Posts Tagged ‘The Damned Lands’

Several months ago I posted about the superpowers creatures can gain by surviving an extended stay in The Damned Lands. The Damned Lands, of course, are a psionically irradiated wasteland. The warped reality in The Damned Lands can drive a person mad, but managing to survive and resist the madness during an extended stay in the area comes with its own rewards. The psionic energy of the place can warp creatures’ anatomy and physiology granting them powers like the ability to fly or become invisible.

The Damned Lands (dark gray hexes are uncharted territory)

The Damned Lands (dark gray hexes are uncharted territory)

Well the rules I’d previously created for The Damned Land powers were based on the information in the final D&D Next playtest packet. We now have the official fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons rules, and so I’ve updated those rules. The update for superpowers are based on the rules for blessings in chapter 7 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. I’m not calling these blessings though, since they aren’t granted by gods. Take a look at the excerpt from the upcoming Exploration Age Campaign Guide below.

Madness in The Damned Lands

As adventurers spend more time in The Damned Lands, they risk becoming infected with madness. Every ten days straight spent in The Damned Lands, a creature must succeed on a DC 10 Wisdom saving throw or contract a form of indefinite madness (see chapter 8 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide). For consecutive day beyond the first spent in The Damned Lands, the DC for the saving throw increases by 1, since the warping psionic energies become more and more difficult to resist.

If the creature fails this saving throw by 5 or more, in addition to gaining a form of indefinite madness, its Intelligence score is reduced 2, the DM takes control of the character, and if it ever leaves the borders of The Damned Lands it dies.

Damned Superpowers

There are two types of superpowers that can be acquired by staying within the borders of The Damned Lands, minor and major. Any creature who survives 15 continuous days or longer in The Damned Lands has a chance to acquire a minor power. The DM may choose or roll on the table below to grant a creature a power.

Any creature who survives 20 continuous days or longer in The Damned Lands has a chance to acquire a major power. The DM may choose or roll on the table below to grant a creature a power.

Minor Powers

Blindsight. You gain 5-foot blindsight.

Disguise Self. As an action you can cast disguise self. The save DC for this spell is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.

Beast Speech. You can speak to and understand beasts.

Charm Person. As an action you can cast charm person. The save DC for this spell is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.

Darkvision. You gain 60-foot darkvision. If you already have darkvision, add 60 feet to its range.

Detect Magic. As an action you can cast detect magic.

Fear. As an action you can cast fear. The save DC for this spell is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier. You must complete a long rest before you can use this ability again.

Feather Fall. You can cast the feather fall spell at-will.

Increased Speed. Your walking speed increases 5 feet.

Inner Healing. As an action you regain a number of hit points equal to your Constitution score. You must complete a long rest before you can use this ability again.

Minor Telekinesis. As an action you can move an unattended object within 30 feet weighing 20 lbs. or less 30 feet in any direction. If the object moves more than 30 feet away from you, it falls.

Misty Step. As a bonus action you can cast misty step. You must complete a short or long rest before you can use this ability again.

Object Teleportation. As an action you can teleport an object you hold 50 feet (this includes into the free hand of another person).

Psychic Claws. As a bonus action you grow psychic claws from you hands that count as light finesse weapons which deal 1d6 psychic damage. You are proficient with these claws and can dismiss them as a bonus action.

Psychic Knives. As part of an attach can create psychic knives which count as light finesse weapons and deal 1d4 psychic damage. These knives can be thrown (range 20/60) and disappear at the end of your turn.

Pyrokinesis. As an action you can cause an unattended flammable object within 30 feet to catch fire.

Sanctuary. As an action you can cast sanctuary on yourself. The save DC for this spell is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.

Telepathy. You can communicate telepathically with any creature within 30 feet of you which can understand a language.

Web. As an action you can cast web. The save DC for this spell is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier. You must complete a short or long rest before you can use this ability again.

Zone of Truth. As an action you can cast zone of truth. The save DC for this spell is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier. You must complete a short or long rest before you can use this ability again.

Major Powers

Amphibious. You are able to breathe underwater and gain a 30-foot swim speed.

Blink. As an action you can cast the blink spell.

Dispel Magic. As an action you can cast dispel magic. Your spellcasting ability for the purposes of this power is Charisma.

Detect Thoughts. As an action you can cast detect thoughts. The save DC for this spell is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.

Flight. You gain a 60-foot fly speed.

Gifted Misty Step. As a bonus action you can cast misty step.

Invisibility. As an action you can cast the improved invisibility spell.

Invulnerability. You resist bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

Magic Resistance. You gain advantage on saving throws against magical effects.

Major Image. As an action you can cast major image. The save DC for this spell is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.

Polymorph. As an action you can cast polymorph. The save DC for this spell is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Charisma modifier.

Psychic Pet. As an action you summon a psychic creature which has the same statistics as a Tyrannosaurus rex, except that all of its attacks deal psychic damage. The creature is under your control and takes only actions you order, though it will defend itself if attacked. You must complete a short or long rest before you can use this ability again.

Regeneration. At the start of your turn as long as you have at least 1 hit point remaining, you regain 5 hit points.

Resurrection. You can cast resurrection without expending any material components. You must complete a long rest before you can use this ability again.

Super Intelligence. Your Intelligence score becomes 26.

Super Speed.  Your walking speed is tripled.

Super Strength. Your Strength score becomes 26.

Telekinesis. As an action you can cast telekinesis.

Time Stop. As an action you can cast time stop. You must complete a long rest before you can use this ability again.

Tunneler. You gain a burrow speed equal to your walking speed, 60-foot tremorsense, and 30-foot blindsight.

Power Tables
d20 Minor Power
1 Blindsight
2 Disguise self
3 Beast speech
4 Charm person
5 Darkvision
6 Detect magic
7 Fear
8 Feather fall
9 Increased speed
10 Inner healing
11 Minor telekinesis
12 Misty step
13 Object teleportation
14 Psychic claws
15 Psychic knives
16 Pyrokinesis
17 Sanctuary
18 Telepathy
19 Web
20 Zone of truth
d20 Major Powers
1 Amphibious
2 Blink
3 Dispel magic
4 Detect thoughts
5 Flight
6 Gifted misty step
7 Invisibility
8 Invulnerability
9 Magic resistance
10 Major image
11 Polymorph
12 Psychic pet
13 Regeneration
14 Resurrection
15 Super intelligence
16 Super speed
17 Super strength
18 Telekinesis
19 Time stop
20 Tunneler

PDFs!

You probably knew I wouldn’t leave you without a PDF. All the information above is in a juicy download for you below and on the Free Game Resources section of this site. You can use these superpowers as is or plug them into your game as blessings per the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

Note: These superpowers are game-changers that make PCs into superheroes, so use at your own risk.

Madness and Powers in The Damned Lands

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A few months ago (wow, has it already been months?) I wrote about The Damned Lands – an unexplored area of land psionicly irradiated in some unknown incident that was ripe for exploration. Staying within The Damned Lands for too long is harmful as there is a creeping disease, The Madness, which works its way into one’s mind and heart, but leaving The Damned Lands too soon robs a person of its greatest reward – superpowers. Take a look at this excerpt from the Exploration Age Campaign Guide. Let me know if you think the risk/reward balance is correct here.

Note: Every month in Exploration Age is exactly 30 days. None of this 31 sometimes and 28 once a month, except for every four years (looking at you, February).

The Damned Lands (dark gray hexes are uncharted territory)

The Damned Lands (dark gray hexes are uncharted territory)

The Madness

Also, the only thing worse than an extended stay in The Damned Lands!

As adventurers spend more time in The Damned Lands, they risk becoming infected with The Madness. Every ten days straight spent in The Damned Lands, a creature must make a successful DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or contract The Madness. For every ten days beyond the first spent in The Damned Lands, the DC for the saving throw increases by 1, since The Madness becomes more difficult to resist as more time is spent in The Damned Lands.

Once a creature is infected with The Madness, roll on the table below to see how it specifically is affected.

1d4 Effect
1 Target abhors all life except for itself. It attacks and kills any living creature it can sense.
2 Target is called by a mysterious force toward the center of The Damned Lands. Anything that gets in its way or tries to stop it is immediately attacked.
3 Target weeps uncontrollably and sits down. It will not eat or drink, but only sit and cry. Anyone who tries to move or comfort the creature is attacked until they leave the creature alone.
4 Target develops a taste for the flesh of humanoids. It hunts and kills other humanoids whenever it is hungry. The target refuses to eat anything else.

It is advised that if a PC become infected the GM and player have a conversation about what this means and possibly have the GM take control of the character.

There is currently only one known cure for The Madness (though there may be others out there). An infected creature must be killed, have its body burnt to complete ashes or dissolved in acid, and then brought back to life via true resurrection spell. Doing this cures The Madness, however the process is expensive and also removes any psionic abilities the infected acquired from long-term stay in The Damned Lands.

Psionic Abilities

It can’t buy everything… but it comes close!

There are two types of psionic abilities that can be acquired by staying within the borders of The Damned Lands, minor and major. Any creature who survives a continuous month or longer in The Damned Lands has a chance (at the GM’s discretion) to acquire a minor ability. The GM may choose or roll on the table below to grant a creature a power.

1d20 Effect
1 You can use detect magic as an action at-will
2 You can speak telepathically with any creature who has language within 30 feet
3 You can move an unattended object within 30 feet weighing 20 lbs. or less 30 feet in any direction as an action.
4 You can cause an unattended flammable object within 30 feet to catch fire as an action.
5 You can teleport an object being held 50 feet (this includes into the hands of another person) as an action.
6 You can teleport yourself 25 feet as a move. You must rest before doing so again.
7 You can heal yourself once per day an amount equal to your Constitution score as an action.
8 You gain darkvision out to 60 feet. If you already have darkvision, you now see in color in the dark.
9 You can speak with animals per the spell at-will.
10 You can use disguise self per the spell at-will. (DC to resist equals 8 + Charisma modifier + proficiency.)
11 You can create psychic claws which are light finesse weapons which deal 1d6 psychic damage. You are proficient with these claws.
12 You gain blindsight out to 5 feet.
13 For one hour per day, you can increase your speed 10 feet.
14 You can use the feather fall spell at-will.
15 You can use entangle at-will. (DC to resist equals 8 + Charisma modifier + proficiency.)
16 You can use zone of truth per the spell. You must rest before doing so again. (DC to resist equals 8 + Charisma modifier + proficiency.)
17 You can throw psychic knives which act as daggers and deal 1d4 psychic damage.
18 You can create a psychic wall around yourself which acts as the sanctuary spell. (DC to resist equals 8 + Charisma modifier + proficiency.)
19 You can use charm person per the spell. You must rest before doing so again. (DC to resist equals 8 + Charisma modifier + proficiency.)
20 You can use cause fear per the spell. You must rest before doing so again. (DC to resist equals 8 + Charisma modifier + proficiency.)

Any creature who survives a continuous three months or longer in The Damned Lands has a chance (at the GM’s discretion) to acquire a major ability. The GM may choose or roll on the table below to grant a creature a power.

1d20 Effect
1 You gain a fly speed of 60 feet.
2 As an action you can become invisible at-will.
3 You regenerate 5 HP at the start of your turn. If you lose consciousness, you lose your psionic focus and cannot regenerate until you regain consciousness.
4 Your speed is tripled.
5 As an action you can summon a psychic pet which has the same statistics as a triceratops. You may only summon one creature at a time. The creature disappears once reduced to 0 HP. You must rest before using this ability again.
6 As an action you can read a creature’s mind. They are allowed a Wisdom saving throw (DC equals 8 + Charisma modifier + proficiency). If the saving throw succeeds you cannot try to read the creature’s mind for another 24 hours. The target does not know you are reading it’s thoughts unless it has magic or psionic means of detection.
7 You can breathe underwater and gain a swim speed equal to your own.
8 You gain a burrow speed equal to your own, tremor sense out to 60 feet, and blindsight out to 30 feet.
9 You gain advantage on saving throws against magical effects.
10 You can blink in and out of the ethereal plane as per the blink spell. You can activate this ability as an action at-will.
11 You can teleport 15 feet as a move.
12 As an action you can use dispel magic at-will. If you have no magic ability modifier, it equals your proficiency plus your Charisma modifier.
13 You can use time stop. You must before you use this ability again.
14 Once per day you can cast true resurrection without any material components.
15 Once per day you can use foresight on yourself.
16 As an action you can create a major image at-will. (DC equals 8 + Charisma modifier + proficiency.)
17 You can use antimagic field. You must rest before you use this ability again.
18 You can use telekinesis per the spell at-will.
19 Your Strength becomes 26.
20 Your Intelligence becomes 26.

Evaluation

So you can see the idea here – PCs can get powers for surviving in The Damned Lands if their GM allows, but they have to risk their sanity and make increasingly difficult Wisdom saving throws, not to mention all of the horrific monsters and environmental hazards of The Damned Lands. Let me know if this all makes sense to you. Did I leave your favorite power off the list? Tell me! I want to make The Damned Lands worth it!

Poll Time!

So I know a lot of you have already taken this poll, but if you haven’t please take 20 seconds and read the one question and answer below, even if the answer is “No, I hate your stupid blog.” I’m making an Exploration Age Campaign Guide (release date sometime 2015 once the Wizard’s OGL is released) and I’m interested to see if people would actually want that. Thanks!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast 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!

All right, it’s time to talk about a piece of real estate on Findalay that is near and dear to my heart – The Damned Lands. That brilliant little piece of world that is unexplored on the map. We can tell from its name, The Damned Lands, that things are… well, pretty bad. But what exactly is going on over there?

Keep the Mystery Alive

So there’s a few problems with writing about The Damned Lands, namely they’re supposed to be unexplored and mysterious so I want to leave a majority of their description to the imagination. Why do this? Well for one thing, Exploration Age needs some areas to be explored. I like the idea of having Verda be the habitable, resource rich area that has new life. It’s wondrous and beautiful as well as dangerous and exciting. The Damned Lands are a different kind of exploration – grueling, horrific, and alien. The rewards here need to be potentially even greater than in Verda to get adventurers to consider entering The Damned Lands. Mystery is a big part of the atmosphere and legend of The Damned Lands. It will help keep the frightful anticipation levels up while traveling there and keep players on their toes while adventuring in its depths.

However, enticement is also a big part of mystery. You need to have some information in order to make an area feel intriguing. For instance, many of us have played the popular childhood game Bloody Mary just to see what would happen. We played this game even though the best case scenario was nothing happened and the worst case scenario was an evil, psychopathic ghost of Queen Mary appeared and devoured your soul. Someone really should have done a cost benefit analysis there, but because rumor had it other kids had successfully invoked Mary, you went and tried it just to see what would happen. The danger of The Damned Lands will be enough to entice some.

When it comes to experimentation and risk-taking, I find many players are more cautious with the lives of their characters than they were with their own real lives when they were kids. This actually makes sense. Most PCs are adults and as adults, most of us don’t play Bloody Mary because we’re aware that at best and definitely-most-likely,  it will yield no result and waste our precious time while at worst and probably not-going-to-happen we lose our soul. So we need to give just a little more information about The Damned Lands and that is – there’s some pretty cool treasures down there… and some people who spend a lot of time in The Damned Lands develop special powers.

The Other Guys

So there’s another issue with The Damned Lands. The idea of crazy, dangerous wastelands is not breaking new ground in D&D campaign settings. Eberron has The Mournland and Forgotten Realms has the Dread Ring. Heck, all of Dark Sun’s Athas is a horrific wasteland. I’m trying to be somewhat original here, but I must admit that the idea for The Damned Lands is stolen from these places.

So what makes this place different? Well, a few things as you’ll see in the description below, however I’ll point out a big one here. The Damned Lands have always been a mystery and yet the people of Findalay have always known they were there. Constantly drawing curious and fearful eyes, these lands have never had another name. They were always The Damned Lands and have forever been a mystery.

Another thing that makes The Damned Lands different is the crushing madness that can grip anyone who stays within its borders for too long. Known simply as The Madness, there is a real, palpable, nigh incurable insanity that can grip all but the strongest minds who choose to venture there. The Madness usually takes hold before any sign of developing a special power occurs, so often these powers come to an individual at the price of their sanity. Thus The Damned Lands have a few residents who once desired powers and are now broken and full of dangerous psionic energy waiting to be unleashed.

What Do We Know

More than half a million years before the start of the campaign, it is believe that within The Damned Lands there existed a peaceful race of advanced psionic beings. This mysterious race of people was able to erect a psionic shield around their entire nation which kept out the aberrants. The aberrants and dragons were so busy with their own war, that they paid the isolationist race very little attention as they tried to kill one another.

Then in roughly 300,000 BF the psionic shield was dropped and the entire country glowed hot with energy for hundreds of thousands of years. Even at night The Damned Lands could be seen glowing in the distance beyond The Deep Orc Mountains. Any who tried to make their way beyond The Damned Lands’ borders quickly became violently ill and died, their bodies cooked in harsh burns from the strangely irradiated landscape. The Damned Lands earned their name and the people of Findalay learned to respect that and steer clear.

Slowly, overtime, the glow of The Damned Lands began to soften and cool. Strange creatures, unlike any ever seen with weird psionic abilities began to appear in The Deep Orc Mountains. Then as the lands began to lose their glow altogether, animals and creatures resembling those from Canus’ modern day Material Plane began appearing with strange mutations and psionic powers. They were often crazed and violent.

Once The Damned Lands cooled, Findalayans began to explore the region cautiously. That’s when they began to discover ancient ruins of this once great civilization and its many unique treasures. Powerful magic items, certainly, but also rare bioorganic items that meld with an individual’s mind and body to grant him or her unique powers. They seemed to do everything from help with mundane chores and hobbies (such as a wrist implant which can make ones hands resistant to heat while cooking or an ocular implant that allows one to better appreciate the details of sculpting) to rarer more powerful implants (granting abilities such as growing detachable, projectile spikes out of one’s arm or a prehensile tail to aid in climbing).

Stranger still, when an extended period of time was spent in The Damned Lands, the folk of Canus seemed to unlock strange, psionic abilities within themselves. These abilities included mind-reading, telekinetic powers, flight, enhanced speed, enhanced strength, mind-control, regenerative properties, the list goes on and on. The more time spent in The Damned Lands, the more powerful these abilities seemed to become. However, the more time spent in The Damned Lands, the harder The Madness becomes to resist.

And that’s the big problem with exploring The Damned Lands. The Madness grips an individual like a vice, squeezing slowly and constantly until he or she cannot get free of its grasp. Not to mention the strange monsters that roam The Damned Lands infected with The Madness and the freakish weather effects that are harsher than anything one might experience anywhere else in Canus. The treasures above are difficult to come by – even those most seasoned adventurer is far more likely to find death or insanity than wealth and power. And considering the time it takes to develop a special psionic ability within The Damned Lands borders, it’s nearly impossible to gain a power without first meeting one’s doom.

Still, isn’t it tempting…

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!