Magic Items for both Old School Role-playing Games and GURPS Dungeon Fantasy




This item is a wide brimmed hat with an enormous plume. The wearer, provided they are wearing no other headgear, is presumed to have +2 charisma when wearing it, and may cast Charm Person once per day. Additionally, if holding on to the hat with both hands while wearing it, the wearer will receive the benefits of a Feather Fall Spell if falling more than ten feet.( The wearer will fall at about ten feet per round), ostensibly to escape angry spouses via second floor window.


This item is a fine, ornate wide brimmed hat (+2 reaction) set with garnets, that enhances the appearance of the wearer by one level (average to attractive, ugly to unattractive, handsome to very handsome) and grants one level of the talent Smooth Operator,. Additionally  it allows the wearer to cast Persuasion and Loyalty at 15, for the usual fatigue costs, and if holding on to the hat with both hands, Slow Fall at 15 as well. This item may be used by bards and wizards.




This covered basket ( 4lbs)can create food (one ration worth) three times per day, provided it is covered and closed for at least an hour between meals. A picnic goodie basket (8lbs) can create enough food and drink once per day for up to six persons, including tablecloth, plates, flatware and cups, but all of the tableware must be returned to it or it will only produce half eaten food that may be spoiled (save vs poison)

This fragile covered basket (4lbs) can create food at 15 for 1 fp cost. A critical success will create essential food. Picnic basket (8lbs): this fragile picnicking set comes complete with service for 6, and for 6 FP can produce a feast for that many people. If any parts are missing, the quality  deteriorates, although it does not appear to, and those eating from it must make a HT roll or become sickened as per Sickness. Spells involved:create food, fools banquet. This Item may be used by any character.



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Two cursed swords

One of these was a requested part of a character build, the other was an option one of the characters bought into, claiming it as a reward for a successful mission.

The Butcher’s blade:

This is an ugly black blunt-tipped broadsword. It has Pussiance+1 and induces Bloodlust in the owner.  Using the DFRG rules, Pussiant Weapons have an added value of $5000, which amounts to 10 character points. Combined as a package with its disadvantage, the point cost is a flat 0, upped to one point for signature gear.


Hyppäävä Miekka, the blade that leaps.

This one was a little more difficult to parse; I worked with Ghostdancer on costing it out.

The blade that leaps is an intelligent, Fine, Ornate, Thrusting Broadsword, and fairly powerful. It’s name is written in runes on the blade. It is a Dancing Sword, and a Loyal one, and has Pussiance +1. Quite the bundle of positive features, it has a number of drawbacks.  The owner has the trifecta of Phantom Voices, Nightmares, and Light Sleeper as a result of its constant telepathic babble (These are considered charged to the PC’s disadvantages).  The sword is Noisy, thrumming loudly whenever drawn. The weapon is Jealous of all other blades, and its owner will find it in their hand any time they reach for another edged weapon… making cutting one’s meat a little difficult.  The weapon Also has bloodlust, and must draw blood daily. The impulse to do so can be resisted by will, but it costs the user 1 fp per day to resist.  Finally, the dancing ability also draws fatigue from the user, one point per minute. The item, with these complications, is treated as an artifact, topping out at a mere 25 point cost (30 points -5 points for the fatigue drain.) Built on a straight points for cash, would run it up to something like 140 points, so the character who owns it is very greatful I charged it out this way.


I had previously posted about the surprise I had when few of the PC’s in my game had bothered to attempt to build characters owning magical or silvered weapons as part of their character concept. This player walked in with the aim of being a fighting wizard with a dancing blade and the ability to cast magic missile and dimension door. I was willing to build an Apprentice with the 100pt “Haha now I can teleport” and 25 points worth of  the wizard/knight lens, but the player wanted something weapon focused.

I used a stripped down version of Squire+ Adept, and added the sword, half elf and magic bolt, for a moderate multiclassed character.

A windfall of source material

I got paid for my Holmes D&D inspired BlueHolme Journeymanne work (which I will release as an art bundle once it ships) and spent some of it on, well, Holmes.


Tales of Peril

I also did a little work for the Holmes inspired Zine Exciting! Imaginative! Fantastic!


The biggest windfall of inspiratory source material was an 18 volume set of Grolier’s mid seventies encyclopedia of esoterica, The Supernatural,  which I picked up from a street vendor for twenty bucks. The woodcuts of dragons alone was worth  it!


I have already laden my game with cults, using the DF15 cultist frequently, along with inspiration from Dark Albion’s  Cults of Chaos, and Dark Naga’s Hastur Cult as seen in the Temple of Forgotten Evil.

I had run a modern day GURPS Horror game in the nineties that featured real cults from the seventies, like the snuff trading, LSD selling Process Church of the Last Judgement. That game ran quite a few years, and included a character who was an albino were-python cab driver, a surgeon discovering the physiological effects of being a zombie, a filthy rich dilletante who later became a vampire, and an FBI agent.

Ah, good times then! Let’s see what is in store for my players now!


GURPS Magic and Me


One of the things that sold me on GURPS as a system back in ’88-’89 in addition  to the cool advantage  and disadvantage  write-ups  and the way skills were treated, was the magic system.  I had issues with Vancian  magic at the time, although I   keep Tales of the Dying Earth in a special place on my shelves, near The Magicians, The Name of the Wind, and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

Also occupying a sizeable portion of my shelves is my collection of occult books. I am a practicing pagan, and my assorted collections of folk magic have a personal meaning to me. One of the authors in the world of neopagan publishing happens to be Isaac Bonewits , the only known person to have graduated  UC Berkeley  with a BA in Magic. He also wrote a gaming supplement  publushed by Steve Jackson  Games called Authentic Thaumaturgy .  I had seen it at a game shop  years ago, but only picked it up in the last few years.

Some of his concepts about the Laws of Magick made it into very popular  book The Master of the Five Magics, by Lyndon  Hardy.  Traces of them show up in Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden  books, and in David Edding’s Belgariad.  Some of them are dealt with neatly in Fritz Lieber’s ConjureWife, and Robert A Heinlein also approached them in Waldo and Magic, Inc.

The GURPS “vanilla” magic has little to do with these narratives. There was a hint of something in the improvised rules, a little in the Rune magic system in Magic, and some bits I don’t  recall well from a White Wolf Adaptation of Mage (there weren’t  enough pre scripted spell effects for my taste). When GURPS  Voodoo came out, we saw the birth of what would later become Ritual Path Magic . It was interesting, but my game operated at a much lower  point range.

Technomancer  was an awesome addition to the field; I used a lot from this.

A few years later, there was Unlimited  mana magery, or umana, which in some ways echoed aspects of the spell  failure system  from Mage the Ascension. A major campaign  event in my game was the result of a catastrophic  umana event.

Aftet this came 4e, and Thaumatology. Then came DF, the subsystem I play, (which has this awesome kickstarter as a game that makes a better intro to GURPS  than anything else, please go back this!)

There are a lot of in depth discussions about Thaumatology; some of the better ones are on Psedobobo’s blog Let’s GURPS.

There have been a number  of alternate systems for magic since then; Sorcery, which does a magic as powers thing, precedented with the introduction of Magic Bolt in DF 11: Power Ups, and in keeping with GURPS  Powers, but not holding a flavor I really like. There is also Ritual Path Magic, which has heavy fan support, but is a little mathy and sparse on the Grimoire end for my preferences. I am much more of a plug and play kinda guy; I am not trying to design advantages and rituals; I  have too many munchkins in my  game to not be checking the math, and it isn’t  my strong suit. Ymmv.


Ghostdancer, my good friend Christopher Rice,  together with Antoni Ten Monros, has just released DF 19 Incantation Magic, which primarily  is RPM for DF, but has something rather brilliant in it.

One of Bonewits’ criticisms  of Vancian (and most roleplaying  game depictions of magic) is the ideas that spells, once cast, are forgotten,  and, that they can be cast quickly. He proposedthat one might, through a careful, lengthy, and preplanned ritual, build an “astral machine” designed to generate a magical effect, and store energy for the effect, that the practitioner  could then release later with a ritual shortened by autohypnotic trance; effectively building a spell in reserve before the adventure, and rapidly releasing it with an abreviated casting during it.

Not too  far fromt he characters in   the Dying Earth who would arm themselves  with a few spells, and feel them buzzing about in their heads until released.

Not far at all from Incanters attaching prepared and extensive rituals to their auras and quick casting later. I checked with Ghostdancer, and Authentic Thaumaturgy  was not on his list of researched books for DF 19;  great minds think alike, it would seem. Incantation  magic has it’s  casters preload spells to cast later, and are limited to otherwise weak improvised  magic. It sounds like classic dungeon wizardry, and should appeal to those who find the standard system  too vanilla. Go pick it p!