Too often we take D&D too seriously. That’s not to say that funny things don’t happen during the course of an adventure, but when it comes to the rules and the mechanics of the game it’s usually all business.
Today, in honour of April Fool’s Day we’re taking a step back and adding a little bit of humour to one of the more serious aspects of the game – magic treasure.
As we’ve discussed before, the way the players describe their magical items is certainly not the way that their characters describe their items (see What’s a +1 Sword?). With that in mind, every now and then the DM should have some fun at the player’s expense. This isn’t intended to be mean spirited; it’s merely a way for the DM to inject some hilarity into the game by exploiting player greed.
The next time the party expects to find magical or otherwise special treasures don’t merely say that the find a Sword +1 or Armor +2. Describe the item in a way that would make sense to the character. Intermixed with the magical treasures throw in a regular, everyday item, but describe it in a way that might fool some players into believing it’s magical.
Here are some descriptions of mundane items with no magical properties whatsoever. A creative DM can describe these items in such a way as to imply that these items are more fabulous then they really are.
Blanket of Absorption
Vestments of Warmth
Daily Power: When moderate amounts of liquid come into contact with this 2ft x 4ft cloth they are immediately absorbed. If the Blanket of Absorption is hung up or left out in bright sunlight, the power can be used again after only 2 hours have passed.
[Real description: Towel]
This spherical implement is not as popular as the crystal or glass orb because it is usually so much heavier. Stone Orbs are exceptionally common and confer no implement bonus when casting spells.
[Real description: Rock]
When ignited this club will continue burning for 1 hour. The Flaming Club can be reignited if the club’s head is first coated with oil or another flammable substance.
[Real description: Torch]
PCs can load as much as they want into this sac; it just never seems to full up! Particularly observant characters may realize that the reason the bag never gets full is because of the gaping hole in the bottom.
[Real description: Bag with a hole in it]
Donning these garments help the wearer maintain a comfortable body temperature.
[Real description: Winter clothes]
At first this kind of intentional misdirection may seem silly and juvenile, but it can lead to memorable, and usually comical, moments at your gaming table.
In a recent campaign I threw a “Flaming Club” in with a bunch of magical loot. It was conveniently left resting in a small alcove, already flaming when the party found it. The eyes of player running the Warden lit up when I described it as a Flaming Club. (He was the only PC without a magical weapon at the time).
The rest of the party saw through the playful description and even said “It’s just a torch” but the player running the Warden adamantly disagreed. He’d made up his mind that it was magical. “If it was just a torch the DM would have called it a torch.”
The Warden took his Flaming Club into the next battle and used it to kill many monsters. It wasn’t until after the battle when the flames died out that he finally realized that it probably was just a torch after all. We still tease him playfully whenever someone lights a torch.
Something as simple as a creative (and often corny) description of a regular item can mislead a player into thinking that he’s found the crown jewels when in fact he’s just found a regular rock. By injecting a little bit of humour into your game you remind even the most serious gamer that at the end of the day the real objective of any RPG is to have fun.