“Better Than Nothing” Items are low or risky magic items that we homebrew here at Many Sided Dice for your campaign. You can find the table of contents over on the right. Read ’em, like ’em, share ’em, and comment.
The sword cleaved through Vogh Maute’s gorget and clanged against the sandstone floor, exploding tiny drops of blood all around as it bounced and bounced and lay still.
Bishwat rolled around Vogh Korda left as the hobgoblin raised his mace–the dread Mali’s Fury that felled dozens in the battle of The Five Plains. Behind the soldier, Bishwat reached up–straining on his toes to reach the haft held high–and twisted it free of the old campaigner’s grip, bring it sailing around in an underhand swing that broke through the plate greaves and crushed the bastard’s knee in from the side.
As the Vogh’s screams died into gurgles of pain, Bishwat looked across the hall at the officers and their staff. All dead or maimed or crawling away… he bent at the waist, propped his hands on his knees and felt all the old aches and pains come back. He was getting too old for this, and so young.
System: The mad ranger Vetter Wex held off thirty years of armies, from the Imperial First of Kalamar to the raids of the Yellowhand and Smallwood tribes to the devastatingly driven hobgoblins of the Western Marches. Nearly single handedly, he survived famine and cold and curses and plagues, held up in the passes in a murderous spree. The Old Man–the god of war himself–blessed Wex on his death (of old age, unbeaten) and the pale grey gloves he wore took to divine power.
The gloves are a rough, utilitarian hide, grey faded from use, but in respectable condition. Attuning to the gloves confers the ability (if not otherwise possessed) to attempt disarms against opponents with two special considerations, only possible if their hands are free going into the disarm:
- Upon successfully disarming an opponent of a weapon, the glove-wearer is considered to be holding the weapon themselves in a ready manner; this is considered their “draw” as well for the turn.
- On the same turn they disarm, and wield, an opponent’s weapon they may use their bonus action to attack with that weapon as if proficient (they may receive any passive bonuses to damage or employ any automatic effects from it, if magical, even if attunement is required–but any active/chosen benefits or charge/purchased effect is not possible.
At the start of their turn, if they are wielding a weapon, they gain 1 exhaustion. Avoiding this is as simple as dropping the weapon at the end of the previous turn’s activities. Dropping, in this manner, can be done in their own square or any adjacent one.
The Vessel of Men
“Brother, you should be proud…” Halbeck grinned as he heated the pipe and needle again. He’d been delicately warming the inks and considered this tattoo to be his finest one yet.
“Everyone is going to shit, I swear. Going. To. Shit.” On and on–he loved the sound of his own voice, Crawshaw mused as the burning and stinging continued up and down his back.
I shouldn’t complain, Craw thought as the needle pricked him again. He’s good enough people, him and the brotherhood. And if tomorrow went well, the Emperor would favor him with a reward, no doubt. Craw wasn’t sure if he could really go through with it, some of the brothers seemed absolutely excited to storm the Academy.
it was for the greater good, and he told himself that often, but some of those mages were just kids…
“All done, my good sir!” Hal beamed at his work and slapped Craw wetly on the back. “Yes, sir, everyone is going to absolutely shit, tomorrow!” His grin was warm, and Craw would forever remember that grin with shame and regret.
System: The Vessel was once a suit of fine, silvery armor that protected the wearer from magic–entirely. As though a perfect antimagic field surrounding his body (every inch). But, centuries go by and much is lost. Now, the Vessel is but the melted down scraps of that artifact–a silvery, flowing metal, broken down by the punishments of fighting warlocks and wizards and other abnormal creatures. The Brotherhood uses the substance in an ornate series of tattoos on flesh, shining silver against the skin.
Attunement is accomplished with the 8 hour application of the tattoo (the symbol is considered important, but in truth it’s only the metal that is–in any pattern), afterward, it takes a long rest to properly and fully attune to the Vessel (its fragments, anyway).
The Vessel grants the wearer magic resistance (a far cry from what it was in time’s long past)–advantage on saves versus magical effects. It also treats magical piercing, slashing, or bludgeoning damage as normal damage for resistance purposes and any creature that is resistant to damage from non-magical sources are not resistant to the wearer of the Vessel–all damage from the wearer ignores resistance from non-magical weapons.
The downside is that any spell that designates a willing target has a 50% chance of failing (determined after the attempt and before the final result). Magic items worn by the wearer of the Vessel function only as their non-magical version would. Spells the wearer casts have a 50% chance of failure (determined after the attempt, before the result). This does not impact class features or abilities that grant supernatural effects, unless that effect is due to a spell (which is governed by the fail chance).
As the Band of Fellows tracked the dwarf through the crags and outcroppings for the third day, they began to feel more than a little worried. This was the second time they’d run across one of the Emperor’s soldiers lying there in the pass. Like the last one, he was well enough alive, but tired and bolt-shot through the leg, barely strong enough to stand.
They tried their best, as ever, but also like the last one, nothing they could do could remove the bolts or help the soldier. The projectile looked no more interesting than any ash stick, but the thing seemed to weigh a ton.
On the fifth day, they saw the remnants of the squad sent up here last week… moaning and half-dead men pinned to the ground like flies in a physicker’s case. They delivered mercy.
On the twelfth, Louis took a bolt in the chest from some far shot, and it was as though he’d been struck by a double-handed swing of a giant’s club. The cleric went flying and not all their strength could get him up again.
It was on the fourteenth day that they turned around and went home, never having found the dwarf they’d come for. It wasn’t the cold or the sun or the mountain that made their choice for them, it was the great big dragon, shot through with a dozen bolts, howling its last breath… unable to stand.
System: A heavy crossbow, the Trapper’s Bow was fashioned by the dwarves of the Dela Mountains to catch large and dangerous predators. Itself, the crossbow weighs nearly 150 lbs., wrought of solid steel scribed in dwarvish runes and trimmed in copper that doesn’t rust.
The stock of the weapon holds 12 bolts, and serves as its quiver. Any crossbow bolts kept in the weapon become enchanted after 24 hours. The combination of enchanted bolts (from the bow) and the crossbow itself effects any shot using both.
The crossbow (when shooting its bolts, which must be loaded as normal) works at half-range (half for long and short) for a heavy crossbow and does only normal amounts of damage (though is considered a +0 magic weapon). But on a successful hit, the bolt becomes metallic and weighty–increasing in diameter to stay stuck in the flesh and increasing in density and weight to 100 lbs. Threatening the encumbrance of the target accordingly.
Removing a bolt requires an action and a DC10 Dex check. Upon removal, it becomes a normal bolt again.
The Trapper’s Bow cannot be placed in an extra dimensional space–Bag of Holding, etc. Nor can it leave this plane (any magical travel that involves planar travel succeeds but leaves it behind).