Everyone loves to suck the mango seed...

Everyone loves to suck the mango seed…

Mangoes are a fruit from heaven, much loved by all residents of the Steamlands, but the environment is inimical to their growth. Aside from the lush jungle of the far south, the climate of the Steamlands is harsh: cold, snowy winters and harsh, dry late summer and autumn make it difficult for a fruit as fragrant and delicate as the mango to survive. Mangoes in the Steamlands thus only survive around hot springs, where they are protected from the chill of winter and safe from the harshest excesses of summer. But because all hot springs retain a certain magical property of earth magic, mangoes have developed a kind of affinity for magic, and if the seed of a rotten mango is appropriately treated in a hot spring, it can become a cheap and durable vessel for simple magic. In particular, mango seeds that have been boiled in a hot spring can be enchanted with base magics and a trigger word, such that when thrown and activated they cast a low-grade spell in a small area.

To be enchanted, a rotten  mango must be reduced to just its seed through treatment in a hot spring. Hot spring owners don’t allow rotten fruit in their hot springs, so usually this treatment needs to be done in a wild hot spring or at a friendly location. Unfortunately, wild springs have become increasingly rare as hot spring farming has become more common, and although a few exist around Separation City they are near the graveyards, and rumoured to be haunted. This means that preparation of mango seeds can be dangerous and time consuming. However, once prepared, they can be enchanted.

Preparation is not simple, however, and requires someone with knowledge of plants and hot springs. Typically the task can be completed by a wood elf, farmer, NPC specialist, or way watcher. Preparation takes about an hour, and requires a 2D nature lore check. Failure renders the seeds unusable, but success can affect the enchantment process, as described below.

  • 1 success: the seeds can be enchanted
  • 3 successes: +1 expertise die on the enchantment check
  • 2 boons: reduce enchantment cost by 10 sps per seed
  • 2 banes: +1 misfortune die on the enchantment check
  • Chaos star: one seed is cursed so that it only produces bane and chaos effects

The enchantment process itself costs 30 sps per seed. To enchant the seeds, the wizard gathers the ingredients and conducts a ritual that lasts one night. Mango seeds only hold magic from rank 1 spells, and no more than than three mango seeds can be enchanted at any one time. Only spells that produce a lingering effect can be cast on the seeds, and if the enchantment is successful these seeds will become a kind of grenade that, when thrown, afflicts a small number of enemies in an engagement with the lingering effect. Only magic (not blessings) can be used on the mango seeds, and positive enchantments can also be cast (affecting allies rather than enemies). The enchantment check is a 3D spellcraft check, with effects described below.

  • 1 success: 1 seed enchanted
  • 3 success: 3 seeds enchanted
  • 2 boons: seeds gain the two boons effect
  • 2 banes: seeds gain the chaos star effect
  • Sigma: seeds gain the sigmar +1 wound effect

Throwing the seeds is easy: they simply need to land in an engagement, so the task is a 1D ballistic skill check with no effect of enemy defense. Once the seed lands in the engagement, the targeted enemy or enemies need to resist the effects of the spell embedded in the mango. Because the mango seed requires activation with a special word (chosen by the enchanter) only those who know the command word may use them, and there is a risk of failure due to a poorly timed command word (hence the skill check to deliver the seed). Effects of seeds do not stack, so only one seed can be used in an engagement at any one time. This is reflected on the action card through the recharge value of the card.

An example card is shown at the top of this post. This card is assumed to have been enchanted with the Jade Order entangling spell. Other spells will produce different lingering effects. The condition invoked by the seed lasts as long as there are recharge tokens on the card.

It is rumoured that there are ways to treat mango seeds to make them reusable, but this magic is either lost or known only to the elves. It is also rumoured that the flesh of mangoes makes a useful ingredient for potions, but this may also be a secret known only to the elves…

This is a magic item from the Warhammer 1st Edition adventure Fear the Worst, which I converted to 3rd Edition recently, and ran for my group as a side adventure over two sessions. After they killed the mutants in the castle the PCs discovered that the mutant leader, a wizard of Tzeentch (the chaos god of mutation and change) had a magical prism in his possession, which he appeared to be doing some kind of research on. They couldn’t identify it at the time, but after they took it back to Ubersreik and paid a mate, they learnt its powers – or so they thought.

Pedro’s Corrupting Prism

This magical prism is an unprepossessing, ordinary-looking glass prism, but if viewed with magical sight clearly holds a strong, neutral magic aura. Ordinary bright light (e.g. daylight) shone through it will split into the 7 colours of the rainbow just as it would through any normal, properly-used prism; but if a (mostly) pure member of the Bright or Celestial Orders shines a magical light through it, a much more sinister effect obtains. The light will split into bizarre, sickening patterns that give off a disturbing, dark magic aura. This is the only hint that any magic user can obtain that the prism is, in fact, powerfully cursed in the service of Tzeentch. The prism confers a powerful boon on its user, but comes with a secret and ultimately deadly curse.

Enhanced Energy Summoning: When carried, the prism enables a wizard of any order to use the Channel Energy action as a free action without any penalty, once per round. This is an enormously seductive power, since it enables the wizard to draw energy and cast a spell every round, without suffering the usual penalties on the use of the spell that obtain from the usual quick-casting process.

Corruption Curse: Every time a Wizard who is not a servant of Tzeentch uses this prism, have the player roll a dice pool consisting entirely of a number of challenge dice equal to the number of times the prism has been used in that encounter. That is, the first time the player uses the prism in an encounter, he or she rolls one challenge die; the second time, 2 challenge dice; and so on. If any chaos stars appear in the results, the player must immediately make an easy (1 challenge die) Resilience check. If this check fails, the player must immediately draw a single mutation from the mutation card deck.

Optional extra evil: If the GM wishes, he or she may roll the challenge dice secretly, to make it more difficult for the player to identify the cause of the mutations. Because there is a 12.5% chance of a chaos star on a single challenge die, this optional way of resolving the curse is likely to lead to the destruction of the PC, as they will incur multiple mutations before they realize the cause, and is only recommended for GMs who themselves serve the Lord of Change.

This is a description of a magical tome that the PCs discovered in the grave of a wizard near Ubersreik in a recent Rats in the Ranks adventure. It’s designed for Warhammer 3 but it follows a general principle of mine for tomes: you have to read them over time and make a skill check, and the difficulty of the check is adjusted by the research environment, time devoted to the task, etc. Reading a tome is not risk free, so blunders and fumbles can create serious problems for the reader, but depending on the degree of success in the check various skill bonuses and spell benefits are obtained. This usually takes time in-game, and may cost money.

This tome is a simple book, containing 88 pages of very soft leather tanned to a very fine weight. The cover is dark wood edged with a thin, geometric pattern carved from some kind of delicate and unusual ivory. Nothing is written on the spine or the flysheet and there is no table of contents or apparent structure to the text at all. It is a collection of research notes, interspersed with a typical mad wizard’s ravings, some references to additional secondary texts, and some basic experimental results (which need to be repeated by the reader). Fortunately none of the secondary texts or the experiments are evil or chaotic in nature, though they nonetheless are not particularly pleasant. The book radiates a gentle glow of dark magic, but it is mainly the type of magic used for preparing a text to last the ages, and perhaps some residual magic from the laboratory where the notes were taken; the book itself is not intrinsically magical. It is written mostly in High Reikland, with occasional passages in various mystical languages with which most wizards are passingly familiar.

In order to read this book, a PC must possess the Education advanced skill, and be trained in Spellcraft. This is not a book that those with natural talent but no training can hope to make use of. The PC must spend a month reading this book, and although they can adventure while reading (they are assumed to be reading during rest periods, etc.) they are much more likely to gain the full benefit of the book if they devote a month exclusively to the task, and spend that time in a major city where they have access to a decent library (with the associated costs).

Reading this book requires a Spellcraft check with medium difficulty (2 challenge dice), and carries some risk due to the nature of the dark magic in the book (1 misfortune die). The following conditions add bonuses to the roll:

  • PC foregoes adventuring: 2 fortune dice
  • PC is in a large city (larger than Ubersreik) for the entire month of reading: + 1 fortune die
  • PC spends one gold coin on research and experiments: +1 fortune die

The skill check produces the following results:

  • 1 Success: The PC learns one dark magic spell of rank 1
  • 3 Successes: In addition to the above, the PC gains 1 level of training in Channel Power
  • 2 Boons: PC gains a single fortune dice on skill checks for a single existing spell of their choice
  • 2 Banes: The PC suffers a single insanity with no resilience check
  • Chaos star: The PC loses one point of willpower

All effects are permanent. The bane and chaos star affects apply even if the check is successful. If the PC commences reading and abandons the task within the month (due to interruptions to the reading process or loss of the book) the check must still be made and the negative effects can still be suffered, but there is no opportunity to gain the positive effects. Note that the dark magic spell can be learnt regardless of the PC’s order, but its use may need to be very carefully guarded, as possession of this power is heretical. Note also that the PC cannot choose not to learn the spell after they complete the reading; they can only choose not to use it. Knowledge of the spell itself will not taint the PC’s aura, but use of dark magic will, which may make the PC’s life somewhat more complex.