I have created a homebrew magic item and I want to know where potential confusion from readers may lie so I can remedy and make the description clearer. I am not looking for content critiques in this question, just an answer to what is unclear or confusing about this description?

Qua'an

Artifact greataxe, requires attunement

This blood-red greataxe thrums with power even from a few feet away. While holding Qua'an, you may tap into its strength to gain power for yourself. When you do so, you are not affected by corruption for 1 hour, during which you gain the extra effects listed below. After the duration, you resume being affected by corruption and risk gaining another point.

Strength of the Dark. You have a bonus to your Strength score equal to the number of corruption points you have.

Heavy Blow. When you take the attack action, you can choose to forfeit your attacks for one very powerful attack. If you hit the one attack, it does damage as if you had hit every attack in your normal attack action plus an additional point of damage for each point of corruption you have.

Cleave. You may use your action to cleave in a cone in front of you, dealing Xd10 necrotic damage to everything within a 5*X foot cone, where X is the number of corruption points you have. There is no save for this damage. If this damage drops a creature to 0 hit points, the creature is cut in half. If the creature cannot survive while cut in half, it is killed instantly. You may use this feature only once during the duration of power unless you tap into the power further. Each time you tap in further, you risk gaining another corruption point and immediately gain the use back.

Blood Thirst. You are aware of whether there is at least one living creature within 5*X feet of you. When you have at least 1 point of corruption, you know the number of creatures, when you have at least 5 points of corruption, you know the direction of any given creature, and when you have at least 9 points, you know the distance between you and every creature within range as well.


Corruption affects each creature differently. When you first reach 1 (mild), 5 (moderate), and 9 (severe) points of corruption, roll 1d8. You gain that negative effect, which persists so long as you have over that level of corruption points. (The effect is locked in)

[The corruption table was impossible to format here, just know that for each level (mild, moderate, severe) there are 8 options.]

I took everything but the time at which you gain a new corruption level from this rule set by Matthew Mercer on the DMs guild.

closed as primarily opinion-based by NautArch, Jason_c_o, Szega, David Coffron, doppelgreener Jul 12 at 17:31

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I'm not sure this is answerable without understanding your homebrew Corruption mechanic. – NautArch Jul 12 at 16:06
  • Do you have a link so we can read it in the original format? – David Coffron Jul 12 at 16:09
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    Your post should explain the Corruption mechanic before the text of the item description. It's confusing to start reading the post and immediately not know what is being referred to as "Corruption", only figuring it out post-hoc at the end of the item description. This isn't necessarily a critique of the item description itself—I haven't finished parsing it yet—but you should make that adjustment to the post so that readers are less confused by what you're presenting. – Xirema Jul 12 at 16:12
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    Are you asking "What is unclear...?" because one of your fellow players had trouble understanding? What did they have trouble with, if so? – Jason_c_o Jul 12 at 16:32
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    Just include the table best you can, maybe using the code block formatting (the button with {} on it in the editor, or just put four spaces before each line) to make columns, and other users can edit to format it nicely. – SevenSidedDie Jul 12 at 16:33
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I'll go through each section one at a time

Introduction

What is the mechanic for tapping into the power? Do you speak a command word? This should be made explicit (I have a sample revision below with an example in brackets).

Additionally, you can find a small revision to fit in in with the writing style of Wizards of the Coast. The changes include capitalizing corruption, replacing "extra effects" with properties, and specifically outlining how you would gain corruption. I also mention tapping in again, which is relevant for the Cleave property.

Suggested Revision

This blood-red greataxe thrums with power even from a few feet away. While holding Qua'an, you may [speak its command word to] tap into its strength to gain power for yourself. When you do so, you are not affected by your current Corruption level for 1 hour, and the axe gains the properties listed below.

After the duration, you resume being affected by corruption, the axe loses its extra properties, and you must make a Wisdom saving throw. The DC of the saving throw is dependent on the character's current Corruption level as seen in the Corruption Save DC table [append table]. If you choose to tap into the axe's strength during the duration, the duration does not refresh and you immediately make a saving throw in the same way.

Strength of the Dark

This property seems fine, but should be changed to lie in the same wording the Wizards of the Coast uses for magic items. Although, you may also wish to include a notice on whether this increase can go beyond the 20 cap for adventurers (I put this revision in brackets, using 24 as a baseline, if it was intended).

Suggested Revision

You gain a bonus to Strength equal to your current Corruption level. [This property can increase your Strength to a maximum of 24.]

Heavy Blow

The biggest confusion here is the meaning of "as if you had hit every attack in your normal attack action". This clause can change a lot depending on a few circumstances such as feats, whether or not someone uses limited features such as Divine Smite, and changing damages for each attack (such as the usage of Death Strike where the target gets a save against each attack). I do not offer a revision here as it is unclear your intent, but it needs to be made more explicit.

Cleave

Using multipliers like this is not a common occurrence and should be worded very differently. I chose to word it in a similar way to Casting at Higher Levels. See below. A mention of tapping in again is mentioned in the introduction revision.

Suggested Revision

As long as you have a Corruption level of at least 1, you may use your action to cleave in a cone in front of you. You deal 1d10 necrotic damage to each creature in a 5 foot cone from you. For each level of Corruption beyond the first, this damage increases by 1d10 and the cone's length increases by 5. If this damage reduces a creature to 0 hit points, it is cut in half. A creature dies if it can't survive while cut in half.

Once you use this feature, you must tap into the axe's strength before you can use it again.

Blood Thirst

This property requires similar revisions to Cleave. I based my revision on the Paladin's Divine Sense feature and Casting at Higher Levels. See below.

Suggested Revisions

As long as you have a Corruption level of at least 1, you can detect the presence of any living creature within 5 feet of you. You also know the number of creatures in that range. For each Corruption level beyond the first, this distance increases by 5 feet.

If your Corruption level is at least 5, you know the direction to each creature detected in this way. If your Corruption level is at least 9, you know the distance to each creature detected in this way.

In Conclusion

The easiest thing to do to ensure your homebrew makes sense is to take examples from official (or semi-official, such as homebrews from the designers) sources and use the same language of similar features.

This description raises the following questions:

This blood-red greataxe thrums with power even from a few feet away.

A few feet away from what? Does it stop thrumming if you move away? Does it thrum the entire time you pick it up?

While holding Qua'an, you may tap into its strength to gain power for yourself. When you do so,

Does this take an action? How often can I use it? What stops me using the item's power every hour? Why not have it permanent, if it's an artifact?

you are not affected by corruption for 1 hour, during which you gain the extra effects listed below.

The player may or may not be familiar with your corruption mechanic. It would be more standard to say "You gain immunity to Corruption" or somesuch.

After the duration, you resume being affected by corruption

It's not necessary to say this if you already defined the immunity duration to 1 hour.

and risk gaining another point.

You risk gaining a point? How does this risk work? Do you roll a saving throw and gain a point on failure? Are you merely vulnerable again?

I think the main source of confusion on my first reading is exactly when the "hour of power" starts and how often it can occur.

While holding Qua'an, you may tap into its strength to gain power for yourself. When you do so, you are not affected by corruption for 1 hour...

So the hour starts as soon as you 'hold' the axe (does hold mean wield it)? If you put the weapon down then pick it up again do you get another hour? If not, when does it reset so you can use it again?

Heavy attack also needs some clarification as there are multiple ways you can gain additional attacks from class features, spells etc

When you do so, you are not affected by corruption for 1 hour, during which you gain the extra effects listed below.

Make the "not affected by corruption" effect one of the enumerated effects, don't lump it into this sentence.

When you do so, you gain the following effects for one hour:

Corrupt One. You do not suffer the normal effects of Corruption. You can still accumulate and lose Corruption Points as normal.

(The other Effects)

Strength of the Dark

You should clarify here whether these bonuses gained to Strength are allowed to exceed the normal limit of 20 imposed on player characters. Item bonuses usually are allowed to exceed 20, but items also often don't confer flat bonuses, and instead simply "set" the PC's stat to a given score. Clarity here is probably beneficial.

Blood Thirst

Should clarify that X is the number of corruption points the wielder has.

General Critique

Individually, aside from the suggestions I gave, I don't think there are any other necessary adjustments.

I do worry, however, that the weapon as a whole is too complicated; there are a lot of different effects to keep track of with only one weapon, and if your campaign has a lot of items in the same flavor as this one, bookkeeping is going to be a nightmare.

I would also say that, as an instinct, I have balance concerns about this weapon, but without a lot more context regarding the power level of your campaign, I can't justify including those concerns here (not least of which that they would be off-topic for your question posed).

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