Margol’s Defiance – a light in abyssal darkness

The name of Margol Endlessein is lost to the cataclysm that reduced their home civilization to dust and ruin. Little remains of the once great and magically empowered nation whose mighty structures stand only as sparse ruins, so thoroughly scourged that little history is to be gleaned from the few crumbling walls and sunken chambers.

The one remnant that hints at the power harnessed by this ancient empire is the vast array of magical items that serve as weapons against fiendish enemies. Margol’s defiance is one such item that empowers the wearer in their battle against the abyss.

This golden circlet houses a small yellow gem which rests in the centre of the wearer’s forehead. The gem contains a small mote of sunlight which can be harnessed to bring light in the darkness and guide the wearer’s hand against creatures of darkness.

The circlet has 5 charges, and it completely regains all charges when it is touched by the first rays of dawn sunlight.

An attuned wearer can say a command word and expend 1 charge to cause the gem to glow as if the Light had been cast on it. While the gem is glowing, the wearer has advantage on all attack rolls against fiends and undead, and such creatures have disadvantage on all attack rolls against the wearer.

Staff of Soul’s Fire

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This magical staff is made from blackened redwood, and infused with magic that stirs up energy and emotions. It can cause the air to burst into flames, and stir up the passions in one’s soul, even to a point of madness.

Staff, very rare (requires attunement by a Bard, Sorcerer, or Warlock)

While attuned, you can cast the  fire bolt cantrip as long as you are holding the staff in at least one hand.

The staff has 10 charges. While holding it, you can use an action to expend 1 or more of its charges to cast one of the following spells from it, using your spell save DC: heroism (1 charge per target, up to max. 4), enemies abound (3 charges),  fireball (3 charges), or wall of fire (4 charges).

While holding this staff, you can use it as an arcane focus for casting any spell that requires an attack roll, and expend 1 charge to add 1D6 fire damage to the spell’s effect. Any target that takes damage form this effect is set on fire, and will take 1D10 damage at the start of each of their turns, until they spend an action to extinguish the flames. A maximum of 1 charge per spell can be spent in this fashion, and this ability cannot be used to further enhance the casting of spells contained in the staff.

Anyone who attempts to attune to this staff who is not a Charisma-based spell caster must make a Charisma saving throw (DC15). They take 4D6 fire damage on a failed save, and 2D6 on a successful save.

The staff regains 1d6 + 4 expended charges daily at dawn. If you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the staff instantly ignites, crumbles into cinders, and is destroyed.

Staff of the Elemental Master

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This is a homebrew item for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons. Modeled after the Staff of Power, it exists to represent the idea of a caster gaining a degree of mastery over natural elements.

Staff of the Elemental Master

Staff, Very Rare (Requires attunement by a Druid)

This 5’ staff is made of the gnarled, petrified branch of an ancient redwood. It weighs over 240 pounds; however, once attuned, it becomes as light as fresh cut timber and can be used as a magic quarterstaff in Melee.

A Druid attuned to the staff can always draw breath in any environment, and gains resistance to fire and lightning damage.

The staff has 20 charges, and regains 1d8+2 charges every sunrise and sunset. The staff can regain an additional d6 charges per day by submerging it in a large quantity of any natural element that is highly active (e.g. a raging river, a burning conflagration, a gale-force wind, etc). If you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the staff retains its ability to grant breath in any environment, and damage resistances, but loses all other abilities. On a 20, it unleashes a level 9 lightning bolt directed by the wielder, using normal spellcasting rules.

Lightning Strike: When you hit with a melee attack using the staff, you can expend 1 charge to deal an extra 1d6 lightning damage to the target.

Spells: While holding the staff, you can use an action to expend 1 or more of its charges to cast one of the following spells from it, using your spell save DC and spell attack bonus: Gust of Wind (2 charges) Plant Growth (3 charges); Move Earth (6 charges); Lightning Bolt, 5th level version (5 charges); Wall of Fire (4 charges); Control Water (4 charges); Control Weather (8 charges)

RPG Setting Rumours: street brawler edition

adult-ancient-armor-289831.jpg[NOTE: This post sat in my drafts folder for over a year. No, I don’t know why.]

There are two things I like to do when developing RPG settings:

First, I love to populate settings with rumours and local legends. These give a feel of being living places, and also you never know when a rumour will spark a plot hook that leads to a fun new adventure.

The second thing I love to do is crowd source ideas so that a) I don’t have to do all the work and b) I end up with a more varied and interesting range of possibilities to work with.

This post contains a series of ideas shared on twitter in response to this post:

Continue reading “RPG Setting Rumours: street brawler edition”

‘Uphill Battle’ – my NYC Midnight short fiction entry

Having not written any fiction for some time, this year I entered the NYC Midnight short fiction competition to kick myself into gear.

My prompts were: Fantasy, A picnic, a single mother.

As a result I produced “Uphill Battle”.

Enjoy, critique, ignore at will.

UPDATE: I received an Honourable Mention for this story, being one of the three stories in the heat to receive a commendation but not make it through to the next round. I’m pretty happy with that result, and am currently working with the feedback provided to produce a second draft (which is unbound by the competition’s word limit!)

Continue reading “‘Uphill Battle’ – my NYC Midnight short fiction entry”

The First Singer – A DnD 5e Bard variant

E.g. Chorister / Cantor / Hazzan / Muessin

This Bard is the leader of a religious rite or congregation. Their songs are drawn from the myths, legends, and rituals of a particular god or gods and their chants are part poetry, part prayer or mythic storytelling.

As a First Singer, the bard might be a part of a temple, leading worship and rites for the crowds, or they might be a wandering preacher, carrying the word and songs of their gods across the land. They are adept at engaging a large audience, and capturing a crowd with their mythic storytelling and song.

A First Singer is different to a Cleric, in that they find their inspiration in the stories and music, rather than more devout forms of worship. A First Singer need not even be a true believer, and may find religious songs a helpful ruse as they ply their crowds for donations and rumours.

Inspiration for a First Singer bard can be found in many cultures and times. The ancient greek chorus used to chant and sing and dance their epic tales as part of grand religious festivals, wearing masks and using small drums, cymbals and beat sticks. Among the many variation of Christianity you will find the Cantor, who leads a congregation in prayer. A similar role is played by the Jewish Hazzan, while the Muslim Muezzin leads the call to prayer to bring people to the mosque for worship.

Alignment: A First Singer’s alignment will usually partially align with the god whose stories they tell, or the temple in which they lead.

Instruments: Instruments that keep rhythm, like tambourines, drums, prayer cymbals or bells are very common among First Singers. Some may have stringed instruments, though would favour those like a lute that have a chamber for resonance and can be heard over a larger area.

Bard Colleges:

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Johan, a Cantor of Pelor. Image by @EthanMAldridge

College of Lore: A First Singer who joins the College of Lore may pursue the greater truth of the universe beyond the teachings of a particular god or belief. They may become mystics or gnostics who recognise a greater mystery of the world beyond a single deity.

Their spell choices will likely favour detection and dispelling, and the ability to perceive and cross into the meta-planes in pursuit of the ultimate, world-creating song.

College of Valor: It’s an easy step to go from leading a choir in song to inspiring an army with a battle hymn. First Singers who walk the path of valor may become the heart and soul of a fighting unit, crying inspirational charges and rallying songs, and soothing soldiers during brief respite.

Spell choices will favour those that inspire others to greater feats of heroism, heal the wounded and aid the Bard’s own fighting skills.

College of Whispers: These First Singers use their knowledge of ancient tales to invoke holy terror in their enemies in order to seek out heresy. Their chants and songs take on a darker tone as they seek out enemies of their god and deliver appropriate punishment. These questioners are not well liked, because they are often the vanguard of a full blown inquisition, and sometimes even their very presence, if known, is enough to create a religious panic and invite all manner of accusations between neighbours.

Questioners learn spells that distract and terrify their targets, compel truth or otherwise give the Bard an advantage in squeezing confessions – true or otherwise – from the subject of their investigation.