Friday, May 6, 2011

Magic Items 101

I am trying to get back into the saddle in terms of writing 101s again. I have been distracted of late over some Hekinoe irritations and some side projects I am working on. I'm going to start with something relatively simple and perhaps uninteresting. Regardless, it is a starting point and an attempt to get back to expanding on Hekinoe. 

Magic items. I've spoken before about how common magic items are in  the Fell Peaks, specifically and especially in Hell/Meroteth. Magic items degrade over time, sorcery is unreliable, and while my guys have been lucky, at any time, things could have gone horrifically wrong. Magic items are very much like that. The longer they exist, the more unreliable the sorcery involved in their creation gets and they essentially become a ticking time bomb, with every use drawing them closer to catastrophic failure. 

Naturally, this unreliability makes magic items far less desirable. Additionally, who needs a wand of magic missile that might implode and cause you to lose a hand or face, when you can just pull iron and put two in a thug's brain pan?

Anyway, magic items are cheap in Meroteth. Have been for the longest time. I have even said that they can be purchased at twenty-five to fifty percent cheaper than normal. Why is this? The spells required to create stuff are the same. It basically amounts to the fact that only the desperate are willing to use a ticking time bomb, there needs to be some benefit to sorcerous items, and that benefit is cheapness. Sorcerers and magical tradesmen simply cannot afford to charge full price for their magic items. 

How do these alchemists and enchanters combat this narrow margin of profit? Shoddy materials and sub par craftsmanship. Gone is the era of gleaming blades borne into battle by witch kings and noble heroes with strong jawlines, not that there ever really was an era of that sort in Hekinoe. This is an era of thugs with tin +1 blades that are good for one mugging before shattering against a mark's bone and becoming ensorcelled shrapnel. Gahz'zharra's leather armor wasn't well made tanned bovine hide, not even pig. Nope, his armor was poorly stitched together one hundred percent rat hide. 

Magical craftsmen also cut costs by doing their own forge and crafting work. So we have amateur (or downright incompetent) smiths making tin +1 swords or taxidermists attempting to turn a pile of snake scales into a an amulet of natural armor +1. Often times, you will get a collection or sorcerers with  shops near each  other, with each sorcerer type knowing a very specialized set of spells and skills and sort of perfecting their niche of the mass produced sorcerous item trade and the sorcerers kind of band together in a guild of sorts so they can have some variety to their goods. 

How do these sorcerous craftsmen keep themselves safe from their trade? They keep their stock small and barely enough to meet the demands of their customers. This practice also creates a sort of false demand for their product as well. They line their storerooms in granite and iron and keep the doors bolted and deep beneath their stores. They also don't live anywhere near their stores and they keep their stores in areas of the city with low property value in the first place.

All that said, there are shops that go in the other direction. There are magical tradesmen that do sell gleaming blades that glow with sorcerous light. They craft their blades and amulets and armor out of the finest and toughest materials. Blades of wolf-iron, armors crafted from actual dragonscales or beast hide from The Beast Lands. These craftsmen do not mass produce +1 blades. Each object produced is unique, bracers that deflect arrows, swords that cleave head from shoulders, necklaces that produce explosions, and so on. These objects are crafted from the finest materials, and these materials hold on to the enchantments they possess with far greater tenacity than the tin and copper and rat skin of other enchanters. These rare tradesman with their fancy materials and their slightly more reliable product find that they are able to demand far more for their goods than the much more common back alley sorcerers with their tin swords. 

I know I've spoken of magic items prior to this point, so here is a little bit more about this industry. Huzzah for 101s!

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