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Pen & Paper Roleplaying Central => Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion => Topic started by: HappyDaze on November 28, 2019, 03:20:11 PM

Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: HappyDaze on November 28, 2019, 03:20:11 PM
I'm looking for a good form for a stolen McGuffin that contains lore. It needs to be something that will last thousands of years in an environment that is cool and moist. The culture creating it is druid-centered and largely more primitive than most D&D cultures,  but they have some metalworking ability.

I'm thinking of either stone or clay tablets, but I'm open to something more fantastical if it sounds fitting. The McGuffin does not need to be easily portable as long as it fits into a bag of holding. Suggestions?
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Shasarak on November 28, 2019, 03:58:56 PM
How about some kind of vision stone or crystal?
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: rawma on November 28, 2019, 04:01:38 PM
A druid-centered culture might save this lore in something more natural than written records - perhaps an egg that hatches into a creature that telepathically conveys the lore (or a seed that grows into such a plant). This potentially adds some complexity in figuring out how to get it to hatch, but might also explain why copies were not made as could happen with a book or scroll or some object carved with the information.

Or perhaps it's knowledge passed down unknowing to whatever heir of the original archdruid who held the lore; druids seem like an oral tradition kind of folk, but again if it's a McGuffin it has to be unique. So the heir does not know they hold this ancestral knowledge until the circumstances are right.

Magical stones or crystals as Shasarak suggested would also fit for druids.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Chris24601 on November 28, 2019, 04:01:53 PM
A crystal. The words are read by holding a light source behind it and it projects the markings onto a wall or similar. It'd last basically forever regardless of environment.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: VisionStorm on November 28, 2019, 04:09:57 PM
You could make it a Cauldron of Knowledge, based on the legend of the Bard Taliesin and the Celtic goddess Ceridwen (link for wiki page (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceridwen)). In order to acquire the knowledge provided by the cauldron, a potion must be brewed in it for a year and a day, and the first three drops from it ingested (the rest turns into poison). Obviously you could adapt it to your own setting and change the specifics using the legend as a general idea (which is a IRL Druidic legend). But the basic concept is that rather than the lore being read from a book, it is acquired by ingesting a potion that affects the user's mind like a drug, granting them insight.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Shasarak on November 28, 2019, 04:49:16 PM
I like rawma's suggestion about a natural creature.  What about something like a child Groot-like seedling from the druidic "knowledge" tree?

That would be small enough to dump into a bag of holding.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: He-Ra on November 28, 2019, 05:37:49 PM
An ancient silver or bronze mirror, surrounded by glyphs from the druid-alphabet. If you can speak/activate the glyphs correctly, you can view the lore you want to see, though "as in a mirror, darkly".
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: HappyDaze on November 28, 2019, 05:57:17 PM
Quote from: Chris24601;1115232
A crystal. The words are read by holding a light source behind it and it projects the markings onto a wall or similar. It'd last basically forever regardless of environment.

I like this. Any examples of this in D&D already? Other mediums?
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: HappyDaze on November 28, 2019, 05:59:57 PM
Quote from: Shasarak;1115235
I like rawma's suggestion about a natural creature.  What about something like a child Groot-like seedling from the druidic "knowledge" tree?

That would be small enough to dump into a bag of holding.

Many living creatures die if you keep them in a bag of holding for more than a few minutes. OTOH, a stone golem could be an animate version of a stone tablet.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: spon on November 28, 2019, 06:07:07 PM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptex

basically the maguffin from the Da Vinci code
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: VisionStorm on November 28, 2019, 06:22:45 PM
Quote from: HappyDaze;1115238
I like this. Any examples of this in D&D already? Other mediums?


They have something similar in The Atlas from Rise of the Tomb Raider, which projects a map when light hits the crystal. I'm pretty sure I've seen similar stuff from other sources, but my memory is mush.
https://tombraider.fandom.com/wiki/Atlas_(Artifact)
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: rawma on November 28, 2019, 06:47:26 PM
Quote from: HappyDaze;1115239
Many living creatures die if you keep them in a bag of holding for more than a few minutes. OTOH, a stone golem could be an animate version of a stone tablet.


If you like some other creature, grant it the effect of a necklace of adaptation?
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Opaopajr on November 28, 2019, 07:25:28 PM
Megalithic astrological architechture with festivals and oral traditions attached. Y'know, just like earth! :) You can add magic by requiring a blood sacrifice to a festival ritual, making typical magic pyrotechnics. :D
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: jeff37923 on November 28, 2019, 07:27:48 PM
How about a lacquered piece of wood with the information inscribed on it in a language or as artwork?
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: The_Shadow on November 28, 2019, 08:09:08 PM
Gold or other metal tablets/sheets, a la the book of Mormon.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: HappyDaze on November 28, 2019, 08:13:22 PM
Quote from: jeff37923;1115254
How about a lacquered piece of wood with the information inscribed on it in a language or as artwork?

I considered lacquered shell (turtle-like) but I'm not sure how enduring it would be over time.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Shasarak on November 28, 2019, 08:27:42 PM
Quote from: HappyDaze;1115239
Many living creatures die if you keep them in a bag of holding for more than a few minutes. OTOH, a stone golem could be an animate version of a stone tablet.


A Druidic version of a Warforged with Barkskin instead of metal plating?
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: GameDaddy on November 28, 2019, 09:10:03 PM
Quote from: HappyDaze;1115238

 Quote Originally Posted by Chris24601
"A crystal. The words are read by holding a light source behind it and it projects the markings onto a wall or similar. It'd last basically forever regardless of environment."

....I like this. Any examples of this in D&D already? Other mediums?


Yes, Dragonshards in Eberron.

Among Eberron's most important resources are the three varieties of Dragonshards, the fallen Shards of Siberys, the crystals that are found in the soil of Eberron, and those drawn from the depths of Khyber. Each type of Dragonshard has an affinity for certain magical functions, and each is used to make a different sort of magic item. All Dragonshards appear as translucent rock or crystal with swirling veins of color suspended within them. The shape of these veins suggest the swirls of Dragonmarks, though no one has ever found a shard that exactly mirrored a Dragonmark. The color moves and pulses within the translucent crystal, making Dragonshards look almost alive, and lending their color to the overall appearance of the crystal.

Siberys Shards
Siberys Shards fell from the Ring of Siberys, and as a result are usually found in Xen'drik and other equatorial regions. (No prospector has yet dared to explore what must be vast shard fields in Argonnessen). Their crystalline depths contain pulsating golden veins. The most rare of the Dragonshard varieties, Siberys Shards are the most closely connected to Dragonmarks. Scions of the Dragon-Marked Houses attune them to their own Marks and fashion them into focus items to enhance their spell-like abilities. Siberys Heirs use unnatuned shards to power their own powerful abilities. The Inspired of Sarlona covet Siberys Shards, because they can be used to enhance psionic ability. Siberys Shards are sometimes called sunstones or starmotes.

They are used to power Focus devices which enhances the effective casting level of the Dragonmarked using his natural spell-like abilities. A Dragonshard Reservior is a ring that can store the magical energy of a Dragonmark (Think of this as a Ring of Spell-storing, but for the Dragonmarked, a race of magically enhanced humans). They are used to power greater items such as Altars of Resurrection, Astral Beacons, Bags of Bounty, Collars of the Wild Bond, Diadems of Passage and Diadems of Sensory Ehancements, House Wards, Inquisitors' Goggles, Prospectors Rods, and much more...

Eberron Shards
Prospectors find Eberron Shards buried in soil, never deep in rock. They typically appear in clusters, encased within geodes. They are found in Khorvaire and Aerenal exclusively, and may be tied to the development of Dragonmarks. Inside the pinkish crystal of each Eberron Shard are writhing swirls of deep red, which are why these shards are commonly known as bloodstones. Like other Dragonshards, Eberron Shards display a remarkable affinity for magic, but this affinity is very broad compared to the specific uses of Siberys and Khyber Shards. A Spellcaster can attune an Eberron Shard to a specific spell, enhancing the effects of the spell when cast using the Shard as a focus. Wizard's can encode their spells (and magic writings) in Eberron Shards instead of inscribing them on paper. The following Magic Items are normally made using Eberron Shards; Spell Storing Weapons, Rings of Spell Turning, counterspell and wizardry rings and staffs, rods of absorbtion, metamagic rods, and intelligent magic items frequently include Eberron Shards. Some Greater Power Items include Auroen's Spellshard, a Shard that holds up to five hundred pages worth of spells, and wizards can imprint new spells on this shard without having to pay the usual spell material component costs. An Eternal Wand, Everbright Lanterns, And Scrying Shards. Eberron Shards can also be used to create Power Stones, the psionic equivalent of scrolls.

Khyber Shards
Khyber Shards grow on the walls of volcanic caverns deep underground and are usually located near pools of magma, or sulfur vents. They are particularly common in areas tied to Fiendish or Elemental activity, such as the Demon Wastes, though can be found anywhere in Eberron. They are smoky crystals colored with veins of midnight blue to oily black. Their affinity is for the magic of binding, in creating elemental powered items, and are used to enhance summoning spells, in binding diagrams, trap the soul spells, and similar summoning magics. They are sometimes called nightshards or demonstones. When a character binds an elemental to a suit of armor, the armor gains one of the following properties Burning, Stonemeld, Underwater Action or Whirlwind. These Shards are also used to power the Elemental Vessels, Airships, Elemental powered Galleons, and Lightning Rail Coaches. They are also used in the creation of Warforged components such as Arm Blades, Arm Bows, Battle Fists, and can be used to enhance energy resistances, and stealth abilities..  

One of the big draws for me with Eberron, is the High or Intense Magic prevalent everywhere within this campaign setting, the Dragonshards are a large part of that!


Other Crystals or Stones

Palantir

The original crystal balls, used primarily for scrying, but they can also be used to cast ranged spells like Clairvoyance and Clauraudience and reach far beyond the normal range for these, and also used with other similar Divination spells.

Intelligent Crystal Weapons
My Enchanted Swords of Crystalmyr for example. handcrafted Crystal weapons, carefully carved by expert gemcutters and stonecutters, imbued and strengthened with both magic and intelligence, and set with other stones and gems, these artifacts that can be used by anyone with martial weapons training and have been enchanted with a large number of spells and spell-like abilities.

Magic Spirit Crystals
Crystals or stones imbued with supernatural or extradimensional properties, with specific binds or bonds to other intelligent beings.

Ioun Stones
Used by wizards, shapeshifters, and psychics alike, these inherently magical stones defy the laws of gravity and can be used to cast, store, and enhance magic, as well as being used for psionic activity, or to enhance natural psychic or psionic talents.

Floatstone
Stone that is lighter than air, but as strong as traditional stone. Used to create enchanted flying ships, and in creating aerial castles, or strongholds suspended high above the earth.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: VisionStorm on November 28, 2019, 09:10:09 PM
Quote from: Shasarak;1115265
A Druidic version of a Warforged with Barkskin instead of metal plating?


Would Druids really have constructs, though? I think that the vision stone you mentioned initially sounds more like Druidic stuff. Or maybe a Nature Spirit if you want to make it an entity. Maybe the Nature Spirit is bound to a Totem, which could be the McGuffin. Or maybe the Tree of Life idea that came up earlier could be the Totem, and it has a Nature Spirit bound to it, like a Dryad, who were in some mythological sources the ones who taught Druids their craft.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: HappyDaze on November 29, 2019, 12:50:03 AM
Quote from: VisionStorm;1115271
Would Druids really have constructs, though? I think that the vision stone you mentioned initially sounds more like Druidic stuff. Or maybe a Nature Spirit if you want to make it an entity. Maybe the Nature Spirit is bound to a Totem, which could be the McGuffin. Or maybe the Tree of Life idea that came up earlier could be the Totem, and it has a Nature Spirit bound to it, like a Dryad, who were in some mythological sources the ones who taught Druids their craft.

The druids in Hordes (the companion of Warmachine) and seen in the Unleashed RPG certainly used constructs alongside their werecreatures.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Spinachcat on November 29, 2019, 03:18:21 AM
The Great Basin Bristlecone pine tree lives 5000+ years, so perhaps some species of Treants also live millennia and become living repositories of knowledge. Or perhaps, not a Treant, but a Dryad's tree which has become an ancient Dryad library of wisdom. To the outside world, just a tree, but those who can enter trees and live within, its a miraculous haven of secrets.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Omega on November 29, 2019, 05:05:19 AM
Quote from: HappyDaze;1115228
I'm looking for a good form for a stolen McGuffin that contains lore. It needs to be something that will last thousands of years in an environment that is cool and moist. The culture creating it is druid-centered and largely more primitive than most D&D cultures,  but they have some metalworking ability.

I'm thinking of either stone or clay tablets, but I'm open to something more fantastical if it sounds fitting. The McGuffin does not need to be easily portable as long as it fits into a bag of holding. Suggestions?

Any overall non-corroding metal may work. Especially magic ones like Mithril or Adamantine. I believe Platinum is another?

But going the nature route you could have lore literally inscribed into a tree for example. Other thoughts are stone plates as you guessed. Clay itself is too fragile but some types of fired clay can be pretty durable.

Add in some sort of magic ingredient or even something simple like a self mending spell and about anything can last forever. Even paper.

Going that route a book made of leaves magiced to be ever green and ether naturally or enchanted durable. Many a decade ago we had a school project to make a little booklet from autumn leaves.
Something like this with the binding being the stems bound together.
(https://www.sheknows.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/diy-vintage-paper-leaf-wreath-5_vxguxw.jpeg)
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: jeff37923 on November 29, 2019, 05:58:18 AM
Quote from: HappyDaze;1115261
I considered lacquered shell (turtle-like) but I'm not sure how enduring it would be over time.


Depends on lacquer, could be up to a couple hundred years if maintained.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: HappyDaze on November 29, 2019, 07:05:33 AM
Quote from: Omega;1115283

But going the nature route you could have lore literally inscribed into a tree for example. Other thoughts are stone plates as you guessed. Clay itself is too fragile but some types of fired clay can be pretty durable.

I think I'm going to avoid metal for this one; there's something else in the campaign I want to do with metal plates later.

For clay, I was certainly not thinking of simple dried clay, but rather something of a fired clay/ceramic made with alchemical treatments and/or glazing.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: VisionStorm on November 29, 2019, 08:55:30 AM
Quote from: HappyDaze;1115278
The druids in Hordes (the companion of Warmachine) and seen in the Unleashed RPG certainly used constructs alongside their werecreatures.

I'm not familiar with those, but druids using constructs sounds a bit more gamey fantasy kitchen sink than authentic druidic stuff. I suppose you could still make it work depending on what you have in mind or how things operate in your world (like maybe make it a totem that animates into a construct), but I'm not entirely sure what you're looking for.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: jeff37923 on November 29, 2019, 08:58:53 AM
OK, thinking on it a bit, if the society is druid based then what about something living? Not animated like a treant, but something grown like a set of symbiotic plants which can be reduced in size and grow seasonally but do not lose their information. Like a plant based fractal set.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Omega on November 29, 2019, 11:53:29 AM
Quote from: HappyDaze;1115294
I think I'm going to avoid metal for this one; there's something else in the campaign I want to do with metal plates later.

For clay, I was certainly not thinking of simple dried clay, but rather something of a fired clay/ceramic made with alchemical treatments and/or glazing.

Ceramics and even some basic fired clays can last a long time depending on where they are located. That could be hundreds or even thousands of years. It is similar to something made of glass. Normally glass is really enduring if thick enough. But in certain climates it will eventually fracture from stress. A glass cube though might effectively last forever as its big enough to resist most baser stresses.

Bone I was told by Kat will last for a few decades before drying out and becoming brittle. But under good conditions can last centuries, or under bad ones can decompose fairly quickly.

And here is an interesting one. Amber. This stuff can last practically forever too under the right circumstances and once it hardens it is effectively a really pretty rock. Someone using magic or some alchemichal process might be able to create artificially hardened amber that does not take millions of years.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Omega on November 29, 2019, 11:57:48 AM
Quote from: jeff37923;1115301
OK, thinking on it a bit, if the society is druid based then what about something living? Not animated like a treant, but something grown like a set of symbiotic plants which can be reduced in size and grow seasonally but do not lose their information. Like a plant based fractal set.

Lore fruit. Eat one and its the equivalent of reading a book. Add a time period after to process it, and/or a INT or WIS type check to process it.

Or the "Know Trees" from the D&D cartoon. Those could have easily been some sort of ancient data storage system.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: HappyDaze on November 29, 2019, 12:17:00 PM
Quote from: Omega;1115310
And here is an interesting one. Amber. This stuff can last practically forever too under the right circumstances and once it hardens it is effectively a really pretty rock. Someone using magic or some alchemichal process might be able to create artificially hardened amber that does not take millions of years.

I really like this idea.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: HappyDaze on November 29, 2019, 12:32:55 PM
Quote from: VisionStorm;1115300
I'm not familiar with those, but druids using constructs sounds a bit more gamey fantasy kitchen sink than authentic druidic stuff. I suppose you could still make it work depending on what you have in mind or how things operate in your world (like maybe make it a totem that animates into a construct), but I'm not entirely sure what you're looking for.

They are called Wolds, and you can read about them here (https://ironkingdoms.fandom.com/wiki/Wolds).
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Razor 007 on November 29, 2019, 02:48:02 PM
It would need to be made of metal, stone, crystal, or a rebellious teenager's head.  You know, something really hard; to stand up to the elements over time.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: rawma on November 29, 2019, 03:18:56 PM
Maybe it could be a disease that everyone is infected with; it only reveals the lore in the right circumstances, but spreads benignly otherwise. Doesn't fit the OP's need for something that could be stolen, though. (Or substitute vermin that are persistent; supposedly cockroaches as a species can survive almost anything. Or a recessive gene in all descendants of the druids who created it.)

Actually multiple disparate preservations of the lore each created by a different high druid might be neat, with less durable versions being lost to time and more difficult to unlock ones being, um, too difficult to unlock.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: VisionStorm on November 29, 2019, 03:57:41 PM
Quote from: HappyDaze;1115315
They are called Wolds, and you can read about them here (https://ironkingdoms.fandom.com/wiki/Wolds).


This actually looks pretty awesome visually, but this a very specific setting with steampunk robots and a unique flavor that lends itself for this kind of stuff. I guess it depends on what type of setting you have.

(https://vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/ironkingdoms/images/2/21/WoldConstruction.jpg)
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: HappyDaze on November 29, 2019, 07:35:54 PM
Right now, I'm thinking of going with with writings on papyrus-like sheets of woven reeds pressed between magically applied sheets of a rigid, transparent yellow-orange amber-like material. This will give me several poster-sized plaques that contain the sacred writings of Druidy secrets (which, of course, have been stolen and everyone is trying to get back). This may not be the most practical solution (stone tablets would be so much easier), but it combines magic and a flavor that feels right to me.

Thank you all for your suggestions.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Omega on November 30, 2019, 02:14:01 AM
Quote from: rawma;1115324
Maybe it could be a disease that everyone is infected with; it only reveals the lore in the right circumstances, but spreads benignly otherwise. Doesn't fit the OP's need for something that could be stolen, though. (Or substitute vermin that are persistent; supposedly cockroaches as a species can survive almost anything. Or a recessive gene in all descendants of the druids who created it.)

d20 Gamma World has this everywhere everywhere in the form of nanites and the occasional biotech. And weaponized. Part of the fall of civilization was rampant ideology and agenda wars taken to their logical conclusion. Afterwards there are remnants of various fringe groups that literally infect and overwrite others to force their ideals. More benign versions just upload relevant data to whomever can access it or persuade it to do so if it is not automatic. Same with equipment. Everything from toasters to grenades were fittted with artificial souls as effectively the OS and instruction book for the item. Or as security. Some had layers of souls set up that needed to be persuaded in order to learn the full potential of an object.

In Albedo an assassination attempt at a lab autopsying a Creator(human) found in a derilect destroys the quarantine chamber and nanites in the corpse, now blasted all over the lab, promptly helpfully upload their control routines and commands to Erma and the Net(a single AI running every computer) and go to work healing her injuries.

In Star Wars one of the ancient races opted to devolve themselves to escape an invasion. Eventually an event triggers a genetic code all the natives promptly re-evolve into the original race. Complete with their old knowledge.

Tommyknockers plays with this as well. The material if the alien ship ablates off as a sort of mist/virus that gradually increases and instills in the locals the aliens knowledge, while also gradually transforming them into the aliens.

Lots of others. But those come to mine right off.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: rawma on November 30, 2019, 01:06:31 PM
All of the disease examples are SF; unless these are techno-druids, it probably wouldn't work or would have to be described rather differently (a hereditary curse or even possession by some kind of fey spirit).
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Zalman on November 30, 2019, 01:13:46 PM
Quote from: rawma;1115324
Maybe it could be a disease that everyone is infected with; it only reveals the lore in the right circumstances, but spreads benignly otherwise. Doesn't fit the OP's need for something that could be stolen, though.
Well, it could be intentionally contracted by one of the PCs!
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Zalman on November 30, 2019, 01:29:37 PM
Quote from: HappyDaze;1115238
I like this. Any examples of this in D&D already? Other mediums?


The Perciplex is such a crystal, from Jack Vance in Rhialto the Marvellous:

A window at one end displayed the Perciplex, a blue prism four inches tall, inwardly engraved with the text of the Monstrament. Through the window the Perciplex projected an image of the Monstrament in legible characters upon a vertical dolomite slab, and so charged with magic was the Perciplex that should an earthquake or other shock cause it to topple, it must right itself immeiately, so that it should never present a faulty image, or one which might be misconstrued, to the viewer.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Omega on November 30, 2019, 02:34:17 PM
Quote from: rawma;1115369
All of the disease examples are SF; unless these are techno-druids, it probably wouldn't work or would have to be described rather differently (a hereditary curse or even possession by some kind of fey spirit).


Just replace tech with magic. Magically or alchemically created data germs.
Title: Neither a book, nor a scroll, but maybe...?
Post by: Omega on November 30, 2019, 02:37:21 PM
The current 5e Artificer has a class path that is essentially data storage and mind networking oriented. And it does not necessarily need to be metal for the personal device.