The others were drunk or laughing or both, a high fire popping and hissing wood while they celebrated. The road had been long, the journey fraught with peril, and today they won through. It was dead. And the long miles and weeks of hunting it back to its manse, dispatching it’s minions–even with the losses they suffered and the friends they buried–were worth it. As Sir Broadways watched them all smiling and cheering each other through the gap in his tent, he felt the costs more than the joy.
He took off his heavy golden armor, piece by weighty piece, and slowly–laying each down with care and respect. He took his padding off, the old quilted garment common to thick plate, and knelt in his shift. The old blood stains–here, from that crossbow bolt last year; there, from the ax of that vile dark thing from his youth–were accented by a fresh one still red and damp and sticky. The creature had conjured some fierce and dark lance and there is where it would have pierced him had the old paladin not stopped it.
A cheer went up in the camp and the explosive and infectious laughter of Tanner. Let them enjoy themselves, Broadways thought, I can still pay the costs…
History: (Religion DC 15) The old orders of knights and The Faith from the long fallen Northern Empire still carry some of the artifacts of power or piety with them. Among these few and far flung pieces of careful, divine blessing are Martyr’s Shifts–seemingly normal, though well-made, cloth longshirts. If not for the golden thread in the stitching, one would mistake them for any such shifts any armored or active individual might wear under their clothes in any part of the world.
But these were created through a slow and careful pledge to their now half-forgotten goddess that their wearer would trade his life, in what bits and pieces they must, to fight on righteously for Her glory and to protect Her people. They’re the simple clothes of a long dead pious warrior. As venerable as the bones of a Saint. One must be baptized, wearing only the shift, in natural waters (no particular faith or creed necessary, only a rebirth and personal oath to live to protect the weak) in order to attune.
System: Once attuned (see History), the shift allows the wearer to negate damage against themselves after the damage dice are rolled. After a successful attack hits them, and after the damage dice are rolled, but before they are applied to the character, the player may use their Reaction (assuming they have it available) to remove as many of the rolled damage dice as they want.
For example, in the case of a greatsword attack against them that hits and does 3 (dice one) + 5 (dice two) +2 (strength) damage against them, they may elect to use their Reaction to activate the shift and take the 5, the 3, or both away–this has no effect on the remaining non-dice related damage.
Doing so, however, runs a 25% chance of removing 1 permanent maximum HP from the character for every dice removed. So, in the event of removing 1 dice, roll 1d4 and on a 1 remove one permanent maximum HP from the character. In the event of removing 2 dice, roll 2d4 and for every 1 rolled remove 1 HP from the character. These HP removals aren’t a curse (and cannot be fixed by uncursing or restoring), they’re a cost. They may not be wished or miracled back in any conventional magical sense as they aren’t “lost”. They’re freely given away, divinely.
Finding and returning the shift to a priest or temple of the old Northern faiths (rare and lost to time) may restore those “paid” HP to the character at the cost of ever being able to use it again–DM’s are encouraged to make finding such people or places whole adventure arcs on their own as it has been centuries gone.