Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Ultimate Sandbox: The Strategic Review #6 part 4

Apologies for the lengthy breaks between posts here. I haven't been particularly into D&D of late (a probable by-product of not being able to play in a while), so getting around to writing these up has been a low priority. But rest assured that I'll keep chugging along – I can't promise to post every day, but I'll try to be a little more frequent and get this out at least a couple of times a week. Anyway, onwards with the remainder of The Strategic Review #6.

MIGHTY MAGIC MISCELLANY: This article presents a number of magic intruments, tied heavily into the Bard flavour from the previous article.

Each of the instruments is connected to one of the Bard Colleges mentioned earlier, and a Bard has to be of that college or higher to use it. If a lesser Bard tries it, he gets the old zappo so common to old-school magic items. A Bard of a higher college gets to use the abilities more than once per day.

It should also be noted that all of these instruments are identical until used – so any Bard who tries to play one won't know if he's high level enough or not. And nothing short of a wish can identify them.

Fochlucan Harp: This harp adds 10% to a Bard's chance to charm someone, and can also cast protection from evil, shield, and continual light, each once per day.

Mac-Fuirmidh Harp: This harp adds 20% to a Bard's chance to charm, and it's got all the abilities of the Fochlucan Harp as well. It can also cast invisibility, but given that the Bard has to play the harp to become invisible it's not so useful – he's likely to be heard. Finally it can be used to cast the Strength spell.

Doss Lyre: Adds 30% to charm, has all the abilities of the Mac-Fuirmidh Harp, and has other abilities too. The first is to cast Fly, but only so long as the Bard can continue to play. There are some nifty rules about how long the Bard can keep it up before collapsing from exhaustion, with the possibility of falling unconscious while in the air. The second ability is to Dispell Magic.

Canaith Lyre: Adds 40% to charm, has all the abilities of the Doss Lyre, yada yada. It can also cast Confusion and Fear, as well as a healing song – handy given the dearth of healing magic in OD&D.

Cli Mandolin: Adds 50% to charm, has all the abilities of the Canaith Lyre. PLUS! It has Telekinesis, and can heal better than the Lyre. PLUS! It contains an elemental! It's not stated what can be done with said elemental, but I assume that it obeys the wielder's commands. The mandolin can cast Remove Curse. It also has a 'song of fire' equivalent to some unspecified 4th level fire spell. The only spell that qualifies is Wall of Fire, which is good enough for me.

The article goes on about these instruments being added to the Miscellaneous Magic Item tables, but then proceeds to not outline where or how. So I'm instead introducing them as revered artifacts of the Bardic tradition. Though I won't rule out finding them in random hordes, they are generally only gifted to Bards who have done some great service for their people (those being the ones connected to the Druids).

BOOT HILL EXPERIMENTAL RULE: Since I'm including Boot Hill in my campaign, any of the various articles need to be introduced as well. This one brings in a rule whereby a character's Bravery score affects his first shot in a gunfight. In theory it's a great rule, but with no knowledge of the Boot Hill system I can't tell how it works in practice. It's a moot point anyway, as I'm going to have to adapt it to work with D&D.

GREYHAWK ERRATA: Hurrah! There were a number of things in Greyhawk that I noticed were missing, or in need of clarification. This article provides the answers I was looking for.

The Homunculus was mentioned in parts of Supplement I, but its entry went missing. Here we learn that it's a small winged humanoid created by an Alchemist and a Magic-User. Created from the M-U's blood (and a lotta cash!) it possesses all of the M-U's knowledge, and has a telepathic link with its master. The little buggers have a bite with sleep poison, but really aren't that formidable in combat – their primary application seems to be that of a spy. But if it's killed, the M-U suffers 2-20 damage. I'll introduce the Homunculus as a servant of some NPC Wizard in the dungeons – and if the PCs find his notes they'll learn how to create one as well.

The Golem entry gets a proper intro now, which does little except state that Golems are created by powerful magic-users. But at least now the Flesh Golem has hit points and a movement rate.

The Rod of Resurrection gets its entry fixed – it resurrects like a 15th level Cleric, can be used but once per day, and has 20 charges.

The Gem of Seeing, while present on the tables, did not get a write up. We learn here that it lets the user see hidden and invisible things, as well as secret doors.

Strangely, the Gauntlets of Dexterity get errata which is exactly the same as the write-up in my version of Supplement I.

And that's it for The Strategic Review #6, which I thought would be done in a single day but ended up stretched over a couple of weeks. Next time I delve into #7, which has Gary writing about D&D magic, more Boot Hill NPCs, some DM advice about building towns, magic items, monsters, Tekumel, more Gary and plenty of other stuff not really about D&D.

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