June 14, 2011

Blade of the Feywild Thunderdome

A player in my home campaign was bringing a new character into the group, his previous character having died in the deadly halls of The Iron Lich. He wanted to play an Elven Avenger, out for vengeance against the wretched defilers who had desecrated the resting place of his ancestors via the Garden of Graves in the 4E Tomb of Horrors. As per our campaign House Rules, the player was allowed to start his character with a powerful magic item, however it had to be carefully crafted by both himself and the Dungeon Master. The item needed to be beneficial, but also have drawbacks or hindrances that must be overcome by its user. The player wanted to emphasize the Avenger theme of a duel to the death, and really enjoyed the mechanics behind Adventurers Vault 2’s arcane immurements, the magic “snow globes” that trap people in them. With this in mind, we crafted the Blade of the Feywild Thunderdome. The magic sword whisks the wielder and his opponent away to a secluded battle arena, where they must fight to the death. This suits the Avenger theme perfectly by completely isolating the Avenger’s target. It is also very dangerous, however, as a few bad rolls or crit’ing a Solo or Elite enemy can quickly spell disaster.

Blade of the Feywild Thunderdome
Level 5+ Rare Magic Item
A blade forged from shining steel blessed by the protecting spirits of the Feywild, it calls for all disputes to be settled in the old ways. Two men enter, one man leaves.

Lvl 5       +1           1,000 gp
Lvl 10     +2           5,000 gp
Lvl 15     +3           25,000 gp
Lvl 20     +4           125,000 gp
Lvl 25     +5           625,000 gp
Lvl 30     +6           3,125,000 gp

Behind the Scenes: I typically ignore enhancement bonuses and use the inherent system. For this post, however, I’ve formatted the Blade to be more in line with standard practices.

Weapon: Heavy blade
Enhancement: Attack rolls and damage rolls
Critical: +1d8 damage per plus

Property: Whenever you score a critical hit with this weapon, you and the target of the critical hit are teleported to a pocket dimension called the Feywild Thunderdome.  If either you or the target are dropped to 0 hit points or fewer, both you and the target are immediately returned to the nearest unoccupied square of the respective squares that you occupied. If you are already in the Feywild Thunderdome, you are not teleported, but the season of the battleground changes.

Behind the Scenes: This last ability was made a Property instead of a triggered power to occasionally force the character into some bad situations, activating this ability in suboptimal conditions. This is part of the challenge of being a hero; dealing with the hand you’re dealt and persevering in the face of adversity.

The Feywild Thunderdome
The Feywild Thunderdome is an 8 square by 8 square area with two trees of impassible terrain, as indicated. Creatures teleported into this pocket dimension must maintain the number of squares away from each other they are, however the wielder of the Blade of the Feywild Thunderdome determines which square it is teleported into. When a creature is teleported to the Feywild Thunderdome, roll a d4 and consult the table below to determine the active season in the Feywild Thunderdome.

d4           Season                                
1              Winter
2              Spring
3              Summer
4              Autumn

Behind the Scenes: The area you want to use here needs to have ease of use as a priority. You don’t want to get bogged down by shuffling around for a precise map, or drawing out something overly specific just for this effect. I tend to use an 8x8 wilderness dungeon tile that has at least one tree, bush, or bit of foliage on it for the spring ‘hungry vines’ power.
Thematically, a Fey magic item tied to the changing four seasons was too much to be ignored. With the Fey, it’s either that or butterflies.


A howling blizzard rages on, at times blotting out the frozen landscape.  The icy winds chill you to your bones.

Freezing Cold (cold) + Trait
Each creature ending its turn in the Feywild Thunderdome takes 10 cold damage per tier.

Behind the Scenes: The auto damage effects of the seasons needed to have a little bite, hence 10 damage per tier, and in some cases dual typed damage to negate resistances. I wanted to make sure that the Avenger character wielding this blade wouldn’t be taken away from the group for too long. The higher the auto damage, the faster that one of the combatants drops and both get spit back into the encounter proper.

Whiteout Blizzard + Trait
Non-adjacent targets benefit have concealment from each other.

Slippery Footing + Trait
The distances of all forced movement effects (push, pull, slide) are increased by 1 square.  Creatures that suffer from forced movement must succeed on a saving throw at the end of the forced movement or be knocked prone.

Behind the Scenes: ‘Slippery Footing’ is taken from the well-done adventure Kalarel’s Revenge, which was the preview/intro to the Heroes of Shadow classes this past March.

A powerful thunderstorm unleashes a torrential downpour.  In the periodic flashes of lightning, you catch glimpses of lush growth writhing and shifting around you.

Thunderstorm (thunder, lightning) + Trait
Each creature ending its turn in the Feywild Thunderdome takes 10 lightning and thunder damage per tier.

Hungry Vines + At-Will (1/round)
Attack (No Action): Melee 1 (one creature adjacent to a tree); Item Level + 3 vs. Reflex.

Hit:  The target is Restrained until it escapes (escape DC 15 + one-half Item Level). Creatures starting their turn restrained in this way take 10 poison damage per tier.

A crushing heat wave has blanketed the land.  You can hear the voice of the Feywild, crying out in pain.

Blazing Sun (fire, radiant) + Trait
Each creature ending its turn in the Feywild Thunderdome takes 10 fire and radiant damage per tier.

c Allure of the Feywild  + At-Will (1/round)
Attack (No Action): Close blast 20 (one creature in blast); Item Level + 3 vs. Will
Hit: The target is dazed (save ends).
Each Failed Saving Throw: The target takes 10 psychic damage per tier.

A rotting stench of decomposing plants fills the cold air.  You can feel the life being sucked out of you, drawn to the earth to feed future generations of Fey growth.  An ominous fog slowly rolls its way towards you.

Rot & Decay (necrotic) + Trait
Each creature ending its turn in the Feywild Thunderdome takes 10 necrotic damage per tier.

Rolling Fog + Trait
Fog starts at one end of the Feywild Thunderdome, chosen by the Dungeon Master, filling up 2 full rows of squares.  At the start of each of your turns, the fog extends an additional row.  Creatures benefit from total concealment while in the fog.

a Wall of Razor Leaves  + At-Will
You kick up a cloud of swirling silver leaves that form a wall of razor-sharp death.
Standard Action
wall 3 within 1 square
Effect: You create a wall of razor leaves in the area.  The wall is 2 squares high and difficult terrain.  Creatures starting their turn in the wall or moving into the wall take 2d8 damage per tier and 5 ongoing damage (save ends) per tier.  The wall lasts until the end of the encounter.

Common Terrain Powers
Creatures in the Feywild Thunderdome have access to the following terrain powers during any season.

Behind the Scenes: In a one-on-one fight, I wanted to make sure that the combatants had interesting things to do with their Move actions, and I wanted to give them a reason to move about the battlefield and make the fight dynamic. I’ve written about this before here, but it bears repeating again.

At-Will Terrain Power
You kick your enemy squarely in the chest, pushing it back.
Move Action (At-Will)
Melee touch
Target: One creature.
Attack: Strength vs. Fortitude
Hit: You push the target 1 square.
Special: The attack roll of this power receives a bonus equal to the enhancement bonus of the Blade of the Feywild Thunderdome.

Sweep the Leg
At-Will Terrain Power
You sweep your feet, knocking your enemy off balance.
Move Action (At-Will)
Melee touch
Target: One creature.
Attack: Dexterity vs. Reflex
Hit: You knock the target prone.
Special: The attack roll of this power receives a bonus equal to the enhancement bonus of the Blade of the Feywild Thunderdome.

Feint & Move
At-Will Terrain power
You bob and weave so that your enemy stumbles about the battlefield.
Move Action (At-Will)
Melee touch
Target: One creature.
Attack: Charisma vs. Will
Hit: You switch places with the target.
Special: The attack roll of this power receives a bonus equal to the enhancement bonus of the Blade of the Feywild Thunderdome.


  1. I had a blast creating the concept for this item; and after implementing Casey's suggestions and revisions, I'm really pleased with the final result. As mentioned above, the item was created for an Avenger, so rolling twice for most attacks really ups the chances of being whisked away to the Fey battleground. I cringe a little at the idea of 10/tier auto damage each round (especially when Summer and Spring have dual typed damage which aren't easily reduced by Potions of Resistance), but the enemy is facing the same thing - and it just suffered a critical hit before arriving at the Thunderdome.
    At first glance, the move-action powers might seem to make everything convoluted and cluttered, but they really are necessary for these one-on-one fights. Not only do they complement class- and monster-abilities, but they also tie in nicely with some of the Seasonal effects.
    To organize the item's properties, I printed a double-sided sheet with each season taking up half of a page, including the Move-actions. When I crit, I give the DM a copy of the sheet, folded over so that the right season is showing, and keep a copy for myself; that way, we each have a quick, concise reference for what seasonal effects are in place along with the Move actions that are available. It really keeps things tidy, IMO.
    I really hope everyone gives this item a shot in their campaign - not just because I co-created it, but I just think the concept in general is cool. It definitely does not slow things down (either the PC is going to get whooped by a Solo/Elite in conjunction with the auto-damage; or the PC will make short work of the enemy he just critted, but still come away with a few scars of his own); but I would understand if you don't want something like this interfering with your finely-tuned encounter.

    -Ryan O.

  2. Wow. Great concept!

    For 'Allure of the Feywild', should I assume that it only targets the monster? It seems out of place because, as a 1/round power, I don't see it affecting both combatants equally. It would be the DM's choice as to who gets dazed. By contrast, 'Hungry Vines' works better for me because a PC generally controls his own movement and can use his own abilities to force the monster to move within range of the tree.

    Were I to use this item, I would probably make 'Allure' an aura within the area and allow it to attack both combatants.

    Also having a little difficulty envisioning a 'Wall of Leaves' that remains standing until the end of the encounter. I envision it more as a 'throw dirt in his eye' maneuver but, you know, with razors. :D If you were to make it last for 1 round, it would be perfect. I would have a lot of fun seeing the combatants constantly kicking up the forest floor!

  3. Ahhh, I forgot to tag the Allure power as a No action. I've cleaned it up a bit now so it's clearer and removed references to a trigger, which is unnecessary.

    Wall of Leaves has an 'end of encounter' duration just to make it easier to keep track of. I find that mentally, it's easier to just see or indicate the wall of leaves, think of it being there 'forever', and move on; instead of keeping track of what art of what round it ends. Mechanically, end of next turn and end of encounter are pretty similar in this particular situation, as actual play has shown that fights in the thunderdome do not last for very long, one way or another.