It’s our unlucky 13th installment in A Handful of Magic Items! We’re heading back to December’s 25 Magical Artifact Adventure Seeds article for inspiration. As last time, since these items are supposed to be unique and rare we didn’t hold them to the normal balance testing, so use at your own risk!
Staff of Soulcatching (requires attunement)
The Staff of Soulcatching can hold up to 20 souls at a time. Whenever a celestial, dragon, fey, fiend, humanoid or any other creature size Medium or larger dies within 30 feet of a creature wielding the Staff of Soulcatching, the wielder may use a reaction to activate the staff. Roll a d20; if the number rolled is equal to or higher than the hit dice or level of the dying creature, that creature’s soul is absorbed into the staff. While in the staff, the creature has no memory and cannot be resurrected by any means.
As an action, the wielder can use the staff to do one of the following, releasing all of the souls inside while doing so:
Make an ranged attack roll against a creature within 60 feet, using the number of souls as the modifier (do not add proficiency). This attack does Force damage equal to the total hit dice of the souls released.
Choose up to 10 creatures you can see within 60 feet; they each make a Wisdom saving throw (DC = 10 + # of souls). Each creature takes Force damage equal to the total hit dice of the souls divided by the total number of targets, rounded down, or half on a successful save.
Choose a creature within 10 feet; they gain temporary hit points equal to the total hit dice of the souls released. Each round, they lose temporary hit points equal to total hit dice / number of souls (average hit dice/soul), rounded up.
A large, red orb sits atop this silver staff, with swirling contents within. Whilst full of souls, the swirling intensifies as does a near-silent sound of muffled screaming.
Belt of Shrinking This belt magically adjusts to the waist of any creature that tries to don it. As an action, the wearer can tighten the belt, shrinking their body to fit inside it. A creature may not be reduced to below 10% of their starting height via means of the belt, at which point it ceases to function when tightened. Loosening the belt has no effect, nor does it restore height to a creature that has shrunk in it. A creature who has been affected by the Belt of Shrinking is considered to be cursed, and is effectively cured by any spells or abilities that can cure curses.
This belt appears to be made of black leather with a silver buckle with a ripple effect carved into it.
Lockpick Bolts As part of an attack action, a creature that is wielding a crossbow they are proficient with can shoot a Lockpick Bolt at a door. If the door is locked, compare the result of the attack against the DC of the door’s lock; if it is equal to or higher than the DC, the door is unlocked. If the door is locked by means of magic, use the result of the attack as though you cast dispel against the magic locking the door. If a door has more than one lock or magic locking it, apply to result to every lock or magic effect on the door. If the door is unlocked, not magically locked, or otherwise has no locking mechanism, the Lockpick Bolt has no effect. If fired at a creature, they do damage as normal. The Lockpick Bolt disappears after hitting a door regardless of if the door was unlocked or not.
These bolt appear to resemble normal crossbow bolts with the exception that the tip looks like a lockpick.
And that’s it! Like last time, these items were taken from our 25 Magical Artifact Adventure Seeds article, so if you need an idea on how to introduce these items into your game, look no further! That said, as these items are meant to be of the rare and powerful variety, think before you use them and make sure you’re not introducing too strong an item for your players.
Up first is the Staff of Soulcatching. I wanted something that could be used to take advantage of normal gameplay with a big reward that also rewarded patience. You can fill up the staff with low hit dice souls no problem, but it becomes significantly more powerful with more powerful souls. So it’s a risk- do you fill it up with a bunch of low level souls regularly to get more use, or do you save it for the big creatures, hope to absorb them, and then unleash one devastating attack? I also hoped the versatility of single-attack, multi-creature spell, and defensive ability made it something most characters would want, and dangerous in the hands of an enemy.
The Belt of Shrinking is just fun, if you ask me. Your players need to escape? Shrink down and head out! They need to fight? Uhh… oops! I like the idea of introducing this item without mentioning the downside, and in a way that they won’t check right away (e.g. a player needs to leave now and doesn’t have time to make sure the belt will make them big again. It will become an inconvenience (and possible new quest to solve!) but keeping a solution on hand to solve the curse will allow it to stay relevant as the group presses forward.
And lastly, we have the Lockpick Bolts. There’s not a ton to say; they unlock mundane and magic locks at a distance. Give them to your ranger or rogue, or anyone really that wants to use a crossbow. Give them to your sorcerer if you want, but don’t squander them! I toyed with the idea of making it so they also broke the lock if you rolled a certain amount over, but I decided that was overkill and kept it the way it is. Plus, if you’re trying to be sneaky you may not want to leave a trace.
Let us know what you think of these items, and how you would improve them or change them to fit into your campaign! Be sure to join in the discussion over on our Discord channel where we talk tabletop!
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