Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Treasure Compendium - Custom Magical Curios from 5th Edition D&D - Entry 2

(There are few resources available for magical treasure in the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons until the source books are published later this year. Until then, I am building custom treasures and sharing it here as the adventuring company in my new campaign discovers them. The system has great tools for making custom content.)

Last week the adventuring company wandered north of the town to investigate a disturbance near a lumberjack camp. They ended up fighting off a host of Twig Blights, Fire Beetles, a Giant Tick, and several packs of Wolves led by Dire Wolves. (There are 10 people in the company, so the fights are large). Fortunately 5th edition combat plays so quickly that handling 10 players was easy. They went through five waves of combat over the course of three encounters. Plus RP, plus kicking around a forest, and the session only took about three hours.

Dire Wolves are monstrously large beasts. One of the clerics in the company, Father Nexus, rightly concluded that such a great beast may have swallowed something intact. A few slices later (and a roll on my random treasure table) yielding a magical shortbow.

Later in the afternoon, the company assisted an NPC Druid in a ritual to create a barrier between the evil presence at the center of the forest and a place where the lumberjacks could return to harvest wood (as long as they also replanted). As a reward (and another roll), the party was gifted a magical ring.

Here are the details on the magical items!

Windlass, the Tanglebow
This shortbow is made from elegant white ash. The limbs of the bow sweep gracefully back from the riser and curl into a tight spiral at the tips.
Attuned: When a charge is expended, medium or smaller based targets hit by an attack from this bow have Disadvantage on STR checks and cannot take the Dash action. This lasts for a number of rounds equal to the level of the attacker. Unless the target passes a DC 13 STR save on their turn, they lose 30’ of movement. The bow has 5 charges. It regains 2 charges per day unless drained. If drained it remains uncharged for 3 days before regaining charges normally.

Ring of Luck
A simple band of dull metal. It resizes itself to fit comfortably onto any finger.
Attuned: Expend a charge as a reaction when an attack targets you. Choose one: Gain advantage on your next attack or give Disadvantage to your attacker. The ring has four charges. It recharges one charge per day. If drained, it remains uncharged for five days before recharging normally.

I made the bow in response to a request on Twitter. I have tweaked the language a bit and added charges in to moderate the power level. Magical rings are awesome. Charges are a fantastic way to introduce consumeable resources into a permanent magic item. The goal of charged items is to present a few uses relatively cost free and then a choice: use the last charge and suffer the cool down penalty, or go without.

The attunement requirement in 5th edition is great for limiting the shoe closet of magic item choices. It also means the company has to decide well ahead of an adventure who is going to benefit from what magical items.

Today I added three more items into my list. I will probably make a few more over lunch. There are ten members in my adventuring company, so I am not worried at this point about flooding them with magic items. The company can run thirty attuned magical items total. Even if they uncover two or three items in every significant quest, that is a long way to go before decisions about what to wear are going to become challenging.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Treasure Compendium - Custom Magical Curios from 5th Edition D&D - Entry 1

I am incredibly excited about the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons. I ran a 1st edition campaign for eighteen months (it wrapped up last year) and 5th edition feels like 1st edition minus the cruelty. It's awesome.

My new campaign started recently and I don't have much to go on for published magical items for my adventuring company. But I have all these ideas and tools given to me by this new system. Things like bounded accuracy, long and short rests, advantage and disadvantage, proficiency, charges … all of these are fantastic levers for creating custom items.

As my adventurers encounter the treats and traps I have placed in campaign, I'll post them here. Perhaps others will find them interesting and useful.

In their first adventure, the company defeated a teeming nest of giant rats in an ancient cellar broken in to by some contractors rebuilding a section of town. Among the filth, they recovered some coin and two potions. One was a standard healing potion from the starter set. The other is a custom item.

Potion of Inspiration

For 1d4+1 rounds, all attacks, skill checks, and saves are made with Advantage. If a Disadvantage would apply, the effects of the potion cancel out the Disadvantage (the roll is made with neither Advantage or Disadvantage)

There are a few pitfalls I want to avoid with custom items. I want to steer clear of healing without a specific reason. The system works the way it does because of the healing system. Healing potions are expensive. And long rests are useful. Also, I want to avoid giving away features. The fighter has Second Wind. I am not going to give that to anyone else.

The days of the ubiquitous +1 magic sword are gone for me. All my magical weapons will have names. Few of them will have straight bonuses. But the levers of advantage and disadvantage are great. A sword with advantage is usually as good or better than a +1 sword!

Other keys are going to be using rests, attuning, and charges to modulate power levels. Characters can only have three attuned items, so they better make good choices. I am a big fan of consumables. The Potion of Inspiration is very powerful, but it is uncommon and temporary.

Let's see if they find anything interesting during tonight's adventure!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Warmachine Battle Report: Morvahna the Dawnshadow vs. Vice Scrutator Vindictus

I recently took a swing at Morvahna2 thanks to a kind offer from one of my friends. He had not played her before and was pretty rusty at Circle (his primary faction is Cryx). But, I am in practice mode and needed the matchup experience. The first list I threw at him was my Vindictus Tier 4, Missionaries of War.

I took my sweet time getting around to writing this one, so it might be a little foggy / short on details.

Here are the lists:

Vice Scrutator Vindictus
 - Reckoner
 - Reckoner
 - Reckoner
Holy Zealots (10) + Monolith Bearer
Exemplar Errants (10) + UA
Exemplar Errants (10) + UA
Choir (4)

Morvahna the Dawnshadow
 - Warpwolf Stalker
 - Warpwolf Stalker
  - Gorax
Full Bloodtrackers + Nuala
Full Skinwalkers + Alpha
Shifting Stones
Shifting Stones + Stonewarden
Witch Doc Croc
Gallows Grove
Gallows Grove

I believe the scenario was Fire Support. Menoth wins initiative and elects to go second. I give him the forest for some stupid stupid reason. Maybe I thought the fence would be an issue? Basically, I forget what Prowl means.


He dumps all his guys right in the middle, with his Blood Trackers up from and Skinwalkers in the back. I put a unit of Errants on each wing and stick the Reckoners in the middle. I like to have the Errants split, especially now that they are each backed by a Reclaimer. Putting the Reckoners in the middle means that I don't leave one hanging on the wrong side of the engagement a couple turns in. The Blood Trackers declare one of the Reckoners as prey.


Everything comes forward, the stones set up to do some teleport shenanigans next turn. The Trees get into the forests and become stealthy. The Blood Trackers are eyeing my front lines.


At the start of the game I was determined not to offer up both units simultaneously. I then proceed to launch both units at the enemy. I really need to stop doing this. My new goal is to wipe out the Blood Trackers completely before my opponent wants to feat. To that end, Vindictus decides to hold off on allocating or sacrificing anything. Instead he waits for the Reckoner in front to make a hole, drops Defender's Ward on the left flank of Errants, casts True Path, advances to the Reckoner, and feats. Everything else advances and/or runs while staying within Vindictus's control area. The Choir puts Shielding on the jacks. The jacks are positioned to let me piece trade effectively.


With just about everything on the Menoth side of things untargetable by spells, and Penitence in play (feat), Circle does not have a ton of options. However, Morvahna doesn't care about losing models early. The Blood Trackers advance and target taking shots. Some hit and a few Errants and Zealots die … and so do several Blood Trackers. The Skinwalkers advance and scalpel out a few more Errants. One of the Warpwolves powers up and charges the lead Reckoner. He takes a few points of Penitence, but the Reckoner doesn't survive the encounter.


Vindictus camps his stack and drops Defender's Ward. The Choir puts Shielding on the remaining Reckoners. This means I am going to have to take out the Warpwolf without Battle. But I can't risk crazy spell bombs from Morvahna. The Zealots mini-feat, pray no spells, and advance. Several get bombs off and take out some Blood Trackers. The Errants advance and start cutting and shooting down the remaining Blood Trackers. When the dust settles, all of the Blood Trackers are dead, a skinwalker is no more, they bagged a Tree, and the Warpwolf has some cuts and bruises. The left Reclaimer loads up the next Reckoner in line and the Reckoner assaults the Warpwolf. He boosts to hit on the shot to get the DEF buff out. I figured that since I didn't have Battle up, I needed to stick the Condemner Shot. Between the shot (which rolled hot hot damage), the Charge attack, and one buy, the Warpwolf is dead. Vindictus puts Defender's Ward on himself and steps into the wreck marker.


Still denied useful spell targets, Circle teleports a stone into the middle of the Menoth army and hammers it with a spell from Morvahna. The stone dies, but so do a pile of troops. The Skinwalkers flay the heck out of the left flank of Errants. The second Warpwolf charges in with Sprint and starts slicing away at the right flank of Errants. Self-sac blocks the Sprint from ever triggering, but many Errants died that day. The field is left pretty cluttered, even though a chunk of Menites have had their souls collected.


I have a Reckoner standing on a wreck marker with no good charge lane to the Warpwolf. There are stones forward, the left flank is folding, and Morvahna is waiting to pounce. I think if I can get the lanes a little clearer, I can get a Reckoner on the Warpwolf and keep the piece trade going in my favor. I think back to a game I played at TempleCon where Jay Larsen used his heavy to push Caine forward an inch and get range on my caster (that didn't end well for me, but it sure ended quickly). Vindictus puts a focus on the last Reckoner and upkeeps Defender's Ward on himself. I don't think I can get it done with just a Reckoner without Battle, but I am really hesitant to let a crack appear in my spell defense. But wait! I have a full loaded Reclaimer … sitting on the other side of a fence. True Path to the rescue! The left Reclaimer loads the front Reckoner. The back Reckoner sidles up to it and pushes it off the wreck (successfully). The Zealots get out of the way / fail to do anything useful with bombs or melee. Vindictus casts True Path and camps the remaining focus. He also bugs out as best he can. The Reckoner charges the Warpwolf and does the same thing as last time. Boost on the Condemner Shot. Without the extra scratches from the Errants, however, the Warpwolf lives. The Reclaimer charges over the fence and puts the beast down. Everything else is busy jamming the Skinwalkers … which have been Carnage healing Morvahna all game.


The Skinwalkers try to get at the Reckoner, only one makes it, but puts a smashing hurt on him, leaving him with only a Cortex and a Right arm. The last of the Errants on the left die. And I do not remember what Morvahna does at this point, but she ends her turn in the forest.


Vindictus allocates three to the Reckoner. The Choir manages to get Battle on the lead Reckoner. The Errants activate (a leader and a standard bearer). The only one with a sword charges Morvahna and 4 dice weapon master puts some serious hurt on Gorax when she transfers. The Reclaimer charges in and hits for a bit, lighting her on fire. The Reckoner advances and hits her so hard that Gorax dies and the blowback kills Morvahna.


Thoughts about the match:

So, I played a tournament list that I have played over twenty times against my friend's first outing with a new caster … and I felt like I barely won. He made a pile of positioning mistakes and I stayed focused on my modified game plan. From the outset I knew I wanted to try to piece trade. I pulled off a lucky stroke in wiping all of the Blood Trackers off the board. We played a second game right after this (Kreoss1 vs Morvahna2) and he didn't make those kinds of positioning mistakes again. Not being able to clear Carnage off of the Skinwalkers hurt. I love my tier list, but it's lack of upkeep removal is a serious weakness. But, man, I love Vindictus. Also, this is the first game where I felt like the Reclaimers were super stars. They allocated a ton of souls and put the flaming hurt down when it was desperately needed. I suppose if I had the Seneschal version of my list, hunter would have helped solve a bunch of issues. I just don't know about this matchup going forward. That feat … that terrifying terrifying feat…


Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Servath Reznik, Wrath of Ages (painted)

I finished this up and assembled it last night. I have a few more touches to make on it, but overall I am extremely pleased.

A week later, washed and repositioned. Original photo is on the left, washed is on the right.

About Me

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Geek - Gamer - Librarian - Writer. Only awesome at one of those things at a time, unfortunately.

About Fading Interest

After writing op-eds and travelogues for several years, after finishing a few books, and after failing to get the ball rolling with project after project I stumbled into an idea that might just hold my interest long enough to enjoy some level of satisfaction with my writing.