Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Magic Items Recovered from the Haldicar Mansion

As a practical matter, I think a lot of magic items handed out in flailsnails and games in general are way too powerful, and more importantly lack any sense of setting.  In the past I haven't been as careful as I should have been, given out a couple of very powerful items including a ghost pistol and a pump action double barreled shotgun.  Yet both these items have serious limitations (shotgun is not magical and can't easily be loaded with anything that will hurt more powerful undead and ghost pistol runs out of bullets for the session on the first fumble),  Other than that I really have been fairly scantly with magic.  That all changed last session I ran, but then, the long term PCs are 5th - 7th level and have been scavenging boring +2 this and that from all over the flailsnailiverse, so I might as well send a few more items that aren't firearms back out.  I am quite happy with the following items as they are evocative and limited in power, without being weak.

A recent expedition into the abandoned and demon Haldicar Manison by several adventurers including Semm the Voice of Lyris, Quartle the Gunmage and Annar the Northman returned with the following items of power.

An ancient 8 foot by 10 foot  painting of a dark woodland scene, showing tumbled ruins half buried in a deep mossy forest, in a heavy dark wood frame.  It's an excellent painting, worth at least 3,500 GP, but it cannot be viewed for long as it is subject to a powerful curse.  The frame of the painting, along with some of the pigments used in its preparation are made from the heart try of a dryad.  Through sinister magic the dryad has been trapped within the painting for many many centuries.  If the painting is cut up or removed from the frame its magic will be lost. 

A close examination of the painting, or touching its frame will instantly effect any creature that fails a Save vs. Spells.  The painting will render its victims unconscious for 1D6 turns during which they will dream of living several months in a dark mossy forest and searching for a beautiful young woman seen flitting amongst the trees, but never finding her.

Upon waking the character will slowly turn to wood (over 1 turn), an effect that is not lethal, but will have the following permanent effects:

Wooden Body: +1 HD and -4 Dexterity, A dexterity of less than three indicates that the character has been permanently immobilized.  Additionally character takes double damage from fire, but is immune to all inhaled poisons and effects as they no longer breath.

These effects cannot be reversed without the approval of the (very spiteful) dryad within the painting.

Five squat yellowish candles, made of the tallow of abyssal fiends, they will act as a magical ward against other creatures from the planes of chaos and entropy.  The candles are half burnt, but when placed at the point of a pentagram of iron filings up to 50' in diameter they will act to prevent demons for crossing the lines of the pentagram (including trapping those summoned within).

The protective pentagram, and candles, will cease to function if the pentagram is disrupted, partially obscured or if the candles are moved.  Until this happens however, the candles will burn without consuming themselves and the ward will remain active.  Once disrupted the candles will almost instantly melt nothingness.

A 6' tall staff of delicately carved whale bone, set with copper bands and flanged decorations.  The carving work on the staff is clearly the majestic, stylized work of Fishmen, but the staff  uses purly elemental magic, unlike most items of their manufacture.

Upon the invocation of the air elementals within the staff it will discharge a lightning bolt, per the spell.  The first lightning bolt will be of 7D6 power, and each one after the first decrease by 1D6.  The staff thus effectively has seven charges.  There is a chance (Save vs. Spells) that if struck by magical lightning the staff will absorb the attack and gain 1D6 of magical power, but in absorbing a power there is an immediate 1 in 10 per 1D6 of  stored energy that it will break releasing all its stored power into the wielder.

A dull, heavy pyramidal dagger of hammered meteoric iron, about a foot long, this weapon is unwieldy, but has special abilities against extra-planar creatures of chaos.  The entire blade is engraved with rust filled sigils that advertise its power, and the weapon should be immediately obvious as useful for magical rituals by any trained sorcerer.

When used in combat against an extra planar creature of chaos, the first strike by the weapon will banish the creature to its home plane unless it Saves vs. Spells.  The creature's power will help prevent this banishment, and for every HD over that of the dagger's wielder it receives a +1 to its saving throw.

A cane suitable for a taller gentleman or lady, its shaft  a rod of battered black iron, cold forged and suitable for pushing varlets off of gangways or gesticulating lewdly at the cabaret.   The head is made of the same black iron, but delicately sculpted into the shape of a fly face, a traditional emblem of the Haldicar family.   The head and first few inches of the cane screw off easily and the body contains the thin blade of a high quality smallsword (1D8).

The weapon bears a powerful enchantment that allows the wielder to fight well in the classic duelist’s style despite a lack of natural ability or training.  Thrusts from the weapon hone in on gaps in armor or the exposed areas of an opponent’s defense almost without effort, usually with fatal results (+3 to hit/damage).  However the weapon is not without drawbacks. The nature of the sword’s enchantment requires that the weapon is used in a “fair fight” for it to be effective.  The wielder must be fighting a single enemy, face to face, with both combatants intent on doing each other harm.   The best way to activate the sword cane’s magic is to call out an opponent, to meet in single combat and to abide by the rules of such combat.  If these strictures are not obeyed (such as in a battle or common melee), the sword cane is inert, a simple but well-made sword without magical enhancement.  In its inert form the weapon will not even strike creatures immune to normal weapons.

A set of four test tubes in a bronze wire rack.  Each of the tubes contains the following substances.

Tube 1 -  Thick blackish liquid that smells of beeswax.  A virulent poison, the slightest taste is death (assuming a failed save vs. poison).  It tastes strongly of honey and burns with an acidic piquancy.

Tube 2 - Clear, oily, with suspended bluish metallic filings and a vague musk odor. This wretched tasting potion is a defective of Animal Transformation, and will transform the imbiber (of the full tube) into a common animal (per the table below).  If a save is made vs. Paralysis the transformation will only be temporary (2D12 turns), but if failed the victim will be trapped in a new animal body until polymorphed back to their original form.  Additionally this potion is so defective, that even with a successful save, the drinker will permanently develop minor cosmetic similarities to the animal they transformed into.

Lap Dog
Amphibious Shark (4HD)
Giant Rat
Turkey Sized Pigeon
Small Monkey
Giant Butterfly (1HD)

Tube 3 - Resembling Mercury and tasting like salt water this Potion of Elemental Protection is a powerful ward against all Elementals and many elemental attacks.  After drinking the imbiber will take 1/2 damage from all fire, frost and lightning attacks for 2D4 turns.  Additionally Elementals of all kinds must save vs. Spells to attack anyone under the potion's influence.

Tube 4 - A test tube full of bubbling green Merrowman Mutagenic Slime. See this table for the random effect of exposure. A save vs. poison simply means that the drinker takes 1D6 HP of damage and writhes around on the ground in pain for 1D4 turns.  A failure requires an additional roll on the linked table.

 In engraved, watertight, copper tubes (worth 100 GP each) the following Magic User spells are written in faded blue ink by a looping cultured hand, each on their own scroll.    Lightning Bolt (Level 3), Shocking Grasp (Level 1), Reincarnation (6th Level) - Use the following Table:

Large (2 HD) Crab
Merrowman Warrior Mutant
Human (Fishman Gifted – as elf)
Gnoll (marked of Yeenoghu)
War Dog (3HD)
Giant Pigeon (5HD)
Flying Monkey
Cerebral Rat
Black Gang Worker (as Dwarf)
Bateezu Tainted
Bateezu Tainted Sorcerer

The following items use forbidden necromantic magic, the penalties for possession of them aboard the HMS Apollyon varies from amputation of the hand, exile at sea.

A small thick book, crudely glued together from seemingly random scraps of paper.  The spells within its woven black eel leather covers are arranged in geometric shapes of letters and words cut from other books. possibly in an effort to avoid any corruption associated with writing out the sinister spells the book contains.

The Book contains three 1st Level Spells, two 2nd Level Spells and three 3rd level incantations
1st - Alter Self, Magic Missile (sickly yellow ray that causes necrosis), Sleep (nightmare inducing)
2nd - Obscuring Fog (Continual Darkness), Detect Lies (last four turns - will not detect untruths or evasions only flat out lies).
3rd - Miasma of Decay (see below), Zombie Ritual (see below)


Miasma of Decay
Level: 3   Components: V, S, M  Range: Centered on Caster  Casting Time: One round   
Duration: 1 turn + 1 round/level  Saving Throw: None    Area of Effect: 10' diameter cloud + 5' per level

The necromancer summons a vile cloud of rot and decay that will age cause anything within it to rot and decay (if it is capable of it).  Any living thing remaining in the cloud for more than one round will begin to rot away as if suffering from leprosy or a similar disease, and take 1D6 points of damage per round they remain in the cloud.  Inanimate organic objects that remain in the cloud will be destroyed the following rate: fresh plants or food (1 round), cloth (3 rounds), leather (5 rounds) light wood (8 rounds) thick wood (15 rounds). Once the cloud is summoned the caster may not effect, dismiss or alter it, and is as easily harmed to its corrosive powers as anyone else.

Zombie Ritual
Level: Components: V, S, M   Range: Touch  Casting Time: 12 turns per zombie  Duration: 2 turns/level 
Saving Throw: Neg. or ½  Area of Effect: 3zombies + 1 per level maximum

Casting this supremely evil ritual reanimates the recently dead as angry, aggressive zombies, fueled by hatred, pain and the purpose of destroying the livingThe six hour ritual to raise each zombie requires valuable incenses and oils, worth approximately 200 GP per zombie raised, it is also immediately obvious to any observing that it is a piece of very dark magic, more sinister even than the normal reanimation of the dead.  It is also dangerous to the caster as for each zombie raised the caster must roll a save vs. spells and suffers a -1 penalty for every zombie over 3 currently under the caster's control.  So aggressively evil are the zombies raised by the ritual that should the caster fail a single spell save, all zombies currently under his control will revolt and attack any living thing they can reach. Zombies raised by this spell, while especially aggressive are otherwise identical to regular zombies.

A plain black robe, of course cloth, embroidered inexpertly with bone beads and arcane symbols (also in black). The robe's chest is torn by four bullet holes from small caliber rifle fire, but can be repaired by a few minutes of patching.

Dire necromancy has been used on the robe to trap the spirit of a drowned fisherman within its weave, and the spirit acts to provide a small amount of protection against missile weapons aimed at the robe's wearer.  The magic is not strong, and without further magical binding and tormenting of the trapped spirit it will only grant its wearer an AC 8.

This thin black wand is amateurishly carved ink rubbed bone. A small silver band is set in the rear, and turned to complete a series of inscribed necromantic runes on the wand that cause it to burp forth a bubble of necrotic corruption.  The bubble will seek out a target it is directed at and strike, burning and rotting that target's flesh, regardless of armor for 1D8 point of damage.  The target receives a save vs. wands, and success means the corrupting energy failed completely to harm the target.

At the end of any battle where the wand is used, its bearer must roll a D6, on a 1 the magic feuling the wand is exhausted and it ceases to function.

Possession of this wand is a crime aboard the Apollyon, the Stewards will likely confiscate all wealth of the offender and send him to the rust gates to scavenge.  The penalties associated with the two items above the wand are far more severe.

One of the most powerful items in the house was missed however, a pair of dueling pistols placed above the mantel upstairs, in a room the party never investigated.  They are likely in the hands of some passenger class parvenu dandy or one of Madam Bibi's gunmen now.

A set of wheel lock dueling pistol with long octagonal barrels, chased in gold.  The weapons are large and finely made, each inflicting 2D4 (exploding) damage per shot, but taking three rounds to reload. The guns are nestled in an inlaid bone case, on soft blue velvet, with matching powder horns, a bullet mold, and thirty bullets.  Fifteen of these bullets are normal lead balls, ten silver and five are made of the magical amber like shell of a lesser kraken.  The kraken shell bullets will not fit another pistol, and cannot be re shaped, but if they strike they will damage magical creatures and shatter into fragments dealing 4D4 (exploding) damage.

In addition to the bullets the pistols are magical with a +1 enchantment to hit any target. The pistols are also evil and seek to destroy any good aligned creature or person they are drawn on.  They will fire at good aligned creatures if drawn, but do so with a +3 to hit. In addition after killing a good aligned creature with the pistols the gunmen will be healed for up to 1/2 his victim's maximum hit points.


  1. I really enjoy your blog - I can dig the gonzo. This is some very inspirational stuff. Thanx

    1. Glad you like it - this stuff, and the Apollyon stuff in general is far less gonzo than the rest of it, but it's definitely odd and post-apocalyptic.

  2. Pretty much, if one has played elves and dwarves and such long enough, it gets old. Gonzo pretty much revitalizes RPGs in general. Gonzo doesn't have to necessarily mean 'goofy' - and I think your ideas prove it. Also, a way to homogenize a setting with such diversity is to start from the Big Names and build the world downwards. Start with the main characters in the world, name stuff after them (spells, weapons, etc.) and let it roll. Kind of like mass-marketing - name association is powerful.
    Another way to deal with potentially giving out magic items that are too powerful is putting subtle conditions on them. A weapon +4 vs. lycanthropes is powerful, but what if it only works during a full moon? A wand of fireballs is powerful, but what if it gives the user -2 saves vs. cold-based attacks for the next three days after using it? That's what I'm saying...