Magic Item of the Month: Frightful Mask

Each month, we’ll give you a new magic item to use in your 5e game. This month, we give you the frightful mask.

 

Frightful Mask
Wondrous Item, uncommon (requires attunement)

This mask has three charges. When you are wearing it, you can use an action to expend 1 charge to cast fear (save DC 15). The mask regains 1d3 expended charges daily at midnight.

Also, when you are wearing the mask, you have advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks and disadvantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks.

Monster of the Month: Blade Demon

Each month, we’ll give you a new monster to use in your 5e game. This month, we give you the Blade Demon. You can download the description and stat block of the blade demon here.

Blade Demon

Blade demons are vicious, insectoid-like demons whose six limbs all end in razor sharp blades. Blade demons scuttle around on these scythe-like limbs, but when it comes time to fight, they are surprisingly good at balancing on their two back ‘legs’, allowing them to attack with four of their bladed ‘arms’ all at once.

Bladelust.

There is an old dwarven expression: “If yer only tool be a hammer, then ye’ll be treatin’ everythin’ like a nail.” Well, a blade demon’s only tools are its bladed limbs, and so it treats everything as something to be sliced. People, animals, trees, and even other demons – the blade demon interacts with everyone and everything in the same way: trying to slash it to bits.

Swaths of Destruction.

Blade demons scuttle about like insects on their six scythe-like limbs. This movement leaves a trail of slashes and cuts wherever the blade demon goes; their blades are strong and sharp enough even to leave cut marks in stone. This makes blade demons very easy to track – Wisdom (Survival) checks made to track a blade demon have advantage. However, one would have to be mad or very, very desperate to want to track down a blade demon.


Blade Demon

Medium fiend, chaotic evil

Armor Class 15 (natural armor)

Hit Points 44 (6d8 + 8)

Speed 40 ft.


STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
10 (+0) 16 (+3) 14 (+2) 11 (+0) 12 (+1) 10 (+0)

Saving Throws Dex +5

Skills Acrobatics +5

Damage Resistances cold, fire, lightning; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from non-magical weapons

Damage Immunities poison

Condition Immunities poisoned

Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 11

Languages Abyssal, Common

Challenge 3 (700 XP)


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

Actions

Multiattack. The demon makes four attacks with its bladed arms.

Bladed Arm. Melee Weapon Attack. +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6 + 3) slashing damage.


Variant: Demon Summoning

If you are using the Demon Summoning variant from p.54 of the Monster Manual, you can give the blade demon the Summon Demon (1/Day) action option.

A blade demon has a 30 percent chance of summoning one blade demon.

Sorcerous Origin: Fey Bloodline

Legends and literature are filled with powerful magic users whose magic comes from their fey heritage or a direct connection to the Feywild. These sorcerers, or more often, sorceresses, are mysterious, beguiling, and charming beings that use their magics for good or for their own capricious desires.

This subclass for the sorcerer lets you play such a character, whose innate magic comes from the blood of the fey that runs through your veins. One or more of your ancestors came from the Feywild, a realm of wonder and magic. Elves and gnomes are obvious carriers of the fey bloodline, but even members of other races might have a distant fey ancestor whose magic has reappeared after unnumbered generations. Or, perhaps your own blood has become infused with the magic of the Feywild after spending an extended period of time there yourself, having accidentally stumbled through one of the hidden and fickle doorways to this plane.

The Sorcerous Origin: Fey Bloodline supplement can be downloaded from the DMs Guild here.

Magic Item of the Month: Dowsing Rod

Each month, we’ll give you a new magic item to use in your 5e game. This month, we give you the dowsing rod.

Dowsing Rod
Rod, uncommon (requires attunement by a spellcaster)

This rod has 7 charges. While holding it, you can use an action to expend 1 or more of its charges to cast one of the following spells from it: detect magic (1 charge), find traps (2 charges), or locate object (2 charges).

The rod regains 1d6 + 1 expended charges every day at dawn. If you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the rod splits down the middle and is destroyed.

Monster of the Month: Angler Devil

Each month, we’ll give you a new monster to use in your 5e game. This month, we give you the Angler Devil. You can download the description and stat block of the angler devil here.

Angler Devil (Pel’agryth)

Angler devils are loathsome fiends that live deep beneath the frozen surface of the oceans of Stygia, the fifth layer of the Nine Hells.

Angler devils resemble terrible piscine horrors, with bulging eyes, a gaping maw, gangly arms and stubby legs. Suspended from the top of their head is a lure that glows with an eerie, diabolical light.

Tempters of the Deep.

When they find themselves on the Material Plane, angler devils roam the ocean looking for desperate souls, most commonly victims of shipwrecks. They offer these mortals a safe return to land, but at a terrible price.

Angler devils that are feeling particularly malicious will find a ship at night and enchant the night watchmen with their magical lures. These sailors will walk right off the edge of their ship towards the glowing light bobbing in the waves. By the time they come to their senses, their ship is long gone.


Angler Devil

Medium fiend, Lawful evil

Armor Class 16 (natural armor)

Hit Points 91 (14d8 + 28)

Speed 20 ft., swim 60 ft.


STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
18 (+4) 16 (+3) 14 (+2) 14 (+2) 12 (+1) 16 (+3)

Saving Throws Str +7, Con +5, Cha +6

Skills Deception +6, Insight +4, Perception +4

Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from non-magical weapons that aren’t silvered

Damage Immunities cold, fire, poison

Condition Immunities poisoned

Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 14

Languages Infernal, telepathy 120 ft.

Challenge 6 (2,300 xp)


Devil’s Sight. Magical darkness doesn’t impede the devil’s darkvision.

Lure of the Deep. When a creature starts its turn within 60 feet of the angler devil and the two of them can see each other, the angler devil can force the creature to make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw if the angler devil isn’t incapacitated. On a failed saving throw, the creature is charmed and must move its speed towards the angler devil. On a success, the creature is not charmed, but is still susceptible to the lure on its next turn if it does not avert its eyes.

A creature that isn’t surprised can avert its eyes to avoid the saving throw at the start of its turn. If it does so, it can’t see the angler devil until the start of its next turn, when it can avert its eyes again. If it looks at the angler devil in the meantime, it must immediately make the save.

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

Actions

Multiattack. The devil makes three attacks: two with its claws, one with its bite.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack. +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6 + 4) slashing damage.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack. +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) piercing damage.


Variant: Devil Summoning

If you are using the Devil Summoning variant from p.68 of the Monster Manual, you can give the angler devil the Summon Devil (1/Day) action option.

     An angler devil has a 30 percent chance of summoning one angler devil.

Infernal Hierarchy

The angler devil is considered a lesser devil. On the hierarchy of the Nine Hells, an angler devil is above a barbed devil but below a chain devil.

Monster of the Month: Magnetite Golem

Each month, we’ll give you a new monster to use in your 5e game. This month, we give you the Magnetite Golem. You can download the description and stat block of the magnetite golem here.

Magnetite Golem

Most golems are made out of common and readily available materials, such as iron, stone, clay, or, in particularly grisly circumstances, flesh. A few golemsmiths, however, decide to utilize more exotic materials to make golems with unique abilities. One such exotic golem is the magnetite golem.

A magnetite golem usually is built in a humanoid form, with a wide body made out of metallic dark grey mineral stone. This form is often reinforced with wrought iron or steel plates, resembling rudimentary armor.

Walking Magnets

Magnetite golems are constructed of naturally magnetic iron ore known as magnetite to sages or lodestone to the common-folk. A magnetic field surrounds the golem, pulling objects made of ferrous metal towards it, granting the golem potent combat abilities against users of iron and steel.

Ferrous Metals

Only certain kinds of metals are attracted to a magnetite golem. The two most common are iron and steel.

Thankfully for the people who set magnetite golems to guard their treasure, the metals used to make standard coins (copper, silver, electrum, gold, and platinum) are not affected by the golem’s magnetism.

As a DM, you might have to rule on whether special materials such as mithral or adamantine are attracted by magnets. You may also decide that some spells, such as blade barrier, interact with magnetism in interesting ways. Your players might argue. Good luck with that.

Particular Guardians

The magnetite golem is an ideal ward against a raiding adventuring party. Its resistance to magical attack as well as the unique way with which it can fight heavily armored melee fighters make it adept at handling most of the threats an adventuring party might present.

The only downside of the magnetite golem is that it is not a good choice to guard anything that is made out of iron or steel, for obvious reasons.

Collectors

The magnetite golem’s body can collect accidental trophies from a battle won that were left clinging to the golem’s body at the end of the fight. After many battles, a magnetite golem can accumulate weapons, shields, and scraps of armor covering their form. These magnetite golems are called collectors.


Magnetite Golem

Large construct, unaligned

Armor Class 18 (natural armor)

Hit Points 189 (18d10 + 90)

Speed 30 ft.


STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
22 (+6) 9 (-1) 20 (+5) 3 (-4) 11 (+0) 1 (-5)

Damage Immunities electricity, poison, psychic; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons that aren’t adamantine

Condition Immunities charmed, exhausted, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned

Senses darkvision 120 ft., ironsight (see below), passive Perception 10

Languages understands the languages of its creator but can’t speak

Challenge 12 (8,400 XP)


Electromagnetism. Whenever the golem is subjected to electricity damage, it takes no damage. Additionally, any creature that makes a Strength check or a Strength saving throw against the golem’s magnetism have disadvantage until the end of the golem’s next turn.

Fire Demagnetization. If the golem takes fire damage, its magnetism does not function until the start of its next turn.

Immutable Form. The golem is immune to any spell or effect that would alter its form.

Ironsight. Magnetite golems can sense all ferrous metals within 120 ft. A creature wearing metal armor, wielding a metal weapon, or otherwise carrying a large amount of iron cannot hide, through natural or magical means, from the magnetite golem.

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

Magic Weapons. The golem’s weapon attacks are magical.

Magnetism. The golem attracts nearby ferrous metal. Weapon attacks against the golem made with ferrous metal weapons or ammunition have advantage, and the golem’s weapon attacks against creatures in metal armor or holding a metal shield have advantage. However, when a creature hits the golem with a melee weapon attack using a metal weapon, the attacker must make a DC 18 Strength saving throw or be disarmed. The weapon then sticks to the golem, requiring a DC 18 Strength check to remove. Additionally, any creature wearing metal armor or holding a metal shield that starts its turn within 30 ft. of the golem must make a DC 18 Strength saving throw or be pulled 10 ft. towards the golem. Any creature wearing metal armor or holding a metal shield that end their turn within 5 ft. of the golem are restrained. As an action, a restrained creature can make a DC 18 Strength check, escaping (for that round) on a success.

Actions

Multiattack. The golem makes two slam attacks.

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack. +11 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 19 (3d8 + 6) bludgeoning damage.

Magnetic Pull. The golem targets a creature wearing metal armor or holding a metal shield within 60 ft. That creature must make a DC 18 Strength saving throw or be pulled 30 ft. towards the golem.

Magnetic Disarm. The golem targets a creature holding a metal object, such as a weapon, within 30 ft. That creature must make a DC 18 Strength saving throw be disarmed. The object flies to the golem and attaches to its body. The weapon then sticks to the golem, requiring a DC 18 Strength check to remove.


Variant: Magnetite Golem Collectors

A magnetite golem collector has a challenge rating of 13 (10,000 XP). It has Armor Class 20, Speed 20 ft., and Dexterity 7 (-2). It also has the following traits.

Metal Shards. Any creature that starts its turn adjacent to the magnetite golem collector takes 1d6 slashing and 1d6 piercing damage.

In place of the magnetite golem’s slam attack, the magnetite golem collector has the following attack.

Jagged Slam. Melee Weapon Attack. +11 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 19 (3d8 + 6) bludgeoning damage plus 3 (1d6) slashing damage plus 3 (1d6) piercing damage.

 

Magic Item of the Month: Arrows of Teleportation

Each month, we’ll give you a new magic item to use in your 5e game. This month, we give you the arrows of teleportation.

Arrows of Teleportation
Weapon (arrow or crossbow bolt), rare

This magical ammunition always comes in a set of two. On a hit, the first arrow of the pair embeds itself in the target. If within 1 minute the second arrow strikes another creature, an object, or a surface, the target struck by the first arrow teleports adjacent to the second target (no save). Creatures or objects of Gargantuan size cannot be teleported by the arrows of teleportation.In addition to the teleportation effect, the arrows deal damage as normal.

If the first attack misses its intended target, the DM will decide whether the arrow still strikes an eligible target. If the second arrow misses, the DM decides where it lands. Because the second arrow need only strike a surface, the teleportation effect occurs whether the second attack hits or misses the intended target.

If both attacks are successful and the target is teleported, both arrows are consumed and disappear. If the first arrow does not hit an eligible target, 1 minute later this arrow teleports back to be adjacent to its partner arrow, so the arrows of teleportation can never be lost, only used or destroyed. If the first arrow hits an eligible target, but the second arrow is never used, or if one of the arrows is broken, both arrows disappear. 

There also exist bolts of teleportation, that have the the same enchantment as arrows of teleportation but are fired from crossbows.

5e Adventure: The Shrine of the Nameless One

The Shrine of the Nameless One is a short adventure for four 5th-6th level characters.

A librarian has gone missing. This adventure leads the party into a dark forest in search of the missing librarian. Along the way they will encounter goblins and other dangers of the forest, and finally face the true threat: a cult devoted to a cryptic and malevolent entity of destruction, known only as ‘The Nameless One.’ The cult seeks to use the secret lore of the kidnapped librarianto help them summon their dark master. It is up to the party to put an end to the cult’s evil plot.

The Shrine of the Nameless One can be downloaded from the DMs Guild here.

Racial Weapons

The 5e Player’s Handbook offers a standard selection of weaponry options drawn from historical (human) cultures. The weapons presented in this supplement have been designed to be used by the cultures of the non-human races of the Player’s Handbook, including:

  • Dragonborn Shieldblade
  • Dwarven Longaxe
  • Gnomish Repeating Crossbow
  • Halfling Skipstones
  • Elven Bladed Bow
  • Orc Double-Axe
  • Tiefling Chainsword

These weapons are more exotic than typical weapons. They have special rules for proficiency and combat, which are also outlined in this supplement.

The Racial Weapons supplement can be downloaded from the DMs Guild here.

‘Organic’ Character Creation

Character creation is the first and (I think) most important step in any roleplaying game. As DM, I can craft the most elaborate story arc filled with exciting encounters, interesting NPCs, and challenging puzzles, but if the player’s characters are complete duds, the adventure will fall flat. The choice of race, abilities, class, and so forth allow the player to create exactly the sort of character they wish to play.

But that’s really how life really works, is it? We don’t get to choose our abilities. Instead, our talents are largely determined by a combination of genetics (‘nature’) and upbringing (‘nurture’). Some people are intelligent or strong or charismatic or quick. Starting out, no one is good at everything, but that’s okay, because everyone is good at something.

People can improve themselves –– they can work out, or study hard, or practice public speaking. These activities are like Ability Score Improvements as we level up. But in the beginning, we all have things that we are good at, and things that we are bad at, and part of the challenge of life is figuring out which is which so that we can make the most of our inherent talents.

For my most recently begun campaign, my players and I decided to do something bold. We would try to make characters organically, like in real life, by randomly determining races and then randomly rolling for abilities in order, so that the players had no control over what their characters would excel in. The goal was to simulate what it would be like to be a character born with certain gods-given traits, and they would have to do the best they could with what they’ve got. All decisions after this (class, skills, etc.) would then be up to the players to choose, since these decisions are similar to choices we can make in real life. I was hoping that this would encourage interesting character and role-playing choices.

Here are the steps in the process that my players went through to make their organic characters.

Step 1: Races

I had the characters roll a d100 and matched the results to a random race table. One thing you can use is the race table from the reincarnate spell to determine their character’s race. Now, since the publication of the 5e Player’s Handbook in 2014, there have been many new races introduced –– in the Elemental Evil Player’s Companion, in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, and most recently in Volo’s Guide to Monsters, not including unofficial races published in the “Unearthed Arcana” article series or on the Dungeon Master’s Guild.

As DM, feel free to make your own table of random races. For my campaign, I supplemented the races in the official sources with some from the “Unearthed Arcana” series that reflected what races could be found in my own campaign setting. You may decide that you also want to build a new table for the reincarnate spell, to reflect the racial makeup of your campaign setting (but advice on how to do this will have to wait for a future blog post). If you don’t want to go through the trouble, the race table in the Reincarnate spell is a good place to start.

Step 2: Abilities

This is a variation on the standard method for rolling abilities as presented in the Player’s Handbook or Basic Rules Set and familiar to anyone who has rolled for ability scores in previous editions. The player rolls 4d6 and adds together the three highest values; however, they then have to place the results into their abilities in the order that they are rolled. The first roll has to go into Strength, the second into Dexterity, the third into Constitution, and so on down the line. If you are feeling generous, as I was, allow the player to make one extra roll, and let them replace any one roll that they choose with the bonus roll (since rolling ability scores often produces potentially lethal ability scores). Then, add the appropriate racial modifiers, and you have the character’s organically generated ability scores.

Variant: Balanced Abilities

Rolling ability scores instead of using the standard array always opens the possibility that one player has a character with significantly better scores than another player. This might not matter to your group, but I have had some players over the years that would be upset by a character lagging behind their fellow party members in power level. Since Dungeons & Dragons is a game and should be fun for everyone, consider the following variant.

Still have the player roll and assign ability scores in order. But then calculate the point value of the resulting abilities as if you were using the point-buy variant offered in the Player’s Handbook. If a character’s ability point values add up to less than 27 points, then the player can increase, but not decrease, any abilities they choose, until they get the equivalent of 27 points. Likewise, if a character’s ability point values add up to more than 27 points, they have to decease, but can’t increase, any of their abilities until they get down to a 27 point value. If they rolled above a 16 or above for any ability, they must reduce this ability to 15, since this is the highest value allowed in the point buy system.

This variant then allows for a party of characters of roughly equal power, but still provides the challenge and uniqueness of organically made characters.

Outcome

One thing that I like about this process is that it might create some interesting character possibilities. Not many players might make a dwarven bard, but if they find themselves with a hill dwarf with 17 Charisma, suddenly that’s a pretty good option. Also, if you have players that consistently play the same type of character, this is a way to get them to get outside their comfort zone and maybe find some new classes or races they like.

Of course, making your characters randomly like this can also have disastrous results. A character might have 18 Strength, but with 8 Constitution, they will not last long in melee combat. You should view this as a challenge for the character and the player: can they adapt? Flawed characters are often the most interesting characters.

These character creation rules also have the potential to result in a lack of party diversity. You might have a party where everyone has Strength as their highest ability. In my campaign, no player got above-average Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma scores, so we are woefully without spellcasters of any kind. This doesn’t make the campaign any less fun, although I have needed to drop more potions of healing into treasures than I would have if there had been a party cleric. As the DM, you can adjust your adventure to fit the party.

Because of these challenges, you should definitely talk to your group before implementing these rules. Some players might not be happy about relinquishing a lot of their control over character creation. But this method can be a fun way to add a little bit of excitement and chaos into the game, and it has a unique potential for your game if you tend to focus on character development, flaws, and growth as