Archive for the ‘Homemade Material’ Category

During our playtesting of D&D Next, we saw the v1 and v1.5 playtest documents. V1 was what was used at D&DXP and the UKT3 playtest, while version 1.5 gave us a sneak peak at their ideas for themes and feats at higher levels. Even those early versions were pretty damned good, and it’s nice to see how they revised the character pillars of race, class and theme into race (and sub race), class (with domain and rogue scheme), background and theme.

One aspect of character creation that I hope they’ve kept was an idea of equipment bundles, prepackaged items for each class to best suit their abilities, within the money budget you had. I liked the concept so much, I decided to create a few bundles of my own:

Battlerager – A bundle for a dwarven barbarian – axes, and lightweight armour to reduce the speed penalty, plus beer to celebrate/get in the mood.

Battleaxe, 2 x Handaxe, Hide Armour, Adventurers Pack, Barrel of Ale, Tankard

Tomb Raider – designed more for thieves, it focuses on equipment for getting around underground.

Shortsword, Leather Armour, Explorers Clothes, Adventurers Pack, Climbers Kit, Thieves Tools, Caltrops, Mirror, Magnifying Glass, Spade, Crowbar

Huntsman – a kit for archer fighters to give a wilderness ranger feel until we see the ranger.

Shortbow, Arrows (30), Handaxe, Hide armour, Cold Weather Clothes, Adventurers Pack, Climbers Kit, Fishing hook/net, Sewing kit, Tent, Signal whistle, Blanket

Bladedancer – a kit for flamboyant fighters.

Bastard Sword, Dagger, Studded Leather, Entertainers Clothes, Backpack, Ink+Pen (for signing autographs), Whetstone, Mirror, Soap, Sewing Kit

Sellsword – the equipment for a mercenary for hire, who roams the country, taking contracts to capture or kill.

Longsword, Dagger, Scalemail, Light Shield, Adventurers Pack, Travellers Clothes, Tent, Manacles

Pikeman – an equipment bundle for the common militia foot soldier who has who wants to keep their foes at a distance.

Halberd, Shortsword, Scalemail, Adventurers Pack, Blanket, Tent, Mug

City Guard – an equipment bundle for militia that have served within the trusted guard of a minor noble.

Longsword, Heavy Mace, Dagger, Scalemail, Courtiers Clothes, Torches (10), Tinderbox, Whetstone, Cloak, Tabard


Created primarily to take the sub-optimal Drow race and give them a reason to become blackguards, which are a wholly underused class, I present to you the Vice of Seduction, a way for blackguards to embrace the shadows and their own sensuality.

Vice of Seduction
The life of a drow is tense and deadly. From conflicts with rival houses, to raiders from the Underdark, to assassination at the whim of the matriachol mothers and priestess’, it is a surprise that lust and sex is a large part of their society. But sex, whether it is consensual or not, lust, and seduction are a huge factor in their culture. It offers a momentarily release from the fear of inevitable death, a feeling of closeness, of bonding with others of your species. Few drow live to old age, so procreation is viewed almost like immortality, a way to beat death.
To this end, the drow have taken their natural strengths: self-confidence, deceit, betrayal, and learnt to wield it as a force of power, crafting their armour and weapons to take advantage of their agile forms and exotic sensuality. Those that embrace the shadows and the pleasure that come with them, do so without regard for morality, enjoying the emotional gain from the physical release of tempting and eliminating a foe.
Alignment: Those who follow the teachings of the drow temptresses and pleasure-mistresses do so becuase they have an evil heart and worship evil goddesses such as Lolth.

Level 1: Spirit of Vice (Seduction)
While some blackguards punish those who oppose them, embodying wrath, determination, and self-mutlation, to you, a battle is merely a playground for you to tempt and seduce within, capturing your foes hearts before slaughtering them when they are weakened by your beauty.
Benefit: When you use the bluff skill to gain combat advantage against an adjacent enemy, you make the check as a minor action.

Level 1: Vice At-Will Power (Seduction)
Your presence upon the battlefield is a distraction, your disregard for the social norms of sexuality a key to your success.
Benefit: You gain the seductive strike power.

Seductive Strike * Paladin Attack 1
“Even underneath your armour, your foe can sense your lithe movements, distracting them.”
At-Will * Divine, Enchantment, Weapon
Standard Action * Melee Weapon
Target: One Creature
Attack: Strength vs AC
Hit: 1W + Strength modifier damage. The target takes a penalty to it’s next attack roll against you equal to your Charisma modifier.

Level 7: Improved Shroud of Shadow (Seduction)
Drawing on the shadows to empower you, you weave them around you to emphasise your body’s natural assets.
Benefit: When you use your shroud of shadow power, you gain a +2 bonus to bluff checks until the end of your next turn.

The Drow Blademaster is an awesome mini, and a great foe in D&D 4e, so here’s my (incomplete) take on it as a theme.

Blade Master
Drow society is, at its heart, a matriachial one, with the men subervent to the matron mothers whims and plans, but all serve under the greater scheme of the drow goddess, the spider queen Lolth. While all drow men are excpeted to serve as guards to the many houses, and as such, all are trained in the use of swords, some males are raised through the ranks and given additional training, becoming blade masters. These rare individuals view the sharpened edges and pointed tips of their dual blades as extensions of themselves, striking swiftly and with precision.

Creating a Blade Master
While most blade masters are found within the ranks of the raiding parties, and militia that defend the noble house from outside attacks and internal squabbles, some are found within the ranks of the arcane users, or from heretics who have fended for themselves in the primal wastelands.
Pre-req Race: Drow

Starting Feature:
Blade Masters are singled out early in the ranks of the drow militia for their ability to wield two weapons effectively. Once selected, they are drilled for months in the tactics, attack postures, and feints needed to turn their dual bladed fighting into a deadly form.
Benefit: You gain the Two-Weapon Fighting feat even if you do not meet its pre-requistives. If you already have this feat, you gain the Two-Weapon Defense feat instead.

Level 5 Feature:
Blade Masters train long and hard to be the best warriors of drow soceity. Vigorous excercise, and the finest diet mean they are at a peak of physical ability, capable of out running, out jumping and out climbing the lesser examples of their race.
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to Acrobatics, Athletics and Endurance skill checks.

Level 10 Feature:
The blade master is both an expert with swords and a graceful so it strikes at multiple foes before they have a chance to react.
Benefit: You gain the following encounter power: Whirlwind Flourish

Whirlwind Flourish * Theme Power
“Your movements are so swift that you seem to blur with speed of your motion, striking once, twice, and again with your blades.”
Daily * Martial, Weapon
Standard Action * Melee 1
Requirement: You must be wielding two melee weapons.
Special: You can shift up to 3 squares before making this attack.
Target: One creature
Attack: Your highest ability score vs AC
Hit: 1W + highest ability modifier damage, make a secondary attack with your off-hand weapon.
  Secondary Attack: Your highest ability score vs AC
  Secondary Hit: 1W + highest ability modifier damage.
Effect: You deal 1W damage to the target.
Special: You can shift up to 3 squares after making this attack.
Special: When making an opportunity attack, you can use this power in place of a melee basic attack.

The flavour text isn’t complete, and its missing some encounter powers, but I thought it would be good to post it up to get some feedback and see if I’m heading in the right direction. So, here is my take on a Warpriest (essentials Cleric) domain for worshippers of Lolth:

Spider Queen Domain
The drow are a devout race, their worship of Lolth and her children a reflection of the daily torment of their life in the Underdark. Her clerics are considered to be amongst the purest of their kind, embodiments of the ambition, desire and lust of the Spider Queen herself, chosen for their physical beauty as much as their devotion, widely reverred and deeply envied.
It is the Spider Queens’ clerics who understand the great web of power that Lolth has spun from her home with the Demonweb Pits, who see how each strand of Lolth’s manipulations has linked the noble houses, how renegades and heretics believe themselves free of the sticky strands of the drow’s influence, but are only truly struggling to escape captivity from Lolth’s preyful nature.
At their core, the spider queens clerics spin a web of lies and deception, tempting their allies and foes alike to garner power and influence, plotting to one day rule over all with an iron fist and posioned fang.

Level 1: Spider Queen Domain Feature
While the Spider Queens power is felt strongest in the dark recesses of the Underdark, she has begun to cast her web ever wider, using renegades and heretics to extend the boundaries of her influence into the surface world. The clerics who are chosen to bring the Spider Queens message of betrayal and blood do so with impunity, fighting viciously with whatever they have to hand, and taking any advantage of mistakes and openings their opponents make.
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to Bluff check used to gain combat advantage against an enemy. In addition, you can use the check as a minor action, and the target can be within 5 squares of you but must be able to see you. In addition, when you use healing word, each ally in the burst gains a +2 bonus to Bluff checks until the end of your next.

Level 1: Spider Queen Domain At-Will Powers
Lolth demands absolute obedience from her followers, and uses this obedience to strengthen her web of power, constantly scheming to betray the other gods and gain sovereignty over all of existence.

Fickle Favour * Cleric Attack 1
“Lolth’s trust in your abilities varies…”
At-Will * Divine, Implement, Shadow
Standard Action * Ranged 5
Target: One creature
Attack: Wisdom vs Will
Hit: Roll a d6. If the result is even, the target takes damage equal to you Charisma modifier and grants combat advantage on the next attack made against it before the end of your next turn. If the roll is odd, the target regains hit points equal to you Charisma modifier and can make a save to immediately end one condition affecting it.

Inevitable Betrayal * Cleric Attack 1
“Your strikes manipulate your foes position within the Spider Queens web, setting them up for a greater sacrifice.”
At-Will * Divine, Weapon, Shadow
Standard Action * Weapon
Target: One creature
Attack: Wisdom vs AC
Hit: 1W + Wisdom modifier damage. If the target was granting combat advantage to you, deal additional damage equal to your Charisma modifier
Effect: The target grants combat advantage on the next attack made against it before the end of your next turn.

Level 1: Spider Queen Domain Utility Power

Manipulate The Weave * Cleric Utility 1
“You can envision your foes placement on the strands of Lolth’s web, allowing you to tweak the weave to your advantage.”
Encounter * Divine, Shadow
Free Action * Personal
Trigger: You hit a target with the Fickle Favour power
Target: Triggering target
Effect: You can choose whether the roll of the d6 would be an odd or even result.

Level 1: Spider Queen Domain Encounter Power

Ceremony of Torture * Cleric Attack 1
“While other fight with grace, or power, your strikes raise a cacophany of screams as your weapon tears away flesh and your victims resolve.”
Encounter * Divine, Weapon, Shadow
Standard Action * Weapon
Attack: Wisdom vs AC
Hit: 2W + Wisdom modifier damage, and make a secondary attack.
  Secondary Target: All enemies in close burst 5
  Secondary Attack: Wisdom +2 vs Will
  Secondary Hit: The target takes a penalty equal to your Charisma modifier to attack rolls made against you until the end of your next turn.

Level 1: Spider Queen Domain Channel Divinity Power

Traverse the Web * Cleric Utility 1
“Following the strands of the Spider Queens web, you teleport to an advantageous position.”
Encounter * Channel Divinity, Divine, Shadow
Move Action * Personal
Effect: You teleport up to 10 squares. If you end your move adjacent to a drow or spider, you gain a +2 bonus to all defenses until the start of your next turn.
Special: You can only use one channel divinity power per encounter.

Level 5: Spider Queen Domain Feature
Having proven your worth to Lolth by eliminating her foes and extending her web, she releases more of her power to you. When you call on her to heal your allies, the web loosens allowing them to move freely
Benefit: When you use healing word, the target of the power immediately ends any slowed or immobilized condition effecitng them.

Level 10: Spider Queen Domain Feature
Your devotion to the mastery of the Spider Queens power is recognised and she entrusts you with the ability to directly bind her foes into her web of schemes and plots.
Benefit: When you hit with a divine attack power, the target is slowed until the end of your next turn. If the power already slows the target, it is immobilized instead. In addition, you gain an additional use of Manipulate the Weave per encounter, though the power can only be used once per round.

What happens when you cross one of the UK’s up and coming DM’s on the public play scene, with a convention exclusive adventure, a new season of Encounters, and a mixture of players who might or might not have played said convention adventure…

Well, If you’re Mik, this happens:

Designed as a very quick introduction to the new Encounters season, Web of the Spider Queen, Mik has written an encounter with a backstory that bridges the gap between The Sun Never Rises, and the players meeting Ghessla Silvermane at the Old Skull Inn.

I would tweak one line in the background slightly:

Her Radiance, Dareen Travaskyr, High Priestess at the Temple of Lathander in Daggerdale has called together a band of adventurers that have been resting in town, some of which recently took part in a daring rescue below her own temple which had been raided from below by a force of drow with dwarven mercenaries.

Dareen tells the adventurers she has been having vivid dreams of a drow invasion of the Dalelands, with the symbol of a large white skull prominent. She believes the incursion is going to happen soon and as such, has sent out her acolytes to seek out those in positions of power and deliver this omen of fear. So far none of her acolytes have returned, and Her Radiance is concerned that her word is being suppressed.

She asks the characters to travel to Shadowdale and speak to Ghessla Silvermane, proprietor of the Old Skull Inn. Perhaps from there, they can learn more about the impending invasion, or at least alert the neighbouring dale to the possible threat. Dareen also mentions that if the characters tell Ghessla that Her Radiance sent them, the innkeeper might offer them free meals, free lodging for a night, and, most important, free access to the Underdark.

Heading out of Daggerdale at midmorning the heroes set off on the march to Shadowdale in high spirits.

Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook, that launches a few days after the Drowathon (and thanks to WotC’s advance preview scheme to support FLGS will be on sale at the Drowathon) comes with a few new themes to help adventurers survive and thrive in the hostile environment of the Underdark.

Looking through the list of themes it includes, there are 2 typical drow roles that I don’t think have been covered, so i’d like to present my take on them here:

Almost all Drow worship Lolth, the spider queen, and if not her, they worship one of her children. The drow take this worship seriously, adorning themselves, their armour, equipment, houses…. everything… with the symbols of their goddesses power – the arachnid. There are those with the necessary skill and vision, that can sense how Lolth manipulates the web of arcane energies, and learn how to weave their abilities into this web to increase their potency.

Creating an Arachnomancer
Arachnomancers share little in common with others of their power, they hail from all aspects of drow society, some begin their lives as lowly pleasure slave, others as raiders, others still come from the noble houses, born into a life of matriochial smotherering. Indeed, other than race, and a worship of Lolth, all that can be determined is that in some part of their life, Lolth spoke to them in the form of a spider.
Pre-req Race: Drow
Pre-req Diety: Lolth

Starting Feature:
Lolth’s influence upon the world is felt throughout drow society, but none more so by those who dedicate their life to the Lolth’s ambitions. These individuals are a direct part of her plans, and can use her power to enhance their own abilities, attacking with incredible power.
Benefit: You gain the Web of Influence power.

Web of Influence * Theme Power
“The sticky strands of Lolths web of power leak into the real world as you attack.”
Encounter * Shadow
Free action * Personal
Trigger: You hit and deal damage with an at-will attack power
Target: One target of the triggering attack
Effect: The target is slowed until the end of your next turn. If the attack already slowed the target, it is immobilized instead.

Level 5 Feature:
Those who worship Lolth, and revel in her power spend incredible amounts of time in the dark recesses of the Underdark, around the symbol of her worship, the spider. Her dedicated followers learn the ways of the Underdark and its many species, becoming immune to the dangers its creatures pose
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to Dungeoneering and Nature skill checks. Increase this bonus to +4 when dealing with spiders. In addition, you gain a +2 bonus to saving throws against effects imposed by spiders.

Level 10 Feature:
As Lolths power grows, so does that of her truest believers. Those that have survived the dangers of the Underdark, the brutal backstabbing culture of the drow, and the predjudice of the outside world can truly call themselves Arachnomancers. Few survive this long to be chosen as vessels for Lolths children, but those that do
Benefit: You gain a second use of the Web of Influence power, but can only use it once per round. In addition, you gain the following encounter power: Hatchling Eruption

Hatchling Eruption * Theme Power
“As you open your mouth, a flood of tiny spiders flow out, crawling over your foes, biting and injecting them with thousands of tiny specks of posion.”
Encounter * Shadow
Standard action * Close Blast 3
Target: Each creature in the blast
Effect: You deal 1d8 posion damage to the target.

Additional Options:
While all drow society is exposed to the symbolic spiders that accompany Lolth’s worship, her chosen ones, the Arachnomancers, understand that the symbols are anchor points in the great web of power that Lolth has woven across the Underdark, and is now expanding into the surface world. Arachnomancers use spiders, and the symbols of them to expand their influence.

Level 2 Utility:
Because of their affinity with spiders, arachnomancers are tasked with hunting down the most venomous examples of the species, and plucking them from their webs. Such a task often proves deadly to those without the purest dedication to Lolth. Fro those that can do it, they learn how to move over and through the spiders webs without disturbing them.

Weave Walker * Theme Power
“Using the gentliest of movements, you pick your way across the spiders web, unhindered by the sticky strands.”
Daily * Shadow
Minor Action * Personal
Effect: Until the end of the encounter, you can ignore difficult terrain caused by webs.

Level 6 Utility:
While the drow worship and adjorn themselves with symbolic spiders, other races, even amongst the deep dwellers of the Underdark, view spiders with suspicion and fear. Amongst the surface dwellers, arachnids are thought of as evil, and some puny individuals break down.

Arachnophobia * Theme Power
“Weaker minds crumble from their inner fears, asthe lingering vestiges of your contact with spiders hangs to you like a thick veil, the echoes of their scuttling legs swirling around.”
Daily * Shadow
Minor Action * Personal
Effect: You create a zone in close burst 3 that moves with you and lasts until the end of your next turn. Creatures that start or end their turn in the zone take 1 + your Charisma modifier psychic damage. A creature can only take this damage one per round.

Level 10 Utility:
Much of the drow cities found in the Underdark are crafted from hardened webs strung between stalactites and stalagmites. In some places, these webs are hudreds of generations old, and as solid as the granite walls of the cavernous Underdark. In other places, the webs are fresh and can be manipulated, gathering up the strands and moving them to a more suitable location.

Wall of Webs * Theme Power
“Strands of silken spider webbing dart from your hands, forming a thick barrier to protect you from your foes.”
Daily * Shadow, Conjuration
Minor Action * Area wall 5 within 5 squares
Effect: You conjure a wall of webs that lasts until the end of the encounter. The wall is 2 squares high, blocks line of sight and is treated as difficult terrain. As a Minor action, you can move the wall 5 squares.