Generational Blessings – Do-it-yourself Charms and Talismans III

Today it’s an optional world law and some more homebrew Charms…

Generational Blessings World Law:

The Eldest is always special. He or she is a living piece of history, a link to the ancestors, and a bridge to the wonders of the past. Their wisdom is deep. If this rule is in play in a setting, a dying Elder may assign his or her Charm and Talisman slots to others as specific Charm and Talisman effects – permanently blessing them. A given character can only be blessed with one Charm and one Talisman effect in this fashion, but such blessings may be handed on to future generations.

Thus Samiel, a dying elder with three Charm and two Talisman slots of his own, may elect to…

  • Bless his eldest grandson, a knight in the service of the local lord, with a Helm of War Talisman effect.
  • Bless his daughter, a weaver, with an Ironcloth Loom Talisman effect.
  • Bless his younger grandson, a caravan master, with an All-Weather Cloak Charm effect.
  • Bless his eldest granddaughter, who has small children of her own, with a Sweatstone Charm effect. For good measure he blesses her husband, a smith, with an Industrious Tool Charm effect.
  • Samiel also has two Generational Blessings of his own to pass on – a Spell Catalyst Talisman effect (Lesser Unicorns Horn, 3/Day reduces Cure Moderate Wounds to a first level spell) and a Sunstone Charm effect. He passes both of those on to his eldest great-grandson, a youthful – but somewhat adventurous – cleric who will probably find them far more useful than he did.

If you feel a need to keep this sort of thing under control – which isn’t too necessary, Charms and Talismans are pretty much self-limiting anyway – simply note that not EVERY elder gets to pass on anything beyond his or her own Generational Blessings (if any). If you don’t note that… well, most kids are likely to wind up with an inherent Charm and/or Talisman.

Hand Spinnerets: Gives webbing uses as Chitine race from Underdark and the web strand cantrip. -Brett

The Chitine ability to use webbing provides them with raw materials for making Chitine Web Armor, Traps, and Houses. It’s not listed in their racial traits, so it likely doesn’t have more direct uses. They have Craft (Trapmaking) as a racial skill, so webbing doesn’t bypass the skill requirements for traps – and there’s no note about it bypassing the usual costs. Similarly, there’s no note about it bypassing skills requirements or costs for making houses. That’s actually quite reasonable; it costs spiders lots of energy to make webs, and bees lots of energy to make wax, so that cost probably re-appears as a need for huge amounts of food.

The note on Chitine Web Armor states that “Any Chitine can equip himself with chitine web armor at no cost and maintain it indefinitely”. Whether or not this can be done for other people is not specified, although it seems likely – but Chitine Web Armor is basically leather armor with a +1 on the AC and a -1 Armor Check. Not too impressive. (Personally, if someone wanted that… I’d call it “reinforced leather” at about 15 GP instead of 10 GP).

Personal-only is pretty reasonable, but being able to provide armor for entire groups is a bit much for a Charm or Talisman. For that you want something like the Ironcloth Loom Talisman – which produces cloth that can provide a +1 AC bonus.

I’m not sure which version of “web strand” is being referred to – but the usual seems to run something like “shoots a strand of webbing up to 60′ as a ranged touch attack. The strand can be retracted, and can exert a force of up to five pounds before pulling loose”. Presuming that that’s pretty much what you had in mind…

(Replacement) Silken Favor (Charm): These simple cloth tokens grant their bearer’s clothing the properties of light armor (+3 Armor Bonus, +6 Max Dex Bonus, -1 Armor Check Penalty, 10% Arcane Spell Failure, no effect on movement). If the user wears actual armor, he or she may increase it’s maximum dexterity bonus by one and reduce it’s armor check penalty by one. A Silken Favor given to another character will remain active for up to twenty-one days, but counts against the givers charm slots until then.

So when the fair maiden hangs her handkerchief on you, it may actually mean something…

(Replacement) Spider Glove (Charm): This silk glove has a spider-in-its-web pattern woven into the cloth. It’s user may “fire” a sticky strand of webbing up to 60′ as a ranged touch attack up to once per round. The strand can be retracted, and can exert a force of up to five pounds before pulling loose.

Phantom Hands: Allows the user to use a hand range telekinetic field, requires not using hands. -Brett

This one is kind of ill-defined; how strong is the telekinetic field? Can it manipulate objects or just move them? Does it require concentration? Does it require line-of-sight, or can you “reach out and touch” the insides of things or something behind you? At it’s most basic… a charm that lets you use a version of “Mage Hand” on things within arms reach is pretty reasonable. Replacing the user’s hands is considerably harder – thus the classic Arms of the Naga, at 56,000 GP. The Practical Enchanter offers the Amulet of Hands for a mere 4000 GP – but it suffers from some serious limitations. Ergo…

(Replacement) Eye of the Mountebank (Charm): This amulet allows the user to employ a Mage Hand effect with a moments concentration – but the target must already be within arms reach. While this is occasionally useful (for example, fishing a visible item out of a drain through a grate), it also provides a +4 bonus on stage magic sleight-of-hand tricks.

(Replacement) Prosthetic (Charm or Talisman): These Charms and Talismans are individual replacements for various body parts – or supplements for failing ones. Regardless of their actual construction, they’re functionally identical to the part they’re replacing. Replacing or supplementing a limb (or any other simple structural or muscular body system, such as a hip or the heart) requires a charm, but replacing more complex organs requires a Talisman. Interestingly, such items can be further enchanted – or have items put inside them – without altering their function.

Honestly, this rarely matters in d20 – but if you want to note that the old man with the failing heart relies on a Charm to strengthen it, or that the chief of the thieves guild has a prosthetic hand (perhaps with a pop-out blade), or that the old woman with a bad hip has a charm that lets her walk normally, or even if some character wants to have one eye replaced with a functional prosthetic with a secret compartment or some such, well here you are. Allowing characters to add extra body parts is trickier – but as long as they’re basically cosmetic, a charm can certainly make you look weird. If you really must pin on a tail that you can lash back and forth, or a crest on your bald head, or some such, that works. Talismans can provide several such features – such as a costume that provides a full-body cat-person look – but adding new body parts that actually do something is generally beyond the magic of Charms and Talismans.

Imperial Seal and Ledger: Magically notarizes a document and files a copy in the matched ledger. Makes it incredibly difficult to forge alterations onto the document (@-15) and also gives a notice in the ledger if the agreement is broken. -Brett

Making a document hard to alter is relatively simple; the Greater Seal spell in The Practical Enchanter does that – but being a sixth level spell it does a lot of other things too. The simple “this document falls to dust if anyone tries to tamper with it” effect is probably only level two or so by itself, so a mere penalty is probably only level one. Unfortunately, such an effect isn’t all that useful; after all, if a given document is difficult to alter but otherwise mundane, you can simply put it to one side and forge the entire thing. (That’s one reason why the Greater Seal spell includes several other effects; that way you need some fairly formidable magic to make an entire false document). A charmed seal can quite reasonably accomplish that though.

Simply making a copy is an established level zero effect – and uses an existing Charm; Copy Paper.

It’s the “gives a notice if the agreement is broken” part that’s problematic. Even disregarding things like “letter or spirit”, delays, and similar problems of interpretation (likely requiring some sort of legalistic intelligence), how does it know? Even if the contract is magical (opening up the possibility of dispelling and antimagic) is the book monitoring it at nigh-unlimited ranges? Can you use it for legalistic divination? “I agree to not be gravely wounded”?. “I agree to remain in this dimension”?, “I agree to notify you within five minutes if I’m in serious trouble and need help”?. You could even go for “I agree to give you a gold piece as soon as Dark Lord Ralthen is ready to strike” and NOT give the person a gold piece. Contract not broken? The Dark Lord is not yet ready to strike. When it breaks, he is. Admittedly, that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek and quite blatantly abusive – but as written its perfectly valid.

(Replacement) Seal Ring (Charm): when used on a document, this seal produces an extremely detailed personalized seal, and fills the document with intricate colored patterns. Documents so sealed are difficult to forge or modify; a would-be forger suffers a -10 penalty when attempting to do so.

Mule Cords: Gives the user an enhanced Strength for encumbrance purposes, Str score is doubled with a minimum of 20. -Brett

This is another item with the “no upper limit problem”. Take a fighter with Str 22; he or she can carry 346 pounds as a medium load. This “charm” would jump that up to 7456 pounds – nearly four tons. That’s a bit much to ask of a Charm or Talisman. On the other hand, the classical rule for a proper pack read something like “reduce the total encumbrance of items in a proper pack by 50%, up to a maximum of -10 pounds”. Third edition dropped considerations of bulk and weight distribution in favor of a simple weight total (which certainly has it’s points) – but Charms and Talismans give us an easy route to bring that sort of thing back.

(Replacement) Traveling Pack (Charm): This well-designed pack or bag is nicely waterproof, comfortable to wear or carry, goes stylishly with any outfit, and has negligible weight. It reduces the effective encumbrance of whatever is packed inside by up to twenty pounds, albeit not below zero. Talismanic versions can either reduce effective encumbrance by up to forty pounds or add a convenient sorting effect, ensuring that anything the user wants to get out of the pack will be right on top – reducing getting something out to a move action. Of course settings using Charms and Talismans usually have far fewer items that you’re in a rush to get out when seconds count anyway.

(Replacement) Weight Belt (Charm): This broad leather belt increases the user’s strength by a +2 enhancement bonus for the purposes of calculating encumbrance only. Talismanic versions provide a +4 enhancement bonus.

This is still a bit dubious; attribute boosters start drifting back towards the “must have” item category instead of staying in the “interesting stuff” category – and, more importantly, are boring – but encumbrance is a relatively rare problem in most games.

Catfall Boots: Land on feet after fall and take 1 damage per 10′ fall, and DR3/- for falling only. -Brett

This is far superior to the Boots of Safe Landing in the SRD (1000 GP, land on your feet and reduce falling damage by 2d6 once per day), and is slightly better than Pathfinder’s Boots of the Cat (always land on your feet, take minimum possible falling damage, also 1000 GP). While there are plenty of ways to get Feather Fall on the cheap, a Charm or Talisman that can routinely reduce the damage a character takes by fifty or more points is rather over the top. I’m tempted to create a Paraglider Talisman, but a really effective one takes us into “YOU MUST TAKE THIS” territory again; even limited flight is just too useful.

(Replacement) Roofer’s Boots (Charm): If the wearer of these boots falls 10′ or more (so yes, they can still be tripped) he or she will always land on his or her feet, negating the first die of falling damage and converting the next two to nonlethal damage.

(Suggested) Water Shoes (Talisman): These shoes spread the wearer’s weight out over a three-foot radius; this allows easy movement over snow and mud, walking on thin ice, and even brief dashes over water – although this is equivalent to sprinting uphill as the wearer is actively supporting himself by shoving an area of water downwards with each step.

(Suggested) Windspider Pouch (Talisman): This modest pouch can hold up to fifty pounds of silk (whether in the form of a tent, an elaborate pavilion, a net, a parachute, or – for that matter – a paraglider) and can deploy or repack it at a moments notice. Unfortunately, it does not reduce the weight or cost of such an item – merely it’s bulk when carried and the time required to set it up or pack it away again. If used as an attack – such as dropping a net over someone – the target must be within fifteen feet and gets a DC 12 reflex check to avoid the “attack”.

Warrior’s Spirit: Gives seasoned status making a L0 character into a L1 character. Mostly meant as an NPC charm, frequently is the end product of whatever is the local coming of age ceremony and helps ‘push’ an adolescent or youth L0, into their adult L1 self. This boost is eventually no longer needed as the character naturally grows into their adult (L1) self at which point it provides 1d6 CP in a culturally appropriate boon. -Brett

Going from level zero to level one seems more like a job for natural growth, ritual magic, or the transforming power of “experience points” than a Charm or Talisman – and abilities that bestow extra character points tend to be very high level. Restricting the effect to level zero kids does make things a great deal easier though…

(Replacement) Whisper of the Elders (Charm, Eclipse-Specific): It is the duty of the old to pass on the wisdom of their years to the young. When attuned by an Old or Venerable character and given to a L(-1) or L0 character it provides +1 “virtual” level – although the character points and skill points for that level must be spent on things that the sponsoring character has. If the charm is retained until the user gains L0 and/or L1 naturally, the user will gain a +3 CP “Unique Training” bonus at each of the two levels. Almost uniquely the death of the “sponsor” does not cause these charms to de-attune.

And if the game master wishes to hand out an extra bonus feat at first level, this will account for it nicely.

Next time on this topic, on to the homebrew Talismans.