Don't Forget Your Boots

Meandering aimlessly around the GURPS landscape

Tag: magic items

TKotBO’s Cunning New Headgear and McSwayze’s New Best Friend

A couple of sessions ago, there were two events that I feel need re-visiting. The first was an exorcism, and the second was a bizarre fashion decision.

* * *

You may recall, McSwayze the leprechaun demonologist performed an exorcism on the old evil temple that’s been on the party’s “to do” list for some time, now. Assisted by Rolf singing hymns and TKotBO reciting scripture, he rolled a critical success and absolutely took that temple’s demon to school.

Afterwards, one of the players — not McSwayze’s — mentioned how two crits in a row in such a situation really merited some kind of recognition, beyond just a quick ritual. Upon reflection, I have to agree. Therefore, I’m taking the suggestion.  At the end of the exorcism, just as he was casting the demon out, McSwayze was able to wrest from it its true name. Now, he can call it individually with his Summon Demon spell.

The demon’s name was Grethory, no umlaut. Among demons, he’s kind of a nerd. Other demons are always kicking brimstone in his face on the beach at the lake of fire. Even so, he’s got his skills: he’s a specialist in the unquiet dead.  He’s 250 points, starting with the standard demon template, adding the Cloak of Darkness power and a group of 10 servitor skeletons or zombies that he can conjure at will. He also Hidden Lore (Undead) at 11 or less. When he was bound to the temple, it was his job to call up and turn loose a couple of undead every night. Cheap labor for the evil priest on duty.

* * *

I said “bizarre fashion” and I meant it.

Just sayin’…

TKotBO ended up keeping the form-fitting full-head leather(-ish) hood the party recovered from the four-armed weirdos from beyond time and space. Despite knowing that it was a thing of the four-armed weirdos from beyond time and space… despite knowing that it could cause mental trauma in a human wearer… and despite knowing that it would likely try to eat his face while he wasn’t looking.

Ever wonder how TKotBO lost his eye?

But I digress. Point is, he’s wearing the thing. His plan is, he will tame it through steadfast prayer, hand-feeding, and frequent beatings with a stout piece of firewood when things get out of hand.

Since he has the thing back in town, I’m assuming the inevitable question is going to come up:  “What’s it worth, on the open market?”

The thing’s effectively a leather helm, providing 2 DR to the skull and face. It weighs half a pound. It’s not magical, or at least not the arcane variety.  Nor is it blessed or cursed, in the religious sense. The expert’s best guess is, its apparently-magical powers must be based on some weird druidism from BT&S, or possibly advanced alchemy.

The most obvious of those powers is, it’s alive. It isn’t very smart, nor fast. Its emotional range extends the full spectrum from “sullen” to “cold, malevolent rage”. It eats small insects and bits of meat. If one leaves it on a table overnight with a drumstick from a fried chicken, the next morning one will find a dry bone on the plate, and the hood halfway across the floor to the door.

(Aside from the one time, that is, when TKotBo and his companions from the church tried the experiment, but forgot to put out the cat first.)

Though the outside of the hood is blank and featureless, without obvious eye-slits, the wearer can still see. In fact, the hood has an always-on Keen Vision +1 effect. (Making use of the excellent experimental rules, from Dungeon Fantastic, for limiting the Power enchantment!)

On the down side, the hood will occasionally use its intimate connection with the wearer to pass along Secrets Man Was Not Meant To Know. The effect is both visible and auditory, but game-mechanically, it’s treated as Phantom Voices at the Disturbing level. Also, if you’re going to wear it, you have to come to terms with the idea of sticking your entire head inside some… Thing‘s mouth.

Yes, TKotBO, it’s tasting you.

Bottom line, it should be worth $6250, or thereabouts, but it’s just about impossible to find any buyers. The elders at the church, of course, recommend cleansing it with fire…



Wizards’ Favorite Tool

“Your love of the Halfings’ leaf has clearly slowed your mind.” — Saruman

Gandalf really set the fashion for dungeon-delving wizards. (Rather funny, when you consider what killed him.) The standard uniform is robe, pointy hat, beard, staff, and pipe. Even if you’re looking at a young, spry wizard, you can bet he’s leaning on some kind of walking stick… and apparently, the last test of apprenticeship is taking up smoking, with a side line in smoke rings.

(Pulls a stump up to the fire, strokes his beard, and with a look of deep reflection in his eyes, says, “Back in my day…”)

I ran a little D&D campaign back in the early 1990’s, just a couple of players and the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia. It was a sort of game in miniature, in a lot of ways. We used the Cyclopedia because it was self-contained. The whole campaign was that one volume, a few sheets of loose-leaf notebook paper, and a scrawled map of the world on hex paper. Using a packaged campaign world would have involved adding another book, so we made up the world from scratch. It turned out quirky, as one might expect.

One of the quirks was the rule for wizard’s pipes.

I had just come off reading Madwand, by Roger Zelazny, which contains descriptions of a sort of world’s fair for wizards. I was quite taken with the idea, and wanted to steal it for myself. To support the idea of a periodic get-together, the campaign world had a powerful wizard’s guild. To demonstrate the power and presence of the guild, there were rules and rituals that wizards had to observe. A lot of those rules amounted to “keep your place, you low-level whippersnapper”. The pipe rule was a key piece of the strategy.

The point of it was that a mighty wizard should have a pipe appropriate to that wizard’s power and prestige, while a lesser wizard would have a more lowly implement, and an apprentice shouldn’t be allowed to smoke at all, but should be kept busy keeping the real wizards’ pipes (and wine glasses!) properly topped-off. This many years later, I can’t be entirely sure that I remember the details correctly, but I think I remember the gist of the rule. In that version of D&D, a character could be anywhere from 1st to 36th level. The rule was simple:  a wizard could have a pipe no more than two inches long for every level.

Thus, your 1st-level just-graduated apprentice has to make do with a little two-inch toy of a pipe. A 1st-level wizard can’t grow the coveted bushy beard of an archmage, because it gets singed off regularly. As I recall, the PC wizard started off with a little stub of a corncob pipe.

It’s got “Made in Narnia” stamped on it.

Higher-level wizards, on the other hand, could carry a pipe measured in feet, not inches. A travelling wizard, like Gandalf, might have a pipe of only about a foot or so for the road, of course, but they would be sure to have something overblown and ostentatious for special occasions. The most powerful wizards would have teams of apprentices acting as a sort of smoker’s pit crew, with one or two tasked solely with maneuvering a monstrosity of over five feet in length.

A mighty wizard, indeed!

Years later, I told this story to Jed’s player, when he mentioned how Jed picked up some “goblin cigarettes” on the way out of town. Jed’s got a kind of Rat Pack vibe about him, so they’re all part of his persona. Anyway, the player appeared to be quite charmed at the idea, and demanded that I institute the same sort of custom in the world of Tembladera.

Well, clearly, “two inches per level” isn’t going to do it. GURPS ain’t got no levels. Even trying to hang it off Magery seems unlikely; a span of six values doesn’t give a lot of room for subtle nuance. Luckily, there’s a better, more realistic way to get the same effect. In GURPS, what’s the difference between a cheap suit, and the kind of suit you find on billionaire playboys? The “ornate” modifier, and all of its ornamental cousins. A fresh apprentice, at 250 points and average starting wealth, is going to invest in the standard, off-the-shelf pipe, at most. As that apprentice gains power and wealth, that original clay pipe will be discarded in favor of fancier versions. At some point, no doubt, gemstones will come into the equation.

* * *

A standard baton, staff, or hatchet can have a smoking pipe added for a cost of 1sp and an additional 2 ounces of weight. The same can be done to a wizard’s wand, so long as the physical modifications are made before enchanting.  (I’ll go ahead and answer the next question:  Yes, Jed can have one built in to his hat, but he can’t wear the hat and smoke at the same time. That costs more.)

Pipes are meant to be semi-disposable, at best. A nice, basic meerschaum can be had for 3cp, or 7cp if elaborately carved, as they often are. The equivalents in dragonbone would still only cost 5sp, or 6sp, respectively. The good news is, even pipes suitable for enchantment are relatively inexpensive. The bad news is, since they’re so fragile and wear out so quickly, very few are given enchantments of any great power.

For example, an elaborately carved dragonbone pipe, enchanted to allow the smoker to cast the Smoke spell, would cost 74cp. This is a fairly common gag around Tembladera. Practical jokers will find a public area near their targets, light up, and start producing a cloud fit to clear the room. For the same price, the considerate smoker might get one enchanted to cast Purify Air, so the martial artist in the party doesn’t get all “my body is a temple” when the wizard needs to take a moment to relax and regain energy.

More subtle jokers go cheap:  for 16sp, one can have a pipe enchanted with Odor, set to any one smell. Honest tradesmen offer pipes enchanted to create pleasant smells, like sandalwood. Novelty shops provide an array of less-desirable scents best left to the imagination.

Those who want to weaponize their pipes might choose one enchanted to cast Stench, for 21sp.  The thing to keep in mind here is, Stench doesn’t just make the place smell like old fish; that’s the job of Odor. Stench should really be named something like “Mustard Gas Won’t Be Prohibited By The Geneva Convention Until TL 6”. If you ever wanted your wizard to be able to massacre a crowded inn using nothing but smoke rings, this is the tool for you.

The dedicated hobbyist smoker, though… The kind of wizard who puts points into Connoisseur (Pipeweed)… Now, that wizard is going to be interested in a certain couple of enchantments. For 31sp, one can buy a self-cleaning pipe enchanted to cast Clean. For 43sp, 2cp, one can get one that’s self-igniting, enchanted to cast Ignite Fire. (These prices assume an unlimited enchantment, meaning that the self-cleaning pipe can not only clean itself, it can turn its enchantment on your robe or hat or what-have-you as well. There are cheaper, limited versions of both, but it’s beneath the dignity of most wizards to quibble over such details.) Finally, for 68sp, 2cp, one can pick up the masterpiece, enchanted with both.  Just add pipeweed.

More Unique Magic Items

More magic items, either randomly-generated or inspired by randomly-generated stuff. These are all unique. Some say odd things about the world of Tembladera.

D’arth Ah-Pahl’s Star of Death: At first glance, this appears to be a finely-detailed piece of jewelry in the shape of a seven-pointed star. The points of the star are solid silver. The center of the star is decorated by a pattern of tiny black beads of enamel. It is meant to be worn pinned to a cloak or other garment.

If closely examined, however, the object’s true usefulness becomes apparent: it is a balanced silver shuriken. Furthermore, it is enchanted with the second level of Quick-Aim. The bad news is, this enchantment is warped, such that it is only usable by corpse-eaters. The Star was made for D’arth Ah-Pahl, one of the scions of the House of D’arth who was active during the early exploration of Tembladera, as a concealable weapon on formal occasions. (0.1 lbs; apparent value $96 or $1096 with enchantment)

Shawl of the Agreeable Widow: This item appears to be a shawl made from a blend of fine wools. The edge is decorated with many small wooden beads, painted red and yellow. One who looks closely at the beads will discover that they are actually painted with tiny, stylized, demonic faces that seem to be formed of flame.

The shawl bears a demonic enchantment. On the one hand, it allows the wearer to cast Glib Tongue. On the other hand, every day during which the wearer takes advantage of this power, the wearer must make a HT roll. A crit failure reduces the wearer’s HT by 1. Rumor has it, if one dies from this draining effect, one will return as some kind of undead under the control of the demons who created the item. It received its name from its first user, a woman who sought vengeance for her husband’s execution and was given the shawl by a corrupting demon. The bards say she got her revenge, but was nearly killed by the item’s curse. Most versions of the story end with the widow cheating the demon out of her soul, only to die after misjudging the shawl’s power of glamour. (0.4 lbs; apparent value $168 or $6668 with enchantment)

Hand of Kevan: A prosthetic hand carved from solid ivory, with a wrist-stump cup made of rosewood and leather. The back of the hand bears a “tattoo” of Kevan’s mark, picked out in black seed pearls. The nails are made of silver. If found at rest, it assumes a neutral position with the thumb upraised, the index finger somewhat bent, and the other fingers curled underneath, almost as if its cradling an invisible wine glass.

When strapped on the stump of a wizard’s severed hand, though, the hand seems to come to life. It is permanently enchanted with Shatterproof and Animate Object, giving it an effective ST of 10, moving under the conscious control of the wearer. The hand seems to prefer wizards. If worn by someone without Magery, it will remain in its neutral position, and only the Shatterproof enchantment will be effective.

A wizard wearing the Hand can also cast Steal Beauty, Steal Energy, or Steal Vitality at will. While there is no particular curse on the item, so far as any sage knows, those particular powers tend to bring out the worst in its users. Kevan was a not-really-all-that-evil necromancer who retired to work full-time as an enchanter a generation ago. While he did construct the Hand that bears his name, he never wore it; it was a masterwork created for a wealthy customer with exotic tastes. (1 lb., apparent value $3,900 or $108,000 including enchantments)


A Few Enchanted Cloaks

By request. An old, old request. Probably obsolete, by now.

Spider’s Cloak: A hooded cloak made from black silk. embroidered with a spiderweb motif over the exterior of the entire garment. It is enchanted so as to make the wearer entirely immune to any spider venom. Furthermore, the wearer can cast Wallwalker at will. Apparent value $522.50, or $30,520 if aware of enchantments; 5.5 lbs.

Cloak of Protection, Type 1: A hooded cloak, dyed a nice green or blue, and trimmed with rabbit fur. The wearer can cast Blur 2 upon himself, reducing opponent’s ability to hit him. Apparent value $440, or $4,440 with enchantments; 5.5 lbs.

Cloak of Protection, Type 2: Identical to the previous, aside from the enchantment. This version allows the user to cast Missile Shield. Cost with enchantments becomes $8,440.

The Black Cloak of Al O’Teen: A unique item once belonging to Al O’Teen, an infamous evil cleric active during the early days of Tembladera. It is a silk cloak with a voluminous hood, dyed black, trimmed along its entire edge with black panther fur.  It is a powerful unholy relic, blessed with two powers usable only by those with Unholiness or Power Investiture (Unholy). The wearer can cast Communication and Lightning Whip. Its apparent value is $687.50, or $23,690 with enchantments; 5.5 lbs.

Buyers Berzerk: Blessed Button Business Booms

Unexpectedly, the player response to my thoughts on Bless has tended more along the lines of “Wow, I never figured we’d get away with it as long as we did.”  Instead of the expected upset, I’m getting inquiries about blessed buttons. Thus, this expanded selection of buttons.

* * *

Blessed Bronze Button: This is the new and improved version of the old blessed button. It is a bronze button, with bit of relief carving to display the symbol or visage of the god of one’s choice (Ornate +1). It is enchanted with a 1-point Bless. These are intended for the general run of the common congregation. Nearly any successful townsman will have one of these, so they’re quite easy to come by. Sells for $112.50, and weighs only 0.08 lbs.

Blessed Electrum Button: A finer version, enchanted with a 2-point Bless. Made from electrum, rather than common bronze, and more elaborated decorated, with a larger, more detailed version of the god’s symbol or face (Ornate +2). Way outside the price range for most, this is the kind of thing you only find on successful adventurers, highly-successful merchants, or the most trusted retainers of the local nobility.  Sells for $16,825; weighs 0.15 lbs.

Blessed Platinum Button: The finest example of the type, elaborately carved and further decorated with semiprecious stones (Ornate +3). Enchanted with a 3-point Bless. There are only a handful of these in Tembladera. They’re only available to the most high-ranking citizens who haven’t been excommunicated — which excludes many of the city’s most powerful wizards. Even if an adventurer were to turn up with the money to pay for one, the request would surely be reported to The Powers That Be before being granted. Of the few that do exist, the majority include further blessings. The rumor is that some have divine servitors bound to them, sworn to protect the bearer. Costs $184,480; weighs 0.25 lbs.

* * *

Yeah, that escalated quick, didn’t it? And remember, when the Bless turns into a life-saving miracle, the button itself crumbles to dust. That really turns the economics on its head, when a Resurrection only costs $6K. When most buyers take that jump from level one to level two, it won’t be just because of the miraculous life-saving effect, it’ll be because of the reaction bonus and the constant +2 to everything.

An adventurer might still find it worth the extra $10K, as insurance against avoiding a death that would preclude Resurrection. When you’re fighting dragons, you’ve got to account for the possibility of being reduced to ash, or eaten whole.

It would have to be one flush adventurer, though. My guys might be able to scratch up enough to buy one electrum button, but I don’t think they could afford three.


More Random Magic Items

More random items coming out of the half-built software, as they catch my eye.  All are unique, one-0ff items.

Bucket Full Of Thunder:  A holy relic stolen from a servitor of the storm gods, this bucket has a silver thunderbird on one side. The other side has hundreds of small copper nails, picking out the name of the servitor in question in elaborate calligraphy. The user can cast Lightning, by motioning as if to throw the contents of the bucket at the target. The lightning is immediately followed by a clap of thunder. The thunder isn’t loud enough to stun or deafen, but it will ruin stealth. As a holy relic that was never intended to be used by mortals, it inflicts damage to the aura of its possessor, causing Unluckiness. (4 lbs; $8,090)

Shirt of the Dry Eye: A light hooded shirt of unremarkable appearance, with two exceptions. First, it is embroidered on the left breast with the figure of a priest at prayer. Second, it has a set of three small, iron bells attached at the wrist of its left sleeve. The bells have scratches around their rims, arranged to give the impression of a minimalist riverbank. When the wearer touches the embroidered priest, she may cast Emotion Control to produce any emotion. When she rings the bells, she can cast Destroy Water. Both spells are enchanted at an effective 20 skill. (0.44 lbs; $158.40/$150,158.40)

Scythe of Disassembly: A scythe painted in a black-and-white scheme meant to make it seem to be made of interlocking bones. Even the blade is enameled in black, with a backing of white “bones”. It’s enchanted such that when it delivers a wound that cripples a limb, that limb is amputated outright. Furthermore, the enchantment was performed with a Power of 20, making it effective even in low-mana surroundings. (5 lbs; $90/$75,090)

Zim’s Skeleton Key:  An elaborate, enchanted, portable ram, which is almost certainly not named for Sergeant Zim of the Tembladera Guard. Perhaps an ancestor of the same name. While the business end is shod with steel, the rest of the ram is beautifully decorated. The far end is decorated with a series of beads in the shape of a hand waving a wand. The butt of the ram is encircled by a pattern of gold wires forming interlocking diamonds and triangles, giving the impression of an inferno. If one gazes upon the ram for too long, the grain of the wood seems to writhe like smoke, increasing that impression. These decorations are a clue as to the ram’s enchantments:  it enables the user to cast Warm and Create Fire. It seems that it was created as an instrument for opening strong, but flammable, doors under freezing conditions. (35 lbs; $3,263/$12,263)

Deck of Khonsu: A deck of playing cards, each card having been expertly dyed to display a scene from Egypt. (Note: This is the Egypt of the world of Tembladera, an ancient and powerful land, steeped in thousands of years of history and famous for its uncountable number of pyramids… which are tools used by its undead mummy rulers to maintain their own mystical powers.) When the proper card is turned face-up on top of the deck, it enables the owner to cast Sand Jet, with a enchantment power of 20. The deck was created by a native of Egypt, a gambler, who wanted a secret weapon. (0.25 lbs; $175/$36175)

Dragonbone Arrows of Seeking: A bundle containing an even dozen elf-made arrows. The arrows are balanced for +1 to Bow skill when used, and made from dragonbone. The broadhead arrowheads are forged from steel, but lightly carved to resemble a leaf. Each arrowhead has a polished stone inclusion in the shape of concentric circles, like a small target. Furthermore, they are enchanted with Accuracy +3, demonstrating the magical mastery of the elven enchanters. Each arrow weighs 0.1 lbs, and appears to be worth $66 to the mundane eye. Including the enchantment, each arrow is worth $10,066. (total 1.2 lbs; $120,792)


Odd things from the side project

For the past few weeks, I’ve been fiddling around with a programming project, as a way to help pick up a new language. The goal of the project is to help generate treasure hoards for the dungeon.

Along the way, I’ve discovered a lot of little nuances to GURPS Dungeon Fantasy 8: Treasure Tables. For example, if rolling randomly, 1 in 6 enchanted items has some kind of curse. Makes sense. Folks keep a grip on the good stuff, so it tends to stay on the surface.

I’ve also re-discovered some gems (heh) that I had forgotten. There’s a great little table towards the end of the text, that you can use to generate an outline of an item’s history. That’s great stuff, there. Someday, the party’s going to have a wizard who can cast all those divination spells, and they’re going to start investigating the history of things. When and if that happens, I’m going to need all the help I can get, coming up with interesting stories.

Or maybe they’ll just keep busting in doors and mugging monsters, and let the archaeologists worry about the history. Seems about as likely.

At any rate, one of my tests for the project involves randomly generating a mess o’ items. I happened to notice this one, and had to share:

Dandy’s Hat

Unique item. A top hat, sewn together out of hundreds of tiny bits of silk, giving the impression that it’s formed out of black-tie evening wear, sized for pixies. It is decorated with an elaborate burst of long peacock feathers. It is enchanted to allow the user to cast both Charm and Command. At some point during its history, its wearer offended a being of power, who laid a curse upon the hat: anyone who possesses the hat also suffers from a cloud of misfortune, as if they had Unluckiness. (0.3 lbs; $35,180)


The Power enchantment and a more realistic Ring of Dark Vision

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.

Enchanted Eye-wear

By player request, some examples of enchanted eye-wear. The mundane basis for all of these is a pair of tinted goggles with ornate, silver-plates frames. To one who is unaware of their magical qualities, they appear to be worth $450. Each weighs 0.5 pounds. Like all tinted goggles, they provide eye protection, but also give a -5 penalty to Vision rolls.

First, the arguable useful:

  • Goggles of Vision: Enchanted with Restore Sight, always on. Any mundane blindness is cured while the goggles are worn. Magical blindness gets to resist against the goggles’ effective 15 Power. $20,450
  • See-Behind Goggles: Enchanted with Rear Vision, allowing the wearer to see behind himself for 1 minute, at a cost of 3 Fatigue (1 to maintain).  $20,450
  • Goggles of the Unseen: Enchanted with See Invisible (4 to cast, 2 to maintain). These are cheap enough that the bigwigs around town likely have access to a pair when they need them. $8,450

Next, the questionable:

  • Goggles of Night: Enchanted with various variations of Night Vision, offsetting vision penalties for darkness to -9. Since the goggles themselves carry a penalty to Vision rolls, in many situations, the wearer would be better off just removing the goggles in dim light. For example, in an area with a -3 lighting penalty, the wearer would be at -5; in an area with an ambient -6 to -9 penalty, the wearer would still be at an effective -5. (The enchantment is useless in darkness, so a -10 lighting penalty would still leave the wearer blind.) The self-powered version costs 3 Fatigue to activate and 1 Fatigue to maintain, costing $4,450. One with a 7 point dedicated reserve, sufficient for 5 minutes of use with no cost to the wearer, costs $4,730
  • Goggles of Clear-Seeing: Enchanted to be able to cast Keen Vision +5 at a cost of 5 Fatigue (3 to maintain) for 30 minutes. Effectively, this offsets the innate -5 penalty for the goggles, leaving the wearer at no penalty… for short periods of time, at a great cost in Fatigue. Clearly, a specialty item. $15,450

Finally, the cursed:

  • Goggles of Madness: Enchanted with the first, “always on” version of Madness. The wearer is slowly incapacitated by hallucinations (see B429). Worse, the goggles are under a Hex, and so cannot be easily removed. $14,450
  • Goggles of the Accuser: Enchanted with the “always on” version of the Hallucination spell. The wearer will see himself followed by a silent angel who makes hateful faces and points an accusing finger at him. There is nothing keeping the wearer from removing the glasses… aside from the lingering feeling that the angel is still there, but is now invisible… $20,450

A Gift For Needles

A few more magical items that might be of particular interest to a thief. Needles, particularly, in a couple of cases.

First, three swords.  All three are fine, balanced short swords weighing 2 lbs. Each one is a custom creation, not something one would find readily for sale in the local market. Suitable for being a quest object, for example.

  • Sword of Quickness: This sword comes with silver inlay on the hilt and includes two 2 caret emeralds, one on either side of the ricasso. It has been enchanted with Penetrating Weapon and Defending Weapon to give a (2) armor divisor and a +1 to Parry. Furthermore, the wielder can cast Haste upon himself. This takes 2 seconds of Concentration, costs 4 Fatigue to activate for 1 minute and half that for each additional minute, and bestows +2 to the wielder’s Move and Dodge scores. If one is unaware of its enchantments, it appears to be worth  $6,440, including the gems. Actual value: $31,440
  • Thieves’ Bow: The blade appears unremarkable, aside from a 4.5 caret bloodstone in its pommel in an elaborate silver setting. It is enchanted with Penetrating Weapon, giving a (2) armor divisor to normal attacks. Its name comes from its power of Distant Blow, however. At a cost of 3 Fatigue and 3 seconds Concentration, the wielder can strike at a distance with the short sword, taking normal range penalties, for up to 5 seconds. The armor divisor does not apply to distant blows. Still, unless there’s something I’m overlooking, a skilled thief could activate this power and strike from stealth, using Rapid Strike to effectively backstab several opponents in a single blood-drenched second. It appears to be worth $6,748; actual value $51,748
  • Unseen Blade: This one has a plain, leather-wrapped hilt, but its blade is invisible. Anyone attempting a disarm against it is at a -6 for the attempt. Unless the wielder is also invisible, anyone attacked with the Unseen Blade defends normally, once the natural of the weapon becomes apparent. The first time an unaware opponent faces the Blade, it should count as a dirty trick (see Bp405); I would use a Quick Contest of IQ, giving a -2 to the defender’s defense rolls if the Contest comes out in the attacker’s favor. Aside from the blade itself, the matching, rather plain scabbard is enchanted with Hideaway to hold the entire blade, though it is sized for a small knife. The sheathed sword’s weight is not reduced in any way, only its apparent size. This can simplify the problem of carrying military-grade weapons in certain situations. Mainly, all of these enchantments are aimed at confusing witnesses; between the invisible, impossible blade and a little Sleight of Hand, one might be able to pull off a backstab in plain sight. As a mundane weapon, it appears to be worth $3,200; actual value $13,275

Plus, a couple of semi-random bonus items:

  • Self-Cocking Bow: This is just a balanced ST 15 crossbow, enchanted with to re-cock itself when needed, without any input from the wielder. This property is automatic, and becomes obvious to anyone working the mechanism. (In the past, Needles has gotten some use from a ST 15 crossbow, but it’s a fire-and-forget-it weapon. He hands it over to Alric, after the right, to get it re-cocked. I suspect he’s better off sneaking, skulking, and shiv-ing, rather than playing archer, but when that’s not an option — like, when the flying enemies show up — Needles might get some value from having more than one shot.) This is a relatively common enchantment, which can be had second-hand through the local markets. $9,250; 6 lbs.
  • Valda’s Eye: A 2 foot long gold chain supporting a pendant with a 10 caret cat’s-eye surrounded by five ½ caret pieces of jade in a pentagonal arrangement. At will, the wearer can cause the pendant to glow with a cold light equivalent to a candle’s flame. The wearer can activate various spells upon himself by lifting the pendant to his eye and Concentrating. Each effect lasts for 1 minute, and can be maintained at a reduced cost. The available spell effects are See Secrets (4 to cast, 1 to maintain), See Invisible (cast 3, maintain 1), Mage Sight, and Night Vision (both cast 2, maintain 1). See Secrets takes 5 seconds of concentration to activate, while the others only require a single second. This is one of several legendary items associated with the (in)famous thief and rogue, Valda Dije. Mundane value $7,785; actual value with enchantments, $41,845; 0.2 lbs.


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