The Gavelkind Greaves of Succession

Upon receiving a vision from Tyr of a terrible undead plague, Lord Brick the minotaur paladin decided that a refashioning of the greaves on his Plate Mail of Light was in order.

Firstly, the Greaves increase Brick’s MOV rate by 3.  Their primary effect, however, is achieved through a holy machination of Law and judgment, a protocol that is stippled into their design.  Constructed cleverly to overlap Brick’s Plate Mail of Light, the patterned whorls and holes in the Greaves allow light from Brick’s plate mail to slip through in very specific divine arrangements.  These arrangements enforce, with holy power, any agreement of will and estate established by those who touch them.


In practice, this means that any undead body that, while it was occupied by a living soul, had written up a testament dividing its earthly goods, must save vs. Petrification upon touching the Greaves.  Lawful or controlled undead make their saves at a -4 penalty.  On a fail, undead of HD 6 or less are logicked back into their resting places as normal corpses, by the very fact that their earthly goods have been passed on in accordance with their will, and therefore they, too, must have passed on.  Corpses so affected are shielded by Tyr’s grace from being raised again, unless the Greaves are destroyed.  Undead of HD 7 or higher that fail their saves receive 8d8 damage as though from Holy Water, and any controlling connection to them is severed.


On a pass, an undead of any level has its earthly goods returned to it immediately.  This might very well mean that a large wardrobe, several dozen books and letters, a crate of silverware, other various household goods, and the deed to the house itself appear in neat, ordered stacks and ranks around the undead.  Alternatively, if the deceased’s possessions weigh more than the deceased, the undead is transported to its possessions where they are in greatest concentration, and any scattered possessions join it in the same place.  This might mean that a zombie pops up, along with the contents of a hotel room, in the middle of an enclosure of grazing rothé.


In a society in which written deeds are not used, an undead would not receive the deed to his house, but rather be teleported to the house itself, popping up in its old favourite room.  Any current inhabitants are expelled by invisible force if they fail a saving throw vs spell, unless they were a lawful part of the deceased’s household during its life.


Having passed its save and had its possessions returned to it, there is a 70% chance that the undead will begin to put its possessions to everyday or practical use, by virtue of cell memory.  This figure might be adjusted up or down by up to 30% in accordance with the degree of degradation of the flesh (and therefore the function-memory of its composite cells), the WIS and level of the undead’s controller, or the undead’s inherent Lawful or Chaotic nature.  Popping up in his old study, an archaeologist’s corpse might begin leafing through dig blueprints, pointing at things and making sketches in the margins, without having any actual intelligent thought or reason behind the process.  The aforementioned zombie cattle-owner might start driving his rothé out to pasture, or simply fish out a cigar and start mechanically smoking it.  This behavior will carry on indefinitely, until the possessions are removed, the necromantic animation is dispelled, or the undead is otherwise turned or controlled.


The definition of a binding agreement of will and estate varies dependent on the society by which the creature, in life, was governed.  A pauper of negligible possessions in a bureaucratic and meticulously governed city might leave naught but a chewed-upon cow’s femur to his son.  If the transfer of ownership of animal wastes is not governed by processes of state, and there is furthermore no official documentation beyond tacit processes of inheritance to establish the son as the new owner, the cow’s femur does not render the pauper’s undead corpse vulnerable to the Greaves, and the undead will be immune.


By the same token, an undead Gnoll, having bequeathed the cow’s femur by way of tribal custom to his firstborn, would indeed be vulnerable to the workings of the Greaves.  No will or official documentation is necessary to make the process of succession binding, as the Gnoll’s governing society is devoid of such customs.


Failing its save, the Gnoll corpse would once more be lifeless.  Passing its save, the undead Gnoll would suddenly have the cow’s femur in its hand, and the tribal agreement of succession would be null and void.  In societies wherein such processes are governed by magical means, such as by a witch doctor or a board of clerics, said governors, wherever they are, are liable to feel the change, and perhaps infer that the deceased is no longer, or never was, deceased.


Animal societies may be valid in some cases as well.  If, by the law of the pack, the biggest male gets first pick of the bones and meat in a buried stash left by a deceased hyena, that hyena’s animated corpse would be vulnerable to the effect of the Greaves.


As a rule of thumb, within any group of animated corpses, 70% of them will have societally valid legacies, and will thus be vulnerable to the Greaves.  At the DM’s discretion, this may vary by up to 30%, based on the levels of bureaucracy, intelligence, ritual nature, lawfulness, and poverty, relative to each other, present in the source societies.


Regarding the specifications, provenance and maintenance of the Greaves:  They are crafted with tooled leather and platinum.  The leather was tanned from the underbelly of a golden dragon who, at Tyr’s behest, bequeathed it in his will unto Brick.  The dragon made the caravan arrangements for its transport to the Underdark through use of his innate Quest ability upon a willing troupe of merchants devoted to Tyr.  The platinum ingots were mined from Mount Celestia, and inserted into the heart of the dead dragon, then cut out three days later, weighed upon golden scales, smelted beneath the light of a crescent moon, and then forged into rivets, loops and screws upon a workbench whose surfaces were periodically soaked in holy water and sacred oils.


The greaves are a +2 item for the purposes of magical item saving throws, but do not stack with the +2 AC bonus granted by the Plate Mail of Light.  They weigh 20 pounds together, and engirdle Brick’s legs up to just below the hip, fitting snugly around the ankles of his Boots of Striding.  Each Greave’s total length is 4 feet.


The magic of the Greaves will not work under a shroud of Darkness, or through dense cloth or some other obscuring material, as its performance is dependent upon an exactingly detailed play of light from the plate mail and through the Greaves into open air.  Any damage done to the Greaves will similarly negate their effect until such time as a sufficiently skilled devotee of Tyr can repair them.


2 thoughts on “The Gavelkind Greaves of Succession

  1. Brilliant!
    I was wondering how I could make magic items more interesting. This blows all my pitiful attempts out of the water.
    The hilarity that could potentially ensue if you faced that army of undead with those greaves, though most of the lesser undead might fail their saving throws anyway.
    There’s no denying it would be pretty useful in blunting the threat of the undead though, one way or the other.


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