Let us suppose a variation of magic that does not manipulate a natural force ever-present in the world. Instead let us consider a school of magi who pull their power from the realms beyond the material, reaching into the turning gears of Mechanus, the glorious light of Celestia, the feral twilight of Ysgard, or – as presented here – the twisting tunnels, the ever blowing gales mingled with the howls of souls as they shred and dissolve into the headwaters of the Styx, Pandemonium.
The spells here are selected with a view to their aesthetic relation to Pandemonium, which borders the roiling chaos of Limbo and the demonic halls of the Abyss. Pandemonium itself is predominantly home to demons, a handful of damned souls that endure the winds, and a few evil or mad gods who have come to build their realms within. The spells are heavy on necrotic forces, death, madness, and eternally howling winds.
The following list refers to spells in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition Spells do not deviate from their written descriptions in either the Player’s Handbook or Xanathar’s Guide to Everything (noted XGE below). Also included is an Arcane Tradition option for wizards, which has not been playtested.
Shred of Pandemonium
Beginning when you select this school at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to copy a spell from the Pandemonium list into your spellbook is halved.
A Fragment of Madness
Starting at 2nd level, you can cause wind to howl and whispers to mingle with your voice. You know the Thaumaturgy cantrip, which is a wizard cantrip for you, and does not count towards your number of known cantrips. You become proficient in Intimidation, and can apply your intelligence modifier instead of your charisma modifier when making intimidation checks.
Assault The Spirit
Starting at 6th level, you can spend a bonus action to weaken the will of a creature you targeted with a spell of first level or higher this turn. If you do you may choose intelligence, wisdom, or charisma. The creature must succeed on a saving throw with that ability score, or have disadvantage on ability checks and saving throws in that ability. This effect lasts for 1 minute, or until you use it again.
Starting at 10th level you have resistance to psychic damage, and immunity to fear. Knowing what awaits you on the other side, you cling more desperately to life. You can choose to add your intelligence modifier to death saving throws instead of your constitution modifier.
Plane of Tunnels
Starting at 14th level, you can walk through Pandemonium itself taking with you any belongings you can carry, and up to eight willing creatures of your choosing. Opening the portal takes 1 minute. You are immune to the maddening effects of the winds of Pandemonium, and can walk for up to one hour without being attacked by the denizens of that plane, but any creature you take with you does not benefit from these immunities. You can leave Pandemonium to any plane after 1 hour at an approximate location of your choosing, as if you had cast the Plane Shift spell.
Chill Touch – Fading souls reach out and clutch desperately at the living.
Dancing Lights – A cluster of lights that flicker like candles in a breeze, or perhaps cast a sickly greyish light.
Gust (XGE) – A blast of wind that shrieks like someone in fear.
Ray of Frost – The cold is not frosty like a northern gale, but chill like a corpse.
Toll the Dead (XGE) – The sound of the dead beckoning to join them calls as loudly as any bell.
1st Level Spells
Cause Fear (XGE) – You fill the mind of your victim with a sense of loss, or perhaps hound them with the sound of screams, or perhaps let them glimpse the forsaken things that dwell in the deepest of pits in Pandemonium.
Comprehend Languages – You hear whispers, always. If you bend your will you hear the ones that speak the right words.
Expeditious Retreat – Borne on winds without end, your movement is tremendously magnified.
Tasha’s Hideous Laughter – You call upon a madness all to keen to infect the mind of another, dropping a mortal soul to their knees, wracked with pitiful laughter.
Thunderwave – Allowing the rend within you to open just a little further, the shrieking winds flow out of your very body, driving aggressors back with sheer force.
2nd Level Spells
Blindness/Deafness – Eyes filled with darkness, ears filled with wind, stumbling and disoriented.
Crown of Madness – No twisted wreath of iron spikes, instead the victim turns gaunt and furtive, lashing out at any who come near.
Mind Spike (XGE) – For as long as the spell lasts your enemy always feels your eyes on their back, glimpsing you as if on the far side of a long tunnel. though you may only be a few feet away or several thousand miles.
Warding Wind (XGE) – You tear aside the wards that protect your world from Pandemonium itself, and let it pour through you uncontrolled for only a few moments.
3rd Level Spells
Bestow Curse – Evil energies flow along the River Styx, and you manipulate them to sap the will and drain the life of your victim.
Fear – Demon howls and tortured screams are a chorus that flow from you, robbing all who hear it of their confidence.
Life Transference (XGE) – Like the flowing water of the river of souls, you draw a little of your enemy’s life and let it pour into you.
Summon Lesser Demons (XGE) – By the leave of your Dungeon Master, you might also be permitted to conjure some more fitting horrors, such as a Spectre, The Wretched or Skulks from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, Vargouilles or Xvarts from Volo’s Guide to Monsters. All are creatures that dwell in the depths of Pandemonium, and all might answer the beckons of the powerful.
4th Level Spells
Banishment – Enclosed in a pocket of inky black stone, your victim shall lie imprisoned until released.
Blight – Pure, deathly energy, carrying spray from the rapids that punctuate the mournful Styx, strip your victims of their life.
Confusion – You rob your foe of little enough memory to disorient them.
Phantasmal Killer – At your bidding, an evil spirit hounds a creature you select. Who is to say what is illusion when you can tap into the river of souls?
5th Level Spells
Cone of Cold – A blast of dread wind filled with howling voices, revealing briefly that entombing stone world from which you draw your power.
Control Winds (XGE) – Even stood in Pandemonium itself, you can bend wind to your will. You can, with this ability, spare yourself and allies of the maddening effects of Pandemonium’s winds for the duration.
Enervation (XGE) – You hasten the flow of life from your victim, dragging shards of their soul away and casting them into Pandemonium.
Modify Memory – The waters of the Styx briefly fill the mouth of your victim before they compulsively swallow them down. In that moment you can tear from their minds whatever moment you please, filling them instead with a lie of your choosing.
6th Level Spells
Circle of Death – One brief scream to pull the spirit from all who surround you, be they friend or foe.
Create Undead – Calling on those souls who yearn for mortal form, you animate a fallen body into a maddened and cannibalistic creature. With the permission of your Dungeon Master, the spell might draw a Spectre from Pandemonium instead.
Soul Cage (XGE) – The souls of the dying are yours to gather, and you can extort them as you please before casting them into the river.
7th Level Spells
Etherealness – You shed your flesh for a few moments, to move as a wraith through the world. As you do, your hair and form appear battered as if by powerful winds.
Finger of Death – A touch is enough to tear a soul from the body, leaving an obedient husk behind.
Whirlwind (XGE) – Now your power is such that it takes effort to strip the necrotic forces of Pandemonium from the kinetic ones. Your conjuration is a vortex of faces contorted in pain, and carries fine grey dust.
8th Level Spells
Maddening Darkness (XGE) – A void of darkness filled with tittering fiends and the insane dead is not hard to find in Pandemonium’s depths. Let all who wander in your darkness yearn for light and peace alike.
Maze – You cast a creature into a fragment of the twisting tunnels of Pandemonium, letting them wander blindly among the forlorn and lost dead.
9th Level Spells
Psychic Scream (XGE) – As your power pinnacles, you can cause a madness so complete that all who challenge you risk having their minds plucked from them, their minds reduced to paste, or leaving them imprisoned within their thoughts for long enough for you to complete their fate.
Power Word Kill – It is within your power to tear the soul complete from the body with only a word, casting them into the river’s depths, to be lost forever.
As usual, Dungeon Situational‘s course is governed by your vote. This list was unanimously decided upon by you, and this week I’ll be drawing from your suggestions in the poll…
Nemesis villain, a creature or foe more terrible than the average monster, something to form a challenge beyond a merely tough monster. Stats and a suggested encounter, with a few campaign seeds to make this villain not only loathsome, but a true combat challenge.
A nation, a place and a people created by their geography, their philosophy and government. What kind of adventurers might be born there, and what kind of adventures they might find.
Rumours, garnered through too much time spent at a tavern listening to the tall tales of drunks. Some truth, some misinformation, and among them some story yet to be discovered.