Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Supernatural Masterpieces

A system for the creation of magic items.


How it Works
To make any sort of masterpiece, you require three things:

  • The raw materials to make an exceptional item of the same type (iron for a sword, etc)
  • A forge, workshop, studio or similar in which to work.
  • A magically resonant ingredient that is included in the item to be made, which lends it its potency.
The first two are trivial to acquire. 
You can assume that the materials cost the same as buying a pre-made example of the item in question (what you save in labour costs is negated by the requirement for higher-quality materials).
The place to work is likewise easy to acquire, merely costing a thousand silver (or gold in a gold-standard system) to buy all the necessary tools, supplies, venue etc. You'll need to have an appropriate place to work, however; you can't forge swords in an artist's studio, nor can you make magic shoes in a blacksmith's forge.

The third part (resonant ingredients) is where the meat of the system lies. A resonant ingredient is some material taken from a supernaturally potent place, monster, event or similar. For each such place/monster/event you encounter, you can distil its magical potency into a single ingredient that is used when making the masterpiece.
The resonant ingredient might become a physical part of the item being made (for example, you might make armour from dragon-scales or use a giant's thigh-bone as the haft for an axe). It doesn't need to be, however, and can be used up in the crafting process in some other way (you might quench a sword in basilisk's blood or burn a particular wood to heat your forge). 
Each different resonant ingredient you incorporate into the item being made gives it a particular property, but using many of the same resonance doesn't stack (IE you can make a sword that is Winter and Night resonant using those two ingredients, but not one that is doubly Winter resonant by using two winter ingredients; the sword either is winter resonant or it isn't).

Spotting when something could be resonant, and working out how to make it into the item you want, is up to the players. Justifying why a particular thing is resonant is a matter of player skill, that rewards familiarity with the themes and ideas each resonance embodies.

The examples given are only examples: If your players make something not covered, invent an effect for it that matches the themes of that resonance. Perhaps they have an idea for what it does; if they do, go along with that idea if it makes sense for the relevant resonance. 
Don't be limited by what's here, use it as a starting point.

There are a total of Seven different resonances: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Day, Twilight and Night. Without further ado, here they are:

Spring

Affinities
Concepts
New growth, vibrant life, nature red in tooth and claw. The triumph of the green, savage world over civilisation. Growth that is unrestrained and without reason, like a plague or a cancer. Life struggling to expand, feed, breed, evolve. Regeneration and adaptation. Rot and decay leading to new life. Predation, parasitism, the competition to survive. Vigour. 
Classical Elements
Earth, Wood, Grass, Venom.
Monsters
Shambling mounds, myconids and other plant or fungal monsters, particularly the less elegant sort. Parasitic monsters such as rot grubs. Giant insect-like beasts such as purple worms, carrion crawlers and so on. Slimes, molds and puddings. Primordial lizards, ancient fish. Probably nothing particularly intelligent. The 'lower orders' of life that just want to feed and breed.
Places
Deep jungle, thick forest or swamp, coral reefs. Places untouched by civilisation
Events
Plagues, storms.
People
Savages, druids, the insanely feral. Those who cast off the restraints of human culture and revert to living like mere animals.

Uses
Swords
A spring-resonant sword drips with venom; victims must Save vs Poison or else take double damage.
Clubs and Axes
A spring-resonant club or axe has a 1-in-6 chance to destroy any crafted object that it strikes. 
Other melee weapons
A spring-resonant weapon gets +2 to hit and damage against 'civilised' foes; anything that has a use for money.
Other ranged weapons
Spring resonant ranged weapons and ammunition passes through foliage, tree trunks and other living plants as if they were intangible.
Armour
The wearer of spring-resonant armour regenerates one hit-point each turn. The wounds seal up and are replaced with odd scars; sometimes the scars are a crust of tree bark, coral or lichen.
Farming or gardening tools
Plants planted and tended to with spring-resonant tools grow in a matter of minutes rather than months or years, often growing far larger than natural and in strange shapes.
Other tools
Other spring-resonant tools can be used to work living flesh or growing plants without causing any pain, and if used in this way the subject will recover from the alterations without ill-effects (although alterations made may be permanent). IE, spring-resonant woodcarving tools could be used to re-sculpt a person's face for cosmetic or disguise purposes, etc.
Boots
Spring-resonant boots allow the wearer to pass through undergrowth, over marshy or rocky ground, and so forth without being slowed at all.
Rings
The wearer of a spring-resonant ring does not need to eat or sleep, so long as they get enough water and access to sunlight to photosynthesise. 
Clothing
The wearer of spring-resonant clothing gets +5 to any saves against poison, and suffers 5 less damage from any venomous attacks.
Amulets
Spring-resonant amulets render the wearer immune to the downsides of any disease they might be infected with. Whilst still a carrier, they don't suffer any symptoms. Furthermore, they can - by touching a victim with their bare skin - infect that victim with a disease they suffer if they wish.

Summer

Affinities
Concepts
Triumph, glory and majesty. Martial might, beauty that exalts, fabulous power. The world of 4-colour comic-book characters engaged in larger-than-life struggles. The apex of things, power at its climax. Emotions that are huge and all encompassing; courtly love, endless vendettas. Hubris and vainglory. Living in the moment. Heroic archetypes, narrative tropes, fairytale logic. Pride.
Classical Elements
Fire, stone, gold, the sun.
Monsters
Dragons, unicorns, and other heraldic monsters. Butterflies, angel-fish and other elegant beasts. Lions, stags, eagles and chimera composed thereof. Elves, nymphs, sylphs, satyrs and related beings known for their beauty. 
Places
The highest mountains, deepest vales, widest rivers and other exceptional places. Castles, huge monuments to personal glory. 
Events
Pitched battles, volcanic eruptions. 
People
Divine monarchs, heroes-of-the-people, paladins, champions.

Uses
Swords
A summer-resonant sword burns with brilliant flame. +d6 damage.
Lances and spears
A summer-resonant lance or spear automatically seeks out the hearts of its victims. When charging, the wielder gets +3 to hit.
Other melee weapons
A summer-resonant weapon looks magnificent, giving an extra +1 to the morale/loyalty of allies while being wielded.
Other ranged weapons
Summer-resonant ammunition, or ammunition shot from summer-resonant weapons, burns with brilliant fire. +d6 damage.
Armour
Summer-resonant armour is made for honourable duelling. Whenever the wearer engages in single-combat, for the duration of that duel they are immune to any attacks by anybody other than their chosen opponent; enemies who would interfere are struck dumb and dither rather than attacking. The duel concludes if either side is slain or backs down, if the wearer attacks a third party, if one of the wearer's allies interferes, or if the two combatants part and go their separate ways.
Heraldry, banners, etc
Summer-resonant heraldry is glorious and inspiring to behold. Reaction rolls are 3 better when viewing it, and the loyalty and morale of followers and hirelings is likewise 3 better.
Tools
Summer-resonant tools impart an artistic flair upon everything they touch. While the actual quality of the work is no better, and no practical benefit is gained, even a mediocre worker using them produces results that are ornately and elegantly decorated.
Rings
Summer resonant rings allow the wielder to make attacks with their bare hands that do d8 damage just like a war-hammer. 
Clothing
Summer-resonant clothing is opulent and pristine. The wearer is always treated as an individual of repute and importance. Furthermore, no matter what horrible situation they find themselves in, their appearance is never marred or dirtied - save perhaps a single stylishly dramatic slash of blood across their face.
Crowns
Summer-resonant crowns render the wearer totally immune to fear, charm effects and other emotional manipulation. 'Hard' mind control such as commands and domination still affect them, but the wearer will internally disapprove of whatever they are compelled to do and knows exactly what happened. 

Autumn

Affinities
Concepts
The triumph of the cunning over the strong. The maturation of things. Carefully-laid plans. Artifice and artificial things. Trade, Machiavellian politics, capitalism, byzantine schemes, degenerate democracy. Industry and mass production. Laws, contracts, small-print and legalistic conflict. Civilisation conquering the natural world. Ambition.
Classical Elements
Brass, gold, fire, soot.
Monsters
Artificial monsters such as golems and animated objects. Beings that rely on mind-control, such as mind-flayers and succibi. Monsters associated with contracts, binding and punishment, such as genies and devils. Monsters that bind and entangle such as spiders, ropers, etc.
Places
Palaces, court-rooms, prisons, and other places of power and control. Factories and workshops. Geo-thermally active places.
Events
Coups, industrial revolutions, court cases.
People
Lawyers, artificers, spies, strategists, inventors.

Uses
Swords
An autumn-resonant sword parries and blocks effortlessly, as if with a mind of it's own. The wielder gets +3 AC.
Whips and flails
An autumn-resonant whip or flail entangles those it strikes; they must save vs paralysis or be unable to move from the spot for a round.
Other melee weapons
When an autumn-resonant weapon is used to parry, it hooks onto the enemy's weapon, dragging it from the enemy's hands. When an enemy rolls a 1 to hit, they are disarmed.
Other ranged weapons
When firing autumn resonant ammunition, or using an autumn resonant weapon to fire it, ammunition is never depleted and lasts forever.
Armour
Autumn-resonant armour renders the totally wearer immune to improvised weapons, unarmed attacks, and the natural attacks of mundane animals. Monstrous or supernatural beasts can still damage with their fangs and claws, however.
Shields


Autumn-resonant shields grant no benefit to their wielder, but give +3 AC to their allies fighting to either side of or behind that shield.
Tools
Autumn-resonant tools can be used to work with frightening speed. Any task takes one-third of the time when done with such tools.
Ink
Contracts signed in autumn-resonant ink are magically enforced. If any signatory breaks the terms of the contract (letter or spirit) they take d12 damage immediately, and everybody else involved knows the exact nature of their betrayal.
Snares, bear-traps etc
Those caught in an autumn-resonant trap are totally unable to free themselves, no matter what they do. They must rely on somebody else to free them.
Clothing
Autumn-resonant clothing displays a combination of shining golden inspiration edged with steel-hard absolute authority. The minions, followers, hirelings etc of the wearer will never fail their loyalty or morale rolls for any reason.
Amulets
Autumn-resonant amulets render the wearer resistant to fire and heat. +5 to saves, and half damage.

Winter

Affinities
Concepts
Unstoppable entropy, the ending of all things, privation and hunger. Barren wastelands, widespread death. Strength from desperation, wisdom derived from suffering. Endless hunger that drives those afflicted to cruel deeds. Fear and dread used as weapons. The unstoppable march of time and desperate struggles against it. Relentlessness, sacrifice, consumption. Hopelessness.
Classical Elements
Ice, ash, darkness, poison.
Monsters
Wendigos, werewolves, ghouls and other beings driven mad by hunger. Creatures associated with winter, ice or cold such as yetis, white wolves, frost elementals. Pointlessly spiteful beings such as redcaps and manticores. 
Places
The arctic, mountain-tops and other cold places. Barren wastelands and deserts. Graveyards, mass graves, sites of great disaster.
Events
Famines, mass-executions, blizzards, droughts.
People
Cannibals, the elderly, 

Uses
Swords
A winter-resonant sword sucks at the vitality of those it strikes. When it deals damage, the wielder is healed by that much.
Knives
A winter-resonant weapon is spiteful and cruel. It deals double damage against enemies with only 1 hit dice.
Other melee weapons
A winter-resonant weapon is blisteringly cold to the touch, dealing 1 extra damage against warm-blooded foes and double damage to fire-type foes.
Other ranged weapons
Winter resonant missiles (or ones fired from winter-resonant weapons) are blisteringly cold to the touch, dealing 1 extra damage against warm-blooded foes and double damage to fire-type foes.
Armour
Winter-resonant armour renders the wearer immune to cold, fatigue, weather exposure, and so on.
Cooking & eating utensils
Food prepared or eaten with winter-resonant utensils is nourishing and palatable no matter how unsafe or distasteful it may seen. Human flesh, carrion, insects, rotten food and worse are all pleasant and edible.
Medical Supplies
Winter-resonant bandages, surgeon's tools, etc can be used to heal all damage a victim has taken, at the cost of reducing their HP total by 1 until they next gain a level.
Torches, tinder boxes, etc
Objects burned by fire from a winter-resonant source can never be repaired or restored. Corpses burned by a winter-resonant source can never be resurrected, reanimated or otherwise return; they're gone forever.
Other Tools
Winter-resonant tools can be used to destroy anything, given enough time. No hardness or skillful artifice prevents them being hacked apart by winter tools.
Clothing
The wearer of winter-resonant clothing is uncomfortable to even look at. Observers tend to drop their gaze before the wearer, and enemies always fail morale checks when fighting them.
Amulets
The wearer of a winter-resonant amulet does not feel pain. If they would be knocked unconcious or disabled by pain, but are not yet dead, they can carry on acting, totally numb to their injuries.


Day

Affinities
Concepts
The clear light of day that illuminates and lays bare. Clarity of information, intellectualism, cerebral thought. Purity, things divided into their proper categories. Certainty, structure, properly applied mechanisms that produce predictable results. The acquisition of knowledge, more than mortal minds can handle. The overwhelming realisation of the totality of things.  
Classical Elements
Sunlight, crystal, water, 
Monsters
Hyper-rational monsters such as modrons. Monsters associated with light, such as will-o-whisps. Monsters with gaze attacks like medusas and beholders. 
Places
Palaces, court-rooms, prisons, and other places of power and control. Factories and workshops. Geo-thermally active places.
Events
Coups, industrial revolutions, court cases.
People
Lawyers, artificers, spies, strategists, inventors.

Uses
Swords
A day-resonant sword cuts through anything. Victims get no benefit to AC from armour or natural toughness.
Other melee weapons
Other day-resonant weapons allow the wielder to see a second or so into the future in snatches and glances. While using such a weapon to attack, the wielder always goes first in initiative.
Other ranged weapons
Day resonant ammunition and other ranged weapons have unlimited range (as far as the eye can see), and never take any penalties for long range.
Armour
Day-resonant armour allows the wearer to know the capabilities (IE the rough stat block -  HD, AC, attacks, vulnerabilities or immunities, special powers, etc) of any being whose attacks successfully penetrate that armour.
Lanterns, torches and other lights
Those illuminated by the light of day-resonant illumination are revealed for what they really are; illusions are dispelled, invisibility and disguises penetrated and the true form of shape-shifters superimposed over them.
Books
Nothing that is written in a day-resonant book will ever be forgotten by the writer. No magic or force can ever compel the writer to revise an opinion they've written in such a book, either, until they revise the written statement.
Jewellery
The wearer of day-resonant jewellery automatically knows any lie told to them, and understands the actual truth instead.
Tools
Day-resonant tools work without any risk of flaws or slip ups. The work might not be good, but the user will never mess up badly enough to be noticed or cause disaster.
Clothing
The wearer of day-resonant clothing is never caught by surprise. Furthermore, they always see through mundane attempts at hiding or disguise, having a sixth sense that alerts them to such things.
Mirrors, lenses, telescopes and so on
Day-resonant viewing items allow the viewer to see all details with absolute accuracy, and to see through solid objects if they wish.


Twilight

Affinities
Concepts
Concealment, illusion. Transitional states. Things fading from memory, things that are forgotten yet still remain. Anonymity, loss of identity, wiping the slate clean. Disguises, masks and veils. Things intentionally erased. Hallucinations, gas-lighting, paranoia. Leaving the past behind and becoming something new in the present, transformation that negates the past. Uncertainty.
Classical Elements
Mist, shadows, sand.
Monsters
Illusions and monsters that use illusions such as hags. Ghosts and lingering spirits. Remnants of ancient civilisations. Monsters that resemble things that they are not such as mimics, cloakers, doppelgangers and so on. 
Places
Empty ruins, lost colonies, mist-shrouded islands.
Events
Revisions of history, becoming lost.
People
Censors, con-artists, those who drink to forget, make-up artists, burglars, those who hide in plain sight.

Uses
Swords
A twilight-resonant sword is near-impossible to perceive, appearing as a cloud of indistinct possible blades that don't reveal its true location. Victims get no benefits to their AC for shields, dexterity, defensive fighting or similar.
Knives
Twilight-resonant knives cause injuries that are not immediately apparent, causing the victim to bleed out without realising. Wounds caused by the knife don't appear for d10 rounds but deal that much extra damage.
Other melee weapons
Twilight-resonant weapons are concealed when carried but not being wielded in combat; no search of the carrier's person will be able to notice them.
Other ranged weapons
Twilight-resonant ammunition and ranged weapons can be shot absolutely silently and with little visible motion. Shooting such a weapon makes no noise and never gives away the wielder's position if they're hidden.
Armour
Twilight-resonant armour is imperceptible when worn. While still bulky and heavy, no observer will ever realise that the wearer is armoured, and will instead believe them an unarmoured, largely helpless civilian until their actions prove otherwise.
Tools
Twilight resonant tools are small, easily concealed and unremarkable looking. They are always overlooked when searched for by anybody but the owner.
Ink, paint, chalk, etc
Things drawn with twilight-resonant materials can be used as if real. They remain real for as long as was spent drawing them, and then fade away to nothing.
Boots
Those wearing twilight-resonant boots never leave any tracks, nor can they be tracked by scent.
Paper
Anything written on twilight-resonant paper is immediately forgotten by the writer, unless the writer knows to mix a little of their blood into the ink. Furthermore, if they read whatever they wrote, their memory might stir but they'll soon forget it again.
Clothing
Twilight resonant clothing is dull, drab and easy to ignore. The wearer gets a 50% chance to hide simply by standing still and blending in- if they already have such a chance to hide (as a thief or halfling perhaps), increase that chance by 50%.
Gloves
Any person who touches a twilight resonant glove with their bare skin (other than the wearer, obviously) forgets that that the wearer was there or what they did once they're no longer in the wearer's presence.
Masks
Twilight-resonant masks perfectly disguise the wearer. Whatever the mask is off, the wearer will seem to all observers to be that thing. 

Night

Affinities
Concepts
Passion, art, madness. Emotions unrestrained by reason. Transformation from moment to moment to reflect whims. Things that should not be known. The transcendence of the spirit over the physical world. The dark womb-crucible which allows the mind to reinvent itself. Shapelessness, amorphousness. The drive to create art, to express one's self in ways that defy rationality. Primordial truths beyond the scope of the rational mind. Mysticism and the higher instinct. Altered states of consciousness. Insanity.
Classical Elements
Darkness, clay, wax.
Monsters
Shapeless primordial monsters such as shoggoths. Insane monsters such as beholders, derro and so on. Beings whose forms are shaped by their emotions such as genies.
Places
Lunatic asylums, artists' collectives, caves inhabited by religious mystics, growths of hallucinogenic plants.
Events
Mass hysteria, religious revivals.
People
Religious mystics, the wildly insane, the most passionate of lovers, alchemists, artists, those who willingly undergo extreme physical transformation.

Uses
Swords
A night-resonant sword causes those it strikes to mutate physically or emotionally, weakening them. Those it strikes must re-roll all their hit-dice, taking the new result if it is worse.
Hammers and maces
Night-resonant hammers and maces cause those they strike to fall asleep, unless they pass a Save vs Magic to resist. 
Other melee weapons
Night resonant weapons can be warped into the shape of a spear, sickle, halberd or two-handed-axe by their wielder, working exactly like a weapon of that type until the wielder lets go or wants to revert them or transform them again.
Other ranged weapons
Those hit by night-resonant missile weapons are physically mutated. They re-roll all their hit-dice, and take the new result if it would be worse.
Armour
Night-resonant armour shifts and alters its shape and fitting to best suit the wearer from moment to moment. It simply doesn't encumber the wearer, at all, ever. If it ever matters if a location is armoured, then it will be for that moment. If the wearer ever needs a location to be exposed, it will be for that moment.
Rope
Night resonant rope moves of its own power, knotting or unknotting, coiling itself, extending and so on as commanded by its owner.
Tools
Night resonant tools work on any material, regardless of suitability. Stone can be sculpted like wax, wood cast and forged like iron, and so forth.
Lanterns, torches and other lights
Those illuminated by the light of night-resonant illumination remain asleep no matter what; no noise, movement or even injury will be sufficient to wake them.
Clothing
If the wearer of night-resonant clothing tastes the blood of another being, their appearance and physical characteristics - including str/dex/con, AC, natural attacks and perhaps even abilities such as flight and physical senses - shift to become a doppelganger of that being. While their mind remains unchanged, their body is transformed, permanently.
Masks
The wearer of a night-resonant mask mentally takes on the traits of whoever the mask depicts. Their personality shifts - possibly including alignment, int/wis/cha and so on - and they may gain or lose abilities such as the capacity to turn undead, immunity to fear, etc. They may forget aspects of their previous life, and start remembering facts that, while obvious to the mask-identity, their real self has no way of knowing. 


New Class: The Artisan
It might be the case that you don't want everybody in your campaign making millions of magic items, and you'd prefer to limit this craft to a single class. If that's the case, here's such a class for you.

Hit Points, Saves, Experience Totals, Attacks, Etc: all as the Magic User.
Tinkering: Get a 5-in-6 chance at the tinkering skill in LotFP, or else 5-in-6 to McGuyver together any gadget that might require a roll, take a mechanism apart etc. 
Artisans: Can make use of the 'supernatural masterpiece' crafting rules given above. If this class is being used, they're the only class that can.
Fast Work: At first level, can complete a crafting project (IE swords, etc) in half the normal time. 1/3 time at 2nd level, 1/4 time at 3rd, etc.
Identify Artifacts: Can identify the magical properties of any material or item that they are able to examine and experiment with for a full hour.
Mastery Of Their Own Tools: When wielding a supernatural masterpiece they made, the artisan can always use it regardless of class restrictions. They can wear any armour they made, wield any weapon, etc. 


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six of these seven resonances (spring, summer, autumn, winter, day and night) are based on the magical realms in the larp Empire, by Profound Decisions in the UK. Kudos to them for these, they're pretty great. I've tweaked them a bit, however, and added a seventh.


5 comments:

  1. This is going on my "favorite posts" list, immediately.

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  2. Monsters for Autumn and Day seem to be the same - is this intentional?

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  3. Love this. Seems like it would make a good GM's Oracle (https://graverobbersguide.blogspot.com/2019/04/building-gms-oracle.html). One thing I'd wish for is a little more romanticization of spring, because poison isn't my immediate association. Twilight could also deal with slightly less negative connotations and effects. I'll probably be using this, or something based on it, in my games or my prep!

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    Replies
    1. I mean spring is the affinity for healing, growing food, children, etc etc. But there's not much call for things that help you with children as an adventurer, or make your farm better, or whatever. So the bits that get the spotlight will be the more ugly bits; venom and parasitism and so on.
      Likewise, twilight seems negative because the uses an adventurer has for it are negative, and humans think of that sort of thing as being distasteful. But that's on them.

      The way I see it, these forces are meant to be largely amoral forces, like the 4 elements in classic D&D. Which we think are nice and nasty says more about us than about them.

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