31 October 2020

Halloween Adventure/One Shot

Are you looking for a spooky/eerie one-shot, to run this Halloween? Well. I have something interesting for you. This is not your usual one shot, and is designed to push your players into experiencing a story in ways they (hopefully) won’t have done previously. The techniques employed in this adventure are actually straight from the repertoire of magicians, mentalists, and séance workers...

A Little Background

Outside of being a DM, I have a few other interests. Until The Event™, I was working as a full time, professional magician (and magic teacher). Unfortunately, the virus put that career path on hold (don’t feel bad for me though, I’m now working in a great place, and really enjoying myself). That doesn’t mean I don’t still perform, and it certainly doesn’t mean I’m not still thinking of new ways to put my skills to use. For a long while, I have wanted to combine my love of D&D and my love of performing magic together in a meaningful way (card tricks don’t really fit in the setting, I find).

In this adventure, I will be teaching you (fellow DM) a couple of techniques to create a truly magical atmosphere at your sessions, as well as giving you a fully written horror/Halloween themed adventure to employ them in. The techniques taught here have been around for a long time, with one dating back to séance workers in the 1800’s, and should bring an incredible element of mystery/unease to the table.

The Techniques

The first technique I will be teaching you is a very old idea. It is believed that ‘mediums’ in the 1800’s used it in seances to trick their audiences into believing they were possessing of some otherworldly power. Simply put, it is a way of producing a scent for your players to smell, without your hands ever leaving their sight. Mediums would often produce the scent of lavender (or other similar flower) whilst sat around with hands linked, when trying to communicate with the spirit of an elderly female relative. Most of the time, the audience would associate the scent with their dearly deceased grandmother, and immediately believe her “presence” to be in the room with them.

24 October 2020

Elemental Motes

Elemental Motes are tiny elemental spirits, which are bound to a specific location and elemental source. Often created by powerful spellcasters, Motes are bound to protect whatever source of elemental energy (water, earth, fire or air) that they were created from, and return to that element when they die.

Elemental motes are unable to travel more than 50 feet from their source, and are supernaturally tethered to that location. Even if an elemental mote is killed, it will re-emerge from its original source 7 days later, alive and well, resuming its protection of that area.

Elemental Motes cannot be summoned through the “Conjure Minor Elementals” spell, or any way other than the spell Create Elemental Motes, which can be cast by Druids, Sorcerers and Wizards. Traditionally, druids tend more towards Earth and Water Motes, whilst Wizards and Sorcerers prefer Fire and Air Motes (though all three can create all types).

Create Elemental Motes

4th level conjuration (ritual)

Casting time: 1 hour

Range: Touch

Components: V S M (a small glass vial containing the element intended to create, a gemstone related to the element (water: sapphire, fire: ruby, air: diamond, earth: onyx) worth at least 400 gold, which the spell consumes)

Classes: Druid, Sorcerer, Wizard

You touch an elemental source, or something connected to an elemental source (eg. a torch for fire), and focus your energy into it. As you do, the innate energy trapped in that element coalesces into an elemental being, bound to the location. You can treat up to a 10 ft.2 (up to a depth of 5 ft.2) area when you cast this spell, and the amount of area you are focussing on determines the number of Motes you can bind. You can bind 1 mote per 5 ft.2, up to a maximum of 4 Motes (at 4th level). These Motes are bound to the elemental source, and area, they were created from, and can move no further than 50 feet from this point ever. They will protect the area with their lives, and will fight any creature not regarded as friendly by their creator should it come near.

The elemental source that a Mote is created from can not be moved by any means, and doing so would destroy the Motes bound to that location.

At higher levels:

When you cast this with a spell slot of 5th level or higher, you can increase the area treated by 5ft.2 per level of the spell above 4th.

17 October 2020

Twin Rocks Battlemap

This week, instead of posting a map with 8 random/unconnected potential combats, I thought I would write them with a common theme. For this battlemap, you will receive 2 encounters, each scaled for a number of different level groups, and with different enemies depending on the level of your players.

The Map

The map this week is a 30x30 square map, designed to be used as a section along a road. The map itself contains a small wooded area, two large rock formations (connected by a bridge), a campsite, and a road leading between the east and west sides. When designing this map, I wanted to play on a number of different terrain options, including giving players multiple levels of ground, areas of cover/half cover, and a few ways of interacting with the terrain outside of typical combat.

I will discuss the different areas of the map, and how they can be used to their fullest, on the next page.

The Rocks

The central focus of this map are the two rocky formations that make up the main body of the design. Each rock is a different height to the other, and both have a sheer rocky wall up their sides. The intention with these is that they are possible to climb, but not easy.

The leftmost rock (with the ladder up the southeast wall) is the shorter of the two, standing at one 15 ft. high above ground level, whilst the rightmost rock is 25 ft. tall. Both are considered difficult terrain to climb, and require a skill check to do so. Depending on the level of your party, I would recommend setting the DC’s of these skill checks at different difficulties (and will suggest these below, later).Given the height/size of these rocks, it is up to individual DM’s discretion as to whether or not creatures on top of them receive the benefits of half/three-quarters cover from different angles.

14 October 2020

Terrain Actions: Plains

Now, I love combat encounters in D&D 5e. I actively enjoy running fights (in moderation) in my games. Even if it can sometimes take 20 minutes to get through 6 agonising seconds of actual fighting, it is an integral part of the game, and one a lot of players/DM’s enjoy. Sometimes, however, they can fall flat.

Say you have an amazing monster for the party to battle, but it’s by itself, and doesn’t have legendary actions. Say it’s also not in its lair. What do you do? Let the party wail on it 4/5 times for every singly turn it gets, and not fight back? No! This is where using terrain actions comes into it!

A Terrain action is like a lair action in 5e, but can happen anywhere in the world! Rather than the monster getting a special bonus move, created by being on its home turf, the environment itself actually becomes an integral part of the battle. The bulette, digging holes through the ground, is a threat, but what about its tunnels? Surely some of them will be close to the surface? Surely some of them will collapse, if under stress? This is exactly what I included in my Bulette Ambush encounter, in my Waterfall Battlemap post.

I like to use Terrain Actions in a lot of my combats, as I feel they add an extra layer to the gameplay. I treat terrain actions as a separate action each round of combat, occurring (normally) on initiative count 20 (losing any ties). When using them, be sure to do so sparingly, however, as they can bog down the game if used all the time, and could become predictable. You want to use them as a nice surprise to keep your players on their toes.

In the following list (and in other lists, coming in the next few weeks), I hope to provide you with a selection of different terrain actions you can include in your games! These will each be aimed specifically for certain regions and areas within the game world, like this one, being designed for:

13 October 2020

Snowy Woods Battlemap

Due to personal time constraints, and the move happening in full this week, no new adventure again… Thankfully, people really seemed to like the format for last week’s free resource, in which I put out a battlemap with 8 random encounters. In keeping with the format (and given that it takes considerably less time to create/write them), I have done the same again! This week, I have created a snowy backdrop for winter/tundra themed settings (that can still work in most (if not all) games).

The Map

The map itself is a snow covered woods. In the top right of the map, you will see a small hut, complete with an outside fireplace, and storage. To the bottom left, there is a frozen pond, surrounded by a rim of rocks/boulders. The map was designed to be a slight hill, with the “cliff” edges representing the steeper sections of incline, and the house at the top (but obviously, this 100% depends on how you want to use the map). The provided encounters should be fine for the levels stated, but they are by no means the only use for this map. If you like the encounter, then brilliant! If you just like the map? Also 100% fine! You can run any encounter for winter/snowy/tundra settings on this battlemap.

12 October 2020

Make-Up Week

 No new adventure last Saturday… This was entirely due to the move taking up more of my time/life than I had hoped. Thankfully, we're all settled in now, and I have had a chance to get back to it. The Map + Encounters I had been planning for last Saturday (the 10th) will instead be getting put up tomorrow (the 13th), and I will hopefully have another ready for this weekend as well. Until then, thank you for keeping up with my work, and I hope you enjoy the next few posts!

03 October 2020

Waterfall Battlemap

Unlike my usual weekly adventures, this is more of a resource for DM’s, GM’s and everyone else who run games. Instead of a full adventure, this week you will get a square map, designed for anyone to use in their games, and 8 different battle encounter suggestions. Each encounter will be unique from the other 7, and there will be two encounters for each level bracket (1-3, 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12).

The Map

The map for this week's resource is designed to be usable in many different situations. It is a square map (25x25 squares in the gridded version, but if you use the un-gridded, whatever dimensions you wish), built for encounters in a number of different situations. This weeks map is a waterfall scene, on the edge of a woodland/forest, with a sheer cliff and a broken campsite. If your party are travelling between locations, and you want a quick encounter map for; cliffside, woodland, forest edge, campsite, river or road, then this could easily fit into your game.

If you have a battle you would like to run, then this map should be a good fit for the above settings, but if you don’t know what to run, then have a look through the below suggestions. I have included 8 different combat encounters, designed for parties of different levels, to fit the map provided.

Daytime Battlemap

01 October 2020


 I'm very sorry to say it, but there won't be a free adventure this week, due to unexpected issues arising in my personal life/at work. Due to these issues, I have not had time to sit down and create a full adventure. Thankfully, I have found a little time to make a battlemap, as well as a list of possible combat encounters for all (most) party levels! This week won't be even close to the usual level of detail found in my Free Adventures, but it will hopefully be a great resource for DM's, GM's and everyone else to use in their games as/when. I hope to release a few of this style of Map + Encounters whenever I find myself unable to dedicate a proper amount of time to a full adventure in a week.