Rules and Advice
Game Mastering
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February 15, 2006, 1:46 pm

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Cheka Man

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PC's and Artifacts of Legend


Ever wanted to add a legendary artifact to your campaign, but you were worried about PC’s getting their hands on it?
Or you put the Legendary item in your game and the PC’s already managed to get it?

What to do, and how to fix it.

Obviously, you can’t have your level 3 PC getting a hold of a legendary artifact of immense power. But that also should not stop you from putting these items into the game. Legendary items can add a lot to a game world. Here are some ideas to keep posessions like these out of PC hands.

1) Make it hard to get.

The fastest way to keep PC’s from getting these Items, is to make them impossible for low level characters to obtain. Maybe it has an insanely powerful guardian spirit watching it, maybe it has an entire guild protecting it, or maybe it simply cannot be reached without six consecutive Fly spells.

One way or another, you can make these items impossibly out of reach by low level PC’s by simply making them hard to get

2)Add a prerequisite to the powers of an Item.

Legendary items are designed for legendary characters. Think about it. A novice wizard would never know how to use a wand of city destruction. The Legendary Helm of Devotion would never work for a character who has done nothing for his patron deity. Even a fighter would have to have a certain amount of experience with enchanted items and weapons in order to use the abilities in Doombringers’s Legendary Sword of Death

Simply stated, make a character level prerequisite for your Item of Legend abilities. As a Novice, your character has a +2 longsword. As an Adept, it acts as a +4 flaming sword. As an Expert, it acts as a +6 Flaming Sword that grants a Wall of fire three times daily. As a Grand Master, your sword’s full power is unlocked, making it a +8 Vorpal Flaming Sword that deals damage again the round after it hits, can cause a ring of fire to surround you three times a day, and has a 20% chance of automatically killing a stricken foe…or…well you get the idea.

This is, in my opinion, the simplest and easiest ways of regulating Legendary Items in PC hands.

3) Have their Patron Deity take it away and replace it with something more reasonable.

Although this only works for clerics, paladins, and the like, this is a handy little way to regulate a PC’s power.

At night, give the Cleric a Vision where his/her deity speaks to them telling them that the item is needed elsewhere, and that they will be rewarded for the sacrifice. When they wake up, the Legendary item is gone, and in it’s place is another item that is closer to the PC’s level.

As a suggestion, I recommend that the item be very strong for a character of that level so that they don’t feel quite as cheated, but still keeping the item within reason.

4)Make the Item Radiate with Power when held or equipped.

If you think that Legendary items should have Legendary effects on everybody who uses them, and your characters aren’t Clerics or Paladins, then make them radiate with power visible to everybody, anywhere nearby.

This is not quite as clean as some of the other options, but it will certainly do the job. Suddenly, upon equipping the item and walking into town, it will become widely known that a legendary artifact is being worn by such-and-such in whatever town you have them in. Suddenly, your PC’s will find themselves on the wrong end of Adventurers who are much stronger than they are, seeking the Legendary Item that they have.

The first few encounters should be higher level encounters, but with the legendary item, overcomable. However, each encounter should get progressively harder, to the point where they are completely outmatched against superior foes.

By the same rule, they would have an impossible time selling the item. If they go to a market small enough to sell it safely, then nobody will be able to purchase such a powerful Artifact. In any market with enough money to buy it, a much higher level thief would take it before they got within fifty meters of a shop.

Even in a remote area, they might find themselves bombarded by Clerics or Paladins who have been told in a vision by their Gods to go and retrieve the item. Certainly some of the minor deities have uses for such things.

5)Anyting else you can think up

With these tools in your belt, you should be able to stop PC’s from getting their hands on that Legendary Amulet of Powergaming, however, this article is neither the Alpha nor Omega of DM tricks. There are plenty more out there. Use them all, and good luck


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Comments ( 6 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Dozus
February 15, 2006, 14:24
Great advice, Nobody. Why not make this a codex/scroll? That way, we could add suggestions to limiting things of power, while adding submission of our own that follow the ideas presented.
Voted Cheka Man
February 15, 2006, 17:51
Very useful for GMs. 5/5 and an HOH
Voted Iain
February 15, 2006, 18:56
I agree - some very good, very solid ideas there. Only a 4, because I find it hard to give more than that for articles, but still very good (and an HOH).
Voted manfred
February 16, 2006, 5:20
A nice little how-to you have made.

While you have shown it in several good examples, I think it needs to be said clearly:

Give it a downside that weaker characters will have a hard time to overcome.

As shown in 2) and 4), it could get more explicit - The Wand Of Mighty Fireballs has a little... spread out flames. Ouch if you are not protected against fire. That intelligent sword _wants_ to be used for heroic stuff, and it drags its unlucky user from one lethal adventure into another. And so on, and so on, and so on.
Voted MoonHunter
February 16, 2006, 13:52
Runebearer (or what ever Chris is call Bostonia) has a system which dove tails with this. The amount of 'power' a given item has is based on how legendary and tied to its legend the character is. Thus you can have The Item of UBER POWER, but until you learn a great deal about its history, then perform acts of great renown with it, you can only access its minimum abilities.

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