From the Archives #2

Today’s installment is the arsenal of my longest-running character, a fallen ranger who became a very, very dangerous assassin (he actually transitioned to 3e as a lv. 26 character, if that gives you any idea). He only used a small handful of magic items, several of which were commissioned as payment for his “services” or looted from particularly unpleasant enemies.

This gear is from the period when I was palling around with Silence the Bladesinger* (the actual comic and the pictures he commissioned from this lady appear long gone, these ten years by..). Anyway, since (almost) no-one actually cares about old characters..

First, a word about common poisons. I had a very accommodating GM once upon a time: together, we drew up poison research rules much like the spell research rules in 2e (I can post those in a future Archive). I poisoned the hell out of some daggers, and kept them in specially prepped throwing sheaths. These weapons, however, were almost never poisoned, since my favorite one was an anti-magic poison and I didn’t particularly want to hose a custom dweomer…

The Twin Terrors of Eric the Faithless
A matched pair of long, heavy throwing knives; they sheathe into opposite ends of the same plain brown leather scabbard. The handles are of ridged bone, with ring of dancing skeletal figures holding hands engraved around the pommels. The blades are blued Damascus steel, chased with silver.
They are +1 knives (not daggers) balanced for throwing. When drawn and thrown, the user may call one of three command phrases. The command words are engraved on the blade in the form of an Elvish poem: “Dance, my Darlings/Feet swift and true/Round and round you go”
On “Dance, my darlings” the blades attack autonomously for 1d4 rounds with a THAC0 of 13*, then fall to the floor.
On “Feet swift and true”, the weapons gain an additional +2 bonus to hit and damage.
On “Round and round you go” the blades will reappear in their sheath at the end of the next round.
These powers are only accessible if a phrase is spoken as the weapons are drawn and thrown simultaneously; thus, only one can be active at a time.
Rules: +1 Throwing knives with various additional effects if used properly. Personal property of Elthir.
*Attack as a 4HD monster(B/X) / 4th level Fighter (3x)

At character creation, he had a low Dex (8 or 9, I believe), which I wrote off as having lost an eye as a youth. He wore a one-eyed, featureless mask on assignment after becoming an assassin. His final payment, shortly before I retired the character, was this;

The Mask of the Faithless
A shaped, but featureless orihalcon mask. Into its single eye socket is inserted a ruby lens – a uniquely crafted Gem of True Seeing. Upon concentrating briefly, the user is also made aware of the exact range to any single creature or object in his sight: this cancels the negative modifier for fighting with one eye closed (or missing). The deep red tint of the gem can, however, obscure certain things from the user’s sight (at the GM’s discretion) and badly affects his night vision. The user is Blinded for one round after removing the mask.

He also routinely wore the Shadowcloak, a 2e magic item from the Complete Book of Thieves (not reproduced here). I later created a similar item for 3e, which I’ve back-translated into earlier AD&D rules.

Cloak of the Shadows, Lesser
This shimmering, midnight black cloak is crafted from the hide of a ritually flayed animate shadow (which must be skinned with a blessed silver blade). The cloak appears to be a soft velvet, as long as you don’t look at it too hard…
The cloak grants the user a 25% chance of invisibility in shadows if he remains motionless, and improves standard Hide in Shadows and Surprise rolls by 15% / +1. Once per day, the user may cast the reversed form of Light. They may also choose to invoke the cloak once per day. This makes them incorporeal (and therefore silent) for 1d6 rounds – but they still take normal damage from silvered or magical weapons, and double all damage from light-based sources.While in this form, the wearer gains infravision (60′), if they do not already possess it.
The wearer is at -1 to hit and -5% to use all skills in very bright light, and takes an additional point of damage from all light-based sources and silvered weapons: in addition, if they must save against a Light spell cast upon the eyes, they do so at a -2. Touching silver causes the wearer to feel an intense burning itch, but this has no mechanical effect.
3x: The user gains a +1 enchantment bonus per level to Hide in Shadows if he is not moving. Cast reversed Light 1/day. Become Ethereal and Silent 1/day for 1d6 Rounds (silvered or magic weapons will still hit them in this form).
The user becomes vulnerable to silver, and suffers a -2 circumstance penalty to all saving throws from light-based damage.  They also suffer a -2 circumstance penalty to all skills and BAB when in direct sunlight or the equivalent.

As more of a “mundane” magic item; using the Shadowcloak‘s powers, he enchanted a number of small stones and caltrops with reversed Continual Light and kept them in a sack at his belt for minelaying purposes and fast escapes. These were the primary original (ish) magic items: he also used a Lifestealer +2 and very occasionally got ahold of an Arrow of Slaying or an Arrow of Harming.

Finally, a sword I made and put in The Archives to honor old Quelthelas Arundel. The enchantment on it is one of his original spells – we used the SHIT out of the optional parrying rules, and Shadowblade was his answer (I just sicced the Twins on them and then came in from the shadows/out of the darkness)

Arath’ve, the Shadow-shroud.
Arath’ve is an ancient renegade Elven weapon, forged from the dancing unlight at the core of the Shadow Plane. It radiates Shadow and Illusion magic. The handle and sheath are crafted from soft white leather, and the fittings are of silver. The pommel is a simple acorn-type, with a small rondel of Jet.
When drawn, the pitch-black blade seems to explode into a loosely-connected swarm of blades and shards, each dark as night: they suck the light forth from the room, deepening shadows and softening the light. Even the user finds this disconcerting: each time he draws it, he must make a save vs. spells. Until he passes, he must either fight blind or fight as though he was not proficient with the weapon. This effect is cancelled after the user saves for the first time.
(Variable standard bonuses as appropriate); in addition, the sword gains a bonus of +1 to hit, and generates 2-5 mirror images of itself when drawn. If the sword is parried, randomly determine the blade that was hit: images are dispelled on “impact”, and the parry has no effect. Mirror images are generated the first time the sword is drawn each day, and are not regenerated until the following evening as the sun crosses the horizon.
Rules: (Enchanted Sword, casts Silence’s Shadowed Blade upon itself when drawn)

As you can see, I’m fond of drawbacks on my items, but also of powerful(ish) ones. I’ve always felt that the ying-yang should apply to magic –  all but the nastiest cursed items should have a little good (tempt the players to use them!).

Secondly, it keeps the wonder flowing – even fairly mundane weapons &c can be made much more interesting with a simple random 1st-level spell thrown on them (Heheh, Mouse would be amusing..); randomly generating them ahead of time and slapping them in The Archive means I’ll always have something to draw on when the party hits paydirt. I have a feeling this will come in handy when I start the new LotFP campaign…

*For those of you that care, I helped edit the Slayers fic “Shards of Chaos” up until he dropped it upon moving to Japan. Just looking for the pics of Silence brought back serious memories from the ’90s –  seeing the fragments of Amethyst Angel‘s old fanart site she put up when she was hosting the fics,  and Queeny‘s new page.. Damn. Now I think I have to go grab a beer and watch some Slayers in memory of friends I’ve lost touch with.

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  1. While we only met in 2003. it was still kind of the 1990s. I mean Dragonball Z was still on TV back then. Fuck, I think I’ll watch Slayers NEXT tonight.

    • I heartily endorse this activity. Gotta make rent, but I’ve done some more work on that thing I sent you (separating out the two systems more clearly). Should be an interesting week come Tuesday.


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