Tag Archives: item

Elemental Binding Collar – Inspired by the Abhorsen Trilogy

Inspired by the collar that bound Mogget, a Free Magic Elemental into the service of the Abhorsen in the form of an adorable white cat (at least when Sabriel met him), this could definitely be an alternative way for a Magic-User (or any character) to adopt a Familiar of sorts.

Before being applied to an Elemental, the collar appears as a fairly plain steel ring. On closer inspection, etched runes of binding, service, and holding, can be read around its circumference. The ring can be worn on one’s finger and doesn’t count against the number of magical rings one can wear since it doesn’t provide any inherent bonuses to the wearer.

When the wearer holds the ring and speaks the command word, the ring quickly expands into a steel hoop with bright runes spinning around its circumference. The hoop can be expanded to any reasonable size required by the user. The hoop will also retract back into a ring with another use of the command word or after a few hours, if not used. The hoop will not expand against a solid object or fast enough to cause harm.

Once placed around or under an elemental, the hoop will quickly retract around the elemental’s form. As a general rule, elementals with 8 HD or less can be bound in 1 round, 9 to 12 HD in two rounds, 13 to 16 HD in three rounds, and 16+ HD in four rounds. On the first round, the elemental receives a Save vs Death at a -4 penalty to resist the effect and remove the hoop. On the second round, it receives another Save vs Death, but at a -8 penalty. If that fails, the process cannot be stopped. The elemental is likely to panic and attempt to flee or to spend its last few round attacking the one who placed the collar on it.

As the hoop constricts, it forces the elemental into a new, benign form, often an animal. When the process is completed, the new form appears as an ordinary creature of its type, though it is capable of speech and of a random gender, and wearing a leather collar around its neck (the collar could be a particular color depending on the type of elemental). Hanging from the collar is a small steel bell, enchanted, that helps keep the elemental bound whenever it rings. A round after the transformation is complete the creature coughs up another Elemental Binding Collar in its ring form. Both the leather collar and the ring bear the same magical rune to indicate that the two are connected.

It’s worth noting that the leather collar is merely an illusion. The collar cannot be broken with a weapon, it will not degrade over time, and it cannot be removed by the transformed elemental alone. Someone must choose to undo it and take it off. If the leather collar is ever removed it dissolves into smoke immediately and the elemental will be released over the course of 1 round.

The collar reverts back into the original ring form and one of these things will happen:

  • The ring will return to the hand of the person who had bound the elemental, unless they are dead or not on this plane.
  • The ring will return to the hand of the person who unbound the elemental, unless they are dead or not on this plane (extraordinary bad timing).
  • The ring will appear within 2′ of the elemental and clatter on the floor; it may be lost!

How the ring gets there is up to the DM

At this point, the runed ring can be turned into the hoop and used to rebind the elemental. The ring will not respond to the command word before then.

The bound elemental in its creature form will be helpful to the owner of the ring, if not friendly, and will not willingly harm its master. Though it lacks any of its previous offensive capabilities but it retains its knowledge, personality, and ability to speak all languages it might know. When asked questions or asked to perform tasks, it will answer truthfully and act properly (if begrudgingly). The bound elemental retains its HD and Saves, but its AC, forms of attack, and special abilities are that of the new creature. Any magical powers the new form would normally have are not available. (For example, an elemental bound into the form of a Small Dragon (HD 3) would have a breath weapon. Turned into an Imp, it would lack any of the spell-like abilities, but keeps the poison tail attack)

The form the elemental takes could depend on the type of elemental, a particular collar may always turn an elemental into a particular creature, or each binding transforms an elemental into a random creature; it’s up to the DM. Needless to say, the type of creature will be appropriate to its environment (that is, its new form can swim and breathe water if it’s underwater and so on).

Next week, I’ll post a random table to determine what form a bound elemental might take.


Lockpicks, Theives’ Tools, and Keys – Part 1

Want to give your Thief, Assassin or Monk more options for opening doors? Missing someone with the Pick Lock skill altogether?

In Part 1 and 2, I’ll present some Thieves’ Tools and magical keys for use by all classes that can make use of them. If you have any other suggestions for interesting tool sets, please add them into the comments below!

Crowbar / Prybar:

While not a terribly complicated tool, the crowbar a staple of low-level thieves, fighters who neglected to hire a thief, burglars, and graverobbers. Its use is fairly simple: wedge the bent end under what you need moved and push down.

The crowbar grants a +1 to STR checks (a d6 rolls) to open doors and chests of all kind. It’s also significantly quieter than simply applying one’s weapon, boot, or shoulder to the problem, though not as quiet as a lockpick, of course. If the STR check should come up with a natural 6 (an automatic failure), the crowbar has snapped or bent far out of shape and is useless until repaired. Trying to use it again might result in success, but the crowbar will break beyond repair regardless of the outcome.

Masterwork Thieves’ Tools:

These tools were crafted by the ancient artisans employed by the Thieves’ Guilds of the Elves or Dwarves. Each set consists of a wide variety of perfectly honed tools made of adamantium and mithril. Flawless crystal lenses and razor sharp wire-cutters make this kit invaluable in unlocking the toughest of locks and disabling the most ingenious trap mechanisms.

Masterwork Tools provide a +10% bonus to pick locks and to disable (but not to locate) traps, including magical traps.

Assassin’s Tools:

These tools were created by the Unseen Brotherhood and are enchanted with shadow magic. Each set is needle-sharp, incredibly precise, and durable.

Immediately after making a successful Pick Locks roll on a door, the user may attempt to enter the room. He gains +15% to Hide in Shadows and Move Silently rolls to pass through and close the door behind him unnoticed. This effect must be used immediately or be wasted. This effect cannot be used on the same door more than once in a 24 hour period.

“As soon as the lock gently clicked open, the assassin vanished like a swift shadow.”

This set can also hold up to six doses of poison and specialty tools for applying and deploying these poisons safely. If the character is an Assassin already, the set doesn’t provide any special benefit, since he already uses poisons safely. Normally, when applying a poison to a weapon or otherwise using a poison, a d20 roll of 1 results in exposure to the poison, forcing a Save vs Poison. When the set is used, it grants a second Save vs Poison roll to prevent damage or death if the user is exposed. Note that one doesn’t receive this bonus when one rolls a natural 1 to hit with a poisoned weapon and is exposed, only when applying a poison to a weapon with the help of this set. If found, Assassin’s Tools are 50% likely to already have 1d6 doses of random poisons as part of the set.

Find / Remove Trap rolls made to set or create a trap using these tools gains one of the following without increasing the trap’s cost or difficulty:

  • +15% chance to be set up correctly
  • +1 to the trap’s THAC0
  • +1 die of damage
  • -2 to a single Save associated with the trap

Goblin Thieves’ Tools:

While the tools are typically made of scrap metal and carved bits of bone, they are oddly durable. In fact, the types of tools included in this set suggest a focus on bypassing, rather than disabling traps. Due to their crude nature, Goblin Tools can also be disguised as little more than utensils and food scraps.

The Thief can make a Sleight of Hand check to hide this kit amongst his belongings, though he runs the risk of it being thrown out as garbage if it’s found.

The set also provides a +5% bonus to disable mundane traps, but no bonus against magical traps. When he disables a mundane trap, he may make a separate Remove Traps roll at half the normal chance in order to bypass the trap. Failing the roll just means that he disabled the trap and cannot bypass it. As soon as he and any allies have passed through the trap, he can arm it again in no time. He can also disarm or bypass the trap later without any difficulty.

Tools of Balance:

Created by the monk-scholar Hoisen Uldamar, who spent long years as an adventurer tracking down relics for his monastery, this tool set is enchanted to help maintain a karmic balance for its user.

Whenever a lock is picked that is trapped (that is, the lock itself, the door, or the container) with a mechanical or physical device whose presence has been undetected, there is a 50% chance that the trap will be disarmed instead of the lock being picked using the same Pick Locks roll for the Remove Traps roll. Regardless of success, the lock become unpickable by the owner of this set (the lock now confounds his efforts).

The bearer of this set of tools also gains the benefit of +5% to Climb Walls and +1 on DEX checks (+2 on DEX saves) to stay upright on a slippery or narrow surface.

As a special feature, a Monk using these tools will become aware if a particular use of his thief skills will have serious repercussions on his alignment.

Spellthieves’ Tools:

Created by shadowy Conclave Spellthieves, they make it very easy for a thief with a talent for magic to safely break into any location protected by magical wards and steal their secrets.
Spellthief tools grant a +10% chance to find and disarm magical traps, even ones that would normally activate as soon as they are read.

Once per day, the Thief can channel a spell through his lockpick. He may also expend any prepared Level 3 spell in order to mimic a Knock spell.

A special crystal eye-piece can be used to cast Read Magic at will.

Part 2

Creating, Buying, and Selling Magic Items

Creating magic items in Labyrinth Lord is, unfortunately, one of the least defined activities in the game. The books propose 500gp / spell level and 1 week of crafting time per 500gp of value. The difficulty is that not everything uses a spell that is so easily defined. It’s also very tricky to work out exactly how appropriately expensive or time-consuming an item should be. Things like wands, staves, and rods come to mind as being difficult to price. Weapons and armor are also somewhat troublesome to figure out a spell-level for.

I must also wonder at how magic items might be purchased. If an item costs 1000gp and 2 weeks to create, should it cost 2000gp to buy it? Also, in the AD&D DMG, magic items also come with an xp value that is often not the same as it’s sell value. Should Labyrinth Lord players gain xp from finding items, just from selling them, and should the amount be the same as the gold amount it sold for?

I’ll cover my proposed gold values for various magic items in the coming weeks. In the meantime, I came up with a way to create magic items a little bit earlier in a player’s career and make it a little safer.

Magic Item Creation in General:

Creating magic items requires that the creator be able to use magic. Magic-Users, Clerics, and Druids are obvious examples, but a Paladin or Ranger could potentially create some magic items.

One does not need to take a profession or secondary skill in order to create a magic item (like being a blacksmith to make a magic sword or an alchemist to make a potion). In these cases, it’s assumed (or it can be roleplayed) that needed items can be bought. Of course, the DM might decide that some rare component might need to be found or procured in some other way.

It’s also assumed that the character has knowledge enough to create the item. He knows what rituals and formulae go into creating a magic shield. An understanding and dabbling in alchemy is also a requirement of the arcane arts. Of course, the DM might decide that the character needs to be acquire or rent the appropriate facilities for magic item creation (a specially equipped smithy or a laboratory, for example).

In general, the character needs to be able to cast the spells used in the creation of the item. It’ll be up to the DM to allow or deny the use of outside casters, but they should be very expensive. Scrolls containing the spell cannot be used, but a wand or staff could be completely expended (reducing it to a non-magical item) if it’s used instead of the caster’s own abilities.

If the item does not use any appropriate spell (such as creating a Sword +2), the caster should have three levels per bonus on the item. Deciding what else other than a straight + constitutes as a “bonus” and by how much is also tricky.

As a Paladin or Ranger, one’s caster level starts when one gains casting abilities. Similarly, if the character is using one of the secondary professions from this blog, one can have an effective caster level used for creating specific magic items without the use of spells.

Item Creation and Chance of Failure:

Briefly, if one is using one of the secondary professions that grant the ability to create magic items, one generally has to make a successful Skill check for its construction. The rules below are for casters creating magic items outside of their skill set.

There is a chance of failure when creating magic items. This could be the result of inexperience in making that type of item, improper use of the rituals involved, an inappropriate distraction, or the quality of materials proved to be insufficient. In all, there are many reasons why item creation might fail. It’s unfortunate when all that time and gold have been lost, so perhaps some secondary benefit could occur out of the failure. I’ll try to post some alternatives to complete failure in the coming weeks.

  • The base chance for item creation failure is 15% at level 9.
  • This increases by +10% for each level below 9th (up to 95% chance of failure for 1st level characters).
  • The chance lowers by -1% for each level above 9th (to a minimum of 5% at level 20).
  • Optionally, the creator may make an attribute check, using a d6, based on his primary mental stat, to reduce the chance of complete failure by 5% per bonus on that stat (minimum 5%) and reducing the time required by 1 week per bonus (minimum 1 week). Failing the check means the chance of failure is doubled (up to 100%) and the time required increased by 25%.
  • If the failure check falls into this grace chance, only partial failure occurs. This means that the cost and time required increase by 25%, since some materials were ruined.
  • The time and material must be spent immediately or the item is ruined.

Example: Gerald the Stupendous is a 9th level Magic-User creating a Pearl of Power 3 (6,000gp and 6 weeks). He has a chance of failure of 15%. He also has an INT of 17, so he decides to try to reduce the time and chance of complete failure. He fails the roll, however, and after 7.5 weeks, his chance of failure is 30%. His next endeavor is Gloves of Dexterity (10,000gp and 10 weeks). He attempts to reduce the time and chance of failure again and succeeds. After 8 weeks, he rolls his chance of failure, which is normally 15%, so only a 5% of complete failure (01-05) and he has a 10% grace chance (06-15). Bad luck strikes again and he rolls a 13, within his grace. All is not lost, however. Gerald spends another 2,500gp and 2.5 weeks repairing the damage and completing the Gloves.

The Actor’s Ring

It’s also been called the Ring of False Disguises, the Bad Liar’s Ring, and the Ring of Terrible Acting.

This cursed ring is made of gold or platinum and shaped like two actor’s masks: one happy, the other sad. In the eyes of the happy mask are diamonds and in the eyes of the sad mask are black diamonds. To every magical test except putting it on, it appears to be a Ring of Human Control.

When worn, the ring makes the wearer think that they have been transformed into a different race of creature, usually humanoid. However, no such change has occurred and the character appears as they always did. (The ring will resize automatically to fit any finger or suitable appendage.)

Not only that, but they believe they are an attractive member of their new race and that every quality of their new race is better than the old one. Despite the fact that the character’s size, modifiers to base stats, and racial abilities (like Darkvision, for example) are still the same, the wearer will find any excuse to rationalize it as ‘better’. In short, the wearer enjoys his ‘new’ form and will react strongly should someone try to take the ring from him. In any case, the ring cannot be removed except by casting a Remove Curse spell on it, but they will still need to steal, convince, or trick the wearer into giving it up.

If the ring is worn by a member of the same race the ring ‘transforms’ its wearer’s into, nothing happens except that the wearer has a vague sense of unease and duality. The ring can be removed without difficulty in that case.

The wearer’s effective CHA is now -4 lower when interacting with most members of the race the wearer claims to be and with the wearer’s previous racial group.

Though not a magical compulsion, some of the previous owners of this ring had it for so long before it was taken or lost that they cannot bear being in their old body again and desire to get the ring back.

If you wish to randomly determine which race the ring ‘transforms’ its victim into, roll a d10:

  1. Human (local ethnicity)
  2. Human (other ethnic group)
  3. Elf
  4. Dwarf
  5. Halfling
  6. Gnome
  7. Half-Orc
  8. Centaur
  9. Ogre
  10. DM’s choice; or open to a random monster entry and find the nearest intelligent creature entry.


The ring’s origins are obscure, since it’s not a terribly powerful or dangerous ring. All that can be known is the old legend of “The Actor and the Vizier”.

The story goes that the famous Actor, an Elf living in a decadent nation, asked the Vizier to make him a ring that would let him appear as and fully empathize with the character in his final play for the King; it was to be the part of a life-time. The ugly Vizier secretly hated the talented and popular Actor and wanted to ruin his final performance, so he created the Actor’s Ring. The Actor was delighted when he tried the ring on, believing himself to have transformed to look just like the Drow anti-hero he wanted to be. He resolved to remain in this form, no matter the cost, in order to submerge himself in his role. When he finally performed for the King, he refused any makeup from his confused staff and made the performance of a life-time. The inbred King, however, was very confused why the Drow character wasn’t played by a Drow or even looked like one. The Actor, insulted by the ignorance of the King, rudely tried to convince the King that he was, in fact, a Drow and couldn’t he tell? The King had the Actor killed on the spot for his insolence and the Vizier was later killed by the Actor’s furious troupe.

I had originally created this ring randomly for an Ogre’s treasure. I rolled a Ring of Delusion, then Human Control. It seemed kinda ridiculous and I was about to reroll, but it seemed too funny that an Ogre should think itself human.

Grash the Ogre was already an outcast from his people because he didn’t like the taste of man-flesh. He met a travelling Half-elf bard on the road (who thought himself to be human). The bard taunted Grash with silly songs until the ogre flew into a rage, caught him, and killed him. When Grash put the Actor’s Ring on, he was amazed to find that he was a tall, muscular and handsome human. Since he knew he couldn’t go back to his tribe now or ever, he headed to the nearest settlement. Of course, the people there feared Ogres and no amount of explanation would convince them he was one of them. The villagers drove him off with torches, rocks, and swords. Grash now wanders the countryside trying to find someplace that will accept him for who he believes himself to be.

Grash might be found randomly on the road; depending on his reaction check, he’ll either approach peacefully and ask to join their party or avoid the encounter (fearing the same violent reaction he always gets), but he’ll quickly become angry if his claim to humanity is challenged. If he’s found without his ring, he’ll lie and tell the party that he was human until an evil wizard turned him into an ogre with a magic ring and asks the party help him find it / get it back. Of course, there are a few small inconsistencies with his story: he talks like an ogre, he can’t explain why not having the ring is what turned him into an ogre, and the party might’ve heard rumors of an ogre wandering the countryside stealing sheep.