Great Old Worms, Faen Masks, and Fiendish Resurrection

You can find the ever-growing list of “Better Than Nothing” items  over on the right. Read ’em, like ’em, share ’em, and comment.

Worms of Purgation

Bast knelt over the fallen soldier and repeated himself (For the third time), “You. You will eat this.” The pink and grey things in his hand wriggled and dripped a pale white oily substance that seemed to flow friction-less through the grass and dirt.

Karl was dying. The emperor’s edicts on dark magic extended to this village and the rumors of a witch. For once, the rumors were true. Half the squad was dead, and their attaché–a very peculiar warlock–seemed entirely untroubled by the destruction and waste. Karl, himself, had been vomiting blood and watching his extremities blacken for an hour.

Karl was dying. The warlock seemed genial and had been politely reminding him every few minutes to “eat” a horrific, writhing mass of… things… unnatural things.

“It is medicine. It is good. It will taste bad, but this is the way of it”, the tiefling smiled and pushed the squirming alien things toward his mouth again. A sudden surge of nausea rose again, and he saw a tooth in the pool of blood he’d heaved up from it–and before he could protest, Bast shoved a handful of the things into his mouth. The taste was burned licorice and what rotting fruit does to your nostrils, as he chewed and convulsed, to his horror he could feel the pieces of them go cold and try wriggling their way back out of his mouth.

System: Ebliss, the Great Old One of the Bright Reach (Dark Heart of the sky, Lord of the Bridge) incubated a tendril of his dying glory in the heart of a Solar. The angel died and the decomposing worm-like creatures that gnawed their way out of its body were collected by some of his most loyal and kept in a glass jar, scribed in madness-inducing runes. The jar itself demands a DC15 CHA save every time one looks at it or touches it (within the same scene). Failure demands a roll for madness. If the person is a Warlock, it is short-term (from the short-term madness table). If they are an arcane caster (of any kind), it is from the medium-term table. All others, it is long-term. There are two handfuls of “worms” in the jar. Ingesting a handful of worms removes curses, poison, disease, fright, and the effects of being charmed. The ingestor makes a DC 20 Con save or spend the next round vomiting bad blood and pus, yielding 1 exhaustion afterward. The jar never permanently runs out. It replenishes 1 handful every 24 hours to a maximum of 2.

The Goodfellow Edge

Gwendolyn held the mask in her hands and cried. The rest of the fellowship were sleeping, but she told them she’d take the watch and spent the time finishing the stitching. In truth, she needed most of that time to settle herself. She stared into the empty eye holes, holding it in such a way that she looked it directly in the face. The hairline was straight, better than she’d ever done with socks or dresses as a little girl. The knife saw to that, too, it seems.

If the Lightbringer or Weilon of Kor woke and saw her with the mask–saw how she had to create it, she was done for. It was all she could do to hide the excesses of her pact from the group. They knew, of course, but vague hints of her Patron were safer than knowing. If they knew what she’d done… what she’d had to do… the thought shamed her, and doubly so as she realized how normal it all seemed these days. She no longer had bad dreams of the things she’d done, and enjoyed the fruits of them more and more. And that was sad, a sadness that wouldn’t leave her.

She slipped the mask on and felt the warm kiss and embrace of the Master of Revels, and her crying turned to joy and her sadness to a madness that felt like springtime and tasted like whatever kissing a god must taste like.

Lightbringer woke first, as always, and frowned at the gruff, unshaven mercenary standing watch over by the fire.

“There’s something… unnatural about that, Gwen.” he said as he slipped on his socks and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He didn’t approve of this sort of thing, however she did it.

Gwen, her voice deep and gravelly with that same Brolenish accent that mercenary had, laughed and smiled–at least her laughing eyes and smile still seemed to be her.

“Lighten up, Bringer”, he hated when she called him that, “You just miss my sweet ass, maybe I’ll stay this way, huh?” She lewdly joked and chuckled while grabbing her crotch. Others, waking, laughed along with her. That Gwen, always full of life and mirth. Not a care in the world.

System: The Edge is a small seamstress’ trimming knife, the blade barely two inches long and curved to assist a tailor or garment master in slicing neat lines through heavy cloth. It is neither ornate nor especially noteworthy. However, it was left in the world from an Arch-Fey of truly dark and decadent humor. Once attuned, warlocks of the Arch-Fey (any) may use its abilities without issue. The knife must be used to cut free the face of a living creature (they may die afterward or not, it doesn’t matter). The face, itself, will come to life and feel warm and even try to move limitedly (but with no lungs or tongue or eyes or significant muscles, it’s only unnerving). When sewn into the form of a leather mask (with hair, any will do–even fake–and elements to strap it to one’s head), the mask stops moving and “living” and the following night (at midnight) the bearer may slip the mask on and “become” the person it represents. This “becoming” extends to looking like them, as though a physically perfect disguise self (not illusory, but physically real), sounding like them (including accent and even idiomatic language), adopting their racial template (any changes to stats from that), Should the “victim” survive losing their face, the “bearer” is advantaged when attempting any action the “victim” has taken in the previous round. This does not grant class features or abilities, but if the “victim” survives and regrows a face, and attacks a creature, then the “Bearer” is advantage in their own attack on a creature (the mimicry is what matters). If the “victim” casts a spell, the “Bearer” may pantomime casting a spell (with advantage) if they don’t have spells. If they climb, the “Bearer” can make a climb with advantage. If they dance, dance with advantage. If they sneak, sneak with advantage. Their stats or ability to apply proficiency does not change. Where the action cannot be done (spell one doesn’t have or class feature), they are advantaged to mimic and pantomime it such that it looks authentic (except for outcome) with a Performance. Etc. The mask is sympathetic to its former body. Removing a mask destroys it and takes 1 minute of careful severing and cutting away; or it can be ripped off for 1d4 necrotic damage in one action. Should anyone NOT a Warlock of an Arch-Fey use the edge and make and wear a mask, the effect is permanent.

The Fire of Life

Wyatt died on that bridge. He felt his bones snap and the weight of the giant club crushing him against the stones like you’d crush a beetle under your thumbnail. The pain was real, and the echo of it in his mind was more torturous than the original impact.

He saw, for a moment, his friends rushing forward to attack the giant… and then nothing. Black, smoke, hot, fires, stink, grinding and roars in the distance. The black gave birth to a wasted and blasted outcropping of grey and black stone crushed under a red and acrid sky.

“Hello Wyatt…” the grumble and grind shaped itself to words, “You trouble again?” the grind turned into a low cackle like dropping gravel into a pond. Deep, round, and chaotic.

“You trouble. I give you back?”, it asked. It always asked. It just wanted him to beg. To Plea. And so he did. He lamented his fate, he squeezed out insincere tears, he spent days beating his breast and wailing for help. And, as always, it came.

After days in that hellscape, Wyatt returned. Appearing out of nowhere, naked, just moments after he left, watching his friends attack the giant and force it back on the bridge to the other side. He knelt over the polished grey amulet laying on the ground right where he’d vanished, his clothes and arms surrounding it as though they were afraid. Every time was worse… to the others, he seemed to be the man that never dies–but he remembers finding the Fire in a pile of clothes, untouched for decades. He often wondered why that man had never come back.

System: The Fire is an amulet made from the blasted stones in an Abyssal demiplane. A polished circle, like a riverstone, smooth and hanging on a steel chain. Once attuned, the wearer is protected from death itself by a powerful Fiend. Should the wearer drop to 0 HP, they are (without choice) transported (for the purposes of things that force saves against planar travel, the Fiend’s CHA save is +15) to his tiny hell. None of his equipment comes with him and stays where he left (unless picked up by others). Once there, they may spend a few days (out of time) convincing him they should go back. Roll 1d20. On anything but a 2, the PC is allowed to return in 1d4 rounds at half HP. On a 2 (only a 2), the Fiend is unmoved and turns his great mind to other things–the player is trapped in that hell forever. Once returned to the world, though, the wearer is no longer attuned to the Fire. It requires another short or long rest to re-attune to the item.

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