Well met and good to see you once again for the Second Edition of Tales from Behind the Screen!
In this ongoing series, Debauchery and Dragons fans will get a quick glimpse behind the dungeon master’s screen. Doing my best to not reveal any spoilers for upcoming episodes, you’ll receive just a bit more detail about the world our adventurers find themselves in and the “What If” of other choices that could have been made during our Dungeons and Dragons campaign.
For Episode 3, there was an idea I wanted to explore. As creatures from every corner of the Forgotten Realms burst forth from the prison, there was a huge variety of vastly different magical beings in one location. With such a variety of spells being cast, reality itself would be damaged by their magical rage and attempts at escape. The end result being a bit of chaos magic spilling onto the field of battle. Which the adventurers then had to dodge or survive.
From a game mechanic perspective, I created a custom “Chaos Magic” table for the characters to roll on to simulate the walls of reality collapsing around them.
The table itself, seen below, was built from a combination of the Sorcerer Chaos Magic table, the Wand of Wonder table, and my own adjustments to limit its lethality for our level one adventurers. (While I’m not strictly opposed to the idea of them dying, I didn’t want it to be due to something quite as random as this)
As it goes with Chaos Magic, the items on the table that actually took effect were not necessarily my first choices, compared to some of the chance items that I was hoping would have happened. There is a decent chance that our adventurers will see this table again though. So who knows, they may still have to suffer though a 1d20x10 Rain of Gold Coins from Above.
Only time will tell.
House Rules and Jiu Jitsu
While not explicitly stated during Episode 3, you may have noticed that the first house rule of Debauchery and Dragons made its way into play. As Calica climbed to the top of the tree to see what she could see, there was a choice to be made. Would she do it barbarian style, using brute strength (athletics) to make the climb, or would she be a bit more artistic in the endeavor and use acrobatics to gracefully work her way upward?
In the Players Handbook, both grappling and climbing are listed as athletics checks. This seems wrong to me.
First up, Climbing – While climbing can certainly be accomplished through athleticism, acrobatics and technique are often just as important. It seems wrong to not give a character a choice as to how they want to approach the challenge of getting to the top of a tower or a tree.
Next, Grappling – As anyone who has ever wrestled or done jiu jitsu will tell you, grappling is about far more than just strength (athletics). Many times, the more dexterous (acrobatic) grappler is able to gain a submission. As a result, the adventurers will have a choice here to. If an opponent is within one size of them, they have the option of choosing either athletics or acrobatics when grappling.
One other small change, a successful grapple gives the attacker an advantage to unarmed attacks against the target. The hope is that this will make grappling a bit more useful and a bit closer to how it works in reality. Plus, who doesn’t want to see Calica trying to wrestle a shark into submission?