Sage Advice Collection

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 1DR079 Dragon #79 “Gems Galore” (issue #72) does not say how some of the gemstones described in the article may be found.  DMs may create their own random-roll tables as extensions of the ones given in the DMG (p. 26), for gemstones found in treasure hoards in their campaigns; the gems described in the article may be included therein. 
 2DR079 Dragon #79 “Thrills and Chills” (issue #68) noted that there would be assassins operating during the Ice Age. How is this possible?  Assassins could be thought of as a form of commando warrior, used by various tribes as scouts, spies, or advance assault fighters who slay from ambush or by surprise. Assassins could also perform their usual sorts of tasks (getting rid of undesirable tribesmen), at the direction of a chieftain or other “boss.” 
 3DR056 Dragon #56 A bard is limited to the use of certain weapons. However, is it possible for a bard to use a weapon he was previously trained in (for instance, a bow), perhaps with a penalty involved?  Again, this is a matter simply resolved by realizing the Players Handbook means what it says. No, bards cannot use bows, because that weapon does not appear in the list of weapons permitted to the class. A character who intends to become a bard should make a point of gaining proficiency with at least some of the weapons usable by a bard, in addition to skills with weapons (such as the bow) which the character might prefer to employ during his tenure as a fighter. A bard-to-be might wisely decide to become proficient with bow and arrow, to improve his chances of surviving during his fighter phase. But the use of that weapon is prohibited when the character switches to the thief class, and it can never again be legally employed before or after the character actually becomes a bard. 
 4DR054 Dragon #54 A character with a vorpal sword decapitated an iron golem. This would negate the golem’s special attack of poisonous gas, wouldn’t it? Or can the golem still see and use its breath weapon after it is decapitated?  Decapitating a golem does not necessarily render the creature helpless or harmless. In essence, it turns the golem into two separate monsters. The body is still able to function, and will continue to attempt to carry out the wishes of its creator. Whether or not the body can “see” after the head is severed depends on your interpretation of how a golem “sees” in the first place. It is possible that the golem is magically empowered to detect the presence of a threat, and doesn’t really need the “eyes” in its head to find its way around. It is also reasonable to treat a headless golem as a creature which has been blinded, and apply the appropriate penalties on the monster’s “to hit,” saving throw, and armor class figures. And what about the head? It, too, remains “alive” and functional, although it is immobile and the effectiveness of its breath weapon is drastically reduced. To determine the position and placement of the fallen head, the DM can roll d4 or d6 for the direction in which the top of the head points, and d4 again to determine which surface (face, back, either side) is pointing down. The breath weapon will continue to function once every 7 rounds, and the cloud of gas will still expand to fill a 1” x 1” x 1” volume directly in front of the source. But since the head is not capable of independent movement, it should be a simple matter to keep away from it when it’s about to discharge. In a case such as this, DM’s must decide how to apportion hit points between the two parts. The iron golem’s head must still be “defeated” to stop the expulsion of the poisonous gas; it will retain a certain fraction of the golem’s current hit points when it is severed, and it will still have all the general properties (+3 or better to hit, etc.) the creature normally has. 
 5DR031 Dragon #31 A couple of friends and I are planning on taking over our DM’s island. So far our plan is working. Unfortunately, we have encountered some problems. What we want to know is how to spawn orcs? We need an army at the moment.  Orcs are mammals and therefore do not spawn. You will have to find some other way to raise your army. 
 6DR054 Dragon #54 A lich is said to use a combination of will power, enchantments, arcane magic, a phylactery and larva essence to maintain undead status. What exactly are the processes involved in becoming a lich and maintaining that status?  There is no “ultimate recipe” for becoming a lich, just as there is no universal way of making a chocolate cake. Only those things which are generally true are stated in the AD&D rules-a magic-user or cleric gains undead status through “force of will” (the desire to be a lich, coupled with magical assistance) and thereafter has to maintain that status by special effort, employing “conjurations, enchantments and a phylactery” (from the lich description in the Monster Manual). The essence of larvae, mentioned as one of the ingredients in the process (in the MM description of larvae) might be used as a spell component, or might be an integral part of the phylactery: Exactly what it is, and what it is used for, is left to be defined by characters and the DM, if it becomes necessary to have specific rules for making a lich. Several combinations of spells might trigger or release the energy needed to transform a magic-user or m-u/cleric into a lich; exactly which combination of magic is required or preferred in a certain campaign is entirely up to the participants. The subject has been addressed in an article in DRAGON magazine (“Blueprint for a Lich,” by Len Lakofka, in #26), but that “recipe” was offered only as a suggestion and not as a flat statement of the way it’s supposed to be done. No matter what ingredients and procedures are defined in any “recipe” for a lich, it should be virtually (if not completely) impossible for a player character to perform the process on himself — and if the attempt at becoming a lich does succeed, the character should no longer be allowed to operate as a player character. A character might have a long and prosperous existence as a lich, but would not be able to be considered an adventuring character — in fact, there would be no reason or incentive for a player-character lich to be an adventurer, because experience points are meaningless to a character who can’t rise in levels and gain new abilities. Besides, who knows how much time it takes to maintain lich status? Maybe a lich player character would have to spend all his time working to maintain lich-hood, with no time left to “enjoy” the fruits of his labor. 
 7DR037 Dragon #37 A player in our campaign is a dwarf Fighter with a Constitution of 7. When she got the Players Handbook, she discovered that such a thing is illegal. Should the DM simply treat this as an abnormal character, or is there another way to solve the problem?  There are two main alternatives. One is to let her remain as she is, but instead of saving as a dwarf with the automatic bonuses, she should save as a human. Or, her Constitution score could be altered (by raising it to the legal minimum of 12 for dwarves) so that she would conform to the rules in the Players Handbook. Specific solutions to problems like this should always be handled by the DM, since he/she knows the campaign better than anyone else and is best able to determine which alternatives would fit best into the game. 
 8DR062 Dragon #62 A second-level thief is drained one life level. In the next few days, he accumulates enough gold pieces and experience points to not only get back to second level, but to pay for a Restoration spell as well, Could the thief attain third level by application of his XP’s and then a Restoration (or vice versa)?  A character who wants to be restored has a fairly long time to find a cleric to cast the spell. And in the meantime, the character might very well acquire additional treasure and experience. Whether or not the character actually “gets credit” for the experience points, though, should depend on what the character’s (assuming a player character in this case) intentions were in the first place. A second-level thief drained of one energy level becomes a first-level thief with 625 experience points. As soon as that character accumulates enough experience points to qualify for second level, “no further experience points can be gained until the character actually gains the new level,” according to the DMG. The training period which the character must undergo to qualify for the new level in all respects will take at least 1-4 weeks. Even if the Restoration could still be attempted at this juncture, it wouldn’t work, because the thief has already “restored” himself. Restoration, as the name of the spell strongly implies, only brings back an energy level when that energy level was previously lost; the spell can’t “restore” a character to a level of experience the character had never before attained. Here’s where the character’s intentions come into consideration. If the thief voices a desire to seek a Restoration after suffering the energy-level drain, and if the thief actively pursues that goal during the next 16 (or perhaps more) days of his life, a kindly DM might defer the recording of experience points for that character, in effect “holding” the thief at first level so the Restoration (if it comes to pass) will have its intended effect. Experience gained in the meantime could then be applied to the character’s total after he has been restored to second level. But the same benefit should not accrue to a character who wasn’t Restoration-minded all along. If the thief only starts to think about being restored after he happens to run across enough cash to pay for the spell casting, the experience he has gained in the meantime should not be deferred for later application — the points are applied right after they are earned, and if the thief’s current XP total exceeds the 1,250 upper limit for first level, he can’t be restored no matter how much he pays. 
 9DR043 Dragon #43 According to the Players Handbook (page 27) thieves can be neutral good, but Sage Advice (TD #35) says that thieves cannot be good. Which is correct?  The Players Handbook — but remember, good thieves should be very rare. 
 10DR056 Dragon #56 According to the Players Handbook, a bard is permitted to wear magical chain mail and carry a bastard sword, but a thief cannot use either. Can a bard employ these things while using thieving abilities without penalty?  Yes — assuming, of course, that the bard has attained proficiency with the sword. One of the significant benefits of becoming a bard is the ability to use armor and weapons not normally usable by a thief, and still be able to perform the various thieving abilities. All that’s necessary to properly play a bard with respect to this is to interpret the Players Handbook literally: A bard is able to use any of the armor and weapon types listed as permitted to the class, and a bard is able to function as a thief of the level which the character attained while pursuing that profession. Nothing in the description given in the Players Handbook puts any limitations or restrictions on either of these characteristics. The bard is an exceptional character class, for truly exceptional characters who are able to attain and accomplish things which are beyond the ability of “normal” characters. 
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