Character Portrait – Venjor, Cleric of Pelor

Venjor Carix was a cleric of Pelor. I brought him in for a module that Andy ran a few years back. This was a bit after I had run the Speaker in Dreams module, set in the town of Brindinford. In the Wyrmfang Chronicles, I placed Brindinford in the region west of Cormyr, just the other side of the Stormhorns.

Venjor was a background NPC during the Speaker in Dreams (Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Module). He was a minor cleric in the temple of Pelor. At that time in the Wyrmfang Chronicles campaign world, the Black Talons had supplanted the Purple Dragons as the soldier force of Cormyr. The surviving Purple Dragons who would not covert and hadn’t already been imprisoned fled the land. Some fled east to Silverhall. Others fled west to Brindinford.

Those who fled to Brindinford learned the Black Talons were mounting another force to come west. The goal was to take their city and recapture the escaped Dragons. Seeking help, emissaries were sent to neighboring lands to seek aid in defending against. Venjor travelled south to the city of Westmarch, where Andy’s module was based, hoping to find aid. Instead he found that Westmarch was facing troubles of it’s own.

My memory is a bit hazy on Venjor’s fate. It was about 15 years ago now, but I believe he did survive to return to Brindinford, though I cannot say if he succeeded in bringing any aid with him. And we have not revisited that part of the world since. Perhaps someday we might return. But who can say?

Side note: Venjor was often mistyped as Vejnor. Also, the pronounciation is ‘Vey-nor’, not ‘Ven-ger’.

D&December 2017 – Rapid Fire: W4D4-Trinkets/Treasures, W4D6-Forbidden Knowledge, W4D7-Spell/Item

Nothing like waiting til the last minute for the last three topics I didn’t get done. So here we go in rapid fire succession. Trinkets & Treasures, Forbidden Knowledge and Favorite Spell/Item.

Favorite Trinkets & Treasures

As a DM, my favorite treasure items are those that have a bit of a cursed trait to them. Or at least some significant downside anyway. Any adventure I run has to have a couple of cursed items. Well, during my first foray as DM it was a LOT of cursed items. Don’t worry, I’ve toned it way down since then. Now, in cursed items, I’m including any item that has a significant downside to it, not just those specifically defined as cursed. For instance, it may be a long sword +2, but it might also be an intelligent sword. And that sword is prone to lecturing the player in a condescending tone on their fighting techniques the entire time it is wielded. This would force the player to make a save every round or have a penalty to hit that round. I find those kinds of items to be far more fun than a straight up cursed item.

Forbidden Knowledge

My character Delban is an expert on forbidden knowledge. During their adventure in Ravenloft, Delban stole a Tome of Evil from Lord Soth’s castle, using it’s knowledge to advance his skills. The end result was that he left the party and became an NPC for a few years, serving as one of the bad guys when I ran the Speaker in Dreams adventure. He later found that Soth wasn’t too happy with the theft and tracked Delban down to his tower outside of Brindonford. The knowledge and power of the Tome was ripped from him and Delban was forced to flee into PC status for the City of the Spider Queen campaign.

There’s a reason that forbidden knowledge is forbidden. Leave it there. So says Delban. Learn from Delban. Don’t be like Delban.

Favorite Spell or Item

I’ve already discussed my favorite spell in a previous post. So this time I’ll talk about two of my favorite items, one magical and the other not.

First, my favorite magic item is the Deck of Many Things. This is a classic D&D item. You find a deck of strange cards. Drawing a card at random provides a magical effect of some sort, as often bad as good. There are many variations on the Deck and each DM tends to create their own version when called upon. When I was running my dwarven cleric Gogun Elfcrusher, he drew several times from the Deck we found in White Plume Mountain. Among the effects was he grew to about 6′ tall and grew a third eye on the back of his neck. Everyone started calling him “The Gogun”.

Of course, he was also the one that found one of the Keraptis scrolls and learned how to cast fireballs. A minor secondary effect was that he eventually come to believe he was Keraptis. He was last seen vanishing into the night from Silverhall, taking Whelm and the Keraptis reborn baby with him into the forests of the Dalelands.

My favorite mundane item is rope. What’s not to like about rope? It’s the handiest and most useful non-magical item in the game. Everything from descending into pits to tying up wizards so that the barbarian can cut their head off when we tell him to “bag the wizard”. Every character I’ve ever created carries 50′ or 100′ of silk rope. It’s always the first thing I buy when I create them.

So there you have it. My rapid fire coverage of the last three topics for DnDecember 2017. Hope you enjoyed it. Time to get back to some other things.

D&December 2017 – W4D5 – Divine Magic – Fixing the Cleric Class

Divine magic is a part of Dungeons & Dragons that I think many of us have a love/hate relationship with. Running a cleric in an adventure can be both the most enjoyable and the most frustrating thing, sometimes at the same time.

Clerics have an interesting feature set associated with them. They are the primary healers of the party. They excel in defending against undead creatures. They also have decent capabilities in melee combat.

But it’s their capacity for divine magic that is the most frustrating and awesome characteristic of the class. The cleric has some amazing offensive and general purpose spells. Few things are as satisfying as a well placed Flame Strike spell. And their buff and defensive spells are often the difference between a brutal combat and a survivable one.

Oh Mighty Vending Machine
Cleric – Mighty Vending Machine of Healing

Unfortunately, during combat the cleric is all too often relegated to the role of healing vending machine. Most rounds they have to devote their energies to healing bursts or converting their other prepared spells into cure spells for the warrior or paladin or bard who are flinging themselves wildly at the enemies.

It can be a frustrating place for a player who wants to have a more active role in combat encounters. You know that if you don’t keep your companions on their feet, they will die. And then you will die.

You want to toss out that Spiritual Weapon, or lay down that Flame Strike. But then the raging barbarian or the paladin get cut down. You feel the need to let loose a Searing Light or a Smite, but your four companions felt the need to stand in a row for the enemy wizard’s Lightning Bolt. And once more you’re relegated to the role of Healing Vending Machine.

What’s A Cleric To Do?

I haven’t done much with 5e yet, but it doesn’t seem to address this basic issue that has been around since the original Basic rules set. It’s a fact that the purveyor of divine magic is a support role. And it seems most players don’t want to be the support.

So here’s what I would propose. Make most of the cleric, paladin and druid’s healing abilities swift actions. This should include healing bursts, channels, “cure” and “heal” spells, lay on hands, and anything similar. This would not include things like neutralize poison, break enchantment, restoration and so forth. Only straight “give my team some hit points back” kind of abilities and spells.

The effect would not, in my opinion, break the balance of the game and would give the healer one free shot per round to heal up one or more team mates (or themselves). That satisfies their support role, while at the same time giving them the chance to make a more hands on contribution each round of combat.

I think it would go a long way towards eliminating the antipathy many feel towards being the cleric of the party.

D&December 2017 – W4D3 – Wizards

Wizards have got to be my favorite class in Dungeons & Dragons. Being the smartest person in the party and using their gift to call forth the powers of the universe to alter reality itself is a fun-factor that’s hard to deny. All things being equal, I would probably rather play the wizard. That’s a bit odd considering I’ve only run two wizards in the Wyrmfang Chronicles, and one of them was a multi-class fighter/wizard. That was Storin, the first character I played in the Wyrmfang Chronicles. He met a most unpleasant end that I’ve mentioned previously.

The second character I ran in the Wyrmfang Chronicles was my wizard Endeleban Losteast, or Delban for short. He was an Aes Saidarr from Cormyr tasked with tracking down a bard named Thomison for one reason or another. On finding Tomasin, Delban and his warrior escort Yoshi, were sucked into Ravenloft along with the bard. Adventuring in Soth’s castle in Ravenloft left Delban a changed wizard. He wandered off into NPC land after that. While Delban did make a return to PC status for City of the Spider Queen a couple years ago, not one of my other characters has been a wizard.

I’m not sure what to attribute that to, except that I’m also one who doesn’t mind sharing the fun. So if someone else wants to be the arcanist, I’m willing to let them. Maybe I’ll have to call dibs on wizard right now for whatever we do next. But that’s a ways off into the future. We’ve still got a year or two to go in the deserts of Golarion before we think about what’s next.

I’m not sure what it is exactly that makes wizards so appealing to me. Certainly, they have the brains and they can blow stuff up from 400 yards away. I’ve also had great love for wizards in literature: Gandalf, Raistlin, Elminster, Merlin, Dr Strange, Harry Dresden. And don’t you dare lump Harry Potter in with those greats. Compared to the others, the Potter books are complete drivel and garbage. I’ve never been able to read an entire Potter book or watch one of the movies all the way through. I did sit through most of Fantastic Beasts, though it made me a bit nauseous. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah. Great wizards of literature inspired me. But whatever the reason, wizards just seem to be the most fun to play.

They do have their downsides. Keeping track of everything can be a big pain and they die pretty easily if dragged into melee. But when I can toss a fireball or lightning bolt down upon groups of enemies, it’s more than worth it.

D&December 2017 – W4D2 – Traps

Since I’ve talked about talked about Boxey before, I’ll talk about traps. Oh, how i hate traps. Well, as a player I hate traps. I’ve had several characters die as a result of traps over the years. The most memorable was my monk, Chojen Morg. He died within Nightfang Spire. A trap door opened, he slid down over several blades and was flung out into open space halfway up the tower. He didn’t have feather fall ring… or even feathers. And so he died. He had a rather short life. Not even a few months.

As a DM, i’m neither hot nor cold about traps. I guess they serve a purpose, like killing off characters. But I don’t really like to use them. When I am the DM, I use them rather sparingly. They seem to be more annoyance to keep track of and work through.

It’s the mechanics of traps that I think annoys me the most. When traps are randomly placed, the adventurers must spend endless amounts of time searching. Move 10′, search, move 10′ search, move 10′ search. And it goes on and on and on. It gets very tiresome. But if you only make them search when a trap is nearby, then it gives away that the trap is there.

There are times when traps are useful and acceptable. Protecting specific items, rooms, and so forth have great uses. But it is offset, in my mind, by all the other times of random and fruitless trap searching.

There is one other time when traps come in handy: when it’s amusing. When I was running the Speaker in Dreams campaign, there was a bell tower in the center of town. It was square in shape and had a staircase that ran around the interior of the walls. At each landing I put a trap, not on the landing, but on the step just below it. It didn’t take long for the party to figure it out, but it was rather amusing nonetheless.

In short, well thought out traps have their place, but random traps don’t. At least, that’s how I see it.