Aug 8, 2013

My Sword is My Best Friend

Brendon at Necropraxis mentioned something about using follower / retainer / hireling rules for magic items and I found the idea interesting. Necrocarcerus uses Dark Dungeons, where retainers / followers (junior NPC adventurers you bring along with you) are all referred to as "hirelings". I picked up the pdf of Courtney Campbell's On the Non-Player Character the other day (disclosure: My random encounter rules are featured in it), and am riffing off some of the ideas in there.

Proposal 1: All magical items that are not consumables are intelligent and are treated as hirelings (and eat up a hireling slot, but not a share of XP). They have personality traits, reaction tracks that determine how powerful they are, personality locks and keys that grant special bonuses or penalties, and preferences for how they like to be approached.

When first picking up or handling items, the reaction roll determines the initial stance of the item, and the number of actions one has to change it. From then on, the wielder can start another encounter with the item any time they are not otherwise occupied. The wielder does not need to start an encounter with the item every time they use it. Bonds typically start at None or Stranger with new magical items.

e.g. The Headhacker

This normal sword has a furtive lust for blood. It seems to bend slightly towards living beings when it thinks it is not being observed closely, but denies its vicious character until it meets a wielder willing to indulge it.

Chastising: -1 Bloodthirsty: +2

Hatred: -5 Sword of Slicing (any time the wielder rolls a natural 19 or 20, they count as hitting themselves and must save vs. Death or cut their own head off)
Hostile: -3 sword
Neutral: + 1 sword
Friendly: +1 sword, +3 vs. living targets
Helpful: +5 Sword of Slicing

Honour: The sword will train the wielder to the next level of proficiency with swords, up to Grand Master
Gamble: The sword will unerringly locate a monster or named enemy. The gamble is whether the PC can defeat it.

Proposal 2: All consumable magic items have morale scores as hirelings based on the Charisma score of the person activating or using the item (when one character is administering a potion to another, the character administering the potion is the relevant character). Items must make morale checks to activate, otherwise the charge, etc. is wasted.