D&D 5e: Five Magic Bows (and a Magic Arrow) 6


As part of my intermittent series of magic items, this time I’m presenting five new magic bows, ranging (heh) from rare to artifact. Aethershred comes from the Dust to Dust campaign, while the stormbowbone bow, and Baron Ystorin’s spine bow all come from the Wildlands South campaign. Whisper is a sort of convoluted cross-campaign reference – the person who played Whisper in DtD also played a Storm Archer in WLS. Anyway, on with the show.

Five Magic Spears (and a Magic Helmet) | Five Magic Maces (and a Talisman) | Five Magic Bows (and a Magic Arrow)

 

Aethershred

Weapon (longbow), artifact (requires attunement)

This dreaded bow has erased its own history, concealing whatever malicious hands created it. It is, nonetheless, famed for the control that it exerts over its wielder, and its willingness to annihilate any bearer it finds unsuitable. It was recovered by one of the companions of the Paladin Queen, during the campaigns against the Nimori, but even Vyrakotha’s virtuous influence was not sufficient to protect Nuoli dai Oroya. When at last Aethershred subsumed her will entirely, she wreaked terrible slaughter and persisted through every dire incantation that was cast against her, until at last her body had been reduced to ashes for the third time.

The soul within Aethershred has not deigned to reveal its name to any save its wielders, and none have survived wielding it to share that name with scholars. The bow’s purpose is greatly famed and feared, however, among those who understand the nature of the Spirit Court. Until the coming of the Houses of the Nether, only Aethershred could slay one of the genius loci known as Falar. Yet that Falar, being dead and not devoured by Nether, could be known and replaced by the Auvet, so the land did not fall into Forgetting and wasteland. Only in later years was it seen as a prefiguring of Nether, and sought by Nether’s agents.

The soul within Aethershred has not the least care for the preservation of its wielder in the longer term. It seeks to cause as much destruction as possible, and spends its power only to compel the wielder and preserve their fighting ability. The guiding theory of its nature is that it was ill-made upon the Sacrificial Forge. Perhaps a soul that had long dwelt within the Forge entered it, instead of the one its maker meant to commit to it, and turned the bow’s purpose toward revenge against the Forge’s creators.

Magic Weapon. Aethershred is a magic weapon that grants a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with it.
Random Properties. The bow has the following randomly-determined properties.

  • 2 minor beneficial properties
  • 1 major beneficial property (suggested additional options: when a creature attempts to disarm you of Aethershred, they roll a DC 20 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, they suffer 10d10 poison damage, or half on a success.)
  • 2 minor detrimental properties
  • 1 major detrimental property (suggested: when meeting any person for the first time, roll a DC 20 Charisma (Persuasion) check. On a failure, you immediately attack that creature with Aethershred, and continue until one or the other of you is dead, or you are more than 1 mile apart)

Sentient. While all eleven of the Lenga’Hiduis are sentient, not all of their personalities are as forceful or interested in controlling their wielders as Aethershred is.

  • It has an Intelligence of 12, a Wisdom of 12, and a Charisma of 18.
  • It communicates telepathically with its bearer or wielder.
  • It has hearing and true seeing out to 120 feet, and can choose to share its true seeing with its wielder.
  • Its alignment is chaotic evil.
  • It craves the destruction and goads its user to fight arbitrarily.
  • It demands that its wielder attack anyone it finds repugnant, which is almost every living thing. It will attempt to take control of its wielder to carry this out if necessary.
  • Even when a wielder succeeds or fails a Charisma saving throw against it, Aethershred can attempt to charm and control them again in 1 minute. Its control ignores immunity to the charmed condition.

Arcane Projectiles. When you expend an arrow to attack with Aethershred, it deals an additional 1d8 force damage on a hit. You can make a ranged attack with Aethershred without expending ammunition, in which case it deals 1d8 + your Charisma modifier force damage on a hit.
To the Slaughter. Aethershred has 11 charges. When you hit with a ranged weapon attack using Aethershred, you can deal 1d10 additional poison damage for every charge expended. Alternately, when you hit with a ranged weapon attack using Aethershred, you can spend 5 charges to deal your normal weapon damage and also cast disintegrate on the target, ignoring the spell’s range. Aethershred regains its full complement of charges at midnight, and regains 1 charge whenever a target that you damaged in your current or most recent turn is reduced to 0 hit points.
Preserve the Archer. If Aethershred controls its wielder, it can restore 5d8 hit points to its wielder at the start of its wielder’s turn, resolved before the wielder rolls a death saving throw. If its wielder would be killed, it instead suffers a failed death saving throw that persists until it finishes a long rest, and regains hit points equal to half its normal maximum hit points. When the wielder has 3 failed death saves, they are dead and cannot be resurrected by any spell short of true resurrection.
Destroying Aethershred. The only sure way to destroy Aethershred is to sunder it upon the Sacrificial Forge. This requires a way to transport it to the Sacrificial Forge against the will of its bearer. The soul within Aethershred can manifest and wield Aethershred while in the presence of the Sacrificial Forge, and it attempts to kill those who would destroy it.

 

Bone Bow

Weapon (any bow), rare (requires attunement)

This magical bow grants a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls you make with it. When you cast a necromancy spell, it grants a +1 bonus to spell attack rolls, and your spell save DC increases by 1. (Placeholder: include handling for Arcane Archer fighters once XGTE comes out.)

You can cast the chill touch cantrip while you are attuned to this weapon, using Dexterity as your spellcasting ability. If you have the Extra Attack feature, you can make one ranged weapon attack with your bone bow when you cast chill touch.

When you deal damage with this weapon with an attack or spell, you regain hit points equal to half the damage you deal. You can use this feature once, and regain use of it at midnight.

Lore: Bone bows are the signature weapons of the Bone Archers, a fearsome order of archers who wield the forces of necromancy. They are locked in a deadly rivalry with the Storm Archers, and their conflict frequently spills over to affect others all across the Wildlands. At least one much greater version of this bow is known to exist: Baron Ystorin’s spine bow.

 

Baron Ystorin’s Spine Bow

Weapon (any bow), very rare (requires attunement)

This magical bow grants a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls you make with it. When you cast a necromancy spell, it grants a +2 bonus to spell attack rolls, and your spell save DC increases by 2. (Placeholder: include handling for Arcane Archer fighters once XGTE comes out.)

You can cast the chill touch cantrip while you are attuned to this weapon, using Dexterity as your spellcasting ability. If you have the Extra Attack feature, you can make one ranged weapon attack with your bone bow when you cast chill touch.

When you deal damage with this weapon with an attack or spell, you gain temporary hit points equal to half the damage you deal. These temporary hit points last up to 1 minute. You can use this feature three times, and regain use of it at midnight. While you have temporary hit points remaining from this feature, your ranged attacks with Baron Ystorin’s spine bow deal an additional 1d8 necrotic damage.

Lore: Baron Ystorin’s spine bow is a bone bow that has been greatly enhanced by the unimaginable power of the Web Queen, given to him for his centuries of dedicated service. With it, he commands the archers of Callamagne and gives the Bone Archers an unassailable position from which to fight their Storm Archer foes.

 

Stormbow

Weapon (any bow), rare (requires attunement)

This magical bow grants a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls you make with it. When you cast a ranger spell, it grants a +1 bonus to spell attack rolls, and your spell save DC increases by 1. (Placeholder: include handling for Arcane Archer fighters once XGTE comes out.)

A stormbow has 4 charges. When you hit with a ranged attack using it, you can expend 1 charge to deal an additional 1d8 lightning damage. When you cast a ranger spell, you can expend 2 charges per spell slot level to double the damage your spell inflicts. (Again, assume some handling for Arcane Archer fighters.)

Lore: Stormbows are the signature weapons of the Storm Archers, an elite order of archers who bind lightning to their arrows for devastating effect. They play a deadly game of cat-and-also-cat with the necromantic Bone Archers, all across the Wildlands.

 

Whisper

Weapon (any bow), very rare (requires attunement)

This magical bow grants a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls you make with it.

While you wield Whisper, you gain darkvision to a range of 60 feet. If you already have darkvision to 60 feet or greater, add 30 feet to the range of your darkvision instead. You can communicate telepathically with any willing creature you can see within 30 feet.

While you are hidden or invisible, your attacks with this weapon deal psychic damage instead of any other kind of damage they would deal. As a bonus action, you can roll a DC 15 Concentration check. If you succeed, attacks you make this round do not end your invisibility or reveal your position, if they otherwise would. If you fail, you can choose not to make attacks.

 

Sunmote

Ammunition (arrow), rare (requires attunement)

This magical arrow deals an additional 2d6 radiant damage when it hits. The target rolls a DC 14 Constitution saving throw; on a failure, they are blinded until the beginning of your next turn. This arrow disappears when used and reappears in your quiver, or otherwise in your possession if you have no quiver, the next morning at dawn.

Lore: The rare and precious arrows known as sunmotes are made by the Keepers of the Sun, for the exclusive use of archers who have pledged themselves to the protection of the planar city of Amraoth. The Keepers of the Sun would sooner see these arrows destroyed than wielded by anyone they deem unworthy.

 

Design Notes

Much as with Shadecall, Aethershred is really really not intended for PCs to use profitably. It is here to ruin everyone’s day, and its destruction is intended to be a puzzle in itself. In the Dust to Dust campaign, the PCs destroyed it both to stop the Houses of the Nether from getting it, and to turn it into something useful. One of the cosmic rules of DtD is that there can only be eleven Lenga’Hiduis (Living Weapons) at one time, and you need a piece of a previous one to make a new one, so the PCs made common cause with an enemy in order to destroy Aethershred and create the glaive Crusader.

In Wildlands South, Storm Archery and Bone Archery were prestige-class-like character options, and I’m not really doing them justice with these three items. Also, the prop for Baron Ystorin’s spine bow was exactly as disturbing as the name suggests; that and Aethershred are the two coolest bow props I’ve ever seen.

Whisper is, of course, here to murder people with sniper tactics. Its difficult Concentration check is the only thing that makes it remotely fair; otherwise it’s about bridging the gap between invisibility and greater invisibility. It is likely overpowered; I’d have to see it in use for awhile to be sure.

The point of the sunmote is that I like it when sort-of-consumable items are possibly worth a precious attunement slot. This is an item that could exist in Dust to Dust, but wasn’t specifically attested in the campaign.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this new collection of magic items. If there’s another type of items you’d like to see, I don’t promise that I’ll write it, but you can’t hurt your chances by telling me in the comments.


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6 thoughts on “D&D 5e: Five Magic Bows (and a Magic Arrow)

    • Brandes Stoddard Post author

      I tried to dig up a picture of Baron Ystorin’s spine bow, but haven’t had any luck yet.

      You’re absolutely welcome to use the sunmote!

  • Max

    I love me some majik weppins. Out of curiosity, which animal did the spine in the Baron’s spine bow come from? I was just thinking about how different spines of creatures (minotaur, basilisk, mind flayer) could play into spine bow mechanics.
    Minotaur – add Str bonus to damage 3/day
    Basilisk – when you hit target, they’re restrained (1/day)
    Mind Flayer – when you hit target, cast suggestion (1/day)
    Etc, etc.

    I do like the idea of a returning magic arrow.

    • Brandes Stoddard Post author

      If Wildlands South ever established what Baron Ystorin’s spine bow came from, I didn’t know about it. That said, a whole series of spine bows with different effects based on creature type is gross and wonderful, and you should run with that!