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MadMojoMonkey and Vinland’s level 20 D&D thread

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  1. #1
    Vinland's Avatar
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    Default MadMojoMonkey and Vinland’s level 20 D&D thread

    I so am.


    What's up?

    You want to alienate the only other 3 people here to talk about stats and monsters and that time I died and woke up inside the thing that ate me?

    Or are we here to fanboy over Brennen Lee Mulligan? (The most important BLM conversation to have.)
    Or are you a Matt Mercer fan? Why not both?

    I am a fan but have not been able to play much. I haven’t played in nearly two years although I created a campaign for my family (not enough of them have interest to play)
    I love looking at monster stats. Or looking at one and thinking about how I could use it. I don’t have a lot of books, just the main manuals but there’s lots available on the web.
    I’m thinking of getting Volo’s guide to monsters or the book Matthew Colville is working on called “Flee Mortals”. The title is enough to make me buy it.
    It would be cool if you died inside something and came back to life with no memory of what happened. Was it a Terrasque?

    don’t know who BLM is but know Matt Mercer. I don’t watch a lot of streaming of gameplay but he seems real good. Can’t say anything bad about it. I mean, they turned his campaign into a Amazon prime cartoon, that’s impressive.

    I have recently joined two DnD groups in town and will get reacquainted with gameplay. It should be pretty awesome. I’m quite a rookie at it but I love everything about it so far.

    im planning a 1 person campaign with my step daughter where she will turn bad over time and become a legendary villain like you’d find in a manual with a lair and everything. That should be cool if she goes through with it
    Last edited by Vinland; 10-13-2022 at 09:39 PM.
  2. #2
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Well, as an grown-up with grown-up friends with jobs and families and all that, my group only gets together to play maybe once a month.

    My partner is our DM. She's run us a couple 1-shots and chose to run the Humblewood kickstarter for our first campaign.
    My character is a big owl named Hugo Goldbeak. He's a Fighter/Battlemaster who is dumb as a post, but has decent WIS.

    I kinda chose low INT high WIS out of curiosity. I found it hard to imagine what that would manifest as, so I went for it. It's fun. I play him like... he's dumb as a post, but he knows that, and can act around his dumbness and rely on his physical strength and his ability to notice things about people.


    The thing that ate me was an Ash Snake (a monster specifically from Humblewood). It blasted me with fire, so I spent my action to drink a potion of fire resistance, then next round it burst melee'd me down (not even any fire damage) and snatched me up in its mouth. My team managed to heal me before it swallowed me, so I woke up in the mouth of a giant snake. No time to be emotional about it, though. As soon as the snake went down a Fire Giant shows up, and the party is no match for a giant at that point, so we had to run.

    Hugo's backstory was that he is a noble who was raised and trained by the Lord and Lady's best General, basically. So he doesn't really react to the horrors of combat like a noob. He's not scarred by that kind of trauma. His main struggle is that he feels like he can't live up to his family name - them being political powerhouses and him being dumb as a post. And his arc is moving from that insecurity to becoming someone who is recognized as a hero, and who can believe in himself in that capacity. He doesn't realize, yet, how his role in the team is vital to his growth. He doesn't realize how his role in his family's affairs would convey that strength to them. He's a bit sad in that regard, but the point of the character is to come to terms with that, and grow.

    Good times. I love that my DM is willing to throw combats at us that are like... if you don't realize you're outmatched and run, it'll be a TPK, and I'm not warning you about that. You need to understand this world is lethal, and not manicured for you. I love that. Colville's book sounds like I'd like it, judging by the title only.


    Volo's is a great book. Lots of cool stuff in there. Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes is also good.
    Xanathar's Guide and Tasha's Cauldron are both good, too, for more PC options.

    3rd party books can be great. We have a huge book called Spectacular Settlements that is super helpful. It has towns and shops and all that stuff that is in a campaign, but the core materials don't really help with too much.


    Brennen Lee Mulligan is a DM who hosts shows on YouTube and is def. a world-class DM.
    Obv. D&D moves at a slow pace when you're playing, so I'm not assuming you have time in your schedule to watch a 4-hour video that isn't even the whole campaign arc (though it is only a total of 4 videos for the campaign, with a total runtime ~20 hours).
    That said, maybe you and your step-daughter would enjoy watching it together is doses.



    Matt Mercer is the DM for Critical Role, a show I've been following for years. They made the cartoon off one of the most successful kickstarter campaigns ever at the time. They asked for like $750k and ended up with over $11 million in donations to the kickstarter. It was def. an eye-opening moment for them that their popularity and success was well beyond what they'd imagined.


    Best of luck gaming with randos. It can be absolute RNG for the quality of players. You can find great people, but you can also end up dealing with just about every bad-gamer stereotype horror story, too. Hope you find more of the former and less of the latter.


    Sounds like a great way to bond with your step-daughter. Sitting around a table telling stories and trying to make each other laugh and/or cry with our characters and RP is so cleansing for the soul, IMO.
    You can find any pattern you want to any level of precision you want, if you're prepared to ignore enough data.
  3. #3
    Vinland's Avatar
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    I guess I am pretty new bc I dont know how you would run an Owl. What are the race specifics for that and how did you find that? I dont have battlemaster in my guidebooks so I'm assuming its part of Tasha's or Xanathar guide?

    I meet a random group tomorrow, fittingly enough, in the town tavern, for session zero. The other group I'm about to get involved in I at least know half the people so I think that will be ok. They were pretty happy to hear I was interested.

    I think playing a intellectually inept character would be so fun.
    Spectacular Settlements - that sounds like a huge help. Most things I find are online but its nice to have it at my fingertips sometimes.

    I have 3-4 youtube channels I follow:
    Dungeon Craft: https://www.youtube.com/c/DUNGEONCRAFT1
    He does some crafting but does a tonne of rule hacks to make the game faster and grittier.
    Dungeon Dudes: http://www.youtube.com/c/DungeonDudes
    They have some streaming but do a lot of videos on their take for how to play certain classes, or their favorite spells for clerics etc...
    Matt Colville: http://www.youtube.com/user/mcolville
    He is immersed in DnD for so many years and has a gaming company that has released 2 books for 5e and has the Flee Mortals book out soon. He talks fast but has lots of good ideas
  4. #4
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    In Humblewood, everyone is a birdflok or a humblefolk. Birdfold include owls, vultures, doves, chickens, and crows. Humblefolk include foxes, raccoons, gerbils, hedgehogs, and deer. As far as "playing an owl" goes, we kinda just don't. They look like an owl, but they're a person. In the same way that you and I may look like apes, but we're people.

    Technically, the owl race is called Strig.
    Strig racial traits:
    Talons - Your damage for an unarmed strike is 1d4 piercing damage. Additionally, you have advantage on Strength (Athletics) checks made to climb any surface your talons could reasonably grip.
    Darkvision - You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
    Patterned Feathers - You have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks when you attempt to hide in a forest.
    Imposing - You have proficiency in the Intimidation skill.
    Brawler - When you successfully attack a target with your talons, you can choose to grapple that target as a bonus action.
    Glide - Using your feathered arms, you can slow your fall, and glide short distances. When falling you can use your reaction to spread your arms, stiffen your wing feathers, and slow your descent. While doing so, you continue to fall gently at a speed of 60 feet per round, taking no fall damage when you land. If you would fall at least 10 feet in this way, you may fly up to your movement speed in one direction you choose, although you cannot choose to move upwards, landing in the space you finish your movement. You cannot glide while carrying heavy weapons or wielding a shield (though you may drop any held items as part of your reaction to spread your arms). You cannot glide while wearing heavy armor, or if you are encumbered.

    https://humblewood.com/
    It's $30 from the source, but this is the internet... if you aren't careful, you might accidentally download it for free by mistake.


    Fighter - Battle Master is in the PHB on page 73.


    Sounds like a good DM to embrace the trope / cliche.
    My advice is to make it clear that session 0's should be able to happen any time, in the middle of a scene, in between games, whatever. It's not just a thing that happens before the game starts and then never again.

    Maybe it's a personal gripe, but 9/10 horror stories from D&D come up because people don't communicate the right things. Making sure everyone knows there's an open door for that communication is important, IMO.
    /soapbox


    Low INT / high WIS. He's not smart enough to help with some things, but he's wise enough to pull himself out of those situations and insert himself where his natural abilities are more useful.
    Like a scene where one of the team was running a scam on an NPC, and my character keeps letting slip pieces of information that don't sync up with the scam. He's too dumb to keep up with that lie, but he's wise enough to see when he's not helping. So he asks if anyone wants a drink (with no intention of returning with drinks) and excuses himself to the other side of the room - a crowded pub. He stands there looking over the space like a bouncer, but keeping an eye on his party's table.


    https://nordgamesllc.com/product/spe...r-settlements/
    It's a ~$60 book, but it is huge. Same size as the core D&D books, but like 1 3/8 in (~3.5 cm) thick.
    Nord Games has other great supplemental materials.


    I don't think I've seen the Dungeon Craft channel. I'll check it out. The other 2 I'm familiar with.

    If you're into short animated funny D&D things, Zee Bashew has a fun YouTube channel.
    You can find any pattern you want to any level of precision you want, if you're prepared to ignore enough data.
  5. #5
    Vinland's Avatar
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    I really like the dungeon craft channel and I think he should have a lot more subs than he does. He makes a lot of his own rules for DM’ing and some people don’t like them and I wonder if that’s why but I really like his views in keeping combat quick and entertaining.

    I will have to stumble in that humble wood scenario one day.

    Our session zero was pretty good. The DM is an older guy who is going to run Curse of Strahd which seems to often be near the top of the pre published campaign lists. I’ll play anpaladin so I can get my feet wet with magic but also be able to deal some damage.
    first session is next week
  6. #6
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    People get all bent out of shape over any home brew suggestions. Never mind that RAW clearly states that every rule is optional, that you definitely should ignore, change, or add rules as you see fit. People just crazy, yo.

    It's a game. For fun. Do what's fun. The rules are only important insofar as they generate fun. If a rule isn't fun for your group, then ignore, change or add something that makes it fun. EZ game.

    Humblewood is fun. I def. recommend giving it a look to see if it's for you.


    Curse of Strahd is a popular module. It's got that dark, gothic, vampire theme which fits well for an October start.
    I've heard so many hilarious TPK stories from that module, though.
    If you didn't clear it in session 0, I'd ask if your DM expects you to have a backup character sheet on hand when you come to any session... 'cause PC deaths are a very real, and maybe even expected part of how they DM.
    You can find any pattern you want to any level of precision you want, if you're prepared to ignore enough data.
  7. #7
    Vinland's Avatar
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    I’m a barbarian one one campaign and a paladin in another - any pointers for when I start levelling up?

    first session of Strahd was yesterday. Seems pretty gloomy. We are about to go in a large house in search of an unknown monster. Basically a dungeon crawl from the sounds of it but in a town setting. It’s pretty good so far. One bar room brawl in the books and two dire wolves went to meet their maker. I’m a paladin in the Strahd campaign. Dwarf for race in both
  8. #8
    I've been watching Stranger Things. Which nerd are you two? I imagine mojo being like Dustin.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  9. #9
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinland View Post
    I’m a barbarian one one campaign and a paladin in another - any pointers for when I start levelling up?
    My attitude on level ups is that they should reflect your personal growth as a PC in-game. Taking "sub optimal" feats instead of maxing out stats is fine with me. It's more fun than repeating only the optimal builds year after year.

    BUT that last line means a lot to me. I've been playing D&D for years and I'm bored with the optimal builds. I'm old enough to really get it deep in my bones that D&D isn't a game you "win" with stats or fighting monsters. It's a game you win by making the other people at the table laugh and/or cry with good RP.

    For newer players, or players in unfamiliar groups, it may indeed break your or their fun if you aren't optimizing your builds, though. So that gets us back to the top by applying the "fun is more important than mechanics" argument. Another way to get to this point is through the DM. If your DM is running Strahd, they're probably expecting you to be able to be more than basically capable in combat. BUT maybe they don't care about playing their bad guys optimally, and it would be a breath of relief to have a party more interested in shenanigans than hard-core monster slaying.

    So when choosing which way to handle your level ups - read the room.


    OK, so all that said... Here's my advice on optimizing:
    Your level 4, 8, 12, 16, 19 level ups are the ones with a real choice for you. Go for ASI or ask for a feat?
    Early on, go for the ASI. Top priority for most builds is getting your main stat up to 20. That additional +1 bonus will affect a lot of things including probably your main attack and damage numbers, and plenty of saving throws and ability checks. It's more powerful than it seems at first glance. You will use it every combat and even outside of combat occasionally. If you have 2 stats with odd numbers, it can be worth splitting your ASI to bump them both up to even numbers - as that will convey 2 +1's across your stats.

    Feats tend to be highly situational. When you take a feat, you should mentally prepare to try to make those situations happen now as part of your RP. Like the Chef feat (from Tasha's) is widely regarded as quite good. But if your party has never RP'd meals, then you're going to need to start making the meal parts of your rests to be more involved with your RP.

    It's just that ASI's are boring - they do a lot, but it never feels like your choice to take the ASI mattered. It's a powerful choice that disappears on the character sheet. Whereas taking a feat is never like that. It's not used as often, but when you use it, it feels great. It's not a hidden talent in that regard. I find the latter more fun.


    Quote Originally Posted by Vinland View Post
    first session of Strahd was yesterday. Seems pretty gloomy. We are about to go in a large house in search of an unknown monster. Basically a dungeon crawl from the sounds of it but in a town setting. It’s pretty good so far. One bar room brawl in the books and two dire wolves went to meet their maker. I’m a paladin in the Strahd campaign. Dwarf for race in both
    Strahd campaign is gloomy, yeah. It's set like a Victorian era vampire story. All gloomy and dark with a brooding noble who's the central BBEG.

    What's your sub-class for the Paladin?
    You can find any pattern you want to any level of precision you want, if you're prepared to ignore enough data.
  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by OngBonga View Post
    I've been watching Stranger Things. Which nerd are you two? I imagine mojo being like Dustin.
    I only watched the first season... it's been a minute.

    Had to read the wiki about Dustin to remind myself.


    Seems like a decent fit. Is a smarty-pants - not very good at flirting - accidentally keeps a cosmic horror as a pet - is a tinker/inventor type.

    All checks out.
    You can find any pattern you want to any level of precision you want, if you're prepared to ignore enough data.
  11. #11
    I'm surprised you stopped watching, given you like D&D, which is a significant theme in Stranger Things. I wondered if they accurately portrayed D&D culture as kids grow and do new things, get girlfriends, spending less time with their friends from childhood. It's quite sad at times as the kid who doesn't want to grow up and just wants to play D&D becomes distanced from his friends, who are hanging out with their gfs.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  12. #12
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Maybe I'll give season 2 a shot, then.


    ***
    @Vinland

    I didn't talk about multi-classing, which you have a lot of good options starting as Paladin.
    With CHA as your main stat, you can readily multiclass with Sorcerer, Warlock, or Bard.
    The former 2 can do some cool combos. Bard is fine, too, but less common to see crossed with Pal.

    If you google "sorcadin" or "lockadin," you'll prob. find a few variations on each of those builds that offer different styles.
    They can be super fun to mess with. Check with the DM if either feats or multi-classing are allowed before committing too much time to thinking about these builds, IMO.
    You can find any pattern you want to any level of precision you want, if you're prepared to ignore enough data.
  13. #13
    I've been binging on ST and I'm kinda on the fence, on the one hand it seems way overrated but on the other hand I'm enjoying it. Season 4 is awesome so far.
    Quote Originally Posted by wufwugy View Post
    ongies gonna ong
  14. #14
    Vinland's Avatar
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    Ong: if I’d guess I’m more like the black kid on stranger things (can’t remember names). Was a Geek but still played sports (basketball). Not on the level as Dustin.
    I enjoyed stranger things on a whole but not season 3. I thought it was full of “wtf?”

    MadMojo: I hadn’t thought of multi classing but I’m pretty sure he’s good with feats so I wouldn’t mind going that route later on. I don’t know what sub class I am. I’m just level one. When it’s time to pick an oath I will probably go with Oath of Vengeance
    ill see if I can take your advice on using my personality to choose level ups. I will probably be needed pretty consistently to be the damage dealing tank.
    we certainly had laughs. None of us know each other so i broke out a poor Eastern European accent for my paladin where he pluralizes words he shouldn’t but will insert himself in the front line of danger. It was fun
    ”I thinks these wolves are hungries”
  15. #15
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Cool.

    FYI, if you care mechanically, the Fighting Style you choose at Level 2 can matter for your overall feel in combat.

    Dueling is better at low levels, but that flips around level 9 or so. Dealing an additional +2 damage while the base numbers are small is a big-ish deal. At later levels, that +2 wont matter as much. You're a Paladin, so your extra attack at level 5 will keep Dueling relevant longer than some other martials would get use of it.

    Defense, if you're wearing heavy armor and using a shield, can get 19 AC by level 2. Chain mail (16) / Shield (+2) / Defense (+1)
    It's not like "nothing" will hit you, but you'll be almost untouchable by melee attacks. Especially with the shit bonuses to hit that low level monsters have.
    Drawing attacks and not getting hit is hugely powerful to your party comp. Best way to tank, IMO, is to do exactly this.

    Great Weapon Fighting in general lines up with Dueling, but they apply to different weapon load outs. GWF helps more with 2d6 than it does with 1d12 weapons. EV of 1d12 with GWF is 7.33 (+STR). EV of 2d6 with GWF is 8.33 (+STR).

    Protection will prob. not be as useful as you'd expect at first glance. Any party member who wants to be within 5 feet of you while you're in melee with a baddie prob. doesn't need your protection. That said, if you have 2 tanks in your party... this could see effective use.


    Tasha's has 3 more Fighting Styles that are worth looking at, IMO.

    Blessed Warrior - You learn two cantrips of your choice from the cleric spell list. They count as paladin spells for you, and Charisma is your spellcasting ability for them. Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of these cantrips with another cantrip from the cleric spell list.

    Blind Fighting - You have blindsight with a range of 10 feet. Within that range, you can effectively see anything that isn't behind total cover, even if you're blinded or in darkness. Moreover, you can see an invisible creature within that range, unless the creature successfully hides from you.

    Interception - When a creature you can see hits a target, other than you, within 5 feet of you with an attack, you can use your reaction to reduce the damage the target takes by 1d10 + your proficiency bonus (to a minimum of 0 damage). You must be wielding a shield or a simple or martial weapon to use this reaction.


    Blessed Warrior gives you access to 9 cantrips / pick 2, which is yuge. There are lots of good options in there to flavor your build with. You can swap them out on level ups if you want to try other things. Versatile and fun.

    Unfortunately, Blind Fighting is super-duper situational, but when you use it... total boss. Getting attacked by invisible creatures happens, and your DM probably will have forgotten you have this when they concoct their devilish schemes.

    Interception is basically just a flavor option that has the same pros and cons as Protection, IMO.
    You can find any pattern you want to any level of precision you want, if you're prepared to ignore enough data.
  16. #16
    MadMojoMonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinland View Post
    I will probably be needed pretty consistently to be the damage dealing tank.
    In D&D, damage dealing is coming from spells primarily. A bit less so at lower levels, but your 2d6 weapon will always be a 2nd weapon... whereas your spells get both more numerous and more powerful and you have access to yet more powerful spells as you level up. Weapon attacks scale linearly. Magic attacks scale exponentially.

    It literally says in the DMG that non-magic using classes are meant to be cannon fodder for magic-using classes to hide behind.
    lol

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinland View Post
    we certainly had laughs. None of us know each other so i broke out a poor Eastern European accent for my paladin where he pluralizes words he shouldn’t but will insert himself in the front line of danger. It was fun
    ”I thinks these wolves are hungries”
    I love this.

    Doing dumb voices is part of the fun, IMO. Helps distinguish when you're in and out of character, too.
    You can find any pattern you want to any level of precision you want, if you're prepared to ignore enough data.
  17. #17
    Vinland's Avatar
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    The opening we were in a pub with a drinking challenge that a half orc barbarian in the party took up. He had to drink 3 drinks without passing out so he had to roll a d20 consecutively higher and did a crit 20 on the 3rd drink to win the challenge. It was free drinks for the party. Great opening session

    The protection fighting style seems boring but would probably be beneficial and I was thinking of taking it because the half orc is going to be in the front line a lot. But I’ll see. I have time to decide
  18. #18
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    https://media.dndbeyond.com/compendi...andSpecies.pdf

    IDK if you follow the Unearthed Arcana stuff with D&D. It's basically the beta-testing new materials thing.
    Lots of UA stuff never makes it into the game, and the stuff that does is often changed.

    Anyway, it's usually at least a good indication of what direction they'll be pushing in upcoming new publications.
    They're moving away from 5e and toward OneD&D apparently.

    Races are now Species (to avoid racist implications. lol. This changes nothing about the inherent problem with humans creative writing evil cultures and those fantasy evil cultures looking eerily like irl racism.)

    I kinda like some of the spell changes. Guidance no longer requires concentration. The lol memes misreading of invisibility has been treated. Level 20 class capstones are replaced with level 20 epic boons. Not really a fan of that one.

    IDK. It's a long document. Lots to absorb. Prob. most of it will be tossed out or appear in a different form, but it can be fun to just think through from a game design and creation POV.
    You can find any pattern you want to any level of precision you want, if you're prepared to ignore enough data.
  19. #19

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