Full Item Description
The Chessboard of Ruthur appears as a typical Thyanian chessboard crafted from fine black and white jade. The pieces are similarly crafted from the same materials and appear as armored soldiers of various types.
The Thyanian chessboard is different then most by having specific names for each square and piece. The squares are named after actual locations along the border shared with their Twin Kingdom of Salatra, and the pieces are named after specific military units belonging to either side. Each piece bears the livery and coat of arms of said unit. Pawns are infantry brigades, Knights are calvary, Rooks are named after castle garrisons, Bishops are Church forces, and the King and Queen are represent the King and Queens guards.
The chessboard is named after a Thyanian court mage named Ruthur, but it has not been proven that he was involved in it's creation. It has been used by a succession of Thyanian mages through the centuries and has led to unfortunate outcomes with some of the less competent...
It is still held in the Blue Tower, the traditional home of the current Thyanian High Mage and advisor to the King.
The chessboard is actually a carefully crafted holder of secrets. Each square on the board can contain a secret which can either be as small as a single word, or as long as an entire work of the dark arts.
Each square is opened and closed through the playing out of a sequence of moves on the board, which usually result in a checkmate with a king placed on the appropriate square. A separate person must move each side. The interval between moves must be short, or the sequence is broken, and no errors can be made or again the sequence is broken.
The danger in taking too long lies in the nature of the Demon Jade used to make the board. Excessive contact with the pieces or proximity with the board will lead to certain mental changes.
In generally, the sequences are carefully documented using the formal names of the pieces and places. Some of these can resemble battle reports due to the naming conventions used - "The Red Brigade advanced through Amasarr to Redriken, routing the Salatrian's Queens Guard...". Sequences have been recorded also in bard's songs and other writings.
The nature of the recorded Secrets varies, but here is a brief table:
|1||Plans for military attack|
|2||True-name of lesser Demon|
|3||Details of rare spell/ritual|
|5||Controversial/Politically damaging personal account|
|6||Command words for magic item/portal|
|7||Map to treasure/dungeon|
|8||Formula for potion|
|9||Bestiary information on numerous rare and dangerous creatures|
|10||Plans for powerful magical siege weapons|
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? Responses (12)
An interesting and puzzling item, but I'm not sure that I see how the mage creating it expected it to protect his secrets.
Unless you know the exact set of moves - along with a trusted apprentice, it is rather unlikely to reproduce the exact sequence necessary to unlock it. The permutations are rather high.
And alternately, there could be magical traps present triggered off specific sequences of moves.
I apologize! Apparently, I didn't read it closely enough: That would be a tough puzzle to break. The owner would need to remember entire games to access his hidden secrets, so I imagine that only chess enthusiasts need apply...
Most owners would keep notes about how to access various secrets, so the easy way to access the information would be to find these notes and break whatever code was used to hide their information.
After some consideration I can see the chessboard as an enimga of sorts to the mages of the tower. Say that some of the squares have long since been unlocked, and now simply pose as warm-up exercises for attempting the locked squares. Arch-Mages could cast spells of chance and permutation hoping to unlock the secret of a given square. Great story potential, but I think it's uses to the average PC are quite small. Good piece of background material for a game though, a piece of paraphenalia.
Even more interesting if a PC rogue filches a piece from the set and ends up being hunted by minions of the mage until the piece is recovered. In true gaming fashion, the PC might forget about said piece and all assume the mage is after them for the book/dingus they found, or that they plan to oppose him.
Another plot hook is that if using the board too long, the players can gain an notion that they are far superior tacticians than they are and emboldened they lead their forces to war. After all, on the board they were able to win.
Yes, this is an item unlikely to be found in a dungeon or otherwise encountered by PCs, unless of course it is not a unique item and others exist...
Now, one could find out that a piece of valuable information is contained in said board and the PCs must find the proper 'game' moves, and then break into the tower, remaining long enough to complete the game before they are discovered and turned into gnats by the irate magii.
Interesting. Here goes:
This piece reminds me of the work of an old user called Monument. Do not misunderstand, the text is original and nice, but the style does remind me of Monument.
As for the chessboard itself it does have some rather interesting features. It is well thought out, clever even, and unlike Scrasamax I see many potential situations in which to expose it to PCs. From being the key to unlock the mystery of the murder of Count X (who owned it and used it to keep records of his enemies as well as friends), to being an item stolen from the King (and thus threatening to expose his dirty secrets).
Even more uses open up with slight alteration of the powers; a chessboard could be imbued with magics that reveals a secret of the player losing a piece. The more important piece is, the more potentially devastating the secret. It could thus be a political instrument when a choice of leader must be made, or it could be used as a means of duelling between rival scholars.
As for the write up it was a little dry and the suggested powers sent me spinning back into D&D. It matters not as the ideas presented within were colourful and stimulating.
It is more useful as a McGuffin than an actual item for the PCs to be involved with.
The magic should be as such that no form of magic, short of a God's (and even they should have trouble) should be able to reveal a secret.
Also there should be two of them, one for each "court". After all, all great forces must be balanced.
A fun way to go with it would be that the secrets of the other board can be found by following the sequence on the other. Combine this with the fun side effects of the DemonJade and drama galor occurs.
One square and sequence could be used as a "red phone" between either the two kings or the two heads of intelligence for each kingdom.
I like the details for this one. The chessboard's concept is a good one. The board being based on "reality" is an interesting one.
I like the idea of two linked boards. A lot.
Like a safe that poisons those who try and unlock it for too long.
I'm late to the party, but good stuff, val! Yes, it does bring to mind that ol' Castle of Inverness module :) (or was that White Plume Mountain?) but its nifty, for all the reasons already mentioned.
Nifty. 'nuff said.