Low level "magic items" with character but little power

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Captain_K
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Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Captain_K »

I've got a new group (9th Hour...), I want to avoid PC inflation and roll to hit inflation from magic items.. I want the MIs I get into the PCs hands to be cool, interesting, and prized without being +5 Holy Avengers. I don't mind greater magic in the hands of lower PCs from time to time, that makes for the fun and fantasy.. but I don't not want it constant.

So, Fellow CKs, I suggest a swap of ideas on this topic, please post here.. below are a few I'm toying with:
1) "The Big Lucky Shield" a Large Wooden Shield +1 to AC ONLY when in total defense, +3 to any roll requiring real "luck" to survive.
2) The Black Thorn: A Magical Dagger, never dulls, floats, all dull black, does not shine/glint/or reflect light.
3) Mace of Crushing: Can hit some creatures requiring magic to hit (Up to +3 for Undead, but only +1 for non-Undead). No actual + to hit or damage on the roll. Double Damage (by rolling the damage dice twice) against all skeletal Undead.
4) Apollo's Arrow or a Phoenix Arrow: +3 to hit and damage. Mithral Head, Dragon Bone Shaft, and Phoenix Feather Fletching. When shot the arrow bursts into flame doing up to d8 of additional magical fire damage. The use of the arrow does not destroy its permanent magic. The Fletching is ash, but after spending a moon in the quiver it is fully restored and can be used once again if it can be recovered. Aside: Any attempt to re-fletch the arrow will destroy its magical properties.
5) Gloves of Safety: Soft kid gloves of white leather. Strong as steel (mildly magical).
6) Bertram's Ball of Wacky Wax: This magical wax can be molded by an Arcane Spell caster into any single spell component of any value with the expenditure of a particular cantrip. But only once and only once each day. Each molding dirties the wax and when its black with filth its magic is spent. Usually useful 5d6 times before to dirty to function.
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by jdizzy001 »

I'm shifting how i use magic items as well. My biggest problem with d20 systems is the inevitable number bloat. To combat that I've implemented a level cap of level 12 ( thanks troll lords :) ) and i've adopted 5e's approach to magic items. In a nutshell, items are divided into 2 categories. Magical and non magical. No surprises, that is how its always been. The new part is the numerical bonuses. Magic items only provide a +1 bonus to atk/dmg. That's it. The days of +5 armor of block everything are gone. Especially in my campaigns. What makes a weapon special then? The extras. The character of the weapon. Things such as (like you pointed out) weapons that float, weapons that are unbreakable, silvered weapons.

In fact, for special materials such as mithral and adimantine i've changed their qualities as well, since i no longer use +5 bonuses. Mithral affords a +1 bonus to atk/dmg, does not count against your encumbrance, and counts as silvered. Adimantine provides a +1 bonus to atk/dmg and is unbreakable.

So, I agree, give your weapons character instead of bigger numbers. That is the beauty of c&c, there is no wrong way to do it!
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Captain_K »

Great ideas all. Yeah it kind of snow balls fast, +5 to hit weapons at 13th lvl... needs 19 dex and +5 armor.. etc. Not always the case but stuff to watch for, great ideas, thanks, Captain K
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Relaxo »

captain, I really dig your items you posted here! just perfect, flavorful and interesting without being tons of power bloat.
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Captain_K »

Glad you liked them, ginned them up in a few minutes, but my hope is each of you CKs or seasoned players will post a few of your own "low power magic items", either made up on the spot or ones you've used... Like I've heard many a time, "share and steal" are very close together and only a matter of perception ;}
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Shadowslayer »

Don't underestimate one-use stuff like oils and potions. Say the PCs come across a couple of vials labelled "orcsbane" which could be an oil you pour on your sword that gives you a hit bonus vs orcs that lasts one battle/x number of turns/a full day/whatever.

Or the all powerful, but one use only, magic items. There was a 4e module called the Slaying Stone, and the stone could be used as an auto-kill for any creature large or small, but the stone disintegrated after it was used.

I like this kind of "limited uses" item because you can give them away a little more freely....they get cool stuff and likely won't end up with a game breaker that you can't get rid of.

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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Captain_K »

I'm pretty famous for that kind of stuff, wands, staffs and rods on their last few charges with "no way to recharge"... But I like the idea of odd or totally unique one shot items.

I also want to ensure that the items are unique to each of my PC's classes in the game. So much is Fighter-ish and Mage.. I need some highly specific Druid, thief, illusionist, elven cleric, dwarven subterranean ranger, etc.

Anyone got ideas for a magic item for a badger?
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Shadowslayer »

There was a fun 4e ability called Fey Step. Pretty sure that's what it was called. Basically it alllowed a 5 or 6 square minor teleportation. You could give your badger a collar that allowed him to do that. Call it a Collar of Ethereal Burrowing or something.

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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by serleran »

Captain_K wrote:I'm pretty famous for that kind of stuff, wands, staffs and rods on their last few charges with "no way to recharge"... But I like the idea of odd or totally unique one shot items.

I also want to ensure that the items are unique to each of my PC's classes in the game. So much is Fighter-ish and Mage.. I need some highly specific Druid, thief, illusionist, elven cleric, dwarven subterranean ranger, etc.

Anyone got ideas for a magic item for a badger?

Grinning Cowl: A badger that wears this item is bestowed with unearthly cuteness to the point that, for the first round of a combat, any creature that wishes to engage the wearer in combat must make a save as if the badger was affected by a sanctuary spell. There is no effect in subsequent rounds although the Castle Keeper may opt to further allow the cowl to aid the badger's master by granting a +1 bonus to social interaction abilities, such as Inspire or the like.

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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Relaxo »

Badgers?!
We don't need no stinking Badgers!

...

magic mushroom?

mushroom MUSHROOM!
Ahh! a snake! a snake! Ahh!
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Captain_K »

As to the Badger (Diggery)... the Gnomish Druid in the group has this creature as an "Animal Friend". He really wanted a tiger, in England??? well he set his back story to Egypt... so maybe later... anyway I warned him his FRIEND is not a sword to send in and attack. It is a friend, a second character he can play, etc. etc. He wants his little friend to attack, attack, attack.. I warned him that any familiar or animal friend that becomes annoying usually dies.. I further informed him that his fellow characters would likely kill the thing long before I the CK would be forced to take Diggery out.. so that badger is the brunt of much pointed humor and wishful thinking by several of the PCs.

Our group is all from work, all engineers, most under 30, closer to 25, all good friends so the table banter is pretty good natured but a few are highly competitive and the badger is in many places "the toy" they fight over...

Aside: This is why in the M&T errata I had made some comments that the badge was too powerful for a 1HD creature...

Anyway, I love the Badger magic item ideas.. I kind of like the idea of blending them, three bonuses, the burrowing "teleport" mixed with the "too cute to take seriously side affect"... that said, I can't help but have a curse rolled in.. you know like 1 in 20 it goes berserk .. over use the combat abilities and they have side affects.. like Golem control loss.

So, that's the "stinking badger" story... oh, they are Musteloids.. so berserk coupled with stinky musk that makes everyone puke... could be a great old time.

Here's a quiz. This first level Gnomish Druid as the badger as his animal friend. As annoying as Diggery is becoming to the PCs, I still find him acceptable.. but I have warned the PCs and the Gnome, "At least you have not figured out how to make him instantly as annoying as he is...." This statement has stumped them all.. WARNING.. I want to keep it that way, but if you have figured out my riddle PM it.. I curious if my riddle is easy or hard to solve.
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Captain_K »

Oops major type-o in the quiz, "How can the Druid make him instantly TWICE as annoying as he is..."
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by DMSamuel »

A couple of the magic items I have used in the recent past;

Ring of Sophia's Goblet: This small silver ring looks like a basic one-piece loop of silver, but it has a small goblet symbol etched into the underside. Once per day the ring can be used to cause 3 oz of liquid to appear in a metal or wooden goblet. The ring is activated by tapping the rim of the goblet 3 times (the ring must be worn at the time).

The easy way to run the item is to make it always cause water to appear, but I use it with a bit more flavor. Sophia is the name of a popular queen in my setting. When the ring is used, it causes the goblet to be filled with whatever type of liquid the queen last drank. I roll 2d6 and consult a table to determine what she drank:
2) Soured juice (nauseates drinker for 1d3 hours)
3) Expensive red wine
4) Expensive white wine
5) Cheap table wine
6) Water
7) Water
8) Water
9) Ale
10) Goat's milk
11) Oil of Bird Egg (basically a raw egg, effects as the CK sees fit)
12) Salve of healing (acts as weak potion of healing, recover 1d3 HP)

It's amazing what the players can do with 3 oz of liquid when they have to do something interesting in a pinch. I also had a twist on this in one of my last games - Queen Sophia was assassinated about 2/3 of the way through the campaign. Since she was no longer alive to drink things the randomness of the liquid went away and there was a 95% chance that the goblet would contain clean water. Since she was killed with poison there was a 5% chance that the goblet would produce poisoned water. The players put this effect to good use as well.

---

Bergot's Dimple: This small, round, golden pin has two holes in it - closer inspection reveals that it was formerly put to service as a jacket button. The pin is used by placing it on the lapel of a character who wants to make friends with a stranger. The pin's effect lasts for 15 minutes and gives the character a bonus to charisma checks as though CHA was a prime attribute for that PC. once the pin is used, 4 hours must pass before it can be used again.

The name of this item is also based on an NPC in my campaign setting - a young beggar named Bergot who charmed the pants off of one of the characters and turned into a valuable and trusted ally for the group. Bergot was reknowned for his ability to get any type of information from anyone with just a smile. One of the player's made a crack about it being because of his dimples and a mythic legend was born. When Bergot died the group found his old coat and kept it. It became something of a good luck charm, but eventually all but one single button was left. One of the PCs turned that button into a pin and I decided on the spur of the moment to imbue that pin with magic, and thus was born Bergot's dimple.

---

As you can see, I like items that:
1) Have some sort of non-combat ability
2) Have some sort of meaningful history

When these two requirements are met, I feel like my world comes alive in a way that makes for a better game. My player's like it too.
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Captain_K »

I love the detail and history, it adds depth, links in with Bard skills too thanks DMS.

I love the idea or I'll move toward the idea that a MI can literally be created by events, time and use... or possibly it was always that way and the former only brings out the later and makes it obvious. Kind of a self fulfilling prophecy or a "placebo affect for magic items" (chuckling on this one thinking about the cloak of invisibility in the spoofy "Vikings" movie.

New idea: If each of the active CKs submitted MIs on a simple word template could we not have a page or section in these posts for CKs to go to? Kind of a MI pool? Each chapter devoted to a different CK?

How many of us are there on these forums? 50? 100?

Is this kind of thing allowed? Encourage? Could be minded by the trolls at will for future use/publication.
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Captain_K »

More to come soon...
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by AllyRdr »

Glove of Holding is my favourite, and is something I give out way before I start giving weapons.

Any one thing you would be able to hold and heft in your hand can be stored, and summoned at will, but only one. Something like a weapon, a coil of rope, a waterskin, etc., but nothing bigger, such as a ladder, or animal on a leash.

edit to add a link:
http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/won ... of-storing

this can be far more valuable an item than any weapon, and is really only limited by a lack of imagination.

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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Arduin »

Captain_K wrote:I've got a new group (9th Hour...), I want to avoid PC inflation and roll to hit inflation from magic items..
So, you are looking for magic weapons/armor only or, misc. magic items as well?
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by seskis281 »

The easiest way is to declare up front "magic and empowerment are expensive and rare in the world we are in.... magic items themselves are more expensive and not even available in most towns unless found, only available at substantial markups in bigger cities," and the cap on typically available magic enchantments is +1 or +2, very rarely a +3 item. Don't bother asking about +4 or +5. Tell them things like Holy Avenger, in this world, only give a +3.

Or, if you don't mind letting the PCs power up (and my games go that way), you can always let it happen but then smile as you pull out a 3.x MMII and throw some 3.x creatures as they are in that edition at them :twisted:
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by marroon69 »

Quick question...I am new to C&C but I have played other games for a long time. D&D 3.* or Pathfinder it was expected that the melee types have the right equipment or they would be almost totally useless compared to casters. I have not played or run enough C&C (remedying that soon) to know what high level C&C would be like. But in the other games it was sort of arms race and a balancing act, if the fighter did not have the stuff the wizard would quickly out pace them as would the monsters. If you limit the gear do you need to limit the monster levels? Then would the wizard just destroy everything? Or are you limiting the spell casters also? Just wondering because I love a low magic world but I found you need the right game to make it work. I am about to start a C&C campaign, my first and I would love to take this approach but I have little C&C experience so any help would be much appreciated.

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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Litzen Tallister »

marroon69 wrote:Quick question...I am new to C&C but I have played other games for a long time. D&D 3.* or Pathfinder it was expected that the melee types have the right equipment or they would be almost totally useless compared to casters. I have not played or run enough C&C (remedying that soon) to know what high level C&C would be like. But in the other games it was sort of arms race and a balancing act, if the fighter did not have the stuff the wizard would quickly out pace them as would the monsters. If you limit the gear do you need to limit the monster levels? Then would the wizard just destroy everything? Or are you limiting the spell casters also? Just wondering because I love a low magic world but I found you need the right game to make it work. I am about to start a C&C campaign, my first and I would love to take this approach but I have little C&C experience so any help would be much appreciated.
My experience of C&C has been that there is little in the way of balancing beyond a minimal level. So while gear does make a difference, I don't know that it's as much an arms race with C&C. I'm less familiar with Pathfinder/D&D 3rd edition, but C&C plays differently. At some points, particular classes may have base level advantages, but I don't think it's entirely dependent upon the non-caster types having a healthy amount of magical items. However, for the purpose of exciting people, I do try to make sure there's magical items for everyone to enjoy.

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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Captain_K »

Arduin, I'm looking for anything, and everyone to share here... so here are some more I kind of dreamed up today, but some clearly came from past games or memories of said games....
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

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The other half.. this is from excel, to word, to pdf to save as ",png".. is there a better way with clearer viewing??
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Lurker »

I LOVE more useful magic items than 'just' magic weapons! To me it is those little interesting things that make a character fun.

Also, to me it is critical that the magic items (that are going to mean something to the character/player) do have a background and history to them. - Just ask Rigon about my knight & his equipment ;)

However, to me you can't have those types of items and simply roll and a misc magic table to find all the cool trinkets the players get. Sooooo it does take a lot of effort on the GM's part (maybe even the players part) to keep the items history and usefulness growing and realistic for the level of game they are playing.
Arduin wrote:
Captain_K wrote:I've got a new group (9th Hour...), I want to avoid PC inflation and roll to hit inflation from magic items..
So, you are looking for magic weapons/armor only or, misc. magic items as well?
Here you go ...

Benaman's lucky dice
A set of normal appearing bone dice
Gives the owner a +1 to any roll once per day
the owner knows (but cannot change) the results of a roll before it is tossed, as long as it isn't the owner himself who is tossing the dice.
Also knows when anyone is cheating at a game of chance
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Jyrdan Fairblade »

Some awesome ideas here.

I think that most magic items should have some flavor text and character to them. Even a simple shield +1 is made that much cooler when you say it's made from a single dragon scale. Add a once per day ability and a story about it and now it feels like a real piece of magic of the world.

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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Arduin »

marroon69 wrote:Quick question...I am new to C&C but I have played other games for a long time. D&D 3.* or Pathfinder it was expected that the melee types have the right equipment or they would be almost totally useless compared to casters. I have not played or run enough C&C (remedying that soon) to know what high level C&C would be like. But in the other games it was sort of arms race and a balancing act, if the fighter did not have the stuff the wizard would quickly out pace them as would the monsters. If you limit the gear do you need to limit the monster levels? Then would the wizard just destroy everything? Or are you limiting the spell casters also? Just wondering because I love a low magic world but I found you need the right game to make it work. I am about to start a C&C campaign, my first and I would love to take this approach but I have little C&C experience so any help would be much appreciated.
C&C doesn't try to "balance" the classes as such. A 10th level wizard cannot be compared to a 10th level thief. The main reason for that is the PCs are a team. They aren't pitted against each other. An analogy might be a military team. One guy has anti-tank weapons. The other a carbine, comm & medical equip, etc. It comes down to the GM designing things so that ALL the PCs have stuff to do. Drop all the weird PC balance crap that was introduced starting with 3.X This game is what 3rd Edition SHOULD have been following on the heels of TSR's 2nd Edition.
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Arduin »

Captain_K wrote:Arduin, I'm looking for anything, and everyone to share here... so here are some more I kind of dreamed up today, but some clearly came from past games or memories of said games....
Potion of Black Fire. Pour it on a fire up to the size of a camp fire and it turns the flames black so they emit no light. Works for 12 hours. The fire still produces they same amount of heat.
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Zudrak »

Arduin wrote:
marroon69 wrote:Quick question...I am new to C&C but I have played other games for a long time. D&D 3.* or Pathfinder it was expected that the melee types have the right equipment or they would be almost totally useless compared to casters. I have not played or run enough C&C (remedying that soon) to know what high level C&C would be like. But in the other games it was sort of arms race and a balancing act, if the fighter did not have the stuff the wizard would quickly out pace them as would the monsters. If you limit the gear do you need to limit the monster levels? Then would the wizard just destroy everything? Or are you limiting the spell casters also? Just wondering because I love a low magic world but I found you need the right game to make it work. I am about to start a C&C campaign, my first and I would love to take this approach but I have little C&C experience so any help would be much appreciated.
C&C doesn't try to "balance" the classes as such. A 10th level wizard cannot be compared to a 10th level thief. The main reason for that is the PCs are a team. They aren't pitted against each other. An analogy might be a military team. One guy has anti-tank weapons. The other a carbine, comm & medical equip, etc. It comes down to the GM designing things so that ALL the PCs have stuff to do. Drop all the weird PC balance crap that was introduced starting with 3.X This game is what 3rd Edition SHOULD have been following on the heels of TSR's 2nd Edition.
Agreed and well said. The balance should be in the fun, not the mechanics.
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Captain_K »

I agree fully, the history, the name, the details, they are small story teller stuff but they are highly prized by players... I did NOT add them to the above because that stuff is so linked to each of your worlds, your groups and your styles I just tried for some basic ideas to get the juices flowing... take, borrow, steal as you will and add story as you need to for your world or even for the moment the items hits the scene.

Here's another point.. can the MI change, grow with the use, grow with the telling, gain in usefulness... Ex.: .."Derek the thief throws his black thorn dagger in a desperate bid to take down the fleeing vampire and finds that the blade caused the vampire to freeze in motion as if hit by a "hold person spell', yes it was a perfect throw (aka 20), but still, so odd, ten years and never before had that power surfaced.. just goes to show you the wonders of magic.. or so boasts Derek over a few beers bought by his friends after Derek saves the day and finishes off that pesky vampire that had previously always found a way to flee or go gaseous... they truly cooked the fiend this time!".

The Large Shield of Luck I noted was just that, somehow a lone goblin survived 5 rounds of full party assault... the magic of the moment and huge unluck of the PCs "magicked" the shield on the spot.. well as far as I was concerned, every PC wanted that shield.. it had to be lucky, if not, well, it was a prized possession.. and if I can get a bunch of PC to use a hide and wood shield, love it care for it and explain why they have a shield of the "Bloody Hand" Goblin tribe... well that's a good story...

Please, keep posting your ideas here, excellent stuff, thanks, Captain K
Wow, Another Natural One! You guys are a sink hole for luck. Stay away from my dice.

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Lurker
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Lurker »

Captain_K wrote:
...

The Large Shield of Luck I noted was just that, somehow a lone goblin survived 5 rounds of full party assault... the magic of the moment and huge unluck of the PCs "magicked" the shield on the spot.. well as far as I was concerned, every PC wanted that shield.. it had to be lucky, if not, well, it was a prized possession.. and if I can get a bunch of PC to use a hide and wood shield, love it care for it and explain why they have a shield of the "Bloody Hand" Goblin tribe... well that's a good story...

...

Now that I love! That deserves a great power earned to it!

Captain_K wrote:
...
Here's another point.. can the MI change, grow with the use, grow with the telling, gain in usefulness... Ex.: .."Derek the thief throws his black thorn dagger in a desperate bid to take down the fleeing vampire and finds that the blade caused the vampire to freeze in motion as if hit by a "hold person spell', yes it was a perfect throw (aka 20), but still, so odd, ten years and never before had that power surfaced.. just goes to show you the wonders of magic.. or so boasts Derek over a few beers bought by his friends after Derek saves the day and finishes off that pesky vampire that had previously always found a way to flee or go gaseous... they truly cooked the fiend this time!".

..., Captain K
That is the rub, does the MI grow and stay valuable to the player, does it stay the same power and get left behind in the bin of old forgotten toys, ....

How do you (all) see growing power in the MI if that is the path you take?
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Andrew
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Re: Low level "magic items" with character but little power

Post by Andrew »

I meant to make a note of this earlier on but for those needing some good magical items that are useful and unordinary, a good 4-book set to have is the 2nd edition Encyclopedia Magica series.

The series has thousands of magical items from the mundane to the extraordinary. Even better the items tend to be compatible with most game systems, even if a small amount of numerical tweaking is necessary. The books don't go for too cheap though, even on Amazon they're usually 20-40 dollars apiece.

One of the things that are very good that it elaborates on is over 400 "magical liquids". Potions, oils, ointments, and so forth. These are generally one-time or limited-time use items that also only last for so long. What are good about magical liquids is their use-it-and-lose-it drawback. They're a great way to give low-level characters a boost (and they'll think twice about when to use it) without granting them super-powers.

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