Jeff’s “Twenty Questions”

I can’t believe that I never posted a link to this.

Twenty Quick Questions For Your Campaign Setting

TTFN!

D.

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Tools and Instruments of the Wizard (5e)

Humans wizards and those trained by them or in their traditions, have developed a selection of tools and instruments that even beginning wizards start their careers with. This includes Sorcerers and Warlocks, as well as Eldritch Knights and Arcane Tricksters – though only Wizards use Grimoires and Codices or gain any benefit from the spells contained within. Their training represents quite an investment of time and energy on the part of their Master, and the world at large is often even more hostile to wizards than it is to other adventurers. As a result, part of the training of a Wizard involves the creation or attunement to their Foci. This investment has the unfortunate effect that any opponent who holds a Wizard’s Wand, Kris, or Staff (or Orb or Wizard Blade) gains Advantage against that Wizard’s spells and other magical effects. Any Wizard who has their Wand, Kris, or Staff broken or destroyed suffers 1d4 Psychic damage per level – these items have an AC of the appropriate material, Hit Points equal to 2x the Wizard’s level, a Damage Threshold equal to the Wizard’s level, and Resistance to non-magical weapons.

The Wizard’s Grimoire – All Wizards maintain a Grimoire in which they record their spells and other arcane formula. In appearance it can vary immensely, from a collection of loose papers and scrolls to the most impressive of tomes, bound in dragonskin and with black adamant bindings. Learning a new spell and transcribing it into a Grimoire takes two hours and 50sp per level of the spell, copying a spell you already know into a new Grimoire only takes 1 hour and 10sp per level of the spell. A standard Grimoire has roughly 100 pages, and each spell take up one page per level of the spell.

The Wizard’s Codex – These are the basic instructional manuals of magic, with a selection of easy to understand and basic spells of varying levels depending upon the Codex itself. The spells and other arcane secrets contained within them reveal the beliefs and attitudes of the creator about the proper development or practices of a wizard at the various levels. There are numerous examples of a Codex, from the ponderous and ubiquitous, ten-volume Codex Magic, to the Sefer Ratziel of the Church of the Lords of Light, or even the classic Book of Seven penned by the great mage Dulain. A wizard always begins play with a basic Codex as determined by the DM.

The Wizard’s Wand – The Wizard’s Wand is their primary arcane focus (Components are a backup). It can have a variety of appearances, from a simple wooden implement to an ornate creation of adamant and diamond to a solidified creation of elemental fire. In any case, a Wand as an Arcane Focus replaces the need for Components and the possession of one invariably marks the bearer as a Wizard.

The Wizard’s Kris – A wizard’s kris are two double-edged daggers, they could be bodice knives, they could be fighting knives, the style depends upon the wizard in question. There is a white-handled kris and a black-handled kris, the white is for physical and mundane threats, the black is for spiritual and magical threats. They can be used for offense and defense, in combat or otherwise. Each are specifically enchanted against those threats (the white is treated as Coldsilver Enchanted Blade, the black grants the wizard the effects of a Protection vs Good & Evil spell while drawn and held). A Kris is also an Arcane Focus, and can substitute for a Wand if need be. It is quite common for wizards to layer enchantments upon their Kris, increasing them in potency as they advance in level – it also common for a wizard to replace them over the years with more substantial creations.

The Wizard’s Staff – The Wizard’s Staff is, in some ways, their most puissant instrument aside from their spells themselves. It combines the abilities of the Wand to aid in the casting of spells and those of the Kris to protect the mage and act as a weapon. This potency and utility comes with a price however, a wizard who has created a Wizard’s Staff but does not hold it or another Arcane Focus (other than Components) has Disadvantage when casting spells and saving against magic. The benefits:

  • Allows use of the Light Cantrip.
  • Treated as a+1 weapon per five full levels of the Wizard class.
  • Provides an AC bonus equal to half the Proficiency Bonus of the Wizard.
  • Can hold Concentration for one spell cast by the Wizard.
  • The Wizard gains one additional Spell Slot for each Spell Level.
  • The Staff may be summoned to the Wizard’s hand if the Wizard is 9th Level or greater.
  • The Wizard always knows where their staff is located.

The Wizard’s Orb – Similar to the Staff, the Wizard’s Orb is a puissant magical instrument in its own right. It functions quite similarly to a Staff, and has the same potential problem. A wizard who has created a Wizard’s Orb but does not hold it or another Arcane Focus (other than Components) has Disadvantage when casting spells and saving against magic. The benefits are as follows:

  • Allows use of the Light Cantrip.
  • Act’s as a Crystal Ball.
  • Can hold Concentration for one spell cast by the Wizard.
  • The Wizard gains one additional Spell Slot for each Spell Level.
  • The Orb may be summoned to the Wizard’s hand if the Wizard is 9th Level or greater.
  • The Wizard always knows where their Orb is located.
  • Is always controlled as if under the effects of a Mage Hand cantrip.

A Wizard Blade – A rarer instrument, a Wizard Blade is a combination of a Wand, Kris, and Staff, usually in the form of a Shortsword or Longsword. Much like a Staff or Orb a wizard who has created a Wizard Blade but does not hold it or another Arcane Focus (other than Components) has Disadvantage when casting spells and saving against magic. The benefits of using a Wizard Blade are the following:

  • Allows use of the True Strike Cantrip.
  • Always treated, at a minimum, as a Coldsilver, Enchanted Weapon.
  • Treated as a+1 weapon per five full levels of the Wizard class.
  • Does additional Force Damage equal to the Proficiency Bonus of the Wizard
  • Can hold Concentration for one spell cast by the Wizard.
  • The Wizard gains one additional Spell Slot for each Spell Level.
  • The Wizard Blade may be summoned to the Wizard’s hand if the Wizard is 9th Level or greater.
  • The Wizard always knows where their Wizard Blade is located.

A Wizard’s Aegis – A term for a somewhat ubiquitous magical item that has protective and occasionally offensive properties. The most basic forms consist of a broad gorget, commonly made of precious metals in a serpent- or dragon-scale pattern or motiff with a stylized representation of some fearsome, supernatural beast on the front. More advanced forms of the Aegis also include a cuirass of shining, metallic scales that cover the chest and upper arms of the wearer (AC11). Occasionally an Aegis includes a matching ephaptis (fighting cloak) made of a similar leathery and metallic scales (AC12) that can be used by Wizard.

  • The Wizard is under the Effects of Blade Ward Cantrip at all times.
  • The Wizard has Resistance to Force damage.
  • Provides a bonus to AC equal to +1 per five full levels of the Wizard class.
  • The Wizard has Advantage on saves versus Spells and Magical Effects.
  • The Wizard may use a Hellish Rebuke, but the damage is Psychic and the Save is Wisdom.
  • The Wizard may cast Fear once, with 15’ radius Area, usable again after a Short Rest.

A Wizard’s Wand, both Kris, and Staff must be Attuned items. The same is true for Orbs, Wizard Blades, and Wizard Aegis or any other similar or related item.

Elves do not use or create Wands, either not needing them or preferring to use a piece of jewelry as an Arcane Focus. Their Wizards have Longknives that operate as both Kris combined, and while some use Staves, others (especially their Eldritch Knights) have a sword or occasionally a spear that functions as a Wizard Blade. Instead of Grimoires they use Crystals that record the formula.

Sh’dai do use and create Wands but invariably create and use Wizard Blades rather Staves early in their career. Their most powerful Wizards often craft a full complement of instruments and tools, unlike human wizards which often omit a Wizard Blade. Rather than Kris, they create a dark weapon known as a Fellblade that functions as both Kris combined.

Dragonborn have a long history of Arcane study, and live and breath Arcane energies as part of their essential nature. As a result of this, both Sorcerer and Monk levels count for purposes of determining the power of their Staff (and these are commonly used). They use a peculiar tri-bladed form of Kris that are otherwise identical in function (though they are also known to make them in a Shortsword format), and as noted in their description they have no need for an Arcane Focus so they rarely if ever make or use Wands. The Dragonborn record their spells in a variety of idiosyncratic methods (scrolls and tomes, flame sculptures, wind chimes and mobiles, etc), making it difficult to make any statement about Grimoires in specific.

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When Mage Armor and Shield simply isn’t enough… (5e)

These are two of the more ubiquitous spells for Wizards, found in many codices and grimoires across the Mortal Realm. Even if not found within a wizard’s current codex, they are often among the first researched, begged, borrowed, or stolen as they advance in level.


Journeyman’s Hauberk

3rd-Level Abjuration (Ritual)

  • Casting Time: 5 Minutes
  • Range: Self
  • Components: VSM (100sp of Diamond Dust))
  • Duration: 7 Days

Perhaps one of the most ubiquitous of spells for the adventuring mage, Journeyman’s Hauberk sits firmly between spells like Mage Armor and Shield, and Mantle or Master’s Lorica as a standby of personal protection and utility. The spell has the following properties:

  • Grants a benefit of +4 to Armor Class
  • Provides a phantom 15 Hit Points, that absorbs or ablates damage.
    • If these Phantom Hit Points run out, the spell is dispelled.
  • The bearer of the spell benefits from a Protection from Evil enchantment
  • Absorbs Force damage
    • This damage “recharges” the phantom hit points granted by the armour at a 2:1 ratio.
  • The bearer of the spell has Advantage to all Saving Throws
  • Allows the bearer of the spell to Detect Magic by touch
  • Allows the bearer of the spell to Detect Illusion by touch

This spell is notable in that it requires a rather unique and unalterable material component that is perhaps its sole restriction on use by many mages, and that is 100sp worth of Diamond Dust is needed for each casting. The spell itself produces no visible effect (unlike, say, Phantom Armour) but it’s effects can clearly be seen or perceived by others when they come into play.  No other spells of a similar nature (Mage Armor, Protection from Energy, etc) can be used while this spell is in effect. The spell cannot be Dispelled, nor is it removed by Globes of Invulnerability, and is generally only able to be removed by actual anti-magical effects.

At Higher Levels: When the spell is cast using a spell slot of 4th level of higher it last for an additional day and has an additional 5 phantom hit points, for each spell slot above 3rd that is used.


Master’s Lorica

6th-Level Abjuration (Ritual)

  • Casting Time: 5 Minutes
  • Range: Self
  • Components: VSM (100sp worth each of Diamond, Sapphire, Emerald, and Amethyst Dust)
  • Duration: 7 Days

An advancement and a refinement of the Journeyman’s Hauberk spell, Master’s Lorica as a standby of personal protection and utility, for Master-class mages. It is often considered a far more useful spell than Mantle given it’s simplicity and blanket protections. The spell has the following properties:

  • Grants a benefit of +7 to Armor Class
    • The bearer is also Immune to non-Enchanted weapons.
    • The bearer has Resistance to Slashing, Piercing, & Bludgeoning Damage
  • Provides a phantom 30 Hit Points, that absorbs or ablates damage.
    • If these Phantom Hit Points run out, the spell is dispelled.
    • The bearer may spend 1d4 of these phantom Hit Points to Dispel Magic on single enchantment by touch
  • The bearer of the spell benefits from a Protection from Evil enchantment
  • Absorbs Force damage.
    • This damage “recharges” the phantom hit points granted by the armour at a 2:1 ratio.
  • The bearer of the spell has Resistance to Fire, Cold, Thunder, and Lightning.
  • The bearer of the spell has Advantage to all Saving Throws
  • Allows the bearer of the spell to Detect Magic by touch
  • Allows the bearer of the spell to Detect Illusion by touch

Much like Journeyman’s Hauberk, the Master’s Lorica requires unalterable material components that is perhaps the sole restriction on use by many mages, and that is 100sp worth each of Diamond, Sapphire, Emerald, and Amethyst Dust is needed for each casting. The spell itself produces no visible effect (unlike, say, Phantom Armour) but it’s effects can clearly be seen or perceived by others when they come into play. No other spells of a similar nature (Mage Armor, Protection from Energy, etc) can be used while this spell is in effect. The spell cannot be Dispelled, nor is it removed by Globes of Invulnerability, and is generally only able to be removed by actual anti-magical effects.

At Higher Levels: When the spell is cast using a spell slot of 7th level of higher it last for an additional week and has an additional 10 phantom hit points, for each spell slot above 6th that is used.

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Spells of the Cherev Enoch (5e)

Blaze

1st Level Evocation

  • Casting Time: 1 Action
  • Range: None
  • Components: VS
  • Duration: Special

With this spell the mage raises a hand and invokes the Lords of Light, bringing forth a blazing white light that blinds all creatures (including the caster) for 1d6 rounds (Dexterity save for none, caster with Advantage). The spell also does 2d6 points of Radiant damage, to all undead and evil spirits within the area of effect, Constitution save for half damage. The light, not blinding or damaging, lingers for one round per three levels of the caster, slowly fading as it expires. If the caster is not an Initiate of the Society of Light then creatures have Advantage on their Saves.

At Higher Levels: When the spell is cast using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 damage for each slot level above 1st.

It is commonly found in the Cherev Enoch.


 

Blade of Light

2nd Level Conjuration

  • Casting Time: 1 Action
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: VSM
  • Duration: 2 Strikes or 4 Rounds, whichever comes first.

This spell is cast upon the caster’s sword or dagger (commonly the mage’s kris) and increases the base damage by 1d10 Radiant Damage, Constitution save for half the entire damage rolled. The weapon is considered Enchanted for the duration of the spell. Undead and evil spirits have Disadvantage on their save. In the event that this spell is cast without the material component (the sword or dagger) the duration is halved. If the caster is not an Initiate of the Society of Light then the weapon used is destroyed when the spell ends.

At Higher Levels: When the spell is cast using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d10 damage, an additional strike is allowed, and the potential duration is extended for two round, for each slot level above 2nd.

It is commonly found in the Cherev Enoch.


Spiritual Blade 

5th-Level Evocation

  • Casting Time: 1 Action
  • Range: 30′
  • Components: VSM
  • Duration: Special

This spell is similar in effect to the Priests Spiritual Weapon spell, but it is significantly more versatile and powerful. The mage may choose one of four effects when casting the spell:

  1. The caster selects a single target within range. The spell lasts for five rounds, and is able to strike once per round (as the caster), for 1d8 Force damage, plus Spellcasting Modifier.
  2. The caster selects five targets within range. The spell is instantaneous, and each target is struck once, as above.
  3. The caster selects a single target within range. The spell is instantaneous, and strikes a single time, as above, save the damage is 5d8 Force Damage
  4. The caster casts the spell upon an actual sword that they then wield, this sword is then considered Enchanted, does an additional +1d8 Force damage per strike, and the spell lasts either five rounds or five strikes, whichever comes first.

At Higher Levels: When the spell is cast using a spell slot of 6th level or higher it has the following effects depending on the version of the spell chosen to cast.

  1. The spell lasts for an additional round for each spell slot above 5th that is used.
  2. An additional target may be chosen for each spell slot above 5th that is used.
  3. The spell does an additional 1d8 Force damage for each spell slot above 5th that is used
  4. The spell does an additional 1d8 Force damage, gains an additional strike, and the potential duration is extended one round, for each spell slot above 5th that is used.

This spell is a favorite of mages who belong to the Society of Light, being found in the Cherev Enoch, though the Grey Elves have their own version as well that supplements their puissant combat magics. It should be noted that the spell is not unique to the Society or the Grey Elves.


Sword of Light

7th Level Conjuration

  • Casting Time: 1 Action
  • Range: Touch
  • Components: VSM
  • Duration: 6 Strikes or 12 Rounds, whichever comes first.

This spell is cast upon the caster’s sword or dagger (commonly the mage’s kris) and increases the base damage by 6d10 Radiant damage, Constitution save for half the entire damage rolled. The weapon is considered Enchanted for the duration of the spell. Undead and evil spirits have Disadvantage on their save, and creatures struck are also subject to Banishment as the 4th level Mage spell. In the event that this spell is cast without the material component (the sword or dagger) the duration is halved. If the caster is not an Initiate of the Society of Light then the weapon used is destroyed when the spell ends and the targets have Advantage on their saves against the effects.

At Higher Levels: When the spell is cast using a spell slot of 8th level or higher, the damage increases by 1d10 damage, an additional strike is allowed, and the potential duration is extended two rounds, for each slot level above 7th

It is commonly found in the Cherev Enoch.

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Sefer Ratziel and the Cherev Enoch (5e Codices)

Continuing in the vein of the Codex Magica, these are the two most common tomes for those mages from the Society of Light and who study within that tradition:

The Sefer Ratziel: Also known as “The Book of the Lord Sc. Ratziel”  this codex is reputed to be the transcribed words of the Lord Sc. Ratziel, Archangel of the Supreme Mysteries and Preceptor of Enoch. It is considered the most basic and at the same time most complete book on magic that is used within the Society of Light. Comprised of seven tractates, the book covers a series of basic instructions on not just magic, but the nature of the Heaven and the organization of the Host, and a variety of other esoteric subjects. Most commonly found as series of scrolls, there are printed versions in books that are often organized differently. (Cost – Special)

  • Cantrips: Light
  • 1st Level Spells: Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic, Find Familiar, Protection from Evil & Good
  • 2nd Level Spells: Arcane Lock, Continual Flame, Darkvision, Gentle Repose
  • 3rd Level Spells: Counterspell, Dispel Magic, Magic Circle, Remove Curse
  • 4th Level Spells: Arcane Eye, Banishment
  • 5th Level Spells: Contact Other Plane, Planar Binding
  • 6th Level Spells: Sunbeam, True Seeing
  • 7th Level Spells: Project Image, Symbol

The Cherev Enoch: Also known as the “Sword of Enoch” this is a small but dense text that is available to those mages of the Society of Light that also act as the warriors of the Light (as opposed to more cloistered mages). It is not considered a replacement for but rather a supplement to the Sefer Ratziel. Terse in text, the Cherev Enoch is focused on incantations of personal offense and defense, and almost bereft of the sort of spiritual and ethical guidance that is contained within the Sefer Ratziel, as such it is only granted to those members of the Society who are deemed to be suitable for its teachings.  (Cost – Special)

  • 1st Level Spells: Mage Armor, Shield, Blaze
  • 2nd Level Spells: Magic Weapon
  • 3rd Level Spells: Journeyman’s Hauberk
  • 4th Level Spells: Blade of Light
  • 5th Level Spells: Spiritual Blade
  • 6th Level Spells: Master’s Lorica
  • 7th Level Spells: Sword of Light

The tomes of the Society of Light are written in complex coded allegory, itself in a mixture of Enochian and both Istarian and Kistathian depending upon the source. As such they also depend upon the mystical and occult revelations that come from advancement in the Society of Light to truly understand. Mages cannot gain the access to the spell formula until they would normally be able to cast it, and deciphering the tomes takes double the time as it normally would. For mages who are not members of the Society of Light they must be able to cast the next spell level (so if attempting to learn a 3rd rank spell they would need to be 7th level rather than 5th) and the time needed to decipher the tomes is doubled again.

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Codex Magica – Volumes I-X (5e Codex)

One of the most wide-spread of the basic tomes of magic, many mages since the times of the Wars of Binding have their first introduction to the basic principles of magic in this ponderous, weighty tome written in a combination of Istarian and the True Speech – often sprinkled with words, phrases, and sections in other languages as well. The tome is divided into sections covering each of the schools of magic, as well as the various magical effects along with explanations of the various instruments and tools associated with the magical arts. There are ten volumes in the series, each covering one rank of spell, with the tenth discussing lost arts and mighty magics from the past like the Great Veil. It is most common in the Heartlands and Kistath, though some groups have their own preferred instruction tomes such as the Sepher Ratziel and related tomes for the Society of Light, or the older Book of Seven that was much in use before the Codex Magica was penned and is preferred by some traditionalists despite the archaic style of the text.

“Volume I: Magic of the First Rank” Contains the following spells: Alarm, Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic, Erase, Find Familiar, Identify. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 1st Rank if used as part of spell research. Cost: 300sp

There is a relatively common printing of Volume I, the Triple Horn edition, that includes a basic Bestiary and Index that grants Advantage when attempting to identify fantastic creatures (using a basic Intelligence, Survival, or Perception check). While it does no more than give a name and type, but often that is enough to jog the memory, and allow a further check for Arcana, History, or Nature knowledge related to the creature in question. Cost: 1000sp

“Volume II: Magic of the Second Rank” Contains the following spells: Arcane Lock, Detect Illusion, Detect Thoughts, Knock, Magic Weapon, Nystul’s Magic Aura. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 1st or 2nd Rank if used as part of spell research. Cost: 600sp

Various editions of this Volume II include an “Enchanters Appendix” which discusses the creation and use of D’lanni Stones. Using this volume grants Advantage when examining or attempting to identify D’lanni Stones and their contents. It also covers the creation of Coldsilver and Truesteel. Cost : 1500sp

“Volume III: Magic of the Third Rank” Contains the following spells: Counterspell, Dispel Magic, Glyph of Warding, Magic Circle, Remove Curse, Sending. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 3rd Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. Cost: 900sp

The very rare and obscure Oriflamme edition, which dates back to the Wars of Binding, includes instructions and formula for creating very basic Wands and Kris with very basic materials. These are far from polished, and casters using them incur Disadvantage – but they are at least able to cast spells! Cost: 2000sp

“Volume IV: Magic of the Fourth Rank” Contains the following spells: Arcane Eye, Leomund’s Secret Chest, Mark of Ownership, Mordenkainen’s Private Sanctum, Polymorph. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 4th Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. Cost: 1200sp

There is a rare edition of Volume IV, the “Red Dragon Binding” that includes an in-depth appendix regarding the creation of Alchemical Powders, Draughts, and Salves, as well as normal Alchemical Preparations, in addition to the normal contents. This volume also grants Advantage to the Arcana Skill if used to attempt to identify such alchemical items, as well as Potions, Elixirs, Dusts, and the like. Cost: 2500sp (All volumes of this edition generally sell for half again the normal price)

“Volume V: Magic of the Fifth Rank” Contains the following spells: Arcane Retribution, Contact Other Plane, Legend Lore, Scrying, Teleportation Circle. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 5th Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. Cost: 1,500sp

“Volume VI: Magic of the Sixth Rank” Contains the following spells: Arcane Gate, Contingency, Globe of Invulnerability, True Seeing. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 6th Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. Cost: 2,000sp

Some obscure copies of the Volume VI dating back to the Cult Wars include the spell Spiritbreaker as well. These are known as the Black Tear printings due to their unique binder’s mark. Cost: 5,000sp

“Volume VII: Magic of the Seventh Rank” Contains the following spells: Etherealness, Interdiction, Symbol, Teleport. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 7th Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. Cost: 2,500sp

“Volume VIII: Magic of the Eight Rank” Contains the following spells: Antimagic Field, Demiplane, Mind Blank, Zone of Metamagic Minimization. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 8th Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. Cost: 3,000sp

Rarely found but highly valued, there is a stand-alone appendix to Volume VIII that was part of the Grey Temple edition that is known simply as the “Artificer’s Appendix”. It is focused on the creation of magical artifacts and the filled with examples, lessons, and diagrams of how such matters should be handled – as well as including the spell Glass Into Iron. Cost: 10,000sp (Other volumes of this edition generally sell for double the normal price)

Magical Items Covered: +1 Weapons and Armor, Arcane Seal, Blastbracer, Blastbroach, Blastrod, Cloak of Protection, Cloak of Shadows, Driftglobe, Gauntlets of Ogre Power, Gem of Brightness, Headband of Intellect, Lantern of Revealing, Necklace of Adaptation, Ring of Mind Shielding, Ring of Protection, Rope of Climbing, Rune of Warning, Scarab of Protection, Sending Stones.

It is important to note that there is a very poor copy with flawed spell copies that can never be successfully learned (but do not impact the ability to learn them if studied elsewhere. It is a Very Difficult Arcane Lore check to tell the difference.

“Volume IX: Magic of the Ninth Rank” Contains the following spells: Arcane Censure, Astral Projection, Foresight, Gate. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 9th Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. This volume also grants Advantage to Arcana, History, and Religion skill checks as related to Angels (both the Host and the Fallen), Demons and Dearthlords, the Lords of the Maelstrom, and the Delian Council. Cost: 4,000sp

“Volume X: Magic of the Tenth Rank” This volume contains no spells, but possession and use grants Advantage for Arcana checks in general. It also adds a +5% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells if used as part of spell research. Cost: 5,000sp

Note: Having and using the entire ten-volume set grants Expertise (double proficiency bonus) to Arcana in addition to any other benefits that the individual volumes might bring. In general, using tomes in this manner increases the time increment by one for each tome used. So if the time needed for an Arcana check regarding Angels was ten minutes, then if the use of Volume IX (to gain Advantage) would increase this to 20 minutes, while if the entire ten-volume set was used to gain Expertise then the time spent would be 120 minutes – and gaining both Advantage and Expertise in this example.

Some of these spells are found in the Necromancer Games tome, the Book of Lost Spells (is available at https://www.froggodgames.com/book-lost-spells). Those spells are as follows: Arcane Censure (9th Level), Arcane Retribution (5th Level), Detect Illusion (2nd Level), Erase (1st Level), Interdiction (7th Level), Mark of Ownership (4th Level) Spiritbreaker (6th Level), Zone of Metamagic Minimization (8th)

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Factions for my Game World

So, one of the “hidden pillars” of 5e is that the characters are all supposed to be recruited by various and sundry factions – the particular ones dependent upon their class, alignment, and general attitude. Now, for the Forgotten Realms this means the obvious ones – the Harpers, the Zhentarim, etc. Some of these are open organizations, others are secret societies, some are in-between. These factions are not, to be clear, specifically professional guilds – they are more all-encompassing than that.

Basically, as the characters gain renown, they have the opportunity to rise in rank within these organizations, gaining more influence and resources as they go. The “standard model” has five ranks, staring with zero renown, topping out at around fifty renown – with some level minimums, and some requirement for specific “faction missions” as well. There is even the suggestion or the possibility that individuals could belong to two or more factions. The whole thing reminds me of the Luminous Order and the Ebon Cabal from Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde which I actually started to use a couple of campaigns back with Keep on the Borderlands.

Now, the interesting part to this is that I’ve always had these sorts of organizations in my campaign world – but also often made up of multiple smaller organizations in an often confusing mess until enough rank was gained to get “the big picture”. Now, we’re also in a very different era than my previous games, but I think that it’s time to detail out a series of these factions so that I can start including this aspect of play. The party is headed to “big (little) city” and is certainly ripe for recruitment.

The Circle is an old organization that has had many lives and has strong ties to the Old Faith, the Elven Court, and the Heptarchy. They are currently focused on thwarting the machinations of groups like the Horned Society and tyrants both petty and great that rules through fear and intimidation as well as nurturing the beauty in various and sundry forms – natural as well as created. They are headquartered in Silverveil but maintain small cells and individual agents across the Heartlands and beyond.

The Cartel is focused on the financial prosperity of it’s members as well as the overall flow of trade across the Heartlands. It is a loose but ruthless conglomeration of the various Merchant Houses (large and small) and maintains it’s own network of banks that operate both in competition and cooperation with the Dwimmervolk.

The Wardens draw their inspiration from their namesake organization from Old Albion. They are a martial organization, dedicated to fighting against goblins, trolls, giants and other threats to the civilized lands of the Heartlands. They are just as equally dedicated to protecting common people from the ravengers of the Blight, the slavers of the Shadowlands, and banditry and lawlessness in general.

The Quiet Council is a loose alliance of rulers from the Heartlands who work to insure safety and prosperity for each other and the common people. They do this quietly, from behind the scenes, believing that a soft word in the right ear accomplishes more than shouts made in anger. While they see the greatest threats to peace and prosperity often coming from outside the Heartlands, they are not ignorant of the dangers that already exist within it’s boundaries.

The Society of Light is commonly thought to be synonymous with the Church of the Lords of Light, but it actually covers the whole of creatures that serve Powers that stand for justice, beauty, and freedom. They are an open and often martial order for the most part, though they have those who “quietly cultivate light in the darkest of places” as well. They are found through not just the Heartlands but the entirety of the Mortal Realms and are respected or reviled as the witness is wont to be.

Smaller, more focused Factions

The Black Watch is the eyes, ears, and often hands of the both the High Lord of the Shadowlands and the Ebon Council when He is not present. Ultimately concerned with the War Without End against the Dearth, they are often willing to investigate rumors and rumors of rumors in the effort to insure victory. Headquartered in the Great City of Harrow, guarding the Vault of Tears, they have a well-earned reputation for ruthlessness and a willingness to associate with all sorts of unsavory (by the standards of the Heartlands) individuals and groups.

The Imperial Eye is the intelligence service of the High King of Aquitaine in Navarre. It is a small organization, but focused on the safety of both the High King and Aquitaine as a whole. They maintain spies and agents across the Heartlands, focusing primarily on the Northern Heartlands, who engage in both spying as well as more direct action (sabotage, blackmail, theft, assassination, etc.)

The Horned Society is nominally made up of individuals who serve the Fallen, knowingly or unknowingly. Rarely are they the rot, instead being a beautiful fruit who taste is poisoned. They have an iron fist wrapped a velvet glove for they are invariably hidden, looking to secrecy for safety, and generally prefer to be the trusted advisor rather then the outright ruler.

The Ashen Covenant was founded in the Coming of the Blight to insure the safety of its members – mainly wizards, sorcerers, and warlocks. Headquartered behind the wards of the city of Vaile in the Blight, they seek arcane secrets and eldritch might at all times, seeing these as the guarantor of their own safety and success. They often find themselves at odds with other factions due to this often single-minded focus, and they are ruthless in it’s pursuit.

 

 

 

 

 

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“We dug coal together…”

Yeah, well damn…

Last episode of Justified

That was a great episode to end a great show. I was listening to NPR today and they made the observation that it was a show about driven, intelligent, Southern, blue-collar cops up against driven, intelligent, Southern, blue-collar criminals (who were just as often fighting amongst themselves). The commentator was right, as was his observation that this is a demographic that is often portrayed as stupid and lazy – and has been since the death of the Western as a popular genre (though he didn’t quite phrase it that way).

I think it is worth noting how much the genre of cyberpunk owes to the western – not just because of “console cowboys” but because the cyberpunks are the high-tech equivalent of the blue-collar “high plains drifter.” But beyond that, I’m also noting that I’m one of the last generation of American men who grew up watching and reading westerns, even so much as the last major westerns made in my teenage years and early adulthood.

Now the closest that most younger gamers and geeks have gotten to a Western is Firefly – which certainly isn’t a bad version of a Western. It even more certainly speaks to how closely the Traveller RPG hews to Western tropes given how many parallels gamers have seen between the game and the TV show.

In any case, it has me wondering somewhat amused given how much two out of my four favorite games owe to Westerns. Heck my main NPC in Traveller is named “Quint” in conscious imitation of Louis L’Amour’s Flint (as well as, truth to be told, James Coburn’s Our Man Flint and his character Britt from The Magnificent Seven – another Western!). This is probably worth some conscious thought and re-reading/watching some westerns when I run either Traveller or Cyberpunk 2020 next.

D.

Categories: FYI | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Sweet! New books!

Very cool, I just received my copy of Necromancer Games Book of Lost Spells in the mail, and I did end up buying a copy of Princes of the Apocalypse – the reviews all said that it was much better than the last adventure path and I’m happy to have bought it. Lots of good little bits in it. Give me some time to digest and I’ll do a couple of reviews.

Plus, the Book of Lost Spells makes finishing up some of those codices much easier!

The last steps are being put on a random jewelry/jewels/loot app that uses my methodology for determining value and gems but it’s already running quite well. Many, many thanks to KT for doing that for me! Next up she’s planning on building an app that I can plug things into so it will calculate experience (aka CR) for me – that will make my life much, much easier. I decided to tweak the table in the book slightly – I’m more willing to have higher AC’s so I adjusted the upper limit there and I similarly adjusted the Combat Bonus column. The only thing it is going to serious effect is high level creatures, but some “back of the envelope” number crunching says it isn’t significant because it simply flattens out progression a bit for powerful creatures.

Oh well, back to work!

D.

Categories: FYI, Game Design, House Rules | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Session #12 – From Phandalin to Kingsholm

So we played yesterday, and while we didn’t have any combat there were a decent of developments and things moved along pretty well. Also, the day saw Jarvic, Dhagri, and Rhys all go up a level from accumulated experience.

The party made their way back to Phandalin to return Gundren’s body to Sildar Hallwinter, even sans head there is the small chance he could be Resurrected and at the very least his body could be returned to his clan if his brothers don’t return to claim it. They also hoped to be able to dispose of the collection of loot that they had accumulated and was at this point starting to significantly weigh them down.

On the way back they ran into a patrol of Duke Blackadder’s soldiers led by a Lieutenant who seemed quite familiar with the Tresendar family and lands, who had a quite a time trying to figure out what to do with the group. The one mounted knightly-looking fellow was a henchman of the walking elf sorceress, the younger brother of the local Baron was walking around dressed like a commoner, and there was also a dwarf, two gnomes (one of whom was at least a member of the Cartel in good standing), and even a half-goblin that the Tresendar was willing to vouch for! Eventually the patrol just decided to move on and report the presence of the rather large  adventuring company or mercenary band or whatever it is to higher authorities.

Upon returning to Phandalin, they met with Sildar (and Garaele Half-Elven, the local Druidess), filling them in on what had happened since they were last in Phandalin – omitting the encounter with the Maiden of Storms and the prophecy of the oncoming Age of Worms. Meeting with Linene Graywind of the Lionshields Merchant House and Halia Thornton of the Miner’s Exchange they were more than able to exchange their loot for script.

Except for Dhagri Khazann, who doesn’t trust “paper money” and loaded up with gold instead.

After some discussion, the party decided that they needed to go to Kingsholm, the nearest actual city (which many of them had actually come originally). It’s actually a pretty small city, the seat of Duke Blackadder, himself a rather minor Duke, but it’s closest thing to actual “real civilization” within a month’s travel. As a relative whole, the party realized that they need to get their guild memberships in order, probably get some sort of charter for an adventuring company. The encounter with the Duke’s patrol convinced them that their days of running “under the radar” were done – and especially since they were likely to get lots of attention from the “Powers That Be” when they get to Kingsholm and reveal the prophecy.

They spent a day in Phandalin, then started on the road to Kingsholm, where they were introduced to a whole new level of “Powers That Be” – because they had the distinction of being the first players to meet the Necromancer in something like fifteen years. He’s actually a former player character from the Padawan Campaign who went bad in the search for power and has been lurking around behind the scenes as an NPC ever since.

His arrival announced itself with the death of the small creatures and the silence of the grave and his presence brought with cold and mist that surrounded the whole campsite. A tall man, dressed in the blackest black, with ivory-pale skin, and bearing the wand and kris of a wizard. He came, knowing of the Maiden of Storms, and inquired as to Her prophecy, also seeming to know who had been present for Her warning of the Age of Worms. Seized for a moment Jarvi was suffused with a radiant light, lifted by the winds, and the Maiden of Storms repeated Her warning to the Necromancer. There was more, the Necromancer plucked the troubling memories of the writing from Jarvic’s mind, warning him that there were “thing man was not meant to know, that can be a very a cancer upon both the mind and soul.” He also warned the group that they were now part of the larger world, that would be attracting the attention of powerful forces –  “if they hadn’t already done so” he said with a smile both wry and grim.

The Necromancer also managed to spark a memory for Gwyneth when he mentioned the Wormgod, of her fighting a gaunt human with blazing red eyes with  sockets full of writhing green worms and skeletal, clawed hands of bare bone. He suggested that it was time for her to return home, where more of her memories might return. Lastly, Rhys asked how they might contact the Necromancer again if they needed to (after no one else asked the question) – after which the Necromancer drew him close and whispered something in his ear – Words of Power that shook Rhys to his core, revealing his mortality both to himself and everyone watching.

And then the Necromancer left.

The remainder of the trip to Kingsholm  was uneventful.

TTFN!

D.

Categories: Campaign, Game Play | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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