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With this article, we begin a look at the artefacts of magic, and their influence on the cultures of the settings of Mythras. The Core Rulebook places the emphasis on the player characters, their native wit and their acquired magical powers or connections to the spirits and/or gods, rather than on magic items and enchanted treasures. Enchantments Enchantment is defined as a feeling of great pleasure or delight, as well as the state of being under a spell or magic. This blog could focus on the second definition, since this blog covers the items used by Adventurers during their escapades; but it would be a good idea to begin by looking at how the first definition can also be relevant to this topic. Enchantment as in "a state of great pleasure" can easily come from being under the effects of mundane hypnosis as much as anything else. To be enchanted by something, or someone, is to be placed in an altered state by the mere presence of the person or object. When you are enchanted, the proximity of the object or person increases the levels of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin neurotransmitters in your body. Your attention focuses on the cause of that heightened awareness. The more you focus, the deeper you go, the more pronounced the effects, and the more the heightened presence of phenylethylamine makes you feel like swooning. And that overall feeling and focus increases tenfold when you realise, or are told, that you are the proud owner of such an object, or that the person seeks your time. The object which captures your attention, the person who seems to narrow the world down to just you and them, is a desideratum. This desideratum controls your perceptions, for as long as you remain so deeply enchanted, and your whole perceptions feel so good that the world even glows a little around the desired object or charming person. Come back in the room, a little, and let yourself imagine how that feels in the context of your Adventurers and their lives. Enchant (Object) This is the only enchantment-type spell in the Mythras Core Rulebook. As far as the Core Rulebook is concerned, this is the only means by which one can create magic items for Mythras. Of course, what makes it daunting is the heavy price one has to pay for this spell. A spell which is to be made perpetual must be Combined with the casting of Enchant. In addition, it is limited to possessing only as many points of shaping as the Intensity of the Enchant. The strain of creating the enchantment permanently reduces the sorcerer’s Magic Points attribute by the magic point cost of the combined spell. These can be recovered later if the enchantment is unwoven by the original caster or the object (or person) is destroyed. Even a POW 18 human can, therefore, only create a handful of magic items with this spell before they find themselves unable to generate Magic Points. The career of the professional Enchanter would seem to be a short one. The reason for this restriction would seem to be to limit the number of actual magic items available within the game, as well as to keep them as low key as possible. The Adventurers are forced, by this restriction, to rely upon their own native wits, talents, magic, and connections - both mundane and Numinous - to resolve the conflicts in the adventures they undertake. Actual magic items are rare, and never outshine their wielders. Adventurers must, accordingly, pay a heavy price for their Magic Swords of Damage Enhancement and Bypass Armour, or their Shields of Damage Resistance and Castback. There can only be one natural conclusion to reach: Enchant (Object) cannot be the only way to imbue artefacts with magical power. Methods of Creation Consider how many other magical items in the Mythras Core Rulebook seem to have achieved sustained magical power. The kinds of magical artefacts which are bestowed on favoured faction members in the form of Gifts, and the plethora of spirit fetishes created by animists, would indicate that there are other ways to create enchanted items. That could include theistic religious items, which could be charged with the theists' Devotional Magic Points. The Folk Magic Curse spell acts in a similar way to Enchant (Object), in that the caster's Magic Point capacity is reduced for as long as the curse is kept active. This opens a precedent for other, as-yet undiscovered, Folk Magic spells to sustain themselves on the caster's lifeforce. The following are suggestions for alternative ways for a sufficiently-motivated enchanter to create enchanted items. None of these are at all canon, but a Games Master can use these creation paths as dictated by the needs of the plot, or for the purposes of the campaign. Sacrifice A sacrifice must be made, in order to provide sufficient energies to create a permanent change within the artefact. This could be a simple burning of organic matter such as a quantity of grain, a piece of meat, a quantity of fruits, or a liquid such as milk. The amount burned is the equivalent in Silver Pieces of 2d4 x the Magic Points one would sacrifice, otherwise. An alternative to persistent Magic Point loss would be persistent fatigue. The enchanter could sustain a long-term, persistent fatigue level lasting for 1d4 days after the final creation of the artefact. An enchanter with a heavy workload could be rendered exhausted for days after all that creation, or they could space out their enchantments to around one session per week. There are other kinds of sacrifices one could make, such as applying a reverse Tap (Characteristic) to reduce one's characteristics to create the artefact, or sacrificing Experience Rolls equal to the Intensity of the enchantment. This is similar to the Experience Roll sacrifice made by an animist to create the housing for a spirit fetish (Mythras, page 136). Harnmaster Rules The Harnmaster roleplaying game uses a different fatigue mechanic, and furthermore it does not use Magic Points. Harnmaster even has a different way of creating artefacts, dividing them into two categories - Minor Artefacts, and Major Artefacts. Minor Artefacts only retain one ability, such as the "Fount of Power" spell which is the equivalent of Mythras' "Store Mana" spell. Major Artefacts require a spell called a "False Soul" (basically, this turns the artefact into a programmable "device") to hold the other component powers together (such as "Fount of Power" and "Resurge", which recharges "Fount of Power" without intervention from the item's wielder). The one rule which all artefacts, Minor and Major, have in common, is this:- the Duration of these artefact enchantments is always Indefinite (self-sustaining, but can be permanently dispelled) if they are cast over an artefact which has already been created. However, if the enchantment is cast over the artefact as it is being grown or made from scratch, the enchantment's Duration is Permanent - the artefact's powers cannot be dispelled, only temporarily suppressed. The process of creating permanent artefacts, therefore, takes as long as the artefect does to be created, which is a minimum of something like [15 - Intensity] hours, or some multiple of [15 - Intensity]. Or the Games Master could abstract the process, using the Equipment Manufacturing and Quality rules from page 65 of Mythras Core Rulebook, taking double the time to create a regular item of the same type. There is another set of rules one can use - available from Old Bones Publishing here. Again, if the enchanter takes double the time to create the artefact, and enchants it as it is being built or grown, any enchantments so created will have Permanent Duration. Unique Materials This is the whole "eight pounds of dragon scales," "the seeds of a rare flower which grows in the Elpathian Mountains," "a single ruby worth 4,000 Gold Pieces" territory. The acquisition of such rare or expensive materials or fabrics, of course, forms the focus of an entire story, possibly spread over multiple sessions. It might be easier to obtain a measure of ordinary frankincense worth ten thousand Silver Pieces, for example, by travelling to the place where it is made, and haggling for the goods. Holy Devotion Religious artefacts can be created through acts of Devotion. Theists with sufficient motivation can Consecrate an artefact and make it sacred to the deity. The Games Master can even rule that they do not even require the Consecrate spell - merely a passionate Herculean Exhort skill check and expenditure of Devotional Magic Points into the item. Some religious artefacts might not even need consecration. Holy relics, particularly body parts of dead high-Devotion saints, could have their own internal, regenerating store of Devotional Magic Points, not usable by the theist but only usable for the relic's Miracles. The Enchantment Effect - Wonders The process of creating the artefacts, relics, and fetishes is only part of the story of enchanted items. In the next post, the blog will focus on the artefacts' effects on the Adventurers and their loved ones, on the campaign, and on the game setting.
[Cover image is from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/Atelier_von_Rahmenmachern_und_deren_Werkzeuge_im_18._Jahrhundert.jpg] One of the more overlooked issues about Mythras adventuring is what equipment the Adventurers are carrying while out on a campaign. The basic tool lists on pages 60, 61 of Mythras and page 88 of Fioracitta are good guidelines as to what one could expect to take on an adventure, but there is still a need to plan in advance for the adventure. The equipment an Adventurer would be expected to carry depends on the environment, and on the nature of the adventure. This article's purpose is to get the Games Master and Players to think about the logistics of adventuring, and to provide a sense of immersion as the Players enter into the Adventurers' spirit, as they trek through the countryside on their adventures. Standard Armour and Weapons Just to make things easier for each Adventurer, have the players choose their primary melee weapon (e.g. staff, sword, rapier, axe, hammer), secondary melee weapon (e.g. club, dagger, hand axe), and one ranged weapon if their Combat Style includes it (e.g. dagger, bow, crossbow). No more than those three weapons. Those are included in their kit. It is also a good idea to have every Adventurer wear the same type of armour, such as a 2AP Quilted / Padded armour. Each piece is made separately, and put on once they reach the destination. Each such suit provides the same AP protection to all Hit Locations, costs about the same, and has a standard ENC load. Pack Each Adventurer needs the following, for adventures which require travel. Backpack Bedroll Flint and Tinder / firemaking kit Knife (cutting tool, not a weapon) Lantern, basic Lock picks Mirror (hand glass) Mug/Beaker/Dish/Plate (wood or ceramic – double price for metal) Oil flask Razor, folding Rope (hemp), 10m Waterskin or Canteen (holds 2 litres of liquid) Rations - Feeding The Party Every adventuring party is going to have to carry food, particularly if they are travelling cross-country and in environments where foraging is expected to be poor. It is generally accepted that 1 kg of trail rations (biscuits, dried vegetables, cured meat) will sustain someone for two days. With the Preserve Folk Magic cantrip, that food can be kept practically indefinitely if some form of attempt at preservation is made (and yes, carefully wrapping them up in greaseproof paper counts). Here is where Survival and Locale skills become essential, naturally - but Craft (Cooking) is also overlooked.All of the above basically amounts to the bare minimum kit needed of an adventuring party in the wilderness. The rations should last for one to two weeks before running out; supplemented by forage, they could last for a month's travel. That presumes that the Adventurers will be hiking on foot to their destination. There is a listing for feed for one's mounts listed on the table on page 60, but assume that beasts of burden are going to need to eat a lot more than one kilogram of hay per day - again, they would need to find something to graze. Toolkits Adventurers may require specialised toolkits to perform their work, not counting weapons. Many of the items in the table on pages 60 and 61 of Mythras presume that each Adventurer may wish to bring along their favourite trade tools, if those tools are relevant to the situation. An actor's elaborate theatrical kit, with wardrobe, might weigh several hundred ENC and be impossible to move around - but a small stack of basic cosmetics, enough for one attempt at Disguise, might only weigh 2 ENC at most. The basic list on pages 60 and 61 is only a rough guide. Articles such as a chess or backgammon set (1 ENC, 10 - 1000 SP), burglary kit (grappling hook, crowbar, lockpicks - 1 ENC total) and so on should never encumber the characters. Every character should have some small, lightweight travel version of their primary work tools. Never more than about 10 ENC. Preferably no more than 5 ENC. A burglary specialist's toolkit is very different to a journalist's writing kit. Urban Adventuring Urban adventuring may require Adventurers to dispense with much of the equipment they take for granted out in the wild. Nobody needs to carry forage around in the city; and nobody needs to carry around a bedroll (or their weapons, in general). It would be awkward indeed for Adventurers to attend an upper class soiree in the cultured section of the city, dressed in full armour and carrying a full armoury of weapons and adventuring kit. While in the city, less is decidedly more. How can the characters get away with carrying along full kit? Work Of course the Adventurers can carry their heavy tools around, if they have to carry their own work tools to and from the job. Training The Adventurers could sign up as trainers, and go off on wilderness drill training to teach members of the public the basics of Locale, Survival, and Track. Rescue Force Adventurers could convince people of their advanced understanding of the locality (Locale skill), enough for them to form an amateur rescue group whose job is to patrol regularly, looking for people who get lost in the wilds. Deputised The local law can give the Adventurers a badge of office, then order them to go on patrol around the perimeter of their city and its condato, looking for brigands, providing protection detail to passing caravans, and so on. Signing Up The Adventurers could even join the militia, or at least sign up for their regular public drills. Some towns and cities require all able adults to attend at least some sort of mandatory training to defend the city in the event of an invasion. Their adventures could happen to them while they are on their way home from a training session - or while en route to training. Inspiration The above should provide some measure of inspiration to players. The journey to a destination can be made as memorable as the adventure itself, providing scenes which allow for dialogues between Adventurers, minor problems for the party to solve together, and all the experiences (and Experience Rolls) of surviving in the rough. And back home, the players should never feel that their characters are underequipped if all that they have on them is the clothes on their back, and maybe a single dagger or concealed weapon hidden somewhere on their person.
The word "adventure" comes from Middle English: from Old French aventure (noun), aventurer (verb), based on Latin adventurus ‘about to happen’, from advenire ‘arrive’. It concerns things happening. Drama. Conflict. As any great screenwriter, playwright and storyteller will tell you, there are a lot of ways to stage and set a drama - many different sources of conflict. Let's look at some sources of drama. 90% of all drama and conflict is going to come from persons. The rest is environmental drama - floods, fires, wars, diseases, rioting, earthquakes, volcanoes, molasses tsunamis, and on and on. In other words, disasters. So the drama and conflicts which come from a person can be powerful things to overcome. Let's look at a few core elements which drive bad guys. Vanity: Arrogance; haughtiness; overconfidence; ambition; murder to prove a point; killing for oneupmanship; brinksmanship; and karening - calling in the law to harass innocents. Greed: Avarice; miserliness; corruption; offering bribes; accepting bribes; loss of touch with reality; Marie Antoinette "Let them eat cake" (even though she never said it, the image is still used as a valid lesson); valuing things over people; social inequality. Envy: Betrayal, after becoming a friend; murder; inferiority complex; poisoning the well; gossiping and smearing. Hatred: Bigotry; self-denial; mass murder; nationalism. Desire: An emotion almost never covered in roleplaying games. Lust; longing; stalking; obsession; crossing lines; ignoring boundaries. Fear: The enemy fears the protagonists, and will do everything in their power to detroy them. If the antagonist is powerful, this cam be a problem for the characters - but remember that the enemy fears them? This means that the enemy is aware of their vulnerability - and fears that the characters can exploit that vulnerability, or flat-out destroy the antagonist ... if the protagonists can work out what that vulnerability is, in time. Adventures begin when the player characters recognise the drama unfolding - the greedy tycoon sliding his grossly incompetent nephew into a position of authority with power over the player characters, or the group's "best friend" turning out to be someone who hates them after all, and has been feeding crucial intel to the bad guys all along - and do something about it. Their plans can go awry - their plan of directly assaulting the stronghold of the bad guy who's been smearing their name is thwarted by a bunch of laws, and a whole lot of guards - and they may be forced to adopt new plans, reject them, and come up with even more plans; but it's the act of trying to figure things out, and trying to come up with solutions, and thinking up strategies other than combat, which make an adventure. Moreover, the act of thinking on their feet, the uncertainty that they might fail and face worse than being reduced to zero hit points, is what makes adventures memorable. Opinion: I don't think you can ever find anything memorable about hack'n'slash dungeoneering without having a broader context for it. It's like eating mashed potato without salt or butter.