Category: Conjunction of Planes

A Chase in the Dark

Previously, the Heroes of the White eye had found their way to the Scatterfoot farm where they met up with Dick; a close childhood friend of James and fellow member in the guild of the Steady Hand. He had been conscripted to work with Kalina, James’ target, and was her newest crew member. He had immediately agreed to show them where the hideout was; a large cave system out in the Avondale woods. The heroes descended into the system in search of Kalina.

Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon in high sanction. Bloodmoon in high sanction. Darkmoon in low sanction.)

Having made their way past the first guard, who now lay strangled into unconsciousness by Astrid’s hand in a cubbyhole, the heroes had already found several rooms in the sprawling cave, some of them old and unused, while others were properly secured with a sturdy door and a modern lock. The locks had succumbed quickly to James’ steady hands and often revealed armouries and stock rooms, filled with all manner of provisions that suggested that the caves were more than just a convenient hideout for some bandits raiding the stables of the estates around Northshire.

The heroes had also found a large cavern space where the bandits had made their home. At least half a dozen of them had taken up residence in a space which held cots and fire pits and the group had wisely chosen to let sleeping dogs lie. With the use of Blackstar’s morbid ability to detect the presence of souls, they had come to the conclusion that there were a small group, or several lone individuals, were residing away from the other bandits.

Quentin’s companions, aided by magic or genetics, were able to see in the dark to some extent, but he himself had to be aided by a torch. This meant he had to be much more careful so as not to give away the presence of the group, but it also allowed him to discover that the group was being followed by a mysterious, dark apparition that was repelled by the light.

One of the rooms the heroes had discovered proved to be a well-stocked armoury, holding blades, javelins, crossbows and munitions. It also held a collection of light armour. James found one suit of armour which fit him well, which he donned. It was embossed with the symbol of the crescent moon of the Dark Queen. Luca discovered that the leather was unlikely to come from any of the beasts found in the Verdant Kingdoms, and he was once again reminded of the strange leather armour the heroes had encountered at the Landsdowne auction house in Bournemouth. Quentin was used to stocks of arms to have a quartermaster overseeing its administration, looked for a ledger and was surprised not to find one.

Eventually the heroes found another door behind which they saw a soft light glow. James spent a moment listening for sounds on the other side of the door and was witness to a conversation between who he assumed was Kalina and another person. The conversation came to an abrupt end and there was a small disturbance on the other end, which culminated in the light behind the door turning low. James let his deft hands take over and unlocked the door and pushed it open. He, Quentin and Astrid stepped inside and peered into the darkness.

Like an apparition, Kalina burst forth from the darkness, daggers drawn, pouncing on James. Her daggers bit deep and set fire to his nervous system and before he could react his felt himself losing control of his body as well as his consciousness. Astrid and Quentin immediately engaged Kalina and drove her back, deeper into the cave at which point she disappeared from sight again.

Meanwhile, Emrys was guarding the rear and was set upon by the apparition, draining the strength from his body until he almost couldn’t stand on his own feet any longer. Luckily, Luca heard his cries and came to his rescue, noticing the apparition’s aversion to light and immediately conjuring a flame to his hand, driving the shadow creature away.

Once the shadow creature was driven away Emrys and Luca immediately went to the aide of James, rummaging through the confusing, magical bag he had in order to find something — anything! — that would be able to save his life. Eventually they found the healing ointment that was given to James by Father Devon, the priest of the healing light.

Quentin and Astrid had since lost Kalina, who had escaped through an underground pool leading back towards a part of the caves that lay closer to the exit, and as James awoke the heroes had a choice to make; regroup and reassess, or continue their pursuit of the elusive Silesian bandit.

Picking Locks

Overview

During our game it became clear that there was some confusion around picking locks. We were using Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) checks in order to resolve these. Here are the rules around picking locks and the different scenarios in which it can occur.

The Rules

  • You have thieves’ tools and you are proficient with them: you can roll a Dexterity check and add your proficiency bonus to it.
  • You have thieves’ tools and you have expertise with them: you can roll a Dexterity check and add twice your proficiency bonus to it.
  • You have thieves’ tools and you are not proficient with them: you can roll a Dexterity check and you do not add your proficiency bonus to it.
  • You don’t have thieves’ tools but with the DM’s approval you have improvised some, and you are proficient with thieves’ tools: you can roll a Dexterity check and add your proficiency bonus to it, but you have disadvantage on the roll.
  • You don’t have thieves’ tools but with the DM’s approval you have improvised some, and you have expertise with thieves’ tools: you can roll a Dexterity check and add twice your proficiency bonus to it, but you have disadvantage on the roll.
  • You don’t have thieves’ tools but with the DM’s approval you have improvised some, and you are not proficient with thieves’ tools: you can roll a Dexterity check, but you have disadvantage to the roll.
  • You don’t have thieves’ tools, nor any improvised tools: you have to find another way to open the lock.

Dual Wielding, Rules, Interpretation and House Rules

Overview

During our game sessions I have gotten increasingly confused about dual wielding weapons (known in the rules as Two-Weapon Fighting) and I’ve seen our group make some similar mistakes and have overlooked some limitations. This is meant as a reminder. At the end, I house rule dual wielding slightly to accommodate our game somewhat without drastically changing the game.

The Rules

Two-Weapon Fighting

According to the Player’s Handbook, it says the following on Two-Weapon Fighting:

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you’re holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you’re holding in the other hand. You don’t add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is negative.

If either weapon has the thrown property, you can throw the weapon, instead of making a melee attack with it.

This means that anyone can use two weapons, regardless of class. Keep in mind that in order to cast a spell which has a somatic component does require you to have at least one free hand, as per the somatic Component rules in the Player’s Handbook.

So while you can use a bonus action to make an off-hand attack, you can only do so if both your main hand weapon and off-hand weapon are light. Also your off-hand attack does not benefit from ability modifier bonuses to damage (strength modifier or dexterity modifier in the case of finesse weapons), unless that modifier is negative.

Light Ranged Weapons

While the rules explicitly state that only light melee weapons can be dual wielded, the Hand Crossbow is also designated as light, which suggests that any light weapon can be an off-hand weapon, even ranged weapons.

Feat: Dual Wielder

The Dual Wielder feat in the Player’s Handbook provides the following benefits:

  • You gain a +1 bonus to AC while you are wielding a separate melee weapon in each hand.
  • You can use two-weapon fighting even when the one-handed melee weapons you are wielding aren’t light.
  • You can draw or stow two one-handed weapons when you would normally be able to draw or stow only one.

This means that only with this feat you can draw two weapons at once, and fight with two weapons where one or both weapons aren’t light.

Fighting Style: Two-Weapon Fighting

The Two-Weapon Fighting fighting style in the Player’s Handbook provides the following benefits:

  • When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.

The only three classes that can learn fighting styles are Fighter, Paladin and Ranger, and only the Fighter and the Ranger can choose the Two-Weapon Fighting fighting style.

House Rule

While dual wielding, the main hand weapon can be either a light or finesse weapon, while the off-hand weapon should always be a light weapon.

Consequences
  • Dual wielding will become easier, allowing weapons like the rapier as well as the whip to be the main hand weapon with another, light weapon as the off-hand weapon.
  • The Dual Wielder feat will diminish slightly in value, as the group of weapons that can be used to dual wield is expanded by the finesse weapons as main hands.
  • In the event of someone using a finesse weapon to dual wield, then we’ll have to be mindful of how D&D Beyond responds to it. We might have to create a custom weapon which has all of the same properties but also has the light weapon property.

House Rule: Identify Spell and Material Components

Overview

This is a house rule intended to make the Identify spell a little more limited and define what the spell provides in terms of information.

Material Components

The rules around spellcasting components in the Player’s Handbook state the following:

If a spell states that a material component is consumed by the spell, the caster must provide this component for each casting of the spell.

The identify spell has a material component requirement of an owl feather as well as a pearl worth at least 100 gold pieces. However, it does not explicitly state that the pearl is consumed, meaning that the same pearl can be used again and again.

House Rule

The Identify spell requires the pearl to be crushed, dissolved in liquid, the liquid needs to be stirred with the owl feather, and the liquid needs to be consumed. This means that the pearl is consumed during casting.

According to the Player’s Handbook, any component that has an explicit value, or is consumed, cannot be replaced by a spellcasting focus. In this case, only the owl feather can be replaced by a spellcasting focus, which will need to be on hand while the crushed pearl is stirred by other means.

The effect of the spell is that it gives insight into the item’s abilities, but the history of the item will still be unclear. While certain bits of information about the history of the item might become clear through the Identify spell, a Legend Lore spell is required to learn the precise history of the item. The less frivolous and more powerful the item, the more likely there are important details to its history that will impact the character using the item.

The Reaverhaunt Caverns

Previously, the heroes celebrated the memory of Lady Gwynn Sheridan together with the Sheridan family and Lady Gwynn’s twin brother Lord Lothar Grey. James found that the Steady Hand had infiltrated the Sheridan staff in order to pilfer books and keep an eye on the catacombs underneath the estate. The next day the heroes were rewarded for their efforts of returning Lord Destan to his family. Bonded writs, gemstones, coin, mounts and the occasional bit of gear and the Heroes of the White Eye were paid what they were owed and were on their way to the Avondale Woods to find Kalina and her reaving group of bandits. They found the abandoned Scatterfoot farm and ran into Dick, James’ childhood friend who had been running with Kalina.

Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon in high sanction. Bloodmoon in high sanction. Darkmoon in low sanction.)

Dick didn’t know what to be shocked by more; the still smouldering eye sockets of Stubbs, the other bandit, or the fact that James, his childhood friend who he referred to as “Jimmy” was standing before him. James understood his friend’s state of mind and pulled a bottle of plum brandy from his mysterious bag. It was the bottles he had traded with the Szygani in Pinefall, so they were strong enough to calm Dick’s temper. Dick was a large, brute of a man and James knew that his discomfort could quickly devolve into anger and violence.

Taking further control of the situation, James asked Astrid to scout around and Luca to get Emrys, Quentin and the horses. He also made sure that Stubbs’ body was moved out of sight. When everyone returned, the horses were stabled together with the horses that Stubbs and Dick had been guarding for the other bandits, guarded by Astrid. The rest of the heroes joined James and Dick in the farmhouse for a conversation.

With an efficiency which betrayed James had been prepared for this moment he explained the entire situation to his old friend. About Kalina duping his mother into believing the day master was responsible for his death and manipulating her into making an attempt on the day master’s life using that wicked dagger. Dick revealed that Kalina was still in the possession of her daggers; plural. Dick also lamented the situation, since he seemed genuinely fond of James’ mother. James knew that Dick never had a mother while growing up, and a father that cared little for him. Jeanne and the women at the Silver Cross had filled that void for his friend, so it was not a surprise that Dick readily agreed to help James find Kalina.

Kalina and the rest of her crew were hiding out nearby; in the Reaverhaunt caves, the hideout of the former scourge of the Lyrian gulf; admiral Dapperfang, a gnoll pirate who reaved all along the coast for a long time. Unfortunately Dick wasn’t able to share much about the cave itself, since he never made it past the entrance since he was the most junior member of the crew. Supposedly the caves were large and were well-stocked and furnished. James asked him whether he knew of an alternate entrance or exit, but he did not.

A plan was formed by the heroes to attempt to sneak into the caves and find Kalina, either kidnapping her under the nose of the other bandits or possibly getting the drop on her before she could try to escape. In order to keep options open, Emrys decided to weave a hypnotic pattern which would allow a group of people to be befuddled for a short while, which was absorbed by Luca’s terrifying staff, allowing Luca to unlock it at a later time. Emrys would also arrange for all of the heroes to be turned invisible, allowing them a greater chance to sneak up on the bandits.

Dick explained he was concerned that he would be suspected of aiding the heroes, so a plausible explanation was drawn up; Stubbs was murdered and Dick was interrogated using magic. Afterwards he was bound and left behind due to James and him having grown up together. It sounded pretty flimsy to James, but luckily Dick seemed somewhat appeased by the plan.

The heroes decided to get some rest before heading off and letting Dick lead them to the Reaverhaunt caves. The trip through the Avondale woods did not take long and soon the heroes found themselves walking a long a cliff face which lead to the hidden entrance to the caves. Dick had given them detailed instructions and left them to their business, returning to the abandoned farm to guard the horses. James had told him that if things went awry, he should take all of the horses, get a good price for them, and leave Northshire.

Emrys made use of his increasingly deepening intuitive understanding of the weave of magic to turn all of the group invisible. It was not without effort and for a moment he felt his hands turn incredibly uncomfortable with an inner heat. When everyone was invisible they approached the entrance to the caves and James went to scout ahead. The entrance lead to a chamber which was used to guard the rest of the cave system. Initially the group attempted to sneak past, but this turned out to be too difficult and Astrid decided to grab the man guarding the entrance and strangle him until he was unconscious. Unfortunately, this caused the invisibility magic that Emrys had cast on her to dissipate. This necessitated her to stay behind as the others continued deeper into the caves.

Quentin, not gifted with the same ability to see in the dark as the others was forced to lag behind them for a while. Eventually he was forced to light a torch in order to follow, but by this time James, Emrys and Luca, aided by their genetics or by the magic provided by their arms, had started to explore the vast cave system, finding several junctions and even some barricades and doors. Quentin, trying to stay at a distance not to let his light hinder the others, suddenly spotted a strange, moving shadow, which caused him to hurry to catch up with the others.

He relayed what he had seen; a strange, stalking shadow of unknown origin. Luca decided that it was best for Quentin to stay a little way behind, but gave him Lauriel’s earring that he was wearing so that Quentin could communicate with James, who was wearing the companion earring. This would allow him to signal if he was in trouble. As the men from Beauclair were not as accustomed to piercing their ears as some of the other men in the Verdant Kingdoms, Quentin had to painfully pierce the earring through his earlobe in order to make use of it.

After having found a strange weapon room, James, Luca and Emrys stumbled upon a larger room which housed several of the bandits, who had not been alerted to their presence yet. They decided to retreat, regroup and come up with a plan on how to proceed to find Kalina.