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Updated: 12 hours 3 min ago

horrifying goblin spells

Tue, 04/03/2018 - 14:29

I’ve talked before about never repeating the same combat encounter. Here’s one way to vary those boring ol’ goblin encounters: GOBLIN MAGIC, a twisted gift from Maglubiyet to his goblin worshipers that they might terrify civilized folk and provide creepy novelty to jaded D&D players.

About half of all goblin tribes have a goblin magician who knows 2 to 4 random spells (out of the 12 spells that I’ve written). The identity of the whole tribe is influenced by the particular spells known: for instance, if the magician can cast Silver Fire, the tribe will have a tendency to mad rampage and arson; if the magician can cast Clinging Illusion, the local people will live in fear of horrifying tricks; if the magician can cast Create Bugbear, the tribe’s bugbear assassins will haunt the night.

goblin magicians

Every goblin magician is a level 1 spellcaster with 1-2 random cantrips, 1-2 random 1st level spells, and 2 level-1 spell slots.

Goblin magicians have stats as goblins except they have 21 hp; their spellcasting stat is intelligence; and their spell DC is 10.

becoming a goblin magician

A goblin may become a magician in one of 2 ways:
1: Occasionally, a young adult goblin spontaneously develops magical powers. The other goblins revere and respect such goblin magicians, and occasionally eat them, because:
2: A goblin can gain a magician’s spellcasting ability and spells by eating its heart. (Not sure what will happen if a non-goblin eats the heart. I bet the eater learns a goblin spell and also picks up some permanent curse or insanity.)

magicians and silver

You’ll notice in the spell descriptions below that a lot of goblin magic is powered by silver. Goblin spell casters value silver coins, maybe even more than gold.

goblin spells

CANTRIPS: roll 1d6 twice. On a duplicate roll, the magician only knows one cantrip.

1: clinging illusion. As silent image but permanent until touched. Uses: setting traps (example: bear trap hidden by illusory pile of leaves) and nasty surprises (example: the blacksmith’s head disguised as a pile of gold)
2: madden object. Component: somatic. Choose one nonmagical object within 60 feet. It becomes animate for one minute: it can’t move but it rolls initiative and can make melee attacks (5 feet, +2 to hit, 1d8 damage). It has AC 12 and 1 hp and becomes inanimate when killed or when the shaman Maddens another object. Uses: turn enemies’ weapons against them; bottleneck them by animating doors; plague, bamboozle, and bebother them from hiding.
3: drink fear. When you hit someone with a melee or ranged attack, you may cast this spell as a bonus action. The target must make a Wisdom save or be afraid of you for one turn. While afraid in this way, they can only use the disengage or dash action and must move away from you. When someone fails this save against you, you gain 10 temporary hit points. Uses: get rid of warriors who threaten you; grow stronger from the terror of the weak.
4: fool’s bargain. Touch up to 10 silver coins and they turn to gold coins. They have a very faint magic aura of alteration. They turn back to silver if touched by sunlight. Uses: setting traps for greedy humans; cheating humans.
5: ugly mask. Component: 10 silver pieces, which are expended. Shape change into a halfling or gnome or other small race. You retain your stats, and your appearance is random and unique each time you cast the spell. When you are killed you revert to your true form. Uses: luring people into ambushes; going into civilized settlements to trade.
6: wither. Action, or Reaction when an adjacent creature is about to attack or run away. Range 30. Constitution save. EITHER: One of the target’s arms withers and becomes unusable. It drops what it is holding in that hand and can’t use that arm. OR: the target’s feet wither. It falls down and can’t stand up. Target repeats the save at the end of every turn.

LEVEL 1 spells: roll 1d6 twice. On a duplicate roll, the magician only knows one first level spell.

1: silver fire. Duration 1 minute. Each turn, you can fire up to 3 balls of silver fire at different creatures or flammable objects within 30 feet. They automatically hit and set the target on silver fire. This does 1 point of damage per turn for the duration of the spell or until someone spends an action to extinguish the flame. Goblins who are set on fire are filled with ecstatic glee: they lose their instinct of self preservation and live their few remaining turns only for arson, death and destruction. On a hit to a creature or object, blazing goblins set their target on silver fire. When the duration of the spell ends, all fires are extinguished. Component: 1 silver piece expended per ball of fire thrown. Uses: cause absolute blazing chaos at a town fair; create goblin kamikaze warriors; make enemy warriors waste time extinguishing themselves while the magician escapes.
2: create hobgoblin. You point to a goblin of your tribe. It dies and collapses into a boneless heap. Then the corpse swells as a naked hobgoblin begins tearing its way out of the dead goblin’s mouth. The hobgoblin is restrained until it spends an action tearing itself free. Use: when your tribe is threatened and you need a backbone of mighty warriors. Downside: the hobgoblin will demand that the tribe create an upper class of hobgoblin warriors, who will enslave the rest of the goblins and turn the tribe into a war machine. Component expended: 100 sp.
3: create bugbear. As create hobgoblin but with a bugbear. Uses: when you want a strong ally to defeat enemies. Downside: after the battle, the bugbear will hang around bullying the tribe for a few months till it wanders away. Component expended: 100 sp.
4: create gnasher. As create hobgoblin but with a giant misshapen mad goblin killing machine called a gnasher: stats of a flesh golem except it’s always berserk and cannot be calmed. Use: as a vindictive final act of destruction right before the heroes (or rival goblins) kill you. Downside: not only will the gnasher kill your enemies, it will almost certainly kill you as well. Cost: 100 sp.
5: accept sacrifice. As a reaction when you would be killed, you and another goblin switch places. The teleported goblin suffers all of the effects of the triggering attack or effect and you suffer none of them (unless you’re still in its area of effect). Uses: stay alive when you would be killed.
6: sleepwalker. Duration 10 minutes, concentration. Up to 3 sleeping or unconscious subjects make a wisdom save with disadvantage. On a failed save, each rises as a sleepwalker (all stats as zombies but the hp of the original creature, or 1 hp if currently at 0 hp). The sleepwalkers follow the telepathic orders of the caster. If concentration ends, the sleepwalkers fall prone in normal sleep. Every time a sleepwalker is damaged, it may make a new save, this time without disadvantage. Note: if sleepwalkers are dropped to 0 hp with non-lethal damage, they fall unconscious but then arise in 1 turn with 1 hp. Uses: ambush sleeping villages and hero camps, make allies kill each other. Capture victims and organize gladiatorial sleepwalker fights.

Note: goblin spells, especially silver fire and clinging illusion, are heavily influenced by James Blaylock’s Elfin Ship novels. Goblin magic may also look familiar to people who played the Mearls D&D game. Other goblin magic was adapted from my previous post on how goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears are related.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

attack spells for dabblers

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 16:07

​Let’s say you’re a D&D character with secondary casting ability, like a paladin, ranger, eldritch knight, arcane trickster, or even a character with the arcane initiate feat. You only have a few low-level spell slots, and your spell save DC is probably not that high because it’s based on your second or third best ability score.

Which of your attack spells will still be useful at high level? Which will drift into irrelevancy?

The highest level monsters tend to have high strength, constitution, and even charisma, as befits the biggest, baddest, and most fearsome monsters in the world. But as monsters get bigger, they don’t get much more nimble, smart, or wise.

If I were really committed to data, this is where I’d have a graph of all six monster attributes from CR 1/8 to 30. It’s too tiresome to do that. But I will go to the trouble of coming up with attribute averages for epic monsters.

The average attributes for the 12 epic-level non-dragon monsters, from the CR 17 Death Knight to the CR 30 Tarrasque, are

(Str 23, dex 14, con 22, int 16, wis 17, cha 20, ac 21)

Let’s say you’re a high level paladin with a spell DC of 16 and a spell attack of +8. As a group, the epic-level monsters will frequently weather your constitution-based spells (55% of the time) and your spell attacks (60% of the time) but will rarely avoid your dexterity-based spells (only making their saving throw 35% of the time) or wisdom-based spells (40% of the time).

When you throw dragons in the mix, the pattern is even more pronounced. The average attributes of the ancient chromatic dragons are

(Str 28, dex 11, con 26, int 16, wis 15, cha 19, ac 20)

So the dragons will beat your constitution-based spell 60% of the time and your spell attacks 55% of the time but a dexterity-based spell only 25% of the time and a wisdom-based spell 35% of the time.

So because monster Dexterity doesn’t scale much, dexterity-based spells rule, right? The only problem is, most dexterity spells are direct hit-point damage spells, and monster hit points scale very well. Your dragon will probably miss its save against your Burning Hands but barely notice its effects.

Therefore, an interesting class of spells are those that require Dex saves and have non-damage effects. Highlights of this category include:

Faerie Fire: all attacks against the target have advantage for a minute! My Druidic arcane initiate character uses this spell. A+ would learn again
Grease and Sleet Storm: creatures fall prone! Good for arcane tricksters and eldritch knights, though neither are from their preferred magic schools.
Web and Evard’s Black Tentacles: creatures are restrained until they take an action to break free with a different attribute check. Again, good for arcane tricksters or eldritch knights though not from preferred schools.

Wisdom-based attack spells are also good for dabblers, and there are a ton of low-level, non-damage spells that require a wisdom save. Highlights include:

Command: make the opponent do something stupid. Good for paladins.
Compelled Duel: monster has disadvantage attacking anyone but you, allied attacks end. Good for paladins.
Tasha’s Hideous Laughter: incapacitates, save ends. On brand for arcane tricksters.
Wrathful Smite: frightened, save ends. Paladin, obviously.
Crown of Madness: opponent attacks a target of your choice, wisdom save ends. It’s a wizard Enchantment spell, so it’s useable by eldritch knights but best for arcane tricksters.
Hold person: paralyzed, wisdom save ends. Wizard Enchantment, best for arcane tricksters.
Fear: fear, must dash away from you, Save ends. Wizard enchantment, best for arcane tricksters.
Hypnotic pattern: incapacitated for 1 minute. Wizard illusion, best for arcane tricksters.
Slow: target is seriously debuffed, save ends. Off-specialty but useful for arcane tricksters and eldritch knights.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs