You can find the ever-growing list of “Better Than Nothing” items over on the right. Read ‘em, like ‘em, share ‘em, and comment.
Teller stared at the great, lumbering man. He’d only been with the group for a week, and already she couldn’t stand him. Huge, ugly axe on his back and a feathered leathern shield over it, scraggly haired and thick bearded—he was everything her tribe hated. When the people of the Reaches and High Places come to the kingdoms, most take them for brutes and illiterate savages—and Brau was why. He was crude, filthy, and little more than an animal most of the time.
No self-respect there, she rolled her eyes at the lazy way he scratched himself while they walked on. Here, truly, was a savage. May the Mountain Gods and the Death Bear eat his whole clan.
To her surprise, the skies cackled and rumbled, and a soft rain began falling on them. Groans of dismay from the rest rose above the whish of the summer storm, boots would get soaked. But, from Brau there was only a belly laugh as he stripped his vest off and ran about catching the rain in his mouth, greasy hair plastered to his head. He howled something into the sky, with a grin on his face and gave Teller a wink.
System: In the oldest time, the gods had not yet carved up the world and argued about who would rule what. Some fought bitterly over the domains of war or longevity, some over who would be loved by the mages, some wanted to lord over the turning of civilizations. Grandfather Thunder only wanted to rule the clouds and the rains and in the bargaining over the great things, the rest let him have his want in favor of his support of their machinations.
In the end, they laughed, for what is the rain when one rules War. Grandfather Thunder only said “all armies must march, and it is I that will have say over how far, how fast, and if they will reach battle at all”. That story is part of the tradition of the Storm Cairn. It is the story told when the Thunderhaeld is given to a warrior.
Attunement requires a pledge to the Great Spirit of Grandfather Thunder to bring the haeld (the word for “shield” in the high places) to a worthy successor made during the height of his fury (in the middle of a storm, when he is closest to the world).
From then on, the bearer may treat the haeld as a +0 magical shield that offers the bearer a choice to either “stand tall against the storm” (gain resistance to lightning and thunder damage) or “find solace in the storm” (rain heals 5hp at the start of every turn, if standing in it wholly; lightning from a stormcloud cures disease, poison, any petrification or curse, and exhaustion if struck by it).
If one does not give the haeld to a worthy successor when one crosses paths with them, they may earn the wrath of Grandfather Thunder (and be harassed and cursed until they find that person and give them the haeld).
Unfurling the wooly overwrap delicately, Teller breathed deeply—her chest rising and falling three times in careful rhythmic patience. The war would begin tomorrow, the blood and the battle, the maimed and dying. She would be responsible for many of them, children would hate her and wifes and husbands would recall years later the spectre of death that took their loved one. That spectre having a long braid of blonde hair and a howling fury in her eyes.
The garment was precious to her, she supposed as she ran a hand along the bright blue edge. She remembered wearing it during the Long War and during the Purge. She hated it, and loved it. It was the purest essence of her mission in this world. To be the hero her tribe demanded, and to carry the burden of the bodies that made.
As she wrapped it around her midsection and over her shoulder, she prepared the days events in her mind. Talk first. Bargains. Promises. Brodie and the others were counting on her for this. And, when the deals were made, battle. But, here at least, was her chance to save a few before then.
System: Every tribe and clan of the far South and the high places in the West have a Tarsainn—a ceremonial garment of wool worn loosely as though a toga or short robe. In the second age, when magic poured itself into the world through the holes and sieves of a fracturing cosmos, these ritualistic trophies infused with the great spirits of their wearers and became not just the ceremonial clothing of their honored warriors, but the embodiment of the history and destiny of the whole tribe.
Woven into the fabric of each is a thread of destiny itself, from the Plane of All Futures.
Attunement to the Tarsainn requires joining the ranks of the tribe’s honored. Birthright means little, but should the elders of the tribe who own that Tarsainn accept the wearer as one of their sacred protectors, the garment becomes flush with its power and grants two distinct powers.
First, one gains advantage in any social role (Persuasion, Insight, etc. best defined by the DM) and interaction with any creature that has a class level in Barbarian, has a Savage Attack, is orc blooded, or worships ancestors, spirits, or totems. The garment simply speaks to and commands the respect of those who, even subconsciously, understand it.
Second, once per day one may use the result of the most recent d20 roll in combat (regardless who rolled it or what it was rolled for, so long as it was “official”) on one’s next action, bonus action, or reaction (whichever comes first). For example, the last attack the monster rolled was a 17 on the d20 and the wearer’s turn is next; the first action, bonus action, reaction they take may use that 17 in lieu of rolling anything. This does mean (though unlikely) that if the wearer rolls a 20 on an attack and gets another attack for any reason they may elect to re-use their own 20 again (if they haven’t used their “once per day” yet, of course).
The strands of fate are subtle, but ever present.
Censor of Love
“Keep them off me just a little longer!” Brynn Ebonflowerwood knelt in the grass while his comrades up ahead clashed with the giants. They weren’t supposed to be this close to the Rahnwater. Brynn thought he’d have more time, maybe tonight at the soonest…
He pushed the thoughts out of his head and poured the pulpy-red concoction from the vial in his trusty ledgerbox. Holding it up to the light, he confirmed it was the right tincture. Can’t be too careful, of course.
As the battle raged on up ahead, he poured a little of the mixture into the hollow of the gold bauble around his neck, a cinammon and lemon scent filled the air. Snatching up his uncle’s rapier, he raced for the treeline.
“Alright… everyone… make some room!”
System: Amongst the prized possessions of Mercy of Zoa was a necklace given to him by the Duchess Anastasia Al’Alberata, also known in later years as the Witch Hag of the Lost Mire. In her youth, and before her change, she was a dabbler in the arcane arts and bestowed the brigand king with a trinket of her own design, intended to entrance him and lure him to her to love her forever.
What she hadn’t realized at the time was that of all the heroes and villains in the world, the gods (most notably, the god Risk–he of chance and ill fate and great luck—had chosen Mercy to be a confounder of the plans (great and small) of those around him all his days. The charm did not work as intended, and the resulting folly led Anastasia to drown herself leading to the story we all know of the Witch Hag.
The trinket, however, a gold chain and a tiny censor with three holes and a cavity in it, went on to be passed down from father to sone to undle to nephew for generations of his bastard line.
Attunement requires a careful curing of the iron casing inside (Nature check DC 15) and the favor of the God of Chance (often through great win or loss in gambling or, more directly, through some life-threatening and death-defying display of arrogance).
Once attuned, the censor is primed and grants the wearer two powers.
First, one may fill the hole in the censor with an herbal or alchemical concoction (specific to every creature species) to ward against them. The censor magically enhances the native properties of the mixture to a powerful, quintessential height. For humans its a combination of shaved cuticle of a troglodyte mixed with a crushed rotted cherry pauce–the smell is truly horrific and humans that want to approach (get within 5ft) must pass a Wisdom Save DC equal half the resulting crafting DC to make the substance plus one’s proficiency bonus (if proficient in Herbalism and/or Alchemy kits). For dwarves, it’s a mash of citrus and ironbite sulfur. For other creatures, the DM is encouraged to select a commonly findable item and a rare one (the higher the CR of the creature, the more rare). Filling the censor, if one has the concoction, takes one action. Emptying it takes another.
Second, the censor treats all Inspiraton dice using rolls as being at least a 10. Whether rolling advantage (in that case, specify which is the Inspiration dice and which is the normal one) or negating a disadvantage and rolling normally (in which case roll the one Inspiration dice alone) if the Inspiration dice result is lower than 10, treat as a 10. Risk doesn’t mind tipping the scales once in a while.