Action RPGs like the Diablo series, and massive multiplayer online RPGs created the concept of item “sets” for modern gamers. I love the flavor and power of those items in video games, and they have popped up in D&D before, notably in the 3rd edition Magic Item Compendium. The concept sort of exists in the 5th edition with the Hammer of Thunderbolts, but that’s more of a hurdle than a bonus for assembling a combination of items and doesn’t really enhance the fun and flavor of using the items together (though it is a nice nod to Norse mythology). I personally feel like getting treasure should be a unique experience, and that most magic items should have names and stories, so with that in mind, I present:
Item Sets for D&D 5th Edition:
Item sets are groups of magical items that work together in tandem, providing greater benefit than the items used alone. The origin of a set in your campaign can vary to suit your world. In some cases, the items could have been created separately but all belonged to a great hero or terrible villain who used them together for so long that their magical energies became attuned to one another and took on traits of their user. Alternatively, the items were constructed as a set and were meant to be used together, and grow weaker when separated.
An item set is approximately equivalent to an artifact in terms of power. Finding all the pieces of the set should be relatively difficult, and even acquiring a single piece can be dangerous, as those possessing other pieces of the set may desire to complete the collection and take action, whether subtle or direct, to relieve the character of the items.
All item sets require attunement. Once you are attuned to one piece of a set, adding additional pieces requires no additional attunement time. Sets can count as a single or multiple attuned items for purposes of a character’s maximum number of attuned items, as follows:
1 or 2 pieces of a set count as 1 item.
3 or 4 pieces of a set count as 2 items.
Additionally, while attuned to one or more pieces of a set, the bearer can sense if another piece of the set is within 2 miles, though not its location. If within 1,000 feet of another item in the set, the bearer knows its general direction. The bearer can also immediately recognize and identify another piece of the set on sight.
If you are using the artifact rules, sets can have minor or major beneficial and detrimental properties, however, these properties only become evident when multiple pieces of the set are worn or used. Unlike artifacts, it is recommended that you set the properties in advance rather than roll randomly when the item is acquired, to preserve the theme of the set. If you roll or choose a property that occurs when the user becomes attuned to the artifact, it occurs immediately when the user adds the required piece to the set. Additionally, when assembled, the set provides artifact level powers to the user, which should be crafted along the theme of its origin. A set should be 2 to 4 items. The larger the number of pieces in the set, the more powerful and dangerous the set can be.
A two piece set, when assembled, gains a unique ability determined by the DM. When the second piece is added, the set will have one minor beneficial property and one minor detrimental property.
A three piece set functions as above, but the unique power is not activated until all three pieces are assembled. Adding the third piece also adds a major beneficial property and an additional minor detrimental property.
A four piece set will have a unique power for assembling 3 pieces, and an additional unique power for adding the 4th piece. Artifact properties accumulate as above, but adding the 4th piece adds an additional minor beneficial property and a major detrimental property (for a total of 1 major and 2 minor properties of each type).
Sample two-piece set:
This rapier and shield belonged to a famous Elven swashbuckler known only by her pseudonym, The Lotus. She was known for her swiftness and courage, and a mysterious knack for appearing whenever those in a position of power were abusing the weak and downtrodden. The Lotus disappeared a century ago, but her weapons have been taken up by other champions of freedom. Only a neutral good or chaotic good character may attune to this set.
Deathflower: This +1 rapier is chased with silver inlay and has its hilt worked into the shape of a lotus flower. The blade never dulls or tarnishes, and it counts as a silvered weapon.
The Lotus Petal: This small, round +1 shield is made of fine Elven darkwood, covered with silver floral and vine designs. Like its partner, it is perpetually polished and unscathed by the many blows it deflects. While wielding this shield, you have a +2 bonus on initiative checks.
You have advantage on Wisdom (Insight) checks and Charisma (Deception) checks against all creatures of Lawful alignments, and on saving throws against spells that would impair your movement (including any that would cause you to become grappled, paralyzed, prone, or restrained). Additionally, good-aligned fey, elves, and other freedom-loving creatures of good, non-lawful alignments generally regard you positively and are friendly towards you if they recognize the set.
The Lotus enjoyed imprisoning those who would do the same to others. While attuned to this set, you can use a bonus action to cast the ensnaring strike spell (save DC 15 or your own spell save DC from a single class, whichever is higher). Roll a d6. On a roll of 1-5, you can’t cast it again until the next dawn.
The Lotus traveled light, and did not like to be weighed down. While attuned to this set, your weight drops by 1d4x10 pounds, and your carrying capacity is reduced by the same amount. Lawful authorities in lands where the player characters operate may brand the bearer as a trouble-maker, possibly in league with the presumed-still-alive Lotus. They might try to bring the character in for questioning and confiscate the weapons.
Sample 3-piece set:
Regalia of the Battlemage
In many kingdoms, arcane spellcasters accompany soldiers into battle, providing support for masses of soldiers with protective magics, and acting as walking artillery. Sometimes, they act as officers, even generals, and such a mage is a terrifying opponent, especially when outfitted by their kingdom’s artificers. This set can appear in any setting where mages have been used to wage war; if you wish, you can restrict attunement to a particular spellcasting class, as best suits your campaign world. Any spellcaster who can also wear armor will benefit greatly from its powers, especially bards and wizards with a martial bent.
The Impervious Shell: This ornate mithral breastplate is easily worn even by a mage with minimal training, and can be empowered for greater protection. If you are proficient with light armor, you are considered proficient with this armor. While wearing this armor, as a bonus action, you can expend a spell slot of up to 3rd level to add a bonus to your AC equal to the level of the spell slot expended (maximum +3) for 1 hour.
Warmind’s Eye: This minimalist but well-crafted silver headband assists with coordinating troops over the din of battle, as well as allowing spellcasting at more advantageous angles. While wearing the circlet, you can communicate telepathically with any ally within 60 feet. Additionally, if you can see an ally on your turn, when you cast a spell that does not have a range of self, you may draw line of sight and range as if you were in that ally’s space. Once you do so, you can’t so so again until the next dawn.
Loyal Sidearm: This magical longsword (or other martial weapon as suited to your campaign) obeys mental commands, moving as if alive in the hand of its master and allowing even a frail wizard to engage in fierce melee combat. You are always considered proficient with this weapon, and you can use your spellcasting ability instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of melee attacks with it. You can perform somatic components of spells while wielding this weapon as if your hands were free.
While wearing 2 pieces of this set, when you make a Constitution check to concentrate on a spell, you can treat a d20 roll of 9 or lower as a 10. You gain an additional background flaw based on the military, soldiering, or trauma from a war, as determined by you and the DM to match events from your character’s life.
While wearing all 3 pieces of this set, the items project a screen of force that protects you from projectiles. You have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from ranged attacks and spells. Additionally, you can use an action to cast a version of the bless spell that affects yourself and up to 5 allies for one minute, but does not require concentration. Once you do so, you cannot do so again until the next dawn.
Despite your invulnerability in battle, you often let your guard down away from the field, considering yourself out of danger. While not engaged in combat, you have disadvantage on Wisdom (Insight) checks and on saving throws against poison.
Sample four-piece set:
Strength of the North
This armor was worn by the barbarian king Tharm who enjoyed the purity of unarmed combat. He was feared by all who encountered him for his ability to chill his opponents’ bones before shattering them with his mighty fists. His appetite for food and drink was legendary, and he loved to boast and tell exaggerated but enrapturing stories about his deeds in a booming voice. When, the king died, his subjects laid him to rest in a cairn at the top of a tall mountain peak, his armor still encasing his frozen body, in accordance to his wishes. It is said that some have scaled the mountain to try and claim the armor as their own, but natural hazards such as extreme cold and avalanches imperil those who would make the journey. Unknown to most, a tribe of frost giants and their white dragon allies took over the mountain and desecrated the grave long ago, and the items are now divided amongst their treasure hordes.
Gauntlets of Glacial Might: These iron gauntlets are perpetually cold to the touch, and give off a chill mist. While wearing these gauntlets, targets you hit with an unarmed strike take an additional 1d6 cold damage. This cold damage increases to 1d8 if you are wearing all four pieces of this set. Whenever a creature attempts to escape your grapple and fails, they take your unarmed strike damage, including this bonus.
The Scales of Iceheart: This spiked armor was fashioned from the hide of a young white dragon the great king slew in single combat with his bare hands. It functions as White Dragon Scale Mail as found in the SRD.
The King’s Brow: A simple crown was not fitting for Tharm, as he often employed his stout forehead as a weapon in addition to his mighty fists. This helm features a reinforced noseguard and eye protection, and is well suited for delivering ferocious headbutts. While wearing this helm, you can use your bonus action to make an unarmed strike. If this attack hits, you can choose to make the attack a Stunning Strike. If you do, the target must make a Constitution saving throw (DC=8+your Strength modifier+your proficiency bonus) or be stunned until the end of your next turn. You can’t use the Stunning Strike property again until you finish a short or a long rest.
The Champion’s Belt: As a young man, Tharm participated in the tribal wrestling practiced by his people, which was the start of his path to glory. This belt was the prize from his first victory at a seasonal tournament, and he wore it proudly to his grave. While wearing this belt, you have advantage on all contested Strength (Athletics) checks, including grappling and the shove action in combat. The belt also increases your Strength score by 2; your strength score can increase above 20 but not above 30 from this bonus.
While attuned to this set and wearing at least two pieces, your weight increases by 1d4x10 pounds. You gain proficiency in the Athletics skill, or in a different skill of the DM’s choice if you are already proficient in Athletics (Intimidate or other skills from the barbarian class list would be appropriate).
While wearing at least three pieces of this set, your unarmed strike damage becomes a d4, and when you hit a creature with an unarmed strike, you can use a bonus action to attempt to grapple the target. Additionally, you regain 1d6 hit points at the start of your turn if you have at least 1 hit point. However, you have disadvantage on all attacks made with weapons other than unarmed strikes, improvised weapons, or simple weapons, and you must eat and drink six times the normal amount each day. You can also tolerate six times the normal amount of alcohol.
While wearing all four pieces of the set, the damage of your unarmed strikes increases to a d6, and your unarmed strikes count as magical attacks for the purposes of overcoming resistance and immunity to non-magical attacks and damage. You can now grapple creatures up to two sizes larger than you. Additionally, you cannot be charmed or frightened, and your voice can carry clearly for up to 300 feet if you choose. However, King Tharm may also return from the dead as a physically manifested spirit and challenge the bearer of his armor to a wrestling match to prove their worthiness. He will do so if the character ever acts in a cowardly manner, such as running from a fight or using dishonorable tactics to best an enemy they could have defeated with strength. If other characters attempt to interfere, the king will will become enraged, summon 2 Berserkers (MM p. 344) for each other character present as a reaction, and then attack to kill; otherwise, the match is non-lethal. The character can win this match either by by winning a grapple check and using the pin ability on the king for 3 rounds, or by reducing the king to 60 hp or less. If the character is knocked out or pinned for 3 rounds, the spirit strips them of the armor and returns all of the items to the mountain peak. If the player character wins the match, Tharm takes them out for a wild night of partying, drinking and brawling in the plane of Ysgard, and then returns them to the spot the match took place unharmed the next dawn. After this, the spirit may return ethereally to offer advice or chastise the character, but will not challenge them again unless they act with extreme cowardice. Tharm’s spirit is an undead creature with the following statistics:
Spirit of King Tharm
Medium undead (spirit), Chaotic Neutral
Armor Class 19
Hit points: 240 (20d8+140)
Speed 40 feet
Str 24 (+7), Dex 14 (+2), Con 24 (+7), Int 10 (+0), Wis 12 (+1), Cha 16 (+3)
Damage resistances: bludgeoning, piercing and slashing from nonmagical weapons
Damage immunities: cold, necrotic, poison
Condition immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
Senses: darkvision 60 ft., passive perception 11
Grappler. Tharm has advantage on attack rolls against targets he is grappling. He can use an action to try and pin a target he is grappling by making a grapple check (+13). If he succeeds, he and the creature are both restrained until the grapple ends. Creatures that are one size larger than Tharm don’t automatically succeed on checks to escape his grapple.
Chill touch. Each time Tharm uses his action to pin the target of his grapple, they take 10 (1d6+7) bludgeoning damage plus 4 (1d8) cold damage
Multiattack. Tharm makes two unarmed strike attacks.
Unarmed strike: +13 to hit, reach 5 feet, one target. Hit. 10 (1d6+7) bludgeoning damage plus 4 (1d8) cold damage, and the target is grappled.
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