DEPARTMENTS

Monday, November 23, 2009

[Elf Bait #2] Humble Magic Items

Some of my favorite magic items in books and movies are the lesser items. There is something charming and endearing about these sorts of magic items and their humble abilities. Often made from unassuming materials and barely recognizable as magic items they are the stuff of hedge wizards, hermits, local priest, herbalists and witches. Simple charms, wands, local brews, all these things often get overlooked in a game but can add much in the way of depth and character to any campaign.

I have used these in my own games to great effect. I find that they help establish local feel and ethnic/regional concepts and ideals in a campaign setting. It doesn't take a lot to come up with a good simple magic item either. Pick a humble item with a bit of character - a charm, a drink, perhaps even an article of clothing and then give it some little, useful but not overly powerful ability. When I am creating these items, I tend to give them some sort of quirk as well. Drinks can be given unsavory flavors or slight side effects, ill odors, or being particularly volatile if exposed. Other items may be made awkward to carry or perhaps delicate, even unsafe.

Here are a few items I have created for my own campaigns -

Yakush Milk
Normally toxic the milk of the Yakush of Ravania can be distilled into a bitter, bracing brew that while being intoxicating, also provides the drinker with protection from the cold. This does not provide protection of cold-based attacks but does prevent harm from the environmental effects of cold temperatures well below freezing. A single dose of Yakush Milk will last the drinker six hours.

Graza Beans
Growing on stringy fines beneath stopped rock on the wind-swept chilled plains of eastern Ravania, these beans are a dry, pasty and wholly without much in the way of taste of any sort. They have in fact been described as tasting less interesting than the dirt they sprout from. A hand full of Graza Beans will fulfill the daily nourishment for a single person for an entire day, but have the unfortunate trait of not doing anything to counter the feelings and discomfort of hunger.

Liar's Cheese
This unassuming but tasty cheese hails from the lands of the Merchant Princes and has its origins as a tool for aiding in negotiation. It has over time spread throughout the Grey Lands and found a place in other areas besides commerce. This fame is all due to the fact that Liar's Cheese renders its eater incapable of telling a lie as if under the effects of a Truth spell.

There have been others, but this gives you a general idea of what I'm talking about. Give it a whirl and I think you'll find your players are feeling the world a bit more.

Take care,
-Eli

2 comments:

  1. Love this article! I use similar items in my Forgotten Realms campaign. I think the player's favorite is a wine that my wife's family makes "Starfire Apple Wine" which when lit produces a dazzling display of illusionary magic and tastes of sour apple.

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  2. Thanks man!

    I really like that. I will be posting some more articles on adding a sense of place and culture to your settings.

    -Eli

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