Even inside the same combat system (boxing, karate, etc), there’s many different styles of fighting . I’ve tried to translate that for my D&D 5e Streets & Turmoil setting.
As it is far easier and less risky to take what already exists rather than homebrew everything from scratch, I’ve started with looking at the options already available. When I couldn’t find any, I’ve resorted to basic homebrewing, tinkering with the fighter class feature fighting styles and champion subclass battle maneuvers.
Applying constant pressure, the swarmer wins with sheer volume instead of technique or power, not letting any breathing space for his adversary.
How to showcase that style:
Barbarian class feature: reckless
Barbarian, path of the berserker subclass feature: frenzy
Monk Ki feature: flurry of blows
Evaluation: The swarmer is not a subtle style so that seems like a quick & easy fit.
The opposite of the swarmer, the out-fighter do best while keeping his distance, using superior reach and quick feet.
How to showcase that style:
Fighter, champion battle maneuver: lunging attack
Fighter, champion battle maneuver: pushing attack
Rogue, Scout subclass feature: skirmisher
Monk, Ki feature: step of the wind
Evaluation: The opponent have the leisure the move back in range easily, this doesn’t seem to give a real edge at all. It definitely needs something more.
Homebrew: New fighting style (Fighter class feature):
Out-striking: +1 bonus to AC when the creature that targets you starts its turn at more than 5′. +1 bonus to attack rolls when targeted creature is at more than 5′.
A counterpuncher relies on good defense and waits for the opportunity to counter when his opponent exposes himself to attack.
How to showcase that style:
Fighter, champion battle maneuver: riposte
Monk, Ki feature: patient defense
Evaluation: That seems sufficient to me, riposte is a perfectly serviceable battle maneuver, even more so with a good AC.
Tower defense plus vampires, I mean, what’s not to like?!
This one I actually know it’s good, it’s been playtested! It was planned as a separate chapter on my last campaign, for 5 sessions, when my players had to “play the game”, so to speak, of the vampires ruling the city where they had to stay.
It served as change of scenery then, but I’m fully convinced that it can be a full-blown setting of its own, with a great tactical emphasis.
Vampires have many weaknesses aside their allergy to sunlight and one that is seldom seen in D&D, but that is nonetheless canonical, is the rather strange need to be invited before they can get in somebody’s home (forbiddance).
Take that and:
See the image above? That’s the city of Bologna in the Middle Ages. Italy at the time was the most urban you could get and the local nobles, with these towers, made sure everybody knew who were the bosses. Owning a tower was a matter of prestige, but also crucial to control an area by might. So, indeed, towers everywhere.
Now imagine a city that is owned by vampires, say a few dozens of those bloodsuckers. The populace gives blood at the sunday mass, whatever. The vampires are the nobles. They each have a territory, of course, established by a notary (a very important profession) with a cadastre and all. Within these parcels of city they do as they please, feed whenever and from whoever they want, collect taxes and so on. But they can’t put a single step outside of what they own, unless specifically invited to do so (for a bal masqué maybe?). And what you own is firmly established by which towers you possess.
housings and people, are properties both
those are owned by the owner of the closest tower
a master vampire lives in a fortified mansion, which effectively acts as a tower for its surrounding area
the rules are enforced by a neutral party led by the Podestat, a vampire that come from another city
Being fiercely competitive creatures but also having a strong sense of self-preservation, the vampires have established a sort of equilibrium that rewards aggression without risking their precious untanned skin.
They can take a neighbor’s tower by force (or ruse), if they have the means, seizing in the process all properties that goes with it. But only by night. There’s an inverse couvre-feu, as it is.
Of course the vampires (masters or spawns) can’t attack an enemy tower themselves, they’re not invited. That’s where minions, non-vampires, comes into play. But only resourceful agents (read PCs!) know success, for it is a very dangerous business overcoming a tower’s defense. The very best at this offer their services to the highest-bidders and can obtain great rewards (possibly becoming bloodsucking monsters themselves if so they wish). If they can survive the ceaseless schemes of their employers, that is.
Some more features
all matter of creatures are bound in the service of the vampires
towers are close enough that their garrison can shoot with crossbow at each other
what about vampire hunters? PCs could decide to overthrow the city’s undead masters once they tire of working for them
there’s a vast maze of catacombs and sewers below that can be used to move or hide
organized religion turns around the concept of the sacred blood, given to the worthy so they could rule and protect the herd humans forever after
Damn I can’t find the map I did for this… Oh well, who cares, here’s a meme:
When I started my Divine Council campaign, we were using the pathfinder system which I liked a little better than D&D 3.5 (which is to say, not very much). We did about 20 sessions and the PCs have reached 7th level. And then we switched to 5E, not without some tinkering.
Long story short, Guillaume’s character in pathfinder, Bertone the Inquisitor, had a weird thing going on after he’d killed a NPC semi-villain, a blind Shadow Sorcerer.
This led to his converted “shadow paladin” in 5E. Here’s how we did it:
Paladin: oath of vengeance
Remove lay on hands class feature
Remove all of the paladin’s auras class features
Remove all healing spells from spells list
Gain Monk’s Ki class feature
Gain Shadow Arts from Monk’s Way of Shadow subclass features
As a result of these choices, we had this character who was pretty much shadowjump-smiting everything that posed any kind of threat, to the seemingly great delight of Guillaume. If that sounds powerful, that’s because it was. But keep in mind that he couldn’t buff or heal his allies like a normal paladin would have, so I never saw it as unbalanced. Of course, the fact that the party had a second “true” paladin in its rank meant that it was a win-win situation…
I did nothing for the blog’s 1 year anniversary, nor did I wrote any yearly summary or anything like that but hey, I’m at 100 posts now! Can’t miss that too, can I?
First thing first, writing in English is as tiresome as it was when I started the whole thing. If I keep my posts on the short side most of the time, that’s mainly because I’m not that comfortable or feeling much confident about my writing. On the good side, that stops me from rambling except for the rare occasion (like now!).
Second thing second, I have noticeably slowed down these last few months. One major reason for that comes from this sickness-inducing, depressing, exhausting, fucking frigid winter… Another reason, a bit more trivial, takes the form of a very addictive tactical computer game called Battle Brothers. I may write a post about it. Fortunately (for this blog and my free time), after sinking in nearly 300 hours and losing countless of my poor, short-living virtual companions, I’m almost through the campaign and I’ll be free from computer gaming for a while. Free, you hear me!!!
Okay now, let’s give it some order.
Fake history/Boring DM stuff
Early on I’ve decided to focus the world-building on just one city. So my first efforts went to establish some mythic foundation of the city, with the Last Emperor as its central figure. It’s this larger than life character’s will that explain a lot of the unusual/cultural features of the city.
Street Gangs, lot of them
Nineteen! And they all have something specific in a “gotta catch them all” kinda way. I like this. And the twentieth… will be the players’ own gang! That makes for a lot of factions, all in one district. But they each occupy only a part of the district and they won’t be all at each other’s throats. Figuring who’s allied with whom, and which are more dangerous in the short-term, will be a big part of what the players have to figure early on the campaign.
Mostly done. I have to work on the mechanics of the racial traits which I kept, for the moment, at the bare minimum. Also, I’m flirting with idea of adding some more races. Gargoyles? Why not. I’d like some urban Satyrs or even Mermen! We’ll see.
Mostly done. It’s more of a matter of selecting of what is a good fit for S&T, and what’s not. Re-flavoring a barbarian (berserker) into a hooligan is easy, after all. I have to skim the content of the Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, most of it won’t match but some, like the inquisitive rogue? Perfect match.
Drugs, tattoos, tobacco as magic items
That’s cool stuff I think. Distinctive. I still have to check for the inevitable balancing issues though.
It’s fun to do. Again, most of the monsters won’t be used in my campaign. Those that will though… They’ll make an impression, I guarantee it!
To do list
It’s notably shorter, That’s encouraging!
Locations. I did a piece on taverns and dives of the district. I need to do a lot more. And a map. Gosh, that won’t be easy.
Npcs. The players need to feel that their characters have a solid connection with the district. That’s got to be established with roleplaying. The part of the players is working on their character’s backstory. Mine is through npcs and their links with the PCs.
Notice board. I like the idea of having “quests” out in the open. I need many, many notices.
After exactly thirty sessions, we are on the verge of a grand Finale with my Divine Council campaign. The PCs have reached level 20 last session, according to my plan. That has been possible only because I’ve sped things up considerably since when we converted the characters from pathfinder to 5E D&D. One level per session from the 11th level. Things were a bit hectic keeping up with the avalanche of powers. In particular, until the very last few sessions I was rarely able to offer suitable challenge in battles. Many times, an annoying Wall of Force or (any) enchantment spells have wrecked my not-so-well-thought battle plans. At least, I’ve learned, we’ve learned, let’s hope, how 5E works.
As for my next campaign. My precious S&T campaign whom I devoted so much preparations, well… In a few months?
In my continuing efforts to push the boundaries of silliness ever further I present to you: fantasy tobacco!
Smoking has never been so judicious!
Also called the “Third Eye Tobacco”, you must use a pipe to gain its benefits otherwise it doesn’t work. Go figure. Smoking duskbloom tobacco has a positive effect on problem-solving and overall thinking.
Effects: You gain advantage on intelligence skills checks for one hour.
Average price: 3cp for 12 uses
Air-dried in the long disused Best Forgotten massgrave, grave-cured tobacco is smoked mostly by the Vestige residents for its vaunted power of warding evil spirits, useful in this sad neighborhood. Outside of the Vestige few folks, except perhaps those with an intense superstitious inclination, feel the need to pay its steep cost.
Undead have disadvantage on attack vs smoker up until one hour after consuming.
Blowing smoke at an undead (5′), as an action, triggers a turn undead as a level 5 cleric, dc 13
Average price: 5sp for 12 uses
How it came to anyone to consider Mephitic Tobacco as a possible source of enjoyment is puzzling to say the least. You cannot call this an aroma, or even, an acquired taste. Even long time users (there’s a few of these knuckleheads around) acknowledge the sheer foulness of Mephitic Tobacco.
If chewed: If you chew Mephitic (daily, for at least a month) you gain the ability to cast the poison spray cantrip.
If smoked: Take 1d4 poison damage. As an action, you can summon a smoke mephit. It appears beside you and obey your commands (but not without making obnoxious comments) for one minute before disappearing.