Saturday, December 6, 2014

Starting Minor Magical Items For Darkly Haunted Noble Characters


A List of unique starting magical items for noble characters in my (admittedly underdeveloped) Fallen Empire setting.  Alternatively I suppose these are the minor items one finds in the crumbled ruins of decadent high-magic mansion, where thousands of years of ease and glory have given way to rot and rodents.

Your house has fallen, not once, not even twice, but like a tottering drunk, tumbling endlessly, colliding with fixed obstacles, cowering from imagined enemies and unprepared to face tomorrow.  Why do you alone see it? Your elders, the family head, the old retainers, the children, and even your peers are blind, wrapped up in false glories and an imagined past. While they sit in dark worm eaten parlors, clutching the greasy and threadbare arms of their patched tapestried thrones and waiting for the Empire’s return to fortune, you have calmly laid out the need for change.  Over meals of what were once decorative carp but are now your rubbery repast carved up on golden plates, you have shouted and raved for action.  In the mossy dripping blackness of the overgrown topiary garden you’ve intrigued and schemed.   

Your efforts have come to naught, your warnings, your rumor mongering, your pleas and prayers cannot move the fixed inertia of a Millennium's propriety and tradition.  Now there is only flight, clutching poorly prepared supplies and rushing for the unknown world beyond the mansions and spires.

Note the illustration are from a 1940's edition of Wuthering Heights (If the swarthy gentleman digging up a grave marked Catherine didn't clue you in.)

Patrimony Torn from the Clutching Talons of Time and Neglect.
Jewel Moth Robe – Carefully stitched from the trans-planar wings of the Jeweled Moth, this robe appears to be an ornate and somewhat garish costume of some forgotten epoch, the robe is still impressive and more importantly (while originally favored for its ability to shed grime) the moth wings provide protection equivalent to medium armor (AC 15).
Distilled Chanteuse – Within this decorative green glass bottle is the distilled essence of a once popular singer. If the thick bluish syrup within is poured out onto any surface her apparition will form from its sweet smelling fumes.  The ghostly figure will  loudly sing and sway for one turn per dose used (there are five doses in the bottle) it has no extrinsic magical effects but is quite an astonishing distraction.
Dueling Cane – Elaborately carved bonewhite cane specifically designed for the pugnacious gentleman.  The cane is an effective blunt weapon, dense and flexible, capable of cracking skulls, and rupturing organs with a firm hit.  The cane is also extraordinary light and agile, being a Finesse Weapon (like a sword) that grants a +1 to hit).
Butler’s Fork – A short bonewhite rod with a ‘U’ shaped head, inlaid with a web of golden sigils. When rapped against a mundane lock the fork will vibrate and produce a loud belling tone.  The lock also has a 3 in 6 chance of unlocking the door. On a roll of  ‘6’ rod will continue to vibrate for another day or two, rendering n it useless for the remainder of the session.
House Sword – Gaudy in the extreme -covered in gold, gems and brightly glowing alchemical lacquers, having a champion display one of these giant two-handed swords at formal events was once the height of propriety.  Originally for show, House Swords are effective enough weapons, but generally not meant for defense.  The interior of the swords’ oversized hollow blades is often filled with superdense magical fluid that lends inertia to blows but makes the weapons unwieldy. Attacks with this weapon do an additional +2 damage, but give a -1 to AC).
Healthful Wand – A thin wand of decoratively worked bonewhite, covered in tiny vanes and filigree.  When dipped into a liquid it will turn purple if the substance is poisonous or magical.  
Fanged Idol – A squat idol of green brass worked with vile designs and notable for a mouth of razor sharp teeth.  Once the god of a savage tribe, long ago conquered by the Empire in its own days of glory, this idol is a potent artifact allowing an arcane caster to recall a previously memorized but recently cast spell for the sacrifice of 1D6/2 HP per spell level in their own blood.
Masquerade Helmet  - A high crested helmet with of ornate and ancient lines, made of silver and gold filigree wrapped around a surprisingly functional bonewhite core.  In addition to providing the benefits of a helmet (1/2 damage from falling or fallen objects) the Masquerade Helmet has a snug bonewhite faceplate that can shift and reform to magically model the face of any human or humanoid subject the wearer has seen in the past day and copy it in a lifelike manner.  There is a 5 in 6 chance that a normal viewer will mistake this face for the modeled individual, though body type, and the absurd gilded helmet may give away the impersonator rather easily.
Simian Automaton – An amusing metallic monkey with the necromantically preserved and conditioned brain of a serf or criminal in the glass dome of its skull.  The ape will respond to simple instructions, and is entirely fearless. However it is strictly governed not to attack any living thing, and if asked to do anything other then domestic tasks, japing or tumbling will have a only a 4 in 6 chance of understanding the order. Automaton – AC 12, HD ½ HP 4, Atk 1, MV 40’ ML 12 SV F0.
Vestarche’s Crest – Forged into jagged and unnatural lines from a heavy ingot of bluish metal, pitted by the crude process that made it this crest was the a badge of office for an inviolate imperial messenger.  While living people no longer remember it’s import, the outsiders shackled to war by the empire will honor this sigil, and the holder (though not her companions) is protected from harm by Imperial automatons, angels or demons.
Remonstrator – An elegant wand of blackened pewter, meant as a dainty toy for gentlemen, Remonstrators were once a popular means for the Imperial nobility to inflict petty cruelties on their servants and the populace without physical effort.  The wand can shoot a lash of ugly red magic at a single target every round.  Targets must roll a save vs. wands or suffer 1d6/2 points of damage as the red welts of a cruel beating appear on their body.  Old and somewhat unreliable, should a target save with a natural 20 the remonstrator will cease to function for the remainder of the game session.
Ring of Hate – An iron ring popular during the 42nd Dictatorship, a time of brutal repressive violence and military pomp.  The ring gives a +2 to all saves vs. mind altering magic, paralysis and charm.  I also drains compassion, humanity and humor, reducing CHR to 5 while worn.
True Liturgy – Written in inks ground from the burnt bones of saints, gilded and ornate, this copy of an outdated and strange religious text for the Imperial cult was touch by one of the ancient Emperor’s himself.  If displayed to priests of the Emperor or their monstrous agents, they will flee from it as if they were undead and the Liturgy was a 2nd level Cleric making a turning attempt.
Uhlan’s Armor – An Imperial cavalry rider’s suit of heavy armor. A Gleaming Bonewhite Breastplate, pauldrons, gorget and high helm, with the limbs covered in bright patterned alchemical fabric laminating discs of bonewhite armor.  The suit is enormously protective, and highly resistant to damage (AC 18, 1 point of damage reduction), but also enormously heavy and cumbersome (wearer acts last each round) to anyone who lacks the magically infused strength of an Imperial Knight (STR 19 or better) or is mounted on a heavy warhorse.
Sack of Coinage – Dispensing with odd family relics or dust shrouded mysteries, you simply gathered up a moderately sized satchel of gold, silver, platinum and ruby coins.  I satchel contains the equivalent of 2,500 GP – live large.
Seraphim’s Pinion – The translucent crystalline feather of a great archangel, set into a polished silver metal pole.   The feather is razor sharp and makes a very effective spear.  It isn’t more effective than a metal spear, but looks impressive a will strike magical, immaterial and ethereal creatures immune to normal weapons.
Revivifying Tipple – A gilded hipflask contains five slugs of fortifying tonic.  Each drink will rapidly heal 1D6/2 HP of injury or cure exhaustion, but will also intoxicate the drinker.  The effect creates a -1 to all rolls per dose until the drinker sleeps it off over several hours.
Parfum d’Maudlum- A distinctive black hexagonal bottle contains this once well-known magical eau de parfum which produces both a scent and emotional response.  Parfum d’ Maudlum was meant to give its wearer an aura of ineffable and mysterious sadness, and it does if used in appropriate quantities.  However, spilled on the ground or applied to a person in a large does (up to 3 per bottle) the perfume fills the air with a cloying scent like fresh rain, cedar loam and the saddle leather of the horse that carrying the news of a lovers death.  The vile scent also produces a powerful emotional resonance.  Any sentient creature capable of feeling sadness (including the wearer) must Save vs. Spells or burst into inconsolable weeping (a -4 on all rolls)  until they either leave the 20’ x 20’ area of the perfume or it evaporates in 1D6 turns.  
Porcelain Steed – Standing tall, with a glazed hide of glistening white ceramic, Porcelain Steeds were once a common mount for gentlemen about town.  Tireless, loyal, and very docile the steed needs to be fed only 1 HP of blood a day to keep its energy up.  Identical in speed and carrying capacity as a normal palfrey, the porcelain horse is entirely docile and pliable and will not balk at any command from its rider.  Porcelain horses are incapable of attack however, and due to their hollow ceramic nature and magical animation less durable in combat then their living counterparts.  Porcelain Horse – AC 11, HP 10, HD ½, ATK 0,  MV90’  ML 12,  SV F0
Magister’s Snuff Box – Like a gourd of finally carved cinnabar this snuff box is both a handsome novelty and enchanted with a powerful narcotic spell.  A single deep inhalation of the tiny gold motes that bubble up from its perforated top will produce sublime intoxication for 1D6/2 turns, rendering the user sluggish and euphoric (-1 to any physical rolls, always acts last on initiative).  

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