Within the confines of Matt Mercer’s mind – and pen – lie magic items with a twist. In the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount, you can discover a series of 7 artifacts that have been scattered throughout the world after The Calamity. They are the predecessors of the Arms of the Betrayers, but they still hold great strength, without the questionable downsides. Get the whole story with our Vestiges of Divergence 5E Guide.
What are the Vestiges of Divergence?
Vestiges of Divergence start dormant, become awakened, and eventually become exalted. While they’re dormant, they have some benefits; nothing overtly powerful, but certainly worth keeping. When awakened, they attain the benefits of what they used to have back before the calamity. When they become exalted they become all-powerful, going beyond what they used to have. The stages of awakening and exhalation are GM dependent, though they should originate from major events or particularly fantastic moments. In the Guide to Wildemont, the advancement is suggested at level 9 for Awakening, and level 16-20 for Exalted.
Typically, Vestiges allow the DM to, anime-style, give the players an ability that causes them to see the light when everything is hopeless. These unlocks can be moments of triumph over an enemy, a mystery, or a curse.
Unlike the Arms of the Betrayer, these items do not have extra benefits or downsides that help, or hinder, the players. These are just scaling items that continuously grow over the course of the campaign. Similarly, unlike the Betrayers’ artifacts, these can be destroyed by more conventional means.
While this scaling system isn’t quite new in Dungeons & Dragons, this is somewhat new to 5E. Matt Mercer’s ability to balance drama with game mechanics shines brightly with these; Whether you want one because you are running a Wildemont campaign, or are looking for a baseline to make your artifacts more interesting, this is a fantastic start.
These visors were actually used by a famous evoker to spot invisible enemies, and as a telescope. While dormant, you can see in any darkness, and gain advantage on sight-based checks. Once awakened, you can see invisible creatures, gain X-Ray vision, or see miles away. Finally, once exalted, you are immune to sight-based illusions, see auras of any creature using altering magic, and can cast antimagic field once per day out of your glasses.
An insanely powerful utility item, Danoth’s is most useful on characters reliant on sight. Rogues, Fighters, and Barbarians need ways to see things during dark combats, so consider giving them these. Everyone can benefit from X-Ray vision, though. Just ask Superman!
This Wizard-only item is a spellbook, with a few interesting additions. When it’s dormant, it has 25 specific spells inscribed in the first page. These spells range from Thunderwave to Antimagic Field, and you can prepare an extra wizard spell. When awakened, you get bonuses to saves against opposing spells, and then you get an extra prepared spell. Finally, when exalted, you get an extra use of Arcane Recover, as well as… (Can you guess?)… An extra prepared spell.
Any wizard wants this. Any of them. Give them this Grimoire.
Hide of the Feral Guardian
This set of studded leather armor is, surprisingly, not restricted to druids. While dormant, the armor gives a +1 bonus to AC, even while transformed. You also hit harder with your new claws or fangs, and the armor lets you transform into a Giant Owl, as a polymorph spell. As it ranks up, you get stronger, gain more AC, and can polymorph into more powerful beings. The final transformation, the Guardian Wolf, is an immense powerhouse that is unique to Wildemont.
This was clearly designed for druids. Wildshape is by far the best use of this. Either give it to those nature-lovers, or someone who knows Polymorph and can use it.
Just in case your party was having trouble breaking into things, this is a key item! When dormant, this is a set of thieves’ tools for lockpicking, and you are automatically proficient in them… And gain advantage when using them. Oh, and you get advantage on Dexterity checks to move silently. As it gets stronger, you get sneaky spells, an offensive option, and the ability to make doors of your own!
This is a pretty complex Vestige, but it works best in the hands of a rogue. They get a ranged option that comes back to them, some fantastic utility spells, and they always have a way in. But, it can be useful in anyone’s hands. So either give it to a rogue… Or give it to the opposite.
A huge, leather belt with Kord’s symbol emblazoned on the side, the Stormgirdle just screams manly. When you’re dormant? Bam, you get 21 Strength. That’s not enough, though. You can also become a Storm Avatar, being a lightning machine for a full minute, once per day. Then, your belt wakes up. BAM, 23 Strength! And now your Storm Avatar is an absolute beast. And just in case that wasn’t enough gains for you, you get to the Exalted state. BAM. 25 Strength. And your Storm Avatar is basically Kord himself.
The obvious choice for this manly belt is any frontliner you want. 25 Strength benefits everyone with any type of sharp or blunt weapon, so the more beefy your frontliner is, the better.
You normally want to put on a cloak to protect yourself from the weather but… This one is made out of rat pelts and preserved insects. So, uh… Maybe wash it a little first.
As expected, this cloak makes you immune to disease and, eventually, poison damage. You can become a rat and gain darkvision while it’s dormant, as well as becoming rather good at sniffing out things. As it gets stronger, it can cast stronger spells and give you more options for movement or transformation. And a poisonous bite!
First of all, and most importantly… Gross.
In all seriousness, this is one of the least directed Vestiges in Wildemont. It’s a super good, well-rounded cloak, so casters or martials alike can really benefit from its utility.
Or just give it to whoever can resist the stench of a dozen rats woven into a coat.
Wreath of the Prism
I’m assuming Matt Mercer was looking at the “I seduce the dragon” meme for this one…
Another item of Tiamat, a draconic entity who has an Arm of the Betrayer. Her crown, while dormant, gives Darkvision, and lets you attempt to Dominate Monster a beast, dragon, or monstrosity of CR 5 or lower. This, funnily enough, has no limit. None. If the target saves, it’s immune to 24 hours. If it’s failed, it’s dominated. And you can do this as many times as you can land hits. Crazy.
When awakened, it affects CR 10 creatures, and the DC increases, and the exalted Wreath follows that trend; CR 15 creatures, higher DC.
This is a rather specific ability, but unlike the charm ability of, for example, the Nature Cleric, this actually works really well. Give this to a ranged character but do remember that this only affects 3 types of monsters. If you’re fighting a Lich, consider not attuning to this for the day.
Wrapping up the Vestiges of Divergence 5E Guide
While not necessarily as powerful as the Arms of the Destroyer, the Vestiges get rid of the troublesome demonic personality, and the minor detriments that the Arms rack up. Instead, they pack immensely powerful utility that can be the difference between life or death. Consider asking around about these artifacts, or artifacts like these, if you’re in Wildemont. You’ll want them to awaken fast!
If you’re a GM, then consider incorporating the Dormant-to-Exalted path in your own campaigns. These artifacts can lead to rather explosive events in battles that turn total party kills into an incredible, memorable moment. They also make players more likely to hold onto strange or unique artifacts in the hopes that they may grow stronger. Because every magic item deserves a day in the spotlight, right?
That wraps up our Vestiges of Divergence 5E Guide. Any questions? Let us know in the comments below. Want more cool artifacts? Check out our guide to the Arms of the Betrayers.