Wristbands of the Howling
The wristbands look ordinary. Sure, they may be a couple centuries old, but they weren't iron. They were another, magical metal, and they were strong enough to stop even the biggest sword, if you're fast enough. But they also draw the attention of another, who will hound you to your grave.
The wristbands are a deep, golden colour, but they are no normal metal. They are, themselves, made of a metal of higher magic, and they have in turn been further enchanted, and later cursed.
The wristbands originally belonged to Lusef Gand, a hero of local reknown out on the frontiers. He was a member of the local guard, and had the wristbands made in order to help protect his people from the raider savages who occassionally made their way down from the tundras in order to steal what honest men worked so hard for.
The wristbands are made from an ore that was once mined in the vicinity of the town, and Lusef had managed to get his hands on some of it on the cheap. His childhood friends, now a local blacksmith, and a mage in training, helped him forge, and enchant the item to better block the blows of the hefty blades the savages brought with them. And this task they accomplished wonderfully the next two times the savages came down from the tundras.
Lusef stood at the fore, clad in minimal armour, apart from the wristbands, and wielding only light weapons, so as to maintain maximum mobility. It had been found that as long as one could avoid the weapons, he would have less chance of being slain than he would if he relied on armour.
Lusef, at numerous moments, found himself in a situation where he could do naught but block, and found that even the heavy blades of the savages were easily stopped by the wristbands, which pulled through without a scratch. The savages beat hasty withdrawals when they realised they could not hope to win.
And so all was well... until things changed.
The third time that the savages came, they were different. Lusef and the guard strode out to defeat them on the battlefield as they had done previously, only to bear witness to a frightening transformation. The savage tundramen transformed violently into lycanthropes before their very eyes. Possibly it was the work of the shaman who this time, for the first time, had come with the savages, or possibly it was something altogether different, but suddenly the guard found themselves fighting an unexpected enemy.
Nevertheless, although they sustained heavy damage, the guard prevailed, and Lusef himself throttled the Lycanthrope Shaman with his bare hands.
The shaman, an old man, could barely see two feet in front of him, but what he could see were the wristbands.
He cursed at the owner of those wristbands, and cursed that owner to be hounded by the Spirit of the Lycanthrope. He cursed in his native tongue, so Lusef didn't understand what was occurring, and it all rather took him by surprise.
Lusef, lucky enough to receive no bites that could render him a lycanthrope, found himself with the sad responsibility of dealing with those that did. Most of them went quietly, but a few had to be 'forcibly cured'. A grim task, but one that had to be done.
It was therefore, Lusef thought, the spirits of his fellows hounding him at night. He heard the howls of a lycanthrope at first, in the distance. And when he awoke that first night, he found scratches in the wood of his door. He atoned at the local temple that very day, asking for forgiveness from his fellows, and he left reasonably sure he'd received it.
But it got progressively worse. The howling came closer, and Lusef occassionally heard snuffling outside his door. He shuttered the windows, and braced the door, and it dealt violence against both, scratching deep into the wood. He found blood in the scratches, and running down the wooden pailings of his home. Asking around, he soon discovered that he was the only one hearing this. And so his mind started trying to work out how this could be.
He soon tired of it, and one night, as the shutters were being violated again, he flung the door open, and leapt out. As he did so, all activity stopped. Lusef, believing that he did indeed have a ghost situation, called in a local man of the cloth to evict his unwanted guest.
The rites were completed, and ghosts cast out. And Lusef slept soundly that night. When he failed to appear at his job the next morning, the guards had to break down the door. All they found were bloody sheets, on a bloody bed. The wristbands sat nearby, waiting to be worn by their owner...
In order not to have such a chance of assassinating a PC, I recommend that you make an NPC the subject of the wristbands. Or, if you do wish to make it the PC, the NPC should seem overly excited when trying to offload it onto the characters. You could really creep them out if they're staying in a mansion, or an otherwise large establishment, and the clawmarks, with blood, are found on the bedroom door, and no trace of how it could have got that far.
The NPC might be an associate of the group, and come to them for help in protecting him from the lycanthrope which seems to be hunting him. Have them investigate it, once they come to realise it's not a physical creature. Perhaps they'll try to throw it away, only to have the curse continue. Perhaps they'll see the lycanthrope manifest, and awaken the NPC, only to have it immediately disappear. Imagine them trying to keep the NPC awake for days while trying to find the item they carelessly threw away.
The wristbands will stop any blow that could normally have a chance at being stopped by such a thing. This obviously does not include being hit by a club the size of a small tower, or other such things, but does apply to standard sized weapons. The blows of these weapons may be stopped as long as the wearer manages to place them in front of the blow, and they will never fail, nor allow the blow to pass through.
The curse, however, applies to the owner, and will apply through laws regarding obfiscation, inheritance, and finders-keepers. Whoever is regarded as the owner of them is subject to the curse. The curse can be removed by selling or otherwise trading or giving away the wristbands, thus passing it on to a new ownder. The curse calls forth a spiritual lycanthrope, who will grow increasing aggressive. It will start with distant howling, and come closer. Soon the door to the owner's sleeping quarters, be that the door to a house, or the door to a room, will find claw marks in them. The lycanthrope will be heard, but never seen, snuffling around outside, tearing at the walls and other such things, so as to inspire terror. Finally, it will manifest as the owner sleeps, in an ethereal form, and gorge itself on the owner, leaving nothing but blood behind. It will dissipate and return to the wristbands, awaiting delivery to a new owner. The manifestation is utterly silent while doing this, and will slay the owner with a savage, and powerful, bite to the neck and throat. It may not be attacked, and it will dissipate instantly if the owner is awakened. It will continue to attempt to eat the owner whenever the owner falls asleep.
Destroying the gauntlets will remove the problem once and for all, but it would take considerable power to do that now, given their strength.
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? Responses (11)
The ability is interesting, though slightly powerful for my tastes, and it resembles some other things I've seen (Minon's Spear comes to mind; similar 'stop-all-force' ability).
Overall, it is a solid 4.
Actually, if the PCs found out about the curse, they could 'trade' the armbands between themselves every day, thus preventing the curse from coming to fruition, as they 'reset' the countdown.
Hmm, you have a point, there, Echo. There's gotta be a way to screw with them if they try that, though.
Just make it so that the countdown is NOT reset ;)
Perhaps the spirit Lycanthrope could become a silent stalker instead of giving a warning if you re-claim the bracelets later.
Or there could be two (3,4,...) of the lycanthropes, who approach faster, with every subsequent re-claiming of the bracers.
Ah, yes, of course, not resetting the countdown would nicely. As would multiplying the number of Lycanthrope spirits, and speeding the effect.
Great backstory - logical reasons for creating the item - very good
Largely I agree with CP - perhaps a little too powerful, but the lycanthropic curse does balance it somewhat
Definitely a good solid 4/5
I like the backstory - very well thought out. I do have a couple of questions though:
1) Does the victim wearing the item wake when he is being attacked to see 'death taking him' or does he go to sleep and then 'die'?
2) When the beast kills its victim, what does someone watching the sleeping person see?
I like this one quite a bit. I see a few of the problems but if the bracelet "knows" who its true owner is then the fake trading between PCs shouldn't fool it.
I think it is a fun curse. Wonder if the cursed gets bitten by the lycan and survives somehow, if it becomes one too?
I might just use this in my own game. The PCs could be hired to investigate a string of bizarre murders that began with a seemingly unbalanced traveler.
Good idea, MysticMoon. I think I may use it, and your plot hook, in my campaign, as well.
Great backstory, cool idea, and of course it is easy to scale back a power. Mystics plot is a good one too.