Saturday, February 14, 2015

Crafting, alchemist's supplies, and proficiency checks

Both the 5th edition PHB and DMG state that proficiency with tools allows one to add their proficiency bonus when using the tools, yet there are no rules given for applying DCs to tasks with the tools or rolls made with tools. In the Player's Handbook, crafting itself is described as a downtime activity (page 187). For every day spent crafting, one or more items worth 5 gold can be crafted per day but half of the market value must be spent as investment. If something costs more than 5 gold, then you make 5 gold of progress per day spent crafting. A vial of acid costs 25 gold so it takes 5 days to make it. A suit of plate armor costs 1500 gold so it takes 300 days to make it.

This is according to the rules in the 5e Player's Handbook, and not according to reality.

In reality it takes about 2 days to make acid, and a suit of armor could probably be made in a few weeks. These rules seem arbitrarily time consuming to me. One hour per gold piece market value of the item to be produced sounds better to me. Half of the market value must still be invested in making the item, and a minimum of one gold piece must be spent (acid takes 25 hours to make and costs 12 gold and 5 silver to make, this includes the cost of a vial to put it in; candles take 1 hour to make and the alchemist makes 100 of them at a cost of 5 silver). Time is invested consecutively and the project is ruined if the alchemist is taken away from the project, though the crafter can still sleep and those hours count towards the investment of time to make the item.

There is also very little information about how to use the different tools that many characters receive proficiency with, and that's only if there happens to be any information at all (page 154).

Alchemist's Supplies is one of those toolkits that has, literally, no information. For 50 gold pieces you get a collection of gear that weighs 5 pounds and presumably allows you to make stuff if you have the right ingredients. In my personal quest to find rules for these tools I instead ended up absorbing information from the books to inform the creation of my own rules.

In the PHB, under equipment in chapter 5 (page 150), there are items that seem like they could have been made by an alchemist listed as purchasable:

Acid, does 2d6 damage, costs 25 gp/vial
Alchemist's fire, set something on fire, 1d4 damage/round, costs 50 gp/flask
Antitoxin, gives advantage on poison saves, costs 50 gp/vial
Candles, cost 1 cp each (its just hot wax but you could make wax that has a scent or wax that releases poison gas)
Ink, costs 10 gp/ounce
Oil, can set somebody on fire (5 damage for 2 rounds), presumably also keeps a lantern lit, costs 1sp/flask
Perfume, smells nice, costs 5 gp/vial
Soap, keeps you clean, costs 2 cp/bar

All of this seems a little weird, like different people wrote these items up. The biggest bang for your buck is clearly acid, as alchemist's fire is twice as expensive as acid and it gives a minimal boost of damage that can easily be saved against. Well, whatever! I'm not here to rewrite everything in the Player's Fucking Handbook! I simply want somebody to be able to make stuff using alchemist's supplies.
Alchemist's Supplies. Anyone with proficiency can use alchemist's supplies to craft any of the following items: acid, alchemist's fire, antitoxin, candles, ink, oil, perfume, soap; any kind of process that might require distillation (liqour) or calcination (the creation of oxides) can also be performed with alchemist's supplies. Proficiency checks are only made whenever the alchemist wishes to study a new substance or plant. Typical DCs are between 10 and 20, but magical substances that are studied would have a DC of 25 to correctly distill and analyze without spoiling the substance or blowing up the alchemist.

Why isn't Poison on this list?
Because there's a Poisoner's Kit listed amongst the available tools. For completeness let's look at the stats for basic poison:
Poison (basic), coat a weapon with it and it does +1d4 damage, costs 100 gp/vial
And against that, acid still stacks up as the best purchase.

The PHB actually gives a write-up for the poisoner's kit (page 154), but all it says is that it "lets you add your proficiency bonus to any ability checks you make to craft or use poisons." So, to use poisons. The DMG doesn't give any specifics about crafting (page 258) but says you can use the crafting rules in the PHB.

So here's how I would fix that:
Poisoner's Kit. Anyone with proficiency in this tool can craft poison as per the crafting rules. Any poison listed in the DMG (page 257) can be crafted with a poisoner's kit and the gold piece investment required to craft a poison is half of the market value listed for the poison. Carrion Crawler Mucus, Purple Worm Poison, Serpent Venom, and Wyvern Poison are the only exceptions that do not require a gold investment, instead these poisons require harvesting from a dead or incapacitated creature.

Re: Harvesting
The DMG states that you use proficiency with Nature or a Poisoner's Kit, but I would allow these proficiency bonuses to stack.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Competition follows!
[5e Dwimmermount]

Upon their return to the entrance of Dwimmermount, though they were certain they had closed the red doors when they departed they found them now ajar. Cautiously approaching down the steps they saw that stacks of broken furniture had been assembled at the foot of the stairs. It was impossible to enter the room without crawling over the furniture.

During the previous session the PCs could hear the sounds of running men in the hall south of where they fortified and rested, these were the orcs. Unbeknownst to the PCs, the orcs were barricading the room of statues then circling around to regroup in a deeper section of the dungeon, but the orcs ran into the gelatinous cube and lost two more of their number. This was determined randomly by me. The cube still had about 80 hit points and I decided on the fly that the orcs would not expect to run into the cube. There were 7 orcs and I rolled a d6 to determine how many would get caught and couldn't extricate themselves, the cube got two of them. These five orcs then retreated to the second level of the dungeon where their leader, distressed by their failures, sent them back up to redeem themselves for their cowardice. They had laid a trap at the entrance, but this didn't work as expected.

Tsetsig used Thaumaturgy to scatter some of the furniture and they discovered that there were small bells strung from the broken pieces of furniture. The sounds of Bestial language could be heard echoing from deeper in the room and a torch came sailing across the room. The furniture did not catch fire very quickly due to it being scattered, but Braak was able to translate the sounds of Bestial talk that could be heard. "They're retreating and regrouping to the west," he whispered to Horatius. "Great, we're going to explore to the east then!" Horatius replied.

At the beginning of this session, I recapped the events of the previous session and made sure that two of the players had index cards with the stats for the two NPCs that were following the group: Climent Belary and Braak. Braak is a goblin and was hired as a torchbearer by Horatius. Climent is primarily an alchemist, and not suited for adventuring into dungeons. However, he knows the Light cantrip and essentially acts as another torchbearer. The players holding the index cards are in charge of controlling the NPCs, though I did stipulate some actions the NPCs would always take. This saved me time to focus on the dungeon and encounters. (Oh yeah, all of my DMing notes and explanations will be in italics now.)

The group confidently moved through the eastern rooms, stopping to occasionally listen at doors, but finding mostly dust and the tracks of orcs that had been camping here the day before. They entered a circular room with a gallery of masks, and a single corpse. Examining the corpse revealed that it had been lying there for several decades, perhaps longer. Tsetsig Detected Magic in the masks. Gaius took one of the masks off of the wall and triggered a trap that released noxious gas into his face. He coughed and sputtered but walked away unhurt. Tsetsig proceeded to use Thaumaturgy to remove the masks from the walls while the rest of the party remained outside of the room.

Exploring further east, they found themselves at a locked door. Brüghaht picked the lock and threw the door open, only to find himself face to face with an ancient undead warrior, it's glowing blue eyes regarded him hatefully and it stepped forward, ready for violence. Tsetsig realized that many of the jeweled trinkets in this room were military symbols of the Thulian empire, and he tried to command the wight in the Anicent Thulian language to stand down - it seemed to recognize the language but ignored what was said. Ilona rushed forward and battled the wight, and while she was assisted by Horatius and Braak she took grievous injuries before it was felled. The party surveyed the room and realized it was filled with treasure and a perfect place to barricade themselves and rest. A small fire was pitched and Tsetsig went about Identifying the magic items they had acquired while Ilona rested and Gaius inventoried the trinkets and gold they had discovered.

In the original room description (Level 1 - Room 7), the wight's treasure trove is listed as "worth 8,000 gp and weigh 500 lbs." My already-established changes to this system meant that I had 2d800 to roll for the gold piece value of the trinkets and I rolled low, ending up with a value of about 680 in gold pieces but I kept the overall weight the same.
There were a handful of magic items in this room as well. I used the new 5e stats for a Brooch of Shielding and Wand of Magic Missiles but the sword that was listed had cooler flavor text then the "sword +1" that was listed as its magic enhancement. I kept the sword's description
"a slightly-curved single edged adamantine steel blade" but dropped the +1 enhancement - if the sword is used against undead or demons it will count as a magical weapon, but is otherwise unexceptional.
The Thulian War-Masks from the circular room I kept virtually identical to the way they were described but expanded their powers so that the +1 bonus against orcs and other beastmen applied to more types of rolls.

Outside of the locked room, the party could hear the sounds of movement. Somebody had walked past the door but hadn't tried to enter, the sounds of conversation could be heard in the hall, then raised voices turned to the sounds of battle. The group unbarred the door and ventured out to see four humans engaged in a fight with orcs in the circular room where the Thulian War-Masks had been pilfered. The supposed leader of this group fell to one of the orcs, and his assumed lover called out his name "Sken!", then Ilona and Horatius stepped into the room and cut the rest of the orcs down swiftly.

The orcs returned from the east, but didn't find the PCs and so they explored the parts of the level they already knew about - while avoiding the cube in the main hallway of the level. Assuming the invaders had fled outside, the orcs set up a watch at the entrance again and planned to follow any who would enter, and this is where the rival adventuring party came in.

One of these men, who had hurled Fire Bolts at the orcs, thanked the party for their help but insisted that these orc heads were theirs to claim. An argument ensued over who could claim the orc heads and one of the men struck Gaius and another battle began in earnest. The remaining three were cut down quickly, though not before Horatius was turned temporarily insane. In a bit of brilliant spell-managing, Gaius cast a Crown of Madness upon Horatius in order to control his wild thrashing about. "It seems we've got competition now," remarked Tsetsig, who then set about Detecting Magic that these humans were carrying.

When he recovered, Horatius went about the bloody work of cutting off orc heads. The party rested for a few minutes to give Tsetsig time to Identify new magic items carried by the humans. A noose that could Resurrect the wearer and a bone that could fill the room with the smell of cooking meat if it was chewed upon. Hearing about the noose, Brüghaht set about dismembering the body of Sken. Tsetsig put the noose around his own neck and handed the bone to Braak who proceeded to chew on it constantly. The party then moved deeper into the Path of Mavors.

This rival adventuring party is the first one described on a post by Goblin Punch. I used them as written, but any hope of diplomacy deteriorated quickly. I also rolled randomly for the magic bone from another post by Goblin Punch.

The group found evidence in deeper rooms of the failed dwarven expedition. Being led by Horatius, they worked their way to the long hallway with the gelatinous cube and circled around looking for a place to hide from the strange creature. Finding a room filled with more dwarven corpses, they bolted the door behind them in the hopes that the cube would not be able to force its way in. One of the bodies held a map for "the Path of Mavors" and it appeared familiar to what they had already explored.

This is where we called the end of the session (Level 1 - Room 16).

Everybody is still having a fun time with this adventure. We're not playing this coming weekend, which is a little distressing because we are all eagerly looking forward to playing again.

The adventurers' map currently looks like this...

Friday, February 6, 2015

Am I missing something?
Astral Projection vs Plane Shift

Astral Projection takes 1 hour to cast, and consumes 1100 gold pieces of gems and silver for each person affected.
Plane Shift takes 1 action to cast, and uses a 250 gold piece component which is reusable.

Astral Projection projects astral versions of the caster and up to eight willing subjects into the Astral Plane.
Plane Shift instantly teleports yourself and up to eight willing participants to any plane designated during casting.

Astral Projection is a risky spell, since the silver cord connecting your astral body can be severed and separates your body from your soul, killing you instantly.
Plane Shift has no chance of failure, and can even be used offensively to banish planar creatures back to their plane of origin.

Astral Projection is a 9th-level spell.
Plane Shift is a 7th-level spell.

to find a way to play the game that I don't have time to play

I spend a lot of my free time playing video games, and there are some games that I just don't have the time for. The Dark Souls series is one of them. I have watched several videos of people playing through different areas or defeating certain bosses, and I've read a lot of the lore about the game, and everything about the game is really great, except that when I play the game I find it tedious. When I actually sit down to play it I get bored and ultimately abandon it because I don't feel like investing hours of my time in order to occasionally learn nuggets of lore that other, more dedicated players have already thoroughly documented online.

Dark Souls wiki (wikidot)
Dark Souls 2 wiki (wikidot)

Dark Souls wiki (fextralife)
Dark Souls 2 wiki (fextralife)

Now, somebody has created a piece of epic fan art detailing the locations of Lordran as if it were one big cut-away dungeon map, and its amazing!

I'm turning this map into a megadungeon now.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"There's a centipede flying down the hall!"
[5e Dwimmermount]

For our second session of Dwimmermount we picked up the game in the middle of a chase. Orcs were fleeing from the party and there was some concern that the orcs would regroup and attack them in force. The party was on the verge of collapse but managed to repel the few attacks that came their way.

Brughaht freed the captive dwarf, Balfur, from the orcs and the two fought their way back to the rest of the group. Though Balfur collapsed from his wounds, Brughaht was able to save his life and valiantly carried him back.

Tsetsig was able to see the presence of a huge gelatinous monster blocking one of the halls that led further into Dwimmermount. There was a giant centipede thrashing away futilely inside the creature and the rest of the party could only see the giant insect unless they stopped to actively look for the creatuire. As the party pursued the orcs down a long hall, the gelatinous cube pursued them at its own slow pace.

Horatius and Ilona secured an empty room along the hall and called for a brief respite. The room held a ghostly apparition of two men playing some type of boardgame, though no action or magic could alter the form of this spectral replica. The orcs appeared to be barricading the north entrance to Dwimmermount, where they had regrouped and collected more of their number. While resting in the room, the sounds of running men could be heard in the south hall followed by the slow pursuit of the gelatinous creature, though no one tried to secure entry to where the party recuperated.

After their rest they ventured through the rooms connected to where they rested and finding nothing of immediate interest ventured toward the entrance, expecting to have to force a fight to secure their escape from Dwimmermount, instead they found the doors had indeed been barricaded from entry but the room was entirely abandoned. They quickly fled the dungeon and returned to Muntburg.

In the fortress town they collected the bounties for their collected orc heads, and the Captain of the Guard was surprised at the number of heads brought in for his posted reward. Horatius immediately visited the Bonding House to hire the goblin he had spoken to the day before, Braak, as a torchbearer. The party rested for the night at the local inn (I allow the PCs to level up only after taking a long rest) and at dawn, as they left the outer castle, the party was approached by a young self-described arcanist by the name of Climent Belary who wished to accompany them. When questioned he offered that there were legends of an "alchemist's door" in Dwimmermount and he wished to discover and study it. (These NPCs are mentioned, with varying amounts of detail, on pages 67 and 69.) They agreed to allow Climent along in their venture.

Then they set off for Dwimmermount again...
...and that's where we left off.