Friday, June 14, 2013

EAD Entry from Jesse Butler via apathyblogs - Legendary Weapons for DCC

Edit: Apologies on the way this one looked, I missed the formatting issue when I posted it, correcting now.

Alright, some cross platform action! From Apathy Blogs:

There are a number of features that make Earthdawn an exceptional game. Easily one of the most popular are the Legendary Items. These are the magical items in Earthdawn and what makes them special is the investment in them. It isn't just a +1 sword, +3 vs. reptiles, it is Coldblood and as you learn more about it's history, where it has been, the more powerful it will grow in your hands. Not only that, but ordinary items can become magical if involved in events of significant importance, or the user sacrifices their life for a task. No longer will you have a long parade of magical gear, used only until something with a better bonus comes along.

Luckily for everyone, this mechanic is easily ported into any system. Specifically,Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC) by Goodman Games. The essential elements to a Legendary Item are:

Name: It is a legend, so what is it called?
Description: It is awesome, how does it look?
Back Story: It came from somewhere and is been involved in mighty deeds; how did it come to be and what are the highlights (and lowlights) of its past?
Key Knowledges: These will come from the back story. These are the essential elements that the user needs to learn in order to achieve the next rank.
Deeds: These will come from the back story as well. These are like a Key Knowledge, but instead of learning something, the used must do something relevant to the item's history.
Ranks: These are the cool powers you get as you advance. The good stuff.
Maximum Threads: It's a bit a terminology held over from Earthdawn proper, but it still serves a purpose here. This is the number of people that can have a rank with the item at one time. This number is rarely more than two.
While typically inanimate and uncommunicative (which can only be regarded as agood thing), Legendary Items are still alive in some sense. They have goals in their own way and are able to pull the threads of fate to ensure they are never truly lost and bend things, just a bit, to further their agenda (whatever it may be). This is almost entirely by influencing their user in a subtle fashion. The higher the rank with the Legendary Item, the more pull it has. This all works tremendously well within the DCC magical item frame work.

From the GM's point of view, the Key Knowledges and Deeds represent a way to pace how much power the item has. Most of the Key Knowledge will have to be learned through adventuring to dangerous places and making bargains for this valuable lore. It will be a source of adventure in and of itself. Deeds are prepackaged adventures you are telling the players to do. They will probably do them because there is a prize at the end. While Earthdawn provides a mechanic to learn what you need to learn and/or do next, the same thing doesn't quite exist in DCC. To solve this, I would suggest using the communication between the item and the user - prophetic dreams are always popular. Make them then find a seer to interpret what they have to learn next. The first Key Knowledge is always the name - which makes getting the first rank simple. This is good, because it would be difficult to know where to start otherwise.

Since these Legendary Items work best when tailored to a particular campaign, I'm going to take some very classic magical items and turn them into Legendary Items that could be inserted into any game. To keep it nice and classic, we're going to do a quick development on Flametongue.

Maximum Threads: 2
Chaotic, Int 8, Empathy, wants to slay cold and undead

This long sword was forged in lava flows of Mount Ulthruung by a slightly unhinged wizard named Geof. The steel shimmers in the light, as though it is always giving off heat and has a slight red sheen. It is a slender blade that is inscribed with glyphs that only appear in fire light. When deciphered and spoken aloud, they are the command word of the weapon. Flametongue was crafted as part of Geof's crusade against the frost giants, which ultimately lead to a campaign against the true aggressor, the necromancer known as Nix.

Rank 1
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the name of the weapon.
Effect: The weapon becomes a +1 long sword that gives off light as a torch.

Rank 2
Deed: The wielder must view and decipher the glyphs on the blade.
Effect: When the command word is spoken, the weapon alights in flame, causing +1d4 fire damage. If the results is a 4, the wielder takes 1 point of damage from the flare.

Rank 3
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the name of the wizard that created Flametongue.
Effect: When the weapon is on fire, it gains +2 versus cold creatures. Additionally, all opponents that are within the light radius of the flame (a torch) and are weak to fire suffer -1 to Will from fear. This explicitly includes opponents that suffer negative effects (such as stopping their regeneration), not just take additional damage. 

Rank 4
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the name of the volcano where the weapon was forged.
Deed: The wielder must visit the volcano where the weapon was forged.
Effect: When the weapon is on fire, the wielder may roll +1d6 for damage (instead of +1d4). If the result is a 6, the wielder takes 1 point of damage from the flare.

Rank 5
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the name of the frost giant king that was slain to end the crusade against them.
Deed: The wielder must somehow learn this information from a frost giant - the sword prefers force, but is flexible.
Effect: The weapon becomes a +2 long sword, +3 versus cold creatures.

Rank 6
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the name of necromancer the weapon was later used against.
Effect: The weapon becomes +4 against undead.

Rank 7
Key Knowledge: The wielder must learn the fate of Geof and Nix.
Effect: When the weapon is on fire, the wielder may roll +1d8 for damage (instead of +1d6). If the result is an 8, the wielder takes 1 point of fire damage from the flare.

This is a quick example of a Legendary Item. The lower ranks are weaker than the later ones, though the tasks and knowledge required is significantly easier to accomplish. If there is interest, leave a comment and other classic magical items could get the same Legendary Item treatment.