A Spirit Wandering: Do-It-Yourself Charms and Talismans II

English: Caption reads "Papuan charm".

Well, I say I’m charming!

And here we have some more of Brett’s Charm and Talisman ideas – and how I’d tweak them to fit them into my games.

Watchful Eye: Records the visual information in the eye’s viewing angle, can view at a 10:1 time ratio at the cost of 2 Int damage. The eye keeps the normal senses it had in life making more exotic eyes more useful for this charm – Brett.

Well, this is basically a magical camcorder, presumably capable of storing – say – three days worth of material. Nothing wrong there, although it needs some limitations noted.

(Tweaked) Watchful Eye (Charm): This preserved eye sees as well as it did in life (including any special visual powers, making exotic eyes more effective), recording up to three days worth of observations for it’s owner to replay in a few moments the next time he/she touches it – albeit at the cost of one point of intelligence damage per day of impressions or part thereof. Sadly, the basic charm is a simple recorder; it cannot change focus or direct it’s attention, making the clear field of view rather limited. Talismanic Eyes remain “in touch” with their users at up to medium range. Within that range the user may access the eye’s current view without taking intelligence damage, change the focus, and direct it as if it was his or her own eye. If worn, such a talisman can easily compensate for blindness.

Forge’s Flame (Charm): A permanent heat source that can be used for forging etc. It’s essentially an altered version of more conventional and safe charms, but has a much hotter heat and allows for forging and other high temperature uses – Brett.

This is essentially a scaled-up version of the Firebox Charm – and a substantially more potent one; a fire hot enough for high-temperature work normally requires some sort of forced draft and considerably more fuel for it’s size. Ergo a very small-scale version sounds like a Charm, larger ones will be Talismans. For example…

(Replacement) Earthfire Stone (Charm): This bit of volcanic rock recalls the fires of its birth, and can call them forth once more when it’s user wills. Earthfire Stones are normally mounted on short metal rods to avoid scorching the user’s fingers; their flames are small (1d2 points of damage if used as a weapon), but are hot enough to weld metal, sear letters into wood, melt locks, and accomplish similar small tasks. Used as a light they’re equivalent to a candle, albeit an inextinguishable one; an Earthfire Stone will burn even underwater or in airless conditions.

(Replacement) Starfire Cauldron (Talisman): When first opened this covered kettle seems to be filled with darkness. If there is any light at all in the area it will soon fill with burning light, capable of heating metal or other materials dipped within it to their ideal working temperatures and offering a +3 bonus on relevant rolls. Contact with the burning light is equivalent to contact with magma, with an additional +2d6 damage against undead.

So yes, if you can shove that vampires head into your forge, he’s not going to be happy about it. Of course, few non-fire creatures are happy about being stuffed into any kind of forge.

Bonsai Gloves: Shapes a plant into a shape that the user defines, allows plants to grow items without being destroyed during harvesting. Frequently used by Elves to cause trees to use wood items without destroying trees – Brett.

Given that simply making plants grow into odd shapes takes too long to worry about, I’d say that this resembles the Glasscraft Gloves Talisman. While this doesn’t have supply heat to smelt sand, reshaping plants is tricker than shaping glass if you want them to live. Still, wood and plant fiber is easier to work with than glass – so making it a charm just means having to work slowly. Ergo…

(Tweaked) Bonsai Glove (Charm): The user may slowly remold unresisting living plants, shaping them into various forms. The area affected must be within two feet of the glove, the resulting form must be sustainable for the plant, and the process requires five minutes per cubic foot of material affected. Still, any necessary rolls receive a +4 bonus. If given a few hours the user may easily shift branches and stems to open paths through overgrown areas, shape roots into comfortable garden seats, make treehouses, and so on.

Dark Bauble: Gives an alchemical darkness radius of 20′ – Brett

Well, the “No Light” cantrip from the Book of Vile Darkness does make it darker in the area – and is a natural enough counterpart to “Light”. It’s a specific effect, and well within the general power level of a Charm.

(Replacement) Mists of Shadow (Charm): The subtle mist wafting from this small sachet dims common sources of light within a 20′ radius. While daylight or magical light overwhelms the effect, areas illuminated by torches, lanterns, fires, and similar light sources are reduced to a shadowy twilight, granting those in the area a 20% miss chance due to concealment. Creatures with Darkvision, or other relevant special senses, are not affected by the Mists of Shadow.

Presto Stick: Gives use of prestidigitation effects at will and/or with 1 min charge up greater prestidigitation effects. – Brett

While the vision of a crowd of street children ganging up to inflict massive penalties on the local evil overlord is amusing, this is sort of out of place for a Charm or Talisman. After all, they normally have quite specific effects – and the few that can directly affect other people (Sands of Time, Glittering Disk, Phylactery of Whispering Shadows, Ring of Mist) generally only build up enough power to do so a few times per day. The ones that have variable effects (notably Dust of Illusion, Fireworks Pouch, Diplomats Sash, and Ditty Bag) are all limited-use – and while their exact results are shaped by the user’s will, the first three are themed illusion generators while the Ditty Bag simply conjures the small, cheap, and unimportant item that you’re fishing around for. Charms and Talismans really are simple, crude, and only indirectly tied to their user’s mind.

That’s not to say that you can’t do it – but lacking the power and discipline of an actual spell, the effects are likely to be a little unreliable. In terms of the game, that’s probably a good thing; universal tools take a lot of the fun out of figuring out how to do things.

(Replacement) Tricksters Eye (Charm): Worn on the brow, this glittering gem serves as a psychic amplifier – bringing the user’s thoughts into manifestation. The user may perform (Int) minor tricks (at the level of Prestidigitation effects) per day, or expend three such tricks to use a Greater Prestidigitation effect. If it matters, the caster level is equal to the user’s level, saves are based the user’s Charisma, the effects are psychic rather than magic – and the user may explicitly use the list of “Prestidigitation” effects from Tome and Blood or from The Practical Enchanter when using Greater Prestidigitation effects. Unfortunately, the user’s random hopes, fears, and passing fancies are similarly amplified, creating up to three basic and one greater unwanted – or even “hostile” – spontaneous effects per day. It can be quite annoying to worry about whether or not you’ll be seen and suddenly have your dark cloak turn bright orange.

Vassal Stone: Gives a vessel for an allied spirit to inhabit and tie with upon death or after being summoned, this can vary in effect from being a repose effect if the stone (and thus spirit) is kept near the body, to being cheaper to resurrect by having the soul present and available, to being able to manifest as a spirit near the stone if supplied with some power/spell level/mana. This allows the user to maintain contact with willing spirits only. Added effects are sometimes used to give the inhabiting spirit a construct, animal or undead body, unseen servant etc. – Brett

This one gets into d20 metaphysics. Those are definitely open to debate however…

As a general rule, keeping the spirit near the body won’t keep if from decaying. After all, rot (usually called gangrene) can set in while someone’s still alive. For this, you might want a…

(Replacement) Hunter’s Cache (Charm): This simple oilcloth sheet greatly retards the decay of whatever is wrapped within it; vegetables, meats, and similar perishable materials wrapped in the sheet will remain entirely fresh for the first week, and age only one day per additional week that passes. Talismanic versions increase the time interval to months.

Unfortunately, the Monster Summoning spellstell us that a mere first level spell is capable of reaching into the outer planes, summoning a creature therefrom, binding it to obedience, and constructing a temporary body for it. Unless the game is using variant rules, keeping the spirit nearby probably won’t reduce the level of spell required to raise the dead very much.

An anchor for summoned – or dying – creatures is certainly possible though.

(Replacement) Spirit Anchor (Charm): A Spirit Anchor allows the user to extend the length of time that a nearby spirit may remain on the material plane. While the terrible pull of the outer planes will overwhelm the magic of a mere Charm in short order – in a mere three rounds in fact – a few clear seconds, free of pain and the limitations of a failing body, in which to say goodbye may be precious to a dying elder. For a summoner, a Spirit Anchor can sometimes make the difference – particularly if he or she is unable to hold spirits for very long as of yet. For any adventurer… allowing a comrades spirit to remain for a few rounds past the point where they would normally die may save their life. A Spirit Anchor may be activated without cost once per day; activating it again after that requires the expenditure of hit points – 1d4 for the second time within a day, 2d4 for the third, 3d4 for the fourth, and so on.

(Replacement) Spirit Voice (Talisman): This simple pendant must be attuned by someone on the Prime Material Plane – but thereafter it can serve as an anchor for a psychic link to a spirit on the outer planes. The link may be set up through a seance or similar ritual, but the spirit involved may refuse to accept the link or drop it at any time if they do accept it. Such a spirit may channel minor psychic powers over the link as usual, as well as “whispering” over it. It is wise to be very sure of a spirits motives before listening to it’s advice however.

Other abilities might be used to place an animated a body under the spirits control, to allow it to manifest directly, or to do a variety of other things – but, in general, such activities are beyond what can be done with Charms and Talismans; you’ll have to use actual spells, enchantments, and powers for that sort of thing.

At least in most of my games spirits quite often maintain links with the prime material for some time after physical death – commonly with their old bodies, place of death, place of birth, relatives, various personal items, whatever killed them, and to anything to which they were magically bonded. Most of them can’t actually do much of anything with such links however, otherwise you’d be tripping over a spirit every time you turned around. There are some, however, who have enough psychic / psionic talent to maintain some awareness of what’s going on around their link-foci and enough interest to actually do it. A few who can actually channel a bit of psychic power over those links – and in rare cases especially-dedicated types (often called “Saints”) are devoted enough to tap into the energies of the outer planes and channel those forces over their personal links to the prime material – allowing them to produce a variety of effects around their foci.

  • If they remain linked with their old body (easiest) we find spooky-feeling or haunted tombs and graves, illusory apparitions, telekinetically-animated bodies, and even classical medieval “relics” – where a “saint” (whether of good, evil, law, chaos, or whatever) channels power through bits and pieces of their old body.
  • If they remain linked with with people they have emotional bonds with (harder, but very common) then you get dream-visitations and – depending on how they feel about the person and the extent of their powers – either guardian spirits or malevolent spooks.
  • If they remain linked with personal items (uncommon, but some people do get very attached to things) then they can exert their psychic abilities through the item – and possibly guide it’s current user. This leads to things like haunted swords, where the spirit may guide your use of it if it likes you – or hinder it if it does not. Even weaker spirits are readily contacted via such links – often allowing even the most untalented mediums to succeed (or be possessed). It’s wise to make sure that any linked items that you happen to be carrying about are linked to spirits who like you.
  • If they remain linked with particular places (common enough, but rarely of any importance) powerful spirits may generate poltergeists, apparitions, and visions if the spirit is powerful enough for that. Otherwise sensitive people might sometimes get the feeling of a presence, or that they’re being watched, but it really won’t matter much.

2 Responses

  1. […] =-it-yourself Charms and Talismans: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, and Part VIII. Exotic proposals for more Charms and […]

  2. […] 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 […]

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