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New Monster – Stone Soldiers

20 October, 2020

Before fully manifestingWhile called stone soldiers, these elemental beings draw from the surrounding area and replicate what in nearby for their form, be that earth, stone or wood, if there are equal amounts of such material around the summoner can choose which material they form from.

They are tied to the spirits of soldiers of the past, gaining instinctive insights into tactics well beyond that of most elementals and appearing in the forms of such soldiers with the apparent armor and actual weapons of such. Without other instruction they will fall back on their historic tactics and seek to continue their half remembered duties.

For D&D 5E: Stone Soldier

Medium elemental, neutral

Armor Class 14 (or 16 with shield, see below)

Hit Points 47 (5d8+25)

Speed Walk 25ft.
STR 16 (+3) DEX 8 (-1) CON 20 (+ 5) INT 6 (-2) WIS 10 (+ 0) CHA 5 (-3)

Saving Throws Str + 5

Skills Athletics +5, Perception +2

Damage Vulnerabilities thunder

Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical weapons

Damage Immunities poison

Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 12

Languages One known and chosen by the Summoner, Terran

Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Formation Fighter
The stone soldiers are used to fighting as a unit and when adjacent to another stone soldier, may use the help action for a adjacent stone soldier as a bonus action. They also gain advantage on Wisdom and Charisma saving throws when in a formation with at least two other stone soldiers.

Soldier’s Soul
A stone soldier gains one of the following fighting styles:

Dueling. When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon. These stone soldier appear with weapon and shield.

Great Weapon Fighting. When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit. These stone soldier appear with two-handed weapons, usually polearms.

Actions

The stone soldier makes two weapon or slam attacks.

Melee Weapon. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, by weapon (note soldier’s soul ability above)

Ranged Weapon. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) bludgeoning damage (for earth or stone) or piercing (for wood). Range 20/60.

Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage.

The statistics above are for an earthen warrior, a stone warrior has -5 foot speed but +1 Armor Class and a wooden warrior has +5 foot speed and +2 Dexterity and disadvantage on saving throws against fire.

For Pathfinder: Stone Soldier CR 3

XP 800
N Medium elemental (earth)
Init –1; Senses darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft.; Perception +7

DEFENSE

AC 17, touch 9, flat-footed 17 (–1 Dex, +8 natural) may have a shield as well (see below)
hp 34 (4d10+12)
Fort +7, Ref +0, Will +4
Immune elemental traits, DR 3/Magic, Formation Fighter

OFFENSE

Speed 25 ft.,
Melee by weapon (see below) or slam +9 (1d8+7) or ranged +3 (1d6+5), Range Increment 30 ft. (thrown)

STATISTICS

Str 20, Dex 8, Con 17, Int 6, Wis 11, Cha 11
Base Atk +4; CMB +9; CMD 18
Feats Cleave, Improved Bull Rush[B], Power Attack
Skills Appraise +2, Climb +10, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +3, Perception +7, Stealth +3
Languages One known and chosen by the Summoner, Terran

SPECIAL ABILITIES

Formation Fighter (Ex)
The stone soldiers are used to fighting as a unit and when adjacent to another stone soldier, may use the aid another action for a adjacent stone soldier as a free action. They also gain a +2 morale bonus on Will saves when in a formation with at least two other stone soldiers.

Soldier’s Soul (Ex)
A stone soldier gains one of the following fighting styles:
Sword and Shield, gaining the following bonus feats: shield focus and weapon focus in the weapon they are summoned with.
Two-handed Weapon, gaining the following bonus feats: great cleave and weapon focus (weapon they are summoned with)

The weapon they are summoned with is considered to be masterwork but only in the hands of a stone soldier.

The statistics above are for an earthen warrior, a stone warrior has -5 foot ground speed but +1 Natural Armor and a wooden warrior has +5 foot speed, +2 Dexterity and -2 Natural Armor.

Notes: To be summoned/created by Soldier Stones. And finally an actual new monster for this October!

Photograph of some of the Lewis Chessmen from the British Museum collection found on Wikimedia Commons and used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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Tuesday Magic Item – Death-Eating Gloves

13 October, 2020

“The commander’s duelist seems twitchy and pale,” said Voddick quietly. “Not a good combination. Addiction or curse . . . or both?”

Gloves to die for

“Both I fear,” replied Gollaon equally quietly. “I finally managed to get a good look at his gloves. Necromagi work without a doubt.”

“Damnation.”

“Almost certainly,” agreed Gollaon. “We need to make a plan to remove him from the board before he turns into even more of a monster.”

“Alleyway ambush?”

“That usually works,” nodded Gollaon.

Death-Eating Gloves

These gloves are made of fine grained leather dyed a dark color, red and purple are common but black or blue are not unknown. They are close fitting, almost as a second skin. To those knowledgeable of such things, the gloves are obviously made of the tanned skin from a human or similar being.

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Sisters of the Swan for D&D 5E

12 October, 2020

The Abbey on the Lake of White Lilies was famous for the honor and learning of its sisters and the beautiful swans that populated the lake. They were not warriors but healers, scholars and gardeners. When the Dragons launched their attack on the gods, all the sisters could do was pray.

Fly with meWhen the Empress visited the Abbey after the sundering, a fragment of a heaven had lodged in the lake and the lilies had changed to gold and the sisters and the swans had been melted together. The transformation was rough for some, wings for arms or exceeding long necks, others had been killed outright, their new bodies unsuitable for the world. The Empress used her magic to heal and reform them, making the form of woman and swan, separate but joined allowing them to switch between the two.

The Abbey on the Lake of Gold Lilies remains under Imperial jurisdiction and remains a center of learning. It exports fine lace, goose down and illuminated manuscripts.

Physical Description: The Sisters of the Swan are willowy and graceful with long necks and usually pale skin, pale hair is common as well but their eyes are dark. Every generation there has been a black or gold Sister hatched but they have been occurring more frequently. Their faces tend to be narrow with large eyes. They have long delicate fingers and long toes on their feet, with webbing between their toes.

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Tuesday Magic Item – Shade Manifesting Ring

6 October, 2020

Shadow of life and deathVoddick leaned heavily against the wall of the stairway. “If we never see another killer shadow, it will be years to soon.”

“Agreed,” said Gollaon wiping the blade of his sword with a blessed cloth. “But I suspect their master cannot have many more of them to throw at us. Such magic consume their user.”

“Well, let us finish this. Any using such foul magic deserves to be slain.”

“Truth.”

Shade Manifesting Ring

These rings are usually made of some mix of bone, ivory and silver, usually tarnished black, with skull or other death motifs common. To the wearer, they feel warm and then can sense the flow of their blood, other others, it is as cold as a frozen corpse. Shadows seem to gather improbably around the wearer.

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New Beastkind for D&D 5E – Ypisarian Serpentfolk

4 October, 2020

Distant ancestor?The Serpentfolk are the children of the goddess Ypisara, though she is now only acknowledged as the great mother of their race. A minor race, they weathered the war of against the gods and the Sundering better than most due to the act of submission and self-sacrifice by the goddess Ypisara in exchange for the protection of the Empress, she gave her life willingly to the Dragon Queen; in exchange her children have been protected and since then, they have thrived, in a restrained fashion, under the eye of the Empress who acts as their patron and guardian.

Serpentfolk are a dedicated and loyal people, devoted to their communities and, in a vague sense, the Empire as a whole. While each of the serpentfolk is their own person they often think of themselves as part of a chain of community and tend to weight the good of the group over the good of the individual.

Serpentfolk are humanoid, tending toward slender builds, and covered in a network of fine scales usually in shades of green but other colors show up on occasion. Their eyes are dark and their heads are decorated by low crests. Most have slender tails. Serpentolk have claws but they are not usually large or strong enough to be effectively used as weapons.

The serpentfolk are warm blooded but lay eggs.

Serpentfolk Lands: The Serpent folk have a large island that is theirs, though under the direct rule of the Empress, it runs from the Bitter Hills, mined for salt and copper, to the mangrove swamps of the Darksea Marsh and the Darksea beyond.

The Serpentfolk are not well known outside of Imperial circles, they only having really begun expanding outside of those confines in the last few centuries. Their position as direct Imperial subjects means that their homeland is essentially inviolate but they do trade salt and items made of salt for what imports they need.

Religion: The Serpentfolk venerate Ypisara as their ancestral mother and the Empress as their protector with their ancestors being revered and offering made for them. They have an idea of rebirth in a continual ouroboros of life and spirit. Rumors of a secret sect that continues to worships Ypisara as mother-goddess are entirely unfounded.

Names: Names in the Serpentfolk tongue are difficult to pronounce for non-serpentfolk so they tend to attract monikers when dealing with them.

Adventurers: The Serpentfolk increasingly are seeking posts with the Dragon Imperium outside of their homeland and a few of those have decided to explore the greater world on their own.

Your Ypisarian Serpentfolk character has certain traits deriving from your ancestry.

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2, and your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. You have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You cannot discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Age. The serpentfolk mature slightly more quickly than humans, reaching adult development around fifteen. They live as long as humans or slightly longer.

Alignment. The serpentfolk are group people, working together to build a society to honor their ancestors and Patron. They are loyal, hard working and stoic. They tend to weigh the needs of their society over that of the individual.

The Serpentfolk are organized in family groups and in clutch-cohorts, all of the serpentfolk who were hatched in the same season, it is a loose structure but it works. They are very community oriented and tend to defer to their elders.

Size. The serpentfolk are slender and lithe, rarely taller than five feet tall when reaching adulthood but continue to grow (slowly) throughout their adult life and often reach over six feet tall. Your size is Medium.

Languages. Serpent speak their own language, handed down from before the Sundering, and also learn the Imperial Tongue and Low Draconic in honor of their Patron.

Friend of Fishes. Serpentfolk are natural swimmer and at home in the water, gaining advantage on Strength (Athletics) checks related to swimming.

Salt Resistance. Due to their constant exposure to salt, Serentfolk advantage on saving throws against salt and have resistance against salt damage.

Scales. Serpentfolk have tough scaled skin, when not wearing armor, your AC equals 11 + your Dexterity modifier.

Shaper of Salt. Raised with salt as the primary building material, they become adept at working it from an early age, gaining proficiency with all tool checks involving salt.

Notes: You can find a version for Pathfinder here.  Have had D&D players interested in the Beastkine races so wanted to start getting them transferred over to 5E.

Photo Gulf Salt Marsh Snake (Nerodia clarkii) Florida by Glenn Bartolotti found on Wikimedia Commons and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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Into October and Autumn, leaving September

30 September, 2020

Happy AutumnTomorrow begins October, the eighth month (naturally) of the Roman Calendar.  It seems the Romans had no special association for October beyond Autumn, but we have Halloween!  So the theme on the Sea of Stars Design Journal for this month will be Monsters and Monstrous Things!

If you have ideas for a Monster you wish to see, let me know and I will try to make it happen.

Have a safe Autumn all.

September, 2020, saw the following posts here:

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Review – Shadowrun: Slip Streams

30 September, 2020

Slip StreamsShadowrun: Slip Streams is very much a book for Games Masters, lots of information, lots of adventure seeds, all expanding on the effects that magic is having on the world. If the magic side of Shadowrun story is your jam, this is the book for you. Otherwise, it is an interesting read and there are no lack of adventure ideas that it throws off. For players, the in game information is a fun read and the new character option is intriguing but not for all campaigns, talk with your GM first.

Shadowrun: Slip Streams, is a Plot Sourcebook for Shadowrun, Sixth World Edition, expanding on the magical situation across the world but with a focus on events affecting North America.

As is expected, it begins with a brief introduction and a glossary of terms related to astral space, this is very handy and important to what follows. Then the requisite fiction section before the meat of the product begins.

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Tuesday Magic Item – Metropolitan Signal Whistle

29 September, 2020

A whistle for help“Good to see a city with properly organized wardens,” said Voddick taking a drink from a fresh tankard of ale.

Gollaon nodded idly.  “It is a challenging thing to organize well.”

“So true, the opportunities for corruption are numerous,” said Voddick.  “It take people convinced of the value of laws to run such a system well.”

“Law?  What about justice?” asked Gollaon.

“Good laws, ably administered are a step towards justice,” replied Voddick.  “But true justice always proves elusive, so we do our best.”

“I will drink to that.”

Metropolitan Signal Whistle

These whistles are usually made of brass to a standardized design, practical and tough, they get the job done without being showy.

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Visit Scenic Petrichor

29 September, 2020

I have been running learn to play D&D sessions monthly, so I thought I should consolidate the information on the usual location to make it easier for the players to reference.

Petrichor

What emerges after the rain?Many odd places exist in the Sea of Stars, one such place was the Wash, a large island that was constantly under pounding rain.  While a few hardy (or unfortunate) souls set up small settlements to sell fresh water to passing ships, expeditions into the exterior never returned or came back with stories of washed out plains and low hills of mud.  Even the expansionist powers gave up on settling the fringe of an island whose only resource was rainwater.

Then, the rain stopped, entirely.  The omnipresent clouds, blew away.  Suddenly, the Wash was just another island.  Cautiously, exploration began, after all the rains could come back at any time.  To their surprise, there were forests, mountains and lush grasslands, rivers and streams, even ruins.  It was as if the real nature of the land had been held ayont, waiting for the rains to stop before they returned.

Now, there is a great rush to claim this new land.  While in the capital, lawyers and surveyors argue over who owns the lands, everyone knows that it will be the facts on the ground that ultimately decide the division of this new realm.

Setting: The Sea of Stars, a new frontier thereof.  Characters who are venturing upon such land for reasons of their own.

  •    Continuity: Episodic with continuity, season arcs.
  •    Rating: PG13, themes of colonialism, slavery and exploitation are likely to appear.
  •    Style: Exploration, politics, community building.
  •    Tone: Serious but not aiming for dark, just thoughtful.

Rules: D&D5, with standard Sea of Stars modifications (see character creation notes here). Read the rest of this entry »

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New Magic Item – Shield of Balance

22 September, 2020

Is balance just?“Why did we get chosen to take the fight to the enemy wizards again?” asked Voddick as another bolt of fire sizzled by him.

“Triple pay and a bounty?” replied Gollaon snapping a shot off with his bow.

“Oh, right,” nodded Voddick just before something slammed into his shield.  “Acid?  I just got that shield.”  He said tossing the shield aside as the acid continued to eat it way through its layers.

“Let’s catch up with our brave leader, his shield has been magicked to resist such things, I think.”

Shield of Balance

These shield are always fairly large and often decorated with a simple symbol of balance, being painted half black and half white is common, on the back are inscribed complex calculations of the seasons and paired oppositional symbols of the elements.

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