Image by: SoulRider.222
In my first article in the Adventurer’s Toolbox series, I talked about the Immovable Rod, and how it ranked amongst the most useful items in the game. Next up in this series is a group of items, collectively known as Feather Tokens. These oft-overlooked items can be both a lot of fun and super-useful. First, let’s take a look at their entry in the Pathfinder SRD:
Aura strong conjuration; CL 12th
Slot —; Price 50 gp (anchor), 300 gp (bird), 200 gp (fan), 450 gp (swan boat), 400 gp (tree), 500 gp (whip); Weight —
Each of these items is a small feather that has a power to suit a special need. The kinds of tokens are described below. Each token is usable once. A particular feather token has no specific features to identify it unless its magic aura is viewed—even tokens with identical powers can be wildly different in appearance.
Anchor: A token that creates an anchor that moors a craft in water so as to render it immobile for up to 1 day.
Bird: A token that creates a small bird that can be used to deliver a small written message unerringly to a designated target. The token lasts as long as it takes to carry the message.
Fan: A token that forms a huge flapping fan, causing a breeze of sufficient strength to propel one ship (about 25 mph). This wind is not cumulative with existing wind speed. The token can, however, be used to lessen existing winds, creating an area of relative calm or lighter winds (but wave size in a storm is not affected). The fan can be used for up to 8 hours. It does not function on land.
Swan Boat: A token that forms a swan-like boat capable of moving on water at a speed of 60 feet. It can carry eight horses and gear, 32 Medium characters, or any equivalent combination. The boat lasts for 1 day.
Tree: A token that causes a great oak to spring into being (5-foot-diameter trunk, 60-foot height, 40-foot top diameter). This is an instantaneous effect.
Whip: A token that forms into a huge leather whip and wields itself against any opponent desired just like a dancing weapon. The weapon has a +10 base attack bonus, does 1d6+1 points of nonlethal damage, has a +1 enhancement bonus on attack and damage rolls, and a makes a free grapple attack (with a +15 bonus on its combat maneuver checks) if it hits. The whip lasts no longer than 1 hour.
Individually, any one of these items is inexpensive, and full of fun uses. Let’s tackle them one at a time.
Anchor: At first glance, this one seems pretty mundane. It makes… an anchor. However, with very little reinterpretation from the GM needed, you can assume many things about this anchor. First, it’s pretty heavy. It has to be to keep a ship from moving. It also doesn’t specify the size of the anchor, so one could assume that it’s large enough to moor, say, an ocean-going warship. If it’s that big, and that heavy, just think of all of the land-bound things that it could keep from moving (especially if you assume that a chain comes included). As well, if being heavy, it would do some serious damage if dropped upon something. Take inspiration from any of the encounters between Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, and go from there.
Bird: I have to admit, this one has a fond place in my heart. This is the item that got me thinking about utility magic items in the first place. I was running a game session recently, I was ad-libbing some stuff, and I found that I needed a small magic item to give to the party. Without even thinking about it, I had them find a Bird Feather Token. Later on that session, the group was caught between a rock and a hard place, and their commanding officer was nowhere to be found.
So, the group used the token to send him a message. I knew where the NPC was, and knew that he was alive. He was also a Cleric, so he was able to use Sending to give them orders. I hadn’t even thought that they would use this item, but it turned out to be the very things that advanced the plot in the most perfect way.
Think of these guys as little, magical messenger pigeons. In war, they would have unbelievable utility, and, in a sufficiently magical world, I cannot see why any patrol or warband would not have at least one of these on hand at all times.
Fan: This one is a little trickier, especially with the prohibition on using it on land. However, there are ways around that. The implication, since the description mentioned a boat, is that it must be used while on water. If I were running the game, I would allow it to be used on any body of water, including a moat or a river. Imagine traversing an underground series of caves that includes a river. Your doughty warrior steps on something that lets loose a cloud of nasty spores. Step into the river and activate the fan. Voila, instant Zone of Clean Air. As well, its intended use as a vehicle mover is handy in its own right.
Swan Boat: Two phrases for you – Elemental Plane of Water, and, Water Breathing. In a situation like this, it’s feasible to breathe, but the currents could well prevent you from moving around. Again, I try to be flexible, and I would gladly allow the group to use the Swan Boat to maneuver underwater at its given speed. Plus, they’re perfect to have around during a shipwreck. Though no self-respecting pirate would want to be caught dead in a boat resembling a swan, most pirates also can’t swim. Swallow your pride, drop some gold on a Swan Feather Token and live to plunder another day.
Tree: This one is, hands down, my favorite. The first use that always comes to mind is a Johnny Appleseed-type Druid who makes and drops these things down wherever he or she wants to begin a new forest. Imagine waking up to see a brand-new forest where your backyard used to be. It’s the ultimate in guerrilla gardening. My other favorite use to imagine (I’ve not been lucky enough to see it in action yet) is for someone with a high CMB to grapple an opponent with one of these in their hand. One the opponent is pinned, the grapple shoves the Tree Token into the pinned opponent’s mouth. One more round and the token gets activated. BOOM. One new tree complete with grey matter fertilizer.
Whip: The enterprising Rouge’s best friend. You say you’re looking to use that spiffy Sneak Attack that your class gives you, but you can never get a flank, an your Bluff skill is so weak, you couldn’t feint your way past the automatic door at the supermarket? The fret no more! Just get yourself a passle of Whip Tokens, and let these guys grapple your opponents into a flat-footed state so you can make with the stabbing.
As well, it’s not a far stretch to think that these lovelies could grapple inanimate objects, so let them do their thing and make yourself an instant, stylish getaway. Every dashing rogue has wanted to use a whip to catch onto a balcony or convenient overhang, but not everyone wants to spend the time becoming proficient. Spend your money instead and buy your proficiency.
Not a one of these items costs more than 500gp, and they don’t take a lot of proficiency for a spellcaster to make. So, the next time you want to give out something that your players can use creatively, or you’re an adventurer looking to make an impact on the cheap, don’t flip too quickly past these guys. Take a look, and set your imagination loose.
[tags]role playing, rpg, rpgs, adventurer’s toolbox, D&D, Pathfinder, role playing games[/tags]