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.