Look, I'm tired of trying to be the perfect hero. Ever since I started offering up my services—and working with a never-ending succession of random strangers—I've done the right thing, put others first, and bit my tongue, all without asking anything in return. And sure, the villagers I've saved have been grateful, and that's... nice. But whoever said virtue is its own reward never had to pay a bar tab. And hey, I do a lot of good in this world, from undoing ancient curses to putting down the world-ending-threat du jour, so why shouldn't I let loose on occasion? To be clear, I'm not talking about embracing some sort of chaotic neutrality in the name of being a jerk—I just want to be myself and get my due.
Lucky for me, I found this book, and it's full of antiheroes: folks who worry less about sanctimonious social norms and focus instead on turning their flaws into fortes. This is the kind of heroism I can get behind; to hell with all that dour do-goodery. Take the vindictive bastard, an ex-paladin archetype, for example: she lives up to the label (given to so many exes) by using her vindictive smite against those who've hurt her friends. Or the blatherskite, a gunslinger who runs away from danger faster than he runs his mouth—and that's saying something.
Illustrations by Alyssa Davis and Forrest Imel
Now, some of these antiheroes had it real bad in the past, giving them good reason to approach this whole adventuring thing with a chip on their shoulders. There's a multitude of backgrounds that result in the traits and drawbacks they carry with them today. Some were criminals, some get a raw deal in their dealins with a religion or some other group, and some have backgrounds that're downright tragic. But even these sad sacks can transform their personal tragedy into something productive (if unconventional): there are spiritualists whose phantoms draw their abilities from lifelong suffering, and there are bloodragers who summon the strength of a martyred ancestor to become an embodiment of righteous wrath.
Illustration by Forrest Imel
Of course, treading too far down the path less traveled can get you in a heap of trouble. Before you know it, you forget why you're bending rules and start breaking them just for the fun of it, leaving yourself susceptible to corruption. Sure, you might get better at forging evidence and using forbidden magic, but you'll eventually end up overwhelmed by hate and turning on your closest allies. Happens all the time.
On the other hand, a lot of great tactics and tools are opened up to those who put aside the idea of a fair fight. Even when losing a brawl, you can accomplish all kinds of feats, like using your bloodied visage to sicken your enemies or taking someone down with you when you're tripped. And a swig from a vial of reckless courage will give you the temporary guts needed to face down the most horrific monsters. Or you can throw a portable hive at your enemies and let them explain a fair fight to a wasp swarm.
After seeing all the options available in this book, I think I've made up my mind—it's the antihero's life for me! But I'll tell you what: I leave it to fate to decide. I'll flip this coin, and if it comes up Desna, I'll start living life in the gray area between right and fun. Otherwise, it's the straight and narrow for me, I promise.
Illustration by Alyssa Davis
Desna's Coin Price 8,000 GP
Slot non CL 5th Weight &mdash Aura Faint Abjuration
This gold coin has two blank faces, but its owner can cause the holy symbol of Desna—a butterfly with suns, moons, and stars on its wings—to appear on either face at will. This proves especially useful when performing coin flips, as the owner of a Desna's coin can essentially guarantee that the result will go in her favor.
As one would expect of an item associated with the goddess of luck, a Desna's coin confers on its owner an uncanny ability to fortuitously avoid sudden threats. As a result, its bearer gains a +2 luck bonus on Reflex saving throws.
Construction Requirements Price 4,000 GP
Craft Wondrous Item, divine favor