Alternate Rewards: Scars

After a long unintentional hiatus, Save vs. Blog is back!

Dungeons & Dragons is a game about treasure. Once the big dragon is slain, there ought to be a big pile of treasure underneath him. Right? However, settings like Dark Sun call for treasure to be rare, and for magical items to be rarer still. In the Dungeon Master’s Guide 2, the idea of alternate rewards is presented, especially Divine Boons and the like. These are essentially magic items that don’t take the form of items, and they’re a great alternative to the traditional magic sword.

Boons are generally described as gifts from the gods, or blessings from powerful entities, or special training from a legendary warmaster. But I have another idea for when your character’s aren’t in good with anyone like that.

As the psurlon dies, it lashes out with a final psychic strike. You feel the hatred of the beast burn across your brain, leaving a potent psychic scar on your mind.

Psychic Scar of Bloodthirst
Level: 5
Price:1,000 gp
Wondrous Item

Property: When an enemy bloodies you, you gain a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls against that enemy until the end of your next turn.

The idea of a “scar” as a magic item can really emphasize the importance of a defeated villain. It can serve as a reminder of an epic battle. As a bonus, it’s a way to give a character a personalized reward. Not all Dungeon Master’s will like my next idea, but try it on for size:

Psychic Scar of Vengeance
Level: 9
Price:1,000 gp
Wondrous Item

Property: If you are targeted by an attack that would deal psychic damage on a hit or miss, you are -2 on all defenses against that attack.

The first time you are bloodied during an encounter, you may use one of your at-will attack powers as an immediate interrupt. If the attack hits, you gain 5 temporary hit points.

What if the scar leaves a penalty behind too? This isn’t following the typical magic item rules, but it gives the scar a bit more flavor. If you find your players complaining, though, they may not fit with your group. If you do choose to apply penalties alongside scars, the really hard part is balancing the penalties and benefits – the existence of a penalty, after all, should make the benefit of the reward even greater.

In essence, a scar is just a reward given as the result of an epic battle. You could easily give a scar a slot – for instance, the final slash of a werewolf along someone’s arm might leave a scar that is the equivalent Skull Bracers and takes up the Arms slot. Otherwise, a scar can be a wondrous item, not unlike a Boon. As shown above, a scar need not be physical – a psychic scar can be just as cool.

The scar is just one of my many ideas for alternative rewards for D&D. Stay tuned for more!