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Making Combat Encounters More Than Filler

A lot of game masters when running games use combat encounters as filler between giving you story. I have played a lot of games where an encounter was used just to change the pace of the game and give the players something to do to pass the time. It can feel like being railroaded sometimes when this is the case too.

Most encounters should have a meaning or purpose. Do this to...

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The Tower Shield in D&D5e

I don't think there is any reason to up the AC above 2. Armor class is very powerful in the scope of how Fifth Edition works. I felt that if I upped the AC it would make it a no brainer to use the tower shield over a standard shield for all builds. Giving up your action for a huge bonus to AC by way of 3/4 cover was the way to go in my opinion. This is a bit better than using the dodge action during combat. 

Movement being halved is because you have an extremely large shield that is hard to lug around a battlefield without it getting in the way. It is also pretty heavy. Losing half your movement isn't a major thing but it certainly can be inconvenient. While I don't think this will turn too many people off from using a tower shield there will be times in game that this could become a problem. For example a player involved in combat away from you may really need some help. If you can't get there it could mean death for that character.

If someone in your party has a reach weapon this is when the tower shield is at its best. If the pc with the tower shield gives up his action to use it for cover another player with reach can also benefit from the 3/4 cover as long as they are right behind that tower shield pc.

So overall I don't think this is too over powered but I also don't think it is too under powered. This is intended to give another option for a shield but not be the only option. Much like the buckler shield I wrote up I think that these could be fun options for people to use in their own games. Obviously anything I suggest on the blog like this you must run by your Dungeon Master first to see if they agree with how these can be used.

AC +2
Movement Halved
As an action can declare 3/4 cover
Party Members can stand directly behind you and use you for 3/4 cover as long as you give up your action as well

One On One, Solo, and Duet RPG Adventures and Campaigns

For many people it is very difficult to find a group that some would deem a full party of adventurers to play Tabletop RPGs. When I got into gaming this was the case for me. I struggled to find people to play Heroes Unlimited which for me this was the game that I loved when I was 12 and loved up until recently. My first RPG group was 2 players and a GM. When the GM moved it made it near impossible to game because we had it in our mind you needed multiple players to play the game properly. If we only knew about the possibility of playing with 1 player and a GM our RPG experience would have been drastically different.

The 1 player and 1 GM format I have seen called different things. I have seen it called 1 on 1, solo, and duet campaigns. What the actual correct terminology is I am not quite sure. What I do know is that this is a great way to run and play games for those of us who may struggle to find groups to play with. Some people use these types of games to help players catch up after mission a session. Some people use these types of games to teach a new player how the game is played. Either way it is a great way to game and can provide a vastly different experience than you may be used to.

A few years ago I attempted to run a Heroes Unlimited game like this for my wife. Our first session was a lot of fun. She played a Mega Hero that we rolled a lot of the stuff randomly. That character ended up being very similar to Thor which was pretty interesting. The idea of those first few sessions was that she had no idea how things worked on Earth. She broke an elevator door and beat 2 guys into a coma when they tried to kidnap her. Unfortunately the campaign didn't last very long because we ended up moving.

We tried again to do another duet campaign using Pathfinder when I was really getting into that system. The idea was that my wife would make and control a few characters. Her party was an Aasimar Sorcerer and an Oread Barbarian. We played a couple games and this was fun but we wanted enough players for a full party. This game died off but only because once again real life stepped in and we moved again.

Player's Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons)
$36.03
By Wizards RPG Team

There are many ways to play a game with one player. Maybe that player controls only a single character or they control a whole party of characters similar to how they would play a video game like Baldur's Gate. Maybe they handle all of the groups social interactions with NPCs or maybe they only control their single characters social interactions while the DM controls all of the other members of the group in social environments similar to Dragon Age for example. In the latter example the players choices could lead to some members of the party leaving the group. No matter how you choose to play this can be an extremely fun way to game.

This style of play is one I wish I was able to try sometime. I would love to play both as just a single character without a party and also a campaign where I play as a single character but in combat I can control a whole party. If I had a DM who was good at improvising I think this could be one of the most enjoyable ways for me to play a game.

On YouTube there are at least 2 channels that cover this style of game. Matt Click's afistfulofdice on YouTube and has recently started running games on his channel for his fiance. He is also my DM for the Provokers campaign and is a very good DM. Andrew Armstrong known as DawnforgedCast has a couple games in this style on his channel. One is with his wife, and the other is with one of his viewers. To see how these games can be played go and check those channels out. If you are interested in running or playing a game in this style feel free to join the Tabletop RPG One Shot Group and seek it out.


The Buckler Shield in D&D5e

One of the things I have been thinking about ever since Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition came out was different types of shields. Due to standard shields being AC +2 it leaves a lot of room to use small shields like the buckler and also larger tower shields. Both of which I have come up with some ideas for how to implement them mechanically. This post is about the two common types of buckler shields.

The one handed buckler shield should be an AC +1. It also should be a shield you can use as a reaction if you aren't armed with it and using a single handed weapon. This will allow players to use long swords two handed and encourage it. Most players will still choose to use a greatsword or long sword and standard shield. 

Then there is the buckler shield that straps to the forearm or is part of the gauntlet. This one allows players to still use a greatsword, maul, spear, polearm, or any other two handed weapon. This one will be an AC +1 shield but it will also be a -1 to hit using two handed weapons. The reason for this is because without the -1 to hit everyone who uses a two handed weapon would want a buckler shield. With this rule I would even entertain the idea of a character having two of these for a AC +2 and a -2 to hit. 

I hope to start testing these out in future games ran in the Tabletop RPG One Shot group on Facebook. What do you think of these potential home brewed items or rules? Are they over powered? Do you think they are balanced enough? If you end up using them in your future games please share your results and opinions of them.

Here on my blog there will be more home brewed things like this so continue to check back for more.