As a GM, sometimes you want to gift your players fun items that… maybe a bit too powerful. You have to be careful in doing so, but, if you limit the items uses, these can add fun and engaging moments to your game. In my preparations for PaizoCon Online (check out our article here on the event!), I came across the Sky Hammer in the Pathfinder 2e rule-book. I was creating a Paladin and needed something to assist with all of the holy smiting. That’s when I read the entry for the Sky Hammer, and a bit of drool began to descend from my lip.
The Sky Hammer acts as a +3 striking flame shock war-hammer. Meaning, in addition to the +3 damage, the hammer also includes runes that deal additional flame/shock damage. Now, Pathfinder 2e does a fantastic job of fleshing out their crafting system. It can be a little intimidating to new players, but since it’s a system that isn’t required right off the bat, I feel players can interact with this more complicated system as they see fit. Meaning, if a GM feels this item maybe too powerful, then he/she can remove one of the runes or lower the +3 to a +1 or +2. In addition, you can have your players discover new runes to upgrade items, such as the Sky Hammer. So, keep in mind that you don’t have to reward your players with the final version just yet. This crafting system allows the GM to provide additional rewards to upgrade the parties existing magical items. All while granting the GM enough tuning knobs to balance their game the best they can. As long as you keep the primary feature of the weapon: Fireball.
The exciting feature of the Sky Hammer is the ability to unleash a devastating fireball! Upon a critical strike, the player can use their reaction to cast fireball from the hammer. The spell DC is 45, but don’t worry, the wielder is immune to the fireball effect. Though, their allies are not. So, you must be mindful of your friends… or not. Just remind them of that new character idea they had! This effect is powerful, but is limited to only critical hits. As a GM, you know the player will score a number of criticals on the villain you spent hours planning. Turning him/her to the bad guy equivalent of burnt toast, however, from a player perspective… that’s fun as hell! This effect for the Sky Hammer is extremely powerful and will create exciting scenes at the table. It will be limited due to its rare triggering effect, but don’t attempt to negate these effects if the players catch a lucky break. Side note: Do warn them not to kill their friends.
Though, this magic item comes from the folks over at Pathfinder, the core mechanics can easily be converted to D&D 5e or other systems. Fireball is a classic spell that can be found in almost all editions of the game. The only thing you may need to tweak is the triggering effect. If critical chances are more rare in your system, then change it to something like: When the player rolls max damage, then the player can cast the Fireball. It’s also important to allow the player to choose to unleash the Fireball effect. As we’ve stated, this can kill many a friend, so allow the player agency in how occurs. That being said, the Fireball aspect will still be rare, so provide the War-Hammer with other, lesser, effects. This could simply be minor fire damage, or the +1/2/3 that we mentioned earlier. This way the Sky Hammer will see plenty of use at your table.
So, would you allow your Paladin to smite with the holy wrath of a fireball? Let us know down below in the comments! While your here, check out more magic item articles!