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Our two-weapon fighting eldritch knight has a flame tongue, and when he uses Action Surge, it does an extra 12d6 points of damage per round. (We're 13th level, so he gets 3 attacks on his Attack action)
If he hits on every attack, he does 7d8+12d6+35+1 (his off-hand weapon is "JUST" a +1 battle axe, and he has a Strength of 20).
You're right. The monster "design" "guidelines" are a mess. I don't even know why monsters have Hit Dice in 5th Edition. How many of them REALLY get a chance to take a short rest? The size-based hit die is neat in theory, but often it just means "equivalent" CR monsters have 10d4, 6d6+6, 5d8, 4d10+4, 4d12, or 2d20+4 based on size.
Yeah, 5Ed CR = a very significant challenge for 4 PCs, not a relative cakewalk for 4 PCs (like PF).
Definitely look into actions per round and what all the actions are (Dodge, Dash, Disengage, Hide, and Dodge).
Remember, there are no move-equivalent actions anymore. You can move, do your action, and continue to move up to a total distance equal to your speed.
A character on its turn can move, manipulate an object (open a door, draw or stow a weapon, pick up a stick, etc,), take an action, and a possible bonus action (Note: some bonus actions, such a monk's flurry of blows, allow you to make 2 attacks. Similarly, at 5th level, many warrior-type classe can make 2 attacks as their Attack action.)
Sometimes, when it's not your turn, you can use your reaction, usually for making an Opportunity Attack, but sometimes to cast a spell like hellish rebuke or use a class feature like the Light cleric's Warding Flare.
Be generous with Advantage & Disadvantage and especially with renewing Inspiration. Encourage short rests; I think 5th Edition "Adventuring Day" encounter design is supposed to go:
It may vary depending on what classes are in your party. Some classes really rely on short rests to be effective all day long, like warlocks, and a lot of other classes really benefit from them (5th+ level bards, Divine Channeling clerics, wildshaping druids, action surging fighters, ki-using monks, Divine Channeling paladins, and Arcane Recovering wizards).
Also, pay attention to all the Concentration spells (and make a note Concentration means something TOTALLY different from 3.5/PF Concentration rules (which are now Constitution saving throws)). Remember that a spellcaster can have 1 spell active that requires Concentration, but Concentrating on a spell does not require an action itself. So a spellcaster can Concentrate on one spell and still cast spells that do not require Concentration without losing your Concentration on the original spell.
Also, if a spell has a casting time of 1 bonus action, you cannot cast another spell of 1st level or higher on your turn, but you CAN cast a cantrip if you want. Or hit something with a stick, or Dodge, or Hide, or Dash, etc. etc.
Another thing to look at is Large and larger monster's reach. It's a lot rarer for Large creatures to have exceptional reach.
Opportunity Attacks are generally only provoked when a creature LEAVES an opponent's threatened area. It's perfectly "safe" to circle around or move within an opponent's threatened area. Also, you usually don't provoke an OA when another creature makes you move, such as with the Push combat action or the thunderwave spell.
When it comes to magic items, be wary of the ones that give numerical bonuses. "Bounded Accuracy" is a thing for a reason. However, because 5th Edition doesn't rely on "The Big Six," it gives you, as the DM, to drop fun and interesting magic items. For example, I have a hill dwarf Life cleric, and instead of worrying about getting Wisdom maximizers and lots of armor and weapons and cloaks and rings of protection, my character has a Ring of Swimming and a Medusa Mask that petrifies opponents and protects me from visual effects. Magic items can add a lot of versatility to the PCs. Our hunter ranger archer has a Horn of Valhalla. Fun stiff like that.
My cleric uses bless and spirit guardians A LOT. I have to choose between them because they're both Concentration spells, but they're very significant spells. Bless is particularly potent due to Bounded Accuracy, and it's useful as both an offensive buff and a defensive buff. Spirit guardians combined with the Dodge action can make a cleric in heavy armor and shield a mobile impenetrable bastion of doom. I used it kill 60 ogres in one encounter.
Inspiration is supposed to refresh through roleplaying. Especially through using traits, ideal, bond, and flaw. So that 4 or 5 roleplaying hooks right there. And it's easy to get additional bonds and flaws, and not unknown to gain new traits or ideals.
It might be a good idea to let other players reward Inspiration. Also, allow players to display their traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws so the other players know what to look out for.
Inspiration isn't really designed to be gameplay mechanic, but a concrete reward for roleplaying. It's supposed to inspire players to roleplay their characters, both positive and negative aspects.
It's only 17 novels. And if you're like me, you can skip #16. :-P
So is going balor. But if your GM allows that, you might have to have him committed. ;-)
I've seen some fun rapier & whip builds in 3.5. One was a fighter that used the whip to trip and disarm, and used his rapier to poke things. I also saw a bard do that, but she was less effective, but she only did that when not casting or setting up bardic performances. She was mostly just a flank buddy in a big party of 8.
The Watchers Council was a bag of d***s. I was glad when Glory or whoever ate them.
But loving to hate your enemies is great in an RPG!!!! Definitely have the PCs work for them, and then try to get free of them. I think the key is to make it so the PCs can't attack them. For example, because of social conventions. Not because they're made out of adamantium or illusions or because they'll lose access to information or healing.
Combat Reflexes and Stand Still are fun.
You might want to get spiked gauntlets or armor spikes for when foes get inside your reach weapon's threatened area.
Improved Initiative and Reactionary (from Additional Traits) can help you go first so you can protect your more foolhardy allies by getting in their way. :-P
Just finished The Rising by Ian Tregillis. It's the sequel to The Mechanical and it's about an emancipated clockwork servitor trying to free his people from the geasa of the Brasswork Throne of the Netherlands in New France, North America. It also features an exiled ex-spymistress and the captain of the guard of Marseilles-in-the-West.
About to start the novella The Dire Earth by Jason Hough before returning to three moments of an explosion by China Mieville.
Yeah, what Norman Osborne said. 5th Edition is kind of designed so easy tasks at 1st level are still easy tasks at 20th level, and nearly impossible tasks at 1st level are still pretty hard at 20th level.
For example, at 1st level, if you're good at something, your bonus is +5 (16 (+3) ability score, +2 proficiency bonus). At 20th level, you're +11 (20 (+5) ability score, +6 proficiency bonus).
DCs are anywhere between 5 and 30, but usually 10 to 20. 5 is practically an auto success if proficient, and 25 almost impossible.
You might be better off setting the DC of things to 2d6+8 or 4d6+1 or 5d6 if you can't eyeball it.
But climbing a tree is going to be DC 12 at 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th level. Just because you can swing a sword 4 times a round or raise the dead or cast a fire ball, it has no effect on the tree (well, unless you fireball the tree or hit it with an axe). The tree stays pretty much the same, so its ease (or difficulty) of climbing remains the same.
Why does the elephant folk have a poisonous breath? Is it based on the Planescape Maelephant monster? It might be more interesting if the they trumpeted in battle, doing sonic damage, or if the mists affected their opponents' minds, causing psychic damage.
Do armadillos have good breath holding abilities? Or are you being cute and making an inflatable beach ball folk?
Might want to make the Ratel able to dig out 1 cubic foot of earth or sand per round. Maybe snow and other materials too.
It's a little weird some of your squirrel-folk can climb faster than they can walk.
Have you looked at the My Little Pony Conversions on the d20/5Ed site?
I really wish they would do a movie based on Azure Bonds.
It has a small party (fighter, thief (I mean bard!), magic-user, and you'll never guess!) made up of great characters lead by a pretty woman for the movie poster, it has an anthropomorphic dragon-like character, it has an evil conspiracy (a thieves guild, an evil cult, a witch, a lich, and a what-in-the-Nine-Hells???), it has a couple big fights with a dragon, it features some famous NPCs in minor roles (Elminster, King Azoun, etc.), an almost royal wedding, some minor plane hopping, a journey across the Sea of Shining Stars region of Faerun, and an examination of alignment.
Plus shiny blue tattoos!
We're playing a 5th Edition version of Rise of the Rune Lords. The DM didn't really skimp on magic items, but instead of handing out tons of the "Big Six," he handed out magical gadgets and gizmos. For example, my dwarf cleric has a Ring of Swimming and the Medusa Mask. Neither really increases his power level, but they add a lot of utility. The Medusa Mask requires a relatively low Con save, so I usually coordinate with the divination wizard to see if he has a low Portent roll to use with it. The advantage against visual attacks is also nice.
We're also going to finish it around level 12 or 13, not 17 or 20 or whatever most APs end at.
Just for fun, what do you think would be a fun gestalt combo of 5th Edition classes?
Remember that class features of the same name (Extra Attack, Unarmored Defense, Ability Score Increase/Feat, etc.) normally do not stack.
Should we also assume a gestalt spellcaster//spellcaster only gets one pool of spell shots, like multiclassed spellcasters? How about interactions between half-casters and third-casters? Pact magic?
Fighter//Wizards would be fun because of Action Surge and armored mages.
Bard//Paladin//Sorcerer//Warlocks would be fun because of all the Charisma synergies.
Fighter//Rogue would be a fun swashbuckler.
I LOVE Set's idea about connecting them to the Black Blood of Orv. Soooooo cool. And making them essentially orcish tieflings? Priceless.
And definitely make those instant-undead temporary. Just having them last 1 minute will mean it will extend the combat and/or make it more dynamic. Or the PCs will run away and have to come back, possibly using up precious resources, like buff spells.
If there is already a 24 HD giant zombie, awesome!
Just remembered it's for 18th level PCs with 4 mythic tiers. Maybe make it 48 HD???
The bookkeeping is also really easy for rangers. Only their spells have limited uses per day. Everything else is "always on." Some things are situational, like favored terrain and favored enemy, but when they're there, they're there. You don't have to flank or make a check or spend a swift action to activate them. So they're really easy to apply.
Probably the most complex part of playing a ranger is dealing with the -2/-2 for Two-Weapon Fighting &/or Rapid Shot and differentiating between a Full Round Action/Full Attack and a Standard Action + a possible Move Action single attack.
And keeping track of ammunition.
Just off the cuff....
1. Pick an undead type weaker than the original. Zombie, Skeleton, Ghoul, Shadow, etc.
2. When a minion dies, the next round or two, it rises up.
3. When a bunch of minions die at once (such as from a fireball), their bodies slither and shamble towards each other, combining to form Revoltingtron! Let's use zombies to be easy. Pool all their hit points, take the number of base zombies and add it to Revoltingtron's AC, Attack Rolls, Damage, DR, CMB, CMD, ability checks, maybe Saving Throws, Skill Checks, and Turn Resistance. Try to keep the math simple. Don't worry about size modifiers and stuff like that; they're already rolled into the mix. Supposedly. ;-)
For added zest, give it resistance or immunity to the attack form that killed it, and maybe add a die or two of it as additional damage.
What special area effects do your PCs typically use? Keep them in mind when working on ReVoltingTron.
Consider marking the minions with an evil tattoo or bloody warpaint, and giving PCs an opportunity (via Perception or Sense Motive) to notice them, and/or a Knowledge (arcana or religion) or Spellcraft check to identify what they mean (either vaguely or specifically--whichever is most fun for your group).
I always suggest the ranger for first time players. Full BAB (less likely to miss), great skill list (newbie players are always trying to do neat and interesting things ("Can I climb and hide in that tree, then jump down on his head?" "Can I sneak behind that door and eavesdrop on what they're saying?" "Can I bully the prisoner and make him talk?" "Can I search for clues? Can I follow her footprints?")), relatively good saves (and a ranger's poor Will save is often bolstered by a relatively good Wisdom score because of Wisdom-based spells and skills), easy combat choices (Ranger Combat Styles), introductory spells, introductory pet or introductory party buffing, an easy to apply combat buff (Favored Enemy), and the option for easy, relatively static, feat choices (Iron Will, that feat that boosts Animal Companion level, Weapon Focus, Improved Initiative, Toughness, etc.) that don't make a boring character because the "fun" feats can be selected with the Ranger Combat Style--without worrying about pre-requisites). Traits are pretty easy to choose, too: Reactionary and Magical Knack (ranger).
Slayers (no spells, but lots of talents to choose from, and sneak attack can help with teaching combat and positioning rules), and Hunters (more spells, better companion, but worse BAB) are good too since they both have good skills and are pretty straightforward in a fight.
While you're right about all of that, the one thing I really like about 5th Edition monster "design" is how monsters generally have relatively low AC & high HP. This means that PCs can usually hit (which is fun, since it's fun to be successful and not miss), but the monsters still have staying power (since they have a lot of hit points). I haven't done an analysis of PF hit point averages vs. 5Ed hit point averages for each CR, but I have a feeling 5Ed has a lot more HP and a lower AC in general.
Shouldn't D&D be a TV series instead of a movie? It's very nature is episodic. Unless it's a one-shot. :-P One shots tend to have less developed characterization in my experience, anyways.
But the only "D&D" movie I've seen was that Dragonlance cartoon that was half hand-drawn and half computer-animated, and thus totally uneven.