Spells of Innistrad in D&D: Triskaidekaphobia

This post is going up on the day after a Friday the 13th! Spooky! So this week, I thought I’d make a compilation of Innistrad’s spells that reference the number 13. 

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Army of the Damned
8th-level necromancy
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: 10 feet
Components: S, V, M (a piece of rotting flesh)
Duration: Instantaneous

Choose exactly 13 humanoid corpses within range. These corpses are animated under your control as Zombies. On each of your turns, you can use a bonus action to mentally command every zombie you made with this spell if the creature is within 60 feet of you. You decide what action the zombie will take and where it will move during its next turn, or you can issue a general command, such as to guard a particular chamber or corridor. If you issue no commands, each zombie spends its turn moving towards and attacking the nearest living creature to it. Once given an order, the creature continues to follow it until its task is complete. The creature is under your control for 24 hours, after which it stops obeying any command you’ve given it. To maintain control of the creature for another 24 hours, you must cast this spell on the creature again before the current 24-hour period ends. This use of the spell reasserts your control over exactly 13 zombies you have animated with this spell, rather than animating a new one.

This spell is potentially more powerful than other spells that raise undead (particularly Animate Dead, as this spell allows you to raise more zombies), but carries an important distinction: The Zombies summoned with this spell get hungry when left to their own devices. With 13 zombies, I felt that was an appropriately unlucky addition to the spell raising a small army for the caster.

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Blasphemous Act
8th-level evocation
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: S, V, M (a holy symbol worth at least 10gp and a drop of blood)
Duration: Instantaneous

You unleash a ravaging wave of hellish energies, slaughtering your foes and laying low the devout. All other creatures within a 50-foot sphere centred on you must make a Constitution saving throw, suffering 13d6 necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much on a success. Any Cleric, Paladin, Aasimar or Celestial affected by this spell suffers double the normal amount of damage. If this spell is cast within a place of worship, such as a temple or shrine, affected creatures have disadvantage on the saving throw.

With this spell, I really wanted to reflect the flavour of it as a direct attack against the holy, which inspired me to add the bonus damage dealt to celestials, clerics and paladins, and the higher chance of damage in places of worship for the caster to desecrate with their Blasphemous Act.

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Into the Maw of Hell
6th-level conjuration
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 100 feet
Components: S, V, M (a piece of sulfur)
Duration: Instantaneous
You tear a rift below a creature, dragging it into a realm of fire and death.
A 10-foot-radius circle portal

to a random location on the lower planes

appears beneath a creature within range. All creatures within the radius must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, a creature

suffers 13d4 fire damage and falls into the portal, and is transported to the portal’s destination, where it lands prone. On a successful save, a creature suffers half as much damage. Following this, the portal remains in place, centred on the target’s location when the spell was cast. The portal counts as difficult terrain, and when any creature that ends its turn within the portal it must attempt this save. The portal

remains open for 13 days, or until sealed by magical means (such as casting greater restoration on the land where it was opened), and can be used by other creatures to willingly move through from either side. Unwilling creatures may attempt the saving throw to avoid moving through the portal.

For this spell, I really wanted to emulate the flavour of a flaming portal that sucks the victim into a setting-appropriate hell (hence why I used the lower planes – it covers basic D&D settings, but can easily be changed for other settings like Innistrad itself). I thought adding the portal as an ongoing effect would be an interesting addition, as it presents perhaps more problems than killing an enemy with the spell will solve.

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Tragic Slip
1st-level evocation
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 100 feet
Components: S, V
Duration: Instantaneous

One creature within range must make a Dexterity saving throw, falling prone on a failure. If another creature was reduced to zero hit points this round, the target also suffers 13d6 bludgeoning damage.

Tragic slip has been one of my favourite removal cards since I started playing magic (despite it killing my Avacyn a few times), so I wanted to have it work in the same manner as the spell which is ordinarily a minor debuff, that then suddenly becomes a shocking piece of creature removal if a certain condition is met. As such, dropping prone is the minor debuff, then if another creature has been taken down to zero hit points, just like on the card, is the sudden high damage which will often knock a creature out of combat for good. I toyed with the sudden extra damage being based on a save failed by a certain amount, but felt that doing it that way would prevent it from removing creatures more likely to succeed on the save, which are the high-powered targets like Avacyn that this spell would be cast against.

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Triskaidekaphobia
4th-level enchantment
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 100 feet
Components: S, V, M (13 small, similar objects, such as 13 shards of glass)
Duration: 24 hours
You call bend a creature’s mind with an overwhelming fear of the number 13. One creature within range must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or for the duration become afraid of anything that numbers exactly thirteen, such as thirteen similar objects, a group of thirteen creatures, or hearing a sound or word repeated thirteen times. When the affected creature encounters thirteen things in this manner, it becomes afraid, and can spend its turn

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moving away from the source of its fear. In addition, if at any point for the duration that creature is on exactly 13 hit points, or suffers exactly 13 points of damage, it is immediately reduced to zero hit points. If the affected creature rolls a 13 on any attack roll, ability check or saving throw, treat the result as a failure.

For the iconic Triskaidekaphobia itself, I wanted to focus on the spell’s flavour as fear, using fear-based abilities to get that effect that a victim of this spell is going to go into a panic from encountering a thirteen. To reflect the card’s win-con mechanic, I also added the instant-reduction to zero hit points from 13 damage. The conditions of this spell aren’t super easy to meet, but when they can be met, it’s a spell to be, well, feared!

Hopefully no bad luck or superstitions curse your party or dice rolls this week! For more of my Innistrad content, click here! If you want to support my work, you can make a donation to my ko-fi here, or support me on Patreon here for early access to upcoming content and patron-only design process posts.

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