You can find the ever-growing list of “Better Than Nothing” items over on the right. Read ’em, like ’em, share ’em, and comment. This set inspired by the recent post by our co-writer, Mike.
Cormin missed his sister. He hardly remembered what she looked like, back when they were young. They’d survived the war, the purge… and he’d been the only one to survive the bare winter that followed. She had red hair. She liked climbing trees.
That was nearly two hundred years ago, and it felt longer. Every sacrifice made the years seem longer, and even now—as he stared at his son, foolish and weak thing that his progeny was—he was reminded of why he did this. Reminded of the long game. Reminded that empires are not destroyed with a few bold fights but with the force of the ages and a will ready to make the sacrifices necessary to temper the steel of a thousand knives.
His followers were many, carefully chosen over the generations—brought into the great circle of being. They knew how he prolonged his life, they knew about all of his children over the centuries. They honored them. He honored them. The fawn that falls to the wolf is a part of the larger destiny of the wild.
He would bring the empire to its knees. He was the wolf that leads the pack, the pack would devour this weak false kingdom. He would do it for the greater good of the world, and not a little for the redhaired girl on whose bones this city was built.
System: The Scepter is a two foot shaft of hewn obsidian, the glassy rock bears the marks of being fashioned from small chipping tools with great care. When held to the light, the naturally dark black material shines a translucent green—deep as the canopy of an old forest. To the casual observer, it is the sort of thing a distinguished man of gentle birth might carry on a walk through a garden.
It was, in the oldest time, the focus of a druidic cult intent on changing the world itself.
Attunement to the Scepter requires siring progeny. Once the child is born, the Scepter becomes active and the wielder becomes the fulcrum to the turning of great events and grants three distinct abilities.
First, the wielder may grant a spell to another. Doing so loans the spellslot the spell is to be cast to the recipient. They do not have to be willing. The wielder chooses a target, chooses a spell they can case, and the appropriate slot—the recipient now has that slot, regains the slot in the same manner the wielder does normally, and can use it to cast only that spell. This lasts for a number of years equal to 10 minus the spell’s level. It may be returned to the wielder on the death of the recipient, but no sooner.
Second, the wielder may use a reaction to speak a phrase in Druidic to another who knows the language—the effect of which is similar to the Help action (in granting advantage on an ability check or save only, though).
Third, on the final death of the wielder—3 failed death saves, as the most common example—the wielder is born again through the child they sired. They grow bodily from the child’s own form, tearing through it (killing the child in the process), and emerge at half the age and one level lower than when they died. They then must reattune to the Scepter to use its abilities.
Eighth Wand of the Good Man
“The world hates you. I hear it. You think the green is the only power in the world? You think the circles and spheres of the wild are only rich and vibrant and warm? You are ignorant. I am the teacher sent from the Last Places to instruct you in what the skies and seas and secret lands really are.”
“The desert is vast.”
“The ocean is crushing.”
“The mountains choke life from the ambitious.”
“The skies are filled with rage.”
“The earth is home to its own monsters.”
“I am who was sent to bring all of these to you and hear you scream your sins to a world that drinks them like wine.”
“I am the true wild.”
System: The Goodman was the last Son of the Bound. A druidic sect that sought to eliminate virtually all life in a great plan to return the world to its most primordial and simple state—its form before the great beings came, before gods, before powers of any kind shaped people or higher creatures. The Goodman’s sect was the focus of the Far War. which destroyed what was, before what is came to be.
One of the weapons of his crusade, the least of them, was a wand fashioned from a cruel, jagged spike of perpetually smoking dry, sandy ice–devastatingly cold and menacing to the touch. A piece of the world that was.
Attunement to the wand requires surviving one month, a full turn of the moon, without any trappings of civilization or magical support. A month of natural ability, crafting no tools, using no technologies or divine or arcane assistance. Pure survival in the wild. Every three days requires a Survival Check DC appropriate to the terrain (5 for a place with abundant water and fauna, 15 for a place of varying and uncertain wilderness, 25 for a place somewhat barren, etc.). The DM is encouraged to look to starvation, thirst, etc. rules to govern how bad or lethal it can be to have poor results. Backing out requires starting over.
Once attuned the wand allows the wielder to bring to bear on their surroundings the fury and inhospitable effects of the worst of natural environments. The wand has 7 charges, replenishing 1d4 charges per day spent outside of developed settlements or cities.
With an action, one may bring the dry, blistering heat of the Infinite Desert to bear around themselves—all creatures within 60ft. must make a Con Save DC 5 multiplied by the number of charges spent with the action (evoking more and more the unforgiving, searing heat of the baked sands and arid vastness). Failures grant 1 exhaustion and the creature takes 1d4 fire damage at the start of every turn they spend in the radius for as long as Concentration is held by the wielder.
With an action, one may bring the surging, powerful and rolling power of the unforgiving sea in a storm—all creatures in a radius equal to 5ft multiplied by the number of charges spent find themselves choking on chilly sea-water (suffocation rules may apply, if the creature requires breathing) and slowed and crushed by unseen waves. While within the radius, movement is reduced to 5ft and there is a 50% chance once movement is declared that they are tossed 5ft in the opposite direction they wished to go (only for movement, having no effect on Dash actions or magical forms of movement or movement caused by others).
With an action, one may inflict the worst of the high tundras and great barren peaks of the mountains upon a target. Target makes a Strength Save DC 5 times the number of charges spent with the action to push Vulnerability to Cold onto a target for one round. The icy bite of the desolate high places above the clouds grasping them fiercely for a moment.
Shade of Life
The thing flapped its spongy pink wings and murmured a sound like something between breaking glass and a minor chord played on a menacing viola. The haunting rhythm of its words made Brother Service cry out as blood dripped from his nose.
The whole party was brought to its knees from the sound, Meilla began beating her own head against the smooth stone floor over and over, trying to escape the pain and torture. Even Broadways backed away a step, falling to one knee and cursing through the undulating echo in the chamber.
It moved forward, an irregular lurch on feet hidden (thankfully) behind a flowing purple robe. The grey tentacles around its mouth groping forward, a manic and evil look in its glowing white eyes. Never has such pure light felt so horrific.
Charles Doyle, whom the eldest of the glade called Edewan (though he was uncomfortable with that name), moved nervously forward as his friends anguished, pulled his axe from his belt, and cracked it with full force between the eyes of the damned creature.
System: The Shade is a robe, made in the open and loose style of the Kingdoms of the Darkland, woven from the fine threads of wispvine that blanket the jungles in the farthest corners of that land. It was formed by the great expanse of untamed green there over millenia to trap and kill the alien things that came from across the planes and stars near the Sadonte Gate there.
The robe fits much like a toga, wrapped carefull around the body in a tight and purposeful pattern; the garment is a pale shade of yellows–nearly ivory—and glistens as though wet.
Attunement requires careful, ceremonial donning of the robe—which takes nearly half a day and a History Check DC 20 for just the right trick to it from the old cultures of the forgotten West. Once donned and attuned, it empowers the wearer to oppose the monstrous forces that seek to pervert this plane.
So long as it is worn properly and attuned, the Shade grants the wearer an immunity to Psychic damage and makes them hazy and almost imperceptible to aberrations and monstrosities—all attacks and ability checks made physically against them by such creatures are made at disadvantage.
There is a 50% chance, if one takes the Dash action, that the robe will come apart–requiring redonning and attuning the garment once again.