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In my previous post, the creation of magic items was addressed. Various mechanisms were looked at, from the use of the sorcery skill Enchant (Object) through to the creation of religious artefacts and relics, and spirit fetishes. This blog looks at the magic items themselves, and the impact they have in game. Significance No enchanted artefact should ever be insignificant. Every artefact carries with it the power to affect the outcome of an Adventurer's skill checks, if not the storyline of the scenario. Even if the artefact carries some sort of minor "skill buff," such as automatically augmenting a mundane CHA-based skill check such as a musical instrument which offers an enhancement to Musicianship checks, it must never be discounted or glossed over, or traded up for a more powerful artefact in the next session. Every supernatural enhancement counts. Investment Enchanted items are never two-a-penny. Every artefact probably had a significant energy investment behind it, on the part of the creator. Enchanted items rarely, if ever, look like something rolled off a mass production line. They often bear marks, or artistic stylings, which identify their creators - makers' marks. This often makes enchanted artefacts unique, identifiable, and frequently irreplaceable. Cultural Impact Each enchanted artefact is the product of somebody's culture, shaped by that culture, fashioned from materials significant to that culture, and bearing the hallmarks of, and symbols of, that culture. A Barbarian might fashion a pair of boots to allow them to travel for miles non-stop, augmenting their predilections for wandering through wildernesses. A Nomad from a riverine tribe could fashion a spirit fetish from an ocarina (see? I had to bring in ocarinas somewhere!) to whistle up fair weather or to appease hostile river spirits, Loreleis, Sirens and other predatory supernatural entities which, according to the Lore, would lurk around the more sluggish stretches of the river. A Civilised sorcerer might enchant a cap and charge it with Enhance (POW) to boost their Magic Points supply, and another might create a mask which bestows the Change Gender Gift from page 202 of Mythras to whomsoever wears it. Magic swords, axes and armour are not the only artefacts of significance to a culture. The real world historical Beaker Culture of Bronze Age Europe were characterised by the beakers with which they were buried, for instance. The Mold Gold Cape, another artefact dating back to the Bronze Age, is an artefact of huge cultural significance even to the modern day, due to the mystery of its manufacture - it is a mystery even to modern archaeologists, who still only have a general idea of how such a thing could be made, but can only guess at what tools they used. Artefacts include relics, the remains of saints, or objects which are reputed to have been in contact with someone supposedly blessed by a deity. Śarīra, for example, are pearl-like spheres which have been found among the ashes of Buddhist saints who attained Mahasamadhi (the ultimate Samadhi - death). Relics have cultural significance, since they are held to be tangible reminders that those who came before, whose lives and deaths shaped the contemporary religion, actually existed - they were real, not merely the products of storytellers' imaginations. Expectation The name of Sheffield Steel, or Clogau Gold, is a brand. There is an expectation of sublime quality to any item forged from such materials. In fantasy, a blade made from obsidian, or a cutting blade forged from meteoric iron, usually has some expected power of supreme sharpness and durability. Such blades are supposedly unbreakable, never dulling or losing their edge; or they may require the spilling of blood before they can be resheathed, once drawn. Another, more modern example was the so-called "Welsh Blade" created during The Great War, when England wanted to terrify the Germans with their deadliest weaponised force ... er, Welsh people. To add to the propaganda, Welsh infantry units were issued with "Welsh Blades," on which the words "DROS URDDAS CYMRU" were etched or stamped. The propaganda painted the Welsh as some sort of mainland British Gurkha force, armed with savagely sharp "trench swords." The main power of these items was expectation. When the hero brings out their prized enchanted item, there is an expectation that the hero will surely prevail; the magic of the artefact unleashed is expected to overwhelm anything the enemy can bring to bear against the hero and their people. This has a historical precedent going back to Roman Emperor Constantine, who conquered with a sign, the Labarum, also called a vexillum or Chi-Ro, which was emblazoned on a war banner as a symbol of Constantine's divine power. Even if, like the inscriptions on "Welsh Blades," that "divine power" was merely well-distributed propaganda spread in the enemy camps to prime the pumps. The power of expectation can extend far beyond the reach of any powers an enchanted artefact may possess. A theist could possess some item, such as a Śarīra, reputed to have belonged to a Great Soul who spread peace during her life. The theist could prominently display this relic, signalling their desire for peace to the representatives of two warring nations brought to the table to sue for an end to the war. A magic mailed gauntlet worn by a king in your setting, for instance, could be endowed with the power to heal plagues with a touch, or to cause wrongdoers to crumble into ashes. A theist could indeed embody a healing Miracle, or a sorcerer Enchant the glove with Transmogrify (to Ash) - but simple rumours, propaganda, and expectation can give an artefact a blessed, or cursed air, even if the Adventurers never get to see the artefact, or suffer its touch - though if an Adventurer does come into contact with the mailed gauntlet and survive, it could work to the advantage of the character: they were not turned to ashes, therefore they are not wrongdoers, and so on. Enchantment In the end, the nature of enchantment is as much the product of rumour, legend, and the Lore skill as it is the product of skill, craftspersonship and prowess with sorcery or other form of magic. A blade crafted by a mystic swordsmaster, whose Talent of Augment (Craft) allows them to fashion master-level blades, can be held with huge fear and respect, even if it is just mundane with a few ordinary Enhancements from the manufacturing process. A violin created by your setting's answer to Stradivarius, for example, can acquire a legend through association with stories of a devilish creature bargaining for the soul of some youngster in a contest of musical skill. It all boils down to the concept of enchantments and artefacts being desiderata - objects which spark desire in those who see them. Mythras games are about the characters, and their achievements; but the existence of enchanted artefacts and relics, their legends and histories, can weave the characters into the items' stories and legends, allowing the characters to exploit those legends in an adventure, even if those items turn out to have no discernible magic powers whatsoever, but merely an association with something legendary within the setting.
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.