A talisman of pure good is a legendary wondrous item that can only be attuned by a creature with a good alignment.
It can be used as a holy symbol to give clerics and paladins a +2 on spell attack rolls. Mainly though, it has the potential to completely destroy up to 7 creatures.
Talisman of Pure Good
Wondrous Item (Legendary), Requires attunement by a creature of good alignment
This talisman is a mighty symbol of goodness. A creature that is neither good nor evil in alignment takes 6d6 radiant damage upon touching the talisman. An evil creature takes 8d6 radiant damage upon touching the talisman.
Either sort of creature takes the damage again each time it ends its turn holding or carrying the talisman.
If you are a good cleric or paladin, you can use the talisman as a holy symbol, and you gain a +2 bonus to spell attack rolls while you wear or hold it.
The talisman has seven charges. If you are wearing or holding it, you can use an action to expend 1 charge from it and choose one creature you can see on the ground within 120 feet of you.
If the target is of evil alignment, a flaming fissure opens under it.
The target must succeed on a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw or fall into the fissure and be destroyed, leaving no remains. The fissure then closes, leaving no trace of its existence.
When you expend the last charge, the talisman disperses into motes of golden light and is destroyed.
So yeah, this item can banish someone straight to hell, sort of. The nine hells exist, and banishing is a very specific thing in D&D.
There’s even a spell called Banishment that is built for the purpose of banishing creatures to another plane of existence.
This powerful item… doesn’t do that. Instead it just destroys them, “leaving no trace of its existence.”
That one line is terrifying, and it makes a whole lot of sense that you only get to do this seven times throughout a campaign.
Destroying Creatures With a Talisman of Pure Good
Before we even get into the rest of this item, I want to take a few more moments talking about how insane this ability is; it’s definitely the highlight of the item.
As far as I know, this is the only thing in D&D, spell, feature, item, or otherwise, that completely destroys a creature and leaves no remains whatsoever.
One of the most powerful spells in the game, Power Word Kill, only has the ability to instantly kill a creature if they have fewer than 100 hit points remaining.
That costs a 9th-level slot too, so it should be (and is) insanely powerful.
Then we have Wish, arguably the most powerful spell in the game, which is capable of altering the fabric of reality.
Even that spell, which is supposed to be able to do just about anything that’s possible in D&D, would count this ability as a far reach.
As far as I’m concerned, destroying a creature and leaving “no trace of its existence” is something that goes far enough beyond the scope of a Wish spell to at least “suffer some unforeseen consequence as a result of how you worded the wish.”
I mean, Wish straight up tells us that wishing for a creature’s death might end up propelling us forward in time to a point where the creature has died of natural causes.
So, this item can do what it can do a whole seven times. Any evil creatures you come across should be downright terrified of you.
Dealing Damage to Non-Good Creatures
Moving forward, or rather backwards, to the rest of the abilities, a +2 to spell-attack rolls is a really solid bonus.
This is a pretty standard ability for most high-level magical items that a spellcaster would hold. But then we have a really interesting ability; this item deals significant damage to non-good creatures.
There’s a big question of how exactly this works, so let’s look at what exactly it says.
A creature that is evil takes 8d6 radiant damage when touching the talisman, and a non-evil, non-good creature takes 6d6 radiant damage. They also take that same damage if they end their turn holding or carrying the talisman.
So it’s pretty clear to me that this is meant to be a preventative measure for non-good creatures attempting to steal this talisman.
I think of it like the stereotypical vampire grabbing a holy symbol and being seared by its energy. That’s all well and good, but you may have a lingering question.
Can a Talisman of Pure Good be used as a weapon?
Yes and no. It’s very clearly not a weapon; otherwise it would say so, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find a place for it in the rules.
Fifth edition has a few things to say about improvised weapons. Mainly, you can attack with them, and your DM might even let you have proficiency with them if they resemble an item you are proficient in.
A common example here would be proficiency with a club allowing you to be proficient with a table leg.
It will probably end up following the rule for objects that bear no resemblance, which are as follows:
An object that bears no resemblance to a weapon deals 1d4 damage (the GM assigns a damage type appropriate to the object).
If a character uses a ranged weapon to make a melee Attack or throws a melee weapon that does not have the thrown property, it also deals 1d4 damage. An improvised thrown weapon has a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet.
There you go! Now you can make a melee attack or even a ranged attack to deal d4 damage with your improvised weapon (pending DM approval). Wait a second though – what about the fun part?
Well, all of that huge radiant damage comes into play when a creature touches the item, so it’s going to depend on the creature.
A death knight, which is essentially an undead evil paladin inside of a full suit of armor, won’t likely be touched by the amulet unless you manage to get through the armor somehow.
However, a balor, which has natural armor and might have on little more than a loin cloth, is probably going to come in physical contact with the talisman, taking a whopping 8d6 radiant damage and a measly 1d4 of, I’m going to say, bludgeoning damage.
There aren’t any solid 5e rules for physical contact, but it’s easy enough for a DM to decide whether a creature is actually going to touch the object or not.
If it does touch, we have a magical improvised weapon that you do not have proficiency in, which deals 1d4 bludgeoning damage along with any of the item’s innate bonuses.
Making a Better Talisman of Pure Good
As it stands, the talisman is an item that clerics and paladins desperately want to be an amazing weapon but just kind of isn’t. It also has a ridiculously overpowered ability that can be used seven times.
If I were to re-stat the item, which I will, I’d make it help your weapons.
For starters, I really find the alignment piece of this to be very cool.
I want to keep that, but I want to make it clear that alignment is not necessarily what a creature’s stat block says.
The alignment in a stat block is meant to tell us what the general disposition of a creature is, but each individual has its own path.
In my worlds, there are lawful-good vampires and chaotic evil solars and everything in between.
Just like in real life, our “alignment” is defined by a delicate balance of nature and nurture, and it can change at any time.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to the item at hand.
The main thing I’d want to do is reflavor what kind of item this is. Right now, it’s a talisman that’s designed to be worn, held, or carried in some way.
I think it would be a lot cooler if it could be a sort of decoration that you add to either your weapon or your armor.
If you’ve ever played Monster Hunter, you might be familiar with decorations. These are jewels that you place inside of your weapons to give you special abilities, often influencing how your weapons work.
If this talisman worked like a decoration that you could attach or attune to your weapon, then your weapon would become a magical weapon with an extra ability.
However, 6d6 or 6d8 on every attack you make is insane and makes smiting almost completely irrelevant. So we should probably cut it back a little bit.
I’m going to have that be reliant on charges instead. We could keep it very simple, but I like flexibility, so I’ll give us two options:
1. Simple Option
Seven charges per day. You can expend a charge to deal extra radiant damage to a creature according to their alignment.
Using this ability on a good-aligned creature deals no extra damage and causes you to lose an extra charge.
The talisman regains 1d4+1 charges daily at dawn.
2. Flexible Option
Forty charges per day. You can expend up to eight charges to deal a number of d6 in extra radiant damage equal to the number of charges you spent.
If you attempt to deal extra radiant damage to a good-aligned creature, you must roll a d20.
If you roll less than the number of charges you spent, the talisman disperses into motes of golden light and is destroyed.
The talisman regains 2d12+6 charges daily at dawn.
Obviously, feel free to mix and match the mechanics I worked in here, or use this as inspiration for your own homebrew.
The point of either option is to allow you to deal damage as if it were a smite that you don’t need to burn a spell slot for. However, I want there to be consequences for using this against good creatures.
Then, we want to do something about the whole “destroying evil creatures” bit of this item.
I think it should be very rare but not impossible. I also think that it shouldn’t have a maximum number of uses because then you lose your wicked-cool item or get stuck at a single use.
My solution is to turn to the dice. If you make a critical hit with the weapon this is attached to against an evil creature, roll another d20.
On a 20, the fissure swallows them up, they are destroyed leaving no trace of their existence behind, so on and so forth.
If you don’t like the idea of a random occurrence and want this to be possible whenever but extremely limited, well, we need to think a little differently.
We can say that you have to expend all remaining charges and you have to roll a d20.
If you roll a 1, the talisman disperses into motes of golden light and is destroyed. Each time you do this, the number you have to roll above increases by 1.
This makes it riskier to use every time, but it gives you the possibility to do it up to 19 times, however unlikely that really is.
To make it more aligned with the original number of uses, we could say that each time you do this the DC increases by 2 instead, but that’s up to the DM creating this.
Ultimately, these are options for an item that is less focused on being a limited use evil destroyer, and more focused on giving a good aligned creature some really cool powers.
As always when we suggest homebrew options, these are just some suggestions. Feel free to use as much or as little of what we’ve provided as you want.
So there you have it, a talisman of pure good and a slightly more useful version to incorporate into your next campaign.
This has the potential to be a really amazing item, and at the right table, I’m absolutely positive it will be.
Never be afraid to change the mechanics of an item. Even if you think it might be a little bit unbalanced, you can always modify as you go.
Just be sure to tell your player that you’re workshopping an item and you want to give them a chance to try out a prototype.
As always, happy adventuring.