I Can Feel it in my Beard
During a 5e game with an old-school tone, our 5th level party found itself in a difficult fight. Thanks to a combination of poor decision making, bad die rolls, and mind flayers, the Half-Orc Barbarian found himself dead, and the player had no interest in a new character. Raise Dead, of course, states explicitly that it won’t regrow missing organs and will automatically fail if the body is missing any essential parts.
After the predictable jokes about the Half-Orc never having used his brain anyway (mind flayers!) we scraped together enough gold for a full-blown resurrection, only to be told that no one in the area could cast it. But, we knew, there was a conclave of Druids nearby with whom the group had a good relationship. And Druids, of course, can cast Reincarnation.
The Half-Orc’s player put his fate (and the party’s gold) in the hands of a single die roll and was reincarnated… as a mountain Dwarf.
After some discussion, it was agreed that the stat modifiers and most other Dwarfish characteristics should be retained (mountain Dwarves and Half-Orcs are surprisingly similar in that regard, anyway) but a few of the racial traits struck us as more a consequence of nurture than of nature. So the reincarnated Half-Orc—now a Dwarf—was allowed to retain his prowess where critical hits are concerned, but could not speak Dwarven. Nor did he possess that race’s particular insight where stonework was concerned. A good trade for the player, overall, but one with unexpectedly entertaining consequences.
Not a month after his return to the living, the party were examining a massive door to a long-forgotten tomb. The DM asked exactly what we were doing, and the now-Dwarf’s player replied nonchalantly, “I’ll get a good close look at the stone frame around the door.”
The DM came back at once with, “You barely touch the stone when a cold jolt goes up your arm and down your spine. It’s icy—you even feel the cold in the roots of your beard.”
Nothing outrageous about that—we were already expecting who-knows-what in the way of spells or undead denizens of the tomb, but the newly-minted Dwarf’s player decided to run with it.
“Holy cow guys! I think my Stonecunning is finally starting to work! I can feel it in my beard! What else can I tell about the door?”
Never one to miss a chance for a cheap laugh, the Wizard thought it would be great fun to contribute to the Dwarf’s confusion. “I cast prestidigitation. It says here I can create ‘a minor sensory experience.’ I make the stone smell… I don’t know. Really old.”
“This is truly an ancient burial place, friends. Be cautious!”
This lead immediately to a dungeon exploration that fell into a consistent pattern.
Dwarf: Let me get a good look at that stone. Hmmmm . . .
Wizard: I quietly cast prestidigitation and make the stone feel particularly smooth to the touch.
Dwarf: This . . . this is some good stone everyone. Very well worked. We are headed the right direction, I can feel it in my beard! This Stonecunning is really useful! I wonder what else I can do?
DM: 17 on the perception check huh? OK, Dwarf, you hear the sound of running water somewhere in the distance.
Wizard: More prestidigitation! I give him a momentary feeling of vertigo.
Dwarf: I think the floor slopes downwards here! Perhaps to an underground river? We must be cautious. Luckily you have me along to guide you!
The game goes on this way still. Perhaps someday the Dwarf (née Half-Orc) will get wise and the Wizard will need a Reincarnation himself. Until then, the party moves on, laughing up their sleeves at the reincarnated Half-Orc and his voyage of self-discovery.