AvocaD&D and Tabletop Gaming: Yig Snake Grandaddy, Part 6

Welcome back to the weekly D&D and Tabletop Gaming thread!  Here’s a place where we can talk about Dungeons & Dragons or any other tabletop games 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.

The subclass of the week this time is the Way of the Four Elements Monk. Monks of this tradition learn to focus their ki in order to harness the power of the elements, fire, water, earth and air. This allows you to cast spells or empower your strikes with elemental energies.

Unlike most other subclasses in 5e, the Four Elements Monk really only has one subclass feature. At level 3, a Disciple of the Elements begins to learn Elemental Disciplines, which are powered by their ki. You automatically learn the Elemental Attunement discipline, which allows you take control of minor elemental forces around you for a brief time for some cantrip-like effects. As an action, you can create a harmless sensory effect related to air, water, fire, or earth; instantaneously light or snuff out a candle, torch, or small campfire; chill or warm up to 1 pound of non-living material for up to 1 hour; or cause earth, fire, water, or mist in a 1-foot cube to form crude images for up to 1 minute.

In addition, you can also choose 1 other Elemental Discipline to learn from among the following options:

  • Fangs of the Fire Snake: When you use the Attack action, you can spend 1 ki point to cause tendrils of flame to extend from your hands and feet. This increases the reach of your unarmed strikes by 10 feet for the rest of your turn, and makes them deal fire damage instead of bludgeoning. If you hit with an unarmed strike, you can also spend 1 additional ki point to deal an additional 1d10 fire damage.
  • Fist of Four Thunders: You can spend 2 ki points to cast Thunderwave.
  • Rush of the Gale Spirits: You can spend 2 ki points to cast Gust of Wind.
  • Shape the Flowing River: As an action, you can spend 1 ki point and choose an area of water or ice no larger than 30 feet on a side within 120 feet of you. You can instantly change water to ice, or vice versa, as well as reshape the ice in any manner you choose. However, the extent of the changes can’t exceed more than half of the area’s largest dimension. In other words, if you have a 30-foot cube of water, you can make an ice wall that is 15 feet high. You also cannot use the ice to trop or injure a creature in the area.
  • Sweeping Cinder Strike: You can spend 2 ki points to cast Burning Hands.
  • Unbroken Air: As an action, you can spend 2 ki points to create a blast of compressed air. A creature with 30 feet of you must make a STR saving throw or take 3d10 bludgeoning damage and be pushed 20 feet away from you and knocked prone. You can increase the damage by spending additional ki points, adding 1d10 for each extra ki you spend. A creature that makes its STR save isn’t pushed or knocked prone, but does still take half of the damage.
  • Water Whip: As an action, you can 2 ki points to make a whip of water to attack a creature within 30 feet of you. The target must make a DEX saving throw or take 3d10 bludgeoning damage and either be knocked prone or be pulled up to 25 feet closer to you. You can increase the damage by spending additional ki points, adding 1d10 for each extra ki you sepnd. A creature that makes its DEX save takes half damage is not pulled or knocked prone.

When you reach level 6, you can choose a second Elemental Discipline, either from the list above or from one of the following new options:

  • Clench of the North Wind: You can spend 3 ki points to cast Hold Person.
  • Gong of the Summit: You can spend 3 ki points to cast Shatter.

Also note that whenever you learn a new Elemental Discipline, you can also choose to replace one you already know with a new one (eg, at level 6 you can choose to learn Clench of the North Wind, and also replace Fist of Four Thunders with Gong of the Summit).

At 11th level, you can learn a third Elemental Discipline, again choosing from the list above or one of the following new options:

  • Flames of the Phoenix: You can spend 4 ki points to cast Fireball.
  • Mist Stance: You can spend 4 ki points to cast Gaseous Form, targeting yourself.
  • Ride the Wind: You can spend 4 ki points to cast Fly, targeting yourself.

Finally, at level 17, you learn a fourth and final Elemental Discipline, once again choosing any of the above disciplines or one of the following new options:

  • Breath of Winter: You can spend 6 ki points to cast Cone of Cold.
  • Eternal Mountain Defense: You can spend 5 ki points to cast Stoneskin, targeting yourself.
  • River of Hungry Flame: You can spend 5 ki points to cast Wall of Fire.
  • Wave of Rolling Earth: You can spend 6 ki points to cast Wall of Stone.

Note that many Elemental Disciplines allow you to cast spells. You use the relevant casting time for each spell, but you don’t need to provide any material components. Once you reach 5th level, you can also choose to spend additional ki points to cast a spell at a higher level. The spell’s level increases for each additional ki you spend, but there is a limit. At level 5, you can only spend a maximum of 3 ki points to cast a spell (ie, the base cost listed above and any additional for upcasting). This limit increases to 4 ki points when you reach level 9; 5 when you reach level 13, and 6 at level 17. The effect of these limits is to line up the Four Elements Monk’s spellcasting progression with that of other half-casters like the Ranger or Paladin.

One of the biggest drawbacks to the Four Elements Monk is that Elemental Disciplines burn through your ki points very quickly, especially at low levels, leaving you without any ki to use the base class abilities like Flurry of Blows or Stunning Strike. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything did provide an option for the Monk class that help alleviate that a little–Ki-Fueled Attacks allows you make one attack as a bonus action whenever you spend at least one ki point as part of your action. However, check with your DM to make sure they allow the use of Tasha’s rules at the table.

Players and Characters

Wafflicious is in the DM’s seat for this 5e Cthulhu Mythos adventure. Our players include:

  • JosephusBrown as Anton Illinois (Human Inquisitive Rogue/Fighter), a disgraced archaeology professor who has turned to seeking arcane rituals
  • CleverGuy as Bastian Updelver (Deep Gnome Alchemist Artificer), an eccentric local potionmaker
  • TheHayesCode as Hazel Green (Dhampir Spirits Bard), a flapper, séance MC, and aspiring spiritualist
  • Spiny Creature as Ku (Kenku Twilight Cleric), a local priestess of Bastet, goddess of protection
  • The Wasp as Leah Zann (Tiefling Great Old One Warlock), a professor from Miskatonic University who accepted a deal with Yog Sothoth to get an advantage over her male colleagues
  • Otto as Minty Rocksmasher (Dwarf Berserker Barbarian), survivor of an eldritch accident which decimated her tribe
Stampedes and Secrets

An excerpt from the notes of Bastian Updelver…

I spent some time examining the pieces that we’d broken off of the crystalized Elder Thing, but there wasn’t much to learn. They were just inert crystals, hollow on the inside. Perhaps Greencloak is right, and there’s nothing left of the Elder Thing. Still, I kept staring at the statue the whole time we were in the tower, waiting for it to do something. Nothing ever happened, though, at least nothing that I could see. Hazel did some poking around in and found a couple of more of those strange star-shaped rocks, made of the same porphyry as the tower itself.

We traveled the rest of the Karstlands with the entire expedition together, for the most part. As we walked, Ku got my attention and indicated that she wanted to speak in private to the little team we’d formed. We hung back from the main group a ways, and Ku let us know that she’d risen early in the morning to perform a ritual to detect the presence of evil about that Elder Thing, but instead she was surprised to actually sense some aberrant presence coming from the wagon–specifically from Greencloak’s small private chamber inside the wagon. I knew he wasn’t telling us everything about this trip! We started to come up with a plan to get a peak inside that room as soon as we could.

knowing that Greencloak is a wizard, I figured that door was sure ensorcelled in some way. I had already coated a stick that I picked up with a substance I invented that would react to the presence of certain forms of magic in the area–sure enough, the wand picked up some kind of protective enchantment on the door. Ku and Leah confirmed it, when they witnessed Greencloak apparently casting some kind of spell on the door before turning in for the night. Or maybe he was just removing whatever protection he had in place. Our best plan was to turn Anton’s owl into a spider, figuring that might be small enough to avoid setting off any traps, magical or otherwise, and send it under the door to look around. But it was probably best to do so when the wizard himself wasn’t inside…

The next day, we were sent out scouting, looking for a place called Bald Hill. It took a while, but we found a dry river bed that seemed to head in the right direction. We were well ahead of the wagon, still quietly discussing our plan, when Ku suddenly looked very worried and started making low rumbling sounds. I can usually understand my Kenku friend, but this was something I’d never seen her do before. Thankfully, Anton had picked up on it, too. The ground itself was shaking–there was a stampede heading right towards us from further down the gorge! Anton signaled back to Greencloak to get the wagon turned around and started making for the lower riverbank on our right. It was a good thing I’d prepared some of my Grasshopper Serum–my legs are simply not long enough to cover the same distance as the big folk. Using my potion, though, I was able to jump straight from the bottom of the gorge to the top of the bank. As I looked back, I could see a handful of large, long-necked lizards and a couple of slightly smaller, spike-backed ones appear out of the dust cloud, all apparently being chased down by a bipedal lizard with nasty-looking teeth and two bony ridges protruding over its eyes. My friends and I were all able to make it to safety, but the wagon was still in the middle of the riverbed, trying to turn around.

Minty threw a javelin into the lead longneck, hoping to bring it down and force the other stampeding beasts to slow down. It work, mostly–a pair of longnecks made it past–but it also managed to capture the attention of the smaller predator, which turned and started to rush toward our position on the bank. Most of us had begun climbing trees at this point, but Minty was still on the ground. I shot a Grease bomb to slow it down, and Hazel made it glow with her Faerie Fire. Anton and Ku started attacking the fallen predator, but then a monstrous beast appeared out of the dust–it might have been the very same monster that we’d fled from just a few weeks ago.

Luckily, the stampede had been somewhat hindered by Minty’s javelin. The predators were mostly concerned with the larger prey piling up in the gorge in front of them, but there were still a couple of longnecks baring down on the cart. Just one would have been enough to smash it to splinters. We turned out attention to bringing one of them down, and managed to at least make it veer off in one direction. Greencloak was able to take care of the other himself, using some powerful magic to kill the beast before it got too close.

With most of the predators busy feasting on the poor creatures we had slowed enough for them to catch, and the cart safe for the moment, we retreated into the woods away from the riverbed. Eventually we met up with Greencloak again, as well as the others teams, and made camp for another night.

Next day, we were put on wagon guard duty, and we decided it was the perfect time to peak inside Greencloak’s chamber. The plan went off without a hitch–Anton’s spider slipped under the door and into the chamber, and then Anton could see everything in the room though its eyes. What he saw… well, I could tell he was deeply disturbed by it from the way he described to us. And I can’t say I blame him. Huddled together in a corner of the room, there were two sallow, bald, pale humans, wearing black robes with heavy metal collars around their necks. And even worse, they had faintly glowing red runes tattooed on their faces–runes that Anton said were designed to remove a person’s soul, leaving them simply hollowed-out husks.

I don’t know what to think about all this. Greencloak never seemed the type to do something so horrible, but wizards can be tricky sometimes. Hazel thought we should try to bring in some of the other adventurers to help us mount a rescue or something, and went to Gunner, thinking that as a Paladin he’d be interested in righting this wrong. Unfortunately, Gunner wouldn’t hear a bad word about Greencloak–he simply didn’t believe that the wizard would do such as thing. I hoped he’d at least keep quiet about it, but I did see him speaking quietly to Greencloak later that night…