I’ve been feeling mentally drained lately, so I’m gonna keep things light around here for awhile. Fewer 2000 word posts where I try to suss out Pathfinder’s platonic ideal, more brief posts which don’t require much sussing at all. There has been an overabundance of sussing in my life, as of late. Doctor told me to cut back.
I’ve always liked the idea of odd magical items. In fact, I’ve occasionally made a game out of giving my players the most absolutely useless magical items I could imagine, just to see how they would use them. They always seem to manage it somehow. One of my best is rope which immediately unties any knot as soon as the slightest amount of tension is placed upon it. But my favorite kind of unusual magic item is a type of item which is not normally magical at all. Weapons, armor, capes, and rings are almost magical by default in a Pathfinder world, while many other items are rarely even checked for dweomers. If you find a tapestry depicting a battle, rolled up in a dungeon, you’re likely going to view it as mundane treasure. But what if the tapestry is the result of an epic-level “Time Stop” spell cast upon a battlefield? If dispelled, the combatants depicted on the tapestry would suddenly appear in the room, and continue their fight.
So lets jump into some of the types I’ve come up with:
Scabbards: It is a little known fact that the scabbard of Excalibur was actually much more valuable than the sword itself. I’m not exactly an Arthurian scholar, but none of the texts I’ve read paint Excalibur as anything other than a very good sword. In some stories it’s maybe a +1 Longsword, whilst in the film named for the blade, it might be as much as a +5. But that’s hardly impressive as magical items go. Excalibur’s scabbard, however, may be the most powerful magic represented in Arthurian myth. Any who wore it could not be wounded. Arthur would have been invincible, had he not allowed his sister Morgana Le Fay, to borrow the scabbard so she could “appreciate its beauty.” By which she meant “have someone make a copy, then throw the real one into a lake.”
Giving a character an item which makes the invulnerable might be pushing it, but there’s no reason other magical affects couldn’t be granted by a scabbard. Fast healing, for example. Perhaps there could even be some manner of trade-off with the sword. When the sword is sheathed, the scabbard grants fast healing 10, or protection from arrows, or whatever. When the sword is drawn, the magic of the scabbard is reduced in power, or ends altogether. That could make the decision to engage an enemy much more relevant.
Tattoos: This one shows up now and again in various supplements–usually ones with an asian theme for some reason. Perhaps there is some originating mythology for magical tattoos found in asian cultures which I am unaware of. I don’t really care where it came from, it’s an awesome idea, and needs to be more prominent within fantasy. Whether it’s a tattoo of a magical beast which can “jump off” your body and aid you in battle, or something more mundane, it fits in with nearly any kind of setting where magic exists. And the possibilities are too numerous to name! What about a tattoo of an eye on the tip of your finger, which you could see out of by closing your eyes? Useful for looking around corners. What if clerics got their god’s holy symbol tattooed on their chests? It could never be taken away when you were captured. I once made a character who had tattoos of short swords on her forearms, and in a pinch she could reach “into” her arms and pull a masterwork short sword out of each.
Cosmetics: While on the subject of markings on the body, what about makeup? Not exactly the kind of thing we imagine a rough-and-tumble adventurer to be interested in, but adventurers aren’t always lacking in refinement. And even those who are lacking in refinement must often deal with the upper classes of society. Mayors, nobles, kings and queens; any or all might try to fool the adventurers with Lipstick of Lying. Or they could try to hypnotize the party with Mesmerizing Mascara.
Piercings & Misc Jewelry: I honestly don’t understand why piercings are ignored by the rules. Earrings could be as versatile as Fingerrings. And a piercing could go any number of places! What about a tongue stud that made a wizard immune to any effect which would interfere with their spell’s verbal components? A belly ring could allow an adventurer to stave off hunger for weeks. Many types of obscure jewelry could be magical, in fact. Many cultures wear combs in their hair, and ancient Mayans used to replace some of their teeth with Jade. Tooth of Vecna, anyone?
Rations: We’ve all read Lord of the Rings, right? Or, at the very least, seen those films which were so popular? Lambas bread was a major plot point in the books, but you really don’t see anything like that in RPGs. This one might be more justifiable, simply because of the plethora of ways to avoid the need for rations in a basic D&D game. Clerics gain the ability to summon food and water pretty early on, and even if the party doesn’t have a cleric, bags of holding make it easy to carry a few month’s worth of rations with no problem. But still, you would think they’d put some rules for magic elven rations in the core rulebook.
Simple Tools: Hammers, Picks, Saws, etc could be enchanted to do their job exceptionally well. A saw which can cut down a tree in under a minute, or a pick which reduces an hour’s worth of work to a single swing. These items would have no combat benefits, but would make some types of work go much faster. This would be particularly useful to give to workers as they were constructing a stronghold.
What are some unusual magic item types you’ve encountered, or come up with for your own games?
Also, buttplug of protection +2. Because I can.