The Dagger of Vitality Stealing

I have recently started to spend some time trying to homebrew new items, spells, and other things for players at my Dungeons and Dragons tables. It’s fun to give them an item that you know they could not have seen before. Often I am inspired by existing weapons and that was the case for this particular item. (This item has been updated. You can find the original version here:

The Sword of Life Stealing is a weapon where on a 20 you do an extra 10 points necrotic damage and gain 10 temporary hit points. This is a classic weapon that provides a nice little damage boost and a slight buff, but does take up an attunement slot and mostly helps only on criticals.

My version is slightly different. It is a Dagger of Vitality Stealing. It shares many similarities, but depending on the build or play style the differences can affect balance.

The item description is:

The blade is incredibly delicate and fine, and is always cold to the touch.

You have a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon.

On a critical hit the target takes an additional 2d6 necrotic damage and you heal an equivalent amount.  The target is prevented from regaining hit points until your next turn.

You can use your bonus action to return the dagger to your hand, so long as it is on the same plane as you and is not contained in anti-magic field.  

Proficiency with a dagger allows you to add your proficiency bonus to the attack roll for any attack you make with it.

  • Instead of doing an additional 10 points necrotic damage it does an additional 2d6 (rolling dice is fun).
  • Instead of giving temporary hit points it heals you.
    • This changes the scenarios it is useful as:
      • Temporary hit points don’t stack.
      • You cannot heal above your maximum.
  • It does the additional damage on any critical, not just a 20, allowing builds that are more likely to get a critical to benefit more often from this weapon.
  • It prevents the target from healing until your next turn.
  • It is a +1 weapon.
  • It has the ability to return to your hand.

These changes on average make the weapon significantly more powerful.

For example, Assassin rogues who are able to get the critical if they hit in a surprise are going to be able to do extra damage with the weapon, do extra sneak attack damage, and keep the creature from healing for an entire round. This could significantly change the course of an encounter. Be aware of these interactions before giving out an item like this. You also see similar interactions from certain ‘crit-farming’ fighter builds, though they are significantly less likely to be using a dagger.

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