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At some tables, Complete Gear rules open up the game for abuse – especially in terms of magical healing. In a standard game, a player who desires to heal their character through the means of a potion or wand must first find a shop – or at least a potion maker – from whom the character can buy the potion. This is not always easy to do in the middle of a dungeon or on an alternate plane of existence. However, the rules of Complete Gear automatically imply that a potion or wand of healing is always just an attunement away. It is an exploitable aspect of viewing items as defined by the character. To accommodate this possible abuse, the variant rule that follows can be introduced into the system.
As a variant, the process of attunement has a unique effect upon smaller influences. Any limited use influence that costs less than 3,000 IPs destroys the mundane object once the magical use has been expended. What this implies is small effects – such as most potions, oils, shards, scrolls, and wands – are limited in their ability to be used over and over again unless a character has access to a great many vials, flasks, or jars.
For example, a character may have spent 750 IPs on a Cure Serious Wounds influence to make a potion. When the character imbibes the fluid from the mundane flask, the character receives the effect of the influence. However, the object holding the potion is irrevocably destroyed and unable to be used again for the purposes of attunement. Should the player again want their character to spend their now unspent 750 IPs on another potion, they would need access to a brand new container.
Another interesting angle to this variant rule is with respect to most scrolls or power stones. Should a character use a few IPs to produce some usable scrolls or a few power stones, the character must do so knowing that the mundane element will be destroyed upon its use. There is nothing more unsettling than watching a character see his last piece of parchment disintegrate in the middle of an adventure, but it is a reality for this variant rule. Or perhaps when a power stones is drained of the few remaining power points and shatters into millions of harmless pieces of dust, it can have an interesting effect on any commoners who may not understand what happened.
Additionally, this variant can be extended to permanent influences of less than 3,000 IPs if desired. Permanent influences – like many of the cheaper wondrous items – are usually not affected by this so long as their effect is kept permanent. Should something come along to disrupt the functioning of the effect (like a null-psionic field, an anti-magic zone, a dispel magic/psionic effect, or even a player deciding to stop allocating IPs to the specific influence) then the mundane object is in fact destroyed. In this case, any IPs that had been allocated to the now useless influence are treated as unspent. Should the character desire to use the lost influences again they will need new mundane items as well as time to spend in the appropriate attunement process with the new items.
Special Materials Variant
Some Game Masters and players may not be able to think of special materials as a property that a character can change about their weapon or armor. In this case, a simple variant to the rule should be employed. The data given on the table regarding Influence Points by level could be reduced by a specified amount so that the difference can be given to the players in the form of gold pieces. With that gold, a player can buy a piece of armor made out of the special materials which can then be influenced by the character as the player desires. In the end, the result is the same.
As an example of this variant, a 10th level character should have 49,000 IPs available to them. If the player wanted to purchase an adamantine chain shirt in a game using this variant rule, the player’s IP pool could be lowered to 43,850 IPs and then given 5,150 gold via treasure in order to purchase a masterwork adamantine chain shirt. Of course, it is masterwork because items made of adamantine are always masterwork in quality.
The most important aspect to this variant is that communication of expectations needs to be made between the Game Master and the players. If the Game Master wishes to use this variant, it is up to the Game Master to ensure that they provide enough gold in treasure to accommodate any desires a player may have regarding special materials. Likewise, it is important that players communicate their hopes with respect to the amount of gold needed to purchase the desired material when using this variant. This is a discussion that should happen at the inception of the game so that the rules and expectations are clear from the beginning.
Cursed Items Variant
The easiest way to handle cursed items in a Complete Gear game is to simply ignore them. Most cursed items enter into a game at the Game Master’s discretion, so ignoring them and eliminating them from the game does not alter the balance. However, it does remove some of the fun of the game.
If a Game Master decides to allow cursed items, they can add an extra sense of intrigue. However, for the sake of game play the category of cursed items needs to be subdivided into two categories: Annoyance influences and Blight items. Annoyance influences are equivalent to magical and psionic cursed items that have a drawback or an ill side-effect but which might still be desired by a character. These items usually do not need a special means for removal or a save to avoid the effect of the item. On the other hand, blight items are items that have only a negative effect upon the character and usually have a specific means of being removed from the character. In cases where a blight item does not list a specific means for removal, Complete Gear adds the condition of needing a successfully cast Remove Curse spell or some sort of magical/psionic equivalent action.
If allowed in a game, annoyance influences can be brought about by a character through the attunement process. Just as it is possible for magic to go wrong in the item creation process, it is possible for something to go awry in attuning a character to an item. An example of when this might happen is if a character is interrupted slightly during attunement but not enough to disrupt the process. Or, perhaps the chance of making an annoyance influence increases when a character is using the last of their available IPs. In any case, a character who receives an annoyance influence can choose to accept the annoyance as is or drop the influence and go through the process of attunement on a different day. These are influences that add favor to the game rather than punishments or problems that need to be solved.
Characters may wish to keep annoyance influences in some circumstances. One example of such an item in a standard game is the +3 Mace of Blood, which is actually discounted to 9,000 gp on account of the annoyance associated with the item. In a Complete Gear game, an influence that created an identical effect would naturally cost 9,000 IPs. Another example is the Cursed Backbiter Spear, which offers a much smaller drawback and a corresponding smaller decrease in cost.
Annoyance influences are always admitted to a game only with Game Master approval. Care should be taken to limit the number of annoyance influences that a character can have at one time. Annoyance influences can be seen as a boon in saving IPs, but the drawbacks should always match the discount. An influence discounted by half should only be half as effective, or effective only half the time, or some such equivalent drawback.
Unlike annoyance influences, blight items can only be made as side effects from spells, powers, and perhaps even incantations. They are never made through influences and attunements. This is because an influence can only be used by the one who makes the attunement. No self-respecting character would keep an attunement that left them completely cursed.
Blight items have an interesting affect upon those unlucky enough to don them. Not only do blight items grant the wearer the unfortunate side affect in their description and need a special condition to remove the item, but they also count against a character’s IP pool. As long as the character wears the blight item – or even keeps it in the character’s possession – the character must forfeit an amount of IPs from their pool equal to the cost of the blight item. This does not affect influences already in attunement, but it does prevent new attunements from being formed until the character has more unspent IPs than the cost of the item. When the character is able to remove the blight item, the character gains full access to their complete IP pool once again.
For example, an 8th level character should have 36,000 IPs at their discretion. Through adventuring, the character may find an interesting suit of armor and put it on – only to discover that it is a blighted suit of armor with the Arrow Attraction description. This armor is listed as having a cost of 9,000 gp. When the character dons the item, they do not immediately lose 9,000 IPs worth of influences However, as some of the character’s influences become unspent (such as through the use of influences that act as potions or oils or perhaps through a player deciding to try and change an influence before they realize they have a blighted item on their person) those IPs are not immediately available to be spent again. Only after the character has 9,000 unspent IPs can the character manipulate their influences as normal. Even then, this player can only use 27,000 of the character’s 36,000 IPs available until the player has found a way to remove the blight item.
Furthermore, blight items are made into mundane items when the condition for removal is met. For example, should a character be cursed with a -2 Cursed Sword, the only means for removal is through a limited wish, wish, or miracle spell. When the spell is cast, the blight item would become a normal mundane sword. The character could actually turn around and attune themselves in a meaningful way to the formerly blighted item with no side effects from the item’s former status as a blighted item.
Combining Rules for IPs with Rules for GPs
Combining the rules for Complete Gear as well as the rules for treasure in a standard game does not have to be difficult. Of course, the standard in Complete Gear is that magical and psionic items are only attuned through influences rather than being made or bought. This position is taken because it is the simplest one that provides an aspect of game that has the least opportunity for mistakes. Yet it is possible to combine gold pieces and IPs
The rule governing this variant is that the sum of a player’s wealth (equipment, gold, and gemstones) and their IPs should follow the guidelines for character wealth by level. In practice, one can simply deduct a character’s wealth from the value given on the table earlier in the work and find out the size of a player’s IP pool. This process can be seen in the variant above regarding special materials.
For example, a Game Master may want to include magic items and influenced items in a game. As part of the treasure for a particular combat, a player may discover a sword that has a gold piece price of 18,000 gp. If the character were to be 10th level, they would normally have 49,000 IPs available to them. As soon as the character brought the item into their possession for any reasonable length of time, they would find their available IP pool reduced to 31,000 IPs. Should the character also be carrying around 3,000 gp worth of gemstones the IP pool should be further reduced to 28,000 IPs. Using this principle always assures that a character can have a combined wealth and influence equal to what is considered balanced.
Of course, the mechanical answer is much easier than the in-game rationale behind the principle. Perhaps the IP pool decreases because when a character uses pre-made equipment it reflects a loss of faith in their own ability to make what they need. Perhaps all magical and psionic items have an aura that interferes partially with a character’s ability to use their influence on mundane items. (In this case the stronger the aura – either through high price or through many smaller magical items acting as one larger aura – the less a character can use their own influence) Perhaps the ability to influence is a divine gift and reliance upon magical items is seen by the divine as a lack of trust. There are many reasons that can be used to justify why a character’s IP pool decreases when they come in contact with magical items that are made, not influenced The trick is finding a reason that fits well with the particular character within the particular game world.