Brixton stares into the face of death yet again...
I killed somebody the other week.
Hush. Though it would be particularly wonderful to confess to murder through the medium of a poorly-subscribed RPG blog, this particular slaying occurred in-game. I killed Sandy's character. Killed him good, in fact. With a dragon.
Now. A lot of people will tell you DMs shouldn't ever use Coup de Grace. It's unfair, and it looks like you're picking on your players. Ignore them. 4th Edition characters are tough, and sometimes the only way to kill them is to get your licks in when they're down. Especially if they deserve it.
But this sudden turn of events left Sandy with a bit of a dilemma. Should he bring his character back, or roll up a new one? Death is often an opportunity for reinvention, but in a way Brixton was beginning to scrape the barrel. In the past, he'd come back as a vampire (which the rest of the party promptly slew), as a stoic paladin who lasted for about ten minutes, even as a cursed assassin wreathed in shadow. Where could he possibly go next?
I think I came up with something fairly unique (well, I did until Sandy pointed out I'd basically lifted it from Raymond E. Feist's Magician). I'd been meaning to give Brixton his first magical artifact for a while, and the dragon's lair was the perfect place to find it. When he died, he fell within inches of the most powerful item he'd ever seen. Perhaps a splinter of that artifact's power could pull him back? Maybe even bring him back with a rekindled purpose?
The Rhônic Saddle is imbued with the spirit of a long-dead king: last ruler of a kingdom of boasters, thrill-seekers, and horse-masters. Those who ride it gain great power, but also suffer a terrible curse. The king's spirit whispers to them in dreams, long-forgotten by morning, but subconsciously compelling them throughout the day to perform deeds of glory and daring.
Give in to these urges, and they risk death at every turn. Deny them and the curse takes control, forcing them to act against their will.
Being a mount slot item, this artifact may have limited usefulness in your games, but who knows? It could be just what you're looking for. We've not played it yet, so there may be some kinks to iron out, but I'm fairly confident it will work well at the table. See what you think.
Thanks to Sandy for the image of Brixton at the top of this post - definitely my favourite he's done so far. And thanks to Stacey for spending this afternoon drawing the saddle. It's exactly as I imagined it.
(If you're playing in my game, you may not want to read this. Spoilers, spoilers)