Magic Item Creation for RuneQuest

One thing I've always wished RQ had was some way to create magic items other than matrices and enchantments. Stuff like a +1 sword with a permanent Bladesharp 1 effect (i.e. +5% to hit and +1 damage; exactly equal to a +1 sword in D&D). Rather than add some entire new system, I've just worked out the following addition to the rules. It's just preliminary, so any feedback would be much appreciated. I'd particularly like suggestions for ways to use spell combinations to make interesting new items...

There are many Imbued items listed in the Chaos Project archives, and I'll be adding more to the active section as often as I can. Plus others have created Imbued items for the Project, which pleases me no end.

Magic Item Creation for RuneQuest - Spirit Magic

I. New Spirit Magic Spell: Imbue Enchantment (2-point ritual)
This spell costs two points of permanent POW to cast. It allows the spirit magician to impart a permanent spell effect to a material object. A successful Enchant skill roll is also required to cast the spell.

II. Creating a magic item: The caster must prepare the item by successfully casting Imbue Enchantment. Once successfully prepared, the caster places the essence of a spirit magic spell known to him/her into the prepared item by casting that spell using POW instead of magic points. Multiple spells can be cast into the object while it is being enchanted. Additional spells or levels of variable spells may be added later, but each new session requires that Imbue be re-cast, with the consequent sacrifice of two points of POW. Each casting roll must also succeed against the caster's Enchant skill.

An imbued spell covers the target item as the normal spell would, if the object is in the proper shape. Protect or Shimmer, for example, can be imbued into a complete set of clothes or armor if that outfit is being worn by someone when the ritual is cast. On the other hand, if a Shimmer spell were to be cast onto a sword, only that sword would be effected. In that case, the sword would be harder to strike for damage, and would also be harder to use and to parry. Unusual applications of spells can lead to strange objects.

These rules apply to temporal spells only -- see section IX, Instant Spells, for information about instant spells.

Example: Cirur the Sage wishes to create a magic sword. He casts the Imbue Enchantment ritual (expending two points of POW), on his sword, rolling under his chance to cast and his Enchant skill. He then casts Bladesharp 1 on the sword (expending an additional point of POW), again rolling under his (now-reduced) chance to cast and his Enchant skill. When finished, he has a sword which has a permanent Bladesharp 1 effect for a cost of 3 POW.

III. Variable Spells: Variable spells are handled in the same manner as normal spells, except that each "level" of the spell must be separately cast using POW. Thus, to create a +3 sword (permanent Bladesharp 3 effect), the magician would need to successfully cast Imbue (for 2 POW), then Bladesharp 1 (1 POW), then Bladesharp 2 (2 POW), and finally Bladesharp 3 (3 POW). If all rolls were successful, the magician has created a sword with a permanent Bladesharp 3 for a cost of 8 points of permanent POWer.

To complete the list, a +1 item costs 3 POW, +2 costs 5 POW, +3 costs 8 POW, +4 costs 12 POW, etc.

Note that a sword with multiple levels of spell may be created one (or more) levels at a time over several sessions, but the cost is higher. Every additional session also requires another casting of Imbue. This makes it more feasible to create a high-level magic item without having to sacrifice a huge amount of POW at one gulp.

Example: To create a +4 (Bladesharp4) sword in sessions:

Step 1: Imbue (2 POW), Bladesharp 1 (1 POW) = 3 POW total this session
Step 2: Imbue (2 POW), Bladesharp 2 (2 POW) = 4 POW total this session
Step 3: Imbue (2 POW), Bladesharp 3 (3 POW) = 5 POW total this session
Step 4: Imbue (2 POW), Bladesharp 4 (4 POW) = 6 POW total this session

Total cost: 18 POW (whereas if everything had been imbued in one session it would only have cost 12 POW).

If a different spell is added to a previously-imbued item, the effects of the spells are much less likely to merge -- see Section IV following.

IV. Combination spells/effects: It is possible to create unusual effects by combining two or more spells which are not normally combined. These results can vary, although it may be possible to create a ritual which produces reproducible results after much research. Results are determined by the GM. For example, combining Light with Fanaticism might produce a helmet which glows and causes Fanaticism in the wearer; or, a helm which causes Fanaticism only in darkness, or in the light; or some other reasonable effect.

NOTE: I'd like to add a lot more spell combination possibilities.

V. Quality: The quality of the item influences the chances of success. The chance of success is increased by +1% for each doubling of the value of the item, to a maximum of 20%. Example: if a dagger would normally cost 5sp, one created using a total of 10sp of materials would add a +1% chance to the caster's total chance of success; +20sp would add +2%, etc. Items which are free have no modification for success, barring GM's discretion.

VI. Drawbacks: An imbued item cannot be re-augmented by the same spell. A +1 sword will have no benefit from a later casting of Bladesharp 1; Bladesharp 2 is necessary to give it a total of +10% to hit and +2 damage, but it will return to +5%/+1 damage after the spell expires. Also, an imbued item is vulnerable to damage. It must make a resistance roll against any damage inflicted on it past 50% of its total armor points or else the magical effect is destroyed.

VII. Temporary/Perishable Items: Perishable/expendable items can also be imbued with spells. Some of this lore borders on alchemy. The procedure is the same as in Section II, except that 3d4 worth of charges or doses may be created per time the spell is cast, and variable spells need only be cast once at the highest level desired. Instant spells may be used in this type of enchantment. Example: For a cost of 2 POW (Imbue) plus 4 POW (Heal 4), 2d4 doses of Heal 4 potion can be created. Material components must be supplied -- matter is not created. Quality rules apply.

VIII. Charged Items: Items may be imbued with charges that are expended rather than permanent effects. The cost to create the item is POW equal to the maximum number of charges that it may hold, plus 2 POW for the initial imbuing. The procedure to charge the item is the same as for temporary spells (i.e., 2d4 charges per time that the spell is cast). It may also be possible to recharge a charged item by a ritual requiring a successful Enchant roll, and then casting the spell to be charged into the item six times for each charge created. Note that this is still a ritual, requiring a minimum of 1 hour. Any charges created beyond the maximum capacity of the object are lost.

Instant spells may be placed into an appropriately charged item normally.

Another advantage of charged items is that casting time is 1 SR.

IX. Instant Spells: Except for Temporary and Charged items, non-temporal (Instant) spells cannot be imbued normally. It may be possible to create magic items with the permanent effect of an instant spell -- for example, a magical bandage that Heals anyone who wears it -- but the creation of such items is a Heroic feat, and at a minimum would cost ten times normal POW cost to create.

However, it is possible that an instant spell might be added into a mix with one or more temporal spells to affect the outcome. See Section XIV: Philosophy for an example of this.

X. Attack Spells: Attack spells have an effective POW for the purpose of opposed resolution of the creator's POW at the time that the initial Imbue Enchantment was cast (before the initial 2 POW was expended).

XI. Conditions: All conditions which may be imparted to enchantments may also be imparted to Imbued objects.

XII. Divine Imbuement: Although I intend to write up a set of rules for Divine Imbue enchantments, until I do there's no reason not to use these rules with Divine Magic. The Divine Magic Imbue spell would be a two-point spell, reusable for priests and rune lords. The difference between this and the spirit magic spell is that multiple-level spells would not need to have each level "burned in"; Shield II take a total of four points to Imbue, unlike Protection 2 which costs 5. This means that high level Divine spell imbuement is more powerful and efficient than spirit magic imbuement. However, only reusable spells can be imbued -- once the priest or runelord imbues a spell, the knowledge is gone and mere praying will not recover it. They must sacrifice for the spell(s) all over again. The Imbue spell itself can be recovered by praying, however (although it still costs two points of POW to cast; perhaps the difference is moot).

Divine and Spirit magic may be combined by using a Divine Imbue spell. A spirit magic imbue cannot be used for Divine magic.

XIII. Notes: It was recently pointed out by a contributor to the Chaos Project that more than one kind of spell can be imbued into an object, or that different (even opposing!) spells can be imbued into two separate items that work together (a sword and a scabbard, in the example given). The interaction of the parts and spells allows items of incredible complexity and depth to be created, with enough imagination.

XIV. Philosophy: Since I've created several Imbued magic items for the Chaos Project recently, I've been thinking a lot about magic. For example, today I posted the Cool Vat; a container which uses Imbued Darkwall and Extinguish spells to create a magical thermos or refrigerator, of sorts. The Darkwall was obvious; with the dark side oriented towards the inside of the vessel, the inside would be completely sealed from light. But would it also be sealed from infra-red "light", that is to say, from heat? In that case, since the Darkwall is a one-way effect heat could still escape from the vessel -- but could only enter through the warmth of the sides of the container. The result, I suspected, would be a powerful cooling effect, maybe even a freezing one. Imbue a second Darkwall into the shape of the vessel and you might well be able to reach absolute zero.

But heat and light need not be the same thing in a magical world. They'd probably be closely associated by their most common primitive sources -- the sun and fire -- but might well be considered different "elements". So would a Darkwall shield against heat?

It could, I decided, if the ritual was designed to allow it to -- and if the caster believed in the ritual (and why should he not? It's a part of his normal reality, after all). Since magic is to some degree a product of the human mind and spirit, I'd give it a Berkeleyan quality: to some extent, it is what the user believes it is.

The same logic applied to the Extinguish spell which I added to the Cool Vat mix. Does Extinguish work by stealing energy from the flames (in which case, where does that energy go? Interesting question...)? Or does it simply suppress it? Or is a lack of oxygen involved? In that case, Extinguish might be useful to momentarily stun someone, or at least make them gasp for a breath. I decided that it could do any or none of these things, depending on the gamemaster -- but that there was enough flexibility in the concept to allow it to be used to enhance the cooling effect of the Darkwall.

Ultimately I decided that the Darkwall could not be a perfect shield against heat. However, the combination of Darkwall and Extinguish (1 or higher, depending on the level of coolness desired) could provide a cooling effect. Voila: we have a Cool Vat.

As always, I'd really like to hear from anyone with ideas about these rules, or magic items created with Imbue. Write any time!

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[email protected] Copyright 2000 by Peter Maranci. Revised: March 22, 2001. v.2.1