Sunday, May 17, 2015

Zeitgeist: The Gears of Revolution session 1

I will attempt to avoid spoilers just in case anyone ever wants to run this AP, which I highly recommend. Expect some to get in there despite my efforts.

So, some madness overtook me and I decided to translate the Pathfinder version of Zeitgeist to 5e. Zeitgeist is an excellent adventure path from En World that takes your characters from 1st to 20th level. Lot's of good stuff. Half my players have defected from Pathfinder to 5e, so I thought why not give it a go.

I've only finished the first adventure. Fortunately, some swell folks in the En World forum had already taken the time to translate the theme packages in the player's guide into 5e backgrounds. They worked out quite well, and took a bunch of work off of me.

We had our first session today. I'm not a game designer or 5e expert, but so far it seems that the translations work pretty well. One thing I've noticed is that it seems pretty easy to disarm someone, possibly too easy. It's one of the optional rules in the DMG. Handily enough, the DMG also has rules for guns, and guns are pretty common in this setting. The basic gist of things is that the AP takes place in a setting where the industrial revolution has finally made its way into a fantasy setting. It's actually pretty awesome.

If you don't know, the PCs start out as members of the Royal Homeland Constabulary. Kind of like an old timey Secret Service. They have taken the place of the plucky adventurers that people used to go to for taking care of trouble. Zeitgeist starts out with the party doing crowd duty looking for possible miscreants at the unveiling of the Coaltongue, the newest, bestest, first steam powered ship in the naval fleet. The party tackled this job well enough, and made all the roles they needed to to ID the miscreants in question. And that's when things kind of ground to a halt for a few minutes.

My party didn't seem very comfortable with the idea that they had authority. Or at least they didn't know what to do with it. They just set to watching the suspects, waiting for them to do something. Only problem is, if it reaches the point where the suspects are actually causing a problem, then the party has already failed in its mission. I actually had a NPC police officer try to prod the paladin into action, who simply responded by being snarky and annoyed and telling the officer to go arrest the man if he wanted. So the officer did just that, and a fight broke out.

I won't go into details, but it was kind of a messy fight, though no one died. It would have been a very bad thing if this fight had broken out in front of the nation's king. But it all worked out, though the paladin and the officer with him did both get a serious beating (being disarmed is a bitch). Fast forward through a party full of nobles and industrialists and onto the ship they went.

Needless to say, things happened. My player's initial confusion as to what was happening totally made sense. Once they realized their initial thoughts were wrong, they kind of got stuck again. Granted, the session ended before they had time to fully process the situation because much of their attention was focused on beating down the meanest halfling they've ever seen. This AP is pretty different from the usual things your players will likely have encountered. They're police, with authority, and paperwork. They can't just go all murder hobo and expect to get anywhere. There are clues to follow, NPCs to talk to, and quite a lot of non-combat encounters. I think my players are going to have to take a little time to adjust to a whole new approach to things.

Someone I know who is running this AP in Pathfinder has expressed skepticism that this will work out. He seems to think that at higher levels things are going to get screwy. I haven't played with a party past 4th level yet, so I guess time will tell. 1st level is working out pretty well so far, even if some of my conversions may not be exactly right. Anyway, let the investigation continue!

Friday, May 8, 2015

My very own 5e race: The Treeling

Someone was talking about his girlfriend wanting to play a plant race in his 5e game. So it caused a bit of random inspiration and this is the result, slightly modified based on feedback from reddit.

Picture copyright of izabeaubo over on Deviant Art.


Treelings are beings of the forest, who appear to be small trees that have grown into the semblance of the human form. They delight in nature, but also in music and artistry. When provoked, they can also be tireless defenders of their forest home, and implacable enemies.

Slender But Sturdy
Treelings stand anywhere from 6 to 7 feet in height. Though slender, they are quite sturdy, with their bark-like hide giving them additional protection against possible injury. Despite their slender build, treelings can be quite heavy, ranging in weight from 200 to 250 pounds.
They have clearly identifiable features, with black eyes and slender branches growing from their heads in the resemblance of hair. Their features are typically serene, projecting a sense of patience and tranquility.

Timeless Tranquility
Treelings live as long as elves, and have some similar views on things as a result. They rarely get excited or rush to action. They take their time deciding on matters of importance. They value peace, and will frequently simply withdraw from an aggressor, confident that they will outlive the invader. They can be provoked, however, and when they are moved to war, their fury can be devastating.

Woodland Realms
Treelings live deep in the forest, rarely having a need to venture forth from their homes. They don’t have the same need for housing as other races, and what structures they do create are grown from trees carefully cultivated into the forms they desire.
They get on well with elves as well as the fairies of the forest. They appreciate what the arcane can do, but tend to favor nature magic. While they do have a small need for food, they are very selective and careful in their cultivation of the bounty of their homes.

Most treelings are content to remain in their forested domain. Some, however, do experience wanderlust and a desire to see new places and things. Sometimes a lone treeling is an orphan seeking out more of its kind.
Treelings rarely feel strongly about any particular moral cause, though the obviously destructive can drive them into opposition. They don’t particularly value money, and when adventuring, they are more likely to choose items for their beauty or utility over their monetary value.

Treeling Names
Treelings don’t seem to feel the need for names when they are interacting with each other. As a result, they tend to be known to members of other races by nicknames. There seems to be little difference in the nicknames used by male and female treelings, and in fact, it can be difficult to determine if a particular treeling is male or female.

Treeling Traits

Boosted Ability Scores. Your Constitution score increases by 1, and your Wisdom score increases by 2.

Age. Treelings age at a rate similar to elves, reaching maturity at about 100 years and living to 750 years or possibly more.

Alignment. Though tending towards benevolent rather than malevolent, Treelings do not usually think of terms of good and evil, law and chaos. As a result, Treelings are most often neutral in alignment. Their ideas of morality are typically shaped by a very practical viewpoint.

Size. Treelings range in height from 6 to 7 feet. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 ft.

Natural Armor. Due to their bark-like skin, Treelings have a +1 bonus to Armor Class.

Photosynthesis. Treelings are able to use photosynthesis to meet some of their sustenance needs. As a result, Treelings do not need to eat food provided they have access to sunlight for at least an hour every day, two hours in overcast conditions. However, they require twice as much water as other races.

Berries. If your water needs are met, then you may cast Goodberry once per day.

Forest Camouflage. You have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks in forested terrain.

Tree Shape. Once per day, you may take the shape of a medium sized tree for an unlimited duration. While in tree form, even the closest inspection will not reveal you are anything other than a sapling. You are able to observe you surroundings as normal, your base armor class becomes 16, but your speed drops to 0 and attacks have advantage against you. Any items you wear or carry merge with your form when you change and do not function while merged.

Taking Root. Treelings must spend 24 hours per month in tree form so that their roots may take up nutrients from the soil. These hours do not need to be consecutive, but must be in hourly increments.

Speak with Plants. Upon reaching 5th level, you may cast Speak with Plants once per day. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for this spell.

Languages. You can speak, read and write Common and Sylvan.

Edit: I've changed photosynthesis and added taking root based on feedback I've gotten.