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Zacchaeus Corner: 5e Effects

Community member Zacchaeus has really gotten involved in the D&D 5e system and has begun writing some helpful articles for GMs and players wanting to get the most out of this amazing ruleset on Fantasy Grounds. In this article Zacchaeus talks about one of the hottest topics – 5e Effects!

One of the most powerful features of the built in 5e ruleset is effects. It is also, judging by the number of forum posts, the area where most users find the learning curve steepest. In Fantasy Grounds an effect is anything which gives the character either a bonus or penalty of some kind to a dice roll they are about to make or to all dice rolls of a specified type for a specified duration. In order for the effect to be properly executed the character must be on the Combat Tracker (CT) and either they or another actor must make a dice roll which involves the character. In other words effects are checked when a character attacks, does damage, makes a saving throw (including death saves) or makes an ability check. Effects are also checked when that same character is attacked, or damaged or has a saving throw or ability check forced on him (such as from a spell).

In this short article let’s take a look at just one of the possible modifiers that you can use to create effects the ATK modifier. As its name suggests this modifies a character’s attack roll. Normally an attack is made by rolling a d20 but a variety of situations and spells can add or subtract from the number rolled.

Let’s start with a simple example, where the character has a spell cast on him which gives him a +1 to hit. This effect is written ‘ATK: 1’ (without the quotes). In longhand this is telling Fantasy Grounds to add 1 to the d20 dice roll when a player rolls to attack. The value after the modifier ATK can be a number or a dice value and either can be positive or negative. So we could have all of the following ATK: -1d6, ATK: 4, ATK: -2, ATK: 1d4.

The format as you can see is always the modifier (ATK) followed by a colon ‘:’ followed by the value ‘1d4’.

We can also specify a player’s attribute bonus as the value for the modifier. The format for this is ‘ATK: [XXX]’, where XXX represents STR, DEX, CON, INT, WIS or CHA. ‘ATK: [WIS]’ will add the players Wisdom modifier (whether positive or negative) to the attack roll. We can also use the negative form ‘ATK: [-WIS]’ to reduce the roll by a specific ability modifier. We can even modify the attribute by halving or doubling it; ‘ATK: [HWIS]’ will add half the wisdom modifier to the roll and ‘ATK: [2WIS] will add double the wisdom modifier.

In the case of ATK: 1d4 this will add a 1d4 to any attack roll that the player makes. However we can restrict this to just certain attacks by including a descriptor to the effect. Let’s say that we can only get a bonus on melee attacks; in that case our effect is written ‘ATK: 1d4, melee’. The descriptor is added after the value and separated by a comma ‘,’. Now when used on a character only melee attacks will benefit from the additional dice. If we substitute ‘ranged’ for ‘melee’ then only ranged attacks will get the benefit.

We can go even further and limit the benefit to only opportunity attacks. The format for this is ‘ATK: 1d4, opportunity’. Now FG needs to know when you are making an opportunity attack so when you make the attack hold down shift as you do so. If the player has the effect on him then he will get the bonus to the throw but otherwise nothing happens.

The following are all examples of effects which can be created using the ATK modifier

ATK: 1d4’ Will apply a 1d4 bonus to the attack roll.
ATK: [-STR]’ Will apply a negative equal to strength modifier to the attack
ATK: [-DEX], melee, opportunity’  –  will apply minus DEX modifier only to melee opportunity attacks.
ATK: 1d6, ranged’  – will apply a 1d6 bonus to only ranged attacks
ATK: [2CON], melee’ – will apply twice the CON modifier to any melee attack.

Hopefully this is useful in showing you the potential power behind the effects system in 5e.