Earth, fire, air, water: long ago, the four elements lived together in harmony within the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons beta. Then, everything changed when the Player’s Handbook was officially released. Only the Dungeon Master, master of the world itself can save what the Way of the Four Elements became, but I believe it can be reborn. Okay, okay. I promise I’ll try to keep the Avatar: The Last Airbender references to a minimum (even though it’s my favorite TV show of all time).
When 5E D&D was still in beta I eagerly downloaded each patch of new content, and when it was announced the Way of the Four Elements made the cut into the PHB I was absolutely ecstatic! Finally! I would get to play a character like the avatar! I’d played a four elements-based monk character in a homebrewed version of 2E AD&D in the past and I was so excited to make him into 5E D&D, officially using the rules for what had previously been just a dream for me to see Wizards of the Coast put out.
So, imagine my disappointment when I read how the once-epic Way of the Four Elements had devolved and nerfed into a ki-burning nightmare with fewer options than I’d ever feared they might reduce it to. A lot of the core problems with the Way of the Four Elements as it stands struggles for two primary reasons, in my opinion.
Over on Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted discussed the best race to play a blood hunter in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. If I’m honest the blood hunter class confuses me. I get the gist of it, and it certainly captures the flavor of both The Last Witch Hunter movie and The Witcher stories that inspired and inform the class features and flavor. Blood hunters got a lot going on with their rites, curses and Orders. This 5E D&D character class designed by Critical Role’s Matt Mercer combines martial prowess with blood magic creating a risk vs. reward scenario for characters who can push the limits of their own safety to increase the power of their class features. But I’m not here to dissect the blood hunter or even puzzle out this noodly character class. Instead I’m looking through the material and imagining all the ways I can swipe from this collection of class features to create new things for my own 5E D&D campaign. So let’s get into it.
If you have not already gone over to Nerdarchy the Store and picked up the awesome fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons supplement Lord of Dead Dreams I highly recommend doing so. It is full of cool additions to your 5E D&D game. You get a unique ogre magi villain, some new minions to play with, a short adventure and some new magic items to play with in your games. I also recently shared a new creation to enhance the material in the book right here on the website. You can add the dreamt creatures to your game on their own or to bolster the ranks of Jarease’s underlings and help with the supply side of his illicit trade in dream essence. If you’re still craving more, let me add one more powerful magical item for your 5E D&D game — the Dreamtaker Orb.
Over on Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted addressed a concern from the video audience community regarding character build guides for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. They share a great discussion on the motivation to create character build guides and character builds in general. These days we imagine and create characters for 5E D&D but building characters is a nerdy tradition throughout all the editions of the game. I certainly created far more 2E AD&D characters than I ever played, and we played a lot. Since we outline and research video discussions together as a team, I thought it would be fun to share how we arrive at our version of character build guides for 5E D&D. So let’s get into it.
Salutations, nerds! I’m going to take a break here to talk to you about January’s Patreon reward content, aptly named Treasures of the Tundra. The idea this time around was to pull together content all about the players for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons, and I feel like we’ve done a pretty excellent job of this if I do say so myself. Within you will find 17 new magic items, two beast mounts I affectionately refer to as the Big Woolly and the Small Woolly. Additionally, you’ll find 10 new poisons specifically geared to cold climate play, and a new playable race, the yaska (or, so the more irreverent folks might say, miniature yeti). You’ll also find four new playable subclasses for 5E D&D play.
Nerdarchy has shared many great posts over the many years we have been around. But recently something popped back into my mind and it bent and twisted into new directions. There is a post about randomizing the eye rays of a beholder. This was such a good blog post we wound up doing a video on it. We talked about what kind of beholder would have the eye rays that we randomized. But this time of year people are thinking about the holidays and with that the big man known as Santa Claus. What if I were to take the randomized beholder concept and pick the eye rays Santa might have and make a Santa Beholder? I recently picked up am unpainted beholder from WizKids I planned to make into into a Christmas Beholder and all my ideas began to fall into place.
Over at the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Facebook group I came across a post sharing a very intriguing idea for a healing cantrip for 5E D&D. I know what you’re thinking — it’s madness! — and believe me I’d agree with you almost all of the time. But I think there’s some merit to this homebrew healing cantrip worth considering. Maybe it’s perfect for your game or maybe it would break the system asunder. Character death in 5E D&D doesn’t occur with the kind of frequency it has in past editions. Your mileage may vary of course but the rules for death and dying lean towards the forgiving side. At any rate I think close wound is worth taking a closer look at and sharing with the D&D community. So let’s get into it and see what this homebrew healing cantrip for 5E D&D is all about.
Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Kwanzaa! Blessed Yule! Phew! Happy Hogswatch! *Wipes sweat from brow* There are a ton of holidays this time of year, and that last one mentioned is what sparked the inspiration for this article. Hogswatch is a fictional holiday presented in the Discworld. During my annual re-read of Hogfather by Terry Pratchett I got to thinking about creating original holidays in fantasy worlds.
Baby, it’s cold outside! Snow peppers the air, ice clings to roads and the frigid wind cuts through your layers like a cutlass. With the frigid weather upon us, it occurs to me there isn’t really a canonized condition for being overcome with cold as of yet. Granted, exhaustion technically covers this basis, but exhaustion doesn’t quite evoke how I would tend to think of cold affecting characters. With the current rules, a Captain America or Aang sort of scenario with a player being flash frozen into stasis doesn’t really work. That person would just die under the rules of exhaustion. This, compounded with the consideration that we have a couple of cantrips to codify how cold affects creatures, I propose a separate condition called “freezing.”
There is one rule in most roleplaying games that is especially true in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. There’s a check or saving throw for everything. Does a character want to jump across the chasm? Athletics check, please. Does a character want to avoid falling over a cliff? Dexterity saving throw, please. This applies to special abilities or spells characters or monsters may have as well. in 5E D&D conditions generated by these spells or abilities have ability checks or saving throws attached to them.
It’s a fact of life — there isn’t an tabletop roleplaying game out there someone, somewhere hasn’t tweaked in one way or another. Opinions and perspectives are multitude. The value of these outlooks varies, and their worth only truly judged in a public forum through playtesting. To this end, I would like to offer a few fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons house rules regarding milestone XP and inspiration that have existed at my table for a few years now, with the same expectation other Dungeon Masters further tinker with them to suit their own needs. This is only logical; not every rule fits ever table.
When Nerdarchist Ted pitched the idea for a video response to Matt Colville’s Action Oriented Monsters video I was all in. I’d just watched the video myself and fallen in love with the idea of Villain Actions for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. We’re no strangers to creating new 5E D&D monsters. And like Matt mentions, making creatures in the style of player characters feels kludgy and needlessly complicated and time consuming. But while we’ve generally kept to the existing monster resources like legendary and lair actions, and striving to include action economy options like bonus actions and reactions, Matt took things to the next level by developing a new kind of action — the Villain Action. Like any good Dungeon Master, when I spot a cool idea I steal it for my game. So while Nerdarchists Dave and Ted discuss the ins and outs of Villain Actions on the Nerdarchy YouTube channel, I’m gonna try my hand at creating some of my own.
When we revamped Nerdarchy the Patreon, revising our monthly rewards was one of the most exciting parts of the process. For Patreon supporters this meant they’d receive the entirety of the rewards package with new Fifth Edition content ready to drop right into your game, at the lowest tier. Previously, supporters at the $3 level received the Mage Forge supplement with new magic items. But for the past couple of years now we send the entire digital product — 15-30 pages with full color art — to all supporters at the $3 level and above. Order of the Wizened was one of the earliest revised rewards packages. I take particular pride in that one since I had free reign to create the content from soup to nuts. Since then we’ve created a ton of content for Patreon supporters, and these products eventually make their way to Nerdarchy the Store. With the content available to everyone now, we thought it would be fun to revisit these earlier products and create some enhanced content for them right here on the site. So let’s get into it and create some special new feats for 5E D&D.
Why should School of Divination wizards have all the fun when it comes to parting the veils of space, time, and consciousness in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons? The Norn Otherworldly Patron is a fateweaver who holds destiny in the threads between her fingers. Traditionally there are three Norns, though there are other entities holding the title of fate and with the ability to bestow such powers through pacts. For the most part the needs of the Norn deal with the order of things and keeping destiny in line. As such her instructions are often cryptic. Fate does not bend to good or evil, it simply is, and as the Norn warlock is called one day to do something that seems beneficial to all involved so might you be called to be the villain in turn. In the meantime you can use the powers granted by your pact with the Norn to tug on the threads of fate however you see fit.
The Mis-Adventurers: An (Almost) Epic Tale is a new adult comedic fantasy adventure novel that hits a lot of the beats of a D&D campaign and the lovely disasters that can ensue. As the author, I very consciously designed the story this way, because some of the best stories I’ve ever experienced have been around the game table.
A large part of what makes D&D work so well as a storytelling avenue is its codified rules. These define things like how magic works, what weapons can do, and even resolving complex maneuvers. As an author trying to capture the proverbial magic of a tabletop roleplaying game story, I knew I’d have to codify many of the book’s events in terms of game mechanics. As such, I devised a unique new D&D subclass for each character.