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Adding self destruct to magic items made for my party


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The "Creating magical item for the party + small fee on the work = players uprorar?" thread got me to thinking.

If I'm crafting stuff for my party, I should also enchant them with a self-destruct feature, such as when an appropriate command word is uttered.

That way, if they don't pay my crafting fee, or eventually betray me (as they always do), I can disable all of their toys with a single word, thereby leaving them vulnerable AND catching them off-guard.

How would you go about handling such a request? How much would it cost to craft into an item? What prerequisites would you require? How would it occur; would the item explode, dealing damage to the wielder/wearer, silently turn mundane (temporarily or permanently), or crack and crumble into dust?

Jade Empire video game spoiler:
It would be just like when your master turns against you and reveals that I deliberately trained flaws into your fighting style so he could beat you like the proper whelp that you are.

This could make for a great GM tool as well, if his players get too greedy and do something stupid, like bite the hand that fed them.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Ugh, one of the worst DM 'screw yous'. I used it once. Never again.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Naturally, it wouldn't work very well if you weren't mature about it.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

From what I've heard about your group, RD, I think your statement disqualifies it from this option.

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.

All of these are possible. Basically you're incorporating a curse into the item that will do one of three things: 1. Have the item operate as if a Use Magic Device check had failed with it, doing the usual damage for that; 2. The item fails to function because you changed or deactivated the command word; or 3. The item gains the Broken condition until repaired (as with a Make Whole of sufficiently high level).

You've also set it up so that there's one single command phrase which, while it may allow you to screw your fellow adventurers at your whim, is also a huge security hole which can be exploited by anyone who discovers it.

That would reasonably include anyone who got one of the items and did a sufficient check with Identify, Analyze Dweomer, or Legend Lore to recognize the curse. Moreover, since some gremlins delight in cursing items, imagine their delight in finding that the items were all pre-cursed and all you needed to break the lot was utter a single word.

I would also note that an Analyze Dweomer or Legend Lore would certainly reveal the identity of the one who placed the curse, possibly leading to troubles for whoever did.

As for how much it would cost to place such a curse, I'd say including Contingency in the casting should be sufficient.

As for doing this as a DM, unless it were foreshadowed with a brick, it would be the equivalent of telling them that all their gold had been pickpocketed by street urchins because they failed a single perception check. Nothing anyone wants to have happen with their characters, and nothing even resembling "fair" either.


I seem to recall there being a ring in the Advanced Player's Guide which exploded with a fireball effect to which the wearer was not immune as an immediate action. I think it was meant to be a kind of death throe effect, but I don't know why you couldn't take that same effect and build it into other things. The rules would make that rather simple. Just keep the command word for yourself?


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
pobbes wrote:
I seem to recall there being a ring in the Advanced Player's Guide which exploded with a fireball effect to which the wearer was not immune as an immediate action. I think it was meant to be a kind of death throe effect, but I don't know why you couldn't take that same effect and build it into other things. The rules would make that rather simple. Just keep the command word for yourself?

Command words for anything short of artifacts (and then only artifacts that specify difficult-to-find command words) are notoriously easy to figure out. And then there's legend lore, as mentioned above.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

Uh, if you're crafting stuff with the intent to bite your fellows on the arse in the end for a snotty 'I Told You So' then... I wouldn't buy your stuff. Cuz that's jerky. And not the delicious kind.

(And that thread is out of hand, the OP acquiesced earlier.)


B.A. Ironskull wrote:

Uh, if you're crafting stuff with the intent to bite your fellows on the arse in the end for a snotty 'I Told You So' then... I wouldn't buy your stuff. Cuz that's jerky. And not the delicious kind.

(And that thread is out of hand, the OP acquiesced earlier.)

What? First of all, you, as a PC in that group, wouldn't know about taht built in curse. I mean, c'mon, who casts analyze dweomer on items to double check if what the party wizard told them about it?

Also, if the item creator is a bit paranoid (and probably rightfully so, if he witnessed other PCs betray someone), I think it is a viable safety measure.

One thing I'd like to throw in, though, is that I think the rules state (and it also seemed to be general consensus in threads where it was a topic, like that about instant fortress shenanigans) that you have to be holding/wearing a magic item to be able to activate it. So no to "remote control detonate by command word".

The curse approach seems to be viable... But I don't think you'd necessarily have to curse the item. You could just include contingency (tuned on something like "if it is used against its creator") + (whatever effect you'd like) in the creation of the item (and pay the increased cost for a customized magic item). Of course, analyze dweomer could let someone discover the hidden properties, but as I said, who double checks magic items? Also, they couldn't do anything about it, apart from not using the item.
And I mean, you don't even hurt anyone with adding this safety trigger, up until the point where someone else decided to engage you, so it's their fault then. Go for it. :)

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

Good point- a character wouldn't have prior knowledge of the shady crafter's MO.

But, hey, if a player wants to ostracize himself/herself by being overly paranoid, that's his angle. Don't complain if the party leaves you on the top of a mountain or any other such scenario.

They'll likely grow to distrust you, too.

Or end-around the whole silly 'what if' by demanding full payment up front. Then you don't need to pony up extra gold for the self-destruct part. You get your gold, they get their gear, and no one's much the wiser.

Just sayin'.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This seems like a recipe for very angry players and a short lived campaign.

Actions you do to fellow players can only use the 'I was playing my character you metagaming fiend!" excuse so much before people get tired of it out of character. When doing something like this, I would make sure that the players are okay with this.


An intelligent item could sprout legs and just sneak off at night.


How about putting in a "safety feature" where the magic item only works for the person they are keyed to. So they become useless if stolen. Then make an item that can clear the "key setting" on the items you make. As long as they can't be keyed in combat you are golden and it all seems above board. After all if they ever want to sell the items the will need to erase the key.


That a craftsman includes nasty surprises in their items, would be in the rumor table. The PCs should not be able to tell which rumors are true without doing the work.
Holy swords have always been designed to become less powerful in the hands of anyone not currently a paladin.
A wand of magic missles that backfires when a human tradesman is targeted is conceivable. A device that is keyed to a specific individual even if they becom a litch, should just be impossible.


Ravingdork wrote:
That way, if they don't pay my crafting fee, or eventually betray me (as they always do), I can disable all of their toys with a single word, thereby leaving them vulnerable AND catching them off-guard.

Seems like a lot of trouble to go to when you could just slip a philter of love into their ale and call it a day...

Anyway, you can't activate command words on someone else's item. There is some precedent for keying magic items to other magic items, though - prisoner rings from APG, for example - so you might see about something along those lines?

Assuming your party is all okay with a pvp style game, of course.


Ravingdork wrote:


If I'm crafting stuff for my party, I should also enchant them with a self-destruct feature, such as when an appropriate command word is uttered.

How would you go about handling such a request? How much would it cost to craft into an item? What prerequisites would you require? How would it occur; would the item explode, dealing damage to the wielder/wearer, silently turn mundane (temporarily or permanently), or crack and crumble into dust?

Into homebrew here:

I would do some kind of spell crafting roll (1d20 + intelligence + caster level?) when you make the item. If people analyse the item, they make a similar roll and need to beat the crafter's score to determine such hidden shennanigans.

It being assumed that analyse item e.g. works because the guy who made the item made it in a way to make it easy to use. You're obfuscating it, so there's a die roll.

I would also allow the crafter to increase the material cost to craft in order to gain a bonus to that roll, but that's not going to work very well if they can look up the base price in the rulebooks. However I would also allow a bonus for location (lab in area of strong magical aura, bonus to roll). I would also treat modifications as a separate power and add at least 20% to the cost of the item,

In short the crafting rules are a bit basic.

Ars Magica (the RPG) actually has decent working rules for crafting, decoding other folks' spellbooks, and making spells that burst the *caster* into flame look like they shoot the other way instead...

Star Voter 2013

Perhaps key the items to a sphere you have previously enchanted. When you speak a command word, you shatter the sphere and the magic in the items tied to the sphere unravels. Or maybe just make it a control orb. Whenever you speak the command word, the magic of the orb dims and nullifies the magic of the items you have tied to it. Only a second command word restores the magic items.


If you are playing a evil game than this should be alright. I would put in a extra use completion spell into the item like detonation. Why destroy the item when you can just blow up the wielder and claim the item later?

Another way thing to do is secretly make all the items intelligent and their purpose is to defend you. If the party members are helping you they serve that purpose, if not.......


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Coriat wrote:
Anyway, you can't activate command words on someone else's item.

Where is this stated?


Ravingdork wrote:
Coriat wrote:
Anyway, you can't activate command words on someone else's item.
Where is this stated?

Nowhere. It's a standard action though, and you can't make attacks with somebody else's sword either.


Make certain key parts of the item, such as a weapons handle, buttons and studs holding armor together and so on, nonmagical crystal or glass or whatever but dont tell anyone. In a critical moment, quickened persistant shatter.

(Requires dm fiat but is smart and stylish)


VRMH wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Coriat wrote:
Anyway, you can't activate command words on someone else's item.
Where is this stated?
Nowhere. It's a standard action though, and you can't make attacks with somebody else's sword either.

Actually, for slotted items:

Quote:
Many magic items need to be donned by a character who wants to employ them or benefit from their abilities.

And for unslotted items:

Quote:
Some items can be worn or carried without taking up a slot on a character's body.

And for command word items (which are already covered under slotted or unslotted, but for further reinforcement):

Quote:

A command word can be a real word, but when this is the case, the holder of the item runs the risk of activating the item accidentally by speaking the word in normal conversation.


fictionfan wrote:

If you are playing a evil game than this should be alright. I would put in a extra use completion spell into the item like detonation. Why destroy the item when you can just blow up the wielder and claim the item later?

Another way thing to do is secretly make all the items intelligent and their purpose is to defend you. If the party members are helping you they serve that purpose, if not.......

I do not see why this has to be restricted to evil alignments.

He actually said he would put it in, in the case of betrayal, non-payment, item theft etc. Putting backdoors into items for reasons of self defence, should your group be dominated, charmed, turn traitor, or have their gear stolen, is perfectly fine under any alignment.

Also a harmless practical joke every now and again isn't evil. :-)

Edit: I also do not have a problem crafting for profit amongst the party because that decision should relate to the roleplay backgrounds of the characters, and not the players. Isn't the rogue hiding a gem for himself a genre trope?

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:

That way, if they don't pay my crafting fee, or eventually betray me (as they always do),

Hmmm.......

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