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Background

I'm playing a mid-level Artificer (Artillerist) who's a disgruntled veteran with a missing limb. Disillusioned by the leaders' willingness to send soldiers to their deaths, he has retired from the army and opened a shop. An adventure hook has people steal his work-in-progress masterpiece. I now need to find a fitting item that he was trying to create.

Because of this background, the item he would be most interested in would be something that helps ordinary soldiers (those who have no magic powers) survive the horrors of the battlefield. It can be something that protects a group of people from hostile spells or something that provides healing to them, similar to the artificer's Protector cannon.

Criteria

  • I would prefer to use an officially published item before resorting to homebrew (UA is probably fine, as is basic refluffing of a current item)
  • The item must be below legendary rank - very rare at most
  • I probably won't be held to strict prerequisites such as being able to cast every spell going into the items myself, but the item should still basically fit the artificer flavour
  • The item should be usable by someone who cannot cast spells
  • The item should be able to affect a group, not just the carrier
  • The item should be defensive in nature

The quality of an answer that fulfills these criteria can be judged by:

  • How many people can receive protection or healing (either by number or by range of the effect)
  • How often and for how long can this ability be used
  • How powerful is this protection or healing (i.e. does it provide invulnerability, immunity, resistance, disadvantage, a bonus to AC or Saving throws and of what magnitude (here enumerated in roughly descending order), or in case of healing how many HP or temp.HP are provided, does it regenerate lost limbs and how fast)
  • What kind of effect does it provide protection from, with higher value being things that are common on the battlefied and hard to defend against otherwise (saving throws are more valuable than AC, because mundane armour and shields can provide AC as well, protection against magic is usually of higher value than protection against attacks, protection against common AoEs like Fireball may be more valuable to groups of ordinary soldiers than protection against Finger of Death etc.)

My own research

I've gone through the "warding" and "healing" categories of magic items on D&D Beyond and found very little. There are almost no items that work on groups and those that do tend to be musical instruments or magic staves that need the user to be a spellcaster.

In general it seems that antimagic items aren't really a thing in 5e. An item that can cast Antimagic Field on would probably be in the legendary category and a Ring of Spell Storing would again require a (powerful) spellcaster to be useful.

An ideal solution would be something like a banner of protection or an Eldritch Cannon: Protector that doesn't need an artificer to be present. I've also considered something like a Ring of Regeneration, but that's again a one-person item and I need it to protect a group.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I added criteria than can be objectively measured to some degree. \$\endgroup\$ – Pahlavan Sep 30 '20 at 12:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ That sounds like "Good Subjective" though, and it'll arguably be useful, since protecting groups of mundanes from magical warfare is a subject that can come up in lots of D&D campaigns. \$\endgroup\$ – Pahlavan Sep 30 '20 at 12:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ For those who answer, please remember to support your answers by addressing the goals of the OP. We're not looking for idea generation here, but for directly applicable and why \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 1 '20 at 14:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ This question is being discussed on meta: Is this question about equipping ordinary soldiers with magical equipment opinion based? \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Oct 1 '20 at 14:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's great that the community came together to downvote and delete unsupported answers - let's make sure we do this outside of this question as well. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 5 '20 at 15:03
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Nothing screams "Onward to victory, lowly cannon fodder!" like carrying a giant banner into battle. It was the first thing that popped into my mind when thinking about something a squad of soldiers without magical abilities would use to bolster their whole team/army.

Sadly, there's not a lot of those in D&D 5e (or I'm just no good at finding them) but I did find one that seems a great fit for what you want:

The Banner of the Krig Rune.

This item is found in Storm King's Thunder, it's a Rare Wondrous item, and whoever is holding it can plant it down to temporarily grant immunity to being frightened and disadvantage to ranged attacks made against anyone standing near it.

It also serves as a perfect template to make your own battle standards, should you find this one isn't entirely to your liking and you go down the homebrew path.

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    \$\begingroup\$ There is a similar battle standard of infernal power that makes all of the attacks of affected people magical for the purposes of overcoming immunities and resistances \$\endgroup\$ – illustro Sep 30 '20 at 8:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @illustro ...but he's looking for something that will help keep them alive, not something that will convince their commanders to send them out to fight powerful monsters. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Sep 30 '20 at 18:27
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These are what I could find in the DMG:

  • Weapon of warning (p.213)

Protects the whole squad from ambushes. Only uncommon, so might not be suitable as a magnum opus.

  • Cube of force (p.159)

The number of people that can fit in the cube is limited (15ft. on a side, so 9 people), but its protection is absolute and adaptable to the situation.

  • Daern's instant fortress (p.160)

Fortress in your pocket. Get it out, get your people in, mock those outside.

  • Dust of disappearence (p.166)

Make the whole squad invisible for a short while, aiding a retreat. Also only uncommon, and single use, so you would need a steady supply. (You might be creating a portable factory of it maybe?)

  • Eversmoking bottle (p.168)

Conceals the whole squad with smoke. If they then hide in the smoke, it protects from incoming ranged attacks. (Sadly RAW it only cancels possible advantage on the attacks without hiding first.)

  • Rod of alertness (p.196)

You can plant it in the ground for +1 bonus to AC and saves for the whole squad. Only once for 10 minutes per day, though.

  • Rod of security (p.197)

Plucks most of an army from the battlefield to a demiplane where they can heal.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The Horn of Valhalla may be worth including on this list. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Sep 30 '20 at 7:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pleasestopbeingevil That is not a strictly defensive item, the summoned warriors could just attack your foes. I found that not in line with the flavor OP is going for. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Sep 30 '20 at 7:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ A Weapon of Warning is one of the best items in the game, despite being uncommon. \$\endgroup\$ – BlueMoon93 Sep 30 '20 at 9:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BlueMoon93 The author of that list has a real attitude about belts of giant strength, which have been in the game since 1974; I'd view his entire premise with skepticism at best. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 30 '20 at 12:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Wdym? He only comments that they break bounded accuracy, so they're unpriced, right? And bounded accuracy is something only from 5e, I think? PM me if you wanna discuss it \$\endgroup\$ – BlueMoon93 Sep 30 '20 at 12:35

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