Ever since there have been tabletop roleplaying games for our imaginations to adventure in, there have been magical items to aid in that endeavor. But what if one of these treasures could also assist in our real life? Today, that question is posed as our guests respond to which single magic item they would want in the real world!
DovahQueen: Bend the Knee
Since 2015, the DovahQueen has been taking your questions and giving advice to improve your games. Now the tables are turned in this DovahQueen series; Loren is asking the questions and a panel of three guests—an RPG-industry veteran, a Know Direction network staff member, and a fan—answers. It’s time to Bend the Knee!
First, let’s meet today’s guests.
RPG Industry Veteran: Stephen Radney-MacFarland aka SRM
I’ve been chucking dice and making stories since those days portrayed in Stranger Things. Hell, I was basically Will, haircut and all, but without all the upside down nonsense. I started working in tabletop games in 2000 at Wizards of the Coast where I managed organize play campaigns, was on the team that developed D&D 3.5e, and served developer for D&D 4e and Star Wars Saga Edition among sundry other things. I’ve been working at Paizo for nearly a decade as a Designer and then the Senior Designer for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, but I’m about to strike out on my own, becoming a freelancer and dedicating myself to my new game—Delve.
A little known fact about me—I grew up with Satan. Really.
Know Direction Network Staff Member: Randal Meyer
I currently write world building blogs for Know Direction, alternating weekly between Groundbreaking (Pathfinder) and Terraforming (Starfinder), and I have my own blog that is getting neglected in favor of Know Direction. I have been playing TTRPGs (usually a DnD variant) since the 90s, most of which have been home-brewed campaigns as a GM. Outside of writing or playing games, I am constantly tinkering with the way in which I play games or interact with my game group, such as writing web apps or building a custom game table.
Fan: Matt Daley
I’m Matt Daley, writer for Legendary Games and Lost Spheres Publishing best known for the Arcforge and Star Empires lines. A youngster compared to much of the industry, I only began playing tabletop RPGs around 2012. I’ve certainly tried to make up for the late start, however. Beyond gaming, I dabble in a variety of other artistic pursuits ranging from comics to plays radio drama.
“You’ve been pulling long hours at work, and today was supposed to be your day off. Errands need to be ran; the bank, grocery, and tax assessor’s office all beckon. You get an early start, but decide there’s no reason you can’t treat yourself. The decision is made to alter your course so that your favorite coffee shop is your first stop. You arrive, open the door, and walk into a room that looks dramatically unlike the location you’re used to. Your barista is not here. Despite having no windows, the area is well-light be a multitude of colorful lights. Long silks hang from the ceiling and ornate wooden racks and shelves are organized on the floor in a configuration that resembles aisles. ‘Congratulations!’ a croaky voice beckons. A toad wearing pants walks upright towards you with a hearty smile. ‘You’re our fourty-twelve and eleventyith visitor! As such, you’re allowed one purchase today at 100% off! All that I ask is that you tell your friends to always shop at Samroald’s Travelling Emporium! You’ll have to hurry though; the way back home won’t remain open for long.’ As you look around, you notice that the store is full of armors, weapons, jewelry, clothing, knick-knacks, powder, potions, and all manner of whimsical objects. Behind you, daylight pours in through the glass door which bears the name of your intended coffee shop in mirrored letters. ‘Well, what’ll it be?’”
Samroald has every published magic item from every TTRPG ever made, and he’s going to let you take one back home with you to the real world. What do you take and why?
Stephen: I’m going to cheat a little. I’m going to take–we can’t really say purchase at a 100% discount…that’s a steal!—the adventurers’ vault. What is that? Well, it’s a pair of boxes that are connected through some sort of extradimensional space similar to one that empowers a bag of holding or a portable hole. In true TARDIS fashion, while the inside of these boxes are more spacious on the inside than they are on the outside, but they’re not by much. The exterior of the box is about a 1-foot square. The interior is about 6 feet long, but otherwise the same dimensions. So what makes it all different? Each side of the extradimensional space is connected to the lid of each pair of boxes. This allows the person with one box to open it, shove things inside, and then close the box and allows the person with the other box to open it, and grab the things the first person put inside.
The adventurers’ vault has been a staple in many of my campaigns when the characters decide to travel to far-flung vistas and is most useful when they decided to roam the planes. It’s a helpful way for adventurers to communicate and even gain much-needed equipment from their friends and patrons when they venture beyond the pale. Adventurers would often place notes in the vault to communicate with distant comrades, along with treasure that could be sold and replace with more useful gear, that would, in turn, be conveyed through the vault. On the off chance that both folks open the box at the same time, it even allowed for more direct communications, but this was harder said than done in a world that lacked compact and synchronized timepieces, and even harder with the erratic time syncs of alien dimensions. That and some of the more exciting twists occurred when enemies of the PCs got ahold of the vault’s connected box. Let me assure you, it was mayhem of the most devious order. Sometimes you just have to shake things up.
And wow-oh-wow, I could really use such convenience in my everyday life. I forget my keys or phone, it’s just a text and a shove rather than fighting traffic. But in the games I ran, the adventurers’ vault really did yeoman’s work in facilitating story and the kind of itemization customization that most players find pleasing for character development in specific systems.
So while not as sexy as the snicker-snack of a vorpal sword or the explosiveness of a necklace of fireballs, it’s incredibly funky practical. I like funky, practical magic.
So, why is this cheating? Well, because it was supposed to be published, but it never was. Back in my Wizard of the Coast D&D 4e days it was renamed and submitted as part of my Adventure’s Vault 2 turnover at my manager’s suggestion, but I guess the developers thought it was dumb or just couldn’t wrap their heads around the extradimensional nature of the items, and cut it was from the final book.
Such is life, but you can bet your favorite d20’s sweet 20th side it’s going to show up in Delve.
Randal: Every time I consider the possibility of obtaining a magic item in the real world, my mind instantly goes meta. “Wait, if this works, then magic is real. If magic is real, then I can become a wizard. If I can become a wizard, where do I sign up!?” I also realize that it might take me awhile to figure that out … years, decades, longer. I am already 40 years old, so I will certainly want to be able to add a few years (decades?, more?) to ensure that I can find a way to learn the basics and then stay alive to master all that I can, because, despite the quick progression our characters often make in games, the vast majority of wizarding lore shows that it is about hard work and dedication over time that makes a wizard powerful.
The current best answer to why our bodies break down as we age is that our cellular regeneration begins to falter and fail over time. The ability to regrow organs and limbs is surely the result of a better, stronger, if not perfect regenerative process. If the body is able to do that, even through magic, then there is no reason for that body to die of old age, cancer, or other process that breaks down the body’s inherent ability to heal or repair itself. Taking bits and pieces of actual science, some fiction, some science fiction, and a dash of lore, I feel like the answer to that longevity would be a ring of regeneration. And since we are working within the framework of any printed TTRPGs, Dresden Files lore states that a wizard’s body regenerates itself better over time than normal humans, which also fits with my thought process. And yes, in addition to wanting to live longer to study magic, I would have quite the collection of minor injuries that I would just love to have go away.
Matt: It would be easy for me to just grab one of many endless-food items and walk away happy. Alas, I have a little mantra I like to call “go big or go home”.
Now, there are a wide variety of magic items one could grab to ensure a life of calm and prosperity, and an even wider variety that would allow you to carve a warpath across reality (think about the average person’s saving throws. A lot of not-worth-it items become absolute nightmares). Quite a few magic items are powerful but are in some way gated by class abilities, and little old me definitely doesn’t have the Wizard levels or Use Magic Device skills to utilize a Staff of the Eldritch Sovereignty (if I did, you could be that it would be my choice). Quite a few others try to take control of you or kill you, and I’m too risk-averse to get anywhere near those.
My item of choice would probably be the Chronicle of the Righteous from the sourcebook of the same name, a magic book that gives me some darn powerful magical abilities (Greater Planar Binding and Summon Monster VII 3/day) while also informing me of the specific, objective nature of Good in the universe (giving me a leg up in pretty much every philosophical conversation I will have from this point onward). On top of that, I can literally make anyone into a better person by whacking them with this handy tome (again, the average person has a pretty poor will save).
A celestial army, a weapon that makes people better, and the moral high ground in literally everything I do from that point on. What’s not to love?
I’ve heard from my guest writers, but I want to hear from you. Which magic item would you pluck from Samroald’s shop? Leave comment below, on our Discord, or on Know Direction’s Facebook page.
Each Bend the Knee features three guest writers. One is from the RPG industry. Another is from the Know Direction network. The third guest could be you! Leave a comment on Know Direction’s Facebook, Discord, or Twitter, or you can send an email to DearDovahQueen@gmail.com for your chance to be featured on the next Bend the Knee or Dear DovahQueen.
Creative Commons credit: Homunculus Store by AldoK