Magical Marvels 27: Swordaxe and Scroll on Pink Paper

PinkpaperFireswordAxeI don’t know when I drew this. I would estimate about 6-8 years old. Thought it would be fun to make a magic item out of it.

The Swordaxe of Bath’un Ra

It was very sad when the town smith went mad. He’d been kind, well liked, and exceptionally skilled. Then one day he began babbling loudly at all hours, and throwing himself into walls. The man had no family, and there was some discussion about whether he ought to be locked up, or given a merciful death.

Then it was discovered that if he was allowed into his workshop, his babbling ceased. He moved about like his old self, working steel as competently as he ever had. He didn’t speak at all, but he seemed happy and competent enough, so the townsfolk kept an eye on him and hoped he’d come out of his dementia eventually. No one paid particular attention to the sword he was crafting, festooned with half the gems and precious metals he had in his stores.

What the others had taken for madness, was in fact a horrific possession by a dark thing that had survived from when the world was young. A creature called Bath’un Ra that had enslaved man before written history, and which had only now grown powerful enough to do so again.

Before leaving  to inhabit the swordaxe, the spirit of Bath’un Ra forced the smith to throw himself upon his creation so that he could not reveal Bath’un Ra’s secrets once the spirit had left him. The next day the smith was found dead beside the swordaxe, along with a scroll covered in incomprehensible symbols. The village buried all three together, well outside the edge of town.


The swordaxe of Bath’un Ra is a one handed weapon that deals 1d8 damage. Bath’un Ra does not immediately reveal its presence to the wielder, but subtly communicates the weapon’s magical properties to whomever holds it.

If they wish, they may make an attack roll against an opponent with a +2 to hit roll. If the attack hits, no damage is dealt, but the weapon bursts into flame. Each time the wielder does this, the weapon charges up further, and the flame grows larger.

Once the swordaxe has been charged 3 times, the character can spend the charges to make an auto-hit attack dealing 3d10 damage. After the swordaxe has been charged 5 times, the wielder can spend the charges to make an auto-hit attack for 5d12. (Additional charges after 5 merely add an extra 1d12).

Note that the charges can only be spent on the specific foe they were gained from. The spirit of Bath’un Ra is learning the weaknesses of their soul during each non-damaging attack.

When the Swordaxe deals a killing blow, roll 1d12. On a roll of 1, Bath’un Ra’s spirit has grown powerful enough to place the wielder under a Geas. (save v. magic to resist). If the save is successful, and the character continues using the swordaxe, the referee should continue to roll 1d12 to determine when Bath’un Ra can attempt his Geas again. If the save fails, then disobeying the Geas is punished by death. (No save)

Those under Bath’un Ra’s spell must uncover an ancient temple from eons past, which has been buried beneath millennia of desert sands. Within they must find the demon king statue, and place the Swordaxe in the statue’s hand. Once this is done, the statue will turn to flesh, and Bath’Un Ra will return to the world.

The scroll found with the swordaxe is written in the nonsensical language of maddness. Because it was only ever understood by a single person (the smith,) Comprehend Language as cast by a 3rd level magic user is required to decipher it. Written there is Bath’un Ra’s true name, and the words of binding that will keep him subdued. Reading this scroll allows the wielder to use the swordaxe without any risk of being placed under a Geas.

The solution to running chases.

Mansta_ech“Chase Scenes” in D&D are unsatisfying. For a few years now, I’ve been content with LotFP’s 1d20 + [Mov/10] rule. But that’s a stopgap. It gets the job done, but it doesn’t satisfy. Escaping from combat should be more variable.

Retired Adventurer is a criminally underrated blog. John Bell is a phenomenal world builder,  rules designer, and game referee. He’s good enough that I drag myself out of bed at 5:30 AM every Saturday to play in his game.

This most recent Saturday, the party was leading a rich tourist around some ancient ruins. The dude was a fucking asshole who seemed intent on pissing off every monster he came across, but he was paying us 2500 obols each, so we gritted our teeth and took pictures of him posing with a statue of a sphinx. Then three real sphinx appeared, he made some racist comments. John said he was rolling initiative, and the rest of us said “we run.”

That’s when I encountered John’s rules for routs. Presented here in a modified form, based on some modifications by John, and a discussion about it on google+. I should note that I’ve altered the rule shown here to suit my own needs. It differs significantly from John’s original, so you should check that out as well.

Each round, each group of fugitives and pursuers rolls 2d6.

If the face value of a die in the pursuer’s roll matches the face value of a die in a fugitive’s roll, then the pursuers can make missile attacks at the fugitives.

If the pursuers roll a “7”, then they get close enough to each make a single melee attack at +4 against the fugitives.

If the fugitives roll a “7” then they have evaded sight long enough to make a stealth check. If the stealth check is successful, the fugitives have escaped. If the check is failed, the chase continues next round.

If both dice in a pursuer’s roll show the same value, then they have cornered the fugitives. The chase is ended, and regular combat resumes. The fugitives cannot continue to flee unless they make an opening for themselves, such as by slaying one of their pursuers.

If both dice in a fugitive’s roll show the same value, then they have escaped.

In the event that both the pursuers and fugitives roll one of the options above, only the fugitive’s roll counts.

If one party is faster than the other, then for each 30′ of difference in the two party’s speeds, the faster party gains 1 “Die Bump.” After each chase roll, a die bump can be used to adjust one die up or down by 1. (So a 3 can become a 2, or a 4). Multiple die bumps can easily turn the chase into a trivial thing. Dangerous for over-encumbered characters.

Of course, if the fugitives throw food / treasure, the pursuers should usually make morale checks as in LotFP standard. And the GM should keep track of the character’s random movements through their environment, so that once the chase ends, they have to deal with being lost.

Magical Marvels 26: Raggi’s Rejects 6: The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus

TheTragicalLife_of_DrFaustusA tattered manuscript of Christopher Marlowe’s play “The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus.” The text has little in common with other surviving versions of the play. In fact, those copies were forged by church censors. They secretly distributed the texts to satisfy heretical curiosity about the banned play, without revealing the true depths of Marlowe’s sin. Marlowe himself was quietly put to death for his abominable work. This is the only surviving copy of what he truly wrote, written in his own hand. A note, hastily scrawled on the first page, reads:

“Will that the noblest of magics might flourish, and God’s abominable sorcery might perish.”

In this version of the play, Lucifer and Mephistophilis treat Faust fairly. God is depicted as an interloper. He attempts to reassert His will over Faust after being rejected. God even goes so far as to send an angel to steal Faust away, but is defeated when Lucifer sends one of his own servants to protect Faust. The play culminates in an orgy with Faust, his friends, a number of demons, and several nuns and priests who have been convinced to turn away from God.

The entire play is filled with unusual phrasings and invented words. In particular, the scene where Faust makes his pact with Lucifer is completely nonsensical when read. However, if actors memorize the lines properly, then during the performance of the play they will be compelled to improvise. The scene is different each time, but always conforms to the plot and style of the play. During this scene, shameful secrets of audience members, and bizarre prophecies are incorporated into the narrative.

When a performance of the play begins, anyone within 20 miles who has been baptized in the Christian faith feels compelled to stop the performance by any means. God has suspended free will to prevent this sin from occurring. Characters who wish to renounce their baptism may make a saving throw vs. magic to resist the compulsion. The referee is encouraged to be creative about renouncing God in His time of need. Performers and audience members are shielded from this compulsion.

To this day, the play has not been performed in full. If it is completed successfully, which requires 3 hours and 11 minutes, then God is banished from the world for 100 years. Clerical magic will disappear entirely during that time. Meanwhile, magic users and elves will feel as though they can think more clearly. As though their minds had been clouded during all of their life before now. For the purposes of learning or casting, all spells will be treated as 1 spell level lower than normal for the duration of God’s banishment. Magic users will begin using the fighter’s experience table, and elves will begin using the magic user’s. All characters, even the lowliest of peasants, will have a 30% chance of knowing one random 1st level magic user spell.

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