While the world watched the peaceful transition of power to United States President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on Tuesday, the internet was instead fixated on Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. His mittens, along with a pensive posture at the inauguration on Tuesday, have been rapidly turned into a meme for the ages. So far they’ve turned up in virtually every video game known to man and, as of Thursday night, they’ve also been welcomed into the fold by the Dungeons & Dragons community.
That’s right: Bernie’s mittens are now a magic item in D&D. In fact, they’re so clever and so powerful that I’d love to focus an entire homebrew campaign on them.
A little something for your crew#dnd5e #ttrpg #BernieSanders pic.twitter.com/9Mi5fYqhXS— Bebarce #blacklivesmatter (@bebarce) January 21, 2021
Called the Mittens of Redistribution, they’re the brainchild of game designer Bebarce El-Tavis, creator of the Power Outage system.
“When the cold winds blow,” writes El-Tavis in the flavor text, “and change is in the air, one must grasp and hold on tight to the ideals of the greater good. Those ideals are knitted into the fabric of these mittens, and deliver boons to all within the party.”
Their stat block is missing a few key features common to 5th edition magic items, like the type of magic item that the mittens are and whether or not they require attunement (which they absolutely should). But that’s the sort of stuff Dungeon Masters can determine on their own while balancing their home games. It’s the powers that make these mittens sing.
Their key feature is called Redistribution of Wealth. A player simply passes their mittened hands over a piece of unwanted gear, and the item is instantly converted into gold coins equal to its fair market value and shared evenly among party members.
The mittens’ secondary feature is also quite powerful — especially if your party finds themselves in Icewind Dale at the moment. Lending a Hand, as it’s called, can do one of the following for everyone in the party:
- Grant +5 against cold attacks
- Grant +3 to Charisma checks when outside of combat
- Seize the means of Production, giving +5 on all grapple and climbing checks
- Provide Universal Healthcare, granting every member of the party one use of the Healing Word spell
- Grant advantage in offensive rolls against Chaotic Evil creatures
If you’re seriously considering giving the Mittens of Redistribution to your players, you’ll probably want to make that secondary feature a daily action with a time limit — an hour feels about right. DMs might also want to see about giving the mittens a limited number of charges overall that reset on a daily or weekly basis. Another option, of course, is to make no restrictions whatsoever and let the game-breaking begin.
I could also see the Mittens of Redistribution being the focus of an entire adventure, a mythical item just out of reach of players until the very end. I think it would go nicely with a quest where the players need to restore a kingdom or a city that has been diminished by the reign of a capricious, petty ruler. Maybe there’s a plague as well.
El-Tavis isn’t selling the mittens, which sounds about right given their real-world inspiration. But, if you have any kids in your life who have expressed a desire to play a tabletop role-playing game then you should absolutely check out Power Outage: Core Guide Book — now available on DriveThruRPG.