Saturday, December 13, 2014

Magic Item Advice 2/3: fire-blossom blade

In part 1, I created a magic weapon called longsword of fireballs to discuss the basics of magic item construction. However, one of the main points of the article was that a sword that can cast the fireball spell is not a Superstar-quality item even though it's useful for some characters and follows the same formatting as magic items in the Core Rulebook.

In this part, I explore ways to make it less of a SiaC and SAK, and to add some badly needed pizazz and flavor to it.
  • The first thing I'll do is to make the sword a +1 flaming weapon. It adds a thematic link between fire and the weapon: a fire-based weapon ability. Also, both the fireball effect and the flaming weapon ability have fireball as a requirement, so there's another link. The price of the enchantments goes up to 8,000 gp, though, but I'll try to think of ways to make the fireball effect more affordable.
  • I also intend to make the item flavorful. The version in part 1 was really bare-bones and there's definitely room for some flavor text. If you do it well, you don't really need a lot of words to make an item flavorful.
  • The name should also be something more imaginative than just longsword of fireballs. The name of a magic item should convey two things: an idea of what the item is or does and a sense of magic that makes the reader interested in reading more. While longsword of fireballs describes the item very well, it completely fails to make the reader intrigued.
  • The biggest change, however, is to replace the fireball effect with something that isn't a SiaC (spell in a can). I'll try to make it reminiscent of fireball thematically, but make it something really different mechanically. I also don't want it to be a completely separate effect from how you usually use the sword. In other words, I want it to be a fiery explosion of sword attacks.
  • Lastly, let's add a twist. If the sword quite literally makes you explode in a slashing flurry, wouldn't it make sense that after the attacks have been resolved, you don't necessarily emerge in the same square you started from?
  • The changes above mean that I'll have to update the math as well. Will the flaming ability affect the CL? Yes, if you check out the flaming weapon ability entry in the CRB, you'll notice that the CL for that ability is 10. How do I figure out the price now that it's not a spell effect? That's more art than science, really. The formula in the CRB flies right out the window when you add an effect that is not a spell.
Here's what I came up with:
Fire-Blossom Blade
Aura moderate evocation; CL 10th
Slot none; Price 16,315 gp; Weight 4 lbs.
Both the scabbard and hilt of this +1 flaming longsword are inlaid with rubies arranged in patterns resembling blossoming flowers.

Three times per day on command, the blade causes its wielder to burst in a fiery explosion that sends gouts of flame, each shaped like the wielder, out to a 20-foot radius. As part of the action, the wielder may make a full attack action with the blade, targeting creatures caught in the burst as though they were within her melee reach. Each attack must target a different creature. The fire damage dealt by the flaming ability is increased to 2d6 for the duration of the full attack.

After the attacks are resolved, the wielder emerges in an unoccupied space of her choice within the burst, unscathed by the explosion.
Requirements Craft Magic Arms and Armor, fireball; Cost 8,315 gp
  • The name is better than it used to be, but it still needs some work.
  • There's some flavor now and the theme is tighter, but it could be tighter still.
  • The effect is no longer a spell (so no SiaC) and it has synergies with how you normally use the weapon, so it's also less of a SAK.
  • I used my "recipe" for magic items that I discussed in an article you can find here. It's easy to notice the three-part structure (appetizer, main course, dessert).

Would I recommend starting with a SiaC and then gradually turning it into a non-SiaC? Well if it works for you, sure, why not. But it's just one of many ways to create a magic item. You can start with cool flavor, then figure out the mechanics for the item. You can choose a rules element (e.g. flanking or attacks of opportunity) to explore. You can pick an item type (e.g. buckler) and try to think up an effect that feels very buckler-ey. There are indeed many ways to get started, try different approaches and see what works the best for you.

Stay tuned for the third part, in which I'll link the item's mechanics and flavor to a deity and add one last twist!

1 comment :

  1. I read a preview of Part I, but was so busy working on my potential Superstar entry that I hadn't yet read Part II (and still haven't read Part III).

    I think you've actually got a pretty cool item here, Mikko, and I'm interested to see what you do next. Adding flaming to the sword was, of course, not all that exciting, even if it was smart, but I really like the fiery burst addition. That's a nice job playing with the rules, I think and really still fits the overall theme well. Basically letting the sword user have any opponents in a 20-foot range within reach is completely unrelated to fire, but still fits the theme and plays with rules in a nice way (which is what you want to do in Superstar).

    Honestly, I think even the name is strong (and I do know your final name). I'm curious to see what you do next, because I think I'd upvote this already if I were to see it as an entry.


A Sword for Hire