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Comments: 24
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Rating: 4.6786
Condition: Normal
ID: 416


June 30, 2006, 4:00 pm

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Mourngrymn (2x)

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Map of Ithar


It looks like an ordinary parchment map, until it speaks to you.  It says, “I know where you need to go to find what you are looking for.”  From there, the adventure begins.

At first glance, it appears to be a map of the general area it is found in.  The map is a standard sized parchment scroll. It looks worn, but not ancient by any stretch. It may or may not have a scroll tube with it. 

When unrolled, the map can speak. The voice conveys a quiet and educated tone. Upon first unrolling, it will ask the owner questions about who they are, what is the time and date, and who is with them. This is simply the map, Ithar by name, getting to know its new owner. Once familiar with a person and its companions, it will be conversational with them, sometimes giving them answers before they even ask the question. 

Inevitably, the voice will ask, “What is it that you are looking for?”

With a “Here you are,” or “I know where you need to go to find what you are looking for,” the map’s appearance changes.  It shows a general route to what you are looking for.  The map will be vague, and have you looking for three landmarks (normally) along the way.

At each landmark, there will be a challenge to be overcome.  While these are often physical challenges, there will be intellectual and emotional choices to be made.  When approaching a landmark/ challenge, Ithar will sometimes become a map of the local area (including any secret passages and such as appropriate).   Some of these “encounters” may earn you a tool or piece of information that you will need along your journey or to get to the final item. 

If you don’t like the directions, the map will sigh and complain that just because you can’t follow the map, does not mean it is not the best path for you. 

Note: The map is never wrong, per say.  It will know where you are the object of your search are going to “cross paths”.

If you ask for Ithar’s help to find something else, before finding the subject of the current map, Ithar will provide the information, but the route will be long, dangerous, and bothersome.   If you ask for local directions (for where a good inn is or how to find Appleton), Ithar may or may not help, depending on how you have treated it AND if you are still on the way to search for original item. 

Magical Properties:

Ithar, the Map, always know exactly where to find what you are looking for, even if you don’t know it yourself.  If you are looking for your socks, it will show you. If you are looking for the great item of a quest, it will show you.  If you are looking for yourself or a heart’s desire, it will show you. 

Ithar is intelligence (superhuman), wise (super human, Solomon like), and strong willed.  It is also very experienced having been around several Elven lifetimes (Arn’t Elves immortal you ask? Yes. Think about it).  It likes to make friends with its owners, because they are normally the only people who talk to it.  (Ithar does not like pointless conversations, so don’t make small talk with it, but you can have discussions with purposes with it).  Ithar is a patient, scholarly teacher type.  He is helpful, when he can be.  If it is said to have a flaw, it is that “It knows what is best for you”, because it has known people like you before. (Given its wisdom and magiks, it takes very little for it to know a great deal about you.)   Every challenge it chooses is to make you (or one of your companions) a better, more skilled, person. (Note these challenges are along the a general route you could of taken anyways, on the way to the time.)

Ithar is effectively indestructible.  It is said to be made from a piece of divine parchment, said to come from the book of knowledge or the book of fate, depending on the translation.  (In reality, it is just an intelligent, well crafted magic item which can limitedly foresee the future, past, and the present, as well as find anything.

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Comments ( 24 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

January 17, 2004, 4:19
See. It is not an Orb and has nothing to do with Corvis.

Powerful, without being overwhelmingly so. It does require the GM to know his players' characters and conceptions VERY well. So it is an item that not everyone can use to its potential.

I know it is a "quest in the box" kind of item, but it has story potentials.
January 17, 2004, 6:43
Love it. My PCs like quirky NPCs and I'd have counted this item as more of a character than anything! Just one question: I understand it's got to be specific to the challenged PC, but when you mention "intellectual and emotional" challenges, what sort of thing do you mean exactly?

January 17, 2004, 11:29
Finally! You turn something out after so long!
And the best part is, it is sweeeeeeeeeeet.
It's really great.
But really, "emotional challenges"? Is somebody falling in love with the map?
January 18, 2004, 1:07
Emotional challanges might be situations that can lead you to overcome fears, realize personal insecurities and eventually conquer them, learn that you can overcome your need to gamble on a small scale, or avoid reacting to when someone calls you "Chicken" and so on. It would be the first steps to overcoming these issues, if they don't let you resolve them immediately.

Mental challanges are puzzles, riddles, conundrums, and such that might give you clues to future challanges. Thus you as the GM can foreshadow future problems OR lead them to clues they had missed in the past. They can also just be logic puzzles that the players can resolve for people involved in situations (thus too involved to see the correct answer). In a CoC type game, the players encountered a certain sliding puzzle. One of the characters realized that there had been a similiar puzzle in his ancestoral mansion and they had not realized it...
Barbarian Horde
June 1, 2004, 17:24
Come on...haven't you all ever seen the children's cartoon, Dora The Explorer? This is straight from there. Even the three landmarks. My three year old watches that show. Members of my party have kids too, and they would laugh me off the table if I threw this at them.

Next, you're gonna tell me about a magical backpack that talks and gets things out for you, right? And a talking monkey with red boots? Sheeesh.
June 1, 2004, 19:44
Wow. Why are all the Anonymouses jerks?
June 1, 2004, 20:04
Mebbee they're regulars who go anonymous to say bad things :P

Anywho - Just because something is similar to something you've seen on TV doesnt mean its a direct copy. And it certainly doesnt mean its childish, just because something like it was on a chidrens show.

Fairy tales have killing, magic and betrayal. Is killing, magic or betrayal childish?

Personally, I think its a pretty good item - 4/5
June 2, 2004, 5:19
Actually said item was inspired by Dora's Map, but the changes should make it different enough. And to a point, if all childish things should be ignored, then we should not have dragons, elves, fairies, magic, and so on. They are all fodder for children's TV shows. So by your logic, we should sweep all of them aside, as they are fodder for childrens TV (even though LotR elves are different than those in funtime).

I wouldn't mind the criticism, IF the jerk had the balls enough to log in with a real name.

With that aside, if the item is presented correctly, people DON'T recognize it. Even parents of kids don't. It is because they are not expecting it. It is all about context. I have had Space 1999 Eagles, the Enterprise, and the Galactica, as well as famous characters from various literatures show up in my game. Only once out of the hundreds of times I have done this over the last 20 years has anyone commented. (Though in my Champion's game, we made it a game.. to spot the guest star).
August 17, 2005, 17:20
I think it's a wonderful item and exactly what I was looking for! I just joined the forum/site/etc. and I was looking for a mystic scroll type item to throw at my "scrounging" character. Exactly what his sticky little fingers need!

Thank you so much!
June 30, 2006, 16:02
you are belatedly welcome
Finger Master
August 23, 2005, 0:25
Though I find it extremely interesting as a tool for making my adventures flow smoother from start to hook, this map violates several praxes:

First it totally destroys much of the exposition of the adventure; upon using the map, the PC's would know where to go, which is half the battle. They need not go searching for the hook or even exploring potential dangers or problems that might confront them -- they always know where they are needed.

Second, it eviscerates proper dungeoneering (or at least has the potential to do so) as much of the stresses of searching are lost to the PC's.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the proper use of this map would require one to "know the characters" in a way that no good GM ever can or should -- PC's are dynamic and protean, and should be treated with the respect that is due to any sentient being.

On the other hand (and tread a careful balance, it does), these built in vagueries that seem expressly designed to avoid the above problems can render the map useless. In either case, it is a tool for a weak and purile GM, bent on dominating his adventure from start to finish so that the PC's have little chance to deviate from his chosen path.

But other than that, it's a fantastic item.
August 23, 2005, 1:18
Wow... That last sentence really kinda' came out of left field, didn't it, Finger Master? Sarcasm much?
August 24, 2005, 10:06
And this is the guy that posted items that were so bad they are on the delete track?

First, the tool is adventure, as it will take the PCs along a specific path. They don't know what they will encounter along the path. In fact, they are being directed by the map to challanges that will challange them. This map does not show the quick route or any details other than the path it wants them to take.

Second: YAY! It makes dungeons go away. Actually if your dungeon is short enough to actually only have two encounters along the way to the GOAL treasure, than it deserves to do away.

Third: A GOOD GM does know the characters. They are more than mere collections of treasure snatching statistics. They should be woven into the game world, with NPCs and organizations associated with them, they are a part of the world's history. They should also be created by the players with the GM's knowledge and approval. If the GM is not spending enough time to bother to learn their characters, then the campaign can never move much beyond a Diablo I level computer game (A great computer game, an awful table top game).
August 24, 2005, 21:11
MoonHunter, though I agree with the first two points you made, I think the third one doesn't really address FM's (or FM's brother's) issue.

His final thought was that only the players can know their characters. The more those characters diverge from being simply blocks of statistics, the more they become difficult to predict. Who is to say the evil wizard wont suddenly find himself totally disgusted by an action he undertook within the past week, and repent -- sacrificing himself to save others. Maybe this was the PC's intention all along, maybe the PC didn't want to lessen his character by laying out his future at the same time he laid out his past and present.

A classic example of this is Weiss and Hickman's Raistlin -- he is complex, unpredictable, shows unexpected acts of kindness, and unfathomed acts of cruelty, all within the space of a week's time. Sometimes he totally abandons the road he set out upon, sometimes he sees it through until the very end.

I think it's fair to say that no matter how much someone knows a PC, there is a certain aspect of unpredictability necessary in roleplaying games, symbollically represented in the dice rolling. Were these characters automotons, so perfectly lain out and described that their future actions were known, there would be little joy in playing them. The joy of roleplaying comes with character development -- the development is most always triggered by something in the game world, but something oftentimes so small and insignificant that the GM might not take notice.

Character's grow -- and grow at unexpected times and in unexpected ways. Any item that somehow negates that, even if it's in the tiniest of ways, removes something beautiful and essential about the game.

I'm really sorry to sort of use this item as a springboard to launch this "philosophical" complaint. It is a well-crafted and clearly well-loved item. I commend you for creating it, and creating it well, but I think that no matter how well an item like this is made, no matter how original or inventive the creator is, there is a lurking pitfall that is nigh-impossible to see in them.

That being said, it is easily reparable. The main objection (in my mind, I don't know about FM) is the small bit about it maybe knowing the future, knowing what the characters want, and where they want to go, without them needing to ask. That could potentially lead to disaster (they open the map, it tells them the adventure. they wanted to go storm this castle to set up a stronghold and attract followers instead). If it's simply an item where you ask about location and it tells you the answer, or DEDUCES the answers to your future problems, then that's a whole other can of worms.

Finally, I'm sorry I gave all this advise, etc. You don't really have to care, but I just thought I'd share my thoughts with you. Hope everything with Ithar works out.
Barbarian Horde
August 24, 2005, 22:57
You lost me at Raistlin, what a horribly annoying example, but perhaps at an appropriate level to argue with a Dora plot hook.

I think everybody is going way to far reading into this rather simple item. A good dm does know the players and it does nothing to take away from the individuality of the players. The map can only predict as well as the dm so it is not like there is some secret knowledge that allows the game to go along a precise, predetermined, and correct path. The point of predetermination and foreknowledge is moot because it is impossible to be played that way so any argument against it is just plain stupid. He never said it was all knowing, just that it was very intelligent with much experience behind it, no more than the dm would have and could guess with.

Just another tool a dm can use to 'lead' the players down a path they want. No better or worse than any other devices that force a direction. No, of course dm's don't do that do they?!?
August 24, 2005, 23:20
Personally I think that everyone is making far too big of a fuss over this. The essence of the item is good; original inspiration is irrelivant to how good it is.

I think we need to take focus off why it's not good and instead focus on how it can be used properly.
Voted Monument
August 25, 2005, 2:32
Agreed, after all, even if one knows where they need to go, there is the slight matter of getting there in one piece.

"I need to find an Item of Staggeringly Overpowered Omnipotence, where could one be...?" says the adventurer
GWORMPH!! "You'll find that here" sez da map...
"But... that's in the Gorge of Eternal Peril!!"
"... and?"
"Eternal?... Peril?..."
"Yeah... and...?"
"Well, it's, like, perilous and stuff, for, like, a really long time."
"... wussy..."
"HEY! No map is going to talk to me like that!! HAVE AT YOU!!!"

To be honest, this sort of thing is just BEGGING for a plot. Make the map be mysteriously found by an adventuring party, with "you are here" X'd on it or something, then the party gets all nonchalant about it, geez, that's useful, now we know where WE are, great, how about telling us something useful, like where a treasure hoard is, ya dumb map! GWORMPH!! Treasure Hoard here(X)... DUDE, NO WAY!!!! DM rubs his hands gleefully as the party marches off to certain doom... these silly PC's these days...

Sorry, but I take sadistic pleasure in pointing the party directly at some greed inducing treasure and then punishing them for their insolence at thinking they could actually get their hands on it. ;)

Just for my own sick sense of sadistic pleasure, this gets 5/5. I'm *SO* using a map like this in this way.
Voted Cheka Man
November 11, 2005, 12:50
Very useful for criminals who are trying to track down witnesses tio their crimes, but also useful for everyone anywhere. 5/5
Voted Mourngrymn
November 11, 2005, 14:30
I enjoy this item a lot. In many games I have run, or played in there have been sentient items that take certain pleasure in the characters well being, or their demise.

Wonderful concept, even if it is from Dora. I have failed to read this when I first saw it posted. At that time I would not have realized it was an offshoot of a Dora item. Now I do and I still like it.
Voted Nobody
February 28, 2006, 16:07
Well, I usually try to stay far away from any Items that use divination to good effect, however, you did say that the map could be ambiguous.

Plus, the map could think that the PC's really need some patience (instead of the sword of death that they keep asking about) and send them to a really big library. This trick would allow a GM to easily avoid letting the players find anything anywhere. The Map could decide to change it's mind at any time for any reason.

All in all, I like it. And I give it a plus .5 for taking a stupid thing like Dora the Explorer, and making it into something cool like this.
Voted Michael Jotne Slayer
July 2, 2006, 10:17
Me like.
Voted Dragon Lord
January 29, 2007, 12:28
Having never seen, or even heard of, this Dora thing you all keep waffling on about I obviously can’t comment on that.

As for the Map (and it really does deserve the capital letter) – me like lots

I particularly like Monument’s suggestion – he, he, he

4½ / 5 I think + ½ for being really weird
So 5/5 total

Nice on Moon
January 29, 2007, 12:47
Thank you. Thank you. Takes bows.

It is a great centered campaign item. Once your players have it, you can lead them around by the nose, without them realizing they are being led around by their nose. Still handy to have in all cases.
Voted valadaar
January 29, 2007, 12:59
An interesting item indeed, especially the debate which accompanied it. I think personally that the item has enough complexity to prevent it from being overwhelming in its use. Being vague covers a world of sins.

In a very, very old campaign of mine, the pc's had an 'oracle' stone which provided similar info, but in a far less subtle manner.

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