Monsters & Treasure
EXPLANATIONS OF MAGIC ITEMS (continued)
“POTIONS: All potions come in a quantity sufficient to perform whatever their end is, although a small sample can be taken without effecting the whole.”The notion of “taking a sip” of a potion in order to glean some minor insight into its effects is as old as the hills, as they say. My players have always done this, but I’m not sure where exactly they learned this method. Perhaps it has been handed down though the ages, and as long as I can remember, it has been a staple of player magic item investigation. The question is what happens when a sip is taken of the Delusion or Poison varieties? Delusion would give some false clue, or simply hint at something untrue. Once quaffed, Delusion would just make the poor sap think the potion was something else, such as Dragon Control, Flying or Treasure Finding. Hilarity will normally ensue. Poison on the other hand is a bit trickier. If a sip is all that is required to force a saving throw, then the party has just found a large amount of poison which might be used for some sinister purpose later. I read the above passage to mean that while a small sample can be taken, the effects are not gained unless the whole amount is drunk. So, the infamous Poison Potion is a bit tricky in that regard. The best approach might be to mislead the players until such a time that the entire Poison Potion is consumed, revealing its true nature then and only then. Another solution might be to assume that the Poison Potion is dropped as soon as it is tasted as the character clutches at his neck; the contents spilling out or the vial shattering. Or, you might not care that you have allowed the players access to some amount of deadly poison. They might even thank you for it later, assuming they made their saving throw.
“Giant Strength: Gives the recipient full Giant prowess, including two dice of damage when he scores a hit.”Aha. An example of Strength literally adding to melee damage. Previous wording had attributed such monster damage ranges to mass, and not Strength. A very potent libation, to be sure. 70 to 120 minutes of two dice of damage is nothing to sneeze at in this version of the game.
“Longevity: Reduces 10 game-years from the game-age of the character drinking it.”I’m led to believe that game-age and game-years came into play in the old days often enough that this item was devised as a much needed counter-measure. I’m curious as to why the authors felt the need to specify “game-years” and “game-age” rather than simply years and age. Am I missing something? Why is it being deliberately spelled out to avoid confusion? I’m missing something here.
“RINGS: A ring must be worn to be employed, and only one ring may be worn on each hand if the ring is to be operable by the wearer. (The referee should be careful to enforce this in order to maintain some balance in the game).”I’m reminded of the NPC in The Rogue’s Gallery who wore a bracelet with numerous magical rings which could be quickly changed as the situation demanded. I think it was an Assassin, but as I misplaced my copy of that AD&D product, I can’t remember for sure. You can bet in my later Monty Haul campaign most of the high level players duplicated this little trick. Of course I required a full round’s actions to swap rings, just because I got tired of the tactic. Perhaps if I hadn’t handed out magical rings like lemon drops I never would have had to cope with those antics? Hmmmm. Anyway, I later brewed up a funky magic item that allowed characters a third hand, as well as one free attack per round in melee. The now infamous "Zipper Arms" were sought high and low in that same gonzo campaign. If only I had actually READ passages like the one above, warning referees to maintain control of the game balance and not go too crazy. Ah, the youthful exuberance of yesteryear.
“Three Wishes: As with any wishes, the wishes granted by the ring must be of limited power in order to maintain balance in the game. This requires the utmost discretion on the part of the referee.”More warnings from Mr. Gygax. Wishes are more or less flexible magic spells. Potentially powerful, but best used with extreme caution and foresight. We are treated through the old editions of the game with bits and pieces hinting at how the authors handled wishes. I’ve always taken that approach to heart, and my players, as I assume most players did as well, would carefully write out their wishes and present them to me almost in contract form. They’d pore over the notes, ensuring that everything was air-tight and straight-forward. This of course only made me think longer and harder of ways in which to pervert their wishes. They’d have been better off just stating their wishes, but of course I created that monster through the years; all it took was one or two “minor” misinterpretations on my behalf to make the players eventually behave like copyright lawyers.
“Delusion: A ring which makes the wearer see whatever he desires, I.e. a bummer thrown in to fool the players.”Nothing earth-shattering here, fairly self-explanatory. I just like the “a bummer thrown in to fool the players” bit. Not only do I rarely ever hear anyone say “bummer” anymore, that bit of 70’s slang is actually used in a way in which I’ve never seen nor heard.
“WANDS AND STAVES:Huh? Either someone was being lazy and copied the last sentence of the entry before this one (which is a Wand of Cold), or the wording is way off. I’d rule that the saving throw is for no effect, but one might assume it is for one-half duration. No actual duration is provided, though.
Paralization: A paralization ray of the same dimensions as a Fear Wand. Creatures take half damage if their saving throw is made.”
“Staff of Striking: This Staff does not add to hit probability, but due to the energy within it, it scores two dice of damage when a hit is made.”This, dear readers, is in fact an item that most Fighting-Men would give up their shields for! Unfortunately it is usable by Magic-Users and Clerics only. What a waste. On the other hand, a Cleric with one of these is nothing to scoff at, provided he’s able to connect since the staff yields no bonus to hit. Still a cool magic item, as it requires no charges to operate. It’s just a 1974 beat-stick.
~Sham, Quixotic Referee