Xanathar's Guide to Everything -- an AL overview

Pauper

That guy, who does that thing.
With the release of Xanathar's Guide to Everything to WotC Premiere stores last week, as well as the pre-release availability of the book at GameHole Con, the AL admins have published their guidance for use of Xanathar's Guide in AL games.

The guidance is succinct and to-the-point, but I thought I'd expand on a few points for the benefit of those who would like additional clarification on some elements from XGtE as it relates to AL. Note that, as I am not an admin, this guidance is not binding on AL DMs unless approved or repeated by an AL admin or WotC employee with AL authority.

The Core Rules

Exceptions Supercede General Rules: This is a longer explanation of the now-traditional 'specific beats general' ruling that's existed since Living Forgotten Realms play. Note, though, that the explanation of 'specific beats general' only refers to exceptions trumping general rules -- they do not cover the situation where two exceptions effectively contradict one another, such as when a class feature says to do one thing but a monster's special ability says to do something else. In this case, default to the rule on p.2 of the DDAL FAQ: "Run the game according to those rules [in the official materials], but you are the final arbiter of any ambiguities that might arise in doing so."

Advantage and Disadvantage: This should be old hat to an AL DM by now, but one thing to make explicit -- the rule says that when a character has both advantage and disadvantage on the same roll, those effects "cancel". This means that any game effect that looks for a character having advantage or having disadvantage will not apply to that roll or to the effects of that roll. So a rogue with both advantage and disadvantage on an attack roll does not get to apply Sneak Attack for having advantage on the attack roll (since the advantage was cancelled by disadvantage), but a Swashbuckler rogue might still be able to apply Sneak Attack if he qualifies for the special condition under the Rakish Audacity ability, since the character also is not considered to have disadvantage on the attack roll (since the disadvantage was cancelled by advantage).

Proficiency Bonus: While this rule seems straightforward enough, the trick here is the interaction between this rule and the 'Exceptions Supersede General Rules' and 'Combining Different Effects' rules earlier -- to be an exception to the general rule about only applying a proficiency bonus once to a roll, or only doubling or halving a proficiency bonus once to a roll, the ability in question must explicitly say that it allows adding proficiency or doubling proficiency more than once. Simply providing the ability to add or double proficiency is not sufficient to supersede the general rules listed above. So, for example, a bard/rogue cannot add double the bonus through the Expertise features of each class, since that is an example of two effects with the same proper name (under Combining Different Effects) and the Expertise rule does not say that it is an exception to the general rule on Combining Different Effects. Likewise, a bard/scout does not gain the benefit of Survivalist for either Nature or Survival if that skill has already been selected as a skill in which the character has Expertise, since neither Survivalist nor Expertise say that it is an exception to the general rule here on doubling proficiency bonuses.

Character Options

Barbarian -- Path of the Zealot -- Warrior of the Gods: Since spellcasters do not need to provide material components to cast raise dead on this character, the character pays only 750gp (1250gp minus the 500gp material component) to receive raise dead as a spellcasting service. Likewise, the character pays only 2000gp for resurrection or 25,000gp for true resurrection as a spellcasting service. Note that this ability does not reduce the downtime cost of either resurrection or true resurrection as a spellcasting service.

Cleric -- New Domains -- the XGE Guidance document says to refer to the appropriate deity lists for which deities are Faerunian deities and are thus valid options for characters to choose during character creation. (Note, though, that this rule isn't in the FAQ, but on p.3 of the DDAL Player's Guide.) As of the time of this writing, those options are as follows:

Forge domain -- Gond (PH, p.234), Moradin (PH, p.236)
[Reorx is from Dragonlance, Onatar from Eberron, and Goibhniu from Celtic myth]

Grave domain -- Kelemvor (PH, p.234)
[Wee Jas is a Greyhawk deity, the Undying Court is from Eberron, and Hades (Greek), Anubis (Egyptian), and Osiris (Egyptian) are listed among historical pantheons in the PH; though Mulhorand is an expy of ancient Egypt, neither Anubis nor Osiris are listed in the SCAG deity lists on pp.21-24 of that source]

Druid -- Learning Beast Shapes -- The list of beasts by terrain type is a handy resource for what beasts might exist in a given area of the Realms, but it is still up to the DM to approve any selection from these tables. A player with a druid that specifically encounters a given beast during an adventure should note it on his log to present to future DMs. Also, note the number of beasts with a CR of 1 or less and a swim speed; such beasts are not valid options for Wild Shape for druids (of any circle) that have not yet attained 4th level.

Fighter -- Arcane Archer -- Though the description for this class feature notes that elves invented and are the most common practitioners of arcane archery, there is no rule (akin to that for the Bladesinger from SCAG) that restricts this archetype to only elf characters. Of course, the character must be able to select XGE as its '+1' resource to qualify for the archetype.

Monk -- Way of the Kensai -- Note that there are weapons that qualify to be kensai weapons that do not qualify to be monk weapons. (Specifically, as of this writing: all martial melee weapons that lack the heavy and/or special properties except the shortsword, all simple ranged weapons, the blowgun, the hand crossbow, and the longbow.) Though kensai characters do gain the ability to wield their kensai weapon as a monk weapon when they adopt the kensai tradition at level 3, monk characters who are not yet kensai cannot use Martial Arts options while wielding a kensai weapon that is not also a monk weapon. (Edited from original.)

Ranger -- Horizon Walker -- For purposes of the "Help! I've Been Plane Shifted! What Do I Do?!" rule in the FAQ (pp.6-7), the Ethereal Step ability does not have sufficient duration to return the character from another plane; note that this is true even if the Horizon Walker is plane shifted to the Ethereal plane, as the etherealness spell does not function if cast on the Ethereal plane (PH, p.238).

Rogue -- Swashbuckler -- an overview of the changes from the SCAG Swashbuckler to the XGE Swashbuckler (which are binding on all Swashbucklers, as per the FAQ, p.5):

Fancy Footwork -- No change.

Rakish Audacity -- change "no creature other than your target is within 5 feet of you" to "if you are within 5 feet of it, no other creatures are within 5 feet of you, and you don't have disadvantage on the attack roll".

Panache -- No change.

Elegant Maneuver -- No change.

Master Duelist -- No change.

Sorcerer -- Storm Sorcerer -- There are no changes from the Storm Sorcerer printed in the SCAG.

Warlock -- Hexblade -- If it is not obvious from the text, the Hexblade is a patron, not a pact type. So a warlock cannot be a Fey Hexblade, but rather would choose to be a Hexblade Pact of the Blade warlock, Hexblade Pact of the Chain warlock, or Hexblade Pact of the Tome warlock.

This is Your Life -- Most things in this section count as background material and can be chosen freely by a player for his AL character. However, elements in this section that provide benefits (such as extra gold gained via some Life Events and all items in the Boons table) do not provide those benefits in Adventurers League. (As a personal aside, this note should be added to the official guidance ASAP unless it is intended that AL players can make use of the boons to improve their AL characters.)

Chapter 2 -- Dungeon Master's Tools -- As per the XGE Guidance document, a number of rules in this section of the book are not required, but can be used by a DM if desired. (As a personal note, I applaud the AL Admins for this decision and would request that the same rule be applied to the Combat options on pp.247-252 of the DMG.) The rules on Waking Someone and Sleeping in Armor are especially useful for those DMs running a hardcover adventure in AL where the party may encounter wandering monsters while encamped for the night.

Chapter 3 -- Spells -- Note that all of the spells listed in the Elemental Evil Player's Companion have been reprinted in this book. Wording changes from the EEPC versions of these spells are listed below; if a spell is not listed, then there has been no functional change from the previous wording.

Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting -- non-magical plants that are not creatures and are in the area of effect wither and die instantly.

Bones of the Earth -- If a pillar is crumbled by damage, it takes at least one minute to clear a 5-foot diameter portion of the rubble created.

Catapult -- Range is reduced from 150 feet to 60 feet. Change the text "In either case," to "When the object strikes something," which suggests (but does not explicitly state) that only creatures that fail their saving throws against this spell take damage from the catapulted object.

Create Bonfire -- Bonfire now ignites flammable objects in its area that aren't being worn or carried.

Control Winds -- Change text "ranged weapon attacks that pass through it or that are made against targets within the cube" to "ranged weapon attacks that enter or leave the cube or pass through it" in both places where the former text appears (under "Gusts" and "Downdraft").

Earthbind -- Change text "airborne creature affected by this spell descends at 60 feet per round" to "airborne creature affected by this spell safely descends at 60 feet per round".

Earth Tremor -- Range has been changed from Self to 10 feet, effect changed from creating a tremor in a 10-foot radius to creating a tremor within range. Clearing a 5 foot radius area of loose earth or stone made into difficult terrain by this spell takes at least 1 minute to clear by hand.

Erupting Earth -- Typo in 'At Higher Levels' section corrected to show that damage increases for each slot level above 3rd (not 2nd).

Immolation -- Base damage from spell increased to 8d6 fire damage (from 7d6), and subsequent rounds of damage increased to 4d6 fire damage (from 3d6). Also, 'target reduced to ash' effect from this spell only applies to targets killed by it, not merely reduced to 0 hit points.

Maximilian's Earthen Grasp -- A restrained target must use its action to attempt to escape the hand.

Pyrotechnics -- Area of flame to be affected must be non-magical flame.

Thunderclap -- Range changed from Self to 5 feet. Effect changed from "each creature other than you within 5 feet" to "each creature within range, other than you".

Tidal Wave -- After the conjured water spreads out and extinguishes unprotected flames, it vanishes.

Transmute Rock -- Duration changed from "Instantaneous" to "Until dispelled". Also, if a creature is trapped by the 'transmute mud to rock' function of this spell, another creature "within reach" can attempt to free the trapped creature with a Strength check or by dealing damage to the rock. The rock is immune to poison and psychic damage.

Watery Sphere -- A Large or smaller creature can choose to voluntarily fail the saving throw to avoid being engulfed by the sphere. Spell now specifies that succeeding at the save at the end of a creature's turn ends the effect on that creature. Replace text "You can ram the sphere into creatures, forcing them to make the saving throw, but no more than once per turn," with "You can ram the sphere into creatures, forcing them to make the saving throw." After extinguishing normal flames when the spell ends, the water vanishes.

Those are my observations.

--
Pauper
 
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Voort

Explorer
Monk -- Way of the Kensai -- Note that there are weapons that qualify to be kensai weapons that do not qualify to be monk weapons. (Specifically, as of this writing: all martial melee weapons that lack the heavy and/or special properties except the shortsword, all simple ranged weapons, the blowgun, the hand crossbow, and the longbow.) A monk character cannot use Martial Arts options while wielding a kensai weapon that is not also a monk weapon.
Pauper

Not sure I understand the logic here. Doesn’t the Kensai in XGTE specifically say “Weapons of the chosen type are monk weapons for you.”...?
 

briggart

Adventurer
Thanks for doing this! A couple of minor Points:

- Osiris is mentioned in the Gods of Mulhorand sidebar in SCAG

- Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting was 10d8 in EE, now is 12d8.
 

kalani

First Post
You have a minor error in the Monk (way of the kensei) - specifically; Kensei Weapons are monk weapons (but only for your character).

Way of the Kensei p34 said:
Kensei Weapons [snip]
You gain proficiency with these weapons if you don’t already have it. Weapons of the chosen types are monk weapons for you.
 

Pauper

That guy, who does that thing.
Not sure I understand the logic here. Doesn’t the Kensai in XGTE specifically say “Weapons of the chosen type are monk weapons for you.”...?

It does -- I had missed this originally and will edit the entry appropriately to show that kensai don't have this issue, but monks who are not yet kensai do.

(As an aside, this is one reason why I note these observations are not binding -- I'm as vulnerable to missing text or editing issues as any admin or WotC employee and can often use the extra sets of eyes looking over my work. Thanks!)

--
Pauper
 

Pauper

That guy, who does that thing.
Thanks for doing this! A couple of minor Points:

- Osiris is mentioned in the Gods of Mulhorand sidebar in SCAG

This is true, but being mentioned in the sidebar is not sufficient to allow the deity to be chosen as a cleric patron -- the deity must be "listed in the Deities of the Forgotten Realms and Nonhuman Deities tables in the PHB or any deity listed in the resources listed in Step 1&2, above". (ALPG v7.0, p.3) Being 'listed', to my understanding, means being included on a list of deities that includes that deity's domains, and Osiris is not listed in the list of deities included in SCAG.

The same rule does specify "f your deity doesn't include suggested domains in the resource in which it is found, only the Life domain is available." (ALPG v7.0, p.3) However, the XGE Guidance document does reiterate to "consult the deity lists", which Osiris does not appear on.

Clarification from an admin would be appreciated, as it may be that Osiris is an intended patron option for Grave domain clerics. As written, the rules and XGE Guidance document either disallow Osiris as a patron option, or restrict clerics of Osiris to the Life domain, depending on the interpretation of the DM at your table.

(Edit: While I do appreciate the admins writing the rules in a generic sense so as to be applicable to future releases, I'm not sure that practice is as necessary given the structure of AL already in place -- though deity choices don't follow the +1 rule, the choice of deity is restricted to valid player resources, and there are only so many of those at the time of writing the XGE Guidance. If a later resource includes additional deities in Osiris's situation -- mentioned but not officially listed -- then those deities can be referenced in guidance published when that resource becomes AL-legal, and then consolidated into the next season's ALPG for ease of future use.)

- Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting was 10d8 in EE, now is 12d8.

Had missed this as well. Will confirm and edit the original post accordingly.

--
Pauper
 
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Pauper

That guy, who does that thing.
You have a minor error in the Monk (way of the kensei)

Thanks, Kalani -- Voort beat you to the punch, and I have edited the entry to show that monks cannot use kensai weapons that are not monk weapons for Martial Arts until they take the Path of the Kensai at 3rd level.

--
Pauper
 

kalani

First Post
Regarding Osiris - The jury is out regarding this particular deity, as the Cat Lord (from Volo's Guide) is a legal deity in AL, despite not appearing in the list of FR deities or Nonhuman Deities in any resource (only in a sidebar in Volos).

Personally, given what Travis has said on the FB group, I am inclined to believe that Osiris is not a valid option as it appears that the Mulhorandi deities have been deliberately neglected in 5e as of this date, with their only mention being in passing. You would think that they would have been included in the PHB (even an entry of Mulhurand Pantheon - see Egyptian Pantheon would have been a nod to their importance in FR) or at the very least, the Egyptian Pantheon being listed as the Egyptian/Mulhorandi Pantheon but no.

Also, the fact that the Egyptian Pantheon is not a valid player resource in AL also tends to add weight to the idea that the Mulhurandi deities are not AL-legal
 

Pauper

That guy, who does that thing.
Regarding Osiris - The jury is out regarding this particular deity, as the Cat Lord (from Volo's Guide) is a legal deity in AL, despite not appearing in the list of FR deities or Nonhuman Deities in any resource (only in a sidebar in Volos).

I get you -- in fact, this is even more of an issue now, because the lore for the Hexblade actually mentions the Raven Queen, despite XGE supposedly being a Realms resource, and based on the 'mentions are enough' rule, would imply that the Raven Queen is now also a legal AL deity.

Personally, given what Travis has said on the FB group, I am inclined to believe that Osiris is not a valid option as it appears that the Mulhorandi deities have been deliberately neglected in 5e as of this date, with their only mention being in passing. You would think that they would have been included in the PHB or at the very least, the Egyptian Pantheon being listed as the Egyptian/Mulhorandi Pantheon but no.

Lore-wise, the SCAG actually mentions this in their section on Mulhorand -- the gods of the Mulhorandi slowly became more and more withdrawn from the affairs of mortals, to the point where today, the 'Mulhorandi pantheon' is basically a group of living demi-gods that actually dwell in Mulhorand. A number are mentioned in that sidebar we've been talking about. But there's no indication that the Mulhorandi demi-gods serve as clerical patrons in the same sense that the listed gods of SCAG are -- there are no domains for them, as one example.

Also, the fact that the Egyptian Pantheon is not a valid player resource in AL also tends to add weight to the idea that the Mulhurandi deities are not AL-legal

Yep, for the same reason that the Celtic god of the Forge isn't currently AL legal, despite the Moonshae Isles (not far from the Sword Coast) being an explicitly Celtic region of FR with its own Celtic-inspired pantheon (including Belenus, god of the sun).

I don't really have a problem with players who are knowledgeable about FR lore wanting to use that lore with their characters -- it demonstrates a level of interest and commitment to the campaign which, in my experience, generally pairs with players who are great to have at the table. It's just that, as a DM, it's hard to justify allowing those sorts of things under DM Empowerment when the rules strongly suggest those things shouldn't be allowed.

And I'm OK either ditching the Cat Lord or making him an aspect of Sharess, who is the actual FR "Mother of Cats".

--
Pauper
 

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