Single-Use Charged Items, our experiences

We're doing a number of experiments in our current saga, and one of the things we're trying is "Single Use Charged Items" (Hedge Magic, p102). Essentially, this allows a magus to create a single charge charged item in a matter of hours... a "formulaic spell in a bottle" if you will. This has had some interesting impacts on our saga which I wanted to share.

First, it allows the magi a lot of flexibility provide they have time to prepair. They may not know a formulaic spell to deal with a particular crisis, but given a couple of hours they can toss together a charged item to address the need. Second, and more interestingly, it made our magi a bit less active in the messy parts of adventures. Several times now, an adventure has come up where the magus does some research, a little investigation, tosses together a few necessary charged items and hands them to a companion who goes off to slay the monster while the magus returns to his sanctum.

To my mind, it has made the magi feel a lot like traditional wizards. They act as advisors and crafters of charms, letting the knights and heroes handle the physical stuff. This both springs from and has lead to a more adventure oriented, companion-centered game (we're using Lords of Men heavily) while still allowing a lot of lab work and magical creativity.

really, that's a nice idea

How is it with penetration? Are the items balanced?

I'm sorry, I don't understand your questions.

Items get their penetration by adding to the effect level needed for creating them (+1 level = +2 penetration).
I've always wondered if charged items were too strong, because it seems rather easy to pile up penetration that would be rather hard to achieve otherwise.

Example: Magus Cr 10 Ig 10 Sta/Int 2

Pilum of fire spell Penetration +2 (+4 with extreme gesturing) in a neutral aura (less in a divine aura!)
For an item, magic theory, the covenant aura, lab upgrades, inventive genius, familiar bonus, apprentice bonus etc are added, which is easily another 10, so the same item will have a penetration of about 24 instead of 2.

By the way:
Do you use effect expiry (p. 99)for mass production?

Expiry only works for invested items.

In my experience, it is rather strong - plausibly too strong.

Invested Items Only (as per the errata). :slight_smile:

Yes, I have noticed they can achieve higher penetration totals if they are willing to take the time to add the additional effect levels (the higher the effect level, the longer the single use charged item takes to create). The challenge then, as a storyguide, is to build that into the story.

For example, in one of early adventures, a magus, a companion and a couple grogs faced off against an infernal ghost. The companions and grogs couldn't effect it physically and the magus discovered to is horror that his spells did not effect it either. A tactical withdrawal (with the aid of an invoked Saint) was soon followed by a tense day in which the companion and grogs worked to uncover and thwart the ghosts plans while the magus retreated to the safety of his sanctum to build a Charm of Demons Eternal Oblivion and a couple of protective charms, all with as much penetration as he could shove into them. Their final confrontation with the ghost was much more statifying... especially because the nail biting day in which the companions and grogs had to face the ghost alone, without support, while the magus struggled to create the magic they needed.

Single use charged items do, in my experience, give magi more flexibility and the potential to best tougher foes, given time and preparation. Having that time measures in hours and days, rather then seasons and years, allows the storyguide to create stories with higher dramatic tension. "Hold it off until sundown, while I work on the charm to defeat it" is a much different vibe then "Well, we'll come back in six months and deal with it."

We've tossed around the idea of having the items expire after a Season if not used sooner, but it hasn't come up.

Oh, I see. No, I don't allow them to use effect expiry to multiply their lab total for quick charged items.

On the contrary, as I said, we've discussed simply assuming that all quick charged items have an inherent effect expiry of a Season. That way no one thinks they could spends a season sitting around making 2 quick charged items a day instead of making regular core-rules charged items or invested devices.

The key phrase* is in the core rules - "... allowing him to instill effects more quickly. It does not allow him to instill effects he could not otherwise manage."
What this means is that if he can't create 20 potions without Effect Expiry, then EE doesn't allow him to do so. One-use items are one-season only - "more charges" is not "more quickly".

Similarly, Lesser Enchanted Items are one-season only, and "bigger effects" is not "more quickly" either.

If the mage could not manage to instill the desired end-effect in the 1 season allowed, then "more quickly" doesn't translate to "bigger".

(* I admit that I missed this implication - the errata just makes it explicit.)

It works in your group obviously and it's cool.
I think power gamers could abuse this rule. For example one of the magi goes to a quest. All of the magi make him 2 of such single-use magic items with effects they are the best. The adventuring magus will solve every conflicts with these effects regardless of his own abilities.

If I try this cool idea the item will cost vis. The penetration is another dilemma.

Well, I am blessed by not having a group of power gamers. However, any rule can be abused and your example strikes me more as good planning and cooperation rather then abuse. :slight_smile:

This cooperation would take a lot of fun from the game on the long term.

I find that a very puzzling statement. Why do you think having an adventuring magus, with two single use charged items from each of his covenant-mates, would take a lot of fun from the game?

Indeed, consider when one of the devices, perhaps the most important one created was a botched creation, but the magus doesn't know it was a botch. When it explodes on the adventuring magus, all sorts of exciting story situations could follow...

10 single use spells will solve any problem you will have. Wow. I would be interesting to know what exact spells you are using! :slight_smile: I have failed so far to design such a jack of all trades magus.


I just imagined a young magus some years after apprenticeship. His sodales are experienced and give them say 8 charged items. For example effects with killing a target (x2), mass kill (x2), mind control (x2), invisibility and teleport effects. Hopefully he has some own spells, too. I think most adventures could be solved with these effects.
In the first 1-5 adventures it will be cool. But after the wonder of this new feature is gone the player will recognize his character relies on others abilities and not the powers of his own magus. It will be boring.

But if these items cost only a single vis, the situation is quite different. The magi will consider twice to give such tools in abundant numbers. They will give them only when it needed. This way the feature remains in limited use.
The season expiry was another clever choice. Lucius, this is a very good invention.