A Mad Book of Truth, the Lonely Song of Savages, and Whoopin’ Fisk

You can find the ever-growing list of “Better Than Nothing” items  over on the right. Read ‘em, like ‘em, share ‘em, and comment.

Darkle Fas

Wendell let them walk right into the path of the swinging log. Served them right, afterall—always on about him. Always judging. them with their noses high and their ways. If he’d had rich parents and all them trappings, he’d have done better than alright—it’s true. He’d be more lordly than their erstwhile bard, son of some count something or other.

And that paladin wouldn’t be so high and mighty. If Wendell’d been taught proper as a young thing, he could have set his mind on the gods and being fancy with that sword and whatnot. He could have owned the world, but here he was, sneaking and thieving for this group of right and full bastards.

So, the log did the lesson today—ole Wendell wasn’t useless after all. No big hurt, but enough of a whallop to get their attention. As he thumbed the small book from his pocket, he barked at them all to get back and let a professional get to the job. Called them wankers and whoresons while he disabled the thing, too.

System: Written on the stars, in the heavens, is the truth of all things. The answer to a boy asking for a hand in marriage is already known and there. The answer to the engineering feats of tomorrow. The answer to what is the noblest sacrifice. All things. And Can-toi, through his otherworldly will and alien mein, had a loyal servant—his name long lost, but a bard of the old tongue—had him copy the truths from the fabric of the world. It took a lifetime, and he barely scribed the smallest fraction. It drove him mad. He became a horror in another tale. But, the book he wrote still exists.

Darkle Fas (“volume of raw truth” in the old tongue) is a very small book, no more than the size of a large man’s hand, and only a half-inch thick. It’s pages are an inky, oily-feeling black parchment of some king, it’s cover a bone-white slap of rough white leather. It is, wholly, unreadable—unless attuned.

Attunement requires tasting the madness that took the bard that wrote it—opening one’s mind to the wide universe of knowledge. but, unlike him, never choosing to contain it in one’s self—rather, let the book do it. One must develop a long-term madness to attune the book. Breaking one’s mind is a difficult thing, and DM’s are advised to keep in mind what horrors or savages or torments one must go through to fall prey to madness. or, which faiths or temples (often those with the Trickery domain or worse) could do it for a price and gladly.

Once attuned, however, the book provides advantage on any skill check after 1d6 rounds of consulting it. Questions about the arcane history of dragons (Arcane check)? How to best pick this particular kind of lock (Dexterity check, with tools)? The clearest path through this forest (Survival check)? How to optimally grapple a hobgoblin wearing precisely that kind of armor? Any check involving a skill that can be referenced. The book reads the stars.

It only asks for the open mind to use it, and an open mind is prone to madness.

Caufwein Stradgart

It was an old song she knew from when she was a girl. In the camps, after they finished the work in the village, they’d gather and bloody each other with sticks and rocks. And after, once someone won or everyone stopped trying, she’d go home and her mother would be playing the tune. It was the song of her people, it would remind her forever after of home.

And so, covered in someone else’s blood and watching the others pull themselves up from the muck. The beast’s chest still and yet steaming with the lightly misting rainfall… she sat on the grass, a dry patch raised from the mud, and pulled her caufwien free. The tune she played was the tune of home and it reminded her that this—all of this horror—would pass one day.

System: The tribes of the west, the famed savages and peoples of the winter deserts, are amongst the most stalwart and dangerous in the world. From the youngest times, they stood at the gate of hell itself, the Rack Chasm, and kept the horrors at bay. Generation after generation, fighting back the darkess that would consume the whole world.

Their warriors were strong, their elite swordswomen a wonder of death, and their spellsingers able to accomplish magic that any wizard would give their right hand to have returned to this world. But, like all civilizations, theirs passed. And what is there now is a shadow of what it was.

The caufwein is a wind instrument made from yak bone roughly the size of potato. Carved precisely, it produces a sound like a long, low, hooting owl and is still played with some seriousness in the far places of the barbaric tribes. The Stradgart is one of the last of the instruments of the fabled barbaric spellsingers of old.

The item requires no attunement. To use it, one must be of the blood of the old places (determined by having the ability to enter a Rage). Activating it requires 1d20 minutes of playing the long, haunting, sad notes that it makes and playing the songs of the Tundra Walkers (Performance Check).

With a total of 5 on the check, one may heal 1d4 hp. On a total of 10, one may supress the effects of (but not cure) a Poison or Diseased condition for 24 hours, on a total of 15 one may remove 1 exhaustion, on a total of 20 one may supress the effects of a curse, on a total of 25 one may spend a hit dice as though in a short rest, on a total of 30 one may extend these effects to another person. All lower effects are also had with a higher number (i.e. a roll of 10 grants the benefits of the 5 and 10 check).

Trust

His breathing was slow. He could feel them all around, edging closer and panting noisily. He could smell their sweat (that they sweat at all said a lot) and hear the sound of grating metal on a softer and more mute metal. he could hear the tendons in their hand creak. he could feel the heat from their bodies as they approached.

And as the first one raised its arm (the drift of air upward and then rolling in told him something flat had just moved upward) and arced down (the strain of his boots, the leather groaning a bit under the shift in weight), he moved barely a few inches and felt the axehead slide down his hip harmlessly.

And only then, truly, did he know where best to drive his fingers. finding the things eyes. Taking them from it. Hearing it scream. Feeling the rush of its friends to the battle.

System: When the Hallow Street Monastery was formed in the first days of the reign of Hazzan Exile II, they took it upon themselves to teach the initiates and novices of their order that the world they lived in was foul and dangerous, and the best way to reinforce it was by handing out blindfolds the first day. The allure of a pretty woman. Of a shining gold armor. Of a bright and clear day… all of these things betray the truth. That the world is made of the stench of the wicked and the grime of the slumly. After two years, initiates were allowed to take them off. The order was responsible for some of the most horrific riots and slaughters in the capitol’s history, as well as some of the bravest service in times of woe.

Trust is one of the few remaining blindfolds from that time, centuries past. Each mentor gave their initiate’s blindfold a name, to guide them on their path. Trust was special, worn by one of their heroes.

Attunement requires wearing the blindfold and willingly keeping it worn. Taking it off, one loses all the benefits of the item and may not re-attune it. Using remote or other arcane sight to mitigate the blindness un-attunes the cloth permanently. While worn and attuned, one is considered Blind–with all that condition entails. However, one gains three distinct new abilities.

First. one may take as many reaction opportunity attacks as one wants to in a given turn (granted, they are made at disadvantage due to the Blindness); second, one may take a reaction for an opportunity attack against any opponent that attempts an attack in melee against the wearer. As individuals and creatures swing, strike, punch, stab, or slam, the wearer gets a free opportunity attack against them. Third, one gains a Tremorsense of 15ft (this does not negate Blindness).

When moving more than half one’s base movement unassisted (no wall or guiding wire or specific Help from allies), the DM may move the wearer 5ft. in any direction to account for the difficulties in pintpointing one’s movement without sight. Moving up to half, however, may be done freely as though one could see.

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