Monday, June 20, 2016

RamaD&Dan: Curse of Strahd Character Creation

Just posting for posterity at the moment. I'm relatively happy with this, though a few things might change if I run this again. Specifically, variant Human is still real good, I might bump it up to the rare races and allow someone a reroll for stats if they don't roll better than the standard array/point buy (as one player did). Also, a random thought: I hadn't considered dividing classes into rare/common as well, and only letting (say, Barbarians or Battlerager Barbarians) if you keep your stat roll.

RamaD&Dan: Curse of Strahd
Wednesdays—June 8, 15, 22, 29 & July 6 2016

The aim is to plow through Curse of Strahd in the 5 weeks of Ramadan. That means playing something like 5-10 (maybe 4:30-10:30 if we can manage it), and we might see about arranging an additional day halfway through as needed/desired. There’s probably at least enough material in the book for twice as much play time, so we’ll need to be somewhat focused and on-task to get through things.

Party Creation

Before you’re wedded to a character, the group needs to discuss the party. Are you an adventuring family (this might limit races to things like humans, half-elves, half-orcs…), a mercenary group, a heroic group of do-gooders, or something else? Does the party have an alignment (and everyone agrees to pick an alignment at most one step removed?), an association, or some overarching goal? Do you elect a leader, or are you lead by some noble or honorable soul? Are you all from the same culture or religious group? What is home like? Remember in this edition that you don’t absolutely need any particular character class and even single-class parties can survive.

Character Creation

The info below should cover everything we’ll need for character creation. It’s not set in stone, but these are the options I think fit a heroic/good party in the setting/module well. I’m totally willing to consider other options, either as an individual or once a party concept is settled.


Start at 4th level. Curse of Strahd is designed to do 3-9ish and if you get one level per session we’d hit 9 at the end.

Ability Scores

Roll randomly 4d6 drop the lowest in order. Because stats are really important in 5e, you can ditch your rolls and use the standard book system as a human (normal or variant human). As a standard human you can instead rearrange your rolled scores.


  • Human (Standard, Variant) - As a human, you may opt to take the standard array (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) and arrange to taste. If you pick the standard human, you can instead re-arrange your rolled scores as desired.
  • Elf (Wood, High)
  • Dwarf (Hill, Mountain)
  • Halfling (Lightfoot, Stout)
  • Gnome (Forest, Rock)
  • Half-Elf (Standard PHB, Variants SCAG)
  • Half-Orc


These are preferred class options that seem to fit the adventure well. Something from the book can probably be worked in. Other Unearthed Arcana or DMsGuild material is going to be more case-by-case if you want to suggest/request something.
  • Bard (College of Lore, College of Valor, College of Swords UA)
  • Cleric (Knowledge, Life, Light, Nature, War, Trickery, Arcana SCAG, )
  • Druid (Circle of the Land, Circle of the Moon)
  • Fighter (Champion, Battlemaster, Eldritch Knight, Cavalier UA, Monster Hunter UA, Scout UA, Bannaret/Purple Dragon Knight SCAG)
  • Monk (Open Hand)
  • MysticUA (Awakened, Immortal)
  • Paladin (Devotion, Ancients*, Vengeance, Crown SCAG)
  • Ranger (Hunter, Beast Master), or spell-less variant from Unearthed Arcana.
  • Rogue (Thief, Assassin, Arcane Trickster, Inquisitive UA, Mastermind SCAG, Swashbuckler SCAG)
  • Sorcerer (Draconic, Wild Magic, Favored SoulUA, Storm SCAG)
  • Warlock (Fey, UndyingSCAG)
  • Wizard (Abjuration, Divination, Evocation, Transmutation, Elementalist New[link removed for secrecy], Artificer UA, Bladesinger** SCAG)
*Elf, Half-Elf, and Gnome Only (or some good fey backstory)
**Elf Only (or a really good backstory)


SCAG backgrounds available.
Haunted One also available (only one in the party).

Personality Traits, Ideals, Bonds, Flaws

Go ahead and roll or select them based on your background. I’ll also likely suggest an alternate or two that you might choose.


Everyone is assumed to be good or neutral. Law/chaos won’t be relevant here.


Starting equipment by the book.


In play (as is variant human). Note: new feats from unearthed arcana.


Additional spells from Elemental Evil Player’s Companion and SCAG are available, and other homebrew stuff I had been working on for different games is here [link removed for secrecy].


Consider linking your character to one of the others in the party.
You should know at least one great deed your character has done.
You should know how many immediate family members your character has.


I’m testing out a few things to make the game feel a bit grittier and more thematic.


Healer’s Kit Dependency - One use of a healer’s kit is required to spend hit dice during a short rest (but not a long rest; requires training in Medicine).
Slow Natural Healing - You don’t regain hit points with a long rest, only ½ your hit dice.

Combat: Initiative

Initiative rules may change combat to combat or round to round.

Combat: Action Options

Climb onto a Bigger Creature, Disarm, Mark, Overrun, Shove Aside, and Tumble are options (from the DM’s Guide).

Combat: Injuries & Death

Being reduced to 0 HP automatically grants a level of exhaustion in addition to the usual effects.
If you die and are not resurrected, or otherwise change characters, you start a new character at one level lower than your previous character (there are ways to come back from the dead). There may be an exception if you opt to take over an NPC as your new character.


XP is awarded to the party, so everyone is at the same level.
Gain one XP for each session, one XP for each great deed and two for finding each of the  Tarokka goals. You might need to take a long rest to advance a level once you have enough XP. You need 4 XP to gain a level, 5 to hit level 11.


I’m bad at tracking it, so you’ll hand a copy of your personality traits to another player during the game and they can award you an inspiration for playing up your traits.

Table Rules

  • Floor dice don’t count.
  • Reroll cocked dice.
  • Roll attacks and damage at the same time. It speeds things up.
  • Characters of absent players fade into the background.

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