The material below is designated as Open Game Content.
This chapter of Encyclopaedia Arcane: Magic Item Creation introduces a host of new options and powers specifically designed for use with intelligent magic items. Using these rules will open up new vistas for roleplaying and offer both you and your Players exciting new opportunities in adventuring. The rules in this chapter are intended to supplement, and in some cases replace, those found in the SRD. In all cases where a chart duplicates and expands upon one found in the SRD, then the chart here supercedes it.
Crafting Intelligent Items and Random Tables
The tables presented in this chapter all include a random element, in the form of a d20 roll. When a Player wishes his character to create an intelligent item, or when you wish to create a specific item, however, relying on the roll of the dice can be frustrating. In these situation, it is recommended that you simply choose the results you want and, with your supervision, allow Players to do the same.
Alternately, you might rule that all intelligent magic items must have their capabilities rolled randomly, to better represent the fact that you can never predict the mysteries of life.
Creating an Intelligent Item
To create an intelligent magic item, the first step is to determine its mental acuity. Just as with living beings, not all intelligent magic items are created equal. Roll on the chart below to determine the raw numbers for magic item’s mental statistics, then assign them to the item’s Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma as you see fit. The chart also lists a bonus or penalty to the item’s capabilities. Apply this bonus to all later rolls when determining the item’s senses, its capabilities and its ability to communicate with both its wielder and other beings.
Intelligent Item Ability Scores
|d20||Mental Ability Scores||Capabilities Modifier|
|1–2||One at 12, one at 11, one at 10||–3|
|3–4||Two at 12, one at 10||–2|
|5–6||One at 13, one at 12, 11||–1|
|7–8||Two at 14, one at 11||–1|
|9–10||One at 15, one at 14, one at 11||—|
|11–12||Two at 16, one at 11||—|
|13–14||One at 17, one at 16, one at 11||+1|
|15–16||Two at 17, one at 11||+2|
|17–18||One at 18, one at 16, one at 11||+2|
|19||Two at 18, one at 12||+3|
|20||One at 19, one at 18, one at 12||+3|
Now that you have determined the item’s mental abilities, you must roll to determine how easily the item can communicate with other beings. Roll on the following chart, remembering to apply the bonus or penalty, as appropriate.
Intelligent Item Communication
|17–18||Speech, telepathy4, 5, 6|
|19||Speech, telepathy4, 5, 6|
|20||Speech, telepathy4, 5,6, 7|
1 The possessor feels urges and sometimes emotions from the item that encourage or discourage certain courses of action. The item can likewise feel emotions from the wielder but only so long as the item is in hand, worn, or otherwise in contact with its wielder.
2 The item can speak only the language of its creator.
3 The item can speak common and the native language of its creator.
4 The item can speak common and the native language of its creator and one additional language per point of Intelligence bonus.
5 The item can read any language that it can speak but only so long as the item is in hand, worn, or otherwise in contact with its wielder.
6 The item may now also communicate telepathically with its wielder, but only so long as the item is in hand, worn, or otherwise in contact with its wielder.
7 The item can now telepathically communicate with others within 10 feet, but only so long as the item is in hand, worn, or otherwise in contact with its wielder.
Once you have determined the item’s ability to communicate, the next step is to determine its magical senses. Every intelligent item has some ability to perceive the world around itself, though some items are severely limited in this respect. Roll on the following table, remembering to apply the appropriate capabilities penalty.
Intelligent Item Senses
|1||30 ft. vision|
|2–3||30 ft. vision and hearing|
|4–5||60 ft. vision and hearing|
|6–7||90 ft. vision and hearing|
|8–9||120 ft. vision and hearing|
|10–11||120 ft. vision and hearing|
|12–13||120 ft. vision, hearing and darkvision|
|14–15||180 ft. vision, hearing|
|16–17||120 ft. vision, hearing, darkvision and blind sense|
|18–19||180 ft. vision, hearing, darkvision and blind sense|
|20||120 ft. vision, hearing, darkvision, blind sense and smell|
Having determined the item’s senses, it is time to determine its alignment. If crafting an intelligent item, then the item’s default alignment is the same as the crafting character or Non-Player Character. Otherwise roll to determine the item’s alignment on the table below. From this point on, the bonus or penalties to capabilities no longer applies.
Intelligent Item Alignment
1 The item can also be used by any character whose alignment corresponds to the non-neutral portion of the item’s alignment. So, any chaotic character can use an item with a chaotic neutral alignment
2 The item can be used by neutral good and neutral evil characters as well.
A character of a particular alignment who chooses to use, or even pick up, an intelligent item whose alignment does not correspond to his own is penalised in some way. To determine the exact penalty, roll or select from the chart below. Items with an ego score of 20 – 29 inflict double the penalty, and items with an ego of 30 or above triple the penalty.
Non-Compatible Alignment Penalties
|1–4||The item inflicts one non-permanent negative level1|
|5–8||The item inflicts one point of temporary ability damage to all ability scores1|
|9–12||The item deals two points of hit point damage every round it is held|
|13–16||The item changes the wielder’s gender1|
|17–20||The item does not function|
1 The penalty persists as long as the item is in hand or worn (in the case of magical rings, cloaks and the like). The penalty can not be reversed by magic of any sort but disappears as soon as the item is no longer in hand or worn.
Intelligent Item Powers
Every intelligent magic item has powers of some sort, special abilities which are in addition to those found in a normal item of its sort. The first step to determining an intelligent item’s special abilities is rolling on the table below. Typically, this is an unmodified roll of a d20 but if the Games Master so chooses, he can rule that the capabilities modifier from the item Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma table must be applied to the roll. Doing this will result in more intelligent items receiving the bulk of the best special abilities, which may or may not suit your campaign.
Intelligent Item Power Determination
|7–8||One lesser, one greater1|
|9–10||Two lesser, one greater1|
|11–12||Two lesser, two greater1|
|13–14||Three lesser, one greater1|
|15–16||Three lesser, two greater1|
|17–18||One lesser, three greater1|
|19||Two lesser, three greater1|
|20||Three lesser, three greater1|
1 One of the item’s greater powers can instead be dedicated to a special purpose. See below for rules for special purpose items.
Once the number and type of intelligent item powers has been decided, it is time to determine exactly what those powers are. The following table lists lesser powers which an intelligent item may possess. Roll once on the table for each lesser power.
Intelligent Item Lesser Powers
|1||Item can bless the wielder 3/day|
|2||Item can use faerie fire 3/day|
|3||Item can cast minor image 1/day|
|4||Item can detect magic at will|
|5||Item adds 5 ranks to two Knowledge skills|
|6||Item adds 5 ranks to Intimidate and Bluff|
|7||Item adds 5 ranks to Appraise and Sense Motive|
|8||Item adds 5 ranks to Spot and Search|
|9||Item adds 5 ranks to Listen and Survival|
|10||Item adds 5 ranks to Diplomacy and Gather Information|
|11||Item can cast darkness 3/day|
|12||Item can render itself invisible at will|
|13||Item adds 5 ranks to Jump and Tumble|
|14||Item adds 5 ranks to Climb and Swim|
|15||Item adds 5 ranks to Ride and Handle Animal|
|16||Item can use cure moderate wounds 3/day|
|17||Item can use hold person 1/day|
|18||Item can detect (any alignment) at will|
|19||Item can detect thoughts 2/day|
|20||Item can cast disguise self 2/day|
Once an item’s lesser powers have been selected, it is time to determine the extent of its greater abilities.
Roll once on the following table for each greater power, remembering that special purposes and related powers have their own table.
Intelligent Item Greater Powers
|1||Item can detect thoughts at will|
|2||Item can detect undead at will|
|3||Item can cause fear in enemies at will|
|4||Item grants fast healing 1 to its wielder|
|5||Item can see invisibility 3/day|
|6||Item grants +10 bonus to any one skill each day, as chosen by wielder|
|7||Item radiates protection from evil/good/chaos/law 3/day|
|8||Item has continuous detect scrying effect|
|9||Item can use clairvoyance 3/day|
|10||Item can dispel magic 3/day|
|11||Item grants +5 bonus to any two skills each day, as chosen by wielder|
|12||Item can create magic circle against opposing alignment at will|
|13||Item cannot be detected by detect magic|
|14||Item can cast bull’s strength on wielder 3/day|
|15||Item can cast fox’s cunning on wielder 3/day|
|16||Item can cast owl’s wisdom on wielder 3/day|
|17||Item can quench fires at will|
|18||Item can use lesser globe of invulnerability 1/day|
|19||Item can cast whispering wind at will|
|20||Item can detect secret doors at will|
Special Purposes and Intelligent Items
If you have decided to give an intelligent item a special power, then you are creating a great deal of work for yourself but are also taking a step which will add greatly to the richness of your campaign. An item with a special purpose should be driven to accomplish its goal; since it was created specifically to achieve that purpose, it is not capable for the item to transcend its need to see its work completed. That said, special purpose items possess varying levels of dedication to their causes, since just as mortals vary in their commitments to what they hold most dear, so it is for intelligent magical objects.
The first step to creating a special purpose is to decide exactly what that purpose will be. The following table provides a number of options, which should be customised to fit the needs of your campaign.
|1||Defeat/slay diametrically opposed alignment1|
|3||Defeat/slay arcane spellcasters2|
|4||Defeat/slay divine spellcasters3|
|5||Defeat/slay a particular creature type|
|6||Defeat/slay a particular race|
|7||Defeat/slay a particular gender|
|8||Defeat/slay the servants of a particular deity|
|9||Defeat/slay all (excluding the wielder)|
|10||Defend/preserve a particular race|
|11||Defend/preserve a particular gender|
|12||Defend/preserve the servants of a particular deity|
|13||Defend/preserve a particular kingdom or area|
|14||Resurrect/recreate a particular being4|
|15||Restore/rebuild a particular area/object5|
|16||Defeat/eradicate a particular ideology|
|17||Defend/preserve a particular ideology|
|18||Sow dissent/create conflict on nationwide scale|
|19||Corrupt innocence/redeem evil|
|20||Destroy all magical items6|
1 The purpose of a neutral version of this item is to slay/defeat powerful beings of all other alignments, to preserve balance.
2 This includes spellcasting monsters, or those with spell-like abilities.
3 This includes divine entities and servitors with spell-like abilities.
4 Typically, this is the item’s crafter but it does not have to be. Kings, rulers, powerful monsters, gods, all are acceptable choices. Should the item succeed, its special purpose will then become to preserve that being. Think carefully before allowing this special purpose to be added to an item crafted by a Player.
5 This can be anything from a single temple to an entire nation. Should the item succeed, its purpose will then become to preserve the restored structure.
6 This may or may not include the item itself. Depending on the strength of conviction, the item may allow the wielder to possess other items, so long as he still works to eventually destroy all items.
Once the item’s special purpose is decided, you must then determine how strong its resolve in accomplishing its special purpose is. The stronger the conviction, the more unyielding and inflexible the item is in pursuit of its goals. Note that no matter how lax in their beliefs, all items will eventually become resentful if they decide their wielder/partner is not working to fulfill their purpose well enough. Weapons which feel betrayed will refuse to function for their wielder. Remember, however, that all but the most fanatical items will, grudgingly, forgive a wielder for ignoring its special purpose in pursuit of a goal critical to the welfare of the wielder, or the world as a whole.
Special Purpose Conviction
|d20||Strength of Conviction|
|1||Lax – the item will permit the wielder up to a year of ignoring the item’s purposes|
|2||Forgiving – the item will permit half a year of ignoring its purpose|
|3–7||Understanding – the item will permit a season to pass between pursuit of its special purpose|
|8–12||Firm – the item will permit a month of ignoring its special purpose before it is angered|
|13–16||Resolved – the item will permit no more than two weeks to pass before it is used towards its purpose|
|17–18||Stubborn – the item will permit no more than a week to pass before it must be used in pursuit of its purpose|
|19||Obstinate – the item will permit no more than two days to pass before it must be used for its purpose|
|20||Fanatical – the item will only function while in pursuit of its purpose|
Every special purpose item has a dedicated power, which is a special, powerful ability which the item will only use in pursuit of its goals. The use of the dedicated power is solely up to the discretion of the item and the more fanatical the item is in pursuit of its goals, the more exacting it is in the use of that power. That said, the more fanatical the item, the more vigorously the item will use its power once it has decided its purpose is being fulfilled. The following chart gives a wide range of special powers but is by no means a comprehensive list.
|1||Item can cast ice storm|
|2||Item can cast confusion|
|3||Item can cast 10d6 fireball|
|4||Item can cast 10d6 lightning bolt|
|5||Item can cast scrying|
|6||Item can haste wielder|
|7||Wielder gains +3 luck bonus to saves, attack rolls, skill and ability checks|
|8||Item can cast charm person|
|9||Wielder gains fast healing 5|
|10||Item can dimension door itself and wielder|
|11||Item can cast hold monster|
|12||Item can cast break enchantment|
|13||Item can teleport itself and wielder|
|14||Item can use heightened (to 4th level) poison as a touch attack|
|15||Item can cast mass inflict light wounds|
|16||Item can cast rusting grasp|
|17||Item can cast harm (once per day)|
|18||Item can cast heal (once per day)|
|19||Item can cast stoneskin on its wielder|
|20||Item can cast true resurrection, once per month, on wielder only1|
1 If the item’s special purpose is to defend/preserve, it can use this ability in pursuit of that goal.
The act of granting an item a special purpose creates a fundamental imbalance in the fabric of magic. The backlash from this imbalance infects each special purpose item with a specific weakness, a condition or defect which can, potentially and in the worst case, fatally affect a special purpose’s ability to complete its mission. Even if it does not do that, this weakness will certainly affect the wielder’s ability to survive his item’s obsession.
There are two conditions which will trigger the item’s weakness. If the item’s powers are not used in the furthering of its special purpose within a time it finds acceptable (see the Special Purpose Conviction table), then the weakness takes effect until its special purpose is advanced. Second, if the item’s special purpose dedicated power is used in pursuit of its special purpose, but in a way which leads to a monumental failure, then the item’s weakness comes into effect. The weakness halts only when the item achieves a lasting success in pursuit of its special purpose.
Special Purpose Weaknesses
|1||The item is cowardly and imposes a –3 penalty to saves against fear on its wielder1|
|2||The item must succeed at a Will Save against DC 15 to use any of its lesser or greater powers|
|3||The item’s ego score is increased by 10|
|4||Item falls into depression, imposing a –2 penalty to wielder’s Strength and Charisma score1|
|5||Item gives into anger, imposing –2 penalty to wielder’s Wisdom and Charisma1|
|6||Item becomes dismayed, suffering a –3 effective caster level penalty to resist dispelling|
|7||Item can refuse to allow wielder to access any powers, not just its special purpose ability2|
|8||When not used in furtherance of its purpose, the item inflicts 1 point of damage (which bypasses any damage reduction) on the wielder each time any of its powers are used1|
|9||The item becomes fragile and its hardness drops by 4|
|10||The item temporarily loses one point from one of its attributes each day, to a minimum of 3 each. If a single ability scores falls to 3, then the item’s special purpose power can no longer be used, at least until some great advance in pursuit of its special purpose is achieved. Lost scores return immediately if this happens.|
|11||The item actively despises wielder and seeks to harm him. If it achieves dominance, then it will force the wielder into harmful situations|
|12||The item will attempt to leave the wielder. If it achieves dominance, then it will force him to give it to someone more suitable|
|13||Wielder gains 1 negative level whenever he wields or even touches the item. This cannot be overcome by magic of any sort|
|14||Item sickens, imposing a –2 penalty to the wielder’s Constitution|
|15||Item drains luck from wielder and his allies, imposing a –1 penalty to attack rolls, saving throws and all skill checks tot he wielder and all allies within 10 feet.|
|16||The item must draw vitality from the wielder in order to maintain its dedication to its purpose. It drains one hit point per wielder’s character level or hit die (whichever is higher). These drained hit points may not be restored by any means so long as the item is in use, or even in contact with its wielder|
|17||The item loses hope and becomes lax and uncaring, imposing a –2 penalty to wielder’s Dexterity and Intelligence|
|18||The item loses all ability to activate its powers independently, though the wielder can activate them as normal|
|19||Roll three times on this chart and choose two results as weaknesses. Ignore additional rolls of 19|
|20||The item has two unique personalities, each diametrically opposed to the other3|
1 If the item’s ego is dominant, then the penalty is doubled.
2 This applies even if the item’s ego is not dominant.
3 Roll again on all previous charts to determine the second personalities abilities. The item’s special purpose is, whenever possible, diametrically opposed to the original personality’s. Do not roll an additional curse, as this curse applies to both personalities.
Roll once on the table Special Purpose Weaknesses table to determine the item’s weakness. If you roll a weakness which is not appropriate for the item, then roll again until a more appropriate result is achieved.
Whenever possible, an intelligent item’s powers and abilities should be tied together into a coherent theme, the better to define the item’s purpose and personality. If you find yourself absolutely unable to mesh one of an item’s powers or abilities with the rest, you are encouraged to either roll again on the appropriate chart until you find a more thematically appropriate ability, or simply select an ability which you consider to be a good fit.
Sample Intelligent Item
To give you an example of the kind of results you can achieve with this expanded list of intelligent item powers, here is a sample item:
The Carpet of Arad-Albed
The carpet of Arad-Albed is a flying carpet of most sublime and wondrous enchantment, a tapestry woven of fine gold, silver and crimson threads and reinforced with bits of obsidian so thin and cunningly wrought they are as soft and pliable as silk. Arad-Albed was a powerful illusionist and thief who lived in a time that was ancient when the oldest dragons were still in their eggs and the djinn and gods warred for supremacy of the endless sands. Arad-Albed trusted no man and believed the words of no woman, yet he still craved the pleasures of conversation and the warmth only close companionship can bring. He wove his living carpet after first tricking the Caliph of the Forgotten Dunes into sharing the secrets of granting life with him and then absconded with that magnificent despot’s most prized tapestries.
Arad-Albed and his carpet were as close as brothers and shared many adventures but in time, Arad-Albed died, as all men must, leaving the carpet alone. Now the carpet waits, carelessly sprawled across the throne room floor in its former master’s sky palace, waiting for a new master as clever and daring as its legendary creator. The carpet will willingly serve anyone who it deems worthy but its burning desire is to resurrect Arad-Albed and soar again with him across endless desert skies.
The carpet of Arad-Albed has an Intelligence of 19, a Charisma of 18, a Wisdom of 12 and an Ego of 20. It speaks and reads common, the ancient tongue of its master and four other languages. It can see, hear and taste the desert air as well as any man and can see in the dark as clearly as an owl. It is chaotic good and capable of turning those who do not share its moral outlook into the opposite gender, an ability it relishes using.
The carpet has two lesser powers and a special purpose. It can use minor image at will and grants its master a +5 bonus to Intimidate and Bluff skill checks. Its special purpose is to return Arad-Albed to life but it is lax in the pursuit of this goal. While in pursuit of its special purpose, the carpet grants its owner a +3 luck bonus to attack rolls, saves and skill checks. The carpet is fickle, however, and if its owner does not put forth a reasonable effort to fulfill the carpet’s purpose, it steals his luck entirely; the wielder and his allies within 10 feet suffer a –1 penalty to all attack and damage rolls, saves and skill checks.