D is for Dominaria

This article is part of a series for both the April 2020 RPG Blog Carnival and the 2020 Blogging A to Z Challenge.

Dominaria

Dominaria is a world with a deep and difficult history. Primordial dragons clashed here. Planeswalkers fought cataclysmic duels. Disasters of magic, artifice and nature were unleashed upon the world. The dreaded Phyrexians launched a full-scale invasion. A warmongering false god shook the world. Finally, the fabric of reality itself unraveled and tore. One after another, these ctastrophes and more took their toll, until Dominaria stood on the brink of destruction. Sixty years ago, Dominaria was a post-apocalyptic nightmare world on the brink of collapse.

Then came the Mending. The heroic sacrifices of multiple Planeswalkers healed the damage that had been done to the plane. Vitality flowed back into the land, which recovered with supernatural speed. Ecologies, communities and nations were restored within decades. Towns were rebuilt and trade routes reestablished. Today Dominaria bursts with life, recovering in every front, as its people reclaim their world and their history.

Crater lakes, overgrown war machines, and inscrutable structures abound, but these reminders are more landscapes than objects. Every patch of ground seems to mark an ancient struggle, a forgotten ruin, or an ancestor’s grave. Dominarians approach this history in different ways. Some strive to achieve the heights of the heroes who came before them. Some study its successes and hope to avoid repeating its catastrophic failures. And some seek to harness the destructive forces and tragic legacies of the world’s history for their own ends.

The seven pillars of Benalia, the Church of Serra, the Tolarian Academies, the Merfolk of Vodalia, Belzenlok’s Cabal, the warhosts of Keld and the Elves of Llanowar are all covered for Dungeons & Dragons in Plane Shift: Dominaria.

“Gather legends.”

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For your campaign: Artifact Spells

First introduced in the Eberron sourcebook “Secrets of Xen’drik”, these incredibly powerful spells represent a pinnacle of power not seen since the time of the giants. Yet traces of these artifact spells remain, scribed on ancient stone walls and mentioned in forgotten tales. Only recently have modern spellcasters begun to understand the full meaning of these ancient formulas and even taken the first steps toward recreating these powers.

s3_image (10)Anyone capable of casting a spell of the proper level can learn to cast an artifact spell. Although artifact spells must be studied like any other, they are too complex and difficult to fully comprehend, and so they cannot be added to a caster’s normal repertoire. Those who study one of these spells gain the ability to prepare or spontaneously cast the spell only once. A spellcaster must study the appropriate runes and formulas for a period time and succeed on an Arcana check, both the time and the DC are indicated in the spell entry. If the time is listed in days, it implies 8 hours of study each day. A failed check can be repeated once in 24 hours. If failed again, the whole study process must be started again.

Once an artifact spell has been learned, a character can cast the spell once during the next year. If it is not cast within one year, the spell fades and is lost. This artifact spell doesn’t need to be prepared and it doesn’t count against the known spells a character can have. Artifact spells never have a material component or focus, but they can be channeled through an artifact, which will be listed in the Components entry. An artifact spell cannot be made into a potion, scroll, or any other magic item.

A caster cannot possess the ability to cast a given artifact spell more than once, although once cast (or if lost after a year has passed), the spell can be renewed if the ancient source is studied again. Artifact spells are always scribed on some large, immovable object, such as an immense stone wall, or inscribed on the facets of a towering crystal pillar. As such, they cannot be transported and are far too complex to translate into written form or copy as rubbings. Those wishing to learn an artifact spell must travel to its ancient resting place and learn from the source

Only a small number of artifact spells have thus far been discovered within the depths of Xen’drik. If you wish to use artifact spells in a campaign set outside of Eberron, similar magic might be attributed to any ancient race known for their magical mastery. For example, in the Forgotten Realms, artifact spells might be relics of Netheril or the cruel phaerimm, while in Greyhawk, such magic might have been used by the Suel and Baklunish empires during the time of the Twin Cataclysms. The following spell is an example inspired by one of Dominaria’s legendary sorceries: Urza’s Ruinous Blast, which ended the Brothers’ War and ushered in Dominaria’s Ice Age.

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Urza’s Ruinous Blast

  • 9th level evocation
  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Range: 120ft
  • Components: V, S (Golgothian Sylex)
  • Duration: Concentration, up to 10 rounds.
  • Study: 1d6 days, DC 21

Waves of force demolish the surface above and smash the tectonic plate below as everything is set alight on a cataclysmic plasma of fire. The expansive blast expands 60 feet beyond its original range each round you keep concentration up to 10 rounds. Each creature inside the blast must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 20d6 fire damage and 20d6 force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Each round after the first, this amount is reduced by two each: for example, if a creature is caught in the blast in the third round, the damage is 14d6 of each fire and force on a failed save.

The spell damages objects in the area and ignites flammable objects that aren’t being worn or carried.

Focus: If the Golgothian Sylex is held and its inscription read when casting this spell, the damage is not reduced on its expansions, keeping its value of 20d6 each fire and force on a failed save and it expands 120 feet each round. It also destroys objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried.

“Wipe the land clear. Bring the ending. Topple the empires to bring a fresh start. Call the end, fill with memories of the land.”

 


From a DM point of view, Artifact Spells are a tool to give your players use-only-once tools as a means to achieve success. Have you ever used a 9th-level spell and thought “I can do better than this”? Have fun creating some of these new spells and tell us how did they go in the comments below.

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