You can find the ever-growing list of “Better Than Nothing” items over on the right. Read ‘em, like ‘em, share ‘em, and comment.
Tides of Wile
Lyra’s form was perfect, each movement written in space and punctuated with certainty. Khyraxsis, dreaded golden wyrm and the Harrower of Brightkeep, was cold and silent with each blow. The beast rocked back on her haunches and her gaze narrowed in concentration and barely disguised fury.
But, still, the quiet and somber elf planted a hand and threw her body over it, landing in graceful pose on point long enough to bring her other leg around in a spin that landed and struck the dragon above her knee—the Harrower rocking off-balance again. Over and over, back and back, feet and yards and more the monk pressed the silent attack and the dragon took blow after blow, waiting for an opening, waiting for her to tire. Every time an opening presented itself, it was gone in a flash. For the rest of the group, watching on behind the rocks, it was a dramatic tension… a brutal assault hidden behind the guise of an almost artistic series of forms.
Lyra turned and braced, bringing her elbow up above her brow, knocking the beast’s chin backward, and continued to drive the fight deeper and deeper into the cavern with every flourish.
System: There are some who see their connection to the Great Elements in terms of their raw substance. The wizard who sends icy blasts or the priest who calls the lightning. But, for those of the deeper way, they know the chill and the sky fire are only the physically-forced representations of the truth. The heart of the planes from where these forces come are not bathed in energy, but in essence. And essence is not mere light or ice.
The monastery of the Path of Elemental Essence teaches their chosen to understand the meaning behind the raw power and in contemplation and study, to harness their body to evoke that truth. A thousand years before the Fall of the Empire, they gave those with the potential such things as the Tides, and finding them now is like finding a coin in a world filled with desert sand. Rare. Precious.
The Tides are an intricate web of silken threads, by themselves a confusing pile of knots and strings. They are intended to be tied carefully around each finger joint and around the palm and thumb in a precise manner. Untangling them requires an Intelligence Check DC 20. Knowing how to properly tie them around one’s fingers and palms in the manner intended requires a Religion Check DC 20. Each attempt that fails costs one whole afternoon of time spent in the trying and failing.
Once tied, the Tides attune themselves and the wearer can call upon two powers given freely.
First, the wearer is advantaged on Passive Perception and Investigation Checks when using their hands directly. Fingers that could feel nothing but smooth stone can now feel the well hidden cracks and imperceptible texture distinctions unclear before. They can feel the vibrations of conversation through a door, though unable to hear it.
Second, the wearer may use their action to knock an opponent back with careful and deliberate and irresistable force. The wearer must roll an attack, and on a successful hit they forego all damage (even if a critical hit) and the creature is knocked back a distance based on their size. Small creatures are knocked back 20ft. Medium creatures 15ft. Large creatures 10ft. Huge creatures 5ft. Smaller and larger creatures are unaffected. The wearer cannot take movement or bonus actions or additional actions this turn after this move (though those can be done before taking this action) and if something gives the wearer an additional turn (Action Surge) they lose that as well. This is the final action they take in the turn. They get their Reaction as normal.
He looked up. Hrast and his horde of flapping monstrosities soared high over him, headed right for the now tired and enraged darkgnawer. It bled a rancid ichor down its side and panted through yellow and rotted teeth, staring hate right at Ser Broadways, catching its breath and looming so enormous over the trees. With him, Meila was flying, encased in purple light, the tail of her comet streaking proudly behind her. Those two were as different as water and oil, but they charged in together.
To his left, Teller and Wyatt were sprinting for the monster. Her eyes were serious and dark, her greatsword held high. She cut the picture of the fury of the wild, the strength of her people, and the rage barely contained beneath. Wyatt’s lankey frame bounded with her, three arrows nocked in his bow, the casual and smart grin he usually sported replaced by grim dedication.
To his right, Oakley was a great and ferocious bear, bounding over rocks and fallen trees, teeth bared and a purposeful intelligence behind those eyes. His head was low, his gaze never moving from the thing. Chrimstin raced along with him, daggers drawn—so he hadn’t run afterall… even in certain death. Some people, Broadways mused, just surprised you.
And as the paladin, stood there, with everyone charging toward the demon, he called its name. And as the thing roared back, crouched to unleash that unholy power again, the old warrior smiled. There was no better way to go out, than beside old friends.
System: Clad head-to-toe in gleaming armor, Captain General Halnifar of the Children of the Morning killed the Greater Lord Demon of the Skhiux whose name cannot be known and cast his body into the darkness between worlds. The great echoing chasm of nothing that keeps the heavens apart. He was raised, bodily, to serve at the hand of the Valiant as a guard in the great Temple of Light. His heavenly raiment replacing his earthly ones and taking his true place as a Deva of the high order.
What became of his fabled armor is lost to time, but the chestpiece, a dull steel breastplate without mark or blemish, was worn by conqueror’s from the hobgoblin kingdoms to the dwarvish cities to the settlements of the Empire and more.
The breastplate itself is a worthy piece of armor, a +1 breastplate for any wearer, attuned or not. Attunment, however, requires killing a demon and removing its vile presence from the face of the world. And once, attuned, the breastplate grants the wearer some of the power the Captain General had in life.
At the start of the wearer’s turn and only the start, they may grant their action, bonus action, or reaction to an ally within earshot. This can allow the ally to have two bonus actions for their turn, as an example. The wearer loses that action, bonus action, or reaction for themselves. To grant it, the wearer must define what they want them to do with it (attack and name the target, cast and name the spell, use a feature ability, take a manuever, overwatch for runners, etc.) and the granted action, bonus, or reaction is bound by that if the ally wishes to use it.
The ally does not have to use it, but if they do not it is lost. They cannot change what they are ordered to do, only given a chance to do their normal action AND the order. Orders can be heard, normally, by allies with a Passive Perception of 10 within 25ft; by allies with a Passive Perception of 15 within 75ft.; and by allies with Passive Perception of 20 within 225 feet given normal surroundings. Rushing wind, storms, water, walls, other noise and calamity may disadvange this.
Should the wearer retreat from a battle (even using one’s movement to move away from a threat, barring moving towards another one), this power cannot be used for 1 week.
Hand of The Pact
Krehl looked on as his body hit the ground with a horrific crack. There he lay. The battle raged on, but there he was. Eyes open, by the gods just staring at himself. Someone should toss something over his head, really. It was unsettling.
Krehl paced back and forth, wanting to bite his nails, but unable to—afterall, they weren’t nails. He didn’t know what a soul was made of, but he could confirm it didn’t have nails one could bite.
He paced. Back and forth. Slow and nervous. He knew better than to scream or cry out or try moving anything. Not since last time. He just watched, watched them fight, watched them run from here to there and back. Watched the shadow over his body grow longer. Watched as the clock ran out.
System: The Endless, a cabal of fiends from the fourth greater malebolgia, have been the most active in recruiting cultists and warlocks to their cause in the world. Where their counterparts try and fail so often to brutalize the mortals, heavy-handed tactics like great demonic monsters and insidious evil mages, the Endless have found that the universe polices subtle plans far less than bold ones.
The Hand is a shawl, dark smokey gray with soft black swirls. When worn by anyone, it reduces damage from fire taken by 1. Attunement requires forming a pact with the fiends of the cabal. To communicate with them requires some advanced knowledge of the barriers between this world and theirs (Religion Check DC 20) and careful removing of them (no iron in the area, no light, certain incense to drive away certain spirits that block the way, specific runes and symbols to pierce the wall between worlds, etc.).
The pact is simple. They only want one’s soul. And rather than complicate matters by fighting gods and men to get it, they’ll be happy to take it long after you’ve decided you don’t want to live anymore.
When worn and attuned, the shawl reveals a truer nature, the dark greys and blacks hang purposefully over the right shoulder stretching across the back and mid-section of one’s body, looking for all the world like the shadow of a giant clawed hand, as though an enormous dark creature has placed a fatherly hand on one’s shoulder and lightly gripped one’s body like a child with a toy.
So long as it is worn, the wearer will not age. Any supernatural aging effect fails entirely. Any attacks or ability checks made against the wearer by fiendish or celestial creatures are all disadvantaged, all the time and always. In addition, roll 1d6 (2d6 if a warlock, 36d if a warlock with a Fiendish patron). The resulting number is the number of turns, after death, the cabal will wait to claim your soul if you die. When one is reduced past 0 hp and fails death saves such that one dies, the clock starts. One’s soul can move about one’s body but cannot interact with the world, though it can see it. When the requisite time is up, one’s soul is taken. No resurrection or reviving is possible.
The pact is simple, and one can “walk away” at any time.