5e Kineticist

kineticist2-2Kineticist

His eyes blazing with an inner fire, the halfling walks calmly through the goblin encampment; as goblins all around him spontaneously burst into flame, he thinks of nothing but the feeling of his beloved, dying in his arms, a goblin blade between her ribs.

Even among her own kind, people avoided the old tiefling for the inexplicable things that happened around her: objects never found where they had been set down, passers-by tripping over nothing, windows and doors opening on their own. No one wanted her around, until the bugbears came and she threw them out of town, one at a time, without moving from her chair.

While his family always said that they spoke the language of the rocks in their mountain home the young dwarf was the only one who believed that those stones spoke directly to him, and maybe his family would have believed he’d grow out of playing pretend if he hadn’t warned them about the earthquake and the giant invasion, but they could never doubt him again when the mountain itself rose up to drive the giants away.

A kineticist binds themselves to an element, manipulating one of the fundamental forces of nature with their mind. These abilities are often born of trauma or violence, and nearly ever kineticist tells a story of their first manifestation, and the damage they did before they gained control of their abilities. Some kineticists believe that they are in control their element, while other believe that it controls them. In either case the result is the same: the kineticist shapes a fundamental force of the universe with their thoughts.

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5e Items 2: It’s Magical!

Five Magic Items and some Skymetal Armor

Meteor-strike Dagger
Weapon (dagger), very rare (requires attunement)
When used in melee combat, this dagger grants a +2 bonus on attack and damage rolls. When thrown, however, the meteor-strike dagger is truly deadly. The dagger has 3 charges. When you make a ranged attack with the dagger and it hits  an opponent within 30 feet of you, you can use 1 charge to cause the dagger to explode, doing 4d6 fire damage to the target and all creatures within 10 feet of it. The dagger reforms at the beginning of your next turn, and you can use a bonus action to call it to your hand. If you expend 3 charges and plunge the dagger into the ground at your feet, it instead deals 10d6 fire damage to all creatures within 20 feet of you. Any creatures that survive the damage are pushed 10 feet away from you. The dagger regains 1d3 expended charges daily at dawn.

Swordbow
Weapon (longsword or longbow), uncommon (requires attunement)
A swordbow is always a beautiful weapon of elven design, with the words “Always ready” carved in elven on its side. As an action, you can command the swordbow to change from a longsword into a longbow or back again. The weapon grants a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls in either form.

Corsair’s Eyepatch
Wondrous item, rare
When you wear this simple black eyepatch over your right eye, you can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as it if were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern most colors in darkness, only shades of blue and gray. When you wear the eyepatch over your left eye, you gain advantage on saving throws against the blinded condition. Whenever you wear the eyepatch over either eye, the lack of depth perception grants you disadvantage on ranged attacks.

Shield of the Dragon’s Maw
Shield, legendary
This heavy wooden shield always bears an image of a dragon, a linnorm, or other draconic creature, usually from the side. When you slay a dragon, the image changes to reflect the last dragon you slew. While you wear the shield, you  As a bonus action, you can make an attack with the shield. If you use it in this way, the dragon on its face turns outward and emits a might roar as its jaws seem to come to life. Until the beginning of your next turn, the shield provides no bonus to your AC or resistance to damage, but it can be used to attack as a primary weapon or for two-weapon fighting. The shield is a magical weapon with a +3 bonus to attack and damage that deals 1d8 bludgeoning and piercing damage.

Haunted O-Yoroi
Armor (o-yoroi), very rare (requires attunement)
While wearing this armor, you gain a +2 bonus to AC. In addition, when an incorporeal creature tries to strike you, an image of a ghostly samurai appears to step out of you and tries to block the blow with its weapon, granting the attacker disadvantage on the roll. When the armor is not being worn and a character who is not attuned to the armor comes within 5 feet of it, it emits  a ghostly howling and a burst of wind, causing all creatures within 5 feet to succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be pushed back 10 feet.

Skymetal Armor 

Most skymetals are useless for armor, but three are notable in their use as rare armor materials that can be worked by highly skilled smiths using magical or other powerful fires.

Adamantine Armor is detailed in the DMG.

Noqual Armor
Armor (any metal), very rare
You have advantage on saving throws against all spells while you wear this armor. If you are the target of a spell that does not normally require a saving throw, you must make a saving throw against the spell as though it required a Wisdom saving throw. In order for the spell to affect you, you must fail the saving throw.

Siccatite Armor
Armor (any metal), rare
There are two kind of siccatite armor: fire and frost. Fire siccatite is always hot to the touch, and deals one point of fire damage to you for every minute that you wear it. While you wear fire siccatite armor, you are protected by the armor’s heat and gain resistance to cold damage and immunity to environmental effects related to cold.  Frost siccatite is always covered by a layer of ice and deals one point of cold damage to you for every minute that you wear it. While you wear frost siccatite armor, you gain resistance to fire damage and immunity to environmental effects related to fire.

Hacking Magic Items

I have a much longer post about magic items coming, but I need to spend some time immersing myself in the DMG, first. I’m curious about the trends and patterns of magic items. On one hand, they seem to be much easier to create in 5e: determine what you want the item to do, determine the rarity, and go. On the other hand, there are clearly some design decisions that a GM has to be careful about not screwing up. (For example, no uncommon armors provide a magic bonus, and +3 armors are always legendary.) I’d love to figure out what all of those are and write about it, maybe in a couple of weeks.

I wanted to play with three different things, here: the various levels of the magic items, the “charges that reset at dawn” mechanic, and the idea of items that provide a benefit with a drawback. Items that have drawbacks should be more rare, by virtue of their power, but if the drawback is bad enough (disadvantage on ranged attack rolls, say), they can move down a step in rarity. Protection against conditions is one of those things that is very rare in magic items, and so should probably be very rare, but that disadvantage forces the wearer to be in melee combat, and that’s potentially a high price to pay (particularly since it doesn’t say “ranged weapon attacks,” so it applies to spell attack rolls, as well).

Siccatite armor is just about useless, unless you have regeneration or are resistant to fire or cold damage, which is exactly the point. Most PCs would never buy it, but every once in a while, it’s going to be exactly the right choice.

Next time: The beginning of a longer-term project: the 5e Kineticist, a full base class!

5e Items Part 1: Weapons of Hurting

New Weapon Rules for 5e

Weapon Properties

Blocking. You may forego one attack with this weapon to increase your AC by 1 until the beginning of your next turn.

Double weapon. You can use this weapon in both hands as though one side were a light weapon. All double weapons are two-handed.

Exotic. This weapon requires special training. No class is automatically proficient in its use. If your game uses the optional feat rules, you may use the Weapon Master feat to gain proficiency. If not, your GM may allow you to purchase training, as though purchasing a tool or language proficiency.

Name Cost Damage Weight Properties
Simple Melee Weapon
Emei piercers             1gp 1 piercing Special
Exotic Melee Weapons
Double-bladed sword                 100 gp 1d8 10 lbs. double-weapon, heavy
Meteor Hammer        

 

40 gp 1d6 bludgeoning 10 lbs. blocking, double-weapon, reach, special
Quadrens 10 gp 1d4 piercing 2 lbs. special
Sang kauw                          15 gp 1d6 slashing 1 lb. blocking, double-weapon
Shotel 50 gp 1d8 piercing 5 lbs. special, versatile (1d10)
Tetsubo                      10 gp 1d12 bludgeoning 10 lbs. blocking, heavy, two-handed
Urgrosh 80 gp 1d10 slashing and piercing 12 lbs. double-weapon, heavy

Special Weapons

Weapons with special rules.

Emei piercers. While wearing emei piercers, you are considered unarmed, but your unarmed attack damage is considered piercing, and increases by the amount listed.

Meteor hammer. You must choose each round whether to use the meteor hammer’s blocking or reach properties. Once this decision is made, it cannot be changed until your next attack action.

Quadrens. The four-blades of the quadrens dagger are specially designed to leave gaping holes in an opponent. On a critical hit, the quadrens deals an additional die of damage.

Shotel. The shotel is designed to reach around an opponent’s shield, but this use trades power for accuracy. The shotel can either be used two-handed or ignore an opponent’s shield bonus to AC.

Skymetal Weapons

Adamantine Weapons
Weapon (any metal), uncommon (or 250 gp for light weapons and 500 gp for other weapons, if purchased)
Adamantine weapons function like regular weapons, unless they are used against inanimate objects. When used to attack inanimate objects, adamantine weapons give their wielder advantage on the attack rolls. In addition, the wielder can roll the damage twice and choose the best roll, as well.

Inubrix Weapons 
Weapon (any metal), rare (or 1,000 gp, if purchased)
“Ghost iron” seems to ignore iron and steel, but the effect is unpredictable. Attacks made with weapons made of inubrix always have disadvantage. Any time the wielder rolls an even number on the die that decides the attack, however, the inubrix weapon ignores any metal armor worn by that opponent.

Siccatite Weapons
Weapon (any metal), rare (or 750 gp, if purchased)
Siccatite weapons are extremely cold or not to the touch. While this makes the weapons mildly uncomfortable to hold for extended periods of time, when the weapon is used to strike, that cold or heat is released. A siccatite weapon deals an additional 1d4 damage, either cold or fire (chosen when the weapon is crafted). When this ability is used, whether or not the opponent is immune to the damage, the wielder takes 1 point of damage of the same type.


Hacking Weapons

I was planning to write about magic weapons, but I realized that there were regular weapons that I wanted to mess with. En5ider magazine did a little bit of this, but I don’t like the way they handled the double-weapon property. I scaled down the damage of a double weapon, and they all require a feat to use (because it’s harder not to stab yourself with an awesome-looking two-bladed sword, because it’s harder to tell which end goes in the other guy). I also wanted to play with weapons that have unique properties, which 5e tried to limit. I love the idea that weapons like the meteor hammer and the shotel require the user to make round-by-round choices. You don’t have to use them, but they reward a play style that like to fiddle with choices.

Skymetals

In Pathfinder, there are certain metals that come from the stars. Most of these are useless for making weapons, but a couple are really cool. The thing about skymetals is that they’re not magical. They can be worked and purchased, so their effects aren’t as powerful as magic items. They can be handed out like magic items, just like the adamantine armor in the DMG, but they can also make a nice money-sink for PCs.

Adamantine already exists in the PHB, but it might be nice to have a few more adamantine weapons. In the DMG, adamantine weapons are nonexistent, but adamantine armor turns a critical hit into a normal hit. I think the lack of adamantine weapons (which have long been a staple of the game) comes from the different way that 5e treats inanimate objects. Instead of a “hardness,” they have an increasingly higher AC, depending on how strong the material is, but all materials have the same hp, depending on their size. It was probably tough to figure out how adamantine weapons fit into the system, and not really a priority. I like my fix: it keeps the focus on adamantine versus other items, but doesn’t make the metal any more powerful against living things.

Inubrix or “ghost iron” seems to ignore iron and steel, but the effect is unpredictable. I like the idea that a roll of an 8 could be the “low roll” because of disadvantage, but hit because of the special properties of the weapon. It’s not super-powerful, but could be a fun, flavorful addition to a military campaign (where most of the enemies are wearing armor).

Siccatite emits extreme cold or extreme heat and usually won’t be worth the trouble, but creatures that are resistant to cold or heat could get a lot of use out of siccatite weapons.

Next time: Actual Magic Items!

5e Avengers (as monsters!): Wasp

If you’re interested in stories that I first read, when I was introduced to these characters, there are a few trades of this period. They start with Under Siege (I’d recommend the Kindle edition, honestly), the story in which Hercules is beaten into a coma. That leads into Assault on Olympus, and then into Heavy Metal. The rest of the Dr. Druid story hasn’t been reprinted, which I think is a loss to our cultural history.

There are some really great Avengers stories that have been written since 1990, too. Sadly, none of them include Dr. Druid, which seems, to me, like a huge oversight. I’d recommend Kurt Busiek’s Avengers Forever, which is both a totally out-of-continuity story, and a love-letter to all of Avengers history. Busiek’s main-title Avengers stories are also some of the best. If you’re looking for others, there are a lot of options, but I’d start there. When I go back to re-read Avengers stories, I always start with Busiek (my Dr. Druid issues didn’t survive my many moves, sadly).

The “14-level build out” format took a long time and wasn’t, as far as I could tell, a big hit. As much fun as building a Dr. Druid PC was, I think that having opponents is more useful. The way that monsters are built in 5e is completely different from the way player characters are built. They use two different sets of rules, but with the same names.

I’m going to try something a little different, this week. The Avengers I’m building, Wasp and Black Knight, both require a little bit of house-ruling to make work, so they’re perfect for this experiment. The end result should be somewhere between a PC and an NPC, so if someone wanted to use them as a foe, they could, but if someone wanted to use them as a base for a PC (or argue about why they should be built differently, which is have the fun of building characters like this), that will work, too.

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5e Monsters for Iron Gods: Sabosan and Gearghost

Monsters of Numeria!

Badmudderfugger and Solomani are doing such a great job with the creatures of Iron Gods, over on DungeonMusings and Lazy Dungeon Master that there isn’t often much for me to do. They’re both pretty far ahead of me, and I know that I just use theirs without much alteration, although when I do rebuild I’m considering posting it, here, for a different perspective. Would that be useful, for anyone?

The one place I can fill in, though, is the random encounter table, and I don’t have to worry about duplicating their work, because they’re well past these bits.

In that spirit, two creatures that you might not ever see, but should be a lot of fun if you do. Who knows, they might be useful for your 5e games even if you’re not playing Iron Gods. After all, who doesn’t want to throw a giant bat-creature or a ghost made from the restless soul of an adventurer killed by a trap? (And what could be more D&D than being hunted by spirits of failed adventurers past? A truly vicious GM could literally haunt a party with their own failures…)

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Iron Gods: Session summaries and some adaptations

There are always changes to adventure paths. No plot survives contact with the players, after all. I don’t want to do a session write-up, here. Not exactly. I do want to record some of the changes and left-turns that have been made. I’ll probably spoil some things, although I’m pretty sure that none of my players read this blog, so I’m not worried about it for them. Still, consider this fair warning. What follows is a brief session-by-session breakdown, with some thoughts about each, particularly places where we diverged from the adventure-as-written, why that happened, and what came of it.

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