Ready For Anything | be prepared to carry more than just a sword by lewis pulsipher 


Containers | Communication aids | Tools | Offensive devices | Defensive items | Miscellaneous itemsEncumbrance

Has an oil flask ever been broken when a character was hit, a prisoner freed from his bonds while another character wasn't looking, or a character injured because his torch went out- Why didn't these characters have a metal or ceramic flask, chains with manacles, or continual light cubes- Many fantasy role-players allow themselves to be confined to the list of equipment given in the rules. If an item isn't there, players often don't think about the possibility of obtaining it.

Fortunately, at least in the AD&D game system, some important - perhaps vital - items as wolvesbane and belladonna are on the price lists. However, dozens of easily made and potentially useful items are not. Just a little thought and ingenuity are required to de vise some of these items. Even if a referee refuses the construction of mechanical monstrosities like a 10-shot crossbow, he'll find it hard to refuse the construction and purchase of the items described below. Every well-equipped adventurer should have these items on hand, unless he's so devil-may-care that planning and sensible caution are beyond him.

The items presented here pertain primarily to the AD&D system; for other games, certain spells peculiar to those games may enable player characters to make additional useful items. The items have been separated into categories to aid presentation, but in some cases an item could just as well be included in one category as another; this is especially true with respect to offensive/defensive items.

Containers

If an adventurer finds a liquid or solid item that he or she wishes to take along, but doesn't want to touch, a reliable, easy-to-handle container is necessary. Small creatures may also be imprisoned therein, but don't forget they need to breathe if you intend to keep them alive.

A screw-top jar of any reasonable size is a handy thing to have. The jar should be of metal-reinforced ceramic or glass so it won't break easily. An airtight box, padded on the inside, is necessary to hold the jar safely and securely. The jar ought to fit snugly into the padded box to avoid spilling the jar's contents. When transporting small creatures, holes must be drilled in the jar lid and box top so the animal can breathe. The box should be able to be closed securely, perhaps with a simple keylock. The idea isn't to keep anyone out, but to keep whatever is in the box in it and undamaged.

Probably, a backpack will be relegated to carrying everyday articles, some of which may be in jar containers. For additional security, a hard surface, made of wood or metal, can be used to line the bottom of the backpack. With a hard surface bottom, the pack will still remain flexible. During transportation, this measure can prevent spillage of the entire contents, if (for instance) a thief were to cut out the bottom of the backpack. Jewels, gems, and magic items should be carried between robe and armor, or even inside the armor if the object is small enough that it won't be irritating. One could even include compartments in the armor, such as a false paunch, to conceal valuable items.

Consideration must be given to containers for holy water, oil, scrolls, potions, wands, or other magic items. The notion that containers for such items should be made of a single material, such as glass, is ludicrous. Glass is simply too fragile to be dependable in an adventuring setting. No material, including metal, is proof against all the dangers of magical and monstrous combat. A sensible adventurer would have containers of several materials. For example, a metal container will fend off violent blows, but may be endangered if a rust monster is encountered. Certain potions may deteriorate or decompose when in contact with metal. A tin container tends to be better than iron since it doesn't rust, yet iron is stronger. In many respects bronze is the ideal single material, but iron is usually more available. A thin layer of iron, covered inside and out with pottery or other ceramic material, serves well as the basis of a container. The ceramic will protect the contents from lightning, one of the forces to which hard metal is most vulnerable, as well as protecting the contents from direct contact with, and possible contamination by, the metal. Ceramic material also has a slightly better save vs. fireball. And even if the first layer fails to save, the second might succeed. (See the saving throw table on page 78 of the Dungeon Masters Guide.)

The drawback of this type of container is that it won't smash easily (releasing the contents when you want them released) if thrown against a wall or a creature. However, if the container is cylindrical, the contents can be thrown or sprayed with considerable accuracy. Of course, adventurers can carry some containers of the "safety" type and some of the "smash" type. Finally, some referees may allow player characters to carry a container with a pump to spray holy water or oil.

Communication aids

This category includes some rather fundamental and straightforward items and techniques. A piece of chalk or charcoal, for example, can be used for marking dungeon walls. Such primitive markings might be most useful if there are only illiterate or unintelligent enemies about; an intelligent foe could easily duplicate the marks, thus confusing the adventurers. Pen, ink, paper or parchment (very durable, especially if made of treated hide), paint, and a paintbrush are more useful than chalk and charcoal. Since the right color of paint and the proper type of brush would be needed in order to make a mark similar to that of the party's, an enemy would have a more difficult time trying to foil the communication system devised by the party.

When adventuring outdoors, visual and audio techniques are important for fast and effective communication. For example, strips of white cloth could prove to be useful. Stretched on the ground, these pieces of cloth serve as landmarks for returning aerial scouts or for airborne reinforcements. A horn, some mouth pipes, and other audio devices can be used for signaling to someone at a distance. A clever and ambitious party may devise a musical code for its members who play the pipes.

Tools

More than once, a party in a cul-de-sac has elected to cut its way out through a wall rather than face some menace. In order to do this effectively, tools are necessary. Such items as a crowbar, candles, stone-mining tools, a small pack for carrying bigger mining tools, and a small shovel are usually helpful.
In addition, adventurers might consider taking a trick 10-foot pole, a three-pronged grappling hook, and some torch adaptors. The trick pole consists of two five-foot sections connected by a screw joint, or by a collar joint with a pin to hold the two sections together. When a long pole is needed, the two pieces are assembled. In normal circumstances, the five-foot pieces remain unattached so they don't get in the way. The grappling hook, most useful for scaling, resembles the ones often seen in war, prison-escape, and spy movies.

Torch adaptors are simple square pieces of metal with a hole/collar in the middle. The adaptor is placed onto a torch from the bottom, so that it lies just under the flame. Though the adaptor protects the hand holding the torch, it also blocks some of the light from radiating downward. If the torch is dropped or thrown, the adaptor may keep the flaming part from lying on the floor, since the torch will be supported by its non-burning end and the adaptor. And it won't roll around, either. This means a better chance of throwing a torch without extinguishing it.

Offensive devices

A wine sack can prove useful as an attack device, especially if it is the type that can be used as a kind of short-range squirt gun. Perhaps the skin can be made of, or reinforced with, a material tougher than ordinary hide. A character may want to squirt wine, water, light oil, or some other liquid at an enemy or at an object. Squirting offers a greater range than pouring, and has almost as much accuracy.

Adventurers should carry plenty of holy water. If they can afford it, all their weapons should be blessed by a cleric, and perhaps bathed in holy water before an adventure. This may not help every time, but it can't hurt, and may thwart a referee's most subtle plans.

Colored dust or flour, contained in paper packets and/or small spheres of pottery, can be thrown at an enemy. At worst, the opponents will be slightly worried; at most, they'll flee from the "dust of choking" they think was just thrown. A little pepper or itching powder in the flour may offer more benefit, but it can hurt or hinder the party just as easily as the opposition in certain situations.

Adventurers should not forget to take oil and non-metallic weapons. When feasible and possible, one should carry an extra sword of bronze and a mace or hammer made of flint or stone. Bronze may be no match for iron in general, but it may harm monsters that cannot be hurt by iron weapons. A stone weapon is useful against (for instance) rust monsters. A well-made flint dagger can be just as sharp as a metal one, even though it will be expensive.

Finally, characters ought to remember to use silver coatings on weapons that might aid their cause. A large net, as well as a smaller butterfly-style net, are a potential weapon that should not be overlooked as often as they are.

Defensive items

When an individual or a party is attempting to flee an area, mustard powder, oil of citronella, or other strong smelling concoctions can be strewn about to cover a party's trail. "Cover," in this sense, means preventing the pursuer from using its sense of smell effectively, so that after it passes the affected area, it still won't be able to smell the party (or anything else). The powder should be put in a paper packet, the oil in a small, smashable flask.

Caltrops are four-pointed metal objects shaped in such a fashion that one point is always up and the other three act as a base. This device will slow down pursuit, and can also be used to create an alarm perimeter around a camp. If the tips are poisoned, caltrops can be a surprisingly powerful weapon, particularly in darkness.

In addition, wedge-shaped pieces of wood or metal, with a rough, slightly flexible bottom "shoe" base, are excellent doorstops. Laying down a doorstop kicking it into place takes much less t, than pounding in a spike to hold the door open.

Another defensive item with many uses is a dead rat (or other small animal). These rats (if you carry one, you may as well take at least two) can be wrapped securely in oiled paper to conceal the smell, or simply hidden until needed. The creatures' bodies can be used to test liquids for acidic and similar effects, although a substance that rots animal matter might not affect wood or metal. The rats should be recently killed; animals with which one is trying to talk or bargain may prefer fresh meat over iron rations. Fresh meat tossed aside during flight may also slow down pursuers.

Noseplugs and earplugs, mundane as they may seem, have saved many lives; however, a referee might penalize those who try to wear them all the time. By submerging all but the tip of a hollow metal tube, a character can breathe inconspicuously underwater. Another tube lined with fine charcoal (held in place by a bit of fine netting glued to each end) could serve as a primitive filter that might reduce the ill effects of gas.

By sewing a sharp coin into the lining of a robe, a character, when captured, may be able to free the coin and then sever his bonds. Characters should remember to carry a steel mirror and a silver holy symbol, and to insulate weapons against a heat metal spell. Finally, an alkaline solution carried in a flask can help counteract any acids encountered.

Miscellaneous items

Numerous smaller items, such as those mentioned below, can be of additional service to adventurers. For example, wire can sometimes be used where rope cannot. With appropriate wooden or metal handles, a short wire becomes a garrote. Piton rings for climbing can be used when a thief is unwilling, unable, or unavailable. A pair of five-foot chains with silver-coated manacles at the ends has many uses. There is no need to rely on rope when the silver should help prevent a lycanthrope from changing into its animal form, though this varies from referee to referee. An adjustable leather collar, reinforced with metal, with loops attaching rope or chain is a similarly useful item.

Other useful (perhaps even essential) items include flint and steel, which are mandatory for fire-making; a blindfold and a gag, to be used in conjunction with the restraints mentioned above; an eye patch, for a quick disguise, for medical purposes, or even for (temporarily) blinding a prisoner in one eye for some reason. Though smelling salts will probably never save anyone's life, sometimes a quick recovery from unconsciousness can be vital.

Flashy trinkets, counterfeit coins, silver-coated slugs, gold-plated copper pieces, and other deceptive valuables can be carried either for dishonest trading or for throwing down while fleeing an enemy. Some of the items - especially large but flawed (and thus relatively worthless) gems - can be placed in a paper packet which can be easily torn, so that the contents will scatter and attract a pursuer's attention. Weak, rotten cloth can be a substitute if paper is not available in the adventure setting.

A character who can cast continual light (which has no duration limit) should place that spell on a variety of objects, especially cubes, slabs, and spheres. These can be stored in containers slightly larger than the objects themselves and then revealed when the party wants to "throw a light" somewhere. For example, rather than walk down a long, dark flight of stairs, a character rolls a "light ball" down to get a good view. If a cube or slab is made of flexible, shock-absorbent material, it won't bounce far when light is desired in a specific place. A sphere, on the other hand, will go a long way in a dungeon-like interior. If the referee agrees, characters can even make "light frisbees" from pie plates.

A particularly useful variation of continual light objects is the "light bomb." To make such an item, a light cube is placed into a pottery ball. The ball can be made of two hemispheres bound together with twine, or the light cube can be baked inside a one-piece sphere. Then when a character who is invisible or hiding in shadows wants to attack with surprise and have light to see by, he can throw a light bomb. Suddenly, a light as bright as daylight appears in the midst of the enemy! The bomb might even frighten off unintelligent monsters.

Another useful variation involves using a tube that contains a long cylinder or stick with the continual light spell on it. The cylinder can be pulled out or pushed in to increase or decrease the strength of the light.

For a "light helm," a continual light spell is cast on a projection at the top of a helmet, which is covered by a visor-like piece. Whenever the wearer wants light, he raises the visor.

At times, a party may want to record the passage of time with fair accuracy. Since watches do not exist, an "hour candle" can be constructed. This is a candle of different-colored layers, each layer representing a certain increment of time.

Encumbrance

Where does one carry all of this- If the referee allows the players to take along a mule, or if they're outdoors riding horses, distributing the weight of extra items such as these should not pose a problem. Using a charm monster or charm mammal or animal friendship spell can make animals more docile. Defensive materials should be kept close at hand so they can be used on short notice. Containers, tools, most communication aids, and many of the other items can be stored in a place where a minute or two will be needed to bring them into play, since these aren't necessarily emergency items.

Although a large number of items have been mentioned, most of them are quite small and light in weight. Moreover, in many instances, only one or two of a certain item is needed for an entire party. This makes it easy to pass the objects around, just in case a character is unable to carry them all by himself or is without a mule. If one has a beast, most of the objects it carries should be spares of everyday items such as blankets and rope - things that aren't quite as interesting, perhaps, as the items and devices mentioned here, but just as necessary for the well-equipped adventuring party.


back to games index 

built by unclefester | sternzwischen | updated 14-05-29 23:15:25