Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Lipimancer: Update

One of my players is playing a Lipimancer! And he is rocking it! So now I have to take my half baked idea and make it into a usable 5e sub-class.

Some quickly obvious problems arise from the original post:
  • It implies an infinite number of spells per day assuming you can find enough food
  • Having spells cost calories means that I have to figure out a way to equate relative cost of different spell levels
The simple solution is to use an already built in mechanic of the sorcerer class, sorcerer points, and keeping the spell casting system intact.

Invest in suspenders, you'll need them

The Lipimancer:

Regaining Spell Slots: When you take a long rest you regain all of your spell slots but it consumes all of your stored calories, AND unless you have full calories stored you only regain half of the number of spell slots per spell level, rounding down.

So a 4th level Lipimancer goes to sleep with only 10,000 stored calories she wakes up hungry (no calories stored) and with only 2 1st level spell slots and 1 2nd spell slot restored. Lipimancers are cranky in the morning if they are hungry.

Wellspring of Vitality: At 2nd level you learn how to tap into your bodies stored energies to augment your casting. 4,000 calories are equal to 1 sorcerer point, and unlike sorcery points you do not regain all of your calories at the end of a long rest, you have to eat to get them back. You can never have more calories stored than your current calorie cap (see table below).

Let the Fat Flow: You can translate your stored calories into magical energy and vice versa, either by spending calories to get spell slots refreshed or spending spell slots for more calories (but never more than your cap!), both are bonus actions. You cannot regain spell slots greater than 5th level using this ability.

Some Tables:
Sorcery Points
Calorie Equvilent

Spell Slot
Level Regained
Point Cost

(I like this because it builds in a cap to the number of calories the Lipimancer has stored away to use for magic but leaves the spell casting system intact so that they can use them seamlessly with the sorcerer's class abilities, and I don't have to mess with fudged spell level equivalence)

Metamagic: At 3rd level you gain the Metamagic ability, as described in the PHB, except that you expend calories instead of sorcery points.

Spontaneous Lipid-Generation: At 20th level you regain 16,000 calories just by taking a light nap (a short rest). You must be asleep for this to work.

Suddenly giant chickens become the most desirable enemy to hunt.
Okay great, we've tweaked the sorcerer class enough to work as a Lipimancer, now lets make their sub-class abilities:

Way of the Fat Mage: At 1st level you gain access to your calorie pool, but only for use in determining spell slot replenishment. You also get all of the tweaks to the sorcerer class as described above. In addition you  the following spells to your learn able spell list:
Spell Level
Swallow Whole
Vortex of Excess
Dimension of Flesh

Over Burn: At 6th level you can choose to spend more calories than you have stored, sending you into calorie debt. When you over draw this way you must make a DC 12+(1 per 4,000 calories expend bellow 0) Constitution save or fall unconscious and takes 1d6 Con damage. You can only be awoken if force fed enough food to get you back to positive calories, but the Con damage remains until magically restored or taking a week of downtime recovery and eating your full calories every day per point of Con damage.

So a 6th level Lipimancer has only 4,000 calories stored, but he really needs to cast one more 1st level spell. He expends the calories (8,000) to get the spell slot as a bonus action and then he rolls a DC 13 Constitution save. If he passes she acts normally, if she fails she falls into a low-energy coma state and take 1d6 Con damage. He can continue to over draw this way down to -24,000 calories (bottom cap mirrors top cap), at which point he falls into the coma state regardless, but she only takes Con damage if she fails her save.

14th Level: Leaving for player and I to work out.

18th Level:Leaving for player and I to work out.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Scottish Wedding Traditions

I was listening to the radio while driving for work (both things I do often), and there was this interview with crime novelist Catriona McPherson about her newest novel "Reek of Red Herrings", the latest in her series of murder novels. It was a nice interview, but what caught my attention was her attention to the peculiar wedding traditions of the Banffshire coast in Scotland, of which I had never heard.

Some juicy bits from the cold, grassy hills of Scotland:
  • The men fish all year so they hold all of their weddings at the same time as a community around Christmas time
  • Weddings last a week and there is a different event/activity every day
  • Generally they do a "handfasting" (a ceremony where the groom/bride's hands are tied together) as a pre-wedding, these aren't binding if they can't have kids, so they try out the marrige first by trying to have a kid. If the bride gets pregnant they get married, if not they court others.
  • The blackening of the bride, as the groom nails his bride's colors to his mast this makes her interesting to demons and other malevolent fey, so she has nasty stuff poured over her (rotten eggs in cabbage water for example) to dissuade them from taking her

So to just to throw out some ideas of how to use these:
  • The party shelters on an island from a storm, they get roped in as part of a wedding party in exchange for shelter. But! Body parts of one of the many grooms are found in fish barrels. Who done it? They have a week of weird traditions to deal with to solve the mystery before everyone goes back to fishing!
  • An ancient murder victim is found preserved in a peat bog, seemingly confirming that dear great-great-great-great-grandpa really was murdered, not just lost in the bog! Old tensions boiling over after the body is found, and the long dormant blood feud is renewed. Soon brides are killing their grooms and grannies are poisoning their grandchildren from the other side of the village feud! Can you solve the ancient murder and smooth the tensions in the village? Maybe a marriage would help!
  • The PCs badly misinterpret the social situation and they all get married! (Not unlike that Firefly episode...)
  • Actual demons and cruel fey want to take away the bride, have to fight them off while the really long and intricate wedding ceremony goes on.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Primal Paths

This is the first of my follow up posts to this project, today's class is the Barbarian. The goal of this project is to create a "minigame" of sorts for each sub-class for D&D 5e that allows the character to grow in ways not directly tied to their level progression and that makes each sub-class feel unique and interesting.

Path of the Berserker:

Original Idea: "Your rage and fury are your deepest joys, track the most amount of damage done in a single rage. With each new level of destruction you find deeper wells of joyous ruin." 
Fun fact, historically a berserker was just a champion or one who wore a bear or wolf skin shirt as a sign of rank. There was not indication they had anger issues. So this image is at least partially correct.

So the idea here is to keep track of the amount of damage done in a rage. Pretty simple stuff, and for players that want to play a Berserker I think a logical step.

After playing with AnyDice for a few minutes with an "average" berserker I came up with some appropriate thresholds (note the highest damage thresholds are only possible once Extra Attacks are earned at level 5, criticals occur, and/or they are buffed to the moon).

The real challenge is going to be finding enough things to kill/hit while raging to get to these high levels of damage. *Sigh* The challenges of the berserker.

75 damage/rage: +1 to hit while frenzied

100 damage/rage: +1 to damage while frenzied

150 damage/rageFast healing 2 while frenzied

200 damage/rageAdd half proficiency bonus to Unarmored Defense while frenzied

300 damage/rage: Additional +2 to hit while frenzied

400 damage/rage: Additional +2 to damage while frenzied

500 damage/rage: Fast healing 5 while frenzied

750 damage/rage: Add proficiency bonus to Unarmored Defense while frenzied

1000 damage/rage: Fast healing 10 while frenzied

Totem Warrior:

Original Idea: "You find your totem animal in a dream or an ecstatic trance over the heady fumes of a ritual fire. You and the animal meld in body and spirit, you are the primal incarnation of the bear, the eagle, the wolf, or some other. Track the number of animals you help, these must be the same as your totem animal(s)."
You can play that crazy hairy man the wandered out of the mountains asking "Say, have you seen any wolves in distress lately?"

You have chosen a totem animal for your barbarian for the sweet fighting buffs, but this is to make actually confront and interact with the animal that you so admire. Every adventure you go on is going to be like this:

Anyway, down to the juicy stuff. These things all count as helping your totem animal:
  • Freeing a bear from a bear trap
  • Raising orphaned hawk eggs
  • Leading a wolf pack out of the ranch lands to new grounds for safe hunting
But are they equivalent? I dunno, probably. So instead of accounting for exactly how many animals you actually save, (Are 9 eagles equal to 2 wolves? The math gets weird.) lets use an abstract rating of how helpful you are being to the abstract totemic ideal of the animals you help.

Rank 1: You help an individual of the animal group during a time of distress (ie nurse a she wolf during a risky child birth, help a lost faun find its mother, give a thirsty bear clean water after a wild fire)
Rank 2: You defend an animal in combat
Rank 3: You help a community of animals during a time of distress (ie lead the wolf pack out of newly settled ranch land for safer hunting, you teach a momma bear and her cubs to collect honey and forage for a season)
Rank 4: You defend a community of animals in combat
Rank 5: You help the whole of the animal kind (Super amorphous, DM discretion)

So you can kind of see the magnitude of help that each rank merits. Lets say you once helped a whole wolf pack through the winter by bringing them meat periodically (Rank 3) and you find a wolf about to be killed by an angry shepherd and you save it by fighting him off (Rank 2), that's nice but it wont help you get to Rank 4, you gotta do something really special for that.

If you have more than one totem animal you can gain favor with each of the animals you have a totem of.

Bonuses from each Rank and Animal:
Rank 1:
All: The animal you save becomes a close friend and ally, appearing at most once per session at an opportune moment to help you. (Example: the cub you rescued from drowning wanders out of the woods just in time to give you a boost up over the stone wall) Mechanically this means that if you can explain how the animal can help you, once per session your animal friend can give you advantage on one skill or ability check. You can have many animal friends, but only use this ability once per day.

Rank 2:
Wolf: Your sense of smell has gotten very good. You can now track by scent as a wolf could. You have disadvantage against smell based attacks.
Eagle: You gain a piercing scream that gives you advantage on Intimidation checks with civilized people or advantage with Persuasion checks with birds (player must actually scream for this to work).
Bear: You gain the ability to eat completely omnivorously. You can eat anything and anything you find, including raw meat, grass, branches, bees, moss, and mushrooms. This lets you get advantage on your save against ingested poisons.

Rank 3:
Wolf: Can cast Conjure Animals as a 3rd level spell as a ritual once a day, can only summon wolves or wolf like animals (can use dire wolves or re-skinned other beasts as appropriate).
Eagle: Can cast Conjure Animals as a 3rd level spell as a ritual once a day, can only summon eagles or wolf like animals (can use giant eagles or re-skinned other beasts as appropriate).
Bear: Can cast Conjure Animals as a 3rd level spell as a ritual once a day, can only summon bears and bear like animals (can just use the different bears in the MM or re-skinned other beasts as appropriate).

Rank 4:
Wolf: In the Spirit Realm you can choose to take the shape of a Dire Wolf with HD equal to your level.
Eagle: In the Spirit Realm you can choose to take the shape of a Giant Eagle with HD equal to your level.
Bear:In the Spirit Realm you can choose to take the shape of a Polar Bear with HD equal to your level.

Rank 5:
Wolf: Can cast Conjure Animals as a 5th level spell as a ritual once a day, can only summon wolves or wolf like animals (can use dire wolves or re-skinned other beasts as appropriate).
Eagle: Can cast Conjure Animals as a 5th level spell as a ritual once a day, can only summon eagles or wolf like animals (can use giant eagles or re-skinned other beasts as appropriate).
Bear: Can cast Conjure Animals as a 5th level spell as a ritual once a day, can only summon bears and bear like animals (can just use the different bears in the MM or re-skinned other beasts as appropriate).


Are they balanced? Probably not, but what ever, its going to take a Berserker a long time to get all of that damage in one frenzy. It does incentive-ize combat in a perhaps undesirable way.

The Totem Warrior I feel like better exemplifies a more whimsical and less combat oriented path, which is the goal for this series of posts. But it also more complex and unwieldy.

Look for a post on Bards next!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Tattoos as Unarmored Defense

The Rock voiced the big guy and it was actually pretty good

I watched the movie Moana and it was very pretty looking and fun.

It also got me thinking about how cool Polynesian tattoo culture is. It's a nice half way between geometric and natural art. So let's use sweet tattoos as a stand in for armor, because a big muscely guy with a ton of tattoos is protected by his shocking look as much as by his ferocious speed.

(Some other bloggers have talked about this kind of idea before. Arnold K's fashion idea mostly)

Your tattoos only protect you when they are uncovered, so you gotta run around showing a lot of skin so everyone knows how cool you are. You get the basic (+1 AC) tattoo for free if you are a barbarian or a monk using the unarmored defense class option in addition to the Con/Wis and Dex bonuses. Other classes can use the tattoos instead of armor, AC=10+Tattoo bonus+ Dex bonus.

You can get more tattoos, but you'll need better and better tattooists for the new ones to be effective, and finding a grand master tattooist in Ánemos is hard, and the right to be tattooed by one is worth shedding blood over. The new tattoos must represent one of your great deeds.

Let's see a price chart. Tattoos are never going to be quite as effective as plate, but they don't weigh anything, you just gotta scrap off that mud and show em off. You also get an extra bonus to intimidation/persuasion type rolls corresponding to the bonus of your tattoos. This represents the fear and respect your mighty tattoos instill in strangers.

Tattoo Bonus
Tattooist Level
Cost (Drachma/Silver Pieces)
Time to Tattoo
1 week
2 weeks
1 month
2 months
4 months

You have to get tattooed with every successive level of tattoo, any Expert tattooist worth their ink will laugh you out of their studio if you show up clean and blank as a baby.

There are of course magical tattoos you can get, perhaps finding the design in ruins or tattooed onto the corpse of a long dead Sea King. You may even be given one as a reward. Magical tattoos is probably a blog post itself.