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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Dungeon Master Basic Rules - Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

I hear that Wizards of the Coast has put up the basic rules for Dungeon Masters. Seeing how this is a blog by a Dungeon Master for Dungeon Masters, I think we need to probe it thoroughly.

They also updated the players' basic rules pdf. That was fast. They added a few spells, a background, the Forgotten Realms gods and the five factions in the Adventurers' League.

The list of the gods takes up an entire page. I'd prefer a small list, as most players aren't going to remember more than 3 of them anyway. I understand that the Realms has a massive pantheon so I guess this shouldn't be so shocking.

I really like the little silhouettes they put on the character sheets. It's not a full-fledged piece of art like a Dungeon Crawl Classics character sheet, but it is a cool touch.

All right, enough of that player stuff. Let's check out the Dungeons & Dragons DM Basic Rules. It is completely free, found right here.

The thing jumps right into discussion about monsters. Monster hit points is partly determined by size, which is in this table here called "Hit Dice by Size". A gargantuan creature gets d20 hit points per hit die! That is crazy.

I do not like the "average HP per die". Do you really have to put the "1/2" there? Can't we just simplify it? This is the basic rules, strip it down for the love of gawd.

Monsters have Challenge Ratings. A monster with a challenge level 3 is an appropriate challenge for 3rd level characters. The challenge ratings actually go all the way up to level 30.

Looking through the monsters, it appears that 4 zombies are a challenge for level one PCs. A Manticore is a challenge for level 3 PCs. A frost giant is a challenge for level 8 PCs... I'll say. It swings twice with +9 to hit and does 25 damage!
 
There's a box about one of the most historically headachey rules in RPG history: Grappling. Escape a grapple with Athletics/Acrobatics. The DC will be in the stat block. If it is not, then it is 10+ the monster's STR modifier.

There's these things called Lair Actions. Certain legendary monsters have them. On initiative count 20, the creature can use a lair action option.

I was going to list some examples, but there is only one monster in the entire document with Lair Actions:

Adult Red Dragon: Magma erupts from a point in the ground within 120 feet of the dragon. Make a DEX save or take some hefty damage! That is so awesome, I can't even...

I don't want to list the rest, just in case there are players reading. No sense in spoiling it! But that's the basic idea for Lair Actions. That is a really great idea.

The rest of the document is just monster stats. It's a very simple pdf, not much to it.

The monsters are organized alphabetically. They are not grouped by type, like in some previous editions. In 4e, dragons were all listed under the "Dragons" entry. In this edition, "Adult Red Dragon" is in the letter "A" section. Seems like it might cause confusion. I guess there's pluses and minuses to any way of organizing them.

There are stats for mundane animals, even camels and deer. Dinosaurs are in here, too, under their actual dino-names.
 
Fun Facts:

- Monsters that can burrow cannot burrow through solid rock.
- You don't have to see someone to communicate with them via telepathy.
- A monster with multi-attack can only make a single melee attack for an opportunity attack.
- Monsters with bows are assumed to have 2d10 arrows with them (I'll just say they have 10.. yeesh)

This is basically a pdf full of monster stats, with an emphasis on basic animals like dogs and elk. Works for me!

I am really happy about this new edition. I hope it is well-received. I guess we will see soon enough.

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