The true staple of fantasy gaming, the most exciting part of the journey, the biggest incentive to make a player do what you need them to do: magical items. 13th Age is obviously no different there, magic items exist and they’re completely awesome. Setting this game system apart in the magic items department was probably a nightmare. Thankfully the expert minds of Rob Heinsoo and Johnathan Tweet have made magic items way more interesting in a narrative sense rather than a mechanical one.
Firstly, I’d like to brush on something that doesn’t even have to do with the direct mechanics of magic items but is insanely useful information. If you’re struggling for ideas and need a good adventure hook, there’s one that ties directly into the loot itself:
“The Dwarf King has the means and the cause to hire mercenaries to represent his interests or retrieve items that the dwarves lay claim to, whether on the surface or deep underground.” Page 17 13th Age.
Ahh, the arrogance of dwarves. The Dwarf King, as an Icon, basically lays claim to all magic items. Why? Perhaps dragon sickness, sheer greed, some masterful plan waiting to be hatched or because his personal adviser says it’ll be good for the economy. Who knows? That’s entirely up to you and there’s an insane number of adventures tied to this idea that you could conjure up. My personal favorite:
“The party has stumbled on a rare and unique Wondrous Item. The Dwarf King has caught wind of it and has decided to send someone to retrieve it from you; peacefully or not.”
Some of you that don’t play 13th Age regularly or don’t own the book might be confused by the term “Wondrous Item.” It’s basically any item that isn’t a weapon, armor, a cloak etc. etc. but is still magical. The Famous one is the Dwarven Mug. It’s a magical ale mug that does something cool but has no bearing on combat or skills unless you get really creative and you’re good at crap shooting with your GM. Players like that; kudos, you guys have some talent.
Back to the hook: It’s simple and clear cut but has enough dynamic for the possible outcomes to be totally endless. The item itself could be a very central part of the story that could help/hinder the party from eliminating the pursuers, negotiating with the Dwarf Kings agents, seeking help from another Icon’s agents or whatever else they try to do. Perhaps the item is so powerful, it simply draws the attention of most creatures/people around you and soon enough, you’re hunted by everybody until you find a way to quiet this thing down. Perhaps the item has to be used for something before you’re bagged up and brought to the Dwarf King. If that does happen, how does he handle your resistance to his arrest?
In a familiar way, magic items are broken up into “Chakras,” which basically are categories. The difference here is that you’re limited to one magical item per chakra, unless it’s a Wondrous Item, you can have as many of those as you like. Now, before you get all angry and stop reading this article because that may seem like a stupid idea, just hear me out. The design choice of this seems to be narrative, not limiting. This is because all magic items are sort of sentient beings and interact with you in maybe some interesting ways. If you have too many magic items, you suffer the “quirks” of all the magic items in your arsenal. Maybe this isn’t a huge setback to most, but some people who just want the magic without being forced to role play, well, yeah. A quirk is exactly that, a peculiar habit that is brought on by the total influx of magic that’s attuned to you. “So yes, there is such a thing as ‘too much treasure.'” (Page 285, 13th Age)
While it can be fun for quirks to be used in play, it can be more of a hindrance than most would expect. If your character is always prone to abstract speculation, has a hard time taking no for an answer, exceptionally picky about their diet and peppers speech with needless foreign words, well, that could be problematic unless you’re always fighting stuff all the time. It’s not one quirk you have to worry about, it’s the combination of all the quirks you could be subjected to.
What would a fantasy setting be without cursed items? Too easy, that’s what! The book also has some examples of cursed items for all tiers of play for you to mess with the greedy player character. Not only do they have a drawback of their own, they also have quirks like any other magical item. Heh, that’s evil.
Lastly, the book encourages you to actually work out with your GM for the creation of magical items. Personally, I use ritual magic for this sort of thing mid-campaign, unless of course the PC isn’t the magic type. If that’s the case, I like to say you find an item, pick one from the book or we can create one together. That way, instead of generating loot that perhaps nobody wants, every player gets a magic item that’s tier appropriate (or not, if you like that sort of thing) that they actually value.
- The Diabolist has tainted a number of magical items and twisted them into a construct that is ravaging the Elf Queen’s lands. So far, nobody has survived contact with it to find a weakness.
- There’s supposedly a merchant in Glitterhaegen that’s giving out magic items to people she probably shouldn’t. Fighting in the streets has become a common occurrence and oddly enough, there’s been a string of heists that starting happening around the same time.
- The Orc Lord has found an old dwarven cache of magic items in lands that he had captured. There’s a band of magically armed orcs pillaging the northern realms. It seems as though they’re headed for Starport.
- Reaching Weapon – Once per battle, you can attack a nearby enemy you’re not engaged with as a melee attack. That attack deals and extra +1d6 damage (champion: +3d6; epic: +5d6). Quirk: Has a rather large personal bubble.
- Ring of Chaos – Once per day, you can swap out a spell slot for a level appropriate Chaos Mage Icon spell. Quirk: Laughs maniacally at socially inappropriate times.
- Shield of the Ancestors – (recharge 16+) When you hit with a natural 16+, as a free action, you summon a spectral ancestor to shield one nearby ally until the end of the battle. +1 AC (champion: +2; epic: +3). Quirk: Whenever possible, you will interject with a proverb of your culture and explain its history.
- Gaudy Helm – (recharge 11+) The first time you are attacked this battle, the enemy must roll a normal save. Upon failure, it is dazed, save ends. Quirk: Likes to gloat about wealth and appearance.
- Fists of the Drunken Master (Gauntlets) – When making an unarmed attack, you do 1d8 per level damage instead. If equipped on a Monk character, enemies have a 25% chance to miss you for the battle (recharge 16+, quick action to activate). Quirk: Walks with a drunken stagger, though walks normally when drunk.
- Stoneheart (Necklace) – Once per day, you can see everything that has passed by a specific stone in the past week. Quirk: Collects rocks, no matter how cumbersome.
- Box o’ Souls – Though frowned upon by most individuals who know what it is, it can be pretty useful. Once per day, you can pull a soul out of the box to set free. It is obligated to give you a nugget of information that may (or not) be relevant to the question you ask it. Quirk: The thirst for knowledge, no matter how useless, is unquenchable.
- Lucky Coin – This coin is often sought after by thieves and merchants. You’re already lucky if you get your hands on it! Once per day, something lucky happens to you. Either propose an idea to your GM or if you are the GM, take the idea and run with it. Quirk: Insatiable need to gamble at every opportunity and is rather cocky about it.
- Fork of Fulfillment – No matter what you pick up with this fork, when you eat with it, you’ll feel full. Quirk: Forgets to eat quite frequently.
Stay Metal \m/