Showing posts with label Magic Items. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Magic Items. Show all posts

Saturday, January 5, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps

As a New Years resolution, I have decided to create a news column style post, entitled "52 Weeks of Magic".

These spells and items have played a prominent role in my various D&D campaigns over the years. They should be amendable to the various D&D editions available to all players, including retro games such as Labyrinth Lord and BlueHolme. I am uncertain about 4e or 5e as I do not play those sets... yet.

The first entry to the 52 Weeks of Magic is a basic magic spell employed in a way that was never really intended: Continual Light as magic item. Quite possibly, this was your first magic item. It was mine.

The spell creates a sphere of light with a 60' radius. It will move at the direction of the caster or it could be attached to a mobile or immobile object such as a rock. As an attack spell, it could be cast at a creature's eyes to cause blindness. Over the years, dispelling the globe of light was worded differently. It could be canceled by a Darkness spell, at will by the caster, Dispel Magic, and in the case of blinded creatures, Remove Curse.

Gee, that is a rather problematical spell on a couple of levels. It disappeared in 3.5e, replaced by Continual Flame which has a cost and is less effective. This was a stylistic change and probably for the better.

Down to the brass tacks. Or tube, as the case may be. Character's intelligent enough to realize the immediate benefit of the spell could cast this spell into a scroll tube. My character used a brass map tube, creating a brass lantern, ala Zork. One of my players cast the spell into a cut and blackened tube of bamboo and added a large glass bead for color and dubbed it the 'boo Torch. The color of the bead of glass was assigned to specific characters so they could identify each other over great distances. How ingenious.

This article is not about the spell, it's about the items created for the spell. The material cost can be very low in the case of the 'boo Torch. Or more likely, the spell would be cast on a high value item such as an ornate, custom-made tube or a standard votive candle.

The game breaking aspect of this spell and the items created by it are not the obvious ones. A Continual Flame spell in 3.5e carries a cost of 50 gp. Even at many times this rate, every village should have one or more lanterns powered by Continual Light. Dungeons should be lit all the time. Another consequence is lanterns should not exist at all or exist as a cheaper replacement to the magic lanterns being turned out by the player characters.

An interesting cultural twist on this type of item is whole cities being lit by these devices. Attackers would be well advised to make Dispel Magic and Darkness apart of their siege craft. Imagine the terror of having your defenses plunged into darkness the moment a besieging army arrived? Where are those lamps and torches, again? Defenders wouldn't have ready stocks of oil due to a lack of reliance on it for lighting.

Another aspect to considered for this infiltration of magic on a culture is the lack of heat by light sources. A permanently lit room is pretty chilly without a fire or stove. Some cities may require lamp and torch making materials on hand at all times after the "White Winter Death", a particular bad winter which exhausted all primary sources of fuel for heating and no reserve of burnable lighting materials existed. Sure, there was light but it was of little comfort from the cold. Other cities may not be able to handle tradition sources a light as they are walking fire hazards.

In general, if a culture has no reliance on oil for lighting, the need for oil is greatly reduced. This fact could reduce a nation's need for presses, ceramics, waxes, machines, crops like olives, the hunting for blubber bearing creatures, etc. Lighting is a critical aspect of a culture's style.

Limitations to this type of object could be simple. There is a desire to outdo other wizards, clerics and magic users by having the most ornate device imaginable. It isn't a material cost of the spell, it is the desire to have shinier kit than everyone else that drove the price.

Another limitation introduced by my characters was to voluntarily end the blinding effects after a period of time. This is an entirely different issue, but interesting because the players thought of it themselves. I liked it because I had forgotten about the poor blinded victim. He was never coming back into the story, but the good and lawful players decided that a day of blindness was more than enough "punishment". Can you say bonus role play experience?

The oddity of this was the "dispel at will" function never had a clear distance rule. This circles back to siegecraft, a wizard could be enticed to turn out the lights on an offending city.

I experimented with the "the birthday rule", where all magic spells ended on the caster's birthday if not supported by another energy source. A Resurrection spells continued past the birth date of the caster because the living person was the source of power for continuance, but poorly worded Wishes and Continual Light stopped on the caster's next birthday. I liked this story line as a one shot, as it put a single character at the center of an adventure, but it was impractical over time. This adventure corresponded to a player's birthday and I was unable to keep it going over the whole campaign.

I hope you enjoyed this essay. Next week's magic item is The Rat Bag. Please come back next Saturday evening for another unique essays on magic.

Click this link to read Week 2 of 52 Weeks of Magic.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Black Ora Weapons

My sigil-etched black Ora mace is sort of a disappointment. I thought it would flare, but it doesn’t because it has been uncursed. Pity.
However, today Serendipity was able to ensorcell it. Right now I just have a level one temporary ensorcellment, but soon I shall have a permanent cast on it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Old Notes and Magical Items

I have a collection of notes on magic items and history for a campaign I ran a few decades ago. Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting them here. The first item is the Band of Roland and was likely written during a Black Flag phase I was going through. It has been updated for D&D 3.5.
As I mentioned, these items were used in a campaign and actually created by an persons in the game. This explains the comprehensive background on such a small magic items.

Magic Item - Band of Roland

Band of Roland
Price: 30,000 gp
Body Slot: None
Caster Level: 18
Aura: Incredible conjuration
Activation: None
Weight: 1 lbs
The Band of Roland is a strange magic device. The device comes in a leather bag about 18” around and 2” thick. Within the bag is a twisted band of white metal inscribed with the word “Roland”. The band is twisted in such a way that it forms three loops within the bag. When the loops are uncoiled , the band expands to 4 feet and is a permanent gate to a location underground. One side of the band is an entrance to the room under ground while the back side turns opaque and impenetrable. The space is clearly carved into the bedrock somewhere on the prime material plane and has a source of clean air. It is 4 feet tall and wide and 12 feet deep.
The interior of the room is heavily warded against magic, especially scrying, so items placed within the room cannot be found by magical means, except when the band is uncoiled.
It is completely safe to enter the space so long as one does manipulate the ring at the same time. If the band is placed face down the floor, characters will be trapped inside the room until someone picks up the band. They will also notice that the opening will pull objects and people “down”, but only if in contact with that surface. If the band is coiled, the opening vanishes, as does all light inside the hole. The most dangerous mistake to make is to enter the room and pull the band in after one’s self. The white band only shows the interior of the room, so if the band is placed in the room no escape is possible without other magic.
If escape is necessary, please see the History section for the possibility of rescue. Escape is possible with any sort of magic similar to teleportation.
Uncoiling the band is a free action as it is spring loaded, closing it takes an action and placing it the bag is a full round action. The band seems to fight being put in the bag. When uncoiled, the band can be used two handed as a makeshift tower shield.
Characters who attempt to use knowledge skill checks or spells to identify the purpose of the band will only discover/remember that Roland was a tyrant who passed away about 50 years ago. No one misses him at all.
Incredible conjuration; CL 17; Craft Wondrous Item, gate, see History and Creation sections for other limitations on creation. Price: 30,000 gps, weight 1 lbs.
The History of Roland and his band:
Tyrant Roland had many sets of bands created. The white band is a “sending band”. These were distributed to his underlings as a means of paying tribute. The underling would place treasure within the space and Roland would collect it from time to time.
Roland installed a black “receiving band” mounted in the wall of his treasury, facing a hole dug into the wall. Black bands are not coil-able like the white bands and are always "open". At predetermined times, Roland’s men would remove the black band from the wall to collect tribute sent via the white band. At first, the black bands were placed on the floor, face down, to prevent his underlings from seeing who retrieved the treasure. Anyone who attempts to step though the band in this position will become “pinned” to the floor by gravity that is inconsistent with his or her local gravity. This is easy to escape by rolling along the surface and would only be harmful if someone ran or charged into it without looking.
A prince staged a coup by outfitting a squad of crossbow men inside the room to kill whoever took the treasure. This failed and Roland retaliated by having deep shaft dung into the floor of his vault. The black band was placed over the mouth of this shaft as a surprise for anyone attempted to enter the room before or after tribute times. 
Roland’s son was far less bloodthirsty than his father was and after disposing of Roland in the very trap he made, he ignored the bands for many years. On rare occasions, his men rescued people trapped within the rings. The king used information from the trapped to collect information rather than tribute from his father’s former underlings.
The name of Roland’s son is lost to history, but his child, Roland the Reformer is well known. The Reformer has no interest in taking tribute using the bands, but is somewhat voyeuristic in his use of them. The Reformer is known for collecting coins and will “steal” from the band vault to add to his personal collection of coins. He had his father buried in the hole in the floor of the vault, and there is a large gold and wooden throne upon it, holding the unnamed king's crown. (The Reformer is unwilling to wear a crown.) The Reformer will also rummage through possessions found room, in an effort to discover the whereabouts of the owners. He is more interested in single coins that are rare than coins in quantity. He will read journals, diaries and maps, but always returns them.

He attempts to locate the users using his own knowledge of geography. If he locates someone in harm's way, he will leave trinkets in with their possessions. Such items are under a 100 gps in value and often of dubious usefulness. Bottles of liquor and wine, and sometimes other small tokens of esteem. In the rare instance that two groups are using the space, he will draw a line between each users items and a series of glyphs. The glyphs usually translate to something indicative but odd such as: "Seaside Man" or "Desert Drifters".

In this endeavor, he removes the black ring from the wall and turns it around so he will not become trapped inside or ambushed. The effect of this is, characters have a 1% chance per use of seeing the interior of Roland the Reformer’s treasure vault. Invariably, Roland’s treasure is always bigger and more interesting than the characters treasure. The throne and crown is obviously a burial marker and is often easily seen through the white ring. 
On Creation

If a player character attempts to create a Band of Roland and is unaware of the black band, he or she will be tapping into Roland’s collection of black bands and the item will work as described above. If the character is aware of the system, they can create their own pairs of bands for twice the cost. Once created, a pair of bands will link together permanently. Characters will be able to select the destination by the placement of black bands. Remember, the black bands cannot be coiled and when not in use they are an opaque barrier.