Freestyle Friday: Recurrence
Hello all! Welcome to Freestyle Friday. This set of articles is dedicated to rapid brainstorming and features the workings of our minds as we develop possible content for games. Nothing here is polished, nor do I claim that these ideas we come up with are balanced or necessarily canon when we connect them to a world or monster type.
Yesterday was Groundhog Day, and in honor of the movie of the same title, I thought a set of concepts based around recurrence would be appropriate for this article today.
I will provide 2 monsters and one magical item today. So without further ado, let’s get started.
- Hobgoblin Eternal Legion
Among the monster races, hobgoblins are among my favorites and I even like to play them as PCs when possible, so it is no surprise that these creatures popped into my head today.
Hobgoblins believe that when they die they will go on to Acheron to fight alongside Moglubyet in his eternal war against Grummsh. This creature is a realization of that. As the battles rage, the hobgoblins are destroyed and reformed several times, thus incorporating the experience of several military careers into a single entity as time progresses. And in times of need, the Hobgoblin Eternal Legion can draw on the actual lives he or she has lived upon either the prime material plane or upon Acheron.
I thought of how to stat this creature, and realized probably this monster is more of an encounter rather than a single entity. But here is what I would do to make it work.
- The creature starts as a hobgoblin general
- Change its size to large and change its type to fiend (it is from Acheron, one of the lower planes)
- optionally, give it a few offensive spells associated with the War Domain for clerics or some offensive wizard or Sorcerer spells, probably of the evocation school.
- Give it the following abilities “1/day: The hobgoblin eternal legion summons two hobgoblin captains, their stats are identical to ordinary hobgoblin captains except they are classified as fiends. They act on the hobgoblin Eternal Legion’s initiative count, but always after him and before ordinary summoned hobgoblins” “1/day: The Hobgoblin Eternal Legion summons 1d4+1 hobgoblins in a 15 by 15 square area within 100 feet that it can see. These hobgoblins act on the Hobgoblin Eternal Legion’s initiative count, going after the Eternal Legion and any summoned captains. They have statistic identical to ordinary hobgoblins but their creature type is “fiend”)
- attach the following caveat to the hobgoblin Eternal Legion: “Banishment vulnerability: Any summoned hobgoblins created by the Hobgoblin Eternal Legion modify any spell that banishes them to a demiplane or another plane “The duration of any banishment spell to the summoned hobgoblin becomes “permanent.’”
- Optionally, if the hobgoblin Eternal Legion in question has had a varied career, one might replace a summoned captain with either an Iron Shadow or one of the adepts of devastation presented in “Volo’s guide to monsters” since they are close to the same strength.
Each of the summoned hobgoblins is meant to represent a past life or career. If you like, you could have some sort of condition for the creature’s complete destruction, such as destroying the hobgoblin that represents its original life or having to destroy the Eternal Legion’s weapon or armor.
Quickling Time Adept
Because of the curse affecting quicklings as mentioned in “Volo’s Guide to Monsters” I got to thinking about the extremely short-lived fey and ways they might develop to cheat death, as they only live to be 15 or so according to the book. Since time moves extremely quickly for the little monsters, I’d thought about one trying to master magic dealing with time in order to prolong its own life or possibly reverse the curse put on it by the Queen of Air and Darkness.
I also Thought of this because I always want to picture the little runts running around in Red suits with yellow trim, or yellow suits with Red trim for any that happen to be rebels, since I like that particular comic book hero so much.
This idea as it occurred to me a few minutes ago seemed to do more with time than recurrence, but then I thought of the difficulty of a creature with only 15 years learning any significant magic. I had the idea that they would have their own abilities that would allow them to live the same time period of their lives over and over again with accumulated knowledge in order to become more and more powerful.
Here is what I’d do to make these little guys.
- increase the quickling’s hp significantly if you want it to be a tough fight
- as it is learning magic, the intelligence should also be raised to something more appropriate for a skilled wizard.
- give it the slow, haste, and time stop spells (the first 2 3/day, the last one 1/day)
- give the Quickling the following ability (Aura of warped time: any creature within 10 feet of the quickling treats all terrain as difficult terrain, costing 1 extra foot of movement for each foot traveled. Additionally, all creatures other than quicklings can only make one melee attack per round, even if they normally can do more and cannot take reactions.)
- to reflect how slowly something might travel to the quickling through its aura, you might want to give it the monk’s catch missiles feature and perhaps even evasion.
This concludes the monster section of the article, now I will provide a magical item for both players and DMs to use.
This large metal cell is meant not for holding individuals or object, but actually moments in time. Using this device a creature can prepare itself in case of a future accident for a return or an object might be restored in case of a possible destruction in the future.
This cell can hold one medium target or less that is either an object or a creature. When this device is activated, it records the exact nature of the creature or object in question for later retrieval. If the cell is activated with no object or creature inside it, the previous information it had on a creature or object is destroyed and cannot be retrieved.
If information on a creature is retrieved, the creature emerges from the cell with the exact number of hp, inventory, conditions, memories, alignment and in the case of PCs, level it had when the object was last used. There is a 50% chance on each significant event that can be attributed to the creature that such event is erased from history (roll a d20 and any odd result is removed from history) Similar conditions exist for objects.
There is a cumulative 10% chance per use of the cell that a malfunction occurs in recording. In the event of a malfunction, consult the options below, make up your own, or have the DM select one.
- Data is lost and the creature is destroyed, only can be salvaged by a wish or similar magic
- The creature loses most of its memories or has memories from someone that previously used the cell
- The creature has aged about 10% of their race’s lifespan
- The creature has gotten younger by 20% of their race’s expected lifespan)
- An event in the creature’s past has fundamentally changed (for example, a battle their kingdom won might have been lost instead)
- The creature’s alignment is changed.
- The creature’s race changes
- Roll 2d6 and select 2 options, removing 1 and 8 from the table.)
- The object is destroyed and cannot be recreated short of a wish.
- if the object was magical, it is no longer so
- if the object was non-magical, it is now.
- The object, becomes far more powerful if magical
- if the object is magical, it becomes much weaker
- The material the object is made from changes fundamentally.
- the object becomes sentient based on a creature that previously used the cell.
- the object is duplicated.
Thank you for joining me on this first installment of Freestyle Friday. I hope to see you again. And please, leave comments so I can better suit this column to what you’d like to see.
About the author
Zachary is the original DM for the group but has recently had the pleasure of sharing this role with Kevin. He is a fan of all things Dungeons and Dragons and loves classic lit and bad monster and horror flicks. He is also blind.