I ran the first draft of these items by each player, but I didn’t mail the entire group. I wanted everybody’s item design to take place in a relative vacuum. Each player knew the early levels I posted in March, but nobody knew how everybody else’s items progressed until they were all almost done. This wasn’t to avoid an arms race or prevent players from working together for ridiculous combos. Heck, I want ridiculous combos as long as they’re cinematic instead of blatant rules manipulation. But I thought it would be easier to get something each player wanted if they weren’t worried about how it would interact with anybody else. Balancing things was my job, not theirs. The versions posted here are the canonical item descriptions, so you’re finding out about this only slightly after the players themselves. I hope you’re proud.
Sarai wants gears. Her player asked for the ability to escalate when situations seemed especially dire, to have a well of power or resources she doesn’t tap until it’s time to disable her limiters. Pathfinder hates that, and it has no design space for characters getting stronger as the situation gets worse. I had a whole character build based on it in 3.5E and not a single thing in that build got ported to Pathfinder, so I just stole things from a previous edition. Sarai’s desperation mode is based on the alternate barbarian rage from the 3.5E Player’s Handbook II, and her limit break is the logical extension of it. Besides that all she really wanted some some extra accuracy so her big attacks hit more often, so I had a bunch of room to come up with weird abilities for a scholarly magic/fighter snake who worships a bug of camaraderie.
Scimitar of Last Resorts
This sword looks too ornate to be functional, but it flows through the air like an extension of your own arm. In fact, the connection goes both ways; when you’re in danger, it lends you an extension of its own power.
Desperation Mode (Su): Like a snake, you’re most dangerous when backed into a corner. Once per day, when your hit point total goes below 5 × your level you can enter desperation mode. You remain in desperation mode until your hit point total is higher than 7 x your level, you fall unconscious, or the encounter ends. You may use this ability one additional time per day for every six class levels you have, but no more than once per encounter.
When you enter desperation mode you may select one of the following effects:
Black Mamba: You gain a +5-foot bonus to your speed and you gain Mobility as a bonus feat. At 5th level, and every five levels thereafter, this bonus increases by +5. At 7th level you also gain the effects of blur, and at 12th level you also gain the effects of haste.
Boa: Beginning at 4th level, you gain a +1 natural armor bonus to AC. At 7th level, and every four levels thereafter, this bonus increases by +1. At 6th level you gain damage reduction 2/bludgeoning, piercing or slashing, determined by you when you enter desperation mode. At 12th level, and again at 18th level, this damage reduction increases by 2.
Anaconda: Beginning at 8th level, you gain a +2 bonus to weapon damage rolls against Large or Huge targets and a +4 bonus to weapon damage rolls against Gargantuan or bigger targets. At 11th level, and every three levels thereafter, these bonuses increase by +1 and +2 respectively. At 10th level you also ignore half of the damage reduction of any creature you attack, and at 18th level you ignore all damage reduction.
Cobra: Beginning at 12th level, any creature you hit with a weapon or spell attack takes a -2 penalty to damage rolls until the beginning of your next turn. If you hit a creature with multiple attacks, these penalties stack. This cannot reduce an attack’s damage below half its original damage. At 17th level this penalty increases to -4.
Hydra: Beginning at 16th level, once per turn you may reroll any attack roll. At 19th level you may reroll two attack rolls per turn.
Limit Break (Su): You can spend all your energy on a single devastating move. Beginning at 3rd level you can end your desperation mode as a standard action to use one of the following abilities:
Black Mamba: Make one melee attack against every enemy within a radius of your reach plus five feet. This radius increases by 5 feet per three levels beyond 3rd.
Boa: Make one melee attack against an adjacent target. This attack deals 2d8 damage plus 1d8 points of damage for every two levels you possess. A successful attack also immobilizes the target, and a missed attack halves the target’s speed. At the end of each of the target’s turns it can make a Fortitude save to end this effect. The DC of this save is equal to 10 + 1/2 your level + your Constitution modifier.
Anaconda: Make one melee attack. This attack deals normal damage and affects the target based on its size. The DC of this ability is equal to 10 + 1/2 your level + your Constitution modifier.
Medium or smaller: The target is knocked prone (Fortitude save negates).
Large: The target is nauseated for 1 round (Fortitude save reduces to knocked prone).
Huge: The target is dazed for 1 round (Fortitude save reduces to nauseated).
Gargantuan: The target is stunned for 1d4 rounds (Fortitude save reduces to 1 round).
Colossal or larger: The target is unconscious for 1d4 rounds (Fortitude save reduces to 1 round).
Cobra: Make one melee attack. This attack deals normal damage and also deals 1d6 Strength damage, 1d6 Dexterity damage, and 1d6 Constitution damage.
Hydra: Make one melee attack. If this attack hits, make another attack. You may repeat this ability until you miss with an attack.
Expanded Pool (Su): As your situation changes, so can the sword’s magic. At 5th level and every two levels thereafter, add a weapon special ability to the list of abilities you can add to your weapon using your arcane pool. The ability you add cannot have a bonus higher than one-fourth your class level.
Strength from Harm (Ex): Your health is a resource you can trade like any other. Beginning at 6th level, when you make an attack roll you can sacrifice hit points equal to one-half your level. If you do, you gain a +2 bonus to the attack roll. You may use this ability after you roll, possibly turning a failure into a success. At 10th level you can use this ability on skill checks and the bonus increases to +3. At 14th level you can use this ability on saving throws and the bonus increases to +4.
Clutch Tactics (Ex): You and your allies are a well-oiled machine. Beginning at 7th level, your flanking bonus on attack rolls increases to +4. At 13th level, allies also gain this ability when they flank with you.
Spell Conversion (Su): Elemental energy is all the same, really. Beginning at 10th level, when you cast a spell that does damage you can spend a point from your arcane pool to change the energy type of that damage. You can change a spell to acid, cold, electricity, or fire damage. You can also change a spell to sonic or typeless damage, but the spell’s damage dice size decreases by one step.
Field Research (Ex): You find new enemies fascinating. Beginning at 9th level, you deal 1d6 bonus damage when you attack a creature at maximum hit points. At 12th level, and every three levels thereafter, this bonus damage increases by 1d6.
Never Disabled (Su): You have no interest in life without magic. Beginning at 14th level, you can cast instantaneous spells in places where no magic exists, like the area of an antimagic field. Also, creatures take a -4 penalty to any attempts to counter your spells.
Live for the Clutch (Su): A fallen ally is a sufficient reason to go all out. Beginning at 18th level, you can enter desperation mode when an ally dies or falls unconscious, regardless of your hit point total. When you enter desperation mode in this way, you remain in desperation mode until your ally is alive and conscious, you fall unconscious, or the encounter ends.
Spirit of Four (Su): Your skill at magic is such that it transcends the limits of your body. Beginning at 20th level, you can hold the charge for up to three spells at a time. Essentially, you have two “spirit hands” that can hold charges while leaving your physical hands free for other tasks, including holding another charge. When you touch an object, you can decide to expend any one of your held charges.