Sunday, June 23, 2013

Boy Adventurer: Birthday Objects, and the Halfway Nothings

The Boy's birthday was this weekend, so today's post is an amalgamation of things related to his adventures.

I asked the crew on G+ to supply suggestions of "imaginary birthday gifts" for the Boy in the form of things that could be used as treasures, macguffins, adventure seeds, and the like.  They were pretty much all objects, and I've compiled them here as a random table.  At the moment, there are 34 entries.  Huge thanks to everybody who kicked in these great ideas!

1 - a magic fur coat that grants the wearer the ability to turn into an otter

2 - a tiny silver key which unlocks the stone heart of the Mountain Hag

3 - a very small and mild-mannered fire-breathing dragon

4 - a small, pocket-sized stone statue of a giraffe; a command phrase transforms it into a full-sized giraffe. Lacks an instruction manual.

5 - a voluminous cloak of neverending colors, including colors not normally seen in the rainbow (octarine, or ulfire, or whatever suits)

6 - a carton of shapeable fungus

7 - three coins which can only be used to pay the ferryman on the river Styx; one to cross over into the netherworld, and two more so you can bring someone back...

8 - a marble that always rolls south.

9 - seeds of the nimbus kingdom; when planted, the seeds sprout into a massive tree which can be climbed to gain access to the Land of the Rain Giants.

10 - a handful of detailed miniature buildings which, if placed on the ground in the proper layout, transform into a full-sized village until the next full moon.

11 - elephant’s-foot necklace - the wearer can cast ‘knock’, but only in a downward direction with a great stomp; following use, the the pendant is extremely lightweight (perhaps lighter than air even) for an hour.

12 - a pair of communication journals. Anything written in one shows up in the other, even when separated by many miles.

13 - a bottle holding an oracular dream. Drink it and when you wake you will know the answer to any one question. Can be refilled if placed in the mouth of a sleeping god for a full hour.

14 - cufflinks of thunder; clap them together once a week and thunder crashes nearby, seeming to threaten an oncoming storm.

15 - small talisman bearing the image of a badger on one side. When worn with the badger facing out, the wearer may rage once per day, becoming an avatar of badgery violence. If worn with the badger facing inward, the wearer becomes dispassionate and apathetic.

16 - coin of the goblinfolk; a magical coin that if tossed in the air before battle will give you a random +1 (heads) or a -1 (tails) once, it turns to wood after one use

17 - Buddy Bracelet - When found, this piece of jewelry has four little colored spheres on it that are adorned with smiley faces. If tapped by someone who considers the owner a true friend, their facial features will super-impose itself on one of the spheres, replacing the smiley face. From then on out, if that sphere is squeezed and a message is uttered, it will send a psychic call to that friend along with the message. Once a month, it can teleport one of the friends represented on the bracelet to the wearer, as long as they are willing to come.

18 - The four following magic words :"HAPI HURA HARU HARUMPA" that when uttered turn all things in earshot into their true form.

19 - a golden cap which summons winged monkeys, up to three times, a la Wizard of Oz.

20 - amazing candy coins: a foil-wrapped candy disc that wondrously extends to 10' if you lick the correct side. Flavors include lemongrass, rhubarb, ginseng, peppermint, horehound, licorice, and cinnamon.

21 - indefatigable broom: when commanded to sweep, this broom begins to clean, and does not cease for seven days. During this time, it will stop at nothing to tidy, clean, and brush up. Damaging the animated broom causes another identical broom to appear and clean. One year and one day must pass before the broom responds to the the command again.

22 - bag of "nuts" : strange, orange, marshmallow candies that grow to human size and cause havoc when doused with ale.

23 - bag of animal crackers : six small treats that can be used to conjure cookie constructs that behave as a circus animal. Simply eat, and then regurgitate the magical animal in question.

24 - snow globe: shake n' break to release a blizzard that lasts for a day and a night! Scene inside globe reveals the immediate surroundings in caricature.

25 - Bag o' Jerky: Any creature (living or dead) that can fit into the bag is transformed into 1d4 pieces of tasty jerky. When consumed, roll on AD&D DMG potion table to determine jerky effects. If two pieces are eaten on the same day, use the potion miscibility table. 

26 - Atlantean Skull Cap: Jeweled headpiece fashioned from the skull of the last Atlantean. Allows wearer to access and cast one randomly determined spell per day (wearer knows what the spell is). Each time the power is used there is a 3% chance (non-cumulative) of a invoking a Great Deluge.

27 - Harold's Pen of Making: Anything drawn with this quill pen becomes real for 1d20 rounds. Caveats: The PLAYER must actually do the drawing, which will be interpreted as the DM sees fit; it only works when drawn on a rare vellum used by the monks in the Monastery Beyond the Moon; requires ink from powdered gemstones (500 gp of stones is sufficient for one use); drawing gemstones transfoms the pen into a black hole, consuming all material in a 1 mile radius.

28 - Mótsognir's Whetstone: When used to sharpen a bladed, magical weapon, the stone adds +1d6 to the weapon's attack / damage bonus for one day. A magical weapon can be used in this manner once for each of its original bonuses, losing one bonus each time it is used. Example: A +2 sword can be sharpened twice. After being sharpened once, it is a +1 sword. After being sharpened twice, it is no longer magical. 

29 - Organ Grinder of the Gods: A colorfully painted street organ. When cranked by a monkey, and fed bodily organs and two magic items, produces lovely music. At the end of the song a randomly determined magic item pops out. 

30 - One unlabeled vial of Doctor Toot's Snake Oil: The blank label was clearly a printing error. Whatever promises you write on the label ("Cures baldness!" "Heals broken hearts and 1d8 dmg!" "Grants 1 wish!") actually comes true. As with all of Doctor Toot's concoctions, tragic side effects are in in direct ratio to the power of the potion.

31 - “earthquake” pills, to be fed to your enemies. Don’t ask!

32 - A large tin Jack in the Box: When cranked, plays a haunting circus theme. If played to the end of the song (5 cranks) roll 1d100:

1-23 Nothing happens.

24-30 Someone you know dies.

31-40 The noise attracts a random encounter.

41 A wizard-king - somewhere, someworld - names you his heir just before he is assassinated.

42-45 Gain the XP necessary to bring you within 1 XP of your next level.

46-50 Gain +1d4 to your highest atribute.

51-55 Jack springs out! Roll for surprise. If surprised, age 4d20 years.

56 Jack springs out and grants 1 wish if the PC can answer within 10 seconds.

57-60 You discover a trap door in the floor. It will take you, one way, anywhere.

61-66 A knock on the door. An imp presents the PC with a treasure map then vanishes.

67 Favorite magic item vanishes and reappears in the hands of your arch rival.

68-70 Your future self appears and presents you with a quest.

72 Barbarian horde arrives. You are needed in their war against magic.

73-80 Party awakens on another plane, as part of an extraplanar circus. You are considered the freaks.

81-85 10d100 gp pours from the box.

86-91 Your favorite magical item regains all charges or gains +1d4 plusses.

92-99 The next time you die you are raised on the next full moon.

100: Nothing happens. 1d12 hours later Jack climbs out of the box and tries to kill the nearest person. If he succeeds, that person is the next Jack. 

33 - A wind-up doll dressed like a Chinese sage or mandarin, that may answer any question (like a Contact Outer Plane spell) once every week. Failed % rolls have a 1-in-6 chance of pissing off the otherwordly presence which uses the doll as an anchor to our dimension.

34 - A forearm sleeve track that drops a derringer into your palm. A matching track for the other arm with a stiletto.

Some readers may recall the adventure in which the Boy's PC, Sir Vallasen, used a magic necklace to bring an entire village of ghosts back to life - as giraffes.  Obviously the Boy was pleased to hear that Andrew Shields (of Fictive Fantasies) has rolled up a graff necromancer and is ready to sling some dice, and even went so far as to draw the character:
Dr. Reginald Topleaf, Esq. is ready for action!

He (the Boy, not Andrew) was excited about the idea of other people - and strangers, at that - picking up on a thread he had started.  And he loves giraffes anyway.

I'm hoping to have more great fantasy adventures with the Boy soon, but lately he's been asking to play detectives, secret agents, and astronauts much of the time.  While we're on the theme of the Boy and his Wampus Country adventures, here are some notes on one of the species he's encountered.

Alas, the Halfway Nothings!  These poor accursed men and women are easily distinguished, even from a distance, by the black and white color they bear, bisected down their faces (like in that Star Trek episode).  The strange coloration is caused by a kind of curse they bear, which is both tragic and somewhat communicable, and the pigmentation magically changes whatever clothes they are wearing, as well.  A Halfway Nothing was once a person like you or I, but somewhere along the line they just plain gave up on listening to what their conscience told them to do, instead following others blindly.  They are neither one thing, nor the other: neither good nor evil, neither ambitious nor lazy, neither studious nor ignorant.   They believe in nothing - no god, no cause, no family, no quest.  The Nothings live their lives halfway, never committing to anything or anyone, and never really wanting anything save to feel like they belong, for it is only blind conformity which satisfies them.  Halfway Nothings gravitate toward one another and are found in small groups, often living as bandits (for they care nothing for other sentient creatures) or serving as henchpersons and foot troops to some charismatic leader who has caught their temporary fancy, such as an evil sorceror or smooth-talking philosopher.  The Halfway Nothings do have some sort of system of prestige and rank amongst themselves, but it's difficult for outsiders to decipher since the Nothings are all continually striving to be just like the Nothings around them.  Rarely, a Halfway Nothing can be slowly rehabilitated and guided to find its purpose in life; should it achieve this goal, it transforms into an All-the-Way Something - which is to say, a normal person with beliefs and emotions.  A group of Halfway Nothings may be easily swayed, especially if they have just lost their leader.

Stats as orcs, I guess.  I had intended the Halfway Nothings to be an opportunity for Sir Vallasen to help people find their purpose in life, but he thought better of it and poisoned them all.  Parenting, everybody!

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