dnd d20

Random Tip: Begin your campaign with a by-the-numbers story arc.

My office 5e campaign just wrapped up it’s first major story-arc. There are still threads that can be followed up on, and there are indications of a greater threat in the world of Edhenon– but we came to a satisfying resolution on a goal the players have spent four levels trying to accomplish. 

The arc was pretty generic: The characters were attempting to join an adventuring guild in the city. There were side treks and mini-missions involved in that, but everything was built on gearing for their initiation event. 

This required very little brainpower as Dungeon Master- Generic bad guys, generic macguffins, generic “Help us!” situations. 

Over the last few months of play, the players have been able to learn about and fine-tune their characters personalities and their wants*, and I’ve able to quietly absorb all of that information. Now, as I’m setting things up for a second major arc, I’m filled to the brim with ideas on how to make their lives more interesting, and the consequences more personal. 

The training wheels are off, and I can now hurt much more than the characters’ HP. 

(*Player Pro-Tip: What your character wants is so much more important than your backstory. I’ve seen players fill up pages with backstory, and no idea of their personal direction forward. Don’t be that player!) 

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The Deck of Many Things is a lot of fun. It’s tempting to almost anyone; and why not risk it? Everyone loves the deck, until half of the party draws Donjon. So I present Basalt’s Nerfed Deck of Many Things. Yes, less risk means less fun, in a lot of cases. It also means that this version of the deck is suitable for lower leveled parties, and people less inclined to take risks. What’s the worst that could happen?

Edit: @hackmydungeon has brought up a great point regarding the Avatar of Death. I’m now working on a weakened version of it.

Sunday Respite - A Druid’s Arsenal

Druids suffer when it comes time to divvy up loot and salvaged equipment throughout the party. They often cannot wield metal weapons nor armours, the tenants of their faith explicitly restricting them from doing so. Instead, they must only lay hands upon whatever the earth gifts them.

Sometimes that is just a stick. Maybe, if you’re lucky, a pointy stick.

Let’s change that now, shall we?

Here are five pieces of equipment for the walking wrath of a winter’s storm, the living breath of the wild, and the legends that take the responsibilities of the world. A Herculean task indeed, for they bare the entirety of it upon their shoulders and may well be the last few keeping it from shattering upon the ground.

I love me a good Druid.

Rootbreaker

A casual passer-by would never discern this gnarled branch of wood as anything above the leaf-litter it hides within. A wise-hearted man of the world may be able to identify the true potential held within if they search close enough. They will see a boiling, primal strength stored amongst its coiled fibers; a seething hatred that predates most venerable civilisations and folk who reside within. It carries itself through the air like an ogre’s club, promising unrivaled impact with every hurl of the shoulder, roaring with every swing. Often, however, the weapon remains undiscovered and lies for years on-end without recognition. That is until a wandering child takes up the club and plays with it for a while, miming the sword-swings and parries of a mighty knight or storied warrior of old, until that is they accidentally topple an oak tree with a single strike to the trunk.

Blackboar Cloak

This item of apparel is a hooded cloak constructed from the hide and head of a huge boar with fur as dark as coal dust. The head is hollow and jawless, sitting atop the wearer’s scalp as if they indeed were a boar on human legs. Its trailing fur is coarse and warm, nearly entirely resistant to arrows and bolts, bouncing them away like glancing blades of dry grass off of a stone wall. Whenever the possessor has the capability to transform themselves into other creatures, they find that their new forms possess the strength of the boar itself. Many foes think twice of attacking a party when they see that they possess a house cat that can push merchant-carts clean off of roads and break a man’s knee backwards at the joint with a single brutish kick.

Spear of Sanctuary

This lancing pike, nearly 7-foot in height, is decorated at the head by a collection of half-a-dozen brightly-coloured feathers and leaves that never rot or discolour.  The spearhead is a wicked, snaking stone that is saber-sharp on its bladed edges. It can easily puncture through steel plate if directed well enough. More interestingly, this spear, when held aloft and proudly, allows all those within a few yards to be utterly unharmed by natural weathers. Blizzard winds and snowstorms will pass over like a blanket of cotton, hail and flash-flood rains will bounce away and around as if they were afeared to land at your feet, and oppressive sunlight and searing heat will simmer down to a cool day of gentle temperature and calm.

Palm of the Patriarch

An ancient Druid and wise leader of his people was faced with war. He had several allies, but possessed little to no preparation for outright hostile conflicts. Noticing this, one of these allied civilised regions offered an entire arsenal of fine steel and wicked silver; swords with strength and craft of enough quality to surely sever a mountain from its peak. However, the Druid’s devotion to his deity made it impossible to willingly wield metal. His allies merely smiled and revealed the second shipment they had brought; a single chest. Inside were dozens of red-leather hand-wraps that looped around the palms of the wearer. It was explained that whatever weapon was wielded within a hand that was dressed in one of these, regardless of the manner of its manufacture, would become something else; a stone just as fine and sharp as steel, yet not. The Druid accepted the gifts and paid with a thankful smile and warm embrace of his allies. He would stand beside them when war finally came to their lands.

Wrath Bolt

This crossbow bolt is large and heavilly damaged. It’s shaft is crooked and queer, nearly as awkward to aim with as it would be with a writhing ferret instead. It’s chipped flint head is loosely attached with frayed string and wire. The entire body of the object is unattractive to a worrying degree. Once fired it will collide with the target and merely splinter upon impact; the head breaking into dust and the shaft thudding into the obstacle. Then, a few moments later, a great disturbance will echo around as the trees themselves shake and quiver, the skies cry with a thousand songs, and the ground rattles in fear as every living creature within a mile around will halt whatever they were attending to and focus solely on destroying the target. A thousand gulls, a hundred rabbits, a dozen deer, three-hundred wasps, a few-thousand ants, and every squirrel, hedgehog, badger, beaver, otter, and wolf will chase the recipient until his feet collapse away from under him through sheer terror, just before a colossal wave of roaring ferocity rolls over their carcass like an avalanche of tooth and claw.

Enjoy

Pixie x

5/2/17

P.S.

Happy birthday to me (for yesterday) and anyone else who celebrated their birthday in this general allotment of time.

Sunday Respite - Necromancy: Making Friends

I will be truthful, I have never had a player choose to devote themselves to the dark-arts … in-game, obviously. Well, and out of game. Usually they avoid the venerable school with a distance rivaled only by that given to inconspicuous props upon pedestals in wide, empty dungeon rooms. Perhaps its a dislike of suiting the stereotypical (yet badass) summoner of souls and entrapper of the dead, perhaps its a desire to pursue a more immediately rewarding school such as evocation or illusion. I say bah-humbug to this. If someone wishes to play in my game and hang out in haunted graveyards, chanting ‘til the pale moon sinks beneath the horizon, then I say good on you, pal.

Here are some enticing items to tempt the pure and incorruptible over into the blackest fifth and rotten waste, where mortal pleasures and obsessions are diseases to be cured through the sacrifice and suffering of the pursuit of true knowledge. Unlock that fascination, surrender to the whispers, take our hand and join us beneath the cloaking shadows of the dungeon walls.

Hooded-Cowl of the Antler

A warm and well-made cowl which tussles and dances in the midnight winds. A beautiful inner of amber weave gleams like torchlight under the absorbing darkness of the exterior; empty as sorrow, lonely as a blackened tide washing over barren shores of ancient bones and tattered flotsam. The collar ties loop together over the chest around an iron ring, and the hood obscures face and eye from any passing observer. The wearer, upon command, can pull forth from the speechless depths of the earth a great, prideful stag of ashen bone and gleaming frost. It howls out onto the wilderness and slowly lowers its head toward its master, offering a ride upon its icy spine. The stag can run as fast as any horse, living or dead, and can outrun a jackal pack over open ground. It leaves behind a path of frigid air, with pebbles and stones lathered in peeling cold for hours beyond its passing. Those unfortunate enough to cross this trail risk having their blood lock in their veins as they idly step through its trail.

Hangman’s Gift

This decoration is a rotten, gnarled length of thick rope, tied around the wearer’s neck with a clubbish knot hanging below the chin. The trailing fibers are frayed and sliced to wire-thin strings. This necklace, or sorts, is worn by those who have survived executions and certain death through one means or quite another. The gallows aren’t suited for them, and many executioners recognise such a symbol; one of an untouchable status. This man should be dead. Whilst the Gift is adorned, the wearer doesn’t require food, water, nor even air to survive. They live on through the worst that life can throw at them, and much beyond that.

Motley Neck-Knife

The Motley blade is a tidy-little throat slicer. Its a short, silver blade, barely an inch long, secured upon an ivory grip. Its sheath is that of a simple, black leather with a crude zig-zag stitching around its opening. When the Motley dagger earns its name and separates a man from his life with an abrupt, yet precise, infliction, that same body that dropped not two seconds ago jolts back to its feet at his killer’s side. Most guards have seen a murder in their time, so corpses scares them little. Some have even witnessed petty undead, so a shambling body upon its twisted ankles and bloated joints is nothing to panic over. But none had seen the smiles that the Motley carver grows over its victim’s lifeless mugs. Certainly none had heard the screams of the dead men inside as they watched in horror, helplessly passive as they see their own, empty forms stride forth towards friend and fellow alike with a feral madness burning in their bloodshot, and crow-pecked eyes.

Dead-Shot Arrows

These arrows are made of human bone. Their feathered ends are human hairs, the shaft is a carved femur, and the head is a incisor tooth, carved to a needle’s edge. They feel heavy to hold in mortal hands, like all of the goodness in the world and your head bleeds out onto the floor as you level it upon your pale palm. The munition is said to be made exclusively from the skeletons of priests and paladins from wherever they may be found. No-other would do, clearly. For when you test the wrath of the divine you may as well go full-in. Why not desecrate the holy dead? That query becomes difficult to dispute once the arrow meets a target. The arrow stings like a wasp swarm, digging out the skin, itching the blood like the veins are full of sandpaper. Then the victim’s bones begin to creak like heavy timbers under a sea storm, bending and twisting in horrific pain. Then they splinter and fracture through skin like porcupine quills as the bones begin to pull themselves out of their flesh.

Pipes of the Grave

A lonely city-bard may perchance these wooden pipes of birch and green leather in a lonely shop window on a lonely street they have never once walked. The shop-keep promises through yellowed teeth and dry lips that the instrument is as perfect as a true-lover’s kiss, bringing true emotion to any tale told with heartful passion and intent: a memorable performance if there would ever be one. The bard may yet further be intrigued at the low price, and may further yet buy them with a smile gleaming with the thought of gold and silver coins aplenty. The performances that she plays will sing like mountain cries and wail with forlorn hopes, echoing through every generation’s ears, bringing both youth and elders alike to rapturous applause. The crowd is crying, only not in joy. They scatter like woodlice as the lush grasses of the city park grounds split open into raw dirt and clawing fingers, as the generations lost before join in on the celebrations, tearing their rotten hulks up from the ancient graveyards buried and forgotten below. His performance ceases, and the dead collapse into piles of bone. She discards the instrument, destroys it perhaps, and she returns to her original flute. Unfortunately, once the Pipes have been played, the curse it contracts is not so easily gotten rid of, and the dead will rise wherever she sings.

Enjoy

Pixie x

12/2/17

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This is the best, dumbest thing I’ve ever been involved in.