30 Items From Fallen Empires
Thirty items from the distant past, some are still used today in different forms, others were one of a kind and have long since been lost or sequestered within dusty old tombs, awaiting looters to bring them back to the world once more.
1-Fairy Cup-The early tribes of the Vardar mountains had a trading relationship of sorts with the fairies of the region, providing the fairies with alcohol, food and silver once a year on Midsummer's Day in return for Thrar Stones, and other enchanted items, before too many humans in the region first led to war and then drove the fae race out of the region for good. Human ambassadors would drink from this to shrink to fairy size and fairies to grow to human size and the effects lasted for three days and nights at a time. PCs who shrink to the size of the fae will find eagles to be as dangerous as dragons and small spiders will be like Giant Spiders to them whilst large fae will be a potent foe as their strength and weapons scale up with them. Look before you drink!
2 -Lizardman Breastplate- The Zargoth Lizardmen, once their civilization had grown from a group of frequently warring tribes into a united nation in it's own right, wanted to explore new areas and trade with them, but they hit a major snag when they reached the limits of the warm lands in which their cold-blooded bodies could function properly. So their craftsmen and users of magic developed a fine leather breastplate which was enchanted to keep the core temperature inside the breastplate when it was worn at a warm 35C, their preferred body temperature. In this way their traders could go into temperate and even cold climates.
PCs who try and wear it would find it very useful in cold or polar environments but too hot and sweaty to wear in even slightly warm weather, let alone in the heat of deserts and jungles.
3-Gold Torc-The early Stalinians depended even more on slavery then the majority of early civilizations and knew that a major slave revolt could destabilize or even end their rule. One of the areas that they controlled was a chain of mountains rich in gold, but they despised gold as it was too soft to make weapons, armour or tools with. So they used it for the toys of small children, and also put a thin layer of it upon iron collars that were then clamped around the necks of their slaves. These were early forms of the Convict Collar and each had a number of magical geas upon them, giving the slave a nasty electric shock if he or she held a weapon, tried to escape or acted up.
This item is very good for the PC who sees what he or she thinks must be a potent magical item and puts it on without thinking of what the item might in fact do. It locks on and can only be taken off with a potent magic spell or by a blacksmith, and the GM can decide what,as well as holding a weapon, will trigger the shock. Whilst not deadly the shock hurts. A lot.
4-Water-finding-stick-Before the growth of the first civilizations when there were only tribes and magic was in it's infancy, one of the earliest spells was on a stick to make it lead the holder to the nearest source of drinkable water, an item that could mean the difference between life and a slow death of thirst in desert regions. It was the use of these sticks that made the growth of civilizations possible-once a tribe had located and secured a water source it could put down roots and grow and develop.
5-Hammer of Justice-This fine hammer with an ebony handle and an iron head was the favored weapon of Queen Emma the Just, an early Queen of Vallermoore. When used against lawbreakers, the more severe the lawbreaking is, the harder the hammer will hit them. If the lawbreaker is committing or has committed a capital offense, the hammer can strike hard enough to split a shield or crack a skull, regardless of the strength of the one using it. (from 30 Hammers) It was buried with her in her tomb but her tomb was robbed centuries ago.
6-Mori Rock Bracelets- The early tribes of Dwarves faced a serious problem when they first dug deep into the earth and the rock to make their great mountain cities. Here and there they encountered pockets of flammable gas. Whilst their lungs could normally cope with it, the gas tended to ignite and explode when it and flames met, with fatal results as it brought the roof down with it. At some time in their history they came across veins of mori rock, that glowed with a soft green glow, enough to see by and without any danger of igniting the gas. When water was poured on it, it would flash brightly for a few seconds, which was useful to illuminate large caverns that they broke into by chance, and when at war with the goblins and the dark elves for territory. Mori rock is still used by many dwarves to provide light safely to this very day.
7-Blank magical map-Nicnac scribal mages created these maps which if told to in the Nicnac language would draw a map of an area on a piece of enchanted vellum. If the PCs find out how to work it, it draws the map as they go along, useful for mazes and those places where the PCs have to retrace their steps. Another Nicnac word erases the map so it can be used again.
8-Gloves of crushing-The Nicnacs were a civilization well known for their combination of low technology and potent magic. When wearing these enchanted leather gloves studded with metal spikes a person could crush human bones with a normal grip, break swords and other such weapons, and punch through a thick wooden door. The downside is that whilst wearing these they would crush anything they tried to pick up, break anything they touched and even injure themselves if they touched their own bodies. To prevent the gloves being pulled off in battle and used against the wearer, the gloves locked on magically until set free by a password. If the whole army used the same password it would be a disaster if spies from another country discovered it, so each individual soldier and officer had their own password which was ordered not to be written down anywhere. The gloves were made to withstand attempts to cut them off so they could be used in battle without problems.
9-Spirit Globe-The highest ranking court wizards of the O Quong dynasty were able to use glass globes carved with magical runes to talk with the spirits of departed Emperors to get their advice or let them speak to close family members. Unfortunately if PCs try and use these, either one or more Traveler Spirits will emerge from the globe to attack the PCs, the spirit they are talking to will try and possess one of them, or the globe will shatter into pieces. However, for a mage or witch who knows how to safely use one of these things it is worth a lot of money.
10-Treasure Chest golem-The many-legged Treasure Chest is made of iron by the O Quong dynasty and is programmed to run away from anyone who is not it's original owner or does not possess the red seal given to the judges, police officers and tax collectors of the O Quong state. Before breaking into this chest the PCs will have to catch and restrain it first. (shades of Rincewind's Luggage here.)
11-Circlet of Justice-This silver circlet was worn by judges and magistrates in the days when Vallermoore was ruled by Queen Emma the Just and filled the wearer with an urge to be honest and to do the right thing in general. It was an attempt to cut down on selfishness and corruption in the judiciary and cannot be taken off for several hours after putting it on. If worn by a PC it turns them into goody-goody have-a-go-hero types that get involved in fights that have nothing to do with them or their fellow PCs. Another item for the PC who puts on whatever item of clothing he or she sees without considering the possible effects.
12-Mirror Shield-After skirmishes with the Children of Glass, normally for control of water sources, the Ordivian Legions decided to make shining metal shields with a thin layer of glass upon them to turn the glass against their foes. They were unable to make glass weapons of their own, so these came with steel swords that were chained to the shields, so that if a sword was dropped in battle it's owner had a chance of getting it back before he was killed. They also had helmets with a smoked glass visor so as to avoid being injured by the sunlight from their own shields, although if hit with a weapon the visor would break and risked blinding it's owner.
When found, the shield will almost certainly be covered in dirt and dust and unless it is cleaned and polished the PCs will have no idea of it's true nature. Of course, even a perfectly clean shield will only shine in sunlight or next to some other light source. It is up to the GM if a helmet is found with the shield and sword.
13-Steamsword-The Company Steamsword , when not *turned on* appears to be a well-padded sword hilt with a symbol of the De Madden Company on the pommel and a large hole where the blade should be. When twisted, however, there is a loud hissing sound and a foot long jet of steam shoots out of the hilt, one hot enough to at once cook any flesh that touches it.
The blade is composed of steam heated to 500 degrees Centigrade, created when a chemical created with thaumatechnology mixes with ordinary water, and works just as well in water as on land.
No solid blade can parry it, on the minus side it cannot parry blows either, or cut through solid non-living objects such as prison bars. It also lasts only a short time, for only six minutes, so a secondary weapon is advisable in a long fight. If the user is careful, he or she can use it to cook their food.
Lastly, the hissing when turned on means that it will attract any foes within earshot, so it is not best used as a weapon of stealth and may well attract law enforcement to the scene of the fight if used for too long. (for use in a far-future sci-fi world where weapons are rare and normally strictly controlled but a few can be found on the black market..)
14-Healing Stone-One of these copper seal-stones, bearing Inanna's holy symbol, hung on a necklace and blessed by a Priestess of Inanna, would slow down the diseases of the Nicnacs. It does not heal, and only slows the progress of a disease by half, but this might mean the difference between a PC reaching someone who can cure them and dying on the way there.
15-Heating Stone-One of the earliest of the Continual Stones used by many civilizations and the tribes was one which when put in sunlight, rapidly heated and if thrown into a pot of water, made it hot enough to cook with. To cool it down it just needed to be put somewhere dark.
16-Inanna Statue-Inanna was one of the first goddesses and although she is not now prayed to much in most places, if a PC preys in dire need there is a small chance that she may help him or her (1% if the PC is male, 5% if the PC is female.) The small statue is made of silver with ruby eyes and could be sold for quite a bit of money as well.
17-Concealed Breastplate-The Nicnacs considered it rude for courtiers and royal guards to wear armour when not in battle but common sense often required it to be worn to fend off assassin's knives, so a layer of chainmail was put between two layers of fine linen to make a concealed breastplate. The linen does a very good job at protecting the chainmail inside from rust, even after a long period of time.
18-Float-Shoes-The Yarmin civilization was largely water-based and it's people got most of their food from the rivers and seas. Their mages enchanted ordinary rocks so they floated and carved them and attached thongs to them and made sandals that let them walk on water. To an untrained PC they require a dexterity check to use, failure either gets the PC stuck in one place or makes them fall into the water flat on their faces.
19-Pocket Myriad-A common artifact of the Reman civilization was the Pocket Myriad, like a large penknife, with six buttons on it, each of which caused a n item to flick out, be it a blade for cutting meat or self defense, a tinderbox for fire, a small spanner, a fork for eating, a small hammer or a tape measure. Nowadays the symbols upon the Myriad have generally long since rusted with age so for a new owner using it for the first time, it will be touch and go what comes out when he or she presses the buttons. It is not magical and works with simple springs.
20-Scroll of Unarmed Combat-The later O Quong Emperors disarmed all non-nobles and executed those of the common people that were caught with weapons so unarmed combat arts were secretly developed because of that. Should PCs find one of these it is unlikely to be of much help as what it teaches through diagrams takes a lot of time and trouble to learn, but the scroll could be sold for a high price if the PCs could find the right person to sell it to.
21-Giant Scarab-Another Nicnac item were small enchanted scarabs of stone that when a code word was spoken grew to the size of a large dog, whilst another word would shrink it back down again. It bonds with the first person it sees, and comes in two varieties , one is a good beast of burden, the other is aggressive and capable of biting off a human head with it's jaws. Since it is not likely that the PCs know the Nicnac language they will find both kinds hard to control, the beast of burden will run after rabbits along with any gear it carries and not come back for hours;the attack scarab will bite the head off any non-PC it can, regardless of how friendly or hostile the NPC is.
22-Necklace of sleep-To control their women, and also to help males who suffered from insomnia, the Stalinians created necklaces of gold that had powerful sleep spells cast upon them. Women were normally made to wear them every night to stop them sneaking out of the house to escape or meet secretly with a lover. Men only wore them if they had sleeping problems. If not taken off, the spell lasts for eight hours,and even if removed it lasts for an hour before being taken off. With items like this around, PCs should be careful what they put on without checking it first. It is recharged by leaving it in the sun for a long enough time.
23-Stick of Detect Poison-The O Quong Emperors had good reason to fear their food might be poisoned, and this simple enchanted stick of green jade turns yellow when it touches badly cooked or rotting food and red when it touches food that has been poisoned. It's use spread to the nobility and then the middle class. Some were buried in tombs, in others the jade was reused, but quite a few have survived to this day. The sort of thing that PCs might find in an antique shop for a gold piece or two.
24-Prison vase-The O Quong dynasty imprisoned it's criminals and political prisoners in magical vases, which when the person put a hand on the top shrunk him or her by magic and dumped him or her in the vase. Food or water put inside does not shrink so a small bit of food could feed someone for days, which kept the cost of feeding and watering prisoners down. If the vase is broken, the tiny person inside if there is one grows at the rate of an inch every hour until his or her proper size is reached, and during that time a tarantula for example is as dangerous as a Giant Spider and an Eagle is as dangerous as a full grown dragon for a time. In some cases these vases were used as oubliettes and have tiny piles of bones or mummified bodies in them, that slowly grow if they are removed from the vase.
25-Scarf of Gagging-The Stalinians did not think much of their women, so when they wanted peace they made their women wear scarves around their mouths that had been enchanted to clamp tight over the women's mouths and to tighten more with every word, totally silencing them. It needed a word now lost to the mists of time to stop the spell. The scarves were of leather and quite tough. The PC who puts this own will most likely think this is a normal scarf until he or she puts it around their mouth as a disguise or to protect against wind or cold. Good for that irritating gamer in your PC party who just won't shut up.
26-Potion Chest-The O Quong nobles often had chests made of oak, teak and sandalwood full of potent potions-sadly, most of them have become so old that they have changed into Flawed Potions
27-Alarm stone-A common item amongst the harder workers of the Nicnacs, this stone with a rune on it makes a horrible noise in sunlight-useful for the PC in a tent who wants to get up early.
28-Blowpipe-The B-Hong civilization used wooden blowpipes as their main weapon of choice and buried them with their dead warriors, along with a pouch of darts, so that the warriors could defend themselves in the afterlife. It is up to the GM what affects the darts have and if they are still potent after their time in the grave/tomb.
29-Recording Stone-The O Quong dynasty were fond of music and found a way to use magic to record it onto flat round stones with a sigil in gold leaf in the center. To record music or to use as a hidden bugging device one touches the sigil and can either play up to an hour's worth of music or leave it hidden to collect up to an hour's worth of private conversations if it is left in the right place. To play it, touch the sigal twice. Sadly if the stone is in any way scratched what will be recorded will be scratchy and tinny and best and inaudible at worst, and few of these stones survive in good condition.
30-Love charm-This small green jade image is one of the Nicnac gods, the god of Love, Owlongwilyouphuck. Even after so long, the magic still works. If a man wears one he will get an erection, whilst a woman will get the female equivalent. GMs are not recommended to introduce to a game with underage players. When removed, the effects vanish at once.
Do you dare write of what crawls out of tombs and shambles out of ruins? What befell the ancient structures that still haunt the world. Are they truly abandoned or just awaiting a hardy soul to test their depths? Is the magic that destroyed the mighty fortress gone or does it seek its next victim. Only time will tell... Enter the Fallen Empires!
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? Responses (4)-4
A nice array of items that reveal the culture they came from. I like the nasty surprises for players that just put on random items, like the gold torc.
And "Owlongwilyouphuck"? I'm lucky I wasn't drinking when I read that, or my keyboard would have been decorated.
Stalinians... reaaaaally? Any less obvious allusions?
And Owlongwilyouphuck is plain vulgar.
The Luggage is copied - your version is less aggressive etc., but still.
A layer of chainmail will not make a breastplate.
You seem to have re-used items from previous submissions.
There's some grammar issues as well.
All in all: do not hurry the 30s. Give it more thought.
I echo Echo on this one.
I have never been a huge fan of the 30 subs personally and there is little I can say that hasn't been said previously. However, and yes this is a blatant plug but linking one of my subs put a smile on my face and makes we want to revisit it as I said I would to flesh it out with more Travelers. Not how I would have expected possible contact of said Travelers would be but its an avenue I didn't think of when writing it originally.