It’s time for me to amble into my garage and offer up a handful of the cursed, dusty, and cursed dusty items that I find there. It’s a bit of a post-Christmas tradition here at the stew. I have to make room for all the coal Santa keeps bringing me for some reason…
As is tradition, I’m offering up more than one version of each of these items: a mundane one, and additional details of a more fantastic nature—suitable for use in your supernatural horror, fantasy, or sci-fi campaigns.
Vintage gaming set: A wooden box with several sets of cards, some boards, a handful of dice, and a gaggle of old wooden pieces. These sets were popular in past decades and come with everything you need for a suite of games of all types.
- Mundane: The pieces of the set are carved with odd runes and scrawled with notes. Included are several sheaves of yellowed papers with additional notes. It seems the set was used as custom divination tools some time in the past. The current owner has no knowledge of this. It’s just junk from a cluttered closet. Careful inspection reveals notes that seem to refer to a series of notorious unsolved crimes from many years ago.
- Fantastic: Left out, the pieces of the set rearrange themselves—slowly adding new cryptic clues. Once the mystery is solved, the set returns itself to it’s box. In the future, the box may become active again. If so, what is the pattern that predicts why it activates?
An envelope of strange seeds and rubbings: An old style envelope holding a set of charcoal rubbings of an unknown plant with margin notes detailing colors and growing conditions, a fragment of dried leaf, and a few dozen seeds of strange color and shape.
- Mundane: Experts can’t identify the rubbings, seeds, or the fragment. This might be a major find. The margin notes give clues to the identity of the former owner (the person who sold it to you might know something too), and records of their travels cross referenced with the conditions needed for the plant should give a clue where more specimens can be found.
- Fantastic: One of the experts who can’t identify the plant does have a greenhouse with the right conditions to grow one. While details are being hunted down, a seed sprouts and grows a fist sized gourd that crawls around and seems to have a rudimentary intelligence. It may be dangerous (and quick spreading) or it may need assistance to get back home.
A broad bladed cutlass: A heavy cleaver-like sword with a full brass hilt and relief covered basket, and a wickedly sharp blade with many nicks and dings.
- Mundane: An ingenious puzzle lock is worked into the pommel of the blade, including a once-deadly poison needle trap whose toxin has mostly decomposed. Inside the hollow hilt is a small map most likely leading to pirate gold! At the marked location is a small oubliette with deadfalls and traps.
- Fantastic: upon solving the puzzle lock and finding the map, the sword also begins to speak in riddles and rhymes. Many of the oubliette puzzles rely on clues the sword provides, and the final chamber is unlocked using it as a key. In addition to pirate gold, opening the final chamber enchants the sword. It may know of other locations like this one and provides the knowledge when it feels it’s wielder is ready.