Showing posts with label 52 Weeks of Magic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 52 Weeks of Magic. Show all posts

Sunday, March 10, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 11 of 52 - Armilla Carna

My campaign setting is based off of the Roman Empire. The common tongue is spoken by all cultures and is the true lingua franca of the Peninsula of Plenty. It is rendered as modern English. Demi-humans each have their own language and humans speak Latin.

This week's Magic item is reflective of this. The Armilla Carna is a magic charm carried by followers of the goddess Carna, the embodiment of health and heart. These charms are not magical in and of themselves, but contain a magical concoctions prepared on the feast day of Carna. Most people will call them "heart lockets" or "Carna's Charms" in common. Priest of Carna always refer to them as "Armilla".  

The most common style of charm is a locket containing a tiny amount of beans and pork prepared on the feast day. This small portion of food imbues the charm with the ability to heal the wearer when their hit points are at 1 or less. When a character hits one hit point via any kind of damage, the charm will heal one point per hour to a maximum of 4 hit points. 

If, by some chance, a person dies while wearing one of these charms it will char. Not only won't it work again, it is considered to be very bad omen. Typically, this occurs when someone dies by murder, drowning and poison. The small charm is not able to overcome the damage done by these kinds of incidents. It is a tradition to create a new charm as a burial gift. Taking one of these gifts from a grave is common law crime and the punishment is stoning or exile.  

The discharge of magic from the locket's consumption of the food stuffs will cause the device to warm and glow faintly while working. When the healing is complete, the wearer will find the locket has been completely cleaned and appear new.  

Anyone can create one of these lockets, however it must be blessed by a priest or priestess of Carna. Once blessed, it can be filled by anyone on the feast day of Carna to regain it's power. A priest of Carna can recharge the items if they have preserved foodstuffs from the feast day. Temples to Carna will do this for a small donation, usually an amount necessary to put on a small, simple feast on the holy day. 

The charms tend to be very rustic and primitive in nature, being made of string and large hollowed out beans. Traditionally, family member will make one for their children, cousins, parents, etc. to celebrate their first attendance of the feast. 

These items are very popular with soldiers. Their lockets tend to be more ornate and sometimes very valuable. Manufactured charms tend to be metal copies of the simple string and bean construction of commoners, despite being made of higher quality materials.  

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow
Week 11 of 52 - Aemilla Carna

Now, the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another. Please let me know what you think in the comments. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 10 of 52 - Sorrow

This week's magic item is a sword with a terrible curse. The sword's name is Dolorem, but anyone witnessing it's power will it render it's name in the common tongue: "Sorrow".

The sword is both a defensive and offensive weapon. Merely having the weapon in ones possession conveys a -1 to AC. Offensively, it is a +2 weapon and when drawn, immediately confers the same bonus as bless spell upon the wielder and his or her compatriots within the range of the spell (5"x 5" square). All opponents within the area of effect will be afflicted with a reverse of this blessing (blight), a -1 to hit and a -1 to morale. Everyone except for the wielder is entitled to a saving throw vs. this effect. The wielder effectively has a weapon which is +3 to strike and +2 to damage.

The cursed nature of this sword becomes apparent when combat begins. Anyone under the effect of the blessing or blight is consumed with a bloodlust for whoever they were arrayed against. They will find themselves unable to stop attacking opponents, until they are all dead. Combatants will strike at even unconscious or helpless foes. Sheathing Sorrow, being disarmed or otherwise losing the sword does not change this status until all opponents are dead or removed from the battlefield.

If someone is forcibly removed from combat, knocked out, completely restrained or otherwise prevented from fighting, they will becomes sick for 8 hours. All of their abilities drop by 1 for this time. Being teleported away from combat could end the curse, but this separation must be far enough to make rejoining the battle impractical. For example, being teleported into a cage, to the top of a cliff or tower, or into a significant body of water will all end the curse. Remember, the people affected by the curse will immediately become sick and weak when forced from combat. Being stuck in a web or paralyzed will also cause the curse to end.

The curse is limited to those within a 5" x 5" square when the sword is drawn. Anyone outside of this area will not understand the nature of the problem, unless they have encountered it themselves. The sword causes mayhem, as some people in combat will not be affected by the curse.

If a character has been previously witnessed the curse (but not necessarily affected by it), they are entitled to a +2 on their saving throw, but this is a choice of the player in question, not a requirement. Anyone affected by the blight will certainly invoke this bonus.

If the sword is drawn and sheathed multiple times in a single combat, nothing further happens. It cannot effect more people by sheathing and redrawing or force another saving throw. However, if one combat ends and new opponents appear later, the sword can be drawn again to invoke the curse again.

Sorrow does not compel the owner to draw it, nor does it compel the owner to use the sword in combat. If a person is helpless, sleeping, unconscious, etc. when Sorrow is drawn, the are not subject to the compulsion to fight when they wake nor does anyone with the bloodlust see them as a valid target so they do not gain a bonus to strike. Sorrow cannot compel people unwilling or unable to fight, nor does it allow the bloodlust to be used against them.

If the owner attempts to draw the sword against the helpless, not only will the curse fail to trigger, their companions may think less of them. Much less. Retainers, hirelings and followers may end their relationship with the owner if this happens.

Sorrow has empathic and telepathic powers, but is not intelligent. The owner will immediately be aware of the curse, so the invocation of curse cannot be an accident. Sorrow's curse may only be invoked by the owner and only if the owner desires a fight. Merely unsheathing the weapon for cleaning, inspection, appraisal, etc. does nothing. The owner must have an intelligence greater than 5 to invoke the curse.

In the unusual circumstances that someone other than the owner draws the sword with the intention to strike anyone, not only will they be unable to invoke the curse, they will lose 1 point from every ability for 24 hours. They need to make a saving throw vs spells to avoid passing out. Sorrow's curse cannot be invoked if the owner is charmed or otherwise compelled to draw the weapon. Characters struggling over the weapon cannot invoke the curse, unless the owner draws it to defend themselves. Having the sword unsheathed by magic spells or powers also does not invoke the curse.

If remove curse is cast upon Sorrow, it is demagiked for 1 hour and the bloodlust immediately for all involved. This does not cause weakness like being prevented or removed from a fight. The owner is not compelled to use the weapon, so a remove curse spell will not cause them to set it aside. Any time the weapon is sheathed, the owner can choose not to use it.

Sorrow's sheath is not special in any way and any proxy for a sheath can be used, such a wrapping the sword in a cloth, putting it away in a backpack, a chest, etc. If Sorrow is found without a sheath, anyone picking the weapon up will still be affected by the weapon's benefits, but cannot trigger the curse until one of the conditions above occur. The owner will also know this limitation.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow

Now the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Friday, February 22, 2019

52 weeks of Magic - 9 of 52 - Libertatem

This week's item is another sword. It has a special purpose from which it takes it's name: Libertatem or liberty.

It is a +3 gladius, or short sword. It is +5 vs. undead. Libertatem has the special purpose of freeing slaves and freeing captives unjustly imprisoned and has a bonus to strike undead and animated dead as a side effect.

The sword has one primary power - to heal once per day. Libertatem has one special purpose power: disintegrate. The nature of the power is limited to specific items but nearly unrestricted in usage. When the sword comes into contact with non-magical bonds, it will disintegrate them. Once per day, the disintegrate power can be used over an area 25 feet in radius freeing many bound people at a time. It can cleave magical bonds on a to hit roll. If the holder is bound, only the pulse effect can free them from non-magical bonds, unless they can contrive away to get the sword out and touch their own bonds.

If confronted by a person who is compelled by a charm-like effect, the sword will glow and smoke in frustration. The holder is entitled to a +5 save verses spells which compel, such as charm or command. If the spell is successful in affecting the character, Libertatem will either grant or refuse the bonus to hit, depending on the circumstances. In extreme situations, the sword can come into conflict with a charmed character and escape their grasp.

Libertatem has no power in a court of law, so long as the law is actually being followed. If justice is perverted in the court, the sword will literally smolder and glow. This is merely a show of force, it does not actually generate heat. The sword will use telepathy to make this determination. It is not particularly good at judging at relative justice, such as a goblin court of law and may go silent in these cases.

The sword radiates a magical and good aurora. Casting a detect alignment spell on Libertatem will not reveal an alignment, only it's purpose of liberty. Strangely, the sword will allow itself to be held by anyone who values freedom, justice and/or law regardless of alignment. It has clear preference for demi-humans over humans.

Libertatem has the ability to speak human (Latin), common, dwarven and halfling, in addition to using telepathy. Libertatem chooses to communicate in a very limited fashion, often in single words or short phrases, which can come across as bossy.

The sword has an Ego of 19. If the sword comes into conflict with a character the sword seeks to resolve the conflict as peaceably as possible. If the conflict is not extreme, such as a character being afraid to free others or enter combat, the sword will allow the character to set it aside or give the weapon away. If it becomes apparent that the character does not wish to free slaves and prisoners, the sword will try to worm it's way out the character's hand when drawn. Every time the sword is drawn or swung, the character must make a save vs. dexterity or lose control of the sword and drop it. Once freed, the sword's point will spin towards the character when they attempt to recover it. If the character persists in picking it up, the sword can strike them.

The sword will never express conflict in the form of adornments, the shedding of other magic and weapons, seeking creatures to slay, payment, or anything else that would restrict a character's freedom. It will try to talk it's way into a better characters hands, but only when a conflict exists.

Only those who actively subvert the law to unjustly imprison or enslave cannot hold the sword. If confronted by undead, the sword will allow any living person to pick it up and use it for as long as the immediate danger exists.

This weapon is close to being an artifact. The creation process required four wishes. This weapon is dwarven, and all dwarves are proficient when using it. The sword was deliberately forged as a traditional human weapon, as it was felt that a gladius would rally humankind to it.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow

Now the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera

The Equi Phalera is an award given by the Eqiotes order to a man or woman who actions save the lives of those in that group. The endangered Equites would vote to make the award and the device is then constructed by the priesthood. Non-equites can receive the award and become an honorary member. Extreme bravery or very unusual circumstances could elevate a non-equites to that class which includes to the gift of land, money and a horse. These devices are silver, not copper.

The design on the Phalera told the story of how that person received the award. The Phalera is typically made of copper. Silver Phalera can be awarded for extraordinary actions. Gold devices are profoundly rare, usually less than one per life time of the Emperor or Empress and are award by them alone. Due to the uniqueness of the award, it can take weeks or months to receive one.

The device gives the wearer a benefit +1 to all actions on horseback, including attacks. It also gives the user an excellent ability to ride and care for horses as if they were the most skilled equestrian. After a year of using this benefit, the wearer will actually obtain horsemanship skills to this level through practice, regardless of the possession of the device. If the wearer's mount is required to make a saving throw, it is done so at a +2. In the event that the mount is not entitled to saving throw, this device will allow one. This benefit may separate the mount and rider's die rolls, to the benefit of the horse.

If the wearer dies, the symbol's magic is broken and the loop securing it shatters. It will slowly tarnish as pictured above. These tokens are unique and valuable for reasons of honor, especially in the broken form. If recovered and returned to an officer of the Empire, a reward of 100 gps will be given. If given away by a recipient, the Phalera will lose all powers within a year and a day. If stolen intact from a recipient, they will tarnish and lose power immediately. Additionally, if the thief attempts to mount any sort of equine, it will refuse. The mount will then flee. This includes warhorses and other magical equines. This curse is permanent short of a wish. It may be ended by return of the Phalera to the proper authorities or owner AND remove curse is cast on the thief.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow

Now the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus.

The Symbol of Sol Invictus appears as a simple brass device, perhaps an ornate hairpin or some sort of clasp for a cloak. The device is actually much more than it seems. To be functional, the Symbol may be accompanied with a loop of metal, a leather strap or some other means of use. This secondary item is non-magical and does not effect the power of the device in any way.

In the early history of the Peninsula of Plenty, worship of the sun or Sol as a god was very common. Sol was not personified as in other religions but was viewed as an all-powerful beneficial force for good and order. In the third century of the Empire, the title "Incivtus" was bestowed upon the Emperor after his victory over a particularly vicious series raids by the Northern Tribes. The Emperor had been truly "unconquered" on the field of battle, but he resisted the title to defer to the gods he worshiped. It became common for people to add the honorific to heroic, beneficial, lawful and good deities, including Sol.


Priests of any sect may use this object as long as they meet the alignment requirements and the deity of the priest is not strongly opposed to healing or sunlight. For example, a lawful evil god of darkness will oppose using a Symbol of Sol Invictus while a lawful evil god of power and war will not have a problem with it. The priest in question may start referring to their god with the post-title "Invictus". The Symbol of Sol Invictus is merely inoperable for people of certain alignments, it will not harm them to handle the object.

An unadorned Symbol has three magic powers. First, it will heal 1d6 hit points once per day in the hands of a good or lawful person. It will heal any creature of any alignment, except undead. The recipient of this healing will be struck by a beam of light, which means the device's power is line of sight. To trigger this effect the holder must think of good or beneficial thoughts of or for the recipient.

The second power is to smite Undead. They will suffer 1d6+2 points of damage from this "healing" beam. In the case of undead the beneficial though is a desire for final peace, freedom or resolution.

Once either effect is triggered, the symbol will glow with the strength of a torch until the next sun set. This effect could last hours depending on when the power is used. It may be covered, not extinguished.

The symbol can be used to heal one person and smite one undead creature once per day. The Symbol has no charges, only the daily limits on each power. The glow is either active or not based on the usage of the other powers.

All of these of these symbols have 3 rough, bar shaped impressions on the rim. If a diamond worth more than 10 GP is placed in any of these slots, the device becomes much more powerful. Placing the gem only requires contact, it does not require a jeweler or skill. The gem will assume the shape of a bar. For each diamond added, the Symbol will heal and smite one more time per day for a maximum of four times each. Additionally, the brightness of the symbol will increase from the hazy fire of a torch. One diamond will flood an area 20 feet in radius with light. Two will cause the symbol to glow with a rich yellow light for 40 feet. 3 diamonds cause it shine as full daylight out to 120 feet.

An odd side effect of this Symbol's power is, if the holder attempts to heal someone who does not need healing or attempts to smite a non-undead creature, it will still glow. This glow will attract injured people of lawful or good alignments for a radius of 1 league, if any. As soon as the injured person moves into the line of sight of the Symbol, they will be healed instantly. The beam of this power will reveal the recipient and they will be compelled to thank the holder, so long as there is no dire threat preventing it. The device desires to be used for good and order, but will not compel a person to risk themselves or others to pay thanks to it's holder.

While the device's primary purpose is healing humans and demi humans, it can be used on any creature such as animals, natural or supernatural. The glow of the device never attracts such beings.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow

Now the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting

The Scimitar of Smiting is a dangerous weapon. It does not have a bonus to either the to hit roll or damage, but it does grant one additional attack. The sword does count as +1 magical weapon for the purposes of striking targets immune to mundane weapons.

On each successful melee strike, the blade begins to crackle with energy, slowly charging. If a natural 6 is rolled for damage, the sword is fully charged. On the very next round, the wielder can unleash a bolt of lightning for 1d6+1 points of damage. The holder will have this information transmitted to them as a vague instinct, no words, just the idea.

The bolt has a maximum range of 50 feet and comes from the sharp edge of the blade. The weapon has the following range modifiers:

Short: 0-15 feet +1
Medium: 16-20 feet 0
Long: 21-30 -1
Very long: 31-50 -2

Lightning blasts are so random, the user cannot add their Dexterity bonus for ranged attacks. The weapon can be used as a melee weapon or as a range weapon while it is charged. The weapon will fire lightning at the same rate as the users normal attacks, plus one. It can alternate between swings and bolts in any chosen pattern.

The weapon will lose its charge if sheathed, touches the ground or if a miss is rolled. This means as long as the wielder strikes a target, they have another chance to strike another target. Swings and bolts can be targeted on the same or different creatures in the same round.

Wiley characters may attempt to charge weapon by deliberately striking objects or the ground. This never works. The weapon will unleash an electrical burst on the holder for 1d6 hp damage if they state they are attempting this. There is no saving throw.

If the holder contrives some situation where they cannot be shocked by this burst of energy, such as a spell, the scimitar will smite them later. The sword will wait until it is good and ready, rather the earliest opportunity. If the sword decides to wait, it will often select a time when the wielder is well away from others or when the strike would most deadly or embarrassing. For example, shocking a swimmer or when entering a church or temple. The delayed damage is 2d6, with no saving throw.

The sword is vaguely intelligent, but does not speak or communicate often. Most communicated information is emotional in nature.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow

Now the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 5 of 52 - The Cowl of Death

The Cowl of Death is a magical monk's habit with hood. The cowl is imbued with the spell Feign Death like last week's Cloak of Peaceful Repose. It will immediately affect the wearer under one of two conditions:

1) the wearer is rendered unconscious by any means other than normal or magical sleep,
2) the user pulls up the hood and invokes the words, "memento mori".

If either of these two conditions are met, the wearer will collapse to the ground, seemingly dead as per the spell description.

The cowl has two other features. Over a period of an hour, the wearer will seem to rot while actually regaining one hit point (if any had been lost). Normally, the spell would prevent the recovery of hit points, but this item is designed to protect the wearer. The illusion of rot will prevent all but the most hungry scavengers from attacking the wearer. Intelligent creatures are allowed a saving throw vs. magic to ignore the illusion and the resulting implication that something was horribly wrong with the person before being struck down.

The Cowl of Death normally has 20 charges, but charges are only used when the command word is used. Invocation of the command can be verbal or mental. Being knocked unconscious does not use a charge.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow

Now the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another. Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

52 Weeks of Magic - 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose

Last week, we saw an evil weapon. This week, a more pleasant items is available.

The Cloak of Peaceful Repose will cast Feign Death on the wearer under two conditions:

1) the wearer is rendered unconscious by any mechanism except natural or magical sleep,
2) the wearer invokes the command, "Pardon" or "mihi pace".

In the case of being rendered unconscious, this cloak operates differently. The spell lasts 24 hours and the wearer is given the illusion that they've been laid out in a loving fashion. Scavengers will not interpret the wearer as food and intelligent creatures will be loathe to disturb the body. If invoked by the command words, the spell lasts but a single hour. In both cases, the wearer will have one hit point restored.

If the character is moved to a location that would cause actual death, The Cloak of Peaceful Repose sacrifices itself to rouse the wearer. The wearer will be granted all of the hit points they would naturally regain in 24 hours and they will rouse before they are buried, burned, etc. The cloak will disintegrate into a glowing white dust cloud, which will seem miraculous. The risk of death must be eminent, such as being placed in grave or set on on pyre mound.

Being buried at sea or in water provokes a violent response. The wearer will wake immediately and break for the surface with no hesitation. If the wearer loses a hit point to drowning damage, the cloak sacrifices itself by encasing the person in a glowing sphere which pushes them to the surface in a single round while also restoring a number of hit points equal to 48 hours of healing. Any weights, rope or chain wrapped around the character will fall off, undamaged. In this case, the cloak loses all magic but is not destroyed completely. The cloak changes to the color of wet slate and will remain so permanently. It will it will not accept dyes and is not affected by any normal bleaching agents or processes. It is subject to all other forms of damage.

The cloak has 20 charges if invoked by the keywords but functions any number of times unbidden. Obviously, if the cloak turns to dust, it is gone.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow

Now the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. It is a framework for old school commoner class characters or for adding a little background to Player Characters via professional skills. It's pay what you want, including free so don't hesitate to give it a try.

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.

Navigation:
Week 1 of 52 - Magic Lamps
Week 2 of 52 - The Rat Bag
Week 3 of 52 - Emulous Cursed Sword
Week 4 of 52 - The Cloak of Peaceful Repose
Week 5 of 52  - The Cowl of Death
Week 6 of 52 - Scimitar of Smiting
Week 7 of 52 - The Symbol of Sol Invictus
Week 8 of 52 - The Equi Phalera
Week 9 of 52 - Libertatem
Week 10 of 52 - Sorrow

Now the commercial. I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG. I am obviously thinking of writing another. Please let me know what you think in the comments.