The Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount introduced a new potent artifact in The Arms of the Betrayer. A vicious artifact crafted by the souls of fiends, this is a rather evil artifact worthy of destruction. Unfortunately, these might not be as easy to destroy, as these are powerful sentient beings wishing for bloodshed and destruction. Let’s tremble in fear as we look into what these horrifying, yet powerful, weapons offer our tabletop heroes.
What are the Arms of the Betrayers?
Arms of the Betrayers use the same power advancement as Vestiges of Divergence. That is, they start dormant, become awakened, and eventually become exalted. While they’re dormant, they have a beneficial and detrimental property. When awakened, they get stronger, but also detriment you a bit. When they become exalted they become all-powerful and gain a major benefit. The stages of awakening and exhalation are GM dependent, though they should originate from major events or particularly fantastic moments.
The Arms of the Betrayers gain additional benefits outside of the Artifact Minor and Major Benefits and Detriments. However, these come at a cost; each of these artifacts houses a demon within, loyal to the god that created the weapon. And they will do everything in their power to make the wielder a vessel to progress their god’s agenda. Think about that next time you pick up a talking dagger; it might want you to stab things you shouldn’t stab.
Destroying the artifacts is specific to each of them, and completely up to DM discretion. Within the Explorer’s Guide is a table of options for their destruction. These vary from bathing the weapon in blood, striking it with another of the Arms of the Betrayers, etc. You’ll need to do some research to destroy these, so let’s learn if they’re good first.
Blade of Broken Mirrors
This dagger is a Chaotic evil one that specializes in deception. As it awakens, it gets more and more abilities that cause its enemies to question reality. It also returns to you after throwing and teaches you Abyssal.
If anyone wants to use this dagger, it’s a rogue. The downsides of the artifact don’t outweigh the advantage of flawless disguises, access to multiple potent enchantment spells, and strong invisibility. The returning aspect of the dagger means you can get your sneak attacks without the risk of missing with the dagger and losing it. If you don’t plan to destroy it, any tricksters would love a piece of this!
Torog blessed this absolute beast of a warhammer. The hammer loves dealing damage, but it also likes when you get hurt; you can deal damage to yourself to deal more, you can reflect damage within 30 ft to harm the attacker, and if you’re lower than half your max health, you get to deal 2d6 more damage.
Where to start… This is a bruiser-themed weapon, focused on hurting others at all cost. Barbarians could appreciate that, although the damage it does to you is Psychic, so you can’t resist it easily. As you awaken this gruesome thing, you get mastery over stone with some burrow speed and spells, meaning you get some extra mobility. If hitting things very hard is your specialty – and the extra stone-based utility doesn’t hurt – then Grovelthrash may be the intelligent, hammer-shaped murder weapon for you.
Lash of Shadows
Whips aren’t normally too scary. But, when a whip can poison you with blindness, paralysis, or petrification, it suddenly gets spooky. The Lash of Shadows is a rather simple weapon, but the poisons that it dishes out are devastating. Four selectable poisons are at your disposal; each can only be used once, other than the poison that just deals damage. And, believe it or not, 3d6 poison damage on each of your whip strikes is rather vicious.
This is a particularly strong weapon, but be warned; the mad marilith within the whip will be problematic, if not overcame.
Mace of the Black Crown
Asmodeus has placed his boon within this mace. As such, it’s quite the recruiter. A Lawful Evil Mace at heart, this specializes in summoning and dealing extra damage. While it’s not quite as much as offered by Grovelthrash or the Lash of Shadows, it can still hurt a lot, and the Summon Devil feature it gives its wielder brings more allies into the fray. Any creature can benefit from this effect, but try not to be recruited into Asmodeus’s army in the meanwhile… If you can.
Created out of the bones of an ancient gold dragon, Ruin’s Wake returns to your hand and grants the wielder a variety of boons. First, you get to attack anyone who hits you, once per rest. Then, you may turn Ruin’s Wake into a lightning bolt that strikes forward. Finally, you gain not only healing power, but granting advantage to all of your allies.
This works well for any Fighter who needs a ranged option. You gain a pseudo-Lightning Bolt, good usage of reactions, a weapon that flies back to your hand, and some much-needed healing. A competent weapon for any wielder of spears… But be careful. I hear bloodlust might be addictive.
Lolth created this rapier purely out of spite, coercing its wielder that everyone is out to get them. The rapier grants you a ton of benefits to scout areas, knock out opponents, and climb. As it awakens, the spider-like nature of the rapier blossoms; you learn to cast Web, Darkness, and Levitate, teleport using shadows, and genuinely become creepy. This is actually useful for any class, since it has so many abilities that don’t rely on landing attack rolls. If you don’t mind succumbing to paranoia, then wield this rapier, and gain the immense strength of the Queen of Spiders.
The Bloody End
In case maces are your thing, The Bloody End is an enchantment-focused morningstar that focuses on subjugation. You not only gain a ridiculous number of enchantment spells to dominate others; you also retribute against anyone trying to fight back. For any evil Order Clerics, this is an artifact that you will find naturally falls within your domain.
Will of the Talon
A war pick, created with love by Tiamat, this war pick is greedy and fierce, fighting with Bane to keep order over any situation. Borrowing some of the enchantment abilities from The Bloody End, the Will of Talon also grabs some draconic aspects. These include Breath Attacks and Frightful Presence, two draconic staples. This weapon is incredibly strong for classes that don’t normally have Area of Effect options, such as Monk or Barbarian. But… Always remember to take a “fair share” of treasure, when you win the fight.
Conclusion – Are They Worth It?
Any neutral or evil character should think really hard about using these weapons before throwing them away. Many of them offer gigantic increases to damage, or extra utility, to those willing to bear the mental assault of the demon within. Good characters should be very careful about picking this up; your god of choice might be unhappy with you if you start becoming evil. The Arms of the Betrayers offer immense power… But are they worth your allegiance to your alignment?
If you’re a GM, take note on how strong these artifacts are. You can adapt them to your own setting, or maybe even make really strong, interesting artifacts of your own. The same could be said for the other set of legendary artifacts in Wildemount, the Vestiges of Divergence.
That wraps up our Arms of the Betrayers Guide. For more Wildemount content see our overview of the Hollow One.