Five Magic Items For Illusionists
by James C. Boney; copyright 2013 by the author
As a teenager, one of my favorite PCs was an illusionist... Arbiddance by name... who reached a dizzying 14th level before he drew the Death card... and that was that for Arbiddance. In the process of play, I learned the tricky nuances of running an illusionist PC , but I also learned that the character class gets the short end of the magical stick in the game rules; yeah, sure, he has some neat spells, but the gist of play revolves around your imagination in thinking up new illusions to baffle the stupid and spook the superstitious. In the scheme of things, the illusionist fell way short of the magic-user in terms of love and attention from the rules makers.
A survey of the OSRIC rules shows zero, that's right... ZERO magic items that are strictly the domain of the illusionist (well, other than a measly 10% of scrolls found... and that seems almost an afterthought). Even items one would think to be exclusive to the character class... dust of illusion, wand of illusion, marvelous pigments, pipes of sounding, deck of illusion, etc., are shared with other character classes, particularly his cousin the magic-user.
This is unfair, but perhaps understandable. The class itself is rarely played; while the magic-user has a myriad of “fire and forget” spells at his command, the bulk of the illusionist's arsenal are spells that trick, deceive and mislead... and several must be kept up over a period of time. Nonetheless, it's only fair this neglected class should get a few magical items restricted to its use only... after all, the illusionist surely operates on magical principles different from that of the garden variety magic-user, otherwise, the illusionist would have to have his own read illusionist magic spell in order to read his own spell books (and we all know what a silly idea that is)!
To work toward filling this gap, I present five magical items usable only by the shadowy class. Their usefulness varies according to situation and player cleverness!
Book of Shadows: this ponderous tome is written in the illogical script favored by illusionists and details arcane concepts and exercises peculiar to that class. An illusionist reading this work and faithfully following the directions given therein for one month will gain enough experience points to place him midway in the next level. Only one reader at a time is possible due to the subconscious connection that develops between reader and work, and once the rise in level is complete, the work will fade into a column of black smoke and disappear. The illusionist can make use of this magic item only once in his career. A magic-user reading this complex and confusing work will find his INT lowered by 1d3 points until a remove curse is cast upon him; other classes attempting to make use will make no sense of it but suffer no ill effects.
Bracelets of Charming: appearing as twin bracelets of silver inlaid with strands of platinum, when worn these items enable the illusionist to charm (as per a charm person spell) a human or demi-human into believing the wearer is the target's ideal person. In the eyes of the target, the illusionist is physically, mentally and spiritually the greatest person alive. The illusionist can keep up to three targets on the leash at any given time. The illusionist can release a target with no ill effects, but if the charm is somehow broken (through a dispel magic or by ordering the target to perform a suicidal or self-destructive act, for example), the target is immediately released and will seek to injure or kill the illusionist. Only one set of Bracelets can be worn at a time and cannot be worn in tandem with other bracers or the like.
Shadow Staff: at first seeming to be a gnarled quarterstaff of unusual weight, in the hands of an illusionist of at least 6th level, the Shadow Staff will shift its appearance to that of a heavy shod staff, blue-black and with 7 runes moving up and down the length in a seemingly random pattern. The wielder has at his command the following seven powers, usable by touching the appropriate rune, as follows:
Light (no charge used)
Fog Cloud (1 charge)
Paralyzation (by touch; 2 charges)
Shadow Monsters (2 charges)
Summon Shadow (2 charges)
Veil (2 charges)
Prismatic Spray (3 charges)
Upon discovery, the Shadow Staff will have 20 charges and may be recharged by casting any of the listed spells.
Shards of Deception: formed from shattered diamonds, 2d10+5 of these items are found at a time and are kept in a small pouch marked with cryptic sigils. When a number of them are pulled out of the bag and thrown on the floor, they will project the same image envisioned by the illusionist prior to activation. The effect is similar to a mirror image spell and last up to 2 turns before fading away. Thus, the illusionist could create multiple images of himself, monsters, or whatever he is visualizing at the moment he reaches into the bag. Once the spell is finished, the shards dissolve into a fine dust and cannot be used again; the bag itself cannot be refilled... the number initially found inside is the final number of shards that can be pulled from that bag.
Zelvena's Strange Gem of Company: not a dungeoneering tool (though who's to say...), Zelvena's Gem is favored by illusionists sick of having their inn rooms tossed by thieves while away. This small blue gemstone glows with a reddish inner light and has 2d8+2 charges. When activated, it emits a low level babble of voices apparently in conversation... occasional sniffs and other assorted noises indicating that a room is occupied if one were to listen at the door. If a listener were to knock on the door or attempt to open it, the conversations will cease and a reaction chosen in advance by the illusionist will come into play... a voice answering “go away and come back later” or perhaps the mumbled syllables of a spell being cast. The Strange Gem can only be recharged by an illusionist casting an audible glamor spell. If the Strange Gem's charges are drained, the inner light will fade out and the item will become a pretty 500gp gemstone.