Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #30 – “Alt-itis”

Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #30 – “Alt-itis”

Out of the Box introduction

A common problem some Dungeon Masters have to deal with is one of players desiring to change characters often. I can admit that I, too, love making a wide variety of characters even if they may not see play. If a player isn’t focusing on the character they are playing at the time, this may lead to decision making not only affecting the distracted player at hand, but may ripple out to the characters around the distracted character. It may even affect the DM. This can grow into a problem where some players spend more time making characters than actually playing one.

D&D Out of the Box reincarnate
A possible solution to this might be getting some players to “test drive” a race. How do we, as DMs, accomplish this? That’s the point of this encounter. Using an existing mechanic (the reincarnate spell, page 271, Player’s Handbook), and providing a temporary circumstance tied to a location, then a player who may have a desire to play something else could have their potential boredom temporarily satisfied.
The hope is the DM can abate or reduce a player character turnover, at least on a race basis. For those desiring a more recently released race (say, from Volo’s Guide to Monsters), the reincarnate spell contains several entries containing subspecies. One could simply count all elve” under one result, using the other two results to insert two other races (like goliath or kenku), and then applying the same mechanic to the duplicate dwarf, gnome and halfling slots. The table below will reflect this.

Environment

Any (in this case, a small cave in the wilderness)

Level

Any

Description

The outcropping the party faces is different only in that it has a wide crack, perhaps 5 feet wide at the base and stretching to 20 feet up the cliff face to where the crack becomes so thin only insects could crawl inside. Still, with care, it’s possible for medium-sized creatures to squeeze inside so long as they mind their heads toward the 7-8 foot mark where the ceiling becomes very sharp and tight.
The way twists inward for a good 50 feet before beginning to open up into a larger chamber. The football-shaped cavern is probably 40 feet deep, 20 feet high in spots, and is almost 15 feet wide at its centre. It shrinks again to a 5 foot wide point, but in an unusual manner. The far end is worked by tools to flatten it into a formal stonework doorway. The living rock around the stone door is marked in some form of pictographs of ancient origin. A successful DC 20 Intelligence (History) check allows a character to recognize and translate the pictographs. In an ancient form of common they read “Chamber of Many Selves”.
The door itself appears to have multiple faces over its entire surface. Some are human, but many others are present, including some of either a rare or unusual origin (DM’s discretion: include at least one of every playable race you’ll allow or that will be included on the chart below). A dwarf with Stone Cunning who succeeds on a DC 20 Intelligence (History) check knows this stonework used techniques from several kingdoms or empires ago (depending on the history of the particular region the DM is placing this in).
The door itself has no latch or apparent hinge. Should a PC push on it, it will open easily on hidden stone hinges in the frame, exposing a massive 50 foot diameter circular chamber within with a domed 20 foot high ceiling. Four empty stone braziers will alight in blue flame, revealing the 10 foot diameter stone dais they surround at its cardinal points. The flames showcase reliefs on the entire domed wall and ceiling. The reliefs are of a garden filled with all manner of plants and natural animals. A successful DC 17 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check reveals some of the animals and plants have features from the faces on the door.
Out of the Box D&D
Multifaceted? Check. Iridescent? Check. Google-fu is strong.
Hovering 5 feet above the centre of the dias is what looks like a multifaceted stone of a reflective quality which slowly spins in spot. The stone is about the size of a watermelon, and a successful DC 15 Intelligence (Nature) or Intelligence (jeweler’s tools) check reveals it is not of a stone familiar to the land. Its iridescent colour shifts like spilled oil in the sun.
Should a PC touch it, then things really start to happen. The stone will begin to pulse with a rainbow of colours, and will begin to emit a loud, pulsating hum. It will grow brighter and brighter. This will continue for two rounds, at which point, if the character who touched it is still in the room, they will need to succeed a DC 15 Constitution saving throw.
Should they pass, nothing will happen. Should they fail, consult the table below. The DM or the player can roll randomly, and consult the chart below. The result will be the target’s new race.
This race will replace all racial features the character had before, but will not change their class or background. The only alteration to their class will be from replacing old racial adjustments with the new racial adjustments to their ability scores. Gear will alter to fit their new form. Native languages (at the discretion of the DM) can also alter to include the new race’s native language at the cost of what would have been their old native language.
Should the PC leave the chamber and exit the cave within one hour, this change will revert to what they had previously. If they stay past the one hour marker, the change will be permanent. If a PC leaves and re-enters the cavern, the stone will not affect that character a second time. (The DM is always the final arbiter here.)
d100RaceSource
01-02Aasimar, FallenVolo's Guide to Monsters
03-04Aasimar, ProtectorVolo's Guide to Monsters
05-06Aasimar, ScourgeVolo's Guide to Monsters
07-09DragonbornPlayer's Handbook
10-13Dwarf, HillPlayer's Handbook
14-17Dwarf, MountainPlayer's Handbook
18-20Dwarf, DuergarSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
21-23Elf, DrowPlayer's Handbook
24-27Elf, HighPlayer's Handbook
28-31Elf, WoodPlayer's Handbook
32-33FirbolgVolo's Guide to Monsters
34-35GoliathVolo's Guide to Monsters
36-39Gnome, ForestPlayer's Handbook
40-43Gnome, RockPlayer's Handbook
44-46Gnome, DeepSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
47-50Half-elfPlayer's Handbook
51-54Half-orcPlayer's Handbook
55-56Halfling, GhostwiseSword Coast Adventurer's Guide
57-60Halfling, LightfootPlayer's Handbook
61-64Halfling, StoutPlayer's Handbook
65-82HumanPlayer's Handbook
83-86MonstrousVarious - roll d6 and consult below
1BugbearVolo's Guide to Monsters
2GoblinVolo's Guide to Monsters
3HobgoblinVolo's Guide to Monsters
4KoboldVolo's Guide to Monsters
5OrcVolo's Guide to Monsters
6Yuan-tiVolo's Guide to Monsters
87-88KenkuVolo's Guide to Monsters
89-90LizardfolkVolo's Guide to Monsters
91-92TabaxiVolo's Guide to Monsters
93-96TieflingPlayer's Handbook
97-98TritonVolo's Guide to Monsters
100Player's choiceThe player!

Monsters

None

Treasure

None, save a possible racial change to abate character boredom

Complications

The biggest worry for a DM is the target player(s) may not desire this sort of random race assignment. Be clear your players may or may not want this sort of encounter, and adjust accordingly. If you’re not sure, perhaps allow success on a DC 10 Intelligence (Arcana) or Intelligence (Religion) check to discern the nature of the stone, and then allow a pair of rolls to determine the outcome. In other words, the DM rolls once, and the player rolls once, and the player gets to pick between the two. The DM might even wish to make the effect of this stone have a temporary effect for longer, or wears off if the player doesn’t leave until the next dawn. There should always be a lot of room to move in encounters/traps like these. If there’s a concern this will be used constantly, then have the stone disintegrate after all players have had a turn. If the DM has any doubt their players may not be open to this sort of thing, do not use it. It’s better to do something else than make a player feel like they’ve lost agency.
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I fell into gaming in the oddest of ways. Coming out of a bad divorce, my mom tried a lot of different things to keep my brother and I busy and out of trouble. It didn’t always work. One thing that I didn’t really want to do, but did because my mom asked, was enroll in Venturers. As an older Scout-type movement, I wasn’t really really for the whole camping-out thing. Canoe trips and clean language were not my forte. Drag racing, BMX and foul language were.
What surprised me though was one change of pace our Scout leader tried. He DMed a game of the original D&D that came out after Chainmail (and even preceedd the Red Box). All the weapons just did 1d6 damage, and the three main demi-humans (Elf, Dwarf and Halfling) were not only races, but classes. There were three alignments (Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic). It was very basic. I played all the way through high school and met a lot of new people through gaming. My expected awkwardness around the opposite sex disappeared when I had one game that was seven girls playing. They, too, never thought that they would do this, and it was a great experiement.
But it got me hooked. I loved gaming, and my passion for it became infectious. Despite hanging with a very rough crowd who typically spent Fridays scoring drugs, getting into fights, and whatnot, I got them all equally hooked on my polyhedral addiction. I DMed guys around my table that had been involved in the fast-living/die young street culture of the 80s, yet they took to D&D like it was second nature. They still talk to me about those days, even when one wore a rival patch on his back to the one I was wearing. We just talked D&D. It was our language.
Dungeons and Dragons opened up a whole new world too. I met lots off oddballs along with some great people. I played games like Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Car Wars, Battletech, lots of GURPS products, Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, Twilight 2000, Rolemaster, Champions, Marvel Superheroes, Earth Dawn…the list goes on. There was even a time while I was risiding with a patch on my back and I would show up for Mechwarrior (the clix kind) tournaments. I was the odd man out there.
Gaming lead to me attending a D&D tournament at a local convention, which lead to being introduced to my paintball team, called Black Company (named after the book), which lead to meeting my wife. She was the sister of my 2iC (Second in Command), and I fell in love at first sight.
Gaming lead to me meeting my best friend, who was my best man at my wedding and is the godfather of my youngest daughter.
Life being what it is, there was some drama with my paintball team/D&D group, and we parted ways for a number of years. In that time I tried out two LARP systems, which taught me a lot about public speaking, improvisation, and confidence. There was a silver lining. I didn’t play D&D again for a very long time, though.

Then 5E came out.

I discovered the Adventurer’s League, and made a whole new group of friends. I discovered Acquisitions Incorporated, Dwarven Tavern, and Nerdarchy. I was hooked again.
And now my daughter is playing. I introduced her to 5E and my style of DMing, and we talk in “gamer speak” a lot to each other (much to the shagrin of my wife/her mother…who still doesn’t “get it”). It’s my hope that one day she’ll be behind the screen DMing her kids through an amazing adventure. Time will tell.

Out of the Box D&D Encounters, Series 2, #29 - "Drinking Problem"
Follow Mike Gould:

I fell into gaming in the oddest of ways. Coming out of a bad divorce, my mom tried a lot of different things to keep my brother and I busy and out of trouble. It didn't always work. One thing that I didn't really want to do, but did because my mom asked, was enroll in Venturers. As an older Scout-type movement, I wasn't really really for the whole camping-out thing. Canoe trips and clean language were not my forte. Drag racing, BMX and foul language were. What surprised me though was one change of pace our Scout leader tried. He DMed a game of the original D&D that came out after Chainmail (and even preceedd the Red Box). All the weapons just did 1d6 damage, and the three main demi-humans (Elf, Dwarf and Halfling) were not only races, but classes. There were three alignments (Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic). It was very basic. I played all the way through high school and met a lot of new people through gaming. My expected awkwardness around the opposite sex disappeared when I had one game that was seven girls playing. They, too, never thought that they would do this, and it was a great experiement. But it got me hooked. I loved gaming, and my passion for it became infectious. Despite hanging with a very rough crowd who typically spent Fridays scoring drugs, getting into fights, and whatnot, I got them all equally hooked on my polyhedral addiction. I DMed guys around my table that had been involved in the fast-living/die young street culture of the 80s, yet they took to D&D like it was second nature. They still talk to me about those days, even when one wore a rival patch on his back to the one I was wearing. We just talked D&D. It was our language. Dungeons and Dragons opened up a whole new world too. I met lots off oddballs along with some great people. I played games like Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Car Wars, Battletech, lots of GURPS products, Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, Twilight 2000, Rolemaster, Champions, Marvel Superheroes, Earth Dawn...the list goes on. There was even a time while I was risiding with a patch on my back and I would show up for Mechwarrior (the clix kind) tournaments. I was the odd man out there. Gaming lead to me attending a D&D tournament at a local convention, which lead to being introduced to my paintball team, called Black Company (named after the book), which lead to meeting my wife. She was the sister of my 2iC (Second in Command), and I fell in love at first sight. Gaming lead to me meeting my best friend, who was my best man at my wedding and is the godfather of my youngest daughter. Life being what it is, there was some drama with my paintball team/D&D group, and we parted ways for a number of years. In that time I tried out two LARP systems, which taught me a lot about public speaking, improvisation, and confidence. There was a silver lining. I didn't play D&D again for a very long time, though. Then 5E came out. I discovered the Adventurer's League, and made a whole new group of friends. I discovered Acquisitions Incorporated, Dwarven Tavern, and Nerdarchy. I was hooked again. And now my daughter is playing. I introduced her to 5E and my style of DMing, and we talk in "gamer speak" a lot to each other (much to the shagrin of my wife/her mother...who still doesn't "get it"). It's my hope that one day she'll be behind the screen DMing her kids through an amazing adventure. Time will tell.

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