dnd 5e – Is my Elephant Shield item balanced?

Using an action to do 2d4 + strength bludgeoning damage isn’t all that interesting for a level 5 character. If you have 16 strength or more, you are most likely a class that has two attacks at level 5, so your option is something along the lines of doing 2d8 + 2*strength at melee range if you just hit normally with your two attacks, or doing your 2d4+strength at range. The only real advantage here is that almost nothing will resist magical bludgeoning damage, but that can also be accomplished by having a magical weapon.

Using your reaction to gain 2 AC if you would get hit, if you can see the attacker, is pretty minor. It’ll save you at best 3 hits per day, which while useful, is only slightly more likely to make a difference between a hit and a miss than a normal uncommon + 1 shield, which is active 24/7. You might just want to buff this to allow you to use a charge to cast Shield as a reaction, which gives +5 AC. That way, it’s a lot more likely to be a meaningful choice.

Only the third ability seems like it could be considered problematic. By not requiring charges, this would allow a high AC tank to stand next to a squishy target, and once per turn take a hit in their stead, which is extremely strong. Compare this to class abilities like a Cavalier’s level 7 ability Warding Maneuver or a fighter’s Protection fighting style and it is most likely equal or better than those two abilities. If nobody in your party has those abilities, it should be fine, but it can feel kind of frustrating if an uncommon item does what your character is supposed to be doing better than you, so if you have one of those kinds of characters around, this one might require tweaking.

All in all, it seems like a pretty balanced item. The third ability is really the make or break here, if the party has another melee fighter who’s very squishy, the ability is really good. If the rest of the party is all ranged characters, it’s most likely a lot less interesting and your players may decide that a + 1 shield is a better choice in the long run, depending on how many fights they have in a day.

dnd 5e – Is this homebrewed shield weapon balanced?

Not broken, but concerning

My first concern is that it may be a little too strong for Two Weapon Fighting builds (with the shield being used as a regular weapon, not as a thrown weapon), but TWF gets weak quite quickly after 5th level anyway, so this sounds to be an okay buff to that build. The throwing part is flavorful but I doubt it will be seen frequently – you have a decent chance of missing against most enemies (say around $40%$), and that is a high chance when the cost is losing your shieldweapon for the combat. For this reason, I do not think this is overpowered in any way.

My second concern is that this might make a Dueling Sword and Board completely useless when compared to a Two Weapon Fighting Sword and Board. The whole point of Dueling is that you can use a Sword and Board and still get some nice damage buff. So, let us see if our concerns make sense. I will not include the math here, you can check how to compute DPR for TWF and others in my answer in the linked question about TWF.

For comparison, I will be using Point-buy, all ASI is an attribute increase in the relevant modifier (Str in this case) up to 20, and then the ASI are used to increase something non-relevant (such as Con or getting Mobile), and I will be assuming a Fighter, since he gets more extra attacks.

For tier 1 (levels 1 to 4), TWF is always better than Dueling. I mean, strictly better. For any AC, your expected Damage Per Round (DPR) is higher, and you have the same AC. So, yeah, at tier 1, your item made Dueling a useless fighting style, which is a balancing problem.

At tier 2 (levels 5 to 10), with 1 extra attack, Dueling approaches TWF with your shield, but TWF is still superior for every AC. Now, I would get very worried about this. While your item is not broken in any way, its existence made a fighting style completely subpar. Usually, this is not a good call.

Finally, at tier 3 (levels 11 to 16), Dueling finally catches up, being as good as TWF (slightly better, but the difference is less than $5%$.

If you manage to get to 20th level, with 4 attacks per turn for the Fighter, then the gap increases to about $10%$.

Another very important thing to mention is that most campaigns end by 10th level, sometimes going to 14 or 15, and the XP chart is specifically made so the Tier 2 is the one where characters spend more time. Source. This means, for basically the most relevant range of played levels, your item made Dueling a choice that is no longer viable, and it was the go-to choice for Sword-and-board that wanted some damage increment (while Defense is for a more tanky choice).

Ways of going about this that I see:

  • Instead of +2 AC, you get only +1 AC. This way, choosing to go TWF has a cost (-1 AC) for the extra damage you are getting, compared to usual Sword and Board builds.
  • Make it a Ranged Weapon, so you can not use it for melee two weapon fighting without risking losing the shield. Note: this is a huge nerf and may make it become just worse than regular sword-and-board altogether (although you could still go with Defense as fighting style), but maintains the flavor of the throwing shield.

Additional comments

I am not sure about making it a regular weapon (i.e. something you can buy in the nearest blacksmith). There are weapons that increase AC, and all of them are magic weapons. On the other hand, these weapons are… weapons, so they stack with an actual shield, while yours is a shield, so using it plus a shield does not stack (see rules on Shields in PHB). Still, since is it clearly better than, for example, a Shortsword, at basically no cost (other than more gp, I guess), it may be worth to consider making it an Uncommon Magic Item.

As mentioned by findusl, a weird interaction is that you can draw the shield as a Free Action (Object Interaction) as part of your attack, throw it, and if it hits, it gets auto-donned. You may want to change that, allowing attacks only if the shield is already donned, or auto-donning on return only if it was already donned.

dnd 5e – Is this revised homebrew Way of the Force monk subclass balanced compared to the official monk subclasses?

This is a monk to emulate be a force user, as from the Star Wars universe.
There is a spoiler from The Last Jedi film. I thought that the ability to telekinetically affect your environment is too cool a concept to be left to a couple of spells, so I wanted to create a martial class that could utilise these concepts.

The homebrew subclass in this question was finally playtested, so I can come back and try and refine it.

However, it was not an extensive playtest, so assessment from the community is appreciated. Prior to playing, I removed the multiple concentration feature of Force Prowess, leaving just the increased cost for more targets component.

The main issues seen were:

  • the contested checks resulted in both more rolling and more swinginess in whether the ability worked
  • using contested checks instead of saves meant that boss targets couldn’t circumvent the abilities
  • the ability to force something prone from range or to restrain something were both very powerful (especially against flying targets)

It was also unsatisfying to attempt to use an effect, just for it to fail, and my limited resource be wasted. As I was playtesting, I also found myself unwilling to use the Greater Telekinesis feature that lets you move creatures as an attack – maybe this was just due to the situations I was in, but it could just be a quirk of the combats I found myself in.

Additionally, I made some changes to Force Choke, but was unable to test it.

The changes I’ve made off the back of the above issues are changing all of the contested checks to Strength saving throws. This simplifies the text, and lets legendary creatures save from the effects, as well as reduce the amount of rolling. I also switched to using the player’s wisdom modifier instead of proficiency modifier for effects that I wanted to have a limited number of targets; I don’t think this should change too much, however.

I am still worried about the balance and feel of this subclass. It still has the issue that, quite often, a turn can be wasted trying to get a target to succumb to a force effect, and you fail consistently, wasting a lot of resources. Other subclasses get features they can use without resources; currently, this subclass only has Life Sense for that. Additionally, the ability to force something prone, or to restrain a target, from range gives a large incentive to just keep trying to get these powerful effects. The use of Strength saving throws instead of Dexterity saving throws is also a tad worrying; I’m not sure how unbalanced that is, though.

How balanced does this subclass seem in relation to officially published monk subclasses? What ways could it be improved to increase player satisfaction, with regards to resource expenditure, that official subclasses take into account?

Monks that follow the Way of the Force have learnt how to use their ki to manipulate their surroundings with their mind, tapping into the energy that inhabits all things.

Telekinesis

Starting when you choose this tradition at 3rd level, you can use your ki to telekinetically manipulate the world around you. You gain the mage hand cantrip if you don’t already know it, and it is invisible.

Force Radius. A force radius of 30 ft that is centered on you defines where you can use ki specific force features. Your force radius increases to 60′ at level 11, and increases to 120 ft at level 17.

When you take the Attack action on your turn, you can forgo one of your attacks to spend 1 ki point to achieve one of the following effects against a Large or smaller creature, or an object, in your force radius.

  • Force Shove. The target must make a Strength saving throw. If they fail the save, you can do one of the following: knock the target prone, push the target up to half your Force Radius directly away from you, or pull the target up to half your Force Radius directly towards you. Unattended objects automatically fail this contested check, and if an object is held by a creature the creature makes the check.

  • Force Grab. The target must make a Strength saving throw. If the target fails the saving throw, it is grappled for one minute while you concentrate on the effect (as if concentrating on a spell). The target can use an action to try and break the grapple, repeating the saving throw.
    Unattended objects automatically fail this saving throw, and if an object is held by a creature the creature makes the save. An object held in this way can be moved to a location within your force radius up to half your force radius away from its origin point as an object interaction, and stay aloft in the air at the end of the move if you wish.

Greater Force Connection

Mind Powers. At level 6 your connection to the Force grows. You gain the ability to cast Charm Person (1 ki point) and Suggestion (2 ki points) using Wisdom as your spellcasting ability modifier. You can cast Charm Person at higher levels by spending one ki point for every level above first level you wish to cast it at, to a maximum total number of ki points equal to your wisdom modifier.

Life Sense. You can concentrate for a minute and learn the number of creatures within double your force radius, as well as their locations relative to your own. You do not learn any further information about these creatures, such as creature type or identity. You cannot detect either undead creatures or constructs with this feature.

Greater Telekinesis. Your Telekinesis abilities now work on Huge or smaller creatures and objects, and you can move creatures with Force Grab as well as objects. When moved in this way, you must use an attack to force the creature to make a Strength saving throw. If they fail, they are moved to a location of your choice within your force radius, following the same rules as moving objects with Force Grab. If they succeed, they are not moved.

Force Prowess

At 11th level you can apply the effects of Telekinesis to additional creatures and objects beyond the first by spending one ki point for each additional creature, up to a maximum of your wisdom modifier. When moving objects using Telekinesis, you can move any number of held objects using a single object interaction.
Your Telekinesis abilities now work on Gargantuan or smaller creatures and objects.
Finally, when you attempt to Force Grab a creature, you can increase the number of ki points you spend to 3 ki points and try to hold a creature more fully. Instead of being grappled when you succeed on the contested Force Grab check, a target is restrained, and repeats the contested check at the end of each of their turns. When you target additional creatures with this effect you must spend 3 additional ki points for each additional creature.

Force Mastery

At 17th level your mastery over your ki and the ki of others is legendary.

  • The radius of your life sense increases to 1 mile, and you can tell the creature type of each detected creature.
  • Creatures remain unaware of the effect you have had on their mind when you use Greater Force Connection abilities on them.

In addition to the features above, you can choose to gain one of the following features:

  • Force Choke. When a creature is held and restrained by your Force Grab, you can choose to start choking them if they are within half of your force radius. As an action on your turn, you can choose one creature that is under the effects of your Force Grab, and start choking them. They begin choking, and they become paralyzed for a minute. If they take any damage while paralyzed in this way, this effect ends on them. Additionally, you can use an action on following turns to crush the windpipe of any creature that has started choking in this way. They have to make a Constitution saving throw, or be reduced to 0 hit points. Creatures that don’t need to breathe cannot be reduced to 0 hit points in this way, but can still be paralyzed by this feature. If a creature manages to escape your Force Grab, they are no longer under any of the effects from this feature.

  • Force Lightning. As an action on your turn, you can spend 5 ki points to start spewing lightning at your foes, concentrating on this effect for up to one minute. A beam of lightning flashes out from your hand in a 5-foot-wide, 120-foot-long line. Each creature in the line must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 10d6 lightning damage. On a successful save, it takes half as much damage. You can create a new line of lightning as your bonus action on any subsequent turn until your concentration ends, without having to spend further ki points. These lines of lightning vanish at the end of your turn.

  • Force Projection. As an action on your turn, you can cast Mislead by spending 5 ki points. Instead of the duplicate appearing where you are, however, you can choose to make the duplicate appear within 30ft of an ally you are aware of on the same plane of existence as yourself.

markov chains – A balanced die is thrown several times (independent throws)

A balanced die is thrown several times (independent throws).

a. Let Xn be the number of different values obtained on the first n throws (n≥ 1).
Give the transition matrix of (Xn)n≥1 as well as the associated graph. Identify all the classes in the Markov chain and specify their types.

b. Let Sn be the sum of values obtained in the first n throws. What is the probability that “Sn is a multiple of 3” after a very large number of throws (when n→∞)

dnd 5e – Is this homebrew ‘Envision’ spell balanced?

TL;DR I think this spell is mostly alright as is

A comparison to foresight

The foresight spell is a 9th level spell touch-range spell that lasts for 8 hours, takes 1 minute to cast, and does not require concentration; it states:

You touch a willing creature and bestow a limited ability to see into the immediate future. For the duration, the target can’t be surprised and has advantage on attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws. Additionally, other creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls against the target for the duration.

Your spell is similar to this in its effects (except the +2 AC) but has a much shorter duration, can be cast mid-combat, requires concentration, and has significant downsides when it ends. Overall, I think these do help to balance out the spell (though comparing such drastically different levels of spells is difficult) but we can definitely conclude that your spell is far weaker than foresight which is a great start.


A comparison to Reckless Attack

The Barbarian gets a feature gives them advantage on attack roll but also gives other advantage on attack rolls against the Barbarian.

Your spell though causes the target to have disadvantage on attack rolls and I think a problem with this is that they can choose simply not to attack and go do something else. I think switching this around to be similar to Reckless Attack would be a good move.


A comparison to haste

The haste spell is a 3rd level 30-foot range spell that lasts for 1 minute, takes an action to cast, and requires concentration; it states:

Choose a willing creature that you can see within range. Until the spell ends, the target’s speed is doubled, it gains a +2 bonus to AC, it has advantage on Dexterity saving throws, and it gains an additional action on each of its turns. That action can be used only to take the Attack (one weapon attack only), Dash, Disengage, Hide, or Use an Object action.

When the spell ends, the target can’t move or take actions until after its next turn, as a wave of lethargy sweeps over it.

Your spell is similar to this in its non-effects (except the +2 AC) so let’s compare those. If your spell were equal to haste in power then advantage on a single type of saving throw and getting a limited additional action would have to be equal to getting advantage on most saving throws (what’s visible is up to the GM) and advantage on all attack rolls.

I don’t believe this is the case though, in other words, your spell is somewhat (perhaps only slightly) overpowered.

The saving throw benefits are quite a significant jump in power, making it a great deal stronger than haste in that regard, but comparing the advantage on attacks with getting an additional action is complicated:

A Fighter would prefer 2 attacks made with advantage over 3 attacks made without if they have about a 50% chance of hitting (this difference gets worse – your spell gets more better than haste – as the Fighter gets more attacks).

A Warlock cannot do much with haste cast on them, but with your spell they get advantage on the attack rolls of eldritch blast; a much better trade for them.

It’s hard to compare a “free” Disengage action or Hide action to flat advantage on attacks, but when talking about those who make more than one attack with their action, your spell likely benefits them more than haste does.

It’s not a great deal of difference and comparing these spells isn’t easy (playtesting is likely a great thing to try out) but I think the biggest flaw is the lethargy effect of your spell.


The lethargy effect can be abused

Let’s assume that the lethargy effect even comes up in the midst of a combat (most battles I’ve seen with haste have had the combat end before the spell ends, but perhaps that’s from the monsters not focusing entirely on the caster of haste):

With haste, suffering from the lethargy means you can’t do basically anything; you just sit there for an entire turn and can’t escape, leave, vanish, or anything similar.

With your spell, the lethargy does not actually stop you. You can teleport away, sprint away, or do just something besides attack. The only thing you have to look out for is the disadvantage on saving throws, which might not even come up.

Another problem is that if somebody were under the lethargy effects and really wanted to get out of them, you could just cast the spell on them again. All the effects would cancel each other out for that one turn and then the target would get nine turns of fully benefiting from the spell.


Summary/Conclusion/TL;DR

Overall, I think this spell is somewhat better than haste because it is useful to more people, grants stronger saving throw advantages, and the lethargy effect is actually less detrimental. That said, comparing a “free” action with advantage on attacks is difficult and if the lethargy granted attackers advantage like Reckless Attack does, I think this spell would be similar enough in power to haste where playtesting would be a great idea.

dnd 5e – Is this homebrew feat, Overheal, balanced with regard to other feats?

There are some problems. The problems aren’t exactly that the ability is too good. The problem is that you’re trying to build something to improve in-combat healing, but people who read this are going to see it as a way to do pre-combat buff spells without requiring concentration.

The first problem is that your requirement “whenever you use magic to restore one or more hit points to a creature” is easily gameable. Thomas Markov’s answer highlights this issue when he starts with: “If I punch my friend in the arm for 1 damage…” This needs to be replaced with a better requirement that won’t get gamed.

The second problem is that you haven’t placed a time limit on the temporary hit points. As written, the cleric could overheal each of their allies at the start of the day, and then they just walk around with extra hit points until they need them. (The rules say that, by default, temporary hit points last until you finish a long rest.)

The third problem is that, as you note, certain high-level spells give out very large amounts of healing, and this wasn’t seen as a design problem because the people designing those spells expected them just to heal the target to full hit points. You’re going to need to add rules to handle this.

I think the ability you want to design looks like this:

Whenever you use magic to restore one or more hit points to a creature, any healing that would exceed the target’s max hp is instead gained as temporary hit points. The maximum number of temporary hit points you can grant is equal to the amount of damage the target had before healing; only damage that was inflicted by enemies in the last minute counts for this purpose. These temporary hit points fade after one minute.

With this rules text, the ability is no longer viable as a pre-combat buff spell. The rule about “the maximum number of temporary hit points you can grant” will prevent unexpected results from mass heal.

I still suspect that this feat is a bit unbalanced: it’s not good enough before heal is available (because you won’t be healing people that are close to full hit points), and after heal is available it’s too good.

Maybe a better solution would be to also say: “this does not work on spells of sixth level or greater”, and the feat would give you +1 wisdom or +1 charisma as well.

data structures – Maintaining balanced BSTs in order to get $frac{n}{2}$ largest elements in constant time

Maintain two BSTs $T_1$ and $T_2$ such that $T_2$ always contains the largest $lfloor n/2 rfloor$ elements, and $T_1$ contains the remaining elements.

Insertions and deletions can be implemented in $O(log n)$ time by performing the corresponding operation in a suitably chosen tree and then moving at most one element from one tree to the other.

For example, to insert an element $x$ proceed as follows:

  • Find maximum element $m$ of $T_1$
  • If $x le m$:
    • Insert $x$ in $T_1$
    • If $|T_2| neq lfloor n/2 rfloor$:
      • Delete $m$ from $T_1$
      • Insert $m$ in $T_2$
  • Otherwise:
    • Insert $x$ in $T_2$
    • If $|T_2| neq lfloor n/2 rfloor$:
      • Find the minimum element $m’$ of $T_2$
      • Delete $m’$ from $T_2$
      • Insert $m’$ in $T_1$

Deletions are handled similarily.

The same approach also works if you maintain two heaps (a max-heap and a min-heap) instead of two BSTs.

See also this answer that uses a similar idea.

dnd 5e – Is this adaptation of the Lycanthrope rules balanced

I am planning to put my group into a scenario where they might get turned into Werewolfs. As I am not entirely happy with how Werebeasts are portrait in the rules, MM pg. 207., I.e. Hybrid forms and Werewolfs running around in armour and swinging Greatswords (I like my wolves tooth and claw, not sword and board. Thank you very much!)

I decided to try my hand on modifying them to suit my desired outcome. This is the first draft I came up with.

Lycanthropy

Once per long rest you can assume your Werewolf form, growing in size, leaving your armor and gear, or absorb them, your choice. When you do so you gain the following traits:

  • You gain resistance to bludgeoning, slashing and piercing damage from non-silvered weapons.

  • Your claws count as finesse weapons, dealing 1d4 slashing damage. Increasing to 1d6 at 5th level, 1d8 at 11th level and 1d10 at 17th level.

  • If you use the attack action on your turn you can make another attack as a bonus action.

  • Your strength score increases to 15, if not higher (Using the Werewolf as example).

  • You become unable to use any of your class features that require you to take an action. You can’t cast spells or concentrate on them, or use any weapons or magical items, except your claws.

  • If you begin your turn with no more than half of your maximum hit points, you must succeed on a DC 8 Wisdom saving throw or move directly towards the nearest creature to you and use the Attack action against that creature. You can choose whether or not to use your Extra Attack feature for this frenzied attack. If there is more than one possible target, roll to randomly determine the target. You then regain control for the remainder of your turn.
    If you are under an effect that prevents you from concentrating (like the barbarian’s Rage feature), you automatically fail this saving throw.

The transformation lasts for 1 hour or until you end it prematurely as a bonus action.

The forced turn on a full moon still applies, and yes the last part is copied from the Order of the Lycan Blood Hunter.

The idea is to create a kind of half breed class, compatible with any existing one.

I know that by denying to use class actions or spells I favour some combinations above others, like a paladin who can still use his smite or a monk who can still use his Ki. Hexbladed curse could still be used and sneak attack as well.

The alternative would be to deny any kind of overlap and basically have two different character sheets. Which is an option.

The idea behind it is simply making the experience a bit more unique and relatable to your character than just playing a boring run of the mill werebeast, there are druids for that.

Balance/usefulness wise I also considered adding the following:

Unarmored defence

Your AC equals 10 + Con mod + Dex mod

Temporary Hit points

You gain temporary hit points equal to 5 × your character level

Extra attack (at level 5 or 6)

When you take the attack action you can attack twice instead of once

Unarmoured movement

Your movement speed increases by 10.

Make the strength Score increase scale with your level

You strength Score increases to 10 + half your character level, if not higher.

My questions are:

  • Are there any exploits too great that it would completely break the game?

  • Is it too weak, that its usefulness is negligible?

  • Are there any other ways one could implement a similar system I haven’t thought of yet? Traits or ability Score benefits or deficits?

7 – Running cron jobs in a multi-server, load balanced, environment

We have a multi-server, load balanced, Drupal 7 website on AWS. I would like to find the current best practices for running Drupal cron jobs in general in this type of environment if possible. Specifically, we want to avoid issues caused by running cron jobs on all servers. I would assume that a best practice would have already resolved these types of issues and a lot of others as well.

What are the best practices for running cron jobs in a multi-server, load balanced Drupal 7 environment?

We have a multi-server, load balanced, Drupal 7 website on AWS. I would like to find the current best practices for running Drupal cron jobs in general in this type of environment if possible. Specifically, we want to avoid issues caused by running cron jobs on all servers. I would assume that a best practice would have already resolved these types of issues and a lot of others as well.