A little while back, I posted a collection of magic spears (and a magic helmet), and a reader requested a similar collection for maces. Another reader requested that I cover magic bows, and that’s also on my to-do list. Some of these weapons I treat as specifically needing to be maces, while others could be any type of bludgeoning weapon – but let’s not kid ourselves, it’s all arbitrary. If you like one of these but think it would be cooler as a greatclub, then you’re probably wrong, greatclubs are terrible be my guest. Two of these are direct lifts from magic items that saw extensive use in the Dust to Dust campaign.
Images: Shadecall and the Fist of Tharamon, made by Colin McLaughlin
Any bludgeoning melee weapon, very rare (requires attunement)
Bloodless (most often a mace) is a weapon with a dual nature. In its benevolent form, its head or striking surface resembles a person’s face, smiling beatifically. While this weapon is in hand, any time you restore hit points to a creature, it gains 1d10 temporary hit points. If its current hit points are less than half its maximum hit points, it gains 10 temporary hit points instead. As a bonus action, add one successful death save to an unconscious creature within 60 feet.
Each time Bloodless is used to kill a creature that is not of a construct, elemental, or undead, roll a special death save for the weapon. When it accrues 3 failed death saves, it shifts to its malevolent form. Successful saves have no additional effect.
In its malevolent form, its face twists into a snarl, with exposed fangs. You gain a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls with this magic weapon. The weapon has 5 charges. When you hit with an attack using Bloodless, you can spend a charge to deal 2d6 additional necrotic damage. You regain hit points equal to half of the 2d6 result. Bloodless also loses 1 charge at dawn. During a short or long rest, a creature may restore 1 charge to Bloodless by expending 1 Hit Die without regaining any hit points.
Turning a malevolent Bloodless back to its benevolent state requires that a raise dead, resurrection, or true resurrection spell be cast on it at dawn.
Weapon (any bludgeoning), very rare (requires attunement)
This magic weapon adds a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with it. When you deal damage with it to a creature that is not an ooze or plant, the creature takes a -10 penalty to speed, other than fly speeds granted by spells, until the beginning of your next turn. This speed penalty does not stack, but it is doubled on a critical hit.
This weapon is made from a massive femur, with steel flanges set into the striking surface. Its strikes feel as if it is grinding bones to powder, and it is uncommonly good at hitting legs right around the kneecap.
Fist of Tharamon
Weapon (mace), rare (requires attunement)
This mace has a stout wooden haft and a metal striking head shaped like a clenched fist. When wielded, it moves with the speed and force of the soul rather than the arm, like the armaments of the angels.
This magic weapon and divine focus adds a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls you make with it. You can use your Wisdom modifier in place of your Strength modifier for attack and damage rolls with this weapon. Spells and attacks made with it deal an additional 1d6 damage to celestial, fiends, and undead.
Weapon (mace), rare (requires attunement)
This magical mace is made of cold iron. It has heavy, wicked flanges but no core in its striking head, only a small hook. Certain talismans are designed to attach to such a hook. The talisman’s movement within the cage of the flanges creates a heavy tolling, like the bells of doom, regardless of its material. While you are attuned to Ironheart, you are also attuned to any talisman affixed to it.
When you strike a charmed or frightened creature with this weapon, you can end that same condition on creatures that you choose who can see your target within 30 feet. You can choose to deal only your Strength modifier in damage, as if you had rolled a 0 on all damage dice. This power can be used up to three times, and recharges at dawn.
Weapon (mace), artifact (requires attunement)
When the Burning Prince came at last to make war against the one known as the Rotting Hand, he struck true again and again. Though the Rotting Hand was among the mightiest of the Enemy’s servants, he came to the very brink of destruction. At the last moment, the Amethyst Queen came to his aid; her minions swarmed over the Burning Prince, her magic threatened his life, and he was forced to withdraw. In gratitude, the Rotting Hand – the greatest smith the world has ever known – fashioned a scepter out of a massive, four-foot-long piece of amethyst. On the Sacrificial Forge, he bound a soul into the scepter – one of the Queen’s most loyal advisers, who had lost her favor in the vicissitudes of courtly life in Halsethil. In this way he made amends for his whole family, and Shadecall’s loyalty to the Amethyst Queen was beyond question.
In the years since, Shadecall has become the foremost symbol of her authority. One who bears Shadecall speaks with her voice and can work her will in the world, including teleportation back to Halsethil and placing her Mark upon souls. It has received other monikers as well, applied to it by those who fought against the Amethyst Queen and her forces: Swiftdeath or the Shadow’s Call. Among the smith-cultists who still serve the Rotting Hand, it is venerated as one of his greatest works, and called the Dark Herald for Creating Destruction in Mace Form.
The soul within Shadecall has grown steadily in power in the long ages since its crafting. In addition to teleportation – one of the Rotting Hand’s personal trademarks – and an ever-greater command of the shade legions, Shadecall can still the breath in an enemy’s lungs, strike with lethal force, and many other gifts besides.
Magic Weapon. Shadecall is a magic weapon that grants a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with it. It also acts as a sword of life stealing and a gem of seeing.
Random Properties. The scepter has the following randomly-determined properties:
- 2 minor beneficial properties (suggested additional options: immunity to magical sleep; while attuned to Shadecall, you can cast misty step once per hour)
- 1 major beneficial property (suggested: mass suggestion once per day)
- 2 minor detrimental properties (fouling of holy water is particularly appropriate)
- 1 major detrimental property (suggested: the soul in the weapon sometimes decides you are his political enemy at court, and interferes with you by trying to poison you. An average of twice a week, you have to roll a DC 20 Charisma (Persuasion) check or suffer 4d10 poison damage.)
Stilled Breath. When you hit with a melee attack using Shadecall, you can force the target to roll a DC 18 Constitution saving throw or begin suffocating. You can end this effect as a reaction. The creature can roll a new saving throw against this effect once per minute, ending the suffocation on a success.
Teleportation. As a reaction, Shadecall can teleport to Halsethil, or to the Amethyst Queen’s hand. Shadecall can choose to take you along, or not. This teleportation can cross planar boundaries.
The Queen’s Mark. When Shadecall is touching a willing, unconscious, or suffocating creature, you can impose one level of Soul-Marked on that creature.
Command the Shade Legion. When you are holding Shadecall and it is between dusk and dawn, you can use your action to conjure one wraith, or a number of shadows equal to your Charisma modifier. These creatures serve you with absolute loyalty until dawn or until they are destroyed. At any one time, you can command any combination of conjured wraiths and shadows equal to three uses of this action.
Destroying Shadecall. The only sure way to destroy Shadecall is to sunder it upon the Sacrificial Forge. Doing so would require a means of blocking its teleportation, which is difficult in the extreme. (It’s an artifact, a theoretical dimensional anchor spell probably won’t cut it.) It is also possible that the Amethyst Queen could simply command Shadecall to destroy itself, were she so inclined.
Talisman of Virtue
Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)
This talisman, a copper plate 3 inches wide and 5 inches wide, is inscribed with a sigil of Tura Keshik. It is a suitable divine focus. When you are wearing or holding the talisman and you roll initiative, you can spend a spell slot to cast bless, shield of faith, sanctuary, or warding bond without spending an action.
When you fail a saving throw to maintain concentration, you can choose to succeed instead. Once you have used this feature, it can’t be used again until the next dawn.
Some magical maces, staffs, scepters, shields, and armor are designed to receive and hold talismans. While you are attuned to a talisman affixed to such an item, you are also attuned to the item itself.
I haven’t spent a lot of time designing artifacts or sentient magic items in 5e, and Shadecall should really be both. The rules above under-emphasize the role of its bound soul as the guarantor of the Queen’s will. For those reading this who didn’t play Dust to Dust, it was one of the magic items that the players saw most often, but never actually wielded – starting from the first full event. Oh, and I guess I’ve also failed to list some of the other Brustian pieces, like its ability to absorb and protect the wielder’s soul when they die, making them easier to resurrect later on. If you’re looking for the full DtD or Dragaera experience, be prepared to bolt on additional features. You can’t unbalance it – it’s an artifact, already wildly too powerful! (Also, hilariously unsuited to PC use – it’s functionally a secondary bad guy that teams up with various other servants of the big bad.)
The item + talisman thing is my response to socketing gems into magic items. I’m fine with socketing gems into gear in video games, but it becomes difficult to support all of the different properties that multiple gems should add to weapons. Talismans are intended to fit into only a limited selection of items and never allow more than one talisman per item. A talisman affixed to an item probably results in an item one rarity grade higher than the rarity of the higher of the two items. Players and DMs alike love items with a clear promise of growth in the course of the story, and even better if it’s a side-quest that has something for more than just them.
Also, I just really like the image of metal, stone, or paper talismans dangling from or within gear. The visual aesthetic of the Empire in Warhammer Fantasy has never lost its hold on me.
I find the design of Bonegrinder to be the weakest of the bunch. I started with the name, which I still like, but had a hard time figuring out what that would mean in context that doesn’t have meaningful hit locations. I decided that if it’s okay to spam ray of frost, it’s probably okay to use the same slowing effect in a melee weapon. Maybe.
Also for those who didn’t play Dust to Dust (or those who didn’t pay attention to Oresund NPCs), the Fist of Tharamon was a Named Weapon that we wrote long before the start of the campaign. Tharamon was one of the Primarchs, the angels that the PC celestials directly reported to, which is what’s going on with the whole angel theme here. Its extra damage against celestials is, of course, about beating the crap out of the Fallen. I didn’t look up what powers we gave it in DtD, because I specifically wanted to do something with it that would be meaningless in a LARP – the Wisdom-instead-of-Strength thing.
With Bloodless… well, I always like multi-state magic items, and this one lets me slide in some wordplay. I dithered a whole lot about the mechanics of the two states. I also think there’s a good argument for different collections of creature types you’re allowed to kill – oozes and aberrations might be A-OK, depending on your story for who made the weapon and why it is this way. Bloodless has a pretty strong case for being sort of low-grade sentient.
Overall, maces aren’t terribly common in D&D outside of the hands of clerics, because they’re relegated to being simple weapons and just aren’t competitive with the various martial weapon options. My hope is both that these magic items give melee clerics something fun to want, and that they might offer sufficiently compelling features to get fighter-types to consider using them.