A Totem of Resistance is a magical item that emanates an aura around itself once it is activated. It is immovable and grants resistance to a single pre-determined damage type. It is also my first fully fleshed-out homebrew magical items that I feel comfortable with sharing on the site. This post contains some of my design thoughts and attempts at making a balanced item. Feel free to use it in your own games!
Purpose of the Item
A totem of resistance can give you and your allies if it’s used in a fight where the enemy deals a lot of the totem’s damage type. The catch is that you and your allies have to stay within its radius for the duration of the fight to gain its benefits.
I also wanted to find a way for my players to gain a way to avoid a bit of damage as my group lacks any sort of healer or support class. The Totem of Resistance is one answer to that problem, provided that they fight a creature that uses the damage type.
That being said, a Totem of Resistance has a particular set of requirements that make it a bit of a niche item. I’ll expand on this more in the balance section as I wanted to ensure that an item that potentially gives resistance to the entire party was still balanced for a Rare magical item!
How it’s Balanced
This is a pretty powerful item, but it is a bit niche and does have some setbacks. Using an action you can give any creatures of your choice resistance to the totem’s damage type, provided they are within 30 ft. of the totem.The totem can’t be moved and it lasts 1 minute/10 rounds. If the creature moves out of the aura they lose their resistance buff, and they do not gain it upon entering the aura again during this time.
It’s basically an AoE Armor of Resistance that can only be used once per day. I feel that this is about as valuable as the armor of resistance considering it’s really only useful for one battle in an entire adventuring day plus it costs an action to use. The armor is passive resistance plus it makes the armor magical.
The item does not require attunement. I feel it is not powerful enough to warrant that a player lose one of their 3 attunement slots to buff their party once per day. Its one use per day affected the decision to not have the item require attunement.
Totem of Resistance v1.0 had an aura radius of 60 ft. but the catch was that every creature within the aura gained the damage resistance. This made it a bit more of a riskier item. In practice the aura didn’t benefit the party much as a 30 ft. radius area is pretty big already. This made it a bit obnoxious for them as it took an action to set the totem up to buff their enemies in addition to themselves. I may keep this as a cursed option though as it was an interesting idea!
Inspiration for the Item
I originally created the totem as a sort of homage to the totems from World of Warcraft’s Shaman Class. Some would have an aura that gave buffs to your raid/party.
The Totem of Resistance doesn’t have to be a wooden totem either. For example, the first one we used in our game was an old stone statue that was found in the lair of a Mindflayer. It turned out to be a magical stone statue of the red dragon deity, Garyx.
I’ve made a couple of posts about homebrew rules that my group has come up with and used in the past. I’ve made some races and plenty of items as well for my personal use. This is the first post of many where I’ll showcase a homebrew that I’ve worked on and talk about how it was designed. These posts are going to typically be shorter than my usual posts and I don’t intend for them to disrupt the Monday & Friday posting schedule I’ve now solidified.
Think of these posts as filler content where I’d very much appreciate people’s feedback! Seriously, no-holds-barred when it comes to these.
If you’re looking for more of this kind of content I tend to add something like this in with our monthly newsletter which you can sign-up for on the sidebar.