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.
A while back, not long after I started these weekly discussions, I did a series of write-ups on the player character races detailed in the Player’s Handbook for D&D 5e (all still available to read by the way). However, as more material has been published by Wizards of the Coast, more and more playable races have become available.
The Elemental Evil Player’s Companion, one of the earliest supplements for 5th edition, introduced the Aarakocra birdfolk, the giant-like Goliaths, the element-themed Genasi, and the Svirfneblin or Deep Gnomes.
The Aarakocra are native to the Elemental Plane of Air. They are avian humanoids, with bodies covered in feathers, large wings on their back, sharp talons on their hands and feet, and beaks like parrots or eagles. They’re one of the few playable races to have an innate ability to fly, and their talons can be used as weapons if they are unarmed. They get bonuses to DEX and WIS scores, making them especially good Rangers.
Goliaths live among the highest mountain peaks, and their bodies reflect their environment. Goliaths stand 7 to 8 feet tall and seem to be carved from the stone itself. They’re naturally acclimated to high altitude and cold temperatures, and they’re naturally athletic and competitive. A Goliath’s powerful body can sometimes absorb blows, reducing the damage from a hit. With bonuses to STR and CON, Goliath’s are well suited to be Barbarians or Fighters.
The Genasi are the offspring of humans and powerful elemental beings like genies. All Genasi gain a bonus to CON, but their other abilities are determined by the specific elemental plane their magical parent hailed from. Air Genasi have blue skin and hair, can hold their breath indefinitely, can innately cast the Levitate spell, and gain a bonus to DEX. Earth Genasi get a STR bonus, and have skin of deep brown or black, sometimes encrusted with stones, gems, or crystals. They can move across difficult earth or stone terrain with ease, and can cast Pass Without Trace once a day. Fire Genasi are red, black, or ashy gray in color, and have darkvision and resistance to fire damage. They can cast Produce Flame and Burning Hands, and get a bonus to their INT. Finally, Water Genasi have blue or green skin and can swim and breath easily under water. They’re naturally resistant to acid, can cast the Shape Water and Create or Destroy Water spells, and get a bonus to WIS.
Deep Gnomes, or Svirfneblin, are gnomes that are native to the Underdark. Like other Gnomes, they are small and naturally resistant to certain types of magic. Living in the Underdark, their eyesight in darkness is better even than that of their surface-dwelling kin. Their dark gray skin and small stature allows them to hide easily among rocky terrain. Like Forest Gnomes, they get bonuses to DEX and INT.
Tell us about your experience playing as any of these races! Or have you ever run a game that included encounters with any of them as NPCs, either enemies or allies?
Our AvocaD&D group is continuing to take a break from Curse of Strahd. Doctor Nick is running a D&D 5th edition adventure called the “Secrets of Skyhorn Lighthouse” set in a fantasy-Earth in the 1920s. Our party for this adventure consists of:
- 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 picked up this week on board Captain Coppertree’s ship, the Annabell Lee. As we made our way towards the lighthouse, the Captain started singing a bawdy sea chanty. Biggs joined in with the song immediately. After some time, we noticed that the waves under the boat seemed to be moving in the wrong direction. We called this out to the captain, but before she could do anything, a giant creature that seemed to be made of water leaped up the side of the ship. Captain Coppertree yelled out that she’d keep the ship afloat if we could take care of the beast.
To start off the battle, Lynn cast a Bless spell on Jack, Biggs, and Rainn. Rainn then cast a Shatter spell off the side of the ship hitting the beast with a burst of thunder, then played an inspiring tune for Jack. Evie shot a Firebolt to see what would happen, sending some steam off the monster. Jack attempted to stab the beast, but the monster’s fluid form dodged the blade. The creature then lashed out and hit everyone with a soaking attack. Rainn and Evie took the full force of the blow and found themselves grappled by the beast’s watery form. Biggs joined the fray and hit the beast with his axes. Rainn tried, but couldn’t escape from the beast’s grip. Lynn rushed up to hit the thing with his warhammer, then started hurling insults that the creature probably didn’t understand. Evie used her subtle magic to hit the beast with 3 Scorching Rays, even without the use of her hands. Jack managed to pull Evie out of the grasp of the elemental, then dodged as the beast slammed a watery appendage in his direction. Biggs slashed recklessly at the creature with his axes. Rainn busted out of the monster’s grip, then played another tune to inspire Biggs. Lynn called forth a lightning storm and zapped the thing, and Evie followed up with another Firebolt, leaving the creature on it’s last legs. Jack stabbed with his rapier, killing the thing! As the monster fell back into the ocean, it dropped a pouch onto the deck. Evangeline grabbed the bag and opened it to find six Beads of Force.
Not long after the battle, the ship reached the island where Skyhorn Lighthouse itself was situated. The lighthouse looked well-kept, despite having had no contact for over a week. We started climbing up the rocks from towards the lighthouse to see if anyone was home, eventually reaching a stone wall at the top of the hill. The wall was about 10 feet high, but there was a gate that had been broken down, the lock smashed. From the top of hill, we noticed a small cove on the far end of the island, but we lost sight of it once we went through the gate. Inside was a small patio that had clearly been used for fancy parties, but not recently. We could see that the lighthouse was about 60 feet tall, and the light at the top was still spinning as normal. Biggs tried to open the door, but the door wouldn’t budge, despite Biggs’ strength. Jack investigated and found that the door was barricaded from the inside, after having been forced open. The nearest window was 40 feet up, and the walls were wet stone. We checked around the building for another way in, but there seemed to be only the one door.
Evangeline suggested we should give ’em the old knock-and-clock–she’d knock on the door, and the rest of us would clock whoever came out. Biggs was down for this plan, but Lynn and Jack wanted to try an climb up to the window. We decided to combine the plans, so some of us could climb up while whoever was inside was distracted by the door. Jack tossed a grappling hook up to the window, while Evie knocked on the door below. A voice called out from inside saying they wouldn’t let anyone in and asked how Evie had survived the sea monster. Evie kept the guards distracted long enough for everyone to make it up the rope to the window. We arrived at on a landing with a stairway leading up and down, and decided to go down stairs and get the drop on whoever was blocking the door.
But we called the session there, before getting into another combat, because it was getting late. This one-shot is stretching into a whole mini-campaign, but we’re all having fun with it! This session was the first time we made use of the voice chat feature in Roll20 (doubling up with Discord). It went pretty well, but I think we were all a bit nervous about speaking up, so there was still a lot of text chat.