Obsidian Portal - Tabletop RPG Campaign Notebook and Manager
Crit Academy interviews Zac Harrison, one of the staff of the fantastic website Obsidian Portal. Obsidian Portal was created by gamers, for gamers. it exists to help take the pain out of managing your tabletop RPG. They are an award-winning, anytime, anywhere campaign notebook that you can your players can build together. Their small but committed team works hard so that you can focus on the fun and creative aspects of your gaming experience and less time on bookkeeping.
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Character Concept: Name: Hubert Barbasol IV
Description: Hubert is a tall broad middle aged half orc. He keeps his graying hair in a well kept crest. He tend to wear darker clothes in case of “spills” while practicing his craft. He comes from a long line of Barbarian Barbers and Bloodletters and his appearance and upkeep is important to project his professional demeanor with his clients.
Personality: He is a consummate professional and tends to hold others to the same standards when they practice their trade. While his demeanor is both friendly and inviting, Hubert is a fierce combatant. Drawing from his heritage, his brutal assaults channel the more “visceral” practice of bloodletting that his ancestors practiced. Though his family line adapted to more civilized culture, they have always honored their roots.
History: Hubert honors his family traditions not only by continuing in his family’s trade of Barbering but by carrying the family weapon passed down from generation to generation. The almost 5 foot straight razor named Cut Throat has been used to shave, trim, scalp, and bleed anything from storm giants to field mice. The Barbasols adhere to the strict tenets of the Barbers Code of Conduct.
Motivation: Practicing and improving on his trade, and honoring his family line. He lives by the Barber’s Code of Conduct
Monster Variant: Seraph’s Fade
Origin Statblock: Ghost
Lost features: Horrifying Visage, Withering Touch, resistance to necrotic is changed to radiant
Proficiency in Performance skill +6, Persuasion +6
Blinding Visage: Each non-lawful good creature within 60 feet of the seraph that can see it must succeed on a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw or be blinded for 1 minute. If the save fails by 5 or more, the target is also revitalized with youth having its age reduced by 1d4 x 10 years. This effect cannot reduce the target's age to less than 1 years old. A blinded target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the blindied condition on itself on a success. If the target’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the target is immune to this seraph’s blinding visage for the next 24 hours. The aging effect can be reversed with a greater restoration spell, but only within 24 hours of it occurring.
Luring Song. The seraph sings a magical melody. Every humanoid and giant within 300 feet of the seraph that can hear the song must succeed on a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw or be charmed until the song ends. The seraph must take a bonus action on its subsequent turns to continue singing. It can stop singing at any time. The song ends if the seraph is incapacitated.
While charmed by the seraph, a target is incapacitated and ignores the songs of other seraphs. If the charmed target is more than 5 feet away from the seraph, the target must move on its turn toward the seraph by the most direct route, trying to get within 5 feet. It doesn’t avoid opportunity attacks, but before moving into damaging terrain, such as lava or a pit, and whenever it takes damage from a source other than the seraph,the target can repeat the saving throw. A charmed target can also repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns. If the saving throw is successful, the effect ends on it.
A target that successfully saves is immune to this seraph’s song for the next 24 hours.
Encounter: Wizard out of Time
While the characters are delving deep into a lost dungeon or a ruined wizards tower. They stumble across a sarcophagus etched with arcane runes and glyphs. A character who succeeds on a DC 19 Arcana check is able to identify some of the runes as a mixture of plane shifting runes combined with dispel enchantment and time manipulation and is sealed with the arcane lock spell. Beyond that the jumbled runes are used in a way that doesn’t make sense to them. A character with the sage background knows of a scriptorium in a major city where they can seek additional knowledge on the complex pictographs.
If the characters attempt to open the sarcophagus, provided they can dispel or overcome the arcane lock. A rush of wind and a strange smell of pine and oil rushes from sarcophagus. A short halfling with a massive white beard down to his feet stands unsteadily. “Well, that was quite a trip,” he says. “So good of you to come to my aid. Now, where, and more importantly, when am I?”
The man is Nelkin Longbeard, a halfling archmage. Nelkin is from a different time. He is affected by a disease called the Spellplague. It has broken his connection to the weave so that his magic is unpredictable. Anytime Nelkin casts a spell of 1st level or higher, he must roll a d20, on a 10 or lower he must roll on the sorcerer’s wild magic table. Nelkin can share the following information with the characters.
He suffers from an illness known as the Spellplague. His magic is unpredictable because of it and he is seeking a cure.
Nelkin wasn’t able to find such a thing in his time, so he cobbled together a very complex ritual of spells to the best of his ability to search the timeline for a cure.
Unfortunately, he is unable to completely control where or when he goes because of the Spellplague.
Something seriously went wrong in the last transportation and left him unconscious and sealed within his device.
He seeks aid from the characters in locating something that may help.
A character that succeeds on a DC 19 Arcana check can confirm the existence of magic that can make any wish come true. They know that there is little the powerful wish spell can’t do. As Game Master, you can choose when and where Nelkin comes from. Either the same world from the past or future, or a different plane of existence entirely.
Magic Item: Sandfury Bo Staff
Staff, rare (requires attunement by a monk or fighter)
Constantly warm to the touch, the staff is made from a monstrous bulette. It has been imbued with the burrowing creature's essence and enchanted to blind foes. This staff can be wielded as a magic quarterstaff that grants a +1 to attack and damage rolls made with it.
This staff has 3 charges. The staff regains 1d4 charges daily at dawn. When you hit a creature with this weapon you can use a bonus action to speak the staff’s command word. The target is caught in a swirling twister of dust and sand. The creature must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be blinded for 1 minute. At the end of each of its turns, the target can make a Constitution saving throw. On a success, the effect ends.
Dungeon Master Tip: Running Adventures in the Shadowfell
The Shadowfell is a bleak realm that houses both the dead and those among the living who have embraced a dismal existence there. Represented as a shadowy reflection of the world, it can manifest in slightly different ways to visitors.
When running a game that is set in Shadowfell, it’s important to convey an atmosphere of terror, isolation, and dread. The DMG gives us a cool mechanic called the Shadowfell Despair that really helps this along by forcing a character to make saves against the effects of despair the character experiences. This places new flaws on the character such as “I can’t tell what’s real anymore.”
If you want to set the mood for the players there are a number of different things you can do to the table setting to help with this. Changing the location where you play is a great start. If possible, play outside during nightfall by candle or torchlight. If you can’t, dim the lights and play brooding or unsettling music in the background. Halloween soundtracks are great for this.
During the game, batter the player’s nerves with ambushes, surprises, and sudden twists. This will keep them off balance. To top it off, adding illusions, traps or hazards that just suddenly appear after a character had already passed through the area that contained it. Instead catching the character at the back of the marching order.
The last detail that can truly change the experience is the passage of time. In the Shadowfell, creatures generally perceive time differently from their home plane. They don’t use the rising and setting of the sun, but instead the gloom that fills a creature's mind. This becomes worse as they delve deeper into depression. What may seem like years may only be a few minutes, or a few days may be years on their plane
Player Tip: Don’t be a Dick: Ally Arrow!
The polymorph spell is one of the most iconic spells in D&D. Being able to transform an ally into a raging monstrous beast such as a dinosaur is pretty commonplace. But, did you know you could use polymorph to easily get an ally behind enemy lines, or help them close the gap between them and the enemy within seconds?
Well, you’re in luck, cause you can. Using the polymorph spell to turn an ally, such as a barbarian or fighter into a spider. Once in this form, the polymorphed party member, who is now a spider, climbs onto a party member's arrow. The party member can then launch the polymorphed spider member a great distance, or directly at an enemy. Once they land, they will change back into their normal form. Either behind enemy lines, or right alongside an enemy who thought they were a safe distance away. Surprise!
If you really want to take it up a notch, you also transform with anything you’re holding. Let the barbarian get a nice good grip on a giant boulder. Then listen to the sound of crunching bones under stone.
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