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Kudu did not like this place. Its ceilings looked like the broad arched cathedrals of the capitol, the glass panes in the grand windows were pristine and showed hints of light and shadow on the other side of their multi-colored mosaics. The air inside smelled like summer breezes and fresh rain. but, here, hundreds of feet underground, deep in the underdark, it was all false. Its perfection was all the more menacing for how strange it should be in this place.
He could hear them coming, creeping in the shadows of the great temple—in its corners and behind its walls. There were dozens. Too many, really. The rest of the group was tense and it would take very little for much to go wrong in this place. It felt like a trap. Whoever made this shrine to the gods and goddesses of life and purity knew their business—the tapestries were (or at least seemed to be) fresh calawan-grass woven mats. The food on the altar was (seemingly) fresh natural harvests and clean water.
It was a worship of life, the pulse of the Green, but as Kudu hears the shuffling of small feet and the chittering of demonic voices, he grimly set himself to remind whoever was master here that the world begets life… but also, to the peril of the forgetful, brings death. He was the storm. He slipped the rod into his hand and embraced the gale.
System: The Haja of the distant and long lost land of Manikanta carved his kingdom from the wastes and diaspora of the world. Where other kings and emperors fought for the greenest vallies and flowing rivers, he followed a more ascetic path and built his kingdom in the great desert where few bothered (much less dared) to challenge it. His people suffered, he suffered… but through the power of his will and his devotion to the lesser worshipped aspects of the great circle of the world, he settled a great city, The Jewel of Manikanta, and enjoyed peace and contemplation of obscure aspects of his Druidic heritage. Him and his caste ruled the Jewel until the rise of the old empire, and the Druids of the Waste were much feared until that time.
The Storm was the favored symbol of power of that line of great warriors. A twenty-inch long, carefully hewn piece of sandstone–with small and regul chisel marks all about its surface like an intricate pattern of divots and depressions subtle against the fingers, the Storms were enchanted to last as long as the great desert itself and even the most knowledgeable sage (with extensive experience with magical items) would be shocked to learn that the rods were made several million years before. They are unmatched in their endurance of the weight of time.
Attunement to the rod requires communion with the creatures, deities, and rigors of the harsh wastelands of the raw desert. The bearer must spend one week with no food and no water, and may only take sustanence such as is given by a great being (and it must be uncalled for). A god may bring water to the lips of their priest in need, but the priest may not ask for it. A far wanderer may be brought food by the creatures of the wild, but may not direct them to hunt. Placing one’s faith in the powers of the world is risky, but this is how the Stormbearers proved their worth.
Once attuned, the rod acts as though a small club (+0 magical weapon, 1d6-1 bludgeoning damage, doing maximum damage versus constructs) and allows the user to spend an action to embrace the storm. Doing so causes the bearer to turn and spiral into a small sandstorm (5ft) for a minimum number of rounds equal to their proficiency bonus. While in this form, they may move through other creature’s spaces, bringing the wind and sand and fury of the wild with them. Any creature one passes over entirely must pass a Constitution Save with a DC equal to the number of feet traveled in a straight line before entering their space after occupying any other creature’s space. So, by example, if one moves 20 ft. and then into a creature’s space, the DC is 25. If one moves 10ft. then into a creature’s space; then another 10ft. and into another creature’s space, each would have a DC of 15 (count the square you move into as part of the distance) even though it may all be one straight line of 30ft. overall.
On a fail, they take 1d4 damage and are blinded until the start of their next turn. On a success, the bearer may choose either the damage or the condition, but not both, to apply. While “storming”, the bearer is resistant to non-magical damage.
Callie lifted herself off the ground, spitting out the blood and taking a quick inventory of her injuries. Nothing broken too badly, although her jaw felt as though it was fractured. On hands and knees, pushing herself upright, she looked out across the cavern and saw the creature tear Saidalon apart. Two great clawed hands gripping him like a child would a toy and pulling him apart with a roaring glee. She grimaced as she found her feet, and willed herself forward. One painful step at a time.
The others were fighting and losing. Broadways took a hit that sent him across the chamber and crashing into the high corner so hard Callie knew he couldn’t have survived it. Another step, and another, and she was jogging limply.
Meilla conjured an enormous dark creature and it leapt at the dragon, the others were doing their best to avoid its bite and breath. Still, callie picked up the pace, the aches gone and her ankle feeling fine again; she brought herself up to a run.
And with every step, faster. More certain. She was sprinting. She was almost flying. As as the beast looked up at the figure racing toward it, it paused. And as she took a careful hop, turn, and fliipped into the air, it raised its clawed hands to shield itself. Her jaw felt fine, she was pissed, and as she crashed into its enormous spined head, it roared in shock and defiance.
System: The monks of the Kakidela Mountains traded for centuries with the Wandering People, the mysterious men and women who moved from place to place in the far kingdoms and held conclaves in the forests and formed secret covens in the hills. The secretive people were as chaotic and free as the wind, and wherever they went they brought joy and terror. During the reign of Malleus Exile the III, they were marginalized to the peaks of the mountain range and there found common cause with one of the last holdouts of the regime–the quiet, secluded monastery of the Order of Natsu Copperblood.
One of the gifts the Wanderers gave the monastery, to form their bond, was a pair of thin, immaculately constructed slippers. The material feels warm to the touch and one can almost make out the coarse sensation of raw packed earth when wearing them.
Attunement requires a pilgrimmage to the ruins of the monastery, long abandoned and fallen some eight hundred years ago. Nothing but lush and overgrown foliage lives there. It is a peaceful, lost garden now, nestled amongst the harsh wintery slopes of the Kakidelas.
Once attuned, the slippers bless the wearer with every step they take on natural ground. Whether tundra or grass, uncut natural stone or desert sand, every 20ft. of movement the wearer takes on natural ground grants him 1 hp at the start of his next turn (up to his hp maximum). However, if wearer starts their turn on unnatural ground, ground under the influence of a magical effect (like a magical area effect), or in the air (due to flying or falling or other such circumstances), they do not gain the hp generated the previous turn.
The Shaed of Secrets
“Where’d you get it?”
“I really don’t remember. What does it matter?”
“Well, if I’m buying something special like this, I want to know—now don’t start with me, Karl, I want to gods-damned know nobody is going to kick in my door because some fool—let’s call him Karl—sold me some young lordling’s favorite cloak.”
“I didn’t steal it, you old bastard. How much can you give me for it?”
“Where’d you get it?”
“From a guy.”
“What’s his name?”
“I’m really not that good with names. Besides, I’m not sure it was his real one. What does it matter, honestly?”
“If it were a shoe, it wouldn’t. But this thing keeps… I dunno… shifting about. It’s… look, I don’t want any part of this, alright? Thing gives me the creeps.”
System: The origins of the shaed are unknown, but suffice to say it is old and it is strange and the cleverest minds in the empire have failed to completely unlock the secrets of its craftsmanship or purpose. It moves and flows at the merest thought and seems to quiet and be soothed in the presence of music.
The cloak itself is inky black, from a distance one would think a high quality fabric of rich origin, but closer and it is unsettlingly dark—unnaturally dark. Attunement requires a night spent away from all light, out in the open—no easy task near cities or farms or during nights with a moon.
Once attuned, the cloak grants the wearer advantage on Stealth checks and Intimidation checks. It may serve as a blanket and responds to shorten or lengthen up to 50% at a thought. If one takes a bonus action to grab the hem and drawn it around one’s self, it grants resistance to slashing and bludgeoning (non-magical) damage.