This is the second in a series of blogs where I'll go through and talk about my experiences with COFSA, hitting you with trivia, lore, and interesting things about the content.
Also, the pre-order for the hardcovers has been placed! Once they arrive and are signed, you'll get them!
Storm Lord blog musical theme: Savage Circus - Chasing the Rainbow
Or if you're more into the chill: Gramatik - The Unfallen Kingdom
So, here's the Storm Lord, depicted beautifully by the excellent Vincent Van Hoof. It was the second piece of art commissioned for COFSA. Vincent does an absolutely magnificent job with the details in this piece and really threw me when he first showed me the initial sketch. His eldritch horrors are truly eldritch - the head is actually eerily similar to a pair of hooked medical pincers, the lightning swirls like tentacles, and the souls captured in the storm are clearly visible as tiny humanoid figures. The tower in the distance conveys a sense of the incredible scale involved, though it's difficult to truly put in perspective.
In the Distant Past
The Storm Lord was the second Otherworldly Patron I wrote, back when this all began. I was heavily inspired by the Storm King, from the now-classic game Demon's Souls, and when I discovered this excellent artwork, I couldn't help but begin to write.
The Storm Lord's core theme was majesty, first and foremost. It is bigger, grander, and above all other things. Definitions of good and evil do not apply to it, because it is more like a force of nature. The monumental power of the Storm Lord is conveyed primarily because of how present it can be. You can take this eldritch thing and unleash it, without warning, on your world at any moment and totally change the course of the game. There will always be a storm somewhere bringing havoc, and the Lord shall herald that tempest.
From Rain to Ruin
When I was writing the Storm Lord, I wanted the mechanics to convey majesty first and elemental power second. This patron probably changed the least of any, though its spell list was greatly improved by Awakening.
1. Majesty of the Cloud Ruler has remained effectively the same from initial concept until now. Neat!
2. Breath of the Gale went through some mechanical changes, but the concept has stayed the same. It gives the warlock the ability to use fog cloud in a way entirely unavailable to anyone else, as a curious replacement for the classic Devil's Sight invocation & darkness combo.
3. Rider of Lightning is one of my favorite features, because it allows for some really interesting gameplay. By casting a spell like call lightning, where you can deal lightning damage multiple times, you can teleport with each instance, allowing you to flash around the battlefield like a true spirit of the storm.
4. The capstone feature, Slayer of the King, is a direct reference to the Demon's Souls boss fight I mentioned previously. In that fight, you gain a fantastic sword that allows you to unleash devastating shockwaves, allowing you to cut into the sky to kill the Storm King. It's an absolutely incredible visual and I felt required to capture it in part and make it available in 5th Edition. The reason it deals flat damage, instead of including a roll, is because so few things have that degree of pure, reliable, solid damage output. Plus, you can cut a castle in half.
5. Invocations. These were fun to create, because they really push how mobile a warlock can be while still keeping it in that eldritch tone. Grimoire of Endless Rain allows the warlock to create a small storm for their own use, which has great synergy with call lighting . One comment: If you're a warlock using this, and your group isn't happy about constant rain in their environment, ask if you can keep the effects without the weather change! The Spark Seeker familiar is one of my favorites, because I never intended it to be this adorable. Seriously, look at it's cute little eyes! I wanted to keep it vaguely insect-like as tribute to the original Storm King and it's flying manta-like children, and Nicolas Espinzoa delivered excellently.
The College of Harbingers came about because I wanted to be contrary. Honestly, many of my subclass choices for COFSA were specifically because nobody would think that would be the route I took. I wanted to make a melee, martial-like bard that didn't have Extra Attack. Instead, I envisioned a lithe and powerful warrior leaping around, wielding a glaive or lance and skewering each enemy, knocking them prone and driving them into the dirt. The subclass is specifically designed to subtly link up with the warlock option, so if you take both, you'll really be able to make that character come to life.
I also like the mechanic of other players using their reactions in response to your features, which The Unfallen Kingdom is intended to highlight. It's a great way to show the class has supportive elements without requiring the bard to focus on making that happen directly.
The Heraldic race was interesting for me because, like several other Alfallen, this one is intended to redeem a concept I felt has been done poorly or is otherwise incorrectly supported. In this case, the idea is flight as a racial feature. Normally, player characters don't start getting access to flying until 5th level or even later, meaning that flying before then is often considered particularly valuable, especially if it's free. To that end, I decided to make it expensive, but in a way that everyone could feasibly afford. At 1st level, flying can easily kill you if you're not careful. Using Soul Ignition and flying straight upward is a one-way ticket to the kingdom in the sky, but probably not the way you'd hope! The reason I tied it to damage and a bonus action is because the classes that benefit most from the utility of flight are often least-equipped to pay the price, and vice-versa. Classes with a lot of durability are often melee, like the Barbarian, and so flying is useful but it won't save them from taking damage. Likewise, ranged classes like the Ranger or Rogue often need their bonus actions to fuel other, equally important features, and flying would just make them bigger targets for other ranged attackers. Wizards and sorcerers often don't have the hit points to fly for a long time, so they need to be sparing about how often they use this.
The spell unstoppable ascent is one of my favorites, because I always wanted to play a character who could just grab someone and throw them into the sky. It's pure, simple, and visually spectacular.
Curiously, the Storm Lord doesn't have a direct parallel in opposition among the other Alrisen. If you want to challenge its authority with another, I'd suggest the Serpent Empress or the Wild Huntsman. The Empress could seek to tame or control the Storm Lord, given it's slightly serpentine nature and appearance, and the Huntsman would love to bring it down and kill it for obvious reasons. In my games, I plan to introduce it directly as a sign of the end, when everything reaches the climax of the adventure and there's no going back from that point onward.
What's your Storm Lord like? Have you played a warlock or bard or barbarian or even a cleric associated with this patron?
I'm planning on writing about the Shadowcat next, so tell me which patron I should write about after that!
Thanks for reading!