Hey folks! In the first Snakes on the Brain installment I introduced you to several snake themed spells commonly used by reptile and serpentine monsters and races. These spells came from Dragon Magazine No. 235 and provided a cool flavor to the tried and true spell lists we have from official fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons content. In this part I’ve pulled some spells from Dragon Magazine No. 330 as well as a bit of lore and a new way to cast spells with a snaky vibe. These snake magic spells could also be encountered in the hands of those who associate with serpents and would be perfect in the hands of a yuan-ti backed snake cult. Combined with the spells from the first go around these spells also make a great framework for a snake themed spellcaster in 5E D&D. I can imagine a druid draped in snake bones and living snakes making his way through a dungeon dealing out coiling, venomous wrath upon all his opponents.
Hey folks! Dungeons & Dragons has a long history of really cool spells and Nerdarchy recently went over one of my all time favorites — sticks to snakes — updating it for fifth edition D&D for a second time (once in a recent video and several years before through Lost Lore). This all got me thinking of other old spells I came across in my decades playing D&D. I started looking through old supplements and Dragon Magazines and realized there had been a good number of snake themed spells uncovered from several sources, notably the 3.5E D&D’s Complete Arcana and two issues of Dragon Magazine (Nos. 235 and 330). There are plenty of other snake spells out there but these three sources provided a good sampling of serpentine arcana from previous editions. I have done my best to update them to 5E D&D standards and language. After these updated spells I included a few original spells of my own creation to bring some new among the old. Many of these old spells are likely intended for a Dungeon Master to use against adventurers but, like most spells there is no reason they can’t be used by player characters. I hope you find these spells useful for your adventurers or monsters in your 5E D&D games.
Hey all! One of the more interesting elements of fantasy, mythology, folklore and even history is death and how people interact with it. In fantasy roleplaying games like fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons this is often represented through necromancy and the dark arts accompanying this sort of magic. I feel there is much more to death as an element of 5E D&D. Whether it is what happens when our characters die or how our characters interact with the dead and undead, I am not a believer in the idea all such goings on are inherently evil. History is full of people who have or claim to have a special connection with dead spirits — speaking to them, communing with them and even calling upon them in times of need. We see this represented in subclasses like the Path of the Ancestral Guardian for barbarians and both Grave and Death domains for clerics.
Hey folks! The concept of racial feats and potential racial subclasses are great ways to add flavor and texture to a fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign world. Special techniques, tricks and traits not only add to the depth of fantasy races and cultures but also allow for expansion of the themes of the various races by building off of distinguishing characteristics and traits. In my own campaign dragonborn are experiencing their own dark age where the dragons who stood as leaders and gods for their society have been stripped from the world by neighboring kingdoms. For these dragonborn barbarian is a great fit for a character class and to this end I created a Primal Path for the 5E D&D barbarian drawing upon the draconic spirituality and ancestry of the dragonborn.
Hey folks! The idea of a draconic playable race for Dungeons & Dragons has been favorite of mine since the days when Dragonlance introduced me to draconians (which we could not play). There were also weredragons, half dragons, and even a race of dragon centaurs my friends and I made. Comic books and science fiction also presented many concepts of the dragon man. Dragonborn finally codified this idea into a playable race for characters in fourth edition D&D and finally we had something in official rules to allow players to engage the fantasy of playing some sort of dragon. Two articles in Dragon #182 and #183 introduced young me to the concept of the primal, elemental, nasty linnorm, based not on the more fairy tale versions of dragons we see commonly in D&D but on the sorts of draconic beasts from Scandinavian tales. It is from these very different dragons I developed the wyrmkyne for 5E D&D.
Hey Folks! By now you’re likely aware Wizards of the Coast’s next big offering for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden. Set in the titular Icewind Dale this new campaign adventure has been described by Chris Perkins as a horror story and various interviews and discussions of reveal it plays on themes of isolation, paranoia and an unforgiving environment. Inspirations for the book include movies such as Alien, The Thing and even Jaws. I don’t know about you all, but I’m on board. But I don’t play in the Forgotten Realms. Why am I so thrilled for this new book? The answer is simple. I have been working on my own cold weather setting for a while now and this promises to be an amazing tool box for my own personal campaign much in the same way that Tomb of Annihilation proved invaluable in my current nautical, island hopping campaign. I’m sure there will be a good amount of source material surrounding the adventures much like previous 5E D&D books. It has already been revealed there will be a whole lot of new monsters leaning toward cold climates.
Hey folks! With my current fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign being an island hopping nautical adventure I got to thinking of new character options. I also love squid and octopus and all manner of cephalopods so naturally I decided to design a humanoid octopus playable race for 5E D&D. The oomquar present the opportunity to play a character with a very alien vibe and many built in roleplaying options. As one of these tentacled denizens of the deep your character faces the fear of aberrations and other strange monsters while having the opportunity to dispel these prejudices and preconceptions. Oomquar easily fit into any coastal or nautical campaign and can even venture further afield though they will be uncomfortable and cranky (roleplay!).
Many times players and Dungeon Masters want to play a campaign with the feel of a specific mythological style. While Dungeons & Dragons makes for a remarkable tool set for building and playing any setting you wish the races presented in the game are generally written in such a way as to be either two generic or, as in the case of the dragonborn and tieflings, too specific in their backgrounds. When creating a customized setting the ultimate goal should be to provide maximum player options while maintaining the style and flavor of the game and setting you desire. Let’s focus on how to do so for one of my favorite settings steeped in the feel and flavor of Scandinavian and northern European myth and folklore.
Whatever the tale of woe, we have all heard a tabletop roleplaying game character backstory where the character is left with little or nothing good in their life and either left alone in the world or forced away from everything they know and love. While a backstory with brutal pathos can be fun and fit many character concepts, for an RPG character they seem so often to be the norm or at least near enough to it.
“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of the infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”
When considering aberrations in your fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons games it is important to remember the nature of these horrors. Minds and bodies made of stuff from beyond your campaign world, aberrations are truly alien things without connection to the physical laws and regular psychology of even the most foreign minds. Mastering the presentation of aberrations can be tricky, and to keep them from presenting as nothing more than just another monster require subtlety and often restraint.
Many campaign settings strive for a more human-focused style but this often turns away many players as they see the lack of fantastic races as limiting character options. This is mechanically true if you get rid of all these races and do nothing to compensate for their absence. Often this is done through having cultural archetypes become replacements for distinct D&D playable races. Another way to accomplish this is to simply reskin character races as human cultures from your all human campaign setting. In this way, the standard assortment of D&D playable races are still available but appear and play like variations of humans.
The halfling race in Dungeons & Dragons is most often defined by an appreciation for home and a need for the sanctuary of creature comforts. To many other races, even elves, this often lends to halflings being looked upon as soft, needy, or unfit for the world at large. Halflings of course, will tell you this is quite correct and also completely wrong. For this diminutive race home goes well beyond their well appointed under-hill dwellings. A halfling’s home will always be in their heart and no matter where they go the will have a part of it with them. Moreover, these small gregarious folk have the gift of creating a community wherever they may be and, more importantly, with anyone they grow close to. In this regard, an adventuring party can become a surrogate family to a halfling travelling far from home.
Say the word “dwarf” to a fantasy fan and the first thing that likely comes to mind is their opulent beards. Throughout the majority of fantasy literature and roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, dwarves are immediately identified with the follicle splendor of their facial hair. What follows is a brief collection of ideas for ways in which dwarves might use or augment their beards. While background information and D&D mechanics have been provided this is more to provide easy inclusion in a game. Feel free to alter the game mechanics to suit your style of play.
Trolls as depicted in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons products bear little more than a superficial resemblance to the creature of myth and lore they are based on. Like many creatures from our past they have been compartmentalized and streamlined for the sake of mechanics until they are truly a different creature. While it is in no way meant to be an exhaustive or completely academic article, this exercise attempts to bring back some of the ancient context from whence the troll came.