March 9, 2018

College of the Forbidden Play

Bardic College
Comments from the Finger:

I listen to a lot of podcasts -- it’s part of my daily routine and honestly my writing process. I've always believed that you have to consume good writing to output good writing, whether you're reading or listening. That's why I'm so damn excited to get to listen to Hero Club again!
     HERO CLUB is a D&D podcast that has loads of production value poured into it, giving it the same appeal of a high-quality radio drama. If you're not normally into D&D podcasts (or you're just a snob who wants the very best of them) this one is for you.
     Hero Club's new season comes out on March 20th, so mark your calendars! I don't know much yet, but I know it involves Lovecraftian horror, which is very much something we enjoy around here. 

Subscribe now on iTunes and check out their previous season, the Fight Before Christmas. (Also, you can find them HERE, if you're not an iTunes person.)
     This bard should get you in the mood to listen to some Lovecraftian horror:

College of the Forbidden Play

How can you describe that masterful stage play? Its compelling characters, its engrossing setting, and its enigmatic motifs wormed their way into your brain as soon as you read them. You only read an excerpt―little more than a fragmentary passage on decaying parchment―but its effect on you was none the lesser. For weeks afterward, you dreamed of the enigma at the center of the play, the dreaded King in Yellow, and strained your mind to imagine the play's conclusion and the secrets left untold in its earlier acts.
     Soon you had resolved yourself: the play should be made complete. Donning a yellow mask and clutching tightly to your carcosan page, you took the first of many steps to join the College of the Forbidden Play. This college, very much a disparate troupe of actors, seeks to compile the play in its entirety and act out its scenes, no matter what horrors they might entail.

Dramatic Flair
Starting when you choose this college at 3rd level, you convince others with an actor's flourish. When you make an ability check to interact with another creature, you can spend a Bardic Inspiration die to make a Charisma (Performance) check as well. If this Performance check is beats the ability check's DC, you succeed as if the ability check was successful.

Pale Masque
By 3rd level, much like the Yellow King, you wear a mask that grants you intrinsic anonymity. Before you socially interact with a humanoid while wearing the mask, you can use your action to cloud its thoughts. The target creature makes a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC. On a failed save, the creature will not remember any details about you, nor will it remember any details of the conversation you have for the next minute. Once you use this ability, you can't use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Unsettling Imitation
Starting at 6th level, you can use your bonus action to adopt the demeanor of a creature you can see within 60 feet. Until the beginning of your next turn, you emulate that creature's actions, copying its motions and moving at the same moment.
     Whenever the target moves, you can also move up to the same distance. If the target attacks, you can use your reaction to make one melee weapon attack. If the target casts a spell, you can use your reaction to cast a cantrip. A humanoid target has disadvantage on attack rolls against you, and you have advantage on saving throws against effects it causes.

Inverted Yellow Sign
By 14th level, at long last, you have connected the tenuous threads of the Lost City of Carcosa, the enigmatic Yellow King, and his yellow sign. You can cast the spell yellow sign as if it were a bard spell for you. This spell doesn’t count against your spells known.
     Additionally, you can invert this sign when you cast the spell, paradoxically impelling all who see it to become infatuated with you. When you do so, instead of the normal effects of the spell, each creature within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, for the next minute, a creature can’t willingly move further away from you and has disadvantage on attack rolls against you. A creature can repeat this saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

New Spell
The following spell is derived from forbidden knowledge and secrets lost to man.

Yellow Sign
3rd-level evocation
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous
You trace in the air the insidious symbol from Lost Carcosa, the yellow sign, where it hangs for a long moment in a sickening yellow light. Each creature you choose within 30 feet of the sign must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 6d6 psychic damage, or half as much on a successful save. Aberrations take no damage from this spell. The sign fades at the end of your turn.
     At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, the yellow sign lingers longer in the air. The duration of this spell increases by one round for each slot level above 3rd and requires that you maintain concentration on it. If this spell is active at the beginning on your turn, you can use your action to cause each creature within range to make another saving throw against it, taking damage as normal on a failed save.

3/10/18: Spell: Yellow Sign: When cast at higher levels, takes your action


  1. lol at first i thought this was another siegeball archetype because magic is forbidden, and this bard was the master of the "Forbidden plays" such as enchanting the siegeball or something

    1. I've officially broken my audience. You're seeing siegeball even where there isn't any!

    2. He's not the only one, I thought that too

    3. My mind went in a completely different direction...The Finger can confirm that my first comment boiled down to this being the kinky bard. :P (I initially read it as "The College of Forbidden Play")

    4. Bards can't love monsters! That's forbidden love!

    5. Hey, theres One Love man... And its Universal! Kappa!

  2. Not the first lovecraftian bard, but a good one nonetheless. Plus, it sucked me into the black hole of Wikipedia for about two hours that involved the king in yellow, Hastur, Cthulhu, and somehow eventually the Tarrasque.

    Two small issues:
    1) in Unsettling Imitation: "A humanoid target" should be "If the target is a humanoid"
    2) The Yellow Sign seems WAY overpowered at higher levels, dealing 6d6 per turn to several creatures.

    1. To be fair, Sunbeam lasts for 1 minute as a 6th Level Spell. I think makin Yellow Sign a Bonus Action to use in subsequent turns, plus concentration, would level it out.

    2. RAW, you only get to choose targets for the first instance of damage, after that it's just an AOE.

    3. I agree making it a bonus action to getting closer, though I wonder if making it an action to maintain would be even better. Alternatively, I can keep it as is, and simply bump the level scaling to one additional round of duration for every /two/ slot levels above 3rd.

    4. What about something that could balance it /and/ be cool flavor-wise? I propose that you should keep it as-is, but if the caster's concentration is broken it deals maybe 6d6 damage to them (the caster).

    5. I think this would be cool, because it kind of captures the vibe that lovecraftian magic is both powerful and dangerous for the user.

    6. Dealing damage to the caster is already a thing with the series of Dead Mist spells in the Lovecraft Handbook.

    7. Extra round for every two levels puts it on par with immolation at 5th level, but dealing damage to many creatures of your choice instead of one.
      Using your action to maintain makes it like call lightning, dealing damage to more creatures but for a shorter time. I'd say this is the better option.

  3. too much OP Unsettling Imitation

  4. Just a couple of small notes
    With Dramatic Flair, at which point in the ability check can a player decide to use it? My first instinct is after the roll but before they find out the result, but it's not clear on the page whether that's your intention.
    With Unsettling Imitation I think the last sentence is a bit dicey; it might just be me but the first couple of times I read it it sounded almost like any humanoid that attacked an imitating player would suffer the effects. If I might suggest instead 'If the target is humanoid it has disadvantage on attack rolls against you, and you have advantage on saving throws against effects it causes.'
    Besides those little niggles I absolutely love it, I'm a sucker for well implemented eldritch horror

  5. At first i thought it said "College of the Scottish Play" and thought it would go in a completely different direction.

  6. I like the fact they are obviously a cultist, but they think of the eldritch prophecies as scripts for a play.