Friday, December 31, 2021

Spell - Consume Memories

We've discussed the value we place in spells like Deep Sleep that offer intriguing scenarios along with the heavy mechanical lifting behind them. The 6th level necromancy spell Consume Memories offers something similar, though not so much that we would consider it a DM spell. That being said, it did create an interesting scenario for us at our brewing table; what school does this spell belong to!? Some of you may see 'psychic damage' and 'learn information' in the spell description and question why this isn't a divination spell. Let's take a look at what this spell does, and then explain why the end product landed itself within the school of necromancy.

The spell takes an action to cast, allowing the target to try and eat the memories of a target creature within 60 feet of the caster. The target takes 4d6 necrotic damage right off the bat for watching you bite into a rotten piece of fruit, and you regain temporary hit points equal to the damage dealt. Guaranteed damage is pretty par for the course when trading off one of your valuable 6+ level spell slots, and the temporary hit points make this spell a flavorful and versatile option in dangerous situations. But we aren't at the meat of this spell yet; after this initial effect, the target makes an Intelligence saving throw. On a failed save, they take 6d10 psychic damage and become stunned for a minute or until they can succeed a subsequent saving throw. Then comes the fun part; the DM gets to choose a core memory that you eat.  You learn this memory, and they forget it until it's restored by higher-level magic.

So why is this nefarious little spell in the school of necromancy instead of divination? Well, we actually aren't totally unanimous on this one! The rules for what a spell needs to be in the school of necromancy aren't clearly defined, which is where the problem ultimately lies. Many necromancy spells deal with manipulating life force; Animate Dead, Revivify, Spirit Shroud, etc. You also have a lot of spells dealing with draining and stealing; Vampiric Touch and Blight are good examples. But then there are a good number of spells that don't really fit these criteria either; spells that are just kind of mean, like Bestow Curse, Contagion, Eyebite, the list goes on. So, what's the one universal rule? If a spell is icky enough and generally fits into these themes, it deserves to be called a necromancy spell. Not everyone liked this decision, but we ultimately voted to keep the spell as necromancy, seeing it as a spell with cruel and twisted flavor that played well into the necrotic theme of stealing the essence of others. And with the essence being memories, we felt this was more interesting as a necromancy spell than a divination spell. We hope you've enjoyed this discussion as to what a necromancy spell even is, and we'll see you next time!

dnd 5e 6th level necromancy spell homebrew consume memories

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Monster - Clockwork Golem

As we approach the end of another year, many of us seem to feel the passage of time more heavily than other times of year. Part of the fun of roleplaying is to escape this ennui, but if you've ever wanted to crush your players' characters under the overpowering weight of time, then we now have the perfect monster for your next encounter.

The clockwork golem is not just named for its little gears; an automaton with the ability to alter time, it makes itself faster and slippery-er-er than its larger golem cousins, and its attacks leave its victims briefly trapped in mystical torpor. Despite an unassuming appearance, this golem can steamroll a party that gets caught in the golem's slow effect too often, as the golem zips across the battlefield without a care in the world.

After the golem finishes making the party feel old and feeble, it may be best to give them a more cheerful encounter, like this guy who likes making costumes with his friends, or this old lady devoted to self-improvement through body-positivity. Or, if you really want to just send your players directly from your table to therapy, introduce them to some true abominations to really drive the point home.

We hope you're enjoying the holidays so far, and that you're as excited for the new year as we are!

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Friday, December 24, 2021

Magic Item - Unblinking Eye

On the day before Christmas, we present you and your party with a special gift to unwrap underneath the tree...the Unblinking Eye! A thoughtful gift, if you ask us. After all, you never know when you'll need an extra eye, but when you need it, you'll really need it. Besides, this ain't any plain old eye you would hastily pick up at the pharmacy on your way to the Secret Santa you forgot about. This one comes with some pretty insightful perks!

The Unblinking Eye is a rare magic item requiring attunement, which involves you sticking the eye into a free eye socket. If you don't have the space, go ahead and free some up; it'll be worth your while! While this eye is in your socket you're ever vigilant to danger, giving you advantage on initiative rolls and immunity to being surprised! And if you spend 10 minutes meditating with this eye, you can cast the clairvoyance spell for free. Unblinking and all-seeing!

This isn't our first dip into prosthetics and body enhancement in DnD; just take a look at Biomechanic and Cloak of Arms. We like the questions that it brings up for your character; what are they willing to put themselves through to become stronger? This item gives you access to some powerful utility and protection, but at the cost of one of your eyes. Even if the change seems to be solely beneficial in the long term, it still raises the dramatic choice for a character that receives it; are you willing to gouge out the eye you were born with for a better one? Are you willing to take such a risk just for a leg up? We hope you enjoy this slightly morose gift, as well as your holidays, and we will see you later!

5e unblinking eye horror rare magic item clairvoyance eyeball

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Magic Items - Faded Relics

As many traumatized DMs already know, keeping a party balanced can be... difficult once they've been given only a few magic items. This issue goes triple for legendary items, but as we all know, legendary items are super cool. Caught between these two truths, what are we to do?

One possible answer is our offering for today; magic items that grow over time. Each of these items has charges, but instead of spending them to use the item's powers, the item slowly gains charges, and grows in potency at certain thresholds. The items are designed to strengthen in tandem with your players, so that you can give them a strange, interesting item at a relatively low level, and let them build up to a legendary artifact, rather than suffer the rebalancing nightmare of a fighter suddenly having a vorpal sword.

For this first batch, we've included a weapon and two different wondrous items, and while each build charges, they do so in different ways. While some of these may be best as a new sub-leveling system, like the penitent blade of thorns, others may be more fun as a puzzle in and of themselves. A party with an unidentified hungry coin pouch might get very paranoid as their gold starts disappearing, or, if they're wealthy and unlucky enough, they might accidentally make the pouch jump up a tier before they even know how to use it! 

These three are to some degree a proof of concept, so we hope they get you thinking. If you think of anything especially juicy, we'd love to hear about it here, or on Patreon! If we get more ideas, you'll definitely see more of these soon. Enjoy!

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Friday, December 17, 2021

Magic Item - Bile-Purifying Poison

Last week we released the Wondrous and Wacky Wishing Bones, an engaging set of consumable items, along with our position on consumable magic items. Just recently we also released the Siphoning Spear, a particularly sinister magical item. We have synthesized our philosophies on these magic items to bring you a rather spooky consumable item; one that requires subterfuge and wit to reap the full potential. And it happens to be the most popular of one-off items, being a potion. A particularly grotesque one at that.

The Bile-Purifying Poison is a rare 'potion' with some disturbing side effects on ingestion. A creature that drinks this potion must make a Constitution saving throw. If they succeed, they take some poison damage for your trouble of getting them to literally drink poison. If they fail things get a bit dicey for them, as they become poisoned and take poison damage every turn until they drop or are otherwise healed. But the fun doesn't stop there! A creature that dies with this potion in its belly has a tasty surprise for whoever pushes down on the protruding poisoned organ. Assuming said action is taken, the corpse retches a bright red liquid with blood viscosity, which can be used as a potion capable of healing an amount of d8s equal to the dead creature's Constitution modifier. 

We feel as though this item has a pretty menacing vibe to it; it turns its victim's insides into fruit punch. If you're trying to make your party feel uncomfortable about a tool at their disposal, this should get the job done. Beyond that, it's a very dynamic consumable item! Even though it's technically a single-use item, the creature that uses it has a lot of planning to put this toy at the center, and they get a lot of mileage off it! We hope you enjoy this healthy snack, and we'll see you next time!

5e Rare Potion Poison Horror of Healing

Monday, December 13, 2021

Barbarian Subclass - Path of the Executioner

Adventurers are the most dangerous sorts of people (mostly), and barbarians are the most deadly kind of adventurer (generally), and now, the most reliably murderous breed of barbarian is the Executioner (yes, definitely). The Path of the Executioner is extremely focused in that way; as professional headsmen, they are devoted entirely to thoroughly de-aliving their enemies. 

On top of the usual barbarian tricks, a raging executioner can deal extra damage to anyone already wounded once a turn. For the purposes of the archetype, 'wounded' is a generously broad category; a papercut or stubbed toe are all it takes for an executioner to get, at a minimum, an extra shortsword's worth of violence in every combat round. 

As an executioner matures, their taste for blood becomes more literal, and they gain new ways to chase and track anyone they've already begun to maybe start to kill. If you've ever wanted to play as a glorified shark with thumbs, then have we got the humanoid-bloodhound archetype for you. After all, what kind of a professional leaves anyone to tell the tale? If you wanted stories, you'd hire a bard.

Finally, once you've actually killed your target after 0.12 seconds, your expert technique (and low grade necromancy?) lets you draw new power from your victims, either to strengthen yourself, or to debilitate your next nearby target. That way, one poor splattered whoever will easily lead to another and another, until soon you'll be reducing entire platoons to a soup-like homogenate at astounding speeds. 

This barbarian is one of the most straightforward concepts we've done, but that just means there's all the more room for players to take it in unique directions. We've made sure it plays well, and the rest is open to you!

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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Magic Item - Wishing Bones

Consumable magic items are generally undervalued compared to their more flashy attunement counterparts. Attunement items naturally allow for more robust worldbuilding, mechanics, and flavor to accompany the item, as they possess inherent longevity and connections to established characters. However, this leaves a lot of room for a single magic item to completely take a PC to unexpected heights, throwing off an entire campaign's balance; you've heard the horror stories of DMs who hand their Barbarians the wrong Belt of Giant Strength a bit too soon. This problem does not exist within consumable magic items, a DM's close friend. Consumable items like the Potion of Luck offer interesting world-building and mechanical additions to a campaign without becoming a permanent balancing factor moving forward; a nice, uncomplicated, and potentially powerful gift for the players.

The Wondrous Wishing Bone is an uncommon consumable magic item that offers the engaging strategic question of when to use it, a (reasonably) underutilized mechanic in luck points, and a little friendly 'competition' between players over who actually gets to benefit from the item. Two creatures pull on the Wondrous Wishing Bone, each rolling 1d20 as they do so. The creature who rolls the highest has luck on their side for 24 hours, gaining a luck point that allows them to roll an additional 1d20 after rolling an ability check, attack roll, or saving throw. They can additionally reroll 1s, but beware! That good karma has to come from somewhere and in the case of the cursed Wacky Wishing Bones, that somewhere is the loser of the bone pull. The creature who loses the initial dice roll contest is cursed with bad luck at the expense of the winner's good luck for 24 hours, having to roll on a table of wacky unfortunate events any time they roll a 3 or lower on an ability check or attack roll! Unlucky!

This item offers fun and dynamic usage for a single-use consumable magic item, and that's why we enjoy it so much. DMs can find creative ways to naturally incorporate it into campaigns, such as having it be lootable from a roc's carcass or a diviner's lair. Once the players get their hands on it, they get a goofy and tide-turning tool that features prominently in a scene, maybe even an arc, and ceases to be a lingering factor that alters the entire flow of the game. We hope you have some wacky times with these wondrous wishbones, and we'll see you next time!

Monday, December 6, 2021

Content Expansion - Weapon Expert Feats

It's the start of another month, and that means we have more feats for you all to enjoy! This month, Julie has created some specialized weapon feats, each designed to give the dustier corners of the 5E armory some more love. There are a lot of pieces on the weaponry table that are so similar they just blend together, or else that just can't keep up with the 'optimal' weapons we all stick to. Each of these new feats set out to make some of these weapons stand out properly, or give a leg up to weapons that have always deserved better.

Blowgun Expert is perhaps the most niche of these, but takes one of the worst weapons in the game and gives it versatility and much needed stopping power. It allows a blowgun-toting character to craft specialized darts with different effects, and helps them stay hidden as they attack, both of which make it a great complement to your next assassin or any other more methodical combatant.

Flail Expert, meanwhile, adds much needed style to one of the most bland weapons in 5E. Never again will you have to worry that the flail is just a worse warhammer; the feat grants a scaling damage buff designed to simulate the growing momentum of a spinning flail, simultaneously making the weapon both more dangerous and much more unique. 

Net Fighter brings a classic gladiator fighting style to 5E, the nautically-themed retiarius or 'net-man'. Now you too can wade into the Colosseum with net and trident, and be confident that the net won't slow you down and the trident won't just be Spear_2.0. (Gladiatorial loincloth sold separately)

Thrown weapons have a Fighting Style, yes, but that wasn't enough for us, so in the tradition of such feats as Dual Wielder, Thrown Weapon Expert expands one the combat style even more. The feat is tailored carefully to fit with the existing thrown weapon options without redundancy, so you can take any or all of them without any wasted content.

Lastly, Whip Expert makes an already tricksy weapon even tricksy-er. Ever wanted to two-weapon fight with whips? We got you. Grappling with reach? Well, kinda, we're not that mad with power yet (although, you can fund our descent into the howling void here). Still, we expect the Indiana Jones fanboys among you will be very pleased with this one.

We're super excited to hear what you think of these, so let us know! Who knows, there may be more specialty weapons feats on the horizon, if we could only decide which weapons to write about. After all, we have a history of making new, weirder weapon options, so why would we stop now? If you have an underrated favorite, be very loud at us and it may be next!

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Friday, December 3, 2021

Spell - Deep Sleep

Our spells up to this point, such as Arctic Rush and Prepare for Adventure, have been largely centered around player usage. However, the place certain spells hold in a DM's toolbox should not be underrated. Many spells in DnD, such as Magic Mouth and Guards and Wards, seem designed in a manner that suits the needs of DM's as well as, if not better than, those of players. 'DM spells' often are not immediately useful in most combat or exploration scenarios, but instead offer interesting utility, situations, and environmental changes. These provide the mechanical guidelines for plot hooks, unforeseen complications, and even whole campaigns. 

Deep Sleep is what we would consider a 'DM spell'. This 4th level enchantment spell allows Bards, Sorcerers, and Wizards to force a target creature they've spoken to for a minute about the value of a particular item to make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the target accepts the item and dons it appropriately before falling into a deep slumber. While sleeping in this way, the creature is immune to all damage, does not need to eat, drink, or breathe, does not age, and their heart even stops beating as their body becomes cold. They remain asleep until the donned object, which cannot be removed while the creature is affected by this spell, has been destroyed, or until the duration of the spell ends.

This spell offers a lot for a DM in search of an interesting side quest or an unexpected development. Perhaps a distressed man beseeches the party's assistance in waking his partner from their mysterious slumber. Or maybe a king has been stricken by a sleeping curse, and it's up to the party to find the perpetrating mage! Of course, this spell has utility to players as well; the DM isn't the only one who can take advantage of more niche spells to create some bizarre situations. Maybe the party answers their violent debt collectors by playing dead! However you envision it, we hope you can put this spell of ours to good use in your books, and we look forward to hearing about it next time!

4th level Spell - Deep Sleep 5e homebrew bard sorcerer cleric