Thursday, April 23, 2020

Random Table: Strange starting items and how you got them

Summary: A random table featuring thirty peculiar items to be given to characters during creation, as well as a list of ways the characters may have acquired the said items. Weirdness abound.

The main source of inspiration has been the starting items and oddities list over at the Tomb of the Wandering Millennial. I used it to great effect last week when a new group of players was creating characters for an upcoming game. Everyone enjoyed the list of oddities, since there are some interesting items on it and some of the results fit the characters perfectly. 

However, I felt that the said items needed an extra something to make the randomness even more effective, thus I wrote the list below. Some items are useful, some are horrible and some are mundane, but all of them strange. As I said, this was made to be used during character creation, but I guess that it can be used just as easily as a random table of magical items in an ongoing game.

No specific instructions needed for this, since I tried to make it straight forward. A single d30 roll tells you everything, which item the PC gets, what they think/believe the item does and the final column is what the item actually does. Completely up to the GM how/when/if they reveal the true potential of the item to the player.

"Vanitas - Still Life" by Pieter Claesz

d30 Item gained What the PC thinks it does? What it actually does?
1. Tarnished urn full of ashes Ashes of a long dead relative, might have sentimental value, but otherwise worthless.  Magical urn holding the ashes of the first witch. Make of this what you will. 
2. 20 meter rope made out of silk It can withstand any amount of weight. If a person is hung from an oak tree using this rope, the body will disappear upon death.
3. Small pouch with three seeds inside The seeds will make the owner rich. If an animal eats a seed, it turns to copper.
If another humanoid eats a seed, their nails become silver.
If the PC eats a seed, their teeth turn to gold. 
4. A silver tooth with many scratches  The person with the tooth in their mouth are compelled to tell the truth.  Does the exact thing as described.
5. An ancient map made on tattered parchment, the names of locations faded, but with one circled spot Leads to a location of a family crypt, sadly raided and left derelict long ago. Leads to a location of a negadungeon, but with an item of campaign importance at its heart. 
6. Small wooden cross, "St. Actias" engraved at the bottom Brings the mind at ease during times of great distress. If used in any kind of pitch darkness, summons a swarm of tiny moths carrying lanterns. 
7. The Blessed Spear of Lungheen Destined to kill the greatest foe of its owner.  Nothing, it's just a finely ornamented spear. Worth 5000sp.
8. A pair of wooden dice with carved pips, sides being: 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 6 Nothing, badly crafted mundane item for obvious cheating. To everyone else, but the owner, the dice look like normal 1-6 dice. 
9. A belt buckle made out of a carved human vertebra If worn, wearer will die upon entering any holy place (monastery, church...)  If worn, the wearer is completely invisible to any undead creature.
10.  An old, yet well preserved, chess figurine of a Rook Mundane item of good craftsmanship. Worth 1000sp.  Knock with the bottom side of the figurine on any object three times  to completely obliterate both.
11.  Rosary beads, but the bottom half of the cross is missing The monk who was the original owner was a heretic and thus the beads are cursed in an unknown way.  Boosts will-related saves of the PC (which should be altered by the GM, secretly)
12.  A polished silver coin It's just a coin, but exceptionally shiny.  Even if thrown away or used for payment, the coin will always reappear in the PC's pocket. 
13.  A black pocket bell with white sigils  If "hit" with the right set of sticks, it will produce the divine melody of the Angels. No matter what you hit it with, it will produce a pain inducing sound for everyone. Literally. Roll for damage.
14.  Small dog whistle made out of ivory Mundane, only dogs can hear it. The sound is heard by a rain goddess and thus if it is blown during a storm, she will disperse all clouds. However, she will, at some point, desire the PC to repay the favor. 
15.  Ebony mask of a human with no eyes Mundane. Might fetch a good price with a proper collector. If worn in certain mystical areas, the wearer may travel between worlds. 
16.  Ring made of human bone in the shape of a skull When worn, the wearer will be able to communicate with a recently deceased corpse. Conversation can last up to five minutes, after which the corpse is "dead". Does the exact thing as described.
17.  Earrings with purple hanging stones They make any wearer attractive. Mundane item, you're already attractive, you sexy bastard.
18.  Small vial filled with moss  Vicious species of moss, currently in hibernation.  Cuddly moss species that makes an extremely comfortable sleeping mattress for the owner. 
19.  An exotically crafted and perfectly balanced spinning top  Mundane, but probably valuable.  If the owner spins it while drinking tea, it won't stop spinning until they drink the last drop. This ritual heals the owner completely. 
20.  Beautifully crafted golden torq in the shape of a snake with two heads Invokes magical hate and envy in other sentient creatures. Nothing is magical and nobody hates you, they just want your pretty looking torq. 
21.  A worn-out chess figurine of a King Worthless, mundane item. The soul of the most just king the lands have ever known is trapped inside. 
22.  Leather-bound book, 2.000 pages of just random words.  Gibberish, probably worth something to a desperate enough collector.  If read in its entirety, the reader becomes a person of interest for the followers of the Amber King. 
23.  A tightly sheathed sword   The sword should never be unsheathed, for it will bring the apocalypse upon the world.  There is no blade, it's just a hilt and it is mundane. Well crafted though. 
24.  A necklace with a spiral made of black stone The wearer begins seeing spiral patterns everywhere Does the exact thing as described. There has to be some meaning behind all these...
25.  A rustic hourglass  Mundane.  Freezes time for everyone outside of a one mile radius. 
26.  Purple candle Once lit, nothing can extinguish its flame unless the owner desires. Does the exact thing as described.
27.  A rabbit's foot, somewhat twisted and wrong Brings good luck to the owner.  True, in a sense that it brings misfortune to everyone else around the owner. 
28.  Cat's Eye marble  Mundane, but probably worth a lot. Somewhere in the far corners of the world there lives an ancient Rakshasa, searching for his stolen eye.  
29.  A sword with a splintered blade  A relic said to have been shattered when it was used to slay an angel.  True. Also, when used against angelic and demonic creatures, the blade is whole, although still nonexistent. Ignores armor of said creatures. 
30.  A letter closed by wax with the royal seal Obviously for the royal family to read. If opened, in beautiful handwriting it reads: "The choir did it!" When delivered, should drastically change the political landscape of the campaign (kingdoms go to war, dynasties fall, kings are toppled, etc.)
If delivered, yet previously opened, the royal family will demand the execution of the messenger.

If your players are stumped as to where their level 0 or level 1 character got such an item or you as the GM want to randomize everything about these, here are a few ideas. Flesh out/edit/add as needed.

How you acquired the item? Roll d12:
1. Not sure, you had it your entire life.
2. Gambled and won, fair and square.
3. Gambled, cheated and won. The previous owner is aware of being tricked and is now vengeful.
4. It was a gift from a dying friend.
5. The previous owner was killed and the item taken from their dead hands.
6. It is an heirloom.
7. It is an heirloom, but is tied to a feud between multiple family members.
8. Stolen in an organized heist of an estate of a wealthy politician.
9. Found it buried in the ground close to home.
10. Bought it for cheap from a traveling merchant, it was a bargain.
11. It was left on your doorstep.
12. You won it in a bet.

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