Sage Advice Collection

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 121DR043 Dragon #43 Under the Robe of Eyes description in the Dungeon Masters Guide it says that a person wearing the robe can track as a 12th-level Ranger. What is the difference in tracking ability between a 1st-level Ranger and a 12th-level Ranger? I saw none in the Players Handbook.  there is no difference. The description of the robe is wrong, and will be corrected in future DMG editions. 
 122DR043 Dragon #43 Does alignment change always require loss of a level?  Yes. See page 25, Dungeon Masters Guide. 
 123DR044 Dragon #44 May a character’s ability be increased beyond maximum racial abilities (Players Handbook, page 15) by magical means (i.e. Manual of Quickness of Action, Wish, etc.)?  Using the interpretation from page 11 of the Dungeon Masters Guide, it is perfectly acceptable to raise scores above maximum racial limits when using magic. If such were not the case, spells like the second-level Magic-User spell Strength would be useless. 
 124DR044 Dragon #44 May a character cast a spell by reading aloud from his spell book?  Absolutely not! The spell books do not contain the power of, say, a scroll with a spell on it; they are a means for the M-U to enable himself to retain a number of magic spells at a single time. Within the framework of each spell are gestures and moves that must be done in a special sequence, as well as materials that must be employed while making the incantation. Simply reading a spell from the spell book will not cause it to be cast while the other conditions of the spell remain unfulfilled. 
 125DR044 Dragon #44 Is it okay for a Monk (Lawful Neutral) to sneak up on an opponent and then backstab? (Is this act chaotic? Is this evil?)  The act of killing a victim without knowing if he/she is truly an enemy (in other words, killing a complete stranger without knowing if he/she presents a threat) is a chaotic act. The act of killing an opponent with the knowledge that there is some other way to overcome him/her is an evil act. It would seem permissible for the Lawful Neutral Monk (or any other similarly aligned being) to attack a known enemy from the back, when circumstances make it necessary to kill that foe. 
 126DR044 Dragon #44 Exactly what is involved when a creature is subdued? Unconsciousness? Surrender? Does it apply to player characters?  First of all (from the DMG, page 67)‚ player characters cannot ever be “subdued” in the sense of forced surrender. The process of subduing involves attacks on creatures of semi-intelligence and higher, in an attempt to instill fear in the mind of the creature being attacked that it could be killed by its opponent(s). Subduing does only 25% of its damage in the form of actual damage (loss of hit points), and the act of subduing will therefore not drive a creature to unconsciousness. Creatures which are successfully subdued will be fearful of the characters who did the damage to them, and will obey those characters (according to the nature of the creature), out of fear of being punished further. This type of control is dangerous to try to maintain for a long time, because when the subduers show signs of weakness or when the subdued creature reaches a condition of maximum health once again, the once-subdued creature may attack. 
 127DR044 Dragon #44 Do Bards get bonus spells for Wisdom?  Yes. 
 128DR044 Dragon #44 Are longbows or composite longbows permissible for use underground?  It is theoretically possible to use any sort of weapon underground if the conditions are proper. We know of a campaign which includes catapults manned by orcs in large underground caverns. The use of a longbow or composite longbow underground would involve some inherent problems that should be evident to any DM (or bow carrier) worth his salt — but they can be used. 
 129DR044 Dragon #44 When a character is in a dungeon, the passage of time is usually quicker than normal. But when you take a character “out of action” to learn a new language, for example, does normal time apply to the character?  With respect to a character, all activities are defined in terms of “game time.” Review page 37 of the DMG for a full explanation of time. 
 130DR046 Dragon #46 If a Magic-User casts a Shape Change spell and turns into a huge, ancient red dragon, will he have an 88-point breath weapon or will the breath weapon do his own hit points in damage?  The breath weapon will have strength equal to the hit points of the Magic-User. In the description of the Shape Change spell (Players Handbook, page 93), it is noted that a creature whose form is assumed by the spell caster will “have whatever hit points the magic-user has at the time of the shape change.” 
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