A Costly Grace, An Artful Ward, and A Level Playing Field…

Martyr’s Shift

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.

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Fiendish Drapery, A Study of You, Gangrel Were Awesome, Dark Sorcery Indeed, and St. Augustine Would Be Proud…

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

Blisterkrau Shroud

“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…”

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Skinning a Godling, a Guide to Living Forever, the General Takes the Field, I’ve Been Reading a Lot of “Fables”, and Dirty Old Men…

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

The Cray of the Dead God

Teller started the careful process of wrapping the long strap of boaxhide around her midsection. Around, then over, then around, then over–the motions were familiar to her, as common as brushing her hair out of her eyes. The rest of her comrades were tired, they’d spent the night in fitful watches, waiting for hell to climb the hill.

The lower encampment was, if anything, larger than the last one—and that had nearly killed them all. Soldiers, pink-faced and ready, were lined up to storm the earthy mound and give them all a death long in the coming. But, without worry and almost without care, Teller continued the ritual, taking her time and doing it right, wrapping herself in the protection of her clan and family and preparing herself for the blood to come.

If the emperor wanted this hill, she’d make his very best bleed for it.

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Study Hard, Mr Gorbechov Build Up That Wall, and There Aren’t Enough Nice Clothes…

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

Laffetr’s Pince-Nez

“He’s over there…” Sabya called out, pointing with his larian-made sword toward the outcroppings overlooking the long valley. His comrades tensed. They did not like this place, nor did they like the things that crept and hid in the shadows around it.

While they made their way down the gully and watched the sun fade behind the peaks of the far end of the lost and lonely stretch, they gripped the leather-wrapped handles and noched their arrows and glanced nervously left and right and up and down—waiting for the ambush they knew would come.

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Furious Nature, Humble Shoes, and Yes I’m Re-Reading That Book Right Now…

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

Manikanta’s Storm

Kudu did not like this place. Its ceilings looked like the broad arched cathedrals of the capitol, the glass panes in the grand windows were pristine and showed hints of light and shadow on the other side of their multi-colored mosaics. The air inside smelled like summer breezes and fresh rain. but, here, hundreds of feet underground, deep in the underdark, it was all false. Its perfection was all the more menacing for how strange it should be in this place.

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Your Own Druidic Circle, a Nasty Wand, and Sort of Being Ripley…

You can find the ever-growing list of “Better Than Nothing” items  over on the right. Read ’em, like ’em, share ’em, and comment.  This set inspired by the recent post by our co-writer, Mike.

Aegiaen Scepter

Cormin missed his sister. He hardly remembered what she looked like, back when they were young. They’d survived the war, the purge… and he’d been the only one to survive the bare winter that followed. She had red hair. She liked climbing trees.

That was nearly two hundred years ago, and it felt longer. Every sacrifice made the years seem longer, and even now—as he stared at his son, foolish and weak thing that his progeny was—he was reminded of why he did this. Reminded of the long game. Reminded that empires are not destroyed with a few bold fights but with the force of the ages and a will ready to make the sacrifices necessary to temper the steel of a thousand knives.

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Worship Gone Wild: Nature Clerics & Reverent Druids


Druids revere and protect nature. Clerics worship and are the servants of the gods. You think this would be a simple distinction, but it can start to look very confusing when you add in so-called “nature gods” and the fact that some Druid devote themselves to those same deities.

If a character is going to become the servant of the Old God of the Forest anyway, does the difference between a cleric and druid become nothing but which powers they get? No.

What’s the difference? Here are some thoughts on where they diverge, and suggestions on how to work clerics with such allegiances into your games.

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