Where Does Your Muse Live?

Anyone who’s a Dungeon Master, and even a Player as well, knows how much work it takes to come up with a “good” idea. I might be at an unfair advantage, with living most of my time on a college campus learning my Writing Arts major. I doubt that has a huge influence on what is always pounding away at my brain, though.

So, for anyone looking at this post: how do you get your idea? Where does your Muse live and how do you manage to get into contact with it?

For me, it comes a lot of times from fairy tales and classical mythology. It’s one of my passions in life: something that I adore and am always happy to learn more about and read extensively. It comes from a love of the magical and mystic arts, the arcane and unknown, as well as the sometimes other-worldly. Preferences of inspiration descend largely from the tales from Celtic peoples: the stories of the Tuatha de Danaan, of Cu Chulainn and deities taking their anger out on mere, puny mortals. Sometimes it changes to Japanese and Egyptian, depending on the setting of the epic being told through player characters.

Surprisingly, I find that I like building worlds better after the people in my sessions have already developed their protagonists. Not only is it easier because the players have already made a back story, in a way they have created the world. With this method, you can make sure that these citizens of your fantasy/sci-fi land feel right at home and are natives to the realm (with the exception of if a character is not from that plane of existence but they are the odd one out).

Niden map
My current campaign, ‘Masks of the Sidhe’, is set in the world of Niden. Each of my players hail from a different region, created largely by them. As a DM, I responded.

Here is an example. The basis of the characters created the culture. Some are better then others for this, while some characters do not have a detailed enough background to assist in this or made after the world was established.

  • Pew Pew- Kitsune Bard. A raider hailing from southern Igniis/Agmald. Very much with a ‘Mad Max’ aspect to him, which lends  this region to be more like the plains.
  • Tea- Avariel Sorcerer. Hails from the Elemental Plane of Chaos but summoned into the city of Highbirch, the capitol of Igniis. This dictates a rich artisan culture filled with mages and scholars.
  • Boron- Dwarf Fighter. Raised by full-fledged Orcs in Netrus. With this, Netrus is a land devoid of much civilization and is full of monsters and warring tribes.
  • Jiyujin- Kitsune Ranger. A natural-born hunter from Agmald, he is heavily in tuned with nature and the natural world. His back story gives the notion that this country is heavily forested, and possibly like medieval Europe.
  • Kiltric- Human Fighter. Disgraced from his family for abandoning his post in war time, he wishes to never return to Ochines. From the description of his past, it leads to imagery of a Spanish-based court life (at least in my head it does).

Some of my ideas are chocked up to literature as well. With Niden, even though magic has a strong presence in the world, much of it is based off of Westeros in George R.R Martin’s ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series: while there are fantastical elements, often times it is in small ways such as a mage super-heating sand to form glass or a druid Wild Shaping in a bull-fighting arena. Other times, it’s not in merely the world construction but the kinds of non-playable characters they find. Everything from Sugar Plum Faeries from ‘The Nutcracker’ to tricksters a la ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. The clues to their inspiration are subtle.

In the back of my mind also, I am always (and I mean always) thinking about music that  I can utilize. If you look at my iTunes Library, I have a playlist for both campaigns I run. Filled with video game soundtracks, scores for battles and ambient background sounds, sounds can set the tone better then may of the most well-crafted words. But I try to use them sparingly: if a situation calls for music, there shall be music. I am not going to have a ballad playing in a graveyard: I will have wind whipping and ghostly moaning from beyond the grave.


 

Now that I’ve talked about where I find my own Muse, I want to know: where do you guys find yours? Post them down below, let’s get a conversation going and share stories of inspiration and fancy. Until next time, may you always roll 20’s!

 

 

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The Water’s Safe, Right? Shark People for DnD 5e

So, one of my players, bless his soul, always manages to create some damned interesting character concepts. Goliath Rogue, Air Genasi Fighter-Bard, and now… well, a Street Shark.

Okay,so a Street Shark isn’t the race but it’s the basis of what I’m laying out on the table for you totally radical guys and gals out there. Hope you enjoy something a bit different from what I normally concoct!


 

 

 

“There’s no way that your commonplace water-dweller could put that much of a bite in a ship. Not big enough for a dragon turtle, nor with the suckers of a giant squid. But the rows of hundreds of chipped knife-like teeth pointed us in the direction of the thing that had been pestering all of our community. We found that his name was Equior and that he had a serious problem with teething. He paid us with enough gold pieces to make repairs, and we all found that he makes some very good cerviche in return. Got a couple of pictures of him, turns out he’s a pretty good kid…with lots of teeth.”

Terrors of the seas and coastal regions, many a sailor and his livelihood has been terrorized by these monstrous beings. A hybrid of shark and man, Charcardins are toothy creatures who are both quick to kill and are swift in their watery home.

Oftentimes, they are misunderstood as well. Dwellers along the ocean side paint them as blood thirsty things. In truth, quite like tieflings, they are misunderstood and have a vibrant and exotic culture that dwells beneath the waves. Making homes out of abandoned shipwrecks, inactive volcanoes and coral reefs, it is rare that they have an established settlement upon the land.

Charcardins, depending on their sub type, lean in favor of either life styles that look kindly upon feats of strength and those which require nimbleness. Living in a harsh environment has conditioned them to be self-reliant on their natural traits, to which they utilize in much of their waking lives.

  • Size: towering over most, you are still considered a Medium humanoid creature. Granted, you push the envelope for that.
  • Languages: You know Common and Aquan, the language of water elementals and those from the Elemental Plane of Water.
  • Stat Increase: Your Constitution goes up by two. Charcadins are hearty things that have survived the destruction of many an empire and species.
  • Aquatic: You can breathe underwater and out of water. However, dry arid environments will see slow gradual harm for you. For each three hours you go without water of some kind, you will take 1d6 damage. Most Charcardins find ways to utilize water-distributing apparatus to work around their natural dependency on water.
  • Dark Vision: You can see up to 60 feet in the dark in shades of grey, and normally in dim lighting.
  • Natural Weaponry: As a beast-like race, you have a natural bite attack. Your jaws do 1d6 piercing damage plus either your Strength or Dexterity modifier.
  • Trance: If you are knocked prone, you must make a DC saving throw Wisdom 13 at the start of your turn. If you do not make the save, you do nothing for this turn. However, it wears off during the next round of combat.

Sub-Types

Deep-Dweller: The largest of the sub types, Deep-Dwellers swim in darker waters then
most and as such, do not see as many threats besides their own kind and greater predators such as giant squid and kraken. These are the ones that are expert pearl divers and oftentimes will go searching for sunken treasure: many adventurers employ them to dive for riches to return to them…for a price.

  • Stat Increase: Your Strength goes up by one.
  • Scary Faces: You have proficiency in the Intimidation skill.
  • Goliath-Like Strength: You are considered one size category larger when it comes to Grapple and Strength checks made against you.
  • Blood Frenzy: Deep Dwellers live in areas where food may be scarce, and are keenly attuned to the spilling of blood. When a creature within 20 feet of you reaches bloodied (or half of their hit points), roll a Wisdom saving throw of 15. If you make the save, nothing happens. If you roll underneath it, you instinctually run towards that target and any that may be in your way. Any person in your path must make a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or take 2d6 piercing damage from your jaws gnashing at them. You regain this feature after a short or a long rest.

 

Tidesurfer: As the name shows, Tidesurfers reside in the shallows of reefs and shoreline shipwrecks. They are oftentimes more sociable then Deep-Dwellers, frequently coming into contact with sailors and fishermen. Their patterns on their skin are much more varied but also scarred and chewed up from being accidently snared in nets.

  • Stat Increase: Your Dexterity goes up by one.
  • Swift Swimmers: Raging waters do not impede your movements. If fast currents would otherwise halve your movement (either walking or swimming), this does occur for you.
  • Quickfin: You gain proficiency with the Stealth skill. Because of your slimmer size and smaller stature, you learned to use this to your advantage to evade predators in the wild.
  • Thrash: You violently whip up the terrain around you, flailing yourself about and looking to cause confusion rather then harm your enemy. When you have an enemy grappled or one is prone, the target must make a Wisdom saving throw 13 or be confused. If they make the saving throw, they take 2d4 slashing damage from the sharpness of your skin. You must let go of the target after the Thrash. You regain usage of this after a short or long rest.

Charcardin concept belongs to Faith D’Ambrosio, inspired by a Jonathan Cain

All art belongs to their respective owners in the order they appear: TheCGCyguy, Zedrin and Nakanoart (all of DeviantArt.com)

Bubble, Toil and Trouble: Hags for 5e

I think I’m a bit deranged for saying that I adore the hags in DnD 5e. There, I said it. I love hags, even though they are terrifying, hideous witches who are the embodiment of putrid female aspects and the typical witch figure. So why would I ever want to make an entire blog post about hags?

Because I can and will.

So, without further waiting, here is a new background for your players as well as a playable Hag race! Keep in mind that due to how it is a monster  conversion, it may not be terribly balanced and it was an attempt at making a “plausible” hag PC race.


COVEN-RAISED

59ea14001bc7d838509ff5729eeb013fAs a child, you thought that your upbringing was normal, until your eyes were opened to the world that it was anything but. You were raised amidst a hag coven, as one of their own. Perhaps you were stolen from a human family in order to play a trick on your blood relatives, or the leader of a coven wanted someone to pass their ways down through. Regardless, your life has been full of sorcery, hexes and charms amidst a circle that some would deem downright monstrous.

Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Nature

Tool Proficiencies: Alchemist’s tools

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: A small ritual knife, a piece of bone jewelry, the symbol of your coven, and a pouch containing 5 gp

Feature: Circle Connections

Other hags or those in wicked covens and/or cults can pick up on your ties to their mysterious way of life, and you find it easy to converse with its members. A hag will treat you as a friend, or at least someone who can be trusted easier than others who do not understand coven-life, and will provide shelter and food of a reasonable accommodation that they can provide. Hags also find comfort in speaking to you, and are much more likely to reveal secrets and information to a fellow hag associate.

Coven Role:

In each coven, every person has a dictated role ranging from the mundane to the head of their arcane circle. Roll a d6 at random or choose from the table below

1: Head of the coven 4: Animal handler
2: Herbalist/ expert of plantlife 5: Blood-letter
3: Oracle to the gods/spirits 6: Lore-keeper

Suggested Characteristics:

Those raised in hag covens, be it Green, Night or Sea, all share a thirst for dark knowledge and magic. They like to bring mischief and ruin upon others, but hold their coven as their closest companions through thick and thin. A person raised by a hag community often is the coven’s link to the outside world beyond their circle, as they are not shunned and hated by mere appearance alone. No, that is when they find out who their family is.

D8  Personality Trait

1 The rules of the coven are absolute.
2 If anything is shiny or looks vaguely interesting, it belongs in my pocket.
3 Nothing comes between the success of my family.
4 I am the most beautiful creature in the land. If someone disagrees with this, I pity them.
5 The more wealthy you are, the less of a friend I see you as.
6 Sometimes I wish that some would see us beyond our skin appearances.
7 Wearing the guise of another fills me with glee.
8 Who can resist a little blood sacrifice?

D6       Ideal

1  If one is above you in the coven, then their word is law. No questions asked. (Lawful)
2 You are one of us. That is reason enough for me to trust you. (Good)
3 Vanity is like a virus that needs to be purged completely. (Chaotic)
4 Through any means necessary, I shall rule the coven and hag-kind possibly. (Chaotic)
5 You scratch my back, I’ll return the favor. (Neutral)
6 Whoever said I can’t raise hell clearly hasn’t seen my past times! (Evil)

D6      Bond

1 It is my obligation to see my fellow coven-members are safe.
2 My life is a mystery surrounded by enigmas. I must see that they are deciphered.
3 I once had a familiar who I treated like family. I wish I knew where he/she went.
4 My lover is a man who I can never be with, or else the child would be a monster.
5 Isolation brings me peace and insight.
6 My revenge for a person will be as fiery as an inferno.

D6      Flaw

1 I will do just about anything for knowledge. Anything.
2 That which is more beautiful then me will feel my wrath in full.
3 I fear that I will never be a contributor to my coven, and will falter.
4 I hold a deep-seated hatred for another coven member. I feel they overshadow me.
5 The meager amount of money I have is spent on alcohol.
6 The potions I make I exchange for… other such goods on the black market.

 

Race: Hag

Stat Increase: Intelligence by 2

Move Speed: 30 ft

Size: Medium.

Dark Vision: You can see in the dark with no light up to 60 feet in grey colors.

Magic Resistance: The hag has advantage on saving throws against spells and spell-like effects.

Languages: Common, Sylvan

Innate Spellcasting: A hag knows these spells at the corresponding levels

1: Dancing Lights

3: Faerie Fire

5: Crown of Madness

Illusionary Appearance: The hag can cast the illusion of a size medium a smaller creature on itself. Its stats remain the same as the hag has in their true form. The illusion breaks when the Hag is dead, unconscious or when she wills it done.

Hag Sub-Races:

greenhagGreen Hag: The atypical ‘witch’, Green Hags love bringing ill fortune upon those and find wicked glee in causing ruin. Building their homes and lives in misty moors, overgrown forests and peat bogs, they conduct their magic in the groves of trees. Pox-marked with moles, boils and scars from their ritualistic behavior, they seldom reveal their true form when socializing with others.

Stat Increase: Wisdom +1
Additional Language: You know the Draconic language, as being some of the most leaned hags in comparison to others.

Mimicry: The Hag can make in imitation of any creature, humanoid or not, that it has heard. Anyone within hearing range of the Hag’s call must make a DC 13 Wisdom save to identify that it is a mimicry and not a real creature.

Sharp-Handed: The Green Hag, unlike others, has deadly sharp fingernails that it uses like swords or daggers. Your Unarmed Strikes do 1d6 + your Strength modifier.

Invisible Passage: The hag magically turns invisible until she attacks or until her concentration ends (as if concentrating on a spell). While in such a state, the hag leaves no physical evidence of her passage and can only be tracked through magic. Her equipment as well is invisible.

 

annisNight Hag: Like all hags, these terrifying creatures are just as hideous but with one caveat: they have become more then just malevolent fae creatures, and now are tainted with the darkness of the Nine Hells. They take terrifying joy in the torture of others, moreso then others, from being corrupted even further by demons and fiendish creatures.

Stat Increase: Charisma +1

Additional Language: You know Infernal as a language, the language of demons and fiends.

Nightmare Spells: In addition to the spells available to all hags racially, you may use the following spells a certain number of times during the day. You regain these at dawn the following day.

Twice a day: Magic Missile, Detect Magic

Once a day: Sleep

Change Shape: The hag magically transforms into a Small or Medium female humanoid or back to her true form. Her stats are always the same and her equipment she is wearing is not transformed. If she dies, she reverts back to her true form.

Nightmare Haunting: While on the Ethereal Plane, should you have the ability to do so, the hag magically touches a sleeping humanoid on the Material Plane. A protection from good and evil spell cast on the target prevents the contact as does magic circle. As long as contact persists, the target has terrible visions: if they last for 1 hour, the target takes no benefits from it’s rest and it takes 2d6 psychic damage. If the concentration is broken by an outside force from the hag, it instead takes the damage. If she kills the target in their sleep and it is of an evil alignment, the soul is trapped in the hag’s soul bag.

 

sea_hagSea Hag: Lonely even by hag standards, these are by far the most hideous of the three sub-types. Isolating themselves in ship wrecks and dismal coastlines, the first sign of beauty will drive the Sea Hag blindingly mad or at least extremely jealous. They want to corrupt anything beautiful, no matter what the cost.

Stat Increase: Dexterity +1

Additional Language: You known Aquan, the language of water elementals.

Amphibious: The Sea Hag can breathe in and out of water. She also has advantage on Grapple checks underwater and her move speed is not slowed down by swift currents. In addition to this, your swim speed is 40 feet.

Horrific Appearance: A foe that starts its turn within 30 feet of the Hag and can see it’s true form must make a DC 11 saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is frightened for a minute, and the creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each turn with disadvantage if the hag is within sight. If the save is successful, the creature is immune to the hag’s Horrific Appearance for the next 24 hours.

Grave Stare: The hag targets one frightened creature she can see within 30 feet of her. If the target can see the hag, it must make a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or take 2d6 psychic damage. If this reduces the target to 0 HP, the hag gains 1d4+ her Constitution modifier temporary hit points.


 

Additional Night Hag Items: As says the Monster Manual, Night Hags carry on them two magical items. It is your Dungeon Master’s decision to allow a PC Night Hag to begin with these items, however they may choose to let a PC craft them later on. As well, your DM may allow any Hag to have such items or have variants for both Green and Sea Hags.

Heartstone:  A black gem that allows a night hag to become ethereal while in her possession. It cures any disease as well, but takes 30 days to craft.

Soul Bag: When an evil humanoid dies due to a Night Hag’s Nightmare Haunting,  the soul is caught in a black bag made of flesh. It can hold only one evil soul at a time and only the hag who crafted the bag can catch a soul in it. It takes 7 days to craft as well as a humanoid sacrifice (whose flesh is used to make the bag).


 

A lot went into this very complex monstrous race, but I think I pulled it off! If you want to play this and give me feedback, please do!