Creatures of immense size and power, a Basilisk has become synonymous with power, cunning and intimidation. Whatever serpentine thoughts these slithering snakes have, you know their gaze will be captivating. No matter what you think of them, they’ve been in pop culture for ages, as well as ancient texts. Fear not, for today we’re going to uncover the Top 10 Basilisks in pop culture.
Today’s article is late, that is a fact. Which is not to say that I’m sat staring at a blank page in desperation trying to reach a deadline, no I’m being quite productive. Folder after folder is filling up with 5e character sheets ready for this Summer’s Insomnia, at which I will again play ten games in four days, and as each session is only two hours long, better to get the character sheets ready than to have people prepare their characters at the table.
With such efforts comes practice, and better yet comes an abundance of other characters from which I can copy and paste important content like class features that require a certain amount of abridging to be made palatable to new players who might be daunted by enormous blocks of text. It’s now very little effort to actually fill in the basics, but with that comes a freedom to get experimental, and at I65, I’ll be bringing a few experiments, because we’re playing a few Plane Shift games. And so as not to give away too much, I’ll only be introducing you to one team…
Khef Crop: Amonkhet
Welcome one and all to the trial of strength! Pulling a few rules from the guidelines set out in Plane Shift: Amonkhet article, the group will step into the sandals of the surviving members of Khef Crop, each bearing the cartouches of both the trials of solidarity and knowledge, now they fight their way along the Luxa river, the mighty god Rhonas looming nearby as a beatific tutor and pitiless judge. For these heroes, there is only one class, Initiate, but in each case I have multiclassed like mad and modified a hell of a lot. I’ve also been going by a slightly more old-school approach to character creation, rolling stats in order having already decided on the race. Here are some of the characters I’ve come up with…
The Naga: A mixture of the cleric of strength and a worshipper of Rhonas himself, and a fighter battle-master. The character has spells to lend a degree of utility outside of combat, much of which is healing but still potentially useful, and I added the maneuvre Sidewind, which allows the Naga to make a heavy hitting attack and immediately disengage from combat, allowing him or her to evade the worst of retaliation, or perhaps land somewhere to threaten someone new. The cleric elements reflect the Naga’s ability to overcome the trials that came before, but here is where he or she is most desperate to shine.
The Devotee: Revering the God Pharaoh first and foremost (hey, it’s not their fault he’s a manipulative dragon planeswalker), and borrowing some inspiration from these warlock invocations that I absolutely adore, this character uses the one listed as Blades of Demogorgon and makes it Horns of the God Pharaoh. I also added Torment of Scarabs because this pdf doesn’t have invocations for Xanathar’s Guide to Everything cantrips, this makes Infestation a concentration spell that consumes your bonus action to maintain. The Devotee has a little bit of rogue in them to add greater potency to their weapon attacks, and lend a bit of evasiveness to the famous glass-cannon.
The Khenra: Khenra come in pairs, it is very rare for the jackal-headed folk to be born as anything other than twins, so hey, let’s stay in-lore shall we? Both are a classic blend of barbarian and fighter, and I added an element of an Amonkhet card I liked and threw in some mechanics I knew would work. Consuming Fervour (fervor in the American spelling) steals a little from the Scourge Aasimar, upping the damage of the barbarian Rage, and taking some extra damage back in kind. Well that’s fine, right? You can just end the Rage whenever? Well not if you’ve got a mean spirited DM who decided to make it impossible to end a rage unless your doused in water.
I might change one of these two subtly, possibly lending a complimentary variation of Rage, or perhaps shifting the balance of classes more in favour of fighter than barbarian… TBD.
The Aven: The Aven might end up as the only pure-class character in the crop, but lately I have been making a lot of wizard subclasses, so expect some homebrew materials no matter what. Having an Aven in the Crop makes my designs a lot more three-dimensional, so there should be a few options to make other people fly in there as well so that everyone can enjoy.
And that makes five… leaving one more. So far I have characters reflecting four colours, leaving only white to go…
Well I have to leave something a surprise for the day. And I still have two more planes to work on.
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…)
And thus the universe was doomed, for finally the dregs from Dimension 9 hath cometh. Or something like that, because today we’re going to be checking out our Top 10 Different Dimensions. To qualify as a dimension, the places simply have to be another plane of existence, meaning that it can literally be the exact same places as the real world, but so long as there’s an alternate group of people living there (even evil selves count). Sound good? Let’s go.
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…)
Squids! Octopi! Aliens! What do all of these things have in common? That’s right, tentacles. Okay, aliens maybe not always, but the rest are definitely tentacled. Whether or not you’re going to have a biological tentacle, or a mechanical one, these appendages are long, limber and part of many people’s fantasies. You know what I’m talking about. Anyway, here’s our Top 10 Tentacled Beings.
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…)