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Old 01-21-2014, 01:15 PM   #11
Icelander
 
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

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Originally Posted by zorg View Post
What you absolutely need:

a) A tarnished bronze lamp.

b) An iron bottle, covered in runes, with a stopper bound in gold wire.

Putting a djinn inside might be a tad obvious, but tempting abilities with drawbacks, or just plain weird, spooky or dark powers might be appropriate.
Djinn might be rather over-played, yes, but what about a prince of the Ifrit, dark and terrible, all shadow and flame? Bound by a mighty sorcerer of a small Rauric successor state and even Abu Jafar had the good sense to leave him in his prison...

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The bottle might contain a sandstorm, which can be released and then banished again by putting the stopper back. It might contain the hot desert wind which dries up any water, causing watering holes and wells to dry up. It might hold swarms of locusts. It might even contain the black miasma which brings plague, though that should be pretty obvious from the runes, or else it would be a bit mean on the PCs.
The hot desert wind makes for a nice image, especially since a large part of why the PCs sought out and killed Sheikh Jarir is that one of his nicknames is 'The Desert Wind'. This infuriated Rasul Khamsin Mubtasim, The Smiling Desert Wind, who feels that the only raider of the desert who has a claim to that name is his own self. The fact that he has been believed deceased for a century is no excuse for stealing his cognomen.

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The lamp could bring light, in that it causes the sun to stay up (with little control over how long this effect works - not too pleasant in the desert). Its light could cast shadows which foretell the future, or which show past or present things. It might be that by its light, you can see buried bodies, or maybe the souls of the dead, or into the Beyond. The lamp, when lighted, could attract demonic desert-beings, intent on taking the lamp to their master/home plane/office building.
Foretelling the future is good. Demonic desert-beings are also good.

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Indeed, the setup looks like a perfect excuse to go all baroque on your players!
If any baroque is to be brought, I have a strong suspicion that the PCs have already brung it.

One PC is a former desert raider, freedom fighter and devil-may-care bandit legend; Rasul Khamsin Mubtasim, the Smiling Desert Wind, Al-Andalib al-Asmar (The Dark Nightingale), Al-Tawil (The Tall One), Sayf al-Murghom (The Sword of Murghom) and Abu Dhubab (Father of Flies).

He has other nicknames, but we will not speak them here, as they are in the languages of devils, from the hellish plains of Gehenna and the eternal battlefields of Avernus, whence he was dragged a century ago, after making a pact with a fiend to gain the power he needed to take his vengeance on the Empire of Mulhorand. As those who deal with devils inevitably learn, their promises are double-edged, and payment came due before Rasul had freed his people or brought down the powerful Empire.

Now his servitude is up and he has come back to his desert homeland to wreak his vengeance on Mulhorand, the suzerains over his fatherland of Murghom. To effect that vengeance, he has placed his sword at the feet of a descendant of his own House, now a powerful Viceroy fighting for a foreign Merchant House and mercenary group in Free Unther, the last remnants of the latest realm to taste the imperalistic fervour of Mulhorand.

The Smiling Desert Wind is supernaturally tough and fast, skilled as only a warrior who has fought in the greatest war of all existence for more than a century can be and can call upon some of his old infernal allies in a pinch. In fact, last session the player decided to call upon a demonic invasion to direct against an important border fort in northern Mulhorand, using Super-Effort, even knowing that the Backlash stands an excellent chance of killing him and that the thousands of devils that might answer the summons will roam freely and kill innocents as well as his enemies.

Ah, Obsession! Thy name is a PC.
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Old 01-21-2014, 01:38 PM   #12
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

The Cloak of the Jackal:
Another of Abu Jafar's items, this is exactly what it sounds like: a cloak made of jackal skin. When worn, it grants Reduced Consumption (Cast Iron Stomach), and makes the wearer immune to harm or damage from any natural heat. It also inflicts OPH:Eats raw Carrion, good for a -3 to reactions from anyone who sees you eat and a general -2 due to the vile halitosis it induces.
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Old 01-21-2014, 04:50 PM   #13
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

OK, here's a few more:

Despoiling Bean: These small, dried pods react violently on contact with water, producing enormous quantities of choking algae. Limpid pools instantly become fetid swamps, and even rushing rivers are easily clogged. In temperate climes this is usually temporary, but in drier areas there may not be enough water to flush away the gunk. Aqueducts and wells are especially vulnerable.

Sand Shaper: This array of jagged metal rods is mounted on an arcane system of gears and axles, big enough it has to be moved by ox-cart. When powered (usually by draft animals harnessed to a wheel, but potentially by windmill or some more exotic source of motion) the rods whir to and fro, and crackling arcs of lightning leap across the machine. Loose sand in the vicinity flows into a shape determined by the arrangement of rods - it's currently aligned to produce a small encampment of perhaps 30 huts surrounded by a two meter high wall, with the device in the center. It could probably be rearranged, if anyone could figure out how it works. Once the final shape of the sand has been reached the structures are stable over the short term and the device can be powered down, but moisture weakens the structures substantially - humid air will collapse buildings in minutes, a splash of liquid will disintegrate whole buildings on contact.

Desert Striders: A sand-aspected version of a common sort of enchanted footwear, with a twist. Wearing these boots grants Terrain Adaptation (sand), negates any movement penalties due to unstable footing in the desert and enable the wearer to hike and run on sand as though it were packed earth (for the purposes of calculating miles traveled per day, etc.). In addition, the boots allow the wearer to 'ski' on sand dunes with speed and handling similar to actual skis on snowy hills.

Carrion Maw: An enormous skull, probably giantish, which has been worked into an goblet/cauldron. It has brass fittings and accents, including a drain in the bottom of the cup which leads out the nasal passageways. It is useful in many ritual magics which require a cauldron, and is a superb specimen of such thaumatological gear (for whatever that's worth). It's got a special enchantment on it, too: when blood is poured into the cup, a brief spell recited (several versions of which are helpfully carved into the bowl itself), and the spigots opened, the contents of the cauldron issue forth from the nose-holes at great speed, becoming a swarm of pestilent creatures. Flies and locusts are popular, of course, but with enough blood the cauldron can even produce packs of wild dogs or flocks of crows. All such creatures are, naturally, blood red (often flecked with black or green inclusions), and dissolve into goo when destroyed.

Razorthrift: A light scimitar, matte black everywhere but its gleaming edge (which glints even in perfect darkness). Any attack which would cripple the target instead automatically dismembers the relevant body part - a solid hit to any extremity separates it cleanly. On the plus side (for the diminished victim), such wounds bleed very little. Season with damage and holdout bonuses to taste.

Heart of the Lion: This desiccated heart of a desert lion allows the user to track prey across even the featureless sand. The tracker cuts himself and douses the heart in his blood (1 HP should do), while whispering the name of his prey (either human or animal, the heart works on any living thing). The heart beats in his hand, acting like a dowsing rod - getting faster and louder as it approaches its target. When the target is dead, the heart expels the blood sacrifice with its last beat, becoming dry and lifeless again. If it is possible to give up a hunt before killing the target it's not clear how this would be accomplished - the heart can track one thing at a time. If the user specifies an animal by species name, the heart 'locks on' to the nearest animal that meets the description at the time of the ritual. Sentient beings can only be specified by name. Edit: Of course the heart is already 'attuned' when the PCs find it. Probably to some sultan or someone of import.
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Old 01-21-2014, 05:14 PM   #14
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

Power Stones are always good.

A Cornucopia quiver that gives out Blank Spell Arrows is useful, just remember to figure out how many energy points the Spell Arrows can hold.

Something from Whateley Academy: power gems, gems that are an ER reserve with Gadgets limitation and normally stealable
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Old 01-21-2014, 06:08 PM   #15
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

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Power Stones are always good.
In-setting, they are actually an exotic style of magic. Ordinary mages use spell-specific magical components, not omni-purpose power stones.

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A Cornucopia quiver that gives out Blank Spell Arrows is useful, just remember to figure out how many energy points the Spell Arrows can hold.
That's a tremendously powerful item, but it's not all that flavourful. Useful, yes, but rather bland. In any event, bows and arrows were an infantryman's weapon and thus fairly common and uninteresting in most of the nearby cultures until just a generation or two ago, when mounted archers became fashionable. Even so, very few people are capable mounted archers.

The Sheikh and a few of his men were, but any ancient and powerful weapons they'd have looted from tombs are much more likely to be spears, javelins, swords, axes and maces than they are to be bows and arrows. And while Abu Jafar and Al-Warrakh could certainly have crafted bows and arrows for their master, neither of them was such a master of meta-magic that he could easily have crafted such a Cornucopia Quiver without taking an unreasonably long time to do so.

Better craft something less versatile that can be turned out more quickly, I should think.

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Something from Whateley Academy: power gems, gems that are an ER reserve with Gadgets limitation and normally stealable
Gem magic is practised in this part of the world, so I could see that.
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Old 01-21-2014, 06:12 PM   #16
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

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Originally Posted by Dalillama View Post
The Cloak of the Jackal:
Another of Abu Jafar's items, this is exactly what it sounds like: a cloak made of jackal skin. When worn, it grants Reduced Consumption (Cast Iron Stomach), and makes the wearer immune to harm or damage from any natural heat. It also inflicts OPH:Eats raw Carrion, good for a -3 to reactions from anyone who sees you eat and a general -2 due to the vile halitosis it induces.
Ewww.

Not that I imagine Abu Jafar had much use for such a cloak, as he prefered to stay in the Grinning Skull Oasis, where he ate well.* He could have made them for trailblazers, scouts and explorers among the band, especially if they also reduce the need for water intake.

*Note to self, there must be sufficient magical means of food storage, growth, creation and/or transport to ensure a plentiful supply of fresh and delicious food at the oasis. The bandits no doubt kept animals for meat as well as work, but the oasis was probably not large enough to keep them all in fresh meat year round.
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Old 01-21-2014, 06:14 PM   #17
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

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Edit: Of course the heart is already 'attuned' when the PCs find it. Probably to some sultan or someone of import.
No, in fact it would have been attuned to Rasul Khamsin Mubtasim, one of the PCs, whom Abu Jafar had divined to be the slayer of Sheikh Jarir's nephew.
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:21 PM   #18
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

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Ewww.

Not that I imagine Abu Jafar had much use for such a cloak, as he prefered to stay in the Grinning Skull Oasis, where he ate well.* He could have made them for trailblazers, scouts and explorers among the band, especially if they also reduce the need for water intake.

*Note to self, there must be sufficient magical means of food storage, growth, creation and/or transport to ensure a plentiful supply of fresh and delicious food at the oasis. The bandits no doubt kept animals for meat as well as work, but the oasis was probably not large enough to keep them all in fresh meat year round.
I was considering a vulture-feathered cloak that allowed Winged Flight, and gave one of Acute Vision or Acute Smell and had the same drawback, but then I realized you'd said bustards, not buzzards, and the former aren't very good flier nor notable carrion eaters.
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:25 PM   #19
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

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I was considering a vulture-feathered cloak that allowed Winged Flight, and gave one of Acute Vision or Acute Smell and had the same drawback, but then I realized you'd said bustards, not buzzards, and the former aren't very good flier nor notable carrion eaters.
Oh!

So I did. I meant buzzards, though. Well, general carrion-birds, vultures and anything flying that might eat people who die in the desert. I'm guessing he was really fond of the black vulture (Aegypius monachus), if we have to get specific.
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Old 01-21-2014, 09:06 PM   #20
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Default Re: Treasure from the Sheikh of the Grinning Skull Oasis

In that case, the Vulture Cloak does seem thematically appropriate. It's similar to the Jackal Cloak, but give Winged Flight instead of Immunity (Heat), and is thus a more powerful item. Anyone who wears it for more than a month also goes completely bald. I have it in my head that a taste for carrion is a very common (maybe universal) side-effect of Abu Jaffar's enchantments, due to the nature of his magic.
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