View Full Version : D&D 3.x Other Ancestral Blessing (Custom "item")

2017-07-20, 10:45 PM
I'm running a home-brew campaign set (amongst other places) in a kind of Polynesian islands analogue. Last session saw a partial-party wipe-out, and ultimately three of the four players decided to role up new characters which they are all super excited about.

All three new characters are at 7th level, and I suggested they use the DMG wealth guide to outfit their characters with level-appropriate items. Now, one of the players is really starting to get into the roll-playing groove, and said he preferred to introduce his character with a bare minimum of gear in order to better match his backstory as the teenage son of a small-time tribal chief. Instead, he asked me to pick out some items, and put them in the path of his character pretty early on in the story.

So, story-wise, I'm planning on having the party do a shortish dungeon-crawl through the abandoned temple of an extinct tribe of islanders. Within this temple, they'll come upon a pit where the bones of sacrificial victims were thrown. If they manage to correctly interpret some carvings and other clues, the party will discover that many of the victims were part of this Sorcerer's tribe for a century or so back. Once the party defeats the temple guardians, they will be able to release the souls of the victims from their torment in the temple, and the souls will then bestow a blessing on their descendant. Here's the text I have for that blessing so far:

This blessing has come as the result of a one-time supernatural phenomenon wherein a character has received a massive influx of Mana derived from the remains of his ancestors. The blessing grants the affected character a +4 inherent bonus to Charisma and a +2 bonus to Strength.

Furthermore, the affected character gains a +12 bonus to Knowledge (history) but only on checks pertaining the history of his tribe. Physically, the affected character appears no different, except when he is casting or has recently cast a powerful spell. Upon beginning to cast a spell of 3rd level or higher, a luminous green Moko, or face tattoo, burns itself into the caster’s face causing 1d4 damage.

The tattoo will continue to glow brightly for 2 rounds per spell level after the spell has been successfully cast or cancelled. During this time, the tattoo glows brightly as a candle, and grants the character +4 to intimidate and -6 to hide checks. After this initial period of time, the tattoo fades, unless the character casts another spell (of any level) or succeeds on a DC 14 concentration check to keep the tattoo glowing for 6 more rounds. The affected character may continue extending the tattoo’s effects in this manner, though the DC increases by 2 on each subsequent attempt.

So, my question is, is this a game-breaking ability for a 7th level character to have? The charisma bonus is obviously hugely significant for a sorcerer, but the strength bonus isn't going to have nearly the gameplay effect that it would have on a martial character. And the "curse" aspect, while hardly debilitating, will certainly be a hassle in some situations. I should also add, that I tend to space out treasure dumps a little more than most DMs, so this might well represent the only magic "item" that the character has for a couple levels.

2017-07-21, 12:42 AM
The WBL for level 7 is 19k, a +4 Cha item would be 16k, so it's well within reason. The strength bonus is irrelevant for a sorc, the Knowledge is mainly fluff, the bonus to intimidate is situational (and worth just 1.6k anyway) and the damage is obviously a negative. The whole tattoo effect seems like a net negative tbh. And since you're not going to be giving more items any time soon, he's still going to be a bit short of the WBL. Depending on the power level of the other items in the party, maybe give him some minor item along with the blessing, maybe something that only he can use (or he can use better) thanks to the blessing? Maybe an item that is more powerful if the tattoo is active, e.g. a 1st level eternal wand (840gp) that gains more CL.

2017-07-21, 10:57 AM
All right, that's about what I was thinking. I just wanted to make sure I hadn't gone too far with either the bonuses or drawbacks. The main difference between the blessing and a Cloak of Charisma is that the blessing can't be stolen or dispelled in any way, so it's a lot more secure.

I might drop the damage down to 1d3, especially since the guy only has 17 Hp to begin with.

2017-07-21, 12:32 PM
I might suggest 1d4 nonlethal damage, as pain is often represented by nonlethal damage and I doubt your intent is for the character to kill themselves through casting. Though do note, as the character progresses any damage at all is going to quickly handicap a caster unless they get some manner of fast healing, as most spells cast will start to be 3+.

+4 Inherent is technically worth far more than +4 Enhancement (by a factor of nearly 10), as it can also be combined with a cloak of charisma when found. Making it enhancement and perhaps allowing him to later improve the bonuses through a straight 1:1 gold conversion in the form of sacrifices to his people's memory (rare incense, prized livestock, what-have-you) would mean it'd be less cumbersome. Allowing a concentration check to start the glow without casting a spell might not be out of place either, as its essentially a worse version of a level 0 spell.

2017-07-23, 05:09 AM
For a magic item that is effectively part of him, I feel like the bonuses should all scale as he personally grows in strength (and so that he doesn't feel the tattoo is made redundant by the average cloak of charisma +6 etc.).

Charisma bonus: +1 inherent per 4 levels (max +5 at level 20), or +2 enhancement per 3 levels (max +6 at level 18).
Strength bonus: As above (or one-half that, but I don't see why they should have different bonuses).
Bonus on Knowledge (history)/Intimidate checks = character level (or one-half character level); alternatively these skills are always class skills.
Subdual damage: 1 per spell level, but wears off after 1 hour (like temporary hp)... but I really don't see why it should have a drawback like this at all. Maybe random, plot-driven nightmares that also reveal information from the gods as if by scrying, legend lore, or commune?
Other potential benefits: detect magic at will (sensitive to excess Mana now), guidance at will (guided by tribal ancestral spirits), speak with dead (tribal ancestors only), etc.

The whole "Intimidate bonus only while tattoo is glowing, which only happens after spellcasting, and only lasts for a short while" seems too complex (especially the scaling Concentration checks part). I'd make it at-will or with a flat DC 20 Concentration check to activate it for one minute.