Dungeons & Dragons Online

Choose your collective adventure! “Mages, McGuffins, and the Manual of Delayed Health”

Ok, I had intended this to be an isolated joke, but clearly there's way more interest than I thought, so what the Nine Hells – let's run with it.

This morning (last night?) on r/DMAcademy, u/Vaguswarrior posted a blurb about a useless magic item he dropped incidentally in his game that has ended up driving considerable plot movement.

I introduced an item that's effectively useless in the campaign mechanically but fantastic for the plot yet the players don't view it as a mcguffan

So after fighting a buffed up vampire, my players discovered two magic books. Given some time pressure they only got around to looking at them just now. One of the books is essentially a Manual of Bodily Health that has 37 years before it's power returns. Originally this was just too help handwave the beefed up stats that the vampire had. But the party loves this item.

The longer lived races in the party want to keep it, the shorter lived races want to sell it to a faction or gift it to a longer lived creature as tribute. It was totally unexpected that an item whose use of effectively outside the timeline of the campaign is getting so much excitement. I would definitely give this a try to see how your players react. It's easily the best "useless" magic item I've ever given.

This is the framing theme for your story. I'm going to post a blurb with two or more path choices at a time. Whenever I get around to it – probably once or twice per day until either we get to a logical end point or audience participation drops off – I'll write the next segment from the most popular path chosen from the previous one. I'll determine this from the total number of upvotes for comments requesting each path at the time I check; you can keep this easy for me by upvoting the first request for the path you want instead of making new comments duplicate path choices – but always feel free to add commentary! If it's been a few days since my last update and you want more, drop a comment so I'll get a notification reminding me to give this a little attention.

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If the mods ok it, I'll do each iteration as a new post – but I don't want to spam the sub, so otherwise it may just be new comments and I'll link to them in edits on this post.

Here goes:

Miika "Of Course That's Not My Real Name" Spellhammer, wizardess extraordinaire, has crafted an extradimensional storage crate that accelerates time. For every minute that passes outside, 10 days pass inside. She has told her adventuring companions that it's a magic composter: Food scraps go in at night, and in the morning she shovels out phenomenally beautiful compost for her garden. But she has a secret motivation. Unbeknownst to her friends, her true motivation is to ready their most precious magical artifact for immediate use: The Manual of Delayed Health, which bestows a reader with supernatural hardiness and stamina – but only once every 50 years. A human of eight-and-twenty years, Miika hasn't the time to wait for the Manual to grow into its power – by then she'll be an old lady, too far past her prime to realize the its true benefits. And so, while nobody is watching, Miika dumps her Crate of Speedy Composting in the woods and places the Manual within it instead.

  1. Our heroine, envigored by the Manual, begins training for a marathon with unexpected success, and it takes a while for the rest of the party to realize why.
  2. Our heroine, too excited to consider the ramifications of her actions, forgets to account for the decaying effects of ambient microorganisms, and the Manual of Delayed Health has rotted away into nothing.

1 please, it would make me laugh stupidly hard – u/RavTimLord

As always, Ogier Brighthart has awakened two hours before dawn. Ever disciplined and ever faithful, he must complete his daily training in time to commune with his deity at the moment the sun peeks over the horizon. But something is different this morning.

As dawn approaches, Ogier encounters something unexpected. Or, more specifically, someone. It takes him a moment to realize that it's someone he knows quite well; this is the first time in months that he's seen his wizard friend without her scholarly robes, which she seems to have traded for – aren't those the bard's best silk leggings? Astonished, Ogier trips over a protruding root, stumbling a little but managing to recover his balance before planting his face in the packed dirt of the trail.

"Oh!" Miika exclaims cheerfully. "Are you always up this early? Would you like to join me for my last lap? It's only another two miles."

  1. Trusting in his deity despite his friend's strange behavior, Ogier accepts Miika's gracious – albeit surprising – invitation.
  2. Certain a demonic force must have possessed his notoriously indolent friend, Ogier attempts to perform a hasty exorcism.

1

Though lamenting what will clearly be the end of any semblance of strenuous training, Olgier lets both courtesy and curiosity get the better of him. "It would be my honor to escort you, of course, dear friend." He settles into a light jog, careful not to go so fast that Miika won't be able to keep up.

But Miika has no such hesitation. Though small and slight, she proves quicker than expected, and before long Ogier finds himself struggling to keep up. "This is…" – pant – "…most unexpected. Have you been training?"

"Just the past few weeks. I decided it was time for a change. And honestly, I was right – I've never felt better!" She pauses to let Ogier catch up. "Are you feeling alright?"

Choose our collective adventure:

  1. Ogier, astonished and (to his embarrassment) slightly out of breath, asks Miika how she has attained such incredible progress in just a few weeks of training.
  2. Ogier, in a fit of misplaced cleverness, decides that Miika has used a spell to fortify her athleticism. He asks her which one and where she learned it.

Source

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