Welcome back to our series on Midgard ley magic. In the inaugural entry, we revisited ley lines, discussed GM prep, and introduced a couple of new ley magic spells. In this article, we dive deeper into GM preparation, presenting a set of optional tables used to answer the most common geomancer question: “Are there any ley lines nearby?”
Locating Ley Lines
Ley line savants (2nd-level geomancers) and Ley Initiates (feat) can sense the presence of nearby ley lines. As an action, they can discern the distance to the closest ley line within 1 mile as well as the direction to every ley line within 1 mile. If they have line of sight to the line itself, it’s visible to them in some obviously magical fashion.
GMs must ultimately decide if ley lines are present at various locations within their adventures. From a narrative point of view, adding ley lines introduces a new variable that could significantly affect the outcome of an encounter should the group include a ley magic spellcaster.
When faced with the decision to place a ley line on an encounter map or within 1 mile of a ley magic spellcaster, three approaches present themselves to a GM:
- Let the Story Decide. GMs who place great emphasis on story and roleplaying could be tempted to only include ley lines if they narratively contribute to the overall plot. However, since most adventures aren’t ley line–centric, this results in making ley lines very rare. While it raises the aura of mystery enshrouding ley lines when encountered, this rarity leaves ley magic spellcasters in a lurch most of the time.
- Let Encounter Balance Decide. Pragmatic GMs can include ley lines if they feel that party members could use an edge or exclude them to limit the contribution of ley magic spellcasters. GM fairness isn’t a topic to be debated here, but following this approach tends to put the potential impact of ley magic spellcasters squarely into the GM’s hands and to take away from player agency.
- Let the World Geography Decide. The Midgard Worldbook provides high level guidance, summarizing where ley lines may be found and where they are rare or non-existent. By reviewing this guidance, a GM can reach reasonable conclusions on nearby ley line locations.
Geography (reason #3) should be the driving factor used in the placement of ley lines. Each GM should decide for themselves, but ley lines are a feature of the world in Midgard and should be treated equally as a game mechanic as they are a story element. That said, GMs should still feel free to prioritize the story or encounter balance when appropriate.
The next section presents optional randomization tables directed at GMs looking for more specific guidance when deciding on the placement of ley lines based on world geography. If there are no ley magic spellcasters in your party, knowing the location of nearby ley lines becomes an academic exercise that can be skipped since it won’t have any repercussions on gameplay.
Placing Ley Lines During GM Prep
GMs can use the tables presented in this section to pencil down in a few minutes the location of ley lines in their various adventure maps. While the tables below are usable during a game session, they run the risk of slowing down the action and causing resentment from the players toward ley magic spellcasters. These randomization tables are designed to assist GMs during adventure design and pre-game preparation, providing easy lookup tools to determine the location of nearby ley lines (if any), their type, distance, and direction.
Note that some rolls can result in placing a titanic ley line where none appear on the official Midgard map. This is normal since not all titanic ley lines are named or mapped, and ley lines can temporarily shift in the world. Ley lines are mysterious, not absolute.
Calculate the Location-Based Modifier
Start by calculating the appropriate location-based modifier using Table 1. A high positive modifier leads to higher chances of locating ley lines nearby.
- Using the Compass tool on the Midgard interactive map, find the base modifier (step 1) which is relative to the distance between the caster and nearest titanic ley line. Use your best approximation.
- Apply the greatest Location modifier (step 2, one only).
- Apply one or more Nearby Features modifiers (step 3).
Table 1: Ley Line Presence Modifiers
|STEP 1: BASE MODIFIER|
|Modifier||Distance to Titanic Ley Line|
|−40||Very far: over 200 miles|
|−20||Far: 100–200 miles|
|+0||Distant: 50−100 miles|
|+20||Close: 25−50 miles|
|+40||Very close: Less than 25 miles|
|+60||Immediate: Area visibly traversed by a titanic/named ley line or fey/shadow road|
|STEP 2: GEOGRAPHICAL FEATURES|
|Modifier||Location of Ley Magic Caster|
|−80||Geographic area known to be devoid of ley lines (e.g. Western Wastes)|
|−60||Several miles deep underground|
|−40||More than 100 ft. underground|
|−10||Shallow underground (e.g. first few levels of a dungeon)|
|+5||Hilltop or small mountain|
|+5||Small river or stream|
|+10||Large river or coastline/beach|
|+15||Lairs: Adult dragon, demons, other creatures of magical power|
|+20||Volcano (dormant or active)|
|+25||Lairs: elder dragon, greater demon, other creatures of great magical power|
|+30||Site of a Ramagi Monolith|
|STEP 3: NEARBY FEATURES|
|Modifier||Nearby features in the area|
|−10||Negative: Consecrated holy/unholy building, freshly plowed earth|
|+5||Positive: Standing stones/stone circles, ancient trees, crossroads, bridge (natural or constructed), druid grove, great temple, elven ruins|
Once the modifier is known, roll a d100 and consult Table 2 to determine what the ley line presence is.
Table 2: Nearby Ley Line Presence
|d100||Ley lines detected within 1 mile (if any)|
|<15||No nearby ley lines within a mile|
|16−39||Single weak ley line|
|40−74||1d4 weak ley lines|
|75−79||Single strong ley line conduit|
|80−89||Strong ley line + 1d4 weak ley lines|
|90−99||Strong ley line + 1d10 weak ley lines|
|100−110||1d4 strong ley lines + 2d8 weak ley lines|
|111−114||Single titanic ley line conduit|
|115−119||Nearby titanic ley line + 1d8 strong ley lines + 2d12 weak ley lines branching out|
|120+||Titanic ley line running through this location + 2d8 strong ley lines + 2d20 weak ley lines branching out|
Once the number of ley lines is known, roll a d20 once for each type of ley line detected and consult Table 3 to determine the distance to the nearest ley line of that type.
Add a +1 modifier per additional ley line detected for each type. For example, if there are 2 strong and 6 weak ley lines within a mile, roll once at +1 to determine the distance to the nearest strong ley line and roll another time at +5 to determine the distance to the nearest weak ley line.
When mapping out the presence of ley lines ahead of time during adventure preparation, use the center of the map as a point of reference. When rolling live during the game, use the location of the ley magic caster.
Table 3: Distance to Nearest Ley Line
|d20||Distance to nearest ley line|
|16−17||30+ ft (roll d20 + 30)|
|18−19||10+ ft (roll d20 + 10)|
|20+||Less than 5 ft./at the caster’s location|
To determine the direction in which the closest point to a ley line is located relative to the caster, roll a d8 and consult Table 4. You can assume the flow is perpendicular to the caster. For example, a ley line located to the east would have a north-south flow.
Table 4: Relative Location of Ley Line
|d8||Location of ley line relative to the caster|
Knowing the exact location of ley lines creates interesting opportunities for tactical gameplay when ley magic spellcasters are involved. It also opens the door to new spell mechanics as explored in this series, creating greater differentiation for geomancers and other ley initiates.
In our next entry, we’ll explore ley line properties, tapping ley lines for effect, bound ley lines for geomancers, and potential ley line encounters resulting from mishaps.
New Ley Line Spells
This new spell is available for ley magic users.
Ley under Cover
2nd-level conjuration (ley line)
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (a piece of opaque glass)
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes
You tap into a ley line within range and create an area of visual distortion that extends in both directions along the path of the ley line. The area is heavily obscured by the distortion, preventing creatures from seeing through it. The size of the distortion area is based on the strength of the ley line. Weak ley lines produce an area 10 feet wide by 10 feet high, running 50 feet in length along the path of the ley line. Strong ley lines produce an area 20 feet wide by 20 feet high and 100 feet long while titanic ley lines produce an area 40 feet wide by 40 feet high and 200 feet long. The area of distortion is not affected by walls, structures, or the elements (wind, snow, rain, etc.)
If there are no ley lines within range of the caster, the spell has no effect. A geomancer with a bound ley line can instead choose to similarly create a 10-foot-radius sphere of distortion centered on the caster, which does not move after being cast.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the length of the distortion increases by 50 feet (weak), 100 feet (strong), or 200 feet (titanic), or the radius of the distortion (caster) increases by 10 feet for each slot level above 1st.
Have you played a geomancer before? Do you have any questions about ley lines? As a GM, how do you handle the placement of ley lines? How are the new ley line spells working out in your adventures? Leave your feedback below and come back for the next installment in this series.