With the recent release of Dungeons & Dragons: Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount (check out our review here), we decided to highlight a magic item that utilizes the rule system: Vestiges of Divergence. These potent items were birthed from both the Divine and Betrayer Gods, and bestowed to their most faithful followers during a war known as the Calamity. Growing in power along side the wielder, these items grant exciting bonuses to a character, however, require more than a simple attunement.
As these items were gifted by the Gods long ago, some of these items have been passed down over the ages, but many have simply been lost. Beginning in a Dormant State, the item grants a number of bonuses to the wielder. Though, the character may or may not understand the items true power in the beginning. Along with the player, this magical item will grow in power to an Awakened State, and finally an Exalted State. One of the design decisions that I really love, is that these states are not determined by a fixed number of experience points, rather, they are left in the hands of the DM. Wildemount does a tremendous job of providing level guidelines, and suggesting character development moments in which these new states can be a reward. Did the character finally defeat a bitter rival? Or conquer a great phobia to save the group? These are just examples of character development that may cause these items to bestow more of their power. Now, some of these items are sentient and come with personality quirks that can be used by the DM as well. It’s always fun as a DM to have an ever present means of communicating with the players. While statistically powerful, I commend the creators for keeping character stories and role-play at the center of these designs. So, to see how these philosophies are applied, lets take a look at an example weapon from the Vestiges of Divergence.
Mace of the Black Crown
These magic items can be anything, but today we are going to cover the Mace of the Black Crown, because an evil, sentient, head-bashing mace is just always fun. Containing a greedy devil with a desire is to recruit souls for Asmodeus. This creature will push the wielder toward lawful evil acts through telepathic communication, as well as, haunting their dreams. Of course the character may not realize the mace’s true nature, and the DM can slowly reveal this over the course of early levels through dreams, until attuned enough for the Devil to speak directly to the wielder.
- Player can speak, read, and write Infernal.
- +1 bonus on attack and damage rolls.
- Ability to have the mace erupt in flames, causing bright light and dealing additional fire damage.
- Summon an Imp to fight along side you.
Perhaps the party does something brutal to overcome a foe. Players have a tendency to flirt with the line between good and evil (some straight make-out with the line, but that’s beside the point), upon taking an action like this, the DM can allow the weapon to reach its Awakened State. The devil reveals themselves as a friend to aid the character. Opening up more of it’s power and becoming a source of counsel. This can create an interesting interplay for the DM and player.
- Bonus attack and damage is increased to +2, and deals additional fire damage when set aflame.
- Instead of an Imp, you can now summon a Bearded Devil.
- Player gains resistance to poison while holding the weapon.
Items such as this will most likely be with a character over the course of an entire campaign, therefore, you will want to make the final Exalted State unlocked after some capstone moment or pivotal character arch. For a weapon that contains a Devil within, I think a fun climax concludes with either the player exerting complete control over the being, or the Devil somehow secures the characters soul for Asmodeus. The D&D adventure Descent into Avernus (which we reviewed here) has a fantastic section on making deals with Devils. So, will the character’s purity and resolve win out? Or does the legions of the Nine Hells gain another minion?
- Bonus attack and damage is increased to +3, and deals additional fire damage when set aflame.
- Instead of an Bearded Devil, you can now summon a Barbed Devil.
- Player gains resistance to fire while holding the weapon.
I can already think of a number of ways to use the Mace of the Black Crown in my games, but also, the whole Vestiges of Divergence system has a ton of value for DMs. My biggest tip is to keep the character’s story arch in mind, and weave these items into that story. Obviously, these are powerful items that will unlock over time, and would most likely take players into the late teens as far as levels go. While that gives your campaign a truly epic feel, I would like to see a few items for lower level campaigns. Perhaps something you can use to reward a level 3 character, and it stays with them through level 10? Or DMs can lower the power level of the items in the Wildemount book in order to fit their needs. That being said I hope the team at D&D expand upon this system, because I really enjoy it. I know I’m itching to design some surprises for my players!
I am eager to see how the community takes to these potent items. Do you think they will complicate your campaign? Are you excited to include them? Let us know what you think down in the comments!
Also, you can read more articles on Magic Items here!