Spells of the Summerlands

In the latest in my Summerlands series, originally for the Summerland blog carnival. I’ve never written a spell, before, so I”m playing around a bit, here.

Druid Spells

1st Level
One with the Sea

2nd Level
Empower Poison

3rd Level
Wings of Power

Ranger Spells

1st Level

2nd Level
Empower Poison

4th Level
Elemental Retribution

Sorcerer Spells

1st Level
One with the Sea

2nd Level
Empower Poison

3rd Level
Wings of Power

4th Level
Elemental Retribution

7th Level
Conjure Dragon

Spell Descriptions

Conjure Dragon
7th-level conjuration

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour

You summon a dragon of challenge rating 6 or lower, which appears in an unoccupied space that you can see within range. The dragon disappears when it drops to 0 hit points or the spell ends.
The dragon is friendly to you and your companions for the duration. Roll initiative for the dragon, which has its own turns. It obeys any verbal commands that you issue to it (no required by you), as though its alignment were your own. If you don’t issue any commands to the dragon, it defends itself from hostile creatures, but otherwise takes no actions.
The DM has the dragon’s statistics.

2nd-level transmutation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration, up to one minute

The ground beneath your feet rises up 5 feet, creating a steep slope around you that opponents have difficulty standing on. All Medium-sized adjacent opponents have disadvantage on melee attacks against you, and opponents whose size is Small are not considered adjacent for the purposes of their attacks. In addition, you attacks and those of your allies have advantage against any opponent standing adjacent to you. If you move during the spell’s duration, the ground rises to meet your feet, falling to its original elevation behind you.

Elemental Retribution
4th-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a scale from the right color of dragon)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour

For the duration, the willing creature you touch has resistance to one type of damage, determined by the breath weapon of the dragon whose scale was used to cast the spell. When the subject resists damage of the appropriate kind, that damage amount can be applied to a single ranged or melee attack that it makes within the next round. Only one instance of damage can be applied – resisting a second attack changes both the amount of the damage and the type.

Empower Poison
2nd-level transmutation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (leg of a frog)
Duration: Instantaneous

You touch a poisoned item or creature that delivers a poison and increase the potency of the poison. If the poison has an onset time, it instead takes effect immediately on contact with a target. The poison’s target has disadvantage on saving throws while poisoned. If the poison inflicts damage, that damage is doubled.

One with the Sea
1st-level transmutation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S, M (a fish scale)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

Until the spell ends, you grow webs between your fingers and your feet become flippers. Your swim speed increases by 20 feet, and you can use the Dash action while swimming.

1st-level transmutation (ritual)

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S, M (a stale piece of bread)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour

When you are running down prey, nothing can stop you. When you travel at a fast pace, you don’t take a penalty to your passive Wisdom (Perception) checks. In addition, for the duration of the spell you ignore fatigue related to travel.

Wings of Power
3rd-level evocation

Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S, M (a feather or a scale from a dragon’s wing)
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes

If you have wings, or have already cast the fly spell, increase your fly speed by 10 feet (this gives you a fly speed of 10 feet if you do not have one). As long as you are concentrating on this spell, your fly spell does not end. Until this spell ends, if you choose not to move or take an action in a round, you grant a +5 AC bonus to yourself and any adjacent allies. You can end the spell at any time during its duration to do 1d8 damage to each creature adjacent to you.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level of higher, your fly speed increases by 10 feet, the AC bonus increases by +1, and the damage increases by 1d8.

Earthrise comes from groundswell, which comes from the Advanced Race Guide, cc Paizo 2012
The others were inspired by spells like accelerate poison, draconic reservoir, and tireless pursuit, from Paizo Advanced Player’s Guide, and manifest dragon heritage and touch of the sea, from Wizard’s Races of the Dragon.

Hacking the Spells

Some of these were easier than others. Tireless pursuit and touch of the sea, in particular, were easy. Summoning is different, in 5th edition. I tried to base conjure dragon on the other conjuring spells, particularly conjure celestial. Earthrise is basically groundswell, but I wanted to rise to move with the caster, and flanking isn’t a thing in 5th Edition.

Wings of power was a fun combination of some other spells, and let me play with some mechanics I haven’t seen in 5e, like granting an effect for ending a spell early. One of the nice things about the concentration mechanic is that spells that so more than one thing aren’t overpowered, because they can’t be stacked with other spells that do more than one thing.

Elemental retribution was interesting, because the original spell, draconic reservoir, used the protection mechanic to deal damage, but that mechanic works differently in 5th Edition. I’m not sure that “use the damage that you resisted” is clear in my wording, or works at all, but it’s a fun experiment.

Empower poison is built with the grippli in mind.

I don’t like the idea of creating spells just to create spells, so I wanted each of these to be flavorful and fun, something that would be an attractive choice, and not just a mechanically obvious one (as so many 3rd Edition spells were).

Next Time: Fighting the grippli wars: antagonists and poison


Races of the Summerlands: Grippli

The grippli are one of the most talked-about races on the message-boards, so I thought I’d play with it. The fifth of my Summerlands races, for the (now long over) June RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Tales of a DM, I’m playing with some themes for the grippli, and doing a little bit with mechanics.

by Broken OrangeGrippli

Though they build no cities and claim no territory, the grippli are among the most feared races in the world. Individually, they pose little harm, and most of the time grippli have little interest in associating with anyone outside of their family unit, others of their kind included. When they gather, however, few forces can stand against them.

Spawning Pools

Most grippli families live in small groups in wild places, providing for themselves by hunting and trading. For them, however, family is not a function of blood. Once a year, grippli migrate to ancestral pools to mate. Once, these pools were left behind by adult grippli, and the young were allowed to hatch and grow on their own. Now, however, the grippli understand that they have enemies, and each year the mating pools are guarded by a cadre of grippli either too young or too old to participate, who watch over the tadpoles until they reach adolescence, perform their guard duties, and go on their own into the wider world.

Bonds of Trust

Despite the mating habits of the grippli, they do fall in love. Grippli love comes in many varieties, from camaraderie to romantic attachment, but it is always separate from sex. It is, instead, connected to trust. Because the grippli are dispersed throughout the Summerlands, without a home of their own, they cling tightly to the people they trust, and do not trust easily, even other grippli. A grippli might watch a potential ally for days before revealing themselves, carefully weighing every action. Once a grippli does give its trust, however, the bond is nearly unbreakable. This is how grippli family units are formed. Once formed, a grippli family moves together, fights together, lives and dies together. While grippli mate for just a moment at a time, when a family bond is formed, it is for life.

Guerrilla Warriors

When the grippli go to war, its scale is either intimate or catastrophic. When a family is threatened, it will go to war to defend its members, and it may be joined by a few nearby allies. When the forests and swamps of the Summeralnds are threatened, however, the grippli go to war as a nation. When they do, leaders are chosen and ranks are formed: the grippli know their business, and want nothing more than to finish their task and return to their lives. Unlike other races, however, who make war with hiding beasts and mighty weapons, the grippli use stealth, poison, and their bows. While a reven army might make paste of an equivalent force of grippli on an open field of battle, the grippli never allow that to happen. They fight from secret, using terror and thinning their foes’ ranks with poison and disease, until their enemy can fight no longer. This is the only reason grippli congregate in large numbers.

In smaller numbers, grippli form communities in particularly large cities with parks or sub-urban communities where grippli can make their homes. In Dragon Tyr, the grippli are a political force, though the role of Council Speaker is not a position of pride, but rather an onerous civic duty. In cities, many grippli move away from their traditional hunting and gathering roles, and find success as alchemists, thieves, and spies.

Grippli Names

Grippli names are never tied clans or families, but are usually a single word with meaning in their tongue. Outsiders can’t tell the difference between male and female names, and often can’t distinguish between grippli names and other words in their language. Male Names: Brooaka (“Hunter on high”), Choraka (“Hunter from below”), Jipjiptoo (“Speaking and speaking with clarity”), Vreeto (“Prizes clarity”). Female Names: Hurrupana (“Slayer of the hated foe”), K’k’k’lock’k (“Many running waters”), Groakarup (“Hunter of her enemy’s heart”)

Grippli Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2, and Wisdom score increases by 1.
Age. Young grippli are born tadpoles and grow into full-grown grippli over the course of a few months, reaching adulthood within a year. The natural lifespan of a grippli is 50 years.
Alignment. Grippli typically reject the structures and rules of society, and tend towards chaotic alignments. Lawful grippli, while rare, tend to look for other societies to join, and are incredibly effective managers and lawbringers. The battles between good and evil are uninteresting to most grippli, who are concerned only with survival and defending their homes from depredation. Grippli who lean towards good do this out of a purity of spirit, while evil grippli are more likely to hunt and kill would-be despoilers, often before they have a chance to act.
Size. Grippli average between 3 and 4 feet, but stoop slightly, and weigh about 30 pounds. Your size is small.
Speed. Your base walking and climbing speed is 20 feet.
Chameleon Skin. You have advantage on Dexterity (stealth) checks made to hide in forest and swamp environments.
Leaper. Your long jump is up to 20 feet and your high jump is up to 10 feet, and you are always considered to have a running start.
Poison. All grippli secrete a poison from a gland in their mouth to aid in hunting. You can apply this poison to a weapon or piece of ammunition as an action. The poison lasts for 1 hour, or until the weapon hits. On a hit, the target must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on a success. Once you have used this ability, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Grippli weapon training. You have proficiency with blowguns, rapiers, and shortbows.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Grippli. The Grippli language is spoken from the throat, and what sounds like a single word to outsiders is often a number of smaller words joined together to create a new one. The grippli word for the reven, for example, is a combination of the words for “dragon” and “walk.” Grippli art is a private matter, as is most of their lives, but anyone who has spent time near a grippli knows the sound of their songs, long, beautiful paeans that sometimes last from dusk until dawn.

Grippli Bonds

When creating a grippli character from the Summerlands, you can use the following table of bonds to help flesh out your character. Use this table in addition to or in place of your background’s bond or a bond of your creation.

d6 Bond
1 The bond of family is the most important bond there is, and the family I have made must be protected.
2 I am the forest’s first line of defense, and the best defense is a brutal offense.
3 The thrill of the hunt keeps me alive, and I am always looking for bigger and better game.
4 Everything in my life is an excuse to experiment with alchemical formulas.
5 We are not animals – I defend my world and my family through diplomacy.
6 The forest exists because the dragons allow it, and I serve the will of the dragons in all things.


Mighty Hunter
            Requirement: Grippli

You have undergone the Ritual of Evolution, gaining abilities that connect you to your heritage among the frogs and giant frogs of the swamps, as well as abilities that will one day be common to all grippli. You gain the following abilities:

  • Increase your Strength score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
  • Your size becomes medium, and your base walking and climbing speeds are 30 feet.
  • Your poison becomes more potent. Your target must succeed at a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned. Any target who is affected by your poison can not regain hit points while they are poisoned. In addition, the target’s speed is halved while they are poisoned.
  • You can cast invisibility. When casting invisibility in this way, you can only target yourself, and your invisibility has a duration of concentration, up to 2 rounds. This use of invisibility does not affect any spellcasting from other classes. After you use your invisibility, you can’t use it again until you complete a short or long rest.
  • You are proficient in the longbow.

Hacking the Grippli

While this version of the grippli are rooted in the Summerlands, they fit in anywhere. Their abilities are pretty straightforward, and only the poison would add to their challenge rating, if they were an opponent.

Without the poison, they’re just like any hidden forest race: this could work for fey, or bullywugs, or others.

I feel like my real experiment, here, is the feat. Should a small race like the grippli be able to grow? What would that mean, in game terms? Small races don’t have the same advantages and disadvantages in 3rd edition; size isn’t so locked in to the mechanics. Why not grow, gain a little strength, use longbows, walk a little faster? Can the same experiment be performed with gnomes or halflings? Is it worth a feat, or more than a feat?

The change to large would be more significant, I think, but only because of range.

The grippli are one of two races without a homeland, but there’s no stigma about it, for them. They’re seen as part of the world. The tunder are different: fey no one trusts. I was a little worried about having both of them in the same setting, but I think it works, because they’re viewed differently by the races around them. Also, the names. I could make up grippli names all day.

Next time: 7 Summerlands Spells!

Summerlands Background: Dragon-touched

Unlike some of the other pieces I’ve done, this background is uniquely tied to the Summerlands. It doesn’t make sense anywhere else. That made it hard to write, but hopefully it also makes it flavorful and interesting. This is part of my series of summer posts inspired by the (now long over) June RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Tales of a DM.

Background: Dragon-touched

You have spent time working for one of the powerful dragons overseeing the Summerlands. Whether you were an apprentice or a slave, your life has been shaped by your proximity to a powerful patron. You might have engaged in magical research led armies, or served as a spy. Your connection to the dragon might lay in your past, a secret that you are running from, or it may be ongoing, as you work to shape the world to your master’s will.
Skill Proficiencies: Arcana, Deception
Tool Proficiencies: Disguise Kit
Language: Draconic
Equipment: A disguise kit, a single dragon’s scale, a set of traveler’s clothes, a belt pouch containing 15 gp

Hand of the Dragon

While the dragons of the Summerlands are usually a distant presence, they do sometimes involve themselves more directly in the lives of the mortal races around them. While all the Summerlands’ dragons are evil, their degree of cruelty and depravity varies, as do their requirements for their servants. However you were connected to a dragon, that connection influences you throughout your life. Choose the hand the dragon played (or continues to play) in your life, or roll on the table below.

d6 Position
1 Magical research
2 War-leader
3 Spy
4 Lair-servant
5 Cultist
6 Foster-child

Feature: Paths of the Dragon

You know the location of dragon lairs and bolt-holes, and can always find a place to hide or rest for the night. In addition, when you left the dragon’s service, you took a single page with you. That page might contain a powerful ritual, or battle-plan, or a evidence of a secret conspiracy. By itself, the page might not be worth much, but given enough time and the right allies, you might be able to turn it to your advantage, or use it to bring your former master to ruin.

Work with your GM to determine the contents of your secret page, and its impact on the campaign.

Suggested Characteristics

The servants of a dragon are not always willing, but no one can work closely with such a creature without being touched by its magic, and its malice. Servants who run away spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders, and those who are freed often leave some piece of themselves behind. While the dragons of the Summerlands are evil, their degree of cruelty varies, and their servants are often good creatures whose lives have been stolen.

d8 Personality trait
1 I know that my former master is coming for me, and I and jump at the slightest noise, always looking over my shoulder.
2 In every situation, I have back-up plans for my back-up plans, and one plan always enables me to get away.
3 When I fight, which I love to do, I am prone to calling out orders in draconic, a holdover from my days as a warrior for the dragon.
4 I never stay in one place too long, and refuse to talk about my past.
5 Whenever anyone invokes the dragons, I spit on the ground and make a sign to ward off evil; I know they can hear it when someone speaks their names.
6 I know that my former master is coming, and I look forward to the confrontation.
7 I served the dragons with distinction, and take pride in my accomplishments.
8 I consider the dragons gods, though not necessarily benevolent gods.
d6 Ideal
1 Greater Good. I have seen the evil the dragons do, and I will make the Summerlands a better place in spite of them. (Good)
2 Responsibility. I am driven by the terrible things I have seen to bring justice to the world. (Lawful)
3 Independence. I will never allow anyone else to be used as I was used by the dragon. (Chaotic)
4 Power. I glimpsed power during my time of service, and I want to do more than just see it from the outside. (Evil)
5 Moving On. I only want to put my past behind me and move on with my life. (Neutral)
6 Service. I will serve the will of the dragon until my death. (Evil)
d6 Bond
1 A dragon raised me as its child, and while I might reject its depravity, I still see dragons as my kin.
2 I have sworn a blood oath to kill the humanoids who do the dragons’ work in the world, for they are far worse than the dragons.
3 I would die to see the dragons’ grip on the Summerlands broken.
4 I carry a dark secret about my draconic master, one that its enemies would kill for, and it would kill to protect.
5 I want to become a great and noble hero, to erase the terrible deeds I performed while in the dragon’s service.
6 I left the dragon’s service out of love for someone else.
d6 Flaw
1 The sight of anything draconic sends me into a rage (including reven).
2 The scars from my time with the dragon will never fully heal, and I will sacrifice anything to keep from going back there.
3 Though I can understand it, I refuse to speak in Draconic.
4 While I believe that I am free, if a dragon commands me to do something, I am not sure I have the strength to disobey.
5 Agents of the dragon are actively hunting me at all times.
6 I am deathly afraid of the damage type inflicted by my former master’s breath weapon.

Hacking the Dragon-touched

Backgrounds are hard. It seems like they’d be easy, since they’re basically five tables, four paragraphs, and some skills, tools, and equipment. All the same, they’re hard because they’re specific, and every line has to be tied together. A bond is not a trait is not an ideal, and each of those has to be written with its own unique flavor.

Still, I love the flavor of this one. It could fit in to another world, with some re-skinning.I could see, for example, this being an interesting background for a former Dragon Cultist in the Forgotten Realms, for someone trained by a metallic dragon in Pathfinder, or for someone who is part of the Draconic Prophesies of Eberron.

Next time: Races of the Summerlands: The Grippli!

Summerlands Races: The Reven

I love the idea of the dragonborn, but the execution is often lacking. The fourth of my Summerlands races, for the (now long over) June RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Tales of a DM, the reven are my attempt to play with the theme, and make them a little more flavorful.


cc PeachycoCreated by the dragons long ago, the reven of today build powerful city-states and mighty armies. Though they delight in war, reven respect all of the professions that make war possible. Whether a reven is a farmer, a logger, a builder, or a teacher, their work serves one purpose: to strengthen their society and home themselves to perfection. A reven who has perfected the craft of logging is as rightly regarded as one who has mastered the ways of war, and more esteemed than a warrior whose scales have never been bloodied.


The reven are less dragon-born, and more dragon-made. Long ago experiments in creating servants, the reven were either a great failure, or a rousing success. Some say that the reven escaped their servitude and built lives for themselves on the central plains of the Summerlands. Others, perhaps more understanding of dragons’ natures, say that the reven were released, either as a reward or a punishment. All the stories begin the same, however: the dragons created the reven to be the perfect race of servants, but now the reven toil for no one but themselves. Strong-willed and independent, they will bow to no one except by choice, and the frequent wars between their mighty city-states are evidence of their independence.

Individual reven might despise way and seek to avoid fighting, but every reven strives to achieve perfection of body and craft. Whatever a reven does, doing that thing well honors their family, and the dragons who made them.

Warlords and Kings

The great cities of the reven serve to feed their wars with one another as each reven warlord-king (called Greatwyrm by their people) tries to control the fertile grasslands. Some reven city-states control hundreds of square miles, such as the military theocracy of Toka Zjedhur and the democratic, egalitarian Kryesor Madj, but most are small tribal communities of farmers and herders.

Whatever the size or nature of their community, reven tend to be both territorial and expansionist. Even the smallest farmer will defend his little plot to the death, while looking for ways to increase its size. The Greatwyrms embody this ideal on a national level, marshaling armies and waging periodic wars against their neighbors. Rarely do city-states make lasting peace agreements. A truce might be called for a few planting seasons, but before long the armies will be moving, again.

Wings and Scales

While reven can’t use their wings to fly until the reven has evolved, those wings are always a point of pride. Reven polish and shine their wings, sometimes painting intricate designs on the membranes, piercing the cartilage, or grafting strips of metal to them as a mark of their ability to endure pain.

The scales of a reven provide armor, but even for reven who never see battle, their scales are a source of pride and decoration. Many reven paint their scales with symbols or artistic representations of important events or people in their lives. Reven scale-paint does not wash off, but can be removed painlessly, and many reven change their scale-paint every few months.

Reven Names

Draconic, as spoken by reven, is guttural, with strings of consonants. A reven’s name is determined by their accomplishments, and will reveal those accomplishments to those who know them, often in metaphor. As such, reven names can change over time, and while most have a core that remains, reven expect to reintroduce themselves to long-absent acquaintances. The name of the legendary general Steelclaw the Unyielding refers to his finely-crafted metal hand, which was made for him after he defended Toka Zjedhur against a rampaging dinosaur while the city’s defenses were unprepared. A reven beggar might be called One-eye the Unworthy, while a seventh-generation farmer might be called Longplow the Steady. Reven names are more than just labels: they are stories.

Reven Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2, and either your Dexterity or your Wisdom score of your choice increases by 1.

Age. Young reven grow quickly, aging as dragonborn.

Alignment. Reven strive towards the perfection of self in all things, and tend towards lawful alignments. They have no preference for good or evil, however. Those reven who do follow a path of chaos do so out of a sense of individuality and a desire to demonstrate that their achievements are greater than their peers’.

Size. Reven are broad-shouldered and tall, but light, standing 7 feet tall and averaging 150 pounds.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet and your climb speed is 10 feet.

Claws. Your mighty claws are useful for combat as well as climbing. You are never unarmed. You are proficient with your claw, which is a melee weapon that deals 1d6 slashing damage.

Wings. Your wingspan is twice your height, and those wings are composed of powerful muscles over cartilage, with strong membranes in between them. Although not useful for flight, your wings provide stability, giving you advantage on Strength (Athletics) and Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks related to climbing, jumping and balancing, and on any saving throw to avoid being knocked prone. You can use them to pick up small items up to 20 feet away, although your wings can’t manipulate most items.

Glide. Your wings give you the ability to glide for brief periods of time. As long as you are not prone at the beginning of your turn, and both start and end your movement on a surface on which you can stop (including a surface on which you could climb), you can glide up to your movement speed when you take a move action. You can attack at any time during your move, as normal, but you may not glide and use the Dash action on the same turn.

Protective scales. Your body is covered in thin plates that are nonetheless effective armor. Your base armor class is 12, as long as you are wearing no other armor.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Draconic. Draconic is both a holy and a reviled language in the Summerlands, and few creatures speak it in public.

Reven Bonds

When creating a reven character from the Summerlands, you can use the following table of bonds to help flesh out your character. Use this table in addition to or in place of your background’s bond or a bond of your creation.

d6 Bond
1 I seek perfection in the arts of war, testing myself against all opponents. I would rather lose a fight against a better foe than win against one unworthy of my blade.
2 I seek perfection in the arts of diplomacy. My words should move the coldest heart, creating peace where wars rage, or war where peace stagnates.
3 I seek perfection in the arts of thievery. No gate shall keep me out, and no lock shall defend against me. There is no challenge greater than an impregnable fortress.
4 I seek perfection in the arts of magic. Through study and exploration, I will open doorways in my mind that no other reven has yet conceived.
5 I seek perfection in my knowledge of the world. I will explore and catalogue every blade of grass in the Summerlands, and beyond, if possible.
6 I seek perfection in slaughter. I will not rest until I have slain one of each type of creature that lives, or all of one type.


            Requirement: Reven Dragonborn

You have undergone the Ritual of Evolution, gaining abilities that connect you to your draconic heritage and abilities that will one day be common to all reven. You gain the following abilities:

  • You have a fly speed of 30 feet and a climb speed of 20 feet.
  • Choose one type of dragon (black, blue, green, red, or white). You gain resistance to the damage type dealt by that dragon’s breath weapon.
  • If you do not use them to fly in a round, you can make an attack with your wings. Your wings do 1d10 damage and have reach. If your attack hits, and the creature if Large or smaller, it must make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, you knock the target prone.

Hacking the Reven

I’ve already written one subrace for the dragonborn, but I wanted one that focused on the wings. The blog Tribality (which I really enjoy) has another set of subraces based on the draconic types, and while I like the idea, it didn’t fit into the Summerlands. In fact, that Tribality post is one of the few places I could find dragonborn subraces. In the drac, I wanted to focus on the magic of dragons, but in this one I wanted to see a mechanic that emulated wings without giving them flight until 4th level (or later).

Except for the claws and protective scales, none of the new abilities: wings, gliding, a dismal climb speed, would add to the dragonborn’s CR if they were given to an opponent, so they seemed like a fair trade for the draconic resistance, while the claws and armor replaced the breath weapon.

In another world, one where dragonborn don’t usually have wings, the reven subrace could represent interference by dragons, or a natural evolution of the dragonborn race. Either way, they would likely not hold positions of power (unlike dragonborn with the Winged ability, from the Tribality article), but might instead be persecuted and hunted, both by dragonborn and by members of other races who saw them as a threat.

Next time: More draconic meddling! The Dragon-touched Background

Adventuring in the Summerlands: Low Level Adventures

I recently heard a panel discussion where Wolfgang Baur said that adventures are the best way to build a game world, because people play adventures. The idea is that a world without adventures is built for nothing, because players have nothing to do in it. That makes sense, but it’s a little intimidating for me: I’ve never written an adventure. I don’t really read adventures, either. I read setting books and world-books all the time, because I like world-building, but even when I’m running them I tend to skim adventures, because I make things up on the fly.

Still, I like to experiment and challenge myself, so I’m giving this adventure-writing thing a shot. In less than 2000 words, there isn’t much space to really “build an adventure,” so instead I’ll put in a couple of seeds, a rough outline, and some monsters. Next time, a tighter adventure, maybe.

Betrayal at Mahana Wai

pools(An adventure for low-level characters in the Summerlands)

Mahana Wai is a bustling resort town on the central coast, a half-day’s journey from the great lighthouse at Twilight’s Eye. With its many geothermal pools, Mahana Wai is one of the few coastal cities with a real hospitality industry: its dozens of inns, taverns, and shops cater to sea kin and others who come for the relaxation and medicinal qualities of the pools. The tourism industry in Mahana Wai is strengthened by the difficulty in settling there. Residency, and the ability to build a new house that comes with it, are only granted by permission of the town mayor, and such dispensations are only typically granted to close relatives (though it is said that anyone with enough coin, regardless of their actual relation, or even their race, can become a relative of the mayor).

When a Kato Hightide, a wealthy landowner, is found dead on the beach, everyone assumes that he was killed by a selkie, and the mayor begins taking bids on his extensive lands (which if broken up, could be sold to more than a dozen new arrivals. While Hightide’s wounds look to have been made by claws of some kind, his wife is convinced that he was not killed by a selkie (and she has good reason to believe that, as she is a selkie, herself, who gave up her life to be with him). Was he killed by the mayor, to open up expansion? Was it one of the wealthy bidders, looking a quick way to settle in town? Could it be the town sheriff, who is clearly in love with Hightide’s wife? Whoever it is, how could they have made it look like a selkie attack? Did they make a deal with a local sahuagin tribe? Did they hire one of the varanus that lives outside of town?

As they investigate the murder (perhaps at the request of the widow, who can certainly pay, or on orders from the sheriff or the mayor, looking for outsiders to take the fall), the party will encounter sea kin toughs, sahuagin squatters, and a wealthy reven looking to retire by the sea, all of whom know more than they let on.

The Fallen Tower

cc Jake Murray

(An adventure for 4-6th level characters)

On the northern coast, west of the Seaway River, reven and sea kin loggers fell mighty redwood trees, while grippli and wildren observers make sure that replacements are planted and treaties are respected. Such work is always dangerous, though it is made easier by the reven ability to glide, and the sea kin facility with water. All the same, accidents are expected, and casualties are part of the job. Recently, though, loggers have been going missing during the night.

The reven suspect wildren, and tensions in the camp are high, with neither group trusting the other to solve the disappearances to their satisfaction. Outside contractors are called in. The adventurers might discover that a wildren war-band has been sabotaging the logging operations, but they, too, have been losing members during the night.

Both sets of disappearances can be tracked to a fallen tower, outside of town. Once the laboratory of wildren druid/wizard, the tower has spent a decade laying on its side, sinking into the mud. Outside, the ruin is home to swarms of bloodflies and hawkwasps, but inside there is evidence of a great battle. Skeletons of aarakocra lie among the remains of creatures that are part ape, part… something else.

While many of the wizard’s experiments escaped, some have made their homes in the tower’s ruins: spined apes, a pair of oranagons, (in a flooded room) a small tribe of apetapuses, all answering to a mighty girallon.

In the sunken room, explorers can find a cache of broken dragon eggs. In another room, bodies of reven loggers, each brutally slain. Finally, in the wizard’s laboratory, the girallon’s lair, a gruesome sight: the wizard’s corpse, half-frozen and half-burned by dragonfire as punishment for his desecration of the dragon eggs. Nearby, broken wildren, killed in the girallon’s misguided attempt to put the wizard back together.

What secrets can be found in the wizard’s hidden notebooks? What other foul experiments roam the countryside as a result of his work?


Summerlands Antagonists

Medium beast, unaligned
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)

Hit Points 22 (4d8 + 4)
Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft.

STR 16 (+3) DEX 14 (+2) CON 13 (+1) INT 5 (-3) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 8 (-1)
Skills Athletics +5, Acrobatics +4
Senses passive Perception 10
Challenge 1 (200 xp)

Spiked Hide. When the spined ape is hit with a melee attack, the attacker takes 2 damage.

The spined ape makes two attacks. The spined ape can make a melee and a ranged attack in the same round.

Fist. Melee weapon attack. +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) bludgeoning and piercing damage.

Slam. Melee weapon attack. +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d68+ 3) bludgeoning and piercing damage.

Spines. Ranged weapons attack. +4 to hit, range 30/60, one target. Hit 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage.

Medium beast, unaligned
Armor Class 13
Hit Points 50 (8d8 + 24)
Speed 10 ft., swim 30 ft.

STR 16 (+3) DEX 16 (+3) CON 16 (+3) INT 8 (-4) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 8 (-1)
Skills Athletics +5, Acrobatics +4, Perception +4, Stealth +4
Senses passive Perception 12
Challenge 2 (450 xp)

Amphibious. The apetopus can breathe air and water.

The apetopus makes two melee attacks or one ink cloud attack.

Fist. Melee weapon attack. +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage.

Tentacles. Melee weapon attack. +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 14). Until this grapple ends, the apetopus can’t use its tentacles on another target.

Ink Cloud (Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). A 10-foot-radius cloud of ink extends all around the apetopus if it is underwater. The area is heavily obscures for 1 minute, although a significant current can dispense the ink. After releasing the ink, the apetopus can use the Dash action as a bonus action.



Large beast, unaligned
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 96 (12d10 + 36)
Speed 50 ft.
STR 18 (+4) DEX 12 (+1) CON 16 (+3) INT 6 (-2) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 6 (-2)
Skills Perception +2
Senses blindsight 10 ft., darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages Draconic (can’t speak)
Challenge 4 (1,100 xp)

Resistance: The orangagon gains resistance to a type of damage based on its color.

Black Acid
Blue Lightning
Green Poison
Red Fire
White Cold

Breath Weapon (Recharge 5-6). The orangagon exhales a breath weapon based on its color. Each creature in the area must make a saving throw, taking 24 damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one.

Black 15-foot line of acid, 5 feet wide DC 11 Dexterity saving throw
Blue 30-foot line of lightning, 5 feet wide DC 12 Dexterity saving throw
Green 15-foot cone of poison DC 11 Constitution saving throw
Red 15-foot cone of fire DC 13 Dexterity saving throw
White 15-foot cone of cold DC 12 Dexterity saving throw

The orangagon makes three melee attacks.

Fist. Melee weapon attack. +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage.

Claw. Melee weapon attack. +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) slashing damage.

Bite. Melee weapon attack. +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 4) piercing damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 14). While the target is grappled, the orangagon can use its breath weapon to affect the target, which takes disadvantage on the saving throw. When used in this way, the orangagon’s breath weapon does not affect the area listed above.

Large beast, unaligned
Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 150 (12d10 + 36)
Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft.
STR 18 (+4) DEX 16 (+3) CON 16 (+3) INT 9 (-1) WIS 12 (+2) CHA 8 (-1)
Skills Athletics +6, Acrobatics +5, Perception +4, Stealth +5
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14
Languages Draconic
Challenge 6 (2,300 xp)

Four-armed terror: The girallon can take three reactions per round in combat.


Multiattack. The girallon makes four melee attacks.

Claw. Melee weapon attack. +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) slashing damage. If the girallon hits the same target with two claw attacks, the creature is grappled (escape DC 15). Until the grapple ends, the target is restrained and the girallon can’t make claw attacks against another target.

Bite. Melee weapon attack. +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d10 + 4) piercing damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 15). Until the grapple ends, the target is restrained and the girallon can’t bite another target.

Shake: The girallon makes one bite attack against a creature that it is grappling. If the attack hits, the girallon shakes the creature violently, doing 19 (3d10 + 4) points of damage.

 Hacking The Antagonists

I love the idea of a wildren druid-mage to committed to their ape-related magic that all their creatures are ape hybrids. It’s like the wizard who created the owlbear, except they’re asking “What does this ape need to be more awesome? Octopus genes!” The tower doesn’t have to be in the Summerlands, and the druid doesn’t have to be a wildren: D&D worlds are full of wizards who are over-enthusiastic about their theme. The same wizard would probably have ape-related spells, as well: “Ape Climb” and “Howl of the Silverback,” or something.

The adventures are one-page seeds, which should be enough to get started on them. These were meant to be quick-and-dirty prompts, because I wanted more than one.

Next time: The Reven: Dragon”born” of the Summerlands!

Weapons of Legend in the Summerlands

Weapons of Legend

The Summerlands started as an idea for the (now long over) June RPG Blog Carnival, hosted by Tales of a DM, and Weapons of Legend is the July Carnival, hosted by Of Dice and Dragons (what can I say – I like writing prompts).

Since the sea kin in my Summerlands setting are based (loosely) on the Mauri, it seemed appropriate to write about a pair of weapons from their stories. This is also an opportunity to play with the 5e Legacy Weapon idea that I wrote about some time ago. These two weapons use the same format, but apply it in different ways, and both of them come from the mythology of the Polynesian islands.

Continue reading

Summerlands Classes: Rage Warden Ranger Archetype

Rage Warden


The natural world teems with creatures that are serene until driven into a wild rage: the badger, the bear, the wolverine. The Rage Warden archetype allows you to manifest the fury of these creatures and channel it into the defense of your home, tribe, or clan. Your rage, however, is directed, an icy-cold, focused anger that allows you to cut down your foes with frightening precision in a flurry of motion.

Nature’s Fury

At 3rd level, you gain the ability to harness your anger in defense of your home or allies. As a bonus action, you enter a state of fury.

While in a state of fury, you gain the following benefits if you aren’t wearing heavy armor:

  • You have advantage on Dexterity checks and Dexterity saving throws.
  • When you make a melee or ranged weapon attack using Dexterity, your damage increases by 2 points. This damage increases by one additional point at 11th level, 15th level, and 20th
  • You can use the Dash action as a bonus action, and other creatures have disadvantage on opportunity attack rolls against you.

You can’t cast spells while you are in a state of fury.

Your state of fury lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are knocked unconscious or if your turn ends and you haven’t moved or taken damage since your last turn ended. You can end your fury on your turn as a bonus action.

Once you have entered a state of fury twice, you must finish a long rest before you can do so again.


Mighty Fury

At 7th level, once you have entered a state of fury three times, you must finish a long rest before you can do so again. In addition, as part of your bonus action to enter a state of fury, you may choose whether its benefits apply to Dexterity checks, saving throws, and attacks, or to Strength checks, saving throws, and attacks.

Brutal Fury

At 11th level, your state of fury becomes mightier. While in your state of fury, your weapon damage increases by 1 point, to 3 points. Once you have entered the state of fury 4 times, you must finish a long rest before you can do so again.

Additionally, dim light doesn’t impose disadvantage on your Wisdom (Perception) checks. 

Endless Fury

At 15th level, you become an unstoppable force of rage. Your state of fury only ends early if you fall unconscious or if you choose to end it.

In addition, while you are in a state of fury, every round after the first that you attack the same creature, the additional damage increases by 1 point. If you attack a different creature with an extra attack or an opportunity attack, or if you do not attack during a round, your additional damage returns to 3 points.

Hacking the Ranger

While there are no “barbarians” in the Summerlands, the feel of a mighty defender of the wild was still important to me. Meanwhile, I think that the archetype options for the ranger leave a little to be desired. This archetype owes a debt to Paizo’s Wild Stalker, cc Ultimate Combat, 2011, but is significantly evolved from that archetype.

So why not call this ability “rage?” It’s in the name of the class, after all. There are a number of reasons. 5th Edition seems to have a design philosophy of using different names as much as possible, and I wanted to emulate that, here. This is particularly true when abilities are slightly different. Nowhere in the Player’s Handbook do we see the phrasing “as the rogue ability, except…,” common in 3rd Edition books. The rage warden ranger’s fury is slightly worse than the barbarian’s rage, doing a little less damage and not protecting against attacks, so it seemed wrong to call it the same thing. Meanwhile, I wanted to emulate the focus that often comes with fury, as opposed to the barbarian’s loss of control, so I traded Strength for Dexterity. This is a white-hot fury that gives the ranger a tunnel vision, down which they can shoot terrible arrows, rather than the red-hot blinding rage of the barbarian.

At the same time, the ranger doesn’t have the barbarian’s increased movement rate, so I wanted to cause the fury to end for different reasons than rage does, while keeping the ranger mobile. At the same time, I wanted to reward the ranger for attacking, rather than punishing by ending the rage.

The rage warden fits in just about anywhere a ranger does. It doesn’t require (or lend itself strongly towards) the tribal society that produces barbarians, while still not taking away from the uniqueness of the barbarian (if you want to do a boat-load of damage with a greataxe, the barbarian is still a better choice).

In the Summerlands, rage-wardens are most common among the wildren, who are already familiar with rage and the grippli, who take advantage of the archetype’s bonuses to ranged weapon damage. They are also found in large numbers among the traditional varanus and the liberated aarakocra. Sea kin are too settled to produce many rangers, and the citiy-states of the reven and tunder don’t lend themselves to this approach (although tunder would be brutal rage wardens, with their bonus to Dexterity and preference for sniping and moving, particularly once they undergo the Ritual of Evolution and gain the ability to fly).

I don’t have a chart of the damage output, here, and I haven’t playtested this class, so I’d be curious what other people thought about it, in comparison with the barbarian (who should be a bit better) and the other ranger archetypes (which should be a little worse).

Next time: Weapons of Legend in the Summerlands!