Dungeons and Dragons – Mystara
Design Part 7 – Secret Crafts Overview
In the setting of Mystara there are 9 secret crafts associated with the Great School of Magic in The Principalities of Glantri. I greatly admired these and thought there was potential for more.
As part of my changes to the setting to incorporate the five elements in the reconstruction, I have expanded the secret crafts of the setting to become more than what they were, dangerous to use, and fatal to overuse from Soul Burn.
Where can you learn them?
To learn a secret craft, you need to find a willing teacher who is a member of that craft and spend downtime teaching you. This will become an NPC associated with your character ongoing, provide quest options as well as someone who has an invested interest in your characters future.
While some will be in the Great School of Magic in Glantri, there will be many scattered over the Known World in relation to culture and racial talents. Each of the crafts is their own society and will be part of the world as a whole.
You can learn more than one secret craft, but each craft will come with special obligations as all are granted by the grace of an immortal and the risk of Soul Burn.
Who you can learn the Secret Crafts from?
DC for all secret crafts increase by 1 for each other craft you have learned at that level. This is to find a teacher, not to learn the craft. That is a different roll. It is easier to find a teacher than it is to learn the base crafts.
- Renown DC 14 – Initiation into the Craft (Initiate) Training from a practitioner of the 1st Circle or higher. This can occur anywhere. Becoming an initiate is a downtime activity. You can initiate into more than one secret craft. Once you have been initiated into a secret craft, you can have a spell added to your spellbook or ritual book with every point of renown gained after that. Available to Tier 1 characters.
- Renown DC 16 – 1st Circle (Apprentice) Training from a practitioner of the 1st Circle or higher. Gaining your first circle requires your character to be an initiate spend the downtime. Available to Tier 2 characters.
- Renown DC 18 – 2nd Circle (Journeyman) Training from a practitioner of the 2nd Circle or higher. Gaining your second circle requires your character to have the first circle and spend the downtime. Available to Tier 3 characters.
- Renown DC 20 – 3rd Circle (Adept) Training from a practitioner of the 3rd Circle or higher. Gaining your third circle requires your character to have the second circle and spend the downtime. Available to Tier 4 characters.
- Renown DC 22 – 4th Circle (Master) Training from a practitioner of the 4th Circle. Gaining your fourth circle requires your character to have the third circle and spend the downtime. Available to Tier 5 char
- Renown DC 24 – 5th Circle (Grand Master) Secret Knowledge handed down from the leader of the secret society only. Gaining your fifth circle requires your character to have the fourth circle and spend the downtime. Available to Tier 6 characters.
What is the Soul Burn drawback of the Secret Crafts?
Each use of the secret craft circle options will earn you Soul Burn. This represents how much immortal energy you have channelled through your body damaging it.
Each point of Soul Burn reduces your maximum hit point total, but not your current hit points.
You can spend downtime to reduce the amount of Soul Burn you have received, and this is not increase by the number of secret crafts you have learnt.
You take Soul Burn by activating the special abilities, manifestations, powers or downtime activities of the Secret Craft and have a Skill Check to handle the use. A failure can have the character pay the price without the benefit, or even become penalised on a critical failure whereas a success activates the power normally, but a critical success can provide further aid.
No matter how many crafts you learn they all deal Soul Burn the same, just with extra effects on crit for each craft.
Note: If your Soul Burn value ever reduces your maximum hit point total to hit points, your character is destroyed based in the craft and sponsor.
Downtime – Craft Appeasement – At the end of a week spent in meditation, a character can make a Craft Check to appease their sponsoring god. For every point over the DC 15 check they can reduce the effects of soul burn by 1 point. Each point costs 100 gp in offerings. This does not work on soul burn gained from downtime activities of those where you have invested that in creatures or items. Those are permanently gone while you still have those points invested.
What are the levels of a Secret Craft?
Before you can access any of the levels of power, you must first get initiated into the craft (which may be considered a cult in many circles). Once you have been initiated there are five levels of power, and each level of power is called a circle, each circle requires your character to be four times the level of the craft.
i.e. Initiate from 1st level, 1st Circle at 4th level, 2nd Circle at 8th level, 3rd Circle at 12th level, 4th Circle at 16th level and 5th Circle at 20th level.
What is an Initiate?
When a character becomes an initiate in a secret craft they gain a couple of class features, potentially a new language, and a craft specific skill.
They learn who their patron is for this craft, and how to appease them. This includes what happens when you have a mishap calling upon the power.
Many class options are opened up by the craft, and this includes spells that are available to all classes. This is where all spells from supplements other that the Players Handbook can be found.
Spells in this setting are not automatically given to prepared casters (Cleric, Druid, Paladin and Wizard) who all carry a spellbook (prayerbook or craftbook) and learn spells as a wizard. As long as it is on your list, you can learn it from another source. And this is where the secret craft comes in, these spells now count as being on your list and you can learn them. A spontaneous caster (Bard, Ranger, Sorcerer and Warlock) can learn one of these spells as if it were on their list when they level. Though once you become an initiate, every point of renown you gain allows you to add another spell to your spellbook or ritualbook to learn at a later time.
What does 1st Circle get?
A 1st circle in a secret craft will have numerous options, each option has a cost in soul burn, a DC 16 craft check to use and they range from the following:
- An apprentice manifestation – this is usually increasing your abilities over a long period of time in relation to the secret craft. They normally last until you end a long rest, though spending 1 Soul Burn can sustain it till the end of the next long rest. Unless specified, they cost 1 Soul Burn to activate.
- Apprentice Powers – these require the apprentice manifestation to be working and have unique effects. Unless specified, they cost 1 Soul Burn to activate.
- Extra Powers – not all powers require a manifestation. Unless specified, they cost 1 Soul Burn to activate.
- Short or Long Rest actions – new actions to explore. Unless specified, they cost 1 Soul Burn to activate.
- Downtime actions – mainly learning opportunities. Unless specified, they cost 1 Soul Burn to activate which does not come back if you retain the effect. Such as familiar, companion or mount.
What do further circles offer?
Each circle enhances the abilities of the last. The final circle will be linked to the ability to become an Immortal in the setting as you will have gained much attention from the powers of the setting and are ready to start the trials.
- 2nd Circle is a Journeyman – unless specified, they cost 2 Soul Burn to activate with a DC 14 check.
- 3rd Circle is an Adept – unless specified, they cost 3 Soul Burn to activate with a DC 16 check.
- 4th Circle is a Master – unless specified, they cost 4 Soul Burn to activate with a DC 18 check.
- 5th Circle is a Grand Master – unless specified, they cost 5 Soul Burn to activate with a DC 20 check.
How do I use a a Circle Option?
Each ability comes with a cost in Soul Burn to try and activate, and a secret craft skill check based on the craft for the attribute modifier. Each ability costs 1 point of Soul Burn per circle for each activation. This is paid before you gain roll to see if your successful at being granted that power by your patron. If you have not spent Soul Burn equal to (or greater than) you hit point maximum you live long enough to make a skill check.
The skill check is a d20 plus your proficiency and the associated attribute modifier.
d20 + Prof + Abi mod + circle achieved = Secret Craft Attempt
Base Critical Failure: A roll of a 1 on this check is a curse from your patron, and you suffer a mishap. Check each of the crafts for what happens during a mishap. The standard thing that happens is that it reduces your hit point maximum by 1 point per secret craft circle per level. This also ends any ongoing effects from your crafts. Base Critical Success: A roll of a 20 on this check is a blessing from your patron, and you are granted a boon. Check each of the crafts for what happens during a boon. The standard thing is that you reduce your Soul Burn by twice what you spent on activating the ability.
Both the Critical Failure and Critical Success have been added as a footer to the Secret Crafts.
The Base DC of a secret craft abilities is:
Base Craft DC = 8 + Prof + Ability mod + circle achieved
But where are the Crafts?
Well they will come as my players interact with them (and I finish the final conversions to fit into the setting).
Expect secret crafts to be released slowly over time with the details learnt within the games being made available through here. A full list remains a secret, and I have concepts down for forty exciting and unique crafts. I ended to start detailing a secret craft every Sunday until they all make their way out. Though some updated might only be additional information for existing crafts. They are expected to have a new one released on a Sunday while I have the basic’s for that craft ready to be tested.
Designing Secret Crafts
One of the design principles is that these crafts are expected to be minimal use (not every encounter) and you pull them out for important planned encounters or when you think there is no other choice.
First limitation is the soul burn mechanic that risks your character pushing too much of themselves into the magic. The soul burn increase with each circle, and most of the abilities require a manifestation to be activated first, so you can easily build up these points. A critical fail and a critical success on the craft roll have special effects as well. Watch out for a critical fumble as that can take out your character.
The second is the DC check to invoke should be about 50% chance when a character is high enough to access the next level of power. The ideal is DC 14 + (circle x2) to gain the craft check to activate. This worked out for 1st circle with a DC of 16 a character should have the bonus for activation being +2 (prof) plus attribute, plus circle proficiency gained. This gives a base bonus to activate a craft at +3 (+ attribute) and depending on your racial alignment another +2. So those good with the craft start at +5 before taking their attribute bonus into account.
By the time a character gets to level 8 and gains the 2nd circle powers, they will have +3 prof, +2 from circle and if they are of the right race, another +2. So When I am looking at DC 18 activation with a base bonus of +7 before their attribute they also have a roughly 50% chance to succeed.
Next at 12th level and 3rd circle power, DC 20 having a +4 prof, +3 from circle and +2 from race they should be at +9 before using the attributes.
The 16th level character using 4th circle powers, DC 22 having a +5 prof, +4 from circle, and +2 from race has a +11 to the base roll again before the attributes.
And lastly the 20th level character and 5th circle powers, DC 24 having a +6 prof, +5 from circle and +2 from race has a +13 to the roll before adding their attribute to the roll.
If they have a attribute bonus of +3 and don’t belong to the right race, you would be sitting on a 50% activation at each level, so it fits well for the planned advancement. And a 20th level character having a base +13 to activate a DC 16 ability is going to succeed more than they fail, so it shows the lower abilities are more useful at higher levels as well.
Original Soul Burn Rules – No longer used.
Each use of the secret craft circle options will earn you Soul Burn points. This represents how much immortal energy you have channelled through your body damaging it.
If you take more points of Soul Burn than you have hit point, your characters body turns to ash and your spirit is consumed making you impossible to bring back.
You can spend downtime to reduce the amount of Soul Burn you have received, and this is not increase by the number of secret crafts you have learnt.
You increase your Soul Burn by activating the special abilities, manifestations, powers or downtime activities of the Secret Craft and have a Skill Check to handle the use. A failure can have the character pay the price without the benefit, or even become penalise on a critical failure whereas a success activates the power normally, but a critical success can provide further aid.
No matter how many crafts you learn they, all share the same Soul Burn points.
- 2021-08-03 – Updated the Soul Burn mechanics.
- 2021-07-31 – Updating links and layout.
- 2020-06-12 – Base Craft DC added, and cleaned up appeasement.
- 2020-03-28 – Structure.
- 2020-03-04 – Updated the details on when to use Soul Burn, and what it does.
- 2020-01-13 – Updated the text for secret craft critical failure and success.
Racial Crafts: (38) Alchem, Beast, Bureau, Celest, Chaos, Chrono, Craft, Crypt, Diplomat, Diviner, Dragon, Elven, Entertain, Fiend, Heal, Mech, Mental, Merch, Music, Nature, Portal, Preserve, Protect, Rad, Sail, Shape, Skald, Sky, Spirit, Spy, Star, Sumon, Tech, Void, Wagon, War, Weapon, Witch
Part 1 – Five Elements,
Part 2 – Five Spheres,
Part 3 – Pantheons,
Part 4 – Divine Features,
Part 5 – Reference Material,
Part 6 – Races,
Part 7 – Secret Crafts,
Part 8 – Weapons Mastery,
Part 9 – Setting,
Part 10 – Timeline,
Part 11 – Magical Item,
Part 12 – Classes,
Part 13 – Downtime,
Part 14 – Immortality,
Part 15 – Elemental Aspects,
Part 16 – Immortal Patrons,
Part 17 – New Directions,
Part 18 – Symbols
Part 1 – Mapping
D&D Menu – Adventures, Artefacts, Backgrounds, Classes, Dominions, Downtime, Feats, Gazetteers, Gods, Magical Items, Monsters, Organisations, Pantheons, Races, Ranks & Titles, Rune Magic, Secret Crafts, Settlements, Spells, Timeline, Weapons Mastery
Class Builds –
Artificer – Bombardier (Tinkerkin),
Barbarian – Totem Warrior (Plamin, Camdu),
Bard – College of Valour (Sunfey),
Druid – Circle of Dreams (Woodfey), Circle of the Tree of Life (Seasonfey),
Fighter – Battlemaster (Seashire), Eldritch Knight (Kerendan), Weapons Master (Lani), Weapons Master (Stonebound),
Monk – Way of the Elements (Tidal),
Paladin – Oath of Radiance (Sunfey), Oath of Vengeance (Firechild),
Sorcerer – Wild Magic (Shadowfey),
Warlock – Celestial (Llewell),
Wizard – Bladesinger (Nerye),
Dragon – White (Calcryx).
Multiclass – Cleric/Wizard (Xhall), Rogue/Cleric (Dracnomir), Rogue/Sorcerer (Yodrey), Wizard/Rogue (Traladaran)
Floorplans – Thyatian
Session Recordings – Campaign Journals
This site is constantly under revision, no blog posts are final as this is a work in progress place for me to develop my game settings and rules. Some posts might be placeholders for future content, so feel free to check back later for updated information.