Sentient Items – RPGBOT.Podcast S2E49

Show Notes

In this episode of the RPGBOT.Podcast, we discuss sentient items in tabletop RPGs. We look at the rules for sentient/intelligent items in DnD and Pathfinder, and we discuss why and how you should bring these items into your game in a way that’s fun without being disruptive.

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This episode is sponsored by dScryb. Visit dScryb.com and use coupon code RPGBOT5 at checkout for $5 off.

Music by Adi_Goldstein from Pixabay. Image by Eleejinsik from Pixabay.

Materials Referenced in this Episode

Transcript

Ash  00:00

The skirmish was swift and brutal, leaving blood-stained steel gleaming in the torchlight. You step over the dead catching your breath weapon held loosely in your grip. What were those beasts protecting so fervently you can see it now, lying upon a makeshift altar of broken flag stones and fragments of wood. A sword, clearly ancient with an ornate hilt, emblazoned with long forgotten sigils. Dust cakes the blade, though its edge is unmarred, likely as sharp as the day it was forged. An enchanted sword you realize clearly born of esoteric sorcery. You reached for it, then hesitate. Such a mighty gift left here, untouched for so long. Its guardians lie dead. You ear out a breath and snatch the weapon from its resting place. “Hello,” it says. You immediately dropped the sword. It clatters to the ground with a ring of steel. “Come now,” the sword intones in your mind. “You took me up, now I’m yours. Where shall we go? What shall we do? It’s been so very long since I’ve ventured beyond these crumbling ruins.” This description is called An Itelligent Weapon by dScryb. Describe your world. Follow the link dScryb.com/rpgbot and use the code RPGBOT5 for $5 off your first purchase.

Randall  01:55

Welcome to the RPGBOT dot Podcast. I’m Randall James, your rare awakened podcast microphone and with me is Tyler Kamstra.

Tyler  02:02

Hi, everybody,

Randall  02:03

and Ash Ely.

Ash  02:05

Hey, guys.

Randall  02:06

All right, Tyler, what’s happening?

Tyler  02:08

Today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite topics in dungeon fantasy games: we’re going to talk about intelligent weapons. Well, intelligent items more generally. So very frequently, you will find these as weapons, which is why people always go straight to weapons. But intelligent items are a roleplaying tool and a game mechanic that most people completely overlook in games like D&D and Pathfinder. You might go your entire career and never see one of these items, which I think is a terrible tragedy. So today, we’re going to give people some help with how to work these items into your game, why you might do that, what the benefits are, and how to do it without causing problems.

Randall  02:51

Awesome. Yeah, I think you highlighted a really awesome section from the PF2 Gamemastery Guide, and I think it’s almost worth opening up with because I think it really opens the eyes to like, what is the power of bringing a sentient item into your game?

Ash  03:03

For sure.

Tyler  03:04

Yeah, absolutely. So so I’m going to read this word for word because someone smarter than me wrote this down for us. “Introducing an intelligent item is an effective way to subtly alter the party dynamic. An intelligent item works well when its personality makes it a natural complement or foil for its partner, the PC investing holding or otherwise interacting with the item. An intelligent item that can communicate only with that particular PC is also a great way to engage players who are a bit quieter, or those slower to speak in a scene where all the PCs can talk to a particular NPC. Due to their inherently limited agency intelligent items are less of a risk for stealing the spotlight than other NPCs who travel along party.” Like, that neatly summarizes it. Like, it is in a lot of ways an NPC with very, very limited capacity to act, to communicate, and otherwise to cause problems.

Randall  03:56

Yeah, I think that where I want to go immediately is let’s talk about Gollum and the ring.

Tyler  04:01

Yeah, that’s a good comparison. So Gollum is a good example of an NPC in the party. Like, they are free to come and go and, and Gollum frequently does. They’re free to do anything that a creature with a body can do. They have their own will, they have their own goals, and that frequently conflicts with the party and, like, in any given challenge, the party could reasonably be like, “Hey, we’ve got our Gollum NPC right here, why don’t we just make him solve this problem for us? Because he’s clearly better equipped than the party.”

Randall  04:29

For, like, climbing walls and looking for fishes?

Tyler  04:34

Absolutely.

Randall  04:35

But, but there’s a certain amount of trust because ultimately, like, that creature can attack, it can do great harm. Versus if we take the ring as like a semi-sentient item. It does have a will of its own. There is some desire that it has and it grant skills to its bearer. But the party doesn’t have to worry about the ring of the same way the party has to worry about Gollum and in interactions with, with other NPCs the ring is much less likely to ruin that interaction versus Gollum asking what’s in his pocket says

Ash  05:04

yeah, and the other thing about the ring is, it is… So I guess we have to describe what we mean by intelligent weapons because there can be, like, sentient weapons and intelligent weapons, I think. So like, a sentient thing has, like you said, a will of its own but doesn’t necessarily have a voice or talk, it just has a will and an agenda. But like an intelligent item might be able to talk. From my mind, I feel like for that a better example would be Jarvis before he became Vision in, you know, Iron Man. He was constantly talking back and forth with with Johnny Depp. He is an intelligent AI, but the concept is essentially still the same.

Randall  05:43

Johnny Depp?

Ash  05:44

Johnny Depp? Did I said, Oh my god, I meant Robert Downey Jr. I got Johnny Depp on my mind because of the friggin trial.

Randall  05:51

No, that’s awesome. There’s this moment where I’m imagining the Iron Man suit, doing the like the drunk walk. “But you have heard of me” and it’d be great. Yeah.

Ash  06:04

Stupid Amber Herd trial.

Randall  06:11

One other thing I want to comment: you talked about, like, this intelligent item having the ability to speak. Quin-gon Jinn taught me that the ability to speak does not make you intelligent.

Ash  06:19

True. That is true. But it’s, like, I guess it sounds better and nicer than just talkie weapon. Or… talkative.

Randall  06:33

I guess, at least in 5e, that’s a real thing, right? Like, you have to have an intelligence of 3? 5? 7?

Tyler  06:40

I think it’s like six. I’m pretty sure apes… Apes have an intelligence of five. And I think they’re, like, the smartest thing that doesn’t speak a language. There are a couple of creatures that have lower intelligence that understand a language but can’t speak.

Randall  06:56

Like dogs.

Tyler  06:57

Like dogs. I think they are all magical dogs, now that I think about it,

Ash  07:02

Like a blink dog?

Randall  07:06

Tyler has a blink dog.

Tyler  07:06

I sure do. And we might hear him barking on one of our audio feeds tonight.

Randall  07:12

Perhaps more than one. So some other cool examples of, like, sentient or intelligent items in… let’s go, like, broad media. Because I think one of the things that we can do both as players and as Game Masters is, is think about, how do these things impact the stories that we love? And then are those the things that we want to bring into our game? Can we leverage the same techniques to make what we’re doing interesting in our own tabletop games?

Tyler  07:40

Yeah, so there’s a lot of great examples we can draw from various media. Video games are probably a good, accessible example. The the first one I came up with when we were writing down notes for this episode was the sword in Skyward Sword. Because you have this weird spirit woman who pops out of the hilt of your sword to give you hints. And they, they very clearly wrote that character because they’re like, Okay, people were really annoyed by Nani inmmm

Randall  08:10

Ocarina of Time.

Tyler  08:11

Thank you. Goodness. People were really annoyed by Navi saying “Hey, listen” all the time. So what if we, instead of just having her say “Hey, listen,” what if she also forcibly paused the game?

Randall  08:22

And made you take the hint?

Tyler  08:24

Yeah.

Randall  08:24

It’d be a lot better.

Tyler  08:26

So… boy, awful execution. But the concept of like this, this intelligent thing, lives in your sword can give you hints on how to like, here’s how you use all of your items, especially the sword, but otherwise doesn’t really have any way to interact with the world. Decent example, kind of rough execution.

Randall  08:46

And I will say, though, that, in my mind is a fantastic reason for a Game Master to bring in an intelligent item. So I know I do this all the time. I think it’s a pretty common trope, right? The NPC as the voice of the DM, you know, I don’t want to literally just give everything to you. So I’m just going to have somebody come along. And if you find yourself struggling, like this thing is gonna you know, like the old Wizard who doesn’t actually do anything doesn’t help during combat is going to pick his head up occasionally would be like, Oh, I remember a factoid that will help us here and it’s great. Thanks, DM, and we get to move on, by by by GM fiat. I say that to say like they’re doing the exact same thing. You are going to get stuck. You’re gonna forget the particular mechanics, so if you fail this three times, I’m going to make this word spirit come out stall you for 30 seconds and you’re gonna hate it.

Ash  09:33

Yeah, or if you know that your party is going to make some bad decisions, you could just have a web and go “hey, that seems like a really bad idea.”

Randall  09:44

“Did anybody forget the lava? You all forgot the lava, didn’t you?”

Tyler  09:51

So there’s some there’s some other, like, less in-your-face examples. The Borderlands game franchise has a few weapons that will talk to you and I realized we’re talking dungeon fantasy. So the crazy space madness that is Borderlands, kind of a weird comparison. But there’s at least one gun in, I think, Borderlands two that generally complains about your behavior and just tells you you’re bad at every opportunity. The sole purpose of this weapon is for comedic relief. It’s a decent gun when you get it if I remember right, but it’s like, if you were better at this, you wouldn’t need to reload and other such advice.

Ash  10:27

Well, it’s not such a terrible example. Because Borderlands did come out with Tiny Tina’s wonderlands, which is basically D&D, but as told by Tiny Tina, so…

Tyler  10:39

I still have to look into that one.

Ash  10:41

It’s weird. It’s weird.

Randall  10:45

I don’t know if it’s on the list. It’s on a list.

Ash  10:47

Yeah, sure.

Tyler  10:48

Yeah. But it’s a it’s a good example of an item that has like very limited function, it is intelligent, the players will get some novelty out of it. And, like, in in D&D, you might reasonably carry that around for a super long time. And every once in a while you’re like, Okay, we need to solve this one problem. Ugh, we’re gonna have to deal with the the intelligent chime of opening that tells us that we’re bad every time we have to pick a lock.

Ash  11:17

“You suck!”

Tyler  11:19

Like, it doesn’t have to come up all the time. But you’ve always got that there is a storytelling device in the back pocket. So if you as the DM are just like, I really want to pull this out to bother the players just put a door in front of them, but they can’t pick for some reason.

Ash  11:32

I actually have a story about this. Because when I was writing my evil campaign, I let people pick a very rare item if they wanted to. But in exchange, that item would be cursed, and I wouldn’t tell them what the curse was. So for my friend, he wanted this really powerful weapon, I forget what it was. But basically, what I came up with was that, well, me and Colby, because we were writing at the same time, was that every time he missed an imp would appear on his shoulder and talk and talk smack about him about how bad he was. It really started to irritate him. And I was just like “you wanted this. You agreed to this.”

Randall  12:10

You can put it down. You can walk away,

Ash  12:12

Yeah, you could just leave the sword. And he didn’t use that sword a lot as a result. It was a really good sword.

Randall  12:20

You know you’re going to the boss fight, it finally comes out of the bag of holding. Yep, awesome. Yeah, I had a similar item. So Azuredge is a intelligent item, brought up in Waterdeep Dragonheist. I ran a game in that setting, but I did not run that module. But I brought Azuredge in. One of the things that Tyler read to us earlier from the PF2 Gamemastery Guide, was this idea that if you have a particular character, or I shouldn’t say character, a particular player, who isn’t as likely to speak. A great way to get them in on the conversation and kind of motivate them to speak, give them the opportunity where otherwise they’d probably rather just sit back and let other people drive things is to give them a sentient weapon. So I did this, and if anything was important came up, I tended to run it through that player, or through that player character in this case. But more generally, I used the sentient item to constantly heckle the party every chance I got. So it was kind of a double edged sword. It was an axe, but it was a double edged axe.

Ash  13:24

Very funny. Very funny.

Randall  13:26

That’s what I’m here for. And yeah, it was wonderful to both, like, drive getting that player more engaged on a regular basis, as well as occasionally just, you know, give crap to the players.

Tyler  13:36

I remember that item. That was a lot of fun. The lawful good sentient item in the party of chaotic neutral murder hoboes.

Randall  13:47

Yeah, it was 100% a murder hobo set where their mission was to save Waterdeep from the zombie apocalypse. And they weren’t into it. Like they were going along, but it wasn’t necessarily their big thing. So then have having this item be like “look, I’m really powerful. And I would like to save the city. I think that’d be pretty cool.” Yeah, it was definitely helpful. Okay, so I want to pull out my favorite intelligent item of all time. The electric potato herself. Glados.

Ash  14:22

Yeah. Yep.

Tyler  14:26

That’s another excellent example.

Randall  14:28

Like, I you know, okay, I’m gonna I’m gonna throw it two out here because I really I feel like they’re the same character just at different points in their life. Cortana and Glados, right?

Ash  14:36

Yeah, they’re both AIs.

Randall  14:39

They’re voices driving the characters actions and occasionally driving them crazy.

Tyler  14:44

Yeah, that’s a really good comparison. Like, the… While they are with the player, they have extremely limited agency. Like they can talk they can offer insight and opinions. They have a personality. They have goals. But basically they can and do anything on their own because they don’t have body. But yeah, the like, those, those two AI’s are both generally considered more intelligent than the player.

Randall  15:14

Yeah. And also, I think they’re both driving the character towards doing something because without that motivation, I think in both instances, the character’d be like, can I just walk in and like kill things? Or go through portals? Can I walk around shoot my gun? That works for both of them. How about that?

Ash  15:31

And they’re both villains at various points, I believe. Like, doesn’t Cortana go bad at some point?

Randall  15:37

In the later games, I mean, spoiler for like an eight year old game at this point. But yeah, in the later games, there’s this problem with… was it, I think they call it degeneracy. But it was basically a mechanism for describing why this beloved character would be going crazy.

Ash  15:53

Yeah.

Tyler  15:54

Teah. Oh, sorry. I’ve read a bunch of the Hallo novels. I was really into it for a while the. So it’s rampancy. The smart AI would last about 20 years and then basically, all of its idle time was spent thinking about, like, existence in a meta sense and they would gradually think themselves insane. So you had smart AI like Cortana that had like a very specific shelf life before they had to get before they generally went crazy and had to be replaced. And then you had dumb AI, which was like, intelligent enough. It was like an intelligent talking Wikipedia, basically. But it didn’t… It didn’t have like freedom of thought. And dumb AI was used in like, certain equipment, like you’d have, like a GPS thing for your squad of soldiers and be like, it has a dumb AI so it will like really orders and figure out like routes and stuff for you and offer insight but it wasn’t smart enough to be like, “I have real opinions about things.” But yeah, smart AI. Cortana. Think yourself crazy.

Randall  16:59

Knowledge Engine versus, like, true intelligence.

Tyler  17:03

Yeah, exactly.

Randall  17:05

Neat. Yeah. So so I feel like like GLaDOS GLaDOS and Cortana both, right. Those are fantastic ways of bringing your character into a game for the sole purpose of guiding the players and providing the additional facts you know, for for a Game Master as the voice of a GM. So I think there’s a lot that we could take away from that to bring into our own games.

Ash  17:26

For sure. Well, one of my favorites and something I think you should probably avoid using in DnD is the prototype medic power armor in Fallout three. This is a real deep cut, but their voice was great later. This is medic 2 power armor! Very Arly Urmi. But the thing that you probably want to avoid with intelligent weapon intelligent items was what this thing would do: it wouldn’t let you stealth. Like, if you were stealthy and close to an enemy it would give away your position by going “hooey!” and stuff like. I think if you want your players to hate you, then yeah, you can do that, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Randall  18:09

I’m imagining the Rogue like going out ahead and the Paladin wearing the armor.

Ash  18:14

I guess every time they crit fail you can be like your your sword just gets really excited and goes “Woo! Let’s get some!”

Tyler  18:28

Alright, well let’s look at some mechanics of these things. I feel like we’ve we’ve set the stage we’ve given some good examples. Let’s look at how we actually do this. So D&D, I’m I’m only familiar with the mechanics back to third edition. So third edition and fifth edition and Pathfinder first edition, like, all intelligent items have ability scores. Like a humanoid. They don’t have strength and dexterity because they can’t move, but they’ll they’ll at the very least have intelligence, wisdom, charisma. And that kind of helps form their personality at a super basic level. They’ll generally also have senses and they’ll have an alignment because they’re intelligent and have a personality and some items can have a special purpose which is like whatever the item was built for. Like we brought up Azuredge earlier. If I remember right Azuredge’s whole thing was protect water deep and also dwarves something like that.

Randall  19:23

But yeah, that’s about right definitely protect the Waterdeep. Something about the dwarves.

Tyler  19:27

Yes. So your your intelligent item in D&D will have like ability scores which influence what it’s capable of doing, how smart it is, those things. It’ll have an alignment and a purpose which will tell you like who who created this and why. So you might have a chaotic evil sword that is built for the purpose of like destroying some city or like a neutral sickle made by a Druid and its whole deal is it wants to kill a particular weed or something dumb like that. There’s a lot of flexibility here.

Ash  20:07

For sure.

Tyler  20:08

In, so, in these systems magic items can also frequently attempt to influence the behavior of whoever is using them. Which is… this is where intelligent items can either be a problem or can be a whole bunch of fun depending on the item. So items with higher charisma in 5e can generally influence the wielder more because it’s an opposed charisma check. In 3.x items had an ego score, quote, unquote, which is like some combination of the things that the item could do. Basically, the more powerful it was, the more of an ego it had. And it would use that ego score to try and influence the player. And if the player lost badly enough, or if they lose badly enough in 5e, the item could essentially just dominate the player and say, like, “Okay, I am now driving your body for a few minutes while we do some stuff, and you’re just gonna have to deal with that.” So like, intelligent items always have this ability in 5e. It might not be super easy for them, especially if the item has poor charisma, and the player has really good charisma. But that threat there, like creates this interesting dynamic, especially when the player and the item have like opposing goals. Like if I have that chaotic evil sword that wants to burn down the city, and I’m the protector of the city, like, Ah, we’re gonna have a fun time here.

Ash  21:31

Yeah, yeah. The item that comes immediately to mind is the Sword of Kas or cos or however you pronounce it, where if you draw it and you don’t immediately bathed in blood, you have to do a charisma check or a dominates you until you bathed in blood. Oh, yeah. I know that there’s

Randall  21:50

If only you and your friends are in the room…

Asher E  21:53

Yep. Yeah. We actually saw that and critical role with Grog. Spoilers, but yeah. But yeah, I think also lawful sword, like good sorts can also do that. Like, if you start doing evil enough deeds, they’ll be like, Okay, I’m taking over. So…

Randall  22:13

I put a stop to this.

Ash  22:14

Yeah.

Randall  22:15

Absolutely. So Azuredge in particular, so it’s thing was if you try to control it against its will, and against its will, would be if you were probably doing something against the city of Waterdeep itself, it had the ability to become 10 times heavier than normal. And it can magically adhere to any medium or larger object or surface that it comes in contact with. So even if you were strong enough to pick it up, if it hit, let’s say a wall or anything like that of the sort, and it wasn’t happy with you as a wielder, it could literally just stick to it. And now your host. So imagine that in the middle of a fight.

Tyler  22:47

The Mjolnir solution, just like I’ve decided you’re not worthy. You can’t pick me up now.

Randall  22:52

Exactly.

Ash  22:53

That makes a lot of sense. Yeah.

Tyler  22:55

So Pathfinder 2e has some rules for intelligent weapons, or sorry, intelligent items. And they’re weirdly shallow for for PF2. Like, I say this a lot. But PF2 very, very frequently takes a mechanic that just doesn’t work and 5e and is just like, here’s this extremely robust mechanical system that we have built. This is one of those bits of PF2, where it was basically forgotten. Like, we get like a page and a half of text on how intelligent items work. And none of that explains how to actually create one yourself. So there are some cool things in there. The tools chapter in the Gamemastery Guide has a list of item quirks that you can use. And it’s it’s basically just a, a huge table of weird stuff that you can make a magic weapon do. And in PF2, which is a game where you accumulate, like, a huge number of magic items you’re expected to have up to 10, generally. You don’t want to put these quirks on everything, but if you’re going to bother making an item intelligent, maybe give it a cool quirk. Like as an example, the item gets hungry and you have to feed it wood shavings like that’s that’s one of the things table. Yeah.

Ash  24:12

I love that!

Tyler  24:13

Yeah, you can like you can use this table you can roll on it randomly and come up with weird stuff to put on a magic item. And yeah, for for intelligent items where you want to give it a personality, giving it a quirk or two is a really great way to make it feel unique.

Randall  24:28

And some of these works were actually be like awesome storytelling device. So one of them it’s the title of the quirk is lucid. Creatures asleep within 10 feet see the item in their dreams.

Tyler  24:38

That’s unsettling.

Randall  24:39

Well, but yeah, imagine using that as a storytelling device where occasionally, like, the sword appears or the shield appears in the players dreams and all the players dreams and they each have to deal with like having this dream. You don’t want to beat the players over the head with it. But having that occasionally it’s like, Hey, we’re heading to something pretty big. You feeling good about it? Yeah, I was trying to Sleep though. I’m gonna wake up rested. I hear what you’re saying. Let’s go with the game plan one more time. No, you’re a shield. Let me go back to sleep! Like, that, that can be a lot of fun. It gets to the point where they actually put the the item in a bag of holding just so it’s actually not technically nearby.

Tyler  25:17

That would work.

Randall  25:18

Another one which you know if you’re… right, if you have somebody who doesn’t love bugs, insect attracting. Harmless insects swarm around it.

Tyler  25:27

Does emotional harm count?

Randall  25:28

A little bit, yeah. Yeah, harmless is carrying a lot of weight there. I would consider in the right circumstances, like, Oh, you want to make an intimidation check? Do it.

Tyler  25:42

So the PF2 rules also have a little bit of text implying that creatures with poor will saves are more vulnerable to being taken over by the intelligent item. But there’s also no rules in PF2 for how intelligent items take over a player. Like, there’s clearly some text missing there. Maybe we’ll get that corrected someday? Who knows?

Randall  26:06

Tyler, I believe it involves a wheel save.

Ash  26:09

I would assume so.

Tyler  26:12

Sure does. I’m gonna make a reflex save to have my sword not take over my body.

Randall  26:19

Because that’s my instinct. To not do that.

Ash  26:23

You can’t possess me if you’re over there.

Randall  26:28

The item has like, you know, the boomerang effect where when you throw it, it comes back your hand. It’s like, ah!

Tyler  26:38

All right, well, why don’t we talk about making some intelligent items. And I don’t mean like your character crafting a magic item. Like let’s say, you are a real-world person, and you are designing an intelligent item that you want to bring into your game in some fashion. Let’s go through how we do that. Because the rules aren’t super specific in 5e, or PF2. And I think we can offer some advice here. So the first thing you want to start with is, what is the item gonna be? Rhe vast majority of intelligent items, I’ve seen our weapons and like, that’s an easy thing to do because, you know, it feels very heroic to have an intelligent weapon and take that into battle and do stuff with it. There are some intelligent shields that I can think of. And then generally, in terms of like, official published examples, that’s kind of where the list ends. But I mean, there’s a huge laundry list of items that we could use. Why can’t they be intelligent?

Randall  27:37

Yeah, 100%

Ash  27:39

I think a really an interesting way… item that you could use for a sentient item would be either a spellcasting foci or spell book. I know that they do this in Naddpod and like most recent arc, the which Emily experts character has a sentient spell book. And it’s kind of a comical personality. He’s like a worry-wort dad kind of spell book. But you can I think it would be interesting as But even you don’t have to make it comical. Like you can make it serious like a relationship that a person has with their spell book could be really interesting. It’s sort of like the relationship that witches have with their familiar except if you’re familiar could talk which I suppose you could also do.

Tyler  28:27

In my general opinion, armor is also a… think long and hard about doing intelligent armor.

Ash  28:36

Yeah.

Tyler  28:37

Think long and hard about whether or not you want to deal with the social implications of wearing an intelligent creature.

Ash  28:46

Yeah. Yeah.

Randall  28:50

Yeah. It’s um, it sounds great. Like what’s the problem? What are we stuck on?

Tyler  28:55

Well, Randall, I’m gonna put you on as socks. And then we’re gonna…

Randall  29:02

No, but like, if this is what I’m made into, this is my shape. I might as well fulfill my purpose. What is my purpose?

Tyler  29:08

If you’re socks, it’s keeping my toes warm.

Ash  29:10

I guess you could also make that into comedy. Be like, “hey, can you wash me out? Because you stink. I don’t have noses and even I can even I can tell that you are just rancid dude.”

Randall  29:25

Why am I wetter on the inside than the outside? What is happening here? I’m sure glad I could be your faceplate. Not a single one of those sword strikes got past me.

Ash  29:35

Yeah, that’s the other thing. You also have to deal with like that you’re holding a sentient person in front of you to like shield you from blows. So every time you get hits like ow. Ow! OW!

Randall  29:49

It’s getting real hot in here. Maybe we… I mean, but here’s the deal. Like if you flip that on its head like let’s say it’s my sword and I’m running around with this intelligence sword, I’m constantly just banging it into things right? Like, that’s its thing.

Ash  30:02

Some swords are into that. Sword of Kas. Really, really like stabbing things.

Randall  30:08

Maybe we get some armor. Oh, that’d be terrible. That’d be so terrible. Alright, so I’ve got my armor, and if it takes over, it runs into battle. Like it takes the joy of battle. But the problem is I’m a Bard and not, like, the fighty like stab people Bard, like, hide in the back and like offer haste. I was only here for the inspiration. But every time I fail in combat, every time I fail a roll against this thing, I am forced into the middle of combat.

Ash  30:43

I mean, that is interesting. If we have a sadist sword, we should have a masochistic armor.

Randall  30:49

100%

Ash  30:49

Give me more! Give me more!

Randall  30:53

I didn’t even know taunt!

Tyler  30:57

Well, there’s our inspiration, I guess.

Randall  31:01

So that’s gonna happen.

Ash  31:03

Yes, a masochistic armor. Let’s do it. Let’s make it

Randall  31:08

it’ll be really good armor like in its defense?

Ash  31:10

Yeah, really good.

Randall  31:12

Also, slightly cursed and that you can’t just take it off.

Tyler  31:17

That’s always a classic curse, you can’t take it off or put it down or whatever.

Ash  31:23

We can make this really powerful, powerful armor like maybe like Tony Stark power armor level of armor. So it’s a powered suit.

Tyler  31:31

When I think of an intelligent weapon, I tried to think of four things about that item, like we’ve decided what the item is going to be. Maybe it’s a book, maybe it’s a set of armor, maybe it’s a shield or whatever. So four P’s: power, personality, progenitor, and purpose. And that’s right, I cracked open up thesaurus and looked up a synonym for creator so I can make these all P words.

Ash  31:56

I like your energy.

Tyler  32:00

What else was I gonna do with my day? So power is generally the first one that people will think of. It’s what does this item do? Like what are its stats, if you’re going to do 5e or 3.x, it’s going to have intelligence wisdom, charisma. I honestly can’t remember if they have constitution and 3.x. I should have looked that one up, shame on me.

Randall  32:22

But here we are.

Tyler  32:24

Here we are. So in addition to those ability scores, like the item is an… it’s still a magic item, it’s going to have stats of some kind. Like your your hyper intelligent Wizard wand is still going to be like, maybe it’s a wand of the warmage plus one or something like that. So figure out what those stats are for your magic item. And if you if you just want to put intelligence onto an existing magic item, that’s perfectly fine. Like a plus one, wand of the warmage, still a pretty decent piece of loot for a lot of casters. So just Yes, slap intelligence onto that if you need to.

Randall  33:00

I really don’t want to downplay that. Like if the idea, if your goal in adding a sentient item into your game, is to give a voice of the GM, 100% take a well balanced item that belongs in your party today and slap onto it the ability to occasionally offer things that are gonna help the party move forward. Like that’s a perfectly wonderful way of introducing this without worrying about missbalancing, and like breaking combat from here to the end of time.

Tyler  33:25

It also makes it hard for the party to justify throwing the item away if it gets annoying. Like if your Warlock has a plus one wand of the warmage, they’re real happy eldritch blasting things that plus one to hit. And they’re unlikely to give that up even if the personality of the item is mildly inconvenient.

Ash  33:44

Yeah. You got to make people want the item, especially if you want it to stick around.

Randall  33:50

I think the other thing though, was like make it very clear or at least have the item lie about it. Like you know, my name is MacGuffin, and I am required to advance the story, so you probably should keep me with you.

Ash  34:01

Yeah, no, exactly.

Tyler  34:02

And at the same time, it’s probably a good idea to have the item’s effects be useful enough that the party wants to actively use the item. The only intelligent item I’ve ever received as a player was a magic long sword, which was great for the character. But the problem is, I already had a better magic long sword than the one I got. So the new long sword had two things about it. It was a plus three sword and this was in 3.x, so like, good but not amazing. And once per day could cast true resurrection on the wielder, which is real nice. It was a single like it was a single player campaign. So if I died, I was dead without this thing. So it saved my life a couple times, but all it did was hang out on my back and offer encouragement and once in a while it would resurrect me.

Ash  34:52

Sometimes that’s all you need from a friend.

Tyler  34:56

We call that friend “Cleric.” Okay. So the second P you want to hit is personality. Like we’ve given this thing stats, we have declared it intelligent, we have given it some function that it does. What is this thing’s personality? And previous episode was creating good characters. And a lot of that same advice applies here. Like the traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws, those are all still good things that you can use for your sword. And like if you… sword. For your intelligent item. And if you want to fit everything you need to know about this intelligent item into a small format, like you can grab an index card and on one side, like right, plus three sword, draw stick figure of it, and on the back like trait, ideal, bond, flaw. There’s your intelligent item. The, the PF2 item quirks are a great way to flesh this out a little more, you can make it do something weird. We talked about a couple of quirks earlier like the one where it pops into your dreams. Randall, you suggested a shield talking to people and offering battle advice while they’re sleeping.

Randall  36:08

Yes, absolutely.

Ash  36:09

I love that.

Randall  36:11

Alright, so I want to take the next P here. Progenitor. Congratulations to you kind sir, for bringing that word to us so that we can keep this four P’s. I think this could actually be really interesting if you can fit it into the story that you’re trying to tell, or into the module that you’re running. So this thing was created. Why shouldn’t it be created by the same forces that have set whatever thing you’re working through in motion? Going back to some of the examples we gave early on like, one of the coolest things for GLaDOS was the reveal that she was originally and you know, Portal and Portal 2 spoilers for those at home. So ear muffs if you’re worried. The big reveal was that she was actually the secretary of the guy who… Cave Johnson, the guy who created the facility that you’re working in, and they didn’t finish the ability to, you know, digitize and turn a real human being into an AI before he died from, you know, cancerous chemicals that he created himself so there your go. And so like, towards, towards the end of I think portal two, there’s this speech of it’s like, you know, if I don’t make it, I want you to put Carol in here. Because, you know, she’s the heart and soul of this place. And if anybody can keep it going forever, it’s going to be her. And it’s like, oh, you’re not just this obnoxious robot who’s trying to kill me. You were a real person who loved this facility and really wanted it to run well. And then you took it to an extreme. But I say that to say like, that’s a fantastic example of progenitor. You know, we talked about as our edge the, the soul in Azuredge was a person who loved Waterdeep. I forget all of the details, literally all of the details except for that. But right this this character, who has long-since dead was put into the into the axe so that the axe could protect Waterdeep for all time. That’s a cool origin story. And it kind of fits in motivating the personality of the axe and how it chooses a wielder. You know, basically everything about it kind of comes from that time. So I really think if you’re making your own magic item, getting this right, and making it matter, can make it more meaningful to your players so that your players are more excited to keep this item around. And it can also be, you know, I use MacGuffin lightly a second ago. But I almost want to flip that on its head. It could really be a key part of the story that finding it is critical and that keeping it alive around and on your side is also critical.

Ash  38:42

Yeah, I agree. And I think that you can turn on an item from a MacGuffin into an into an actual meaningful thing. Because the problem with macguffins is that they’re just an object that people want. But it’s different when it’s a… when it’s an object that people want that also has a personality. I mean, there are human macguffins but those are those usually are flat characters. So if you make this character interesting, then you can you can take what you would originally conceive of as a MacGuffin for your campaign and make it into something interesting. And I do think progenitors are really important. Just like your progenitor is really important. Your parents. You can think of a creator of a magic weapon as sort of a parent for that for that item. And maybe you could have an entire quest arc where you tried to track down the creator of a certain item and that can inform how you view that item.

Randall  39:36

Okay, now you’ve just motivated me to another item and I want to get this out here real quick. Okay, it is it is a wooden armor, including a face shield. But it’s actually incredibly strong. Its desire is to become a real person.

Ash  39:52

Are you making Pinocchio?

Randall  39:55

Maybe. The negative, the flaw. Every time you lie, the nose on the face mask gets longer. You know, it’s… You got me. Okay. It would be a lot of fun!

Tyler  40:10

It would.

Ash  40:11

It would be fun.

Randall  40:13

Until somebody cast fireball

Ash  40:16

What would happen when it became a real human and you were inside of it though?

Randall  40:20

We don’t talk about that. Okay, you know, it’s weaving like the meta of what’s happening in real life. You know, occasionally you play campaigns and you add somebody to the campaign part of the way through, like, congratulations, buddy. You get to come in, but you have to play the real boy. Just gonna take the armor off, we’re gonna put it over here. It’s gonna stay up. It’s gonna be great. No, you’re a… Oh, yeah. 5e… what is it in 5e?

Tyler  40:51

Warforged?

Randall  40:52

Thank you. Yes, yeah, you’re Warforged. 100%.

Tyler  40:56

You know, I, I almost ran a campaign, it almost got off the ground. Like, I released Monstrous Races a couple of years back. And my friends were like “we need to play this.” Rocco, who now writes for the site wanted to play an awakened swarm of animals that occupied a suit of armor. So I, I wrote a template, specifically for this character, to allow a swarm to inhabit armor like a mech. So it’s kind of, it’s kind of the exact opposite concept. But if you took the intelligent armor, it’s like, here’s this intelligent armor occupied by intelligent squirrels. And at some point, if we need like a guest character, the intelligent armor will go wander around for a little bit and we’ll have a separate intelligence swarm of squirrels.

Randall  41:45

Okay, so it’s like the episode of episode of Futurama where Bender kept dividing himself in two over and over again until they ate part of the world. And then they created a giant binder robot out of the very tiny vendors. And then all those tiny vendors fought…

Ash  41:58

The giant.

Randall  42:00

Yeah, there. Yeah, exactly. Bought the giant. And then they destroyed each other.

Ash  42:04

Yes.

Tyler  42:04

That’s perfect.

Randall  42:06

Perfect. I love that. I think that’s great.

Tyler  42:09

Boy, the show notes are gonna be weird today.

Randall  42:11

Yeah, absolutely. Monstrous Races, by the way, available on the DMsGuild. Still a cool book. If you weren’t aware, Tyler Kamstra wrote a book. An entire book. Yeah, what did you do? You took the monster manual, the original monster manual, you took every monster from the monster manual and you created a playable race from that monster.

Tyler  42:34

Yeah, there’s also rules for building your own races. Like the race design in 5e has evolved a bit. So like, custom origin rules will cause some mayhem there. But it’s still a lot of fun. And a lot of the races are still fun to play. Like, hey, if you want to play a level one Tarrasque Fighter, that’s an option.

Randall  42:53

Like instead of being dragonborn, like why, like, Let’s go all the way. Like, what if you know, I’ve got a party of five, we’re each going to play a metallic dragon and it’s gonna be amazing. I feel like we’ve actually, you know, we’ve been doing this for almost a year, we’ve literally never talked about the book. So I’m glad you brought it up. I really do not think we have. So hey, link in the show notes, folks. It’s available in DMsGuild.

Ash  43:15

Check it out.

Tyler  43:17

Yeah. All right. Well, let’s, uh, let’s get back to the topic on hand. Hey, why? The purpose of your magic item.

Randall  43:25

Why is not a P?

Tyler  43:26

Yeah, the purpose of this item. Why does it exist? Presumably, your your progenitor created this item with some kind of purpose. And that purpose should in some ways inform this item’s personality and behavior. Now it’s an… like, you can play against typing you like here’s the plus to sort of burning down this one city. And maybe the sword has a change of heart is like, eh, what if I didn’t? But the the purpose for which the item was created can still offer some insight into how it behaves, how it’s used, it might even inform like, hey, what powers do I want to give this thing? So you might jump around in these steps. Like, if it’s a sort of burning down this one city, maybe it does fire damage? I don’t know. The the 5e rules for creating magic items has a table of special purposes, which is a great starting point, but definitely go beyond the table because like a table of example options can never quite capture the nuance that you likely want for this item. Yeah, I feel like in this case, the… what the table really does is it gets the creative juices flowing. It gives you a good basis… basic… perfect. It gives you a good basis for like what you could do and then allows you to build build on top of that like to really fit the story that you’re trying to tell. Alright, so the four P’s. Power, what is this thing do? Personality, what is this thing like? Progenitor, who made this? And purpose, for what purpose did the progenitor make this?

Ash  45:03

Yeah.

Randall  45:04

All right. Do you folks want to try to make an item? I feel like we’ve kind of been doing it throughout, but I think it’d be a lot of fun.

Ash  45:10

Yes!

Randall  45:10

Yes, let’s make an item. Okay.

Ash  45:12

I have tables that I can roll on for us as well.

Tyler  45:14

Oh, do it, do it! I love a random table.

Ash  45:18

It’s great. All right. So what are we thinking in terms of like, what kind of item are we making?

Randall  45:24

I have an item already that I’m going to bring to the team.

Tyler  45:27

Okay.

Randall  45:28

Do you want me to roll that out? Or if we want to roll on table first?

Ash  45:31

I like tables, personally.

Randall  45:33

Let’s roll on the table? Let’s do this. Go go.

Ash  45:35

Well, first, we have to figure out what item we’re making sentient because I don’t have a table for that.

Tyler  45:40

All right, so…. so Randall, what item should we make sentient?

Randall  45:45

Okay, with all the discussion that we’ve had for it. Boots!

Ash  45:48

Boots?

Tyler  45:49

Okay. Now here’s the question. A pair of boots. Is it one sentient item? Or is it two? And do they have different personalities?

Randall  45:56

That is a wonderful question. I did not consider it when I brought this up.

Ash  46:00

Or is the brain divided between the two boots.

Tyler  46:03

What happens if you separate the boots and it’s the one intelligence?

Randall  46:07

They suffer, and they might even break.

Tyler  46:10

Yeah, okay.I like this. Alright, so one personality in a pair of boots and it does not like to be separated. Got it.

Ash  46:17

Cool. All right. Let’s see if how it communicates then first. Oh, it can talk. And it can read and understand one more language.

Tyler  46:28

Okay. So it can talk but it can only say the words flip and flop.

Ash  46:35

I love it! Flip, flop. What’s its alignment? We’l see.

Randall  46:39

Okay, I want to add to this, the boots are all like janky. And so, you know, like if you rip the front of a shoe, it actually looks like a mouth that’s talking.

Tyler  46:46

Yeah.

Randall  46:47

That’s what they look like all the time.

Tyler  46:50

Just toes hanging out.

Randall  46:51

Yeah. Hey, no, don’t, don’t put that your foots not gonna fit in here. Get it out!

Ash  46:58

So I just rolled. This, these boots are a chaotic good.

Tyler  47:03

Okay.

Randall  47:04

That make sense.

Tyler  47:05

Chaotic good talking boots that say “flip flop”.

Randall  47:08

They’ll kick, they’ll kick evil people, but occasionally they’ll tie themselves together when you walk.

Tyler  47:17

Okay, so let’s, let’s go with the 5e method. Let’s get this thing some ability scores. So, in 5e, you do the four D six drop the lowest for ability score. So who’s got dice handy?

Ash  47:28

I’ve got dice.

Randall  47:30

I’ve got some Easy Roller Dice.

Tyler  47:32

All right.

Ash  47:34

Let’s see. Okay, so that’s going to be a 14.

Tyler  47:43

So we’ll say 14 intelligence.

Randall  47:46

Let me give you a set with the easy rollers.

Ash  47:48

Go for it. What did you get?

Randall  47:50

I got a 10.

Tyler  47:52

Okay, so 14 intelligence, 10 wisdom. And I got a 12 for charisma. So this thing is smart, slightly charming, but average wisdom.

Ash  48:01

Perfect.

Randall  48:02

Okay, well, you know, it got turned into boots, or it is boost. So.

Tyler  48:06

Yeah. Boy, there’s a question you should ask was this a person before it was a magic item?

Ash  48:12

What do we think?

Randall  48:15

Well, I guess we have to… are we ready to nail down a progenitor or is that, is that the stage we’re at?

Ash  48:19

Well, I do want to say that I rolled for its purpose.

Randall  48:22

Okay, good. Good.

Tyler  48:23

Yeah. What’s the deal?

Ash  48:25

It is a glory seeker, which means this item seeks or noun as the greatest magic item in the world by establishing its user as a famous or notorious figure.

Tyler  48:33

Interesting. Okay.

Randall  48:35

Okay. All right. So let’s ask the question. Do we want to talk about who created the boots? Or do we want to talk about what they do for the wielder?

Tyler  48:43

Okay, so I feel like we can jump around a whole bunch because you don’t need to do all the P’as in order because you know, they’re going to inform other decisions. So if it’s a glory seeker, it’s going to do something that makes the wielder awesome. And the…

Ash  49:00

Progenerator.

Tyler  49:00

probably either made this for someone to make them to make them awesome, or made it for themselves to make them awesome.

Ash  49:08

What about flying boots?

Tyler  49:11

Oh, there you go. Yeah.

Ash  49:12

Yeah?

Tyler  49:13

Chaotic good, intelligent flying boots.

Ash  49:16

And I’m gonna say that someone like a Hermes-inspired character made them.

Tyler  49:21

Hermes, the Greek deity?

Ash  49:22

Yeah, the Greek god.

Tyler  49:26

Okay.

Randall  49:26

No, the accountant from Futurama.

Ash  49:29

Oh, yeah, there you go. Perfect. Hermes Conrad.

Randall  49:34

One of the bonuses: really good at the limbo.

Ash  49:38

I actually kind of like that a lot.

Randall  49:41

Write it in, write it in. Might as well.

Tyler  49:42

They make you fly and you have advantage on checks to limbo.

Ash  49:45

Perfect.

Randall  49:48

Perfect.

Ash  49:48

Do you want to roll some magical properties for this thing?

Tyler  49:51

Well, yeah, now.

Randall  49:52

Oh, wait. I want to ask your question real quick. And I want to know do you think this is opening it too much? So let’s say you get like a 20 or 30-foot flying speed. Do we also want to give like a plus 10 to ground speed? Or is that too much?

Ash  50:07

I think that’s fine.

Tyler  50:08

Yeah. Yeah.

Ash  50:09

It’s an artifact-level weapon or item?

Tyler  50:09

Yeah. Gosh, what rarity are flying boots? Remind me. I want to say rare.

Ash  50:19

I think they’re rare. Yeah.

Tyler  50:20

Yeah. Yeah, a plus 10 foot bonus to your move speed isn’t going to break anything. There aren’t a lot of magic items that do that. But I mean longstrider’s like a 2nd-level spell. It’s not gonna, it’s not going to hurt.

Randall  50:35

So the winged boots allow you to fly for up to four hours all at once are several shorter flights. And that’s an uncommon item.

Tyler  50:45

Oh gosh, it’s only uncommon.

Ash  50:46

Oh, wow. Okay.

Randall  50:49

So yeah, sure. Let’s give him a plus 10 ground speed, too.

Tyler  50:52

Yeah, okay.

Randall  50:53

No burrow speed, though. We’re not going to we’re not going to be ridiculous here.

Tyler  50:56

Well, if I fly straight down fast enough.

Randall  50:59

Yeah. Yeah, burrow with your face. That’s the other item we need to make is mole feet. Anyway, keep going. Okay.

Ash  51:05

So in terms of magic properties, we have minor benefits, major benefits, and we have detriments. How many of each do we want to give them? Do we want any detriments or just all good?

Tyler  51:17

Let’s let’s go for one of each just to show it off a little bit. But…

Ash  51:21

Sure, yeah. All right. So minor beneficial properties. Let’s see. I got a 75, which is… okay, while attuned to the artifact, you can use an action to cast one second level spell chosen by the DM. After you cast the spell roll a d6. On a roll of one and five. One to five, you can’t cast it again until the next dawn.

Tyler  51:43

Interesting. Okay, so if we want this thing to be a glory seeker, I feel like it should be something heroic like, Oh, well. Hey, how about heroism?

Ash  51:54

Is that a second level spell?

Tyler  51:55

It’s first level but we get upcast it.

Ash  51:57

That’s true.

Tyler  51:58

Yeah, you and a buddy.

Ash  52:00

That’s perfect! I like that. That’s great. Um, okay, Major Mathmagic by the way. 98. Ooh.

Randall  52:08

That’s a good number.

Ash  52:09

Yeah. While attuned to the artifacts. You can’t be blinded, deafened, petrified, or stunned.

Tyler  52:16

Well… yeah, that’s really good. And hey, having any of those things happen to you. Not super heroic.

Ash  52:21

Yeah, exactly. It doesn’t want to interfere with your heroism and glory.

Tyler  52:25

Yeah.

Randall  52:26

It prevents other people from interfering as well.

Ash  52:30

So detriment time. Let’s see what we got. 32. While attuned to the artifact, all holy water within 10 feet of you is destroyed. Interesting.

Randall  52:41

Oh. We’re getting to a progenitor, I would say.

Tyler  52:46

So. Okay, so it’s a glory seeking item. It makes you…

Ash  52:50

That destroys holy water.

Randall  52:52

You can fly.

Tyler  52:55

You can fly. You’re immune to a bunch of status conditions you can ask to heroism which gives you temporary hit points and makes you immune to fear. It’s got high intelligence, okay charisma, and not a ton of wisdom. So I’m gonna say whoever created this was like Artificer, eldritch knight, Wizard, one of those. I’m thinking, like, eldritch night feels very good for this.

Ash  53:24

I just, so I have a thought this is. Maybe this is an atheistic Wizard or Wizard who hates like organized religion. Like I want, I want people to share… I want I want to make a hero who isn’t beholden to the gods, because you know, there’s always everybody’s like, Oh, the gods chose this guy. No! Definitely not that.

Tyler  53:48

Okay, yeah, I like that.

Ash  53:50

Yeah. All right. So major detrimental properties.

Randall  53:54

Okay. I want to toss this in real quick. How does Strahd feel about Holy Water?

Tyler  53:59

Probably doesn’t like it a whole lot.

Ash  54:00

Doesn’t like it. No.

Randall  54:01

Doesn’t like it at all? Okay. What if a vampire created these boots? And it’s actually the origin of the myth for vampires having a flying speed.

Tyler  54:11

Oh, that’s… That’s interesting.

Ash  54:14

Interesting. Well, this might this might clincher because I just rolled a really interesting major detriment.

Tyler  54:20

Okay.

Ash  54:21

So nine while you’re attuned to the artifact, you determine your alignment daily at dawn by rolling a d6 twice. On the first roll, a one to two indicates lawful. Three to four indicates neutral or a five to six indicates chaotic. On the second roll, one to two indicates good. Three to four indicates neutral and five to six, evil.

Tyler  54:43

Wow. So your alignment just flies all over the place. That’s interesting.

Ash  54:46

Yeah.

Tyler  54:48

Okay.

Ash  54:49

How do we justify this?

Randall  54:50

Okay. Okay, I think it would actually be fun instead of the player having that manifest. What if the item has that and then the player just has to adjust?

Ash  54:59

Oh, I really like that!

Randall  55:00

So on the boots are like “let’s save that orphanage” and then you take a nap in the orphanage and wakes up, it’s like “burn it down.”

Tyler  55:08

Oh, that’s great!

Asher E  55:09

I love that. What is the boots have different conflicting personalities in it?

Randall  55:17

So who’s winning today? Okay.

Ash  55:19

Yeah.

Randall  55:21

Good.

Tyler  55:21

Okay.

Ash  55:22

A pair of boots with multiple personality disorder.

Tyler  55:27

Now I would be… like, if we were going to go with boots that argue with themselves, I would probably make them either like a very minor magic item that doesn’t have a whole lot of effects. Because then you could just use it for comedic relief, or I would use that in a very small party. Otherwise, like, you’re going to take a lot of spotlight time having shoes argue with each other.

Randall  55:50

For sure, for sure. So if you really only wanted to be funny, and you only wanted to bring in, what if once you put feet in them, they couldn’t talk anymore. So it’s the whole like, I take my boots off to sleep. And so when we go to sleep at night and we wake up in the morning, I have to deal with these two shenanigans. And the rest of the time I just get to fly around and be awesome.

Tyler  56:13

I think at that point, I would just carry mannequin legs around, just put them in the boots just to keep them quiet.

Randall  56:20

It’s like I need a woodworker to make me one of those feet tree things be true. Not the feat tree like you know, I want to do cool stuff, but literally, I’m gonna stick something in these shoes.

Tyler  56:29

Alright, so I’m gonna bring in the PF2 item quirks table because I still think this is really fun. So each of you roll me a d10.

Ash  56:38

Okay. 50. Er, sorry.

Tyler  56:42

We’ll make that the first digit. 5.

Ash  56:44

5. That’s what I meant. I rolled a d100 Instead.

Randall  56:49

A 1.

Tyler  56:50

Okay. 51. So that gets us the hair altering quirk: the user’s hair color changes. There’s no further detail given to that. So you know what, let’s just lean into the chaos. What if it’s randomly determined every day? So like, you put on the boots in the morning. The boots randomly determined their alignment. Your hair color changes to match. How about that? So like, each alignment has a matching hair color.

Randall  57:16

And the rest of the party is just “Oh no. Oh, no.”

Tyler  57:20

The boots chose murder this morning.

Ash  57:22

If you’re neutral evil. Maybe it’s just like black and ends covering one eye. “Arlight. Let’s do this.”

Tyler  57:31

Mustache inexplicably curls into handlebars.

Randall  57:35

Where did you get eyeliner? It’s four o’clock in the morning, and we’re in middle of the dungeon.

Ash  57:39

Don’t think about it.

Tyler  57:41

Perfect.

Randall  57:45

Much like Tobey Maguire in Spider Man 3.

Ash  57:48

Yes, exactly. That is a sentient magic item. The venom suit.

Randall  57:54

Yeah, that particular movie. Yeah. Yeah.

Tyler  57:57

Dang, we should have thought of that as an example earlier in the episode.

Randall  58:02

It’s like an eldritch tattoo. But…

Tyler  58:05

Okay, so we have our item. It’s a pair of, it is a pair of paired boots that either share a personality or have two distinct personalities that don’t get along. It is… the base item is winged boots, but it can also cast heroism at 2nd level once per day.

Randall  58:26

Does the fail, shenanigan, uh…

Tyler  58:28

Yeah. It’s got 14 intelligence 10 wisdom 12 Charisma so it’s smart, slightly charming. Not real, like, not really “with it.” The alignment and your hair color are determined at random every morning. And then ash remind me the the stuff we rolled on the artifact tables, which we also should have called out: Hey, you don’t have to reserve those just for artifacts. Use them whenever you want.

Asher E  58:57

The, which one the detrimental or the beneficial properties?

Tyler  59:01

Both.

Ash  59:02

Oh, so you can’t be blinded. deafened, petrified, or stunned. It allows you to cast a spell. You already mentioned the changing of your… changing of the alignment. And then what was the other one? Oh yeah, destroys all holy water.

Tyler  59:21

That’s right. Okay. Yeah, so so we have this item that has some really cool effects makes you fly cast heroism. We talked about maybe a plus 10 foot moves speed bonus. makes you immune to a bunch of conditions. Like, these are good boots for a Fighter looking to go out and play the hero. Like, you’re immune to petrification I’m gonna go fight a Medusa. These are cool boots. But you might also wake up in the morning with chaotic evil boots and crazy hair. So there’s a drawback. It’s got a personality, that’s going to be a little wild. So like the DM has plenty of room to make this an interesting item any time you talk about it.

Ash  1:00:02

I love these boots.

Tyler  1:00:03

Me too! If the DM handed me these these I’d be like, please, I want this chaos. We talked about their appearance: they are open up the toes, which is either how they talk or they talk out the top, but can only talk when your feet are in them like that. We’ll leave that up to the consumer.

Ash  1:00:21

What do we want to name these boots?

Tyler  1:00:23

Ah, I feel like with 10 wisdom and some, like crazy alignment thing, the name needs to be really, really dumb.

Randall  1:00:37

Stevie’s?

Ash  1:00:39

Stevie’s!

Tyler  1:00:43

How about Stevie’s Mega Awesome Boots of Super Heroism?

Ash  1:00:47

Yes! And the’re red and they have a lightning bolt on ’em. They’re like Dr. Martens, but red and they have a lightning bolt. Perfect I love it.

Tyler  1:01:04

Send this off to Griffon’ Saddlebag, be like “hey, we’ve got something for you.”

Ash  1:01:09

It’s excellent. And if you don’t think so you’re wrong.

Randall  1:01:14

Our question of the week this week?

Tyler  1:01:16

Okay, so question of the week this week comes uncom from our good friend Stubbenz, both on Twitter and on Discord. Have there been any mechanics either official or homebrew that you’ve loved on paper, but that just didn’t work when you brought them to the table. So I think we talked about this on the success episode, but critical success and critical failure decks like they look like so much fun. But I’ve just never been able to make them work out well at the table. Games with built in critical hit tables, sometimes they can work, but a lot of times they’re just arbitrarily punishing for players. Like, they always look like so much fun, but I’ve never been able to make them work in a way that was as fun as they look.

Ash  1:01:59

For me. I think it would be crafting. I always wanted to have like a sort of crafting system, where you like, I think at one point I had like this intricate… it was this supplement this homebrew supplement called Surviving in the Wild. It was like you harvest certain materials from different animals and it will give you like, different effects for whatever equipment you make, or there’s like these two different plants. The different plants have like these different like little symbols that have effects and you can combine them into different potions and stuff like that. And it seemed like a really cool system on paper. But it just never really clicked with me or my players. People would forget about it. They would forget to do that stuff. Or it just felt like busy work and more accounting when D&D already has all of that accounting. So I still want to find a way to make it work, but it is… crafting in D&D is hard. Unless it’s like project based I feel.

Tyler  1:02:58

Well there’s a fun future episode: crafting.

Randall  1:03:00

Yeah, actually did uh… so Frog God’s had a text. Did that come out? I’m trying to remember now.

Tyler  1:03:07

I have it on my shelf right next to me. I’m reading through it. So far. I’m enjoying it.

Randall  1:03:11

Okay, Tome of Alchemy, is that it?

Tyler  1:03:12

Tome of Alchemy, Yeah. Well, we’ll we’ll save that for a future episode, though.

Randall  1:03:16

I only say that to say, Ash, there could be an answer.

Tyler  1:03:20

Convenient.

Ash  1:03:21

I hope you’re right. I really do. We actually talked about crafting on crit fails. And we were just like, Yeah, I don’t think it can be done. I’m looking forward to being proven wrong.

Randall  1:03:32

It would make everybody very, very happy.

Ash  1:03:34

Yes. What about you, Randall.

Randall  1:03:38

I’m thinking it through. I guess this is probably more personal failure. But let’s go ahead and bring it out there. So actually, I ran this campaign for Tyler and a few other friends. I wanted to do a… essentially a zombie campaign. I actually, I really enjoy the genre. It hasn’t completely played out for me yet. Although at one point I’m going to burn out. But I love the idea of racing against time, every time somebody falls another zombie is created, like what are we going to do in this environment? And so I ran this game, but ultimately the mechanic of like, well, how do you make something undead? Okay, no longer suffers from any of these status effects. If it falls, unless it falls from a magic weapon, roll a die and see maybe the creature gets back up and you have to keep fighting it. The punchline is I feel like that’s interesting as a mechanic here and there. But as a general like, well, what if everything around me is undead? It really sucked. And I think I don’t think that’s a problem with the mechanic itself. So I’m cheating a little bit Stubbenz, I’m sorry. But trying to use that mechanic as the basis for most of the monsters in your campaign is it gets boring and it gets old, I think to the players very quickly. One of the things that I figured out part of the way through that is more interesting is the shadow mechanic. Because the shadow has the likelihood of like turning you into a shadow as well, in a way that the undead doesn’t have that mechanic. And so I think like if you were going to try to build a campaign on something, either merging the undead and the shadow mechanic or just strait up like, forget the undead, all of my, like all of my undead. How do I say this?

Tyler  1:05:19

I think you’re, I think you’re mixing up undead and zombies specifically. Like the zombie resiliency is the thing where they get back up, and only zombies have that.

Randall  1:05:26

Oh, ah, yeah, no, you’re right. You’re 100%, right. Yes, yes, yes.

Tyler  1:05:30

Zombie game. So like 99% of the undead we ran into were zombies.

Randall  1:05:35

No. 100%. Exactly. So building, building a campaign around the zombie resilience, where one of the things you’re doing is just adding zombie resilience to every character, every creature they fight, it does become incredibly boring. And I basically jettison that part of the way through because it wasn’t really going to work. So yeah, take everything I said earlier, and just replace undead with zombie resilience. It still stacks. But I think the shadow is really interesting. And so doing, you know, playing a game where you basically say, look, all of these undead things are really just shadows wearing the undead mask. I think that’s a lot cooler.

Ash  1:06:06

For sure.

Randall  1:06:08

I’m Randall James, you’ll find me at AmateurJack.com and on Twitter and Instagram @JackAmateur.

Tyler  1:06:13

I’m terrible at Kamstra you’ll find me at RPGBOT.net. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at RPGBOTDOTNET. reddit.com/r/rpgbot. I did get that wrong one wrong last week. And of course patreon.com/rpgbot.

Ash  1:06:29

And I’m Ash Ely, you can follow me on Twitter @GravenAshes.

Randall  1:06:33

If you’ve enjoyed the show, please rate and review us on Apple podcast and rate us on Spotify or your favorite podcast app. It’s a quick free way to support the podcast and helps us to reach new listeners. You can find links in the show notes. You’ll find affiliate links or source books and other materials linked in the show notes, as well as on RPGBOT.net. Following these links helps us to make the show happen every week. If your question should be the question of the week next week, please email podcast@RPGBOT.net or messages on Twitter at RPGBOTDOTNET. Please also consider supporting us on Patreon where you’ll find ad free podcast episodes, early access to RPGBOT.content, polls for future content and access to the RPGBOT.Discord. You can find us at patreon.com/rpgbot.  The Council of wizards just turned it into like a, uh…

Tyler  1:07:19

Charcuterie board.

a little behind on the transcript. Check back soon!

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