Monday, August 20, 2012

1e AD&D Magic Items for Swashbuckling & Sorcery

What kind of magic items are appropriate to a swashbuckling & sorcery campaign, particularly given the kinds of character classes available?

Of the non-spellcasting classes, duelists, bandits, and mariners are all treated as fighters for purposes of magic items available, subject to the individual class restrictions for armor and weapons. The entertainer is treated as a thief but may not cast spells from scrolls.

Of the spellcasting classes, availability varies much more. The witch and the cloistered cleric are treated as a magic-users and clerics, respectively, for purposes of magic items, though the range of weapons and armor is limited for the cloistered cleric. The alchemist has a number of unique restrictions regarding magic items.

Taking a look at the magic items tables in the 1e AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, potions seem like a good fit for swashbuckling & sorcery campaign, particularly given the presence of the alchemist class. A potion of climbing and a philter of love seems like a potent combination for illicit romance.

Scroll use is as per the equivalent base class, with the exception of the entertainer, who cannot cast spells from scrolls like the thief, and the alchemist, who cannot use scrolls at all.

Rings are another good fit for swashbuckling & sorcery magic, and all of the classes may use rings not prescribed to a particular class (q.v., ring of wizardry).

Rods may resemble a fencing master's baton when carried by a duelist, while staves and wands are used by witches without restriction.

Among the many miscellaneous magic items available in the DMG, a few stand out as particularly appropriate for a swashbuckling & sorcery campaign. The alchemy jug and the beaker of plentiful potions will be highly prized by alchemists, while bracers of defense and cloaks of protection and displacement will be highly sought-after by the lightly-armored fighting classes as readily as the entertainer or spellcasters - but perhaps the code duello of the campaign world prohibits the wearing of magical items of defense during a duel? The broom of flying is a natural item in a campaign with witches.

The various helms, on the other hand, are likely less common - perhaps broad-brimmed hats receive enchantments instead? Javelins, nets, and tridents are rare except among seafarers.

In fact, whereas most of the other magic items can be used pretty much as written, magic weapons and armor are perhaps the most problematic without significant changes to the existing tables. Rather than short- and longswords or bastard swords, basket-hilted broadswords, rapiers (using stats from A Mighty Fortress for 2e AD&D), scimitars (as sabres and cutlasses), and even two-handed swords will make up the bulk of magical personal weaponry.

War hammers and polearms of all sorts, crossbows and bows, hand axes (particularly among mariners), and daggers remain, but maces and battle axes are rare or non-existant. Magical firearms and ammunition, again borrowed from A Mighty Fortress, might have a place in some swashbucking & sorcery campaigns as well.

Magical armor may be present but given that, with the exception of the mariner and the bandit, metal armor cannot be worn, it should likely be rare, with the aforementioned cloaks and rings of protection being more common.

In general, magic items in swashbuckling & sorcery should be selected based on genre appropriateness, and some unique, campaign-specific items - a magic fan which becomes a buckler, perhaps, or a magic cloak, which when wrapped around the forearm acts as a shield, or a mouchoir (scented handkerchief) which acts like a potion when inhaled - added.

Y'know, this could actually turn into a thing . . .


  1. There were some suggestions in the back of the 2e AD&D supplement, A Mighty Fortress but I think you've covered everything they've recommended.

  2. Instead of magic hats (admittedly traditional-but there is the bunny issue), how about magic plumes/feathers?

  3. Now to figure out 1E stats for rapiers and firearms. Of course, the firearms are helped along by the stats in Dragon magazine (#s 60 and 70, though neither has weapon vs armor type as I recall).

    1. A Mighty Fortress has the stats for rapiers and guns, but leaves out the weapon versus armor type table as well.

      I would use the stats for the lance to represent firearm balls and the short sword for the rapier.

  4. No pirate magic pearl (or other precious material)earrings?

    1. Yup, sounds like I'm gonna need to come up with a few unique magic items for this one, huh?

  5. The Eye Patch of Clairvoyance

    The Peg Leg of Jumping or Spider-Climbing

    +3 Hook or Hook of Disarming

  6. Sounds neat, though I personally don't enjoy magic mixed with swashbuckling. That was the only thing I didn't enjoy in the 1st Pirates of the Caribbean film.

    1. It's not my cup of tea, either. This really started out more as a thought experiment, but, that said, I could see perhaps running something like this for my kids when they get a little older.


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