Magic Advice in D&D 5E for Players and DMs
June 8, 2018 1:59 AM   Subscribe

For you D&D 5th edition fanatics out there, Youtube animator Zee Bashew makes a series of short cartoons illustrating different aspects of and ideas for the game (especially magic) called the Animated Spellbook. Spellbooks - Save Spells vs. Attack Roll Spells - Spell Levels and Cantrips - Casting Times and Rituals - Weak Characters are Better - Prestigitation - Sleep - Feather Fall - Goodberry - The Deadliest Thing in D&D - Detect Magic
posted by JHarris (28 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite
 
I missed some:
Build Murray - The secret stage of play - Fireball
posted by JHarris at 4:06 AM on June 8 [4 favorites]


These are fun, it's almost a shame they're so short but the fact they get all the info imparted with minimal waffle is actually a good thing.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:37 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


I like these so much. I bought a Deck Of Many Things because they are the current sponsor, and I like that they are short because I recognise how labour intensive animation is, and if there were any longer there would be fewer of them.

Best Edutainment.
posted by Faintdreams at 6:37 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


I actually like the length for reference, too - part of the issue I have with some of the other D&D explainer youtubes (there's a lot of them) that if I do actually want use that work as a reference, or share with my players as a reference, it's difficult to find the exact thing I'm looking for quickly. This has a lot of good information imparted in an entertaining way while not having 15 minutes of filler.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:54 AM on June 8 [4 favorites]


This is delightful!
posted by Rudy Gerner at 7:07 AM on June 8 [1 favorite]


I love these! And agree with most of Bashew’s thinking, too.

I’ve been known to unhesitatingly fireball a party member because they were surrounded in what seemed a hopeless melee, counting on my comrade’s chance to Save and our party’s ability to heal him, afterward. Successfully, too, I might add, and though the other player agreed with the soundness of the tactic, also said it was “just rude”.

And the damn water has been a problem for me on many an occasion. Fond memories of spending seven (SEVEN!) combat rounds flailing about in the moathouse moat (T1 - Village of Hommlet), all the while being peppered with arrows from the battlements, because I’d slipped when trying to climb out and couldn’t make my Save to get...out...of the damn...water! Or when my character drowned in the royal spawning pool in D2 - Shrine of the Kuo Toa by being paralyzed while scavenging the lootz in the water.

I must say that as a frequent Druid player, the Goodberry spell is a personal favorite, but I take his point about how it could undermine a survival adventure...
posted by darkstar at 8:02 AM on June 8 [2 favorites]


The bit on weak characters is part of why my barbarian (later a bardbarian) was so much fun. Especially because he knew he was dumb, so he avoided INT checks. But every once and a while, he had to try. I almost always rolled a 17 or above. He was a savant when need be, but boy was he dumb otherwise. (Also, the bit about allowing the dice to tell the story is how he ended up with a level in Bard- I kept getting crit successes on performance rolls, so he took at as a sign from the heavens that he should really spend some quality time learning to play his mandolin well.)
posted by Hactar at 8:03 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]


How fortuitous. I’m teaching myself 5e, and I haven’t DMed since 2nd edition AD&D some 25 years ago. These are invaluable, thanks!
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:10 AM on June 8


I've been loving these videos...should have occurred to me it would make a good mefi post.
posted by Edgewise at 8:58 AM on June 8


These are super cute and I too like that they get right to the point without too much fluff.

The casting times and rituals one seem to be explaining the obvious but I guess not everyone spends the times while others are talking to try to memorize the rulebooks. :/
posted by GuyZero at 9:06 AM on June 8


Oh also

The Deadliest Thing in D&D

I was wondering what this was going to be before I watched it:

- table talk?
- cold dice?
- arguing about whether you'd expended a spell slot or not
- sloppy bookkeeping?
posted by GuyZero at 9:07 AM on June 8 [4 favorites]


The Deadliest Thing in D&D also reminded me of this one by Puffin Forest (another source of fun animated shorts) about a sewer adventure...
posted by darkstar at 9:40 AM on June 8


One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is just how sharp the animation is.

"Crossing the stream is a DC 18 Acrobatics check. No problem. 5!" (splash!)

The way the wizard narrator says "Fireball," as the camera zooms in and the music ducks out for just that second.

The rogue sneaking up on the kobold tower. "PUZZLE FAILED!" Screen: "FUZZLE PAILED!" (A sly Metal Gear Solid reference, but also funny on its own.)

The animator has a real gift for connecting the narration with the animation in a very sharp and funny way. It makes me think he really has a future in animation?
posted by JHarris at 12:14 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


the Goodberry spell is a personal favorite, but I take his point about how it could undermine a survival adventure...

The Ranger in my campaign took Goodberry before he realized that eating one berry was an action; he had a vision of having them handy and just gulping all 10 at once for a quick heal in combat. He realized pretty quick how unbalancing that would make the spell, though, so he never complained about it - now he just waits until we are out of combat to eat all ten. I'm going to show this to him tonight, just to make sure he knows about the other uses of it (in fact, I think players get too focused on the light healing component of Goodberry and discount it as a result; the true power of the spell is for survival situations, though it is overwhelmingly powerful there as the video makes clear).

Contrast this with the Warlock in the group, who is a great guy, but who I'm learning makes incredibly big assumptions about his spells when selecting them. In his last level up, he took Earthbind and a couple of days afterwards I pointed out that the spell only affects flying creatures. To which he replied that yeah, the description says "it reduces flying movement (if any) to zero", so his assumption was that if a creature had no flying speed, it would just set all movement to zero. The "flying" word could be discarded, you see. We had a three day back and forth over email about the spell because he wanted it to be a "cheap version" of Hold Monster instead of what it is. He finally relented and picked something else. (I love the guy, love having him at the table, and he's trying very hard to be very versatile & creative with his spells - but I'm learning his idea of versatility sometimes means reading things into the spells and rules that just aren't there, and I just needed somewhere to vent a bit because it really drains my energy to be spending time explaining how I interpret the spell and why I'm not going to change it, instead of having him go "oh, hey! Thanks for pointing that out - I'll pick something else"). These videos will be good for him too! And for me - they are fun and clear and quick.

Everyone in my group will watch these; I cast Summon YouTube at level 9!
posted by nubs at 1:51 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


I'd probably houserule like a morale effect from eating Goodberry all the dang time (even Sam and Frodo get a bit sick of lembas after a while), but the video's houserule idea of consuming the components is also pretty good.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:02 PM on June 8


Well, the spell description doesn't describe the taste, so it might be fun to describe the flavor in increasingly disgusting ways too.
posted by nubs at 2:43 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


Only issue there nubs is that people will put up with pretty disgusting things if the alternative is starvation, and some people will put up with it if it just means saving a little bit of money (witness Soylent).
posted by JHarris at 4:50 PM on June 8 [1 favorite]


I used to work with Zee, played a few RPG sessions with him. Great guy, just as funny in person, one of the fastest and most skilled animators I've ever met. I love these shorts, but they make me sad, because I'm not playing D&D. Glad to see these on the blue.
posted by ®@ at 9:37 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]


Well, the spell description doesn't describe the taste, so it might be fun to describe the flavor in increasingly disgusting ways too.

That's when your mage's prestidigitation comes into its own. Make them goodberries taste like whatever you want.
posted by juv3nal at 4:23 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]



That's when your mage's prestidigitation comes into its own. Make them goodberries taste like whatever you want.


Magic - is there anything it can't do?
posted by nubs at 7:50 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


The cause of, and solution to, all of Eberron’s problems.
posted by darkstar at 9:37 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


As far as the joy of low stats go, I had a DM who insisted that low stats were great...until my Int 7 Wisdom 5 character stopped at the mouth of the dungeon, and shouted "HELLO IS ANYBODY IN THERE?"

Shortly after, we switched to point based character generation.
posted by happyroach at 12:48 AM on June 10 [5 favorites]


Are you kidding? That is objectively awesome.
posted by JHarris at 5:26 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


OMG, I would have a blast with that.
posted by nubs at 7:58 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Ehhhh... That may or may not be fun for the players, depending on whether they like fighting battles where they're outnumbered and probably will have to bail out. It almost certainly won't be fun for the DM unless they explicitly prepped an interesting scenario for this happenstance when they noticed that one of their players had both INT and WIS as drop stats.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:41 PM on June 10


I could see it as fun for a one shot, even as the DM (even unplanned for as the DM! I love it when my players do weird shit that makes sense), but if there's one character that has massively different ability stats than the other characters in a longer campaign, the play ends up being mostly about that character, and that's less fun for the rest of the group.

If everyone has low stats, well, plan accordingly.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:57 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Ehhhh... That may or may not be fun for the players, depending on whether they like fighting battles where they're outnumbered and probably will have to bail out.

No, I'm thinking about the low INT & ok WIS goblin that is in the dungeon who will try to convince the adventurer that nobody is home and the dungeon isn't worth their time.
posted by nubs at 7:43 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


There's a new one: Haste.
posted by JHarris at 5:52 AM on June 16 [1 favorite]


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