30 Redcap Magic Items for November

Memo from the Quartermaster of House Mercere

I’ve also decided to try my hand at NaGaDeMon (http://nagademon.com), but since I’m starting a bit late I’m not going to follow “the rules” as such, I’m just going to try and post as many ideas about Redcap Magic Items as possible here and on my blog My Life as a Grog within the month and see what I can build up as a resource. Thirty may be a bit ambitious, but if I can manage a couple per week I think I'll still have made a worthwhile effort.

Some of the material will be new, some will be drawn from previously worked up ideas or material cut from various supplements and articles I’ve worked on. The material will be a mixture of design notes, fully worked up items and perhaps some musings on the role, economy and traditions of Redcap equipment.



That's a great idea.
Players creating Redcap characters often have difficulties finding the Devices they get for free. And Especially new players may have difficulties finding out what is useful and can't grasp the design process. A list to pick from, or be inspired from, is a fine idea.

My current saga features a newly established Mercer house with two Gifted Mercere. Inspiration is highly appreciated.

#1 Of Walking Sticks and Makilas

If there’s one thing a medieval traveler needs, it’s a good walking stick and Redcaps are no exception. Ever since I saw the picture in ArM3 Houses of Hermes, page 79 of Enomil, the Gifted Mercere sworn to follow in the steps of Mercere by delivering messages for seven years without casting magic, I’ve always considered Redcaps employ walking sticks.

The first instalment of this series of pages describes the potential and characteristics of such mundane and magical tools. I’ve included details for local variants such as the alpenstock (Greater Alps), the Way of Santiago pilgrim’s bordon (Provencal, Iberia) and the Basque makila (Iberia) in the article.

#2 Concerning Pins and Related Items

In order to prevent raising unwanted suspicion, many Redcap items take the form of traditional charms and amulets used by common folk – although the Church may disapprove of this practice, the use of forms familiar as folk magic eases the doubts of the local peasants and merchants that Redcaps interact with during their travels. Discretion is considered a relatively cheap but valuable design principle throughout House Mercere’s artificers and alchemists.

Like the folk charms they resemble, many enchanted items used by Redcaps are small in size, typically Tiny (size multiplier x1), to aid in concealment. This generally limits the instilled enchantments to relatively low level effects (50 spell levels if made of a base metal) as noted in the various descriptions below. Although many of the forms can incorporate more precious or exotic materials, this in turn makes them more appealing to theft by mundanes (or other Redcaps).

See here for details of these items.

Excellent! I've spent much of the day researching for the next few days of my hero Metrodorus' travels in Hibernia, but a) I'm delighted someone else has joined in this year and b) these look great! I'll have a proper look tomorrow when I am not exhausted :slight_smile:

cj x

I'm really looking forward to seeing where this goes.

#3 If The Shoe Fits

Magical footwear has been around as a concept for a long time - in my mind, ever since I read about Dorothy wishing she was back in Kansas but I have since learnt the motif is much, much older than that. I have fond memories of boots of elvenkind, boots of striding and springing and Shoes of Fharlanghn from when I was younger and rolled more dice than I care to remember.

ArM5 versions of the first two examples have no doubt made their way into several Sagas already, but I think the third example may be the most inspiring for Redcap footwear. The Shoes of Fharlanghn (at least according to Wikipedia):

Nearly all of these effects could be readily replicated by Hermetic magic, except the enchantment preventing Fatigue breaks the Limit of Energy and would therefore require a Breakthrough, Faerie boon or the use of hedge magic (perhaps a variant of the Folk Witch's Healing Ability, see HMRE page 38).

Perhaps the metallic shoes pictured here are a bit ostentatious and anachronistic for the average Redcap, but they certainly look magical enough. Here therefore are several ideas for magical footwear that Redcaps may find attractive.

(Thanks kindly to Timothy Ferguson for the inspiration of Marco's "Unlose-able" shoes, which despite his initial reservations, I may well nag him to write up as a fully statted Faerie creature sometime).

#4 The Magic that is Good Dentistry

My father is a dentist and I had terrible teeth when I was younger (extractions, plates, braces, root canal etc etc), so believe me when I say I know the value of good dentistry!

It's something I never thought I'd find useful in terms of RPG inspiration - until now. The more I think about, the more potential enchanted dental prostheses have. Odd but intriguing.

ArM4 Sanctuary of Ice (The Greater Alps Tribunal), page 20 introduced the concept of lickstones, small concealable objects that can be readily concealed within the mouth of a Redcap:



The image to the right of my blogpost is from a website of odd antiques and although anachronistic (the golden dental plate is apparently circa 1850), I think it gives a good impression of a full palate shaped lickstone might look like.

See here for details of lickstones and other enhanced dental options for Redcaps.

#5 Not Just any Old Tarnkappe

Magic cloaks are a very common trope in many fantasy settings and have been made popular recently by several book series and their movie adaptions such as the famous Harry Potter franchise. Cloaks of invisibility such as Harry's were standard fare for thieves, rogues and other stealthy types since the earliest days of role-playing.

Perhaps the earliest recognised appearance in recent fantasy literature is Frodo's elven cloak that inspired the classic cloak of elvenkind mentioned above, but this is almost certainly based in part on the original Tarnkappe (German: "magic cloak", although often misrepresented as a helmet or Tarnhelm as in Wagner's Ring Cycle) that is stolen by the hero Siegfired from Alberich the dwarf in the Nibelung Saga.

Although undoubtedly useful, an Invisibility Cloak is perhaps not as well suited as a Redcap magic item, even thought the basic spell used, Veil of Invisibility (ArM5, page 146) is only a PeIm Level 20 spell. Invisible characters still cast shadows, make noise, and leave footprints - but more importantly invisibility is relatively unsubtle and marks the wearer as plainly a user of magic as opposed to more subtle effects that can assist a traveling Redcap which are less likely to draw the suspicion of mundanes.

Examples and ideas for this type of magical clothing can be found here.

Minor quibble:

I'd have thought that the extension of concepts went the other direction?
That cloaks tochange your shape was the original idea and then it was extended to offer image manipulation?

Certainly the norse stories speak of the gods and their enemies turning into animals by wearing the skin of that animal, typically understood as a cloak representing that animal

#6 Birds of a Feather

I've been interested in falconry for a while now, although given it's really more of a lifestyle or art than a mere hobby and it's virtually impossible practice while technically legal in Australia, my chances of flying any form of raptor unfortunately approaches very close to zero...

This interest helped me write the short Arab Falconry Insert for The Cradle and the Crescent (extrapolating somewhat from the ideas presented in Lords of Men), something I wish I could have expanded on if we'd had words, but regardless of any regrets, the research for that short section was a whole lot of fun and I collected a surplus of ideas and reference material that I knew I'd end up using at some stage.

As further background, the concept of the Milvi Antiquiti, the group of Redcaps that transform into raptors to deliver their messages, has always been a fascinating one to me. The concept however creates an essential problem for the standard Redcap build - what do the Redcaps that can shapeshift into kites using non-Hermetic magic (the Skinchanger Virtue or similar inherent magical powers from Blood of Heroes or hedge magic effects) use for magic items? Just using the available spell levels of enchantment for transformation magic seems inflexible, even at the price of assigning a Minor Virtue to account for the shapeshifting role.

Sure, there are some ideas in the ArM5 corebook that were later expanded on in the Bjornaer section of Houses of Hermes: Mystery Cults for dealing with magic items that shift with their wearer or are usable in animal form, but the focus was not really on items useful to Redcaps IMO. I'd therefore started started doodling around with developing the Lady of Doves, a Mythic Companion Redcap concept themed around doves based on some hedge magic ideas of Timothy's from an upcoming supplement, and the various magical avian accessories grew organically out of that.

The 30 Redcap Magic Items NaGaDeMon attempt gave me a reason to develop these further, although I hadn't quite worked out what I was trying to achieve with the concepts - I realise now that more than just providing a "shopping list" for Redcap characters I wanted to push the boundaries of the idea of Redcap equipment beyond the standard magic cloak / magic food preparation device / magic travel device combination that seems to have become a default.

I think these avian items go some way towards achieving this, but I haven't stopped there and have some wilder ideas still to come...