It’s Tabletop Tuesday, folks, and even though it’s crazy late on Tuesday this week we’re doing another special segment too. In this, the second episode of Homebrew Helper, I’m going to offer up some weapons I have designed for you to borrow.
All of these weapons are from Dungeon World, which is going to work out pretty conveniently in this post. If you aren’t very familiar with Dungeon World, magic weapons work a little differently in this game. In most games, magic weapons are special because they have high stats. A normal axe just does d10 damage, while a magical axe may have a +3 enhancement bonus and a fire elemental tag. But in Dungeon World, mechanical bonuses to a weapon just represent that the weapon is of particularly good quality. Magic is a whole ‘nother level, and rather than using mechanical effects to describe it, you use fictional ones. That’s a really fancy way of saying that instead of giving you +2 damage, a Dungeon World magic weapon gives you bonuses that can’t be described by the rules of the game.
The reason this is convenient for the post is that describing a Dungeon World weapon is literally just telling its story and what it can do. No fancy numbers, no lists of oddly-specific tags, just storytelling. So if you’re here not to borrow homebrew content but just to read and have fun, this post is perfect for you!
Of course, if you do wish to borrow some homebrew content, you’re welcome to use these!
At the beginning of the campaign, I asked each player to tell me one legend that they had heard about the game world. In character, they all described something they heard about. I got stuff like a super-fortress, a blight on the land, and a man who could speak legends into existence. Most of these didn’t get used in the campaign – the players have been attracted to other quests and other aspects of the game – but the legends do set kind of a nice background and they fill out the world so that it doesn’t seem empty and boring. One of these legends that was never used was the Apocalypse Sword.
The player told of a sword rumored to be able to destroy anything it touches. I marked the place he specified on the game map and inwardly laughed. As if I’m just gonna let you guys have a weapon that kills anything. I immediately began plotting exactly how the Apocalypse Sword was going to work.
Since it’s too late for the players to experience this aspect of the campaign (they’re currently trapped in a labyrinth in another dimension), I don’t mind to spoil my plan. I combined some of the legends I was given into one MASSIVE challenge. First of all, the area all around where the sword is was covered in the blight upon the land. That’s because the sword was plunged into the flesh of the monster causing the blight. Unfortunately, the sword wasn’t prepared properly and didn’t kill the beast. All the people in all of the towns and villages affected by the blight fled into one city and made it into a stronghold – making the super fortress described by another player. Meanwhile, the monster moved on and spread its blight further north, taking the Apocalypse Sword with it.
The first step to wielding the sword would be to claim it. This would require moving through the blight (a poisonous swamp that alters the landscape and bends reality itself while potentially turning anyone who touched it into a monster) to get to the monster’s lair. The monster itself was a horrible slime beast, its flesh corrosive and its attacks devastating. Defeating it would earn the party the sword, a heavy, cumbersome thing with the blade dull as a butterknife.
Identifying the sword either on their own or with the help of a professional would reveal to the heroes that the sword needs a few things in order to deliver on its promise to destroy anything. First of all, the true name of its target would need to be etched into the blade. On top of that, the sword needs a power source – specifically, it needs to absorb all the energy from a Place of Power, a location so full of arcane energy and raw magical potential that wizards can use it to do practically anything, given time to work with it.
Getting the name of their agreed target would require the party to take the sword to the leader of the Smithing Guild – a man who was coincidentally also the leader of his city, a city embroiled in war with its closest neighbor. Resolving the war would be the only way to get his help. Learning the true name of their chosen enemy (depending on the enemy they chose) would require the aid of the Arcane Guild, a group of distrustful magicians that have given the party a lot of trouble. Finally, gaining a Place of Power would mean either earning or stealing it from the man who could speak legends to life, tying yet another player’s legend into the story of the sword. Only after stopping a war, outwitting a Guild, and earning the trust (or the ire) of a powerful sorcerer could the party ever wield the sword. And even then, its incredible power only works against a single enemy, the one whose name is forged onto the blade.
If the players really wanted the power to destroy anything, they had to work for it, and understand it had limits. I encourage you to make getting your Apocalypse Sword just as challenging.
Okay, I’m going to group a number of these together because they are all built around the same basic concept. I had this idea for a magical item I called the Shrieking Arrow. The idea behind it was an infomercial.
“Do you often lose things? Do you find yourself wishing that your items would make a high-pitched noise until you could find them? Well then the Shrieking Arrow is for you! This delightful oddity squeals loudly from the moment it exits the quiver until it returns, allowing you to find the arrow anywhere it has flown!”
My wife (who is my co-GM for the campaign) had a thought – why not make more than one of these goofy magical artifacts and have them all over the place? They could all be invented by the same guy, a kooky but powerful wizard who invented all sorts of crazy magical tools.
I loved my wife’s idea and together we began to create more and more of these Tartaglia Relics. Not many have made their way into the campaign, simply because like the Apocalypse Sword quest, these goofy relics didn’t end up becoming a quest that the players were particularly motivated to pursue. Here are a few of the items that they did find, though.
In their first-ever boss battle, the party found a magical poster with a picture of a soldier on it. The player who discovered the poster only noticed one particular feature about it: the soldier winked at him. Disappointed by the apparent uselessness of this item, he threw down the poster and did not take it with him when the battle ended. Turns out that poster was called the Watchman Poster, and placing it up would allow the soldier to vigilantly serve as a look-out and call out loudly when danger approached. While it is possible to fool the poster by approaching the camp or building or whatever from a direction that the poster cannot see, it’s still a nifty item. And the soldier on it has a great personality.
Another useful yet unrealized item from this encounter was the Hammer of Memory. The Hammer works in the form of an exchange – whoever you bonk with it permanently gives you a memory, in exchange for a memory of your own. Using this could cause the characters to forget details about their adventures, skills they have, or even details of their own backstory, but in exchange they could get key information from enemies. Of course, my players weren’t particularly intrigued by this and ended up trading the hammer for a different Tartaglia relic.
The You Can’t See Me Gloves were conceived by my wife, and she was thrilled when the circumstances of the campaign landed them in her eager hands. They’re based around that popular childhood philosophy: if I can’t see you, you can’t see me. When you cover your face with the gloves, you become completely invisible to everyone around you. Of course, you can’t really see, and you can’t do anything because your hands are up in front of your face. But standing still and staying invisible can be quite useful. In fact, after a session where everyone but one person was able to disappear into a crowd – and that one person ended up kidnapped by Thieves Guild assassins – invisibility suddenly became a very popular ability amongst my players, with everyone trying to find a way to increase their stealth capabilities.
There were two other Tartaglia Novelties that the players had the opportunity to get (through bartering or thievery) but ultimately did not obtain. The first was the Edible Blade. This sword is composed of a substance that appears to be crystal but in reality is a sort of rock-candy. Except rather than candy, it’s actually a nutrient-rich substance packed full of all the good stuff that would be in a more traditional dungeon ration. The sword is quite strong – a damage bonus of +2, better than most masterwork weapons – and the blade is edible on top of being powerful. Of course, there is a downside: eating pieces of the blade makes it shorter and weaker, reducing the damage by one. The sword can be broken into rations five times; after the first four, the blade itself is gone and only the hilt remains. And of course the adventurer brave enough to wield this blade must be careful that monsters don’t take a bite out of it instead.
The other item they missed was the OCD Emblem. This object can be any clothing or accessory that could be straightened or evened-out. I chose a bow tie for my own campaign. Whoever wears the OCD Emblem will have the odd things in their life evened out. An attack deals five damage to you? The Emblem reduces it to 4. You only heal 7 HP? The Emblem puts it up to 8. You pay 3 gold for a pack of 5 rations? Actually, that’s 2 gold for a pack of 6. The Emblem always makes its adjustments in your favor, but there’s one rather frustrating catch – on a low roll, the GM can point out to the player using the Emblem one detail about the world that is uneven or askew in some way. The character will not be able to focus successfully on anything else until that detail is corrected. The rewards of the OCD Emblem can stack up quite nicely over time, but its influence tends to change the owner – any wielder must be careful of it.
Alright, so those are some of the weapons and equipment I have created for my campaign. If you like any of these ideas, feel free to use them for your own story. After all, what’s the point of custom content if others can’t enjoy it too? For more custom content, be sure to keep your eyes open for further editions of Homebrew Helper here on Adventure Rules!