Tuesday 6 July 2010

Standard Magical Items

In the real world, flags and standards are powerful items. A simple arrangement of symbols can evoke strong emotions; flags and standards can conjure pride, rally faltering courage, even generate fear. Some are sacred, and emotions generated when these flags are defiled points to the real power of these objects. And this is in a world where the only magic at work is the reification of abstract symbols by human cultures.

So why, in other worlds in which there are such things as magical symbols, in which heraldic banners flutter from every petty stronghold and trail from the lance of every knight errant, is there a paucity of magical flags?

In Warhammer Fantasy Battle (WFB), the power of flags is a standard (pun intended). Most units receive bonuses (magical and mundane) from the banners that they carry into the fight. But in Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), magical flags, banners, and standards are curiously rare. On US Independence Day, Dungeons and Digressions posted a list of some interesting magical flags that could be used in any fantasy role-playing game. I like the 'Flag of Allegiance' -

Those who behold this flag within sixty feet must make a saving throw or else are charmed by the flag bearer and will surround and follow him, protecting him and the flag with their lives if necessary. The spell is only broken if the flag should touch the ground or if the bearer can be interpreted in any way as disrespecting it.

- not because it is unusual, or strange, but because it is essentially the real world power of a flag made magical and amplified.

"Stop looking at my chest, Top Hat, and defend the symbol of La Révolution!"

I am thinking of the use of magical flags to defend cities, to protect ships, to hearten Orc raiding bands... and the sort of role-playing encounters these items could enable.

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