Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Encyclopedia Magica: Amulet Against Crystal Balls and ESP

To me, this is a standard book item. It comes from the D&D Expert set, which is where I learned to play. Seeing it included here was a little jarring the first time. But, it was in fact not included in this form in AD&D. Of course, most AD&D players are more familiar with its big brother, the amulet of proof against detection and location.


The wearer of this item is automatically protected from being spied on by someone using a crystal ball or any type of ESP.

(Heh. I'm using an OCRed PDF of the book for ease. It interpreted the italicized "crystal ball" as "crystal bait".)

The limitations of the item largely simply reflect the options available in the game at the time. Pretty much the only way to scry at the time was the crystal ball, and ESP was the only way to penetrate a person's thoughts.

The uses for a party are fairly obvious. Nobody likes to be scried on, or to have their thoughts read. Of course, the tricky thing is that this item works best when everyone in the party has one. (Though, I will admit that I once played with a paranoid mage who had this amulet and a ring of invisibility. He totally ganked the evil mage who had been watching us but didn't realize there was a fifth member to the party.)

Giving to a villain is really only a good idea if the party has been abusing scrying. Giving the party a crystal ball and then immediately making villains proof against it is just a dick move. And, of course, giving it to a villain when the party doesn't have a crystal ball is just redundant.

The one possible odd plot hook I can think of is that a noted hero headed off into dangerous territory with one of these amulets on. He has been gone far longer than would be expected, and his friends wish to find him. Of course, the amulet prevents them from finding him, or even telling if he is still alive. The party must engage in a hex crawl through broken lands to find him (or his body).

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