Monday, August 16, 2010

The Broach of Courage

One time when I was on the road for a project in northern Virginia, the guys and I were reminiscing about our old RPG days (little did I know some of my own best RPG days were still ahead). We were talking about Advanced D&D magical items, and I mentioned the slippers of spider climbing. The slippers are a real magic item, detailed in the Dungeon Master's Guide (1st Edition AD&D), but the guys thought I was mistaken and that I must have meant "boots," not slippers. From there we just started making fun of how effeminate slippers are for an adventure setting, and taking the thought a step further, my boss made up a new magic item: the Broach of Courage.

Right? Because what kind of bold, macho fighter dons a broach? How manly would that look? We all thought it was a hilarious idea and it became a bit of a running gag.

So now that I'm in the business of creating interesting and unique magic items for the kids' adventures, anything with a bit of a humorous element tends to go over big. So, without further ado, I give you The Broach of Courage (the following is Open Game Content according to the Open Game License):

The Broach of Courage gives you +3 to your charisma score, reflecting your improved confidence in dealing with people, monsters, and magic items.* This gives you bonuses on your rolls for skills such as bluff and intimidate, and allows sorcerers to use more spells. It also gives you +5 to any saves against fear-based spells or effects. So far, so good. The downside - and in my games, there's always a downside - is that you have to wear the Broach of Courage prominently in order for it to work. This has several interesting and undesirable side effects, specifically with human or humanoid creatures. First, you suffer a -2 penalty on diplomacy checks with these creatures, as they consider you an arrogant and insufferable prig. Second, if you and your party are involved in combat with human/humanoid creatures, they will seek to attack you instead of your friends to wipe that smug grin off your face. This is true even if it is in their best interest to attack someone else in the party: they must make a Will save against your new charisma score to resist this urge. Finally, humans and humanoid creatures with a charisma less than or equal to half of yours must make a similar save (Will +/- their charisma bonus vs. your charisma) or become obsessed with obtaining the broach for themselves.

Wearing the broach prominently also embarrasses your friends. I have some vague ideas about how to handle this during game play, but I'll leave it to other GMs to decide how to let this play out in their own games.

* In Pathfinder and later editions of D&D, charisma is more than just looks: it also reflects force of personality. This comes into play in numerous skills, but also with sorcerers' spellcasting abilities and using magic items. It makes sense when you think about how magic items can have minds of their own: you need a strong personality to bend them to your will.

1 comment:

  1. You could try and use that only attack you thing to your advantage by making yourself have really good defence or something.