Monthly Archives: October 2014

On the Road – Emmerik’s Report

The squad, having taken a good night’s rest, left Greenest to follow Leosin.  Pry had left separately – and secretively – to hunt the escaped dragon-cult leader.

Following the trade route north the squad passed through the farmed countryside, stopping at farmsteads along the way to sleep in the hay barn. The group entered the town of Berdusk where they found signs of Pry’s passing – he had been handing-out crudely-drawn “Wanted” posters for the cultist leader.  When the group got to the city of Scornubl they found more of Pry’s handiwork – there in the square was the cultist leader, pinned to a tree with an arrow and a note stating “Got her”.

After a few more days of uneventful journey the squad arrived in Eltuvel, a walled city on the riverbank with much barge traffic.  Inquiring with the city guard they learned that the Unther had set-up the Order of the Gauntlet at a tavern called “The Black Antlers”.  The squad found Leosin being inconspicuous amongst a bustle of burly, thick-armed and hairy-chested drinking louts (representing a number of various holy orders) and they collected the sum previously promised to them – paid in platinum coins.

Before any other business with Unther could be attended to, though, there were various “rituals” to be done.  Dag ingratiated himself to the paladins, besting them at games of arm-wrestling and axe-throwing (and Faurgar made a good sum of cash betting on his companion’s prowess).  Starag showed himself less than capable, though, when it came time to race horses through the city.

The following morning the squad accepted a mission from Unther to travel to the city of Baulder’s Gate and there meet up with an informant named Ackyn Selebon, who would give the squad information about which caravan the dragon cultists would be using to transport their captured booty from their rampage in Greenest and its surrounding communities.  The Order opened up its armory for some re-equipping of the squad before sending them down-river on a barge.

Caelum, who had been sick for the duration of the journey so far (although the other squad members think he was faking it so he could spend time, undisturbed, to devote to the dragon poetry found in the caves), turned out to be “sea-sick”.

The barge was captained by a veteran of the river – one who knew all the sand bars and snags but wasn’t foolhardy with his speed.  Fearing attacks from river pirates the squad set up a watch outside of the small shack that was built onto the deck of the barge.

This caution was not unrewarded – on the first watch Emmerik noticed some humanoid figures creeping up onto the deck.  A group of lizardmen, led by one of their shaman, had boarded the ship for some nefarious reason.  A swift and brutal melee ensued, in which the sick Caelum was bitten by many snakes magically summoned by the shaman.  One of the lizardmen was thrown from the barge by Starag’s magic while the others were slain under the assault of Faurgar, Dag, and Emmerik.

The captain wasn’t one to spend the remainder of the night anchored in place after that assault – he explained that there were likely additional parties of raiders out.  So, running cautiously at night, the barge proceeded downriver for the rest of the night and the better part of the next day.  Nearing dusk the captain docked at an unnamed village on the riverbank for some relative safety.

At the village’s inn the squad learned that one of the farmers – Darren Darren – had run afoul of a traveling wizard who had cursed his farm with a series of curses, culminating in the invasion of huge insects.  The hale members – Emmerik, Dag, Faurgar, and Starag – made their way to the farm.  At the farm they fought several Anhkegs before discovering that a magical “beacon” was causing seismic vibrations that attracted them.  The group had quite the puzzle as to how to deal with the beacon since the object seemed quite indestructible and, wherever it was taken to, the anhkegs would surely follow.  At last the squad took the beacon to a nearby quarry – trailed by a large number of the creatures – where they threw the beacon, to attract the anhkegs away from the village and its farms.

The squad then returned to the nameless village to rest before continuing on their journey.

The Dragon Hatchery – Emmerik’s Notes

After the squad had safely returned to Greenest with the monk Leosin and villagers-turned-temporary-slaves Ned and Paul the group was rewarded by the Governor and took a few days to rest and recuperate from the hectic 48 hours previous.  Emmerik and his companions also used their time to practice their skills and learn a few new tricks.

Having made a full recovery from the injuries he had suffered at the hands of the Dragon Cult, Leosin told his rescuers that he would be leaving to meet with an associate of his – a paladin who belonged to the Order of the Gauntlet – in a city to the north to share what information he had already gathered on the Cult. However Leosin asked the squad if it could return to the cultists’ camp and recover any information possible about the army’s next move; the squad readily accepted the charge (it didn’t hurt that there was a promise made of a cash payment when the group delivered the information).

Donning the assortment of cultist robes the squad members had acquired in their earlier encounters with cult members the squad made directly for the location of the cultist army’s encampment but, when they arrived, they found the camp nearly deserted and destroyed.  In every direction from the camp small parties (with roughly a score of soldiers each) had issued forth, after having burned their former facilities.  Only a few of the hunters remained, setting up their camp near the mouth of a cave (which had been under heavy guard during the squad’s earlier visit – it reputedly being the headquarters of the Black Wyrmspeaker and housing dragon hatchlings).  With their disguises the squad openly moved into the cave to find what they could.

Shortly after entering the cave, which had been worked to create a subterranean complex, Pry was knocked unconscious during an ambush by cultist fanatics – but Starag magically healed him.  The cleric then proceeded to blunder around which resulted in the squad suffering attack from swarms of bats and stirges, but the parasites were defeated and the bats driven off without causing any serious damage, which Starag used his magic powers to heal.

Then passing through a series of traps the squad came upon a room with a number of kobolds – they had most likely laid the traps.  A brief fight ensued, with Dag hewing many of the mongrels.

With the trap-makers dealt with the squad moved down a flight of stairs and came to a large room, with a shrine dedicated to the evil five-headed dragon goddess – Tiamat.  Guarding the shrine was the half-dragon general, Cyanwrath, and two berserker bodyguards of his.  Itching to repay his loss in their earlier duel, Dag rushed into combat against Cyanwrath while Caelum and Starag used their magical abilities to hamper the general and Pry moved into position to aid Dag’s assault (and take a few shots at the general’s back). Emmerik took a stance to engage the berserkers and keep them off Faurgar while the sorcerer unleashed a torrent of energy attacks against them. Eventually the general fell, and the squad finished off the berserkers. Investigating the shrine Caelum had a premonition of danger, but Emmerik triggered a trap of poison gas when he moved a lockbox and the group retreated up the stairs from whence they had come, all except Starag, who pushed further into the complex.

After the poison subsided the squad caught up with Starag, who had discovered a room with dragon eggs guarded by a pair of dog-like lizard beasts, some kobolds, and a roper (looking like a stalagmite).  After defeating the kobolds and dog/lizards in combat the group was able to convince the roper that they would bring it more food if it would allow them to leave alive.  After an agreement was reached the squad proceeded to destroy the dragon eggs and exited quickly.

With the rest of the compound explored the squad climbed up a ladder and into what appeared to be the room of a high-ranking cultist (the garments found indicate it may have even housed the cult’s black wyrmspeaker).  Proceeding to the next chamber the squad encountered a group of cultists, prepared to face an attack.  While the cultists were mostly made quick work of, one of their number, protected by magical wards, guarded a passage down which the cultists’ leader had fled.  By the time that guard was finished off the leader had long since fled from the cavern and had stolen a horse from the hunters’ camp.

So, with a bitter taste in their mouths, the squad returned, once again, to Greenest before leaving to bring their information to Leosin’s paladin associate.

The Most Skilled Man in the (D&D) World

There are a lot of discussions out there about character optimization, but I got curious about how much I could optimize a character based on skills.  Most normal builds get a pretty limited selection of skills, so you have to go to some weird lengths to really get a big array of skills.

 

Here are all of the possible sources of skill/tool proficiencies that I’ve been able to find:

Races

Dwarf – Choice of Smith’s Tools, Brewer’s Supplies, or Mason’s Tools.

Elf (High) – Perception.

Human (Variant) – One skill of your choice. One feat of your choice (see below).

Gnome (Rock) – Expertise in some History checks.

Half-Elf – Two skills of your choice.

Half-Orc – Intimidation.

 

Classes

Barbarian – Two from Animal Handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Nature, Perception, and Survival.

Bard (Lore) – Any three skills, any three musical instruments.  College of Lore (any 3 skills) at Level 3.  Expertise at levels 3 and 10.

Cleric (Knowledge) – Two from History, Insight, Medicine, Persuasion, and Religion.  Two languages of your choice.  Two from Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion (with expertise).

Druid – Herbalism Kit.  Two from Arcana, Animal Handling, Insight, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Religion, and Survival.

Fighter – Two from Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Athletics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, and Survival. Champion gets Remarkable Athlete and 7.  Battle Master gets Student of War at 3.

Monk – Two from Acrobatics, Athletics, History, Insight, Religion, and Stealth.  One artisan’s tools or musical instrument.

Paladin – Two from Athletics, Insight, Intimidation, MEdicine, Persuasion, and Religion.

Ranger – Three from Animal Handling, Athletics, Insight, Investigation, Nature, Perception, Stealth, and Survival.

Rogue (Assassin)– Four from Acrobatics, Athletics, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Investigation, Perception, Performance, Persuasion, Sleight of Hand, Stealth.  Thieves Tools.  Expertise at 1st and 6th levels.  Poisoner’s kit and disguise kit at 3rd level.

Sorcerer – Two from Arcana, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Persuasion, and Religion.

Warlock – Two from Arcana, Deception, History, Intimidation, Investigation, Nature, and Religion.

Wizard – Two from Arcana, History, Insight, Investigation, Medicine, and Religion.

 

Multiclassing

Most classes don’t grant you additional skill/tool proficiencies when you multiclass into them.  These are the few that do.

Bard – One skill of your choice.  One musical instrument of your choice.

Ranger – One skill from the class’s skill list.

Rogue – One skill from the class’s skill list.  Thieves tools.

Cleric (Knowledge) – You don’t get any skills for multiclassing into Cleric, but if you choose the Knowledge domain you still get your choice of two from Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion (with expertise) as a domain feature.

 

Backgrounds

All the backgrounds are designed to give you a combination of four languages, tool proficiencies, and skill proficiencies.  Backgrounds with no languages will provide more skill proficiencies.

Acolyte – Two languages.  Insight, Religion.

Charlatan – Deception, Slight of Hand.  Disguise Kit, Forgery Kit.

Criminal – Deception, Stealth.  One gaming set, thieves tools.

Entertainer – Acrobatics, Performance.  Disguise Kit, one musical instrument.

Folk Hero – Animal Handling, Survival.  One artisan’s tools, Vehicles (Land).

Guild Artisan – Insight, Persuasion.  One artisan’s tools.  One language.

Hermit – Medicine, Religion.  Herbalism Kit.  One language.

Noble – History, Persuasion.  One type of gaming set.  One language.

Outlander – Athletics, Survival.  One musical instrument.  One language.

Sage – Arcana, History.  Two languages.

Sailor – Athletics, Perception.  Navigator’s tools, Vehicles (water).

Soldier – Athletics, Intimidation.  One type of gaming set, Vehicles (land).

Urchin – Sleight of Hand, Stealth.  Disguise Kit, Thieves’ Tools.

 

Feats

Many feats give you circumstantial bonuses to certain skill checks, but only one gives you flat-out proficiency in additional skills.

Skilled – Three skills or tools of your choice.

 

 

Given all of those options, this is the best skill-master that I’ve been able to come up with.  You could probably tweak the state placements and choice of expertise skills depending on your personal preferences, but I think that this is a good starting point for a highly skilled PC.

1st Level – Human (Variant) Rogue 1: Proficiency in 10 skills, Expertise in 2 skills, Proficiency in 3 tools

3rd Level – Human (Variant) Rogue 1, Bard 1, Cleric (Knowledge) 1: Proficiency in 14 skills, Expertise in 4 skills, Proficiency in 3 tools and 1 musical instrument.  Access to the Guidance cantrip.

5th Level – Human (Variant) Rogue 1, Bard 3, Cleric (Knowledge) 1: 16 skills, Expertise in 6 skills, Proficiency in 3 tools and 1 musical instrument.  Access to the Guidance cantrip.

Here’s an example of the “Most Skilled Man in the World” at Level 5.