D&D 5e: Bonus Familiar Abilities

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In 5e, the owl is often way more attractive than other familiars: between high-speed flight, darkvision, and flyby, it’s just really good at all the things you mostly want a familiar to be good at. I put the following together to try to level the playing field a bit, such that a player wanting to take a different animal as a familiar for roleplaying reasons won’t feel like it’s a bad mechanical choice.

It’s up to you whether you want all versions of the animal to have these abilities, but it’s definitely intended to be something that a familiar version of it gets.

Bat

Night Flier: The bat has advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks and attack rolls (to deliver touch spells) at night in dim light or darkness. Attackers have disadvantage on opportunity attacks against the bat in these circumstances.

Cat

Nimble Escape: The cat can take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action on each of its turns.

Crab

Big Claw, Little Claw: The crab may reroll a failed attack roll to deliver a touch spell, and may take the Help action as a bonus action on each of its turns (allowing it to effectively Help on two attacks per round).

Dog (Little Dog)

(Treat stats as Cat that doesn’t have a Climb speed, has Keen Hearing and Smell, and its attack is Bite instead of Claw.)

Pack Tactics: When the dog delivers touch spells, it has advantage on its attack roll if at least one of its allies is within 5 feet of the creature and the ally isn’t incapacitated.
Fierce Protector: While taking a short or long rest, if the dog succeeds at its Wisdom (Perception) check to notice an approaching threat, none of the rest of the party can be surprised.

Frog (Toad)

Lashing Tongue: The frog has 10 foot reach for delivering touch spells.
Hopping Defense: The frog may take the Dodge action as a bonus action on each of its turns.

Hawk

Swift Striker: The hawk may take the Dash action as a bonus action on each of its turns, and has advantage when delivering touch spells during any turn in which it’s used the Dash action.

Lizard

Detachable Tail: When the lizard is reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, it can drop to 1 hit point instead. It can’t use this feature again until it finishes a long rest.

Octopus

Clever Tentacles: An octopus can manipulate an item for its master with as much or more dexterity than human hands. When within 5 feet, it may grant the Help action on any of its master’s actions involving manual dexterity.

Owl

The owl is already really good.

Poisonous Snake

Venomous Delivery: When the snake successfully delivers a touch spell, it can also inject venom if the master desires. The target must make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or take 2d4 poison damage.

Fish (Quipper)

(The fish’s Blood Frenzy applies when delivering touch spells.)

Rat

Streetwise: When inside a city, town, or building, the rat may take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action on each of its turns.
They’re Everywhere: When it is reduced to 0 hit points by a ranged attack within an area that has other rats, it is instead missed (the attack killed a different rat). The rat may only use this ability once per day in the same location (approximately within the same 100 feet).

Raven

Gregarious: In any location that has other crows or ravens, the raven exchanges gossip with others of its kind. The raven automatically becomes aware of threats the corvids know about, and can take 1d4 hours to make a Wisdom (Perception) check to discover more specific information for its master. The DC of the check depends on how easy it would be for local corvids to uncover the information.

Sea Horse

Surprising Speed: The sea horse can take the Dash, Disengage, or Dodge action as a bonus action on each of its turns.

Spider

Patient: If it is not moving, the spider gains advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks to hide.
Venomous Delivery: When the spider delivers a touch spell, it can also inject venom if the master desires. The target must make a DC 9 Constitution saving throw or take 1d4 poison damage.

Weasel

Nimble Escape: The weasel can take the Disengage or Hide action as a bonus action on each of its turns.
Weasel’s Intuition: The weasel can Help its master with Charisma (Deception) checks if it is within 5 feet.

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D&D 5e: Items of the Runelords

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I converted a bunch of the gear my players had at the end of Rise of the Runelords for… reasons that may become apparent if I actually run the followup campaign I think I’m running soon.

Weapons

Koruvus’ Prize

Scimitar, rare

You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls with this silvered, magic weapon. It deals an additional 1d6 Radiant damage to Fiends. On a critical hit against a Fiend, you may immediately cast Banishment on that target as a bonus action with no components (the saving throw DC is based on your Charisma). Servants of Lamashtu have disadvantage on this saving throw.

This sword was an ancient human relic that was found by the goblin hero Koruvus and kept by him when he was corrupted by Lamashtu cultists. It was later wielded by a Varisian hero that used it to slay many fiends, awakening its nascent hatred of the breed. It glows in the presence of fiends and servants of Lamashtu, and stokes the wielder’s distaste for these targets.

Res Judicata

Longsword, very rare

You gain a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls with this adamantine, magic weapon.

When you use an action to accuse a target that you can see of a crime, the blade ignites with cold blue flames that shed bright light in a 10-foot radius and dim light for an additional 10 feet. You must genuinely believe the target is guilty of the declared crimes, and that they are sufficient to demand maiming or death, or the flames will not ignite. The target gains an empathic sense of what she is being accused of, even if she does not understand the language you use to speak the crimes.

While the flames are active, the sword does an extra 2d6 radiant damage to this accused target. The flames go out after a single hit to the target if she truly believes herself to be innocent of the declared crimes. They also end upon killing the target, or when the blade is sheathed. You cannot strike to incapacitate when the flames are active: when a target is defeated by a strike from the blade, that defeat almost always means death.

If the target has been officially sentenced for the crimes you accuse her of, and that sentence carries the death penalty, damage from the blade ignores any of the target’s damage resistances and immunities.

This sword was originally created by the church of Aroden, passed to the Order of the Crux after His death, and was taken by the Order of the Scourge in the Chelish Civil War. It bears the eye of Aroden on its hilt. It may have a role yet to play in the saga of Aroden. The wielder always feels a vague sense of loss at the death of Aroden, or perhaps due to the fact that the sword bore other powers before His death that are no longer capable of being accessed through attunement.

Shadow’s Pain

Shortsword, rare (requires attunement)

You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls with this adamantine, magic weapon. You can cause it to become sheathed in barely-visible electricity; when active, whenever you hit with an attack, the target takes an extra 1d6 lightning damage. This electricity’s glow is not sufficient to cast visible light, but it extends the range of Darkvision by an additional 10 feet for anyone that has Darkvision and is within 10 feet of you.

This sword has a mostly-dormant Runeforged Sadistic enchantment. When you critically hit with an attack made with this weapon, any target currently protected by an Abjuration effect must make a Constitution saving throw (against a DC of 8 + Your Proficiency Bonus + Your Charisma Modifier) or be Stunned until the end of your next turn.

Crafted by a Shoanti mage for a Gnomish hero, the weapon may gain additional powers as it is used for greater deeds.

Shadow’s Thirst

Shortsword, rare (requires attunement)

You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls with this adamantine, magic weapon. You can cause it to become sheathed in flickering shadows; when active, whenever you hit with an attack, the target takes an extra 1d6 thunder damage. This doesn’t make any sound, as it actually absorbs the noise of its impact, and the target is momentarily silenced while touching the blade (this is sufficient to muffle any screams from the blow, but not to prolong inability to communicate or cast spells).

The shadowy flickering of the blade allows you a retroactive feint: if you miss with all attacks made with the weapon this turn, you regain the action used to make the attacks. You cannot use the regained action to make attacks (but may use it for other actions in combat).

Crafted by a Shoanti mage for a Gnomish hero, the weapon may gain additional powers as it is used for greater deeds.

Sightstealer

Longbow, rare (requires attunement)

You gain a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls with this magic weapon. You can cause any ammunition it releases to be sheathed in coruscating energy; when active, whenever you hit with an attack, the target takes an extra 1d6 damage. All damage from the attack is treated as Piercing, Lightning, or Radiant, depending on which would do the most damage to the target. When you critically hit with an attack made by this weapon, the target is Blinded until the end of your next turn.

This bow has a mostly-dormant Runeforged Dominant enchantment. When you critically hit with an attack made with this weapon, any target that is a Transmuter wizard or has the Shapechanger trait must make a Constitution saving throw (against a DC of 8 + Your Proficiency Bonus + Your Charisma Modifier) or be Paralyzed until the end of your next turn.

Crafted by a Shoanti mage for a Varisian hero, the weapon may gain additional powers as it is used for greater deeds.

Adornments

Belt of Hellish Perfection

Wondrous item, very rare (requires attunement)

This wide belt is made of a chain mesh of a variety of precious metals, each large link scribed with subtle runes of speed, strength, and health.

The belt has 8 charges. While wearing it, you can use an action to expend 1 or more of its charges to cast one of the following spells from it with yourself as the target: Cure Wounds (1 charge), False Life (1 charge), Enhance Ability (2 charges), Lesser Restoration (2 charges), Protection from Poison (2 charges). You may spend an additional charge when casting a spell from the belt to gain advantage on rolls to maintain Concentration.

The belt regains 1d6 expended charges daily. There is no ill effect for exhausting its available charges (though you cannot spend more charges than it currently possesses).

This belt is actually created by ancient, giant-sized creatures, for whom it was meant as a gorget, and is too large to serve as even a belt for small creatures or medium-sized creatures with narrow hips. The runes are foreign to the magic of Avistan, looking vaguely Tien in construction, and it is likely that this was ornamental war regalia for a powerful creature whose inheritors may want it back. The wearer can understand Tien speech, but not speak it, and can detect the presence of nearby Kami as an incessant, inarticulate whispering. The links regularly exchange positions when not being looked at directly, forming odd shifting patterns and glyphs in the rings of differently-colored metals.

Belt of the Claimer

Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement)

The wide, golden buckle of this belt is inscribed with Thassilonian runes, particularly those of Greed. Its leather is made from the skin of the first Rune Giant. While wearing the belt, you gain advantage on any saving throws you make to resist any hostile spell of the Transmutation school. It absorbs any coins the attuned owner places into it, and can return them at need, and can hold up to 1,000 coins in this manner with no additional weight (this does not count as an extradimensional space).

The belt has 10 charges. While wearing it, you can use an action to expend 1 or more of its charges to cast one of the following spells from it with yourself as the target: Jump (1 charge), Longstrider (1 charge), Alter Self (2 charges), Enlarge/Reduce (2 charges), Levitate (2 charges), Spider Climb (2 charges), Fly (3 charges), Haste (3 charges), Water Breathing (3 charges). You may spend an additional charge when casting a spell from the belt to gain advantage on rolls to maintain Concentration.

The belt regains 1d6 expended charges daily. There is no ill effect for exhausting its available charges (though you cannot spend more charges than it currently possesses).

A symbol of power of Karzoug the Claimer, many who see it may be afflicted by a greed for the item and the status it represents, causing them to challenge the bearer for it. The wearer can hear the faint sound of a chiming bell when an onlooker is about to attack to claim the belt, granting Advantage on Initiative.

Bindings of the Black Monk

Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

This fifty-foot long, foot-wide ribbon of silk was manufactured by the ancient Therassic monks, and still bears subtle embroidery with images from their school of martial arts, though it has darkened to near-black over the ages. It can be easily wrapped around the body and stays in place, forming loose clothing as placed by the wearer. The wearer has advantage on all rolls to escape a grapple, as the cloth automatically detaches and slips from hostile grasps to make it hard to get a grip upon the wearer.

The unarmed damage of the attuned wearer increases by a die size (to a d4 if the wearer does not otherwise have a source of unarmed damage). An attuned wearer who has access to Ki gains an additional point.

The ribbon is practically unbreakable, and can be used as rope to climb, tie up an opponent, lash objects together, and the like. It automatically releases when desired by the attuned owner, or when no part of it is within ten feet of the owner.

Boots of the Rune Law

Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement)

These understated sandals are made of intricately-embroidered silk, with the pattern detailing, in Thassilonian, the entire legal system of Xin. When worn and attuned, you gain advantage on saving throws against any Enchantment effect designed to compel you to take an action that is illegal (including any Geas not applied as a properly mandated punishment).

When you are in a direct and immediate foot chase to pursue a fleeing fugitive, you cannot be slowed and ignore difficult terrain.

Additionally, they function similarly to boots of Elvenkind, Speed, and Striding and Springing:

  • Your steps make no sound, and you have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks that rely on moving silently.
  • When you use the Dash action, your walking speed is doubled for the movement granted by that action, and attacks of opportunity against you have disadvantage on the attack roll.
  • Your walking speed becomes 30 feet if it is not higher, and cannot be reduced below 30 feet by encumbrance or armor. You can jump three times the normal distance (though not further than your remaining movement would allow).

Due to its use in the legal system of Thassilon, the attuned wearer gains an intuitive understanding of the legal system of that ancient land, granting Advantage on any relevant rolls. The sandals never get dirty.

Cloak of Xin-Shalast

Wondrous item, legendary

Converted from the robes of Karzoug the Claimer, this deep-green cloak had its magic refocused for the use of non-wizards. While wearing it:

  • You gain advantage on all saving throws against spells.
  • You gain advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide (it changes colors to blend into its surroundings).
  • You gain resistance against Cold. After you take Fire, Cold, Lightning, or Necrotic damage, the resistance of the cloak changes to that energy type until you take a short rest or you take another kind of energy damage (after a short rest, it reverts to Cold resistance).
  • You can always breathe, even underwater or in locations where there is no air.

By tightly wrapping the cloak around yourself, you may pull yourself and your carried possessions into an extradimensional space. The cloak collapses onto the ground. It is dark inside, and you can hear faintly in the outside world. Because you can always breathe, you are in no danger of suffocating. Whenever the cloak is disturbed, you are dislodged from the plane and refill your space, wearing the cloak. You can exit the plane at will, wearing the cloak in its current space.

Those who recognized Karzoug may recognize this cloak as a symbol of his power, and some may take offense at the alterations to it. The material never gets dirty, and is made of some strange transmuted material that grants it many of its properties.

Hellknight Plate

Plate, very rare (allows attunement by a Hellknight)

This suit of plate armor is made of adamantine: while wearing it, any critical hit against you becomes a normal hit. It is decorated with infernal ornamentation designed to intimidate criminals and enemies of Cheliax.

When attuned and wearing the armor, if you have been invested with the authority to wear it by the Hellknights, you have resistance to Fire and gain the benefits of the Devil’s Sight warlock investment (you can see up to 120 feet in darkness, even if it is magical).

Celestials will find the presence of this item repulsive. Even moral bearers are provided a subtle temptation to wickedness by the infernal emanations of the armor, which tends to make even the most fair-minded Hellknights overzealous in the enforcement of their duties. This is not helped by the fact that the armor also bolsters the bearer’s self confidence.

Artifacts

Sihedron Tome

Wondrous item, artifact (requires attunement)

The first Sihedron Tomes were said to have been crafted by a dragon in the service of Emperor Xin. Each of these books has a unique appearance, and hold an infinite number of pages for spellcasters to inscribe spells upon.

The book may only be opened willingly by its owner, and closes inevitably when it leaves the immediate presence of its owner. It can only pass on to a new owner when the old one is slain, or willingly gifted. Unless gifted, the knowledge stored in the book is forever locked away, perhaps destroyed, for its later owners.

It comes instantly to its owner’s hands when summoned, and can cross any space or dimension to do so. It cannot be teleported away so easily, of course, but is so secure that its owners rarely think much about leaving it around.

Any spellbook-using spellcaster who prepares spells from a Sihedron Tome, which potentially holds libraries worth of arcane knowledge, may prepare three additional spells (or five additional spells if no prepared spells are of schools that oppose any other in the Sihedron diagram; e.g., Divination plus up to three adjacent other schools).

Greed (Transmutation) – Sloth (Conjuration) – Envy (Abjuration) – Lust (Enchantment) – Pride (Illusion) – Wrath (Evocation) – Gluttony (Necromancy)

Major Beneficial Property: While attuned to this artifact, you can’t be Blinded, Deafened, or affected by Feeblemind.

Minor Beneficial Property: While attuned to this artifact, once per day you can use an action to cast Comprehend Languages.

Minor Detrimental Property: While attuned to this artifact, any spells you scribe into any other books or scrolls besides this tome immediately fade into illegibility. You may tear pages from the book to create scrolls, but they are recovered into the book whenever you summon it (you must tear them out again, but not recreate them) and will disappear upon your death like its spells.

Tattoo Magic

Mark of Wrath

Tattoo, very rare

This faintly-glowing tattoo-like rune of Wrath upon your forehead allows you to cast Fire Shield once per day. Additionally, upon your next turn after taking damage, if you hit the target that dealt that damage, you may expend a hit die as a free action to add that die to your damage total (the die only, not the Constitution modifier).

Order of the Scourge Investment

Tattoo, very rare

You may expend one hit die to generate the following effects (requires the listed type of action):

  • Vigilance: As an action, you gain truesight for one minute, and Darkvision to 60 feet (if you do not already have Darkvision). While this is active, you can get a vague sense of any threats in a room on the other side of a wall or door you are touching.
  • Onslaught: As a bonus action, until the start of your next turn increase your speed by 10 feet, gain advantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws, and 1d10 to melee damage rolls.
  • Wrack: As an action, make a melee attack roll to touch a target. If hit, the target takes 1d10+Cha Modifier Psychic damage and must make a Constitution saving throw (DC based on your Charisma) or be Stunned for one round.

Therassic Tattoos

Tattoo, very rare

You may use an action and expend one or more hit dice to generate the following effects (to a maximum of half your hit dice spent on a single effect):

  • Heroism: You are immune to being frightened and gain temporary hit points at the start of each of your turns. The temporary hit points gained are equal to the hit dice you expended. This lasts for one minute and does not require concentration.
  • Fireball: You throw a ball of fire that explodes at a point within up to 150 feet. It has a radius of five feet for every hit die expended (to a maximum of 20 feet). Each target in the radius takes 1d6 damage per hit die expended (Dexterity saving throw for half). The difficulty of this save is based on your Charisma.
  • Fire Shield: You wreathe yourself in hot orange flames or cold blue flames (chosen at the time of activation) that shed bring light in a 10-foot radius and dim light for an additional 10 feet. These flames last for one minute per hit die expended, and this does not require concentration but can be cancelled early if desired. While active, you have resistance to Fire (for cold flames) or Cold (for hot flames). Whenever a creature within 5 feet of you hits you with a melee attack, the shield erupts with flame. The attacker takes fire or cold damage equal to the number of hit dice you expended (based on the type of flames). You also add this damage to your unarmed attacks (including damage dealt while grappling).

Tattoos of the Traveler

Tattoo, very rare

As an action, you may expend one hit die to cast Alarm, Detect Poison and Disease, Longstrider, or Speak with Animals.

D&D 5e: Mystic Domain

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I wasn’t thrilled with the Unearthed Arcana implementation of the Mystic Theurge as the Theurgy School for wizards, so this is intended to come at it from the other direction.

Certain gods view mystical knowledge as a sacred journey rather than a gift of service. Instead of opening themselves up to all the possible prayers available to their deity, their followers instead write their scriptures down, notate them, and try to glean new meaning from the magical forms inherent in the words of faith. This special form of devotion makes them seem much like wizards to others of the faith, obsessed with books. But it is hard to deny that this obsession gives them access to magic beyond that available to their peers.

Mystic Domain Spells

Special

Mystic Spellbook

Unlike other clerics, you cannot prepare spells from the full cleric list. Instead, you maintain a mystic spellbook that contains the cleric spells you know, and you can prepare spells from this book. At 1st level, your book contains five 1st-level spells from the cleric spell list, and one additional 1st-level spell from either the cleric spell list or the wizard spell list. Each time you gain a cleric level, you can add two cleric spells of your choice to your mystic spellbook (each must be a level for which you have spell slots).

In addition to the spells you gain from leveling, you may copy spells in the mystic spellbook using the rules for wizard spellbooks on page 114’s sidebar. You can freely copy spells from wizard spellbooks (but must still follow the limitation of wizard-only spells per level) and from either arcane or divine scrolls (as long as the spell appears on the cleric or wizard list) using the rules for copying scrolls.

You may copy a cleric spell into the book if you are mentored by another cleric who is willing to explain it to you for the entire time it takes you to copy the spell (the teacher must cast it for you at the completion of the demonstration). The cost for copying in this way is the same as copying from a wizard’s book.

While you are not limited in the number of spells from the cleric spell list you can add to your mystic spellbook, for any particular spell level it cannot contain more spells that do not appear on the cleric spell list than your Intelligence bonus (minimum 1): this sets the limits of your capacity for understanding outside your sphere. For example, if your Intelligence bonus is +2, you may copy up to two spells at each spell level that appear on the wizard spell list but not on the cleric list.

Mystic Spellcasting

Using your normal preparation slots (Wisdom modifier + cleric level), you may only prepare spells from the mystic spellbook that normally appear on the cleric spell list.

Instead of the normal spells gained from a divine domain, you gain one additional prepared spell per cleric level (maximum of 10) that can be used to prepare any spells in your mystic spellbook.

Arts of the Wise

At 1st level, you gain an additional cantrip that can be from the cleric or wizard list (it is treated as a cleric cantrip for you). You also become proficient in Arcana.

Channel Divinity: Mastery of Magic

Starting at 2nd level, you can use your Channel Divinity to exert mastery over the fabric of magic itself.

As an action, you present your holy symbol, and all creatures or items with active spells or inherent magic within 30 feet of you acquire a visible, glowing aura similar to what you would see if you cast Detect Magic. This field lasts for Concentration, up to 10 minutes, and travels with you. Anyone seeing these auras who is trained in Arcana (or who can cast Detect Magic) can identify the school of magic for each effect.

This effect gains additional powers as at 6th level, as described below.

School Focus

Starting at 6th level, choose one of the eight schools of magic as your focus. The gold and time you must spend to copy a spell of that school into your mystic spellbook is halved, and if you use one of your spell choices from leveling up to pick a spell of that school, you instead learn two spells of that school.

Additionally, when you use your Channel Divinity: Mastery of Magic, you may choose to take an action at any point while the effect is active to target a creature or item that is being affected by an effect of your focus school (and which has been identified by the Channel Divinity). The target is treated as if you had cast Dispel Magic upon it. This spell is of a power level as if you had cast it at your highest level spell slot. The Channel Divinity ends upon using this power.

Potent Spellcasting

Starting at 8th level, you add your Intelligence modifier to the damage you deal with any cleric cantrip.

Spell Synthesis

At 17th level, you discover deep secrets of the similarities of magic. On the same round you have used your action to cast a spell from one spell list (cleric or wizard), you may use your bonus action to cast a cantrip upon at least one of the same targets as the spell. You may do this a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier before completing a short or long rest.

D&D 5e: Pact of the Blood (Warlock Pact Boon)

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Some Warlocks come by their pacts by inheritance, rather than deliberate choice. Straddling the line between Warlock and Sorcerer, their fell agreements are inherent in their blood. For some, this is actual descent from a pact-granting entity or one of its servitors. For others, it is a contract, geas, or curse that has been passed down a family line. In either case, this source of magic works as a pact rather than sorcery: the power is coming from the original entity, not the caster’s own blood.

In many ways, such an implicit bargain is more dangerous than a formal agreement: the Warlock has little idea of how much credit she’s taking out until the bill comes due. Some may seek to broker an actual contract later in their careers, switching to a different pact with a straightforward accounting of the bargain. She may even switch patrons completely: a blood-pact Warlock of a Fiend may swear her blade to an Archfey to save her soul (though she may learn that vassalage to the fey is a greater bondage in many ways).

Blood pact Warlocks are more likely even than other Warlocks to suddenly get notice that a patron has a quest that must be accomplished, and credit cut off cut off if it’s not completed in a reasonable time frame. Sometimes this is a mission no darker than any other quest. Others, it’s the inspiration to finally formalize the contract. Some such Warlocks never receive such a request… which may lead them to believe that they’re somehow accomplishing their patron’s goals without even intending to do so.

And that’s before the echoes start…

Pact Boon

At 3rd level, you learn two of the Metamagic options of the Sorcerer. These can be used only with spells cast with your Pact Magic.

To cast a spell using metamagic, treat your Warlock Slot Level as if it was 1-3 levels lower (based on the sorcery point cost of the metamagic), or half-level for Twinned Spell. For example, most metamagics are cast at one level lower, Quickened is cast at two levels lower, Heightened is cast at three levels lower, and Twinned Spell is cast at half its level (round down).

You can only cast spells of equal or lower level to the reduced slot (e.g., if you have 4th level slots and the Quickened and Subtle spell metamagics, you can cast any spell of 2nd or lower with Quickened, or any spell of 3rd level or lower with Subtle).

You may use metamatic with your Mystic Arcanum spells: treat the arcanum slot as working equivalently to a pact magic slot for this purpose. If the arcanum is reduced to 5th level or below, use it to cast any applicable spell you can cast with your pact magic slots. If it’s reduced to 6th level or higher, use it to cast the arcanum you have at that level.

Eldritch Invocations

Lesser Echoes

Prerequisite: 7th level, Pact of the Blood feature

You have begun to transform into a supernatural creature in service to your patron. This may be an echo of your ancestor, or the form your patron intends for you once your life as a mortal is complete. Choose a monster of a type related to your patron (e.g., devil or demon for the Fiend, fey for the Archfey, aberration for the Great Old One, etc.). You take on some minor cosmetic and personality features of the monster (possibly replacing one of your characteristics). Additionally, choose one of the monster’s traits and come up with an equivalent version for yourself that seems reasonable to you and your GM.

Suggested powers include gaining a resistance to an energy the monster is resistant or immune to, gaining a climb speed equal to half your normal speed, gaining a special attack equivalent to another attack at 7th level (or an enhancement to your attacks that can be used a limited number of times per rest), or gaining a special power equivalent to a 4th-level spell that you can use once per long rest.

You also choose another metamagic option (your third).

Greater Echoes

Prerequisite: 15th level, Lesser Echoes, Pact of the Blood feature

You have continued your transformation into a proper servitor for your patron. Choose even more obvious cosmetic and personality traits of the monster type (replacing another characteristic). Additionally, choose another power with your GM based on the monster’s capabilities.

Suggested powers include immunity to an energy type the monster is immune to, gaining a flight speed equal to your normal speed, gaining one of the monster’s special attack types (even really powerful ones), gaining a special power equivalent to a 2nd-level spell that you can use at will, an equivalent to a 4th-level spell that you can use once per short rest, or an equivalent to an 8th-level spell that you can use once per long rest.

You also choose another metamatic option (your fourth).

The Septarch’s Tower, Part 5

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Floor B4

Entry

A fantastic battle ranged throughout this level. Charred and smashed bodies lie in the main hallway and throughout the rooms. Most of them show some strange accumulation of earth: crystal growths, stone nodules, and the like. All the beds and tables have been smashed throughout. Pictograph carvings lined with crystal in the walls give instructions for bonding to earth at one of the summoning circles.

The door to the southeast bedroom has been magically sealed. Only an order key will open it. Within is Hieronymus’ library collection from the rest of the tower.

Earth Dorms Note

Well f*** me with a Hedge thorn! They just kept coming but I think I got them all. I think the earth mages never fled, but somehow bonded themselves to the earth to stay behind as guardians. They… weren’t rational about it. I’m not sure they could even still speak. This is insane. I’m moving on.

Salome

You didn’t get all of them. I got the rest. They were like zombies that used earth magic. I found and destroyed the ritual that did this to them. It was supposed to grant them agelessness and imperviousness to harm, perhaps as one last risky attempt to win the war. It worked, to a point, but I suspect they didn’t expect it to destroy their intellect. I can’t abide the idea of anyone else doing this to themselves or someone else. I’ve put the rest of the secrets of this tower in the southeast. Use your key.

Hieronymus

Earth Bonding Cantrip (Wis)

Earth supports and nourishes. This cantrip allows the caster to fortify loose earth, hardening it or increasing its nourishing capabilities to life.

The hardening application causes a cube of earth up to five feet on a side to calcify, gaining the strength of sandstone. This can be used to slowly mold loose earth or sand into a freestanding sculpture, make mud easy to walk upon, hold back floodwater, or shore up a tunnel or sapping. The caster may take a -3 penalty for each additional cube to be affected per round. The effect lasts until the affected earth takes a meaningful impact, change in pressure, or change in humidity (i.e., it can last indefinitely if nothing would upset the chemicals bonds created in the soil).

The nourishing application draws lifegiving nutrients to the top of soil. This application is maintained, and can be sustained even while sleeping (but precludes other magic that requires concentration). A single living individual heals at double the normal rate while sleeping partially buried in this soil (and this can also repair damage to plants). The caster may take a -3 penalty for each additional target to affect.

Library Room

This contains the compiled higher level spells that Hieronymus took from Salome’s folios. The lower-level spells may still be available in the upper levels.

Air Spells and Rituals

Feather Fall, Whispering Wind; Misty Step*

  1. Unseen Servant
  2. Call Storm, Summoning
  3. Wind Wall*
  4. Invisibility
  5. Storm’s Wrath
  6. Wizard’s Flight

Fire Spells and Rituals

Burning Hands, Flame Charm; Scorching Ray*

  1. Produce Flame*
  2. Hellish Rebuke*, Summoning
  3. Continual Light
  4. Flaming Sphere*
  5. Heat Metal*
  6. Fireball

Earth Spells and Rituals

Pass without Trace, Petrifying Gaze; Shatter*

  1. Goodberry
  2. Endure the Elements, Summoning
  3. Skin of the Treant
  4. Enhance Ability*
  5. Ritual of Healing
  6. Shape of Stone

Water Spells and Rituals

Abjuration, Obscurement; Acid Arrow*

  1. Gather Mists
  2. Cleansing Ritual, Summoning
  3. Purify Food and Drink*
  4. Water Breathing*
  5. Dispel Magic
  6. Full Restoration

* Not a normal part of Beyond the Wall (converted from 5e version)

Floor B5

Entry

The deepest floor of the tower is heavily warded and organically carved from earth and stone. Unless otherwise noted, all walls, ceilings, and floors are smooth granite traced with endless glyphs of quartz that glimmer enough to produce low light throughout each room of the complex. The ceiling of each room is at least 20 feet high, leaving room to maneuver for even the tallest of prisoners.

The sphinx, Taheret, is responsible for guarding this floor. However, based upon her contract, she’s pretty sure that simply destroying most or all of the inhabitants is enough for her to get out of her contract. While she’s not allowed to attack them herself unless they try to escape, she is simply tasked with keeping them from escaping and doesn’t have to prevent invaders from killing them or stealing. She knows what’s in every room, and might help by giving answers and bargaining for additional assistance. However, she can’t help but talk in riddles, because she’s very, very bored.

Rooms

  1. Entryway: Taheret the Sphinx
  2. Brass Golem
  3. Hellhound x5
  4. Salome’s body and possessions
  5. Room is covered in polished mirrors to disorient the Aatheriexa
  6. Aatheriexa
  7. Room is heavily warded against abominations
  8. Room is covered in strange glyphs that make this a dead magic area
  9. Hellhound x6
  10. Belker x3
  11. Mihstu
  12. The room has powerful winds set up to blow into the northwest corner. Non-flying creatures must succeed at a Strength (Athletics) check each round at +5 to avoid being moved into the corner; flying creatures must make the check at -5. At the end of the round, any creature within 10 feet of the northwest corner takes 1d6 cold damage.
  13. Animated Armor x8
  14. Magically-powered Forge (Lair Treasure 1)
  15. Troll anteroom: Proto-Troll outcast (who will nonetheless fall back quickly upon being hurt)
  16. Troll bathroom (very gross)
  17. Troll Living Room: Proto-Troll x4
  18. Troll Sleeping Room: Proto-Troll x3 (will reinforce 17 after 2d4 rounds)
  19. Troll Kitchen: Troll Cow
  20. Room is heavily warded against abominations
  21. Dead beholder (killed by Salome years ago)
  22. Byakhee
  23. Ancient storage room (everything here is long-ruined or taken by Salome)
  24. Locked door (Succeed on 2 out of 3 lockpicking at -10): Lair Treasure 2
  25. Sand Golem
  26. Magically Shaking Room: Reflex save each round in room or take 1d4 bludgeoning damage by slamming into pillars in the room
  27. Crysmal x10
  28. Efreeti (trapped in heavily-glyphed room with one wish left to grant before being freed)

Treasure

Salome’s Body (4)

Mummified in the dry air, Salome was clearly a dark-haired woman of early middle age, slight, agile build, and nondescript appearance. She carries:

  • Another teleport key
  • 66 cp
  • 120 sp
  • 6 gp
  • 150 sp of ritual components
  • Infiltrator’s Athame: Functional (easily hidden in knife form, useful as a ritual tool), Life-Drinking; Contingent Situational (Deals damage): Increases to Longsword until Life-Drinking triggers; Contingent Code (Sworn to Service of the Order): Magic, Spell Storing
  • Bracelet of Biting (3 charges)
  • Gloves of Thievery (2 charges)
  • Amulet of Deception (3 charges)
  • Spellbook (Order):
    • Spells: Burning Hands, False Friend, Flame Charm, Feather Fall, Healing Touch, Magic Missile, Masked Image, Misty Step*, Mystical Shield, Obscurement, Pass without Trace, Spider Climb, Whispering Wind
    • Rituals: (1) Arcane Experiment, Circle of Protection, Mage Armor, Steed of the Sorcerer, Wizard’s Mark; (2) Endure the Elements, Summoning; (3) Continual Light, Friends; (4) Alter Self, Invisibility; (5) Arcane Sight, Dispel Magic, Heat Metal*, True Identification; (6) Fireball; (7) Wall of Flame; (8) Storm of Ice

Forge: Lair Treasure 1 (14)

This forge produces a never-ending flame whose heat can be adjusted by dials on the wall. A complete set of anvils, quenching pots, and forging tools are neatly arranged. The valuable ingots are hidden deep in a cabinet where they were missed by mages clearing the tower (or too heavy to fly away with)

  • 2 ingots of Adamantine
  • 4 ingots of Mithril
  • 10 ingots of silver (50 sp value each)
  • 40 ingots of steel (8 sp value each)
  • Masterwork Longsword x5
  • Masterwork Spear x10
  • Reinforced Shield with Volkov heraldry x20
  • 3,000 sp of miscellaneous plates that could be assembled into a suit of plate armor (or used to repair other armor)

Lair Treasure 2 (24)

This room was used to hide any treasures that couldn’t be taken away. It contains miscellaneous ancient art furnishings (too bulky to move easily) worth 2,000 sp for pure material value, and potentially worth up to three times that to collectors of ancient Imperial art.

Troll Cow (19)

A cow bound to an earth spirit in the same way as the proto-trolls, this poor beast has suffered for over a thousand years as the trolls used it as their primary source of food: ripping off hunks of beef and letting the cow regenerate. The cow wears a Nosering of Sustenance (4 charges) which is sufficient for the cow to be fed and continue serving as a food source for others, and seems to have been designed for this purpose. It’s unclear what kind of effect eating the cow’s meat would have on humans. The cow is long-adjusted to its lot in life, and quite docile. It suffers the same difficulties moving through dead magic and sunlight as the trolls (it has 20 HP).

Monsters

(Additional stats for Beyond the Wall. Most of these are based on creatures from Pathfinder.)

Aatheriexa

Summoned from a foreign star, this immortal tangle of thin, tentacle-like eyestalks travels by floating in the air, but must remain within a few feet of a solid surface or water. It is slightly larger than a man, and it can reform its mass to attack or manipulate items. Though indefinitely cruel, its intelligence is inscrutable to humans; it cannot be commanded nor does it try to communicate.

Hit Dice:    10d4 (25 HP)                            AC:    12    XP:    2,350

Attack:        +10 to hit, 3d4 damage (tentacle)

Notes:        Grab (a target hit by an aatheriexa’s tentacle attack must make a Reflex save or be grabbed and pinned; if pinned, the target must use its action to make a Strength check to escape on its next turn; on the aatheriexa’s next turn, it can engulf the target, dealing damage automatically while still being able to attack another target), Withering Aura (any living creatures within 15 feet of an aatheriexa must make a Fortitude save each round; failure deals 1d4 damage), Gaze of Many Eyes (any creature that looks at an aatheriexa must succeed at a Will save to be able to attack it; critical failure on this save results in the attack instead being directed at an ally)

Animated Armor

Formed of cast-off plates of armor in various ancient styles, these creatures are created from fallen warriors. Not exactly a ghost, the spirit that animates it is much closer to an elemental of the astral plane: the idea of armored combat itself. They proved difficult to command on the battlefield in the best of times, and especially hard to keep idle while waiting for battle. When used, they were typically stored apart from others and deployed as close to the enemy line as possible.

Hit Dice:    3d10 (16 HP)                            AC:    18    XP:    150

Attack:        +5 to hit, 1d10+2 damage (greatsword)

Notes:        Armor (animated armor can absorb armor from fallen other animated armors by passing over them, healing 1d10 hp; defeated animated armors count as suits of double-broken plate armor)

Belker

Hybrid elementals of air and fire, the process that created these creatures accidentally tapped the demonic realms: in addition to looking very demonic, the creatures proved malicious and impossible to trust to not attack their own allies. They appear as man-sized demonic figures made of smoke and shadow. Defeated belkers congeal into fist-sized smoky gems useful in rituals related to air and fire, and worth 50 sp each.

Hit Dice:    5d8 (22 HP)                            AC:    14    XP:    150

Attack:        +5 to hit, 1d8 damage (claws)

Notes:        Smoke Form (belkers can enter smoke form at will at the beginning of their turns; they become incorporeal so they can only be affected by magic and iron weapons, but cannot make physical attacks), Smoke Claws (while in physical form, a belker can make two claw attacks and a bite attack; while in smoke form, it can attack by engulfing a character and that character must succeed at a Fortitude save or take 2d8 damage from internal attacks)

Brass Golem

Forged of brass and nearly twenty feet tall, this warrior sculpture has been bound with a fire elemental and ancient arts of golem making to be a powerful protector. Due to the fire of their construction, the scroll that animates a brass golem will often become singed through use, causing the creature’s behavior to become erratic an no longer useful in war. When defeated, much of the brass can be salvaged, producing at least 1000 pounds of scrap brass (easily worth 3 sp per pound).

Hit Dice:    8d6 (30 HP)                            AC:    15    XP:    1,300

Attack:        +11 to hit, 2d6 damage (falchion)

Notes:        Regeneration (golems regenerate 3 hp per round, even after being reduced to 0 or fewer HP, unless their animating scroll is removed; for brass golems, this regeneration is paused for a round after taking cold damage), Cinder Breath (brass golems fill the area around them with smoke and cinders from their breath, causing everyone within 15 feet or an entire enclosed room, to make a Fortitude save each round on their turn or take 1d6 fire damage), Brass Body (brass golems are healed by fire damage and immune to electricity)

Byakhee

Evil spacefaring creatures from a distant star, these man-shaped insectoid creatures are so wrong that most thinking people have trouble looking at one directly or comprehending what they are seeing (making them very difficult to hit). While seldom summoned directly, they may simply appear, inscrutibly, on worlds that have contacted foreign stars. Immortal and ineffable, they are content to wait for the stars to be right.

Hit Dice:    5d4 (12 HP)                            AC:    17    XP:    550

Attack:        +5 to hit, 1d8 damage (claw)

Notes:        Shriek (As its action, a byakhee can shriek to take 1d4 damage and then summon 2d4 additional byakhee that each have only 1 HP; these duplicates cannot themselves summon others unless they are healed enough to survive the self-damage)

Crysmal

Small, scorpion-shaped arrangements of crystal, these earth elementals aggressively seek out gems to form into new crysmals. Annoyingly aggressive, the ancients kept them essentially as truffle pigs for valuable stones. They can normally burrow easily through earth and stone, but cannot easily penetrate metal. Immortal, they do not need to eat, and will wait endlessly for an opportunity to continue their burrowing.

Hit Dice:    2d8 (16 HP)                            AC:    15    XP:    95

Attack:        +2 to hit, 1d8 damage (tail spike)

Notes:        Brittle (crysmals take double damage from bludgeoning and sonic attacks), Tail Spike (crysmals can launch their tails as a ranged attack that does 2d8 damage if it hits, but they subsequently only do 1d6 damage on regular attacks)

Efreeti

Complete jerks from the plane of Fire, Efreeti can grant wishes, delight in perverting the wish as much as possible. If thwarted, they are quick to attack, but also willing to accept surrender and continue negotiations. There is no greater threat than a twelve-foot tall genie on its last wish.

Hit Dice:    10d8 (45 HP)                            AC:    16    XP:    625

Attack:        +10 to hit, 3d8 damage

Notes:        Creature of Fire (efreeti are immune to fire, can create fire at will as an action (dealing 1d8 damage to everyone in the area), and can create illusions at will), Spellcaster (efreeti may cast spells (up to 10 per day) and ritual magic)

Hellhound

Perhaps the most tameable of demons, these big fiery dogs are sometimes kept for their uses in detecting spirits. Immortal and cruel like their progenitors, they can be an unfortunate surprise in ancient buildings in which they were previously penned.

Hit Dice:    2d8 (9 HP)                            AC:    14    XP:    70

Attack:        +2 to hit, 1d8 damage (bite)

Notes:        Demonic Sight (hellhounds may see spirits and invisible things), Immune to Fire (hellhounds may not be harmed by fire of any kind), Demonic Skin (hellhounds ignore the first five points of damage from sources that are not magic or cold iron)

Mihstu

Bizarre air elementals, mihstu appear as clouds of mist that, upon closer inspection, is made up of razor-sharp shards of glass. Not filling much more space than a human, they can contort into many different shapes, easily escaping non-warded confinement. When they can be commanded, they make excellent strikers, as they can fly to wherever they want in a battlefield, with little worry about ranged attacks. Their targets are only fortunate that they do not have ranged attacks of their own. When killed, the dust wrapped up in a mihstu falls into a powder useful in rituals and worth 100 sp.

Hit Dice:    6d8 (27 HP)                            AC:    14    XP:    425

Attack:        +6 to hit, 1d8 damage (tentacles)

Notes:        Swift (a mihstu can make four tentacle attacks, but cannot attack the same opponent with more than two), Draining Pin (if a mihstu hits the same opponent with two tentacle attacks, that target is pinned; the mihstu can automatically hit that target with one or both attacks on subsequent rounds; the target may use her action to try a Strength check to escape), Wind Defense (a mihstu is immune to physical ranged attacks), Incorporeal (a mihstu has no physical form and is only affected by magic and iron weapons), Susceptible to Cold (a mihstu loses its next turn upon taking magical cold damage)

Proto-Troll

Formed by binding an earth elemental to a volunteering warrior, the hybrid creature so created was not what anyone expected. Mutated and distended by the process, they proved to be ageless and immortal as long as they remained fed. However, they also proved irrational, vicious, and no longer capable of voluntarily following the orders of their previous commanders. Even more of a problem, the binding left them strangely vulnerable to disruption: fire, acid, lack of magic, and even sunlight could upset their regenerative abilities and cause them to calcify. The most docile of them were bred, eventually losing some of their greater weaknesses and making the modern troll, but pockets of the proto-trolls still live as long as they have access to food.

Hit Dice:    5d10 (27 HP)                            AC:    15    XP:    300

Attack:        +6 to hit, 1d10 damage (bite), 1d6 (claws)

Notes:        Regeneration (trolls regenerate 3 hit points per round unless they have been wounded with fire, and may even come back from death in this manner), Swift (trolls may attack once with their bite and twice with their claws), Unstable Magic (proto-trolls have their regeneration reversed while exposed to sunlight or non-magical areas, taking 3 damage per round and turning to stone upon reaching 0 HP)

Sand Golem

Originally a stone or clay golem that was repaired too many times, this golem has reached a failure state where it is simply a vaguely man-shaped, ten-foot-tall pile of sand held together only by magic. This has some interesting effects on its fighting ability, as it is already shattered and can simply grab onto melee weapons. Unfortunately, it also loses a lot of its programming, and most of these eventually become as much a danger to their creators as to their intended targets. When defeated, the golem collapses into around 2,000 pounds of magically-infused sand, which might go for as much as 1 sp per pound to the right mage.

Hit Dice:    7d6 (30 HP)                            AC:    11    XP:    300

Attack:        +9 to hit, 2d6 damage (slam)

Notes:        Regeneration (golems regenerate 3 hp per round, even after being reduced to 0 or fewer HP, unless their animating scroll is removed; for sand golems, this regeneration is paused for a round after taking electric damage), Clutching Sands (hits against a sand golem with a melee weapon require the attacker to make a Reflex save or be disarmed, or pinned until succeeding at a Strength check for unarmed attackers), Sand Body (sand golems take double damage from water-based attacks, and are slowed to a crawl for one round by electricity or fire attacks)

Sphinx

Denizens of a distant faerie dimension, sphinxes are often summoned to the earth for use as immortal guardians. While they enjoy eating, they do not need to do so to maintain their lives as long as they continue to fulfill their contracted role. Their intellect is capacious, they can easily learn any language, and they often entertain themselves through the long interludes in their guardianships by planning riddles for the next people they meet. While their catlike natures make them seem somewhat cruel, they are able to be negotiated with, particularly by adventurers that might be able to end their contract and free them.

Hit Dice:    8d8 (36 HP)                            AC:    15    XP:    1100

Attack:        +8 to hit, 1d8 damage (claws)

Notes:        Swift (a sphinx may make two claw attacks, and follows up with a rake for an additional automatic 1d8 damage if it hits the same target with both), Spellcaster (a sphinx may cast spells (up to 8 per day) and ritual magic)

The Septarch’s Tower, Part 4

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Floor B2

(This and subsequent floors are getting wider, as they spread to fill the hill. All external walls are slightly sloped so they narrow inwards toward the ceiling.)

Entry

This floor is even more humid, and has a damp chill as the party descends deeper into the earth. The mage lights are simple, regular affairs set at head height along the walls every few feet. Each of the doors on the floor is held open with a stone or metal spike wedged into the bottom of the door, and the ones further back into the area are blasted open, with scars of the magical blasts still upon them. (Salome got impatient with solving whatever water puzzle was on these doors, particularly since each and every room is empty.)

Each wall is almost as smooth as glass, and the floors not much more textured such that walking is slightly dangerous (it’s unclear whether this was from a thousand years of erosion, or an intentional polish). Any art on the walls has long since eroded to nothing. Explorers do not get the sense that there was much furniture here to begin with, and any there was has long melted into a faint organic film in the corners of the rooms. Perhaps the only other thing of interest is the room with two doors immediately east of the stairs: some ancient mechanism still causes cold water to shower from several holes in the ceiling (and into drains in the floor). It’s easy to come to the conclusion that these were a spartan people, concerned with cleanliness and purification. Various toiletries, some monogrammed with an S are piled up in the southwest corner and suffering over a decade of water damage (Salome set up here for her own hygiene).

An odd sense of being watched dogs the party as they inspect the floor for several minutes, and anyone staying near the stairs notices a haze of water slowly accumulating into what seems like a cloud, and then like a humanoid form. By the time they’re done looking around and probably forming up in case of a threat, the still foggy being speaks in a wet voice, asking in Ancient Imperial:

“Are you students of water, or interlopers like the last invader? Please, demonstrate the magics of water so that I know you are friend, not foe.”

(The bound mist elemental is looking for a demonstration of what they’d consider water magic: either explicit manipulation of water or cold, or magic that purifies and cleans. Without any surviving materials, he is the primary way of accessing the wisdom of the water mages, specifically how to attune to water. Salome blasted him as a threat before having a conversation. He’s not very intelligent, more of a simple artificial intelligence than a thinking being, and upon convincing him that at least one of the PCs is a disciple of water:)

It has been some time since a new class of students entered these halls, and I’m afraid the accommodations are more sparse than usual. You may take your pick of the smaller, central rooms, as they are all unclaimed at present. You should check on the other floors to see if there is any bedding in the stores. Once you are settled in, I can guide you through the rites of binding to water.

With that, he steps back, taking up a position immediately east of the stairs up, out of the way of traffic. He seems perfectly relaxed to stand like a statue forever.

The elemental servant can walk them through water bonding. Any other information he can provide is up to the GM’s discretion.

Water Bonding Cantrip (Wis)

Water dissolves and cleanses. This cantrip allows the caster to cleanse a surface as if by clean water.

The normal application causes a touched surface of up to approximately a square five feet on a side (or the skin of a grown human) to be cleansed as if run under swiftly flowing clean water. The cantrip can be sustained (doing so makes it impossible to cast new cantrips, spells, or rituals, or maintain any existing effects that require major concentration), and every round the apparent time submerged is equal to a minute. This process quickly cleans wounds and grime away from a surface, and eventually begins to break down a surface that’s vulnerable to exposure.

By taking a penalty to the casting roll, the caster may increase the effective “speed” of the flow. With a -3 penalty, even round is an hour, with -6, each is a day, and with -9, each is a year: at the maximum power, iron can be ruined in minutes and hard stone scoured away in hours. The caster may intuitively shape the affected area to deliberately sculpt it through erosion.

Floor B3

Well, this is certainly the source of all the humidity. (In the Fallcrest map, the tower sits upon a high hill, the base of which is next to a river passing north of the hill. This level is, thus, intended to be basically level with the water table. Adjust as needed if yours isn’t set on a big hill.)

The third basement is far down enough that it’s probably level with the lower city that surrounds the hill, and thus the small lake inside is probably an offshoot of the nearby river. Rivulets of water stream down the back wall, glistening in the mage lights arranged around the walls in flowing geometric patterns, and likely running from the drains in the showers above. The lake itself has mage lights along the bottom, and is crystal clear (and about ten feet deep). Some fish swim in the water, but there are also other strange ripples and those with supernatural senses detect a presence in the water (it’s a water elemental, if they’ve encountered similar before). Something is keeping the lake clean and preventing bugs from entering the tower from here. They can see a tunnel set into the northern wall, with a gridded gate set into it, that might be another way to access the tower if they wanted to swim underwater for a decent distance (and brave the possible elemental guardian).

A large summoning circle is set in an island. It’s unlikely that the mages jumped a dozen feet to get there and unclear what the elemental would do if someone jumped over there. (The elemental will attempt to defend the large summoning platform from interlopers unattuned to water, but will not deliberately molest travelers that don’t touch or cross the water. If someone is attuned to water, the elemental braces their feet to allow them to walk across the pool to the summoning circle, and won’t interfere with attempts to use the escape grate.)

The walls to the south are set with mosaics that haven’t deteriorated significantly, showing individuals in various poses that look like they’re dancing?

The one door out of the room to the south opens easily, and mostly seems to be designed to cut some of the moisture. Inside, the walls are made of silver-backed glass, and may be the best mirror any of the PCs have seen (depending on campaign technology level), creating a seemingly infinite space (lit by magelights on the ceiling). Various blue gems are mounted at seemingly random places around the room (in the mirrors) at anywhere from waist to shoulder height. The door to the southwest is locked with no obvious method to open it.

Any monks or other martial artists in the party can recognize the dance on the wall and the position of the gems as a martial kata. They are capable of learning and performing it, different parts of the kata taking hands and feet past specific gems in the room, triggered in sequence as a combination lock for the inner door. Less martial but more intellectual characters can probably eventually figure it out, and open it like a traditional combination lock without actually doing a kata.

The Trials

The rooms of this level are an ongoing purification ritual, becoming progressively harder and netting greater rewards. After steps 4 and 6 there are water orbs to touch to end the ritual and take the bonuses already accumulated. The rites must be started again to proceed further after using one of these orbs (the orb returns the user to the main room). The final room is an orb that triggers completion of the ritual.

Touching a water orb after doing some basic rites is also key to attuning to water, so anyone that wants this attunement must make it through at least the first four rooms of this challenge.

Room 1: Clementia et Humanitas

This room contains several of the greatest enemies of those in the room, bound, gagged, and kneeling. The targets are helpless, and damage dealt to them is taken by the attacker after a two round delay. You can simply proceed through the next door at any time.

Passing this challenge purifies any mental effects upon triggering a water orb.

Room 2: Comitas et Gravitas

This room contains a mask of comedy and a mask of tragedy at the end of the room. Those in the room experience a series of emotions (sadness, joy, anger, hilarity, shame, pride) and one mask lights up (the emotion is always wrong for the mask). The challenge is to put on the proper face for the lit mask, rather than what is being felt. Characters with an acting or deception skill can make a Charisma check with that skill to demonstrate the correct face, and any character can make a Will save to resist the false emotion and put on the correct face. Every failure deals the character’s level/hit dice in damage. Once all six emotions have been passed, the supplicant can move through the next door.

Passing this challenge purifies any ability damage or level drain upon triggering a water orb.

Room 3: Salubritas et Veritas

A stern matronly face at the end of this room asks a series of questions about the speaker’s healthy practices, and everyone is compelled to answer truthfully (Will save at -10 to resist the compulsion):

  • Do you wake with the dawn each day?
  • Do you cleanse yourself in cold water each week?
  • Do you keep your hands free of your private parts except when bathing?
  • Have you lain with anyone but your current bonded lover?
  • Have you ever failed to wear veil and gloves when touching the dead?
  • Do you consume organ meats whenever they are offered?

Every answer of No causes the face to wail and blast a line of ice at the speaker that deals the target’s level/hit dice in damage (Reflex save to avoid). The door opens once all questions have been answered either way.

Passing this challenge purifies any disease or poison upon triggering a water orb.

Room 4: Dignitas et Honestas

A statue in this room stands in a classic orator’s pose, straight-backed, feet planted, and hands raised. Upon mimicking the pose, the character is subjected to a barrage of uncomfortable effects designed to make it impossible to maintain the pose. The character must make six Fortitude saves. Each failed save either restarts the challenge or forces the character to take a point of damage to a random ability score (to power through the pain). Once all challenges have been passed, the door opens.

Passing this challenge heals all hit point damage (including permanent damage) upon triggering a water orb.

Room 5: Virtus et Firmitas

The door to the water orb starts open. Characters may use it without taking this challenge.

A statue appears in this room for each individual, bent in a wrestling pose, which moves to intercept if they try to move past. Each character must succeed in two out of three Strength tests at -5 to wrestle the statue to the other end of the room and exit through the door.

Passing this challenge purifies the character of fear and doubt upon triggering a water orb: for an entire turning of the moon, the character gains +5 on Will saves.

Room 6: Constantia et Disciplina

A constant, cutting icy wind blows across this room, making crossing it an endurance challenge. (If the character is protected against cold, the wind adapts to a temperature or even energy type that no one is protected against.) Each character must succeed in two out of three Constitution tests at -5 to cross the room (and either touch the water orb or move on to the next room).

Passing this challenge purifies the character of physical weakness upon triggering a water orb: for an entire turning of the moon, the character gains +5 on Fortitude saves.

Room 7: Frugalitas et Industria

This room is full of simple puzzles games, which award tokens upon successful completion. Some cost tokens to play, risking the tokens. A sandglass begins counting down upon entering the room, providing about 20 minutes, and the door to the next room has a clear number of slots for tokens. If the glass runs out, all tokens evaporate and the glass begins the count again. Each character must succeed in two out of three Intelligence tests at -5 to work out a way to earn enough tokens to proceed. Succeeding at all three provides enough tokens to erase an ally’s failure. Upon putting tokens in the door, the character is teleported to the next room (i.e., not all have to win to proceed); the character can still go back through the door once to return to the previous water orb.

Passing this challenge purifies the character of flaws in the reflexes upon triggering a water orb: for an entire turning of the moon, the character gains +5 on Reflex saves.

Room 8: Iustitia et Prudentia

Each character in this room receives a private vision of a mystery play, each of four individuals recounting their own version of a murder that occurred as if the character is the judge. There are a surprising variety of different stories, though repeated viewings sometimes repeat actors in different roles and situations. Each character must make three Wisdom tests at -5 to eliminate a suspect: passing all three leaves only one suspect, while each failure leaves another possible murderer. The character may then pass declare a murderer to be put to death (choosing randomly if more than one suspect hasn’t been eliminated). Choosing incorrectly results in the character taking 1d10 damage per level and restarting the challenge. Passing allows the character to move though the next door (it becomes immaterial only for the character).

Passing this challenge purifies the character of ignorance upon triggering a water orb: the character can learn an additional language within a few days if study begins within the next turning of the moon.

Room 9: Pietas et Severitas

This is just a crazy room full of magical traps (choosing energy types that the targets are vulnerable to) that strike either across the midsection or in two vertical lines to narrowly miss only someone standing ramrod straight. Light-up faces on opposing walls give a clue as to whether the solution is to genuflect or stand at attention. Each character must make six Dexterity checks at -5. Each failed check results in the character taking 1d4 damage per level.

Passing this challenge purifies the character of hesitation upon triggering a water orb: the character grants a permanent +1 to initiative (that stacks with previous bonuses).

Room 10: Auctoritas

Each character in this room faces a gauntlet of elemental figures (the number of figures is equal to the character’s level/hit dice). The character must command them to move aside, making a Charisma check at -5 for each. On a success the figure stands aside. On a failure, it deals 2d6 damage and disappears. Bypassing each figure through success or failure without being defeated passes the challenge.

Passing this challenge purifies the character of self doubt upon triggering a water orb: the character gains experience as if defeating a creature with hit dice equal to the character’s level/hit dice:

  1. 15
  2. 40
  3. 75
  4. 125
  5. 200
  6. 325
  7. 475
  8. 700
  9. 1100
  10. 1300

Conversion Notes

This is intended to be both an insight into the strange values of the ancient empire, as well as a repeatable resource for the players to remove status effects. If I had the map to do over again, I’d probably arrange it in such a way that the PCs have a little more control over which challenges they do in which order, to focus on traits they’re good at.

The difficulties and damage numbers are designed for Beyond the Wall. For other systems, the idea is basically that getting past the first four rooms should be tough but reasonable for anyone, and the subsequent rooms should be almost impossible for low-level characters but still very difficult for high-level characters. Thus, most things scale based on level (and the ability checks are based on Beyond the Wall not really increasing ability scores drastically: in other systems you may need to scale these in a different way).

I had one PC make it through to the last room with only one HP remaining, after a series of extremely lucky rolls (and using up all her rerolls). She grudgingly left rather than risking getting killed in the Charisma room and cashed out her prizes, but plans to go back later. None of the other PCs even made it past the fifth room.

The Septarch’s Tower, Part 3

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Floor U4 (Air Dorms)

Entry

The fourth floor is another visibility risk. Thick panes of glass or crystal seem to be worked haphazardly into windows on the tower. The panes are very thick and cloudy, making it hard to see anything outside. At night, light inside is visible from outside. The mage lights start to come up in arbitrarily arranged points, in all seven colors such that the total lighting of the room is even and white, but objects cast strange rainbow shadows. It’s not incredibly bright, but probably visible outside.

The floor wraps clockwise around some kind of central area. The shapes are seemingly random, tables that once were piled with scrolls are pushed into the corners with no obvious reason for their orientation, and even a quick glance around the corner is enough to spot a couple of small beds in a bigger nook. There are stains on the tables as if scrolls sat there for ages and then were removed; nothing obviously useful is apparent to a quick glance. It is hardly damp at all up here, so the scrolls might have survived… if they can find where the order mages carted them off to. The walls are painted in flowing, abstract rainbow colors, mostly in curls and more-or-less horizontal lines that look like currents of air.

When people do the rainbow dance from below, climbing the stairs, the tones of their passing are louder up here, though not blastingly loud. Likely, the denizens would get pretty good warning of people approaching this floor from the lower one.

Ducking back down the stairs cuts the lights, and spellcasters wielding a key can try different words for “darkness” in Magespeech, using a sufficiently commanding tone, to get them to turn off.

Inside

The floor continues in a clockwise spiral with furniture in a largely unfathomable arrangement. Though the feather stuffing of the mattresses has long decayed into dust with the periodic preserved stems, the fabrics still retain some shape and color (though one probably wouldn’t want to sleep in them) and the frames are in remarkably good shape. Similarly, all the tables are mostly intact. A good blow could probably shatter the ancient wood, but at least it’s not already rotted into powder. There might be treasure to be found by digging through the furniture (which would probably take about half an hour of careful searching or 15 minutes if the party doesn’t care about destroying these artifacts of an ancient time), but nothing is immediately obvious.

By the inner ring, it’s safe to light candles without fear of the light being visible. The murals of wind continue on the wall’s side that faces outward, but the wall’s side that faces the center of the tower are more pictographic. Done in an archaic style (think Egyptian tomb paintings or Bayeux Tapestry; no perspective), it seems to be pictures of mages performing some kind of ritual, possibly in the light of the oddly shaped windows on the outer wall of this floor.

In the center, a large ritual circle is carved into the floor, with two smaller circles to the north and east. To magic detection, they are inactive, but still potent permanent summoning circles. The easternmost table on the inner ring contains a few hastily hand-bound folios seemingly comprised of pieces of salvaged scrolls, and a note on top in Salome’s handwriting (this one not water damaged to any meaningful extent).

One folio contains a primer that explains the murals on the wall (how to attune to Air), while one contains what seems to be treatises that could be used to learn some air-related spells and rituals (up to 3rd level). Both will take some time to decipher, since they’re in a combination of Ancient Imperial and Magespeech, and would be somewhat alien to modern understanding of magic.

Air Dorms Note

The scrolls here were much better-preserved, but more obviously simply missing. It is likely they were the easiest to flee with. I believe the top floor was what was referred to as the Sky Road. They would use the massive circle to call up air elementals and bind them to service. With the help of the elemental and crude gliding apparati detailed in some of the scrolls, they could safely leap from the bays in the tower and travel great distances by air. I do not believe this was true flight, particularly for the more portly of magi, but they could likely travel miles for every foot they fell, and do so at great speed. A very effective way to get around indeed. This is likely how most of the remaining magi fled.

As with the fire dorms, there were ample primers to assemble a completed copy of instructions of the introductory binding technique to air. Their operative understanding of air was its elasticity, and the cantrip seems to impart a way to draw in the nearby air (possibly depriving those that need it for their breath) and then release it in an explosion of wind. Not as exciting as summoning up fire, but possibly more versatile for everyday uses.

Unlike the fire mages, there seem to be no hidden or locked areas, beyond the annoying puzzle to get to this level. I believe I’ll check below next.

Salome

Of all the cantrips, this one sounds the most useful. I believe I will learn it, and ideally pass it on to others in the Order. It could be incredibly useful for certain problems of mechanical optimization.

As with the previous floor, I will store the more advanced texts in the library room I have cleared below. I don’t know what Salome was thinking, simply leaving such things lying around.

Hieronymus

Air Bonding Cantrip (Int)

Air is elastic and compressible. This cantrip allows the caster to attract nearby air and compress it into a small orb, then release it slowly or explosively. This can starve air from a sealed room, save air for a trip underwater, knock back a target, or propel a projectile.

The caster can only maintain a single orb of air at a time, and doing so makes it impossible to cast new cantrips, spells, or rituals, or maintain any existing effects that require major concentration. The normal application saves enough air to empty a cube five feet on a side, provide eight hours of breathing, force a target to save or be knocked down or back, or provide standard damage to a projectile. The cantrip can be cast and thrown at a target as a single action, but all other actions require the cantrip to be cast on one round and then used for other purposes on the next (e.g., one round to cast and load a firearm, then the next to fire it).

By taking a penalty to the casting roll, the caster may compress more air. For each -3 penalty, the caster empties an additional five-foot cube, which provides an extra eight hours of breath, or +1d6 damage (either from a projectile or if the target of a knockback impacts a wall).

(This cantrip is my answer to not wanting to allow gunpowder in my game, but to allow those that want guns to have a magic-powered equivalent.)

Search

A thorough search of the beds and tables turns up:

  • 39 cp, 173 sp, and 2 gp all of ancient minting, heavily tarnished, mostly crammed into corners under mattresses, but some fallen behind tables
  • A few objects of art carved of stone, mostly white stone and in shapes like birds and butterflies (possibly up to 200 sp for the lot if one could convince a collector of the provenance)
  • A thin, rune-carved stick of approximately a forearm-length in a delicate and slightly spiraling white wood that senses of magic (hidden deep in a mattress that had been cut open to hide it)
  • A castable scroll that had fallen behind a table where the order mages missed it, which seems to be a scroll of the Summoning ritual

Floor U5 (Air Summoning)

Entry

The top floor is completely open, with just corner pillars to hold up the roof. At nighttime, the party might have to shout down the mage lights again, because there aren’t really even walls: there’s a faint distortion in the air that seems to be the tower’s defensive field (and which had let neither bugs nor climbers in for a thousand years), but air flows freely and one can easily see city below.

A massive summoning circle is set into the middle of the floor, and ancient empty tables are haphazardly spread out and empty, save for scraps of leather, softwood, and fabric that might have once been gliders. The mage lights, if not shut off, are on the ceiling, mimicking stars.

This ritual circle makes it very easy to call up air elementals. The walls are permeable walls of force, which permit air to flow both ways and allow people to leave and attack from inside, but block travel from outside.

There is no roof access, though an enterprising climber or flyer could leave and climb to its flat top. There is nothing of note up there (save perhaps some nesting birds), and leaving makes it impossible to get back in without going back down to the bottom of the tower (hopefully there are still friends inside who can lower a rope).

Floor B1 (Cafeteria)

Entry

The first basement is even more humid than the entry floor. It appears to be the dining hall and kitchens. Everything organic and steel has turned to damp dust, and the party can make out the shadows of once-giant tables in the detritus on the floor. It may not have been large enough for everyone from the tower to eat here at once, but certainly in shifts. Side rooms were likely staff dining or meeting rooms, or maybe they had preferred seating for top students? The southeast room has some plumbing and holes in the floor, so may have been a large bathroom (which is convenient to meals but maybe not the most convenient for students on other floors).

Of the large kitchen, all that remains is a stone hearth and island with inset basins for cleaning, as well as shattered shards of pottery plates, mugs, and bowls in the dust off what must have once been cabinets. Searching through the remains, the party can find 75 sp worth of miscellaneous silverware, bent and tarnished. They don’t add up to sets and there’s not a lot of them, so likely someone looted the silver already (either during the flight, or one of the order mages) and this is all that went undiscovered.

In the Northeast dining room, someone managed to assemble a table from scraps and close the doors against the damp. A few decade+ old bags contain food that has long deteriorated and camping supplies that aren’t particular upgrades to the party’s own (and are also beginning to succumb to the damp). This seems to be where one of the order mages set up a command center. A couple of letters in a pack look to have been unsealed, read, and then refolded sufficiently to survive without significant water damage.

(Zacharias is the name of the former court mage of the PCs’ local Baron, who trained one of the wizard PCs and went missing recently. Lazarus and Judith were not previously known to the party, and are a quest hook. These letters likely need to be heavily edited to fit the context/hooks of any given campaign.)

Letters

Salome,

I appreciate the research you sent along regarding the water magics you’ve uncovered in the tower. It does sound like their conception of the uses of water are much closer to what we’d consider the more active uses of abjuration magic. It’s interesting that they saw it as a cleansing, scouring force rather than a source of sustenance. Perhaps they assigned the source of healing and life to the earth, which would track given their rather nonchalant use of necromancy: if you’re used to covering people with earth to heal them, it’s probably less inherently offputting to summon the dead forth from their graves.

Unfortunately, even though I’m now safely ensconced in nearby Heimbach, I do not believe that I can spare the time to help you research physically at the tower. I see a lot of potential in the baron’s second son, and hope to confirm that he has the gift and ease him into training early. As you well know, the children of the nobility can be difficult students if taken after they have a sense of their own importance. In fact, the town itself seems to be a confluence almost as interesting as the tower. We have fae foundlings taken in by the locals, motherless babes delivered to town by close-lipped warriors from the north, a golden-haired child that seems destined for greatness, twin scamps fostered from a storied line of nobles, and whatever secretive plans the old witch in the town has cooked up. I suspect in a decade or two, you may start hearing interesting things from this town.

Feel free to continue to send me correspondence as needed, and you’re, of course, welcome to stop by Heimbach if you’d like in-person counsel. If you have a current address for Lazarus, he could likely assist with the earth magics. I believe Judith retains her long practice of wintering in Grebenau, and her divinations would likely be of great use to you. The next time Magdalena passes through for a… visit… I’ll see if she has any insights. You would also do well to correspond with Hieronymus. He can receive mail via the Zedlitz, from whom he rents a tower. His research into transmutation may be relevant to correspondences between elements, and he’s a shrewd organizer of research.

Yours,

Zacharias

Salome,

Regardless of the fact that you have not yet encountered anything more than passive security in the tower, I must caution you in the strongest of terms not to enter the earth mages’ basement without significant assistance. From what you sent me, their conception of earth is not just a healing, nourishing force, but one of containment. I suspect it’s very likely that if there are any active threats remaining in that building, they will be locked away beneath the earth.

Not once in our association have you ever listened to my advice, but please listen now. I have set up a place in Overath, and am even now assembling a party to investigate the cursed city to the north. Come. Lend your evocations to our mission, and I will then lend you my own expertise and the might of my allies to investigate the tower.

With hopes,

Lazarus

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