Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Magic item special ingredients

Blog of Holding has recipes for every magic item in the dungeon master’s guide. Apparently Xanathar's Guide to Everything (on my wish list, but I haven't gotten it yet) has/suggests a rule that you need something special for each magic item.

This is not a new idea, but that idea combined with this list is pretty excellent. This list is really evocative, too. Needing "gloves stolen from a thief" is one of my favorites - it reminds me of how magic is crafted in the James Enge "Ambrose" books. This could make a good quest list - "A local wizard is paying top coin for otyugh eyes" is way more interesting than merely cutting horns off of random monsters and seeing if you can't sell them.

This idea is easily stolen for GURPS Dungeon Fantasy and the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game.

If players want to buy any of the magical items described inMagic Items, decide if you want it in the game or not. If yes, let them . . . but require them to supply the unique or special component necessary to make it. "Of course I can make you a Puissance +3 sword, if you can get me the edge of a dragon's claw or a nice chunk of mithral." Or perhaps "Sure, rechargeable greater wand of explosive fireballs? The heart of a flame lord."

You can either make a specific list of items ahead of time, or simply ad hoc make them as needed.

The lesser the item, the lesser the component. Or the more varieties allowed. The greater the item, the more specific - and it need not be (I'd say should not be) merely the physical component.

The mention above of the gloves was deliberate - I want to highlight that it's not always the component, but how you got it. Magic is more magical when it's not just science with "otyugh eyes" instead of "DNA from a creature with wide-spectrum low-light vision" or "elf blood" instead of "riboflavin*" - so make it so. You can't just hack a thief to death and take his gloves and use them for Gloves of Thievery (or gloves that are a Casting Item for Lockmaster and give Grace +2). They need to be stolen. You might need blood from an elf slain on the 13th day of the 13th month for your arrow of elfslaying, and figure out what day in your 12th month calendar counts as 13th of 13th in the orcish calendar to know when to draw such blood. It's not science, it's magic, and making part of the elements of some items specific in a non-scientific way is critical to making this just some generic commodity. It should make it part of the challenge. "No, I need to slay an elf tomorrow, not today - let him go, but cast Trace on his and keep it going" or "no, steal his gloves, don't borrow them or kill him and loot them."

It's a nice list that Paul created, and it's both fun to read and inspirational for DF/DFRPG.

* Critically important for time travel.


  1. huh. Now I'm considering the use of Current Events as a 'checking for valuable' Loot skill in a Dungeon.

    Fighter: "Is anything on this dead Eye Beast valuable?"
    /Wizard rolls Current Events (The Town - Magical Stuff), succeeds...
    Wizard: "Oh yes, old Blargle the Mad is offering 50$ for Eye Beast corneas this week."

    1. I like that. "How much are flame lord ashes worth?"
      (Roll, roll) "Not worth it, someone sold off a wagonload of ashes a week ago, the market is glutted."


      "Holy heck, as-Sharak talons? There has been a talon drought for decades, grab them all!"

      Might make for the usual, "I roll Merchant, how much are those worth?" and allow for really random treasures.

  2. I'm seeing more of a use of the "Looting the Bodies" sidebar on p. 13 of DF 8.

  3. Hrm. From a more D&D-esque perspective, I need to contact Blog of Holding and see if they'll let me incorporate this directly into Dragon Heresy. While permanent enchantments are no longer something most folks can do, enabling temporary enchantments with the right stuff is really slick.

    1. Probably worth doing. You'll almost certainly need to modify them to fit your monster names and changes. Plus, some choices are odd - giant spider silk for a potion of climbing, but carrion crawler tentacles for a rope of climbing? Bulette claws for a cube of force? Still worth using as a base, though.


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