elemental planes

Why do we even HAVE that lever?

Back in the day, my old gaming group used to play a game called “why do we even have that lever?”. It works like this:

1. Person A describes a puzzle or trap - the sort of bizarre adventurer-shredding contraption you might encounter in the course of an old-school dungeon crawl that makes absolutely no sense if the dungeon in question was ever supposed to be a facility that people actually used.

2. Person B proposes an explanation for what the “trap” in question is really for - i.e., why it’s not a trap at all, but a totally practical feature of whatever sort of place the dungeon originally was.

3. Person B then describes their own trap to keep the game going.

The only hard rule is that the explanation offered in step 2 absolutely can’t be “it’s a puzzle” or “it’s a trap”; you have to propose some pragmatic function that actually makes sense in the context of the dungeon being the ruins of someplace where people lived and worked. The way it currently works can be justified as a consequence of it having malfunctioned or partially fallen apart, but there has to be some plausible purpose it could have originally served.

For example, I might ask:

“Why is there a room where the entire ceiling is a giant magnet?”

… and you might respond:

  • “It’s a security checkpoint for the armoury of magical weapons that lies beyond. The presence of the magnet means that weapons can only be safely brought in and out of the armoury using special weighted cases, making it very difficult to steal or substitute items.”
  • “It’s a laboratory formerly used for experiments involving dangerous creatures from the Elemental Plane of Earth. The powerful magnetic field wholly paralyses all but the mightiest earth elementals, allowing them to be studied at one’s leisure.”
  • “It’s the old Queen’s gaming room. During her reign, a game of strategy involving man-sized stone pieces on a multi-level board had become fashionable. Though most such games required large work crews to move the pieces around, the Queen’s magnetic chamber - in conjunction with large metal bars driven into the core of each piece - allows the pieces to be manipulated by a single person. Many of the pieces still lay scattered about the room, in various states of disrepair.”

Then you’d describe your own trap.

I’ll start us off with a simple (and apropos) one:

Why is there a lever that drops a giant stone block on the person who pulled it?

100 “Epic” Adventure Ideas...

Here are one hundred adventure seeds you can use to generate ideas for your adventures and campaigns.

  1. A ancient and evil balor sorcerer imprisons old friends of the player characters, holding them hostage in return for a service. 
  2. A band of several death slaadi rogues and sorcerers begins to waylay all planar travelers who chance through their recently claimed turf on the Astral Plane.
  3. A ranger hero recognized around the world begins to organize a group of explorers for reasons unknown…
  4. A bardic college develops a style of music that charms and dominates any that listen to it too long.
  5. A beholder cluster, made up of many beholders driven mad, begins to war with lesser beholder communities, apparently all seeking a beholder artifact. 
  6. A prominent deity grows sick and will die if the cause of its divine ill is not discovered. 
  7. A beloved prophecy long accepted as true fails to occur because of the characters’ meddling, and the world turns against them…
  8. A blinding, yellow haze seeps down from the sky, covering the world…
  9. A celestial tree hundreds of miles long reaches its roots down and begins to grow on the world’s surface. Creatures from other worlds live in the heights of the tree. 
  10. A child is born who prophecy indicates will one day ascend to godhood. 
  11. A black disease blights the forest, killing all vegetation as it continues to expand without limit at an ever-accelerating rate. 
  12. A clan of psionic militants breaks away from the kingdom — literally. A huge chunk of land hundreds of acres wide floats up and away (taking with it many terrified non-psionic people). 
  13. A conjunction of parallel planes somehow energizes a lowly peasant to the power of a greater deity — but only until the conjunction ends. 
  14. A cross-time catastrophe has cut off the Material Plane from all others. 
  15. A dragon kills the ruler of the largest nation and takes over, calling itself the Dragon King.
  16. A flaw in a true resurrection spell leaves one player character undead by night and alive by day. 
  17. A floating city arrives from across the sea, apparently fleeing the depredations of the Warlord, a barbarian of an epic caliber.
  18. A flock of angelic avengers and celestials is ravaging across the continent. 
  19. A meeting is called by a storm giant blackguard. Powerful giants from around the world (and other worlds) begin to congregate. Though no one knows the meaning of this calling…
  20. A glorious gemstone in which the first light of creation still lingers is purportedly languishing in an ancient, crumbling demi-plane. 
  21. A great chase ensues through endless parallel dimensions as wizard researchers follow the faint trail of the long-vanished elder elves. 
  22. A group of gargoyle paragons claims the Cathedral of Pelor as its own new home. 
  23. A hero of renown (a quasi-deity, really) is to be wed to an elven prince, but the prince’s royal family claims the prince is under a spell. 
  24. A hole is gouged in the veil separating life and death. As the tide of life pours out into the void, all creatures everywhere begin to die as they accumulate negative levels. The hole must be mended. 
  25. A red dragon and two of its siblings emerge from a red-lit cavern in the earth. 
  26. A lesser deity declares the PCs as its mortal enemies, enjoining all its worshipers and allies to find and slay them. 
  27. A longstanding illusion is pierced, revealing that the king is nowhere to be found, and that all dictates of the kingdom have been actually flowing from the thieves’ guild. 
  28. A new deity decides to leave the Outer Planes to set up its palace on the face of the Material Plane. Once it arrives, it demands worshipers and servitors. 
  29. A mad chronomancer with a mastery of time, has determined how to destroy the past (and therefore the present). Unless it can be stopped, time itself will unravel. 
  30. A planar conjunction will soon come to pass, allowing the legions of hell (or worse) direct access to a selected part of the Material Plane for 24 hours. It can’t be stopped, but some famous characters may attempt to defend key cities or strongholds from the onslaught. 
  31. A player character’s heart is stolen and replaced with a magical gem or a strange alchemical creation. Who knows how long the replacement will last? 
  32. A powerful wizards’ guild enters all-out war with the dominant religious order of the world. 
  33. A quasi-deity wants an escort as it ventures into the Abyss to release a companion quasi-deity from bondage. 
  34. A rogue moon threatens to crash down upon the world, ending all life. 
  35. A sentient spell-virus is raging out of control among spellcasters. All who fall victim to it become part of one unified mind controlled by a malign intelligence. 
  36. A species of “fish” introduced from another plane has provided good eating and relief from famine over the last year. Now, thousands (possibly millions?) of the fish-like creatures begin a sudden growth spurt, transforming en masse into terribly powerful and bloodthirsty predators. 
  37. A splinter community of humans evolves into a sub-race sporting strange and variant powers. 
  38. A syndicate of assassins dramatically expands its membership by introducing a mind-control potion into a city’s water supply. 
  39. A team of nightmares draws a chariot driven by a powerful fighter into the city. 
  40. A titan seeks those brave enough to release it from its age-long bondage; its rescuers may face the wrath of higher deities. 
  41. A vampire scion from another plane begins to conquer world after world with the help of a reforged artifact of legend, Midnight’s Heart
  42. A volcano erupts. In the aftermath, a portal to the City of Brass on the Elemental Plane of Fire remains open permanently.
  43. A well-known wizards’ guild’s magical dumping ground of failed experiments and stale spell components becomes sentient.
  44. A wizard attempting to summon a powerful devil slips up and somehow summons an abomination instead: an infernal lord of the hells. 
  45. A wizard claims to have developed an epic spell ritual that, if cast, will slay a deity.
  46. All magic items crafted from a particular city begin to bestow negative effects on their owners with each use. 
  47. All who fall asleep on a selected world cannot be awakened and eventually die in their sleep. Exhaustion is beginning to take a hold on even the greatest heroes of its realm…
  48. An adventuring party stumbles upon the tomb prison of an long dead half-god and releases it. 
  49. An anti-magic plague is released by an unknown agency, causing sickness and eventually death to any who prepare or cast arcane spells. 
  50. An artifact belonging to one of the characters must be destroyed, lest some great catastrophe, which has secretly been gathering, come to pass. 
  51. An artifact capable of forever dominating all red dragons everywhere is discovered.
  52. An enclave of gnomes customizes an iron colossus into a walking war platform.
  53. A group of NPCs known for good deeds suddenly embarks on a death spree, murdering merchants and their envoys…
  54. A group of NPCs decides to destroy the PC adventurers, for reasons that are initially obscure. 
  55. A sentient, free roaming, self-casting disintegrate spell breaks loose from a wizard’s laboratory. 
  56. A legendary paladin leads a crusade to hell. 
  57. An inter-dimensional caravan must float on the River Styx through the dangers of several lower planes. 
  58. Spirits begin to manifest from machines as complicated as simple steam-powered wheels — is it a warning from the gods of the forge to desist? 
  59. Angry druids raise the beasts, animals, and dire animals of the wild, intent on beginning a new world order in which nature comes first. 
  60. As the world ages, frequent earthquakes threaten to plunge the major nations under the sea. 
  61. Blue-skinned merchants begin to sell enormously popular items composed of dreamstuff — “mined from the very dreams of a deity,” claim the merchants.
  62. Deeper than the Underdark, the world is discovered to be hollow. Hanging in that vast opening is an unknown, uncharted inner world of strangeness.
  63. Dwarf miners follow a vein of adamantine to a hinged valve sealed with divine magic of an age older than any of the current deities. 
  64. A group of seemingly amateur rogues steal the magical scepter of the Dragon King. 
  65. Evil opportunists slay the Guardian of the Flame of Destiny, hoping to remold the Law of Reality to their own liking. 
  66. Ghosts of every sort begin to rise again, and they won’t recognize their own undead state. 
  67. Mind flayers successfully gain control of a surface nation, plunging the region into permanent darkness. 
  68. Jade pyramids of prodigious size rise from the earth. Sounds unlike any heard before echo faintly from within their stony cores. 
  69. Construct-like creatures of insane complexity called “machines” move across the land, preparing the way for a larger invasion of automated entities. 
  70. Magic begins to fail, supposedly because it is being “used up” faster than it naturally regenerates. 
  71. Mercenary half-dragons who ride chromatic dragons as steeds sell their swords (and spells) to an evil empire. 
  72. Newborns begin to be born without souls.
  73. Off-plane raiders begin to steal people away for use as slaves and food. 
  74. Once every ten years a small cave provides access into a magical, underground world where all living beings give off colorful light, ruled by mysterious fey lords with mysterious agendas. 
  75. One of the player characters learns about his or her real mother or father — in fact, that parent was a demon, and that demon has come calling. 
  76. Planetars and solars bring heaven’s war to the Material Plane, slaying any and all they deem evil or immoral. 
  77. Chromatic dragons decide that their “species” is the only true draconic race, and they begin a campaign of genocide against all other dragon types. 
  78. Several well-known cities and all their inhabitants suddenly disappear without a trace. More could follow…
  79. Someone is breaking the Seven Seals that maintain the integrity of the multiverse…
  80. The ancient Great Library has secret vaults where the Words Once Spoken are supposedly inscribed in the Book of Sleep. To speak them again would remake the universe. 
  81. The Clock that Rules the Universe is under attack by insane gnome alchemists, who are raiding it for parts. 
  82. The End Times threaten to begin. 
  83. The gods of Law put all humanoid races on trial for their excesses.
  84. The Lord High Priest of Pelor denounces her deity and faith. 
  85. The most feared and reviled weapon of legend, an artifact sword that drains life energy with a touch, is lost by its owner. 
  86. The Mother of Spiders emerges from her Cocoon of a Million Years to find a mate for her next spawning. 
  87. A vast necropolis undergoes a mystical transformation. Now, each coffin, sarcophagus, and mausoleum leads to separate cemetery dimensions and realms of death. 
  88. The PCs’ stronghold mysteriously gains new extra-dimensional halls and rooms of unknown origin, content, and extent.
  89. The populace decides that they want one of the PCs as their new ruler, which doesn’t please the current ruler. 
  90. The secret texts of a prominent religion, recently discovered, call into question the church’s real goal, its actual origin, and the agenda of its god. 
  91. The souls of a good queen and her family are drawn into the Abyss by an unknown demonic agency. 
  92. The spirits of the dead begin to possess the bodies of the living at an ever-accelerating rate. 
  93. The sun is infested with moon-sized parasites, and may soon fail like so many other stars have fallen to this celestial infestation. 
  94. The winter, which was overly cold, lasts too long — the goddess of winter, Auril, is suspected to be the cause…
  95. The woods begin to grow without bound, invading field, plain, and city. 
  96. The yuan-ti attempt to awaken the Slumbering Serpent, a little-known abomination born of their own race and a god of serpents.
  97. Twenty percent of all astral travelers begin to disappear in mid-trip. Mid-travel diversion spells are suspected. 
  98. Two parallel planes move too close to each other, and denizens and objects of one constantly slip onto the other, and vice versa. 
  99. Unless stopped, an ancient demi-lich will inject itself onto the Negative Energy Plane, where it can possess any undead anywhere in the multiverse. 
  100. When a friend or a respected associate is resurrected, the soul returned to the body has different memories from the original. Whence does this soul come? 
Psst! Hey, witches, I wanna follow you!!

Okay my dash has been pretty empty lately. I just unfollowed about 20 inactive blogs and I need more witchy people to follow. I’m an eclectic witch so I really don’t mind all that much what anyone blogs. I’m still pretty much a baby so I want to learn about anything and everything. 

If you post anything to do with magic I’ll probably follow you but especially if you post things from the list below. Give this a reblog and I’ll give you a follow!

  • Divination - tarot, pendulums, scrying, runes, hagstones, bones, anything!
  • Sigils
  • Spells
  • Crystals
  • Plants / herbs
  • Elements
  • Spirit work
  • Energy magic
  • Meditation
  • Astral magic? work? planes? travel? (I’ve no idea what the right term is here XD)

I’d love to make some friends on here so don’t be afraid to come say hi to me as well! (That goes for the beautiful people that already follow me - love you guys!)

Have a beautiful and magical day :)

Sorcerer Week: Origin Stories

image credit: KILART

Sorcerers are usually born with their powers or are tied to a font of magical force. This is what makes a sorcerer unique from any other spellcaster. When I was first writing content for this class week, I struggled. This was until I discovered just how open-ended it was. As long as it isn’t a patron or a spell you can write down in a book, it counts! Even when you look at the existing sorcerous origins in the PHB and UA content, you can see how varied a sorcerer’s power source can be. A sorcerer’s power can originate:

  • From their ancestry: like the draconic bloodline sorcerer. The favored soul has an angelic ancestor. Even the Sea, Storm, and Stone Sorcery origins tie a character’s heritage to sea, air, or earth creatures.
  • From a connection to a certain plane: like the Shadow Sorcerer, who is connected to the Shadowfell, which imbues their soul with power. The Wild Magic Sorcerer is tied to the plane of Limbo, which fuels their chaotic powers.
  • From a connection to a specific magical power: The Phoenix Sorcerer draws power “from the immortal flame that fuels the phoenix.” It doesn’t necessarily mean their ancestor was a phoenix, or that they are connected to the plane of fire, but rather a legendary flaming node of magic.
  • From proximity or exposure to magical power: simply witnessing a dragon or phoenix seems to touch people with magic, as does simply being exposed to the Shadowfell.

If we want to boil this down to a single source of magical power that includes all of these, I would have to say that a sorcerer’s power comes from their soul. A soul that has been touched, blessed, tainted, or born with some form of inherent magic. So let’s discover what other ways your sorcerer’s soul can be altered! The lists below are mostly for flavor, but I encourage everyone to make subclasses or prestige classes for these because I only have so much time! But don’t worry, I definitely have some planned for the rest of Sorcerer Week!

Unique Magical Ancestors

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100 Player Challenges...
  1. Talk your way out of a bargain with a Fiend.
  2. Become leader of a thieves’ guild. 
  3. Negotiate peace between a town and a lizardfolk tribe. 
  4. Recover a stolen museum display, then steal it later for yourself. 
  5. Track down the kenku spymaster of the thieves’ guild. 
  6. Investigate a connection between city guards and a forgotten, nameless cult.
  7. Convince a lich to make a powerful magic item for you.
  8. Break into a noble’s heavily guarded mansion, just because you can. 
  9. Fly to a distant land and back again on the back of a roc.
  10. Forge an army of pixies, gnomes and halflings to attack the larger races. 
  11. Take a half-orc barbarian to the royal opera. 
  12. Join a rebellion you don’t care about for the sake of someone you love.
  13. Convince a group of fire elementals to take a trip to the elemental plane of water.
  14. Bring together lovers separated by their families.
  15. Explain to a mummy why you have a right to enter its tomb…
  16. Fake the assassination of a monarch you despise.
  17. Attend a ball in disguise without the use of magic.
  18. Distract the city watch so a gang fight can occur nearby…
  19. Convince a horde of goblins that you are Maglubiyet in mortal form…
  20. Smuggle a bored prince or princess out of the country. 
  21. Spy on and participate in a secret druid ritual.
  22. Pass a message to an inmate in a secure prison.
  23. Retrieve an artifact from the belly of a purple worm. 
  24. Lead a group of drow to the surface so they can raid. 
  25. Prevent a tyrant from coming to power. 
  26. Place a simple commoner on the throne. 
  27. Convince a wizard that his or her magic has stopped working. 
  28. Track down a mortally wounded ranger’s dead animal companion to bury with them.
  29. Peacefully get a wing of gargoyles to leave a castle. 
  30. Infiltrate and expose a were-rat den that the city guards don’t believe exists. 
  31. Tame Thunderhoof, prince of the centaurs.
  32. Start a thieves’ guild to compete with an existing one.
  33. Wrangle a panicking owlbear out of a crowded city.
  34. Reunite a half-orc with the parent who didn’t raise them.
  35. Convince dwarf miners to unearth an ancient creature of devastation.
  36. Kill a sorcerer before they can cast a single spell. 
  37. Ambush the tax shipment of an evil empire. 
  38. Convert a cleric to a different faith and domain.
  39. Break a popular rebel out of prison. 
  40. Find the answer to a question said to be impossible to discern.
  41. Make a false claim to the imperial throne. 
  42. Convince rival gangs to join together to form a larger thieves’ guild. 
  43. Convince a slaver to free a valuable captive. 
  44. Free a condemned prisoner from the gallows, in the midst of a mass hanging.
  45. Capture a tyrannosaurus for a wealthy city zoo. 
  46. Bring a militant druid into the largest city. 
  47. Perpetrate a con on a devil, raksasha, or yugoloth. 
  48. Defeat an elf in an archery contest by cheating.
  49. Reveal the doppelganger hiding in the city senate. 
  50. Ride a wild and untamed chromatic dragon into the center of the continent’s largest city.
  51. Escape a deserted island. 
  52. Jump from an airship in mid-flight, with no way of a safe landing…
  53. Convince a paladin to keep an illegal or immoral secret. 
  54. Stop a group of city leaders from opening a portal to the Far Realm. 
  55. Purchase a cloud giant’s flying castle without gold, gems, or magic items. 
  56. Become the leader of an assassins’ guild by assassinating the lead assassin.
  57. Befriend a tarrasque.
  58. Convince a red dragon to give up a piece of its hoard.
  59. Learn the location of a lost vault from a greedy ghost. 
  60. Deliver a love letter from a surface dweller to a drow in a subterranean city. 
  61. Compel a reluctant cleric to return a lost friend to life.
  62. Sing an insulting song about the king to his face—and live to tell about it.
  63. Raise funds from a gold dragon to start a thieves’ guild. 
  64. Break into the royal bedroom of the queen or princess, and plant a letter, offering her a job at a local brothel.
  65. Convince a dragon turtle that the water it swims in is poisonous.
  66. Uncover who is sending death threats to a hated public official. 
  67. Bargain for passage through a dragon’s domain.
  68. Kidnap a wizard’s familiar and hold it for ransom. 
  69. Take a mistakenly teleported merfolk back to a distant ocean in less than a day. 
  70. Convince a barbarian that they are really a sorcerer who can cast powerful spells.
  71. Insult an entire army of orcs…
  72. Stop a vigilante from killing thieves’ guild members. 
  73. “Borrow” a hag’s eye from a coven of hags. 
  74. Expose the beloved mayor as an evil cultist slowly poisoning the populace. 
  75. Compel a planetar and a pit fiend to work together against a legion of demons.
  76. Join a temple of faith, in order to spy on another temple. 
  77. Track the source of a crime spree back to an archfey.
  78. Put a weak and dying wizard on the throne of a barbarian kingdom and keep them there. 
  79. Join an order of wizards, without being able to cast spells. 
  80. Disguise a wealthy merchant as a beggar, to let them watch customers in the market.
  81. Convince deep gnomes, drow, and duergar to co-operate in opening the lost Vault Beneath the Mountain. 
  82. Infiltrate a drow city to assassinate a svirfneblin traitor. 
  83. “Accidentally” cause the death of a world-renowned mage.
  84. Forge a strike force of half-elves who report directly to you, their new king.
  85. Convince a treant to leave the forest it has occupied for centuries. 
  86. Destroy a thieves’ guild. 
  87. Win a fighting tournament using a weapon you’re not proficient with.
  88. Assassinate an imprisoned assassin. Make it look like it’s not a murder.
  89. Hug, kiss and then kill a well-loved noble.
  90. Hunt down a thief and bring him to a wizards’ guild for justice. 
  91. Steal the sacred scrolls of a clan of ninjas. 
  92. Smuggle a vampire into a city in broad daylight, without using stealth or magic.
  93. Use your soul as a bargaining chip in a deal with a devil.
  94. Broker a peace agreement between dwarves and orcs, then immediately break that agreement.
  95. Explore the burial city of the elvish royals.
  96. Convince a githyanki and a githzerai that they are destined to be married.
  97. Back out of a bargain with a powerful crime syndicate—and survive. 
  98. Bring a choir of harpies to sing at a bards’ college. 
  99. Persuade a red dragon to become a dracolich. 
  100. Convince a devil to break its own contract. 
Underrated 4E-Original D&D Monsters!

While Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition had many flaws when it came to integrating narrative and gameplay; on some pretty fundamental levels; one advantage of the system was that the simplified monster-creation allowed for a dickton of really interesting brand-new monsters to appear in a small space.

Sadly, due to both a lack of art for many of them and a fundamentally fluff-lite narrative approach for most of its run, almost nobody remembers them.

And that’s what we’re here to talk about today, with the name, a brief description, and the book they come from! So, in no particular order:

Banderhobbs- A horrible vore-frog that lives in the plane of Shadows. They take people away to work in their horrible shadow-mines until they turn into more Banderhobbs! [Monster Manual 3, tho they did come back in 5e’s Volo’s Guide]

Dreambreath Dracoliches- Dragon liches who root their immortality in the plane of Dreams and generally look like something that should be painted on the side of a van [Draconomicon: Chromatics]

Star Spawn- Horrible eldritch monster-avatars of the Stars, summoned by a giant planet that got fucked up by spending too long in the Cthulhu-dimension passing in front of them. They have stats so you can fight the giant planet. [Monster Manuals 2 & 3]

Filth Hags- A type of hag who always comes accompanied by a son she made out of poop. Yes I know they just give it as nonspecific “filth,” but we all know it’s poop [The Book of Vile Darkness. Yes there was a 4e version.]

Accipitridae- A centipede-thing made of grave-dirt and bone, part of a series of undead monsters created from grave-detritus known as Dethritus. There is also the Offalian who is a snake-thing made out of guts. [Open Grave]

Voracia- A giant starfish that eats fairies. Made as one of the edition’s Abominations; giant living weapons designed to fight in the war between the Gods and the jotun-like elemental Primordials. [The Plane Above]

Astral Renders- Another abomination, this giant silver/gold blob monster that doesn’t just eat flesh, but also the barriers between dimensions. To teleport.  [The Plane Above]

Bonewretch Skeletons- Literal dead-baby skeletons [Open Grave]

Orium Dragons- Metallic dragons obsessed with ancient civilizations, their history and lore, and with an obsession with bringing said ancient civilizations back. They breathe acid which turns into snake-vapor monsters. Which then stay around to keep attacking you. [Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons]

Apocalypse Spells- The remnants of apocalyptically deadly/powerful spells that have gained sentience, like shards of the chains of a trapped god or colorless fire from a massive war-ending spell [Monster Manual 3]

Larval Snipers/Larval Assassins/Larval Warmasters- Variants on the basic worm-that-walks monster including snipers made of wasps, assassins made of centipedes, and warlords made of beetles [Open Grave]

Chillfire Destroyers- 4e had this thing where they condensed the Elemental Planes into one big Elemental Chaos, and one of the byproducts of that was that all the elementals (at least at first) were combinations of elements. The Chillfire Destroyer; which is literally an elemental made of ice with fire inside; was one of the cooler; more iconic (In my eyes at least) manifestations of the idea. [Monster Manual 2]

Dragonscale Sloughs- Piles of dead skin and shed scales from dragons that’ve come to undead life. The dragon doesn’t even have to be dead for it to happen, as it mentions they tend to form naturally in the lairs of elder dragons [Open Grave]

Consumptive Swarm- A “demon” that’s actually a swarm of Slaad/chaos-frog larvae mutated into demons by the energy from shard of evil that formed The Abyss (Basically Chaotic Evil Hell). There’s also versions for Efreet and Djinn and a weird thing called a Writhing Crag supposedly made from Ropers and Xorn with a great design and the ability to embed you in stone. [The Plane Below]

Unrisen- People who came back very, very wrong after a Raise Dead spell. You know Pet Sematery? It’s basically Pet Sematery. [Open Grave]

Swarmtongue Worms- While the old gold-coin-mimicking Hoard Scarab came back, they also added another parasite for draconic hordes, grotesque stomachlike wormy-tongued parasites the size of a dwarf. They come in multi-headed versions called Swarmtongue Hydras and are implied to be either relatives of Carrion Crawlers or the result of what happens when the parasites feeding on a dead dragon’s body get bathed in energy from the Cthulhu dimension [Draconomicon: Chromatic]

Dragonclaw Swarms- An “advanced” version of the Crawling Claw enemy that is literally hundreds of severed dragon feet coming to attack you. D&D is silly sometimes [Open Grave]

Quom- Bald-headed two-faced people who were pretty chill until their goddess got exploded by the God/Primordial war. Now they’re searching for all the shards of their Goddess, which is a problem given how many of those have wormed their way into magic weapons or sometimes even people. [The PlaneAbove]

Flesh Cults- One of the coolest new ideas that got only one entry, they’re basically a cult not dedicated to immortality like most undead cults but rather to ˆephemerality, being in the here and the now and that everything ends eventually, with their rituals giving themselves regeneration that makes too much flesh, with it being described as a “perpetual cascade of flesh and organs,” which they then use as weapons and reanimate as temporary quickly-decaying undead servants. Because waste not want not I suppose [Open Grave]

Oubliviae- A new demon lord who looks bland at first, basically a pretty lady with an HR Geiger-armor-body, but her backstory is fascinating. Basically she is the lord of the end of all civilizations; with her layer made from a platonic “perfect” city that she ruined to turn into a reflection of the ruins of every civilization there ever was or will be; and she’s implied to come directly from the Shard of Evil at the heart of the Abyss rather than just being mutated Primordials/other creatures like the rest of the Demon Lords [Demonomicon]

Solkara- One of the few Primordials statted up that isn’t an Elder Elemental Evil with a new coat of paint, she’s suitably honked-up looking; given she’s a humanoid eel-monster with amongst other things three arms attached to two torsos connected at the shoulder and hips, which have two necks that connect to a singular four-eyestalked head. She’s stuck in an iceberg and really, really wants out. [The Plane Below]

This probably isn’t near all of them, so if I missed some, please tell me!

Man I ‘d love to see @bogleech do an article on some of these…

Dungeons & Dragons: Adventure Prompts

 1. Traveling through a particularly dense part of an elder forest, the adventurers come across eery, man-sized totems fashioned from animal bone, furs and hide looming over the roadside. Though dead and motionless, its almost as if there were eyes watching them from the dark, hollow sockets, following their every move.
They come across a small but heavily fortified village, a few simple cottages hiding behind a tall, wooden wall. The inhabitants wear grim and weary expressions on their faces and all are armed to the teeth. Salt is laid out in front of every doorframe and window board and talismans to ward off evil hang over every doorstep.
When questioned about the totems lining the road outside, the villagers seem to fall into complete and utter terror.
Then the lights of the village suddenly go out.

 2. TROLLS! IN THE DUNGEON! TROLLS IN THE DUNGEON

 3. A new religion has been founded and it is already passing pamphlets and sending heralds and priests to voice the new scripture out to the people. All’s well, you can never have enough gods to worship and blame for all your troubles in your life.
There’s only one problem.
Their new deity happens to be an ancient red dragon.

4. An elder entity from beyond space and time has been watching our adventurers for quite some time and finds their actions of chaotic heroics highly amusing. So much so, it decides to kidnap them and have them run through a dungeon of terror and geometric madness for its entertainment, promising three wishes to the victor.
Victor. Singular.

 5. An accident in an alchemists lab caused the many hundreds of potions stored inside to be shattered and their liquid contents to vaporize and spread and mingle in the form of a multicolored gaseous cloud that is now covering the town and infecting its inhabitants with random arcane effects.

6. A town painted in bloody smiles, an ivory altar rising from obsidian tiles
  Their eyes so hollow, as their god they follow
  To bring forth the lamb for the slaughter, all to appease to his eternal laughter
  They welcome you with open arms, and hide the bodies under the soil of their farms
  They wait for you to sleep so tight, then they slit your throat the same night.

7. The Vassa'li-Estate, once the proud and shining home of an old noble family, now stands abandoned and grey amidst its rotting lands.
Locust swarms surround the building and feast on the flesh of those poor foolish enough to set foot on the family estate, while the river that springs forth from a source on the Vassa'li lands has become as deadly toxin, poisoning the surrounding soil of the farmland, driving its inhabitants away.
They say the Vassa'li have broken the sacred laws of hospitality, and that the gods are punishing them for their transgression.
But what really lurks beneath the estate does not swear its allegiance to a divine curse…

8. They are there. You know they are. They creep behind the walls and crawl through the shadows of your home. They hide under your children’s beds, grinning and licking the drivel off their teeth.
Their arms are long and their hands are strong, as they take your child out of its crib and vanish into the night.
They dwell in the forests, under crooked roots and in dark leaved trees, their eyes lit with deceitful innocence and their smiles wide and sharp.
They wear crowns of thorns and berries, their faces as fair as a dying summer.
They are known as the lords and ladies. The Fair Folk. Fey or Fae.
They are beautiful. They are amicable. They are promising. They are gifting.
But they are not nice.
They are not good.
They are the Fair Folk, and they are coming.

9. Every night, people vanish. Old and young, strong and weak, poor and rich. They are robbed off the streets, out of the safety of their homes, always in the shadow of the night.
The only signs of a culprit even existing are the ripped off doors and foot-shaped craters in the stone roads and the cracks in the walls of the large, shovel-like hands heaving the creature’s way up the buildings.
The city does not dare to sleep. The guards too terrified and understaffed to deal with this creature. But one thing they know.
The creature is multiplying.

10. Ever since the Blood Moon rose above the village, madness has been spreading like a plague. Randomly does a villager stop dead in their tracks, gaze up at the dark-veined sky and laugh at the grinning moon, gouging out their eyes with their own fingers while screaming in a language foreign to this and any other world.
And the Blood Moon, it hangs there, watching and grinning and feasting on the madness, its insides bulging and boiling - ready to give birth to a new Child of the Far Elder Realms.

11. One of the party members comes across a mysterious goliath gentlemen, who offers them the opportunity of a lifetime, presenting them with a strange deck of cards and ushers them to pick a single card from it.

12. A rift to the Elemental Plane of Water opens in the middle of a green valley, flooding it and the surrounding landscape with currents of ocean water and spilling all sorts of elemental creatures forth into the world - and threatens to drown the entire land if it is not closed.

13. An ancient Vampire seeks final death - but his hunger for blood has corrupted his mind to such primal thoughts that he can barely even remember his name. In desperation, he sends a servant with notices into the nearby towns, putting an anonymous contract on his own head.

14. One of the town’s graves has upturned in the night - the grave of a man that died through a horrible accident. But now his course stalks the night as a revenant and seeks out vengeance against his murderer.

15. The heroes notice that curious posters have appeared throughout the land - and discover, that a playwright has apparently started to adapt their adventures for the stage! As they visit one of the plays, they discover that unfortunately, the playwright chose to ridicule a long-term enemy of the party in his adaptation, and now this enemy seeks grim satisfaction against the playwright.

16. A powerful Lich has awoken from his centuries-long slumber and seeks to further his arcane knowledge and magic experiments. The heroes hear of this, and rush to end this potential threat…
Only to discover that the Lich has apparently applied as a lecturer at an esteemed arcane university, and is thus as a member of this facility and protected by its sanctioned laws.

17. A glabrezu, a heinous treachery demon has taken on the shape of a deva and is guiding a solitary village down the path of corruption, disguised as wisdoms and commands of the gods.

18. A young humanoid approaches the party, face hidden under a cowl. They ask the adventurers in aid of finding their parents, whom they have lost sight of a long time ago. When asked to reveal their face first, the humanoid reveals the glowing eyes of a celestial and the dark, curved horns of a fiend.

19. The party is approached by a harvester devil, who promises them a wish if they aid him in claiming the overdue soul of a wizard, who plans to escape their contract by turning into a Lich.

20. A succubus has opened a lucrative business in the royal city, her customers including several high-ranking members of the court. Using her charm and skills of persuasion, the succubus goes on to sell information to both cults of demons and darchdevils.
Now, two representatives of both cults, one demon, one devil, approach the party and bid them to kill the succubus and extract whatever information she may have on the other cult.

21. A crafty bunch of imps have infested the holy temple of a good-aligned deity and start turning the residing friars and paladins against each other with their pranks, whispers and invisible shenanigans.

22. A high-ranking pit fiend appears out of nowhere in front of the party. But, instead of attacking, he goes on his knees and asks for redemption…

23.  A letter has been sent to bards and musicians throughout the land! An ancient copper dragon and self-called lover of the fine arts announces that he is about to host the greatest musical competition of all time: Whoever writes him the most beautiful song and performs it in front of him and the assembled crowd, shall receive a great, legendary artifact in the dragon’s possession.

24. Good is not soft. It is a fact that applies to many of the metallic dragons, as their sense of good and evil and the means necessary to do the one and end the other is vastly different from that of most mortals. A group of bronze dragons has therefor decided that the only way to achieve peace in the world, would be by subjugating the mortal races under their benevolent rule.

25. Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons. A well known idiom and wisdom that the common folk adhere to. Such an idiom apparently does not exist for the dragon’s themselves, as a young copper dragon believed it to be funny to steal two objects from the horde of two chromatic dragons and hide them in the other’s horde, laughing as the two chromatic drakes in their fury do battle over the landscape - and causing heavy casualties amongst the poor people that are helplessly stuck between them.

26. Storm clouds gather and brew above the endless desert. A mysterious, blue haired stranger appears in the city of a wealthy sultan and bends the knee, proposing for the sultan’s eldest child’s hand in marriage. As the sultan refuses, the mysterious stranger angrily reveals his true form, that of an ancient blue dragon and carries the sultan’s child off to his lair. A typical damsel in distress-quest, nothing new to hard-boiled adventurers…
But under the golden facade of the sultan’s palace hides rot and deceit, and the sultan’s child does not seem too eager to return to their father…

27. After hundreds of years, a terrible doom has awakened under the ice of the northern islands. A terrible white archdrake, a beast of primordial winter and elemental fury, its mere presence causes summer itself to turn into the coldest winter. Soon, it will spread its eternal blizzard all over the world.

28. A city under siege - a chromatic dragon of great size and strength furiously lashes out against the city walls. The citizens ask the adventurers to slay the beast, but when confronted, the dragon reveals its true intention: To save their child, held captive as an exotic pet by the king.

29. The Hobgoblins have decided to play against the rules of land-based warfare and have taken to the seas, building an entire armada of ships under the command of their new Warchief.
Yet, when  one vessel of their fleet is one day captured and the crew questioned, not only is the ship empty of loot or even rations besides of weaponry and the Hobgoblin soldiers seem to babble only of one thing:
“The Deep Lord.”

30. A drunken sailor comes up to the party and tries to sell them some trinkets and garbage he fished out of the sea. Next to broken compasses, an old cutlass and some sea-glass baubles however, there is a shining, round stone stone as big as one’s head, pearl-like and shimmering.
And there’s something moving inside.

31. On a travel over sea, a terrible storm breaks out, capturing the ship the party travels on and shattering it against the rocky shore of a small island near the mainland.
As the party awakes, not only do they find their means of travel and return destroyed, but the coast of the mainland steadily growing smaller in the distance, as the small island swims away with them on it.

32.  Hiring afoot! The captain of a harboring ship recently lost their crew after a falling out and is now seeking a replacement. The goal? A fabled island in the far east, where according to old documents the captain has discovered, an ancient temple to a forgotten deity lies in hiding…

33. There are rumors going about of a shipment of actual dragon eggs having appeared on the black market, sold by an individual known as Kaveth Dyr.

34. An infamous criminal has escaped from prison where he was awaiting his execution. The town guard warn the population that the criminal was once a study of the magic school of Illusions - meaning he could be hiding anywhere or as anyone.

35. One of the temples of the gods has been desecrated - offensive graffiti smeared in goat-blood on the wall, feces stains on the doorstep, and symbols of the deity’s divine rival are hung over its gate.
The priests are now seeking aid in finding the culprit, before the angry planetar that  is currently residing within the temple and was send by the deity starts rampaging through the town.

36. A rat plague is rampaging through the town - not rats as in tiny vermin, but bloody huge, spike-sprouting, rabid Dire Rats as big as dogs.

37. A rich noblewoman is looking into expanding her collection of ancient artifacts and scriptures - promising a grand reward for any adventurers willing to retrieve or sell such artifacts to her.
Such a shame that these adventuring parties often never return from the same ruin she always sends each team to…

38. Over the course of the last three weeks, several of the young women of the village have gone missing. The party is hired to look into the mysterious disappearances, only to see that the women weren’t being kidnapped, but saved…

39. A young wizard has set up shop in the village and is promptly being swarmed by the locals for all sorts of potions and spells and charms to aid them in their every-day business. At first business goes well, but very soon things change as the various charms and potions show weird, nasty side-effects on the villagers…

40. Ominous calls and whispers echo through the night, sending chills down the people’s spine and causing the hooting of nightly owls to shush. In the morning there is much uproar and panic, as the villagers find the old graveyard entirely uprooted - every single grave desecrated and empty.

41. Near a small fishing village, a coven of sea hags have made their home on a offshore crag rising out of the sea. In return for worship and a yearly tribute, they gift the village with their nets full of fishes and clams that carry pure pearls within. A fair trade…
Where it not for the fact that the tribute consisted of this year’s firstborn child.

42. A farmer reports strange happenings to occur on his farmstead - the crops are withering, in the night whispers sound from behind the walls and tiny footprints are found on the wooden floor that belong to no human or beast.

43. A traveling merchant comes through the village, carrying nothing on him but a small satchel on his side. The merchant gives no trade, but sells exactly what anyone asks him for from his bag, but never demands gold - only a favor.

44. A young priest of the pantheon’s sun god, eager to prove himself and the authority of the sun deity has come to the village and moved into the old church. From there, he begins a crusade against the ancient traditions of the village - such as the reverence of the woodland spirits, fey creatures and calling to the forefather’s spirits for guidance and started to tear down the old stone circles meant for bringing peace offerings to the woods- thus starting a deep, escalating rivalry between him and the village pellar.

45. Thirty years ago, a child went missing in the woods near the village. All searching was for naught, and the villagers had to hold the funeral rites over an empty grave.
Now, thirty years later on the night of an empty moon - the child stands on its parent’s doorstep once again, not aged a day, asking what’s for supper.

Alternate Ways to End Combat in an RPG

Hello, readers! At the moment, I’m super busy prepping a Lovecraft Legacies LARP event, but I didn’t want to fail to offer some DMing advice this week. So I grabbed an old article I wrote for the website GeeksDreamGirl.com. I wrote it with 4E in mind, but it’s lessons translate to any game. Enjoy!

Combat is an integral part of many RPGs. In some, it’s a necessary evil. In others, like D&D, it’s an exciting part of the game. Sometimes, the PCs are facing truly evil and villainous foes that need to be wiped from the face of your campaign world. Sometimes, however, you want to have a battle end in something other than a complete massacre of one side or another. What if the PCs are facing honorable foes who’ve been duped into fighting them? Or what if they’re facing foes who vastly out-number or out-power them? Is a slaughter the only answer? Obviously, the
answer can and should be no.

Here then are five ways to end a fight before the battlefield is drenched in the blood of one side or another. You can use these ways to keep a battle short, or to offer an alternative to simple one-
sided destruction.

A Fight to First Blood

If the PCs are facing honorable foes, or are fighting in a tournament, they may choose to fight to “first blood”, and I’m not referencing any cheesy 80s action films. In 4E D&D, this is an easy
concept: have the players and NPCs agree to fight until someone hits their Bloodied value, and use this as the threshold of when someone finally draws blood on the other.

This has a lot of basis in reality. Knights at tournament wanted to show their prowess at real battle, and first blood was a way to show one’s skill, but to avoid seriously injuring one’s foe. Likewise, a duel that was serious but didn’t need to be to the death would sometimes be fought to first blood. This served as a grim reminder to the wounded – I bloodied you once. Next time might be more fatal.

Holding Out Like a Hero

This is a particular favorite of mine. In it, the PCs aren’t necessarily planning on winning a fight, but only of surviving and holding off foes until a set goal is reached. This is particularly effective for when the king can get to safety if his loyal knights can last ten rounds of combat, or if a wizard needs them to hold until he gets six successes on Arcana checks. Combined with Skill Challenges, this can make for a memorable sequence. Skeletons will keep pouring out of the crypt until the cleric successfully re-consecrates it as a skill challenge of minor actions, or the room will keep filling with water that’s inhabited with shrieking eels until the rogue resets the trap mechanism. It’s up to the party to hold off the skeletons, eels, or what have you.

You can use this device to simulate a scene like Helm’s Deep. The PCs have to hold out a certain number of rounds until the reinforcements arrive. Especially in combination with an ever-increasing number of minions, this can give the proper feeling of literally holding off an army.

Cutting Off the Head

The orcish army feels unbeatable until their leader, Gruzhgarn, is slain. When the necromancer is killed, the undead crumble back to lifeless husks. The wolves will flee in dismay if their alpha is killed. If you make one or more of the enemies the linchpin holding the rest of the monsters together, then you can give the PCs a goal other than simply slaying every monster on the battlefield. Once the leader-type monster goes down, the rest will surrender, flee, return to their home plane, etc. I especially like the feeling of “kill the wizard and his minions will return to the Elemental Plane.” It’s something that makes a logical sort of story sense, and it gives an out to the players.

A variation on this is “this monster is invulnerable until condition X is met.” In my current campaign, a great example was Auntie Mengybone, whom I’ve mentioned in other columns. She was harnessing the life-force of a captive Arch Fey to constantly heal herself, making her effectively invulnerable. Several of the PCs with Controller-type powers kept her busy and away from the other PCs who were freeing the Arch Fey through a skill challenge. Once the Arch Fey was released, she immediately went into retreat mode, leaving her minions to fight the PCs. She didn’t escape, but, if she had, she would’ve likely become a recurring villain in the campaign.

Live to Fight Another Day

There’s an adage that most PCs would rather have their character killed than have them captured. I’m not sure what the psychology around this is, but I agree that it’s true. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to have your monsters behave the same way.

I befuddled my players in my Eberron campaign by having the changeling villain they’d been fighting step back, go defensive, and offer to surrender, but only if the Lawful Good character
promised him mercy. The party was immediately suspicious, but they reluctantly agreed. This let me draw a fight that was already a foregone conclusion to a quick close and keep a valuable NPC
alive for a future sequence. And when the PCs found out later that he’d escaped the prisons of their patrons, they cursed his name – darned, tricksy changelings!

The other trick is to have monsters flee. They might be running for reinforcements, or they might be running for their lives, but sometimes monsters, especially intelligent ones, might choose to abandon a fight that they’re clearly losing. Earlier editions of D&D had complex Morale check systems to help a DM determine whether or not a monster would fight on or drop their weapons, but, nowadays, story is the arbiter of such a decision.

Stop. Just Stop.

I would never suggest that you should declare a fight against the PCs and tell them they’re all dead. But good news! Your monsters don’t have any ego beyond that which you invest in them.

If you’re down to two half-dead orcs, everything else is dead, and the PCs are still in excellent shape, you can call that fight. Sure, the orcs might do a little more damage, but is it really necessary to eke every hit point from the player characters that you can? I think not.

Some DMs, and some players, don’t like this approach. They want to know exactly who did what, who killed whom, and noodle the fight down to each hit point. That’s not my style of game play. If it’s getting late, and I have an important plot point to make before game ends, and this fight is slowing me down, I’ll sometimes call a fight once it’s clear how unlikely it is that the PCs will lose. “Well, the ogre has 15 hit points, and you’re all going to get to attack before he does. Unless you really want to know who kills the ogre specifically, let’s call it. Someone describe for me how the ogre dies.” My players were baffled the first time I did this, but they’ve
come to appreciate it.

In Closing

Not every fight has to be fought to the last HP. Sometimes, there are reasons why a fight should end early, and sometimes it’s just more convenient to move things along rather than dither down to the bitter end. Using this tool, you can make battles more about the story and excitement and less about drudging down to the last hit point.

Roleplaying A God...

MEETING A GOD

When player characters meet a deity, they’re meeting a being with senses that extend for miles. 

A deity merely has to think of or desire something to have it. 

Its awareness of its portfolio covers vast areas, and its control of the building blocks of matter, energy, and life makes it the master of most situations, particularly on the Material Plane. 

The awesome presence of a deity cows most mortals, and may drive them from the deity in fear. 

Gods seek out mortals who do great deeds that favor the gods, as well as those who threaten their power, primacy, or existence. 

Even when a god graces a mortal or a group of mortals with its physical presence, that god’s attention is effortlessly in several places at once. 

Mortals who reach the home of a deity irritate that power with their interruption. 

They can expect a much cooler (or hotter, depending on the deity and the plane) reception. 

As the Dungeon Master, you manipulate the experience of meeting a god to suit your campaign. 

You can frighten the player characters or welcome them, depending on how you want the characters to feel about their deities, and how much you want the characters to interact with them. 

Depending on what kind of pantheon you have, you may be able to draw inspiration from elsewhere.

Keep reading

(I’m a party member in this, specifically a level 12 wu-jen. We are trying to organize an office after stealing a bunch of documents, trying to make it look like nothing happened)

Me: so, could i, maybe, use knowledge: the planes to organize these papers?

Gm: no. No, no you can’t, no.

Me: but, hear me out-

Gm: no.

Me: but, paper is almost 2 dimensional, and something 2 dimensional is a plane, so,

Gm: okay, but it won’t do anything. Go ahead, I guess.

Me: *rolls a natural 20* so, uhh, that’s a total of…38…

(The party starts cracking up, the gm sighs heavily)

Gm: okay, yeah, fine. You organize the papers SO WELL they transcend this realm, and go to the semi-elemental plane of law. Happy??

Me, grinning from ear to ear: yes, yes I am.

The Elemental Plane of Planes, could it be any plainer?

Context: We begin a campaign described as “DnD planar faction go all World War I, all of reality becomes a battleground and suffers.” We open the campaign and immediately trip over problems with the English language and spoken word. Our DM, unfortunately, has been up all night and had to go get something checked out as he believed he had a concussion.

DM: So the Angelic and Draconic armies are fighting one another on a plain, and you’ve had to take refuge in a ruined fort nearby.

Robo-Snek: Err… is that a plain or a plane? Like a grassland or a sliver of an alternate dimension?

Orc-ceror: This is a very important distinction.

DM: Ah, the grassland.

Orc-ceror: It could also be an airplane.

DM: It’s a grassland in the elemental plane of planes. There’s nothing to eat but airline food.

Robo-Snek: Noooooooooo!

Orc-ceror: That’s an idea that never took off.

DM: It really crashed and burned. I should’ve specified that it’s the grassland. Confound you, English language!

Robo-Snek: It’s okay, you’ve had a concussion. You’re probably on auto-pilot right now.

DM: ANYWAY! You’ve all taken refuge in a ruined fort on the edge of the plain.

Robo-Snek: Like on one of the wings? There’s…. some… THING…. onthewing!