Making Magic Items Inspired by Apocalypse World

D&D Ideas

When I read Apocalypse World I can see that (like me) Meguey and Vincent spent their college years playing Ars Magica. I can feel seasonal arcane lab work in the ole Savvyhead. Inspired by their Tinkering move in their Burned Over ruleset and a question on an RPG slack I frequent, here’s a move for making magic items in D&D:

So you want to make a magic item?
When you want to improve upon an item, enchant a mundane item or repair an item, tell your friends at the table what you want it to do. Is there something else that does it already? Let’s keep an eye on that for inspiration.
Is making this going to change the world forever? Let’s keep on eye on that and discuss it as a group because that’s cool but let’s make sure we’re not changing the world in a way that won’t make it fun to play or making a character useless.
Someone will take up the role as the DM for this process. They’ll say, “sure, no problem but…” and suggest 1 to 4 of the following.
• It is going to take time.
• First you are going to have to X
• You are going to need X to make this happen.
• It is going to cost a dragon’s hoard of gold.
• It is going to mean exposing yourself to dangerous arcane forces that could change the character forever.
• The best you’ll be able to do will be less than optimal, it’ll have limited charges or slow or weak or unreliable.
• You are going to need a wizard’s sanctum with X.
• It is going to take many attempts to get it just right.
• You are going to have to do an arcane ritual with X to get it done.
X should be attainable through a dangerous adventure or series of adventures.

by Judd Karlman
Inspired by Apocalypse World by D. Vincent Baker, Meguey Baker

I’ve been inspired by the Bakers many times. More recently, when I made a checklist to make a space station inspired by the Lawmaker playbook.

Forgive me as I imitate AW’s examples of play, my favorite examples from any RPG:

Silver Sword/Astral Queen Subject Divider

Bugwump the Frog-kin Wizard wants to add charges to Kuru’s Wand of Lightning. Poor Kuru, the Hobbit Thief, has been moping ever since the wand lost its oomph. “Clearly you need to go to a mountaintop and get this thing hit by lightning,” I say.

“Oooh, it should be a special mountain, holy to the Storm Giants,” Kuru’s player says.

Bugwump’s player says, “You aren’t making this easy.”

“It’ll be fun! What is the worst that could happen?”

“Lightning from a Storm Giant’s holy mountaintop. Sounds awesome. There is one you’ve heard about not too far away, the Sky’s Anvil…”

Silver Sword/Astral Queen Subject Divider

Jusko’s player wants to keep his ancestral blade but it isn’t magical.

“Maybe you could unlock its secret powers by vanquishing an ancestor who is making a nuisance of themselves as an undead menace…” Helewynn’s player says.

“That is amazing. Do you want to run that adventure?” I ask.

“Nah, I have some ideas about it that’ll email you, though,” Helewynn’s player says.

I nod, keeping an eye out for opportunities for new DM’s to take the reigns.

“My friends, could you help me vanquish my wraith great-uncle who is causing problems for the countryside?” Jusko asks his comrades.

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After another lightning wand goes dead in the middle of Strahd’s family tombs, Kuru throws the dead stick to the ground. “Bugwump! This is nonsense!”

Bugwump says, “I’m not just adding more charges to the wand this time.”

“That Storm Giant jarl nearly killed me!” Kuru says.

“I’m making a lightning pistol,” Bugwump says.

Kuru’s player becomes the living embodiment of the heart-eyes emoji.

“We have been rocking a western vibe. Are we okay with pistols that spit lightning in-game?” I say.

A long discussion about fantasy fiction and westerns and blending genres ensues. We agree that it is okay but don’t want pistols to become ubiquitous. I’ve got ideas on how to make certain that doesn’t happen.

“First, you are going to have to get a smith to make a pistol that can hold lightning,” I say.

“My sister is a smith. I could write her a letter,” Trundle’s player says.

“She might want a favor or a huge pile of gold to make a weapon like this – even for family, ” I say.

“Once it is completed you’ll have to get it hit by six different arcane lightning bolts from six different sources,” I say.

“I can throw a lightning bolt,” Bugwump says.

The group starts brainstorming where to get the other five lightning bolts – the local blue dragon who hit that merchant caravan last year, that monk who has a lightning fist, the Storm Giant who seemed ready to rebel against her father’s rule during a previous adventure…

Silver Sword/Astral Queen Subject Divider

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2 thoughts on “Making Magic Items Inspired by Apocalypse World

  1. Pingback: In the Wake of the Sorcerer-Kings – Githyanki Diaspora

  2. Pingback: Making a Well of Worlds – Githyanki Diaspora

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