Scads of Magic

Imagination!

I’ve long been a fan of Seventh Sanctum, and tonight I decided to play around with the magic item generator. You get names for items that don’t always make sense, but often have in them something you can use … with a little imagination!

So, here’s a scad of magic items in thumbnail sketch form, plus a couple with names I loved that even I wasn’t sure how to flesh out with actual gamable abilities.

+1 Banded Mail of Heat Resistance: Stay comfortable in hot weather (summons cold air from elemental air plane), -1 damage per dice of fire damage

Amazon’s Pill: As heroism spell, females only

Barrel of Monkeys: Can summon 3d4 monkeys, once per week

Beggar’s Sandals: Feel no hunger or thirst if one eats/drinks once per week

Celestial Cube: When subjected to magic light, produces a prismatic/rainbow spell of the same or lower level

Coat of Sludge Repulsion: Cannot be engulfed by oozes

Coat of Slyness: Better pick pocketing, hides stolen goods

Earrings of Dancer’s Grace: +1 to AC, +1 to saves involving movement, gain ability to dance (fascinate as bard) once per day

Elemental Gauntlet: Gauntlet can on command turn into one of the following – an elemental earth gauntlet that smashes stone and +1 save vs. acid; a white hot gauntlet of metal that deals +1d6 fire damage and +1 save vs. fire; a gauntlet of ice that deals +1d6 cold damage and +1 save vs. cold; a sphere of swirling air that grants +2 AC vs. missile attacks and +1 save vs. electricity

Elixir of Blood Control: One can cause their own wounds or others to stop bleeding with a glance

Ethereal Brew: When poured out, it causes a whirlwind on the ethereal plane

Evil Drum: Bonus to hit for goblinoids

Flute of Ooze Alteration: Forces oozes to save vs. dancing; bards can cause them to move as they wish within sound

Fork of Time: When banged against metal, it forces all time displaced creatures within 100 ft. to shift into the present; against adamantine or mithral, it shifts the adventurers ahead 1 hour (do not move in space)

Hand Axe of Wind Shield: Can be swung around to create a wall of wind, when thrown, accompanied by a gust of wind

Hauberk of Revealing: Light reflected from this mail dispels illusions and reveals hidden and secret things

Haunted Tower Shield: Once per day can become a portal into the negative zone, releasing a single incorporeal spirit (HD no higher than users) to attack a foe

Helm of Ritual Fish Seduction: Hmmm … next!

Infernal Sitar: Playing causes people’s shoes to heat up (as heat metal)

Jar of Thought Absorption: One can hold a thought in the jar by putting against the ear and thinking; the thought cannot be accessed by mind reading – mage’s can do this with spells; can put thought back into head in same way – others can try, but may take Int damage

Massive Helm: A large, spherical helm – silly looking, but +3 to AC

Mechanism of Amazon Slaying: I have no idea, but what a great weird name

Pendant of Magma: Allows one to walk across magma and lava with no damage or sinking

Rainstick of Calming: Berserkers and barbarians cannot go nuts in its presence

Ring of Knocking: As knock spell, 3/day

Ruby Draft of Abjuration: Drink liquid to gain abjuration spell – water (1st), wine (2nd), other potion (3rd, and gain abilities of that potion); usable 1/day, spell remains in memory for 1 hour

Salve of Gold: Like fool’s gold spell, enough for ten tiny items

Sapphire Net: Becomes a large web of blue energy that can entrap air elementals and gaseous creatures

Sphere of Ursus: Metal sphere with a copper, silver and gold bear; copper bear summons a black bear, silver brown and gold polar; 1 bear per week, from a ray that fires from the sphere up to 30 feet away; destroying the orb summons a cave bear

Staff of Slime Absorption: Can absorb up to 6 HD of oozes or slimes (1 HD = 5 square feet); when broken or released, they all appear adjacent to staff; can also be ejected as a 30’ cone of acid (damage dice equal to HD absorbed)

Titan’s Wand: Can cast one third level magic-user spell per day, but requires two magic-users to swoosh it

Traveler’s Stick: +5 ft. per round to walking speed, walk twice as long without being fatigued

White Javelin: When it strikes undead, it absorbs their negative energy, up to 6 HD, turning the javelin black – the black javelin then absorbs levels/HD of living creatures until it negates the negative energy, so don’t touch it without a mithral gauntlet

Okay – one more, inspired by watching MST3K’s take on Cave Dwellers

Helm of the Black Swan: Once per day, a roll of “1” can be turned into a “20”, or a roll of “20” can be turned into a “1” within sight of the wearer.

 

Word Up

From “Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba’s Forty Thieves” via Wikipedia

Here are a few ideas on incorporating magical (or at least powerful) words into the treasure tables in your game.

All of these words are potential replacements for the venerable treasure map (which itself is a great piece of treasure). If you’re playing a game without treasure maps on the treasure list, you might need to reexamine your life choices. Or, you could just add it to the list of magic scrolls.

Fechtbuchs
“Fechtbuch” is a German word for a book that teaches warriors how to fight with word and illustrations. The fechtbuch concept can be used for all classes, of course, and it occurred to me last night that the value of one of these books could be to grant a character an XP bonus, maybe +5% or +10% at the most, while they are earning XP to gain their new level. When the new level is gained, the book is of no more use to them – they’ve learned everything they’re going to learn from it.

The cursed version would do the opposite – a book written by a fool that makes true learning harder than it should be. Imagine trying to deal with a real hippopotamus after reading some nonsense in an old medieval bestiary.

Passwords
A password gained in one room might help one get past a trap or monster in another room, or even another dungeon. “Swordfish” is a classic from the Marx Brothers movie Horse Feathers, and who can forget “open sesame” (or “open sez me” if you’re a Popeye fan).

Passwords can be mundane – as in a word spoken to guards to permit passage past them – or they can be magical, as in a word spoken to disarm a magic trap or lock. Perhaps every lock and trap has a mystic password given to it by its creator during the act of creation, and high level thieves have a knowledge of such passwords. While they use their picks and tools, they also whisper these words to the lock, hoping to find the one that opens it.

The “cursed” version of this would be the word that causes bad things to happen, a’ la the infamous “bree-yark” in The Keep on the Borderlands.

Secret Words
Secret words are not all that different from passwords, I suppose, but with them the power of the word is definitely magical. Secret words work on living creatures, including non-sentient creatures. The words are tied to a particular type of creature and they have a single effect. The word can be used one or two or three times before it loses its power.

The effects of a secret word should be non-offensive, and could include making the creature friendly, stopping a charging or pursuing creature in its tracks, or undoing a special attack or defense of the monster (such as “turning off” a medusa’s petrifying gaze) for a short period of time.

The mystical word “Nee” comes immediately to mind.

True Names
True names are not terribly different from secret words, though they are potentially more powerful. The idea is that every creature from beyond the mortal realm, demons, devils, demodands, angels, elementals, etc., has a secret true name that permits the speaker control over them. The true name should probably be treated as a spell – thus once spoken, it is forgotten. Otherwise, you’re giving an adventurer a pet monster to sic on his enemies, and that’s a bit more than any adventurer should get. The word, when spoken to its owner, could act as a command, suggestion or geas spell – whatever makes the GM comfortable.

Rincewind by Paul Kidby, found at Wikipedia

The true name can be used in a summoning spell to bring that specific creature to you (rather than pot luck) and put it under control. If you know the true name but don’t know the owner, a GM could give a flat 1% chance that the creature you’re speaking to is the owner of the true name you have learned. After all, fantasy stories and fairy tales are full of such odd coincidences. Speaking the true name to the wrong creature, however, might be disastrous – the creature will know what you were trying to do and may resent it.

A good example of a true name is Rumpelstiltskin.

Words of Power
Words of power take things up yet another level. These words are, in effect, the power word spells (and maybe a few others, such as control weather) in a form that anyone can use. Again, you are allowed one use to a customer, and perhaps that use comes with ramifications, as the keepers of cosmic order do not care to have things disordered by irresponsible adventurers.

Conceptually, I’m thinking of these being like the powerful spell that lodged itself in the head of Terry Pratchett’s magic-user Rincewind. Have the word of power displace a spell that a character can normally prepare (even clerics) or a skill or maneuver a non-spellcaster can normally use. A thief, for example, learns the power word kill spell, but while it’s in her head she cannot move silently, hide in shadows or pick pockets, making her a very effective murderer, but a lousy thief.

The Greek word “logos”, from Wikipedia

Scientific Items for Blood and Treasure

It’s been too long since my last post, but I’ve been pretty busy editing Blood & Treasure Second Edition. While the second edition is mostly about fixing errors and streamlining rules, I also decided to add a little extra to the game to make it more than just a revision. What I came up with was a few scientific items to spice up dungeon treasures. The items are, of course, optional for those TKs who do appreciate science fantasy.

Here’s a little sneak peek at the items.

Scientific Items

Some TK’s may wish to mingle some science (or science-fantasy, really) into their game. Perhaps their campaign is set long after a great war that left the world in a primitive state, and thus powerful scientific artifacts are hidden in ruins. On the other hand, it could be a “sword & planet” or planetary romance campaign, not unlike the world of Barsoom in Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter of Mars series of books, which mingles objects of super science alongside swords and armor.
Whatever the reason, the following tables can be used to roll random scientific treasures to include in your dungeon ruins.

d%         Science Value01-12     Power crystals (1d6)
13-18     Bionics
19-21     Blaster
22-23     Brain implant
24-29     Chronometer
30-34     Cubitron
35-37     Electro-whip
38-41     Exoskeleton
42-44     Flying discs
45-47     Force belt
48-50     Holo-projector
51-58     Infrared goggles
60-61     Jet belt
62-63     Laser sword
64-68     Mutagen capsule
69          Preservation collar
70-75     Ray gun
76-78     Shock gloves
79-83     Sonic pick
84-89     Spacesuit
90-92     Throwing disc
93-97     Tri-scanner
98-00     Vibro-dagger

The items will require a flow chart to figure out.
Here are a couple descriptions:

Bionics: Bionics are scientific items that can be attached to living bodies, improving them in various ways. The table below determines what bionic part was found:

d6 Bionic
1. Arm—left
2. Arm—right
3. Eye
4. Leg—left
5. Leg—right
6. Pincer

A bionic part can either be held up to a freshly severed stump, in which case it attaches itself (and stops the bleeding), or it can be opened and then sealed over the body part. In this latter case, the bionic item soon destroys the part it was fastened over (a painful process) and ruins it for future use.

Bionic items are not powered by power crystals. Rather, they integrate themselves into one’s own body, and power themselves biologically. Each bionic implant a character has “drains” one point of constitution while it is still implanted. When removed, the drained point of constitution is restored (though the body part is not).

Arm: Increase strength by +1; if both arms are bionic, unarmed damage is 1d4

Eye: Darkvision to 60’, find secret doors on roll of 1 to 4 on 1d6

Leg: Increase speed by +10 feet per round; leap 15 feet forward and 5 feet backward or straight up

Pincer: Gain melee attack for 1d6+1 damage; opponents suffer -2 penalty to save vs. grapple attacks

Skullcap: Increase intelligence by +2

Blaster: A blaster is a large device that fits over one’s hand. It is powered by one’s life force rather than a power crystal. Each time it is used, the user must pass a saving throw or suffer 1 point of constitution drain. This drain cannot be healed until the device is removed, which requires a character to roll d% under her combined intelligence and wisdom scores.

While attached to a character, the blaster can send out a laser blast (120’ line, ignores half of armor’s armor bonus, deals 3d6 fire damage) or a sonic blast (60’ cone, 2d6 sonic damage, save vs. deafness for 1 hour, crystal and glass items must save or be shattered).

When a character’s constitution falls below 5, he becomes Chaotic. If constitution is reduced to 0, the user becomes a mindless zombie and the blaster falls from their hand.

Flying Discs: These 2-ft. diameter metal discs can be adhered to the feet and provide the ability to levitate up to 60 feet off the ground, or fly at a speed of 60 feet per round. They consume 1 charge from their power crystals per 10 minutes of use.

Laser Sword: These swords appear to be no more than a pommel until activated. They drain 1 charge from their power crystal per minute of use. Laser swords give off light as a torch and ignore half of non-magic armor’s armor bonus. Laser swords deal 1d10 damage.

Power Crystal: These small, luminous crystals provide power for scientific items. Each crystal holds 10 charges when it is found (unless it is found in an object that was being used, in which case it has 1d10 charges).

Sonic Pick: This 8” long metal wand can be used to find secret doors, open locks and find and remove traps. The user must roll 1d20 under their intelligence score to successfully use the device. Each use uses 1 charge.

And if Brutorz Bill is reading this – yeah, the mutagen capsules come with a little random mutation table.

Six Dandy Daggers

Nothing fancy today, just six magic daggers you might find useful in your game.

Image found HERE

Koroth’s Crippling Blade
This +1 dagger, when it strikes on a critical hit, buries itself in the victim’s body, assuming the victim is not killed by the blow. The dagger continues to deal 1 point of damage each round, and the victim is considered to be crippled (per the condition). The dagger can only be removed by its owner, after a remove curse or dispel magic is cast, or by making a Bend Bars/Lift Gates task check. If the dagger is pulled out, it deals a final 1d4 points of damage on the way out.

Image found HERE

The Blade of Avarice
This +1 dagger, when balanced on left pointer finger (requires a Balance task check), will point towards the largest mass of gold (be it coins, ore, etc.) within 500 feet.

Image found HERE


Knife of the Mason
This +2 dagger deals double damage against stone, be it ordinary stone or animated stone, such as a stone golem or caryatid column. Against flesh, wood or metal, it deals half damage.

Image found HERE

The Hungry Blade of Inzo-Khan
This +2 dagger can absorb one spell of up to 6th level cast in the presence of the dagger. When it does, the pommel glows first a tepid pink (as bright as a candle), then 10 minutes later a rosy red (as bright as a torch), then an hour after that a brilliant yellow (as bright as a lantern). The spell energy must be discharged from the blade to make the glow stop. The energy can either be channeled into a free spells (already prepared or known) of 1st to 3rd level if the dagger’s wielder is an arcane spell caster, or by making a hit with the dagger that beats an opponent’s AC by an amount equal to the level of the spell absorbed.  After 12 hours of glowing yellow, the dagger finally leaps from the wielder’s hands and dances, attacking the wielder with an attack bonus equal to 5 + the level of the absorbed spell for 10 rounds.

Image found HERE


The Resurrection Blade
When this +1 dagger is used to make a backstab attack against a humanoid, and that humanoid dies, it is immediately animated as a zombie under the control of the holder of the dagger. The dagger can only control one zombie at a time, and the animation lasts for 24 hours.

Image found HERE

The Crusader’s Blade
This +2 dagger practically leaps from one’s hands in the presence of Chaotic (Evil) creatures, it is so eager to attack them. The holder, if he or she does not wish to attack, must pass a Will saving throw each round to avoid giving into the dagger’s wishes. If the dagger does kill a Chaotic (Evil) creature, the creature is immediately resurrected with a Lawful (Good) alignment. Neutrals just stay dead. Lawful (Good) creatures killed by the dagger are not reborn, but the dagger’s owner’s alignment immediately changes to Chaotic (CE) and the dagger teleports elsewhere. The owner can only be changed back to their original alignment if they are slain by the Crusader’s Blade.

Two Cinematic Hex Crawls

Over the last few days, I managed to watch some D&D-ish movies before work – just dumb luck, they just happened to be on.

The first involved a few PC’s and their henchmen taking a dangerous cruise on a quest to break an evil magic-user’s polymorph other spell on a prince, who ended up a baboon. The quest eventually takes them to the arctic and a hidden, pleasant land within the arctic. On the way, they fight monsters, counter spells and eventually break the spell. Alas – no treasure, but they’ll probably be rewarded by the prince.

The second involved five people, four men and a woman, dragged from modern times into ancient Greece. The men are made galley slaves, while an evil king tries to romance the woman. The men eventually lead a slave revolt, wash up on shore, do a little hex crawling, and are made slaves again. Luckily, one of the guys ends up with an 18/00 strength (or maybe higher), and in this capacity serve a different king, and wind up fighting Hercules himself to get back to their own time period.

The first film was Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, the second The Three Stooges Meet Hercules. Scoff if you will, but the second flick is probably close to most D&D campaigns than the first. Oh, we all dream of Lord of the Rings-caliber gaming, but bumbling insanity is often what we get.

Both films were lots of fun – I’d actually never managed to watch the Sinbad flick, despite being a fan of Harryhausen – so here are a few bits and pieces inspired by these movies:

Giant Walrus

From HERE

Size/Type: Huge Animal
Hit Dice: 11
Armor Class: 16
Attack: 1 bite (2d6)
Movement:15 (Swim 60)
Saves: F5 R8 W13
Alignment: Neutral (N)Intelligence: Animal
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 550 (CL 11)

Giant walruses are much like their smaller counterparts, though they are more aggressive.

Minoton

From HERE

Size/Type: Large Construct
Hit Dice: 6
Armor Class: 18
Attack: 1 gore (1d10) or by weapon (2d6)
Movement: 30
Saves: F11 R12 W12
Resistance: Fire, electricity
Alignment: Neutral (N)
Intelligence: Non-
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 600 (CL 7)

Minotons are bronze automatons made by magic-users for brute labor and basic fighting. Most are armed with spears. They are tireless and immune to all mind effects, and only obey the commands of their creator.

Troglodyte

From HERE

Size/Type: Large Giant
Hit Dice: 4
Armor Class: 14
Attack: 1 gore (1d6) and 1 slam (1d4) or by weapon (2d6)
Movement: 30
Saves: F10 R14 W15
Alignment: Neutral (N)Intelligence: Low to Average
No. Appearing: 1d4
XP: 200 (CL 4)

Troglodytes are large, primitive ancestors of human beings. They speak the language of simple primates, and though fearsome are not particularly aggressive. Female humanoids get a +2 reaction bonus with male troglodytes.

Eye of the Tiger

From HERE

Level: Magic-User 3
Range: Personal
Duration: 10 minutes

When this spell is cast, a magic-user’s eyes become cat-like (giving them darkvision to a range of 60′). Any feline they look upon within 60′ must pass a Will saving throw or the magic-user turns into a vapor and inhabits the cat’s body. The magic-user retains her own intellect, and gains the fighting ability of the cat. The magic-user can leave the cat’s body at any time, but if they are still inside the cat when it is killed, they die along with it.

Two-Headed Cyclops

From HERE

Size/Type: Huge Giant
Hit Dice: 16
Armor Class: 16
Attack: 2 weapons (3d6) or boulder (100’/3d6)
Movement: 40
Saves: F3 R7 W8; +2 save vs. mind effects
Alignment: Chaotic (CE)Intelligence: Low
No. Appearing: 1
XP: 800 (CL 16)

The two-headed cyclops stands about 50′ tall. It is terribly bright, but it really doesn’t need to be to get along.

Sleeping Pills

These magic items are akin to potions. They are made in lots of 4, and each pill packs the punch of a potion of sleep. Saves against them are saves against magic, not poison.

Dragon by Dragon – March 1980 (35)

This week (or month, depending on how you look at it), The Dragon greets us with a very 1980’s bit of Cold War schtick – a couple commies about to get whooped by either a bunch of heavily armed and magical snowmen, or some U.S. Marines in disguise. Either way, not a good day for the Russkis. Luckily, we’ll never have to worry about Russia actively trying to conquer its neighbors … never mind.

Let’s dive in!

#1. From Avant-Garde to Mainstream

From the Dragon Rumbles column:

“Judging from the 43rd Hobby Industry of America trade show, held Jan. 27-30 in Anaheim, Calif., our once lonely pastime has arrived with a vengeance. According to what the buyers and store owners were saying, adventure gaming (for want of another term) is booming, with the heavy emphasis on fantasy. Sales of Advanced D&D DMG bear this out; it is the best-selling game/gamebook of all time.”

I wonder if that still holds. From what I understand, sales back in the old days were much higher than they are now.

#2. Oops

I did a thing a while back about type-o spells. In an article on errata in the AD&D books, Allen Hammack introduces a few screwed up magic items:

RING OF THREE WITCHES— Rather self-explanatory. It looks like any other magic ring and will radiate a dweomer if detected for. If summoned or commanded to function or if a wish is made upon it, the three witches (each a 20th level chaotic evil Magic-User) will issue forth and wreak havoc.

CUBE OF FARCE —Upon pressing this cube, a field of force will spring up just as in the Cube of Force, but on the interior of the cubic field the operator of the Cube is subjected to 6 different “comedies” at the same time, and must save vs. spell or he will be insane for 1-10 rounds. The “comedies” are “Gilligan’s Island”, “Hee Haw”, “Hello, Larry” , “I Love Lucy”, “Good Times”, and “The White House Press Conference.”

CARPET OF FRYING— When this magic carpet is sat upon and commanded to do anything, it will paralyze the person(s) on the carpet (save applicable), causing the person(s) to stretch out along its length. It will then begin to radiate a temperature of 375° F. and continue until the victim is well-done. Needless to say, the smell of frying human (or halfling or elf or dwarf or gnome or half-orc) will attract any monsters in the area who are fond of such delicacies.

WAND OF LIGHTENING —This wand, whether directed at an opponent or oneself, will cause the operator to gradually become weightless. Once the wand is activated it cannot be stopped until the process is complete (5 rounds). Treat as gaseous form to see if the victim is blown by air currents, although the victim will obviously not be able to pass through cracks or holes. See what messing up one little letter in a spell can do?

#3. Black Holes!

In an article on Traveller variants by James Hopkins, we get a neat little table on random black holes:

AD BREAK

Finally a new one from Ral Parth – The Clerics

The one on the left look a little dramatic, huh? The one on the right is calling his shot before he knocks a goblin head over the fence. You can buy them here.

#4. Experience Points

Len Lakofka does an alternative way to hand out XP. Here’s the quick rundown:

1. A character amasses at least one half of the experience points he or she needs to gain a promotion (level) (an option allows this percentage to be as low as 30% for a 20th level figure).

2. He or she seeks a person (preferably) two or more levels higher but of the same race and alignment, to train him or her in the skills needed to fully gain the new level.

3. The cost of this training varies from as little as 10 s.p. for 1 x. p. to as much as 2 g.p. for 1 x.p.

4. The training time is computed in days or fractions of days, and during that period the figures are bound in what amounts to a sworn oath in the name of their Gods to be honorable, faithful
and loyal to one another.

Why are experience points given to a character? The methods are:

1. For killing opponents (“monsters”), as per AD&D.

2. For defeating, subduing, enspelling opponents (“monsters”), a one-half award. (Note: killing an enspelled monster still only gains the half award unless the killing is done immediately and not after questioning or having the figure perform some act )

3. For learning the use of magic items (per the awards in the Dungeon Masters Guide for magic items) by experiment and experience, NEVER from the use of a spell or through magic in a
device.

4. From protracted use of an item (weapons and armor, etc. )

5. For certain one-time uses of an item in an “adventure situation.”

6. For acts directly related to a character’s profession.

I’ve admitted in the past that I was a terrible AD&D player, because I never really read the books. I was a Moldvay/Cook punk who grabbed classes, spells, monsters and magic items from AD&D, but I never really used the rules. So the bit about XP for learning to use magic items is interesting – I always figured you just got fat XP for finding a magic item. Maybe you did in AD&D, or maybe I missed the actual rule. I have no idea. Guess I’ll break out the DMG and find out later today.

#5. Same Crap, Different Decade

“Unfortunately, not all particular wargame enthusiasts are able to “minimize losses and maximize gains.” Frequently, wargames allow individual players to display some extreme prodigality, giving bystanders the impression that wargamers are nothing but impassive warmongers who are bent upon destruction, with all its violent emotions, whatever the cost may be. These “war-moralizers” feel that a new race of fascists and communists will be born, with the instinctive impressions that war and its wastefulness is the way of life. Moreover, other groups of “war-moralizers” say that wargaming is an act of practicing the willful murder of mankind condemned by God. And all of this moralizing comes from just playing a game!”

Sound familiar. These days, the emotionally immature are playing the “disagreement = violence” argument, but it all boils down to the same damn thing – tyranny. One person or group gets to direct the lives of all others – what they may say, may do, how they do it, etc.

I want to make sure folks know that Theron Kuntz, in this article, is lamenting and arguing against the bullshit moralizers of the period.

If you love freedom – yours as well as the freedom of others to piss you off – Fight On!

#6. Touched (Really Hard) by an Angel

William Fawcett has a nice article on angels (which of course first has to assure the religious that this is make-believe, so get that pissy look off your face). The article gives you a look at the history of angels (or of lesser divine beings, if you prefer), the hierarchy of Heaven, and then stats for the different angels.

You get seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominations, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels and angels of the ninth order. All the classics. Makes me want to write an overpowered angel PC class using those as the level titles … maybe next week.

Here’s a sample, using Blood and Treasure stats.

Angel of the Ninth Order

Size/Type: Large Outsider
Hit Dice: 8
Armor Class: 21 [+1]
Attack: 1 strike (4d6)
Movement: 30 (Fly 60)
Saves: F8 R8 W8
Immunities:
Resistance: Magic 50%
Alignment: Lawful (LG)
Intelligence: High
No. Appearing: 1 or 1d4
XP: 2,000

Spells: At will–cure light wounds, purify food & drink, hold person, tongues, plane shift (others), speak with dead, blade barrier, cure disease; 1/day–control weather.

#7. Giants in the Earth

I always enjoy Lawrence Schick and Tom Moldvay’s GitE articles. This issue features:

Cecelia Holland‘s MUIRTAGH THE BOWMAN (16th level bard, 7th level fighter, 5th level thief) – with a great piece by Erol Otus. And, it turns out she was born right here in Southern Nevada, in Henderson, back when it was a factory town producing magnesium for the war effort.

H. Rider Haggard‘s UMSLOPOGAAS (15th level fighter)

Henry Kuttner‘s EDWARD BOND (9th level fighter)

Henry Kuttner’s GANELON (25th level fighter) – with some very early Jeff Dee artwork

They also detail the Sword of Llyr from Kuttner. The sword doubles Ganelon’s psionic strength and ability, and gives him some extra psionic disciplines: Invisibility, ESP, Body Equilibrium, Expansion, Mass Domination and Teleportation.

#8. Quickfloor

You’ve heard of quicksand (especially if you’re my age), but Stephen Zagieboylo invented magical “quickfloor” for dungeons. People sink in 1d4+3 rounds (or 1d4+2 if in chainmail, 1d4+1 in platemail). The first person in the marching order has a 40% chance of noticing it, halflings have a 60% chance. Characters have a chance to cross safely based on their dexterity – For 3-5 a 10% chance, for 6-9 a 25% chance, for 10-13 a 50% chance, for 14-16 a 80% chance and for 17-18 a 90% chance. If you tie a rope between two wooden posts that flank the quickfloor, you create a magic bridge that allows people to cross safely, but kills anyone already in the quickfloor (I guess by solidifying it).

QUICK ASIDE

Q: Who was the top ranked AD&D player in the U.S.A. in 1980?

A. Bob Blake

Now you know.

#9. Citadel Miniatures

Great ad from Citadel, with their characteristically great mini illustrations.

 

Now, what can we do with this ad?

Idea 1 – Make a game. Pick a miniature, or do a die drop and see what you land on – that’s your character. Use Risus or something to get some stats, equipment, etc and then invade the Tomb of Horrors.

Idea 2 – The spacefarer miniatures look like a rough draft for Rogue Trader and Warhammer 40,000. Reimagine what the game would have looked like with these illustrations as your guide. Imperial Marines with puffy sleeves instead of bulky armor.

AD BREAK

Yeah, the last bit was an ad as well, but check these out …

We have an OSR for tabletop games … is there also an OSR for old-style computer rpgs? Honestly don’t know – but I bet they’d make great apps for smart phones.

Coming soon to these reviews …

No wormy in this issue, so I’ll leave you with this image from the “Oasis” short story by Cynthia Frazer

So, I need to write an Angel PC class, and a Beastrider class this week.

Magic Keys

From the Graphics Fairy

A few idea for magic keys you can drop into your campaign. All of them work in essentially the same way – a small, simple key of an interesting material that can open doors that are not there in different materials. To work, the holder of the key must close their eyes, hold their breath, stick the key out slowly, and then turn it slowly. The door then opens. The keys have a 1 in 6 chance of working, so they’re not a sure thing.

Where do these doors lead? The key opens a door onto one of the following (D10):

1-3) An ornate room with furnishings and decorations dependent on the material in which the door was situated, and attended by like creatures. Thus, a black key opening a room into shadows will open into a room of black marble with gauzy black curtains and thicker, black velvet curtains and dark wood furniture with cushions in shades of grey attended by shadows. The room is safe, and can be stayed in for 1 hour before it fades back into the plan of which it is composed and sends the occupants back from whence they came.

4-7) A long tunnel that leads to a second door which opens back into the material world. This second door will appear in the same material as the first, so a door opened through fire can only lead to a second door situated in fire.

8) A long stair leading deep down into the plane (or a demi-plane) appropriate to the key that opened the door, thus opening a door in stone will lead to the elemental earth plane.

9) The door leads to the key-holder’s childhood home, wherever it was (even if it is now a ruin, or just an open field).

10) A tunnel that leads back to the same door, but 1d6 hours later or 1d6 hours earlier. If it leads back in time, all that the characters had done in the world over that time has been undone, though the effects they suffered through remain evident on their minds, bodies and souls.

The material of the key governs what they key will work on, as follows:

Gold –> Natural stone

Amber –> Trees, hedge rows, brambles, thickets

Meteoric Iron –> Shadows and the night air

Copper –> Fire

Smoky glass –> Smoke

Silver –> Water, fog and mist

Green wood –> Spring Breezes

Bone –> Mausoleums and tombstones

Tin –> Laughter and thunderous applause (must “fill the air”)

Porcelain –> Weeping and wailing (as above)

Folded paper –> Riotous anger and yelling (as above)

Tarnished brass and tied with a fairy lock –> Hillsides

Dessicated and twisted wood –> Sand dunes

Notions on Potions

Potions are one-use magic items that need to make contact with the skin in order to deliver their effect, which is usually based on a magic spell. Simple, right?

By and large, potions show up in treasure hordes in the form of edible concoctions (referred to as potions) and oil. In either case, they are presumably kept in little bottles that hold maybe a fluid ounce of liquid. I wouldn’t be surprised if more than a few referees even come right out and tell their players that they’ve found a potion.

Potions do not have to take the form of little bottles of liquid magic, though. And even when they do, they do not need to be distinctive from other common liquids. Keep your players guessing with a few of these alternate or variant forms for magic potions and oils:

Acid – something must be burned to release the magic

Beer – magical beers work well with rustic folk, like halflings – naturally one can use magical ales, stouts, etc.

Blade – a small blade, it must be run across the palm and draw blood – the mixture of blood and steel releases the magic worked into the blade

Brackish water – just because it’s disgusting, doesn’t mean it isn’t also magical; it will force players to check out those seemingly useless puddles on dungeon floors

Candies

Candle – this could be a delayed release version of a potion, or a potion that affects a group of people (say a potion of invisibility sphere, for example); could also require a person to burn themselves to release the magic or perhaps the candle must be snuffed to release the magic

Cheese – or any dairy – “From enchanted cows …”

Chicken – gruesome, perhaps, but the chicken or other small animal must be snuffed out to release the magic – perhaps appropriate for the temples of evil cultists

Cord – perhaps it must be cut, or maybe it must be tied into a bow to release the magic

Cosmetics – lipstick, rouge, eye shadow – could be embarrassing for rugged adventurers; with lipstick, one person might have to put it on, but another might have to kiss them to release the spell, which then affects them both

Cracker – not the biscuit, but the Christmas favor; several crackers that must be pulled simultaneously by a group could be even better

Dye – the dye must be spilled on an item or one’s skin to release the magic, and the stain remains long after

Eggs – they must be cracked open, releasing a poof of foul-smelling gas that is sniffed to gain the benefit

Elixir – just a variant term for potion

False mustache – the mustache must be applied, and lingers thereafter until shaved off

Firecracker – see the cracker above; especially good for an Asian-themed campaign or dungeon

Flower – pluck a petal to release the magic; this could also work for a multi-charge (but not rechargeable) magic item

Fortune Cookie – the magic is released by cracking the cookie, and if the spell released is a divination, maybe the knowledge to be delivered is on the slip of paper inside

Glass sphere – not unlike the egg above, though perhaps not as disagreeable to the nose; could also just be a stone ball that is struck against something
Grease – a variation on oil, but might have the effect of making a person slippery

Horn – one blast from the horn releases the magic; the horn thereafter is either inert, or it disappears; the same could be done with a trill of a flute or by striking a tuning fork

Image – not a treasure item, but a magical image could be imprinted on a person’s eye and hidden beneath an eye patch – when the patch is risen, the image appears before the person and the magic is released

Lamp oil – like the candle above

Liqueur – Brandy of Invisibility, Scotch of Heroism; carries with it a chance of becoming intoxicated

Locket – the magic is hidden inside, and released when opened

Match – must be struck to release the magic

Mud – another variation on oil; remember when you twisted your ankle and your coach told you to rub some dirt on it and walk around? Same principal

Needle – a finger must be pricked, and perhaps the magic only works on a particular finger

Nosegays and asphidity bags – one strong sniff is all it takes – maybe the scent ends when the duration of the magic ends, or maybe it lingers

Paint – maybe applied to the body, or maybe to a surface (for a dimension door effect, for example)

Perfume – in this case, not all that different from oils – make the barbarian smell like lilacs if he wants the potion of healing!

Pies – after all, you’ve seen how quickly a Hostess fruit pie can take down a super villain

Pills – the higher the level of spell, the bigger the pill

Plaster – in Elizabethan times (and I think beyond), small plasters in the shapes of stars, crescent moons, etc. were applied to the face as beauty marks; perhaps these must be applied, or perhaps they must be ripped off to release the magic

Powders – inhale them, swallow them or powder your face with them

Riddle – when it is solved, the answer releases the magic

Salve – apply generously; brings to my mind the Three Stooges bit with limburger cheese; also unguents, creams and lotions

Secret – not a treasure item, but a magic-user could write a secret message on a person’s back with magical inks that releases the spell when another person reads it

Soap – you must bathe with the stuff to get the effect; this conjures up granny women and their lye soap to me

Stick – the stick must be snapped in two to release the magic

String – could be for a bow or for a musical instrument – must be strung and then plucked, at which point the magic is released and the sting snaps

Syrup – perhaps it must be mixed with carbonated water and then consumed

Tinctures – an alcoholic extract of some plant or animal, not terribly different from a potion, though maybe the tincture is applied to the eye as a drop

Tobacco – or other potent weeds, of course; must be smoked to release the magic

Tune – a slip of paper with a seemingly harmless tune, singing or whistling or humming it releases the magic; unlike a scroll, anyone could release this magic and it cannot be transferred into a spellbook, but like a scroll it only works once

Tonic – just a variant term for potion

Wafers – and cookies, biscuits, breads, etc.

Wine – many wines were spiced in the old days, and one could imagine such a preparation having arcane applications as well; or perhaps the grapes are enchanted while on the vine

Magical Strings [Magic Items]

Why magical strings? Because the idea popped into my head the other day while I was taking a walk. Enjoy …

Thread of Fate: This special thread is made from entwining gold and silver thread with hair plucked from the head of a hag. When sewn into clothing using a gold needle, the thread permits the wearer of that garment to once attempt to escape death. When faced with any event that would cause their death (hit point damage, a failed saving throw, etc.), the adventurer can ignore the event – i.e. the attack somehow misses, the saving throw is a success, etc. Once death has been escaped, the thread loses its magic unless the garment is subsequently washed in a potion of restoration.

Thread of Guiding: This magical thread, when its spool is dropped to the ground, traces the path of the person who dropped it, rolling along until it reaches its maximum distance of 300 feet. It can be re-rolled onto its spool while one follows it, but will not magically re-roll itself.

Cat’s Cradle: This is a magical string with an amethyst gleam that can be turned into a cat’s cradle by one deft with his hands (Reflex save). While held before a person, it can catch any spell thrown at the person (force effects included, but not energy or physical effects like fire or stones). The magical energies in the thread can then be flung back at the caster (and only the caster) the next round. If these energies are not so thrown within 3 rounds, they ignite the string, which deals 1d4 points of the damage to the holder of the cat’s cradle per spell level.
Obviously, while holding a cat’s cradle, one cannot wield a weapon or shield. Monks can still attack, but since they may only use their legs they suffer a -2 penalty to attack.

Memory Thread: Memory thread is a saffron colored bit of string. When tied to one’s finger, it permits them to remember one thing perfectly without fail. Magic-users can use memory string to remember a single spell of up to 2nd level, essentially gaining an extra spell slot. If the string is removed or destroyed, the memory is lost (though one could still conceivably remember it in the normal, non-magical way).

Spool of Recording: This is a spool of mahogany, well worn, without any thread. When held before a person and the command word (“Victrola”) is uttered, it causes anything said before it by a single person to take the form of a silver thread which is pulled from their mouth and reeled onto the spool. The sound of what the person said is converted into the silver string, so no sound is heard. Spells uttered in this way are disrupted.

If this string is pulled through the eye of a crystal needle, the sound can be replayed. This can only be done once. If the sound is a spell, there is a chance it will go off, based on the level of the spell, with a target chosen by the holder of the spool.

Level 0 to 1 90%
Level 2 80%
Level 3 70%
Level 4 60%
Level 5 50%
Level 6 40%
Level 7 30%
Level 8 20%
Level 9 10%

A string can also be destroyed with fire if the spool’s owner does not wish to hear it.

String Snapper: A string snapper is a magical amulet of bronze embossed with the image of scissors. By rubbing the amulet and then snapping her fingers, the owner can cause all strings within 30 feet to potentially snap. This includes the strings of instruments (though not magical instruments), bowstrings (though not of magical bows) and other taught strings. The strings in question receive a saving throw to resist the effect. Each time the amulet is used, there is a 1 in 6 chance that it dissipates into yellow smoke that smells of sulfur.

Kazoo of Power: This silver kazoo, when blown, produces no noise but causes all strings on bows or musical instruments to begin vibrating. This vibration renders an item useless for its owner, and also sets up a throbbing harmonic that causes 1 point of sonic damage per round to anyone within 10 feet of the item (cumulative). Magical items receive a saving throw to resist the effect of the kazoo of power.

Quantum Lens: A quantum lens looks like a monocle with a silvery sheen. When placed over the eye, it allows one to glimpse quantum strings that crisscross through reality. The lens also allows one to pluck these strings (or at least attempt to) to cause changes in the environment around them. The attempt requires on to make a special task check that is a Will save modified by intelligence (if one is a magic-user, sorcerer or bard) or otherwise made as if one had a knack at screwing with reality (also modified by intelligence). Different quantum effects carry with them different penalties to the task check. In any event, only one such event can be produced per day without attracting the attention of an astral deva, who will attempt to seize the quantum lens from the character with extreme prejudice.

 – Call lightning (-2)
 – Control weather (-8)
 – Control winds (-6)
 – Earthquake (-10)
 – Firestorm (-10)
 – Fog cloud
 – Gust of wind
 – Ice storm (-4)
 – Planeshift (-6)

 – Reverse gravity (-10)
 – Sleet storm (-2)
 – Whirlwind (-10)

Silver Scissors: This is a pair of scissors made from alchemical silver and engraved with various glyphs and words of power. Silver scissors can be used to cut astral threads, those threads that connect a person on one plane with his material self on another after he has traveled through the astral plane. Astral creatures can also be affected by the scissors, the cutting of the thread forcing them back into he astral plane for 24 hours.
Finding a thread is the hard part, of course. Threads usually connect to a creature’s back, and random attacks at a person’s back can be made with the scissors as though attacking Armor Class 22. If one can discern astral threads in some manner, they may attack them as though attacking Armor Class 12. Damage need not be rolled – a successful attack with the scissors cuts the thread.

Boxes and Chains

A couple magic items that popped into my head this weekend …

Bento’s Beneficient Box
Bento’s Beneficient Box appears as a simple wooden box, about 6 inches long, 4 inches wide and 3 inches tall. Each time it is opened, it is filled with one meal’s worth of food, the exact contents being random.

1 – Human meal – Tard tack and salt pork
2 – Dwarf meal – Thick gruel that tastes of dark, bitter ale, salty crackers
3 -Elf meal – Thin wafers (taste of vanilla and daisies) and a light salad
4 – Halfling meal – Meat pie and honey cakes
5 – Gnome meal – Mushroom stew and nutty cheese balls
6 – Orc mean – Grubs (still alive) soaked in bacon grease, something akin to pork rinds

The food is healthful and free of disease, but those who partake of it must pass a Fortitude saving throw (save vs. poison) or suffer the following side effects:

Human meal – +1 bonus to saving throws, inability to run away from a challenge for 24 hours

Dwarf meals – Knack for noticing stonework, become irascible and ill-tempered for 24 hours

Elf meals – Knack for noticing secret doors, become intolerably arrogant and snobby for 24 hours

Halfling meals – Knack for moving silently, become obsessed with food (consume double rations) for 24 hours

Gnome meals – Ability to speak with burrowing mammals, become an annoying practical joker and punnster for 24 hours

Orc meals – Knack for survival, become incredibly reckless and stubborn for 24 hours

Daisy’s Devious Chain
This item appears as a simple daisy chain that has been magically preserved. It is impossible to unravel the chain, and saves vs. damage as an adamantine item. The wearer of the daisy chain (helmets must be removed) gains magic resistance 5%, can discern creatures that have changed shape or that are capable of changing shape (such as lycanthropes or doppelgangers) and leaves no tracks in the wilderness. If the wearer of the daisy chain engages in battle with animals (not magical beasts), plant monsters or fey, the daisy chain animates and attacks the wearer. If fighting animals, the daisy chain becomes a constrictor snake; if fighting plants it becomes three assassin vines, and if fighting fey it becomes animated chains (per medium animated object). In all cases, the monster gains a free attack due to surprise (unless this has happened before, of course) and attacks with a +2 bonus to hit in the first round of combat. After the monster has been defeated, or after it has killed its wearer, it turns back into a daisy chain.