Duane Sibilly

Written by Duane Sibilly, software developer, podcaster, tabletop GM and writer. Learn more.

Magic Item Stunts in Fantasy AGE

31 March 2019

Magic items in Green Ronin’s Fantasy AGE are kind of… lackluster. There are a little over two dozen items in the Basic Rulebook, and smattering more from the Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana sourcebook. The Fantasy AGE Companion describes the game’s artifacts, powerful items that can grow in capability as a character wields them over a long period, similar to D&D 5e’s attunement. As my son and I set to creating compelling, thematically appropriate magical items for our homebrew campaign setting, we ended up looking for something in-between the static benefits of the game’s stock magical inventory and the game-changing (or game-breaking) powers of artifacts.

An idea we’ve been nursing for some time is the concept of item stunts.

Some background: In the AGE System RPGs, all actions that might fail are subject to rolling dice to determine success or failure. AGE uses 3 six-sided die plus a modifier. One of the three dice is designated the Stunt Die. On a successful roll where any two of the three dice have the same result, the value of the Stunt Die produces an equivalent number of Stunt Points. These points are spent by selecting from a list of stunts: additional effects that can enhance the outcome of the action to the character’s advantage or perhaps an opponent’s disadvantage. There are combat stunts performed as part of a successful attack, such as knocking an opponent prone or dealing extra damage as part of a particularly vicious strike. There are exploration, role-playing, and spell-casting stunts as well.

One of the things that draws me to the AGE System is the player-driven dynamism that stunts bring to the table. Instead of a static chance to land a critical hit, which only ever deals bonus damage in some systems, AGE rolls have a high chance of rolling doubles (~44% probability on 3d6) and if the roll is successful the players choose what effects are brought into play. In my experience this has made the games I’ve run a lot more engaging for players and makes combat wild and memorable.

Huh. Wild and memorable. Engaging. These are words we like to hear about our magic items, too.

The core concept is this: above the stock magic items and homebrew creations of similar power and rarity, some magical items offer their own new, unique stunt options to their owners. Imagine an analogue to the storied vorpal sword that, for six stunt points, would deliver a decapitating strike. A player would have about a 7% chance to both roll doubles and get a six on the Stunt Die. On top of all that they’d need to land the hit against their target’s Defense score… but if they did all that, this amazing option is there waiting for them!

I’m keen on this concept because in keeping with what seems to be a core tenet of Fantasy AGE design: player choice. Item stunts put greater portions of power into play, but are highly conditional (gotta succeed and generate stunt points!) and up to the player (“Do I want to use my item stunt, or is there a better option I can spent these points on?“)

Here’s an example item that I drew up for a game my son is running:

Horn of Ka: Anyone blowing this gilded ram’s horn may make a Ranged Attack as a major action, using their Willpower (e.g. 3d6 + Willpower) against all targets within a line 8 yards long and 4 yards wide. Any targets hit by the attack are stunned until the end of their next turn. Stunned characters can only take a single Move action on their turn. Stunned targets can be subject to Pinpoint Attacks from Rogues regardless of Dexterity.

Item Stunt: Voice of the Maker (3 SP): Any targets stunned by the Horn of Ka also take 2d6 penetrating damage. This stunt can only be used by the wielder of the Horn of Ka, and only if they generated the required stunt points as part of its Ranged Attack roll.

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