Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Freeport Iconics in D&D 5th Edition, Part 4: Alaina

So far, I've converted Thorgrim, Rollo, and Malevir to D&D 5th Edition, leaving just the human rogue, Alaina, to complete the set. She poses an interesting challenge because the optional rules for humans and feats open up abilities not available to the other 1st-level heroes from Death in Freeport. However, not every campaign is going to allow those options, so we'll build her with the standard rules first, then tweak her stats using the variant rules.

Death in Freeport gives Alaina the following ability scores: Str 14, Dex 18, Con 13, Int 15, Wis 11, Cha 13. I've bought her scores then added the human's +1 bonus to each one to produce this set of scores: Str 14, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 11, Cha 12.

The Charlatan background suggested for the quick build rogue doesn't mesh with the burglary-oriented skill set in Alaina's 3E stat block. On the other hand, the Criminal background seems too unsavory for a character designed as a good-aligned hero--and also too well-connected for a character fresh off the boat, as Death in Freeport assumes. I decided to give her the Urchin background instead. She grew up on the streets of a very different city, but the City Secrets feature will let her adjust quickly to this new urban environment.

The Urchin background gives her the Sleight of Hand and Stealth skills. Add Acrobatics, Deception, Investigation, and Perception from the rogue class list. Both her class and background give her proficiency with thieves' tools, so I replaced the redundant proficiency with a dice set. She's a burglar, so I applied her Expertise ability to Stealth and thieves' tools. Alaina's 3E stats listed her languages as Common, Elven and Orc, but in 5E she will only know Common and one other language. I chose Orc over Elvish because the party already has a half-elf, and nobody else speaks Orc.

For the equipment she receives from her class and background, I chose leather armor, a short sword, a short bow, two daggers, a burglar's pack, and thieves' tools, then spent her 10 gp on a second shortsword. In 5E, any character can attack with two weapons if they are both light, so Alaina can keep her 3E fighting style without needing to spend a feat.

To summarize, Alaina gets the following stats:

Human Rogue 1 (Urchin).
Str 14 (+2), Dex 16 (+3) (+5 saves, Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand; +7 Stealth), Con 12 (+1), Int 14 (+2) (+4 saves, Investigation), Wis 11 (+0) (+2 Perception), Cha 12 (+1) (+3 Deception).
AC 14, Speed 30, Hit Points 9, HD 1d8.
Two shortswords +5 (1d6+3 and 1d6), short bow +5 (1d6+3), two daggers (1d4+3 and 1d4).
Sneak Attack +1d6, Expertise (Stealth, thieves' tools [+4 plus ability modifier]).

In campaigns using the optional feats rules, Alaina may choose to use the variant human traits appearing in the sidebar on page 31 of the Player's Handbook. There are several feats that would be useful for a rogue, notably Dungeon Delver and Skulker, while Dual Wielder would enhance her two-weapon fighting skills. For my variant Alaina, however, I chose Alert. Avoiding surprise and going first in a fight are huge advantages for an adventurer who wants to survive to see her next level! Add Athletics to her skill list, and repurchase her ability scores to give the following stats:

Str 14 (+2) (+4 Athletics), Dex 16 (+3) (+5 saves, Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand; +7 Stealth), Con 12 (+1), Int 13 (+1) (+3 saves, Investigation), Wis 10 (+0) (+2 Perception), Cha 10 (+0) (+2 Deception).
Feat: Alert; Initiative +8.

As you can see, she loses very little from these changes (her Int and Cha modifiers are each reduced by 1) but gains a significant edge in combat.

That completes the party of pregenerated characters from Death in Freeport. I hope that you've enjoyed this little exercise as much as I have! As I gain more experience with the 5th Edition rules, I will likely return again to the subject of running Freeport in that system.

The Freeport Iconics in D&D 5th Edition, Part 3: Malevir

Thorgrim and Rollo from Death in Freeport were converted to D&D 5th Edition in my last two columns, and now it's time for the half-elf sorcerer Malevir.

The obvious starting point here is his sorcerous origin. The 5E Player's Handbook offers two choices, draconic bloodline and wild magic, either of which would fit well into the Freeport setting. Dragons and speaker of Draconic have been quite rare in Freeport products to date, but the city is home to a small but visible cult devoted to the draconic bloodline, who would certainly take an interest in any PC sorcerer with that origin. On the other hand, wild magic fits very well with the unpredictable weirdness and dark humor that permeates Freeport, so I eventually chose that path for Malevir.

Death in Freeport gives Malevir the following ability scores: Str 9, Dex 17, Con 15, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 17. I bought the following 5E scores for him: Str 8, Dex 15, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 14. His racial bonuses improve Dex to 16, Con 14, and Cha 16. Of all four sample characters, Malevir's scores remain closest to his 3E stats.

As with the other heroes, the original adventure doesn't give much information to go on for choosing a background, so I simply gave Malevir the Charlatan background used by the quick-build notes for his class. This choice will play up the fact that he's both the most charismatic member of the party, but as a sorcerer, he's not necessarily the most trustworthy. A generous DM will allow him to use his False Identity feature to create a new alternate persona in Freeport that he can use when his public hero role proves too conspicuous.

He gains the Deception and Sleight of Hand skills from his background. Add Arcana and Persuasion from his class list, and Intimidate and Perception for his racial Skill Versatility. His third language should be Dwarvish, to match his 3E sheet.

Malevir knew mage armor and magic missile in 3E, so keep those spells for 5E. (If you decide to change him to be a draconic bloodline sorcerer for your game, draconic resilience will make mage armor moot, so replace it with a new spell.) Chill touch, fire bolt, friends, and mage hand provide a well-rounded set of cantrips.

For equipment, choose a light crossbow, two daggers, an arcane focus (the amulet in his portrait), and an explorer's pack. 5E sorcerers are not proficient with maces, so ignore that item on his 3E sheet; he uses a dagger instead, which benefits from his high Dex. Spend his 15 gp on a forgery kit so that he can use both his tool proficiencies.

To summarize, Malevir gains the following stats:

Half-Elf Sorcerer 1 (Charlatan).
Str 8 (-1), Dex 16 (+3) (+5 Sleight of Hand), Con 14 (+2) (+4 saves), Int 12 (+1) (+3 Arcana), Wis (+0) (+2 Perception), Cha 16 (+3) (+5 saves, Deception, Intimidate, Persuasion).
AC 13 (16 with mage armor), Speed 30, Hit Points 8, HD 1d6.
Dagger +5 (1d4+3), light crossbow +5 (1d8+3).
Wild Magic (wild magic surge, touch of chaos), spell save DC 13, spell attack bonus +5.
Cantrips known: chill touch, fire bolt, friends, mage hand.
1st-level spells known (2 slots): mage armor, magic missile.

Next time, we'll finish up with Alaina, the human rogue.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Freeport Iconics in D&D 5th Edition, Part 2: Rollo

In my last column, I converted Thorgrim, the pregenerated dwarf cleric from Death in Freeport, to the D&D 5th Edition rules. This time, we turn to the next member of the party, the gnome fighter Rollo.

This warrior is largely defined by his exceptional physical scores and his signature double weapon, but first I want to touch on his race. The 5E Player's Handbook states that most gnomes are rock gnomes, but the forest gnome is the subrace with the minor illusion magic and ability to speak with animals that match Rollo's 3E racial traits.

 Death in Freeport gives Rollo the following ability scores: Str 16, Dex 15, Con 16, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 10. When you take into account that he would have needed to start with an 18 before the -2 racial penalty, this is one insanely tough little bastard! In 5th Edition, no character can start with higher than a 15 before racial modifiers, and there's no way Rollo can buy three of those without dropping all of his mental scores to 8. While this is certainly a valid character-building strategy, it's boring to play, and it guts the common sense and clever tactics implied by the above-average Int and Wis he was given in 3E. Instead, I bought the following scores: Str 14, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10. His race and subrace raise the Dex to 14 and Int to 12. Buying a 15 would not have given him any benefit over a 14 unless it was in Dex, and medium and heavy armor will limit his Dex bonus to AC.

Another consideration in the decision about Rollo's Dexterity score was the fact that the 5E Player's Handbook includes no exotic weapons or double weapons. This means that the gnomish hooked hammer is not available, rending Rollo's Two-Weapon Fighting schtick from 3E moot. This weapon was essentially a combination pick and hammer. His character portrait shows the hammer head, so I decided to replace it with a warhammer. In 5E, the warhammer is a versatile weapon, meaning it uses a larger damage die when wielded in two hands. Give him the Great Weapon Fighting style, and he has a new signature weapon that isn't completely divorced from the flavor of the original.

Of all the sample characters, Rollo's background was the hardest to choose. Death in Freeport assumes that the party is fresh off the boat, so the Soldier's Military Rank feature would be useless here in Freeport, where Continental ranks hold little authority. I finally settled on Folk Hero, with its Rustic Hospitality feature. A compulsive do-gooder like Rollo will need the aid of the common folk to survive in a city like Freeport, but even that help will have limits when his new fame draws down trouble from the authorities later in the Freeport Trilogy.

Folk Hero gives him the Animal Handling and Survival skills. Add Athletics and Perception to those. Rollo will lose the bonus languages he had in 3E, but I've already given one of them (Giant) to Thorgrim, and Draconic sees little use in Freeport.

As with Thorgrim, I used the default equipment for Rollo's class and background, and will do the same with Malevir and Alaina. I gave him chainmail (AC 16), a warhammer, a short bow, two handaxes, and a dungeoneer's pack. (As a side note, I preserved the weapons depicted in Thorgrim and Rollo's portraits as best I could, but they both ended up with better armor than the scalemail they received in 3E.)

To summarize, Rollo gets the following stats:

Forest Gnome, Fighter 1 (Folk Hero).
Str 14 (+2) (+4 saves, Athletics), Dex 14 (+2), Con 14 (+2) (+4 saves), Int 12 (+1), Wis 12 (+1) (+3 Animal Handling, Perception, Survival), Cha 10 (+0).
AC 18, Speed 25, HP 12, HD 1d10.
Warhammer +4 (1d8+2 or 1d10+2), short bow +4 (1d6+2), handaxe +4 (1d6+2).
Racial cantrip: minor illusion (spell save DC 11).
Great Weapon Fighting, Second Wind.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Freeport Iconics in D&D 5th Edition, Part 1: Thorgrim

My regular gaming group has just completed our first experience with D&D 5th Edition, in which Tim the Younger ran Lost Mine of Phandelver for us. (We triumphed, huzzah!) Tim plans to run more for us (probably Hoard of the Dragon Queen) when he's safely done with his oral exams this spring and his brain cells have had a chance to regenerate. I'm looking forward to it, but will miss playing my spooky tiefling warlock when we start over with new 1st-level characters. Of course, given the average lifespan of low-level characters, and the fact that Tim has admitted that Hoard is a bit of a meat grinder, Scharonn may very well see play as a replacement character partway through the new campaign.

Learning 5E coincided with migrating my Freeport errata pages to a new site, so naturally, I gave some thought to how to the new rules would work with that setting. And after my conversion of the "Freeport iconics" to Pathfinder and Fate, doing the same with 5E was the obvious next step.  Over the next few columns, I will be describing the process I used to recreate Thorgrim, Rollo, Malevir, and Alaina as 5th Edition player characters.

As with the Pathfinder conversions, the first issue to address with these pregenerated heroes is their exceptionally good ability scores. Using 5E's point-buy system, no PC can start with a score higher than a 15 before racial modifiers, so these four heroes' scores will need some dramatic adjustments. However, 5E also reins in the trend towards ever-higher ability scores that 3E was known for, so more modest scores will certainly not cripple the characters in any way.

We'll start with Thorgrim, because he appears first in the book, and because his ability scores are more easily modified than his companions'. Death in Freeport gave him the following scores: Str 14, Dex 10, Con 17, Int 12, Wis 15, Cha 10. As a cleric, Wisdom should probably be his best ability score, so when I bought his scores for 5E, I spent more points on Wis than Con: Str 14, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 11, Wis 15, Cha 10. I chose the hill dwarf subrace, which raised his Con to 14 and Wis to 16, and gave him an additional hit point per level to offset his slightly lower Con compared to 3E.

In the original module, Thorgrim was described as a cleric of the God of Dwarves, but that was changed in the v.3.5 revision to the God of Valor. (Among other reasons, this allowed him to be proficient with the longsword listed on his character sheet.) One of his 3E domains was War, and that's the most logical choice of domain for him in 5E because it gives him proficiency with all martial weapons and armor, as well as appropriately flavored domain spells.

The Freeport iconics have been given no personal history, so I chose backgrounds for them based more on what skills the converted characters needed than any specific idea of their origins. The obvious default for a cleric is the Acolyte, and that package easily meshed with Thorgrim's established abilities. The Shelter of the Faithful feature gives him a way to connect to his god's local temple--which, granted, is not a large one in Freeport, but any help is better than none. (If your campaign doesn't specify who the God of Valor is, good choices from Appendix B of the Player's Handbook include Torm, Heironeous, Kiri-Jolith, and Tyr.)

For skills, Thorgrim needs Medicine and Religion, and gets Insight from his background. I chose History for his fourth skill because none of the other PCs are trained in it, and they have Malevir (who I'll address in a future column) for their Persuasion needs. One of the languages Thorgrim gains from Acolyte should be Celestial. Giant is an appropriate choice for the other (plus his buddy Rollo will lose that language in 5E).

For equipment, I used the default equipment for his class and background, giving him chainmail and a shield (AC 18), a warhammer, a thrown hammer (giving him a ranged attack, which he lacked in 3E), and an explorer's pack. He ends up with two holy symbols this way, so make one of them an amulet and one an emblem on his shield. Spend his 15 gp on a longsword, his god's weapon of choice.

Guidance, light, and sacred flame make good choices for his starting cantrips. He may prepare any 1st-level cleric spells, but bane, command, cure wounds, and protection from evil and good best match the list given in Death in Freeport.

To summarize, Thorgrim gains the following stats:

Hill Dwarf, Cleric 1 (Acolyte)
Str 14 (+2), Dex 10 (+0), Con 14 (+2), Int 11 (+0) (+2 History/+4 stonecunning, +2 Religion), Wis 16 (+3) (+5 saves, Insight, Medicine), Cha 10 (+0) (+2 saves).
AC 18, Speed 25, HP 11, HD 1d8.
Longsword +4 (1d8+2 or 1d10+2), warhammer +4 (1d8+2 or 1d10+2), light hammer +4 (1d4+2).
Spell save DC 13, spell attack bonus +5.
Cantrips known: guidance, light, sacred flame.
1st-level spells prepared (2 slots): bane, command, cure wounds, divine favor*, protection from evil and good, shield of faith*.

Next time, I will convert the gnome fighter Rollo to 5th Edition. The most difficult part of his stats will be his signature weapon, the gnome hooked hammer, which does not appear in the 5E Player's Handbook.