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OK, gang...I've made a few magic items and I thought I'd share, because I think they're neat, and because I'd like some help in pricing/balancing, etc.

 

The game is D&D 3.5, so that's what I'm statting these to fit. Anyone who wants to is welcome to put together stats for these items in 4E, 2E, PF or GURPS (really, if nobody ports any of this into Savage Worlds I'd be surprised, around here) if you want, but I'd specifically like some help for 3.5. (Eberron in particular, but that hardly changes any of the numerical stats). Here goes:

 

The large, flattened rectangle in the center of the thick-piled Aereni carpet belies the sarcophagus that so recently dominated this chamber. The vampire that dwelt here has obviously moved on, but she left a variety of items throughout the room. In one dimly-lit corner is a bronzewood writing desk carved in the graceful style of the elven homeland. Inside the hood of the desk is a writing tray laden with four vials of ink and a stand of four quills.

 

The Ink:

  • Black: Though the ink-pot is a beautiful piece of blown glass capped with a hinged lid of mithril-chased silver, neither it nor the ink it holds have any special properties.
  • Blue: This ink-pot was cast using the lost-wax method from byeshk. The thick ink within is a radiant blue and was distilled from the blood of a Kalashtar before crushed lapis was added to give it its hue. Any words written with this ink bear a mild divination aura, and the author is given a brief view of the first person to read those words.
    • (Think of this as a read-receipt on an email. The ink, when read, allows the author a moment of clairaudience, as the spell, giving them a glimpse of the reader. This effect only works once for a given body of text--you don't get a longer view of the reader if you wrote a novel instead of a sentence.)
  • Red: This pot is carved from bronzewood, but has been coated in a dark stain that brings out the tight, shining grain and waterproofs the inside. Though blood-red, this ink has actually been brewed from a variety of berries and crushed bark, and snake venom. It radiates a faint magical aura, the result of a preservative spell preventing the ink from losing its potency. A deeper study reveals the ink is a potent contact poison that attacks the victim's nervous system.
    • (Contact poison, Fort save DC 19. A successful save wards off the effects of the poison for one day. A failure results in 1d4 DEX damage and another save in six hours. This continues for 24 hours, with a cumulative +1 DEX damage for each successive failure in addition to the 1d4. This wasting is accompanied by a violent palsy, and casters take a cumulative +10% arcane spell failure chance each time they lose DEX in this fashion. The end result is a potential 4d4+6 DEX damage and 100% spell failure in a 24-hour period)
  • Green: The smoky glass of this bottle is just transparent enough to show a viscous liquid within. The ink itself is a bilious green that dries to the color of a rotting olive on the page. It was, in fact, distilled from the stomach of a Gibbering Mouther.
    • Anyone reading the words written with this ink must make a DC 18 Fort save as the words begin to smoke, emanating a damp green haze. The haze burns slightly, inflicting 1d4 HP of acid damage; a failed save also means the reader is blinded for as long as the book lays open plus 1d6 minutes. In addition, if anyone attempts to use the written words as a focus for any divination magic on the author, the diviner must make a DC 14 Will save or suffer the effects of a Confusion spell for 1d4 minutes.

 

The Quills:

 

  • Green Jay: Made from the tailfeather of this brightly-plumed jay, this quill has a particularly fine nib, but is too short to be particularly comfortable in the hands of a human. The smallfolk--gnomes, halflings and goblins--could certainly use it, and an elf's nimble fingers could manipulate this quill easily. Aside from the odd size, this quill is unremarkable.
  • Crow: Writing with this quill draws the user's blood through the nib. Writing more than a few words drains 1d4 CON per page written, and the pen gives the impression of being thirsty; once it has started to drain CON, it will take its fill, sometimes leaving large blots of "ink" spattered on the page.
    • (mechanically, the threshold of written words before the pen starts draining CON is up to the DM, Flavor-wise, I see this as a pen made for signing contracts; a savvy magic user will realize that, although there is no magic that binds a signatory to his contract in this pen, having someone's signature written in their own blood would make it very easy to scry on that person. The blood-spatter on the page is something I came up with for when a player inevitably tries to reduce the drain by dropping the pen; once it's been determined that the pen is taking a page's worth of blood, it will take it even if the writer doesn't complete the page).
  • Eagle: Made from a great raptor's pinion, this quill endows an author with a confidence in her written words. Those who read messages written with this quill are much more likely to believe what they read.
    • (An author makes an appropriate CHA check while writing with this quill; what kind of check depends on the content of the written word, but either diplomacy or bluff could be appropriate. Anyone reading the original writing--copies don't work!--must then make a Will save, DC the author's check. Failure means the words written bear considerable weight and seem wholly accurate. This is not a compulsion effect; one could not write a command such as "jump off the cliff" and expect it to be followed. This is more like what you feel when reading a trusted periodical or a textbook, backed up by magic. A clever player might write, "jumping off cliffs is no more dangerous than walking to the tavern, and considerably more fun," and a particularly impressionable reader may decide to give this new pastime a try. The ultimate result, which is hard to put in concrete game mechanics, is that a failed save makes the author's words seem very true or "right;" there's just no reason to question these words.)
  • Owl: This quill, a bright white with dark bars, draws the user's blood into the nib as well, but only if in the hands of a magic-user, and only if used to scribe spells into a spellbook or onto a scroll. In other situations, it works like a normal quill, though it almost seems to repel ink, running dry far more quickly than it should and scratching heavily on the page. When used to its purpose, it writes smoothly and easily.
    • (a magic-user may scribe spells with this quill, but will take 1d4 HP damage per spell level scribed. At the time of writing, the author should make a caster level check for each spell scribed. The benefit of this is that anyone other than the author attempting to use the written spell must make a Will save vs the original caster level check in order to read the spell correctly. Failure means the text reads as something rather mundane that is quickly forgotten. The flavor here should be that the text doesn't appear to be code on a failed save, just uninteresting.)

 

Soo...thoughts? I'd like to hear anything anyone thinks. My biggest sticking points right now are the save DCs and numeric effects of the red and green inks (the red is pretty nasty as it stands, and the green is pretty pumped up from the Gibbering Mouther from whence it came), and the size die used for the blood drain effect on the Owl quill. Really, any numeric/die values are a little iffy to me. I fly pretty casual as a DM, often my DCs during a game fluctuate based on my gut, so putting together hard stats with a good balance isn't the easiest thing for me to do. Also, what would you expect a purchase price to be for some of these?

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I am not sure what you would price them at, they are very flavorful items, trying to build them based on DMG guidelines would mean they would be pretty expensive. Other than for a very specific requirement (like destroying an artifact or deciphering some exotic curse) I don't know why a PC would want to make them though. They feel like parts of an artifact set, I could see Keoghtom or Nolzur creating such a set, perhaps joined with a particular spellbook or writing desk. If they then granted some set benefits that could drive a group of adventurers to try and gather them together.

 

The DCs are very high. Most magic item DCs are based on the minimum level to cast. The poison on the red one is hugely powerful, so the DC is probably not that far off, as a 19 DC is the equivalent of a level 6 spell. For the green ink the DCs should be swapped, the acid/ temporary blindness seems like a side effect and should be easier resisted, but the confusion is a deliberate effect and a higher level spell so it should be harder to resist.

 

The red ink is a definite danger. It is a lethal poison, an average 16 dex damage will kill most players and monsters, and since it can be triggered at a touch, I could see an enterprising adventurer flinging it at a dragon or a wizard and watching the fireworks happen. The red, if it isn't an artifact, should at a minimum be only useable once or twice a day. Even if the poison is preserved, it should still need to replenish itself before being used again. Twice a day would at least allow the victim to fling it back at their attacker. Also, being essentially "charged" would allow the price to be much lower than it would be otherwise.

 

The eagle quill is potentially tough to use in game terms. For instance, if the tome said there is no God, would clerics loose spell casting ability? I am not a fan of compulsion in general, and attacking a character's core beliefs could really bother players if you force them to follow something they are opposed to. Make a devout nun favor promiscuity or give a character with a vow of poverty a taste for fine wine and you can really damage a character concept and by extension the player with a role playing concept. Still, it is an interesting item if you can avoid the potential problems.

 

Price wise, if they aren't artifacts the prices would likely range from less than 100 gp, to ~5k for the poison, and anywhere from 20-50 k for the eagle quill. The owl quill probably doesn't need to be more than a few thousand gold, but it seems like a really useful/flavorful item, especially for a paranoid caster, so I could see it being a popular item and fetching 10k+ The crow item, since it has a price of blood paid, probably wouldn't cost more than 2k either, but again could be a popular/flavorful item, especially if you have a lawful evil country in your campaign.

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the red might be a touch potent 4d4+6 dex damage is extensive with an average dex of 10 that's more then enough to drop down even fairly high level characters to 0. I like it, but it means it is something you have to keep out of easy reach by players, lest it gets abused. The other things, well, I don't know how much of an effect they might have. The Eagle quill however, as Suden points out, could have any number of interesting results. Some of which should give a circumstance bonus to the save, such as a cleric reading something that denies the existence of the gods, or a wizard being told magic is a hoax

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Thanks for the thoughts.

 

I'll admit I hadn't thought about players throwing books at dragons, which is a hilarious image but not really good for balanced gameplay...I kinda figure each written page only works once...and then I need to set a number of pages in the ink pot.

 

The dcs for the green ink probably could switch...I like that.

 

The Eagle quill I really like more as a role-playing item. It won't necessarily compel an action, but it can implant an idea. It can take an existing ideology and strengthen it, or turn a neutral party toward one side of an issue, but shouldn't be powerful enough to turn a Paladin to evil. As a DM, I would give circumstance bonuses to resist things that we're totally against a character's...character.

 

As for making this a suite of items...I like the thought...really, in the campaign I'm running now they are more tools for an NPC that are found together because they have similar uses. The PCs will also find items that show how this particular villain has used the items already. My main worry about price is for when the PCs decide to sell some of them. But in other campaigns, I like the idea of a suite of writing implements with some swank synergies as a quest goal.

 

It's true that the red poison is powerful, but I think the fact that it requires you to fail that save four times to deal that much damage is pretty limiting. I will admit, the primary thing I wanted was a poison that harmed spellcasters...a bit of security for a spellbook, if you will. The dex damage could drop if it needed to, but I think limiting its uses as I mentioned above will help a bunch.

 

Thanks again for the thoughts, Suden and Shadowraven.

Edited by Sanael
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That's exactly what it does. Agricultural records are precisely what I had in mind.

 

Once the players figure out what this quill does, I will look forward to the mad scramble to bring every scrap of paper with boring factoids scrawled on it to the artificer for "use your arcanovision" tests.

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I really like this idea. I have not played or DMed 3.5 in too long to be of any use to you, but will commend you on the flavor of what you have going and also applaud you on using the Eberron setting. I adore the setting and would game there 100% of the time if I could :)

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Talae, I'm reasonably certain all my campaigns for a long time to come will be in Eberron. In another few years, when this campaign winds down, I already have another planned, and it's in a totally different storytelling vein while still holding true to the setting. I love that Eberron can go total old-school dungeoncrawl, crazy steampunk wackiness, and pulp action all at once. Very cool setting.

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