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.
This week, let’s discuss Feats in D&D 5e. Feats are an optional rule in the Player’s Handbook that allow for a greater level of flexibility or customization when building a character. There are officially two ways in which a character can gain a feat: sacrifice an Ability Score Increase when you reach certain levels, or be a Human character using a variant rule to start with a feat at level 1. Generally, choosing a Feat instead of an ASI means delaying getting your main attack or spell-casting stat to the maximum. Certain classes, like the Fighter, have more opportunities to take feats in this way, since they get more ASIs than other classes as they progress.
Feats can be incredibly powerful. For instance, the Lucky feat lets you reroll any attack, ability check, or saving throw 3 times a day. Alert grants a bonus to initiative rolls and prevents you from being surprised. War Caster gives you advantage on concentration checks and allows you to cast a spell in place of making a melee attack of opportunity. Other feats grant more situational abilities, like Dungeon Delver, which lets you more easily find secret doors and avoid traps; or Skulker, which makes it easier for you to hide and allows you stay hidden after missing with a ranged attack. Many of them also grant a +1 bonus to a particular stat, in addition to some other ability. Actor increases CHA by 1 and makes it easier for you to impersonate someone else. Observant grants a +1 to either INT or WIS, increases your passive perception and investigation, and allows you to read lips from far away. Finally, some feats can grant access to limited forms of class abilities–Magic Initiate lets you learn a handful of spells from one class’s spell list, and Martial Adept lets you learn a couple of the fighting maneuvers that the Battle Master Fighter uses.
As a player, do you like having the option to take a feat? Do you plan your character around using a specific feat? As a DM, do you allow/encourage/disallow the use of feats in your game?
Our AvocaD&D group is returning to the Curse of Strahd adventure module this week after an extended break playing other adventures. Our version takes place in a pseudo-historical 19th century Earth, and the group is playing as representatives of a railroad company sent to the tiny Eastern European nation of Barovia (ruled by Count Strahd von Zarovich) to negotiate the expansion of the railway through the country.
Our Dungeon Master is The Hayes Code, and the party consists of:
- Txan Einreique, a Half-Elf Stone Sorcerer; the Company Representative and nominal party leader (Josephus Brown)
- Kissi Farwood, a Human Fighter; a former solider hired as a bodyguard by Txan (forget_it_jake)
- ENGR-23, a Warforged Artificer; a living machine employed as a railway engineer (our only non-Avocado party member)
- Peter Peregrine, a Human Barbarian; a Professor of Antiquities with a rage-filled alter ego called Kragen Tempest (The Wasp)
- Wickerwelt Tanglewood, a Halfling Ranger/Rogue; a Barovian native brought along as a guide (TheCleverGuy)
- Carabelle Longstride, a Halfling Cleric of Lathander; a Southern-accented American on a personal mission of her own (Wafflicious)
The party had taken a few days to rest in Vallaki, doing some research on vampires and hags. We had a few items on our to-do list, but decided first and foremost to try and find the night hag who had been haunting our dreams as of late. We figured our best bet would be to head back to the old windmill to see if she was hanging around there. We made our way in to find a the bottom room full of frogs. Carefully avoiding them, we went upstairs to the main mill room, and found some evidence that someone had been here since we left–there were some dried frogs laid out on the millstone. Continuing up to the main bedroom, we found the hag asleep in the bed, clutching her bag that we assumed contained the heartstone she used to enter the Ethereal plane and enter our dreams. Wick snuck in and deftly swapped out the bag with a handful of wolf pelts, Indiana Jones-style, which didn’t make much of a difference because Kragen Tempest followed up by tearing off her head from her sleeping body. With the witch taken care of, Kragen tied the head to his belt1, and we returned to Vallaki.
Back in town, Cara purchased some scale armor and a shield, and ENGR upgraded its mechanical lobster, grafting on some bat-like wings on the advise of Blinsky the toy maker. Meanwhile, Peter and Wick meet with Lady Wachter to gather some intel on Strahd (whom Lady Wachter had bragged about being friends with). We didn’t learn much, but Lady Wachter boasted that Strahd was a member of her book club, and Peter decided to join as well. The Lady gave Peter a copy of this week’s chosen book, The Diary of a Man Who Does Nothing2.
We spent the night in Vallki, and set out the next morning for the village of Krezk. We had heard rumors that there were werewolves sighted around Krezk, and one of the prophecies we’d received from Madam Eva had to do with a werewolf who would be a potential ally against Strahd. On the way to the village, we came across a small path leading off the main road. Wick couldn’t tell what had made the trail, but decided to follow it for a while and see what he could find. A little ways down the path, the ground gave way underneath, to a spiked pit-trap. Luckily Wick easily avoided falling in.
Further on, we came across a group of peasants from Krezk out searching for a missing person, Old Lady Mimsy, who’d been out looking for mushrooms. We agreed to help in the search, and Wick was able to pick up her trail. We found the old woman at the bottom another pit, thankfully without spikes. Wick lowered down a rope for her and got her out and reunited her with the peasants, who offered to escort us back to Krezk.
Inside the walls of Krezk, we found a surprisingly pleasant town, almost entirely self-sufficient. The villagers rarely left the walls. In the mountains that loomed above the village, we could see a large monastery. One of the peasants told us it was the Abbey of St. Markovia, but that the villagers avoid going there. There were strange dog-creatures living there, and the abbot himself was rumored to be Strahd in disguise. In the north of the village was a small pond and a gazebo, which the villagers called the Shrine of the White Sun. Inside the gazebo was a statue that Cara and Peter recognized as the Morning Lord, same deity we saw depicted in Argynvostholt.
We met with the Burgomaster of Krezk, named Dimitri Krezkof. Word of our exploits in Vallaki had reached him, and he asked us to look into what was delaying shipments of wine, the one thing Krezk imports. We also asked him about the werewolves, and he said that there had been some werewolf attacks occurring to northeast. He also tlold us that the Druids of Yester Hill had been giving them some trouble lately (possibly connected to pit traps we found). The townsfolk also told us that the burgomaster had recently lost a son to illness.
We decided our first order of business was to find the werewolves, hopefully to secure an alliance. We made our way northeast, and eventually found a cave, shaped like a wolf’s head. The entrance guarded by a couple of werewolf women. ENGR-23 boldly approached and said we were seeking allies to fight against Strahd. The werewolves didn’t seem to like hearing that at all, and began threatening to eat us. We eventually talked the guards into bringing their leader out, in return for a taste of the hag’s head that Peter was carrying around (as well the promise of a couple of druids later). Peter reluctantly tossed them the head, and the guards disappeared inside the cave for a few minutes, then returned with another woman, named Zuleika.
Zuleika told us that there was some disagreement among werewolves, centered around Strahd. Her mate, Emil, was the former pack-leader and hadn’t wanted to ally with Strahd. However, Emil had been deposed by another werewolf and had been captured and taken to Strahd’s castle. Zuleika promised to support us if negotiations broke down and we end up fighting Strahd, if we could bring back Emil or at least bring confirmation that he was dead.
After striking this deal, we decided to make our way back to Krezk and check out the Abbey. We made our up the winding path that led to the gates of the monastery. ENGR opened the gate, which made a loud screech and alerted some guards. The guards were humanoid, but seemed to be made up of parts of lots of different animals. The guards told us they were mongrel-folk, and all members of the Bellview family. Most of the Bellviews had to stay locked up, but these guards and a few others were intelligent enough to be out and about, though there never left the abbey. We asked if we could meet with the Abbot (apparently the only non-mongrel person here), but the guards told us he was too busy and took us to see someone named Clovin instead.
We entered the main hall of the abbey and could hear beautiful music playing from above. There was a large gold plaque with the sun emblazoned on it hanging on the wall, and in hall we saw a man in a long robe with a holy symbol around his neck, apparently teaching a young woman to dance. The man turned out to be the Abbott himself, and was very friendly. He told us that the Bellview family had been cursed and that his job was to look after them. He also introduced us to the young woman he was with, Vasilika. According to the Abbot, the most recent object of Strahd’s affections had disappeared,3 so Vasilika had “volunteered” to marry Strahd in her place. Vasilika wasn’t a mongrel-folk like the Bellviews, but did seem to have been stitched together from many different bodies, Frankenstein-style. The Abbott offered to provide his services in resurrecting us should we meet an untimely end, if we could procure a wedding dress for Vasilika. Also, they needed some of the finest wine, but shipments from the winery had stopped.
Out of some morbid curiosity, we also went upstairs to meet Clovin, who apparently was the person playing the music. A two-headed mongrel-man sat playing a viola with one crab-like claw. One head was satyr-like, the other smaller and covered with scales. Clovin was very friendly and also very drunk, and once more asked us to investigate whatever was stopping the wine shipments.
We called it a night there. Next week, we’ll investigate the winery, since that seems to be the most important thing to everyone in Krezk.