3 Places of Power to Drop Into Your 5E D&D Game
Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted explore places of power for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Discovering strange locales, forgotten sites and other regions rife with unusual energies comes up pretty often in 5E D&D games. Like any other sort of encounter these places of power represent a point in the story where forward progress stops to allow players to describe their characters’ actions. Engaging with places of power and interacting with what they find there can be a great benefit. Sometimes these benefits are mechanical in nature and sometimes characters walk away with intangible rewards like knowledge, a contact or a special new quest. So let’s get into it.
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Engaging encounters for 5E D&D
Incorporating a place of power into a game of 5E D&D is a versatile tool to keep at a Dungeon Master’s disposal. Adventurers are no strangers to stumbling upon strange or ancient chambers, groves and other localized regions. Poking around and exploring these spaces offers opportunities for using skills and tools, magic and good old fashioned curiosity. What characters uncover can help with their current quest, unravel longtime mysteries, lead in new directions and so much more.
Interacting with a place of power in a special way can bestow all sorts of boons on 5E D&D characters. In the video Dave and Ted discuss where and how these benefits arise. Something else to keep in mind is when. The party could discover a place of power after a climactic battle with a major villain as part of their reward. They might just as easily find such a place before the big fight and their careful exploration gives them a powerful asset heading into the combat. An epic confrontation might even go down within a place of power — and maybe the opponents can take advantage of the benefits too!
Literally any time a DM wants they can deploy a place of power to engage the players. In the three places of power below you’ll see a suggested activation procedure, a temporary boon and an extended boon. A DM should feel free to swap them around, change them completely, bestow benefits merely from being in the location or however they want to handle them in their game. Engaging the players is the goal here. Characters receive a benefit so the engagement is rewarded and the emerging story of the adventurers gains an extra little side story.
In the example places of power there’s no DC or other parameters given for interacting. This is left to each individual DM to decide what works best for the players in their games.
Place of Arcane Power
Adventurers discover an enormous crystal with countless facets. (Any color the DM thinks sounds cool.) It’s impossible to tell if it was placed here or it’s growing up from beneath the ground. The size and scope is staggering. This crystal would give a giant pause. Almost imperceptible runes and sigils are carved into the facets of the crystal. A character proficient with jeweler’s tools notices these and recognizes the magical technique. These crystals were used by an ancient magocracy as a network of connected pocket dimensions. Maybe there’s a means of transport between different crystals elsewhere in the world. Get crazy with it!
Activation Procedure. Interacting with the runes by casting prestidigitation causes them to glow and project outward onto a nearby surface or simply in the air. By manipulating the proper sequence of runes this way the crystal creates a shimmering portal to…somewhere!
Temporary Boon. Stepping inside the portal leads to a pocket dimension within the crystal. The space is the size of a comfortable room. Creatures inside the room are affected by Rary’s telepathic bond along with any other willing creatures in the space. The effect lasts 1 hour and extends even to other planes of existence (so it lasts even after creatures leave the pocket dimension).
Extended Boon. For the next 24 hours whenever a creature who stepped inside the crystal casts a spell it’s as if it was cast using a spell slot one higher.
Place of Divine Power
A large circular reflecting pool of carved marble appears pristine and untouched by the ages despite the surroundings. (Maybe it’s in a temple, maybe it’s just sitting there in an Underdark cavern.) Colorful globules fill the pool, shifting and morphing in a dazzling array. A character proficient with glassblower’s tools recognizes the globules as stained glass in a strange liquid form and suspect touching it would be dangerous. The globules constantly move about to reflect whatever is directly above the pool. This unusual reflecting pool harkens to a faith based organization shrouded in mystery.
Activation Procedure. Interacting with the globules by casting thaumaturgy causes them to reshape into a scene of important religious significance. Causing the image to shift into a particular arrangement causes the glass to solidify and objects hidden in the image can be retrieved!
Temporary Boon. An image of a long forgotten deity solidifies in stained glass and rises from the pool. Speaking in celestial the entity blesses those in the area. One weapon of each creature is affected by a holy weapon spell.
Extended Boon. The stained glass figure coalesces into a Celestial Spirt and accompanies the party for 24 hours as an ally. The stats for this creature are in the summon celestial spirit spell from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. In lieu of this material the Unearthed Arcana version works, or any celestial creature (or any creature at all!). In addition to aiding the party in combat characters could learn quite a lot from a forgotten deity’s avatar.
Place of Primal Power
Like all DMs I’m borrowing an idea from elsewhere for this one. Several years ago one of our writers came up with the idea of Druid Portals. I loved the idea right away back then and I’ve used these as a place of power in my own games more than once. There’s some other Flavour Shots with other terrific ideas but this first one is still the best. Check it out here.