Thursday, February 16, 2017

In the City at Night - Trade your Dreams for Tawdry Fashion

Pennington -Year One
The Capital is eternal, possessing the hubris of something that is, and it's 2,800 year history of continuous metropolitan occupation gives it some claim to being the largest, longest continuously occupied human city in the world, unless some poor bastards still cling to something akin to life in the blasted cities of the Imperial Heart Provinces. Still discounting bone singers, the Capital was a bustling city of high industry when the Papacy of the Red Sun's was truly the scattering of nomadic cattle raiding tribes that Imperial propaganda still paints it as.  Only Far Vehisu claims a longer history, and far Vehisu also claims to have been founded a thousand years in the future.

With great age, comes a deep, wide detritus of knowledge and a deeper one of trash. Much of the Capital's trash is magic, and some is still useful.  Below is a 2D20 table of magic items that may be found in the Capital.  The items shown are varied, but tends towards the less martial and more esoteric functions as conflict in the Capital is just as often whispered intimations in a dusty salon as it is knives under a canal bridge.

Magical Treasures of the Great Urban Stews
Witch Light - A brass lantern with various cutouts casting scenes from the lives of the Emperors that can be toggled by turning a dial atop the device.  The light radiates from a crystal tube of celestial ichor that will last another century or five.  Magical Light, 30’ for up to 4.
1 encumbrance/ durable
Silent Brotherhood Star - Medals from the Succession war against the Demon Emperor are rare now, but this one, a heavy silver cross with a carved black bone lozenge at the center contains a fragment of arch-demon bone enchanted to provide protection from much evil, and granting a -1 to all outsider creatures hit chance against the wearer.
No encumbrance/ durable
Dueling Cane - A gentleman’s dueling cane of the last epoch is a dangerous ornately carved (often with harmless animals such as rabbits) flexible hexed weapon of ensorcelled bonewhite designed for breaking bones [finesse] +1 hit/damage vs. any target in light or no armor.
1 encumbrance/ durable
Chromed Figure - A novelty figure of an idealized stripling.  If placed in a bowl or tumbler of alcohol the figure will begin to dance and twirl, it movements projected up to 50’ away by careful arrangement of the glass, and appear to any watching as their romantic ideal.  The figure can be active for up to an hour a day.
No encumbrance/ durable
Tomb Robber’s Mask - A stylized skull mask of grey alchemically treated stone with lens of red crystal.  While it clouds vision preventing ranged attack, it allows the wearer to spot magical auras with a simple check of 2d6 vs. Wisdom.  The Tomb Robbers’ Guild would like it back.
1 encumbrance/ durable
Eternal Rat - A sleek rodent typical of the city breed with a blue black coat.  Only its eyes are strange, shining with green fire.  The rat is a normal rat of a rather mean temperament but is entirely immune to normal injuries, disease or time, having been exposed to some strange concoction of magical esters.
N/A/1 HP, AC 13
Boatman’s Cape - A mat of woven reeds, impregnated with special tars and saps from magical sinks known only to the ferrymen of the grand canals, this cape offers excellent protection (½ damage reduction or full immunity on a Save v. Breath) against acid and similar corrosive substances.
1 encumbrance/ flammable
Guard Thrall’s Collar - Studded inside and out this cruel band of gleaming black demon bone can be locked around the neck of anyone up to 8’ tall and will drive them into a frenzy as the fel magic within lacerates the soul.  The matching rod that allowed control is long gone, but the collar still works - causing the wearer to launch a melee attack at any within 30’ and gain +2 to hit and damage for a loss of 2 points of AC.  To avoid attacking the victim may Save vs. Spells once a round.
No encumbrance/ durable
Savant’s Doll - A large, lifelike doll formed of bundled pages torn from ancient tomes.  And sealed with library wax.  The Doll can accept one spell of up to level 3 and cast it independent of the wizard donating it on certain conditions.  It follows instructions up to one sentence but is not otherwise animate.
3 encumbrance/ flammable
Breeding Silver - An ancient coin of bright silver with the face of a high Imperial Emperor worn to indistinguishability.  If placed within a small bag with another silver coin it will breed in the night, producing 1D6/2x10 ‘offspring’ with a total value of 10-30 SP.  These phantom coins will disappear in 3 days if separated from their parent, but the silver will  only breed when all of its children have been spent.
No encumbrance/ durable
Bone Carillions - Within a patinaed copper box a bone drum and a set of teeth will play as long as a living person turns the bone crank on the box’s side.  The  jangling disconcerting tune causes the dead within hearing (60’) to rise up and dance.  Undead of 1 or 2 HD are also affected, but can Save vs. Spell to break the compulsion to dance each round.  
1 encumbrance/ fragile
Black Arrow - Dipped into the waters of the Black Gulf the head and upper shaft of this delicate arrow are coating in a glittering black crystalline tar.  When any creature with a soul is struck by this hexed arrow it must Save v. Paralysis or die, its soul devoured by a tarry 4HD wraith that will burst from the victim’s chest in 1d6 rounds and begin feed on any nearby.
No encumbrance/ durable
Stone Pets - An embroidered bag of brightly colored polished stones that have been crudely enchanted with the mental level of mice.  If released they will roll about the floor amusingly for several turns before retiring to their bag to rest until tomorrow.
1 encumbrance/ durable
Arena Royalty’s Mask - The helmet of a former gladiatorial champion imbued with power to make displays of terrifying and impressive intimidation. The mask, usually an animal or idealized youth and often set in a helm, allows the wearer to spend a round making echoing boasts or threats.  On a successful 4D6 check against CHR the wearer may cause fear in creatures of lower HD than her who comprehend threats and boasts.
1 encumbrance/ durable
Hellbroth - Cheap tins of Hellbroth, cooked down from the magic in owlbear bones, the desires of evil men and children's’ tears by canal hags and bathtub alchemists, have been a staple of Demes thugs for years. A draught of Hellbroth will fill the drinker with vigor and the ability shrug off injury, providing an additional die of hit points for the next 2D6 turns.
1 encumbrance/ fragile
Masquerade Tiara - Spindles and ropes of glittering red gem, silver beads and cast pink spell amber make a sophisticate’s party decoration and produce a charm that renders the wearer instantly forgettable.  Viewers will simply register that they are in the presence of a mysterious stranger, but will not recognize the wearer even from previous meetings.  The tiara of course is quite memorable.
1 encumbrance/ fragile
Hoop of Iron - Large, rusted, battered very rare and very old, the interior of this barrel hoop is engraved with scarred sigils in silver and black alchemical amber.  Anything passing through the hoop enters a barrel sized (5 encumbrance) magical space.  Removing objects from the space requires a full round and a successful 3D6 v. Dexterity check to find the item in the unpleasantly greasy feeling non-world within. The space will vomit back living things within 1 round.
2 encumbrance/ durable
Gladiator’s Blood - A thriving trade continues in this aphrodisiac elixir, the blood of victorious gladiators refined and distilled with common arcane fluids that in addition to providing several hours of uncomfortable arousal grants some of the gladiator’s prowess, an Attack Bonus of +3 and +1 to damage.
1 encumbrance/fragile
Alchemical Bandage - A tin marked with a the badge of the Imperial legions, this was once a common item in military stores, a long linen bandage laced with sealants, drugs and magical unguents. When applied to a wound (takes 1 round) it will immediately start healing injuries at a rate of 1 HP per round until it has healed 2d6 hit points. It cannot be reused.
1 encumbrance/ flammable
Blood Chalice - Cults, it’s always cults in the city, and so many of them are focused around drinking blood from objects just like this gold and gem encrusted goblet.  If the goblet is filled with 2HP of fresh human blood it allows anyone who drinks it down to contact some kind of lesser demonic intelligence and compel it to answer 1 yes or no question with reasonable accuracy.  It can only be used once per session.
1 encumbrance/durable
The 19th symphony of Hedrick Bayteeth - A ream sized chunk of chewed looking paper containing a symphonic work of genius.  Many copies of this fabled text have been made and there is a 99 out of 100 percent chance that this copy is also a bad one, missing key phrases or otherwise marred.  The original, if played in full will summon a world ending conflict of Celestial and Demonic forces, pulling thrones from the sky and demesnes up through the earth. Even a marred version will summon a demonic or celestial agent/lord/minion if played in full by a 80 piece symphony.  The casting takes many hours.
2 encumbrance/ flammable
Corpse Torch - Another ingenious magical trick perfected by the Tomb Robber’s Guild this polished brass torch burns as a normal torches but both replenishes itself when touched to an inanimate body, and almost instantly turns inanimate human corpses into ash, leaving unharmed any metallic items nearby.  It also instantly enrages undead.
1 encumbrance/ durable
Glass Bees - A handful of carefully engraved beads made from various shades of alchemical amber.  If thrown into the air they will hover and light up, providing 20’ radius light for 1 person.  The bees can be directed with hand movements, travelling up to 120’ from their owner at a fast (6) speed.  The bees will run out of energy and clatter to the ground after one light exhaustion result on the encounter, but may be recharged after a day in a resting in a bowl of blood and milk.
No encumbrance/ durable
Drain Cleaner - Within a scroll triple sealed by the shrine of the 27th Emperor (Saint of hygiene and infrastructure) is an oddly phrased incantation that cannot be translated into contemporary magic, but if cast will produce a wave of howling fiery force that travels for 100’ down any tube or corridor no wider than 10’. All caught in the advancing blast must save vs. spells or take 4D6 disintegration damage.
1 encumbrance/ flammable
Ghost Scourge - a many tailed whip of thin silver thongs [silver, entangling, light], each woven around sutras to various Saint Emperors and designed to chastise the incorporeal undead.  The crack of the scourge will act as a turning attempt of a first level cleric, and in addition to doing light damage the weapon will cause undead of 1HD or less to make a morale check at - 4 with each successful strike.
1 encumbrance/ durable
Aetheric Mail - A dandy or a duelist's armor, the delicate capelet of golden chain, mirrored disks and exotic fur or silk will break apart to form a whirling protective mandala around the wearer when commanded.  The screen is AC 13 and no considered armor for the purpose of proficiency.
1 encumbrance/ durable
Riotous Sermon - A copy of an ensorcelled sermon by a heretic priest of the 197th Emperor (who renounced the throne shortly after being murder by his own mother).  If read aloud by an Imperial Priest  it will cause all 0 level humans (or near humans) within 100’ feet to become agitated and destructive, seeking to smash and topple authority figures.  After inciting a violent riot the sermon crumbles to dust.
1 encumbrance/ flammable
Girdle of Teeth - A belt made entirely of children’s teeth and enchanted by the most advanced forms of hedge magic.  While worn this belt reduces damage from any bite attack by 4 points per die, but if a bite does maximum damage the wearer must save vs. paralysis or the belt is devoured by the attacker.
1 encumbrance/ durable
Man Killer - A short rod of corroded bronze, traditionally cold hammered from a fragment of ancient statue, these items have long been a favorite of thugs and insurrectionists, and the art of their manufacture has been lovingly passed down for a thousand years by thrall revengists and in samizdat tracts.  The fist of one gripping a Man Killer do damage as normal weapons [1D6 - close], regardless of training.  
1 encumbrance/ durable
Siege Flask - A ten thousand armories have been built in the walls of the capital over the eons for the siege that never comes, and nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety have been looted.  Void shells, vortex spheres, inferno callers, plague rusts and lightning canisters abound, though it takes a certain kind of alchemical historian and genius to transform them to personal use.  This object, coated in wax, wrapped in burlap, decorate with folk charms, can be set to explode, after a 1D6/2 round delay.  The 30’ radius blast will kill any human sized target that fails a save vs. spells and do 2D6 damage to those who do (unless someone saving rolls a 20 - then it’s a dud).
1 encumbrance/ fragile - will activate if damaged by flame, impact or magical attack on anyone carrying the device.
Dead God - Fetishes of forgotten gods hold power, and this one was one the creator of the world to some simple conquered people, or served some other role in a forgotten, worthless pantheon.  A cleric who burns the Dead God gains +4 to their net Clerical casting roll.  Others who speak to it will get useless, but earnestly offered legends and stories from the past.
1 encumbrance/ durable
Gentleman’s Button - A decorated button or fob that once per session will teleport its owner 100’ away (or as close as possible in the nearest open area, in the direction of the Capital’s center) when the owner is subject to a melee attack.  An anti-mugging device of an older age.
No encumbrance/ durable
Worry Stone - The white glassy knee bone of a lesser Celestial, smooth and gleaming, imperishable and capable of granting a person who holds it in their hand immunity from sleep, charm and mind affecting magic.  Having it on one's person only grants a +2 to saving throws against charms.
No encumbrance/ durable
Paper Cutouts - Enchanted slips of paper that momentarily transform into real versions of the things they depict were a favorite hobby of the junior magus at Imperial Library before it burned generations ago.  The art remains and Cutouts can still occasionally be found. 1D6/2 Cutouts per stash (1d6) 1 - 2 person boat, 2 - fountain, 3 - 10’ stairway , 4 - wheel of cheese  5 - dagger  6 - bag of 1,000 coins.  Each will last a 1D6 rounds (1-6 minutes) before turning back into paper and melting.
No encumbrance/ flammable
Consulti Crown - Somewhat bedraggled, the elaborate feathered and beaded headpiece of a mid-ranking Consulti (a hired judge) from the Legalist period. When a person wears the crown anyone else within 10’ must Save vs. Spells to speak.
1 encumbrance/fragile
Trick Goblet - Fancifully glazed and decorated with dancing pot bellied demons, this clay goblet will turn any water based liquid (wine, spirits, swamp slime) into clear fresh water unless the correct decorations are pressed as it is filled. Hilarious at bacchanals.
1 encumbrance/fragile
Pervert’s Doll - A painted porecelien doll’s head, nearly life-size and usually with attractive features.  If the head is placed atop a lifeless headless corpse it will animate it, for up to one day per corpse, and it can take simple instructions from anyone who commands it.  The zombie has an AC of 9 and 8HP but is terribly clumsy and awkward, fighting at -4 to hit.
1 encumbrance/ fragile
Executioner's Sword - A hexed two-handed cleaver [heavy, overpowering] cast as a single piece of golden alchemical steel covered in grim decoration, the blade of an Imperial Carnifex must never be cleaned and this one is caked with ancient gore, even if it is no longer a symbol of justice.  When touched to the skull of the dead the dead speak a single sentence revealing their greatest crime.
1 encumbrance/ durable
Illusory Pet - A small statuette made of carved bone white, brightly dyed and in the form of an animal: a tiger, a bear, a swan or something similar.  When the animal’s name (carved on the bottom of the figure) is spoken a ghostly illusion of it will appear, bright and cartoonish, and accept commands from the user.  It doesn’t make an especially convincing attacker and all of its movements are clumsy, foolish and cute.  The illusion can be active for 1 turn before resting for 12 turns.
1 encumbrance/ durable


  1. One or two of the weapons are tagged with the word "hexed" in bold - what does that mean rules-wise? (Do you have a post explaining it? If so, could you point me to it? Thanks!)

    1. The way I tend to deal with weapons is by using a D6 base and then having additive effects or conditions. 'Hexed' specifically refers a type of low level magic weapon that can damage outsider entities (In fallen empire that's celestials and demons)who are immune to normal weapons but not necessarily undead. "Sliver" weapons are the reverse, doing damage to most weapon immune undead, but ineffective against outsiders. "Magic" weapons can damage everything of course.

      Other modifiers such as "Heavy" and "Overpowering" "finesse" or "Crushing" have more direct combat effects - such as doing d6 with advantage damage and requiring 2 hands, cleaving after a kill, trading defense and offense without penalty and penetrating armor. The HMS Apollyon combat rules PDF covers it mostly.

    2. Ah, cool - I gathered that it was a weapon modifier, but the contrast between hexed and silver makes a lot of sense. Thanks!

  2. Ever considered putting all "In the City at Night" materials together in a single PDF? Would make for some pretty engrossing and useful material.

    1. Considered? Sure. It's unlikely to happen however.