A well-loved and somewhat crudely hand-crafted tribal drum owned by the Tribal Half-Orc, Somnak. It is said that Somnak possessed the ability to call upon the spirit of any creature whose skin was pulled over the drum to aid him and his allies in battle, as well as curse his foes.
As with many Half-Orcs, Somnak's conception was not consensual. When Somnak was just a pup, he was stolen by his Orc father, from his human mother to be raised as a near-worthless half-breed in an Orcish tribe. From a very young age, Somnak defied the expectations of his clan, however, and proved to be equally capable in combat and skill as any orc. Much of his fervor and power was attributed to what Somnak called the 'Demon's Dance', whereupon the excitement and adrenaline of combat overwhelms him and puts him in a fervent, almost bestial state, stomping, snarling and chanting to work both him and his clan up.
The clan's elder Shaman explained this 'Demon's Dance' as a taint in his soul, caused by the divide between his human and orcish blood. This taint allowed him to be more sensitive to demons, and the spirits of orcish ancestors (Which every superstitious orc knows run rampant just about everywhere in the world.) which permeate the lands, and allow him to direct the spirits in such a way to invigorate and enhance himself.
This explanation was met with mixed feelings by the tribe; some of them didn't believe it to be true. Nevertheless, Somnak continued stomping and chanting before battle, bringing a fire into his orcish brethren.
One night during his teen years, Somnak went missing from his clan's camp. Where he went is not known, but it is said by some orcs that he was seen wandering into the haunted forest of Kor'Rakkel, whispering to himself about talking to his ancestors directly. He was gone for three days, but when he finally returned he carried with him a crude, skinless drum-base which he appeared to have carved, treated and painted himself with tribal swirlings and murals. The first act he did when he returned to camp was to take up one of the goats in their pens and take it to the stream, whereupon he thrust it's head underwater until it drowned.
Somnak skinned this goat, drying and treating the leather until it was taut enough to pull over his drum base. Using the remainder of the leather he made a long, shoulder sash and attached it to the drum; long enough that it hung by his left hip. The Orcish tribe did not know what to make of this possessed Orc, but once the drum was made and he played it before them, chanting and stomping like he was demon-possessed, a fire stirred within the tribe like nothing felt before.
Somnak joined the raiding parties passionately from then, his drum-beats simultaneously causing a fiery zeal to erupt within his allies, and a burning terror to sizzle within his foes, and for many years the tribe prospered, raiding towns and caravans and rival orc tribes, until one year his tribe was laid to waste and he was set to wander the world alone - but that is a tale for another time.
The Spiritskin Drum
The Spiritskin drum is a drum which has achieved a magic-like ability due to the proximity of Somnak and his 'closeness with spirits'. It is able to channel the 'spirit' of the animal whose skin is slung over it to augment those around. It is a useful tool for aiding allies and confounding foes, as it creates two separate effects; a Boon and a Curse. The Boon is how the drummers allies are effected by listening to the drum, and the Curse is what the drummers foes are afflicted with when hearing the peal of this instrument.
The most interesting feature of the Spiritskin drum is the variations that may be achieved by using different skins. Truly, the options are limited only by the GM or the players imagination (with the GM's approval), but several examples lie below. Feel free to add your own augmentation as an idea scroll!
The drum must be actively beaten to give the boons and curses, effectively taking up your turn in combat, however the longer you beat the drum, the longer the residual effect lasts after you cease playing. (Murometz decided for his game that the effect lasts for 1 round after playing every 2 levels, plus 1d4, but it cannot last for more rounds than it was played for.(I think that was what we agreed on!))
Changing skins takes several hours and can only be done during a significant rest or at the start of a day. Skins can be kept in your pack for changing.
New skins can be collected by skinning the corpse of things you slay. In this manner, the rarest and most exotic skins are sufficiently difficult to obtain (the power of the skin is balanced out by the fact that you have to kill that powerful creature first. A suitable reward!)
(The following section contains stats: adapt them to your game as necessary. Additionally, once your character reaches 5th level, these numbers go up the next step (+1 becomes +2. 1d4 becomes 1d6 etc...))
Base Skin (Goatskin)
Boon: +1 to allies Rolls
Curse: -1 to enemy Rolls
Tertiary: When the drum is first found, it will usually have this skin.
Boon: +1 to allies Rolls
Curse: Paralyze all enemies within range (Saving roll negates each round)
Boon: +1 to allies Rolls (+3 if played on Full moon!)
Curse: -1 to enemy Rolls (-3 if played on Full moon!)
Tertiary: While playing, the drummer will take on features of a werewolf; fur growth, canine teeth growth, claws etc. This will recede slowly over the same amount of turns that the drummer played for. If the drummer plays for more than 4 rounds in a row, they will turn into a Lycanthrope for the rest of the night.
Boon: 1hp healed to all party members per round
Curse: -1 to enemy Rolls
Boon: Players become incorporeal; +3 to AC
Curse: 1d4 sonic damage per round to enemies.
Tertiary: Skinning a ghostly creature is no easy thing. One must use magical knives, and thread the skin onto the drum with Ghost hair thread.
Boon: Life Steal (Heal 1/2 damage dealt)
Curse: -1 to Rolls
Boon: Double damage vs Demons, but -2 to rolls for low morale
Curse: -3 to Rolls
Make your own!
*Damaging attacks (Such as the Banshee Skin Curse) does not have any residual effects. The damage stops when the drums stop.
Notes on balance
The boons and curses on these items may appear powerful. Keep in mind however, that while the drummer plays, he cannot perform any other action, thus it must be worthwhile for him to play it. The longer a fight draws on, the more beneficial it is for these drums, as the residual effects mean that the drummer can then benefit from the bonuses.
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? Responses (7)
Very well done, like it and it triggers some further uses for the spiritdrum. In any case a focus any shaman should have.
I regret that it is designed only for combat and war. But I fear this is because it is designed to be used with DnD foremost.
Still thanks for the idea, something I will work on sometimes later.
I love that you came up with this during a session of RP and just wrote it down, I really envy you that ability. Really cool.
Love it! A macabre new tool for shamans and uncivilized bards. Its fun to think up creatures, and figure out what effects their skins would have!!
I like the goat drowning, that stood out in the tale.
Would also be interested in hearing The Bull's ideas on how it can be used in other, non-combative ways.
Will add ideas to this as I further ponder, if i may!
I look forward to adding some skins to this.
I've been playing a half-orc shaman for many years and I love this idea. I'd echo what The Bull said, the primary uses that came to mind for me for the drum was more ceremonial uses - having the drum enhance ritual magic, for example. Maybe preparing the tribe for battle vs. playing it during battle.
A great iconic magic item - nicely done!
Non-combat falls right out of the description - he says +1 to rolls, which would include those required for non-combat tasks.
There may be creatures whose skins are well suited for non-combat tasks.
Nice item, original and fun. It also lend some depth to the character you are playing, which is nice.
The tale was well written. I liked the description about his upbringing among the orcs, the drowning of the goat and the general feel of the story.
I think the demise of his clan was a bit abrupt. :)