The Workshop – Spellbrands (D&D 5E)

The melee swirled about Jorrin like a storm of blood and death. The battle cries of both his enemies and countrymen had given way to primal screams of terror from the wounded and dying, clear even above the clash of steel as sword crashed against sword. He knew they were losing ground. The enemy force had them outnumbered by half again as many men, and they were true soldiers. The fury of his clansmen was strong enough to break a less professional force, but their rage had spent itself early this day, leaving them exhausted and even less coordinated than usual. They had broken like a wave against their foes’ shield walls. As for Jorrin, well, he was trying to survive his present engagement with an enemy soldier. The barbarian was bigger and stronger, but his opponent had more conventional training, and it was beginning to show. He had let the barbarian tire himself out before going on the offensive. Jorrin was finding it harder and harder to counter the soldier’s moves which seemed to be picking up speed and power as his own strength flagged. He grimaced and grunted in pain as a sword thrust came too close for comfort, slicing across his right bicep, a new line of crimson springing into existence from the ruptured flesh. Jorrin staggered a few steps backwards. He wasn’t out of the fight yet. He briefly closed his eyes and relaxed a small mental barrier he had been holding. The tattoo underneath his new wound pulsed with energy, the magical inks that had gone into its creation glowing with power as he allowed them to complete the spell. He raised his hand towards his opponent and several darts of magical energy streaked out of his fingertips. The soldier tried to raise his shield to defend against the sudden magical attack, but the bolts simply moved around it. One. Two. Three. Each of the bolts took the soldier in the chest one after the other. Each impact drove him back a step and the third sent him collapsing to the ground. He did not get back up. Jorrin took a few seconds to catch his breath, activating another tattoo that was printed across his chest. It pulsed with similar energy as the other one, but this time the magical energy flowed inward sealing up several of the smaller wounds he had received in his battle against the soldier and restoring his vitality. He took a quick scan of the battlefield to see where he was needed before moving to help one of his countrymen who had suddenly found himself outnumbered…

Spellbrands are a new magic item similar in concept to a spell scroll that can be introduced into your Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition game. However, instead of imprinting the spell onto parchment, the spell is translated into a special design and tattooed into a living being’s flesh, bonding the magical inks with the person’s life force to permanently inscribe the magic into the wearer. They are time consuming and expensive to create, but they can grant magical ability to those that traditionally don’t have access, giving those classes a decisive edge against opponents, and placing an additional trick up the sleeve of any caster that chooses to wear one.

Any Cleric or Wizard spell of 6th level or lower with a casting time of 1 action or less may be turned into a Spellbrand. Anything longer is too complex to turn into a tattoo. The wearer of a Spellbrand does not need to use any verbal, somatic, or material components, nor do they need to be able to cast the spell on their own (or have access to any spellcasting classes). They do however, need to meet the minimum level requirement before they can use the Spellbrand. They can have the tattoo placed on their body, but they will be unable to use its power until they meet the minimum level required to use the Spellbrand.







A single person may only wear up to three active Spellbrands. If they receive a fourth Spellbrand, one of the previous three ceases to function, becoming inert. The wearer decides which Spellbrand becomes inert. Furthermore, a single person cannot have more levels of spells stored within his Spellbrands than he possesses Hit Dice. If he receives a Spellbrand that would bring his total level of spells above his Hit Dice, the magic contained within remains inert until his Hit Dice equal the number of spell levels contained within his Spellbrands. Cantrips count as 1 spell level for purposes of this calculation.

Example: Jorrin is a 5th level barbarian with a Spellbrand of cure wounds, and a Spellbrand of flaming sphere. He gets a Spellbrand of lightning bolt crafted to commemorate a recent victory in battle. This brings the combined spell level across all of his Spellbrands to 6, which is higher than his 5 Hit Dice. The lightning bolt Spellbrand remains inert until he reaches 6th level.

If the spell contained within the Spellbrand requires an attack roll, the wearer uses his proficiency bonus plus his Intelligence (if a wizard spell) or Wisdom (if a cleric spell) modifier. If the spell grants the target a saving throw, the DC is equal to 8 + the wearer’s proficiency bonus + the wearer’s Intelligence (if a wizard spell) or Wisdom (if a cleric spell) modifier. Once the wearer has expended the Spellbrand’s charge, it becomes exhausted and inert until the charge is regained. Every morning after the Spellbrand is used there is a 50% chance it regains its charge. If a wearer has more than one Spellbrand, each exhausted Spellbrand is checked individually.

The wearer of the Spellbrand isn’t actually casting the spell, but instead using his body as the channel for the magic. He simply releases the magical energy with a mental command, completing the spell that was worked into the design.

Crafting a Spellbrand requires the crafter to know the spell in question, and a spell slot must be expended every day the Spellbrand is worked on as normal. The creator must meet the normal requirements for crafting a magic item of the Spellbrand’s rarity. Because of the greater complexity in casting them a spell that requires concentration costs 25% more to create than a typical Spellbrand of that level.

Example: A Spellbrand of expeditious retreat has a creation cost of 625 gp instead of the normal 500 gp for an uncommon magic item like a Spellbrand of cure wounds would cost. 

An active Spellbrand cannot be removed from a character short of removing the character’s skin. A character cannot place a Spellbrand on himself.

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Ben Erickson

Ben Erickson

Contributing Writer for d20 Radio
Mild mannered fraud analyst by day, incorrigible system tinker money by night, Ben has taken a strong interest in roleplaying games since grade school, especially when it comes to creation and world building. After being introduced to the idea through the Final Fantasy series and kit-bashing together several games with younger brother and friends in his earliest years to help tell their stories, he was introduced to the official world of tabletop roleplaying games through the boxed introductory set of West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game before moving into Dungeons and Dragons.
Ben Erickson

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