Monday, December 19, 2016

Items Part 3: Uniqueness

It's forever in the back of my mind, don't be like 3.5e, don't be like 3.5e. It's an irrational fear, considering I'm writing the damn thing, but hey, there's a lot to like about 3.5. Sure, it's bloated, there's no upper limit, and it is tedious as all hell to make characters and keep track of what they do, but that said, it's highly customizable, there's a lot of 'take it or leave it' mechanics, and there are tons of options. Basically, if you want to play a certain character, 3.5 has something for you. Those are the things I like about it, and since it's what introduced me to pen and paper RPGs it'll always be a strong influence.

So back on topic and back to 3.5 being bloated and without an upper limit. There are tons and tons of examples of this, but I'm going to pick out a big one: magic items. When playtesting the first Northern Realm I sat down with a new group. I was playing Maera, an aelf necromancer well on her way to lichdom. She was mild mannered, but interested in necrotic powers and like most aelfs, history. Now, I started the campaign as I normally would, with the clothes on my back, a ceremonial knife, and no provisions, that's what companions are for. Maera aint no servant, and besides, she doesn't eat too much. My normal playgroup also plays light, carrying a few basic provisions, maybe two weapons, and the clothes on their back.

One of my companions on this adventure seemed to follow this trend (as I think is normal for new players), but the other two were very experienced in tabletop gaming and holy shit were they decked out. One was a pompous aelf noble with a carriage and dozens of servants and another was a witch with creations to carry her things.

Before play, I took a look at their inventory sheet, and holy sheet, they had hundreds of things, HUNDREDS! Poisons, potions, scrolls, even a rolled up mirror. I was blown away, but I learned an important lesson. If you give people the tools, they're going to use them, after all, not everyone's going to want to play the same way as you. So after talking it over we came to the conclusion that if I don't want items to appear all over the Northern Realm then I shouldn't have rules for creating them.
I carry that idea with me wherever I go now. With that said, it didn't strike me until yesterday that not only did I not want them to be common, I wanted enchanted items to be epic- that is, have their own stories. I'd already stated that they were nearly priceless, that they were rare, and yet I had standard enchantments for weapons and armor, like ghost touch, burn, frigid brand, and so on. They were meant to be examples, guidelines if you will, but hell, if I'm going to say these things are unique then I should show it, not tell it. So this newest iteration is meant also as guidelines, but instead of standard enchantments, these are unique, famous items (though many of the abilities are still familiar). Who knows if these weapons are real. It's meant to provide a true guideline to creating your own weapons and also the option of including a piece of history in your campaign. I think it sets a better precedent and a true sense of the item's value.

(As an interesting sidenote, I realized weapons and shields were much easier to name, and found that in history and fiction that was true as well. I discussed this with someone yesterday and I think they hit the nail on the head, armor must be fitted so it's tougher to pick up and use immediately, whereas shields and weapons are good to go right away.)
At any rate, what's in a name- here I'll tell you:

Beacon: This weapon shines as if reflecting the moon. With time, you and the weapon become emotionally connected. Spend an immediate action and 1 Power to create a blinding flash. Creatures facing you and within 50 ft. must make a difficult Intuition resistance check or become blinded for 1 round. Against undead creatures it has a more pronounced effect. Any undead creature within 50 ft. is also burned as if by fire for 1d6 damage.
Death Mark Blade: When you strike a target within this weapon’s critical threat range, the target gains an injury (see the injury table). Creatures that are immune to critical hits are unaffected.
Dreadwand: When unsheathed the wielder must become acclimated to the terrible aura to wield it effectively. Spend an immediate action and 1 Power to become the visage of the most horrible thing imaginable. All living creatures within 50 ft. must make a difficult Will resistance check or become shaken and take a detriment on checks. The effect lasts 2d6 rounds.
Flameheart: The blade of this weapon becomes white hot once unsheathed. Flameheart cannot be touched by friend of foe, or be horribly burnt. It deals an extra 1 point of fire damage on a successful hit.
Frostborne: Enemies struck with this weapon are afflicted with a growing frost. A successful hit deals an extra 1 point of cold damage. For each following hit it deals an additional 1 point of cold damage, which accumulates after each successful strike against the same target (first strike deals +1 cold damage, the second deal +2 and so on).
Istvan’s Bane: This hateful tool excels at harming your fellow man. Against living creatures, it gains a +2 bonus to damage, but against the non-living it doesn’t count as magical for overcoming damage reduction.
Life-Drinker: This weapon leeches the life from living creatures. Successful attacks bestow 1 Life to the wielder. Against non-living creatures, however, it doesn’t even count as magical for overcoming damage reduction.
Mercy: There’s a strange tale about a weapon that cannot kill. A strike from it that drops your target to 0 Life has no chance of accidentally killing it. Once dropped to 0 Life, a merciful weapon will not strike it.
Moxie: This weapon is eager for combat; it nearly jumps into your hand at the first sign of conflict. Any time you would make an Initiative check with the intention of wielding it, roll a d6. You gain a bonus to your Initiative check equal to its result.
Nerung: This weapon allows you to transfer some or all of your attack bonus to AC. Do so as an immediate action. It remains allocated until your next turn when you can again take an immediate action to reallocate the bonus. Only melee weapons can be defending weapons.
Sára’s Light: This weapon gives off an eerie glow. As an immediate action this eerie glow becomes brilliant light and for this one attack it ignores the target’s armor bonuses to AC, as it simply passes through armor. Spend 1 Power to activate this ability.
Seeker: The bolts of this weapon veer towards their target, negating any miss chance granted by spells, proximity, concealment, and cover (but not total cover or concealment).
Spellbrand: It is said this weapon houses a spell, which activates with a designated word. In some stories the designated word is engraved somewhere on the weapon, while in others it is a secret (an Identify spell reveals the type of enchanted weapon, but not the keyword). The wielder need only say the keyword whilst wielding the weapon and the spell is unleashed on its target as if its enchanter had cast it.
The Queen’s Kiss: This enchanted weapon grants the wielder good luck on attacks. You may force a reroll immediately after an attack check. To activate a luck weapon spend 1 Power.
Thunring: This weapon strikes as a clap of thunder. The effect triggers only on a critical hit. The clap of thunder deals an extra 1d6 imploding damage.
Vorpal Sword: A weapon of legend, upon an attack roll of 20, the weapon severs the opponent’s head. This ability does not work against creatures that are immune to critical hits, except vampires and their thralls.
Wind Dancer: In the old stories, this weapon leaps to its owner’s aid. As an immediate action it can be loosed to fight for its owner. It attacks for 1d4 rounds using the attack bonus of its owner. It can attack, make free attacks, and move up to your movement speed per round. Once 1d4 rounds are up, it returns to the one who loosed it. 

What do you think of the names? Got any good ones for me?