The Ishim: Counterpoint to the Imp

 

The counterpoint to the imp; there are no monsters that are a good counterpoint to the imp in D&D and its ilk. There are lantern archons, and other such beings, but nothing really comes close to an iconic creature that would serve as the mirror to the imp the way that some angels have equals among the higher ranks of demon kind.

So here is the Ishim.glowing_halo_op_640x560

Ishim
Small Celestial, lawful good
Armor Class 13
Hit Points 11 (2d6 + 4)
Speed fly 40 ft. (hover)
Str 4 (-3), Dex 17 (+3), Con 14 (+2), Int 11 (+0), Wis 13 (+1), Cha 14 (+2)
Skills Intimidation +3, Insight +3, Persuasion +4, Stealth +5
Damage Resistances lightning; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Damage Immunities fire, radiant
Condition Immunities deafened, exhaustion, poisoned, prone, restrained
Senses blindsight 120 ft., passive Perception 11
Languages Celestial, Common
Challenge 1 (200 XP)
Messenger. The ishim is the messenger for the divine host, and projects its voice magically to all who can hear within 100 feet. The ishim has advantage on intimidate checks when it uses its booming voice.
Magic Resistance.
The ishim has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Tongue of Flame. The ishim can speak and understand any language. Additionally, it has an aura that grants this ability to any creature within 50 feet that can speak and understand a language.

Actions
Divine Flame.
Ranged Attack: +5 to hit, range 30 ft., one target.Hit: 13 (3d8) radiant damage.
Divine Speech (Recharge 6).
The ishim utters a holy phrase. Enemy creatures within 100 feet must make a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw, becoming frightened for 1 round on a failure. Creatures that fail this saving throw by 5 or more are frightened for 1d4 rounds.
Invisibility.
The ishim magically turns invisible until it attacks or until its concentration ends (as if concentrating on a spell).

An Ishim appears as a small glowing halo, sometimes literally a golden shining hoop, at other times as a glimmering mandala of symbols and numbers, but always with a golden light. Though small, the light it sheds makes it appear larger or at least more imposting.

The ishim is an exalted celestial creature that occupies the third sphere. They are the divine messengers, and are either born into existence by divine will, or are the exalted souls of righteous men of piety. Ishim are just as likely to deliver a word of warning to a man about to commit a grievous sin as they are to warn a city of impending catastrophe. Their minds are mysterious, following the vaulted edict of the diving host, and rarely speak outside of their intended message.

In rare situations, a person is deemed to have a pious destiny may have an ishim granted to them, in which case the ishim becomes a doting mentor and guardian. Such cases are exceedingly rare, and recipients of this mentorship are usually cloistered by mortal agents seeking to protect the individual.

Limitless Adventures and Boundless Encounters

limitless-adventuresSo, Limitless Adventures has reached out to me and asked that I review their products. I want to refer you to my reviews page so that you can see the reviews that I’ve posted, but let me say in brief that the Limitless Adventure series of encounters is excellent! I’ve had the pleasure of looking over both the Storm King’s Thunder and the Sword Coast iterations of encounters, and they have some excellent and brief encounters that can replace those tedious random table encounters.

Please check them out, as they are excellent and brief encounters that can fill out a session or be themselves expanded to a thorough story. There are even “Further Adventure” notes that excellently suggest ways to expand each encounter into something more interesting.

In addition, I wanted to help announce that Limitless Adventure has a Kickstarter  that will be a collection of the first 15 encounter products from their line. Here are some highlights.

  • 150 fully detailed encounters set in 12 different environments
  • OGL stat blocks for all mosnters
  • Creative, CR appropriate treasure
  • 451 “further adventure ™” writing prompts

You will have your choice of PDF or softcoverprint copy (color and black and white options available).

Judging from the excellent nature of the encounters that I have already seen, I look forward to the compilation, as should you. If you want to see for yourself, have a look at the Limitless Adventure website and see the products that they have available, including a few free products.

Oh, and here is the link to the kickstarter!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/limitless-adventures/limitless-encounters-vol-1

 

Wednesday World Building: Flunked out of the Magic Academy

rincewind1
Apparently, pointy hats do not a wizard make.

Backgrounds are pretty neat, but they tend to be pretty mundane. 5th Edition, by and large, is encompassed by a world of fantasy rife with magic and the supernatural.

But what of when magic fails? Other than those to whom magic comes naturally as with sorcerers, or those granted power as with Warlocks and Clerics, Wizards must learn. Wizardry in particular is a rigorous field that one must seek out and master. Your specific setting might have wizardry academies or cloistered wizards that carefully choose single inheritors. but there will always be those that take up the call of magic, and fail.

schmendrick

New Background- Failed Magician

You came to be an apprentice, but it never took. Whether you just never had the knack, or you squandered your opportunity for arcane might through a series of bad choices or mistakes, you were rejected and turned away from magic while in the middle of your training. You know enough to get you in trouble, and this rudimentary but incomplete knowledge has proven to be more of a liability at times.

Your new path fills you with enthusiasm, but you can still harken back to the times scrubbing out old potion bottles or attempting to read from an animate book, and can recite rudimentary magical principals with ease, though this does not mean anything without a more thorough background in magic.

There is perhaps a wizard academy or cabal that resents you for spurning the gift of magic, or you may be marked by some strange magical aura that highlights the shame inherent in failing at the pursuit of magic. This tends to manifest itself as an immediate recognition by other mages that you were once meant for a life of magic. You either find kinship with other magic users, or rue their eccentric ways.

To your other companions, you might either hide that part of your life, or underscore your past by regaling them with the story of your excommunication. Whatever the case, it is likely that your past will come back to haunt you in any number of interesting ways, whether by zealous witch hunters, unpaid magic guild fees, or a situation that calls for your limited understanding of magic.

Skills: Arcana, Perception

Language: Two of your choice.

Equipment: A magical encyclopedia, chalk, apprentice robes, a ritual dagger,

Feature: Hedge Magic
You know the basest bits of magic, and it’s been enough to get you into trouble, especially when those around you assume you know more. You may either elect to be able to cast ritual magic, with knowledge of one ritual selected from level 1, selected from any spell list. Alternately, they may know one cantrip that can be used twice per day. In either case, you must make an Intelligence (arcana) check with a DC of 12. The spell is cast as normal on a success. Otherwise, the spell fails without counting towards your uses per day.

Alternate Feature: Cursed Caster
You have learned magic, but your understanding of it is flawed. You may cast one spell from level 1 or 2 from the wizard spell list. Each time you cast it, you must make an Intelligence (arcana) check with a DC of 15. If you succeed, you cast the spell with no negative consequences. If you fail, you cast the spell as normal, but receive a curse. The nature of the curse can be anything from being polymorphed into a mouse to being poisoned. In either case, the effect lasts for 1 minute. Any effect that would end the curse is expensive, either doubling listed costs or costing 1000 gold in addition to any other requirements. Work with your game master to come up with an appropriate spell choice and curse feature. A player must remove this curse before being able to pursue class levels in wizard or sorcerer.

Suggested Characteristics:
Failed spellcasters come from all walks of life, from apprentices turned charlatans to desperate students researching forbidden tomes. They may come from all walks of life, but their interest in the arcane arts are as steadfast as they are misplaced. Some abandon the further study of magic, while others seek to pursue a deeper magical career.

d8 Personality Traits
1- I clutch an empty spellbook when nervous, and refuse to let people touch it.
2- I was maimed once by a spell, and react viscerally when I hear or see it.
3- If it has to do with magic, I can’t resist knowing more!
4- I whisper unless I absolutely need to speak louder. My old teacher might be listening…
5- I make a mystic hand sign to ward off bad luck and evil spirits.
6- I doodle magical symbols on EVERYTHING!
7- I am a real magician. I’m even dressed as one!
8- I carry a wand, and I think that it’s real.

d6 Ideals
1- Freedom. No one should be forced into servitude.
2- Fairness. The privileged should not hoard all mystic might.
3- Pilgrimage. There is a new path that leads away from magic, towards destiny!
4- People. Magic should be used for the good of all!
5- Responsibility. Magic can be dangerous, and should not be taken lightly.
6- Aspiration. Magic is the key to a better life.

d6 Bonds
1- Arcane secrets should be kept secret.
2- I’m dedicated to learning magic the right way!
3- I won’t let anyone else suffer as I did as an apprentice.
4- I wish to prove my innocence at the academy and be reinstated as a student.
5- I always wanted to meet that one nymph… it’s why I learned magic!
6- I’ll have a student of my own someday!

d6 Flaws
1- I will use any magical item or device without thinking.
2- I think I can brew potions.
3- I refuse to use any magic that is not my own!
4- An old mentor is angry with me, and seeks me out for revenge.
5- When it comes to magic, I stubbornly refuse to admit when I’m wrong, even in the face of danger.
6- I’m aggressively competitive with real magicians.

Good News Everyone! I’m Published!

goodnews

So I finally have my name in print! … again. Well, you see, I’ve been published before, and though that almost doesn’t even count, I’m glad to be back in the game. So what did I write?

Have a look here.

It’s a short but awesome product about occult rituals in 5th edition. I’m quite fascinated with the spell category that encompasses rituals, because it opens up utilitarian spells to any class, provided you use the optional feat rules. But I took it one step further! Sidebar #1, Occult Ritual Magic gives you dangerous magic that anyone can try, including a nifty table that encompasses any ritual spell miscasting.

dtmwfi

Monday Mayhem: Extreme Weather

Real World Extreme Weather

Weather tends to be an afterthought for most games. Usually, it is showcased as some feature of the terrain, such as a desert that has frequent sandstorms, or a polar region so cold that you have to be equipped for it. If these things are not in themselves self-evident, then weather is largely ignored.

And I’m not suddenly advocating that you become a meteorologist as part of your session prep, but rather that you SHOULD focus on the extremes. More extreme than polar cold, more dangerous than being caught in a sandstorm.

I recall Final Fantasy 10 having a segment in it in which you had to cross a region so beset with lightning that you could potentially get struck dozens of times while crossing it. While this may seem a bit odd, that is the kind of adventure design that sticks in the head of the player. Though I admit, the even stranger “dodge 100 lightning strikes in a row” mini game might also have contributed to its remarkability.

But I digress. Fantasy games have a special leeway in presenting extraordinary weather that may seem outlandish. If the link above is any indication, Earth has its own extraordinary weather patterns. Shoot for the moon with your weird weather!

Let’s try this…

Sentient Tornado-
On the eastern plains of Selna there exist a great number of oddities that dot the map, pronounced all the more against the otherwise featureless plains. Among those oddities is the Walking Wind, a legend of a sentient tornado that stalks the plains with some bizarre agenda. Though many dismiss the stories as superstitious nonsense, and cite the tornado seasons seen on other continents, many claim to have seen the tornado at all times of the year, moving to and fro as if by determination.

The legends claim that it chases after treasure hunters, and that it guards the opening to ancient crypts and vaults. The only definitive text on the matter is the journal of Andrew Hunt, an explorer and researcher that set out to verify the nature of the tornado. His accounts detail a strange and careful study of the alleged tornado, having observed it carefully for over two weeks. Hunt was never able to present his findings; his tattered journal was all that remains of him.

The Jhorrund, perhaps the only people that can speak of the tornado with any authority claim that it is an ancient nature spirit that has become angry, and would see its territory scoured of all humanoid life. Whatever the truth may be, the tornado (or tornadoes) continue to claim the lives of those foolish enough to enter the area.

Rules:
The Walking Wind is a tornado, and an extreme weather effect that targets any biped traveling along a stretch of territory approximately 200 square miles. The tornado travels at roughly 50 miles per hour, or 250 ft per round. Anyone caught within 200 ft of the tornado is pulled up in the air, and thrown a great distance in a random direction. Assume 15d6 falling damage whenever they land.

The tornado will always throw its victims away from its territory, at times whipping victims as far as 10 miles away. Anyone that has the ability to fly, hover, glide, or slowfall is not subject to this damage, but is still thrown for the entire distance as determined by the game master. The Walking Wind is known to try and scare people from its territory, moving slowly to warn intruders before advancing menacingly.

The Walking Wind is considered to have a strength score of 50 for the purposes of pushing and moving creatures. Although it is a sentient weather hazard, it does not have hit points, and can only be temporarily dispelled by powerful weather control magics. A wish or miracle may dispel it permanently, but the tornado exists as a powerful runic curse, and as such may be subject to a specific condition that will finally quell the Walking Wind for good. Obscure legends tell that it’s rune is carved somewhere along the plains, and that dispelling that rune may be the key to quelling the strange tornado.

(Ok, that’s over 600 words, so sue me)

Lame “next week I promise” post

Hi everyone,

The few of you that read this blog might have been disappointed that I did not post this week.

I was doing pretty good for a while as far as keeping my schedule, but this week just fell through. Rather than just chalk it up to a bad week, I thought that I would write a brief something to at least inform you that I have not been entirely dormant.

I have been writing! Just not for this blog, and not even for Diem Mundi, but I shall soon return to the mini-setting as well as some insights into game design. Within the week, I should also be adding more reviews, and updating the mini-setting tab with additional information (including a much needed society section added to the fox folk).

For now, I want to extend my thanks to Raging Swan for helping me to run a most excellent 5th edition campaign. Although I will try not to sound like an infomercial, their array of products have helped tremendously with my prep time. If you do any sort of fantasy role playing, please see their patreon page, and give some support. You won’t be sorry that you did.

Raging Swan Patreon page

Also, I must share with you that part of my writing has been for some projects at Fat Goblin Games. There are some exciting new things coming in the next few months, including more Call to Arms guides, more Astonishing Race guides, more Vathak support  in the form of three new core rule books, and much more! With luck, I will soon be posting about the projects to which I’ve contributed.

Fat Goblin Games

If you’ve had enough of me selling you on these companies, I will leave you with something more thoughtful.

homer D&D

As I continue to learn about new games, I find myself continually impressed with new approaches to old games. For instance, the so-called Old School Renaissance is actually a rather apt name, as it is not simply a return to old sensibilities, but a reinterpretation of the foundations of the game through newly learned methodologies. It is an improvement without losing the soul of the game, or so I would argue.

13th Age has caught, my interest. It grabs you by the lapels and tells you to role play, or at least define your character in such a way that he stands out from others by description alone. I think I might see what I can learn from it and perhaps integrate this into 5th edition, though 5e already does a great job of evoking characters as people and not character classes. I only regret that these games were not around 15 years ago.

I would also like to eventually discuss my love for the Storyteller system. As I am left without a game (other than the one I am running), I consider either digging back into the Storyteller System, given the recent revisions to some of my favorite games. Even if I were to run a game, I would be happy to once again pick up a handful of d10’s with a mix of hope and fear. It’s an exciting prospect.

5e Free Mini Campaign part 4: Talhanas, and Two Adventure locations

Talhanas: A New Nation of Blended Cultures-

800px-Linzi_model_2010_06_06

Among the most interesting cultures to come to Selna is the Nation of Talhanas. Talhanas is not a colony, but rather a nation born out of the cultural blending of the Jhorrund and the Walkonians. So closely had they become that a number of Walkonians had begun to romanticize the nomadic lifestyle of the Jhorrund, which was of course reciprocated by the nomads that took interest in the relatively exotic immigrants.

Many of these relationships had altered entire tribes, and emptied entire villages, as the cultural exchange became a wild and unpredictable journey. The journey ended in a relatively benevolent surprise, as the resulting product was a splinter nation, a merging of the two cultures into something entirely unique. Some see Talhanas as a watering down of the respective cultures, and fear for what it could mean for all three societies, though these dissenters are relatively few in number.

And so was born the city-state of Talhanas. Initially created as a trading post, the settlement quickly grew from visitors and immigrants that wanted to live a different life than those offered by the Jhorrund or Walkonians. Though the city-state is treated as a sister tribe by the Jhorrund, the resulting leadership has since declared sovereignty, recognizing that the burgeoning culture was not compatible with strict Jhorrund traditions.

Despite the stark divide, Talhanas acts as an able go-between for Walkonia and the Jhorrund, and maintains amiable relations with both nations. It has begun to consider expansion into untamed lands, and has commissioned several charters for these purposes.

The society of Talhanas is indeed unique, and combines a respect for the land with the benefits of a stationary culture. There are many people of Talhanas that wander within the bounds of the territory, maintaining a semi-nomadic lifestyle, but even the prospect of a central hub is a vastly different cultural experience than the nomadic life of the Jhorrund.

Culturally, Talhanas is focused on respect, honor, and a simple life. While not exactly Spartan, many farmers and city folk are expected to practice a habitual austerity for the sake of those unable to sustain themselves. Many of the composite communities see it as their duty to raise up the less fortunate for the sake of all.

Attempts by outsiders to alter these values are usually met with anger and even violence. It is difficult, for instance, to see any enterprising merchants make a profitable living within the city state of Talhanas. Any such endeavors tend to be appropriately understated.

On the topics of war and conflict, Talhanas is both too peaceful and too new to participate in any military campaign. However, they do offer some assistance to the Jhorrund in crafting war supplies. The Talhanas sensibility has led them to a special appreciation of crafting in general, and Talhanas  arms and armor are treasured across the continent.

Despite being approximately 70 years old, Talhanas is among the most impressive cities on the continent. As they expand their settlement into the countryside, they have stumbled across various ancient secrets. Even now, the site of a planned expansion has been stalled due to the discovery of an older city buried by time.

Castle of Thundering Bells- An adventure location.

Abandoned-place3-568x426

On the lonely plains of Selna’s eastern half stands a monumental castle that stands out against the horizon. It is surrounded by featureless plains, the only feature for hundreds of leagues. So old it is that it appears to some as a lonely green hill from a great distance, as it has been covered with moss and ivy that cling to its walls tenaciously.

The castle is large, and may have been a redoubt in some ancient war that even the Adventists had forgotten in their hey day. Whatever its purpose may have been can only be guessed at, for it holds a powerful curse to this day. Within its walls, all sound is silenced. This effect supersedes the strongest magics, and may be the work of an artifact buried deep within. However, as one attempts to skulk within the ancient halls, a sound disturbs reality, as it resounds from within each intruder; a bell.

Faint at first, the incessant ringing grows ever more oppressive. Within an hour, the maddening gong drives most intruders out. Those that resist the bell will find themselves lost within the maze of the castle, surrendered to addled madness with the castle as their tomb.

Curiously, those who are somehow permanently deaf are left undisturbed by the gongs, but attempts by such people to enter the castle have all failed. None have seen what fate awaits the deaf treasure hunters that enter.

The castle has long been a subject of curiosity for many of the colonists of Selna. Jhorrund tribes are banned from going, though this has not stopped the occasional tribe member from attempting to plumb the depths of the castle for treasure or knowledge. Kaldornians have continually attempted to experiment with the castle’s strange properties, only to lose vast sums of research grants, at the least.

The curious rumor that seems to have circulated recently is that the castle is showing signs of change; the moss has been receding. Astronomers have tied these changes to an upcoming astrological event. It could be that for a short time, the castle will relinquish its secrets to those who have an abundance of bravery or recklessness.

A Missive to the East Walkonian Magistrate:
“A strange and disturbing discovery was made near a the hamlet of Merzost. Unauthorized explorers have uncovered an ancient ruin that contains an ancient technology. The locals are beset with anxiety as tales of the ancient complex become known, and imaginations run wild with the curses and terrible dangers that might spill out.

The Walkonian Guild of Explorers has quickly apprehended the perpetrators, and they have been found to be spies from Kal Dor. My sources tell me that they were intent on discovering alchemical secrets. We have already done a thorough search of the complex, and found nothing.

We are fortunate in one respect; the place has been empty for centuries, and it seems that it was in disuse. The troubling thing is that it did contain a map… I have it in my possession for safekeeping, but it details three additional areas, and we cannot be sure that the spies have not already disclosed this to their leaders.

I humbly request that you draft a charter to find and secure these locations. The contents of these additional Alchemical Stables are of great importance, and could present a danger for the entire region. I only hope that it is not too late.”

Alchemical Stables of the Golden Age-

alchemy-lab

The Alchemical Stable of the Golden Age were a haughtily named set of buildings commissioned by the Selnan nobility. Few know of their existence, and fewer still have set foot in one, and they are the subject of wild speculation. What is known is that they hold ancient technologies, though so far all of it has been broken beyond repair.

The currently explored complex offers only a hint of what the other complexes might contain. Strange abstract frescoes seem to suggest that its purpose was to generate wondrous and horrible life forms, or for the crafting of terrifying weapons. Whatever the complexes might actually hold, the potential for danger is higher than any potential for gain. This risk has done nothing to halt the plans for the despoiling of the ominous compounds.