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The QueueJul 29, 2022 12:00 pm CT

The Queue: Eldritch horror edition

I would have thought it was Mitch’s job to discuss eldritch horrors, but I suppose we all have to pitch in where we can. Let’s Queue.


QftQ: How does the vertical nature of DF feel so far? I really dislike vertical zones.

I’m not a fan of watery areas which heavily bring verticality into play, but frankly Dragonflight doesn’t feel that way. Yes, there are a lot of places to go up, and dragonriding also sends you up, but it just feels like flying. A high-speed flying that sends you soaring very quickly, but still flying. We’ve had air-based puzzles before, like the Kirin Tor quests in Legion, and I don’t think anything feels as frustrating as that. And for all the verticality of dragonriding, it mostly just feels fun.

It’s possible I’ll change my mind as more zones are released and I have more time to explore, but for now I’m feeling pretty good about this.


Q4tQ: Counterpoint to the article about how mobile Evokers are: in the ever increasing arms race of class mobility, do you think there is room for a class with little to no mobility? Would it hurt encounter design too much to have to tune things around the knowledge that one class has no way to increase their run speed?

I for one would totally be willing to sacrifice what little mobility I have as a Shadow Priest (Body and Soul) if it means I get to be the best turret caster. Maybe have one of those octagon utility talents so you can choose between mobility or some other benefit like damage avoidance, damage reflection, or pushback and interruption resistance. Obviously PvP tuning would also require a huge rework, but it can’t get any worse then things are now where it is impossible for me to escape melee once they have closed the gap.

I think the problem is that everything is tuned for high mobility, and as you point out PVP is all about mobility — so classes with little to limited mobility simply suffer. In PVE you can’t outrun danger unless you react faster than everyone else, and in PVP you’re quickly trapped. Both of these things are frustrating rather than fun, which makes me think that all classes need a baseline that things are tuned around, and some particularly speedy classes get more if that’s a hallmark of the class (like the Evoker). Some classes don’t feel like they hit a theoretical baseline right now — and as a Paladin, my mobility ability is both on a longer cooldown and has a shorter duration in current Dragonflight alpha, which I’m not looking forward to.

TLDR: I don’t think less movement is ever going to feel more fun. Even if encounter design was changed radically, I think moving more slowly just doesn’t feel fun, and less fun is… well, just less fun.


D&D Q4tQ: why do the class specializations that revolve around eldritch entities and/or Far Realm oddities base themselves in psionic/telepathic power? I’m specifically asking about the Aberrant Mind sorcerer and the Great Old One warlock patron. Both of them are going for the “your power comes from an unknowable eldritch abomination” sort of thing, and yet, both of them have mind-based powers. This seems like an odd mismatch to me, as I feel like if someone wants to have powers that come from something like Cthulhu, they’re not looking to read and control minds, they’re looking for tentacles and unfathomable horror.

Okay, first off, let’s consider some things the Aberrant Mind Sorcerer gets.

Arms of Hadar

You invoke the power of Hadar, the Dark Hunger. Tendrils of dark energy erupt from you and batter all creatures within 10 feet of you. Each creature in that area must make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, a target takes 2d6 necrotic damage and can’t take reactions until its next turn. On a successful save, the creature takes half damage, but suffers no other effect.

Hunger of Hadar

You open a gateway to the dark between the stars, a region infested with unknown horrors. A 20-foot-radius sphere of blackness and bitter cold appears, centered on a point with range and lasting for the duration. This void is filled with a cacophony of soft whispers and slurping noises that can be heard up to 30 feet away. No light, magical or otherwise, can illuminate the area, and creatures fully within the area are blinded.

The void creates a warp in the fabric of space, and the area is difficult terrain. Any creature that starts its turn in the area takes 2d6 cold damage. Any creature that ends its turn in the area must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 2d6 acid damage as milky, otherworldly tentacles rub against it.

Evard’s Black Tentacles

Squirming, ebony tentacles fill a 20-foot square on ground that you can see within range. For the duration, these tentacles turn the ground in the area into difficult terrain.

When a creature enters the affected area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, the creature must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or take 3d6 bludgeoning damage and be restrained by the tentacles until the spell ends. A creature that starts its turn in the area and is already restrained by the tentacles takes 3d6 bludgeoning damage.

The Great Old One Warlock also gets that last one as part of the subclass, and Warlocks can natively pick any of these spells if they want to. We can debate the meaning of “unfathomable horror,” but that’s definitely a lot of tentacles. If you want to take this into the depths of eldritch horror, it’s there, right in the base rules.

But even if it weren’t in the base rules, the rules of D&D are more guidelines. They’re a place to start, not necessarily a place to end — there’s always room for flexibility and creativity. Consider a spell like:

Tasha’s Hideous Laughter

A creature of your choice that you can see within range perceives everything as hilariously funny and falls into fits of laughter if this spell affects it. The target must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or fall prone, becoming incapacitatedand unable to stand up for the duration. A creature with an Intelligence score of 4 or less isn’t affected.

At the end of each of its turns, and each time it takes damage, the target can make another Wisdom saving throw. The target has advantage on the saving throw if it’s triggered by damage. On a success, the spell ends.

Now, as described, it sounds like you’re maybe telling a joke, making someone laugh. Ha ha! How funny! I just can’t stop laughing! But think about a Warlock looming over you, dark tendrils of shadowy energy swirling around them, their eyes boring into yours. You are terrified… but you are overwhelmed with the desire to laugh. A shrill giggle escapes your lips. You can’t stop yourself. You are laughing so hard you fall over. You are laughing so hard that you can barely breathe. You are terrified. You can’t stop. Tears are streaming down your face. You keep laughing.

That’s a real nightmare situation there. These subclasses draw on the power of unknown horror to twist the minds of their enemies, to cloud their vision, to see their deepest secrets, to force them to do their bidding. That’s pretty terrifying, right? It’s pretty terrifying.

And if it’s not terrifying enough, take whatever spells you have and theme them appropriately. Think of something totally innocuous like Expeditious Retreat, which lets you use Dash as a bonus action to move extra fast. It’s available to both Warlocks and Sorcerers so it’s possible that either of these creepy subclasses could have the spell. How would you describe it? Have you summoned the power of the winds to speed your steps? Are you drawing on inner wells of strength you didn’t know you had. to keep moving past your endurance? Or is your dark patron giving you the power to step from shadow to shadow, melting into darkness and appearing thirty feet ahead?

All of those could describe the same action, but one of them has a definite creepy theme. There’s no reason you can’t give any of your spells a twist turning them into proper eldritch horrors — it’s limited only by your imagination. Be the terrifying tentacle monster you want to see in the world.


Q4tP (or Que): Imagine if we had an anti-cataclysm expansion; Turalyon takes over and turns out to be a really civic-minded leader, introducing the azeroth new deal. Gilneas becomes un-cursed, Gnomeregon gets de-contaminated and they find an awesome bush for the Night elves. Actually I don’t know if I have a question….just wouldn’t that be nice.

I’m all in on the expansion where we fix things instead of breaking them. Let’s go. Let’s do this.

Alright folks, that’s all for today. I hope you have enjoyed our D&D diversion this afternoon… but if not, well, ask more non-D&D questions. And if you do like it, ask more D&D questions! But for now, we’re calling it a day.

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