Posts Tagged ‘rules module’

I’ve been doing a lot of updating since the official Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition rules came out last year. Next up on my list is updating the rules I wrote for the mind altering fantasy drug, orange spice. I wrote these rules last year using the final D&D Next playtest packet, so they’re due for an update.

When sorted, smoked, or ingested the vasiseing flower’s orange pollen causes great jubilation and energy within the user. The vasiseing pollen, more commonly called orange spice or simply orange, is highly addictive. Heavy users become dependent on the substance and can eventually lose their lives to the stuff.


Orange spice was first discovered growing wild in the Paxa Forest of Parian by soldiers in The Emperor’s Military. They found that after smelling the vasiseing flowers their mood was enhanced and their movements and reflexes were quicker. They harvested the flowers to share with their platoon and soon the entire nation became aware of the wonderful effects of orange spice. They figured the source of the effect was the flower’s pollen and so they began harvesting the substance. Farms were erected and Parian’s merchants began selling orange spice over seas.

It soon became clear orange spice had some terrible side effects. Many users developed a dangerous dependency which made them spend all their earnings on the drug. As these users ran out of money they began to live in squalor and turn to crime to feed their addictions. Others would take too much of the drug and overdose, which has a variety of random effects including death.

As these effects became clear the drug was outlawed in Findalay. Initially, Parian was upset with these developments as the country was the main supplier of orange spice, but as its own government’s eyes became open to the effects on their people, the emperor outlawed the drug as well.

In many ways this action was too little, too late. The trade was established and addicts created. Soon an international black market for the stuff was created. Today this same illegal market exists, bigger and more profitable than ever.

Orange Spice Cartels

The orange spice trade is now controlled by cartels small and large. Each cartel is a competing corporation in a business with no ethics and ruthless tactics. They are at war with law enforcement and each other.

At the head of each cartel is a boss. Each boss has his lieutenants who are responsible for a territory. They supervise the growers, smugglers, hitmen, and falcons within a given region, which could be as big as an entire country for larger cartels or as little as a city neighborhood for the smaller cartels. Cartels also have assets, folks not on the full-time payroll and outside the organization, but who can be tapped for a specific task when the need arises.

  • Growers – These are the people who grow the vasiseing flowers and harvest the pollen. They often have to farm in secret fields deep in the forests, or magically enhanced greenhouses so their activities are kept private. They keep these areas well-guarded with soldiers, animals, and traps. Most growers are based in Parian, but there are a few grow operations in Findalay and now Verda.
  • Smugglers – The most creative and charismatic people of the orange spice trade are the smugglers. They have to keep coming up with original ways to hide the orange from law enforcement and they must be bold enough to lie, bribe, and murder (when necessary) to keep from getting caught.
  • Hitmen – Kidnaps, thefts, extortion, assassinations, and all-out wars are the specialties of the cartels’ hitmen. They deal with problems in the most violent ways possible. Publicly when the cartels want to send a message, quietly when they don’t.
  • Falcons – The lowest level operatives of the cartels are also some of the most important. The eyes and ears on the street, falcons monitor and report the activities of law enforcement and rival cartels while serving as street dealers. Falcons are the merchants selling the drug to individuals.
  • Assets – Anyone could be a cartel asset, a bribed city watch sergeant looking the other way when a huge shipment arrives, a merchant with a kidnapped daughter allowing a smuggler to use his ship, or a politician being blackmailed into pardoning a group of thugs. Assets are manipulated by the cartel because of their job or position within a society. Usually a bribe is the first way a cartel will try to manipulate a target, then intimidation, blackmail, kidnapping, and violence come into play. It can be difficult to not give into the cartels’ demands. Even the smaller organizations tend to have assets in law enforcement and government, so there are few people one can turn to for help if a cartel comes knocking.

One of the largest cartels is the Rainbow Dragons, led by boss Juong Meral and based in Parian, but operating everywhere. They are rivaled by Sunset’s Children, another large Parian cartel led by boss Kerta Fernnath. In Aeranore, a small cartel called No Trace has gained some infamy as they have begun expanding into Taliana.

The cartels have begun moving into Verda, where the lawless land allows them to easily sell and transport orange spice. They have had success addicting colonists and the folk of the tribes at first, but the people of Verda have begun to wise up and many are wary of those peddling the stuff.

Effects of Orange Spice

Orange spice is a stimulant. It makes users faster and full of life, but leaves them feeling immensely down once the effect wears off. A user can snort the drug directly, absorb it through their tongue, or smoke it in a paper or pipe. The going price for a hit (or one dose) of orange spice is usually around 1gp.

One hit of orange spice grants users one extra action during their turn for the next hour. After the initial effect wears off, a secondary effect kicks in. Users must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. Users who fail the save are poisoned for the next 8 hours. Users who save are poisoned for 1 hour. The poisoned condition cannot be removed in any way, but it can be delayed by taking a second hit of orange spice, however the target risks overdosing (see below).

Once the orange spice’s secondary effect wears off, targets must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or become addicted. Each time a creature makes this saving throw within 1 month of the last time it made another Wisdom saving throw to avoid becoming addicted to orange spice, the DC increases by 1.

Addicted creatures have a difficult time functioning without orange spice. When they aren’t using, addicted creatures are considered poisoned and need to use just to function normally. An addicted creature needs one hit to function without the poisoned effect for 1 hour and two hits to feel the effects of the orange spice outlined above. A creature who takes two hits of orange spice at one time has disadvantage on the Constitution saving throw made when the orange spice’s effects wear off. A creature can detox to lose their addicted condition, but they must not use orange spice for a month.

A creature who takes orange spice twice in a day must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or overdose. For every use of orange spice after the second, the DC increases by 1. When a creature overdoses, roll on the chart below to see the effect of the overdose.

d20 Effect
1 Creature dies
2 – 4 Creature is unconscious for the next 8 hours
5 – 7 Creature is paralyzed for the next 8 hours
8 – 10 Creature is blinded for the next 8 hours
11 – 13 Creature is deafened for the next 8 hours
14 – 16 Creature becomes frightened of another creature of the DMs choosing for the next 8 hours
17 – 19 Creature cannot stand and is prone for the next 8 hours
20 Creature considers all other creatures it can see enemies and attacks for the next 8 hours

PDF Time!

So now that I’ve got a new module for addiction out there, you MIGHT want it for your game. If you do, there’s a free PDF in the link below and the same document will live forever on the Free Game Resources section of this site along with tons of other D&D fifth edition rules modules, backgrounds, monsters, spells, magic items, and more.

Orange Spice and Addiction Rules Module

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 have a friend who warned me after my second blog post that involving my players too much in the creation of my world was bad news. “Players will tell you what they want, but they have no idea really.” I’m delighted to report that I think this friend, great as he is, was incorrect.

Sitting down to create a campaign guide is no small feat and I couldn’t do it without the help of my friends and all you folk commenting on the blog. My players in particular have done a ton of work, helping me playtest and revise the various mechanics I’ve created. They are world builders and architects with me every step of the way. It’s thanks to suggestions and direct contributions from my players that I was able to create rules for naval combat and firearms. Not to mention my players helped create adventure sites via the Well of Heroes and suggested I create the Explorers’ Guild and The Society of Seekers.

Well I just read through a whole bunch of character backstories, some less than a page of bullet points, others 33 pages single-spaced. Now I have a lot more story material with which to play!

Encouraging Players to Create

Right now all my players have access to a rough manuscript version of the Exploration Age Campaign Guide. While I asked them to help edit the book, I also invited them to create their own cities, adventure sites, and whatever else they wanted to bring into the world. After all, the book isn’t close to being published and the earliest we may see any kind of OGL is December, and even then the launch wouldn’t be until 2015. So anything they add at this point I can actually add to the book itself. That’s pretty cool! Even if we did have a published book though, or we were playing in a setting someone else created, like Dark Sun, I would still invite my players to do this. These guys are doing the work for me and everything they create is a new and interesting story hook!

I suggest you do the same. I ask all my players for a backstory. The least I can do is let them write what they want within the themes of the setting. Writing a backstory should be fun, not homework. I don’t give them any restrictions in page count or format and I encourage them to let their imaginations run wild.

Usually, my players still clear anything major with me before they cement it into their backstories. I’m very cool with this, but it’s a courtesy, not a requirement. When they do ask about something I always use that old improv trick of saying, “Yes, and…” If you don’t know the concept, essentially when a player offers you an idea you say yes and build on the idea so it works within your setting.

I’d now like to give you a look at a few of the things my players brought to Exploration Age.

City of Autumn

My friend and frequent Round Table panelist Andrew was writing the backstory for his Archfey Pact Human Warlock, Nightshade, when he asked me if he could create a a city in the predominantly elf and halfling country of Taliana where Nightshade was raised. His thought was to create a city which spanned two sides of a major river in a forest. I thought that sounded interesting, so I said yes.

It doesn’t stop there though. Andrew also wanted to create Nightshade’s Archfey patron. He knew of the Summer and Winter courts in the Feywild, but wanted to know why it was more difficult to find information on the Autumn court. I told him I had never seen it fleshed out and so he took it upon himself to detail the Autumn Court and its queen, his patron, Messia. So not only did I get a city out of the deal, I also got a whole Feywild court detailed, which gives me plenty of adventure ideas and hooks for Nightshade as well as the rest of the party. Take a look at the description of Siannodel from the Exploration Age Campaign Guide.

For your reference.

For your reference. Note: Siannodel has not been added to the map yet!


Taliana’s City of Autumn sits on both sides of the Vumba River on Vacurion Bay. The city itself sits in an enormous maple grove and is most beautiful during the Autumn season when all the trees are changing and the river runs calmly. Twisting bridges made of orange, red, and yellow maple leaves held together by magic bring both sides of the city together. Perhaps this is the reason the city is favored by Messia, the Archfey queen of the Autumn Court. Since lumber is the city’s main trade, Messia is honored by the lumberjacks who try to make a point of planting trees each year to replace the ones they cut down, for fear of losing Messia’s favor. During the Autumn sacrifices are made and feasts are held in Messia’s honor and in exchange the city is warded to keep undead, vermin, and evil outsiders from entering Siannodel’s city limits. Giant vermin from the Arachna War are something the people of Siannodel are worried about these days, so it is important they keep Messia happy. Unfortunately, there is an indication that the city could be falling out of the Autumn queen’s good graces.

Siannodel used to always have a guardian, a champion warlock of Messia who would watch over the city and surrounding forest. However, it has been more than a century since Messia made a pact and the folk of the city whisper their corrupt ruling council is causing them to fall out of Messia’s favor. Heian Zeïtan, a longstanding council member, has recently begun throwing more gold around than it seems he takes in. He claims it is the inheritance of a distant relative, but others are not so sure. Siannodel did not participate as much as it could have during The Fourth Great War, and some whisper he was paid by enemy forces to keep Siannodel out of the fight as much as possible.

Because of its position on the on Vacurion Bay, Siannodel is a usually a stop for merchants and adventurers on their way to other parts of Findalay or Verda. As such, the city has thriving local blacksmiths, shipwrights, carpenters, artisans, and hospitality establishments.

Just Sign Here

Sometimes players create a magic item in their backgrounds. It might be a lost family sword or a rumored suit of armor which can resist the breath weapon of the dragon which destroyed a PC’s hometown. There are some players who think way outside the box and give you a unique artifact to put into your setting. My friend John gave me the background for Oruk, the half-orc wizard, and included in his history was an (evil) artifact called The Death Note Scroll (and yep, it’s that on the nose). Essentially, this artifact allows a user to write the name of any living creature on the scroll, the creature then dies, and the scroll teleports away to a new unknown location. This note plays a huge part in Oruk’s history, though I didn’t get more specifics than this, so I’d have to create the mechanics myself. Now, I’d like to present to you the story and game mechanics for The Death Note Scroll.

The Death Note Scroll

Wondrous item, artifact

Made from the skin of a long-forgotten, dead archdevil, by a victorious demon prince in the Blood War, The Death Note Scroll still hungers for souls. Every time a new name is written on the scroll, a tiny black diamond appears next to it, holding the name bearer’s soul inside. The scroll never runs out of space, for every time a name is added it stretches and grows a little. The Death Note Scroll is constantly hungry and those who bear it feel a strong urge to add to it the name of their closest foe, annoyance, or even friendly rival. In the black of midnight each night the scroll whispers aloud the names on the scroll in a voice as dry as forgotten paper. It often appears in an unremarkable black case, but when heated by flame, red Abyssal script appears on the outside, telling of a powerful gift within.

Once a name is written on The Death Note Scroll, the creature who’s name is written dies if they have less than 200 hit points. Their soul is trapped in the diamond which appears next to their name and they cannot be revived or brought back in anyway, unless The Death Note Scroll is destroyed. Once a name is added to the scroll, it teleports away to a random location (DM’s choice).

The Death Note Scroll is forged by powerful demonic magic and can only be destroyed by an archdevil or demon prince. Courting the favor of these beings is nigh impossible and those who do, must be prepared to give up much.

I Can’t Sleep

Sometimes players get a little more complicated than creating a city or magic item for your campaign world. My player Ray has a sorcerer PC, Ezra, who at times cannot sleep (he’s rather troubled). Ray took his PC and tied his background into that of Andrew’s Nightshade. Both have the favor of Messia, the queen of the Autumn Court. So sometimes Ezra is able to sleep soundly, for Messia takes pity on him and comforts him in his sleep.

Ray wanted to create an insomnia system which would put him at a disadvantage on the nights he did not sleep, but give him a slight edge on the night’s Messia, a powerful Archfey, showed up to help him sleep. I told him I would check it out to make sure it wasn’t giving him a huge advantage, and if it all looked kosher, we’d playtest the mechanic. Here’s what Ray created. Nice work!

Rules Module: Spellcaster Insomnia

You have trouble sleeping. Every time you take an extended rest, roll on the chart for the results below.

d10 Effect
1 You cannot sleep. You gain no healing benefits from an extended rest, though for the purposes of spell casting, you have taken an extended rest.
2 You have a half night of very troubled sleep. Others can hear you cry out at terrible dreams. You only regain half of the hit dice and HP that you would normally recover.
3 – 4 You have a poor night’s sleep. You recover one fewer hit die and two fewer HP (this increases to 2 and 5, respectively, at 10th level) than you would otherwise recover.
5 – 9 Messia (or a different other-worldly force) sends a projection of herself to comfort you until you are asleep. You gain all the benefits of your extended rest.
10 Messia (or different other-worldly force) comes in person to comfort you as you sleep (often only for a moment and after you have already passed into a shaky slumber). You gain all the benefits of an extended rest and wake up with 5 temp HP (this increases to 10 at 10th level).

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!