Fourth Edition Fumbles to First-class Fun
Not many players or DM's will admit to playing the Fourth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons. One thing that can be said for all D&D books is I enjoy the artwork, and 4th edition is no exception. All of the books we have I do like to look through for the artwork and getting inspiration. I myself nor DM Bork have ever played 4E but we have ended up for various reasons with a four 4E books. Instead of burning the system completely there are a few things that can be upcycled from these texts. See the bottom of each selection for the citation.
Divine Power Game Supplement
Though the class information from Dungeons and Dragons Divine Power™ Options for Avengers, Clerics, Invokers and Paladins (Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2009) is unusable for 5e, not all information is lost. Some of the small margined information boxes still have some use, especially when beefing up character role-play and story.
Page 36 has a text that is about Dwarves who don't Worship Moradin that brings up that there are a variety of dwarven deities besides Moradin. A majority of dwarves do follow Moradin because he his the chief dwarven deity but you can add more flavor to a dwarven character by using different dwarven deities depending on the situation. In a polytheistic realm it shouldn't be uncommon to have numerous deities from the pantheon that a character talks to. The example the text gives is a soldier who usually communes with Moradin but when heading off to battle asking Kord for strength. I find this a great suggestion not only to strengthen a character but to increase roleplay. As a DM I will admit that I do not know all of the deities that are present in Faerun, but I would highly suggest that a DM ask each player to make a list of 3 deities that they would commune with: The main focus and two lower deities that have some connection to a back story or character interest. An example of this would be my half-elven druid. She follows the path of Mielikki and has a cloak with the unicorn symbol of her goddess but she also recognizes and gives thanks to Corellon when it comes to magic or crafts and to Solonor the Great Archer when in battle or on a hunt.
The idea of having small devotions is also presented on page 39. It talks about how knowing small minor devotions is also important when talking about the deities. The book example was how splaying wide the fingers of the left hand is a symbol of Lloth, or placing a weapon of a fallen warrior in their dead hands is an act towards Bane. This is a fantastic opportunity as a DM to point out that sometimes small subtitle details like that can open up a whole new world at the gaming table. Using almost undetectable hand signals that only a certain sect would know of can lead to perception and history/religion rolls for players to interact with. Perhaps one of your players has a character background story that deals with an evil deity and they have sworn vengeance. Using subtle hints such as symbols, hand gestures or common signs of practice for that deity can be a way to help lead a character off onto a story arch session.
Some more fun facts about the deities can be could be found on page 40 and 43 talking about Dead Gods and Rise of the Raven Queen. I personally have not had a player at my table that has worshiped a dead deity, but the information is still interesting enough to read if you have the book. There are a lot of little history and stories that are through out the book including: The War of Winter (pg. 67), Avandra and the First Doppelganger (pg. 69), Hymn to Corellon (pg. 90), and The Divine Compromises (pg. 92). There is also a section with information on all the deities pgs. 124-127.
Peace not Pacifism is another good topic to cover (pg. 49) and one that I have come across at my own table before. You can be a good aligned individual and still fight. The idea is that when you are dealing with other humanoids and races of intelligence your character takes the road of pacifism and try to make peace. This does not mean that every single thing in the universe is going to apply. A pacifist person can still fight to defend themselves, but violence is the option that your character does the least. If you are getting mugged, sure you can try talking your way through the encounter or hand over the items the muggers are after. If your party has come across blood thirsty gnolls that are ripping your table-mates to shreds and they are coming after your character as well, you are allowed to defend yourself and your party. Other options your character may also suggest is taking prisoners, showing mercy and forgiveness and doing non-lethal damage to try and get the attackers to back down or leave. Overall, pacifism is not a reason to stay back and do nothing through every encounter your party comes across.
Though there is no invoker class in 5e, in that section I found some interesting thoughts that can be applied to any character that is made, the idea of "words of creation." The way it works for invokers is the player comes up with a small amount of words or phrases that makes their powers work. It could be in any language they speak, it could be real words or made up nonsense. The Adept in 4e also has something like this with "Vow of Silence" where a player is to communicate through hand signals in game or use chalk and slate to talk with the party. As a DM I appreciate good roleplay and character antics at the table. I believe that every character that is presented at the table can be unique and memorable. Maybe they have a catch phrase they say when going into battle, maybe a holy player has a small devotion they shout before doing spells, perhaps you do have a mute character that needs to interact with sign language. One example I can give is the Ranger in my first Tues D&D Campaign had a quirk where he was very clumsy. He had to make a reflex save any time he picked up something breakable to see if he dropped and broke it. It wasn't a game breaking quirk but it did bring some fun and playful rp.
In the world of TTRPG, the Dungeon Master is the closest players will get to their deities. One of the many faces we must wear at the table is those of the npcs, which includes the gods and goddesses that rule the realms. It is our job to make quests to those who are asking to become closer to their deities, or for those who need to seek retribution. We drop clues and dreams to help players reach their potential. The DM is in charge of what needs to happen if a player wants to change alignments or to deem when someone has done enough deeds to change their alignments (most commonly good/neutral to evil). If a player wants a homebrew pantheon or deity it is the DM who works and makes the final decisions on what gods and goddesses are large and in charge.
This article I referenced material and reviewed: Theinsoo, Rob, et al. Dungeons and Dragons Divine Power™ : Options for Avengers, Clerics, Invokers and Paladins. Wizards of the Coast LLC, 2009.
Heroes of the Feywild
One of DM Wolfsfox & DM Bork's players got this book based on his love for Fey in hopes that it could be used in game one day. The Feywild and Fae in general have always been fascinating to me. One of my many favorite parts of Critical Role Campaign One was Matt Mercer’s own creative working of the Feywild. Even though this book was written for 4th edition; the entirety of Chapter One: Into the Bright (pg. 4-19) can be used for any edition. The information is pure gold in regards to setting details.
Chapter Three focuses on classes and Chapter Four is about Character Options. This is where you can read for fun and depending on your DM could come up with some cool Homebrew items/features to use in 5th edition. The Feywild Gear featured on pages 133-143 have magic items and gifts that would be unique to bring to a fifth edition table.
The "Build your Story" of Chapter Five has lots of things listed under Upbringing which is now Background in Fifth Edition. Though these in the book are not listed in official 5th edition material, they could be added in as homebrew for characters that were raised in the Feywild or for those who have been touched by it. I personally love character customization and think that some of these such as Feydark Refugees, Eladrin Nobility and Peasants bring a new flair.
I absolutely love and use these bard tales that are scattered throughout the book. Ever have a bard in the tavern with no idea what to say? Here are some great stories to share with players.
As someone who enjoys Fey this was a great book to page through and find inspiration from. The artwork, creatures and the Bardic Tales all made this 4th edition book worthy of its spot on the bookshelf.
This article I referenced material and reviewed: Thompson, Rodney; Pozas, Claudio; Townshend, Steve. Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Option: Heroes of the Feywild™. Wizards of the Coast LLC, November 2011.
Neverwinter Campaign Setting
DM Bork got this supplement to help him run a homebrewed 3.5 campaign based in Neverwinter.
In this article I referenced material and reviewed: Sernett, Matt; Marmell, Ari; Scott de Bie, Erik. Dungeons and Dragons: Neverwinter™ Campaign Setting. Wizards of the Coast LLC, August 2011.
Upcycling Article Coming Soon!
Revenge of the Giants
This book was purchased for us because it looked cool and giants. This was given knowing that some edition conversion was going to need to be done.
Upcycling Article Coming Soon!