Priscilla, Glaive of Knuckles the Impulsive

[Yet another entry for the open call for minor artifacts and relics on Jeff’s Gameblog.]

My young friend, I’ll bet you a shiny electrum piece that you don’t even know what that weapon’s called. That’s called a glaive, son, a glaive, and it’s a damn fine polearm. Yes, I’m sure you want a sword so you can caper about with it and look pretty for the ladies, but a polearm is a man’s weapon. Take a glaive into the Caverns and if you have any balls at all you’ll bag three dead kobolds before this little elf pal of yours has dropped his dick and grabbed his sword (no offence, my fey friend). That particular glaive has a story. Want to hear it? Oh it won’t take but a moment, come on back now.

You see, this glaive is a senstive instrument. It once belonged to the famous adventurer Knuckles the Impulsive. You have heard of Knuckles? Then you might know how Knuckles spent several mortal lifetimes wandering the Outer Planes with no companion save his trusty wepon? His trusty…glaive? That’s right, son. That there weapon is Priscilla, Knuckles’ only friend. To keep sane—well, to keep from going more insane, I guess—Knuckles used to talk to Priscilla, sing to Priscilla, even…well, I’m sure that part’s just a myth.

Anyway, the point is, this is a fine weapon on its own, but with all the talking that Knuckles did over all those years, she got used to being treated like a lady. If you *talk* to her—and I mean really talk to her, not just say “come on Priscilla” now and then—she’ll treat you right in a tight spot. In combat you might want to compliment her a little bit, tell how fine she looks or how you owe your success to her. Other times, if you tell her a story, she has been known to repay your kindness with kindnesses of her own.

Now if you just step over here to the cashbox, I’ll be happy to put that electrum piece you owe me toward Priscilla’s purchase price. Oh, Knuckles? Well, he must be dead, right? I mean, if he weren’t dead, how would I have his beloved weapon, the most prized partner of the greatest warrior of our generation? If he were around and knew I had it, I’d be dead as something very dead, indeed! So yeah, I’m sure he must be dead. Right? You need some iron spikes to go with that glaive?

==

In game terms, when a player character uses Priscilla in battle, the player must speak aloud as if he or she were addressing the weapon while rolling the attack dice. Compliments or enthusiastic exhortations work wonderfully for Priscilla: “You look so lovely as you mow down my enemies like wheat,” would be appreciated, as would be “Priscilla, I owe my life and my fame to thee, fierce maiden of bloodshed!” But “OK, Priscilla, let’s hit this guy this time” isn’t adequate to gain a bonus. The benefits should be typical bonuses to hit and/or damage. Perhaps after the player has made a series of particularly fine addresses to her, Priscilla would be able to pull off an added battle effect (but only once per encounter at most).

Outside of battle, the player/character could tell Priscilla a short story or sing her a little song to activate other powers.

3 X I (three minor benign powers)
1 X II (one major benign power)
2 X III (two minor malevolent effects)

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Mulligan’s Bauble

[This post is a response to the open call for minor artifacts and relics on Jeff’s Gameblog. I think I may have ignored some of the important instructions, but I enjoy how this one and the others turned out, so if Jeff can’t use them, I still like them. -StU]

Mulligan was a wizard consumed with regrets. Whenever faced with a difficult choice, he invariably came to believe that he made the wrong decision.

The Bauble is a crystal figure of Ouroboros, the serpent swallowing his own tail. The Bauble is about the circumfrence of a gold piece, and can easily be carried on the person, or on a chain around the neck, waist or other likely place.

Mulligan’s Bauble’s major power is activated when it is broken. Immediately upon breaking the bauble, the bearer will find himself or herself startled awake in the last place they slept—their bed or their campsite from the night before. Upon investigation, they will find that they are waking on the morning of the day they just experienced, having effectively “turned back time” for several hours. They will find that Mulligan’s Bauble is intact, wherever they had left it the previous night, as the breaking of the bauble never happend, or, perhaps, hasn’t happened yet.

The character will have vague memories of the “lost” time, but when (or, rather, IF) they come to the point where they made the decision that ended up causing them to active the bauble’s power, they will clearly know what action they took before.

Using such power is not without risks. Each time the bauble is used, roll a d10 and add one to the result for each time the bauble has been used by that character (a charitable DM might waive the roll for the first use). On a roll of 8 or higher, roll a d6  and consult the following table:

  1. The bauble is effective, but the bauble—still in the owner’s posession—is shattered and unusable.
  2. The bauble is effective, but the character loses a level
  3. The bauble is effective, but instead of awakening, the user is in an enchanted sleep, unable to be awakened by conventional means.
  4. The bauble is effective, but now the character is cursed to always repeat that same day (Groundhog Day-style)
  5. No time effect occurs, and the user is stricken in place as if by a Sleep spell.
  6. The character awakens one day in the *future*.

It is up to the game master to decide whether Mulligan’s Bauble can be activated accidentally (in combat, or due to a fall) or only intentionally (as with a word of command or the like combined with the smashing of the crystal).

Additionally, Mulligan’s Bauble confers the following powers when worn or carried:

2 X I (two minor benign powers)
1 X II (one major benign power)
2 X III (two minor malevolent effects)

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The Stalwart Scabbard of Sir Twembly Backslider

[This post is a response to the open call for minor artifacts and relics on Jeff’s Gameblog. I think I may have ignored some of the important instructions, but I enjoy how this one and the others turned out, so if Jeff can’t use them, I still like them. -StU]

When Sir Twembly (called “Backslider” by many, but seldom to his face) took the oath of the paladin, leaving behind his less savory ways, he was concerned that he might, well, backslide. He comissioned a cleric to create a scabbard that would, in his words, “keep me honest.”

When a sword is placed in the Stalwart Scabbard, the scabbard has control over when the sword can be drawn. The scabbard will not release the sword for use against a Lawful/Good (as appropriate for your setting or campaign) opponent, and will instead Curse its bearer if he or she insists on entering combat with a such an opponent. When in the presence of Chaotic/Evil (again, as appropriate) creatures, the scabbard will instead demand that the sword be drawn and used, and will grant the bearer who does so promptly full access to the powers below. If the bearer resists the scabbard’s compulsion, the scabbard will cause him or her to experience weakness, pain, and nausea until the sword is drawn and used (the pain will stop, the sword will be usable, but the user will not have access to the Stalwart Scabbard’s powers). Unaligned or neutral opponents will not provoke the scabbard one way or another.

It should be noted that the scabbard is an alignment absolutist. It will not permit the bearer to draw against a Lawful/Good creature even in self defense. Similarly, it will try to compel the bearer to attack Chaotic/Evil beings even when such an action is tactically, politically, or otherwise unwise. Those who know the full Ballad of Twembly Backslider can tell you how that worked out for Sir T. in the end.

2 X I (two minor benign powers)
2 X II (two major benign powers)

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[This post is a response to the open call for minor artifacts and relics on Jeff’s Gameblog. I think I may have ignored some of the important instructions, but I enjoy how this one and the others turned out, so if Jeff can’t use them, I still like them. -StU]

Created by the gnomish automatist Hyneman during the war with the centaurs, the Clockwork Mouse is a small toy mouse made of metal and fur with a key protruding from one side. When the key is wound, and the mouse is placed on the floor, it will scamper in an eccentric pattern for 1d4 minutes.

The Clockwork Mouse causes Fear in all four-footed creatures the size of a pony or larger who see the mouse while it is running. Non-intelligent quadrapeds will simply try to flee. They have a 75% chance of running away using the most logical route, a 25% chance of stampeding in a random direction (roll a d8 with 1 being North, 2 being NE, 3 being East, etc.). Intelligent quadrapeds will be affected as if struck by a Fear spell with a penalty to their saving throws.

Creatures who are unaffected by the mouse may try to catch it or destroy it, but while it is running, it is very difficult to catch or hit with a weapon due to its small size and unpredictable movements. Area attacks or attemts to shield quadrapeds’ sight of the mouse are likely to be more successful.

The mouse bears Hyneman’s name engraved on its belly. Characters who find his workshop will be amazed at the automatons, contraptions, and other gadgets he has built.

In addition, Hyneman’s Clockwork Mouse confers the following boons and banes:

2 X I (two minor benign powers)
1 X III (one minor malevolent effect)

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Legitimate Targets

I have owned the D&D 4th edition Dungeon Master’s Guide for some time now, but until now, l have only dipped into it a bit. I found myself reading it more attentively this weekend, and found two interesting things in a short subsection of “Running Combat” called “Legitimate Targets.”

The first bit is funny and evocative in how it treats the fact that many healing surges or other beneficial effects come as part of a successful strike from an appropriate character (like a cleric, paladin, or warlord) in combat:

…[T]he power functions only when the target in question is a meaningful threat. Characters can gain no benefit from carrying a sack of rats in hopes of healing their allies by hitting the rats.

The awesome thing about this is that I assume it is in there because somebody actually tried that once.

Immediately following that statement is a paragraph about the numbers of characters who can be affected by a character’s powers, such as a warlord’s ability to inspire his comrades:

…[U]se common sense when determining how many allies can be affected. D&D is a game about adventuring parties fighting groups of monsters, not the clash of armies. A warlord’s power might, read strictly, be able to give a hundred “allies” a free basic attack, but that doesn’t mean that warlord characters should assemble armies to march before them into the dungeons.

This is quite at odds with my AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, which has rules for construction, sieges, naval combat, and the like. I think I remember that there were strong undertones throughout D&D and AD&D that a character’s ultimate goal might actually be building a stronghold and raising an army. This is also why “warlord” as a D&D class leaves me cold—if she or he is such a warlord, what is he doing in a cellar fighting giant spiders with a dwarf fighter and a halfling rogue? Just sayin’.

(BTW, “Legitimate Targets” would be a great name for a D&D blog.)

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DMG as beer coaster

Using my AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide as a beer coaster—the same book I carried around with me everywhere when I was about 11 years old—amuses me to no end.

Using my AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide as a beer coaster—the same book I carried around with me everywhere when I was about 11 years old—amuses me to no end.

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Maybe the orc IS your sister!

As a grown up, this quality is till there. Because you still can look at these artifacts and ideas in the game and wonder how they got there, and you can wonder where they’re going to go. There’s this wonderful ambiguity, because you never know whether a thing will be lightly passed over: (“The Orc has the same tattoo as your sister” “Oh yeah? Woody Woodpecker with a cigar?”) or whether it will open a door that just keeps going: (“The Orc has the same tattoo as your sister”“Holy shit, we’d better bring this body to her and see what she says”. “Maybe the Orc IS your sister!”) Is it deep, is it shallow? Does it mean something? Is it just crazy? Is it both? Is it always both? The sense of Wonder in Wonderland comes from Wondering.

Playing D&D With Porn Stars: Bronze Age Borderland

Great post from Zak about D&D, comics, and the uncanny.

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