The Dungeon Master's Guide

More Difficult Item Identification

Ordinarily, when you spend a short rest meditating on a magic item, you uncover all properties of said item. This is how identifying magic items worked in my Phandelver campaign. I’m now making magic item identification more difficult. Here is what I will tell you if you meditate on a magic item over a short rest:

  1. Whether the item requires attunement, and whether the holder is able to attune to it
  2. Whether the item is one-time use, has limited charges that recharge each day (and how many it currently has), or confers a passive effect
  3. How to activate the item, if applicable (and how many charges doing so would use)

I may not, however, tell you what the item actually does.

An Intelligence (Arcana) check by the person who meditated on the item may provide a clue as to the item’s function. Some passive effects of the item may also provide clues. For example, if you don a ring of jumping, I may tell you you feel a spring in your step. The only way to obtain all properties of the item is by casting the spell identify, which is a 1st level bard and wizard spell.

Mixing Potions

If you mix two different potions, or drink a second potion while still under the effects of the first, stuff might happen! There’s about a 2:1 ratio of Good Stuff to Bad Stuff that might happen. The potion might explode, or have its effect made permanent, or anything in between.

Spell Scrolls

  • You can use an action to read a scroll. If the scroll contains a spell that is on your class’s spell list, you can read it and learn what spell it contains. Otherwise, it appears to be gibberish.
  • If the spell is of a level such that you could cast it, you can activate the scroll to cast the spell without issue. Doing so takes one action and consumes no materials, regardless of the spell’s usual casting time or material components.
  • If it is of a higher level than you could ordinarily cast, you can still attempt to activate it. If you are a spellcaster, but the spell is not on your class’s spell list, you can attempt to activate it blindly. Either way, make a DC 10 + spell level ability check with your spellcasting ability. If you are trying to activate it blindly, you have disadvantage on this check.
    • On success, the spell goes off without issue.
    • On a failure, the spell fails, and you must make a DC 10 Intelligence save. On a failed save, stuff happens, ranging in effect from harmless (instead of casting fireball, you get smoke billowing out your ears) to deadly (instead of casting fireball at your enemy, you cast fireball centered on yourself).

Additional Action Options

Various actions you may take in combat are listed on page 176 (pdf) or page 192 (book) of The Player’s Handbook. This list is non-exhaustive, for as a player you can attempt any action you can think of. However, The Dungeon Master’s Guide includes some additional combat actions to consider, as follows:

  • Climb onto bigger creatures – You make a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (your choice) contested by the target’s Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If you succeed and the target is suitably large, you can climb onto it and move around on its body as difficult terrain. The larger creature may still be able to attack or knock you off.
  • Disarm – The attacker makes an attack roll that is contested by the defender’s Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If the attacker wins the defender is disarmed and the weapon falls to the defender’s feet. The attacker’s roll is at disadvantage if the defender is holding a weapon in two hands. The defender’s roll is at advantage if it is larger than its attacker or disadvantage if it is smaller.
  • Overrun – You attempt to push through a hostile creature’s space. Make a contested Strength (Athletics) check, made with advantage if you are larger than the target, and disadvantage it you are smaller. If you win, you can move through that opponent’s space once that turn, and it has disadvantage on opportunity attacks against you for that round.
  • Shove aside – This functions as the special shove attack (see The Player’s Handbook), except you shove the target 5 feet to the side, rather than away. If you choose to do this, you have disadvantage on the roll.
  • Tumble – You attempt to tumble through a hostile creature’s space. Make a contested Dexterity (Acrobatics) check, made with advantage if you are smaller than the target, and disadvantage it you are larger. If you win, you can move through that opponent’s space once that turn, and it has disadvantage on opportunity attacks against you for that round.

Cleaving Through Creatures

If your mêlée attack reduces an undamaged creature to zero hit points in one blow, then any excess damage carries over to another target within reach (as long as the initial attack roll was high enough to hit the second target). For example, a standard goblin has 7 hit points. If three attack the PC barbarian and the barbarian hits one goblin for 18 damage, then that one blow will kill two goblins and inflict 4 damage on the third. This only applies if the foes are unwounded to begin with. You have to make a mighty swing that kills in one blow.


If you and at least one ally are on exactly opposite sides of a common enemy, you both have advantage on attack rolls against that enemy. A creature can’t flank an enemy that it can’t see. A creature also can’t flank while it is incapacitated. A Large or larger creature is flanking as long as at least one square or hex of its space qualifies for flanking. Be advised that enemies also use this rule, and intelligent enemies will attempt to flank you as well.

The Dungeon Master's Guide

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