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Best Version of DnD?

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17 hours ago, BlazingTornado said:

So I'm going to run a 5E one-shot for co-workers in about a month... They already picked their characters (pregens from the WOTC site).

 

I want to give a full sense of adventure to this one-shot without taking too long, is a small castle delve too big for that? Was thinking some evil people kidnapped a local's daughter and took her to this old forsaken castle off the beaten path and the adventurers have to rescue her, fighting off the cultists and their yuan-ti leader as well as the minor undead that were already in that castle...

Are they all new to DnD or 5e?

If so, they will not have the normal "RPG instincts" (like going to a tavern when they are in a new town and don't know what to do) and/or need help with the rules during combat. Having another player who is familiar with 5e will speed up the process immensily, as they can take the lead if the newer players are unsure on how to continue and can help with what dice to roll during combat.

 

I did participate in quite a few one-shots recently. The one that comes closest to what you're planning had us cleaning out a  crypt. We had a set-up time of 1 hour where we talked to several NPCs on where to go and were then able to complete 3 combat encounters. The DM had more planned, but was able to cut rooms so we could finish the story.

We had 2 people from my main campaign playing and 3 completly new ones. We also had some hold ups when we investigated completly unimportant objects and were trying to find connections where there were none.  

 

I feel if you have 3-5 encounters of which you NEED to get through 3 and 2 are extra in case the group is faster than expected you should be golden. Even more combat encounters if you just drop the group off in front of the castle and summarize why they are there instead of figuring out where to go by themselves.

 

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They're all new to 5E but one has experience in 2nd and 3rd editions of D&D, and two of them are familiar with dungeon crawl boardgames like Descent. The fourth also has some board game experience and seemed to catch on to the Descent-ish Star Wars Imperial Assault game when we all played that this week.

 

As far as the setup I'm probably going to start the story off in the tavern and kick off the hook right away so they're not just bored waiting to see what happens. I figure I can fit in enough lore in initial dialog that they don't have to know the castle's long history, just knowing there's a lot of local superstitions about Castle Zendo ought to suffice.

 

Here's the encounters I had in mind:

2 Kobolds (CR1/8 each): On the way to the castle. They set up a net trap to try and catch some people to steal their food and tools. They'll flee if some of the characters manage to avoid the trap, or break free too quickly. It's entirely likely the players can sidestep the ambush entirely.

2 cultists (CR1/8 each) and a goblin (CR1/4): The goblin is dressed in a ghastly disguise in order to spook out people who might venture too close. Reinforcing the superstitions helps.

2 cultists and an orc (CR1/2): The orc is hired muscle.

3 zombies (CR1/4 each): reanimated remains of the castle's servants. Turns out there's some truth to the superstitions! This encounter can be avoided if they don't check the servants' quarters, or if they do so while wearing one of the amulets the cultists have around their necks.

3 skeletons (CR1/4 each): reanimated remains of the castle's guards. This encounter can be avoided if they don't check the guard barracks, or if they do so while wearing one of the amulets the cultists have around their necks.

Animated Armor (CR1): Located in the back of the 2nd floor, this armor will animate only if they get too close to it. On the bright side, defeating it will allow them to claim the +1 longsword it was holding in its inanimate form for themselves.

Yuan-Ti Pureblood (CR1): the source of all this trouble, he's lured some of the townsfolk into his little sect and plans to sacrifice the girl to gain power. For the sake of cool visuals he'll look more like a proper snakeman.

Ghoul (CR1): The yuan-ti was using a crypt as a makeshift altar to sacrifice the girl... but all this racket awakens the vile ghoul that was once the ruler of this castle. This encounter can be avoided if they just leave him be, he won't be able to lift the stone slab of his coffin on his own. (might be funny if they decide "Let's put something heavy on top to make sure!")

 

Just because of how much I have in there I'll probably gimp some of the damage (like the goblin, cultists, zombies and skellies dealing d4 damage in place of d6, and the orc having a weaker weapon than a greataxe, maybe just a greatclub).

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On an unrelated note, in my main game I sort of established orcs as a very "strong take what they want" culture... so I don't really see them having standardized arsenal and armor, ever....

Anyone got any idea how I could determine what kind of gear each orc in a particular warband could end up with? Like a random table or generator and then assign based on orc CR and total hit points (because I'm a nerd who rolls for each individual monster's HP instead of using the average) from highest to lowest....

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If you got a bunch of orcs and want something quick and clean, just make a random table and use that. Throw in some plain bad equipment like ratty trousers or the like for flavour. If you don't got a lot, assign each light or heavy armour and then give them a main weapon, a trophy weapon and a ranged weapon. One weapon or weapon set that they're most used to, one set of weapons that they picked up from a memorable fight or location (perhaps even something exotic like bombs) and then something to shoot or throw at other people. invent some quick background, refer to places your game has visited or mentioned so far. a spear, an extra sword and some throwing axes, for example. another guy could have an axe and shield, a dagger and a set of javelins. a third could have a bow, a machete and a variety of enchanted arrows. idk how detailed DnD gets with weapon types. maybe one orc with a pole axe and a blowpipe?

 

Usually, a main weapon plus a smaller backup plus something to do at range just makes sense. A dozen orcs might not have the same make of weaponry but if someone makes a living by fighting they can't afford to be dumb about it.

 

 

Mostly this seems like something you mainly establish by having models that are dressed and armed very eclectically but still fundamentally have a hand weapon, a shield and a helmet. That sort of thing.

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There is a scene I used in a game many, many years ago - where the PCs come across an orc being pursued by human archers.

 

When I ran it, the PCs did the fifty meter conclusion jump, and decided that the orc had to be the bad guy.

 

So, they killed the orc, only to be told by the leader of the human hunting party that since the PCs had spoiled the hunt, they were now the prey.... They were given a head start, and then pursued.

 

With the party outnumbered by a more elite force two of the PCs being killed, and one of the hunters killed by a trap the PCs set, the hunt coming to a close as a blizzard dropped down on hunters and prey both.

 

First adventure for the campaign, the orcs were not the good guys, but some of the humans were definitely the bad guys. (One of the dead PCs was skinned, and the head taken.)

 

The Auld Grump

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12 hours ago, Twalrus said:

If you got a bunch of orcs and want something quick and clean, just make a random table and use that. Throw in some plain bad equipment like ratty trousers or the like for flavour. If you don't got a lot, assign each light or heavy armour and then give them a main weapon, a trophy weapon and a ranged weapon. One weapon or weapon set that they're most used to, one set of weapons that they picked up from a memorable fight or location (perhaps even something exotic like bombs) and then something to shoot or throw at other people. invent some quick background, refer to places your game has visited or mentioned so far. a spear, an extra sword and some throwing axes, for example. another guy could have an axe and shield, a dagger and a set of javelins. a third could have a bow, a machete and a variety of enchanted arrows. idk how detailed DnD gets with weapon types. maybe one orc with a pole axe and a blowpipe?

 

Usually, a main weapon plus a smaller backup plus something to do at range just makes sense. A dozen orcs might not have the same make of weaponry but if someone makes a living by fighting they can't afford to be dumb about it.

 

 

Mostly this seems like something you mainly establish by having models that are dressed and armed very eclectically but still fundamentally have a hand weapon, a shield and a helmet. That sort of thing.

Maybe not bows, but a brace of javelins or shortspears (can you throw those in fifth? IDK) Bows are hard to manufacture, but any place that has wood can supply javelins. Baring that, slings. Or if you want to go memorable, have them throw jagged chunks of metal worked from the armor of defeated enemies (Think circular saw blades, but crude.) Just be prepared for what happens when somebody tries to catch the death-Frisbee.

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On 1/1/2018 at 4:09 AM, Club said:

Maybe not bows, but a brace of javelins or shortspears (can you throw those in fifth? IDK) Bows are hard to manufacture, but any place that has wood can supply javelins. Baring that, slings. Or if you want to go memorable, have them throw jagged chunks of metal worked from the armor of defeated enemies (Think circular saw blades, but crude.) Just be prepared for what happens when somebody tries to catch the death-Frisbee.

No but that's kind of my point....

A standard Orc'd wear hide armor and use a greatclub and some javelins by default... but then I'd want a table to determine what they might've taken during raids too, armors and weapons and the likes.... so orcs with longbows can't be too far-fetched so long as it's hoard taken from raids. (Heck Keep on the Borderlands had orcs with crossbows)

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I don't really see orcs as the javelin type. Throwing axes and/or knives seem more the orc style. After all, throwing axes are a barbarian trope too, and one that's got some historical merit. The Franks and Germanic tribes were very fond of them. The francisca is a well documented historical throwing axe that was extremely popular for a couple hundred years. It was also incredibly effective, serving the same general role as the Roman pilum(rendering the first rank of shields unusable) but being reusable unlike the pilum, which was made to be disposable.

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Javelines are, as far as I know, just lower-tech than bows and presumably easier to make than throwing axes. It's a very old weapon (not that bows aren't very old, either, but you get it). If you don't like them for thematic reasons, maybe spears feel more elven than orcish, then at least have the common raiding orcs throw stones and leave the specifically manufactured throwing weapons to the higher ranking and/or more professional warriors. They'd be able to afford them or demand them as tribute from the lower classes.

 

Orcs having to pay to join the more select squads isn't such a bad flavour point.

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The thing about 5E Orcs is they have the Aggressive feature, so if they can move up to their speed towards a hostile target (basically "dash as a bonus action only if it's towards an enemy"). This kind of renders the use of lower-range weapons like handaxes and spears (which have a range of 20 feet, longer if they throw with disadvantage) a bit more useless, so the javelin's extra 10 feet of range is a benefit, as the closer they get the less useful low-range weapons become. Orcs aren't really weapon manufacturers in my world, it's not really in their culture to become tradesmen... So each orc kinda just makes his own armor out of his food's hide and makes stone-tipped javelins and greatclubs and anything better they get by going on raids and slaying foes or just beating it out of a fellow orc (Orc comes home from raid with new longsword and chain shirt, Orog sees them and wants them for himself, Orog challenges Orc to fight, wins, gets to claim the sword and chain shirt as his own).

 

This is kind of what I'm trying to determine with an Orc Equipment Table, "what did this warband of orcs end up salvaging from raids", and then assign accordingly from strongest orc to weakest orc (in terms of Orc statblocks first, and then from highest HP to lowest HP)...

 

I dunno, maybe I'm just putting more thought into it than I should... I just don't see the orc race as being a "standard issue war gear" type of culture like hobgoblins would be.

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Your orcs favouring javelins and clubs because they're much easier to make yourself isn't standard issue gear, it's just a sort of materialism. No doubt each orc who uses those weapons has a different preference as to exact dimensions, spikes and decorations even tho they're all mechanically the same for the sake of practicality. Maybe one orc paints their club red to mimic blood and appear more ferocious (and is thus always on the lookout for fresh high-quality red paint (excellent minor bribe target)), maybe another carves hieroglyphs into his club for every sort of creature he's fought with it.

 

IMHO, you should just have a lot of cosmetic differences for the random orcs, like helmets and coats, with some extra thought put into determining exotic and fun weapons and items used by their warlord, liutenants and the occassional specialist or maniac. The others can have various sizes of clubs, sometimes shields and then something to throw just so you have more than one kind of grunt. Unless there are going to be a lot of orcs all of the time, I wouldn't sweat it. As an aside, this model of orcs is great for conveniently having something useful to the party nearby that can be stolen. I suppose they could be taken as a gentle ribbing of the loot piñata monster.

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