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Alask

Easy D&D questions

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So my wife decided she'd buy the D&D starter set (lost mine of phandelver) for my eldest for Xmas, not quite sure she really understood what she was buying, but my son's dead keen on it so family D&D it is. Unfortunately, by virtue of me liking CRPGs they've assumed I'll know what I'm doing and frankly that's wildly optimistic on their part. Also, because my son wanted to DM, I'm not allowed to look at the DM guide - but still have to give him advice on how things work. I'm finding it a bit tricky, but hopefully one of you experienced types can help!

 

I've read the basic rules and we're using the pre-planned characters. I still don't really get spell casting though. I'm the dwarven cleric, wisdom 13. The pre-printed character sheets say, "The saving throw to resist a spell you cast is 13, your attack bonus when casting a spell is +5".

 

Can anyone explain, without using any big words what happens if I try and cast a Hold Person spell? Apparently the target needs to succeed on a wisdom saving throw. Does that just mean they roll a D20, add their wisdom saving throw and if it's higher than 13 they resist it? Also does the DM have to work out what a targets saving throws are, or are they all listed next to monsters in the DM book? And what's the point in my attack bonus for spells? Or is the point that I should be adding +5 to the 13 and monsters have to beat an 18 when they roll?

 

And why is it +5 anyway? Why's it not the same as my wisdom bonus?

 

I feel I should have gone for bullet points of the things above, the scope of my ignorance is rather large. Do components matter, do people track them? I need 'a small straight piece of iron' to cast hold person. I just said I have some nails. Is that good enough, do they get used up? Do I need to restock later..

 

:unsure:

 

Also is it meant to be rock hard? Spoilers for the lost mine campaign

 

Spoiler

We just opened a door on 3 bugbears and a goblin. The goblin fainted, but the rogue died in a single round against one bugbear and then they brutally murdered me (cleric) and the fighter in no time at all. We're all level 3, standard starter equipment and that was with me paralyzing one of the bugbears. If they connect with an attack it's massive damage.

 

The rogue got hit in the first round for 19 damage, dead. (only 17hp at max health)

The fighter, started at 31hp, hit for -13hp, hit for -18hp (dead).

Me, started at 20hp. Hit for -19, dead next hit.

 

Are bugbears actually that dangerous or is my son doing them wrong? 19 or 20 damage attacks pretty much means the rogue and are lucky if we survive getting hit one. Doesn't seem like an encounter we'd be able to win, unless we're doing something wrong somewhere.

 

 

 

 

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Some quick answers but hopefully you will get more detailed, sagely advice from those more learned than me:

 

Your interpretation of the wisdom save is correct as far as I can tell. They roll a D20, add any relevant wisdom saving throw bonus and if it's equal or above your spell save dc (The 13 you mention) they save.

Whatever is being used to look the monsters up should list any relevant details about what they add for saving throws, resistances etc.

As far as I know your attack bonus is only added to a D20 roll for spells that don't automatically hit. (A ranged spell attack like guiding bolt)

The +5 attack bonus will probably be your wisdom modifier plus a proficiency bonus.

The importance of components is down to the DMs discretion to a certain point. If they want you to have and track material components needed for a spell that should be made clear. Verbal and somatic components should obviously come into play based on situation (if a character is bound/gagged then spellcasting should be impaired/impossible)

The campaign we've just started nearly killed us instantly! As with most things it's down to the DM to try and tailor the game on the fly to a certain extent, this will only come with experience and keeping at it.

Your son isn't necessarily doing it wrong,  our DM for example taking his experience and our lack of experience into account clipped out a few encounters we should have had (and possibly made some of the foes we faced a bit easier) in the session we just had.

I'm only going off a quick websearch here but he might be calculating the damage wrong? 

 

https://roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Bugbear#content

 

Says here melee damage is 2d8 +2, rolling a D8 twice then adding 2. The max damage you should be hit for is 18 (unless it crits with a 20 to hit but that's unlikely to happen often unless your son is Satan himself) so those damage numbers look a little suspect to me.

 

That's the extent of my meagre knowledge, apologies if I've got any of this wrong and are misleading you further! :lol:

 

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Ooh, he did mention something about it doing one extra die of damage. Wonder if he thinks it’s doing 2d8 +2 and then another d8 too and not realising it’s already included. I’ll check!

 

Is hold person a bit lacklustre then. That’s like 40% chance it does nothing and if it does, then 40% chance it breaks every turn.

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You are quite low level so it's effectiveness is limited by that but even if it lasts one round there is potential to ruin a creature:

 

Paralysed:

The creature automatically fails Strength and Dexterity saving throws.

Attack rolls against the creature have advantage.

Any attack that hits the creature is a critical hit if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature.

 

So once held it's classed as paralyzed which means you roll attacks twice and use the highest number (advantage) as your attack roll.

Any hit you register is automatically a crit (like you rolled a 20) which is rolling your damage dice twice then adding bonuses once. Super powerful if your whole party wailed on one creature in that round.

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Ah, that sounds better. Clearly need to do some reading up on status effects.

 

Also quizzed him and he was giving them 3d8 + 2. Foolishly though after defeating us they’ve locked us up in some cells rather than kill us and the fighters wounds aren’t as bad as we’d initially thought, so now to escape! Or fight them again on slightly more balanced note.

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14 hours ago, Alask said:

I've read the basic rules and we're using the pre-planned characters. I still don't really get spell casting though. I'm the dwarven cleric, wisdom 13. The pre-printed character sheets say, "The saving throw to resist a spell you cast is 13, your attack bonus when casting a spell is +5".

 

Can anyone explain, without using any big words what happens if I try and cast a Hold Person spell? Apparently the target needs to succeed on a wisdom saving throw. Does that just mean they roll a D20, add their wisdom saving throw and if it's higher than 13 they resist it? Also does the DM have to work out what a targets saving throws are, or are they all listed next to monsters in the DM book? And what's the point in my attack bonus for spells? Or is the point that I should be adding +5 to the 13 and monsters have to beat an 18 when they roll?

 

And why is it +5 anyway? Why's it not the same as my wisdom bonus?

 

 

 

Your Spell DC is calculated based on a base score of 8+your spellcasting stat modifier+proficiency bonus..

All stat modifiers work based on the values of 1-20 you have as your main stats (STR/DEX/CON/WIS/INT/CHA)

A middling score of 10 in a stat gives the base modifier of +0.. whereas 12 would be +1, 14 is +2, up to +5 for a stat of 20.. Similarly a stat of 8 would give you -1 to an ability score and so on..

This also calculates your various skills (athletics, investigation, perception etc) as each is based on one of the 6 main stats..

 

Your proficiency bonus is based on your character level and it starts out at +2 - it increases every few levels to reflect your character getting better at things, so your spell DC and attack bonuses will increase - as will saving throws and skills you are proficient in.. if you're proficient in a skill (should be marked next to that skill or save) you get this bonus added..

 

(I think your Wisdom should be 16 rather than 13 since that's the Cleric spellcasting mod - that would give you the +3 you'd need for a spell DC of 13)

8+WIS(+3)+Prof(+2)=13

 

Regarding the spell attack bonus..

Some spells are aimed and require an attack roll to hit like a weapon attack would..

Some spells affect an area or a creature directly and they have to roll vs a stat to either try and leap out of the way or resist the effect.. (the creature stats do list armour class and saving throw bonuses..)

So your spell attack bonus works like your melee attack bonus - just instead of your strength or dexterity + proficiency - it's your spellcasting stat (WIS)+prof (which would be +5 with a WIS of 16)

 

I take it your characters were unconscious rather than 'dead'?

With HP of 17 you'd have to be hit for enough damage to take you to zero with enough left to take you to -17 HP before you're killed outright.. (e.g. negative your max HP) Otherwise you make a 'death saving throw' each round.. roll above 10 to pass, below to fail - 3 passes and you stabilize and are OK if still knocked out, three failures and you are dead.. Other players (or creatures if they want prisoners) can heal you or try and stabilize you in the rounds before that happens..

 

 

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Yes, mostly just unconscious, the fighter failed their death saving throw 3 times though so did end up proper dead.

 

Is there a general consensus on maps? Would a dm usually draw one out or are players expected to keep track of where they’ve been in a dungeon. I’m really bad at visualising verbal directions so I’m utterly lost after taking 2 exits.

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You don't ~need~ maps/tokens, but they can be handy to have if you're exploring somewhere or having a fight with multiple opponents in a specific space, just so everyone can keep track of who is engaged with what and how far apart things are for weapon/spell ranges etc..

 

Ultimately it's up to you.. if the DM is working from the maps in Phandelver it might be an idea to see if he's willing to replicate those an explored room at a time on some squared paper or something.. or just draw similar yourself as you go.. The maps are generally based on a 5sq foot grid so it's easy to see distances etc..

 

 

 

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It’s cool as a player to read the rules, just not the adventure. I’d be happy for my players to read the DMs guide and lore even, although I do like being the only one in our group who knows monsters and magic items for the time being. 

 

http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/basicrules

 

3 bugbears and 1 goblin is a deadly encounter for 3 level 3 players. If I was DMing and this wasn’t a final boss encounter I’d have taken away a bugbear.

 

This is a good tool for encounter building. 

 

http://kobold.club/fight/#/encounter-builder

 

This tool explicitly adjusts difficulty for the starter set characters depending on player count and level. 

 

http://haluz.org/lmop/

 

I do find balancing the difficulty of encounters tough. The Challenge Rating that tool uses and the rules talk about isn’t always a reliable indicator. There’s a lot of variables to account for and sometimes things swing unexpectedly in either direction, and bugbears hit hard against low level players. I’m trying to find various techniques to adjust on the fly during encounters but this is something that comes with thought and experience. Being taken prisoner is a good out, he did well there. 

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I’ve used different approaches with maps. I’ve had printouts, sketches, big printed maps with minis and tokens, I’ve used roll20 at the table, uncovering maps with fog of war, I’ve used paint programs on the iPad to achieve the same effect. I often use nothing at all and just describe stuff. I like mixing it up, it keeps it interesting, and different stuff works better in different situations. The LMOP maps are available digitally online, either free with a google, or paid from the artist Mike Schley, or from roll20 or dndbeyond. I haven’t yet expected my players to do their own mapping, although Gygax would doubtless have expected them to, I don’t think it’s the bit I want to focus on as I don’t think they’d enjoy it as much as us spending the effort elsewhere. 

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