Saturday, April 4, 2015

New Monsters for D&D 5th Ed: Choker, Blazing and Decrepit Skeleton

I had some time last night and today to do some fun things after finishing off a deadline earlier in the week, so I set about writing up some monsters from previous editions of D&D that I like, but haven't appeared in 5th edition yet.

As usual, these are my first passes at these critters, so if you have feedback or advice, I'd love to hear it. I think they're fairly balanced and correct, but I haven't yet run them in a game (thought I may soon!).

I wish I had some kind of graphic design program, so I could make a pretty PDF, but I don't, so instead you'll have to take this text-only PDF, if you want one.


Chokers are small, cruel, and hate-filled monsters created long ago in the laboratory of some mad wizard or otherworldly being. They live underground or in heavily-shadowed areas that allow them to easily conceal themselves—both to keep them safe from predators and so they can attack from surprise. They are most often found in caves, tunnels, or the Underdark, but they’ve learned to live in large cities, specifically in sewers, crawl spaces, or other nooks and crannies that are easy to find in a city. Constantly on the lookout for food, chokers are nasty, evil creatures who prefer to work together to take down larger creatures before consuming them. Chokers have long, boneless arms and legs, more like tentacles than anything else, and walk with a strange, long, loping gait. While no taller than halflings, they look nothing like that race otherwise, instead they are gray skinned creatures with oversized hands lined with sharp spines, a hairless head with no nose, dark pits for eyes, and jagged teeth, and stunted feet with only a few long-nailed toes.

Nighttime Stalkers. During the daylight hours, chokers prefer to hide away, emerging from hiding only at night to hunt and inflict pain on others. Their preferred method of attack for a choker is to strike from surprise and wrap its pliable arms around its target’s neck, then slowly choke the victim to death. If attacking with others of its kind, one choker strangles the target while the others slash at it with their spiny tentacle-like arms.

Bauble Fascination. While not very bright, chokers are intelligent enough to understand that some things are valuable or important. Sometimes, this leads them to fixate on stealing a certain item from a person, like a brooch or shiny dagger, while other times a choker might become desirous of a fancy hat or cloak. As such, it’s entirely possible to find chokers bedecked in odd bits or clothing or secreting away odds and ends of uncertain value.
Small monstrosity, chaotic evil
AC 15 (natural armor)
HP 18 (4d6 + 4)
Speed 20 ft., climb 10 ft.
Str 16 (+3)   Dex 14 (+2)     Con 13 (+1)
Int 4 (-3)       Wis 13 (+1)     Cha 7 (-2)
Skills Stealth +6
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Undercommon
Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)
Quickness. The choker can take the Disengage or Move action as a bonus actions on each of its turns.
Multiattack. The choker makes two tentacle attacks.
Strangle. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (2d4 + 3) bludgeoning damage, and a Medium or smaller target is grappled (escape DC 13). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained and takes 5 (2d4) bludgeoning damage at the start of each of its turns, and the choker can’t strangle or use a tentacle attack against another target.
Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) piercing damage.


Blazing Skeleton                   
A blazing skeleton is the result of someone dying in a fire intense enough to reduce their body to smoldering black bones. The blazing skeleton is granted unlife due to the strong emotions it felt as it died or due to the presence of necromantic energy or evil linked in some way to fire or the hells.
Blazing Skeleton
Medium undead, lawful evil
AC 13 (armor scraps)
HP 26 (4d8 + 8)
Speed 30 ft.
Str 10 (+0)   Dex 14 (+2)     Con 15 (+2)
Int 6 (-2)       Wis 8 (-1)        Cha 5 (-3)
Damage Vulnerabilities bludgeoning, cold
Damage Immunities poison, fire
Condition Immunities exhaustion, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 9
Languages understands all languages it knew in life but can’t speak
Challenge 1 (200 XP)
Explosive Destruction. The blazing skeleton explodes in a fiery blast when it dies, and each creature within 10 feet of it must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw, taking 7 (2d6) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The explosion ignites flammable objects in that area that aren’t being worn or carried.
Fiery Aura. At the start of each of the blazing skeleton’s turns, each creature within 5 feet of it takes 3 (1d6) fire damage, and flammable objects in the aura that aren’t being worn or carried ignite. A creature that touches the blazing skeleton or hits it with a melee attack while within 5 feet of it takes 3 (1d6) fire damage.
Blazing Weapons. When the blazing skeleton hits with a melee weapon, it deals an extra 3 (1d6) fire damage (included in the attack).
Illumination. The blazing skeleton sheds bright light in a 10-foot radius and dim light for an additional 10 feet.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) slashing damage, plus 3 (1d6) fire damage.
Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage, plus 3 (1d6) fire damage.


Decrepit Skeleton                  
At one time the decrepit skeleton was a normal skeleton, but that was a long time ago. Now, so much time has passed that the necromantic energies keeping the skeleton animated have weakened and its bones have started to rot and fall apart. A decrepit skeleton creaks and bone dust falls from it with every motion. While they can still fight, they are weaker than other skeletons and shatter with almost any blow or crumble to dust when affected by the power of the gods.
Decrepit Skeleton
Medium undead, lawful evil
AC 12 (armor scraps)
HP 5 (1d8 + 1)
Speed 30 ft.
Str 10 (+0)   Dex 12 (+1)     Con 13 (+1)
Int 4 (-3)       Wis 6 (-2)        Cha 3 (-4)
Damage Vulnerabilities bludgeoning, radiant
Damage Immunities poison
Condition Immunities exhaustion, poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 8
Languages understands all languages it knew in life but can’t speak
Challenge 1/8 (25 XP)
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4 + 1) slashing damage.
Shortsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6 + 1) piercing damage.
Shortbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6 + 1) piercing damage.

I hope you get some good use out of these!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Playing Around With D&D: New Fighter Archetype

I'm sure this already exists online somewhere, but I didn't bother searching for it because I wanted to create my own version of fighter archetype that uses guns. 

One of my long-running Gamemasters used firearms in his games along with black powder and he did an excellent job of it. Firearms were exotic and cool -- and the powder itself was pretty dangerous.

Anyway, for this new edition of D&D, I wanted to write up a gunfighter or pistoleer or musketeer, or whatever you want to call it, so I did.

Personally, I think this archetype has one or two too many abilities, but in order to make it work the way I wanted, this is what I ended up with. It's also entirely possible I haven't thought through every rules problem well enough. While I like the Coolheaded abilities, adding that d4 to a cleric's bless d4 or a bard's bardic inspiration d4 or d6 might be a bit much. But then again, bless and bardic inspiration exist next to each other already, so maybe it's not so unbalanced. Some of the abilities are also limited so they only apply to firearms, so hopefully that balances the abilities a bit. (I made some edits so the abilities come at the correct levels.)

I should add, this archetype requires a new background to give it proficiency with gunsmithing tools and access to a pistol or musket, which is priced out of reach for beginning characters. I might write up that background at some point.

Anyway, enough talk! Check out my take on a gunfighter for D&D:

Black Powder Irregular
Some warriors work for lords who have mastered, or have themselves otherwise learned, the secret of black powder. These gunfighters are trained to keep their cool and make the most of every shot. This archetype uses only the Renaissance Items off the Firearms table (see the DMG, page 268).
Armor Mastery
Beginning at 3rd level, while you are wearing no armor and not wielding a shield, your AC equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Wisdom modifier. If you are wearing light or medium armor and not wielding a shield, you gain a +1 AC bonus.
Beginning at 3rd level, you gain advantage on initiative rolls, and, if you aren’t within 5 feet of an enemy when you attack, don’t move more than 5 feet during your turn, you may add 1d4 to your first attack roll with a pistol or musket.
Improved Critical
At 7th level, your pistol and musket ranged attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20.
Additional Fighting Style
At 10th level, you can choose a second option from the Fight Style class feature.
Improved Coolheaded
At 15th level, you may move up to 15 feet during your turn and still gain the bonus to your attack rolls as long as you’re not within 5 feet of an enemy when you attack, and may add 1d6 to two attack rolls with pistols or muskets instead of 1d4.
Improved Critical
Also starting at 15th level, your pistol and musket ranged attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 18–20.
Wounding Shot
Starting at 18th level, once per turn, when you hit a creature with an attack using a pistol or musket, you can wound the target. At the start of each of the wounded creature’s turns, it takes 1d4 damage for each time you’ve wounded it, and it can then make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, ending the effect of all such wounds on itself on a success. Alternatively, the wounded creature, or a creature within 5 feet of it, can use an action to make a DC 15 Wisdom (Medicine) check, ending the effect of such wounds on it on a success.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Playing Around with D&D: New Rogue Archetype

I had a player request a "cleric" version of the Arcane Trickster, meaning a rogue with the spellcasting abilities of a cleric instead of a wizard. I liked the idea and have played similar sorts of character in previous editions, usually created using multiclassing rules. But, since they already had the Arcane Trickster, it made sense to me that a divine version was within the realm of possibility.

I stuck pretty close to the Arcane Trickster on the whole, but tried to specialize the abilities to be more like a cleric's. The abilities tend to be more supportive and defensive than offensive, but still give the rogue a unique flavor. I stole and altered some of the abilities from the cleric class, trickery domain, and even from the wizard schools.

Feedback is welcome and I already plan to make some changes based on discussions with the player. I'm hoping to come up with some different and more interesting abilities than the ones I have here, so feel free to make suggestions.

With that out of the way, here's the ...

Divine Scoundrel
Even rogues have gods and many of those gods have priests who not only worship them, but also practice what they preach. These rogues are blessed by their gods with good fortune and quite a few tricks to make them better thieves, tricksters, confidence men, or any other sort of scofflaw.
When you reach 3rd level, you gain the ability cast spells. See chapter 10 for the general rules of spellcaster and chapter 11 for the cleric spell list.
Cantrips. You learn three cantrips: guidance and two other cantrips of your choice from the cleric spell list. You learn another cleric cantrip of your choice at 10th level.
Spell Slots. The Arcane Trickster Spellcasting table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.
For example, if you know the 1st-level spell bless and have a 1st-level and a 2nd-level spell slot available, you can cast bless using either slot.
Spells Known of 1st-Level and Higher. You know three 1st-level cleric spells of your choice, two of which you must choose from the enchantment and divination spells on the cleric spell list.
The Spells Known column of the Arcane Trickster Spellcasting table shows when you learn more cleric spells of 1st level or higher. Each of these spells must be an enchantment or divination spell of your choice, and must be of a level for which you have spell slots. For instance, when you reach 7th level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level.
The spells you learn at 8th, 14th, and 20th level can come from any school of magic.
Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the cleric spells you know with another spell of your choice from the cleric list. The new spell must be of a level for which you have spell slots, and it must be an enchantment or divination spell, unless you’re replacing the spell you gained at 8th, 14th, or 20th level.
Spellcasting Ability. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for your cleric, spells, since you gain your spells directly from a god of thieves and trickery. You use your Wisdom whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Wisdom modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a cleric spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.
                Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier
                Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier
Cunning Guidance
Starting at 3rd level, when you cast guidance, you can choose to do any of the following with that same casting.
  • You can cast guidance at a range of 30 feet instead of a range of touch.
  • When you cast the spell on another person, you can choose to have that same casting target you as well. The spells are treated as one for the purposes of Concentration and if one use of the spell is expended, the other instance doesn’t end until used, it ends (due to time or loss of concentration), or you cast the spell again.
  • You can cast guidance without its vocal or somatic components. You choose which when you cast the spell.
Expanded Spell List
Starting at 9th level, your god grants you spells normally only available to clerics of that deity. Once you gain a spell from the Divine Scoundrel Spells list, you always have it prepared, and it doesn’t count against the number of spells you can prepare each day.
If you have a spell from the Divine Scoundrel Spells list that doesn’t appear on the cleric spell list, the spell is nonetheless a cleric spell for you.
        Divine Scoundrel Spells
            Rogue Level           Spells
                   9th                       charm person, disguise self
                  11th                      mirror image, pass without trace
                  14th                      blink, dispel magic
                  17th                      dimension door, polymorph
                  20th                      dominate person, modify memory
Insightful Guidance
At 13th level, you gain the ability to use the insight granted by guidance to get the upper hand in combat. As a bonus action on your turn, you can choose to end a guidance spell you cast on yourself. Doing so gives you advantage on your next attack roll until the end of the turn.
Illusory Decoy
At 17th level, you can create an illusory duplicate of yourself or another creature as an instant, almost instinctual reaction to danger. When a creature makes an attack roll against you or another creature up to 30 feet away that you can see, you can use your reaction to interpose an illusory duplicate between the attacker and the target of the attack. The attack automatically misses, then the illusion disappears.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.