See, there was this old Dragon article called “Bazaar of the Bizarre”, so…
Magic has become too darn functional lately. By this I mean, magic items are carefully designed to provide bonuses in adventuring situations, and that’s pretty much it. You’d think that in a world where +2 Axiomatic Blades are churned out by the bucketload, there would also be a lot of interesting and unusual items… but they’re rarely seen or mentioned.
Bah, I say! Bah!
While this article was written with 4e in mind, most of the items here are relatively systemless and can be easily used in any fantasy game.
(“For use with any fantasy game” is 1970s speak for “For use with Dungeons & Dragons & Trademark Attorneys”)
These items are intended to be part of the “cash” of treasure parcels, and so have no set price. The magic in them is generally very minor, below the level of a 1st level item, so the “value” of them has more to do with their construction and materials. Thus, you can pretty much set them to any price point you wish; for those in need of flavor text hints, I’ve provided some descriptions for the various tiers.
I am hoping this will be a semi-regular feature. Some of my players might recognize these items, as I’ve tossed them in as treasure. Some are new.
It’s certainly possible that players will find ways to use these “decorative” items for more utilitarian (Meaning: Kill things and take their stuff) purposes. Lizard’s Guide To Viking Hat DMing says: “Cleverness should be rewarded…. once.” Once you let a clever idea become a rote response, it stops being a clever idea. Let them get away with a brilliant and unconventional plan when it’s brilliant and unconventional — as soon as it ceases to be so, lay the hammer down.
This ring has a simple illusion charm on it, that allows it to appear to be a ring of any style, and set with any gem, that the wearer desires. The maximum seeming value of the ring is 100 gp/level at heroic tier, 1000 gp/level at paragon tier, and 5000 gp/level at epic tier. The illusion fades instantly if the ring is removed. It cannot take on the form of a signet ring, ring of office, or other such item, and it will leave no impression on any surface other than that of the undisguised ring.
- Heroic Tier: A band of silver, set with a series of brightly colored semi-precious stones.
- Paragon Tier: Twined bands of silver and gold, set with a small diamond, ruby, and emerald.
- Heroic Tier: A ring formed from fused and interlocking gems, polished to perfect smoothness.
Parchment costs money, damn it! An Eternal Scroll is a piece of parchment, papyrus, vellum, or paper, depending on the local tech level, which is in all ways normal, except that it can completely cleanse itself of all writing upon command. It does not hide or distort what is written upon it, and once erased, the writing cannot be recovered. Some spies do make use of it to send messages which the recipient can blank upon reading, but it’s not much more useful in that regard than just tossing it into the fire. Students of wizardry often use this item when taking lecture notes, reusing it once they’ve studied sufficiently. A common prank at institutions of magical learning is to loudly shout out commonly-used words of erasure and then run from the horde of angry students whose notes have now been consigned to oblivion.
- Heroic Tier: A single piece of writing paper, about 8 x 12 inches.
- Paragon Tier: A large scroll, about four feet long when unrolled.
- Heroic Tier: A tome of many pages, each of which can be written on or erased independently.
Garments Of The Fastidious
While these items of clothing can be found in an immense variety of styles, all are, or were, the height of fashion. Any type of clothing — hats, pants, cloaks, dresses, belts, and so on — may be found enchanted in this manner. Such items will have a command word written on them in some obscure place, and possibly in a hard-to-read script. When the word is spoken, the item becomes perfectly clean, all filth, muck, and mire removed, as if by a prestidigitation cantrip.
- Heroic Tier: An item of fine clothing, such as that which might be worn by a well-to-do merchant, or a full set of such clothing, of slightly lesser worth.
- Paragon Tier: Several items of rich clothing, made from slightly exotic materials such as giant spider silk or wyvern scales.
- Epic Tier: A full set of luxurious clothing, mostly made from truly rare materials such as elder dragon scale and astral thread.
Goblets Of Treachery
This is a set of four goblets, all seemingly identical. Around the base of each, in very finely carved letters in an ancient form of supernal script, is the phrase “Courage And Betrayal Are Brothers”. When any of the goblets is held and the toast “To our mutual success!” is pronounced, any poison in the goblet held by the speaker suffers a -2 penalty to its attack rolls and the speaker gains a +2 item bonus to any saves against ongoing damage from that poison, while the poison in the other goblets gains a +2 item bonus to its attack rolls and and imposes a -2 penalty to saving throws. This effect fades if not consumed within 5 minutes or if the liquid is removed from the goblets.
- Heroic Tier: A set of well-made bronze goblets, lined with obsidian at the rim and base.
- Paragon Tier: A set of exquisite gold goblets, with the stems carved into sinuous dragons. Emeralds are set into the dragons’ eyes.
- Epic Tier: A set of goblets, each carved from a single diamond, with gold bands at the base and rim.
Mirror of Many Seemings
This mirror is of Eladrin make, and is typical of the many minor items of magic that they have decorating their homes and cities. It is normally a hand mirror, and, when held, will show the holder as they would appear with any desired hairstyle, makeup, tattoos, facial jewelry, headpiece, and so on. It’s a good way to “try out” a new look before committing to it. Particularly vain Eladrin — vain even by Eladrin standards — have been known to spend hours with these items, consumed by the search for perfection.
- Heroic Tier: A mirror of fine polished glass in a silver frame.
- Paragon Tier: A mirror of glass made from elemental earth, set in a platinum frame. The frame has small rubies set into it, as well.
- Epic tier: A mirror of solidified astral plasm, in a frame of polished dragonbone.
Pipe Of Visions
When this pipe is smoked, the smoker can shape the smoke into distinct shapes — a cat, a woman, a sword, and so on. The shapes are wispy and smoky, of course, and do not block line of sight or provide any sort of cover. They are, however, fairly amusing. Creating a shape is a minor action.
- Heroic Tier: A simple wooden pipe, very well carved, with a pattern of diamond flakes set so as to mimic a well-known constellation.
- Paragon Tier: A pipe of treant wood, strengthened with gold bands which are inscribed with meaningless, but impressive seeming, mystic symbols. This pipe will allow the smoker to add tintings of basic color to the images they form, as well.
- Epic Tier: A pipe of wood from an astral dominion. It is carven with images of gamboling fey creatures, and when the pipe is smoked, the carved images dance and cavort. It also allows the addition of colors, as above.
Tankards Of The Lazy Tavern Wench
Despite the name, these come in many forms — tankards, goblets, wineglasses, and so on. Whenever a liquid is poured into one, it will fill all of them. This does not create any new liquid; it merely distributes the liquid equally to all items of the set within 10 squares (50 feet). Thus, to fill four one-pint tankards, four pints of ale are poured into one of them, and all four fill equally. The “source” tankard needs line of effect, but not line of sight, to the “destination” tankards. These items typically come in sets of 4 to 12.
- Heroic Tier: A set of four silver tankards, well crafted, with crystal covers. Each has a different image from the life of a local hero embossed onto the side.
- Paragon Tier: A set of eight delicate wineglasses, made of perfectly clear and very hard crystal (Resist 10 All). The wineglasses will play delicate musical notes as they are filled.
- Epic Tier: A set of seven shotglasses. Each is carved from the tooth of a balor, and marked with a rune symbolic of one of the seven deadly sins of the local faith.
Again, this may be something other than a horn, though it is almost always a wind instrument, and a loud one at that. By speaking one phrase, followed by a time (often expressed as “One hour past sunrise” or the like, accurate clocks not being a feature of most campaign settings), the horn is set. When the time comes, it will sound furiously, creating a noise which can be heard within 10 squares with no Perception check and within 20 squares with a DC 5 Perception check. A second command must be spoken to end the noise (it will also end by itself in 5+1d6 rounds), but this command must be spoken while holding the horn. Waking Horns often also possess a small bit of teleportation magic, and will reappear at their owner’s bedside even if he has flung it out of a tower window. Sneaking such a horn into someone’s bedchamber is a common practical joke. The noise is audible to all, so Waking Horns are rarely taken by adventurers into the wilderness, unless they like wandering monsters as breakfast guests. (Drow, it is said, have used specially bred shriekers for as a substitute for this item.)
- Heroic Tier: A simple brass horn, decently made, with small gold and silver decorations.
- Paragon Tier: A well carved ivory hunting horn, made from a mastodon’s tusk, and strengthened with bands of platinum.
- Epic Tier: A serpent (http://www.music.iastate.edu/antiqua/serpent.htm), made from an actual giant snake, transmuted to bronze by magic. It is covered with yuan-ti hieroglyphs that, if translated, say something like “Happy magic excitement milk of battleaxe!”