Welcome back to the weekly D&D and Tabletop RPG thread! Here’s a place where we can talk about Dungeons & Dragons or any other tabletop RPGs that you nerds might be into. Tell us about the games you’re playing, speculate about future expansions, recruit your fellow Avocados into new groups, whatever you want.
D&D and other tabletop RPGs are defined by their rules. The rules govern how the players interact with the world, what actions the characters can take in combat, what affect a spell has or doesn’t have on certain creatures, etc. However, it’s just not possible to have an official rule laid out for every conceivable situation that might come up in a game. The writers of the 5th edition D&D rule books understood this, and also understood that some players may prefer a slightly different style of game.
By one count I found, there are over 90 “optional” or “variant” rules laid out in the three D&D core rule books, and all are left up to the DM whether to implement or ignore. There are variants rules covering everything from how your character’s stats are generated (standard array, point-buy, or random roll), to how long it takes to rest and heal wounds, to how your character levels up, to how certain magic items work, to how Initiative works at the start of an encounter, and so on. Multiclassing is an optional rule, as is the use of Feats. In addition to the optional rules laid out in the books, DMs are encouraged at every opportunity to change how things work or create their own rules for their own setting.
Which optional rules do you tend to implement or ignore in your games? Are there any standard rules that you do away with? Alternatively, are there any rules that existed in previous editions that you re-introduce into your game?1 Do you have any of your own house rules for your tabletop games?
Our AvocaD&D group is continuing to take a break from Curse of Strahd. This time, Doctor Nick ran us through a D&D 5th edition adventure called the “Secrets of Skyhorn Lighthouse.” Nick altered the setting a bit, making it a fantasy-Earth in the 1920s. For this one-shot adventure, we all made new 5th level characters:
- Jack Kelly, a Human Rogue who was a police officer and is now a P.I. (Josephus Brown)
- Dare Mithyenval, a Half-Elf Ranger who has a way with animals (forget_it_jake)
- Evangeline Horne, a Tiefling Sorcerer and a wild-child socialite enjoying the Roaring ’20s to their fullest (The Hayes Code)
- Lynn Burgess, a Human Cleric of an evil storm god (our non-Avocado group member)
- Biggs, a Half-Orc Barbarian who miraculously survived the sinking of the Titanic (TheCleverGuy)
- Rainn Cloud, a Genasi Bard who is incredibly embarrassed by his last name (Wafflicious)
We started off at the Salty Pelican Inn, in the seaside town of Fresnel, Oregon. We had all done a job together at the Warner Bros lot a week previously, and had decided to take a ride up the coast in Evangeline’s limo afterwards. As we relaxed in the inn, a well-dressed halfling suddenly burst in and started talking to any sailor he could find about how his ship, the Jade Lion, had disappeared. In chatting with the halfling, we learned that the ship seemed to have gone missing somewhere near Skyhorn Lighthouse, but no other ship had been sent looking because of sea monsters rumored to be in the area.
We all split up to enjoy the night in the Inn. Biggs and Evie joined a dice game with a sea captain by the name of Sheila Coppertree. Rainn went off to flirt with some sailors and eventually retired early with a tall and strong Arakocra for company. Meanwhile, Jack started chatting up some of the local sailors for more information on the sea monsters. An old Orcish sailor mentioned seeing a giant squid with 10 tentacles and a mouth big enough to swallow a man whole. We also learned that whatever these monsters are, they only appeared about a week before, and that the lighthouse itself went radio-silent about the same time. No one had been able to get there to check it out, because ships sailing that way just sank. Dare befriended Captain Coppertree’s cat Blackbeard and used a Speak With Animals spell to get some background on the Captain. Blackbeard said she was trustworthy and that she had taken a liking to our little party. Lynn spent the evening getting to know a little more about his new companions, getting a bead on Jack and Biggs especially. By the end of the Biggs had won 5 silver pieces from the dice game, and Captain Coppertree had offered to take us over to the lighthouse aboard her ship, the Annabell Lee.
After learning what we could from the patrons at the bar, we turned in for the night. Next morning we visited the general store for supplies, then met up with Captain Coppertree on the docks, though Rainn and Lynn lagged behind. As we approached the docks, the Captain was in heated conversation with two men, a human and a half-orc. They were accusing her of cheating at dice, and said she owed them a ship and 35 gold. Evie jumped in to defend the Captain and Jack followed. They tried to talk the pirates out of fighting, but it eventually became clear that a fight was coming. Jack offered to flip a coin in double-or-nothing bet, and when they agreed he flipped the coin high in the air to distract them, giving us a surprise round. Dare, incensed by the misogyny displayed by the two pirates, jumped in first and cut the half-orc with her shortsword and dagger. Evangeline cast Burning Hands, but both pirates managed to avoid most of the damage from the spell. Jack caught the half-orc by surprise with his dagger. Evie’s fire spell enraged Biggs and he brought his axes down on the half-orc’s head. The half-orc fought back, slashing at Biggs with his scimitar, but the raging barbarian barely felt the blade. Dare brought the big pirate to his knees with another sword strike, while Evie threw a quick firebolt at the human pirate. Then, Jack knocked the half-orc out with a blow from the hilt of his dagger and gave the other pirate a choice–“easy way, or messy way.” The pirate grabbed his unconscious friend by the shoulders and started dragging him away.
Captain Coppertree decided she liked us even more now then she did the night before, and we all climbed aboard her ship to head over to the lighthouse. We ended the session there, with our one-shot game turning into a two-shot! Tune in next week to see what we discover at Skyhorn!