5E Sublime - Ideas, Construction

Runehammer released a hack of D&D lately called 5E: HARDCORE MODE. Its very interesting, bridging old school ideas with the more new school styles of play, but still firmly in something brutal, realistic, and traditional. Much of what it does adds a lot of difficulty back into D&D out of hopes that games will lean towards quests to overcome challenges instead of always resorting to raw combat. I won't go into deep detail about how, though some methods of how it does this is: capping players at 10, keeping HP low, streamlining CR, and expecting players to confront things hyper-lethal to them without preparation/research done.

I want to use this as a model to create my own version of D&D (as everyone else has) using some of my work on Rising Legends while also moving in a completely new direction. I also want to draw on my old Saga Style stuff too. The main thing I want, however, is to keep 5E's sub-classes. Sub-classes are, for me, the thing that honestly keeps me playing 5E; I like ever more precise, specific character concepts - which, I know, is kind of heretical to people who usually "trim the fat" from D&D. On top of this, I want to use my own created spellbooks (which I plan to make more of soon) for this. Magic is the reason I play Fantasy; watching how the Weird changes the Normal is the kind of art I'm usually interested in making.

So with those steps outlined, let's look at what I am thinking so far.
Candle
Piotr Foksowicz

5E Sublme is the working name I'm going for. The sublime, in a literary sense, is used to described scenes, characters, events, or stories that are greater than human in a way difficult to understand or comprehend. One never fully notices when they slip into the sublime, but they are always aware that something is sublime around them. Because something is sublime, they cannot escape or look away from it. Instead, they must work with it, enter it, or be destroyed by it.

The sublime is the core of what I like in RPGs. It doesn't have to be magical, it can just be intense humanity, crazy sci-fi concepts, etc. I'd like to think that something like Dungeon Crawl Classics is a pretty sublime game, or Troika!

I've mentioned that I'm using 5E HARDCORE MODE as my model for building this, so there's a few things I want to lift from it to keep. Those are:
  • How hit die + rests work.
  • How monsters + CR now works.
  • How initiative + skill/off skill works.
  • Respawning methods.
  • Level 10 cap.
  • Zones/Movement.
With that in mind, the following are concepts I plan to change/use for 5E Sublime.
  • Class features almost exclusively being sub-class features.
  • Different way of gaining experience.
  • Different way of casting spells.
  • Adding in an Explorer procedure.
  • Making use of 5E's Exhaustion system as a consequence system.
  • Additional survival tool (indomitable). 
Everything not covered by one of these two sets of changes is in the D&D Basic Rules (if you need it).

Saeed Farhangian

Classes are defined in 5E Sublime as methods in which you (the players) enter the world of the sublime. These are the things that make you something greater than human.

Each class comes as a duo-package. There is a version of it more focused on "tricks" and a version more focused on "combat." At 1st level, you gain a class feature. At every even level afterwards, you gain sub-class features. For your sub-class, find your favorite sub-class from that class in your 5E books and use it. If a sub-class grants multiple features at the same level, then you gain all of those features when you learn one of them. For example, if your Sorcerer sub-class learns two features at 6th level in core 5E, you would learn both of these at 4th level in 5E Sublime. If your sub-class wouldn't grant you 5 different levels of features in 5E Sublime, you would instead learn that classes 20th level capstone in core D&D at 10th level.

The Classes Are:
  • Cleric/Paladin - Entering the sublime through faith in a religion, power, creed, or oath.
  • Monk/Disciple - Entering the sublime through internal ki or psionic mutation.
  • Sorcerer/Artificer - Entering the sublime through being born afflicted with magic or knowing how to forge magic into tools.
  • Warlock/Hexer - Entering the sublime through strange pacts or drastic modifications of the self.
Note that all classes are mystical in some way, and that I don't add a thief class. Any of these can be thieves, and 5E Sublime is a game about exploring strange magics and how they effect people, societies, etc. As you progress, you'll get weirder and weirder, more and more sublime, until eventually you hit level 10 or otherwise die for good.

The Hexer uses Matt Mercer's Blood Hunter 2020 for its sub-class options. I changed the name to fit an aesthetic I prefer.

In the above class list, classes on the left side are considered Mystics, while those on the right side are considered Warlords. This is important to remember just for keeping up with stuff below.

Class progression is as thus:
  1. First class feature. Mystics start with 3 spells of a tradition. Warlords have a fighting style + 2 attacks.
  2. Sub-class feature(s).
  3. Mystics automatically learn 3 more spell of a known tradition. Warlords gain 1 Indomitable use.
  4. Sub-class feature(s).
  5. Mystics +3 spell of a tradition. Warlords +1 Indomitable use.
  6. Sub-class feature(s).
  7. M +3 spell of a tradition. W +1 Indomitable use.
  8. Sub-class feature(s).
  9. M +3 spell of a tradition. W +1 Indomitable use.
  10. Sub-class feature(s) OR (if not viable) class capstone feature.
A tradition is a tradition of spellcasting. This is the broad term given to spellbooks I've developed and have used so far. An example is my recent blogpost on the Plane of Lightning and the magical tradition that stems from it. Keep in note that Mystics can learn spells by finding them/being taught in addition to leveling up. Warlords can learn spells through the same means. Adventuring to learn new magic is one of the core reasons to adventure in 5E Sublime.

Indomitable is a feature taken from the core Fighter class . Once per rest, a Warlord class can dig deep into themselves to overcome a failed saving throw. I choose this as their special gain as I like the aesthetic of these kinds of characters somehow, through a method no one else can, just shaking off the effects of some supernatural hazard or other doom.

You gain a level through earning experience. Experience is earned by taking on sublime challenges. All things, from monsters to traps to riddles and puzzles, should have a CR attached to them. Using 5E HARDCORE's math, you get experience from something equal to CR x 200. All other 5E HARDCORE CR guidelines are in use, streamlining the numbers needed to overcome these challenges.

Mystics require the following experience to gain levels:
  1. 0
  2. 300
  3. 900
  4. 2300
  5. 6500
  6. 14,000
  7. 23,000
  8. 31,000
  9. 37,000
  10. 40,000
Warlords require the following experience to gain levels:
  1. 0
  2. 200
  3. 600
  4. 1800
  5. 4200
  6. 6000
  7. 11,000
  8. 18,000
  9. 24,000
  10. 30,000
As it takes longer to level, your Proficiency bonus increases a bit faster. Starting at +2, it increases by 1 every three levels after, to a maximum of +5.


White Woods
Irina Nordsol Kuzmina
Spells and magic items and weird shit are the core of the game. Finding this stuff is the real reward. Experience is for you to get more tools to find cooler stuff so that you can dig deeper into the sublime on your adventures.

All classes have spellcasting as an inherent feature. Manifesting a spell is rough on the body; thus, you can only cast as many spells as you have HD. Once you run out, you must finish a long rest to regain all uses. If you have a feature that uses spellslots, it instead uses one of your spell castings for the day. If you are out of spell slots, you can risk your life to cast a spell instead. Roll 2d6 + your Proficiency bonus. On a 10 or higher, you cast a spell. On a 9 or lower, you cast the spell but lose hit points = to the amount under 10. So, if you cast a spell with no castings left and roll a 5, you lose 5 hit points. The spell will cast, even if this kills you.

You can learn additional spells on an adventure through a number of ways. If you find a master, you can buy an education from them (either through favors, wealth, or magical items). If you find scrolls, you can decipher them and try to teach yourself (though if you ever use the scroll, note that it is destroyed in the casting!). Every tradition has its own guidelines for how long it takes to learn a spell through it. Once that time has passed, you have to make a check. The DC for the check is 15 + the Spell's level. The roll made is d20 + Proficiency bonus + Int or Wis or Cha modifier (determined by class). If you fail, something about you changes internally; you cannot attempt to relearn the spell for a year and a day after failing. 

Pilgrim
Tomas Osang Muir

Exhaustion is key! Exhaustion is my favorite mechanic in 5E and it has gone underutilized for too long!

Primarily, exhaustion is inflicted in 5E Sublime through new ways to add challenges to exploration.
  1. When a saving throw is failed against a trap or hazard, a player can elect to take 1 level of exhaustion instead of suffering damage.
  2. When a player fails their check to cast a spell without having any spellcastings left, they can elect to take 1 level of exhaustion instead of suffering damage.
  3. When a player suffers more than 10 damage from a single attack or effect, they can elect to take 1 level of exhaustion and halve the incoming damage.
  4. Some traps or hazards or other effects may simply just inflict exhaustion instead of other banes.
Exhaustion is removed in the standard ways; however, if a player rests for 20-24 hours at once (essentially a full day), they can remove all levels of exhaustion. This should be difficult to achieve! A player having a full day of rest is subject to the danger of being discovered, of dungeons or areas resetting, or of losing an opportunity to gain something important!

Thomas Scholes
Exploration feels bad to me in 5E. It took me a long time to finally say this but after years of playing the game, I absolutely hate exploration in it. This is because, unironically, time is so fluid normally that I'm not sure how to go about it in a standard game of 5E core. Below is my solution to this (after trying many, many, many different methods...)
  • Decide if you are either Crawling (IE in a dungeon or similar area) or Ranging (IE in open wilderness or a ship).
  • If Crawling, a round is 10 minutes. If Ranging, a round is 1 day.
  • When a round starts, explain everything they see. If a player's passive Perception beats the DC for finding something, they should automatically find that thing.
  • On every player's turn, ask them what they are doing. Do not resolve these actions yet. This should be stuff that achieves a single task, like finding clean water, hunting, preparing food, searching for possible places to camp, investigating, etc.
  • At the end of the round, have all players roll any ability checks needed and introduce any hazards, complications, or dangers. Everything happens at once for tension and adding weight to decisions.
  • If a hazard/complication/danger has appeared, resolve it before beginning the next Crawling/Ranging round.
  • When a new round starts, ask the players where they've moved (to a new hex or point, to a new dungeon room, a new zone, etc) and start the process over.
Keeping track of time lets me keep track of all the basic stuff like dehydration etc. I can apply exhaustion for penalties more easily, add more nuance to traveling, and so on. This is basic stuff, just stripped down in a way to use with 5E.

Encumbrance is mentioned too, but not in 5E's atomic detail. Your Constitution ability score + your Intelligence modifier = how many slots you have. This is because your body's constitution determines how much you can load it with, and your intelligence is how smartly you pack your stuff. You need a bag to carry; if you don't have a bag, chest, etc, you can only carry stuff in your hands or wear it.
  • Armors and large things use 5 slots if not worn.
  • Weapons + shields use 2 slots if not held.
  • Meals, gallons of liquid, coin purses, and all other things are 1 slot (within reason).

Anato Finnstark
So what's next? 

Next blogpost in this series, I'll go over the 8 classes, their 1st level abilities, their saving throws, and talk about how I wanna do races. After that, its a matter of playtesting this stuff and making more spellbooks and challenges. I'm not sure if I'll ever publish this ruleset, but at the very least I'll condense it one day for ease of giving to my players. 

The Plane of Lightning & Thoughts - Fulmens - Spells of the Storm-Wracked Noosphere

In conjunction with a good friend of mine I'm helping start the Planescape challenge. For those too lazy to click the link just now, its essentially a re-imagining of various planes, but instead of directly waxing poetic about them, they are informed via the various kinds of magic that stem from them. My choice of plane was the Plane of Lightning.

Note: I'm considering one day maybe publishing these spellbooks, or making some kind of game around them. Is that something readers of this blog would be interested in?
MIGTHY THOR
Eric Tualle
First, some context.

The Noosphere is the term given to that untouchable, unknowable plane of existence where all ideas, thoughts, dreams, and impulses are drawn from. As a place, it is alive. It crackles with synaptic static, leaves the skin tingling with the electric flash of ideas both good and bad. This is why the Plane of Lightning is so oft called the Noosphere, as they are, in truth, both one and the same. After all, how does the brain communicate if not through electricity?

Thus, the Plane of Lightning, the Noosphere - think of it as the ever-dreaming mind of the universe itself. 

Neurons
Glen Johnson
A closer idea to how the Plane of Lightning might look
Drawing on the Plane of Lightning for your magic is a dangerous affair. In order to be properly initiated into these esoteries, one must perform a certain ritual.

Take a small nail of silver, pure silver, silver newly fashioned into this shape and cleansed in water purified utterly. Take this nail and insert it into the roof of your mouth, slowly. It will hurt. You will bleed. Reduce your hit points by 2 permanently. Find a storm and there, meditate. Think. Do nothing but think. Think as it rages and ensure no rain is falling, lest you call the attention of a different, more diluted plane. Ensure that Jupiter, or your settings equivalent, is bright in the sky just beyond the clouds. Think on things you do not know. Wonder. Muse.

Eventually, the lightning shall strike. Drawn by your thoughts and the silver in your mouth is this bolt slung from a dimension beyond our own and when it falls it stakes its way into you forever and always. Your mind will be overwhelmed. Your thoughts will be wiped from your brain, alongside your fears, your hopes, your ideals; this state is fleeting, of course, no longer than a second's sliver, but in that second your brain will become the host of the Plane of Lightning.

As it is a plane, it can exist in many places at once. While it is there, you will feel it. You will know it. Roll on the Fulmen's Omen table below to see how exactly your ascendancy into a Fulmen (as those so enlightened call themselves).

Fulmen's Omen
  1. The air around you smells of charged ozone, and animals scurry as your anger rises.
  2. When you speak, others hear peals of thunder far off in the distance, as if a storm neared.
  3. When others look at you, their thoughts are mixed with the thoughts of peoples and creatures somewhere far away.
  4. People close to you feel an electric shock whenever they touch someone else.
  5. When you are injured, the sound of buzzing, crackling, or hissing fills the ears of those around you, growing louder the more you are hurt.
  6. Metal objects within 30" feet of you let off a soft, pale blue-white glow - St. Elmo's Fire.
  7. When your eyes fall on someone, the hairs along their arms and neck stand up on end.
  8. When you see someone you intend to hurt, the hair on their head begins to raise.
  9. Intrusive thoughts bloom in the minds of everyone who touches you.
  10. Those talking with you feel as if they are experiencing a constant stream of new ideas.
  11. When you feel threatened, whoever is threatening you feels as if their teeth were vibrating.
  12. Those who you hurt feel as if they can speak a new language, know a new skill, or do a task they never had the knowledge to do so before. This is fleeting; it disappears after a moment's notice.
When you become a Fulmen, you learn a single Fulmen's Secret. You learn an additional Fulmen's Secret every 15 Fame, if you repeat the meditation process of the ritual 1 month after the first, or (if your system of choice has it) you gain 2 levels. You can learn a Fulmen's Secret of a higher level if you know 1 secret of the level immediately lower.

If you repeat the meditation ritual, your hit points are reduced by 1 each time. Getting struck by lightning repeatedly, even if magic, does little for one's health.

There are other ways to learn Fulmen Secrets. Traveling to the Plane of Lightning (& Thoughts), though dangerous to the extreme, is something that Master Fulmens oft do in the later years of their lives. Likewise, by stealing the silver nail from a Fulmen's mouth and performing the entire ritual over with that nail, you can learn all the secrets they knew. Doing so, however, means that you lose whatever secrets you both did not know.

"Argus Filch, the shadow Necromancer"
Nicolas Camiade
A Fulmen who has dabbled in other magics too.

THE FULMEN'S SECRETS

Names & Levels (using standard B/X spell levels to determine what kinds of slots to use)
Roll 1d3 when learning a Fulmen's Secret to see which you grasp from the Plane of Lightning

First Level
  1. How to Become Wise as All the World's Sages
  2. St. Elmo's Fire Turned Upon Those Who Dare to Know What They Do Not
  3. The Painful Art of Forking Thoughts Into the Unenlightened
Second Level
  1. Attract Those Crackling Thoughts that Evade You Still
  2. Dim the Stars that Fork Into Endless Logics
  3. Enrage Those Mindless Mortal Heavens
Third Level
  1. Cast the Storm Across Mountains & Memories
  2. The Secret to Erasing All Knowledge of the Sageless Heretics
  3. Turn Thy Muscles Into Countless Thoughts

DESCRIPTIONS - FIRST LEVEL

How to Become Wise as All the World's Sages
Close your eyes and see naught but the roiling storm behind them. See flashes of lightning - of brilliance - and call one to you. Your hair stands up on end. Your eyes, still closed, glow so brightly they shine from behind your eyelids. All who see you see a bolt of lightning fork its way down from the heavens and into your body. Your veins burn blue through your skin; open your eyes then, and you will have a sage-like understanding of one academic, magical, or practical topic of your choice. You cannot speak to share this knowledge. If you do, the lightning escapes from your mouth and you lose your blessings. Lasts for as long as your mouth is kept shut. Some Fulmens even stitch their mouths to ensure they never lose their wisdoms.

St. Elmo's Fire Turned Upon Those Who Dare to Know What They Do Not
Lift your left palm skywards, for the left is that which masters the occult. See before you creatures that have blood, or else have iron or copper or some other metal inside of them, no matter how trace the amounts. Whisper. Whisper and close your eyes and see the storm and see them inside the storm. You do not know what you are whispering; only that there is sound coming from your mouth, and to others it sounds as if faint, distant, echoing peals of thunder are slipping past your lips. Open your eyes and see that everyone you just envisioned is glowing a faint, pale, cobalt blue. They do not know this, nor does any other non-Fulmen. Whenever you sleep, you shall enter into their mind; you will know all that they know for as long as you do, and if you wish, you can grant them knowledge that you yourself have. If you grant them knowledge, there is a 70% chance that portions of their brain are overloaded by the introduced static, making them forget 1d6 important details or memories that they know. If both Fulmen and victim are sleeping, their dreams are yours to control.

The Painful Art of Forking Thoughts Into the Unenlightened
Hold out your hand, aimed as it is towards the source of your ire. Let your emotions cascade into brilliant strikes of lightning inside of your head. Hear the echoing, pealing, roaring, angry thunders. Draw on the noosphere; hunt for information on how to kill, how to butcher, how to murder. In a flash of brilliance it comes to you; a lightning bolt drops into your hands, screaming, screeching, and in that moment you must fork it into that creature that you hate. When it strikes, the creature knows all the knowledge you just hunted for. It fixates on one method of murder. Then, that method happens. Perhaps their throat opens up just the perfect way to make a Glasglow smile. Maybe their bones suddenly break as they learn the appropriate number of hammer strikes that it takes. There is a  70% chance that they survive. And if they do, the knowledge remains with them, forever; a way to make assassins, if one has ample bodies for the coinflip.

ACHILLES
Marta Nael.
What I imagine to be a Fulmen, enhanced with some crystal, preparing to create their assassins.

DESCRIPTIONS - SECOND LEVEL

Attract Those Cackling Thoughts that Evade You Still
Lift your left hand skywards, occult wand that it is. You know so little about the reality around you. But someone must. Think on what you do not know and create the cackling display. Every living creature within 1 mile and with an open roof above their heads will emit from their crowns a bolt of lightning that slings and slithers through the air to be gathered into an orb held in the palm of your hand. It burns away the skin there, singes the flesh; these are wounds that will heal supernaturally within 1d4 days time, but until they do you can hold nothing else with this limb. Now, with the lightning gathered, watch as it turns into a bolt of lightning that strikes you thusly. You will learn, from the minds of those you have sought:
  • Their location.
  • How to perform the skills they know best.
  • Who they love the most.
  • Who they hate the most.
Your personality is destroyed. You can learn nothing else, lest your brain be turned to ash. Memories will not take while this knowledge is held inside of you, but you can repeat the information freely, perhaps to a scribe to record it, or another Fulmen to learn it. Lasts for 8 seconds for every lightning bolt you have consumed through the casting of this spell. 

Dim the Stars that Fork Into Endless Logics
Choose an individual that you can clearly see. Point to them with your left hand, palm facing the ground. Lower it. Slowly. Steadily. Your arm aches. The individual will turn their attention towards you entirely but will not move. The star that is their mind dims. Intelligence spills out of them; the ozone smells, their hair rises on end, metal objects begin to glow with St. Elmo's fire that they hold. Once your hand is flat by your hip, the spell is done. 30% chance of success and if so, they are a catatonic mess, totally incapable, drooling, tongue lolling out of their mouth, unresponsive to any and all stimuli. But the moment you move your hand more than 5 degrees in any direction, their star flares and intelligence returns to them. Useful for the binding of immortals; many a Fulmen has an apprentice bind their arm to their sides so that djinn or angels or demons work not their terrible works upon the world.

Enrage Those Mindless Mortal Heavens
All lightning that is not inside the Plane of Lightning is mortal lightning. It is mindless, stupid. Easily enraged. Close your eyes. Feel the storm beating against the inside of your skull. For just the briefest of moments, let it out. A wave of skin-tingling and invisible electricity will race from your body, felt for ten miles out. In the heavens above does the storm come suddenly. Bolts of lightning will fall to the ground haphazardly and non-stop for as long as your eyes are kept closed. For every minute there is a 2% chance of someone beyond yourself being struck by a bolt of lightning, doubling for every additional minute that passes. If struck by a bolt of lightning, a creature's mind is scrambled; they will become enraged and mindlessly run about attacking everything and everyone but the Fulmen until the caster's eyes are opened. Objects struck by lightning are sundered; if wooden, they ignite.


Oliver Mootoo
A Fulmen gathering knowledge, for better or for worse.

DESCRIPTIONS - THIRD LEVEL

Cast the Storm Across Mountains & Memories
See your victim. Inhale. Deeply. More deeply still. Your victim will feel then as if they have been struck by lightning. They will know your thoughts. They will know your intent. As they try to stop you, exhale. The storm inside your skull sends a budding piece of it across time and thought directly into the mind of your chosen servant. They may mentally fight back. As they struggle, repeat this ritual - simple as it is - and finish what you have started. 10% chance of failure. When you succeed, their brains have been utterly replaced with a sliver of the Plane of Lightning - your Plane of Lightning. In all ways are they now a mental clone of you. They know they are a budded thoughtform inhabiting a body of your choice and that they come from you. Your mind-clone will serve you in all ways. The original mind is gone, set adrift in the Plane of Lightning. Only by traveling there and capturing their lightning in a bottle can you restore them.

The Secret to Erasing All Knowledge of the Sageless Heretics
Grab your victim. Kiss them. As you do so, you create a bridge between your Plane of Lightning and their brain. In that moment, every single neuron they have is attuned to the infinite inside you. Choose which to kill. You are erasing vital information from their mind. Burning those neurons to cinders so that it literally can never be used again. Steal their ability to keep their heart beating, or their lungs filling with oxygen, and so on. A perfect assassination tool, used as such throughout Fulmen history. If used on another Fulmen, begins a tug-of-war between them; the two must say a word back and forth to each other, each taking a turn. The first to finish a sentence obliterates a chosen bit of knowledge in the other's mind that has less letters then the sentence does. A complicated affair - one oft avoided by Fulmens against each other to avoid the hassle.

Turn Thy Muscles Into Countless Thoughts
Be obliterated by your own Plane of Lightning. Let loose mental blocks you did not even know were there. It will flood your body. Your muscles will be destroyed, your skeleton too, every fiber of who you are. In a flash you are gone. And in a flash, you return. The lightning created assembles the perfect form. You levitate inches off of the ground. You are androgynous. You glow with sacred genius lightning. When you move, you move as fast as a lightning bolt does - or perhaps as fast as thought. You cannot be hurt save by silver or another's lightning. You need not eat, drink, nor sleep. Never again will you wear armor or wield a weapon or tool or touch another. In your mouth, your silver stake is still there. If it is ever removed, your form dissipates; you become one with the Plane of Lightning and disappear from all other worlds forever more. A method of ascension used by Fulmens to enter the Plane of Lightning and learn secrets that cannot be contained by mortal bodies - the secrets of the 4th level.

Dr.Manhattan - Garry Galler
Gary Galler
What else, but an Ascended Fulmen?
Apotheosis of Lightning & of Thought

FULMEN ARTIFACTS

Argentate Wand
Rod made of bones from the left hands of spellcasters. Covered in pure silver. Attracts lightning and Fulmen's Secrets and redirects them to someone else around the wielder. Created in the East, where all Fulmens were hunted and killed.

Deliberation Coil
A coil of plastic, wood, and silver. Hand held. Attracts a single bolt of lightning and then forks it into 8 or less people within 10 feet of it. Each person struck is continuously struck; while continuously struck, all gathered can communicate with each other in ideas, visions, and thoughts- a method far faster than verbal communication.

Fulmen's Stake
Silver stake, covered in blood-rust. Belonged to a now dead or now powerless spellcaster. Insert into your mouth and learn 1 random Fulmen's Secret.

Ideation Cloak
This cloak of wool has the static thoughts of dead Fulmens contained within it. Any who touch it are shocked. If worn, an hour later, one's body is in tune with this, and no longer shocked. Increases the efficiency of one's brain, making them more apt to learn new ideas, skills, and other talents.

Knowledge Stake
Long silver stakes inserted into the hands, eyes, feet, and sternum. For each stake inserted, increase the % chance of success for your Fulmen's Secrets by 10% and become unable to use that part of your body save for spellcasting. If inserted in the sternum, suffer from a heart attack and die within 10d100 days instead. Inserted by Fulmens who know their time is short or that a great obstacle looms before them.

Looking Mask
A cloth mask covered in a reflective substance. When worn, Fulmen Secrets cannot effect you. The mask is reflective of the outside world. Worn whenever Fulmens schedule meetings with one another, and taken off to show respect and comfortably. 

Noo Quartz
Crystals that grow naturally when a lightning strike occurs. The lightning is not mortal; it is, somehow, from the Plane of Lightning. Grows into organic matter. Increases success rates of spells by 1% for every crystal growing on a Fulmen.

Potion Catatonia
Potion made from a Fulmen's blood, captured lightning, and air from the Plane of Lightning. Once mixed, forms a moving, shifting helix in its bottle - a liquid that feels like a gas and moves like a crawling solid. When consumed, reduces brain activity to a minimum, putting the consumer into a coma for 1d4 days. Fulmens have made many tools to destroy their would-be killers. A hint to what happens to mortals who visit the Plane of Lightning unprepared.

Speculation Censer
A censer of black glass. Melt pure silver in it. Breathe in the fumes. Allows you to communicate with a Fulmen who has ascended to the Plane of Lightning. Ask them questions for as long as you remain conscious, though the silver fumes will surely knock you out in 10d10 seconds. Used to make pacts with the Thought Lords, the Neural Gods, and the Genius Fulmens of ages long past.

Storm Razors
A pair of argentate wands with a bolt of lightning cackling between them, trapped. Wield both as a melee weapon. Swing them and anything they touch is electrocuted. Catch something between them and watch as the lightning obliterates them. 1d12 damage per turn touched or trapped. Used as an execution tool by Fulmens on those who broke pacts with the Thought Lords.

Tablet Cerebrations
A silver tablet. When in the presence of electricity, St. Elmo's fire radiates on it, revealing a map or words and instructions. Used by Fulmens to hide their now extinct orders from their hunters & destroyers.

Wisdom Bottle
Glass bottle made with traces of silver from Fulmen Stakes. Attracts lightning when uncorked. Can a single bolt of lightning, mortal or not. When uncorked, lashes out against whoever the bottle is pointed at and fades.

Storm is coming
Piotr Foksowicz
Follow the storm to follow the Fulmen.

Alignment - Short Essay

In Eberron: Rising from the Last War, we learn that a big difference between this world and the rest of the multiverse is that alignment is not an actual force that exists. This was very intriguing to me, because that means that in other D&D settings, alignment is a literal thing, not a concept, nor a state of mind. In other words, the planes influence creatures, making them evil or good or neutral, lawful or chaotic or neutral. It is as set in their existence as their species, as it resides in their very souls. And while it can be changed, this change requires magic or it requires extraordinary circumstances, as it is a change on a deep spiritual level.
No photo description available.

I like this. I like it a lot.
Not because I think it mirrors the real world, as it doesn't, but it opens up a lot of themes for me to start playing with. Before I get into those themes, let me go ahead and describe what each alignment means to me. Note: this is not the actual definition of alignments, and I'm not trying to debate what alignment is in canon. I'm discussing what alignment means to me and in my games.
Lawful - The need to organize, for stability, and for peace. Does not shake the boat, and fights primarily to keep the world put together in a way that allows for consistent life + a consistency in achieving a net positive.
Chaos - Raw passion unfettered, leading to constant change, the chasing of ideals and hopes and dreams, not caring for peace or stability because it is always worth it to go for a new high.
Good - The manifest need to help selflessly help others. An impulse to ensure that others are happy, that the greater good is served, that no one feels played or screwed over, for everyone to be content when all is said or done.
Evil - Hatred gone into overdrive. A hatred for the world, a need to inflict suffering so that others understand your own pain. A rage that burns and doesn't care about equality or true justice, instead wanting to selfishly get what you need, no matter the cost to others.
Demons
 by Anthony Jones
Evil feels like an infestation; worms in the apple of your brain
Neutrality - A balance between the selfish and the selfless. Understanding that in life there is good and there is evil, there is happiness and their is suffering, and that both can occur. Realization that one's alignment is not 100% descriptive, and that even evil may do good at times, and vice versa.
Unaligned - The vast majority of souls, when born, go to plants and beasts. These souls, overwhelming in number, know no alignment; they simply exist, biology dominating spirituality, living and dying and being reborn eternally until evolution comes.
So with this said, the theme I see being made manifest is this: Is it more noble to be born a saint, or to overcome one's nature for good? There is redemption in the Forgotten Realms and in other D&D multiverse games. The evil can rise, the good can fall, the law can descend into chaos, the chaotic can be forced into law. As these forces interplay with one another it is the player characters who are caught in this game of cosmic flux; a game where devils and angels compete for souls in their wars, an endless trial where they must contend with the spiritual force of their souls which weighs in on every action they do.
Will the barbarian find peace, leaving the chaotic battlefields and instead settling down into an orderly village?
Will the warlock be able to resist the evil of their Fiend patron and once again come to love others?
Will the paladin succumb to their hatred and choose to use their oath selfishly to punish others?
These are overarching things that I think alignment can question and make D&D into a pretty good story. Similar to Burning Wheel's beliefs, D&D alignment, under this lens, becomes a way to challenge the characters and to make the story very focused on their actions.
Image result for redemption fantasy art
Spirit Healer from WoW.
Good is an energy to selflessly help others.
To go with this requires a little bit of worldbuilding. If I want to use this, then alignment has to be a force with origin. Naturally the planes are those origins. You have the Elemental Chaos, where the power of Law has seen it split into countless half-planes. You have planes where chaos and law both overflow, where law and good fountainhead, and both spill into the prime material planes across the cosmos. At higher levels, or maybe lower ones depending on the story, these planes should play some vital roles in the player's adventures. It is from here that their souls are decided. It is to here they must eventually go if they wish to change themselves truly.
Lastly, we have to talk about Free Will. Does free will still exist in a world where alignment is a force? Well, that depends on your definition of Free Will. Alignment does not control you, but it does tempt you. Alignment does not remove agency. Instead, it is a constant reminder, an impulse, a voice or hand guiding your actions. You can resist it. You can fight back. And by fighting back, that is how you can possibly change your soul. Can nature overcome nurture? Can nurture overcome nature? Is there a balance between the two? These are things that are decided by the players, not the DM.