Thursday, October 22, 2009

3 Items My PCs Aren't So Sure They Want to Use

The Trapping Mace (also sometimes known as the Screaming Mace or the Swearing Mace) is an elaborately carved weapon--technically a mace-and-chain--with an extremely unusual and cunningly layered openwork head. When found, the cagelike macehead will contain a small iron sculture of a disembodied head. This head will be a precise, small-scale likeness of the head of whatever being was last slain by the mace.

(If the last being slain by the mace had no identifiable head then it's the DM's discretion as to what's in there.)

Inside this head, the being's soul is trapped. If a new being is killed with the mace, the original soul is released, and the most recent victim's soul is trapped in the same manner, the tiny head warping and changing into the face of the new prisoner.

A trapped soul may, and generally will, speak, (it will telepathically be fluent in the owner's language) and--in nearly all cases--the soul is so eager to escape the mace and move on to whatever afterlife is proper to it that it will provide any information it has that might help the mace's owner successfully kill something else and thereby release it. Although the trapped souls will be, of course, angry with the mace's owner, the agony of existence in the mace is so exquisitely cruel that the trapped souls fear nothing more than the owner being slain and the mace being lost--dooming the soul to lie unfound in the unhallowed iron limbo for indeterminate years. Further, the trapped soul is magically bound to answer any question put to it (that it knows the answer to) and to tell the truth--though PCs may not be aware of this.

In combat, the mace acts with no bonuses, though it counts as a magic weapon.

The Teeth of Vorn
are large and ancient swords--while the pommels, hilts, and guards vary widely, their long blades are inevitably hewn from what appears to be yellowed and black-veined bone. Priests of Vorn claim the blades were made from the rain god's teeth by his first acolytes, to protect his enormous form while it lay insensate for nine thousand years beneath The Dreaming Mountain. There were once 32 in existence, it is not known how many are left.

In practice, a Tooth acts as a bastard sword at -1 "to hit" (the character will realize this--the swords are unusually heavy and strangely balanced)--but once a Tooth has tasted its target's blood, it operates with a damage bonus of +1. Furthermore, with each successful hit thereafter, the blade gains another +1 damage bonus against that target or other targets of the same species. There is no upper limit to the damage bonus that may eventually accrue, but the blade will "reset" at the next sunrise.

(When a PC finds one of these, the DM must cue this song up to 0:34 seconds and hit -play-.)

The Oil of Zaymot

This crimson product of Yuan-Ti alchemy is inevitably found in a double-stoppered vial. It has no effect unless two different living beings each drink a dose from the same batch. Once this occurs, any damage taken by either recipient* will be halved, and the other half of the damage will be applied to the other recipient. Likewise, any enchantments or other magical effects incurred by one recipient will affect the other, but at only half-intensity. Petrified recipients will find only the right or left halves their bodies turned to stone, recipients who have magically lost their sanity will be able to tell a hawk from a handsaw half the time, polymorphed recipients will be gruesomely hybridized, recipients may end up half-charmed, half-asleep, half-cursed, half-blessed, etc.

The effect is temporary, but a permanent version--known as the Oil of Tomacs--is known to have been developed.

*Except the damage dealt by the potion itself, of course. Don't be a dickhead.


  1. These are soooo showing up in my C&C game.

  2. Soul-sucking maces, cost/benefit analysis tooth-swords, stoner rock, and a sarky aside at the wifully obtuse rules-parsers among us (may their extremities rot).

    This post is delicious, and you must eat it!

  3. Consider yourself ripped off, these are magic items with designer personality... awesome

  4. Not to be overly critical, but the up front penalty on the Teeth of Vorn isn’t high enough. Just sayin’.

    I love the Trapping Mace, or the Mace of Iron Hell if you will, and a cleric of mine would certainly use it. I would particularly enjoy having it on my belt, and prior to a battle muttering out loud, “I think I’ll use my ... quarterstaff.”

  5. Everybody--

    I'd love to hear how any of these play out in-game, so if you use them, please let me know how it works out.


    The up-front penalty on the teeth is low because my characters are low-level (and so far, the paladin swinging it has failed to hit much of anything ever.) Since:
    -the paladin misses tough targets more than half the time even without any penalties, and
    -melee combat usually doesn't last more than 2-3 rounds at low levels anyway.
    ...he'd probably never use it if it was -2 or more. We'll see if this comes back to bite me in the ass in 2033 when the paladin's levelled-up a bit.

    I'd recommend a worse penalty or a more complex kind of penalty if the sword was likely to be used by a higher-level player.

  6. You could link the sword's up front penalty to the user's level. That would be nasty.

  7. I'm not so enamoured with mechanical balance. There's more interesting ways to balance things. This post's title and the items within bears that out.

    At higher level if the teeth become stupidly powerful bad guys will hear about it. They will intelligently defend against it exploiting its weaknesses (same species, reset). Also, any powerful item will be coveted by others. If the owner makes themselves well known by using it all the time then they will be beset by challengers, assassins and thieves.

    Power is it's own punishment.

    Awesome post/items btw.

  8. I declare these curios to be straight dope.

  9. Very nice. There is a kind of sadism to the mace that elevates it above the ordinary magic item.

  10. My cleric of Vorn got that magic mace. My intial impression was "OOoooh I got an Elric mace!". Really excited that I had found my first magic item.

    It's not really much like Stormbringer though, it's more interesting. Once I killed something which was under a sleep spell (or something) and that stupid sleeping monster head was useless to me until I managed to kill something else.

  11. "This video has been removed by the user." What song am I supposed to cue? :)

    Also, I like the Teeth sword very much. The potion is nice and simple and duplicates a similar spell from 3.5 (though I can't recall the name).

    The Mace, while a cool concept, would probably be destroyed by any Good PC worth their salt. Good thing it's not also a magic weapon...

  12. Pretty creative items...Very classy GI Joe reference. ;)

  13. I second Herobizkit's question: what was the song?

  14. I third Herobizkit & Anarchangel's question - what song should we listen to cue in when a Teeth of Vorn is found? I'm quite curious about that.

  15. Oh, it was The Sword song "Barael's Blade" cued ip to the part where it goes "BE HOLD! The Bastard Blade!!"