Monthly Archives: April 2016

A few little fate hacks

I like Fate accelerated edition very very much (and therefore I love this ridiculous curtailed version even more!). Unfortunately, I don’t love how “samey” the lack of structure makes FAE.

Quick primer on what’s already out there: Your character has 6 stats called approaches (forceful, quick, clever, sneaky, careful, flashy). Maybe they’re phrased as adverbs, I’m too lazy to check. They also have the standard fate aspects, and stunts, and stress tracks, and fate point pool.

There’s this well documented problem where your sneaky +3 thief needs to get through a locked door so they bash it down (or over a wall, so they sneakily vault it…). It kind of sucks. You’re supposed to fix it by staying immured in the fiction, but frankly I don’t love it: because there’s no structure there, there’s no actual ability to expose graduations. Things can make other things impossible, but not harder, not without engaging in the fate point economy (so “a slight incline” and “a steep incline” both do the same thing).

The fate point economy? That gives me an idea halfway between that tinyFate and honest-to-gosh FAE! The insight: FAE boils everything down to 6 descriptors. You should provide a reason for the player to want to mediate how frequently they pull from those 6 descriptors. Adding a flat number doesn’t do that. The fate point economy does. So:

 

 

A character has 3 “pools”, cribbed from Clinton R Nixon’s The Shadow of Yesterday. You could have more, but I think it would just get silly trying to track things that finely. Anyway, the pools are:

  • Vigor: Toughness, strength, physicality, stubbornness.
  • Instinct: Reflexes, senses, raw charisma, intuition.
  • Reason: Education, technique, practice, secrets.

For a starting character, let’s say each pool starts at 2 and then you can distribute 3 more points between them (so 5,2,2 or 4,3,2 or 3,3,3 are each legal).

You get your standard 3 FAE aspects and your standard 3 FAE stunts.

Dicing: Players roll dice; DM’s set difficulties. Roll 2d6 take the lower. It’s what I do for fate and fatelike systems, has a nice curve to it. By default, Fate lets you succeed 61.73% of the time at +0 (http://anydice.com/program/a8) so we should probably match that; a player succeeds on a 2 or better on these rolls (69.44% of the time, http://anydice.com/program/2eec).

For things you should be good at (I have aspects that help! Etc!), you can spend points from your pools to tag aspects (or use free tags on aspects placed into the scene). The rub is that you can only spend aspects from the pool associated with the type of action (in the same loose association we were supposed to use for determining approaches), and that we keep things honest by saying that on a given action, you can only spend points from one pool. This is how you reflect “this is something I’m good at”.

However, the way our statistics work, a humble +1 bonus is enough to turn you into always a winner forever. As a result; player tags allow you to take the HIGHER of the two dice (or, if you already could take the higher of two dice, roll an additional die and take the highest).

For compels, you’re still offered a colorless “fate point” from an infinite stock. You can stick it into any of your pools that you like if you accept it, or buy it off with points from an appropriate pool to the compel.

You don’t have stress; stress comes straight off of your pools (with the same “defense-is-an-action-and-you-have-to-spend-tags-out-of-just-one-pool” rule). You can still have consequences just fine.

I’m tempted to say the default stunt is “when rolling from X pool in X situation, add one to the result of your dice”.

At the end of a scene, pools with fewer than 1 points refill to that point, and any consequences that shake out to compels shake out on top of this number. For higher powered games, you can set all of these numbers higher of course.

The table can still compel, as is traditional.

So an example character:

Conan the Barbarian (starting out)
Vigor 4
Instinct 3
Reason 2
“Cimmerian Barbarian”
“Shrewder than I look”
“Titanic Appetites”
Mighty Thews: +1 vigor-based 2-handed weapons.
Panther Litheness: +1 instinct-based hiding.
Indomitable: +1 reason-based magical resistance.

NPCs work differently. They have a bunch of tactics they’re good at with a difficulty to avoid that tactic. They also have a “challenge” (calculated from D&D 5e) which is a rough measure of their difficulty overall: it’s 1 + 1/2 the D&D challenge, rounded down; add 1 to the difficulty for their signature moves or 2 if it’s truly notable.

An example NPC:
Panther: “adult sized big cat silent hunter”; challenge 1; hide 2 smell 2 pounce 2.
Note that the panther’s default challenge of 1 means that unless situations go against a character, most interactions with the panther go the player’s way. It’s good at hiding, smelling, and pouncing though; when it does those things the player is on a more even footing.

or a tougher NPC:
Ogre: “stinky dumb giant”; challenge 2; smash 4 be large 3.
Note the default challenge of 2 means that most interactions with an ogre are on an even keel. There’s no allowance for the ogre’s extreme stupidity here; most of the time you’ll want to just treat those as compels on its dumb nature!

or an interesting NPC:
Vrock Demon: “vulture headed miasma demon”; challenge 4; resist cold, fire, lightning, weapons and magic 5
Immune to poison
Poison Spores(1/6 rounds): Every breathing creature in the same zone must vigor defend 5 or get -1 to everything but overcome until they vigor overcome 5 or bathe in holy water.
Screech(1 time): Every hearing creature in the same zone must vigor defend 5 or be stunned.

Naively, if you used these rules, nobody at or above D&D CR 12 would work — they’d have challenge 1+(1/2 * 12) = 1+(6) = 7, unrollable on a d6. You have two options. One is that stunts can still overcome this, so things beyond D&D CR 12 are truly supernatural terrors against which only the most prepared heroes stand a chance…

… or you can give the campaign a “level” and subtract it from all of your difficulties. I recommend that latter, and I really recommend keeping it quite low; even a campaign level value of “1” instead of “0” means that your city-slicker wizard cannot fail to hide from a panther — it’s a pretty impressive baseline competence!

 

 


5e Monster Math on a Business Card

TL;DR
For a 1:1 fight of monsters against party, set the Monster Level to the party level; you can use a 2:1 fight with 50% of this number or a 1:2 fight with 150% of it. Then assuming no special abilities, each monster has:

Hit Points: 10+10*ML
AC: 12 + ML/3 (round up, cap 22)
Poor Ability Chk: -2 (flat)
Ability Chk: ML/3 (round up, cap 10)
Damage Per Round: 3.5*ML (or equivalently, d6s)
Attack Bonus/Trained Chk: 2 + ML/3 (round up, cap 12)
Save DC: 10 + ML/3 (round up, cap 20)

Long form:

4e had, in its favor, really quite simple monster math. A monster of level X with the given role and difficulty descriptors should have an AC of X and hp of Y and damage of Z.

5e lacks that. And for how relatively simple the meatbag creatures really are, that’s a shame.

I don’t think you can reasonably expect to back-derive a linear relationship between monster particulars and stats — people have been trying super hard! — but I do think you can come close enough that it’ll work most of the time.

The DMG is, sadly, insufficient to my needs. The chart on page 274 lists “average ranges” (not a super helpful behavior in the first place) and lists hit points which are ludicrously above the ranges used in actual practice. Part of this comes from the monsters tending to be “glass cannons”, with offensive CRs several notches above their defensive CR. Part of this comes from figuring resistances and immunities into their hit points as a multiplier.

Remember: This is only intended to be used for goons! Produced monsters have no real basis in 5e stats!
Per the sly flourish blog post, a hard battle with 1:1 monsters gives those monster half the party’s level in CR (mor or less); you can double your quantity at 50% of the CR or halve it at 150% of the CR. Sly was very careful to keep his stats street legal. For what I’m doing, damn the torpedoes: several levels where things round down (or otherwise keep you from dying horribly) I instead make no such adjustment in the interest of having a clear and simple rule.

I’m introducing a proxy variable so that I have a little more fine-tuned control here, and so that you don’t need to halve everything. Monsters have a Monster Level (ML) equal to the level of the PC they’re 1:1 swapping for. You can put in two ML/2 monsters for a monster of a given ML, or one 1.5*ML monster for two monsters of a given ML.

Then, surfarcher did this analysis on the actual 5e monsters (instead of the DMG table). And one of the sage advice columns talked about converting previous edition monsters into 5e — and in previous editions, monster HD tracked with their notion of monster level pretty closely, so we can also use those proposed adjustments if we squint. Again, ruthlessly simplifying the data and bearing in mind that ML is about twice the CR, we find there are some linear-ish relationships here, at least up until the party is 20th level.

The relevant formulae:
Hit Points: 10+10*ML
AC: 12 + ML/3 (round up, cap 22)
Poor Ability Chk: -2 (flat)
Ability Chk: ML/3 (round up, cap 10)
Damage Per Round: 3.5*ML (or equivalently, d6s)
Attack Bonus/Trained Chk: 2 + ML/3 (round up, cap 12)
Save DC: 10 + ML/3 (round up, cap 20)

I have this ridiculous thing where I consider melee attacks to be “too weak” in D&D — you might consider letting monsters with good ranged attacks under these rules take a -2 AC penalty.
Similarly, this produces fairly high “soldierly” ACs; if your monster is meant to be a brutish monster, consider reducing its AC by 2 and increasing its attack by 2.

I divide ML by 3 even though the wizards article used HD/2 because IMO they get it wrong 🙂 Originally I too used HD/2, but then my hit points seem ludicrously out of whack; adjusting that to /4 felt too low so I wanted to add a tier modifier. 1/3 feels just right and tracks with a few quick sanity checks:

Under these quickie rules, an Ogre (CR2=ML4 or 5) is
HP: 50 or 60
AC: 14
Atk: +4
Chk: +2 (such as its constitution save…)
DPR: 14 or 17
That seems awfully close to the real thing — the AC and damage values are a tiny bit high, but the attack bonus is a bit low; if you gave it -2 AC and +2 attack (which seems like a fair brute-style modification), I think I could use that and be the only one at the table to realize what I’d done.

Similarly, the bag-of-meat Hill Giant (CR5=ML10 or 11) is
HP:110 or 120
AC: 16
Atk: +6
Chk: +4 (such as its constitution save…)
DPR: 35 or 38
Again, right on point (ed: note it splits its DPR between two attacks)! We can see it has the same ogre-style -2 AC/+2 attack bonus brute-style stat swap.

These rules don’t cover, nor do they reserve space for, special features; they just give a flat reasonable value for an averageish monster at this ML. These hit point numbers are significantly higher than those in the MM, so if you do want to throw RELEVANT defensive features on a monster (ed: like incorporeality at low levels, flight and ranged attacks at mid levels), consider using a variant of the table on DMG 277 to modify the monster hp to keep it fair. If the abilities you’re using don’t seem like a big hindrance to the party (for instance, just fire resistance and nothing else) feel free to skip this. Adjusting that table’s CR for my ML, we get:
ML 1-8: 1/2 the monster’s HP
ML 9-20: 2/3 the monster’s HP
ML 21-32: 4/5 the monster’s HP; note flight in particular is no longer considered a defensive ability
ML 33+: You’d have to get pretty cray cray to care.

Similarly, these assume damage is flat and distributed to a single target. Start doing weird things like “multitarget attacks” and you should modify the expected damage as above.

That’s it!


All elves are bards

Most of the time, B/X D&D’s implementation of race-as-class (“My hero is the one who fights!” versus “Mine is the one who dwarfs!”) comes out of left field.
The dwarf and halfling races, in particular, don’t feel outside of human experience enough to fit as a description of what you do.

The elf does. The implementation of the elf has always been “you get everything”, and as the scions of an elder race, it makes sense that they get some kind of kitbashed together progression where even their soldiers have access to charm person.

What it needs is a built-in class kind of like the cleric, but for arcane magic: a fighter-and-caster balanced against fighters and casters. You can multiclass for that, in fact, I suspect the rules support multiclassing purely to fulfill this need, but it kind of sucks that you have to do it by hand. After all, we don’t say that the paladin is a kitbash between fighter and cleric (… anymore…) so what gives?

Originally I was going to write this whole thing about how it annoyed me I couldn’t slot the druid into that role: how their shapechanging and specifically religious tones prevented me from just filing off the serial numbers, changing their casting stat and moving on.

Sidebar: Druid-as-elf: You can only take this option with the circle of the land. You lose wildshape. At 2nd level you can wear metallic armors and wield any martial weapon or shield. At 4th level you get a fighting style (per fighter). At 8th level your weapon attacks deal an extra d8 damage of the same type once per round.
In my opinion druids should cast of of intelligence anyway, so I don’t provide any stat-swap options here. Apply to taste.

Then I was going to mention the annoyance that D&D had two perfectly good models on which to build the martial-magical character, the Sorcerer and the Warlock. Both, in 5e, are fair dripping with flavor; both of those flavors kind of weird me out.

Sorcerers are all about bloodline, but since they’re a class, that bloodline is assumed super attenuated (after all, my character is a dwarf sorcerer). I don’t like modeling a magical bloodline with a whole class, and if I did, I don’t think I’d jump to 3e’s dragons for it. They were a mechanic in search of a class that got popular, and the term was forever lost to good use. Consider: Now it’s a “natural virtuoso” whose in-dwelling of magic, like almost a living thing, is responsive to the sorcerer’s style. So then why do they have slots per day? Why do they have a weird tacked-on point system at the same scale as the slots per day? Why do dragons not share this mechanic?

Warlocks are all about an external oath of service, usually to something morally repugnant or at least morally grey. For the nonce, we’ll pass over that that’s just a not-nice cleric (why completely different mechanics) and that there’s incredible pressure to project Doctor Strange style force bolts from how good Eldritch Blast is for them. Instead, we’ll focus on why an oath of service lets them have these weird powers.
I think it’s because the story-that-is-written down isn’t actually the story they wanted! The warlock isn’t an oath-sworn. They’re a monster. Gradually, slowly, a level of monster you lay on top of your character, but that’s why spells per encounter and a focus on at wills — it matches the way a monster is written up but with the slight flexibility a PC needs to stay interesting. At least, so says I.

So, the sorcerer should have the warlock’s mechanics. That way, they can be a wellspring of magic, continuing their theme of being wizards-who-cast-funny. And in my opinion they shouldn’t tie to dragons at all, but if they absolutely had to, the breath still gives us a way for that to work, and the extremely limited spell selection, and so forth. The “invocations” are less of a great fit for the sorcerer, but frankly they’re not so hot for the warlock either: half of them are just giving you access to a spell they didn’t want you casting all the time.

The warlock-as-monster should have the monk’s mechanics. No, really! Their unarmed strike is a eldritch blast (… if they insist), a bunch of cantrips, ki points which refill each short encounter, and specialized mechanics to fit their patron, with the abyssal patron giving access to a huge randomized list. Sure, then they’re not really full casters, but to my mind that’s all to the good: it lets more of the fun live in the invocations; the monk has a bunch of weird one-off powers so the warlock-as-monster could too.
I’d probably call this class the Cambion, and resurrect my previous attempt to write one.

I’d call the warlock-as-oathsworn just “the warlock” (I don’t owe 3e any continuity!). It could just be a sort of cleric but with a wizard’s spell list. You know, an armored arcane(-ish) caster.

Like the B/X Elf.

But that’s not the article I ended up writing! While covering my bases, I discovered that 5e snuck what I wanted into the game after all.

They called it the bard.

They can fight, they can cast, their spells are arcane enough for me, and the college of lore gives them the armor side of being an elf.

If they need anything at all to feel more like a B/X elf with access to all the wizard’s gewgaws, we could figure out how to give them the rogue(thief)’s magical item use, probably as a racial feature (!).

So there you have it. An article which obviated itself.


Spellcaster Undead

D&D 5e doesn’t have a lot of good low-ish level spellcastery undead, which is annoying for a game which involves a fair bit of grave defilement.

There’s the Lich. Strikes fear into everyone’s heart. Has spells. Has achieved the pinnacle of undeath. They’re CR 20, so for my purposes might as well not exist.

There’s the vampiric spellcaster. Vampires are too precious for me to use here: they’re specific individuals, romantic/monstrous figures, with a weird quasi-biology. They’re not the sort who sit around in mouldering tombs waiting, they’re the sort who actively go out and bother heroes. That said, this is a great option to remember I have and to come back to, because they’re otherwise just right.

There’s the mummy lord. Actually, this is pretty good as a “sits in tomb but isn’t a Lich”. Swap the spells out, maybe (maybe!) strike the desert specializations to make them match the kind of wizard I’m using them as, and this is a good option. They’re still CR 15, which is a little steep for my taste, but in the realm of doable.

But then: silence. Let’s fix that! Our needs are simple: some spellcaster-types for a good mix of undead types: Ghoul, Wight, Specter, Mummy, Wraith.

I left a bunch of undead types out, either for seeming too mindless to me (a lot of undead have low intelligences but I think that’s just being chauvinistic for, say, ghouls; others like zombies really are just too dumb to still be mages). There’s space for more-magical shadows and zombies, it’s just not in the same space I’m talking about a crypt-bound wizard-type. Save it for the crypt-bound sorcerer or warlock-type “flaming skeleton”. That’ll be a great article.

So our target is the Ghoul-Mage, the Wight-Mage, the Specter-Mage, the Mummy-Mage and the Wraith-Mage.

Ghulmage (CR 5)

The eaters of the dead are those warlocks who trafficked with unclean spirits sufficient that they slid into a maddened undeath without even noticing. They combine the spellcasting abilities of a 7th level warlock (so: a 2 4th level slots of: Blight (1 living target 30 feet 8d8necro, con save half), Polymorph; 3rd level Bestow Curse, Fear, Lightning bolt, 2nd level Detect Thoughts, Invisibility; cantrips Chill Touch (2d8), Minor Illusion, Silent Image at will?) with the traits of a ghast and hit points appropriate to their station.

I think I’d throw a “eat a corpse/regain a spell and some hit points” thing on them too, just to be super cruel, but that’s just me, and wouldn’t come up all that much. I would also say that a ghulmage is a way to become powerful: they just transition into normal ghouls if they don’t have the oomph to make it in the CR 5 leagues.

Dead Witch (Lesser: CR 3 Greater: CR 7)

A wight arises when a powerful knight is suffused with the energies of the undead and comes (cackling!) back to life, often with dark forces or blood oaths invoked. Dead witches are similar: the corpse of a spellcaster with a dark force animating it. The lesser form are as wights but as, say, 3rd level casters (acid arrow, magic missile, burning hands?). The greater form are mages which transitioned into wighthood (spells per NPC mage). In both cases, I suspect they have a familiar flitting around the battlefield which is what they generally use to life drain: they cast a cantrip and the familiar does a life drain touch.

Phantasm (CR 5)

The wizard’s skill without the wizard, a phantasm is an obsessive echo of their goals. It’s effectively a beefed up specter, spells etc, with a “favorite” set of spells which it may cast renewably. I kind of like 2nd level spells for this: this is the same CR as a wraith, a red slaad or a troll, so something like “all the scorching ray you can eat” or “ray of enfeeblement look I’m a ranged shadow almost” or the mean ones like “suggestion” all seem fine. Fireball every round feels wrong, though, so 3rd level is too high. Magic missile (remember, at 2nd level!) Phantasms seem particularly fun in a 4d4+4 damage per round kind of way.

Any similarity between Phantasms and the Wizrobe from Legend of Zelda is purely coincidental.

Embalmed One (CR 7)

The point of a mummy is to live on after death, and wizards and sorcerers seek that immortality the same as princes and priests do. The downside is that the rituals a mummy goes through in order to secure their immortality occur after death, and so lie in the hands of assistants and underlings — or, perhaps worse, in the hands of the wizard’s masters. An Embalmed One is a pet wizard, their vital organs in a jar, forced to obey the holder of the jar. Otherwise as a mummy with the hit points for CR 7 and the spells of an 11th level mage (or, as I prefer, warlock: 3 slots of 6th level: Disintegrate, Globe of Invulnerability; 5th level: Cloudkill, Telekinesis; 4th level: Banishment, Stone Shape; 3rd level: Blink, Dispel Magic; 2nd level: Spider Climb, Web; 1st level: Magic Missile, Detect Magic; cantrips: Ray of Frost, Shocking Grasp).

Whoever holds the canopic jar can command the Embalmed One absolutely; an embalmed one in possession of its own canopic jar may either keep the status quo or destroy it, which will eventually reduce it over time to a mere mummy.

Spellwraith (CR 9)

One of the more feared forms of immortal enemy, a wraith with spellcasting powers is a terrifying foe. Worse, spellwraiths retain their human intelligence; they cast as level 13 casters, giving them 3 7th level slots of 7: Reverse Gravity and Finger of Death, 6: Wall of Ice and Flesh to Stone, 5: Telekinesis and Dominate Persion, 4: Ice Storm and Dimension Door, 3: Sleet Storm and Lightning Bolt, 2: Scorching Ray and Darkness, 1: Magic Missile and Sleep; Chill Touch, Ray of Frost and Mage Hand.

I think I’d let them walk through people as part of an attack.

Now, to actually stat these up!


Dungeon Hazards

Okay, so we all know the old standbys: the green slime, the yellow mold.

Here are some more, from a variety of sources and at my whim.

First, the DMG:

Brown Mold:
Drawn to warmth, a 10 foot square patch of brown mold makes frigid the air within a 30 foot aura.
When a creature starts or enters within 5 feet of the mold, it takes 22 (4d10) cold damage, constitution save DC 12 for half.
Brown mold is immune to fire, and bringing fire within 5 feet spawns a new 10 foot square of the mold around the fire. Exposing it to cold damage instantly destroys it.

Commentary:
What are we to make of this? Brown mold deals cold damage, nigh definitionally. Its fimbulwinter-like effect is presumably intended to be constant (it’s not that it deals cold damage reactively to creatures, but that the area around it is always polar, and creatures are exposed to it). I suppose it inhibits its own growth, or has some annular ring around which it does the cold leakage.

Quasi-naturalistic though “this mold is cold” might be, the actual game rules feel to me like they work better for an unstable connection to the Ice Plane than as an actual creature, since as I say, it should self-destruct.

Premodern refrigeration technology? Quite dangerous, but maybe you’d use a spore-fine mesh and a fan, or a captive-fluid exchange manifold to limit exposure. I kind of like that idea — light the boiler to make some ice cream.

Green Slime:
Acidic, sticky and hungry, green slime eats everything but ceramics and stone, which it clings to in any orientation.
A 5 foot square of slime drops from walls and ceilings onto creatures whose movement it detects below it. A creature aware of the patch can make a dexterity save DC 10 to avoid, but otherwise splat. A creature touching green slime takes 5 (1d10) acid damage on contact and again at the beginning of each turn. It deals double damage against wood or metal. Any scraping tool which removes the slime is destroyed (unless it is ceramic). Sunlight, effects which cure disease, or any amount of cold, fire or radiant damage destroys a patch of slime.

Commentary:
An oldie but a goodie. We’re missing phrasing about what happens to the victim of a scraping (in my opinion, they share any damage dealt with the slime!), any chance of the scraping failing (I’m okay with that), and in my opinion the damage is lower than it could be. I suppose I could always throw in Malachite Slime and Emerald Slime when I feel the need to up the damage, though!

Worst of all: green slime is real.

Yellow Mold:
Sporous and dark-loving, yellow mold fills a 5 foot square. Touching a patch fills a 10 foot cube dealing 11 (2d10) poison damage and poisoned for one minute, constitution save DC 11 negates. While poisoned, take 5 (1d10) poison damage at the start of each turn, saving again at the end. Sunlight or any amount of fire damage destroys yellow mold.

Commentary:
This seems fine, but a little inconsistent. I’d add radiant damage vulnerability and effects which remove poison and disease, as with the green slime.
This also implies an inhalant poison, Preserved Yellow Mold Dust. Harvested at great expense, when it reconstitutes in the mucous membranes of an individual, it’s super deadly. 250 gp, Inhaled/ingested, effects as per exposure to yellow mold spores.

As far as I can tell, the only 1e nasties which 5e is still missing are the rot grub and the ear seeker.
Rot Grub:
The rot grub is a tiny flesh-loving parasite which spreads by touch, generally the touch of a corpse. Avoiding exposure requires a dexterity save DC 10, resistance to weapon damage, or specialized clothing. The round after exposure, the grubs can be removed with a DC 15 Medicine check with a knife or fire (1d4 damage per attempt if the normal damage would be less; fire damage dealing more than 5 points of damage is automatically successful even if the medicine check fails).
Any effect which removes disease kills the grubs.
Otherwise, at the conclusion of each short rest, the infestee must make a DC 10 constitution save or becomes incapacitated with pain for 1 hour, suffering 1d6 damage at the beginning of each round they are incapacitated.

Ear Seeker:
I don’t like ’em. If you really want an ear seeker, just use a rot grub and have it go for the ears. It’s a rot grub that lives in doors.

Some more dungeon hazards which I like, adapted from the pathfinder SRD:

Memory Moss:
A 5 foot square of black moss, growing in grottoes and caves or warm, moist climes, near settlements or lairs. It ripples gently when exposed to light, and has open starlike petals if it hasn’t fed within 24 hours. A creature within 60 feet of a patch of the moss feels their mind begin to wander and old emotions begin to surface. A creature within 5 feet of a patch of active moss and breathing its spores must make a DC 10 Intelligence save or lose all memory since they last time they slept and be confused for one hour, save once per round negates. Whether the initial attack succeeds or fails the moss will then go “dormant” for 24 hours while it digests. Repeated exposure causes amnesia at iteratively removed time periods.
Eating digesting moss causes the consumer to experience its contained memories, restoring them (or implanting them). Eating moss which doesn’t contain memories gives general sensations drawn across its various meals, in a sensation very like dreaming.
Cold and fire damage destroys the moss.

Commentary:
As originally presented, this stuff also stole spells. No way am I bothering with that. I think stealing your brain and making you short-term crazy is enough for me, thank-you. There’s a 3e poison called “Id Moss” which my headcanon makes into an application of this stuff.

I love the pen-sieve effect where eating the moss gives you a memory. Memory Moss Potions, made by plucking it at the point of freshness and then dissolving the moss in an alcoholic solution, allowing a holographic attenuation of detail and exchange of thoughts, are just so cool.

And it leaves you, maddened and amnesiac, at the bottom level of a dungeon with no memory of why and how you got there.

Statuary Ivy:
A tropical clinging vine whose contact poison causes flesh to lignify, easily noticeable by its silver sheen and galled, bumpy appearance (statuary insects). Each round which begins while exposed warrants a DC 10 constitution save against magical petrification. The first failed save inflicts the restrained condition. A second (if still exposed) causes petrification for 24 hours (though it is a transformation into wood, not stone). A final save after 24 hours makes the lignification permanent. A success on any of these saves removes the effect and allows the victim to break free, though reexposure requires checking again.
The oils on the ivy fade swiftly after the ivy is detached, losing their potency after 1 minute. Contact is generally limited to animals or accidental handling, since boots represent sufficient defense while standing in a patch of it and the oils fade swiftly.

Commentary:
It’s a cockatrice!

Yellow Musk Creeper:
As per yellow mold, albeit in the form of a rare and tropical vine. Creatures slain by the mold arise as zombies. Vulnerable to cold and fire, instead of radiant and fire.

Ravenous Mold:
A 5 foot patch of black mold. When exposed to flesh, it grows uncontrollably; when touched or agitated by wind it fills a 10 foot cube with its spores, exposing all creatures who enter and begin in the space. Making a DC 15 constitution save to avoid the effect. Otherwise, take 1d6 acid damage at the beginning of each round. If you are in bright light or have taken at least 10 points of radiant or fire damage since your last turn, you may repeat the save to end the effect at the end of your turn. Effects that remove disease  the effect as well.
Any creature slain by the mold is destroyed, becoming a new patch of mold.

Commentary:
Utterly cruel! The ravenous mold can’t be scraped off, and 10 points of radiant damage is beyond the reach of early spells like sacred flame. You’re basically going to have to douse yourself in oil and catch fire, and do it quickly.
It’s a shame this stuff is acid-aspected, because this would be an interesting use for taking a wine bath to end the effect, too.

Bad Air:
Stale and still, anyone breathing bad air is suffocating without realizing it. When you first start breathing bad air, you can make a wisdom (perception or survival) or intelligence (nature) check against a DC of 10 to recognize it for what it is; dwarven stonecutting bonuses apply; light sources dim and go out after 1 round. Otherwise you will suffocate in a number of rounds equal to your constitution bonus (as though running out of breath). This can be avoided simply by holding your breath.
Variant: Flammable Gas Pocket: As bad air, but instead of going out, open flames (such as a candle, torch, lamp or lantern) will set the gas pocket off. It deals 8d6 fire to all creatures in or within 20 feet of the pocket as it erupts, DC 10 dexterity save for half. During the round before they go out, the light sources tinge blue. The explosion is a one time event, after which the area is bad air, recharging to flammable gas after a few days.
Variant: Poisonous Gas Pocket: As bad air, but instead of suffocating, at the end of the grace period,  you are poisoned and while poisoned immobilized; DC 10 constitution save at the beginning of each round negates for that round. Beginning your turn poisoned in the area of the gas deals 1d6 poison damage.
Variant: Poison Wind: As poisonous gas, but issuing from a vent, so that the air is moving. It usually has a chemical smell to it.

Spellbook Fungus:
A 5 foot patch of shelf fungus, this paper growth forms on dirt or biological material in areas of dim light near permanent magical effects. Spellcasters attempting to cast a spell while standing within 30 feet of a patch which isn’t charged must make a spellcasting attribute check with a DC of 10 + the level of their spell. If they fail this check, the spell is counterspelled and the spellbook fungus becomes charged. Anyone touching a charged spellbook fungus discharges it; they are affected as though by a wand of wonder and the fungus is destroyed in a cloud of spores. Spellbook fungus may remain charged for up to 1 year.
A patch of spellbook fungus may be dispelled as though it were a 3rd level spell, or destroyed by any amount of fire damage.

Darkening Mold:
A 10 foot patch of this greyish mold darkens the area within 10 feet around it, from bright light to dim or dim light to dark. If it is put in total darkness beyond sight of all lights (ignoring its own feeding effect), it begins to starve and go dormant within 1 round. If it spends a year dormant, it will die, otherwise reviving 1 hour after being exposed to light again.
Bringing a light source within 5 feet of the mold causes a patch to appear under and on the light source, thereafter causing the light source to produce only dim light out to the radius it previously produced bright light, instead of bright-and-dim-light. It is immune to damage from fire or radiant, spawning a new patch instead towards the damage source. It will be destroyed if dealt cold, thunder or acid damage, or cleaned with alcohol.
As noted, a darkness spell will cause dormancy.

Echo Fungus:
A bright yellow cheerful fungal growth resembling a sunflower, a patch of echo fungus covers a 5 foot square. This stuff babbles continuously, repeating the loudest sound it hears within 60 feet. It is immune to thunder damage. If it is exposed to any amount of thunder damage, it begins a cacophonous repetition, causing any creature who begins or enters 60 feet of a stand of echo fungus to take 1d6 thunder damage and be deafened, constitution save DC 10 negates.
A silence effect will kill all patches in their area, as will a DC 10 perform check to “change their channel” or at least a gallon of water spread over the area.

Sorrow Moss:
This weeping-moss is silver-tinged and airy, filling a 5 foot square. Living creatures who smell it are overcome with despair while they can smell it, being unable to attack or target any creature with harmful abilities, spells, or other magical effects. A DC 10 charisma save on initial exposure or at the end of each round negates. A creature exposed for more than a minute may no longer negate, being permanently hopeless.
Immunity to fear negates, as does any effect which removes fear.
The moss itself may be destroyed with fire or radiant damage.


A few items

Staff of Sleepers
Rare, requires attunement by a wizard, sorcerer or bard
This is a sea-bleached length of driftwood, twisted and light.
This staff has 10 charges and recovers 1d8+2 charges at dusk; if you expend the last charge it crumbles 1-in-20.
While holding this staff, you and all those within 10 feet of you are immune to magical sleep.
All other properties require attunement.
While holding this staff you can use an action to expend 1 to 5 charges to cast the sleep spell at 1st to 5th level, or 5 charges to cast the dream spell.
While holding this staff you can use 10 minutes to expend 8 charges to cast the symbol spell (sleep only) with no material components. Any previous instance of the symbol spell cast in this way fades.

Mortal’s Staff
Rare, requires attunement by a wizard or cleric
This is a straight simple walking staff, cord wrapped.
This staff has 10 charges and recovers 1d8+2 charges at dawn; if you expend the last charge it  crumbles 1-in-20.
Aberrations, Celestials, Fey, Fiends, Elementals and Undead take 1d12 force damage each round they spend with the staff in their possession.
All other properties require attunement.
While holding this staff, creatures cannot teleport into or out of an area 10 feet around you, nor can they use portals or other trans-planar travel.
You can expend  1 charge to cast protection from good and evil, 3 charges to cast magic circle, or 4 charges to cast banishment.

Oathbrand
Rare
This sigil at the end of this iron glows a dull red at all times. If an oath is sworn within thirty feet of the iron, it glows bright red (as a candle) and smells of sulfur. If pressed into the flesh of a creature while that creature swears an oath, it leaves a painless, old scar. Should the oath be broken within 30 days of the ritual, the angry scar erupts into literal flame, dealing 6d8 fire damage, constitution save DC 13 for half (though the mark remains noticeably altered).
The brand may otherwise be wielded as club, or a torch if an oath is spoken.

Hunter’s Mark
Uncommon
This dagger’s pommel has a talon seal embossed on it. As a minor action it can be pressed onto a victim, requiring an attack. If you succeed, it is mystically marked for as long as you maintain concentration, giving you advantage on wisdom (perception and survival) checks you make to find it, and extending the range of divination spells you cast relevant to the creature by a factor of one thousand.

Bottled Common Dream
Common Consumable
This unctuous liquid causes the drinker to fall into a magical sleep (DC 10 wisdom save negates). If a sleeper does fall asleep, they will have any dreams whispered to them, and may believe the dreams to have been real should they fail an investigation check upon awakening.

Lyrium Potion
Rarity Varies Consumable
I’ve spoken of this before, a potent thaumaturgical brew which brings power at the cost of madness. The imbiber regains a spell of up to the indicated level, which must be used within the next minute.
Common: 1st
Uncommon: 2nd
Rare: 3rd
Very Rare: 4th
Legendary: 5th
Whenever you drink a lyrium potion, lose a number of hit dice equal to the level regained; roll all such dice. If any come up 1, acquire a new medium-term insanity. If you lose more dice than you have remaining, automatically gain a short term insanity as well.


Lifestyle and Adventuring Gear

Some more teeth to the lifestyle rules, and as a result some talking about your brain on drugs.

To make this work, let’s talk Rations. Rations are your spell components, your food, your your torches, your arrows, your bandages and even your oil, but not your potions or scrolls. You consume a Ration of weight each night and time you short rest in the field, and refill them whenever you long rest in a town or go shopping.

Some terrains (deserts, arctic) may require specialty Rations beyond these.

In a dry desert you need to carry 8 pounds of water per person per day.

In a cold and barren environment, you need to carry 8 pounds of firewood per person per day.

Lifestyle Price/Day

Wretched Free
While living at the wretched level, you do not have lightsources or rations except as acquired through play — including during a long rest! In particular, food and water must be explicitly acquired onscreen or you starve. Bright side, rations don’t weigh anything: you have 0.

Squalid 1 sp/day or Poor 2sp/day
You do not have any rations, but are capable of rests in your home base, once secured at this rate. If forced into adventure, you’re gonna have to acquire your goods on-screen.

Modest 1 gp/day
While living at the modest level, each ration weighs 4 lbs. Your light source is torches.

Comfortable 2 gp/day
While living at the comfortable level, each ration weighs 2 lbs. Your light source is an oil lamp.

Wealthy 4 gp/day or Aristocratic 10gp+/day
While living at the wealthy level or above, each ration weighs 1 lb. Your light source is a lantern of any type.

If your character is a burglar or similar, one who needs a hooded lantern but only when on the job: you need to spend the Wealthy rate for days when you adventure, but when not adventuring you can track your supplies at the lower level. I guess you could also mix-and-match light source stuff, but the whole point is to make each short rest cost an explicit slice of your weight allocation — and therefore reward high strength. So long story short, pretend the PHB didn’t mention oil flasks and 1sp, and suck it up and pay a ration for your adventuring needs.

Now, let’s talk about what else you can do with lifestyle expenses: vices.

A Vice is a source of comfort and joy for your character, though bad for the body (or the body politic). It represents a substance or activity of a slightly unwholesome nature, and one which can be so rewarding to your character that they continue to chase the dragon. Not all characters with a vice have a problem, but it is a constant temptation.

Addictions are rated on a scale: absent (0), minor (1), moderate (2), severe (5) and lethal (10). The number indicated by the descriptor is the addiction rating.

Multiply your lifestyle expenses by your addiction rating (except for absent — even without vices, you still have to pay lifestyle!). Thus absent and minor addictions don’t carry a gp cost.

On Psychological Addictions:
If your character’s tastes run to the slovenly trulls, substitute psychic damage for poison damage in the below, and switch the uses of wisdom and constitution below. Medicine cannot help you kick the habit but psychology can; substitute Persuasion. You’ll understand in a moment 😉

Sampling:
Trying a vice for the first time forces a DC 8 constitution save or acquire a minor addiction.

Temptation:
Once per session, you may agree to “binge” next time the opportunity exposes itself in order to give your character inspiration. In fiction, though things go well for them this time, the next time they find themselves at peace, their temporary relief leads to them chasing the dragon (so to speak).

Binging:
Go partying and indulge your vice.
It requires half your current addiction rating in downtime days (minimum 1).
It deals a number of d4s of poison damage equal to your addiction rating (so abstention deals 0 damage, a moderate addiction 2d4 poison damage, and so forth). You are entitled to a DC 8 + addiction rating constitution save for half damage.
Your addiction scale increases by one (absent to minor, minor to moderate, etc).

Steady State:
Other than the lifestyle cost and temptation issues, an addiction doesn’t present an ongoing challenge to your character. They’re high functioning heroes, and we don’t generally die of old age. It’s perfectly reasonable to track each day spent under a moderate or worse addiction as 2, 5 or 10 days for purposes of aging rules. Since I don’t track those, I rely on the binge and recovery cycle to cause our heroes to OD and perish.

Recovery:
Avoid partying and indulgence for a number of days equal to your rating, and try to kick the habit.
You take a number of d6s of poison damage equal to your addiction rating (a current severe addiction deals 5d6 damage). You are entitled to a DC 8 + addiction rating wisdom save for half damage.
Make a DC 8 + addiction rating wisdom save at the end of the period to avoid the temptation to seek out your substance. If you succeed your addiction reduces by one step on the scale (major to moderate, and so forth). Anyone with a medicine check and restraints may substitute their medicine check for your wisdom save.

One last lifestyle hack: Hirelings and Organizations.

A CR 0 creature costs 2sp/day
A CR 1/8 creature costs 2gp/day
A CR 1/4 creature costs 4gp/day
A CR 1/2 creature costs 10gp/day

Mercenaries willing to go into a specific dungeon with you charge 30 days up front, renegotiated after each dungeon.

A small or medium creature eats 1 ration per day.
A large creature 4 rations.
A huge creature 16 rations.
A gargantuan creature 64 rations.
In the interests of simplicity, rations for hirelings are always 2lb, and they’re willing to share rations with their employer.

An organization provides a lifestyle equivalence and generally one or more staff — generally a level of lifestyle and the same value in hirelings, intended for use along the goals of the organization.