A Dashing Shield, Crossbow Love, and Steve Rogers…

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

Heraldic Shield of Marquis Stasch

Patrician Fylo ir’Crenum stood in the practice yard with his peers and sworn mortal enemies. The young men all stood about in the very finest hose and boots and waistcoats with perfect silk blouses. Their manicured and perfumed and oiled style dripping with the weight of money and privilege. Not a one of them knew the first thing about a real swordfight, but then… none of them much-needed to, either.

As they stood, Baron ir’Dala’s son (Fylo’s least favorite cousin) showed off his rapier—tempered corewein steel embossed in gold filigree with a circle of pearl in the heart of the tapperpeak.  Tasteful, Fylo was hardly jealous though, he’d seen the same weapon in a gentleman’s shop at the capitol last season.

Wotley (of the Haverwood Wotley’s) sighed and flapped his hand, dismissing the artisan’s work as he brandished his shield—an elvish design, shaped like a woman’s hip and elegantly flowing into rings of pure silver toward the hem, the steel enameled a bright green with emerald dust mixed in to give the whole thing a glittering shine.

Hamlin, the son of a bitch, shrugged at all the bold showing off and nodded over to Marquis Stasch’s firstborn over by the fence, his heraldic shield over his shoulder in the perfect display of casual affluence and feigned disinterest.

It was stunning. Bold lines with a thick golden border–daring, challenging the eye to look away. The steel was polished to a mirror shine—subtle. The crae of the peak was—oh, gods—was that bone? Pure bone? Glossed to a piercing shine? And it had a shadowmark–that complete cunt had a damn shadowmark…

Fylo felt woozy and nearly fainted. He found himself shamed and aroused and angry and jealous—it was perfect.

System: The Marquis Stasch, famously wealthy and indiscreetly ambitious about one day joining his house and dynasty over Greyghast with a member of the royal family, was the most exquisitely defined man of his time. His line stretched back to the old empire, his progeny were born into levels of sovereign prestige most nobles spend a lifetime acquiring.

The family’s heraldic shield, bearing the perfect hint beneath the surface, of the steel of their sigil in a wavering shadow somehow visible under the polished face—a crown, dark and suggestive—was one of his most famous accessories when he rode before his people.

The shield itself is fantastically expensive—made of pure (nearly white) hotaired Dwarvish steel—rimmed in a thick rolled gold. One may attune to it only if one is noble blood or titled as nobility and then only after participating (win or loss) in a duel amongst peers.

Once attuned, however, the shield allows the bearer to use their Charisma Bonus instead of normal shield AC—given that the bearer is unarmored and wearing clothing worth at least 1000 gp. It is a dueling shield, and loses its power (and the granted AC bonus) if the wearer is obscured or unable to show off his finery.

Widderstad’s Pavisis

“Try again you ugly, thrice-blind, wankers!” Dirty Vronn shouted down the hill at the fast approaching hobgoblins. They kept a tight formation, their heavy shields effortlessly deflecting Windsong’s arrows as she dropped them down on their heads.

“Dennis, we should fall back” the elf cautioned. She was the cautious type. Also tall. Too tall, really. And she called him Dennis, and he hated that.

“You don’t bring a knife to a sowrdfight, Winnie” the gnome was beside himself in glee as he fired another bolt and punched an angry hole through one of those hob shields with it–the faint sound of a bastard catching it in the chest was satisfying.

And, then, smooth as water, he slid back behind his pavisis, muttered a word, and rolled back around the other side, crossbow reloaded and maniacally exuberant.

“I got more for you right here!” he screamed down the hill, “Bastards!”

System: The pavisis was one of the single most devastating inventions during the time of the first Great War. The gnomish clans and artificers came together to take all they learned of siegecraft and battle from countless skirmishes and conflicts between other people and nations and distilled that knowledge down into some of the most definitive scholarly essays on the next thousand years of military technology.

The p is a standing, mobile shield roughly four feet high—enough for a medium-sized creature to crouch behind or a small one to stand behind. It is crisscrossed across its dark oaken polished surface with strands of steel and copper and brass in a curiously chaotic, but deliberate pattern. Being a standing shield, it does not need to be wielded to gain its benefits. It provides mobile cover, by itself (+2) and takes one action to deploy or pack back up.

However, it may be attuned by folding its legs in and sleeping on it for a full night—where the bearer dreams of gnomish battles across the centuries.

Once attuned, however, its true power becomes evident and one finds it easy to understand how the gnomes of the Reaches conquered half of the old empire in their time with these on the battlefield.

As a bonus action, the shield-bearer (once it is deployed) may use it to automatically reload a ranged weapon they are holding. The arrow or bolt, however, is illusory in nature. The bearer must not move more than 5ft away from the pavisis after it is deployed (and thus enables this ability) or it must be reattuned before it can be used this way again.

Each shot taken with illusory ammunition has a choice of either counting as a +0 weapon (Intelligence Save DC 20 for target if hit to take half damage) or a +2 weapon (Intelligence save DC 10 for target if hit to take half damage). This must be decided before the shot is taken. The arrow or bolt, while an illusion, is cast by the shield and may not be manipulated (as though one’s own illusion) beyond this effect,

Bade of Guile

“You don’t want to do this” Darkraven grumbled at the guards—bows drawn and gleaming, sharp points of a dozen arrows aimed with military precision at his chest.

Broadways was three paces behind the grim and (frankly) overdramatic halfling. It seemed like every chance the guy had, he insisted on trying to intimidate those around him or earn a reputation for a mysterious and harrowed demeanor.

It was exhausting—not the least reason for which being that thirty minutes ago the rogue was making fart sounds during breakfast trying to get the old paladin to laugh. It was gross. If he had it in him to hate anyone, Broadways figured, he’d come close to hating Darkraven.

He’d bet money the little thief gave himself that name, too.

As the soldiers drew back another inch, Darkraven ran his finger along the edge of the buckler—small, shiny steel thing it was. Milking the suspense for everything it was worth.

System: The Bade has been carried by three hundred warriors, adventurers, fools, and monsters in the last two centuries—usually gravitating toward those with a penchant for finding trouble and an abundance of confidence in getting back out.

The Bade, itself, is a simple, rounded buckler—twenty inches across–pitted and notched here and there with generations of hard use.

Attunement requires an afternoon of being shot at with projectiles while wielding it, to learn its balance and feel.

Once attuned, at the start of one’s turn, the bearer may choose to forgo the AC bonus the shield offers (+2) in favor of using it to deflect incoming projectiles (any ranged attack, including magical ones, so long as it has an attack roll).

During that turn, should any ranged attack miss the bearer by 2 or more, they may make a Dex Save DC equal to the number on the attack roll’s d20 to deflect the attack toward another target up to 45 degrees on either side of the origination (but not directly back at the origination). If the save is successful, the ranged attack is bounced off the shield and may travel up to the remaining distance of the original attack and does half the normal damage (rounded up) to what or who it hits.


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