Steal This D&D 5e Magic Item: Self-Driving Spikes
If I had to point to the moment where Dungeons and Dragons really clicked for me, I’d level my indicting finger at the first time I ever got an Immovable Rod. It was such a nothing magic item. The other guys got shiny +1 weapons or armor, amulets of protection, or rings of waterbreathing, but not me. I was the kid at the table and when the magic got doled out, without fail I’d be given the niche-use might be cool if you’ve got an imagination items. That’s probably why you won’t see a lot of those stat-stick world-ending homebrew items floating around on this blog. From early on, I specialized in weird, evocative, and flavorful.
So when someone–probably the wizard, Melric (ponce)–handed me this innocuous iron bar with a button, they had no idea that they were handing me a moment where my love for D&D really came into sharp focus. See, I was lusting after those +1 swords, because I love punching orcs in the face, and those help me do that better. The freedom and imagination of the system hadn’t really clicked yet. Then I got a stick with a button that, when you push the button, you can’t move the stick anymore. It doesn’t sound like much, but let me prevaricate a little further.
At some point, we got into a situation where we were running–remember running?–from a horde of goblins and their hobgoblin warchief and we’d gotten turned around. The exit was far away, the goblins knew the tunnels better than us, and we were stuck between two masses of angry critters that were about to fill our room with hurt. But I had an Immovable Rod, so I managed to seal one of those doors. We turned a terrible situation into a merely bad one. When they couldn’t catch us in the pincer movement, we funneled them into that one tunnel and threw fireballs and Molotov cocktails and arrows and whatever else we had at the encroaching horde until they broke and ran to recover elsewhere. Our hasty retreat only worked because we had an innocuous-looking bar with a button.
It’s only a niche-use magic item if you’re not thinking of niches everywhere you go. Since then, I’ve used the Immovable Rod to win bar-bets, immobilize carts, provide a sniper-perch, stop myself from drowning, hold live bait, make sure the horses don’t wander, keep thieves from stealing my pack, and yes, hold doors closed.
So today, I pay homage to this niche use magic item by offering one of my own. Meet the Self-Driving Spike.
Wonderous Item, Uncommon
Always found in bandoliers or cases of six, these seven-inch spikes of wrought-iron come to chisel-like points at one end. Their heads are flat and hexagonal, save for the small red button found in their center. When the button is pressed as an action, the spike drives itself forward six inches, exerting roughly 8,000 lbs of force. Pushing the button again moves the spike another six inches forward. Once anchored into a surface, they cannot be pried free unless a creature uses an action and succeeds on a DC 30 Strength. check to remove the spike.
The Self-Driving Spike does 2d8 damage to objects and structures and counts as a magical weapon for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. Creatures in the path of the Self-Driving Spike take 1d8 points of piercing damage and must succeed on a DC 17 saving throw or be pinned to an adjacent surface. Creatures not adjacent to a surface need not make this saving throw. Creatures pinned to surfaces due to the damage of a Self-Driving Spike must succeed on a DC 30 Strength Saving throw to remove the spike, or may spend an action to press the button again and take an additional 1d8 damage.