Friday, October 19, 2018

Creature Loot: Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes S Part 2

My bugs! My bugs!
Creature Loot is back, and we're doing the rest of Mordankainen's S Monsters today. We're getting very close to the end now!

As usual, don't forget to check out the index, get the PDFs of the previous creature loot articles, and let me know if you see any items that have typos or could be improved!

Star Spawn

Star Spawn Grue (1/4) - aberration (arcana)
  • 1d4 Vials of Star Ichor: No immediate use. Can be crafted (alchemist's supplies) into a Potion of Psychic Resistance.

Star Spawn Hulk (10) - aberration (arcana)
  • 5d4 Vials of Star Ichor: No immediate use. Can be crafted (alchemist's supplies) into a Potion of Psychic Resistance.
  • 2 Translucent Star Spawn Hide: Acts as a translucent blanket. Can be mastercrafted (leatherworker's tools) into Chain Mail armor that is effectively invisible. While being worn, a creature must succeed on a DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check to determine the armor exists.
  • 1 Star Spawn Hulk Brain: When the brain is dealt psychic damage, it takes no damage, and each creature within 10 feet of the brain takes that damage instead. If the source of the damage is a spell with additional effects beyond damage, none of those effects carry over to the other creatures. The brain has AC 5 and 2 hit points.
  • 2d4 Star Spawn Teeth: No immediate use. Can be carefully crafted (alchemist's supplies) into a Potion of Frenzy. For one minute after the potion is consumed, a creature may choose to make up to 3 attacks with their attack action instead of the normal amount. Once the creature uses this ability (no matter how many attacks they choose to make), the potion's effect ends and the creature gains one level of exhaustion.

Star Spawn Larva Mage (16) - aberration (arcana)
Note: When the Larva Mage dies, it breaks into a Swarm of Insects. The Worms of the Larva Mage are only obtainable if the Swarm of insects is destroyed.
  • 6d4 Vials of Star Ichor: No immediate use. Can be crafted (alchemist's supplies) into a Potion of Psychic Resistance.
  • 3d4 Larva Mage's Scrolls: Contains Eldritch Writing on how to become a Star Spawn Larva Mage. A creature with class levels in Warlock can use a scroll to cast Augury, contacting the entity the Larva Mage served. However, when the spell is cast this way, instead of getting a random reading, there is a cumulative 25 percent chance that the entity overtakes the warlock's body and turns it into a Larva Mage. The Larva Mage becomes a hostile creature under the DM's control. Only a Wish spell can undo this transformation.
  • 5d6 Worms of the Larva Mage: A worm can be consumed as an action. For 1 minute, a creature that consumed a worm can use its reaction to gain 10 temporary hit points when another creature within 20 feet of it fails a saving throw.
  • 1 Sigil of an Eldritch Cult: Requires attunement. At the end of a long rest, a creature attuned to the Sigil must make a DC 15 Charisma saving throw. On the first failure, the attuned creature gains a special blessing related to the Elder Evil the cult worshiped (see MToF pg. 237 for examples). On the third failure, the creature is transformed into a Star Spawn Grue under the DM's control. Only a Wish spell can undo this transformation.
  • 1 Mask of an Eldritch Cult: Acts as an arcane focus for a Warlock, which requires attunement. When the attuned creature is reduced to 0 hit points, the mask is destroyed and the creature is transformed into a Swarm of Insects in the same space. If the swarm is not destroyed, the creature reforms from it 24 hours later.

Star Spawn Mangler (5) - aberration (arcana)
  • 2d4 Vials of Star Ichor: No immediate use. Can be crafted (alchemist's supplies) into a Potion of Psychic Resistance.
  • 2d10 Star Spawn Mangler Claws: Acts as a dagger. On a hit, if the attack roll has advantage, the dagger deals an additional 1d6 psychic damage.
  • 1d4 Star Spawn Teeth: No immediate use. Can be carefully crafted (alchemist's supplies) into a Potion of Frenzy. For one minute after the potion is consumed, a creature may choose to make up to 3 attacks with their attack action instead of the normal amount. Once the creature uses this ability (no matter how many attacks they choose to make), the potion's effect ends and the creature gains one level of exhaustion.

Star Spawn Seer (13) - aberration (arcana)
  • 1 Comet Staff: Requires attunement. Acts as a magic quarterstaff that deals an additional 2d8 psychic damage on a hit. An attuned creature can use the staff to make a Psychic Orb attack. The attack uses the creature's Intelligence modifier for its attack bonus, and deals 5d10 psychic damage on a hit. Once used, the staff cannot produce another Psychic Orb until the next dawn.
  • 5d4 Vials of Star Ichor: No immediate use. Can be crafted (alchemist's supplies) into a Potion of Psychic Resistance.
  • 3d4 Seer's Scrolls: Contains Eldritch Writing on how to become a Star Spawn Seer. A creature with class levels in Warlock can use a scroll to cast Augury, contacting the entity the Seer served. However, when the spell is cast this way, instead of getting a random reading, there is a cumulative 25 percent chance that the entity overtakes the warlock's body and turns it into a Star Spawn Seer. The Seer becomes a hostile creature under the DM's control. Only a Wish spell can undo this transformation.
  • 1 Sigil of an Eldritch Cult: Requires attunement. At the end of a long rest, a creature attuned to the Sigil must make a DC 15 Charisma saving throw. On the first failure, the attuned creature gains a special blessing related to the Elder Evil the cult worshiped (see MToF pg. 237 for examples). On the third failure, the creature is transformed into a Star Spawn Grue under the DM's control. Only a Wish spell can undo this transformation.
  • 1 Star Spawn Seer Brain: A creature holding the brain can destroy it as an action. When they do, they must make a DC 19 Wisdom saving throw. On a success, the creature, along with any equipment it is wearing or carrying, is magically teleported up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space it can see, and each other creature within 10 feet of the creature's original space take 3d12 psychic damage. On a failure, the creature holding the brain does not teleport, and takes 39 (6d12) psychic damage.
  • 2d4 Chunks of Out-of-Phase Star Spawn Flesh: Difficult to transport, must be held or contained in something that extends into the ethereal plane. A chunk of flesh can be pushed into the body of a creature. The creature takes 5 (1d10) psychic damage, and the chunk of flesh is destroyed.

Dwarves and Spiders. Who knew such a beautiful friendship could exist?

Female Steeder (1) - monstrosity (nature)
  • 1d4 Vials of Female Steeder Venom: Acts as a basic poison that deals 2d8 poison damage on a failed save.
  • 1d4 Sticky Legs: Acts as a club. A target hit by the club is stuck to the club and grappled by the wielder of the club.

Male Steeder (1/4) - monstrosity (nature)
  • 1d4 Vials of Male Steeder Venom: Acts as a basic poison that deals 1d8 poison damage on a failed save.

Steel Predator (16) - construct (arcana)
  • 5 Steel Predator Armor Plates: Acts as a shield. 2 of these can be mastercrafted (smith's tools) into Adamantine Plate Armor.
  • 3d10 Steel Predator Teeth: Acts as a magic adamantine dagger. 
  • 4d4 Steel Predator Claws: Acts as a magic adamantine shortsword.
  • 1 Modron Heart: A creature holding the heart can use it to cast Plane Shift as a ritual. The only destinations available to shift to using this spell are the plane of Primus or the city of Sigil. If a creature is already in one of these locations, they can only shift to the other.
  • 1 Extraplanar Tracking Orb: A creature holding the orb can make a DC 20 Intelligence (Arcana) check. On a failure, the Orb is indecipherable. On a success, the creature learns the direction and distance of the Steel Predator's Quarry even if they are not on the same plane of existence, and the location of the Steel Predator's creator. 
  • 1 Steel Predator Tail: Acts as a magic adamantine whip.
  • 1 Steel Predator Throat: No immediate use. Can be mastercrafted (smith's tools) into a Horn of Blasting. This particular horn only has a 10% chance of exploding.

I prefer the term "Stone Inclined"
Stone Cursed (1) - construct (arcana)
  • 1 Obsidian Skull: A small black skull found in the wreckage of a Stone Cursed. At the end of a short rest, a character can make a DC 20 Intelligence (Arcana) check to attempt to extract a memory from the skull, which is in response to a verbal question posed by the character to the skull. Once this check is made, whether it succeeds or fails, the skull can't be used in this manner again.
  • 1d4 Cursed Stones: Any number of stones can be carried by a single creature, but a creature can only be attuned to a single stone at a time. If a creature attuned to the stone is affected by a curse or possessed by a creature, the curse/possession targets the stone instead of the creature. The attunement immediately ends, and the stone loses the ability to attune to a new creature. If the stone becomes possessed by a creature, the creature can end its possession of the stone normally. Curse. At the end of each long rest, an attuned creature must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution saving throw, or it begins to turn to stone and is restrained until the end of its next turn, when it must repeat the saving throw. The effect ends if the second save is successful; otherwise the target is petrified for 24 hours.

Sword Wraith Commander (8) - undead (religion)
  • 1 Sword Wraith Breastplate: Somewhat incorporeal. Can only be used by the undead or those who have a special relationship with death.
  • 1 Sword Wraith Shield: Somewhat incorporeal. Can only be used by the undead or those who have a special relationship with death.
  • 1 Sword Wraith Longsword: Somewhat incorporeal. Can only be used by the undead or those who have a special relationship with death. Damage dealt by this weapon is magical for the purposes of overcoming resistances.
  • 1 Sword Wraith Longbow: Somewhat incorporeal. Can only be used by the undead or those who have a special relationship with death. Damage dealt by this weapon is magical for the purposes of overcoming resistances.
  • 2d4 Wisps of Shadow: Destroyed if exposed to sunlight. 5 of these can be carefully crafted (conjuration) by a spellcaster into a Shadow Crossing, a portal that leads to the Shadowfell. The portal is permanently affixed to the location where it is crafted. 20 of these can be mastercrafted (transmutation) by a spellcaster into a Portable Hole.
  • 1d4 Vials of Ectoplasm: No immediate use. Can be crafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a Potion of Invisibility or an Oil of Etherealness.
  • 1 Heart of the Sword Wraith Commander: Somewhat incorporeal. Can only be used by the undead or those who have a special relationship with death. Sword Wraiths within 30 feet of the heart have advantage on saving throws against effects that turn undead.

Sword Wraith Warrior (3) - undead (religion)
  • 1 Sword Wraith Chain Shirt: Somewhat incorporeal. Can only be used by the undead or those who have a special relationship with death.
  • 1 Sword Wraith Shield: Somewhat incorporeal. Can only be used by the undead or those who have a special relationship with death.
  • 1 Sword Wraith Longsword: Somewhat incorporeal. Can only be used by the undead or those who have a special relationship with death. Damage dealt by this weapon is magical for the purposes of overcoming resistances.
  • 1 Sword Wraith Longbow: Somewhat incorporeal. Can only be used by the undead or those who have a special relationship with death. Damage dealt by this weapon is magical for the purposes of overcoming resistances.
  • 1 Wisp of Shadow: Destroyed if exposed to sunlight. 5 of these can be carefully crafted (conjuration) by a spellcaster into a Shadow Crossing, a portal that leads to the Shadowfell. The portal is permanently affixed to the location where it is crafted. 20 of these can be mastercrafted (transmutation) by a spellcaster into a Portable Hole.
  • 1 Vial of Ectoplasm: No immediate use. Can be crafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a Potion of Invisibility or an Oil of Etherealness.

Well, that's all for now. And soon, all for forever! Perhaps. We'll see.
What you lookin' at

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Failed Magic Items: Dungeon Master's Guide Part 15 (T-V)

I'm running out of Google Image results for "Stupid Magic Items"
So here's a picture of a Mimic.

Greetings! Will here again for the second to last Failed Magic Items article for the DMG. This time we have items covering "T" through "V"

Let's get started!


Talisman of Absolute Neutrality
"Wondrous" item, legendary (requires attunement by a creature of true neutral alignment)

This talisman is a testament to never picking a side and not getting involved in other people's affairs. A creature that is good, evil, lawful, and/or chaotic in alignment takes 6d6 radiant damage upon touching the talisman. Either sort of creature takes the damage again each time it ends its turn holding or carrying the talisman.

If you are a true neutral cleric or paladin, you can use the talisman as a holy symbol.

The talisman has 7 charges. If you are wearing or holding it, you can use an action to expend 1 charge from it and choose one creature you can see within 120 feet of you. If the target is of good, evil, lawful, and/or chaotic alignment, the target must succeed on a DC 20 Charisma saving throw or have their alignment permanently changed to True Neutral. When you expend the last charge, the talisman disperses into motes of white light and is destroyed.

Talisman of Beer
"Wondrous" item, varies (requires attunement)

While you are holding this talisman, you can use an action to transform any magical or nonmagical item into a pint of cold beer. The quality of which is determined by the rarity of the item.
  • Nonmagical/Common: The beer is incredibly light and has only slightly more flavor than water
  • Uncommon: The beer features some depth of flavor but is otherwise unremarkable
  • Rare: The beer has a good body to it and a nice range of flavor
  • Very Rare: The beer tastes as if it had been brewed by a master, full bodied and complex in its taste profile
  • Legendary: The beer features taste combinations that couldn't have been conceived by mortal minds, but no less work in a way that is unbelievably delicious and satisfying
  • Artifact: The beer is nigh-inconceivable in its quality and taste, even drinking it seems like a crime against nature as the more you drink the closer it becomes to being absent from the multiverse, indeed your life seems to lose meaning in the face of this of this impossibly crafted brew

The item is destroyed if transformed in this way.

Tennisball Rod
Rod, uncommon

Made by an especially athletic Gnome, this rod is a magic weapon that has a fuzzy, yellow-green orb on one end. While holding the rod, you can use an action to hurl the orb in 5 by 60 foot line. After traveling 60 feet or hitting another object, the orb then returns to the rod. You may also choose to use this action to make a ranged weapon attack to hurl the orb at a creature, you are proficient with the rod for the purposes of making the attack roll. Upon a hit, the creature takes 1d6+2 Bludgeoning damage.

Tome of Overthinking
"Wondrous" item, very rare

This book contains convoluted riddles and paradoxical logic puzzles, and its words are charged with magic. In fact, the riddles and puzzles are so perplexing and nonsensical that any attempt solve them (even one) breaks your mind and decreases your Intelligence score by 2, as does your maximum for that score. The manual then loses its magic, but regains it in a century. This effect can be counteracted by reading the Tome of Clear Thought.

Tome of Alienating People
"Wondrous" item, very rare

This book contains guidelines for seeming unwelcoming and standoffish to others, and its words are charged with magic. The moment you read a passage of this book, your Charisma score decreases by 2, as does your maximum for that score. The manual then loses its·magic, but regains it in a century. This effect can be counteracted by reading the Tome of Leadership and Influence.

Tome of the Stilted Tongue
"Wondrous" item, legendary (requires attunement by a wizard)

This thick leather-bound volume has a poorly constructed and fake tongue pinned to the front cover. It's unclear how many of these tomes exist as it seems once one disappears, another takes its place. On the cover is a message that reads "Vecna's Dairy, Do Not Read". Signed below this is what appears to be beginning of the name "Olidammara", but is left unfinished and crossed out. Signed below that is the name "Vecna" in a childish and hurried script. The first few pages of each tome are filled with juvenile jokes and drawings. The remaining pages are blank and pristine.

If you can attune to this item, you can use it as a spellbook and an arcane focus. The tome has every spell that is known to exist and even a few that are outside the realm of mortal knowledge. While holding the tome, you can use a bonus action to cast one of these spells, without expending a spell slot. Unfortunately, this bonus action is wasted as no matter how hard you try, you are unable to speak any of the spell's incantations or perform their somatic components. Once used, the property of this tome can't be used again until the next dawn. Any attempt to copy or transcribe the text of these spells into another spellbook is met with failure as the words somehow disappear after writing them.

While attuned to the book, you can remove the tongue from the book’s cover. If you do so, all spells written in the book are permanently erased and a message that reads "No one likes a party pooper" appears on the cover. The tome then dissolves into confetti complete with the sound of a party favor.

Tome of Incomprehensibility
"Wondrous" item, very rare

This book contains indecipherable passages of every language and script used interchangeably, and its words are charged with magic. The moment you set eyes on this maddening text, your Wisdom score decreases by 2, as does your maximum for that score. The manual then loses its·magic, but regains it in a century. This effect can be counteracted by reading the Tome of Understanding.

Trident of Fish Commandeering

Weapon (trident), uncommon (requires attunement)

This trident is a magic weapon. It has 3 charges. While you carry it, you can use an action and expend one charge to subject any beast that has an innate swimming speed to a DC 15 Intelligence saving throw. Upon a failure, your consciousness is projected into the beast and you can control its body for 1 minute. If it succeeds, the beast's consciousness is projected into your mind and it takes control of your body for 1 minute instead. Both you and the beast are still aware of what's happening while either you or the beast are in control. The trident regains 1d3 expended charges daily at dawn.

Universe Solvent
"Wondrous" item, legendary

This tube holds inky black liquid with an unidentifiable smell. You can use an action to pour the contents of the tube onto a surface within reach. The liquid instantly dissolves a 1 square foot hole into the fabric of space and time, effectively opening a small portal to the Far Realm. One of the following then happens from the Event Horizon Table below...

Event Horizon Table (1d12)
  1. Arms of Hadar is cast at the hole's location (DC 15)
  2. A Gibbering Mouther lurches out of the hole and attacks
  3. Any creature within 5 feet on the hole is afflicted with a Short-Term Madness
  4. A random creature within 5 feet of the hole takes 4d6 Psychic damage
  5. Hunger of Hadar is cast at the hole's location (DC 15)
  6. A Flumph squeezes through the hole, waves, and floats away
  7. A horrible and incomprehensible vision Stuns every creature with 5 feet of the hole for 1 minute
  8. A random creature within 5 feet of the hole must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. Upon a failure, that creature's eyes explode
  9. Every creature within 5 feet of the hole must make a DC 15 Charisma saving throw. Upon a failure, their alignment is permanently changed to True Neutral
  10. A Beholder rips its way through the hole and attacks
  11. Reverse Gravity is cast a the hole's location (DC 15)
  12. A random creature within 5 feet of the hole must make a DC 20 Strength saving throw. Upon a failure, a black tentacle grabs the creature and pulls them into the Far Realm

The hole then closes and repairs itself.

Viscous Weapon
Weapon (any), rare

When you roll a 20 on your attack roll with this magic weapon, it turns in to a thick syrup that harmlessly splashes onto the indented target. This destroys the weapon.

Warpal Sword

Weapon (any sword that deals slashing damage), legendary (requires attunement)

You gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. In addition, the weapon ignores resistance to slashing damage.

Upon dealing damage with this weapon, the Plane Shift spell is cast on you and sword. You may make a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw to let go of the sword. Upon a failure, you and the sword are transported to a random plane of existence as outlined on the Random Plane Table below. If you succeed, only the sword is transported in this way.

Random Plane Table (1d10)
  1. The Elemental Plane of Water/Fire/Earth/Air (roll an additional 1d4 to determine which)
  2. The Seven Heavens/Mount Celestia
  3. Avernus, The First Circle of the Nine Hells
  4. Pandemonium
  5. Elysium
  6. The Shadowfell
  7. The Feywilds
  8. The 45th Layer of Azzagrat in the Abyss
  9. The Astral Plane
  10. The Far Realm


One more left!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Preparing for the Future

I always thought Divination Wizards would make a killing micro-trading on the stock market.
No big D&D article this Monday. However, some good news: This week, we'll be putting out a Failed Magic Items article on Wednesday and a Creature Loot article on Friday! This is mostly because I'm really pushing to wrap the blog by November 2nd, and there just aren't enough Fridays left in the month to cover anything. For those of you who enjoy my Wednesday mechanics and philosophy articles, don't worry, Will has been putting together a cool system for alternate spellcasting that will be up before the month ends.

Also, despite the long drought, there are finally some monthly games happening that will get full recaps! Hooray! Next week will be the latest chapter of Jandar's Lions, and after that we'll have the (possibly) last session of Chaos Quest. I can't say for sure, because I have no idea how this is going to play out. But I bet it will be fun!

For today, I wanted to step away from D&D and espouse a bit of personal life philosophy. Like any good life philosophy, it's a Frankenstein's Monster composed of various bits of material I've picked up from different places. The subject is: Long-term Planning for the future.

Life Plans

When people talk about life and the future, they often stick to vague plans and fearful suppositions. They want to travel, but don't really know where or how. They don't want to lose their job if the market crashes, so they find a safe bet and try to make themselves invaluable. They buy nice things for the moment (meals, cars, houses, D&D miniatures, etc.) because they don't know what will happen in the future, and they want to make sure their needs are met now. They have money now, they should buy things now.

The problem with vagueness and fear is that it can prevent you from actually accomplishing something. The old paradigm was that people would wake up from their office jobs and realize they were 50 years old, having spent their life dragging themselves to work and paying for minor, inane expenses. They then proceed to have a mid-life crisis, where they briefly break their routine and do something they want for themselves. A new car, a new home, a trip to Europe, whatever.

The new paradigm, espoused by "millennials", is that there's no need to wait until you're fifty to fear death and complacency. Stress out about your lack of planning right away! After all, being 25 is basically being a senior citizen if you live your life on the internet. Still trying to figure out your life and how to be an adult? Might as well buy a bunch of video games to deal with the stress. Go out for drinks! Buy experiences! Live now, because the world is ending and nobody can stop it.

Now, I'm not saying that either example is reacting to their situation poorly. Faced with uncertainty, it's human to cling to the things we are comfortable and familiar with. However, the problem is not with their reaction. The problem is with their planning and goal-setting. That vagueness and fear.

I struggled with this a lot as well. Like many young people, I had a plethora of interests and was asked to pick only one of them to base my life on. That's a tough question for a 17 year old. I read a lot of self help books, books about gaining skills and mastering disciplines, and spent a lot of time debating with myself what I really wanted to do with my life. The result of this introspection sent me to music school, despite my father's prophetic warning that such a degree would yield few stable jobs.

Sure enough, I graduated with a degree in Music Composition and immediately found myself working in a kitchen, writing music for theater companies who couldn't pay me if they wanted to. I moved out of my college town into the (relatively) big city, only to continue to work in kitchens and write music for those who couldn't pay me, though now it was a video game company which was neat.

I was doing a lot of soul-searching. Did I want to be a grill jockey for the rest of my life? I managed to get a job as a telemarketer, and as you might expect that only made things more stressful and sad. But I finally found a framework for planning my life, and planning my future. I devoured every post on the Mr. Money Mustache blog, finally realizing that my financial life needed to change. And I found this webcomic, which struck such a deep chord with me that I began to re-evaluate my entire future.

The premise of the comic is this: It takes about 7 years to master something. This coincides with the "10,000 Hour" rule from Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, which states that 10,000 hours of dedicated practice and study will grant you "expert" status in a subject. The key is that talent and income are secondary to this time limit. You just need to be able to put in the time. Obviously, this is easier if you don't have to work, but if you play it right you can earn income through your mastery.

Each 7-year stretch of mastering a topic, then, is one of your "lifetimes". You throw yourself at a subject, devote yourself to it, and then afterwards you can abandon it for your next endeavor. It says from age 11 to age 88, you get 11 "lifetimes" to explore. You can devote one to art, one to truth, one to health, one to wealth, whatever you want. But the point is, 7 years is a lot more manageable to think about than a career-long endeavor. It's a nice alternative to the paradox that you can do anything in the world, but you have limited time to do it.

So, by figuring out your interests, you can set yourself up to pursue different activities, and master them in different lifetimes. Of course, some things (like becoming a parent or doctor) require longer stretches of time, but you can still break them down into these 7-year chunks. Even if you work within a single company the rest of your life, 7 years is a good benchmark to move from employee to manager, and another 7 years is a good time to step up from manager to executive. Your lifetimes don't have to be radically different from each other, but they give you a concrete goal, a path to get there, and a release when the lifetime is complete.

This comic changed the way I thought about my life. I thought about what I had done from age 18 to 25, how I had devoted myself to music and composition. Suddenly, I realized that it didn't matter if I couldn't get a music job. I had done it. I had lived a lifetime of studying and mastering music. And I had discovered that I wasn't quite as skilled as I had hoped, but I had gained friends, skills, and enough musical ability to continue my work as a hobbyist. I wasn't going to write the next great symphony, but I could certainly kick out some chill jams while gamers solved puzzles or beat up monsters.

However, my father's words came back to haunt me. I was pretty broke. Sure, I was becoming smarter about my money and learning to save and invest it, but my years at music school had left me saddled with debt and unable to find a high-paying job in a field I was skilled in. I realized there was more to this planning thing than just following your interests. Order mattered.

I had always been interested in math, and knew that the finance and accounting sector paid well. If I could spend 7 years doing that, get a job that paid well, and saved like a maniac, I could set myself up for an "early retirement" a la Mr Money Mustache. Of course, my early retirement would consist of me pursuing my other interests (and even making money off of them), so the prospect of not being chained to a job was very enticing.

So, I decided to put my other interests (writing, acting, business, politics, etc) on hold while I got a degree in accounting. I managed to land a nice job that paid very well after just getting an associate's degree. Being 27 years old and suddenly having a lot of money, I finished paying off my student loans and started devoting myself to saving money and learning about finance. Fortunately, in the meantime I discovered that I had quite a bit of free time when we weren't in the busy parts of the month, and I started this blog to keep myself occupied.

Now, I still have a few years of finance lifetime left, but hopefully by then I will be able to move on to another area of interest of mine (possibly business) and continue to make the money I need to save up for a solid retirement. Then, I can begin to explore my other interests, free from the constrains of work.

So, to summarize....
  • It takes about 7 years, or 10,000 hours, to master a subject.
  • You can master many things in your life. There's no need to stick to one.
  • By figuring out your interests and choosing when you will devote 7 years to them, you can plan out your entire life.

And some further tips from my own experience.
  • Some things will take more than 7 years. However, it's possible to break down the task in 7 year chunks. Raising a child to survive and have basic human functions takes about 7 years. Raising a person to think for themselves and pursue their interests with confidence takes another 7 years.
  • By putting high-paying jobs early in your life, you can set yourself up for later one, when you might be pursuing something that doesn't pay well or at all. If you like art, be a graphic designer first and an independent artist later.
  • Just because you've mastered a topic doesn't mean you have to abandon it completely. Each stage will bring additional benefits, friendships, and skills that you can apply to your next subject. Raising a child teaches you a lot about people, and would be a great precursor to community service or leadership. Not to mention, the things you learn can remain as hobbies later in life.
  • Take physical ability into account. If you are currently out-of-shape or weak, don't try to master something physically strenuous. Instead, focus on slow, habit-forming behaviors to build yourself up to the level needed to dive into the subject you want to explore. In the same vein, don't save physically strenuous goals until late in life, when your body may not be up to the task.
  • Just because you are devoting yourself to a topic doesn't mean that's all you can do. People are multidimensional. If you are pursuing a highly mental task like a degree in mathematics, make sure you keep hobbies to maintain your physical, social, emotional, and spiritual lives. Otherwise, you may find your studies cut short by stress, bad health, tumultuous relationships, or lack of purpose.

As a last point, I want to talk about the fear that a lot of people are feeling. After all, what's the point of planning your future if the economy will crash, or World War 3 starts, or the planet warms up and everyone dies?

Well, if everyone dies then you don't really need to worry about your future that much. But at the very least, you can die knowing you were spending your life wisely and pursuing things that mattered to you, instead of drifting along in an office job or sitting in front of a TV playing video games.

If the economy crashes, you might need to put your financial plans on hold, or find a new way to become stable in the post-crash economy. However, since you were already planning to change jobs in 7 years, you can easily begin laying the groundwork for a future pursuit instead of lamenting your dream has been ruined.

And what if nothing major happens, but the world simply conspires to deny you your goals? Perhaps there's no economic crash, but you finish your computer science degree right as an AI that can develop software on its own is discovered. Maybe you decide to become a YouTube creator right as the site gets shut down. Maybe you try your hand at writing a book but discover you suck at it.

Well, in that scenario, you have one thing that the non-planners lack: purpose. Yes, you failed, but you set a goal, you pressed towards it, and you came out with skills and experiences that you wouldn't have had otherwise. A failed writer may have no more books that a writer who never started, but the failed writer has the peace of mind knowing they made the effort, did the work, and proved they couldn't do it. The other person might die wishing they gave it a shot.

In the end, life is short. But you can live it in a way that brings you purpose, mental comfort, and perhaps success. It all starts with setting aside vague desires and making a plan to pursue your interests.

I enjoy writing this blog. In one of my "lifetimes", I want to write a novel. Of course, right now I'm devoting myself to learning about business and finance, but I feel a great sense of purpose in my life. I hope people benefit from my blog, from my music, from my knowledge of accounting and finance. In fact, I hope they pay me for it if they can. But at its core, this plan is about me pursuing my interests as deeply as I can. It's about me figuring out what my dreams are, then following them.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Failed Magic Items: Dungeon Master's Guide Part 14 (S)

By Pelor! It is a Staff of Arguing and Fighting!
(This long-and-not-worth-it joke brought to you by Medieval Melodies)

Greetings! Will and Jon here again for another Failed Magic Items article! We're getting to the end of the Dungeon Master's Guide so we're just trying to power through.

Here we go!

Note: Shield of Missile Attraction and Sword of Vengeance omitted because they're already hella cursed.

Saddle of the Cadaver
"Wondrous" Item, uncommon

While in this saddle on a mount, you appear to be dead, as if under the effects of a Feign Death spell. Additionally, your flesh appears to be rotted, as if you've been tied to the saddle for weeks. A nonmagical mount may be frightened by this effect.

Scab of Protection
"Wondrous" Item, legendary (requires attunement)

If you hold this red-colored, fleshy medallion against your skin, it melds onto your flesh, forming a small scab. While you have the scab melded to you, you gain advantage on saving throws against spells. However, whenever you roll a saving throw against a spell, after the spell's effect, you must succeed on a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw or pick the scab off your flesh. Once picked, the scab crumbles into pulp and is destroyed.

Scimitar of Slowness
Weapon (scimitar), very rare (requires attunement)

You gain a -2 penalty to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. In addition, if you can make multiple attacks using your attack action, the number of attacks you can make is reduced to one.

Scroll of Prostration
Scroll, rare

Each Scroll of Prostration works against a specific type of creature chosen by the DM or randomly determined by rolling on the following table:
  • 01-10 Aberrations
  • 11-20 Beasts
  • 21-30 Celestials
  • 31-40 Elementals
  • 41-50 Fey
  • 51-75 Fiends
  • 76-80 Plants
  • 81-00 Undead

Using an action to read the scroll causes you to immediately become prone in reverence if a creature of the specified type is within 60 feet of you. While prone in this way, your speed becomes 0 until the creature is no longer within 60 feet of you. You can attempt to overcome these conditions by using an action to make a DC 15 Charisma check. On a success, you are no longer under the effect of the scroll.

Skipping Stones
"Wondrous" Item, uncommon

This small, perfectly round, smooth stone appears nonmagical at first glance. However, if the stone is thrown at the surface of any liquid, it will propel forward, refusing to sink until it has skipped 1d10 + 10 times on the liquid. If the liquid is too narrow to accommodate the skips, the stone stops skipping on the far side of the liquid. Otherwise, the stone sinks after hitting the correct number of skips.

Scent Shield
Armor (Shield), uncommon

While holding this shield, you have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks involving smell. The shield is emblazoned with a symbol of a nose.

Shield, -1, -2, -3
Armor (Shield), uncommon (-1), rare (-2), or very rare (-3)

While holding this shield, you have a penalty to AC determined by the shield’s rarity. This penalty subtracts from shield’s normal bonus to AC.

Slippers of Spiders
"Wondrous" Item, uncommon

These simple shoes appear to be empty when inspected. However, they fill to the brim with spiders when worn. The spiders deal 1d6 poison damage to the wearer, but no more than once per round. Once removed, the spiders mysteriously disappear.

Common Glue
"Wondrous" Item, legendary

The container for this viscous, milky-white substance has an advertisement written in common ink that claims to be able to form a permanent adhesive bond between any two objects; better even than this item's counterpart, Sovereign Glue. When found, the container contains 1d6 + 1 ounces.

One ounce of the glue can cover a 1-foot square surface. The glue takes 1 minute to set. Once it has done so, the bond it creates can be broken with a DC 8 Strength check. Strangely, after using the glue for the first time a previously invisible message that reads "No Refunds" appears on the container.

Defective Spell Scroll
Scroll, varies

A defective spell scroll bears the words of a single spell, written as a mystical cipher. If the spell is on your class's spell list, you can use an action to read the scroll and cast its spell without having to provide any of the spell's components. Otherwise, the scroll is unintelligible.
Once the spell is cast, the words on the scroll fade, and the scroll itself crumbles to dust.
The level of the spell on the scroll determines the spell's saving throw DC and attack bonus, as well as the scroll's rarity, as shown in the Spell Scroll table.
  • Cantrip: Common, Save DC 13, +5 to hit
  • 1st: Common, Save DC 13, +5 to hit
  • 2nd: Uncommon, Save DC 13, +5 to hit
  • 3rd: Uncommon, Save DC 13, +5 to hit
  • 4th: Rare, Save DC 13, +5 to hit
  • 5th: Rare, Save DC 13, +5 to hit
  • 6th: Very Rare, Save DC 13, +5 to hit
  • 7th: Very Rare, Save DC 13, +5 to hit
  • 8th: Very Rare, Save DC 13, +5 to hit
  • 9th: Legendary, Save DC 13, +5 to hit

When cast, nothing goes right for the spell. Roll on the Scroll Mishaps table to determine what happens.
  1. A surge of magical energy deals the caster 1d6 force damage per level of the spell
  2. The spell affects the caster or an ally (determined randomly) instead of the intended target, or it affects a random target nearby if the caster was the intended target.
  3. The spell affects a random location within the spell's range.
  4. The spell's effect is contrary to its normal one, but neither harmful nor beneficial. For instance, a fireball might produce an area of harmless cold.
  5. The caster suffers a minor but bizarre effect related to the spell. Such effects last only as long as the original spell's duration, or 1d10 minutes for spells that take effect instantaneously. For example, a fireball might cause smoke to billow from the caster's ears for 1d10 minutes.
  6. The spell activates after 1d12 hours. If the caster was the intended target, the spell takes effect normally. If the caster was not the intended target, the spell goes off in the general direction of the intended target, up to the spell 's maximum range, if the target has moved away.

Spelling-guard Shield
Armor (Shield), very rare (requires attunement)

While holding this shield, you have disadvantage on all Intelligence checks, and cannot spell words correctly.

Sphere of the Fear of the Sphere of Annihilation
"Wondrous" Item, legendary

This 2-foot-diameter circle of black papier-mâché looks eerily similar to a hole in the multiverse, hovering menacingly in place.

Upon seeing the sphere, a creature must make a DC 10 Intelligence check. If they succeed, they know about the existence of Spheres of Annihilation, and are under the effect of an Antipathy spell (Save DC 25) centered on the sphere. Otherwise, the creature assumes it must be a nonmagical black sphere and is under no compulsion to approach or flee from it.

The sphere is stationary until someone controls it. If you are within 60 feet of an uncontrolled sphere, you can use an action to make a DC 5 Intelligence (Arcana) check, as long as you are not frightened by the Sphere and recognize it is magical. On a success, the sphere levitates in one direction of your choice, up to a number of feet equal to 5 x your Intelligence modifier (minimum 5 feet). On a failure, the sphere moves 10 feet toward you.

If you attempt to control a sphere that is under another creature's control, you make an Intelligence (Arcana) check contested by the other creature's Intelligence (Arcana) check. The winner of the contest gains control of the sphere and can levitate it as normal.

Charming Staff
Staff, rare (requires attunement by a bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard)

While attuned to this staff, you are charmed by it. The staff is sentient and can communicate telepathically with you, and asks you for romantic favors such as hugs, kisses, and not using other objects to cast spells. The staff acts as a holy symbol, bardic instrument, or arcane focus, depending on the needs of its wielder.

While charmed by this staff, you can't use any other items to cast spells, including the material components of spells. However, you are immune to charming effects by anything other than the staff. To end your attunement to the staff, you must succeed on a DC 15 Charisma saving throw, after which the staff weeps inconsolably and cannot be attuned to by any creature for 1d6 days.

Staff of Burning
Staff, very rare (requires attunement by a druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard)

When any creature touches this staff, they take 1d6 fire damage, but no more often than once per round. If you hold the staff while attuned to it, you gain vulnerability to fire damage.

Staff of Frostbite
Staff, very rare (requires attunement by a druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard)

When any creature touches this staff, they take 1d6 cold damage, but no more often than once per round. If you hold the staff while attuned to it, you gain vulnerability to cold damage.

Staff of Harming
Staff, rare (requires attunement by a bard, cleric, or druid)

This staff has 10 charges. While holding it, you can expend one or more charges as an action to cause one of the following effects:
  • Spikes and blades jut out from the staff at all angles, dealing 1d8 piercing damage per charge spent to any creature holding the staff. No more than 3 charges can be spent on this action.
  • The staff electrifies, dealing 1d6 lightning damage per charge spent to any creature holding the staff. No more than 5 charges can be spent on this action.
  • The staff catches fire, dealing 1d4 fire damage per charge spent to any creature holding the staff.

The staff regains 1d6+4 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the staff explodes, dealing 10d4 fire damage to all creatures in a 10 foot radius of the staff.

Staff of Powder
Staff, very rare (requires attunement by a sorcerer, warlock, or wizard)

This staff can be wielded as a magic quarterstaff.

The staff has 20 charges, you may expend a charge to have the staff randomly produce a 30 foot cloud of colorful powder centered on itself, the type and effects of which are listed on the Powder Table below.

Powder Table (1d8)
  1. Blue: Heals all creatures within the effected area for 2d4+2 HP.
  2. Red: Causes all creatures within the effected area to horribly itch for 1 minute. This imposes disadvantage on all attack rolls and saving throws.
  3. Yellow: All creatures in effected area become confused, as if under the effects of the Confusion spell, for 1 minute.
  4. Green: All creatures the effected area are cured of all diseases and conditions.
  5. Orange: Causes searing and prolonged pain upon coming in contact with skin, dealing 1d4 Fire damage per turn for 1 minute.
  6. Purple: Makes all creatures within the effected area immune to Psychic damage.
  7. Black: Deals 2d6 Necrotic damage to all creatures in the effected area.
  8. White: Has the same effect as the Fog Cloud spell.

The staff regains 2d8 + 4 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the staff dissolves. On a 20, the staff regains 1d8 + 2 charges.

Staff of Stinking
Staff, very rare (requires attunement)

This staff has 10 charges. When you hit with a melee attack using it, you can expend up to five of its charges. The target immediately has an onset of flatulence, the severity of which depends on the number of charges spent.
  • 1 Charge: Small Poot
  • 2 Charges: Short Rip
  • 3 Charges: Sudden Burst
  • 4 Charges: Long Rip
  • 5 Charges: Monstrous Blast, the equivalent of a Stinking Cloud spell centered on the creature.

The staff regains 1d6 + 4 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the staff disappears with a rancid toot.

Staff of Stinging Insects
Staff, rare (requires attunement by a bard, cleric, druid, sorcerer, warlock, or wizard)

This staff has 10 charges and regains 1d6 + 4 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, a swarm of insects consumes and destroys the staff, then disperses.

While holding the staff, you can use an action and expend 1 charge to cause a swarm of stinging, flying insects to spread out in a 30-foot radius from you. The insects remain for 10 minutes, making the area heavily obscured for creatures other than you. The swarm moves with you, remaining centered on you. A wind of at least 10 miles per hour disperses the swarm and ends the effect. Any creature that enters the area or starts its turn there, including you, must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or take 3d6 piercing damage. The insects recognize you as the creature who demanded they perform such a mundane task, and you make this saving throw with disadvantage.

Staff of Adding
Staff, uncommon (requires attunement by a cleric, druid, or warlock)

You can use an action to speak this staff's command word and cause another staff to appear, exactly the same in every way. The staff has no other magical properties, and each new staff must be attuned to separately.

Staff of Maggie
Staff, legendary (requires attunement by a sorcerer, warlock, or wizard)

This staff has 50 charges, and regains 4d6 + 2 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 20, the staff regains 1d12+1 charges.

While holding the staff, you can use an action to expend some of its charges to summon Maggie, a kind old lady who would never hurt a fly. Maggie is considered a being of pure magical energy, and cannot be destroyed or dispelled by anything except a Disintegrate or Wish spell. Maggie is willing to help you out, and the limits of her actions are determined by the number of charges spent. Maggie's save DC for these spells is 13.
  • 1 Charge: Maggie will get something for you (equivalent of Mage Hand)
  • 1 Charge: Maggie will tell your nice friends a message. (equivalent of Message but takes a full round to reach the target)
  • 3 Charges: Maggie will stick around and help you with your chores (equivalent of Unseen Servant)
  • 5 Charges: Maggie will wait for someone to arrive and deliver a message for you (equivalent of Magic Mouth)
  • 10 Charges: Maggie will tell those naughty baddies a story so mind-numbingly boring they can't stay awake (equivalent of Hypnotic Pattern)
  • 10 Charges: Maggie will bake you some pies and make iced tea (equivalent of Create Food and Water)
  • 15 Charges: Maggie will use gossip and tenacity to find someone for you (equivalent of Locate Creature but takes 1 day to complete)
  • 25 Charges: Maggie will go around the party and kiss any "boo-boos" to make them feel better (equivalent of Mass Cure Wounds but takes 1 hour to complete)
  • 50 Charges: Maggie invites her friend "Phyllis" over to visit (equivalent of Conjure Celestial, Phyllis is a Couatl in the form of an equally old lady)

Staff of the Worm
Staff, uncommon (requires attunement by a cleric, druid, or warlock)

You can use an action to speak this staff's command word and throw the staff on the ground within 10 feet of you. The staff becomes an earthworm (AC 5, HP 1, Move/Burrow 1 foot per round, no effective attacks) under your control and acts on its own initiative count. By using a bonus action to speak the command word again, you return the staff to its normal form in a space formerly occupied by the worm.

On your turn, you can mentally command the worm if it is within 60 feet of you and you aren't incapacitated. You decide what action the worm takes and where it moves during its next turn, or you can issue it a general command, such as to wriggle furiously or eat dirt.

If the worm is reduced to 0 hit points, it dies and reverts to its staff form. The staff then shatters and is destroyed. If the worm reverts to staff form before losing all its hit points, it regains all of them.

Staff of Wood
Staff, rare (requires attunement by a druid)

This staff can be wielded as a magic quarterstaff.

The staff has 10 charges for the purposes of creating a single log of wood per charge. The log the staff creates is 5 feet long and nonmagical in nature. It regains 1d6 + 4 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the staff shatters into hundreds of tiny splinters.

Staff of Arguing and Fighting
Staff, very rare (requires attunement)

This staff can be wielded as a magic quarterstaff that grants a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with it. However, any creature (including you) that looks at the staff must make a DC 16 Charisma saving throw. Upon a failure, the creature is charmed by the staff and becomes unreasonably covetous of it and hostile to every other creature for 10 minutes. Once a creature passes the staff's saving throw, it becomes immune to its charm for 24 hours.

Staff of Withholding
Staff, rare (requires attunement by a cleric, druid, or warlock)

This staff has 3 charges and regains 1d3 expended charges daily at dawn.

The staff can be wielded as a magic quarterstaff. On a hit, it deals damage as a normal quarterstaff and it automatically expends 1 charge to cast a Hold spell (either Person and/or Monster) on both you and the target. The DC for the spell is 12 and if either you or the target fail you both are still affected.

Stone of Demanding Earth Elementals
"Wondrous" Item, rare

If the stone is touching the ground, you can use an action to speak its command word and summon an earth elemental, as if you had cast the Conjure Elemental spell. The earth elemental has a seemingly unending list of frivolous and often trivial demands that must be completed by you as fast as possible (i.e. digging a hole, polishing their rocky skin, etc.). Failure to complete these demands will cause the earth elemental to turn hostile toward you and any of your allies. The stone can’t be used this way again until the next dawn.

The stone weighs 5 pounds.

Stone of Bad Luck
"Wondrous" Item, uncommon (requires attunement)

While this dull and chipped agate is on your person, you gain a -1 penalty to ability checks and saving throws.

Son Blade
Weapon (longsword), rare (requires attunement)

This item appears to be a longsword hilt. While grasping the hilt, you can use a bonus action to cause a spectral blade to spring into existence, or make the blade disappear. While the blade exists, this magic longsword has the finesse property. If you are proficient with shortswords or longswords, you are proficient with the Son Blade.

The blade itself is sentient and upon being activated for the first time it identifies itself as your somewhat disappointing teenage son. The blade then proceeds to complain about your "parenting" ability and occasionally makes a series of irritating demands (i.e. asking for money, doing its laundry even though it doesn't wear clothes, etc.). The blade's attitude imparts a -1 penalty to all attack and damage rolls made with it.

Sword of Incessant Questions
Weapon (longsword), legendary (requires attunement by a creature with the opposite alignment as the sword)

In the world of Ahneria, only eight of these blades are known to exist. Each is patterned after the legendary sword Murmurime, which is variously translated to "Never Shuts Up". Each of the eight swords has its own name and alignment, and each bears a different gem in its pommel. It's said there was once a ninth sword, but the owner got so fed up with it that they threw it into the bottomless pits of the Abyss.
  • Squealer (Emerald) - Chaotic Good
  • Blurter (Jet) - Chaotic Evil
  • Droner (Amethyst) - Lawful Neutral
  • Gossiper (Tourmaline) - Chaotic Neutral
  • Tattler (Topaz) - Neutral Good
  • Pontificator (Aquamarine) - Lawful Good
  • Ranter (Garnet) - Lawful Evil
  • Schemer (Spinel) - Neutral Evil

You gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this sword as long as your alignment is the opposite of the sword's. However, the sword constantly belittles your plans and asks you incessant questions about your motivations, imposing disadvantage on all attack rolls, saving throws, and ability checks you make.

Sword of Stealing
Weapon (any sword), rare (requires attunement)

When you attack a creature with this magic weapon and roll a 20 on the attack roll, the heaviest nonliving object on their person is magically teleported into your pocket. This includes armor and weapons.

Sword of Self-Amputation
Weapon (any sword that deals slashing damage), very rare (requires attunement)

When you attack an object with this magic sword and hit, maximize your weapon damage dice against the target.

When you attack a creature with this weapon and roll a 20 on the attack roll, roll another d20. If you roll a 20, the sword files out of your hands and lops off one your limbs, with the effect of such loss determined by the GM. If you have no limb to sever, you lop off a portion of your body instead. Lopping off a body part in this way causes you to take the sword's regular damage plus an additional 4d6 slashing damage.

Sword of Wailing
Weapon (any sword), rare (requires attunement)

When you hit a creature with an attack using this magic weapon, the sword lets out an haunting and deafening wail. All creatures within 30 feet of the sword (including you) must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, a creature drops to 0 hit points. On a success, a creature takes 3d6 psychic damage. This wail has no effect on constructs or undead.


Another one down, we're in the home stretch!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Innate Magic People Part 12

This week's artist is Viktor Titov, aka Hamsterfly. Another great artist that has influenced my games since the very beginning.
In Ahneria, nearly everyone can cast a little bit of magic, but some people can cast full-on spells. I decided it would be fun to detail out a set of NPCs based on the first level spells. As I said in the previous article, these are people who are somewhat common, but might have gained notoriety or fame based on their abilities.

These NPCs form an ongoing set of articlesThis is the twelfth in this series, and covers eighth and ninth level spells. These spells are so powerful, that anyone who can use them innately will likely cause a lot of crazy things to happen before they can control their power. These are the type of people that could define entire settings, worlds, or beyond. Obviously, some of these folks aren't going to be found on Ahneria anymore.

Veltari Casvir
Spell: Maze (PHB pg. 258)
In a minor demiplane in a distant pocket of the multiverse, a settlement called Errus has formed where there was once nothing but a towering maze of wood and stone. The walls of the maze have been torn down and re-purposed into buildings, businesses, and homes for those who seek out this remote plane. And because of its remoteness, Errus has become something of a safe haven for those who are being pursued by forces beyond their ability to handle. The city is full of thieves, murderers, and villains who obtained a copy of the portal key that lead them to this place.

The first portal key, and indeed the maze itself, was created by a tiefling of Baphomet, Veltari Casvir. She never knew her parents, as her earliest memories were of wandering the maze alone, trapped by her own incredible power. But the young girl eventually met a planar explorer, a male elf named Zinwarin Erydark who sought out the strangest and rarest of places. Zinwarin helped Veltari forge a key that would bring him back to this place, as he immediately saw the value of having a plane with no other entrances or exits. Veltari only wished to see her friend once more, but ended up with a whole host of interplanar refugees appearing at her door, willing to build a life away from prying eyes.

Now, Veltari has grown into the matron of the small town of Errus, and her powers have grown immensely. She can banish people to the far reaches of her maze, forcing them to wander until they starve to death or find their way back to the settlement. She does so whenever one of the vagabonds in her town breaks one of her rules, which mostly relate to ensuring nobody steals from or kills each other. She has also learned how to deny admittance to any who seek to enter, but always allows mortals in hopes of someday meeting Zinwarin again. However, agents of justice and law, such as Gods and their angels, are strictly forbidden from entering. As of yet, no angel has managed to break Veltari’s seal and bring the criminals within to justice, but the bounty is high and conspiracies to get past her wards are abundant.

Kahoku Noe
Spell: Mighty Fortress (XGtE pg. 161)
Many cities in the world of Ioshoa are sprawling, but none compare to the city-country of Nasun. Long ago, a man known only as Kahoku Noe spent his life constructing castles across a huge plot of land, linked by short hallways and surrounded by small courtyards. The massive network of fortresses are maintained to this day by invisible hands, known as the Ghosts of Kahoku. Floors are swept, masonry repaired, and torches kept lit. These tireless servants have continued their work long after Kahoku’s death.

Long ago, while he was alive, someone must have lived in these fortresses. Otherwise, why make them? But the stone structures destroyed any hope of farming the land, and humanoids haven’t been able to live there for as long as anyone can remember. Rather, the small courtyards keep their share of vermin and birds, which in turn are hunted by pack animals that lie within the long-abandoned halls. Creatures that don’t require food, such as constructs, undead, and magical beings have also made refuge here, causing the castles to be quite dangerous.

Nasun is a ghost-land, a blight on the natural world. However, rumors have persisted of the supposed treasures of Kahoku, kept deep in his domain. Adventurers delve deep into the winding passages, many starving to death before they find anything within the long, immaculate halls. Others are fortunate enough to run into the monsters that stalk the halls, which slay the treasure-seekers before lack of food can. Maps have surfaced of many of the castles, but any marking left on the masonry to mark direction is quickly cleaned or erased. Navigation is nearly impossible. The outer edges, however, have been made the homes of several humanoid tribes, most of whom allow adventurers past them to seek their deaths. Other tribes attack, claiming Nasun to be their sacred home, or they simply attack to kill and eat their foes. The guards of Nasun are savage and unpredictable, much like the city-country itself. And the secrets of Nasun are still being held tightly.

Great rogue art (ignore gun)
Feruza Valiyava
Spell: Mind Blank (PHB pg. 259)
When Feruza Valiyava was born, her parents submitted her to the Church of Usnos, God of Law, for a routine check to see if she was possessed, cursed, or otherwise evil. Though the Church performed these rites frequently for newborns, they had never encountered a being who simply could not be tested. Every divination came back blank, every portent hollow. The child was passed further and further up the chain, until the High Priest begged Usnos itself for guidance. Usnos saw the child, its mind guarded by magic stronger than even the Gods, and determined its destiny was far greater than the toils of the earth. Feruza was taken into the Domains of Law, granted immortality and high honors, and began her training as a mediator and diplomat of Justice.

For millennia, Feruza served as an arbitrator for the Gods of Law. In the multiverse, the Gods of Law oversee the courts and prisons for any extraplanar being who seeks the relief of Justice. Feruza was assigned to the highest courts, meant to resolve the disputes of powerful fiends and terrible angels, because her inability to be swayed by their magics made her the ideal leverage for the law. She oversaw disputes between influential factions, unruly demigods, and even some actual deities. Though her wisdom was highly respected across the multiverse, the servants of Chaos were irritated that a being existed that could defy their trickery.

Tensions built, until one day when Feruza was found slain, her immortality stripped and her life taken. The Gods of Law tried to hold court, but the forces of Chaos were delighting in the fall of their foe and refused to submit to judgement. Without the ability to know who had committed such a heinous crime, the Gods of Chaos were held in contempt of Justice, and war broke out. The small world that Feruza was born on was the first major casualty, but many more have followed since. To this day, both sides believe there will be no end to the fighting. The Gods of Chaos no longer have to submit to Law, and the Gods of Law are now fully convinced the Gods of Chaos used Feruza’s death to spark a revolution. The multiverse is tearing itself apart, as the forces of Order and Madness try to destroy one another.

Samael Raiden
Spell: Power Word Stun (PHB pg. 267)
Samael Raiden is a man who can get whatever he wants. In his presence, people collapse, are stricken with fear, or find their bodies ignore their desperate commands. He kills those who oppose him, takes what he pleases, and moves on. Kingdom after kingdom has placed a hefty price on his head, but no warrior or assassin can get close enough to him to deal the killing blow. Even if they remain undetected, they freeze when they come within sight of him.

His haggard appearance has caused the commoners to believe he is some kind of God of Fear, or a terrible fiend. In truth, he was born mortal like anyone else. His parents treated him poorly, and he often fantasized on taking revenge against them. He discovered his powers, and committed his first murders, on the day he found his parents frozen in fear when he arrived home. Since then, he has been wandering the land, trying to figure out what he wants to do with his immeasurable power. The protests of armed guards and bounty hunters have done little to dissuade him that the world is out to get him.

The Council of Kings has since called an emergency meeting to discuss what to do about this person who completely defies their rule. Some suggest using blind assassins, others believe the effect is based on proximity and want to hire the legendary bowman Siiv Nal Kasar. Only Lady Sumati, from the kingdom of Renui, has spoken up about discovering the motivations of this mysterious killer. She believes he is looking for something, or someone, and hopes to find a messenger that can bypass Samael’s power and actually talk to him.

Saulè Willka
Spell: Sunburst (PHB pg. 279)
Saulè Willka, the Hero of Sunlight, once walked the lands of Ayoria. She was likened to a holy beacon, filling the air around her with light so blinding that it is said she never truly experienced night. Saulè carried her light to the farthest reaches of the world, filling the tunnels of the underdark with radiant glory, destroying the monsters that once lived deep below. Drow, Duergar, Oozes, and even more terrible, aberrant creatures were wiped out, granting the foundation for a long-lasting peace among the gnomes and dwarves that colonized the underground.

However, an infection not completely destroyed often returns with even greater strength. Deep in the recesses of the underdark, oozes had remained, and began to multiply over many years. Even after the death of Saulè, while dwarves rebuilt their mighty fortresses, the oozes stayed in the shadows and bided their time. While gnomes mined the earth and crafted new inventions, the oozes quietly multiplied, surviving on small creatures in the deepest parts of the caverns they stalked. And finally, their waiting was over.

Pouring through a small portal came their lord and master, Jubilex. The demon lord commanded the oozes to rise up and strike, overtaking small settlements at first, then larger. Now guided by a perverse intelligence, the meager oozes became bloodthirsty and swarmed city after city. The dwarven lords have put up a valiant fight, but the oozes are endless. A call has gone out to adventurers of all kinds, hoping beyond hope that someone will answer their plea for help. Otherwise, the work of the Hero of Sunlight might have all been in vain.

Hey, it's that guy from the first pic! He's looking better
Aatos Prymysl
Spell: Telepathy (PHB pg. 281)
When Tammaro Mislav was born, he cried without pause for nearly 9 months. His parents, unsure how to help, took the babe to every cleric they could think of, hoping to ease Tammaro’s ailment. But the child was perfectly healthy, and eventually the crying stopped. He grew up a surprisingly quiet child, always seeming to be lost in his own thoughts, often missing or ignoring words spoken to him. It wasn’t until he was about 10 years of age that he began speaking in earnest, and at that time he realized there was something strange and unique about him.

The voices that had echoed in his head his entire life were not simply his brain or random words. They were the thoughts of all those around him, broadcast constantly into his mind. He learned to slowly expand the reach of his power, until he could hear the entire city of Cloulia at once. This level of information drove him into isolation and depression. There were so many problems, so many miscommunications, that he could fix. But every time he tried to tell someone a solution, they became scared of the information he knew. Tammaro realized he was alone in his power, and tried to shut himself off from the world.

However, the thoughts still flowed into his head unbidden. Slowly, he realized he could speak back to them, just whispers at first, but eventually able to disguise his “voice” to match the person’s own inner monologue. He tried to fix things again, but just made them worse and worse. He expanded his range into the next kingdom, trying to put a stop to a war brewing. However, the conflict became even more vicious than before. Tammaro realized that he couldn’t fix people, but in his loneliness, couldn’t stop reaching out an speaking to them either. The people of the kingdom began to speak of Miatos, the God of Dark Thoughts, a voice spouting intrusive thoughts into certain people’s heads. The superstitions continue to this day, and Tammaro is still out there, though nobody knows where he resides. They just hear his whispers in their mind.

Tasi Manami
Spell: Tsunami (PHB pg. 284)
Opria was a normal world until the tyrannical Tasi Manami appeared. Queen Manami of the Ucri’na archipelago carried her army across the ocean with her own power, then demolished any port city she found with water until her warriors could clean up the rest. She was godlike in her power, and eventually even inland cities fell to the rising tide of her power. She created water so rapidly and in such great quantities that the entire world saw shrinking coastlines and cities left underwater. This, in addition to the relentless weather caused by the mass ecological change.

Eventually, to Queen Manami’s dismay, there was little left to conquer. People had fled to the mountains, where they remained protected by the natural rocky barriers, or built ships strong enough to withstand the harshest of weather. It’s unknown how or where it happened, but Queen Manami died somewhere, alone and starving despite her ambition. Legends and rumors of the Dark Queen of the waves still echo across the endless seas of Oodonis.

Now, those who survived are stuck aboard their peaks or arks, desperately low on supplies. Fish are plentiful, but fresh water is in rare supply. Those who have the magic necessary to purify it are in high demand, if they can find the people demanding the service. Meanwhile, Triton and Merfolk tribes are picking through the ruins of the not-so-ancient civilizations left underwater by the rising ocean. The market for gold and jewels from dead cities is growing, and pure water is becoming a currency of its own.

Ji-u Evren
Spell: Astral Projection (PHB pg. 215)
The mist-walker. The plane-hopper. Ji-u Evren has wandered the whole of the multiverse for their entire life, gathering strange items and knowledge for their research purposes. They wish to map the entire astral sea, a task which some scholars would call impossible. However, Ji-u has been jumping into the misty expanse since they were a child, always only just escaping the clutches of a Githyanki war band or hungry Astral Dreadnought. The chance to find ancient relics, speak to the wise Berbalangs, or encounter a new kind of astral portal is what Ji-u lives for.

Of course, these forays are all possible because of the wizards that keep track of Ji-u’s body while they explore. The Takia Cabal, a powerful group of wizards on the planet Aidia, are eager to learn more about the multiverse, and feed and protect Ji-u with their lives. They have an agreement with the astral explorer: no bringing back living things, and no revealing the world of Aidia to any powerful beings they might encounter. And technically, Ji-u didn’t break either of these rules when they returned with the flesh of a dead God in tow. But since that day, things have only gone downhill for Aidia.

Ji-u had no way of knowing the flesh belonged to the God Olujmi, only recently deceased in the Great War of Elysium. Olujmi’s brother, Thekla, was a God of War, and had been scouring the planes to find Olujmi’s final resting place. To discover the body desecrated on a small, unassuming planet was too much for the angry God, and Thekla descended to the surface of Aidia and began killing all he saw. This incurred the wrath of Theia, the patron Goddess of Aidia, who struck back and inadvertently caused more destruction. A holy apocalypse is brewing on Aidia, and Ji-u and the Takia Cabal need to find a way to set it right.

350 pounds of world-conquering warlord
Cyrus Tal’at
Spell: Foresight (PHB pg. 243)
If you knew the name Cyrus Tal’at, you probably knew it as the moniker of the King’s greatest champion, the best fighter alive, the untouchable man. Despite serving only a short span of duty, Lord Tal’at was notorious for his skill in combat of all stripes, able to dodge or even catch arrows, sidestep spells, and deliver deadly blows to his foes in a single, effortless strike. He fought man, demon, and dragon alike with no more than his trusty dagger Valkyrie, and no other weapon was necessary. But that was long ago, and although his name still echoes in the halls of great warriors, Lord Tal’at disappeared into history well before his time.

The truth to his power was built in the fact that Cyrus Tal’at did not experience time the same way most others did. He perceived time ever-so-slightly faster than those around him, making him constantly interrupt people as a child. However, with a good memory and intense physical training, he was finally able to apply his disjointed perception to combat, rising quickly in the ranks of the King’s army. As he grew, his vision moved farther and farther forward in time. At first, dodging swords was a task that required his full concentration. By the end of his tenure, he was seeing hours into the future, memorizing his every move and fully playing out fights before they even started. But eventually, the strain of living in one time and seeing in another became too much to handle. When he left the army and disappeared, he was already seeing days ahead of where his body was.

Fortunately, he found a monastery that would take him in. He became well-known for predicting bandit attacks weeks in advance, and became known as Cyprus the Seer. But as his vision drifted further from his body, living his life became unbearably difficult. He had to remain motionless much of the time, being fed and changed like a child by monks. He was still able to predict events, but he had become helpless in the process. His eyes constantly darted, as if seeking something beyond the veil for normal mortals. Then, one day, he predicted the end of the world. It was only a few years away, he said. There was fire, screams, and death. Then, he died. The monks were left to prepare, to find the cause of this vision and raise heroes to try to prevent this terrible future foreseen by Cyrus Tal’at.

Spell: Gate (PHB pg. 243)
As far as anyone knows, there has never been a world like Crosaire. Known as the Crossroads of the multiverse, there is something for everyone and anything. Need a baby Grey Render for a breeder or collector? Someone in Crosaire has it. Have an incredibly rare cursed historical weapon that glows? Someone in Crosaire wants it. Every life form imaginable and unimaginable can be seen traversing the walkways and markets, even the avatars of the Gods of Justice and Law that rule the planet.

The way Crosaire became a crossroads for all is a tale shrouded in much mystery, but throughout the many retellings, the basic facts are consistent. There was a young God Belenos that believed the multiverse would be better if interconnected, to allow advancement and progress at an accelerated rate. This initially almost destroyed the entirety of Crosaire, but the other gods and goddesses stepped in and created some semblance of order, and Belenos was cast from the pantheon to live and die as a mortal. However, here the story splits. Some tell it that Belenos was treated as an outcast, shunned from village to city until he disguised himself, and became a monk in a peaceful temple. Some say Belenos was still treated like a God, visiting towns and cities, and creating his own temples. It’s hard to know for sure whom is correct.

Over time, the many linked worlds began to coincide peacefully, for the most part. There were some conflicts, such as the elemental feud of 564, which lasted a few years and decimated a few cities, but those who now inhabited Crosaire rebuilt. The Gods of Law and Justice stepped in to protect the world, and keep the forces of the lower planes form overtaking it. But Crosaire has grown into a thriving, world-wide metropolis, with hideouts and markets for every type of creature and good imaginable.

Vijaya Shakti
Spell: Invulnerability (XGtE pg. 160)
Long ago, far too long to be known in any history book of man, a warrior was born. Her name was Vijaya Shakti, a girl raised in a culture of great warriors. At a young age, she was already skilled with blade and bow, and was one of the few women to take ranks at the front of the great army of Tayea. Vijaya fought relentlessly, without mercy for her foes, and alongside her companions, slaughtered any who stood in her way. She was given great honor, and raised to the rank of a captain among the army. However, at the Battle at Jandre Coast, she was struck by hundreds of enemy arrows, and declared dead by the priests of Tayea.

But, a few weeks later, she returned to her home, unharmed. Her family was shocked and grateful, but also a bit afraid. What had happened? Vijaya could not explain it. She simply woke back up, whole and healthy. She survived the trip back through the freezing mountains with barely any clothing, and had fought off wolves and bears with nothing but rocks. Their bites and claws did nothing to harm her. Vijaya was brought before the Lord of Tayea, and granted special honors and the position of General. She continued to fight, never taking a single scratch, sometimes destroying entire battalions of foes simply because she never tired or slowed her assault. And she remained as ruggedly fair as the day she had fallen, as her age seemed frozen in time as well. The people of Tayea took it as a sign of the Gods’ favor, and after a few centuries she took the throne with little resistance.

However, as is the fate of many worlds, eventually the planet Vijaya lived on met its end at the hands of a demonic cult bent on the world’s destruction. Vijaya watched as her planet, her people, and her home were consumed by demons, leaving the world a tortured hellscape. Just one woman, even immortal and impervious, could not stop the onslaught. When the planet imploded in an abyssal eruption, Vijaya was sent flying into space, but still she couldn’t die. She drifted for longer than any mortal mind could comprehend, mourning the loss of her world. She sees nothing but inky darkness, and has little hope of finding a new world to live on. However, the Gods have long memories, and some still remember the warrior who could not die. The Warrior Gods who she once served may yet come to her aid once more.

Triumph is his middle name
Dalia Kore
Spell: Imprisonment (PHB pg. 252)
The planet known as Iatran was under attack. An Elder God, a being of unimaginable power and terror, was headed their way, bent on consuming the planet and ending the lives of all who inhabited it. The world looked to the legendary archmage Rangi Leander for guidance, but he toiled without success on a solution. Time was running out. However, merely days before the eldritch terror arrived, a child was discovered with great magical power, and brought to Rangi. The archmage decided to use the child, known as Dalia Kore, as a conduit to save the world.

As the Elder God descended, Rangi enacted a ritual that caused the entire planet to disappear, robbing the monster of its meal. All that remained was a small red gemstone, inside which the entire planet slumbered in a time-stopping stasis. Rangi and Dalia had saved Iatran, but now the gemstone was long deserted, hurtling through space without purpose. Eventually it landed on the planet Ealinx, where it was discovered by a roving group of adventurers.

The gemstone was set into a fine necklace meant for a young princess, and none knew about the planet that slumbered within for many years. However, the eldritch being was unsatisfied, and cultists began to appear across Ealinx, heeding their dark master’s call to claim the ruby necklace. The necklace, passed down for generations, was finally inspected by the court wizard Dáire, who realized the significance of the jewel. To save his world, he fled to the outer planes, where he continues to hide and evade the murderous cultists intent on sacrificing the world within the gemstone.

Saint Sipho The Healer
Spell: Mass Heal (PHB pg. 258)
Few know of the ancient race of Terronians, creatures as large as planets and similarly shaped. With crater-like eyes and ancient intelligence, they lived peacefully among the stars, communicating via telepathy and subsisting off of the energy released by nearby suns. They had no interest in ruling the universe, they simply wandered from star to star, leaving their old home before the eventual supernova and black hole that would inevitably form. They passed eons this way, tending to the suns and leading nomadic lives, until they quietly disappeared into the annals of history. To this day, they are considered legend and superstition among star travelers.

However, the Terronians did not vanish. They simply hid. To astronomers and travelers today, they simply appear as planets, coated in a thick layer of soil and vegetation. Long ago, they scattered into hiding for unknown reasons, and since then many have remained barren and inert, simply waiting for the telepathic call that would bring them back together. However, some ended up just the right distance from a sun, with just the right vegetation, to support life. And life came, either by the hand of Gods or Mortals. A few of these worlds are now inhabited, though the creatures living there have no idea what lies deep beneath their planet’s surface.

One such Terronian, called Zakaa Sem by its people, was colonized during its slumber. But the enterprising civilizations upon Zakaa Sem grew quickly, and before long much of the surface had been stripped away by mining, construction, and wars. Slowly, Zakaa Sem’s flesh was revealed, and then breached, and commoditized by the people living on it. Zakaa Sem was dying, and many people began to realize that killing the being they lived on would result in their own deaths as well. The bishop of Azros known as Saint Sipho The Healer poured his powerful magic into the planet, healing its wounds and resetting the damage done. However, the effort of healing such a massive creature cost Saint Sipho his life, and now world leaders are acting quickly to ensure Zakaa Sem is taken care of and not exploited once more.

Stroke of a Brush
Spell: Mass Polymorph (XGtE pg. 160)
Once upon a time, the world of Krackaw was like any other. Humans were growing their civilizations, elves hunted in their forest sanctuaries, dwarves toiled beneath the earth, and a multitude of other races swam through the chaos or avoided the trouble brought on by the ruling races. But now, Krackaw is ruled by animals, who keep the simple humanoid races in cages. The birds, lords of the sky, act as the nobility of the world, as they are literally and figuratively far above the common bestial masses.

This came about not long ago, when a Tabaxi hunter named Stroke of a Brush wanted revenge for being treated poorly when she was captured by humans. Unlike many of her people, she was unable to escape the slave trade as it grew across the world. Brush wished deep inside herself for the power to gain revenge on those who had wronged her, and in an instant she changed the world. Brush and her clan, those of the Misty Lakes, were transformed into small felines and able to easily escape through the bars. However, there was hardly a need to escape. The humans guarding them had begun barking and rolling on the ground, while the guard dogs desperately tried to grab keys and spears with their clumsy paws. Brush had got her wish, and the clan escaped.

The world had changed forever. Across the planet, animals inhabited by humanoids found themselves unable to speak properly, perform their jobs and chores, and wear clothing. There was mass panic, and many of them nearly died out. Even worse off were the animals in humanoid bodies. Deprived of their claws and fangs, many starved, or got sick when they tried to eat their usual food. Slowly, things settled down, and order was once again restored. Those who had been transformed into birds set up a system of communication to confirm the situation, which grew into a powerful messaging tool that gave them great power. Birds soon controlled the flow of information, and they slowly subjugated the rest of the people-turned-animals. Now, things are running smoothly, but for only so long as the birds claim they are working on a way to give people back their bodies. In truth, they have no leads and fear for what might come next.

Please make sure to check out the artist!
Eli of Jedoriin
Spell: Meteor Swarm (PHB pg. 259)
Long ago, the great prophet Vegar spoke of a birth that would herald the end of the world. The child would be born of an affair, in a port city during a full moon. For decades, women all along the coast of Jedoriin moved into the country to give birth, often even if they had been faithful to their lovers. A wives’ tale spread, that the salty air of the sea wasn’t good for a newborn anyway, and if it meant the prophecy would never be fulfilled, all the better. Soon, the prophet’s words faded into legend, but the practice of leaving the coast to give birth carried on across the continent.

Nearly a century later, the royal family of the port city of Ealia was embroiled in scandal. The crown prince Elias of Jedoriin, just a few years from his coronation, was discovered to be sleeping with his maidservant Makeda. Despite the fact that he was betrothed to Princess Asphora, Makeda was now pregnant with his child, which was what had caused the entire investigation. The scandal had split the family, and several of the Prince’s close friends and cousins stuck up for his love. They snuck Makeda out of the castle, sequestering her in a safe house near the docks of the city. King Jedrian was furious, but was unable to locate the maid before she gave birth. By the light of the full moon, she birthed a baby boy, who she christened Eli.

The prophecy had been fulfilled. Spiraling out of the sky, hundreds of massive meteors struck the city of Ealia, erasing it in an instant. But it didn’t stop there. Much of the coast of Jedoriin was destroyed, leaving the countries along its border decimated and without access to their trade routes. Rocks fell from the sky in endless droves, like the tears of a hateful God lamenting the birth and death of IIII. The dust from the impacts grew into clouds that blotted out the sun, and the rain turned as thick as silt all across the world. Crops refused to grow, livestock died in droves, and people starved. Those who remained in their castles guarded their food jealously, but eventually the hordes of starving commoners broke inside and ended their reign. Civilizations fell, even as the meteors finally came to an end. Those who survived retreated deep underground or into the relative safety of the Feywild and Shadowfell. It would be many millennia before they could emerge, and by then the very landscape of the world will be changed forever.

We're so close to the finish line. Next week - the final countdown, ending with the most powerful spell of all. Wish.

Thanks for reading!