Impractical Applications (Swag!)

In honor of the RPG Blog Carnival on making loot part of the plot, and the posts I’ve already done on the types of plots loot can be at the center of and what it takes to get me to like loot, I thought I’d look back on some of the nifty swag I’ve either given to my players or played with, and what it did for its games.

My main success with a plot item was Anathema—yes, that Anathema. It had started in a collaboration session with a friend of mine, as one part “the group wants to do something apparently impossible, how do we make it just a touch more feasible” and one part “There’s this one player, he doesn’t talk…”, not that the latter was still a problem by the time I managed to implement the plan. It started with a dream, turned into a retrieval quest, involved the introduction of one unexpected civilization, two gods and a detour none of us had planned for, and now… well, now it’s kept around as much because it’s amusing as because of its world-shaking power. Seriously, the “Am not!” “Am too!” “Look, a Powerful Thing!” “Lemme at it!” constantly going on between its gods seems to be just as important an aspect as its ability to unmake things.

One of the quirkiest items I was given as a player was Zilla’s puzzle-weapon, the first part given to her by a god who was a semi-patron to her, in the trickster mentor sort of way. (What else do you expect from the Overlord of Brazen Trickery?) It came in pieces—there was one bit that was a dagger, and one bit that she could remove that made her invisible, and others that were scattered all over the place and not found before the game ended. It was quirky, it made me curious (and thus provided a little extra motivation to go traipsing all over), and I think it might have been one the niftiest items that ever fell into one of my characters’ hands.

There was one pair of items designed not for plot reasons but just to get the two newest members of the group caught up with the rest. The first I designed around its backstory and powers, thereby explaining its presence; it was one part cloth armor (my specialty), one part healing booster, and after rummaging around for plant names I ended up calling it Cydonia’s Mercy. The other was a bow—or at least, it was a bow part of the time, and took a different form other parts—designed around the idea of a blue-ringed octopus, poison and all. Pretty much the moment the player picked it up, he called it her, so I ran with that and called her Nyree; her main draw was that while not quite sapient, she was definitely something approximating alive by weapon standards, and very affectionate, draping herself around his neck and, for lack of a better term, purring.

But what I always liked best was coming up with my own designs. I’ve made cloth armor something of a trademark, designed a few fun little weapons, and I think one of my favorite PC items—one so inextricably intertwined with the character that I really can’t mention one without the other—was the bonegraft forged from the ghost of its owner’s older sister, with its annoyingly talkative (though they only ever heard one side of the conversation) inhabitant and its owner’s tendency to ‘introduce’ people to the occupant.


  1. catdragon says:

    I would love to hear more about the puzzle weapon… for example, what were the pieces? How did you describe them? What led the character from one piece to the next? Did it have any negative powers/consequences?

  2. Ravyn says:

    I was PCing in that game, so I don’t know about any except the ones I managed to pick up. The base was a little dagger, and there was a piece that one could take out of it and hold to make one invincible–I think there might have been others, but it’s been a few years since that game. One piece she tripped over, one piece she was given the location of, and I think she earned information on the locations of a few others by doing a task for someone but we never got to get out there and the game ended soon after.

Leave a Reply