NEW ARCANA FOR INTO THE ODD (d20)

NON-GONZO ARCANA FOR INTO THE ODD (or, D20 OSR MAGIC ITEMS)

I love, love, love Into the Odd! But I also really love the slightly more grounded setting of The Nightmares Underneath, and so when I set out to introduce my players to an OSR game, I decided to use Into the Odd rules in the Nightmares setting.

 

This means, however, that certain magic items (or "arcana" in Into the Odd terms) don't make as much sense in my game, since Nightmares Underneath posits a world where magic is a force that can be subjected to reason and used creatively. (As opposed to Into the Odd, where magic is weird, mysterious, and even inhuman.) So it felt out of genre to generate such Into the Odd arcana in chargen as the "Bone Magnet," "Miniaturisation Coil" or the "Mirror Engine." I also wanted abilities to have uncertain effects, so I wasn't personally crazy about the "Spider Skin," "Sunblessed Bands," or "Heat Ray," all of which seemed to be no different from a simple spell. What can I say? Everyone's taste is different.

So here is a table I've come up with to replace the chargen Arcana generation table in Into the Odd for those OSR campaigns that like giving players interesting tools instead of +1 swords or cloaks of invisibility, but who also want magic to be more of an arcane tool than a baffling weirdness. Use it if it works for you.

NOTE: I simply came up with ideas off the top of my head, so I may have copied other magic items from other sources without being aware of it.

  1. FROZEN STAFF. When this wooden staff is held and the command word written on it is spoken, it freezes in space and stays hovering at exactly the height and angle it was left at, not moving for any amount of force. (Though the staff itself can be shattered like any staff if enough force is applied to it.) Grabbing it and saying the name again frees it. 

  2. HAND MIRROR. A 1’x 1’ steel or glass mirror that creates a connection with any other mirror that the user can see, allowing anything entering one mirror to exit out the other…as long as it will fit. Large enough for a dagger, arrow, or an arm, but not for an entire person. 

  3. POCKET BREAD. This is a loaf of bread, faintly radiating magic, that can be torn open and used to store any single item that might fit in a loaf of bread (a dagger, a potion, a coin purse…). The item becomes weightless and undetectable until the command word is spoken, and the bread loaf reseals without any break. Also, the loaf is always in perfectly fresh condition and may be eaten, by accident or in an emergency, though it has no unusual nutritional properties, and this destroys the item.

  4. DETECTION TORCH. While lit, this torch has a 4 in 6 chance of generating blue flame when within 20 feet of magic or the undead.

  5. HEAVY BALL. A wooden croquet ball that may, at command, be increased in weight up to 100 pounds, as long as it’s within view of the user. It remains this heavy until the user dismisses the condition or loses sight of the ball.

  6. UNBREAKING ARROW. This arrow never breaks when fired (though it can be broken in other ways), meaning it can always be retrieved from a foe’s body, so a judicious archer need never fear running entirely out of ammo, as long as they keep an eye on at least this one.

  7. SUPPRESSANT DUST. When sprinkled on any surface, this dust prevents the surface from catching on fire. This includes pools of oil, but not pools of oil that are already ablaze. Also works on wood and paper. One pouch can dust a 20’ x 20’ area. Effects last a week. Sprinkling it on a living person makes them immune to fire, but only for 2d6+8 minutes. (It’s much better on unmoving surfaces.) Some versions also neutralize acid.

  8. TINCTURE OF STABILITY. Anying drinking this concoction becomes immune to any changes that would affect the shape of their body–including not only polymorph, but also druid’s wild shape, lycanthropic transformation, growth, shrinking, etc. (But not petrification.) If tossed on an ooze or other formless creature, the creature turns to fixed-shape flesh and cannot use any oozelike abilities for the duration. Lasts 8 hours.

  9. GLOWING CRAYON. A crayon or charcoal stick that draws in glowing lines at a distance of up to 20 feet. May be used to leave a message, outline a trapped area, mark a dangerous door, etc. 20 uses/crayon.

  10. ECHOING SKULL. A small hand-sized iron skull that can record any sound in its vicinity and play it back whenever the user desires, at any volume.  Can record up to a minute of noise. Background noises get recorded, too. May be commanded at voice range.

  11. WARNING GONG. A metal disk or disks on a necklace that make(s) a strong sound whenever potentially hostile life (dog-sized or larger) comes within 100 feet. The gong is loud enough to wake a sleeping person, but can be muffled with clothing, etc. Must be worn to work.

  12. TEMPERATE BRICKS. A set of 12 one-pound bricks that, when placed in their proper order in a 10’ circle, creates a 10 x 10’ area that is mild and temperate, regardless of the ambient temperature outside the circle. People may cross into and out of the circle, and the circle will work indefinitely in any environment — including hell, it’s rumored–but the effect ends when the bricks are physically disturbed or disrupted.

  13. TARGET DOLL. A clay or wood doll that, when held, takes on any adverse condition that would normally affect its bearer (paralysis, confusion, blindness, petrification), leaving the bearer unaffected. On a 1 on 1d6, the doll is destroyed in the process.

  14. MISSILE TIMER. An hourglass that, when activated and set upon a flat surface, makes all missile activity impossible in a 20-foot radius: arrows, sling bullets, thrown rocks, magic balls of ice…all freeze in place upon entering the zone, and fall straight to the floor when the spell is done. (Within the zone, such weapons never leave the user’s hands.) Energy attacks, like magic missile or fireball, are unaffected. Lasts up to an hour or until the hourglass is knocked over. 1 use/day.

  15. JEALOUS COIN. A bright gold coin that, when tossed in view of an opponent, compels all the 1d6 nearest enemy viewers who see it (and fail to save) to move directly toward it and be distracted for 1d3 rounds. Creatures noted for greed (dragons, goblins, etc.) get no save. Mindless creatures are not affected. 1 use/day.

  16. LIGHT OF LIGHTNESS. A candle that allows its holder to fly at a rate of 20’/round as long as the candle stays lit. Each round, roll 1d6. On a 1 (indoors) or 1-2 (outdoors), the candle goes out for the day. Can also be extinguished by water or high wind. Due to its unreliability, most users choose to glide close to the ground. 2d6+8 uses/candle.

  17. INVISIBLE ROPE. A completely invisible 50’ coil of rope. Useful for certain sorts of deception, but very easy to misplace. Paint, ink, and other markers tend to rub off it very easily.

  18.  JUMPING SHOES. Shoes that allow the wearer to jump up to 30’ straight up in the air or 60’ across. However, the shoes do not protect the wearer upon landing, so they must take 1d6 damage per 10’up/20’across they have just fallen. Thus, it’s better for jumping up and grabbing something (such as a ledge or a rope) than for leaping across chasms. (GM may choose to allow a DEX save to avoid damage, if you insist.)

  19.  JAR OF WASPS. Once per day, this large buzzing jar may be opened and a swarm of wasps set to attack a single target or to swarm in a single 10’ x 10’ area. Any creatures vulnerable to wasp attacks will be distracted and in pain for one round, and may attempt to stop the wasps(diving underwater, driving them off with a torch, etc.) in any rounds afterward. The wasps themselves are immortal constructs, so they cannot actually be killed. They swarm for up to six rounds. If the jar is broken for any reason, the wasps poison the nearest target and then fly away forever.

  20. CONE OF SUSPENSION. A simple device that resembles a caltrop. When activated, anyone stepping on or jumping over it will become weightless and be pushed upward 7 feet, where they will hover helplessly above the ground. Roll a high difficulty vs. lowest of DEX or INT to escape after the first round. Landing and recovering outside the cone also takes up a round. The effect ends if the caltrop is lifted off the ground or made to tumble in some way. 2 uses/day. 20 min. duration.

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