Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Magical Items

In a world where magic is practically a myth, magical items are the rarest of treasures. Unlike high-fantasy settings, not every adventurer in Aibhilon is going to be walking around with a personal arsenal of magical gear, whether it be in the form of swords and armor or wands and robes. Time and prejudice against arcane magic have lead to the destruction of most magical artifacts in the world. Those that remain have been well hidden and/or protected through the ages.

When a party encounters a magical item, whether it is stashed in a buried treasure horde or employed by the adversary standing across from them, it should grab their attention. The best way to get the attention of the characters and players alike is to make sure the item interesting. There are a couple easy ways to accomplish this: abilities and history.

Abilities are perhaps the easiest; they are the most obvious defining trait a magic item has. Typically it implies the mechanical benefits an item can bestow upon its user: a sword that causes fire damage to those it strikes, boots that allow a wearer to walk on clouds, or a cloak that renders its user invisible. Sometimes the abilities are malicious rather than beneficial: belts that change the wearer's sex, necklaces that strangle those that don it, and armor that attracts arrows. Powerful abilities are likely to get the attention of the players, but so too can original ones.

A character's background helps set her apart from other characters, even those that might share the same race and class as her. It provides justification as to her personality and temperament. There's no reason a magic item can't have these similar attributes, even if it's not an intelligent item. By spinning a tale of the item's history, you create a backstory and personality for it just as you would a character. Additionally, item histories give the game master another avenue for weaving some of the unique lore of his world into the game.

For an additional dash of flavor, I've taken a page from the 13th Age role-playing game and given each non-consumable magic item a unique personality that manifests upon their wielders. These manifestations are not significant enough to be considered a part of the item's repertoire of powers, but are flavorful quirks that have the potential to provide additional role-playing opportunities.



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