Snakeskin Chain Skin

What color it is, I cannot say, yet hiss, and kiss your tears away…

DESCRIPTION

Deep in the caverns of a lost cave system of underground circular tunnels carved out impossibly smooth, the very rock worn down through some unknown process or method, if you’re lucky enough to survive the encounters by the lizard-like folk who dwell there, you may find a metal bracelet sculpted on the outer side in scales of a snake, shimmering with alternating green, blue, and purple iridescent hues.

If you were to put on the bracelet, you would find that the scales seem to expand to cover the entire wrist, and on the underside of the band, scales would grip the arm, not piercing the skin, but creating a flexible seal over the skin.

If you were to continue to wear the bracelet for an extended period of time, you would notice, eventually, the scales slowly expanding. You might be alarmed by this, but you will likely feel conflicted as the metal scales provide quite the protective armor against harm from anything that slashes and cuts (but not form those things that pierce and bash).

If you were to ignore the early signs of the skin growing, you might find yourself changing in other ways as the scales continue to cover the surface of your body. Your eyes could change – the pupils narrowing to long vertical slits. Your ears and nose could recede (or perhaps be enveloped by your swelling head – flesh taking on the same strange hues of the scales of metal).

If you were not attuned to the magics and creatures of the Bridge of Stone before, you are now, and interacting with items and peoples attuned to the other Bridges can cause great harm and distress.

If you allow the bracelet to take yourself, you might find that you and the lizard-like folk share more in common than not. You may question why they were so fiercely defending and keeping others away from their treasure horde. You may find yourself being drawn back to that same system of tunnels from which you first found the bracelet…

RULES

If one were to put on the Snakeskin Chain Skin bracelet, the GM begins tracking how long it will take for it to cover your body. The effect starts at a Ud10 that is rolled at the end of each long rest. As long as the usage die is a d8 or d10, it is possible to take off the bracelet. Once the usage die is at a d6, the arm must be removed to separate the bracelet from the body. At a d4 it is covering so much of the body that it is impossible to remove and just a matter of time before the character is taken over entirely.

Whenever the bracelet is removed, the effect resets at Ud10 when it is put on once more.

The bracelet has the following effects based on the current usage die of the effect:

UD10Merely a large bracelet: It confers the capacity to speak with snakes, lizards, and other creatures and folk associated with the Bridge of Stones. Of course these types of animals are still simple and low INT, however they can now converse with intelligent folk from this bridge in their own language.

UD8 Covers the hand up to the elbow: As above and provides a free use of armor against one source of cutting, slashing, or hacking damage each day.

UD6 Covers the entire arm up to the shoulder socket: As above and provides one use of Conjure Snake once per day:

CONJURE SNAKE: Arcane Spell – Summons a metallic snake familiar with 2d4 HD.

UD4 Covers most of the body below the neck: As above and replaces the characters background with the following: I once was one of the folk of lizardkind from the tunnels beneath the earth and will do anything to return to serve my duty and protect the nest.

DESIGN NOTES

This is a long one, but I think pretty fun! I like the idea of this kind of progressive item, it’s almost like a parasite that slowly takes over and replaces the wearer over time, but until it does, it confers some pretty fun abilities. Who wouldn’t want a metal lizard familiar to command?

I also love the idea of the GM concealing the progression of the spread of the scales. I once read a house rule for Call of Cthulhu that recommended the GM track every player’s sanity score in secret and describing how their characters react when a sanity-altering encounter is presented. I love it because it gives the GM some crunch to guide the presentation of fluff. That’s what we’re here to do anyway, right?

Once again I’ve found a new utilization for the usage die, that thing is just beyond versatile! I’ll be surprised if I run out of new ways to manipulate it in the future, in fact I feel like it’s kind of an ever-expanding presence in my own ways I want to run and design games. It creeps, must like scales from a bracelet slowly taking over my mind…

Shard of Thrashkil

They say every shard is cursed, but maybe this one, this time, it isn’t…

DESCRIPTION

Thrashkil was forged in the before time – when the world was but one Bridge united and unified under one banner, one great house. Just as the shattering began, the mighty axe Thrashkil was forged for the giant Protule. Queen Protule attempted to keep the house together, but it was not meant to be, and with the finally sundering of the one true Bridge, so too was the mighty axe torn apart, shards of its gleaming purple-blue axehead strewn across the world and Bridges as creation spewed forth and mortals entered the world.

Or that’s what I heard, that’s the legend, and how it goes. I’ve carried the damned thing everywhere since my father gave it to, and when I die, it goes to my daughter, and to her children after her. They say they’re cursed, but it’s always seemed to bring luck to me and mine…

RULES

Whoever shall possess a Shard of Thrashkil shall risk the wrath or favor of the dead giantess queen Protule. At the beginning of each day, the GM flips a coin in secret. Heads – the Shard provides a blessing. Tales – the Shard provides a curse. The GM should note this in secret and announce to the table that Protule has made her silent judgment. This judgment is only determined and applied once each day no matter how many shards a character possesses.

When the PC possessing a Shard makes their first attribute roll that day, apply Protule’s judgment. If it’s a blessing, the roll gains Advantage. If it’s a curse, the rolls gains Disadvantage.

There are 16 shards of Thrashkill, one in each of the four Bridges and 8 in the world of mortals. Once all 16 have been collected, it is possible to begin the quest to reconstruct Thrashkill, resurrect Protule, and bring about the reunification of the bridges. Only once the bridges have been reunified can The Wall be brought down, freeing all souls to transition to the Great Sea.

A Shard cannot be used to forge anything else, and is generally unaffected by any means to do so.

DESIGN NOTES

What’s a little piece of metal gonna do in your campaign – lead to the apocalypse? Perhaps! I’ve been painting the frost giant from Steamforged Games’ Epic Encounters line. Not only is this “miniatures” literally gigantic, gorgeous, and a ton of fun to paint, but it’s really inspiring my love of giants in general.

So that’s the beauty of a homebrewed world – only just recently am I introducing giants, and because I now have giants, it inspired me to write a bit of the creation myth. And what good’s a creation myth if it doesn’t help us understand the end of the world?

A Shard of Thrashkil is a very simple thing. It’s a flip of the coin to change one roll each day. However it opens up potentially 15 (15!) side quests and can be a constant background feature for your campaign.

Will we see the Axe itself written up in the future? Time will tell…

Aberrant Leather Buckler

Yeah, the leather’s a fashion statement, but the METAL… Forget about it!

DESCRIPTION

Small metal sheild, most commonly made of iron but just as likely to be made from metals most associated with the Bridge from which the leather was harvested. Rather than a smooth circle, these bucklers tend to favor severe edges and hooks to allow their users to utilize the agility advantage a buckler provides over a more traditional shield.

The leather that is sewn into the framework of the shield provides various benefits to it welder tied once again to the Bridge from which it was harvested. Sometimes these bucklers are named after the aberrant that provided its hide for the leather, there are even known to be several sets of bucklers from a single, larger aberrant, and when bringing them together can result in surprising effects – sometimes the power of the buckler is multiplied and others it is replaced entirely.

The appearance of the buckler also depends on the Bridge that spawned the aberrant. For example, a Buckler of an Aberrant of Stone gives off a more scaled, reptilian appearance to reflect the most common types of creatures found there whereas a Buckler of an Aberrant of Wind might have scales or feathers to reflect the fauna found there.

RULES

The GM may roll 1d4 on the table below to determine the origin of the Aberrant leather. This determines the appearance and ability of the item. The buckler provides no inherent defensive capabilities to match those of a mundane buckler or shield. Instead, the item has Ud4 charges per day of its listed power.

Source of Aberrant/Appearance/Ability
1 – Flames – Burnt, blackened fur/Advantage to Remember a Spell or Prayer.
2 – Stones – Reptilian, grey and craggy/Advantage to STR to defend an attack.
3 – Trees – Feathered, bright and vibrant/Advantage to DEF to defend an attack.
4 – Winds – Scales, shiny blue and green/Extra use of Background.
Roll 1d4.

When an Aberrant Buckler has no more charges, it may be used one final time to avoid all damage from one attack. If it is used in such a manner, it is completely destroyed. On a 50/50 chance, the character welding it when it’s destroyed gains the ability of the buckler and the arm it was one taking on the appearance of the leather before it was destroyed.

Under no circumstances can the buckler be repaired either way.

DESIGN NOTES

Random effect buckler! Today I’m showing off once more a feature of my setting and also providing a nice, low level magical item which is actually four potential items in one.

As I’ve mentioned before, Bridges are where magic comes from in my setting. They’re parallel realities where souls go after the body dies, and the souls walk the land until they find The Wall (it’s a whole thing I’m not going into at this time). Some souls take too long and start to… go bad. If you’ve seen Pixar’s Soul, it’s actually not too far off from that, oddly enough.

These souls break back into our reality and present as horrific monsters – it’s one of the main monster generators of my setting. These monsters are called Aberrants, and they appear in settings appropriate to their Bridge in places where the veil is thinner. For example, an Aberrant from the Bridge of Winds (a realm that’s one large ocean) appear as sea monsters in great depths in the real world.

So if you kill one of these things, their skin still carries a charge, and someone had the bright idea of utilizing it for magical item creation.

And now you’re caught up to why it’s important which realm the leather comes from!

I recommend not telling players about the sacrificial nature of the buckler but rather allow them to discover it on their own. Should make for a fun surprise that makes it worth it potentially to lose their shield!

The Handy Hatchet of Henry

DESCRIPTION

A young blacksmith of previously little talent claims that he “found” this hatchet sitting in a stump in the woods. Now suddenly he’s found new success, and the village witch is making claims that Henry better watch out as mysterious hatchets found in the woods tend to carry curses with them for the unwary.

A small one-handed hatchet with a wooden handle of some kind of white birch and and an iron axe head with two notable features – one is the back of the axe head which has been shaped into a very finely-honed carpenter’s hammer. The second feature is a hand that has been shaped of the some iron as the blade and embedded into the birch wood handle – the hand resembles the short, squat fingers of the people native to the islands of The Grey – those short folk known for exceptional craft and just as an exceptional hatred for outsiders…

It is a thing of exceptional craftsmanship, and while it clearly can serve as a decent weapon in a pinch, in the right hands, it is a true tool for creation rather than destruction. But of course, it can be difficult to use with the iron hand attached to it. Perhaps there’s a way to remove it without ruining the handle. Perhaps the hand itself belongs to someone – the previous owner or even its creator?

Perhaps Henry might be more forthcoming with details on where he found this hatchet, and a keen eye inspecting the area could find a clue or two to get them started on exploring the mystery further…

RULES

The hatchet acts like any other simple one-handed weapon or tool, except if the hand is still attached to it, it provides disadvantage on attack rolls and advantage on rolls where it is used as part of an appropriate craft attempt.

The hand does belong to a former apprentice blacksmith named Loren’xex of the diminutive folk of The Grey. The X carved into the axe head is his maker’s mark, and of course if one were to apply the base of the molded hand to his scarred left arm stump, it would be a perfect fit.

Delivering the axe to Loren’xex will uncover further details of his lover, the warlock Aspen’rar who has made a pact with one of the gods of the Bridge of Stone that resulted, in part, of the curse that cost Loren’xex his hand.

If the hand is removed as a result of removing Aspen’rar’s curse, the axe provides advantage both for crafting and combat rolls.

DESIGN NOTES

Okay, this one turned out a bit longer, but it just kept coming out of my brain, and honestly weapons and items that come with a quest all on their own are the best anyway, right?

You also get a bit of my world’s setting in here. I credit the concept of The Grey to my sister who came up with this mysterious folk as a rival nation living on an island chain off the main Halanar continent. As a fighter, her character “fought a useless war” in an Imperial invasion force launched against The Grey.

It didn’t go well.

So for my own campaign, this could very well be quite the trek for my players if they were to pursue the mystery.

You also get a look into my cosmology with mention of the Bridge of Stone! There’s a whole lot wrapped up in just those three words, so I’ll have to save that for another day, but briefly, it’s both a house of gods and a purgatory realm (one of four) where spirits go after they die and try to find their way to the real after life (hence “Bridge” to the afterlife). These realms are also the source of all magic!

Wretch’s Ocarina

DESCRIPTION

An awkward mix of smoking pipe and musical instrument, Wretch’s Ocarina is a clay and wood pipe that is patterned after that of the small ocarina flute. It can be both smoked and played at the same time, and a small pouch of purple pipe weed is found next to it at the abandoned guard post where it has been left.

The music, when played without smoking the purple pipe weed is like that of any other instrument. The pipe, when smoking (even the purple pipe weed) without playing a song produces the smoke and calming sensation of smoking any other pipe.

However, when a bard of modest skill plays a song and smokes the purple pipe weed, the true potential of the ocarina comes alive, and purple sparks fill the air along with the greasy purple haze from the purple pipe weed.

RULES

When you both smoke the purple pipe weed and play a song (not just random notes), all allies who can smell the smoke and hear the music may heal one HD without the need to spend one HD of their own.

Anyone who heals in this manner forgets all memorized spells and prayers and is distracted for 1d8 hours or until they participate in one round of combat, whichever happens first.

The purple pipe weed has a Ud6 and is considered an Exotic/Expensive item should it be sought out to purchase.

DESIGN NOTES

This is another item that was found by one of my players in the Hole in the Oak adventure from Necrotic Gnome, however this one was made up on the spot. My player’s character, the infamous “Wretch” is a character who doesn’t excel at anything other than being not very good at anything. I thought it would be fun to give him something that could help our cleric to not be so stressed out.

The pipe/ocarina itself is made by gnomes. And no, I have no idea how a fluted pipe would sound, but smoke coming out of all those little holes would be pretty cool.