Sunday, December 5, 2021
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Band of the Unseen Seen, aka the Other Ring
Description: A plain gold finger ring, easily mistaken for a simple wedding band. Magical senses will detect a strong aura of narrowly-focused divinatory magic, with advanced techniques learning the exact powers below. Even mundane wearers may realize the ring bears some enchantment, as many report an eerie sensation of glimpsing movement just on the edge of vision while wearing it.
Powers: The wearer of this ring can clearly see invisible creatures and objects, although they will seem slightly translucent and glow faintly as long as the invisibility effect is active. It does nothing to help with regular camouflage, stealth skills, or optical illusions that might conceal a subject, although actual invisible subjects that are using any of these are much easier to spot than normal (wearer gets to roll twice and take the better result).
Possible Origins: Unknown, but most likely the product of a wizard who was paranoid about unseen threats, most likely from fellow spellcasters. In any case the enchantment involved has been duplicated by other artificers in more recent ages.
Complications: The wearer has a nagging feeling that something they can't quite see is lurking just out of sight, but this rarely causes more than the occasional nervous twitch in your average adventurer. Unstable or cowardly individuals may suffer from increasing paranoia if they wear the ring for extended periods, made worse if others suggest they remove the ring for a while and relax.
Perhaps more significantly, while wearing the Band of the Unseen Seen the wearer cannot become invisible under any circumstances, with any such effects simply nullified by the ring.
Design Commentary: Very limited utility item but handy when it does come into play.
If your campaign can support some bad referential humor, then the bearer will occasionally be accosted by one to nine mysterious shadowy cloaked figures (often riding black horses) who will demand to see the ring. If fought, they act as whatever wraithlike undead your system favors but dissipate into dark mist (along with their steed, if any) after being struck by a single attack of any kind. If one is allowed to examine the ring, its snorts in disgust, says something to the effect of "Wrong one again!" and they all dissipate at once.
Monday, November 15, 2021
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Axe of the Wood-friend
Description: A sturdy but surprisingly light woodsman's axe, suitable for one or two-handed use. The haft seems to be made of living wood complete with oak-like bark but somehow still provides a sure grip. The axe-head bears elven runes that roughly translate to "Friend of the Wood" and which, in the absence of other light, radiate a pale silver light about equivalent to a torch. Even the most basic of magical senses will detect a very strong aura on enhancement magic.
Powers: The Axe of the Wood-friend is a powerfully enchanted blade (+5 to attack and damage in D&D equivalencies, or on par with the most potent bonuses your campaign allows) that can cleave metal, stone, and living flesh with unnatural ease. However, it deals only half damage (without magical bonuses) against foes dressed in leather or hide armor. The weapon always does minimum damage (again without magical bonuses) to elves, living plants, and any kind of plant creature (eg dryads, ents). Dead (or undead) plant matter takes damage normally, including the magical damage bonus, as do creatures with only natural armor from their hide, shell, or scales.
Possible Origins: These axes are creations of the elves, gifted only to those they trust - but perhaps not completely. The first examples were given to Dwarven allies in days of yore, but many champions of other races who've done service to elven rulers and communities have been similarly rewarded. To date no others have recreated the enchantment, and there's some doubt that a non-elf would wish to do so.
Complications: Whenever a creature is slain by one of these potent axes, the site of its death becomes unnaturally fertile forever after to all forms of plant life. The exact area affected varies with the size and power of the victim, ranging from about a 30' radius for a simple human man at arms up to several square miles for something like an adult dragon.
Vegetation appropriate to the terrain and climate will appear in the area within a few days, growing with unnatural speed and becoming thicker over time. Even unsuitable locales like caverns or bare stone will be overgrown with moss and lichen in short order. Deserts will sprout cacti and wiry scrub, farmland will struggle with weeds and saplings even as their crop yields boom, and open plains will rapidly transform into lush groves of trees. Actual wooded areas become denser, grander, and increasingly "elven" in nature, with exotic plants and sylvan creatures appearing seemingly from nowhere.
All this rampant growth can be controlled or even eradicated through vigorous effort, but outbreaks of swiftly-growing vegetation will recur regularly until suitable ritual countermagics are performed - something that may be violently opposed by any new inhabitants of the area who were drawn by the magics involved.
For reasons that remain unclear, none of these effects occur if the killing was performed by an elf or half-elf wielding the axe, nor do such wielders enjoy any benefits when using it as a weapon. The drawbacks (half damage against certain targets) remain in effect.
Design Commentary: These things are trapped rewards of a peculiarly elven sort. They can hand these axes out to friends without fear of the weapons being turned against them, and every victory won with an Axe of the Wood-friend helps adds a little more potential territory to the elven domains. Also, scrubbing moss off their stonework keeps the Dwarves busy doing things besides cutting down trees and annoying elvenkind.
Monday, October 18, 2021
Description: A small glass bottle with a snug-fitting stopper carved out of bone. Within is a thick black liquid that smells faintly like fresh blood. Radiates a faint aura of transformative magic to magical senses, and any alchemist will easily identify its expected effects.
Powers: When drunk, the user's blood is magically transformed into a black fluid much like the potion itself for the next 1d6 x 1d6 minutes. During this time they take half damage (round down) from any cutting, slashing, or piercing attacks and are completely immune to ongoing damage from blood loss or effects relying on blood drain, although they suffer normally from injected poisons and the like. They don't bleed at all, not even a drop, with any wounds sealing over with a smooth, glossy black membrane that forms into more normal scar tissue when the potion effects end.
Possible Origins: Tar-blood draughts are an alchemical creation favored by mercenaries, swordsmen, and others who care more for survival than beauty. Several formulas for the stuff have been independently discovered, with the most common Dwarven version needing orc blood as a component and the most common orc recipe calling for Dwarf blood. Both can use dragon blood as a substitute (usually at extra expense) and some alchemists claim blood from a bull or similar large, powerful mammal will also do fine. Those alchemists are invariably neither Dwarves nor orc-blooded, both of whom insist their own concoctions are superior in quality.
Complications: While the potion is in effect, all healing effects are halved (round down) and any ongoing regeneration is cancelled completely.
Wounds taken during use will always form scars, and if the user suffers enough damage to drop unconscious they suffer a permanent 5% penalty to all tests for social interactions where their appearance is a factor. This penalty stacks (to a maximum of -15%) if it occurs multiple times over one's career. The penalty might be negated by suitable clothing to hide your scars, or even inverted if dealing with a situation where those scars might impress or intimidate those you're interacting with.
Design Commentary: This stuff's a big help if you're facing enemies with the right types of weapons and worse than useless otherwise. Note that most animal attacks will have their damage halved, but constriction and bludgeoning bypasses the potion's effects. No creature that's gotten even a small taste of the tarry goop running in a user's veins wants another sample, which may discourage repeated bite attacks. Mosquitos, leeches and similar blood-sucking vermin will give a wide berth to anyone who's drunken one of these potions - at least while the effects last.
Saturday, October 16, 2021
Some painted miniatures for use as homebrew critters in Stargrave, and I suppose potentially Frostgrave, Ghost Archipelago, and Rangers of S...
Today's post showcases more of North Star's modular plastic kits, this time the serpent-man boxed set for Ghost Archipelago, along...
This was originally going to be a post about backgrounds in Stargrave, but after thinking about it it didn't seem there was enough to s...
I suspect quite a few folks are still having trouble getting face-to-face games these days, so I thought I'd go through the Stargrave ...