Faerie Tales: Naiads, Pixies, and Sprites for 5e

A dear friend of mine asked me to run a 5e adventure for his kids over the holiday. It will be their first official D&D game, though since their dad is a video game designer they are more than familiar with the concept. His son wants to play a Merlin-like half-demon magician with a pet wolf. Tiefling wizard it is; with a wolf familiar because fun trumps rules. His daughter’s requests were a little more challenging: a faerie or a unicorn. I countered with a centaur-like unicorn race with plans to “borrow” Dan Dillon’s centaur rules from the brilliant Midgard Heroes, but her counter-proposal was a faerie with a pet unicorn. We landed on a pixie with a unicorn NPC friend.

Their dad decided that a PC with a leadership role would be ideal, so he could reasonably step in if they needed guidance. As a fan of the oft-overlooked Epic film and Christina Stiles’ (et al) Faery’s Tale, I suggested a sprite fighter (battlemaster) to counterpoint his daughter’s pixie sorcerer. It was an excellent excuse to expand a faerie racial build into sub-races and because I am who I am, naiads (aka nixies) made it into the mix.

Aquatic Allies: Karkinoi (aka What Makes a Race?)

There are a number of excellent blogs and podcasts about creating campaign worlds, from our own Shawn Ellsworth’s World Building series, to James Introcaso’s World Builder blog, and the Dungeon Master’s Block Creation and Inspiration episodes. Not long after joining Tribality I had a number of readers ask whether I’d be publishing my own aquatic campaign setting. My standard answer was to aim them at the brilliant Cerulean Seas from Alluria Publishing. Why reinvent the wheel, I thought? Then someone pointed out that there are scores, if not hundreds of pseudo-European fantasy settings, so why can’t their be more than one aquatic one? They could not have been more right. I’ve since had the pleasure of playtesting aquatic races, adventures, and campaign concepts as I hammer out my ideas, including many published here on Tribality.

Novel Inspiration: Kaminoans for 5th edition

The kaminoan species in the Star Wars universe played an integral role in the fall of the Galactic Republic and rise of the Empire. The victims of a near-genocidal flood after their planet’s most-recent Ice Age, the kaminoans turned to highly selective and brutally efficient breeding and genetic manipulation to survive. The long-term results of such environmental pressures were perfectionism, isolationism, and a lack of empathy for species that don’t strive for perfection.

Horrors of the Aboleth: Protoaboleth

I love the aboleth. As a villain for aquatic campaigns there are few better, but when building up to an epic invasion or major climax there are few creatures easily accessible to the DM. Below is the protoaboleth, a Challenge Rating 3 creature rumored to be the ancestral line of the modern-day aboleth. Whether you use these creatures as low-level minions of an aboleth nation, ancestors in a time-travel campaign, or even potential allies, the protoaboleth can foreshadow the horrors to come as your PCs gain levels.

The protoaboleth was converted with permission from the brilliant Horrors of the Aboleth from Rogue Genius Games and the inspired (and twisted) mind of designer, Sam Hing. You can find two other creatures from Horrors in 25 Aquatic Enemies for 11th-15th Level here on Tribality. Huge thanks to the wonderful Owen and LJ Stephens for permission to convert and share this material.

Natural Lycanthropes in 5th ed – Wereshark

Whether an ancient race or the rare child of an inflicted parent, natural lycanthropes (as opposed to infected lycanthropes) can add a level of intrigue, fear, and drama to your campaign. Systems like Werewolf: The Apocalypse, settings like Kobold Press’ Midgard, and supplements like The Gaming Guide to Lycanthropes, flesh out these fascinating character options for a range of settings. With the exception of Southlands Heroes‘ werelion, the options for natural lycanthropes in 5th edition is almost non-existent.

You can use this basic concept to duplicate other lycanthropes in your games, replacing normal and dire beast forms and enhanced senses for the racial traits here with your GM’s permission. 

Aquatic Allies: Cnidarians for 5th edition

This week’s From the Depths is brought to you by the awesome supporters on Patreon! Huge thanks to Elliot Riddell and Nick Hoyt for inspiring, brainstorming, and play testing this new Aquatic Ally for 5th ed!

Cnidarians are a semi-humanoid race from an aquatic planet whose land masses consist largely of archipelagoes. Their internal structure consists of a hydrostatic skeleton and simple digestive tract. While their external skin is thicker and stiffer than that of simpler jellyfish, it also allows far more flexibility than most humanoids.

Novel Inspiration: Chagrians for 5th edition

Chagrians are a Star Wars species seen in many of the films and Expanded Universe media, most notably as the assistant to the Emperor, and it’s one I only recently discovered has an aquatic origin. Though there are scores of aquatic sentient species listed in the Wookieepedia, not all of them add something new to a campaign. The chagrians provide an intriguing mix of physical strength, intelligence, and higher education you don’t see in many other races.