View Full Version : giving out important magic items.

2011-02-13, 09:27 PM
First off I'll explain my situation. My campaign setting has several dungeons hidden throughout an island country sort of thing. Each one is, by plot, created by the clergy of a specific God, and as such each contains an artifact of that god. It's possible that I could take the items out, but I would really rather not.

My party is literally 3 rooms away from uncovering the first... And I don't know what to give them. My issue is that I want these items to be powerful... They should be, they are God-crafted. But, at least currently, the party is still at ECL 4 or so... I had planned originally to give them items of truly epic power (in that they were literally like 4 million gold types of things)... But it wasn't long before I realized that this was a ridiculous idea. A level 3 paladin with a holy devastator? A Level 4 beguiler with a ring of epic wizardry (all the spell levels)!? I feel like this might just completely destroy any game balance at all. It's literally, least according to the books, over 20 levels above them.

Yet, I feel like making the weapon match the party is silly too. Why would Pelor's great weapon be based on a level 4 character? More than this I worry that the party will outgrow their supposed "ultra deity weapons". That would be a bigger problem.

I've considered making them all weapons that grow in power with the user, but truth be told I don't really like that idea much. More than anything, that one feels DM forced.

A little bit about the campaign... I don't like this "little fish in vast ocean" thing much, so the characters, while low level because we didn't really grasp the rules, are very powerful relative to the world. The townspeople are protected by wards which keep away the Dustblight, which I reflavored with the half-fiend template and turned into the primary monster (though too powerful to ever be a mook. The party hasn't actually faced one yet.) In other words, it goes, in order of strength: Commoners, goblins/soldiers, stronger monsters, party, primary NPCs (ECL 6 or so generally), Terrifying monsters.

Anyway, what should I do? We intend to keep playing this campaign for a long time, whatever that means, if that helps.

Also, any experiences you have had, either as players or DM, with possessing an item meant for someone far stronger than you? How does it effect the game?

2011-02-13, 09:31 PM
Artifact sets maybe? So you create items that aren't individually that powerful, but start becoming more powerful the more of them you have. Then you make them work for the rest of the set.

2011-02-13, 09:33 PM
Let the items scale with the wielders level. The sword is godly, but only a powerful wielder can coax out it's entire power.

Edit: did not read the original post thoroughly enough. My bad.

2011-02-13, 09:33 PM
I've considered making them all weapons that grow in power with the user, but truth be told I don't really like that idea much. More than anything, that one feels DM forced.

Thats the best solution, imho. Ok, maybe not weapons, but whatevers that the party will learn to manipulate slowly as they grow stronger / wiser, unlocking its true potential.

If this is `super epicz weaponz OF DOOM`why would any random person understand? More so, they come directly from the gods, why would anyone unrelated to said god or even of a completely different philosophy and belief be able to fully utilize it right out of the bat? Either they take the time to understand the creator and attune themselves to its will and thus channel its power better with time, or they take the time to reverse-engineer it and bend its power to their will, mocking the foolish god that thrust such an object into their hands. Basically, regardless of the relation between the creator gods and your players' backstories, you can surely find a justification for why its only shedding a little power now and why it becomes highly powerful later on. Maybe dont key it off character levels but instead character growth and personality development? :D

2011-02-13, 09:37 PM
Two ideas.

1) Intelligent Items (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/intelligentItems.htm). That gives a reasonable explanation for why they grow in power: the PC's are not worthy of the good stuff right away, so the item limits them.

2) Refluffing your previous idea of the item growing in power with the wielder. They don't have the experience/machismo/knowledge to draw on the items more powerful traits now, but later they will.

2011-02-13, 09:52 PM
Sets are a decent option. Personally I would take a good long look at making them scale.

Now, you can work in some strong RP stuff to go along with the scaling. For instance you might have a sun blade from the sun god or something like that. At level 4 it might be a +1 flaming sword with flames the color of the rising sun. Choose some more powers for it, let the character know those powers are there. Maybe the next time he rolls a crit you let him know that he can feel the power of the blade trying to blast forth (Flaming Burst enhancement) and ask him if he want's to try and release it. If he says yes, describe how the energy seems absolutely overwhelming as it tears forth from the blade, searing through his very soul in desperation to explode on the enemy. IE the effect is too powerful for his current character level and he takes damage for attempting to use it, perhaps 1d6 for each 2 levels he lacks to use it. Then you can just assign the abilities you want the items to have and note a level requirement for each ability. The characters can then have access to all the abilities within the items, but they run the risk of damaging or potentially killing themselves if they attempt to make the artifact channel divine abilities that are far beyond their own capabilities.

Then you just flavor the damage appropriately for each different god. Sun god doing fire damage, death god does cold/negative damage or even perhaps 1 point of con damage or something like that.

2011-02-13, 09:52 PM
You could also go with some sort of derivative of Weapons of Legacy, where players must complete various rituals which unlock the weapon's power in stages. Obviously, later rituals are harder to complete than earlier ones.

RAW Weapons of Legacy really suck though, so as I said you'll want to derive something from that, not use it as-is.

EDIT: For evil(or possible even a few neutral weapons, depending on the god) you could have the weapon grow in power as it absorbs more and more souls from the slain. You might use something similar for good weapons, only base it on the amount of undead or demons killed instead or something.

2011-02-14, 05:03 AM
If the items are of religious nature, you could consider using relic items, magical items with stronger powers that unlock if you fulfill specific deity related requirements. I know there's a bunch of them in MiC, and they should be easy to homebrew too.

2011-02-14, 05:17 AM
You could have the item not work without something else that requires them to adventure. (Like a tear from a dragon)

The gods could have made the item like this as a safeguard. It doesn't have to be a tear from a dragon but something suitable or whatnot. If I was given a nuclear bomb I wouldn't know how to use it.

2011-02-14, 05:17 AM
+1 to Weapons of Legacy

2011-02-14, 05:45 AM
How dare you puny mortals assume you can understand the power of a GOD!

So yeah you could make the items powerful but extremely hard to understand and control. Even have side quests later to unlock their true potential.

2011-02-14, 06:11 AM
How about items, that, while of vast power, need to be brought in the presence of powerful forces of those gods and sanctioned to unlock more than a fraction of their power?

So, the fighter finds the sword of war, and yeah, it's a good weapon, more accurate than his masterwork, able to do a couple neat tricks... The beguiler sees that it has symbols of XXX god, and Read Magic reveals a prayer to that god etched into the blade.

He takes it to a temple of that deity, and the priest marvels at it (knowing what it is from the lore of his religion). He says that it is capable of wonders beyond understanding, but it is only by the blessings of that deity, through his followers, that you will know them.

So now, the fighter can do quests for that god's followers, and unlock abilities of the weapon. Even tie those quests into the god's ethos... "The Sword of War thrives on conflict. Diplomacy and peace are its true enemy. There is an envoy, traveling between <empire a> and <empire b>, under the flag of ambassador, to end a truly amazing war between the two. Arrange for that envoy to fail, and the god of war will bless your blade with the power to enrage yourself and others."

Boom. Adventure hooks, a sense of earning the weapon all over again, each time it gets something special, and a truly believable reason behind why the weapon gets better over time.

2011-02-14, 07:09 AM
So yeah you could make the items powerful but extremely hard to understand and control. Even have side quests later to unlock their true potential.
Like a Weapon of Legacy?

How about items, that, while of vast power, need to be brought in the presence of powerful forces of those gods and sanctioned to unlock more than a fraction of their power?
So... like a Weapon of Legacy?

It's pretty simple, dude. Every solution presented here is basically 'use items of legacy'. If you don't have the Weapons of Legacy book, the SRD has it's protoversion, legendary weapons (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/legendaryWeapons.htm). I'd just try to get the book though, as it's much MUCH better.

2011-02-14, 07:19 PM
Use a Weapon of Legacy or something akin to the Ancestral Relic feat (Book of Exalted Deeds 39, 41) or the Samurai's Ancestral Daisho (Oriental Adventures 21).

I did this in my game for a Paladin's armor. The player quite enjoyed having an intelligent personal Glasteel (Adamantine + Mithral) Full Plate which he upgraded to suit himself.

2011-02-14, 08:14 PM
I'd like to suggest an alternative to Weapons of Legacy: the main problem you need to deal with is not placing epic level power in the hands of a low level party, it is placing epic level power in the hands of one party member while the rest get squat.

So you need to figure out a way that whatever power the artifact grants can be utilized by everyone. Once you do that, it can do more or less whatever you want, so long as you plan for the party having that power.

For example, a possible suggestion:

- The artifact is an item of a god of life. It has several powers, from minor to major.
- Minor power: All healing in the vicinity of the artifact is doubled
- Minor power: Those who sleep in the vicinity of the artifact find that permanent ability drain and permanent negative levels heal at a rate of 1/night, and that hitpoints and ability damage heal twice the normal rate.
- Minor power: The artifact can be used to cure diseases 1/day
- Major power: The artifact can, once a month, bring life to the dead (as a True Resurrection).
- Major power: In times of great peril, a user of the artifact may sacrifice their own life to restore life and full health to all of their fallen allies. This can only be done once a year.

Another example, this one destined to be a utility power the party possesses, rather than something an individual would claim:

- The artifact is a pen used by god of history to craft his records. As such, it has ultimate control over the written word.
- The pen can imitate the writing style of any individual, allowing even an untrained user to make Forgery checks at a +20
- The pen can retroactively change all copies of a document made from an original the user possesses.
- The pen can write on any surface, causing no damage to the surface but inscribing it with whatever the user intends to write.
- The pen can alter supernatural contracts, and even divine edicts, so long as the original is available.
- The pen can be used to scribe scrolls and write spells into a spellbook. The user must still provide any xp cost, but the pen's magic substitutes for the cost of magical inks (100% reduction for spellbook costs, 25% reduction for scroll costs)