Monday, August 25, 2008

Grognard's Challenge #3: Six of One, Half Dozen of Another

I received a lot of excellent submissions for Challenge #3, but one stood out as a clear winner: Michael Curtis's "Six of One, Half Dozen of Another."

A narrow alcove has been carved into the stone here. Standing in this niche is the life-sized statue of a woman, carved from unblemished white stone. The woman is of indeterminate age and dressed only in a loose-fitting sarong that leaves one leg and her bare feet uncovered. Her hair is coiled in dreadlocks, hanging just past her alabaster shoulders. Her eyes are obscured by a thin blindfold and her mouth and chin are set in a resolute manner. Six shapely arms extend from her sides, palms up-turned and cupped as if waiting to receive something.

The statue is carved from fine marble and stands 8' tall including the base and weighs 500 lbs. It depicts a female aspect of the Luck God, which may or may not be recognizable to a cleric encountering it. The statue is imbued with the nature of the goddess, and while it does not radiate magic, any cleric or paladin who approaches the statue will feel a warmth emanating from it that is likely of divine origin.

The statue can bestow weal or woe upon any object that is placed in one of the statue's six hands. The exact form of this luck is random, determined by the whim of the Luck God. When the statue is encountered, roll a d6. On a roll of 1-3, the right three hands bestow luck on an object placed in them. On a 4-6, it is the left which are lucky. Any weapon placed in a lucky hand temporarily becomes a +1 weapon for 24 hours. Any other object placed in a lucky hand becomes a form of a luckstone, providing a +1/+5% bonus to any saving throw, proficiency or ability check, and thieves' skills for 24 hrs. After such time, the object returns to normal.

On the other hand(s), any object placed in an unlucky hand becomes cursed for 24 hours. Weapons act as if they were -1 cursed weapons (including not being able to be discarded or allowing use of another weapon) and any other object is treated as a loadstone (movement reduced to half, attacks per round reduced by 1).

The enchantment is of a divine nature, but does not radiate magic. Weapons that bear a luck boon are considered magical for attempts to hit or damage creatures only affected by magic. Both boons and banes vanish after 24 hours, but the enchantment can be removed prematurely by either a dispel evil/good as appropriate. A remove curse will also negate the effects. A boon or bane is only applied to one item per week. After that, the statue still radiates divine warmth, but grants no further effects.

I liked this entry for a number of reasons. Firstly, it reminded me of the kind of thing I might read about in the reminiscences of players from the original Greyhawk campaign. There are lots of examples of peculiar statues that do random or semi-random things when one interacts with them, so this is in keeping with that tradition. Secondly, the attributes of the statue, as well as its game effects, have a mildly Gygaxian cadence to them: "weal or woe" just tickled my esthetic sense, but there's a slight voluptuary tone to the description of the female form of the statue that also reminded me of other parts of the Gygaxian corpus. Finally, the game effects were simple, straightforward, and equally subject to random chance and player observation. All in all, it had just enough little touches that set it above its competitors, many of which were very good indeed.

So, congratulations to Michael Curtis. He can contact me via the email address to the right and give me his street address, so I can send him his copy of Greyhawk as soon as possible.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. This is a great start to the week. I feel twice-honored for being chosen. First, simply because it was chosen and secondly, because it seems that the I was successful in tapping into the classic Gygaxian mind-set I was shooting for. I felt that the statue wouldn't be completely out of place in Castle Greyhawk, which was the intent.

    Of course, I'm kicking myself now because I got the title of the piece wrong. I had it originally written up as "the Statue of Fate," but made the title switch just before I submitted it. In my orginal thought, I had the whole statue being randomly good luck or bad when encountered, but decided to go half and half in the end. That was still in my head when I retitled it to "Six of One, Half a Dozen of Another." Technically, it's only "Three of One and, um, Three of Another..."I guess.

    All my own fault. Thank you very much James. I hope others like it too.