Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Magic Items in D&D Next

I really like the new magic item implementation in D&D Next. The attunement mechanic, creator system, the natures, the minor properties, the quirks - all interesting stuff. It makes creating even relatively minor magical items fun, and gives the DM some neat foundations that they can build on.

For my part, I've done some work recently expanding the attunement mechanics, making attunement a more varied and challenging process, and linking it directly with the creator and nature system.


I want to make Attunement a more time-consuming, expensive and potentially dangerous process. Since attunement is challenging, and the number of items that a character can be attuned to is limited, attunement should have some benefits. Most items will be more powerful when attuned, but breaking attunement carries some risks and penalties as well, which should discourage players from mindlessly seeking the "most plusses". Ideally, a player might retain their attuned items for much of their career, given the bounded accuracy structure of D&D Next.

Attunement House Rules:

Get em all as a handy PDF

Attuning an Item:

In order to attune an item, a player must succeed in one of the Attunement Options for the Type and Nature of the magic item. DM's should feel free to create unique Attunement Options (like visiting specific places, defeating major foes or acquiring other items) in addition to the standard options.
Max Number of Attuned Items:

A character may have a maximum of 2 OR their Charisma modifier, whichever is higher, items attuned at any one time. (Rational: Charisma is less likely to be a dump stat if it potentially translates into additional item attunements)

Attunement Frequency:

A character may attempt attunement once ever d6 days, -1 per point of charisma modifier, with a 1-day minimum. So a character with a +2 Charisma modifier would be able to attempt attunement every 1-4 days.
Ending Attunement:

If a character wishes to end attunement with an item, they must complete another of the Attunement Options for that item, which may include the destruction of the item. (Frodo was attuned to the One Ring by the end, as were Smeagol and Bilbo). Simply discarding an item does not end attunement, and for some items, multiple people can be attuned at the same time.

If a character successfully ends attunement on an item, they cannot become attuned to a different item for d4 weeks.

Attunement Options:

All magic items can be attuned using the Ritual or Test of Will attunement options. Other Attunement options are availabe based on the Creator and Nature of the item.
Magic Item Creators

In my campaign, powerful magical items (which all require attunement) aren't just created by different races - they are often powered by the spirits or elemental forces of those races. These spirits determine the general aspects of the magic items, and also inform how a character can become attuned to an item. Conversely, this makes certain items unattunable by specific races, or by characters who already have an antagonistic item attuned.

Abyssal - these items contain a bound demon. They cannot be attuned by Good-aligned characters, are antagonistic to Celestial and Fiendish items.
Attunement Options: Blood Sacrifice, Pact, Defeat Foe, Direct Combat
Foes: Devils, Celestials, Powerful Good creatures (Shedu, Coatl, etc.)

Ancient human - these items are powered by demi-gods, ancestral spirits or ancient heroes specific to the culture that created them. Roll randomly on this table for their antagonist item type, or select one that is appropriate to the culture that created the item.
Attunement Options: Roll randomly or pick appropriate for culture.
Foes: Generally other ancient humans, undead or humanoids.

Celestial - these items contain a bound holy spirit or lesser Celestial. They cannot be attuned by Evil-aligned characters, and are antagonistic to Abyssal and Fiendish items.
Attunement Options: Meditation, Pact, Defeat Foe
Foes: Devils, Demons, Undead, Necromancers

Draconic - these items contain ancient Draconic spirits. They are antagonistic to Elvish and Giantish items.
Attunement Options: Defeat Foe, Challenge, Direct Combat
Foes: Giants, Dragons of opposing types (metallic vs chromatic, for example)

Drow - these items are powered either by Llolth directly, or by a lesser demonic servitor of Llolth. They cannot be attuned by Good-aligned character or by non-Drow elves. They are antagonistic to Elven and Celestial items.
Attunement Options: Blood Sacrifice, Pact, Defeat Foe
Foes: Surface Elves, Deep Gnomes

Dwarven - these items are powered by dwarven ancestral spirits, by dwarven gods, or by earth elementals bound by the dwarves. They cannot be attuned by Elves, and are antagonistic to Draconic and Giantish items.
Attunement Options: Defeated Foe, Challenge, Direct Combat
Foes: Giants, Dragons

Elemental (air) - these items are powered by air elemental spirits. They are antagonistic to Elemental Earth items.

Elemental (earth) - these items are powered by earth elemental spirits. They are antagonistic to Elemental Air items.

Elemental (fire) - these items are powered by fire elemental spirits. They are antagonistic to Elemental Water items.

Elemental (water) - these items are powered by water elemental spirits. They are antagonistic to Elemental Fire items.
Attunement Options: Meditation, Challenge, Defeat Foe, Direct Combat
Foe: Oppositional Elemental

Elven - these items contain Elven ancestral spirits or powerful Fey spirits. They cannot be attuned by Drow Elves or Dwarves, and are antagonistic to Drow and Dwarven items.
Attunement Options: Pact, Meditation

Fey - these items contain Seelie or Unseelie fey spirits or bound Fomorian powers. They are antagonistic to Fiendish and Giantish items.
Attunement Options: Pact, Challenge

Fiendish - these items are powered by bound devils. They cannot be attuned by Good-aligned characters, and are antagonistic to Celestial and Abyssal items.
Attunement Options: Blood Sacrifice, Pact, Defeat Foe, Direct Combat
Foe: Demon, Celestial, Powerful good creatures.

Giant - these items are powered by giantish demi-gods or by the powers of the Giant-race patriarchs (Sutr, Thrym). They cannot be attuned by Dwarves or Dragon-kin, and are antagonistic to Dwarven and Draconic items. Roll a d6 to determine the giant race that created the item.

1. Cloud - antagonistic to Earth Elemental items.
2. Fire - antagonistic to Water Elemental items.
3. Frost - Antagonistic to Fire Elemental items.
4. Hill - Antagonistic to Gnomish items.
5. Stone - Antagonistic to Water Elemental items.
6. Storm - Antagonistic to Earth Elemental items.

Attunement Options: Test of Wills, Defeat Foe, Direct Combat
Foes: Dragons or Dragon-Kin, Antagonistic Elementals, Lesser Giant-Kin, Elves.

Gnome - these items are powered by spirits of glamour and illusion, or by fey spirits. They cannot by attuned by Lawful characters, but they are not antagonistic.
Attunement Options: Test of Wills, Challenge

Magic Item Nature

Arcane: Arcane objects can always be attuned via Meditation.

Bane: Bane objects can always be attuned by Defeating the Foe they are designed to counteract.

Legendary: Legendary items can always be attuned by the Challenge of locating the remains or place of power of the legendary hero.

Ornament: Ornamental items can always be attuned by the Challenge of using them in the special event they were designed for, or displaying them prominently for a specific period of time.

Prophecy: Prophecy items can always be attuned by the Challenge of fulfilling one of the steps of the prophecy they represent.

Religious icon: Religious Icons can always be attuned by Meditation.

Sinister: Sinister items can always be attuned by Blood Sacrifice, usually by recreation of the event they are associated with.

Symbol of power: Symbols of Power can always be attuned by the rightful heir of the power/authority they represent.

Attunement Options


All items can be attuned by the means of a magical ritual, although the details of this ritual can be difficult and expensive to discover.

There are several ways for a character to discover the ritual required to attune a weapon.

Quest: The details of the attunement ritual can be the reward for a a quest or part of a treasure horde.

Research: With access to sufficient lore, a character can recreate the details of the ritual: Either an Int or Lore (Magic) check, DC 13 for Common, 15 for Uncommon, 17 for Rare, 19 for Very Rare, 21 for Legendary or 23 for Artifact.

Sage: A sage can likely discover the attunement ritual for an item, cost is d100 gp for Common, d100x5 gp for Uncommon, d100x25 for Rare, d100x50 for Very Rare, d100x100 for Legendary and d100x500 for Artifact.

Divination: Divination magic can expose the attunement ritual for the item. A cleric or wizard will generally charge the equivalent to the sage costs for the spell.

Material Cost: The material cost for the ritual is d10 gp for Common, d10x5 gp for Uncommon, d10x25 for Rare, d10x50 for Very Rare, d10x100 for Legendary and d10x500 for artifact.

Test of Wills

All items can also be attuned by a test of wills, essentially forcing the spirit of the item to accept you as a wielder, similar to Aragorn forcing the palantir or one of Elric's many mental tussles with Stormbringer.

The Test of Wills is a contested Wisdom, Constitution or Charisma check (depending on the type of item) against the spirit that binds the item. The initial test takes d4 hours. Whatever type of test is initiated, the spirit of the item has a modifier based on the power of the item. Common items, +0, Uncommon items +1, Rare items +2, Very Rare items +3, Legendary items +4 and Artifacts +6.

If the character wins, then the item is attuned to them. Some powerful or sentient items will periodically re-initiate a Test of Wills, based on their desires or the characters actions (Stormbringer is a dick that way).

If the character loses, they cannot attempt to attune the item via a test of wills for d4 weeks, and they suffer other ill effects based on how badly they lost the check:

Draw: No ill effect

-1 to -3: d6 hp damage.

-4 to -6: 2d6 hp damage and 1 point temporarily lost from check stat.

-7 to -9: 3d6 hp damage and weakness resulting in -1 to all checks for 1 day.

-10 or more: Permanent loss of 1 point from check stat.

Blood Sacrifice

Evil spirits often accept a blood sacrifice in order to accept attunement. The character must sacrifice one or more sentient beings using the item. The number of beings required for the sacrifice depends on the power of the item. 1 for Common, 1d4 for Uncommon, 1d6 for Rare, 1d10 for Very Rare, 1d12 for Legendary and 1d20 for Artifact.


Many items contain bound spirits with particular goals or ideologies, which resent or oppose being wielded for cross-purposes. Attuning Pact items involves negotiating with the spirit of the item and reaching an agreement with it. Generally, Pact will include pledges not to attack members of the race that created the item, and may also include quests on behalf of the spirit of the item.

Defeat Foe

Many items, especially weapons, are forged specifically to defeat great foes. Wielding the item while defeating one (or more) of these foes will will the approval of the spirits bound in the item and allow immediate attunement.


The attunement secrets of some items can be discovered through extended periods of arcane or divine mediation and focus. The Mediation attunement option is only available to spell-casting classes. The Meditation process requires 24 uninterrupted hours of intense focus. As this process is both physically and mentally draining, the character must make 2 checks. One Con check with a DC of 13 to see if the character can withstand the physical effort, and one Int or Wis check with a DC based on the item's power.

Each additional hour over 24 that the character spends adds +1 to the Int/Wis check, but requires an additional DC 13 Con check.

DC 12 for Common, 14 for Uncommon, 16 for Rare, 18 for Very Rare, 20 for Legendary or 22 for Artifact.


A Challenge is any quest, journey or additional item (magical or mundane) that is required to attune the item. A Challenge may be to bring the item to a specific holy location, to defeat the undead shade of the item's previous wielder, or to locate 9 cat's-eye-sapphires that used to be set in the magical necklace. Challenges are basically item-specific plot hooks.

Direct Combat

Some spirits and races value direct, physical power. The spirit inhabiting the item will manifest and physically battle to character. Outside assistance may or may not be allowed, depending on the spirit. The toughness of the spirit should be approximately based on the power of the item. You can also substitute spectral or spirit versions of the appropriate monster or creature, as appropriate.

1-3 HD for Common, 4-5 HD for Uncommon, 6-9 HD for Rare, 10-15 HD for Very Rare, 15+HD for Legendary and 20 HD for Artifacts.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Talking 'Bout Teratic Tome

Recently, quite a few Indie RPG publishers jumped on the Pay What You Want train to what I can only hope was Profit-town.  Since I'm actually playing quite a bit of DnD right now, and since DnD Next is extremely OSR-friendly in terms of material you can use with it, I decided to spend a little money.

Teratic Tome.
One of the things I picked up was Rafael Chandler's Teratic Tome.  I always like having new monsters to
spring on my players,  and since most of them have been gamers for many years, they pretty much know all the standards and new monsters are a good thing.

So, in that regard, Teratic Tome certainly delivers.  There are lots of new monsters here, and a fair number of interesting ideas, but on the whole, I have decidedly mixed feelings about  the Teratic Tome.

Things I Like:
  • Some of the art.
  • The dragons.
  • Story hooks built into many monsters.
Things I Don't Like:
  • The rest of the art.
  • All the story hooks are pretty much the same.
  • That one story hook doesn't exactly work for DnD.
  • The whole book comes off kinda creepy.
The Art
The art is generally good, although it switches back and forth between traditional fantasy and hentai in a way that is a bit jarring.  I don't really have a preference in terms of style, but I like a book to stick with one or the other.  Some of the artists are extremely good, great even, but just as many are solidly "meh".

More problematically, there are a substantial number of tentacled vaginas (vaginae?) in this book.  And by that I mean, at least 5, although I'm not going to take the time to count them.  There are also many creatures based on naked women.

Before you get up in my grill, I want to go on record as saying I have no inherent problem with the idea of tentacled vagina art or naked woman art.  I have an internet connection and a Reddit account.  I have seen things.  We all have.  The the vagina with tentacles is appropriately creepy-gross, and fits with the horror-movie theme of this book.

But.  There are no spiked penises here.  Or whatever the creepy-gross male anatomy equivalent is.  In fact, there are lots of creatures based on creepy versions of naked women, pictures of breasts and so-forth, but basically no creatures based on creepy versions of naked men. It all comes off as a bit juvenile.  All I think as I read through it is "wow, somebody REALLY liked that picture of the succubus in the ADnD Monster Manual".

The Dragons
Are awesome.  They are horrible monsters that bring the apocalypse.  I will steal this idea forthwith and I doubt I will return to regular dragons, except perhaps as spawn/offspring of these monstrosities.  The dragons are almost worth the price of admission.

The Story Hooks
Many of the creatures presented in the Teratic Tome aren't exactly monsters in the traditional DnD sense of something that you might run into in a dungeon and then kill for treasure.  They are more like story hooks with statistics.  Story hooks and stats come up with by a sexually repressed Japanese man, at that.

Let's take the Altar Beast, for example.  It preys on "those who dissolve the holy bond of matrimony" by possessing one of the people who want to get divorced, then emerging from their body to feed on anyone that "encourages and permits this sin."  It's a towering, purple, tentacled phallus with lamprey mouths (OK, I guess there are some penis-equivalents in this book).  That smells like strawberries.  Holy Fuck.  Leaving aside that this thing is like the fevered masturbation fantasy of Sara Palin after a weekend-long hentai binge, this monster is essentially the template for half the book.

Here is the template: People are being murdered.  Find out the connection and confront the monster that is using a victim to cause the murders.  We see this repeated maybe 20 or 30 times in the Teratic Tome.  It's basically monster design by template.

Step 1: Pick obscure god of something.  Step 2:  Creature created to punish sin.  Identify the sin using this handy chart.  Credit:  Catholics, of course.  Step 3: Random colors and smells.  Step 4:  Graphics by hentai design school with focus on variations of naked women.  Step 5: Profit?

Many of the monsters in this book are essentially the crib-notes for a horror movie.  Which is OK, I suppose, if you can pull that sort of thing off in your DnD game.  They rely on physical horror - monstrous shapes emerging from human bodies, awful eyeballs with spider legs, that sort of thing.  Problem is, I don't think that physical horror works well in DnD.

Characters who regularly go toe-to-toe with giant spiders or the walking dead don't really blink at a towering purple dong-monster.  Horror like this relies on the known and understandable - a human murderer, for example, turning out to be something alarming and inhuman.  But since alarming and inhuman is just a day at the office in DnD, it loses quite a bit of potential punch in this setting, so many of the monsters are less useful than they could be.

In Summary:
Horror-based retro-clone monsters.  Compatible with most versions of DnD except probably 4e without much modification.

If you run LotFP, horror or dark-fantasy themed games this is probably a good supplement for you.

Don't leave it lying around if you have kids.  The focus on female-nudity-based monsters may not be for everyone.

The dragons are awesome.

What I'm Gonna Do With It:
I'm going to reskin quite a few of these monsters into summoned creatures, demons or magical abominations.  I don't think I'll use the horror-element story hooks too much.  The dragons have already been incorporated into

Friday, July 5, 2013

D&D Next Monsters - Eaters of Men - Wendigo


Medium Undead
AC: 16
HP:  30 (5d10+5)
Speed: 50 ft.
Senses: Darkvision 120 ft.
Str: +3  Dex: +3 Con: +3
Int: -2 Wis: -2 Cha: -2
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Languages: Common

Wendigo are ghostly servants of the White Hand.  They are created by forcing a prisoner to devour his own cellmates, then slowly dying of exposure and starvation.  The feet are devoured by Ghuls, and the head is replaced with that of a deer or elk or buffalo in a dark ceremony.  Then the grisly spirit is sent out to spread death and terror in the name of the White Hand.

Wendigo live only to kill and devour their prey.  They hunt at night or in the dead of winter, and rarely venture out in the sun.  They prefer to strike from ambush, and will rarely fight large groups.

Immunities: Wendigo are immune to disease, poison, charm, sleep and fear.  They do not sleep or breath.

Resistance: Wendigo have damage resistance 5 to non-magical, non-silver weapons.

Stealthy:  The Wendigo gains a +5 bonus to all checks to avoid detection.

Corner of your Eye: The Wendigo may move from concealment to concealment without triggering a perception check.  It may also hide in lightly obscured areas without penalty.

Howl of Terror: The Wendigo can unleash a howl that terrifies anyone listening.  Anyone within 50’ of the Wendigo must pass a DC 12 Wisdom check or be Frightened.  Each round they may attempt to steel themselves by making a DC 15 Wisdom check as a free action.

Multi-Attack:  The Wendigo makes 1 bite and 2 claw attacks.

Melee Attack – Bite: +6 to hit (reach 5, one creature).  Hit: 9 (2d6+3)

Melee Attack – Claw: +6 to hit (reach 5, one creature.  Hit: 8 (d10+3) slashing damage.

Leap Away: When the Wendigo is struck in combat, it may leap up to 10 feet away as a free action without provoking opportunity attacks.

Encounter Building

Level: 5 XP:  500

D&D Next Monsters - Eaters of Men - Peryton


Medium Undead
AC: 13
HP:  20 (4d8+4)
Speed: 30 ft, Fly 180 ft
Senses: Darkvision 60 ft, low-light vision.
Str: +2  Dex: 0 Con: +2
Int: -2 Wis: 0 Cha: 0
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Languages: Common

Perytons are special servants of the White Hand, ranging forth to seek hearts to sacrifice on the White Hands altar.  They prefer the hearts of sentient humans and demi-humans, but will tear out the heart of any creature.  They are formed by sacrificing a living man to the White Hand in a special ceremony, and thereafter cast the twisted shadow of the man they once were.

They retain rudimentary memories of when they were alive, and often seek out and kill those they knew or loved when they were living.

Immunities: Perytons are immune to disease, poison, charm, sleep and fear.  They do not sleep or breath.

Resistance: Perytons have damage resistance /5 to non-magical weapons.

Vulnerability: Perytons are killed instantly if their shadow is struck by a blessed weapon, or by a weapon owned by the person they were when alive.

Horrific Critical: Perytons critical on rolls of 18-20.  If they kill an enemy with a critical, they rip the heart from their foe.  Anyone witnessing this must make a DC 12 Con save or be sickened (-1 all rolls) for 1 round.

Melee Attack: Horn Gore +5 to hit (reach 5, one creature).  Hit: 8 (2d6+2).

Melee Attack: Diving Strike +7 to hit (one creature).  Hit: 12 (3d6+3).    The Peryton dives from a great height, striking with it’s horns.  All attacks against the Peryton receive advantage on the round after it delivers a diving attack as it strives to gain altitude again.

Encounter Building

Level: 4 XP: 250

D&D Next Monsters - Eaters of Men - Ghul

Creatures for the D&D Next Dwarves Campaign.

Medium Undead
AC: 14
HP: 25 (5d10)
Speed: 30 ft
Senses: Darkvision 60 ft
Str: +2  Dex: +2 Con: 0
Int: 0 Wis: 0 Cha: -2
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Languages: Common

Ghuls are special servants of the White Hand, King of the Ghouls.  They are residents of the White City, and are summoned to serve powerful priests of the White Hand.  They excel at carrying off victims to be devoured later, and will attempt to do this to any paralyzed enemy.

Immunities: Ghuls are immune to disease, poison, charm, sleep and fear.  They do not sleep or breath.

Resistance: Ghuls are resistant to necrotic and cold.

Mutiattack: Ghuls make one bite and two claw attacks.

Melee Attack – Bite: +6 to hit (reach 5, one creature).  Hit: 5 (d6+2) and target  must make a DC 12 con save.  Failed Save: The target is paralyzed for d6 rounds, but may make 1 DC 14 Con check per round to end the paralysis.

Melee Attack – Claw: +6 to hit (reach 5, one creature.  Hit: 5 (d6+2) slashing damage.

Cannibalize: The Ghul can devour flesh from a dead or paralyzed opponent.  This provokes an opportunity attack if anyone is adjacent to them.  Automatic hit. Effect: 8 damage (2d6+2) to a living target.  The Ghul heals the same amount of damage.

Encounter Building

Level: 3 XP: 100