Save Versus

RPG observations, wisdom and tools from an early adopter

The Rise of Tiamat – The Conclusion of the Tyranny of Dragons Campaign

tiamatNote: For those of you that pretend that you don’t read anything online about adventures you’re playing, this is the “required” alert that this post contains spoilers. So be prepared to take notes. If you are the only person left in the universe that actually avoids information about adventures you’re an active player in, I’m going to talk about the content of the adventure so leave now.

It’s been a while since my last post but I completed my Tyranny of Dragons campaign last night. What a ride it was. This campaign started out as a “public play” group but by the end, it felt more like a “home” campaign in many ways. Regular players and a lot of added content will do that. Here’s a synopsis of each chapter and some highlights.

To start, I had a group of seven players. The party consisted of two clerics, a bard, a sorcerer, wizard, monk and a paladin.

Episode 1: Council of Waterdeep 

This chapter I merged into the next episode as who wants to spend three and a half hours in what basically amounts to a meeting. Not this DM. So I introduced all the important parties at the meeting where after some discussion, they “deputized” the group  and sent them on their first mission; the rescue of Maccath. This chapter is clearly necessary for building story and background but I’m more interested in action than debate and exposition so I blew through this chapter in about an hour. I made up some character standees to give the players a visual of each councilor and that seemed helpful in keeping all the names straight. It’s a huge information dump session.

Episode 2: The Sea of Moving Ice

Heading right out from the council, the group took to ship and the search for Oyaviggaton, where Maccath had last been seen. Finding the glacier after some brief encounters on the ice, the group interacted with the villagers, found the ice caves, and encountered the White Dragon, Arauthator.  That was a nice battle, and the group was better prepared for their second dragon encounter. The dragon was dispatched and Maccath rescued.  Maccath ended up becoming a recurring NPC as the campaign unfolded too.

Episode 3 and 4: Death to the Wyrmspeakers

Returning to Waterdeep, the council directed the party to hunt down the wyrmspeaker; Varram the White. The party traveled south, where the effects of the dragon cult’s raids were becoming apparent everywhere they went. The book provides several adventure hooks to use and I opted to adapt “Devilish Demands”  for my uses. The group encountered a pavilion, attended by white-robed women that served a lord of high-bearing. Volmer he named himself and he sought out the group’s alliance. The PCs were able to deduce the true nature of Volmer and diplomatically avoided any further entanglements and departed.

When the group arrived at Boareskyr they were ambushed as per Episode 5: The Cult Strikes Back outlines. The battle took place in a crowded tavern and I made sure to include all those innocents in the battle.

The search for Varram the White led them up into the Serpent Hills and the Tomb of Diderius. I enjoyed these sessions quite a bit as dungeon crawls are what I love most. The tomb had a great balance of traps, puzzles and encounters. Give me more content like this! Varram was captured but upon exiting the tomb, the group was ambushed again. This time with a stronger force that included a black dragon. The party was victorious and off they went.

Just for a point of reference. I’d say that it took about 6, 3.5 hours sessions to get this far into the book. 

Moving right along, The group journeyed back to Waterdeep, dropped Varram off and headed off to The Misty Forest to deal with Neronvain. This took 2.5 sessions I believe. The village, some forest encounters, including one with a gargantuan spider that I added and a full dwarven forge set piece with the green dragon. I went ahead and boosted the encounter difficulty with the dragon as the party had already dealt with 3 adult dragons, rather handily. For this one, I made the green dragon an Ancient. It was something I debated heavily prior to, but in the end, it’s a decision that worked out great. It made for a much more intense fight which the PCs won.

To be fair, I boosted the amount of magic items the players received from what the book suggests. Attunement rules are used and I like them quite a bit. It keeps things in check. Personally, I found that the book was far too skimpy with handing out magic items for my taste. It gets a little stale when players have completed a battle, loot the corpses and find…nothing other than coins. I don’t regret it at all.

Episode 6: Metallic Dragons, Arise

Again, another meeting-type chapter. For the story, it makes complete sense, but there’s no way I was spending more than an hour here. I used dragon minis as standees…metallic dragons got shortchanged in the mini department…none available of a respectable size!

Episode 7: Xonthal’s Tower

Loved this chapter. The maze was loads of fun, even though the players never figured out how to navigate it correctly. The encounters in them were great. but I found the actual tower itself to be a letdown as written so I threw in Xonthal himself as a lich, down in the Time Chamber. On top of that, after finishing up the tower, the characters looked out from the tower to witness an Ancient blue dragon destroying the village. That made for yet another dragon battle of note.

Episode 8: Mission to Thay

This chapter left me uninspired and I blew through it in about an hour. It certainly has potential to be something much more if you’re willing to put the time into it. I think I was dealing with some burn-out and work-stress at the time and didn’t have the desire or mental energy to build it up into anything. Having said that, if you have time, this chapter could lead into lots of undead goodness if you’re willing to do some work.

Episode 9: Tiamat’s Return

This is another chapter that is wide-open to DM interpretation. I glossed over the “war” outside narratively but there is opportunity here for lots of combat and encounters if you so desire. My thoughts were that time was of the essence and if I subjected the PCs to too many fights, they would have reached the ritual chamber with nothing in the tank. The idea of taking a long rest inside the Well of Dragons didn’t sit with me logically so it was a straight on assault for them.

I stripped down a lot of the exploration options for the Well of Dragons, only giving them a single entrance to use and paring out most of the chambers that didn’t amount to much of note. The sacrificial chamber was included and that involved 5 dragons of varying sizes to deal with. The Draakhorn chamber and a number of wandering guards. sprinkled in here and there for good measure.

When the team reached the summoning chamber, I had put out an enormous chessex mat that helped immensely with scale and determining range. Suffice it to say, the group didn’t succeed in stopping the ritual. Tiamat arrived and even with my skipping an attack or two, it was clear she was going to eat the party.

The mood darkened around the table and I ended the session with the group defeated. It was a bitter ending for the table after having so much success but I wasn’t done with them yet.

Episode 10: The Tomb of Horrors & The Orb of Time

The following week I described to the group how a year had passed and in that year, Tiamat had made the Sword Coast into a literal hell on earth. The party had been resurrected and presented with a plan to correct this great evil. Tomes that the group took from Xonthal’s tower spoke of a great wizard that also studied time; Acererak. Maccath deduced that Acererak had an artifiact named the Orb of Time that the PCs could use to return to the Summoning Chamber and try again to halt the ritual, therefore stopping Tiamat from entering the realms.

A magic rewind button. Clearly Tiamat was not something the PCs could kill, so this was my best solution. The party were sent off and entered my 5th edition conversion of the Tomb of Horrors. I won’t get into it here but they succeeded and armed with the knowledge of hindsight, they stopped the summoning ritual in 4 rounds. The good guys won.

Some thoughts. Overall the story-line is great and the adventure was quite memorable. Anyone running a home campaign could really run wild with this and add in all sorts of additional content.

Hoard of the Dragon Queen, pillaged.

Hoard of the DQ

Note: For those of you that pretend that you don’t read anything online about adventures you’re playing, this is the “required” alert that this post contains spoilers. So be prepared to take notes. If you are the only person left in the universe that actually avoids information about adventures you’re an active player in, I’m going to talk about the content of the adventure so leave now.

I ran Hoard of the Dragon Queen at my local game store the past several months. Last night my players closed it out. Run as a public play adventure, I had a revolving cast of players week to week, with a core of 3 regulars. Here’s a brief chapter by chapter synopsis. I’m going to assume that anyone reading this has a general idea of the adventure’s content.

1) Greenest in Flames – A town under attack by dragon cultists and a blue dragon. This was an easy chapter to run. The style reminded me of 4E in its setup in that there were “encounters” described for the DM that were easily inserted into the session. It was a great method to get into running the new system. I didn’t use every available option provided as I have a 3-3.5 hour window and I didn’t see the need to drag it out beyond one session. The first combat my group had was against a group of kobolds and that was an eye-opener. One PC was knocked unconscious in the first round and the rest of the group was under pressure. There were no fatalities but it was a quick education into the fragility of a 1st level character. I appreciated that tension greatly.

Encounters that I ran; Seek the Keep, The Old Tunnel, Save the Mill, Sanctuary and Half-Dragon Champion. I didn’t use the Dragon Attack and Sally Port options. The Sally Port was just another fight and due to time constraints I left it out. The Dragon Attack has been written about elsewhere ad nauseam.  I just didn’t care for how iI believed it would work out and left it out. The players wisely tried to be stealthy and avoid unnecessary risks after the first fight. It made them much more cautious and it also affected how I ran the rest of the session. I did not work in any wandering encounters at all as it would have left them terribly weakened. A long rest would have been impossible for this chapter since it was over the course of a single night. Four combat encounters were about all they could handle. The last encounter; Half-Dragon Champion was more of a story-centric encounter despite the dice-rolling. It made for some dramatic flair and a memorable ending to the night. A worthy opponent (Langdredrosa) was born out of it.

2) Raider’s Camp & Dragon Hatchery – Ran these two chapter over the course of 3 sessions. These two chapters ran together naturally and proved to be a fun challenge for me to plan for the PCs actions. I added in a bit of content in the hatchery to extend a session. This involved Myconids, a trogoldyte lair and a Giant Solifgulid.  Despite this being officially “Encounters”, I reserve the right to alter/expand the adventure beyond what is written.

The PCs ran into Langdredrosa once again and he took the party down hard and fast. It was stunning how fast the players dropped and it set up a “split the party” situation for me the following week as the half-dragon captured most of the party. The escape from captivity was believable and touch and go. Just the right amount of difficulty.

3) On the Road – Leaving the Greenest area behind, the group headed north to Elturel to meet up with Leosin. I put together a short encounter for the journey to Elturel that involved a group of bandits and a tomb. It gave me an opportunity to provide a morale boost to the group in the form of a few magic items as by then they hadn’t acquired anything of worth.

Elturel was a brief interlude where the party was directed to Baldur’s Gate to become caravan guards. This chapter was a challenge to plan for time-wise as it was truly wide open in its potential.  The players embraced the spirit of it and proved my worries were unfounded. There was interactions aplenty with the NPCs in the caravan and I sprinkled in only a few of the suggested scenarios presented in the book. Animal Abuse was resolved peacefully, Stranded was straight forward enough and let them roll some dice after a lot of role-playing. Jamna the gnome made an appearance and led nicely into Murder Most Foul but for me the highlight of the session was the Golden Stag. The book presents several options for the DM to use here and I opted for the cursed elven prince in need of an escort to Waterdeep.  The group used all of their creativity to make it appear that the stag was a manifestation of a deity and the roleplaying involved was entertaining.

4) Construction Ahead & Castle Naerytar – 3 session for these two chapters, with the Construction Ahead only taking about an hour to be truthful. Easily the weakest chapter in the book and could have just been rolled into the previous chapter. The Castle however was a classic attrition type of situation. Lots of enemies and not a lot of options on where to rest. It was a good test of the ability of the players to conserve their strength against large numbers of foes. Thankfully they befriended the lizardfolk and that offset the numbers of enemies slightly for them.

Some adjustments and additions of note. I gave Pharblex and Dralmorrer their full compliment of spells for their listed levels. Dralmorror in particular was short-changed in the book. Boosting him made for a longer and more intense fight. I also added two black dragon wyrmlings for Pharblex to command as pets. They were quite beefy and did a fair amount of damage. DMs be aware that Fireball is a game-changer, (as it should be).

5) The Hunting Lodge – Relatively short as the players picked up the pace of exploration considerably. Only a single session was needed here.There was no big battle with Talis as that became a brief mexican stand-off and then the group hustled off to Parnast and the Skycastle. This session ended with a fight in the town square between Captain Othelstan and friends. The wyverns in particular proved to be fearsome foes. We closed with the group in sight of the Skycastle but worn down and in need of a good rest.

6) Castle in the Clouds – I was terribly worried about how this chapter would unfold. Realizing that I had a weakened party about to enter a practical death-trap encounter with a pair of Stone Golems without discovering a means of safe entry was a puzzle for me to solve.  I decided that I would have a wagon ride up as a last delivery of treasure. As it passed them the group spotted the gnome, Jamna waving them on from the back of it.  The players took the bait and caught up with the wagon as the driver shouted out the password.  I was fully prepared for a battle royale situation at the gate if the group had not been as wise. I spent a lot of time measuring out the distances between the locations that reinforcements would arrive from and how long it could realistically take for them to reach the gateway. The amount of time provided in the book itself is far too short. This was not needed and through a smart methodical approach, a well-placed Silence spell and a convenient means of body disposal, the group took care of Rezmir, and the red wizards. Blagothkus proved to be a willing ally after the group were given an audience with him and treated him honorably and boldly opted to declare their purpose. This set them up nicely for the much anticipated first dragon encounter.

Armed with the knowledge of the layout of the dragon’s lair, the group took down the beast through good planning, (Bluffing a group of kobolds into bringing an offering to the dragon. This caused the dragon to use its breath weapon prior to the combat). Good saving throws, (Frightful Presence failed to land in the two rounds it took to bring down the dragon). and the breath weapon never recharged. I gave the dragon it’s Lair Actions as listed in the MM for only one round. In retrospect I should have not held back on one round but I was not as merciful with the rest of the dragon’s combat. When she took down the group’s paladin with her bite, I had her also use her two claw attacks on him despite him already being unconscious. It was a close thing in the end, with two characters unconscious and the fear of her breath recharging or Frightful Presence landing on the group looming.  In the end, the dragon was slain and it felt legitimately a struggle.

I love the level of difficulty that dragons are in 5E. Lair actions and legendary actions are terrific features that keep the combat vibrant.  By vibrant I mean, the dragon has actions that take place when it’s not it’s actual turn. This feels right in ways that I can’t easily put in words but it makes the fight less static? Less, I act, the 6 players act, I act, etc.

So overall did I enjoy running Hoard of the Dragon Queen? Yes. What would have made it better? A bit more fleshing out some of the content/chapters. The Raider’s Camp, Construction Ahead and the Hunting Lodge were all of poor quality. The Dragon Hatchery and Castle Naerytar were two favorite chapters for me. Skyreach was memorable mainly for the dragon fight. In the end it took 10 sessions averaging 3.5 hours each to complete the book. Content that I added in total probably amounted to about half a session or 2 hours in total.

If you decide to run this one, don’t hold to the each chapter is a session mantra. It doesn’t work. Also, since the first four levels of this is considered “Encounters” there is a suggested number of sessions noted that’s completely unrealistic. I don’t want to play for 2 hours. I get one night a week to roll dice. I put in hours of prep and people drive and allocate time for this. 2 hours is a joke. I always set a goal of 3 hours and if you do that, the content should fly by much faster than what is prescribed.

Having said that, I love this new public play format. Levels 1-4 is Encounters and then you can continue on all the way to level 15 provided you buy the book. I have no issue with this. I’d rather be able to play out an adventure path over the course of 6 months that allows the players to level up past 4th than short, 1st thru 4th adventures every 2 months. That got stale for me after a year.

Malaise – D&D 5e Wizard Spell

MalaiseA spell to inject into your game through a scroll for a one-time use. Could also be used by Warlocks and Sorcerers.


6th-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 action Range: 60 feet  Components: V, S  Duration: Instantaneous

Necromantic energy washes over a creature of your choice that you can see within range, draining vitality from it. The creature must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save the creature rolls a d4 and gains the level of exhaustion indicated by the roll. Malaise cannot inflict a level of exhaustion beyond 5. This spell has no effect on undead or constructs.

Insanity & Stress – D&D 5e Houserule


I had originally put this together for 13th Age. Here is the D&D 5th Edition version.

Stress & Insanity  

A PC exposed to extreme mental exertion, soul-shivering horror, torture or bearing witness to unspeakable acts or sights can potentially suffer Stress. Some environmental effects can inflict Stress, such as surviving a particularly nasty battle, or spending several days without food.  Stress can also be generated by encountering certain creature types. Aberrations, Dragons, Fiends, high level Undead or creatures that are at least 5 CR levels higher than the PC can generate Stress for the PC.

If a PC has acquired between 3 – 4 Stress they will suffer a d4 penalty to their attack rolls and skill checks. If a character has 5 – 6 Stress they will suffer a d6 penalty to their attack rolls and skill checks.  Once a PC acquires his 7th Stress point, he must roll an INT check of DC 10.  If the save fails, the PC must then roll on the Severity 1 Insanity Chart and suffer a random Insanity.

If the PC continues to acquire Stress, he must make additional INT checks of increasing difficulty. For every point of Stress over 6, the DC check will increase in difficulty by 1 per point.  Note that the PC’s Stress is not lost if an Insanity is acquired.  The player should keep that condition a secret and role-play accordingly. Stress can be removed by the following methods.  Spending a hit die to remove 1 Stress or taking a long rest. Healing magic does not remove Stress. Insanities can only be removed by a number of castings of Greater Restoration, equal to the severity level of the insanity.

Insanity Chart – Severity 1

Roll               Type                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              01-03          Agoraphobia: Fear of being outdoors. You must make every effort to remain or move indoors. Failure to do so inflicts 1d4 stress per day. This stress is acquired after being outdoors more than 4 hours.                                                                                                                                                     04–06            Alcoholism: Addiction to alcohol. You must make every effort to consume alcohol on a daily basis. Failure to do so inflicts 1d4 stress per day. This stress is acquired after failing to consume alcohol after 8 hours.

07–11       Anxiety: Fear of failure. Every miss in combat inflicts a -1 penalty to future attack rolls during this encounter. If the total penalty reaches -3, the PC also suffers 1 stress. Once the encounter is completed, the penalties are removed, but not the stress.

For the rest of the tables, I have provided a link.


Crown of the Golden Stag – D&D

antlered crown

I’m currently running Encounters; “Hoard of the Dragon Queen” and one of the potential scenarios involves a Golden stag with antlers of platinum.  The stag is in truth, a cursed elven lordling that is seeking to be rid of said curse. If the group is able to complete this task, I plan on rewarding them with the item.

Crown of the Golden Stag – While wearing this crown, you have a +3 bonus to your AC while you wear no armor and use no shield.                  Requires attunement

Stag Form – Once per day as an action you may transform into a stag with a golden hide and antlers of a brilliant platinum hue.

You can stay in this form for no longer than 1 hour and can revert to your normal form as a bonus action on your turn. You automatically revert to your true form if you fall unconscious, drop to 0 hit points or die.

While you are transformed, the following rules apply:

Your statistics are replaced by the statistics of a stag (noted below), but you retain your alignment, personality and Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma scores. You also retain all of your skill and saving throw proficiencies, in addition to gaining those of a stag.

When you transform, you retain your own hit points you had prior to transforming and if injured while in stag-form you don’t gain any hit points when reverting back to your natural form.

You can’t cast spells, or use any ability to speak or take actions that requires hands.

Your equipment merges into your stag-form.

Stag                                                                                                                          Large beast

Armor Class: 10                                                                                                                                                                                     Speed: 50 ft.

STR: 16 (+2)   DEX: 10   CON: 12 (+1)

Charge.  If you move at least 20 feet straight toward a target and then hit it with a ram attack on the same turn, the target takes and extra (2d6) damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 13 STR saving throw or be knocked prone.


Ram. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target, Hit: 1d6+3 bludgeoning damage

Hooves. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one prone creature, Hit: 2d4+3 bludgeoning damage

Draugur – Battleaxe – D&D 5e


I’ll be slipping this into tonight’s session.

Draugur  +2 Battleaxe

A seemingly brittle, ancient and rotted weapon; Draugur derives its power from the spirits of those it has slain.  These same spirits can also drive the wielder mad with battle fury as they coalesce around the blackened and pitted core of the weapon into a shimmering spectral axe.

As an Action, you must call upon the spirits of the past wielders of Draugur to infuse the weapon with their rage and power. Once this has been completed, Draugur becomes a +2 Battleaxe with the following powers.

Damage Advantage against armored opponents (This does not apply to natural armor or magical warding such as Mage Armor). Roll damage twice and apply the larger result.                                                                    On a Critical Hit, add another d8 if wielded single-handed or another d10 if wielded in two hands.

Haunted by the souls of those it has slain, the wielder may slip into a Battle-Madness after 1d6 rounds of combat on a failed DC 12 WIS Save. This Battle-Madness lasts for 1d4+1 rounds and the wielder must only attack with Draugur while in this state. You can’t cast spells or concentrate on them while in this state.


You throw aside all caution and attack with a fierce single-mindedness. You have Advantage on attack rolls with Draugur but attack rolls against you have Advantage.

All aboard the Railroading Express or Story-boarding: A GM’s friend and duty.


I’m currently running “Hoard of the Dragon Queen” at my local game emporium and as many have already realized with this adventure, there is a lot of “open-endedness” to much of the content. RPGs by their nature have an unpredictable nature to them that makes every single session different.  It’s similar to a sporting event; the rules are in place but one never knows where the ball is going to bounce or who is going to step up and make a big play. Every group of players going through this adventure will have a different experience based on the GM’s style, experience and interpretation of the adventure. Then you have the infinite variety of players and what they bring to the table and then all the choices of classes, races, backgrounds, etc. It’s a beautiful thing.

However, RPGs are also equally about story-telling. Sprinkling encounters together without purpose is not story-telling. A GM should know where he wants his PCs to end up and he should also have a good idea on how they will get there and what they might encounter along the way. A GM should think of himself as equal parts editor and author. You’re all writing a story and it’s the GM’s job to weave it all together in a believable fashion. Too many rescues from NPCs/? the story becomes unbelievable and all tension is drained away. “We’re always going to be saved!” will be the refrain from your players and then you have players taking ridiculous risks with their characters as there is no worry about death or loss.  Make things impossible and watch your table lose heart if beloved characters are slain. Avoid TPKs as much as possible because they are story-killers.  Only George R.R. Martin can get away with a TPK now and then.

While running HotDQ, the adventure warns the GM that there is a strong chance that the PCs might get captured.  Sure enough, my group did get themselves captured, but not all of them. The adventure does not mention this as a possibility nor should it. How can there be an answer to every potential possible outcome? This is where the GM has to be prepared to “fill in the blanks” and keep the story moving. Do you spend time thinking about possible outcomes? You should as it makes your job as GM infinitely easier.

Midway through the adventure the PCs are supposed to be hired on as caravan guards and there are a variety of “encounters” provided.  However, the order in which they are presented is up to the GM to decide. I took a look at them, opted to skip a few and add in some of my own instead and then story-boarded out how they will be encountered.  This could be construed as “railroading” by some, but in truth it’s just making sure the story works in a logical fashion.

Take a few index cards and note what encounters will happen in what particular order. Make some notes on each encounter to speed up your session so you’re not continually flipping back to the book and reading box text or checking  on the contents of the room.  Your players will remain focused on the game if you’re organized and your pacing is steady.  Slow down too much and their phones will come out. If I see players with their phones out, I know I’m losing the table. Sure, things will crop up and the order may change slightly, but ultimately you will get your PCs to the destination, next chapter, goal.

So when you’re prepping and planning for each session don’t think of what you’re doing as railroading, it’s story-boarding and it’s what all authors and directors do.



Fumble Charts – D&D 5th Edition

missed Now for the bad stuff. Fumbles, critical failures, epic fails; whatever you want to call them.  I’ve put together some tables that provide results on a 1, or in my case, two 1s coming up on a attack roll with advantage or disadvantage. Melee with weapons, unarmed melee/natural weapons, ranged attack with weapon and spell attack tables are provided for your pleasure and pain.  The link to all 4 is below the sample for Melee weapons.


Melee with weapon                                                                                                                                                                                                        D100                                                            

01 – 05Slipped. You must make a successful DC 10 DEX Save or immediately fall prone.

06 – 09Pulled up lame. You must make a successful DC 10 CON save or your speed is halved until the end of the encounter..                                                                                      

10Something in your eye. Your melee attacks only do half damage for the remainder of the encounter.

11 – 15Wicked backswing. You strike yourself slightly on your backswing and take 1d8 damage.                                                                        

16 – 19Wind knocked out of you. You become exhausted to level 1 of that condition.                                                                                    

20Loss of confidence. You gain disadvantage for your attacks against this opponent for the remainder of the encounter.                                                                                   

21 – 25Shook yourself up. You are stunned for 1 rd.                                                                                                                       

26 – 29Give them hope. Your target’s allies within 30 feet gain a d6 inspiration die that can be used during this encounter.                                                    

30Panic attack. You must make a successful DC 10 WIS Save or become frightened for the remainder of the encounter.

31 – 35Dropped weapon. Your drop your weapon and it falls 10’ from your location in a random direction.                                                                                                                     

36 – 39Discombobulated. You become incapacitated for 1 rd.

40You’ve fallen and you can’t get up. You immediately fall prone and lose all movement this round.

41 – 45Bad timing. You drop to last in the imitative order for the combat but do not act again this turn.

46 – 49Broken bone.  You break a bone in your hand. You suffer disadvantage for the rest of the encounter and take 1d6 damage every rd. until healed.

50Easy prey.  Allies of the target within 20’ will attack you with their next turn, unless they would suffer an Attack of Opportunity to do so.

51 – 55Exposed defenses. Your swing unbalances you so much that your target may take one melee attack against you as a reaction.

56 – 59Your own worst enemy. You suffer the effects of a bane spell for the remainder of the encounter.                                                        

60Unguarded.  All adjacent allies of your target may immediately take an attack of opportunity against you.                                                              

61 – 65Costly mistake. Your target may reroll all 1s and 2s on the damage roll for his next successful melee attack vs. you.                                                                                                  

66 – 69Revealed intentions. You and your allies all suffer disadvantage for your next attack.

70Wrong target.  You mistakenly strike an ally adjacent to you with your attack.

71 – 75Lodged weapon.  Your weapon becomes stuck in the floor or a nearby object. You must make a DC 14 STR check to remove it as an action.

76 – 79Devastating error. As a free action your opponent may immediately make one melee attack with advantage against you as a reaction.                                                       

80Shattered.  Your weapon breaks if it is non-magical. Enchanted weapons must make a DC 8 Save and get a +1 to their roll for every + of the weapon.

81 – 85Thrown weapon. You lose your grip and throw your weapon. It lands 30’ from your location in a random direction.                                                                                                                     

86 – 89Panic attack.  You immediately suffer the effects of the Confusion spell for 1 rd.

90Horrible aftermath.  Roll twice on this chart and apply both effects to yourself.

91 – 95Self-inflicted wound.  Your attack ricochets back and you hit yourself. Roll your damage as if you had hit your target and apply it to yourself.

96 – 99Did you see that?  Your attack ricochets back and you hit yourself. Apply the maximum damage to yourself as if you had hit your target.

100No!  Your attack ricochets back and you hit yourself. Apply the maximum critical damage to yourself as if you had hit your target.

Crit Charts – 5th Edition D&D

Gersdorff_Wound Man While I’m not quite ready to institute these crit rules into my 5th edition game, I’m certain I’ll eventually do so.  Crit charts are a familiar house-ruled mechanism for RPGs that I used extensively back in the 2E hey-days. I’ve gone all out here and created a crit chart for every damage type listed in 5E. Slashing, Piercing, Bludgeoning, Acid, Fire, Cold, Poison, Necrotic, Radiant, Lightning, Psychic, Thunder and Force.  Take a look and offer your suggestions/tweaks.

Some rules I’ll be instituting to go along with these crit tables.

1) Roll on these only when 2 20s appear on an attack with Advantage.

2) Roll standard crit damage first and then roll on the appropriate Crit table for an additional effect.

Here is the Slashing Chart as an example but I have provided the link to the originals that are on my google drive.

Slashing                                                                                                                                                                                                        D100                                                            

01 – 03Gruesome slash. The target must make a successful DC 10 CON Save or receive disadvantage for its next attack.

04 – 06Debilitating cut. Roll one extra die of the weapon’s damage to the target.                                                                                                                   

07 – 09Vicious laceration. The target must make a successful DC 10 CON Save or suffer an additional 1d8 damage.                                                 

10Horrific gash. The target loses its next attack as it staggers in shock from its wound.                                                                                                        

11 – 13Brutal wound. The target must make a successful DC 10 CON Save or its speed is halved for the remainder of the encounter.

14 – 16Nasty slice. Reroll all 1s and 2s on the damage roll for this attack.                                                                                                                         

17 – 19 • Savage chop. The target is also knocked prone.                                                                                                                          

20Inspiring stroke. Your allies within 30 feet gain a d6 inspiration die that can be used during this encounter.                                                    

21 – 23Ruthless assault. As a free action you may immediately make one melee attack vs. the same target.                                                      

24 – 26Nicked an artery. The target must make a successful DC 12 CON Save or suffer and additional 1d8 damage every rd. until it saves.

27 – 29Bloody trauma. The target’s melee attacks only deal half damage for the remainder of the encounter unless it makes a DC 10 CON Save.

30Cleaving hack. One adjacent ally of the target is also struck by this attack and suffers the equivalent of half the inflicted damage.

31 – 33Blood-curdling attack. The target becomes frightened for the remainder of the encounter.

34 – 36 • Nauseating injury. The target is stunned for 1 rd.                                                                                                                   

37 – 39Flesh-rending strike. The target is now vulnerable to slashing damage for the remainder of the encounter.

40 • Monstrous damage. The target suffers triple damage.                                                                                                                     

41 – 43Torturous impairment. The target becomes incapacitated for 1 rd.

44 – 46Shocking violence.  You receive advantage for all melee attacks vs. this opponent for the remainder of the encounter.

47 – 49Traumatizing pain. The target becomes exhausted to level 4 of that condition.                                                                             

50Severing strike. The target’s off-hand is cut off. The target has disadvantage for the remainder of the encounter and 1d10 damage every rd. until healed.

51 – 53Hellish distress. The target suffers the effects of a bane spell for the remainder of the encounter.                                                

54 – 55Grievous hurt. Roll twice on this chart and apply both effects to the target.                                                                                

56 – 57Wicked mutilation. The target suffers a permanent -1 loss to its CHA due to horrible scarring.

60Calamitous blow. The target must make a successful DC 10 DEX save or it drops whatever it has in hand.                                                     

61 – 63Heinous punishment. The target’s allies all suffer disadvantage for their next attack.

64 – 66Vile suffering. The target must make a successful DC 15 CON Save or receive disadvantage for its next attack

67 – 69Ruinous harm. The target must make a successful DC 14 CON Save or suffer an additional 1d12 damage.                                               

70Slow and agonizing death. The target must make a successful DC 15 CON Save or suffer an additional 2d8 damage every rd. until it saves.

71 – 73Dire consequences. Your allies receive advantage on all attacks vs. the target until the start of your next turn.

74 – 76Excruciating damage. Reroll all 1s and 2s and 3s on the damage roll for this attack.                                                                                                  

77 – 79Vexing anguish. You receive advantage for all melee attacks vs. the target and the target has disadvantage for the remainder of the encounter.

80Maimed. The target’s arm is severed. It suffers disadvantage for the remainder of the encounter and suffers 2d10 damage every rd. until healed.

81 – 83Gutted.  The target suffers triple damage and is incapacitated for 1 rd.                                                                                                                    

84 – 86Gaping wound. The target suffers the damage rolled for the attack each round until healed.

87 – 89Harrowing disfigurement. The target suffers a permanent -2 loss to its CHA due to horrible scarring.

90Severed limb. The target’s arm is severed. It suffers disadvantage for the remainder of the encounter and suffers a 50% HP loss every rd. until healed.

91 – 93Rent armor. The target’s AC is reduced by 2 for the remainder of the encounter.

94 – 96Disemboweled. The target has disadvantage for the rest of the encounter and suffers the damage rolled each rd. until healed.

97 – 99Devastating cost. As a free action you may immediately make one melee attack with advantage vs. the same target.                                                       

100Decapitated. The target is slain.

Crit Chart – slashing


Myconid – Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition



I’m running Tyranny of Dragons at a local game store and I’m finding that I need some additional content. Myconids are an old favorite of mine from the classic “Slave Lords” modules. While I’m on the subject of that series of modules, I think I’ll have to whip up some Aspis in the future too. I’d like to see those monsters make a return.


Myconid                                                                                                           Medium plant, unaligned

Armor Class 12

Hit Points 38 (6d8+8)

Speed 20 ft.

STR          DEX      CON          INT       WIS         CHA

14 (+2)     10 (−)    13 (+1)     11 (−)     12 (+1)    10 (−)

Condition Immunities poisoned

Senses blindsight 60 ft. (blind beyond this radius),                                       passive Perception 10                                                                                Languages Myconid, Telepathy

Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the myconid has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.


Spore Cloud (Recharge 5-6). The myconid expels a cloud of poisonous spores, centered on itself and extending out in a 5 foot radius. Any creature caught in the spore cloud must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw, taking 6 (2d6) poison damage or half that amount on a successful save.

Dominating Spores (Recharge 5-6). Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 5 ft., one target. Hit: The target must make a DC 10 Wisdom saving throw or become dominated by the myconid per the Dominate Person spell for 1 turn.

Multiattack. The myconid makes 2 hammering fist attacks.

Hammering Fists. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one creature. Hit: 4 (1d6+2) bludgeoning damage.