IKEA but for Magical Fortresses

There’s this feature in Dragon magazine called Bazaar of the Bizarre. I randomly picked up one of my copies – #145 – and it seems J. Jasper Owens wrote the one I chose. This one is all about magical items you can put in your fortress; below, I’ve copied a bunch and added a little more to them.

Where ever JJO is, I hope they don’t mind.

Basin of Decent Temperament

(Basin of the angel)

These stone water fountains can be placed within the home of any kind-hearted person. There are not many in existence, not since the gods stopped whispering. Only when a cleric hears the true words of their god offering their blessing over the basin can it become holy.

Once blessed, the basin cannot be moved. It is held down by the weight of the god themselves. In many places around the world you may come across a time-destroyed city with an unyielding fountain amongst the rubble. Once rediscovered, it’s a keen idea to rebuild around it.

These basins are said to be “owned” by whoever controls the land, whether that be the few feet around it, or the miles that stretch out from it. So long as their heart stays pure, the conjured water will flow cleanly and without taint.

A good person who drinks the water will feel revived (as with the effect of Greater Restoration).

If the shrine is cared for by a holy person – the stone work cleaned, mould kept at bay, and sun light allowed to shine – the basin is said to be encouraged. Whilst encouraged in this way, all good people within 200 feet of it have the effect of Protection from Evil.

In times of need, the holy person who cares for the shrine can ask for aid of a deva.

Pool of Twisted Temperament

(Like Basin of Descent Temperament, but from a demon.)

In exchange for a favour a demon may well request this tainted water feature as part of the bargain. In a land owned by the bargain seeker, a crack in natural stone or flooring appears which endlessly seeps a fetid liquid. The only way to clear it away is to drink it – the demon will keep its word so long as the liquid never spills over.

The crack continues forever, even long after the death of the original sinner. Over the years it takes control and taints fertile lands. The land is difficult to re-consecrate and can take decades to cleanse.

An evil creature who drinks the liquid recovers much of their youthful looks and health.

If the pool is defended, the defender becomes empowered by the patron who provides them with a familiar (the effect of Find Familiar, cast once per day). The demon may lend a hand in defending the area too, summoning something wicked from the ooze.

Chains of the Gaoler Wizard

(Danleor’s dungeon chains)

Unheard of for centuries now, Danleor was one of the most power wizards in the realms. Eager to avoid confrontation with each other, he and the King came to an accord. Danleor was to show fealty by providing a service to his king, and the King would leave alone the entire plains area that Danleor lived in. The service, it was decided, was a prison for the most troublesome and threatening people and creatures.

Uninterested in being an active warden in his duties, Danleor created the most perfect chains ever made and imbued them with unbreakable magics. These ranged from enormous links of metals to secure giants to fine necklaces used for more delicate beings.

Danleor and the location of his prison has long vanished. However, every once in a while, one of his chains will appear in a marketplace for the elite.

Each chain has a single key, which cannot be replicated easily.

The chains are too heavy to be thrown and so are not useful as weapons.

Whilst locked in a chain, the creature automatically fails all Strength checks. Dexterity will not help escape these chains, and also automatically fail. Additionally, they’re covered in an antimagic field (akin to the spell).

Two-faced flag of many colours

(Flag of untrue colors)

This is a large rectangular flag, though it is happy to be folded into smaller shapes. In its dry state, the flag is merely grey. The kind of grey that once used to be white. Its edges are fraying with age and it seems to have been weathered quite considerably.

The flag is rejuvenated – at least it appears that way – when it feels the lick of wind and is slightly damp. In this state it will appear to be the flag of an ally or at least the flag of a neutral partner. The same magic spreads to other flags mounted to the same building (or within the same regiment), making them appear similarly.

The enchantment is smart enough to attempt to have its targets see the same flag, if possible.

The illusion can be seen through with a descent Wisdom save.

The last known location of this flag was in the possession of a flag collector. Unlike her other flags, she keeps this one bound and hidden away as losing it would break her heart more so than any of the others she has.

Teleportation Arches

(Libram of teleportation arches)

These arches come in pairs must be built at the same time, one in each of the positions to teleport between. They must be identically built – in design and process – for them to work. Once complete, a wizard may use the Teleportation Circle spell to permanently open a two-way gateway to the two places.

Teleportation through the two is without further cost. It is always perfect and holds no risks.

These do not work with other Teleportation Circles.

If either becomes damaged, both stop working and must be rebuilt and reenchanted.

Everlasting Smoulder

(Reimagined Oil of eternal fire)

Keeping a fortress, underground tunnel system, or manor house lit is a tiring job. Going around all of your lanterns each night takes many hours, and wizards (who can do the job far quicker) are still a daily cost. A better investment is Everlasting Smoulder.

These are coals from the Plane of Fire which, to date at least, never stop giving off their warm glow. They spread enough of a glow to completely light 30 feet of space with just one small coal ember. Of course, these coals are also incredibly hot and should not be handled by hand. Mage Hands work well for this purpose.

The Smoulders can be purchased for a dear some, but it’s almost a rite of passage for the owner of a new fortress to venture into the Plane of Fire themselves to collect it. A dangerous jaunt but well worth it.

The years after Phandalin

(I’m moving house right now and came across some notes for the start of an adventure. Maybe this will spark an idea or two for you.)

Your group has saved Phandalin. The mine has reopened and the town becomes prosperous again.

Though, doesn’t that mean there’s a new centre of cheap, magical items? What kinds of people would that draw to a relatively quiet part of Faerun?

Background: Itinerant

I realised I’ve not put anything here for a while, so I’ve been working on a quick adventure pack. It has turned out to not be quick. In the meanwhile, here’s a background I wrote for it.

I like backgrounds for two reasons (that I can think of right now):

  1. They give you some backstory immediately about your player, and an allegiance to something. Something you know your player cares about that the other players can make assumptions based of off.
  2. They allow the DM to build sticky hooks. “You forgot to pay your Guild dues, now you need to pay them back in the next 24 hours. Sidebar: All your money has just been stolen. Go make some quick cash!”

A thing I don’t like about them: the personality traits that come with them. I could do without those.

Itinerant

Those with arcane capabilities tend to show up right when you need them. You travel from town to town, offering minor magics as a service. Cleaning stained clothes, reattaching broken axe heads, turning over flowerbeds. Whatever services you can offer to the people who need it (and are willing to pay).

Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Persuasion

Tool Proficiencies: One type of artisan’s tools

Languages: One standard language of your choice

Equipment: A set of artisan’s tools, a set of traveller’s clothes, an identifying mark of an Itinerant, a pouch containing 15 gold pieces.

Feature: For services rendered

When you arrive in a town that you’ve not previously been to (or have not been there within the past ten days), you can spend some of your down time proffering your services. These almost always are required and earn you 3d6 copper pieces.

Over time, your attendance at the town becomes expected and the people begin to look forwards to your arrival.

A doodled map with stuff on it.

I’ve been watching Boston Legal and had a piece of paper in front of me, so jotted this down.

It’s full of the politics of an area. There’s not much of a player purpose here. Maybe they’ll find a side they like the most and try and help achieve their goal alongside them. There’s a bunch of treasure around. Some oddities in burnt deserts.

For a one-shot, I think players usually make their own fun – story or no!

The colours are a whole lot more vibrant on the scanner than what I wrote drew… That red looked orange to me! The blue, black! Well, what can you do.

d12 interesting events for travelling

Traveling often doesn’t need to be part of the story. This has been talked about by people who have thought about it more than me, and the advice typically is: don’t bog the game down with traveling. There’s no need for combat to show off how dangerous the world is. There’s no need to take a whole session of play getting from A to B when you’re trying to show off how far away two points are.

Just use your words.

However, on special occaisions you might want something fun to happen during travel. Here’s a d12 list of ideas for you to use on those occaisions.

I tried to do a d20 list, but it’s actually tricky to add interesting events without distracting from the story you’re trying to tell, which presumably the players want to get on with. (With the exception of number 10, which was just fun.)

1. Rain has been ceaseless. Travel difficult and slow. Make a Con save. The DC is 15 if you’re travelling without tents, with a tent the DC is 10. A failure means you’ve become ill – a mundane cold or slight fluu, but none the less it sucks. You are as if Poisoned until you find medicine or 1d4 days of comfortable rest has been acheived.

2. 1d4 crows – huge ones! – appear and fly nearby for a while. They harmless follow you, curiously. If you choose to befriend the birds, make an Animal Handling check (DC 10). On a success, the crows enjoy your company and are wiling to keep an eye out for you, even joining in battle when outside.

3. You were attacked by 1d4 salamanders. You dispatch them easily. Roll a Survival check (DC 10). On a success, you’re able to disect the animals and extract their poison glands, which are quite valuable. In the right hands, they’re also a good coating for your blades.

4. Make a Perception check (DC 10). On a success you come across a recently buried cache in the ground; it contains 1d4 simple weapons (one is silvered), some bread, water, and some cheeses. There’s also a love letter/death threat/written oath in the box.

5. Make Dexterity saving throws (DC 10). Your camp fire erupts for some reason, scattering burning ashes. On a failure, the embers catch your clothes. They’re damaged now, requiring light mending.

6. Whilst foraging or looking for water, you come across a natural beehive, filled with 1d4 litres of honey. It’s delicious (and valuable), so long as you have a way of carrying it.

7. Throughout your entire journey, at night, the voice of a weeping person could be heard. They sometimes yell a name into the night, but you’re unable to tell which direction it’s coming from. This happens every night. Make a Consitution saving throw (DC 10), or you arrive at your destination with one level of exhaustion.

8. Sometime into your journey you meeting another traveller who is just leaving the general direction of your destination. They stay just long enough to answer two questions; one will be a truth and one will be a plausible lie that the players should corroberate before acting on.

9. Your horse has taken an injury – painfully broken ankle or stone in its shoe – and is unable to carry the burden of your baggage. You’re slowed and need to carry your own cargo. This may mean that you need to leave something behind if you can no longer carry it. Maybe it’ll still be there next time you come by this way…

10. A man lies dead on the floor and a shimmer of a portal – barely visible – still lingers behind him. It is stable and leads to his home which for some reason he was escaping from. Side dungeon!

11. Your journey coincides with the travelling of a circus/bardic band/priest. Along the way you helped them by sharing rations or forraging extra food for them as they were running low. They owe you a favour, which they’re happy to pay at a later date. (The currently have no money.)

12. You find a spellbook/holy book/Tome of Honourable Deeds/natural observation log. It lists a spell, ritual, or enchantment you’ve never heard of before. In fact, no one has. No one is able to deceipher it. It grows warm when it is most needed.

Crooked Taverns

The Dawdlers, your adventuring group, have made their way across nearly sixty miles of wet wheat. With the previous town now long behind them, and their tents too damaged to keep off the endless rain, the sight of the next town is the only thing that keeps their spirits from trailing heavily behind them.

The only lights still burning in the town are The Central Station, a tavern with rooms and maybe even a pillow.

“I guess we sleep for the night,” says Dwight, the gnomish barbarian.

“Sure,” you say. “The inn keeper says he has space. It’s two silvers per room.”

“I give that.”

“And you rest in the rooms, and then you’ve had a full rest. You get your spellslots back.”

Ugh. What a missed opportunity. Continue reading “Crooked Taverns”

The gods amongst us

Steven Lumpkin writes over on the 1d100 blog about ideas that he rolls on, randomly. I’ve rolled ‘Gods’ on his current table. Lets do that in twenty five minutes.

Physical embodiments of power

Gods didn’t create the world. They aren’t the source of your magic. Without them, the world won’t cease to function any differently from what it already does – except maybe there’s on less tyrant or helping hand. These people – for that’s all they are – are highways of immense magic. Where you may pluck at the arcane strings between our world and the ethereal, they are a conduit for it. The power of this radiates awfully from them, hurting to peer at them for too long.

People of this much power come baring gifts to those who wish to follow them. They punish those they are jealous of and take all they think they deserve with no regard for your livelihood. Kneel, or die. There is no way you can stop them.

Well… There was that one time. A hidden boy from the shadows with a dagger – some bards sing of the dagger’s dark mutterings but others of its mundane rust – with a quick jab and the god bled. Bled like a swine, draining over a butcher’s grate.

Missing clarity

Gods can only brag of their power. Those that brag of their knowledge are arrogant and blind. Like you they hear with their ears, taste with their tongue, and feel with their touch. Divination may be their skill set, but time enough to witness everything is likely not.

They are still prone to lust and grief, hunger and pining. So they can be prayed upon by the wise. Manipulation can be a risky game but the rewards that come along with it far exceed that. The gods know this well. One thing that unites them all is this paranoia.

Messengers and missionaries

It is not rare for a god to take on a group of their closest followers – the ones they distrust their least – and have them scout the world for them, and bring back stories and information on would-be betrayals. These people compile information, carry messages between each other, and do all they can to stay in the close circle of few, near their beloved.

This clerical work comes with rewards. Items and badges of honour which show their position alongside a god – their protection assured by just showing this badge. Enemies of their Lord often flee at its sight, fearing retribution for wrongdoing against them.

A cleric’s travels does not take them along well trodden trading roads. They paths they have to take are far more unkept, as they seek where others rarely go, looking for threats against god. As time cures all ills, so does practice. Understanding how to mend wounds and purge poisons comes with the job, after time.