Friday, September 28, 2018

Failed Magic Items: Dungeon Master's Guide Part 13 (Q-R)

I'm starting to think this is a Staff of Arguing and Fighting or something...

Greetings! Both Will and Jon here for this week's Failed Magic Items. Say hi Jon...

(Hello! It's me, your friendly neighborhood Dungeon Master!)

I'm super busy! This week is a local game developer's expo called GDEX and there's a lot to do. So Jon has graciously offered to assist me in the writing of this week's article.

Here we go!

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Quinn's Heavy Token
"Wondrous" item, rare

This tiny object looks like a feather, however upon further inspection it appears to be made of an incredibly dense material. Once this token is placed on the ground it adopts all the properties of an Immovable Rod until a creature attempts to pick the token up, it then suddenly loses this property and becomes almost weightless. The creature must then succeed in a DC 15 Acrobatics check or fall prone.

Quiver of Ellen
"Wondrous" item, uncommon

This quiver's single large compartment connects to an extradimensional space that allows the quiver to hold numerous items while never weighing more than 2 pounds. The compartment can hold up to sixty arrows, bolts, or similar objects; eighteen javelins or similar objects; and six long objects, such as bows, quarterstaffs, or spears.

Unfortunately the extradimensional space that holds these items is constantly shifting and when you draw from the compartment you will receive one of your stored items at random.

Ring of Animal Affluence
Ring, uncommon

While wearing this ring, every Beast within 120 feet of you appears as if they are wearing noble finery, including jewelry, silk robes, fine coats, and/or elegant shoes. The finery is revealed to be illusory in nature upon closer inspection.

Ring of Djinni Sundering
Ring, very rare (requires attunement)

While wearing this ring, you can speak its command word as an action when you are within 120 feet of any number djinni from the Elemental Plane of Air that aren't hostile towards you. The djinni, seeing you use this item, are immediately offended and become hostile towards you. At the same moment, however, one of the djinni is banished to the Elemental Plane of Air. It remains there and cannot return as long as you concentrate (as if concentrating on a spell), to a maximum of 1 hour. If the concentration is held for the full hour, it remains in the Elemental Plane of Air afterwards. Otherwise, the djinni returns to your location when your concentration is broken.

Any djinni that sees you use this item remains hostile towards you as long as they live. If you are slain by a djinni, it will attempt to take the ring from your body and return to the Elemental Plane of Air to destroy it.

Ring of Elemental Demands
Ring, very rare

This ring is linked to one of the four Elemental Planes. The DM chooses or randomly determines the linked plane.

While wearing this ring, you have disadvantage on saving throws and ability checks made against elementals from the linked plane, and they have advantage on those rolls against you.

Additionally, when an elemental from the linked plane is within 60 feet of you, they can use their action to cast Dominate Monster (save DC 17), targeting you. For the duration of the spell, you can speak and understand the languages the elemental knows. The elemental will force you to perform inane tasks appropriate to its nature, such as blowing air, digging dirt, starting a fire, or spitting on things. Once you have been targeted by this effect, you can't be targeted again until the next dawn.

Ring of Inflation
Ring, rare (requires attunement)

This ring has 3 charges, and it regains 1d3 expended charges daily at dawn. You can spend a charge to inflate like a balloon. You become one size larger than your current size, your movement speed is reduced to 5 feet, and you have disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws. Attack rolls made against you have advantage, and your attack rolls have disadvantage. Additionally, you are buoyant, and can carry creatures on you in water. If the creatures use paddles, you can move as fast as a rowboat in water.
  • Small when inflated: 1 small creature, 2 tiny creatures
  • Medium when inflated: 1 medium/small creature, 4 tiny creatures
  • Large when inflated: 1 large creature, 4 medium/small creatures, 16 tiny creatures
  • Huge when inflated: 1 huge creature, 2 large creatures, 9 medium/small creatures, 36 tiny creatures

Ring of Faster Falling
Ring, rare

While wearing this ring, any falling damage you take is doubled. Additionally, the ring negates any spell or skill used to slow or mitigate one's descent (i.e. the Feather Fall spell).

Ring of Free Actor
Ring, rare (requires attunement)

While wearing this ring, you may speak it's command word to summon a jovial, extraplanar actor from the realm of Olidammara, a god of music and revelry. The actor cannot fight or take hostile actions toward any creature, but it does know a multitude of skits, songs, and poems that they will perform at your request. Once a performance is finished, the actor returns to its home plane of existence.

Once the ring is used in this way, it cannot be used again for 1d4 days.

Ring of Perceived Invisibility
Ring, very rare (requires attunement)

While wearing this ring, you can turn invisible as an action. This invisibility affects only your own perception, any other creature can see you normally. Anything you are wearing or carrying seems to be invisible with you. It remains so until the ring is removed, until you attack or cast a spell, or until you use a bonus action to become visible again.

Ring of Crouching
Ring, uncommon

While wearing this ring, you become crouched and are unable to stand up. You have the prone condition. If you wear this ring for at least 7 days, you begin to gain well-defined calf and thigh muscles, which people might comment on.

Ring of Mind Suppressing
Ring, rare

While wearing this ring, you are under the affects of the Feeblemind spell. Removing the ring ends the effect, but while wearing the ring you are unable to remember this fact. Another creature can remove the ring, but they must already be friendly towards you or you will instinctively guard yourself or attack.

If you die while wearing the ring, your soul enters it, unless it already houses a soul. You can remain in the ring or depart for the afterlife. As long as your soul is in the ring, you can telepathically communicate with any creature wearing it. However, the wearer of the ring is unable to understand language, so this will likely do little good.

Ring of Procrastination
Ring, uncommon

While wearing this ring, you must make a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw before taking any action. If you succeed you may take the action as normal. Upon a failure, you instead waste the action doing something inane and inconsequential all while claiming that you'll have plenty of time to complete the original action later.

Ring of Regurgitation
Ring, very rare (requires attunement)

While wearing this ring, you can use your action to regurgitate any liquid or substance you have swallowed within the past 10 minutes. If the liquid or substance had a magical property, it is nonmagical when regurgitated. If the liquid or substance was poisonous, the effects of the poison end when regurgitated.

Ring of Vulnerability
Ring, rare

You have vulnerability to one damage type while wearing this ring. The gem in the ring indicates the type, which the DM chooses or determines randomly.
  1. Acid: Pearl
  2. Cold: Tourmaline
  3. Fire: Garnet
  4. Force: Sapphire
  5. Lightning: Citrine
  6. Necrotic: Jet
  7. Poison: Amethyst
  8. Psychic: Jade
  9. Radiant: Topaz
  10. Thunder: Spinel

Ring of Shooting Tar
Ring, very rare (requires attunement)

This ring has 3 charges. While wearing this ring, you can use an action to shoot a small glob of sticky tar up to 30 feet, creating a 5 foot by 5 foot patch that acts as difficult terrain. If shot a at a creature, it acts as a single-target Entangle spell. Unfortunately, the tar is boiling hot and every use burns your hand for 1d8 fire damage. Daily at dusk, the ring regains 1d3 charges.

Ring of a Spell of Snoring
Ring, uncommon

This ring causes its wearer to loudly snore, even while awake. The snoring can be heard up to 60 feet away and imparts a -10 penalty to all Stealth checks.

Ring of Spell Backfiring
Ring, very rare

While wearing this ring, any single-target spell that you cast that either misses or is saved against returns to its source and targets you, using the slot level, spell save DC, attack bonus, and spellcasting ability of the caster (also you).

Ring of Drowning
Ring, uncommon

You forget how to swim while wearing this ring. If you enter a body of water, you begin sinking. Any action you take to keep from sinking is met with automatic failure.

Ring of Telemagnetism
Ring, very rare (requires attunement)

While wearing this ring, you can cast the Telekinesis spell at will, but you can target only objects that aren’t being worn or carried. No matter what creature or object you decide to target or where you decide to move it, the creature or object is automatically pulled toward you at considerable speed. The pulled creature or object then makes a ranged attack against your AC. The attack bonus and damage of which is determined by the size of the creature or object...
  • Tiny: +2, 1d4
  • Small: +4, 1d8
  • Medium: +6, 2d6
  • Large: +8, 3d8
  • Huge: +10, 4d10

The type of damage is determined by the DM based on the creature or object that is pulled toward you (i.e. a sword would deal slashing damage, a Kobold might deal bludgeoning damage, etc.).

Ring of Spam
Ring, rare (requires attunement)

This ring has 3 charges, and it regains 1d3 expended charges daily at dawn. While wearing this ring, you can use an action to expend 1 to 3 of its charges and summon a hunk of meat-based product. The meat-based product provides food for a number of people equal to the charges expended, providing enough rations to last one day.

Upon eating the meat-based product, a creature must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, the creature gains one level of exhaustion, and has terrible bowel movements until the level of exhaustion is removed.

Ring of Six Fishes
Ring, uncommon

While wearing this ring, you can use an action to expend one of its 6 charges to summon a small, useless fish. The fish flees if it is able. The ring becomes nonmagical when you use the last charge.

Ring of Too Much Warmth
Ring, uncommon (requires attunement)

While wearing this ring, you have resistance to cold damage. However, you become incredibly uncomfortable, gaining two levels of exhaustion as long as you are wearing any kind of clothing or armor. This includes backpacks, hats, gloves, and shoes, but doesn't include weapon belts or quivers.

Ring of Perceived Water Walking
Ring, uncommon

While wearing this ring, you are under the effect of an illusion similar to the Phantasmal Force spell. You believe you can walk on water, and are frustrated when you can't. However, you believe this is the result of something pushing you or pulling you under the surface, not the ring.

Ring of No Vision
Ring, uncommon

While you wear this ring, you are Blinded.

Robe of Literal Eyes
"Wondrous" item, rare (requires attunement)

This robe is weighed down by literal eyes sewn into socket-like pockets in the fabric. While wearing this robe, the following effects occur automatically:
  • When you are sad or upset, the robe becomes soaked in tears.
  • When you wake up in the morning, the robe is covered in crusty gunk.
  • When you are tired, the fabric around the eyes becomes loose and baggy.
  • The robe lets you see in all directions, and you have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.

The eyes on the robe can't be closed or averted. Although you can close or avert your own eyes, you are never considered to be doing so while wearing this robe.

A light spell cast on the robe or a daylight spell cast within 5 feet of the robe causes you to be blinded for 1 minute. At the end of each of your turns, you can make a Constitution saving throw (DC 11 for light or DC 15 for daylight), ending the blindness on a success.

A creature can choose to poke the eyes on the robe instead of attacking you directly. They make their attack roll with advantage, and on a hit, you become blinded in one eye until the start of that creature's next turn. If another attack hits in the same manner, you become fully blinded until at least one of your eyes regains its function.

Robe of Scantily Clad Colors
"Wondrous" item, rare (requires attunement)

This robe has 3 charges, and it regains 1d3 expended charged daily at dawn. While you wear it, you can use an action and expend one charge to cause the garment to become completely see-through until the end of your next turn. During this time, the robe makes it appear as if your body is of a shape and color of your choice, and that you are wearing lingerie in the color and style of your choice.

Robe of Tar
"Wondrous" item, very rare (requires attunement)

This pitch-black robe smells like boiling mud, and leaves small black drips wherever it goes. The weight and smell impose a -1 penalty to saving throws while you wear it.

Six rather large gobs of tar on the robe's upper front portion are particularly sticky. While wearing this robe, you can use an action to pull of one of the gobs and throw it, creating a patch of sticky tar equivalent to an Entangle spell. Daily at dusk, 1d6 removed gobs reform on the robe.

Robe of Arch Support
"Wondrous" item, rare (requires attunement by a sorcerer, warlock, or wizard)

This elegant garment is made from exquisite cloth and adorned with silvery runes. You gain the following benefits while wearing the robe:
  • You can travel an additional hour on foot each day with no penalty
  • You gain a +1 bonus to dexterity saving throws

Robe of Useless Items
"Wondrous" item, uncommon

This robe has cloth patches of various shapes and colors covering it. While wearing the robe, you can use an action to detach one of the patches, causing it to become the object or creature it represents. Once the last patch is removed, the robe becomes an ordinary garment.

The robe has two of each of the following patches:
  • Toothpick
  • Lantern (oil and flame not included)
  • Moldy bread
  • 1-foot pole
  • Dental Floss (50 feet, coiled)
  • Sandal (just one)

In addition, the robe has 4d4 other patches. The DM chooses the patches or determines them randomly.
  • 01-08: Bag of 100 cp
  • 09-15: Iron coffer
  • 16-22: Rotted Door (up to 10 feet wide and 10 feet high), which you can place in an opening you can reach; it conforms to fit the opening, attaching and hinging itself
  • 23-30: 10 worthless glass gems that fail close inspection
  • 31-44: Wooden ladder (2 feet long)
  • 45-51: A Giant Fire Beetle (hostile, see Monster Manual for statistics)
  • 52-59: A pile of dirt, enough to fill a cube 10 feet on a side
  • 60-68: 4 Potions of Poison
  • 69-75: Rowboat (12 feet long, full of holes)
  • 76-83: Blank Scroll of parchment
  • 84-90: 2 Wolves (hostile, see the Monster Manual for statistics)
  • 91-96: Ugly painting (2 feet by 4 feet), which you can place on a vertical surface you can reach
  • 97-00: A Ram (hostile, use the goat statistics from the Monster Manual)

Rod of Autoconflagration
Rod, very rare (requires attunement)

While holding this rod, you can use your reaction to absorb a spell that is targeting only you and not with an area of effect. The absorbed spell's effect is canceled, and the spell's energy - not the spell itself - is converted into heat that causes you to be set aflame. At the start of each of your turns, you take 1d10 fire damage per level of the spell being cast. Cantrips deal 1 fire damage at the start of your turn. This damage continues until you or another creature use an action to douse the fire.

The Rod can absorb up to 50 levels of spell energy over the course of its existence. If you are targeted by a spell that has more energy than the rod can contain, the rod does not absorb the spell, and instead explodes into a Fireball (3rd level, Save DC 15) spell centered on the rod. The rod is destroyed by this explosion.

Rod of Alerting
Rod, very rare

This rod has a flanged head and the following properties.

Alerting. While holding the rod, it makes a loud clanking noise. You have disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks and on rolls for initiative.

Spells. While holding the rod, you can use an action to cast Minor Illusion, causing a noise only.

Rod of Peasantly Might
Rod, rare (requires attunement)

This rod has a flanged head, and it functions as a magic mace. The rod has properties associated with six different buttons that are set in a row along the haft.

Six Buttons. You can press one of the rod's six buttons as a bonus action. A button's effect lasts until you push a different button or until you push the same button again, which causes the rod to revert to its normal form.

If you press button 1, the rod unfolds into a hoe, suitable for removing rocks and preparing fields with.

If you press button 2, the rod extends into a scythe, too large to wield in combat but excellent for cutting down wheat.

If you press button 3, the rod transforms into a 6-foot shovel, useful for digging up holes.

If you press button 4, the rod transforms into a 10-foot ladder, with no special features allowing it to be held steady.

If you press button 5, the rod grows and unfolds into a handheld plow, making the task of creating long furrows of dirt quite easy.

If you press button 6, the assumes or remains in its normal form and tells you the current weather in the immediate area you are in. If the rod is warm, it is sunny. If the rod is wet, it is raining. If the rod gets blown out of your hand, it is windy. If the rod disappears, it is quite windy.

Rod of the Pact Breaker
Rod, uncommon (-1), rare (-2), or very rare (-3) (requires attunement by a warlock)

While holding this rod, you gain a penalty to spell attack rolls and to the saving throw DCs of your warlock spells. The bonus is determined by the rod's rarity.

In addition, whenever you regain Warlock spell slots, you gain one less than you normally would.

Rod of Damnation
Rod, legendary (requires attunement by an evil cleric, druid, or paladin)

The rod has 5 charges. While you hold it, you can use an action to cast one of the following spells from it: harm (expends 1 charge) or reincarnation (expends 5 charges). A creature affected by these spells has its soul tied to the Nine Hells upon their death.

The rod regains 1 expended charge daily at dawn. If thee rod is reduced to 0 charges, roll a d20. On a 1, the rod disappears in a burst of darkness.

Rod of Servitude
Rod, rare (requires attunement)

You can use an action to present the rod and meekly request the attention of each creature that you can see within 120 feet of you. Each of those creatures makes a DC 15 Charisma check. On a success, you are considered charmed by those creatures for 8 hours. You regard them as your trusted leaders. If a creature harms you or your companions, or commands you to do something contrary to your nature, you are no longer charmed in this way by that creature. The rod can't be used again until the next dawn.

Rod of Insecurity
Rod, rare

While holding this rod, you can use an action to activate it. You and up to 199 creatures you can see must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or blurt out an incredibly embarrassing secret about yourselves. The rod can't be used again for 10 days.

Rope of Untying
"Wondrous" item, uncommon

This 60-foot length of silk rope weighs 3 pounds and can hold up to 3,000 pounds. However, the rope is incredibly slippery and cannot by held onto or knotted in any manner. Even knots made in the middle of the rope magically untie themselves 1 round after being tied.

The rope has AC 20 and 20 hit points. It regains 1 hit point every 5 minutes as long as it has at least 1 hit point. If the rope drops to 0 hit points, it is destroyed.

Rope of Self-Entanglement
"Wondrous" item, rare

This rope is 30 feet long and weighs 3 pounds. If you hold one end of the rope and use an action to speak its command word, the other end darts around you and ties you up, causing you to become restrained.

You can release yourself from the rope by using a bonus action to speak a second command word. Also, you can use an action to make a DC 15 Strength or Dexterity check (your choice). On a success, you are no longer restrained by the rope.

The rope has AC 20 and 20 hit points. It regains 1 hit point every 5 minutes as long as it has at least 1 hit point. If the rope drops to 0 hit points, it is destroyed.

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And that's all for now! We'll see you next time.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Innate Magic People Part 11

This week's artist is Stu Harrington, an up-and-coming artist with a lot of cool works! Some of them are based on existing universes, so I tried to get those with a more generic theme for this article.
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 eleventh in this series, and covers the first half of the eighth-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.

Mara Dazi
Spell: Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting (XGtE pg. 150)
Her name is whispered in the streets of every city of the world, Mara the dust-bringer, Mara the Desiccated, Mara sand-drinker. Not long ago, she appeared in Uscios, the largest port city in the world, demanding fealty or death. Not a week later, the city had been turned into a dry, crumbling ruin. The country it was in had been reduced to a desert. No life remained that she did not will to survive. Those who swore their lives to her were spared, forced to serve her hand and foot. They were allowed to drink water, though never in front of Mara Dazi. The sight disgusted her.

The loss of dozens of shipping routes and millions of gold worth of provisions dealt a blow to the countries surrounding the Bay of Glea. They gathered together to wipe out this terrifying threat, but one by one their lands were reduced to scorching deserts. Meanwhile, Mara’s cadre of servants continued to grow, until the small nomadic band of warriors became an army in its own right. Those who were spared the desert’s wrath were forced to join their group as well, providing food and services for Mara’s war efforts.

The news of this terrible catastrophe has finally reached the ears of King Alric, Lord of Oturis, the greatest military bastion on the Northern shores. The Sand-Drinker plans to spread across the continent of Gleatiir, taking out Oturis and claiming the whole of the continent for herself. But even if she is stopped, the damage may be too late. The scorched sands have already begun to alter the climate of the continent, or perhaps the world. The snow that frosts the walls of Oturis has already begun to recede, and King Alric is worried that this is not the result of an early Spring, but a sign of the coming of Mara the Desiccated.

Rois Ashvin
Spell: Animal Shapes (PHB pg. 212)
The islands of Imelix are difficult to find. Located in a vast ocean of storms and sea monsters, it is rare for outsiders to survive the trip to find the islands. However, those who do are rewarded with a sight that would leave scholars in tears: ancient ruins, perfectly preserved, with millennia of history carved into their walls. They have not been destroyed by war or erased by vandals. They lie in the eye of the great storm that surrounds them, untouched by rain and foul weather. The only occupants seem to be the numerous animals that occupy the islands. Those who built the ruins seemed to have vanished suddenly and permanently.

The story of this mystery goes back thousands of years, when the people of the Imelix islands still lived happy lives on their small islands. They sailed, fished, built, shared stories, and never dared to pass through the wall of storms that surrounded their society. But one day, a boat washed ashore. Its passenger had black skin and white hair, thin ears and a starved, skeletal figure. The people of the islands took him in, but noticed a rash of disappearances happening in the village harboring him. Unable to communicate with him, they killed him. And at that moment, the people of every island were transformed into every manner of animal. It’s unknown if the stranger had anything to do with the kidnappings, but he was certainly responsible for the abandonment of the ruins.

Recently, rumors have begun to fly in ports around the world that the ten-thousand-year storm might finally be coming to an end. The mystery of the islands of Imelix will finally be open to the world, and those who can decipher the ancient mystery might discover the ancient treasure of the people of the island - a vault filled with priceless gems, gold, and history.

Ab-chillies, demigod of abs
Bora Jin
Spell: Antimagic Field (PHB pg. 213)
Everyone still speaks about the day the magic died, even though it happened over a decade ago. The world changed into an apocalyptic landscape overnight, with protection spells failing, experiments going awry, and magically-restrained monsters breaking their bonds. All across the continent of Hislura, cities and homes were pillaged, wizards were gathered and interrogated, and chaos ruled for the first time in one thousand years. Finally, a scholar named Felix Gaos discovered a prophecy that foretold of this tragedy, but was lost to time with great consequence. All signs pointed to a child born at the zenith of the fall of magic.

To Tikva Jin, her child Bora was perfect, even if she could no longer use any of her spells of healing as soon as her child came into this world. Their home in the great city of Atoris, along the coast of Hislura darkened with the loss of magic. Tikva knew that a call had gone out to find a child born at the moment of the magical collapse, and fled with her progeny. She established her family in a new city, Daphith, and claimed her child had been born a few days before the incident. This small town had never heard of the prophecy, and thought the end of magic was caused by a greater demon or archdevil. After a fruitless search, the world slowly adjusted to the lack of magic in it, and young Bora was allowed to grow up like any other child.

As Bora grew up, they always felt somewhat strange. Despite the world losing all its magic, the child had occasional flashes of arcane power, coinciding with mysterious magical recurrences all over the world. Magic mechanisms long-dead would spring to life for a brief moment, potions would glow mysteriously for a few seconds, and someone reading a spellbook might accidentally set off a fireball spell. After great pressure, Tikva revealed the truth to her child: Bora might indeed be the reason magic left the world. Now, they must face the reality that a small emotional outburst might be enough to reignite the arcane flame of the world, with the potential to cause a second great catastrophe in their time.

Jacinth Wayson
Spell: Antipathy/Sympathy (PHB pg. 214)
Jacinth Wayson is only seven and already has the perfect life. In her lavish castle, everyone loves her, adores her, and will do anything for her. Five of her maids fought over who would help Jacinth pick out a dress, and her three fathers obey every whim she has, from asking for a pet deer, to creating a garden out of candy and sweets. Everyone she meets when she walks through town greets her and wishes her well, and not one person who has met her has ever had a bad thought about Jacinth.

In fact, she is so beloved that her protectors are beginning to fear for her safety. Not that anyone would harm her, of course. The more she is seen walking amongst people, the more people want to follow her and protect her. And the greater their desire to protect her, the more cult-like factions spring up around her, leading to infighting between the members of her following. The opportunity to get close to Jacinth leads to bloody and vicious politics, with backstabbing and even war. Jacinth barely understands, only becoming sad whenever a friend dies. No one in her service lets her stay sad for very long, however, and her attention is constantly vied for.

As Jacinth’s following grows, so does the tension among the nations surrounding her homeland of Klosia. The political unrest in Klosia has caused several nations to attack the borders, but they invariably surrender when Jacinth appears before them. Troops swear fealty to their new queen, then return to their homes and slaughter those who disagree with them. Jacinth never sees this, though. Nobody would dare upset her with stories of bloodshed and violence. All they want to do is to keep her happy, to love her, to protect her. Forever.

Kalypso Runi
Spell: Clone (PHB pg. 222)
In the large country of Ubul, The Masked are elites that rule over every branch of government and power-filled entity that exists, from the Teqen mountains to the Emon coast thousands of miles away. The Masked run the largest companies, the churches, and guilds, not to mention the underworld and black markets as well. Everyone in this upper echelon wears a unique, distinguishing mask that displays different animals and emotions, from the pleasant to the grotesque and disturbing. They have an iron grip on the machinations of Ubul.

The commoners, or the Unmasked, are treated as lessers in society, filling the roles as workers, makers, laborers. They don’t have any power against The Masked, and uprisings are quickly silenced by Masked warriors. The Masked make all of the decisions, and rumor has it they can all communicate telepathically. Never once has a member of the Masked cracked, given in to the Unmasked, or defected. The only times they speak to The Unmasked are to hand down instructions or sentencing for a crime.

What the Unmasked don’t know is The Masked is comprised of one person and their impressive collection of clones. Every Masked wears the same face beneath their disguise, hence the need for varied masks. Kalypso Runi has been ruling over Ubul for years, and has finally expanded to fill all the roles of importance in the expansive country. Their next step is to take over the world, and share their totalitarian way of life across the map. They have already started making bids for power in the villages of the Teqen mountains, and extending their reach from the ports along the Emon coast. 

The dead start to walk in their masquerade...
Sabiya Kiwid
Spell: Control Weather (PHB pg. 228)
They call it the Age of Calamity. For 700 years storms raged, destroying the world as it was known. Coastal cities were wiped off the map, followed by inland cities, followed by mountainous societies, until there was no place on the planet that was safe from the surging wind and torrential rain. Countries were disbanded, law and order fell, and those who survived the first assault found terribly few other places they could settle down. Even among the safest havens in the world, there was little hope. The Underdark flooded, the deep-sea societies of sea elves and Tritons were wracked with terrible currents, even the highest peaks of the Cubreon mountains were struck by rogue lightning and the occasional tornado.

The communities that survived became masters of reading the wind, trying to stay just a few steps ahead of the storms. Among them was an elven woman named Sabiya Kiwid, who seemed to be able to guide her clan to safety with great reliability. She was known as Sabiya the Wind-Wise, but her true nature was never revealed, even to her. The truth is, she was not only able to understand the winds but also command them, and every minor emotions acted as a butterfly effect that set the world into catastrophic disequilibrium. In fact, the Age of Calamity came to a close when Sabiya finally passed away, allowing the ecosystem to no longer be subject to her whims.

The world had irrevocably changed. There were no great civilizations any more, just groups of nomads digging through the wreckage and hoping to survive. Even the harshest of jungles and the sturdiest of mountains had been ground into compost by centuries of unrelenting rain. The land was flat, barren, and flooded. People were drawn to the deep waters, where fish still spawned and could provide food. And there, they found deep wells of wrecked structures and ruins, waiting to be plundered for any magic or metal that had been left behind from the previous age. These pockets of dead civilizations were the only thing giving society hope, with the uncertain promise that the skeletons of the old world could form the foundation for a new one.

Nalzar Vruan
Spell: Demiplane (PHB pg. 231)
Many people dismissed the diviners and their portents when they claimed the world was about to come to an end. But when the giant meteor began to fill the sky, the people of Vennris began panicking. Day after day, it got larger, and the world lamented its fate with screams and sobs. When the rock was the only thing in sight where the stars normally lay, the world was enveloped in a cold darkness. People thought the world was lost to the rock, but no one had died. There was much confusion amongst the Vennrisians, but nothing had been destroyed.

After a few more days, people realized they had been saved from the meteor - but doomed to a worse fate. There was no more sun, no more stars, maybe even no more moon. Just darkness and cold. In the passing years, millions of people were lost to the lack of warmth from the sun. Crops died, and the survivors were forced underground, battling for their lives in the Underdark. The Upworlders began to colonize closer to the core, which provided warmth, and utilized magic to grow plants and keep some animals for sustenance. It was a difficult life, but the planet hadn’t been destroyed.

The cause of the new atmosphere was accidentally due to Nalzar Vruan, a young drow who had a soft spot for the surface. He had been exploring nearby waterfalls and surface caves, and wished that this beautiful world would not be destroyed. The darkness was sudden and overwhelming to him, and he believed that Lolth had chosen to punish him because of his selfish wish. Now, even though he is still alive, no one can live on the beautiful surface of this wonderful place, all because of him and his selfish desires.

Nerissa
Spell: Dominate Monster (PHB pg. 235)
Nerissa, born on a ship with limited food, was abandoned to the Ezeth Ocean as a baby, but did not drown. She was rescued by a young Kraken, who reached out to her and introduced himself telepathically as C’thurix. The two became fast friends, and C’thurix helped Nerissa find food, air, and drinkable water. C’thurix was so astonished that a human would abandon their child so freely that he tracked down the boat Nerissa was from and broke it into pieces, eating all of the people on board, which pleased Nerissa.

As she grew up, Nerissa and C’thurix traveled the world, meeting other Krakens in other seas. She was acknowledged by more and more kraken, and gained their trust, gathering an army of the terrible beasts. By the time she was a teenager, she was organizing kraken attacks throughout the Nine Green Seas of Stratalig├╝s. She had memorized every port city and the major ship traffic coming in and out of the areas, and directed her kraken friends to feast on the juiciest passenger-filled ships. Word spread among the titans of the sea, and soon all kraken were guided by her for all things, and she revelled helping her friends take revenge on the land dwellers that abandoned her.

Kraken attacks all across the nine seas became more and more rampant, and people started to fear for their lives, and suggest some other form of travel might be a better solution to sacrificing their lives to the depths of the green seas. Magical vehicles that could skim just above the surface of the water were tested over the ocean, and never seen or heard from again. The Ezeth Ocean is extremely perilous, and the many trade routes and passenger ships that were established in the area are now destroyed, leaving many without food and commerce.

The face when you can't contain the power inside you
Cullodina Moss
Spell: Earthquake (PHB pg. 236)
The world of Daylenia constantly feels like it is about to fall apart. Houses, both sturdy and fragile, fall to the constant tremors that occur almost every moment. Animals initially panicked, but since this has been happening for over 20 years, they have been adjusting slowly to not panic from the tremors. People have also begun to adapt, building flexible houses and buildings that are not swayed by the constant tremors. Life has carried forward.

These tremors do not startle Cullodina Moss. She has lived with them all her life, and has noticed she feels more nervous whenever the stronger earth-shakes happen. Once, she saw a boy she thought was cute, causing her heart to pound, then the earth shook violently, the boy was almost killed by falling rocks. That was when she realized the earth shook with her. With every beat of her heart, the earth murmurs along.

Since her painful discovery, Cullodina has tried to live as calm a life as possible. She has traveled to a few different monasteries to try and learn to control her heartbeat, and practice mindful meditation to prevent anyone else from harm from this dangerous and deadly gift the gods bestowed upon her. She doesn’t dare try to end her life, as the resulting fright might tear the world apart.

Synar Leith
Spell: Feeblemind (PHB pg. 237)
Legend has it the river Styx has overflowed its banks a few times, when the number of dead souls from the material plane is higher than usual. This was only a superstition, until after the War of Seven Ways, where millions were been slain in battle, and even more died from lack of adequate provisions due to the blockade created by the Jistras and the Dibes. After the massacre at the Lupux Falls, some if the villagers in the surrounding area began to act in a most unbecoming way. They wandered around in a daze, unable to talk or do anything but seek food. More and more succumbed to this curse of stupidity, and the locals blamed the war for raising the River Styx up to the material plane.

Soon, this curse spread to the army of Lycrea, allowing them to be decimated entirely by the Jistrasi Army. The Jistras soldiers noted that the Lycrean warriors just wandered around flinging weapons at anything, moaning incoherently and unable to protect themselves or fight with spells. When the Jistrasi army started to contract this curse, General Innys tried in vain to prevent his soldiers from succumbing to it. Soon, the victors of the War of Seven Ways were ripe for conquering, their soldiers turned to dullards.

However, the root of this curse can be traced back to a single man. Synar Leith, a wandering hermit, brings those who would fight to their proverbial knees by cursing them with incredible amounts of stupidity. He believes that he is the River Styx personified, an emissary of the lord of Hades, sent to prolong the war and make it bloodier and deadlier than any before it. The river will rise, perhaps so much that it will overtake Olympus and grant his master victory against the Gods of Good.

Fayanna Tasse
Spell: Glibness (PHB pg. 245)
Fayanna Tasse never wanted to rule the world, but she does. She managed to get a chance to make a few suggestions on how to improve the monarchy, and surprisingly, King Credon listened. She jokingly mentioned that she could rule better than the king to his top adviser, Laila Abninger, and next thing she knew, Laila planned a coup that overthrew the King. Now, Fayanna has moved from lowly kitchen maid in the palace to Supreme Empress, all before the age of 15. Her decisions are law, and people listen to and believe every word she says.

She realized she was special at a young age, when she was joking with a childhood friend. “The sky, it’s so orange right now,” she said in jest. Eliott, her friend, rapidly agreed. Fayanna always thought Eliott had been joking with her right back, but the next incident proved that there was some strange magic at work. While walking through the market, she was feeling rather hungry, but didn’t have any money. Going up to a stall selling fruit, Fayanna told the merchant that the durian was free. “Of course! It’s free young lady,” and he handed her the fruit, no questions asked. Fayanna realized she had some strange ability beyond that of her peers.

As Supreme Empress, Fayanna travels the world to deliver speeches and try to make things better for people. She informed slavers that free people work harder and better, and they agreed. The slave trade came to a grinding halt. She informed the wealthiest merchants that they should invest their earnings into their employees, not their own flights of fancy. Suddenly, everyone was much wealthier, and the economy exploded. In this world, whatever Supreme Empress Fayanna says, goes. The people obey her without a second thought. And there haven’t been any problems… yet.

For crazy magic people, remember to make them look really weird
Cyram Malakai
Spell: Holy Aura (PHB pg. 251)
Once upon a time, the world was plagued by unending hordes of undead. The land was covered in darkness, and the people feared for their lives and afterlives, afraid to die and come back to harm their loved ones. On the darkest day, when the sun was blotted out by the moon, a walking angel appeared. With magnificent golden pale wings, the angel banished the undead into the ground for forever and a day, “but no longer,” he warned.

That “angel” was a mortal, but was still the child of a fallen angel, and he called himself Cyram Malakai. He soared over every land in the world, banishing swarms of ghouls and ghasts to rest in their graves, and rendering the world safe from these horrific creatures. Slowly, people returned to the light, and rebuilt their society. Cyram Malakai became a legendary hero, joining the pantheon of Gods worshiped in nearly every culture. The time of darkness was over, the undead menace was gone.

The legend of Cyram was carried on for over a millennia. That is, until one day, when an undead creature was found in a dark tomb deep below the surface of the world. The zombie was no threat, but the legends said the undead were gone for good. No church had practiced the art of fighting undead for centuries. Since then, more and more undead have begun appearing, and the menace seems to be returning. As the world is slowly enveloped by darkness once again, those who remember the legend of the angel pray for his return to bring the light back to the world.

Ryoko Kaliyah
Spell: Illusory Dragon (XGtE pg. 157)
Ryoko Kaliyah, The Dragon Queen, has ruled over the lands of Oria for nearly a hundred years. She gets both her name and her longevity from her half-dragon nature, causing her normally long elven lifespan to extend monumentally longer. She appears only in her middle ages, despite her century-long rule. However, the comparisons to dragonkind don’t just end at her lifespan and appearance. She rules like a draconic tyrant, and has an ancient black dragon named Qiangxin constantly by her side to defend her.

Her greatest victory was conquering the dragons themselves. 700 years ago, when she was a mere Warlord, she and Qiangxin began a campaign of slaughter to wipe out dragons from the world of Eosura. Beginning in the lands of Oria, she systematically found and killed every dragon she could get her blade into. Dragons had long plagued the nations of man, and Ryoko was hailed as the hero who had tamed the mighty beast Qiangxin and turned him against the scaled tyrants. It took centuries, but finally Ryoko completed her quest, and returned to Oria to receive ceremonies of the highest honors from King Yorge.

But when she arrived, Ryoko and Qiangxin destroyed the castle of King Yorge and took over the country. With no dragons left to oppose her, and the only one left by her side, she faced little opposition to taking the throne. Many commoners even supported her conquest, believing a hero who had rid them of the dragons would be fair and just compared to a scheming political king. But for the hundred years that followed, the people quickly learned that Ryoko was merely planning to run the country of Oria into the ground to meet her further ambition: conquering the entire world.

Keme Chanan
Spell: Incendiary Cloud (PHB pg. 253)
Some dark wizards have been known to belch forth clouds of flies or gouts of flame when confronted with a foe. Keme Chanan, however, is far more dangerous and powerful than such trifling summoners. His eyes burn with a deep fire, smoke curls around his lips, and his skin shifts like living magma. Some wizards and sorcerers becomes quite invested in their magic, but Keme has become consumed by it. Those who face him in battle risk the loss of their entire country, not just their lives.

It happened once before, in fact. When Keme was undergoing training to control his magic, he unleashed a mountain of fire and smoke so great that the sky was darkened over the city of Obune where he lived. The spell he cast rung out with a terrible thunder, rupturing the ear drums of all those within 5 miles of the city. The air became thick with smog and choking embers, descending on the city with terrible speed. Those who had heard the sound stumbled from their homes, only to be immolated in a hail of fire. Animals died, crops were blighted, and the city was left in ruins. Only Keme survived, but for the next several years the color of the sky itself was tainted by the chemicals in the air, an effect seen across the globe.

Keme stumbled from the burning wreckage of the city, bringing his burning cloud of ash with him across the country he once called home. He sought some meaning to his suffering, some way to understand the gravity of the loss he had just experienced, but the thought of losing everything drove him mad. Now, the world is simply an empty answer to the question he cannot comprehend, ready to fall at his will. The magic has completely consumed his body and mind, and the lords of the known world are quickly convening to put a stop to this disaster.

Again, please check out Stu Harrington!
Bron Dolan
Spell: Maddening Darkness (XGtE pg. 160)
It was a day like any other when the darkness came. The air turned black as pitch, and the world suddenly turned blind. Even those who could see in darkness were robbed of their sight. Civilizations crumbled, people screamed out into the dark for those they knew. They clung to food and weapons, unsure how long either would last. And even worse were the whispers. Everyone could hear them, but nobody could tell where they were coming from. People began going mad trying to find the source of the voices, or from losing their sight. The world of Plasuin became blank and hollow.

During this time, two groups rose to prominence. The first were the monsters who could sense vibrations or heat from the air. No longer kept at bay by the sun, the surface was flooded with Grimlocks, Umber Hulks, and Oozes. Those who had managed to cling to power or establish refugee groups all eventually fell beneath the assault of the monsters. The surface became a deadly place, and even cities were torn asunder by blind, burrowing monsters that no longer had any reason to shy away from the flesh of humanity.

The other group was the Xigh Cabal of Warlocks, who had trained their minds and vision for such events as this. They were the ones who discovered Bron Dolan, the child whose birth coincided with the maddening darkness. Nearly a decade after the air went black, they abducted and sacrificed the young boy to bring the sun back. And, to the relief of all of the world, it worked. The monsters retreated back into the earth, and the time of darkness was over. But countless civilizations had fallen, refugees were sparse and starving, or driven completely mad. The Cabal has the opportunity to become a political powerhouse like Plasuin has never seen, and they have their work cut out for them.

That's all for now! Next time, we'll finish up the 8th-level spells and get into the 9th-level spells. Oh boy!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Old News: Monster Sheet Update

But spreadsheets set me free!
Greetings, all!

This will be a short article, but I wanted to post my updated version of the monster sheet. It contains every monster published by Wizards of the Coast, and a few other major books like Tome of Beasts and Fifth Edition Foes.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1C5yPh8QSG3gEzeFrp_8GceShJ6UM23SrcQdx6vO9YcI

I'll be trying to keep this updated even after the blog goes quiet, so please feel free to use it!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Creature Loot: Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes M - Q

"How to turn your fantasy romp into a Planescape campaign" by Chris Perkins
The march continues! This week, we're off to distant lands to explore the monsters M through Q. Yes, I know this book has no monsters in the P and Q categories, but next week is R and I don't want people thinking I skipped anything.

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!

Marut (25) - construct (arcana)
  • 4 Marut Armor: Acts as a magic shield +2. Can be mastercrafted (smith's tools) into Plate Armor +2 or Half-Plate armor +2, which require attunement. While attuned to the armor, a creature is immune to any spell or effect that would alter its form.
  • 4 Marut Wings: No immediate use. If 4 of these are attached to a vehicle that is large or smaller (smith's tools), the vehicle gains the ability to fly 30 feet. This flight is considered hovering.
  • 4 Marut Limbs: A creature holding the limb can use their action to make a DC 27 Intelligence (Arcana) check. On a success, a creature within 5 feet of the limb takes 60 force damage, and is pushed up to 5 feet away from the limb if it is large or smaller. The limb then becomes nonmagical.
  • 4 Marut Arcane Cores: A creature holding the arcane core can use their action to make a DC 27 Intelligence (Arcana) check. On a success, Energy emanates from the core in a 60-foot cube. Every creature in that area takes 45 radiant damage. Each creature that takes any of this damage must succeed on a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw or be stunned until the end of the user's next turn. The core then becomes nonmagical.
  • 4 Marut Determinism Engines: A creature holding the arcane core can use their action to make a DC 27 Intelligence (Arcana) check. On a success, the engine activates. The next attack roll targeting a creature within 5 feet of the engine automatically hits. Once the attack occurs, the engine becomes nonmagical.
  • 4 Marut Planar Antennae: Acts as a tuning fork for the Plane Shift spell. The spell leads to the Hall of Concordance in Sigil, the City of Doors.
  • 1 Marut Visual Justification Sensor: A creature holding the sensor can use their action to make a DC 27 Intelligence (Arcana) check. on a success, they can point the sensor at a creature they can see within 60 feet. The target must succeed on a DC 20 Charisma saving throw or be teleported to a teleportation circle in the Hall of Concordance in Sigil. A target fails  automatically if it is incapacitated. The creature that activated the sensor is teleported with the target to the circle. Once used this way, the sensor becomes nonmagical.

Meazel (1) - humanoid (survival)
  • 1 Tattered Garrote: Simple Weapon, Finesse, Two-handed. 1d6 bludgeoning damage on a hit, and the target is grappled (escape DC 8 + Proficiency Modifier + Strength or Dexterity Modifier).
  • 1 Tattered Shortsword
  • 1d4 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.

Nagpa (17) - humanoid (survival)
  • 1 Staff of the Nagpa: Requires attunement. An attuned creature can use their action to target one creature within 90 feet of it. The target must make a DC 20 Charisma saving throw. An evil creature makes the save with disadvantage. On a failed save, the target is charmed by the attuned creature until the start of the attuned creature's next turn . On a successful save, the target becomes immune to the staff for the next 24 hours. Curse. If the attuned creature sees a city that isn't destroyed, they must succeed on a DC 20 Charisma saving throw or become frightened of the city. The attuned creature must wait 7 days before they are able to reattempt the saving throw. If the city is destroyed, the frightened condition ends.
  • 2d4 Healing Potions
  • 1 Arcane Focus
  • 4d4 books (ancient and valuable)
  • 1 Spellbook. Contains 2 random spells of 5th level or less that can be copied by a wizard
  • 2d4 Skill Books. Contain knowledge concerning a certain skill and topic that the Nagpa was interested in. For example: History (The Raven Queen). Using the book for 5 minutes is equivalent on rolling a 15 on the related skill
  • 2 Flasks of Alchemist’s Fire
  • 1 Map to a nearby Nagpa tower
  • 1d2 Nagpa Eyes: No immediate use. Can be mastercrafted (alchemist’s supplies) into a Potion of Truesight (grants truesight out to 60 feet for 1 hour).
  • 2d4 Nagpa Claws: Acts as a magic dagger. On a hit, if the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. A paralyzed target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. Undead and constructs are immune to this effect. Once the dagger scores a hit, even if the creature is not paralyzed, it loses this feature.
This picture raises a lot of questions about the Nagpa's physiology. I've never seen a bird with a hunch before.

Nightwalker (20) - undead (religion)
  • 10d4 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.
  • 5d4 Negative Energy Motes: Any non-undead creature takes 14 (4d6) necrotic damage if it starts its turn within 30 feet of the mote. A creature that takes this damage must succeed on a DC 21 Constitution saving throw or its hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the necrotic damage dealt. This reduction lasts until the creature finishes a long rest. A creature that dies within 30 feet of the mote can't be revived by any means short of a wish spell.
  • 5d4 Shards of the Nightwalker: Difficult to hold. Deals 14 (4d6) necrotic damage to any creature holding it, though a creature can't take this damage more than once a round. A creature holding the shard can use it to cause a creature it can see within 300 feet of it make a DC 21 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the target takes 26 (4d12) necrotic damage and is frightened of the shard until the end of the user's next turn. If this damage kills the creature, it dies and can't be revived by any means short of a wish spell. The shard is destroyed when used.

Oblex

Oblex Spawn (1/4) - ooze (arcana)
  • 1 Glob of Oblex Jelly: The glob deals 1d4 psychic damage to the first humanoid it comes in direct contact with. The glob can be used as a ranged weapon with a range of 20/60 by using a glove or other throwing mechanism.

Adult Oblex (5) - ooze (arcana)
  • 3d4 Globs of Oblex Jelly: The glob deals 1d4 psychic damage to the first humanoid it comes in direct contact with. The glob can be used as a ranged weapon with a range of 20/60 by using a glove or other throwing mechanism.
  • 1d4+1 Memory Globules: Contains the memories of a creature, including its languages and proficiencies, except saving throw proficiencies. The creature can be communicated with using Detect Thoughts or similar magic. If the memory globule is inserted into a living Oblex, the Oblex gains the memories of the creature within the globule. A creature that is subject to the Oblex's Eat memories action is included in the memory globules.

Voted sexiest ooze by Jubilex itself
Elder Oblex (10) - ooze (arcana)
  • 5d4 Globs of Oblex Jelly: The glob deals 1d4 psychic damage to the first humanoid it comes in direct contact with. The glob can be used as a ranged weapon with a range of 20/60 by using a glove or other throwing mechanism.
  • 2d6+1 Memory Globules: Contains the memories of a creature, including its languages and proficiencies, except saving throw proficiencies. The creature can be communicated with using Detect Thoughts or similar magic. If the memory globule is inserted into a living Oblex, the Oblex gains the memories of the creature within the globule. A creature that is subject to the Oblex's Eat memories action is included in the memory globules.
  • 2d4 Sulfurous Components: Each component can replace up to 25 gp of material components required for an Illusion spell. A creature holding the component can use an action to blow the components into a cloud that fills a 5-foot cube. The cube lasts until the beginning of the creature's next turn. When a creature enters the cube or starts its turn there, it is subject to a Confusion spell (Save DC 18). 

Ogres

Ogre Battering Ram (4) - giant (survival)
  • 1 Battering Ram: acts as a Ram (DMG pg. 255)
  • 2d4 Giant's Toes: No immediate use. Sought as trophies by hunters and heroes, and can be sold for a good price to collectors or admirers.
  • 1 Ogre Heart: No immediate use. Can be mastercrafted (transmutation) by a spellcaster into Gauntlets of Ogre Strength.

Ogre Bolt Launcher (2) - giant (survival)
  • 1 Tattered Bolt Launcher: acts as a Ballista (DMG pg. 255)
  • 1d4 Giant's Toes: No immediate use. Sought as trophies by hunters and heroes, and can be sold for a good price to collectors or admirers.
  • 1 Ogre Heart: No immediate use. Can be mastercrafted (transmutation) by a spellcaster into Gauntlets of Ogre Strength.

Ogre Chain Brute (3) - giant (survival)
  • 1d4 Thick Chains: Acts as a whip with the heavy property which deals 1d8 damage on a hit.
  • 1d4 Giant's Toes: No immediate use. Sought as trophies by hunters and heroes, and can be sold for a good price to collectors or admirers.
  • 1 Ogre Heart: No immediate use. Can be mastercrafted (transmutation) by a spellcaster into Gauntlets of Ogre Strength.

Ogre Howdah (2) - giant (survival)
  • 1 Tattered Howdah: The Howdah is a compact fort that can be carried by a large creature. Up to four Small creatures can ride in the fort without squeezing. To make a melee attack against a target within 5 feet of the large creature, they must use spears or weapons with reach. Creatures in the fort have three-quarters cover against attacks and effects from outside it. If the large creature dies, creatures in the fort are placed in unoccupied spaces within 5 feet of the large creature.
  • 1d4 Giant's Toes: No immediate use. Sought as trophies by hunters and heroes, and can be sold for a good price to collectors or admirers.
  • 1 Ogre Heart: No immediate use. Can be mastercrafted (transmutation) by a spellcaster into Gauntlets of Ogre Strength.

And with that, the article is finally ogre. Over. I meant over. Tune in next week as we begin working through the massive S section!

The shadowy shade of the shadowfell
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Backgrounds as Races (or races as backgrounds)

Just because they're short doesn't mean they steal stuff
I've spoken a bit about how a system defines the way you play the game. D&D is a combat-heavy system, so it lends itself to complex combats and simple exploration/interaction. It's an excellent system for dungeon crawling, which is probably why "Dungeon" is in the title.

But a system also adds another bit of input on how you play the game, by including different races and classes. The Player's Handbook is the first book a player usually sees or buys, and if there's elves in there, by Pelor they are going to want to play elves. If they see stats for pets, they will demand pets. If there is a wizard class, there have to be wizard schools, and the players will want to join them.

Most Dungeon Masters are fine with these ideas. In fact, most Dungeon Masters play in settings right out of the modules, where all the handbook races are represented. The Forgotten Realms (perhaps by virtue of the D&D Adventurer's League) is still one of the most popular settings in D&D.

And in the cases where a DM wants to get creative and craft their own setting, it's easy to say "elves in my setting aren't snooty pricks, they are weird moon creatures!" Or to simply remove gnomes from an area because they don't live in that country. Or even to say "tieflings get different spells than the ones listed in the handbook" like they id in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes.

But you can't get rid of the races entirely.

Why? Because of their stat boosts. In a system with bounded accuracy like D&D, the difference between a +2 ability modifier and a +3 modifier in a primary ability score will come up dozens of time in a session, tipping the scales on several rolls. Every little +1 helps. That's why the Adventurer's League doesn't award +1 weapons until level 5, and AC-boosting armor and shields are considered quite game-breaking.

In a game where every stat point matters, you'll find that certain race-class combinations become incredibly common. Elven Rangers, Dwarven Fighters, and Halfling Rogues are simply more powerful than other combinations. And while you'll find plenty of people who are interested in role-playing a particular race, there are many more who want to use a particular class and be good at it. Due to the rules and focus of the game, class is far, far more important than race to a character.

So, without a major change, you can't remove race options, because you are essentially asking players to take a hit to the effectiveness of their class.

So, let's talk about making a major change.

Backgrounds as Races


Let's say we are running a setting that is entirely human. Arthurian England, for example. Or some sort of sci-fi post-apocalypse game where humans haven't had enough time to mutate into new races or be visited by aliens. In such a scenario, would every human have the same background and abilities?

Of course not. They might be able to use smithing tools or an herbalism kit due to their background. They could speak certain languages, and have different equipment. And there's no reason why they couldn't have different ability scores, too.

Depending on your art style, they might still look the same, though
The basic human template assumes every human starts with a +1 in every stat. It's one of the weakest and most boring races in the handbook. The variant human is much better, granting +1 in two different stats, a skill, and a feat. Feats are incredibly powerful at first level, but the +1 in two different stats is still a bit lame. That's not even enough to get an ability score to an extra +1 modifier.

I have a house rule in my current games: if you don't roll at least one ability score to be 14 or higher during character creation, you can reroll your stats. Why? Because the game is built around the idea that nearly all first-level characters will have a +3 modifier in their primary stat. A +5 to hit is the minimum needed to get the 65% hit rate the game designers were shooting for. That's why the standard ability score array features a 15 in it - they assume you'll bump that up to 16 or 17 with your racial bonuses.

So, we need to add higher modifiers to the human class. And different backgrounds is the perfect justification to do it. After all, if you are a Charlatan, wouldn't it make sense for you to have a higher-than-average charisma? If you were a smith, wouldn't you be a bit stronger? By co-opting the backgrounds, we can create the mechanical diversity of races without needing the races themselves.

Normally, a background in 5th edition comes with a few perks already: you get 2 skill proficiencies, 2 language/tool proficiencies, some flavored equipment, and a perk. I've discussed before what goes into these backgrounds, and it's best to use them as a base when creating stat-boosting backgrounds.

Of course, stats aren't the only thing you'll want to boost when creating these new backgrounds. After all, races come with plenty of other features, proficiencies, and bonuses aside from stats. To estimate the power of these features, I've used the Detect Balance system from Eleazzaar. This lead to the following point-buy system that can be used to estimate human abilities. Each character should get about 25 points to start with, with a maximum of 30.

Ability Score Increases (A single ability score can only benefit from an increase once.)
  • Ability Score +1 - 4 points
  • Ability Score +2 - 8 points
  • All Ability Scores +1 - 16 points

Proficiencies
  • Common and 1 Standard Language - 0 points
  • Common and 2-3 Standard Languages - 1 point
  • 1 Exotic Language - 1 point
  • Tool Proficiency - 1 point
  • Skill Proficiency - 3 points
  • Expertise on a skill with specific application - 2 points
  • Skill Proficiency and Expertise - 6 points

Movement
  • 30 feet - 0 points
  • 35 feet - 2 points
  • 30 feet climb - 2 points
  • 30 feet swim - 2 points
  • Ignore nonmagical difficult terrain - 3 points
  • Not slowed by Heavy Armor - 2 points

Physical Abilities
  • Hold Breath (15 minutes) - 1 point
  • Powerful Build (+1 size for carrying things) - 3 points
  • Nimbleness (move through space of larger creatures) - 2 points
  • Acclimatized (ignore penalties of a certain environment) - 1 point

Advantage on Rolls
  • Advantage on Rare Roll (e.g. History checks about a certain city) - 1 point
  • Advantage on a Situational Roll (e.g. Animal Handling checks) - 2 points
  • Advantage on a Common Roll (e.g. Perception checks to look for traps) - 4 points
  • Advantage on a Very Common Roll (e.g. Initiative checks) - 8 points

Weapons and Armor
  • 1 Simple Weapon Training - 1 point
  • 1 Martial Weapon Training - 2 points
  • Natural Weapon/Unarmed Strike (1d4) - 1 point
  • Natural Weapon/Unarmed Strike (1d6) - 2 points
  • Natural Weapon/Unarmed Strike (1d8) - 4 points
  • Natural Weapon/Unarmed Strike (1d10) - 8 points
  • Light Armor Training - 2 points
  • Light/Medium Armor Training - 4 points

Other
  • Feat - 20 points
  • Tinker (from the Rock Gnome) - 1 point
  • Lucky (from Halfling) - 4 points
  • Toughness (+1 HP per level) - 5 points
  • Cantrip - 3 points

As you probably have guessed, I've turned this into a PDF here.

Pictured: 7 people who had to choose the same race for the bonuses
Thus, using this system, we can create pure human backgrounds that confer the same mechanical powers a race would! Here are some examples from the Player's Handbook.

Charlatan (Gambler)
In addition to normal background features, the character gains:

  • Dexterity +2 (8 points)
  • Charisma +1 (4 points)
  • Common and 1 Standard language (0 points)
  • Thieves Cant (exotic language, 1 point)
  • Dice Proficiency (1 points)
  • Advantage on Insight Checks versus bluffing (common roll, 4 points)
  • Lucky (4 points)
  • Mage Hand Cantrip (3 points)


Charlatan (Swindler)
In addition to normal background features, the character gains:

  • Charisma +2 (8 points)
  • Wisdom +1 (4 points)
  • Common and 2-3 Standard languages (1 point)
  • Thieves Cant (exotic language, 1 point)
  • Deception Expertise (6 points)
  • Lucky (4 points)
  • Tinker (1 point)

Soldier (Blacksmith)
In addition to normal background features, the character gains:
  • Strength +2 (8 points)
  • Constitution +2 (8 points)
  • Common and 1 Standard language (0 points)
  • Smith's Tools Proficiency (1 point)
  • Expertise on Performance checks to craft items (2 points)
  • Not Slowed by Heavy Armor (2 points)
  • Powerful Build (3 points)
  • Unarmed Strike 1d4 (1 point)

Urchin

In addition to normal background features, the character gains:

  • All ability scores +1 (16 points)
  • Common and 1 Standard language (0 points)
  • Thieves Cant (exotic language, 1 point)
  • 30 feet climb (2 points)
  • Hold Breath 15 minutes (1 point)
  • Nimbleness (2 points)
  • Advantage on History checks about home city (rare roll, 1 point)
  • Slingshot Training (1 point)
  • Unarmed Strike 1d4 (1 point)


As you can see, not only does this system allow you to make more specific backgrounds, it also allows you to modify background features to suit a particular character. Do you want your Indiana Jones-esque rogue to be able to use a whip? That's only 2 points here, but in the normal system it would require an entire feat.

This system allows for more diversity of background-class combinations, and helps players all start on a level playing field when it comes to ability scores. And, of course, it allows the DM to create balanced settings with heavy race restrictions.

In some settings, "Wood Elf Ranger" might as well be synonymous with "Elf"
As a last note, I've built this system under the assumption that humans are not innately magical, and might learn a cantrip but don't have any magic for themselves. Of course, I'll have to add that in for Ahneria, but this is the basic system.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Monday Recap: To the Moon!

Classic moon shot.
What's this?? A Monday Recap?? Oh yes.

After all of this Valley exploration gaming, we finally got together to play one of the remaining monthly story games. There are actually a few of those still happening, though I'm only running one of them right now.

Anyway, this ended up being a super-fun game for the chaos crew. Also, it ended up being my first foray into Science Fantasy, a staple of D&D going back to the Barrier Peaks. It was pretty fun!

This story is part 8 of a series. The campaign is complete.
Previous Campaign | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 |

Campaign of Chaos: To the Moon!


Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Shannon: Cressen Juhl, Fallen Aasimar Trickery Cleric of Ralishaz, hates their dad Pholtus
Cody: Myst, Tabaxi Rogue, likes the shiny and shoots the arrows
Quinn: Jakky, Darkling Shadow Monk, sneaks into places to do a murder
Wade: Agne, Kobold Warlock of the Great Old Ones, killed his family for creepy powers
Wes: Magic Man, Drow Transumation Wizard, kind of creepy, teaches magical life lessons
NPC: ArtoriusVoid Dragon Wyrmling, hangs out with Agne

When we last left the crew, they had gathered an arsenal of chaos-infused weaponry from an order of monks devoted to keeping the magic items away from the world. Jakky ended up with the Goblin-made throwing hammer Whelm, Anna got a greatsword called Blackrazor, and Mr. Lizard got a trident called Wave. They returned to their skyfortress, and Mr. Lizard suggested they head into space.

As the skyfortress lifted off from above Garton, the crew was shocked and unprepared for the experience of leaving the planet. Jakky and Agne, used to living underground or in shadows, were very upset by this turn of events. Magic Man was convinced they were growing in size, since the city and country below them were shrinking. Cressen watched the stars, and Myst had enough of this and decided to take a nap.

After a short time, they adjusted their direction and approached the moon. The surface shown brightly, causing the light-sensitive Jakky to shrink back in repulsion. Mr. Lizard suggested that he inspect this side of the moon, and the crew take the dark side for Jakky's sake. They were looking for signs of life, or a place to build an awesome moon base.

Mr. Lizard leapt out of the ship, floating down to the surface as if he had cast Feather Fall on himself. The group was very impressed, and realized they were all under the effect of the spell. They flew to the dark side of the moon and leapt out of the ship themselves, posing as they slowly descended. Their landing site was a strange structure they had seen from the air, which they were quite curious about.

(At this point, the players were very worried about being able to breathe on the moon. After I assured them they could, they asked how. I asked them if their characters would really question the presence of an atmosphere when they had lived their entire lives on the surface of a planet. Sometimes, you have to get the players to trust you, and using the story and world to do so is a great method.)

Classic.
The group landed in front of the strange domed structure, which was made entirely of steel and had strange lights coming out of it. Behind them, the skyfortress descended, piloted by the many lackeys they had collected over their journey. They discussed what to do, all while continuing to hold their poses. However, before they could decide, the doors before them slid open.

Stumbling out of the door came a creature they recognized from stories back on Ahneria: a Mind Flayer. Agne, having encountered some of these creatures as a Kobold, was immediately on the defensive. However, the creature seemed to be expecting them, particularly Magic Man. It asked them to follow it into the building, claiming they were to meet with the leader of the Mind Flayer colony. Cressen, who was wearing a helm that blocked telepathy, was confused but followed the group.

They entered the building, being lead through steel tunnels dotted with glass windows. The group had never seen a building made entirely of steel before, and were quite impressed. Myst, using his chaos powers, realized that they had powerful magic here that could travel through the stars and even possibly through time. Magic Man transformed into an octopus and sat on Cressen's head to try to convince the Mind Flayers to like them and give them fun goodies.

The Mind Flayer explained that about 700 years ago, Magic Man had appeared to their colony and ordered a ship. The ship would be known as the skyfortress, and was to be buried on an island where a bunch of shark-elephant demons would appear. In return, Magic Man had brought materials for the ship and humanoids the Mind Flayers could use as slaves.

Break that classic timeline
The group was very confused by this, especially Magic Man. However, Agne suggested that perhaps some of the time-ravel technology the Mind Flayers use might send magic Man back in time at some point. That would allow him to place the order for the skyfortress without remembering doing so, because he hadn't done it yet. They started to discuss it further, but the Mind Flayer stopped as they arrived at the chambers of the Mind Flayer leader.

Inside, they sat at a large round table around a brine pool, eating the food that Magic Man had recommended for them 700 years ago when they would arrive. From the brine pool, a massive brain the size of a wagon rose up and began addressing them via telepathy. It called itself Orunmila, and spoke as if speaking for the entire colony. Its telepathy was so powerful that even Cressen, wearing a telepathy-blocking helmet, could hear the being speak.

The brain told them about the Mind Flayer (or Illithid, as they called themselves) colony, how they longed to explore the stars and were building spaceships, and how their studies had borne much interesting knowledge and technology. They had foreseen the arrival of the Chaos Crew, thanks to Magic Man's long-ago arrival, and were willing to help the group build their own moon base. They even knew the ritual to turn Jakky into a Darkling Elder, and wanted to share it. But they needed help with something first.

The colony was mining the moon for construction materials, using their slaves as manual labor. Things were progressing smoothly, until the slaves formed a pact with an eldritch entity to rise up against their masters. The slaves were transformed into mindless husks, immune to the psychic powers of the Illithids. Their leader, a being known as The Uncouth, retained some intelligence, and began to lead a resistance against the colony. The crew, being able to effectively fight creatures immune to psychic powers, were quite a boon to Orunmila.

Classic and sexy
The group decided to take up the offer, and the Illithid that lead them into the building now lead the out again. They saw their skyfortress was being moved into a dock-like area, with their many minions still on board. With a bit of a further walk, they arrived at the mine entrance, a dark tunnel leading down into the core of the moon. Their guide bid them farewell, and they began to descend.

As they entered the tunnel, Magic Man noticed figures hiding in the darkness in front of them. Myst casually shot one with an arrow, and the former cultists rushed forward. They had been horribly deformed by their servitude to the eldritch evil, now sporting six arms, blank white eyes, and far too many teeth. One rushed forward, and in a flurry of claws and teeth, tore into Myst with terrible fury.

The group disposed of the attacker, reformed and began their own assault, with Magic Man and Cressen unleashing arcane and divine magic from the rear while Myst and Jakky used their ranged weapons to strike the creatures from afar. Agne and Artorius, however, unleashed their new combination of magical effects to keep the cultists in place: grasping black tentacles combined with Artorius' Gravity Breath. The aberrations couldn't do so much as take a step forward while the restraining magic held them down. After that, the crew made quick work of them.

However, Cressen had been affected by Chaos magic during the battle, and began attacking Magic Man. Magic Man was surprised, but defended quite well until Cressen came to their senses. Cressen felt bad about attacking a fellow Chaos follower, and healed the wounds Magic Man had sustained from the spat. Magic Man was his usual incomprehensible self, and told Cressen there was no bad blood between them.

The group pressed forward, fighting through a large swarm of cultists that had transformed into stunted, smaller monsters with similar attributes as the entrance guards. The creatures seemed like mindless husks, no longer the humanoid workers that they must have once been. They simply seemed to attack anything that entered the mine and wasn't as monstrous as themselves. Though the Chaos crew was evil, they weren't anything like the monsters these beings had become.

Magnificent class
The crew finally found themselves in a sanctuary of sorts, with makeshift pillars lining a hall leading to an area carved out of different stone than the whitish-grey moon rock. The stone had many different carved images and words in it, in an ancient language that only Agne could decipher. However, before the crew could approach this strange slab, a massive cultist lurched into view.

Its eyes and teeth resembled the creatures they had fought before, but it was as tall as an ogre and had weirdly translucent hairless skin. As it caught sight of the group, it turned and charged towards them. It whirled its arms wildly, catching most of the group in its slamming attacks. The crew scattered, moving to unleash spells and weapons on the monster from their best location. Cressen, wielding their giant sword, fought toe-to -toe with the monster, and ended up taking the brunt of its crushing blows.

The crew pumped every attack they could into the beast, and soon enough it began to fall. In its final moments, Myst unleashed an arrow from his bow imbued with the power of magical energy. The arrow struck the monster directly in the head, causing it to sway, then topple to the ground. As it collapsed, Chaos magic caused it to grow a full head of very stylish hair.

Agne rushed forward to study this strange map, and discovered it was a record of an even more ancient civilization on the moon. They had created strange, soulless soldiers that could be infused with magic to fight. The group was interested in this idea, wondering what might happen if they infused the bodies with Chaos magic. Jakky and Ange even discovered a hidden passage that might lead down into the storerooms of the ancient civilization.

However, at that moment, the mine began to collapse, as if someone were trying to sabotage the group's mission. They turned and hightailed it back towards the entrance, dodging rocks and trying to figure out the best way back. Unfortunately, after hitting several dead ends, the collapse settled and they were trapped in a small section of cave. Magic Man shrugged and cast a spell to teleport them back to the skyfortress. They hadn't found The Uncouth yet, meaning their mission wasn't over yet, but the group needed to recoup and heal their wounds.

Wait, that's no moon! Classic.
But as they rested, the side of the ship began to tear open, and another of the giant hairless monsters broke through the side of the ship. Next to it, walking directly through the walls of the ship like a ghost, was a horrible creature with deformed limbs and stretched and twisted skin, holding a staff and peering at the group with those same blank eyes. The crew leapt up, grabbing their gear to attack these intruders.

Myst loosed a shot at the creature they assumed must be The Uncouth, but at the last instant the two aberrations swapped places. The hulking brute took the attack, and the cult leader was safely outside the walls of the skyfortress. Not only that, but Myst was then forcibly teleported right next to the huge creature by the cult leader, causing a wave of psychic energy that made the group clutch their heads in pain. Agne, also a devotee of an eldritch entity, actually managed to avoid the brunt of the attack and turn it back on the monsters.

The brutish beast reached forward to wail on Myst, but Cressen reached forward and unleashed a Banishment spell on it, sending it to a demiplane away from the fight. Meanwhile, Jakky and Magic Man leapt out of the hole that had been created in the side of the ship and began attacking The Uncouth. A volley of hammers, fire rays, and arrows quickly killed the cultist, and their task was complete. They only had two issues.

First, chaos magic had caused them to think this dead cultist was somebody other than the Uncouth. They kept guessing different people, but they couldn't figure out who they had just killed. It didn't really change their plans, though. They still needed to return to the colony and let them know about the mine collapse.

Second, the Banishment spell ended, and the brute returned. Fortunately, Agne and Artorius unleashed waves of magic on it until the crew could thoroughly demolish the beast.

The group went back to the colony, which was in a bit of disarray. Apparently, chaos magic had seeped into the colony and caused nearly 100 Illithids to abandon the colony and join the forces of chaos. Orunmila was annoyed, and they asked the crew to take the blueprints to a moon base and leave. The crew decided they had seen enough for now, and went back to the skyfortress.

A few hours later, Mr. Lizard showed up. Apparently, the other side of the moon was totally empty.

Name a classier trio. I'll wait.
And that's the game! We had a blast with all the different chaos effects that popped up during the game. I use this Huge Magic Surge table, if you're interested in doing so.

I think Chaos Quest will only have one or two more games before it's over. It's hard to top the moon, but I'm going to try. Then, we'll get to do a high-level quest resolving all of the chaos this game has caused! After all, they've killed quite a lot of people.

Thanks for reading!