Benebads: Big Bad Benefactors for Dungeons & Dragons
Benefactors come in all shapes and sizes and everyone can use a helping hand once in a while. Sometimes, however, relationships with a patron, employer, or other types of benefactor can become strained. Or worse.
Detailed in this work are entities who can offer benefits to a party of adventurers in the short or long term, but who can also transform into a formidable villain, providing conflict, intrigue, and excitement for any type of campaign.
Each “BeneBad” has a detailed history and description, a full-page piece of art, a secret agenda, group patron perks, known associates, and a list of quests and other adventure seeds to get your creative juices flowing. Many offer maps of their stronghold or lair from which they operate as well as ways to fit them into your particular campaign world and alternative motivations for their behavior.
A Living Document
BeneBads is designed as a “living document,” meaning that more content will be added as time goes on. Approximately once every 6-8 weeks (at least six times) until the end of 2022, we’ll be adding a new, fully fleshed-out BeneBad to the book and increasing the price accordingly. Everyone who has already purchased the book, however, gets these new BeneBads at no additional cost! So, jump in early and join the ride!
On the show, we discuss Lady Ronwyn Dearborn.
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Character Concept: Mialee Menethrin, Female Human
Description: This tall, athletic, northern woman wears silk and lounges about seductively. Her clothes are kept pristine and fit tightly to her frame. Her unique dark green hair is colored with dye made from plant oil to accent her emerald eyes. Her eyes reveal a passion and liveliness under the seduction.
Personality: Mialee is the type to enjoy getting a rise out of people. She believes that the primal urges all creatures feel is the most effective way to control and manipulate them. Her seductiveness hides her more controlling nature. She will make even kings beg for her attention, like a dog. While at the same time beating them down with both words and fists.
History: Her home was attacked by brutal bandits. They slew any and all they could find. With the help of her parents, she was able to hide until the attack was over and her village burned around her. Taken in by a madam, she was trained in the arts of pleasure and intrigue.
Motivation: Mialee seeks to build a business out of information exchange, becoming an information broker of the highest quality. Doing so will require her to travel, build up followers and pass on the skills she has learned to squeeze information out of any who can fall under her lusty spell.
Monster Variant: Arcforge Sentry
Lost Features: False Appearance, bite, claws, fly
Skills Athletics +4, Perception +2
Damage Immunities poison
Damage Vulnerability lightning
Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralzed, poisoned
Senses blindsight 10 ft., darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
Antimagic Susceptibility. The arcforge is incapacitated while in the area of an antimagic field. If targeted by dispel magic, the arcforge must succeed on a Constitution saving throw against the caster’s spell save DC or fall unconscious for 1 minute.
Death Burst. When the arcforge dies, it explodes in a burst of crackling arcane energy. Each creature within 10 feet of it must succeed on a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw, taking 18 (4d8) lightning damage and can’t take reaction until the start of its next turn on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
Arcblade. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 5 (1d6 +2) slashing damage plus 2 (1d4) lightning damage.
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 13 (2d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.
Arc Lightning (Recharge 6). The arcforge releases a chaotic bolt of lightning that arcs toward a target it can see within 60 feet. Three bolts then leap from that target to as many as three other targets, each of which must be within 30 feet of the first target. A target can be a creature or an object and can be targeted by only one of the bolts.
A target must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw. The target takes 18 (4d8) lightning damage and can’t take reactions until the start of its next turn on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
Shield Counter. When an attack misses the arcforge due to the +2 bonus to AC granted by its shield, it can use its reaction to make a slam attack.
Encounter: The Rites of Ascension
While the characters wander around a noble's study or perhaps a warlock’s chambers, they stumble across a thick, leather-bound tome that reeks faintly of alchemical mixtures. Written along its binding is the title “The Rites of Ascension”. Spider web-like script written in a primitive dialect of abyssal. A character who spends a short or long rest reading the book learns that it provides a step-by-step process by which a mortal may form a pact with the purest of evil and transform themselves into a fiend.
Magic Item: Aegis of Solitude (Benebad)
Weapon (longsword) and armor (plate), artifact (requires attunement)
Random Properties. The sword (Singularity) and the armor (Purpose) each confer the following random properties:
1 minor beneficial property
They also nurture a sense that you see the world more clearly than others and have the ability to fix problems no one else seems to.
Properties of Singularity (longsword). The weapon by itself serves as a +2 longsword of sharpness. Its blade is a gleaming silver with the handle and pommel sporting an intricate emerald and gold filigree.
Properties of Purpose (plate armor). The armor by itself serves +2 plate of invulnerability. The same emerald and gold filigree as Singularity has adorns this beautiful armor.
Properties of the Aegis of Solitude. When both pieces are worn, the emerald and gold become like obsidian, and Singularity’s blade looks as though it could swallow all light. Irresistible darkness also consumes your being.
You are convinced you are the only person in the world with the knowledge and ability to rule and anyone who stands in your way is a fool. You also gain the following random properties:
1 major beneficial property
2 minor detrimental properties
1 major detrimental property
In addition, the aegis grants the following:
Your Strength becomes 20, unless it is already 20 or higher.
Any melee attack you make with Singularity deals an extra 3d8 necrotic damage on a hit.
As a bonus action on your turn, you can invoke Singularity to reverse gravity, as per the spell, but the center of gravity becomes the sword itself. You are unaffected, but everything else is drawn to the sword and it acts as a sphere of annihilation for 10 minutes or until you use a bonus action to cancel the effect or become incapacitated.
Destroying the Aegis of Solitude. Both pieces must be completely submerged in holy water while in one of the planes of the Abyss. The items then become mundane longsword and plate armor.
Dungeon Master Tip: A World of Books
In a world of fantasy books are one of the primary ways information is stored and passed on. In D&D books represent doorways into the politics, creatures, lands and even fanciful entertainment of that world. They can entice the imagination and delight the senses. They can and should be more than just dungeon dressing.
When the characters stumble into a library, a dusty study, or the bookshelf of a villainous noble’s chamber and find a volume, they are likely to overlook it. Simply providing a name to a book can toss the player and their character into a quick world of imagination. This is a great way to short bits and pieces of the world around them without the need for great detail. A simple title is all it takes. Just the act of giving a title to a book will spur the character to spend a few minutes skimming through it to gain an understanding of its contents. For example, a book titled “Chult Cuisine” makes it pretty obvious what it contains. A character who spends a few minutes browsing might learn of a delicacy known as chuul claws. A character who is interested in this might then ask about where to get them and seek them out.
While these aren’t going to hook every player. The characters who love lore and exploration pillars will gobble them up. If they choose to pick them up, maybe they can seek out a particular buyer that can earn them a little bit of extra gold even if they aren’t interested in the cuisine. A merchant character may be able to price the book at 3 gold pieces at most shops. But, if they find a chef looking to purchase, they may be able to more than triple it to 10 gold. In either case, consider giving books in your dungeon dressing names that can be used to flesh out character and player knowledge of the world.
Player Tip: A Hero and Their Steed
The find steed 2nd level spell allows a character to summon a spirit that issues the form of an unusually intelligent, strong, and loyal steed, creating a long-lasting bond with it. The steed takes the form of the character's choice: a warhorse, a pony, a camel, etc.
The steed serves in combat and as a mount. Oh, and also, it can understand a language you speak and can telepathy for 1 mile. This is fantastic. But there is more we can do, that for some reason, is often overlooked.
While mounted, you can make any spell cast that turrets only you also target your steed. This is HUGE! Are you and your steed hurting? Cure wounds both at the same time. Concerned for a tough battle? Death Ward!
Sure, this spell is only on the Paladin spell list, but if we’re a lore bard, the options become sooo much better.
Disguise Self. You can make you and your steed look like flaming skeletal riders and terrify those around you.
Enhance Ability. Grant you and your steed temporary hit points advantage on strength checks and so much more.
Water Breathing. Grant your steed the ability to breathe underwater, pretty much allowing you to turn it into a seahorse.
Mirror Image. You turn into a small squad of mounted warriors.
The possibilities are endless. With a lore bard, you can pick and choose spells to best fit you and your companions' needs.
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