Legacy System

legacy system

Legacy items are powerful magical items that grow in power with the wielder. They are the “signature item” often seen in mythology, such as Arthur’s Excalibur or Thor’s Mjolnir. They do not always have to be weapons, nor in fact, even physical items at all. Legacy items can be found as runic tattoos, jewelry, armor, weapons, or any other conceivable item. Whatever they are, they share similar powers and abilities in the Dark Earth campaign world. These abilities are: Bound – A legacy item is bound to its owner or wielder and is rarely parted from them, even in death. Rank – Legacy items gain rank in the same way characters gain levels, growing in power from simple items to artifacts. Theme – Legacy items have a common theme or power, such as affinity with sea creatures or attunement to the underworld, the item’s primary powers all should link back to that theme.

Your Home Region DM will work with you to build your Legacy item. They will take into account both the nature of your character and the desires of the gods from their region that granted you such an item. You may not know what the item’s future powers look like, and your Home Region DM will be responsible for giving you updated certificates to reflect the item’s changes as milestones progress.

Tiers of Power

5E is designed to have natural increases in power roughly corresponding to the level of a given character. Because of the bounded accuracy in the system, there are only four tiers. This keeps numbers from getting out of hand and keeps challenges reasonable across all levels, avoiding the plateau of previous editions. As the tiers increase, magic items increase in power and availability.

The Legacy Certificate (“Cert”)

You can track the Legacy item, its improvements by rank, and any other details using the DE-S3-Cert-Legacy-Form-v2.pdf


Sample Legacy Items

The following are examples of the different types of legacy items created for the campaign. Note that some stronger powers only work in the home region of the item and are marked as such.

Spear of Achilles

Magical Weapon, Legendary
This leaf-bladed, black iron, long spear is crafted in the style of the Greek Hoplites. The only decoration on its plain blade is an etched symbol of Mars, the God of War. This particular weapon has passed from soldier to soldier for nearly seven centuries, tracing a path of blood and destruction from Syria, through Macedonia, Italia, and even the distant shores of Aegyptus. It is slow to trust, but rewarding when fed a constant diet of war and enemies. Its powers grow and invite the wielder towards more bloodshed, and in it, the greater glory.

Rank 1 Hoplite – You may benefit from the Versatile property of this weapon while wielding it one-handed.
Rank 2 +1 magical spear
Rank 3 Boundless – The spear enhances the athleticism of its wielder, granting advantage on Athletics checks and allowing her to add distance in feet to any long or high jumps equal to her Dexterity modifier.
Rank 4 Of Loyal Hand – The spear becomes bound to the wielder and gains the Returning property. It will return when thrown or disarmed. When thrown, it inflicts damage as if wielded Versatile.
Rank 5 +2 magical spear
Rank 6 Unchecked Aggression – When performing the Attack action, the wielder gains an additional attack with their shield that can be used as a push or bash.
Rank 7 The Unkindest Cut – The spear gains the Wounding property, causes an additional 1d6 damage at the start of the victim’s turn from each of the wound it inflicts. Victims of the wounding may take their action to make a Constitution save DC19 to remove all additional wounds.
Rank 8 +3 magical spear
Rank 9 The Black Spear – The untold casualties of this spear cling to its black iron skin and radiate outward. Enemies of the bearer must make a Wisdom save DC19 or suffer disadvantage to all attacks made within 10ft of the wielder.
Rank 10 Blood of War – All damage inflicted by the wounding property of the spear is applied as healing to the wielder. This healing cannot be thwarted by Chilling Touch, Wight life drain or any similar effect that prevents healing.

The Trickster’s Tooth

Wondrous Item, Legendary
This large tooth appears to be the fang of an ancient fox. It is in some way tied to the Trickster Spirit. As it is used to further the capriciousness ways of a suitable rogue, it grows in power, attuning more closely with the spirit of the prankster.

Rank 1 A Certain Slyness – The bearer may add his Intelligence modifier to Deception checks.
Rank 2 +1d6 to a rogue’s sneak attack damage when wielded.
Rank 3 A Certain Point of View – The bearer gains Expertise on either Deception or Persuassion.
Rank 4 Always in Hand – The tooth can never be removed from your person. If another attempts to do so, the totem finds a way to hide. It is also suddenly more useful as a tool than it would appear. The tooth may act as a set of Thief’s Tools with a bonus equal to half its Legacy Level.
Rank 5 +2d6 to a rogue’s sneak attack damage when wielded.
Rank 6 Fox’s Grace – You gain 2 points to your Dexterity Score. This bonus may raise your score above 20.
Rank 7 Seen and Unseen – Once per long rest, as an action, you may choose to create an illusiory double within 30ft. This double duplicates all actions you take for one minute. As a bonus action, you may switch places with the double as long as you remain within 30ft.
Rank 8 +3d6 to a rogue’s sneak attack damage when wielded.
Rank 9 Saved from a Fate Most Dire – Once per long rest, as a reaction to any damaging effect or attack, you may instantly teleport 5ft in any direction, leaving behind an illusiory duplicate that is struck in your place. You take no damage from the effect.
Rank 10 The Liar’s Truth – While bearing this totem, you see with Truesight, as the spell of the same name.

The Shield of Percival

Magical Armor, Legendary
This ancient shield has been passed down in the house of Pelinore since the dawn of time. Many hands have refined and repaired this stout piece of armor, embodying it with the sense of duty and loyalty of that noble line. When it is first found by the scion of the house of Pelinore, the shield remains quiet, yet protective of its charge. Only by great deeds and exemplary valor will the spirit within the shield awaken and display its true powers.

Sentience When the shield reaches the point of awakening (Legacy Level 4) it begins with Int 10, Wis 10, and Cha 12. It can only perceive what its bonded wielder perceives and lacks any senses of its own. It only speaks to its bonded wielder and that is done via Telepathy. At Legacy Levels 6, 8, and 10, it gains 2 points to each of its ability scores.

Personality The shield is quite clearly Lawful Good in outlook, with a deep sense of duty to the crown and loyalty to comrades in arms. It follows a Chivalric Code of respect, honor, and mercy. Though good, it is not without its flaws. The shield abhors witchcraft in any form and does not differentiate between wizards who serve the crown and common witches or hags. It will continually attempt to push its wielder to engage such creatures over all other opponents and exempts such abominations from its code of mercy. While in the presence of such creatures, the wielder suffers Disadvantage on Persuassion, Deception, and Insight checks, but gains Advantage on Intimidation.

Rank 1 Resolute Shield – When using the Protection fighting style (Fighter, Paladin) your protected target gains the benefit of your shield’s bonus to AC.
Rank 2 +1 magical shield
Rank 3 Jousting Shield – When using this shield on horseback and are moving at least 20ft in a round, you impose disadvantage on attacks attempting to strike you.
Rank 4 You and the Shield are One – The shield develops a rudimentary sentience (see description) and for all intents and purposes is treated as if you are an Eldritch Knight and have bonded the shield to yourself.
Rank 5 +2 magical shield
Rank 6 Find the Path – Once per long rest, as an action, you commune with the shield and ask its assistance on your quest. Choose a specific foe, object, or place. For the next eight hours, the shield will act as a divining rod, glowing subtly to indicate the direction you need to go.
Rank 7 Bulwark – You gain resistance to piercing damage, including that caused by magical weapons, while wielding the shield.
Rank 8 +3 magical shield
Rank 9 Rally to the King – Once per long rest, as an action, you invoke your loyalty to the crown and hold your shield high. All allies within 30ft of you immediately save versus any continuing magical effects, and are affected by either a Remove Curse or Greater Restoration. For the next round, they gain advantage on all attacks made within sight of your shield.
Rank 10 Bastion – While bearing the shield, you cannot be blinded, stunned, deafened, or petrified.

Legacy Ranks

To coincide with that, each Legacy item has a rank, rising from 1 to 10 at a rate of once every two character levels. You will start the game with a Rank 3 Legacy Item, which will likely have two common powers and an uncommon power, and it should gain a new rank roughly every two levels. This pace may accelerate or decelerate at the discretion of your Home DM if it fits the story, because a good legacy has a good story—and sometimes that story does not match up with the situations your character is in.

Ideally, legacy items will reduce the number of magic items in the overall campaign. In many myths, the heroes only ever encountered one or two items, not having bags full of devices; nor did they spend their lives on a constant quest for new and better treasure.

Note that in the table below, ranks 9 and 10 appear out of order. This is intentionally not a normal advancement path: we would like our players to have the benefit of their “super awesome legendary flavor power” for more than just levels 19 and 20 to play with.

Legacy Rank Powers and Breakpoints

Legacy Rank Source Tier of Play Min. Character Level Ability Example Magic Item Power Level
1 Creation 1 1st Signature Trait Common
2 Creation 1 3rd Feature/Power/Spell Common
3 Creation 1 5th +1 Attacks/Spell DC Uncommon
4 2 7th Feature/Power/Spell Uncommon
5 2 9th +1 to AC or all saves Rare
6 Tier 2 Ends 2 11th Feature/Power/Spell Rare
7 3 13th +2 Attacks/Spell DC Rare
8 3 15th +3 to Attacks/Spell DC Very Rare
9 Tier 3 Ends 4 17th Feature/Power/Spell Legendary/Artifact
10 4 19th +2 to AC or all saves Very Rare

Magic Item Power Levels

Using the table above, you’ll see that as the Legacy gains ranks, it either becomes more powerful, for items that have bonuses, or gains access to more powerful spells or abilities. Legacy abilities are driven in part by item type. Note that (as in the case of Athena’s spear and shield, or Odin’s spear and horse and armband, or Thor’s belt and hammer), a Legacy need not be one single item, but can be a set of different items that are linked somehow. Abilities are broken down into Traits, Bonuses, Features, Powers, and Spells or Spell-like abilities.

Traits are physical abilities of the item that may duplicate or modify existing properties. Some examples are Spears that gain the damage die of their Versatile property while wielded in one hand instead of two. Another would be a medium or heavy armor that appears as normal clothing or a lighter armor type. Traits can be applied at any rank, though most often at Rank 1, as not all of them are mechanical bonuses. A good resource for weapon traits is Beyond Damage Dice by James Haeck, 2016 Kobold Press which offers alternate actions for the standard weapons.

Bonuses are numerical increases to the function of the item. While this is most applicable to Weapons and Armor, adding to the Hit/Damage or Armor Class respectively, other item types can be given bonuses to skills, spellcasting DC, saving throws, or other mechanics. Bonuses are awarded near the Tier breakpoint Ranks of an item. This matches the frequency of items with similar bonuses in the tables from the DMG. As laid out in the table above, defensive bonuses tend to lag behind offensive ones (Armor +1 has the same rarity as a Weapon +2).

Features are abilities that duplicate a class feature of another class, or the abilities of a creature. These are the first of the Legacy Abilities that have limits by level as well as transportability between regions. In general, a Legacy ability that works everywhere is weaker than an ability that works only in the region the character is from. When selecting an appropriate ability, consult the following table:

Legacy Class Feature Power Levels

Ability Class Level Monster Ability CR
Legacy Rank Regional Global Regional Global
1 1st - CR2 CR1
2 2nd 1st CR5 CR3
3 4th 2nd CR6 CR4
4 6th 4th CR8 CR6
5 8th 6th CR11 CR9
6 10th 8th CR12 CR10
7 12th 10th CR13 CR11
8 14th 12th CR15 CR13
9 16th 14th CR16 CR14
10 18th 16th CR17 CR15

Class features may be one of two sorts: increases in usability of features the character already has, or features from different classes.
Making a character’s current abilities more useful (i.e. granting sorcerers more sorcery points, monks more ki points, or battlemasters more dice) aren’t as restricted as others; depending on the feature, adding one to three more uses or altering the action type to use (lay on hands as a bonus action) are reasonable global choices. Granting abilities of other classes, however, is more restrictive because multiclassing is difficult for important game balance reasons, not least of which is to enable other characters to be unique and powerful in their own rights. Thus, features from other classes that a Legacy item grants are always of lower level than the level of the character. So if a Legacy Sword for a 11th Level Paladin of the Ancients (Rank 4 Legacy) were to award a class feature that is regional in scope, it might want to select one from a 6th level or lower Druid, such as Land’s Stride. It wouldn’t be the 10th level Nature’s Ward. If that same power were global instead of regional, it would be limited to a 4th level or lower ability, such as Wild Shape 1/day.

Similarly an item may bestow the ability of a creature thematically tied to the item. In those cases, use the CR of the creature as a guide to the relative power of the ability. If we went back to the 11th level Paladin of the Ancients (Rank 4 Legacy), a regional ability might come from a CR8 or lower creature, in this case a Formorian’s Evil Eye power. A global ability might come from CR6 creature, such as the Galeb Duhr’s Animate Boulders ability. Note that powers aren’t the only option for these features. Granting a creatures senses, including any advantages to them, or their movement methods and speed, are also good uses.

Powers is a class of plot-centric abilities that are part of the overall Region design. The classic example is “He whosoeover pulls this sword from this stone and anvil is the rightful King of all England.” Powers can be purely Roleplay in scope or can have demonstrable mechanical effects. Since they are always bound to the region they come from, they can be awarded as either an ability, feature, or spell equivalent to those used by a character of the same level.

Spells and Spell-like Abilities

Spells are the broadest category of powers, and have the most variation in application. The different types of spell and spell-like powers are Cast, Multiple Castings, At-Will & Always Active, or Shared Charge Pool. See the table below:

Legacy Spell Power Levels

Spell Level
Legacy Rank Long Rest – Regional Long Rest – Global Short Rest – Regional Short Rest – Global At Will – Regional At Will – Global Charge Pool Charges Available
1 2nd 1st - - - - - -
2 3rd 2nd 1st - Cantrip - 2nd 4
3 4th 3rd 2nd 1st 1st Cantrip 2nd 4
4 5th 4th 2nd 2nd 1st Cantrip 3rd 6
5 6th 5th 3rd 2nd 2nd 1st 3rd 6
6 7th 6th 3rd 3rd 2nd 1st 4th 8
7 8th 7th 4th 3rd 3rd 2nd 4th 8
8 8th 8th 4th 4th 3rd 2nd 5th 10
9 9th 8th 5th 4th 4th 3rd 5th 10
10 9th 9th 6th 5th 4th 3rd 6th 12

Cast – At the most basic level, the item can cast a spell of some level once per long rest (until dawn, until midnight, whatever descriptive you use.) The maximum Spell level of the spell is listed in the table, with regional spell power being stronger than global spell power. Multiple Castings – When adding multiple castings of a spell to an item, you should use the next lowest Legacy Rank to determine the recommended level when moving from 1/Long Rest to 1/Short Rest.

At-Will & Always Active – Some items will grant the ability to cast a spell at will or have the effect of a spell always active. These spells are dramatically weaker in power than those of a limited casting nature. Also, save for cantrips, attack spells are a poor fit for this ability. It should be used with utility or defensive spells such as Detect Magic, Protection from Good/Evil, or Longstrider.

Shared Charge Pool – Powerful items are known to have multiple spell abilities that draw from a pool of charges. While lesser items often burn out or fail to charge, those should not apply to legacy items. Using the chart above, the most powerful spell assigned to an ability should be limited by the Regional rank (even with a global power) but draw power from the pool of charges when cast (typically 1 charge per spell level.) Spells of lower power can be added, but share the same pool, offsetting any power increases.

Sentient Items

Sentient Items (covered in the DMG p. 214-218) are good candidates for Legacy Items, however this guide should be used when generating powers associated with the item. One glaring lack in the DMG rules is that intelligent items may have proficiency in one or more knowledge based skills. You should consider granting a Sentient Legacy Item a number of skills equal to half its rank, with a proficiency bonus equal to 1/3rd its rank (rounded up.)

Item Bonds

While most Legacy items are considered bound to the wielder, that can take many forms. At its basic level, the item is attuned to the user without taking up an attunement slot. Beyond that, it should always have a knack of finding its way back into the user’s possession. Most weapons are fit for the Weapon Bond abilities of the Eldritch Knight or Warlock. Some Armors might not be removable. Other items might, over time, blend into the flesh of the wearer as tattoos. Whatever the means, a Legacy Item should not be easily removed or disarmed once it reaches Rank 5.

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Legacy System

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