"straight" rolls in D&D

Mort

Community Supporter
But I'll bite - okay so what could be an interesting consequence of failing? What would correspond to never being able to cast Wish again?

You can never take flight? Vulnerability to <s>poison</s>necrotic? It is hard to find a consequence that does not meaningfully gimp the character in regular play, yet means definite pain that cannot be trivialized.
Maybe instead of a failure chance - write up a list of traits that that work with a powerful LE dragon, every time the artifact is used, the user gains one of those traits (no roll - just gains), examples:

1. User can no longer lie (known to never utter a lie);
2. User can no longer attack to subdue (was known to have no mercy);
3. User has the friends cantrip on all the time (sounds great until you read the downside) - known to have a silver tongue, but with a dark edge.
etc.

Getting your traits/bonds/etc replaced with entries from some lawful evil dragony table (if one exists) would be kind of cool. Maybe I need to check up on the various DnD indexes there is...
Same as above (put it on the list) - Use of the artifact will replace an Ideal, bond/and or give the character a dragony flaw.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Lots of good ideas, but what comes to my mind are these comments;
- I think the effects should be a gradual process, requiring more than one roll with escalating consequences
- I would think the device would not cause alignment change, but the consequences of use cause evil acts, which then results in your alignment changing because you are doing evil things
- I tend to like the idea of blood lust, or perhaps soul devouring. i.e. where when you fail a contest check with the sentient item, you are forced to drink/drain so many points of blood or soul (i.e. hit points) and feed them (through your attunement) to the object. This start off slow, but grows as you continue to use or fail your contest checks until eventually the character is consumed with sacrificing any and everything to the artifact.

To me, that last point give you huge opportunities for roleplay, as well as character development, and it grows over some time period so it's not a single decisive role. Think about it; you can start off by sacrificing evil creatures you encounter, but then you need more, and so you start sacrificing convicted prisoners (even one you later find out was innocent), but then it so thirsty even your party members are looking tasty!
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
Lots of good ideas, but what comes to my mind are these comments;
- I think the effects should be a gradual process, requiring more than one roll with escalating consequences
I would agree with this in the general case, but in this specific case (the characters are already level 16, and probably only have a handful of sessions left before the game ends), I think an all-or-nothing approach might be better.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I would agree with this in the general case, but in this specific case (the characters are already level 16, and probably only have a handful of sessions left before the game ends), I think an all-or-nothing approach might be better.
And, of course, if that's the case, and there's a big battle climax, who should the PCs be fighting?
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
Well, at level 16 I would hope I would have an end game in mind. But, no rush to get there. So 4 levels with at least 3 sessions per level, so it doesn't seem that close to needing to resolve things in a single die roll. But of course, no need to go to level 20 either, totally depends upon how the campaign is going to wrap up.

Hopefully some BBEG and re-curring adversary or goal (godhood, etc) has presented itself and you're on the path there. Perhaps even the possible Evil PC or the artifact's destruction itself might be the end game.
 

Quartz

Explorer
I've read the thread and ISTM there's a fundamental element of the discussion missing: fun. Is losing the PC going to be fun for the player? I rather think not. So don't do it.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Yes I am aware the AL allows LE and that this is not out of the ordinary. In my case however, I'm not too keen on retreating from my ruling from years ago.

Again, since this item is (nearly) equally useful for all characters, I want to avoid challenges some classes find much easier than others (Clerics and Druids in your case).

If the item was meant for only some classes, a specific ability save makes much more sense. Divine casters all have it easy; arcane casters all have it rough. In both cases the chosen mechanism doesn't play favorites, given the intended audience.

But if "every sort of hero" is that audience, as in this case, I would like to avoid keying the challenge to any given ability score (skill, save etc).
That's fine. I recall in the source I mention it was a Wisdom check/save because of the willpower to resist the cursed items taking over the character.

An option would be that the character has to make a check/save against EACH ability score. You could roll randomly to see which one is first, etc. Since every class/character has strengths and weaknesses, it is fair IMO. If the player makes more than they lose, they are safe. If they lose more, they are consumed. If they split it 3-3, they try again the next day or something.

Personally, it might be too complex for you, but I like the idea that with each success, the DC could drop 5 or so. Once all are successful, the character is safe. For each failure, the DC increases 5 or so, and if eventually all fail, the character is lost to the player.

I guess it depends on how much a "struggle" you want it to be and how long in game time you want it to take. Are the changes in the personality slow and subtle, or strong and obvious?

Just some thoughts.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
I've read the thread and ISTM there's a fundamental element of the discussion missing: fun. Is losing the PC going to be fun for the player? I rather think not. So don't do it.
If it truly is the final encounter of the game, the Big Boss fight, then the player is going to lose their PC afterwards anyway, right? So the real issue is just how the character's retirement gets narrated.

So you could do something like: each time the artifact is used, it increases by 10% the chance that the PC retires as a villain instead of a hero. Of course, that doesn't work if you're a player like me, who would pump this up to 100% deliberately in order for my PC to be the BBEG of the next campaign. ;}
 
Maybe hard to find a thread title that makes sense, but here's the deal.

My players have found an item (the heart of an ancient green dragon per Medieval Melodies blog, if you're interested) that provides plenty of cool benefits. The original description, however, says you turn Lawful Evil and that this "may" turn you into a NPC under the control of the DM.

Now, I personally use "no evilz" in my campaign. Making an exception here doesn't feel right. Which means that if I follow the suggested rule that makes the item unusable by player characters. Thing is, I don't want to uselessness the item this way. :)

We're gamers at heart so using dice feels natural to us. What I do want is: the cost of donning the item is a risk of becoming evil and thus possibly facing character retirement. I want only those players willing to risk having to switch characters for story reasons to apply for this item. If a player would be upset or angry he or she should simply pass.

Now then: what precedent in the history of D&D is there for this kind of die roll?

Making it a specific skill check or save feels unfair - there's nothing about this item that says it should only be usable to certain characters (except draconic sorcerers I guess). I don't want to pretty much exclude half the group based simply by the class or ability choices they made more than a year ago at level 1.

Instead I'm looking at 5E and seeing how Death saves are equal to all (or mostly all) characters. The risk of Wish turning bad is also a set percentage.

Is there any AD&D or Pathfinder (or any other edition) specific mechanism that would cover what I'm trying to do here.

Fair warning: My inclination is to make it a straight 15% risk. That is, rolling d100 (so no d20-roll abilities come into play) and if you get 86-00 you turn Lawful Evil and one thing is certain: the item and its benefits are lost. So this thread is more of a "let's ask ENWorld so I'm not missing out on something cool" thread.

(I would say "your previous flaws, traits and bonds are replaced" and even "your character is retired" but since the party is level 16 I am leaving this part open. After all, using Wish to reverse the alignment change feels entirely reasonable. Just to take the obvious example - I would not be surprised if crafty players can come up with other spells and effects as well)

My question again: do you recall any "class-neutral" rule or scenario from previous decades of D&D where a similar character-dooming decision is made?
I hate coming in to a discussion late. I offer my advice based on the premise that I haven’t read the whole thread through.

I would have the item work with character backgrounds and flaws. This is done similar to how FATE uses aspects. Whatever method you use to determine the character’s fall into evildome, have it done slowly. After their first failure, have them change their flaw to something that aligns with the nature of the item. Use this flaw and have them role play it as the campaign goes on. At moments they give in to their flaw and/or use the item, make them do another role. If they have inspiration, let them use it to succeed automatically, as long as they can justify that use with another background trait that would represent a personality that wit that would prevent them from Turning. If they don’t have an appropriate trait, inspiration is used normally.

If they fail, they are forced to change another trait. Over time, their traits will become more aligned to the nature of the object, they will have less positive traits that can help them and they will eventually become fully evil.

Their last change could be their background trait to represent the day they found the item.

The nice thing is they can still play but be gradually tempted. The nicer thing is they can try to rid themselves of the item. But even if they do, they now have these evil traits pushing them and will have to find a way to redeem themselves in order to change the traits to something less negative. Like a flaw of ‘unforgivable guilt’ to represent their guilt of the evil they committed while influenced by the item.
 

Mort

Community Supporter
Of course, that doesn't work if you're a player like me, who would pump this up to 100% deliberately in order for my PC to be the BBEG of the next campaign. ;}
It's not a bug, it's a feature!
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
Skipping past some of the potentially great suggestions in the thread, I'll throw in my 2 cents:
1: There is an initial mental save (Wisdom, Int, Cha, whatever) save once the heart is implanted. On a Nat 1, the character becomes LE and an NPC. On anything short of a success the player gains some type of madness associated with in this case, a green dragon. Maybe they become racist towards elves. Maybe they become obsessed with designing traps, puzzles and mazes. This madness cannot be removed without removing the dragon's heart.
2: There is a successive save (of the same type as before) at a given interval, say, one week. If they Nat 1, become evil and become an NPC. If they fail, they gain a new madness.
3 through X: Rinse and repeat this process as many times as you think is appropriate. Three is a minimum I'd go with. 10 at a max, but hey whatever floats your boat. Once they've hit the cap, they become evil and become an NPC.

I'd like to make a note that if a character's heart was destroyed, they are likely dead. So the PC and the player may have very little say in the other party members bringing their character back by shoving a dragon's heart in their chest. If they're doing it willingly to gain power and test the odds, chances are you already have evil players who just aren't flying the evil flag.

For a simpler approach, as others have suggested, you could give the player a Sanity score, with a mental-based save on a daily/weekly/monthly/situational basis, with failure leading them to a slow descent into madness and being dominated by the desires of the dragon's heart.
 

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