Hello folks, I would just like to say that I am a fairly new dungeon master, I have been a forever dm for almost a year now and I have been running a homebrew campaign with a group of 5. But let's get into what you came for.
Quick note, lords are basically the equivalent to deities in D&D
In order to understand the story you must first meet the characters, these are my 5 players:
Mizolek, a incredibly strong Half-Orc barbarian, whose goal is to be the strongest creature who has ever lived.
Matranko, a vedalken sorcerer who is on a quest to bring 12th level spells back into existence
Xen, a black half-dragon druid who seeks to overcome his evil heritage through peace
Jayhawk, a human fighter trying to become the greatest warrior in his family dynasty which is composed of great combatants.
At last we have Lander, a human cleric who seeks to rid the world of those who seek to spread malevolence.
This is quite crucial to remember as it plays a great role in the events that unfolded. My players are around level 8, they are widely known in their kingdom seeing as they had ventured north to slay a white dragon which had completely ended the settlements of the north with its endless gluttony.
The adventurers return home from dragon slaying and decide to spend some downtime. Mizolek opens a tavern and the other players go about their business except two. Jayhawk and Xen. The two had gotten word that one of their most beloved Npc friends had been framed. Naturally they travel to him and try to resolve the situation. The npc tells them that he was walking home from his work when somebody quickly slipped something in his pocket. It was a mysterious ring that was quite cold to the touch. He did not think much of it and proceed home, but when he arrived the guards arrested him.
The whole situation was eventually resolved and the npc gave Jayhawk and Xen the ring as a reward. The duo hit up the library and attempt to figure out what the mysterious ring is and after a couple hours they find out what it is. Lo and Behold it is the fabled ring of winter. (For those of you who don't know the ring of winter is one of the best artifacts in the game). I make sure to thoroughly warn them about the rings corrupting nature and of all the bearers of the past in what way they failed. Xen is reluctant at first but the power is too great to turn down and his black dragon ancestry gets the better of him.
I also tell them that there were three rings created, one of fire and one of storms which I homebrewed. The duo find the ring of fire conveniently hidden in a riddle tome in the library. The two of them are now livid, the power oh the power they hold. From reading the book they also find out the location of the rings master and if the master is slayed the powers will transfer to the ring resulting in an even stronger ring.
They immediately head out of town to hunt down the masters of these rings, their conversation about what dreams and aspirations can be fulfilled with their newfound powers is abruptly interrupted by a stranger who walks up on the party. The stranger says in a hushed voice that he would like to have the rings back so that he can destroy them forever so that their evil influence can never set its claws upon the world.
Jayhawk and Xen look at each other and then spark out in laughter, they tell the stranger "We are heroes of the land, known everywhere for our deeds of bravery and fortitude, yet you a masked stranger ask for these rings, please do not waste our time you charlatan"
The stranger sighs and retorts "As you wish, many have walked with these rings yet I see none of them today" the stranger then leaves as quickly as he had appeared.
After this conversation Xen says "It might be wise to stow away the rings for the meantime"
Fast forward a couple of encounters and days of traveling vast fields. They manage to track down the ring of winters master, a great frost giant warrior. He sits upon a throne on an ice covered barren mountain in complete solitude. The duo approach him and begin to talk. The group is quite strict about a ask first kill later approach.
The frost giant declares that he has waited long for the ring, he can finally use it to unite his kin in order to descend from the far north to finally ravage the humans and assert dominance over what is rightfully theirs.
"By the right of my ancestors, I will claim these lands, and by the blood of my fathers I will claim that ring and usher in an age of eternal cold"
Of course the players don't think this would be profitable to their new tavern if all ale is frozen and so they decide to attack the frost giant warlord.
But he is stronger than they anticipated. An hour in and Xen has used all his wild shapes and the duo is quite exhausted. They are low on health and Xen is not the best healer only having access to the spell cure wounds.
As the frost giant prepares to strike them down the duo get an idea. They shall use the rings but ONLY for this fight.
I rule that the wearer needs to make a DC 8 wisdom save and everytime they use an ability it goes up by the number of rings on the user's hand. Jayhawk being capable of more damage is chosen to wear both rings. He puts them on and feels this massive spike of power, unlike anything he has ever felt before. He might be the strongest in the family with these artifacts on his fingers.
The fight is now tipping in the duos favor. It takes Jayhawk a couple of rounds to severely injure the frost giant, he fails his wisdom throw occasionally but the rings number one priority is to preserve the wearer. He manages to kill the frost giant but his wisdom save DC is now at 14. He fails the check and the ring compels him to attack his companion in order to covet his valuables for himself. The DC is now 16 and due to the fighter having +0 wisdom it is impossible to regain his character if it passes beyond 20. He attacks his companion and there is incredible tension at the table. The save DC is now 18 and the Jayhawks player is becoming worried. He throws the dice and it is a…..19 luckily.
He immediately unequips the rings and drop them in the snow. The duo has seen firsthand what it can do. They sit for a bit on the mountain top when their thinking is interrupted by the same stranger who came before.
"Well well, do you understand why their destruction is necessary?"
This time the duo doesn't spite him they wholeheartedly agree.
The stranger says that the only way they can be destroyed is to cast them in a forge deep inside a mountain. Where they will melt and be forgotten.
Jayhawk and Xen, not wanting to disappoint the other players calls an emergency council in Mizoleks tavern in order to discuss what should be done with these artifacts.
The players all meet at Mizoleks tavern, he has prepared food and ale for them to feast during the discussions. The whole party sits down and a vigorous argument ensues.
"Don't touch them Matranko" says Xen as he presents the artifacts.
The rest of the party is flabbergasted at the sight of these legendary items.
Xen then says
"My friends, these rings present nothing but trouble, their seduction is beyond measure"
"I can agree, you truly have no control over them" says Jayhawk in shame remembering the influence they held over him
"Ahhh you are all weak, I will intimidate them into submission" Mizolek exclaims
"Nobody is touching anything, our plan is to destroy them, we will do the world a favor that way" – Xen tries to say as he is interrupted by Matranko
"To destroy this, Xen maybe you should just wildshape into an ape, you would be smarter that way"
The table then laughs and downs a flagon of ale.
But there was something wrong, Lander had not spoken for the entire evening, they asked him if he was alright to which he replied
"I am disgusted by being close to the rings, all in favor of their destruction raise their hand"
Xen and Lander immediately vote in favor of their destruction
Matranko and Mizolek immediately object.
The one left is Jayhawk who reluctantly choses to destroy them.
This made me proud as a DM that they came to a consensus quite quickly but it was not over yet, hold on there is more.
Early in the morning the group excluding Matranko and Lander all head for the greatest mountain on the continent; they link up with the stranger and start to travel. The stranger regales and horrifies them with stories of the rings wicked power and how he has seen their might himself. He tells them about a cult who seeks the rings, the players run into them multiple times during their voyage. After weeks of travelling, combat and ambushes they arrive at Mount Inad the tallest mountain on the continent.
They ascend part of the mountain and find a derelict mountain hall which they enter. It seems that this mountain hall once belonged to giants, it appears to be a prison of some sorts. There is only one direction in which one can walk, and it is deeper down.
It takes 3 days of travel and during that time. They face tough enemies and tough predicaments, all designed to try to lure them into using the rings, but they hold steadfast. The challenges of course have broken them bit by bit, piece by piece and when they finally arrive at the core of the mountain hall, at the mythical forge room they see a prisoner. A giant in chains. Specifically a storm giant.
He has spent 3000 thousand years chained and tortured not only by silence and darkness. But by this ring on his finger. The ring of storms (This ring was designed to be a tad bit stronger than the others). The storm giant begs for them to release him from his chains. He wants nothing more than to be free.
They interrogate the giant, and he tells them that the lords imprisoned him here. All he wanted was for the power not to be in the hands of the lords, but that the people should decide their own fates, that people should have the light not the lords and for that they locked him in here in darkness, they put chains on him and made him immortal so that the fates could never take him. They created three rings. The ring of storms to keep his mind in turmoil, the ring of fire to keep his body aflame, the ring of winter to turn his very essence melancholic. Over the years people have come, but not to free him but to take the rings.
With such a story the players take pity on the giant except one Mizolek. He says I will try and release you with my immense strength, but first you must hand me the ring. The giant says that the ring is too powerful and only the strongest of minds can resist them. Mizolek says he will not equip it and so with a high roll the giant allows the ring to be taken.
Mizolek then says "Well my companions, I apologise for my past behaviour I will cast these rings in the forge, let me do the honor and redeem myself"
The players being quite paranoid due to the coldwar that has been going on for 3 days disagree, to which Mizolek responds
"I trust you with my life, we are brothers our bond forged in battle, to betray you would be to betray myself"
At this the other players can't disagree, they give Mizolek the rings and tell him to throw them
With the rings in his gigantic hands Mizolek turns around and says with a menacing smile on his scar-riddled face.
He puts all of them on, as unimaginable force surges through his veins, the whole room turns as bright as day and I tell the table that they are now looking at one of the strongest characters to ever live.
I wait and see what Mizoleks player is going to do, but he sits quietly for a moment and says. "As my first action as the strongest being, I will do the great task of taking of the rings"
It shocked everyone and it relieved me. The players had passed, power did not corrupt them. So the three of them took each ring, walked to the crucible and cast their rings one after one. Mizolek threw his, Jayhawk threw his and then Xen clutched his ring for a moment then he threw it, never to be seen again.
The stranger then claps his hands, and unveils his hood, he is an archmage of the capital. He congratulates the hearts of the players, takes a knee and unveil items as a way to show his appreciation.
But the true treasure is knowing the true content of their companions characters and that has created an unbreakable bond of trust.