You can find the ever-growing list of “Better Than Nothing” items over on the right. Read ’em, like ’em, share ’em, and comment.
Kwen Chi knelt over Twidward’s body, holding his hand as the dwarf slowly succumbed to his injuries. He was dying. Whatever foulness the creature tainted him with would kill him. There was no doubt about that. And all the monk’s stern resolve, all the cleric’s prayers… none of it would save him.
Yarbi took some of the green leaves from her pouch, carefully stripping the stems–which were more than a little poisonous–and tearing the tiny leaves into a fine mulch. As she walked over, packing her pipe, the rest of her group parted.
As she drew the smoke into her mouth, she breathed it out again and the vapors–smelling of oranges wafting in cool drafts–settled into a cloud over his body. And as he gasped his last, the smoke filled his mouth and woke his eyes and little would be the same after.
System: A delicate handful of sprigs from the leafy bushes of jessamine in the pure places of the world-hard to find, and then only once in a lifetime (for hidden they are by the forces that move nature). They are evergreen and grow slowly the leaves that are plucked (3d10 leaves to start, and they grow back 1 per day).
When plucked carefully, so as not to bruise the sprigs they grow on (DC 10 Survival, 1 action), and prepared for smoking (DC 10 Survival, advantaged if the user has appropriate tools or devices to do this–otherwise, they are making very rustic makeshift hollows or improvised pipes) in a container untouched by any other consumable they bring the gift of life–at a cost. The user must use one leaf for every HD the subject has. The user must spend 1d4 rounds breathing smoke into a cloud around the body.
Any creature that gets (or is subject to) death saves that has died may be brought back to life–with or without their consent. They return to 1hp and lose one of their backgrounds (Ideal, Flaw, Boon, or Bond) of their choice–they may not gain another in its place.
Each time they are “brought back” they lose such a piece of themselves. When they have no more to part with, they lose the benefits of their Background–having forgotten that previous life entirely. They may no longer gain Inspiration through Background. They live, but are somewhat more hollow than they were. They dream of the Green. More and more, they lose themselves.
If, on their next death, they are brought back by any other means (the smoke only works if they have a background), they may select a story-appropriate NEW background (Folk Hero is common, though others at DM discretion; with new Ideals and Flaws, etc.) barely remembering anything of their former life and start play as a level 1 Druid. These manner of rebirths being one way Druids even enter the world.
“…and I’ll be able to save her?”
“Yes, of course, just sign–there–and I really need you to take your time with this. You should read it over, I can recommend some folks to help if you… can… wait, can you… can you read?”
“Aye, sir, a bit–enough. I was charge’o keeping books with Master Filis on the Marrow Wind for a two year stretch. I can read enough for this.”
“Good, right. So, here it spells out–and I really insist you read this and get back to me, truly–that you will be able to cure her of her affliction. That you will be granted these miracles. That you may use them as you will, of course you can’t say where you got them–that’s best for the both of us–and after one year and one day, all is normal. But, really, you should take this home and read it carefully.”
“And… I’ll be… damned?”
“Well… sort of. No. Not really. Not how you think. I mean, yes, you will be–but not eternally or anything. When you die, your soul lies in the balance of the gods as is–so that’s really on you.”
“I’ll sign it, sir.”
“Take your time. Really. It serves us both if you take your time with this.”
System: The Pactkeeper was made by a defiant and angry Warlock of Szzzathenai–a minor fiend far eclipsed by his rivals. The Warlock spent years studying his master’s patronage, the movement of the stars that allowed it, the writs of ancient gods that made it possible, and made a ledger by which he could rise to such a demonic status, himself.
It didn’t work, but the result was a minor tome he could use to empower his own cultists. He grew his power wide, too wide, and was killed by his own cult in short order.
The Pactkeeper is a brown leather book, immaculate and crisp parchment–always looking as though freshly bound. With it, the Warlock may give use of a spell (once per day) to a willing contractor at the cost of that spell slot being available for himself. The contractor may not be influence in any way at all in this decision directly or indirectly by the Warlock for it to work–not even a Persuasion roll. The benefit to the contractor is a magical ability that places them ahead of most in the world, it lasts for a year and a day, they are immune to any mind-alerting powers by the Warlock at the signing of the contract through the period.
At the end of the period, the Warlock gets his spell slot back and the contractor goes back to normal, at a cost. They are cursed (which can be removed by a Greater Restoration) and any ability checks (only ability checks) they make for the rest of their life are disadvantaged, save for those the Warlock bids them to do or tells them they may do.
It is a delicate thing keeping a true cult. Mistreatment of their cultists often yields lethal results.
The Master Key
Bray and Kara were the only two left. The rest had… fallen. Maybe died. It was hard to tell in the thick of it. They’d made short work of the amorphous stalking creatures, but were unprepared… gods, so unprepared, for the Fourth Chamber. For the horrors inside. Already Bray could sense things closing in, more of those shadowy things that leeched life from Billings and caused Handel to go insane.
They were coming. And there was only one way to save themselves.
“Kara…” he started, reaching for the key.
And with grim determination, the swordswoman clenched her jaw shut and barked two words as the darkness moved in…
The word was said, the wizard collapsed, and the slaughter began.
System: The key is actually a lock. Chree Dola Von Chenitch, the Master Enchanter, created it in the early days of the Old Empire in the West to protect his servants from the Elvish hordes that invaded and cast their foul, fae magics.
Today, it is a shadow of its former glory, able to provide its benefit for only one person.
The keyholder must attune to the key–a large, thick and heavy black wrought iron key with no particular cut for the teeth–over a week. Once attuned, once per day he may lock a willing creature’s mind and soul.
Locking a willing creature requires a Reaction, as an arcane unword is spoken into the air, the keyholder brandishing it in their direction. Immediately, bands of thick black pig iron, magically tempered and adamantine flash about and surround the target’s eyes, ears, forehead, jaw… inch wide black iron bands wrapping around their head leaving barely the room needed to breathe.
Immediately, the keyholder is rendered prone and poisoned as his body is wracked with quintessence from the raw magics he unleashed. His physical substance becomes somewhat ethereal–a 50% that any melee or ranged weapon attacks (even natural ones like claws) miss entirely after damage is calculated. These conditions stay while the subject is locked, cannot be removed in any way.
The locked creature is wholly immune to mind-affecting magic, spells, and is advantaged on saves versus spell and spell-like effects. During this time, they have Truesight 60ft. but may not make any Int or Wis based checks of any kind. They remain this way for 1 minute and the keyholder may release them at any time.
Muria’s Jessamine was awesome and terrifying all at once. The concept is really great, and I think it works really well. I’m going to add a little bit of divine flavour to it and inject it into my campaign.