Tuesday, March 23, 2010

RPG Ability/Item: Swap-Doll

The Thief crept silently along the dusty corridor. The sounds of pursuit had died away; the mummies must have lost his trail. He got to an otherwise unremarkable part of the corridor that, thanks to his direction sense, he knew was just next to the huge chamber he had glimpsed earlier. He got down on his hands and knees and went carefully along the wall until he found what he was looking for: a crack in the wall just large enough for him to fit his arm through.

He rummaged about in his pack and produced a small, ragged doll. It was poorly patched together to the point that it seemed to consist entirely of patches and string. Its form was barely humanoid. The Thief shoved the thing deep into the wall until he felt it go through the other side.

A moment later he was on the other side of the wall, and the doll was where he had been. The Thief rubbed his hands together gleefully, looking over the treasures in the room. This was going to be a good day.

Image by Ron Spencer

Swap-doll is a doll that allows the owner to swap places with it at any time. I know that it is really an item, not an ability, but I think it's cool so I'm going to share it with you all anyway.

This ability allows you to instantly swap places with a small doll. The doll appears where you were, and you appear where the doll was. There is no limit to the amount of space between you when you swap, though there may be some other consequences.

The doll itself can be as nice or as ragged as necessary. So long as it is still mostly in one piece and vaguely human-shaped, it can be mangled, chewed, burned, and smashed and still be ready for swapping when you need it. The doll itself has low AC and not many hit points, but any character with the manual dexterity and intelligence required to operate a needle and thread should be able to get it back in working order, provided he or she finds most of the pieces and enough stuffing and patches.

To become the owner of a swap-doll, the owner must place a small piece of his or her body into the doll. This doesn't have to be anything ghastly, and can be hair, fingernail clippings, etc. It is possible to make someone an unwilling (and unknowing) owner of a swap-doll by swiping some of that person's hair and stuffing it into the swap-doll, but somehow getting that person to trigger the swap-doll's ability would be more difficult. Trying to include more than one person's hair/nails/etc in a swap-doll causes its ability to fail when those people try to swap with it*.

The owner of a swap doll can swap places at any time with the swap doll simply by thinking about it. The change is instantaneous, though it can be disorienting and the character who just swapped should take appropriate penalties. If the character could see exactly where the doll was before swapping, the penalty should be minor, but swapping to find oneself in a very unexpected location may impose a penalty of missing your next few turns as you try to figure out where you are (and maybe which way is up!). The owner can only swap places with the swap-doll every five minutes, or roughly once per encounter.

If the owner loses track of the doll, the doll does not give much indication about where it is. The owner should therefore be careful about attempting to swap places with the doll when he or she does not know its location. If the doll is currently in a space where there is not enough room for the owner, the results of trying to swap places with it may be... squishy. Worse yet, the doll may have been found by a hulking ogre, who is currently snuggled up with it in bed, sleeping pleasant ogre dreams that it would not like to be woken from!

It the swap-doll is ever destroyed, or if the owner's hair, fingernail clippings, etc are removed from the doll, the owner might not know about it until trying to swap places with it. Nothing will happen in this case, which may not seem like much of a problem, unless the unfortunate owner was counting on the swap-doll to escape from a difficult situation.

Swap-dolls can be purchased from your run-of-the-mill mysterious magic shop that was never there before and will not be there the next time you try to find it. They may also be found in the possession of tricky rogues or paranoid wizards, in which case the player characters can either swap out the previous owner's hair/nails/etc for one of theirs, or they may sneak off with the doll without the owner realizing it and then plan an ambush for the next time the owner tries to swap places with it.

*Tricky DMs may want to tweak this ability to allow for more than one owner. Perhaps one of the PCs thinks he or she is the only owner, but the swap-doll is actually being used by an NPC simultaneously. At first, neither one knows of the other, and they only know that sometimes the swap-doll wasn't where it should have been when they swap for it. This probably works best when both of the owners and the swap-doll itself are in completely different locations, and the player character never knows which of the two other possible locations he or she will appear...

1 comment:

Kawaika said...

I like all of your ideas so far.