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I was thinking about the similarities between a character I was making and one from the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson, when the idea to make a magic item that replicated the effects of one of the powers in that series, Gold Feruchemy, which allows the user to store their health in pieces of gold, becoming sickly while storing, in order to be able to draw on the stored health later to heal faster. So I made this:

Bracers of Stored Health

Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)

These ornate golden bracers can store the wearer's health for later use. While wearing the bracers, you can use an action to take one of the following actions:

Store. You store 1 hit die into the bracers. After taking this action, you have disadvantage on Constitution saves for 2 rounds, and take 1 extra damage for each die rolled to deal damage to you in the same time frame. This effect stacks with consecutive uses of this action. A long rest will not restore any hit dice stored up to an hour before starting the rest.

Tap. You can roll up to 5 stored hit dice, healing for that amount. Alternatively, you can spend 1 hit die to cancel the debuff from 1 use of the Store action, or 3 hit dice to cure yourself of 1 disease or condition that is affecting you. The condition can be blinded, deafened, paralyzed, or poisoned.

Some potential balancing options that I thought of are:

  • If the Store action is too underpowered, making the Store action a bonus action instead.

  • If the Store action is too overpowered, change it so that you instead store over a short or long rest, storing as many hit die as you want. Hit die stored during a long rest are not restored by it. The debuff would last for 10 minutes x the number of hit die stored, starting after the rest ends.

  • Increasing/reducing the maximum number of hit die that can be used when taking the Tap action.

  • Making it so that the Tap action can't be taken on two consecutive turns.

Does this seem balanced as it is, or does it need changes, either by making one of the listed changes or by doing something else I didn't think of?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Just as a note, because you're relatively new here: if you do decide to fix your item based on feedback provided and try again, please do so in a follow-up question, rather than editing this one. I believe you're also supposed to wait a couple of days between revs to make sure that you're leaving adequate time to get feedback. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ben Barden
    Aug 11 '20 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you're multiclassed and have several kinds of hit dice, do you have to keep track of which ones were stored? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Aug 11 '20 at 18:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, you would need to keep track of which ones were stored, though only really for ones of different types \$\endgroup\$ Aug 11 '20 at 18:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ A pair of Meta posts relevant to what @BenBarden mentioned: How can I ask a good homebrew review question?, How should I ask about my D&D 5e Homebrew being balanced? \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Aug 12 '20 at 7:49
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This is profoundly unbalanced as written. During downtime days, as written, the item permits the user to pour unlimited numbers of hit dice into the bracers. All you have to do is ensure that you don't end the day with less than half your maximum number of hit dice, and that you finish storing at least an hour before you go to sleep, and you're losing nothing for the next day. You can then tap those whenever you like for major blocks of healing and/or curing the blinded/deafened/paralyzed/poisoned conditions.

The cost of storing is meaningless because no one's going to take the Store action while in combat anyway. There's no reason to, and actions in combat are far too precious to spend unnecessarily. If they're safe enough to store, then the couple of rounds won't matter. Spending a die to cancel the debuff is if anything even more pointless, because then you're burning the die you just stored in order to get rid of the (minimal) side effects of storing it. Between that and the action cost, it means that you're effectively burning a hit die and two actions in order to give yourself a durability penalty for a round while in combat. It's just a terrible idea all around.

In order to have any hope of being balanced, there needs to be a serious limit on how many hit dice can be stored in the thing. Either there's an explicit cap, or the hit dice that are stored in the thing simply don't refresh while stored. The way that gets handled is going to be a significant part of how balanced it is and for what rarity. When the answer is "there is no limit", it breaks the HP economy and therefore cannot be balanced. None of your proposed fixes address that core issue in any meaningful way, and therefore none of them are particularly pertinent here.

For where to put the hit die cap, if you want to go that route? Well, the ring of spell storing is an attuned rare item (a very nice attuned rare item) that can store up to 5 spell levels in a somewhat similar way. Those spell levels could be healing spells (but generally aren't). Figure out how much healing you could reasonably get from packing one of those things full, and that's a floor... because the ring of spell storing is way more flexible than that. For another benchmark, compare it to the max cap of the staff of healing (using only 9 charges rather than 10, because you don't want to risk a 5% chance of it just vanishing). That, too, is an attuned rare item, and its ability to heal others makes it somewhat more flexible, but it's getting closer. The "staff possibly vanishing" and "only cleric/druid/bard" aspects bring it down a bit.

As a sidenote, by my understanding of Brandon Sanderson's work, this sort of thing may be a recurring problem with trying to convert his ideas into magical items for 5e. 5e is pretty careful about not letting things break the system. Sanderson is all about having people take the powers they have access to and figure out ways to use them to break the system. The two philosophies don't mesh particularly well.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I came for the ruling, but stayed for the comparative literary criticism. Well done. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 11 '20 at 18:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Aug 13 '20 at 19:52
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This encourages boring play patterns.

Suppose you're level L, and your mean hit die result is H (so if the die is a d10, H = 5.5 + Con mod).

Every day, you recover L/2 hit dice. You can reasonably expect to have 15×L hit dice in the bracers per month that you've owned the bracers, with no limit. (Subtract any hit dice you spent, but how many days per month do you spend adventuring hard enough that you needed to spend hit dice?)

Your maximum hit points are a little above L×H, and you can recover 5×H with the Tap action. So to be a serious threat, an enemy has to do one of:

  • Put out 5×H damage per round, sustained, to outpace your healing*, or at least force you to heal every round instead of taking another action. If you limit the Tap action to every other round then this becomes 2.5×H, which is still quite large. Meanwhile, you will still occasionally get to attack, so this leads to protracted battles of attrition in which the only question is how many stored hit dice you burn through.
  • Put out > L×H damage and one-shot you. For some reason some groups consider it bad form for the DM to throw them against monsters that will one-shot them; it's more likely this would happen as a result of getting swarmed.
  • Have some attack that prevents you from healing, like chill touch or a vampire bite. Of course that attack probably doesn't hit very hard, and it won't hit every time, giving you chances to heal up.
  • Have the endurance to outlast the bracers. This is the other bad play pattern: the fact that your only important limitation is running out of stored HD encourages you to take long stretches of downtime doing literally nothing.

Which is to say this guy will play exactly like a gold feruchemist: long stretches of doing nothing so that you can solve all problems by beating them to death with your face.

Possibly fixing it

The usual problem with paying hit points as a cost is that it's too easy to get hit points back. This problem is similar, just on a larger and slower scale.

A change I'd consider in this case is that you don't regain hit dice that are stored. The bracers are cool because they let you burn hit dice to survive an immediate threat, instead of having to survive the threat first and then take a short rest. This still lets you punch significantly above your weight--it's like the monk's Wholeness of Body feature, but for more HP (if your Con modifier is at least +2 then it's not possible to heal less than 3 times your level) and you can break it up and use it several times for lesser amounts of healing. By comparison to Wholeness of Body it's almost surely still overpowered, but hey, it's a powerful magic item.

This still has the problem that the cost of putting hit dice into the bracers is negligible; you might as well store all your hit dice after each long rest and never need a short rest again. It also undoes the work that short rests are trying to do in preventing 5-minute adventuring days: now you can get into a fight, be overpowered by blowing all your hit dice, go take a long rest. (Thus putting you on par with spellcasters!) I don't think there's a great solution to this because, again, five-minute adventuring days are pretty much the whole point of gold feruchemists.

*There's still the chance that you'll roll badly on the hit dice and then take a crit, but you know, you could do the same to them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In conjunction with the discussion in the comments of Ben's answers, I have come up with a few ideas for a more balanced version: \$\endgroup\$ Aug 11 '20 at 21:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ First, use the store during a rest ruling that I suggested, but with an extra caveat of only being able to store up to half of your current hit die(current meaning the amount unspent before the rest). Second, reduce the number of hit die used in the Tap action to 3. Third, give it a maximum of 9 + half your level stored dice. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 11 '20 at 21:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure what the first limitation is supposed to change. Instead of storing half my hit dice every day, I get to store half of them every other day, so it takes twice as long to charge up. But how quickly it charges is not really the issue. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Aug 11 '20 at 21:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ And the third limitation just means that this player will refuse to go anywhere until they've got their bracer charged up to the maximum. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark Wells
    Aug 11 '20 at 21:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Adding a maximum number of storable hit die prevents the issue of "the party has had a week of downtime, so now the user can heal way too much". Also hit die have seen very little use in the campaigns I've played in, with the only notable time they got used being when one party was fighting their way through a goddess' castle to kill her, so I'm fully expecting players to just not care about the fact that a long rest only restores half of the spent die and store all their die anyways, unless their DM is known for many harsh encounters or lots of encounters between long rests \$\endgroup\$ Aug 11 '20 at 21:56
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I love the idea of trying to re-create this ability!

There's a tension between thematic ideas and mechanical systems to navigate here, but I reckon that it's resolvable.

Others have pointed out the flaws with your approach, so I'd like to suggest some constructive ideas to implement the ability in line with the effect in the book.

Storing:

Storing health in the rings was a consuming process, not a thing to do in a single action. Consider this sort of approach:

Store: once per day during a short rest you may spend half your hit dice max to add a charge to the Bracer.

Spending half your hit dice pool is a risk as it limits the character's ability to heal that day without having further risk the next day. It's not insurmountable with all sorts of magic and potions available, but it is mechanically and thematically interesting.

Limiting it to one charge per day reduces the scope for abuse and gives you a measure for how powerful the charges should be. Separating "hit dice" from "charges" conceptually also makes it more flexible in terms of how the bracer is to be used and what healing effects it has; they don't have to be 1:1 mapped.

Spending:

For spending the charges, lets put a bunch of thematically consistent ideas on the table:

  • action: heal damage (proportional to charges spent, could be an equivalent number of hit dice)
  • action: gain temp hp (proportional to charges spent, perhaps equivalent number of hit dice divided by 2)
  • action: temp bonus to a physical stat (CON, STR, DEX) (+1, lasts one round per charge spent)
  • reaction: advantage on a physical stat check
  • reaction: advantage on a physical stat saving throw
  • action: cure physical disease or status effect

The more options offered the trickier it will be to ensure everything is balanced with itself, but also the more fun it would be to play with, which is probably the most important thing at the end of the day.

The charge cost of these abilities is something you'd want to tweak for your adventure:

  • Do you get a lot of down-time between quests, so you can build up a pool of charges? More expensive abilities mean you have to balance how fast you burn through a pool that only slowly regenerates.
  • Mostly continuous questing? Then a 1:1 charge to cost ratio might be more appropriate, giving you the option to spend as you go or save up over a couple of sessions to have that extra oomf for the Big Bad.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Those are some very good suggestions, I think I'll mix them with some of the changes that I discussed in the comments of Ben and Mark's answers \$\endgroup\$ Aug 12 '20 at 13:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ I like these charging limits - in addition I'd also limit the total number of die stored to a maximum of maybe 1/2 your level (rounded down). For a further "cost" to storing - you also gain one level of exhaustion that goes away at the end of a short or long rest. Ie - useful, not broken, but makes you think very carefully about using it if you might get attacked... \$\endgroup\$
    – Rycochet
    Aug 12 '20 at 16:40
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This item is hardly balanced. Here are my fix suggestions.


This homebrew item has 2 main problems:

  1. Unlimited charges

    As @BenBarden points out in his answer, there is no cap on the number of hit dice that can be stored, nor how often they can be stored.

  2. Storing a charge is basically free

    Storing a charge comes at no real cost due to A) there being no cap on the quantity stored, and B) it being basically instant, and C) the fact that a creature won't be out adventuring every day, giving it ample time to build up extra charges.


Important factors to consider:

  • You regain half your total hit dice after finishing a Long Rest.
  • You can spend hit dice on a short rest to heal, as many as you have available.
  • This is a Rare-tier item, and so should be a significant advantage to the creature using it, not a net neutral or even a disadvantage.

A possible solution:

  1. Run it on a charge system. It has a maximum number of charges equal to half your hit dice, rounded up. It automatically refreshes to 3 charges (or the maximum if lower) after a finishing Long Rest.

  2. You can spend hit dice after completing a Long or Short Rest to add/restore charges to the bracers (this happens after the Long Rest reset). This can be done during the same rest that you attune to the item. When a new creature attunes to this item, all charges are lost, and the creature must spend hit dice to charge it if they wish to gain any use of it before it automatically recharges after their next Long Rest. If a creature attunes to this during a Long Rest, then the charges will refresh as normal at the end of the rest. This is intended to prevent the wizard, who hides in the back mostly out of danger, from storing a bunch of charges in it, and handing it off to the fighter to attune to on a short rest for piles of free healing.

  3. Charges can be spent in the following ways:

    • Spend 1 charge as a Bonus Action to remove the Poisoned, Blinded, or Deafened Condition.
    • Spend 3 charges as an Action to remove the Charmed or Frightened Condition.
    • Spend any number of charges as a Bonus Action to recover 5 hit points per charge spent.
    • During a Short Rest spend charges to roll that many hit dice for healing. These can be hit dice from any class you have (after all, this is an item for storing hit dice)
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  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem with generating charges for free is that the thing this is based off is all about storing aspects of yourself, making yourself weaker during the storing process, in order to draw on them later to go beyond your natural capabilities. Also with the wizard hiding and filling the bracers to give to the fighter later, I forgot a thing that's important: all stored die are wiped if the user becomes unattuned to it. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 11 '20 at 21:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DiamcreepProductions The problem is, this item should have a net benefit to the user, which means any downside has to be outweighed by the upside for it to be worth using, otherwise, it'll get tossed in the trash. If the downside is strong, then the upside has to be stronger to make it useable, and you can run the risk of making the item completely OP if the downside is to easily circumvented. Plus, giving a flat number of free charges daily will give a minimum for how much it can do in a day, which will have a side benefit of making it easier to balance. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 12 '20 at 12:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DiamcreepProductions I'm unfamiliar with the series that this item is from, but having read a few other answers, I feel like I have a general idea of the theme you're going for. I'm going to add a second answer with... a radically different approach to balancing this item. My first suggestion on it is going to be: making this item Artifact-tier. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 12 '20 at 12:49
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You don't want this item to be balanced

As pointed out by others, this item as described is fundamentally unbalanced. In the Mistborn series, the Lord Ruler uses this ability in fundamentally unbalanced ways - if I remember correctly, it lets him rule unchallenged for millennia. If you want to recreate the books, this item needs to have a similarly unbalanced effect - as you point out, a hard cap on health stored would ruin that.

D&D can handle unbalanced quest items, if you're careful about it. Firstly, I would only include an item like this if a (the) major campaign villain starts off with it, and the players have can only get it by taking it off them. Once the players have it, it needs to act as a "win this encounter" ability. As I see it, you don't want to prevent the players using it in this fashion. (With that said, for this to work like the books, storing health should leave people incapacitated for weeks, not hours. It should be a matter of "I have less health this adventure because I want the item to work.")

D&D can handle unbalanced items

My first suggestion would be to put a random chance of the item breaking every time the players use it like this. I would let people store Hit Die freely, and maybe you can get some 'reasonable' number of hit die from it safely, to simulate how the Mistborn protagonists use it. But if you want to remove more charges than that at once (between long or short rests, or maybe within any seven days to create a pseudo-"per adventure" cap), there's a 1 in 3 chance the item will break, give the character all the stored Hit Dice, and never work again. If you go this way, I would probably make the villain have two such items (or more items with a higher breaking chance), so the players aren't worried they'll lose it after one use. For a thematic, game-breaking item like this, you want the players to agonise over whether to use it, much more often than they actually use it.

The other option is to impose an XP cost, if they use it too heavily. That would be a cop-out, and change the nature of the item from "if you prepare, you can win everything" to "winning at a price, just like lots of spells". Maybe the item is full of dark thoughts left behind by the previous owner, and their minds struggle to retain their humanity.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If this item is as powerful as you're saying, maybe it should be an Artifact. I mean, if it let a guy rule for thousands of years, then it's probably Artifact tier strength, and one of the things that Artifacts are known for is having massive boons while also having significant downsides. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 12 '20 at 12:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @RevenantBacon The thing that let the Lord Ruler be functionally immortal was this item, plus a similar one that stored Youth, both mixed with an effect called Compounding which makes the item give back ten times what was put in \$\endgroup\$ Aug 12 '20 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DiamcreepProductions Yeah, making someone immortal (or giving them eternal youth) definitely sounds like an Artifact tier power, even if it is only in combination with a second item (which would probably also be an Artifact). Plus, Artifacts having downsides is built-in to the Artifact creation guidelines. Do you plan on adding this second item to your campaign as well? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 12 '20 at 13:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nah, the second item would be basically useless in most campaigns, and in-universe it was literally made out of a metal that is the body of one of the world's gods. It's not designed for use in a dnd campaign. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 12 '20 at 13:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user7868: This item is supposed to be just gold ferruchemy, without burning it allomantically (compounding) like the Lord Ruler did. That's why it relies on your natural healing (HD recovery). Sazed and all full ferruchemists could do this. (He'd often have a cold / flu while storing health. So level of exhaustion would be reasonable, as suggested in another comment.) It takes a really long time to store an amount of health that's useful in combat, IIRC from the books. D&D 5e characters heal insanely quickly compared to real humans. From chopped to bits to full overnight. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 13 '20 at 9:05
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Lots of good answers here, but I thought I'd add my thoughts.

Storing should be much more expensive. Maybe a single charge/die costs an entire day of being under the weather.

Second -- I would not make that storage last indefinitely. Stored health is like a loaf of bread -- it goes bad after some time. I would figure out a time frame (perhaps once a week) at which the oldest stored die is lost. Thus, you can't simply charge it up and two years later have it ready to go. You have to be sickly at least once a week just to keep it where it is.

Edit to add: and yes, cap it. At minimum, cap it at the person's actual hit dice. If you have three hit dice, you can't store more than three hit dice in the device.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ An interesting variation on the concept is to make it an emergency device for preventing death. That is, if a person is reduced to the point of death the device automatically kicks in and injects them with the stored health \$\endgroup\$
    – Stephen R
    Aug 13 '20 at 17:47

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