Nightmares Revisited


Some time ago I made a first attempt to make a summoner for 5e. As I playtested it, many design mistakes were noticed (starting with the fact that it was a prestige class). Xanathar’s Guide to Everything came last late last year, and with it two spells I could use to twist: Summon Lesser Demon and Summon Greater Demon. Given this month’s RPG Blog Carnival theme “What scares you?” by the guys from Reckoning of the Dead, I decided to give it a new try. Without further ado, here we go again: the Dementia Invoker. If you don’t know them, you can check this article first.

New spell: Summon Nightmare

As I just mentioned, one of the new spells that “Xanathar’s…” brought us requires just a little reflavoring and fixing in order to work with the creatures that come from our most terrorific dreams.

Summon Nightmare

4th-level conjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (some remains from a slain creature)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 hour

You summon horrific creatures from your own twisted memories of creatures you have slain before and kept in your Dementia space. You choose the creature, which must be a beast or monstrosity of challenge rating 4 or lower, such as a lion or a displacer beast. Choose one nightmarish aspect for the creature that appears (use proper creature’s statistics as modified by this). The creature appears in an unoccupied space you can see within range, and it disappears when it drops to 0 hit points or when the spell ends.

Roll initiative for the creature, which has its own turns. When you summon it and on each of your turns thereafter, you can issue a verbal command to it (requiring no action on your part), telling it what it must do for its next turn. If you issue no command, it spends its turn attacking any creature within reach that has attacked it.

At the end of each of the creature’s turns, it makes a Charisma saving throw with advantage. On a failed save, the creature is friendly to you. On a successful save, your control of it ends for the rest of the duration, and the creature spends its turns pursuing and attacking the nearest living creatures to the best of its ability. If you stop concentrating on the spell before it reaches its full duration, an uncontrolled creature doesn’t disappear for 1d6 rounds if it still has hit points.

As a part of casting the spell, you can burn the remains used as material component in your incense burner. While the spell lasts, the summoned creature has disadvantage on its saving throws instead. Using the material component in this manner consumes it when the spell ends.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, the challenge rating increases by 1 for each slot level above 4th. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 6th level or higher, you can choose an additional nightmarish aspect. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 9th level, you can choose two additional nightmarish aspects.

Nightmarish Aspects

You can apply these features to the creature summoned by this spell when using a spell slot of the level indicated in parenthesis.

  • Brawn (4th): The nightmare does an additional +1 point of bludgeoning damage on a successful melee attack. (Multiple selections stack)
  • Claws (4th): The nightmare has razor sharp claws. Damage from these claw attacks is 1d8 + Strength modifier. The claw attacks are considered slashing or piercing weapons. The type is chosen when the nightmare is summoned. (If the nightmare has the extra arms ability, this ability must be chosen twice to affect both sets of arms.)
  • Spiked Armor (4th): The nightmare’s body is covered in spikes. The spikes allow the nightmare to deal 1d6 points of piercing damage with a movement that ends adjacent to an enemy.
  • Dementia Regeneration (5th): The nightmare heals 2 hit points each round so long as it has at least 1 hit point.
  • Natural Armor (5th): The nightmare’s surface forms hard, armor-like plates. The nightmare’s base AC is 12 + Dexterity bonus.
  • Energy Touch (6th): The nightmare’s physical attacks do 1d4 points of energy damage (acid, cold, fire, lightning) in addition to their standard damage. The type of energy is chosen when the nightmare is summoned. (Multiple selections stack and may be of different energy types. You cannot select this ability more than 3 times)
  • Extra Arms (6th): The nightmare has an additional set of arms and can make an additional attack with an attack bonus equal to its highest attack bonus -2. This ability cannot be chosen more than once.
  • Improved Fly (6th): The nightmare has physical wings (12-foot wingspan) and a flying speed of 120 feet.
  • Improved Swim (6th): nightmare becomes streamlined and shark-like with a large (8-foot-wide) tail. Its speed is 120 feet.
  • Poison Touch (7th): The nightmare is covered in a shimmering purple liquid. If the nightmare hits with a melee attack, the target must make an initial Constitution save (using your spellcasting DC) or take 2d6 points of poison damage.
  • Reach (7th): The nightmare’s arms elongate, which increases its reach by 5 feet. (If the nightmare has the extra arms ability, this ability must be chosen twice to affect both sets of arms.)
  • Tough (7th): The nightmare receives 20 extra hit points.
  • Hardened Carapace (7th): The nightmare’s surface forms hard, armor-like plates. The nightmare gains bludgeoning, slashing or piercing resistance. The type of resistance is chosen when the nightmare is summoned.
  • Rend (9th): A nightmare that hits with its claw attack does an additional 2d6 + its Strength modifier points of damage. (It must also have the claws ability; see entry above.)
  • Tail Slap (9th): The nightmare has a tail and gains one additional slam attack with an attack bonus equal to its highest attack bonus -2, and it deals damage of 2d8 + its Strength modifier (A nightmare cannot have a tail if it has extra arms.)
  • Tougher (9th): The nightmare receives 40 extra hit points.
  • Heavy Armor (9th): The nightmare’s base AC is 15 + Dexterity bonus.

Now that we have the creatures, we need a specialized wizard, and since we’re discarding the idea of treating it as a prestige class, the obvious way is an Arcane Tradition. We’ll call it “Dementia Summoning”.

New Tradition: Dementia Summoning

When you reach 2nd level, you choose an arcane tradition, shaping your practice of magic through one of several schools. Ask your DM to allow you to choose “Dementia Summoningg”, which as any other arcane tradition grants you features at 2nd level and again at 6th, 10th, and 14th level.

Dementia Magic

Dementia Invokers twist their memories on creatures they have slayed in order to summon them as mockeries of the original versions. Dementia space is the term used for where a dementist keeps the monsters they create. Each person’s Dementia Space is different from everyone else’s, although they tend to have the same look or feel to it. In order to become a Dementia Invoker, one must have total control over the monsters in their Dementia Space. These monsters resemble all creatures a Dementist once killed. Dementia Casters are able to drain real creatures into their space. These creatures have minds of their former self and act so, but they’re nothing more than just memory.

At 2nd level, the Dementia Magic ability gives you access to the Summon Nightmare spell and subjects you to the Sanity rules as they appear in the DungeonMaster’s Guide.

Persistent Nightmares

Also at 2nd level, when casting Summon Nightmare, its duration may last a full extra round after you stopped concentrating on it for each nightmarish aspect it has.

Lucid Manipulation

Starting at 6th level, when casting Summon Nightmare, you can apply an extra nightmarish aspect to the creature summoned.

Folie a Deux

Starting at 10th level, when casting Summon Nightmare, you can cast spells with range of “Self” centered in the summoned creature. Casting a spell in this way doesn’t break your concentration.

True Horror

From 14th level, when casting Summon Nightmare, you can use a bonus action to cast Phantasmal Killer with the creature summoned as its origin. Casting this spell in this way increases your spellcasting DC in 2.


And that’s it, my new approach to the Dementia Invoker. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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