Saturday, March 2, 2013

How items can be useful and unmagical

I've done a post on how you can give out cool magical items that won't completely unbalance the game but you can also have cool and powerful non magical items.  Here are some ideas:

How can items be powerful and unmagical?

Fire powder - blow stuff up!  Also leads to...

Firearms - a powerful (even perceived as magical?) weapon.

Acid - corrode stuff away!

Telescope - see things from far away!

High energy rations - a days food that weighs very little.

Compass - help your navigation check!

Clothes and jewellery that indicate high status - pass for the mayor!

Signet of a particular organisation - show the Seal of Hammerdal to anyone in Durenor and you get anything you want.

Ancient relic of a particular people.

Tomes of knowledge – maps to places, records of historical events, manuals, star charts.

Skulls/bones of powerful animals - a sign of strength and status amongst hunters/warriors as they think you killed them.

Trophies/awards from tournaments - will give you a reputation for skill at arms.

Keys - they don't have to be key shaped.  They can be gems or strange stone shapes.

Silver weapons - harms powerful undead.

Herbs - have many healing and other effects.

A lost relic - it puts you in good standing with a particular religion or country.

Special material – mithril, adamantite, darkwood, cold iron.  If it is rare enough, people will want it!

Musical instruments that can calm animals (ape pipes, snake charmer flute).

Any more, people?


  1. Rope.
    Rope is the most useful thing in any gamebook, ever. It serves every kind of use, from allowing you to descend over an edge of a cliff or hill without falling to your death, to tying around a vicious sleeping goblin in order to prevent it from biting your nose off when it wakes up. Rope is genuinely the most useful item in the adventurer's backpack.

  2. Garlic, and wooden stakes. You see those at the local market, and you can be sure that a vampire's lurking somewhere in the local environs.

    (I subverted this in my Windhammer entry last year - I made some anti-vampire equipment available knowing full well that there weren't any vampires in the story.)

  3. Torchs/Lantern. Enter a dark place without them and you'll be in trouble.

    Mirrors. Defeat Basiliks, Gorgons and Medusas, place ugly dudes running evil portals. May also be useful for reflecting light.

    Silver weapons: For werewolves and such.

    Well crafted weapons. The Battlesword in sorcery is not a magical weapon, but it still gives a useful AS boost.