Monday, June 26, 2017

Kephathosthu the Good, or why I ditched alignments

Fey article is taking too long to write, and one interesting conversation conjured up an idea of addressing my stance on alignments in a form of a story. Generally speaking, I used to use alignments. Nowadays though, I prefer not to.

Long ago, there was a wizard touched by the plane of fire whose name was unknown. This fire genasi was pretty tall and idealistic, with head full of dreams as he went onto his first adventure when he was 17. However, his dreams soon turned bland, as he found that world is not all sunshine and rainbows. Heroes have to make hard moral choices all the time, and this is why he felt lost after some time. He wanted to do good, wanted to be good.
On one of his adventures, when he was already 24, he got a task of slaying a demon that's in an abandoned wizard's tower. He went inside, and saw an evil but sad creature, begging to be let free. Words that demon revealed to him however turned his life upside down - the demon said not only that he is good, but also that the whole village of nearby people is evil, and thus can't enter the tower. Wizard was skeptical at first, but then... he realized that nobody in the village wanted to accompany him to the tower. That there must have been other heroes passing by. He realized that the right thing to do would not be to let the demon free. That is an evil thing, something a good person would never do. He ran away from the tower, knowing the multiversal truth.


He spent several more years researching the good and evil. He stood on the streets to tell people the truth, but nobody believed him. That is, until he found a book about Feywild, which said that there is a particular kind of fairy that's able to tell apart good and evil people.
He went into the Feywild, and after copious amounts of search and research he found it. For the better good, he captured the sprite and did research on it. The legends turned out true, the sprite could tell that the wizard is good, and the wizard used it to check several other creatures too. He then harnessed its power and did lots of experiments until he not only extracted this power, but also evolved it into something much more potent. Thanks to this power, he knows not only that Good and Evil are actual existing things, but also that one's morality is a measurable variable.

Superior Heartsight. Whenever a creature enters radius within 10 feet of Kephathosthu, he magically knows the creature's current emotional state. Additionally, as a bonus action he can force a creature within the range to make a Charisma saving throw (DC 15). If the target creature fails the saving throw, he also knows the creature's alignment. Celestials, fiends, and undead automatically fail the saving throw.

Four deaths of Kephathosthu

Being one of the very few people to leave the Feywild, he afterwards seeked out all evil in the world to remove it, spreading his word once again. His zealous talks did not get any audience though, which brought him to a horrifying realization - who will be here to protect the good and slay the evil once he is gone? Nobody listens to him, everyone considers him mad. That's when he started to seek out a way to become lich.

When Magistrate, the Unfavoured organization of arcane magic research, found out about him, they tried to stop him, but failed for they did not go out on him fully until the very end. When he was about to die, he was contacted by a mysterious voice in his head, who offered to save him if he will serve him. He agreed, and crawled out of his grave, feeling more alive than ever. As the legend of him goes, it took him only a couple more days to become a Lich.

Kephathosthu the Good, as most remember him.

Magistrate tried to stop him, but it was useless now. They first tried to kill him by blowing his house up, but he survived and built a hidden keep away from the Mourningbay. Then they tried to send master assassins after him, who did their job, only to be destroyed by his servants. The Magistrate used divination magic to locate his keep and destroy it, and that is where the tale ends. Kephathosthu was killed once again, but nobody knows whether it was the last time he was killed. No amount of divination magic helped Magistrate this time in finding any answers.

Current opinions on morality and Kephathosthu's state

It was never known what was (or is) his phylactery, what his research said or whether the research was true. Good and evil are ever since forbidden by Magistrate to investigate, for they will make man's mind into a mush, turning him insane. Instead, they say that good and evil are just social constructs, and that morality is truly something mysterious. They do have rules within their organization, sort of a contract that is signed when someone becomes a member, but everyone in Magistrate is discouraged from engaging in philosophy of ethics.

Not many Favoured heard or cared of the problem, for they have their own morality, their gods. Whatever gods say is good surely must be good. Why would their creators lie to them afterall?

Was Kephathosthu the Good right? Is morality an empirical thing that can be measured, or were these just delusions of his mind? Is Kephathosthu definitely dead? These are the mysteries.

And this is why I dislike not only the notion of alignments, but also PCs (or even just players) knowing about the alignments being a thing. Alignments can be used as an excuse to go on murderhobo rampages, boil down the moral dilemmas to math problems, or for players to generally be cruel to one another. What I'm trying to say is that nobody is absolutely evil or absolutely good. The tiniest bit of good can be found even in the lord of hell himself, and vice versa can be said for the lord of heavens. Gods, celestials, fiends and undead too are not good nor evil. Everyone in this world is morally grey.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sylvan Loner, style of game

I feel like I have made my own style of DMing, one that appears to have inspired people to DM this way too. I'm not sure if it isn't already a thing in D&D, but I felt like this could use a name, like West Marshes since that too is a playstyle with some characteristic rules to it. I'll name my playstyle "Sylvan Loner", keeping that name until someone shows up to tell me there's another name for this, possibly a couple years old.

The rules necessary for this playstyle:
- players all play in the same world
- each player plays a solo game
- NPC companions are vital, when in combat the PC gets to control them unless said otherwise
- time in the world is inconsistent
- sandbox
- when players meet, they aren't really supposed to merge parties. Maybe just stay for a bit and talk, or at best they could do one quest together, like helping with killing a dragon or in a heist. Afterall, all players have some goal of their own.

That would be everything for today. Thank you for reading, and have a nice day!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

[Spoilers] Speciality of souls

I advise players of mine to not read further. Just to be sure, here are your discord nicknames: darthzeus, Lendagan, Rhadamanth Nemes, Serifina, Gerven, Pancake, Staub, Moradin and anyone who wants to play in my games.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

[Spoilers] Cosmology of Sivobog

I advise players of mine to not read further. Just to be sure, here are your discord nicknames: darthzeus, Lendagan, Rhadamanth Nemes, Serifina, Gerven, Pancake, Staub, Moradin and anyone who wants to play in my games.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Bestiary, vol. 1

I hang out regularly on the Discord of Many Things (link here if you want to join). Mods are great and interact with others a lot in many ways, one being weekly challenges. One week, a usual homebrew challenge of making a magic item based on a prompt was replaced with a monster prompt - make a variant of a monster from Monster Manual by adding one trait.
Skip a few weeks later. I was bored and needed to relax, so I pulled this challenge out, and asked members to give me a monster from Monster Manual that I'd try to rework into them, based on their name or how well I know them. And yes, some of these are actually more than just one trait, while others are not technically correct. Beware their use, for some of them will raise the monster's CR significantly.
In the Bestiary series, I'll post my homebrew monsters, both ones I made independent of anything, but also ones based on prompts just like these.
  • Bagel Faerie Dragon
  • Cairn, the Death Knight
  • Celtic Highwayman
  • Divination Destructor
  • Explosive Fire Elemental
  • Laser-eyes GorgonLongtongue Bullywug
  • Maladroit BanditMemetic Black Pudding
  • Nightmare Flumph
  • Psychological Dragon
  • Sharkan DvoyglovSpace Unicorn
  • Stoneskinned Owlbear
  • Unholy Pit Fiend
  • Welcoming Mastiff

Bagel Faerie Dragon

(Faerie Dragon, MM page 133)
Summon Enchanted Bagel. (3/day) The Bagel Faerie Dragon can summon a bagel enchanted with the power of Fey. If it's consumed within 24 hours, the creature that ate it regains 5 (2d4) hit points. Additionally, the creature rolls a 1d6. If it rolls a 6, its ears turn pointy.

Fey love nice stuff. They love games, they love fun, and they love sweets too. It is thus only natural that some of them get candy-related abilities. The bagel faerie dragon can be of any color, and it has an ability to conjure up a bagel, seemingly out of nowhere.
One of the known side effects is the chance of a creature's ears turning pointy after eating the bagel. Exact explanation is yet to be found, but major theory is that the bagel turns you slightly into a fey. Or it's just a prank of the bagel faerie dragon.

Cairn, the Death Knight

(Death Knight, MM, page 47)
Infinity Hatred. Cairn's intolerance for infinity is so great, that the Weave around him is warped by its intensity. Whenever a conjured creature or object gets within 30 feet of Cairn, it's immediately dispelled. Additionally, magic items such as Immovable Rod or Decanter of Endless Water cease to function when within 30 feet of Cairn.

Once a noble knight, Cairn used to be a loyal servant to his queen. Only after she was killed in a freak accident that has something to do with a nequitine arrow and he was unjustly executed, Cairn gained a hatred for all things infinite, seeking end of everything. Since he wanted to avenge his queen, he was raised as a revenant, and spent his year finding a way to make up for more than a year of his lifetime. That's when he got an offer from Vile Darkness, which he accepted into his heart, corrupting him forever.
He lost his body, he lost his memories and is passions too. All that's left is desire for revenge, and hatred for anything that should violate the laws of the multiverse - anything that produces something out of nothing. And that now includes conjuration magic.

Celtic Highwayman

(Bandit Captain, MM page 344)
Celtic Criticism. The Celtic Highwayman tells one creature what's really on his mind. The creature must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the character is affected by Shadowfell Despair (DMG page 52). After finishing a long rest, the affected creature can attempt to overcome the despair with a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a successful save, the despair effect ends for that creature. A calm emotions spell removes despair, as does any spell or other magical effect that removes a curse.

Sometimes, a dead soul goes to the Shadowfell. And sometimes, such soul gets resurrected. The imprint of Shadowfell is left upon the creature, but different creatures experience it in a variety of ways. This particular example is one of a creature that can replicate the effects Shadowfell had on it.

Divination Destructor

(any fiend)
Prophecy Invisibility. The (fiend) is invisible to all divination spells. Additionally, whenever a prediction of future is made, the caster gets to experience the future as it will happen if the (fiend) wouldn't intervene.

More on these in the future.

Explosive Fire Elemental

(Fire Elemental, MM page 125)
Death Burst. When the Explosive Fire Elemental dies, it explodes in a burst of fire. Each creature in a 20-foot radius must make a Dexterity saving throw (DC 14). A target takes 8d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. The fire spreads around the corners. It ignites flammable objects in the area that aren't being worn or carried.

It was made by the lord of elemental fire as a surprise force. If he sends them out in an army, about one in every sixty fire elementals will explode upon dying.

Laser-eyes Gorgon

(Gorgon, MM page 171. Replace Petrifying Breath with this, and add Radiant damage resistance)
Petrifying Gaze (Recharge 5-6). The gorgon concentrates its intense petrifying laser-guided gaze in a 60-foot line. Each creature in that area must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a target begins to turn to stone and is restrained. The restrained target must repeat the saving throw at the end of its next turn. On a success, the effect ends on the target. On a failure, the target is petrified until freed by the greater restoration spell or other magic.

Most gorgons are born with organs that allow them to breathe out a petrifying green gas they are so infamous for. However, just as there are people born blind, but with other senses that much more enhanced, gorgons too can be born unable to produce this gas. Instead, these gorgons develop special eyes that allow them to shoot petrifying lasers in a line. They are equally dangerous and thus should be avoided by the unprepared adventurers.

Longtongue Bullywug

(Bullywug, MM page 35)
Adhesive Tongue. Ranged Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 20 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4 + 1) bludgeoning damage, and if the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it must succeed on a DC 11 Strength saving throw or be grappled and pulled 10 feet towards the Bullywug.

Some of the bullywugs get to keep their long tongues, and use them as weapons in combat. Most usually it's used to just catch the flies that are flying around, but when the bullywug feels endangered, it can use the tongue to pull even creatures as big as a human.

Maladroit Bandit

(Bandit, MM page 343)
Unlucky Aura. Any Dexterity (Acrobatics), Dexterity (Sleight of Hand), Dexterity (Stealth) checks and Dexterity saving throws the Maladroit Bandit or any creature within 30 feet of it are made at disadvantage.

When a bandit tries to rob a fey, it can curse him with the bad luck that lasts forever, targeting skills he should be the best at. However, the bandits over time find out that this curse can be turned against their enemies if they play their cards right.

Memetic Black Pudding

(Black Pudding, MM page 241)
Memetic Form. As an action, Memetic Black Pudding can shapeshift into a large or smaller object of any shape, based on the memories of any creature within 1 mile of it. While shapeshifted this way, it's indistinguishable from the object it's shapeshifted as as long as it remains motionless.

It is not often that a mimic manages to eat a black pudding. However, when it happens, the black pudding consumes it from inside, and finds that it now absorbed the ability to change its shape. It uses its power in a way similar to a mimic, ambushing clueless creatures inspecting the item.

Nightmare Flumph

(Flumph, MM page 135)
Innate Spellcasting. The Nightmare Flumph's innate spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 12, +4 to hit with spell attacks). It can innately cast the Evard's black tentacles three times per long rest, requiring no material components.

Some of the flumphs that enter the Dreamscape witness the nightmares of people, and learn some cruel tricks from them. Meeting a flumph may not be so bad, but meeting a flumph that witnessed people's nightmares is one of the worst things that could happen to you.

Psychological Dragon

(any dragon)
Mind Breath. The dragon exhales gray misty gas in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must succeed on a DC (based on Dragon's other Breath weapon DCs) Wisdom saving throw, or have their darkest memory or secret revealed to all other creatures within the area. Each creature also takes _d_ psychic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Some dragons start to study how humans and others think. During that time, they find out about a ritual that could grant them another kind of magical breath, one that reveals the secrets of creatures of weak will to others in the same area. It is afterall known that the worst enemy adventurers could face... are their own secrets.

Sharkan Dvoyglov

They do not have to be half-black and half-white

(Wyvern, MM page 303)
Two Heads. The sharkan has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks and on saving throws against being blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, stunned and knocked unconscious.
Wakeful. When one of the sharkan's heads is asleep, its other head is awake.
Multiattack. The sharkan can make 3 attacks: two with its bite and one with its stinger. While flying, it can use its claws in place of one other attack.

Sometimes, when a wyvern is born in an area of magical radiation, such as the ones in the Underdark, it grows a second head. It has separate sentience, but most of the time the two heads comply with one another. If the wyvern lives in such magical radiation for an extended period of time, it is known to grow even more heads. Such wyverns are refered to as Sharkan Troyglov, Chetirglov, Pyatyglov, Shestyglov etc., and each additional head gets additional bite attack. Each additional head is more and more rare, for each 10 wyverns one could find, 1 would be two-headed, for 100 two-headed 1 would be three-headed, for 1000 three-headed 1 would be four-headed etc. People tell tales of Sharkan Devyatyglov, the wyvern with nine heads, but most consider it just a myth. (maybe because there's a chance of 1:10^36 for a nine-headed wyvern to even exist)

Space Unicorn

(Unicorn, MM page 294)
Cosmic Majesty. The Space Unicorn has a fly speed of 120 ft. Additionally, thanks to its adaptation to the space it doesn't need to breathe or sleep, and it has immunity to cold and fire damage.

Space unicorn soaring through the stars, delivering the rainbows all around the world. There aren't actually that many of these, they are fairly rare because they are made by god(dess) of planes blessing an ordinary unicorn. Marshmallow lasers not included.

Stoneskinned Owlbear

"Hey, wouldn't it be funny if that owlbear came to life?"

(Owlbear, MM page 249. Add immunity to petrified condition, and resistances to non-magical bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage.)
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (2d12 + 5) bludgeoning damage.

Owlbears were dangerous enough as they were, but now came along a druid who made matters even worse. The stoneskinned owlbears have their skin hardened and can deal deadly attacks by slamming.

Unholy Pit Fiend

(Pit fiend, MM page 77)
Power of the Unholy. The creatures that are divine casters or visibly wear a holy symbol of deity they worship have disadvantage on all attack rolls, checks and saving throws against the Unholy Pit Fiend.

Most powerful fiends, such as the Vile Darkness, grant their pit fiends great powers to fight the holy and divine creatures. Angels and celestials, as well as clerics, druids, paladins and rangers, or even just people who wear the symbol of a deity they worship... all of these will have a very hard time fighting one of these.

Welcoming Mastiff

(Mastiff, MM page 332)
Greeting Nature. (1/day) Creatures find it hard to fight the Welcoming Mastiff. It can cast sanctuary without requiring any components, and the spell lasts for 24 hours.

You wouldn't hurt him, would you? He's so cute doing these puppy eyes of his.