Pied Piper Treasure Build

D&D, Dungeons & Dragons, Home Brew 1 Comment »

Ben got the itch to brew up another treasure item for an upcoming encounter. The brilliant RPG minds at the Old School Gamers Facebook club served up a slew of ideas and quirks to aid in the forging of this mischievous booty. Let’s see how it all flushed out.

What? Why?
The sudden desire for a new magic item stems from DM Ben’s desire to raise the Party’s combat difficulty. His six-character group is level nine but they have amazing class synergies and complementing attacks/powers…so much so that higher-end battles are becoming a little too easy.

A challenging game and a continuous sense of true danger are paramount to Ben’s GMing style. Complacency turns into boredom and potential burnout. Egads…nobody wants that.

Encounter to-hit and damage per monster need to get bumped up at least 25%. Still, Ben is nervous about overdoing the new challenge ratings. The intent here is not a TPK. Thus, subtle ways to protect against an over calculation include healing potion and a monster summoning treasure items.

Baseline Jumper
Now that Ben’s new magic item has a purpose, the ability to create it becomes much easier. Crafting something with a group of fellow gamers has always appealed to Ben. RPG creativity crowding sourcing is a rush.

Ben played the role of town crier by posting a call for arms in the Old School Gamers group on Facebook. The opening thread, which can start out a little slow, always ramps up fairly quickly as the ideas start to flow.

Good ol’ Zoe got the ball rolling with a wondrous item suggestion: a Bag of Tricks. Then fellow gamer, Andy, piled on by suggesting a pipe as the delivery mechanism (instead of the bag) – brilliant!

Maniacal Mechanics
Magic items are way, way more fun when their properties have a bit of Jekyll & Hyde effect to them (remember the mantra – suspense). The creator doesn’t have to go overboard but something like rolling a one on a ten-sided die is a great “oh no” backfiring mechanism.

With this one, Ben is actually going to make the danger (summoned monster attacks castor vs. enemy) initially 4/10 but ultimately decreasing to 1/10 as the caster becomes a better puffer.

Another key component is casting time. Equipping a pipe, lighting it and taking a few good puffs are all considered full round/standard action to cast. It’s a minor to maintain it. A head shot on the caster will dislodge the pipe and end the spell.

When lit, a few strong puffs on the pipe will deliver a cloud of smoke which will ultimately form a random monster silhouette. The next round it takes physical form and can attack.

Other key stats include:

  • Range: 2 squares
  • Duration: hit points
  • Chance of turning against you: 4 in 10 (but decreasing odds as used)
  • Attack: Closest enemy to caster.
  • Doses: Up two casts per day.
  • Monster level: 1-3 (15-25 HP-ish)
  • Monster type: random table roll

As usual, the Pipe’s characteristics must be discovered and learned. Thus, Ben made two forms of the item card: a DM version and a Player version.

Monster Minis
There are eight possible spawn results. Animals will dominate this monster mash up but likely candidates include: a Cave Bear, Cougar, Giant Frog, Dire Badger, Crow and Giant Ant.

A few elementals including a Flaming Sphere and Earth Elemental will round out the random results table.

Item Expansion
What ultimately separates a good magic item from a great magic item is its ability to evolve. The summoned creatures aren’t smart enough to listen to the piper’s direction. One will need to obtain a speak/handle animal power to unlock that strategic combat nugget. The pipe is also fueled by an uncommon form of tobacco – certainly more exists somewhere. These two interesting characteristics make for fun future treasure hunts.

That’s it for this week. See ya next time.

Side Note: “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” artwork by the talented Fi-Di.

Questions to Ponder: Did we miss any magic item traits? What mechanic did we get wrong? What monsters would your version summon? What format would you have used instead of a pipe? Have you ever used a Bag of Tricks?

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