The Red Box Blog

Ramblings about D&D.

Reinventing Mythology

Two of my favorite tv series in the past decade have been Smallville and Merlin both of which are based around the same concept – taking an existing mythology and reinventing it with all of the main characters being young adults.

Smallville cast pic from a few years ago.

There are many other similarities between the shows, most notably that both shows reversed the nature of the most important relationship in the show, but then have allowed said relationship to gradually become the one fans of the mythology know (Smallville with Clark-Lex, Merlin with Merlin-Arthur).

Merlin cast photo.

This morning I find myself wondering how this sort of re-envisionment might work as a basis for a campaign. Start with a mythology that all the member of the group are very familiar with, then together reinvent it, by de-aging the characters, and grouping them together; have them all be young, and inexperienced in the same time and place.

Inevitably the result of this is going to be a world that is different from the one of the source material; but that’s the point. The idea of making a campaign like this would be to bring a feeling of familiarity without all the constraints which would accompany basing a campaign around the original world.

For example, one could make a campaign where the members of the fellowship of the ring are all young rapscallions growing up together. The changes you would have to make to Middle Earth for such a campaign to function would be huge, but easily accomplished if you designed the campaign in the same way these shows seem to be made – with no initial preconceived notions of how the world is supposed to be. Basically you would not be figuring out how to modify Middle Earth to suit your campaign, but would instead try to find ways to work elements of Middle Earth into your campaign.

Unlike the some of my other campaign ideas I have shared on this site, I feel quite certain that this would work and work well. All it would need is a group that all know and love a given mythology, but aren’t afraid to change it.

Have an opinion about this article? I love comments. Please feel welcome to leave your thoughts.

December 30, 2010 Posted by | Campaign Ideas, Dungeons and Dragons, Magic Items, RPGs | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leveled Magic Items – Axiom


Level Requirements Powers
1 None +1 Long Sword
2 Lawful +1 Long Sword, +2 vs Chaotic Outsiders; if user is a Paladin (or equivilent) he may use his detect evil and smite evil powers vs. Chaotic creatures
3 Concentrate skill 3 ranks;
500 XP invested
Protection From Chaos once per day
4 Concentrate skill 6 ranks;
1000XP invested
Order’s Wrath once per day
5 Concentrate skill 9 ranks;
1500XP invested
Dispel Chaos once per day
6 Concentrate skill 12 ranks;
2000XP invested
+2 Long Sword, +4 vs Chaotic Outsiders

*All spells like powers are cast at either the minimum level for the spell, or the owner’s Paladin level – whichever is higher

When Til-Gamir began to prepare for his epic quest to rid the underdark of evil, he turned to his father, legendary craftsman Talith to make him a weapon worthy of the quest. Talith spent three long years fashioning the perfect weapon for his paladin son – Axiom.

Little else is known of the history of the sword for neither Til-Gamir, not any of his followers ever returned from their quest in to darkness. Somehow, in the years after Til-Gamir left Axiom fell in to the hands of the evil Audurach…

October 24, 2010 Posted by | 3.x, Magic Items, RPGs | , , , , | 1 Comment

Leveled Magic Item – Green Thumb


Level Requirements Powers
1 none +1 Scimitar
2 Knowledge(nature) 4 ranks
500XP invested
Detect Plants whenever sword is held
3 Knowledge(nature) 8 ranks
1000XP invested
+2 Scimitar
4 Knowledge(nature) 12 ranks
1500XP invested
Speak with Plants whenever sword is held
5 Knowledge(nature) 16 ranks
2000XP invested
+3 Scimitar

Farenyth, a druid of some reknown, was a key player in saving Vesve forrest from ruin at the hands of an evil dragon. Though he asked for no reward, the elves who lives he saved insisted of giving him the most valuable reward they had – magic. The elves enchanted his scimitar (a rather unassuming weapon he had owned for many years) with powers they thought a druid could make use of.

Though Farenyth had dismissed the elves offer to begin with, in the years that followed he was grateful time and time again for Greenthumb. Though the hilt looked quite plain, except for a piece of green crystal set in its base, the blade was a wonder to look at. The blade took on different appearances depending on the light. In the light of the sun or the moon elven runes (actually poetry about nature) appeared along the length of the blade. In moderate to low unnatural light the blade gave the appearance of being wood. In near or totally darkness the blade began to glow a gentle green.

In time Farenyth discovered that when holding Greenthumb he needed only to think of a type of plant, and he would immediately know if there were any of that species near by. Then, one day, when he thought the sword could not be any more useful, Farenyth learned that when holding Greenthumb he could speak with any sort plants.

Farenyth kept Greenthumb by his side till his death, when the sword passed on to his grandson, Mykath. Though Mykath treasured the sword, he never learnt all its powers – he lost both the sword and his life before that could happen. When Belak first began trying to introduce his “reforms” to the druidic order Mykath was one of his closest followers. However, like most others, Mykath deserted Belak when the Grand Druid denounced him. Belak killed Mykath in cold blood, and took the sword his grandfather had loved.

(Belak is main villian in the module the Sunless Citadel. I gave him this item in place of the masterwork sickle he is suppose to have. He had level 2 of the item unlocked.)

October 17, 2010 Posted by | 3.x, Dungeons and Dragons, Magic Items, RPGs | , , | 1 Comment

Leveled Magic Item – Rillifane’s Raiment


Level Requirements Powers
1 none Grants the wearer the following elven racial bounes if he does not already have them – immune to sleep, bonus vs enchantments, low-light vision, weapon proficiencies, and skill bonuses
2 Must have some elven blood +2 magical bonus to enchantment saves
3 500XP invested Darkvision
4 1000XP invested +2 magical bonus to Listen, Search and Spot checks
5 1500XP invested Any of the following weapons will act as a +1 magical weapon when weilded by the wearer – longsword, rapier, longbow, short bow

Long ago, during the Epoch of Myth, Incabulos walked the Oerth with a purpose – he sought to destroy the races born of the gods of good. The elves were one such race, and Incabulos hated the elves with a passion. Repeatedly he tried to being doom upon them, and repeatedly their creators battled to defend them. The last and greatest of these battles occured between Rallifane Rallathi,. god of the wood elves, and Incabulos.

The battle was long and fierce, lasting three days and three nights. However Rallifane did not encure a single scratch, though on the eve of the first night a ploy by Incabulos came close. After a brilliant feint, Incabulos drew a dagger and tried to cut open Rallifane’s chest. Instead he only cut all the clasps that held Rallifane’s shirt together. As the shirt quickly became unwieldy with the clasps destroyed, Rallifane discarded it.

When the battle was finally over, and the evil one driven away, Rallifane made no attempt to recover his shirt. It had no special value to him, and he could not remember where it fell away. Though the shirt had never been specially imbued with power, it had spent eons on the body of a god, and so it had absorbed some of his essence. When mortals later found the shirt, it was seen as an item of great value.

For thousands of years Rallifane’s Raiment were passed on from one elf to another. It was said that no one could take or give the shirt; the rainment chose its own owners. Each of the more than one hundred fifty wearers the rainment has somehow exemplified the beliefs of Rallifane himself. A few were great persons to begin with, many more rose to greatness, perhaps with assistance from the Rallifane’s Raiments.

The last known owner was the great elven paladin Til-Gamir. Shortly after gaining the Raiments his purpose in life became to lead an army into the Underdark to destroy the evil that lay there. Neither he nor any of the three hundred elves who joined his crusade were ever seen again.

Rallifane’s Raiment appears to be a piece of apparel common amoung elven nobles. It is a long sleeved over shirt that goes down almost the wearer’s knees. In addition to the properties listed above, the shirt always has the appearance of being clean, and never takes on any odor. Though not water proof, the shirt will dry within minutes. Finally, any damage (or repair), done to it will be undone within 24 hours.

October 10, 2010 Posted by | Dungeons and Dragons, Magic Items, RPGs | , , | 1 Comment

All About Leveled Magic Items

Over the years I became very frustrated with the magic item cycle;

  1. character finds magic item
  2. character loves magic item
  3. character doesn’t love magic item quite so much
  4. magic item is kind of bland
  5. character find new uber magic item
  6. old magic item is tossed

So when I read about the concept of leveled magic items, I jumped on it immediately. Basically the idea is that as characters progress their uber item can grow with them. I love this because this (along with sharing the item’s history) makes players/characters more attatched to items, and as such the items have a much longer shelf life.

In addition to having various skill requirements, I often created item that required characters to invest some of their XP in the item to unlock certain powers. This slowed down the unlocking of the items more than I intended, but regardless, I am going to present some of the items I created as is.

Feel free to do with them as you please.

October 10, 2010 Posted by | 3.x, Dungeons and Dragons, Magic Items, RPGs | , , | 2 Comments