Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Bloodstorm Blade

For those of you whom distrust the Tome of Battle, turn back now, for there is nothing here to assuage your skepticism.

The book was written to give more options to the sword-swinging mundanes of the D&D world, and with them a bit of a power boost. Some of the abilities on offer tread dangerously over the line between "powerful martial techniques" and "reality-bending nonsense that even magic would have trouble pulling off." While a lot of the most abusive combos in the system aren't exactly obvious and require a lot of book-diving to pull off, sometimes you get a real doozy that was somehow designed that way. Enter the bloodstorm blade, a prestige class based around throwing weapons. Not throwing "throwing weapons," mind you, but throwing melee weapons. I won't bore you with all the details, but if you read the following ability and don't immediately cackle at the possibilities, you ought to re-read it until you do.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Unseen Servant

D&D is a fantasy game, and like in any fantasy game, it's best to take advantage of whatever niceties you might not have access to in real life. Spellcasting, a stronghold, a girlfriend (come on, you're not fooling anyone)... oh, and of course, boot-licking toadies. Problem is, hirelings aren't reliable for much more than taking up space, and golems will break the bank before they can break anyone's face. So how's a player to make do? Thankfully, there's an effective and low-level way to score yourself a helper that's so loyal and thoughtful that it doesn't even give you an ugly mug to have to wince at whilst giving orders. That's right, we're discussing the spell unseen servant, for all those of you who wanted to experience the thrill of friendly poltergeists for hours every day.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Fabricate

On the previous episode, we talked about using a spell to create most any material you wanted. Conjuring up hundreds of pounds of raw materials at a time can be plenty useful, but sometimes you want something a little more refined and purposed. Say, if you want a snazzy-looking carriage, a mid-level caster shouldn't deign to call up a bunch of darkwood and then laboriously craft the whole thing with his bare hands. As it happens, there is a spell that is the natural next step from minor creation, one that lets you create any sort of fashioned object so long as you have the raw materials on hand. The spell I'm discussing is fabricate, the haymaker in the one-two punch that is creating abstract wood carvings during your downtime... or useful items, if that's your thing.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Constructivus

As detailed in the last article, there's a lot of fun to be had with minor creation, especially when it's available at level 1, if you're a shaper. I decided to quickly throw together a character to showcase how to make use of the power's versatility, without being a one-trick pony. That said, of course, even focusing completely on minor creation means you're never short on options.

Here, then, as proof of concept, is Constructivus, the warforged shaper.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Minor Creation

In the world of Dungeons & Dragons, spellcasting is king. Nothing can stand up to a being who increases their caster level with each HD, except for a higher-level spellcaster. While roaring infernos and rays of enervation all have their place on the battlefield, perhaps the most powerful - and most versatile - thing a spellcaster can do is to create. Sometimes you're creating an entire mansion with a single spell, other times you're creating a small puddle of bacon grease on the ground. In terms of creation for creation's sake, then, there's no spell more versatile than the aptly named minor creation.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Spell Storing

As we all know, classes that can cast spells will always be stronger than those that cannot. There's no quick fix for this disparity - every single spell printed is another option for the casters, yet sword-swingers have to pick from a variety of band-aid-type patches to make them more viable. So what if, instead, they had a way to cast spells of their own?

All right, yes, there is some rather lengthy fine print to that statement, but there is an efficient way for anyone to sling a spell every now and then. All it takes to qualify is the ability to swing a stick around - the harder, the better. Enter the spell-storing weapon special ability from the Dungeon Master's Guide: essentially it allows a spellcaster to store any one targeted spell of up to 3rd level in a melee weapon. Whenever the spell-storing weapon hits a creature, it can immediately cast the stored spell on the foe, regardless of who or what its wielder is. It can only store one spell at a time, but it can be refilled any number of times. Now, chances are you aren't going to take the time to store a spell in a weapon mid-combat, so it amounts to one quickened spell on the first strike in a fight. If the spell was stored the day before, it even amounts to one extra spell slot. Not bad for a +1 bonus!

So which spells are the best choices for your rider effect? The restriction to targeted spells means no Rays are permitted, so things like ray of exhaustion and enervation are off the table. The level cap of 3rd means you won't be wishing upon any stars - or anything else, for that matter. Still, there are a healthy number of effects that most assailants won't want cast on them within that criteria, some particular standouts being listed here.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Exotic Weapons

The Flying Guillotine. Oddjob's Hat. The Noisy Cricket. The Power Glove.
The most common and archetypal weapons have earned their status generally because they're the most tried-and-true, but they all melt into the background upon the arrival of that one troublemaker with the unique weapon nobody's ever seen before.



I'm talking about exotic weapons: those instruments of war so obscure and exacting that only the most dedicated can bring them to bear against their hapless foes. The use of such weapons is rarely seen, since the cost of a feat is generally not worth whatever they have to offer, but the psychological edge of someone wielding a weapon that A) Is unknown to you, and B) They're convinced is worth the cost of a feat, can sometimes be power enough.

So the inevitable question stands - which exotic weapons are worth it? Surely the price of a feat isn't worth one extra point of damage or a +2 bonus to disarm... nevermind the roleplaying nightmare of tracking down a blacksmith able and willing to forge your Kaorti Resin Elven Courtblade. There is no obscure weapon out there that closes the gap between magic and mundane, no matter how many times they fold the steel, but there is the occasional standout for combat utility or sheer brute force. At the very least, the use of a unique weapon can provide interest and roleplay potential to a character, or distinctiveness and mystique to an NPC. So if you're planning to do it anyway, might as well pick up something that can perform decently well while you're at it.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Bestow Curse

Debuffing your foes is a perfectly respectable tactic in combat. Making an enemy easier to defeat, or less able to defeat you, is a very obvious step towards the ultimate goal of defeating them without being defeated. However, debuffs generally have a finite duration or can be easily dispelled. Not so a particular subsect of the debuff - curses.

Bestow curse is a level 3 Cleric spell (level 4 for sorcerers and wizards, meaning probably don't bother) that places a permanent curse on any touched creature that fails a Will save. It isn't mind-affecting, it isn't a negative energy effect, and it is not subject to dispel magic. A curse can only be removed by remove curse (no joke!), break enchantment, limited wish and up. It lists three possible forms for the curse to take:
  • A -6 penalty to an ability score (bringing it to a minimum of 1.)
  • A -4 penalty on all attack rolls, saves, ability checks, and skill checks.
  • Each turn, the target has a 50% chance to act normally; otherwise, it takes no action.
These are all quite nice effects, honestly. Reducing a casting stat by six can wreak havoc on spells available as well as save DCs, and a -4 to everything is a great across-the-board hindrance that will come up even outside of combat. Note that concentrating on a spell and trying to break a grapple are both standard actions, meaning the affected won't be able to do so if they're rendered "unable to take an action" for a turn.

Nice as these effects are, though, perhaps the most interesting feature of bestow curse is the next line: "You may also invent your own curse, but it should be no more powerful than those described above."

Yessir, bestow curse is entirely open-ended in letting you ruin someone's day in whatever way you can come up with. Call it Level 3 Wish, so long as you're wishing to wreck a kid's birthday party. What to do with such an accommodating spell, especially one set on such a decent baseline power level? Here, I've come up with a list of suggestions for curses you can inflict upon the DM's self-insert NPC when he least expects it:

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Special Materials

The choice of one's weapon or armor is an important one, with entire character archetypes being defined by whether they're using full plate or studded leather; a greatsword or a quarterstaff. However, many players then fail to consider a very important part of their equipment - what it's made of.

Dungeons and Dragons, being set in a fantasy equivalent of medieval Europe, gets to enjoy medieval Europe's relatively higher concentration of forgeable iron, meaning steel arms and armor for everyone. However, being a fantasy setting, it also gets to enjoy psychic crystals, screaming silver and dragonhide. Heck, you can even wear armor made of water - and I don't mean in a frozen state. Throughout the various books there is a long list of possible building materials: some impressive, some regrettable. Here I've collected every one printed in official capacity and given a brief explanation of what they do and what they're best suited for. Also included is the short but nonetheless exhaustive list of templates that can be added to your equipment.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Get Rich Quick

In D&D, much as in real life, how well you're doing is ultimately contingent on how much money you have.

So much for a fantasy game, huh?

No joke, though, a character's worth will generally comes from two places: magic and magic items. (The fact that one of these is not inherently available to all characters is a small reminder on this system's balance.) Monks, oft maligned as the bottom of the barrel for core classes, need a boatload of practically standardised magic items just to bring their class features up to a passably-functional level. Druids, meanwhile, do go gently into that good night as naked as a jaybird - and in the form of a jaybird, too, at their option.

So if you want to get rich quick, what are your options? If you look at the Craft, Perform, and Profession skills, even astronomical DCs still result in paltry income. Fortunately, as is the case with any sufficiently large system that has enough different minds behind it, there are exploits in place that can be capitalized on by the players. It's probably safe to assume that none of these were intended by the game designers, but as is always the case, too bad ha ha ha.
Presented here, then, is a handy list of Ten 100% rules-legal, 100% obscene methods for amassing in-game wealth. You may not be rich, but you can at least pretend to be for one night a week.