adnd 2e – Is there any official rule that mitigates power checks for NPCs?

The PCs escaped from Aggarath and found themselves in Falkovnia. Originally hailing from Toril, the party walked south in hopes of reaching Calimshan but, instead, approached Aerie and fought an elite Talon patrol. The session ended with the PC defeating the patrol.

So I began thinking what should happen next. I started creating Rudolph, a 64-year old Talon of Taladas using Death Unchained and some other Ravenloft texts for AD&D, 2nd Edition but paused when I realized Rudy had to be a monster.

A Falkovnian soldier is supposed to consume darklord Vlad Drakov’s brew upon joining the military, and consuming the brew makes it so the consumer now experiences pleasure by watching folks be tortured to death. Torture is an automatic power check as per Domains of Dread (16). This should make many soldiers—at least partially—into actual physical monsters unless the soldier eschews such pleasure. (A difficult thing to justify in a Ravenloft campaign!)

Drinking Drakov’s brew doesn’t give the drinker a free pass to torture. Consequences really do seem to be in order. Thus, even in a military with a very high casualty rate, a longtime soldier should probably be a straight-up monster unless he eschews the vast—and sick and twisted—pleasure that’s a result of having consumed Drakov’s brew. (So you know, the brew “is rumored to contain the gritty powder of a ground-up talisman of ultimate evil and swamp water from the lair of a will o’ wisp.”)

Is there an official rule somewhere that mitigates power checks for NPCs in the Ravenloft setting? Or is Falkovnia just a breeding ground for future darklords?

navmesh – Is collision detection with static environment necessary for npcs

Summarizing my comment above:

You can forego collision-checking/handling between NPCs and static geometry if and only if NPCs can never leave the navmesh.

If an external force can throw NPCs off the navmesh, then they could potentially get into a situation where they’d collide with static geometry outside the navmesh area.

In some games this can cause a glitch where an NPC knocked back by a dynamic collision or explosion becomes stranded and can’t find their way back to the navmesh, or just passes straight through the static objects entirely and falls out of the level.

If this can happen in your game, you may want to enable collision-checking anytime something pushes or ragdolls an NPC, and then disable it again once the NPC is safely back in control of their motion on the navmesh.

If you have no outside forces or other influences that can push NPCs off the mesh, or you enforce the navmesh bounds in such a way that they override these other influences, then you may be safe skipping static collision checks with them entirely.

combat – Do NPCs get free attacks only on total Bullet Time failure or also on partial failure?

I have the original version of Ghost Ops (which uses Fudge dice), not the Savage Worlds version or the OSR version. This question is about that original version, but if you think the rules in one of the other versions can throw some light on this, please chip in.

On page 132 of the core rulebook there is an example of a failed Bullet Time action. The PC was attempting to shoot 3 NPCs in the head, and needed an 8 but only got a 6.

The book then has some more rules:

The Handler can decide that the Operator succeeded in some of the attempt. Maybe they barged the door and managed to get 2 of the attempted headshots off but missed the third.
Failing a Bullet Time event places the Operator as prone for 1 round, allowing any Tangos free attacks. Deciding to attempt Bullet Time is risky but can be ultimately rewarding.

So, if the GM has said the failed roll can be partial success (hit 2 of the NPCs) and partial failure (miss the 3rd NPC), which of these applies?

  1. It still counts as a normal fail – the PC is prone and subject to a free attack by all three NPCs (assuming the two he shot aren’t dead or disabled).
  2. It still counts as a ‘reduced’ fail – the PC is prone but only the
    third NPC, who was not hit, gets a free attack.
  3. It counts as a success – the PC is not prone and the NPC/s don’t get free attacks.
  4. The GM decides on a case by case basis.

I’m hoping there is clarification for this question in one of the expansions, or in an updated version of the pdf (I only have a print copy). I’ve failed to find any errata on the internet.

combat – In Ghost Ops do NPCs get free attacks only on total Bullet Time failure or also on partial failure?

I have the original version of Ghost Ops (which uses Fudge dice), not the Savage Worlds version or the OSR version. This question is about that original version, but if you think the rules in one of the other versions can throw some light on this, please chip in.

On page 132 of the core rulebook there is an example of a failed Bullet Time action. The PC was attempting to shoot 3 NPCs in the head, and needed an 8 but only got a 6.

The book then has some more rules:

The Handler can decide that the Operator succeeded in some of the attempt. Maybe they barged the door and managed to get 2 of the attempted headshots off but missed the third.
Failing a Bullet Time event places the Operator as prone for 1 round, allowing any Tangos free attacks. Deciding to attempt Bullet Time is risky but can be ultimately rewarding.

So, if the GM has said the failed roll can be partial success (hit 2 of the NPCs) and partial failure (miss the 3rd NPC), which of these applies?

  1. It still counts as a normal fail – the PC is prone and subject to a free attack by all three NPCs (assuming the two he shot aren’t dead or disabled).
  2. It still counts as a ‘reduced’ fail – the PC is prone but only the
    third NPC, who was not hit, gets a free attack.
  3. It counts as a success – the PC is not prone and the NPC/s don’t get free attacks.
  4. The GM decides on a case by case basis.

I’m hoping there is clarification for this question in one of the expansions, or in an updated version of the pdf (I only have a print copy). I’ve failed to find any errata on the internet.

unity – How to control NPCs by using Node.JS?

I’m making a survival game and it’s a real-time multiplayer game. I planned to use NodeJS for my backend server. The problem of using NodeJS is how can the server understand and control the NPCs to move around the map. The game is making with Unity3D.
Thanks in advance!!! ;]

I don’t know how to ask the question so the title looks so stupid.

dnd 5e – Would swapping Sacred Flame to Toll the Dead for Evil NPCs affect balance?

The PHB makes it clear that radiant damage comes from the Positive Plane and is often associated with the Celestials of the Upper Planes, while necrotic damage comes from the Negative Plane and is often associated with Fiends and the Lower Planes

Damage Types (PHB196)

Necrotic. Necrotic damage, dealt by certain undead and a spell such as chill touch, withers matter and even the soul.

Radiant. Radiant damage, dealt by a cleric’s flame strike spell or an angel’s smiting weapon, sears the flesh like fire and overloads the spirit with power.

Positive and Negative Planes (PHB300)

Like a dome above the other planes, the Positive Plane is the source of radiant energy and the raw life force that suffuses all living beings, from the puny to the sublime. Its dark reflection is the Negative Plane, the source of necrotic energy that destroys the living and animates the undead.

Several cleric spells allow you to choose your damage type between radiant or necrotic, and if spirit guardians is the exemplar, you would make this choice based on alignment.

Spirit Guardians (3rd level conjuration)

You call forth spirits to protect you…If you are good or neutral, their spectral form appears angelic or fey (your choice). If you are evil, they appear fiendish. On a failed save, the creature takes 3d8 radiant damage (if you are good or neutral) or 3d8 necrotic damage (if you are evil).

Destructive Wave (5th level Evocation)

You strike the ground, creating a burst of divine energy that ripples outward from you. Each creature
you choose within 30 feet of you…take(s)…5d6 radiant or necrotic damage (your choice)

Forbiddance (6th level Evocation)

You create a ward against magical travel…the creature takes 5d10 radiant or necrotic damage (your choice when you cast this spell).

Other cleric spells do just one or the other type of damage, but there are enough of these that DMs and players making alignment-based choices can find appropriate damage types at most levels:

1st: Guiding Bolt (radiant), Inflict Wounds (necromancy)

4th: Guardian of Faith (radiant)

5th: Flame Strike (radiant), Holy Weapon (radiant)

6th: Sunbeam (radiant), Harm (Necrotic)

7th: Finger of Death (Necrotic), Symbol (Death) (Necrotic)

8th: Sunburst (radiant)

However, at the time of the printing of the PHB and MM, there were no official cleric cantrips that did necrotic damage. This led to NPC’s such as the Acolyte (any alignment), Cult Fanatic (any non-good alignment), and Priest (any alignment) being assigned for their principle offensive cantrip sacred flame, which does radiant damage.

Now that Xanathar’s Guide to Everything has made official a cantrip that deals necrotic damage (toll the dead), it is possible to replace sacred flame in the stat blocks of evil NPC’s with toll the dead.

Are there any balance or other mechanical issues that arise with such a general change?

Are there specific plot issues that might be affected by the use of such NPC’s in published modules?

What would the comparative consequences be for keeping sacred flame, but modifying it so that the caster can choose the damage type, as in spirit guardians et al.?

Related: Are positive and negative energy from their respective planes inherently good and evil?

dnd 5e – Shifting Sacred Flame to Toll the Dead for Evil NPCs

The PHB makes it clear that radiant damage comes from the Positive Plane and is often associated with the Celestials of the Upper Planes, while necrotic damage comes from the Negative Plane and is often associated with Fiends and the Lower Planes

Damage Types (PHB196)

Necrotic. Necrotic damage, dealt by certain undead and a spell such as chill touch, withers matter and even the soul.
Radiant. Radiant damage, dealt by a cleric’s flame strike spell or an angel’s smiting weapon, sears the flesh like fire and overloads the spirit with power.

Positive and Negative Planes (PHB300)

Like a dome above the other planes, the Positive Plane is the source of radiant energy and the raw life force that suffuses all living beings, from the puny to the sublime. Its dark reflection is the Negative Plane, the source of necrotic energy that destroys the living and animates the undead.

Several cleric spells allow you to choose your damage type between radiant or necrotic, and if spirit guardians is the exemplar, you would make this choice based on alignment.

Spirit Guardians (3rd level conjuration)

You call forth spirits to protect you…If you are good or neutral, their spectral form appears angelic or fey (your choice). If you are evil, they appear fiendish. On a failed save, the creature takes 3d8 radiant damage (if you are good or neutral) or 3d8 necrotic damage (if you are evil).

Destructive Wave (5th level Evocation)

You strike the ground, creating a burst of divine energy that ripples outward from you. Each creature
you choose within 30 feet of you…take(s)…5d6 radiant or necrotic damage (your choice)

Forbiddance (6th level Evocation)

You create a ward against magical travel…the creature takes 5d10 radiant or necrotic damage (your choice when you cast this spell).

Other cleric spells do just one or the other type of damage, but there are enough of these that DMs and players making alignment-based choices can find appropriate damage types at most levels:

1st: Guiding Bolt (radiant), Inflict Wounds (necromancy)

4th: Guardian of Faith (radiant)

5th: Flame Strike (radiant), Holy Weapon (radiant)

6th: Sunbeam (radiant), Harm (Necrotic)

7th: Finger of Death (Necrotic), Symbol (Death) (Necrotic)

8th: Sunburst (radiant)

However, at the time of the printing of the PHB and MM, there were no official cleric cantrips that did necrotic damage. This led to NPC’s such as the Acolyte (any alignment), Cult Fanatic (any non-good alignment), and Priest (any alignment) being assigned for their principle offensive cantrip sacred flame, which does radiant damage.

Now that Xanathar’s Guide to Everything has made official a cantrip that deals necrotic damage (toll the dead), would it make sense to replace sacred flame in the stat blocks of evil NPC’s with toll the dead?

Are there any balance or other issues that arise with such a general change?

Or, would it make more sense to keep sacred flame, but to modify it so that the caster can choose the damage type, as in spirit guardians et al.?

Related: Are positive and negative energy from their respective planes inherently good and evil?

dnd 5e – Being the best animal I can: How to successfully convince NPCs as a wild-shaped druid?

The problem is that, unless you have a vet or someone similar in your group, it may be hard to know, as a player, how do such animals behave, and your opinion on the matter may be different from the opinion of the DM on the matter. Furthermore, it isn’t even clear if animals in the world you are playing behave the same way as the animals in our world.

The Monsters Manual presents absolutely no information on the “personality” of most animals, thus, it is entirely up to the DM how each animal would naturally behave in their world. Which leads us to…

Ask your DM

However, your character, the Druid, certainly has that knowledge, and, therefore, you can certainly ask your DM in advance. Your DM may think that a Goat wandering around alone in the middle of nowhere is as suspicious as a goat reading a book or a bear 100 ft under water, and in that case, asking for a roll may be justified (and what roll is the subject of this question). But you can certainly ask if that is the case, and you certainly can ask if there is an animal that would behave like that and still look like an appetizing meal–and your Druid should have that information easily available to them, as it’s pretty much their class concept. Maybe a Goat in that world doesn’t behave like that, but a Cow or a Moose does.

What I am saying is that the following dialogue is entirely possible:

Druid: So, I want to Wildshape as a goat and act as a bait. In order to do that, I will wander (seemingly) alone in the forest. As a Druid, what do I know about goats behaving like that in this world?

DM: You know that goats are herd animals and no goat that has been raised in a farm would ever be outside the farm, much less in a forest. Anyone seeing a goat in the forest would be suspicious immediately.

Druid: Okay, is there another livestock animal that I could Wildshape as, wander the forest and would be seen like a regular animal?

DM: You remember seeing lots of pigs running around in the forest, and you know that pigs are erratic and often run away from the farms.

Druid: Sure then I will wildshape into a pig!

The pattern here is an even more general advice: be clear on what your expectations are, and try to use the knowledge your character has in order to accomplish such a plan. You, as a player, have no idea on how to do most of the things your character does, so the best you can do is state your intention, and the DM should be the one adjudicating what is the best plan your character can have in order to achieve that goal in that world and helping you out in order to achieve that.

Note, this does not hurt player agency in any way. You can always overrule the DM about what your character thinks, but then your character is probably going to be wrong about that information.

World Building: Players can take part

It is also fairly common (although not the norm) that DMs may allow the players to be part of the world building, so you could ask your DM to let goats in your world to behave like that. I have no idea if that’s normal goat-behavior in real life (actually after reading the Wikipedia I kinda do, check below), but I would allow goats in my D&D world to behave like that if a player wanted for some reason that was not game breaking. The alternate ending for our dialogue is:

Druid: Aww but I really want to be a goat, not a pig. Can’t goats behave like that in our world? Pretty please <3

DM: Well sure. Not going to break anything. Go on.

Real World Goats: According to Wikipedia

Fortunately, to get some basis, the Wikipedia has an entire section of their goat article dedicated to how goats behave. No, seriously. Check this out.

Goats are naturally curious. They are also agile and well known for their ability to climb and balance in precarious places. This makes them the only ruminant to regularly climb trees. Due to their agility and inquisitiveness, they are notorious for escaping their pens by testing fences and enclosures, either intentionally or simply because they are used to climbing. If any of the fencing can be overcome, goats will almost inevitably escape. Goats have been found to be as intelligent as dogs by some studies.

So, if the goats in your DM’s world behave like real life goats, they are actually an excellent choice for an animal that escaped their farm and is wandering around climbing some trees and checking out what’s up with their forest friends.

dnd 5e – How did the Zhentarim get this NPC’s blood?

On SKT page 156, it says

the Zhentarim forged an alliance with Jarl Storvald. Storvald wants to find Artus Cimber. The Zhentarim will help him by giving him a droplet of the blood of Cimber.

How did they get this drop of blood? Why do they have it in their possession?

I’m probably missing something very obvious here, because it sounds very strange to me that they happen to have a droplet of blood of a random person on the continent.

In case they retrieved it from the NPC after learning that Storvald wanted him, then they also simply could have told him where he was, or captured him themselves.

adnd 2e – Is there any official rule softening power checks to NPCs in Ravenloft?

My players have scaped Aggarath to find themselves in Falkovnia. They started to walk to south trying reach Calimshan (they came from Toril) and instead, approached Aerie and had their first battle with a elite patrol of Talons. The session ended there and I begun to think about next plot. I readed ‘Death Unchained’ and 2nd edition Ravenloft campaign books and was creating Aerie’s leader character, Rudolph, a young Talon of Taladas, ‘today’ 64 years old, when I realized he had to be already a monster (minimum stage X – demilord serving Drakov). Torture is an automatic power check (‘+’ in table 16 of ‘Domains of Dread’). Worst, the entire military of Falkovnia (just in Lekar, more than 3000 human beings), certainly is already partial physical monsters. Drinking Drakov’s potion is not a pass to commit torture without ‘punishment’ (mainly because the NPC knew what Talons do and choose to be above peasants). So, even with certain high death rates among military, any official rule softening power checks to NPCs in Ravenloft or Falkovnia is a nest of future darklords?