Spending Money 3: The Curio Shop

Hiestand-3-SPlayers having the ability to buy magic items isn’t actually a problem. It’s the means by which the purchase of magic items is implemented that can be a problem. Functionally unlimited access to a full list of magic items is the problem. Game advancement that assumes the players will accrue magic item upgrades along a vague schedule is the problem.

But if a wizard opens his robes to reveal a necklace hanging from the inside and says “You want necklace? Much magical. Good price. You buy now, yes?” Well then that’s just fuckin’ awesome.

The Curio Shop could take a number of different forms. Perhaps it’s a well known fixture of a capitol city’s wealthy merchantile district. Perhaps it’s a run down shack in the ghetto. It could be a traveling wagon that sets up wherever it finds people; or it could be an extra dimensional room, the entrance to which is any door that you walk through backwards 3 times.

Regardless, the curio shop can only be visited during play. Players can’t purchase from it between sessions the way they might with other shops.

While there are always a large number of oddities available in the curio shop, most are really just there to drain the coins of the unserious looky-loo. For those looking for something more substantive than a cow fetus in a jar, there are always 8 items available for sale.

Each time the players enter the shop, 1d6-1 random items have been sold since the last time the players visited. The empty slots are restocked by rolling on the d100 restocking table, which can be repopulated at the referee’s leisure.

I would recommend that the referee track items randomly removed from the shop. Because, ya know, the fact that they’re gone means that somebody out there in your campaign world bought them. So it serves as a handy list of magic items you can give to an NPC.

Some items in the curio shop are there merely because they appear to be magical, or otherwise impressive. These items will require identification, and may prove to be nothing more than expensive baubles. Other items have already been identified, and are invariably priced much higher. It is important that players be made aware of these facts. While the shop keeper may be trying to fleece the players, the referee should be clear about the facts: “This item may or may not be magical. You won’t be able to find out until you buy it.” That’s an interesting choice, and one that players will take you up on from time to time. And no, the curio shop owner doesn’t want you futzing with his inventory, casting Identify on items before you buy them.

All sales are final.

Currently In Stock:

1. A powder puff. When used, raises your Cha to 18 for one day, but reduces your STR to 3 for the same length of time. Has 8 uses. Cost: 600sp

2. A six sided die which always lands on the last side you tapped your index finger on. Cost: 200sp.

4. A pocket of holding. Once sewn onto pants or a pack, it can hold a single item, which a single character would be able to lift by themselves. When placed in this pocket, the item adds nothing to the character’s encumbrance. Cost: 2000sp.

5. Wooden Rat mask. Painted in a simplistic, tribal fashion. Cost: 2000sp

Identify: When worn, there is an 80% chance the character will transform into a rat (with all the benefits and penalties that implies), and a 20% chance that everyone, including the wearer’s friends, will simply see them as a rat. Only the wearer can tell the difference. Once it has been worn, the mask’s effects will remain the same for 1 week.

6. Flickering Prism Ioun Stone Cost: 1200sp.

Identify: Ioun Stone 151 “The IOUN stone of absolute desperation stores a massive amount of positive energy. The user can employ this stone only a limited number of times, allowing for the casting of any single spell at 1d3+1 levels higher and at maximum effect, causing a -2 penalty on any saves made against the chosen spell’s effects. The stone has a base chance of 50% of crumbling after its initial use, with an increase of +10% per use.”

7. A compass which will always point towards the location of the last person whose blood was dribbled on the needle. Cost: 3800sp

8. A housecat-sized grizzly bear in a cage. Cost: 500sp

D100 Restocking Table

Restocking List:

1.A long-lived, 4 inch tall woman. Claims to be the daughter of a woman who fell in love with a beetle. Does not appreciate being sold as a curio, but is under a curse and must obey whomever purchases her until they die. Even if they wish to free her. Cost: 4200sp

2. An entrancing box of chocolates. When offered to anyone, their reaction roll is immediately considered Friendly. Once offered, the recipient will consume the chocolates, and the item will become useless. Cost: 900sp

3. The crest of the Wizard Overlord for Level 7, Column D. Cost: 4000sp

4. A piece of brown chalk. Cost: 300sp

Identify: When a circle is drawn on the ground with this chalk, a simple one-room hut of wood will appear. Max diameter 15’

5. A door which, when rested against a wall and knocked upon, becomes a real functioning door in the wall. One use only. Cost: 500sp

6. A scroll of Fireball as the AD&D spell. Cost: 1400sp

7. A scroll of Cone of Cold as the AD&D spell. Cost: 2000sp

8. A scroll of Ice Storm as the AD&D spell. Cost: 1700sp

9. A scroll of Shocking Grasp as the AD&D spell. Cost: 800sp

10. Triple Barrel Pistol. Takes 3 times as long to load, but each barrel can be fired individually or together. Cost: 1500sp

11. Sure Tangle Whip. Any non-threatening object which a whip could easily wrap around, the whip will tightly wrap around on a successful attack roll. Rafters or teacups are good examples. Enemy feet or weapons don’t work. Cost: 600sp

12. Unknottable rope. Completely mundane in all respects, save that any knot tied with the rope, regardless of the skill with which it was tied, will immediately come undone as soon as pressure is placed upon it. Cost: 100sp

13. Gloves which chill anything they touch. This cannot be used as an attack, but will keep your drinks from getting warm. Cost: 100sp

14. A codpiece with a large, upwards turning horn on it. Cost: 200sp

Identify: Nothing

15. A stone dagger. Carved elaborately. Cost: 500sp

Identify: Nothin’

16. A glass dagger. Cost: 500sp

Identify: A glasstouch dagger, as seen in Magical Marvels 10.

  1.   A small, pocket sized horse made of jade. Cost: 400sp

Identify: Nothin’

18. A metal skullcap covered in 6” long spikes, spaced 3” apart. Cost: 3500sp

Identify: Grants the wearer a +2 bonus to rolls to resist charm effects. And, if successfully saved against, the helm deals 2d8 damage to the caster of said spell.

19. A blue speckled egg with the words “Hat of Five Birds” written in gold letters around it. Cost: 1500sp

Identify: A Hat of 5 Birds, as seen in Magical Marvels 14.

20. A deck of Illusions. Each card pulled from the deck will cause an illusion to materialize. (As seen in Magical Marvels 15) Cost: 1200sp

21. A staff topped with a skull, roses grow from the eye sockets. A spellcaster may tap it on the ground, and expend one of their spells for the day, to unleash a blast of spores. Targets must save v. breath or become infected with the sproes. 1 turn later they must make a save v. magic. On success, they take 2d8 damage as the spores die. On failure, the spores wrap around their brain, and they become the spellcaster’s minions for one week, then die. Cost: 12,500sp

22. A snarling cat’s mouth with a blade erupting from it. Somewhat crudely carved on the hilt is the name “Skarper.” This weapon provides a +1 bonus to attack and damage, and the wielder gains darkvision, as well as a +2 bonus to any attempt to flee from or avoid combat. Cost: 2400sp

23. Spear of many. When thrown, this spear magically multiplies into a barrage of 10 spears. If the to hit roll was successful, the target takes 1d10 times normal spear damage. If the roll was a failure, the target still takes 1d4 times normal spear damag. Unfortunately, it takes a full day for the conjured spears to disappear, so after combat, the character must either carry 10 spears around all day, or risk losing the one true magic spear. Cost: 8,000sp

24. A 1” tall featureless figurine which takes on the appearance of anyone who picks it up. Once purchased, it imprints on its owner, and will no longer change shape. At will, the owner may trade places with the figurine, appearing wherever the figurine was, while the figurine appears wherever the owner was. After each use there is a 2% chance the figurine will crumble to dust. Cost: 2500sp

25. A codpiece with a large, outwards spike of steel on it. Cost: 200sp

Identify: Can be used to launch lightning bolts at foes with an aggressive hip thrust. Save v. Devices or take 1d6 damage.

26. A specially designed pistol with a brace of 20 capsules. Each capsule can be fired at a target within 5’, exploding in a puff of powdery smoke from the end of the gun, and being inhaled by the victim. That target must save v. poison to avoid the effects of the powder. On failure, the one who fired the gun must make a charisma check, with the target’s hit dice as a penalty. If they succeed, the target becomes their obedient servant for 2d4 weeks before the powder wears off. If the charisma check is failed, there is an 80% chance the target will become crazed and violent, gaining a +4 to both hit and damage rolls. The other 20% of the time, the target’s head explodes. Cost: 5,000sp

27. A small cymbal the size of a saucer. When rapped with the knuckles, it creates no sound. Instead, any undead creatures within 100’ wail loudly in pain, revealing their locations. This does not reveal the location of the party, though intelligent undead are likely to realize some foe is nearby. Cost: 400sp

28. A bracelet with simple stick-figure depictions of weapon fighting around it. Cost: 400sp

Identify: A weapon up to medium size can be stored in an extradimensional space inside of this bracelet. As a move action, the weapon can be launched into the owner’s hand.

29. A chainmail bikini. Grants a base armor class of 18, and uses only 1 encumberance. Cost: 4000sp

30. A ring of tinkering +1. If the tinkering check is failed, character takes a -4 on any saving throws that would result from failure. Cost: 700sp

31. A ring with a large diamond on it. The ring allows the player to grant any other person’s wish. However, the wish ceases to function if the player who granted the wish comes within 500’ of the person whose wish was granted. (Resuming function once they are again sufficiently far apart). A wish cannot be coerced. Cost: 3000sp

32. A ring which makes the hand that wears it completely invulnerable. If the sun goes supernova, your hand–ending at the wrist–will be all that remains. Cost: 1100sp.

33. A ring with a small length of string sprouting from its outside edge–perhaps 1/3rd of an inch. Cost: 300sp

Identify: Anything thrown with this hand, while wearing this ring, will return to the hand as soon as it stops moving, flying backwards through the battlefield. Ammunition from bows, crossbows, etc do not count.

34. A ring which makes any weapon the wearer holds poisonous. (If damage rolled is in the upper half of the weapon’s damage range, target must save v. poison or take 3d6 Con damage over 2 turns). Once put on, this ring can never be taken off without removing the finger. (“You feel a dozen spikes around the ring drilling through meat and deep into the bone of your finger.”) While ring is worn, your own poison save is reduced by 1. Cost: 2000sp

35. A mummified finger. If your own finger is cut off and this one attached in its place, you permanently lose 1 point of charisma, but gain the use of a “Hold Person” touch attack once per day. Cost: 1300sp

36. Box of Snuff. 20 doses. Cost: 500sp

Identify: When used, you may act twice per round for the duration of the combat it is used in. (Using it counts as an action in combat). At the end of combat, save v. poison, or pass out for 1d4 hours.

37. A bullseye lantern. If shined in the eyes of a foe (An attack action) they must make a save v. devices or suffer the same blindness as if Light had been cast on their eyes. Cost: 800sp

38. A 10’ pole with a permanent “Knock” spell on the tip of it. Touch a door, and the door will pop open. Does not work if the door is locked with a mechanical lock of -1 difficulty or more. Does work if the door is barred from the other side, or Wizard locked. Cost: 1800sp

39. A muddy pair of boots and overalls. When worn, no one will remember what you look like if they try to describe you later, unless you specifically speak to them. People who might already recognize you from seeing your face previously must make a wisdom save to successfully recognize you. Cost: 800sp

40. A book. It is locked (tinkering required to open it). If “Read Magic” is cast on the runes on the cover, it reads “Do not begin a thing you cannot finish.” Cost: 2000sp

Identify: Anyone who begins reading the book cannot stop reading until they are finished. Unfortunately, the book is supernaturally long, and they cannot eat, drink, or sleep while they read. The base time to read the book is 3 days. Make an Int check. For each four points by which the check succeeds, it takes one less day. For each two points by which the check fails, it takes one more day. Characters take 1d6 damage each day. If they survive, their Intelligence is permanently increased by 1d3, to a maximum of 18.

41. A hairbrush. Cost: 150sp

Identify: When you brush your hair with it, your hair’s color changes. Takes 1 turn, can change to any color that exists.

42. A simple leather belt with a bronze buckle. Once per week, wearer may give stern orders to anyone of their same species which is still considered a child. (12 and under for humans). The child is beholden to follow all orders from the wearer for 24 hours, as if under the effects of Charm Person. However, the child is intimidated, not charmed. Cost: 800sp

43. A snorkel which legs longer the deeper the wearer goes, or the higher the water rises. Air will always reach someone using this snorkel, so long as there is a straight line between them and the surface. (Won’t function in underwater caves, for example). Cost: 600sp

44. Goggles of detect magic. While worn, it is as though you are constantly under the effects of a Detect Magic spell. For each turn worn, roll a save v. devices. On failure, you go blind for a number of days equal to the number of turns the goggles were worn. Cost: 1300sp

45. An admiral’s hat, with ribbons on one side. Cost: 200sp

Identify: Nothin’

46. A plumed headdress. Cost: 200sp

Identify: While worn, you can speak to birds.

47. A tri-corner hat. While worn, you have a chance to cut off some creature’s heads on a hit roll of 20. For creatures with 1-2 hit dice, the chance is 100%. 3-5HD creatures at 50%, and 6-7HD creatures at 20%. Cost: 10,000sp

48. A band of gold to wrap around your head, gems stud the outside of it, Four large golden horns curve up to the center, where they meet high above your head. Cost: 10,000sp

Identify: Nothin

49. A band of gold metal to go ‘round your head. Flowing golden cloth encapsules your hair, and falls down around your shoulders. (Like a pharoes headdress) Cost: 8,000sp

Identify: The headdress of the god king. A reaction roll of 12 with HD1 creatures will cause them to revere you as a god.

50. A human scalp, reinforced with hard leather. Grants a +6 on saving throws versus magic or devices. Allies all suffer -1. Cost: 4000sp

51. A crinkled wrapping of thin, soft metal. It is shaped to be fit over the head. When worn, you are immune to any mind affecting spells, or psionic attacks. However, everything which comes out of your mouth is pure maddness. No one can have a reaction roll better than neutral with you. Cost: 1500sp

52. A pocketwatch. Only tells time when a monster is encountered. If the individual monster with the highest HD has more HD than you, the watch will read “Time to Run,” if they have equal, it will read “Time to talk,” if they have less, it will read “Time to crush the weak!” Cost: 1000sp

53. A cuckoo clock which chimes anytime someone is about to attack you from hiding. Comes with straps so it can be worn as a backpack, requiring a full encumberance slot. Cost: 600sp

54. Sandles of peaceful travel. While traveling overland, you get where you’re going with no encounters, and no memories of having travelled. Save v. poison or lose 1d6 x 5% of carried coinage. Cost: 1200sp

55. A dwarven beard-ring which causes your beard to look particularly grand. Dwarfs react at plus 2, and goblings & giants of 10 HD or less (total, as a group) must check morale or flee immediately before you. Cost: 2000sp

56. A monocle. Those who don’t know you assume you’re landed gentry, regardless of any other clothes you’re wearing. Cost:600sp

57. Sash of holding. Each such sash may hold 1d4 + 1 weapons without adding anything to encumberence. The sash itself is 1 item. Cost: 1600sp

58. Sash of dancing. You become the greatest dancer in the world whilst wearing this. Only the gods themselves could challenge your skill. Cost: 3000sp

59. A mask which, when worn, takes on the appearance of your own face, only upside down. While wearing it, you may attempt to turn undead as a cleric of half your hit dice once per day. Cost: 1000sp

60. A blank mask. Grants +1 to Vanish checks. Allows non-specialists to make vanish checks at 1-in-6.

61. A goat mask. Devils will treat you as though you are the very lowest ranking form of devil. (Because all goats are devils).

62. A pig which has been fed all of its life on a steady diet of dragonsbane. If a dragon eats it, they must save v. poison or die. Cost: 2000sp

63. A black potion with purple bubbles. Cost: 500sp

Identify: Raise all stats to 18 for 1 day.

64. A modern revolver with 2d12 bullets. The bullets cannot be manufactured, due to the high amount of precision required. Has a +2 to hit for ease of use, and deals 2d10 damage. If either die rolls a 10, the target must save v. poison or die. Cost: 1500sp

65. A vest which grants the wearer gaseous form as the spell at will, but only functions if no one is looking at them when they use it. Can be worn with other armor. Cost: 4000sp

66. A large robe, cannot be worn with any other armors. Grants spell resistence of 10% to the character which wears it. Cost: 3000sp

67. A cape which allows the wearer to perform minor acts of prestedigitation. Pulling rabbits from hats, and creating entertaining sparkles of light, etc. Cost: 700sp

68. A hand drill which drills completely silently. Cost: 200sp

69. A dragon’s heart. If eaten, save v., poison. If you fail you lose 1d6 con. If you succeed you gain 1d2. Cost: 300sp

70. A trained monkey. Loyalty 6, climb is 5-in-6, stealth and sleight of hand are both 3-in-6. Cost: 1100sp

71. A bronze snake headed staff. Cost: 1200sp

Identify: Allows a magic user to speak to serpents. Intelligent reptiles encountered must save v. magic. On a failure the caster gainst a +2 to their reaction roll, on a failure they take a -2 penalty because it is shameful for a non-reptile to have the staff. Staff also allows wielder to cast “Sticks to Snakes” once per day.

72. A silver snake headed staff. Cost: 1200sp

Identify: Nada

73. A pokearm which can be set against a charge, and will remain set in that spot even if you walk away. Does not move until it draws blood (which can be a harmless finger prick if you need to pick it up again). Cost: 900sp

74. A sling which always hits whatever you aim at, but never deals any damage. The impact is always just a firm tap. Cost: 600sp

75. A vampire’s tooth. While held, any cannibalism you engage in restores 2d6 hit points. Additionally, if you ever encounter the vampire whose tooth it is (1% chance each time you encounter a vampire), the tooth will give you some small measure of power over the vampire for as long as they don’t know you have it. (If they see it, your power is broken, and they will hunt you to the ends of the earth). Cost: 1100sp

76. A quill, made of peacock plume. Cost: 300sp

Identify: Nada

77. A quill, made from parrot feather. Cost: 300sp

Identify: If dipped in a person’s blood, then anything written in that person’s blood, they will say out loud as soon as you finish writing it. (Max 1 page.)

78. A bright blue potion which swirls of its own volition. Cost: 250sp

Identify: Heals 1d10+1

79. A potion which fades from pink to purple depending on the our of the day. Cost: 250sp

Identify: The imbiber can levitate up and down only. Spell ends when their feet touch the ground.

80. A black potion which looks white around the edges where it touches the container. Cost: 250sp

Identify: A potion of deliberation. No random encounters occur. Any creature you seek to encounter appears within 1 turn of beginning your search.

81. A bronze cooking pan. Cost: 150sp

Identify: Anything cooked in the pan is seasoned and marinated excellently. It’s a bitch to clean, though.

82. Teapot. Cost: 200sp

Identify: Any water in the teapot will boil within 1 minute.

83. An urn. When opened, an ash beast will be released, and attack your foes. When your foes are destroyed, the ash beast will attempt to leave. If you hold the urn towards the creature, it must save v. device. If it fails, it is returned to the jar. If it succeeds, the urn shatters, and the creature will attack you. Cost: 800sp

84. A bull headed staff. Cost: 2000sp

Identify: The wielder of the staff gains +2 strength. Those hit with the staff (with a melee attack roll) must save v. device or be knocked backwards 1d4 x 5’. If the wielder of this staff stands in the path of a charging beast, the beast must save v. magic or stop its charge. (It will still be hostile. If it succeeds, the MU will be hit by the charge. Minotaurs who see someone wielding this staff will become enraged.

85. A unicorn headed staff made of lightweight metal, unfamiliar to you. Cost: 2000sp

Identify: Nothing

86. A steel staff. The top twists like a net around a dozen rattling rat skulls. Cost: 2000sp

Identify: The wielder of this staff may summon a swarm of 12 rats each day. The swarm understands his verbal commands, but is unable to perform any task which would require more than normal rat intelligence.

87. A staff of red wood. At the tip is an eternal candle flame. Cost: 2000sp

Identify: Nada

88. A longsword which can’t hit in melee. It only hits targets which are at a distance. Targets 10’ away can be attacked normally. For each additional 10’ of distance, the attacker suffers a -2 to their hit roll. Cost: 3000sp

89. A longsword. On a successful hit, roll 1d4. On a 1-3, the sword deals only 1 damage. On a 4, the sword deals 10 damage. Cost: 1900sp

90. A Shortsword. On a killing blow, the victim explodes in a 20’ cone of boiling blood away from their attacker. Anyone in that area takes 3d6 damage, save v. breath for half. Cost: 2000sp

91. A crossbow which ignores all armor, but takes a full round to reload. Cost: 1500sp

92. A crossbow which fires bolt with a string of light attached to them. On successfully dealing damage, target must save v. paralyzation or be pulled into melee range with the crossbow wielder. Cost: 2000sp

93. 3 charming arrows. Those who are struck by them must save v. device, or be affected by a charm spell until the arrow is removed. Cost: 200sp each

94. Arrow of Unmaking. Target of a successful hit must save v. poison, or the arrow goes back in time and kills one of their parents as a child, making it as though they had never existed. Cost: 400sp

95. A shield which floats in the air, allowing the wielder to use two handed weapons. However, the shield gets in the way a bit, causing a -2 to attack rolls. Cost: 900sp

96-100. Roll a random Ioun Stone from Quann’ra-tioll Moorchlyne’s Most Excellent Compilation of all the realm’s known Ioun Stones. (A superlative game aide. There is nothing more to be written about Ioun Stones.)

Ideas for Replacement Table Replacements

-An arrow which causes all of the target’s ammunition to teleport to you.

-A Shield Shatter Arrow

-A shield. Each arrow that misses you has a 15% chance to ricochet at an enemy.

-A shield. Pour lantern oil on it, it becomes a giant lantern.

-A shield which can be sacrificed to negate a breath effect for the entire party.

-A suit of plate which grants a +2 to saves v. breath, but a -20’ penalty to movement.

-A suit of plate which can be slept in without any penalty.

-A suit of chain. When foes roll a 1, their weapons get stuck between the links of your armor, and they cannot get them out.

-A suit of chain which grants 1 more AC than normal, but missiles fired at allies have a 50% chance to redirect towards you.

-A suit of chain which can cast remove curse on the wearer once every 3 months.

-A halberd which is spectrally attuned. It strikes incorporeal creatures as if they were corporeal.

-A sword which, when drawn, releases a cloud of ash.

Randomly removed from the shop:

  • A bottle of decent-ish red wine which replenishes its own contents as it is drunk. (You drink a cup, it restores one cup’s worth.) Cost: 400sp
  • A 1’ long rod with a switch on the end. Once pressed, the rod will never move from its current position relative to its environment, until the switch is pressed again. Cost: 700sp
  • IIoun Stone 598, Small Grey Cube. “Once per day for the duration of 2 rounds, this IOUN stone allows its owner to use the stone sensing abilities of a Dwarf. Dwarves do not gain any benefit from this stone” Cost: 1500sp


Spending Money 2: Armor

Rustning,_Gustav_Vasa_-_Livrustkammaren_-_32921_smallI want players to have the option of spending money to increase their adventuring effectiveness. The most obvious way to do that is letting them purchase more and better equipment. Something tangible. A tool with an obvious benefit. It’s the road oft-travelled, and it’s no doubt what players would like to spend their money on, so it seems like a good place to start. And in the basic rules, the only piece of equipment a character might need to buy after burning through their starting cash is plate armor. Granted, they’ll likely make that purchase before they even hit level 2, but it’s the only purchasable equipment progression that exists in the game RAW, so yeah. Lets talk about armor.

One great possibility is to expand the system backwards. Why should the best AC in the game be achievable before level 2? There’s tons of room for interesting progress before that point. A lot of people have written piecemeal armor systems that could serve to engage players for 2-3 levels before they finally get to that glorious 18 AC. The equipment players buy at the start of play could be deficient, with penalties, and a chance to break. There’s an opportunity here to make players feel just how low down and dirty they are as first level adventurers. To make them scratch and claw their way to being competently equipped before we even start talking about how the baseline equipment could be better than it is.

I say we drop the starting money altogether. Players can roll on a murderhobo equipment table and embark on their first adventure wearing an empty barrel around their body as armor, and fighting with a broken bottle tied to the end of a stick.

But for now I want to focus on how armor can continue to be something players spend money on after they’ve already reached the baseline of AC18 plate armor. The goal should be to provide players with a limited set of interesting choices. These choices should be individually achievable, but unlikely to be fully attainable by any but high level characters. A level 2 fighters should be able to look forward to upgrading her armor every 1 or 2 sessions, but it’ll be a long hard road to getting her dream armor. She shouldn’t feel as though she’s not making any progress, but she should have something to strive for.

Armor Modifications

Improvements made to an existing suit of armor. With enough money, every modification could exist on a single suit of armor. However, the more mods there are, the more complicated it is to add a new mod without futzing up the previous mods. As such, mods have a cumulative cost. The first costs 50% of the base armor’s total cost, the second costs 100%, the third costs 150%, etcetera.*

Perfectly Fitted: All plate armor needs to be fitted to its owner. But the slapdash job done by most village blacksmiths is nothing compared to what a skilled artisan can accomplish. Perfectly fitted plate armor requires 1 less encumbrance than normal.

Carrying Frame: A structure of additional supports is built into the armor, distributing weight more evenly across the body and allowing the wearer to carry 6 encumbering items for every encumbrance point, rather than the standard 5.

Ornamented: The surface of the armor is decorated with fanciful patterns that communicate something about the wearer to those who encounter them before a single word is spoken. Ornamented armor affects reaction rolls. Only one type of ornamentation can be present on a given suit of armor.

Fearsome: Your ornamentation is filled with scenes of battle. It proclaims that you are a foe to be reckoned with. Characters with a level lower than yours are impressed and your reaction improves by 1. Those who are higher level than you see your display as petulant, and your reaction decreases by 1.

Ostentatious: Your ornamentation focuses on your wealth. Gold and gems may be included in the ornamentation. Reaction improves by 1 with any characters who are part of a culture where wealth is a sign of status and power. (ie. human society, generally). Reaction is decreased by 1 with bandits, revolutionaries, or anyone from a society where strength dictates status.

Religious: You openly display your devotion to your particular religion on your armor. Reaction with adherents of said religion is improved by 2. Reaction with foes of your religion is decreased by 2. Many creatures will be unaffected.

Barbed: A series of sharp spikes across the armor, strategically placed so as not to interfere with the character’s movement or peaceful activities, but which make it very difficult for an attacker to grab hold of the character. Characters wearing barbed armor are treated as 1 hit dice higher than normal when attempting to resist an enemy grapple.

Silvered: A latticework of silver is inlaid across the armor’s surface. While worn, the armor offers a +2 to any saves made against the powers of undead creatures, such as level drain. If no save is normally allowed, then the character is instead allowed a Save v. Magic at a -2 penalty to resist the effect.

Superbly Padded: Extremely comfortable, without being oppressive. The wearer can sleep while wearing their armor for up to 3 nights in a row without taking any penalties.

Buoyant: Through mind-boggling engineering that I lack the ability to come up with, it is possible to swim while wearing this armor as though the character were wearing no armor at all.

*Does anyone better at math than I am want to take a crack at a better price structure?

Armor Materials

Here we come perhaps uncomfortably close to outright selling magic items. Whether you include this will depend entirely on the highness or lowness of the fantasy in your games.

Steel is an excellent metal. It’s light, it’s tough, and most importantly it’s plentiful. But if your coffers are deep enough to afford a metal that isn’t plentiful, then there are better options. These fictional metals have special properties when shaped into armor. These are completely natural physical effects, which may seem magical only due to the extreme rarity of the substance.

Only a single rare metal may be used in the construction of a set of armor. Alloys are theoretically possible, but not financially feasible.

Feathersteel: An incredibly lightweight metal. Armor made from it is treated as 1 encumbrance lower than normal. (So, perfectly fitted, feathersteel armor would be completely unencumbering.) Suit of full plate: 3,000sp.

Nightstone: Within 4″ of the surface of this metal, light is dimmed and sound is muffled. Stealth rolls are improved by 2. (Not ignoring any penalties from armor or encumbrance). Speaking requires either that the wearer shout to be heard, or remove their helmet. Suit of full plate: 4,000sp.

Cold Iron: Something about this metal, it’s completely unknown precisely what, drives creatures of the lower planes into a mad frenzy. Any polite social interaction becomes impossible. But, oddly, they also seem resistant to attack a target wearing this armor. If they must, they will do so, but the wearer’s armor class is raised by 2, due to the demon’s reticence to actually come in contact with the hated metal. Suit of full plate: 6,000sp.

Viridescent Cobalt: Something about the way light refracts off of viridescent cobalt isn’t received well by the human eye. With time and focus, the eye can adjust to get a good look at it so long as it doesn’t move. But otherwise, it’s just a green blur. Armor made from viridescent cobalt provides a +1 to armor class against humanoid foes. Suit of full plate: 12,000sp.

Azurika:  A pale blue metal which is uniquely unaffected by magic. Why magic works and exists in the first place is a concept that is little understood, so why Azurika seems stubbornly resistant to it remains a mystery. But those who wear armor made of it receive a +2 bonus to saves against magical effects.  Suit of full plate: 18,000sp.

Related Posts

The goal of the spending money posts.

A really neat post about armor.

Spending Money 1: I’ve got thirty thousand gold pieces and nothing to spend them on.

8b179ff4ae0da82ec9de423c03d1-grandeI want to have a conversation about how players can spend their money.

There never seems to be an interesting thing to spend money on. This is a pretty consistent problem in the OSR style games I’ve played. The 1gp = 1xp model is awesome, it puts the game’s focus right where it needs to be. But once that money has done its job of incrementally moving the players closer to their next level, little thought is given to what happens next. Players just amass hoards of useless wealth.

The baseline assumption of oldschool D&D is that players who have a lot of gold will spend it on a stronghold and an army of hirelings. But that’s poorly suited to a lot of games, which focus entirely on party-based adventure and eschew domain-level play. And even when domain play works within the game, that doesn’t mean it’s interesting to every player.

Most OSR games I’ve played have also implemented some variant of the carousing rules at this point, which is good. Carousing is a great option to have. But it can’t be the only option. I mean, it’s basically just a fancy way of setting all your money on fire.

When one of my characters is flush with cash, I want to spend that money on something that will make me more effective. I want a better chance of getting out of the next dungeon with my hit points above 0 because of the money I spent. Of course, the easy way to accomplish this is to have a big list of magic items with humongous price tags, à la Pathfinder. But that’s boring and dumb and I hate it.

For a long time now I’ve wanted to write a broad examination of every interesting money sink I can think of. I had kind of a false start on this idea about 18 months ago.  The scope of the project was a little overwhelming, and every time I spoke with someone about it they had all these neat ideas I’d never considered before, which made the scope even larger and more overwhelming. What’s clear is that a lot of people have come up with a lot of solutions to this problem that I’ve never heard of. I want to absorb it all. I want to share my own ideas, and examine other people’s ideas.

So if you have an idea, I’d love it if you told me about it. If you wrote a blog post or you know of a blog post, I’d love to be linked to it. I myself have already written a lot on this subject. (The “curio shop” idea is a 14 page google doc all by itself.) So expect a lot of posts from me on this topic for the next week or so at least.

Related Posts:

The original impetus that spawned this idea.

A first attempt at coming up with things to spend money on.

The Google+ conversation for this post, which raised some good resources.

Eric Treasure’s idea.

James Young’s Idea.

A direct response to this post from d4 Caltrops

A Better Use for Bookshelves

Big-BookshelvesTwo years ago I wrote “A Use for Bookshelves.” It’s one of my favorite game ideas that I’ve ever come up with.

But it’s a clunky system. I’ve been using it in pretty much every dungeon I’ve designed in the last two years, and it’s always a hassle. Preparing a table of interesting information is a lot of work. It’s tiring, and I end up resorting to options that feel cheap. Like hollow books with a few gold coins in them, or completely random information that has nothing to do with the ‘theme’ of the bookshelf.

When I wrote the bookshelf system, I believed in front-loading game content. I wanted to create a huge game environment with mountains of detail. A fleshed out sandbox where the players could pick any direction to move, and there would be something for them to find there. But attempting to put that philosophy in practice has meant a lot more work for very little apparent benefit. Now, I think player interest should drive the referee’s worldbuilding. The sandbox still needs to be structured in advance, but the details don’t need to be at the referee’s fingertips before play begins. Take, for example, bookshelves.

Each bookshelf has a subject, and a number. That’s the only thing  prepared in advance.

All the books on the bookshelf fall within its subject. So a bookshelf about fishing might have books about types of fish, methods of fishing, history of fishing, ways of cooking fish, etc. The actual books don’t need to be enumerated or titled. The shelf’s theme just gives you a range of possibilities.

The number has two functions. First, it is the number of encumbrance points (not encumbering items) required to haul the books off. So “Bookcase: Fishing 12” will require the party to use 12 encumbrance points to get the books out of the dungeon. If they like, they can break the library up, taking as few as 1 encumbrance point worth of books with them. But if you only take 1 encumbrance point worth of books, then you only have Fishing 1 at your disposal, rather than Fishing 12.

The number is also the amount of questions that can be answered by the books before they’ve absorbed all of the knowledge the shelf has to give them. The question must be reasonably within the bookshelves’ subject, but other than that any question is fair game. Answering a single question requires 12 hours of game time book studying. If the referee doesn’t already know the answer, they’ll figure it out by the start of the next game session.

So, for example, the players find bookshelf: Religion 8. Between everyone, the party only has 6 available encumbrance points, so they haul Religion 6 back to the surface.  The cleric wants to know if there are any holy relics of his deity within 100 miles that he could recover for the glory of his god. The referee happens to have included such an item in a nearby dungeon, so after the character takes 12 hours to study the books, the referee tells the players about the dungeon, and that there should be a relic there. The fighter, meanwhile, wants to know if there’s any god badass enough for her to want to worship. The referee doesn’t really have a good answer, so after the session ends he comes up with a heavenly dog who has swords for legs and eagles instead of eyes. He presents the fighter with that info at the start of the next session.

Not only does this dramatically reduce the amount of work that the referee has to do, but it also gives the players a unique tool that they’ll be interested to use. The old system was a means of dispensing clues and quest hooks that would spark the player’s interest. This system is a tool to satiate an interest the players already have.

I’m eager to test this out.

LotFP/FFX Class: Wakka

FFX_Wakka_ArtWakka is a Blitzballer. Blitzball is a kind of soccer-like sport that is played entirely underwater. The physical demands of the sport are intense, and it thus produces amazing athletes. Retired or washed-out players often find a life of adventure to be a profitable post-career pursuit.

The class has a 1d8 hit die. They advance in level and saving throws as a fighter, and attack as a specialist. They are able to make unarmed attacks dealing 1d6 damage, rising to 1d8 at level 4, and then 1d10 at level 8.

Blitzballers are notable for their skill at moving in water. Much of their intense athletic training focused on the ability to remain underwater for long periods and still play an effective game. Blitzballers are thus able to hold their breath for up to 1 hour per level, and can move and attack underwater just as effectively as they do on land.

The blitzball itself is a unique item. Few have the skills and knowledge required to craft them, and the materials are expensive to acquire. A regulation blitzball for use in the sport costs 300sp. Some adventuring blitzballers have discovered modifications to the regulation ball to make it a more effective combat weapon. A level 1 blitzballer begins play with a regulation blitzball. If lost, they must pay to replace it.

To the true blitzballer, the blitzball is an extension of the self. Which, of course, is why they’re able to make unarmed attacks with their blitzball. The attack range increment is 30′ + 10′ every 2 levels. They deal damage by targeting nerve clusters. And on a natural 20, the target of a blitzballer’s attack must save v. Paralyzation or their body will go completely limp until their next turn. Of course, this only works with creatures who have nerve clusters. On a successful attack, the Blitzball will then ricochet back into the blitzballer’s hands. On a failed attack, the blitzballer has miscalculated their throw. They must spend a round retrieving their ball before they can attack with it again.

Flying creatures are particularly prone to the blitzballer’s attacks. If a flying creature is hit by a blitzball attack, it must immediately save versus Paralyation or fall to the ground. Creatures which fly without wings (such as someone under the effects of a Fly spell) receive a +4 to this save.

LotFP/FFX Class: Yuna

YunaYuna is a summoner. Summoners tend to be waifish and pale; a result of long hours of monastic study, meditation, and prayer. They share their hit dice, experience progression, and attack bonuses with magic Users, and have the same save progression as a cleric. Summoners can also cast clerical spells as though they were a cleric 2 levels lower than their Summoner level. (So a level 3 summoner has the casting abilities of a 1st level cleric).

Summoners spend their lives learning to communicate with realms beyond the physical plane. When encountering Outsiders or Elementals, those creatures react to the summoner with the same courtesy they would show a member of their own race. This is not an illusion or misdirection, the summoner simply knows how to present themselves correctly to these creatures.

When a group of humans, or one particularly powerful human, undergo a ritual which puts them into an ageless sleep. The intense dreams of each group merge and twist together, eventually coalescing into a creature called an Aeon. Summoners have a particular connection with Aeons, and indeed the monastic road of the Summoner and the sacrificial road of the dreamer are two paths within the same secretive faith.

Aeons are unique and independent creatures. They are not mere expressions of the groups who formed them. They have their own wills and desires, and while they do generally like summoners, they do not necessarily want to serve every summoner they encounter. The summoner receives a +2 to their reaction roll when meeting an Aeon for the first time, and must convince the Aeon that they are a summoner worthy of the Aeon’s services. I highly recommend Courtney Campbell’s “On the Non Player Character” for adjudicating this process. The rules in Appendix A: Arguing would be particularly apt here.

Once an Aeon has been bound to the Summoner, they will obey the Summoner unquestioningly. They will appear when called, and obey any command they are given. Despite being summoned creatures, the particular nature of Aeons means that if they die, they are dead and cannot be returned to life even by the most powerful magics. The summoner must make a save v. Magic or take a negative level from the death of their Aeon.

A summoner may contract with as many Aeons as they wish. However, they may only ever summon 1 Aeon a day, which will remain in the physical world for 8 hours. (12 after level 5). The process of being summoned is a turbulent one, which partially drains the Aeon’s of their energy. More practiced summoners will be able to make the process easier, and so the Hit Dice of a summoned Aeon usually depend somewhat on the hit dice of the summoner.

Aeons created by dreamers who willingly underwent the ritual of eternal sleep are unusually powerful; but these willing dreamers are rare.

Example Aeon

Valefor is a reptilian flying creature, with the body mass of a bull and a wingspan of 44′. She is covered in colorful feathers in hues of purple and red. A crest of stringy white hair cascades from the top of her head, down to the base of her neck. She is refined in her manner. She speaks very properly and acts with (and expects) courtesy. She’s also self pitying to a somewhat annoying degree, though she does make an effort not to complain too loud or too often.

AC 15, 2+[ 1/2 Summoner’s Level] HD, Move 60′(20′)/270′(70′), 2 Claws 1d4, 1 Beak 1d8, Morale 12

Desired Outcome: Valefor joins the summoner. (*)(*)

(I’m of no use to anyone.)[Remind Valefor of past glories.]

(There are many better Aeons than me.)[Demonstrate that Valefor will offer the summoner something that no other Aeon will.]

(If I were to join you, I would be likely to die.)[Make some meaningful gesture of dedication to keeping Valefor alive.]

(I cannot bind myself to anyone who is unrefined.)[Demonstrate refinement.]

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Thoughts and theories on tabletop games.