Excerpts 06/03/2005


Dungeon Master's Guide II Excerpt
By Jesse Decker, David Noonan, Chris Thomasson,
James Jacobs, Robin D. Laws



You can never have too many tools, and with the release of the Dungeon Master's Guide II, you will find many more DM tools at your disposal! This book builds upon existing materials in the Dungeon Master's Guide, and you'll find all kinds of things inside that should help facilitate play, especially when you have very limited preparation time. Chapters include discussion on running a game, designing adventures, building and using prestige classes, and creating campaign settings. Ready-made game elements include instant traps, pre-generated locations, treasures, and a fully realized and rendered town. For more excerpts from this book, check out the May 2005 Preview.

Magical Locations as Treasure

Temple of Boccob

Magical locations have a rich history in the fantasy genre. The power imbued in such special places allows heroes to accomplish any number of fantastic deeds.

Locations of power can be used for various purposes within a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. Some, such as the earth nodes described in the Forgotten Realms product Underdark, might serve as sites for the working of especially powerful magic. Others, such as the planar touchstones described in Planar Handbook, might unlock potential advancement opportunities or special abilities in characters. Still others, such as the rune circles described in Races of Stone, could allow PCs to create permanent magical effects bound to tightly confined areas. But as compelling as those ideas are, at least one interesting concept for magical locations remains unexplored -- that of a location imbued with magical power that is available for the taking. The magical locations described in the following sections grant special abilities to qualified characters who brave their particular dangers. Although the prerequisites for these abilities are matched to the character types that most directly and easily benefit from them, almost any character can qualify for a magical location's power. Most of the locations described below confer abilities that are usable only for a specified period, or come with a specific number of uses. All the abilities reflect the nature of the locations from which they originate in some manner. Unlike magic items, magical locations never occur as part of random treasures. They appear only when you place them within the campaign. Therefore, you decide whether or not they are within reach of the PCs. If you wish, you can allow a character created at a level higher than 1st to include one or more special abilities granted by a magical location in his overall wealth. Such powers, however, are even more subject to DM approval than are magic items the character carries.

Placing Magical Locations

You have the final say about where, when, and how magical locations occur within your campaign, just as you control access to magic items by determining which ones are for sale in any given city or shop. Because the various types of magical locations serve different purposes and operate under different rules, it is perfectly acceptable (perhaps even compelling) to combine more than one kind in the same adventure site. For example, a dwarf citadel could house an earth node (from the Underdarksupplement), a rune circle (from Races of Stone), and one of the magical locations described here. The presence of these three sites might result from the nature of the stronghold or the influence of its powerful dwarf mages and clerics, or it might have been the reason that the dwarves settled the area in the first place.

Magical locations offer nearly limitless potential for adventuring. Because they are for the most part immobile (though one or two, such as the terrible cyst, move from time to time), they contrast well with the equally sought after but highly portable magic items that spur so many heroic quests.

Nature of Magical Locations

In general, a magical location can be suppressed (by dispel magic), or even disjoined (by Mordenkainen's disjunction), as if it were a magic item containing a spell of caster level 10th with an object Will save bonus of +15. Such a site is metaphysically tied to its area, so destroying buildings, walls, or other physical structures in and around the location does not eliminate its ability to confer its power.

Unless otherwise specified, no creature can gain the benefit of a magical location's conferred power more than once. Even if the power has limited uses or a fixed duration, a character cannot regain it by returning to the magical location after it expires. Furthermore, once a location has conferred its ability on a character, it must recharge its power for a specified period of time (generally one day to one year, depending on the location) before it can do so again. However, if the creature on which a magical location has conferred its ability dies, the location is instantly recharged and can confer its ability again immediately, no matter how much recharge time remains. A location that can confer its ability on more than one creature before needing to recharge can be renewed early only if all those who currently enjoy the ability die. If the conferred ability has a duration shorter than the required recharge period, the creature's death still recharges the location immediately, even if the creature can no longer use the ability.

Magical Location Descriptions

The magical locations described below are presented in the following format.

Behind the Curtain: Magical Locations as Treasure

Utilizing magical locations as treasure is a great way to provide characters with a new and interesting alternative reward instead of still another +1 longsword. Since magical locations are supplements to regular treasure, each is assigned a gp value, so that its benefits can be directly substituted for treasure that characters would otherwise receive. For instance, if overcoming a particular challenge normally calls for a treasure reward of 5,000 gp, you could substitute a dragonheart tomb(see page 238) whose power affects two PCs (a 2,000 gp value) for part of that amount and award only 3,000 gp worth of standard treasure. Other types of locations, such as touchstones or earth nodes, confer powers that require a character to give up a feat slot or pay some other cost to gain their benefits, so they are not considered to be treasure.

Name of Magical Location

The entry begins with a description of the location in plain language.

Lore: This portion of the description provides any information available to characters about the location, along with the relevant Knowledge DCs necessary to acquire it. Bardic knowledge checks can be substituted for any of these checks at the same DCs.

Description: The first paragraph offers a physical description of the location, written in simple, declarative style. The second paragraph, if present, includes more details about the place (including sounds, smells, and tactile sensations) and details how its magical effect or special ability looks once it's in effect.

Prerequisite: The prerequisites needed to gain the magical location's special ability are detailed here. In addition to meeting these prerequisites, a character must visit the location physically to have any chance of acquiring the special ability it confers.

Location Activation: These paragraphs describe the rules for acquiring and using the special ability that the location bestows. Any command words or activities needed to activate the location's power are also noted here.

Recharge: The time needed for the location to recharge is given in this section.

Special Ability: This entry describes the special ability conferred and gives the rules for using it.

Duration: This section gives the ability's duration or number of uses.

Aura: This line describes the type of magical aura that surrounds the location.

Ability Value: This entry is the gp value of the conferred ability. (These figures are summarized on Table 7-2.) Although these abilities can never be bought or sold, their gp values are provided so that you can track treasure values. You can then substitute these abilities for treasure value on a one-for-one basis, and also track them as part of overall character wealth by adding their values to the value of the character's equipment (see Table 5-1: Character Wealth by Level, page 135 of the Dungeon Master's Guide).

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