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Angry Blind Readthrough: Xanathar's Guide to Everything.

 
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CapnTthePirateG
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:46 am    Post subject: Angry Blind Readthrough: Xanathar's Guide to Everything. Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So I made a terrible mistake a few months back and joined Adventurer's League because, well, I didn't have anyone else to play with. After a few notable sessions (including one module that was so bad the DM literally apologized for having to run it) I was out, but not before preordering this book in an attempt to pay2win my character to glory, or at least some way of doing combat that wasn't a boring fucking slog.

What is this book?

This book is notable for being the first and only player splatbook released since...2014? Holy shit, it's taken them 3 years to put out an actual powerup book for players? What the hell were they doing all - oh.

You see, this book doesn't have "new content" so much as it is Mike Mearls' lunch break articles refurbished. The title is based off some beholder crime lord from Forgotten Realms you don't care about because its a crappy throwback. That said, let's dive in and see what we have! I'm not as familiar with Mearl's lunch break articles, so everything in this book is going to stand on its own merits.

I'm not optimistic.

Chapter 1: Character Options

Holy subclasses, Batman! Looks like there are about 30 new subclasses here, and right away we see the problem that a bunch of them are stupid overlap subclasses. Did we really need a religious barbarian in a game where the paladin exists and you can multiclass the two? The flavored soul makes a return in a game where all casters are basically 3e spontaneous classes. Fuck! There's also a bunch of random tables for personal characteristics. I have never seen anyone use these things, because usually if you're making up an imaginary elf you have the imagination to come up with these things on your own, but what do I know?

But because I don't hate myself enough, I'm gonna go through all these subclasses and give you all the lowdown. You're welcome.

Barbarian

Path of the Ancestral Guardian: This class is supposedly about calling your ancestor spirits to help you out in combat. The third level feature grants people you hit while raging disadvantage to attack and if they hit someone they deal half damage - unless they attack you. I get the mechanical function, but I'm not sure why specifically your ancestors fuck off when you personally get hit. Other features include...a random amount of DR granted as a reaction to OTHER PEOPLE, and free augury or clairvoyance. 10th level lets you use your shield to do a miniscule amount of reaction damage. This subclass makes no fucking sense! The spirits will seriously intervene to protect your enemies before they will aid you, their descendant/buddy/thing. This is dumb!

Path of the Storm Herald: When you get angry you shoot lightning bolts and shit everywhere. You pick a terrain type and get a stack of benefits, for example, desert gives an autodamage aura, fire resistance, and reaction damage equal to your barbarian level (fire of course). Nothing really stands out as super great except possibly the sea's 14th level ability to trip people on on attacking, but you are a god damn barbarian with reckless attack anyway. These effects also all require saves that scale off constitution and do piddly shit damage, so enjoy tracking that!

Path of the Zealot: It is a tried and true method of creating D&D content - if you add religion to any other class you can come up with a variation. You're not just a fire mage, you're a JESUS fire mage! Isn't that original?

Anyway, this path gives you an extra 1d6+half barbarian level damage on the first attack each round, free resurrections (seriously, if someone casts a res spell on you it doesn't cost any money), 1 saving throw reroll per rage, and the awe-inspiring abiity to hand out advantage on your attacks/saves for 1 round 1/day. Admittedly that can lead to some fairly powerful nova strikes and might be a reason to bring one of these guys along. Unfortunately it's capped at 10 guys so you can't empower a skeleton army, but I don't actually completely despise it.

Bard
So before I look at this section, I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that none of these classes are in any way on par with the Lore Bard and his skeleton army.

College of Glamour: Fey bard. You are extremely sexy in an RP sense. 3rd level ability lets you burn bardic inspiration to give a few temp hit points and a free move to Cha mod creatures, which considering that the movement doesn't draw opportunity attacks is a decent reset button if you get ambushed or something. If you rap for a minute you can charm Cha mod dudes for an hour until they take damage. 6th level you go into a super beautiful mode where you can cast command 1/turn for free as a bonus action (and charmed targets get no save) which is fairly decent for crowd control, but is only 1/day. 14th level gives you a super mode where people have to make saves before stabbing you and if they stab you get disadvantage on saves against you (1 per short or long rest). This doesn't seem terrible, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it over lore bard. I don't think it's a waste of a team slot though.

College of Swords: Another fighty bard. You get fighting styles, and are a god damn moron because you traded an army of skeletons for piddly shit bonus attack damage and an extra attack. Just don't do it.

College of Whispers: You are a SPOOKY SPY BARD! You can talk to people and make them feel SPOOKY while also burning bardic inspiration to do extra psychic damage by stabbing people. At 14th level you can magically blackmail people to do things for you, but they won't fight for you or anything because that might not suck. Also as a bard I'm pretty sure dominate person is on your spell list, so what the fuck are you doing with your life? You traded a legion of skeletons that break bounded accuracy for this? Go sit in the god damn moron corner. Also you get a disguise ability that only works on people you killed...only works for an hour...and is granted to a class that has disguise self on its skill list. You can do all this shit with a bluff check and your spell list. Fuck right off.

Cleric

New cleric domains!

Forge: I get gods of smithing are pretty popular in mythology, but do people play Hephaestus clerics? Bitching aside, you might expect this domain to give you divine power to make sweet-ass magic weapons and shit. This being written by Mike Mearls, a man completely terrified of giving D&D players useful or interesting abilities, you would be completely wrong. You do get animate objects as a domain spell, and the ability to summon random nonmagical equipment out of thin air, but the rest of your abilities center around wearing heavy armor, resisting fire, and being tanky. Skyrim lets you make magic weapons, why can't "the world's greatest roleplaying game?" The closest you get is basically being able to grant a +1 bonus to an armor or weapon for a day. That's it. There are opera characters who are better at smithing than you. Opera characters. Just...stop.

Grave: This is one of those undead-hunting death god things that seem extremely popular with designers but in my experience are eschewed by PC death cultist necromancers instead. For hilarity it lists Anubis as granting the Grave domain...when he also grants the Death domain that turns you into a necromancer. You can sense undead, negate critical hits on your party members, deal more damage with cantrips, and give people vulnerability on attacks. You get to auto-maximize healing spells on people who are at 0 hp. If you really must be a healbot cleric the life cleric exists, and there's a better death domain in the DMG. Skip it.

Also the cleric only gets 2 domains. I don't know why.

Druid:

Circle of Dreams: You are a fey druid, which should not in any way be confused with the fey paladin, fey bard, or fey warlock. At least the druid is a nature-themed class that might actually hang out with faerie pals. You get...more healing, an magic sphere that buffs rest areas, Wis/mod 60 foot teleports per day, and a weird-ass feature that lets you use divinations or teleport to the place you last long rested at 1/day. The bonus action teleport is kinda good, everything else sucks.

Circle of the Shephard: You commune with the spirits of nature, unlike all the other druids who...worship nature? I'm confused. Anyway this seems to be the summoning focused druid. You can buff summons hp in a game filled with monster HP bloat, you can grant AoE buffs that heal dudes better, fuck with your reaction for attack bonuses, or hand out small amounts of temp hp. Higher levels let you summon when KO'd and heal summons in your buff area. Summons are disposable anyway. If this gave a sweet attack or damage boost like the necromancer's skeletons I might consider this, but as I recall the best use of druid summons is to get a bunch of polymorph spamming pixies.

The druid also gets only 2 subclasses, but you get a 2 page table of what creatures live where so you can argue with your DM over what creatures you're allowed to transform into.

Fighter:

Oh god, really?

Arcane Archer: Fucking really? We need to make ANOTHER fighter-mage class to support being a fighter-mage with a bow? We have hexblade warlocks, bladesingers, eldritch knight, and multiclassing! Why is this difficult?

Anyway, this is like the battle master fighter from the PHB but they get their own subsystem of special moves based on archery instead. Why we can't just add new moves to the battle master is beyond me. Anyway, these all scale off your intelligence mod for saves, and you are an archer so you need Dexterity. Every single arrow move grants a save except force arrow which is just tacking on a crappy 10-foot aoe to your arrow shot. The Banishing Arrow might be useful as it's a Cha save remove people from combat for a round, the blinding arrow is vaguely useful, but this really isn't worth giving up battlemaster manuevers or EK buffs. None of the effects last longer than "the end of [the target's] next turn" so you could just be a wizard who carries a bow and curses people. Seriously, just do that instead.

Cavalier: You get a pretty neat ability that lets you stop people from moving within 5 feet of your reach if you hit them and they provoke AoOs for doing so. As I remember this is a feat in 5e. 18th level you get an extra AoO, and you get the fighter mark from 4e at 3rd. It's kind of amazing, this is supposed to be a horseman class but you really want to play it as halberd infantry. Even then, you can just be a battle master with feats that let you mimic hold the line, you don't NEED the fighter mark mechanic because you have a reach weapon that lets you trip people/stop movement and do a fair amount of damage, and the extra AoO comes online at the same time the casters are abusing shapechange. Be a battle master instead.

Samurai: At third level you can arbitrarily give yourself advantage on attack rolls AND temp HP 3/day. This almost looks like the ticket to using 5e's not power attack feats to try to end combats before 3 hours, until you remember the battle master fighter can just do this more often and gets more tricks too. You get a mental saving throw proficiency, and the ability to trade advantage for an extra attack at 15th level (you do not care about this) and an extra turn on hitting 0 hp (or you could have gotten an ability that made you always better at fighting and less likely to die). Be a battle master, say your arts are secret samurai martial arts, and boom.

Monk

Drunken Master: Clearly you had a lot of booze in your system when you decided to be a monk in 5e, why stop there? I don't even know why you would take this. You can spend ki points to redirect attacks that miss you...in melee...and they can't hit the original target. You can get up from prone by spending less movement (yay?) and your 17th level feature is to get three more flurry attacks which might almost make people care about you if you didn't have to target different critters with them. Too little, too late.

Kensei: Pick 2 weapons (1 melee, 1 ranged) spend ki points for small bonuses with these weapons. Of note is that you can spend ki points to get a +3 enhancement bonus on a weapon for a minute. You're still a monk, don't do it.

Way of the Sun Soul: You shoot lasers that are different than the lasers shot by crappy elemental monks. You can shoot a laser that deals damage equal to your martial arts die, cast burning hands, and..fuck it. It's just a bunch of underpowered radiant damage abilities. Just don't do it.

Paladin

Two new paladin oaths. Paladins are actually pretty good in this edition, so maybe I won't be clawing my eyes out and asking Cthulhu for death?

Oath of Conquest: You swear to conquer people SO HARD they cry. You get domination spells as your special spells which makes sense and is actually kinda cool (though they scale off a secondary stat so have fun). You get +10 to an attack as your channel divinity which is probably going to power Great Weapon Master with a smite. Alternatively you can frighten dudes in an AoE and get bonuses against them. I'd play one.

Oath of Redemption: You talk to bad dudes about Jesus to make them not be bad anymore. You are a holy warrior who is sworn to peace, pissing off 99.9% of your parties who just want to murder the bad dudes and steal their stuff. You're a sucker who takes damage for other people as well, but you get disabling enchantments and wall of force on your spell list. Unfortunately I'm pretty sure this gets into the usual vow of peace bullshit, meaning that either you piss your party off or you fall and become a necromancer.

Ranger:

This is a class that sucks and is widely known for sucking. Can we save it?

Gloom Stalker: Shit, you get greater invisibility as a warrior. That's gotta be worth something, right? You also get a weird ambush mechanic where you get a bonus on initiative rolls equal to Wis mod and get an extra attack on the first turn of combat that deals an extra 1d8 damage. You also get darkvision and invisibility to darkvision (this will never come up if your party has anyone without darkvision, but could be situationally useful), amd at 15th level can impose disadvantage on anyone who attacks you. You also get to take another attack 1/turn when you miss. It's cute but not good.

Horizon Walker: You get the hunter's mark from 4e, but you also get the weird spell equivalent, and I think they stack? So you can do it twice if you get it all set up? Also some teleportation spells and haste. Weirdly you get Banishment and that shit is a Cha save, so you might actually be acceptable in polite company, but your damage is weird and fiddly. I guess you could run around as a hasted dude marking guys with your bonus force damage, but you're still an autoattack martial in padded sumo land.

Monster Slayer: Another not-Hunters Mark ability that coexists with the spell. You get banishment again and defensive bonuses against your target as well as 1/short rest counterspelling forcing a caster to make a wisdom save against your secondary stat. Your high-level ability is getting a free attack against your target if it makes you make a save - and if you hit your save succeeds. That's actually a very good ability, but I don't know that it's worth taking 14 levels of ranger.

Rogue

Inquisitive: As a bonus action you can make an insight check against a target and sneak attack them regardless of condition for a minute. I was about to sing this ability's praises, but then I looked it up and all you need for sneak attack is for one of your party members to be standing next to the enemy. If no one in your party is a melee combatant or summoner grab this, otherwise pass unless you really need to see through illusions or shapechangers. At 17th level you get an extra 3d6 sneak damage for all intents and purposes, but good luck getting a game to go that long.

Mastermind: Trade being an assassin or something for social bonuses, a worse redirection ability than the much, and immunity to truth magic (at 17th level). Don't do it unless you're in a really social campaign, and even then you can probably do anything this class does by being an assassin and arguing with the DM over your skill outputs. Waste of time.

Swashbuckler: For some reason game developers have an unholy terror of just giving these guys bullshit bonuses that let them fight as though they had heavy armor weapons. They note that this is the archetype of duelists and pirates, but don't point out that duelists and pirates generally flourish in environments not conducive to heavy armor nor do they make an attempt to address this problem. The 3rd level feature gives them the ability to make an attack that prevents attacks of opportunity for the turn. This is supposed to let you run in and run out, but you don't actually have the movement speed to stop an enemy fighter from moving up to you and hitting you with his greatsword. You do arbitrarily get to sneak attack a creature you're fighting by yourself, but you don't get any useful defensive abilities to prevent your ass from being splattered all over the ground.

Sorcerer

Someone please stop me.

Divine Soul: it's the fucking 3.5 flavored soul. You...get to raid the cleric spell list along with the sorcerer one. You can now be a sorcerer with animate dead and blow the ever living fuck out of bounded accuracy. You get some wings, healing on KO, and the ability to spend sorcery points to power up healing spells (blech) but really you're taking this because you want cleric spells as a sorcerer. Beats the shit out of being an asshole with a random chance to fireball their own party.

Shadow Magic: We have the warlock and the necromancer, do we really need another dark caster? You get some death resistance features (seriously, half the subclasses get features that trigger upon you going down. It's like they expect you to suck), a summonable dire wolf that eats sorcery points, a teleport in darkness even though I'm pretty sure sorcerers get teleportation spells, and a ghostform at 18th level. Oh, and you can cast darkness you can see through which apparently really excites people on the internet. Note that there's nothing like, say, empowering your spells with necrotic damage or anything that would make a shadow fireball different than a normal one.

Storm Sorcery: you get permanent flight at 18th level, which for this edition is amazing. You get some minor weather control abilities. When you cast lightning/thunder spells, people take half your sorcerer level in damage. This has worse nuking class features than the friggin thunder cleric, it's hilarious. However, you can levitate 10 feet for the low cost of 1 bonus action a turn and be immune to melee forever. This owns.

Warlock

Celestial: Fucking seriously? We have a class that makes pacts with gods for power and it's called the cleric. They even give this stupid warlock cure wounds to rub it in. Yeah, it's a warlock with healing abilities that is totally different than the light cleric. Just because you can hack one class to work like another does not make it a good idea. Now the idea of an angel summoner isn't a terrible one, but this is just a phoned-in tacking on healing crap WITH a bonus "stand up when knocked out" feature. Again. Fuck you.

Hexblade: You made a pact with a magic weapon instead of a thing, and this is TOTALLY DIFFERENT than the blade pact warlock because we are original and creative. You get some paladin smites, a weird curse where you curse one dude to get extra damage, deal crits on a roll of 19, and if you kill him you heal warlock level+Cha. You can't transfer this and it's usable once per short rest. You get medium armor, shields, martial weapons, and you can use Cha instead of Str or Dex for attack rolls. Is this...is this actually a SAD warrior/mage? Holy shit! Also you can stab dudes so hard they rise as specters in your service, which gets +Cha to hit and +.5 warlock level temp HP (sadly only 1 ghost a day). At 7th level people cursed by you have a 50% chance to miss with attacks if you burn a reaction and at 14th level you can transfer your curse but lose the healing. I'd probably rate it the highest of the warrior mages because of SAD and being a full caster.

Also there are some new warlock invocations. Eldritch Smite lets you burn warlock spell slots when you stab dudes with a pact weapon for extra damage and looks like you can combo it with paladin smites to do a bunch of burst damage. There's a few that let you deal an extra +cha to a cursed target as a bonus action or teleport to the cursed target, but overall kind of lame.

Wizard

War Wizard: What if, instead of being a baller who could force people to auto-fail saving throws or lead a legion of skeletons that out-dps'd anything in the game, you wanted to have some fiddly, shitty defensive abilities and a minor amount of extra force damage on your spells? This is the class for you! Enjoy the dunce cap you useless sack of shit!

That's the last of the subclasses. The book proceeds to dump an entire THIRTEEN pages of tables for shit like "parental abuse suffered as a child" and "favorite rap artist". This is in addition to the two pages of background shit for each class. They literally had 3 years to come up with a player options book and have to resort to padding. This is not a good sign.

Now we get feats. Except instead of giving us general feats anyone could take, these are racial feats. I don't know why developers love them so much, no one ever takes these unless they're powergaming. I have never seen anyone want to burn feat slots to be more elfy, but they will burn feat slots to take an elf-only feat for damage boosts. Again, it's the same old tired shit - drow spell-like abilities, elves get the eladrin teleportation, halflings get rerolls, gnomes get to turn invisible...wait a minute...4e racial feats? What the fuck are you doing here? Get the hell out! No one liked you! Go die in a fire!

Chapter 2 is "Dungeon Master's Tools". I'm stopping here before the bottle of Drano in my kitchen looks super attractive.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Bladesingers not in there?
It is nice of them to let fighters use magic, is there a ninjutsu rogue in any of the books
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Grek
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I have no idea what Capn has against 5e Monks. Stunning Strike got a big buff in 5e: It's is declared after hitting and lasts until the end of your next turn. Each one costs a single ki point, and you get between 5 and 20 of them per encounter. Juggletastic.

While obviously Shadow Monk is the best monk archtype, Drunken Master isn't terrible once you take into account Drunken Technique. You do Flurry of Blows (and get your free Disengage), and then you run around the battlefield making three (later four, then seven) shove attacks and/or stunning strikes. Because you're a monk, and therefore are supposed to be stunlocking things, not killing them with 1d4 damage per unarmed attack.
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Lago PARANOIA
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Stunning Strike keys off of Constitution saves, so while it's liquid awesome in the low and mid levels, past CR 15 or so when every monster and its dad has like +10 to +15 to Constitution saves its usefulness drops like a rock. That said, you can fire off a lot of them at once so it's still good for draining Legendary Saves and if you don't mind blowing your ki points you still have decent odds of getting one through.

The Save system in 5E D&D is totally fucked. It completely shuts out (just for PCs, mind) saving throws that target Constitution at higher levels while Intelligence saving throws remain laughably inadequate for any monster that's not a spellcaster or a celestial. Even saving throws that are good to target at lower levels (WIS and CHA) become marginal as time goes on.

INT and DEX saving throws or GTFO. Spells that run off of checks (Telekinesis) or don't allow a saving throw at all (Forcecage) are still usable, though. So while pixie spam will get you through the middle levels, it'll run into a brick wall when the DM starts pulling out the big guns.

That said, 5E D&D does have one tactic that's effective throughout all levels: boring hit point damage done with a magical weapon. It kind of 'fixes' the uselessness of martials, because things like Gloom Rangers and Eldritch Knight Sharpshooters can one-shot adult dragons and two-shot pit fiends. Linear Warriors/Quadratic Wizards is still fully in effect worldbuilding-wise, but as long as you as a caster 'play fair' and don't engage in exploits like Simulacrum + (Improved) Find Steed for quadruple Sunbeam action you can trick those little bastards into believing they're still useful.
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In short, your entire post is dismissive of not merely my intelligence, but my agency. And I don't mean agency as a player within one of your games, I mean my agency as a person. You do not want me to be informed when I make the fundamental decisions of deciding whether to join your game or buying your rules system.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2017 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

One thing that's fairly relevant to the subclasses in this book: They are all reprints.
A couple (swashbuckler and mastermind, and I think one or two others) are straight out of Sword Coast Adventures. The rest are the back-of-a-napkin crap Mearls does for the Unearthed Arcana articles.

Specifically, according to statements they've made on some podcasts, they're back-of-a-napkin crap that got 70%+ approval ratings in the little polls WotC runs after posting these UA articles. So to answer the Captain's existential question the 'why?'is democracy, bitches. They are simply giving the people what they want, so can't be held responsible for things sucking or even the design direction for the game. It's what the 'customer base' wants.


@OgreBattle- Bladesinger is already in a book, the same one with the original swashbuckler and Mastermind (and sun soul). I seriously don't know what kind of rationale is involved in reprinting some things but not all things, especially with the ridiculous volume of filler content in this book.

Magic fighter is a thing in the PH though. Ninjas so far aren't anywhere, but personally, they're flavor bullshit to me. An assassin or magic rogue or shadow monk does them fine.


Speaking of rogues, Capn, I believe you left out the Scout subclass. It's like a real ranger with sneak attack, but no spells. Its pretty inherently awesome, because its reaction move is: get engaged in melee->walk away with no opportunity attacks. Its effectively immune to closet trolls and boss monsters who want to fight you. Edit: nevermind. End of creature's turn, not end of their movement. Bah.


The racial feats are kind of weird. Many are the 'hybrid' style feats that still give you +1 in a stat and some sort of effect. Except sometimes in this book, its lots of effects.
For example, dwarves and other shortasses can get a stat bump, get rid of their movement penalty, gain a skill proficiency and gain advantage on escaping grapples (if you care about escaping grapples, which largely, you do not).

Elven accuracy, one of the most recognizable 4e legacy feats in here, is just fucked up. +1 to a stat (not str or con) and any time you get advantage on a non-strength attack roll, you get to reroll one of the dice. So, effectively three dice on any finesse, ranged attack or spell. Every time, no limit, with no reason not to reroll the lower advantage die, for crit-fishing purposes if nothing else.


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Cervantes
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Arcane Archer actually does have some niche: you wanna have magic arrows you shoot at things. You're Hawkeye, motherfuckers!

Instead of the way they did it though you wanna just add some more spells that key off ranged weapon attacks (similar to the melee weapon attack spells from SCAG). If you really care you can make a new spell list for 'em or whatever.

Oh, and the most important thing: you let them use Dex as their casting stat. That's what you really want. You want to do magic by being good at arrows and having magic arrows.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Cervantes wrote:

Oh, and the most important thing: you let them use Dex as their casting stat. That's what you really want. You want to do magic by being good at arrows and having magic arrows.


I'd disagree with that if regular full casters had to deal with MAD.

like INT for spell slots, CHA for power, WIS for etc...
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Cervantes wrote:
Arcane Archer actually does have some niche: you wanna have magic arrows you shoot at things. You're Hawkeye, motherfuckers!


+1. Most classes that keep cropping up continue to do so because they represent a concept that people want to play and which isn't well served by an existing class.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The spells in this book are straight up wacky. Many fall into the WTF category for power (too high or too low) or complete uselessness. Some are old favorites, others are fluffy shit with weird implications. (Marriage in D&D apparently makes you harder to hit, and the only way out is death- the Ceremony spell is just odd.)

There are 21 pages of spells (and 3 pages of spell lists), and clerics get very little (only paladins get less). Wizards, of course, get the most. I find this unsurprising for the wizard, but given that the cleric spell list is rather short in the PH, a bit surprising on that end.

Anyway- there are a few standouts and a fucking mess involving summoning spells.

First standout:
Absorb Elements- level 1, important because action economy, and because it gets better as you go up in level. It's a reaction spell (so not your turn), and gives you resistance to ANY one energy damage you are hit with (so fuck preparing against thunder damage, just have this on tap). This spell actually matters very little at level 1, but can save you from 40-50+ points of damage or more at higher levels, for the cost of level 1 spell slots that you won't much care about.
It also has a rider effect that enemies who hit you in melee the next turn take 1d6 damage... but who fucking cares. You can also increase that damage by 1d6/spell level by casting it at a higher level, but that kills the utility of the spell, so why would you? Available to druids, sorcerers and wizards.

Invulnerability- 9th level abjuration. 10 minutes of immunity to any and all damage, because fuck you. Concentration, but other than environmental effects, you don't really have to care because nothing can damage you. Everyone will be truly shocked to find this is wizard only.

Tenser's Transformation 6th level. An old, classic spell, now in its final (and most powerful) form, apparently. Wizard only, because of course it is.
Anyway, this is a fuck-you-I'm-replacing-you spell aimed at melee types:
For 10 minutes (concentration), take: 50 temp HP, advantage on all weapon attacks, +2d12 damage to all weapon attacks, the extra attack ability (if you don't already have it), proficiency in all armor and weapons, and proficiency in strength and con saves. Because really, fuck martials. You also have to save afterwards or pick up a level of exhaustion, but whatever.

Funny side note: the spell lasts 10 minutes. If you want to take advantage of your sudden proficiency in heavy armor, it takes 10 minutes to don. You've wasted the spell. Good job.

------------
Finally the summoning spells (for wiz and warlock):
Specifically,
Summon Lesser Demons (level 3)
Summon Greater Demon (level 4)
Infernal Calling (level 5)

These have all the usual shit, concentration, hour duration, but because they summon fiends, they have bullshit riders that you have to deal with. But also because they summon fiends, they're largely better than the conjuration spells in the Players Handbook.

The exception is Summon Lesser Demons, which is shittier than conjure animals (no CR 2 option, randomization of what you can summon, and scales even worse- twice as many requires a 6th level spell slot rather than 5th, also there are a fuck ton more animals to abuse than demons of CR 1, 1/2 or 1/4). Also no control is possible, though you can put yourself in a circle of blood to keep them from attacking you and friends (that can fit in your space). Due to 5e's lack of content, this spell summons Quasits (or Maw Demons from Volo's Guide), Dretches or Manes, though notably there are no CR 1/2 demons, which makes the randomization really terrible- when you cast the spell you roll and get either:
2 CR 1 demons (Quasits or Maw Demons),
4 CR 1/2 demons (there aren't any, so you have to go lower and get 4 Dretches), or
8 CR 1/4 demons (Dretches, or you can go lower for Manes, but that's worse)

Its nicely thematic, I guess? A 5th level warlock or wizard steps into a circle of blood and unleashes an uncontrolled pack of crappy demons. But the 33% chance of a random fuck you (because lack of content) is super annoying.

---

Anyway, Summon Greater Demon and Infernal Calling are significantly different, but also include a pain in the ass clause.
But first, let's point on how the conjuration spells in the PH work:
you get something friendly that follows your orders for an hour unless your orders are against its alignment.
Conjure Celestial gets you a CR 4, and is a 7th level spell (this is shit).
Conjure Elementals gets you a CR 5, and is a 5th level spell.
Conjure Fey gets you a CR 6 fey or beast that gets the fey type, and is 6th level.
Most of these scale up: +1 CR for each spell level higher, so cap out at CR 9 as a 9th level spell, (or CR 6 for celestial, because it's shit)
Minor elementals and Woodland beings are like conjure animals, but higher level because fuck you thats why.

Summon Greater Demon is 4th level and brings you a CR 5 demon (which is to say, a barlgura, because lack of content). Casting it a 6th level is a terrible plan, since there aren't any CR 7 demons.
But anyway, the hitch with this spell is every turn it makes a charisma save (disadvantage if true name wankery happened, or possibly happens- you may have to repeat its true name every turn), or it slips control. This isn't necessarily bad, as it just tries to beat face on the nearest non-demon. But you're potentially forcing 60 saves over the duration of the spell

Now, Infernal Calling is like Summon Greater Demon in that it calls a higher CR creature (CR 6 and is a 5th level spell). This is notable because there fucking aren't any CR 6 devils. In fact, the spell suggests a bearded devil (CR 5) or a barbed devil (CR...3). The Barbed isn't terrible, as it has 110 fucking HP, multiple attacks, ranged attacks and magic resistance, but still, this is a really basic failure. In fact, as the spell is scaled up, the only things it can summon are chain and bone devils (at 7th and 8th level respectively), every other devil is beyond reach of the spell (or even lower CR for Spined or Imps).

The big problem is this spell has even more fuckery than Summon Greater Demon, and worse, it's MTP fuckery. The devil shows up unfriendly, and under the DM's control. It might attack you if it thinks you can win, or it might exchange 'limited service' for tempting you into an evil act. On each turn you can command it (non-action), which it will obey if it wants to, if it draws you towards evil. or if you win an opposed Charisma (deception, intimidate or persuasion) check vs its Wisdom (Insight) check. You get advantage with true name wankery. Once you fail, it can ignore you for the duration, but can still obey if it wants to.

As an additional point of wankery, you can use a individual devil's talisman (see a random sidebar in the MM that explains very little, beyond 'item with true name' and blood of a 'worthy' sacrifice), to summon a devil or 1 CR higher than normal (no there fucking aren't any CR 7 devils either, but you can get a Chain Devil (CR8) by casting this as a 6th level spell, or bone devil (CR9) with a 7th level). But if you use this particular piece of MTP you get to avoid all other forms of MTP, and the devil just obeys you.

Also, this spell requires a 999 GP (or higher) ruby. The demon version... doesn't, but instead requires the blood of someone killed in 24 hours is listed, but as this isn't an expensive material component, it can be replaced by a normal spellcasting focus (though you need the blood if you want a magic circle).

I don't know why these spells are so different in their bullshit (saves vs skill contests, plus lots of MTP for devils), but it's pretty damn infuriating. Especially given the lack of functionality for Infernal Calling (and summon lesser demon) due to the edition's lack of content.


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Lago PARANOIA
Invincible Overlord


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Invulnerability is a hilarious spell. 5E D&D printed a ton of spells that incapacitate you but give you a chance to break out of it if you're hit. However, and this is critical, incapacitation breaks your concentration on the spell. So when the BBEG breaks out the Invulnerability, you hit them with a Banishment or a Tasha's Hideous Laughter or a Hypnotic Pattern or whatever and break it. Then again, a lot of the partial-incapacitation spells key off of WIS/CHA/INT and NPC spellcasters tend to have good saving throws in those. Then again then again, a lot of high-level NPC spellcasters tend to have relatively shit CON modifiers, so hit them with that Blindness spell that's been languishing in your arsenal after WotC thought it was an awesome idea to give every monster at least a +10 to CON saves (not to mention Legendary or Magical Resistance) after a certain point.

---

Tenser's Transformation: eh, it's all right. Regular wizards have no use for the spell. The only ones that do are Fighter 1 / Abjurer Xs and Bladesingers. While it does come with a cocktail of advantages, not being able to cast spells is a big pisser. No Counterspell, No Misty Step, No Shield, No Absorb Elements, etc.

It's basically just there as a resource-stretcher, like Conjure Elemental. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with resource-stretchers, just that it's not the end-all/be-all of spells. I don't see myself casting it much unless I want to show off.

---

I would like to point out that the DMG explicitly lets you force demons and devils into telling you their true name if they're charmed. Since summoning gives you more control than charming, only a Gygaxian dick would block you from that route.

That doesn't really help you for Infernal Calling (since you can't call upon the same devil) unless you want to give it multiple commands, but it's GREAT to have for Summon Greater Demon. First turn, order it to tell you its true name while having it do something else. I.e., you will scream out your true name while tearing into the enemy like a proper warrior, Pokemon-style. At DC 15 (i.e. +3 proficiency bonus, +4 stat bonus), something with a -1 Charisma Saving throw only has a 6% chance to break free of your control. I'd recommend prepping a Banishment or a Dispel Magic for insurance. And when combat's done, just voluntarily release concentration.

It turns what could've been a crap spell into something that's very good for combat. Fuck the material component, you don't need it.

Anyway, I can't truck with you dissing Conjure Celestial. You can conjure Cuoatls and order it to shapechange into a Hobgoblin Devastator. Only this particular Hobgoblin Devastator has immunity to nonmagical weapons.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You'll pardon me for not knowing every detail of an rarely encountered good monster that seems under CRed and how it's weird Change Shape power is different from the Shapechange spell (which explicitly denies getting a creature's spellcasting) and how it can exploit the weird abilities of another under CRed monster.

That said, I'm not particularly convinced that having a minion that can do 7 extra damage with a fireball to people standing within 5' of a hobgoblin is all that relevant at 13th level. The Devastator is an absurdity for its CR, and bad to face as a party, but not particularly stunning against CR 12-15 enemies, except for stupidly vulnerable crap like Mummy Lords.


----

Tenser's annoys me just for the rather blatant dump it takes on half the classes. The suite of abilities is yes, with one spell, the wizard can do you better than you. Barbarians can get advantage by giving advantage to all attackers? Fuck that, the wizard can just have advantage. +3 damage from rage and an extra die on crits? +2d12 on every attack laughs at that. A few temporary hit points here and there? Fuck it. +50.

Showing off is pretty much the point of the spell. Demonstrating to the rest of the party that they're less than a single 6th level spell is pretty fucking atrocious from a design standpoint.

Though with concentration being as wobbly as it is, this can backfire hilariously.

Quote:
Fuck the material component, you don't need it.

Material components in 5th just confuse me. This one has an explicit (if limited) use in the spell, but most are just there to carry on the old jokes, but are perfectly replaceable by whatever Harry Potter accessory the class has. They should have just dropped them entirely.
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souran
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Two quick notes for factual accuracy:

1st the reprints are because of adventures league. Characters can use the phb and 1 source book. So expect lots of things to have reprints because if a character concept is new but dependant on a spell/feat/magic item/whatever from a previous splat book it has to be reprinted to be legal. Yes this means that you cannot play a race from volos as anything but a phb archetype. Which means that some of these archtypes suck because they were written for race/stat combinations you can't have.


2nd the archtypes did get a second pass, and were often changed a lot. The polling determined which sub classes were kept but sometimes, like with the cavalier they just assigned the name to class abilities they liked.

However the new sub classes are fine for 5e because 5e is a low stakes rules medium rpg. However, what xanthars does add that hasn't been discussed yet is downtime activities. They are, of course, terrible but end up being vital to the game because of how fucked the economy is. Most characters can afford everything they ever really need with their starting money. Assuming the players buy horses (Only necessary for games with significant travel, and even then really dependant on the gm running a game where they are relevant) the are done with money by level 3. Plate mail wearers get fucked because fighters can't have nice things but if you play with rolled treasure they are done with money by level 4 or 5.


Anyway 5e is super proud of it's 2e type treasure tables. Those tables hand out a shitload of money. Honestly in 5e the reason there are not many high level heroes is because if you survive to level 5 you could retire and live in leasure forever. Only Pcs don't do this because "pretend to be a 1%er in a fantasy world " is both boring and not what players get together for.

So finally having some rules about what to do about the scrouge mcduck levels of money the players end up with is vital to keeping players interested in actually adventuring.

However the rules are terrible and because the game assumes that "magic can't be purchased" the rules letting players buy useful items could easily fuck up the tenuous "bounded accuracy".

People hate the magic item treadmill but without a way to link currency to things the player (not the character) cares about currency is completely pointless.


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Voss
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 3:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yeah, I've been waiting for Capn to talk about Chapter 2.

Short version: It's classic Mearls, as in DMG 2: Electric Boogaloo. It basically rewrites large sections of the DMG (like encounter building and traps) that were entirely fucked up on release. Think of the approach to 4e skill challenges here.

It also (gasp) has rules for sleeping.

The common magic items are kind of neat, as they're mostly flavor. The handy spice pouch is nice. The tankard of sobriety (nullifies alcohol) and Charltan's Die (control the a dice roll) are the kind of things people would actually come up with.

The 'Enduring Spellbook' is less nice, as its existence suggests DMs should destroy spellbooks of wizards that don't have one.
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Cervantes
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OgreBattle wrote:
Cervantes wrote:

Oh, and the most important thing: you let them use Dex as their casting stat. That's what you really want. You want to do magic by being good at arrows and having magic arrows.


I'd disagree with that if regular full casters had to deal with MAD.

like INT for spell slots, CHA for power, WIS for etc...
there's an argument to be made that DEX is already a good stat, and making it a casting stat is cherry on the top. DEX gives AC, it gives initiative, it gives a bonus to one of the major saves

but then just make the Magic Arrows a sort of Battlemaster/Eldritch Knight hybrid. not really an issue. DEX Martials are kind of better compared to STR Martials and we should just embrace it

e: by the way, here's what Strength gets you:
2handed weapons (Great Weapon Master is one of the Broken Feats). the highest possible AC. good at grappling/shoving.

DEX gives you sharpshooter (similarly Broken), probably 2 less AC, and you're never going to grapple or shove once things get bigger than you unless you specifically went Goliath because you're a munckin fuck you you're not playing GrappleGiant


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Voss
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You aren't going to grapple or shove things anyway, because it's a waste of fucking time. (unless the shove is a rider effect on a real action).

The only thing grapple does is set the target's speed to zero for the duration of the grapple. It can still fucking murder you or cast spells with no penalty. If you're going to set actions on fire to grapple shit, your character deserves to get horrible murdered.

--
As for AC, if you're comparing Studded Leather vs Plate, yeah, you're down a point (12+5 vs 18). If you count the absurd number of ways to do better than studded (class features, magic items, spells), you really aren't.


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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Capn wrote:
I get gods of smithing are pretty popular in mythology, but do people play Hephaestus clerics?


Very much yes. I've seen several players play clerics of various craft, forge, or machine gods. I've also done it myself. It's a popular archetype, and also a very effective one in 3rd edition.

-Frank
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Cervantes
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:
You aren't going to grapple or shove things anyway, because it's a waste of fucking time. (unless the shove is a rider effect on a real action).

The only thing grapple does is set the target's speed to zero for the duration of the grapple. It can still fucking murder you or cast spells with no penalty. If you're going to set actions on fire to grapple shit, your character deserves to get horrible murdered.

--
As for AC, if you're comparing Studded Leather vs Plate, yeah, you're down a point (12+5 vs 18). If you count the absurd number of ways to do better than studded (class features, magic items, spells), you really aren't.

Grappling and shoving are kind of useless in most cases, yeah. There's some cases where it'd happen but that's subject to DM fuckery and not mechanics. Maybe "keep dude from escaping" instead of "kill dude" except that you can choose to nonlethally take out people if you get 'em to 0 HP in melee combat so that's not even that much of a reason.

--

I'd ignore spells and magic items - spells are finite use things/use concentration you'd probably want to use on something better, magic items can be used by Mister Platehead. I was assuming something like "passive no-resource-drain AC". The Shield spell is definitely a notable thing here since you only need that higher AC when they manage to hit you.

"Class features" is a good point. Barb and Monks can get 20 AC (Barbs get 22 AC at max level which never happens so who cares). You'd need to get at least 4 ASIs to hit that point (going by point buy) so that's level 16 minimum. It's more feasible for Monks here because you're totally okay with ignoring everything but Wisdom and Dexterity. But Monks don't get Shields and Barbarians are going to min-max Strength instead of Dex because of Rage so, in practice, Plate+Shield dude is going to get 21 AC at level "whenever the DM gives you enough gold to buy plate".

e: Oop, looks like the Wizard Bladesinger archetype might have it beat. Light Armor, adds Int modifier to AC for a minute twice/short rest. There's the opportunity cost of picking an archetype that isn't "Skeleton King" or "Portent Girl" though.

But it's more of a thing than DEX Barbarian so I'll backtrack on the AC claim to "STR gives you the easiest and quickest access to a high AC" since you don't get 17 Studded AC until 20 DEX. But since it's "not the highest" STR loses that particular distinction. Get Fucked STR Heavies


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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2017 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Cervantes wrote:
e: Oop, looks like the Wizard Bladesinger archetype might have it beat. Light Armor, adds Int modifier to AC for a minute twice/short rest. There's the opportunity cost of picking an archetype that isn't "Skeleton King" or "Portent Girl" though.


The heart of the Skeleton King build is just plain old Create Undead, a level 3 spell that every single Wizard archetype gets access to. Being a Necromancer specifically does beef up skeleton hit points to make your horde more durable, but the basic utility of rapidly gaining 20+ attacks in a game of bounded accuracy is still there even if you decide to take another archetype.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2017 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I wasn't even thinking of monks and barbs, as they're too stat heavy to be feasible until the campaign is over.

I was thinking of dragon sorcerers (13+dex), warlocks (who can pick up mage armor as a non-spell) and other shit like that (including scaly races that can just do it innately or now with a feat). And keep in mind bracers of armor stack with that shit (because reasons), just as they do for monks and barbs.


As for spells, I entirely disagree. Spells that last for a combat (like shield of faith or mage armor) are the something better. Shield is neat, and I wouldn't scorn it, but you can burn through your resources way too fast with shield- the Hexblade has to be wary of this unless the short rest recharge is being abused.

Dex barbarian isn't really something worth considering. It functionally doesn't work in a lot of ways (you just straight up lose the damage bonus, and reckless attack doesn't work with non-strength weapons)


The big problem with Dex builds in general is they take a while to max out, so they absolutely need spells and items to be survivable while they work their way to 8th level (or 6 for fighters). Heavy armor has the advantage of being able to walk into the game in the high teens, and there are increasing options to build armor stacks. The forge cleric for example, can wandering into the first combat at level 1 with a 21 AC. (Chain, shield, shield of faith and their level 1 class feature), by 6th level, they can wander around at 24 before items and crap.

Though this stuff also work on light armor, so someone with sufficient system mastery can tread water with a light armor build. Heavy armor is just easier, and makes certain builds viable at all.


Speaking of the Hexblade, I really hate the design philosophy at work here (even more than the Bladesinger)- they just gave it everything. Just... hey, we kind of fucked up this class in the first place, so this subclass gets to have AC, SAD, big weapons if you want them (with blade pact), multiple attacks, access to smite, a damage bonus, self healing, a pile of defensive spells, crazy utility abilities, just fucking everything.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2017 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So, one of the worst aspects of this book is the complete waste of page space.
The book is 192 pages:
17 of which are random name tables by fantasy race, or for humans, random real world ethnicities.

20 pages are re-written random encounter tables. These have a 4 or 5 level range (1-4, 5-10, 11-16, 17-20), which is pretty non functional for 5e. For example, level 1-4 desert encounters can include a cyclops (CR6), lamia (CR4) or a hobgob captain with 2d6 hobgoblins, which is frankly untenable for anyone in this level range, let alone at the bottom end. At the top end (17-20), the table includes '1 mummy lord,' which is CR15 monster with less than 100 hp and a vulnerability to fire (which can be over in a round), or 1d4 hours of extreme heat, which can be solved by just ignoring it, as it's a DC 5 save for the first hour, +1 for each additional hour. Yes, DC five.

In addition to that, 4.5 pages are eaten by arranging the trivial magic items for this book and the real magic items from the DMG in tables, because now they're divided into minor and major items (and also by rarity), for... reasons. These aren't rollable tables, just a list. But they include item type and whether items require attunement, which the random tables in the DMG don't.

About 18 pages are eaten by random class background shit and 11 more pages are eaten by general fill in the blank personality trait or history tables. These are largely random tables like the ones attached to backgrounds in the PH, like 'what cliche are you pursuing?' and 'what horrible antisocial trait does your character have that you can use to justify being a problem player at the table?'

So out of 192 pages, about 67 are just junk comprised of mostly random tables, so more than a third of the book is non-content.


---
25 more pages go to rewriting parts of the DMG:
Revising traps from the shitty version in the DMG takes half of this count, at 12,
rewriting downtime eats 9,
and trying to create a real encounter system is just 4.
There are other miscellaneous systems around that some of which are reasonable to have (like sleeping), others are 'what the fuck can you actually do with tool proficiency: X.' So stuff that should have been in the game 3 years ago.


---
Also included are 2 pages on area effects. Apparently the rules for AOE spells in the dmg are bad (at least according to this book), so they've included rules for using templates or tokens (on grids), both of which look really terrible in play and have a lot of unstated assumptions - like that your play grid is actually 1"=5' or if you play gridless, you use the implied scale from the template. It seems obvious, but isn't actually mentioned. For gridless they assume you're using miniatures, and the miniatures have standardized bases which... maybe? Reaper minis tend to have a minimal silhouette or circular base that follows the general shape of the figure, some companies use 20mm, 25mm, others 30mm, or a mix. But if the template touches the base, it's affected by the spell, so obviously smaller is objectively safer.

You also don't have to center templates on anything in particular, so as far as targeting goes, templates are a huge improvement- you can move the template off center to avoid allies and hit more enemies in a way that you can't do with the actual rules.

The template method is even quirkier, especially with cones. A token cone projected straight forward isn't symmetrical. I don't understand this at all, but apparently standing 2, 4, or 6 squares away on the right side of a cone is safe, but isn't on the left. By comparison, the cone template touches at least 3 more squares. Circles also become squares in this method, though that doesn't actually make any difference with the way the templates work. Or, indeed the way AoEs are usually abstracted on a grid system in the first place, making this completely pointless.


----
On the other hand, the shared campaign rules appendix actually isn't bad. Not for actually doing shared campaigns, but providing some actual guide posts to playing 5th edition, including:
-use a fucking stat array or point buy for character creation
-how many encounters/scenes should happen during a session, and approximate play time (though they vastly underestimate the amount of time things can take: 2-4 simple encounters or 1-2 complex ones in an hour).
-a better guide to leveling up than just murder-hoboing about. Including significant exploration or social interaction. (wow!)
-Along with this are some real guidelines to money and treasure, rather than the random tables of randomness in the DMG.


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CapnTthePirateG
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

A scout review and Chapter 2 will be coming tomorrow, I just got back from Thanksgiving.

It looks like you guys beat me to the punch for a lot of this but I'll do what I can.
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