Cursed Item

Discussion on game mastering Earthdawn. May contain spoilers; caution is recommended!
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Cursed Item

Post by Dale » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:01 pm

There was a post on the Earthdawn reddit and I finally did some explanation of a thing I've done to a couple of groups over the years. I know there is a bit more visibility and thought I'd share it here as well.

The question was asked about coolest thread item that we had come up with. I spoke about a thread item with a deeper, hidden true pattern that was more sinister than it first appears. They asked for some additional details and I provided. Below are my two posts from the thread where I describe it in general at first and then with more detail in the 2nd. There is some variety, but I've used this on three different groups at this point.

reference to post here

Post 1:

Magical items in Earthdawn are always awesome. I made an item based on a story I heard from a group I played with about a prior game. Food was a problem for the prior group. Making enough money to keep themselves fed on the road was a challenge. The GM finally gave them a mat that they could use to generate a meal once a day (based on plant feast as I recall). Once the group found it as they were getting into the more intriguing parts of their campaign. The group got it in their heads that the mat was cursed. They wanted to get rid of it, but it was their main source of food at that point. That story got me thinking about True Patterns and if it would be possible for a magical item to have a hidden true pattern beneath a fake one. Given the use of illusion magic I came to the conclusion it would be possible. I designed a magical dagger designed towards a wizard. It was a step or two "over powered" at each rank with a slightly higher than normal magical defense rating. The actual underpinnings involved an illusionist that worshiped a horror. The hidden pattern detection was 15 higher than the one I gave them for the normal bit. Detecting that would have opened up a whole host of amusement on my end as a GM.

Post 2:

I give the dagger out during the jehuthra ambush in the early scenes of Mists of Betrayal (same spot they get the amulet). A small note here is that I run Mists of Betrayal more as a Circle 3-4 (or 3-5) adventure than as the published 1-3. It is a small, ornate dagger with small red gem in its hilt (Wheel of Time inspiration) and is obviously not very functional as a weapon (ie. give it to the magic user). It has 8 small onyx stones set into the blade as well.

The corrupt illusionist is based in the area north of the Tylon Mountains and south of the Scol Mountains (lesser used area of Barsaive from official sources). When they weave a thread at rank 1 a jehuthra is created and sent out from that area to wherever the dagger currently is. This requires some tracking and mapping on my part to time arrival times. This process occurs once a month, although the timing of when the PCs encounter it could be different. Rank 3 changes it to every other week. Rank 5 makes a pair every two weeks. The dagger is also a pattern item and allows the horror the illusionist worshiped to be able to mark any character with a thread to it as if the horror is touching them.

From the PC's perspective the mage will love the dagger. I usually give it a bonus to spellcasting, but I've also done it as an "enhanced" matrix item at rank 4 which is grossly over powered given that rank. I want the mage to love the dagger and be dependent on it so they use it all the time. That plays into my corruption theme later on.

By time the PCs encounter their first jehuthra they are powerful enough it isn't a huge challenge/danger to them unless they've created a poor situation for themselves. By time they are getting a pair at a time it still isn't an issue. This leads into dealing with an illusionist's lair which is being used by a small cult started by the original corrupt illusionist.

My plan would be by circle 5-6 they are dealing with the cult. This leads them to being marked by the horror (entire group as the mage with the thread to the dagger is long since marked). They then track down the horror over the next 2-3 circles.

There are multiple hints pointing the players to the dagger. The first is they find it guarded by a jehuthra. The second are the similar description between the dagger and Matt's dagger from early in the Wheel of Time series. The third clue is the seemly pointless stream of jehuthra encounters. The fourth clue is that every bonus I give the dagger through the threads is always 1 higher than other published magical items at that rank. The final clue is while I can be an evil bastard of a GM, I don't usually bog things down with repetitive, trivial things.

Things my group has going against them in figuring things out: 1. They know I love jehuthras since my first game with Earthdawn so using them (in a natural or modified style) wouldn't be unexpected. 2. I can be an evil bastard of a GM and my players tend to be so paranoid they grossly over think most of my things (Their paranoia has a beauty and entertainment value all its own).

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Re: Cursed Item

Post by Telarus » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:57 pm

Ha. Awesome. I had a cursed thread sword in one of my games, and I think I did a writeup of that somewhere. A co GM introduced the sword, which turned out to be the physical manifestation of a horror and the Swordsmaster player who had been carrying it accepted a corruption deal during the campaign finale in order to defeat another horror, then threw himself into an open volcano.

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