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D&D 5E Thirteen observations about Xanathar’s Guide

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
Thirteen observations about Xanathar’s Guide

Here are 13 observations I’ve made since getting my copy of Xanathar’s Guide. I make no claims to being the first to see these, but I have not included things I’ve seen discussed in other threads. This isn't meant to be a review. Thoughts, corrections, and opinions appreciated.

1. Samurai’s Fighting Spirit grants temporary hit points. You can also give yourself advantage “until the end of the current turn” (XG 31). Do the temporary hit points disappear then too? “Unless the feature has a duration, they last until they’re depleted or you finish a long rest” (PHB 198). Well, the feature does, so the temp HPs disappear at the end of the current turn – before the enemy attacks. This doesn’t seem right (and may need errata?).

2. Kensei weapons (XG 34). You can choose (edit)a sickle or a whip(/edit) and use it to perform your agile parry. I find this hilarious. Seriously, parrying with hand axes seems pretty cool.

3. Paladin’s Oath of Redemption (XG 38-39). No longer has the Armor of Peace or the Warrior of Reconciliation features. Does this mean Redemption paladins are still carrying greatswords and wearing heavy armor? Doesn’t this undercut the concept? (It certainly seems at odds with the illustration provided).

4. Scout Rogue’s Survivalist feature (XG 47) gives proficiency and expertise with Nature and Survival. It’s not called expertise here (for reasons that aren’t clear), but the effect is the same and it doesn’t stack (XG 5). Not stacking is explicit on the Prodigy feat (XG 75), but this isn’t an exception. Apparently there is no benefit if you have already chosen Expertise in either or both of these skills (unless you work something out with your DM).

5. Sleeping in Medium and Heavy armor now gives limited benefits from a long rest (XG 77-78). Many will just ignore this, but it’s a reasonable ruling.

6. Adamantine weapons (XG 78) help to break things. The first 500gp investment of any halforc.

7. Tying Knots (XG 78). While I would prefer proficiency in ropes as a tool, we now know that knot-tying and untying is formally part of Slight-of-hand, a skill I have hitherto not been interested in.

8. Interaction of skills and tools (XG 78). I’ve been troubled by the overlap before, and now we have rules that say when two overlap, it gives advantage. This makes obvious sense in a few cases (Herbalism with Medicine), but it feels a little bit like a tax – proficiency in Thieves’ Tools helping with Investigation or Perception to spot a trap, for example. It also means that a capella singing can’t ever gain the advantage available to accordion players (Musical instruments with Performance). I’m still thinking about this.

9. Tool descriptions (XG 78-85) and Common Magic Items (XG 136-40) are pretty cool.

10. Ceremony spell (XG 151): Ugh. I hated the UA version of this, and it’s still bad:

a. Atonement: how can one be willing about alignment change? Alignment isn’t fixed unless it’s a magical effect, and there are no restrictions on classes and alignment. If it’s to counteract a magical effect, the player may be willing, but the character by definition isn’t. Unless this is now the only way that a character can change alignment, in which case we can convert savages and CE goblins can be made NG. In which case it’s awesome.

b. Coming of Age and Dedication can only give their benefits to a creature once (ever). Who wants to track this nonsense? Do high-level characters save this until just before they bight the Ancient Red Dragon, and suddenly decide to get confirmed before the fight?

c. Wedding. That is, unless they get married to each other. In a world with Raise Dead spells, the “to death do us part” nonsense implicit in the now-undefined term of “widowed” (in addition to being completely out of step with the 20th century, let alone the 21st) suggests that divorces typically involve fights to the death, so that characters are free to re-marry. And the benefit is to help Armor Class? Yep, that’s why I got married. So my wife and I could do better on the tag-team gladiator pits for the first half of our honeymoon.

11. Find Greater Steed (XG 156) is now a top pick for Bard’s Magical Secrets at level 10. Who needs a familiar when you can ride a rhinoceros?

12. There’s a lot about Infestation (XG 158) that (edit)I initially misread. Oops!(/edit)

13. Finally, a point about what’s not there: the absence of Booming Blade and Greenflame blade from the spell lists seems deliberate. I know they are powerful (possibly over-powerful) and popular spells. For those who are concerned about the PHB+1 rule, this seems a good way to curb their use.
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Here are 13 observations I’ve made since getting my copy of Xanathar’s Guide. I make no claims to being the first to see these, but I have not included things I’ve seen discussed in other threads. This isn't meant to be a review. Thoughts, corrections, and opinions appreciated.

1. Samurai’s Fighting Spirit grants temporary hit points. You can also give yourself advantage “until the end of the current turn” (XG 31). Do the temporary hit points disappear then too? “Unless the feature has a duration, they last until they’re depleted or you finish a long rest” (PHB 198). Well, the feature does, so the temp HPs disappear at the end of the current turn – before the enemy attacks. This doesn’t seem right (and may need errata?).
I don't read it that way
As a bonus action on your turn, you can give yourself advantage on weapon attack rolls until the end of the current turn.​

Is one sentence. The next sentence

When you do so, you also gain 5 temporary hit points.​

gives you the temp HP. The expiration does not apply to the temp HP IMHO.

It would have had to read something like
As a bonus action on your turn, you can give yourself advantage on weapon attack rolls and gain 5 temporary hit points until the end of the current turn.​

2. Kensei weapons (XG 34). You can choose blowgun (or a sling, or a hand crossbow) and use it to perform your agile parry. I find this hilarious. Seriously, parrying with hand axes seems pretty cool.
No ...
you can use it to defend yourself if it is a melee weapon

3. Paladin’s Oath of Redemption (XG 38-39). No longer has the Armor of Peace or the Warrior of Reconciliation features. Does this mean Redemption paladins are still carrying greatswords and wearing heavy armor? Doesn’t this undercut the concept? (It certainly seems at odds with the illustration provided).

Just because you use violence as a last resort doesn't mean you shouldn't be good at it if you do have to resort to it. :)

4. Scout Rogue’s Survivalist feature (XG 47) gives proficiency and expertise with Nature and Survival. It’s not called expertise here (for reasons that aren’t clear), but the effect is the same and it doesn’t stack (XG 5). Not stacking is explicit on the Prodigy feat (XG 75), but this isn’t an exception. Apparently there is no benefit if you have already chosen Expertise in either or both of these skills (unless you work something out with your DM).

Don't see why this is an issue, other classes have similar wording. In other words, don't take proficiency and expertise in those skills if you plan on taking Scout.

5. Sleeping in Medium and Heavy armor now gives limited benefits from a long rest (XG 77-78). Many will just ignore this, but it’s a reasonable ruling.

Yeah, not a big issue unless you have levels of exhaustion and/or use a lot of HD healing.

6. Adamantine weapons (XG 78) help to break things. The first 500gp investment of any halforc.

7. Tying Knots (XG 78). While I would prefer proficiency in ropes as a tool, we now know that knot-tying and untying is formally part of Slight-of-hand, a skill I have hitherto not been interested in.

8. Interaction of skills and tools (XG 78). I’ve been troubled by the overlap before, and now we have rules that say when two overlap, it gives advantage. This makes obvious sense in a few cases (Herbalism with Medicine), but it feels a little bit like a tax – proficiency in Thieves’ Tools helping with Investigation or Perception to spot a trap, for example. It also means that a capella singing can’t ever gain the advantage available to accordion players (Musical instruments with Performance). I’m still thinking about this.

In many cases bards are already going to have advantage, I like that this gives me an option to have my singing barbarian actually be decent.

9. Tool descriptions (XG 78-85) and Common Magic Items (XG 136-40) are pretty cool.

10. Ceremony spell (XG 151): Ugh. I hated the UA version of this, and it’s still bad:

a. Atonement: how can one be willing about alignment change? Alignment isn’t fixed unless it’s a magical effect, and there are no restrictions on classes and alignment. If it’s to counteract a magical effect, the player may be willing, but the character by definition isn’t. Unless this is now the only way that a character can change alignment, in which case we can convert savages and CE goblins can be made NG. In which case it’s awesome.

b. Coming of Age and Dedication can only give their benefits to a creature once (ever). Who wants to track this nonsense? Do high-level characters save this until just before they bight the Ancient Red Dragon, and suddenly decide to get confirmed before the fight?

c. Wedding. That is, unless they get married to each other. In a world with Raise Dead spells, the “to death do us part” nonsense implicit in the now-undefined term of “widowed” (in addition to being completely out of step with the 20th century, let alone the 21st) suggests that divorces typically involve fights to the death, so that characters are free to re-marry. And the benefit is to help Armor Class? Yep, that’s why I got married. So my wife and I could do better on the tag-team gladiator pits for the first half of our honeymoon.

I think this is very campaign dependent, I can see using it in my campaign. YMMV.

11. Find Greater Steed (XG 156) is now a top pick for Bard’s Magical Secrets at level 10. Who needs a familiar when you can ride a rhinoceros?

12. There’s a lot about Infestation (XG 158) that is left unsaid. How long do the insects last? If it’s just for the turn, then why worry about the movement. If they do persist (forever?) do they bite a creature in the next square? It’s a cool spell, but there’s a lot that requires adjudication here.

I don't understand the issue. The parasites "appear momentarily" and the duration is instantaneous. It's forced movement out of turn.

13. Finally, a point about what’s not there: the absence of Booming Blade and Greenflame blade from the spell lists seems deliberate. I know they are powerful (possibly over-powerful) and popular spells. For those who are concerned about the PHB+1 rule, this seems a good way to curb their use.
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
I don't read it that way
As a bonus action on your turn, you can give yourself advantage on weapon attack rolls until the end of the current turn.​

Is one sentence. The next sentence

When you do so, you also gain 5 temporary hit points.​

gives you the temp HP. The expiration does not apply to the temp HP IMHO.

It would have had to read something like
As a bonus action on your turn, you can give yourself advantage on weapon attack rolls and gain 5 temporary hit points until the end of the current turn.​
Well, you can see the quote specifically calls out if the feature has a duration. That's the case here.
No ...
you can use it to defend yourself if it is a melee weapon
.
Ah, good call. My eyes glazed over.

In many cases bards are already going to have advantage, I like that this gives me an option to have my singing barbarian actually be decent.
I'm not sure why this is true. Where does advantage come from? (I love the singing barbarian; but he can't sing a cappella if he wants to keep up.)

I think this is very campaign dependent, I can see using it in my campaign. YMMV.
I'd love to hear why or how. It builds into the rules all sorts of silly (unconnected) effects, adds bookkeeping.
I don't understand the issue. The parasites "appear momentarily" and the duration is instantaneous. It's forced movement out of turn.
I stand corrected.
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Well, you can see the quote specifically calls out if the feature has a duration. That's the case here.

I simply read it differently. Take Aid as an example "Each target's hit point maximum and current hit points increase by 5 for the duration." IMHO the duration clearly applies to the advantage, not the temp HP based on the sentence structure.


I'm not sure why this is true. Where does advantage come from?

I'll have to ask; maybe it was from some magic item. But I still like it (I think) because it gives me more flexibility to build somewhat off the wall characters like a barbarian with a lute that thinks he's a bard. I may change my mind once I see it in play.

I'd love to hear why or how. It builds into the rules all sorts of silly (unconnected) effects, adds bookkeeping.

It may not come into play all that often, but I've had PCs get married, a guy that proselytized to everyone and occasionally converted people, regions where the dead may rise from the dead until the proper rituals are performed and so on. It's only a 1st level spell, and a ritual at that so if it only comes up once in a blue moon I'm OK with that.

For example, in my wife's campaign a PC got married (to an NPC) in a "quickie" wedding because we were about to go off and face the BBEG and they wanted to marry while they still had a chance; much like GI's marrying before they go to war.

Of course I could see this being abused "Gee, Bob, another wife died under mysterious circumstances? That's too bad. So who's your new friend?"
 

MarkB

Legend
a. Atonement: how can one be willing about alignment change? Alignment isn’t fixed unless it’s a magical effect, and there are no restrictions on classes and alignment. If it’s to counteract a magical effect, the player may be willing, but the character by definition isn’t. Unless this is now the only way that a character can change alignment, in which case we can convert savages and CE goblins can be made NG. In which case it’s awesome.
Seriously? There are loads of stories about characters who want to become better (i.e. gooder) people, but are having trouble finding the moral strength to do so. And, contrariwise, people who are pursuing some goal or cause, such as revenge or conquest, and want to set aside the doubts and regrets that plague them. It's not rare for a person to wish to be what they are not.

[video=youtube;trsIcv3hWI4]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=trsIcv3hWI4[/video]
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
For example, in my wife's campaign a PC got married (to an NPC) in a "quickie" wedding because we were about to go off and face the BBEG and they wanted to marry while they still had a chance; much like GI's marrying before they go to war.
See? That sounds awesome. What isn't awesome is turning marriage into a week-long +2 AC bonus.
Seriously? There are loads of stories about characters who want to become better (i.e. gooder) people, but are having trouble finding the moral strength to do so. And, contrariwise, people who are pursuing some goal or cause, such as revenge or conquest, and want to set aside the doubts and regrets that plague them. It's not rare for a person to wish to be what they are not.
Really. A story about moral struggle is awesome. A spell that removes that struggle trivially is not.
PCs can already change their alignments as they wish. The only beings who can't (PHB 122 are celestials and fiends). I take it as a given the primary purpose of the first-level spell isn't to help convert fiends, or to torture angels. So either it's dealing with magical effects, or it's adding rules to remove player choice for alignment change.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
See? That sounds awesome. What isn't awesome is turning marriage into a week-long +2 AC bonus.

"The blessings of Berranor go with you and protect you as you start your new life together" granting a temporary bonus sounds perfectly reasonable.

Really. A story about moral struggle is awesome. A spell that removes that struggle trivially is not.
PCs can already change their alignments as they wish. The only beings who can't (PHB 122 are celestials and fiends). I take it as a given the primary purpose of the first-level spell isn't to help convert fiends, or to torture angels. So either it's dealing with magical effects, or it's adding rules to remove player choice for alignment change.

It's going to depend on the campaign and DM. I once had a LG paladin slay innocents (she thought they were monsters, long story) that lost her paladin-hood. The ritual would have been perfect, but in my campaign absolution would only be granted if the gods deem the target worthy.

As I said before, it's a 1st level ritual so it's more flavor than anything.
 

MarkB

Legend
See? That sounds awesome. What isn't awesome is turning marriage into a week-long +2 AC bonus.
Really. A story about moral struggle is awesome. A spell that removes that struggle trivially is not.
PCs can already change their alignments as they wish. The only beings who can't (PHB 122 are celestials and fiends). I take it as a given the primary purpose of the first-level spell isn't to help convert fiends, or to torture angels. So either it's dealing with magical effects, or it's adding rules to remove player choice for alignment change.

Or it's adding an additional RP tool for a player who feels like their character would need an extra push in order to achieve such a change of heart.
 

Valmarius

First Post
They talked about Xanathar's spells in one of the D&D Beyond Videos and it was mentioned that some of the options in there are geared more towards NPC use.
I think Ceremony is definitely one of those spells. It's not necessarily going to be chosen by many PCs, but it makes sense that a local priest (1st level cleric?) could bestow some kind of holy blessing.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I'm really not certain about that Adamantium weapon upgrade. Siege is only kind of useful in some circumstances, and for some reason I just expected adamantium weapons to do more than that.

I kind of liked the interactions with skills and tools, but more so I liked the listing of what is in a tool kit (super useful) and some of the suggestions for tool use, like cobblers increasing travel time or cooks giving bonuses to short rest recovery, Lots of potentially useful stuff in there once I can parse it all.
 

1. Samurai’s Fighting Spirit grants temporary hit points. You can also give yourself advantage “until the end of the current turn” (XG 31). Do the temporary hit points disappear then too? “Unless the feature has a duration, they last until they’re depleted or you finish a long rest” (PHB 198). Well, the feature does, so the temp HPs disappear at the end of the current turn – before the enemy attacks. This doesn’t seem right (and may need errata?).
I too interpret the description to mean that the temp hit points last longer than end-of-turn (i.e. until next long rest by default).


3. Paladin’s Oath of Redemption (XG 38-39). No longer has the Armor of Peace or the Warrior of Reconciliation features. Does this mean Redemption paladins are still carrying greatswords and wearing heavy armor? Doesn’t this undercut the concept? (It certainly seems at odds with the illustration provided).
I don't personally see how. A paladin is still specifically a trained warrior; presumably force of arms is to be used after other forms of dissuasion prove ineffective. A greatsword serves that role just fine - while heavy armor is more a matter of personal protection.

4. Scout Rogue’s Survivalist feature (XG 47) gives proficiency and expertise with Nature and Survival. It’s not called expertise here (for reasons that aren’t clear), but the effect is the same and it doesn’t stack (XG 5). Not stacking is explicit on the Prodigy feat (XG 75), but this isn’t an exception. Apparently there is no benefit if you have already chosen Expertise in either or both of these skills (unless you work something out with your DM).
Fortunately you can choose which skills to take Expertise in before you reach that point. See: Bounded accuracy

5. Sleeping in Medium and Heavy armor now gives limited benefits from a long rest (XG 77-78). Many will just ignore this, but it’s a reasonable ruling.
I personally give levels of exhaustion for sleeping in medium/heavy armor. But YMMV.

7. Tying Knots (XG 78). While I would prefer proficiency in ropes as a tool, we now know that knot-tying and untying is formally part of Slight-of-hand, a skill I have hitherto not been interested in.
Yeah...doesn't QUITE strike me as being in keeping with my conception of "sleight of hand" either. But I think it's generally better to have more expansive/versatile skills, at least for the less commonly used types.

8. Interaction of skills and tools (XG 78). I’ve been troubled by the overlap before, and now we have rules that say when two overlap, it gives advantage. This makes obvious sense in a few cases (Herbalism with Medicine), but it feels a little bit like a tax – proficiency in Thieves’ Tools helping with Investigation or Perception to spot a trap, for example. It also means that a capella singing can’t ever gain the advantage available to accordion players (Musical instruments with Performance). I’m still thinking about this.
I don't have much of a problem with the overlap to begin with - the typical character gets a strictly limited number of proficiencies.

9. Tool descriptions (XG 78-85) and Common Magic Items (XG 136-40) are pretty cool.
Wholehearted agreement.

10. Ceremony spell (XG 151): Ugh. I hated the UA version of this, and it’s still bad:
Fortunately you're free not to use it. And even a cleric who doesn't hate it is free to swap it out each day when they receive spells.

a. Atonement: how can one be willing about alignment change? Alignment isn’t fixed unless it’s a magical effect, and there are no restrictions on classes and alignment. If it’s to counteract a magical effect, the player may be willing, but the character by definition isn’t. Unless this is now the only way that a character can change alignment, in which case we can convert savages and CE goblins can be made NG. In which case it’s awesome.
I've heard that the whole repentance thing is a staple of some religions...

b. Coming of Age and Dedication can only give their benefits to a creature once (ever). Who wants to track this nonsense? Do high-level characters save this until just before they bight the Ancient Red Dragon, and suddenly decide to get confirmed before the fight?
The spell seems designed more for the typical commoner, who I doubt will be fighting many dragons.

c. Wedding. That is, unless they get married to each other. In a world with Raise Dead spells, the “to death do us part” nonsense implicit in the now-undefined term of “widowed” (in addition to being completely out of step with the 20th century, let alone the 21st) suggests that divorces typically involve fights to the death, so that characters are free to re-marry. And the benefit is to help Armor Class? Yep, that’s why I got married. So my wife and I could do better on the tag-team gladiator pits for the first half of our honeymoon.
I've known couples that need protection... from each other. The whole married before one spouse goes off to war (and dies) is a bit of a fiction staple.

11. Find Greater Steed (XG 156) is now a top pick for Bard’s Magical Secrets at level 10. Who needs a familiar when you can ride a rhinoceros?
Is a familiar really what your spell choice would otherwise have been? Hey, I'm not judging (much).

13. Finally, a point about what’s not there: the absence of Booming Blade and Greenflame blade from the spell lists seems deliberate. I know they are powerful (possibly over-powerful) and popular spells. For those who are concerned about the PHB+1 rule, this seems a good way to curb their use.
Or otherwise still have incentive to purchase/use SCAG.
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
I too interpret the description to mean that the temp hit points last longer than end-of-turn (i.e. until next long rest by default).
I agree that's probably what's intended, but the PHB sentence seems pretty clear.
Fortunately you can choose which skills to take Expertise in before you reach that point.
For the most part, the game is good at letting characters evolve naturally. This works against that. I'm not complaining about the non-additive nature, but for classes where you choose your subclass after first level, it is unusual for a decision to render a subclass benefit so weak. As I said, people will have to talk to their DM.

I've heard that the whole repentance thing is a staple of some religions...
Yup, and in the ones I'm thinking of that's a choice of the individual, not something the religious figure does to you if you are willing. And the effects last longer than a day. And you don't get better at juggling noticing things as a result.

As i said, if this is a backdoor way to introduce conversion of evil races, fine (well, not fine, but comprehensible). But I don't think that's what is meant.

I've known couples that need protection... from each other. The whole married before one spouse goes off to war (and dies) is a bit of a fiction staple.
Yup, and if the spell offered anything related to that, I'd buy it. But it doesn't. I guess people could start throwing rocks at the spouse left behind in order to find out if the war bound one has died at any time in the first week. Once the rocks start hitting more often, you know the spouse has been killed.

There's no need for the spell. The PHB says that acolytes can "perform sacred rites" and that's distinguished from being a cleric. This spell changes that, and in the process creates ridiculous situations.

I'm surprised this is the observation that's getting traction.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I could be wrong, but the scout feature doesn’t present a conflict, RAW.

That is, when you gain proficiency in something that you already have proficiency in, you can instead pick up a proficiency of the same type. I believe it’s in the phb.

Not sure if it goes for doubles prof bonus, as well (expertise is a class feature, not a generic rules term for adding double your prof bonus to something. Ie, the expertise class feature for rogues and Bards allows you to double prof bonus).

If it doesn’t, just don’t take expertise in those skills. Then, you gain dbl proficiency in them at level 3, and pick up two new skills because you already have nature and survival proficiency.
 

Yup, and in the ones I'm thinking of that's a choice of the individual, not something the religious figure does to you if you are willing. And the effects last longer than a day. And you don't get better at juggling noticing things as a result.

As i said, if this is a backdoor way to introduce conversion of evil races, fine (well, not fine, but comprehensible). But I don't think that's what is meant.
I'm thinking more along the lines of this actually (Catholic rite). There's actually a whole host of religious and folklore-based examples of rituals or other things (such as this) that can remove sin/wrongdoing and a fair few require a holy figure who knows or has been empowered to conduct the rites.
 




Li Shenron

Legend
4. Scout Rogue’s Survivalist feature (XG 47) gives proficiency and expertise with Nature and Survival. It’s not called expertise here (for reasons that aren’t clear), but the effect is the same and it doesn’t stack (XG 5). Not stacking is explicit on the Prodigy feat (XG 75), but this isn’t an exception. Apparently there is no benefit if you have already chosen Expertise in either or both of these skills (unless you work something out with your DM).

Is this a 3rd level feature? I suppose it is, in which case it's not a huge deal. Just tell the player not to pick Nature or Survival proficiencies at 1st level, or at least not to pick Expertise, since she'll get it anyway a couple of levels later. Alternatively, the DM can allow swapping expertise to another skill but that's a house rule. OTOH, if this is a 9th (or more) level feature then it's an issue... you can't really ask a Scout player to wait so long without those defining skills.

I also wonder why not just call this Expertise, if after all it's not supposed to stack with it. They did the same thing with the Ranger class feature. If it works like Expertise, and doesn't stack with it, why not just give it the same name? This is not like Advantage with activates other special abilities (so it makes sense to have some features which allow 2 rolls-pick-the-highest without them being the same as advantage), IIRC there is no feature in the game which activates only if you have expertise, but I may be wrong. Thus, not calling these features Expertise just complicates bookkeeping...

5. Sleeping in Medium and Heavy armor now gives limited benefits from a long rest (XG 77-78). Many will just ignore this, but it’s a reasonable ruling.

I wonder how many people actually asked for this... it sounds like that kind of stuff that is almost never needed, and yet many might want it written in an official book anyway. Whatever... at least it clarifies that the DM should basically force everyone to start without armor when the party is ambushed during sleep unless someone specifically chooses to sleep in armor and take the penalties.

7. Tying Knots (XG 78). While I would prefer proficiency in ropes as a tool, we now know that knot-tying and untying is formally part of Slight-of-hand, a skill I have hitherto not been interested in.

Actually this sounds like a good idea to me. Sleight-of-hand sounds appropriate, and I like the idea of adding new uses for skills that are narrower than average.

8. Interaction of skills and tools (XG 78). I’ve been troubled by the overlap before, and now we have rules that say when two overlap, it gives advantage. This makes obvious sense in a few cases (Herbalism with Medicine), but it feels a little bit like a tax – proficiency in Thieves’ Tools helping with Investigation or Perception to spot a trap, for example. It also means that a capella singing can’t ever gain the advantage available to accordion players (Musical instruments with Performance). I’m still thinking about this.

This sounds very interesting... does this apply only to skill+tool or also to skill+skill? I would prefer the former, because it increases the value of tools proficiencies relative to the value of skills.

Anyway I suppose that there were 3 options here: no effect, advantage, expertise. I think advantage catches a nice middle ground in terms of benefits to the actual check, although it may also activate special abilities that require advantage. I am generally not so fond of getting advantage easily, but for skills it's not nearly as a big deal as with attacks.

10. Ceremony spell (XG 151): Ugh. I hated the UA version of this, and it’s still bad:

a. Atonement: how can one be willing about alignment change? Alignment isn’t fixed unless it’s a magical effect, and there are no restrictions on classes and alignment. If it’s to counteract a magical effect, the player may be willing, but the character by definition isn’t. Unless this is now the only way that a character can change alignment, in which case we can convert savages and CE goblins can be made NG. In which case it’s awesome.

Ceremony got the lowest possible vote for me in the feedback. As usual, I am a special snowflake...

Anyway the Atonement effect basically brings back the old Atonement spell (but down to 1st level!). This campaign-dependent, considering that many groups nowadays don't even use alignments, but yet this is IMO actually THE main effect of this spell, compared to the other uses. If you don't use alignments, you can pretty much ignore this spell for the whole campaign, unless something very specific comes up.

If the wording hasn't changed from UA, it should work also in the case when alignment is changed magically. I think it's very much open to debate whether a PC is "willing" or not. I would not take it for granted that someone "evil" is happy to be like that, there's a lot of people who don't like what they are and would like to change... Let's also keep in mind that this doesn't actually change someone's alignment but only reverts it back to what is presumably a fairly stable value.

b. Coming of Age and Dedication can only give their benefits to a creature once (ever). Who wants to track this nonsense? Do high-level characters save this until just before they bight the Ancient Red Dragon, and suddenly decide to get confirmed before the fight?

c. Wedding. That is, unless they get married to each other. In a world with Raise Dead spells, the “to death do us part” nonsense implicit in the now-undefined term of “widowed” (in addition to being completely out of step with the 20th century, let alone the 21st) suggests that divorces typically involve fights to the death, so that characters are free to re-marry. And the benefit is to help Armor Class? Yep, that’s why I got married. So my wife and I could do better on the tag-team gladiator pits for the first half of our honeymoon.

They are pretty stupid effects. Apparently someone at WotC got amused by the idea. It made it into XGE only because the time between UA and XGE was short, and it got reviewed/feedbacked only once. IMO it's similar to other fancy controversial ideas like the "intoxicated" condition that amused the designers (or their bosses), then becamse stale and boring, and was ultimately discarded. Same would have happened here if only there had been a longer time window before publication.

I can see that it might be used in a very well played and run campaign where some of the PCs go through these life events, but honestly there was absolutely no need for mechanical benefits, and also for a spell that could have been just a narrated non-magical ceremony.

13. Finally, a point about what’s not there: the absence of Booming Blade and Greenflame blade from the spell lists seems deliberate. I know they are powerful (possibly over-powerful) and popular spells. For those who are concerned about the PHB+1 rule, this seems a good way to curb their use.

Honestly I am happy with that, from what I've heard those cantrips give too much melee strength. They also have dorky cartoonish names for my tastes :)
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
I could be wrong, but the scout feature doesn’t present a conflict, RAW.

That is, when you gain proficiency in something that you already have proficiency in, you can instead pick up a proficiency of the same type. I believe it’s in the phb.
I think, RAW, it does. The passage you refer to is speaking specifically about Backgrounds at character gen. (PHB 125).
Not sure if it goes for doubles prof bonus, as well (expertise is a class feature, not a generic rules term for adding double your prof bonus to something. Ie, the expertise class feature for rogues and Bards allows you to double prof bonus).
You don't get to add double proficiency ever (XG 5).
There are a small class of abilities that you only get if you don't have them already: a light cleric learns the light cantrip "if you don't already know it", e.g., which they might if they have MC/d in from another class. In that case, RAW, no additional cantrip.

Monk Shadow Arts is another, Necromancer Undead Thralls, Transmuter Shapechanger, now this.

And if you think this is just me with a weird reading, compare the Illusionist's Improved Minor Illusion, which says "If you already know this cantrip, you learn a different one." That's why it seems deliberate in the other cases.

If it doesn’t, just don’t take expertise in those skills. Then, you gain dbl proficiency in them at level 3, and pick up two new skills because you already have nature and survival proficiency.
Yup, that's the solution, or talk to the DM and ask (reasonably) to sub in something else.
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
This sounds very interesting... does this apply only to skill+tool or also to skill+skill? I would prefer the former, because it increases the value of tools proficiencies relative to the value of skills.
Skill+tool. It's a very useful section.
Ceremony got the lowest possible vote for me in the feedback. As usual, I am a special snowflake...
And I am with you in the blizzard.
 

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