Real-world magic items

edited December 2006 in Story Games

So, the thread on ZoZ got me thinking of a perennial favourite among myself and my friends. I like for "magic items" to have a reason for being, and a story. One interesting and fun thing to ponder (which, for some reason, loans itself to horror) is items that really do exist, and what their powers might be if they acted the way your standard magic items do. Thought it could be a fun reference to compile a little list here. I'll start.

  • A set of car keys. Over a decade ago, a disturbed (to say the least) woman kidnapped another woman, who was pregnant. You can likely already see where this is going, but anyway, the disturbed person performed a cesarian section on the pregnant one, who, unsurprisingly, died. Heavy juju. What do those keys do now? What might they open?
  • A stone baby. Another medical oddity, a woman in her 60s had abdominal pain. Upon checking her out, it turns out that she'd been pregnant long ago, the baby did not make it, and over time, mineralized or calcified or something. Nothing that occultically bizarre is going to just sit there looking funny, you know what I mean? Totally suitable for Dead Inside, don'cha think?

--JB

Comments

  • Yeah dude, I haven't read ZoZ yet, but the above smells heavily of some Unknown Armies juju.

    * The cup that held the coffee which burned the elderly woman who sued McDonald's for millions, back in the late 80s.
    ... +2 when fighting undead? I dunno.

    * A lock of hair from the First Mullet.
  • I live a short distance from the Manassas battlefield. I've driven through it many times and to this day, I swear that there's something DIFFERENT there.

    I have no doubts that traumatic incidents leave a trace.

    What you're talking about are modern relics of the saints.
  • This is an awesome topic. Here are a few of my favorite "historical" magical items. Look up any of them on Wikipedia

    The Voynich Manuscript: an antique manuscript reputing to be in an occult language. It features strange drawings of dozens of plants that never existed (in our reality), and is written in a code that nobody has every broken. It was reputedly written by a Magus who claimed to be imortal and who has shown up (or people have claimed to be him) at least a couple of times in history.

    The Spear of Destiny: the head of the spear that peirced Christ's side. There are a few different items claiming to be the real spear of destiny. By legend, any army that marches with the spear at it's head cannot be defeated. The Nazis thought they had it, but did they have the authentic one?

    Crystal Skulls: These appear from time to time and are reputed to be artifacts of an ancient culture -- Atlantis anyone? Supposedly they are sentient and pyschic and communicate their ancient lore to people of psychic ability.

    Tutankhamen's Crown contains a strange yellow jewel that may have been more prized than gold in ancient Egypt. This stone and similar ones can be found scattered across the Sahara desert. They are fragments of a large meteorite that exploded above the Sahara in the ancient past.
  • Hi!
    Here's one, Sword of Manalete. The sword of this famous matador who was tragically killed by a bull in the ring carries with it wonderous power at a dark cost. This rapier always strikes true, but the bearer feels the pain (is not the injury) of their victim.
    Another, Robert Lyon's Pistol. This pistol will only strike the heart of those who have wronged the firer.
    Finally, Leubho. A talisman purported to once be owned by Rasputin. The bearer can see into the hearts of men...
    Dave M
    Author of Legends of Lanasia (Still in Beta)
  • In Nomine is, perhaps unsurprisingly, chock full of such things. I recall the Strat of "St. Stevie" as one.

    But is this what you were looking for, JB? More examples? Or just comments on your own example? What's your goal here?

    Mike
  • How about a simple schema for creating them from a real-world event, a la town creation in Dogs? Maybe something in UA did this?
  • Unknown Armies, In Nomine, and Urban Arcana rock for this kind of thing. I'd experience enlightenment and serenity if someone could work up something like what misuba describes, though.

    And that Dreaming Cities urban fantasy game SHOULD rock for it, I don't know whether it does or not, has anyone seen it?
  • The red ink in the first issue of the 1977 KISS comic book contained band members' actual blood.

    image
  • Posted By: VaxalonI live a short distance from the Manassas battlefield. I've driven through it many times and to this day, I swear that there's something DIFFERENT there.

    I have no doubts that traumatic incidents leave a trace.
    I have felt weirdness like that, but at Antietam.

    And on the hallway at the National Holocaust Museum that's floored with bricks from the Warsaw Ghetto.

    CU
  • Posted By: AndyYeah dude, I haven't read ZoZ yet, but the above smells heavily of some Unknown Armies juju.
    I'd say this sort of thing is definitely more UA than ZoZ or even DI.

    Hell, I wrote a bunch of this sort of thing for UA.

    CU
  • Posted By: JDCorleyAnd that Dreaming Cities urban fantasy game SHOULD rock for it, I don't know whether it does or not, has anyone seen it?
    Alas: it doesn't (IMAO).

    Underkoffler's Overview: Dreaming Cities
    http://chadu.livejournal.com/259566.html


    CU
  • Posted By: J B BellA stone baby. Another medical oddity, a woman in her 60s had abdominal pain. Upon checking her out, it turns out that she'd been pregnant long ago, the baby did not make it, and over time, mineralized or calcified or something. Nothing that occultically bizarre is going to just sit therelookingfunny, you know what I mean? Totally suitable forDead Inside, don'cha think?
    Hm. In terms of DI. . . I'd consider tying a ghost to the fossilized baby. And the mother would possibly become Dead Inside. Qlippoth would be drawn to it like deer to a salt lick. And the rock itself would be sought by Magi to be pulled into the City for mysterious purposes.

    Instant campaign, with at least 2 to 3 possible PCs.

    CU
  • Oops, bad thread starter! Bad!

    I was just going for a laundry list, particularly items of modern provenance (not just presumably acquirable in modern times). Vax's characterization of them as "modern relics" pretty well nails it. Though I had a copy of UA a few years back, I either didn't get into or forgot this aspect of the game.

    Now, having said that, lists are rather boring in themselves. Chad's suggestion of what to do with a fossilized baby is bloody brilliant. I'm still not sure what to do with the car keys. I guess they kill and give life at the same time, in a way. They would also naturally be drawn to the grown person they cut from the womb (a possible PC).

    Thanks for the gentle guidance, Mike. Does this clarify matters?

    --JB

  • Any given edition of "News of the Weird" will give you two or three tragic and/or triumphant events that could generate items like these. They're not hard to think up.
  • edited December 2006
    According to "Hollow Earth" (2006) by Smithsonian Magazine writer David Standish;

    in Hamilton, Ohio there stands an obelisk at the gravesite of Captain John Cleves Symmes, erected by his son Americus Symmes in 1811.

    The obelisk is surmounted by a stone hollow globe twenty inches across and open at the poles.

    The senior Symmes was a leading proponent of the belief that the Earth was hollow, habitable within, and open at the poles via enormous "Symmes holes".

    In Walden, Henry David Thoreau commented that grand exploratory expeditions "through cold and storm and cannibals, in a government ship, with five hundred men and boys to assist one" were easier than "it is to explore the private sea, Atlantic and Pacific Ocean of one's being alone..."

    Thoreau said it was "not worthwhile to go round the world to count the cats in Zanzibar. Yet do this till you can do better and perhaps find some Symmes' Hole by which to get at the inside" of one's own Self.

    Thus any bodily roadtrip to Symmes' monument may yield metaphysical results for the pilgrim.
  • edited January 2007
    Hitler's pulp race car.

    Magic power: goes 250 mph!
  • edited January 2007
    In the Iowa City municipal graveyard, there is a grave stone known as the Black Angel. It was commissioned in bronze by a husband for his wife. She cheated on him, and in transit on a ship, the Black Angel turned black. All the fingers have been sawed off the angel and are reputed to keep your infidelity a secret as long as you posses them.

    Edit: Other stories: Black Angel
    PDF from IC Gov
  • edited January 2007

    Tony, I was faculty at Yale for a few years, where the Voynich is housed and I used my status to get frequent googly-eyed access to it. One of my prized possessions is a facsimile I had them make me. The original is truly one of the strangest things I've seen. It seems to be the work of a schizophrenic; it's incredibly detailed and a massive and obsessive piece of work.

    New Haven is filled with such oddities; the massive Secret Societies in Yale (The Skull and Bones, Scroll and Key, and the others) and their windowless Orientalist architecture, the vast graveyard with Egyptian columns with the words "THE DEAD SHALL BE RAISED" over the gate. The sacred geometry of the town green. The giant Freemason temple, now decaying, in the middle of town.

    My favorite vanished artifact is the God Machine.

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