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The camp was quiet, but the old paladin was not.
“You can come out. I know it’s time… I’ve been waiting.”
The moon was new and the forest dark, had there been a fire it would have been helpless against the flowing night spilling out from the treelines. Broadways was cinching his last gauntlet, breathing even and slow while sounds—inhuman and uneven—spat and hissed and shuffled around him.
There were… twenty. Maybe more. His old campaigner’s ears knew their business, and the things in the dark were waiting. If they were autonomous, they’d either chatter or rush all together; if they were only minions of some central evil he’d be chiming in right about now…
“Huuuuuman… yooooooo naaaawt weeeelcomb… naaaawt heer…” a voice from over his left drawled out–the Night’s Tongue. He’d heard it often enough that he could place it easily. And as he picked up his small oval shield and tapped the rim on his chestplate, the flash of light bought him two things:
A split second advantage to rush the bastard and a moment of joy as he heard the horde scream in pain.
System: The Paerma is small oval shield, barely large enough for a halfling to hide behind were it not for his feet. Close inspection shows that its leathery surface is (morbidly) made from perfectly cut herring-bone patches of skin—each as small as a coin. The skins patches were trophies kept by The Haxian, a zealous cleric three-hundred years ago responsible for cleansing the Ophea of the monsterous undead. Each patch was cut from the forehead of an undead creature slain by his wrath.
In the center of the shield is the cleric’s crown (the bone dome of his skull) polished to a high gloss shine, an ivory-white irregular circle nearly six inches across.
Attunement to the shield requires the killing of a necromancer, his last moments of life leaving his body while on the shield. For this reason combined with the oddly unearthly materials of the shield, most of the faith’s champions—even the most righteous and intense—find themselves unequal to bearing it.
Once attuned however, the shield provides two boons to the bearer. First, on any surprise round, if the wielder gets to take a turn, they may use their reaction to smack the rim of the shield against any hard surface to cause a flash of pure, radiant, divine light to arc out around them. This light has the effect of causing any undead creature to lose their turn in the surprise round.
Second, the wielder may take an action to use the shield to bash (as an improvised weapon doing +0 magical 1d4 + Strength bludgeoning; any features, feats, or other rules allowing for shield bash with proficiency bonus may apply if applicable). This bash forces the Diseased condition on any undead creatures, even if they are Immune.
The Corwiss Heirs
The pass is narrow. The pass is everything. Nothing may come through the pass.
The words Meilla told her were ringing in her ears between the sounds of her own chest thumping with her heartbeat. She’d been at it for a half-hour. Teller had fallen back. Stecksie was down and she shouldn’t spare a moment to see if he was going to get back up.
All that mattered was the pass. And choking it, filling it, the countless bodies and somehow less countable mass of conscripts behind them. She’d held off dozens and dozens and dozens… maybe hundreds. She’d felled many, but turned back many more. Some had fallen down the cliff and she wondered between grunts of pain and screams of challenge if they survived.
A big one came through the line, leaping two dead things that used to be soldiers lying on the ground in a lover’s embrace, she turned his sword and then broke his jaw and still she held the pass.
System: When the war reached the lands of Daelt ir’Corwiss—a violent storm of blades and rage and magic and fire from the South on it’s way North with no great care for what lay between—it took his fields, his smallfolk, and his two children: Cora and Teirk.
He waited four years, until the war had died, and divested himself of all his wealth. Turning to the gods, he asked for vengeance and sacrificed everything to get it. The screams and burning and scar in the land from where the High touched him yielded only a pair of matched shields, bright and shining gold, no seam and no ornament. Just two bold, curved, rectangles three feet long each and blemishless—in its shining surface the shadow of children playing can be faintly seen.
The Heirs only work only together, and attunement requires an Oath to protect a child–and should harm befall them, short of natural disaster or cause, the Heirs are no longer attuned and change the once-wielder’s Flaw to nightmares and shame surrounding their inability to save they who they were sworn to have protected.
While attuned, however, they must be strapped to the forearms (both) and they grant the wielder the ability to use both shields (each gives a +2 AC bonus total, as a normal shield) to up one’s AC (total of +4). In addition, the wielder may use their reaction to make an opportunity attack against anything actively fighting them in melee range (but may not use the shield they attack with for AC purposes until the start of their next turn). Attacks with the shield do 1d4 bludgeoning plus an amount of Radiant damage equal to number of years one has been protecting the child.
The Conqueror’s Tread
“The Overlord does not judge you. He does not hate you. You are not his enemy. You should count yourself lucky, as he destroys his enemies. You, creature small and ill-made, are his property. You are his mule and his sword and his toy and his tool, you will never see another day under the sun as a thing free to roam and walk the land. You will not know a moment of selfishness. He releases you of your selfishness.”
“You see… he gives you the gift of living for others and for giving your youth and vigor and fire and industry and, ultimately, life to the betterment of a great nation. You are blessed. And I am blessed.”
“For I serve my god well and he raises me to glory.”
System: The cleric Banto Homeikas, servant of the Overlord—god of subjugation—read the stories and liturgy honoring Vox the Profane (the butcher of Lindelwood) and regarded it his most sacred holy mission to return the faith to its roots after the Great Schism two hundred years ago. This relic was his greatest creation.
The Tread is a boot, armored with dark iron and chased in silver edging, Attunement requires the successful memorization of the laws regarding slavery, indentured servitude, and acquisition of living property of at least two nations (requiring proficiency in History, Religion, and six months of proper study with appropriate texts).
Once done, the boot allows the wearer to grapple a creature already prone while using a bonus action—placing the tread of the boot over its neck or face and pinning it to the ground. One’s hand remain free in this case and the grapple is made and maintained at advantage.
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