20. Armory: Daedric Artifacts

Some of the most powerful magic items in the Elder Scrolls universe.

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Armory

Daedric artifacts are a staple of Elder Scrolls games. They are powerful magical items with unique effects and varying degrees of sentience. Many of them can be easily converted into D&D; I did my best to do so following the guidelines I set for myself at the inception of this blog. For example, if there is an existing magical item whose effects fit a Daedric Artifact, I chose to use it (Mehrunes Razor – Nine Lives Stealer). Furthermore, I did not take effects from the video game and force-fit them into D&D, instead opting to create something flavorful and easily understandable. Lastly, simplicity and elegance of design are usually among my priorities. With the exception of Umbra, I don’t think I have any overly complex Artifacts.


Variant: Random Properties.

Artifacts in the Dungeon Master’s Guide come with a set of randomly generated properties. To follow this template, each item presented here can have additional properties:

  • 1-2 Minor beneficial properties
  • 1-2 Minor detrimental properties
  • 1 Major beneficial property
  • 1 Major detrimental property

Variant: Sentience.

Many Daedric Artifacts have a will of their own. Such items can choose when they are discovered and by whom. If you want an item to have a major impact on your campaign, give it sentience. Keep in mind that Daedric Artifacts are notoriously fickle and will disappear if they decide they are being treated poorly. Here are a few ideas:

  • Mehrunes Razor is a destructive dagger that revels in mindless slaughter. It could demand to taste blood every day, slicing its wielder if not sated. It can decide to vanish if left unused for too long or if it is passed over for another weapon.
  • Volendrung is bound to the Daedric Prince Malacath, the patron of Orcs. It could disappear if used to kill an Orc. Its personality might be crude and brutish, taunting its wielder and goading them to perform feats of strength.
  • The Skeleton Key doesn’t like being abused. If its user starts relying too much on the Key, it is likely to abandon them, probably in the worst possible moment. The key might also have strange demands, such as never being exposed to the sun or being kept in an Elf-skin bag when not in use.
  • Namira’s Ring shares its creator’s affinity for repulsive things. It might refuse to attune to a character with a high Charisma score, stop working unless its wearer stops washing, or cause warts to grow on the wearer’s face. Furthermore, it might threaten to disappear if the wearer doesn’t consume a pound of humanoid flesh every week.

Links to the artifacts’ pages can be found below. I decided to make only one artifact per Daedric Prince, trying to stick to the items most commonly associated with their Daedric Prince. However, some Princes have more than one such item (Boethiah has both Ebony Mail and Goldbrand; Clavicus Vile has his eponymous Mask and Umbra). In these cases, I chose the item that is easier to convert into D&D and/or has more interesting effects. Each item comes with ideas for sentience, but without Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores or alignment.


Commentary. I also wanted to include Azura’s Star and Wabbajack, but these items are not easy to convert and are still work in progress. Azura’s Star will have similar effects as the soul cage spell from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. I envisioned Wabbajack as a more powerful version of the Wand of Wonder from the Dungeon Master’s Guide. I will add them later, when I am actually satisfied with what I’ve homebrewed.

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