Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Three Treasures

Detailed here are three treasures that draw from various inspirations--one taken from a project for a friend's company, one from the novel Treasure Island, and one from time spent on Wikipedia.

Also, happy St. George's Day to those who celebrate it; I've always thought this should be the official Dungeons & Dragons holiday.


The Bloody Banner
This item is a reinterpretation of an item created originally for the All Hands On Deck! sourcebook from Interaction Point Games. It uses a set of rules taken from the article "On the Dreadful Curses of Blood" written by T.S. Luikart and published in Issue 1 of the Bucanneers & Bokor ezine from Adamant Entertainment. This kind of synergy is what makes the D20 System and its derivative products a great thing.

There is a band of mercenaries operating out of Europe known as the Crimson Company. While many of them operate as soldiers for hire in a way that is nothing new to the world, a few harbor a deep, dark secret. The core members of the Company, those who serve aboard the flagship Sanguine, have all participated in a bloody ritual that has bonded them into a formidable fighting force. When they go into battle they hoist the Bloody Banner, a red flag that signals no quarter asked or give. What few know is that the flag is stained by, and imbued with power from, the blood of the Crimson Company's members as well as its victims. Every new recruit, upon learning how to invoke the curse, cuts one's hand and swears loyalty to the organization. Similarly, after every successful attack, they wash the flag in the blood of their enemies.

In game terms, the Bloody Banner lets the crew of the Sanguine use the Blood Curse skill to inflict a doom spell upon their enemies. Each member of the ship's crew must make a DC 15 Blood Curse skill check; success costs a sacrifice of five hit points per crew member, but inflicts the effects of that spell on everyone aboard the opposing vessel. While that is a hefty price to pay, the cutthroats who sail under this flag have developed a strategy whereby the weaker crew members hang back aboard their ship to snipe at enemies, while the stronger ones board the opposing vessel and enter into melee.

The Parrot
A classical element from tales of pirate loot is the treasure map. While this is generally envisioned as a sheet of paper or parchment with a geographical sketch and appropriate clues, or even an X. This option provides a less direct, more challenging method of leading to the prize. In this case, the parrot has been trained to recite the clues to finding it, provided it's fed the proper lines to prompt those responses.

For example, the trigger phrase, a line from Dante's Inferno, could bring the response "The river Styx from the mouth of Hades flows." This is a reference to the volcanic spring known as Hell's Gate on the island of Monserrat. There the PC's could find another phrase, which prompts the reply "Halfway between Ireland and England." That, of course, is a reference to the towns of Plymouth and Kinsale on that island. Finding that exact spot could lead to another clue or to the cache of treasure.
Refer to a previous article, "The Benediction," to find stats for a parrot.

Sea Beggars Medals
Much has been made of the conflict pitting Protestant England against Catholic Spain at the end of the Sixteenth Century, exemplified best by Sir Francis Drake's attacks on New World territories--leading to his circumnavigation of the globe--and the battle between the English fleet and the Spanish Armada. At the same time, however, the Netherlands was involved in an extended campaign to throw off Spanish rule. This led to numerous conflicts at sea, led by a cadre of capable sailors and captains known as Geuzen. While they have not become so famous as Drake, Hawkins and Frobisher, they were nonetheless just as capable of defending their homeland.

Indeed, it was a common practice to craft medals to celebrate these nautical warriors and their victories. One type features an anthropomorphic crescent moon inscribed with phrases meaning "Rather Turkish than Papist, in spite of the Mass." While many of these were simply mundane decorations, others were imbued with protective magical energy. In game terms, these function as amulets of natural armor +1, and +2 versus Catholic opponents.

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