• posted a message on Waterdeep: Dragon Heist’s Darkest Choice
    Quote from TimCurtin >>

    My players solved the trolley problem by running over the trolley. 

    To begin with, it doesn’t sit right with me that the Cassalanters were ever able to strike this bargain. You can put your own butt on the line in a contract to benefit your children (as with co-signing a lease), but you can’t unilaterally put their butt on the line to benefit you.  That kind of thing may fly with some Chaotic Skeevy fey like Rumplestiltskin, but not with a legitimate businessman like Asmodeus, imo.  So, while I appreciate the film noir thing the writers were going for and was planning to end with the “Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown” vibe of the alternative presented here, I was willing to meet my players at least halfway if they came up with a plausible solution to the problem as written (which I couldn’t do).

    Here’s what they came up with (bear in mind, we used to play a lot of Shadowrun, so they like an overly complicated scheme now and then):  The vengeance paladin and the arcane trickster got jobs as an upstairs maid and a groom at the Cassalanter villa, after paying 50 gold each to the Xanathar Guild to create new cover identities for themselves (which I thought showed impressive foresight).  This gave them the opportunity to run around scouting the place.  The wizard used the ritual found in Ammalia’s study to ask the fiend why a family of bankers with everything to lose would insert themselves into the middle of a gunfight between the Zhentarim and the Xanathar.  The story as written says the ritual has the same effect as a commune spell, but I decided to be a bit more forthcoming, since, short of flat-out asking the Cassalanters, there doesn’t seem to be any way of finding out about the moral dilemma in the first place.  That got them the details of the arrangement.  

    They went back and forth on possible solutions, as expected, but ultimately, they let the Cassalanters rob the vault.  Then they swapped the vials of poison in the desk for a harmless substitute which was fed to the poor people at the feast and arranged for the chefs to unwittingly put the real poison in the cultists’ food instead.  I took the liberty of massaging the size of the cult from about 45 to 100+ (which made sense to me, moving 1,000 20 lb. sacks of gold from C29 to A7 would take a long time).  I was also willing to say that all the guests at the feast were cultists, rather than nice people duped into attending a mass murder, as the book suggests.  That also made sense to me.  The Cassalanters need to make the event disappear for their own sake and you can’t blackmail people with their presence at an event that never happened.

    Anyway, the cult poisoned 100 people.  Victoro dumped the gold in the bowl.  Everything went according to the cult’s plan, just the wrong people died.  The scoreboard at the end read:  1) Letter of the contract fulfilled.  Kids completely in the clear. 2) Poor people get a fun show to go with their nice dinner, then go home safe and sound. 3) Enough actually important people die that the Cassalanters can’t cover it up and all their dirty laundry comes out (especially since all of their emergency money somehow disappeared from the villa in the confusion). 4). The whole cult is wiped out and decades of Asmodeus’s work in Waterdeep is undone by his own agents.  5). The characters false IDs were burned and no one the wiser.

    It was all nicely heist-movie-ish and I honestly can’t think of a better result for the party, even if I did fudge things a little.   The players forwent the gold jackpot for a more modest payday of the silver bars and the golden table service, but I’ll certainly find a way to make that up to them.  This is an insanely long post, so I’ll spare you all the details, but it was a blast.  We all had that Oasis song from the end of Snatch playing in our heads during the Founders Day session.

     Bravo! What an amazing way to untie this Gordian knot. Kudos to you and your players!

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  • posted a message on How to Play a Beholder like a Paranoid Mastermind
    Quote from mastercryomancer >>

    I know this article was posted a long time ago, buuut...

    Final verdict: Use this ray early and often against barbarians, fighters, monks, rangers, paladins, and rogues, but don’t bother against anyone else.

    I'm taking this next part from the Beholder stat block (emphasis mine):

    Eye Rays. The beholder shoots three of the following eye rays at random(reroll duplicates)

    As such, I'm confused as to how I'm able to 'choose' what rays to fire.

     Under "Eye Rays," I said: "If you want to play a beholder like a true mastermind, choose three unique eye rays and their targets instead of rolling randomly."

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  • posted a message on Strahd Must Die Tonight! How to Play Ravenloft in a Single Night
    Quote from LordGoodkat >>

    We did it. They knew 0 about Strahd or Ravenloft so they fumbled quite a bit. Combine that with getting unlucky on the special item locations and you can see how it didn't fair well. They found Strahd but lost on the last hour because they simply hadn't gained enough power before facing him. Despite losing they all had a blast and want to do it again soon. I figured by allowing them to use their prior knowledge and randomizing the level-up milestones and item/people locations, it will make a nice repeatable event.

     Yes! Just like a The Binding of Isaac or other roguelikes, dying and starting over again from scratch is a huge part of the fun.

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  • posted a message on Heroes of the Vale Recap: Episode 1
    Quote from Nygard >>

    I hope so.  The didn’t do an Ep 43 CR recap.

    This week's recap was delayed due to travel from PAX Unplugged. It will be posted Thursday afternoon, before Episode 44 airs. I'm glad to hear you're enjoying our recaps!

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  • posted a message on Sorcerer 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Innate Magic
    Quote from Jayne_of_Canton >>
    Quote from Llaine >>
    Quote from Jayne_of_Canton >>
    Quote from Llaine >>
    Quote from Jayne_of_Canton >>

    Nat- appreciated your comments. However I also agree with Tombs that it can be really jarring when "They" is used as a non-binary gender substitute considering it has been used as indicative of a plural since the 16th century. Seems the more prudent thing to do if you want to not specify a gender is use one of the accepted newer non-binary substitutes that are new additions to the language. Seems more reasonable than trying to wholesale change the usage of a word that has been defined for almost half a millennium. 

     "They" is also used anytime the gender is unspecified. And since he or she prefers to be called they, then they can be referred to as such without "wholesale changing a word that has been defined for almost half a millennium."

    It may not have been as clear as saying he or she, but it still made sense and was no more confusing than using "you" in the plural.

     The usage of "They" for a single person gender anonymous designation is a very recent development in the English language. Your statement of "is also used anytime the gender is unspecified" seems to purport that this has been long standing which is just frankly not true.

    "You" as a plural is only correct when given with a plural adjective or descriptor along with it such as "you fools" or "you ladies".

    I really wish people would just use the newly given non-gender specific pronouns rather than amalgamating existing language. It's my only pet peeve when I listen to Critical Role as Mercer uses "They" for gender anonymity all the time but also as a plural all the time and it gets very confusing. 1st world problems though in the grand scheme of things lol.

     According to Merriam Webster on the subject:

    "We will note that they has been in consistent use as a singular pronoun since the late 1300s; that the development of singular they mirrors the development of the singular you from the plural you, yet we don’t complain that singular you is ungrammatical; and that regardless of what detractors say, nearly everyone uses the singular they in casual conversation and often in formal writing."

     Fair point- my apologies as I should have been more clear. It's been in use off and on for a long time but considered to be in error by most prominent grammar and style guides up until very recently. In 2015 it gained some acceptance when it was voted word of the year and The Post style guide accepted it but many style guides including the prominent Chicago Manual of Style and literary authorities still consider it in error. It personally just grates on my ear.

    The most current edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, which is used by the D&D team, permits the singular, gender-neutral they. "A writer (or speaker) may also use they to refer to a specific, known person who does not identify with a gender-specific pronoun such as he or she. [...] Chicago accepts it even in formal writing."

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  • posted a message on Welcome to Skullport: An Introduction to Undermountain’s Only Safe Harbor
    Quote from GM_Rondor >>

    Is it that the Dragon Heist description of Skullport you mention is only in the physical version. I have the Fantasy Grounds version and it is not there. Unless I am blind. (entirely possible)

    Skullport isn't described at all in Dragon Heist. It's only in Mad Mage.

    Posted in: Posts
  • posted a message on Welcome to Skullport: An Introduction to Undermountain’s Only Safe Harbor
    Quote from zhentghetto >>

    What happened to the House of Pain on the uppermost level (from 3e's Waterdeep, City of Splendors)?

     The whole upper level structure collapsed during the Spellplague; I suspect the House of Pain went with it.

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  • posted a message on Sorcerer 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Innate Magic
    Quote from 00hcicero >>

    I notice that none of the UA sorcerer content is in the article - I was really hoping to see how Phoenix and Giant Soul bloodline would be handled in this sort of an article! 

     Yup. Since this is a 101 class guide, it doesn't make sense to include playtest content that may or may not become part of the core game.

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  • posted a message on How to Play a Manticore Like A Cunning Beast
    Quote from MacEochaid >>

    D&D did not invent the projectile spines.  Pausanius describes the tail spines as being able to be fired like arrows in his 2nd Century text "Description of Greece." It is also interesting that the Manticore is given bat wings, since this seems very DnD only. However fact checking myself via Wikipedia I see that this probably comes from Geryon in Dante's Inferno being manticore like, but with bat wings. I assume that DnD's popularity spread the bat winged manticore of Dante replacing the more traditional non bat winged version.

    Wow, fantastic! This is a splendid addition, thank you.

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  • posted a message on Sorcerer 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Innate Magic
    Quote from MagicianEdition >>

    Sorcerers cant learn Animate Dead. I tried.

     Divine Soul sorcerers, who can learn spells from the sorcerer and cleric spell lists, can.

    Posted in: Posts
  • posted a message on Sorcerer 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Innate Magic
    Quote from Kamizite >>

    is there like a single place for all the 101 articles. i have some friends who are learning 5th and i think this would help them.

     Yharim (above) is right. Here's a link, just in case: https://www.dndbeyond.com/tag/class-guides

    Posted in: Posts
  • posted a message on Sorcerer 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Innate Magic
    Quote from oxLewisxo >>

    So can quickened spell be use to cast the same spell twice in  a turn like twinned spell of you want to focus on attacking just a single enemy?

    Unfortunately, no. From Player's Handbook, Chapter 10: Spellcasting, under "Casting Time":

    Bonus Action

    A spell cast with a bonus action is especially swift. You must use a bonus action on your turn to cast the spell, provided that you haven't already taken a bonus action this turn. You can't cast another spell during the same turn, except for a cantrip with a casting time of 1 action.

    Posted in: Posts
  • posted a message on Sorcerer 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Innate Magic
    Quote from RAJdeBoer >>

    Is Ice Knife eligible for twinned spell? I always thought that it could only be used for spells that only have the ability to target a single creature in their entirety, blocking out spells that has the potential to chain (like chaos bolt) or splash damage on impact (like ice knife)

    This is a good question! This is a spell that can definitely be interpreted table by table, since its initial effect only targets one creature, and then it causes an additional area-of-effect afterward. I would allow spells like ice knife and chaos bolt to be twinned at my table, but a strict reading of the rules probably forbids it. Jeremy Crawford hasn't addressed these spells directly, but his logic extends to these spells as well.

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  • posted a message on What the Heck is a Megadungeon?
    Quote from Nostalgick >>

    I don't think this would make the concept of a megadungeon much more compelling for my new players. Is role-playing with random groups of wandering monsters for 23 levels really any more fun or rewarding than hack n' slashing your way through them? It's certainly faster, which saves valuable play time. But I'm not realistically going to give the party a chance to persuade or intimidate their way out of every encounter either. I haven't run an adventure like Dungeon of the Mad Mage before, and I like the concept from a DM perspective. But Dragon Heist just seems way more engaging and inviting for story-focused players. So the challenge for me after finishing Dragon Heist will be to find or come up with material to continue the campaign that isn't such a radical departure from everything the players did during levels 1-5. Clearly, the books themselves treat the adventures as different styles of play, because Dragon Heist provides milestones for each point of the story, and Dungeon of the Mad Mage heavily depends on the party getting enough XP each level so they can safely advance to the next.

     Mad Mage is definitely a different paradigm. It requires a more DIY attitude to roleplay with the creatures down here than more straightforwardly written NPCs in adventures like Dragon Heist. I'd give it a try, though! You might find that you really like throwing together random NPCs on the fly, or you might enjoy using Undermountain less as an adventure book per se and more as a setting book that you can layer your own adventures on top of.

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  • posted a message on Strahd Must Die Tonight! How to Play Ravenloft in a Single Night
    Quote from LordGoodkat >>

    I'm running this as an 8 hour game soon. My biggest modification is that I am starting the characters at lower than suggested level and allowing them to level up as they reach milestones. This creates a risk/reward environment so they can choose to either wait and gain power to make the fight easier, or fight him earlier and not risk running out of time. At the end of the 8th hour, Strahd gains immeasurable power and kills them all instantly, even if they are in the middle of combat with him.

     Sounds like an awesome marathon game! Report back if things go well, I can't wait to hear about it.

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