Helkey 37 — Ambush at Wind-Sun Isle, Sea Wolf

Mori lifts his weapon — heavy with Macto rounds. Its barrel rises toward the five Pride Eaters. They stand on the storm-washed deck. Clawed feet curl up from the solar panels as the material burns them. They’re more solid than the horrors of the Hell Gate at Furze Bank. Less ghost-like. Living demons on the Earth. A shiver of fear climbs his spine. For all the demons’ substance, the world rebels against them more. Air around them warps and twists — tortured by their presence. It makes a ripping sound — a roar above even the howling storm wind. Bone-white and tapered heads all turn. Hollow, light-devouring eyes look past him to focus on Ivan. Claws lift and extend, making gestures toward Asmodeus’s Chosen. Beckoning. Offering flashes of dark magic that swell up in violet strobes between the Pride Eaters’ claws. Ivan’s hands lift. Grasping for what the demons give.

Power — the heroin of Hell.

Behind the Pride Eaters, the Trekke Pa oil platform — turned into a Nightmare mash-up of machine and giant squid — smashes through a nearby wave. It dwarfs Sea Shepherd which rolls and tosses in the shadow cast by its bulk, shrinking beneath smoke rising from the horror’s burning form. The churning ocean around them blackens with pollution gushing from its body. All about, fires light up — dancing across the waves.

Beside Mori, Beatrice’s rapier explodes with the light of a patterned Macto curse. She crouches, ready to spring. Shepherd’s windows take on its silver light. The glass — a frail divider neither demon nor angel seems to notice. Beatrice glances over her shoulder to Sadie, who nods, then snaps her face back to the threat as she lowers into a crouch. Fine dancer’s muscles coil like a spring. “Everyone! Behind us! Ready to abandon ship!” Beatrice shouts.

Finn scampers back, ship’s PA in hand. “Franz! Karl! Get topside!! Now!!” He shouts before letting the microphone slingshot back to the consol. He catches both Glenda and Sadie up in a sweep of his arms. All cluster near the door. Behind them, the well roils with inky water. Oil sloshes up to spatter the rear windows in black. They stare, eyes wide in terror at the Pride Eaters.

Behind Mori, Ivan takes another thudding step toward the demons. Dark light spills out of his wound causing shadows to bend and quiver. We’re losing that fucker again. Shit’s about to get real bad. His weapon stock tucks into his shoulder, the front Pride Eater resolves. He squeezes. The hammer falls. A white-blue bolt streaks from his barrel, smashes through the window. Shards fly outward. All together, the Pride Eaters spring toward the bridge. The front demon jumping into his shot. The Macto-cursed bullet strikes the demon’s head. It explodes in bright sparks that tear through the Pride Eater’s form — burning away like so much flash paper. In a flare, the demon is gone.

The four remaining Pride Eaters crush through the windows, leaving twisted steel and glass shards in their wake, claws rending both wheel house and ship’s consol. Electric sparks flying through the air combine with the flashes of Mori and Beatrice’s magical curses. Mori swings his weapon left, struggling to track the demons’ furious motion. Beatrice thrusts her rapier upwards as she springs toward a massive demon, spinning away from down-slashing claws. Her blade plunges into the demon which bursts in a fireworks flash.

Ivan takes another step forward. His face — hungry. His eyes — glazed. His hands — grasping. Strands of drool drip from his chin. “MmmmmIIIIIiiiiNNNnnnEEEEeee!!!” he shouts as he lunges toward the Pride Eaters. He grabs at the dark sparks of magic flying from the demons’ hands, stuffing each into his mouth like so much diabolical candy. His cheeks bulge. His throat quivers. His belly begins to to swell. Darkness gushes from his wound.

Mori finally draws a bead on his second Pride Eater. Its chest bursts into a spark flower, then the rest of its body flares and strobes out. Beatrice lands on one foot, jumps, flips, crouches upside down on the ceiling, pushes off, then stabs another Pride Eater through the eye. A cyclone of sparks curl out from the strike. Beatrice flips gracefully again to fall with the firelights, landing on the deck once more.

Mori looks sidelong at Ivan’s bulging flesh. At the changes starting to ripple over his skin. They are too late. The already-wounded Ivan need only accept the demonic offerings. No further wound is necessary to trigger his dark transformation. And Ivan has become more than willing, even lustful, at the Pride Eaters’ advances.

Exorcizamus te!!” Beatrice begins to incant as she levels her blade at Ivan. His girl’s going to have to drive the demons’ influence out of that rat bastard again. Mori squeezes off another Macto round to cover her from the last Pride Eater. It flies wide.

“Nah-ah!” Comes a shout from across the waves. The word carries with it a pulse of diabolical magic that smacks away Beatrice’s spell and briefly leaves her staggered.

Across the water, upon Trekke Pa turned leviathan Nightmare, amongst a coil of twisted metal and pulsing flesh, the Curse Rider stands. Just a couple hundred feet away now, he looks down upon the foundering Sun Shepherd. His black cowboy hat perches on his head, unperturbed by wind or rain. A wry grin twists his features. No humor in that smile. Only dark satisfaction. He lifts his hand. His devil’s lash rises. The souls in his worb scream with pain in answer. Lightning shoots from his lash to spur the Nightmare — urging it on as it lifts its tentacles above Sun Shepherd.

“It was a great hunt! A chase for the ages!” He shouts above the storm-wind. “But all hunts end, as must.”

The Curse Rider then lowers his lash. Devil’s magic flows from it, leaps across the tossed and burning sea, then plunges into Ivan. The changes in his flesh accelerate. His body twists, lurches, bulges. Flickering, his spine elongates as black metal pins shoot from his flesh. His jaws engorge and grow a hedge of teeth. He falls down onto four clawed paws. Barbed spines emerge from his back — each popping out with a loud snap! A tail bearing a mass of these spines rises up behind Ivan — now returning to his terrible combined wolfdemonporcupine and stegosaurus form. The shape of Asmodeus’s Chosen. His yellow, slitted eyes focus in on Beatrice as she dispatches the remaining Pride Eater with swift, precise blows.

Too late!

Franz and Karl at last burst onto the bridge. They stare wild-eyed at the monster Ivan has become.

Smash! CRASH! CRACK!! Three tentacles slam down onto Sun Shepherd. The vessel shrieks as it is bent and broken by terrible force. The hull splits beneath them. The burning, polluted ocean swarms in.

Praesidia! Sadie shouts as she forms a protective bubble around Finn, Glenda and herself. Beatrice does one of her leaps directly over Ivan just as his jaws snap hard on the empty space she occupied moments before. Landing between Franz and Karl with a watery splash, she shouts Una! Then, casting a spark into Sadie’s protective barrier, she incants Lanuae! Franz, Karl, and Beatrice’s forms all flicker out, then burst into being amidst flowers of sparks inside Sadie’s shield.

“Hey! What about me!?” Mori shouts as water floods in and the ship breaks apart around him. Ocean envelops him and he’s left to hold his breath and swim like hell for Sadie. Luckily, Ivan’s pulled away by a swirl of current. His knife-like spines at a safe distance for the moment. No incantation’s possible beneath the water. Mori can’t vocalize his magical curses. Sadie, Beatrice and the rest don’t sit idle in their protective bubble as he struggles. At the urging of Sadie, they stand and run together. The effect is like a giant hamster ball spinning toward him inefficiently through the water. Mori chokes back a wry laugh and swims harder.

Beneath the pollution floating on the storm-riled surface, the water is clearer. Omnis Scientia, pulled below the waves at a nudge from Beatrice gives an expanded view. Mori can see the Nightmare’s gigantic form — like some burning, oil-spewing, sky-scraper sized squid — floating way too close for comfort. Its tentacles writhe and lash as it tears Sun Shepherd to pieces. The Nightmare as hellified oil platform seems to hold an awful grudge against the solar-electric vessel. Ivan kicks and thrashes in the current. He got rolled pretty hard by a big wave that Mori somehow managed to duck dive under. Surfer’s old instincts doing double duty.

The thought brings a reminder of Myra as a kid at the Cape Hatteras that once was. His kid was a real badass on a boogie board. Good times, those. He grins as he kicks into Praesidia, knifes through the barrier, then pops into the air bubble with a gasping intake of breath. Sadie had shouted Una! Just a moment before from inside the bubble to include him. Otherwise, he’d have bounced off it like a giant beach ball.

The bubble is moving with surprising speed beneath the water. A glance through Omnis Scientia tells Mori that Sadie applied a Mobilis curse to the barrier as the group started doing the hamster-wheel thing. It’s now turning fast and swimming roughly in the direction of Bright Spark. Mori scrambles up to join those jogging in the ball. Beatrice has linked hands with Franz and Glenda — helping everyone coordinate as Sadie’s magic aids their movement. For now, running away from Ivan, the Curse Rider, and the leviathan Nightmare.

“Holy Hell!” Mori gasps as Praesidia pops to the surface, then rolls along through the waves. “We lost Ivan!”

“Not quite yet.” Sadie replies, pointing across the storm-tossed North Sea to where Ivan is doggedly swimming toward them. His great, spiked tail lashes in a wave face about two hundred feet away propelling his massive bulk toward them. His eyes gleam with yellow rage. His mouth gapes with hunger, spilling venom into the already befouled sea. That goddamn bastard’s a devil turned sea wolf. Mori wants to say it out loud. But he doesn’t on account of Glenda. She’s jogging beside him, sobbing quietly, staring in stark disbelief at the monster her father has become. Mori puts a hand on her shoulder. He wants to say something to help her. He knows he ain’t got shit. He just gives her the best reassuring squeeze he can muster.

Mori lifts his rifle which, by some account of gods or providence or just flat luck, he managed to hold the fuck onto. Sighting down the barrel, he draws a bead on Ivan the monster as he swims toward them with surprising speed. Lashing tail churning the black and burning water to thrust the demon-wolf like a missile through the raging sea. Behind Ivan, the machine and flesh bulk of the leviathan Nightmare flails its tentacles then leaps toward them. SMASH! ROAR! It flies hundreds of feet through the air then splashes down in a great spray of foam and fire. The Curse Rider atop the oil platform turned hell beast lifts his head to laugh. The noise of his diabolical glee mixing with the tortured scream of wisps in his worb, the furious roaring of the storm wind, and a piercing wail of a howl that springs from Ivan as he lifts his lupine maw to lend his own monster’s voice to the hunt.


(New to the Helkey multiverse? Haven’t yet read the first chapter? You can find it here: Helkey 1 — The Memory Draught.)

(Looking for another chapter? Find it in the Helkey Table of Contents.)

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The Dominator, Kymbria in Chains, Part One: A Land Abducted

Welcome to the first module in The Dominator campaign Dungeons and Dragons adventure series — Kymbria in Chains, Part One: A Land Abducted! It is the first episode in The Dominator campaign series. Enjoy it here for free!

The Dominator campaign series will include a number of original, unofficial and unaffiliated open gaming license, modules that will take four-to-six 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons players from level 12 all the way to level 20 and beyond. The players will journey in a worlds-spanning epic to the fractured and abducted fairy land of Kymbria, plumb the depths of Murkmak’s Pit — a horrific dungeon realm designed to lure, trap and sacrifice heroes to The Dominator, and last of all come to the Nether-Realm — a demi-plane death trap that The Dominator has turned into a vast hunting preserve where a rogues’ gallery of fiends pay for the privilege to become predators to heroes.

Live Dungeons and Dragons Play Action!

I am running The Dominator as a live campaign that transitions from a traditional Dungeons and Dragons game world. Play is live-streamed on Twitch Saturday Nights about once every three weeks at Ted Burgess’s Twitch page. Please stop by and join us live as the players confront The Dominator’s web of dark design. Afterward, videos of these live games along with character profiles are provided here in the Dominator Campaign Archive. In addition, I’m providing walk-throughs of these and my other published modules about once every few weeks every Sunday or Monday Night on my Twitch page.

Because we love WOTC and Dungeons and Dragons, we want to take this opportunity to promote some of the amazing game books we use at our tables when we play games like this one. Please find them here if you haven’t already: The Monster ManualThe Player’s HandbookThe Dungeon Master’s GuideVolo’s Guide to MonstersMordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, Tasha’s Cauldron of EverythingSword Coast Adventurer’s Guide, and the new Monsters of the Multiverse.

Kymbria in Chains presents Kymbria as a mini-sand-box campaign adventure. It details Kymbria’s isolation by the Mist Wall, provides various challenges for adventurers seeking to enter Kymbria either by road or by river. It introduces new monsters in the form of Foulings and details key NPCs — King Murmak the Pale, Shebril the Lich, Mistfire the Druid Unicorn, King Laurynth of Ravenscorne, Regent Rilfawn Drallenor of Kymbria and his daughter Valenthia (some are detailed below, others appear in future modules). This series also provides roleplay notes and encounters as well as specific location details for the major features of Kymbria — The Pit, The Fouling Hills, The Gauntwood, Shebril’s Ford, Mistfire’s Grove, Ravenscorne, and Kymbria itself.

This module is intended to be usable as a plug-in to any adventure setting. As such, some land features and campaign details given are intentionally vague so that they can be easily changed to fit your game world (whether a homebrew, official WOTC setting, or another OGL product). In particular, Shedra, Rathlespin and the Goldenthread Tavern are meant to be readily interchangeable with NPCs and locations from your campaign world.

(Warning: if you are a player in The Dominator campaign adventure series STOP READING NOW.)


Our game series begins when the players learn of a great tragedy besetting the elven, fairy realm kingdom of Kymbria. This small kingdom now suffers a series of terrible afflictions following the ruin of its sister kingdom Athaelys at the hands of the Fouling King Murmak The Pale, the traitorous wizard turned Lich Shebril Lillenscar, and King Laurynth of Ravenscorne — all implements of The Dominator.

Kymbria Campaign Map

Shedra’s Tale

The players learn of this event when their sponsor, Shedra, relays to them news of Athaelys’s ruin and Kymbria’s capture. Shedra is a former adventurer, a 15th level Human College of Lore Bard, whose health was recently ruined by a strange magical curse. This affliction suddenly ended Shedra’s adventuring career. However, her great renown, deep well of knowledge and large network of connections makes Shedra an invaluable ally to the players. Now, Shedra acts as a lore-giver for the players as she alerts them to the troubles afflicting Kymbria.

Accompanying Shedra is Rathlespin — a world-famous expert on monsters and malign entities. Shedra called Rathlespin to meet with her and the players at the Goldenthread Tavern — a local haunt and common meeting place for the players, Shedra and other travelers.

Shedra is a friend to elves and fairy of all kinds. In her early days as an adventurer, she received a special boon from the Unicorn DruidMistfire — who resides in her grove in western Kymbria. Shedra contacted the players because she trusts them. She knows if anyone can help Kymbria, it’s them. Read the following flavor text when the players meet with Shedra.

“It is good to see you all again. Yet this occasion is one of great tragedy. You may have heard of trade flows along the river recently being interrupted. For months now, traffic has been troubled ever since two fairy realms were ripped out of place and slammed into a kind of half existence in our world. Athaelys on the river’s north bank near the barrow lands and Kymbria on the south near the great wood.

“I say ‘half existence’ because the entire place is surrounded by a wall of swirling mists blocking all travel except by land or boat. Any flying thing is forced to land by violent winds. Teleportation through the barrier is impossible. All who cross the mist wall enter fairy. So boats traveling on the river must pass through the wall, travel down the fairy version of the river north of Kymbria, then return to our world after about ten miles.

“Trouble is, there’s a ford on the fairy world’s river that doesn’t exist here. This ford is filled with rocks and is too shallow for most boats to pass freely. Larger boats heavy with trade goods must be lifted past the rocks to continue. It often takes days.

“By itself, the mist wall and the ford would present new obstacles and hazards. But they’re only a foretaste of worse to come. The entire north bank, once a fairy kindgom called Athaelys is a stinking ruin. Its former woodland realm — now a dead forest called the Gauntwood. Behind this deadland is a defile called the Fouling Hills. Fouling after the terrible dark fey who’ve descended from those hills to over-run the place. These Foulings raid any boat passing down the river near their lands. Possessing mighty arms and dark magic — they are dreadful foes.

Shedra looks to Rathlespin. He runs a hand through his hair, glances back at her, then picks up the thread of Shedra’s dark tale.

“Little is known about Foulings. Reports coming back are sparse. They are generally covered in pale and glistening scales, possess glowing eyes of varying colors, tend toward the humanoid, but range greatly in size and shape. We assume they are fey because they inhabit the fairy world — if that’s what you could call this fractured place. What is known — they are raiders. They are attracted to the benevolent who are most capable. Though they loot and pillage, they appear to be fanatically devoted to the task of kidnapping people, hauling them off to their lair, which they call The Pit, and then sacrificing their captives to a being they worship called The Dominator. The more benevolent the captive, the greater its ability to defy evil, the more rabid the Foulings’ desire to subdue and to take. One exception appears to be elves — whom, regardless of anything, they appear to desire to capture, sacrifice, or kill above all others.”

Rathlespin pauses, then turns back to Shedra who takes a breath and continues.

“With Athaelys ruined and now home to Foulings, only Kymbria remains. Sundered from its links to the fairy world by the mist wall, Kymbria is now a place under constant siege by Foulings. The mist wall prevents easy passage as most who walk through it beyond the river or the road become lost — tending to wander for days or even for weeks before coming to a familiar place. Travelers on the river are under constant threat of attack. And the road, well, the road passes through what’s left of Athaelys which is crawling with Foulings.

“So this is what we know of The Dominator. Rumor, trouble, myth. A god to strange creatures called Foulings devoted to sacrificing powerful, benevolent beings, particularly elves, in his name. We can only guess that this sundering of Athaelys and Kymbria from the fairy world and hurling it into ours was his doing, or that of his servants. To what end, we can’t guess. But these Foulings have already captured much plunder in the form of lives. Many a hero — taken, then hurled, into their sacrificial Pit.”

The Fall of Athaelys and the Foulings Rise

The land of Kymbria is beset by the invasion of monstrous, cursed creatures called Foulings (see Appendix). They are the most visible cause of Kymbria’s fall and remain at the heart of its present woes. But they are more a symptom than a source of the larger trouble. One revealed in the tragic tale of their emergence. Of sabotage, dark plots and of the making of horrors.

Shebril the Elf Hater

The Foulings’ origin begins with Shebril the Lich — who has long harbored a deep and unreasoning hatred of elves. A member of The Dominator’s Confederacy, Shebril sought for ways to fill The Nether Realm’s hunting grounds with elves and powerful elven heroes. Shebril reveled in the notion that these elves would suffer and die as prey to The Dominator and his cabal of fiendish guests — who paid to hunt all manner of heroic prey. In The Nether Realm’s early days, Shebril used his various guises to trick elves to journey there by various paths. But an opportunity arose when Laurynth — an elven bladesinger of Athaelys — fell prey to Shebril’s lures and became ensnared in the Nether Realm.

Laurynth Father of Destruction

Laurynth traveled with an adventuring company of humans and elves. Though a casual observer would think of him as benevolent and well-intending, Laurynth’s actions hinted at a corruptible nature that intrigued The Dominator. For Laurynth harbored a great lust for power that was uncharacteristic to his elven bretheren. Rather than hunt Laurynth, The Dominator gifted him with one of the twin blades of Anauroch (see Appendix) from his arsenal. A mighty, vampiric sword named Vylslayke, this blade encouraged Laurynth to betray his companions who were trapped in the Nether Realm along with him. The blade said to Laurynth — “I shall give you the power to escape, to gain all you desire. Yet to attain this power, you must kill your friends.” Vylslayke lusted for the blood and life force of good beings to devour. And the benevolence of Laurynth’s companions filled Vylslayke with hunger. Laurynth succumbed to the sword’s influence, slew his companions and from their deaths gained great power. Vylslayke drank the lives of his victims, filling Laurynth with an unnatural taint of baleful vitality.

After witnessing Laurynth killing his companions, the Dominator decided to allow him to escape from the Nether Realm. Laurynth returned to Athaelys with Vylslayke. Celebrated as a hero for his escape from a world beset by fiends, Laurynth swiftly rose to notoriety as a prince of Athaelys. Setting aside Vylslayke, Laurynth attempted to walk a path of peace. He was deeply troubled by his own crimes. His nights — tortured with memories of his friends’ deaths. Though he never spoke of his crimes to anyone for fear that all he had gained would be lost. During this time, he fell in love with Valenthia, daughter of Rilfawne. Rilfawne saw Laurynth as a melancholy hero who seemed haunted by the horrors of his past. He felt compassion for what he perceived were Laurynth’s spiritual wounds at the hands of the Dominator and his terrible realm.

Finryke — Child Marred by a Father’s Sins

When Laurynth asked to marry Valenthia, Rilfawne blessed the union. Following the marriage, the people of Athaelys elected Laurynth for their king. Laurynth’s reign lasted only forty years, however. His only son, Finryke, always dark and brooding, fell steadily into pain and madness. He was pale and shy as a child. His playmates avoided him — as he was a bully who seemed to enjoy harming animals. Valenthia, in fear of her son and helpless to overcome his evil urges, fled Athaelys in grief. “My love,” she said to Laurynth. “You brought me great joy once. But a darkness hangs over our son that I cannot pierce. I am powerless against it. I can no longer abide here in grief. Farewell!”

Devastated by the loss of his wife, Laurynth redoubled his efforts to find a cure for Finryke. But his son’s malady only deepened. Healers began to whisper that Finryke was cursed. Meanwhile, the boy’s condition worsened. Over time, his features grew feral. At seventeen, his eyes sparked with an unnatural red light. Years later, scales began to form over his body even as his left hand sprouted long, black claws. Finryke became afflicted with a fevers. He developed strange hungers. Often, he complained that voices talked to him from the darkness. One night, Finryke stole Vylslayke from the vault where Laurynth had secured it. Taking the sword, he disappeared with it into the Hills north of Athaelys, never to be seen again.

The Foulings Emerge

Soon after, elves traveling on roads near the Hills began to disappear. At first, these disappearances were isolated, rare events. But after a few months, abductions grew in frequency even as traveling groups of ten or more fell under threat. The Hills became a place of foreboding. Rumors spread in Athaelys that pale-skinned monsters with glowing eyes were raiding any who ventured into the highlands. Laurynth gathered a host to hunt down the kidnappers. What he found after he set out was a horror beyond imagining. Hundreds of creatures that resembled his deformed son roamed freely over the ridges and swarmed in the gullies. Laurynth’s lieutenant Glendoras called the creatures Foulings and so the name stuck. They raided his force by night, then melted into hollows by day, drawing Laurynth ever deeper into the Hills. Elves wounded by these terrors were stricken with paralysis. Those not killed by the Foulings at first recovered, only to grow ill a day or two later. The sickness caused pale scales to cover their bodies, wicked lights to spark in their eyes, ultimately transforming the elves in more Foulings. Half of Laurynth’s force was dead, transformed, or captured before he turned back in defeat. As he did, Finryke, now fully a monster, called out to mock him.

“You killed for power!” Finryke shouted, his voice hissing in the shadows, as he pointed Vylslayke at his father. “I am the result! What strength you did not claim will be my own! Go and return to ruin and defeat! For I am Finryke no longer! I am Murmak the Pale! For The Dominator has bleached me with his gifts of great power. But fear not! I will rule in stead of you. I will hold the might that you should have taken!”

Sarynfel Destroys Athaelys

Finryke’s words filled Laurynth with dread. Over the years, guilt for his crimes became a crushing weight. He could not meet the malign gaze of his son, even as a child. In his glowing eyes, he could see the heinous murder-act repeated again and again. But he still could not bring himself to confess. Instead he quietly lamented what he’d done.

Returning to Athaelys, Laurynth found only ruin. The dragon Sarynfel had descended upon the woodland realm even as Laurynth’s army entered the hills. His people were left defenseless to the great wyrm. They perished or fled. Sarynfel drove the refugees into the hills where they were taken by Foulings. So the monsters’ ranks were swelled even further. Sarynfel spewed out various poisons as he settled into his new lair — which became known as The Gauntwood after its skeletal trees, poison clouds, and roaming undead.

Laurynth fled south with a remnant of his people. Coming to the east of Kymbria, he took a basalt upthrust of rock for his new abode. This he carved into a tower. Calling the new realm Ravenscorne, he lives there still. A sad and dour king among the tattered remnant of his people.

Worship of the Dominator and the Rise of the Mist Wall

In Kymbria, the Regent Rilfawne had long-since grown wary of Athaelys’ troubles. The split between his daughter and Laurynth brought foreboding. The appearance of baleful Finryke at the annual moots sent a shiver down his spine. But members of the elected Council could not be troubled. Business from the river was booming. Shebril made great wealth in trade at his Ford both in tolls to ferry vessels across the rocks and in goods from the other lands of fairy. Shebril’s apparent generosity in the form of gifts sent out across Athaelys and Kymbria fed a general sense of malaise. So Rilfawne bided his time for want of any ear willing to hear his worries. Out of everyone, Rilfawne’s own daughter Valenthia was the only one to share his concerns. Her regular pilgrimages to Mistfire — the unicorn-druid — were at least a small comfort. Her fear of her son had lit in her the fire of purpose. She’d organized a group of Knights of Luna. An all-female force of paladin pegasus riders. Many elves either mocked or ignored them. Times were peaceful. Their martial training seemed useless to most.

When Finryke stole Vylslayke and abductions were reported, the Knights of Luna stood up. They escorted travelers on roads through the hills. They aided refugees fleeing the ruin of Sarynfel. Few criticized Valenthia and her knights then. They instead looked to the Knights for strength and comfort. Some even suggested they hadn’t done enough to prepare — for they were only a small company and the troubles besetting Kymbria were suddenly vast.

A great evacuation of Athaelys ensued even as Foulings poured down from the Hills. Those captured were brought to a new Fouling Fortress called The Pit. Valenthia and her Knights of Luna scouted this fortress to find that Foulings were using elves as ritual sacrifices to a dark god. These elves were sacrificed by being hurled into a pool of mercury in the Pit’s deepest recesses. A magical gateway to a Nether Realm ruled by a Fouling god called The Dominator. An evil god already feared throughout Kymbria due to Laurynth’s own harrowing tales of adventure and escape.

Now all of Athaelys was in ruin and over-run. Sarynfel came to rule over this once-vital woodland kingdom. A place of terror crawling with both Foulings and undead that the elves now called The Gauntwood. To its north, the Fouling Hills frowned over a brutal and desolate land. The very earth grew corrupt. Oily fires alighted from the ruined hills as lightning storms without rain clawed across the highlands. From this corruption, the Lich Shebril drew magical strength. For it is the nature of all undead to feed on sickness, weakness, death. And without the life-giving community of elves, the land fell prey to his terrible magic. Channeling the dark energies of a dead and preyed upon land, he raised the Mist Wall and thus sundered the whole of Kymbria from the lands of fairy. Now isolated, Murmak, Sarynfel, Shebril and their monstrous servants turned their eyes south to Kymbria’s capitol. It was only a matter of time, they believed, before it too fell to their evil advance.

Entry into Kymbria — By Road or By Boat

After receiving Shedra’s request for aid, the players will have to decide how to enter Kymbria. If the players require inducement, the abduction of a close associate by Foulings or a mysterious disappearance in the vicinity of Kymbria may provide adventure hooks. Additionally, The Dominator may have more personally harmed one of your players or some players may have ties with Kymbria through family or other associations. Use your creativity and discretion.

Regardless, if the players do not wish to risk becoming lost in the Mist Wall surrounding Kymbria, the two known ‘safer’ ways to enter this Fairy land are either by a road entering Kymbria from the North or by a boat running up the river (both the river and the road are intentionally left unnamed so that you may easily plug Kymbria into a traditional or homebrew campaign setting).

If the players decide to brave the Mist Wall instead, they find themselves surrounded by swirling mists that seem to remove them from space and time. Once the players enter the Mist Wall, they find themselves separated from one another. No matter how they call out, shout, or move, they grow further and further apart. At last, alone, and in silence, each player must individually find their way out of the Mist Wall. Have each player roll a DC 21 Wisdom saving throw. On a success, the player emerges from the Mist Wall one day later at the place they entered without mishap. On a failure, the player is trapped in the Mist Wall for the day and does not emerge. They may roll this save again on the next dawn. If the player fails by 5 or more they are trapped in the Mist Wall for one week after which they may repeat their saving throw.

Time passes strangely in the Mists. Players do not suffer from starvation or lack of water while trapped. If a player is trapped for more than a week, creatures that travel between realities may hone in on a lone player as prey. Roll a d20. On a roll of a 1, the player is attacked by four Phase Spiders. These spiders are native to the mists and can see through them without impediment. The player, however, suffers from heavy obscurement by the mists. The player is thus considered blinded and can only resolve the Phase Spiders as blurry, monstrous forms. If the player defeats these Phase Spiders, they are not troubled again.

If a player rolls 26 or higher on their Wisdom save to navigate the Mist Wall, they have learned the trick of traveling through this planar barrier. They may see and gather their party members in the mists. They may then forge a path with their companions to Kymbria through the Wall. They appear at a random place of your choice on the borders of Kymbria (see map above) and may begin their adventures within Kymbria from that point (continue to the other modules in this adventure series for reference materials).


The road into Kymbria forges a crooked path into mists tainted by pollution. The nearby Fouling Hills continuously emit smoke and poisonous vapor from cracks that have riven the land. These vapors now mingle with this section of the Mist Wall. Players passing through it find themselves coughing in a sooty and sulfurous air.

It takes about one day for players to travel through the Mist Wall and into Kymbria. While in the mists, they experience mild disorientation as night bleeds into day and swirling mists take hold of their senses. Regardless, so long as players stick to the road, they are not in danger and will eventually pass through the Mist Wall uninhibited.

After crossing the Mist Wall boundary, players pass through a flat and green land mostly shrouded by the mists spilling down from the wall. When the mists finally clear, they reveal a road formed of white but stained bricks. The road plunges through a pass in steep and craggy hills. Before them, and blocking the road, is a Fouling (Dreadclaw) riding a Ghoulish Giant Spider. Dreadclaw is supported by six War Orcs (Area 1 on the Road Ambush Map). Two more Ghoulish Giant Spiders are visible clinging to hillsides — one to the east and one to the west (Area 5). The towers flanking The Pit are each manned by two War Orcs and one Fouling. The large table-like rock also serves as a perch for yet another Fouling supported by two more War Orcs who stand on the ground in front of the Pit’s opening (The towers and table rock are at Area 3). In addition to these visible forces, six Ghoulish Giant Spiders and four Foulings hide among the trees to the west (Area 2). Meanwhile, a reserve of one Fouling and four War Orcs lurks just inside the Pit’s entrance (Area 4). Read the following flavor text:

The sulfurous mists pull back their dark curtain. Before you, a white road cuts through dark hills oozing with pollution. To your right, a wood strewn with giant cobwebs looms. Your eyes catch shadowy movements among the trees. But when you turn to look, you see only gnarled trunks and branches supporting dark leaves pricked with thorns. To your left, a great crevice opens in a hillside. Gaping like a rocky maw, the opening falls down into a dark pit. Beside this pit are two towers hewn from dark wood. Orcs and pale, scaly creatures with glowing eyes lurk among these fortifications or stand leering at you near the pit’s opening. In front of you, another of these scaly creatures blocks your path. It rides a giant spider about the size of an ox that propels its bulbous body through the finger-like motions of its eight boney legs. Clusters of black eyes stare at you from its head. Behind the spider and its pale rider are six more orcs. The rider’s eyes glow with a sickly green light at your approach. It lifts one hand to point a black-clawed finger at your. Through pointed teeth, it hisses the word ‘halt!’ in the common tongue.

Road Ambush Battle Map

Dreadclaw has orders from Murmak to halt all traffic leading into Kymbria by road. To this end, he is aided by a large force totaling 16 War Orcs, 8 Ghoulish Giant Spiders and 9 Foulings. He will order anyone on the road to halt and to give up all weapons. If travelers comply without offering resistance, Dreadclaw will bind his new prisoners, confiscate their gear, and haul them off into The Pit. Anyone with a passive Insight of 12 or higher is able to guess Dreadclaw’s intentions. At this point, it becomes clear that the only way out of capture is fight or flight.

During combat, Dreadclaw orders all forces to surround and attack the players. Monsters in the woods spring up and attack from the player’s right flank, The orcish reserve in or near the Pit rushes out to join the Ghoulish Giant Spider on the left flank. Those in the towers pepper any of their enemies with javelins and spells. Dreadclaw on his Ghoulish Giant Spider along with his six War Orcs serve as a blocking force.

Captives — anyone with a passive Perception of 13 or higher notices two cages — one at the base of each tower. These cages serve as confinement for a total of eight elfish captives. These are mainly Kymbria natives caught on the road returning to their land. One of these prisoners, however, is Blaes — a level 11 Monk. Blaes is a refugee from Woodglen Monestary. He’s the only surviving member of a group of elfish raiders who’ve been harassing Murmak’s Foulings near The Pit. He was finally captured after an ambush destroyed his company earlier in the day. All captives, being elves, are bound for sacrifice to The Dominator in The Pit’s depths.

If the players defeat Dreadclaw, the captives will beg that they free them and then flee. Players lingering on the Battlefield will hear noise of orcs and Foulings approaching from the Pit within only a few minutes. If they linger for more than five minutes, a new force of 30 War Orcs, 12 Orc Archers, 4 Trolls, 2 Hill Giants, and 4 Foulings emerge to attack them. Give the players plenty of warning before these monsters arrive. If the players flee, this force instead retakes the fortifications around the Pit as a pursuit is organized. See ‘hunted’ in the Ruins of Glenwood Monastery module of this adventure series.

Treasure: Each Fouling carries four Emerald Coins for a total of 36 (20 gold value each).


Entering Kymbria by boat requires the players to travel upstream. Progress is slow as the Mist Wall steadily builds before them like a landed thunderhead. At last, after about a day of rowing or sailing, the prow of their vessel pierces the mists. As the vapors swirl around them, the current goes slack. The vessel now seems to cut swiftly through the water. But no matter how fast they row, they remain surrounded by roiling clouds. After about one day of steady rowing (the winds die within the Mist Wall, so sailing is not possible), they at last emerge into Kymbria. The mists fall away like the spray of some massive wave. To their south and west, they behold the great cherry trees and pristine lands of Mistfire’s Grove. To their north, the lands rise into the outskirts of the Gauntwood. There the ground is riven with channels through which run a dark and poisonous ichor. In the distance, skeletal trees are locked in perpetual autumn.

The players have now emerged into Kymbria. The map below provides their relative location on the river leading into Kymbria just east of the main map’s edge. It is also the site of a river ambush by the forces of Murmak. Place the player’s boat on the river in the lower left portion of the map when the encounter begins. As the boat comes abreast of the area marked A, the fouling leader Funkpaw springs the ambush. Along with him in area A are five Foulings (for a total of six Foulings). They are supported by two Ghoulish Giant Spiders in Area A. These hide among the trees and require a DC 20 Perception check to spot. Behind them are eighteen War Orcs gathered in groups of six at each location marked C. In addition to these forces, Funkpaw has formed a pact with the Hydra named Flamesprit. Flamesprit lurks in the water at Area B. Neither the Hydra nor the War Orcs are visible to the players on the boat.

When Funkpaw triggers the ambush, the six Foulings use their jump ability to assault the boat or attack the party with spells and ranged attacks from the trees (an even split of three jumping onto the boat and three using spells from shore is a good mix). If necessary, they caste Haste to double the distance of their jump. Meanwhile, the Ghoulish Giant Spiders hurl webs from shore and the War Orcs advance to pepper the boat with javelins. While the players are distracted, Flamesprit the Hydra swims underwater toward the boat close to the river bottom. Once beneath the boat, Flamesprit attacks, attempting to capsize the boat. Flamesprit can make one Athletics check with each of its heads (5). If it meets a DC of 20 on one of these checks, the boat is capsized and its occupants end up in the river in a space adjacent to the upside-down boat. Flamesprit then surfaces to attack.

River Ambush Battle Map

If the battle turns against the ambushers, Funkpaw and Flamesprit will attempt to flee. If they are successful, they will warn Murmak that powerful adventurers have entered Kymbria. Armed with this information, Murmak will send scouts to keep tabs on the party’s doings in Kymbria.

Players defeating the river ambush are free to continue their progress along the river. As they pass the Mistwood, they will notice monsters on the south bank at the Dark Landing. You will find this encounter in the Mistfire’s Grove module of this adventure series.

Treasure: Each Fouling carries four Ruby Coins for a total of 24 (20 gold value each).


The Monsters of Kymbria

From the Gauntwood to the Pit to the Fouling Hills and through various incursions into Kymbria, this land of Fairy is over-run with new and terrible monsters. The Foulings themselves come in many varieties. And Shebril has created various undead terrors that haunt these lands. You can find their game statistics below.

Fouling  — 5e stats

Medium Fiend, chaotic evil 

Armor Class 17 (Natural Armor 3)
Hit Points 77 (11D8+22)
Speed 35 ft, Climb 35 ft, Jump 35 ft

17 (+3)20 (+5)14 (+2)12 (+1)14 (+2)18 (+4)

Saving Throws Con +5, Cha +7
Skills  Athletics +6, Arcana +4, Intimidation +7, Stealth +11, Perception +5
Damage Immunities: Poison

Damage Resistances: Necrotic

Condition Immunities Charmed, Frightened, Incapacitated
Senses Darkvision 120 (can see in magical darkness), Blindsense 20, passive Perception 15
Languages Common, Abyssal, Elfish, Telepathy 60 Feet

Challenge: 6 (2300 XP)

Magic Resistance: Foulings make saving throws against spells, magical attacks, and divine powers with advantage.

Spider Climb: Foulings can climb on difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.

Spellcasting: Foulings cast the following spells, requiring no spell components and using Charisma as its spellcasting ability (DC 15, +7 to hit)

Cantrips: Shocking Grasp (Necrotic or Lightning Damage), Toll of the Dead, Bladeward

Level 1 (4 slots): Absorb Elements, Magic Missile, Feather Fall

Level 2 (3 slots): Misty Step, Web, Darkness

Level 3 (3 slots): Haste, Slow


A Fouling can cast a leveled spell or make one melee or ranged attack, make one bite attack, and cast a cantrip. A Fouling can make a bite attack or a rapier attack using its hasted action (if hasted).

  • Rapier. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 feet, one target. Hit: 10 (1d8+5) magical piercing damage and 5 (2d4) necrotic damage.
  • Shocking Grasp+Black Claw. Melee Spell Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 feet, one target. Hit: 10 (2d8) Lightning or Necrotic damage and 8 (1d6+4) magical piercing damage. and the target cannot take reactions until the start of its next turn.
  • Toll the Dead. Range 60: DC 15 Wisdom Saving Throw. On failed save 2d8 (10) or 2d12 (14) Necrotic damage if the target has already taken damage.
  • Bite. Melee Natural Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 feet, one target. Hit: 8 (1d4+5) piercing damage and 4 (1d6) poison damage. Hit target makes a DC 14 Constitution save. If the target fails, they are poisoned. If the target fails by 5, they are unconscious. If the target fails and are an elf or fairy they contract the Fouling Sickness. If they fail a second DC 14 Constitution save at the end of the next day, they fall unconscious for 4 days after which they awaken as a Fouling.


Foulings are pale, covered in white scales, have eyes that glow in various colors (red, yellow, ice-blue, green, orange), and have long black claws that sprout from their left hands.

Ghoulish Giant Spider  — 5e stats

Large Undead Monstrosity, chaotic evil 

Armor Class 15 (Natural Armor 3)
Hit Points 40 (7d8+5)
Speed 30 ft, Climb 30 ft

14 (+2)15 (+2)12 (+1)7 (-2)11 (0)6 (-2)

Damage Immunities: Poison

Skills: Stealth +7

Condition Immunities Charmed, Exhausted, Poisoned
Senses Darkvision 60 (can see in magical darkness), Blindsense 10, Passive Perception 10
Languages Common

Challenge: 2 (450 XP)

Spider Climb: The spider can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.

Web Sense: While in contact with a web, the spider knows the exact location of any other creature in contact with the same web.

Web Walker. The spider ignores movement restrictions caused by webbing.


Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) piercing damage, and the target must make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw, taking 9 (2d8) poison damage and becoming paralyzed on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. A creature poisoned in this way can roll a saving throw at the end of each of its turns to remove the paralyzed condition. If the poison damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, the target is stable but poisoned for 1 hour, even after regaining hit points, and is paralyzed while poisoned in this way.

Web (Recharge 5–6). Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 30/60 ft., one creature. Hit: The target is restrained by webbing. As an action, the restrained target can make a DC 13 Strength check, bursting the webbing on a success. The webbing can also be attacked and destroyed (AC 10; hp 5; vulnerability to fire damage; immunity to bludgeoning, poison, and psychic damage).


Ghoulish giant spiders are dark grey, hairy undead monstrosities with great clusters of black eyes, bulbous bodies and dripping fangs that propel their bulks on creaking

Icewind Dale 13 (A D&D 5e Re-Rendering) — Assault on Dragon Eye

Welcome to Icewind Dale, Episode 13 — The Assault on Dragon Eye! Featuring a nail-biting encounter and a boatload of gamer humor, this most recent episode is bound to please those who like their D&D strategy mixed in with a huge helping of tasteless jokes.

The Icewind Dale campaign is a D&D 5e re-rendering of the D&D 2e CRPG produced in the 2000s and now available on Steam. A tactician’s dream, Icewind Dale presents numerous and escalating challenges for players. Those who love exciting tactical scenarios will get their fill in this game. The 5e re-creation by Ted Burgess is true to the game’s original high difficulty and has been amazingly fun to play.

In this 13th episode, the party confronts powerful lizard-folk, dangerous bombardier beetles, and swarms of monstrous spiders as they venture into Dragon Eye. A volcanic structure located in the Spine of the World, Dragon Eye may hide the source of the strange evil plaguing Kuldahar. The party, now level 6, commences its exploration of this dangerous dungeon in episode 13. They are — Roderick (a golden boy Trickery Cleric/Arcane Trickster rogue), Veris (a summoning and healing focused Shepherd Druid), Rueger (a burly goliath Rune-Knight Fighter), Immeral (an elven Monk of the Long Death), and Gaelya (my elven Bladesinger Wizard). Alinar, our great-weapon Sorcadin, takes a break from the action for this session.

As with most of our Icewind Dale games, we’re swiftly drawn into a challenging combat in which each player’s tactical choices generate great impact. If you enjoy deadly encounters, gritty tactics, and light-hearted banter, you’ll probably love this most recent foray into old-school Icewind Dale as 5e D&D.

If you want to catch up on the older games, you can find them here:

The Icewind Dale Campaign and Video Archive

The Icewind Dale Playlist

Robertscribbler’s Homebrew Feat Tweak For Shield Master in D&D 5e + Melee Weapon Feat Tweak Mini-Series

In this 19-minute video on the Robertscribbler YouTube channel, I explore a tweak for the Shield Master feat in Dungeons and Dragons 5e. Shield Master is commonly nerfed by GMs and official rules arbiters alike in 5e D&D. For this feat tweak, I carve out an expanded ability to use a bonus action to shove and potentially knock opponents prone. Another minor rules change — in this case one that makes playing Shield Master both more fun and effective without breaking the game.

With the addition of a Shield Master feat tweak, I conclude my comprehensive mini-series for making melee combat more fun, flavorful and realistic in D&D 5e. This mini-series includes a much-needed upgrade to the Dual Wielder feat and changes to both Great Weapon Master and Polearm Master (Swift Master) to add variety and options to these already-strong feats. If you wish to use these guides for your games, the links are below:

Great Weapon Master

Polearm Master (Swift Master, still only on YouTube)

Dual Wielder

Homebrew Horrors — A Skeletal Mage for D&D 5e

Artwork by The Lady Blue Wolf

Introducing the first monster in the new Homebrew Horrors as a part of our Dragon’s Dungeon Talk — the Skeletal Mage. Emerging from haunted tombs and dark dungeons, the Skeletal Mage is a dangerous menace that wields potent arcane magics. Whether a remnant of an ancient civilization, summoned by a potent curse, or animated by a powerful necromancer, the Skeletal Mage is a cunning terror drawn to the shadows and fueled by a hatred for all living things.

This Skeletal Mage is a slightly modified version of the one used by Dungeon Master Graham in our Icewind Dale campaign based on the classic 2E computer RPG. Converted to 5e rules, the Skeletal Mage provides Game Masters with a potent spellcaster as a challenge for level 4-7 characters in D&D adventures. Please enjoy our free homebrew 5e D&D Skeletal Mage monster below:

SKELETAL MAGE  — 5e stats

Medium Undead, lawful evil

Armor Class 15 (Mage Armor)
Hit Points: 39 (6d8+12)
Speed 30 ft

1014 (+2)15 (+2)108 (-1)16 (+3)

Saving Throws Con +4, Cha +5
Skills  Arcana +2, Intimidation +5

Damage Vulnerabilities: Bludgeoning

Damage Immunities: Poison

Condition Immunities: Exhausted, Poisoned
Senses Darkvision 60, passive Perception 9
Languages Common

Challenge: 3 (700 XP), Proficiency Bonus +2

Spellcasting: Skeletal Mages cast the following spells, acting as a 5th level caster, requiring no spell components and using Charisma as its spellcasting ability (DC 13, +5 to hit).

Cantrips: Chill Touch, Light, Shocking Grasp

Level 1 (4 slots): Absorb Elements, Magic Missile, Mage Armor

Level 2 (3 slots): Acid Arrow

Level 3 (2 slots): Lightning Bolt, Stinking Cloud


A Skeletal Mage can cast a spell — either a leveled spell or a cantrip.

  • Chill Touch. Ranged Spell Attack: +5 to hit, range 120 feet, one target. Hit: (10) (2d8) necrotic damage and target cannot regain hit points until the start of the Skeletal Mage’s next turn.
  • Shocking Grasp. Melee Spell Attack: +5 to hit, melee reach 5 feet, one target. Hit: (10) (2d8) lightning damage and target cannot take reactions until the start of its next turn.


Skeletal mages are gaunt, clothed in tatters, and move with the sound of a scaping menace. Their eyes are illuminated by a malign, green glow.

Gish Optimized 7: The D&D 5e Artificer-Bladesinger Switch Hitter (aka Linka)

The time has come once more, my friends, to put on our optimization thinking caps and envision yet another fun-to-play and powerful Gish build for our 5e D&D games! This particular iteration of the Gish draws its inspiration from one of the most famous switch-hitters in the computer gaming universe. I’m talking about a little elfish dude who fights like a beast with most of the weapons he picks up — owing to the base magic he uses to enhance his martial prowess. He’s also well known for wearing a dorky green outfit and sporting a cheesy 80s style hairdo. Yep! You guessed it, we’re drawing at least some of our inspiration from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s Link.

Image source: Link’s Facebook Page

Our build is that of a plucky badass who is equally proficient in sword, bow, and spell. And while our little Gish might not fully emulate Link from the computer games, she’s at least going to use the wonderful engine that is the D&D 5e rules set to leverage magic to make her similarly badass as a varied weapon and spell wielder. In particular, we’re going to focus on a fighting style that has become relatively difficult to emulate in 5e — The switch hitter. What is a switch hitter, you ask? Well, a switch hitter has the ability to use two or more fighting styles with almost equal proficiency. And our build is going to aim for just that.

Though we are drawing a boatload of inspiration from Link for our new build, we aren’t going to come anywhere close to perfectly emulating video game Link. For this reason, we’re not going to name our build after the plucky little monster slayer of great fame and renown. Instead, we’ll imagine a female relative of Link… possibly a sister who learned her badass fighting style from her brother before getting warped into the Dungeons and Dragons 5e multiverse…


Introducing Linka — The Artificer-Bladesinger Switch Hitter

Image source: @snow.berrie

Watch out boys, because things are about to get pretty unreal!

So far, for our gishes, we have two straight class builds — the Battle Sorcerer and the Dexadin — along with two one level dips — the Barbarian Hellblade Tank, and the Tempest Cleric/Sorcerer. Our Bladesinger/Artificer Switch Hitter will become the third member of our group that includes three level dips — the Classic Fighter-Mage and the Raven Queen’s Herald.

For our Linka build, we’ll be looking at starting off as a relatively effective bow, sword, and sometimes shield wielder, who will be able enhance her attacks with magic, critters, and feats. Though we won’t be a primary blaster, we’ll present a strong blasting threat by level 5-6. And we’ll often remain a better blaster than most. We’re particularly looking to combine buffs or ongoing magical effects with various fighting styles for maximum impact with weapons in combat. In addition, at level 2 and 9 we gain access to some helpful and friendly critters who also enhance our combat effectiveness. Meanwhile, we gain the ability to add greatsword fighting to our list of options by level 11. By the time we reach levels 14-20, the power of our buffs greatly increases — as our innate magic enables us to transform into a melee and ranged powerhouse on the battlefield.

Though we don’t have a NOVA option outside of critical hits, what we do have is the ability to dole out consistently high damage both in close combat and at range. In addition, those critical hits can become quite potent at later levels.

Sounds pretty amazing, right? Now lets get to it.

Level 1 — Half Elf, Intelligence, Dexterity, Constitution, Artificer

Jumping right in with ability scores, our Linka is nothing if not smart. In fact, her innate Intelligence is what allows her to unlock her amazing magical martial prowess later in-game. This high level of intellect is Linka’s main specialty. So we dump 9 points into Intelligence for a starting score of 15 before we pick our race.

For our next stat, we are looking for both deft speed and nimble agility. Yes, our secondary attribute is Dexterity. This stat does a lot of work on a traditional Bladesinger. Linka is no exception. Dex will pull weight as our primary weapons combat attribute for at least 9 levels. So we don’t want to neglect it. At level 1, we also dump 9 points into Dexterity for a total of 15 before we choose our race.

Our last primary stat is Constitution. Since Linka will be moving to the front line relatively often, we want to have at least a decent base HP. As with most Bladesinger builds, we are seriously vulnerable to critical hit and multi-dice damage attacks due to our lower base HP compared to our typically higher Armor Class. Constitution helps us shore up this weakness. In addition, we want to shore up our ability to concentrate on all the various buff spells that we’ll be using. We dump 5 points into Constitution for a total of 13 before we pick our race.

This leaves us with 4 points remaining. We go ahead and dump Strength at 8 while adding 2 to both our Wisdom and Charisma for 10 in both stats. Our initial ability score spread is 8 Str, 13 Con, 15 Dex, 15 Int, 10 Wis, and 10 Cha. Pretty darn strong.

Moving on to race, there are are a few potential choices. We could go with Wood Elf, High Elf, or even Eladrin. But, to my mind, these choices don’t quite seem to fit. We come from an ancient race that mixed both the blood of humans and elves even as they accessed strange magical technologies. I find that, in RP, this origin provides an interesting spin on Half-Elves for D&D 5e. Typically orphans to both elven and human society, Half-Elves are often loners who have to use their innate charm to forge their way. In this case, our Half-Elf is from a unique if ancient separate race that existed for hundreds of years. This gives our Half-Elf heritage, lineage, and real roots. From the stats perspective, we also get to add 2 to one ability score and 1 to two ability scores. We use these to gain a final ability score spread of 8 Str, 14 Con, 16 Dex, 17 Int, 10 Wis, and 10 Cha. We’re super smart, quick, and tough. A potent combination.

Half Elf, in addition to granting Linka Darkvision and Fey Ancestry, also unlocks a key option. We will be spending a good number of levels as Bladesinger early on. And though this Wizard subclass does grant us access to one melee weapon proficiency, we want more. So we use the Half Elf customization option provided by The Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide to gain access to High Elf Weapon Training. At level 1, this gives us access to Longsword, Shortsword, Longbow, and Shortbow proficiency. Now we are super-smart, quick, and we wield a variety of weapons.

Last of all, for class, we pick up Artificer. This class provides us with some of our wonderful fluff. Our magic comes from an ancient magical/technological source. We re-fluff our arcane focus to a round, sometimes glowing, sometime music-playing, bauble that functions as Thieves Tools when we tap it against a locking mechanism. With Magical Tinkering, we can make it emit light, sound, or even a recorded message. Artificer also grants us some wonderful crunchy powers and abilities. We start off with proficiency in Constitution and Intelligence saves — with Constitution saves being key to maintaining our Concentration. We gain light armor, medium armor and shield proficiency. And we gain spells.

For our spells we pick up Greenflame Blade, and Guidance as Cantrips. The wonderful and versatile list from Artificer grants us a variety of options that we can rearrange as we choose. At present, we get to pick 3. I’m partial to Cure Wounds, Faerie Fire, and Grease at level 1. But we also find later uses for Longstrider, Absorb Elements, and False Life. In describing how Linka casts spells, we invoke a magi-tech, sprite-like spirit called Zel who, in turn, casts these spells for us.

For our equipment, we pick three light crossbows. Then we sell all of them for 37 gold and 5 silver. We turn around and buy a shortbow, some arrows, and a short sword. We pick up scale mail and a shield. Now our Armor Class is 18 with the shield equipped. Our base HP is 10. We can heal, we’re oddly decent at unlocking doors and chests, and we can throw down some nice area denials and debuffs against our foes. In melee fighting, we use our techno-magic to ignite our weapon with fire to deal 1d6+3 damage to our foe and 3 splash damage to one adjacent foe (if this effect triggers, it gives us about average damage for this level). For ranged combat, we use our bow to deal 1d6+3 damage at a distance. Though we’re not amazing at any one thing, we are rather good at many things. We’re relatively tough, we can do decent consistent damage in melee, we are no slacker with the bow, we can heal, and we have some nice spells to hamper our foes. A good start!

Level 2 — Wizard 1, Owl Familiar, Silvery Barbs, Linka Accuracy

At level 2 we immediately transition to Wizard. Our HP goes up to 16, which isn’t stellar. We are about 2 HP tougher than your average Wizard. And unlike typical level 2 straight class Wizards, we have easy access to 18 base armor class with scale mail and shield. We take the opportunity to upgrade to a Longbow, if it presents itself. For present, we’re happy with our shortsword for melee.

At present, our two modes of fighting are Longbow + spells for ranged. If we are threatened in our ranged mode, we draw our shortsword and lay about with melee cantrips. Mode two is sword and board. In this mode, we often keep our sword hand free to invoke Zel if we need to on round 1 of combat. Then, we draw our shortsword and lay about with melee cantrips. If we need to cast another spell with a somatic component, we use our object interaction to sheathe our shortsword. These two main modes of combat will dominate for most of our early to mid levels. Since we will be using medium armor for consistent higher base AC, we will not be using Bladesong (coming at level 3) in most circumstances.

Level 1 Wizard gives us more spells, a spell book (techno-magic), and Arcane Recovery to get 1 spell slot back on a short rest. Since level 1 Artificer counts as a caster level, we now have 3 base spell slots and possibly 1 more from Arcane Recovery. Our 17 Intelligence is pretty high, so we’re about on par with most Wizards at this level.

For our Spellbook we pick up Find Familiar, Silvery Barbs, Shield, Magic Missile, Thunderwave (or Magnify Gravity, if available), and Detect Magic. As Wizard Cantrips, we select Booming Blade, Light, and Firebolt (for instances when we don’t have the bow equipped).

Between both Artificer and Wizard, we gain 7 choices for the spells we have access to during an adventuring day, making us extraordinarily versatile at this level. We pick Silvery Barbs, Shield, Magnify Gravity/Thunderwave, Magic Missile, Cure Wounds, Grease, and False Life. That’s a boatload of options. We can drop blasts, focus fire with Magic Missile, heal, buff ourselves with THP, make an enemy re-roll and gain advantage for ourselves, create some nice area denial, and use our reaction to add +5 to our AC. Choose wisely!

This combination of spells and the ability to use Find Familiar to summon a helpful critter in the form of our majestic snowy owl Elsie also unlocks a cool and rather signature feature that I’m calling Linka Accuracy. How does this work? Here’s one example:

We are on patrol with our longbow equipped. An orc pops up in the distance. We lift our bow to shoot and as we do we have our snowy owl flyby the orc to use her Help Action to distract him, granting us advantage on our attack with the bow. Our average damage for this attack against the orc is 7.02. Higher, in large part, due to our accuracy gain. And we haven’t used a spell slot for the day assuming we summoned our owl previously. This simple combo grants us the ability to save our spell slots for a rainy day while still doing consistent damage. If we want to safeguard our owl while still gaining accuracy, we use Silvery Barbs to nerf an enemy attack and then gain advantage on our next turn. These multiple options to gain advantage can really stack up. One final point about Silvery Barbs — the only component is verbal. So unlike the Shield spell, you can use it while wearing a shield and holding a weapon.

Level 3 — Wizard 2, Bladesinger, Rapier, Upcast False Life

By level 3, we pick up another level of Wizard and gain access to the Bladesinger subclass. Our HP jumps up to 22. We keep our scalemail and maybe even upgrade it to Half Plate by this level for a base AC of 17 and 19 with the Shield. This keeps us from using Bladesong. But we’re not too worried as we already have Constitution save proficiency and we want to access consistently higher Armor Class rather than brief bursts of high AC. Making us more Linkish…

Bladesinger also gives us proficiency with a one handed melee weapon. We pick Rapier, trading in our trusty short sword for a longer blade. Our melee damage now goes up to 1d8+3 plus any effect from Booming Blade or Greenflame Blade.

For our Spell Book, we go for more utility and pick up Identify as well as Absorb Elements. We can gain access to Absorb Elements through Artificer. But I like the added versatility granted by putting this spell in our book.

Our spell slots have now greatly expanded to 4 level 1 slots and 2 level 2 slots. We don’t have level 2 spells. But we can get a lot of traction out of a higher cast Thunderwave, Magnify Gravity, Cure Wounds, and False Life. During games where we expect to take a lot of heat, we probably upcast False life to gain an average of 12.5 Temporary Hit Points — buffing our effective HP to 34.5 prior to entering a dungeon or other threatening environment. With our high AC and access to Silvery Barbs, this makes us relatively tankish. For the spells we take into battle, we go ahead and add Absorb Elements for a rainy day when we take a boatload of elemental damage (also potentially adding some extra punch to our weapon attacks).

At level 3 we are surprisingly tough (when we load some False Life), we’re versatile, we’re a mean debuffer, and we’re accurate. This is a good level for us.

Level 4 — Dragon’s Breath

By level 4, we pick up level 3 in Bladesinger and thus gain access to level 2 Wizard spells. For our first 3 levels, we’ve contented ourselves with doing relatively average damage in exchange for high accuracy, high versatility, and surprising toughness when we choose to expend resources for it. Now, with access to the wonderful spell that is Dragon’s Breath, we can begin to do some high, consistent DPR.

So for our Spell Book, we pick up Dragon’s Breath and Misty Step. We want the wonderful mobility afforded by Misty Step in our back pocket. Though we are starved for second level spell slots. So we only whip out Misty Step for a real emergency.

Dragon’s Breath, on the other hand, provides us with a 15 foot cone in which we do 3d6 fire, acid, lightning, cold, or poison damage. Since we’re Linka, perhaps we refluff this spell as a techno-magical attack that emanates from our sword or bow. I kinda like this refluff feel. But it can also be cool to simply decide to breathe fire. So you do you.

We can cast Dragon’s Breath on ourselves, our owl familiar Elsie, or later on our Steel Defender Ambi.

In any case, with our longbow or rapier combined with Dragon’s Breath, and with Linka accuracy active, we do an average of 17.02 damage to a single target and 10.5 damage to multiple targets, assuming failed saves. Even counting saves, we are now doing significantly above average damage to one foe, and average damage to a potential number of additional foes for up to 10 rounds. If Greenflame Blade triggers its splash damage, we’re doing above average damage to two foes. Not too shabby.

With so many spells to choose from, with our sword, shield, bow, high armor class, potentially high HP+THP, and 4 first + 3 second level spell slots along with Arcane Recovery, we retain our amazing versatility.

Level 5 — Sharpshooter, Gish Cantrip Upgrades

At level 5 we gain our fourth level of Bladesinger. Now we’ve just unlocked a wonderful set of ASI and feat feat options. We’ve also just upgraded our Greenflame Blade and Booming Blade cantrips. And though we don’t yet have access to the level 3 spell list, we do have access to level 3 slots. Glorious Linkishness!

Before we go into our ASI choices or look at our DPR potential, let’s first manage our Spell Book. Last level we picked up Dragon’s Breath and Misty Step. At this level, we look to shore up our blasting with Shatter and we pick the wonderful defensive gish spell that is Mirror Image. Our defensive suite, combining Silvery Barbs, Shield, Absorb Elements, Mirror Image, and False Life, is now quite extensive. We’re also likely casting Longstrider at day start now to increase our base movement speed to 40. Our snowy owl familiar is still giving us consistent advantage when we are not using Silvery Barbs. We’ve got a deep well of various buffs and tricks working for our advantage at this point.

Our spell slots increase to 4 first level spells, 3 second level spells, and 2 third level spells. We don’t know third level spells. But can now upcast Dragon’s Breath, Cure Wounds, Shatter, False Life, and Magnify Gravity/Thunderwave. Dragon’s Breath, particularly, becomes quite potent when upcast using a third level spell slot.

At level 5 our Booming Blade and Greenflame Blade Cantrips now do an extra 1d8 thunder or fire damage when we hit in melee. With Linkish Accuracy, we do a bit of crit fishing in melee. For ranged attacks with our bow, we go ahead and pick up the Sharpshooter Feat. Now we shoot at up to a rather long range and we can do an additional +10 damage. Due to Silvery Barbs our our owl, we can set up advantage to make those attacks land far more often.

If we upcast Dragon’s Breath to level 3 and attack with Greenflame Blade we do up to 4d6+2d8+3 (26 average) damage to a single target, up to 4d6+1d8+3 (21.5 average) damage to a second target and potentially 14 damage to a number of additional targets. If we maintain concentration, we can do this for ten rounds. Taking into account Linka Accuracy and an average monster AC, that’s 21.9 average damage against a single opponent and 10.5 average damage to multiple opponents assuming a cluttered battlefield. So we are doing above average damage to a single target on top of an AOE. If we use a bow with Sharpshooter (adding in combat advantage) instead of a blade, we do 22.6 average damage against a moderate AC opponent if we can shoot them with an arrow and blast them with Dragon’s Breath. On a crit with this attack and assuming a failed save, we do 4d6+2d8+13 or 36. This is rather high DPR, even if our NOVA + crit is a bit underweight.

Level 6 — Fireball, Haste

By level 6, we are now a level 5 Bladesinger and we gain access to 3rd level known spells. Adding both Fireball and Haste to our Spell Book adds a suite of wonderful options. If we cast Haste and add Sharpshooter with Linka accuracy (using our owl familiar and Silvery Barbs), we up our DPR to 23.28 against a moderately armored foe. Not a huge gain, but more significant against low AC foes. Casting Fireball with Haste active and shooting a foe with advantage generates our new NOVA critical which is 8d6+2d8+13 or 49 — much more substantial in addition to the large AOE that is Fireball.

Leveraging Fireball in this way might not feel very Linkish. However, if we ignore Fireball, we’re hurting our potential in D&D 5e. We are Linka after all… It is worth noting that many of our spell and weapon combinations can be refluffed as using various forms of techno-magic or as activating powers from our weapons. And our invocations to Zel to produce these effects provides a more Linkish feel. That said, our next level swings us back to more of a weapon focus.

Level 7 — Extra Attack, Cantrip Attack Action

Hitting level 7 overall and level 6 in Bladesinger we finally gain access to the Extra Attack feature. We also breach level four spell slots which add to our ability to NOVA. Using our bow, Haste, Sharpshooter and Linka Accuracy on the first two attacks, we now do 30.5 average damage against a moderately armored foe. This is about 70 percent above the average base damage for this level. With advantage on just the first attack, this DPR drops to a still respectable 25 — or nearly 50 percent above average. Our NOVA is now Haste+a level 4 Fireball+advantage+bow and Sharpshooter for 52.5 on a critical and a failed save or simply three hits and one crit with Sharpshooter and Haste active for 57 damage. With our sword, with Haste active, and using Booming Blade for one of the attacks along with our Bladesinger special attack action ability, the average damage is about 22 with advantage on the first attack and about 25.5 damage with advantage on the first two attacks. Also strong DPR.

On the defensive side, sword and board plus Haste grants us a 21 AC. Adding Mirror Image generates even more resiliency. Silvery Barbs saves both us and our Mirror Images. Our base hit points are relatively low at 46. However, we’ve likely added about 11 THP by pre-casting False Life using a level 2 slot, giving us 57 effective HP (comparable to the 60 average HP for Fighter, Paladin, and Ranger at this level). Absorb Elements gives us the ability to reduce the damage of a good number of typically high damage area attacks. If we’ve added Blink (new to our spellbook at this level), we are absent on 50 percent of our off turns (preventing damage but also preventing us from defending our allies when we’ve blinked out). A newly added Counterspell access grants us the ability to suppress enemy casters at admittedly high cost for this level.

Level 8 — Artificer 2, Infusions

By level 8 we return to our Artificer roots and pick up a second level in the class. We gain some decent benefits in the form of two magical Infusions. These Infusions are straight out of our magi-tech background — providing our RP basis for how Linka accesses this magic.

The two magical Infusions we’ve gained can do work for us now even as the provide a key benefit at high level. If we don’t yet have a magical bow and rapier, we go ahead and use our Infusions to enchant both weapons. If we do have a magical bow and rapier, we infuse our shield to +1 and our half plate to +1. For damage calculation purposes, we’ll assume that the bow and rapier are infused. However, it is relatively likely that we have a magical bow and sword by level 8. If we do, we instead infuse our shield and half plate to gain a 21 base AC which jumps to 23 AC when we cast Haste.

Though these Infusions are both powerful and flavorful, we’ve set our sights on level 3 Artificer for a key feature.

Level 9 — Artificer 3, Battlesmith, Battle Ready, Steel Defender, Greatsword

Level 9 grants us that sought-for third level of Artificer. Now, we unlock our Artificer subclass option and we immediately jump all over the Battlesmith. Battlesmith grants us a key feature in the form of Battle Ready. With Battle Ready, we can use our Intelligence instead of both Strength and Dexterity when we wield a magical weapon. In addition, we gain proficiency in all martial weapons. With Intelligence now serving as our main stat for magical weapon attacks and as we gain proficiency in all martial weapons, our eyes drift over to the Greatsword.

Now, we gain three modes of fighting. Our main mode remains Bow + Spell given Sharpshooter, our relatively lower HP, and our increasing ability to gain advantage on attacks by various means. However, if enemies close in, we can now draw our Greatsword, use Intelligence for our ability modifier with this potent weapon, and employ it for our melee option. Sword+Shield becomes somewhat more niche as we reserve it for combats when we need higher defense.

If these benefits weren’t enough, we gain another cool critter in the form of our Steel Defender. We flavor this Steel Defender as a wolf made of iridescent blue and violet metal named Ambi. Ambi isn’t very tough at 20 HP. However, he is another presence on the battlefield. At this level, he provides aid in combination with our snowy owl Elsie and Silvery Barbs to grant us advantage on up to three attacks. We achieve this by using our bonus action to have Ambi move adjacent to an enemy and then use his ready action to prepare to distract the foe at the start of Linka’s next turn. This tactic may have varied effectiveness. But it is worth noting that if Ambi forces a foe to move, then we’ve disrupted the enemy’s maneuver. In addition, any attacks made on Ambi are attacks that aren’t made on Linka or her allies. If we use the optional flanking rules, Ambi becomes far more useful as a flank buddy. Otherwise, his ability to attack for 1d8+4 force damage is also helpful.

Ambi — a Wolf Steel Defender

Given Haste, Sharpshooter, a +1 Longbow and advantage from three sources, our ranged DPR has now jumped to 40 — or 110 percent higher than average. At this point, we are a DPR machine. Our NOVA+crit damage has also increased to 60 (68.5 if we use our bonus action to attack with our Steel Defender). Again, we are more solid as a DPR type than a NOVA type (our more NOVA-focused builds hit in the range of 90+ at this level). But we knew this coming into the build.

It’s worth noting that we are now effectively a single attribute dependent (SAD) build. Which makes us very happy and not sad at all. Another point is that a Headband of Intellect has now become a highly desirable magic item for us. Keep a lookout for it as it’ll help us with our spells, ranged, and melee attacks through level 15.

Last of all, our spell slots have gained a bump. Now we access 4 first, 3 second, 3 third and 2 fourth level spell slots. Notably, we’ve only sacrificed one effective caster level through our multi-classing. Our Artificer spell pool for any given day has also grown to four — adding still more versatility. Given access to Fireball and the five spell slots we can use for it, we are still a substantial blaster as well as a consistent threat as a weapon wielder.

Level 10 — Bladesinger 7, Fireshield, Spirit Shroud

At level 10 we return to Bladesinger and never look back. Here, we gain access to level four spells for our spell book. We pick up Fireshield and Spirit Shroud. Both are strong gish options for Linka. Fireshield provides us with a non-concentration ability to gain either cold or fire resistance on top of 2d8 reactive cold or fire damage when we are hit. This effect lasts for ten minutes. So we can cast it prior to entering combat. Spirit Shroud, if upcast to level 5, gives us a ten round 2d8 radiant, necrotic, or cold damage buff to our attacks that hit a foe within a ten foot radius. In addition, it slows our foes’ movement within 10 feet. Spirit Shroud does not yet replace Haste for us in most cases. But having the option to cast Spirit Shroud adds to our quiver of gish spells.

Our new fifth level slot provides various upcast options. An upcast fireball does 10d6 damage. If we need resiliency, False Life at level 5 gives us an average of 26.5 THP. Spirit Shroud, discussed above, provides another option.

Level 11 — Bladesinger 8, Great Weapon Master, Vitriolic Sphere, Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere

At level 11 we gain our second ASI or Feat as we hit level 8 in Bladesinger. Now that we have various ways to achieve combat advantage on the battlefield and now that we can use our Intelligence to wield a greatsword, we go ahead and pick up our second main switch-hitter option. You guessed it, we’re taking the amazing feat that is Great Weapon Master. Now, when foes close with us, we can devastate them with our Greatsword and with our ability to gain Linka Accuracy.

With Haste active, our ranged DPR of about 40 (without non-infusion magic item support) is now supplemented by a melee DPR with the greatsword of 61.65 (don’t forget, we’re adding 2d8 damage from Greenflame Blade or Booming Blade). Greatsword also provides us with a potential NOVA+crit round of 10d6+4d8+56 or 109. If we add in 2d8 off turn damage from Fire Shield, our NOVA+crit round jumps to 118. The greatsword-based DPR is approx 120 percent higher than average. The NOVA+crit enabled by the greatsword+GWM edges into the lower boundary of some of our more NOVA focused builds — owing to Haste, the explosive nature of Greatsword criticals by providing a bonus action attack, and adding in the ability of the Bladesinger to mix a melee cantrip into the attack sequence. We have now matured into a full-on Switch Hitter. It only gets better from here. Wof!

This higher melee damage potential creates a draw for us to focus on melee. But we should still play as a Switch Hitter. Our ranged attacks are still quite potent — allowing us to soften foes before they reach us or to target squishier caster or skirmish type foes with focus fire. Our multiple AOEs and ranged spell options further facilitate this style. When foes enter melee range, we choose our moment to pounce on them with our greatsword.

At level 11 we also pick up another AOE option in the form of Vitriolic Sphere or Gravity Sinkhole along with the wonderful defensive spell that is Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere.

Level 12 — Bladesinger 9, Steel Wind Strike, Cone of Cold

At level 12 we reach Bladesinger 9. We pick up the wonderfully gish and anime spell that is Steel Wind Strike. Now we can vanish, make a melee spell attack dealing 6d10 force damage to multiple foes and then teleport adjacent to one foe within 30 feet. Paired with Haste or Spirit Shroud, Steel Wind Strike becomes even more potent. In addition, due to Linka Accuracy, we have the option to crit fish against up to three of these foes.

For our second spell, we pick up the blast beast that is Cone of Cold for 8d8 cold damage in a 60 foot cone.

Our quiver for higher level spells is now rather deep as we have 1 sixth level slot, 2 fifth level slots, 3 fourth level slots, and 3 third level slots. This spell quiver totals 11 and we can draw from it for a number of wonderful buffs and powerful blasts as the need arises.

Level 13 — Bladesinger 10, Dimension Door, Summon Draconic Spirit

Level 13 gives us the opportunity to shore up some of our gish versatility. I like taking mobility options such as Dimension Door and the very versatile summoning spell that is Summon Draconic Spirit — giving us mounted flight and a powerful companion for up to 1 hour.

Level 14 — Bladesinger 11, Tenser’s Transformation, Chain Lightning

Reaching level 14 provides another major boost to our weapon-fighting ability. This comes in the form of Tenser’s Transformation — a powerful buff spell that sacrifices our spellcasting ability in favor of turning us into a vicious melee and ranged fighter. Tenser’s is a clutch spell that requires good timing to be used effectively. Typically, we will want to unload our other spells before tapping Tenser’s. We may also want to hold this spell in reserve for a moment when we need to swing the tide of battle by stepping in to join the front line and/or provide more powerful ranged support.

Our Linka Build is all about Going Full Gandalf on a Balrog

With Tenser’s Transformation active, we gain advantage on all our attacks with a weapon, we gain 50 Temporary Hit Points, and we add 2d12 force damage to each of our weapon attacks. Using a bow and Sharpshooter, our DPR jumps to 47.35. With our greatsword and Great Weapon Master, our DPR is 64.16 (about 125 percent above average). These are boosts beyond our previous peak. Our NOVA+Crit with a bow is now 6d12+3d8+28 or 80.5. With a greatsword, our NOVA+Crit is 8d12+8d6+42 or 120. If we have Fire Shield active and are hit once, the total NOVA round damage is approx 129. The combined high DPR and ability to NOVA when we crit is potent — particularly when we add the resiliency given by 50 THP. For best effect we pre-cast non concentration buff spells like Longstrider, Fireshield, Mirror Image and Blink. If we prep in this way, then cast Tenser’s our combination of offense from greatsword and bow switch hitting and defense in the form of resistances, 50 THP, passive damage, mirror images, and blinking out on our off turn is brutally effective.

For our second spell, we pick up the wonderful blast that is Chain Lightning. Our blast ability remains quite potent even as we gain a seventh level spell slot for up-casting our blasts, summons, and various buffs like Spirit Shroud. It’s worth noting that with Spirit Shroud upcast to 7 and with advantage our greatsword DPR jumps to 72.1 with the NOVA jumping to 138/147. This gives us an option outside of Tenser’s for a damage boost. Though the other benefits from Tenser’s including better support for our ranged option, granting us 50 THP along with continuous advantage, and lasting for up to ten minutes (vs 1 minute for Spirit Shroud), may make it a stronger choice for a long term buff in a pinch.

This level feels really strong for our Linka build. I’m adding a little * here and a note that we probably don’t want to take this build for campaigns that remain in the level 1-10 range. We’re no slacker at low to mid levels. But this build really shines at 11-16 and then again at 20. If we only play Linka in lower level campaigns, we miss out on her amazing potential.

Level 15 — Bladesinger 12, Elven Accuracy, Intelligence 18, Contingency, Drawmij’s Instant Summons

Now our boosts are coming hard and fast. At level 15, we hit 12 in Bladesinger. Gaining an ASI we pick the wonderful feat that is Elven Accuracy. Now our Linka Accuracy and Tenser’s Transformation grant us triple advantage. With Tenser’s constant advantage our DPR with the bow jumps to 61.8 (more than double average DPR at this level) while our DPR with the Greatsword leaps to 83.6 (about triple average DPR). Elven Accuracy also bumps our Intelligence from 17 to 18 which adds a bonus to, well, everything.

For spells, we pick up Contingency and Drawmij’s Instant Summons. Contingency provides us with some clutch action economy in a pinch. Drawmij’s lets us conjure one item we need that we don’t have — which can be useful for us in certain situations.

Level 16 — Bladesinger 13, Crown of Stars, Simulacrum

At level 13 we pick up more spells that further enhance our potential. At the top of this list is Crown of Stars. Now, we can use our bonus action to hurl a star that deals 4d12 radiant damage to a foe within 120 feet. This increases our peak ranged DPR to 81.3 and our ranged NOVA+crit to 12d12+3d8+28 or 119.5. Even when we hop into melee, the Crown of Stars may provide us with an option for our bonus action if we play our cards right. We should also mention that Crown of Stars has a nice, point blank synergy with Spirit Shroud. This becomes a clutch option for us at level 18 (below).

Our second spell at this level is Simulacrum. We’ve discussed this spell in previous build guides. It’s extraordinarily powerful and may not be a wise choice if we are playing at less optimized tables. Talk with your DM before using this spell. However, if we do create a Simulacrum of Linka, we can double our action economy or have our snowman version of Linka do some wonderful things like cast Haste on us right after we cast Tenser’s Transformation. Using a contingent spell to summon your Simulacrum in a pinch might prove clutch in a difficult battle.

Last of all, we now have an 8th level spell slot for upcasting. Wof!

Level 17, 18, 19 — Teleport, Forecage, Clone, Sunburst, Maze, Mighty Fortress, Intelligence 20

At level 17 we pick up the wonderful spells that are Teleport and Forcecage. Here we gain some more versatility — including the option to trap one or more foes in a Forecage. Fun!

Level 18 gives us Clone and Sunburst. The magi-tech Clone can save us from death. Sunburst is yet one more powerful AOE option for our quiver. At level 18, we also gain 9th level spell slots. This grants us a unique option to cast Spirit Shroud at 9th level while also casting Crown of Stars. If we can manage to pull off an effective greatsword+Crown of Stars attack sequence with Linka Accuracy, we do 124 DPR. If we NOVA+Crit with this sequence, we net 8d12+19d8+4d6+30 or 176.5 (185.5 with Fire Shield). Pretty darn deadly.

At level 19 we gain our final ASI and immediately use it to boost our Intelligence to 20. Maze and Mighty Fortress round out our spell selection. Zel’s magi-tech has grown into an extraordinary power. It’s also worth noting that as an effective 18th level caster, we now have 3 level five spell slots. Nice!

Level 20 — Shapechange…

Coming to level 20 really feels like gaining a capstone for our Linka. We gain access to the superlative list of 9th level spells. For our choices we pick Shapechange and something else we desire (I like Foresight, Meteor Swarm, or Blade of Disaster, but you do you). Shapechange by itself is pretty key to capping off the amazing D&D character that is Linka.

Linka can now Shapechange into a Planetar aka Angel of the Holy Sword — to devastating effect. Image source: Forgotten Realms Wiki.)

When we take Shapechange, we might consider renaming it to Angel of the Holy Sword or something similar that fits with our Linka mojo. When we cast this extraordinary spell, we use it to transform into a Planetar. This boosts our HP to 200, gives us 24 Strength and provides us with a boatload of other benefits. Here our Artificer infusions provide a key benefit. We commission the forging of a large greatsword as well as the crafting of large longbow crafted. We then infuse these items to each be +1 weapons. Placing them in our Bag of Holding (I hope we have one by now), we save them for when we cast Shapechange, then have our Planetar form draw both from the bag. Now we are a Planetar switch hitter. Boom!

With our bow in our Planetar form, we do 5d8+2d6+16 owing to the radiant damage we add to weapon attacks, our magic bow, our 20 Intelligence and Sharpshooter. With Crown of Stars active and with Linka advantage, we now do 117 DPR with our ranged attacks. Our Greatsword now deals 5d8+4d6+18 for a devastating DPR of 152 if we achieve Linka advantage on 2-3 attacks and adding in Booming Blade or Greenflame Blade on one attack. Our Greatsword NOVA+Crit round is now 26d8+8d6+54 or 198 (207 with Fireshield). If we have a Simulacrum available to cast Haste on our Planetar form, it gets even better.

Overall, our Bladesinger 17/ Artificer 3 build as Linka is a DPR powerhouse that really shines in the level 11-20 range. She’s an able spellcaster with great access to buffs, blasts, summons and spell utility. Her ability to gain advantage from numerous spell and ally options gives her a potent additional sting. And her critical strikes are often powerful enough to hit the lower range of builds specifically optimized to NOVA. Though her hit points are on the lower end, her ability to cast multiple defensive spells, to wear medium armor, and to transform into powerful forms makes her remarkably tough. A very strong build. One which I’ll be testing out in an upcoming one-shot in which my friends and I take on Vecna as level 20 characters! Stay tuned for dates and times as we’ll be livestreaming the devastation on Twitch!

Wow! This was quite a fun and enjoyable ride! I hope those of you who love Link and Zelda can make great use of the Linka build. Until next time — warmest regards and best wishes to you all!

Robertscribbler’s Gish Optimized: Tenser’s Transformation and Elven Accuracy on A Bladesinger in D&D 5e

In this 25-minute video on the Robertscribbler YouTube channel, I explore the powerful synergy between Elven Accuracy and Tenser’s Transformation on a level 11-15 Bladesinger in 5e D&D. Casting this powerful buff spell can result in a clutch move that could save your bacon during a tough combat. But have a care. You can end up sacrificing a great deal if you cast this spell at the wrong time. So choosing the right moment to deploy this powerful and amazing spell is crucial. The above mini-guide provides you with some helpful tricks for using Tenser’s Transformation effectively in-game.

Robertscribbler’s Homebrew Alteration to Great Weapon Master for Longsword Fighting in D&D 5e

In this 15-minute video on the Robertscribbler YouTube channel, I explore a tweak for the Great Weapon Master feat in Dungeons and Dragons 5e. Great Weapon Master is probably the most universally used feat for melee combat in 5e D&D. For this feat tweak, I add to the variety of weapons that qualify for Great Weapon Master in order to allow a greater number of historical and fantasy fighting styles in-game. Though this homebrew tweak is a minor rules change, I find it adds a great deal of flavor to games (not to be confused with my use of WOTC official rules to optimize the longsword and other 1-handed weapons).

Robertscribbler’s Homebrew Feat Tweak For Dual Wielder in D&D 5e

In this 17-minute video on the Robertscribbler YouTube channel, I explore a tweak for the Dual Wielder feat in Dungeons and Dragons 5e. Though many are inspired to play Dual Wielders in 5e D&D, some feel its feat support lacks the punch of other styles such as Great Weapon Master and Polearm Master. This video provides a balanced, yet powerful homebrew option for those who wish to wield a melee weapon in each hand in D&D 5e.

For your ease of reference, the complete homebrew feat is provided below. Changes to the official D&D 5e feat are highlighted in orange:

Homebrew Dual Wielder Feat for D&D 5e

  • You gain a +1 bonus to AC and a +2 bonus to damage when you are wielding a separate weapon in each hand.
  • You can use two-weapon fighting even when your one-handed weapons aren’t light. When you score a critical hit while two-weapon fighting, you may use a bonus action to make two attacks with your off-hand weapon instead of one.
  • You can draw or stow two one handed weapons when you would normally be able to draw one.

Robertscribbler on Don’t Split the Party in D&D 5e

In this 45-minute video on the Robertscribbler YouTube channel, I explore the tactical ins and outs of the old adage “Don’t Split the Party” in Dungeons and Dragons 5e. This video explores different considerations including party vulnerability to AOE, the need to maneuver to hit team monster hard, and the fun of risk-taking in D&D 5e. This guide is intended to balance risk and reward by providing some helpful rules of thumb for both fun and party survival during tough encounters.

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