Feats and Customization Options
Crit Academy takes a walk through the Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook and discusses the plethora of feats and customization options for players. We pick out some of our favorites and share our thoughts on why we love them. We also talk on how to get the most out of them, and which are great for optimized character builds.
Unearthed Tips and Tricks: New and reusable D&D content for you to bring with you on your next adventure.
Breaker of the 4th Wall
Imagine it. One day you’re packing up your D&D books and heading off to your weekly gaming session, but on the way some sort of magical explosion occurs. Next thing you know, you’re dodging horse-drawn carriages and being yelled at by elves and dwarves trying to push their way past you. Could it be? Could you have somehow been… pulled into the game?
Imagine playing a modern-day person from the real world who has been transported into
a D&D campaign. On one hand, everything magic, dragons, gold, and treasure - is new
and exciting to them. On the other hand, the “character” knows that the world is fictional,
and they have no clue how to get back. Also, no running water is going to get real annoying real fast.
What class is your character? How do their abilities from “real life” translate in-game?
Maybe they’re a bard, and by singing real-life songs they can produce insane magical effects. Maybe they’re a Cleric and they gain their divine power not from their devotion to a god, but their devotion to the game that they know they’ve been transported into. This character concept probably lends itself more easily to a less serious campaign, but with a bit of work it could bring some unique flair to any group.
Nothing seems out of the ordinary; the players encounter a monster or hostile NPC, and a fight breaks out. But, when they come to blows, the players realize that the creature they’re fighting is host to something much more insidious and dangerous than they expected!
It may or may not be visible, but the enemy is infested by a colony of horrifying, flesh eating
parasites. The foe could be a mummy covered in ravenous scarabs, a skeleton filled with squirming green worms, or a psychic beast carrying invisible parasites seeking out a new
host so they can spread their contagion. When a player strikes the enemy with a melee weapon, or when they are struck by an unarmed attack or natural weapon from the enemy, one of the parasites latches onto the player and begins burrowing into their flesh. From there it will slowly work its way toward the player’s heart. The player might take damage each round, the parasites might take control of the player’s faculties (treated like a Dominate Person spell), or it might outright kill them after a certain number of rounds.
There are numerous ways a player might be able to deal with the problem. Certain spells
could neutralize the parasite (such as Lesser Restoration), a high enough Medicine check
could allow a companion to cut the burrowing creature out before they kill the new host, or
perhaps the only option left would be to lop off the body part containing the parasite before it nears center mass. Depending on the party’s level, dealing with lost limbs can be their own
challenge. In any case, remember that the difficulty of this encounter comes not from the
enemy themselves, but from the parasites they leave behind.
Greateaxe of Cleaving
When using the Cleaving Greataxe, any attack that drops an opponent to 0 Hit Points can carry excess damage to another enemy within reach. Subtract the hit points of your first target from the damage dealt, and automatically deal this damage to the second target.
This red-tinged greataxe has a wicked-looking serrated edge. As you slice the killing blow into your enemy, you feel a sudden burst of speed from the blade itself and it continues slashing through the air to cut into the next foe within reach!
Roll with it.
You’re running your players through a dungeon, and one of the players says he wants
to search for secret doors. You know there aren’t any secret doors, but you tell them to go ahead and roll anyway so as not to reveal that there are none. However, the player rolls a natural 20. What to do?
You could put a secret door there that wasn’t supposed to be there. It doesn’t have to be
hiding treasure or something good; it could easily lead to a different part of the dungeon
that you weren’t sure how to fit into the adventure. Maybe it’s locked, and now you can
have the players find a key in the evil wizard’s pocket which will open the door. Maybe the
door hides a secret that will lead into the next adventure.
Whatever the case, when a player wants to do something you didn’t expect (particularly
a skill check when one wasn’t necessary), try to roll with it. Tell them to roll, and while
they’re rolling think about what you could add to the adventure that would make good use
of the player’s idea.
Player Tip: Don't be a Dick!
Diversify your Character
We all know this type of player: they’re playing Thorg the Barbarian after their previous
character - Throg the Barbarian - died in combat. Before that, Groth the Barbarian was
killed by an unlucky crit. Before that, Gorth the Barbarian was killed in the party’s first
encounter with a Roper in the Underdark. Every time they make a new character, it’s the same character with a different name.
Now, there’s no reason to force people to play a character they don’t want to play. iI someone really, really likes playing Barbarians, then they should feel free to. However, if you want to be a great asset to your party, try playing different characters each time. Instead of an up-front melee character, try playing a ranged fighter, a spell-slinging sorcerer, or a heavily armored healer. This will help you better understand the capabilities of the other classes and help build team work.
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