Breaking the Game II: The Secret Player

This will instantly turn your next adventure into a thing of legend.

It's Not Better to Burn Out!

How to never burn out as a Dungeon Master.

A Pirate's Life

High seas adventure in 5th edition!

Breaking the Game: Slaying Dungeon Masters

Do you know what every Dungeon Master's afraid of?

Heroic Journey II: Rising Action

The next stage of your heroic journey.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Creating the Ultimate Bard

How do you optimize a build? I think there’s a little more to it than min/maxing. When optimizing you need to think about what roles to fill and how to efficiently execute those roles. Let’s take a look at an arguably weak class in 5e. He’s a jack of all trade and master of none. Introducing my take on the Ultimate Bard, level by level.

At first level you get cantrips, a couple of spell slots, and four uses of Bardic Inspiration assuming a Charisma of 16. Simple so far, but depending on the race and background combo there’s a variety of options. Damage is another consideration. What is the go to damage die? Crossbow? Rapier? Vicious Mockery? Remember this is about more than min/maxing. We’re not looking for merely the greatest output of damage dice and maximizing armor class. This is about executing a role in the party that contributes to a synergized whole.

As a bard the primary roles to fill are buffing and/or debuffing, with a secondary role as the skill monkey. With that in mind, the damage dealt directly by the bard is least important. Increasing damage dealt by allies and reducing incoming damage from enemies is where he’s going to shine. Hence the Ultimate Bard as I see it is a member of the College of Lore. The College of Valor is a cool idea, yet barring a unique multiclass build its abilities are distractions from where a Bard’s true strength lie.

Cutting Words is simply amazing. Going up against a big bad with one shot kills? Tell him its mother was a hamster and its father smelt of elderberries. While deadly, those one shots are much less likely to connect. And just wait until you get Additional Magical Secrets for Hex. Disadvantage to saves plus a Cutting Words penalty to attacks means a big bad is having a real bad day. Don’t forget about Countercharm, either. Enemy debuffers will struggle getting charmed folks to play nice or tanks to turn tail and run when the party has advantage their saves.

Knowing we’re going with a College of Lore Bard will help with our race and background choices. Anything that gives a Charisma bump goes to the top of the list. This means Drow, Lightfoot Halflings, Humans, Dragonborn, with Half-Elves and Tieflings at the front of the line. There’s only a need though to look at the last two. While min-maxing is not the end-all-be-all, it has a place. While fire resistance and Infernal Legacy is nifty, there’s no contest with +1 to two ability scores of choice instead of intelligence and two shiny new skills to boot. Fey Ancestry is nothing to sneeze at either.

As a 1st level Half-Elf Bard, you’re getting proficiency in any 5 skills plus whatever the chosen background adds on. Let’s consider backgrounds. No matter what we’re getting two more skills which might be redundant at this point, so what’s important here is tool proficiencies and the feature. As tool kits go, Thieve’s Tools and Navigator’s Tools are by far the most difficult to replicate via spells or other features. Lost in a megadungeon? Find the Path is a 6th level spell. May whatever you pray to help you without a navigator. Is the rogue too busy in the fray dishing out sneak attacks to deal with those rolling balls of fire? A second party member to disable traps can be clutch, especially if the party has no rogue in the first place. The stand outs for background are Criminal, Sailor, and Urchin.

Evaluating these features really depends on knowing you’re Dungeon Master and how well he’ll utilize your Criminal Contact or City Secrets. If you’re a Pirate with a Bad Reputation, there’s always going to be use for that. Remember that a D&D hero is a murderhobo at heart, and sooner or later you’re bound to get in trouble with the law. Assuming you haven’t done anything too egregious, just whip out your bad reputation. This choice gets even easier when the party already has a rogue. Next time, we’ll stat this bad boy out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Do You Really Need a Cleric?

The other night saw the first quest of my new Glorious Bastards campaign. Throughout the course of the adventure, I realized something important. Clerics are NOT a necessity. My other 5e campaign, Pirates of the Aegean, has a cleric and with it I’ve found that the CR system is woefully inaccurate. Every encounter thrown at that group has to be a deadly encounter if I want to make even a small dent into the players’ resources. This other party has no cleric, and at the quest’s end a humdrum deadly encounter pushed the party to the brink of death (which is my goal). It makes me wonder if the CR system works only with parties who don’t have a dedicated healer.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Thoughts on the D&D Economy

Thursday, May 14, 2015

State of the Blog

Hi folks. Recently, blogging had to move to the backburner for the past week due to an unexpected family tragedy, after which I came down with a nasty cold. Now that a particularly bad week is finally behind me I can get back to blogging. Let’s start with a couple of updates.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Pirate’s Life V: Ships of the Line

We’re back to the high seas! Today I have around twenty ship stat blocks for you from the Age of Sail. Starting with the stat blocks from Sid Meier’s Pirates! and the Dungeon Master’s Guide, I tinkered with the statistics to come up with a meaningful manner of integrating ships into the Naval Travel & Combat system put together so far. First, let me walk you through the DMG’s ship stats, where it’s lacking and what’s needed to fix it.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Game Table Ideas

Been a little obsessed this past week drawing designs in sketchup. I want a gaming table. Not only do I want one, but I want it all. The table I want has to accommodate any kind of game. The problem was the space where I can put it is a little cramped. A full table would work for gaming, since you don’t need to move around much. Basically you’re standing in place or sitting in a chair while moving the minis around. But then I have to live with a monster table in this small space. What to do? The first idea that came to me is to make it fold.

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