Monday, May 2, 2011

Holmes & Cook: More on Magic Items

I realized today that I forgot to mention in my last post ye auld Ring of Protection (ROP). In Homes, the ROP +1 not only gives the wearer a +1 to their saves, but actually acts like platemail +1! Cook mentions an ROP +1 with a 5'r. This merely improves AC by 1 in addition to the saving throw bonus. Holmes' version may sound a tad bit on the powerful side, but remember that Magic Users don't have Dex bonuses for their AC and neither Holmes nor Cook has any Bracers of Defense. Therefore, in my amalgam of Holmes and Cook, I would include regular ROPs (as current magic); ROPs that have a 5'r. as well as an inferred version that acts as chainmail+1 (intermediary); and Holmes' platemail +1 version (ancient).

I'd also like to point out that the table for Scrolls in Homes has three very intriguing entries:
  • Any potion spell except delusion or poison
  • Any ring spell except wishes or regeneration
  • Any wand spell
What I find particularly interesting about this is that these are treated as spells. Thus, when one gets to considering higher level spells, all of the various potion, ring and wand effects need to be there is some shape or form.

Finally, looking at both Holmes and Cook there are quite a few cursed items. The first time my current group came across a cursed item in my Lost Colonies campaign, they quibbled because they couldn't understand why anyone would make a cursed item — why waste all that time and effort to make something you are never going to use? I consider this a very good question. Fortunately, Holmes and Cook imply an answer.

When blending the magic items from Holmes and Cook, I have found it necessary to create three "eras" of magic: current, intermediary and ancient. Each of these represents a magic-using civilization with each successor being farther removed from the wonder that was the ancient era. Thus, it can be inferred that much knowledge has been lost. This is where cursed items come in. They represent attempts by people to re-create items of another age; however, these attempts fail and the result is a cursed item. They continue to float around, because their makers fail to understand their error and assume that their creation does what it was designed to do — normally to their own demise. Thus, cursed items abound — waiting to place their curse on anyone who is foolish enough to use them.


Christopher said...

Interesting. I really like that explanation for cursed items. I'd always just assumed they were booby traps for would-be thieves.

FrDave said...

I'd always just assumed they were booby traps for would-be thieves.
I think the main issue I have with cursed items is the motivation to make them. Why waste all that time to create cursed armor -1 when you could be creating a trap to kill/capture all those would-be thieves? Why would any one want to do that? On the other hand, I can see a lot of people really wanting to make armor +1. +2. etc. As with all creative endeavors, this is not always going to work. What happens to those failures? Now I have an answer...

Christopher said...

I agree. Your explanation makes much more sense for creating magic items. Hmm… this also means that if players try to create magic items and fail, they may have just created a cursed item for themselves!

The Jovial Priest said...

I like your take on curses FrDave.

You might wish to check out my two recent posts on cursed swords and scrolls - different to yours, but I hope you enjoy none-the-less.