Author Topic: Items of historical significance and of magical potency  (Read 1661 times)

Rafu

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Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« on: October 03, 2016, 08:02:29 AM »
In examining treasures, yesterday session, doubles were rolled for the first time. Twice.

For an item of historical significance and value, since the circumstances of the PCs acquiring treasure suggested small portable riches and currency (we remembered the treasure coming from re-selling a slain enemy's fine but distinctive weaponry on the black market, specifically to a certain drinking-smoke pusher, while carrying the enemy's corpse, rolled inside a carpet, to its designated disposal site in the worst part of town) I described ancient silver coins, a millennium old or so, with the effigy of an infamous wizard-emperor of yore.
I'm thinking of this as an "adventure hook", in that the PCs are probably going to look for a collector to buy the coins - some named NPC with their own agenda, and maybe not that easy to find - to exchange them with more (than just a unit of) treasure.

For an item of magical potency, I went with an actual magical item in the D&D sense - except I didn't want to mess directly with the rules of the game. Further, it had to be a piece of jewelery, since the treasure being examined was jewelery a wealthy lady had given the PCs in payment for the murder they carried out. I chose something I half-remembered from reading The Seclusium of Orphone: a pair of magical earrings of which the right one allows the bearer to go without sleeping because all their tiredness is transferred to the person wearing the left one, who thus has to sleep most of the time or will die of exhaustion. Needless to say, Nictus - the stern and ambitious necromancer - has plans for how to put these earrings to use already.

Paul T.

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2016, 10:24:58 PM »
I like that! Very nice.

Rafu

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2016, 11:29:12 PM »
Another item of magical potency I'm musing about - not to be taken off my guard next time they get one from their roll - is a sword fashioned out of jasminite: too brittle to be used as a weapon against corporeal enemies (it would break on first impact), it's nonetheless capable of cutting through ghosts and other incorporeal creatures (dealing them the full 2 harm of an actual sword).

lumpley

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2016, 12:02:15 PM »
YES

Rafu

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2016, 11:59:26 AM »
So, I had half-dreamt that placing the antique silver coins to a buyer would have been a bit of an adventure, potentially yielding 1 unexamined treasure to each player participating in it, as their share...

However, Iago started making a plan for selling the coins while the other PCs were busy doing other things (you know, Dix was getting lost around some or some other cemetery, as usual, trying to help out some lonesome ghost, while Vetin was enjoying High Living to a battlecry of "shopping! shopping!!!" and Nictus - his player absent from the session - was studying alone, having left strict instructions not to disturb him).
Iago rolled successfully to Regroup & Prepare, chose to study the situation and make a plan - the situation being he'd got a bunch of antique coins from the age of the Wizard-Emperor Zagyg* weighing in his purse - and asked me who in Vanetys was well known to buy collectible antiques. It made sense for me to answer openly and not withhold information (it had previously been established that Iago is from the city and knows his way around it, so he'd know such a thing), so i rolled a bunch of dice looking at the "powerful person" sections of the Job Framework table in Hand to Mouth, for inspiration. Then I answered:
"The wealthy overseer of a commercial enterprise... the boss of the calendar-making house, you know... is known to be an avid collector of antiques. You've also heard rumors that Aktebeth, a mercenary wizard providing sorcerous services to the wealthiest [I'd rolled a "young ambitious wizard" and opted to slot in a character who was already in my notebook], buys anything related to Zagyg,* for some reason of their own. Oh, and of course, there was this princess from House Turisvadys - what was her name - everybody's heard about her collection of coins from all over the world, and possibly other worlds as well."

Iago opted to contact the publisher and the princess, stating he was quite afraid of dealing with wizards. As part of telling him about the situation and having him make a plan, I told him that everybody knew where the calendar-making house was as well as which palace the princess lived in and that, while getting the princess to receive him would have been an astonishing feat, getting to speak with a house clerk was trivial enough. First he went to the publishing house and we quickly role-played a clerk setting him up with an appointment with the master, the he went to the princess's palace and lined up with other petitioners, to a similar effect. But it just happened that the princess's clerk took one of the coins as a sample, to submit to his mistress's attention, and gave Iago a written receipt...

Little I knew that the receipt was later to prove a classic Checov's gun! When Iago was in the middle of breaking and entering into a dead necromancer's butcher shop to plant false evidence connecting the deceased to a murder he had perpetrated, he rolled to size up the room for extra information but got a 6, and I was all like: "Ask me a question anyway, but then tell me what is it that you accidentally drop and unwittingly leave behind..."

But back on track. Iago had originally planned to sell the coins to the highest bidder, but when he got to meet with the calendar publisher, that shrewd collector asked him where the coins where from... After babbling something about a family heirloom, Iago got the collector to cede to his Demand to stop asking questions, but as it always is with that move, there had to be an "if": the collector's condition was, of course, that Iago had to sell the coins to him immediately, before "he changed his mind". In the end, Iago got the equivalent of 2 unexamined treasures out of the deal, but skipped his appointed audience with the princess, never getting back the sample coin. This leaves a loose thread, with some opportunities for even more future trouble...

All things considered, Iago had started with a piece of treasure and doubled it, but with a lot of strings attached.

* I know, I know... It was the first name which crossed my mind when I first described the coins, and now I'm stuck with it. Accidental Gary Gygax tribute (not that any other player got it, but I feel sorta silly writing it here).

Paul T.

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2016, 04:04:48 PM »
Rafu,

Do you ever find odd cases where the line between "here's this valuable thing" and "here's an unexamined treasure" starts to blur?

If so, how do you handle it?

I'm thinking of something like, "He hands you a bag full of coins." "Wait a minute, how much is it worth? I go home and pour out the contents onto my desk..." Would you roll to 'examine treasure' here?

Rafu

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2016, 08:42:16 PM »
I'm thinking of something like, "He hands you a bag full of coins." "Wait a minute, how much is it worth? I go home and pour out the contents onto my desk..." Would you roll to 'examine treasure' here?
That's exactly what we've been doing so far. That time Iago rolled doubles, it was precisely like that, and that's why I was like: "Uh, I suppose these are antique coins."

Paul T.

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2016, 03:47:53 AM »
Cool!

Has that been mostly unproblematic, or do you foresee some possible issues? Has it ever felt really awkward?

I suppose skipping the initial "what is the treasure" roll sometimes could be a solution. ("We already know it's a  statuette; let's see what it's worth to you.")

Rafu

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2016, 08:08:21 AM »
Well, when you roll for treasure you're really "zooming out" of the scene to a more "abstract" or "montage" mode of play, so I suppose that could turn awkward if somebody doesn't "get" it. I also assume that's why examining treasure is more of a "peripheral move" than a basic one. At my table, that takes a few assumptions, that that's what they're entitled to so let's not get hung on the small details of when and how, that we're willing to stretch our imagination a little to the PCs advantage.

In general, I don't see anything like a "what is the treasure" roll in here, though. To me, the point is exactly is that you don't care, or rather that's implied by the circumstances, while the examine treasure roll is a roll to determine what you get to trade your (never described, not important in itself) treasure for. However rolling doubles reverses that, making the actual found thing important: this was (just slightly) awkward - in that we knew where the treasure was from and this imposed limits on what it could plausibly be, as explained in my top post - and required some retconning:
  • Did I tell you the dwarf had paid you out in a mix of bottled smoke and other valuables? I guess the bottled smoke was a negligible part of the overall value, then. What's really interesting here is... uhm... a bunch of silver coins... and they're, like, very old coins...
  • The thing you were examining was a piece of jewelry from the Black Hostess, right? Oh, well, I guess she never realized she'd got magical jewelry in her chest, possibly because she's always worn both earrings at the same time. I wonder where she got these from? But to you, it's immediately apparent that these are no normal earrings...
Also, I've started thinking that tracing these magical earrings to their source (I mean, doing it myself in my prep) may bring some new interesting Trouble.

Paul T.

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2016, 04:05:02 PM »
Ah, right! It's the "rolling doubles" chart I'm thinking of. I misremembered it as being part of the regular process, but, no, it only happens sometimes.

Has the awkwardness been OK in play, or do you foresee adjusting this somewhat in the future?

Rafu

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2016, 11:44:28 PM »
I'm more of an advocate for adjusting to it, if at all possible. I suppose it's too early to say.

Rafu

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2016, 09:10:49 AM »
Vincent, are magic items such as the earrings and jasminite sword I've described in this thread supposed to take up "Attendant magics" slots?

lumpley

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2016, 01:42:59 PM »
Yes, although I don't imagine that the rules say so as written.

Once you have wizardry, they simply and automatically become part of your grimoire instead.

-Vincent

Rafu

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2016, 09:38:23 PM »
Thanks!

Rafu

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Re: Items of historical significance and of magical potency
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2016, 11:21:49 AM »
One more thought...

Magic items that replicate spells - do these have a role in FV? And, if so, are they appropriate as items of magical potency found as treasure, or should they be part of a wizard's grimoire exclusively?

I was thinking of a flask of enchanted liquor which affects the drinker as the "Becoming minuscule" spell. It could work exactly as the spell - i.e. cast the spell - but unsettling the plasmid doesn't work as an outcome for a spell you don't own a tablet of and can't call into our world again. Thus, I was thinking of the flask starting with a number of doses (2-4, probably 3) which act as the spell's rating: for exceptions, you roll dice equal to the doses you drink, a roll of 6 means you've drunk one dose more (or all of it?), and to change your roll you need to drink one dose more (or gulp all of the bottle?). A significant difference from a regular casting of the spell, though, is that you can share the flask (or can you? it's interesting how this would interact with the "max 4 attendant magics" rule)...

The question being: does the above make any sense, or am I trespassing into design space which is already reserved for a wizard's grimoire?