Thursday, July 22, 2010

Unique Underpinnings

Revisiting a topic I touched on many moons ago, here's another look at the OD&D Vol 2 Magic Items tables. Discounting the wildly random aspect of magic swords, as addressed in yesterday's post, what are the rarest magic items in OD&D?

The following four categories each have but a 5% chance of being rolled on the Magic Items determination table: Misc. Weapons, Rings, Wands/Staves and Misc. Magic. Keep in mind that 25% of “items” are actually Maps and not Magic, then that 1 in 20, or 5%, is reduced to 3.75% for each of the four categories.

Now, within those four categories I will find the items with but a 1 in 100 chance of appearing, or a .0375% chance to be rolled randomly. There are 15 such items and each has 1 in 2,667 odds to be rolled randomly.

War Hammer +3
Spear +3
Spell Storing Ring
Ring of Many Wishes
Staff of Wizardry
Crystal Ball with ESP
Air Elemental Censor
Earth Elemental Stone
Fire Elemental Brazier
Water Elemental Bowl
Helm of Teleportation
Flying Carpet
Drums of Panic
Horn of Blasting
Mirror of Life Trapping

I was considering treating these “ultra-rares” as artifacts in some treatment in the near future. Before the players find any of these, I'll make a note as to where each one is located and remember to re-roll the result if by some slim chance one of these items pops up in a random fill. The end result is promoting the 15 items to some special status from which I can possibly create stories, rumors and even determine what protects or makes use of them within the underworld.

Although my intentions seem reasonable, there's simply no doubting the fact that I will continue to create new items; items which will invariably become more powerful than the ultra-rares. I always do and I'd be fooling myself if I decided to make these 15 rares the top of the magic item ladder, so to speak. The important aspect is these particular items are designated as unique in the campaign. This is not a new notion at all. In fact, I've read others mention that perhaps a campaign in which every single non-consumable item was unique would be interesting, a notion that I have shared myself in the past. For my current games, though, I have decided that the only unique items in the campaign, ones which will be re-rolled if they somehow appear in a random determination, are limited to the 15 rarest of the rare. For now I'll simply use the term “unique item” to describe the items elevated to this status.

Any item with historical notes, rumors and a predetermined location is deserving of a name as well. So I need to add that to the to do list for the unique items.

I think this is an exercise of note because I can already envision the numerous rooms, encounters and even sub-levels which will spring forth from such considerations. Being the dungeonista I am, you can be sure all 15 unique items will be in the deeper levels of my current underworld sprawl. Rumors and legends will beckon adventurers to seek them out and this entire process will create reliable underpinnings for both the dungeon and the campaign.

~Sham, Quixotic Referee


David said...

The first magic item in my megadungeon, rolled randomly on Level 1 is a warhammer +3. I didn't realize the odds were quite so against this!

Lord Gwydion said...

Check out my free documents, Unique Magic Weapons, U.M. Wands/Staves/Rods, and U.M Armors (from my blog) if you haven't already. Could save you a little time, as they were written with the idea that every item within the above categories in a campaign is a unique, named item.

Anonymous said...

I had a low level, 3rd and under, D&D B/X party find the Brazier of Fire Elemental Control though I would use the term "Control" loosely.
The Elemental attacks the user of the Brazier if they lose concentration on controlling it by taking damage or fail a saving throw. Also, the elemental is 12'x 12' and if summoned into an area too small it will fill the available area (which can burn the summoner causing them to lose concentration).
I think that quote; "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," sums up the parties experiences with it.


Matt said...

Great post - very useful.

Sham aka Dave said...

David: Gotta love the dice! Unique Items style would have avoided this but maybe it was just meant to be.

Gwydion: Thanks for those links. I wish I had seen those beforehand.

Crose: Yeah, all 4 of those elemental items are just as likely to wipe the PCs as they are to aid them it seems...depending upon how forgiving the ref is.

Matt: Thanks