Thursday, August 28, 2014

Drowning Rules for 5e D&D

What, no drowning rules for 5e? Well, okay, here's a first pass at falling into the water unexpectedly with armor on:



Heavy Armor

Immediately start sinking. Lose any carried shields and weapons. Out of action or sight for 1d4 minutes as you struggle not to drown: Make 3 successful (your choice) Strength or Dexterity Saving Throws (DC 15) before 3 failed ones to remove armor and swim back to the surface before running out of breath.*

Medium Armor

Roll a d10 to see how many pieces of armor need to be removed before you can stay afloat. Make a Strength Saving Throw (DC 10) each round to stay on the surface. On a success, you can take no other actions besides shouting and stowing a weapon or removing a piece of armor. Failed save means you go under for 2d6 rounds, lose any still-carried shields or weapons, and must make a single successful Strength or Dexterity Saving Throw (DC 15) before 3 failed ones to remove the rest of your armor and make it back to the surface in 1 minute.

Light Armor

Make a single Strength Saving Throw (DC 10) to get your bearings and stay afloat. Failure means you go under for 1d6 rounds, losing any carried shields or weapons and must make a single Strength or Dexterity Saving Throw (DC 15) before 3 failed ones to avoid drowning. Complicated actions or damage taken may require further Saving Throws.



Rough water adds 5 to all DCs. Flotsam or other floating items (like a wooden shield) grant advantage to saves to stay afloat.

Prepared Swimming is significantly more lenient.

Lava Rules apply (you fall in lava, you die, no save).

*Per Suffocation Rules (p. 183) character can hold breath 1+(con bonus) minutes and it takes 5 minutes to take Heavy Armor off. These are a loose melding of these two rules.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My lazy Rappan Athuk Campaign

So Rappan Athuk is my current low-to-no-prep megadungeon campaign. Pretty straight-forward vanilla fantasy, all written down by someone else in an expansive tome, and lucky enough to be playing with the kind of awesome people who just want to have fun getting lost and in way over their head in a notoriously lethal dice-rolled-in-view and survivable-bragging-rights 50-level monstrosity. I just read parts of it recreationally now and then, look up stuff before and during game, and tweak it to my and my player's needs during play.

This is very lazy of me, and sometimes the game has suffered for it. My bad.

Orcus by Todd Lockwood, front & center
of my GM screen
My Rappan Athuk takes place on your typical Edge-of-Civilization coast. The stock backstory is that a great Army of Evil was driven out of the city a thousand years ago to disappear in the hill-lands, along with any and all pursuing heroes and their great treasures. Since then, rumors of a massive and deadly dungeon underneath a graveyard draws many adventurers to this region to their death.

Ten things going on that are/were interesting:

  1. Various rolls on the Death & Dismemberment and Carousing tables have resulted in Max's wizard ending up as a eunuch shriner wrapped up in a false cult perpetuated by a bunch of drunks in the back of a bar.
  2. The PCs killed a giant fire snake using only Tenser's Floating Disk and Mending. More details here.
  3. When they finally made it to a Big City™Charlotte slept with a witch and then totally kicked her out of bed and got cursed and ended up with a tentacle leg.
  4. J├╝rgen Mayer showed up from Germany with his lovely girlfriend and helped the group find a fort in the Rappan Athuk Wilderness, now named Fort Helgar in his honor.
  5. Mules and Lard were so frequently weaponized in the initial levels of play that the PCs ended up co-opting and financing a pig farm to keep supplies steady.
  6. The most powerful member of the party remains Mandy's wardog Carnage, I think I rolled a 42 on Zak's Wardog table, except that they encased it in Metal Snake Armor and it melted half its face off attacking a Gelatinous Cube so now it looks more like that thing from Brotherhood of the Wolf.
  7. Gnolls are rather easily cowed by pyromancy, it seems. And having burning mules dropped on them, too. Goblins can be easily convinced that they are powerful wizards through the use of an Unseen Servant spell. Bandits will stop and talk if you convince them you are an Insurance Adjuster.
  8. Green Gargoyle Eyes became quite a commodity for awhile, perhaps in remembrance of the Ripped-Apart-By-One death of Devildog Slaughterfist (RIP).
  9. Max's wizard became entranced with a cursed blue diamond for awhile and decided he wanted to live forever in a cup held aloft by a statue.
  10. "Dear Diary, though I am now known to the gnoll tribe as Gorgut The Pyromancer, linguistic confusion and overindulgence in the human's spiritdrink has resulted in my tattoo reading 'Gorgut the Pie Romancer'."
We're currently using Labyrinth Lord rules but with Lamentations of the Flame Princess spells.

You can read my review of Rappan Athuk here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Warlords & Scoundrels of Warmark Skerry



Warlords of Warmark


The different Warlords act as both icons and factions. So a PC's Background Bond will involve picking a warlord and writing some sort of positive or negative relationship to them.
  • Karstellan Armada - Colonialists from a distant empire, hailing from the city of Tortaega’s Gate
  • The Living Shark God - The wereshark Black Dragorra heads an army of ravagers and reavers, his unquenchable appetite for conquest and claims of divinity setting this pirate above others.
  • Cult of the Kraken - The usual Innsmouthian hijinks.
  • Coral Queen of the Elves - PC elves are an underclass offshoot of the true underwater kingdom, able to breathe water but held in contempt for their landwalking.
  • Captain’s Council of Freeport - squabbling politicos eroding their own pretenses of civilization.
  • The Fanged Count -Vampiric shadows provide some protection from pirates and slavers, but at what cost. City of Raven’s Deep.
  • The Pointed Compass - Wizards Guild and Wayfarer's society: reclusive, friendly, but exploitive.
  • The Iron Missions - Religious/Military followers of the Serrated Saint, dedicated to establishing outposts and converting the faithless. City of Blackrock Reach.
  • Shepherd’s Lock - both a hidden city (dwarf cave) and a Thief’s Guild and smuggling network.
  • Fetid Romanstra - Loose coalition of savage humanoids, centered in the Miregully Coven.
  • The Suckered Maw - Ancient lords of the Warmark Ceraptor

Scoundrels of Warmark


An NPC list of competitors, pursuers and hapless pursuees.
  • "Smoothtongue" McTeague - captain of the Midnight's Kiss, handsome and thoroughly amoral privateer deep in pursuit of the Jewel of Fortunes.
  • Dobby Widdershins - A shady associate of the former.
  • Padre Malvado - Warrior Priest of the Serrated Saint. Thoroughly lacking in a sense of humor. Probably constipated.
  • Boreastus the Beast AKA Snagglefang - Greedy, fat, elder red dragon; looking to leverage the secrets of the Suckered Maw. Also, lunch.
  • Lord Cerebor Faustling - Foppish merchant noble in Freeport. Probably the type who worships demons in his manor basement.
  • Paquito Flacido - Cartographer and helpless sycophant of the Pointed Compass. Obsequious, prone to boot-lickery.
  • Commodore Gallione - Karstellan commander of a flotilla of three Imperial ships: The Harpy, The Seawitch, and The Executioner. Honorable to a point, yet total asshole.
  • Throgg Gristlebeef of the Skull & Flagon Inn - rumormonger and adventuring profiteer in Freeport.
  • Captain ScarGut - Orcish pirate, smarter than he looks. Often accompanied by his mates Slash Slagle and Nevel the Knife.
  • Banner & Lurch - Fences and Information brokers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Campaign Proposal: Warmark Skerry

Alas the lovely Nightsky is moving away and our Sunday Night Gaming group is bereft of a wonderful Dungeon Master. In her absence and my enthusiasm about 5e, I'm looking forward to picking up the mantle of a new campaign, probably a six-monther? Hard to say.


I'm feeling Piratey, so I'm thinking about a seafaring campaign taking place in an archipelago of warring islands surrounding and vying for control of an untamed landmass of deadly secrets. The game will start with a treasure hunt and then hopefully morph into something else. Here are the highlights of my notes:

  • Somewhere in the untameable Warmark is the Ceraptor Heart: a gateway to an ancient civilization of great and terrible power. The key to finding it is the Eye of the Aboleth, split into 5 parts and scattered across the islands.
  • PCs choose affiliations (positive or negative) with various warlords, a la 13th Age Icons.
  • Muskets and flintlock pistols can be used as simple weapons as per crossbow stats. Flintlock pistols can be used 1-handed, but misfire on a rolled 1, doing weapon damage to the user and destroying the weapon.
  • May drop Green Ronin's Freeport as a home base.
  • Instead of a tentpole megadungeon, the Warmark island serves as a tentpole hexcrawl.

Stay tuned for more Warmark Skerry posts!