Roleplayer #22, November 1990

What's In the Chest?

Outtakes from GURPS Magic Items

by Chris McCubbin, with Daniel Thibault

Here are just a few of the wonders we didn't have room for in GURPS Magic Items. These and others may someday appear in GURPS Magic Items II.

We are looking for even more magic items for Magic Items II. We particularly need new swords, armor, mage-specific items and thief's tools, but all good ideas are welcome. If your idea is used, you'll receive a complimentary copy of GURPS Magic Items II signed by the writer and editors. (The usual legalities: All submissions become property of Steve Jackson Games, and none can be acknowledged or returned.)

Send your magic item ideas to Steve Jackson Games, Box 18957, Austin, TX 78760, attention: Chris W. McCubbin.


Dancing Shield

With a variation of the Dancing Weapon spell, shields can be enchanted to protect their owner as if wielded by an invisible shield-bearer. The shield has skill 15, speed 5 (this can be improved to skill 18, Speed 6 by doubling the energy cost – double once to improve skill, again to improve Speed), and a ST (for bashing purposes) equal to the power of the spell. It will follow its owner's mental or spoken instructions as to which side to guard (right, left, rear, front or above). If the owner is knocked out, the shield will continue protecting him to the best of its abilities. If the owner dies, the shield falls to the ground.

The shield can attempt to Block two attacks per turn, regardless of its owner's actions. The owner can attempt to parry or dodge any blow that gets past the shield. It can be instructed to bash (B123), in which case its owner forfeits the shield's protection for that turn.

An attack on the shield is at -4 plus PD (so a small shield is attacked at a -2, a medium at -1, and a large at no penalty). Note that the shield will try to Dodge an attack aimed at itself, with the same skill as its Block. The shield could also be netted or bagged (standard to-hit roll). If the shield gets a critical miss, or is struck by a critical hit, it is stunned and out of the fight until its owner grasps it and "wakes it up" (treat as a Ready maneuver). The shield loses its magic if destroyed (see sidebar, p. B120). If penetrated by an impaling weapon, it loses one point of skill, speed, and power.

Shatterproofing the shield prevents it from being penetrated. Deflect, Fortify, and Lighten are also good enchantments to add to a Dancing Shield.

Component Spells: Dancing Weapon.
Asking Price: $75,000 per pound of shield's weight.

Roundabout Armour

This suit of armor will Roundabout its wearer to face a surprise attack, at no energy cost to the wearer. The magic will not operate if the wearer is already in combat.

This enchantment was first designed for a noble who feared treachery on the field of battle. Though the enchantment version of the Roundabout spell is not generally known, the effect has been duplicated several times.

The wearer of the armor must make a Body Sense roll (see p. M94) or become disoriented for one turn. This somewhat undercuts the effectiveness of the armor. However, under certain circumstances the GM may also require the attacker to roll vs. IQ to avoid being mentally Stunned when his prey suddenly and magically spins to face him.

Component Spells: Roundabout, Sense Danger.
Asking Price: $50,000.


Animal Parts

Animal Parts can be any of several different sorts of clothing which Shapeshift the part of the body they're worn over into a corresponding animal part.

Tiger gloves: These gloves turn the wearer's hands into a tiger's paws, complete with the associated strength. The wearer acquires an effective ST of 35 for hand-to-hand attacks, doing a normal hand-to-hand damage of 2d cutting. While wearing the gloves, the wearer cannot wield a weapon or engage in any activities that require fine manipulation. The effective increased ST applies only to hand-to-hand attacks, and will not increase lifting or carrying capacity, or Fatigue.

Asking Price: $75,000.

Mountain Goat Boots: By putting on the boots, the user's feet become mountain goat hooves. He acquires the skills Climbing and Jumping at 14 each – the Climbing skill, however, is only usable on mountains. The wearer will also leave tracks like a goat's hooves.

Asking Price: $50,000.

Winged Shirt: When the shirt is worn, the user's arms become wings, allowing him to fly at speeds up to twice his normal ground speed. Wingspan is twice height; in order to take off or land, the user must have an open area with a radius equal to wingspan in all directions. Flying is an exhausting activity – assess fatigue penalties as if running or swimming (p. B134 sidebar). Encumbrance is also a limiting factor (see B139). Self-Powered Flight is a Physical/Average skill defaulting to DX-4; the only way to learn it is to practice!

Asking Price: $75,000.

Animal Parts Clothing is created almost exclusively by the Leprechauns. Some human enchanters claim to have duplicated the effect, but they cannot do so reliably. There is no energy cost to the wearer, and the effect persists until the clothing is removed. Until the wearer consciously removes the items, they are, in all respects, part of his body.

Component Spell: hypothetical Shapeshift Body Part enchantment spell; whatever it is, it's a Leprechaun secret.

Religious Paraphernalia

Icon of Divine Guidance

This talking religious symbol is mostly a curiosity. Whenever it is asked a question, it will respond with an appropriate quotation from the holy scriptures of the cult that made it. It is not an oracle of divine wisdom, it is simply programmed to respond to certain key words with certain quotations. If asked, for instance, "how can we slay the dragon?" it might respond, "Will not the Mighty One defend the pure of heart? Even the dragons of the air tremble before his footsteps." A question such as "How can we defeat our enemies?" might earn the response "Thine enemy's hate is a fire which consumes him from within. Be not thou likewise consumed."

Note, however, that a party that is not familiar with the scriptures in question might well believe they are receiving actual oracular guidance (although couched in a typically inscrutable fashion).
The Icon can also be commanded to quote extensive passages, or even the entire scriptures in order (a process which might take several days to several years, depending on the sect). It will also sing hymns and psalms in a pleasant baritone.

These items are favorite toys of the pious rich. They are also frequently incorporated into shrines at temples or other places of worship.

Component Spells: Voices (advanced variant).
Asking Price: $100,000.


Portrait Stone

A Portrait Stone is typically a round or oval stone 2 to 12 inches in diameter. The stone is cut open at the center and the inside surface is polished.

The first person to touch the stone after the enchantments are complete becomes its owner for life. The polished surface will thereafter show an idealized image of the individual the owner loves most. The image will never change in any way, unless someone else supplants the pictured individual in the owner's affection. The image vanishes when the owner dies.

Wealthy wives often present these stones to their husbands to insure their fidelity. Senior churchmen have also been known to present them to their subordinates, who are honored or promoted if the image that appears is that of the sect's deity or patron saint (and sometimes punished if it is not).

The stone is created by coupling a Simple Illusion spell with an obscure variant of the Mind Reading spell. The enchanter must also be an excellent artist – the final roll to establish the Simple Illusion is made vs. the enchanter's spell skill or his Artist skill, whichever is less.

Component Spells: Mind Reading, Simple Illusion.
Asking Price: $25,000.

Magical Pets


The Mage-cat is a catlike automaton that hunts rodents, birds and other pests. A Mage-spider is a similar creation in the form of a spider, that hunts insects, killing the bugs and destroying their nests. It's about one inch in diameter.

The Mage-cat and Mage-spider are created using a simple variant of the Golem spell. Both require master-level craftsmanship (Sculpting 20 or thereabouts) to create a suitable image to enchant. Either one can be created using any substance that can go to make a golem. The energy cost to activate a Mage-cat or Mage-spider is the same as the cost to activate a golem of the same substance.

Both sorts of construct are highly efficient hunters. One Mage-cat and a half dozen Mage-spiders are normally enough to keep a mansion or small keep completely vermin free. A clay Mage-cat has ST 3, DX 15, IQ 5, HT 14/5. A clay Mage-spider has ST 1, DX 15, IQ 3, HT 14/3. They gain 1 hit point and 1 point of ST if made from stone or bronze, 2 each if made from iron. Neither can be trained or ordered to do anything except hunt, though there are rumors of attack-trained, venomous ones.

Component Spells: Golem (variant).
Asking Price: $9,020 (for clay) to $40,000 (for iron or crystal).


Replicating Mirror

The Replicating Mirror is a full-length, free-standing mirror with a polished wooden frame and base, and wooden shutters covering the glass. If anyone stares at himself in the mirror for at least a turn, and makes a Will roll, his reflection will step out of the mirror, a perfect duplicate in every way. The duplicate will serve its original loyally. It will remain in existence for 1d days, then vanish, but all its memories and experiences will be communicated back to the original at the moment it vanishes. However, the memories will be lost if the duplicate is killed before its normal span of existence is up.

If the Will roll is a critical success, the character rolls 2d. On a natural 12 the duplication is permanent. This permanent duplicate can never transfer its memories, but will remain a loyal ally for life.

The mirror may have only one duplicate out at any time. While a duplicate is out the mirror will cloud over, and nothing will be visible within. The mirror clears when the duplicate dies or vanishes. A permanent duplicate will not cloud the mirror.

The duplicate may be played by the GM or the player, depending on circumstances.

There are several of these items, though nobody knows where they came from. At least one is cursed, and produces morally opposite duplicates. These duplicates will seek to kill their original, in order to take his place. Another mirror produces cross-sex duplicates – all stats are identical, but the duplicate has the opposite gender to the original. There are stories of other variant mirrors; indeed, it is possible that no two of them are really alike.

Component Spells: Unknown (a variant Creation spell?).
Asking Price: $1,000,000.

Farm and Garden Tools

Stone Whistle

This is an ordinary-seeming wooden slide whistle. When it's blown, all stones more than an inch across and less than a yard, and buried less than a foot under the ground, will rise to the surface. The whistle has an effective range about 10 hexes in diameter. Its user does not have to be a mage, but cannot be Magic Resistant. Each use of the whistle drains three Fatigue points from the user.

The whistle is intended to make it easy to clear a field before planting, but they are very popular among treasure hunters (the whistle will call a buried bit of metal – like a coin – just as easily as a pebble). Thus, the whistle could be used to call up a cache of coins or jewelry hidden under a wooden floor.

The stone whistles are the invention of the Gnomes, who seldom if ever share the secret of their creation with enchanters of other races – because the Gnomes like to bury their personal treasures! Therefore, the whistles are somewhat more expensive to non-Gnomes than might be expected for an item of their power level.

Component Spells: unique Gnomish "Call Stone" spell.
Asking Price: $35,000.

Wilderness Equipment

Treespeech Talisman

This is a carved amulet of unpolished wood which allows its wearer to talk to trees. The talisman can, once per day, awaken one tree or bush of any sort to speech (GM's option whether to extend the talisman's power to, for example, cacti, bamboo, seaweed and similar exotica).

Trees have an IQ of 9 and 30-point Eidetic Memory. A tree can tell everything it's heard or seen since it sprouted – and will! Anyone wishing to ask a tree if the bandits passed by carrying the king's sword can expect to first hear hundreds of details about their mounts, headgear, conversation, mannerisms and what the local squirrels thought of the whole affair before the tree ever gets around to mentioning the sword (or its absence). Think of a octogenarian asked to recall a childhood Christmas – trees talk like that about everything. A completely clear, straightforward and simple question might be answered in 10 to 60 minutes. Anybody foolish enough to ask a tree "Have you seen anybody" or some similar generality might just as well go home, unless they have a century or two to spare. There's no stopping them once they get started, either. A tree will completely answer the first question put to it before moving on to the next, and will ignore any attempts to correct or clarify the question.

Once the talisman is taken more than 100 yards from the tree, the tree will fall silent, and cannot be reawakened for one year.

The Treespeech Talisman is an Elven enchantment, and a very ancient one. The Elves still own most of these items, but a few wizards of other races have been said to have reproduced the effect. The user of the talisman must be a mage, and each use drains 5 points of Fatigue.

Component Spells: hypothetical Elven "Treespeech" spell.
Asking Price: $60,000.



The Soupstone is an advanced variant of the Create Food enchantment. It's usually a smooth stone about the size of a fist.

When the Soupstone is thrown into a pot of boiling water, it will, in 10 minutes, turn the water into a rich, nourishing broth. Most stones can transform up to a gallon of water each use, but there are a few very large stones that can be placed into a kettle to make tens or even hundreds of gallons at one time. The stone can produce soup continuously, simply by being dropped into a new pot once the last pot is done.

A person can live indefinitely on a pint of Soupstone soup three times a day. The soup will keep very well in any stoppered container. Most people find that a diet consisting entirely of Soupstone soup becomes intolerable after about a week.

The stone will purge the water it's thrown into of all impurities, even poison. It will not, however, work at all with alcohol or anything except water.

Soupstones are one of the very few magic items to be developed by a Halfling. They were first created almost two centuries ago by a Halfling chef and mage. They are generally considered, however, to be much too expensive in comparison to the benefits gained.

Component Spells: Create Food (variant).
Asking Price: $60,000.

(Back to Roleplayer #22 Table of Contents)

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