Saturday, October 12, 2019

Three seasonally-appropriate magic items

As work continues on the Heroic Legendarium one of the additions I've made to balance the material I cut is about 30 new magic items. Looking over these, I realized that at least a few of them are seasonally appropriate to Halloween, in a way that would both make for a nice post here to remind people that this blog still exists, and also a preview of things to come once the new book is released, of the 40% or so of the final page count that will be made up of new, original material that wasn't in the previous version. So, without any further ado:

Animated Puppet: This wooden puppet stands 30 inches tall, but can be folded to fit inside a 1’ x 1’ x 6” box, which is how it is most likely to initially be found. If detected, the puppet radiates an aura of alteration magic. A command word is carved onto the back of the puppet’s head in magical runes. If spoken, the puppet animates and will follow the orders of its master, with the following stats: MV 15, AC 4, HD 2+4, hp 20, #AT 2 or 1, dmg 1-2/1-2 or by weapon, SA hide in shadows 75%, SD +1 or better weapon to hit, immune to piercing and blunt damage and mind-affecting spells (but see below), susceptible to normal fire, +1 dmg/die from magical fire. The puppet can wield a knife or dagger in each hand with no penalty, may throw knives, daggers, darts, or throwing stars, or may wield a larger melee weapon (up to shortsword size) two-handed. The puppet follows the orders it is given unfailingly to the best of its ability, however, every time it is activated there is a cumulative 5% chance that it will become alive and free-willed, in which case its Intelligence score is determined by a roll of 2d6+6 and its alignment is determined as follows:

1 lawful good
2 neutral good
3 chaotic good
4 lawful neutral
5-6 neutral
7 chaotic neutral
8 lawful evil
9 neutral evil
0 chaotic evil

The now-living puppet has complete memories of its former pre-life, and depending on how its alignment corresponds with that of its owner it may continue to serve, may attempt to escape, or may plot to murder its former master. To any of those ends, the puppet may choose not to reveal its new status, as even after it comes to life the puppet does not breathe or require food or water, and can remain perfectly still for as long as it chooses.

Puzzle Box: Only six of these objects are known to exist in the multiverse. They were created in eons past by infernal beings, originally as protectors for their soul objects, but may hold other treasures by now. Each puzzle box is a 1’ cube of meteoric metal chased with intricate inlays and patterns - each box is unique in design and distinct in appearance from the others. All of them radiate alteration magic and strong evil if detected. 

The box is opened by twisting and shifting parts of the box in order to arrange the pattern in such a manner to unlock the box. Because of the complexity and intricacy of the pattern, finding the correct combination of moves is extremely difficult and requires three rolls of the character attempting to open the box’s intelligence score or less - the first rolled on 4d6, the second on 5d6, and the final roll on 6d6. A successful Remove Traps roll or Legend Lore (spell or bard ability roll) will reduce the total of one roll by 1d6 (roll all dice normally, then roll an additional 1d6 and subtract it from the total of the first roll). One week of study and research provides a -1 adjustment on one roll (up to a maximum -6 per roll). The box must be physically grasped by an intelligent creature in order to manipulate and attempt to open it, and cannot be operated by means of telekinesis, an unseen servant, a mechanical contraption, or any other means besides direct physical contact. The individual holding the box may follow directions from another as to how to manipulate the box, in which case the intelligence score of the character providing the directions is used in place of the character holding the box. However, if that individual is not operating under their own free will (i.e. if they have been charmed, possessed, hyptonitized, dominated, etc.) then an additional d6 is added to the roll to reflect the partial disconnect between that individual’s mind and body.

Failed attempts to open the box produce cumulative effects. The first failed roll produces no ill effect in itself. However, the second failed roll creates a feeling of foreboding and the character holding the box will have a  -1 penalty on their next saving throw). If that character makes another failed attempt to open the box, on each failed attempt starting with the third, a roll is made on the following table to determine what occurs:

1 the box shifts and resets (erasing all prior successes)
2 the box holder is struck by a poison needle (save at -4 or die)
3 the box releases an acidic cloud (6-36 damage to the holder, 2-12 to all within 10’; save vs breath for half damage)
4 The box-holder is teleported away (1-2 100-1000’ in a random direction; 3-4 100-1000 miles in a random direction; 5-6 to another (randomly determined) plane)
5 The box-holder’s soul is trapped within box and replaced in that character’s body by the soul of last victim trapped by the box
6 A Gate is opened to the box’s creator

Only a wish can reset the count of failed attempts (and even a wish will only provide one success and will not automatically open the box).

If successfully opened, the box reveals an extra-dimensional space of 10’ x 10’ x 10’ size. Anything (or anyone) stored within that space will have been held in a state of temporal stasis that is automatically broken when the box is opened, but reinstated on anything within the space once the box is resealed. The GM must determine what will be contained within the box when it is first discovered - whether a demon’s or devil’s soul object, a hoard of treasure, one or more imprisoned beings, or something else altogether.

Anyone who successfully opens a box once can open that box again without requiring any additional rolls (barring exceptional circumstances such as the individual having his or her memory wiped) but if such a character attempts to open a different puzzle box then the normal process of rolls must be followed again.

Skeleton Key: This device appears to be an ordinary skeleton key made out of bone and approximately six inches long. It radiates alteration and faint conjuration/summoning magic if detected, and also radiates an aura of evil. It will infallibly open any mechanical lock and is 90% likely to open any magical lock unless set by a wizard of 21st level or higher. It can be used once per day safely, but every use beyond that has a cumulative 1-in-6 chance that the portal or object opened will reveal not to its normal location or contents but instead is a gate to the Fourth Hell, where those whose sin was greed meet their punishment. The individual who opened the gate thus is subject to immediate judgment by the devil Belial. A lawful evil character who immediately swears fealty to Belial (or a lawful neutral or neutral evil character who is willing to change alignment and swear fealty) will be geased to perform some service to Belial in order to prove their worthiness. Any other character will be dragged down to Hell by a company of 1-4 bearded devils to face eternal torment unless they are able to defeat the devils in combat or have some other means of escape. In either case the key will disappear, having been reclaimed by its master to be re-seeded on some other world. 


  1. I like all those items. The puppet has intriguing potential in a DMs hands, and you know players will push their luck with the key! I think juxtaposing creepy elements is underused in D&D, or was more cheesy than creepy (thinking 90s Ravenloft). A wizardess in my dungeon has a fascination with porcelain dolls to similar (but different) effects.

    Glad to hear the book is progressing; this new material added to what was new previously will be fun to play.

  2. These are great. I particularly like the puzzle box failure result that swaps the character's soul with the last trapped victim's. Hi-jinks ensure.

    1. Thanks! Trying to think of the different ways each of these items could be used in a game and all the consequences and complications that might ensue was a lot of fun.

  3. The skeleton key is especially delicious. I think there's a lot of potential in this kind of quasi-cursed magical object that is clearly sinister, but has a sufficiently potent benefit to tempt incautious players into over use.

  4. For a second, I thought the puppet was going to be a BURN WITCH BURN puppet (Like the ones in PENNY DREADFUL season 2). This is more like the original version of Pinocchio. Well, except the part about the weapons. ;)