Tales from the Yawning Portal
in the world's greatest roleplaying game.
Amid the bustle of Waterdeep, where barristers, nobles, and emissaries battle with word and contract, stands an inn not quite like any other. Built around the only entrance into the dangerous Undermountain, the Yawning Portal is a place rife with adventure and story.
Adventurers from across Faerun visit the Yawning Portal to exchange knowledge about Undermountain and other dungeons. Most visitors are content to swap stories by the hearth, but sometimes a group driven by greed, ambition, or desperation pays the toll for entry and descends the well.
There, too, you can find a nameless bard who, for but a copper, will twist your ear and tell you the story of the Order of the Fox. Listen in to their bravery, as he retells their quest into seven deadly dungeons in search of riches, fame, and knowledge untold.
Tales from the Yawning Portal is a weekly game of Dungeons & Dragons told on the Society of Silliness discord. The game runs most Thursdays from 7 PM Pacific for approximately four hours each week, retelling the tale of the Order of the Fox. All prospective players and listeners are welcome, so long as they abide by the rules and restrictions laid out in this handbook.
The dungeon master for this story is Kevin Kragenbrink, also known as Damned Mage. He has been running D&D consistently for almost twenty years, and although this game is not his traditional open-world style, he encourages players to come, enjoy themselves, and think creatively about how to solve the problems facing the Order of the Fox in this rendition of their story.
Table of Contents
- 1 Introduction
- 2 I. Table Policies
- 2.1 Basic Etiquette
- 2.2 Game Knowledge
- 2.3 DM Integrity
- 2.4 Player Selection
- 3 II. Rules Changes
- 4 III. The Order of the Fox
I. Table Policies
The following rules of basic etiquette are expected of all players who come to or listen to Tales from the Yawning Portal on our discord. None of these rules are meant to impact gameplay; only player behaviour.
Keep it Friendly
Remember that everyone is here to have fun and tell a story together. Leave your personal disagreements or opinions out of the channel; no one wants to listen to you fighting with other players.
Keep it Quiet
Nothing ruins the fun of others more than the sound of you chewing, your kids playing in the background, or other such background noises. If you cannot be in a quiet location, then make sure your mic is set to push-to-talk, or is otherwise muted when you're not talking.
Keep it to the Game
Four hours a week isn't a lot of time to tell these stories, and the DM wants to get a lot done each week so that the story can progress at a steady pace. Anecdotes about the time you played some other game are fun, but inappropriate during this session.
Keep the DM in Mind
When the GM is explaining something, don't talk over him or interrupt him unless it's an emergency. Questions are encouraged, but hold them for a time when the DM isn't in the middle of talking.
Keep it on Time
If you want to play, you have to be on time. Players will be chosen at or close to 7 PM. If you're not there on time, you won't be chosen.
Keep it Heroic
The Order of the Red Fox are a group of heroes, eager to be heroic. But remember, good heroes work together; that's why they can beat the bad guys. The Order of the Fox is a group of heroes, and each of them knows when to step aside and let another take the lead.
Tales from the Yawning Portal accepts new players as readily as old, and some of you will come to the table with knowledge of either the dungeons or the monsters in it. Using this knowledge is called metagaming. Below are the rules for metagaming at this table.
If you know something about the monsters you're fighting, then whichever member of the Order of the Fox you're portaying also knows that information, and remembers it. There is no need to roll for that sort of information. However, the Order of the Fox can't predict the future, so your character should never know what's around the corner unless they've scouted it out, first.
The Order of the Fox works well together, which means they communicate as needed. You are welcome to talk as much as you want during combat, sharing strategies or ideas while you fight. Just remember to keep it In Character, and remember that the monsters can hear you speaking.
The DM prefers to keep everything in the open: rolls, rules, adjudications, and decisions. He's not perfect; however. Sometimes, he's going to make mistakes, or used fiat to change something on the fly in order to promote a better story or to keep things moving. Here are some guidelines about how this will be used, and what you can do about it:
Questions are Always Welcome
If you don't understand something, you should always feel welcome to ask. The DM will make it a point to answer your questions honestly to the best of his ability.
If you think the DM has made a mistake, feel free to challenge him. He'll take the time to look things up (once) and reconsider his decision. After that, leave it alone until after game; there's no sense taking time during the game to argue.
Each week, play begins promptly at 7 PM Pacific. If there are not 5 players present at this time, the game will be canceled for the week. If the DM is busy, the game may also be canceled. If there are more than 5 players present, the DM will select 5 players semi-randomly, preferring players who have not played before, then players who have proven the best at storytelling in this medium.
II. Rules Changes
Death and Dying
The Order of the Fox has many heroic tales to tell. If a character dies to a bad roll, that character will be unavailable for a session while they recover from their injuries. Death will not be final in this story unless there is good story reason to make it so.
Facing and positioning play an important role in combat. The following rules add mechanical benefits to positioning and facing.
Rather than using squares and a grid, you are free to move freely in any direction during your turn. Movement is measured in feet, rather than in squares. Your reach and facing determine how far away an opponent must be to attack them.
To determine whether one character can reach another, draw an imaginary line between the two closest points of their tokens. If this line is less than 2 feet, the characters can reach one another.
Some weapons and monsters can reach an additional distance. Add that number to the line, above, to determine how close they must be to another creature to attack them.
Your token has a distinct "face"; that is to say, it has one side which is considered the "front" arc. This is marked with a squared corner on that part of the token. Your token is then divided into 4 equally sized "arcs": the front, left, right, and rear arc.
If you attack a creature while in its rear arc, you have advantage on the attack roll. You cannot gain advantage from flanking.
Shields apply their AC bonus only to the front arc, and the arc on the same side as the shield. Some creatures, such as oozes or slimes, may not have a face. These creatures treat all arcs as their front arc.
During your turn, you may choose to change your token's facing as a free action with no limitations.
As a reaction, you can change your facing in response to another creature moving, or if your token is moved.
Attacking and Threat
You may make attacks into your front, left, or right arc. You cannot see anything in your rear arc, and you do not threaten anything in that arc. You do not provoke Opportunity Attacks moving into a creature's rear arc.
Characters will be leveled by the Dungeon Master when it is appropriate to the story, rather than when a certain amount of experience is attained. Players are welcome to provide feedback to the DM on how a character might progress, but should not assume ownership of the character's long-term leveling.
The following rule variants are being used.
Climb onto a Bigger Creature
A suitably large opponent can be treated as terrain for the purpose of jumping onto its back or clinging to a limb. After making any ability checks necessary to get into position and onto the larger creature, the smaller creature uses its action to make a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check contested by the target's Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If it wins the contest, the smaller creature successfully moves into the target creature's space and clings to its body. While in the target's space, the smaller creature moves with the target and has advantage on attack rolls against it.
The smaller creature can move around within the larger creature's space, treating the space as difficult terrain. The larger creature's ability to attack the smaller creature depends on the smaller creature's location, and is left to your discretion. The larger creature can dislodge the smaller creature as an action- knocking it off, scraping it against a wall, or grabbing and throwing it- by making a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the smaller creature's Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. The smaller creature chooses which ability to use.
A creature can use a weapon attack to knock a weapon or another item from a target's grasp. The attacker makes an attack roll contested by the target's Strength (Athletics) check or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If the attacker wins the contest, the attack causes no damage or other ill effect, but the defender drops the item.
The attacker has disadvantage on its attack roll if the target is holding the item with two or more hands. The target has advantage on its ability check if it is larger than the attacking creature, or disadvantage if it is smaller.
When a ranged attack misses a target that has cover, you can use this optional rule to determine whether the cover was struck by the attack.
First, determine whether the attack roll would have hit the protected target without the cover. If the attack roll falls within a range low enough to miss the target but high enough to strike the target if there had been no cover, the object used for cover is struck. If a creature is providing cover for the missed creature and the attack roll exceeds the AC of the covering creature, the covering creature is hit.
When a creature makes a melee attack, it can also mark its target. Until the end of the attacker's next turn, any opportunity attack it makes against the marked target has advantage. The opportunity attack doesn't expend the attacker's reaction, but the attacker can't make the attack if anything, such as the incapacitated condition or the shocking grasp spell, is preventing it from taking reactions. The attacker is limited to one opportunity attack per turn.
When a creature tries to move through a hostile creature's space, the mover can try to force its way through by overrunning the hostile creature. As an action or a bonus action, the mover makes a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the hostile creature's Strength (Athletics) check. The creature attempting the overrun has advantage on this check if it is larger than the hostile creature, or disadvantage if it is smaller. If the mover wins the contest, it can move through the hostile creature's space once this turn.
With this option, a creature uses the special shove attack from the Player's Handbook to force a target to the side, rather than away. The attacker has disadvantage on its Strength (Athletics) check when it does so. If that check is successful, the attacker moves the target 5 feet to a different space within its reach.
A creature can try to tumble through a hostile creature's space, ducking and weaving past the opponent. As an action or a bonus action, the tumbler makes a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check contested by the hostile creature's Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If the tumbler wins the contest, it can move through the hostile creature's space once this turn.
III. The Order of the Fox
"Hey, don't worry about it. I've got a plan."
Like most halflings, your parents were travelers, always moving from one place to the next: exploring, trading, and enjoying the freedom of the road.
When you were still a boy, you caught a group of bandits threatening to destroy the dam near one of the towns you lived near. If they'd succeeded, the entire town would have been washed away, but using your cleverness, you delayed their sabotage long enough for the town watch to arrive.
That heroic feeling has stuck with you since, and you've constantly wanted to relive it. You became an adventurer, using your wits, brawn, and body to take on tasks others are afraid to take, in order to be the big damned hero.
Over time, your bravery and willingness to rush into danger have earned you steady companions, all of whom look to you as leader.
"It's just metal and stone. Inconsequential materials beside the Weave."
You didn't fit in. While other dwarves were learning the art of blade and hammer, you learned cantrips. While other dwarves became experts in masonry and stonework, you leaned towards metamagic and rituals. Certainly, you are physically strong and fully capable with the warhammer you swing, but you are far more interested in wielding a fireball than in improving your hammerplay.
As you grew older, the ridicule became professional, rather than simply discourteous. You sought out to become a master of lore and gems in the Rift, but your business received ridicule and vandalism as a regular course.
Unable to continue your trade among your own kind, you left--in search of both profit, and also the magic required to return home and prove them all wrong.
You've wound up in Oakhurst, where Kard and his band of allies took you in readily, accepting your quirks and appreciating your knowledge and talents. You will get home someday, but for now it is enough to practice your lore and magics in Kard's company, and to practice your gemcraft when you're not doing that.
"Let me tell you a story ..."
You were born in the small town of Oakhurst, just a few days ride from Baldur's Gate in Faerun. Like many so close to Baldur's Gate, you grew up hearing tales of the massive library at Candlekeep, nearby.
You thirsted for those stories; both for the hearing, and the opportunity to retell them. As you grew, so too did your ability to tell and retell and spin those stories to your audience's delight.
Several years ago, you met up with a young halfling whose own life seemed to dominate local lore, and you've followed Kard Foxbrush ever since, using his adventures as an excuse to write your own stories and poems, and always in the hopes of finding a rare tome of lore so that you too might take your place in the halls of Candlekeep.
"Men lie with their mouths and speak truths with their eyes. I follow the eyes."
You were born into House Irith, the youngest daughter of the Lord of Oakhurst. Like all noble children, you grew up learning to read and to write, as well as more suitable pastimes: hunting, horseback riding, other such sports.
Yet despite all of this upbringing, you railed against the lies that lived within the structure of nobility. You could not stand to smile when you hated someone, nor to laugh at jokes that weren't funny. You often spoke your mind, much to your family's chagrin.
But despite this, you believed strongly in your obligation to help and aid the people under your father's rule. You were not born better, you simply were given more opportunities, and that gave you a responsibility to act on the opportunities others did not have.
Your family was secretly relieved when you told them you were going to join Kard Foxbrush on his many adventures--not because they wanted to see you come to harm, but because at least out in the wilds, with Chauntea's blessings, you could bring some measure of respect to the family name.
"Come into the Darque."
You are not a criminal. Despite the wanted posters, and the guard in Baldur's Gate always on the lookout for your face, you never actually committed the crimes you were accused of. That doesn't make you any less a fugitive, however.
Given you didn't actually do any of the things you were accused of, leaving town seemed like the best idea. And while you never really wanted to be much of a hero, it behooves you to ensure that the local populace here in Oakhurst has reason to back you up in case the good people of Baldur's Gate come looking.That means being a hero. Luckily, the local town hero--Kard Foxbrush--didn't ask questions when you offered to back him up, and he's been a strong ally and solid leader ever since. Maybe being a hero won't be so bad.