Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Artifacts in the Black City

When generating hex contents, one of the results is "Artifacts".  This list is suitable to use for artifacts in the Black City.  In addition to being an outcome when searching a hex, artifacts can also show up in ruined buildings (also a result on the hex contents table), and I'll likely use this list for dungeon dressing, too.

Most artifacts a group could find will need to be chipped out of the ice, uncovered or excavated (use common sense, though).  If an item could be valuable, assume a value of 200-500gp to a suitable buyer (unless otherwise noted).

1-4  Ape-Men Tools
5-8  Battery
9-13  Container
14-18  Crystal
19-22  Cthulhoid Artifact
23-26  Device
27-29  Disc
30-34  Fiber/Conduit
35-40  Gemstone passkey
41-44  Hyperborean Artifact
45-49  Jewelry
50-53  Knife
54-58  Metal
59  Miscellaneous Magic Item
60-63  Mummified corpse
64-67  Obelisk
68-72  Picture
73-74  Rod
75-78  Roman Artifacts
79-83  Statue
84-88  Viking Artifacts
89-92  Wand
93-96  Watcher
97-100  Writing

Ape-Men Tools
The group discovers some bone implements left by the Ape-Men - these could be cutters, clubs, primitive axes for hacking, or a necklace of teeth.

The group finds a battery cylinder suitable for powering Grey artifacts.  There is a 50% chance it still has 1-100 charges.  Grey wands uses charges on a 1-to-1 basis; 2-to-1 for rods, and 4-to-1 for staves.  (Example:  a Grey staff would use 4 battery charges when using a power that normally drain 1 charge from a standard magical staff).

The group finds an object suitable for holding things - a bowl, decanter or flagon made out of alien crystal, space metal or an otherworldly substance (plastic).

Black City crystals appear to be large, perfectly formed quartz crystals about a half foot long.  Each one is worth 30-180gp.  There are three types - fuse, hologram and memory crystals.  Fuse crystals are clear; hologram crystals appear to have traces of rainbow colors in them; memory crystals are black/smoky.  The DM should keep track of any crystals the party chooses to keep, as there are "machines" in the dungeons where they can be accessed (fuse boxes, hologram viewers and memory readers).

1-2 Fuse
3-4 Hologram
5-6 Memory

Cthulhu Idol*
Cthulhoid Artifact
The Greys worshipped the outer gods and knew of the old ones, including finding some of the old ones sleeping on Earth.  The group has found a Mythos relic; roll d6 1-4 idol, 5 star stone, 6 pebbles.

An idol will be an unsettling representation of an outer god or old one; possession will lead to bad dreams and could allow the entity to influence the holder.  Pebbles are inscribed rocks used in summoning Deep Ones; you ought to know what a star stone is...

The group has found a technological device of the Greys.  Here are two common examples:

Obedience Collar & Enslavement Ring:  Wielder of the ring can lock/unlock the collar.  When placed on a human, demi-human or humanoid, the ring provides the ability to invoke pain or pleasure on the wearer of the collar - in game terms, treat it like a combination of charm person, hold person, and command (at will).

Levitation Disc:  A drink coaster sized metal disc that adheres to a flat surface.  Activating the disc (by running a finger along the edge) negates an objects gravity; an object can be made buoyant and can be made to fly.  The size of the object doesn't matter, but structural integrity is an issue.  Lev-discs will have 1-10 hours of lift remaining.

A disc is a platinum object (10pp value) marked with the Grey dot matrix script.  It will either act as a protection scroll or contain a single magic user spell.  Casting the spell burns the magic off the face of the disc.  It will take a read languages to understand, and an additional read magic if it contains a spell.  Thieves cannot decipher the Grey language.

The group finds some exposed cabling - could be coiled in rubble, a cracked conduit, or loose end.  The cabling is either crystalline fiber or gold.  The group can recover 10-100' of cabling during a search period; gold cable is worth 1gp per foot.

Gemstone passkey
The group finds one or more gemstone passkeys.  Roll d20 on the following table:

1-8 Red (10gp) 2-5 gems
9-11 Orange (50gp) 2-4 gems
12-14 Yellow (100gp) 1-3 gems
15-16 Green (250gp) 1-2 gems
17-18 Blue (500gp) 1 gem
19 Indigo (1000gp) 1 gem
20 Violet (5000gp) 1 gem

Hyperborean Artifact
The group finds an ancient weapon lost by the Hyperboreans.  The device looks like a blunderbuss and shoots a 30' disintegration ray (save vs Death Ray).  It has a cumulative 1 in 6 chance of exploding for 3d6 damage, affecting everyone in a 20' radius.

A piece of crystalline jewelry is found.  The piece is damaged and only worth 300-1800gp.  It will either be an alien headdress or tiara (1-3) or an intricate series of amulets (4-6).  Crystalline jewelry was used in certain worship rituals as noted in the dungeon text.

A wavy-bladed religious dagger is found.  The object is space metal (non-magic +1 to hit).  There is a 25% chance it is inhabited by an alien psyche (treat as a malevolent intelligent weapon, with intelligence and ego score that will attempt to control a weakened character).

Shards or sheets of alien space metal are found - roll for size.  1-2, small; 3-4, medium, 5-6 large.  The alloy is light, durable, and nearly impossible to bend; if the right smith were found back in the world, it could forged into non-magic +1 armor or weapons.

Miscellaneous Magic Item
An enchanted item for a previous culture is found; it's survived the ages because of it's protective magic.  Roll d6 for culture:  1 Roman, 2 Viking, 3 Hyperborean, 4-6 Alien.  Alien objects will function like a standard magic item but the form and use will vary; example - instead of a rope of entanglement, a power ring of entanglement (Green Lantern style, baby!)

Mummified corpse
An ancient corpse is found in a niche safe from predation - stuck in a crevice, encased in ice, buried under a slab or rubble.  Roll for culture (d6 - 1-2 Roman, 3-4 Hyperborean, 5-6 Alien) and incidental treasure.  There's a 50% chance the creature animates as a mummy when least expected - preferably hours later - and begins hunting the group that freed it.

The characters discover a partially buried obelisk, 8 to 15' feet high.  The obelisk is black stone and chiseled with alien dots and glyphs.  The obelisk will have unusual properties:

1  Electrical glyphs - shocks anyone within 5' for 1d8.
2  Haunted - character touching it gains a poltergeist.
3  Spell -the runes and glyphs form a spell (requires read language and read magic to understand, then would need to be transcribed)
4 Polymorphs the character touching it into a bovine (food).
5 Intelligence - first character touching it gains a point of Intelligence as alien math floods their mind.
6 Absorption - character touching it is absorbed into the obelisk. The previous prisoner pops out nearby.  Uh oh.

A form of pictorial representation of something from the alien culture.  Roll d6 (1-2 tablet, 3-4 a slab , 5-6 a section of wall).  Examples could include (d6):  1 a space ship, 2 a mythos entity, 3 a procession of Greys, 4 cult worship, 5 a great moment in alien history, 6 something abstract or symbolic.

The characters discover a Grey rod with attached battery cylinder.  The rod will have d100 minus 50 charges (if applicable).  Each use drains double the listed charges from the battery.  Roll on the following table:

1-3 Discipline Rod*
4 Rod of Absorption
5 Rod of Beguiling
6 Rod of Cancellation

*The discipline rod is a limited Rod of Lordly Might - paralyzation power and hit point drain powers, only.

Roman Artifacts
The group finds some piece of Roman gear a few centuries old, left by a lost expedition.  Mundane gear is likely pitted and useless except for historical interest, but there is a 5% chance the item is magical.

Roll d6 to determine type of item: 1-2 weapon, 3-4 armor, 5-6 gear

Similar to a picture, this is a 3-dimensional representation of something from the alien culture.  Roll for size, d6 (1-2 medium,3-4 large,5-6 huge).  Examples of what could be represented include (d6):  1 a space ship, 2 a mythos entity, 3 a procession of Greys, 4 cult worship, 5 a great moment in alien history, 6 something abstract or symbolic.

Viking Artifacts
The group finds a piece of equipment left behind by a recent party (less than a few years old).  Mundane gear is 50% pitted and useless, but there is a 1% chance the item is magical.

Roll d6 to determine type of item: 1-2 weapon, 3-4 armor, 5-6 gear

The characters discover a Grey wand with attached battery cylinder.  The wand will have d100 minus 50 charges (if applicable).  Roll on the following table:

1-3 Mundane wand
4-6 Roll on the wand table

* Mundane wands - the Greys controlled many aspects of their city and technology with wands - mundane wands provided basic light, heat, fire, cold, or other simple cantrip level effects - mage hand, minor healing, etc. (1 effect per wand).  There's a 33% a mundane wand has no discernible function - for example, it might control a vehicle that no long exist or an automaton long since destroyed.

The group finds a Watcher (see the bestiary).  Roll encounter distance 20-120 yards; if within 60 yards when the group stumbles upon the Watcher, an active Watcher will start blasting characters without a proper passkey.

A sample of Grey language dot-matrix print on a piece of stonework (d6, 1-2 slab, 3-4 a tablet, 5-6 a section of wall).  Here are some ideas on what the writing could be about - roll d6, 1 history, 2 operate machinery, 3 inspirational, 4 biographical, 5 devotional, 6 tactics.  Even with read languages, the grammar will be disjointed and senseless.

*The cool Cthulhu Idol is for sale at this place.


  1. This is getting better and better and better from day to day! If you ever publish the Black City, I'm SOOOO going to buy - even pre-order - it!

    You have such a wonderful imagination - better than mine!

  2. Liking how the Black City is shaping up. Looking forward to more.

  3. Thanks for the kindly words - this artifact list took a while to get down (it had been kicking around different lists in my brainstorming notebook).

    Mulling over the idea of pushing the Black City towards eventually being a PDF product - there'll certainly be enough written material. I'd need to learn how to turn the graph paper maps into nice looking images (GIMP or Photoshop maybe?) and find a desktop software.

  4. I've just stumbled across your Black City and I have to say, it's looking very good and interesting!