This is a totally non-Zu post. Last year, I've been running my Lloegyr campaign, presently on hiatus, for several months. It's essentially a Faux Dark Ages Britain settting with no particular emphasis on historical accuracy - so that the cool Roman-equivalents can still be there while the cool Norse-equivalents have already arrived. I thought it might be fun to go through my notes and make a list of some of the various magic items I've introduced into the game (though not all of them were acquired by the party). As always, feel free to steal any of them for your own games.
- The broken spear of Carnaic Anroc. Carnaic Anroc was a Cymirog warchief of old who has led his people against the invading Saax foreigners. His weapons and armour were placed to rest with him in his tomb. The wooden haft of his spear has rotted away and broke, but the if the bronze spearhead were fitted to a new one, it would count as a +1 weapon against all non-native people of Lloegyr.
- Carnaic Anroc's bow & arrows. They're broken and rotted, but the arrowheads could be fitted to new shafts and gain a +1 bonus against good people. Carnaic Anroc, while certainly a patriot, was not exactly a nice person and some of his soul has rubbed off onto his weapons.
The (magical) treasure of the those who formerly disturbed Carnaic Anrog's tomb:
- Pearl-inlaid shortsword. Allows uninhibited movement in water.
- An ebony box with a single white lotus flower inside. Consuming the lotus completely heals, cures and reinvigorates the eater.
- Black spear. Does triple damage on its next critical hit, but then loses all magic.
The party has found all these items, but failed to acquire their previous owners', now ghosts trapped in the tomb, permission to take them. As a result, they - and all the nonmagical loot from the same place - turned to rust and rot as soon as they stepped out into the daylight. Shortly before that, the black spear was used to impale the undead form of Carnaic's former wife - buried with him and now a vengeful undead witch -, and she fell into a cistern seething with evil black... stuff. I've been rather stingy with magical gear up to this point, so the following ensued:
DM: And, shrieking in pain, the witch topples the black mass.
* Cheers go up around the table.*
Player: Wait... Fuck, the spear was still in her! I jump after it.
DM: You jump into the seething black mass of evil magical slime?
Player: Hell, yeah, it was a magic item!
Rolls were made, and he actually managed to retrieve the spear and climb back out without taking too much damage from the acidic material. Only to lose the spear to sunlight in about five minutes. I almost felt sorry for my players.
Windwail Crystal. When moved - or something is moving near it -, this fist-sized uncut crystal makes a windlike-sound with a volume proportionate to the intensity of movement. Some cavemen have put it into the mouth of a primitive statue depicting a two-headed dog to act as a warning system when passersby approach.
Metal Mask. A brownish-red metal plate with a rectangular face carved into it and the eyeholes cut out. When held in front of one's face, one would see supernatural creatures for what they are, but it doesn't work in daylight.
Red Paint of the Cave Woman Witch. This paint, when applied to a specific, extremely heavy object determined by the paint's creator (in this case, a large boulder blocking a passage) will make that object light enough to easily move until the paint dries.
Magical stalagtites. These formed in a cave chamber of varied speleothems affected by magic. A few of the stalagtites have foot-long, perfectly spiral ends, which, when broken off, function as magical daggers. They offer no bonuses and shatter on the first hit, but deliver a slow poison that reduce the victim's maximum HP and one random ability by 1d4 points each day.
"Lead" spears. A set of five spears made of some extremely heavy, lead-like material (including the shaft). They count as magical weapons for the purpose of overcoming magical resistance, but suffer a -2 penalty to attack rolls because of their weight.
Pile of green coins. Very beautifully minted, but of unidentifiable origins. When a single coin is separated from the pile and dropped, it will act randomly:
- Roll away in a random direction, even upslope.
- Roll towards the most powerful creature in the general area.
- Fall up to the ceiling and roll along it as if gravity was reversed. In the open, fly up into the sky and disappear forever.
- Roll along in a tight circular path, then roll to whatever location its owner specifies.
???? - This immaterial black thing lies in a chest in a small shrine built by strange ophidian creatures in elder ages, now connected to a caveman complex via a subterranean waterfall. It fits into one's palm and is constantly changing its shape. It's utterly black, reflecting no light and having no visible texture. The party never found it, because after clearing out about half the dungeon they just decided it was "too tough" and "not rewarding enough" and left. At that point I became deaf to complaints of "not enough magic loot". They had an un-statted but completely genuine and no-tricks-to-bite-you-in-the-ass, very poorly guarded small piece of Death itself. But they didn't feel like going deep enough into the dungeon to get it.
Petrified antlers. When touched to the stone statue of a stag, it causes the statue to crumble into dust while gaining the ability to summon a stag on one occasion.
Silver fish statuette. When warmed up by human touch and placed into water, it starts swimming around until it cools down and sinks to the bottom.
Quartz Throne. A might throne carved of a single humongous quartz crystal, of inestimable value. When exposed to sudden light, it fills the area with a Prismatic Spray affecting all except its occupant. If someone sits on it while under the moonlight, he can summon a servile Shade. By speaking the appropriate words and exposing the throne to bright light, Prismatic Guardians can also be summoned, 3 HD humanoid creatures whose hit with their immaterial weapons decreases the victim's Intelligence or Wisdom.
This one has a story. The party has found it in a dungeon, took it with them (they had some people with them helping to carry it) and eventually made their way back to the ship that was to take them home. On the penultimate day of the journey through this thickly forested, mysterious land based on mythological Ireland, they've met a seemingly young yet strangely ageless man travelling alone in the deep woods where no men tread, explaining upon inquiry that he's moving from his summer abode to his winter one.
Now, Player J. is not one to take the game very seriously and just doesn't really have that little mental switch that tells you when an idea is really stupid. Also, a while ago he recovered the non-magical crown of afore-mentioned Carnaic Anroc, and decided to create a new unified Cymric nation... by going around and telling random strangers that he's fated to be the new Cymric king and they should follow him. And guess what, that's exactly what he tells the strange traveller who in no way could possibly be a prince of the Tuatha dé Danann, who certainly doesn't have a mischievous trait, and who's unlikely to be mildly offended by some dull mortal pestering him with such a ridiculous fabrication of a story. The stranger gets an amused gleam in his eye, and plays along with J's highly credible story without a question. A bit of interlude in the form of a tower and undead warriors during which the man is left alone with the throne for a while. Fast forward to everyone boarding the ship and sailing home - the stranger decided to stay in his homeland and was adamant about it. As soon as the coast of quasi-Irish Tuaisceart fades out of sight, the throne becomes a large, mossy boulder with a note on top of it:
I thank you the hours of amusement we've had together - I was most entertained. I hope you won't mind if I keep the throne as a keepsake of our hilarious hijinx and especially Volard (J.'s character). In exchange for it, I send you with honest feeling seven storms, and may each be more interesting than the last.
The seven storms haven't happened yet, since after this session it was someone else's turn to DM for qutie a few months, then we started Zu.
Black Gong. Striking it causes utter silence to fall ni a 15' radius. Beating it repeatedly with an ivory stick summons incorporeal undead, and other sticks of specific attributes might have further effects.
Paper Figurines. A collection of hundreds of intricately folded figurines of animals, many of them never seen or heard of before by the party members. The first one taken has the ability to turn into the depicted animal when thrown away; once one was picked up, any attempt by the same party to take, touch or otherwise disturb another one causes that one to explode (and the resulting blast would knock over the rest, causing those to explode as well.
Rusty Sword. This sword was lying in a burial mound and, thanks to the siting of the entrance tunnel, was exposed to the sun for a few minutes. Once removed from there, it was a useless, ruined weapon for most of the day, except for the morning hours when it turned into its old appearance and functioned as a +1 weapon. It also attracted the shade of its old owner.
Steel Chain. 12 feet long, thin, but extremely strong. Paralyses any undead creature it is wrapped around - even if only wrapped around a single limb.
Ash Canisters. Cilindrical black wooden canisters with brass caps, containing ashes. By opening one and saying the proper prayer, its content will spill out and create a humanoid form of swirling ash which follows orders, is only vulnerable to magic, wind, water, fire and the deliberate touch of living flesh, and can choke, blind and normally damage enemies. Sometimes the ash zombie appears as soon as the canister is opened, and is hostile to all.
Obsidian Shortsword. Despite being made of obsidian, it has a strange, curved, flamelike shape. The party acquired it by bashing in an ancient sarcophagus and looting the largely disintegrated remains of the strange, not-quite-human warrior inside. The sword turned out to be cursed, hitting its own wielder. Later, in reasonably safe surroundings, the owner and another PC engaged in some mock combat to determine "how many plusses it has", even after me explicitly saying that you can't determine plusses like that. (It was player J..) At any rate, it turned out that under such circumstances it's also very much capable of hitting the target as well. For quite a while, J. kept some hope that the other 19 identical swords, looted from identical desecrated sarcophagi are perhaps not cursed. So far, he's failed to find one that works properly.
Obsidian Dagger. Primitive, and from a different source than the item above. A +2 dagger, but has a 1 in 6 chance of breaking every time it hits somone wearing metal armour.
"Onion Stick". A dry stick with onion-like bulbs growing from it. Does 1d4 HP of damage when used as a cudgel, but the bulbs release a strong nerve irritant on impact: the target must stand perfectly still despite the itch for a round; if he doesn't, he takes another 1d6 HP of damage from the intense agony, and must make a save or fall on the ground writhing.
The Hissing Sword. This evil black longsword adds +1 to damage and makes a hissing sound while wielded.
Golden Shortsword. Not truly gold, but surrounded by a golden aura when drawn from the scabbard. It is a cursed weapon that causes nearby animals to turn hostile, and causes the floor of sacred places to erupt in flames wherever its carrier treads.
Staff with Shriveled Human Head on Top. Exactly what it says. By learning the correct magic words, the head (formerly of a Magic User) can be awoken and forced to give advice or cast its own spells.
Smokestone. A grey stone half a fist's size. When held above a fire, it creates a large volume of thick smoke.
Druid's Torc. When worn, this torc improves a druid's AC by 4 and protects him from ranged weapons. When worn by anyone else, it HARMS AC by 4, attracts missiles, and tightens so it can't be taken off.
Druid's Headdress. This headpiece incorporates a pair of antlers (and is certainly not standard equipment even for druids). When worn by a druid, it improves his HP by 1 point for each level. When worn by anyone else, it sticks and reduces maximum HP by 1 point per level.
"Chopper". A strange 2-handed axe speckled with blood and full of ungainly jags and spikes, it formerly belonged to the large, vaguely simian Orc-demons. It suffers a -1 penaltry to hit because of its weight, but does 1d12 damage and severs the target's arm (always the arm, not any other limb) on a natural roll of 19 or 20.
Gold Key. Formerly possessed by the allegedly evil Horned Warlock. It opened a specific door at the bottom of a dungeon, and the party was charged by a mysterous red-haired woman who was washing bloody clothes in a lake to retrieve it so she can open the door and get home. Readers will probably guess (correctly) that she was called The Morrigan, and I can get away with brazen sh*t like that because I know my players are just too lazy to spend half an hour on Wikipedia reading up on Celtic mythology, even if they know fully well that the campaign is inspired by it. Of course, they're also too lazy to do the same for Germanic mythology, and that's why I also got away with using a doubly lame blacksmith called Wayland. Who is now their enemy, by the way.
Silver Dagger. This dagger has the engraving of a bee and a bird on its hilt. By throwing it in the air and saying the magic word, it can turn into a giant (fist-sized) bee or a red dove and carry out its owner's orders.
All right, that's it for now. Originally, I meant to make a point about magic item design, but this has taken longer then expected, so maybe some other time.