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Crafting, Magic Items, and Economics. Familiarity, Proficiency, and Expertise. There are lots of different shields in history and they are used a lot more like a weapon than depicted in movies and television where shields just passively sit on your arm like a piece of armor rather than an active participant in the battle.

One thing to consider is that the difference between a small buckler and a tower shield is greater than the difference between a dagger and a greatsword. It seems a bit strange to have them be treated as effectively the same. For roleplaying purposes, there are two major splits with shields. Those held in a boss grip and those held with a strap.

Those held with a strap can allow you to hold something in your hand like a torch or a backup weapon to throw at an enemy before melee starts.

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It was a standard thing to hold onto anything from a spear or a javelin or a throwing axe in your shield hand so you could transfer it to your main hand before your enemy reached you. The strap based shields are good on horseback allowing you to hold the reins in your shield hand. Boss shields are held in a grip at the center of the shield.

Shields of this design could get quite large in history. As you can see there are a lot of different types of shields and they are used in different ways but they are a weapon not a piece of armor and knowing a bit more about them can allow you to be more entertaining in battle descriptions and even add a bit of fluff to your roleplaying. Is your shield round or teardrop shaped? Is it a rectangular buckler and does it have a spike or dagger sticking out to add damage? Is it concave or convex?

Another thing is to consider the materials the shield is made of. Viking shields usually had a metal center or boss attached to wood and bound with leather. Some shields have metal edges. Some shields are made entirely of metal. If so when they get hit they can make quite a sound…which can be a great explanation for why the knight botched their stealth roll by clinging their shield like a bell against something metal.

For game flavor, you can even impose repairs during the night or stops in towns to replace shields. Good use of the mending cantrip for roleplaying so the Paladin can grudgingly appreciate the value of the meddling wizard. I have split shields into three general categories called Dueling Shield, War Shield, and Body Shield with a game mechanic section and a bit on the social use of carrying a shield of that type in daily life.

Handling proficiency with shields I recommend that rogues, barbarians, and bards have dueling shield proficiency since dueling shields particularly spiked bucklers were famously used by thieves and street bandits to the point where they often became illegal in some city-states.

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Fighters and Paladins should have all three types of shields. As a general rule think of bucklers as ubiquitous in almost every city in the Old World from India to Egypt to London for centuries by almost every combat trained nobleman or wannabe street tough. Most historical fencing tournaments today allow you the choice of parrying dagger or buckler and they are used in much the same fashion with different masters suggest different methods of using both depending on the century and locale.

This lets you roleplay as a quite standard fighter of the renaissance with a sidesword and dagger without losing the AC and benefits from Dueling Fighting style. War and Body Shields are martial tools used in war primarily with a bit of guard duty thrown in for the War Shields.

Shields can be used to attack for 1d4 blunt damage or if spiked or otherwise weaponized may do 1d4 piercing damage instead. If used as an off-hand weapon the warrior can use a bonus action to make an attack. Warriors with the Protection fighting style can when using a War Shield or Body Shield provide to any adjacent warrior within five feet who also has a War or Body Shield to allow those adjacent warriors to use the Protection fighting style themselves should they not already have the fighting style as long as the target of the enemy is an adjacent warrior to them with a War or Body Shield.

This means that a trained fighter in a column can greatly fortify their comrades in arms. This can provide an in-game mechanic for how Greek phalanxes or Roman legions defeated enemies who on paper far surpassed them. Later on, Pike Squares would devastate cavalries in a similar united fashion. Shield Master increases the d4 for damage to d6. Keep in mind that with different types of shields the bonuses this feat provides will differ depending on the type of shield. A Sentinel who is part of a Shield Wall formation may give the benefits of Sentinel to the warriors immediately adjacent to them who meet the same requirements as sharing the Protection fighting style.

This combined with Protection fighting style can make even a low-level group of fighters incredibly dangerous when fighting together. An elite fighter backed with two moderately proficient shield mates presents a new type of problem with this rule demanding new tactical approaches especially in an enclosed environment like a long hallway or a bridge or an Underdark tunnel. A boss held dueling buckler is small, quick, and active in battle. Some versions have spikes and even stranger adaptions that were probably not martially savvy but intimidating or stylish.

These are the shields that civilians use because of convenience and ease of transport. Some versions have a connection so you can hook it to your belt directly which is also very convenient. The buckler is a daily part of life carried by peoples all over the world from Ireland to India for thousands of years and no one is going to bat an eye at someone carrying one when doing their shopping at the market or watching an opera.

A Dueling Shield is 2 to 6 pounds on average depending on the material and is usually between about 10 inches to 18 inches in diameter. If the warrior is proficient with Shields they can use a bonus action move the shield to cover the center line. This action grants a bonus to AC equal to half your Proficiency bonus from attacks coming from that specific opponent. Later you can spend another bonus action to move the shield to cover the line of attacks from a different opponent. This is a martial weapon for war, defense, or threat of war. Depending on size and shape you might have your shield strapped to your back, on the side of a wagon or boat, or carried by a squire or auxiliary.

In daily life, you are most likely to see Medium Sized Shields carried by town guards, bodyguards, mercenaries, hunters going after large dangerous game, people in ceremonies, and soldiers. A War Shield is 5 to 12 pounds depending on the material and two to three feet in diameter with many shapes and sizes.

This is a martial weapon designed to be used in war while in a formation. It is heavy and bulky making it dangerous to run with and for most non-warriors, it will quickly cause exhaustion just carrying it let alone using it. It is slow and bulky making it a liability to a warrior by themselves or when flanked compared to a War Shield which is more nimble. Socially, someone walking around with a Body Shield outside of a war zone or as part of their duty would be looked at askance and have Disadvantage on social tests not involving Intimidation.


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Carrying a body shield around to buy a chicken at the market would be the equivalent of going to Target with a SWAT Riot Shield in your hand. A Body Shield is more than 10 pounds depending on material with many being over 20 pounds and at least four feet in length on one dimension. Because of its size and bulk carrying a Body Shield halves movement speed. When carrying a Body Shield in front of them a warrior benefits from half-cover against ranged attacks. Because holding a Body Shield blocks vision unless it is made of a material like Glassteel and opaque to sight it gives you disadvantage on Perception and Investigation checks.

Since Parrying Daggers are basically dueling shields with spikes as far as game mechanics you can use a Parrying Dagger instead of a Dueling Shield with no change other than roleplaying or mechanically for fighting styles via Dueling or Two-Weapon Fighting depending on how you rule that. A large parrying dagger is 19 inches long and a large buckler or dueling shield is about 18 inches long so even the size is basically the same. An advantage of seeing a parrying dagger as mechanically a shield is that you can then easily use a rapier or sidesword and parrying dagger together without issues and with the same effectiveness as with a dueling shield.

The above diagram is a depiction of the OODA Loop which is a tool for understanding how people make decisions. There are many ways the DM can handle showing combat whether with miniatures, physical or virtual maps or overlays, or purely via imagination and description. I offer my system to people who like a little more complexity and options in their battles and to add a bit of tactical confusion and surprise. There are some changes that can make things very different in your game as it shifts priority away from Dexterity towards Wisdom but I think that is actually more balanced.

Please just leave a comment about your experience. If I forgot something obvious please let me know as well. It is easy to make mistakes on this kind of thing. It is important at this point to go over what each PC perceives prior to Initiative so that they can form an idea of what is going on based on their personal perspective not that of a Player who can see much more.

Experienced soldiers used to working in tandem with each other are going to be much more difficult to deal with than expert duelists used to working one on one or a mob of amateurs. A big change here is that in my system Initiative is how well you observe your environment and process information rather than in the PHB which focuses on how fast you can move your body.

One could even use both in a game depending on the situation. The reasoning behind using Wisdom here instead of Dexterity I provided above and my reasoning for using the proficiency bonus is that handling and reacting to combat is a matter of experience. For example, take a reasonably healthy and elderly Special Forces combat veteran and mentally they will be able to process a combat situation faster and in a more capable fashion than a novice character with world-class Dexterity. Leveraging that experience to process the OODA Loop is a big part of improving decision making and thus performance in combat be it social, mental, or physical and you can substitute talent only so far when competing against old age and treachery.

If two characters are acting the turn or movement during the same phase both actions take place at the same time. Thus, you can have both characters stab each other in the heart and this happened quite commonly in history or characters charging each other would meet at some point in between the two warriors rather than one warrior charging across the battlefield while the other sits there. Any action that would take place at 0 Phase or when the combat phase is in the negatives all happen at the same time.

Thus, a character who used their entire move before swinging a sword would have their action take place on the 0 phase along with any other characters. Remember you still have only the actions you can do just like in the PHB even if you still have leftover Initiative after you attack or cast a spell. I am going to introduce a term called tempo which has various definitions depending on the martial tradition or master but in this case, tempo means how long it takes to complete an action.

Each action has a tempo cost which tells you how much later the action actually takes place in since your Initiative score is simply how fast you were able to process the combat situation not the time it takes to perform an action. Some martial masters have used the idea of hand, body, foot, and feet to describe combat, reaction, and initiative. This means that the tempo of moving your hand is fast, moving your body is a bit slower, moving one foot is slower than that, and moving both feet is the slowest. Moving a foot forward or back takes even longer and moving both feet is the slowest.

In other words, it is faster to thrust a blade with just an arm movement vs an arm movement plus moving the body forward with the arm vs the arm, the body, and a foot forward such as when lunging vs the arm, body, and both feet in a shuffling strike. To put this in perspective it takes longer for a warrior to walk 30 feet and swing a two-handed warsword than it does for the rogue to move 5 feet and backstab with a sgian dubh knife even if the warrior rolled a higher Initiative score which is how things stand now.

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A character can under this system postpone their action or be indecisive. For example, a pikeman could see cavaliers and their horses charging towards him and plant her pike and ready themselves for the charge postponing their attack until the cavalier comes in range. Should the cavalier stop rather than coming into range the pikeman could charge forward instead or drop the pike and draw the loaded crossbow at their side and fire thus allowing more flexibility than the current system at the cost of more complexity for the DM and players to handle.

For a second attack, the action takes place after the first one and any movement has subtracted from the initial Initiative. Starting Initiative of 10 and a heavy strike for on phase 7 and a second heavy strike for -3 for an attack on phase 4. Heavy and Light Weapons have that trait listed with all others without that trait being regarded as Medium below.

DM should quickly decide based on the complexity and potency of the ability or power or the complexity of the situation. While the spellcaster is making magic they are vulnerable just as if they are Concentrating on a spell…because they are concentrating on the spell they are casting. This means not only does it take awhile to drop a major spell and thus adds difficulty to the tactical landscape it also means it is even more important to protect the big guns because if they take damage and lose concentration it can be the difference between an easy encounter and a deadly one.

For example, the Cleric has an Initiative of 15 and is casting a 6th level spell so their spell begins on Phase 15 and ends on Phase 8. If they get hit with a barrage of arrows and Magic Missiles they could lose Concentration and have their spell fizzle out. This can give a quick character a chance to use Arcana to recognize the spell the big baddie is casting and yell for the Archer to shoot the Wizard before they drop a Meteor Swarm on them.

It also makes Counterspelling a bit more fun which counts as a Reaction below so it only has a 0 IC. Skills, grappling, and non-combat actions like help, search,: DM may add or subtract depending on the complexity of the skill use. This represents the simple automatic speed that develops from increased competency at a task. Jack of All Trades, Remarkable Athlete, or my house rule linked above. Dash without gear, weapons, or any substantial encumbrance such as dropping everything and running for your life from the greek fire armory that a mage dropped a delayed blast fireball inside.

Walk 15 feet for a 15 Initiative Cost then cast a spell and use the remaining X 15 feet to get back undercover on the 0 Phase. Opening a stuck door may take longer than pressing a button. Since things change dynamically during the round this can be important. Reactions like Opportunity Attacks: Usually have a 0 Initiative Cost and take place at effectively the same time as the action that caused the reaction such as a Shield spell blocking an arrow. Can take place before, after, or at the same time.

For example, a Shield Master could do a shove before they do their attack or after. A Two-Weapon fighter could thrust forward with both daggers in simultaneously on the same phase or one after the other. Using the earlier example: Thus, there are 30 Combat Phases.

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Starting with the highest Initiative Score have the highest scorer decide what they want to do. So, the Rogue at Phase 30 would say I am probably moving 5 feet forward to stab the Orc after a quick look around. The Rogue has to decide whether to tell the Wizard and alert the orc or move forward and backstab the orc. She decides he should be fine and walks toward the orc and sneak attacks. So, the DM would go through Phase 28, 27, 26 sneak attack with sgian dubh a light weapon -1 IC and on Phase 25 rolls for damage and kills the orc.

On phase 23 the Ooze starts sliming up to the Wizard but is 30 feet away.


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  • It will have closed five feet by phase The cantrip had a cost of 1 IC so on phase 21 the Wizard turns and walks toward the Rogue keeping an eye on the ooze. Both the Wizard and Rogue move back to keep their distance from the creepy looking Ooze which decides to Dash on its remaining move to close the distance. The DM would map out the movement as the phases would drop one by one. Any remaining movement would be used during Phase 0 for all three creatures. Hope this gives you some ideas on how to spice up your combat! Keep in mind that this system does penalize movement and powerful spellcasting the most.

    It adds a bit of spice to social combat as well providing a useful mechanic. Learn more at Author Central. All Formats Kindle Edition Sort by: Popularity Popularity Featured Price: Low to High Price: High to Low Avg. Available for download now. The Bimbo Hack May 20, Not According To Plan: Provide feedback about this page. There's a problem loading this menu right now. Get fast, free shipping with Amazon Prime. You won't by the end of this book. Each has a very distinct and often entertaining personality, such that they themselves, become strong characters in the book.

    The second half of the story takes place neither here nor there: Some of the inhabitants of this magical place are actually characters from other Hill books. Some are there for reasons well described in this and prior books. Still others are there for reasons yet to be discovered and either way, new stories loom. There are captivating new characters, and species for that matter, in this book who need their own hard-earned HEA hint: All the feel-goods are there, but as I love in a Hill book, they come with hard work that is never really over, and they often leave scars.

    There is a real-life relatability to her stories and the characters who inhabit them, even in the presence of a fantastical setting; something that is its own form of magic. I'm a huge fan of Joey Hill's Vampire Queen series, and while this is a stand alone novel, it still subtly acknowledged the vampire world of the other series, while making this one totally about Medusa--yep, that one with snakes for hair and a look that turns anyone who makes eye contact to stone. Not only does Ms. Hill make this villainess of mythology a sympathetic heroine, she creates a truly sexy romance between time traveler John Pierce and the beautiful as long as you like snakes Medusa.

    The first two thirds of the book are the most erotic foreplay ever written as JP carefully seduces a woman he has loved as long as he can remember. Convincing Medusa to trust and then actually accept that this man can love her without wanting to use or misuse her is such a tender love story that I sometimes found myself smiling while I was reading the pages. Once again, I'm hooked on another book by this talented author.

    I hope she revisits this world--the circus of supernatural characters had me wanting to know more about those fantastic characters. I highly recommend this one, especially for the reader looking for something absolutely unique. What if there are countless stories about you being a villian? What is all those other stories where And what if there was a man, determined to right that wrong and was willing to risk everything to get to the heart of you? Hill creates a world where Medusa was the victim of a horrible crime and is serving her time alone on an island, happy to be alone and content with her snakes.

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    The second reading of Medusa's Heart was a firm reminder that it is, after all, Medusa's story, the character who is part myth along with centuries of exaggeration. Thanks to the pure magic rendered by Joey W Hill, however, "snake-girl" becomes a fully-fleshed out character.

    She becomes real, someone with whom it is easy to relate, to believe, to feel sympathy for and to admire. Heck, we even come to like her snakes. And that's saying a whole lot.