Sunday, February 28, 2021

Weighty Chest (2nd Edition Spell) & Thor's Hammer Mjolnir

I was reminded tonight of an old nostalgic game that I ran many years ago. We were playing AD&D 2nd edition, Dark Sun campaign setting. My stepbrother... what can I say? He often takes a simple character concept and makes it awesome. AND by "awesome" I mean he makes it game-breaking.

In this instance, he had made a halfling druid/thief named Samone. Halflings in Dark Sun are typically animalistic and ritualistic, with cannibalistic tendencies. Rogues are pretty straighforward. Druids gain their spells and powers from a special relationship with a Spirit of the Land which inhabits a certain geographical feature, and the druid guards this land in exchange.

In our collection of sourcebooks at the time, we had access to the Tome of Magic. And in this book, he stumbled upon a utility spell called Weighty Chest.

Weighty Chest

Duration
1 day/level

This spell enables the caster to enchant a chest, book, package, or any other nonliving object no larger than a 5'x5'x5' cube. When the enchanted object is touched by anyone other than the caster, the apparent weight of the object increases, becoming 2-5 (1d4+1) times the weight of the person or persons touching it. This condition makes the object extremely difficult to move for anyone but the caster. The caster can move the object normally throughout the duration of the spell.

The material component is a lead ball.

It's a pretty simple utility spell with an obvious use. You cast it on an object that you don't want stolen or moved. And if anyone attempts to pick it up besides yourself then the weight of the object magically increases beyond most mortal attempts to lift it. Simple.

But what happens if you cast it on a weapon that you throw at (or stab into) an enemy? Based on interpretation, it's possible that you could cast it on a throwing dagger and then stab an enemy with it. That enemy would then fall to the ground and be unable to get back up again because of the weight. Does this remind anyone of Thor's hammer? Watch this video around the 16-minute mark.

Samone used this to devastating effect, loading up with a belt full of throwing daggers enchanted in this way. As a DM, I should have ruled against it with no hesitation but it was actually pretty fun to let it go for a good while. Doing a quick search tonight, I note with satisfaction that our game was not the only game where this question about this spell was brought up.

I could have simply pointed to the material component, a lead ball, as being pretty prohibitively expensive in a campaign setting like Dark Sun. Or I could have ruled that someone being touched (attacked) by a weapon thrown at you, is not the same as touching an object that you want to pick up. Eventually, I think I just banned the spell. Samone moved on to using Enlarge Insect to great effect, and tamed a hive of wasps that he regularly used as mounts.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

BRING ON THE MUPPETS IN D&D!

Are we ready to have some fun and get silly? Boing Boing has an article about an unofficial race made for D&D that allows you to play as a muppet monster.

This delightful monster sheet was designed by BJ Hypes, and covers pretty much everything you'd need to make your Muppets canon:

Muppetborn - homebrew Dungeons & Dragons rules let you add the Muppet race to your 5e campaign

Muppetborn

Fabric? Is that all I am to you? My blood may be colorful and glittery, but I bleed nonetheless. My people have long struggled to be taken seriously, it is why so many of us turn to our faith, our creator: The Hand. It is a force within all of us that guides our actions and speaks through all Muppetborn. The war of my people is far from over, and it will be the bloodiest yet. Waka waka.

—Fuzzwhizzle Plumpytops, Hand of The Grouch
Fuzzy And Warm

A proud and silly race, Muppetborn are chaotic creatures known for innate magical abilities. Born appearing as small balls of cloth, they quickly develop into creatures that resemble humans, animals, and even monsters…but that doesn't make them evil. Easily spotted by their colorful furs, most Muppetborn who live outside their clans or "Streets" frequently find themselves uninvited from "proper" civilization due to their odd habits. But really, is it a party without a Muppetborn swinging from the chandelier?

Muppetborn Traits

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Constitution and Dexterity increase by one.
  • Age. At birth, they resemble small balls of colorful fabric with googly eyes, but quickly sprout limbs and mature at roughly double the speed of humans. The average Muppetborn lives for 60 to 90 years, however some have lived well past 300.
  • Alignment. Imbued with sporadic energy, Muppetborn often live on the chaotic end of the spectrum.
  • Size. As varied as the thoughts in their heads, the smallest Muppetborn rest just shy of two feet tall while some are large enough to sink even the sturdiest of rowboats.
  • Speed. Your base shuffling speed is 30 feet.
  • Always Obscured. No matter how you look at them, a Muppetborn's bottom half is always out of view. It's said that even when one stands in the middle of a field, the earth will rise up to meet them. For this reason, they are always considered to have half cover and receive a permanent +2 bonus to AC
  • The Hand. Muppetborn mythology speaks of The Hand inside each of them. They innately know the cantrip Mage Hand, however the floating hand can only lift up to five pounds and move up to five feet per character level.
  • Nom Nom Nom. Muppetborn absorb the energy from food without ever having to swallow it.
  • Cloth And Color. All Muppetborn know the cantrip "Mending" and once per long rest it can be used to heal 1d8 hitpoints. This increases to twice per long rest at 5th level, three times at 10th level, four times at 14th level, and five times at 18th level
  • Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common, Clothing, and Ventrillo.
  • Subrace. Three main subraces of Muppetborn exist: Hand of The Monster, Hand of The Grouch, and Hand of The Animal. Pick one for your character.

Hand of The Monster +1 Charisma Increase
Yaaaaay. At 3rd level, you can perform the mighty roar of The Monster as a bonus action once per short rest. This gives a +5 bonus to the next attack each of your allies within 60 feet makes, as long as they do so in the next minute. Additionally, any ally that makes a Wisdom or Charisma saving throw in the next minute does so with advantage.

Hand of The Grouch +1 Strength Increase.
Garbage 'Can', Not Garbage 'Cannot'. At 3rd level, you've learned to fortify yourself amongst the lowest of society and gain proficiency in medium and heavy armor. Additionally, you do not make stealth checks at disadvantage while wearing heavy armor if moving at half speed or slower. Finally, you gain advantage on stealth checks if blending in with filth or garbage.

Hand of The Animal +1 Wisdom Increase.
One Of Us. Many Muppetborn resemble animals. From birth, they have have advantage on animal handling checks with these animals and can communicate with them. At 3rd level, they can communicate with similar types of animals, and can also cast Beast Bond once per short or long rest without using a spell slot.

Ah man, that's some great stuff.

It's time to play the music
It's time to light the lights
It's time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight

It's time to put on makeup
It's time to dress up right
It's time to raise the curtain on the Muppet Show tonight

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Eberron Campaigns

A year ago, I posted about two D&D campaigns I was running, with a third one possibly starting at some point. Here's an update.

First off, as a player in other campaigns I've gotten a lot of experience with 5th edition. And so have many of my players. In fact, with the help of their friends, middle child pretty much launched a small mutiny and insisted that we transition to 5e. So the Valgoran campaign came to an hiatus and we started a new updated campaign in Eberron.

In addition, I've started a new campaign with my youngest, my stepbrother and his kid. This one is ALSO in 5e and also in Eberron.

The Dark Sun campaign is on a hiatus as well, but will likely get revamped in 5e once we get a little bit more Athas stuff and/or Psionics. For the the active campaigns, here's a quick synopsis I wrote elsewhere but paste here.

  • Iron & Fire: The younger kids (and my stepbrother) are characters in Breland, specifically Sharn at the moment. They are in talks to be hired on as a mercenary-type squad, to join an entire Company of Brelish soldiers (140) led by Major Vorlen, human paladin. Vorlen wants a small squad of "rangers" to travel with his company on an 8-month tour of the borders of Breland. They will be starting in Sharn, down the Dagger River to the sea, and counter-clockwise around the whole nation's borders. The squad will take on ad-hoc jobs or errands that Vorlen's regular troops would be unsuited for. He will have them scout ahead OR follow from the rear OR whatever as needed. The war is over, of course, but it's important that the Brelish troops remain strong and be SEEN as strong and mobile throughout the realm. For our small squad of heroes, there will be spies to ferret out, dungeons to explore, villagers to rescue and all kinds of work that fits their talents along the way.
  • Wood & Glass: The older kids are characters in Karrnath, specifically Korth. They've each come to the city recently for the first time and are trying to establish themselves. There's a crappy but homely tavern with no name they all wound up in, and no sooner had they started making friends with the regulars, when suddenly the tavern was raided by the city watch with some dwarven guards from House Kundarak. Apparently, there had been an attempted heist of a Kundarak bank and everyone in the bar was a suspect. The PCs look especially guilty as they are new in town. They wake up in a holding cell within House Kundarak, and although the actual heist culprits have talked and exonerated the PCs, the guards take their time releasing them. Later, they will get wrapped up with exploring goblin ruins beneath the city, intrigues at the Tower of the Twelve, the plight of Cyran refugees, Karrnath undead warriors ...and an intrepid reporter friend from the Korranberg Chronicle.

We've been using D&D Beyond for all character management. I'll update more as things progress.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

The Free City of Tyr

I'm currently running a Dark Sun game and want to catch my players up-to-date with where they are in Tyr and what is currently happening. I can think of no better way to do that than to use an official source description written back in 1992. The following text was lifted from DSQ1 - Road to Urik and edited a bit to match what I need. I'll outline my changes below.

For unnumbered generations, every city of Athas has been dominated by powerful sorcerer-kings -- fierce tyrants who rule unchallenged the scattered great oases. Unchallenged, that is, until now, for at last one city has overthrown its oppressive lord and freed itself from the shackles of blind tradition. Tyr, once known as a decadent sprawl of slavery and vice, has roused itself with terrifying energy.

It was a storm long brewing. For two decades, the slaves, citizens, and nobles of Tyr suffered under the increasing madness of King Kalak, struggling at his command to build a massive ziggurat in the heart of the city. Its purpose cloaked in mystery, the people only knew that it was destroying them.

First, there were extra taxes to pay for material, then more and more slaves were pressed into its construction. Output from Tyr's greatest resource, its fabulous iron mines, slowly dwindled as Kalak concentrated all the city's efforts on his ziggurat. The citizens, then the nobles, began to suffer as trade with other city states languished. Although they were worried, the fear of Kalak's ire was sufficient to keep the nobility cowed.

It was only in the last few months that the oppression grew too great. With the ziggurat nearly complete, Kalak's obsession reached new extremes. The host of High Templar Tithian, Master of Games and Public Works, formed press gangs to scour the streets, enslaving the poor and indigent. The templars commandeered almost every slave in the city, from the meanest bricklayer's apprentice to the wealthiest nobles' last few field-hands. With the plantation workers depleted, nobles' fortunes teetered on the brink of ruin and the city faced eventual starvation. Yet to this all, Kalak turned a deaf ear. The little concern he once had for his people seemed to vanish like smoke.

The situation could not last. Kalak had pushed his people too far. A small group of rebels -- a strange mix of nobles, templars, gladiators, wizards, and slaves -- realized they had to strike. After many mishaps and near discoveries (which would have certainly resulted in terrible deaths through Kalak's psionic and arcane powers), the desperate group felt ready. The date was set -- the day of Kalak's great games.

Ostensibly, the games were meant to celebrate the completion of Kalak's rainbow-colored ziggurat and they were to be the greatest spectacle ever staged in Tyr. Everyone, even the lowest slaves, was expected to attend. Most came by choice, for the contest was free and promised to be at least a small spark of relief from Kalak's strangling reign. Stragglers and slaves were herded to the great arena by the sorcerer-king's templars. With the stone tiers filled to near overflowing, the stadium thundered as the crowds screamed for their favorite warriors on the sands below. So it went for near all the day, until the final spectacle -- the grand melee -- was begun.

Just what happened next -- and why -- is unclear. It is generally agreed that the gladiator Rikus threw his spear at King Kalak at the same instant that a huge explosion burst over the king's balcony. Some say Kalak died instantly; others maintain he escaped to his palace. Whatever the result, the people tried to flee, but they discovered that the stadium gates had been sealed. The people, panicked and acting on some instinctual urge, turned on the templars, symbols of Kalak's oppression. Suddenly, hundreds of people, then thousands, died where they stood. Golden streams of powerful magic flowed from the dying toward Kalak's ziggurat. From there, sinister greasy smoke rose over the city.

In hindsight, some survivors claim the dragon had come, its terrible magic bringing death to all. Others blamed the rebels who had angered King Kalak. In truth, Kalak, still alive, was absorbing the life force of thousands as he tried to transform himself into a dragon. While the citizens rioted in blind panic, Kalaks slave's (the player characters included) seized the opportunity to break to freedom. At the same time, unknown to everyone, the small group of rebels hunted down and slew the wounded, but still powerful, King Kalak. With the sorcerer-king's death, his deadly magic ended.

Only after the gates to the stadium were forced open did the panic begin to subside. High Templar Tithian's appearance in the King's Balcony finally caught the crowd's attention. Holding aloft Kalak's crown, Tithian proclaimed himself King of Tyr and in a single stroke freed all of Kalak's slaves.

Now Tyr is something new on the face of Athas -- a free city-state. The transition has not been easy. Following Kalak's assassination, riots flared throughout the city. The templars, suddenly lacking their spells, were the targets of much revenge. Mobs of newly freed slaves attacked the townhouses of their former masters, only to be driven back by squads of half-giant soldiers. Roving gangs of homeless were quickly and sometimes brutally suppressed. But the new king of Tyr was not about to let the city fall into chaos.

In the weeks following, the new ruler of Tyr has struggled to solidify his control over the city. Democracy and freedom are strange and foreign concepts to people so long oppressed. Slowly and with trial and error, the free state of Tyr has edged its way forward.

In addition to a few minor formatting changes, I removed 1 paragraph that summarized the PC exploits in the "previous" adventure called Freedom.  Since my players did not go through that adventure and only came back to Tyr for the final games, the paragraph didn't match. In the last paragraph, I change "In the months following" to "In the weeks following" since I don't want that much time to have passed yet. I'm using the background of the timelines in these adventures, but not the specific adventures themselves.

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