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.
Some D&D players just want to go out into the world and kill some orcs. And some D&D players would rather BE the orcs! Perhaps it’s inevitable that certain players would want to know more about the inner workings of a goblin horde, after spending countless hours fighting against them. Other players might just want to play against type as a lawful good orc trying to overcome the prejudices of other races. Whatever the reason, Wizards of the Coast has you covered. In 2016, they published Volo’s Guide to Monsters, a supplement to D&D 5e that includes additional lore for some classic monsters, a bestiary of new monsters for your adventurers to encounter, and most importantly new race options for player characters, including orcs, goblins, kobolds, and more.
Three closely related race are goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears. Goblins are small, fast, and generally cowardly. Playing as a goblin will get you bonuses to your DEX and CON scores, and they can disengage or hide as a bonus action. They also have a special ability that lets them deal some extra damage to creatures that are bigger than them. Hobgoblins are a bit bigger and much more disciplined than their goblin cousins. They get bonuses to CON and INT, some innate weapon and armor proficiencies, and an ability that gives a bonus to a missed attack or failed save equal to the number of allies around. Bugbears are the largest goblinoid race, but are surprisingly sneaky for their large size. In addition to STR and DEX bonuses, they are naturally proficient in stealth, and can deal extra damage to a surprised enemy. Their extra-long arms also allow them to attack with melee weapons from a short distance away.
Orcs are similar to goblinoids, but are unrelated. They’re large, aggressive, and chaotic creatures who respect strength above all else. Orc characters get bonuses to STR and CON, but also have to deal with a penalty to INT (meaning that an Orcish Wizard is almost unheard of). Orcs are naturally proficient with the Intimidation skill, and can dash as a bonus action as long as they’re moving closer to their enemies.
Kobolds are a small draconic race, who are at their best in large groups. They have advantage on attack rolls whenever there’s an ally close to their target. They get a bonus to DEX, but a penalty to STR, and they can use their small size to their advantage in a unique way. A kobold can choose to spend its turn groveling and cowering to distract an enemy, giving all of the kobold’s allies advantage on their attacks. Kobolds are also sensitive to bright light, and suffer from disadvantage on their attacks and certain ability checks while in direct sunlight.
Finally, the Yuan-ti Purebloods are the descendants of an ancient empire of human-snake hybrids. The Purebloods were the most human-like of their race, though they still have some snake-like features, such as forked tongues, scaly skin, or slit-shaped pupils. Yuan-ti Purebloods are immune to poisons and resistant to most other magic. They get bonuses to CHA and INT, and have the innate ability to cast certain spells, such as Poison Spray, Animal Friendship (effective on snakes only), and Suggestion.
Tell us about your experiences with any of these monstrous races in D&D. If you’ve played as a race that’s typically aligned with evil, do you prefer to lean into the stereotypical behavior? Or would you play the goblin with the heart of gold? Do other games have rules for playing as creatures that typically the enemy?
Our AvocaD&D group is continuing to take a break from Curse of Strahd. The Wasp 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)
After freeing most of the captive sailors, we learned that we only had a few moments before the eelfolk summoned another Water Elemental by using their last hostage to activate the summoning dish. We quickly jumped into battle with a large group of eelmen, including their scourge leader.
The boss got the first move and took a swing at Dare with his sword, but Dare slipped out of the way. Another eelman tossed a spear at Evie, but missed as well. Dare struck back at the leader, but was shocked to learn that hitting the scourge caused him to release some electrical energy back at her. The next eel threw his spear towards Biggs, but only succeeded in making him angry. The enraged Half-Orc rushed up and swung at both the leader and the eelman that had thrown the spear, hitting both with his axes (and taking a shock from the leader as well). Biggs took a glancing blow from a fourth eel’s sword, while Jack quickly stabbed another. The last eelman rushed pass Biggs to try and attack Evie, but Biggs caught him with a quick strike as he ran, causing him to miss Evie. Rainn tried to use Hideous Laughter on the leader, by telling a joke: “How many eels does it take to occupy a lighthouse? Just one, they’re slippery!” The eelman laughed, but not hideously, so Rainn also sang an inspiring tune for Dare. Another eelman swung at Dare and missed, then Evangeline hit 3 of them with Scorching Rays, killing one. Lynn said a quick prayer of healing to patch up those of us who had been hurt, then the scourge and another eelman both attacked Dare! She struck back at the leader, hitting him three times and getting shocked again for her trouble. Jack took nasty hit from an eel’s spear, while Biggs unloaded his fury on the leader, leaving him looking ready to keel over. Another of the eelmen snapped at Biggs’ with his teeth, as Jack’s magical dagger brought another down. Evie escaped another eelman’s jaws, and then Rainn cast a Shatter spell that killed the scourge and one of his henchmen, and hurt another. The leader’s body exploded with electrical energy as he died, giving everyone a small shock. There were 3 eels left standing, and Evie hit each one with another Scorching Ray. Finally, Lynn decided he’d had enough and used Call Lightning to fry everyone in the vicinity, friend and foe alike. Luckily all the remaining eelmen were killed while the members of our little party survived.
With the eelmen wiped out, the captive sailor was able to halt the summoning ritual. Dare declared her love for the sailor, whose name was Arturo, and we returned control of the lighthouse back over to Lucien Skyhorn. We collected our rewarded and rode off into the sunset.
And that was the end of our adventure! The Wasp was a great DM, even though we managed to stretch this one-shot into a 5-week campaign. Next week, we return to Barovia to pick up the Curse of Strahd again!