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Monday, September 26, 2016

What Happens When You Die in Dungeons & Dragons

I've been meaning to write this one for a while. Today, I want to look at death in D&D. First we will go over the death rules from the 5e Player's Handbook and then we will look at what happens to your soul once you move on. At the end, I'll give you the multi-edition version of the afterlife that I like to use in my campaigns with the Raven Queen and all that good stuff.

Death (PH page 197)

Dropping to 0 Hit Points:
  • You're unconscious.
  • Make a death save each turn. Roll a d20. 10 or higher is a success, lower is a failure. Once you have three successes, you are stable and you stop making death saves. On your third failure, you die. If you roll a natural 20 on a death save, you regain one hit point. If you roll a 1, that counts as two failures.
  • Damage at 0 HP: If you take damage, you suffer a death saving throw failure. If you are hit by a critical hit, you suffer two failures.
Stabilizing the Dying: DC 10 Wisdom (Medicine) check. Success = You have 0 hit points, are unconscious and you are stable (no death saves required). You regain 1 hit point after d4 hours.

Instant Death: When damage reduces you to 0 hit points and there is damage remaining, you die if the remaining damage equals or exceeds your hit point maximum (no death saves - you're just dead).

Spells that Bring the Dead Back to Life

Raise Dead (PH page 270): Creature must have died within the last ten days. It doesn't restore body parts. It takes an hour to cast and you need a diamond worth 500 gp.

Reincarnate (PH page 271): This spell actually forms a new body for the character. You roll on a chart for a new race. It takes an hour to cast and the components cost 1,000 gp.

Resurrection (PH page 272): This works on creatures that have been dead for up to 100 years. It also restores body parts. It takes an hour to cast and you'll need a diamond worth 1,000 gp.

What the Core 5th Edition Books Say About the Afterlife

Good Souls go to Elysium: Spirits of good creatures go to the plane of Elysium (Dungeon Master's Guide page 43). Elysium (DMG page 60) The flavor text is strong with this one. "Tranquility seeps into the bones and souls of those who enter the plane. It is the heaven of a well-earned test, a place where tears of joy glisten on many a cheek."

Dead Gods: When gods die, they become giant stone corpses that float in the astral plane (DMG page 47).

Claiming Souls: Some souls are claimed by the gods of the Upper Planes. Some souls are claimed by the rulers of the Lower Planes. Unclaimed souls become larvae (DMG page 63) and appear on the Grey Waste of Hades. The larvae is medium-sized and it has the face of its mortal form. It has dim memories of who it once was. Night hags harvest them.

Empyreans Can't Die: (MM page 130) Empyreans are children of the gods. If they are slain, their parents just bring them back to life.

You Can't Become an Angel: (MM page 15) are formed from the astral essence of benevolent gods and are thus divine beings of great power and foresight. Mortals do not become angels when they die!

Fun Fact About Solars: (MM page 18) There's 24 of them, total. Only a few are known. It might be fun to look through old products and see if we can name every solar that have been published.

How to Become Undead

I thought it might be fun to list who can become undead in 5e under what circumstances. Here's what I dug up:

Anyone: You can become a mummy! A priest of a death god needs to do a ritual on your corpse to animate you. 

Creature Slain by a Shadow: Becomes a shadow! (MM page 269)

Dragons: (MM page 84) Dragons can use ancient rituals and necromantic energy to transform themselves into dracoliches.

Elves: Elves who used their beauty to corrupt others become banshees when they die (MM page 23).

Evil Beings That Perished in Anguish: Become Will-o'-wisps (MM page 301).

Evil Creatures: The spirit of a slain evil creature can be bound to a scarecrow (MM page 268).

Evil Mortals: Mortals who are shunned or cursed by the gods become demons (usually manes) MM page 50. "Souls of evil creatures that descend to the lower planes are transformed into manes."

Evil Mortals Who are Really, Really Evil: Become wraiths (MM page 302).

Human Babies: Hags eat a human baby and then one week later they give birth to a daughter who grows up to look just like their hag mother.  

Humanoids Bitten by Vampires: They become vampire spawn under the control of the vampire (MM page 295).

Humanoids Who Can't Pass on to the Afterlife: They become specters (MM page 279). They are created either through dark magic or when a wraith rips a soul from a body.

Humanoids With Unfinished Business: Those who have an unresolved task from life become ghosts (MM page 147). 

Liches: A lich who doesn't feed souls to its phylactery becomes a demilich (MM page 49).

Mortals Corrupted by a Succubus: Once a mortal commits betrayals of thought, word and deed, their soul belongs to the succubus. The succubus kills them and their soul is sent to either the Abyss or the Nine Hells.

Mortals Driven by Dark Desires: When they die, Orcus or a god of the underworld grants them undeath to make war on the living.

Mortals Who Deal with Devils: (MM page 66) Devils love to make contracts with mortals, all of which are enforced by the will of Asmodeus. "Any mortal creature that breaks such a contract instantly forfeits its soul, which is spirited away to the nine hells." To own a creature's soul is to have absolute control over them. "Only divine intervention can release a soul after a devil has claimed it."

Mortals Who Met an Undeserving Fate: Rise up as a revenant (MM page 260) to claim revenge.

Murderers: If you cut off the severed hand of a murderer, a necromancer can make it a crawling claw (MM page 45). I think technically most adventurers are murderers.

Other Evil Mortals: "When the soul of an evil mortal sinks into the Nine Hells, it takes on the physical form of a wretched lemure."

Paladins: When a paladin who fell from grace and never atoned for it dies, they rise up as a death knight (MM page 48).

Soldier: A soldier or knight who dies on the battlefield might become a phantom warrior (Curse of Strahd page 235)

Wizards Who are Dead: Sometimes spellcasters will turn the remains of wizards into flameskulls (MM page 134).

Wizards Who Are Evil: A wizard can use an ultra-secret arcane ritual to become a lich.

Wizards Who Read Alot: Some wizards who spend their lives looking up arcane secrets end up transforming into a Nothic through a curse of Vecna (MM page 236).

Multi-Edition D&D Afterlife

This is what I do for the afterlife in my campaigns. For some reason, I put a lot more thought into what happens when evil people die.

The Raven Queen Judges Your Soul: The Raven Queen, goddess of death, is in charge of safeguarding a soul's passage to whatever lays beyond. Above her citadel (Zvomarana, Fate's Palace, in the Shadowfell) is a maelstrom of swirling souls that shine like stars.

There is a magical lattice that sends most of the souls along automatically. Once in a while, she intercedes and judges a soul.


Her sorrowsworn agents fly up and grab the soul and bring it to her. There's actually flavor for this in the Shadowfell boxed set:

"A soul falls through the air to burst onto the floor before the Raven Queen's seat in an eruption of light and in an instant, it regains its mortal form and sinks to its quavering knees before the god of death. The Raven Queen seems to take no interest in its plight. Her face impossible to read, she fixes her gaze upon it, searching its features in silent judgment."

I say that each soul is marked with their alignment or the symbol of their god or whatever.

Lost Souls: Some souls end up lost and are snatched up by planar beings (like hags). The Raven Queen's sorrowsworn do their best to find and rescue these wayward souls.

Vorkhesis, son of the Raven Queen

Powerful Souls: This is from the Shadowfell boxed set. "When a powerful hero or villain dies, the Raven Queen might choose to hold the person's soul in her realm, whether at the behest of another god or for her own inscrutable reasons." Vorkhesis, Master of Fate, guards them in his Hall of Final Fate.

Vorkhesis knows the fate of every creature that has lived.


Now You Are a Petitioner: Once you are shipped out to whatever your destination is, you become a petitioner. In the Planescape boxed set, it explains that a petitioner is the departed spirit of a mortal who reforms on the plane that matches their alignment. All memories of their past are wiped away. Their personality remains.

Petitioners hate leaving their new home plane. Once the petitioner dies, their essence is merged with their plane and that's the end of them.

If they die outside of their home plane, they are destroyed forever.

Proxies: A proxy is a soul chosen to act as the agent of a god/demon lord/whatever.

Soul Distribution


From there, the soul is either sent to a plane linked to their alignment or to the realm of their god to serve them as a planar being. You could pick your own planes from the handy list on DMG page 58. Here's how I would do it:
  • LG Mount Celestia - Home of Moradin, Bahamut and more.
  • CG I'd go with a homebrewed realm, probably. I don't like any of the choices in the book.
  • NG Elysium or a homebrewed realm.
  • LN Acheron - I love this plane
  • CN Limbo - You become absorbed into the plane, or become part of a chaos elemental.
  • NE The Gray Wastes of Hades - You're a soul larvae being harvested by hags.
  • CE The Abyss - You are a soul larvae or you become a manes.
  • LE Nine Hells - You become a soul shell on the banks of the River Styx.
Soul Larvae
There are a few creatures and weird things that are affiliated with souls in D&D.

Death Giants: (4e MM page 120) They harvest souls. The people they kill are absorbed into a "soul shroud" that contains soul shards. They expend these shards to heal themselves. They live in the Shadowfell but cross over into the material plane often.

Oni Souleaters: (Open Grave page 172): They can harvest souls - pull them right out of your body. They can devour your soul to acquire your memories and learn any languages you speak. The person's body crumbles to dust.

Soul Larvae Herd

Soul Larvae: In 2nd edition, soul larvae appeared in Hades. In 4th edition, they appeared in the Shadowfell. I just say that they show up in both places. There is a huge article in Dragon Magazine Annual 2 that has a ton of info on larvae:
  • Larvae appear on all of the lower planes, but the larvae that appear in the Grey Waste are pure evil. Hags wander the Grey Waste accumulating herds of larvae. They brand them to mark ownership.
  • Liches can use soul larvae to keep their condition (liches need souls for their phylactery).
  • Hags end up with herds of soul larvae
  • Devils and demons can turn soul larvae into quasits or imps.
  • In the Grey Waste, there is a sort of shanty town called The Grande Larvae Emporium. It is right on the banks of the River Styx and it has yugoloth guards. 
  • They make Yellow Wurm Stout there, a liquor made of soul larvae. They also make soul larvae perfume called "Evil."
Demonic Life Cycles

A manes, lowest form of demon
The 4e Demonomicon has a lot of cool ideas to use. The 3e Fiendish Codex I has surprisingly little about souls heading to the Abyss. Here's what we learn:
  • Demons consume souls. That is how they become more powerful types of demons. They can do this by killing creatures with souls, consuming soul larvae or acquiring mortal thralls. Enough soul energy will give the demon the power to control an abyssal realm. Once that is done, they can take a truename and become a full-fledged demon lord.
  • Demons sometimes buy souls from night hags, onis and death giants.
  • One soul larvae is worth 1,000 gp in goods and services.
  • There is actually a chart of effects for what happens if a character eats a soul larvae. It is not pleasant.
  • I would say that when chaotic evil creatures die, they are either absorbed into the Abyss and are spewed out as manes, or they become larvae that appears either in the Abyss or the Grey Waste. Demons can promote the pure evil larvae of the Grey Waste to higher ranks of demon right off the bat.
The Economy of Hell

The Fiendish Codex II is one of my favorite D&D books ever. When you die and go to hell, you become a soul shell.

Soul Shell: You are a rubbery, bedraggled version of yourself and you still have the wounds you suffered when you died.

Fiendish Codex II has a huge section on what happens when you die and go to hell:
  • You materialize on a blood-soaked rock protruding from the River Styx in an area known as the Shelves of Despond on the first layer of Hell.
  • Almost every soul shell has a special mark on them to denote that a particular devil has claimed their soul.
  • Bearded devils, soul collectors on boats, put the new arrivals in cages. The cages are put in carts and shipped off to a torture station.
  • You are brought to a torture station and go through a process that peels off your individuality. A portion of your essence flows to a prominent devil who has staked a claim on you.
  • You are thrown in the Maggot Pit where you are reborn as a mindless lemure.
Unclaimed Soul Shells: Soul collectors barter and brawl to claim them. Sometimes minions of lawful evil gods prowl the banks of the River Styx for unclaimed souls. Each archdevil keeps a bunch of unclaimed souls to use as units of exchange.

So there you go! Now you can whip up your version of the afterlife in your campaign if you haven't already.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Stranger Things Chapter Five: The Flea and the Acrobat

The Party

  • Mike: Dungeon Master Kid
  • Lucas: A molten ball of rage
  • Dustin: Comedic Goofy Kid
  • Eleven: Kid with psychic powers
  • Joyce Byers: Winona! Mother of Will, who is missing.
  • Jon Byers: Her teenage son who is deep and angsty.
  • Officer Jim Hopper: Hopper busts dudes left and right.
  • Nancy: Mike's sister, who is looking for her friend Barb.
  • Steve: Her wanna-be boyfriend, who is akin to walking diarrhea.
  • Dr. Martin Brenner: Matthew Modine, agent looking for Eleven, has had about three lines of mumbled dialogue so far.

Hopper is breaking into the lab. What the.. security pulls guns on him. He ends up punching them out. This guy is definitely a PC.

Winona is in her house with her ex husband. This guy is trying to tell her he's crazy. This dude... I am not a fan. Now they're getting wasted.

The kids have a theory. Will is in the "upside down" world. They relate it to their campaign - "The Vale of Shadows" heh heh. He's in the Shadowfell! They flip open a binder full of D&D stuff...

Wow. I have my friend's dad's 80's binder and it looks exactly like this! It is full of photocopies of Dragon Magazine articles and homemade rules/charts. The binder on the show has the D&D expert set and I think that is the back of the Isle of Dread, too.

Hopper found the portal. Please don't go in there. Here comes security. They got him. He wakes up in his apartment. He trashes his apartment.. he's looking for a bug. Yep. They bugged his place. Looks like the scientists have bugged the homes of some of the main characters.

Funeral preparation montage. Jon wants to go kill that thing in the woods. He gets a gun. He is also a PC!

The kids ask their teacher how to get to another plane and he does this big explanation. He says if there was a gate to another world, it would warp gravity and the electromagnetic field and maybe destroy everything.

Two hunters have gone missing. Hmm

The ex-husband took the Christmas lights down. Somebody punch this guy. Winona realizes he's here for money. She kicks him out. They should have dropped an F-bomb right there. I guess it's not that kind of show.

The kids check their compasses. They see that the electromagnetic field is indeed screwed up.

Oh no. Nancy has a baseball bat and here comes that lame boyfriend guy. He tries to get her to go see a Tom Cruise movie. I hate when this guy tries to be charming. He is rebuffed with extreme prejudice.

I haven't heard the phrase "nuclear family" in forever. It turns out that Nancy is a good shot with a gun.

Eleven has a flashback. I think they want her to kill somebody who is really far away with her psychic powers. The group is following the compass... they're going to end up at the lab. Eleven does not want to go there.

Nancy and Jon are in the woods. They get in an argument. Good god, he utterly destroys her. He says that she thinks she's rebelling by doing what every other suburban girl does when they think they're rebelling. Boom! Roasted!

The kids realize that their compass has taken them in a circle. Lucas figures out that Eleven messed with the compasses with her powers. Lucas, who is very intensely vicious on this show, goes off on her. A fight breaks out and Eleven telekinetically sends that kid flying and knocks him out. Good! When he comes to, he storms off. Eleven is gone, too.

More Eleven flashback. The guy she's supposed to kill - It's a Russian dude. Cold War psychic assassination! She has found him. She's in a quasi-psychic realm. Aha! One of the creatures is here. So it sounds like Eleven is the one who accidentally alerted these creatures to the world of humans.

John and Nancy are in the woods and it is dark. They find a deer. Oh no.. the thing sliced it. The deer is still alive. She wants John to put it out of its misery. Something pulls the deer away.

A bit of searching for the deer and the thing.. Nancy finds a weird, moist hole in a tree. She gets ridiculously close to it. SHE GOES INTO THE HOLE! Don't.. ohh no, it's all cobwebby in there. Are you nuts?

She pops out in the Shadowfell or possibly Barovia. She sees the thing eating the deer. Will her gun work in this world? I wonder if season 2 will deal with a different parallel dimension?

I'm old, so I can't tell when CGI is good or bad, but I think some of you younger people will think this creature looks pretty fake. The thing notices her.

Jon is in our world and he somehow doesn't see the moist hole of the Shadowfell two feet away from him. That's it!


Good show, but too much arguing. I don't like watching people argue in movies and TV shows. They better not try to turn that boyfriend into a good guy. I want to see him get a dish best served cold.

I love the casting on this show. Everyone has a very distinctive, memorable face. A lot of shows feel like they're full of models with geometrically-pleasing faces. On this show, there's a little more room for variety and personality.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Dungeons & Dragons - A Guide to the Plane of Elemental Earth

The Plane of Elemental Earth is a tough one to figure out what to do with. If you've ever been faced with the prospect of running an adventure there, you know what I mean. How do you make it different from the Underdark? What kind of interesting encounters can be made?

I dug through as many old D&D products that I could find to compile all of the material on this plane in one place. When it comes time to use the Plane of Elemental Earth, you can sort through this and pull out the ideas you like.

The Essential Information

  • The Plane of Elemental Earth is one of the Inner Planes.
  • The Sevenfold Mazework: Earth genies have a vast city/labyrinth known as The Sevenfold Mazework.
  • Ogremoch, Evil Elemental Prince of Earth: He lives here on a vast mesa and a plateau made of the dead bodies of his enemies.
  • Sunnis, the Good Elemental Princess of Earth: She opposes Ogremoch. She lives in Sandfall, a cave under a perpetually falling column of sand.
  • Grumbar the Living Mountain: A massive earth deity who lives here as well.
  • Granite Gloom: This locale from Tales of the Outer Planes is a really cool genie lair with geometrically-shaped rooms and a garden of floating crystals. 
  • Earthsblood: This stuff is from Egg of the Phoenix and is a highly sought-after substance with many magical properties.
  • Portals: There are portals to Sigil, Elysium, Hell, the Spine of the World Mountains in the Forgotten Realms and many other elemental planes here.
  • Monoliths: Monoliths are basically greater elementals linked to the plane. 
  • Earth Weirds: These stone women can see into the future.
  • Primordials: There are at least 3 primordials trapped here in some fashion.
  • The Pillars of Creation: These pillars are each made of different types of rock and may hold up the entire plane.
  • Primordial Shards: These are prized magic items that bond with the wielder to give them the power to become an elemental being.
  • Races: It seems like earth genasi and maybe goliaths should have a bigger presence in this plane.
The 5th Edition Plane of Elemental Earth

In the Dungeon Master's Guide on page 52, the inner planes are described as being enveloped in the elemental chaos. The edges of each elemental plane are more inhabitable and are the domains of elementals, the Elemental Princes and others. It is said that the center of the plane of Elemental Earth is solid earth. Other factoids:
  • Opposes the plane of air.
  • It is a chain of mountains bigger than any in the material plane.
  • The largest cavern is known as the Great Dismal Delve or the Sevenfold Mazework.
  • The Furnaces: These mountains are near the plane of Fire. There's a lot of lava and dao forges.
  • The Swamp of Oblivion: This is also known as the Plane of Ooze. This is the region where water and earth connect. An object thrown into the swamp can't be found for at least 100 years. 
There is also mention of what I think is a new locale - The City of Jewels, capital city of the dao:
  • Every building is made from precious stone and metals.
  • The city is guarded by a spell that alerts all of the dao if a single stone is stolen.
  • Theivery is punishable by death and might be extended to the relatives as well.
Princes of the Apocalypse

I'm pretty sure you could take most of the earth node/The Black Geode and repurpose it for the Elemental Plane of Earth. It has a few cool things, like the earth mephits spawning.

Now let's go through old editions and see what we can dig up. We'll start with 1st edition and go up from there.

Tales of the Outer Planes

Tales of the Outer Planes is really goofy in parts, but I have to say this area is really cool. You can take all of these things and do cool stuff with them. There's two scenarios. One involves a captured princess, and the other one is a really weird place infused with radiation.

The Missing Kristal: A dao has captured Princess Kristal and taken her to his lair in the Plane of Elemental Earth, Granite Gloom. A wizard uses plane shift to send the group there.

Here's the flavor: "A wide river flows by the alcove entrance, filling the vaulted cavern from wall to wall. The river's surface is flat and as smooth as glass, despite its speed. Swirling eddies of brown, gray and blue can be seen. Shockingly, this river is made of flowing stone!"

The Well of Thunder: The river eventually spills into a hole in the floor. If you fall in, you die "in the maelstrom of breaking rock below."

The Gravel Lake: You can walk on this, if you are careful.

Kristal is trapped in a crystal garden. The group needs two gemstone keys to get in there.

In Granite Gloom, there's a bunch of weird rooms shaped like cubes or pentagons. There's one that is a sphere with walls made of sand. There is a "demi-power" earth elemental named Jaggak, a distant cousin to Grumbar. He's 60 feet tall. I think he's under the sand. The group is meant to fight just his arm..? If the group annoys Jaggak, his head will pop out of the sand and he will demand a magic item. He somehow knows all of their items, and demands one of the three most powerful items.

The Crystal Garden: It is full of floating crystals of all colors. Some are the size of a house.
Several of thee crystals are magical prisons. From the outside, all you can see is a dark shape moving in it. One of the prisoners is Kristal. The others:
  • A Marid who was tricked into getting trapped.
  • A basilisk
  • "13 exotic creatures of the elemental plane of earth"
The Radioactive Lair: There is also a dao lair. The dao is named... Rockhead. Yes, "Rockhead." He trades precious gems for lead. His lair is at the center of a uranium vein, so it is radioactive. The group must "protect themselves with a leaden shield or die."

Failing two saves means that your hair falls out, you're nauseous and you will lose d10 hit points per day until dead or magically cured.

Egg of the Phoenix

Egg of the Phoenix is a gigantic adventure that takes you to the Negative Material Plane and many other places. There are quite a few links to the elemental planes.

To start with, the kingdom has a miracle substance called Earthsblood. It is black, liquid goo and in many ways is portrayed similar to the role of oil in our world. Earthsblood might be the secretion of a great creature living deep in the heart of the earth. It:
  • Lights homes
  • Powers furnaces
  • Provides materials for wizards
  • Heals the sick
  • Cure baldness!!
  • Smells bad
The group has to make their way to a place called the "Terminal of Planes." This place has portals to a specific location in each of the inner planes. The brown portal takes you to The Mesa of Ogremoch.

If the group goes in, here is some of the flavor:

"In the midst of the mesa sits a half-formed giant, a blobby mannequin of clay. The thing's soft features turn to face you, hardly aware of your existence. Yet moments later, the earth shakes under your feet, a great crack opens and your point of view drops deep into the fissure."

While Ogremoch is actually civil with the heroes, later in the adventure he sends elementals and xorn to try to steal the Egg of the Phoenix from them.

Dragon Magazine 77 - Elemental Gods

This article details gods from somebody's home campaign. Maybe you can do something cool with it. Really the best part of this article is the author talking about how awesome their campaign is.

The Allmother: Goddess of birth, farming and fertility. She rules all animals. She has an evil aspect which rules plague, poison and decay.

She has many names: Giver of Gifts, Earthshaker, Bearer of Burdens, Mother of Horses, Pourer of Poison, and Mother of Vipers.

Now let's jump into 2nd Edition, which has a lot of awesome stuff.

The Inner Planes

The Inner Planes is a Planescape supplement that gives a real good look at the Elemental Plane of Earth.

Creatures that dwell in the elemental plane of earth: Crysmal, dao, dao noble, earth elem, earth mephit, galeb duhr, sandman, earth genasi, xorn, svirfneblin (deep gnomes), dragons, basilisks, cockatrices, medusae, goliaths, earth genasi, neogi (who enslave umber hulks) and stone giants.

Grumbar: The Living Mountain, Earth Father. God of earth elementals. Those who visit with him come to a vast wall of stone, on which the face of Grumbar appears.

Elemental War: Sunnis, the Good Elemental Princess of Earth and Ogremoch, the Evil Elemental Princess of Earth fight for supremacy and domination. Grumbar sits by and watches.

Portals:There are a number of known portals to the Plane of Elemental Earth:
  • There are a few in Sigil.
  • Mechanus: The modrons have this giant planet-sized contraption that is somehow powered by continental drift. This machine is an eternal key to elemental earth. It is a one-way portal.
  • Hell (Phlegethos, the fourth layer): Ogremoch's citadel, Stonemire, contains a portal to Hell. It leads to an evil fortress called Abriymoch ruled by a pit fiend. Ogremoch is allied with the pit fiend.The key to this portal is a large diamond, which turns to powder when used. There are guards on either side.
Hazards: We get a list of dangers of the plane:
  • No Air: Some areas have no air.
  • Earthquakes
  • Gas Pocket: Explosive, noxious (stinking cloud), or toxic (cloudkill).
  • Links: Planes of magma, ooze, mineral and dust.
The Kryst: Lawful Good elementals. Earth elementals are also known as "heartfolk."

Fiery Cascade: A stronghold between pockets of elemental fire that has 3 dimensional flaming moats.

Stonemire: Ogremoch's fortress. It has fountains of molten stone, clouds of hot smoke, and geysers of scalding steam. There is a plateau made up of the bodies of his enemies. 

Sandfall: Home of Sunnis, Good Elemental Princess of Earth, the Lode Mother. This is a cavern under a perpetually falling column of sand. The sand falls in bottomless pit. It is built around a gleaming crystal 50 feet across. She likes unique treasures.

Secrets of the Lamp

Secrets of the Lamp is one of my favorite Al Qadim supplements. This thing literally details the entire area known as The Great Dismal Delve.

The Great Dismal Delve: Dao have the most hierarchical society of all elemental races other than the efreets. The sharif is the supreme ruler, ensconced in the race's ancestral home in the Elemental Chaos. This place, called the Great Dismal Delve, is carved into a massive block of freestanding earth. Though the dao constantly bore through its interior, the stone constantly renews itself from within so that they can never remove it all. This cycle of activity spawns great earthquakes that rattle through the Delve.
  • Tunnels and roads lead to the Sevenfold Mazework
  • Full of toiling slaves
  • The dao use Sandmen to capture slaves.
  • There are gem gardens where they grow rare games.
The Sevenfold Mazework: A confusing maze riddled with gates leading to distant regions and a trading center/place at the center of the delve. Population: 10,000 genies, 100,000 slaves (minotaurs, dwarves, etc.) It is dimly lit by light reflected from embedded gems - mica, pyrite, and hematite. Stealing one of these gems is a fine of 500 gold or a year's service to the Khan. Here are the seven mazes:
  • 1st Maze: A maze of arches and balconies full of thousands of slaves. Shining gems are mounted high on the columns of each archway. 
  • 2nd Maze: Tunnels and rooms blocked by stones that must be shifted in the proper sequence.
  •  3rd Maze: Huge, identical halls mirrored with polished metals. There are huge blue mirrors, some of which are secret portals.
  • 4th Maze: A reverse maze where you have to walk through the walls. Walking through the wrong walls lead you back to the beginning.
  • 5th Maze: Made entirely of glass and walls of force. The exit is always visible. Minotaurs lurk here.
  • 6th Maze: The walls and floors shift like puzzles and tesseracts. Looking at this place is said to provoke madness or petrification.
  • 7th Maze: Many tiny tunnels for creatures a foot tall or genies in gaseous form.
Great Khan of the Dao: This genie rules the Dao:
  • Other Titles: The Fountain of wealth, the Stone Sultan, the Carver of Destiny, Balancer of All Earthly Accounts.
  • He is hefty and has a quick wit
  • He is interested in alchemy, mining, and metallurgy
Audience Chamber: The Great Khan lurks in the Hidden Fulcrum of the Dao, a place that is nigh-impossible to get to. It is deep in the Sevenfold Mazework and you will need to bribe guards 10,000 - 80,000 gp to possibly get an audience within the next month. To get there, you must be blindfolded and led through mazework for several hours

The Khan's throne room has mirrors that reflect his image so that you can't tell which one is the real Khan.
  • He asks constant questions
  • Anyone who comes before him are supplicants stripped of wealth. His audience should be humble and poor.
  • Those who come before him must make gifts of their riches.
  • Mortals must refer to him as "The Magnificent." Other dao are "your radiance."
  • His empire is vast and profitable
The Pale River: This river flows from the plane of earth to muddy depths of oyster beds in the plane of water.

The Free Market: You can buy anything here, especially slaves. The market teems with slave traders.

Iron Crucible: Near the mazework is a fiery mountain of molten metal. It is link to plane of fire. The dao come here to trade with efreet - slaves in exchange for magic and precious metals. If you sail on the liquid, you can go the plane of fire or back. Yakfolk sometimes charge tolls in the lava tube tunnel.

Yakfolk: There are a lot of yakfolk here. Up until 5th edition, the dao were forced to serve them. The yakfolk buy slaves to make sacrifices to The Forgotten God in the "Manner Elemental" - They bury people alive daily.

3rd edition has all sort of cool things in weird places, mostly Dragon Magazine. Every once in a while they'd do an elemental-themed issue and they're all really good.

3e Web Enhancement

This page has information on a ton of Forgotten Realms gods. There is an entry on Grumbar.

Grumbar: King of the Land Below the Roots, the Earthlord. He is worshiped by underground races and "those who resist change."

Dragon Magazine 293 - The Elemental Planetouched

Earth Genasi: This race is patient, stubborn, and contemplative. Many are descendants of creatures from the Elemental Plane of Earth. The rest are descended from deities of earth. They have earthlike skin, eyes like gems or black pits, a gravelly voice, iron gray hair, and a metallic sheen on their skin. They can cast pass without trace once per day

There is also a note that there are natural portals to the Elemental Plane of Earth in the Spine of the World mountains in the Forgotten realms.

Shard Wolf

There's a whole article on elemental wolves. How random!

Shard Wolf: Wolves that were swallowed up in fissures created by an angry spirit of Earth. They're made of sharp, jagged stone that looks like shale or flint. Their eyes are pure black and they are ponderous, slow, and deliberate. They actually speak Common.

They usually appear after an earthquake or a a violent tremor. They hunt gnomes and dwarves. They have a special power:

Quaking Howl: Their howl is a 15 foot cone that has effects like the earthquake spell.

Dragon Magazine 306 - By Evil Bound

This article has 18 new demons/devils/"daemons" all by Mike Mearls! It is really crazy how much D&D stuff is out there that's just completely untouched. These monsters are awesome.

Earth Demon: "These chunks of demonic earth are simpletons even by the standards of the elemental demons." They can assume the form of a featureless rock or as a human-shaped statue of a demonic horned warrior. Its face is permanently etched into a leering grin.

They make for bad guardians, as they fall asleep at their post. Their blood is like lava, so melee attacks might cause the attacker to take some fire damage.

Dragon 314 - Dust to Dust: Magic of the Earthborn

The Earthborn is a lawful neutral cult who worship a creature they call the Earthen King. Their king is asleep and they want to awaken him. They believe that their king is on the material plane, but that his true home is in the Elemental Plane of Earth.

New Spells:
  • (lvl 2) Earthen Grace: This spell make damage from stone sources nonlethal. That is tricky to translate to 5e rules. I could you could just say the caster has resistance to these attacks.
  • (lvl 2) Mountain Stance: The caster can be rooted to the ground and cannot be moved.
  • (lvl 2) Stonemantle: You can make an object strong like stone for 10 minute per level.
  • (lvl 3) Tremor: A minor earthquake that disrupts spells, knocks people prone and stuns them for a round.
Magic Items:
  • Ring of Earth's Grasp: Gives bonuses to climbing, grappling an anything involving your grip.
  • Staff of Earthen Might: This staff is loaded up with earth spells, like transmute rock to mud, stone shape, etc.
There's also a prestige class:

Earthshaker: Spellcasters who specialize in earth. They have tremorsense, they can cause tremors, create geysers (!) and at the highest levels, make earthquakes.

Dragon Magazine 347: Princes of Elemental Evil

Ogremoch: There's a big section on how Ogremoch teamed up with the Queen of Chaos (she's the villain who is involved with the Rod of Seven Parts). Yan-C-Bin, Evil Elemental Prince of Air, was an ally of the wind dukes. Ogremoch let he Queen use legions of earth elementals. He actually showed up at the battle of Pesh, the battle where the rod was first shattered.

Ogremoch wants access to the Great Dismal Delve because it has a lot of portals to other planes. He has a truce with the dao, who hold a grudge against him for some ancient slight.

Ogremoch had a dwarf warrior ally named Kaylef, but he fell out of favor. Kaylef wanders the Elemental Plane of Earth wreaking havoc.

Elemental Hazards: Well this is cool! This article has tons of useful stuff that can be encountered in the Plane of Elemental Earth:
  • Adamant Algae: Dark red liquid that doubles the normal healing rate. It's also known as "Blood of the Earth" and many battles occur over control of the stuff.
  • Choke Mold: Bright yellow mold which sucks up oxygen. If you get within 5 feet of it, you begin to suffocate.
  • Ghost Tunnels: Natural passages that appear and disappear. Obviously, passing through one is dangerous and deadly. Make a save or basically you are sucked into stone and crushed.
  • Iron Coal: Coal that burns without smoke. This stuff is pretty valuable.
  • Mineralmites: These things weaken stone. Some call it "rock rot." Crossing a floor with rock rot means a save or you fall into a pit that is d10x5 feet deep.
  • Pure Ore: Really nice, quality metal that is twice as strong as the normal kind.
  • Silent Stones: These pebbles absorb sound. Areas with a lot of silent stones create a silence spell effect. If these are taken to another plane, they crumble to dust in a month.
  • Stoneshrooms: Chalky fungus that releases spores of breathable air and creates air currents throughout the plane. Eating one is the equivalent of an entire meal. For the next 24 hours after eating, you can hold your breath for twice as long as normal.
There are also new elemental monsters. Monoliths are more powerful versions of elementals.

  • Magma Monolith: Not much to them, really. 40 feet tall, ooze magma and they punch you.
  • Magma Element Rhinocerus: It is formed entirely of lava.
Paraelemental beings are immortal and are "formed of the tension between the elemental planes." When one is slain, there is a period of instability until another forms.

Then there's elemental weirds.

Elemental Weirds: Elemental weirds look like beautiful women linked to an element. They have magic powers, are oracles, guard portals and are bound to a certain area. Earth weirds warn of impending doom.

Earth weirds have a cold calculating mindset. Future events are the same as past events to them. To meet with them and gain their knowledge, you must bring them the skull of a thousand year-old lich crushed to powder or a stone that has never been exposed to any sort of light.

They lurk in lightless chasms, mountain peaks and barren tunnels.

Basically, a water weird from the 5e monster manual is an immature, "lesser" water weird. They will eventually become one of these oracles. We also get some magic items:
  • Gloves of Burrowing: These are made from the hide of a xorn and grant the ability to burrow. Once per day, you can mold stone like clay.
  • Sling Boulder: Wow, a magic sling boulder. I don't think I've ever seen one before. This one turns into a giant boulder in mid-air. They can only be used once each.
4th edition has all sorts of weird stuff that can be used.

Manual of the Planes

Vezzuvu the Burning Mountain: A primordial that is trapped in a field of radiance, partially phased out of reality.

The Head of Balcoth, the Groaning King: A primordial with a face of ash and cinders that is buried in a cave, unable to muster his power until he can re-form his body.

The Keening Delve: Not far from City of Brass is this mass of blood-red rock. This is the ancient stronghold of a dead primordial named Haemnathuun. Those who travel in it hear echoes of his dying screams. There are slaads and elementals here, driven mad by the echoes. There is a crystalline heart at the center that could bring Haemnathuun back to life.

Plane Below

The Stone Council: This is a band of elementals served by hill giants, dwarves, kobolds, and earth elementals. They rule Allrock, an earthmote and they want to expand their empire. They are not too smart.

Plastron of Tziphal: This is an artifact - a breastplate of dark stone. It merges with your flesh to turn your skin to rocky armor like plate mail. It hates the gods and wants to bring Tziphal back to life. Tziphal, a primordial, isn't really detailed. He is apparently dead and is buried in a place called Mountain Builder's Burrow and is staggeringly huge. It's a mini dungeon in the book.

The Aviary: There is a 15 mile pocket of air that is home to winged elves (Avariel) and their city. Visitors can rent pairs of wings.

Caverns Under the Stars: This is a pyramid chamber 30 miles to a side. The upper half of it looks like the night sky. It is a sprawling city ruled by Geb, a deity married to Nut, an Egyptian god. There is a portal to the plane of Elysium here.

Irdoc Morda: Iron archons rule this earthmote. Their leader is the  Twice-Forged General. They are building the largest spelljammer ever conceived with an iron hull to launch attacks from. There are deposit of new types of metal that makes archons behave weirdly. There are 3 watchtowers armed with scrying magic.

Pillars of Creation: These are massive columns that may hold up an entire plane. There is one that is a jagged tree of crystalline minerals, and another that is a column of muck.

Heroes of the Elemental Chaos

Primordial Shards: These multicolored crystals might be remnants of fallen primordials. They are made of crystallized ichor and have powers like magic items. They can bond with a mortal and turn it them into an elemental, partly of wholly.

Tablet of Ad-Baraz: Etched onto this clay tablet is a list of names, the identities of those primordials defeated in a time now largely forgotten.


An elementary look at the planes
Forgotten Realms wikia has a great page of concise details
The "I" series of AD&D adventures

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Dungeons & Dragons - Priestess: Ancient World Divine Class
Today I'm going to check out a DMs Guild product by Jason Bradley Thompson, who does the walkthrough maps that I like so much. He made a new class for 5e - the Priestess. The class is not restricted to one gender, which I'll talk more about below.

You can buy this right here.

Disclosure: I was given a review copy of this product.

I am not a big numbers guy or a character-making guy. As a DM, I am primarily interested in cool ideas. So I was a little apprehensive about checking this out, but I flipped through it and saw that it is overloaded with great ideas.

Quality: This pdf is 22 pages long and extremely professional-looking. The layout is fantastic, the art is great and the material inside is very well thought out. They took the time to consider all possibilities with the concept and then hammered out the details.

I can tell you right off the bat that I'd make a Priestess character in a heartbeat.

The Idol

A priestess is connected to an "idol," a statue related to their deity. This book won me over completely just by showing that your character's idol can be the demon statue from the 1e AD&D PH cover. How awesome would that be? You could buy this mini and live life on the razor's edge.

A Priestess is proficient with no armor at all. Yikes.

Idol Progression: The priestess starts out with a tiny idol. As they gain levels, they need to get idols that are bigger in size. By 13th level, they need an idol that is Large.

If the idol of a priestess is lost or destroyed, they can't regain spells until they get another one! They have a special spell called "Repair Idol" which can solve this dilemma.


Your idol can grant you boons, which you can save ("boon points," basically). Those boons can be spent to get special benefits. There is a limit to how many boons you can hold onto that increases as you level. Spending one boon might give you temporary hit points, while spending seven might let you fuse your consciousness with the idol and go on a rampage. You can still cast spells in this form! How awesome is that?


Gaining boons depends on which type of idol you have. Here are some of them:

Bloodthirsty Aspect: You gain boons when you kill creatures within 5 feet of the idol. There are specific counts for how many creatures must die for you to gain a boon and everything.

Resplendent Aspect: You must offer money to the idol or buy food for other followers of your god. I love this idea. You could do a lot of fun in-game things during a big feast like that.

Mortifying Aspect: Egad. You can hurt yourself as a bonus action to automatically hit your opponent! If you subsequently gain any kind of healing during that battle, the idol is displeased. There is a big section on how to redeem yourself in the eyes of your idol.

Spells and Powers

As you gain levels, you gain special powers. My favorites:
  • You can share boons with your party.
  • Nonbelievers who touch your idol take damage!
  • See through the eyes of the idol and cast spells through it.
  • There are a couple of ways to bring your idol to life for a short time (up to 10 rounds, more or less). You have to save up your boons for it, so it's a pretty special thing when you finally unleash it.
Every few levels, you get to pick a power for your idol. There's a million of them! My favorites:
  • Spend a boon to raise a zombie minion for ten minutes.
  • Humanoids, giants and fey who come close have to make a save or be awed by the idol's beauty. They are charmed!
  • The idol speaks. Sometimes the priestess controls what it says, other times the idol speaks on its own. I could do a million things with that.
New Spells: There are about 8 new spells in here, many of which deal with the idol. You can make it come to life and attack for a moment, which will be really epic once you hit 9th level and your idol is Huge. My favorite spells:
  • Kiss of Passion: You kiss a willing creature and heal them. You're also immune to exhaustion for up to one minute. I'll add this to my Planescape campaign post-haste.
  • A floating disk spell specifically tailored to transport some of the heavier idols around.

I think this is a really great class. It is very well conceived and presented. I don't really have any criticisms, but a few things stuck out to me.

"Priestess": There are some players who don't like playing characters of one gender or the other. I had a number of players in the past who wouldn't play a female character. I had others who only played females. I think that when people who don't want to play female characters see the name of this product, they might just pass it by.  

Sacrifices: The Bloodthirsty Aspect is awesome, but to regain spells during a long rest you need to sacrifice a number of creatures. Quite a few creatures! It suggests that livestock could be used as sacrifices. It seems like the whole idea of ritualistic sacrifices might cause problems with some parties. I could see quite a few of my players not wanting to team up with someone who makes sacrifices to their god all of the time.

Cheeseballs: The Mortifying Aspect Priestess regains spells by maintaining a state of ritual purity. There is a list of 10 restrictions which you must pick three of. Your character has to stick to those restrictions forever.

Some of the restrictions are really great: Don't drink, don't have sex, don't speak except to pray. But I can see some cheesy players taking these three:
  • You can not consume spices.
  • You can not cut your fingernails.
  • You can not cut or groom your hair.
It's tricky to figure out restrictions that have a tangible effect on the character without hampering them too much. I think you need the right type of player for this aspect.


This thing is just three bucks and it is of professional caliber. It was meticulously crafted and very well done. I can imagine this adding a lot of fun moments to your campaign. If the Priestess sounds at all interesting to you, you should definitely check it out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dice, Camera, Action: Episode 23 - Curse of Strahd

Title: Van Richten's Wild Ride
The Party

(Anna) Evelyn - Human Paladin of Lathander
(Nathan) Paultin - Human Bard 
(ProJared) Diath - Human Rogue
(Holly) Strix - Tiefling Sorcerer

Last Time: The group is in the Amber Temple. Strix was killed by some vampire spawns. Chris confirmed on twitter that the spawns cannot turn her into a vampire.

Paultin went through a portal to the Amber Temple. He's down below where the vestiges are. He casts invisibility just as two creatures (vampire spawn?) clamber down the wall to get him.

Meanwhile, dead Strix is in mist. In the fog, she sees dark grey forms. She meets a little kid named Jesper who died of an illness. She thinks that the longer they stay here, the less real they will become.

They run into the crazy kid who tried to kill the group a while back. He has no feet. He is weird and creepy.

Diath is holding the corpse of Strix. Evelyn and Barmy the lich are nearby. Barmy tells the heroes that one of the vestiges can bring her back. Hee hee.

Paultin actually gets dropped by the vampire spawns. Oh boy. Wait, Diath and Evelyn hear the noise. Evelyn charges in. Paultin is invisible still, so they don't know he's there. Does invisibility go away when someone drops to 0? I think it is a concentration spell and since he's unconscious, he can't concentrate.

Evelyn trips over Paultin and lays on hands for 5 units of well-being (!). The group isn't sure if it's really Paultin or another simulacrum.

Paultin becomes visible. They hear someone below yelling "Back in the name of the Morninglord!" I think it is Van Richten. Chris is doing an Anthony Hopkins type voice very well. It's fitting, as Hopkins played Van Helsing in Bram Stoker's Dracula.

Van Richten

Wow. Diath tells the vestige it can do what it will with him as long as Strix is brought back to life. Zurdun the Corpse Star (Curse of Strahd page 196) offers him the power to raise the dead.

Diath becomes an emaciated, ghoul-like thing. Blinding white light fills his eyes. He's been invested with ancient power. He can use the power once and then it is gone forever.

From page 196: "The beneficiary of this dark gift takes on a corpselike appearance and is easily mistaken for undead."

Diath will need the spell component to cast the resurrection spell. The spell component is a 1,000 gp diamond. He goes into the treasure area to look for a diamond.

Resurrection is on PH page 272. It looks like Strix will have a -4 to all rolls. It will improve by 1 with each long rest. It looks like Chris decided not to use that, which is good. Those penalties are a real bummer.

Van Richten talks with Evelyn. He reveals that he was disguised as Rictavio, the guy who interpreted Madame Eva's reading in Vallaki way back when. Evelyn asks about Dee and it sounds like we'll see her again soon. Good! Erika Ishii was my favorite.

Van Richten.. ohhhh poor Diath. Van Richten has a scroll of raise dead. Ohhh wow, that is really funny. Jared is hitting himself in the head with a book.

Van Richten uses the scroll of raise dead on Strix. Jared wanted to use his power but Chris kind of scrambled to have Van Richten take care of it. It seems like Chris wants Diath to have that spell in his pocket for future use.

The group goes up to the entrance. It was blocked by rubble, but something burrowed a tunnel. It was Van Richten! Apparently he had a creature imprisoned and let it free.I think he had a tiger in his wagon. What creature was this? A bulette? An umber hulk?

Hey, I just remembered. Van Richten killed Paultin's parents. I wonder if Paultin is going to do something to him.

Van Richten tells Strix she has the key to defeat Strahd. Is he referring to the Tome of Strahd?

The group piles into Rictavio's Wagon. He drives like a maniac. They go through Tsolenka Pass. Uh oh... here comes that winged creature that Strix heard but didn't see! It's a roc!

It scoops up the whole wagon. Awesome. Strix uses hellish rebuke to damage it. The roc drops the wagon right on the edge of the bridge and the wagon doors open. Oh no, Strix fails her save! She falls out and plummets into the chasm. She thinks she can assume gaseous form to save herself. She does.

Van Richten is prone on the ground near Paultin. Welp. Paultin has an opportunity to take a shot at the guy right here. He doesn't. A reader pointed out that Chris later said on twitter that they ran out of time. Apparently Paultin had something up his sleeve.

The carriage is teetering. The horse is tethered to it. Diath tries does a sweet maneuver to get out of the wagon. The roc is flying away. That's the end.


(57:34) Diath makes a dark pact.


Very good episode! I like how pretty much every session is eventful. None of them feel like "filler."

Jared is Good: I think that Diath is becoming a great character. He did whatever he had to do to help his friend. Jared was being very unselfish, which to me is the hallmark of a great player. I didn't realize how much Jared contributed to the game until I made that episode guide. When I dug around for my favorite moments of the show, I realized pretty much all of them were because of Jared.

The next show isn't until October 1st, and that will be the live Twitch Con show. Erika Ishii will be there. I have absolutely no idea what will happen. I guess they are going to go through chapter 11, which is one of my favorite areas in the whole adventure. It is very D&D. I think it is going to be epic. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Planescape - The Castle at the Edge of Time

Last night we wrapped up the Tales from the Infinite Staircase adventure, and it went really well. While I heavily modified a lot of that book, there were a lot of fun and useful ideas in it.

When planning this "final boss" battle, I sat down and tried to organize my thoughts. In Planescape, there are three core philosophies:
  • The Rule of Three: Everything comes in threes.
  • Unity of Rings: Everything is circular. Often, you will end up back where you started.
  • Center of All: There is a center of the multiverse and it might be right where you are.
Weirdly, in Planescape, there are NPCs with the same name as the three core philosophies. Two of them are given big entries in Uncaged: Faces of Sigil. Whether they are an embodiment of these concepts is sort of left up to the DM.

The group already met Rule of Three a few times. He's the son of Graz'zt, and he's trying to unite the demons and devils. Unity of Rings is a deva who goes around giving people advice. I'm not sure who Center of All is. I think I read a mention that it's a rilmani - one of the neutral creatures who live by the central spire in the outlands.

I decided to change it so that Center of All is The Nameless One from Planescape Torment. I'm about to give spoilers, so flee if you must...

The Nameless One keeps dying and getting reborn. He loses his memory every time this happens. Ravel Puzzlewell is in love with him and only he can answer her riddle: "What can change the nature of a man?"

In Torment, the actual answer of the riddle is whatever The Nameless One really thinks it is. She just wants to know his answer.

I decided I'd make it so that there is one "correct" answer to this riddle. I saw a poll on this site where people voted on the true answer to the riddle. The result is very interesting: regret.

That's going to be the "true" answer to this riddle in my campaign.

In Torment, some of the Nameless One's incarnations are evil and some are good. I decided that the one they encountered tonight was evil.

I had been thinking about the ultimate ending for this campaign. I liked the idea of one or both of the characters becoming the ruler of Sigil by being in charge of the most powerful faction (The Sensates, probably).

Now I am thinking that the group is actually going to inherit and embody the philosophical concepts.
  • Bidam will become Rule of Three.
  • Theran will become Unity of Rings.
  • They will get to choose who becomes Center of All. Whatever NPC they like.
This will put them at odds with the current Rule of Three, Unity of Rings and Center of All. I am planning on having the group battle and defeat both Rule of Three and Unity of Rings during the Hellbound adventures.

The Nameless One will probably be dealt with later and I think I can do a lot of fun things with him. Ravel Puzzlewell is extremely powerful. The group will probably have to kill her, too.

The Party

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Half-Dabus/Half-Elf Wizard
* NPCs: Nin the heresy devil, Pyranicus the baby abyssal dragon. 

The heroes own a cluster of buildings known as "Deadbook Square."

Last Time: The heroes killed an earth genie and were given estates in the Great Dismal Delve. Now they are ready to take on the entity known as The Iron Shadow, who is unmaking planes.
Rule of Three
The heroes found out that they'd lost their weird powers. They could no longer create portals or buildings. They couldn't Maze people or slice them up with their minds. Apparently, the Lady of Pain or whoever had granted them those powers had taken them away.

The group rested for the night. The next morning, Theran's book glowed. There were weird, new pages inside. The book explained the concepts of Rule of Three, Unity of Rings and Center of All.

A whole bunch of clues pointed them toward the NPCs of the same name. The group found Rule of Three at the Black Sail tavern. Bidam had stolen his magic earring back in Graz'zt's palace. When you say the word "gold," 33 gold appears in your hand. Rule of Three demanded it back.

Then he reluctantly handed them a book he'd been reading about the theoretical center of the planes.

The group found Unity of Rings at A'kin the Friendly Fiend's new shop. Unity of Rings stared a hole through Theran. Unity subconsciously sensed that Theran was poised to take his place. They are destined to have a huge battle. The group nabbed a scroll that had information about dreams.

The quest for Center of All led the group to Fell, the fallen dabus. He makes magic tattoos. He has slices of people's skin with tattoos on them that he hangs for display. One tattoo caught their eye - it was grey skin with the tattoo of the symbol of torment.

Fell hates the adventurers, but they were able to persuade him to hand over the tattoo to save the multiverse.

The Deep Ethereal

What this boiled down to was that the group needed to pull memories of the planes from the plane of dreams. Theran could take those memories and put them into "dream pearls," which could be placed in the exact center of a plane. This would allow the plane to "remember" its original form and undo the damage the Iron Shadow had done to it.

They needed Bidam's five ladies to carry the pearls. Each lady was connected to one of the damaged planes.

Once all that was figured out, Theran's book lit up and created a portal to the Deep Ethereal.

They went through and they brought a horde of NPCs with them: The 5 ladies, Nin the heresy devil and Pyranicus the baby abyssal dragon/son of Bidam.


The Deep Ethereal is full of fog (visibility: 30 feet) and has no gravity. The adventurers saw the Iron Shadow hovering above a giant stone symbol of torment. On the symbol were five doors.

The Iron Shadow had been sliced up by the slaads a few sessions back. They saw that her wounds were slowly healing.

Beyond the symbol was The Castle at the Edge of Time, a location from the Guide to the Ethereal Plane. I was thinking that the group would deal with the shadow first and then go to the castle, but they flipped it on me.

The group went into the castle and found Center of All beating up Feurina, the warder devil. Feurina was linked to the Iron Shadow, but had become friends with Bidam.

The group jumped in and we had a pretty epic battle. Center of All had lich stats. I had heard that liches were weak in 5e, but one glance at the spell list was beyond alarming. Here's two spells I used:
  • Disintegrate: Did 72 points of damage. If it kills you, you are literally dust.
  • Finger of Death: Did about 60 points. If it kills you, you are a zombie under the caster's command!
When preparing, I decided not to even give the lich Power Word: Kill. I figured that spell would wipe out my group.

Bidam took a ton of damage, but smartly used healing after the disintegrate. What was really crazy was that Feurina jumped in, made two attacks, and rolled a 20 on each attack!

Center of All had just one hit point left. Theran finished him off with a lightning bolt.

I had Center of All lying there, conscious, slowly turning to dust. I had planted clues that he had the answer to Ravel's riddle (she asked the heroes "What can change the nature of a man?" way back when they broke into her maze). They didn't pick up on the clue, though. They did see that the tattoo fit right on his shoulder and they put it on him.

The group found a pile of treasure. 10,000 gold worth of rubies and these:
  • Staff of Power: (which has a million spells in it)
  • Armor of Invulnerability: Take half damage from nonmagic attacks.
The group feels very weak to me, so I wanted to beef them up before we start the Hellbound adventures.

Repairing The Planes

Then the group dealt with the Iron Shadow. Basically, they had to open a door, go into each plane and place the dream pearl in the center of the plane (marked by the symbol of torment). They had three rounds to do each one, otherwise Bidam's lady would be unmade.

This ended up very chaotic, as the group frantically went from door to door. They were able to successfully save each plane:
Infinite Staircase: The shadow had wiped this place out. All that was left was a single platform. I put agents of Vecna there, as I am planning on running the Vecna adventures at the end of this campaign (I want to see if I can fix Die, Vecna, Die).

Long story. The Infinite Staircase in the books is linked to a forgotten realms goddess. I've decided that when it is remade, it will now be linked to Vecna, allowing his agents to spread all throughout the multiverse.

Bidam's lady was killed by The Eye, an agent of Vecna.

Elemental Plane of Earth: The center of this plane i actually located in the head of Grumbar, the Living Mountain, lord of earth elementals. Bidam was able to move a boulder and place the pearl while an earth elemental tried to beat him up.

Limbo: I decided that the center of this plane is located inside of Ssendam, Lord of the Insane. He's one of the slaad lords and I really like him.

I did this thing where the modrons were bringing their big clockwork planet from Mechanus into Limbo (in the 5e monster manual there is a mention that the modrons are trying to make Limbo lawful). Ssendam was fighting them off. Theran used mage hand to put the dream pearl inside of Sendam's goo.

Ssendam hit him with a pseudopod for 30 damage and Theran went down. Bidam's lady, Yulmanda, healed Bidam but was sucked into Ssendam and utterly destroyed. Theran escaped.

Barovia: I used a room from the Amber Temple in Curse of Strahd. The center of the plane is in the mural down in the room with the vestige of Tenebrous. Tenebrous, of course, was defeated by these heroes at the end of the Dead Gods adventure.

There were three flameskulls hovering between Bidam and the symbol, so he hilariously side-rolled under them.

The vestige in the block of amber pulsed and offered Bidam great power. Bidam said "OK" and touched it..

In the Curse of Strahd book, there are a lot of qualifications to receive this dark gift. If you qualify, Tenebrous gives you the ability to make a soul phylactery and a potion that can turn you into a lich. You gain a flaw: You are obsessed with treasure. Also, once you become a lich, your character is an evil NPC under the DM's control.

I changed it. I'll make it so that if Bidam wants to become a lich, he can, but he's going to need to fight off the evil influence of Tenebrous. Maybe I'll adapt the 2nd edition "Dark Powers" checks or something.

George did point out to Jessie that if Bidam becomes undead, he's going to have a hard time scoring with the ladies.
Astral Plane: Both heroes converged here. This door opened to an area deep inside Tu'Narath, the city of the githyanki (as detailed in the Chris Perkins adventure "The Lich Queen's Beloved" from Dungeon Magazine 100).

I set up a thing where there's a pit that the two-headed red dragon is sleeping in. Next to it is a room that is an "emotion node." This is where the center of the plane is. When you go into the emotion node, you have to make a saving throw or be overcome with sorrow (and wake up the dragon).

Theran made Bidam invisible, and Bidam rolled really high the whole way through! Bidam got in and out without a hitch. They never found out what was in the pit.


The group had fixed all of the damage that the Iron Shadow had caused. The Iron Shadow proceeded to flake and fall apart. In a moment, all that was left of her was a little ball of light slowly floating down to the symbol of torment.

I decided to break a rule for this. I really don't like it when DMs "steal" ideas from players. But for this, I decided that whatever the players believed would happen with this ball of light would be true.

They were certain it was going to cause an explosion! So.. the whole symbol broke apart and became a vortex of swirling stone.

The iron tome became a portal back to Sigil. The heroes realized that Nin, Pyranicus and Feurina were all in the castle and would have to fly through the vortex to get to the portal.

All three of them were killed! I rolled real low for them.

The two devils appeared back in hell. Pyranicus might be dead. I need to read up on what happens to demons when slain outside of the Abyss. That will be really sad.. he's a baby dragon. I'll figure something out.

The group were back in Sigil! They had saved a number of planes and now were poised for some time to relax and enjoy Sigil. The next few sessions will be dealing with:
  • Their festhall
  • Raja Khan, their rakshasa enemy
  • The return of Shemeshka the Marauder, their arcanaloth enemy
  • Their estates in The Great Dismal Delve
Then we'll start the blood war adventures, which should be awesome.