Steal This: 4 Legenday Armor Backstories

An assassin deftly and swiftly enters a room under cover of darkness. Her blackened studded leather, like a shadow itself, blends perfectly into her surroundings, allowing her to get the drop on her target.
A powerful warrior with a pair of heavy stone gauntlets pummels his foes with reckless abandon, protecting him from harm while doling it out in equal measures. A brilliant, gleaming helm sits resplendent atop the head a stoic hero as she gazes off into the horizon, a steely look in her eyes.

In the typical roleplaying game, armor often plays a pretty important roll; keeping the orc's greataxe from cutting you in two. I'm sure there are other uses, but I only write what I know. Always with the damned greataxes, these orcs! The great thing about armor is the level of customization you can put into it. A fine suit of plate armor could be as simple as a medieval knight, or as detailed and absurd as a suit of Warcraft armor. Some studded leather armor could simply be a suit with little studs all over it, or a mess of hundreds of straps buckling all over one another like Lulu from Final Fantasy X.

"And I bet the time to don this is still next to nothing."

When you add magic to the mix, you have something truly awesome. Perseus and his Helm of Darkness, Zues' mighty shield, Aegis, and King Arthur's brilliant helm, Goswhit. Magical Armor has been passed down through myths and legends for thousands of years. The very image of these striking pieces not only evoke a sense of power, but they look mighty badass.

Great sets have stories behind them, telling of their nigh impervious nature, but most armor we see at the game table is somewhat blasé. The magic gauntlets you found in the dungeon make you stronger. Wow, way to sell it. Being a bard, I want a little more meat in my tales. Tell me about the deeds that have been done with them, tell me who forged them, and for the love of the gods, I don't want the entire backstory to be "It was forged by angels to fight evil". 

We can do better than that. Below are four legendary backstories to slap on particular pieces of armor, It is generic enough that you can add them to any piece of armor of the type with any magical property. This will in no way change the stats of the piece, but rather make it something a little more tangible, and a lot more epic. The difference between Bracers of Armor +1 and bracers forged from the wings of a Solar after they died protecting a heavily stronghold from a horde of rampaging demons, and possesses some measure of his divine energy, still imbued into the golden feather to offer the same protection to the wearer that he offered in his millennia of service is pretty obvious.

1. Long ago there lived a fae queen of terrible power. She sat upon an oaken throne, and presided over her subjects with cold indifference. Though she was loved and feared by her people, her demeanor made her nigh unapproachable. 
In all of her power, the one thing she desired was a companion, someone to love. Her realm was bereft of suitors who could look her in the eye, so she ventured forth to the material plane in search of someone she could share her life and throne with. Under the guise of a beautiful, but shy traveler, she journeyed across the realm, stopping in every town, village and city she came upon, hoping to find that one being that stood out to her.
It was quite by accident that she ran across-or rather ran into-a young thief fleeing from an overly observant mark that had caught him in the act. She bade him to come with her, and together they could evade the approaching ruffian. They darted into a shadowy alley and emerged in a moonlit glade. 
The thief was thoroughly confused, until the fae queen revealed herself to him. Instead of run from her in fear, he thanked her for helping him. He was curious about the realm of fae, and had thousands of questions. Together they walked the deep forests and spoke of each others' world. Eventually the two fell in love, and eventually he asked her to join him as his bride. Elated, she sent for her subjects to prepare for the wedding. As a gift to her husband to be, she crafted a set of leather armor, made of physical shadow, and studded with rivets of pale moonlight. He was awestruck by the seemingly impossible gift. She told him that with this, he would be the greatest thief that ever lived.
When the wedding arrived, she was resplendent in a gown of moonlight and dew drops. She waited eagerly for her beloved to arrive, but he never did. She searched the width and breadth of the fae realm, but she could not find her thief. Heartbroken, she slumped into her oaken throne, and became a part of it, never moving, never speaking, only waiting for her lover to return.
It is not known how the exquisite set of armor made its way into the hands of the master of a very well known thieves guild, but it is known how it changed hands to the assassin that slew him, and the assassin that slew her. The armor has passed many hands over hundreds of years, but little is known of the original owner, the greatest thief in the world, who stole thee heart of a fae queen.

2. This set of gauntlets looks to be chiseled from solid rock, and adorned with finely carved bone. Despite the amount of punishment they can deliver, they appear to be nearly indestructible, and for good reason, for they were forged from two nearly indestructible beings. There once lived a courageous barbarian who carried the honorific moniker "The Unbreakable". She traveled the land with a small band of adventurers. Together they battled many foes and thwarted many a plot. With each fight, the barbarian's claim to be unbreakable was put to the test, and with each glorious victory her legend grew.
It was in an abandoned temple to a forgotten god that she met her match. A cruel mage had crated a vicious golem (it's pronounced Go-Lem, not Gol-lum) of stone and adamantine (a nearly indestructible metal), and pitted it against the barbarian. She fought valiantly, delivering blow after devastating blow, but in the end the golem proved to be unstoppable. It pinned the barbarian to a stone wall and began to fuse with it, crushing her, as she cried an agony, her companions, an elven wizard and a dwarven cleric, knew that there was little they could do to stop her from being brutally destroyed. More agonizing was that she knew that finally she was breakable.
In a last ditch effort, the wizard and cleric combined their powers to overcome the golem's resistance to magic and reshaped and molded both barbarian and golem into a singular form. When they were finished, all that remained were a pair of large, unwieldy stone gauntlets, lined with bone. The wizard theorized that in the end, when the gauntlets reach their breaking point and finally shatter, the true battle between their ally and the golem will be decided. But what would break first, the stone or the bone?
The two companions hid the gauntlets in a place where they knew that stalwart wielder would one day discover them, and use them the way that their fallen comrade would want them used, to continue their fight until the day the battle of the Unbreakable would be concluded.

3. A finely crafted helm to be certain, this stunning headpiece has adorned the head of many a legendary hero, but it carries with it a dark past that eventually catches up with it's wearer. There once lived a just and honorable warrior. One evening, while traveling down a long and lonesome road, the warrior came upon a man in regal robes, with dark hair and eyes that seemed to glow in the night, despite there being no moon overhead. 
The tall stranger greeted the warrior like and old friend, and asked him to join him by a cookfire and share a meal. They spoke of small things; the weather, the conditions of the roads this season, and eventually the topic turned to the warrior's armor. The stranger commented on the shabby condition of it, but the warrior waved it of, confessing that he often gave any reward for his services to people who could make better use of the money. As a result, the armor he wore bared the scars of many battles. Nothing more than the helm, which was dented and cracked.
The stranger told the warrior that they're selflessness was admirable, but added that sometimes a reward is necessary to continue the good fight. The stranger smiled and reached into a sack the warrior had not noticed before, and pulled from it a single, gleaming helm of remarkable craftsmanship. The warrior had never seen anything so fine in all his days. He offered it to the warrior, to keep his head safe and thinking clearly. The warrior did not know what to say. This person whom he did no know offered him such a princely gift freely... but it was not free.
The stranger has but one stipulation upon gifting the helm. The warrior was to wear it in every battle he fought in for the rest of his life. That was it. The warrior agreed, thanking the stranger profusely, and tried it on, finding that it fit perfectly. It did not take long to discover the incredibly useful enchantment the helm possessed. The warrior could not believe his luck.
It was then their conversation took a strange turn. The stranger began to discus, rather abruptly, the nature of evil, inquiring what the warrior's stance on it was. He shared his devout disdain for evil and villainy. The stranger then asked a strange question, "Is doing whatever must be done for the greater good a path to evil."
The warrior thought on this and concluded that if it were for the greater good, than any action was an acceptable sacrifice. The stranger smiled, and thanked the warrior before standing, and leaving the small campsite. The warrior called after the stranger, asking him where he was going, and what his name was. The stranger did not turn, but answered the warrior, "We shall meet again. I will tell you my name on that day."
The warrior went on to do great things, wearing the helm in each battle, just as he promised. His legend grew, and eventually, he found himself sitting on a throne, taken by his own hand from tyrant. Though the reputation of the warrior was one of a just and righteous defender, those closest to him knew that the path he walked was one soaked in blood, and paved with unspeakable choices. All the while, the warrior king maintained it was all for the greater good.
In a great battle, the warrior king was wounded grievously. Feeling the life slipping away, the accepted his fate. It was then he saw a lone figure approaching him. A tall man with black hair and regal robes. The king removed his helm to get a better look. To his surprise, standing before them was the stranger that had gifted him the helm all those years before. In that moment, the king realized that the atrocities he had committed were unforgivable, even if they were for the greater good. The warrior looked up at the stranger from upon his back and asked in a shaky voice, "What is your name, stranger?"
With a smile, the stranger simply said "Asmodeus".
The king was dead, but his good deeds were remembered, and his crimes forgotten. Such is the way with history. The helm passed on to his son, who likewise did great things, but at great costs. Like his father before him, he swore to wear the helm into every battle. When he too died, he say the tall stranger, just as his father had. And so as the centuries wore on, and the helm found itself in the hands of people who desire to do great deeds, but found themselves getting there through any means necessary. The sinister legacy of the helm continues; too useful to be destroyed, too historically linked to great heroes to be evil... right?

4. It doesn't look like much; a single, only shaped hunk of wood with deep gouges carved into it and silver chain wrapped around it. Looks, however, can be deceiving. Many years ago lived a monster hunter who specialized in tracking and destroying the undead. She was hired by a small village in the middle of a mist-shrouded forest. They had cobbled together enough coin to enlist her services. They had a dire problem that had been plaguing them for some time. Some fiend stalked their village in the dead of night and had stolen many young girls from their beds. Their bodies were discovered the morning after their disappearances on the edge of the village, drained of blood.
The hunter knew immediately that she was up against a vampire. She made preparations and laid in wait, hoping to catch a glimpse of this terrifying undead in the act. Like she though, the creature arrived, magically coaxing a girl from her bed and bade her to follow. The hunter stalked the pair silently, until she came to a small clearing not far out of town. 
The vampire had begun to feed. The hunter sprang into action, launching a furious attack. The vampire struck back, landing heavy blows, wounding the hunter. Producing a holy symbol, the hunter drove the vampire back. It transformed into a wolf and took off into the misty forest. The hunter returned the girl, and had her wounds seen to. 
In the daylight, she stalked the vampire's tracks, which lead to an old manor house in the middle of the woods. She ventured in, quickly vanquishing the undead guards that watched over their master during his most vulnerable time. Slowly, she crept to his chamber, where his coffin lay. But the vampire was ready. He burst from the coffin, breaking it in the process and throwing the hunter back into the wall. In a moment the vampire was upon her, sinking his claws into her tender flesh. She managed to crash a bottle of holy water into the fiend's face. 
Free from the creature's assault for a moment, she dove for a section of coffin lid and removed a length of silver chain from her bag. She wrapped the chain around the section of coffin to attach it to her arm. The vampire recovered and again launched another assault. She placed the makeshift shield between them, barring his advances. With her own blood she inscribed magical runes upon the back of the shield, strengthening it and repelling her attacker. 
She then proceeded to bludgeon the creature with the shield for several minutes before driving a wooden steak through the vampires black heart. Thrashed and bloodied, she shambled her way back to the village, where she promptly collapsed. 
A few days later, the hunter awakened in the care of the town healer. The village rewarded her as promised, but the town blacksmith, whose daughter had been saved by the hunter, fashioned and attached some enarmes, and made some repairs to the shield, and the healer blessed it and anointed it with holy water, granting it extra protection from the living dead. 
Over the years she wielded the trusty coffin-lid shield that had saved her life. It became a family heirloom, passed down from generation to generation, protecting the living and remaining steadfast against the attacks of those that refuse to die.

There we are. A few tales to tantalize your players and turn a mundane old magic piece of armor into something a little more exciting. I strongly urge anyone that has enjoyed any of these to, by all means, STEAL THIS!

If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out 4 Epic Backstories for Magic Weapons.

Stay safe,
+Ed The Bard 

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