Follow TV Tropes


Headscratchers / Dungeons & Dragons

Go To

Headscratchers in Dungeons & Dragons. New entries on the bottom.

    open/close all folders 

    X-Ray vision 

  • One of the magic items given in the Dungeon Master's Guide is a "Ring of X-Ray Vision." How do people in any normal setting know about x-rays?
    • Translation Convention: whatever word means "seeing through stuff" in D&D Common translates most easily to "X-ray" in English. If it's too out of place you can call it something else in your game, like Ring of Deepsight.
  • In 3.5e, making a magic item generally requires access to magic that somehow relates to the item's desired effect. And yet, the Ring of X-Ray Vision requires True Seeing, which very explicitly doesn't let you see through solid objects, even specifically pointing out x-ray vision as something the spell doesn't do.



  • If I make a character named Jesus, do I still have to roll my saving throws?
    • Yes, because at that point like any other god Jesus has stats and can be killed. Take that, Odin!
    • No less than you'd need to if you played a character named Jesus Rodriguez in a modern game-setting.

    Acid energy 

  • How is acid an energy? I can get fire, electricity, sonic, and even cold... but acid?
    • That was explained at one point in an article. The explanation is more that acid leaves injuries that are more akin to the other energy types than anything else, so it's sorted as an 'energy' for convenience sake. Plus, it gives something to be an earth-associated 'energy' type.
    • In the setting 'acid' energy is not actually acid (at least when magic/dragon breath is involved) but rather energy that acts like an acid (i.e. dissolving materials) it's just convenient to group magic and mundane acid into an energy type for resists/protection froms.
    • Acids work by stealing electrons from other compounds, which breaks the bonds holding the elements together. In not an energy per se, but it is energy related.
    • Specifically, it results in chemical burns, which are at least as distinct from a fire or electrical burn as frostburn ("cold damage") is.
    • That's not why, though. The "why" is that D&D follows the old European elemental system, Fire, air(electrical), water(cold), and earth(acid), with the spare sonic/force thrown in there for brute physical force. Acid was what was more-or-less arbitrarily picked for the Earth alignment method of applying damage since it's produced from plants and minerals for the most part.
    • Also because erosion is very much a phenomenon of the Earth element, for all that it's caused by the others. Corrosion would seem like accelerated erosion to people who didn't know anything about chemical bonds.

    Dragonborn player race 

  • Why even have dragonborn as a non-monster manual player race? I thought that the whole POINT of these guys was that they were unique.
    • Because playing a half-dragon can be fun. And now you can create the same character - thematically, at least - without the harsh level adjustment.
    • Until relatively recently, I wasn't even aware that dragonborn (as opposed to half-dragons) existed in 3.5. And from what little I understand, they were normal mortals blessed by Bahamut or something. That is not the case anymore. They're a race of their own, albeit one with a cultural reverence for Bahamut. To put it another way, that was the point in the previous edition - the point in the new edition is to play as a character who can spray acid on his enemies.

    Demon fears of death 

  • In the Monster Manual's description of demons it says that their own survival means nothing to them, and they just reform in the abyss when they die. Then in the description of the Balor, on the very same page, it says, "Weaker demons obey the Balor's commands out of fear of being torn asunder."
    • Here's something you may not have considered: being torn asunder HURTS.
    • Just because death isn't permanent doesn't necessarily mean it's not painful. Also, it would probably be reasonable to assume that powerful demons like the Balor can damage the 'soul' or 'essence' of the demons in question, which would be significantly more dangerous than just having a mortal shell destroyed.
    • One book also says that they die permanently if they're killed in the Abyss, which is presumably where Balor would kill them.
    • 2 ed. Planescape has it straight: a fiend could be killed for real outside if it leaves its plane on free will. If not, it will be reformed, but in an inferior form. If killed on home plane, result depends on type.
    • Who says the Balor won't tear a disobedient underling to pieces on some other plane, and tell its fellows back home to do so all over again, if not worse, when said underling revives in the Abyss?


  • Elves, every fault mentioned in fluff and stats is forgotten (you never see an elf tiring out quicker) or contradicted (how does a race weaker than the others somehow live longer).
    • Actually, they do tire out faster. But the Dex bonus lets them get in the sweating, gasping for breath and such in while your back is turned. As for the lifespan...well, they are generally under...what, five feet tall and one hundred pounds, so as long as nothing squishes them or diseases them, they'll live long lives.
    • The rate of aging doesn't necessarily correlate with resistance to damage, disease, or poison. I'm sure that gorillas, if translated to D&D stats, would have a much higher constitution than average humans, but they have lifespans 20-40 years shorter than humans. And we're talking about extreme lifespans that aren't possible on our world, and have to involve something supernatural.
    • Actually, gorillas are in D&D, under "Ape" in the Animals part of the MM. Their constitution is 14, with 10 of course being average.
    • Though human endurance at the very least is several multitudes higher than anything else.
    • While humans are Made of Iron by the standards of Earth biology, D&D's averages are adjusted for "the average person." Giving humans a by-the-numbers higher Constitution would alter people's reference points of the scores, and and lowering everyone else's could nudge game balance over a bit.
    • DnD is based around Humans being 'the average'. If something has a score of higher than 10, it's better than your standard Human in that respect. When you think of 10 as the arbitrary score for an average man walking down the street, many of the scores make sense. Far more make absolutely none however.
    • Also, Constitution doesn't just affect endurance. It affects all fortitude saves (including resistance to poison and disease), and hit points. I'm not sure about the first one, but many animals can take a lot more damage than humans can. The best way to model the exceptional endurance of humans would probably be some special quality, possibly given in the humanoid type. It's a shame the designers didn't think of that.
    • The main problem with this idea is that we're not considering the whole "Dwarves have a higher constitution than we do" point. Meaning that, in DnD, if humans are Made of Iron, Dwarves are Made Of Steel. Or mithril.
    • All of the player character races seem to be human-like in their nature, and they most likely all evolved from persistence predators. Dwarves are slightly better and elves slightly worse, but all three put most of the animal kingdom to shame. (And most monsters weren't given their attributes by trained biologists.)



  • Where did the Modrons go since 2nd Edition?
    • Modrons were remade for 3rd edition as part of a web enhancement for Manual of the Planes. I assume you can still download it from the Wizards website.
    • Yes, there's a modron enhancement.
    • Modrons: it's hip to be square.
    • And hip-squared to be totally cubical.
    • They are on the schedule for 4'th Edition. Monster Manual 3 if I heard right.
    • That Good an All, But would thay Origin be Immoral (as in from the Astral Sea) or Aberrant (from the Far Realm)? Because Mechanus isn't... well Unknown.
    • Um... The Think is... Um... April Fools' Day?
    • They are in the Creature Incarnations: Modrons in Dungeon #186 as Immortal Animates.
    • Hey, wanna know why I'm super giddy about 5th edition? The Modrons are baaack. Seriously, they're in the 5th edition Monster Manual.

    Stray bullets 

  • When you make a ranged attack against an enemy who is in melee with an ally, you take a -4 penalty to hit. But when you're fighting a group of enemies, projectiles either hit their intended target or disappear. There's no such thing as a stray bullet. So why do you have to be careful?
    • A group of enemies are presumably not trying to get in each others' way (and thus probably five or more feet apart), whereas an ally in combat is likely up close and personal with whatever baddie they're trying to violently negotiate with.
    • More realistically, that rule is probably there so you don't have to do some kind of "So whom does it hit, then?" roll every time anyone misses a shot, with it's own special (likely complex) mechanics. The penalty still exists to give some nod towards reality.
    • There are optional rules for tracking where projectiles went in the DMG. However, you're right; they are complicated. The DMG even acknowledges this, saying that you can implement these rules, but your gain would probably not be worth having to make four or more additional die rolls.
    • It may be worth noting that 4E has effectively removed this penalty. Allies explicitly do not provide cover to enemies in this edition.

    Dual-wield bare handed 

  • Why can't a monk dual-wield his bare hands?
    • Isn't that essentially what the "Flurry of Blows" feat does?
    • No. If a monk is holding a special monk weapon, he gets a full attack action, the extra attacks from FOB, and at least one off-hand attack. If he's unarmed, he can't make off-hand attacks, even though he necessarily had the speed and coordination to do so a minute ago. Hell, a monk can flurry with both his hands bound. No matter how you handwave it, you always get more attacks with an off-hand weapon than without.
    • What are you talking about? Monks can "dual-wield" their hands. You just take the penalties associated with dual wielding light weapons.
    • From the main FAQ on the WotC website:
      "Can a monk get an extra unarmed attack each round by making an off-hand attack?"
      "There's no such thing as a monk making an off-hand unarmed attack, because monks are already using pretty much their whole bodies for unarmed combat. For unarmed monks, the flurry of blows ability replaces off-hand unarmed attacks."
    • Except the latest downloadable 3.5 FAQ says they can, so nyeah.
    • An unarmed attack should already be assumed to be dual-wielded. It's not "I hit him exclusively with my right hand". It's rights, lefts, uppercuts, and kicks, all mixed in. The lack of a bonus attack for this is simply because it takes a hell of a lot of effort for punching people to be as effective as hacking them in half with an axe; medieval knights generally used weapons instead of their gauntlets, after all.


  • Bugbears. If an owlbear is something like a cross between an owl and a bear, why the hell is a bugbear some kind of oversized goblin?
    • The bear part of their name is because they have a bearlike nose. I have no idea where the bug part comes from.
    • Tsk! It turns out the word's been in use since the Middle Ages, and apparently has roots in Ye Olde Englishe. No, not that one.
    • "Bugbear" is a variant on what Americans usually call "the boogie man" or "boogie monster", with "boogie" being a lazy way of pronouncing bwg (which later became "bug"). The word "bug" in bugbear indicates the being is a supernatural creature along the lines of an imp or goblin or wight, and the word "bear" was often used to refer to any sort of terrifying beast — older peoples often regarded the bear with the same sort of terror that moderns feel for the great white shark (this was the age before the ubiquitous teddy bear and jolly cartoon characters such as Yogi Bear made bears cute instead of terrifying in popular culture).

    Words of Power 

  • Magic writing works kind of differently in the Dungeons and Dragons universe. The substance of this entry can be summarised by viewing this erudite discussion on the topic.
    • No, it works exactly the way you'd expect instructions for an advanced magical effect to work. Just because the verbal component for the spell is one word long doesn't mean that's all the information you need to cast it. If that were the case, there would be no need to prepare spells, and anyone could just cast it at any time. That comic completely ignores the logic of the setting it claims to be mocking, just so it can mock it more.
    • Could be that while the spell is one word long, there's a fuckton of stuff that needs to be recorded - notes on pronunciation, mystic sigils and so forth, plus planar diagrams to record how it works. Wizards are the DnD equivalent of scientists - they usually don't just want to make stuff happen, they also want to know how it works, what makes it tick, where the energy comes from and so forth.
    • Also, I seem to recall at least one explanation for the memorization thing being that you were effectively casting most of the spell already, and the words spoken when its cast are those needed to complete the spell.
    • Symbolics and "you just forgot it" version of Vancian Magic was retconned off long ago for good reasons, and at least in 2 ed. sources it was "memorization creates a pattern, casting just powers it up and deploys properly". There are items that can repeat any sound indefinitely, including Power Word — it will be just a sound. So, components has little to do with the spell complexity. There were even old spells without V component or even any at all, and in 3+ ed all components can be eliminated: it has no M, still+ silent means only 2 extra spell levels.
    • Which is why I vastly prefer "preparation" to "memorization."
    • It's something similar, I think, to how magic works in Chronicles of Amber. Because Magic A Is Magic A, spells have to be specific and carefully directed according to magical "science." Everything you're trying to do has to be spelled out to the letter. So, if you want to use magic on an adventure, you cast most of the spell in advance (called "hanging" or "preparing" it), leaving a few bits of information out. It's like filling in a form but leaving a couple of spaces blank. When it's time to cast the spell, all you have to do is fill in the blanks (with the identity of the target, the current astrological alignment, whatever) and the spell goes off. Using feats to shorten casting time and eliminate components is kind of like programmers using tricks when writing a program — it's more efficent, but it's also harder, which is why it requires a feat and makes the spell harder to cast.



  • So what happens to the Lich when you destroy its phylactery? Yes the Lich is destroyed and can't regenerate, but does destroying the phylactery destroy the soul, or just send it to its final reward? If the soul survives, would you then be able to Resurrect the person?
    • There's no reason to treat this unlike any other method, including direct undeath disruption. So it changes "undead" to "slain". But if undeath counts as "time being dead", mortals have very little chance to resurrect a lich. 200 years old, and you'll need level 20 priest. 500 years... yeah. And after all this, it can easily turn out to be someone dying of old age. The only method explicitly said to revert undeads was "Gift of Life", a High Magic (elven-only tradition) spell from Forgotten Realms.
    • Nothing happens to the Lich. The phylactery only provides a place for the Lich's soul to go if its physical form is destroyed rather than just dying normally. It resides there until it is capable of finding, regenerating, or creating a new body (also varies based on the source). It is possible to become a Lich without a phylactery (this varies between sources though), but if your physical form dies then you are gone. If you can't revive the Lich normally, nothing you do to the phylactery would help, barring the DM changing the rules.

    Elf leveling 

  • Elves live for hundreds of years, yet level up at the same rate as other adventurers. If the DM is using epic rules, why aren't there dozens of god-mode level 30 Elf super wizards around?
    • Because in Spellcasters Edition, we have Clerics and Druids.
    • Most elves are too busy being aloof, self-righteous pansies and writing their autobiographies (which never end because they won't fucking die) in treehouses to actually bother leveling.
    • Or just sitting and looking at the stars. Though it depends. On the setting and on the elf. At least, AD&D2 elven campaigns recommended to drop the limitation, but use "slow advancement" option.
      El blinked at the old Coronal. "A warrior?"
      The white-haired elf sighed. "I did in my time down some orcs—"
      And a hundred thousand men or so, and a dragon or two," the Srinshee put in. The Coronal waved a dismissive hand.
    • There were some elven uber-wizards. A few.
      El looked about. " 'Yonder worm'?" he asked hesitantly, seeing no beast or trophy of one, but only rooms of treasure.
      "That passage," the Srinshee told him, "is vaulted with the bones of a deep-worm that rose up from gnawing in the deep places and came tunneling in here, hungry for treasure. They eat metal, you know."
      El stared at the vaulting along the indicated passage. It did look like bone, come to think of it, but... He looked back at the sorceress with new respect. "So if I offer you violence, or try to leave this place, you can slay me by lifting one finger."
    • All of which raises the question as to why dragons, who are considerably longer lived than elves, aren't supermages and warriors (at least the ones capable of taking humanoid form) themselves.
    • Because they are lazy bastards who just care for sleeping for centuries on a pile of gold!
    • Because they are! See the sorcerer levels.
    • Because the ones that are that powerful require you to be obscenely strong yourself to ever fight, at least in 4e. Hatchlings and Wyrmlings tend to be around level one to five; juvenile to young (a few years to a couple decades) run the 5-11 range; "adult" of various flavors (a century or so or younger) comprise Paragon tier, 11-20. It's not until you approach or reach Epic tier, 21+, that you start fighting "elder" dragons, and may the gods help you, Ancient ones.
    • All elves obviously have serious learning disabilities. Why do you think the average level 1 elf is more than a hundred years old, and yet has the same knowledge and capability of a human teenager?
    • As of 4E, elves (and eladrin) mature about as quickly as humans do and only start to age more slowly then. With regard to the starting ages of earlier's purely speculation on my part, but part of it, at least, could be cultural. Elves aren't precisely the quickest-breeding of species in D&D land, after all, so a stance of "No adventuring for you until you've done your duty to your race and spawned and raised at least one offspring!" would only make pragmatic sense.
    • The 3.5 book Races of the Wild explains that elves mature only slightly slower than humans, with humans being considered full adults at 20 and elves at 25. Past that, elves stop physically aging, at least in any way that resembles aging to the other races. It's mentioned that the reason they don't tend to head out adventuring until they're roughly a century old is because elves view mental maturity much differently. It's considered foolish to just run out to slay a dragon when you haven't even taken a decade or so to figure out how a house is built, how to bake bread, how to forge a sword, what berries are safe to eat, and so forth. It's rarely done because spreading skill ranks too thin can mechanically gimp a character, but they're meant to have at least dabbled in a little of quite literally everything before choosing what they would prefer to do, especially if that ends up being something as dangerous as adventuring.
    • Also consider that there is only so much you can learn or honing your physique so much before your skills start to plateau. If elves develop skills at a similar rate as humans then eventually they won't advance any further because they've reached their limit. They may also lose their abilities at a similar rate from lack of use. Considering their longevity thats a pretty big deal, losing something faster then it took to gain. Would explain a few things atleast.
    • I've always thought it was the longer lifespans. Elves hit their developmental stages after longer periods, so they start adventuring later. And their whole society has a wait and see attitude, so they may do a lot of book learning before going into practical experience.
    • Elves may also be more amenable to retiring from adventure than short-lived races. Once an elf's first non-elvish adventuring companions start aging out or settling down, he or she may find that dungeon-crawling just isn't as much fun as it used to be. Other elves may eventually see enough comrades-at-arms die to realize that the odds will inevitably catch up to them if they keep risking their lives for decade after decade. And still others may take up adventuring simply as a hobby or phase, from which they eventually move on.
    • This was actually built into early versions of the game. Demihumans such as elves, dwarves, halflings etc. had a hard cap on the number of experience levels they could advance to to avert this problem - between 4th and 10th level was the limit depending on the race/class combination. However thieves (rogues in modern parlance) of any race except half-orcs could advance an unlimited number of levels. Half-orcs had unlimited advancement as assassins. So while you couldn't get elven uber-wizards, you could get an elven uber-thief or a half-orc uber assassin.

    Detect Magic 

  • 'Detect Magic' is a spell... you cast it to get what's written on the box... but, it's magic, so, you're casting magic to detect the presence of magic...? Shouldn't that given a massive false positive from the get go... "Hey, Lord Jeff, everything in range of the spell is glowing... we've hit the motherlode!/We're in deep shit!"
    • Because it's a divination spell centered on the caster that affects their senses, kind of like a passive sensor or microphone, except for magic. Presumably, the highly intelligent caster who originally developed the spell designed it so that the spell wouldn't detect 'itself'' in action.
    • Come on now, metal detectors are made of metal and don't detect themselves!
    • It's more interesting to think how Antimagic Shell works (an ongoing spell effect that disables ongoing spell effects). This creates some implications, of course.
      • Radio jammers work just fine despite transmitting radio waves. In fact, that's literally how they function. Now apply that same logic to magic and the various anti-magics such as dispel, shell, and disjunction.

    Druid babies 

  • Okay, so say a female druid got a bit frisky with her male animal companion while in wildshape...what would happen to the baby (or babies, for species where multiple births are the norm) if she returned to her original form during the pregnancy? Would it even be possible to return to normal? These are important questions, damnit!
    • Probably be rejected by her body, which recognises the child as a non-related entity. Sort of like how humans can't carry a baby chimpanzee to term.
    • Wildshape changes the anatomical configuration of a druid's body; it doesn't necessarily change him/her on a genetic level. Conception would likely be impossible ... unless the partner is another Wildshaped druid of a compatible race (human/elf, human/orc, same race, etc), in which case the offspring would be no different than if they'd mated in their humanoid forms.
    • If bestiality is making such a regular appearance in your campaign that this comes up, you can feel fairly safe in making a house-rule without worrying that WotC are going to publish errata that will contradict it.
    • There IS an example in mythology, Loki, in mare form, seduced stallion Svadilfari to get him away from his its master. But didn't manage to escape the horny stallion. The result was Sleipnir. So you can call precedent, I guess.

    Martial Controllers 

  • Maybe I must being a bit curious, but why no Martial Controller class in 4th Edition?
    • Martial classes are mostly melee, and that makes it hard to make up some plausible Controller type powers, the best equivalent is the Earthstrength Warden with extended reach etc... Unless you made them like a Dynasty Warriors spear using character it doesn't make sense. I suppose the Warlord could get a class feature that involved yelling the enemy into submission, but that still isn't as justifiable as a Wizard/Druid/Psionicist.
    • Also, the Controller role is more vaguely defined than the others. The Fighter and Rogue already have so many powers focusing on forced movement or Standard Status Effects respectively that a martial Controller can't be a new class. The only concept that makes sense is a World of Warcraft Ranger with pets and traps.
    • They have a marital controller now!
    • There's also the Essentials character Archer-Type Ranger, who relies on Trick Shots. Not very well, mind you, but it counts.

    Loyalty in Baator 

  • I never understood why loyalty is considered a sign of weakness in Baator. Isn't loyalty to one's superior a fundamental aspect of Law?
    • Because it's a vile bureaucracy Up to Eleven? That is, it stands on politicking, including both obedience and intriguing behind the superior's back (but not rebellion). This proves the greater understanding of Deal with the Devil -style order. That is, the superior who was set up didn't deserve to be the superior. Order + Evil involves imposing one's will on the others. Faces of Evil says that though black abishai are made from spinagons risen in power, they are despised more. Because a black abishai is someone who served well, but due to lack of ambition and cunning was given only minimum promotion. Properly wicked spinagons end up promoted by more than one step. "No determination" = "not cool".
    • Its suggested in 4e that the Loyalty=weakness rule may not be so universal as previously thought, at least not in the case of Asmodeus himself. The article on Geryon hints that Asmodeus didn't banish him for being loyal(that was a cover) but actually did it to send him "undercover" so to speak; he needs him to complete a task that he can't have any personal connection to. Could just be an adventure hook for DM's, or it may tie into the upcoming Abyssal Plague Crisis Crossover, or some other future plotline.


  • Why is it that I can never find a list of Primordials for my 4e Campaigns?
    • Two of the Primordials, Imix (fire) and Ogrémoch (earth), are in the Monster Manual 3.
    • They are left open for the DM to create.
    • In previous editions Imix and Ogremoch were classified as Elemental Princes. Yan-C-Bin (air), Olhydra (water), and Cryonax (ice) were the other such Princes, so you could use them.
    • Also, two more, Olhydra and Yan-C-Bin, were introduced in Dungeon Magazine (Issue 199 if you need it)

    Portable Hole and Bag of Holding 

  • The rules for a Portable Hole and a Bag of Holding being put together seem counter-intuitive. If you put the hole in the bag, it turns into a portal to the astral plane, swiftly sucking in everything it can. If you put the bag in the hole, an internal rift is created, destroying both. However, this seems like the opposite of what should happen. Wouldn't it make more sense if the "bag-in-the-hole" scenario to create a portal to the Astral Realm? You know, the hole turns into a gateway. Meanwhile, placing the hole in the bag sounds more like what should cause the internal destruction of both: the hole turns into a sucking gate within the bag, pulling the bag into it from the inside. Aesthetically, the whole thing just seems odd.
    • If you prefer it that way... This may be viewed as a violent malfunction of the extradimensional interface which is put inside another — it defines effects, while the "external" one is usually subsumed and destroyed by consequences. Then a Bag of Holding will cause the same rift whether it's put inside Portable Hole, 'rope trick', 'extradimensional pocket' so on, while Portable Hole will open a gate whether stuck into Bag of Holding, 'rope trick' etc. After all, in Tome of Magic (AD&D2) Flatbox always explodes, Dimensional Mine always breaks the pocket and hurls its contents across Astral plane and Warp Marble always spits out its prisoner to Astral and deactivates safely, no matter which of the above happened to it (as well as teleport or planeshift, for that matter).

    Lawful rogues 

  • Why (in 3.5e, at least) can rogues be lawful, but bards can't?
    • Dose Assassin count as Lawful Rogues?
    • I think it lies in the way that some classes primarily represent skill sets, whereas others represent lifestyles. Rogue is a "skill set" class - there are a huge variety of character concepts that can be statted as rogues, which are mostly defined by having a huge amount of skill points to spend on a huge amount of class skills, and being able to get into and out of places you don't want them to. A rogue can as easily be a diplomat or a detective as a cat burglar. Bard, on the other hand, is a "lifestyle" class - the rules are specifically written to support a specific character concept, and it's not one that lends itself well to lawfulness.
    • I like to think of it like this; rogues can be (as said above) trained assassins, following a strict code of conduct and carrying out a hit to the letter. Bards on the other hand are performers and singers drawing on their creativity and sense of freedom. They are subject only to their own whimsy.
    • I can certainly get Lawful Evil rogues as assassins could work for specific groups or organizations, like the Zhentarim (run by the Church of Bane) and evil churches (Asmodeus, Bane and Bhaal). As for Lawful Good rouges, Gray Guard paladins (that fights dirty) could make use of rogue multiclass for extra skills that Gray Guards use and they often work as good-aligned assassins.
    • Unless you want to include classic bard-types from other traditions, who were often the keepers of tradition, the law and cultural memory itself. Very definitely Lawful, those.

    Standard Cosmology 

  • Why is the "standard cosmology" in the third edition called that? According to wikipedia: "The standard D&D cosmology is the official cosmology used in the Planescape and Greyhawk campaign settings." If it's only used in those settings, what's "standard" about it? Or if it's the one usually used (which Manual of the Planes seems to imply) then why does The Other Wiki single it out as used by Planescape and Greyhawk?
    • 1: a variation of Greyhawk (see the deties) is standard for core in 3.5, including said cosmology 2: Forgotten Realms part of Planescape's multiverse, just zoomed farther in (There may be others that are explicitly part of it as well, though PS is implied to be it for everything).
    • When 3rd Edition first came out, they decided to give it flavor by using Greyhawk as the default setting. This allowed them to use some of Greyhawk's pantheon as the 'default gods', and include spells such as Otiluke's freezing sphere and items such as Boccob's Book which were named for beings from Greyhawk. It also allowed Thus "standard cosmology" meant "in accordance with the core rulebooks for 3rd edition." In Planescape's glory days, that same cosmology was the only cosmology: all published D&D worlds and "standard fantasy world" home campaigns were assumed to take place on different versions of the Prime Plane, with the Inner and Outer Planes as a shared region where characters from any published or home-brewed world could meet: this fundamental assumption was reversed when they redesigned the game for 3rd edition. So the Wikipedia entry is... accurate, but easily misinterpreted.
    • You're interpreting it backwards. The "standard cosmology" of 3E wasn't "standard" because those two settings used it. It's the "standard" (= default) cosmology for every D&D game, unless a particular setting specifies otherwise (e.g. the Mystara setting's original cosmology of Spheres and Immortals, or the thousands of homebrew cosmologies in use by individual D Ms). Greyhawk and Planescape are cited as examples of settings which don't thus specify, not as the reason why the Great Wheel exists.

    Gods and Elder Evils 

  • The comparative power of the gods and elder evils. The third edition sourcebook Elder Evils says the elder evils are so powerful that even the gods would hesitate to fight them. However, if you compare the statistics of the elder evils in that book to the stats of the gods in the third edition Deities and Demigods, you see that the gods should be able to easily crush the elder evils. Why the discrepency?
    • If memory serves, and it has been a while since I've given Elder Evils a read, most of the actual monsters fought aren't the evil themselves, but an aspect/avatar/servant of the evil made manifest by its will, before it's fully woken up. I remember you don't fight Atropus itself and you don't fight the Leviathan itself, and I'm fairly sure you don't fight that living superweapon thing itself. Comparatively, those three were the most powerful, and their true forms are beyond your capability to combat, forcing you to slay their minions before they fully awaken/complete their evil plans. The others were less physical threats and more environmental ones. Lymric's frost, Mother's offspring, the snake demon's army.
    • Also, part of the point to the Elder Evils book was to create amazing, exciting "end game" content without going into epic levels, as most players found epic games to be too broken to be enjoyable. So you get the feel of an epic level campaign without the mechanics of one.
    • Yeah, you're just fighting an extension of the evil, usually. There are Elder Evils who are far too large to even be fought directly (Atropus and Leviathan), for example. The ones whose true forms can be sensibly fought by nonepic mortals are Father Llymic, the Hulks of Zoretha, the Worm that Walks, and probably Zargon (given that he appears to be stronger against gods than mortals, according to the fluff text)
    • Also, out of the elder evils so far only the Worm that Walks has been updated for 4e (Atropus has been briefly mentioned), and Kyuss is very much within the epic levels. It's been a while since I've looked at Open Grave, but I remember him either being a level 28 or 30 solo(boss).
    • He's a level 31 solo.
  • Probably a case of Gameplay and Story Segregation, but, as someone mentioned, for some of them the stats are just for an "Avatar" of sorts (Atropus is a intelligent moon/planetoid, whereas Leviathan is a miles long Sea Monster. Both of which are a bit too much for normal size creatures to kill. (Imagine trying to destroy a small country just by stabbing a sword into the ground, even for a god this seems like a stretch.)

    Business with magic items 

  • Some Fridge Logic with magic items in 3.5. No wizard would be able to run a business making magic items, because he'd have to keep adventuring to gain back the XP he spent crafting them. Only an actively adventuring wizard would be able to keep crafting, and it would only be practical to make the items he needs for himself and his party. Mechanically this makes sense, because it encourages the players to go on adventures rather than spend their time making magic items for gold. But the fridge logic kicks in when you realize that this means magic items should be extremely rare. The only ones in existence should be left by retired or dead adventurers. Yet this isn't the case in most campaigns. Adventurers can find or buy whatever magic items they need after a certain level, and most settings have a magic shop in any city above a certain size.
    • The world is old, and there have been a lot of retired and dead adventurers. An elf or a lich could make a magic weapon then earn back the XP hundreds of times over the centuries. A large war might see both sides crafting magic weapons as fast as they can, which then litter the battlefield afterwards. Plenty of scope for a flourishing trade in antique magic weapons (which, after all, don't wear or tarnish) to develop.
    • We must remember that XP is just an abstraction for setting a schedule by which an adventurer grows more powerful. An adventuring wizard spends XP to create a magic item because they are infusing the item with some of their potential power in order to make it magical. So perhaps that cost only applies to adventuring wizards, and most magic items are created by non-adventuring wizards who can devote themselves full-time to study, development of their magical powers, and raising the energy they need to imbue the items with magic.
    • There's no reason to assume that XP can only be earned by adventuring. All those Commoners get their levels from somewhere, after all.
    • One thing that has been explicitly stated in every single version of AD&D since the first is just how extremely rare magic items are. Not a DM out there listens.
    • Some settings justify it with special "crafter classes" - for example, Eberron's artificers, who have access to a pool of free crafting XP.
    • Although it's been forgotten over the decades, from the original edition to 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the default assumption was that the world has one been replete with magical workings but that the world and its magical levels had fallen and decayed over the centuries (for various cataclysmic reasons or simply due to "thinning" as greed replaced creative curiosity) until our player-characters find themselves the last of a hardy breed who are willing to search for the lost magical items found only in the terrifying wildlands and in the abandoned dungeons. Magic shops were only found near such wildlands or dungeons, in which proprietors basically purchased the magical items of retiring or traumatized adventurers (who needs a +5 only versus basilisks sword to retire to gardening in a safe city far away from the wildlands?) and then sold them to the latest would-be adventurers. The sight of a magic shop meant that a magic-laden wildland or dungeon could not be far away, for magic shops were never found in safe or mundane parts of the world. Most NPCs never bothered to learn how to make magic items but instead guarded them as ancient treasures impossible to reproduce, making the player-character magic-user a very rare individual privvy to secrets of item creation unknown to most mortal folk!
    • You're a retired 3E spell-caster who hasn't had any use for those high-level spells in decades, are getting too old to walk to the market let alone enter another dungeon, and you'd like to leave more of a legacy than some hokey war stories for the grandkids. What better use for all those thousands of xps you accumulated, back in the day, than to craft some nice magic items to help those grandkids survive, should they ever decide to take after Grandma/Grandpa and go poke around in creepy holes in the ground?

    Conflicting lore 

  • It seems like the third edition handbooks Elder Evils (with its story about how Atropus' death brought the deities into being and the implication that the deities then created the universe), Lords of Madness: The Book of Aberrations (with its story of some kind of world ruled by aboleths existing before the deities) and Epic Level Handbook (with its mention of "proto-deities" existing before the rules of physical form were set in the entry about the hundred-handed monster) all imply slightly different things about how the D&D multiverse came to be and weather the gods came before or after it. I realize the DM can use whatever origin he/she wants and that the third edition has since been replaced by the fourth one, but I'm curious if anyone knows what Wizards of the Coasts' intentions were at the time, or if it's just that different rulebook authors had different intentions and these stories really don't fit together.
    • I believe the general intention was to keep it vague with a lot of contradicting stories. It's something that we're not supposed to know as it's meant to be shrouded in myth. If a given GM wants to take a given story and place it as definite then they are free to select one and go with it and expand on it, however.

    Prevalence of magic weapons 

  • In just about every version of D&D, magic items, especially very powerful ones, can generally only be made by primary spell-casters: wizards, clerics, sorcerers (in 3rd, 3.5, and Pathfinder), druids, etc. Yet all of those classes are generally limited, albeit sometimes by differing game mechanics in different editions, in what weapons and armor they can use. Wizards (and sorcerers) generally cannot use any armor and can use only a handful of weapons like daggers and staves. Druids can use only armors that are made of totally organic materials: leather or padded armor and wooden shields, and are generally limited to weapons that are either entirely wooden, like staves, or have some agricultural function, like sickles, scythes, etc. Clerics can generally use any armor but can only use bludgeoning weapons. In just about every edition, making magic items, especially powerful ones, is difficult and expensive, and imposes costs that frankly cannot be monetized: in 2nd edition, any permanent magic item required expending a point of constitution, while in third edition and after, it required expending experience points. What D&D player would sacrifice a point of con or any more than a trivial amount of XP for any amount of money? So here's my question: where did all these magic swords come from?
    • Know what's protecting your scrawny, d4 ass from becoming troll food? People with armor and swords. Know what's better than people with armor and swords? People with +4 armor and flaming +5 swords. From an optimization-oriented player perspective, we know that there's no real gain to be had here; but that's not the point. Even if your wizard doesn't need meat shields on account of being Batman, justifying the existence of magic items is as simple as accepting that, at some point, a spellcaster weighed the pros and cons of enchanting the sword of the guy who stood between himself and a variety of voracious, man-eating horrors, and decided to enchant the damn sword.
    • Maybe, but the simple fact is that by the time a wizard is powerful enough to enchant magic items, he's powerful enough to summon monsters to be meat shields for him, to say nothing of various other ways he can deal with threats other than sacrificing precious experience or precious constitution points to make a meat shield more effective. To be perfectly blunt, if I'm playing a wizard, there is pretty much no circumstance under which I would ever make a magical sword, unless someone else is somehow providing the XP (letting someone else provide the con point wasn't an option in 1st and 2nd).
    • Presumably, there is a way for non-player characters to earn XP without running around raiding dungeons. The average player does not want to sit around RPing sitting around for a week building up magical energy to make items to sell, but presumably there are people that would make a career out of it given how much those items are worth. It's not so much the logical flaw that it is a stupid thing for anyone to do, just a potentially stupid thing for someone who's main occupation is using magic in life and death situations to do.
    • For example, a longsword costs 15 gp. Presumably, blacksmiths can make a living by selling things like longswords, so the amount of money needed to get by isn't very high. A +1 magic enhancement adds 2000 gp, so presumably, unless the amount of time it would take a non-combat enchanter to make a +1 magic enhancement is ridiculously huge (say 133 times longer then how long a blacksmith takes to make a longsword), then there is definitely a lucrative amount of money to made. It just isn't an interesting aspect of the game to roleplay when the average danger is "almost tripped over a slightly disheveled cobble stone."
    • There is also much to be said about perspective in this situation. Most players (and DMs for that matter) see the world through the eyes of their characters: a group of adventurers wading off into exploration, battle and graverob... Er, archeological looting. Your average PC, barring a background choice or something, would have little to no idea of how to breed, raise and fully care for horses beyond "Ride it to the next town and put it up in the local stable till we head out again". That doesn't mean that there aren't any people in the D&D world that know how to raise horse. The same goes for enchanting; while adventurers have to go through hoops to do something themselves, there are probably expert wizards or professional enchanters working on commission who are so good at enchanting they don't HAVE to spend XP, only the materials; they then work to either buff up armies or just present a local lord with some flashy mark of office that, a hundred years and multiple raids later, gets looted from the corpse of a gnoll chieftan by the newest level 3 fighter named Greg. That's why costs to MAKE are so much greater than funds gained when breaking down/selling, they're super specialists.
    • In Pathfinder, making magic items don't take away XP, only takes Gold (Supposingly, in gems, exotic ingredients, and so: I don't allow crafting in the middle of nowhere, no matter how many gold are carrying the PCs).
    • Fourth Edition pretty much cuts out the middleman by making enchanting an item not so different from just going and buying it at Ye Olde Magick Item Shoppe in the first place — the Enchant Magic Item ritual, available for 175 gp to anyone of level 4+ with the Ritual Caster feat (which wizards and clerics get for free) basically just serves to make the search for said establishment unnecessary by letting the ritualist turn the desired item's worth in components directly into the item itself (of his or her level or lower) over the course of a single hour. So in this edition at least a wizard can and probably did in fact do it in most cases.
    • Some campaign settings have a magically-powerful nation/empire in its history, and many often hint that the world is currently in a decline. (Reflecting the middle ages coming after the fall of the Roman Empire) This is an excuse for dungeons full of magical loot being ruins of that lost time, but it may also hint that one bit of lost magical knowledge is how to mass-produce weapons and magic items without such harsh personal costs.
    • Ir's also quite plausible to assume that many spell-casters, or at least the ones who aren't interested in becoming liches or whatever, spend the last few years of their lives channeling their power into magical items. Aging clerics would imbue items for their church's defenders and acolytes; wizards would equip their apprentices or the warriors of a royal patron; druids would craft gifts for rangers and forest folk with whom they've worked. The archetype of the venerable mage who, sensing his own death approaching, expends the last of his power to bequeath some enchanted boon to a new generation is a staple of fantasy fiction; there may not be any explicit rules about it, but that's because the rules were designed for PCs at the height of their careers, not retired-and-dying ones.

    Triel and Baalzebul 

  • The description for Atonement in the third edition Player's Handbook says the spell "does not work on outsiders or any creature incapable of changing its alignment naturally" and the Book of Exalted Deeds says "only a naïve fool" would try to get a devil or demon to pull a Heel–Face Turn. In other words, you have one book saying fiends can't turn good (in which case it would be rather arbitrary if celestials could turn evil) and another book implying that no outsider can change alignment. How is it, then, that Triel turned evil and became Baalzebul, the lord of the seventh layer of Baator?
    • Atonement only offers an opportunity for immediate alignment change, it doesn't interfere with the recipient's free will in that regard...or endow said recipient with any ability to choose that it naturally lacks, for that matter. So that it can't be used to instantly redeem or corrupt Outsiders doesn't automatically imply that there's no other way to do so. (Or that they can't eventually decide to change naturally after all and it's simply just Atonement itself that doesn't work on them, for that matter. Since it's a fairly mid-level cleric spell, the "no Outsiders" clause could even simply have been put in there to prevent clerics from trying to poach other deities' extraplanar servants by means of Easy Evangelism...)
    • Okay, but the Book Of Exalted Deeds still says that "only a naive fool would try to convert" demons and devils to good. So again, I wonder, why is it that celestials can turn bad but their Evil Counterparts can't turn good?
    • Traditionally, it's easier to corrupt something than it is to purify it. So, yeah. Angels can fall easily, but it's going to take a lot more to make a demon ascend.
    • Technically a fiend probably could turn Good under extremely unusual circumstances. Indeed, the Atonement spell's phrasing of "outsiders or any creature incapable of changing" - or, not or any other - rather implies that outsiders do have such an option. It's just that "some stubborn PC kept preaching at it" isn't going to get the job done all by itself. Any such Heel–Face Turn would need to involve the fiend's own deep-seated Character Development and millennia if not epochs of incremental change, not just a fluke or a single show of mercy or kindness by a Good being.

    Hydra brains 

  • Do hydras have a brain in each of their heads? Or just one central brain in their bodies? Guessing the 2nd because otherwise they would get stupider each time a head was cut off
    • Perhaps the Brain on the Central Body and the head are extra lime for it.
    • If they're anything like Real Life two-headed reptiles, each head is independent in its reactions, so cutting off heads won't make a hydra stupider. If anything, it would make it less prone to stupid actions: two-headed snakes and turtles have been known to get into "arguments" with themselves over food or which way their bodies should go next. "Spare" heads that grow and then wither may not have a brain of their own, as they must be imperfect to expire that way.
    • It could be both, like with octopus arms: octopuses have a brain in their heads and each arm is packed with enough neurons to act as a kind of primitive brain and give the arm a degree of independence, so damaging an arm might impede that arm's ability to make sense of its surroundings but wouldn't affect the octopus (or in this case hydra) as a whole.
    • Hydras don't have brains, they have souls. A single soul per hydras. Problem solved

    Ranger armor 

  • Okay, so the 3.5 Ranger is built to be a damage-dealing type of guy. He uses Combat Styles to take feats in the Archery or Two-Weapon Fighting trees depending on player choice and loses these abilities when wearing anything heavier than light armor. So why do Rangers have a proficiency in medium armor?
    • 3.5 Rangers are not in fact proficient in medium armor. They get simple weapons, martial weapons, light armor, and shields (except tower shields).
    • Assuming your edition's ranger does have medium armor proficiency, there's still one use for it: wearing medium mithral armor, which is 'treated as light' for purposes of class limitations (such as style benefits), but still requires proficiency in medium armor.
      • Medium armor might also be handy for a ranger whose current mission is not to fight, but to scout out dangerous territory, provide a distraction, and/or lure enemies into an ambush. Likewise, a badly-wounded ranger might happily don a bit more protection until healing can return them to the front lines.

    Flurry of Blows 

  • Why can Monks only use their Flurry of Blows ability using certain weapons? Now, the meta reason is that Monks would be OP if they could (Imagine swinging a longsword 4 times in one round and you get the idea), but what keeps them from doing it in game?
    • Presumably the monk weapons are the only ones properly balanced for the monk to maintain the momentum of that flurry, whether they hit or not. (A house rule in which you can flurry with a non-'monk' weapon but lose any remaining flurry attacks after your first successful hit would open the option but also give players a reason to ignore it.)
  • The Lightning Fists feat. It requires at least four levels of Monk, and gives you two extra attacks in a round, with a harsher penalty than the Monk's Flurry (which eventually gives you two extra attacks at no penalty). And yet, WotC is on record as saying that a Monk can not use Lightning Fists and Flurry of Blows at the same time.

    Destruction Domain 
  • Why is the spell destruction not in the destruction domain? I mean, if there was a spell called "fire" I would expect it to be in the fire domain.
    Tieflings and Drow 
  • Why do Tieflings and Drow get a bonus in their Charisma stat? Tieflings are considered outcasts in society thanks to their fiendish ancestry, and Drow are considered, with a few exceptions, to be purely evil demon-worshippers.
    • And neither of those things necessarily has any affect on someone's Charisma, which in this game is not "how much you are liked," but rather your force of personality.

    The Animated Series 
  • The climax of "The Dragons' Graveyard": Morality aside, are we really supposed to believe that arrow could have killed Venger, even with the Field Power Effect in place? The guy has repeatedly survived stuff that looked a lot more lethal than Hank's powered-up arrows, giving the impression that he's immortal. You figured the reason the kids enlisted Tiamat's help in the first place is because she's the only thing in the Realm powerful enough to kill him Deader Than Dead. But when she agrees to help, all she does is bring him there, so they don't need her to kill him for them after all, meaning this place supposedly must make their weapons as powerful as Tiamat, but she breaks out of one of Hank's energy lassos very easily. Even with the power boost they have there, it doesn't look like their weapons have been made as lethal as Heart Stones, the Dragon's Heart, a collapsing Hall of Bones, or an erupting volcano — that is, as the stuff Venger's returned from without a scratch. During the battle, Venger bats one of Hank's powered-up arrows aside as easily as he always does. So how is one shot from an arrow suddenly supposed to be able to kill this guy?
    • Simple, because Venger's power has been restrained at the time. Yes, at full power and ability Venger would easily survive or even deflect the arrow, however, normally he would also be able to just teleport away or break the bonds holding him. Unfortunately for him all the weapons got a power up from being in the Dragon's Graveyard so Presto's magic, which is what is holding him in place, is now stronger than Venger's, which is what makes him vulnerable and why he's afraid.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: