Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Woodsman's Hatchet

A long time ago, early in my Referee career I had to quickly improvise some backstory for a spontaneously created magic item. The item in question was the Woodsman's Hatchet and has since become somewhat iconic in my games.

The Lore
Once there was a Woodsman who fell in love with a beautiful maiden. He wooed the woman with small wood carvings of roses and hearts and she fell madly in love with his earthly charms. The two gleefully went to get approval from the woman's family but were denied due to the man's meager earnings. Heart broken the woman fled deep into the woods and was spirited away by the monstrous Beast of the Forest. The woman's family begged the man to save their daughter and promised to give the man her hand in marriage. The Woodsman marched into the forest with a single musket and his trusty hatchet. After days of tracking the beast he finally cornered it outside its lair, a dark cave. The man fired at the Beast with his musket but the missile bounced off the monster's wood-like hide. It charged and tore at the man, who howled in pain. The Woodsman then raised his hatchet and hacked away at the Beast. The monster bled a strange green liquid that seeped into the head of the ax and sharpened it with each strike. Finally after exchanging blows, the Woodsman raised his hatchet one last time and claimed the beast’s head. Exhausted and wounded the man searched the cave but was horrified to discover his beloved’s partially devoured corpse. The sullened man returned her remains to the family and fell back to the forest, never to return. While preparing the woman for burial the family discovered the body was missing one thing, her left hand. To this day the townsfolk say they occasionally find trees and boulders split in half deep in the woods. When asked they claim: “the Woodsman's rage.”

The Woodsman's Hatchet
was lost to time but now it's tradition for me to throw it in any campaigns I run. In fact the only reason I thought to write about it now was because my character found it in a play-by-post game my brother was running. So what does it do? The Woodsman's Hatchet has one simple ability, it can cut through any solid material as if it were wood. Stone, steel, dragon scales, or even adamantine, doesn't matter the hatchet will cut through it. Obviously you don't give this sucker out if your player characters are dungeon crawling, or do. The user still has to use their strength to cut since the material has the consistency of wood. Additionally the hatchet never dulls and in combat any armored foe's AC becomes 12. Now this thing is all pluses, it's useful in and out of a fight. Be careful if you want to throw it in your world as it can and will wreck your game if given to intelligent players. If you want to give it some horrid curse Lamentations style check out the one I made below.

--The Hatchet's Curse--
The beast's blood sharpened the blade but left a dark stain.
Whenever the wielder slays a living thing with the hatchet they must make a Save vs. Magic. For each failure the following happens in order:
  1. Your skin becomes bark-like after a night's sleep. Your AC becomes 14 unarmored and you gain +1 permanent point of encumbrance due to your new wood weight.
  2. Your skin secretes a resin like substance, attracting crawling things that chew. -1 to all saves as the insects are, distracting.
  3. The insects chew deeper. -2 to all saves.
  4. The insects reach your brain, -1d6+1 Intelligence. (this again for each additional failed save)
When your Intelligence becomes 3 or less you become a new Beast of the Woods and the following happens:

  • The Hatchet is "misplaced".
  • Your body is completely made of wood and riddled with crawling things.
  • You automatically attack anything that has a melee weapon, preferably a hatchet.
  • You lurk in deep woods hunting local fauna and the occasion maiden.


  1. This is awesome and will very likely show up somewhere in my game.

  2. I will steal that curse! Probably as a disease transmitted by the Beast's bite.

    1. Do it! Then tell me how it went. I love hearing how PCs get screwed.