How many enemies will challenge my party of four 1st-level characters, but not result in certain death?

I was asked to DM for a one-shot with people wanting to try and learn the game. I have created a not-too-complicated world in which they can run around and interact with its inhabitants.

The problem I face is the number and strength of foes that can be encountered. How do I prepare a challenge to the players while they learn the game? I want them to be a little afraid while still having chance of saving the town/rescuing the princess or prince/find the treasure.

  • These are completely new players, there will be 4 of them.
  • They will play level 1 characters: a paladin, barbarian, rogue and sorcerer.
  • I play a separate campaign with other people but have never been a DM before.
  • We expect to play for about 4 hours – unless everyone is having fun and wants to continue, of course.
  • Based on decisions, the enemies will be either goblins or pirates. I tend to keep these enemies around the same level.
  • I would like to introduce one “boss” in the shape of a goblin chief/pirate captain.

How many enemies, based on the information above, would make for a balanced and fun game? I don’t really want everyone to bite the dust on their first game ever, but also want to keep it interesting at the same time.

Is a 1st-level sha’ir/1st-level anima mage possible?

It’s possible for a 1st-level character to qualify for the anima mage prestige class (Tome of Magic) by taking 4 ranks in Intimidate along with Bind Vestige (ibid), Improved Bind Vestige (ibid), Precocious Apprentice (Complete Arcane), and any one metamagic feat. Accruing all those feats requires a bonus racial feat (e.g. human) as well as two flaws (Unearthed Arcana). This is discussed in detail here.

Noted there, however, is the requirement that you have Intimidate as a class skill—and you can’t get it from a feat (even if you had another feat to spare) because feats are selected last in the character-creation process, after your skills are already decided. And in any event, this character doesn’t have another feat to spare.

This is a problem because sha’ir—the class I’d like to take into anima mage—lacks Intimidate as a class skill (Dragon Compendium). Wizards are able to get around this limitation by being enchanters who take the social proficiency alternate class feature (Unearthed Arcana), but as far as I know, there is nothing similar for sha’ir.

Barring high shenanigans like level drain abuse, retraining misuse, or manipulate form in its entirety, is there any way for a 1st-level sha’ir to qualify for anima mage, and wind up a 1st-level sha’ir/1st-level anima mage? This must actually be an ECL 2nd character, so RHD or LA are out.

What I’m basically hoping for is that I’m wrong that there’s no ACF that works for sha’ir here, or else to find out that there’s some way, perhaps, to cause 2 cross-class ranks in Intimidate to retroactively become 4 (while still being 1st level). Stuff for bonus ranks would work, only I’m pretty sure there’s only one of those in the game (and it would require two more feats in any event).

Any 3.5e materials published either by Wizards of the Coast or in Dragon or Dungeon magazines (including 3e material in the same that would be legal in a 3.5e game) is legal. Anything that requires leveling up within a narrow window is heavily frowned upon. Any outside assistance (including magic items created by others) must come from a legal E6 character.

How powerful can a 20th-level Wizard make a 1st-level Fighter without allowing him to realize it is the Wizard’s doing?

A 20th level Wizard makes a bet with another 20th level Wizard – he has to make his grandson succeed on a difficult mission. Without allowing his grandson (a first level Fighter) or his grandson’s compatriots (a first level Rogue, Bard, and Druid) to realize that the Wizard is secretly aiding them, or doing anything to defeat their foes directly, or helping anyone but his grandson (these are all terms of the bet).

To clarify –

  • This Wizard can cast spells on his grandson, only. He can’t Dominate the monsters or Disintegrate locked doors.
  • His grandson has to defeat the challenges (the Wizard can’t even weaken them).
  • Neither his grandson, or any of his party members, can realize or even suspect that someone is aiding them.

Luckily the grandson and his entire party not only lack Spellcraft but also Knowledge: Arcana. However they don’t lack basic induction – suddenly being able to fly or shoot fireballs is likely to raise their suspicion. A magic sword left leaning casually against a door would certainly count as a fail.

So given this situation, with a level 20 Wizard who is unafraid to spend resources to win this bet with his buddy (xp, magic items, scrolls, favours) what can he do to make his grandson’s party succeed at an adventure that may have CR 5-6 encounters or worse?

For the sake of this example, assume the wizard has access to whatever feats, spells, or wealth he needs to achieve this difficult task – he’s using optimization tricks to rebuild or has his own time-slowed demiplane or whatever, he’s a Tricky Wizard and not just a fireball-slinger.

What happens if a 2nd-level spell appears in (or is added to) a character’s spell list as a 1st-level spell?

In the latest Unearthed Arcana: Class Feature Variants, one of the [many] included additions/changes is the addition of a few spells to the Ranger’s spell list. One of these changes is to add the 2nd-level spell, Aid, to the Ranger’s spell list as a 1st-level spell.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that this isn’t just an obvious typo in playtest material, and actually constitutes a serious, intentional design decision:
How would this be adjudicated? Would Rangers be able to cast the Aid spell using only a 1st-level spell slot?

Can an Eldritch Knight replace their 1st-level spell acquired through Magic Initiate (Wizard)? [duplicate]

This question already has an answer here:

  • Can spells from the Magic Initiate feat be swapped out for different ones? 2 answers

“Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the wizard spells you know with another spell of your choice from the wizard spell list. The new spell must be of a level for which you have spell slots, and it must be an abjuration or evocation spell, unless you’re replacing the spell you gained at 3rd, 8th, 14th, or 20th level from any school of magic.”

(The above is found on page 75 of the PHB. I’m using that for reference because not everyone may have access to it online, such as a DNDBeyond link.)

So, I’ve got a few questions here…

  1. If you choose the wizard version of the Magic Initiate feat and know a wizard spell that way, can you replace it at a higher level if you were so inclined?
  2. And if so, would replacing it be limited by the archetype’s spellcasting feature, or would you be able to pick any spell since you learned it via extraordinary means?

I DM on the regular and know how I’d rule at the table (“yes” and “limited”), but I’m curious to see if the community knows something I don’t.

How many spells would a 1st-level Wizard be able to prepare per day?

If I have a 1st level wizard with an Intelligence modifier of +3 (and therefore 6 spells known in my spellbook, plus all the cantrips for my chosen school of magic), exactly how many spells could I prepare to cast if I were a universalist school wizard?

I realize this may seem a simple question but, after a lot of searching on the internet I have found many conflicting responses.

Am I correct, for example, in assuming that I could prepare a total of 3 cantrips and 2 1st level spells per day maximum (plus I’d also get the hand of apprentice ability x6 uses day and my arcane bonded item for 1 free choice of spell cast from spellbook)?

Can a 1st-level character have an ability score above 18?

I was playing with a DM that says the rules state that you cannot have a 1st-level character with an ability score above 18. I didn’t want to argue so I made it work. I cannot find that rule anywhere.

We are using the “roll 4d6 for each ability score, drop the lowest” method of generating ability scores.

Is there a rule that states a 1st-level character cannot have an ability score above 18?

Is this homebrew Spiritual Inquiry spell, an adjustment of Speak with Dead to be lower level, balanced as a 1st-level spell?

I feel as though necromancers have little undeath-related spells below 3rd level. Only necrotic damage. I wanted to change that.

While it is relatively simple to extrapolate up and down in spell levels for spells like fireball and burning hands, both because of the “at higher levels” section of the spell and because you can compare to existing spells when determining damage, it is not simple with spells like speak with dead.

Speak with dead does not provide options for higher and lower levels, and I believe this to be because the ability to ask open-ended questions is inherently strong enough that, even with only 1 or 2 questions, it would be a gimme at lower levels. That being said, I think I’ve thought up a way to mitigate some of that:

Spiritual Inquiry

1st-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: 10 feet

Components: V, S, M (burning incense)

Duration: 1 minute

You reach to the spirit of a corpse within range, allowing it to answer a single yes or no question. The corpse must still have a mouth and can’t be undead. The spell fails if the corpse was the target of this spell or speak with dead within the last 10 days.

Until the spell ends, you may ask the corpse one question that it may only answer with a “yes”, “no”, or “I don’t know”. The corpse knows only what it knew in life, including the languages it knew. The corpse is under no compulsion to give you a truthful answer if you are hostile or it recognizes you as an enemy. This spell doesn’t return the creature’s soul to its body, only its animating spirit. Thus, the corpse can’t learn new information, doesn’t comprehend anything that has happened since it died, and can’t speculate about future events.

Is 1st level appropriate for this spell? If not, what makes it too strong or weak?

What treasure could be in a vampire’s tomb for a 1st-level party?

I created a D&D 5e module. There is an ancient vampire’s tomb as the module endpoint. The tomb was opened by a random human who dug through a cave wall near a tomb the day before the players arrived. The ancient vampire that lived there made him his spawn and flew away, because there is a lot of water in the cave (to save a 1st-level party of 4 PCs from it).

The player characters could meet the wet damaged Vampire Spawn as the boss. I am not sure if they could fight it or not, because they just ignored all plot hooks about water.

If they do fight it, there should be some nice loot here, but what kind of loot could be in the ancient vampire’s tomb for a 1st-level party? I realized that I just didn’t think about this when I created the plot. I am even not sure that the vampire should have any loot inside his tomb except his stone coffin.