Thursday, September 18, 2014

D&D / OSR: Djara's Artifacts

Along time ago, around the Time of Troubles, there lived an adventurer whose famed explorations were told and retold so many times over the years that it is no longer clear what is fact and what is fiction. The tales of Djara the Adventurer have only grown in hyperbole as they have in popularity. Her legend has become treasured by the peoples of the South
and has overshadowed any real accomplishments she may have actually achieved in life.

There is even debate about her profession. Some literary works claim she was a Ranger of great renown while other histories read that she was a wondrous Bard who could spin a tale that would impress even the most jaded audience. This may explain why her legend has grown so, while other more accomplished adventurers have faded into obscurity.

It is thought that she was from Amn, or perhaps Tethyr or Calimsham, but several sources have cited her origin as from the far-off lands of Maztica, coming only to Amn at the beginning of her explorations.

What is known for certain, is that she had 3 powerful artifacts at her disposal, without which many a journey would likely have come to an unfortunate end.

[Note: The game mechanics in this article are presented in fashion of D&D 5th Edition, but can easily be converted to any version of OSR or D&D-inspired games.]

Djara's Pack

Djara's pack was the most powerful of her magic items, but also one of the most fickle. It is said that at Djara’s will, this backpack could produce items of many sizes that could not possibly fit within it confines. It’s peculiarity was in the way it produced those items.

To invoke, the artifact, one must loudly pronounce, “Backpack, Backpack - I need to…” stating the reason for the item required. Example: “cross the river”, “climb down the chasm”, “open the lock”... etc.

For the user who invokes the pack, it produces several (1d4 + 3) items (or occasionally item sets that go together in use, such as a small boat with oars) that may be useful in the invoker’s current situation. If the backpack is invoked during combat, it will produce 1 item per round, potentially taking as many as 6 rounds to complete its magics.

Of the items produced by the pack, approximately 50% of them will have little value or utility to the current situation (such as a mask and snorkel while traveling in the desert). It is up to invoker to select a single item/set brought forth from the pack, at which point, all the other items are forcefully pulled back into the pack by its powerful magic.

Any who try to keep more than the 1 selected item meets a mysterious end as they too are pulled into the backpack along with the item to never be seen again. There are some tales that report a red tongue would visibly “lick” the opening and exclaim “¡Delicioso!”

The one remaining item may be kept by the the invoker. However, each time an item is not returned to the pack within 24 hours once removed, there in a 20% chance the pack’s magic is weakened and will produce 1 less item per invocation. It is rumored that the only way to reverse this damage is to “feed” a magic item to the pack (a rod, staff or wand with at least 5 charges, or magic weapon or armor with a permanent enchantment or other minor magic item at the DM’s discretion).

With each invocation, there is a 10% chance that a minor magical item will be produced by the pack. Keeping this magic item will automatically result in the pack’s loss of potency noted above.

Because the nature of the items produced is very random, a user of the pack may pre-load the artifact for the future with items that they feel would be useful in various situations. The capacity of the pack is not known.

When the user invokes the pack looking for an item that they have pre-loaded, the pack will almost always present that item along with the others assuming it is useful to the situation. The invoker is free to select a different item that may be more useful.

There have been similar stories of a magic chest that follows its owner on hundreds of little legs, but these items seem to be two very different and distinct artifacts.

[table of random pack objects still in development - feel free to suggest some]

Djara's Map

While not as powerful as Djara’s pack, the map is no less impressive in its operation. When the user invokes the map ("Who do we ask when we don't know which way to go?"), a rough sketch appears on the map identifying 3 or 4 (1d2 + 2) landmarks along the route for the user to follow to arrive at the destination.

The challenge for users of the map is that it is not a detailed map drawn to scale, but is more like a treasure map that shows an image of each landmark and direction to be traveled. At the DM’s discretion, skill checks may still be required to identify the exact route (especially in unfamiliar territory), but the map will provide Advantage to such checks.

The map has its own peculiar magic that borders on a curse as a party that finds each of the landmarks along the route is almost certain to have an encounter or other obstacle to overcome at each of the identified locations in order to continue the journey.

Boots’ Boots of Climbing and Springing

The 3rd artifacts was not actually used by Djara, but worn by her long-time companion. His true name is lost to time as he became known simply as “Boots” because he rarely removed the red leather enchanted (possibly cursed) footwear.

It is believed “Boots” was originally a Halfling (or possibly a Gnome), but was slowly transformed by the artifact into a Howler Monkey. However, there are some conflicting sources which claim that he was actually a Druid whose preferred animal form was that of a large simian. In either case, Boots appears in almost all of Djara’s tales as a large monkey wearing red leather footwear.

The boots provide the wearer with Advantage on Dexterity saves as well as on any Acrobatics checks or Athletics checks related to climbing or jumping. Additionally,the PC may use the Dexterity attribute bonus instead of Strength when making an Athletics check related to climbing or jumping. The boots give no bonus for other Athletics checks (such as swimming or running). It is unknown whether the boots were the source of Boots’ transformation. However, when used in animal form, the boots are not subsumed by a Druid’s or Wizard’s magical transformation powers and will appear as red leather boots on the feet even on a magically transformed animal form.

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