Battle standards are a fantasy staple–even D&D 5E has two, but that’s not enough. Here are five magic flags from D&D’s past, ready for the future.
A battle standard fluttering high over the battlefield, inspiring allies to victory, or instilling fear in the enemy–this is such a classic image in big fantasy battles. And if we’re talking about D&D, this is a classic image too, just look at the purple dragon knight who basically lives to be covered in flags.
But in all of D&D 5th Edition, there are only two battle standards. That needs to change, so if you’re looking for a cool wondrous item to give your players, why not take inspiration from these five magic banners, straight out of D&D’s past?
Let’s start with one of the best examples of what a banner can be. The Holy Banner is a magic standard that bolsters allies within 60 feet, granting them a +2 bonus to all saves. It also turns undead as a 12th level priest, and has a chance to dispel hostile “priestal spells” casts by evil priests (or just flip the alignments and make it command undead to represent an evil-aligned deity).
Banner of Insults
Now that we’ve gotten the iconic magic banner out of the way, let’s get weird. The Banner of Insults is a magic banner that appears and functions like any other magic banner (including the ones on this list), but when viewed by a creature of 6 or more hit dice, the message displayed is “quite insulting” and “deeply personal.” It cannot be seen by the bearer or their allies, but any creature seeing it has a 90% chance of investigating and will probably attack whomever holds such an insulting standard.
This magical black banner bears the outline of a dragon. When unfurled and displayed (such as from the top of a ship, or by a knight charging down a hill), it creates the illusion of an immense, three-headed multicolor dragon spewing fie and clawing at the air, centered on the flag. Of course, the illusion is entirely visual, without benefit of sound or smell, so whatever advantage you gain, you’ll have to make use of quick.
Banner of Bravery
This banner only works if it is carried towards an enemy or dangerous area, but when seen by any allied creature, the banner apparently reads “Excelsior” and NPCs and monsters will follow the user without regard to personal safety. At least until the magic wears off.
Banner of Privacy
This magical banner, taken from the Book of Marvelous Magic, perhaps one of my favorite tomes of D&D Apocrypha, reads “Keep Out” and has a 66% chance of causing any monster or NPC of less than five hit dice to leave the area it’s displayed in undisturbed.
There are more, of course, but this is a great way to get started. So let your freak flag, your fast flag, your fire flags–really let whatever flag you want fly the next time you sit down to play D&D.