4 D&D campaign ideas and how you pitch them to hook your players

We’ve all been there. You have an amazing idea for you D&D campaign. Your players seem excited. In character creation all is well and finally the first session starts. If it is a new formed group role play can be a little awkward in the beginning but in the end it feels like everything clicks.

I’ve talked too many DMs that told me about their first session with a new group. Most of the time it went awesome and they couldn’t wait to play again. But in the second session the vibe changes. Players don’t seem as enthusiastic anymore. Of course, when you ask them how they liked the session 10 out of 10 will answer “it was great”. Don’t be fooled it wasn’t.

So what went wrong?

Your campaign idea doesn’t align with their kind of fun (that they expected)

You might have the greatest campaign ideas, but when your players expect something else, it didn’t matter. Imagine to create an elven ranger who loves to explore the wild. You think of mountain ranges, woods, plains. All of a sudden the campaign takes place in the Underdark. It might even technically be wilderness but this wasn’t your point. This is what happens to the players more often than DMs would like to think.

“But we talked about the campaign in Session 0 and we were all on the same page!” You might shout at your screen in demise. Truth is, you probably didn’t or you didn’t mean the same thing. Especially, in a Session 0 with all players present, people tend to go with what the more dominant persons in the social group suggests. In many cases it is a dominant player, in some it is the DM.

So how do you solve this problem? By handing out small campaign pitches. Emphasis on small is important, no one wants to read pages on pages about your ideas. Make them fun and concise. And then, explain what they mean for the players.

Parameters of your campaign ideas

Different campaigns have different foci. While Princes of the Apocalypse is a fight for good against endless masses of cults with a somewhat game-y megadungeon. Curse of Strahd is a sandbox goth fest with mood swings of a neglected teenager. So what are the important parameters to discuss? I present to you a system taken by Matt Colville and changed by me. Matt always emphasizes that a DM should steal for their campaign. So let’s steal this from him and make it our own.

Tone

This is often not necessary if the players are already familiar with you. They know how you tick and what you prefer. But new players might wonder, if the game has a more serious tone or comedic. What about fun pop culture references? How dark will the game be? Is it more of a high fantasy campaign or pulp or low magic? Especially, when you play in a homebrew setting, this is essential.

Sandbox or Story driven

Sandbox games can be awesome, but for newer DMs following the safety of an adventure module is the easier choice. Either way the players need to know what it means for them. There is a disappointing example in the newest WotC adventure Descent into Avernus. Basically they explain to the DM that if the players don’t want to take the initial quest, you need to force them with an armed patrol. If this doesn’t work you send more men or kill them.

This is such a bad practice and astonishing that they would recommend this. The correct way is to tell the players before the campaign. “Look, I have this great story I want to play. Your characters should believably be comfortable with the following kind of hook.” This is not taking away player agency, this is about playing a fun story the DM prepared.

This doesn’t mean the campaign is entirely on rails and decisions don’t matter. It means we can play Dungeons & Dragons with structure. Later on the players might go crazy and change things up, but it should be agreed by all members of the party and the DM, that it is okay.

Social

Let’s go over the three pillars of D&D. How many social encounters are there? How often can problems be solved with talking? This is not about roleplaying. Every group should roleplay and I believe groups inherently find a middle way between all playstyles at the table. This is about how much social constructs like intrigues, betrayals, bonds with NPCs factor the campaign. While Dungeon of the Mad Mage has a low social component, Curse of Strahd has a great amount of encounters solved by negotiating.

Combat

The second pillar of D&D is combat. How much are the players expected to fight? How important is it in your campaign? Some players have no problems with sessions without any combats, others cringe by the lone thought of it. Finding a good answer for this can be hard but answer this question as a DM to yourself: Will there be combat encounters that don’t move the story along? If yes, then you will most likely go for a combat heavy style or with a medium amount.

Exploration

The hardest pillar to do right. How often will the players explore the wilderness and find magical places they don’t understand? What role will travel have in your campaign? There are not nearly enough rules for wilderness encounters in 5th Edition but one can try to make the adventure more exciting by house ruling the environment. Fighting against an avalanche or the wild sea can be memorable without drawing your weapon. 

Tomb of Annihilation is an adventure that comes to mind with an inherent exploration component being a traditional hex crawl. I’ve heard of several groups disliking the style not knowing what they signed up for beforehand.

Buy-in

Lastly one of the most underused topics. How much time and effort do you expect from your players? The worst feeling is when you want your players to care about this great NPC and they don’t. Be clear to your players what your expectations are.

Create campaigns you would love to run

So now with these things in mind you start to plan your campaigns. It doesn’t matter what focus you set for each of the campaigns, you need to make sure you will enjoy it. Don’t pitch a hexcrawl to your group if you hate it. DMs are allowed to have fun too. Give small story description that detail what way the campaign will most likely go, even if you feel like you spoiler anything, you won’t and your players will love the heads up. Everyone knows you go to hell in “Descent into Avernus” or you fight a vampire in “Curse of Strahd”. It doesn’t diminish anyones fun.

5 campaign ideas for D&D in the World of Greyhawk

With this in mind I present to you the five campaign pitches I gave my players for my upcoming campaign. After I sent them the ideas I checked in on everyone one by one and asked what he likes the most and what he would veto strongly against it. If they say they wouldn’t veto, ask them to rank them. Never play a campaign that is on the last place on one of your players list. You will lose them.

The epic adventure one

Your group arrives in the Free City of Greyhawk. You try to find your first job to earn your living. The city is visibly unrest shortly after the Greyhawk Wars but in the shadows different powers try to get a hold of the city. Fight for glory, money and honor to protect the innocent. Make a name for yourself and save the world.

  • Tone: Heroic, Light
  • Story Driven
  • Social: Medium
  • Combat: Medium
  • Exploration: Medium
  • Buy-in: High, please care about the world

This pitch works amazing with my planned In the City’s Shadows adventure path. Check out my first adventure Sickness of the Gnarley Forest to see what unfolds.

The political one

Your group arrives in the Free City of Greyhawk. You try to find your first job to earn your living. The city is visibly unrest shortly after the Greyhawk Wars but in the shadows different powers try to get a hold of the city. Make allies, join factions and find out who is in charge in Greyhawk. Are you okay with who is leading the free city? Gain influence and shape the domain as good as you can or die trying.

  • Tone: Serious, Intriguing
  • Story Driven at the beginning, then high player agency
  • Social: High
  • Combat: Low-Middle
  • Exploration: Low-Middle
  • Buy-in: High, understanding the different factions can be tough

This hook can easily be started with my Sickness of the Gnarley Forest adventure as well but the focus will soon be different. Remember, by choosing this path the players know what is coming and will act accordingly on their own. The same adventures play out totally different just by setting the scene for the campaign beforehand.

The exploration one

Your group arrives in the Free City of Greyhawk. You try to find your first job to earn your living. The city is visibly unrest shortly after the Greyhawk Wars but in the shadows different powers try to get a hold of the city. But after the war the continent is in turmoil. Adventurers are needed more than ever. Find one of the many high paying players of the city and complete exciting explorations. The jobs might be dangerous, they might take you to the greatest treasures you have ever seen, or to your death.

  • Tone: Indiana Jones, Fun, Light
  • Sandbox, take whatever quest you desire
  • Social: Low-Middle
  • Combat: Medium
  • Exploration: High
  • Buy-in: Low-Middle, there might be some lore but nothing too big

You can start this campaign with either Sickness of the Gnarley Forest or with my second adventure Shrine of Maglubiyet. At the beginning it is all about making a name for yourself and finding lucrative jobs that excite you. Beware to not take a job you can’t handle.

The Guild One

Your group arrives in the Free City of Greyhawk. You try to find your first job to earn your living. The city is visibly unrest shortly after the Greyhawk Wars but in the shadows different powers try to get a hold of the city. But you don’t care. Greyhawk is the Gem of Flanaess. Everything is possible in this great city. Make your own Adventurers Guild or take over the existing one. Make money, gain Influence, rule the world, hire henchlings. The world is yours, you just need to take it

  • Tone: Fun, Light, Can get a bit bureaucratic
  • Sandbox as big as the Sahara
  • Social: Middle
  • Combat: Middle
  • Exploration: Middle
  • Buy-in: Middle, you form your day so you should think about what you want to do

This one might be hard for new DMs but amazing if done right. Knowing all the ins and outs of the City of Greyhawk might be needed. But don’t fear to make the Greyhawk setting your own. In the end it is your campaign.

Those are very diverse. Sure you want to dm them all?

Did you notice how there is no combat focussed campaign or one talking about megadungeons? That is because I hate it. In the end you will always have a favorite but you should love all the pitches you give out. I think my players are considering the third or fourth campaign idea. We will see. What kind of campaign are you running? What are your best campaign ideas? I would love to hear them.  

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Sun Blade in 5e – History, Stats and Recipe to create your own

Sun Blade in 5e
Sun Blade in 5e

The Sun Blade is one of the iconic weapons in Dungeons & Dragons. While not as old as the infamous Vorpal Sword, it is still a great weapon for any campaign. Especially, clerics who worship the god of sun, Pelor for Greyhawk and Lathander for the Forgotten Realms, it is the weapon to find or craft. We will look at the history of this magical item and the different ways you could craft it in your campaign in 5th edition.

The History of the Sun Blade

The Sun Blade’s first iteration was in I6 Ravenloft (1983) for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It was called the Sunsword. It was a sword with a crystal glass blade and one could argue it was a different sword back then. After that the Sun Blade under its name appeared in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition Dungeon Master’s Guide in 1989. In this book, there was no Sunsword but only the Sun Blade with slightly different mechanics. The first time together they appeared in the Encyclopedia Magica Volume 4 of 1995.

Brief Appearance in Greyhawk Adventure Path

While now the Sun Blade is an established magical weapon, it wasn’t used in any 2nd edition adventure (to my knowledge). It took 18 years after its first appearance to be used in a published Greyhawk adventure. In 2007, in Dragon Magazine #145 the adventure City of Broken Idols advances the adventure path Savage Tide for 3rd edition D&D. It so appears that on the Isle of Dread, there is a lake. And on that lake is another island, the Taboo Island. On this island there is a temple and in this temple in a random crypt lies the Sun Blade. Well, better than nothing.

Comeback of the Sun Blade in 5th Edition

The Sun Blade appears in Out of Abyss (2015) as a sentient sword called the Dawnbringer. Also it appears in the remake of the Ravenloft module, Curse of Strahd in 2016. Here it’s called the Sunsword again. Interestingly, both of these swords have a blade out of pure light energy, opposed to the original Sunsword. Both of these swords are mere iterations of the raw Sun Blade as they have some additional properties. They are both sentient while the normal Sun Blade found in the Taboo Temple is not.

The Sun Blade in 5e

  • melee weapon (sword, martial)
  • Damage: 1d8
  • Damage Type: Radiant
  • Item Rarity: Rare
  • Modifiers: Melee Attacks +2, Melee Damage +2
  • Properties: Finesse, Versatile
  • Secondary Damage: 1d10
  • Weight: 3

This item appears to be a Longsword hilt. While grasping the hilt, you can use a Bonus Action to cause a blade of pure radiance to spring into existence, or make the blade disappear. While the blade exists, this magic Longsword has the Finesse property. If you are proficient with shortswords or longswords, you are proficient with the sun blade.

You gain a +2 bonus to Attack and Damage Rolls made with this weapon, which deals radiant damage instead of slashing damage. When you hit an Undead with it, that target takes an extra 1d8 radiant damage.

The sword’s luminous blade emits bright light in a 15-foot radius and dim light for an additional 15 feet. The light is sunlight. While the blade persists, you can use an action to expand or reduce its radius of bright and dim light by 5 feet each, to a maximum of 30 feet each or a minimum of 10 feet each.

Crafting the Sun Blade

Of course, there is always the way to find the blade in a dungeon or in possession of a random cleric of Pelor or Lathander. But it is also cool to craft it yourself. Maybe read about it in a book and make it a quest to attain one.

Crafting Rules as Written

The Sun Blade is a rare weapon, that is why the creator needs to be at least 6th level. The creation cost is 5,000 gp. That means it takes the player 200 days to create the blade. But then there would be no difference between the creation of a normal longsword +2 and the creation of the Sun Blade. Here the Dungeon Master’s Guide assumes it is the DM’s decision how it should be done. And that is the freedom we all love in D&D.

How we craft the Sun Blade in 5e

I never liked how they handle magic item creation in 5th edition. I feel that everything your characters do should be part of the story. A story about someone sitting in a laboratory creating an item for 200 days is simply not fun. I’m a huge fan of the way they did it in Volo’s Guide for All Things Magical of 1996. Here they presented to different ways to create magical items, either by a wizard or a cleric. They overcomplicate a little bit by inventing a whole bunch of spells but the idea is really fun. One thing they do especially, is giving magical properties to different ressources making the whole creation also a research and gather operation.

How you want to approach this as a DM is all on you. You can let the m research what materials they need and what kind of spells they need to cast or just present it to them. Maybe they want to find someone instead that can create the weapon for them.

A good choice is Sarana, the 15th level cleric and high matriarch of Pelor, leading the temple in the Free City of Greyhawk. For sure she wouldn’t do this for free though. A quest to prove you are worthy of such a quest might be in line. Also it is debatable if she would create it for someone else than a cleric of Pelor.

Materials

As ingredients we need a metal for the hilt and a gemstone to hold the power of the blade. The most essential ingredient mentioned in Volo’s Guide is a gemstone called Heliodor.

Heliodor: This precious stone is a deep yellow variety of golden beryl varying in hue from greenish yellow to reddish yellow and yielding large or medium impressive faceted gemstones. 

In magic, heliodor can be used as a casting component in all priest spells of the sun sphere in  place of normal components that one lacks (provided these need not be specially constructed). Powdered heliodor is essential in the forging of a sun blade.

Volo’s Guide to All Things Magical

So all we need now is a mountain range that is known for yellow beryls. The Crystalmist Mountains are just one possibility. After achieving such a gem you would need to cut in a specific shape, a Round Rose cut for example.

For metals you can use any combination of pristine material. Maybe a mix of gold and white silver is appropriate.

Process of creating

Cleric spells work in 5th edition in a way that all clerics automatically learn all the spells of their level. So implementing new spells for item creation doesn’t make much sense. Instead, I assume the cleric who wants to create the Sun Blade has to invent some kind of ritual to please their god and achieve the power.

This can be researched by your players of course but your players can also get creative and come up with their own ideas.

Things I would assume: 

  • Must be created on a holy place of your god (Pelor, Lathander)
  • A great deed must have been done prior to please your god
  • A 24h ritual with deliberate use of holy ingredients like holy water and holy incenses

Conclusion 

So here you have it, the way I implement the Sun Blade into my campaign. The whole process would be a part of my campaign, a task a player tries to achieve while doing things for the group. The whole creation cost might at the end be in line with what the Dungeon Master’s  Guide says. Even the time it took might be the same. But, it feels way cooler to be part of he process and not just do it in downtime.

Did you ever use the Sun Blade? How do you handle magic item creation in your campaign?

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Silencing Hand in 5e

In our Spell Conversion Series we will look at spells from 2nd edition that didn’t make it into the 5th edition of D&D. For a full list of all named spells, go here.

Method

In order to convert a spell we need to look at the guidelines of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, at the original spell in 2nd edition and at the existing spells in 5e. The new spell shouldn’t overshadow an existing spell nor be too complicated.

5th edition’s biggest advantage over older editions is that spells are extremely streamlined and bookkeeping on the Dungeon Master’s side is kept to a minimum.

Also, some spells might be used for a specific situation. This showcases how some mages in Greyhawk invented magic for their own needs. Consider players to get in touch with those unique spells by meeting disciples of these famous mages (or even the mage himself) rather than handing them out freely.

The spell

Today we look at Bigby’s Silencing Hand. The spell does something that designers of Dungeons & Dragons are trying to avoid more and more over the years: Disable a character completely for a round.

Getting skipped is due to a spell effect is annoying for any player. That’s why stunning effects are usually kept on the player’s side. The way this spell silences means a caster can be rendered useless for the entire fight.

But the spell is still unique and can be converted. Let’s look at the important mechanics we want to convert:

  • 2nd Level, one target
  • Create a hand
  • Physically silences a creature
  • Saving throw each turn

The best spell to compare it to is Silence. While Silence affects an area where the targets can usually walk out of on their turn, Bigby’s Silencing Hand targets one person specifically.

Interestingly, the way the spell works a Strength Saving Throw is the most appropriate of all abilities. This makes this spell a fun unique addition to any spellcaster. But be cautious, using this spell too much against your players can really decrease the fun of your spellcaster friends.

Luckily, the spell can also be disspelled by destroying the hand, so affected creatures can get help from their allies.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Silencing Hand in 5e:


Bigby’s Silencing Hand


2nd-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S, M (an egg shell and a snake skin glove)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

Choose a humanoid that you can see within range. You create a hand that flies over to the target and clamps tightly over its mouth. The target must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be silenced for the duration. At the end of each of its turns. the target can make another Strength saving throw. On a success. the spell ends on the target.

Additionally, the hand can be magically disspelled or destroyed by 6 magical damage (AC 10).

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, you can create an additional hand and target one additional humanoid for each slot leveI above 2nd. The humanoids must be within 30 feet of each other when you target them.


Conclusion

As you might have realised, converting spells is never easy and highly subjective. There are many ways to the same goal. Our goal is to make our World of Greyhawk experience unique, different from a homebrew of Forgotten Realms campaign. And with every new spell that used to be a Greyhawk exclusive, we are getting closer to our goal.

Next time we are going to convert Bigby’s Strangling Grip.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

D&D Encounter Ideas – 7 Encounters in the Gnarley Forest

Encounters are the bread and butter of Dungeons & Dragons. Every session in its true form broken down is just a set of encounters. So, coming up with exciting encounter ideas is one of the most important skills as a Dungeon Master in D&D.

Let’s start examining what we need to make good encounters that your players will love. At the end I will present 7 encounter ideas to you.

Framework for good D&D encounter ideas

The most important part for a good encounter is the setting. This is typically the first (not asked) question answered in any campaign. Where are we? There are always very generic answers like “in a forest” or “in a town” but the Dungeon Master should always know about something more that is going on.

D&D Encounter Ideas for a forest
Descriptions are fundamental for immersion

The Gnarley Forest as the setting

For the purpose of this, we will use the Gnarley Forest as our encounter setting. It is a place in the Greyhawk setting. If you want to see the place in action, you can check out my free adventure.

So as a Dungeon Master, if you state the adventuring party is merely “in the forest” without any further addition, good players might ask more questions. What is the forest like? What do I hear? How humid is it? 

Especially, new DMs have their hands full with all kinds of stuff, so this answer might have been heard at many tables: It is just a forest. Believe me, I was both the perpetrator and culprit of this sentence. It breaks immersion immediately.

That means as a good DM, you should know the adjectives of any setting you throw the players into, no matter how important it might be to the main story. Because to the players it doesn’t matter if the place is crucial to the story. Heck, sometimes when you describe a place good enough, the players will fall in love with it and it becomes important.

The Gnarley Forest

As an example, the Gnarley Forest is a place of huge and thick oak and ipps trees. The tree trunks can have the size of small huts. A river called the Jewel is running through it with many type of ferns covering its borders. Because the forest is so old the tree canopy blocks out most of the light and it is quite obscure even at noon. Therefore, there is not much of small vegetation making the earthy ground easy to walk on. Typical small mammals like mice, rabbits, foxes and squirrels fan be found but also wolves and bears.

With this simple description every player has immediately an idea how the forest looks like and we can move on to the next step.

Populating the setting

Every setting needs inhabitants that either live in the setting or go through the setting. This is also a thing that can be improvised by experienced DMs but be cautious. Good players realise that you go of your cuff and give the encounter less value than it could have. Improvising characteristics of NPCs might be fine but in my opinion improvising groups or tribes is not.

So populate your setting with anything you like and deem interesting. Also, look at the surrounding areas to get more ideas how the population interacts with the outside world. Lastly, create conflicts and alliances between your factions in the area.

Factions of the Gnarley Forest

There are many human factions in the Gnarley Forest. From the Gnarley Rangers trying to keep the peace, to woodsmen living in small settlements or alone at the borders of the woods. A sorority of swanmays (wereswans) lead by a priestess live somewhere in the depths of trees, devoted to spy on the evil that lays in the forest.

Four clans of wood elves exist, living together in various communities. They usually mind their own business and don’t align with folk from the outside.

A hidden underground settlement called the Blackthorn cavern is the base of a big number of orcs and gnolls. They plan to excavate more of their cave and need human slaves to do their work.

Also in the forest is a now lost village called Skorane that is only inhabited by undead and a crazy necromancer.

These are just a few of all the factions in the area. Druids, faerie folk and werebears can also be found. Monsters typical to forests like owlbears are also likely.

Creating encounters

After laying out all the factions and how the Gnarley Forest looks like, we are ready to build encounters. I think you realise by just reading through the paragraphs above how the ideas pop into you head. Frankly, after the base is created, the actual encounter building is very easy.

Try to mix and match the factions, create small subareas in your setting and let the scene play out. Don’t forget you oftentimes don’t have to plan out much what is going to happen. Let the players act to their surroundings and play it out naturally. If the players love an aspect of the encounter and they pursue a way further, that is where you can improvise a little.

For the unlikely situation your players pursue a route that you are not comfortable with yet, call for a 10 minute break and make something up. There is also no shame to end a session early in desperate cases.

So without further ado, here are some encounter ideas.

7 D&D Encounter Ideas for the Gnarley Forest

  1. A wounded swanmay lies at the riverbed of the Jewel in its hybrid form. A group of orcs attacked them. Normally orcs don’t have magical weapons but these did. They can’t be far.
  2. A Gnarley Rangers fights a big growling owlbear. His friends is bleeding out and it doesn’t look good for him either. The party just arrives.
  3. The group comes across a small mystic looking pond. It feels like there is magic in there. When they approach it, a voice with an elven accent comes from one of the thick branches of the next oak tree. “You shouldn’t be here!”, shouts a young wooden elf.
  4. The party comes across a set of well laid traps. After passing two of them in a minutes walk, a disgruntled woodsman appears. “No wonder there is no game here. What is your deal anyways.”, he exclaims disgruntled.
  5. Orcs attack! A scouting party of Blackthorn found the party and believe they are strong enough. They are hiding behind thick roots of the trees and see potential slaves in the adventuring group.
  6. A gnome traveler waves from a thick branch above. He is searching for the swanmays and would love to see them. After reading in a book about them.
  7. Two druids examine trees. The trees seem to be sick. As the group arrives to greet them, two trees awaken and attack! The necromancer seems to work on new experiments.

So there you have it. 7 easy to plug in encounters for your next session. Do you have to play in the Gnarley Forest? Does it have to be in Greyhawk? No way. You can do whatever you want. It is your table, it is your game.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Pugnacious Pugilist in 5e

In our Spell Conversion Series we will look at spells from 2nd edition that didn’t make it into the 5th edition of D&D. For a full list of all named spells, go here.

Method

In order to convert a spell we need to look at the guidelines of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, at the original spell in 2nd edition and at the existing spells in 5e. The new spell shouldn’t overshadow an existing spell nor be too complicated.

5th edition’s biggest advantage over older editions is that spells are extremely streamlined and bookkeeping on the Dungeon Master’s side is kept to a minimum.

Also, some spells might be used for a specific situation. This showcases how some mages in Greyhawk invented magic for their own needs. Consider players to get in touch with those unique spells by meeting disciples of these famous mages (or even the mage himself) rather than handing them out freely.

The spell

Today we look at Bigby’s Pugnacious Pugilist. This spell is more of a summon creature spell than anything else. It seems to be the small version of Bigby’s Hand. As WotC reduced summoning spells in 5th edition to help DMs and make gameplay faster, this spell was omitted.

But the spell is still unique and can be converted. Let’s look at the important mechanics we want to convert:

  • 9th Level, one target, concentration spell
  • Increasing damage over time
  • Spawn a new entity (big hand)
  • Never misses
  • Auto-grapple

Mechanically we can compare it to Conjure Animals as both are 3rd level summoning spells. Conjure Animals lets you summon a CR 2 monster. We have to rescale the summoned pair of hands quite a bit to give it the firepower of a CR 2 creature.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Pugnacious Pugilist in 5e:


Bigby’s Pugnacious Pugilist


3rd-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (mitten stuffed with cotton)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour

You create a pair of hands in an unoccupied space in range.
The hands are listening to your verbal commands. Giving orders is not an action.

The hands are a unit having AC 16, hit points equal to your hit points maximum. If they drop to 0 hit points, the spell ends.

They have a +8 to hit, do 6 force damage and have advantage while being 5 feet close to an ally (Pack Tactics).


Conclusion

As you might have realised, converting spells is never easy and highly subjective. There are many ways to the same goal. Our goal is to make our World of Greyhawk experience unique, different from a homebrew of Forgotten Realms campaign. And with every new spell that used to be a Greyhawk exclusive, we are getting closer to our goal.

Next time we are going to convert Bigby’s Silencing Hand.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Greyhawk Deities by Alignment – Overview list

Greyhawk deities in Dungeons & Dragons date back from 1982 to 1983 when Gary Gygax wrote 5 articles in the Dragon Magazine Issue 67-72 describing a total of 19 deities. These duties were all human deities and he suggeested to use the non-human deities from the supplement Deities and Demigods (1980) by Erol Otus.

Interestingly, these deities are the same that are used in Forgotten Realms. So Greyhawk and the most famous setting of D&D share quite a bit of their pantheon.

Later on Gygax would raise the amount of gods to 50 in the World of Greyhawk boxed set an then to 74. After he left, TSR increased the number of gods to a staggering 92 including non-human deities.

Greyhawk Deities, which do we need?

With that staggering amount of gods in the setting we need to ask ourselves the question. Which Greyhawk deities in 5e do we need?

Our players will just give up if you present them 40 gods in a campaign. Therefore, we will only list deities that are most present in the Domain of Greyhawk.

Classification of Greyhawk Deities in 5e

There are four different classes of deities and 9 different alignments. The classes are Greater, Intermediate and Lesser gods and Demi-gods. The alignmentes describe the typical matrix of Good, Neutral, Evil and Lawful, Neutral, Chaotic.

It also exists a classification depending on which human subrace is believing in them, but I feel this can be neglected to not confuse your players.

Greyhawk Deities by Alignment Matrix

This illustration shows all the important deities of the Domain of Greyhawk including the Free City of Greyhawk by alignment.

Greyhawk Deities by Alignment
Greyhawk Deities by Alignment

Most notably, Lawful Evil and Chaotic Evil deities are missing in the table. That is because by law it is forbidden to establish a following of evil gods. Incabulos and Nerull are both secretly worshipped in cults in the City of Greyhawk. For your campaign you can use Hextor as a Lawful Evil deity and Erythnul or Iuz for Chaotic Evil.

So this is already a lot. Interestingly enough, we don’t need to look at the power levels of the gods too much. They mainly describe the number of followers. For campaign use we should order the deities by domain.

Greyhawk Deities by Domain

When your player asks you for a specific god in a domain, you can just relay to this list. Every god is shown with their alignment and power level, as well as suggested Cleric Divine Domain. So let’s begin.

Nature

  • Beory: Greater God, True Neutral, Nature or Life
  • Ehlonna: Intermediate God, Neutral Good, Nature
  • Obad-Hai: Intermediate God, True Neutral, Nature
  • Ulaa: Intermediate God, Lawful Good, Nature or Forge

If your player wants to play a nature based cleric I would suggest these deities. Beory is the general nature god, Mother Earth in persona. Ehlonna is associated with forests while Ulaa is associated with hills and emeralds. A forge cleric focussing on emeralds is plausible.

Magic

  • Boccob: Greater God, True Neutral, Arcana or Knowledge
  • Wee Jas: Intermediate God, Lawful Neutral, Arcana or Death

While Boccob is all about achieving great knowledge of arcane power and spells, Wee Jas is more a goddess of magic and death that usually comes with it. They have an interesting different view on the use of magic.

Virtue

  • Rao: Greater God, Lawful Good, Knowledge
  • Pholtus: Intermediate God, Lawful Good, Light
  • Heironeus: Intermediate God, Lawful Good, War or Protection
  • St. Cuthbert: Intermediate God, Lawful Neutral, Knowledge

These are all deities of doing the right thing for the greater good or doing the right thing as a human being. Rao is the god of peace, Pholtus is the god of light and law, while both Heironeus and St. Cuthbert are gods of justice, honor and truth. Heironeus standing for the rightful combat and St. Cuthbert for doing the truthful, right thing.

Cosmic

  • Pelor: Greater God, Neutral Good, Life or Light
  • Istus: Greater God, True Neutral, Knowledge
  • Celestian: Intermediate God, Neutral Good, Knowledge
  • Fharlanghn: Intermediate God, True Neutral, Knowledge or Trickery

Cosmical powers are important to these gods, as Pelor is the god of sun while Celestian is the god of stars and moons. Fharlanghn stands for travel and the distance to the horizon. Istus is the all-known god of fate and destiny.

Sea

  • Procan: Intermediate God, Chaotic Neutral, Tempest
  • Xerbo: Lesser God, Chaotic Neutral, Tempest or Knowledge
  • Osprem: Lesser God, Lawful Neutral, Tempest or Protection

There are several deities of the sea and wide oceans. While Procan stands for weather and the impulsiveness and chaotic behaviour of the sea Xerbo stands for the sea and the sea life itself. His wife Osprem is the protector of those who travel on the sea.

Arts

  • Olidammara: Intermediate God, Chaotic Neutral, Trickery
  • Lirr: Lesser God, Chaotic Good, Knowledge

Lirr is the goddess of art while Olidammara is the master of disguise being favored by many thieves and bards. Services to Olidammara involve alot of wine and singing.

Chance

  • Norebo: Intermediate God, Chaotic Neutral, Trickery
  • Ralishaz: Intermediate God, Chaotic Neutral, Trickery

Norebo is the right god for a cleric who loves to gamble as he is the god of luck. Ralishaz is more than not the deity one hopes to not have the pleasure with as he stands for ill luck and misfortune.

Humanity

  • Kord: Intermediate God, Chaotic Good, Tempest or War
  • Trithereon: Intermediate God, Chaotic Good, War or Protection
  • Zilchus: Intermediate God, Lawful Neutral, Knowledge or Trickery
  • Kurell: Lesser God, Chaotic Neutral, Trickery

These gods are all linked to the other gods in what they stand for with a specific focus on the human himself. Kord is the god of combat and strength while Trithereon is the god of self-protection and freedom. Zilchus is the god of merchants and money. Lastly, Kurell aligns himself with the gods of chance with a focus on taking what is rightfully his. His worshippers are more often than not the thievery kind.

Evil

  • Nerull: Greater God, Neutral Evil, Death or Grave
  • Incabulos: Intermediate God, Neutral Evil, Death or Grave

These gods are the truly evil deities that are worshipped in the City of Greyhawk. Incabulos spreads disease and plagues while Nerull usually finishes his job with death and despair. There is no way a cleric can worship these deities without being truly evil and often paranoid.

Conclusion

There you have it, all important Greyhawk deities by alignment and by domain. With these list in your backpocket you are ready to ask any worship related questions your players may have. They are also a great inspiration for NPC or character concepts as belief can be an interesting motivation.

It is important to notice how two clerics of the same domain can serve totally different god. That makes for a great variance of playstyles for mechanicly similar characters.

You got hyped to play a campaign in the World of Greyhawk? Check out my free campaign, In the City’s Shadows!

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Force Sculpture in 5e

In our Spell Conversion Series we will look at spells from 2nd edition that didn’t make it into the 5th edition of D&D. For a full list of all named spells, go here.

Method

In order to convert a spell we need to look at the guidelines of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, at the original spell in 2nd edition and at the existing spells in 5e. The new spell shouldn’t overshadow an existing spell nor be too complicated.

5th edition’s biggest advantage over older editions is that spells are extremely streamlined and bookkeeping on the Dungeon Master’s side is kept to a minimum.

Also, some spells might be used for a specific situation. This showcases how some mages in Greyhawk invented magic for their own needs. Consider players to get in touch with those unique spells by meeting disciples of these famous mages (or even the mage himself) rather than handing them out freely.

The spell

Today we look at Bigby’s Force Sculpture. The spell has a also two enhanced versions, Bigby’s Superior Force Sculpture and Bigby’s Most Excellent Force Sculpture. We can implement those with the new mechanic of using a spell on a higher spell level.

With these array of spells you can create from the smallest utensils to the biggest warship anything you can imagine. I can see how this spell can stall a game to a halt when players try to create something extraordinary and the DM has to account for it. It can definitely derail an adventure module, so it should be given out with caution especially for novice DMs.

But the spell is still unique and can be converted. Let’s look at the important mechanics we want to convert:

  • 4th level, 6th level or 8th level
  • Creates an item or structure out of clay
  • Cost and complexity of the end product depend on the casting level

The spell can’t really be compared to any other spell in the 5th edition list. Closest would be Creation and Wall spells. When giving out the spell to players you should discuss with the party what is possible beforehand.

I think a good way to balance the spell is to assume that the casting wizard needs the appropriate knowledge about what he wants to create.

So if he wants to build a big warship, he needs to use his Downtime first to write a detailed plan.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Force Sculpture in 5e:


Bigby’s Force Sculpture


4th-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S, M (lump of clay)
Duration: 1 hour

You can shape a plane of force in any way you wish. The form can’t have any sharp edges or loose parts, e.g. a table, chair, bucket.

All objects created can’t be harmed by physical attacks. The structure has a maximum of 8 cubic feet in matter and has the same hit points as you.

At Higher Levels. This spell can also be cast on 6th and 8th level. At 6th level, diamond dust worth 250 gp is consumed when cast. The shape can now have edges like a sword and can be more intricate like a wagon. The size of matter limit is now 64 cubic feet. Casting time is 1 minute and duration is 6 hours. At 8th level, diamond dust worth 1000 gp is consumed when cast. The shape can now have intricate parts and structures like a sailing ship is possible. The size of matter limit is now 256 cubic feet. Casting time is 30 minutes and duration is 1 day.


Conclusion

As you might have realised, converting spells is never easy and highly subjective. There are many ways to the same goal. Our goal is to make our World of Greyhawk experience unique, different from a homebrew of Forgotten Realms campaign. And with every new spell that used to be a Greyhawk exclusive, we are getting closer to our goal.

Next time we are going to convert Bigby’s Battering Gauntlet.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Feeling Fingers in 5e

In our Spell Conversion Series we will look at spells from 2nd edition that didn’t make it into the 5th edition of D&D. For a full list of all named spells, go here.

Method for Spell Conversion in 5e

In order to convert a spell we need to look at the guidelines of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, at the original spell in 2nd edition and at the existing spells in 5e. The new spell shouldn’t overshadow an existing spell nor be too complicated.

5th edition’s biggest advantage over older editions is that spells are extremely streamlined and bookkeeping on the Dungeon Master’s side is kept to a minimum.

Also, some spells might be used for a specific situation. This showcases how some mages in Greyhawk invented magic for their own needs. Consider players to get in touch with those unique spells by meeting disciples of these famous mages (or even the mage himself) rather than handing them out freely.

The spell

Today we look at Bigby’s Feeling Fingers. This spell is used to fine the smallest cracks on surfaces, mostly to find traps. At the moment there is only one spell with a similar effect, Find Traps.

But the spell works a bit different and unique enough to use it in 5th edition. Here is what it can do:

  • 1st Level spell
  • Spawns a magical hand
  • Hand has a 50% chance to find a trap

This spell needs some time to check a bigger area for traps and might not even be successful. Find Traps has the drawback that you don’t know where the trap is, while with Bigby’s Feeling Fingers you can never be really sure if there is not actually a trap.

So is this spell more useful than Find Traps? I think it depends on the circumstances. To be honest I find Find Traps should be a 1st level spell as well.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Feeling Fingers in 5e:


Bigby’s Feeling Fingers

1st-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 180 feet
Components: V, S, M (child-sized silk glove and a swan’s feather)
Duration: 1 hour

You create a hand under your command. The hand can’t grasp, hold or carry anything but has a sensible touch.

You can use the hand to check a 10 by 10 feet square for traps needing 1 minute. The same area can only checked once with a success rate of 50%. Any nonmagical trap cqn be triggered by the hand if you choose to do so.

The hand has an AC of 10, 4 hit points and is immune to physical damage.


Conclusion

As you might have realised, converting spells is never easy and highly subjective. There are many ways to the same goal. Our goal is to make our World of Greyhawk experience unique, different from a homebrew of Forgotten Realms campaign. And with every new spell that used to be a Greyhawk exclusive, we are getting closer to our goal.

Next time we are going to convert Bigby’s Force Sculpture.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Fantastic Fencers in 5e

In our Spell Conversion Series we will look at spells from 2nd edition that didn’t make it into the 5th edition of D&D. For a full list of all named spells, go here.

Method for Spell Conversion in 5e

In order to convert a spell we need to look at the guidelines of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, at the original spell in 2nd edition and at the existing spells in 5e. The new spell shouldn’t overshadow an existing spell nor be too complicated.

5th edition’s biggest advantage over older editions is that spells are extremely streamlined and bookkeeping on the Dungeon Master’s side is kept to a minimum.

Also, some spells might be used for a specific situation. This showcases how some mages in Greyhawk invented magic for their own needs. Consider players to get in touch with those unique spells by meeting disciples of these famous mages (or even the mage himself) rather than handing them out freely.

The spell

Today we look at Bigby’s Fantastic Fencers. This spell is a monster summoning spell. Over the generations the amount of spells that summon creatures to aid the party steadily decreased. This has mostly to do with minimizing bookkeeping in combat. Also, WotC doesn’t want players to flip through the Monster Manual to find stuff to summon.

But the spell is still unique enough to use it in 5th edition. Here is what it can do:

  • 5th Level spell
  • Spawn hands with swords
  • Every hand is a combatant listening to the mage’s orders.

This spell is a well designed combat starter in Bigby’s arsenal. The spawned creatures don’t need concentration to maintain and can hold foes of him. Balance wise a fifth level spell shouldn’t spawn a creature with a CR higher than 5. When spawning multiple monsters the combined CR should be well below this limit.

The original spell actually consumes an amulet worth 1,000 gp. In my opinion this is not necessary for a simple spell.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Fantastic Fencers in 5e:


Bigby’s Fantastic Fencers

5th-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 15 feet
Components: V, S, M (a silver amulet worth 1,000 gp)
Duration: 1 hour

You create three hands holding longswords 15 feet around you. They act on your turn starting the turn you summoned them.

The hands have an AC of 18, 15 hit points and 30 feet of movement. They have the same saving throws as the caster being immune to all status effects.

They can use the Attack action to do a melee attack and use their reaction to do an attack of opportunity with 6 as the attack modifier. A hit does 1d8+3 damage and the attacked creature has to succeed a Strength saving throw DC 12 or are disarmed.

If the hands are somehow disarmed, they are disspelled.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell at 6th or higher level the amount of fighting hands increases by 1 per level.


Conclusion

As you might have realised, converting spells is never easy and highly subjective. There are many ways to the same goal. Our goal is to make our World of Greyhawk experience unique, different from a homebrew of Forgotten Realms campaign. And with every new spell that used to be a Greyhawk exclusive, we are getting closer to our goal.

Next time we are going to convert Bigby’s Feeling Fingers.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Dextrous Digits in 5e

In our Spell Conversion Series we will look at spells from 2nd edition that didn’t make it into the 5th edition of D&D. For a full list of all named spells, go here.

Method for Spell Conversion in 5e

In order to convert a spell we need to look at the guidelines of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, at the original spell in 2nd edition and at the existing spells in 5e. The new spell shouldn’t overshadow an existing spell nor be too complicated.

5th edition’s biggest advantage over older editions is that spells are extremely streamlined and bookkeeping on the Dungeon Master’s side is kept to a minimum.

Also, some spells might be used for a specific situation. This showcases how some mages in Greyhawk invented magic for their own needs. Consider players to get in touch with those unique spells by meeting disciples of these famous mages (or even the mage himself) rather than handing them out freely.

The spell

Today we look at Bigby’s Dextrous Digits. This spell has a specific out of combat use. It is a mix between Mage Hand and Unseen Servant.

But the spell is still a unique enough to have different use. Here is what it can do:

  • 2nd Level spell
  • Spawn a pair of hands
  • Hands have the same abilities as the mage’s hands and can perform delicate maneuvres

The spell is is yet another out of combat spell of Bigby with the purpose to mimic the mage’s ability to perform a specific task and therefore doubling his work force for a duration. There are many creative uses for this.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Dextrous Digits in 5e:


Bigby’s Dextrous Digits

2nd-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 90 feet
Components: V, S, M (pair of gloves embroidered with the wizard’s initials)
Duration: Concentration, up to 2 minutes

You create a pair of hands that can perform any action you can do using your proficiencies and Dexterity modifier. Each hand can carry 20 pounds individually and 50 pounds together.

The hands have an AC of 10, 6 hit points and are immune to physical damage. They have 30 feet movement speed and are dispelled if they are 90 feet away from the caster.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell at 3rd or higher level the spell duration increases by 2 minutes for each level.


Conclusion

As you might have realised, converting spells is never easy and highly subjective. There are many ways to the same goal. Our goal is to make our World of Greyhawk experience unique, different from a homebrew of Forgotten Realms campaign. And with every new spell that used to be a Greyhawk exclusive, we are getting closer to our goal.

Next time we are going to convert Bigby’s Fantastic Fencers.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Blog - Frogsama's Greyhawk Adventures

4 D&D campaign ideas and how you pitch them to hook your players

We’ve all been there. You have an amazing idea for you D&D campaign. Your players seem excited. In character creation all is well and finally the first session starts. If it is a new formed group role play can be a little awkward in the beginning but in the end it feels like everything clicks.

I’ve talked too many DMs that told me about their first session with a new group. Most of the time it went awesome and they couldn’t wait to play again. But in the second session the vibe changes. Players don’t seem as enthusiastic anymore. Of course, when you ask them how they liked the session 10 out of 10 will answer “it was great”. Don’t be fooled it wasn’t.

So what went wrong?

Your campaign idea doesn’t align with their kind of fun (that they expected)

You might have the greatest campaign ideas, but when your players expect something else, it didn’t matter. Imagine to create an elven ranger who loves to explore the wild. You think of mountain ranges, woods, plains. All of a sudden the campaign takes place in the Underdark. It might even technically be wilderness but this wasn’t your point. This is what happens to the players more often than DMs would like to think.

“But we talked about the campaign in Session 0 and we were all on the same page!” You might shout at your screen in demise. Truth is, you probably didn’t or you didn’t mean the same thing. Especially, in a Session 0 with all players present, people tend to go with what the more dominant persons in the social group suggests. In many cases it is a dominant player, in some it is the DM.

So how do you solve this problem? By handing out small campaign pitches. Emphasis on small is important, no one wants to read pages on pages about your ideas. Make them fun and concise. And then, explain what they mean for the players.

Parameters of your campaign ideas

Different campaigns have different foci. While Princes of the Apocalypse is a fight for good against endless masses of cults with a somewhat game-y megadungeon. Curse of Strahd is a sandbox goth fest with mood swings of a neglected teenager. So what are the important parameters to discuss? I present to you a system taken by Matt Colville and changed by me. Matt always emphasizes that a DM should steal for their campaign. So let’s steal this from him and make it our own.

Tone

This is often not necessary if the players are already familiar with you. They know how you tick and what you prefer. But new players might wonder, if the game has a more serious tone or comedic. What about fun pop culture references? How dark will the game be? Is it more of a high fantasy campaign or pulp or low magic? Especially, when you play in a homebrew setting, this is essential.

Sandbox or Story driven

Sandbox games can be awesome, but for newer DMs following the safety of an adventure module is the easier choice. Either way the players need to know what it means for them. There is a disappointing example in the newest WotC adventure Descent into Avernus. Basically they explain to the DM that if the players don’t want to take the initial quest, you need to force them with an armed patrol. If this doesn’t work you send more men or kill them.

This is such a bad practice and astonishing that they would recommend this. The correct way is to tell the players before the campaign. “Look, I have this great story I want to play. Your characters should believably be comfortable with the following kind of hook.” This is not taking away player agency, this is about playing a fun story the DM prepared.

This doesn’t mean the campaign is entirely on rails and decisions don’t matter. It means we can play Dungeons & Dragons with structure. Later on the players might go crazy and change things up, but it should be agreed by all members of the party and the DM, that it is okay.

Social

Let’s go over the three pillars of D&D. How many social encounters are there? How often can problems be solved with talking? This is not about roleplaying. Every group should roleplay and I believe groups inherently find a middle way between all playstyles at the table. This is about how much social constructs like intrigues, betrayals, bonds with NPCs factor the campaign. While Dungeon of the Mad Mage has a low social component, Curse of Strahd has a great amount of encounters solved by negotiating.

Combat

The second pillar of D&D is combat. How much are the players expected to fight? How important is it in your campaign? Some players have no problems with sessions without any combats, others cringe by the lone thought of it. Finding a good answer for this can be hard but answer this question as a DM to yourself: Will there be combat encounters that don’t move the story along? If yes, then you will most likely go for a combat heavy style or with a medium amount.

Exploration

The hardest pillar to do right. How often will the players explore the wilderness and find magical places they don’t understand? What role will travel have in your campaign? There are not nearly enough rules for wilderness encounters in 5th Edition but one can try to make the adventure more exciting by house ruling the environment. Fighting against an avalanche or the wild sea can be memorable without drawing your weapon. 

Tomb of Annihilation is an adventure that comes to mind with an inherent exploration component being a traditional hex crawl. I’ve heard of several groups disliking the style not knowing what they signed up for beforehand.

Buy-in

Lastly one of the most underused topics. How much time and effort do you expect from your players? The worst feeling is when you want your players to care about this great NPC and they don’t. Be clear to your players what your expectations are.

Create campaigns you would love to run

So now with these things in mind you start to plan your campaigns. It doesn’t matter what focus you set for each of the campaigns, you need to make sure you will enjoy it. Don’t pitch a hexcrawl to your group if you hate it. DMs are allowed to have fun too. Give small story description that detail what way the campaign will most likely go, even if you feel like you spoiler anything, you won’t and your players will love the heads up. Everyone knows you go to hell in “Descent into Avernus” or you fight a vampire in “Curse of Strahd”. It doesn’t diminish anyones fun.

5 campaign ideas for D&D in the World of Greyhawk

With this in mind I present to you the five campaign pitches I gave my players for my upcoming campaign. After I sent them the ideas I checked in on everyone one by one and asked what he likes the most and what he would veto strongly against it. If they say they wouldn’t veto, ask them to rank them. Never play a campaign that is on the last place on one of your players list. You will lose them.

The epic adventure one

Your group arrives in the Free City of Greyhawk. You try to find your first job to earn your living. The city is visibly unrest shortly after the Greyhawk Wars but in the shadows different powers try to get a hold of the city. Fight for glory, money and honor to protect the innocent. Make a name for yourself and save the world.

  • Tone: Heroic, Light
  • Story Driven
  • Social: Medium
  • Combat: Medium
  • Exploration: Medium
  • Buy-in: High, please care about the world

This pitch works amazing with my planned In the City’s Shadows adventure path. Check out my first adventure Sickness of the Gnarley Forest to see what unfolds.

The political one

Your group arrives in the Free City of Greyhawk. You try to find your first job to earn your living. The city is visibly unrest shortly after the Greyhawk Wars but in the shadows different powers try to get a hold of the city. Make allies, join factions and find out who is in charge in Greyhawk. Are you okay with who is leading the free city? Gain influence and shape the domain as good as you can or die trying.

  • Tone: Serious, Intriguing
  • Story Driven at the beginning, then high player agency
  • Social: High
  • Combat: Low-Middle
  • Exploration: Low-Middle
  • Buy-in: High, understanding the different factions can be tough

This hook can easily be started with my Sickness of the Gnarley Forest adventure as well but the focus will soon be different. Remember, by choosing this path the players know what is coming and will act accordingly on their own. The same adventures play out totally different just by setting the scene for the campaign beforehand.

The exploration one

Your group arrives in the Free City of Greyhawk. You try to find your first job to earn your living. The city is visibly unrest shortly after the Greyhawk Wars but in the shadows different powers try to get a hold of the city. But after the war the continent is in turmoil. Adventurers are needed more than ever. Find one of the many high paying players of the city and complete exciting explorations. The jobs might be dangerous, they might take you to the greatest treasures you have ever seen, or to your death.

  • Tone: Indiana Jones, Fun, Light
  • Sandbox, take whatever quest you desire
  • Social: Low-Middle
  • Combat: Medium
  • Exploration: High
  • Buy-in: Low-Middle, there might be some lore but nothing too big

You can start this campaign with either Sickness of the Gnarley Forest or with my second adventure Shrine of Maglubiyet. At the beginning it is all about making a name for yourself and finding lucrative jobs that excite you. Beware to not take a job you can’t handle.

The Guild One

Your group arrives in the Free City of Greyhawk. You try to find your first job to earn your living. The city is visibly unrest shortly after the Greyhawk Wars but in the shadows different powers try to get a hold of the city. But you don’t care. Greyhawk is the Gem of Flanaess. Everything is possible in this great city. Make your own Adventurers Guild or take over the existing one. Make money, gain Influence, rule the world, hire henchlings. The world is yours, you just need to take it

  • Tone: Fun, Light, Can get a bit bureaucratic
  • Sandbox as big as the Sahara
  • Social: Middle
  • Combat: Middle
  • Exploration: Middle
  • Buy-in: Middle, you form your day so you should think about what you want to do

This one might be hard for new DMs but amazing if done right. Knowing all the ins and outs of the City of Greyhawk might be needed. But don’t fear to make the Greyhawk setting your own. In the end it is your campaign.

Those are very diverse. Sure you want to dm them all?

Did you notice how there is no combat focussed campaign or one talking about megadungeons? That is because I hate it. In the end you will always have a favorite but you should love all the pitches you give out. I think my players are considering the third or fourth campaign idea. We will see. What kind of campaign are you running? What are your best campaign ideas? I would love to hear them.  

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Sun Blade in 5e – History, Stats and Recipe to create your own

Sun Blade in 5e
Sun Blade in 5e

The Sun Blade is one of the iconic weapons in Dungeons & Dragons. While not as old as the infamous Vorpal Sword, it is still a great weapon for any campaign. Especially, clerics who worship the god of sun, Pelor for Greyhawk and Lathander for the Forgotten Realms, it is the weapon to find or craft. We will look at the history of this magical item and the different ways you could craft it in your campaign in 5th edition.

The History of the Sun Blade

The Sun Blade’s first iteration was in I6 Ravenloft (1983) for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. It was called the Sunsword. It was a sword with a crystal glass blade and one could argue it was a different sword back then. After that the Sun Blade under its name appeared in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition Dungeon Master’s Guide in 1989. In this book, there was no Sunsword but only the Sun Blade with slightly different mechanics. The first time together they appeared in the Encyclopedia Magica Volume 4 of 1995.

Brief Appearance in Greyhawk Adventure Path

While now the Sun Blade is an established magical weapon, it wasn’t used in any 2nd edition adventure (to my knowledge). It took 18 years after its first appearance to be used in a published Greyhawk adventure. In 2007, in Dragon Magazine #145 the adventure City of Broken Idols advances the adventure path Savage Tide for 3rd edition D&D. It so appears that on the Isle of Dread, there is a lake. And on that lake is another island, the Taboo Island. On this island there is a temple and in this temple in a random crypt lies the Sun Blade. Well, better than nothing.

Comeback of the Sun Blade in 5th Edition

The Sun Blade appears in Out of Abyss (2015) as a sentient sword called the Dawnbringer. Also it appears in the remake of the Ravenloft module, Curse of Strahd in 2016. Here it’s called the Sunsword again. Interestingly, both of these swords have a blade out of pure light energy, opposed to the original Sunsword. Both of these swords are mere iterations of the raw Sun Blade as they have some additional properties. They are both sentient while the normal Sun Blade found in the Taboo Temple is not.

The Sun Blade in 5e

  • melee weapon (sword, martial)
  • Damage: 1d8
  • Damage Type: Radiant
  • Item Rarity: Rare
  • Modifiers: Melee Attacks +2, Melee Damage +2
  • Properties: Finesse, Versatile
  • Secondary Damage: 1d10
  • Weight: 3

This item appears to be a Longsword hilt. While grasping the hilt, you can use a Bonus Action to cause a blade of pure radiance to spring into existence, or make the blade disappear. While the blade exists, this magic Longsword has the Finesse property. If you are proficient with shortswords or longswords, you are proficient with the sun blade.

You gain a +2 bonus to Attack and Damage Rolls made with this weapon, which deals radiant damage instead of slashing damage. When you hit an Undead with it, that target takes an extra 1d8 radiant damage.

The sword’s luminous blade emits bright light in a 15-foot radius and dim light for an additional 15 feet. The light is sunlight. While the blade persists, you can use an action to expand or reduce its radius of bright and dim light by 5 feet each, to a maximum of 30 feet each or a minimum of 10 feet each.

Crafting the Sun Blade

Of course, there is always the way to find the blade in a dungeon or in possession of a random cleric of Pelor or Lathander. But it is also cool to craft it yourself. Maybe read about it in a book and make it a quest to attain one.

Crafting Rules as Written

The Sun Blade is a rare weapon, that is why the creator needs to be at least 6th level. The creation cost is 5,000 gp. That means it takes the player 200 days to create the blade. But then there would be no difference between the creation of a normal longsword +2 and the creation of the Sun Blade. Here the Dungeon Master’s Guide assumes it is the DM’s decision how it should be done. And that is the freedom we all love in D&D.

How we craft the Sun Blade in 5e

I never liked how they handle magic item creation in 5th edition. I feel that everything your characters do should be part of the story. A story about someone sitting in a laboratory creating an item for 200 days is simply not fun. I’m a huge fan of the way they did it in Volo’s Guide for All Things Magical of 1996. Here they presented to different ways to create magical items, either by a wizard or a cleric. They overcomplicate a little bit by inventing a whole bunch of spells but the idea is really fun. One thing they do especially, is giving magical properties to different ressources making the whole creation also a research and gather operation.

How you want to approach this as a DM is all on you. You can let the m research what materials they need and what kind of spells they need to cast or just present it to them. Maybe they want to find someone instead that can create the weapon for them.

A good choice is Sarana, the 15th level cleric and high matriarch of Pelor, leading the temple in the Free City of Greyhawk. For sure she wouldn’t do this for free though. A quest to prove you are worthy of such a quest might be in line. Also it is debatable if she would create it for someone else than a cleric of Pelor.

Materials

As ingredients we need a metal for the hilt and a gemstone to hold the power of the blade. The most essential ingredient mentioned in Volo’s Guide is a gemstone called Heliodor.

Heliodor: This precious stone is a deep yellow variety of golden beryl varying in hue from greenish yellow to reddish yellow and yielding large or medium impressive faceted gemstones. 

In magic, heliodor can be used as a casting component in all priest spells of the sun sphere in  place of normal components that one lacks (provided these need not be specially constructed). Powdered heliodor is essential in the forging of a sun blade.

Volo’s Guide to All Things Magical

So all we need now is a mountain range that is known for yellow beryls. The Crystalmist Mountains are just one possibility. After achieving such a gem you would need to cut in a specific shape, a Round Rose cut for example.

For metals you can use any combination of pristine material. Maybe a mix of gold and white silver is appropriate.

Process of creating

Cleric spells work in 5th edition in a way that all clerics automatically learn all the spells of their level. So implementing new spells for item creation doesn’t make much sense. Instead, I assume the cleric who wants to create the Sun Blade has to invent some kind of ritual to please their god and achieve the power.

This can be researched by your players of course but your players can also get creative and come up with their own ideas.

Things I would assume: 

  • Must be created on a holy place of your god (Pelor, Lathander)
  • A great deed must have been done prior to please your god
  • A 24h ritual with deliberate use of holy ingredients like holy water and holy incenses

Conclusion 

So here you have it, the way I implement the Sun Blade into my campaign. The whole process would be a part of my campaign, a task a player tries to achieve while doing things for the group. The whole creation cost might at the end be in line with what the Dungeon Master’s  Guide says. Even the time it took might be the same. But, it feels way cooler to be part of he process and not just do it in downtime.

Did you ever use the Sun Blade? How do you handle magic item creation in your campaign?

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Silencing Hand in 5e

In our Spell Conversion Series we will look at spells from 2nd edition that didn’t make it into the 5th edition of D&D. For a full list of all named spells, go here.

Method

In order to convert a spell we need to look at the guidelines of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, at the original spell in 2nd edition and at the existing spells in 5e. The new spell shouldn’t overshadow an existing spell nor be too complicated.

5th edition’s biggest advantage over older editions is that spells are extremely streamlined and bookkeeping on the Dungeon Master’s side is kept to a minimum.

Also, some spells might be used for a specific situation. This showcases how some mages in Greyhawk invented magic for their own needs. Consider players to get in touch with those unique spells by meeting disciples of these famous mages (or even the mage himself) rather than handing them out freely.

The spell

Today we look at Bigby’s Silencing Hand. The spell does something that designers of Dungeons & Dragons are trying to avoid more and more over the years: Disable a character completely for a round.

Getting skipped is due to a spell effect is annoying for any player. That’s why stunning effects are usually kept on the player’s side. The way this spell silences means a caster can be rendered useless for the entire fight.

But the spell is still unique and can be converted. Let’s look at the important mechanics we want to convert:

  • 2nd Level, one target
  • Create a hand
  • Physically silences a creature
  • Saving throw each turn

The best spell to compare it to is Silence. While Silence affects an area where the targets can usually walk out of on their turn, Bigby’s Silencing Hand targets one person specifically.

Interestingly, the way the spell works a Strength Saving Throw is the most appropriate of all abilities. This makes this spell a fun unique addition to any spellcaster. But be cautious, using this spell too much against your players can really decrease the fun of your spellcaster friends.

Luckily, the spell can also be disspelled by destroying the hand, so affected creatures can get help from their allies.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Silencing Hand in 5e:


Bigby’s Silencing Hand


2nd-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S, M (an egg shell and a snake skin glove)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

Choose a humanoid that you can see within range. You create a hand that flies over to the target and clamps tightly over its mouth. The target must succeed on a Strength saving throw or be silenced for the duration. At the end of each of its turns. the target can make another Strength saving throw. On a success. the spell ends on the target.

Additionally, the hand can be magically disspelled or destroyed by 6 magical damage (AC 10).

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, you can create an additional hand and target one additional humanoid for each slot leveI above 2nd. The humanoids must be within 30 feet of each other when you target them.


Conclusion

As you might have realised, converting spells is never easy and highly subjective. There are many ways to the same goal. Our goal is to make our World of Greyhawk experience unique, different from a homebrew of Forgotten Realms campaign. And with every new spell that used to be a Greyhawk exclusive, we are getting closer to our goal.

Next time we are going to convert Bigby’s Strangling Grip.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

D&D Encounter Ideas – 7 Encounters in the Gnarley Forest

Encounters are the bread and butter of Dungeons & Dragons. Every session in its true form broken down is just a set of encounters. So, coming up with exciting encounter ideas is one of the most important skills as a Dungeon Master in D&D.

Let’s start examining what we need to make good encounters that your players will love. At the end I will present 7 encounter ideas to you.

Framework for good D&D encounter ideas

The most important part for a good encounter is the setting. This is typically the first (not asked) question answered in any campaign. Where are we? There are always very generic answers like “in a forest” or “in a town” but the Dungeon Master should always know about something more that is going on.

D&D Encounter Ideas for a forest
Descriptions are fundamental for immersion

The Gnarley Forest as the setting

For the purpose of this, we will use the Gnarley Forest as our encounter setting. It is a place in the Greyhawk setting. If you want to see the place in action, you can check out my free adventure.

So as a Dungeon Master, if you state the adventuring party is merely “in the forest” without any further addition, good players might ask more questions. What is the forest like? What do I hear? How humid is it? 

Especially, new DMs have their hands full with all kinds of stuff, so this answer might have been heard at many tables: It is just a forest. Believe me, I was both the perpetrator and culprit of this sentence. It breaks immersion immediately.

That means as a good DM, you should know the adjectives of any setting you throw the players into, no matter how important it might be to the main story. Because to the players it doesn’t matter if the place is crucial to the story. Heck, sometimes when you describe a place good enough, the players will fall in love with it and it becomes important.

The Gnarley Forest

As an example, the Gnarley Forest is a place of huge and thick oak and ipps trees. The tree trunks can have the size of small huts. A river called the Jewel is running through it with many type of ferns covering its borders. Because the forest is so old the tree canopy blocks out most of the light and it is quite obscure even at noon. Therefore, there is not much of small vegetation making the earthy ground easy to walk on. Typical small mammals like mice, rabbits, foxes and squirrels fan be found but also wolves and bears.

With this simple description every player has immediately an idea how the forest looks like and we can move on to the next step.

Populating the setting

Every setting needs inhabitants that either live in the setting or go through the setting. This is also a thing that can be improvised by experienced DMs but be cautious. Good players realise that you go of your cuff and give the encounter less value than it could have. Improvising characteristics of NPCs might be fine but in my opinion improvising groups or tribes is not.

So populate your setting with anything you like and deem interesting. Also, look at the surrounding areas to get more ideas how the population interacts with the outside world. Lastly, create conflicts and alliances between your factions in the area.

Factions of the Gnarley Forest

There are many human factions in the Gnarley Forest. From the Gnarley Rangers trying to keep the peace, to woodsmen living in small settlements or alone at the borders of the woods. A sorority of swanmays (wereswans) lead by a priestess live somewhere in the depths of trees, devoted to spy on the evil that lays in the forest.

Four clans of wood elves exist, living together in various communities. They usually mind their own business and don’t align with folk from the outside.

A hidden underground settlement called the Blackthorn cavern is the base of a big number of orcs and gnolls. They plan to excavate more of their cave and need human slaves to do their work.

Also in the forest is a now lost village called Skorane that is only inhabited by undead and a crazy necromancer.

These are just a few of all the factions in the area. Druids, faerie folk and werebears can also be found. Monsters typical to forests like owlbears are also likely.

Creating encounters

After laying out all the factions and how the Gnarley Forest looks like, we are ready to build encounters. I think you realise by just reading through the paragraphs above how the ideas pop into you head. Frankly, after the base is created, the actual encounter building is very easy.

Try to mix and match the factions, create small subareas in your setting and let the scene play out. Don’t forget you oftentimes don’t have to plan out much what is going to happen. Let the players act to their surroundings and play it out naturally. If the players love an aspect of the encounter and they pursue a way further, that is where you can improvise a little.

For the unlikely situation your players pursue a route that you are not comfortable with yet, call for a 10 minute break and make something up. There is also no shame to end a session early in desperate cases.

So without further ado, here are some encounter ideas.

7 D&D Encounter Ideas for the Gnarley Forest

  1. A wounded swanmay lies at the riverbed of the Jewel in its hybrid form. A group of orcs attacked them. Normally orcs don’t have magical weapons but these did. They can’t be far.
  2. A Gnarley Rangers fights a big growling owlbear. His friends is bleeding out and it doesn’t look good for him either. The party just arrives.
  3. The group comes across a small mystic looking pond. It feels like there is magic in there. When they approach it, a voice with an elven accent comes from one of the thick branches of the next oak tree. “You shouldn’t be here!”, shouts a young wooden elf.
  4. The party comes across a set of well laid traps. After passing two of them in a minutes walk, a disgruntled woodsman appears. “No wonder there is no game here. What is your deal anyways.”, he exclaims disgruntled.
  5. Orcs attack! A scouting party of Blackthorn found the party and believe they are strong enough. They are hiding behind thick roots of the trees and see potential slaves in the adventuring group.
  6. A gnome traveler waves from a thick branch above. He is searching for the swanmays and would love to see them. After reading in a book about them.
  7. Two druids examine trees. The trees seem to be sick. As the group arrives to greet them, two trees awaken and attack! The necromancer seems to work on new experiments.

So there you have it. 7 easy to plug in encounters for your next session. Do you have to play in the Gnarley Forest? Does it have to be in Greyhawk? No way. You can do whatever you want. It is your table, it is your game.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Pugnacious Pugilist in 5e

In our Spell Conversion Series we will look at spells from 2nd edition that didn’t make it into the 5th edition of D&D. For a full list of all named spells, go here.

Method

In order to convert a spell we need to look at the guidelines of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, at the original spell in 2nd edition and at the existing spells in 5e. The new spell shouldn’t overshadow an existing spell nor be too complicated.

5th edition’s biggest advantage over older editions is that spells are extremely streamlined and bookkeeping on the Dungeon Master’s side is kept to a minimum.

Also, some spells might be used for a specific situation. This showcases how some mages in Greyhawk invented magic for their own needs. Consider players to get in touch with those unique spells by meeting disciples of these famous mages (or even the mage himself) rather than handing them out freely.

The spell

Today we look at Bigby’s Pugnacious Pugilist. This spell is more of a summon creature spell than anything else. It seems to be the small version of Bigby’s Hand. As WotC reduced summoning spells in 5th edition to help DMs and make gameplay faster, this spell was omitted.

But the spell is still unique and can be converted. Let’s look at the important mechanics we want to convert:

  • 9th Level, one target, concentration spell
  • Increasing damage over time
  • Spawn a new entity (big hand)
  • Never misses
  • Auto-grapple

Mechanically we can compare it to Conjure Animals as both are 3rd level summoning spells. Conjure Animals lets you summon a CR 2 monster. We have to rescale the summoned pair of hands quite a bit to give it the firepower of a CR 2 creature.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Pugnacious Pugilist in 5e:


Bigby’s Pugnacious Pugilist


3rd-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (mitten stuffed with cotton)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour

You create a pair of hands in an unoccupied space in range.
The hands are listening to your verbal commands. Giving orders is not an action.

The hands are a unit having AC 16, hit points equal to your hit points maximum. If they drop to 0 hit points, the spell ends.

They have a +8 to hit, do 6 force damage and have advantage while being 5 feet close to an ally (Pack Tactics).


Conclusion

As you might have realised, converting spells is never easy and highly subjective. There are many ways to the same goal. Our goal is to make our World of Greyhawk experience unique, different from a homebrew of Forgotten Realms campaign. And with every new spell that used to be a Greyhawk exclusive, we are getting closer to our goal.

Next time we are going to convert Bigby’s Silencing Hand.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Greyhawk Deities by Alignment – Overview list

Greyhawk deities in Dungeons & Dragons date back from 1982 to 1983 when Gary Gygax wrote 5 articles in the Dragon Magazine Issue 67-72 describing a total of 19 deities. These duties were all human deities and he suggeested to use the non-human deities from the supplement Deities and Demigods (1980) by Erol Otus.

Interestingly, these deities are the same that are used in Forgotten Realms. So Greyhawk and the most famous setting of D&D share quite a bit of their pantheon.

Later on Gygax would raise the amount of gods to 50 in the World of Greyhawk boxed set an then to 74. After he left, TSR increased the number of gods to a staggering 92 including non-human deities.

Greyhawk Deities, which do we need?

With that staggering amount of gods in the setting we need to ask ourselves the question. Which Greyhawk deities in 5e do we need?

Our players will just give up if you present them 40 gods in a campaign. Therefore, we will only list deities that are most present in the Domain of Greyhawk.

Classification of Greyhawk Deities in 5e

There are four different classes of deities and 9 different alignments. The classes are Greater, Intermediate and Lesser gods and Demi-gods. The alignmentes describe the typical matrix of Good, Neutral, Evil and Lawful, Neutral, Chaotic.

It also exists a classification depending on which human subrace is believing in them, but I feel this can be neglected to not confuse your players.

Greyhawk Deities by Alignment Matrix

This illustration shows all the important deities of the Domain of Greyhawk including the Free City of Greyhawk by alignment.

Greyhawk Deities by Alignment
Greyhawk Deities by Alignment

Most notably, Lawful Evil and Chaotic Evil deities are missing in the table. That is because by law it is forbidden to establish a following of evil gods. Incabulos and Nerull are both secretly worshipped in cults in the City of Greyhawk. For your campaign you can use Hextor as a Lawful Evil deity and Erythnul or Iuz for Chaotic Evil.

So this is already a lot. Interestingly enough, we don’t need to look at the power levels of the gods too much. They mainly describe the number of followers. For campaign use we should order the deities by domain.

Greyhawk Deities by Domain

When your player asks you for a specific god in a domain, you can just relay to this list. Every god is shown with their alignment and power level, as well as suggested Cleric Divine Domain. So let’s begin.

Nature

  • Beory: Greater God, True Neutral, Nature or Life
  • Ehlonna: Intermediate God, Neutral Good, Nature
  • Obad-Hai: Intermediate God, True Neutral, Nature
  • Ulaa: Intermediate God, Lawful Good, Nature or Forge

If your player wants to play a nature based cleric I would suggest these deities. Beory is the general nature god, Mother Earth in persona. Ehlonna is associated with forests while Ulaa is associated with hills and emeralds. A forge cleric focussing on emeralds is plausible.

Magic

  • Boccob: Greater God, True Neutral, Arcana or Knowledge
  • Wee Jas: Intermediate God, Lawful Neutral, Arcana or Death

While Boccob is all about achieving great knowledge of arcane power and spells, Wee Jas is more a goddess of magic and death that usually comes with it. They have an interesting different view on the use of magic.

Virtue

  • Rao: Greater God, Lawful Good, Knowledge
  • Pholtus: Intermediate God, Lawful Good, Light
  • Heironeus: Intermediate God, Lawful Good, War or Protection
  • St. Cuthbert: Intermediate God, Lawful Neutral, Knowledge

These are all deities of doing the right thing for the greater good or doing the right thing as a human being. Rao is the god of peace, Pholtus is the god of light and law, while both Heironeus and St. Cuthbert are gods of justice, honor and truth. Heironeus standing for the rightful combat and St. Cuthbert for doing the truthful, right thing.

Cosmic

  • Pelor: Greater God, Neutral Good, Life or Light
  • Istus: Greater God, True Neutral, Knowledge
  • Celestian: Intermediate God, Neutral Good, Knowledge
  • Fharlanghn: Intermediate God, True Neutral, Knowledge or Trickery

Cosmical powers are important to these gods, as Pelor is the god of sun while Celestian is the god of stars and moons. Fharlanghn stands for travel and the distance to the horizon. Istus is the all-known god of fate and destiny.

Sea

  • Procan: Intermediate God, Chaotic Neutral, Tempest
  • Xerbo: Lesser God, Chaotic Neutral, Tempest or Knowledge
  • Osprem: Lesser God, Lawful Neutral, Tempest or Protection

There are several deities of the sea and wide oceans. While Procan stands for weather and the impulsiveness and chaotic behaviour of the sea Xerbo stands for the sea and the sea life itself. His wife Osprem is the protector of those who travel on the sea.

Arts

  • Olidammara: Intermediate God, Chaotic Neutral, Trickery
  • Lirr: Lesser God, Chaotic Good, Knowledge

Lirr is the goddess of art while Olidammara is the master of disguise being favored by many thieves and bards. Services to Olidammara involve alot of wine and singing.

Chance

  • Norebo: Intermediate God, Chaotic Neutral, Trickery
  • Ralishaz: Intermediate God, Chaotic Neutral, Trickery

Norebo is the right god for a cleric who loves to gamble as he is the god of luck. Ralishaz is more than not the deity one hopes to not have the pleasure with as he stands for ill luck and misfortune.

Humanity

  • Kord: Intermediate God, Chaotic Good, Tempest or War
  • Trithereon: Intermediate God, Chaotic Good, War or Protection
  • Zilchus: Intermediate God, Lawful Neutral, Knowledge or Trickery
  • Kurell: Lesser God, Chaotic Neutral, Trickery

These gods are all linked to the other gods in what they stand for with a specific focus on the human himself. Kord is the god of combat and strength while Trithereon is the god of self-protection and freedom. Zilchus is the god of merchants and money. Lastly, Kurell aligns himself with the gods of chance with a focus on taking what is rightfully his. His worshippers are more often than not the thievery kind.

Evil

  • Nerull: Greater God, Neutral Evil, Death or Grave
  • Incabulos: Intermediate God, Neutral Evil, Death or Grave

These gods are the truly evil deities that are worshipped in the City of Greyhawk. Incabulos spreads disease and plagues while Nerull usually finishes his job with death and despair. There is no way a cleric can worship these deities without being truly evil and often paranoid.

Conclusion

There you have it, all important Greyhawk deities by alignment and by domain. With these list in your backpocket you are ready to ask any worship related questions your players may have. They are also a great inspiration for NPC or character concepts as belief can be an interesting motivation.

It is important to notice how two clerics of the same domain can serve totally different god. That makes for a great variance of playstyles for mechanicly similar characters.

You got hyped to play a campaign in the World of Greyhawk? Check out my free campaign, In the City’s Shadows!

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Force Sculpture in 5e

In our Spell Conversion Series we will look at spells from 2nd edition that didn’t make it into the 5th edition of D&D. For a full list of all named spells, go here.

Method

In order to convert a spell we need to look at the guidelines of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, at the original spell in 2nd edition and at the existing spells in 5e. The new spell shouldn’t overshadow an existing spell nor be too complicated.

5th edition’s biggest advantage over older editions is that spells are extremely streamlined and bookkeeping on the Dungeon Master’s side is kept to a minimum.

Also, some spells might be used for a specific situation. This showcases how some mages in Greyhawk invented magic for their own needs. Consider players to get in touch with those unique spells by meeting disciples of these famous mages (or even the mage himself) rather than handing them out freely.

The spell

Today we look at Bigby’s Force Sculpture. The spell has a also two enhanced versions, Bigby’s Superior Force Sculpture and Bigby’s Most Excellent Force Sculpture. We can implement those with the new mechanic of using a spell on a higher spell level.

With these array of spells you can create from the smallest utensils to the biggest warship anything you can imagine. I can see how this spell can stall a game to a halt when players try to create something extraordinary and the DM has to account for it. It can definitely derail an adventure module, so it should be given out with caution especially for novice DMs.

But the spell is still unique and can be converted. Let’s look at the important mechanics we want to convert:

  • 4th level, 6th level or 8th level
  • Creates an item or structure out of clay
  • Cost and complexity of the end product depend on the casting level

The spell can’t really be compared to any other spell in the 5th edition list. Closest would be Creation and Wall spells. When giving out the spell to players you should discuss with the party what is possible beforehand.

I think a good way to balance the spell is to assume that the casting wizard needs the appropriate knowledge about what he wants to create.

So if he wants to build a big warship, he needs to use his Downtime first to write a detailed plan.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Force Sculpture in 5e:


Bigby’s Force Sculpture


4th-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 120 feet
Components: V, S, M (lump of clay)
Duration: 1 hour

You can shape a plane of force in any way you wish. The form can’t have any sharp edges or loose parts, e.g. a table, chair, bucket.

All objects created can’t be harmed by physical attacks. The structure has a maximum of 8 cubic feet in matter and has the same hit points as you.

At Higher Levels. This spell can also be cast on 6th and 8th level. At 6th level, diamond dust worth 250 gp is consumed when cast. The shape can now have edges like a sword and can be more intricate like a wagon. The size of matter limit is now 64 cubic feet. Casting time is 1 minute and duration is 6 hours. At 8th level, diamond dust worth 1000 gp is consumed when cast. The shape can now have intricate parts and structures like a sailing ship is possible. The size of matter limit is now 256 cubic feet. Casting time is 30 minutes and duration is 1 day.


Conclusion

As you might have realised, converting spells is never easy and highly subjective. There are many ways to the same goal. Our goal is to make our World of Greyhawk experience unique, different from a homebrew of Forgotten Realms campaign. And with every new spell that used to be a Greyhawk exclusive, we are getting closer to our goal.

Next time we are going to convert Bigby’s Battering Gauntlet.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Feeling Fingers in 5e

In our Spell Conversion Series we will look at spells from 2nd edition that didn’t make it into the 5th edition of D&D. For a full list of all named spells, go here.

Method for Spell Conversion in 5e

In order to convert a spell we need to look at the guidelines of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, at the original spell in 2nd edition and at the existing spells in 5e. The new spell shouldn’t overshadow an existing spell nor be too complicated.

5th edition’s biggest advantage over older editions is that spells are extremely streamlined and bookkeeping on the Dungeon Master’s side is kept to a minimum.

Also, some spells might be used for a specific situation. This showcases how some mages in Greyhawk invented magic for their own needs. Consider players to get in touch with those unique spells by meeting disciples of these famous mages (or even the mage himself) rather than handing them out freely.

The spell

Today we look at Bigby’s Feeling Fingers. This spell is used to fine the smallest cracks on surfaces, mostly to find traps. At the moment there is only one spell with a similar effect, Find Traps.

But the spell works a bit different and unique enough to use it in 5th edition. Here is what it can do:

  • 1st Level spell
  • Spawns a magical hand
  • Hand has a 50% chance to find a trap

This spell needs some time to check a bigger area for traps and might not even be successful. Find Traps has the drawback that you don’t know where the trap is, while with Bigby’s Feeling Fingers you can never be really sure if there is not actually a trap.

So is this spell more useful than Find Traps? I think it depends on the circumstances. To be honest I find Find Traps should be a 1st level spell as well.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Feeling Fingers in 5e:


Bigby’s Feeling Fingers

1st-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 180 feet
Components: V, S, M (child-sized silk glove and a swan’s feather)
Duration: 1 hour

You create a hand under your command. The hand can’t grasp, hold or carry anything but has a sensible touch.

You can use the hand to check a 10 by 10 feet square for traps needing 1 minute. The same area can only checked once with a success rate of 50%. Any nonmagical trap cqn be triggered by the hand if you choose to do so.

The hand has an AC of 10, 4 hit points and is immune to physical damage.


Conclusion

As you might have realised, converting spells is never easy and highly subjective. There are many ways to the same goal. Our goal is to make our World of Greyhawk experience unique, different from a homebrew of Forgotten Realms campaign. And with every new spell that used to be a Greyhawk exclusive, we are getting closer to our goal.

Next time we are going to convert Bigby’s Force Sculpture.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Fantastic Fencers in 5e

In our Spell Conversion Series we will look at spells from 2nd edition that didn’t make it into the 5th edition of D&D. For a full list of all named spells, go here.

Method for Spell Conversion in 5e

In order to convert a spell we need to look at the guidelines of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, at the original spell in 2nd edition and at the existing spells in 5e. The new spell shouldn’t overshadow an existing spell nor be too complicated.

5th edition’s biggest advantage over older editions is that spells are extremely streamlined and bookkeeping on the Dungeon Master’s side is kept to a minimum.

Also, some spells might be used for a specific situation. This showcases how some mages in Greyhawk invented magic for their own needs. Consider players to get in touch with those unique spells by meeting disciples of these famous mages (or even the mage himself) rather than handing them out freely.

The spell

Today we look at Bigby’s Fantastic Fencers. This spell is a monster summoning spell. Over the generations the amount of spells that summon creatures to aid the party steadily decreased. This has mostly to do with minimizing bookkeeping in combat. Also, WotC doesn’t want players to flip through the Monster Manual to find stuff to summon.

But the spell is still unique enough to use it in 5th edition. Here is what it can do:

  • 5th Level spell
  • Spawn hands with swords
  • Every hand is a combatant listening to the mage’s orders.

This spell is a well designed combat starter in Bigby’s arsenal. The spawned creatures don’t need concentration to maintain and can hold foes of him. Balance wise a fifth level spell shouldn’t spawn a creature with a CR higher than 5. When spawning multiple monsters the combined CR should be well below this limit.

The original spell actually consumes an amulet worth 1,000 gp. In my opinion this is not necessary for a simple spell.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Fantastic Fencers in 5e:


Bigby’s Fantastic Fencers

5th-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 15 feet
Components: V, S, M (a silver amulet worth 1,000 gp)
Duration: 1 hour

You create three hands holding longswords 15 feet around you. They act on your turn starting the turn you summoned them.

The hands have an AC of 18, 15 hit points and 30 feet of movement. They have the same saving throws as the caster being immune to all status effects.

They can use the Attack action to do a melee attack and use their reaction to do an attack of opportunity with 6 as the attack modifier. A hit does 1d8+3 damage and the attacked creature has to succeed a Strength saving throw DC 12 or are disarmed.

If the hands are somehow disarmed, they are disspelled.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell at 6th or higher level the amount of fighting hands increases by 1 per level.


Conclusion

As you might have realised, converting spells is never easy and highly subjective. There are many ways to the same goal. Our goal is to make our World of Greyhawk experience unique, different from a homebrew of Forgotten Realms campaign. And with every new spell that used to be a Greyhawk exclusive, we are getting closer to our goal.

Next time we are going to convert Bigby’s Feeling Fingers.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama

Spell Conversion: Bigby’s Dextrous Digits in 5e

In our Spell Conversion Series we will look at spells from 2nd edition that didn’t make it into the 5th edition of D&D. For a full list of all named spells, go here.

Method for Spell Conversion in 5e

In order to convert a spell we need to look at the guidelines of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, at the original spell in 2nd edition and at the existing spells in 5e. The new spell shouldn’t overshadow an existing spell nor be too complicated.

5th edition’s biggest advantage over older editions is that spells are extremely streamlined and bookkeeping on the Dungeon Master’s side is kept to a minimum.

Also, some spells might be used for a specific situation. This showcases how some mages in Greyhawk invented magic for their own needs. Consider players to get in touch with those unique spells by meeting disciples of these famous mages (or even the mage himself) rather than handing them out freely.

The spell

Today we look at Bigby’s Dextrous Digits. This spell has a specific out of combat use. It is a mix between Mage Hand and Unseen Servant.

But the spell is still a unique enough to have different use. Here is what it can do:

  • 2nd Level spell
  • Spawn a pair of hands
  • Hands have the same abilities as the mage’s hands and can perform delicate maneuvres

The spell is is yet another out of combat spell of Bigby with the purpose to mimic the mage’s ability to perform a specific task and therefore doubling his work force for a duration. There are many creative uses for this.

Considering all of this, this is my conversion of Bigby’s Dextrous Digits in 5e:


Bigby’s Dextrous Digits

2nd-level evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 90 feet
Components: V, S, M (pair of gloves embroidered with the wizard’s initials)
Duration: Concentration, up to 2 minutes

You create a pair of hands that can perform any action you can do using your proficiencies and Dexterity modifier. Each hand can carry 20 pounds individually and 50 pounds together.

The hands have an AC of 10, 6 hit points and are immune to physical damage. They have 30 feet movement speed and are dispelled if they are 90 feet away from the caster.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell at 3rd or higher level the spell duration increases by 2 minutes for each level.


Conclusion

As you might have realised, converting spells is never easy and highly subjective. There are many ways to the same goal. Our goal is to make our World of Greyhawk experience unique, different from a homebrew of Forgotten Realms campaign. And with every new spell that used to be a Greyhawk exclusive, we are getting closer to our goal.

Next time we are going to convert Bigby’s Fantastic Fencers.

See you in the Green Dragon Inn,

Frogsama