Heroes of Barsaive
You may be looking for Legendary Items. In fact, you probably are.
Many of the magic items found in Barsaive are legendary items, created by the intersection of magic and powerful emotion. These items are the embodiment of a powerful story, and have internal reserves of power which can be tapped by learning that story, and connecting the Pattern of the item to your own pattern by tying the Threads together.
When first found, a legendary item functions as a standard magical item. However, after a few minutes of handling or examining it (the same procedure as used to discover an item’s magical properties), the examiner (if an adept or magician) gets a sense that the item has a story behind it, and knows that it is a legendary item.
Only an adept, magician, questor, or other entity with a powerful connection to fundamental forces can weave Threads to a legendary item. This includes all PCs and any appropriate NPCs or creatures. Each Thread woven to an item requires learning a specific aspect of the item’s story or performing a specific deed, and the expenditure of residuum in a special ritual. A person may have half their character level in Threads woven at any time.
The first Thread woven to an item usually requires knowledge of the item’s Name. Then, the character performs the Ritual of Weaving and expends residuum, and possibly learns what Key Knowledges or Deeds will allow him to weave future Threads. Skill checks may suffice to research the knowledges, but you must learn the Key Knowledges via magic. Key Knowledges are the questions you must answer, and Research Knowledges are the answers themselves. Occasionally, an item will not use its Name as the first key, and will be much harder to start working with.
The Ritual of Weaving is similar to other rituals, but functions differently in a number of key aspects. First, it can be learned by anyone capable of Weaving threads (and all PCs either start the game knowing it or can easily acquire knowledge of it). Second, the component cost varies by the item and Thread to be woven. Third, the skill check and DCs for the ritual result are determined not by the ritual, but by the item.
|Level: 2||Component Cost: Varies|
|Category: Weaving||Market Price: NA|
|Time: 1 hour||Key Skill: Varies|
|Duration: Until Unraveled|
If you know the appropriate Research Knowledge or have performed the appropriate Deed, you Weave the next Thread into a legendary item at the focus of this ritual. This consumes an amount of residuum specified in the item description, and changes the effective nature of the item when you use it. Additionally, you make a skill check (which skill is determined by the nature of the item), which may give you insight into how to Weave further Threads. The base DC of this check is the DC of the Thread rank that you wish to weave of the item, specific to each item.
|Check Result||Thead Key Knowledges|
|DC+10||Next Two Ranks|
|DC+20||Next Three Ranks|
Alternately, you may use this ritual to unravel all threads you have currently Woven to an item, which returns the residuum to you, and reverts the item to its original state. During a single character level, you may only use this ritual to Weave a thread once, and to unravel the threads of an item once.
If you don’t know the next Key Knowledge or Deed of an item, and didn’t learn it from Weaving the item, you must use other means to find it out. Skill checks are never sufficient to learn Key Knowledges, you must consult a professional sage or use divinatory magic. Of core rituals, Consult Mystic Sages is not appropriate for this purpose, since it can only duplicate skill check results (it can, on the other hand, help with Research knowledges). Consult Oracle works if someone else has Woven that Thread of the item; some items have never been fully Woven since their creation, and some items change in powers and Keys over time. Loremaster’s Bargain is usually successful if you can convince the entity to help.
Once you have the Key Knowledge, learning the Research Knowledge can be approached much the same way. Many Research Knowledges can be learned by skill checks, though the DCs are sometimes prohibitively tough. Consult Mystic Sages is more successful here, as well as the more powerful rituals. You may also conduct physical research in libraries, or find people who may just know the information and ask. Also, professional sages can answer these questions with rituals of their own.
Additionally, you can use the Probe Threads ritual, detailed below.
|Level: 5||Component Cost: Varies|
|Category: Weaving||Market Price: 360 gp|
|Time: 30 minutes||Key Skill: Arcana|
You perform this ritual on a Legendary item to determine the Key Knowledges or Deeds necessary to Weave Threads into it. This ritual must be performed in a place or in the presence of an object that holds significance to the Legend of the item. You then have the opportunity to make an Arcana check against the Key Knowledge DC of the item, with a bonus based on how significant or precise a location or item you have found.
An example of minor significance would be a public location the legendary figure used to frequent. Moderate significance would be the legendary figure’s home kaer, or neighborhood in which they were born. Major significance might be the figures base of operations or home during their legendary time. Immense significance would be the location in which the item was infused with Legendary power (often the location of the figure’s death). If you learn a Key Knowledge from this ritual, you have a +5 bonus to skill checks to remember the associated Research knowledge at that time.
The material cost of this ritual is one tenth the cost of a standard magic item of the items current level.
There are other rituals that may be helpful, summarized on the following table. This is not comprehensive, and the entries are not definitive, it is just a general idea of what rituals may help and how they work.
|Ritual||Key Knowledge?||Research Knowledge?||Other Benefits?|
|Consult Mystic Sages (Level 10)||No.||Yes.||Skill check modifiers.|
|Consult Oracle (Level 16)||Usually.||Yes.||Skill check modifiers.|
|Loremaster’s Bargain (Level 22)||Yes.||Yes.|
|Probe Threads (Level 5)||Yes, if with a sympathetic focus.||No.|
|Object Reading (Level 5)||Unlikely.||Maybe.||May give clues to use in research or other rituals.|
|Ancestral Whispers (Level 6)||No.||Yes.|
|Arria of Revelation (Level 10)||No.||Yes.||Skill check modifiers.|
Example In Play
So, as an example, Hector the warlord finds Kegel’s sword in the lair of a Horror. With a cursory examination after the battle, he determines it to be a +1 broadsword, and also more than that. He makes a dungeoneering check, and gets a 28. This means he has identified the sword by its appearance, and knows that it is Kegel’s Sword.
After he returns home from the adventure, he prepares the ritual. The first time, he doesn’t know how much residuum he needs, so he collects 2000 gp, an educated guess. He knows the Name of the weapon, so he is set to perform the ritual. During the ritual, he makes another dungeoneering check, and gets a 21. Now his weapon is a +1 flaming broadsword, he knows that the next Key Knowledge is the Name of Kegel’s beloved, and he needs 4500 gp in residuum to perform the next Weaving. Unfortunately, he fails on his Dungeoneering or History check to remember her Name, so he heads to Bartertown and Throal to find it out.
After doing a favor for an old dwarf in Throal, he learns the name, but he needs time to level so he has room for another Thread, plus to earn the money to Weave again. Eventually, however, he does so, and has another chance to learn the details of the next Thread.
Buying and Selling
Legendary items draw their power from the stories of their creation and use. A PC who wields such an item heroically adds to its story, and occasionally, its legend and power. Conversely, unheroic additions to the story of an item can weaken it. Adding to the story of an item “Then it was sold to a trader for much gold, who carried for months looking for someone with even more gold to take it off of his hands” is particularly unheroic, and can weaken the item. Buying or selling a legendary item when both parties are aware of its legendary status is even worse, as setting a numeric value on the heroic deeds of its creation irrevocably cheapens them.
This means that almost no-one willingly buys and sells legendary items. Most traders are not adepts, so would not know if they had one, but if told by a seller, will not make an offer to buy. Legendary items can be given as gifts, or compensation for great deeds safely, and can be traded among closely associated people (in the same family, adventuring party, or similar) where individual ownership is less clearly defined.
The rules governing this situation are as follows. No Legendary items are advertised for sale, so a PC cannot choose to buy one. It is possible, though vanishingly unlikely, that a PC may buy a normal item that turns out to be legendary. This happens solely at the DM’s discretion, and may never. If the party wishes to sell a legendary item, they may do so by treating it as its base, non-legendary equivalent, selling it to an unaware trader. There is no market for legendary items advertised as such.
Generally speaking, finding someone suitably heroic to trade a legendary item to is only viable if you already know a good candidate; making such an offer out of the blue is likely to weaken the legend of the item. Lastly, one can always disenchant a legendary item. This functions as per the normal disenchant item rules, though powerful legendary items may resist discorporation or have lasting consequences on those would end their story.