Archive for the ‘Brass Tacks’ Category

It’s time to make a moonbeast!

Aberrations play a big role in the history of Canus, the Material Plane of my Exploration Age campaign setting. They are the main villains in one of my home campaigns at the moment. That group is currently 16th level. The highest level challenge rating aberration in the Monster Manual is 14 (beholder in its lair).  The highest level non-legendary aberration is the challenge 10 death slaad. While throwing a pile of nothics at the PCs can be fun, it gets to be a grind after a time.

In fact there’s only 19 aberration stat blocks in the entire fifth edition Monster Manual. At this point my players have fought them all many times over. Even in groups they’re becoming less of a challenge so I need to make some new high CR aberrations. I’ve made the Star Wars-inspired gaping maw, but I need some others.

History of Aberrations in Exploration Age

Aberrations came to Canus long ago from the Far Realm. They found the new world was full of resources and as of yet uninhabited by intelligent life. These alien creatures ruled over the world until the dragons awoke from beneath the surface of Canus.

No one knows if the dragons lived on the surface of Canus for years and then retreated below to sleep or if they were simply born of the core of the world. Their climb through the earth created the tunnels of the Underground and their spilled blood became the elf races.

When the dragons reached the surface, the authority of aberrations enraged them. The aberrations thought no better of the dragons. All out war was inevitable. The dragons used their magic to destroy any connection Canus had to the home plane of the aberrations. Those that were on Canus could not call for reinforcements. The Far Realm remains out of reach to this day.

During this time of violence, the dragons created intelligent races to aid them in their battles. New humanoids were created and began to walk the earth.

The war decimated both sides. In the end, the defeated aberrations retreated to the Underground while the dragons retreated to their various lairs, weary from millennia of fighting. The humanoids inherited the broken world and began to rebuild.

Dragons lost the desire to rule through the scars of battle but their foes are a different story. Aberrations believe this world is rightfully theirs and was taken unjustly. Now it belongs to the inferior humanoids. They want Canus back. They’re ready to reclaim it.

Lovecraftian Inspiration

It’s clear that I need some more aberrations to really make my campaign and world complete, especially since this creature type has such a rich history in Exploration Age. Around the same time I was thinking I wanted to make more aberrations, a product called Publisher’s Choice Lovecraftian Horrors Subscription went on sale at RPGNow.

Since I’ve been creating more products I need a steady supply of good art and Fat Goblin Games has some of the best. They’re constantly adding baddies to this product. If you’re a creator who needs art, check it out! For me it is worth the investment. No one is paying me or even asking me to say that.

Just my luck this little thing was on sale at the time I needed it! H.P. Lovecraft’s imagination has spawned so many wonderful otherworldly creatures. Many of those creatures clearly inspire D&D’s aberrations. Mind flayers are basically mini Cthulhus!

I decided to convert a few of these beasties into fifth edition D&D rules for Exploration Age. I’m going to make their stories my own, but the names and forms of the beasts shall remain the same! Behold the first of these terrors, the moonbeast!

Publisher's Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games

Moonbeast

The eyeless, greyish-scaled form of the moonbeast is a horrifying sight to behold. It’s slippery body can change size in an instant. Deadly claws and a blunt snout of teeth surrounded by tentacles complete this aberration’s bestial appearance. Many are fooled by this ferocious look and find out too late that a moonbeast is far smarter and more devious than it seems.

Greedy Slavers. Moonbeasts covet gold. They hatch all manner of villainous schemes to get their claws on the stuff but their most profitable industry is slavery. Their greed drives them to sell any prisoners to others aberrations. Any humanoids defeated at the hands of a moonbeast who live eventually end up serving an aberration master – a fate far worse than death.

Horrific Travelers. Moonbeasts will often use their own slaves or shapeshifting aberrations to help them travel with their slave cargo from place to place. They can easily change their size and shape to hide amongst the cargo holds of ships, wagons, and other vehicles while they telepathically dole out orders.

Moonbeast

Large aberration, neutral evil


Armor Class 20 (natural armor)

Hit Points  230 (20d10 + 120)

Speed  50 ft., climb 30 ft.


STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
25 (+7) 16 (+3) 23 (+6) 23 (+6) 18 (+4) 18 (+4)

Saving Throws  Dex +9, Int +12, Wis +10

Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons

Damage Immunities psychic

Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, prone

Skills Insight +10, Perception +10

Senses blindsight 120 ft. passive perception 20

Languages Deep Speech, telepathy 120 ft.

Challenge 17 (18,000 XP)


Amorphous. The moonbeast can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing.

Horrifying Visage. Creatures who start their turns within 30 feet of the moonbeast and can see the creature must succeed on a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened of the moonbeast for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to the moonbeast’s Horrifying Visage for the next 24 hours.

Magic Resistance. The moonbeast has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Magic Weapons. The moonbeast’s weapon attacks are magical.

Quickened Enlarge/Reduce. As a bonus action the moonbeast can cast enlarge/reduce on itself. The moonbeast does not require concentration to maintain this spell.

Spellcasting. The moonbeast’s spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 20, +12 to hit with spell attacks). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components.

At will: charm monsterhold monster, misty step, scrying, zone of truth

3/day: dispel magicdominate monster

1/day: plane shift (self only), time stop

Actions

Multiattack. The moonbeast can make one attack with its claws, one attack with its tentacles, and one attack with its bite.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (2d10 + 7) piercing damage.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d6 + 7) slashing damage.

Tentacles. Melee Weapon Attack: +13 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (2d6 + 7) bludgeoning damage and the target is grappled (escape DC 21) and pulled adjacent to the moonbeast. Until the grapple ends the target is restrained and the moonbeast cannot use its tentacles against another target. Until the grapple ends the target must succeed on a DC 20 Constitution saving throw at the start of its turns or suffer a level of exhaustion.

Healing Consumption. The moonbeast eats an adjacent Small or Medium unconscious creature. When the creature is consumed, it dies and its body and all of its nonmagical possessions are devoured by the moonbeast. The moonbeast regains 50 hit points.

PDF

Would you like this Lovecraftian beastie to threaten your players’ characters? Grab it now in its own PDF or alongside a lot of Exploration Age’s monsters! Like the icebreaker shark, gaping maw, morchia, and mystauk.

All Monsters

Moonbeast

If you liked these creatures be sure to check out my other offerings in the Free Game Resources section of this site and my Pay What You Want products on the DMs Guild for backgrounds, magic items, optional rules, and more.

Playtest It Up

Now I ask you my readers to please go forth and test this nasty. Throw it at your players and see how they fare! If you have any feedback for my monster please leave it in the comments below or email me (james.introcaso@gmail.com). If you tell me your name and the names of your players I’ll give you credit as playtesters in the Exploration Age Campaign Guide!

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Over the last couple weeks on this blog I dove deep into my campaign setting, Exploration Age. First I wrote about the design principles behind the setting and then I gave you my hex crawl tips, since Exploration Age was built for that sort of adventure. Now it’s time to blog about building random encounter tables to give your hex crawls some extra awesome.

I find hex crawls call for huge varied encounter tables. The more variety you can inject into a table, the more interesting your game play will be. A lot of different encounters will keep your hex crawl from becoming a predictable grind. Pages 85 – 87 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide have some great advice for building your own random encounter tables, so I won’t rehash what’s already been written.

Check for Encounters

When my players embark on a big hex crawl, I create three different tables – a hostile encounters table, a exploration encounters table, and a story encounters table. In general I check from random encounters twice per day during a hex crawl. Once during the travel day and once when the PCs stop to take a long rest. If they take any short rests, make a lot of noise, try to take a short cut, or do anything else that might attract attention (or if I just feel like it), I’ll check more than the usual twice. Use your discretion and roll whenever you feel it is necessary. Sometimes you may just want to make a particular type of encounter happen, in that case just skip the “check for encounters” step, roll on the appropriate table, and get going.

I check for a random encounter by rolling a d20. On a roll of 1-16, no encounter occurs. On a roll of 17-18, a hostile encounter occurs, on a roll of 19 an exploration encounter occurs, and on a 20 a story encounter occurs.

If I feel too much of a particular type of encounter has occurred, I’ll change the numbers to give a new kind of encounter a greater chance of occurring. Heck, if there’s a particular encounter I really want to occur, I’ll just make it happen and won’t even roll. The point is, you can easily adjust the numbers if your group prefers a particular type of encounter over the others. I have a better chance of hostile encounters occurring more than story or exploration because those are what my group likes. Combat encounters make hex crawling dangerous fun. You can do whatever you like and change midstream to fit your game!

One of my groups is currently crawling through the blank area of The Sprawling Jungle in Verda, so I’ll be using jungle encounters as examples.

World Map of Canus

World Map of Canus

Hostile Encounter Table

For a combat encounters table, I follow the advice in the Dungeon Master’s Guide, but I make every encounter on the table a hostile encounter. It’s that simple.

The big question you have to answer… will you build your random encounter table so that each encounter falls within the easy – hard encounter difficulty rating for your party (as the Dungeon Master’s Guide suggests) or will you build a random encounter table that includes encounters difficulty ratings well above and below what the party can handle?

I know many old school gamers may prefer the latter. After all, why would The Sprawling Jungle care what level the PCs are? They might even call it realistic. If that’s what you want to do, by all means, go ahead. Just make sure your players know what they’re in for. This is not my preferred method, but if it works for your group, game on.

In my experience having a single random encounter with a challenge rating well above the party’s level end in a party wipe just stinks. I want my players to feel like the heroes of the story. How crappy would The Lord of the Rings be if the Fellowship got entirely wiped out by a group of 1d6+4 owlbears at the start of the journey? I understand it may not seem realistic, but neither do dragons, magic, or mind flayers, so I’m good with it.

Here’s an example of a hostile encounter table below for The Sprawling Jungle in Exploration Age. The encounters are tailored for a group for four level 11 PCs. Remember that a hostile encounter doesn’t have to be resolved by combat. Let the PCs tackle the encounter with diplomacy or attempt to avoid it, especially if they see the enemy before the enemy sees them.

d12 + d8 Encounter
2 1 behir
3 1d2 Tyrannosaurus rex
4 1 hydra
5 1d6+3 saber-toothed tiger
6 1d2+1 shambling mounds
7 1d2+1 trolls
8 1 orc war cheif, 2 orogs, and 1d6 orcs
9 1d2 giant apes
10 1 lizard king/queen, 1 lizardfolk shaman, and 2d6 lizardfolk
11 1d4+4 swarms of poisonous snakes
12 1 gnoll fang of Yeenoghu, 1 gnoll pack lord, and 2d6 gnolls
13 1d6+2 giant scorpions
14 1d10+6 giant spiders
15 1d6+3 mystuak-inhanbited berserkers
16 1d3 cyclopes
17 1d2+1 green hags
18 1 yuan-ti abomination, 1 yuan-ti malison, and 1d4 yuan-ti purebloods
19 1d2 morchia
20 1 adult green dragon

Exploration Encounter Table

My exploration encounters include interactions with non-hostile NPCs and locations the PCs may meet along the way. These encounters could lead to side quests, provide challenges or rewards, or give flavor to the world. As each encounter occurs, I cross it off the list. In general it isn’t very fun for a specific of exploration encounter to occur more than once. I usually keep these tables smaller since these encounters take a lot more prep than a random encounter. I add new exploration encounters between sessions to fill-in the ones I’ve crossed off the list. Checkout my example for The Sprawling Jungle below.

d6 Encounter
1 A wagon surrounded by decomposing humanoid corpses wearing rainbow colored cloaks. The wagon contains a hidden compartment (DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) to notice) which holds 4d6 x 100 doses of orange spice inside.
2 Hidden mud pit 20 feet deep with a 10-foot-square opening. DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) to notice. A creature which enters the mud pit must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be submerged 5 feet in the mud, restrained, and continue to sink at the end of its turn at a rate of 5 feet per round. Once the mud covers the creature’s head it is blinded and it begins suffocating if it requires air to live. A submerged creature can make a DC 15 Strength (Athletics) check as an action to climb 5 feet out of the pit and also not sink at the end of its turn. A nonsubmerged creature can aid a submerged creature by lending it a hand or long object (such as a branch), which gives the submerged creature advantage on its Strength (Athletics) check.
3 A grove of casgrove fruit. The fruit is worth 500 gp. Harvesting the fruit takes 2 hours. There is a 50% 3d6 mystauk with no host inhabit the grove as well.
4 A band of adventurers from the Explorers’ Guild (50%) or the Society of Seekers (50%) looking for a nearby aberrant ruin. They will pay the adventurers 50 gp for any information which could aid them in their search.
5 An aberrant ruin. Use Shuzal or roll on the aberrant ruin table.
6 The nomadic panther tribe comes through. Their chief, Bergonthal the Brave, has contracted slug snot after exploring a a cave which leads to the Underdark. If the PCs heal the cheif, the tribe’s shaman, Ferix the Wolf, reward the PCs with a charm of victorious armor.

Story Encounters Table

Story encounters are more abstract. They inject PC backstories and past campaign events into the game. A story encounter should help introduce new story elements into your campaign or move a particular story forward. When a result on the table calls for a particular PC you can randomly choose one character by rolling a die or by picking whichever PC’s story makes the most sense at the moment given the time and location of the encounter. You could also simply pick a PC who hasn’t been in the spotlight for a time.

Some of the results on the table call for a NPC to ask the players for help. If you’re stuck on what the NPC should ask for, roll on your hostile encounters table and have the NPC ask players for help defeating that enemy which is chasing the NPC, has stolen something which belongs to the NPC, or raiding a nearby settlement.

A NPC offering aid could offer their own services as an adventurer, healing spells, food, or equipment. A few potions never hurt anyone (and a few cursed potions really make the game interesting).

d6 Encounter
1 A hostile creature from a PC’s background
2 A hostile creature that got away from the PCs or has returned from the dead after they killed it
3 A friendly creature from the PC’s background asking for help with something or offering aid
4 A henchmen or assassin hired by a villain the PCs are working against come to kill the PCs or infiltrate them as a spy
5 A NPC the entire party has met before asking for help with something or offering aid
6 A NPC who knows someone the PCs know or has heard of them who needs help or is asking for aid

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my podcasts, find my products on the DMs Guild, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I am a lucky man! My series, “Epic Threats,” just had its second installment published in EN World’s EN5ider Magazine. “Epic Threats” is a series which fills out bestiary ranks with more high challenge rating fifth edition monsters. I’ve found in the upper echelons of the game that there aren’t enough threats to give my PCs the variety of challenges and creature I like, so I made a few of my own, submitted them to EN5ider and they’re being published! You can read my first installment in the series, “Epic Threats: NPCs,” and the second installment, “Epic Threats: Goblinoids and Orcs,” by subscribing to EN5ider for as little as $1 a month through Patreon.

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 5.58.23 PM

I have to say, if you’re playing fifth edition and craving more content, EN5ider is a great place to get it. I’m not just saying that because I’ve now written for them three times. You get one short adventure a month plus another three articles with advice on running chases, new diseasesnew druid circles, creating puzzles, and so much more. You get all that for $2 a month. If you don’t want the adventure, you can still score the articles for $1 a month. That’s less than a bottle of water in most places. The articles are of a great quality and EN World creator, Russ Morrissey, writes several of the best. You can grab some sample articles and an adventure for free so check it out.

I also have to give a super special shoutout to EN5ider editor, James J. Haeck. He’s brilliant, creative, and a blast to work with. Every letter that man touches becomes better for it and this series of articles would be a lot worse without his hard work.

Whenever I have an article come out in EN5ider I like to write a companion blog post to help promote the article. You can checkout the companion piece I wrote for “Epic Threats: NPCs,” “Get Sick,” and, “Give Chase.” Now it’s time to present a companion piece for, “Epic Threats: Goblinoids and Orcs.” The article gives you five new monsters to throw at your PCs, CR 14 – 20. I’m going to show you a CR 12 orc I wrote that I didn’t submit with the article so I could tease you here on the blog.

Orc Punisher

Orc punishers are burning with divine fires inside of them which are fueled by pain. Every piece of steel, arrow, and spell they suffer grows their savage fury until they erupt with radiant energy which sears their hated foes.

Orc Punisher

Medium humanoid (orc), chaotic evil

Armor Class 15 (studded leather)

Hit Points 190 (20d8 + 100)

Speed 30 ft.

STR

DEX

CON

INT

WIS

CHA

22 (+6)

16 (+3)

20 (+5)

10 (+0)

12 (+1)

8 (-1)

Saving Throws Strength +10, Con +9, Wis +5

Damage Resistance radiant

Skills Athletics +10, Intimidation +3

Senses passive Perception 11

Languages Common, Orc

Challenge 12 (8,400 XP)

Aggressive. As a bonus action, the orc can move up to its speed toward a hostile creature that it can see.

Charging Advantage. If the orc moves at least 10 feet it has advantage on all attack rolls made before the end of its turn.

Eye for an EyeWhenever the orc takes damage, it gains a number of punishing points equal to the damage taken. These points are cumulative and the orc can have a maximum of 50 punishing points. These points disappear when the orc takes a short rest.

When the orc hits a target with a melee attack, it can choose to spend any number of punishing points. The number of points the orc spends equal the number of bonus radiant damage points dealt by the attack.

Actions

Multiattack. The orc makes four attacks.

Greataxe. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (1d12 + 6) slashing damage.

Javelin. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 30/120 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d6 + 6) piercing damage.

Blinding Burst. The orc spends 20 punishing points and releases a burst of radiant energy in a 20-foot-radius sphere centered on itself. Hostile creatures within the sphere must succeed on a DC 17 Constitution saving throw or take 15 points of radiant damage and become blinded until the end of the orc’s next turn. Allies in the sphere heal 5 hit points.

Fey Step. The orc spends 5 punishing points to cast fey step.

PDF

Would you like this monster in a PDF along with all the other fifth edition D&D baddies I’ve designed? Grab them below.

Orc Punisher

All Monsters

If you don’t want to grab them now, but decide you want the PDFs at a future date, head on over to the Free Game Resources section of this site where the documents will live along with magic items, backgroundsD&D fifth edition rules modulesspellsadventures, and more created by yours truly.

Of course as a bonus this bad boy is elligible to be another submission to this month’s RPG Blog Carnival, which I am hosting here on World Builder Blog. The theme is “Homebrew Holiday Gifts,” and I’m asking bloggers everywhere to share their RPG creations for their favorite systems with me. At the end of the month I’ll make a list linking all participating blog posts so everyone can checkout the fine homebrew creations in one place.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

It’s time to kick Santa’s butt!

As many of you may know for the past several weeks I’ve been working on a holiday themed adventure for fifth edition. It all started with me deciding to create a stat block for Santa Claus. Then I went a little further and created stats for Mrs. Claus and the rest of Santa’s crew (including the crowd-pleasing hot chocolate elementals). The reaction to these creatures was so great that I decided to create a free adventure as a holiday gift for the readers of this blog. Well now you can grab it in the link below!

Happy Holidays

With the Winter holidays ruined by a rash of explosive coal gifts, adventurers must venture to the North Pole to discover what’s making Santa punish the nice and reward the naughty. Happy Holidays is an adventure for four to six 20th level characters which uses fifth edition rules.

Maps

Here are the maps I made using Pyromancers’ Dungeon Painter. It’s a free easy-to-use online mapmaking tool. Take a look at the gridded and gridless options of the map below. You should easily be able to bring the 51×51 map into any virtual table.

map51x51 grid map51x51 no grid

Blog Carnival

I should also mention that this blog post is part of this month’s RPG Blog Carnival, which is being hosted right here on this very blog for all of December. The theme is “Homebrew Holiday Gifts.” I’m asking bloggers everywhere to share their RPG creations for their favorite systems with me. At the end of the month I’ll make a list linking all participating blog posts so everyone can checkout the fine homebrew creations in one place.

More PDFs

Check out the Free Game Resources section of the site for more free RPG goodness. You can grab several maps there with gridded and gridless options (and their corresponding adventures) along with free PDFs of fifth edition magic itemsmonsters, backgroundsD&D fifth edition rules modulesspells, and more created by yours truly.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

It all started when I wanted my PCs to fight Santa. I started creating an adventure to do just that and I shared the Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition monster statistics for Mr. Claus and his crew and the artifact that drove St. Nick insane on this very blog. I plan on posting the entire adventure on Thursday.

Before we get to the short quest I want to show off the map I made for it using Pyromancers’ Dungeon Painter. It’s a free, easy-to-use online mapmaking tool. Take a look at the gridded and gridless options of the map below. You should easily be able to bring the 51×51 map into any virtual table. Take a look and let me know what your initial impressions are in the comments below!

I should also mention that this blog post is part of this month’s RPG Blog Carnival, which is being hosted right here on this very blog for all of December. The theme is “Homebrew Holiday Gifts.” I’m asking bloggers everywhere to share their RPG creations for their favorite systems with me. At the end of the month I’ll make a list linking all participating blog posts so everyone can checkout the fine homebrew creations in one place.

map51x51 no grid map51x51 grid

More Maps

If you like these maps and want to grab some more for your games, check out the Free Game Resources section of the site. You can grab several maps there with gridded and gridless options (and their corresponding adventures) along with free PDFs of fifth edition magic itemsmonsters, backgroundsD&D fifth edition rules modulesspells, and more created by yours truly.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

It all started when I wanted my PCs to fight Santa. I started creating an adventure to do just that and I shared the Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition monster statistics for Mr. Claus and his crew on this very blog. I plan on posting the entire adventure next week, but before I put it all together in a free holiday PDF for ya’ll, I wanted to share the final important piece of the adventure. This is the magic item that makes St. Nick go insane.

You see Narese, an evil empyrean on Santa’s naughty list, got her hands on the Crown of Bewitching Enchantment. This powerful artifact allowed her to dominate the jolly old celestial and turn him bad. Soon he started sending gifts to everyone on his naughty list and exploding coal to the kiddies on the nice list. Dang that must be one powerful crown! Read about it below.

I should also mention that this blog post is part of this month’s RPG Blog Carnival, which is being hosted right here on this very blog for all of December. The theme is “Homebrew Holiday Gifts.” I’m asking bloggers everywhere to share their RPG creations for their favorite systems with me. At the end of the month I’ll make a list linking all participating blog posts so everyone can checkout the fine homebrew creations in one place.

The Crown of Bewitching Enchantment

Wondrous Item, artifact (requires attunement)

Forged millennia ago for the Prince of Frost of The Winter Court in the Feywild, the Crown of Betwitching Enchantment can force all but the most willful beings into utter subjugation to the wearer. The crafter, an elf witch who fell madly in love with the Prince of Frost, spent more than 500 years pouring magical energy into the crown each day before she presented it to the man of her affection.

This was long before the Prince of Frost was cruel and heartless. He accepted the gift from the witch, but feared the ultimate power it possessed and ordered the crown sent away. For centuries it sat in the Nine Hells. Those who knew of the crown were unable to retrieve it and the devils had no idea it was hidden in the wastes of Avernus. Eventually Asmodeus himself felt the pull of the crown. He ordered it retrieved and gave it to one of his pit fiend commanders named She’kalor. The fiend brought balor generals under her control and the eternal stalemate of the Blood War began to tip in the favor of the devils.

Solars took notice and realized the fiends had to be stopped. If the armies of The Nine Hells took over The Abyss, how many other planes might the combined forces of demons and devils conquer together? The angels sacrificed much to get the Crown of Bewitching Enchantment, but they keep it with them at all times. Should the need arise and a hero prove strong of heart and mind, they will award the crown for a short time to aid the doing of good deeds.

Random Properties. The Crown of Bewitching Enchantment has the following random properties:

  • 1 major detrimental property
  • 2 minor beneficial properties
  • 1 major beneficial property
  • 1 minor detrimental property

Properties of the Crown. While attuned to the crown you gain the following benefits.

  • You are immune to psychic damage.
  • You are immune to the charmed condition.
  • You cannot be surprised.
  • You can cast the following spells at-will (spell save DC 20): dominate personfey stepinvisibility, zone of truth
  • As an action you cast a special form of dominate monster (spell save DC 20). This spell functions the same way as the normal spell except all creatures have disadvantage against this saving throw, it does not require concentration, and the duration is indefinite. You can have up to three creatures charmed this way. If you want to charm a fourth creature using this ability, you must choose to release one of the creatures you already have charmed (no action). The effect ends on all creatures if you are killed, a new wearer becomes attuned to the crown, or the crown is destroyed.
  • As an action you can emit a 60-foot cone of psychic power from the crown. Creatures you choose in the cone must succeed on a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw or take 8d8 psychic damage and become paralyzed for 1 minute. Creatures paralyzed in this way can repeat the saving throw at the end of their turns, ending the effect of a success. Once you have used this power three times, you cannot use it again until the next day at dawn.

Destroying the Crown. The only way to destroy the Crown of Bewitching Enchantment is to gather a coven of fifty hags to perform a daylong ritual which summons a blessed elder purple worm to devour the crown.

PDF

Would you like a PDF of this magic item along with the hundreds of other D&D fifth edition magic items I’ve created on this blog? Grab it below!

Crown of Bewitching Enchantment

If you don’t want to grab them now, but decide you want the PDFs at a future date, head on over to the Free Game Resources section of this site where the documents will live along with monsters, backgroundsD&D fifth edition rules modulesspellsadventures, and more created by yours truly.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I heard that a lot last week.

I’m creating a holiday themed adventure for the season and kicked it off with two different blog posts where I showed off Santa Claus and his crew. There was a lot of people responding with the joke above saying, “Don’t give Santa stats! Then your players will kill him!” Here’s the thing though – I want Santa to have stats so he can fight the PCs.

There’s really only two practical reasons to give a creature combat statistics in Dungeons and Dragons.

  1. The PCs are going to fight it.
  2. The PCs are allied with the creature and it’s going to fight beside them.

The third (and somewhat impractical) reason would be that it’s just fun to create stats. I digress. In my case I designed Santa and his minions because my group of players is going to take him on in a holiday themed royal rumble. Why? Well check out the adventure background and synopsis below.

I should also mention that this blog post is part of this month’s RPG Blog Carnival, which is being hosted right here on this very blog for all of December. The theme is “Homebrew Holiday Gifts.” I’m asking bloggers everywhere to share their RPG creations for their favorite systems with me. At the end of the month I’ll make a list linking all participating blog posts so everyone can checkout the fine homebrew creations in one place.

Happy Holidays is a short fifth edition adventure for four to six level 20 characters. The adventure assumes the high level characters are well known throughout the land.

Adventure Background

It is a time of evil at the North Pole. Santa’s workshop, normally a cozy den of cheery work ethic, has been plunged into darkness. Santa, Mrs. Claus, and many of their friends and guardians at the North Pole are under the influence of an evil empyrean with an axe to grind named Narese Lathanya.

It all began centuries ago, when Santa put Narese on the naughty list for the murder of her sister. Narese’s twin, Bellatros, bested her in a contest of strength. The gods awarded Bellatros with a crown of bewitching enchantment which allowed her to charm others. In the night jealous Narese killed her sister as she slept and took the crown as her own. Santa, who sees all, moved Narese’s name over to the naughty list at once. Coal began appearing in Narese’s holiday stocking and she swore Santa would pay.

For the next three hundred years, Narese traveled back and forth across the North Pole searching for Santa’s workshop. Tried as she might, she could not find the place. Santa’s magic shields the workshop from the eyes of evil beings. Frustrated by the uselessness of her labors, she took a different tactic. She visited scholars across the land and using her crown persuaded them to tell her all they knew about Santa. She learned that any letter or package addressed to Santa by a child pure of heart would magically arrive in the workshop next day. She found an enormous box and an innocent little boy who fell under the sway of her crown. The next day she was inside Santa’s workshop.

Once inside Narese took control of Santa and Mrs. Claus’ minds with the crown of bewitching enchantment. This magic trickled down through Santa to the Winter elves and guardians of the place. Narese, jealous and eager to punish those on the nice list, had Santa switch the names with those on the naughty list. The empyrean charmed Santa into sending all creatures on the naughty list dangerous and explosive coal for the Winter holidays.

Adventure Synopsis

The characters get wind that something is amiss in the North Pole by getting their own explosive coal and then hearing about similar incidents throughout the land. Based on their reputation for past deeds the children and parents of the world write to the PCs and ask them to save the Winter holiday. From there the characters travel or teleport to the North Pole, storm Santa’s workshop, fight the man himself, and confront Narese to break her hold over the jolly celestial.

Making Santa Work in Your Game

In the real world Santa Claus is a mythical creation who gives well behaved boys and girls presents during the Christian holiday of Christmas. Your own game world may not have Christianity as a religion and thus there is no Christmas in the world. Fear not! Santa isn’t so tied to religion that you can’t play this adventure. Instead use the Santa lore below to work him into your world and have him deliver gifts on any Winter holiday, harvest, or even the solstice.

Blog note: Santa’s lore can be found in this blog post.

Hook: Blow Up the Holidays

The PCs awake on a Winter holiday to find presents placed at the foot of their beds. Santa has been there! As the PCs open their presents they find each perfectly wrapped box contains a single lump of coal. The coal explodes, dealing 1 fire damage to the person who opened the box. While this isn’t a huge problem for the PCs, good creatures everywhere are opening similar boxes and getting the same surprise. For some, like younger children, the results are serious injuries.

The PCs get word or witness this curious occurrence. They also get wind of naughty children and evil creatures being rewarded with toys and beautiful gifts. Cheating spouses, thieves, and politicians all sport new jewelry, clothing, and more. One of the PCs’ evil enemies might resurface with a new magic item given as a gift from Santa.

The next day a mail carrier comes to visit the characters with letters from parents and children throughout the land, begging the well-known band to investigate what happened to the Winter holiday. What’s wrong with Santa? Can the characters please find out? Describe letters from children who might draw crude pictures of the PCs riding around in Santa’s sleigh, drinking hot chocolate with Winter elves, and opening gifts. Parents may call for the head of Santa or have more anger in their letters demanding justice for the exploding coal which ruined their holiday. These can be humorous letters, but should get the PCs moving to the North Pole. If they need more of an incentive, a wealthy individual could offer them lots of gold to look into the matter or a kindly wizard could offer each character a magic item from her collection in exchange for finding out what happened to Santa.

Getting to the North Pole

At 20th level the characters probably have a few options for traveling to the North Pole. They can teleport or use other magic to get their quickly. Maybe they own special mounts or a fantastic vehicle like an airship. They might have a powerful friend, like a silver dragon, who offers to fly them North to investigate what’s happening. You might even allow characters to use the same technique Narese did and have them find a child who agrees to mail them to the North Pole.

Of course your party could end up traveling one of the more mundane ways to the North Pole. On foot, on mounts, or by ship. If this happens feel free to play out the trip and roll for random encounters along the way. Odds are this will be a very long journey if magic doesn’t speed it along, so be sure that’s the kind of thing your group will enjoy before you dive headlong into lots of walking and random battles.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

As you may know this month I’m hosting the RPG Blog Carnival. The theme is “Homebrew Holiday Gifts,” and I’m asking bloggers everywhere to share their RPG creations for their favorite systems with me. At the end of the month I’ll make a list linking all participating blog posts so everyone can checkout the fine homebrew creations in one place. That brings me to my second entry for the month – MORE Shadow of the Demon Lord pregens! Now you can get starting, novice, expert, and master pregens below!

I recently played a wonderful game of Shadow of the Demon Lord. Game designer Rob Schwalb has put together an amazing RPG with fun, easy-to-learn rules. At first glance this appears to be a simple dark fantasy tabletop RPG (which would be awesome by itself), but read beyond the table of contents and you’ll find it’s a world of deliciously wicked rules that twists tropes and archetypes you know well into something original and different.

You can hear more about Shadow of the Demon Lord in the Gamer to Gamer podcast I recorded with Rob back in March when his (super duper successful) Kickstarter launched. Since then he’s published the core rulebook and a ton of adventures by many amazing designers you can buy.

I noticed that since the game is new there aren’t many pregens online, so I made a few of my own. Below are pregens for starting (level 0), novice (level 1), expert (level 3), and master (level 7) PCs. You can always grab these pregens on the Free Game Resources section of the site.

Starting

Changeling

Clockwork

Dwarf

Goblin

Human

Orc

Novice

Changeling Magician Level 1

Clockwork Warrior Level 1

Dwarf Priest Level 1

Goblin Rogue Level 1

Human Priest Level 1

Orc Warrior Level 1

Expert

Changeling Magician Witch Level 3

Clockwork Warrior Fighter Level 3

Dwarf Priest Paladin Level 3

Goblin Rogue Thief Level 3

Human Priest Cleric Level 3

Orc Warrior Berserker Level 3

Master

Changeling Magician Witch Technomancer Level 7

Clockwork Warrior Fighter Weapon Master Level 7

Dwarf Priest Paladin Healer Level 7

Goblin Rogue Thief Acrobat Level 7

Human Priest Cleric Astromancer Level 7

Orc Warrior Berserker Brute Level 7

Hey if you want more RPG homebrew goodness, check out the Free Game Resources section of this site. You can find a lot of fifth edition D&D resources there like backgroundsmagic items, monstersD&D fifth edition rules modulesspellsadventures, and more created by yours truly.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Bones for the Demon Lord!

As you may know this month I’m hosting the RPG Blog Carnival. The theme is “Homebrew Holiday Gifts,” and I’m asking bloggers everywhere to share their RPG creations for their favorite systems with me. At the end of the month I’ll make a list linking all participating blog posts so everyone can checkout the fine homebrew creations in one place. That brings me to my first entry for the month – Shadow of the Demon Lord pregens!

I recently played a wonderful game of Shadow of the Demon Lord. Game designer Rob Schwalb has put together an amazing RPG with fun, easy-to-learn rules. At first glance this appears to be a simple dark fantasy tabletop RPG (which would be awesome by itself), but read beyond the table of contents and you’ll find it’s a world of deliciously wicked rules that twists tropes and archetypes you know well into something original and different.

You can hear more about Shadow of the Demon Lord in the Gamer to Gamer podcast I recorded with Rob back in March when his (super duper successful) Kickstarter launched. Since then he’s published the core rulebook and a ton of adventures by many amazing designers you can buy.

I noticed that since the game is new there aren’t many pregens online, so I made a few of my own. Below are pregens for starting (level 0), novice (level 1), and expert (level 3) PCs. You can always grab these pregens on the Free Game Resources section of the site.

Starting

Changeling

Clockwork

Dwarf

Goblin

Human

Orc

Novice

Changeling Magician Level 1

Clockwork Warrior Level 1

Dwarf Priest Level 1

Goblin Rogue Level 1

Human Priest Level 1

Orc Warrior Level 1

Expert

Changeling Magician Witch Level 3

Clockwork Warrior Fighter Level 3

Dwarf Priest Paladin Level 3

Goblin Rogue Thief Level 3

Human Priest Cleric Level 3

Orc Warrior Berserker Level 3

Master

Changeling Magician Witch Technomancer Level 7

Clockwork Warrior Fighter Weapon Master Level 7

Dwarf Priest Paladin Healer Level 7

Goblin Rogue Thief Acrobat Level 7

Human Priest Cleric Astromancer Level 7

Orc Warrior Berserker Brute Level 7

More Shadow of the Demon Lord pregens to come! Gotta get those master ones out there!

Hey if you want more RPG homebrew goodness, check out the Free Game Resources section of this site. You can find a lot of fifth edition D&D resources there like backgroundsmagic items, monstersD&D fifth edition rules modulesspellsadventures, and more created by yours truly.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

This is an update to a post written on Tuesday this week. If you want the new pregen goodness, skip down to the links below.

sotdl-cover

I love Shadow of the Demon Lord. Game designer Rob Schwalb has put together an amazing RPG with fun, easy-to-learn rules. At first glance this appears to be a simple dark fantasy tabletop RPG (which would be awesome by itself), but read beyond the table of contents and you’ll find it’s a deliciously wicked world of rules that twists tropes and archetypes you know well into something original and different.

You can hear more about Shadow of the Demon Lord in the Gamer to Gamer podcast I recorded with Rob back in March when his (super duper successful) Kickstarter launched. Since then he’s published the core rulebook and a ton of adventures by many amazing designers you can buy.

I have a very busy week this week and one reason is because I’m preparing to run my first ever game of Shadow of the Demon Lord with some players this Saturday. While we’re all seasoned with years of Dungeons and Dragons experience this will be their first time playing Rob’s game as well. We’re also limited on time, so as simple as Shadow of the Demon Lord’s character creation is, I went looking for pregens online. I couldn’t find any so I decided to make my own. I figured since I was going to make them, I might as well share them with you! Now they do exist online.

Below are pregens for starting (level 0) and novice (level 1) PCs. Note I fixed some typos and updated the starting PCs as well. You can always grab these pregens on the Free Game Resources section of the site.

Starting

Changeling

Clockwork

Dwarf

Goblin

Human

Orc

Novice

Changeling Magician Level 1

Clockwork Warrior Level 1

Dwarf Priest Level 1

Goblin Rogue Level 1

Human Priest Level 1

Orc Warrior Level 1

Expert

Changeling Magician Witch Level 3

Clockwork Warrior Fighter Level 3

Dwarf Priest Paladin Level 3

Goblin Rogue Thief Level 3

Human Priest Cleric Level 3

Orc Warrior Berserker Level 3

Master

Changeling Magician Witch Technomancer Level 7

Clockwork Warrior Fighter Weapon Master Level 7

Dwarf Priest Paladin Healer Level 7

Goblin Rogue Thief Acrobat Level 7

Human Priest Cleric Astromancer Level 7

Orc Warrior Berserker Brute Level 7

More Shadow of the Demon Lord pregens to come! Gotta get those expert and master ones out there!

Hey if you want more RPG goodness, check out the Free Game Resources section of this site. You can find a lot of fifth edition D&D resources there like backgroundsmagic items, monstersD&D fifth edition rules modulesspellsadventures, and more created by yours truly.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!