Arduin Grimoire Volume 1 – Magical Weapon Generation Table

This is probably my favorite chart in the Arduin Grimoire Volume 1. I’m sure I spent a few hours rolling up magical weapons in 7th and 8th grade. At the time it looked like this was how it was done. You would roll up a magical weapon just like rolling up a charter, and just like every character, each magical weapons would be unique.

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Magic items should be unique. Magic items should be interesting. magic items should have the same variety as the people and places in your world.

Now, with a lot more perspective, I see the chart as disjointed, and vague, with not much reason to it’s rhymes. All practical failings aside, this chart is a great idea. The idea of being able to roll up a: Flaming Dancing Morning star, or a Halberd that grants you all Efreeti Powers, or a Vorpal bolo! beats the pants off rolling up a +2 Sword, or the regular old Sword of Sharpness, or any of the other weapons from Greyhawk.

In my opinion where Dave Hargrave went wrong was writing the chart as if he was running the game! There is so much left out here, the DM would really need to fill in a lot of details. What exactly is Speed? What are Effreeti Powers? (you get them all!) I feel what this chart needs is to associate all of the powers with spells and abilities defined in the game. Fifth edition, like third edition before it, does this well. (I know there was a Fourth Edition but, I choose not to mention it here) Where Fifth edition fails (in magic weapons generation table at least, the game itself is very good) is the anemic options provided for magical weapons. Dave’s chart could generate 30,000 different unique and interesting items.

Okay so my math is bad, the actual answer is not the point. I just calculated 31 types x 31 Normal Powers x 31 Special Abilities (31*31*31=29791). This doesn’t include the Int, Ego, and bonuses. The point is variety. This chart provides a lot of variety. The charts provided with Fifth Edition lacks this kind of Variety.

And for the players that say “but, I don’t want a Vorpal bolo.” Tell them they can’t just sell for gold, and convert it into the item of their dreams at the next city. This what the Assassin of the Sofixtrion emissary was carrying, it’s what they use, take it or leave it. From this point on your games and the characters in them will be more interesting.

I also understand that the rules work against you here. Not being trained imposes some big penalties. All of the OSR games don’t have this limitation. You can treat this how you like. waive the penalties. If it makes the game more interesting, I doubt anyone will notice. Impose the penalties, Limitation breeds creativity.

The Magic Sword Generation Tables in Dungeon Crawl Classics has a really cool range of powers and abilities. The problem with chart is it’s only Swords! Where’s my Mattock of the Storm Giant King, or my Dwarven Battle Axes?

Here is a google doc of the Arduin Magical Weapon generation chart. Do with it what you will. While the chart is not great in practical terms, feel free to fudge the dice rolls, and make any changes that make a more interesting magical items. Many rolls will generate mundane things with little intelligence and no powers. Also note that the alignment options at the bottom include: Amoral (which was an alignment in Arduin), and Average? Not sure what to do with these? Roll again, or make it up you’re the DM!

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15qZ1OgsvgSfRp0p0EeRr9xC0yh1BxXM1Ylnvx9o4Iy0/pubhtml

Here is a link to web page that will generate 100 Magical weapons using the chart above:

http://soggybag.github.io

 

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3 thoughts on “Arduin Grimoire Volume 1 – Magical Weapon Generation Table

  1. Sigh, this is exactly why many of the old school Arduin players and GM’s look askance at the ongoing spoon feeding of the DnD franchise. The point of Arduin, when published, was to provide ideas of things you could do yourself, without the rubber stamp of ‘Official Idea of ‘X’ game committee’, copyright pending. Yes, Dave Hargrave did put in charts from the game he was running, and there were some changes as he progressed. FRP games of the period were all trying to find the right balance of stats/features/skills/etc without sacrificing too much playability.

    The point is not to build an exhaustive set of charts that can generate any possible ‘official power’ for any officially recognized weapon. A good GM often makes several key items that will affect a campaign or story arc, then uses the good old random charts to fill in for areas that didn’t need exact detail. There are a multitude of ideas Dave surfaced in the Grimores that have become standard ideas as later systems were designed. Heck, Dave freely borrowed ideas as well, that’s part of the standard practice in the industry as new ideas grow and morph.

    But the key is that a GM who wants to run an epic campaign had better do his own design and add creativity. Make your own chart variants. Alter monsters and powers. If all you have to offer is the same ‘Official Rules’ and ‘standard items’ – you can narrate a tournament game or read through a module that anyone else with a few dollars can deliver. But you’re not adding anything new.

    That’s the battle between portability/standard tournament rules and unique games where things are different.

    ‘Arduin Kills’ was a button Dave used to give out at GrimCon’s (the short-lived Arduin Grimore focused convention series) that rewarded players and GM’s who came up with unique and fiendish ideas. It could be excellent roleplay or really devious use of materials and skills. The point was players had to really think. Because standard responses to what looked like textbook situations WILL get you killed in a real Arduin Grimore style game.

    I’ve had characters die in the real Skull Tower, get mobbed by beggars in Talismonde, and fail that critical save by ‘that’ much. Dave was always evolving how an Arduin game worked. Trying to ‘rules lawyer’ your way through a run was fast suicide.

    So make up your own chart, decide what powers work or don’t work in YOUR campaign. But you won’t be running an Arduin style campaign if you stick to the well-digested standard fare.

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    1. I yeah I get the impression from a lot of newer players, that the DM is telling them a story, and things are all pre-planned. With the older guys that I played with back in the beginning, they make their own story within the world presented by the DM. They take action and ask questions, rather than waiting for the DM to say what happens.

      With 3rd edition I thought there was too much defined in the rules. This led to a lot of argument with the DM over the rules. I think was a low point for the game. I like 5th edition. I like defining things like damage resistance. Dave’s “100% Fire Proof” is not good enough for me rules wise. I can work with it, but I like having a mechanic. Without a rule two different DM’s might define “proof” in different ways.

      I don’t like it when there is a “Wand of Magic Missiles”, it’s got a picture, and description that’s fixed. I’d rather have a general rules for wands, and each is different.

      Speaking of “Arduin Kills” I remember meeting a guy at a convention in the diner. He was obviously bummed. He recounted how his character, a skunk man, which he had been playing for a while, had just been killed in a game run by Dave Hargrave. Apparently the group had been fired on by Orcs with german field howitzers from a ridge line…

      While I feel this is over the top, I think this is how the game is meant to be played. You can play a skunk man, and the DM can work with it, and if the world has german artillery, the Orcs might be firing it! The DM can present all of this and it’s the player’s job to react to the situation with their best strategies. No argument, no complaints, imagine you’re there what do you do? This what the game is about for me.

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  2. Excellent points all the way through, Robert. I also echo your last two paragraphs. We’ve both been there, much to our discomfort and ultimate delight. He was that damned good.

    David made the Grimoires (all of them) the way he played and GM’d. He presented it all for that precise purpose. I kind of understand Mitchell’s ideas but also feel he’s misinterpreted intent vis a vis content. No harm, no foul. In the end its ALL good. For me the telling point came at the very end of his presentation where, in spite of the perceived criticisms and ‘needs this’ notes Mitchell says:

    QUOTE While the chart is not great in practical terms, feel free to fudge the dice rolls, and make any changes that make a more interesting magical items. Many rolls will generate mundane things with little intelligence and no powers. Also note that the alignment options at the bottom include: Amoral (which was an alignment in Arduin), and Average? Not sure what to do with these? Roll again, or make it up you’re the DM! END QUOTE

    If that isn’t what David wanted you as Player or GM to do all along, I don’t know what is. Good Stuff no matter how its sliced. 🙂

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