You can find the ever-growing list of “Better Than Nothing” items over on the right. Read ‘em, like ‘em, share ‘em, and comment.
“I do not love you, Quix. I don’t even hate you. I regard you in the same way I regard the paper on which I scribble my careful messages or the base metal I forge into something of use. You’re mortal, which means you’re one of millions times millions of pestilential, short-lived things in this world and all others that I may use for a larger purpose.
“Should I tell you my purpose? Again? I’ve told you before, of course. Your mind cannot hold its grandeur and naturally burns itself free of the knowledge each time. You used to speak clearly, that stutter is a sign you’re slipping more. Your soul cannot handle the burden of my majesty. But, because it makes me laugh and happy, I’ll tell you again.
“Sshhhhh, careful boy, shhhh. No crying yet. I haven’t even started. You’ll need to steel yourself, you always scream at the end…”
System: The wars of mortals are won with diplomacy, bargaining, and some military force. The fool thinks it requires only the last bit. Great rebellions have overthrown powerful entrenched authorities only to themselves fracture and dissolve for lack of a solid web of support built by friendships, allies, and the careful sale of power, prestige, and resources to enemies. Paper wins wars.
In the vast expanse of the planar hells, it is no different. The Fiends have brokered the Great War for eons, serving no side and facilitating treaties, exchanges, and accords. The Blisterkrau, a Fiend of the Eight Gate who brokered the sale of the Lands of Inx to the Lost Powers, took his reward and turned his eye toward the ruination of another sort. His warlocks have worked knowingly and unwittingly both for millenia towards this new end.
His Shroud has been passed from cult to cult, from Warlock to Warlock, and grants its bearer a part to play in the great plan.
Attunement requires the overthrow of a legitimate government (in the form of the disgraceful ousting of a mayor, the bankrupting of a town’s administration, the institution of a different form of rulership, etc.). Once done, the Shroud—a pink and white, skin-soft robe as light as air—grants the wearer the ability to spend their Hit Dice to recover spell slots at an exchange rate of 4 HD for 1 slot for any non-warlock casters; 3 HD for 1 slot for warlocks; and 2 HD for 1 slot for Fiendish patron Warlocks.
While Occam let the demon swing away at him, firey axe trailing a comet of light and smoke this way and that while the stern and scarred warrior stepped out of the way over and over in a physical taunt that enraged the thing, Beniss circled wide behind it. Staying out of its reach, out of its line of sight, trying to get around it and hoping it wouldn’t notice. Chains wet with blood (its own? one of its victims’?) whipped gracefully, so smoothly that one forgot they were hundreds of pounds of arcane steel that would slap a man in half on impact.
As Beniss found his opening (and Occam took a searing cut across his already horrifically puckered and lined chest), he ran a finger along the rings on his right hand. Hard, ghostly images flew around him, symbols of light and wisping smoke keeping perfect distance from his fingers as though locked in orbit around them. Once satisfied with whatever they were saying, he took a deep breath and pressed his other hand against the giant thing’s leg.
The symbols danced and changed, and Beniss had enough time to call out four short words before a bloody chain broke most of his ribs and left him dying on the dry, hard ground.
System: Divination magic is one of the great misunderstood elements of the arcane education. Novices and adepts gravitate, in all academies and amongst all private tutelages, toward Evocational and Conjurational lines of magic (and the truly power hungry dabble in the dark purple arts of reanimation and death). The Diviners have a quieter role. Studied by the usually less adventurous, quick to find appointment to a court, they form the backbone of the Arcane Traditions in a quiet way.
Originally designed for scholarly pursuits, the Revealers have found some popularity amongst Diviners and mages seeking the life of discovery in the field and adventure in the hidden places of the world. Revealers are a set of three gold rings with a pearl inlay around the bands meant to be worn on the first two fingers and thumb.
Attunement requires formal authorization from any of the Archmages of Divination (from any academy or scholam)—Evokers may allow their tools to be used by any hexslinger with a book and a grudge, but Diviners are somewhat more circumspect.
Once attuned, the rings allow the wearer to draw forth knowledge of a creature by bringing its anima, its pattern in the cosmos, into focus and representing it with arcane symbols to be read. To use this ability, the wearer must calibrate the rings with an action (requiring the opposite hand to turn them just so to refract the light in a specific way). From there, the rings project readying runes of curiosity and inquiry around the wearer’s hand.
Upon touching a target creature with the other hand (the un-ringed hand), the runes of light start shifting and telegraphing information about the subject. So long as the un-ringed hand is in unbroken contact, at start of the wearer’s turn they first get the creature’s Type or Name (wearer’s choice); at the start of their next turn (if still in contact), they get the creature’s Damage Immunities or Damage Vulnerabilities (wearer’s choice); and at the start of their third turn (if still in contact), they get a piece of the creature’s pattern—giving the wearer advantage in attacks, saves, and ability checks against the creature for 24 hours.
Boots of Proteas
Kirig Vul had been murdering in these forests for nearly twenty years and was regarded far and wide amongst the gobs and hobs as one of the most dangerous warchiefs in their collective history. Sure, he hadn’t any of the high weaponry or infrastructure of his taller cousins in the Hobgoblin nations, and didn’t have the brutish might of the bugbears either. But his band of gobs were no less lethal in their element. Theirs was the warband that turned this corner of the Emperor’s domain into a no man’s land where even the Emperor’s Own elite soldiers avoided at all cost.
And here, the gods of the dark and warm were blessing Kirig. A lone stranger, mashing a turnip in a pot just as bold as you please. It’d be a quick kill, then, then a look at what’s in his pack, then maybe take the head and leave it at the edge of the wood for a solid message to the Emperor that his subjects were not welcome. It’d been years since they’d done that.
But, the stranger was gone. Suddenly, as though he’d not been there at all and were it not for the pot he’d have thought it all an illusion. Kirig felt a panic rise, the unknown was bad business for a brigand. And as he stood and started backing away, he bumped into someone behind him. Someone tall. Someone that had not been there a moment before.
System: In the time of the Weylthia Courts, which ruled the Great circle of the Fae before the Planar Godlings and Material Powers grew the universe, an Arch-Fey of the Hard Green formed a proto-world for its own amusement and curiosity. The worldling was small and simple, it grew its grasses and strange beasts grazed it and in the flash of an eye after centuries of gardening, it was voided from existence as the Fey found a new distraction. Just as carelessly, she took a pair of boots made by a primitive sentient tribe that had developed there and dropped them into the now created real world. Such is the chaotic indifference of the alien Fey.
The Boots are made of the barest substance of pure creation itself. Resembling woven boots of thick, dark blue grass, they grant the wearer an affinity for the earth in ways no arcane or divine powers can truly duplicate.
Attunement requires being buried alive in the boots for three days. No food or water, no magical or other assistance. Communing with the soil and the earth on a deep and somewhat maddening level.
Once attuned the boots allow the wearer to sink into and merge with natural ground for extended period of times. Using an action, one may drop into natural ground one is standing on, falling deep below the surface and merging with the soil and roots and clay and sands and rocks underneath. One is immune to all damage types while merged except Necrotic and should anyone target the ground with Necrotic damage within 10ft. of where one initially merged one will take double damage (having Vulnerability). One has a movement while merged equal to 5ft times their proficiency bonus.
Returning imposes 1 exhaustion on the wearer and requires a bonus action.
When she was young, she enjoyed the stories about dark and mysterious monsters in the hills and deep in the darkest parts of the jungle. Her father used to tell her about The Witch Hag and Krin the Profane, stories about power corrupting the vain and greedy—stories to help children grow up rightly.
She loved them. She imagined, wickedly and in that way children are innocent of imagining, growing tall and powerful and finding dark powers and ruling over those that bullied her in the town market or those that hurt others. She’d be a glorious and just monster. If there was any point where it could be said she stepped onto the path that took her here, it was the moment she realized one could aspire to be a just monster. A noble horror. A necessary evil.
There would be more coming. More young and idealistic men and women. Boys, really. Girls. Thinking they knew better and best. They’d come for her. They’d come to devour her. They’d kill the beast she was and think themselves righteous. And they’d be wrong. Their kind was made of power, and power only corrupts. Not that she was ready to go, she wasn’t. She’d murder them all as they came as she always did. Further cementing her reputation. The folktales would continue to call her a monster, but dispatching these heroes was the last noble act she knew. She was a just monster afterall.
System: Not all powers are goodly. Some come from dark places. The Feast is a black leather sack large enough to carry a large melon or a human head. A cabal of sorcerers, the Sons of Retainment, created it to share a communion of power in the form of their leader, a charismatic caster named Alaludin back in the days of the First Empire.
They ceremonially dismembered his body and placed him in the sack (enchanted to store it perfectly and timelessly. And over the years of their reign of terror, they powered their natural gifts to obscene heights by devouring parts of their leader’s arcanely charged flesh. In the centuries since their eradication, the sack fell to one sorcerer and another—none able to harness its original power, the magic that created it warped and weaker.
Attunement to the sack requires carving the symbols on its exterior into one’s body (Carving Tools or Leatherworking Tools DC 20, an hour, take 1 slashing damage). Once done, one may replenish spell points by eating the body parts inside the bag (which materialize as the attuned owner reaches inside) at a rate of 1 withered piece of flesh for 1 spell point. This takes 1 action. The body in the sack has a secret number of pieces (DM should write this number down and set it to the side on an index card). Once all the pieces have been eaten, the bearer of the Feast gains a resistance to Necrotic damage and becomes the next feast so long as they remain attuned.
Any sorcerer within 100 miles will have dreams of power and triumph, seeing the bearer’s face, dreaming of cannibalizing them and gaining might and arcane mastery. The more nefarious or power-mad may come hunting for the bearer. If they dismember the bearer’s body and place it in the sack the cycle resets.
Unattuning to the sack requires burning the symbols from one’s body with mundane fire and healing it naturally.
“Oh, you young idiot, to be seventeen again! Your whole life ahead of you! And with all those possibilities, you decided to serve the god of laughter and chance? Are you a complete moron?
“If you wanted to be pious, you should have headed—do you see down the street there? That big building with the golden eagle on top? That one? There. That’s where you should have gone if you wanted to impress your family and that girl that probable spurned your advances when you realized what your pecker was for.
“This priesthood ain’t the kind you write home about, kid. Our god is a precocious and dickish god, may he be praised and our fortuned light. You will be very fortunate to die with—wait, how much money do you have? That much, then. Yeah. If you die with a penny more than that, you’ll have made it out ahead. What kind of damn fool joins the Church of Chance? Honestly?
“Eh? What kind of debt? Wait, how much do you owe? On a horse? Lord almighty, boy, bum deal that—welcome to the brotherhood. I’ll get you a rulebook, the next decade is going to suck, I’m afraid. Safest way through, just stick to the book and try not to make any decisions yourself.”
System: The Sola Scriptura was one of the last creations of the magewright Artemis Shoi before the collected faiths of the capitol murdered him and his journeymen by Imperial decree for theft of ecclesiastic secrets. Master Shoi’s only real crime was finding a way to communicate with the beings most regard as gods and goddesses, opening a conduit to the planes far above where these mighty beings ruled and lived. While the few he contacted were surprised that a mortal should have found ways to commune with them, none were angry and virtually all were amused.
That didn’t stop the temples and churches from banding together in a rare display of cohesion, petitioning the crown (paying it), and launching a week-long holy war against the heretics. Such is the divine, so often, between the faithful and their faith.
The Sola Scriptura is a leathern cover of blemishless white doeskin, the perfect size and material for wrapping a holy book with convenient cinches and ties to keep it attached without damaging the contents. While wrapped, any book has Resistance to all damage types.
Attunement, by the bearer, requires genuine and proven faith and the holy text of a divine being inside the wrap. Possessing divine powers is sufficient enough, but for those without them it will require a true demonstration of devotion.
Once attuned, however, the holy book inside communes with the divine being and allows the bearer to divine answers to questions using the text as their guide. By spending an Inspiration and thinking of a question or problem, one may flip the book open randomly and read from the nearest full passage. The passage will hold the key to solving the problem or answering the question.
Scripture is written in often archaic languages and translated repeatedly, to say nothing of the mythical and folklorish nature of the prose itself. The DM is encouraged to evoke parables, morality play elements, symbolic language, etc. to offer the reader so long as the information is, essentially, true. Those with the appropriate background (Alcolyte is the best, but not only, example) may opt for a Religion roll DC determined by the complexity of the question or problem by the DM to interpret the passage found.