By Jake Shultz
I was always interested in the idea that summoning spells in D&D summoned specific creatures. Creatures with their own motives, ideals, and agendas, who were probably perfectly happy just hanging out in a lava river on the Elemental Plane of Fire before suddenly appearing in a sewer somewhere to fight a giant rat for you.
Spells like Infernal Calling take part of this into account, allowing the summon to resist orders that don’t align with it’s motives. But it’s still just a generic devil you’re conjuring, how do we know the particular motivations of Kilkxxiort, the bearded devil?
To that end, I wanted to create specific creatures to summon, with specific conditions to summon them, specific motivations and specific conditions to keep them around. This post covers the basic calling rules, and has three creature entries. In the future I plan to drill deeper into the mechanics and lore of calling, as well as add new creatures either in future posts and or a new supplement.
How to use this Document
Each creature has a description of their personality, wants and tactics alongside their stat block. They can very easily be used as standalone monsters, NPCs or plot hooks.
Additionally, each creature entry has a description of the specific calling ritual, components and requirements necessary to call them and keep them around.
Note that these calling rules are not comparable in terms of game balance to the regular summoning spells in D&D 5E. They are not short term, simple spells that any old hedge-mage can manifest, but rituals that require considerable research and preparation. Learning the particular summoning requirements should involve diving into dusty tomes, exploring ancient crypts or interrogating the right warlock. Collecting the right materials components should be an event in and of itself.
In return, the player receives a powerful ally, albeit one that could potentially turn on you at any time…
General Calling Rules
There is no particular spell tied to summoning these creatures, instead the knowledge to do so is gained as rewards, whether specifically sought out or in lieu of other treasure, magic items and boons.
Each calling description has the following sections:
Ritual: Lays out the general rules or conditions leading up to and during the ritual.
Material, Somatic and Vocal Components: Similar to regular spells, each calling ritual has their own combination of component requirements. Unlike regular spells, the form these components take are listed, and should be strictly followed. For example, the actual words spoken during a vocal component are a requirement and not just flavour. As mentioned earlier, the knowledge of which words to say and which hand gestures to make must be discovered.
Material components are consumed at the start of the ritual unless otherwise stated. If an entry does not list one or more component types, then those types are not required.
Arcane Components: This represents the arcane power that fuels the calling and binding ritual. It is listed as a number of spell levels that must be spent at the start of the ritual. It can be paid in any combination of spells. For example, if the arcane component is 5 spell levels, you could spend one level 5 spell, two level 2 and a level 1, or two level 3 spells (the excess is lost.)
Some rituals might indicate specific spells, spell schools or other constraints.
Finally, multiple callers can participate in a ritual, each contributing spell levels towards the total. If they do, each caller is subject to all the terms, conditions and consequences of the ritual. Material components are still only required once.
Behavior: This section lays out the rules governing how a called creature behaves. Most will follow orders that align with their motives and personality, resisting any other orders.
A called creature will make a Separation check at dawn each day and whenever it receives an order it would resist. The Separation check is a Wisdom saving throw against the lowest spell save DC amongst callers.
If the creature succeeds on it’s Separation check, it is no longer magically bound to the callers. In general it will simply leave at its earliest convenience. Some creatures may become violent or seek revenge, depending on their personality.
Each entry includes some conditions or actions that will give a bonus or penalty to these checks.
While there is nothing stopping you from attempting to summon a creature again, if it previously succeeded on a Separation check against you it gets advantage on all future checks
Ehotha is a friendly elemental from the Paraelemental Plane of Ice resembling a penguin with a pronounced yellow crest. Ehotha is attracted to travellers with good intentions and pure motives, and will happily tag along to guide or assist them in exchange for a steady supply of seafood and head pats.
Ehotha is well acclimated to cold climates, and makes regular visits to the material plane to guide lost polar explorers home. There are folk stories in many cultures about a helpful penguin spirit arriving in the nick of time to save an ill-fated expedition.
Once Ehotha has chosen a travelling companion, he will stick with them until they reach their destination or he finds another who needs him more.
Generally non-violent, Ehotha will only engage in combat when necessary to protect his life or the life of it’s caller or their allies. Ehotha will try to use Ice Slide to cut off attackers from weaker allies, or as a means of escape if badly injured.
Ritual: Ehotha’s ritual takes 1 hour to complete and must be performed at the start of a journey with a specific destination in mind.
Vocal Components: An Aquan folk song, titled “Little King of the Glacier”
- An assortment of at least 4 different fish caught by the callers
- A pint of purified water
- A map to or artistic rendering of the caller’s destination
- Pearl, onyx and topaz worth a total of 100gp
Arcane Components: 5 spell levels, OR Protection from Energy.
Behavior: Once successfully called, Ehotha will do his best to assist his caller by guiding them through treacherous terrain, assisting with fishing/gathering food, and helping them find their way to or from their destination. Ehotha will resist orders to attack creatures unless in defense of himself or another, or when hunting for necessary food.
Ehotha does not make daily Separation checks as normal, instead making checks under the following conditions:
- The caller reaches the destination described during the calling ritual: Ehotha immediately makes and succeeds on a Separation check.
- Ehotha finds another creature in more dire need of his help: Ehotha makes a Separation check with a bonus equal to the number of days since he was called.
- The caller purposely fails to make progress towards their destination for 24 hours: Ehotha makes a Separation check with a bonus equal to the number of days since he was called.
- When resting at a small village on the outskirts of the tundra, the party is warned of a local spirit, a wrathful killer whale who has been shifting the ice floes to cause expeditions to become hopelessly lost. They seek the spirit Ehotha to help guide their way, but the creature hasn’t been seen in some time.
- After fighting their way through a group of monsters in an ice cave, the party stumbles upon a large blue egg, icy to the touch, and a small glowing feather that seems to pull them due south.
From a distance, Hush appears as a small ball of shimmering multicoloured light with long, glittering tendrils, somewhere in between a jellyfish and a will-o-the-wisp. Upon approach, it becomes apparent the creature is actually made of a rigid lattice of tiny crystalline formations that constantly shift, slide and reform.
Hush is a withdrawn extraplanar being who would prefer to have little to do with the mortal realm, existing quietly in its dreadfully silent and lonely demiplane. However, its crystalline body is extremely sensitive to noise, causing painful vibrations that wrack it’s delicate structure. For generations, the constant din of the material plane has seeped into Hush’s domain, tormenting and wracking the creature with pain.
Because of this, Hush spent its existence developing counter measures to prevent and capture sound, and will now travel into the material plane to disrupt particularly problematic sources of noise.
In battle, Hush is driven by emotion and rarely a specific tactic. While it’s aura of silence is still active it will focus on stealing noisy items with it’s tendrils. While it may be tempting to prioritize weapons and armor, Hush is more likely to target noisemakers like musical instruments, bells, chains, blasting powder, etc.
If it’s aura is removed, it will play more cautiously, muting spellcasters and if available using it’s lair actions to disable fighters or teleport away when things look grim.
Lair and Lair Actions
Hush’s plane is a mostly vacant void of impenetrable quiet, existing in between gaps in conversation, a rest in a song, and every uncomfortable silence. An assortment of floating, multicolored crystalline structures, encoded with the sounds frozen by Hush’s abilities, dot the plane, drifting aimlessly throughout the emptiness. Piles of discarded items build up on the crystal platforms, noisemakers stolen by Hush and brought to this silent place.
While inside it’s demiplane, Hush can use the following lair action 3 times a day on initiative count 20 (losing ties).
- Hush utilizes the captured vocal components of failed spells to power it’s own magic. Hush may cast any spell of 7th level or lower that requires ONLY vocal components. Hush’s innate spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 18).
Some of it’s favourites include Teleport, Power Word Pain, Banishing Smite, Destructive Wave, Geas and Blindness.
A permanent Silence effect covers the entire plane.
Anybody making physical contact with the crystals can feel the vibrations of the sounds trapped inside, accurately identifying it with a DC 15 Perception (Wisdom) check. Players might find loose crystals, or chip a piece off of a larger structure, each of which contains a specific noise. Roll on the table below for some possible contents of a crystal.
- Arcane words from a random spell of 5th level or lower. Treat the crystal as a spell scroll that allows you to cast the spell without any components.
- An upbeat ditty played on a lyre
- a scream of terror
- a beautifully sung love song
- A pack of dogs barking
- The sounds of a busy harbour
- A thunderstorm
- Clanking machinery
- A comforting divine word – creatures within 60ft are immediately healed for 4d4+4 hit points.
- A powerful arcane word – creatures within 60ft immediately take 4d8 thunder damage, or half on a successful DC15 Dexterity save.
Ritual: Leading up to the calling ritual, the caster must first observe a 48 hour period of silence. The ritual itself takes 1 hour and must be undertaken in complete silence, regardless of the source. Anything louder than a quiet whisper will disrupt the ritual, requiring the caster to begin from the start of the 48 hour period.
At the conclusion of the ritual, as Hush is first drawn to the material plane, the caster must succeed on a DC20 Dexterity (Stealth) check or Hush will immediately revolt, lashing out violently before it can return to it’s plane in 1d10 hours.
Somatic Components: A series of gestures in an antiquated arcane sign language.
- An ear from a humanoid, removed from the body within the last 48 hours.
- 5 butterfly wings
- 500gp worth of quartz in at least 5 colours
Arcane Components: 6 spell levels, none of which can have vocal components.
Behavior: If successfully called, Hush will obey any commands that align with it’s motives, such as destroying loud machinery, attacking bards and spellcasters, or stealing noisy items. It will resist any other orders, particularly those that could generate unnecessary sounds. If Hush succeeds on a Separation check it will attempt to steal the voice or an important item from it’s caller before retreating.
The following conditions will modify it’s next Separation check:
- Caster or one of their allies plays an instrument, sings, hums or whistles in Hush’s presence: Hush immediately makes an additional Separation check with +3.
- Caster or one of their allies has cast a spell with a vocal component in Hush’s presence: +2
- Caster or one of their allies is wearing heavy armor: +1
- Caster delivers their orders non-verbally: -1
- On his deathbed, the king was to announce which of his 6 children would be his successor. At the last moment, his voice was stripped from him, causing a long conflict for power between the royal children. The former king’s advisor learns that a rival summoned Hush to steal the king’s voice and sow discord, and seeks the characters’ help to either draw Hush here or travel to it’s domain to find the king’s crystallized final decree and discover who is the rightful heir.
- Disaster strikes the 327th annual Songs of the Spheres, a prestigious musical event featuring the most popular musical talents from across the realms. As instruments disappear and voices are lost, the concert organizer desperately seeks help to discover the cause.
- A small group of worshippers have begun paying tribute to Hush. They are resorting to extreme recruitment measures – including cutting out tongues and sewing mouths closed.
Vex is a pernicious and spiteful fey that loves nothing more than sowing discord amongst the mortals of the material plane by inciting arguments, spreading lies and rumours, dismantling friendships and spurring on rivals.
His true form is that of a tiny troll-like humanoid with warted, leathery green skin and sharp protruding teeth, with gossamer faerie wings sprouting from his hunchback that he uses to fly about. However, Vex is a talented shapeshifter, and will take the form of specific humanoids to provoke reactions, spread uncertainty and instigate hate.
He has a natural talent for rooting out one’s weaknesses, pet peeves, secret desires and those intrusive thoughts they would have left unspoken
Although Vex loves to incite a combat, he does his best to avoid being directly involved. He will wait on the sidelines, using invisibility or shapeshifting to hide as long as possible as the other parties duke it out. He will only use his abilities when he feels safe or when he feels they’ll have the biggest impact on the battle. If he is directly attacked, he will try to provoke other creatures to target his attacker, or attempt to flee if nobody is on his side.
Ritual: Since Vex’s powers are based on relationships, his ritual requires at least two participants. However, non-spellcasters are also able to call Vex. The ritual must be performed on the first day of the work week at dawn.
Vocal components: Each caller must share with the others the one thing they find most annoying about them.
Somatic Components: Includes several rude sylvan gestures.
- A bull’s horn
- A list of at least 6 enemies
- 250gp of gems, art or other valuables that the callers stole within the last 48 hours.
Arcane Components: 6 spell levels OR 7 levels of exhaustion split between the callers.
Behavior: If successfully called, Vex will obey any commands that align with his motives of stirring up conflict. If he succeeds on a Separation check, Vex will not immediately attempt to escape, instead going along with orders as he plots revenge and looks for the best opening to severely damage one of the caller’s relationships or plans. Vex will flee after taking this opportunity, or after 24 hours.
The following conditions will modify his next Separation check:
- The caller or one of their allies breaks up a fight or de-escalates an argument: Vex immediately makes a Separation check with +3.
- The caller or one of their allies apologizes: +1
- The caller or one of their allies successfully intimidates or deceives somebody: -1
- The caller argues with, fights or goes against the wishes of one of their allies: -2
- A quiet night at the tavern turns into a full blown brawl. An observant party member notices that some of the thrown chairs, shouts and broken bottles seem to be illusory and appearing out of nowhere.
- A long standing alliance between two nations is suddenly and inexplicably broken after a regular trade negotiation. Afterwards, the party is asked by a member of the council to track down the diplomat who apparently hasn’t been seen since the negotiations to find out what happened.
- While packing up camp, a party member discovers a strange note written in another character’s handwriting that seems to suggest a plot to sell out the party and take the treasure for themselves!