Thursday, November 14, 2013

Magic Items in a new light - the Investment ritual of Dragonquest

I have been charmed by all those who fondly talk about SPI's fantasy RPG, and with that glimmer in the eye mention it as the best game they've ever played. So far I have not yet played the game myself, but true to the odd kind of madness that sometimes descend upon me, I have bought not only one, but four copies of the rules! Now I'm reading them again, and began to think on how it differs from D&D.

Probably everyone have heard about delves into the hole in the ground, from whence they brave adventurers then emerge carrying a +1 sword. It's so much part of the tropes of the fantasy rpg these days. As I was sitting with The Haunted Halls of the Eveningstar, thinking about how to run a game in that setting with the Dragonquest rules, I came upon the iconic +1 sword. Now, how would that be modelled in DQ?

Well, I quickly found a spell for enchanting weapons, and it increased the chance to hit, and the damage. Basic and standard stuff. What made me think was the fact that this was a one use spell, and like it always is, the sword in the module was a permanent item.

I dived into the rulebook, and found the Investment ritual. With this you can "invest" a spell into an item so anyone can use it at a later date. Sounds great, right? Now, this is not a permanent item. No, it has a limited amount of charges, and let me tell you, it's not 50 like it is in 3rd ed. D&D! No, the rank the enchanter has gained in the spell is the limiting factor. After looking at some NPCs, and generating some characters of my own I feel fairly confident to say that an item with anything near 50 charges will be so rare as to be almost unique.

So, are there no permanent magic items in this game? Well, in a supplement that was written, but never published called Arcane Wisdom (which can be found by searching around a bit), they included the rules for a permanent investment. I just skimmed it to see if it did what I though it did, and did not check for how expensive it would be to learn. Probably quite. Just the fact that the ritual to create permanent items is not in the core rules felt significant.

Now, some of you might claim that even in, say, AD&D, it was no mean feat to permanently enchant an item. True, but you have noticed that there a dozens of them listed in the DMG, right? They are there, and everyone expect them to be around for the taking.

Now, imagine a D&D game where almost none of the magic items are permanent, and those with a limited amount of charges are likelier to hold 5 charges than 50. You will get a pretty different game!

Just imagine, and maybe try it out. It will be fun to try to run this game one day.


  1. It is always fun to reply to a post years after it came to be...
    The DQ investment is canon. Shaping Magics is not only in the legendary Arcane Wisdom book, but TSR included it in DQ 3rd edition core rules.
    It has been fun to read your insights!

  2. Thanks for your comment Deven! I monitor my comments feed so even comments on old posts will be read by me.

    Yeah, that's correct. DQ 3rd edition, which is one of the four copies I own, does indeed include stuff from Arcane Wisdom, like Shaping Magics.

    Happy to hear my musings was entertaining.

    Re-reading this post does bring back the feeling I got when I got that realization. A game with none or few permanent magic items would be very interesting...


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