Taking Up the Reins, Learning Through Pain, and the Eye of the Storm…

You can find the ever-growing list of “Better Than Nothing” items  over on the right. Read ’em, like ’em, share ’em, and comment.  The third item’s story is imagined from a poem I read on someone’s blog—really nice.

Abin’s Course

Watching Ferail hop down from his horse, one leg swinging wider than it needed to and two quick pats to the old grey’s neck before pulling free—the whole series of otherwise forgettable motions made Broadways both elated and enormously sad. Chorom d’Zaet had been his friend, his confidant, had been the one to start him on his own path, had shared with him the Way, and his passing had been particularly hard on the old paladin.

Ferail took the opportunity for the break and fed the old grey horse. Oatcakes, looked like. Choron hated oatcakes, wouldn’t eat them and wouldn’t have fed the grey any, either. Broadways felt the urge to stop the young man right then and there, but stopped himself—such a trivial thing, not worth confusing the boy.

It had been three weeks together, Ferail with the group. And not once had the young man said more than two words to Broadways in tha time. He had jokes for Meila and traded news with Teller, but he’d been avoiding the old man at every turn. It made Broadways suspicious. It wasn’t until last night that he’d let all that wariness melt away to whatever this melancholy was.

In the middle of the meal, when the others were turning their bedrolls out, the young warrior took a bare moment and whispered.

“I’m sorry I left you, Brodie—I’m sorry to have put all this on you. The Way is a circle, and long is its course.”

System: Abin’s Course are a pair of simple, light, and immaculately crafted boots. The sole is thin, but impossibly durable, worn only barely by what (surprisingly) has been centuries of use. The dark brown boots are crisscrossed with threads of dusty white metal.

Initial attunement is accomplished with a choice. The boots will be found—they are only ever found—usually laying in dangerous places. Upon putting them on, one is given the choice. Either accept the burden—The Way—an oath and path of conduct blessed by the sovereign gods or not. If rejected, the boots slowly vanish and cannot be located. If accepted, the PC must take their next level or levels in Monk or Paladin until they select a Monastic Tradition or Sacred Oath. If they currently already have a Monastic Tradition or Oath, this will alter (though not replace) some miscellaneous tenants of it. Should they die before achieving their Tradition or Oath, the boots fade away to find another suitable person of worth.

Once attuned and worn, the PC becomes the next link in a chain of a great mission and path that has gone back centuries. The DM is encouraged to forge an interesting flavor to what their role is to be in it and what works are needed from the PC to honor it. It may add some elements to a Sacred Oath, it may shift some details in keeping a Tradition. The PC’s mind is flooded with memories of all who have worn the Course before and how they are part of an ages old quest that will, indeed, go beyond their own lives as well.

The wearer of the Course gets death saves as normal except the fail range is from 1-15 instead of 1-10. On their third failure, their spirit is lifted from their body and moves on to the rewards of the Great Circle, their burdens and the Course, passing to another. The boots will vanish from their body, no magical or other means can stop it, and put themselves in the path of a hero or one who is destined to become one. The player may select two of the five following elements of this new hero:

  • Ability Scores (the same stats their previous had)
  • Race (and subrace)
  • Background (and proficiencies/languages only)
  • Class (and archetype–max level one less than their previous had)
  • Feats (the same feats their previous had, in order taken, where possible)

The remaining two elements not selected are done by the DM. For elements like Ability Scores (up to same stats had by original) or Class (including level-1), if one does not select them, the DM may (though they also may not) select the minimum RAW value for these for a playable character–or any in between.

Wherever that character is, the boots are found by them at the same moment the original wearer dies. They had the choice and accepted it. Play begins for the new PC at the point of taking on the responsiblity. Their new PC gets flashed of memories and knows (as the original did) things about the history of the Course (the DM is encouraged to add snippets of the coming great struggle or purpose of their mission).

The Way is a circle and it’s course is long.

Consecrated Bakama

Being blessed means being cursed. There is no gain in circumventing the Way. The Way is a circle and its course is long. When you trace a circle upon the ground, Kaei, and then trace your finger around it—as you advance in one direction are you not also retreating from the other?

This is part of the Way. And it is a part all who live by it must know.

That is not to say that one must never choose a direction—for standing only still is not the Way. Place, here yes, your finger. Do not move it. Are you a true part of the circle? You are a point. You could be a point in any figure. On any path. BY staying only still you are not following the Way but scared of it.

That is not part of the way. And you must know that as well.

Some may think—when they see us go about our lives—that it is chaos. It is like the rain, they think. It falls and cares not where or cannot be known. But, truly it is not. It is not us who are the drops of the rain, falling randomly through the skies to moisten a random bit of ground. We are instead the man who walks through the rain to get home. We will get wet and not wet, it does not matter either way, so long as we continue walking.

System: The bakama is a coarse garment, finely made but rugged in utility. It is unadorned by any interesting pattern or color. A beige heavy cloth cut in such a way as to make a loose-fitting blouse and trouser that must be carefully wrapped and tied around the waist and shoulders. Great care must go into wearing the bakama.

The sacred followers of the Way—hidden in their valley—created the bakama to teach their champions to appreciate the full circle of the world’s dangers and protect them from some. Attunement requires a ceremonial donning of the outfit (DC History 20) and the appropriate sworn oath to wear it through all of one’s trials and travails until one knows the full story of the pain of the world.

Once attuned, it’s granted powers come alive—but at a cost. One cannot gain the benefit of any armor when attuned to the bakama—worn or not. Every day requires re-donning the garment (a 10 minute process, intricate) and removing takes as much time. Each day, the wearer may select one damage type to be resistant to (must be a different one each time they pick, there are thirteen–acid, bludgeoning, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, piercing, poison, psychic, radiant, slashing, thunder). Of the remaining, the DM rolls 1d12 to pick the second type one may be resistant to (numbered alphabetically, less the one already picked).

The DM then lists the damage types in any order they wish on a notecard and numbers them (less the first one picked by the PC that day), and rolls 1d12. The number is documented on the back of the card (openly) and the DM knows (secretly) which damage type is selected by that roll. That damage type is what the PC is vulnerable to today. Only an attack or intentionally hostile effect from another creature triggers the DM revealing the vulnerability by turning over the card (and then, naturally, applying the appropriate damage effects). Any attempts to divine or otherwise reveal the damage do not work.

The bakama unattunes at sunrise following the day the PC has experienced resistance to all damage types during this time. They may reattune as desired.

The Hurricane Gallichon

“A rippling gale, it sweeps the barren field,
The four that were an ancient trav’ler’s bane,
When twisting round the cow-ring warrior’s shield
It rends the man who once had hoped to gain.”

the Bard of Gilleland

System: The Hurrican Gallichon is a lute made of cyrewood—once a rich, deep nut-brown before the great cataclysm, but now a faded and ghostly grey, almost as though the wood itself had petrified though it doesn’t feel stoney or especially hard.

It once brought a harmonious peace, it’s sound was the crisp and thriving tone of music in motion and melody light on the breeze. Now, however, its sound is muted and quiet. The brightness in its strings given way to a calm. Little is known about its like before, but in the years after it was carried by a wild mage to comfort his sanity as he walked through the harrowing lands beyond the mist.

Attunment to the gallichon requires a day of careful meditation and speaking never above a conversational tone—speaking too loudly on purpose will break this attunement.

Once attuned, however, the instrument brings a quiet and calm to an area, like the eye of a storm. Using a reaction, one can strum a tuneless melody through the gallichon and attempt to counter a spell or Wild Magic surge. To do this, use a Reaction to Performe (DC 15). On a success, there is a 10% chance of casting a Counterspell or negating a Wild Magic Surge about to happen. For every 1 above 15 rolled there is an additional 10% chance (i.e. a 16 is a 20% chance, 25 is a 100% chance). Keep in mind, for Counterspelling, this only means causing the spell which still has its own restrictions and rules on succeeding.

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