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Welcome to Outland
A Guide to Outland
Races of Outland
Classes of Outland
Character Creation
Societies of Outland
Geography of Outland
Creatures of Outland
Magic of Outland

"Magic exists. Magic does not unexist. Only a fool believes he can kill magic, yes?"
     - Mentor Araskor Blackmantle

In AD&D, little attention is paid to the destruction of magical items. How hard is it? Can it even be done? What happens when a magic item is destroyed? Of course, complete rules for the destruction of an artifact are given, but standard magical items are not covered. This system attempts to fill in that gap.

The Nature of Magic

Just what is magic? Well, simply put, magic is a form of energy, like any other. And like regular energy, magic can neither be created or destroyed. When a magician casts a spell or enchants an item, he draws in magical energy, channels it through his body, and uses it to create the item or effect he has in mind. Not even sages know for sure where this magical energy comes from. Some say it is a force which pervades the world - others claim it is the mage's own internal energies. Either way, magic exists, and can be manipulated.

This document focuses not on where magic comes from, but where it goes. When a magical item is created, it stores (either temporarily or permanently) an amount of magical energy consistent with the power of the item. A relatively weak item - such as a wand of magic detection - would store little power, whereas a powerful item - such as a staff of the magi - would store a great deal of magical energy. This energy is safely contained within the item, and can be used by the item wielder without fear. But what happens when a magical item is destroyed? Where does the magic go? Can the item even be destroyed? If so, how difficult is it, and is there a special process?

The Destruction of Magic

If an individual, for whatever reason, wishes to destroy a magically charged item, he may most certainly do so. However, said destruction is not necessarily an easy thing. Magical items, by their nature, tend to be made of the finest materials, which makes them more durable. Furthermore, enchantments placed on most magical items are there to protect the item from harm. Thus, destroying a magical item can be more difficult than one might imagine.

Also, while a magic item can be destroyed, magic itself cannot be. Thus, when a magical item is destroyed, the magic it contains has to go somewhere. Quite often, the magic seemingly dissipates, and fades away (some sages speculate that it goes back into the world's magical "pool"). Sometimes, however, the magic can do strange things, and affect the world around it in odd ways. Every item is assigned a Magical Effect Rating (MER), which is used later in the document to determine how likely it is that the destruction of a magical item triggers a Magical Effect.

For an idea of how various magical items can be destroyed, one need merely consult the Item Saving Throws table in the DMG (page 58).

The Endurance of Magic

Magical items are usually enchanted to resist decay and destruction. As such, these items are usually more durable than their mundane counterparts, and thus harder to destroy. Whenever a magical item runs the risk of destruction, the DM should assign a modifier to the item's saving throw, based upon both the power of the item and the type of destructive force applied. The following table gives some suggestions for saving throw bonuses for various materials and their relative magical power.

Table 1. Saving Throw Modifiers
Material Temporary Weak Moderate Powerful Near Artifact
Bone or Ivory 0 0 +1 +2 +4
Cloth 0 0 0 +1 +3
Glass 0 0 0 +1 +2
Leather 0 +1 +2 +4 +5
Metal +1 +1 +3 +4 +6
Oils 0 0 +1 +2 +3
Paper, Etc. * 0 0 +1 +2 +3
Potions 0 0 +1 +2 +3
Pottery 0 0 0 +1 +2
Rock, Crystal +1 +2 +3 +5 +7
Rope 0 0 0 +1 +2
Wood, thick 0 +1 +2 +3 +4
Wood, thin 0 0 +1 +2 +4
* Spellbooks receive a +4 bonus to all saving throws.

The Release of Magic

When a magic item is destroyed, its energy is released. In most instances (base 100% chance), the power of the item simply fades, absorbed by the world around it. There is usually some form of minor display when the item is destroyed (flash of light, puff of smoke, that kind of thing). In some cases, however, the destruction of the item has a more dramatic effect. What that effect might be, and indeed, the chances of the effect even occurring, vary from item to item.

Every magical item is assigned a MER. These ratings are not set in stone, and are used only as a guideline. The DM should assign an item a MER based upon its approximate power level and function. It is possible for the MER of two seemingly identical items (for instance, two magical long swords +1) to vary, but hopefully not too dramatically. Below you will find relative powers for items, as well as some examples.

Temporary: These items, while magical, work on limited charges or one-shot only items. They include most potions and oils, as well as scrolls. Examples include a potion of water breathing, or a scroll with fireball written on it. Such items have a MER of 2-5 (or, alternately, 1d4+1).

Weak: These magical items are rather weak. While more permanent in use, they usually run off of charges. An examples would be a wand of magic missiles. These items typically have a MER of 2-7 (1d6+1). Moderate: This category covers most permanent magic items. They include low-power "plus" items (weapons and armor with pluses of +1 to +2), and certain rings, helms, cloaks, etc. Examples include a short sword +2, a cloak of protection +1, or bracers of archery. The MER of such items is usually in the area of 5-16 (1d8+4, +2 for every plus of the item).

Potent: These items are much more powerful than most. They include items with mid-range pluses (+3 or +4), as well as many of the more powerful items to be found. Examples include: two handed sword +4, cloak of displacement, bracers AC 6, amulet of life protection. Most of these items have an MER ranging from 15-33 (14+1d10, +2 for every plus of the item).

Extraordinary: These magical items are extremely powerful, and are rarely encountered. They are near-artifact level, and have numerous abilities and powers. Only the most powerful of items with pluses are included in this category, as well as other items with extraordinary abilities. Examples: bastard sword +5, long sword +2 (vorpal), robe of the archmagi, staff of the magi. These items typically have a MER ranging from 30-50 (29+1d10, +2 per plus of the item).

The DM must decide the approximate power level of an item if it is to be destroyed. He can then roll a random range (summarized below) or assign an MER himself. Of course, the powers and abilities of the item in question must also be considered. A short sword +2 is not as powerful as a short sword +2 of speed.

Table 2. MER and MEM Determination
Power Level MER Range MEM *
Temporary 1d4+1 0
Weak 1d6+1 +5
Moderate 1d8+4, +2 per plus +10
Potent 14+1d10, +2 per plus +20
Extraordinary 29+1d10, +2 per plus +30
* Magical Effect Modifier, detailed below.

Once the DM has assigned an MER, he must consider situational modifiers. If the item is being destroyed slowly (melting metal, for instance), the MER should be lowered (as a guideline, subtract 1d4 MERs for every ten minutes the item takes to be destroyed). If it is being destroyed very quickly (almost instantaneously), the MER should remain the same.

Once the MER has been decided, the DM rolls 1d100. Should the result be equal to or less than the MER, then a Magical Effect has taken place. Consult the following table to determine the potential form a Magical Effect can take. The DM is, of course, free to decide a Magical Effect on his own, consistent with the form of magic the item took. When rolling on the Magical Effect table, the DM should add the Magical Effect Modifier (MEM - as determined in the above table) to the die roll.

Table 3. Magical Effects
1d100 Roll Magical Effect
01-10 Small explosion (power 1d2 for every 5 points of MER *, range 1 yard per point of MER).
11-15 Moderate explosion (power 1d5 for every 5 points of MER, range 2 yards per point of MER).
16-20 Large explosion (power 1d6 for every 5 points of MER, range 5 yards per point of MER).
21-25 Random character within 5 yards per point of MER undegoes a colour change. Colour change is permanent unless dispelled (consider caster level to be 1 for every 2 points of MER).
26-30 Random character within 5 yards per point of MER is affected by a polymorph other (penalty to saving throw of -1 for every 10 points of MER). To determine form, roll 1d8, and then roll on the appropriate monster summoning spell (i.e. if you roll a 6, consult monster summoning VI).
31-35 One character (50% chance whomever is closest, 50% chance random character within 5 yards per point of MER) is imbued with extra power. This character gains 1 hp per MER of the item destroyed. This hp gain is temporary, lasting for 1 day for every 5 points of MER, or until the extra hp are lost.
36-37 One character (50% chance whomever is closest, 50% chance random character within 5 yards per point of MER) is imbued with extra power. This character gains 1d4+2 extra hit points. This hp gain is permanent.
38-40 One character (50% chance whomever is closest, 50% chance random character within 5 yards per point of MER) gains the ability to cast one random first level spell per day. The spell is determined randomly. The character must still use verbal and somatic components, but material components are not necessary.
41-60 Character closest to the item is affected as if a wild surge had occurred.
61-63 Character closest to the item gains one of the abilities of the item destroyed (determined randomly, or chosen by the DM) which can be used once per day. Pluses to hit or protection can be gained as well. If the item destroyed was temporary in nature, then this ability can be used only once (at a time chosen by the character) before being lost.
64-65 Character directly responsible for the destruction of the item (if in doubt, as determined by the DM) is geased (no saving throw) to create (or, if he lacks the ability to do so, commission the creation of) another magical item exactly the same as the one destroyed.
66-70 Magic from item imbues itself into one non-magical item of a similar type within 10 yards per point of MEM (effectively re-creating itself). Should no such item be within range, roll again on this table. Should this result be obtained again, the magical item recreates itself out of thin air.
71-73 Creator of the magical item (if still alive - or undead - and on the same plane) immediately knows that the item has been destroyed, and the exact location of that destruction.
74-79 Character directly responsible for the destruction of the item (if in doubt, as determined by the DM) is cursed. The curse can be chosen from examples given on page 197 of the DMG, or decided by the DM (but should be of a similar power). This curse is permanent until dealt with (in a manner determined by the DM).
80 Character directly responsible for the destruction of the item (if in doubt, as determined by the DM) receives a powerful curse (see next table).
81-85 Small portal to alternate plane is opened. There is a 50% chance that all characters within 5 yards per point of MER are sucked into the portal, and a 50% chance that a random creature from the other plane is sucked onto this plane. Either way, the portal collapses after ten minutes.
86 A ghost (somehow imprisoned in the item) is released, and attacks the character directly responsible for the destruction of the item (if in doubt, as determined by the DM).
87-90 Character closest to the item when it is destroyed is struck by a harm (50% chance) or a heal (50% chance).
91-95 Magic of the item forms into the shape of a human male warrior. This warrior has 1 level for every 2 points of MER the item possessed. The warrior either attacks everyone around (50% chance) or serves one random character within 20 yards (50% chance) until killed. The warrior (detailed below) cannot be raised or resurrected, nor can it be healed (except via its own abilities).
96-105 Tremendous explosion (power = MER, plus 1d10 for every 5 points of MER, range 5 yards per point of MER). Thus, an item with an MER of 30 would explode in a fireball doing 6d10+30 hp of damage, with a radius of 150 yards.
106 + Death field. All living creatures within 5 yards per point of MER must save vs. death magic (with a -1 penalty per 5 points of MER) or die.
* When determining range or power based on MER, always round up.

Magical Warrior: AL N (or as per item destroyed); AC 0 (regardless of armour worn); MV 20; HD 1 per 2 points of MER; THACO as per warrior; # AT as per specialized warrior; Dmg 1d8+10; SA specialized with long sword (which it creates as a part of its own essence - if sword is lost, it reappears in the warriors hand in 1d4 rounds); SD regenerates 1d10 hp of damage per day; ML 20; MR 1% per point of MER; XP Varies.

Table 4. Powerful Curses *
1d20 Roll Curse
1 All water which comes within 30 feet of the character becomes polluted. While still drinkable, it tastes disgusting.
2 Character loses 1d4 points of Charisma.
3 Character suffers a -1 penalty to saves vs. spells.
4 Character suffers a -2 penalty to saves vs. poison.
5 Any cloth or leather items worn by the character rot instantly (item must save vs. disintegration each round to avoid).
6 All alcohol within 30 feet of the character is instantly detoxified.
7 NPC reactions to the character can never be better than neutral.
8 Character suffers insatiable hunger, and must eat a full meal once every hour or suffer from starvation.
9 Character's gender is changed.
10 Character is rendered deaf. Spellcasters suffer 5% chance of spell failure per segment of casting time (max. 25%) when casting spells with verbal components.
11 Character suffers incurable disease. Each month, he must roll a save vs. death magic or lose 1 point of Constitution. When Constitution reaches zero, the character dies.
12 Any magical item in the possession of the character is rendered non-magical. Item regains its magic 1 turn after leaving the character's possession.
13 Once per day (at a random time) character suffers 1d4 hp of damage for every 10 MER of the item destroyed (round up).
14 Character gains 50% magic resistance, but only to healing magic. The character can not drop this resistance at will, nor does it apply to the reversed forms of healing spells (such as cause serious wounds).
15 Character is aged 1d10 years per every 100 years (round down) of regular life span.
16 Character contracts lycanthropy.
17 Character's touch is poisonous (save vs. poison or suffer 2d6 hp of damage).
18 Character loses 1d2 points off of one random Attribute.
19 All inanimate objects within five feet of the character (including objects worn or carried by the character) disappear (and are gone from the game forever).
20 Character's pupils turn into small skulls, lowering Charisma and Comeliness by 1d2 points each.
* Taken from page 142 of the Book of Artifacts (table has been modified to fit this concept).