Unique Magic Items

Discuss our dark fantasy adventure tabletop roleplaying game based on BioWare's computer game, Dragon Age Origins.

Unique Magic Items

Postby Elfie » Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:23 am

Here are two interesting magical items that I plan to introduce into my game. Thought I'd share them with the group, solicit feedback, and see if you guys have created anything you'd like to share.

Playing Cards of the Dragon Age
Requires Dragon Age II Playing Cards as a physical prop.

Once Per Day: Shuffle the deck and draw a single card. If the card has a picture on it, gain a +2 to all tests against the pictured race until the following sunrise. The exceptions are the Jokers, which cause a -1 to all tests, general unease, and mild nausea.


Arrow Catch
Concept stolen from The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

This device, which looks like a black lantern, but has no capacity to hold a flame, contains eight magical spring traps, which counter the kinetic energy of any arrow that flies within ten yards of them.

After springing, each trap must be reset manually by use of a hexagonal key and good amount of force.

Resetting the Arrow Catch requires a single TN 15 Strength (Might) test, taking 2 minutes per trap.
Regardless of success or failure, a 1 on the Dragon Die breaks one of the traps, reducing the number of arrows the Arrow Catch can block by one.

Note: This stops all arrows, not just enemy arrows.
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Re: Unique Magic Items

Postby Dragon Son » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:17 am

Sorry no items of my own to share!

Playing Cards of the Dragon Age
Requires Dragon Age II Playing Cards as a physical prop.

Once Per Day: Shuffle the deck and draw a single card. If the card has a picture on it, gain a +2 to all tests against the pictured race until the following sunrise. The exceptions are the Jokers, which cause a -1 to all tests, general unease, and mild nausea.


That's cool, as I understand it it works like a magic deck of cards, I would be really interested to know the history behind this magic item I mean who created it and why, as for it's usefulness I really can't say.

Arrow Catch
Concept stolen from The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

This device, which looks like a black lantern, but has no capacity to hold a flame, contains eight magical spring traps, which counter the kinetic energy of any arrow that flies within ten yards of them.

After springing, each trap must be reset manually by use of a hexagonal key and good amount of force.

Resetting the Arrow Catch requires a single TN 15 Strength (Might) test, taking 2 minutes per trap.
Regardless of success or failure, a 1 on the Dragon Die breaks one of the traps, reducing the number of arrows the Arrow Catch can block by one.

Note: This stops all arrows, not just enemy arrows.


So each spring trap stops the first arrow that flies within 10 yards and then it stops working until another one is activated? (What I mean to ask is how many arrows each activation stops.)

This one feels a bit odd to be honest, it doesn't feel like Magic to me, it reminds me more of a specific force field effect with mechanical components. Something that a Dwarf would built, practical, but lacking in supernatural meaning.
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Re: Unique Magic Items

Postby shonuff » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:34 pm

The range on the arrow catch seems a bit too high for me. Also, I would probably say that it doesn't have an effect on magical ammo or ammo shot from a magical weapon.
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Re: Unique Magic Items

Postby Elfie » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:50 pm

To clarify on the Arrow Catch:

This is a combination of magic and machine. I'd say that yes, it sounds very dwarven in design.
It contains 8 springs, each of which is capable of stopping a single arrow until it is reset. So if eight arrows are all fired at once, they are all stopped, but the 9th one gets through.

I agree that 10 yards might be a little high. In the book I stole it from, the range is actually in the neighborhood of 15-50 yards depending on the material of the arrow (too complicated to explain here). I considered shortening it to just 2 yards, making it basically only work for one person, but the concept is that a travelling group would only need one of them among themselves to protect from an ambush on the road. Their attackers would lose that element of surprise, giving the travelers a chance to ready themselves.

Also, the larger range provides a bit of a downside. Since it stops ALL moving arrows in range, if your group contains ranged combatants, they have to move away from the Arrow Catch before they can fire their own arrows.


As for history on either item, I haven't come up with anything specific yet, but I like the idea of the Arrow Catch being of dwarven make. The deck of cards is going to come with a list of notes compiled by the previous owners that tell the party how the thing works. I can't reproduce all the different handwriting of the notes here, but this is what the note says:

Only first draw of the day works
Must shuffle before drawing

Face card or Ace: Pocket til morning
Better interactions with
pictured race until sunrise
darkspawn and wraith untested ("darkspawn" is crossed out on the note)
Rock Wraith = undead?

Jokers makes me… uneasy

Numbered cards seem to do nothing?
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Re: Unique Magic Items

Postby Dragon Son » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:14 pm

The deck of cards is going to come with a list of notes compiled by the previous owners that tell the party how the thing works. I can't reproduce all the different handwriting of the notes here, but this is what the note says:

Only first draw of the day works
Must shuffle before drawing

Face card or Ace: Pocket til morning
Better interactions with
pictured race until sunrise
darkspawn and wraith untested ("darkspawn" is crossed out on the note)
Rock Wraith = undead?


That's a really nice idea, I don't have these dragon age cards, and I haven't seen the either, so I can't help you more. An alternate function that they could furfill would be a tool of divination, where a player with the Cunning (x focus) looks at them rolls vs a set TN and can divine things that are about to happen in your story and concern these creatures, or perhaps other events, but I guess this might prove problematic...
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Re: Unique Magic Items

Postby shonuff » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:26 pm

Elfie wrote:Also, the larger range provides a bit of a downside. Since it stops ALL moving arrows in range, if your group contains ranged combatants, they have to move away from the Arrow Catch before they can fire their own arrows.


Right, it's such a large range that I don't think anyone would make it for an adventuring party -- a 60 ft diameter can be difficult to work around. I don't think an adventuring mage would spend the time/energy to make one if it wouldn't be useful.

As to the cards, I've a couple of issues. First, +2 seems a little high. That and I'm unsure of how the races are featured on the cards -- is there a higher probability of one or another? I would think that vs. a certain race could get a little too much into bookkeeping -- if you're climbing, for example, to get away from a darkspawn, does that count? What about certain suits just give a bonus to certain stats. Clubs, for example, could give choice of a bonus to DEX or STR. It could even be further divided into Jacks +1, Queens +2, and Kings +2 to both. I would probably add another negative card -- for a chance based penalty, 1/2% seems a little low for almost a 25% chance of a buff.

If you wanted to make up a chart, you could give other bonuses/hinderances, as well. Re-rolls to different rolls, reduced stunt costs, increased stunt costs, forced re-rolls (taking lower results), etc.

A chart could look something like:

Clubs - Communication, Perception
Diamonds - Cunning, Dexterity
Hearts - Constitution, Strength
Spades - Magic, Willpower

Joker - -2 to all rolls of both aligned stats
Ace - -1 to all rolls of both aligned stats
2 - must re-roll next test of an aligned stat and keep the worse result
3 - combat/magic stunts are increased by 1 SP
4 - exploration stunts are increased by 1 SP
5 - roleplaying stunts are increased by 1 SP
6 - role-playing stunts are reduced by 1 SP
7 - exploration stunts are reduced by 1 SP
8 - combat/magic stunts are reduced by 1SP
9 - May re-roll one test result of aligned stats and keep second result
10 - May re-roll one test result of aligned stats and keep better result
Jack - +1 to rolls of one aligned stat
Queen - +2 to rolls of one aligned stat
King - +2 to rolls of both aligned stats
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Re: Unique Magic Items

Postby Elfie » Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:21 pm

Ah you know what, I think in the book it was probably actually fifty FEET, not yards. So hmm... Maybe just a 6 yard radius. That still can protect a whole group from ambush while still giving ranged people room to get ranged.

For the cards, only face cards, aces, and jokers have characters picture on them. The distribution is not even. I think Darkspawn have an entire suit to themselves, there may be only one dwarf, and I'd say the rest is an even split between humans and elves, plus one rock wraith and one Qunari thrown in. I can get the specific distribution later tonight when I have the cards in front of me. The Jokers are both Flemmeth, one in her human form and one in her dragon form, but since we don't actually know what Flemmeth REALLY is, that's why I made the Jokers work differently.

The +2 is high, but the occurrence of usefulness is limited. 16 times out of 54 (about 30%) you'll actually get a bonus and then you still have to encounter the depicted species for it to be useful.

What situation it applies to is pretty easy. Any opposed test counts as do attack to defensive rolls. Your example of climbing doesn't count. Your target number is based on the difficulty of the climb. It has nothing to do with the darkspawn.

I have no interest in making a chart like the one you listed. The rules for this item should be able to be easily remembered by the person using it. Shuffle and draw and know the effect immediately. I also specifically wanted this item to be able to use the actual Dragon Age deck of cards and have a reason for doing so, hence using the DA-species on the cards as a basis for the effect.
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Re: Unique Magic Items

Postby shonuff » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:19 pm

I think the problem you may run into then is that it's a fun, random mechanic that has a sweet spot early campaign. The +2 would be huge early, but as soon as I got a +7, the +2 wouldn't be worth the miniscule -1. Also, as written, it seems to be primarily a combat buff, I would find a way to make it equally beneficial outside of combat.

Furthermore, IMO, every card drawn should have a result of some kind. The non-result is not drawing in the first place, unless the nature of the item actually forces a PC to draw a card. Obviously, your mileage and goals may vary.
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Re: Unique Magic Items

Postby Elfie » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:25 am

I'm not in early campaign, we're two years in and everyone at level 6. +2 is just fine and if I'm doing my job right as GM, then +2 stays a good boost throughout the campaign. Also, it works just fine outside of combat. There are plenty of social situations where it comes in handy. Pretty much any RP situation works if they've drawn the right card ahead of time.

And no, I don't want this to provide a benefit all the time and I don't want to force people to use it. It's not intended to be a game changer.

For those interested in the distribution of the deck:
6 humans
4 darkspawn
3 elves
1 dwarf
1 qunari
1 wraith
Jokers: Flemmeth Human & Flemmeth Dragon (actual species unknown)

So the highest likelihood is of drawing a human, which is also the highest likelihood of being helpful in a RP situation.
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