19 May 2012

NPC Profiles: The D&D Animated Series: Presto the Magician



It is important to bear in mind that magical forces that brought the "gang" to Mystara, along with the extremely potent incantations of their "totem" items give the heroes their abilities. Class and level are assigned to make sense of saving throws, hit points, and so on, but in some ways, these guys just don't fit into the game as proper examples of their class. It's best to just treat them as unique creatures and not worry too much about tweaking them to adhere completely to the rules.


"Presto" the Magician

7th Lvl Magic User , Lawful
Str 11
Dex 9
Con 13
Int 17
Wis 15
Cha 12

AC 6
HP 24

Aside from his green Wizard's Robe +3 (acts as a Ring of Protection +3 for AC and Saves) and the Hat of Many Spells, Presto carries the usual rations, supplies and gear for a magic user type adventurer, except a spellbook. His totem item, the Hat of Many Spells, grants him all the abilities of a 7th level magic user, and also enables him to 'mimic' normal spellcasting, but he has yet to actual acquire a spellbook and learn any spells to cast traditionally.

Although he is a magic user while trapped in Mystara, Presto's spellcasting ability is somewhat limited by the fact that he was not trained in an academy or apprenticeship, like most members of his class are. He has the normal allotment of spells per day, but until he gains a spellbook, and can master the essential spell Read Magic to begin expanding his magical arsenal, his selection of spells is "limited" essentially to the abilities of the Hat (see the item description below). Although the Hat's powers are effectively unlimited, its use is risky and not certain to succeed, so any PC magic user, elf or wicca that can teach him more about spells and magic in Mystara will earn a strong friend and ally.

In the real world, Albert is the typical geek. Short and scrawny, he's also more than a bit clumsy and a total failure at most athletic activities. He is a smart kid though, and has a huge imagination, most of which is occupied by his fascination with magic. Real world stage magic, that is. He's never really gotten good at it, but his constant pestering of his friends to help try out his latest card trick or sleight of hand illusion has earned him the teasing nickname "Presto". Whether he realized the negative connotation or not, he's embraced the name, and only rarely refers to himself as Albert anymore.

His interests made Presto the natural choice for the magic user role in the party, and its one he revels in, though he's a bit frustrated because he sees all around what magic can accomplish in Mystara, but he has yet to really master the basics and start learning "the really neat stuff!" He's not quite as clingy and dependent on the others as he leads on, in fact he actually kisses up to Hank and the girls because he doesn't really know that they like him for who he is, not just because he goes along with whatever they want. Presto and Eric get on each other's nerves, and although he genuinely likes the kid, Presto sometimes forgets that Bobby is so much younger, and gets frustrated with the lack of a shared perspective.

As mentioned above, Presto's biggest goal, aside from getting home (or, maybe even surpassing that? He is the most likely to actually enjoy a life in Mystara if he can become a competent magician.) is learning the basics of magic use, so that he can start using the spells he sees and hears about without subjecting himself to the whims of the Hat of Many Spells. He'll try and buddy up with any non-hostile magic using PCs to accomplish this, unless the rest of the gang strongly advises against it.

The Hat of Many Spells (Totem of the "Magician" (Magic User); Minor Artifact)

The Hat of Many Spells is a large green hat, crafted in the usual tall pointy style wizards are famous for. When carried by a normal human or demi-human (0 level, no class), the Griffon Shield imparts the HP, Saving Throws, Spellcasting and Combat Abilities of a 7th level Magic User. This boon does not apply to classed characters, and does not include actual knowledge of any particular spells, these must still be learned in the normal fashion.

In addition, the Hat may be used to mimic spells. The user simply takes the hat off and holds it in one hand, while waving his other hand above it and chanting a simple rhyme to let the Hat know which spell is desired. The resulting magical energy then bursts forth from the Hat, but with wildly varying outcomes.

In a free form campaign attempting to stay true to the exact tone of the Animated Series, the DM should carefully consider the exact wording of what the user requested from the Hat, and twist it slightly, in a good natured way, to determine the result:

If Presto tries to call forth "light" from the Hat, he might end up holding an ornate desk lamp in his hand, with nowhere to plug it in, of course.

If he asks for "something to save us from these dang rats" during combat, the Hat might serve up a large platter of roast beef sandwiches, which could be used to distract the rats, allowing the party to escape.

You get the point. I realize though that this is pretty arbitrary and requires a lot of quick thinking and "winging it" from a DM. To allow a more traditional treatment of the Hat as a magic item, I've attached the following document, a pdf file containing a d100/percentile roll system for determining the outcome of attempting to cast a spell from the Hat.


Thanks to blog founder and co-author Rich "chatdemon" Trickey 
for work on finishing the pdf and included material.

As always, anyone stealing the Hat of Many Spells, or harming or killing Presto to possess it will instantly draw the enmity of his remaining companions (and the Dungeon Master, who will indirectly aid them in avenging their comrade) as well as the ire of Venger (who will be detailed in a separate post here soon). It's not apparent to the heroes, but Venger fears the totems, not necessarily their owners, as a threat to his and Tiamat's power. New owners, potentially much more aware of their world and more of a threat to Venger and his evil mistress, will only alarm him more.

13 May 2012

NPC Profiles: The D&D Animated Series: Eric the Cavalier




It is important to bear in mind that magical forces that brought the "gang" to Mystara, along with the extremely potent incantations of their "totem" items give the heroes their abilities. Class and level are assigned to make sense of saving throws, hit points, and so on, but in some ways, these guys just don't fit into the game as proper examples of their class. It's best to just treat them as unique creatures and not worry too much about tweaking them to adhere completely to the rules.


Eric the Cavalier

7th Lvl Cleric , Lawful
Str 16
Dex 12
Con 16
Int 13
Wis 15
Cha 12

AC -1
HP 48

Aside from his Platemail and the Griffon Shield, Eric carries the usual rations, supplies and gear for a cleric type adventurer, except a standard holy symbol. His totem item, the Griffon Shield, grants him all the abilities of a 7th level cleric, and also serves as a holy symbol of the Mystaran Immortals of law and goodness. Note that Eric also carries no proper weapon.

Although he is a cleric while trapped in Mystara, Eric's spellcasting ability is somewhat limited by the fact that he was not raised and trained in a Mystaran church, like most members of his class are. He has the normal allotment of spells per day, but until he gains more knowledge of the churches he represents, and can comprehend and accept that religion in the "D&D World" is quite different than, and completely unrelated to or influenced by or impacting on his real world religion (which, to serve the most players, I have intentionally left open, in the context of Eric's adventures in Mystara, it just really doesn't matter), his selection of spells is limited essentially to those that directly protect him and his friends, or those that heal damage, cure poison or "status effects" like blindness or deafness. A PC cleric that can get passed Eric's attitude problem and teach him more about religion and divine magic in Mystara will earn a strong friend and ally.

As mentioned just now, Eric's got one heck of an attitude problem. He's basically a well meaning, good guy, but he's pretty intensely insecure, especially with a "cool kid" like Hank around, not to mention two pretty independent and strong willed young women. He tends to act arrogant, sarcastic and egotistical, always fearful of opening himself up and perhaps revealing his nice, weal side.

Despite the persona he projects, Eric is a nice guy deep down, and cares deeply about his friends. He's been slow to accept the reality of the situation the gang has found themselves in, and wishes dearly to return home to a normal life. As time goes on and he finds himself more comfortable in the D&D world, he may start to care about the events of the world at large, but for now, he just wants to get him and his friends home and forget that that cursed roller coaster ever existed.

The Griffon Shield (Totem of the "Cavalier" (Cleric); Minor Artifact)

The Griffon Shield is a large steel shield, plated with a thin veneer of gold and emblazoned with the image of a white griffon's head upon a black circular field. The shield may be used offensively in melee, with a bash attack dealing 1d6 points of damage.

The Griffon shield is a Shield +2, adding a total bonus of -3 to the wielder's armor class. In addition, if the weilder chooses to use the shield two handed, he is considered to be under the effects of the (1st level magic user) spell Shield with the normal protections from missile fire granted by that spell. This power as it available at will, as long as the shield is grasped with both hands, effectively preventing any other action than movement.

Three times per day, the Griffon Shield may be commanded to project a Protection of Evil aura, with a 10 foot radius, but otherwise manifesting as the 1st level Cleric spell of the same name.

Lastly, once per day upon command, the Griffon Shield may be used to invoke a group shield spell effect, acting as the 1st level magic user spell, but granting its protection to all allies of the shield's wielder within a 10 foot radius.

When carried by a normal human or demi-human (0 level, no class), the Griffon Shield imparts the HP, Saving Throws, Spellcasting and Combat Abilities of a 7th level Cleric. This boon does not apply to classed characters.

Anyone stealing the Griffon Shield, or harming or killing Eric to possess it will instantly draw the enmity of his remaining companions (and the Dungeon Master, who will indirectly aid them in avenging their comrade) as well as the ire of Venger (who will be detailed in a separate post here soon). It's not apparent to the heroes, but Venger fears the totems, not necessarily their owners, as a threat to his and Tiamat's power. New owners, potentially much more aware of their world and more of a threat to Venger and his evil mistress, will only alarm him more.

Design Note: In the Advanced D&D, 1st edition, game, the cavalier is a subclass of the fighter, related to but neither as powerful or limited as the paladin. Since the heroes of the cartoon series are not high enough level to qualify for the "name level" subclasses, such as paladin. I chose to make Eric a cleric. This also remedies the fact that the gang has no actual cleric, giving them a little help in the healing department if they oppose a PC party, or join up with them to complete an adventure (which, by the nature of the gang's goals, would have to at least indirectly help them get home).

Also, I have a hunch that the lack of a proper cleric in the cartoon series, when the D&D and AD&D games both assume the presence of a cleric in any normal adventuring party, is probably due in some part to the "D&D Hysteria" created by some fringe religious groups at the time of the show's airing (the early to mid 1980s). As I hinted at in the note about Eric separating his real world religion from his D&D World cleric role, I find the idea of D&D supporting or leading to satanism or other crazy behavior, in otherwise stable and mentally healthy players, ridiculous. In this sense, I am bringing an iconic role in the traditional D&D adventuring party back to what was supposed to be the iconic D&D adventuring party.

Also, as noted in Eric's description, this article and my notes above are intended as role playing game material. I neither promote nor attempt to discredit any real world religion with my writing here.

12 May 2012

NPC Profiles: The D&D Animated Series: Diana the Acrobat

It is important to bear in mind that magical forces that brought the "gang" to Mystara, along with the extremely potent incantations of their "totem" items give the heroes their abilities. Class and level are assigned to make sense of saving throws, hit points, and so on, but in some ways, these guys just don't fit into the game as proper examples of their class. It's best to just treat them as unique creatures and not worry too much about tweaking them to adhere completely to the rules.



Diana the Acrobat

7th Lvl Thief, Lawful
Str 14
Dex 18
Con 16
Int 11
Wis 13
Cha 11

AC 4
HP 39

Aside from her golden +2 Armband of Protection (treat as the ring of the same name) and the Javelin Staff, Diana carries the usual rations, supplies and gear for a thief type adventurer, except lockpicks. Although her totem item, the Javelin Staff, grants her all the abilities of a 7th level thief, she hasn't had the inclination to purchase these tools.

Diana is a confident, fairly self reliant girl, stemming mostly from the natural athletic abilities she has developed since she was able to walk, as she tells it. An accomplished gymnast with many awards and medals from the school teams, Diana was a natural for the Javelin Staff's emphasis on the more physical aspects of the thief class.

Diana loves her friends and will always help them and stick with them to find a way home, but she always tends to evaluate her own abilities and role in an encounter and not let the others put her in situation she either can't handle, or finds too easy to challenge her. She constantly pushes herself to improve and succeed at her abilities, though her fear of failure is a personal thing, she's not a show off or overly worried about anyone laughing at her.

Diana's confidence and courage, and the appreciation for teamwork she's learned throughout a sports focused childhood make her a natural to step up and lead the gang if Hank is unable to.

The Javelin Staff (Totem of the "Acrobat" (Thief); Minor Artifact)

When not activated, the Javelin Staff appears as a six inch long rod of golden hued metal, but with a thought, the wielder can command it to extend to one of its functional sizes; A 4 foot Javelin, 6 foot staff or 10 foot pole. All three of these alternate forms cause the Javelin Staff to appear as a staff of shimmering green light, almost weightless but as hard as steel.

In Javelin form, the weapon may be thrown (with the range and damage stats of a Spear) with a bonus of +1 to hit and damage. This attack form is always Diana's last choice.

In staff form, the Javelin Staff may be used as a standard quarterstaff, either to bludgeon or trip opponenets, with a bonus of +1 to hit and damage. Damage from a successful bashing attack is 1d8. Before the attack roll is made, the wielder may declare a trip attack instead, lowering potential damage to 1d4, but causing the target to fall prone if a Saving Throw vs. Paralysis is failed. The DM may assign bonuses to this Saving Throw in the event the target is significantly larger than man-sized, or has more than two legs.

The weapon's 10 foot pole form is not a weapon at all! Besides all the common (and creative) uses for this ubiqitous dungeoneering tool, in this form, the wielder is endowed with impressive acrobatic skills, listed below with their base chances of success, as well as Diana's modified chances, for ease of reference.

Tightrope Walking: (80+Dex)% Diana: 98%
By using the Javelin Staff as a balancing pole, the wielder can easily cross most tightropes and similar narrow edges.

Pole Vault: Dex Check Diana: 18
By making a 25 foot approach at full movement rate, the staff is used to aid in jumps for height, adding its length to the approximate height of the wielder to determine the total height of the jump, ie 13 feet for halflings, 14 feet for dwarves, 15 feet for elves, and 16 feet for humans. A successful dexterity ability check must be made, or the jumper fails to reach the full height, slamming into any obstacles (including walls, if trying to vault atop) and falling to the ground. Such a failed jump requires a Save vs Paralysis to avoid suffering 1d2 points of falling damage.

Attempting to retain hold of the Javelin Staff after a pole vault (successful or otherwise) is quite difficult, requiring a check against 1/2 of the character's dexterity score.

Parry Flurry: Dex Check Diana: 18
Last, but certainly not least, while wielding the Javelin Staff and attempting no movement or attack manuvers in the current combat round, a character may engage in a series of defensive spins and sweeps, greatly reducing the chances of being hit by any enemies in melee. This act must be declared at the start of the round, and is the only thing that can be accomplished during the round, but doing so provides a temporar +5 bonus to the wielder's Armor Class. This brings Diana's effective AC to -1 if she opts for the parry flurry in combat. Parry Flurry is effective against backstab attempts, but has no effect against missile fire attacks.


* The Javelin Staff is unique among the gang's Totem Items in that it is the only one designed, in part, for direct offensive damage against an opponent. Keep in mind however that while athletic and competetive, Diana is not violent. She will attempt to avoid combat if at all possible without endangering her friends, perhaps even going so far as to challenge would be opponents to non-lethal tests of athletics instead of going to blows.

When carried by a normal human or demi-human (0 level, no class), the Javelin imparts the HP, Saving Throws, "thieving skills" and Combat Abilities of a 7th level thief. This boon does not apply to classed characters. In addition, any wielder of the Javelin Staff is able to invoke its various combat and acrobatic powers, outlined above.

Anyone stealing the Javelin Staff, or harming or killing Diana to possess it will instantly draw the enmity of her remaining companions (and the Dungeon Master, who will indirectly aid them in avenging their comrade) as well as the ire of Venger (who will be detailed in a separate post here soon). It's not apparent to the heroes, but Venger fears the totems, not necessarily their owners, as a threat to his and Tiamat's power. New owners, potentially much more aware of their world and more of a threat to Venger and his evil mistress, will only alarm him more.

Design Note: Since there is no Acrobat class in Classic D&D, I had to get a little creative. I chose to just make the acrobatic abilities part of the item's granted powers, instead of needlessly tweaking Diana's class. In addition, to further mimic the Thief-Acrobat class from AD&D 1st edition's Unearthed Arcana rule book, I would grant the wielder of the staff a +2 to any Str, Dex or Con check related to jumping, tumbling, balancing or other strictly athletic or acrobatic activities.