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Magical Weapon Mastery

by Cab Davidson

I'll confess that there are a heck of a lot of additions I've made to my Dungeons and Dragons campaign over the years, but I've only ever shared a few of them online. Mostly I think they're not particularly applicable to other peoples campaigns, or just not that interesting to those outside of my group. But once in a while I think its worth sharing a few bits and bobs, and as this one isn't entirely my own idea its definitely one to put online.

This idea came from something posted by Bruce Heard, the former manager and major author of the Mystara setting. Its something from his own Calidar material (which you should check out) that he's expanded upon for classic (or Rules Cyclopedia) D&D.

UPDATE I'm calling this version 1 complete now. Let me know what you think.

Weapon Mastery for Specialist Magical Items

A spellcaster can attune a single item that becomes an extension of their spellcasting ability. Casters of Magic User spells can choose a wand, staff, ring or crystal. Casters of clerical spells can choose a holy symbol of their patron immortal. Wikka and shamen casters can select an appropriate gris-gris which is the equivalent of any of the items below (DM's discretion). Druids are limited to staffs and crystals.

A caster can only attune to a single item at a time Training in the use of the attuned item is never offered to outsiders so, for example, wizards in a particular nation may all be masters of crystals and will not train those from other nations in the use of the crystal. Such crafts are rare and secretive, potentially necessitating great standing in a theocracy or status within an organisation of wizards. This will be dependent on your campaign.

Attunement uses the same mechanism (and slots) as weapon mastery. Basic mastery allows the caster to attune to the specific item. Only one item can be attuned at a time (a ring user cannot be attuned to multiple rings, for example), and it must be used appropriately - i.e. a ring must be worn, a wand or staff wielded, a crystal held, etc. Further training works in the same way as for weapon mastery, taking the same amount of time and costing the same amount of gold, but trainers are rare and likely to be restricted to small geographical areas.

The item can be a mundane or magical - a wand, for example, may be a simple stick or a magic wand of any type. A staff can be a magical weapon or simple broom handle. If the approximate description fits, it can be attuned to. The attunement ritual (learned at basic level) takes 1dd hours, and can only be carried out once per month, at most.

Weapon mastery tables for each item are given below.

Ring Bonus Special
Basic - -
Skilled +2 Spell Levels Interrupt (30’)
Expert +4 Spell Levels Interrupt (60’, save -1)
Master +8 Spell Levels Interrupt (90’, Save -2)
Grand Master +12 Spell Levels Interrupt (120’, Save -4)

Wand Bonus Special
Basic - -
Skilled Range +10% Save -1
Expert Range +20% Save -2, Spell Deflect (1)
Master Range +40% Save -3, Spell Deflect (1)
Grand Master Range +80% Save -4, Spell Deflect (2)

Staff Bonus Special
Basic - -
Skilled Damage +1/4 dice Spell Deflect (1)
Expert Damage +1/3 dice Spell Deflect (2)
Master Damage +1/2 dice Spell Deflect (3)
Grand Master Damage +1/1 dice Spell Deflect (4)

Crystal Bonus Special
Basic - -
Skilled Save +1 Save -1
Expert Save +2 Save -2
Master Save +4 Save -4
Grand Master Save +6 Save -6

Holy Symbol - Energy Bonus Special
Basic - -
Skilled Turn +1d4 hd Undead Lore
Expert Turn +2d4 hd Undead Lore +1
Master Turn +4d4 hd Undead Lore +2
Grand Master Turn +6d4 hd Undead Lore +3

Holy Symbol - Matter Bonus Special
Basic - -
Skilled Healing +1/die Nature Lore
Expert Healing +2/die Nature Lore +1
Master Healing +3/die Nature Lore +2
Grand Master Healing +4/die Nature Lore +3

Holy Symbol - Thought Bonus Special
Basic - -
Skilled +2 Spell Levels Concentration
Expert +4 Spell Levels Concentration +1
Master +8 Spell Levels Concentration +2
Grand Master +12 Spell Levels Concentration +3

Holy Symbol - Time Bonus Special
Basic - -
Skilled Duration + 25% History Lore
Expert Duration + 50% History Lore +1
Master Duration + 100% History Lore +2
Grand Master Duration + 150% History Lore +3

Holy Symbol - Entropy Bonus Special
Basic - -
Skilled Conrtol Undead (1/4 level) Undead Lore
Expert Control Undead (1/2 level) Undead Lore +1
Master Control Undead (3/4 level) Undead Lore +2
Grand Master Control Undead (at level) Undead Lore +3

Bonus Spell Levels - the spellcaster can memorise the stated number of extra spell levels, divided as he sees fit. For example, an Expert with the ring can memorise four extra first level spells, a second and two first, a third and a first, or one fourth. The normal limit for spell levels is not changed, a caster may not memorise a higher level spell than they otherwise would be able to. And if the ring is removed, the same number of spell levels of memorised spells (determined randomly) are forgotten.

Range Increase - all spells can be cast with an increase in maximum range, as stated. Spells with a zero or touch range are unaffected, and areas of effect are not modified.

Damage Increase - any damage inflicting spell cast is increased in damage as stated. The minimum damage increase is +1, even where there are fewer damage diced rolled. For example, a third level magic user skilled with a staff would be able to cast a magic missile for 1d6+2 damage. A twentieth level magic user who is a master with a staff would inflict 20d6+10 damage to all within the area of effect of a fireball (although normal saving throws for half damage are unaffected).

Saving Throw Bonus - if the caster is wielding an attuned crystal they gain a saving throw to all saving throws vs. spells, wands, staves, rods and spell like effects (such as from a beholders eye stalks, for example). Saves versus natural attacks and breath weapons are not affected.

Interrupt - a ring user may choose to declare 'interrupt' as their intention for the round, in place of casting a spell or taking other actions. A single target within range is specified, and if that target chooses to cast a spell they must make a saving throw against wands to do so successfully. The result of a failed saving throw is that the spell is lost. Spells and spell like effects from devices (wands, staffs, etc.) are affected.

Saving Throw Penalty - while the attuned item is wielded, any saving throws against spells cast by the wielder are at the stated penalty.

Spell Deflect - the wielder of a staff may declare that it is their intention to deflect incoming spells that round. Spells to be deflected must be directly aimed at the wielder of the staff, rather than area of effect spells cast around them. Only one deflect attempt can be made per spell cast at the user, although multiple spells can be deflected in the same round. A spell is successfully deflected if the caster makes the normal save against the spell, but if no save is normally permitted a save vs. spells is allowed, but with a -4 penalty to the roll. A deflected spell is effectively re-directed towards another target, chosen by the wielder of the attuned staff, as long as sufficient range exists For example, if the mage wielding the attuned staff is targeted with a Power Word Kill, which has a 120' range from 90' away, only targets up to 30' away can be chosen. Deflecting a spell requires concentration - no other actions can be taken in the same round.

Undead Lore/Concentration/History Lore/Nature Lore - The wielder gains the general skill stated (with the stated bonus). If the skill is already known, a +1 bonus is gained in addition to any other bonuses due to a higher level of mastery.

Turn Bonus - Clerics with a mastery of holy symbols of Energy immortals gain a bonus to the total number of HD of undead affected by turning, whether the result is a turn detedmined by rolling 2d6, T, D, D+ or D#.

Healing Bonus - all healing spells cast by the cleric are affected, as is healing produced from wands or staffs of healing. For example an expert with a matter symbol casting Cure Serious Wounds would heal 2d6+6 instead of the usual 2d6+2

Control Undead - a cleric attuned to a symbol of an entropic immortal may, instead of trying to turn undead, try to control them. This is not the same as an avenger controlling undead, but uses the same mechanism as for undead lieges and pawns. The cleric operates as if an undead creature of their level in hit dice. Note that the same limitations also apply. Turning undead controlled thus works in the normal manner for breaking undead control, with a skilled wielder being treated as a wraith, an expert as expert a spectre, a master a phantom, and a grand master a spirit.