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Mantle of Charity
Sophia pulled her old leather boots off with all the groans and aches of an old woman lowering herself into a bath. She hadn’t seen her twentieth birthday, but she’d seen enough in the last year to make her friendly with a bottle on those nights the group camped with a fire rather than sleep through the cold.
Wendell was showing off his new warhammer to Teller and Broadways was already snoring in his small pavilion. Sophia pulled up her worn bedroll and settled back to count the coins they’d taken from the brigands that jumped them earlier today. Eight imperial silver, thick and heavy. Enough that there’d be threats. And, sure enough—right on que…
“Hey, Sister… hey! Are we gonna do this every time?” Squib Tanker, their tracker, called from across the fire–eyes locked onto the money she held in her hand.
Sophia just closed her eyes and made sure to say loud enough, “It. Isn’t. Ours.” to the groans of half the camp. She eased up, aches and pains and all, left hand clenching the purse, right hand slipping around her well-pitted and weathered mace.
“Just like last night. One apiece. The rest we donate at the next village. Anyone has a problem with that, I start loosening teeth—also, just like last night.”
Furrowed brows turned into resigned nods and at least one vulgar hand signal. Sophia leaned back and prayed for them.
System: In the earliest times of the old empire, when the Celestial Council were newly formed in the heavens and the world had not yet known the terror that comes from the priests of fiends, clerics and faithful divines were said to have been clad in miracles and walked the earth bringing prosperity and blessings to all.
By and large, this was a farce—those times were as bloody and dark as these, but when the faiths were stronger there were some great works still. Amongst these were the mantles of charity–something between a penance and a gift bestowed on wandering priests and priestesses who ministered to the poor and remote peoples.
The mantle is a sturdy robe of somewhat coarse, but well-made and stitched cloth. Broad and wide in the shoulders, it can look somewhat overlarge on slight framed individuals unless armor is worn underneath. The cloth is nearly white, sun-bleached and fresh. It smells, always, faintly of oranges.
Attunement requires a week of temple service, as an initiate. Many priests have long seen those days behind them: fetching water, lighting candles, copying texts, servicing the departed, etc. It is somewhat boring work, but it is the work that keeps the faith going. Failure to devote one’s self to these duties, or making glaring mistakes, may require doing it over (a full week). Religion DC 15 to complete the week well.
Once attuned, the robe thrives when one is prudent, charitable, and selfless. For every 100 gp donated to the needy or to the faith itself, the robe gains 1 charge. There is no maximum to the number of charges.
From then on, by spending 1 charge and taking 1 action (same time) in a moment of focused and clear personal devotion, all creatures within 5ft gain 1 hp (except the robe wearer. The wearer may (further) spend their bonus action and another charge to repeat the effect (assuming they haven’t moved). They may also (yet further) spend their reaction and another charge to do it again (again, assuming they haven’t moved). This would mean one may spend their whole round taking no actions of any kind, and healing 3 hp in a 5ft radius around themselves (for 3 charges).
Teller held Broadways upright while the old paladin coughed up the last of his life into the cold, coarse sand. Remy refused to look at him, standing over near the waves breaking over and over, as though ignoring the man’s death rattle might mean it won’t happen. Nobody held it against him, Remy’s attitude, they were close—him and Brodie—and losing their leader wasn’t half as painful as losing one’s partner.
Nevertheless, Teller propped him up and whispered some of the songs of her people, rough men and women that wrestled death and fought the spirits with bone knives in their teeth–glorious stories. Most thought she did it to soothe his pain, but she ddi it to guide his passing.
Only Viyan Vronn refused the solemnity of the occasion, though she’d given them their few minutes of expressive sorrow. The old woman waited as long as she could—out of respect for their heathenry and lack of faith—and when it seemed they were done sobbing and keeping their lips stiff, she started screaming into the wind a low and dark and bellowing chant that sounded like whatever whales humping must sound like.
The skies darkened. The winds picked up. And twelve bolts of lightning, one right after the other, crashed down onto the paladin—the shattering sound of a mountain of glass exploding.
The scorched earth around Broadways steamed and spit the falling rain back, Teller was a mess of burns, but all the shock and anger flowed away as Sir Broadways of Gaw took a deep, full breath and, wide-eyed, sat bolt upright.
System: The Hraick is a robe of woven hair from the beard of the Lord of Storms, the Windmaster, the Skyfire God. Brown and green and grey and blue, somehow all muddled together and yet distinct, it is stiff with salt crust at the hem and looks much like the broad, covering cloaks and robes of the people of the northern shores. But, once attuned, it shares its power with the wearer.
Attunement requires being struck by natural lightning, uncalled by mortals. Should a deity call the lightning down (through Divine Intervention, at most direct; but not through any prayer or spell), or one may divine the most opportune times and ways to achieve likely attraction to a bolt from the sky in a given week should there be any rain or significant cloud coverage (Nature DC 20, Religion DC 20; each success is a stackable 10% chance of getting struck represented by figuring out that week the most likely places for the storm god’s wrath or favor, finding the appropriate ground and terrain and times). Any week where there is none, each check’s success only grants 1%.
Once struck, however, and if still living, the robe smells faintly of ozone and one can feel coming storms ahead of time a number of hours equal to one’s passive perception score.
Additionally, the Hraick’s greatest boon, one may call down the grace of the storm god through his skyfire. The grace of the storm god heals the worth and burns the unworthy–such the chaos of storms. Select a target within 120 ft. that you can see and so long as there is a visible path from the sky to the target, you may take an action and roll 1d8 and 1d10. Subtract the 1d8 result from the 1d10 result (a range of numbers between -7 and 9). Multiply the resulting number by your proficiency bonus. For positive numbers, the lightning comes down over and over (dozens of quick bolts from the sky) and heals the target for the resulting number in HP, they feel gloriously energized and ready (advantaged on Wisdom saves for a number of rounds equal to your proficiency bonus). For negative numbers, the lightning comes down and crashes into them over and over, hitting them for the result number in irresistable magical lightning and stunning them for a round.
“Brother! I have come from The Glassein Islands, from our mission there–please. Oh, Rightous Hand, please help us. My initiate, here, is hurt. We were attacked by brigands on the road. Sorea calum natura, Vei? Desol dite?”
“Comrades! There’s a border clash to the north, near the Titos Peaks. We’ve only just come from the slaughter. Help my novice, here, he took several unworthy to their graves early, bless the Mailed Fist and his chosen. And I need fresh rainent, and a bath. Duty bound, Honor bound, Faith bound, eh?”
“Priestess of the Mael! We have snuck under the cover of the Lady of Darkness–blessed be her impenetrable shadows. The oppressors of the Golden Light were all about just south of the city and we had to shed all our possessions to throw them off the trail. Help my darkpage, please—he’ll need some coins as well—just a few to buy our passage to the Far Mount. May Blindness Be Our Guide!”
“Keyholder! The vessels trapped us in Olycon last week, we only just managed to escape to here, the grand temple. Harbingers of the Mule destroyed the gifts we were bringing to pay our passage and give in donation to the Flowmaster above. Do you have any manner of wand or perhaps scrolls we would borrow? Yes? Thank you. Blessed be the River!”
System: The Pontifix is one of the great banes of the faithful in most cities. The interior mysteries, the secret rituals, the hidden words and vestments–there are many layers to a given temple and faith, most of them hidden from outsiders or common members. The Pontifix was a flowing robe of shimmering slivers of polished brass—like a golden mirror—created by the priests and devouts of the Lord of Stories, the god of thieves and lies. It was intended to grant his own clerics and champions through the complex web people and dogma and institution the other gods grew on this world.
Attunement to the Pontifix requires a loyal, intricate oath to serve the god of lies and deceit (this oath may be a lie, itself, but if insincere it will require a Deception check DC 25 to be sufficiently convincing). Reneging on true oaths may be dangerous (DM’s are encouraged to bring to bear all manner of hell for that).
Once promised, so long as its worn one may use the robe once per day to use the domain spell list of another faith or pantheon as though it were their own–sneaking and stealing power from the gods themselves under cover of the god of lies and his considerable ability to cover-it-up. Similarly, one is advantaged on all Religion checks for that faith or pantheon and in any social rolls against members of it.