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.

When In Rome, Kill As the Romans Do

Rome looms so large in European history, and therefore on the ancient and medieval European wargames that informed so much of early fantasy RPG’s, that an article like this seems a bit useless. Of course, I’m writing it anyway, because – dang – you try generating this much web content without being useless once in a while.

Enough preamble. Let’s get down to Roman weaponry …

BIPENNIS
The bipennis, or labrys, is a double-headed axe that, depending on how one pronounces the word, could be a big hit at the gaming table. “You attack the orc with what?”

The weapons were most associated with Minoan civilization and the Greeks, and seem to have taken on quite a significant symbolic meaning, being adopted by Greek fascists, Greek metal heads and lesbians and feminists – clearly it’s a uniter and not a divider (unless used to separate somebody from their head). If you’re a cleric capable of wielding edged weapons, the bipennis might be a good one to wield.

Medium weapon; 1d8 damage; 6 lb.; 10 gp

CESTUS
Probably one of the first, “Dude, I want those” that I ever came across as a young geek getting into RPG’s. Essentially the anti-boxing glove, a cestus was made of leather strips, sometimes studded with metal or bladed, that was worn over the hands and used to beat the living crap out of people. For our purposes, we’ll use all three versions, and allow monks using the cestus, and any character with the Weapon Focus feat in the cestus, to treat them as either unarmed attacks or armed attacks, whichever is more favorable for the situation.

Cestus: Light weapon; +1 damage; 0.5 lb; 5 sp

Cestus, Studded: Light weapon; +2 damage; 1 lb.; 1 gp

Cestus, Bladed (Myrmex): Light weapon; +3 damage; 1 lb.; 1 gp 5 sp

FALCATA
The name is new, but the sword is old. Rome’s Iberian allies and mercenaries employed these slightly curved, thick bladed swords and impressed their Roman pals with how effective they were in a scrap. Because of their shape, and the weight of their blade, a falcata scores a critical hit (if you use such things) on a natural roll of 19 or 20.

Light weapon; 1d4+1 damage; 2 lb.; 15 gp

FALX
Falx are sickle-like weapons employed by the Dacians and Thracians, and later used by the Romans as siege hooks. The single-handed version was the sica, which is essentially just a sickle and is not covered here. The falx was the two-handed version, a pole weapon with a 3-ft. long wooden haft tipped by a long, sickle-shaped blade. The point could pierce helmets and the blade split shields.

Heavy weapon; 1d8 damage; 8 lb.; 8 gp

GLADIUS
While not the first straight-bladed short sword, the gladius could be one of the best known due to their use by gladiators, who are undeniably cool. The gladius was adopted from the Celtiberians, and was known as the Gladius Hispaniensis, or “Hispanic Sword”.

Light weapon; 1d6 damage; 2 lb.; 10 gp

HASTA
Hasta means “spear”, which is handy, since hastas are, in fact, spears. They were carried by early Roman legionaries, and gave them the name hastate. In later years, they were abandoned for the javelin and short sword, but they still have their place in classical Roman violence. Hasta were about 6.5 feet long.

Medium weapon; 1d8 damage; 6 lb.; 2 gp

PUGIO
The pugio is the Roman dagger, one of the basic weapons of the Roman soldier (along with short sword, javelins and shield). Nothing fancy here, just a cool name.

Light weapon; 1d4 damage; 1 lb.; 2 gp

PLUMBATA
I remember when I first got into AD&D, the darts confused me. The only darts I had ever seen were the ones used with dart boards, and I always pictured with a smile magic-users throwing those little things at people in dungeons. The plumbata is the real deal though, the mother of all lawn darts. These darts are weighted with lead and had barbed heads. Magic-users can hurl these bad boys with their heads held high.

Thrown weapon; 1d4 damage; 0.5 lb.; 5 sp

SCISSOR
Yes, you can run with this. The scissor is a “maybe” weapon, about which very little is known. It might have consisted of a hollow, metal tube that was worn over the arm. The tube closes over the fist, and projected from this there is a semicircular blade. There was probably a crossbar in the end to assist in a gladiator controlling the weapon. The tube makes it useful as both a buckler and as a weapon.

Light weapon; 1d4+1 damage; 2.5 lb.; 15 gp

SPATHA
The spatha was the Roman long sword. Measuring about 3 feet in length, it was used in war and gladiatorial fights in first millennium AD Europe. Used primarily by the Germans, it replaced the gladius as the primary infantry weapon of the Romans.

Medium weapon; 1d8 damage; 4 lb.; 15 gp



All images found at Wikipedia

Weapon Showcase – India

Let’s get one thing straight – Indian weapons are awesome for the names alone. Firangis and kayamkulams and talwars sound wonderful, even if facing one in the hands of an angry kshatriya would be anything but pleasant. I was recently bumping around for the name of one type of sword in particular – the pata – when I came across the others and decided to write about them here, giving them some stats for Blood & Treasure. So, without further ado –

Note – all images come from Wikipedia

Aruval

The aruval is an Indian machete-like weapon. The top section is curved and comes to a point, and gives wielders a +1 bonus to grapple attacks. The base is often kept razor sharp so it can be used for slashing.

Medium weapon; 1d4+1 damage; 2 lb.; 8 gp

Bagh nakh

The famous bagh nakh are also known as tiger’s claws. The bagh nakh consists of four or five short, curved, claw-like blades affixed to a metal cross-bar or a glove. Bagh nakh grant the user a +1 bonus to Climb task checks.

Light weapon; 1d3 damage; 1 lb.; 5 gp

Bhuj

The bhuj is also known as a gandasa, or axe-dagger. The dagger blade is affixed to an axe-like haft. The blade is short (7 to 10 inches) and broad, with a gentle curve. The haft is usually hollow and hides another slim, stiletto-like blade.

Light weapon; 1d6 damage (or 1d4 damage from stiletto); 4 lb.; 9 gp

Bichawa

The bichawa is a loop-hilted dagger with a narrow, undulating blade. Based on the maru, or horn dagger, of southern India, it is often used as an ornamental weapon. The loop hilt sometimes serves as a knuckle-guard. The weapons are about 1 foot long.

Light weapon; 1d4 damage; 1 lb.; 2 gp

Firangi

The firangi is a long, straight-bladed sword imported into India from Portugal. The blades were manufactured in Europe, and the name of the sword is derived from the Arabic term for Europeans, al-faranji (i.e. Frank). Blades were usually 3 feet long, and either of the broadsword (double-edge) or backsword (single-edge) variety. Firangi had basket-hilts that provide the wielder a +1 bonus to save vs. disarm attacks. Because of its length, it was traditionally used as a cavalry weapon.

Medium weapon; 1d8 damage; 4 lb.; 15 gp

Gada

Monks don’t have to look like Bruce Lee

The gada is a Indian bludgeoning weapon not too different from a heavy mace. It has a large, heavy metal head in the shape of a ball on a thick, short shaft. It is often used as physical training equipment, and Hanuman favored it as a weapon. Because of the thickness of the shaft, it must be wielded with two hands save by those with a strength score of 16 or higher.

Heavy weapon; 1d6+1 damage; 9 lb.; 12 gp

Kalarippayatt

The kalarippayatt is a 2-1/2 foot long wooden stick that is used as a practice weapon by young warriors learning dagger fighting. It is also used as a weapon in its own right. It is usually made from the wood of the tamarind tree.

Light weapon; 1d3 damage; 1 lb.; 1 gp

Kayamkulam vaal

The kayamkulam vaal is a stately, double-edged dueling blade favored by the aristocracy of Nair. The blade is of medium length and tapers from the hilt to the very sharp point. It was often wielded with a buckler.

Medium weapon; 1d6 damage; 3 lb.; 20 gp

Khanda

The khanda is a broad, straight-bladed sword with very little point. A spike projects from the hilt. The khanda, having virtually no point, is not used for thrusting, but for hacking and slashing, somewhat like an axe.  The sword is double-edged and heavy.

Medium weapon; 1d6+2 damage; 4 lb.; 30 gp

Lathi

The lathi is a long staff, usually measuring about 6 to 8 feet in length, and often tipped with metal. A weapon of Indian monks.

Medium weapon; 1d6 damage; 4 lb.; 1 sp

Maduvu

The maduvu is a unique Indian weapon used by the martial artists (i.e. monks) of India. Made from deer horns, it is treated as a double-bladed dagger. Monks using a maduvu keep a low profile, and use it more as a defensive weapon than offensive. Monks armed with maduvu can treat it as a shield rather than weapon during each round of combat.

Light weapon; 1d4 damage; 1.5 lb.; 5 gp

Malappuram Kathi

The malappuram kathi was an ancient form of dagger used in Kerala. The blade is about 2 feet long and thicker at the top than at the base. The hilt was made from deer horn. It is said that wounds from a malappuram kathi were difficult to heal and often became infected. This was owed either to the unique construction of the weapon or the metals used by the very few Keralan blacksmiths who knew the secret of forging the weapon.

Light weapon; 1d3+1 damage; 1.5 lb.; 2 gp

Moplah

Moplah are very short swords with wide blades – wider at the tip than the base. Moplah were worn on the back, using special belts.

Light weapon; 1d6 damage; 2 lb.; 5 gp

Parashu

The parashu is a large, Indian battle axe. Some were double-bladed, while others had a single-blade and a spike. Most were about 5 feet in length.

Large weapon; 1d8+1 damage; 12 lb.; 20 gp

Pata

The pata is a very unique Indian straight-bladed sword that incorporates a gauntlet as the handguard. The wielder places his hand in the gauntlet and the sword is held rigid pointing straight out from the wielder’s lower arm. Pata were most often wielded one in each hand, or a pata was wielded in one hand and a javelin, whip or axe in the other. Pata could be from 1 to 4 feet in length, so we can assume that dual-wielders probably used one long pata and one short pata. The gauntlet guard gives the wielder a +2 bonus to save vs. disarm attacks.

Short Pata: Light weapon; 1d4+1 damage; 2 lb.; 10 gp

Long Pata: Medium weapon; 1d6+1 damage; 4 lb.; 15 gp

Talwar

The talwar is a curved sword that originated with the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. Wider than similar Middle Eastern swords, it usually had a disc hilt. Because the blade is not too tilted, it is useful for slashing and thrusting, and because the tip of the blade is especially heavy it was quite useful for amputating and decapitating opponents. When wielded by an attacker with at least a +3 attack bonus (and the Weapon Focus feat, if feats are used in your game), the talwar deals a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20; though a critical hit on a “19” allows the target a Reflex saving throw to avoid it.

Medium weapon; 1d8 damage; 5 lb.; 15 gp

Trishula

The trishula is an Indian trident that also serves as a potent Hindu and Buddhist symbol. Although as a symbol it is often pictured without the haft, as a weapon is it usually hafted. Hindu clerics of war often choose the trishula as their weapon.

Medium weapon; 1d6+1 damage; 4 lb.; 15 gp

Urumi 

The urumi is a long sword with a flexible blade. The blade is sturdy enough to slice through flesh, but flexible enough to be rolled into a coil. The urumi is almost as dangerous to the wielder as it is to the target, and any time an urumi-wielder rolls an attack roll that is less than 20 – his attack bonus, he must pass a Reflex save or suffer 1d4 points of damage. Wielders with an attack bonus of at least +3 (and the Weapon Focus feat if this feat is used in your game) can choose to brandish the weapon, swinging it back and forth before them in arcs – when doing so, any creature attacking them in melee combat with a weapon shorter than 4-ft. must pass a Reflex save each round or suffer 1d4 points of damage.

Medium weapon; 1d6+1 damage; 6 lb.; 28 gp

Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Urmi-Payattu.jpg

Vel

The vel is a broad-bladed spear used primarily by the Tamils in combat. The weapon’s name is derived from the divine weapon of the Hindu deity Murugan.

Thrown weapon; 1d6 damage; range 40/80; 3 lb.; 2 gp

Murugan’s Vel: +3 holy vel; when hurled against a tree, it splits the tree into two halves, which become celestial animals of Murugan’s choosing

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.

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

Overcomplicating Coins (You’re Welcome!)

Are you one of those guys or gals that likes it … complicated?

If you answered “yes”, then read on. If not … read on anyways, you’re already here.

What follows are some tables showing a variety of historical coinage that might appear in the next treasure horde you generate, if you’re of the mind to permit them. Of course, you might want to attach some imaginary, fantasy kingdom name to them to make them campaign specific (“Ah! You’ve found 300 Cromarkian Groats and a small sack of gold doubloons from the Fraznak Empire!). You can use the table in two ways (and one of them might just piss off the players, so I know which one I’d use.)

1) Calculate the total value of the horde’s coins, roll a random coin type for each metal (or two or three, whatever you like), and translate the value into the number of coins. I included three values, one for OD&D (10 coins per pound), one for d20 (50 coins to the pound) and one for a more realistic 100 coins to the pound.

Example: You generate 1,000 cp and you’re playing OD&D (i.e. 10 coins to the pound). You roll up the Roman Sesertius as your historic copper coinage, which are worth 1/3 a copper piece each, thus the horde consists of 3,000 copper sesterius.

2) You roll up the number of coins, and then roll randomly to determine what kind of coin was found.

Example: You roll up 300 gold coins (gp) and then roll randomly to determine they are Italian ducats. You’re playing d20, so 300 ducats is actually worth 1,200 sp, or 120 gp. See – your players will be pissed. On the other hand, if you’d rolled up Spanish escudos, the horde would be worth 1,500 gp.

Without further ado … the tables.

 

 

If you want to annoy the players a bit more, you can roll to see how debased the coinage is … but I wouldn’t suggest it.

Of course, if you’re using the notion that your fantasy world is built on the ruins of a “modern” world, then the ancient coinage would be made up of krugerrands, yen and buffalo nickels.

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 BASICS
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

MAGICAL ELEMENTS
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.

MAGICAL ELEMENT (Roll d10)
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

MINERALS
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

MONSTER
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.

PLACE
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

TIME
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.