Planescape in 5e: Mercurials

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

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

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

Mercurial

Medium celestial, lawful good

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

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
18 (+4) 18 (+4) 18 (+4) 17 (+3) 20 (+5) 20 (+5)

Saving Throws Wis +9, Cha +9

Skills Insight +9, Perception +9

Damage Immunities bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons

Damage Resistances radiant

Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened

Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 19

Languages all, telepathy 120 ft.

Challenge 10 (5900 XP)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Actions

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

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

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

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

Image of monster block

Anti-Lathuraz Items

Cloak of Trapping

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

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

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

Rod of Mercury

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

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

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

Manacles of Lesser Reality

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

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

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

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

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

Sword of Lathuraz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Planescape in 5e: Special Features, Keywords

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  • Bright: This item sheds light at the brightness of a torch (though it is white, unwavering light). If the item would already shed light, its brightness is doubled.
  • Cold: This item remains a pleasant temperature in extreme cold, and will not become brittle or accumulate ice and frost. It doesn’t protect the bearer from the cold, but at least remains usable in a blizzard.
  • Corrosive: This item is resistant to harm from acid or other sources of corrosion, and will likely even remain intact if its bearer is disintegrated.
  • Cutting: This item is resistant to slashing damage (it doesn’t pass the resistance to the bearer, but is very difficult to cut or sunder). If it is a blade, the edge is extremely difficult to dull.
  • Dark: This item is virtually invisible in the darkness, granting advantage to hide it (and advantage to Dexterity (Stealth) checks in the dark if it is a suit of armor or clothing). If you are attuned to the item, you can see it clearly in the dark (even in supernatural darkness).
  • Energetic: This item never builds up a static charge, and tends to be impervious to Lightning damage (causing it to safely flow around the item). If it is armor, a wielded weapon, or other large item, you may add +1d4 to your saving throws to avoid Lightning damage.
  • Hot: This item cannot be damaged or destroyed by anything less than the most extreme heat or fire. It doesn’t pass this immunity on to the bearer, but at least it will survive the firestorm intact. It never becomes uncomfortably warm, including ignoring the effects of heat metal if directed at the item.
  • Invisible: This item 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).
  • Mental: This item is keyed to the wielder’s mental desires. Any powers it possesses that would normally be activated with a word may instead be activated silently. Some may activate when you need them, even if you do not consciously activate them.
  • Penetrating: This item is unusually dense, making it resistant to attempts to rip or puncture it. It is it armor, attacks that would normally bypass it must instead attack normally.
  • Smashing: This item is very sturdy, and resists attempts to crush it or break it through pure force. If it is a container, its contents are twice as likely to survive impacts or falls.
  • Sonic: This item has a flat audio resonance. Unless it is a musical instrument, it makes very little noise when struck, and is immune to Thunder damage.
  • Toxic: This item absorbs poisons. If you use it to aid in harvesting poison, there is no danger of accidentally poisoning yourself. If it is a weapon, any poison applied to it remains viable indefinitely (until it strikes an opponent).
  • Bestial: Unintelligent animals somehow comprehend the usefulness of this item. If you affix it to an animal, it will retain it if reasonable rather than reflexively trying to scrape it off. If the animal has the required dexterity, it may even use it appropriately (e.g., an ape using a weapon in combat).
  • Colorful: This item is an ideal anchor point for visual illusions. Illusions that cannot normally move can be attached to it, moving as you move the item. If deliberately incorporated into the illusion, some parts of it may be static while others move along with the item (e.g., using minor illusion to create an unmoving rock and waving grass).
  • Confining: This item 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.
  • Disjointed: This item 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.
  • Fluid: This item attracts condensation. This means that it is usually slightly damp. But, if left overnight in a watertight container (e.g., a pot or bucket), it generates a day’s worth of drinking water for you in all but the most arid environments.
  • Metallic: This item emits an aura that resonates with nearby metals, causing it to have a tactile hum that changes based on their presence or absence. This grants you advantage on rolls to detect hidden metal objects (e.g., traps, treasure, ore veins, etc.).
  • Motive: This item is sensitive to the intentions of its wielder when it comes to motion. You have advantage on attempts to resist being disarmed of the item. All ranges are doubled when you throw it or use it to launch projectiles.
  • Mystic: This item is easy to understand, mystically, revealing all its powers and abilities through simple inspection during a rest. However, it does not reveal its aura when subjected to detect magic or similar powers from anyone but its wielder. It shines like a beacon to detect magic, however, if it is not currently wielded, eager to be used.
  • Prophetic: This item is more likely than most to be included in prophecies (if only as a significant clue to the identity of the wielder within the prophecy). If you are attuned to it, you may automatically recognize it when it is mentioned in a prophecy or in the histories (including legend lore).
  • Protective: This item’s other defensive powers are likely to be slightly enhanced. Once per day, you may spend Inspiration to take no damage from an attack or effect from a spell that could plausibly harmlessly strike the item instead of you.
  • Restoring: This item makes it easier for the wielder to heal. Once per day, whenever dice are rolled to restore your hit points, you may choose to reroll the lowest die and keep the new result if it is higher.
  • Stonelike: This item resists petrification. It always retains its form, even if its wielder 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.
  • Tempestuous: This item is always surrounded by an aura of clean, breathable air. This can be used by the wielder to survive underwater, in the void, or when in an area where the air is toxic or diseased.
  • Transforming: This item resizes itself to fit a wielder of any size, and automatically transforms into a viable form if the wielder changes shape (which may include simply fading into the transformation if the form is such that the item cannot reasonably be used).
  • Wooden: This item cannot be lost in the midst of floral growth. Even fast-growing plants will grow around it or lift it to the surface of the bloom (rather than encasing it in vines and roots). If it is a weapon, it never becomes stuck when chopping wood or attacking plant creatures.
  • Chaotic: This item is confusing for the ordered mind. A non-chaotic character is subjected to the confusion spell upon attempting to wield or use it (saving throw DC 10 for a Common item, +2 for each rarity, up to DC 18 for a Legendary item); non-lawful characters have advantage on this saving throw. This effect can trigger once per day per character, the first time the character attempts to wield or use the item.
  • Evil: This item whispers dark impulses to the wielder in moments with the capacity for greatest harm. Once per day, the wielder is subjected to the command spell in a moment where a single word action could do the most harm (e.g., “slay,” “attack,” “lie,” etc.). The saving throw DC is 10 for a Common item, +2 for each rarity, up to DC 18 for a Legendary item. Non-good characters are not exempted from this effect, but are more likely to be commanded to do things they wanted to do anyway.
  • Good: This item attempts to prevent the negative emotions that lead to evil. Once per day, whenever the wielder feels or is subjected to a strong negative emotion (e.g., hatred, lust, rage, despair, revulsion, contempt, etc.), the item casts calm emotions on the wielder only. The saving throw DC is 10 for a Common item, +2 for each rarity, up to DC 18 for a Legendary item. Non-evil characters are not exempted from this effect, but likely feel the targeted emotions less often than those with darker impulses.
  • Lawful: This item requires an orderly, ritualized series of steps to wield that are difficult for those of a less rational bent. Upon first wielding the item (and after each long rest while continuing to wield the item), non-lawful characters must make an Intelligence (Arcana or Religion) check, with failure causing the item to act as if it were non-magical for the character until the next attempt (though retaining any magical drawbacks). Non-chaotic characters have advantage on this check. The check DC is 12 for a Common item, +2 for each rarity, up to DC 20 for a Legendary item.

Planescape in 5e: Special Features, Other Planes

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  • Elemental Air: This item is almost invisible, woven of frozen air currents that flicker with subtle mists and electricity. Its weight is negligible, adding no encumbrance, but it might also be blown away in a stiff breeze if not firmly held or stowed. This lightness somehow doesn’t limit its effectiveness as arms or armor. This item also usually has the Tempestuous keyword.
  • Elemental Darkness (Negative): This item is perfectly black, absorbing all light, making it difficult to truly gauge its shape except by feel. Living characters that wield it lose one healing surge after a long rest. The first time you are struck by Radiant damage each day, you act as if you had resistance (as the item absorbs some of the energy). This item also usually has the Dark keyword.
  • Elemental Earth: This item is entirely made from metal, gems, and stone. When set upon the earth (or a stone embedded in the earth) it will not move from its position without great effort (Strength (Athletics) DC 15) unless you choose to pick it up again. This item also usually has the Stonelike keyword.
  • Elemental Fire: This item seems to be made from congealed fire, somehow given permanent physical form. It is always slightly warm, which can be helpful in a dangerously cold environment. This item also usually has the Hot keyword.
  • Elemental Radiance (Positive): This item is perfectly mirrored, reflecting all light that touches it. Undead characters that wield it suffer a point of Radiant damage each minute. Living characters that wield it gain an additional +1 HP for each die of healing they receive. This item also usually has the Bright keyword.
  • Elemental Water: This item seems carved out of ice, though it is only slightly cold. It floats in water as if it was made of wood, unless you are deliberately swimming beneath the surface (in which case, it floats at about your level within the deeps). This item also usually has the Fluid keyword.
  • Paraelemental: This item appears to be a strange hybrid of two materials based on which paraelemental plane produced it. It demonstrates whichever ability is most applicable to the current situation, but likely also suffers some unexpected drawback from the combination of elements.
  • Quasielemental: This item appears to be a brighter or darker version of its core element. It has the powers and drawbacks of items from either realm.
  • Astral: This item seems to be woven through with faint silver threads and, when looked at in the correct state of mind, only the threads seem truly real, the rest merely an illusion strung between them. You retain this item even when having an out-of-body experience, and it may be wielded by or used to strike creatures of pure thought. This item also usually has the Mental keyword.
  • Ethereal: This item seems slightly immaterial, hinting at translucency, its interior a flowing mist. It is able to be used/carried/worn by beings that are incorporeal, and has no difficulty striking them.
  • Ravenloft (Ethereal): This item likely carries a Baroque flair to its design, hinting at a culture with a strangely deep artistic tradition. While wielding this item, if you are about to commit a deeply evil action—or sometimes about to start down that path with something that seems to have good, but flawed, intentions—you can feel the attention of vast powers regarding you with anticipation.
  • Feywild: This item has no ferrous components, and it is made entirely from nigh-eternal materials that resist corrosion and decay. It has resistance against acid damage and other attacks that seek to unmake it with decay.
  • Beyond: This item doesn’t seem to use a standard geometry in its construction, all curves and hints at additional dimensions, made of materials that aren’t quite natural to any known realms. Powers and Proxies of the Great Wheel have a hard time even seeing it, granting advantage on rolls to conceal it from gods, celestials, or fiends.
  • Athas (Dark Sun) (Prime): This item is made without metal, replacing normal metal elements with bone, stone, or crystal. It maintains its magical nature by slowly draining the life from nearby plants, and dangerous plants will usually avoid you while you wield it.
  • Khorvaire (Eberron) (Prime): This item appears too-well-made, as if mass-produced by purpose-built machinery. It may feature subtle mechanisms beyond the technology level of most worlds. It slowly repairs itself if broken, and attempts to speed the process of mending have advantage.
  • Krynn (Dragonlance) (Prime): This item is likely illustrated with symbols of dragons and white, red, and black moons and any components that should be steel are instead iron or other metals. The item seems attuned to tidal forces, making it easy for you to, with some practice, sense the rough time of day and phase of the moon.
  • Oerth (Greyhawk) (Prime): This item seems like a real classic, well-but-simply made out of durable materials that keep their shine and luster. If used conspicuously in your adventures, it quickly finds itself becoming a significant element in your personal legend and may gradually accrue heroic powers from this acclaim.
  • Toril (Forgotten Realms) (Prime): This item appears to be an exemplar of its form, as if an illustration of the item was brought to life. Having lived through multiple magical upheavals, this item continues to have its same abilities even on planes with unusual rules for magic.

Planescape in 5e: Special Features, Outer Planes

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Items tend to have special features, one per keyword, when they do not have an actual special power for that keyword. These replace or supplement the special features starting on page 141 of the DMG. The features may not function when on a plane without the associated keyword, at the GM’s option.

  • Abyss (C E): This item’s edges are essentially fractal, infinitely complex the closer you look. It tends to buzz angrily in the presence of lawful Proxies, particularly devils. This item also usually has the Chaotic and Evil keywords.
  • Acheron (L E/N): This item’s appearance is geometric, likely divided into squares and cubes. It is surprisingly easy to carry on campaign, generating half the encumbrance its weight would otherwise specify. This item also usually has the Lawful keyword.
  • Arborea (C G): This item is made of bronze, brass, and natural materials that have not been heavily worked, and it is slightly larger than other examples of its kind. If lost, it will eventually find its way back to you if you have used it for great deeds. This item also usually has the Chaotic and Good keywords.
  • Arcadia (L G/N): This item is a statistically average (though high-quality) example of its form, not exceeding normal tolerances for dimensions or using flashy patterns. It resists being hidden by illusion, always looking like itself no matter the magical disguise, and it remains stubbornly visible even if you are invisible. This item also usually has the Lawful keyword.
  • Baator (Hell) (L E): This item is black and red in color, made of materials that naturally have these colors. It cannot be stolen from its owner, whether by dexterity or legal trickery. As long as you live, you must drop it through true accident or deliberately transfer ownership to lose it. This item also usually has the Lawful and Evil keywords.
  • Beastlands (N/C G): This item is made as much as possible of ostentatious furred leathers. While you carry it, animals are likely to treat you as an apex predator and avoid you or cower before you unless desperate or compelled. This item also usually has the Good keyword.
  • Bytopia (L/N G): This item is well-made and perfectly, perhaps ostentatiously, symmetrical, likely including patterns that are hard to mirror properly by inexperienced craftsmen. Damage that does not extend to both halves of the item will slowly fade as it returns to quality and symmetry. This item also usually has the Good keyword.
  • Carceri (C/N E): This item seems hastily created by repurposing some other item, filing it down and potentially affixing it to an unrelated object. You have advantage on checks to keep the item hidden. This item also usually has the Evil keyword.
  • Elysium (N G): This item has a nautical theme, likely incorporating motifs and materials used for sailing or found near the sea. When you are on a quest to accomplish a good deed, you and your allies travel to your destination 10% faster than you otherwise would. This item also usually has the Good keyword.
  • Gehenna (L/N E): This item’s hard surfaces are made of igneous rock and sharp, black obsidian, while its softer materials seem suffused with ash and soot that never cleans out but blackens the hands of wielders. If you present it, you gain advantage on Charisma checks to convince fiends to leave you alone, as it serves as a token of neutrality in the Blood War. This item also usually has the Evil keyword.
  • Gray Waste (N E): This item is dull gray in appearance, as if all its natural colors have washed out. You have advantage on saving throws to resist effects that try to cause emotions (including Charmed and Frightened), but you also have trouble feeling natural emotions while wielding the item. This item also usually has the Evil keyword.
  • Limbo (C N): This item never looks exactly the same twice, slowly flickering between examples of its form when no one is looking. If you suffer a Wild Magic Surge while wielding it, you may choose to flip the 10s and 1s digits to get a different result on the chart. If you are attuned, you may make a Charisma saving throw (DC 15) to call the item to your hand from anywhere within the same plane. This item also usually has the Chaotic keyword.
  • Mechanus (L N): This item appears to be a complicated mechanism that has been disconnected from its original machinery and frozen in its current function. Modrons may be able to incorporate it into their own bodies, and skilled mechanics might be able to unlock additional functions. This item also usually has the Lawful keyword.
  • Mount Celestia (L G): This item’s metals are silver and gold, while its other components are brightly colored. When wielded by someone Chaotic and/or Evil, its colors fade, but they shine brightly, giving off a faint but cheery light if you are Lawful Good. Those that can confirm the item’s provenance know that there is no way to fool its assessment of your morality. This item also usually has the Lawful and Good keywords.
  • Outlands (N N): This item 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; you gain a point of Inspiration when you enter an anti-magic area.
  • Pandemonium (C E/N): This item’s dimensions don’t quite add up, creating an unease in the viewer that only increases if it is carefully examined. Screaming faces sometimes appear in the material out of the corner of the viewer’s eye. 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. This item also usually has the Chaotic keyword.
  • Ysgard (C G/N): This item is etched or woven with numerous runes speaking of its history and abilities, and it likely features rich-hued wood cut from the world tree in its construction. It takes you one minute less than normal to cast a Ritual when wielding the item. As a free action you may willingly take a point of damage (e.g., to prolong a Rage). This item also usually has the Chaotic keyword.
  • Sigil (Outlands): This item seems to have a slight tarnish or patina no matter how much you try to make it shine. If it is the key for a portal or gate, it will vibrate noticeably when brought within a few feet of the bounds of the doorway (as a warning you’re about to travel unexpectedly, or clue to where the doorway is).

Planescape in 5e: Resonance Keywords

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This is an alternate way to capture the idea of magic items changing from plane to plane without simply tracing a path to the home plane and reducing the item’s bonus. I always liked the idea of magic items varying away from home, but the implementation was a lot of math for no real benefit to the player.

Each plane (or distinct realm within a plane) has a collection of up to half a dozen keywords. Magic items created in that location tend to acquire the same set of keywords. Additionally, spells have at least one keyword that is salient to the spell’s effect. Some special abilities may have similar resonance to equivalent spells.

Magic items may have special powers that are only active when in a plane/realm with matching keywords, or may just be more generally effective when more of the keywords match. This might be a specific ability mapped to a given keyword, or may be that certain powers are only active when specific keywords are active.

Spells are generally treated as being cast at +1 slot level if they have at least one matching keyword with the local plane/realm (e.g., fireball is always cast as at least a 4th level spell in a Hot realm).

Some spells or other magical effects may temporarily apply a keyword to a local area (e.g., the darkness spell might create the Dark keyword within its area).

Keywords

In addition to the keywords below, each plane is its own keyword name.

Energy

  • Bright (Radiant, Light, Sun)
  • Cold (Cold, Ice, slowing effects, winter)
  • Corrosive (Acid, disintegration)
  • Cutting (Slashing, effects that cause DoT)
  • Dark (Necrotic, Darkness, Night)
  • Energetic (Lightning, energy buffs)
  • Hot (Fire, heating effects, summer)
  • Invisible (Force, Invisibility)
  • Mental (Psychic, Mind-Affecting, Telepathic)
  • Penetrating (Piercing, effects that bypass defenses)
  • Smashing (Bludgeoning, effects that destroy objects)
  • Sonic (Thunder, sound illusions, silence)
  • Toxic (Poison, physical debuffs)

Misc

  • Bestial (Animal effects)
  • Colorful (Color effects, visual illusions)
  • Confining (restrictive/paralyzing effects)
  • Disjointed (teleportation effects)
  • Fluid (Water-related effects)
  • Metallic (Metal conjurations/transmutations)
  • Motive (Imbuing motion to things)
  • Mystic (meta-magical effects like anti-magic, detection, etc.)
  • Prophetic (many divinations)
  • Protective (defensive effects)
  • Restoring (Healing effects, restorations)
  • Stonelike (Stone/earth conjurations/transmutations)
  • Tempestuous (Air and storm-related effects)
  • Transforming (Physical transmutations)
  • Wooden (Wood/plant conjurations/transmutations)

Alignment

  • Chaotic
  • Evil (includes Evil spells like animating dead)
  • Good
  • Lawful

Known Realms

  • Sigil: Outlands, Confining, Cutting, Dark, Disjointed, Metallic

Example Item Resonance

  • Bag of Holding: If all keywords are matched, the bag only weighs 5 pounds. Each keyword not matched increases the weight by 5 pounds (up to 35 pounds in realms that don’t match at all).
  • Folding Boat: If no keywords are matched, this item cannot change from its current configuration. If two or more keywords are matched, it can become a small boat (or return to its collapsed configuration). Only if four or more keywords are matched can it expand into its vessel configuration.
  • Goggles of Night: The goggles grant Darkvision with a range of 30 feet plus 10 feet per matched keyword (e.g., up to 90 feet when six keywords are matched).
  • Immovable Rod: The rod can hold up to 6000 pounds of weight plus 1000 per matched keyword. The Strength check to move it is DC 26, +2 for each matched keyword.
  • Potion of Climbing (and others with a normal 1 hour duration): The potion lasts for 30 minutes, plus 10 minutes for each matched keyword.
  • Potion of Healing (and improved versions): The flat add of basic points of healing is equal to the number of keywords matched (e.g., heals 2d4+3 with three matched). This is multiplied for the improved potions (x2 for greater, x4 for superior, x10 for supreme).
  • Ring of Swimming: You have a swimming speed equal to 30 feet plus 5 feet per matched keyword (e.g., 60 feet with six matched keywords).
  • Weapon +1: This item retains its +1 bonus no matter how many keywords are matched. However, any special abilities may come and go based on the resonance.

Serial Numbers Filed Off: Will Working

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Minor Artifact: Ring of the Beacon

Aura strong evocation; CL 20th

Slot ring; Weight

Description

The Beacon is one of Sigil’s oldest and most reclusive factions. Their leadership is a closely guarded secret, and their membership is highly limited. They have but one ethos: prime material planes should remain free of exploitation by planar travelers until they have developed their own spellcasters that can join the multiverse voluntarily. To that end, developing realities each have one of their members of strong moral fiber offered membership in the faction. Those that accept gain possession of one of these rings and the mandate to defend his or her plane from interlopers. Only the owner of the ring can wield its powers. Upon the death of the owner, the ring will attempt to seek out another worthy bearer; failing that, it attempts to Plane Shift back to the Beacon stronghold in the Outlands.

This ring functions as a Ring of Protection +5. Additionally, it has the following abilities:

  • The bearer can activate or deactivate Fly at will as a spell-like ability (with an unlimited duration and a caster level equal to character level)
  • The bearer can cast Plane Shift 1/day (CL equal to character level). If in any plane other than the Outlands, this power automatically goes to the Beacon stronghold. If in the Outlands, the power automatically goes to a place of the bearer’s choice on his or her home plane.
  • The bearer is immediately aware of any planar intrusion on his or her home plane, and can identify the spell cast and the approximate location (to within 100 miles divided by spell level).
  • The ring functions as a staff (with 10 charges). Unlike a normal staff, the ring regains one charge per day and can regain charges faster if the bearer has access to a charging device provided by the faction. Also unlike a staff, the bearer must succeed at a Will save to successfully activate the spell (failure consumes the charges with no result). All spells appear as colored light that matches the color of the ring. The spells available to the bearer are:
    • Light (0 charges, DC 10)
    • Shield (1 charge, DC 11)
    • Mage Armor (1 charge, DC 12)
    • Scorching Ray (2 charges, DC 13)
    • Dispel Magic (2 charges, DC 14)
    • Dimensional Anchor (2 charges, DC 15)
    • Lesser Globe of Invulnerability (3 charges, DC 16)
    • Dismissal (3 charges, DC 17)
    • Interposing Hand (3 charges, DC 18)
    • Wall of Force (4 charges, DC 19)
    • Telekinesis (4 charges, DC 20)
    • Shadow Evocation (4 charges, DC 21)
    • Greater Dispel Magic ( 5 charges, DC 22)
    • Globe of Invulnerability (5 charges, DC 23)
    • Forceful Hand (5 charges, DC 24)
    • Banishment (6 charges, DC 25)
    • Grasping Hand (6 charges, DC 26)
    • Forcecage (6 charges, DC 27)
    • Clenched Fist (7 charges, DC 28)
    • Telekinetic Sphere (7 charges, DC 29)
    • Crushing Hand (7 charges, DC 30)

 

Serial Numbers Filed Off 4: Gates

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Originally posted April 2008

Planescape: Ascending Primes

The greatest of the Sensates have begun to hear a new noise, a ripple from the fabric of creation. The greatest of the Fated have deciphered it, revealing a ritual of great power. The greatest of the Athar are certain that it’s a ritual to contact the true gods beyond the Powers.

The Powers are silent on the issue, strangely so. The streets of Sigil must be inked with the runes of the spell, turning the city of doors into one single gate. Standing at the center of the Outlands, where no magic should function, the ritual will send a single seeker through the torus of Sigil and into the unknown.

Assuming you can even gather all the materials needed for the ritual, how do you get a city full of factions, much less the Lady, to let you enact such a working? And what will you find beyond?

Fading Suns: The Fading of Men

Three Keys for the noble-kings under the sky,
Seven for the church-lords in their naves of stone,
Nine for guilded men doomed to die,
One for the builder on his dark throne,
In the gates of Sathra where the shadows lie.
One Key to rule them all, One Key to find them,
One Key to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them,
In the gates of Sathra where the shadows lie.
— From the Eskatonic Scriptures

Many have forgotten the sad affair of the Keys, which hastened the fall of the Second Republic. A brilliant pilot and engineer, it was said, discovered twenty philosophers stones in an ancient cache, and worked out how to turn them into universal jumpkeys with the help of human and Ur tech. They could open any jumpgate, no matter to where, no matter if it was locked, no matter if it was in the middle of reset. Some say they had other abilities built in, too: not the least of which was the power to adjust the Sathra dampers and jump engine of a ship to render it effectively invisible to all sensors.

Such power is dangerous enough alone, and great battles broke out over the upset balance of power. Then the builder revealed his master stroke: the one key he had kept for himself was bound to the others, and he could monitor them and selectively control their access to extort obedience from their owners. Eventually war was made upon him and his allies, and his ship was destroyed, the Key seized by a great leader, one of Alexius’ ancestors. He never made it home, and the One Key was lost to the jumplanes.

Now the Key has been found by unlikely travelers. And the Builder is somehow moving once again: the church elders say that the manipulation of the Sathra field by the Keys left him and others open to the demons between the stars, bound by the gates. His consciousness seems stretched across the gates, and the lesser Keys, seeking to bend men to another war and to open the gates to the dark between the stars.

The only way to stop him is to return the One Key to the Ur ruins from which it came, and hope that the ancient tech is enough to purge his consciousness from the jumpweb. But the ruins exist deep in lost space, and the Builder’s old allies are even now marshaling there for a great assault on the known worlds.

Pray that men have not faded with the suns, for their greatest strength is needed today.