For this part of of my ‘The Fantasy Traveller’ series of looking at using the Classic traveller system in a fantasy background, I’m going to take a look at magic items.
Magic items as everyone knows, are an integral part of most fantasy games. They typically offer some sort of enhancement or benefit to the bearer, be it an increase in abilities, a weapon, the ability to heal themselves or another or a way to summon some sort of deity to name a few.
So how do I want this to fit into the Classic Traveller game system? I think I’m going to approach it in this way; there are two types of magic item, simple objects which have a magical ability and shamanic magic items.
Simple Magic Items
These are items that on the world of Grond, have some sort of magical enhancement that gives the bearer a benefit or bane. For example Thorrin’s mighty axe doubles the amount of damage rolled. As it is a double-bladed broadaxe, normally giving 4D+1 damage, the player rolls 17, thats 34 instant hits.
Or we have Barzil’s magic bow which can be used with a +3 to hit DM and gives a +1 point advantage to damage rolls.
Alternatively the referee can determine that the player thinks they have a positive adjustment to their fighting capabilities, but instead they have a negative effect such as -2 to all damage inflicted on an opponent. By using the CT format weapons charts and picking out what adjustments you want to give (or inflict), its quite easy to make up a magic item. For the world of Grond though, I’m going to keep such simple magic items to pretty low level values, such as +2 to hit or +2 damage as a rough maximum.
Shamanic Magic Items
As mentioned in my previous post of how magic works on the world of Grond, it isn’t an all-encompassing thing that is always there, but instead it fluctuates in strength and intensity. You have to roll for its success and depending on the result, it can have some very negative effects. So how does this help the Shaman? They are the only ones that can wield such magic items; to anyone else a stick is just a stick. To a Shaman, they would see the stick glowing with power and would be hot / cold / tingly to touch.
At the time, the Shaman would know it is magical, but wouldn’t necessarily know how powerful it is. I’m going to add three new spells based on the levels of ability a Shaman has. By casting it they can identify how powerful it is. If a magic item is level 1 and the Shaman successfully casts the spell, they can identify it and know its capabilities. If the item is of a higher level, the Shaman can’t identify anything about the item – it just remains a cloudy, indistinct object that is obviously magical. Higher levels of ability allow the Shaman to identify objects of the same or lower levels.
What the Item can do to Help the Shaman
Once identified successfully, the object can be used only by the Shaman according to what the item is imbued with. For example, it may contain the ‘Bright Light/Make Darkness’ spells that can be used without any points cost to the Shaman. By the same merit that a Barbarian can wield a +2 mighty hammer without knowing anything about magic, the Shaman should be able to use the magic item without prior knowledge of the spell or ability.
A few examples:
Mozzek the Unwise has Shamanic Magic skill -1. He finds a stone that appears to be magical and casts a Identify Magic Item spell on the object. Even though he has made the roll, the stone’s power eludes him so it doesn’t appear to be an item he can wield.
Not giving up, Mozzek decides to take the item to the local village Shaman named Ula (-3 skill) and see if she can see what the item is. After paying his fee, Ula successfully identifies it as an item that requires a -3 skill to wield and contains three Shatter Weapon / Harden Weapon spells. Because Mozzek only has -1 skill, he can’t wield the item – even though he knows what’s in the item. Only when has he reached sufficient skill level will he be able to wield the item.
That’s where I think I will draw the line where a Shaman can use a magic item; it must be ‘rated’ at the same level of skill as the person wielding it, for them to be able to use it. Because Shamanic magic can be more powerful than simple magic items, I think there has to be some sort of restriction.
However to keep the balance, magic items always ‘work’ – where an item contains a spell that would have a positive and negative effect, the item always works as intended. This requires the referee to specify exactly what the magic item can do. For example Mozzek has found a pointy stick (he finds a lot of magic items, old Mozzek does…!) which he has successfully identified as having two Cure Wounds spells, but always work in a negative way – ie. take points away. So Mozzek knows he can use this effectively as a weapon, rather than as something to heal with.
Identify Magic Item (same name each skill level)
Cost: 1 STR (level 1), 2 STR (level 2), 3 STR (level 3)
Allows the caster to try and identify a magic item. Casting it at the intended level will reveal only if the item is of the same level, or lower. The caster must specify at what level they intend to cast the spell. Failure results in the item simply not revealing what it is, or implying that it may be of a higher level than what it actually is.
In the next part of this series, I’m going to look at creating magic items.