Re-Post: 5 Unique Magical Axes

Everyone talks about magical swords. They suffuse nearly the entirety of fantasy literature, movies, and even D&D. SCREW. THAT.

Swords are stupid.

Axes. It’s all about the axes, man.

Actually, this isn’t just about axes. It’s also about utilitarian design. Too many magic items are just “deal extra damage” or “add to your attack rolls” or whatever. This is an attempt to create magic weapons that feel like weapons, but also offer abilities that aren’t necessarily “combat” abilities. True, some of these axes are more combat-focused than others, but the idea is to create interesting items that one might think to use outside of a literal “I hit it with my axe.”

The Axes

Bessie and Butch. Unique Weapons (requires attunement). Bessie and Butch are a pair of finely-crafted woodcutters’ axes. Their handles are carved with depictions of wild animals—Bessie depicts a roaring bear, while Butch a soaring eagle. Treat these weapons as battleaxes, though they are intended to be wielded together. These two axes count as one weapon for the purposes of attunement. When the heads of the axes are struck against each other as a bonus action, you call forth any of the following creatures from the wilds around you.

  • One Polar Bear (cannot be called in an urban environment).
  • Two Brown Bears (cannot be called in an urban environment).
  • Two Giant Eagles (cannot be called indoors or underground).
  • Four Black Bears (cannot be called in an urban environment).
  • Eight Blood Hawks (cannot be called indoors or underground).

The beasts arrive 1 round after you call them. They fight alongside you, recognizing and targeting your enemies, and following your commands. They disperse at the end of combat or when you no longer wield either of the axes (whether you sheath or drop them), whichever comes first, returning to whence they came. You can only call creatures with the axes once each day.

The Axe of Power. Very Rare Weapon (requires attunement). This axe is said to be forged by Zachariah: the greatest smith in dwarven history. Its haft is carved from a blackened piece of ashwood, and the head is forged of the purest adamantine. It can cleave through 1d4 feet of stone with a single swing as an action, making a clean cut an inch-and-a-half wide in the stone. In addition, as an action, you can swing the axe into the ground, causing a massive earthquake in the immediate area. The earthquake affects everything within 100 feet of you, violently shaking everything. The actual effects of the quake are left to the Dungeon Master, but it is severe enough to knock doors off their hinges and crack foundations. Though not enough to level a building, it could definitely bring down sections of a cave or dungeon. It cannot cause another earthquake again until 24 hours have passed and its head has been polished with fresh, nutrient-rich soil.

NOTES: This axe is based on the Power Axe from Power Rangers. That’s why the name is stupid. Other than that, I really like it. Using it to literally carve your way through a dungeon could be very cool, as well as what might happen when you decide to use it against a stone golem. DMs, if you’re reading this and decide to include this axe, please include stone golems. I don’t know what you want it to do to them, but make it awesome.

The Drunkard’s Dream. Uncommon Weapon (requires attunement). This axe smells of whiskey and beer, and the head and haft are heavily stained. It is quite flammable, but cannot be damaged by fire. If lit on fire, it deals 1d6 fire damage to anyone it hits, and 1d4 fire damage to its wielder at the start of each round. In addition, during a night of carousing, if you roll on a carousing table (such as the table provided in the Dungeon Master’s Guide), you may roll twice and choose either result. Both during the night of carousing and the day thereafter, you have advantage on all Charisma checks.

NOTES: The Drunkard’s Dream is based on an idea for an axe I’ve had for a while. The concept is an axe that benefits from you, well, being drunk. I decided to expand that to carousing because I simply adore the carousing rules presented in the DMG. I generally use the carousing event generator on donjon, because it gives a wider variety of events, but at its core it’s a system that allows for unknown benefits or penalties, effectively at random. My players have taken advantage of it, and I feel they might take even more advantage if they were given a consistent benefit, like this axe offers.

Axe of the Bloodless. Cursed Weapon (requires attunement). This axe’s blade is black, with a haft made of pure white oak. Runes glow a pale green along the edge of the blade, and it smells of rotting meat. As an action, an undead character that wields this weapon can target a number of mindless undead equal to his proficiency bonus (skeletons, zombies, or similar) within 30 feet and attempt to control them. They must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or become the wielder’s willing slaves until either they or the wielder dies. These undead cannot have a Challenge higher than half the wielder’s proficiency bonus, and he can only control a number of undead at any time equal to his level (or Challenge, if an NPC wields the axe). A living creature that touches this axe with bare flesh is cursed with a horrific rot. The creature cannot sell or get rid of the axe as long as they are cursed, and the axe automatically attunes itself to the creature, taking up one of its attunement slots (if the wielder has no free slots, it replaces one random attuned item). Their body slowly rots away, eventually changing their type to undead over the course of 1d4 weeks. The curse can be removed with a remove curse spell, or via any other way that the Dungeon Master decides.

NOTES: Cursed weapons are awesome. Hell, curses in general are awesome. I cursed a member of my group with lycanthropy recently, and he now has 30 days to find a cure, which has caused our game to spin off into something really amazing. Creating a cool, tempting weapon like this could really help to inspire not only adventure, but character development. In an evil campaign, a character might see a weapon like this and weigh his options. Will he sacrifice the benefits of being—well—alive for immortality and the ability to control an undead army?

The Sol Edge. Very Rare Weapon (requires attunement). This axe’s head is shaped like a golden sun, with small blades in the shape of stylized rays of light coming off of its edge. By calling out the name of the god Helios as an action, the axe sheds bright light out to 50 feet, and another 50 feet of dim light. This light can be dispersed as a bonus action. By instead calling out the name of the god Ra as an action, you may conjure a three-foot diameter ball of flame that will not burn those who touch it, but will keep warm up to 100 creatures who stand within 100 feet of the flame. Only one such ball of flame can be conjured, and it can be dispelled as a bonus action. Finally, by calling out the name Odur, the blades on the axe’s head come alive and begin to glow and dance. For 10 minutes, any undead creature of Challenge 1 or less is immediately destroyed, disappearing into a flash of light and falling into a pile of dust on the ground, if struck by this blade. Only one of these powers can be used at a time, and you must complete a short rest to use any of the powers again.

NOTES: I thought I should include a godly weapon here. Something truly legendary. I see this weapon being perfect for a game with a focus on rescuing NPCs. Guiding slaves out of Mordor (or whatever), keeping the dark and the cold at bay. The more you use it, the more the enemy recognizes where you are and what you’re doing, sending ever-stronger forces after you. How do your choices effect the people? How do they effect the world? I love stuff like this—drawing inspiration from one tiny thing and expanding it into something grander. Hopefully, you do too.

Conclusions

Again, this was a practice in designing weapons that don’t necessarily focus on combat. Weapons that allow for fun, interesting gameplay without relying on certain tired mechanics, such as an enhancement bonus or a simple 1d6 elemental damage bonus.

 

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