Two New Options: Notice and Heroics

Neither of these should be a big shock, but I am implementing two new items in the DM’s toolkit. The rest of the docs will be updated shortly as will the character sheet. – A

Notice

This number is for every character. It is set default to the Character’s Wisdom (with the Ability Focus if focused in Wisdom) plus 10.

ex: Brother Eisenhorne is a 3rd level cleric with a +3 in Wisdom. His Notice would be set to: 15 (wisdom + focus +10)

The DM will use this number as the DC for any checks which the character is not specifically looking for. This includes: hearing noises, seeing hiding monsters, as a DC for surprise, spotting hidden doors or noticing something that would normally miss. Players can still actively search as normal which may result in better scores.

Heroics

Each session to which player attends earns them 1 heroic point that remains with the character. Extra heroics can be awarded by the DM for the playing doing something special or innovative in the game. I’ve been know to award these for a great plan, being in character, and even for and awesome battle result.

The players can then choose to trade there Heroics for the following:

  • Before rolling, add advantage.
  • After any dice roll, force a reroll and keep the new roll result
  • An additional action in a combat round

Player’s characters should use these points at times of drama (or whenever they want), but we’ve found that they add a great BOOM just at the right moment. Something like that critical attack that slays the dragon or talking their way out of trouble with the city guard.

Playing Dungeons and Dragons with Kids

I was recently invited to my kids 3rd grade classroom to demonstrate  Dungeons and Dragons. I knew that 5th edition was not going to be a good option, as I only had about an hour to teach and run the game, and I needed to rethink how I was going to present the information to the kids so that they would understand and be ready to play. I run across the same issue with adults who are new to the game as well. They don’t understand the concept of an open world that they are in control of. Here’s how I went about it.

SimpleDnD System

The SimpleDnD system is designed to be consistent and simple, it’s in the name, once I explained the key concept, roll d20, add modifiers and go. The kids rapidly picked up on how to do things, and unlike Pathfinder or D&D 5e, there was not complexity on how to do things. Nothing had to be dumbed down or changed to accommodate the 3rd graders at all. What I especially like about the system is going from SimpleDnD to Pathfinder or D&D 5e is a straight upgrade.

Pre-generated Characters

I printed out the provided pre-generated characters and provided them to the group playing. I introduced the characters in a very clear and descriptive way. Something like, “This is the Elf Wizard. How many of you know what an elf is? Anyone seen the Lord of the Rings?” Once the kids heard that they were all super excited about the prospect of playing an Elf. I only had to run through the things that made each character special, like the elf being able to cast a few spells. Once I introduced everyone, I let the kids choose which character they wanted to be.

Adventure Time!

The adventure I brought with me was an introductory adventure, Ruins of Castle Mystamere, from the 1983 red box that was updated for the SimpleDnD system. It had pauses and tips on when to ask the party to do things and the kids ate it up. Once they understood how to move around, interact and fight they were having a great time. While they started out rushing into things, their attitudes changed once they encountered something dangerous and started getting hurt or put to sleep.

Team Work and in Character Actions

As a Dungeon Master, I have a story I want to tell, but at the same time I really pushed the kids to discuss their options and then have one child tell me what the party would do. By forcing them to talk through where they were going or what they wanted to do next, it help to eliminate a lot of confusion.

Individually when they would ask questions like, can my character do this or that, and I would put it back on them to be the character and try. Always pushing them to see the game through their characters eyes, “What would an elf do?!?” Ultimately they need to try to do things, I can always say “No”.

Teach Feedback

After the game the teacher was extremely excited about the outcome. She commented on how the kids worked together, how they troubleshooted issues and the choices they made in the game. She also very much enjoyed the way the kids creatively made the story their own and how it used the things they were learning (story writing, math and critical thinking) in a practical application.

Conclusion

I highly recommend you start role-playing games with your kids starting as soon as they can do basic math. It helps to build their imagination, confidence and critical thinking skills. The teacher even came up to me after the demo and was talking about how she would have reacted to situations and how exciting it was. The class was really split 50/50 on being interested, but those that were talked about it for days after I came in. I have been invited back to run another game, hopefully it will be the start of something special for my kids.

Encumbrance Rules and Bookkeeping

I recently read a blog post about how D&D at it’s core was a bookkeeping game. I really never gave much thought to encumbrance or arrows or torches, but the idea stuck with me. I don’t think I ever considered what would happen if a human ran out of torches in a dark dungeon, what a divine idea.

Encumbrance

SimpleDnD already lists the weights of equipment, armor and weapons, so adding a weight limit is easy.

Max weight carried is Strength +4 (so a -3 would become +1) x 25 lbs.

Example: A cavalier with a strength of +3 would be able to carry 175 lbs.

Example: A wizard with a strength of -3 would be able to carry 25 lbs.

Encumbrance on Moving

Movement is reduced to 1/2 when carrying more than half of the character’s max weight.

Movement and Timekeeping

The speed listed on each race type is the distance a character can move unencumbered per turn (10 minutes). So if the characters moves 3 squares in a dungeon with 10′ x 10′ grid squares, then for every 3 squares, tick off a turn.

Searching a room also takes time, 1 turn per 30′ x 30′ space.

Hands and Holding

Characters have two hands. Period. They may not carry a torch and a sword and a shield. This goes for large sacks, rope, treasures, etc. Torches carried into combat have a DC 10 vs DEX chance of going out in the event of a successful attack on the carrier.

Treasure Weight

A single coin of any type weighs one ounce. So there are 16 coins in 1 pound.

140 carats of gems = 1 pound. A typical gem of 100gp should weigh about 1/10 lb

Torches

Torches are another wrinkle in the bookkeeping, they only burn for 1 hour (6 turns). That is an insanely short time period. I can see a torch burning out just as combat begins. If a torch burns out, apply the Special Attack Condition Blindness to all characters who are not longer in torchlight.

Furthermore, torches (and light spells) only illuminate 60 feet around them, anyone outside of that range would also suffer from blindness. Especially true if someone splits the party.

And what if, just what if, it is windy?!? It’s not uncommon for gusts of wind to flow down large corridors in caves, is it?

What bookkeeping items add flavor to your games? How would you change these? Post a comment below!

Random Dungeon Generators

You know I love to keep things simple around here *wink*. While this doesn’t alway happen, I do want to play all the time. So to keep the game flowing I propose using a random dungeon to get the level started. You’d still need to read through it, add monster stats and story elements, but overall it is an excellent starting point.

The one I really enjoy is the DonJon one here. I use the Pathfinder version, it adds some nice traps and is pre-baked with DC checks that work out of the box. So if you are looking for a way to DM and do it in a quick way, make sure you add DonJon to your bookmarks!

Check out the Crypt of the Everflame SimpleDnD conversion post for details on how to use Pathfinder DC checks in SimpleDnD.

Which tools do you use to quickly generate a dungeon? Post a comment below!

Sample Generated Dungeon

To create these 4 levels took me about 5 minutes. It’s like 4 different game sessions worth of material.

Adventure Hook

While eating at Local Tavern, the PCs learn that Bad Guy has stolen Very Important Thing and taken it to an Abandoned Keep. If they return the item, Helpful NPC will reward them with Glorious Treasure

Abandoned Keep – Level 1

Keep Basement – Level 2

Keep Catacombs – Level 3

Keep Sub Catacombs – Level 4

Druid

Draft class under development.

Laurelinde – Elf Druid by GoddessVirage

Druids share a belief in the fundamentally spiritual nature of life and avoid choosing any one conception of Deity, believing that by its very nature this is unknowable by the mind. All Druids sense Nature as divine or sacred. Every part of nature is sensed as part of the great web of life, with no one creature or aspect of it having supremacy over any other. In doing this they pull their magical powers from the very living world around them.

Ability Focus: Wisdom

Hit Points: d6

Restrictions: Druids cannot use any metal weapon or armor

Special: Spell Casting for spells, scroll down for druid spells.

Special: At 4th level Druids can shape shift into the form of an animal once per day. Druid players should pick one animal and that will always be their form. This shifted animal will be roughly the size of the character even if the animal is tiny.

Special: Druids CANNOT read magic. Their power comes from their close connection to the earth.

Special: Druids can Turn or Befriend Animals

Turn or Befriend Animals

Much like a cleric, the Druid can repel or befriend animals. When an animal is encountered, the character should roll at d20 and all their Wisdom (and focus) vs a DC of 16 plus the number animals Hit Dice. If the result is equal or greater the animals are turned away or calmed. Magical animals (like owlbears, griffins, etc) add +2 to the DC of the roll. If the roll exceeds the required DC by 5 the animal can be befriended. Calmed animals will not interact with the druid and will calmly move away from the party. Befriended animals on the other hand will follow the druid, guarding and assisting within its capabilities so long as the druid remains in the general vicinity of its normal lair or range.

Druid Spells

Zero level spells

Create Water – Creates 2 gallons/level of pure water.
Detect Poison – Detects poison in one creature or object.
Know Direction – You discern north.
Spark – Ignites flammable objects.

1st level spells

Alter Winds
Detect Animals or Plants
Entangle
Faerie Fire
Hide from Animals
Keen Senses
Pass without Trace
Read Weather
Speak with Animals

2nd level spells

Barkskin
Chill Metal
Control Vermin
Elemental Speech
Flame Blade
Fog Cloud
Hold Animal
Soften Earth and Stone
Spider Climb

3rd level spells

Burrow
Call Lightning
Daylight
Diminish Plants
Dominate Animal
Fungal Infestation
Meld into Stone
Plant Growth
Speak with Plants
Spit Venom
Thorny Entanglement
Vermin Shape I
Water Breathing

4th level spells

Thunderstorm
Air Walk
Ball Lightning
Cape of Wasps
Control Water
Flame Strike
Grove of Respite
Ice Storm
Slowing Mud
Thorn Body
Touch of Slime
Volcanic Storm