Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tenebrous Monstrosities

This once placid myconid is now officially Up To No Good.
Fungi and arachnids exposed to concentrated unlight will quickly develop unseemly characteristics. Other creatures sicken and die, but they seem weirdly increased by their exposure.

Any monstrous spider or fungus can be affected. And sure, yeah, there are not a ton of fungal monsters in the monster manual, but the internet has some that you might like.

Once one of the eligible creature types has been irradiated with a dose of unlight, it develops a result from the table below over the course of a day or so. All effects are permanent, and multiple exposures will not result in further change. Also, you may want to give groups of identical abilities off here to keep things simple.

Tenebrous Mutation Table (d10)

1: The creature's intelligence increases to 20 and it's alignment changes to evil.

2: The creature exudes a shroud of inky spores in a 15-foot radius similar to a deeper darkness spell. The spores do not inhibit fungal or arachnid creatures.

3: Any creature struck by the creature's melee attack has their speed reduced to 2 until the end of their next turn as strands of semisolid darkness cling to them and inhibit their movement.

4: The creature's size increases in size until it is huge (10 feet by 10 feet). It gains +50 max hit points and automatically succeeds on the first saving throw it rolls, each encounter.

5: The creature can pass effortlessly through walls and doors of less than a foot in thickness unless they incorporate significant quantities of lead, gold, or another heavy metal.

6: The creature is invisible during the first round of each combat. This isn't an all the time thing, it's more like the unlight kicks in when it gets agitated enough for a fight.

7: The creature permanently bilocates. It occupies two spaces, but is the same creature. Damaging one damages the other, et ceteras. The two creatures can travel any distance apart but will be pulled into other planes together if one passes through a portal or plane shifts.

8: The creature gains resistance (half damage) against spell damage. It can also exhale a 5-foot wide, 25-foot long breath weapon of disintegrating darkness, inflicting 5d6 disintegration damage, Reflex half. It can do this three times per day but not two rounds in a row.

9: The creature grows a horrid mouth full of inky teeth in an unlikely location on it's body. The mouth makes an extra attack with the creature's normal attack bonus, each turn, inflicting something like 2d8 damage on a hit.

10: The creature sprouts a set of asymmetrical wings capable of propelling it through air, water, or interstellar void. It also develops the ability to reproduce via fission and to digest any organic material, if it did not possess those abilities before.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Silent God

This depiction of the sun-child looms over an eagle to
demonstrate his peaceful mastery over it.
In the blasted desert known as Eiginn, the sun-blind priests whisper their prayers to the yawning sky, offering praise to their placid, imbecilic deity. The silent child does not respond.

His Holy Person

The sun-child is mute. He appears quite often, especially to those dying of exposure or enduring terrible suffering. His touch heals completely, restoring life and vigor without effort. There is no communication, nor any indication that Solarian understands the significance of his actions. He appears, removes any suffering that he perceives, and vanishes without further consideration. He is a being of pure benevolence, but seems incapable of any emotions or thoughts beyond this. It is uncertain whether he is even capable of understanding a language.

A desert-stranded character dying of dehydration that has caught Solarian's eye might be visited by the godling, have his thirst quenched and health restored, only to return to the same agonizing state a few days later for lack of alternatives. Solarian could very plausibly keep visiting and restoring that character's health for weeks, while never giving a thought to helping them escape the desert or the agony that they are sure to endure there.

Solarian's power is absolute. If it occurred to him that it would remove suffering to transform the Eiginn from an arid wasteland to a verdant forest, he could do so in an instant and without appreciable exertion. But it does not occur to him.

His Sacred Band

Solarian's holy symbol is a sunburst with a face in it, or else any other sort of solar symbol. His clerics garb themselves in white cloth (often silk) and choose their domains from Sun, Life, Healing, or Solitude (depending also on what edition you are playing).

Solarian asks for offerings in the form of scattered grain or water decanted onto the open desert, as well as destroyed weaponry or other instruments of war, long vows of silence, and willing exposure to the elements.

When Solarian appears, time stands still except for Solarian and the creatures to whom he reveals himself. He approaches them, blesses them silently, and wanders away. No other interactions with the deity have ever been recorded.

The current enemies of Solarian's adherents include the hideous reptiles that infest Eiginn, creatures from the lower planes, and organizations or religions concerned with commerce and manufacture. Solarian himself does not have any enemies, and is probably incapable of grasping the concept.

These feats are only available to devotees of Solarian.

Vow Of Quescience

Limitation: You must never speak above a whisper. Aside from the obvious practical concerns, your near-silent prayers limit your range: your spells cannot extend beyond close range. This limitation is absolute and cannot be increased via metamagic or other abilities.

Benefit: In return for honoring him with your silence, Solarian grants you a +2 bonus to all of your saving throws. You also have a +2 bonus to checks related to moving silently.

Behold The Countenance

Limitation: You have stared at the sun for so long that your vision is permanently destroyed. You regard this as a sacred state rather than a limitation. Regardless, the blindness inflicted on you is magical as well as mundane, and only a heal spell or better will restore it (nullifying the benefits of this feat until you can remedy the situation).

Benefit: If 5e, you can memorize an extra two spells, per day. If other, you can memorize an extra two spells of your highest spell level. Either way, you also gain a +2 bonus to AC and saves.

The merciful sun-child shines down upon the holy desert of Eiginn.
Sacred Sites

There are many holy place in the Eiginn. One such spot is the Well Of Human Suffering, a lush oasis whose water flows from an exceedingly abundant natural spring. Sentient creatures who drink of this water are wracked with unfathomable agony. The natives mostly use it to water crops and feed their camels. Near the spring is a shrine dedicated to Solarian, to whom the creation of the spring is attributed. A carven stone explains that the well is filled with the suffering that Solarian has removed from mortal men. Since the woes of mankind are many, the well never runs dry.

Another important site is the mountain known as the Palace Of Vultures. Once the location of the largest temple dedicated to Solarian, it was plundered by an army of brigands a little over a century ago. It contained the greater part of the church of Solarian's wealth, and now is infested with desert spirits.

Lviem is the most important remaining shrine. It is founded in the cave-carved cliffs in the stony part of the desert. It is there that novices learn the sun chants and how to officiate various religious ceremonies. A hundred or so priests and novices live in the dry, winding passages.

The Sun-God's Prayers

Aureation (1st-level)

Your blessing causes a creature touched to shine with the light of the sun. They gain 3 temporary hit points and the next attack against them this encounter has disadvantage.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, it imparts an additional 3 temporary hit points for each slot level above 2nd.

Pacifying Halo (2nd-level)

You heal 1d8 hit points and are surrounded with a supernatural aura of peace until the end of your next turn. Any creatures adjacent to you during this time have disadvantage when attacking.

Living Blessing (4th-level)

This spell insulates a sufficiently humble creature touched from death. If the creature affected dies before the next day, they return to life with 1 hit point at the following sunrise. The creature does not suffer any kind of level loss or additional penalty. This spell can only be cast upon creatures with 9 hit dice or less. This spell fails if the corpse is destroyed or disintegrated.1

This is apparently what a Staff Of Brilliance looks like.
Sacred Relics

Sunstone (common trinket)2
This scintillating stone emits light in a close radius. In addition to shedding light while equipped, you heal an additional hit point with your healing spells. If you shatter the sunstone as an action, you are healed 3d8+5 hit points.

Mendicant's Cloak (common cloak)
This humble cloak is threadbare, but contains potent magic. While wearing this cloak, you have a +1 bonus to saves. If it is the only magical item you are equipped with, you also have +10 max hit points.

Staff Of Brilliance (uncommon staff)
This staff has 5 charges. While holding it, you can expend 1 or more of its charges to achieve one of the following effects:
  • Water From The Rock (1): While outside of combat, you strike a large natural stone, creating a small crevasse from which bubbles thirst-quenching water. It is enough to provide water for 10 people. Each creature that drinks at least one full dose of the water heals 5 hit points.
  • Cleansing Light (2): An otherworldly, colorless light shimmers forth from the staff. You and any living creatures within 2 spaces each heal 1d8+5 hit points. Each undead within that radius suffers 1d8+5 disintegration damage, no save.
  • Evoke The Sun (3): This ability can only be used during the day and on the surface. A brilliant sunbeam shines down on 10-foot radius location within close range. Creatures within that area must save or be blinded until the end of their next turn.
The staff regains 1d4 charges daily at dawn. If you expend the last charge, roll 1d20. On a 1, the staff immolates and is destroyed.

Players usually eschew most forms of preventative measures that require significant resource expenditure. A 4th-level spell is no joke to parties of 9th level or lower, but might just be worth using under very particular circumstances.

2 I divide magic items into common, uncommon, rare, and unique categories. Deal with it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Black Words: The Ishnindah's Spells

Whence comes the Ishnindah?
You need better spells. The Ishnindah has them. Her spells are unfamiliar and dangerous, but probably better than whatever you can research or borrow from the gods. Luring the Ishnindah is not an easy thing. Nor is it wise. Still, adventurers do lots of dumb things and this could easily be one of them.

Attracting The Ishnindah

One cannot find the Ishnindah. One can only hope to attract her by assembling things that she finds appealing. Smoke from simmering blood. Severed hands. Liquid nightmares (difficult to extract!). Moonless nights. Arhythmic drumming. Mutes. Assemble enough of these in one place for long enough and she will eventually show up.

Her Blasphemous Words

The spells of the Ishnindah do not reflect the magical traditions of any known species in your campaign world, nor evince the channeling of divine energies associated with magical prayer (at least, not of any deities with which your players are familiar). They are alien and dangerous. The players can learn and cast them, anyways. It's up to you whether you wish to restrict them to any particular class.

She is happy to teach them to players, but may require payment in the form of their body parts. Eyes, tongues, fingers, hands, it all depends on the Ishnindah's mood. Adventurer Protip: Anything less than a wish isn't going to restore body parts traded to the Ishnindah.


Invoke The Other-Gnaw (1st-level)

This spell masticates a target within short range. There is no apparent source of the chewing; the target evinces deep bite marks all over their body without an apparent source (treat it as force damage). The bite marks are dissimilar to any recognizable species or even phylum. The damage inflicted by this spell should by whatever is appropriate for a 2nd-level spell in your game (in mine it would be 3d8, Fort half). One important caveat: each time you cast this spell, there is a cumulative 1% chance that you will be devoured completely by teeth similar to those used by the spell. The caster's flesh will be bitten off and disappear into midair. By the time the teeth are done, absolutely nothing will remain. Even drops of blood will be lapped up by invisible tongues.

Osseous Seed (2nd-level)

This spell afflicts a target with virulent organic poison. The poison inflicts a cumulative 1 damage on the target at the start of each day, until they die or a neutralize poison spell is cast upon them. If the target should perish, a tree of bones will grow from the corpse. It derives energy from moonlight and will grow at the rate of a normal tree but without decay and to a potentially limitless size. It will only bloom on the evening before the end of the world. The blossoms will drive any creatures that see them violently, irrevocably mad (no save unless they have ten or more hit dice). There are entire planets out there that have had their mass completely converted into osseous trees in this manner, over millions of years. Vast skeletal constructs drifting through the void, covered in heinous flowers.

Moon-Glaze (2nd-level)

This spell coats a single weapon with a crystalline substance supposedly similar in substance to the otherworldly flora of the moon. The sharper-than-obsidian edges of the crystalline coating give the weapon a +1 critical chance (if it would normally critical on a 20, it instead would critical on a 19 or 20). Alas, the strange material is fragile, and passes its fragility on to the weapon it coats: if you roll a natural 1, 2, or 3 with an attack, your weapon will shatter into a thousand tiny shards. If a weapon would plausibly be immune to shattering in this manner, the spell fails. Like, if you cast it on your holy avenger +5, that sword is probably going to transubstantiate the glaze into water vapor. I wouldn't let this spell work on any item that is already keen or of +3 or greater enchantment. Moon-glaze will oxidate off a weapon in about a week assuming continued exposure to an earthly atmosphere.

Putrid Claws (2nd-level)

Upon casting this spell, your hands agonizingly twist into jagged caricatures of human fingers, sporting quasi-mineral spurs and crystalline edges. Your claws inflict 1d6 damage + your level on a hit. Any creature that you injure with said claws will be wracked with fever, unable to sleep that night unless they are restored to full hit points or receive a cure disease spell. You cannot cast spells while you have putrid claws, and the effect lasts for 1d4 hours (you cannot end it early).

Address The Audient Void (3rd-level)

This spell enters a willing target into a peculiar arrangement with a mostly-malicious otherwordly intelligence. Casting this spell requires an obsidian mirror worth at least a thousand gold, a troupe of at least ten amoral kymbala players, 1d30 human sacrifices (the exact number is unknown to the caster, they must keep sacrificing until it works), and a goat. The character so affected is wracked by pain and internal distortion, resulting in a constitution score that is halved or reduced to 5 (whichever is worse). Thenceforth, every 1d4 weeks for the duration of their natural span of years, an unusually powerful byakhee with hit dice equal to the character's level will sail forth from the sky or the shadows of a particularly angular corner. If the character is alive, the byakhee will seek to kill them (the character should probably seek to defend themselves). If the character is dead, the byakhee will raise them from the dead (as per the spell) and depart without further fuss. This effect can be ended via a remove curse spell, but only if the recipient is willing. Theoretically, the character could be encased in some sort of spherical or non-angular subterranean area that would prevent a byakhee from reaching them, but this would most likely result in negative outcomes.

The Unseeing (3rd-level)

While this spell is memorized but not cast, you possess a random extra-sensory perception. Upon uttering the single syllable of this spell, you lose that sense and all natural flames within a 1000-foot radius are extinguished. Only flames of a less than 3-foot radius are affected. If a fire is magical, blessed, or in any way metaphysically unusual, then it is unaffected. For example, the holy fire in a shrine that was kindled by the prophets of yore from the Original Flame will not go out, but the candles and torches in the temple foyer will. A volcano and its environs would completely unaffected. On the other hand, a small town would probably have a lot of trouble defending itself in the middle of the night if the attackers had night vision and knew this spell.

Accursed Atavism (5th-level)

The target of this spell must make a Will save or be doubly cursed. First, they lose the ability to use or comprehend tools. Their understanding is reduced to about that of a household pet. For example, they understand that a sword causes pain and is dangerous, but cannot comprehend how to use it. Such a character can still benefit from armor that they are wearing or that others put on them, but will drop objects held in their hands. Even using a doorknob is a stretch. Second, they lose the ability to eat or derive nutrition from anything except for raw flesh. This probably exposes them to digestive problems and parasites, since the spell does not convey any improvements to their ability to consume those substances. A remove curse spell will suffice to end this effect.

True Aklo (any level)

The Ishnindah has taught you several words in True Aklo, a language whose existence is part of the fabric of reality and that can be used to open your mind to the cosmos. It also drives you pretty crazy: if you have access to this spell, you must make a Will save each day or suffer a minor form of madness (I like this madness table). This is an unusual spell: you can memorize it at any level you are capable of casting, but cannot ever cast it more than once per day. When you do cast it, it causes you to magically gain one casting of a random spell from your class that is one spell level higher than the one that it was memorized at. For example, if you memorize and cast True Aklo as a 2nd level spell, you gain a random 3rd-level spell from your list. This higher-level spell that you gain cannot be used in conjunction with metamagic or any other weird stuff like that. If you memorize True Aklo as a 9th-level spell, you are driven homicidally mad for 1d100 days, then disappear forever.