Saturday, November 19, 2016

Gamer ADD: Monster Manual II Part 8

Magic Items

Something I never did when I hypothesized a Moldvay Basic D&D with a Fiend Folio monster section was to see how that would affect the magic items detailed in the Treasure section. This was largely due to the fact that the magic items were fairly portable and made sense. Ironically, an MMII-based treasure section needs to be addressed because there are several magic items that require some kind of re-imagining.

Specifically, there are three items in Moldvay that have no meaning in an MMII world:
  • Sword +1, +2 against lycanthropes
  • Scrolls of Protection from Lycanthropes
  • Gauntlets of Ogre Power
While there are lycanthropes in the MMII (foxwomen, seawolves and weresharks), they are either too powerful for a basic edition or would be better suited for an expert edition with its emphasis on wilderness exploration. Thus, there are no lycanthropes in the monster list that would appear in an MMII-based basic edition. Thus, any items specifically created to fight them are rendered irrelevant. In addition, the only ogres in the MMII are aquatic. Thus, like the MMII lycanthropes, they are far more appropriate for an expert edition. Therefore, this item needs to have a different reference point.

There are also a number of magic items that do not have the same import in an MMII world that they do in a normal D&D world:
  • Sword +1, +3 against undead
  • Sword +1, +3 against dragons
  • Scroll of Protection from Undead
  • Spell Scrolls
  • Potion of Growth
As I have mentioned before, undead are scarce in the MMII and almost all of them are walking corpses created by necromancers. They do not have the frightening abilities that normal D&D undead do: level-draining, paralysis and disease. Thus, there really isn’t the same kind of incentive to create a magic item specifically designed to defeat them.

Unlike the MMI and the FF, the MMII does do not offer up a traditional view of dragons. Cloud and mist dragons are neutral creatures that literally live in the sky, far away from the cares of the world. Faerie dragons are small creatures that pose more of a threat as a spell users than as a fire-breathing monster. Shadow dragons are one of the few creatures in the MMII that have any kind of level-draining powers and certainly do not go around burning down villages.

As a consequence, there really wouldn’t be the same kind of demand for swords specifically made to fight these creatures.

Spell scrolls in Moldvay are specifically arcane in nature and are therefore listed as “magic-user/elf.” While I probably would not change this item at all for an MMII-based basic edition, it is worth noting that the only PCs that could use these are magic-users.

Finally, it should also be noted that a Potion of Growth is basically a watered-down version of what an MMII-dwarf PC can already do. This raises a question as to how these potions are created (from dwarf blood?) and how dwarves would feel about their existence and use.

The biggest generalized threat in an MMII-world are arcane spell users: necromancers, fey, chaotic elves, chaotic dwarves, faerie dragons and elementals. Thus, there would be a demand for Scrolls of Protection and Swords that did well against spell users. The latter already exists in Moldvay, but is a +1/+2 weapon. In an MMII world, this should be a +1/+3 weapon.

In terms of disease, mind control and being transformed into a minion, the biggest threat in an MMII world are plants and fungi. Items designed to fight these creatures would replace those originally intended to fight the undead.

It should be mentioned that there is a substantial reptilian threat in an MMII world. Dinosaurs and Ophidians are nothing to sneeze at.

Finally, the only basic-edition friendly creatures in the MMII that could inspire the idea of strength in the same way an ogre does is the cyclopskin. Without any other cyclops available to be kin to, however, I am just going to call them cyclops.

Therefore, here is a list of magic items that would be found in an MMII basic edition and the items they replace:

  • Sword +1, +2 vs. reptiles replaces Sword +1, +2 vs. lycanthropes
  • Sword +1, +2 vs. dragons replaces Sword +1, +2 vs. spell users
  • Sword +1, +3 vs. plants replaces Sword +1, +3 vs. undead
  • Sword +1, +3 vs. spell users replaces Sword +1, +3 vs. dragons
  • Scroll of Protection from Plants replaces Scroll of Protection from Lycanthropes
  • Scroll of Protection from Spell Users replaces Scroll of Protection from Undead
  • Gauntlets of Cyclops Strength replaces Gauntlets of Ogre Power

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