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Star(fall Damage) #40

Star(fall Damage) #40 published on 5 Comments on Star(fall Damage) #40

I want to add to this my “Three Step” rule, because I tend to have the environment have the occasionally lethal challenge in it. (I say “my,” but I’ve been playing this game for ages and consuming content on how to DM it for just as long; I almost certainly read or heard this somewhere else, but the original source is far receded into the fog of time for me.)

The three step rule is easy. In it, players fail three times to reach the really bad consequences, but succeed once to proceed. I don’t use it for everything – just where the stakes are much, much higher than normal. I do it for two reasons — it mitigates “save or suck” mechanics, like turning to stone, but it also ramps up the excitement of tense moments.

For example, suppose an ogre shoves a rogue over the edge of a cliff. Suddenly we’re making dex saving throws, but those dex saving throws are really death saves in disguise, because I know, as the DM, that the fall is too high to reasonably survive.

Our rogue fails the first dex save. He falls over the edge of the cliff and the ogre laughs. But! He was just quick enough and just wily enough to grab out to the cliff’s edge with one hand. (For the best effect, ask the player if they have a reaction. They tend to do their best thinking when their entire character sheet is on the line.)

He’s now prone, mechanically speaking, but the way we’re expressing in the game narrative is that he’s hanging onto the edge of the cliff by one hand. He can make a new dex save at the start of his turn. If he succeeds, he pulls himself up. If he fails, his hand slips and (for example) he lands painfully on a small outcropping of unstable rock. He’s one check away from getting himself out of the situation, but also one failed save away from taking all that gygaxian fall damage. In the meantime, the ogre and the rest of the party are doing stuff — possibly saving him or dropping rocks on his head.

However the next bit plays out, it’s far more memorable than simply vanishing over the edge of a cliff and splatting on the rocks below, and the death (if it happens) feels more fair, even though you actually stacked the deck in the players’ favor.

You can use this in a lot of places, and can use it to create consequences with more gradation in them than life or death. Failed stealth check that seems like the only outcome would be to wake up a dragon? The player’s character crunches the rocks and the dragon stirs to yawn — repeat the check. Fail again? The dragon starts looking around suspiciously. What do you do? Fail a third time? Initiative! Save? The dragon is awake and alert now, but doesn’t see you.

So next time you’re dealing with a save or suck mechanic, consider dividing it into three saves next time. Three saves to fail, one check to recover.

Culture & Physiology: Pick-a-Path Races for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

Culture & Physiology ver. 3

Culture & Physiology ver. 3 published on No Comments on Culture & Physiology ver. 3

Culture & Physiology 3.0

Our next splatbook is going to be a document for expanded weapons feats. the working title is “Keelie’s Guide to Fucking Shit Up” but I might rein that in a bit. In the meantime, I am still tweaking Culture & Physiology, so here’s a new version of it:

Patch Notes:
Nerfed traits that grant spells, bringing them in-line with the core rulebook tiefling.
Moved the cantrip to a new trait.
Buffed Pack Instincts to better clarify its mechanical role.
Added clarity to and renamed “Other.”
Nerfed Deep Cultural Hatred; it was too strong in actual play. I now understand 5e’s mechanical problem with the ranger’s “Favored Enemy” feature. I might change this to “reroll missed attacks one time versus this enemy” instead of extra damage as I test that feature.
There may be other changes I am missing.

I have been calling this 1.0, 2.0, 3.0 in the title of this instead of the actual patch number, which is 1.1.0. – I think it’s a little clearer to people that this is the 3rd release of a thing that way, but for my internal use, I strongly prefer semantic versioning.

Culture & Physiology: Pick-a-Path Races for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition

Culture & Physiology: Pick-a-Path Races in D&D 5e

Culture & Physiology: Pick-a-Path Races in D&D 5e published on No Comments on Culture & Physiology: Pick-a-Path Races in D&D 5e

Meant to replace the race feature of a D&D 5e character, this module allows players nearly infinite possible ways to create balanced homebrew races.

More than that, though, it allows players and DMs to have conversations about the mechanics of their game world. For example, in a campaign world that is all human, players can decide what physical and cultural attributes make their human distinct from all the others. Weapons training? Magic training? A beefy build? Mechanics usually gated behind non-human races are suddenly available to players in a restricted campaign setting. Everyone in the party can be human and still mechanically distinct.

Likewise, in a setting with no limits on race, this splat book allows players to let their imaginations take control of character creation. Cactus-folk? Done. Half-tarrasque, half-ochre jelly? Done.

This is a slender book at 4 pages, with easy-to-follow instructions that fit the spirit of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition’s simplicity.

Follow the link below to grab the PDF. It’s Pay-What-You-Want, so help yourself.

Culture & Physiology: Pick-a-Path Races for D&D 5e