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Ala the Sea Witch

Flickr Dungeons and Dragons Tag Feed - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 11:57

erickesler has added a photo to the pool:

Ala the Sea Witch

Ala, a Princess of Ostland, was the first born child of King Ragnar the Pickled and his wife Ingrid the Demure. On the day of Ala's birth, the King was most displeased. A male child was needed to secure his throne.

Fortunately for Ala, her parents were mostly indifferent. She was left alone and unloved, raised by the serfs and slaves who served the Court of Cnute. One of these slaves was known as Gyda Pin-leg, so named for her lost limb.

In addition to learning all the things a princess of Ostland normally learned, Gyda Pin-leg taught Ala how to read the words of magic, how to evoke the darkness and how to makes one's enemies slumber. This all transpired in secret. Since Princess Ala was mostly ignored by her father and his court, it was easy for her to keep secrets.

Ala was twelve when her brother, Hord, was born. Shortly after Hord's birth, a fire mysteriously erupted in the nursery. Ingrid the Demure died a horrible death, but the life of Hord was saved. King Ragnar the Pickled was so very pleased that his legacy remained secure, but, still, he demanded to know the source of the fire.

Once it was determined magic was involved, Gyda Pin-leg was, naturally, blamed. Princess Ala silently watched her slow, brutal execution with the rest of the Court.

The Court of Cnute had ruled from the city of Zaeburg for six centuries. While King Ragnar the Pickled had no use for words or the books in which they were found, the previous rulers of Ostland had amassed a collection of quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore. Into these obliviated chambers, the precocious princess disappeared. Great and terrible was the occult lore that she learned.

After the passage of some time, Ragnar the Pickled sought to form an alliance with Jarl Bjarke the Bent, the geriatric ruler of Soderfjord Jarldoms. To this end he offered his anomalous and reclusive daughter as a bride. Despite her singular ways, Princess Ala was strikingly beautiful. To the surprise of a few of the slaves and serfs, Ala silently acquiesced.

It was said that the Kraken of old, Hafgufa, sank the longship of Bjarke the Bent. He was traveling toward the Kingdom of Ostland to collect his promised bride. It was also said that in the days prior, Princess Ala went down to the sea and sang to the salty waters that flowed between Soderfjord and Ostland.

In a moment of rare sobriety, King Ragnar realized that his daughter, Princess Ala, had become a terrible and potent magician. Furthermore, she had become murderously willful. Trepidatiously, the King summoned his daughter to his Great Hall and banished Princess Ala from the Kingdom of Ostland. Without opening any doors, Ala the Sea Witch departed the Great Hall of Cnute.

For a decade, Princess Ala whereabouts was unknown. She had never been outgoing, so her absence didn't disrupt the court of Cnute. She had been all but forgotten.

Toward the end of this span, Hord Ragnarson ventured north to trod the icy plains of Norwold. It was in this strange land that he encountered the Crones of Crystykk. Some claim that these three witches are the Norns of the Northmen. In a strange place he found the three.

The youngest crone spoke, "Princess Ala shall kill your son." The oldest crone spoke, "Princess Ala shall kill your father." Finally, the crone of middle years spoke. "Indeed, Hord Ragnarson, once your eyes are dark with mourning, then your sister, Princess Ala, shall kill you, too."

Hord Ragnarson was both horrified and enraged. "Nay, witch sisters three, I shall thwart my fate," Hord swore. The Crones of Crystykk silently watched him depart.

For eighty-eight days and eighty-eight nights, Hord Ragnarson walked the world that his elder sister, Princess Ala, had walked. Thus Hord learned of the life that his sister had lived. Princess Ala had voluntarily enslaved herself to Tethys, daughter of Protius, enabling her to learn the enigmas of the waters. Later, Princess Ala become the consort of a huge, white dragon, Vladeck, that knew the secret language of the rocks. Later still, Princess Ala befriended Grugnir, Jarl of the Frost Giants, who bestowed upon her The Cloak of Endless Winters. Such had been the life of Princess Ala since she left the Kingdom of Ostland.

There is a place in the Ethengar Khanates where the Krandai River enters the steppes from the neighboring Kingdom of Vestland. Here the soil is rich in minerals carried from the hills of Trollheim, and the cherry trees bloom in early summer, adding a layer of pink to the succulent green grasses that grow upon the river bank. It was in this idyllic setting that Hord Ragnarson found his slumbering sister, Princess Ala.

Fearfully, Hord Ragnarson crept toward his sleeping sibling. His strong hands trembled as he freed his sword. He hesitated for but a moment, then he plunged his blade, Ulfbeht, through the heart of Princess Ala, pinning her to her petaled bower. The blood of Princess Ala flowed into the Krandai River.

At that moment, in the Kingdom of Ostland, Ragnar the Pickled clutched at his chest and coughed up black blood. He, too, died.

Bones scraped upon bones. That was the sound that brought Hord Ragnarson out of his reverie. A cloud passed overhead and a dark figure emerged. It was the feared and respected hakomon of Ethengar, Bakalgu the Destroyer. Bakalgu's face was hidden by the black mask carved into the visage of a leering evil spirit; his grey hair hung down to his knees; his eight-inch-long finger nails clattered arrhythmically against the various skulls and bones that adorned his black robes. Hord Ragnarson was terrified.

The hakomon spoke, "You are the prince of Ostland, Hord son of Ragnar. You just killed your sister while she slept."

Hord Ragnarson waited. The Destroyer had made statements; he had not asked questions. With a clatter of bones and a rustle of cloth, Bakalgu slowly circled the grim, yet beautiful tableau.

"You should go home. As I speak," said the hakomon, "your father, King Ragnar the Pickled, lies dead. The Kingdom of Ostland needs its heir." As if in a dream, Hord Ragnarson obeyed.

A terrible laugh emanated from behind the mask of evil. Bakalgu the Destroyer danced and sang and rattled his bones. The foliage joined the hakomon in his gyrations. Five of the cherry trees intertwined and enveloped the transfixed corpse of Princess Asa. This would be her tomb and her womb for nine months.

It is said that the soul of Princess Ala, borne by Ethengarian spirit magic, departed the Midgard and ventured toward the Well of Urd, whose waters impart cosmic knowledge and from whence the World Tree, Yggdrasil, is rooted. It is also said that Princess Ala confronted Mimir, a shadowy being whose knowledge of all things was practically unparalleled among the inhabitants of the nine worlds. Mimir achieved this status largely by taking his water from the Well of Urd.

Following the proscribed ritual, Princess Ala asked Mimir for a drink from the Well of Urd. The well’s guardian, knowing the value of such a draught, refused unless the seeker offered an eye in return. This is the way of Mimir. Straightaway, Princess Ala, gouged out one of her eyes and gave it to Mimir. Having made the necessary sacrifice, Mimir dipped his horn into the well and offered Princess Ala a draught.

In the Kingdom of Ostland, King Hord Dark-Eye had ascended the throne. Bakalgu the Destroyer had not lied when he said that King Ragnar the Pickled was dead. The coronation took place the day after Hord's longship arrived at the City of Zaeburg. Within a month King Hord Dark-Eye married Rhora Anlafsdottier, and seven months later she was seven months pregnant.

Exactly nine months after King Hord Dark-Eye had killed his sister, Princess Ala, Queen Rhora Anlafsdottier died. She choked to death upon a cherry pit. An effort was made to save the unborn heir; however, he emerged from the womb cold and still. Impossibly, a cherry pit was lodged in his throat, too.

The decades have passed. King Hord Dark-Eye rules the Kingdom of Ostland and waits for death. Ala the Sea Witch occupies Narvendul, the wandering island. She waits to kill. She is patient and cruel.

Categories: Dungeons and Dragons

Astrid Garda

Flickr Dungeons and Dragons Tag Feed - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 11:57

erickesler has added a photo to the pool:

Astrid Garda

In an attempt to learn the whereabouts of the golden helm of Ottar the Just, the Godar, Astrid Garda, takes part in an ancient ritual. Guided by the Elder Godar of Freya and Patriarch of Ruthin Monastery, Annacks Gunvald, Astrid ceremonially dies for nine days and nine nights, allowing her soul to voyage through the Nine Realms.

Categories: Dungeons and Dragons

Astrid Garda

Flickr Dungeons and Dragons Tag Feed - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 11:57

erickesler has added a photo to the pool:

Astrid Garda

In an attempt to learn the whereabouts of the golden helm of Ottar the Just, the Godar, Astrid Garda, takes part in an ancient ritual. Guided by the Elder Godar of Freya and Patriarch of Ruthin Monastery, Annacks Gunvald, Astrid ceremonially dies for nine days and nine nights, allowing her soul to voyage through the Nine Realms.

Categories: Dungeons and Dragons

Astrid Garda

Flickr Dungeons and Dragons Tag Feed - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 11:57

erickesler has added a photo to the pool:

Astrid Garda

In an attempt to learn the whereabouts of the golden helm of Ottar the Just, the Godar, Astrid Garda, takes part in an ancient ritual. Guided by the Elder Godar of Freya and Patriarch of Ruthin Monastery, Annacks Gunvald, Astrid ceremonially dies for nine days and nine nights, allowing her soul to voyage through the Nine Realms.

Categories: Dungeons and Dragons

The mul & thri-kreen PC races for 5e D&D

Newbie DM - Tue, 04/28/2015 - 07:41

I’ve been working on 5e monsters and races lately. Earlier this week I posted a Shardmind and a Loxo, and now here are two more races to add to your 5e options (assuming you like them and your DM approves!)

These two races come from the Dark Sun setting, the Mul and Thri-Kreen. The latter is in the game in the form of a monster, but the mul is not. I tried to stay as close to the “feel” of the races as I could. Here’s how:

The Mul, a half human, half dwarf is known for being a tough race. They don’t tire easily, are strong combatants, etc. They are usually found as slaves and gladiators toiling in the harsh world of Athas.  Here’s how I represented that for 5e with racial traits:

  • Tough as Nails. During a short rest you can reroll a Hit Dice roll and take the higher of the two rolls.
  • Resistant. Once a day, if you fail a Constitution saving throw you can choose to succeed instead.
  • Tireless. You only need to sleep 2 hours a night to gain the benefits of a long rest.
  • Mul Weapon Training. You have proficiency with the spear, whip, pike, handaxe and unarmed strikes.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 8.23.54 AM

I think I got the feel of the mul down. The re-roll hit dice thing to me is the highlight of the race.

The thri-kreen is an insectoid creature with six claws, also from the world of Athas. I found this one a bit more challenging to translate to a workable race, and it went through various versions. The thri-kreen has a lot of neat things it can do, and there’s a chance of making them a bit too overpowered when compared to other races. They can jump to great heights and lengths, they have psionics, they blend in with their surroundings. Lots of neat tricks, but it can get out of hand.

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 8.33.24 AM

I think I finally cracked that nut after seeing how the Elemental Player’s Companion handled the Deep Gnome’s magic, via a feat, and the talons of the Aarakocra, via a simple proficiency.

Here’s what I gave  them:

  • Long Jumper. You do not need to move any number of feet to make a full long or high jump. Additionally, roll a 1d12 when you make a long or high jump. The result is an additional number of feet you can add to the total of your jump.
  •  Claws. You are proficient with your unarmed strikes, which deal 1d4 slashing damage on a hit. (EDIT: they were 1d8 but I changed to get out of the way of the monk)
  • Chameleon. You can change your color to match your surroundings. You have Advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide in this manner.
  • Along with an optional feat (subject to DM approval):
    • Thri-Kreen Psionics

 

Prerequisite: Thri-Kreen

You have telepathy out to a range of 60 feet. Additionally, you have innate psionic spell-casting ability. This ability allows you to cast mage hand at will, without needing a material component. You can also cast each of the following spells once with this ability: blur, invisibility, and magic weapon. You regain the ability to cast these spells when you finish a long rest. Intelligence is your spell-casting ability for these spells, and you cast them at their lowest possible levels.

I am inclined to say that the race is fairly balanced versus other races. The first few versions were a bit overpowered. The claws did many attacks, it had innate casting without it being an optional feat.  I am happy with how it came out.

I’d love some feedback on these, either here or on twitter (@newbiedm).

Find the mul here.

FInd the thri-kreen here.

 

If you would like to support NewbieDM.com, perhaps you’d consider visiting Amazon.com for your next rpg related purchase. Check out the following products:

World of Greyhawk AD&D Boxed Set

Menzoberranzan AD&D Boxed Set

Conquest of Nerath: A D&D Boardgame

Legend of Drizzt: A D&D Boardgame


Randomness: The Clever DM’s Helper

Wizards of the Coast D&D - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 11:00
Type: FeaturesAuthor: Mike MearlsSubtitle: Behind the ScreensBanner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: 



The material for this article was originally part of a presentation I made back in 2006, at a convention panel on Dungeon Master advice. Given the number of random tables that found their way into the fifth edition Dungeon Master’s Guide, it felt like a great topic to go back to for this installment of Behind the Screens.

Randomness is one of the best tools at a DM’s disposal. Employing randomness is a great way to maximize the return on your effort, create new game situations on the fly, and ensure that the players can never truly surprise you. The heart of effective randomness for a DM is to create tables you can roll on to answer questions during a game session, fill in details as you need them, or provide a quick blast of content when the players dart off into a random direction.

A few years ago, I ran a short campaign set in Waterdeep. Since I expected the characters to spend a lot of time in various bars, taverns, and other dens of vice, I needed an easy way to fill out the roster of barflies and lowlifes they might run into. And what I realized is that it’s a lot easier to come up with six adjectives to describe characters you might find in a sleazy bar than to stat up six specific nonplayer characters, especially if the adventurers won’t interact with those NPCs for long.

Here’s a table I used to randomly create the patrons of a gaming parlor the adventurers visited. If the characters wanted to interact with someone other than the key NPCs I had created, I could build an NPC with four quick die rolls—one for each column on the table.

d6

Race

Gender

Current State/Winnings

Personality/Actions

1

Dwarf

Female

Drunk

Happy, unflaggingly optimistic

2

Human

Female

Big winner

Angry, looking for trouble

3

Human

Female

Big loser

Suspicious, answers questions with questions

4

Half-orc

Male

Desperate to win

Friendly, looking for a good time

5

Gnome

Male

Just started playing

Intent, curt and rude

6

Half-elf

Male

Criminal, not here to game

Bored, not really interested in the game

By setting up a similar second table, I could just as easily create the gambling hall’s employees.

d6

Race

Gender

Personality/Actions

1

Dwarf

Female

New hire, nervous

2

Human

Female

Fawning, eager for tip

3

Human

Female

Nervous, skims money

4

Half-orc

Male

Quiet, wants to keep the game going

5

Gnome

Male

Arrogant, hates customers

6

Half-elf

Male

Criminal, in on the scheme

The strength of these tables comes from the fact that until the characters talk to a random patron or employee, I don’t need to spend any precious brainpower thinking about the NPC. This allows me to spend my prep time creating the hall’s owner, the bouncer, and the pit boss (the guy in charge of watching the dealers)—the key NPCs that I know the adventurers will interact with.

General Advice

Creating tables can save a lot of time, but it helps to have an idea of what you want to do with your tables and the effects you can achieve with them. The specific contents of a table determine its utility. If you fill a table with dull and uninspiring items, the table will produce dull results.

Recycle: Note my clever laziness in creating the tables above, where I reused the columns for race and gender. Once you have a few tables, it’s easy to go back and mine them for useful adjectives and ideas. Also, since the employees weren’t that important to the scenario, they got fewer columns. In the game, I expected the adventurers to deal with the pit boss, the bouncer, and the owner, which is why I detailed those NPCs beforehand. Fully fleshed-out dealers and other employees would have competed with my established NPCs in the story, so why put more energy into them?

Go For Extremes: Use traits that will stand out for the players. You might notice that in the first table, there’s no option for an NPC who is breaking even. The extremes stand out, so don’t have an entry for a quiet NPC. Instead, create entries that yield up characters who are mute, characters who shout a lot, or characters who speak only rare languages that the adventurers might not know. This method makes tables easier to build because it allows you to think in terms of creating opposite pairs—for example, the big winner versus the big loser in the first table above.

Avoid the Bland: Here’s a good example of a mistake—in the second table, I have “Quiet, wants to keep the game going.” That’s not a great entry, since it has the potential to stop the interaction and make the adventurers move on. There’s no point to an NPC who says nothing beyond, “Go talk to someone else. I’m boring!” When you spot features like this in your tables, revamp them to make them more interesting.

Action: Try to seed your tables with traits and ideas that prompt action in your game. In both tables above, notice how the final column gives a simple personality trait and a description of how the NPC acts. In the heat of the moment, you know how to portray the NPC to get things moving. Once everyone starts roleplaying the interaction, that initial sense of how the NPC acts can drive things from there.

Bend, Fold, and Mutilate: Don’t allow random tables to dictate the adventure. Always remember that a table serves you and not the other way around. If an idea for a cool NPC pops into your head, just use it. Random tables should inspire your creativity, not replace it.

Columns, Not Rows: If you find yourself creating larger tables, try to keep them wider than they are deep. Each column of a table represents a broad type of attribute, while each row represents specific attributes within those types. It’s often harder to come up with lots of different specific attributes. For example, the number of potential races for your NPCs is usually low, and it’s much easier to come up with six distinct motivations for a soldier in the town guard rather than twenty. In my experience, the first few specific attributes are easy to generate, but once you need more than ten or twelve, you start to struggle for ideas.

More importantly, a table with more columns than rows actually gives you more options. For example, a table with six columns and six rows has the same number of entries as a table with three columns and twelve rows. But the first table gives you 46,656 possible combinations compared to the second table’s 1,728 possible results. At the same time, creating a smaller number of rows for each table means that there’s a better chance you’ll actually use a specific entry you created. That’s intelligent laziness in a nutshell: maximize the return on the work you do!

Take Notes: If you use a table to create a creature, location, or some other aspect of the game that is persistent, keep track of it. For example, when you create a random NPC, note the results, the character’s location, and so forth. Soon enough, you might have an entire city’s worth of NPCs at your disposal, each represented by a quick assortment of characteristics.

Keep it Fresh: Avoid using the same tables over and over again, and don’t be afraid to create new tables by carving up your old ones. Swap individual table columns around, create new columns as needed, and rotate out specific elements that you’ve used a few times. Don’t let your tables sit around long enough to start generating results that look too familiar to the players.

Quick and Easy Combat Color

Combat is a central component of the fun of D&D, and it’s even more interesting if you can present vivid descriptions of each spell and sword blow. During the course of a fight, the monsters and characters might make dozens of attacks. That’s a lot of description for a DM to create, especially on the fly, but using tables can help guide you in creating interesting battles.

The following tables are fairly simple, but they can help add color to otherwise mundane attacks.

Hit

 

 

d6

Location

Effect

1

Arm

Spray of blood

2

Leg

Growl of pain

3

Belly

Cut/crack in armor/hide

4

Shoulder

Weapon bites in, pulled out with a sharp tug

5

Torso

Crunch/crack of bones

6

Head

Target reels in pain

 

Miss

 

 

d6

Foe’s Action

Result

1

Saw attack coming

Foe ducks

2

Defensive stance

Shield block/armor absorbs

3

Lucky move avoided attack

Foe parries

4

Skilled defensive move

Foe dodges

5

Moves fast to recover

Foe takes only a scratch

6

Last second adjustment

Foe twists away

To make things more interesting, and to vary your descriptions, try creating tables customized for specific monsters. The following tables work for attacks against zombies and similar undead. To build the tables, I just thought about what an attack against a zombie might look like and wrote down descriptions as table entries. The beauty of this is that you can think about these interesting concepts and descriptions during your prep time. During a game, it can be harder to come up with such ideas without bogging down play.

Zombie Hit

 

 

d6

Location

Effect

1

Arm

Weapon buries into flesh/collapses flesh and bone

2

Leg

Dull moan of pain

3

Belly

Dead flesh or organs spill from wound

4

Shoulder

Wound that would be fatal to living (spear in eye, skull crushed)

5

Torso

Chunk of flesh falls from body

6

Head

Internal organ bursts

 

Zombie Miss

 

d6

Result

1

Attack smashes into body but fails to damage critical parts

2

Attack bounces off bone

3

Zombie grabs at weapon

4

Bones crack/blood flows, zombie ignores wound

5

Attack hits existing wounds

6

Zombie stumbles but shrugs off attack

These sorts of tables can also be developed for combat in specific locations, not just against certain types of foes. During a bar brawl, characters might miss on attacks because of drunk patrons stumbling into them. A pool of spilled beer could cause a warrior to slip, or an attack might succeed because a foe is hit and dazed by a thrown tankard at just the right moment.

About the Author

Mike Mearls has always been lazy, and he’s been a Dungeon Master for almost as long.

Publication date: 04/27/2015Introduction: Randomness is a DM’s best friend when filling out the details of your adventures, but good randomness requires smart prep.Tags: Featuresexternal_urls: Texture banner: HideBanner video: 

Experiments in building a 5e D&D race: The Shardmind.

Newbie DM - Mon, 04/27/2015 - 00:52

Shardmind

Here’s my 5e version of the Shardmind, a race introduced in the 4e PHB3. The Shardmind origin is described as the shattered pieces of a gate at the edge of the far realm. Or something to that effect. Honestly, I don’t know much about the mythology of 4e. So make the Shardmind’s  origin what you want I guess. I admit the fluff in this write-up was stolen from the PHB3. Just use the stats and invent an origin for your Shardmind.

This was an exercise in translating the stats and feel of the race to 5e. I think I came pretty close. Thoughts?

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B56oe0eWddruMUxoWUpabmotbEU/view?usp=sharing


Experiments in building a 5e D&D race: The Loxo

Newbie DM - Sun, 04/26/2015 - 14:29

I’ve been making monsters for 5e here and there, trying my hand at some homebrew design work, so I decided to try and make a new race for the game.

I felt like going outside the box in my thinking so I went with one of the less popular races, the Loxo. The Loxo became a race through Spelljammer… it’s basically a nomadic bipedal elephant with a split trunk. They favor druid and ranger classes. Here’s the thing I learned about race design in 5e… It’s a little different from previous editions, there aren’t a WHOLE lot of moving parts. Races get a few things and that’s it.

loxo

In 3e’s The Shining South supplement for Forgotten Realms, (where I’m basing this guy from) the Loxo had quite a few things it could do. It could rage like a barbarian when it saw other Loxo getting attacked, it also had a trample attack it could use to run over enemies, and finally a trunk attack. Thing is that in 5e, races don’t really get all these things. The dwarf for example, get some skill proficiencies, advantage on saving throws, weapon training… there’s no offensive attacks or anything of the sort.

So what did I do to the Loxo? Instead of a damage causing trample attack, I made it so that he can walk on occupied spaces when there is a creature a smaller size than it and have it NOT be difficult terrain… Instead of a rage like a barbarian, I gave it Advantage on the first attack against an enemy attacking a Loxo (or a companion). And I did give it proficiency with natural weapon so he could use his trunk as a 1d8 bludgeoning damage weapon.

These are things that I ~think~ manage to keep the flavor of the Loxo’s abilities, without adding too many things outside the scope of 5e design. I also made him a +2 WIS creature, since that was missing from the player’s handbook and I thought it would be an interesting thing since they tend to favor druids.

Here’s what I came up with for my first attempt… let me know what you think.

http://bit.ly/1OqBXGj


The Soulforge

Flickr Dungeons and Dragons Tag Feed - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 01:58

b316728 has added a photo to the pool:

The Soulforge

The Soulforge, by Margaret Weis, TSR/WOTC 1999. Cover art by Larry Elmore.

ISBN 0-7869-1314-2

Categories: Dungeons and Dragons

Dragons of Mystery

Flickr Dungeons and Dragons Tag Feed - Sat, 04/25/2015 - 01:57

b316728 has added a photo to the pool:

Dragons of Mystery

Laurana Kanan by Larry Elmore in Dragons of Mystery (DL5).

Categories: Dungeons and Dragons

5e Monsters: Korred and Froghemoth

Newbie DM - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 07:42

Continuing my conversion of older D&D monsters to 5e, here are two interesting monsters for you to use in your 5th ed. game: the korred (for low level play), and the froghemoth (made for higher level parties to face).

The korred are forest fey, fond of singing, dancing and nature. Thematically, they are close to druids, and are described as being extremely hairy, reclusive and not fond of outsiders entering their forest regions.

The korred first appeared in the 1st Edition Monster Manual 2. It was also the subject of an “Ecology Of…” article in Dragon 119, written by Ed Greenwood, and subsequently it was updated for both 2nd and 3rd editions of the game.

korred

You can find my version of the 5e korred here. I made it a Challenge 1 creature.

Next is the huge tentacled walking frog known as the froghemoth. This massive swamp monster first appeared in the seminal adventure “Expedition to the Barrier Peaks”, and later would find its way to the Monster Manual 2 for 1st. Edition of AD&D. It has since been updated for 2nd Ed. and 3rd and in various third party products.

Incidentally, I only made it because Chris Perkins mentioned it on twitter and I decided to stat it up. Otherwise, it wasn’t really on my list of monsters to update to 5th, so thanks Chris!

Froghemoth

Get the froghemoth here. I made this one a Challenge 15 creature.

If you would like to support NewbieDM.com, perhaps you’d consider visiting Amazon.com for your next rpg related purchase. Check out the following products:

World of Greyhawk AD&D Boxed Set

Menzoberranzan AD&D Boxed Set

Conquest of Nerath: A D&D Boardgame

Legend of Drizzt: A D&D Boardgame


Azure Bonds

Flickr Dungeons and Dragons Tag Feed - Fri, 04/24/2015 - 03:15

b316728 has added a photo to the pool:

Azure Bonds

Azure Bonds, by Kate Novak & Jeff Grubb, 1988. Cover art by Clyde Caldwell.

Categories: Dungeons and Dragons

An Elementary Look at the Planes

Wizards of the Coast D&D - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 11:00
Type: FeaturesAuthor: Shannon AppelclineSubtitle: D&D AlumniBanner: Thumbnail (869x490): Text: 

Air, earth, fire, and water elementals are as old as the D&D game, appearing in the original Dungeons & Dragons rules (1974). However, these elementals only became part of something larger when Gary Gygax introduced a cosmology for Dungeons & Dragons in Dragon magazine. In issue 8 (July 1977), he laid out an entire “Great Wheel” that included “the ultra-pure Elemental Planes of air, fire, earth and water.” Those four “Inner Planes” existed alongside the material plane and the almost-elemental positive and negative material planes. Gygax didn’t provide many details, but it was a first look at a cosmic conception.

The Great Wheel was officially incorporated into Advanced Dungeons & Dragons in the Player’s Handbook (1978). Meanwhile, over in Dragon magazine, author Jefferson Swycaffer was contemplating other possibilities. In Dragon 27 (July 1979), Swycaffer suggested a complex set of eighteen planes. First, he introduced four new elements—cold, dry, hot, and moist—each of which lay between two of the existing elements. Then he added two new planes lying above and below the elemental planes: good and evil. Finally, he added four planes between good and the elements—beginning, fertility, light, and pleasure—and four planes that lay between evil and the elements—barren, darkness, ending, and pain. The result was an elemental globe.

Though Swycaffer’s elemental planes were totally unofficial, Gygax liked the idea. In Dragon 32 (December 1979), Gygax said that he also had been thinking about the elemental “borderlands.” He revealed the results in Deities & Demigods (1980), which contained the first official expansion of the elemental planes. Now four paraelemental planes lay between the various elemental planes: ice between air and water; dust between air and fire; heat between fire and earth; and vapor between earth and water.

Three years later, the elemental planes grew again. It started in April with the publication of the adventure The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror (1983), which featured a new monster called the lightning quasielemental, said to inhabit “the Elemental Plane of Air and the Positive Material Plane.” Gygax explained the expanded elemental cosmology more fully in Dragon 73 (May 1983), published around the same time. Swycaffer’s elemental globe had become an elemental cube, with the elemental planes and paraelemental planes around the middle, the positive material plane at the top, and the negative material plane at the bottom. The brand-new quasielemental planes lay between the traditional elemental planes and the two energy planes—which Swycaffer had replaced with good and evil in his own model. There were thus eight quasielemental planes. The positive side of things contained lightning (near air), steam (near water), radiance (near fire), and mineral (near earth), while the negative side included vacuum (near air), salts (near water), ash (near fire), and dust (near earth).  

Later that year, Monster Manual II (1983) revealed a complete set of paraelementals, though three of the names were changed: a smoke elemental rose from the dust plane, a magma elemental rose from the heat plane, and an ooze elemental rose from the vapor plane. The book also reprinted the lightning-based quasielemental.

The elemental planes as imagined by Gary Gygax for AD&D had reached their ultimate form. Jeff Grubb then produced a final supplement to Gygax’s primordial elements in Manual of the Planes (1987). That book devoted nearly forty pages to the eighteen Inner Planes, including the paraelemental and quasielemental planes. Author Jeff Grubb even got to stat up the missing quasielementals in Dragon 125 (September 1987) and Dragon 128 (December 1987).

Elemental Adventures: 1979–1989

Elemental monsters like those that appeared in original D&D, the Monster Manual, and Dragon magazine were the height of elemental adventuring in the 1970s and 1980s. The elemental planes were seen as a dangerous and inhospitable place, so adventurers didn’t go there. Instead, elemental adventures occurred when the elemental planes intruded on the material plane.

This idea was made explicit with the Elemental Princes of Evil, an original set of elemental monsters by Lewis Pulsipher that first appeared in the Fiend Folio (1981). Frank Mentzer saw their potential and used four of them—Imix, Ogremoch, Olhydra, and Yan-C-Bin—in the RPGA adventure The Egg of the Phoenix (1982), later collected as part of the TSR adventure module Egg of the Phoenix (1987). It was the first major encroachment of the elements into the world of D&D adventuring.

Meanwhile, Gary Gygax was working on his own elemental adventure. Though The Village of Hommlet (1979) hinted at the topic, it took several years until The Temple of Elemental Evil (1985) revealed Gygax’s full elemental plan. Instead of elemental monsters or elemental gods, Gygax focused on a new way to bring the elements to the world of D&D. The eponymous temple contains four elemental nodes, described as “cauldrons, used to mix evil and elemental forces in an unholy recipe.” In other words, each node was an elemental miniplane that allowed for exciting elemental adventuring without facing the deadly rigors of the actual Inner Planes.

Other than a short adventure for each elemental plane in Tales of the Outer Planes (1988), that was the extent of elemental adventuring prior to the advent of AD&D second edition in 1989.

Elemental Settings: 1991–1998

The 1990s saw the development of a plethora of new settings for D&D, many of which were able to incorporate elemental themes more fully than the adventures of the 1980s. Whether you wanted to travel to the elemental planes or to feature elementals more in material plane adventuring, the 1990s had what you desired.

The Dark Sun campaign setting (1991) used the old trope of bringing the elements to the PCs, but it did so in an unusual way that gave them particular prominence. There were no gods in Dark Sun’s world of Athas, so priests instead worshiped elemental powers. Though this idea was with the setting from the start, it received extended attention in D&D’s first-ever elemental supplement—Earth, Air, Fire, and Water (1993), a resource for Dark Sun players.

Earth, Air, Fire, and Water also introduced the paraelemental priest, who worshipped those elements lying on the borders. However, Dark Sun’s paraelements were different from those defined by Gary Gygax—revealing that the Dark Sun setting broke with D&D’s core cosmology. Its paraelementals were instead based on natural phenomena: rain lay between air and water; sun between air and fire; magma between fire and earth; and silt between earth and water.

The Al-Qadim campaign setting (1992) didn’t place the elements in such a central role, but the adventure Secrets of the Lamp (1993) did give special attention to one location on the Elemental Plane of Fire. That was the City of Brass—the great settlement of the efreet that had appeared on the cover of the first edition Dungeon Master’s Guide (1979). The city received initial attention in the late 1980s when it was briefly mentioned in Manual of the Planes (1987). Shortly afterward, it appeared in a pair of adventures: an unpublished RPGA tournament by Rob Kuntz called To the City of Brass (1987) and a short adventure in Tales of the Outer Planes (1988) called “Through the Fire.” These adventures demonstrated why the City of Brass was interesting. Though located in the Elemental Plane of Fire, it was a livable location and not just a place of wild flames—which made it perfect for adventuring.

Planescape (1994) was the last setting of the 1990s to place an emphasis on the elements. One of its core mandates was to make all the planes more playable, so for the first time ever, players would have regular opportunities to visit the elemental planes, rather than having the elements of the planes come to them.

All sixteen elemental planes got some attention in the Planescape Campaign Setting (1994). Then the designers immediately put those ideas to work in the first Planescape adventure, The Eternal Boundary (1994), which includes a trip to the Elemental Plane of Fire. Taking a page from Al-Qadim, The Eternal Boundary takes players to a set, civilized locale—a “citadel of fire.” However, the elemental planes only really came into their own with the publication of the Planescape expansion The Inner Planes (1998), which devoted a full chapter to each of the sixteen planes. By focusing on the inhabitants and numerous sites of each plane, the book provided a sound basis for adventuring—one that remains a useful primer on the elemental planes to this day.

Modern Elementals: 2000–Present

In the last few editions of D&D, the elemental planes have been ever-changing.

D&D third edition (2000) gave the elemental planes their spotlight in a new Manual of the Planes (2001). The overall structure of the elemental planes and the energy planes was similar to that found in Planescape, but the paraelemental and quasielemental planes were described only as places where elements and energies mixed. They were no longer named nor detailed.

D&D fourth edition (2008) reinvented the Dungeons & Dragons cosmology, and the elemental planes became part of the Elemental Chaos. As explained in the newest iteration of Manual of the Planes (2008), the Elemental Chaos was the “raw material of creation.” Now instead of being theoretical building blocks, the home of the elements was clearly linked to the reality of the material plane itself. However, the Elemental Chaos was more than just the former elemental planes. It was also home to many different planar creatures, from the primordials (including the elemental princes) that shaped the world, to the demons that lived in the Abyss that was an adjunct of the Elemental Chaos. Despite these changes, the elemental planes’ prime destination—the City of Brass—survived the transition.



Fourth edition D&D’s cosmology—known as the World Axis—was well integrated into the game, providing power sources, character themes, and background settings alike. As a result, the elemental planes of fourth edition received the best attention since the end of the Planescape setting. More details on the elements appeared in The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos (2009), while players could access elemental-influenced powers following the publication of Heroes of the Elemental Chaos (2012).

D&D fifth edition (2014) largely returned to the older Great Wheel cosmology, but the Inner Planes retain aspects of the World Axis. The four elemental planes are back, but they remain tightly integrated with the material plane as its creative foundation. The paraelemental planes have also returned for the first time since Planescape, but they have more evocative names. The Plane of Ash is known as the Great Conflagration, the Plane of Ice is the Frostfell, the Plane of Magma is the Fountains of Creation, and the Plane of Ooze is the Swamp of Oblivion. Additionally, the Elemental Chaos is the churning realm within which the Inner Planes are held.

This organization reflects Mike Mearls’s goal to make the elemental planes “places to visit and explore”—a notion influenced by the writings of Michael Moorcock and Roger Zelazny. As a result, the elemental planes are more habitable toward their interiors where they touch the material plane, and weirder toward their outskirts as they descend into the Elemental Chaos.

Making the elemental planes a destination for adventuring is a noble goal—because making those planes playable is something that D&D has been striving toward for a full forty years.

About the Author

Shannon Appelcline has been roleplaying since his dad taught him Basic D&D in the early ’80s. He’s the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons, a four-volume history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time.

Publication date: 04/23/2015Introduction: The elemental planes have long been a source of adventure in Dungeons & Dragons. Princes of the Apocalypse marks D&D’s latest delve into the world of the elements—a constant presence within the game since its inception.Tags: D&D Alumniexternal_urls: Texture banner: HideBanner video: 

5e Monsters: Dragonne and Dark Creeper

Newbie DM - Thu, 04/23/2015 - 07:18

Here are two more monsters to add to your 5e D&D games.

First, the Dragonne, a sphynx like magical creature described as “cross between a brass dragon and a giant lion”. These creatures have their D&D beginnings way back in the 1ed. Monster Manual. Their defining traits across all editions were its roar and its desire for solitude, both which I attempted to capture with this 5e conversion, which made it a Challenge 6 monster.

Dragonne as seen in the 1st ed. Monster Manual

Dragonne as seen in the 1st ed. Monster Manual

Find the dragonne here. 

Next is the Dark Creeper (I had previously made this one available but I’ve tweaked it due to feedback and basically incorrect 5e monster design work on my part.) The Dark Creeper is a Challenge 2 creature with the power to see in magical darkness. They like to use poisons and have a sneak attack trait as part of their combat tactics. The 1e Fiend Folio described them as having a fondness for magical items and a spontaneous combustion upon death, both traits that I’ve tried to emulate with this conversion. The dark creeper has appeared in all editions of D&D, most recently in the 4th Ed. Monster Manual.

Dark Creeper as seen in the 1st ed. Fiend Folio

Dark Creeper as seen in the 1st ed. Fiend Folio

Find the Dark Creeper here. 

If you would like to support NewbieDM.com, perhaps you’d consider visiting Amazon.com for your next rpg related purchase. Check out the following products:

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The Temple of Elemental Evil

Flickr Dungeons and Dragons Tag Feed - Wed, 04/22/2015 - 09:35

b316728 has added a photo to the pool:

The Temple of Elemental Evil

The Temple of Elemental Evil, WOTC 2001. Cover art by Jon Sullivan.

Categories: Dungeons and Dragons

5e Monster: Living Wall

Newbie DM - Tue, 04/21/2015 - 09:00

The Living Wall… one of those… weird monsters that D&D is sometimes famous for, this one appeared in the game through the Ravenloft campaign setting for 2nd ed. It’s a section of wall made up of the corpses of creatures (read adventurers) it has absorbed and taken up as part of its structure. Above all else Its ultimate desire is to kill the one that created it. Evil wizards usually create it to guard a location or object.

livingwall

I was asked to try to make one for 5e, but when I read the 2e description I thought that it wouldn’t translate well (it has as many attacks as creatures absorbed, so it could attack like 15 times if it absorbed 15 fighters), so I changed some things for 5e and took some liberties. I also changed the alignment, it just didn’t really read as a Chaotic Evil creature to me.

So here’s my version of it. A Challenge 6 critter that tries to absorb you into its structure. It has various weapon attacks and can cast spells (to represent other adventurers it has absorbed). It has magic resistance, an illusory appearance, and if it absorbs a character, it gains its hit points.

Check it out, tell me what you think. Where would you put one of these in an adventure?


Elder Brain for 5e

Newbie DM - Sun, 04/19/2015 - 23:11

ElderBran2

Here’s my version of an Elder Brain… a mind flayer city’s god-like center of attention.
I made it a Challenge 22 legendary creature, with lair and regional effects. It spawns a brain golem, a challenge 5 creature with mind blasting powers as well as slam attacks. This can make for a dangerously nasty encounter.

Let me know what you think!

Find it here


Fauci Grondanti Luce (Madre di Lupi) - Imago #10 - Di Undici Foglie - Dino Olivieri

Flickr Dungeons and Dragons Tag Feed - Sun, 04/19/2015 - 16:00

! / dino olivieri / www.onyrix.com has added a photo to the pool:

Fauci Grondanti Luce (Madre di Lupi) - Imago #10 - Di Undici Foglie - Dino Olivieri

this is an illustration of my next real book (not an ebook) "Di Undici Foglie".
Please support me and pre-order at:
www.kapipal.com/di-undici-foglie


illustrazione tratta dal mio nuovo romanzo cartaceo (non un ebook) "Di Undici Foglie".
Perfavore contribuite alla causa e pre-acquistate su:
www.kapipal.com/di-undici-foglie


Illustration from ebook "Di Undici Foglie" by Dino Olivieri
Luce - Di Undici Foglie © Dino Olivieri (low res)
all rights reserved.

More amazing stories on www.onyrix.com
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Categories: Dungeons and Dragons

Madre di Lupi - imago #10 - work in progress - Di Undici Foglie - Dino Olivieri

Flickr Dungeons and Dragons Tag Feed - Sat, 04/18/2015 - 11:40

! / dino olivieri / www.onyrix.com has added a photo to the pool:

Madre di Lupi - imago #10 - work in progress - Di  Undici Foglie - Dino Olivieri

"Alla fine delle estati che verranno,
una vecchia sorgerà guerriera
su una foresta di ghiaccio e di metallo.
Madre di lupi, li nutrirà e li libererà
affinché divorino il buio e la luce delle stelle."

Acquista o supporta il romanzo illustrato: Di Undici Foglie - Dino Olivieri, su
www.kapipal.com/di-undici-foglie

Categories: Dungeons and Dragons

Kalavakus

Flickr Dungeons and Dragons Tag Feed - Fri, 04/17/2015 - 18:55

ridureyu1 has added a photo to the pool:

Kalavakus

These horned demons are Hell's slave drivers.

Categories: Dungeons and Dragons
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