Friday, January 09, 2009

Throw the what into the crack of what?


Artifacts and relics are virtually impervious to magical and physical harm and each may only be “destroyed” by a single legendary means. Frequently, the supposed “destruction” is actually a form of nullification or containment of the artifact/relic, but results in the neutralization of its powers for vast periods of time. The following table suggests various means that might apply to the destruction of an artifact/relic and is open to additions and alterations by the DM. No artifact/relic should have the same nemesis as another; though the means may be the same, the specifics should vary. It should be kept in mind that the means of destruction are as a rare and unattainable as are the artifacts/relics themselves. Actively seeking the destruction of an artifact/relic is tedious, demanding, and fraught with great perils to body and soul, and the chances of surviving the destruction of the artifact/relic are minute without the grace of the gods.

The way to destroy a particular artifact/relic is to:

1. Melt it down in the fiery furnace, pit, mountain, forge, crucible or kiln in which it was created.

2. Drop it into or bury it beneath (1) the Well of Time, (2) the Abyss, (3) the Earth Wound, (4) Adonais’ Deep, (5) the Spring of Eternity, (6) Marion’s Trench, (7) the Living Stone, (8) Mountain of Thunder, (9) 100 adult red dragon skulls, (10) the Tree of the Universe.

3. Cause it to be devoured by (1) Cerebus, (2) a Lernaean Hydra, (3) a Titan, (4) an ancient Dragon Turtle.

4. Cause it to be broken against/by or crushed by (1) Talos, a triple iron golem, (2) the Gates of Hell, (3) the Cornerstone of the World, (4) Artur’s Dolmen, (5) the Juggernaut of the Endless Labyrinth, (6) the heel of a god, (7) the Crashing Rocks, (8) the foot of a humble ant.

5. Expose it to the penetrating light and flame of (1) the Ray of Eternal Shrinking, (2) the Sun, (3) Truth: that which is pure will become Light, that which is unpure will surely wither.

6. Cause it to be steeped in either the encephalic fluids of the brain of Bahamut (the platinum dragon), or in the black and foul blood from the heart of Tiamat, the chromatic dragon.

7. Cause it to be seared by the odious flames of Geryon’s destroyed soul or disintegrated in the putrid ichor of Juiblex’s deliquescing flesh.

8. Sprinkle it with/baptize it in the (1) Well of Life, (2) River Styx, (3) River of Flame, (4) River Lethe (the river of forgetfulness).

Legended items and regions should be placed by the DM in his or her own milieu in isolated locales – preferably warded by mighty mythical and magical guardians (e.g., the serpent which guarded the golden fleece).
All that’s taken from page 164 of the first edition Dungeon Masters Guide. I love this list. Here are some of my random thoughts, by entry.

1. What treachery is this? Could this be Gygax making a Lord of the Rings reference? Impossible! Everyone knows that Tolkien was but a minor influence on D&D! But more seriously, I like this option because it makes the DM think about where the artifact was created. And I get a kick out of pondering what sort of unholy kiln could create magical hands and eyeballs.

2. Dropping an artifact into the Abyss really speaks to me. It suggests that the Abyss isn’t just a place where demons live, rather it’s literally a hole in creation. Like a black hole but on a more cosmic scale. And what’s at the bottom of the hole? Is there a bottom? Only the bodaks know and they can’t or won’t tell you. 100 adult red dragon skulls seems like an easy one to me. Couldn’t you just use repeated polymorph spells to farm red dragons? Are the rest of the place entries references or did Gary just pull them out of his ass? I need to get googling.

3. The prospect of the PCs trying to figure out how to feed the Machine of Lum the Mad to Cerebus just makes me smile. At least you know where to find the critter, even if you don’t really want to go there. Lernaean Hydras and Titans are interesting choices here, since you can just encounter them on the wandering monster charts. By ‘ancient’ Dragon Turtle I assume the draconic definition of ‘ancient’, i.e. maximum hit points. Maybe you could follow one of Apesh’s maps to destroy your artifact.

4. By ‘triple iron golem’ I assume that Gygax means an iron golem with three times as many hit points and three times as large, but I’d be up for a three-headed golem myself, maybe with three bodies joined shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder. Crushing something with the Gates of Hell would be a neat idea. I kind of imagine that Ol’ Scratch likes to keep them open to welcome all comers, so you’d probably have to fight the bad guys before you could close them. Is Artur’s Dolmen at Stonehedge? Should I start rolling percentile dice every time PCs encounter ants, to see if any of them are humble?

5. Given that my campaign setting includes space travel as an option, dropping an artifact into the Sun wouldn’t necessarily be that hard. Just go to the spaceport and hire a cab. I don’t know which I find more intriguing, the idea of Eternally Shrinking something or the fact that in the middle of this section Gygax suddenly waxes philosophic on the nature of Truth.

6. The typical Lawful character in my campaign would probably balk at this one. You’re basically telling them that to destroy an artifact they need to first kill God, or possibly Satan.

7. This entry is pure poetry. “The Odious Flames of My Destroyed Soul” should be the name of a ridiculous goth band.

8. I like how Uncle Gary goes to the trouble to remind us what the River Lethe does. In case we forgot.

Have any Gameblog readers played in a campaign where someone destroyed an artifact using one of the methods Gygax lists? Have any DM’s out there put Adonais’ Trench or the Cornerstone of the World on their campaign maps? I’m thinking of putting one or two of these strange places onto my hexmap, just ‘cause I can.