Playing Dead. Playing Dead is a complete ruleset for starting (or continuing) your journey as an undead, including new thematic options for class features, subclasses, spells, magic items, and transcending the limits of undeath itself.
Kercpa — Squirrelfolk Lineage and Subclasses. A race of reclusive yet merry forest dwellers. Complete with lineage and cultural features, 2 new subclasses for the Rogue and Barbarian, and all the tools needed to fit the small Kercpa into your game!
Mythic Eberron. Challenge your party with MYTHIC creatures from the Eberron campaign setting.
The Warden Class. The Warden class is a brand new class for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition, combining elemental magic and martial prowess!
Mythic Encounters. Challenge your party with 36 MYTHIC creatures!
Prism: Light & Magic. A unique magic-wielding class for Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition!

Sardior, the Ruby Dragon

October 20, 2021

Written by Bryan Holmes


While the great chromatic and metallic dragons wage battles and intrigue, sometimes in the name of Bahamut or Tiamat, the gem dragons are content with more philosophical ways, enjoying contemplation and meditation. While Tiamat lords over chromatic dragons with an iron claw, and Bahamut inspires goodness in his followers, most gem dragons don’t pay all that much mind to Sardior: the ruby dragon.

Sardior is the creator of gem dragons, although where he came from is unknown. Some say a ruby coalesced in the elemental chaos or the far realms, growing until it became touched by divinity where it grew into an egg and eventually Sardior hatched fully formed.

Sardior is playful, enjoying intellectual exercises with other creatures. He also possesses a sharp wit, and is an infamous conversationalist. At the height of Netheril, Sardior considered the wizards to be sometimes allies and sometimes foes, although always a group to count on when going against the Phaerimm. Today, he is more concerned with proliferating psionic power within all the races of the world.

Ideal. “Leave the world a better place than it was when you entered it.”

Bond. “The world is full of arcane and divine… it needs more powers of the mind to balance them out.”

Flaw. “My ascension to divinity makes it easy to understand the big picture, but hard to see the impact on individuals.”

DMs wanting to know more about Sardior should check out the following books: “That’s not in the Monster Manual” from Dragon #37, Planes of Law, and “The Legend of Sardior, The Mind’s Eye” from the Wizards of the Coast website (found here)

Editor’s Note:

While not Bryan’s intention, while reading this over I couldn’t help but think of Niv Mizzet, from the Magic: the Gathering world of Ravnica. Sardior’s statblock, as presented below, could be used for Niv Mizzet if you are using the setting guide Guildmaster’s Guide to Ravnica! Bonus!

Sardior’s Lair

The Ruby Palace is a flying castle which travels the material plane high above the world. Clouds generate around the castle as threads of the astral plane boil away around the fortress. If the palace remains in place for at least one week, the regional effects of the castle begin to spread out at a rate of 1 mile per day, to a maximum of 8 miles.

Lair Actions. On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), Sardior can take a lair action to cause one of the following effects; he can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:

  • Sardior changes gravity, replicating the reverse gravity spell except he can orient the area in any direction, causing creatures and objects within to fall toward the end of the area.
  • Sardior shapes the walls or floor of his castle into an object, replicating the stone shape spell.
  • Sardior can channel energy through his castle, healing one other creature Sardior can see. That creature regains 15 hit points.

Regional Effects. The region containing Sardior’s lair is warped by his magic, creating one or more of the following effects:

  • Sardior is aware of the number of minds in his region with intelligences above 3, and those with intelligences below 3. Sardior is not aware of creatures with the Undead, Construct, Ooze, or Plant type.
  • Bodies of water at least 10 feet in diameter become Color Pools as described in chapter 2 of the Dungeon Masters Guide.
  • Clouds within the region become connected to the astral plane. When a creature spends at least 1 minute within a cloud, when they leave the cloud roll 1d20. On a 19 or 20, they exit in the astral plane.

Sardior as a Mythic Encounter

Sardior is a powerful encounter on his own, but if the adventurers want a true challenge fit for the gods, you can use his Ruby Soul trait. Using this trait marks a drastic turn in the encounter as his divine spark flares into overdrive. Once Sardior has used this trait, he can choose one of his mythic actions when he uses a legendary action.

Read or paraphrase the following text when Sardior uses his Ruby Soul trait:

Sardior stands before you, eyes filling with ruby light. It’s then that you notice it: a light burning deep within the gem dragon. This light grows brighter, and brighter, until it’s almost painful to look at.

“Silly mortals. I’m no mere child of divine blood. I am not a simple chromatic creature, or a scion of metal. I am pure thought! My mind is an infinite plane of contemplation, and now, I contemplate your DOOM!”

Rewards

Fighting Sardior as a mythic encounter is equivalent to fighting two CR 30 creatures in one encounter. Award a party 310,000 XP for defeating Sardior after he uses Ruby Soul. You can also reward them with Ruby of Free Thought, Resurrection Egg, and the spell Ruby Armor of Sardior in addition to any other treasure he might hold.

Sardior

Gargantuan Dragon, Always Neutral

Armor Class 25 (natural armor)

Hit Points 615 (30d20 + 300)

Speed 60 ft., climb 40 ft., fly 120 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
28 (+9) 12 (+1) 30 (+10) 30 (+10) 26 (+8) 29 (+9)

Saving Throws Constitution +19, Intelligence +19, Charisma +18

Skills Arcana +17, History +17, Nature +17, Perception +26, Religion +17

Damage Immunities fire, force, psychic, radiant; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical attacks

Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, poisoned, stunned

Senses darkvision 120 ft., truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 36

Languages All, telepathy 120 ft.

Challenge 30 (155,000 XP; Proficiency Bonus +9)

Discorporation. When Sardior dies, his body is destroyed but his essence travels back to his Ruby Castle, and he is unable to take physical form for a time.

Innate Psionics. Sardior’s innate spellcasting ability his Intelligence (spell save DC 17). He can innately cast the following spells, requiring no components:

Legendary Resistance (5/Day). If Sardior fails a saving throw, he can choose to succeed instead.

Limited Magic Immunity. Unless he wishes to be affected, Sardior is immune to spells of 6th level or lower. He has advantage on saving throws against all other spells and magical effects.

Magic Weapons. Sardior’s weapon attacks are magical.

Ruby Soul (Mythic; Recharges after a Short or Long Rest). When Sardior is reduced to 0 hit points, he does not die. Instead, Sardior is filled with divine wrath. Sardior regains 305 hit points and gains 305 temporary hit points.

Additionally, Sardior casts bright light in a 250-foot radius, and dim light 250 feet beyond that. Spells which magically create darkness are automatically counterspelled within this area. Creatures who fail their saving throws caused by Sardior’s breath weapons while in the area of bright light are also blinded until the start of their next turn.

Regeneration. Sardior regains 30 hit points at the start of his turn.

Sensitive Mind. Sardior is constantly benefitting from the effects of detect evil and good, detect magic, find the path, and find traps.

Actions

Multiattack. Sardior can use his Frightful Presence. He then makes four attacks: one with his bite, one with his tail and two with his claws.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +17 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 32 (4d10 + 10) piercing damage.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +17 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 32 (4d10 + 10) slashing damage.

Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +17 to hit, reach 25 ft., one target. Hit: 36 (4d12 + 10) bludgeoning damage.

Breath Weapons (Recharge 5-6). Sardior uses one of the following breath weapons:

Concussive Breath. Sardior exhales concussive force in a 120-foot line that is 10 feet wide. Each creature in that line must make a DC 27 Dexterity saving throw, taking 70 (20d6) force damage on a failed save or half as much damage on a successful one. Creatures reduced to 0 hit points by this breath weapon are not dying and instead are stabilized automatically.

Blazing Radiance. Sardior exhales a blast of radiant fire in a 90-foot cone. Each creature in the area must make a DC 27 Dexterity saving throw, taking 31 (7d8) fire damage and 31 (7d8) radiant damage.

Frightful Presence. Each creature of Sardior’s choice that is within 240 feet of him and aware of him must succeed on a DC 26 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to Sardior’s Frightful Presence for the next 24 hours.

Bonus Actions

Quick Breath. Sardior attempts to recharge his breath weapon.

Legendary Actions

Sardior can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. Sardior regains spent legendary actions at the start of his turn.

Express Psionics (Variable cost). Sardior casts one of his innate psionics. At will powers use 1 legendary action. 3/day use 2 legendary actions. 1/day use 3 legendary actions.

Hardened Scales (Costs 2 actions). Sardior hardens his scales, reinforcing them with mental fortitude. The next time Sardior takes damage before the start of his next turn, he has resistance to all damage that turn and this effect ends.

Wing Attack. Sardior beats his wings. Each creature within 15 feet of Sardior must succeed on a DC 27 Dexterity saving throw or take 24 (4d6 + 10) bludgeoning damage and be knocked prone. Sardior can then fly up to half his flying speed.

Mythic Actions

If Sardior is a Mythic encounter, he can choose from the options below as additional legendary actions for 1 hour after using the Ruby Soul mythic trait:

Dive Bomb. (Costs 2 actions). Sardior moves up to half his flying speed away from the ground. This movement does not provoke opportunity attacks. At the start of his next turn, Sardior immediately plummets directly towards the ground, creating a large shockwave in a sphere with a radius of 5 feet for every 5 feet of movement Sardior plummeted. Each creature within this sphere must succeed on a DC 27 Dexterity saving throw or be knocked prone and pushed 15 feet directly away from Sardior. Creatures who succeed on this saving throw instead are only pushed 5 feet directly away from Sardior and not knocked prone unless that movement causes them to collide with a creature or structure.

Telekinetic Throw. Sardior’s eyes glow bright blue. Before the end of his next turn, when Sardior uses the multiattack action, as a bonus action he can cast telekinesis.

Reflective Scales. Sardior’s scales shift and twist like prisms. As a reaction before the start of his next turn, whenever a spell is cast on Sardior and he succeeds on his saving throw, Sardior can choose one creature that he can see who is a valid target for the spell and it is cast upon them instead.

Rewards

Below are spells and magical items you can reward your party for defeating Sardior, the Ruby Dragon.

Ruby of Free Thought

Wondrous item, mythic (requires attunement by a spellcaster)

One of the many ruby scales that comprise Sardior’s tough exterior that gleams brighter and more radiant than the others. This scale—which could easily be mistaken for a gemstone—can impart powerful psionic power to a spellcaster who chooses to attune to it.

Psionics. When you attune to the ruby, your mind begins to race at a pace previously unknown to you. You gain the ability to cast some of your spells without expending spell slots or using components.

At Will: Any 1st-level spell you know.

3/day: Any spell you know up to 5th-level.

1/day: Any spell you know up to 9th-level.

Empty Mind. While attuned to the scale, you are always under the effects of the spell mind blank. If a spell or effect would attempt to sense your emotions or read your thoughts, you can choose to share any information you’d like, or nothing at all.

Sentience. The Ruby of Free Thought is a sentient object of neutral alignment, with an Intelligence of 30, Wisdom of 26, and Charisma of 29. It has hearing and blindsight out to a range of 300 feet, and it can communicate telepathically with any creature within that range.

Personality. The ruby, while sentient, does not contain Sardior’s true mind but instead a sort of pseudo-intelligence designed to share specific information with whomever it attunes to. It instructs its bearer on psionic teachings and practices, and will take any opportunity to lead the bearer back to the Ruby Palace, or to a nearby gem dragon who can assist in reaching the palace. It harbors no ill will towards its bearer and will share whatever information it can to help protect them, but its ultimate goal is to be reunited with Sardior.

Destroying the Ruby. The ruby is a powerful artifact, immune to the effects of all traditional forms of damage. To destroy the ruby, it must be brought to a hidden location within the Ruby Palace: the chamber where Sardior keeps the fragments of the egg from which he hatched.

Resurrection Egg

Wonderous item, mythic (requires attunement)

This egg resembles a very large ruby egg roughly the size of a halfling. This egg is always warm, regardless of the actual temperature surrounding it. When a creature puts their ear to the egg, they hear a deep heartbeat within.

When the creature attuned to this egg dies, they can choose one of the two following effects to occur 7 days later:

Resurrection. The attuned creature is resurrected as per the spell resurrection with no drawbacks.

Reincarnate. The attuned creature is reincarnated as per the spell reincarnate. The attuned creature can choose from the table which creature they’re reincarnated as.

When a creature is brought back to life using either spell, the creature loses attunement and the egg hatches and a new adult gem dragon is born (d6: 1 - Amethyst, 2 - Emerald, 3 - Sapphire, 4 - Topaz, 5 - Crystal, reroll any 6) and a new egg grows in the hoard of a gem dragon. That gem dragon will become Sardior in the event of his death.

Ruby Armor of Sardior

6th-level abjuration (mythic)

Casting Time: 1 action

Range: Self

Components: V, S, M (a ruby of any value)

Duration: 24 hours

Classes: Wizard

Crushing the ruby used in casting the spell into a dust, and then coating your skin with it, a protective spell is raised. This shield has a total hit point value equal to the GP value of the gem used in casting the spell. Whenever you take damage or when you fail your saving throw against a spell or magical effect from a creature, you can use your reaction to negate it.

Negating damage in this way reduces the remaining hit points of the shield by the amount of damage dealt. Negating a spell in this way reduces the remaining hit points of the shield by ten times the level of the spell. Negating a magical effect in this way reduces the remaining hit points of the shield by ten times the CR of the creature.


About the Author

You can find more of Bryan’s work at his website here and can follow him at Twitter.

Sardior, the Ruby Dragon is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.

The Armorer's Handbook Review

October 06, 2021

The Armorer’s Handbook by @dmheavyarms was a breakout success for the author—a clear demonstration of his expertise as a designer and producer of a polished product. It was an immediate hit and currently sits as one of the all time best-selling products at Dungeon Masters Guild.

This short but dense 28-page supplement provides an easily referenced and quick system to improve and alter your basic weapons and armor. Such upgrades include modifying the armor by proofing, which grants its wearer a small damage threshold for nonmagical slashing damage, or burnishing it to a mirror finish to impress yourself upon others by way of advantage on Charisma-based checks. You can also craft special ammunition such as the berserk dart or bodkin arrows designed to penetrate plate and mail armor. These upgrades also include a variety of different materials such as cold iron, shadowsilk, and dragonhide; as well as optional rules for wear and repair on equipment.

In addition to this, which is enough material to warrant the purchase on its own, the PDF’s next chapter covers a comprehensive system of Rune Magic with regard to how it applies to crafting and armor. Runestones are similar to magic items: found in treasure hoards or behind closely guarded counters in a high-end emporium and requiring identification through the use of the identify spell or spending time with the runestone over a rest. However, unlike magic items, they serve no function on their own. Instead, to benefit from a rune, it must be affixed to equipment that bears the runic tag (an upgrade option from the previous chapter). Runestones can provide benefits such as allowing your weapon to reanimate Small or Medium humanoids as zombies upon death, or provoking rolls on the Wild Magic Surge table when you score a critical hit.

The Rune Magic chapter also includes rules for crafting runestones, a detailed Runesmith’s Guild which provides downtime activity goals for your players as well as potential story hooks for your campaign, and infusions for the Artificer class and a Runesmithing Adept feat to round it out.

Lastly, the PDF is rounded out with an appendix where the lead designer explains their thought processes and answers frequently asked questions, justifies balance, and provides quick reference tables for the various upgrades and runes throughout the book.

Thoughts

Crafting systems in games are a fantastic exploration feature where players get the opportunity to interact with their equipment, mix and match options, and customize it to fit their character’s themes or simply squeeze every last drop of efficiency out of the system. This is prevalent in popular video games such as The Witcher or The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, and is notably missing from the popular table top game Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Throughout the 3rd party and homebrew communities every designer it seems has their take on this system. However, I feel it is safe to say that The Armorer’s Handbook is among the most popular and well liked and it’s evident why.

When 3rd party content is brought to the table, one of the first questions is “Is it balanced?” (What does this mean exactly? Different things to different people! A future blog post might just cover this!)

What The Armorer’s Handbook does is address this question head on, right there in the PDF. There is no need to check reviews, comments on the product page, or ask in your various communities. @dmheavyarms is a show and tell designer, leaving nothing to ambiguity.

The content is rich, immediately useful, and deployable at any table. This is something you can easily introduce to an ongoing campaign, or let your players add to their character’s starting equipment during session zero to give them additional investment in their armaments and texture to their character.

Personally as a Dungeon Master, I am particularly stingy on magic item rewards yet I look at the runestones with excitement to use in my games. Rather than giving my players a dusty old Lightning Caller thats backstory isn’t related to the party, they can improve their heirloom shortsword with the tempest rune and weave the narrative right into the tapestry of their personal story.

I’m also very interested in simply adding the equipment customization properties to equipment the party finds in their travels.

All in all, for a price tag of $9.95, there really is no reason to be on the fence about this product unless you have absolutely no use for crafting in your games.

You can find dmheavyarms here:

twitter: (@dmheavyarms

patreon: heavyarms

discord: Heavy’s Hall of Heroes

and on his website: heavyarms.com where you can purchase the Gunslinger class for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition!