Sunday, March 27, 2016

What magic items do they need?

You watch James Bond movies, right? Of course you do! Ever notice that James is never given some massive weapon? Here is one of cinema’s most successful killers, and he’s doing the vast majority of it armed with a hand gun. Just a pistol, even if it does hit like a brick through a plate glass window. Sure, he electrocutes guys with fans, kills with shark pellets, throws people out into deep space, etc., but he’s a major movie hero and he never needs a bigger weapon. Can’t our FRPG heroes be more like that?

But then, what kind of magic items would we give them? The ones that compensate for people who are not in the party. Ever have a party of paladins and warriors in huge bulky armor and no thief type? OK, these guys need magic items that will allow them to do things that normally you’d have a thief for. Like what? Well, maybe a magical skeleton key that can pick certain kinds of locks. What about a magical telescope that allows them to scout from hugely long distances, so they don’t need anyone to get in close. Maybe something that quiets that armor a bit so they don’t sound like a high school marching band as they close on the sleeping dragon.

OK, there can be things that more directly affect combat too. How about the magnetic watch is some bracer or gauntlet that exerts a magical magnetic force against your opponent’s weapon or shield, making it tough for him to hit you with it? Maybe an amulet that protects against arrows in some fashion, because it takes so damn long to get those heavily armored guys into melee. (Wow, James must be inspiring me now, because I almost wrote “armoured”.)

Now Bond is a spy, but he is also an assassin. As a spy, knowledge is power, so his items do reflect his need to gather knowledge. This lack of massive weapons also forces him to use the things laying around the room to help him kill folks, which can be hugely fun in an RFPG. It would be pretty silly for him to walk into the casino in his tux with a bazooka strapped to his back, but this is a fair analogy to what some of your “adventurers” are doing.

In writing this, it occurred to me that this is what many of the items in XCom do. You can take the perk that makes you immune to panicking, or you can carry that alien artifact thing that does the same. That’s just one example. You could give those knights in armor a “flash bang” grenade that distracts the enemy, a grapnel hook that will hold them and their armor (allowing limited “flight”), or an attachment to that armor that prevents certain types of attacks, like garrotes or even poison clouds. Look, I don’t want to change every FRPG campaign out there, but isn’t there a point at which we have to say if you can’t kill some guy with a reasonably normal weapon, then you’re kind of a pussy. You should be so good at the killing thing that you don’t need to have the sword equivalent of an ICBM.

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