Artefacts of the Ancestral Mountains

by Jay Godden, edited by Isaac Rolfe and Rob Heinsoo, art by Aaron McConnell & Lee Moyer

Read the introductory post here.

Origins: It’s said, mostly by dwarves (and their magic items!), that the first seven dwarves were carved directly from the mountains. The Smith God made a gift to each of the first seven dwarves. With the help of their personal artefacts, each dwarf went on to found a line of dwarves that persist in many of the great houses of Forge to this day. In the present, these artefacts are likely wielded by dwarven royalty or champions, secured away in the King’s Vault, or lost in the uncharted depths of the Underdark. The Dwarf King lays claim to all of them and publicly says that he allows the other Great Dwarf Houses to wield them on his behalf, as a token of his infinite generosity. Privately, he might be fuming that he doesn’t own them all and hoping to bring them into his personal Vaults.

Plate mail: One item that is more likely lost than not is the Plate Mail of House Duergar. Remembered in solemn dirges, it is a reminder of their greatest shame. In the early days of the world, before the rivers had carved their deep valleys into the mountains, the Seven Clans of the Dwarves came together as allies in a great battle. The face of the enemy is lost to time; sometimes the stories say giants, drow, or goblins, other times it’s humans, undead, or devils. The Clan of Dwarves known as the Duergar, stalwart and noble subterranean dwarves with a warrior tradition who favoured living near volcanic fissures where the earth could heat their forges, led a final charge alongside the Thunderhammers; the Clan known to be greatest in battle. The Second King of the Thunderhammers, Bronzebeard I, pulled back his forces, and cut off the Duergar, forcing them to hold the line alone. This manoeuvre won them the battle as the Thunderhammers flanked and routed the enemy forces, but the Duergar suffered horrendous losses. Their Queen, and all her heirs, were slain, along with most of the clan. The survivors fled to the Underdark, cursing the other clans and swearing Oaths of revenge for their slain kin. Seeing someone above ground wearing this armour would be akin to a religious experience for many dwarves, good or bad depending on their Clan and beliefs. Its significance would also not be missed by any decent scholar.

No Crown: It is a common piece of propaganda, widely accepted among the common folk of the dwarven kingdoms, that the Royal Crown is one of the Artefacts of the Clanfathers, bestowing upon its wielder a divine right to rule directly from the Smith God. You’ll note its absence from the list below. Regardless of the Dwarf King’s crown’s magical potency, that crown won’t contribute to the set bonus of these items.

Promised One: Ancient stone tablets speak of a hero, whose title is blasphemous to speak outside of secret rituals in sealed halls of stone where the syllables cannot escape. A hero who will acquire all of the Artefacts of the Ancestral Mountains, and become an Avatar of the Smith God. They will lead the Dwarves out of this world and into their heavens at the end of time, avoiding the battle to end all battles between good and evil, and living peacefully in halls of Pure Marble until the End of Time. To the fury of many dwarven priests, many members of the other species like to point out that the tablets mention nothing about this hero being a dwarf. Any character who wields these items may find themselves worshipped by zealous dwarves, viewed as an omen of the end times by suspicious folk, challenged by people hoping to become the Avatar themselves, foiled by priests who think they are “not the true champion”, or called upon to complete tasks to help the dwarven people or otherwise prove their spiritual worthiness.

Set bonus: You gain a new background at +X called Hewn from the Primordial Mountain, this background applies to anything that the archetypal or “perfect” dwarf would be good at, whatever that means for dwarves in your world. Staying upright, excellent craftsmanship, being a natural sprinter, hardiness, completing the world engine, bringing new rock to the surface to expand the planet into the stars, stubbornness, drinking, loyalty, or your own less derivative ideas.

Adventurer Tier:

Glitterfist’s Goggles

Neck chakra: +1 to saves when you have 10 hp or fewer [2E: More likely +1 to saves when you have hp equal to 3 x your level or fewer.]

Ability: You can accurately assess the value of any non-unique precious metal or gemstone, see perfectly well in dim light, and in blurry grayscale even in total darkness.

Once per day, use the power of the goggles while working on a craft of some sort to create a Masterwork. Note that you still need the normal material costs for whatever item you are creating. If this is used for mundane items, you create a platonically ideal exemplar of that item and impress any professional craftspeople in that field with the complexity, beauty, and sheer dwarvishness of your work.

If you use this to create adventuring gear, treat it as having the effects of a rune of your tier, that lasts for one battle (you can choose when to use it up, essentially activating the rune bonus and effect as a quick action). True Magic Items that last more permanently require story or icon investment as usual, though these goggles should definitely provide a large bonus (GMs, consider +4) to any associated rolls. Quirk: Occasionally treats gemstones as a tasty snack, despite the dental implications.

Delving Greaves of the Ironsworn

Boot chakra, +1 to disengage checks or other fancy footwork

Ability (Free Action, Recharge 6+): You can nominate a type of terrain, such as rubble, twisting vines, steep cliffs, slippery rocks, or running water. You are not affected by any non-damage negative effects from this terrain for the remainder of a scene.

GMs, the boots are more generous with their power when you’re delving into the depths of the earth or climbing mountains to find new lands and riches for your people. Feel free for their power to be more or less limited depending on the context, such as providing bonuses to disengage or preventing damaging terrain effects too. Quirk: Always wants to find out what’s around the next corner, beyond the next horizon, or past the next chasm.

Champion Tier:

Forger’s Gauntlets

Glove chakra  [[2E: Glove, Gauntlets Chakra: +2 on Str, Con and Dex skill checks using your hands, such as climbing or prying a door open (champion: +4; epic: +6)]]

You learn the Wizard’s Spark cantrip, and can use it at will as a standard action.

Ability (Quick Action, Recharge 16+): Imbue whatever you’re holding with the fires of the First Forge. Until the end of the battle weapons and implements deal 2d12 extra fire damage on a hit, but deal fire damage equal to your level to yourself in addition to normal miss effects on a miss. Mundane weapons and implements that are empowered in this way are destroyed after the battle, becoming chunks of slag and twisted metal covered in ash. Quip: “By the power of Forge!” 

Helm of the Stoneseers

Helmet chakra. +2 MD

Ability (Interrupt Action, Recharge 11+): Your wisdom often proves invaluable. You may allow yourself or an ally to make one retroactive edit to their last turn, such as changing the target of an attack, remembering to use a power, spending an action to automatically save against an effect they didn’t succeed on the roll for, or moving away and taking opportunity attacks instead of failing to disengage. 

The GM has the ultimate say over how far back the edit can be, but the magic is limited to people’s most recent turns. The first reality was simply a premonition, and your gentle guidance helped avoid that fate.  Quip: “No, there’s a better way.” 

GM Sidebar: This item isn’t for every type of group. It works best for players who jump in on someone else’s turn to say that they forgot to activate their sword power and actually that 19 should have been a crit if they had just remembered to expend a recovery. The magic of the helm helps players make these edits, even if it invalidates a couple of minutes of play. If the scene has evolved in a complex way following the actions of the player (for the example above, maybe a crit would have downed that enemy, which means the rogue would have attacked the enemy caster, and that caster couldn’t have used their ranged spell without drawing opportunity attacks, that’s too much content to rewrite for most groups), feel free to tell the player that their character dithered for too long looking at runestones and the moment has already come to pass.

Epic Tier: 

Plate Mail of House Duergar

Armour Chakra, +3 AC

Ability (Quick Action, Recharge 16+): For the rest of the battle, after you take damage, any nearby ally can choose to take that damage instead. Quip: “Our thanks!” or “I owe you one.” 


The Mirror of Goldfoot

Shield Chakra, +25 maximum hp [2E: Increase your maximum hp by +3 per level.]

Looking at things through the reflection of this supernaturally polished slab of alloyed precious metals reveals their true form. Invisibility won’t affect it, illusions don’t show up on its face, and sometimes you might gain some insight into something or someone’s true essence by looking at their reflection.

Ability (Interrupt Action, Daily): When you are hit by an attack, but not if you are critted, deal half as much holy damag to a different nearby enemy as the damage th attack deals to you. Quip: “I will show you.” 


The Thunderhammer

Melee weapon, +3 attack and damage with attacks made with this weapon

This mighty weapon can morph its size to fit your needs as a quick action, from a builder’s mallet to help you construct citadel walls, to a throwing hammer, one-handed warhammer, all the way up to a Maul of epic proportions (its True form).

Ability (Recharge 16+): Your next attack deals an additional effect depending on the natural roll of the d20.

1: You are struck by a bolt of lightning, take 10d6 lightning damage,.Any nearby dwarves are immune to fear effects for the rest of the day (this is a good omen).

2-5: You bring the hammer crashing down into the earth, throwing up rubble and filling the area with thunderous booms. All nearby creatures take damage equal to your level.

5-9: A peel of lightning erupts from the hammer, dealing lightning damage equal to half your average basic melee attack damage to a random nearby enemy.

10-12: The hammer glows with magical light. Your next attack will also roll on this table, but you add 2 to your natural roll, to a maximum of 20. You can continue to increase your modifier to the natural roll if you keep rolling 10-12 (after modification). The bonus ends at the end of the battle or until you trigger one of the hammer’s other effects, whichever comes first.

13: The Hammer builds, instead of destroying. Choose a nearby ally. A small structure (perhaps a wall of cover, tower turret, or vantage point) of excellent dwarven masonry appears at their feet or around them. They can choose to heal using a recovery, roll a recharge roll for an expended power, end one status effect or instance of ongoing damage, treat far away enemies as nearby for targeting until the end of their next turn, or receive +2 to all defences until the end of your next turn. If it matters to the story, the construction probably sticks around.

14-16: You smite your enemy soundly with the full force of the hammer, dealing an additional weapon die of thunder damage, and an additional weapon die of lightning damage (usually +2d8 or +2d10 in total) hit or miss. In addition, on a hit, the target is dazed until the end of its next turn or pops free from you, your choice.

17: All nearby enemies take lightning damage equal to double your level.

18: Make an at-will basic melee attack against a different nearby enemy. You do not have to be engaged with the enemy and this attack does not draw opportunity attacks. Deal lightning damage instead of your normal damage. If the attack roll is a natural even roll, you can repeat this attack against a different nearby enemy. You can continue to chain until you stop rolling evens, or all nearby enemies have been struck by this attack.

19: You stun the target until the end of their next turn as they are cracked on the head and thunder roars inside their skull.

20: Lighting arcs from you and thunderous booms roll across the battlefield like war drums. Increase the escalation die by one, and increase the size of the escalation die by one step. (usually d6 to d8).

Quirk: Two conflicting ideals clamour for space in your mind. Build something to last, and Break everything before you. 

Player sidebar: Previous wielders of the Hammer have made fantastic conquerors or city founders, carving out citadels in the wilds or mountains, but terrible, ruthless and unfocussed monarchs after the time of conflict has ended.

13th Age combines the best parts of traditional d20-rolling fantasy gaming with new story-focused rules, designed so you can run the kind of game you most want to play with your group. 13th Age gives you all the tools you need to make unique characters who are immediately embedded in the setting in important ways; quickly prepare adventures based on the PCs’ backgrounds and goals; create your own monsters; fight exciting battles; and focus on what’s always been cool and fun about fantasy adventure gaming. Purchase 13th Age in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

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