More ghosts, here’s part one.
… And One for the Man in the Corner
In the Ox and Puncheon there’s a table with a candle that’s never lit, a cup that never empties but is regularly refreshed, and chairs that are never moved and never sat in except by those approaching the end of their tether. The old barflies know to get one for the man in the corner, the publican and her staff invite all new patrons to add an extra cup to their order, with a furtive nod to the dark table where no one sits and nurses pint after pint of Pig Iron stout. (more…)
Three short of a mediocre film.
Also this is going to have to be a two-parter by necessity! Expect part two on Thursday, and then a pause on Dungeon Situational for a few months while I get a few other article ideas out into the world. Here are the first five examples of ghosts, hauntings, and other untethered spirits.
Here again I will be using rules for 5th edition D&D but should be easily adaptable for other systems. (more…)
As Wizards of the Coast have already, very kindly, bridged the gap between both M:tG and D&D, this should be nice and easy, right?
But that’s not the point of these articles, a shamelessly self-indulgent stretching of the creative muscles made public for anyone to use, and a bit of mental exercise at the same time. So as we have Planeshift articles for Amonkhet, Dominaria, Innistrad, Ixalan, and Zendikar, and a large guide attached to Ravnica, I’ll have to look to another plane of Magic’s collection to make things a little harder. Theros is too easy, Phyrexia is my favourite plane so probably one of the easiest options for me… (more…)
Gods are made to explain the inexplicable. Diancecht, Nergal, Loviatar are the cursed divines who bring disease in mythology, from Dragonlance it is the domain of Incabulos or Nerull, and from my setting find Ugol, dark god of the alchemist, whose symbol is a scorpion in a jar. But among these are gods who balance both the disease and the cure, gods who have the power to condemn and to heal.
Plague clerics, also known as plague doctors, strike a balance between life and death, embracing the horrors that befall mortals in the name of healing all sicknesses, and bringing suffering to only those who deserve it. (more…)
Halflings – the legally distinct smallfolk that are in no way to be likened to hobbits – are friendly if sedentary people who live in garden-like settlements dotted with allotments and farms that can help sate an appetite that defies their small stature. Occasionally they rove great distances in search of new lands to settle, finding new allies and friends at every turn. In D&D – certainly in 5th ed – they come in two key varieties, lightfoot and stout, but it’s highly unlikely that such a well travelled race would be so limited in diversity.
An important side-note, in my settings halflings are not the cheery big-footed miniature people as in other, more typical campaign settings. Halflings universally come from a distant and unknown continent, about which they never speak except in reference to “home”. They are predisposed to secret-keeping, and when they settle in one place they make their homes impregnable by means of stealth and warding magics. The following halflings come from one such continent, on one such world, but should be suitably balanced for any campaign setting. They also use D&D 5th edition rules. (more…)
Constructs are fairly unique in the worlds of Dungeons & Dragons (et al) in that they are exclusively built for a purpose. Guardians, spies, couriers, and mindless automata built and animated by craftsmen and mages to serve their private needs, or on the behest of influential patrons.
Each of the constructs presented below is presented without statistics so that you can modify a basic creature such as an ape, a knight, or an elephant (for example, whatever’s good) and apply some unique abilities to it. For more advice on modifying creatures. take a look here. CR refers to the creature’s Challenge Rating.
In deeper forests where dark practitioners gather far from prying eyes, large swathes of land may be held by covens of witches, territories far larger than they could ever monitor alone. Among the trees may stalk lithe figures of woven reeds and flexible branches, humanoid but unmistakably artificial by the gaps in the hollow structure, and the clay face with a single painted eye. A creature so lucky as to topple the wandering guardian will find that several jars are woven into the structure, containing unpleasant ingredients essential to its animation, dried hearts, mummified animals, and worse by far.
Create a simple but dexterous creature such as a wolf or a scout, if it is of CR 2 or higher it should have multi-attack or magic resistance (advantage on saving throws), and if it is CR 4 or higher it should have both. Anything the Wicker Witch sees, the witch that created it also sees, so long as both creatures are on the same plane of existence. A Wicker Witch might use weapons such as whips or longbows, but otherwise would have claws similar to a creature of the same CR. You can add one or more of the following abilities for flavour:
Breath Weapon: (recommended CR 4 or higher) The Wicker Witch has a breath weapon that deals very little piercing damage for it’s CR (e.g. 1d8 for a CR 4 creature, 2d8 for a CR 7 creature) and the space becomes a cloud of stinging, biting insects. The effect functions as the Insect Plague spell, occupying the space of the breath weapon. It can use this ability once per day.
Shrill Fluting: Concentration checks made within 60 ft. of the Wicker Witch have disadvantage.
Witchsight: The Wicker Witch permanently detects magic as if by the Detect Magic spell. It can also identify any creature with spell slots such as a wizard or cleric, but cannot determine creatures with innate spellcasting, such as a tiefling’s natural ability to use Thaumaturgy.
Woodmerge: The Wicker Witch can move as if via the spell Tree Stride.
Sitting at the front of the cart is a thing that looks like a man, dressed in an excessive amount of cheap but colourful silks, complete with a large floppy hat that does not quite disguise the face below, a face painted onto a bright blue cylinder of ceramic. As it pulls up along the side of the road next to you, two more identical things unfold themselves from the top of the cart, as a smiling woman appears from inside. The smiling men begin setting up a table, and pulling bottles and trinkets from among their many loose coverings as the woman introduces herself and her wares for sale.
A Smiling Man is not the puppet it seems. They are often encountered aiding merchants, as their strength makes them superb bodyguards, and they contain a hidden pocket dimension capable of storing many items quickly and easily. Often they serve more powerful beings as spies and emissaries, and a particularly interesting creature who encounters a Smiling Man may find that they see one watching them more and more frequently over time, usually at a distance, and in the dark.
To your base creature add the equivalent of a Handy Haversack, and the ability to use the spell Sequester. A Smiling Man is also more likely to have many arms and weapons folded into it’s “disguise”, so a creature with multiattack is highly recommended. It also has one or more of the following abilities:
Nightmare Visage: The Smiling Man marks a creature that can see it. Whenever that creature casts a divination spell of 1st level or higher they must succeed on a wisdom saving throw (of appropriate DC) or the spell fails, and they see the face of the Smiling Man instead. The effect lasts until the Smiling Man ends it, marks a new target with its Nightmare Visage, or dies. A spell effect such as Remove Curse can also end the effect early.
Unfolding Space: Attempts to teleport within 120ft of a Smiling Man provoke an opportunity attack from it as if the creature were within reach.
The Immovable Steed
A horse made of purest platinum, resplendent and beautiful, if a little cold to sit on. The Immovable Steed was supposedly forged by the gods, or back in the day when mortals wielded the gods own magic, the horse can only be gifted by a previous owner to a new rider, such riders include ancient paladins who passed on the Steed from the afterlife, Moradin, and Lor Adanos.
The Immovable Steed functions as a warhorse, except that it is immune to damage from non-magical weapons, and has resistance to all other damage except psychic and acid. As an action the Steed may choose to become Immovable. It cannot move while it remains Immovable, nor can it be forced to move by any means, magical or otherwise, including teleportation or transportation to other planes of existence. If it was falling it stops where it currently is, if it was being transported it halts in space while the transport continues to move around it. The Steed can support up to 40,000 lbs of weight while immovable.
I’m not getting tired of these, and I have some work I need to prepare for an upcoming campaign, so next week:
A list of spells and a wizard subclass for a wizard drawing from the divine realm of Bytopia, the twin paradises.
Three subraces of halflings, be warned, they have a particularly grim theme.
And a complex quest, something requiring many tasks to be performed to complete.
Not all ruins are created equal, from fallen towers to crumbling keeps, haunted, twisted, and occupied by whatever monstrous squatters are passing, but they’re all bait for any adventurer fool enough to believe that just because the walls have fallen doesn’t mean the traps stopped working. Ruins are a staple dungeon for and D&D game, but where some are simply old castles long ago abandoned, some have a far deeper history for those willing to dig a little deeper. (more…)
There are so many more interesting ways to charge into battle than on the back of a horse… or at least in a fantasy setting there are a lot more choices, gigantic riding lizards are no longer available and we are running out of most of the other interesting large animals (seriously we need to do something, we are running out of cool animals to ride into battle). Horses and dire wolves are the classics and perhaps the most sensible options, but there are other, stranger possibilities.
Here are ten different mounts with stories to go with them, individual mounts with personal tales to tell, factions with hallmark choices of warbeasts, and one magic tree. (more…)
Hoooo doesn’t love owlbears? They’re fuzzy balls of fluff topped with the best spiky bits from nature, but how to best use them without just dumping them into a random forest encounter? This week’s Dungeon Situational I offer up a few different ways to use these adorable hybrid beasties that may give you some ideas of your own… (more…)
A mad month of events is almost over for me, so this should be the last late article for a little while… should be.
Within every nation, powerful factions rise to serve a singular purpose. Military, academic, economic, and philosophical affiliations cause people to draw together, to organise, and to work together in pursuit of a common goal. Where adventurers are concerned, a faction can be a powerful ally, or a dangerous enemy, and the line between the two can be a delicate one, and each step in favour of one can lead powerful individuals away from another. (more…)