Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday Recap: Sojourn at The Saffron

Let's roll!
We had a chance to play Dragonborn Quest again this weekend! I'm very happy with the way this campaign has been progressing. The players tell me that this was one of their favorite sessions of the entire campaign, which is great because I'm hoping to wrap this quest up in the next couple months.

Of course, that means things are going to get a little more dangerous. So, it was nice to have a session where the players got together and pulled off a good old-fashioned casino heist!

Dragonborn Quest: Mt. Draco


Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Will: Daardendrian Kreev, Red Dragonborn Bard, former prince, back to set things right
Megan: Daardendrian Zovira, Red Dragonborn Fighter, Kreev's aunt, champion of the clan
Bria: Druuga Faelynn, Silver Dragonborn Bard, avenged her sister, now to fix the isle...
Michelle: Nerithya Finzerwin, Half-Drow Rogue, ex-cultist looking for a new purpose to her life
Matt: Myastan Faerbor, White Dragonborn Fighter, Kreev's friend and owner of the legendary Axe of the Elders, currently going through the Trial of Humility
NPC: Oddmund, Nerithya's Shield Guardian, has a smiling face painted on his head

When we last left our heroes, they had just returned from the legendary Mt. Draco, where they had met the Ancient Silver Dragon Chevnyl and learned about the history of the island and the Dragonborn themselves. However, at the last moment, their traveling companion Cheskapen (who turned out to be a Couatl in disguise) stole away their ward, the Gold Dragonborn Torrin, and the War Priest of Bahamut Tofras. He convinced Chevnyl to turn against them, and only through Faelynn's Teleport spell were they able to escape. They returned to Dovuaka, the Free City of Dragonborn, inside the walls of the Prisma School run by Faelynn's clan.

The group had also learned that their hated Death knight enemy, Z'ildroth Favnir, would be returning from the grave some time within the next week. He would return at the location of his death, which was right in the middle of the Dovuaka City Council chambers. Knowing they didn't have much time, the group got to work formulating a plan.

Zovira, Faerbor, and Oddmund formed the strike team, armed with scrolls of Fireball crafted by Faelynn and Faerbor in the Prisma archives earlier that day. Their goal was to cause a big distraction at a Z'ildroth diplomat's home, clearing a path for the others to sneak into the Dovuaka Council chamber. However, they were caught by Blackwing guards and forced to detonate their scrolls early. Using the fiery distraction, they slipped off into the night, back towards Prisma. Zovira was sure they had seen her face, though.

At the Council chambers, Kreev, Faelynn, and Nerithya saw several of the posted guards leave to check out the explosions. With the help of Invisibility spells, they snuck in and set up their plan: a Glyph of Warding that would cast Forbiddance and destroy Favnir when he returned. While Faelynn and Nerithya kept watch, Kreev began the hour-long process of casting the Glyph.

He was nearly finished when the guards returned, and one decided to inspect the Council chamber. Nerithya silently killed him, but in doing so came face to face with the patrol of guards behind him. The alarm was sounded, and using the door as a chokepoint, Faelynn and Nerithya held back the wave of oncoming Blackwing soldiers. Faelynn's disguise couldn't hold up, and she was sure the Blackwings recognized her clan. The School was in danger!

As Kreev finished casting the spell, Faelynn teleported the three of them back to Prisma School, where Zovira was waiting for them. She had returned a short time ago, and with the help of Druuga Belgar, the clan leader, had sounded an evacuation. The School had prepared tunnels in case of this event, and the party rushed down them. As they did, they could hear the pounding of Blackwing spears on the doors to the now-empty School.

They met back up with the Druuga clan in their hidden forest base, and collapsed in exhaustion.


https://andrebdois.deviantart.com/art/the-wizard-with-his-pet-ghoulfish-292252673
As was foretold in a prophecy that already happened
That night, they all had a similar dream. They watched as an event from long ago played out: the fall of the wizard Avubafarihm (I learned how to pronounce this mid-session: Avooba-far-heem). His draconian soldiers were no match for the paladin Arrakas, who slew the wizard, as the party knew from Chevnyl's histories.

But then something different happened. The paladin Arrakas turned into Cheskapen, and he grabbed the Sun Amulet from Avubafarihm. He turned to a small Gold Draconian child, who now looked like Torrin, and pressed the Sun Amulet to the child's chest. Torrin screamed and disintegrated, as did all the other Draconians.

The dream ended for everyone but Kreev, who, before he woke, saw a pure white dragon flying down towards the mountain. It mouthed words he couldn't hear.

The party woke up all together, and compared their dreams. They discussed what the dream could mean, but ultimately decided the dream didn't have much impact on their current plans.

Their current plan was based on a set of Portal Keys they had obtained from high-ranking Chromatic Dragonborn around the island. These small amulets could turn elemental portals into passageways that lead inside Castle Z'ildroth. With three of them, they could bypass the entire city of Palaga and the outer defenses of the castle. They wanted to find a third one, and they had a target in mind: The Saffron, a grand casino run by Shestendeliath Zragrax, a Blue Dragonborn who controlled much of the underhanded dealings in Palaga.

With the help of Faelynn's mother and the costuming department of clan Druuga, they prepared fancy clothes for their casino heist that could still conceal their weaponry. Faerbor and Zovira, in heavy armor, would act as the "guards" to Nerithya, who had perfected her story about being a polymorphed Dragon here for a visit. Faelynn would be her minstrel, and Kreev would be her consigliere. Oddmund, dressed up in a top hat and tails, would be the silent retainer. Kreev also prepared disguises for the group, making Faelynn, Zovira, and Faerbor appear to be normal Dragonborn. He himself donned his Hat of Disguise.

The night was falling as they finished up, and Faelynn teleported the group to the front entrance of The Saffron. Well-to-do Dragonborn nobles were arriving via carriages, and the sudden appearance of a group of people left some of them surprised. However, soon afterwards, a couple of Dragonborn wizards popped into view as well, so they weren't particularly out of place.

They entered the grand casino lobby, resplendent with marble floors and columns, ferns and vines decorating the walls, and a massive golden statue of Shestendeliath Zragrax himself in the middle of the room. While Nerithya surreptitiously lifted some gold from the pockets of finely-dressed Dragonborn, Kreev obtained 1500GP worth of wooden tokens marked with The Saffron's name and sigil.

They entered the main gaming floor and wandered for a bit, stopping at a table of very well-dressed Dragonborn. Nerithya played the consummate noble, holding her cards and whispering nonsense words into Kreev's ear while he played the game. Kreev bet strong and pushed hard, and ended winning 7000GP in tokens. He asked where an even higher-rolling table might be found, and they were lead to a glass-walled room overlooking the casino floor.


http://criticalrolesource.tumblr.com/page/385
Dashing blue dragonborn, and rich too!
There, among plush couches and wild plants, sat Shestendeliath Zragrax himself, wrapped in fine robes. He offered Nerithya a spot at his personal gambling table, but the party declined for now. Zragrax offered them a small identification charm that they could use to get back to this area once they were ready to play in the real big leagues.

The party retreated and began to formulate a plan. They suspected that Zragrax had the Portal Key on his necklace, and there was likely an elemental portal somewhere in the casino's basement. The problem was, they could only see one way down to the basement: through Zragrax's room. It didn't help that the place was crawling with Blackwing Elite guards.

Suddenly, the entire casino shook slightly, causing glasses to clink and piles of tokens to fall over. A hush fell over the floor for a moment, but then the crowd relaxed again. The party wasn't sure what was happening, but they watched as Zragrax grabbed two Blackwings and headed downstairs. The way was clear!

Zovira, Faerbor, and Oddmund stood watch while Kreev cashed out their chips. Faelynn and Nerithya went ahead to scope out the basement and report back. Along the way, Nerithya looted Zragrax's safe, and found a magic ring of Water Elemental Command! They moved towards the stairs that Zragrax had just gone down. They were only a few steps down when they suddenly began choking and vomiting - their lungs were filling up with seawater!

Realizing it was a trap, they retreated back up the stairs and started looking for some sort of magical mechanism. Faelynn discovered a drawer full of identification charms they could use to bypass the trap, and grabbed enough for the entire party. They headed downstairs and found a large area with an abandoned card game, and the vault door. Nerithya saw that the vault couldn't be opened without a particular charm - likely something Zragrax would carry.

They returned to the party, and everyone went down into the basement. As they did so, another tremor shook the building. This time, they could hear the pounding of feet and screams from above, likely meaning the casino had been emptied of its patrons. The group found an elevator leading down to a dock area in a cliffside, and took it down.

(While this rumbling and shaking was playing out, the players kept guessing that someone was already performing a heist on the casino, since they had all seen Ocean's Thirteen. On the way down, Kreev's player asked me if it could possibly a famous Dragon Turtle from the island, Audon Hullbane, or Old Chompy. But we reminded him that Old Chompy's stomping grounds were on the North side of the island, not the South. It couldn't possibly be...)

When they reached the docks level, they were met with a terrifying sight. Audon Hullbane, a massive, ancient Dragon Turtle, was ramming the walls of the docks and obliterating the dock workers and Blackwings that were fighting her. The Shestendeliath champion, Yorjurn the Taskmaster, was directing the attack, while Zragrax was shouting encouragement from behind.


https://pe-travers.deviantart.com/art/Monster-Hunter-368890627
Nailed it
They also saw many different storage units, including one that contained dozens of aquariums filled with aquatic animals. Kreev and Zovira made towards the animals, while Nerithya crept up and stole Zragrax's necklace. Faerbor, responding to the call of his Axe of the Elders, joined in the attack on the Dragon Turtle, while Faelynn started casting spells and "missing" Old Chompy (and hitting Blackwings).

As Kreev and Zovira arrived at the tanks, they saw a large aquarium with a baby Dragon Turtle inside it. Suddenly the attack made sense! Zovira smashed through the glass of the tank, and Kreev polymorphed the carriage-sized beast into a tiny rat. He had a plan!

Meanwhile, Nerithya and Zragrax made their way back to the elevator and hurried to head up and out of danger. She continued to play the part of innocent casino patron, just a bit lost, is all. Faelynn saw a strange figure drop from the sky into the water outside the cavern docks - she recognized him as her father, Druuga Ravodaar, who had abandoned her as a child to go adventuring.

Zovira took a running start and flung the rat as far towards the water as she could. Kreev released his polymorph spell mid-flight, causing the creature to change back into a Dragon Turtle before it hit the water. It just barely missed Ravodaar, much to Faelynn's disappointment. Sighing, she leapt into the water and swam out to save the drowning adventurer.

Meanwhile, Nerithya and Zragrax got on the elevator and began lifting to safety. It was then Nerithya pulled her rapier and threatened to kill Zragrax unless he told her everything. He sobbed, told her that the elemental portal was located in the vault, and his key could open the vault. Satisfied, she killed him and kicked his body off of the platform.

Old Chompy, finally seeing her child returned, shook her attackers off and retreated back into the water. She thanked the party in a massive, deep voice, and Zovira bowed low. With the threat of the Dragon Turtle gone, the Blackwings turned to fight those who had intruded - and now that Faelynn's disguise had washed off, they had a good idea who the party actually was.

Fortunately, Kreev had Feebleminded the clan champion, and they mopped up the rest fairly quickly. Nerithya cast Invisibility, allowing her to hide from the reinforcements and let them on the elevator. She then cut the chains holding up the platform, and they tumbled to their deaths.

With a moment to breathe, Faelynn confronted her father. It turned out he was on the casino balcony, and had been trying to steal tokens in the confusion upstairs. Kreev, who had grown up hearing tales of Ravodaar's more heroic exploits, was deeply disappointed. Faelynn thought it was about par for the course.

Suddenly, Faerbor collapsed. Since he had slain the clan champion of Shestendelioth, his Axe of the Elders had decided to allow him to take on the next stage of his trials. He regained his skill with weapons and magic, but his strength was reduced to that of a normal humanoid. Suddenly, he couldn't wear his plate armor or wield his heavy weapons.

The group loaded his armor and glaive into their Bag of Holding, and found him a set of leather armor to wear in the meantime. He would be much less useful in combat until he could defeat another worthy opponent.

The group traveled up the elevator and to the vault, finding a large portal to the plane of elemental water, and Nerithya already there and filling her own Bag of Holding with a mountain of gold coins. As they entered the room, a golden statue (like the one in the lobby) came to life and raised a rapier at them. It asked Nerithya if these intruders were allowed into the vault.


https://sixfrid.deviantart.com/art/Gold-Golem-432265215
Sometimes you come up with something before you find art and it's hard to find art for it but then you do and it's awesome
She said yes at first, but Faerbor's axe called to him again. The statue would be a worthy foe, and complete this new trial! The group decided to go ahead and take on the monster, despite being somewhat beaten up.

They all dogpiled the golem, making sure Faerbor got his hit in. As they did so, it activated, turning its sword on the group. The gold in the vault's store also sprung to life, an enchantment on it causing it to rise up into a whirlwind of flying coins.

The party demolished the golden statue, Zovira scoring several strong hits with her new sword Darkness. Meanwhile, Kreev summoned his Fire Elemental friend Scoria, who blasted flames at the coins flying through the air.

Once the gold statue had been defeated, though, Nerithya ordered the coins to retreat. They obeyed her, since she was wearing Zragrax's amulet. The group watched as Faerbor's strength returned, but his skin was rimmed with frost. The final trial, the Trial of Ice, had begun. He had to stay focused and aware, or he would be consumed by ice and become a frozen statue.

The party needed a rest badly, and realized that the vault was probably the safest place in the casino. They closed the door and set up their beds.

In the morning, they used a spell scroll to inscribe a Teleportation Circle in the vault, and Faelynn teleported them back to the Druuga secret base. Not wanting to waste any time while Faerbor was turning to ice, they immediately had Faelynn teleport them back into the vault, after dropping off their spoils and Ravodaar.

They reappeared in the vault, and, using the Portal Keys, stepped through the elemental portal.

They appeared in the front hall of Castle Z'ildroth, where familiar architecture had been changed to depict Black Dragons. Kreev and Zovira had finally returned home.


https://raphael-lacoste.deviantart.com/art/Return-of-the-emperor-121959087
Salothzar, I'm hoooome!
We stopped there for the night. I'm excited! I expect Castle Z'ildroth will take a couple sessions to get through, and it will be a great place to reveal the rest of the lore I'm putting into the quest. Even now, there are still mysteries to resolve!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Lore of Ahneria: Faces Around the City of Garton

https://yefumm.deviantart.com/art/Victor-344522568
This is part of a series on the lore of my homebrew world, Ahneria. As I outlined here, much of this information will be pulled from existing D&D lore and tropes. At the end, I'll be including a section on how to use this sort of thing in your own games. 

Important NPCs

 

King Faustus


His Royal Highness is actually more of a figurehead within the government, but acts as a mediator and tiebreaker in rare cases. However, the lineage of the king is highly valued as an example to the people.

Few know that, for some time, he was replaced by a cunning Rakshasa named Sebastian. He was not responsible for the War of Fools, but is nonetheless taking steps to undo the damage caused by his doppelganger's decisions.

Like all Garlancian leaders, he does not use a last name, just his title.

Objectives: Help Garlancia heal from the War of Fools, gain the trust of the citizenry, stabilize the Garton government

Royal Advisor Archibald


Archibald arrived rather mysteriously after the War of Fools, and has been instructing King Faustus on the many ways of the Courts of Garton. He is incredibly knowledgeable, and sports some rather deep scars on his face and back. However, he refuses to speak about his past, and much speculation has been passed around the nobility about his true nature and origins.

Like all Garlancian leaders, he does not use a last name, just his title.

Objectives: Help Garlancia heal from the War of Fools, stabilize the Garton government, teach King Faustus to be a proper leader

Captain Floris


https://beaver-skin.deviantart.com/art/Alexander-Reinholdt-252965897
Captain Floris began his career after the former guard captain, Captain Barker, ended up dead in the Garton Sewers. Floris sees protecting the City of Garton as his duty, going so far as to treat his job like a paladin would treat their oath. He was considered an honorary member of the adventuring group C.H.A.O.S, and helped defeat the Cult of Kam during their ritual uprising.

His arms were turned ethereal by Mr. Lizard during an escape heist, but he got better.

Objectives: Keep his city safe, hire the best city watch gold can buy, root out evil before it rises again

Senator Sturly


Formerly Sturly Stempleburgess, she decided to become a member of the Garton Government after Parliament was massacred by the Cult of Kam. She is well-acquainted with C.H.A.O.S. and would never turn down a cup of tea with them.

Objectives: Help Garton how she can, assist those in need, enjoy a fine cup of tea

Oswald Lee Bailey


The portly and mustachio'd leader of the Garlancian Merchant's Guild. He has a fondness for rare artwork that often gets his guild in trouble, but inexplicably he finds ways to bounce back. His luck seems to kick in at just the right time.

Objectives: collect rare artwork, keep the economy stable, helps his friends get wealthy

Romero Calabra


dragonage.bioware.com/dao/characters/human_noble/
Once a local tyrant in a nearby village, he was ousted and fled to Garton. He helped uncover the presence of the Black Hand in Garton, and assisted Voronion the Thief in the War of Fools. When it came time to select a new leader for the Thieves Guild of Garton, Romero was the natural choice. Especially because Voronion had been killed fighting demons a few days prior. Totally unrelated.

Objectives: provide shelter for the poor and downtrodden below the City of Garton, steal from the rich, sell "protection" to high-ranking individuals

Factions


C.H.A.O.S.


Though the famous adventuring group has disbanded and left the city, you can still join the C.H.A.O.S. division of the City Watch - in fact, that's where most adventurers get their start. King Faustus has a fondness for adventurers and has provided a large budget for mercenary work to Captain Floris. Those with skills in sword or spell can grab a piece of that very profitable pie.

The Guilds


https://anastasia-n.deviantart.com/art/The-Mages-Guild-of-Cheydinhal-131030146
There are three major guilds in Garton, and a few others worth mentioning. The Fighter's Guild, the Merchant's Guild, and the Mage's Guild have a strong presence in the city, and run training programs, commerce, and entertainment within their respective arenas. They each have a major guild house in the High District of Garton, as well as guild outposts and guild-approved shops spread throughout the city.

There are a few smaller guilds, such as the Theives' Guild, the Assassin's Guild, and various crafting guilds for particular professions. These guilds feature an out-of-the-way guild house in the Middle District (or the sewers), and generally don't have much influence in city affairs. They hold leverage as schools of their various crafts, and a highly recommended place to hire such a craftsman. A cobbler belonging to a guild would be quite skilled, and be able to use the Guild's connections and negotiators to obtain better prices on their goods.

The Cobblestones


Once the country's best-kept secret, they were exposed by the Rakshasa Sebastian during the days leading up to the War of Fools. In fact, he even implicated them in the Massacre of Parliament, though the truth has since come out (it was the Cult of Kam all along). The Cobblestones have a long and storied history, and their network runs deep. Even since their exposure, individual members are everywhere and choose to keep their role in the organization a secret.

The Cobblestones seek to keep Garlancia stable and in good hands. They are lead by the tiefling Orianna No One, a master assassin who went behind enemy lines to obtain intel that eventually ended the War. One of her first acts was to end the trade of Wyverns as pets and mounts among the rich in Garton, in memory of her own Wyvern Akumu.

The Black Hand


Not much is known of this shadow organization, except that they seek to disrupt certain parts of Garton commerce. Already, Black Hand shipments of drugs and illegal goods have begun to find their way onto the streets of Garton. Captain Floris is doing his best to root them out, but with little luck so far.

Other NPCs

https://seresute-the-wolf.deviantart.com/art/Mother-TRD-NPCs-469463895

Race: Roll 2d8
2. Tiefling
3. Half-Orc
4. Dragonborn
5. Human (Norstone native: blonde, muscled, barbaric ancestry)
6. Human (Native of the Forest: dirty strong, and skilled at survival)
7-10. Human (Garlancian: tan skin, dark hair, average build)
11. Human (Native of the Mountains: darker skin, agile and skilled at athletics)
12. Human (Distant traveler, from various lands on Eiselon)
13. Halfling
14. Dwarf
15. Half-Elf
16. Roll 1d10 below

1-3. Elf
4-6. Gnome
7. Genasi
8. Lizardfolk
9. Kenku
10. Other

Objective: Roll 1d20 unless the PCs seek out one in particular
1. Trinket Merchant looking to sell their wares
2. Beggar looking for food
3. Amateur Adventurer looking for a quest
4. Debtor looking for a scheme to pay what they owe
5. Lover seeking a gift for their partner
6. City Watch looking for troublemakers
7. Figher's Guild Member looking for someone to train with
8. Hunter/Trapper with furs to sell
9. Local Priest helping the needy
10. Established Craftsperson seeking new clients for their work
11. Merchant's Guild Member on the lookout for thieves
12. Artist looking for a good model or test subject
13. Local Banker looking for a new investment
14. Child who wants to play with you
15. Thieves' Guild member looking to make a quick getaway
16. Old person finishing their daily routines
17. Small-Time Mage who wants a quality tutor
18. Parliamentarian seeing how the common folk live
19. Mage's Guild Member trying to find someone to buy this cursed magic item
20. Cobblestone Agent wanting to strike up conversation without letting you know who they really are

Stats: Roll 2d8 unless a particular option makes more sense
2. Mage (MM pg. 347)
3. Knight  or Veteran (MM pg. 347, 350)
4. Priest (MM pg. 348)
5. Acolyte (MM pg. 342)
6. Guard (MM pg. 347)
7-11: Commoner or Noncombatant (MM pg. 345)
12. Bandit/Cultist (MM pg. 343)
13. Thug (MM pg. 350)
14. Scout (MM pg. 349)
15. Bandit Captain/Cult Fanatic (MM pg. 344-345)
16. Roll 1d10 below

1-5. Noble (MM pg. 348)
6. Archmage (MM pg. 342)
7. Assassin (MM pg. 343)
8. Gladiator (MM pg. 346)
9. Spy (MM pg. 349)
10. Druid (MM pg. 346)

Using This Material in Your Setting

  • Who are the most powerful people in your world? What are their goals? How are they changing the world to reflect those goals?
  • How do these people interact with each other?
  • What factions exist in your world? What are their goals? How are they changing the world to reflect those goals?
  • What are the demographics of your world? How common are various people/professions? If the players pick a random person off the street to talk to or fight, what are their stats?

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Damage Reduction in 5th edition

Not exactly
This past weekend, I ran Broodmother Skyfortress, which is an utterly fantastic module from Jeff Rients.

In it, you fight Giants. I'm not going to talk much about them here, but Jeff recommends you give the Giants a special ability: Damage Reduction instead of Armor Class. This is to give the impression of an "alien" monster, something that doesn't quite work the way the PCs do.

So, how did I decide what that DR was for a 5th Edition version of the monster?

Well, it all comes back to one of my favorite charts in the Dungeon Master's Guide: Monster Statistics by Challenge Rating, page 274. On it, you can find the baseline AC, HP, attack bonus, damage, and saving throws for monsters at each CR. As I've discussed before, this allows you to make and modify monsters with some idea of what the end result will be.

So, essentially, we are just adding a column to this table for Damage Reduction. This turned out to be a lot more complicated than I expected.

Thanks to Bounded Accuracy in 5th edition, you have an average of 55-65% chance to hit at every level. Let's round that to 60%. This means that for every 10 damage you could dish out, a monster's AC effectively will block 4 of that damage. So for a monster with 50 hit points, we'll need to block about 20 points of damage (40%) with the DR to make it equivalent. Call it a DR Threshold.

The D is for DANK
That 20 points of damage reduction is going to have to be divided among every attack and spell the party makes. With an average of 5 players in a group and 3 rounds in a combat (these are the DMG's assumptions for all Monster abilities), we can assume a given monster will take about 15 turns of combat to defeat.

This will also have to be modified based on how many attacks a particular player can make on a turn. If our DR is set to 4, a fighter with 2 attacks will actually account for 8 points of damage reduction in our final calculation.

Nearly all martial classes get an extra attack around level 5 or 6. This means we'll have to make an adjustment when the monster hits CR 5 or so.

Now, what about 3rd, or 4th attacks? Those are mostly the purview of the fighter and monk. Other classes tend to focus on beefing up a single attack, via Rage, Divine Smite, Sneak Attack, etc. So beyond this, we won't need a change.

But we still need to account for two things: critical hits and large damage spells. After all, if a PC gets a critical hit, they are basically skipping a turn of DR that would contribute to our total DR. And if a wizard drops a Fireball, that's quite a bit of damage for only one DR.

A critical hit (based on our 15 turns in a combat) will probably happen once in a single fight. With more attacks, they become more likely, but not every character will have more attacks.

A massive damage spell, on the other hand, will likely happen every fight if you have a Wizard or Sorcerer in the party. So we'll need to account for that. However, due to spell slot limitations, we can safely assume it will happen no more than twice in a single fight. And that damage will likely be 2-3x as much as a single attack would be.
Oh no an overpowered spell *cough cough* Fireball *cough*
These factors have the effect of lowering the number of turns we have to achieve the total DR we're looking for. So, although we are assuming there will be 3 rounds of combat, the DR threshold needs to be met in 2 rounds, to account for large sources of damage.

This gives us our formula:
  • (Average Monster Health at a given CR) * 40% = DR Threshold
  • DR Threshold / 10 turns = DR per turn (always round down)
  • At CR 5 or greater, DR per Turn / 1.38 (to account for some classes having an extra attack)
  • At CR 20, DR is capped (as per AC in the DMG)

And by using this formula, we can get our table:
  • CR 0: DR 1
  • CR 1/8: DR 1
  • CR 1/4: DR 2
  • CR 1/2: DR 2
  • CR 1: DR 3
  • CR 2: DR 3
  • CR 3: DR 4
  • CR 4: DR 4
  • CR 5: DR 4
  • CR 6: DR 4
  • CR 7: DR 4
  • CR 8: DR 5
  • CR 9: DR 5
  • CR 10: DR 6
  • CR 11: DR 6
  • CR 12: DR 7
  • CR 13: DR 7
  • CR 14: DR 7
  • CR 15: DR 8
  • CR 16: DR 8
  • CR 17: DR 9
  • CR 18: DR 9
  • CR 19: DR 10
  • CR 20 and higher: DR 10
If a creature's DR is greater than its suggested DR, increase or decrease its defensive CR for every point of difference. This will allow you to create truly impenetrable hides on your monsters.

It's not only useful to the thick-hided, of course. Use this when you're creating walls of solid stone, or clouds of gas that you literally can't miss, or other things that might not take the brunt of your attack but are simple to hit.


https://benwootten.deviantart.com/art/Another-Bulette-124918891
Or if you're just super thicc
As I wanted my Broodmother Giants to be around CR 10, I gave them DR 6.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Recap: Broodmother Skyfortress

http://www.lotfp.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=236
When someone asks you if you're a Space God, you always say yes!
We got together on Saturday to play another Campaign of Chaos game. This time, I used a pre-made module by the excellent game master Jeff Rients. It's called Broodmother Skyfortress, because there's a Broodmother and a Skyfortress in the module. It's quite fun.

Part of the module (and an excellent part, at that) is a sort of thematic modularity that allows you to build the game to suit your campaign. The "Giants" of the Brood can be from 4 different origins, or more if you make one up yourself. Same for the Skyfortress itself. Also, the horrible wretches that live beneath the tunnels of the Skyfortress have a bunch of traits that are left up to the DM, to make them as hostile/dangerous/friendly as you like.

So naturally, this being Chaos Quest, I left all of these decisions up to the players.

It did not go as expected.

Campaign of Chaos: Broodmother Skyfortress


Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Shannon: Cressen Juhl, Fallen Aasimar Trickery Cleric of Ralishaz, hates their dad Pholtus
Cody: Mist, Tabaxi Rogue, likes the shiny and shoots the arrows
Quinn: Jakky, Darkling Shadow Monk, sneaks into places to do a murder
Wade: Agne, Kobold Warlock of the Great Old Ones, killed his family for creepy powers
Wes: Magic Man, Drow Transumation Wizard, kind of creepy, teaches magical life lessons
NPC: Artorius, Void Dragon Wyrmling, hangs out with Agne

When we last left the Chaos Crew, they had just finished spreading all sorts of mayhem across the city of Auraglow. Just as their patron, Mr. Lizard, returned to their graveyard hideout, a massive thunderstorm rolled in. Declaring that this was their ticket out of here, Mr. Lizard led the group up the massive chains tethering the cloud to the ground, while huge, centaurian monsters rampaged through the darkened city below.

They arrived on the surface of a cloud, where the storm was gone, and the moonlight shone above them. In the distance, they saw several structures, the largest of which was a domed building with a huge golden obelisk sticking up out of it.

Mr. Lizard then asked the group who they though built the domed building, and what they though those monsters looked like. The party agreed: those monsters were certainly fiends of some kind, and the building looked like it was made by some creatures so technologically advanced that they had fled Ahneria long ago.

Mr. Lizard then told them their goals: capture the Skyfortress so they could use it as a base of operations, and travel the world in it. Also, set it on a path towards Garton and figure out how to use its laser cannons or whatever weaponry it had.


http://www.lotfp.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=236
Heavy Metal Shark Elephants - my new band name
The crew decided to check out some of the smaller structures first, and made their way towards them. Drawing closer, they realized these were similar in construction to the larger dome: but the blinking lights and sci-fi glow had long faded. Magic Man realized that these structures had fallen through the cloud supports below, meaning this cloud structure was slowly destabilizing.

They then realized Mr. Lizard had disappeared, leaving only a note in Agne's pocket stating "BRB". It wasn't the first time their patron had vanished on them, and they shrugged it off.

The group decided to venture into the basements of these buildings and see what they could find. They eventually made their way all the way down, and could see the distant city on fire below them. Also, the chains they had climbed up on were now being used by the monsters to return to the cloud. The group was finally able to get a good look at the creatures who had been destroying Auraglow.

They were centaur-like, but massive - their lower halves were elephant-like, and as large as elephants as well. Their upper halves were humanoid, except their heads, which looked like hammerhead shark heads. Their skin was dark reddish-grey, and they sported long curled horns and sharp black claws on their hands. One of them had a monstrous glowing blue sword strapped to his back. Cressen had to hold Mist back from jumping at the shiny object.

Meanwhile, Agne had spotted a small golden bracelet and was trying to figure out how to reach it, since it was all the way across a cloud chasm. Artorius offered to fly over, but it was rather precariously placed and his claws weren't the most dexterous. Instead, Cressen used his wings of flying to swoop over and snatch up the charm, though he nearly dropped it as well.

They fiddled with the charm a bit, before realizing a small part of it could extend out and shoot poison-covered needles. The needles seemed to be coated in a tranquilizer-like toxin, and there were only two shots remaining. The technology completely befuddled them.

Agne, with his natural Kobold instincts, discovered a tunnel that lead towards the center of the cloud island. The group decided to follow it inwards, heading towards the area beneath the massive domed fortress.

(Fair warning: remember how I said I let the players dictate some of the details of this adventure? Well. Things got weird.)

They arrived at a cave with a pool in it, lit by phosphorescent mushrooms. In it, they saw strange ghosts, flickering spirits that appeared to be young human girls wearing bathing linens and rolling around in poo. The party called out to them, and they leapt up at the sight of strangers. But as soon as they saw Magic Man, they started to call him by name and rush forward to greet him. Their clothing flickered and transformed into some sort of naval uniform.

I don't know how it came to this. I wish it hadn't.
Magic Man had no idea what was going on, but he could smell someone cooking meat and mushrooms, which reminded him of his grandfather. Brushing aside concerns from the party that he had eaten his grandfather, they followed these strange spirit girls into a cavern used as a dining hall.

The party spent some time figuring out what was going on here. (Like, three hours of in game time.) Jakky, with his Darkling blindsight, couldn't see the girls, but instead saw small spheres that appeared to be doing the talking. The girls told Magic Man that he could also visit the "Hall of the Lost Ones" or "Sempai", neither of which he understood. Meanwhile, Jakky and Mist ate the food and drank the mushroom beer, which gave them horrifying hallucinations. Magic Man joined in later, after talking to and flirting with the "Student Council President" spirit, who was named "Misu".

They eventually figured out that they were in some sort of game (dating sim) called "Romance High", which was apparently owned (and extensively modded) by Magic Man. The "Lost Ones" were spirits (holograms) that had died (fallen into disrepair), and "Sempai" was their leader and spiritual guide (he acted as the principle in the game and could reveal data about the game file).

The group went to see "Sempai", and were told that they needed to take the game into a certified repair shop, the closest of which was thousands of light years away. Also, the current game session was almost two million years old. They weren't sure what to make of this information, and eventually decided to explore the rest of the caves and come back.

When they did so, they quickly discovered that they had found a small entrance to the main building. They peeked out from behind a pile of boulders and saw a huge columned room, with red glowing columns and tiny spiders webbed across the ceiling. The area looked like it was once a high-technology marvel, but had since been decorated by the giant creatures with blood, skulls, chains, and torture implements (basically a heavy metal album cover).

They also got an up-close view of two of the Giants within the chamber they could view. One of them, who kept coughing and hacking up vomit, was kicking and bullying a smaller Giant that looking runtish and underfed. The monsters seemed busy, so the group decided to sneak past them. Cressen used his Pass Without Trace spell to conceal the group.

They snuck through the huge doorway and into the next room, which prominently featured an enormous platform standing on struts, surrounded by strange paintings that flickered images from around the building and outside. Stuck through the platform was a massive contraption, an octahedron that extended into the empty space below the platform. It was covered in lines and gems, some of which glowed bright colors. Also, standing on the platform was a Giant, a massive specimen even for their race, with massive muscles and a big beer belly. On his back was the big blue glowing sword.

Once again, Cressen held Mist back from dashing forward. The group debated what to do, and decided to try and tranquilize the massive monster. Cressen, still under the effects of his spell, crept forward and fired two needles packed with poison into the Giant's haunches. The first one seemed to have no effect, but the second caused the monster to relax his arms and start to sway slowly.

Cressen started talking to the monster and trying to work out a language, while Jakky, Mist, and Magic Man pored over this strange contraption. They recalled "Sempai" had mentioned something about a Skydrive, this must be it. They poked and prodded, and managed to pry off a few gemstones with no ill effects. Meanwhile, Cressen convinced the Giant to give up his cool sword, which turned out to be made of some strange substance that gave it powerful properties.

Something like this
Jakky went to grab off another gem, but this time, something happened: the entire fortress, maybe even the entire cloud, jerked violently into a tilted position! Cressen used his wings to fly and Magic Man shrugged off the sudden motion, saying it happened to him all the time. However, Agne, Mist, and Jakky were thrown to the ground, and Jakky only barely avoided being crushed by their new Giant companion.

The party wasn't sure what just happened, and certainly wasn't about to find out what would happen if they touched the Skydrive again. Also, they realized that they didn't have much longer before the tranquilizer was going to wear off, according to Cressen's poison-identifying skills. They decided to take this opportunity to wipe out the Giants in the red-columned room they had just passed through.

Mist rode the Giant they had tamed, which he called "Sharkey", into the next room, where the two Giants were still moving about, confused at the recent shift in the direction of gravity. Mist ordered an attack, and Sharkey lunged forward at the vomiting monster.

Magic Man, Agne, and Jakky all unleashed their attacks at the beast, but unfortunately its hide was so thick (like, thicc) that they could barely scratch the beast. Only Mist's Oathbow arrows, Cressen's new sword, and Sharkey's ridiculously powerful punches seemed to be having any effect at all.

Frustrated, Magic Man and Jakky switched to supporting their allies while Agne scoped out the other Giant, the runt. He seemed scared, and possibly willing to join the group and gain the power that comes with Chaos. Agne began to speak into his mind, frightening him with power but also coaxing him into servitude.

The vomiting monster had unleashed a torrent of acidic bile that nearly left Jakky dead, and Cressen began to switch to healing his ally. Sharkey kept wailing on their opponent, making several of Mist's arrows fly off in odd directions. Finally, the beast went down after three brutal blows from Sharkey, and the tranquilized Giant began to charge towards the Runt to finish him off as well.

Cressen and Mist yelled at Sharkey to stop, and he did so, reluctantly. Agne kept talking to the Runt, and finally convinced him to join their cause. The group nicknamed him Luci, since he was a devilish fiend and all.

Luci said he somewhat knew how to deal with the Skydrive, and they returned to the engine room. Luci set the Fortress back to its proper alignment, and charted a course towards Garton. They were almost out of time on Sharkey's tranquilizer, and they weren't about to fight Sharkey. So instead, Artorius lead Sharkey outside and near a hole in the clouds close to the Fortress. Then, he used his Gravitic Breath to make Sharkey fall through the hole and plummet to the ground far below.

Miles below, on the path leading from Garotn to Auraglow, an adventuring party had just set out on their biggest and best adventure yet. They had grown close as friends, and closer as comrades-in-arms. They knew that this was going to be it: the amazing adventure that changed everything. Deep in their hearts, they knew.

Then, the Gnome Wizard looked up and said "What in the Hells is tha-"

And they were all crushed by the massive shark-elephant-demon-centaur that landed directly on them, exploding in a shower of meat and feces, leaving a massive crater in the path. The end.

Back above, the group decided to take a quick rest in a room that Luci told them should be safe: the Crypt. They ventured there through the Red-Columned room and found a small alcove with some glass coffins containing strangely tall skeletons with elongated skulls. Mist found an old Map of Ahneria made of Gemstones, and pried them off.

They took a quick rest, knowing that they weren't quite finished yet: they had taken control of the ship, for sure, but they still had to deal with the rest of the Giants before they could truly capture the fortress. According to Luci, four more remained: "The Smart One", "The Twins", "The Scary One" and "Mother".

Mr. Lizard's note now read: "Accidentally got sucked into an other plane of existence. At least I found a friend! Back before you know it!"


http://www.lotfp.com/store/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=236
Magic stuff and really wild things, baby
We stopped there for the night. I never expected to introduce such high science fiction into Ahneria (though we did have a steampunk time traveler that one time). But hey, that's Chaos! I'm planning to keep everything sufficiently advanced, that this sort of thing won't be reverse-engineerable. At least then whatever they find will be limited to the Skyfortress.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Lore of Ahneria: 25 Dungeons In and Around Garton

https://gycinn.deviantart.com/art/Concepting-a-medieval-street-456824211
This is part of a series on the lore of my homebrew world, Ahneria. As I outlined here, much of this information will be pulled from existing D&D lore and tropes. At the end, I'll be including a section on how to use this sort of thing in your own games. 

Party levels:
  • Low: levels 1 to 4
  • Mid: levels 5 to 10
  • High: levels 11 to 16
  • Epic: levels 17 and higher

1. The Ooze Tunnels, a natural cavern connecting the Garton sewer system to an underwater cave in the nearby Mane river. The floors are slippery or sticky, depending on where you go, and any drip from the ceiling could be water or corrosive slime. Suggested Party Level: Mid

2. The former lair of Lumien Ratheart, a section of the sewer partially flooded and cleared out by a city watch patrol. Lots of bones and magical puzzles, could easily be reclaimed by a wererat gang or doppelganger. Suggested Party Level: Low

3. The Undercity, a shanty town located in a deep cistern below the streets, infamously difficult to get to and current headquarters for the Thieves' Guild. A system of scaffolding and elevators allows travel between different levels of the city. Suggested Party Level: Mid

4. The Elite Rogue Training Grounds, a gauntlet of traps and challenges located below the Undercity. Used to raise the Thieves' Guild's best and brightest, it was recently reclaimed by Romero Calabra and is back in full working order. However, there are many secrets still hidden in its twisting tunnels... Suggested Party Level: High

5. The Shaft, a long vertical pit with connections to every level of the sewer. Fraught with slick walls and monsters that can scale them, the descent is just as dangerous as the destination. However, the upside is there is some light from a grate at the top - at least, during the day. And don't expect that light to travel all the way down. Suggested Party Level: Low

6. Blockage, a deep sewer system so packed with muck and filth that you have to tunnel your way through. Expect to fight other tunneling creatures, like rats, bugs, and even the occasional Umber Hulk. Finding a pre-dug tunnel is a blessing, though with the weight of all the crap that has accumulated down here, don't be surprised if the tunnels slowly shrink behind you. Suggested Party Level: Mid

7. Pipe Central, a maze-like section of the Garton sewer system that connects the city's plumbing and water supply. Pipes here constantly break and need repair, and the only permanent resident is the maintenance manager: Stinky Jake, who has been killed and resurrected twice already. Suggested Party Level: Low

8. The Drain, a massive underground cistern with a lake-like body of water situated under the Garton sewer system. The ceiling is constantly dripping here, meaning over time stalactites and rock pillars have formed in the area. An Aboleth rules the very bottom of the lake, which means nobody has been able to prove whether or not the bottom of the pool has a plug that can be pulled out. However, there are many dangerous water creatures which also make their home here, meaning such a journey would not be for the faint of heart. Suggested Party Level: High

9. The Gas Lines, an area of the Garton sewer system that still contains the toxic gasses dug up in the ancient mining process. Water accumulation from rain sealed off these gasses long before the city was built, and they remain hidden in deep caverns ever since. No flames, no breathing, limited visibility - these tunnels are as difficult to navigate as they are to find. Still, the promise of ancient dwarven treasure untouched by monsters and thieves has lured many adventurers to their deaths. Suggested Party Level: Mid

https://cloister.deviantart.com/art/concept-art-209495594
10. The Depths, the very bottom of the Garton Sewer system. Long ago, these used to be dwarven mines, and they dug too deep, too greedily. They opened the mine right up to the Underdark, and down here the sewer walls turn into natural caverns. Monsters from the depths are more dangerous than anything else near the city, and sometimes they might find their way up to the city streets... Also, don't rule out Demons, since this place still reeks with Abyssal energy. Suggested Party Level: High

11. Hippogriff Cave, located in the Plains of Garton outside the city. Notably, contains a rock that has eroded into the shape of a hippogriff. Local kids play here often, but the rock looks so realistic that cautious parents think it might be a statue, not just a random rock. They don't want their kids uncovering ancient and dangerous ruins, so they forbid the kids from playing there. Of course, that only makes them more curious. Suggested Party Level: Mid

12. The Stinkhole, a small cave dug into the ground not far from the city walls. Farmers don't go near it for fear of being attacked by an Otyugh, but that has lead many other creatures to lair there. As long as they don't mind the stench. Suggested Party Level: Mid

13. Mushroom Grotto, a deep cave near Garton that is used for harvesting mushrooms. The deeper you go, the more dangerous it becomes, until you're fighting off myconids at the very bottom. However, rumors abound of fungi that can cure rare diseases, grant immortality, and more. If you have the guts to brave the very depths of Mushroom Grotto. Suggested Party Level: Mid

14. Yoblin Den, named for the goblin-like creatures that grow there. Actually a species of mushroom, they were named such due to the local accent, and because anthropologists remained unable to convince locals that these weren't garden-variety goblins. They live in a filthy cave near the outskirts of Garton's farming fields, which might contain the seed yoblin at the bottom. Nobody has bothered checking. Suggested Party Level: Low

15. A pond in the low district of Garton has a cave at the bottom of it, yet unnamed but known about by some local children who swam to the bottom to check it out. It was too dark for them to make anything out, but they think they heard footsteps down there. If it's cleared out, you become the heroes of the group of children. Suggested Party Level: Mid

https://www.deviantart.com/art/LoS-Barnabe-s-Tower-181854193
16. The Necromancer's Tower, an ancient tower in Garton Forest surrounded by a long-empty moat. Currently houses the remaining undead of a necromancer who was confronted and killed some time ago. Also, Giant Spiders have been known to take up residence in the lower levels. Strange energies swirl around this area! Suggested Party Level: Mid

17. Full Moon Grove, a clearing with a nearby cave system within the depths of Garton Forest. Home to several Lycanthropes, it becomes a hive of activity leading up to and during the full moon. Many Circle of the Moon Druids are tasked with cleansing this area during the daylight, in hopes that these dangerous and ritualistic festivals will cease. Many have lost their lives doing so. Suggested Party Level: High

18. The Old Walnut Tree, a large tree in Garton Forest. It's a common spot to pray to Obad-Hai, God of Nature, so there are often people and guards around. However, the tree is blessed by Fey magic, and sometimes the little tricksters living in its branches will shrink humans down to minuscule size and bring them in the tree. Inside is a maze of tunnels, rife with creatures that are deadly to tiny folk, but also friendly fairies that speak of a powerful magical fungus deep under the roots of the tree. Suggested Party Level: Mid

19. The Fillard Manor, a home in the Upper District of Garton. It is a fine home, but keeps passing hands from family to family. No resident stays long, and rumors of ghosts and specters haunting its halls have spread throughout the city. If you can clean out its many rooms, it could be yours for a very reasonable price! Suggested Party Level: Mid

20. The Home of Doctor R. R. Ribbenwald, a renowned medical practitioner. At least, he was, until it was discovered that his home in the Middle District of Garton was an elaborately constructed death trap, and his "experiments" had a murderous side to them. Even now, a year after his arrest and execution, his home is a fortress of terrible and deadly traps. The city watch will pay handsomely if someone goes in and disables all the dangers, but nobody who has gone inside has come out yet... Suggested Party Level: High

21. The Vision Library, located in a difficult-to-find corner of the Middle District of Garton. The librarians are blind and the library is kept pitch dark, and the books here are blasphemous, cursed, or worse. Finding dark lore is likely, but finding the exact information you need will require you to face down the masters of the library, who have trained long years to defend these books. Suggested Party Level: Epic

https://slaine69.deviantart.com/art/Haunted-mansion-sepia-177134473
22. The False House, a fancy manor in the Upper District of Garton. Actually sparsely decorated, but a group of Doppelgangers and Mimics keep any occupied rooms furnished. Their goal is to get visitors to come to the basement, where they can be eaten by the biggest mimic - the house itself. They are skilled at playing off of people's need to be formal, and a few rich folk disappear a year to this trap. Suggested Party Level: Mid

23. The Cloven Sword, a small tavern in the Middle District of Garton. Contains a small underground complex beneath it, including passages to the sewers and other buildings. Used by the Cult of Kam but cleared out by C.H.A.O.S, this tavern has been purchased by a private entrepreneur, and might now house a new set of mysterious occupants. Suggested Party Level: Low

24. The Boss's Pub, a sizable establishment in the Upper District of Garton. Known for being avoided by the nobility, this is where Boss Cass sets up shop. A party of heroes would have to prove they are doing something illegal before they could raid the place, however, and even then the series of backrooms and hallways would have to be cleared before Cass himself could be confronted. Suggested Party Level: Mid

25. The Abandoned Toy Factory, a warehouse in the Middle District. Long ago, a Gnomish tinkerer set up a Toy store in Garton, and it did phenomenally well. As time progressed, they expanded to include all varieties of entertainment products, including some of an adult nature. However, this eventually caused backlash and the business was shut down. Now, the building is home to various gangs and urchins without anywhere else to go. Suggested Party Level: Low

 

Using This Material in Your Setting

  • In any area, set up locations your PCs can hear about and try to explore
    • This can lead to "West Marches" style play, where the players tell the DM they want to explore a certain location and they set up the time to do so.
    • Not that I'm hinting at my players to do that
    • Hint hint
  • Are there requirements to entering certain locations? Are they magical, legal, secret, etc?
  • What are the areas surrounding the city like? Are there interesting landmarks there? How can those landmarks be turned into adventures?
  • Where do common monsters in your setting hang out? Where are their safe havens? Can the adventurers explore these areas?
  • How powerful do characters need to be before exploring a particular area? If that level is not too high, why hasn't anyone explored this area already?
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Passive Investment

https://crlpromo.deviantart.com/art/Runebound-Pickpocket-576554789
I call it my "Fixed" income
In my constant struggle to make the D&D system more like reality, I came across this Angry GM article. That's right, it's time for yet another Angry GM update!!

In the article, he defines a Skill Check as something resulting from a Character Action that has a discrete chance of failure and success. If something is impossible to do, or something is so easy it can't be failed, you don't need a skill check to do it. But if a character isn't taking an action, that shouldn't be a skill check either!

The primary place this comes up is for Perception and Knowledge skills. If your character simply sees something or simply knows something, that isn't an action with a discrete chance of failure. Rather, that's a passive ability.

Angry touches on the Knowledge and Perception skills in his article, but I wanted to add to this by creating a passive score for every standard skill/ability score combination. The reason I'm not getting into weirder skill checks is because these skills work in a very limited range if you aren't actively using them.

I also don't want to make a ton of new systems if I don't have to. I'd rather use existing systems and add a cool effect to them. This isn't always possible, but there are plenty of interesting ways for the player to engage with the game world that we can modify.

Finally, let's set some baseline numbers for our passive scores. For reference, a passive score is equal to 10 + the relevant ability score modifier + the character's proficiency bonus, if applicable.
  • 5: To get a 5 on your passive score, you need a 1 in the respective ability, as well as no training in that ability. That's like having the intelligence of a frog.
  • 10: This is the standard commoner score. A totally average person with no training could get this.
  • 15: Most adventurers start with a +3 to their best ability score, and a +2 proficiency bonus. So a 15 is the starting point for those who are trained in a particular skill. Also, those who lack training (not proficient) but have great natural aptitude (as ability score of 20) can achieve a 15.
  • 16: I want to point this one out because the maximum proficiency bonus is +6. Therefore, we can say that a 16 is the best passive score you can achieve if you have the training but not the natural aptitude for a skill.
  • 17: Same as 15, but the starting point for those who have specialized in a skill via the Expertise feature.
  • 21: This represents the pinnacle of most passive scores. Those who have been trained in their skill and combine that training with great natural aptitude can achieve a 21.
  • 27: This is the highest score most mortals can achieve. This is an expert in their field displaying their powerful natural aptitude and intense training. Anything above this score involves breaking the bounds of mortal creatures, via magic or godly power.

So, with that in mind, let's dive into the passive scores a player has at their disposal!

Passive Scores


Acrobatics

Normally, you 1d6 bludgeoning damage per 10 feet you fall.

However, you can fall a distance (in feet) equal to your Passive Acrobatics score without taking damage. However, if you fall further, the resulting damage is still calculated based on the full distance fallen. A character with a passive Acrobatics score of 15 can fall 15 feet without taking damage, but still takes 1d6 damage if they fall 16 feet.

(I wrote about this in greater detail here!)

Animal Handling


https://deligaris.deviantart.com/art/The-Dragon-Tamer-20290125
This is my friend. His name is Toasty.
If your passive Animal Handling score is equal to or greater than the sum of the Intelligence and Wisdom scores of a Beast, you can use an action to calm it and befriend it. This does not change its behavior towards your allies.

This action cannot be attempted on a Beast that is charmed, summoned, hostile towards you, damaged by you, or part of a swarm. A character with a passive Animal Handling score of 15 can calm and befriend a wild Mastiff (INT 3, WIS 12).

Arcana

This is a knowledge skill. You can use it to see what your character knows about a situation based on their past training and experience. The DM assigns a knowledge DC to different pieces of information, and if your passive Arcana score is equal to or greater than that DC, you know the information. Passive Arcana is used to recall lore about magic.
  • 5: This information is directly in front of you. You are currently reading it.
  • 10: This information is obvious. Even common folk have heard of this.
  • 15: This information is something you learned, by training or experience.
  • 20: This information is hard to come by, unless you are a specialist in this field or highly trained.
  • 25: This information is something only a true genius would be able to comprehend. It's likely  that only a handful of mortals know it.
  • 30: This information requires godly intervention to know. If you can recall it, it's likely you have been blessed by the higher powers.

Athletics

When travelling, you can travel up to 8 hours per day without taking a penalty. For each hour travelled beyond 8, the character must make a Constitution Saving Throw of 10 + 1 per hour travelled beyond 8. Failure means the character gains one level of exhaustion.

However, if the DC of this save is less than or equal to your Passive Athletics score, you may automatically pass this check. A character with a passive Athletics score of 15 could travel 13 hours in a day with no ill effects.

Deception

This is a social skill. If you are trying to deceive everyone you meet over a certain period of time, you can use your passive Deception score instead of a skill check. Compare your passive Deception score to each NPC's Charisma score. If it is equal to or greater than the NPC's score, your deception is successful.

A character with a passive Deception score of 15 could convince a town of commoners (CHA 10) they were a noble, but couldn't convince a party full of actual nobles (CHA 16).

History

This is a knowledge skill. You can use it to see what your character knows about a situation based on their past training and experience. The DM assigns a knowledge DC to different pieces of information, and if your passive History score is equal to or greater than that DC, you know the information. Passive History is used to recall lore about humanoids, both in your lifetime and in the past.
  • 5: This information is directly in front of you. You are currently reading it.
  • 10: This information is obvious. Even common folk have heard of this.
  • 15: This information is something you learned, by training or experience.
  • 20: This information is hard to come by, unless you are a specialist in this field or highly trained.
  • 25: This information is something only a true genius would be able to comprehend. It's likely  that only a handful of mortals know it.
  • 30: This information requires godly intervention to know. If you can recall it, it's likely you have been blessed by the higher powers.

Insight


https://techgnotic.deviantart.com/art/Dungeons-and-Dragons-Rules-Compendium-2-274570156
Wait guys! I think this dude might be evil!
This is an observational skill. You can use it to see what your character observes about a situation based on their past training and experience. The DM assigns a DC to different things that could be observed, and if your passive Insight score is equal to or greater than that DC, you observe that thing. Passive Insight is used to observe the mood or goals of an NPC.
  • 5: This information is directly in front of you. Someone is spelling it out for you.
  • 10: This information is obvious. Nearly everyone can tell what it is.
  • 15: This information is apparent to those with a quick eye, but might take most people a minute or two to figure out.
  • 20: This information is subtle. If you don't know what you're looking for, you'd never see it.
  • 25: This information is obscured. It would require extensive training and practice before you would be able to see it.
  • 30: This information requires godly intervention to know. If you can see it, it's likely you have been blessed by the higher powers.

Intimidation

This is a social skill. If you are trying to intimidate everyone you meet over a certain period of time, you can use your passive Intimidation score instead of a skill check. Compare your passive Intimidation score to each NPC's Charisma score. If it is equal to or greater than the NPC's score, your intimidation is successful.

A character with a passive Intimidation score of 15 could make a town of commoners (CHA 10) stay out of their way, but couldn't stop a network of spies (CHA 16) from approaching them.

Investigation

This is an observational skill. You can use it to see what your character observes about a situation based on their past training and experience. The DM assigns a DC to different things that could be observed, and if your passive Investigation score is equal to or greater than that DC, you observe that thing. Passive Investigation is used to observe the function of purpose of objects.
  • 5: This information is directly in front of you. Someone is spelling it out for you.
  • 10: This information is obvious. Nearly everyone can tell what it is.
  • 15: This information is apparent to those with a quick eye, but might take most people a minute or two to figure out.
  • 20: This information is subtle. If you don't know what you're looking for, you'd never see it.
  • 25: This information is obscured. It would require extensive training and practice before you would be able to see it.
  • 30: This information requires godly intervention to know. If you can see it, it's likely you have been blessed by the higher powers.

Medicine

In combat, stabilizing a creature requires a Wisdom (Medicine) check of 10.

Out of combat, you may use your action to stabilize a creature. If your passive Medicine score is 10 or greater, you automatically succeed on your stabilization attempt. Additionally, the creature regains hit points equal to your passive Medicine score - 10. A character with a passive Medicine score of 15 can stabilize a creature and cause them to regain 5 hit points, as long as they are outside of combat.

Nature

This is a knowledge skill. You can use it to see what your character knows about a situation based on their past training and experience. The DM assigns a knowledge DC to different pieces of information, and if your passive Nature score is equal to or greater than that DC, you know the information. Passive Nature is used to recall lore about plants and animals that inhabit the world.
  • 5: This information is directly in front of you. You are currently reading it.
  • 10: This information is obvious. Even common folk have heard of this.
  • 15: This information is something you learned, by training or experience.
  • 20: This information is hard to come by, unless you are a specialist in this field or highly trained.
  • 25: This information is something only a true genius would be able to comprehend. It's likely  that only a handful of mortals know it.
  • 30: This information requires godly intervention to know. If you can recall it, it's likely you have been blessed by the higher powers.

Perception

This is an observational skill. You can use it to see what your character observes about a situation based on their past training and experience. The DM assigns a DC to different things that could be observed, and if your passive Perception score is equal to or greater than that DC, you observe that thing. Passive Perception is used to observe your surroundings.
  • 5: This information is directly in front of you. Someone is spelling it out for you.
  • 10: This information is obvious. Nearly everyone can tell what it is.
  • 15: This information is apparent to those with a quick eye, but might take most people a minute or two to figure out.
  • 20: This information is subtle. If you don't know what you're looking for, you'd never see it.
  • 25: This information is obscured. It would require extensive training and practice before you would be able to see it.
  • 30: This information requires godly intervention to know. If you can see it, it's likely you have been blessed by the higher powers.

Performance


https://a1z2e3r.deviantart.com/art/medieval-musician-of-french-bagpipe-613176025
It's well known that 95% of Bards choose the worst instrument
If you spend a day performing (and not adventuring), you earn an amount of copper equal to your passive Performance score, multiplied by the settlement size modifier below. If you wish to earn more than that, you must find a venue and put on a full performance, which requires a skill check.

A character with a passive Performance score of 15 could earn 150 (15 x 10) copper in a big city, netting them a modest lifestyle.

Persuasion

This is a social skill. If you are trying to persuade everyone you meet over a certain period of time, you can use your passive Persuasion score instead of a skill check. Compare your passive Persuasion score to each NPC's Charisma score. If it is equal to or greater than the NPC's score, your persuasion is successful.

A character with a passive Persuasion score of 15 could convince a town of commoners (CHA 10) to give them directions around town to avoid getting lost, but couldn't convince a those in the noble district of a city (CHA 16) to do the same.

Religion

This is a knowledge skill. You can use it to see what your character knows about a situation based on their past training and experience. The DM assigns a knowledge DC to different pieces of information, and if your passive Religion score is equal to or greater than that DC, you know the information. Passive Religion is used to recall lore about the Gods and their doctrines.
  • 5: This information is directly in front of you. You are currently reading it.
  • 10: This information is obvious. Even common folk have heard of this.
  • 15: This information is something you learned, by training or experience.
  • 20: This information is hard to come by, unless you are a specialist in this field or highly trained.
  • 25: This information is something only a true genius would be able to comprehend. It's likely  that only a handful of mortals know it.
  • 30: This information requires godly intervention to know. If you can recall it, it's likely you have been blessed by the higher powers.

Sleight of Hand

If you spend a day grifting (and not adventuring), you earn an amount of copper equal to your passive Sleight of Hand score, multiplied by the settlement size modifier below. If you wish to earn more than that, you must plan and pull off a heist, which requires a skill check.

A character with a passive Sleight of Hand score of 15 could earn 150 (15 x 10) copper in a big city, netting them a modest lifestyle.

Stealth

If your passive Stealth score is greater than or equal to an NPC's passive Perceptions core, you can choose whether or not they see you. This ability is negated if the creature is actively guarding an area or looking for you, if the creature has blindsight, or if you are in combat. In those situations, a skill check is required. Also, the rules for hiding still apply: if you attack or cast a spell, you are seen, etc.

A character with a passive Stealth of 15 can slip through a tavern without being noticed, except by the Spy (passive Perception 16) who is sitting in the corner.

Survival


https://dnd-rp.deviantart.com/art/DnD-5e-Kirby-708788336
Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.
In certain environments, you can find food and water indefinitely if your passive Survival score is greater than or equal to the environment's DC. This DC can be increased or decreased by weather (a dry spell makes food scarcer). This does not allow you to find enough food for the entire party.
  • 5: Coastal or urban areas
  • 10: Forests or hilly regions
  • 15: Grasslands, swamps, open sea, and underwater
  • 20: Arctic tundras, mountains, or the underdark
  • 25: Deserts, the more hospitable Outer Planes of the Multiverse
  • 30: The Elemental Planes, the less hospitable Outer Planes of the Multiverse

A character with a passive Survival score of 15 could live in a Swamp indefinitely.

Thanks for reading!