Excavation sites as a mage’s dungeon replacement

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The Zazmul
Joined: 2019-04-04 14:53
Excavation sites as a mage’s dungeon replacement
In this coming week I plan to begin my second ACK campaign. It will be taking place in a campaign setting of my own design, and for it I want to adapt a few rules to help them fit the setting. The setting was very inspired by Vance’s Dying Earth. It takes place in a world where civilizations have risen, achieved fantastic technology, then collapsed. Then when the next civilizations rose up, they “cheated”, using pieces of technology beyond their ken from the last civilizations to substitute for basic components. Eventually this cheating catches up to them and their civilization collapses and so the cycle continues. The magic of this world draws itself from these ancient works of artifice. A mage’s library is filled with books describing programming languages derived from tongues that have gone millennia without native speakers, cryptocurrency exchange rates for use in bartering with AI, and descriptions of mental philosophies that keep one’s mind from being easily hacked by sentient nanoswarms. So it comes to be that in this world a mage building a dungeon and harvesting its monsters doesn’t seem like the most effective or flavorful way of getting components for magic items. So what I’m looking for is some kind of rules for putting together an “excavation site”. Currently I have the idea that each hex does have these relics, since the cycles have continued for so long that there is not an inch of the world that has not been part of a city. The excavation site is constructed as a normal fortress. Each month an apprentice mage, magical cohort or normal man studying to become a mage can roll a magical research roll. If they succeed they unearth a relic. Each researcher can gain a +1 bonus to their check for every 5 laborers that they have doing the menial tasks like digging. An excavation site can accommodate either 1 researcher or 5 laborers for every 500 gp spent to build it and money spent on the excavation site doesn’t count as fortifying the domain. Each relic has a spell association and a value. The spell association determines what kinds of items the relic could be used to make and is determined randomly. The value determines how many exp worth of monster parts it counts for. Currently I have the random spell association as equal chance of divine or arcane, level of 2d6 take lowest, then randomly roll on the table for which spell of that level and type it is. Does this seem like a good idea overall? Should uncovering a relic give apprentices exp? Should I be considering some kind of depletion mechanic?adidas superstar damen glitzer silber
GMJoe
Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

How do you determine the value of an uncovered relic? It might be worth comparing this to the rules for using research assistants to create magic items for sale, to ensure that it's not too profitable an activity.

Your rule does make it possible to get hold of magical components without having to adventure and kill things, which might be considered a downside if you like your players to have a motivation for doing that.

How do you handle players wanting to create magic items that don't mimic existing spells?

The Zazmul
Joined: 2019-04-04 14:53

The value of the relics is something that I’m having trouble pinning down. Part of me wants to balance it against something like the hijinks rules and have it be something like (spell level)*(researcher level)*100 gp. The issue is that hijinks balance needs a chance of dangerous failure and as much as I like the flavor of apprentices exploding because they hit the wrong relic with their shovel, apprentices fail frequently and are replaced slowly. The other way is having it be balanced so that each relic has enough value to make a scroll of its spell.

 

I’m not as concerned about mitigating motivation. If the PCs want a specific item, which is most of the time, they are still motivated to go out and seek it. Most of the relics will probably not be what the party wants at the moment and become the cluttered series of arcane baubles that fill the homes of wizards in the fiction.

 

For items that don’t mimic spells, I think that its fine to just have the players try to come up with some kind of creative argument as to why a given relic would work for the item. I could see a relic of bless or magic missile making a +1 weapon, a fireball relic making a flametongue, or a shield relic making a +1 shield. I could also see a player argue that something like summon berserkers could make a magic weapon by calling on the war skill of the slain warriors to guide their attacks.

GMJoe
Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu BackerACKS Heroic Fantasy Handbook Backer
Joined: 2013-01-04 12:56

The value of the relics is something that I’m having trouble pinning down. Part of me wants to balance it against something like the hijinks rules and have it be something like (spell level)*(researcher level)*100 gp. The issue is that hijinks balance needs a chance of dangerous failure and as much as I like the flavor of apprentices exploding because they hit the wrong relic with their shovel, apprentices fail frequently and are replaced slowly. The other way is having it be balanced so that each relic has enough value to make a scroll of its spell.

-The Zazmul

If you fail at crafting a magic item such as a scroll, you lose the gold and expensive material components invested in making that scroll. If you want to make relics equivalent in value to a scroll, you'll need to include a similar financial loss on a research roll failure to balance it against magic item crafting as a way of making money.