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Thread: Handling Evil Magic Items

  1. #1
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    Question Handling Evil Magic Items

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    I have run into a point of debate in my group recently, and I am curious what other DMs and players think. I am running a campaign largely set in the Nine Planes of Hell, and recently, my group defeated a blackguard with a particularly nasty sword (+2 frost unholy large greatsword). The question that has come up is whether the party should be able to sell the item or not.

    My point is the sword is designed to be used by evil individuals, since any good character wielding this sword would suffer ill effects just by picking it up. It is also designed specifically for killing goodly aligned people and creatures. So, my feeling is that a good aligned person wouldn't knowingly allow such a weapon to go back into the world, only to be used to further the cause of evil. I might buy that a Chaotic Good individual might sell it, if in so doing he furthered his immediate cause. But, the party is a mix of Lawful Good (Paladin, no less), Lawful Neutral, and Neutral Good. I would think that the NG and LG characters would clearly oppose selling such a magic item. The LN characters may view the item as simply an item. It is what is done with it that matters.

    So, what do you think? How do your groups generally handle items like this?

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    See now.. you had to throw a Paladin into the mix didn't you?

    It's an evil item, people like a Paladin won't want to let it get out into the general populace. They will want it eithier destroyed so it can do no harm again, or contained so it can't fall into the right hands.

    A party can still profit from this though (even good people). Seems to me that a powerful and good aligned church would pay market rates to take this item into their posession. Then they can destroy it, or secure it in a hard to reach place. Since you have a Paladin in your party, his church is a good fit. Perhaps the party can trade it in for an item (or items) of equivalent power that they can use immediately?

    I actually think it's more fun if the church can't destory the sword for whatever reason. Have them build a 'remote and forgotten temple with an item of great power hidden inside' and it's that sword. You can make a side project out of it one night. Give your PC's the budget that the church can afford to put into the idea, and then let the players design it. They can fill it full of traps and warnings (so good people don't get hurt and know to just walk away).

    Then, in a future campaign, you have a hand designed dungeon crawl for PC's!
    --
    Grimwell

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    Well, what can I say, I have a player who loves playing the Paladin type.

    Actually, that's a pretty damned good idea, Grim! I like! It makes sense that there would be churches interested in buying such items, or at the very least, rewarding adventurers for turning them over in lieu of selling them on the open market. There are probably other organizations, something like the Gleaners, who would simply like to purchase such items for study as well.

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    I'm actually a fan of the Paladin.. Glad you liked the idea and I hope you can get some mileage out of it.
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    Grimwell

  5. #5
    Ed Zachary Guest
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    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    The question that has come up is whether the party should be able to sell the item or not.
    Of course theys should be allowed to sell it, life is full of choices. It is your job as DM to watch their actions vs their alignments, to let them know you are watching, and to make adjustments as necessary. The proper thing for a good character to do would be to make sure that it never got into the hands of an evil being again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    I might buy that a Chaotic Good individual might sell it, if in so doing he furthered his immediate cause. But, the party is a mix of Lawful Good (Paladin, no less), Lawful Neutral, and Neutral Good. I would think that the NG and LG characters would clearly oppose selling such a magic item. The LN characters may view the item as simply an item. It is what is done with it that matters.
    No good (CG) character should ever allow the weapon to be used again. If you have a paladin in your group, he would kill anyone who tried to sell it. A neutral would have to really gain alot to allow it to fall back into the hands of evil.

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    The question that has come up is whether the party should be able to sell the item or not.
    Reading that line again put another thought into my head: There has to be a buyer. You control the buyer as DM. I kinda hinted at that by suggesting different buyers... but it merits being said independantly.
    --
    Grimwell

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    I like what yall say here, about evil items that is. One question to change things a bit. What if the item is nastyly cursed and causes a lot of evil things to happen, but is not of itself an evil item.
    The item I am mentioning was tricked on to a character of mine, who has repeatedly tried to destroy it or simply throw it away. But because it is a 'demon summoner' weapon, it repeatedly returns to him and forces the character to fight the demons it summons. What an axe to grind.

  8. #8
    Ed Zachary Guest
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    Quote Originally Posted by spotlight View Post
    I like what yall say here, about evil items that is. One question to change things a bit. What if the item is nastyly cursed and causes a lot of evil things to happen, but is not of itself an evil item.
    Well, as a player I'm guilty as charged. As a group we found a Vacuous Grimoire (or some cursed tome). I took it and told the party that I'd dispose of it. Two gaming sessions later I was short on gold, so I sold it to a rival character for 25% below what it could've been easily sold for at almost any market. I knew that he didn't want it for himself, but was looking to turn a profit. Two gaming sessions later, he learned that it was a fake when the Mage he sold it to put a hit out on him.

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    Evil magic items ... as I see it you have four really viable choices as the DM how to handle these items. You can either take it, break it, shake it or remake it.

    1. Take it ... to the good temple -- a good religion or other well meaning organization is buying evil magic items either to destroy them or more interestingly to put them in a vault because they can't be destroyed. For a really good example of how this can go horribly wrong, see Monte Cook's Ptolus and the Banewarrens.

    2. Break it -- Good PCs (and especially paladins) are required to destroy the item. Perhaps you give them an XP bonus for this act to compensate for the lack of cash. Or perhaps destroying these items is difficult and requires an adventure to find their weakness and to take them to someplace really dangerous where their evil can at last be ended.

    3. Shake it ... of its evil ways -- Evil magic items can be purified and redeemed, it's just not easy. You just need to take the item to the holiest of holy shrines or to a Celestial Plane. Of course the item will be trying to stop you the whole way.

    4. Remake it -- Your artificer/wizard can actually take apart evil magic items into their component XP and money value and reenchant them as good items. It takes time and is inefficient, but it can be done -- though perhaps only at a special magic forge.

    Gary

  10. #10
    Ed Zachary Guest
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    Gary, good options. But I believe that the role of the "Good" character is generally acknowledged. As is that of the "Evil" character who would have no problem using the item to their benefit (see my above post). The real discussion should be regarding how "Neutral" characters would treat such an item.

    My Chaotic Neutral Fighter, who is more "indifferent toward Good and Evil" rather than wanting to "Preserve the Balance" would do the following:

    Knowing the item's potential monetary value (despite that he can't use it), he'd want to get as much gold for it as he could. But realizing it's power to potentially oppose him, he'd want to sell it in a far off land, where it wouldn't likely come back to present a threat to him. The best analogy I could come up with is the owner of a sports team who is about to trade away a star player. He does not want to trade him to a conference opponent who will play against his team, he is more likely to trade the player to a non-conference opponent who likely will not play against his team. But in the end it is a business decision, and momentary greed will greatly influence what I do.

    My perspective is from a "Neutral Indifferent", I've never played (for long) a "Neutral-Balance Preserver". Can anyone else offer this perspective, as it should be different.
    Last edited by Ed Zachary; 03-06-2007 at 09:33 AM.

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    In this case, since the sword was taken from a evil NPC (who presumably had been using it to further evil ambitions), it would seem that a Neutral- Balance Preserver would want it to be kept out of evil hands (for the time-being atleast). Thereby off-setting the evil the sword had achieved by a 'good' action (helping to lock the sword away perhaps).

    That is not to say that in future years, this Balance Preserver may reveal the sword's location to an evil character/party.

    This would seem to be one of the most balance-preseving approaches.

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    Yeah, what Gary said.

    I'd often see the party turn the magic item over to a holy temple for free.

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    ever think of the "redeemed item" process? I think its in the BoED or maybe Complete Divine

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    I don't know which is the Paladin's god, but I used to DM a Paladin of Helm (Realms) and his biggest challenge was dealing with the 15th Level LE Cleric of Helm Cardinal Richelieu.

    So who knows, that "Evil" sword may help advance his god agenda in the hands of someone else, will the Paladin be able to deal with that?
    Saluti
    Carlos

  15. #15
    Ed Zachary Guest
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    In older editions of D&D, items like Wands and Staffs could be recharged.

    I assumed that that would carry over to 3.5, but I guess not. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

    Thanks.

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