Sunday, March 13, 2011

One-shot items

I've always had a soft spot for single-use magical items, especially in the low level games I find myself running. They're a convenient way to give a reward to PCs without needing to worry about lingering issues of power, can occasionally result in interesting examples of strategy, and frankly are just plain fun.

(why yes, I'm also quite fond of them in my video games, why do you ask?)

The quintessential single-use item is of course the potion, and one can get a fair bit of mileage out of different sorts of potions and elixirs. Adding other types of items -- be they called tokens, charms, or whatever else -- brings in a welcome variety, and the trick here is to make each type somehow interesting or evocative. A single token needn't have a whole history attached to it (though there's no reason one couldn't do that!); but a little bit of detail beyond "this item grants [blah blah blah]" goes a long way, even if it is only a name and a brief description.

The following are a handful of example items; being intended for a Red Box game they are quite low-key, but they serve the purpose. Higher level games can always scale up accordingly:

- Dragon King's Scale: a single scale of glittering silver-gold, granting a +2 to Armour Class for four rounds

- Direction Mirror: a small round mirror that will reflect a single spell of level two or less

- Voiceless Bell: a jade bell with no clapper that creates silence for two rounds

- Scorpion Tail: palm-sized indigo scorpion sting that paralyzes for two rounds

- Sheepcount: a handful of woolen bolls that cause sleep for 1-4 rounds

- Blessed Kiss: silver prayer beads that allow a single turning as a 1-3 level cleric

- Time's Arrow: multicoloured dart that grants a single extra action in the following round

- Sage Insight: a small illuminated scroll that grants a +1 to a single save type for 1-6 rounds (different scrolls for different saves)

- Decree of Order: a golden orb that grants a +2 bonus against chaos for two rounds

- Will of Discord: a scarlet spiral that grants a +2 bonus against law for two rounds

- Essence Fang: shard of solid elemental energy (foam of water, tongue of flame, coil of air, crystal of earth, etc) that inflicts 2-5 hit points of damage of the appropriate elemental type

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