Codpiece of Power [Magic Item]

When attached to one’s armor, the codpiece of power actually just sits there, doing nothing. No powers at all. The magic is in the satisfaction of kicking someone’s ass while the codpiece of power stares at them with that smug look on its face.

That, or it permits the wearer to invoke the power of a potion of heroism once per day when facing a foe tougher than they are, or when outnumbered at least 3 to one.

Or maybe it can attack a foe per the lion shield (or shield of the lion, or whatever it’s called)

Or once per day, when you rub it, it answers one question for you, per the augury spell.

Any other ideas what this puppy might do?

The image above, and the images in the past post, are by Wendelin Boeheim

Perukes of Power [Blood & Treasure]

Don’t know why … don’t ask …

Cadogan of Holding: This wig is grandiose and ridiculous, being woven from two different colors of hair and being quite tall. The wearer can reach into the wig and pull out various items she has stored there, per a bag of holding (I).

Concubine’s Wig: This Egyptian-style wig of perfumed black hair allows female wearers to cast charm person three times per day and charm monster once per day. Charmed men must make additional saves each hour or be overcome by their passions. The wig just makes men look weird.

Diadem Wig: This wig of tightly curled blond hair gives the wearer the ability to cast command three times per day, and improves their charisma by 2 points while worn.

Lousey Wig: This wig of chestnut hair is crawling with nits and lice. Once per day, by shaking it vigorously, the wearer can summon an insect plague, which rises from the wig itself.

Periwig of the Rake: This wig is highly valued by duelists. Examples are either stark white and tied in ponytails, or composed of a heap of black curls. The wig grants the wearer a +2 bonus when using special maneuvers, grants non-duelists the ability to riposte as a 1st level duelist and grants duelists a +2 bonus to hit and damage when riposting.

Wig of Decay: This full, curled whig of auburn hair is cursed, making the wearer break out in open sores and effectively reducing their charisma to 3. While it is worn, the wearer also suffers a -2 penalty to saving throws vs. disease.

Wig of Glowering: This white, powdered magistrate’s wig allows the wearer to cause fear (as the spell), once per day, by scowling.

Wig of Insect Repulsion: These powdered wigs, when fluffed or shifted vigorously, produce a 15-ft. radius cloud of white powder that forces vermin to pass a Will save to enter the cloud, and even then forces them to save vs. poison (Fort) each round they are in the cloud or suffer 1d4 points of damage. The cloud persists for 1d4+2 rounds and can be created once per day.

Wig of Medusa: This wig has long, red locks that hang down to the hips. They can be animated by the wig wearer, making three grapple attacks using the wearer’s attack bonus.

Wig of Sneezing: This powdered wig can, once per day, create a cloud of powder equivalent to powder of sneezing.

(Welcome to those from the Sneeze Fetish Forum! You’ve got to love the way the internet connects everyone to everyone eventually)

Sorry folks – no magical merkins for now …

Will Kaanga Rue the Day He Met Bwana Black-Jaw?

See what I did there? Kaanga. Rue. Yeah – spent more time on the title than the rest of the post. As always, a hearty thanks to the Comic Book Catacombs for posting this story. Away we go …

Right off the bat, I defy you to figure out what the @#$#%$ is going on. The story reads like they removed every other panel. We start off with the finest jungle comic book poetry ever written (“Devil-Devil Wind”, because the benighted love using the same word twice in a row to provide emphasis).

First, Ann watches Kaanga spear a panther in the chest. Fair enough – the predator might have had is coming. Next, she asks why they are stopping while Kaanga seemingly glues his canoe back together. Stopping when … why … where are they … what? Finally, Kaanga smells a guy in the forest, gets pissed and picks up his bola. [Note, Kaanga has a bola, so he’s officially playing by the Companion rules].

The story doesn’t get much clearer here. Because a man riding an antelope* doesn’t see Kaanga hiding behind a plant, his guilt is proven. In response, Kaanga does the only responsible thing – he throws a bola at him and then threatens him. M’bala now mutters something incoherent about white men, fire-eaters and demons (could be the blow to the skull he just received from those rocks) and Kaanga responds that, yes, he knew it all along. Knew what all along?

* Yeah, even my favorite thing – people riding animals that God and nature have deemed un-ride-able doesn’t rescue this stinker. Alas!

Kaanga and Ann now mount their zebras (awesome, but, no, still not enough) and head to the village, where the villagers send them to the Valley of Leopards (probably because they don’t want the Aryan with the itchy finger and doped eyes anywhere near their kids).

We close with a very lost toucan – perhaps on his own search for colorful, fruity breakfast cereal.

“Bones of a lost temple” is good, I’ll admit that. Might use it myself one of these days. As a long-time fan of Jonny Quest, I have to nod approvingly at “AI-EEE!” being used not once, but twice on the same page.

Ah, the plot thickens. Blackie Rawls wants to screw up Capt. Clyde Ankers contract with European zoos! The fiend! In the last panel, Kaanga’s hurry to save Ann from the arrow causes him to inadvertently snap her neck. Oh well – time to find a new henchwoman!

See – tribesmen mounted on antelopes and zebras killing in the name of Flame God. This really should be something wonderful. Pity. One thing does inspire me though …

Drum of Command: This item looks like a large bongo. When struck, all who can hear the drum must pass a (Will) saving throw or be whipped into a frenzy (per the barbarian’s rage) and attack whomever the drummer indicates for 1d6 rounds. Fear effects counter the effect of the magic drum.

The giant flaming bird-glider is a nice touch. Those contracts are as good as broken! Oh Blackie, you scoundrel!

See “Then the flame-kite crashing as M’bala’s treachery saw a chance –” is not a sentence. Damn close, but not a sentence.

Nevertheless, Kaanga takes one to the dome and out he goes. The kite explodes, the panther escapes back into the jungle (plot point, I’m thinking) and Ann and Capt. Clyde are taken prisoner.

So, is Blackie freeing the animals out of a sense of kindness?

So, Blackie has given his minions a false sense of confidence in themselves while ruining zoo contracts. I just don’t know …

“A savage surge of bull-ape’s might …” is another fantastic line. We now finally know what the heck was happening in the first panel (it was a preview!). We also now know that Kaanga’s war cry is “Haa-Ree!”. Please work that one into your next game for me. Thanks!

Kaanga uses a signal-smoke (or, if you’re 99% of English speakers, a smoke signal) to signal the lancers and heads off on the trail of the bad guys. Spider-Man shows up in panel two, chasing a monkey, and then we’re looking at the lost temple of the fire gods, one of whom must be called Zom. Again, I really should be enjoying this more than I am.

Blackie brags about the fact that his plan is so intricate and clever that they’ll never pin it on him. Pin what on him? Who the $%@#$% hell knows, though it is worth mentioning that everyone involved in the story is already 100% aware that he’s behind it all. I guess the lack of evidence will be important in the Superior Court of Jungle Law.

And then we find out just what Blackie Rawls is after. He wants Capt. Clyde’s contract. That’s it. That’s the whole dang caper. Tribal war, murder, etc. for a zoo contract. No diamonds, no King Solomon’s Mines. A zoo contract. The stuff legends are made of.

“Your head is mine!” Really sums it all up, doesn’t it. I take it back. Forget the war cry. In your next game (this week, this weekend, whenever), please make sure you yell “Your head is mine!” while attacking at least once. Maybe twice.

I like the last panel.

Angry Dude: “They betray us! KILL!”

M’bala: “No! The fire-thrower is a wizard – strike!”

Apparently M’bala is still aiming for better working conditions and a pension plan.

And so we come to the end of our tale. Kaanga punches M’bala in the face, the fire gods ride off on zebras, only to be killed by the lancers (who ride bog-standard horses – how boring), Ann is released from her bonds (say what you will about the comic, Riddell could draw one heck of an Ann), and Kaanga throws a patronizing parting shot to the natives. We can only pray they’ll kill him in his sleep one night.

And what did we learn from all this? Absolutely nothing! Thanks boys and girls … more inanity from the Land of Nod tomorrow.

How to Enchant An Item

Here’s a draft for the whole “creating magic items” bit for Blood & Treasure. Still thinking about this, so feel free to make suggestions and such (unless you think it sucks, in which case keep it to yourself as I have a fragile ego and artistic temperament).

The overall idea is that games are always talking about all the cool ingredients that can be used in making magic items, but this one is going to codify it (in a very vague way, of course). It’s also going to attempt to use the system for making these items as a impetus for adventure – i.e. you need a medusa’s tooth for an item, you have to slay it yourself. The other idea is to make sure that magic items are not being created willy nilly and all the time without using several tons of required gold pieces or XP costs to achieve it.

The game has two systems for “what level do I have to be?” to make magic items, one based on 3rd edition, where as full spellcasters advance in levels they learn to make different types of magic items, and the other drawn from older versions of the game, that require one to be 9th level to make anything. Treasure Keepers can do as they like.

The overall cost to make an item is equal to have the gp value of the item – which can be divided up by the creator between hiring master craftsmen and alchemists, making the item to be enchanted, etc.

The item to be enchanted must be made by a master craftsman under the watchful eye of the magic item’s creator using the best possible materials

Magic weapons, armor, rings and rods must be forged from meteoric iron, mithral or adamantine or, for rings and rods, precious metals

Leather goods must be made from expensive animal hides

Cloth goods must be made from expensive fabrics (silk, velvet, cloth-of-gold, cloth-of-silver, wool from the exceptionally fine sheep, the hair of virgins, etc.)

Wooden goods (wands, staves, etc.) must be carved from rare and expensive woods

Scrolls must be scribed on vellum prepared by a master or chiseled in an expensive stone (malachite, porphyry) using an adamantine chisel

Potions must be brewed in vats made of precious metals with the assistance of an alchemist

All magic items are tied to an “equivalent spell” determined by the Treasure Keeper – i.e. what spell is sorta kinda (or exactly) like the magic item being made here. For each level of that spell, the item requires a “magical element”.

Roll d8 for potions and scrolls, d10 for all other magic items.

1-2 Herb (must be harvested from a special place or at a special time)
3-4 Mineral (discovered in a dungeon)
5-8 Monster (slain by the magic-user and his comrades)
9 Place
10 Time

HERBS (may be ground, used to make essential oils, smoked, burned as incense or ingested as a tea)
Angelica: Good and lawful spells, abjurations, summoning
Anise: Abjurations and divinations (esp. clairvoyance)
Basil: Strength, fire, evocations, necromancy, command/domination
Bamboo: Dispel magic
Caraway: Air spells, charm spells, movement
Cinnamon: Holy spells, mind-effects, communication spells, healing spells
Cloves: Negative energy protection, silence, dispel magic, charm person, astral projection, ethereal jaunt and other travel spells (teleport, dimension door)
Coriander: Abjurations
Foxglove: Poison, cause wound spells
Frankincense: ???
Galangal: Luck spells, blessings, remove curse
Garlic: Exorcism, protection from undead, healing, weather spells
Ginger: Fire spells, curses, evocations, spells of travel or movement
Ginseng: Restoration
Hellebore: Exorcism
Henbane: Poison, death spells
Holly: Resistance to electricity, magic circles, protection from evil
Horehound: Plant spells, tree spells, hallow
Lavender: Bless, healing, memory spells, sleep, bull’s strength, bear’s endurance, illusions
Lovage: Eagle’s splendor, charm spells
Mace: Transmutations
Mandrake: Evocations, summoning, visions
Marigold: Illusions
Marjoram: Animal spells, necromancy
Mistletoe: Love, druidic spells
Mugwort: Astral and ethereal travel
Mustard: Enchantments, dispel magic
Myrrh: ???
Myrtle: ???
Nutmeg: Dream, nightmare, divination
Onion: Contact other plane, commune
Oregano: Calm emotions, good hope, abjurations
Parsley: Haste
Peppermint: Animals, energy spells (including protection and resistance), healing, necromancy
Pomegranate: Communication with the dead, necromancy
Poppyseed: Sleep, dream, nightmare, confusion, insanity, binding spells, curses
Rosemary: Fear (including resistance to), exorcism, legend lore, alarm, glyphs and other spells that protect items, fox’s cunning, owl’s wisdom, water spells
Saffron: Sun and light spells, divinations, true seeing, detect invisibility, wind spells
Sage: Healing, longevity, protection from scrying
Savory: Animal spells, fey spells
Star Anise: Lawful spells, mark of justice, detect lie, hallow, aid, bless, prayer
Tarragon: Dragon spells, rage, remove fear
Thyme: Fey spells, divinations, necromancy
Turmeric: War and weapon spells, exorcisms, hold spells, mage armor, shield
Wormwood: Illusion

Agate: Plant spells, physical ability boosts, cure spells, abjurations
Amber: Sun and light spells, detect spells
Amethyst: Mind and emotion spells, clairaudience and other hearing spells, AC-enhancing spells, remove curse, break enchantment
Aventurine: Earth spells, open doors, knock, passwall, remove curse
Bloodstone: Remove fear, enhance physical abilities, heroism, mage’s transformation
Carnelian: Abjurations, fire spells, spells of movement (fly, jump, haste)
Chrysoberyl: Spell turning, reflective spells, locate object, spells of awareness
Copper: Remove fear, neutralize or delay poisons, communication spells
Emerald: Charms and enchantments, exorcism, enhance mental abilities and vision
Fluorite: Chaos spells, cure disease
Garnet: Abjurations, heal
Gold: Spells of purification, positive energy spells
Hematite: Mental and psychic spells, time spells
Jade: Water spells, wisdom spells, healing
Jasper: Abjurations, cure disease
Lapis Lazuli: Psychic spells, remove fear, divinations
Malachite: Plant spells, bear’s endurance, transmutations
Moonstone: Confusion, insanity, wish, neutralize poison, sleep, illusions
Obsidian: Protection from energy, detect evil, true seeing
Onyx: Lawful spells, spells of command and control, abjurations, wall spells
Opal: Emotion spells, memory spells, astral projection, ethereal jaunt, dream, nightmare
Platinum: Anti-transmutation
Quartz: Aid, bless, prayer and other such spells, evocations, cold spells
Rhodochrosite: Fire spells, legend lore, calm emotions
Rose Quartz: Atonement, heal, cure disease, resistance to fire and other energies
Ruby: Command spells, growth spells, haste, resistance to fire and other energies
Sapphire: Wind spells, water spells, planar travel, abjurations, creation spells
Silver: Energy spells, sleep, insanity, magic circles and other protections
Sunstone: Sun, light and fire spells, blessings,strength
Tiger Eye: Animal spells, true seeing, divinations, travel spells
Topaz: Blessings, evocations, mineral detection
Tourmaline: Heal spells, mental spells, plant spells
Turquoise: Earth spells

Requires eye, hair, feather, skin, gland, organ, claw, tooth, etc. of a monster (aberration, dragon, fey, giant, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, outsider, undead) or legendary personage (at least 12th level) associated with the spell or power being woven into the item. Monster must have twice the Hit Dice of the equivalent spell to be used.

Ruined temple
Ancient palace
Place associated with birth or death of particular god or demigod
Place associated with magical or historic event
Stone circle sanctified by a 15th or higher level druid
Elemental plane or other plane of existence
Atop highest mountain
Fabled or mythic island
Active volcano
Cloud giant’s castle
Storm giant’s undersea palace
Waters of a magic pool or fountain
Bottom of deepest chasm
Within the pounding surf
Waters of a holy river

Specific phase of the Moon
Specific solstice or equinox
Specific position of stars
Anniversary of magical or historic event
During a storm, earthquake or other cataclysm (natural)
During a meteor shower

Example: Flaming Longword
The Treasure Keeper rules that fireball is the important spell for a flaming longsword. Fireball is a 3rd level spell, so there will be three rolls on the table above. The TK rolls and gets mineral, monster and time. He decides the “mineral” will be carnelian (3,000 gp worth, powdered), the “monster” a salamander’s blood and the “time” during a meteor shower. The magic user must also provide a sword made of meteoric iron, mithral or adamantine. The magic-user will have to use divinations to discover when and where a meteor shower is to occur, and of course he’ll have to liberate a carnelian from a dungeon and slay a salamander. The services of an alchemist are needed to prepare the carnelian powder. While the flaming sword is forged by a master smith (during the meteor shower and under the open sky, of course), the magic-user mingles in the carnelian powder and salamander blood and casts the fireball spell.

Example: Cape of the Mountebank
The magic-user must provide around 5,000 gp worth of materials for this cape, which must be woven of silk or another expensive material, probably with gold or silver thread embroidered in it. It is associated with the dimension door spell, a 4th level spell of movement and travel. Rolling the dice, the TK decides he needs an herb, two minerals and a place. He decides the place will be the tomb of an infamous illusionist – the enchantment, though not the manufacture of the cloak, must occur there. The “herb” is ginger, which must be brewed into an ale and consumed by the magic-user while creating the item. The “minerals” are sapphire and tiger’s eye, which must be powdered and mixed into a dye for the cloak. The cloak will have silver threads embroidered into it to form symbols of power.

Dragon by Dragon – August 1976 (2)

August of 1976 – A month after the bicentennial, and Marvelites were grooving to such titles as Planet of the Apes, The Champions and Black Goliath, the Seattle Seahawks were playing their first game, Big Ben breaks down in London, Viking 2 enters orbit around Mars, the Ramones make their first appearance at CBGB, and The Dragon’s second issue hits the stands. So what did the gaming geek of 1976 get for his money?

John M. Seaton devises a procedure for “monkish” promotional combat (i.e. knock off the master to assume his level). I love this kind of thing, and given the recent popularity of FlailSnails Jousting, I wonder if there isn’t a market for FlailSnails Monkish Combat.

The procedure would be similar – write up 6 rounds of combat, denoting your strike, kick, block or other maneuvers, and then we see where it goes.

Lots of fiction in this issue.

The second installment of Gygax’s Gnome Cache is in this issue. I’ll freely admit this here – I almost never read the fiction in Dragon. I probably missed out on something.

Speaking of fiction, Jake Jaquet gives us the conclusion to “Search for the Forbidden Chamber”. Didn’t read this either.

Gardner Fox (you might have heard of him) has a short story in this issue called Shadow of a Demon which is covered very capably at Grognardia.

Another installment of “Mapping the Dungeons”, wherein DM’s of the 1970’s try to hook up with players via The Dragon. St. Louis appears to have had a surplus of DM’s looking for players – 8 of them in this issue.

Some dude named Paul Jaquays was running the Spring Arbor College Dungeoning Society in Spring Arbor MI. Wonder if he ever amounted to anything.

Through the magic of Google, I found the following DM’s online:

Keith Abbott of Muskegon MI

Michael Dutton of Mountain View CA might have done some art for WOTC – could be a different guy

Bill Fawcett of Schofield WI kinda founded Mayfair Games

Karl Jones – could be this guy?

Drew Neumann – maybe a composer of film and television scores – he was at Wylie E. Groves High School in Detroit at the right time (Class of ’77). Could have known Ellen Sandweiss, who was in Evil Dead. Did music for Aeon Flux

Scott Rosenberg of Jamaica NY – has a couple issues of The Pocket Armenian floating around online.

Ed Whitchurch has achieved some level of DM’ing fame

Joe Fischer gives us more tips for D&D Judges. He covers interesting entrances for dungeons (i.e. under stuff you don’t expect them to be under) and “friendly” traps that aren’t necessarily harmful. He also provides a random table for treasure chests that are, 50% of the time, trapped thus …

D% Trap
0-30 – 1d4 spring-loaded daggers fire when chest is opened
31-50 – Same as above, but daggers are poisoned
51-65 – Poisoned gas released when chest is opened
66-75 – When opened, chest acts as mirror of life trapping
76-85 – When opened, chest explodes for 1d6+1 dice of damage (wow!)
86-90 – When opened, an enraged spectre comes out [which can be read a couple ways, either of them endlessly entertaining]
91-95 – All characters within 5 feet lose one level [after the first use of this trap, I guarantee everyone will give the thief plenty of space when opening chests]
96-98 – All characters within 5 feet lose one magic item
99-00 – Intelligent chest with abilities of 2nd – 9th level magic-user [nice!]

He also mentions intelligent gold pieces that scream when removed from a room, or replacing real gold pieces in a dragon’s horde with chocolate coins (though as valuable as chocolate was in the “olden days”, that might actually be a step up). He also brings up the idea of creatures with odd alignments (chaotic dwarves, for example).

A couple more spotlights (Joe Fischer rocks!)

Monster Gems are 500 gp gems that can be commanded to turn into monsters (per rolling a wandering monster) for one week – when the week is up, or they are killed, the gem is destroyed as well. It might be fun to rule that every gem worth 500 gp (exactly) is a monster gem.

Hobbit’s Pipe (by Marc Kurowski) – Clay pipe, when smoked, gives ability to blow multi-colored smoke rings (4 per turn, moving at 4” (40’) per turn – love the specificity). The pipe can be smoked 3/day. He also offers up five magic pipeweeds, a bag of infinite wealth, helm of forgetfulness, and ring of infravision.

Lynn Harpold give a long account of Quetzalcoatl and his cult in Central America.

Creature Features gives us the remorhaz. Love the “stat block”:

Move: 12”
Hit Dice: 6/10/14 (8 sided) dice
% in Lair: 20%
Type Treasure: F
Bite for 3-36 points
Breath for 3, 5, or 7 dice of fire damage
Magical Resistance: 75%
Low Intelligence
Number Appearing: 1 (1-4 if in lair)
Description: 30’ long. Blue Hued underneath, wings & head backed with red.
Armor Class: Underside: 4. Back: 0 plus special. Head: 2.

Apparently, the standardization bug had not yet bitten.

Jon Pickens presents the Alchemist, a new D&D class. They don’t label this one as an “NPC Class”, so I guess it is fair game for all you D&D-ers out there. I’ll roll one up quickly for FlailSnails:

Xander Wort, Neutral 1st level Alchemist (Student)
Str: 5; Int: 13; Wis: 16; Dex: 16; Con: 7; Cha: 10
HP: 2; Attack: As Cleric; Save: As Fighter (+2 vs. poison and non-magic paralyzation)

Max. AC is 5
Can use one-handed weapons (excluding magic swords)
Use poisons and magic items usable by all classes
Psionic ability as fighters (replace Body Weaponry with Molecular Agitation)

Special Abilities:
Detect Poison 20%
Neutralize Poison 10%
Neutralize Paralyzation 15%
Identify Potion 5%
Read Languages 80% (one attempt per week)
Prepare poisons (strength level equal to their level; costs 50 gp and 1 day per level) and drugs (as poisons, but knocks unconscious for 4 hours)
Prepare a potion of delusion

None – until 3rd level (Scribe)

His bit on poison is pretty cool. If the HD of the poisoner or level of poison is equal to or greater than the victim’s HD, they must save or die. If at least half their HD, they are slowed until a constitution check is passed, trying once per hour. If less than half, there is no effect, but the poison accumulates in the blood until it’s enough to slow or kill the person. A very nice system!

This is actually a very groovy class. The hit points are low, so I don’t know how long Xander would have to live, but he can wear some decent armor and load up on poisoned darts and a poisoned long sword and might just make it to 2nd level.

Jon Pickens also presents optional weapon damage, allowing fighters and thieves to gain mastery in different weapons, increasing the damage they deal with them (except with dwarf hammers, military picks, pikes, pole arms and arrows). Fighters master one weapon per three levels, thieves one weapon per four (and are limited to sword, dagger and sling). Those with a Dex of 13 or better can gain mastery with a combination of two weapons, gaining the ability to strike with both weapons per round or with one weapon and treat the other as a shield. Sword and sword or flail and morningstar combos require a Dex of 16 or better.

Another good system – very clean and simple to use.

All in all, a pretty good issue. Lots of neat rules ideas and some good pulp literature.

The Abacus of St. John the Enumerator

I was inspired reading Grognardia today, and decided to make up a relic.

St. John the Enumerator was a blessed clark and keeper of accounts for the holy church of Nomo. After extended service, in which he kept the church’s accounts afloat even through the years of Pontiff Palaithian the Decadent. For his ability to keep the church in the black, he was named a saint and his abacus was declared a relic of the church.

If only they knew how John kept the church afloat, the deals he made and the price he and others had to pay.

The Abacus of St. John the Enumerator

The abacus is a simple instrument made of oak, copper shafts and glass beads. In the moonlight, a careful observer can make out tiny motes of dancing light within the beads. Within each bead is locked the soul of a young priest of the church, an innocent true believer murdered by John’s own hand and interred in the ossuaries in the catacombs beneath Nomo’s streets, never to be discovered.

The abacus has ten rows divided into two sections. The larger section held five beads on each row, the smaller section held two beads. All of the beads are no longer remaining on the abacus.

The abacus projects a protection from evil, 10′ radius effect that, unfortunately, in ineffective of any evil creature summoned by or connected with the abacus. It also creates a sanctuary effect in whatever building it is placed in, an effect which is also ineffective against evil creatures summoned by or connected with the abacus. Because of these effects, the abacus is believed to be a holy relic rather than an unholy one.

By touching a bead in the larger section and focusing on a person, their current whereabouts appear in the toucher’s mind, per a crystal ball. If the person harbors ill feelings toward the person they are viewing, one of the following effects occurs, even if the user of the abacus does not knowingly will it to occur. The toucher of the abacus must make their own saving throw or one of the following effects occurs:

1. Lose one level or hit dice
2. Lose 1d4 points of charisma; in essence, they are disfigured
3. Lose 1d4 points of wisdom; in essence, they are driven slightly mad
4. Lose 1d4 points of constitution; in essence, they begin wasting away
5. The remains of the victim whose soul is encased in the bead is animated as a spectre and seeks the toucher out to destroy them.
6. They are affected by the bead’s curse instead of the toucher’s target

If any of these effects kill the person, a pit fiend appears in a cloud of sulfur and blue fire and collects their body and soul.

Lust: The target is struck as though by a suggestion spell with no saving throw. They feel the same lust towards the toucher of the abacus and must go to them that night to consummate their feelings. Once the act is consummated, this lust turns to repulsion.

Jealousy: The target’s ability score most tied to the object of jealousy is lowered by 1d4 points and those points are transferred to the toucher of the abacus. The feelings of jealousy are now transferred to the target in relation to the toucher.

Hate: The target is struck with mummy rot. As they slowly rot and die, the toucher is himself struck by a discoloration of the skin, which first turns yellowish, then mottled black and purple and finally a deathly white. When the person finally dies, the toucher returns to normal, but loses the ability to love or be loved.

The beads can also be used in another way. Touching a bead, it can be used to cast a cleric spell of a level equal to the row number minus one. In other words, beads in row one can be used to cast 0-level orisons, while beads in row 10 can be used to cast 9th level spells. When this is done, the bead turns to dust and the soul is released from it with a terrible shriek. The soul then returns to its remains in the catacombs and animates them as a spectre to hunt down the user of the bead. Spells cast from these beads impose a -5 penalty to saving throws made against them.

A lawful cleric using the abacus cannot remain lawful. With the first use, they become neutral, and with the second chaotic. A third use consigns their soul to Mammon, the arch-devil patron who helped John keep the church afloat all those years.

Six Magical Bracelets for Your Viewing Pleasure

Just got an art book by Steve Prescott delivered yesterday (Aggregate – buy it, won’t you) and was inspired by the chick on the cover.

Bangles of Bakram: These two bangles are carved from wood and each bears a small hole in it. The bangles were originally worn as earrings by Bakram, a highly skilled and deadly monk who weighed in the neighborhood of 350 pounds. If worn as earrings again, these items grant the wearer the abilities of a monk 5 levels, or, if you have no levels as a monk, a 5th level monk. Most folk make the mistake of wearing them as bracelets. When put on the wrists, the bangles grant the same ability, but also grant the wearer Bakram’s weight. Ballooning to 350 pounds, the person suffers a -2 penalty to their constitution score and is treated as though they are carrying their extra weight as added encumbrance.

Armlets of Devolution: These armlets, when placed around the biceps, hold tight and cannot be removed. The armlets act as rings of protection +1. Each week, the wearer must pass a saving throw or their body and mind “devolves”. Elves devolve initially into half-elves and then humans. Other demi-humans devolve into humans (of the same general height as their original race). Once human, or if they began as humans, they devolve first into a Neanderthal and then into an albino ape. Once the person has been changed into an albino ape, the armlets release from them. Changing back requires a wish.

Bracelet of Missile Deflection: These thick bracelets of gold, when clasped around the wrists, grant a +2 bonus to Armor Class against missile attacks. Moreover, when the wearer is attacked by magic missiles, they can make a saving throw to not only avoid the attack, but to deflect those missiles back at their caster.

Bracelet of Reaching: This single bracelet is made of bronze and engraved with a triangle pattern. It is normally kept off of one’s wrist, for when it is put on a person’s hand disappears and can be projected, by the wearer, from any similarly sized hole in their view. This could be the top of a vase, another bracelet, a large key ring, a mouse hole, etc. The bracelet can be pushed up to the shoulder if the wearer wishes, with their projected hand (which is part of their body and can be damaged normally) extending to the same length.

Bracers of Magnetism: These iron bracelets are set with large hematites. When clanged together, they can pull any small iron or steel item to the bracelets. If the item is held, the holder can make a strength check to hold onto their item; the bracelets pull with a strength of 25. If a sharp item is pulled to the wearer, they must pass a saving throw to avoid being hit and damaged by that item as though it was wielded by a person with a strength of 25.

Dragon Bracers: These bracers are made from the hide of a blue dragon. Once per day, the wearer can cause the bracers to cover their body with the equivalent of leather armor and granting them immunity to lightning attacks. The armor lasts for 10 rounds, but if struck with lightning immediately retract.

Three (or Six) Dual Helms

Dual helms are constructed in pairs and are connected to one another through subtle strings of being that float through the ether.

Gemini Helms
When little used, Gemini helms allow the two wearers to swap abilities. One category of ability can be swapped at a time for up to 1 hour in a 24 hour period. These categories are as follows: fighting ability (i.e. attack bonus), strength, intelligence, wisdom, constitution, dexterity, charisma, hit points (damage stays with the person damaged, though, so a person who normally has but 20 hit points and swaps it with his comrades 50 hit points will die when the switch it over if he’s taken more than 19 points of damage), saving throws (all categories, if applicable), prepared/memorized spells and spell casting ability and special abilities (i.e. a thief could swap his special thief abilities for a ranger’s special ranger abilities).

Each time a pair of people use the helms, there is a cumulative 1% chance of a feedback, up to a maximum chance of 12%. If a feedback occurs, consult the following table:

1-6. Memory Swap: Particular memories swamp between the people – perhaps memories of their parents.

7-9. Personality Swap: This could also count as an alignment swap.

10. Combination: The pair average all of their ability scores and lose half of their class levels (-1), gaining half of their comrade’s class levels +1. In other words, a 6th level fighter and 8th level combined would turn into two 4th/5th level fighter/thieves.

Puppet Helms
Each of these helms acts as a helm of telepathy. It also gives its wearer the ability to impose his will on the wearer of the other puppet helm. When this battle of wills occurs, both players should roll 1d20. Whichever rolls the furthest under their charisma score wins the battle and can force their companion to do or say one thing that takes no more than 1 turn (10 minutes). The winner of this contest of wills suffers 1d3 points of charisma damage, the charisma damage disappearing after 8 hours of sleep.

Helms of Summoning
The wearer of one of these helms can remove it, strike it with a small platinum rod and say “Come Hither!” and their comrade appears beneath the helm (and no, not if you’re holding it over the edge of a cliff or under water – don’t be a pain in the ass). The other helm appears on the summoner’s head when his comrade appears. These helms can be used once per day, but with each use there is a cumulative 1% chance that the summoned comrade will actually be their double from another reality. This chance re-sets at the next full moon. If an alternate comrade appears, use the following table to determine what shows up:

1. Zombie: Retains a feral intellect, thoroughly chaotic. Fights with as many Hit Dice as the person had levels, but loses any special abilities. Those who lose more than half their hit points to the zombie’s attacks must pass a saving throw or become a zombie themselves. Remove disease cures them, but only inflicts 1d6 points of damage per caster level to the summoned zombie.

2. Demonic: Has the abilities of the person summoned (or the reverse, if they were a cleric or paladin), but with a demonic cast and a chaotic alignment. The summoned demon is immune to fire and mind reading and has bat wings that give it a flight speed of 12.

3. Hulk: Summoned person is much larger than normal, with double the strength (or strength bonus, to keep it simple) and an intellect of 1d4+2. Might start calling the summoner “George” and develop a strange fascination with small, furry mammals.

4. Reverse Gender: Summoned person is of the opposite gender. All abilities stay the same, but personality might be slightly altered.

5. Evil Twin: Appears to be the person summoned, but is secretly chaotic and smart enough to realize the situation and use it to their advantage. If the summoned person was chaotic, the evil twin will attempt to kill and replace his or her double. If male, will eventually grow a goatee.

6. Lycanthrope: Summoned person is a lycanthrope (Ref’s choice).

Magic Belts – American-Style

1. Bible Belt: This wide leather girdle is studded with large (4”-diameter) medallions depicting in relief the faces of seven saints, spaced evenly around the belt. Around the waist of a neutral character, it provides a constant protection from evil effect, but also utters constant corrections for sinful behavior. Around the waist of a chaotic character, the belt constricts for 1d4 damage per round until removed, all while the faces issue forth howls of rage (potentially attracting wandering monsters). Around the waist of a lawful character, the belt acts as it does around the waist of a neutral, plus the faces chant (per the spell) during combat.

2. Sun Belt: The sun belt is a wide belt of polished brass. The surface of the belt writhes with the red whorls of the Sun’s surface. It grants the wearer immunity to fire and throws up around them a zone of withering heat (5’ radius) that inflicts 1d4 points of damage to plant and cold creatures and makes others uncomfortable (-1 penalty to hit and to AC). During combat, the surface of the belt roils and there is a 1 in 6 chance each round that it emits a solar flare in a 10-ft diameter arc in a random direction: 1 = Front; 2 = Back; 3 = Left; 4 = Right. The flare inflicts 3d6 points of damage to all creatures touched by the flare (saving throw negates). After the belt flares, it goes dormant for 1d6 hours, during which none of its powers are operative.

3. Rust Belt: This belt consists of multiple disks of rusted iron connected by a rusted chain. The character wearing the belt gains the attack form of a rust monster, a power they cannot turn off. In addition, the belt puts out the sub-harmonic vibrations that serve as a mating call to rust monsters, increasing the likelihood of encountering them when underground.

4. Corn Belt: This belt consists of hundreds of colorful, dried kernels of corn attached like beads to a leather belt. The wearer of the Corn Belt becomes as strong as an ox (i.e. hill giant strength), but also as dumb as an ox (intelligence reduced to 3).

5. Borsht Belt: This seemingly innocent leather belt turns its wearer into a Borsht Belt comedian. They have a tendency to complain loudly about things, but their over-the-top humor forces humans, demi-humans and humanoids hearing it to pass a saving throw or focus their attention on the comedian until he’s done with his set.

6. Frost Belt: This belt is composed of interlocking hexagons of silver. When worn, the wearer emits a cone of cold (10-ft long by 5-ft wide at base) each time they open their mouth. Potential damage from the cone of cold accrues at the rate of 1d4 points of damage per turn so long as the person keeps their mouth closed, to a maximum of 10d4 points of damage. As soon as they open it, the cone of cold bursts from their mouth, whether they want it to or not, and the potential damage resets to 0.

Hat Tricks – 9 Magic Chapeaus

Because you demanded it (not really) – a collection of magic hats for your game …

1. Swallow-Tail Cap: This long cap of silk has two 3-ft long tails – each conical in shape. The right cone is colored a deep maroon while the other is a happy beige. Embroidery around the seems to writhe and dance if one stares at it for a few moments (save or suffer from minor headache and the feeling of spiders running up and down your spine). The wearer of the cap can use it, by concentrating, to jump between dimensions. Alone, he can use the equivalent of the dimension door spell a number of times per day equal to his charisma bonus (minimum once per day). With one person holding onto the cap, he can teleport once per day. With two people holding onto the tails of the cap, he can plane shift once per day.

2. Feathered Cap: This tricorne of weathered blue-black velvet is elegant despite its age, but lacking a feather. When a feather is inserted into the cap, it gives the wearer powers corresponding to the bird. An ostrich feather might increase one’s running speed and kicking damage, a cockatrice feather might grant them the ability to turn people to stone with their bite, and a roc feather – well, that would probably just give them lots of shade and a stiff neck.

3. Scarlet Capotain: This scarlet capotain (i.e. pilgrim’s hat) with a gold buckle makes you look like whomever you are facing, assuming you are facing a human, demi-human or humanoid of roughly the same size. In addition to gaining the person’s appearance, you gain some aspect of their knowledge (i.e. a random skill, class ability, spell or memory), retaining it for 1 hour afterward.

4. Inky Baladava: This black baladava, when wrapped around the face, causes one’s skin to take on an inky appearance, giving them a +15% (or +3) chance to hide in shadows. Each turn spent this way drains the person of 1 point of constitution. These lost points of constitution can be restored only by eating, with one day’s worth of rations or food required to restore one point of constitution. The lost constitution corresponds to lost body weight (i.e. losing 50% of one’s constitution would correspond to losing 50% of one’s body weight). A person who loses all their constitution rises as a ghoul.

5. Master’s Hat: This top hat of felted beaver fur with a red satin lining gives the wearer the ability to speak with animals. Three times per day, the wearer can control one of the following animals – elephant, lion, gorilla, black bear or dog. Once per day, he or she can polymorph a person into one of the aforementioned animals.

6. Bodacious Bowler: This bowler, when set atop the head, casts an illusion over the wearer, making them look like everything they have ever wanted to be. In return, the person loses their voice as long as they wear the hat.

7. Porkpie of Pratfalls: While wearing this little hat, a person enjoys a +4 bonus to saving throws made against taking damage from falls.

8. Sugegasa of Fujin: This wide, conical straw hat creates cool, refreshing breezes for the person who wears it – essentially, allowing them to ignore heat up to 130-degrees Fahrenheit. If the wearer grasps the hat with both hands and whistles, the hat will lift off, giving them the ability to fly clumsily (as the spell) for 1 hour per day.

9. Hat of Many Surprises: This hat changes shape once per turn. The person wearing it does not realize this and will not be made to believe it, even if presented with a mirror, assuming instead that it takes the shape of their favorite style of hat. When removed, the hat assumes that form and keeps it until worn by someone else. Aside from this quirk, the hat grants the wearer a protection from evil effect. Roll on the following table to determine the hat’s current shape. The Referee should make these rolls and everybody but the wearer of the hat should be informed of the result.

1 – Horned helm (i.e. viking helmet) – wearer goes berserk in combat
2 – Bicorne – bonus on finding direction using the stars and immune to sea sickness
3 – Phrygian cap – freedom of movement
4 – Busby – +2 damage on charge
5 – Propeller beanie – intelligence cut in half
6 – Stovepipe hat – cannot lie, can discern lies, +2 damage from back attacks
7 – Bascinet – +1 to Armor Class, double normal range of surprise
8 – Scottish bonnet – must save or begin dancing in the presence of drawn swords
9 – Wool cap – head stays warm in cold weather
10 – Dunce cap – struck with confusion whenever asked a question
11 – Wizard’s hat – cast spells as 1st level magic-user (roll known spell randomly)
12 – Jingasa – language changes to Japanese
13 – Bearskin – immune to fear
14 – Beret – personality becomes acerbic, strong desire for a cigarette
15 – Cowboy hat – +1 bonus to missile attacks
16 – Cordobes – +1 bonus to attack with sword
17 – Custodian helmet (i.e. British constable’s hat) – can summon a gang of club-armed bobbies as a horn of valhalla summons barbarians
18 – Deerstalker – find secret doors as an elf, notice stonework as a dwarf
19 – Fedora – darkvision 60 ft
20 – Fez – dude, you get to wear a fez – what more do you want?
21 – Ghutrah – immune to the effects of heat and flame
22 – Montera (matador hat) – +1 dodge bonus to AC, +1 to hit and damage bulls, stench kows and gorgons
23 – Mortarboard – cast legend lore once during the turn
24 – Panama hat –
25 – Pith helmet – can cast locate object once during the turn
26 – Santa hat – can command gnomes and elves (per a rod of rulership)
27 – Sombrero – cast sleep once during the turn, but must also save vs. sleep as well
28 – Toque (i.e. chef’s hat) – immune to poison
29 – Trucker hat – +1 to hit and damage with unarmed attacks
30 – Turban – can charm snakes