20 September 2018

5e cultures

What if, instead of just selecting a race, you selected both a race and a culture?

For example, I've decided that I want to play a  Dwarf who survived half-feral amongst the trees. Her parents were caravan guards traveling across the plains when they were slain by a band of orcs when she was only a couple of years old. She hid from them, terrified to even breathe. Her entire life was uprooted. The only thing that remained, the only thing the orcs did not steal, was her father's ancestral axe. She got lost in the woods but, surprisingly, she managed to survive. She lived off morning dew and nuts and berries, which were plentiful in the deep forest she now found herself in. She grew strong, and healthy... and wild. In her wanderings, an old druid took her in. Though she had no particular aptitude for druidry, and though she regarded him as no authority, they had a cordial, familial relationship wherein the druid taught her knowledge, lore, and tricks, and she brought him the joy of companionship and, always, news of the comings and goings of travelers, flocks of birds, and the ever-present orc scouts.

Mechanically, we can say that she is a Dwarf, but letting her have Stonecunning and weapons training simply doesn't make sense. Rather, imagining her living a life much as a Forest Gnome makes more sense. Imagine her race / background block looking something like this:

06 September 2018

5e Weapon List

Ever taken a good look at the weapon list in 5e D&D? You should. It's a great example of negative design- that is, it's a great example of what you should not do.

Consider the handaxe versus the mace. The handaxe costs 5gp, does 1d6 damage, is light, and can be thrown. It's useful for two-weapon fighters, it does decent damage, and is a ranged weapon in a pinch. You can dual wield a battle-axe and a hand-axe, throw the hand-axe, and then two hand grip the battleaxe for extra damage afterwards. How cool is that?

The mace, on the other hand. It costs 5gp and does 1d6 damage. That's it. Can't throw it, by the rules, and it's of no use to a two-weapon fighter. Hmm.

Another, quicker example: Is there any reason a trident costs 5x as much as a spear despite having identical stats?

Even quicker: why does a scimitar cost 25gp when the literally identical (and on the next space down) shortsword cost the same?

Faster still: Why would anybody ever buy a flail?

I gotta fix this.

04 September 2018

Dragoncon 2018

My, how many things have changed.

It's hard to write a blog post almost a year after my last without feeling a little bit wistful. It struck me the other day- literally everything in my life is changing. My friend Alex that I mentioned in my last post- we're dating now, and living together. We're quite happy with this arrangement. And we have a couple of shared secrets, too. ;) More on that later. Right now, I'd like to talk about DragonCon, and labor day weekend.

This year, again, we went to DragonCon together. We had a wonderful time. Neither of us are big parties, so we never experienced the much-vaunted DragonCon nightlife. But we did enjoy the vendor's hall and the artists' gallery and went to a couple of panels.

My advice- if you find yourself at DragonCon and dislike crowds, show up in the morning to early afternoon. The revelers are still asleep. For a lot of people, that's the main draw of the event. Your mileage may vary. For us, it could be a bit much. She's very petite and so can get lost inside of crowds, and I'm on the tallish end of average so our crowd techniques don't always work together. Plus, the main draw of DragonCon (that it's full of nerds, dorks, and geeks) is also its main issue- nerds, dorks, and geeks tend to have poor self-awareness and will often stop in the middle of crowded sidewalks to gawk, ponder, or stare at their phones. Or they'll decide to swing their backpack on in the middle of a packed room, or they'll barge and elbow into people because they have a laser-focus on a space about five inches behind you. Stuff like that. Individually, it's not much, but over the course of five-six-seven hours, it grates. No wonder people drink so much at cons.

Anyways, we both picked up some Chessex dice and saw three panels:

Looking Back

They say that if you don't look back at who who were from a year ago and cringe that you haven't grown enough. What if I look back f...