Wonderful Wondrous Items

My favorite treasure has always been wondrous items. Magic weapons and armor are always nice, but they pretty much have one use. Wondrous items can tickle the imagination and inspire creative uses. And I don’t just mean the 1,000 uses sovereign glue. I’m talking about the time we summoned a small boat to bridge a pit trap that was too far to jump.

This past week our DM let us choose a fresh magic item to round out some treasure parcels to get the party up to our power level. Choosing a free item from any book in the compendium is a challenge worthy of XP as any encounter with Trolls. My party is made up people passionate about their characters and who want the best chance of success for themselves as well as the party. Before I reveal how we really handled this is as a group, here is a real-life skill challenge, inspired by this quandary:

nerdy fight

Photo curtosey http://www.flickr.com/photos/captaintim/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Take an item rusting in the party pool and exchange it for free with anything available in DDI; go! You have to make 5 successes before the DM decides to punish you all for taking too long or for fighting.

Arcana: You remember about a useful item from a Dragon magazine, get a +2 to your next History or Diplomacy roll.
Athletics: wrestle the Adventurer’s Vault out of your teammate’s hands.
Bluff: You get a party member to advocate for an item that really helps you although he thinks it helps him.
Diplomacy: You make an impassioned speech about why your character really needs an item and how much better off we’d all be if you had that Horn of Summoning.
Dungeoneering: The party is headed into the Underdark. Vote for an anti-Drow ritual.
Endurance: Everyone else is too tired to keep arguing with you. You automatically win.
History: You’ve been bitten by a Medusa the last time you played a 9th level Fighter. Argue for a mirrored shield.
Insight: Why does the wizard want a gem of soul trapping? He swore he wasn’t playing an evil character.
Intimidate: Let me have that Waraxe +2, or else!
Perception: You see that Deck of Many Things up the rogue’s hand. Call shenanigans, and he gets a -2 to Charisma-based checks.
Stealth: Where did Brad go? He must be a ninja. Give him a magic katana before he flips out and kills us.
Streetwise: How thoughtful of you to bring the DM glazed donuts. How’d you know they are her favorite?
Thievery: Steal all the handbooks. Now only you get to decide.

Of course that describes a hypothetical situation. What really happened was 20 minutes of us searching the books for the best item of that level for our characters in the current situation. I headed off the potential argument of which character should get it by suggesting we get a wondrous item that would benefit the whole party. Not only can such items be passed between players, but they are versatile: prone to creative uses in sticky situations.

fantasy map

Original photo courtesy http://www.flickr.com/photos/mararie/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

The item we chose was the Map of Unseen Lands [DDI] from Adventurer’s Vault 2. This map draws the nearby surroundings at the large building/geographical feature level. I thought it would be useful for tracking down the rogue wizard we are hunting in her secret temple lair. It also shows potential danger/xp zones like monster lairs and known and secret travel paths, which make for great escapes from bad places. Unfortunately I think my party-mates still think this is the Marauder’s Map from Harry Potter. This particular map doesn’t show people or fine building details, but I think this will be a great thing to have story wise. I guess we still need to come up with an explanation as to why we have it. The only downside mechanically is that redrawing the map counts as a magic item daily.

I wonder how other parties figure out up-for-grabs wish-list treasure?