Planescape in 5e: Protective Items

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Solamnic Plate

Armor +1 (Full Plate), rare

Keywords: Krynn, Colorful, Metallic, Mystic, Prophetic, Protective

You have a +1 bonus to AC while wearing this armor.

This suit of shiny steel plate is embossed with images of crowns, swords, and roses, and is quite recognizable to expatriates from Krynn (making it dangerous to wear if one is not a Knight of Solamnia). It seems attuned to tidal forces, making it easy for you to, with some practice, sense the rough time of day and phase of the moon. If the Krynn keyword is matched, non-good wearers suffer a level of exhaustion upon donning it and with each sunrise while wearing it.

If the colorful or metallic keywords are matched, you have advantage on saving throws (or spell attackers have disadvantage) against spells that deal Radiant damage, or which have “color” in their name, as the armor’s mirror sheen reflects these attacks. 

If the mystic, prophetic, or three other keywords are matched, the armor and its wearer are increased in importance for any spells that attempt to divine the future, should they feature in these prophecies.

If the protective keyword or at least four other keywords are matched, once per day, you may spend Inspiration to take no damage from an attack or effect from a spell that could plausibly harmlessly strike the item instead of you.

Efreeti’s Splendor

Armor +1 (Breastplate), rare

Keywords: Elemental Fire, Evil, Colorful, Hot, Invisible, Metallic

You have a +1 bonus to AC while wearing this armor.

This item is made of polished and adorned brass, but is as strong as steel, and, if closely observed, ripples like fire even in steady light. 

It is always slightly warm, which can be helpful in a dangerously cold environment. It cannot be damaged or destroyed by anything less than the most extreme heat or fire. It normally doesn’t pass this immunity on to the bearer, but at least it will survive the firestorm intact. It never becomes uncomfortably warm, including ignoring the effects of heat metal if directed at the item. If the hot keyword or at least two other keywords are matched, you can use your reaction to gain Fire Resistance against a single attack or spell. If all keywords are matched, this Resistance upgrades to Fire Immunity, and you gain Fire Resistance without using a reaction.

If the invisible or colorful keywords are matched, illusions cast upon you by yourself or an ally have doubled duration.

If the metallic or evil keywords are matched, you have advantage on Wisdom (Insight) checks to divine the true desires of a target whose reflection you can view in the breastplate (signifiers of that desire appearing around the target).

Dreamweave Jerkin

Armor +1 (Studded Leather), rare

Keywords: Astral, Cutting, Disjointed, Fluid, Mental, Metallic

You have a +1 bonus to AC while wearing this armor.

This armor seems to be woven of fabric made from fine silver threads with the studs of diamond-hard but lusterless glass. You retain this item even when having an out-of-body experience, but, unfortunately, when you are unconscious the armor always transfers to your dream-self: you lose all AC bonus from wearing the armor in this state (but at least it’s comfortable to sleep in). If it goes unworn for at least a week (by a sapient being), the armor has a 10% chance per week to disappear into the Astral from wherever it is stored.

If the mental keyword or at least three other keywords are matched, you gain Psychic Resistance.

If the metallic or fluid keywords are matched, you can will the armor to appear as some other form of clothing (though it always seems to be made of the same silver cloth). This does allow you to don or remove the armor as a bonus action.

If the disjointed or cutting keywords are matched, you gain Resistance against Psychic, Force, or Necrotic damage when the energy is delivered in the form of a blade (e.g., soulknife, spiritual weapon, shadow blade, etc.).

Token of Vlaakith’s Favor

Brooch of Shielding; Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)

Keywords: Astral, Disjointed, Mental, Mystic, Smashing, Stonelike

While wearing this brooch, you have resistance to force damage, and you have immunity to damage from the magic missile spell.

This simple, disc-shaped brooch appears to be composed of tightly woven fine silver threads with no other adornment save for the faint etching of a crown with five high points. You retain this item even when having an out-of-body experience. The item is likely recognizable to most gith, and may color their impression of the wearer if spotted (particularly if the wearer is not a githyanki).

If the mental keyword is matched, you additionally gain resistance to psychic damage. If the smashing keyword is matched, you additionally gain resistance to bludgeoning damage. If the stonelike keyword is matched, you additionally gain immunity to the petrified condition.

If the disjointed or mystic keywords are matched, this additionally functions as an amulet of proof against detection and location: While wearing this amulet, you are hidden from divination magic. You can’t be targeted by such magic or perceived through magical scrying sensors.

Planescape in 5e: Trickster’s Items

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Erato’s Bough

Weapon +1 (Shortbow), uncommon
Keywords: Feywild, Chaotic, Colorful, Disjointed, Toxic, Wooden

You have a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon.

This shortbow was crafted from a fallen bough from one of the elder dryads with a deep role in the histories of the Olympian pantheon. It resembles cypress wood, seemingly grown and shaped more than crafted, and slowly regenerates damage dealt to it. It resists acid damage and other sources of decay.

It changes colors to match the seasons, and plays a musical sound like panpipes when fired rather than the distinctive thrum of a bow. This diffuse noise grants advantage to Dexterity (Stealth) checks to re-Hide when firing from stealth. If the colorful keyword or at least two other keywords are matched, targets struck by the bow have disadvantage on rolls to disbelieve auditory illusions until they complete a short or long rest.

The bow always teleports with its owner if it is close to hand. If it’s within ten feet of you when you are teleported, it appears at your feet wherever you land. It will even travel with you if the mode of transport normally will not include items. If the disjointed keyword or at least three other keywords are matched, you can use the bow to attack a space from which a target teleported since your last turn as if you were attacking the target (even if the target is now out of your range or line of sight), as the arrow forces its way through the momentary portal made.

You can apply poison to the bow and it will automatically transfer this to the arrows. If the toxic keyword or at least four other keywords are matched, attacks from the bow deal an additional 1d4 poison damage.

If the wooden or feywild keywords are matched, on a critical hit with the bow, a dryad appears adjacent to the target and acts as an ally on your turn (it is capable of taking reactions as soon as it appears, but does not receive actions until your next turn). It cannot move more than 30 feet from the spot it appeared, and disappears shortly after combat completes.

Night Flyer’s Goggles

Goggles of Night; Wondrous item, uncommon
Keywords: Khorvaire, Dark, Energetic, Metallic, Tempestuous, Confining

While wearing these dark lenses, you have darkvision out to a range of 40 feet plus 10 feet for each matched keyword. If you already have darkvision, wearing the goggles increases its range by the same distance.

These goggles appear too-well-made, as if mass-produced by purpose-built machinery. It may feature subtle mechanisms beyond the technology level of most worlds. It slowly repairs itself if broken, and attempts to speed the process of mending have advantage.

If the tempestuous keyword is matched, you take half damage from falling.

If the confining keyword is matched, you can remove unlocked restraints from you as a free action (such as a safety belt).

The Earthen Rod (of the Hex Staff)

Immovable Rod; Rod, uncommon

Keywords: Elemental Earth, Corrosive, Cutting, Dark, Stonelike, Toxic

This smooth, cylindrical rod is jointed at the center. You can use an action to rotate the rod a turn around this joint, which causes the rod to become magically fixed in place. Until you or another creature uses an action to rotate the rod back, it doesn’t move, even if it is defying gravity. The rod can hold up to 6,000 pounds of weight, plus 1,000 pounds per matched keyword. More weight causes the rod to deactivate and fall. A creature can use an action to make a DC 26 (+2 per matched keyword) Strength check, moving the fixed rod up to 10 feet on a success.

Made of dense black stone, this rod is slotted at either end as if it can be joined with similar rods to form a staff. If at least part of the rod is touching grounded stone or dense earth, its weight capacity is doubled and the DC to move it is increased by 4.

If the corrosive or toxic keywords are matched, when activated the rod creates an approximately-seven-foot diameter bubble centered on itself that prevents uncontained dangerous fluids from passing (e.g., poisonous or diseased water, sprays of acid, etc.). This sphere of protection provides total cover against acid arrow, poison spray, acid splash, and the like (but does not affect poisons or acids in containers or coating weapons). The sphere doesn’t filter the fluids, but restrains them if they are dangerous.

If the dark, cutting, or stonelike keywords are matched, when the rod is activated anyone touching it gains Necrotic, Slashing, or Bludgeoning Resistance (respectively).

Call of the Void

Ring of Feather Falling; Ring, rare (requires attunement)

Keywords: Baator, Lawful, Evil, Confining, Hot, Stonelike

When you fall while wearing this ring, you descend 60 feet per round and take no damage from falling.

This ring appears to be made of black cast iron shot through with veins of fiery red rust with an almost feather-like motif. It is rough to the touch despite long use, but strong enough to not be in danger of falling apart. As long as you live, you must drop it through true accident or deliberately transfer ownership to lose it.

The ring is always immune to heat and being trapped. It doesn’t normally pass these abilities onto the wearer, but will never overheat and damage the wearer, or become trapped (e.g., pinned beneath stone). It cannot be transmuted into any other substance than its normal form (slightly reshaping itself to fit if the attuned wearer changes form to no longer have normally-sized fingers).

If the hot keyword or two other keywords are matched, you can double your jumping distance when leaping over open flames, lava, or similar sources of great heat. If the stonelike or three other keywords are matched, you can triple your jumping distance when leaping over pits or crevasses of stone or earth. If both effects are available and relevant (e.g., jumping over a stone channel full of lava), you quadruple your jumping distance.

If the confining or four other keywords are matched, when you are grappled or restrained, you can choose to end either condition as your move action on your turn if there is a ledge that is at least 10 feet above the next lower level within five feet of you. Upon doing so, you fall off the ledge.

If the evil keyword is matched, whenever you have the opportunity to shove a creature within five feet of you off of a ledge, you must make a wisdom saving throw to avoid doing so. The DC is 8 for a valued friend or true innocent, 12 for an ally, or 16 for an enemy.

If the lawful keyword is matched, you have advantage on attempts to shove (or opponents have disadvantage on saving throws against magical effects you use to reposition them).

Serial Numbers Filed Off: Tarrasque, King of the Monsters


Our world is old: far older than any can comprehend. Civilizations rise, and then are crushed beneath the feet of the Titans. The higher the heights, the further the fall. Only the treasures buried beneath the earth survive. Those who delve beneath find remnants of the many times we were great. Each time, society was erased.

We’re not even sure they mean to. Over a dozen godlike beings, unable or unwilling to communicate. Some seem to actively destroy our greatest workings. Others simply ignore them, but take no pains to keep from killing swaths of mortals when their ramblings bring them into our cities. We are to them as insects are to us: at worst an annoyance, at best an interesting curiosity.

The world is large. It can be centuries between the times a Titan’s path brings it through your society. Time to learn and grow. Time to wrest secrets from the old worlds. One of the greatest secrets is the magic of the Titans themselves. The Wizards and Bards have codified it, made it safe. The Sorcerers have inherited it, filtered through the blood of ancestors that mingled with the lesser spawn of the Titans. The others… they invoke it. Druids, Clerics, Warlocks, and Paladins may mean well, but they are essentially worshiping the Titans. Founding cults to them.

And a cult to a Titan is the surest way to bring it down upon your head, smashing your city around it.

The Titans are not everything to us. There are few and, though they are immensely destructive, they cannot be everywhere at once. Like hurricanes and earthquakes, kingdoms can go decades or centuries without an encounter (as long as they keep the cults from forming). Yet, time and time again, their ramblings and their battles become the backdrop of purely mortal conflicts.

And what can a mortal do against the gods themselves but cower and hide?


Gargantuan Aberration
Great Old One Patron, Aberrant Mind Bloodline

A massive, tentacled worm that burrows deep beneath the earth (Neothelid), the Cthonian’s motivations are even more inscrutable than all the other Titans. Its peers seem more likely to attack it, when it makes itself known, and some theorize that it does not even originate from this world.


Gargantuan Beast
Peace Domain, Circle of the Shepherd, Oath of Redemption

A tremendous bird that resembles an owl, this ancestor of the rocs is the least involved with the world of all its compatriots. It is a rare event that makes it descend from the skies to ravage civilization, and others seem to leave it alone. For this, it has become a symbol of peace. Pray you are not one of the rare societies it descends upon.


Gargantuan Celestial
Light Domain, Divine Soul Bloodline, Oath of Devotion, Celestial Patron

Rarely seen as more than a bright light shrouded in multiple, immense wings, Azrael is the death of iniquity. Societies that have become too jaded, with corruption and harm against its least citizens encoded into their structure, seem to inevitably attract this Titan. The innocent are sometimes spared, should they run quickly enough for the hills.


Gargantuan Construct
Order Domain, Clockwork Soul Bloodline

All technology has been derived from observation of the clockwork Titan, aeon upon aeon. An undulating conglomeration of gearwork and levers, Talos moves upon its own unknowable schedule. The greatest heroes have stolen pieces of Talos for scientists to examine… and the cities where they took them eventually are visited by the Titan.


Gargantuan Dragon
Circle of Wildfire, Draconic Bloodline

An immense, multi-headed beast, winged and scaled, Tiamat makes its home in the highest places. All dragons are descended from it, and its movements bend to theirs. It is bad enough to know that a dragon has its lair near your town; worse to realize that this makes it much more likely that Tiamat will eventually visit to receive tribute from its spawn.


Gargantuan Elemental
Tempest Domain, Storm Sorcery Bloodline, Fathomless Patron

Were the oceans not deadly enough for mortals, beneath the waves dwells Leviathan. Few can even speculate on its appearance, and, unlike the other Titans, even swiftly moving scouts cannot herald its coming. Within the water, it is invisible until it strikes. Those that build near the sea forever fear that it might destroy them.


Gargantuan Fey
Twilight Domain, Circle of Dreams, Archfey Patron

This hunched humanoid being is a caricature of an elf, with colorful skin and vast, sharp ears. It gambols across the land, the only Titan with a sense of humor, it seems. Those that have been destroyed by its jests do not find them funny. Like many of its lesser kin, it can teleport, thwarting attempts to bar it access. It seems to hate Balor most of all.


Gargantuan Fiend
Oath of Conquest, Fiend Patron

Red-skinned, bat-winged, and single-eyed, this crouching Titan seems to have the opposite agenda of Azrael: it is the death of just societies. There have been few utopias in history—cities where all were equal, and justice and resources were distributed fairly—and it has swept them all beneath the burning ray of its gaze.


Gargantuan Giant
Forge Domain, Circle of Stars, Oath of Vengeance

The only Titan to regularly use weapons, Thor is distinguishable from the others that vaguely resemble humanoids by the city-sized hammer it drags behind. The weapon constantly draws thunderbolts from the stormclouds that follow in its wake. It seems completely unconcerned with mortals, but will seek other Titans for the joy of battle.


Gargantuan Humanoid
Knowledge Domain, Oath of Glory, Wild Magic Bloodline, Genie Patron

The Titan that is friendliest to mortals, this apelike beast can at least show emotions upon its face. It often chooses a small handful of mortals throughout the world that it considers friends, to be protected. It tends to avoid harming other mortals that have not attacked it, but gives little thought to not crushing them when it does battle.


Gargantuan Monstrosity
War Domain, Circle of the Moon, Oath of the Watchers

Some claim the Tarrasque is the greatest of all the Titans. None knows where it goes when it is not active: unlike the others, it does not wander constantly, but seems to sleep and then rise when needed. This need is inevitably to bring overreaching Titans to heel. A shame that it cares not for mortals that are destroyed in these battles.


Gargantuan Ooze
Life Domain

Flowing through the caverns of the world, the Oblex is referenced in the oldest surviving texts as the primordial essence from which all life originated. A colorful sea of protoplasmic slime, it tends to drown cities more often than it crushes them. New and varied life always springs quickly from the structures it destroys in its passage.


Gargantuan Plant
Nature Domain, Circle of the Land, Oath of the Ancients

A tree the size of kingdoms, Yggdrasil moves slowly, but inevitably. Often, its process cannot even be observed, except in hindsight. It takes days to cover miles, making it easier to flee before it, but this does little for the structures crushed beneath. Some brave souls attempt to live on it, though this is rarely safe for long.


Gargantuan Undead
Grave Domain, Circle of Spores, Hexblade Patron, Shadow Magic Bloodline

The smallest and most fragile of the Titans, this being reconstitutes itself whenever there is a large enough collection of graves. Civilizations with knowledge of history and a hope to grow burn their dead for just this reason. Those that bury them are counting down to a visit from the Nightwalker. A shame that so many forget about the charnel pits of their abattoirs: the Nightwalker does not rise merely from the bones of humanoids.

Planescape in 5e: Mercurials

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This is my conversion of the Mercurial creature type from Doors to the Unknown, as well as the signature items designed for dealing with one. I opted to use Deva as a base, as it was pretty close to the original 2e implementation.

On one of the peaks of Mount Celestia is the realm of Beldaari, a land so deep into the plane of Lawful Good that it is almost beyond this pale cosmos. In this hyper-real forest, the beings of other planes seems lesser, barely real. Bathing in the light of their unnamed god of pure thought, the Mercurials exist in a state of contemplative bliss. While mostly similar to Devas, they have a strange ability to experience life from the bodies of other beings by shedding their own skin and bones. When they can be convinced to leave their home realm this ability to transcend their own form can make them profound allies to the Celestial forces, as they cannot be permanently harmed while they have left their flesh behind.

While most, beings of pure law and good, would only use this ability on the willing, and leave before doing harm, tales tell of one of their own that went mad. Lathuraz wished for a mighty weapon, had it granted by his god who could not believe betrayal was possible, and used it to cut his way free of his brethren, taking the forbidden portal into Sigil that opened on their land every 500 years. His brother, Zarulaz, trailing behind to try to stop him, he nonetheless wreaked havoc for centuries. When turned to evil, an unkillable, charismatic warlord who can steal the forms of his enemies can quickly amass a tremendous base of power. Finally, with the next blink cycle and the help of Zarulaz, Lathuraz was imprisoned behind one of the doors, awaiting heroes to gather the requisite tools to destroy him forever the next time the doors opened… or stand back as he began his conquest anew.


Medium celestial, lawful good

Armor Class 17 (natural armor)
Hit Points 136 (16d8 + 64)
Speed 30 ft.

18 (+4) 18 (+4) 18 (+4) 17 (+3) 20 (+5) 20 (+5)

Saving Throws Wis +9, Cha +9

Skills Insight +9, Perception +9

Damage Immunities bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons

Damage Resistances radiant

Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened

Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 19

Languages all, telepathy 120 ft.

Challenge 10 (5900 XP)

Borrow Form. The mercurial may shed its skin and bones as an action. They are left in the space this action was performed as an object with AC 13 and hit points equal to what the mercurial had upon leaving them. While standing in the same space as its skin and bones, the mercurial may re-enter them as an action, setting its hit points to the average of its current hit points and those remaining in the object. While outside of its skin, the mercurial’s AC is reduced to 14 (unarmored).

While not in its own skin, the mercurial may attempt to “borrow” the form of another medium- or small-sized humanoid. The mercurial must successfully grapple the target, then attempt to borrow the form as an action on its turn. The target may make a Constitution saving throw (DC 17) to resist this possession. Upon failure, the mercurial disappears into the target’s form, and the target is incapacitated and loses control of its body. The mercurial now controls the body but doesn’t deprive the target of awareness.

While borrowing a form, the mercurial uses its normal statistics except it wears the armor and wields the weapons of the borrowed character. The borrowed character’s hit point total becomes temporary hit points for the mercurial.

While possessed, the host gains a level of exhaustion every X minutes (equal to the character’s Constitution score plus level or CR). The mercurial does not suffer the effects, but they will apply to the body when the possession ends. If the mercurial’s temporary hit points are reduced to 0 or six levels of exhaustion are accrued by the host, the host dies. The mercurial does not have to relinquish the form, but cannot re-borrow it upon leaving (and decay and damage will become apparent over time).

The possession lasts until the mercurial chooses to end it as a bonus action or the mercurial is forced out by an effect like the dispel evil and good spell. When the possession ends, the mercurial reappears in an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the body. The target is immune to this mercurial’s Borrow Form for 24 hours after succeeding on the saving throw or after the possession ends.

Innate Spellcasting. The mercurial’s spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 17). The mercurial can innately cast the following spells, but only while on its home plane, requiring verbal components:

At will: detect evil and good
1/day each: commune, wish

Magic Resistance. The mercurial has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Mercurial Weapons. The mercurial’s attacks are magical. When the mercurial hits with any weapon, the weapon deals an extra 2d8 psychic damage (included in the attack).

Regeneration. The mercurial regains 10 hit points at the start of its turns. It loses this ability if its skin and bones are reduced to 0 hp, either while worn or as an object (see Borrow Form). The mercurial only dies if it starts its turn with 0 hp while its regeneration is not active.


Multiattack. The mercurial makes two weapon attacks (either with wielded weapons or with its slams). One or both of these attacks can be used to attempt a grapple.

Longsword (or Other Host Weapon). Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8+4) slashing damage plus 9 (2d8) psychic damage.

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit:7 (1d6+4) bludgeoning damage plus 9 (2d8) psychic damage.

Mental Blast (Recharge 5-6). The mercurial magically emits psychic energy in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must succeed on a DC 17 Intelligence saving throw or take 23 (4d8+5) psychic damage and be stunned for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Image of monster block

Anti-Lathuraz Items

Cloak of Trapping

Wondrous item, very rare
Keywords: Outlands, Confining, Cutting, Dark, Disjointed, Metallic

This distinctive black cloak with silvery star patterns can be used like a net to attack a creature with shapeshifting or possession abilities (and hits automatically if the creature is convinced to wear it voluntarily). Instead of being restrained, on a successful hit the creature is trapped in its current body and/or shape. Attempts to grapple such a target have advantage. While so trapped, the cloak cannot be damaged (attacks simply hit the captured target), and the target’s Strength check DC to escape is 18 (+1 per matched keyword).

It can be worn as a normal cloak by individuals without shapeshifting or possession abilities. It grants the wearer +1d4 on attack rolls to grapple a target. It can be removed quickly by such a bearer as part of the action to attempt to capture a target.

Rod of Mercury

Rod, unique
Keywords: Mount Celestia, Lawful, Good, Bright, Colorful, Metallic

This two-foot cylinder appears to be made of molten silver but is solid when touched. It tugs toward the nearest mercurial on the same plane, with increasing force if the target is close by (but never hard enough to pull free of a grip or move on its own). This allows the bearer to work out the direction and distance of nearby mercurials.

If there is more than one such creature on the same plane, the bearer may make a Charisma check to track a specific mercurial rather than the nearest. The bearer must have seen the target before and speak its name as a command word. The check DC varies based on the number of mercurials nearby and the distance to the intended target. It is generally equal to 15 +1 for every intervening mercurial but -1 for each matched keyword.

Manacles of Lesser Reality

Wondrous item, legendary
Keywords: Unknown Prime World, Confining, Disjointed, Invisible, Mystic, Smashing

This pair of iron bracers with sunburst designs on them have no obvious locking mechanism. While there is no visible chain, they are connected by an implacable force and cannot be separated by more than five feet before snapping back together. They can be attached automatically to the wrists of a willing or unconscious target as an action. If the target is active and unwilling, they must be applied as an action by an individual that has successfully grappled the target.

While worn by a target that would be affected by protection from evil and good, the manacles deactivate the target’s most powerful abilities and actions. In particular, innate spellcasting and attacks that produce energy are usually suppressed while the manacles are worn. If only one manacle is worn, the subject cannot use such abilities on the wearer of the other manacle, and that wearer gains the effects of protection from evil and good against the target. Further, the target cannot move the wearer of the other manacle by pulling against the invisible chain of force: the target simply becomes restrained upon reaching the end of the tether, and may only move in the direction of the other bearer. Any attempts to teleport the target fail if the other bearer objects to the relocation.

The being who applied the manacles may remove them as easily as using any other object, the manacles falling open at a touch. Otherwise, removing them requires a thieves’ tools check (at a DC equal to 20 + 1/matched keyword), on which the creature trapped has disadvantage. This DC drops by 5 if the one who attached the manacles is dead.

If willingly donned by a wearer that is not subject to the effect, the wearer can remove them at any time. They grant the wearer the benefits of the protection from evil and good spell while both bracers are worn, but prevent the wearer from casting spells of 4th level or higher or using supernatural class abilities granted at 7th level or higher. Further, the wearer can remove one manacle and attach it to another willing target or structure that the bracer can fit around (e.g., pole or rope) to make use of the force tether. In this case, neither target loses movement when at the extent of the tether, and physics determines movement.

Sword of Lathuraz

Weapon (longsword), rare
Keywords: Mount Celestia, Lawful, Good, Bright, Colorful, Metallic

You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. The regeneration trait of a creature struck with this weapon doesn’t function at the start of its next turn (but functions on subsequent turns if not struck again by the sword). Further, a creature reduced to 0 hit points by this weapon that survives gains a permanent level of exhaustion (even if normally immune to exhaustion), and can gain additional permanent levels up to 3 if so “killed” multiple times, but at most one per day. This exhaustion manifests as permanent wounds from the weapon, and can only be removed by greater restoration or similarly powerful magic.

This longsword has an extremely wide-swept guard and appears to be made of silver and mithril that fade in brightness if the wielder is not lawful good. It was created in secret by the mercurial traitor Lathuraz, used to slaughter his way out of his home plane during his betrayal and fight off any of his kinsfolk that attempted to return him. It is said to have turned black as wrought iron when wielded by its creator after his escape.

The sword sheds light as a torch. If the bright keyword is matched, it sheds light as the daylight spell.

It is an ideal anchor point for visual illusions. Illusions that cannot normally move can be attached to it, moving as you move the item. If the colorful keyword is matched, illusions so attached cause the sword to deal bonus psychic damage on each hit equal to 1d4 + the spell level used to create the illusion (e.g., 1d4 for minor illusion or 1d4+3 for major image) until the illusion is disbelieved.

It resonates with nearby silver and mithril, granting advantage to detect hidden caches of these metals. If the metallic keyword is matched, attacks with the sword deal 1d6 bonus radiant damage on each hit against targets that are vulnerable to silver weapons (e.g., damage resistance overcome by silver or magic weapons).

The sword is uncomfortable to wield by characters that are not of lawful good alignment. If the lawful keyword is matched, chaotic wielders suffer disadvantage on attack rolls, and if the good keyword is matched, evil wielders suffer this disadvantage. If both keywords are matched, and the wielder is lawful good, spell slots expended to smite (or used to cast smite spells) with the sword are treated as one level higher.

D&D 5e Class: Survivor

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With a new Ravenloft book coming out in the near future, I got to thinking about how it’s easier to do horror games if the PCs aren’t… well… as powerful as 5e characters are out of the gate. So this is a class and a couple of house rule ideas to start out with characters that have a much lower power rating than normal.

Rerolled Random Stats

When you make your character, roll 3d6 six times to generate ability scores, and arrange them as desired. Each time you level up, roll another six ability scores. You may choose to keep your original scores or replace all of them with the new set of scores. (Ability score bonuses, such as from race, ability score improvements/feats, etc. are reapplied after replacing your scores.)

When you generate hit points, roll instead of taking the default values (i.e., maximum at first level, average rounded up at subsequent levels). Instead of rolling a new die when you level, roll all hit dice you’re entitled to. If the adjusted total (including Constitution and other bonuses) is greater than your previous level’s total, use the new total. Otherwise retain the total from the previous level. Make this roll after adjusting ability scores and hit dice.

The Survivor

Most citizens never plan a life of adventure until it is thrust upon them. Without years of training in combat, magic, and stealth they have to pick up these lessons as they go.

As a survivor, you were destined for a simple role as one of the common folk, until greatness was thrust upon you and you have to do your best to learn what you can before you die.

Level Proficiency Bonus Features
1st +2 Proficiency (Skill)
2nd +2 Aspiration
3rd +2 Proficiency (Saving Throw)
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement
5th +3 Class Training

Class Features

As a survivor, you gain the following class features:

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d6 per survivor level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 6 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d6 (or 4) + you Constitution modifier per survivor level after 1st


The survivor gains no initial proficiencies except those provided by race and background (and from your Proficiency class feature, below). Survivors that start especially young might not even have the benefits of their background at the start of play.


You start with only the equipment provided by your background.


You gain proficiency in one skill of your choice. At 3rd level, you become proficient in one saving throw of your choice.

All choices should be ones available to the adventuring class you eventually plan to join.


At 2nd level, you choose an aspiration that indicates how your talents will develop as you take on the role of an adventurer. Choose Adept, Expert, or Warrior, each detailed at the end of the class description.

Ability Score Improvement

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, and 16th level (if you retain this class that long), you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Class Training

By 5th level, you have finally reached the point that you can begin to develop the skills of the adventuring class you have been working toward.

If you have an extended downtime, you can simply transfer directly into the appropriate class at the same level, replacing any statistics with their upgraded versions. You do not gain any abilities or proficiencies from this process that you would not have gained leveling in the class normally.

If you must train “on the fly,” then slowly add abilities from the new class at a pace set by your DM until you are a fully functioning member of the new class.

This class does not gain any new features past 5th level, but can continue to level if it takes a very long period to fully acquire the new class.


The first step to becoming a true member of an adventuring class is picking up the rudiments of magic, warfare, or expertise.


Artificer, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Ranger, Paladin, Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard

You were likely always somewhat odd, either overly studious or thought of as somewhat touched. Strange things happened near you, but for some reason your magical powers did not begin to come under your control until forced to develop them.

Starting when you choose this aspiration at 2nd level, you gain the ability to cast spells. Use the spells known and spell slots per spell level of a Ranger. Choose the spellcasting ability and spell list of the class you intend to become (Artificer, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Ranger, Paladin, Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard).

If you intend to become a Ranger or Paladin, you gain proficiency in light armor and simple weapons. If you intend to become any other type of spellcaster, you gain two cantrips from that class’ list.


Artificer, Bard, Monk, Ranger, or Rogue

You have always been studious and clever, just waiting for an opportunity to blossom.

Your hit dice for this class increase to d8 (including the one from 1st level, causing you to recalculate hit points). You gain proficiency in simple weapons. You gain proficiency in the skill of your choice (from the list of the class you intend to pursue: Artificer, Bard, Monk, Ranger, or Rogue).

If you intend to become a Bard, Ranger, or Rogue, you gain proficiency in another skill of your choice (from the class’ list). If you intend to become an Artificer or Monk, you gain proficiency in the second saving throw common to your class.

If you intend to become a Ranger, you gain proficiency in simple weapons. Otherwise, you gain proficiency in one tool or instrument of your choice.


Barbarian, Fighter, Paladin, or Ranger

You were always stronger and tougher than others, and are finding that manifested in your combat ability now that you have had to fight to survive.

Your hit dice for this class increase to d10 (including the one from 1st level, causing you to recalculate hit points). You gain proficiency in simple weapons, light armor, and one martial weapon of your choice.

Planescape in 5e: Four Keyworded Items

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Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Planescape keyword system has been the opportunity to really customize the low-level permanent items my players have been finding. The magical treasure tables in the DMG don’t really start handing out anything particularly exciting until after 10th level. So adding keywords has been a good opportunity to make the items they do find more unique and a little bit more useful, without becoming better than rarer treasure. The examples below show how the keyword system can be used to give theme and origin to even minor items.

The Stairwalker’s Shroud

Amulet of Proof against Detection and Location
Wondrous item, uncommon (requires attunement)
Keywords: Outlands, Disjointed, Invisible, Prophetic, Protective, Stonelike

While wearing this amulet, you are hidden from divination magic. You can’t be targeted by such magic or perceived through magical scrying sensors.

This amulet seems well made, but is worn as if it has seen years of hard use and come through them still in perfect working order, merely comfortably broken in. When reality is against you, it will see you through; once per day, you gain a point of Inspiration when you enter an anti-magic area.

It fades to translucency at the wielder’s desire, granting you advantage on attempts to conceal or hide it. If you become invisible, the item remains invisible even if you briefly lose control of it (though you retain an intuition about its location to enable you to retrieve it).

It always teleports with its owner if it is close to hand. If it’s within ten feet of you when you are teleported, it appears at your feet wherever you land. It will even travel with you if the mode of transport normally will not include items.

If the invisible keyword or at least two other keywords are matched, the item’s protections also apply to divinations that don’t target you directly, but just include you in the area (e.g., detect magic, see invisibility). Spells that grant a new sense (like truesight) may still be able to reveal you.

If at least four keywords are matched, illusion spells you cast on yourself are treated as if you cast them at one spell slot level higher.

If all six keywords are matched, you become slightly translucent at will, and can act as if you are in light one level darker (bright to normal, normal to dim, dim to dark) when attempting to hide or use illusion powers that key off of darkness.

The Alkaline Eye

Sentinel Shield
Armor (shield), uncommon
Keywords: Elemental Earth, Corrosive, Cutting, Dark, Stonelike, Toxic

While holding this shield, you have advantage on initiative rolls and Wisdom (Perception) checks. The shield is emblazoned with a symbol of an eye. It is made from a dark but lightweight natural iron streaked with greensteel veins which are more intensely present in the embossed eye.

It is resistant to harm from acid or other sources of corrosion, and will likely even remain intact if its bearer is disintegrated. It is also resistant to slashing damage, being almost impossible to sunder.

The shield resists petrification. It always retains its form, even if its bearer is turned to stone. If trapped by stone (e.g., held by a petrified former owner, pinned in a cave-in, clutched by an earth elemental, etc.) it is easy to withdraw and unlikely to damage the stone in the attempt.

If the dark keyword or at least two other keywords are matched, it gives you advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks in darkness or dim lighting by blending into the darkness and allowing you to hide behind it.

If the toxic keyword or at least three other keywords are matched, it can absorb and neutralize poison. You gain advantage on saving throws, or the attacker gains disadvantage on attack rolls against you, for attacks that throw or spit poison (such as the cantrip poison spray).

If the elemental earth keyword or at least four other keywords are matched, you gain advantage to resist negative planar environmental effects.

Fargullen’s First Escape Plan

Ring of Jumping
Ring, uncommon (requires attunement)
Keywords: Pandemonium, Chaotic, Evil, Dark, Motive, Tempestuous

While wearing this ring, you can cast the jump spell from it as a bonus action at will, but can target only yourself when you do so.

This ring is made of smooth black stone, and its dimensions don’t quite add up: held one way, it appears to be a perfect circle, but it looks oblong in different light, creating a vague unease in the viewer that only increases if it is carefully examined. It emits a vague, faint susurration when the listener is distracted which ceases when focused on. Sometimes, these noises seem to edge into faint whispers, urging you to take dangerous actions. No mental effects, be they compulsion or insanity, can make you forget that the item is yours, or give it away/discard it if you wouldn’t when in your right mind.

If the motive keyword or at least two other keywords are matched, treat your Strength as 5 higher when calculating jumping distance (whether or not the ring’s power is active).

It is virtually invisible in the darkness, granting advantage to hide it. If you are attuned to the item, you can see it clearly in the dark (even in supernatural darkness) and, if the dark keyword or at least three other keywords are matched, you gain Blindsight (5 feet) when you are in total darkness and otherwise unable to see.

If the tempestuous keyword or at least four other keywords are matched, and you are attuned to the item, you are constantly under the effects of the feather fall spell. Further, you may choose to move ten feet horizontally for every five feet you fall vertically as you are able to glide somewhat on the wind currents. If you already have a fly speed, it improves by 10 feet.

Bountiful Joy

Weapon +1
Weapon (Khopesh*), uncommon
Keywords: Outlands, Confining, Dark, Disjointed, Protective, Stonelike

You have a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon.

This sword seems well made, forged of a particularly sturdy bronze in the style of the followers of the god Geb. It is worn as if it has seen years of hard use and come through them still in perfect working order, merely comfortably broken in. When reality is against you, it will see you through; you gain a point of Inspiration when you enter an anti-magic area.

Once per day, you may spend Inspiration to take no damage from an attack or effect from a spell that could plausibly harmlessly strike the sword instead of you.

It is always subject to freedom of movement. It doesn’t pass this effect onto the wielder, but means that the item can never become stuck, trapped, or bound in a way that you cannot simply pull it free. Similarly, it resists petrification: it always retains its form, even if its wielder is turned to stone.

If the dark keyword, stonelike keyword, or at least two other keywords are matched, you gain tremorsense with a 5 foot radius when wielding this item, as it subtly vibrates in response to disturbances to the earth and stone next to you.

If the disjointed keyword or at least three other keywords are matched, the sword gains the thrown (20/60) property, and immediately teleports back to your hand at the end of your turn after throwing it.

If the protective keyword or at least four other keywords are matched, once per day you gain a superiority die (as a battle master fighter) that may be used to make the parry maneuver. If you already have superiority dice, this die is the type you use normally; otherwise, it is a d6.

* Since my group is very Dex-heavy, I’m treating this as a larger scimitar (that does 1d8 but isn’t light), effectively a rapier that does slashing instead of piercing damage.

Planescape in 5e: Temporary Realm Keywords

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As I add more items to my Planescape campaign that have powers based on certain planar keywords in the area, I decided it was time to expand on the idea that certain spells can temporarily apply new keywords, as well as to add a new spell to do that directly and efficiently.

The following spells (generally spells of 2nd level+ that have an area and a duration) may temporarily add a keyword to a location. This is generally within the spell’s area of effect while it is active (though for some, the spaces adjacent to the spell effect also count).

Spells do not benefit from their own added keyword (e.g., Darkness does not immediately add the Dark keyword and then also increase in potency because of that keyword).

Spells in realms that have an opposed keyword may simply disable the opposed keyword in their area, rather than adding the keyword (e.g., casting Daylight in a Dark realm). (Some countering keywords make more obvious sense than others to ensure there was a way to counter every keyword.)

  • Bright: (counters Dark) Crusader’s Mantle, Daylight, Holy Aura, Moonbeam, Sunbeam, Dawn (XGE), Sickening Radiance (XGE), Wall of Light (XGE)
  • Cold: (counters Hot) Ice Storm, Sleet Storm, Wall of Ice, Investiture of Ice (XGE)
  • Corrosive: (counters Metallic) Vitriolic Sphere (XGE)
  • Cutting: (counters Fluid) Blade Barrier, Cloud of Daggers
  • Dark: (counters Bright) Darkness, Hunger of Hadar, Maddening Darkness (XGE)
  • Energetic: (counters Stonelike) Call Lightning, Storm Sphere (XGE)
  • Hot: (counters Cold) Flaming Sphere, Incendiary Cloud, Wall of Fire, Investiture of Flame (XGE)
  • Invisible: (counters Penetrating) Forcecage, Wall of Force
  • Mental: (counters Wooden) Antipathy/ Sympathy, Calm Emotions, Zone of Truth
  • Penetrating: (counters Invisible) Cordon of Arrows, Spike Growth
  • Smashing: (counters Protective) Earthquake, Evard’s Black Tentacles, Storm Sphere (XGE)
  • Sonic: (counters Colorful) Silence
  • Toxic: (counters Restoring) Cloudkill, Stinking Cloud
  • Bestial: (counters Tempestuous) Insect Plague
  • Colorful: (counters Sonic) Hallucinatory Terrain, Mirage Arcane, Prismatic Wall
  • Confining: (counters Motive) Magic Circle, Web
  • Disjointed: (counters Mystic) Arcane Gate, Gate, Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion, Teleportation Circle
  • Fluid: (counters Cutting) Control Water, Tsunami, Wall of Water (XGE)
  • Metallic: (counters Corrosive) Blade Barrier
  • Motive: (counters Confining) Animate Objects, Reverse Gravity
  • Mystic: (counters Disjointed) Antimagic Field, Circle of Power
  • Prophetic: (counters Transforming) Foresight
  • Protective: (counters Smashing) Forbiddence, Globe of Invulnerability, Guards and Wards, Mordenkainen’s Private Sanctum, Spirit Guardians
  • Restoring: (counters Toxic) Aura of Life, Aura of Purity, Aura of Vitality
  • Stonelike: (counters Energetic) Wall of Stone, Investiture of Stone (XGE), Mighty Fortress (XGE), Transmute Rock (XGE), Wall of Sand (XGE)
  • Tempestuous: (counters Bestial) Control Weather, Gust of Wind, Wind Wall, Control Winds (XGE), Dust Devil (XGE), Investiture of Wind (XGE), Whirlwind (XGE)
  • Transforming: (counters Prophetic) Move Earth, Spike Growth
  • Wooden: (counters Mental) Grasping Vine, Plant Growth, Wall of Thorns, Druid Grove (XGE), Wrath of Nature (XGE)
  • Chaotic: (counters Lawful) Temple of the Gods (XGE)
  • Evil: (counters Good) Hallow (Unholy), Temple of the Gods (XGE)
  • Good: (counters Evil) Hallow (Holy), Temple of the Gods (XGE)
  • Lawful: (counters Chaotic) Temple of the Gods (XGE)

Planar Haven

4th-level transmutation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self (20-foot radius)
Components: S, M (an icon worth at least 100 gp crafted of materials native to a realm that has the desired keyword and designed to reflect that keyword)
Duration: Concentration, up to 8 hours

You surround yourself with a bubble of adapted reality, imposing some of the resonance of another realm upon the place you are standing. Within the area of effect, which moves with you, the selected keyword is added to those of the realm (or an opposed native keyword is suppressed within the area). If the realm has an environmental effect linked to a keyword (e.g., ongoing fire damage in a Hot realm), that effect is suppressed within the area when the keyword is countered (at the GM’s option, particularly intense or iconic effects may only be reduced). Similarly, if the realm lacks a desirable feature, adding a relevant keyword may add it to the area (e.g., Tempestuous to add breathable air to a realm that is otherwise void, or Fluid to permit liquid water to exist in a realm that otherwise makes it evaporate quickly).

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, you may add an additional keyword for each additional spell level over 4th level. You require a separate icon for each keyword, and cannot “double up” to remove a keyword and then add its opposite.

This spell is available to all spellcasting classes.

D&D 5e: Plane Touched Feats

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The Fey Touched and Shadow Touched feats in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything are a much-appreciated addition to the ranks of feats that give you a mental ability score bump plus something else (I was so tired of taking Actor on all of my Charisma-casters). They’re a little bit identical, so very easy to expand to make sure all the other sorcerers and warlocks get a chance to pick up some minor upgrades based on their power theme:

Plane Touched

Your exposure to the magic of a certain plane has changed you, granting you the following benefits:

  • Increase your Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • You learn a single spell (listed below for the plane chosen) and a 1st-level spell of your choice. The 1st-level spell must be from one of the schools listed below for the plane chosen. You can cast each of these spells without expending a spell slot. Once you cast either of these spells in this way, you can’t cast that spell again until you finish a long rest. You can also cast these spells using spell slots you have of the appropriate level. The spells’ spellcasting ability is the ability increased by this feat.
Plane Spell Schools
Abyss Darkness Evocation, Necromancy
Air Gust of Wind Conjuration, Transmutation
Astral Mind Whip (TCE) Divination, Enchantment
Chaos Mirror Image* Evocation, Illusion
Earth Earthbind (XGE) Abjuration, Conjuration
Ethereal See Invisibility Conjuration, Illusion
Fire Scorching Ray Evocation, Divination
Heaven Spiritual Weapon Abjuration, Divination
Hell Suggestion Enchantment, Necromancy
Order Zone of Truth Abjuration, Transmutation
Outside Mind Spike (XGE)* Enchantment, Illusion
Water Blur Divination, Transmutation


* Either of these could have Crown of Madness instead, but only with Brandes’ fixes so it’s something a player might want to use.

D&D 5e: Coral Gear

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These were taken from the Planescape Doors to the Unknown module, where they were given much shorter descriptions and intended to quickly die off. But several of my players are into creepy body horror bioware and one is playing a Great Old One warlock, so I went ahead and expanded the descriptions to figure out how to keep them alive and give them more versatility. Taken all together, they paint a lovely picture of gear for a sahuagin or deep one assassin/infiltrator.

Not actually magical, these items are composed of a steel-hard shell of colorful coral with an internal biological system that can sprout cilia, crawl somewhat into position, and attach to a living host. They derive most nutrition from this symbiotic relationship, though the host and coral will be healthier with regular intake of seafood. They will also slowly deteriorate if not soaked in seawater for at least an hour a week (a soaked rag placed around the item will do), or periodically fed powdered limestone (or similar material like pearls). If damaged, they heal naturally with their host (undoing the broken condition after a long rest). They can be magically enchanted like the items that they are (though they would lose the enchantments if allowed to die). Their lifespan is unknown.

They can be coaxed to detach from a host with brimstone-based smelling salts, but otherwise must be violently ripped or cut free, dealing major damage to the host (and likely killing the item).

Carapace Breastplate

This large shell wraps the entire torso and shoulders in a thin and articulated but dense shell.

It functions as breastplate armor with no effective weight/encumbrance. It can be worn under clothes (though likely of a larger size than normally required).

If soaked in a solution of various expensive poisons carefully and gradually, it might develop an immunity to toxins that it can pass to its host, granting advantage on poison saves (from poison-coated weapons) and resistance to poison damage.

Claw Grapple

This item is an articulated three-fingered claw attached to a flexible, ropelike tendril. The rope attaches to the back of the wrist then compresses when not in use, the claw laying against the back of the hand. This can make bracers or the equivalent uncomfortable, but does not interfere with shields.

It can be launched to grab protrusions up to ten feet away. This can be used to snag small items at this range or to latch onto the object to yank or swing (and might require an attack roll to target, at the GM’s option). You have advantage on climbing checks and cannot fall more than ten feet (this may not be possible if the surface is extremely smooth and there are no possible grapple holds within range). You can make a grapple check at its range, though it simply tethers you to the target rather than restraining the target (the grapple releases normally with a contested grapple check, or if the target deals 4 or more damage to the rope, giving it the broken condition).

If carefully built up with a paste of high-quality pearls, the claws might be extended long enough that they can be used as a punch dagger, as needed, including striking at the grapple’s range.

Face Shell

This item is a smooth, blank shell the perfect shape to fit over a humanoid’s face and, in fact, happily binds itself like a mask if so placed. The host does not have any problem seeing or breathing, but needs to remove the shell to eat. Unlike the other devices, it seems a little easier to coax into releasing so its host can consume food, and can even be trained to move to sit on a shoulder when not in use as a mask.

The shell grants you darkvision to 30 feet, or 120 feet in saltwater. Additionally, it allows you to breathe water (or air, if you normally breathe water). Finally, it filters inhaled toxins, giving you advantage on saving throws against inhaled poisons or airborne diseases. However, due to its unnerving blank visage (the only sign of the eyes are slightly more vivid circles of color), you have disadvantage on any Charisma checks relying on generating positive feelings (e.g., intimidation is not affected).

A potentially unnerving feature of the shell is that it could be placed on the face of a corpse submerged in seawater and powdered hermit crab shells, gradually turning into a death mask of the subject as the body decays. You subsequently gain advantage on Charisma (Deception) rolls and similar rolls to masquerade as the subject using disguise self, alter self, or similar form-concealing magic. The mask helps mimic the subject’s voice and mannerisms. It can only retain one such subject at a time.

Mantis Blade

When detached, this looks like a long, thin sword blade. It can be attached behind the wrist, at which point it hinges back when not in use, resting against the back of the forearm. This makes it challenging to wear anything else on that arm, such as a bracer, shield, or even tight sleeves.

It functions as a rapier (but can instead act as a shortsword if you are not proficient in rapier or want to use it as an offhand weapon). It also works as a prybar, and has enough dexterity to be bent as desired to manipulate objects as would make sense for its structure.

If soaked in a bath of seawater and powdered silver, iron, or adamantine, it could conceivably take enough of those metals in to strike creatures harmed only by those materials as if made of that material.

Reservoir Valve

This item is a roughly cylindrical shell around the size of a large man’s fist. When attached, it flattens somewhat and tries to find a location on the back where it will not be an impediment.

The valve contains a naturally-generated healing potion. It can contain one charge at a time, and regains this charge when you take a long rest that you begin with both full hp and hit dice (i.e., it absorbs your unneeded natural healing). It can also have a charge restored by casting two levels of healing magic into it (e.g., either two first-level cure wounds or one cast at second-level). You can expend the charge as a bonus action to have it inject you with the potion so you heal 2d4+2 hp. Additionally, if you are reduced to 0 hp, the valve automatically expends its charge, if available, to heal you at the beginning of your next turn, before you have to make a death saving throw.

If bathed in a solution of several higher-powered healing potions as well as a high-quality oceanic chemicals, it might have the power of its healing solution improved to more closely mimic these better potions.

D&D 5e: Adjusting Monster HP

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0 1-6 13
1/8 7-15 13
1/4 16-49 13
1/2 50-70 13
1 71-85 13
2 86-100 13
3 101-115 13
4 116-130 14
5 131-145 15
6 146-160 15
7 161-175 15
8 176-190 16
9 191-205 16
10 206-220 17
11 221-235 17
12 236-250 17
13 251-265 18
14 266-280 18
15 281-295 18
16 296-310 18
17 311-325 19
18 326-340 19
19 341-355 19
20 356-400 19

One of the classic ways to put a higher-difficulty monster into a module for lower-level characters is to have it be already injured before they fight it, giving it fewer HP. Meanwhile, GMs often figure that if they just set a monster higher in its HP range (by default, they take the average dice rolls) that’s still fair but might make the fight a little more challenging.

If you haven’t looked into the monster math for 5e (starting on page 273 of the DMG), your intuitions about altering HP might be wrong. If you’ve come from previous editions where the total number of HD was equivalent to the monster’s level, that is no longer the case. The hit dice for a monster in 5e are basically completely arbitrary. The designer was trying to hit a certain HP total, and adjusted the number of HD until the average value of those dice plus Con mod got into the right range.

This means, if you try to adjust the monster’s HP, your intuition might be wrong for how much that lowers or raises the difficulty. Even a monster with extremely low HP might obliterate a lower-level party if it wins initiative (especially if it also has a high AC), since damage scales so high. And maxing out a monster’s HP could functionally double it, which could push it multiple CRs higher in some cases.

The relevant table is on page 274 of the DMG, but the important parts are to the right. Note that most of the published monsters are close to this system, but not exact, as they were likely tweaked in playtesting. But this is the official guideline for how monsters are supposed to be assigned a CR, and it’s at least in the right ballpark most of the time.

Essentially, to figure out a monster’s defensive CR, look up its HP on the table to get the basic CR. Then consult the target AC for that line. If the monster’s AC is different, move the CR up or down by 1 for every 2 points of AC. For example, if the monster has 110 HP and 15 AC, that puts it at CR 3, which has target AC 13. Since it’s 2 AC higher, its defensive CR is effectively 4. Special abilities might also increase this: if it has a lot of resistances/immunities or special defensive actions, it might bump up another couple.

Some monsters are glass cannons (high offense, but low defensive CR) and others are tanks (the opposite), so have their offensive CR and defensive CR averaged. Basically, if you’re looking at a monster before adjusting its HP, and its defensive CR comes out higher or lower than its listed CR, it may have more or less offense to compensate. Just keep that in mind.

To adjust the HP, figure out what CR the new HP total would put it at, then step up or down if the monster’s AC is not in line. Figure out how much that differs from the original defensive CR, and adjust the monster’s CR by half the difference (because you’re averaging the offensive CR).


The Inert Golem

This is basically what got me thinking about the problem in the first place. The Planescape module Doors to the Unknown‘s first chapter features a battleground where variant iron golems have gotten to 0 HP but not been smashed up, which means that if they take any fire damage, this causes them to heal HP and reanimate, attacking the party. They’re likely to acquire less than 20 HP from the various reduced-damage fireball effects in the area, but how high of a CR is an iron golem with only a few HP?

The base iron golem in the MM has 210 HP, AC 20, and a CR 16. 210 HP is right around CR 10, which expects 17 AC, so the 20 AC bumps that up a couple of CRs to 12. We can probably also assume that the golem immunities and special defensive abilities are good for a couple more points of CR, so about 14.

What if it only had at most a dozen HP from a stray 2d6 mini-fireball? That puts it at CR 1/8, which targets AC 13. The extra 7 points of 20 AC are now four steps up the chart, landing at 2, and the same immunities and such put that two more steps up to CR 4. That’s a 10 point difference, halved to 5, so lowers the CR to 11.

Is 11 too high for something that would go down in a single attack? Maybe? If nobody manages to get through its 20 AC (or its magic resistance, or targets an immunity accidentally) before it acts, it’s going to likely put out about 45 damage when it gets to act. Probably still doesn’t make it better than a Stone Golem (CR 10). It could wreck a low-level party that can’t manage to hit (especially if they don’t have magic or adamantine weapons), but this is an example of why you don’t want the offensive and defensive CR to get too far apart. It would probably make more sense to have a scenario where there’s a full-on fireball barrage that would probably get it to at least another CR threshold or two.

The Two Wolves

Winter Wolves are HP 75, AC 13, CR 3 with no real special defensive abilities other than immunity to cold. That HP total puts them right at CR 1, and the AC is correct for that CR. Which means most of its CR is coming from offense, presumably.

Maybe you want a threat for a first-level party, so try to have an injured wolf. Dropping it to half HP puts it in the CR 1/4 range, which doesn’t alter the AC, so it’s two steps down. That, halved, reduces it to a CR 2. It’s still, offensively, much more powerful: that cold breath could wipe out multiple low-level PCs if they get too close, and its bite might take out one every round. If there are multiple, Pack Tactics can be a big threat as well.

Conversely, you want a really chonky boi that’s been eating well and is at maximum for his (arbitrary) 10d10+20 HD: 120 HP. That puts him up at CR 4, and now his AC is a little low, so maybe a CR 3. That’s two points higher than the base for an averaged +1, and makes him a final CR 4.

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