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Gate Pass Gazette GPG Issue #23 is ready to roll initiative

Savannah Broadway

Managing the Gate Pass Gazette

The latest issue of the Gate Pass Gazette, the official magazine of Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition, has arrived! You can check it out on Patreon here.

And while you're at it, have you signed up to be notified for the Gate Pass Gazette Annual 2023 Kickstarter?

One-on-One: Mechanics for Duels and Single Combat
Adventurers fighting hordes of undead, groups of bandits, and various collections of dangerous wildlife are classic scenes in the fantasy landscape. However, there is nothing quite like the feeling of engaging another combatant one-on-one, using everything at one’s disposal to come out on top. The stories that tell of brave knights, cunning duelists, and brash brawlers that made their name during a legendary duel are many. Now, the following mechanics can help new characters cement their name in legend just the same. By Tyler R Lee and Savannah Broadway

Cultural Gear: Not All Who Wander Are Lost

The next installment of the Cultural Gear articles that started with “Well Equipped: Cultural Gear” in Gate Pass Gazette Issue #19, this collection of equipment is tied to the unique concerns and needs of people groups that live on the move: the Caravanner, Circusfolk, Itinerant, and Nomad cultures. Their gear tends to be portable, sturdy, and shielded from the elements. By Peter N Martin.

Mighty Mini Mounted Martials: Archetypes for Small-Size Riders

These disciplines are the means of mundane warriors of smaller stature to make use of mounts that larger adventurers are unable to ride. Gnomes, halflings, and other short folk head into battle atop these beasts to coast through the water, scale shear walls, soar across the sky, or tunnel beneath the earth! By Mike Myler.

Shadows of the Self: The Shadowcast Heritage

A dark mirror of the Material Plane, the Bleak Gate is often perceived as a terrifying, lifeless place dominated by the cursed, the exiled, and the undead. But among the abandoned ruins and the tormented whispers there exist the people known as the shadowcasts, reflections of sapient creatures on the Material Plane. While their “counterparts” (as they are called) are completely ignorant of their existence, shadowcasts are aware of their extraplanar twins on a basic level. Most elect to ignore them out of fear of driving themselves mad with crises of identity, but a few journey out from the Bleak Gate in search of their counterparts—for good or ill. By Jessy Mullins.


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Hey, I don't know if there's a great place to talk about this and give like full-form feedback, but I was actually super excited about the duel rules. So apologies for the effort-post ahead?

Seeing the announcement of next month's GPG articles come up reminded me of all the stuff from this article, specifically dueling. I ended up running 3 duels in just this month's sessions since the combat rules came out, and while I think it's a great idea for a system, I think it has a lot of issues that prevent it from being more than just a "neat" little thing that comes up once or twice in a campaign, rather than a viable reality in the right circumstances. Namely, it feels like a lot of these rules were balanced for very low levels, which to me seems evident in how there's a lot of strange overlap in things. Now, this is technically paid content, so I don't know how in-depth I can talk about it, but I also feel like feedback is important for the ongoing development of things. I'll try not to be too specific.

So, for reference, my party is level 12, which means there's a big diversity in action economy and abilities, and an abundance of resources like exertion points, spell slots, etc. So first and foremost, there is almost just an outright unfairness in who succeeds in a duel. In order to reach their competent damage threshold, for example, a rogue needs to 1) be dual wielding, and 2) hit both its attack and bonus action attack, one of which has to be made at disadvantage in order to proc the next attack with advantage in order to get sneak attack (which effectively compensates their lack of multiattack). A fighter, comparatively, gets all 3 of its attacks, as normal, full power, at LESS of a cost than the rogue spending its action and bonus action.
Similarly, martials vs casters can become trivially one-sided. A barbarian can be devastating in a one-on-one, but with no abilities relating to negating or avoiding abilities or things like that, a barb can basically be crippled with debuff spells. What I mean to highlight with this is that I think a more free-flowing point-based action economy is really cool, but WHY is it then immediately hamstrung with things like "movement is free, also you can STILL only take one action and one bonus action per turn"? All this means is the only thing I'm spending points on is to either A) compensate a LACK of points to utilize my bonus action, which is really only relevant at low levels, or B) stack as many reaction as possible. Now the latter seems to be more focused on, given the vast majority of unique duel combat abilities they give you are all reactions, but even then a lot of these reactions just are very crunchy and wordy and complicated for not much of a reward. I'll give you an example: IF you meet certain stat requirements and a creature attacks you, you can spend a reaction to roll a save against a DC that has to be calculated. IF you succeed, you get a +2 to AC, but if you fail you take an EXTRA DIE worth of damage. Alternatively, you can just have a weapon with the parry property that lets you get +1d4 AC against that attack for free. This is also a problem because I cut out like 50% of the wording in that explanation, and with 10 dueling maneuvers being added to a system that the DM almost certainly isn't going to make his players pre-read and commit to memory, a lot of this gets completely disregarded in the heat of combat. It also makes combat slow WAY down when every single attack is halted by someone trying to bring up, explain, roll for, and calculate a reaction against every single attack., but I feel like the slowness is negative because it almost takes the wind out of the sails of whoever is doing the attacking
Another issue is some of the wording seems very confusing or unclear. For example, in the rules a "basic maneuver" is 1 duel action. But... the attack action is only 2 duel actions. So my party's fighter, who can attack 3 times might make one of those attacks a "disarm", which is a basic maneuver. As per the A5E rules, they can replace one of their attacks with this. Does this mean their attack now costs 3 points? (2 for attack action, +1 for a basic maneuver)?

I could go on and deep-dive, but I mostly post because it feels so close to a really good system that I want to see develop further or flourish into something really refined that can potentially make A5e really unique. Big credit to the author, I think trying for something new is better than not, and I wouldn't write this much if I thought it was a bad system, the fact that it feels so close to great is what makes me write all of this. Anyway, idk if anyone else has had the chance to run this stuff, but I'd love to hear other peoples' opinions.

TL;DR, I feel like dueling rules right now are a 5/10 with a LOT of potential, but currently stuck in "gimmick" status. The main grievances are:
  • Feels like the system doesn't scale well with levels above like 10
  • If you're adding a new action economy, why is everything still shackled to 1 action and 1 bonus action per turn?
  • Consequentially, why is EVERYTHING reaction-based because of this?
  • Why does it feel like some classes just inherently are bad at duels?
  • Dueling maneuvers need to be WAY less wordy and WAY less calculation-intensive
  • Being able to manually "slow" creatures is pretty devastating. I feel like just taking one aspect of slow would be more appropriate
  • Targeting specific body parts is really cool, why are there only 3 options? What if I want to defeat a creature not by killing it, but by making it unable to fight? etc etc
  • Wording for action economy is unclear in some areas
  • Being able to manipulate duel actions (give more next round, take away from next round, etc) is cool, why is "Boo" - a crowd action - the only thing capable of doing this?

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