating goblin names. Roll twice, and consider adding "-y" or "-er" to the result. Some tests:
  • wormhag
  • bucketmilk
  • touchcrow
  • hogcapper
  • chubwee
  • wax nurse
1-2: wiggle
3-4: papa
5-6: pulp
7-8: slurp
9-10: uncle
11-12: hog
13-14: juice
15-16: kiss
17-18: eel
19-20: hunch
21-22: wee
23-24: nub
25-26: cap
27-28: jowl
29-30: friend
31-32: egg
33-34: tail
35-36: wax
37-38: curd
39-40: skin
41-42: berry
43-44: pig
45-46: whisker
47-48: knuckle
49-50: pluck
51-52: gut
53-54: puss
55-56: hag
57-58: clutch
59-60: mama
61-62: bump
63-64: cow
65-66: blossom
67-68: crow
69-70: bucket
71-72: snail
73-74: suck
75-76: chunk
77-78: worm
79-80: nail
81-82: munch
83-84: milk
85-86: dirt
87-88: auntie
89-90: nurse
91-92: touch
93-94: crinkle
95-96: grunt
97-98: grin
99-100: chub

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Hit Dice and Magic

I have written before about finding more uses for Hit Dice in 5th edition D&D. Here are a couple more ideas.

These make more sense if you consider a HD to be some manifestation of your will. Normally you use it to pull your own body back together from injury, but why not spread it around?

Wizards Copying Spells

Instead of spending 50 gold per spell level on rare inks and such to copy a spell into a wizard's spellbook, spend 2 HD per spell level.

You can split the effort across multiple rests. (1st-level wizards must do this.)

Specialists only need to spend 1 HD per spell level for spells in their school.

This seems like a reasonable extension of the wizard's will. I also tend to play in resource-scarce settings where there's never an opportunity to buy or make these inks. Also makes wizards a bit squishier, or opens up interesting possibilities around periods of vulnerabilities for wizards.

Instead of Costly Components

I've never really been a fan of the component system for magic since 3rd edition. That's probably a different post.

Require the caster to expend HD instead of requiring material components with a gp cost for spells. Most spells which require costly components are creating some kind of lingering effect or awareness or imposition of will - if you think of spending HD as imbuing something else with a sliver of yourself this works out fine.

Quick look at the spells with costly components in the SRD, I would break them down like this:
  • 1 HD: Arcane Lock, Augury, Divination, Find Familiar, Guards And Wards, Illusory Script, Magic Mouth, Magnificent Mansion, Nondetection, Programmed Illusion, Project Image, Teleportation Circle, True Seeing
  • 2 HD: Arcane Sword, Circle Of Death, Clairvoyance, Continual Flame, Find The Path, Glyph Of Warding, Greater Restoration, Identify, Legend Lore, Magic Circle ,Magic Jar, Raise Dead, Revivify, Stoneskin, Warding Bond
  • 3 HD: Awaken, Contingency, Forbiddance, Forcecage, Hallow, Heroes' Feast, Holy Aura, Instant Summons, Planar Binding, Reincarnate, Resurrection, Scrying, Shapechange, Simulacrum, Symbol
  • 4HD: Clone, Gate, Sequester
Then there are are a few weird ones:
  • Astral Projection: 2 HD per subject
  • Create Undead: 1 HD per corpse
  • Imprisonment: 1 HD per HD
  • Secret Chest: Breaks all the rules. At a wash, the creation of the miniature chest takes a HD, and the creation of the large chest takes another, which it keeps. If you lose the large chest you lose a HD. Adventure onto the ethereal plane to get it back.
  • True Resurrection: 1 HD per HD 
Your wizards will look at this change like some kind of godsend, until an expedition doesn't go as planned, or an assassin sneaks into their home following the theft of a spellbook.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Low-HP 5e

Some quick ideas on how to lower the HP cap for PCs and NPCs. There's lots of discussion around why you'd want to do this, but some reasons you might consider:
  • De-emphasizes combat.
  • Emphasizes social solutions and creative problem solving.
  • Encourages DM to come up with interesting interactions with NPCs.
  • Up the realism.
  • Monsters stay monstrous.
  • Don't have to worry about balancing encounters.
Some relevant discussion here. I also swear I read a good article about capping HP in LoTFP or other such OSR recently but I can't find it for the life of me.

Note that while these changes should be applied to most NPCs and humanoids if they're being applied to the players, they should not be applied to monsters.

Constitution == Max HP.

Probably the most drastic change. A 1st-level character under this option is likely to be a little tougher than by default, but it's slow going from there. Only by increasing your Constitution score will your max HP increase, and even then it's a soft cap of 20 and a hard cap of 30.

I would probably limit characters to a single HD under this system.

This has the added benefit of being simple to apply to NPCs.

Ability Score Increase == HD.

Every four levels or so, you get another HD. Your max HP increases like the default rules.

This should produce gradual progress, and not require many other changes, but still have PCs with only about a fifth their default HP resources.

For NPCs you could probably just divide their HP and HD by 5 (round up).

Interesting side effect: High-level Fighters will end up with more HD than other classes.


You get HD and max HP normally until level 4 or so. Then you stop.

Pretty easy to eyeball this for NPCs. Since there's a cap you could even make a little table of Level/Con Modifier. Like this!

Con \ HD

You'll never have to track more than 30 points of damage on an NPC under this approach.

Small Max HP Per Level

Your max HP increases each level, but only by an amount fixed by your class, or your Constitution modifier, whichever is greater (minimum 1).

I'd probably set the per-class level based on a ranking of HD, so:
  1. Sorcerer, Wizard
  2. Bard, Cleric, Druid, Monk, Rogue, Warlock
  3. Fighter, Paladin, Ranger
  4. Barbarian
NPCs that use d8 for HD end up with about 40% of their default HP.

Magic Considerations

Under any of these, spells that grant HP increases like aid and heroes' feast become much more powerful. I would consider reducing any increases to max HP based on the spell level, or they'll likely become something the party feels like they always have to cast, and that's not interesting. Aid might grant 2 HP per level of casting instead of 5, for example.

Low-level healing spells remain useful for much longer, which means more high-level spell slots are available for other types of magic.

High-level destructive spells become one of the few hopes of defeating high-level monsters in direct combat, which feels right in a certain kind of game. Wizards and sorcerers become more like the glass cannons of older editions.