Thursday, August 19, 2010

Open Call: minor artifacts & relics

Last week I talked a little about artifacts and relics as they appear in Eldritch Wizardry and the 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide.  I think it's time we all did something about the paucity of lesser artifacts in that mold.  What I propose is that everyone interested write up one or two new artifacts, I'll stitch 'em together and publish the result as a free download and at-cost book on Lulu.  For the benefit of people who don't own the original books, I'll tack on an OGL version of the fill-in-the-blank powers list.

To submit an artifact you can email me (jrients, gmail, etc, etc.), post it as a comment here, or put it somewhere else and send me the link (via email or comment here).  By submitting you are granting me perpetual permission to print your material, properly credited, in both the print and electronic format of the resulting book, but you retain rights to use it anywhere else you wish.  Here's the format I'd like to see:

[name of artifact]
by [how you want to be credited]

[one or two paragraphs of text]

2 x class I power
1 x class II power

The main text should mostly function as a brief history or origin story of the item.  Try to suggest a lot of cool stuff rather than specify a few points exactly.  Don't assign your artifact a bunch of powers in the text, as that's what the customization rules are for.  It's okay to say something brief at the end like "The Key of Qugnar can be used to automically open any wizard locked door along with the following powers:" or "The Shimmering Cloak functions as a cloak of protection +2 in addition to the powers listed below."  But try not to go overboard on the power level, as the point of the project is to provide less extreme uses of the artifact and relic rules than already attested in the rules.  If you are assigning more than five power slots (including drawbacks)to your item, you're probably overdoing it.  And don't start with an item that's already at near-artifact levels and add stuff (no "Ruprick's Mallet has all the powers of a hammer of thunderbolts plus the following:", please).  Please note that if you go overboard with powers or get too wordy I will brutally edit that sucker.

Class V abilities are the big guns of the artifact world.  As such, their use will be limited in the proposed volume.  If you want to submit an item with a class V power, you must meet the following criteria:
  • You must submit at least one other artifact that does NOT have a class V power.
  • Your item with a class V power must also come with a class IV curse.
  • No item may have more than one class V power.
I want to make this "class V power" stuff as clear as possible so that folks who don't own the old books can still play along.  To keep the players guessing as to the powers of these ultimate magic items their coolest powers were expressed as a series of blanks like this:

3 x I ___ ___ ___
2 x II ___ ___
1 x V ___

At the end of the section was a list showing 30 or so powers for each category.  These powers all had a letter code assigned to them.  The idea was that the DM could pick the letter codes and mark in their own copies what specific powers the items possessed.  So in the above example one DM's copy of the book might say:

3 x I _C_ _G_ _DD_
2 x II _D_ _J_
1 x V _R_

Which would indicate, according to the DMG tables, that this particular artifact granted the following powers:
Audible Glamour 3/day, Color Spray 3/day, Possessor Immune to Fear
Cause Serious Wounds by touch, Cure Disease by touch
Prismatic Spray 1/day

But another DM's book would have a different set of powers assigned, so even if your PC found the Eye of Vecna there's no sure way of knowing what the crap it does except by trial and error, consulting sages, divination, etc.  The five categories of powers break down like this:
class I - Minor Benign Powers
class II - Major Benign Powers
class III - Minor Malevolent Effects
class IV - Major Malevolent Effects
class V - Prime Powers (the real big time stuff)

In general anything with two or more class I powers probably ought to have at least a class III drawback and anything with a class II power should definitely have one or more drawbacks.  If you don't have the books and don't know what powers to give your item, just write up your item and then copy this down:

1 x I ___
1 x II ___
1 x IV ___

So get crackin'!  Feel free to steal from the ideas I floated last week if you want.  And if you want to send in an illo with your designs, so much the better.  Don't be afraid that you 'can't draw'.  This is meant to be a fun little amateur project.  No big whoop.