You can find the ever-growing list of “Better Than Nothing” items over on the right. Read ’em, like ’em, share ’em, and comment.
Travel light. Travel fast. That’s the difference between living and dying in the wild. That’s what Faber said, years ago, and that’s what Wexel took to heart.
He’d won the knife in a game of Demon Dice in the low streets of Zoa. The halfsie that lost it was awfully mad, that’s for sure. It took the better part of a day to figure on what was so precious about it, but ever since then ole Wex had been happy as can be to have it on his belt.
Let the great bastards of the world scramble for money and jewels and load their packs–the smart money is on travellin’ fast and light. Just like Faber used to say.
System: The Woodsman’s Knife was made by a former Ranger who took up his luck with the Rockseeker dwarves and helped with security at their mine. As a reward for his loyal service, he was granted one boon–and being the practical sort he was, he asked for a piece of the stone and steel wonder known as the Forge of Spells. More as a novelty and luck charm than anything, truly.
Years later he’d worked that bit of steel into a crude, simple knife with an antler hilt. And it made its way through the world ever since.
The Woodsman’s knife has only one property, any wooden object carved by the knife becomes a +1 magic weapon for 1 minute. For the most part, this means the rough shaping of clubs or improvised weapons of that sort and the short life of the magic makes it all but pointless to spend more than a few moments carving anything to shape, but when using a bonus action to sharpen an arrow shaft (a very small and simple object), the clever huntsman is never far from an arsenal.
With a bonus action, the carver can make a Survival Check. On a 5+, he shaves together 3 rough shafts–the arrows have half of their normal range (for each increment/designation), gains the +1 to attack, but a -1 to damage for being blunt. On a 10+ he manages a finer point, half the range still, but a +1 to attack and a +0 to damage instead of the penalty. on a 15+ he manages a much smoother and truer craft, half the range, but a true +1 to attack and damage. On a 20+, normal range and +1 to attack and damage like a true magic weapon (3 arrows are the result of each check). The knife is useless as a weapon, being crude and short.
The Bones of Shog
While Paxter and the gang hunched around fire, drizzling rain threatening to snuff it and leave them chaffed, aching, cold, and moist for yet another night on this damned mission, Remie was as jovial as ever. What had been a high-spirited welcome addition to the group two weeks ago was quickly souring.
“…and then I told her–right after, you know–I says to her, ‘sorry, sweet girl, but I seem to have misplaced my purse’!” the bawdy warrior was fond of lurid tales of her exploits on and off the battlefield. It was charming before the rains set in and the rations went down to corn brittles.
“Pax! Did you hear? I said to her ‘I misplaced my purse’! I had to run out of there hitching my pants up while the tavern owner chased me with a crossbow! Damndest fucking thing, huh?” she laughed. Timmet chuckled, the rest–Paxter included–sulked. The forest here was overrun with monsterous creatures, they’d had their run ins for three nights in a row–everyone was on edge, but not Remie. Paxter had enough.
“Dammit, Rem! Why don’t you shut the hell up for once?”, he grumbled his frustrations, laced as they were with all the shittiness of the last few wet nights of trying not to get killed.
Remie spit into the fire, the grin never leaving her face.
“I got no worries, Pax–out here in this crap… this isn’t how I die.”
System: The Bones of Shog are a collection of a dozen small broken bits of finger, ankle, rib, and other bone fabled to have come from the great Seer, Shog–the Knower, the Faithful, the Speaker of Tales. They rest in a leathern sack on a twisted thong, unremarkable.
Once attuned–requiring being Poisoned for a full 24 hours (this can be done with various mild poisons, specially crafted to last the duration; though often it is done by the attuner staying well drunk for that period)–the bearer hangs the pouch around their neck like an amulet or medallion. Two things happen, immediately:
- The DM will write down the day, manner, and perpetrator of the bearer’s death. This should come in the form of, generally, how many days (months, years if needed) they have left or a particular year and day (if the campaign tracks that); a description of the scene (scents, sounds, natural or architectural features); a true, but cryptic allusion to the felling act itself (“a chilly laugh” could mean an ice-breath weapon from a White Dragon or the verbal component of a spell from warlock of an Arch-Fey); etc. This is written down, secretly tucked away (for best effect, put it in an envelope, have the player write across the flap when sealed).
- Until that moment is reached or until something intervenes Divinely or casts a Wish to alter the bearer’s fate, the bearer will not die. They can be reduced to 0 hp, they can be maimed or crippled or locked away–death is not the only way to be “removed from play” and DM’s are encouraged to use attacks on the PC, if at 0 to mark them in some way, but the PC makes no death saves anymore. On that day, however, in that circumstance–as they do not roll death saves anymore, when they are brought to 0 hp, they die. There is no possible way to bring them back (this should encourage the PC to perhaps enjoy their life, but truly fear their coming death and wish to alter their stars eventually).
Once attuned, it stays attuned until Fate changes or the PC dies. It cannot be attuned to another PC or NPC until it runs this course.
The Long Breath
Sir Broadways could hear his own pulse thundering, receding, thundering, and receding. The chime of that lock so regular, so familiar–a comfort. Rath was fending off the advance of most of the goblins up the southern path, Miranda continued to direct that spectral… thing… to shove and blast those that had made it into the grove. Broadways effortlessly lanced his pike through the nearest gob, it screeched its bastard tongue as it died.
As the battle lumber on and the creatures closed in, finally their master tore free from the trees that hid him. Eight feet tall, clad in hard leathers and rusted plates, the skulls of others caught in this trap hanging from his belt next to a mace with a head like a bale of hay.
Broadways breathed. Thunder, recede. And again. Thunder. And again… and the woods and the battle went silent.
The paladin gripped his pike, stepped forward, and prayed to the Valiant, himself, to watch over his allies this day.
System: Not lost on the (admittedly few) senior priests and clerics who appreciate irony amongst those of the Hall of Oaths, the church of the Valiant is that one of their most sacred relics should be so humble when their most public followers and champions should appear so regal in their adornment.
The Breath is a scarf of simple worn cloth, undyed and of common cotton. Attuning to it requires a careful seven-day series of blessings that must be administered by a holy of a LG temple and willingly so. A hand is wrapped in the scarf for a day of prayer, the next day the other hand is wrapped for another day of prayer, then each foot, then held to the chest, then the head, and on the last day it is worn about the neck.
Once attuned, the wearer may use its special ability once, it recharges this ability once per month when they speak a short prayer to the LG gods for their blessing after a long rest.
When activated (requiring one action), the DM rolls 1d4 (this is the “Duration” number) and records the number on a piece of paper or index card to the side, face down.
The wearer may not take a bonus action, may move only half their base movement (if they have not yet moved), and may not take a reaction until the beginning of their next turn. In the time between now and then, the world slows (from the wearer’s point of view) until it virtually stops. The Count starts at 0.
At the start of their next, if the Duration is less than the Count, the world surges back to its proper time and the wearer takes a number of points of Exhaustion equal to the Duration + 1, they may take their turn as normal. If this is not the case (the DM is the one checking), then they must decide to continue the Long Breath–the great slowing of the world–or not. If they choose to not continue it then reveal the Duration number. If the Duration number higher than the Count, the Breath ends and the world catches up and they may take their turn as normal. If the Duration is equal to the Count, the world snaps back abruptly and the wearer takes 1 exhaustion, but may continue their turn as normal otherwise.
The PC may take their turn as normal, but their movement is halved and they may not take Reactions.
At the end of their turn, raise the Count by 1. All other turns, counts, durations, and actions (and reactions) by all other parties are suspended (as they are frozen in time). This includes progress on poisons or spell effects. The wearer starts another turn (begin the “at the start of their next turn” sequence with the DM checking if the Duration is less than the Count…” and on).
For the Woodsmans blade, when you say make a Survival check – against what DC?
Not against any particular DC–the total goes to what comes out of it, described right after that sentence… “on a 5+… on a 10+”
The description for The Long Breath is a little confusing. Here’s how I understand it: if you end the Breath early, you’re fine. If not, you take a level of Exhaustion. If you go over the Duration, you also gain a number of levels of Exhaustion equal to the Duration. Is that right? If so, I’d suggest changing it to “after ending the Breath, the user gains a number of Exhaustion levels equal to [the Count – the Duration], minimum 0.”
Apt analysis, and a good suggestion.
Thanks, Flannel. Keep up the good work!
For the bones, does the player get any of the information that the DM writes down at the time of attunement?
They do not. I suggest writing down the particulars (what there are) on an index card and putting it in an envelope or similarly secure tamper-proof place. Bring it out when their death happens. Voila.
For example, if the card says “A year hence there will be a woman, child of a maker, and from her hand and smile the asps will bite inside you”… that’s off to the side and maybe a Tavern wench, a forgettable NPC, mixes up the cups and poison that was intended for some other assassination (off camera) accidentally gets served to the PC. Death. Rip open the flap, show the contents.
What the player should try and do is find ways to Divine out what’s on the card. Commune spells from the Cleric… Divination magic… etc. There’s nothing that says they CAN’T know, only that they don’t start off knowing.