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Arcane Adventures: City Life

Arcane Adventures: City Life

Most spells are focused on combat applications or have short durations. Those few with longer durations are often focused on how they affect the caster. Where are the spells that curse an entire realm or bolster an army? How might the characters utilize such a spell in a long campaign and how might such a spell lead to more interesting adventures if cast by their rivals? Welcome to Arcane Adventures, a series focused on epic spells with long-lasting effects that lead to interesting adventures.

In this section, we look as two related spells that affect settlements (a village, town, or city). Useful if your characters want to improve life in the village that has sprung up around their keep—or if their rival wants to make the populace suffer.

City of Gold

7th-level enchantment (bard, cleric, wizard)
Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a focus statuette carved in the likeness of the settlement in miniature worth 10,000 gp)
Duration: 1 month

You enchant a village, town, or city with stability and good fortune. The settlement’s inhabitants tend to be more cooperative with their neighbors. High levels of safety and education are widespread and trade flourishes.

When you cast the spell, you must place the focus within the borders of the settlement to be enchanted. It may be moved after casting the spell as long as it remains within the settlement’s borders. If it is removed, the spell ends. Dispel magic does not remove the enchantment unless it specifically targets the focus.

City of gold creates the following effects within the enchanted area:

  • Civic Pride. Municipal building projects come in under budget and in less time. Courthouses, museums, walls, wells, public houses, and similar construction expands. Public morale soars. Decrease the time and cost to construct civic buildings or projects by 5%.
  • Fecundity. Word spreads of the settlement’s promise, and it attracts new residents. At the same time, the birth rate increases miraculously. The settlement’s population increases by 0.5% per month (half are immigrating families and half are new births).
  • Safety. Crime rates plummet and the settlement is generally safe from internal threats. Halve the chance of random encounters while within the settlement’s borders.
  • Sunny Days. The settlement’s weather is pleasant for the climate. The settlement has twice the average number of “nice” days without impacting overall precipitation. Rain and snow are more concentrated or more likely to happen in the evenings. Plants grown in yards, gardens, or parks increase their yield by 10%

Other Effect. You may place your choice of one of the following magical effects within the enchanted settlement:

  • Place of Learning. The settlement’s populace embraces education. Decrease the time required to learn a new language, proficiency, or spell by 10% while studying in the city.
  • Prosperity. Legitimate trade flourishes. Businesses earn an additional 5% profit. This bonus does not apply to criminal enterprises.
  • Succor. Those that rest within the borders find peace and good health. Creatures that spend hit dice upon the completion of a short rest heal +1 per die spent. Constitution saving throws made to recover from poison or disease are made with advantage.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 8th level, the duration is 1 year. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 9th level, the duration is 5 years.

City of Ashes

7th-level necromancy (bard, cleric, wizard)
Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a focus statuette carved in the likeness of the settlement in miniature worth 10,000 gp)
Duration: 1 month

You curse a village, town, or city with crime and misfortune. The settlement’s inhabitants become sickly as disease spreads. Suspicion of neighbors becomes common place, and with good reason, as the desperate constantly turn to crime. Corruption inhibits the workings of the city and good-hearted folk move away.

When you cast the spell, you must place the focus within the borders of the settlement to be cursed. It can be moved after casting the spell, but it must remain within the settlement’s borders. If removed, the spell ends. Dispel magic does not remove the enchantment unless it specifically targets the focus.

City of ashes creates the following effects within the enchanted area:

  • Corruption in Government. The hearts of civic leaders and bureaucrats tend toward greed. A host of new permits and regulations are invented to allow those in power to skim coins from the settlement’s treasury. Faith in government collapses. Increase the time and cost to construct civic buildings or projects by 5%.
  • Crime Spree. Crime rates soar and the settlement grows unsafe as internal threats abound. Double the chance of random encounters while within the settlement’s borders.
  • Foul Weather. The settlement’s weather is worse than normal for the climate. The settlement has twice the average number of “bad” days. Rain and snow are more frequent. Clouds gather, except in desert climes where they are seen even less frequently. Food grows scarce. Plants grown in yards, gardens, or parks decrease their yield by 10%
  • Shrinking Populace. The settlement’s reputation sours. Families move to safer locations, workers follow departing employers, and the birthrate declines. The population skews toward those too old, sick, or poor to move away. The settlement’s population decreases by 0.5% per month.

Other Effect. You can place your choice of one of the following magical effects within the cursed settlement:

  • Criminal Enterprise. Crime becomes a fact of life. All businesses are forced to pay protection, suffer theft, or endure costly vandalism. Businesses decrease their earnings by 5%. This penalty does not apply to criminal enterprises.
  • Sickness. The settlement’s water source fouls. Food stores become contaminated. Communicable disease spreads rapidly. Plague outbreaks appear within the settlement (determined randomly) and begin spreading. Constitution saving throws made to resist disease are made at disadvantage.
  • Urban Blight. Settlement infrastructure decays unnaturally fast. Trash piles up. Vandalism is evident. Buildings rot or catch fire. Roads and bridges fail. Construction in the settlement loses 5% of its hit points, and Strength checks made to break doors, windows, walls, or similar objects are made with advantage.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 8th level, the duration is 1 year. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 9th level, the duration is 5 years.

Adventure Ideas

There are several stories to be told or embellished by adding city of gold and city of ashes to your game. The focus is the key—and vulnerability—to both of these spells. To maintain the spell, the focus needs to remain safe within the borders of the settlement. Whether the characters seek to protect or conceal their own focus or want to remove or destroy one from their own or a rival’s settlement, these spells lend themselves naturally to the creation of further adventure. Here are a few ideas you might use:

  • Empire Building. A party with a home base, especially if they own property or act as lords of a settlement, could easily benefit from casting city of gold on the territory. This might be especially fitting to players who are interested in the mini-game of building and managing their own settlement. Master thieves will inevitably catch wind of the 10,000 gp focus and seek to steal it.
  • Favor for a Friend. Powerful characters tend to trade favors with other powerful individuals, and blessing an ally’s city is a powerful boon. In order to enchant their own home, a party might be required to go on series of mission for their benefactor.
  • Revenge. Are your enemies too powerful or too politically connected to face directly? Have the characters been a thorn in your side for too long? If you can afford to have the focus created, you can slowly rot away their base of support with city of ashes. Of course, to do so, you need to sneak into your foe’s territory and hide the focus somewhere they won’t find it.

2 thoughts on “Arcane Adventures: City Life”

  1. These have great potential in so many different ways. Like what happens after the effect ends and what if people totally misread the situation?

    I’m imagining a town where an old hedge witch maintained a City of Gold effect without ever telling anyone. When she finally dies of natural causes her child (or children), not believing that their mother who lives in a shack could possibly have had such wealth or been responsible for anything so important, takes the focus and intends to sell it somewhere large and far away. Meanwhile, since the town’s been benefitting from the blessing for 30 or 40 years, the sudden removal of it seems indistinguishable from a curse and the PCs are hired to figure out which enemy has it out for the town. Hilarity (chaos) ensues when it is revealed multiple enemies wish ill will on the town, but none of them are responsible, and the actual guilty party didn’t intend any harm and might not even know the town is suffering. After all, so soon after losing a mother it is entirely possible they didn’t pay attention to what was happening in town as they left.

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