Posts by Greg Marks

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Arcane Adventures: Behind These Walls

In this installment of Arcane Adventures,we look as four spells that target a fortification like a castle or keep. Bickering Whispers 5th-level enchantment (bard, warlock, sorcerer wizard)Casting Time: 10 minutesRange: TouchComponents: V, S, M (a rose dipped in blood that is burned during the casting)Duration: 1 day You enchant a fortification such that those humanoids …

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Arcane Adventures: Winds of Magic

Here we look as three related spells that affect the ability to use magic within a large area. With them, magic might become more frequent, harder to call upon, or even draw other planes closer. Eldritch Abundance 7th-level transmutation (bard, druid, wizard)Casting Time: 8 hoursRange: TouchComponents: V, S, M (a wondrous item of uncommon rarity …

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Arcane Adventures: City Life

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 hourRange: …

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Trapmaster: Incremental Traps

Incremental traps are reminiscent of the death traps from horror movies or superhero comics, where each logical avenue of escape adds another dangerous obstacle to be conquered. Like a normal complex trap, they get worse with time, but unlike most other complex traps, their dangers are not obvious and often act in response to characters’ …

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Trapmaster: Hidden Distractions

Below are three traps that include apparent solutions or bypasses to the trap that exist only to eat up adventurers’ valuable time and resources while hopefully keeping them in danger without their realizing it. Good Timing Complex trap (level 5–10, moderate threat) Passing through a doorway, the room explodes in fire and continues to do …

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Trapmaster: Trapped Treasure, Treasured Traps

Knockout Cane Simple trap (level 1–4, deadly threat) The knockout cane packages a nonlethal punch into an elegant package. The cane has a jade-inlaid pommel shaped like the head of a green dragon. A successful DC 13 Wisdom (Perception) check is needed to discover that it is in fact a cleverly hidden rapier sword cane. …

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Trapmaster: The Soft Touch

In a previous post, I brought up focusing your traps with purpose and mentioned nonlethal traps. These types of traps are often overlooked when designing adventures, but they are equally valuable. Nonlethal traps alert guards to the presence of intruders, scare off dangerous animals, capture valuable prisoners, or hobble fleeing prey.

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Trapmaster: Enough Rope to Hang Themselves

What is the philosophy of traps in your game? Answering this question helps you design the types of traps that you and your players want to see. Those looking for fun puzzles will have a quite different experience from a game that incorporates traps into encounters to create dynamic combats. I recently ran an adventure …

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Trapmaster: Finding Your Purpose

Been thinking a lot about the Exploration pillar in 5th Edition lately—and traps in particular. When you are adding combat scenarios to your game, it’s easy to understand why they’re there: bandits want to steal from the characters, demons want to spread chaos, and for beasts, they just want to defend their lairs. Similarly, it’s …

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