Charms and Talismans of the Rings

   The Charms and Talismans from Legends of High Fantasy (available Here) and The Practical Enchanter (shareware version available Here) were designed to represent the kinds of devices found in Beowulf, the Lord of the Rings, and similar tales. Given that, I suppose it was inevitable that someone would ask how many of the items from one of their favorite tales have equivalents on the list. In this case it was The Lord of the Rings.

   So here’s a breakdown of how the various items translate

  • Moon Runes; Thorin: Either a permanent spell or some alchemical ink. Neither a Charm nor a Talisman, sorry.
  • Fireworks; Gandalf: Fireworks Pouch.
  • Magic Dwarven Toys; Bilbo’s Party: Animated Implement, Endless Stick, Enscrolled Gameboard, Origami Paper, Peacock Fan, Plush Golem, Shadow Lantern.
  • Elf/Dwarf Mail; Bilbo, Frodo, Etc: Shimmer Mail (Talisman)
  • Elvenblade/Bow/Spear; Various: Rune Weapons (Talisman). Sting, Orcrist, Glamdring, Narsil / Anduril, and Aiglos
  • Horn Of Gondur; Boromir: Resounding Horn
  • Miruvor; Legolas (Elven Cordial): Rubydraught (Talisman)
  • Morgul-Knife; Ringwraiths: Shard Blade (Black Talisman)
  • Westernesse Knife; Merry, Pippin: Blessed Blade
  • Entdraught; Merry, Pippin: “Saint’s Favor” +2 Str, +2 Con and Enlarge Person. (A “Saints Favor” is found in Legends of High Fantasy, but not in The Practical Enchanter, so I’ll put the basics here. It’s the most powerful possible Charm: it replaces a charm slot with some innate enchantments which will remain active as long as the recipient continues to enjoy the favor – or at least the indifference – of the granting power. Lesser Entities typically grant enchantments with a total value of around 5000 GP, great powers may grant totals of up to 10,000 GP. The favor continues to occupy the charm slot permanently, regardless of whether or not it is active at any given time).
  • Elfinboat; Fellowship: Warding Cartouch Helps Steer/Push)
  • Wizard’s Staff; Gandalf, Saruman: Runestave (Talisman, Legends of High Fantasy only. Basically a device that allows spellcasters to attempt to push the limits of their powers at the cost of some stress damage).
  • Lembas; Fellowship: Journeybread
  • Elvencloaks; Fellowship: Elfin Cloak
  • Phial Of Starlight; Frodo, Sam: Ray Of Hope
  • Blessed Garden Earth; Sam: Sower’s Glove
  • Orc Salve; Orcs Of Isengard: Sovereign Ointment
  • Athelas; Aragorn: QV; Hedge Magic (Basically classical magic – herbs, candles, and minor rituals with relatively small effects. Relatively cheap and easy to get in d20 universes, since – by d20 standards – it’s pretty weak. Of course, healing magic of any kind is scarce on middle-earth).
  • Elven Rope; Fellowship (Especially Sam): Elven Rope
  • Entish Glowpots; Treebeard: Lightstone
  • Lebrethron Stave; Frodo, Sam: Walking Staff
  • Elfstone; Aragorn: Use unknown. There is an Elfinstone on the Charms list, but it’s principally useful to pregnant women. Aragorn’s is probably a Wardstone or Lucky Charm.
  • Enchanted Sheath; Aragorn: Use is unknown. If it follows in the tradition of Excalibur’s sheathe, it protects against bleeding wounds, and is thus a Wardstone (the Lifestone variant).
  • House Banner; Aragorn: Great Banner (Talisman)
  • Palantir; Pippin, Aragorn, Denethor: Seeing Crystal (Talismanic Version).


Possible Wealth Levels from the Lord Of The Rings:


  • Bilbo (5/2): Initially Well-Off, later Affluent. Shimmer Mail (Talisman) and a Runeblade (Talisman). Since he was never really an “adventurer” he tended towards minimal gear.
  • Frodo (7/3): Wealthy, especially after getting backing from Elrond and Galadriel. Shimmer Mail (Talisman), Rune Blade (Talisman), Ray Of Hope (Talisman), Journeybread, ElfBoat, Elfin Cloak, Elven Rope and a Walking Staff.
  • Merry and Pippin (-/3): Common. Blessed Blades, an Entish “Saints Favor” and Journeybread.
  • Gandalf (2/5): Affluent, due to extensive backing. Runestaff (Talisman), Runeblade (Talisman), Fireworks Pouch, Journeybread, an Elfin Cloak, Endless Pipeweed Pouch (Well he never did seem to run out. This would be a minor variant on a Ditty Bag or a Luncheon Pot), and at least one unrevealed item.
  • Aragorn (2/5): Affluent, due to extensive backing. Rune Weapon (Talisman), Greater Banner (Talisman), Elfstone, Elvencloak, Elven Rope (I cannot see a ranger not taking some along), Journeybread (Ditto), and his Enchanted Sheath.

   Most of the other characters of the fellowship are considered “affluent” since they’re backed by various rulers. Since they’re mostly secondary, we never get a full listing of what they’re carrying.

   The One Ring, the various Lesser Rings, and the Mirror Of Galadriel are all Artifacts or Relics of one sort or another, and so fall outside the range of the Charm and Talisman rules.

   Sadly, d20 magic items tend to be common, blatant, and easily-replaced. Characters usually have dozens of the things draped about themselves. In fact, the system is designed for it: not only do you have “item slots” to restrain your collection – and to force you to trade out or upgrade older items – but you pretty much have to have items to face the creatures you’re supposed to at any given level. Wealth has become a measure of personal power, rather than a bit of social background.

   The Wealth Level Templates, and the Charm and Talisman rules, from The Practical Enchanter were designed to bring things back towards classical fantasy fiction, so that princes and paupers could adventure together, and so that the Game Master could run his world, and put in great treasures or leave the characters short of money, without unbalancing the game. Talents took the raw power out of items and put it back into characters – allowing Game Masters to continue to use standard source materials without piles of magic items. Charms and Talismans were designed to simulate the magical items of high fantasy – ranging from common trinkets to the dangerous tokens of black magic. Useful, but auxiliary to the character’s legends – rather than a collection of items that might as well go adventuring on their own.

One Response

  1. […] The Charms and Talismans from the same source are minor items of practical magic. Additional examples of designing Charms and Talismans can be found in this (Do-it-yourself Charms and Talismans: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, and Part VIII) series of articles – and here’s an accounting of how they’d fit into The Lord Of The Rings. […]

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