Monthly Archives: July 2016

A really simple war machine

Split your army into “forces”, where a force is a mixed group of attackers working together towards common goals. These forces are somewhat fluid, but it takes a little bit of accounting to turn creatures into forces, so you’ll mostly figure out what happened to individual creatures in the aftermath. Sometimes, individual creatures can be a force unto themselves, but numbers get a pretty big “lift”, so you’ll usually not want that. Forces can — should! — be made of disparate types of creatures at whatever scale you’d like, though you’ll generally want to abstract things, so the scale should include at least one side of at least dozens and ideally hundreds of creatures.

This engine is an “offline” engine: it doesn’t try hard to model the actual effects of which creatures are strong against which other creatures, and just generally gives somewhat reasonable results. If PCs are involved and fighting at the front lines, this engine will generally not produce interesting combat, but instead fast forward to the next scene with everyone having taken a little damage and the question of who proves victorious decided.

A force has statistics: it has a Strength (the sum of the challenges of creatures that make it up, which is sort of its hit points), and its damage bonus which is its Strength to one significant digit, divided by 10 (so for instance, a strength of 11 and of 19 both have a damage bonus of +1; strength of 25 and 28 are both +2, 111 is 10, 999 is 90, and 1024 is 100). It also has a magnitude which is just the number of digits in its strength (a strength of 200 would be a magnitude of 3, a strength of 8 would be a magnitude of 1).

The force also has statistics unrelated to its numerical composition: Morale threshold, which is the percentage of the starting strength value at which the force will rout, attempting to flee the combat. This is derived from the wisdom saving throw modifier of its commander. If the forces are substantially immune to fear, use the +10 line; if the forces are substantially resistant to fear, add +5 to the commander’s wisdom saving throw modifier:
Adjusted wisdom saving throw modifier: Morale Strength percentage:
+10 or higher: 0% (only total defeat can cause a rout)
+3 to +9: 50%
+1 or +2: 66%
-1 or +0: 75%
-3 or -2: 80%.
-4: 90%.
-5 or worse: 95%
For instance, let’s consider a force of a thousand goblins led by a goblin, and a force of a hundred hobgoblins led by a hobgoblin. The thousand goblins are individually Challenge 1/4, which makes them a Strength 250 (magnitude 3, damage 20, morale 187); the hundred hobgoblins are Strength 50 (magnitude 2, damage 5, morale 37). If we were to declare that hobgoblins are fearless (… why aren’t they?) or their commander were particularly bold, the morale threshold at which they route might be decreased to 50%, 25 strength.

A force is also somewhat described by its composition: pikes have vulnerability to damage from archers, archers from cavalry, cavalry from pikes; forces composed of dark-seeing units can see in the dark themselves, and so forth. Combat and damage below will discuss how these are used.

If a force holds a defensive point or piece of machinery, the asset has rules which can modify these, so see below. PCs wishing to aid the war effort will likely be involved at this level, taking and destroying assets on an individual level.

Combat and Damage.

Each exchange of combat represents ten minutes spent getting into position, maneuvering lines of contact, and so forth. Each force rolls for initiative, adding their magnitude as a bonus, then acts in order.

On its turn, a force atomatically makes 1d10 attacks each of which automatically hit, dealing damage to the attacked forces with each hit. Forces take double damage from attacks against which they are vulnerable or in which the attack has advantage, and half damage from attacks against which they are resistant or in which the attack has disadvantage, and none at all against attacks to which they are immune. Each hit automatically cleaves if the strength of a force is reduced at or below its morale threshold.

Named characters in a force which are hit take this damage as hit point damage and expend a spell slot of at least the magnitude of the attacker (or their highest level remaining if there aren’t any of the magnitude of the attacker). Named characters who make up at least 50% of the strength of their force take five times the hit point damage.

If a force wishes to withdraw, it does so instead of attacking, leaving at the end of the round. Routed forces automatically withdraw.
To determine the fate of the individual creatures which had made up a force, simply divide the force’s new (lower!) strength back into individual creatures. If it was a rout, reduce the strength to 1d100% of its value first to reflect additional casualties in the retreat.

Assets: Fortifications and Machinery.

Seige equipment, vehicles and foritications are all basically monsters requiring a crew (often of commoners albeit ones with particular skill) to operate.

The challenge values of an asset (unless otherwise noted) don’t add to the strength of the force it’s a part of as a creature’s would. Instead, it functions somewhat similarly to temporary hit points for a character: a separate pool of ablative damage which can be used to absorb hits. Vehicles and fortifications are generally resistant to non-siege damage, which acts as an additional defensive measure. Half of the damage taken by a fortification is also dealt to the inhabiting force. Remember to calculate the morale threshold of each asset, because a fortress doesn’t have to be destroyed to fall!
If the asset isn’t fully crewed, it cannot be used.
Siege Weaponry. It’s slow and requires subsumption of a crew to operate it. Siege weapons function as creatures instead of as fortifications, adding to the Strength of the force directly. Siege weapons all deal siege damage, that is, full damage to fortifications. To be clear: siege weapons don’t have resistance to non-siege damage.

  • Ballista (crew 3, challenge 1)
  • Cannon (crew 3, challenge 2)
  • Cauldron, Suspended (crew 1, challenge 1/8)
  • Mangonel (crew 5, challenge 1)
  • Trebuchet (crew 5, challenge 3)

Vehicles. Vehicles are, unless otherwise noted, resistant to non-siege damage. Often they will include siege weaponry to boost their challenge further. Also, they can move around, which is usually considered a perk. Their crew is the minimum number of creatures required to operate and, if not listed, is 1. Remember, these challenges form a separate “pool” of strength beyond that of the

  • Airship (crew 10, challenge 6)
  • Carriage (challenge 1/4)
  • Cart (does NOT resist mundane weaponry, challenge 0)
  • Chariot (does NOT resist mundane weaponry, challenge 1/2)
  • Galley (crew 80, challenge 7)
  • Keelboat (challenge 4)
  • Longship (crew 40, challenge 5)
  • Ram (crew 4, deals siege damage, fortifications are vulnerable, challenge 1/2)
  • Rowboat (does NOT resist mundane weaponry, challenge 1/8)
  • Sailing ship (crew 20, challenge 5)
  • Siege Tower (crew 4, attacks using a siege tower circumvent fortifications entirely, challenge 4)
  • Sled (does NOT resist mundane weaponry, challenge 0)
  • Wagon (challenge 1/8)
  • Warship (crew 60, challenge 7)

Fortifications. Fortifications are resistant to non-siege damage and likely have mounted siege weaponry. Additionally, a fully crewed fortification doesn’t consume the strength of its crew: they still count towards the strength of the force they’re acting as a part of.

  • Abbey (crew 5, challenge 9)
  • Guildhall (crew 5, challenge 4)
  • Keep/small castle (crew 50, challenge 9)
  • Manor (crew 3, challenge 7)
  • Outpost/fort (crew 20, challenge 6)
  • Palace/large castle (crew 200, challenge 22)
  • Temple (crew 10, challenge 9)
  • Fortified tower (crew 10, challenge 6)
  • Trading post (crew 4, challenge 4)
  • Civilian Structure (crew 1, challenge 1/8)

On choking to death and, uh, not.

side note: It seems that the new android wordpress doesn’t draft things properly. I’ve only tried to write this three times. Bright side, you (gentle reader) benefit from the unseen drafts!

The non-heroic deaths are a little all-over-the-place in D&D. We can make them a little more concise.


You starve, or drown, or dehydrate, or whatever, on a specific periodic schedule:

  • Without air: 1 minute
  • Extreme temperature: 1 hour
  • Without water: 1 day
  • Without food: 1 week

At the end of each listed period, you acquire 2 levels of exhaustion (DC 15 Constitution saving throw for half). You cannot remove these levels of exhaustion until you go for the listed period satisfying the need.

Suffocation is a special case of these rules: the levels of exhaustion it inflicts are temporary, and fade after a minute spent breathing normally.

Avoiding deprivation:

Eat, drink, be merry! The cost of your upkeep is covered by your lifestyle expenses, but you might have to carry things with you:

  • Air: Not much you can do with a medieval level of technology. But if there were:
    • Air: 2 lb of fresh air for 1 person for 1 day, per NASA.
  • Temperature:
    • Each hour in the cold, to heat 5 people requires one of:
      • 5 lbs firewood (5cp)
      • 2lbs peat/coal/dung (4sp)
  • Water:
    • 8 lbs of water sustains 1 person for 1 day in a temperate climate.
    • 16 lbs of water sustains 1 person for 1 day in a hot climate.
  • Food:
    • Each day, each person needs to consume one of:
      • 1 lb of iron rations, 5 gp each
      • 2 lb of standard (“trail”) rations, 1 gp each
      • 5 lb of unpreserved food (requires 1 hour fire), 2 sp each

Missing the amount you need for a period — but getting at least half the amount you need — doubles the deprivation period. Rationing, that’s the ticket.

Overindulgence and Profession: Gastro Gnome:

There are a few skills that interact with the food thing: hunting and cooking. I would guess that a hunter can name a number of pounds of food and then make a Wisdom (Survival) check against that value as a DC. Miss it and get no food. Hit it and get that amount of food (unpreserved). Once per day as a travel activity. Rangers (“provide food for yourself and others”)

I would guess that a chef can glean more out of food (and make it tastier besides): while rationing food,because they optimize for satiety, triple the period instead of doubling it.

My en5ider article got rejected 2: Fey Lairs

This is the trickier fallout from the temporarily abortive sale of my article.

This specific content got rejected, but I’m keeping the framework, because I want to retool it and try to resubmit it; the content is mine but they want exclusivity (which seems fair!) so I don’t want to step on their toes. So you get the specific lairs without reference to the structure.

Again, this is WAY overdesigned and has only a nodding acquaintance with balance or actual usability. Use at your own risk. You’ll figure it out.

Some content may have been prevented from release because I’m certain I’ll want to try to sell it again. I’ll publish a part 3 when I give up 😀

Dryad Grove

Level 2 bower

A dryad is a nature spirit (that is, fey) bound to a specific tree (for a hamadryad, an oak tree; meliai are bound to ash trees, epimeliad to apple trees, and caryatids to walnut trees). The grove in which that tree is located absorbs some of the magic of the dryad, or perhaps has a magic itself which attracted or created the dryad. Either way, the following effects apply within 300 feet of a dryad’s anchoring tree:

Sign: Beauty: A creature ending a short rest in the bower sees more of the beauty in all things.

Sign: Fecundity: Plants and animals in the region are much more fructive than elsewhere, and the anchoring tree type more than any. Acorns the size of apples, ash berries like bunches of grapes, apples like gemstones and walnuts the size of your fist.

Trait: Trackless: Attuned creatures do not leave a trail and can only be tracked with magic. Attuned creatures are unaffected by difficult or hazardous terrain which is based on plants or earth.

Trait: Attuned Elysium: Attuned creatures must make a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw in order to leave. Effects last for 24 hours, either way.

Bower Action: Charm Charmed (recharge 5-6): One charmed creature in the region is also charmed by the bower. This charm matches in all ways the charm the creature was already under, including the object of their affection, durations (the bower may concentrate on multiple effects), conditions for release etc but since its source is the bower, the originator may cease concentration and need no longer count this charmed creature against any limits they may have.

Variant Dryad Groves

Level 3 bower

To specialize a grove to a specific sort of dryad, add one of the following traits, all of which apply only while within the bower:

Trait: Hamadryad Strength (oak only): All attuned creatures and their allies deal +1 die of melee weapon damage, including with the shillelagh spell.

Trait: Epimelial Sweetness (apple only): All attuned creatures and their allies are sweet smelling and full of vitality. They gain 1 current and maximum hit points per hit die and are immune to poison damage and the poisoned condition.

Trait: Melial Evasion (ash only): All attuned creatures and their allies take no damage from spells when they succeed at a saving throw.

Trait: Caryatid Defense (walnut only): All attuned creatures and their allies may take a reaction to halve weapon damage from attacks they can see.

High Elven Dale

Level 5 bower

Elven settlements are a patchwork of bower effects, beyond the scope of this document to enumerate. You can approximate an elven dale with the hallow spell: celestials, fiends and undead cannot enter the bower nor charm, frighten or possess creatures the bower; attuned creatures in the bower can cast misty step (recharge 5-6).

Common Goblin Warren

Level 1 bower

Goblins are a plague wherever they might appear. In some worlds, they are nothing more than violent tribal humanoids, but in others, they are the atrophied descendants of a race of fey shapeshifters. Their magic is gone from their descendents, but in places where the old ways are still observed, goblins can sometimes reclaim a spark of their former might. This spark often drives their mortal frame mad, but a true goblin embraces this state. The powers of a goblin warren wax and wane with some chaotic flux; this aetheric tide receding is reduced the civilization of goblins to its current state. As the goblin moon waxes, the warrens will no doubt increase in strength and number.

Sign: Totems and Goblin-stink: Goblins smell bad, and the ur-goblin state to which they aspire permits even less soap than that. Their territory is marked with gristly totems, which carry the carrion stench afield. Creatures entering the miasmic stench are poisoned for 24 hours, DC 8 constitution save prevents and ends; a success ends the effect and grants immunity for a like duration.

Sign: Spoilage: Any item which would spoil if left on a sunny table for a week spoils in 1 minute within the bower.

Trait: Fey Goblins: Goblinoids that are attuned to the warren are considered fey creatures, not humanoids. Effects specific to the humanoid(goblinoid) subtype still affect them, but effects to the more general humanoid type do not.

Trait: Goblin Magic: Attuned fey creatures learn and can cast the cantrips chill touch, dancing lights or minor illusion at will; attuned creatures with 3 hit dice can also cast hideous laughter 1/day, and once per day (across the whole bower) a single attuned creature with 5 hit dice may cast one of alter self, enlarge/reduce, or invisibility.

Hag Hut

Level 7 bower

A lonely old cottage in the woods… but made of candy. An altar to some dark power, tended by a lonely nun. A castle surrounded by a thorny thicket, its inhabitants transformed to animals, a single enchantress roaming its halls. The home of a hag — or frequently, a group of foul sisters — is often a magical place and its layered enchantments eventually take on some of the character of its inhabitants. A hag that dwells within the hut dedicates herself to her pursuits and pleasures, learning dark secrets and becoming, if anything, even more twisted.

Sign: Impossible: Hags do not generally have taste or decorum. As their use of shadowstuff improves, the land takes on some of its quasi-real character. Stone and wood become somewhat pliable, taking on the textures of candies or hard cheeses. Water becomes viscous like syrup or whiskey. Grass, green and brittle, like sugar candy. This is a surface effect; a dungeon of stone remains inviolate, though the bars must be thicker.

Trait: Spellcasting: The weird sisters who dwell in the hut gain access to unusual powers. Collectively, attuned creatures may cast (without preparation, with the indicated number of slots per level pooled across all attuned creatures)

7th level (1/day): plane shift, simulacrum

6th level (2/day): eyebite, flesh to stone, programmed illusion

5th level (2/day): legend lore, scrying, seeming

4th level (3/day): arcane eye, hallucinatory terrain, polymorph

3rd level (4/day): bestow curse, fear, fly

2nd level (4/day): suggestion

1st level (4/day): silent image

These slots may only be withdrawn or regenerated while within the bower, though can be brought away if needed.

Trait: Wandering: The bower doesn’t generally stay still. It can move in a variety of ways, but the important thing is that its highest level (or hit dice) inhabitant can determine its movement, and that it moves at 30 feet per round, whether that be teleportation, walking, flight, or burrowing.

Bower Action: Alert: The bower alerts each attuned creature to danger. That creature gains +1d4 on attack rolls and saving throws for 1 round and cannot be surprised during that round.

Bower Action: Curse: One creature which is the subject of a bestow curse spell has the duration of the spell made permanent.

Bower Action: Assist: Casts animate objects with a duration until this ability is used again, creating up to 10 small objects; medium count as 2, large 4 and huge eight, under the command of the bower (as directed by the highest level or hit die attuned creature).

Merfolk Pool

Level 2 bower

Merfolk have dealings with terrestrial folk betimes, and when they do, the areas in which they come to dwell become magical. Merfolk who do these things might be called selkies, or those might be a different creature in your world.

Sign: Coral: The presence of undersea visitors brings the trappings of the deep with them. The shores and cliffs of a merfolk pool are chased with colorful coral, and vibrant with sealife.

Trait: Sea legs: Attuned creatures may grow legs or merfolk fins at the end of each long rest in the pool. Fins grant a swim speed equal to walking speed + 10 feet and water breathing, while legs grant a walk speed 10 feet slower than swim speed and air breathing. The effect reverts at the end of the next long rest.

Trait: Current events: Once per short rest, one attuned creature may cast sending, targeting any creature currently within or attuned to any merfolk bower.

Sprite Glade

Level 4 bower

When most folk imagine an  enchanted fairy’s home, this is what they’re picturing. The area is filled with fireflies and floating balls of light, there is the sound of ethereal bells and laughing, good smells and the golden light of twilight. The center of the glade is where the sprites and the noble sprites hold court, centered around a pool or fountain.

Sign: Dancing Lights: The lights, sounds and smells within the glade are that of a forest at dusk, alive with fireflies.

Trait: Twilight Fade: Attuned creatures ending their turn in the bower without having attacked or cast spells or used abilities which targeted unwilling creatures turn invisible until they break this requirement or their concentration ends.

Bower Action: Interloper Polymorph: The next non-attuned creature to attack or cast a spell which includes an unwilling attuned creature is polymorphed (per the spell; DC 14 saving throw) into a CR 0 beast.

Bower Action: Interloper Confusion: All non-attuned creatures are subject to the confusion spell (DC 14).

Bower Action: Interloper Geas: The next non-attuned creature to kill an attuned creature (via an attack or a spell) is subject to a geas: the next attuned creature to see them can see their crime and pronounce the geas, as though they were the caster.

Treant Grove

Level 5 bower

A treant is a sort of shepherd of trees, able to awaken them to their call. When treants hold their councils in areas of old magic, those trees never fully return to sleep, and the treants themselves find a magic of a different tempo flowing like sap through their roots.

Sign: Faces: Trees, even unawake trees in the area, ape life. They watch, and they listen, and they consider. The boles of trees form humanoid faces and seem to change expressions at a geological pace.

Trait: Listening Leaves: Attuned creatures speak with plants continuously, and the plants in the bower are terrible gossips.

Trait: Fey Treants: Plant creatures attuned to the grove are considered fey creatures instead.

Trait: Cycle of Seasons: Attuned creatures gain one of the following traits, depending on local season and climate:

Trait: Spring Quickening:

Damage Resistance: fire (or, if the creature had vulnerability, it is simply canceled out)

Spring attack: Attuned creatures may use a bonus action each round to dash or withdraw while in the bower. Taking cold damage suppresses this trait for one round.

Trait: Summer Bounty: Attuned creatures have regeneration 15 while in the bower. Taking a critical hit from a slashing weapon or any amount of cold damage suppresses this trait for one round.

Trait: Autumn Grandeur: Attuned creatures have a charming or frightening gaze, chosen when they acquire this trait. Both work the same way: A DC 15 Wisdom saving throw the first time the first time each round a victim sees a creature with this trait within the bower; failure imposes the named condition until the beginning of the creature’s next turn, and subsequent sightings within the same round simply inflict the indicated condition. This trait is suppressed on any attuned creature which is not at full hit points.

Trait: Grim Winter: Attuned creatures gain two properties:

Damage Resistance: cold, necrotic, poison

Winter Fortitude: Attuned creatures that are reduced to 0 hit points may make a Constitution saving throw, DC 10 or half the damage taken (whichever is higher). If this saving throw succeeds, they have 1 hit point. This trait is suppressed if the creature leaves the bower or takes fire damage.

Troll Bridge

Level 3 bower

Trolls that dwell at crossroads, at bridges, at liminal spaces find themselves with a steady diet of travelers. When that crossroads includes a fey crossing, their diet likely includes a hearty helping of fairy animals, sprites, and fey goblins. The magico-ecological damage this deals scars the area with angry fey magic seeking a target — and the troll is, perversely, immune.

Sign: Itty Bitty Bones: The bridge is likely littered with the gnawed carcasses and cavalierly plucked wings of previous meals.

Sign: Despairing Laughter: Though there are no visual changes, the area is hushed. There is little insect life, and the occasional sounds of a dirge, broken laughter, or sobbing can be heard far off.

Trait: The Limit of Genius: Unattuned creatures in the bower are punished for trying to lie or outwit attuned creatures. An unattuned creature making a Charisma (Deception) check or any Intelligence check has disadvantage on the check and takes 1d12 psychic damage if either roll fails — 4d12 psychic if both do. They hear mocking laughter as they take the damage.

Trait: The Limit of Skill: Unattuned creatures in the bower are punished for trying to hide from attuned creatures. An unattuned creature making a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics, Stealth) check or becoming invisible takes 1d12 psychic damage at the beginning of each round until they leave the area or else make obvious their position and apologize, loudly (they feel the urge to do this the entire time). It is a feeling not unlike having a juicy secret, but deadlier.

Trait: The Triumph of Brawn: All strength based melee weapon attacks (attuned or unattuned) made in the bower deal half-damage on misses.

My en5ider article got rejected part 1: Fey Terrain

It was an extremely kind rejection to receive 🙂

I’m kind of okay with it, frankly: it means I can 1) post much of it it here on my blog without agonizing over editing it and making it correct (suckers! You’re getting the raw stuff!) and 2) I’m pretty busy with work these days, so anything that means less responsibility is ok by me.

Without further ado: how the sausage are made.

Terrain Effects

Fey terrain is similar to mundane terrain, but often more so: thorns are sharper, toxins more psychedelic, roots more grasping. The specific effects encountered depend on where you’re encountering the fey, of course.

Arctic terrain effects


This lightly obscuring fog looks like a simple mist, but consists of razor-sharp crystals of ice suspended in midair. A DC 10 Wisdom(Perception) or Intelligence(Investigation) check while investigating it allows a character to discover the hazard. Icemist banks tend towards the small size in areas of extreme cold.

Every five feet of movement icemist deals 1 cold damage and, if the victim takes the cold damage, 4 piercing damage. Any amount of fire damage destroys ice mist in its area, as do strong winds. Destroyed patches reform after 1 minute.

Coastal terrain effects

Vortex Sands

A cross between stable ground and a pitching ocean, these unquiet dunes heave with the tides and are extremely obvious to travelers. Creatures starting their turn or entering within a region of tidal sands take 10 bludgeoning damage and fall prone (a DC 10 strength saving throw halves the damage and negates the prone). A proned creature is pulled 10 feet towards the center of the patch, cannot move towards the edges for one round, and has disadvantage on this save for one round.

Desert terrain effects

Seeming Sand

A creature seen against a background of seeming sand — surrounded on all sides by at least 10’ of the sand — is extremely difficult to see. Attacks against them are made with disadvantage. This effect is negated if the attacker doesn’t use sight or can pierce illusions.

Silent Oasis

Any creature drinking water directly from this oasis gains the effects of a sanctuary spell (DC 10) for 24 hours and must make a DC 10 wisdom saving throw to leave the area. The waters are surrounded by the bones of carnivorous predators and the hum of herbivorous insects.

Forest terrain effects

Thick Growth

Creatures must spend 4 feet of movement to move 1 foot through this thick and tangled space.

Thirsting Roots

Blood spilled in the same space as these roots awakens them; note that the roots can travel quite some distance from their central tree, hundreds of feet at least. Creatures that end their turns or enter onto thirsting roots while at half their hit points or fewer risk being grabbed (DC 13 Strength or Dexterity saving throw), or if grabbed restrained, or if restrained taking 10 (3d6) necrotic damage. A given 5 foot patch of roots has AC 12 and 10 hit points, vulnerability to fire, immunity to bludgeoning, poison, and psychic damage.

Crowding Hedge-oak

These huge trees (statistics as animated trees but they do not attack) move when unobserved, particularly to create, change or obscure paths through their wood. Attempts to navigate an area with active crowding hedge-oaks are at +5 DC.

Grassland terrain effects


The whistle of wind through these reeds sounds like the pipes of a bard. Satyr’s panpipes are often made of songreeds. Anyone hearing a songreed increases their maximum hit points by 5 and their current hit points to match, until the end of their next short rest.

Mountain terrain effects


Stone permanently under a phasing effect, this stone can be phased through by creatures and objects as though not present. This effect can occasionally be one way, creatures taking 1d10 force damage per 5 feet passed “backwards”. The stone can be recognized with a DC 10 Intelligence (History) check.

Swamp terrain effects


This spongy sphagnum is difficult terrain. Each 5 feet of movement across its surface has a 25% chance of releasing a 10 foot radius cloud of bilious yellow gas; a dried treatment has a 100% chance of doing so if exposed to flame. The gas causes creatures beginning or entering the cloud to spend their turn retching and reeling. A DC 10 Constitution save negates or ends; a successful save grants immunity for 24 hours. A cloud disperses after 10 minutes (1 minute, dried).

Underdark terrain effects


Gravity near a mass of fey lodestone can behave erratically. Candle flames flicker or turn to balls of light, hair or clothing whips in unseen winds, and eventually even doughty knights may find themselves falling into a wall or ceiling. Weak lodenfloor, or -walls, or even -ceilings merely imposes disadvantage on ranged attacks that pass within ten feet of the surface and allow tiny creatures to stand on it as though it were the ground, regardless of orientation. Strong lodenfloor or other surfaces actually attract all creatures that pass within 60 feet of the surface. Depending on construction, this might result in a sixty foot fall upwards.

On Magical Beasts (and Domesticity)

I’m not going to claim with a straight face that D&D doesn’t have enough magical beasts. It’s got them for days, covering the ABCs (Axebeaks, Basilisks and Cockatrices). But what’s interesting to me is that it doesn’t have your magical-treasure-magical beasts: a sparrow to help you get dressed for the ball, a goose that lays golden eggs, an oracular pig named Hen Wen.

Humans have a long history with animals, and myth is replete with animal companions to match. But the game isn’t, and I have no idea why. Easy to fix, though!

Auroch of Strength (uncommon, requires attunement)

This prehistoric bull (stats as giant boar) brings strength and power to its owner and multiplies their herds.

Firstly, a cow herd containing at least one auroch bull produces twice the normal number of fine cows.

Secondly, after the first calf of this sort is born, the owner of the bull gains attunement and while attuned, a strength and constitution score of 13 (+1) unless that score were already higher. Also, while attuned, gain an additional d12 hit die at the end of each long rest.

Eating the heart of an auroch confers ogre strength of 19(+4) for 1 hour.

Attunement is broken by removing the auroch from the herd for 24 hours.

Cat, Half-Noble (uncommon)

The fecund King of Toms has many byblows, who often get themselves into scrapes. Should the services of one be retained (statistics as panther with an intelligence of 10), it will bring wealth and good fortune to its owner. The next nine times its owner rolls a 1 on any die, they must reroll that die.

Cow, Leaping (very rare)

This sweet tempered kine is far more active than its bovine herdmates (statistics as giant goat but with a standing jump of 15 vertical/30 horizontal). She is generally frisky, like an oversized puppy.

The milk of a leaping cow functions as a potion of jump (must be milked 1/day, spoils 1 day). A cheese or butter made from this milk is notably tangy but otherwise nonmagical.

Finally, targeting the leaping cow with the fly spell allows the caster to transfer concentration to the cow.

Dog, Bad (uncommon, cursed, requires attunement)

This small-sized dog (statistics as jackal with a malign int 18) is manipulative, noisy, rude, ugly, and lazy. Its copious effluesence poisons those except its owner who smell it (10 feet of the dog or owner, or anywhere in their lair, DC 10 constitution save negates, repeated at the end of each round, and grants immunity for 24 hours). Its indolence spreads to its owner, whose speed is reduced by 10 feet. It will break things and blame its human.

The owner of a bad dog is generally under the delusion that it is a good dog (q.v.). Breaking this belief requires remove curse.

Dog, Good (common)

This small-sized dog (statistics as jackal) is friendly, helpful, polite, attractive, and diligent. It can ferry messages per the animal messenger spell at will. It can also assist in minor household chores (fetching, herding and carrying mostly). Finally, some vermin (bats, rats, ravens and wererats) are frightened of the dog when they enter or begin within 60 feet while it is barking. A DC 10 wisdom save negates, repeated at the end of each round, and grants immunity for 24 hours.

Fish, Babel- (uncommon)

This 1″ minnow lives in ear canals and learns languages very very quickly. After attempting a conversation for 1 minute, it enables its host to understand, but not speak, that language with that listener for 24 hours. The initial misunderstanding period must be repeated each day with each listener.

This is why most important meetings have at least 1 minute of unimportant time-wasting before they can get down to business.

Goose, Golden egg laying (rare)

This goose lays a 25gp golden egg every 1d4 days for as long as it lives. The weight of gestating eggs prevents the goose from flying, or even moving at other than a swift waddle.

Cooking and consuming the goose has the effect of a heroes feast on the celebrants.

Hawk, Seeking (rare)

This hawk can find any named creature, object or substance (as locate creature or locate object). Once this ability is used, the hawk must feed and rest for one day before it can be used again.

Hound, Faithful (common, requires attunement)

This hound is uncommonly intelligent and helpful (stats as a mastiff). It may be bonded as a familiar by feeding it. As a standard consequence of serving as a familiar it may no longer attack; note that it instead will defend or harry foes on behalf of its master.

The lifespan of a faithful hound is exactly that of its master.

Mouse, Companion (uncommon)

This friendly fellow likes to hang out in a pocket. When its owner is subject to a confusion or insanity effect which a per-round save can end, their pre-programmed behavior instead reads “spends their next action petting the mouse — at which point they automatically roll a 20 on their saving throw against the inflicting ability”.

Rooster, Illuminated (rare)

Undead and fiends within 60 feet of a golden rooster heralding the dawn take 10 radiant damage, DC 10 wisdom save for half. The rooster may be fooled into heralding the dawn, but it will require more and more elaborate pranks, and will do so no more than once per day in any case.

The rooster’s comb gives light as a candle.

Songbird, Golden (uncommon)

This bird is often kept caged; if free, it attempts to escape (tiny magical beast, fly 60, 1 hp, AC 12, str -4, dex +1). Once per day, it either sings with the effect of a calm emotions or enthrall spell of the cage-holder’s choice.

Squid Hat (rare)

This land-based cephalopod is happy on a humanoid head. Beyond inimitable style, its bearer understands the speech of aberrations and has resistance to psychic damage.

Owl, Tutelary (uncommon, requires attunement)

This small beast is drawn to the uneducated or the foolhardy and discourses on its many areas of expertise at them, especially while they are trying to fall asleep. It may select to  treat itself as its conversant’s familiar, per the find familiar spell (even if the conversant is not a spellcaster).

After spending one month in conversation with the owl, the conversant gains attunement. While attuned to the tutelary owl, the conversant has an intelligence and wisdom score (each) of 13 (+1), unless that score were already higher.

The owl itself is trained (+3) in one intelligence or wisdom based skill (other than perception) and speaks two languages.

Pig, Oracular (uncommon)

This pig can cast augury once per week without any material components and has an intelligence of 10 — it understands, but still cannot speak, at least one human language. It has free will, and therefore must be induced to augur; supplicatory apples are recommended.