Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: Supplement I - Greyhawk Part 8

And now we come to the section of items that is always the most interesting - miscellaneous! It holds up the Supplement I tradition of utterly brutal cursed items, as well as providing some other mainstays. This is a long section folks - expect it to eat up a couple of days.

CRYSTAL HYPNOSIS BALL: Whoever tries to use this item will be hypnotised, and if there is a Magic Mouth on the ball, he'll carry out any orders the mouth gives.

MEDALLION OF THOUGHT PROJECTION: It looks like an ESP Medallion, but it actually projects your thoughts whenever you try and use it - meaning your enemies know exactly what you're thinking.

AMULET OF INESCAPABLE LOCATION: It looks like it would protect you from scrying, but instead it makes finding you via scrying a certainty. I could see some uses for this, but its intent is as a cursed item, I feel.

SCARAB OF ENRAGING ENEMIES: Causes all enemies with a 6' radius to become enraged, which may not be all bad - they might attack friend as well as foe. But it does make them fight to the death.

SCARAB OF INSANITY: Makes all creatures nearby go totally insane, with the mechanical effect left up in the air.

SCARAB OF DEATH: Ooh, this one's just nasty. It looks like a magic brooch but when held or worn or stored in a backpack, it turns into a beetle and burrows its way into your heart. Ouch.

BAG OF TRICKS: It's a bag see, but when you reach in you can pull out any one of a random selection of animals. It might be a bear, or it might be a jackal. I'm a big fan of randomized magic items like this - any magic item that might save your ass or doom you depending on the roll is a good thing for the game - there's always a bit of tension when it gets whipped out. This one is pretty useful all around though.

BEAN BAG: This bag has beans in it, and if you plant them you might get treasure or you might get a monster or a curse. This one is explicitly left up to the DM to adjudicate.

BAG OF TRANSMUTING: It's like a Bag of Holding, but it turns precious metals into lead - the obvious intent being that PCs will try to store their coins in here.

BAG OF DEVOURING: Another personal favourite - it's 'actually the extension of an extra-dimensional monster'. Anything that goes inside will be eaten, but look out when giving this to PCs - it can make a pretty effective offensive weapon.

CENSOR OF SUMMONING HOSTILE AIR ELEMENTALS: You think you're summoning an Air Elemental to help you, but... no, it's just going to kill you instead. Beautiful in its simplicity.

LUCKSTONE: This makes the wearer more lucky, by giving him a bonus to rolls for treasure division - you know, when the players are dicing to see who gets first pick of magic items. My current players usually just give stuff to whoever wants it and discuss any disputes, so this would be pretty useless to them.

LOADSTONE: Ha ha, see what Gary did there? It seems to be a Luckstone until you're fleeing from monsters, at which time it gets really heavy and slows your movement. Is it just me, or was Gary having a lot of fun thinking these up?

BRAZIER OF SLEEP SMOKE: Gary was really digging cursed items that at first appear to be useful ones. This one looks like it could command Fire Elementals, but when used the smoke it emits puts everyone into a permanent sleep, that can only be negated by Dispell Magic. Cue the wandering monster checks...

BOWL OF WATERY DEATH: Love this one. Again, it looks like an elemental summoning item, but when used the wielder shrinks and is plunged into the bowl - where he is likely to drown unless the shrinking is magically negated somehow.

BOOTS OF DANCING: Again they appear useful, until you have to flee - then they make you start dancing. (One such dance named is a Shuffle off to Buffalo, and I honestly have no idea what Gary is going on about here. It's just his weird sense of humour, I think.)

FLASK OF CURSES: A curse is loosed when this bottle is opened - as usual for OD&D curses, the DM is encouraged to get crafty.

JUG OF ALCHEMY: Pours forth whatever liquid the user desires. The intent seems to be for regular liquids - water, oil, acid, etc. Naturally occuring stuff. Wine is named, and presumably beer would be available as well - sweet. But what I wonder is whether you can use it to create endless streams of magic potions. I would say the answer is no, but the possibility isn't nixed. And hey, a non-cursed item!

DECANTER OF ENDLESS WATER: When you open it, water comes out and it never stops. This is probably one of the most versatile items out there - there are any number of uses it can be put to. Just remember it only puts out about 1 gallon per minute - flooding dungeons will be a slow process.

BEAKER OF PLENTIFUL POTIONS: Contains a number of potion types that can each be poured forth once per week. A nice space saver, I guess, and reusable potions are always handy.

ANIMATED BROOM: Ah, cursed items how I missed you. It's another screw-job in disguise, as this appears to be a broom of flying until you try to use it - then it attacks you mercilessly. Killing a PC with a broom sounds all kinds of amusing.

HELM OF BRILLIANCE: First off, this thing is set with gems and worth 50,000 gp, so it's pretty good just as treasure. But the awesome far outweighs any monetary value: it gives double-strength fire resistance, can create a Wall of Fire, allows Fighters to create a flaming sword at will, and lets Magic-Users add +1 damage per die on Fire Balls. Clerics get a small benefit as well, being able to cast double their normal quota of light spells and also set flammable objects alight. And to top it off, it makes fire-using creatures friendlier to you. Sure, it's at the cost of alienating cold-users, but who's afraid of them? It's the fire-guys you gotta look out for.

RUG OF SMOTHERING: Wraps around any poor bugger that sits on it and suffocates them.

DRUMS OF DEAFNESS: Deafens anyone nearby when it is struck.

HORN OF COLLAPSING: When you blow it, the roof collapses on your head. If you're out in the open, rocks fall on you from nowhere. Not even logic can withstand Gary's cursed items.

HORN OF VALHALLA: Summons berserk warriors from Valhalla to fight for you, and that's the first mention of that realm in D&D so far - another piece of the D&D cosmology falls into place. There are three different strengths here - Silver, Iron and Bronze - and each one respectively summons a more powerful type of berserker than the last.

HORN OF BUBBLES: Hahahaha. You think it's going to summon awesome berserkers that will make you look bad-ass, but instead it summons bubbles that obscure your vision and make you look like a tool.

GAUNTLETS OF FUMBLING: Gauntlets of Fumbling! Cursed Item in Disguise! When your character's life is at stake, the gauntlets make you drop things and lose 2-5 Dexterity. Like most cursed items, you'll need Remove Curse to take them off.

GAUNTLETS OF SWIMMING AND CLIMBING: Swim as a Merman and climb as a 9th Level Thief. Nifty.

GAUNTLETS OF DEXTERITY: +2 Dex, no limitations - though they'd be pretty useless to a character who was already at 18, as no bonuses for stats that high as yet in the game.

GIRDLE OF FEMININITY/MASCULINITY: It maeks you think you're getting the much-coveted Girdle of Giant Strength, but in actual fact it just changes your sex, and can only be removed with a Wish. I've found that there's little in D&D that gets you mocked more than putting one of these on - although I've never seen it happen to a female player.

NECKLACE OF MISSILES: Each bead on this necklace can be detached and hurled as a fire ball. And I have always said that you can't have enough fire balls.

NECKLACE OF STRANGULATION: When you put it one it strangles you to death in a few rounds - and you need Wish or Limited Wish to remove it! Harsh. Barring wishes from items, you're going to need at least a 14th level Wizard around to save your ass.

POISONOUS CLOAK: Speaking of arbitrary... You put this cloak on and you are DEAD, no saving throws, no take-backs and definitely no whining. It basically guarantees that once found players will never try a cloak again, seeing as how OD&D has no means for identifying items before you try them out. This one I find just a bit too cursed. Plus, you'll suffer through hours upon hours of the PCs trying to sneak up behiond their enemies and put it on them.

MIRROR OF MENTAL PROWESS: A scrying device that can do clairaudience, clairvoyance and ESP, as well as answering one question per week about any image summoned to its surface. Mirror Mirror on the wall...

MIRROR OF OPPOSITION: If you look in it, a duplicate of you jumps out and attacks. This happened to a character of mine, and he was killed by himself - it was awesome.

TRIDENT OF WARNING: Lets its user know when A) there are hostile sea creatures about; B) how far away they are; C) how many of them there are; and D) whether the user is going to need a bigger boat.

TRIDENT OF COMMANDING WATER CREATURES: Like a Staff of Commanding, but for fishes and other watery types.

TRIDENT OF SUBMISSION: Any creature hit by this must make a saving throw or instantly surrender. Very nasty.

TRIDENT OF YEARNING: The holder of this weapon gets the urge to immerse himself in the nearest deep body of water - but it doesn't give him the ability to breathe once he's in there.

EYES OF CHARMING: Contact lenses that let you charm like a Vampire.

EYES OF PETRIFICATION: "Cool, I'll be able to turn monsters to stone like a Medusa!" Ah, no actually, they turn you to stone when you put them on. Sorry!

GEM OF BRIGHTNESS: If you look in this gem it is so bright that you get a penalty of 1-4 on attack rolls - permanently. It's easily healed, though. And it's not all bad - you can direct a beam with it to blind your enemies.

JEWELS OF ATTACK UPON THE OWNER: Well, that's a mouthful even for Gary. It doubles the chance of random encounters appearing, so don't go adventuring with the guy wo has it.

BRACERS OF DEFENSE: They function in place of armor, allowing magic-users and thieves to get their defenses up a bit.

BRACERS OF DEFENSELESSNESS: Lowers your Armor Class to 12. Which in OD&D is very bad - in fact there are no charts to even tell you how to hit this number. I'll need to make some numbers up for sure.

ROPE OF ENTANGLEMENT: A rope that can wrap around a whole bunch of dudes.

ROPE OF CLIMBING: Climbs stuff and fastens itself at your command.

ROPE OF CONSTRICTION: Another classic from Gary - when you try to use it like the two ropes above, it wraps around you and any of your mates nearby and crushes you all to death. It's great the way this thing is just a TPK waiting to happen.

Out of the 49 items listed above, a full 30 of them are cursed in some fashion. It's a massive shift in the tone of the game from OD&D, where pretty much everything in the book is useful. OD&D with the Greyhawk supplement is a much more adversarial game than without.

Tomorrow I'll be finishing up with Miscellaneous Magic, and wrapping up the Greyhawk supplement in general.


jamused said...

Shuffle off to Buffalo is a tap-dance step...if I'm picturing it correctly it's the one that Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd do when they're exiting the stage. So yes, it's Gary's peculiar sense of humor, but it's more apropos than a completely random dance.

Nathan P. Mahney said...

I suppose so - PCs affected by this item could end up 'exiting the stage' quite easily...