Thursday, September 29, 2016

Items Without Charges Part 1

3.5e gets a lot of flack for its complexity and lack of balance. A lot of it has to do with its sheer size, but also just the immensity of choices a character has for building and playing is overwhelming too. To take care of this, my playgroup had always stayed at level 3-6. One other thing we did was come up with our own rules for items.

For Northern Realm, classes range from 1-10. This is in large part to keep a handle on balance. I also carried over our homebrewed rules for items, now the only thing left is to come up with a list of items to serve as examples for GMs and to make it more immersive for players, giving them the opportunity to take part in Rhen's history.

Here's what I have so far:

Magic items are scattered throughout the realm. Most are lost to time, stumbled upon by intrepid adventurers in the horde of a troll, or vault of a deceased old wizard, on the corpse of a knight, or long hidden beneath the underbrush, these magical items can be rings, mirrors, weapons, armor, scrolls, staves, and sometimes specific items, valued by the enchanter or simply loved or hated so much that over time the emotional connection to the object resulted in it becoming enchanted. Some magic items even develop a personality and on rare occasions develop the ability to express it.

There are 7 basic kinds of magic items; they are armor, weapons, potions, scrolls, staves, rings, and objects. Each of the basic types can be created naturally over time. These kinds of items, especially those that were initially enchanted and then left alone for hundreds of years, tend to be the most powerful. Magic items can also be crafted. Creating magic items requires extensive knowledge of spell lore and craft. Less complex items such as potions and scrolls require the Brew Potion and Scribe Scroll feat.

Armor: Armor includes suits of armor and shields. Magic armor is enchanted with special abilities that manifest in a number of ways. Special abilities are assigned equivalent enhancement values (each power is considered equal to a certain enhancement value, see below). This combined value may not exceed 5.

Objects: Objects include magic jewelry, tools, books, clothing, and more. They range from strikingly powerful to subtle. Enchanted objects tend to either affect your ability score, or produce a spell-like effect, but they are not limited to it. The following are examples of enchanted objects:

Bréost: A gem that stores a spell. A spellcaster may cast a spell into the gem and choose either a trigger that automatically sets off the spell or a trigger word that the spellcaster may speak in order to activate it.

Ealdgyd’s Spinning Wheel:
This fantastic spinning wheel turns spun flax into silk.

Ealhstan’s Fantastic Moving Portraits:
These portraits are the recorded scenes of the great noble families during the time of the reign of King Godric of Storgeard. The portraits play out scenes whenever light is cast upon them.

Many-Colored Cloak:
The Many-Colored Cloak of the Khoro aids performers in disappearing and appearing in wild flourishes of movement. Once donning a Many-Colored Cloak, you may move at full speed while utilizing the Stealth skill without incurring a penalty.

Potions: A potion is a liquid purposefully mixed and endowed with a spell-like effect that only affects the drinker. There are some exceptions in regard to spells imprinted onto a potion, as some ingredients when combined produce a magical effect. A potion must be no less than 3 ounces and no more than 1 pint of liquid, however only one spell can be used to enchant the liquid (otherwise the potion fizzles, melts the vial, explodes, or produces a similar effect). Only spells with the touch and personal descriptor can become a potion. The entire potion must be consumed otherwise only a fraction of the effect (usually in terms of the duration of the spell) is imparted on the drinker.

Rings: Rings are powerful magic items. They are some of the rarest things in the world. Rings are a circular metal band worn on the finger with a passive spell-like power. The following is an example of an enchanted ring:

Ring of Discretion: A ring that aids you in slipping from notice. Those in the vicinity may use only ½ their skill modifier on Perception checks to notice you. Only when you are speaking (or garnering attention) is this effect suppressed. Non-alert characters automatically do not notice you.

Scrolls:  A scroll is a spell magically inscribed on parchment, so that it can be used later. The scroll may be used only once. Once the spell is cast, the words remain, but no longer contain any power. To cast the scribed spell you must be able to read it and spend a full round casting it. If the spell is not of the same magic type as your spells known you cannot cast it. If the spell is higher than your known spell level you lose 1d6 Life casting it. Conversely, creating a scroll requires knowing the spell you intend to scribe, 1 hour per spell level, and spending Power equivalent to its spell level.

Staves: A staff is an incredibly powerful magic item. It can be stored with up to 4 Power and as many sorcery spells as the Intellect modifier of its maker. If you use a staff as a weapon, treat it as a magical quarterstaff. To use a staff you must know its name and you must be able to cast sorcery spells. Spells stored within a staff are cantrips. You may only use the Power within the staff to cast the spells it holds. Once all staff is sapped of Power it regains 1 Power each day.

Wands: Wands are exceedingly rare. A wand bears no power in and of itself. Instead, magic is channeled through it. It can have any shape; a stick, shaft of wood, figurine, and so on. Wands have 3 basic types, one that adds, one that changes, and one that produces. All types of wands only activate if a spell is cast into them.

A wand that adds to a spell, adds some effect without changing what the spell does. For example, Behelen is a wand that turns any visual aspect of a spell invisible.

A wand that changes a spell will change only certain spells, and only one aspect of it. For example, Frore is a wand that changes the damage-type of a damaging spell, such as a Fireball to cold damage. Creatures reduced to 0 Life with this wand, become frozen and perish.

A wand that produces an effect is powered by expending energy equal to a certain spell level (using up a spell of that spell slot without producing its effect, like a counterspell). For example, Aelan is a wand that produces destructive white fire. When you cast a spell expending 3 or more Power, target creature or object within 30 ft. bursts into flames dealing 1d6 damage per Power. Targets reduced to 0 Life are rendered to ash. 

Weapons: Magic weapons are enchanted with special abilities that manifest in a number of ways. Special abilities are assigned equivalent enhancement values (each power is considered equal to a certain enhancement value, see below). This combined value may not exceed 5.


  1. Interesting, I like the structure of the items. Look forward to learning more.

    The spinning wheel is perfect.

    1. Thanks! I began compiling a list of items to draw from in the second post about items that I'd really like to get back to, but just haven't been in the right head space. Will be making a concerted effort as my playgroup and I continue our current campaign/playtest. It will also give me the chance to see how the magic plays out.