You can find the ever-growing list of “Better Than Nothing” items over on the right. Read ‘em, like ‘em, share ‘em, and comment.
“Cold rolled steel, sir—a process I assure you few true weapon-smiths in the whole circle of the world could replicate—I admit that what it lacks in ornamentation it more than makes up for in practical effect” the thick necked gnome was going on and on, while Dove only turned the very smooth length of metal in his hand over and over. It was unpolished, still had that dull grey look that all the fine folk and genteel yahoos spurned—mirror finishes were all the rage, you know.
Still, it felt good. Better than good, it felt real. One might mistake the thing for a small wagon axle, but to Dove it felt like the cold, impersonal, unmagificent specter of a death that is certain to land. It helped that it felt heavy enough to cave a skull in–metaphor is nice, but open a man’s head and you win the argument.
“…and… apologies, sir” Dove was brought back to attention with the gentle poke from the smith, “But, the—er–modifications? I had them made. I will need to make it clear that if you are found with something like this, I will deny—“
“If I’m caught, they won’t care where it came from. Malleus will have me hanged from the high tower of the palace. Where I got it will be the least of anyone’s worries.”
He paid the smith’s price, a box he’d killed six men for in the high places. The steel felt good, as he walked through the bazaar on his way out of the city. Seven angry damns, but it felt good.
System: Created during the Third Purge of Malleus Exile—the First Emperor of the Manifest Compact that swept through Kalamar after the death of Kabori—the Regulator was one of the few weapons of destiny that escaped the sweeps of the royal elite guard and the Inquisition during tha time.
An inch thick, dull grey, steel cylinder almost three feet long, to careful eyes it looks like little more than the raw materials and start of an actual weapon. But, once attuned (one must carry it amongst people, hidden, on one’s person—non-magically—for one week without anyone noticing), it hides itself from prying eyes and greedy fingers.
Powerful illusory magic was coked deeply into the iron of the Regulator. When carried or held by the attuned owner, it is perfectly invisible (Truesight has only a 25% chance of perceiving the weapon). The attuned owner can always see it (and senses its location within 100ft, even if it is hidden by another or the environment). It acts as a +0 magical club dealing 1d6 bludgeoning damage and grants advantage when used as a ram or hammer to break things.
The fight started fiercely and all the money was on Brate to win. Four hundred pounds of angry, thick-browed, hornet-mad half-giant versus one bold-talking halfling. Both stripped to the waist. One weapon each. No funny business. First to toss in or die, loses. That’s the rules at Pann’s Delve—at least, them’s the rules in the basement where the low brawls and cheap fights go down. It only paid 5 to 7, but all the smart money was on Brate.
Not because he was bigger or even had a great record (in truth, he was known to be a glassjawed wanker), but the huge brawler had put on a pair of leather gloves wrapped in shards and spikes and wire and glass and looked for all the world like the enormous hands of a vengeful titan… and the halfling brough a knife more suited to breakfast than a battle.
The little bastard just kept darting in and touching the big one with that knife. Lightly. Again. And Again. And again.
And after five sweaty minutes, Brate went to a knee. Poke.
And then both knees. Poke.
And laid down and waved a hand, slack-jawed and panting while the halfling climbed on top of him, standing arrogantly atop the bloody, pained brute, unlaced his breeches and peed in the direction of an angry and slightly less wealthy crowd.
System: The Bleeder is a vile thing. It’s origins are dark, hellish—a cataclysm, the fall of a nation, the death of a god, the birth of a horror, the destruction of a whole world and the eternal screams of its people. A great cackling mad demon laughing and feasting on the flesh of the innocent. A foul dimension of pain and purgation.
All, however, lost to time. And what’s left is one small, brass bladed knife. Attunement ot the knife requires the slow death of an enemy by using it. The knife counts as a +0 magic weapon (given its short blade and small handle, it’s not particularly wieldy and counts as an improvised weapon dealing 1 piercing damage). A successful strike with the knife and one pokes a small hole shallowly into the target. Undead, constructs, and largely immaterial or ethereal creatures are unaffected. But, if it lives and it bleeds, the Bleeder reduces their HP maximum by 1 (in addition to the damage dealt). Every five successful hits imposes 1 exhaustion on the target that need be healed magically (any restoration at all will remove these exhaustion points).
And somewhere, with every painful strike… some creature from the depths looks on, only looks on, and feasts on the joy of the sadism.
Father of Tribes
His mother told him, when he left for the world, that it would be up to him to keep his tribe safe. That the great blessings of Gruumsh were many and spilled generously to those who paved the way for the young to grow old. She was wise, his mother. She died the following winter, after the soldiers came. The humans, ever clever and always marching. Always searching. Always pushing farther and farther into places that were not theirs.
He ran with his crew—well, not his, really. It was Ank’so Thurak’s crew, he was only one thane in the bunch. Fourteen of them. All bloodied and all grown. They sprinted across the night shaden field, quiet as killers and twice and cold. The light of the camp was ahead. No doubt some human crew. Some pink and brown-faced bunch of interlopers.
He’d been young once, he recalls telling Makala, the old splithead chief he ran with then, that the humans could be reasoned with and that they didn’t need to kill them in the dark like savages. The splithead was tired and weak and easily swayed and the next day, they were ambushed with light and fire and roaring and polished steel. He’s lost an eye, then. He’d thought of it as his greatest lesson.
The spirits were not wrong. Gruumsh took his eye so that he might see.
They were not bad. But they were many and they were greedy and as he unslung his axe, ready to keep their brutes from pressing past the line of his crew, he resigned himself to the truth that there was only the wild. And one must kill or be killed.
System: The Father is an orcish great axe, old as the line of Sag’thorak Gat, the last high king of the orcs of the Southern hills. He reigned for nearly a century, several generations, and his standard was a bold black axe on a field of gray. The Father is that axe, the fabled arms of one of the orcish peoples’ greatest heroes who held off the invasion of human and elf alike with his words and piety and the Father.
The Father of Tribes is a magical +0 greataxe, the blade as large and wide as a wagon wheel. The whole axe is unwieldy to anyone with less than 17 strength (may only be uses as an improvised weapon, in that case). Once attuned (requiring the retelling of the story of the Gat, front to end with no interruptions or mistakes by a fire full of eager listeners–a History Check DC 20 to know the story and a Charisma Check DC 15 to tell it true; any failure requires starting over and the loss of an evening in the attempt.
Once attuned, the great axe gives the wielder advantage in Charisma checks meant to inspire and bolster confidence and bravery in others and allows the wielder to use their reaction to interpose the blade of the axe (broad and thick as it is) between an ally within 5ft and a successful attack against them (must be an attack roll made against them that successfully hits). Interposing the axe head in this way grants a +2 cover bonus for that attack only, possibly causing the successful hit to miss (much as Shield, the spell, but less broad).