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Author Topic: Magic Items  (Read 13914 times)
tauman
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Posts: 65


« on: March 03, 2003, 07:58:12 AM »

Okay, now don't everyone get excited--I'm not talking about handing out so many that the characters all glow like Christmas trees...

Many of the fantasy novels that have inspired me include a protagonist with a magic item (usually a sword). Now I'm not into "equipping" a party for every eventuallity, but I have thought about how some magic items (especially weapons) might be handled in TROS. Powers and abilities are pretty wasy to come up with, it's more a matter of when should magic items be used, and what are the implications of using them.

First, all magic items are unique, so there would be no "Sword +1" stuff. The history of the blade should be well known by the Seneschal, and the blade should turn up where it does for a reason. Of course once a character obtains it, word will spread quickly--for good and bad. While merely possessing a magic sword will frighten away many potential foes, it will also draw much unwanted attention--much of it power powerful individuals with significant resources.

For example, suppose Tomaris were to come across the lengendary Fey-blade Aratarkis which was wielded of old by a Fey king who once ruled all of the lands in the area. Now, a few thousand years later, the fey are long gone, remembered only in legend. The good king Harald has just been deposed by his cousin Rufus the Red, who is attempting to consolidate his power. Now Rufus has heard about Tomaris and his discovery, and has decided that possessing Aratarkis might add an air of legitimacy his rule in the eyes of some of the rebellious nobles who continue to resist him. Tomaris might have a very short life. Of course, if Tomaris obtained the blade by robbing the barrow of a Fey King, any Fey in the area are likely to be very unhappy about this...

Something I've noticed in epic fantasy and even some old Sagas is how some magic items seem to have a destiny of their own. So perhaps the most interesting magic items would have their own Spiritual Abilities. Instead of adding bonuses to any activity, would only add bonuses to acitivities that serve a part of an item's greater destiny. So a sword with an SA relating to Right and Justice might only receive bonuses when dispatching right and justice. This could be taken a step further by saying that actions which are contrary to the purpose of a sword might even be hindered by the sword. So a brigand using the "Sword of Justice" to murder and pillage might actually find that the sword's bonuses are added to his foes' CP...

Lastly, certain item seem to gain a destiny based on how they are used. I don't really know how to model this in the game. But perhaps certain major actions might lend a purpose to an item. For example, if Lord Wulfstan, stalwart defender of justice and good, were to banish a greater demon, perhaps the blade he used would acquire a special purpose. Of course the blade would be revered by Wulfstan--and handed down from generation to generation--becoming almost a religious artifact...

Steve Reich
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Valamir
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« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2003, 08:22:06 AM »

Steve the last part of your post I think hits on something that is down right brilliant, and I'm pretty sure has not been a topic here before.  Magic Artifacts defined by their own SAs.  The "power" of the artifact comes from these SAs with the flavor text of the artifact providing the scope and nature of their application.  

Conceptually this could be applied to anything from Elric's sword to Aadon's broach of wisdom from Prydain.
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Drew Stevens
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Posts: 154


« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2003, 08:30:08 AM »

*blinkblink*

Oh.  My.  God.

Magical Items being defined by SAs of their own.

It's full of stars! :)

Course, there's also the 'other' qualities of such mystic items which are always on- Excalibur cutting through steel like water, and the sheath halting bloodloss from wounds, for example...

But, on the whole, that fits... so well...
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2003, 08:32:02 AM »

I'm with Valamir. Great idea, having magic weapons with SAs. No other bonus (other than fine craftsmanship or such) would even be needed for an impressive magical artifact.

You can also enchant items and imbed spells rather easily under the current sorcery rules, creating a large variety of magical items.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2003, 08:51:25 AM »

Hi there,

Ralph's suggestion is wonderful, and owes a bow in the direction of the rules for magical stuff in Orkworld, which are all based on the metagame mechanic "Trouble" in that game. Check it out for great guidelines and examples for applying the concept, all of which 'port into Riddle of Steel SA terms with nary a peep.

Best,
Ron
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Salamander
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Posts: 450


« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2003, 09:00:23 AM »

This is one that I have never been able to resist discussing in RPGs. I think that you are on the right track as far as not having so many magic items about, especially the "Noun of Verbing" types. I have a few methods I use for magic items that seem to work well for me and the players in the group I am currently in.

The first question is how did it become magical? Was it made that way by some Fey artisan? Or was it just a really good blade that seemed to absorb some of the essence of the task at hand or some similar theory?

What does it do? If it was in the hands of a brave Knight Hospitaler who fought bravely in battle, yet cared for the ill in the meantime, does it seem extra sharp (+1dam) or eager to cut the foe (-1ATN)? What about it having some unusual power to accelerate healing in some fashion(+1Dice or -1TN)? How does one know it is magical? What is its worth as a relic? Who can use it? Who wants it? Who was its original creator? Weilder? How does one control/activate its magical powers?

I always have fun with magic articles in my games. In the upcomming TRoS Campaign I think that Magic Items will be few and far between, if they ever see them.

I could tell you about the mace of Sir Crunchum de Mangley some time if you want.
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"Don't fight your opponent's sword, fight your opponent. For as you fight my sword, I shall fight you. My sword shall be nicked, your body shall be peirced through and I shall have a new sword".
Salamander
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Posts: 450


« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2003, 09:07:30 AM »

Ooh... that's sweet! I am so gonna use that idea! Valamir, you are a genius!
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"Don't fight your opponent's sword, fight your opponent. For as you fight my sword, I shall fight you. My sword shall be nicked, your body shall be peirced through and I shall have a new sword".
Durgil
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Posts: 306


« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2003, 09:27:15 AM »

Like the rest of you guys, I'm psyched about this new idea of Steve's (magical weapons with SA's is pure genius), but, like Sal, I need to know the weapon's history.  Namely, how did an inanimate object, such as a sword, get SA's in the first place?  Was there some kind of soul trapped into it?  If so, how could there be a non-evil version of this type of weapon?  I personally don't think of imprisoning someone's or something's soul as a good or righteous act.
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Tony Hamilton

Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2003, 09:33:47 AM »

Hello,

Whoops, forgot to mention Earthdawn as well, which also utilized a "history of the item" method to define magical things' ability. If I'm remembering correctly, the character actually had to make history rolls or otherwise improve certain skills in order to utilize the weapon/thing fully.

Both Earthdawn and Orkworld are, I think, required reading for this issue and already cover tons of concerns both stated here and not yet stated (but soon to show up, I'm sure).

Tony, you're leapin' the tracks a bit with your "soul" concern. The Riddle of Steel does not state, one way or another, anything about souls, and Spiritual Attributes (as written) are strictly metagame concerns, not necessarily reflecting anything in-game at all. I know from previous threads that you have a little trouble with this concept or prefer not to employ it, but at least recognize that you're projecting your own "SAs must represent something in-game" concerns into the issue, and thereby causing yourself trouble that isn't necessarily there already.

Best,
Ron
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tauman
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2003, 09:42:12 AM »

Quote from: Salamander
This is one that I have never been able to resist discussing in RPGs. I think that you are on the right track as far as not having so many magic items about, especially the "Noun of Verbing" types. I have a few methods I use for magic items that seem to work well for me and the players in the group I am currently in.

The first question is how did it become magical? Was it made that way by some Fey artisan? Or was it just a really good blade that seemed to absorb some of the essence of the task at hand or some similar theory?

What does it do? If it was in the hands of a brave Knight Hospitaler who fought bravely in battle, yet cared for the ill in the meantime, does it seem extra sharp (+1dam) or eager to cut the foe (-1ATN)? What about it having some unusual power to accelerate healing in some fashion(+1Dice or -1TN)? How does one know it is magical? What is its worth as a relic? Who can use it? Who wants it? Who was its original creator? Weilder? How does one control/activate its magical powers?

I always have fun with magic articles in my games. In the upcomming TRoS Campaign I think that Magic Items will be few and far between, if they ever see them.

I could tell you about the mace of Sir Crunchum de Mangley some time if you want.



Hmm... thinking about what powers an item has and who can use them brings up some interesting possibilities.

If an item has powers related to SA's, there might be a restriction that those powers only work in the hands of someone with a similar SA. So the "Sword of Justice" I gave in my example might have a drive that equates to dispensing justice, and thus, its powers might only work in the hand of a character with the "same" drive. Some items will merely not work in the hands of a character with a contradictory SA, others might try to force his demise--or maybe forcing a contest of SAs whenever a conflict of purpose arises. Certain powers might be inherent based on the history of the weapon--for example the sword "Erechain, Dragonsbane", might have as a "power" "unbreakable while in battle with a dragon," not that the player would know that. OTOH, certain weaknesses might present themselves--the "Sword of Justice" might shatter when used to dispense false justice. Just hinting that these things could happen can change the way an item is used and handled.

Steve Reich
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Valamir
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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2003, 09:44:53 AM »

Quote from: Salamander
Ooh... that's sweet! I am so gonna use that idea! Valamir, you are a genius!


True, but in this case the idea was Steve Reich's.  My genius was merely in recognizing and highlighting his genius.

Which of course means that in the real world I get all the credit and the money and he gets a brief mention in my memoirs, after having died in poverty cursing my name...  ;-)
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tauman
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2003, 09:50:34 AM »

Quote from: Valamir
Quote from: Salamander
Ooh... that's sweet! I am so gonna use that idea! Valamir, you are a genius!


True, but in this case the idea was Steve Reich's.  My genius was merely in recognizing and highlighting his genius.

Which of course means that in the real world I get all the credit and the money and he gets a brief mention in my memoirs, after having died in poverty cursing my name...  ;-)


The real genius was the creation of SAs--it was really only a matter of time before someone applied them to magic items...

Steve
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Salamander
Member

Posts: 450


« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2003, 10:04:03 AM »

Quote from: tauman
Quote from: Valamir
Quote from: Salamander
Ooh... that's sweet! I am so gonna use that idea! Valamir, you are a genius!


True, but in this case the idea was Steve Reich's.  My genius was merely in recognizing and highlighting his genius.

Which of course means that in the real world I get all the credit and the money and he gets a brief mention in my memoirs, after having died in poverty cursing my name...  ;-)


The real genius was the creation of SAs--it was really only a matter of time before someone applied them to magic items...

Steve


Oops, sorry Steve... =| That'll learn me for not reading more carefully...
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"Don't fight your opponent's sword, fight your opponent. For as you fight my sword, I shall fight you. My sword shall be nicked, your body shall be peirced through and I shall have a new sword".
Durgil
Member

Posts: 306


« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2003, 10:08:40 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Tony, you're leapin' the tracks a bit with your "soul" concern. The Riddle of Steel does not state, one way or another, anything about souls, and Spiritual Attributes (as written) are strictly metagame concerns, not necessarily reflecting anything in-game at all. I know from previous threads that you have a little trouble with this concept or prefer not to employ it, but at least recognize that you're projecting your own "SAs must represent something in-game" concerns into the issue, and thereby causing yourself trouble that isn't necessarily there already.

I guess I see your point with the "soul" stuff, but I was just trying to understand how an object could be given Spiritual Attributes in the first place.  Wouldn't something with "Drive" or "Passion" have to be sentient and how else do you make an inanimate object sentient?  If this isn't necessary, then does the only thing that has to happen is for the maker of the blade to make it for the express purpose of dispensing justice or killing Gols?

You're also right about SA's giving me problems.  I have come a long way in accepting them from when I first pick-up TRoS, but admit feeling somewhat awkward with them still.
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Tony Hamilton

Salamander
Member

Posts: 450


« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2003, 10:12:58 AM »

Durgil raises an interseting question, exactly how did the item gain its  Powers and SA(s)? That is where the history of the weapon plays a big role. I was all prepared to go on this ramble about the Mace of Sir Crunchum de Mangley and how its past was what gave it its special powers as well as placing the story behind it for the PCs to discover when they research the weapon. Imagine the party finds this article and they begin to percieve it is a magic item. Who would turn up an adventure based on trying to find out what else it can do and its origins?

I don't think the weapon needs to have a soul imprisoned in it, but the essence of a pivotal moment or a moment when greatness is achieved could be absorbed into the article. Or in short, the actions of the owner help define the item.
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"Don't fight your opponent's sword, fight your opponent. For as you fight my sword, I shall fight you. My sword shall be nicked, your body shall be peirced through and I shall have a new sword".
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