I created a new weapon for the barbarian of the party I am DMing. They are in the 2nd tier of playing, they are all at level 7, in a couple of session they will level up. I would like to give the barbarian a ranged weapon thematically close to her fighting style but also related to some past events linked to the main plot, events that the party still does not know.
The reason why I created this weapon is because she desired to have a good ranged weapon in case she can not reach immediately, i.e. in the first round of combat, the heat of the battle (and sometimes it happened). She uses two handaxes in melee combat and tried to use javelins for ranged attacks, but we felt that this kind of weapon does not fit with the character. I hence came up with the following item:
Handaxe of the storm
Weapon (handaxe), uncommon, requires attunement
The blade of this axe is finely decorated with images of storms and lightning. As a bonus action you can spend one charge and make a ranged weapon attack, throwing the axe: on a hit, the target takes 1d6+1 slashing damage, and suddenly within a thunderous boom dozens of replicas of this axe appear in a cone of 15 ft. The point of origin is chosen by the attacker. Each creature, except the target, in this cone must succeed a DEX saving throw (DC 13) or take 1d6 slashing damages. The replicas then disappear.
The item has 3 charges, that restore each day at dawn.
When used for a ranged attack, this axe counts as a magic weapon, whilst when it is used for melee attacks counts as a mundane weapon.
The range is the one of a normal handaxe (20/60 ft).
Once in possess of this weapon, she will have 3 handaxes: this one, a mundane one and a magical one (+1 to attack rolls and damage). My idea is hence that she can throw this one and draw the other non magical one and then enter in melee combat. The images on the blade are linked to the plot events mentioned at the beginning.
Down below I provide some explanation of the characteristics of this weapon.
Cost: it takes one bonus action because I wanted to allow her to have the opportunity to do something different in the rest of her turn. It felt that activating the item on an attack (hence taking the Attack action) was too demanding.
Damage: I decided to not increase drastically the damage for the ranged attack, since I think that allowing to hit several creatures whit one ranged attack is good enough for a fighter with no magic abilities (see the inspiration for this weapon in the last point of this list).
AoE activates only on a hit: at the beginning I design that the replicas appear automatically, and all the creatures in the area must succeed on the saving throw. I modify in the current version for accounting the ability of the character to hit.
The weapon is magical only for ranged attack: the character already has a magic weapon, hence I did not want to allow two magic weapons at this tier.
Spell-like effect: this weapon takes inspiration from the Conjure Volley spell, but I decided to heavily underpower it. I decided to lowering both the AoE and the damage since this class is dealing a lot of damage: indeed, under the current design, she can throw this axe then reach the enemies and still make two attacks with her action, provided she has enough movement left.
Down below I list all the doubts that I have, seeking for advice from the RPG.SE collective wisdom and to check if there are any issues that I do not see.
Cost: using this item costs a Bonus Action, in this way she has to decide to use it or enter in rage in her turn. This decision requires a little bit if strategy and it will depend on each battle. Is it a good design or is it better to activate the main property of this item with an attack coming from an Attack Action?
AoE, damage, DC: are the cone area and the damage dealt suitable for this kind of weapon? I did not want to create a weapon that works like a spell, nor that creates unbalancing in the party increasingly too much the damage dealt by the barbarian. This is the reason why I set a low DC.
Charges: is it ok to limit the usage of charges? Is 3 a suitable number? Take into account that I do not plan to make more than 4-5 encounters between long rests.
Power up: due to plot reasons, I plan to power up this weapon, giving the returning property (Mjolnir anyone?). But this will be in the future, around 3-4 levels ahead.
The above are my main concerns: maybe there are others that I do not see.
The rest of the party (with their relevant magic items) is the following.
- Two druids. Relevant items: Staff of the Python, Necklace of Prayer Beads (Bless, Cure Wounds Lesser Restoration). One of them has a sling that rarely uses.
- A fighter with a magic longsword (+1) and a Sentinel Shield. Rarely she uses a longbow.
- A wizard with a couple of scrolls (1st-2nd level, Mage Armor and Enlarge/Reduce) and the last bead from a Necklace of Fireballs.
- A rogue with a magic shortsword (+1) and a shortbow.
In conclusion: is this a suitable weapon for a 2nd tier Barbarian?