Long before they became commonplace in Western mythology, the legends of the Middle East featured powerful magic artifacts. Two items that I find interesting are the Seal of Solomon and the mace Sharur. The Seal of Solomon was a legendary ring rumored to hold the power to command demons. Sharur was used by the Sumerian god Ninurta used to defeat the demon Asag. Both artifacts have ties to demons which can be adapted into an appropriate backstory for the desert campaign.
Andahleeb, Smasher of Demons
When the world was first formed by the gods the boundaries between the Material Plane and the other planes were very thin in the desert. Demons and fiends were able to pass freely from their home planes into these harsh lands. These intrusions into the Material Plane did not go unnoticed by the gods, but they had bound themselves to not interfere directly in the world of mortals. Sezlene, goddess of the sun, did not agree with the stance of her brethren, but she held to the agreement. Instead of interfering directly, she would seek out a champion instead.
The scourge of demons prevented any of the higher races from settling in the desert. However, many brave souls still chose to make their homes in small settlements on the outskirts of the great sand sea. Andahleeb was born into one of these settlements. From her earliest days she would spend long hours staring out into the endless dunes and wondering what secrets they held. Her mother and father scolded her endlessly for her daydreaming, but Andahleeb’s fascination with the desert only grew as she did.
Six months before Andahleeb reached her 17th life-day her village was attacked by a horde of demons. The fiends quickly overcame the meager defense that the villagers put forth. When Andahleeb’s father fell to a demon on the threshold of their home, she quickly grabbed up her younger siblings and fled out the back. In the confusion of the slaughter Andahleeb mistakenly led her family into the desert. It was here that they were hunted and tormented by the demons for days. Andahleeb fought the creatures back every time, but eventually exhaustion overtook her and she was overcome.
Just then a blinding light appeared around Andahleeb and her siblings. The light seared the infernal demons and they were banished back to the Abyss. When the light cleared Andahleeb saw before her the form of Sezlene. The two made a bargain that in exchange for the goddess protecting Andahleeb’s family she would serve as Sezlene’s champion and cleanse the desert of the demon infestation.
Desert Artifact: Ring of Demon Command
Ring, artifact (requires attunement)
Sezlene knew that Andahleeb would face a difficult task in clearing all of the demons from the desert. A lone warrior could not do it alone, but most men would not have the courage to aid her. The goddess crafted a brass and iron ring infused with binding magic for Andahleeb to build an infernal army with. While this ring is a powerful artifact, its use comes at a cost to the wearer.
Command Demons. The ring has the ability to bind and command a number of fiends up to a total Challenge Rating of 24. For example, the wearer could command a Balor and a Barlgura at the same time or four Chasme. The fiend is entitled to a DC 30 Wisdom saving throw to resist the binding. A successful saving throw causes the demon to be banished back to its home plane. Commanded demons will remain under the wearer’s control for 8 hours per character level. They will obey any command that the wearer gives them. Once the time has expired the demon is automatically banished back to its home plane.
Soul Damage. Whenever a demon is bound by the ring the wearer takes damage of hit points equal to the CR of the creature.
Marked By Demons. Using the ring to command a demon leaves behind a faint but permanent tie between the wearer and the fiend. If the fiend somehow returns to the Material Plane it is immediately aware of the ring bearers location regardless of whether they still wear the ring. Commanded demons will always attempt to get revenge on the wearer.
Desert Artifact: Sharur
Weapon (Mace), artifact (requires attunement)
Sharur was crafted by Sezlene specifically for the destruction of demons. Runes cover the adamantine head and ironwood shaft of the weapon. Only lawful good characters may wield Sharur.
Magic Weapon. Sharur is a magic weapon that grants a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with it. It also grants a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls against fiends. The mace also does an additional 3d8 points of radiant damage against fiends.
Summon Lammasu. You may use an action to summon a lammasu. The lammasu will be your tireless companion for 8 hours. It can be used as a mount and will fight alongside you against any chaotic evil enemies. You may not use this ability until the next dawn.
Sunburst. Once per day, you may use an action to channel the energy of the sun into a massive burst of radiant energy. The burst does 10d8 points of radiant damage to all fiends within a 60 ft. radius. To use this ability the mace must have spent at least 8 hours of the previous day in sunlight.
Demonic Hostility. Once you become attuned to this weapon fiends are always hostile towards you.