Thursday, July 16, 2015

Non-Combat Magical Item No. 1

This is the first installment of our hopefully long-running series of Non-Combat Magical Items. Players love to receive magic items, and it's a great way to reward players for beating a dungeon, defeating a foe, or saving a village. However, too many magical +2 Lance of Goblin Explosion's can leave a party overpowered. This is especially true now in the world of Fifth Edition.

Some DMs have introduced something called "Mundane Magical Items" to their tables. These items aren't as strong as some of the glimmering, vibrating swords of the past, but they are still usually aimed towards a strong combat utility. 

I've decided to take things a different direction at my table. In a magical world filled with dragons, genies, and portals to another dimension, I believe that there would be items that don't feel most at home on the battlefield. These items need not be only trivial magical implements like self-writing quills, or mirrors to help a dwarf with his self-esteem, they can rival the power of their magical sword and bow brethren.

As an added disclaimer, I don't refer to these items as "Non-Combat Magical Items" in front of my players. The title isn't so much a rule as it is a design philosophy. As you'll see with our first entry in the series. 

Chalk of the Demiplane Retreat

Wondrous item, rare

This parcel of parchment paper tied with twine reveals five coloured pieces of chalk when opened. A small, unidentifiable rune is etched into the side of each piece. You can use an action to draw a door with a piece of chalk onto any smooth, flat surface. At the end of the action that piece of chalk crumbles to dust.

When a door is drawn, a magical portal to a demiplane appears in its place. This door remains open for one minute. It leads to a five square kilometer demiplane that takes on the appearance of a quaint village on a hill. There are enough houses and beds to comfortably live 100 average humanoids, although some races enjoy crowded living conditions more than others. There are magical food stores that will sustain anyone within the demiplane. A small keep exists in the middle of town, with rudimentary supplies and weapons.

After one minute the door disappears, locking the inhabitants inside. After another minute on the plane of origin, the door opens again, staying open for one minute. Anyone or thing that is left inside will find themselves safely materialize in an open space near the door when the door closes. Anything originating from within the demiplane will disappear instantly upon passing through the doorway. Any living thing born within the demiplane is able to leave safely.

The chalk comes in five colours. Although one minute passes on the original plane, those inside the demiplane will find that time passes by at a different rate, depending on the colour of chalk that was used to draw the door, as shown in the list below.

  • Red - One Hour
  • Yellow - One Day
  • Green - One Month
  • Blue - One Year
  • White - One Hundred Years

So there it is, the first Non-Combat Magical Item. Now as I said before this isn't strictly for combat use, but there are ways a clever player could take advantage of it. The red, hour-long chalk could be used to have a short rest, and heal up partially during a devastating fight. The yellow, day-long chalk could even give a party a long rest in the middle of a fight, assuming all of the party is able to get inside of the demiplane, and hold off any enemies from entering within a minute. A clever player of a long-lived race in my game realized that the relatively weak dragon wyrmling that he is raising, could be raised to a much more powerful young or adult dragon in the span of one hundred years. 

Non-combat uses are infinite, a wanted man could escape to live out the remainder of his life in safety and solitude. An army could be trained in a short amount of time. Groups of livestock could be bred up to a healthier size during a famine.