Do-It-Yourself Charms and Talismans VII – Speaking of Witch

Vector drawing of the five kinds of Zener card...

There are better ways to get in touch you know!

And to continue with Brett’s suggested Talismans…

Exo Frame: gives Large size, +2 Str, -2 Dex, in use user has 1d4 subdual damage that can’t be healed while the suit is in use. -Brett

The looks like it’s basically intended to duplicate the effects of the SRD Enlarge Person spell. The effect isn’t all that out of line. After all there’s Shimmermail, which basically duplicates the Mage Armor spell all day long (although that IS one of the most powerful talismans in the book; most of the talismans that produce spell-equivalent effects suffer from serious limitations). The trouble with this one lies more in it’s form. According to the rules, the most common weight for an adult human male is 175 pounds. Going to large size multiplies that by eight, so this Talisman must weigh in at about 1225 points.

Talismans cost 12 1/2 gold pieces and a few days of work to make. I… just cant see someone with some fairly basic skills turning out a half-ton articulated exoskeleton – even if it is powered by the user’s natural magic – in three days, much less for twelve and a half gold pieces. This will require some tweaks:

(Replacement) Mighty Heart Stone (Talisman): Mounted on a suit of half-plate or full-plate armor, this potent stone channels the user’s strength and vitality into the armor itself – allowing him or her to wear armor that is one size too large. The effect is equivalent to the SRD version of Enlarge Person. Sadly, the strain of animating such a massive suit of armor with personal energies leaves the user down 2d4 points of non-lethal damage that cannot be recovered or healed as long as the armor is worn.

Now that does much the same thing, but you won’t have every farmer and laborer getting one to use to move heavy stuff (not only +2 strength but double encumbrance limits!) since the large armor is going to be pretty expensive. It’s not too much of a problem for an adventurer of course – but if an adventurer wants to be Enlarged, it’s rarely that big a problem for them anyway.

(Replacement) Ambrosial Condiments (Talisman): When this tasty sauce is sprinkled over the user’s meals, he or she will start to rapidly grow larger. Within a week, he or she will be a giant – an effect equivalent to a continuous Enlarge Person spell, save that it does not affect the user’s equipment and makes the user VERY hungry. When the user stops using the condiments, they will begin to shrink back down – but that process also requires a week, and while all bonuses are lost immediately, the penalties will remain until the ex-user is entirely back to normal size.

OK, I never could resist a classic literary reference.

Enchanted Whetstone: Gives weapon a +1 Magical Enhancement for 1 min. -Brett

This, of course, is equivalent to having this talisman cast Magic Weapon, at caster level one, whenever it’s used. If it can be used at all often a talisman just isn’t up to that. It also doesn’t say how long it takes to use; if it takes ten minutes or so it’s going to be fairly useless.

(Replacement) Masamune’ Silk (Talisman): When used to polish and hone a blade, this silken cloth smooths away imperfections and hones a bladed weapon to an unmatched edge. Sadly, the process requires great concentration and precise attunement to the spirit of the weapon. The user may only maintain one weapon (or, in deference to d20 standards, 50 arrows or similar pieces of ammunition) in this fashion at a time and switching requires de-, and re-, attuning the Talisman. Still, a weapon so maintained gains a +1 Enhancement Bonus to both attacks and damage and is considered a magic weapon.

While a Rune Weapon Talisman offers a superior effect, you can reassign this bonus overnight or hand some magic arrows out to all your friends. That seems fair enough.

Crystal Spire: A small crystal that over the course of one hour after being planted grows into a tall narrow spire that gives the attuned user and any that he grants access to a 5 mile radius telepathy field. When deployed the spire gives a telepathic buzz that can be detected by some sensitive individuals (in general any psionic creature and limited others). If detected a creature may attempt to listen into the telepathic field by making a successful opposed Will save at a -3 penalty with the owner, the owner is only aware of this contest if they win, otherwise the eavesdropper remains undetected. -Brett

I think that this is intended to create a somewhat-selective telepathic communications network that covers a five mile radius. The problem is that “selective area effect covering 78.54 square miles” just doesn’t go together well with “first level spell with 24-hour duration” or “a burst of a second level effect”. Going by the effects that can be produced with Prestidigitation – which are the weakest effects actually described in the system – would a spell that “cleans everything within a five mile radius” really fit in at first or second level?

This one just isn’t going to work as a Charm or Talisman. Even as an enchantment it’s going to be a fairly major (and very expensive) piece of work – which is probably a good thing for the game. Having every basic guard able to instantly sound the alarm, report all about the party, and call in near-perfectly coordinated reinforcements, sounds to me like a recipe for a LOT of total party kills.

(Replacement) Streamer of Consciousness (Talisman): This narrow band of gossamer ribbon comes in hundred-foot spools, and will restore itself if some is removed at a rate of (user’s Chr) feet per day. Those touching an active Streamer may communicate mentally, transferring words, images, emotions, and concepts in moments. If the user wishes, he or she may imprint a message on the Streamer and entrap it by tearing off a foot or so and tying it into a bow; whoever unties the bow will receive the psychic message even as the bit of streamer dissolves into nothingness.

Sending Stones: 1/Day message of 50 words across any distance on same plane, for 1 spell level or 2 power additional use. -Brett

It’s not too clear as to whether these simply send messages, or whether they come in pairs or sets – or whether they target places, people, or each other – but the basic idea certainly looks like the Sending Stones in the Magic Item Compendium. Those, of course, cost 1400 GP (I’ll assume they come as a pair since they’re useless otherwise) and function only per day each – sending a maximum of twenty-five words to whoever holds the other stone. They can, however, apparently reach other planes of existence – just like the Sending spell they’re based on (evidently using the clerical fourth level version). Sending normally brings back a return message, so splitting it between the two stones covers the “each sends 25 words per day” bit. Leaving your device in two vulnerable pieces – one of which must already be at the target location, and is vulnerable there is probably worth 50% off. Offering no real choice of targets on a spell that would normally let you send messages anywhere, to anyone at all… 75% off. All in all… (CL7 x SL4 x Unlimited-Use Use-Activated 2000 GP x .2 (one use per day) x .5 (two vulnerable pieces) x .25 (fixed target) = 1400 GP.

So these are using a fourth-level spell. Talismans simply are not up to fourth level spells, and certainly can’t boost one spell level worth of power to provide a fourth level spell effect.

You CAN make an item that does this; the Applied Spellcraft rules in The Practical Enchanter will allow you to make a Runic Formula coupled with a +3 Spell Amplifier at DC 50 – which can be done if you stack up enough bonuses. That would let you expend a first level spell slot to power a full-scale Sending spell. That’s more useful – but it’s simply not going to be as cheap or easy as making a Talisman. That gives us an…

Astral Mirror: The complex, delicate, inscriptions on this engraved silver disk twist off into other realms. The holder may expend one spell level worth of magical power to invoke a Sending spell effect whenever desired. Creating an Astral Mirror only requires about 50 GP worth of material – but it also requires about two weeks and a DC 50 Spellcraft check.  An Astral Mirror has no magic of it’s own, and isn’t even a Charm or Talisman – but finding someone capable of making one is rarely easy.

You can also create a rather minor relic for the purpose; You’d want Mystic Link with the Communications modifier. That has a base cost of 6 CP, but limiting it to messages of twenty-five words or less, costing 1 spell level or 2 power for each time past the first in a day, and requiring that the recipient have a special focus item… is probably enough to count as double-Specialized and Corrupted – reducing the base cost as a character power to one character point. As a relic… a 1 CP relic could sustain nine such links and the secondary foci would probably be replaceable. Call it a…

Web of Minds (1 CP Relic). Mystic Link with the Communications and Transferable upgrades (12 CP), +5 additional Links (15 CP), Double-Specialized and Corrupted/each link can only be activated once per day from each end unless the user puts in one spell levels worth of magical energy, each activation can only transmit a message of twenty-five words or less one way, only links to especially prepared focus items which count as Charms.


3 Responses

  1. […] Do-It-Yourself Charms and Talismans VII – Speaking of Witch ( […]

  2. […] =-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 […]

  3. […] 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 […]

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