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UA Unearthed Arcana Explores Downtime Activities

This is EXACTLY what I wanted and EXACTLY what the game needed.

Then there's this: "For more information, see “Brewing Potions of Healing” in this section on crafting and “Scribing a Spell Scroll” on page Error! Bookmark not defined." (p. 7) :erm:
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The complications tables are a bit crappy. Too many are "this thing already happened", when the thing in question is something you would have had to actively participate in. The gambling complications table has "you get a debt that can't be paid in cash", even if you are successful and make money! The carousing table has you agree to do all kinds of stupid things, because apparently attempting to make new contacts inevitably includes getting so blind drunk you sign random contracts and give away 500gp at a time.
Then you should stay away from Warhammer Quest! :cool:

The entire experience (outside the dungeon) is boiled down to a couple of random rolls to tell where your hero ends up after a night of carousing :)
 

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Osgood

Explorer
I see the selling section as more of what the initial offer is, than what it's total value will be. But that isn't codified here, so I understand your concern. Nobody goes into a purchase at max offer.

Buying a Ring of three Wishes is ~175,000gp with a minimum of 50,000 and a maximum of 300,000. IF you can find it (very difficult without direct GM assistance).
Crafting one costs 50,000gp (it is a consumable) and the max offer is 37,500gp.

Personally I see this as fine... But I would be tempted to use the Buy magic item price table and replace 50% 100% 150% with, base, 50% rolled, 100% rolled for offers.

WotC are making it this way to stop people from looking at magic item sales as gaining easy cash or making magic items commonplace, as the system isn't built for it.
Selling is more there to give some extra gold to people who have things they don't want.

I get that and I agree with the ideas, I just see the inconsistency in numbers as problematic. I'd rather see a fixed value for the items, and the buying, selling, and crafting working off of percentages of that number.
 

The complications tables are a bit crappy. Too many are "this thing already happened", when the thing in question is something you would have had to actively participate in. The gambling complications table has "you get a debt that can't be paid in cash", even if you are successful and make money! The carousing table has you agree to do all kinds of stupid things, because apparently attempting to make new contacts inevitably includes getting so blind drunk you sign random contracts and give away 500gp at a time.

You lost a lot of money then had to get a loan in order to get in on a sure thing.

The sure thing paid of, but now you owe the person that you got the money from, and cash is it going to cut it.

I love these rules. I love that they can be inserted at the end of the session or during the week in preparation for the next session. As a DM I can simply say: 'fellas there is gonna be another 10 weeks between now and the next adventure. Have a think about what you want to do in your downtime and it back to me before the next session.'

My campaigns player characters won't go from 1st to 20th level in about three months of gametime now.

I haven't done the maths on the magic item selling and creation stuff so nfi how balanced it is. I'd really like the skill of the crafter to be factored in as well with a possible reduction in time depending on the outcome of a skill check.
 


Paul3

Explorer
As someone who is a little bored with class options, I was very excited to see this type of article. I would still love to see things like a Map of the Month or an NPC of the Month or something along those lines (yes, I know the Dragon App has done some maps). I kind of knew the number crunchers were going to nitpick it, but many casual players out there (like me) who are getting back into the game find these kinds of articles fun and useful, even if every detail isn't gospel.
 

Osgood

Explorer
I think adding an option for a character's background to have greater influence on the outcome would be a good idea. Criminals and Charlatans might get advantage on one check during Crime, a Sage and perhaps Hermit gets the same on Research, etc. Or maybe a slightly lower chance of a complication (perhaps with another background granting a slightly higher chance of a complication).
 

Paul3

Explorer
I think adding an option for a character's background to have greater influence on the outcome would be a good idea. Criminals and Charlatans might get advantage on one check during Crime, a Sage and perhaps Hermit gets the same on Research, etc. Or maybe a slightly lower chance of a complication (perhaps with another background granting a slightly higher chance of a complication).

I think that is the entire point of the Advantage/Disadvantage system. That is always DM discretion. If my players can justify something via good roleplaying...whether it be their background or a personality trait or whatever, then I figure I should reward them as such.
 

For all of you stating that the tables take away player agency, or say "my character wouldn't do that!" or whatever. This article is for those who don't want to roleplay their downtime activities.

If the DM and players want to roleplay a night out drinking, stealing, or anything else; then that's not a downtime activity. That's a gaming session.
 

Clearly, with some of these complaints (no offense, people) they are going to need to explicitly point out that the three skill checks are DM guidelines and any three that make sense to the DM will do.

(Same goes for the little charts. Guidelines. Roll, pick from, or make up something *along these lines*)

I'm not saying it wouldn't be nice for the real rules to have more examples. It absolutely would be a good idea. But these are good for our purposes here.

That doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't be critical of the options presented, either. "These are just examples" isn't an excuse for awkward or confusing rules. It's worse because many tables won't alter what's there because they'll assume what WotC has presented is an intentional design. DMs and players aren't game designers and do not always think like game designers. DMs and players are used to following slightly arbitrary rules. After all, how many times have we heard said, "Well, it doesn't really make sense, but go ahead and roll anyway...." Some players and DMs ask Mearls and Crawford questions on Twitter and then do exactly as they respond even if they find the results nonsensical if they think about them. That's how people who don't have 20+ years experience play the game. We should be criticizing rules for them as much as for ourselves. Furthermore... I appreciate having frameworks, but I also often just want to be given the rules to use that will cover 90% of situations. I don't want to stop my game to complete or alter a design unless I really have to. Just give me something that works and is consistent.. and, IMO, some of these aren't. When I'm buying a game for rules, it's finished rules that I want when I'm actually playing.

Yes, we know that UA material is playtest material. That doesn't mean we should keep the gloves on with our criticism because it's "only" playtest material. Be honest and straightforward with your evaluations and criticisms regardless of how you use the material at your table because that's the only way to get material to improve before it finds its way into a hardcover somewhere (where some DM might inflict a poorly written and tested rule on you without modification). Given that this is the last of the weekly UAs, it's likely that this is a cutoff point for the crunch/rules book WotC is looking to publish this year, so I'd expect this to make an appearance in that book.
 

So I've been looking some more into these "complications" and while yes, I understand DMs can create their own or mix and match or what have you.... some of these are just strange choices.

For example, look at the chart for Buying a Magic Item. Now, I understand there is only a 10% chance of Complications, but if they do occur fully half of the options are that you don't get an item you can use (Item is fake, Item is Stolen, Seller was Killed, Seller is a Devil [sell your soul for that amulet of protection?]. Item is cursed by a God [so sorry about that Decanter of Endless water that gives you fatigue], Item is actually an enslaved intelligent entity [so paladin, want to free the soul trapped in that ring of spell storing?])

Some of the others are also kind of jerky. Oh, you wanted to buy that Bag of Holding with your last 100 gold, well someone else offered 190, can you out bide him? You know, that +1 sword is the only key to Tharizdun's tomb, so this cult is after it and if they get it they can destroy the world. Funny coincidence huh?

It just seems to discourage trying, it's long, expensive, and equally likely to get you nothing or more trouble. Simply wait to find magic items during the course of the campaign (cause if your DM isn;t going to be doing that, they aren't going to let you buy them either)


So instead of buying the item, let's make one. Like say, a cleric wants to make a blessed mace. Then we roll complications and it turns out people think you are making blood sacrifices. As a cleric that means you are committing heresy, congrats, you now get excommunicated from the church for committing high crimes and are probably going to be executed. Or some random dwarf clan that you've never heard of, hears you are making something and decide that you stole that knowledge from them...


You know what, if you're going to be accused of terrible things, might as well do them anyways. Commit a crime, steal a bunch of stuff. Complication? You ruined the guy you stole from... okay... and? If I cared about other people's feelings or situation I wouldn't be a thief stealing from random people for no other reason than I want money. Moral thieves don't do that, and if I ruin someone who deserves it... then I did an even better job than I thought, go me!

Or you anger someone powerful and derail the plot as a paladin or thief lord is now looking for you. In fact, a lot of these end up with people wanting you dead. When the party wonders why the fighter was stabbed to death by assassins... it's because he got into a pit fight and got some noble angry at him for being better than the noble's man. Cleric dragged to the gallows, guess he should be more careful what he says in Church, since Blasphemy is against the very nature of the Gods.

It goes on.

Most of these complications are either entirely out of character (why would my wizard care if someone else wants to watch him work?) or will become the focus of the game and distract from the main story (we discover the bishop of the sun church is a demon worshipper, that is probably something we should deal with instead of going on that caravan trip to track down that thief who stole our treasure map. Otherwise, he'll get us branded as heretics and we may come back after he's opened a Hellmouth beneath the temple and summoned the dead to devour the living.) I'm all for messing with the player's and introducing plot hooks, but eventually if this sort of thing happens enough the players are going to decide not to bother with any of this stuff. It's expensive, takes a long time, and generally hurts them more than it was worth in the first place.

The players are better off just telling me what they want to do and me just deciding the results of that instead of having these tables.
 

lkj

Adventurer
So I've been looking some more into these "complications" and while yes, I understand DMs can create their own or mix and match or what have you.... some of these are just strange choices.

For example, look at the chart for Buying a Magic Item. Now, I understand there is only a 10% chance of Complications, but if they do occur fully half of the options are that you don't get an item you can use (Item is fake, Item is Stolen, Seller was Killed, Seller is a Devil [sell your soul for that amulet of protection?]. Item is cursed by a God [so sorry about that Decanter of Endless water that gives you fatigue], Item is actually an enslaved intelligent entity [so paladin, want to free the soul trapped in that ring of spell storing?])

Some of the others are also kind of jerky. Oh, you wanted to buy that Bag of Holding with your last 100 gold, well someone else offered 190, can you out bide him? You know, that +1 sword is the only key to Tharizdun's tomb, so this cult is after it and if they get it they can destroy the world. Funny coincidence huh?

It just seems to discourage trying, it's long, expensive, and equally likely to get you nothing or more trouble. Simply wait to find magic items during the course of the campaign (cause if your DM isn;t going to be doing that, they aren't going to let you buy them either)


So instead of buying the item, let's make one. Like say, a cleric wants to make a blessed mace. Then we roll complications and it turns out people think you are making blood sacrifices. As a cleric that means you are committing heresy, congrats, you now get excommunicated from the church for committing high crimes and are probably going to be executed. Or some random dwarf clan that you've never heard of, hears you are making something and decide that you stole that knowledge from them...


You know what, if you're going to be accused of terrible things, might as well do them anyways. Commit a crime, steal a bunch of stuff. Complication? You ruined the guy you stole from... okay... and? If I cared about other people's feelings or situation I wouldn't be a thief stealing from random people for no other reason than I want money. Moral thieves don't do that, and if I ruin someone who deserves it... then I did an even better job than I thought, go me!

Or you anger someone powerful and derail the plot as a paladin or thief lord is now looking for you. In fact, a lot of these end up with people wanting you dead. When the party wonders why the fighter was stabbed to death by assassins... it's because he got into a pit fight and got some noble angry at him for being better than the noble's man. Cleric dragged to the gallows, guess he should be more careful what he says in Church, since Blasphemy is against the very nature of the Gods.

It goes on.

Most of these complications are either entirely out of character (why would my wizard care if someone else wants to watch him work?) or will become the focus of the game and distract from the main story (we discover the bishop of the sun church is a demon worshipper, that is probably something we should deal with instead of going on that caravan trip to track down that thief who stole our treasure map. Otherwise, he'll get us branded as heretics and we may come back after he's opened a Hellmouth beneath the temple and summoned the dead to devour the living.) I'm all for messing with the player's and introducing plot hooks, but eventually if this sort of thing happens enough the players are going to decide not to bother with any of this stuff. It's expensive, takes a long time, and generally hurts them more than it was worth in the first place.

The players are better off just telling me what they want to do and me just deciding the results of that instead of having these tables.

So it strikes me that complications are supposed to be used as a way to allow the downtime system to generate fun challenges for the party that makes the world feel more dynamic and that gives more meaning to your 'off work' activities. Otherwise, it could devolve into a bookkeeping system. Which is fine. But less fun. For example, someone killing the buyer for your magic item shouldn't be a random roll to screw you over. It should be a potential plot hook. Much the same with an item turning out to be a trapped soul. I kind of see it being a system where about 10% of the time something interesting happens. DM's job is to make sure the players have fun with it too. It builds in a system for adding fun twists.

The problem with any list of complications is that you only know which ones are fun (and which would be silly or irrelevant) in the context of a given campaign. If those complications listed in the UA are interpreted simply as 'inspiring examples to be adapted to your game' then I think it works. And I think that's what's intended. You wouldn't use a result that was nonsensical. And, if you get 'someone bids higher than you', the outcome should not be, 'oh well, you have to pay more'. It should be, 'An anonymous buyer offers more. But there are only three people it could be. Someone is clearly trying to screw you over . . ." which leads to an investigation and maybe a fun in game encounter.

In other words, I think they are great, if used as--I think-- they are intended.

AD
 

Mercule

Adventurer
I almost skipped this one as being silly, but skimmed it, anyway. Skimming got me interested, so I read (most of) it. I like it.

The buying/selling/creating of items is actually really useful. I like that the odd material requirements are left to DMO, but still explicitly there. If the DM decides that, say, in Eberron you can get a +1 sword without much hassle, but that flame tongue requires a quest, it works. The same DM could decide that, in his Greyhawk game, even the +1 sword requires some materials. The system still holds up and (IMO) is more usable than the 3E rules were. I'd like to see a bit more concrete pricing, but not a big deal; there are folks who've put those together.

Yes, some complications are silly, but that's something that can be fixed. Either expand/fluff before final publication (these are playtest, remember), or with minimal DM effort. Ideally, a revision happens that makes better base complications, with a mix between things that just raise the difficulty/expense/other cost, seeds for one-off encounters, and launching points for full-on adventures.
 

tardigrade

First Post
I might be missing something, but are there any limits on which *class* can craft magic items? I was actually looking to find out if warlocks are included (since 'pact magic' class feature ~= 'spellcasting' class feature) but as far as I can see it doesn't list *any* class restrictions; the only requirements are tool proficiency and arcana proficiency. And nowhere in the description does it say spells need to be cast during the crafting process.

It does mention 'spellcaster' for scroll-scribing (so by my reading this would exclude warlocks - thoughts on this welcome; I'm still a bit new to 5e).
 


That doesn't mean we can't or shouldn't be critical of the options presented, either. "These are just examples" isn't an excuse for awkward or confusing rules. It's worse because many tables won't alter what's there because they'll assume what WotC has presented is an intentional design. DMs and players aren't game designers and do not always think like game designers. DMs and players are used to following slightly arbitrary rules. After all, how many times have we heard said, "Well, it doesn't really make sense, but go ahead and roll anyway...." Some players and DMs ask Mearls and Crawford questions on Twitter and then do exactly as they respond even if they find the results nonsensical if they think about them. That's how people who don't have 20+ years experience play the game. We should be criticizing rules for them as much as for ourselves. Furthermore... I appreciate having frameworks, but I also often just want to be given the rules to use that will cover 90% of situations. I don't want to stop my game to complete or alter a design unless I really have to. Just give me something that works and is consistent.. and, IMO, some of these aren't. When I'm buying a game for rules, it's finished rules that I want when I'm actually playing.

Yes, we know that UA material is playtest material. That doesn't mean we should keep the gloves on with our criticism because it's "only" playtest material. Be honest and straightforward with your evaluations and criticisms regardless of how you use the material at your table because that's the only way to get material to improve before it finds its way into a hardcover somewhere (where some DM might inflict a poorly written and tested rule on you without modification). Given that this is the last of the weekly UAs, it's likely that this is a cutoff point for the crunch/rules book WotC is looking to publish this year, so I'd expect this to make an appearance in that book.

I absolutely agree with you. I was not suggesting people shouldn't be critical of a UA. That's what they are FOR.

These rules are nice and all, but the charts need to have a very good range of examples (and explicitly point out "or another, similar, thing").
If you can't use 90% of the chart, and have to come up with your own, what good are they?
 

I might be missing something, but are there any limits on which *class* can craft magic items? I was actually looking to find out if warlocks are included (since 'pact magic' class feature ~= 'spellcasting' class feature) but as far as I can see it doesn't list *any* class restrictions; the only requirements are tool proficiency and arcana proficiency. And nowhere in the description does it say spells need to be cast during the crafting process.

The requirements for Craft a Magic Item are relevant tool proficiency or Arcana proficiency (you do not need both), plus a formula (which the rules do not detail how to acquire in any way), plus a rare ingredient (which it's very vague about how to acquire and makes it sound like this should be a short adventure and not downtime), plus a fair bit of money, plus a ton of time which can possibly be mitigated with help. A Champion is now perfectly capable of crafting his own set of magic armor and magic sword, provided he is proficient in smith's tools. And, if he isn't, he can spend 10 weeks learning smith's tools with Training! Finally, Bruenor Battlehammer can actually craft his masterpiece Dwarven Thrower.

The requirements for Scribe a Scroll are: having the spell prepared or knowing the spell, proficiency in Arcana, a moderate amount of time, and a surprisingly large amount of money. A Warlock can satisfy these requirements pretty easily.

The requirements for Brew a Healing Potion are: proficiency with the herbalism kit, a modest amount of time, and a surprisingly large amount of money. It's not clear if you need a formula here or not, since this is a subset of Craft a Magic Item.
 

DerekSTheRed

Explorer
I would like some downtime activities for ruling a domain or a church or a thieves' guild.

The 7/5 days in a week/work week doesn't totally work with the calendars in their fantasy setting. Forgotten Realms uses a tenday week and other settings use 8. Why not just keep using days?
 

Antonlowe

First Post
Looking at pit fighting....

I am going to change it to be three level checks (1d20 + Level). With each DC determined by roll 1d10 + 10.
 

Saeviomagy

Adventurer
Then you should stay away from Warhammer Quest! :cool:

The entire experience (outside the dungeon) is boiled down to a couple of random rolls to tell where your hero ends up after a night of carousing :)

Right.. but warhammer quest doesn't have any non-dungeon stats or skills. Everything is a set-up for the boardgame dungeon crawl. Your character literally consists of 8 combat stats and their combat gear.

D&D has more than that, and these rules even make use of those extra abilities, but then arbitrarily tell you that you're captured, or have to get drunk to meet new people, or you lose that magic item that you've already successfully rolled for. And, as others have pointed out, the consequences are things that you then have to come OUT of downtime to resolve.

If this were 'more tables for warhammer quest', I wouldn't be objecting. But it's not: it's tables for a game that's substantially more complicated and long term.

I guess you can help things if you change all the complications that just flat-out make your character do something dumb or against character into "you can gain a bonus if you choose to do the thing". Gambling? Gain a success IF you choose to owe someone a favor. Carousing? Gain a contact IF you do something that gets you banned from a bar/streak naked/do something embarrassing that you won't be able to remember. Robbery? Roll the complications ahead of time for each job level and reduce the DC by some amount. Research? You can gain an extra fact IF you deface this book/decapitate a chicken in the library etc.

Just noticed that research takes 100gp per week. That's 10 days of living as an aristocrat, with the best food and wine and servants etc. And that 100gp? Doesn't even assure you get access to a good library.

Looked at "selling a magic item". Costs you 100gp over a week (remember - that's 10 days of living finely with servants to handle everything for you!) to find a buyer for an item that might sell for 75gp, and at the same time, it also costs the buyer 100gp to find you. Just as well, I guess, because otherwise you could buy common magic items for 20gp and sell them for a minimum of 25gp. Oddly enough, once you get to rare and powerful stuff, suddenly the best possible price you can sell them for is 75% of the lowest price you can buy them for, but 5-10% is a more typical price to get.

So apparently it's really, really hard to get the word out that you have a magic item for sale, or that you want to buy a magic item, and you're always operating through a middle man who's taking a humongous cut. Well, unless you start crafting one, in which case suddenly rumors are rife everywhere and everyone comes directly to you.

This stuff requires so much rewriting it's essentially useless.
 

Hussar

Legend
Heh. I noticed that brewing a healing potion takes 1 day and 25 gp.

If giving a spell that creates a healing potion to wizards was a bad thing, now EVERYONE can do it. All you need is proficiency in herbalism.

Go go healing wands.
 

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