The Power enchantment and a more realistic Ring of Dark Vision

by mshrm

A while back, by player request, I statted up an always-on Ring of Dark Vision, which ended up costing over $168K, thanks mostly to the Power enchantment. Clearly, that’s economic madness. If there were some archetypal “dark lord” out there who could enchant Power 5 into a magic ring, the enchanting surely wouldn’t stop at Dark Vision. The Power enchantment works for all the other spells built in to the object, so even if we’re talking about The One True Ring Made By Vlad Sparkles, The Dark Lord Limited To The Light-and-Darkness College, it’s more likely that the Dark Vision ring will also be able to cast, at will or always-on, every spell in the L&D college aside from Body of Shadow. At-will, always-on Invisibility, anyone?

(Huh… anybody else ever notice that Continual Light doesn’t count as a spell “on”, but Continual Mage Light does?  I’m not seeing anything in the errata about it, so I’m forced to assume that’s on purpose.)

(And another “huh”:  Last session, I seem to have quietly overruled the bit from DF1 about Invisibility ending if the invisible creature attacks. There was even some protest from the player side of the screen.  If I go back on myself now, I’ll have let an NPC use an exploit only to nerf that exploit before the PCs get their hands on it. That smacks of dirty pool, in a game where I’m supposed to be the impartial hand of fate. Anyway, I’ve always liked the baseline version of the spell from GURPS Magic more than the D&D spell, so I’m inclined to stand by the ruling. I understand the argument about stealing the thieves’ thunder, but I’m not sure that’s a huge concern for my game. With all the Blind Fighting, Vibration Sense, and See Invisible flying around the genre, I don’t see invisibility as a “win button”.  …Of course, now that I’ve said that, we’ll see Jed become a master of the spell and the whole party will be transparent the entire time they’re down dungeon.  Which is fine. The three countermeasures I mention are hardly the full extent of the potential issues with that approach…)

At any rate, the Light Dark Lord Sparkles’ Ring o’ Doom would likely have Body of Shadow enchanted into it, it just couldn’t cast it without some Fatigue from the user. Once you’ve taken the time to put that many spells into an item, you might as well go for the full set, right?

The user-powered version of the Dark Vision ring came out to $8,115, but would require 5 Fatigue to activate for just one minute. When the activation cost is that high, I doubt my players will see it as an advantage, particularly since the one who was most interested is now hoarding Jed’s Fatigue for casting spells. 🙂

There is another option besides user-powered and the expensive Power enchantment, though. In GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables, we are introduced to the idea of the Dedicated Reserve. The idea is, the item itself has a “fuel tank” to power its enchantments. The user can’t help pay the Fatigue cost, though, and the item’s “tank” needs to be filled in town, by NPCs, for money, just like regular power items. (More expensive variations allow recharging outside of town, but that’s a wrinkle I don’t want to introduce quite yet. Such self-charging items are rare and highly-coveted, so they’re rarely offered for sale… and when they are, the “Guild of Recharging Wizards” makes a point of putting in a bid.)

Taking the Ring of Dark Vision with no Power enchantment and adding a dedicated reserve sufficient to activate the spell once, for one full minute, would bring the cost to $8,315; for one activation of two minutes, $8,395; for three minutes, 8,475. I can think of applications where these might come in handy, but I don’t see them being worth it for my guys quite yet.

On the other hand, such a ring with a reserve of 23 would be able to run for up to 10 minutes at a stretch. That’s getting into usefulness, and the cost isn’t prohibitive. Examples:

Reserve Maximum activation time (min) Cost
23 10 $9,035
43 20 $9,835
63 30 $10,635
123 60 $13,035
183 90 $15,435

That last line, the 90 minute one, might be a bridge too far… but DF8 has more than one example of a 120 point reserve, so there’s precedent. An hour straight, or many smaller chunks of time, being able to see with no light at all?  That’s something the Delving Band With No Name could find a use for, I imagine…

* * *

Why do I keep coming back to this?  I’ll go ahead and tell you, because I think the draw of the carrot is so strong that they won’t care about the stick, even if I show it to ’em.

want ’em to invest lots of cash into equipment to overcome their limitations. An experienced delving band, loaded down with magic items, is the DF equivalent of a special ops unit. At TL8, such a team would have night-vision goggles for every member, at an expense of thousands of dollars. I expect the same to be true for any band of delvers. It’s in-genre for PCs to invest big money for high-end advantages. It gives them something to do with their loot, beyond gathering it all into a great, big pile to roll around in and pretend to be dragons.

… but that’s not why I keep throwing the see-in-the-dark ring out there.

The real reason is, they’ll start relying on their high-end gear. They’ll get an edge from it, which is as it should be, but some day, they’ll come to depend on that edge, and then some day after that, it’ll stop working for them. Maybe they’ll have to battle an ink-squirting squid in a subterranean lake, or they’ll end up on the wrong end of an anti-magic spell, or something… and on that day, we’ll see how well they think on their feet.