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“You earned that, boy! Every bronze penny of it! What a death blow!” Aloysius looked down at his ruined body. “I’m dead?” “Aye, lad”, spoke the king, wiping his lips with the back of his hand. “But far from finished.”
The Rhônic Saddle is a 4th Edition DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS artifact for the paragon tier. Those who claim it are beset by a terrible curse that drives them to ever greater deeds of heroic idiocy. If they please the saddle, they carve their place forever in the annals of history. Fail it, and they live the rest of their days in shame.
THE RHÔNIC SADDLE
Lost for long ages, the Rhônic Saddle is the last relic of the Kingdom of Rhône: a nation of horse-masters, thrill-seekers, and champions. So greatly was Rhône feared, that upon her eventual defeat, her conquerors tore down her towers, burned her records to ash, and even erased her very existence from memory using powerful magic. But Rhône lives on in the blood of her descendents. Her name may be lost, but its echo can still be heard. A man may awake in the middle of the night, mad with wanderlust. A soldier may throw himself into the jaws of death, heedless of fear. Rhône may be dead, but still she breathes. And while just one of her relics remains on earth, she may yet rise again… The Rhônic Saddle was a bridal gift given to Kharnos, last king of the Rhôneans, and is imbued with his lingering spirit. Those who dare to ride it become obsessed by peril and glory. The dead king sprinkles their dreams with suggestions, long forgotten by morning, yet still seeded. Succumb to these blossoming urges, and they risk death at every turn. Deny them, and they defy Rhône itself.
The Rhônic Saddle
Starting Score 5 Owner gains a level +1d6 Owner dies valiantly in combat +1d4 Owner ends a combat encounter with more craze points than they started with +1 Owner ends an encounter with the same or less craze points than they started with -1 Owner takes an extended rest without having gained at least one craze point that day -2
This magnificent ruby leather saddle is fringed with braids of horsehair, and encrusted with jewels. Artifact: Mount slot item Properties The following properties apply when mounted: You and your mount do not provoke opportunity attacks when charging. You may deploy a battle standard on the saddle as though it were solid surface.
You gain a +5 bonus to saving throws made to stay in the saddle Special Property: The Craze of Kharnos The saddle’s owner is cursed with the Craze of Kharnos for as long as the saddle stays with them (see separate curse description). Utility Power At-Will (Minor Action) Effect: You mount up into the saddle, entering the mount’s space. Alternatively, you dismount from the saddle into an unoccupied square adjacent to your mount.
None but Kharnos himself could please the saddle so. When its owner pits themselves against their most powerful foes, the saddle imbues their attacks with a small measure of the dead king’s strength. The saddle’s owner gains use of the following property for as long as the saddle remains at this concordance:
Property While mounted, you gain a +10 bonus to damage rolls when charging creatures with the elite or solo role.
GOALS OF THE RHÔNIC SADDLE
Rebuild the kingdom of Rhône at all costs. Drive its owner into performing ever greater deeds of daring. Never be lost again.
Maddened by the curse, the rider’s mount starts lashing out against those who dare to defy its master. Meanwhile, as his or her allies fall, the spirit of Rhône awakes inside the rider, transforming them into a raging berserker. The saddle’s owner gains use of the following powers and properties for as long as the saddle remains at this concordance or higher:
Property While mounted, you and your mount gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls (maximum +5), and a +2 bonus to damage rolls (maximum +10) for each PC ally that is currently unconscious or dead.
The saddle tires of its owner, and attempts to shrug them off whenever the opportunity arises. Should they die due to its treachery, then so be it: another shall surely take up the mantle. For as long as the saddle remains at this concordance or lower, the saddle’s owner cannot choose to move with the mount when they are pushed, pulled or slid. Instead, the saddle’s owner is dismounted and falls prone. If they are the target of the forced movement, they fall prone in the destination square.
Rhône shall not rise this day. The saddle decides to seek its fortune elsewhere, hoping that another owner can perhaps bring back what was lost. If the saddle is pleased when it moves on, the previous owner gains a permanent +3 bonus to saving throws.
THE CRAZE OF KHARNOS
Those who ride the saddle are cursed by the Craze of Kharnos. The king whispers to them in dreams, driving them to ever greater deeds of glory. Those who resist are gripped by the curse, and rise impulsively to every challenge. Only those who consciously surrender can truly control the curse – and themselves.
ANGERED (0 OR LOWER)
The saddle’s owner is considered a craven who shall never rekindle the glory of Rhône. Unless they turn the tide, it seeks to abandon them at the first opportunity. The saddle gains the following property while it remains at this concordance:
Property While mounted, you take 5 points of psychic damage if you do not end your turn adjacent to an enemy during combat.
Utility Power At-Will (Minor Action) Requirement: You or your mount must be bloodied. Effect: Your mount makes a melee basic attack against an enemy within range.
Characters subjected to the curse immediately gain three special powers: Deeds Define Us, Risk is My Reward, and Dive into Doom. Each of these powers grants a “craze point” when used. These last until spent, or until the end of the player’s next extended rest. Players may spend craze points to gain the following bonuses:
At this concordance, the mount has the properties and other characteristics included in its description above.
+2 bonus to a death save. +2 bonus to an Insight check made to determine the progression of the curse. +1 bonus to a saving throw.
PC fails their next Insight check. Similarly, there is no final stage: the curse’s effects can weaken or intensify with each passing day.
The following powers come in addition to those granted by the PC’s class. Deeds Define Us
Craze of Kharnos Utility You rise to the challenge, pushing your body beyond its physical limits as you strive for success. At-Will • Curse, Martial Free Action Personal Effect: Lose a healing surge to gain 1 craze point and a +5 bonus to your next Athletics, Endurance or Acrobatics skill check. If you fail the check, you take psychic damage equal to the check result.
The Craze of Kharnos
Variable Level Curse
These bonuses are cumulative. Players may spend multiple craze points on the same roll.
The brave spirit of the Rhôneans burns inside you, compelling you to ever greater deeds of glory. Stage 0: The curse is dormant. Stage 1: While affected by stage 1, the DM gains access to the Reckless Step power, which they may play on the cursed PC once per encounter. Stage 2: While affected by stage 2, the DM gains access to the Inexorable Challenge power, which they may play on the cursed PC once per encounter. Stage 3: While affected by stage 3, the DM gains access to the Heroic Sacrifice power, which they may play on the cursed PC once per encounter. Check: At the end of each extended rest, the target makes an Insight check. Lower than Moderate DC: The stage of the curse increases by one. Moderate DC: No change. Hard DC: The stage of the curse decreases by one (if at stage 0, there is no change). Lifting the Curse: The target may only lift the curse by abandoning the Rhônic Saddle, or by completing the quest that forces it to move on.
The Craze of Kharnos follows the rules for curses featured in the upcoming BOOK OF VILE DARKNESS supplement. The curse has stages of increasing severity, beginning at Stage 1 when the PC first acquires the saddle. Until it is lifted, the PC must make an Insight check at the end of each extended rest. Depending on the result of this check, the curse either increases in severity, decreases, or remains at the same level. The PC must fight the curse alone, and cannot receive aid for this check. When they reach a new stage of the curse, the PC is immediately subjected to the effects listed for that stage. These supersede any effects imposed at previous stages. Unlike a disease, the curse does not end when the character reaches stage 0. Instead, it becomes dormant, and may worsen when the
Risk is My Reward
Craze of Kharnos Attack You revel in the dance of mortal combat, gaining succor with every gambit, heedless of risk. At-Will • Curse, Martial, Weapon Standard Action Melee Weapon Target: One enemy Attack: Strength vs. AC Hit: 1[W] + Strength modifier damage, and you gain 5 temporary hit points. If you are mounted, you knock the enemy prone. Miss: Until the start of your next turn, you gain vulnerability 5 all and grant combat advantage to your enemies. Effect: Gain 1 craze point.
Dive into Doom Craze of Kharnos Attack Laughing manically you drive your steed into the enemies’ ranks, using the momentum of your charge to catapult your body into another foe. Encounter • Curse, Martial No Action Special Trigger: You hit an enemy with a charge attack when mounted. Effect: Gain 1 craze point and make a secondary attack that is close blast 3 centered on the primary target. Secondary Target: One enemy in the blast. Secondary Attack: Strength vs. Reflex Hit: 2d6 + Strength modifier damage and you knock the enemy prone. Every time you roll the highest result possible on a damage die, roll the die again and add the result to your total. Each time you re-roll a die, you take 5 psychic damage. Effect: You dismount and fall prone in an unoccupied square adjacent to the secondary target.
Curse Effect Your enemies taunt you by their very presence. Spitting curses, you stumble towards them. Encounter • Curse No Action Special Trigger: An enemy starts its turn within 5 of the cursed PC. Effect: The DM moves the cursed PC 1 square towards the enemy.
Curse Effect Enough is enough. The look of defiance in your enemy’s eyes is a challenge that cannot be denied. Encounter • Curse No Action Special Trigger: An enemy starts its turn within 5 of the cursed PC. Effect: The DM slides the cursed PC to a square adjacent to the triggering enemy.
One of the following powers is granted to the DM at each stage of the curse, and may be played upon the cursed character once per combat encounter.
Curse Effect You shall not stand by while your enemies prosper. Encounter • Curse No Action Special Trigger: An enemy within 5 of the cursed PC hits one of his or her allies with a melee attack. Effect: As a free interrupt, the DM slides the cursed PC to a square adjacent to the triggering enemy, and they take the damage instead.