Magic Items Sealed by Regrets
Tempered Legacy is a magic items supplement for any fantasy roleplaying game. It provides a plethora of items to bring into your game, but it also provides a framework that can be added to any adventure – offering a variety of benefits.
David Schirduan, Dave Cox, et al. have developed Tempered Legacy out of their love for creating new and varied narrative elements that can be unilaterally applied to any system. Tempered Legacy originally started as a web-based engine for generating weapons and “slots”, but this zine gives readers and users far more structure and advice on how to bring Tempered items into their games.
Tempered Legacy is a 64-page zine that includes everything you need to fully use Tempered items in your game. The zine consists of the following contents, which will be covered in more detail shortly – Slots, Making Tempered Items, Trinket Tools, Tempered Armor, A Selection of Tempered Weapons, and A Selection of Tempered Armor.
What is a Tempered item? Simply put, it’s a magical item with a past. Sounds cliché, but it gives character to what would typically be everyday magic items. The premise is simple. Each item has a past. When its owner dies, one of their unfulfilled life regrets locks a new magical aspect into the item (slots). A future owner must then unlock these “slots” by fulfilling the past owners’ regrets.
As you can see, a magic item is no longer merely a dull +1 sword or shield. It now has a history and varied powers that need to be unlocked. Unlocking them can be the impetus for entire stories!
In the authors’ own words, why do you want this?
Loot with potential. An easy replacement for “+1 magic swords” that not only
includes history and flavor but also side-quests and hidden powers.
An alternate route of advancement for players. As players invest in their
Tempered items and fulfill Regrets, they unlock the slots contained within.
Customized development. Any piece of metal can become “Tempered”. Use
the rules in this book to help players make their own magic items.
Rogue-like elements. The life of an adventurer is dangerous; it could end at
any moment. When a player character dies, a piece of themselves is stored in
their Tempered item, ready to be unlocked by a future character.
Passive world-building. A Tempered item encourages players to engage with
the past and think about how people in this world lived. It’s easy to sprinkle
your own world-building into these Tempered items.
Here’s a brief look at what each chapter is about and my thoughts sprinkled in. Following this, I’ll wrap up the review with a tidy summary and my parting thoughts.
Slots – This chapter gives us a short rundown on what a Tempered item’s slots are, the iconography used, and how these slots can be used as the impetus for the story and narrative development. Lastly, there is a list of 20 lock templates for GMs that want to create their own Tempered items.
Every Tempered item (weapons, armor, trinkets, coins, etc.) contains Slots. Slots are identified using icons to differentiate how to interact with each.
Using the quick reference in the zine, this Tempered item tells us Ana’s regret and how to unlock it. The hand with lighting bolt icon indicates it’s a magic spell.
Locks were designed to make the GM’s job a little easier. They provide plot hooks and inspirational ideas for creating adventures, or you can simply replace them to fit your existing scenario.
Making Tempered Items – If you have crafty players, this is the chapter for you. Spanning several pages are the ins and outs of creating Tempered items from either fusing or forging together several single slot Tempered trinkets into new multi-slot items. There is a good deal of thought-provoking ideas on how to incorporate the crafting of Tempered items in a game; how Tempered metal might physically appear, considerations for developing and defining slots, how to collaboratively work out what a trinket should look like. It wraps up with a selection of trinket tools, how a single coin can be used as a trinket, and lastly, some rules and a framework for valuing trinkets for the purposes of trading during gameplay.
Tempered Armor – Armor, like most types of objects, can be Tempered, and this chapter provides basic rules for using Tempered armor in your game regardless of what roleplaying system you’re using. A brief discussion of the components that make up a suit of armor and how many slots each component has is provided and forms the basis for how Tempered armor works. For example, gloves can only have one slot, but a chest piece, breastplate, or equivalent can have up to four (4) slots. Gamemasters are given ample latitude to tailor the number of slots to meet their game’s needs.
It’s an interesting approach to giving character and real definition to the magical armor we’re all accustomed to in fantasy games. Items like gauntlets, belts, chain shirts, helms, etc. are all standard armor items that are typically imbued with magical properties. With Tempered Legacy, these usually boring magical items are given meaningful narrative importance.
A Selection of Tempered Weapons and Armor – The last two chapters provide a varied selection of Tempered weapons and armor for gamemasters to use or adapt to suit their needs. The variety presented is a wild collection. Your specific mileage may vary depending on your needs, your existing game, or if you plan to use the object as an inspiration for a story arc.
Reading through a variety of the regrets (locks) and the contents they unlock, I am struck by the creative ideas that these things give me. I am also struck by the general usefulness of the majority of the unlocked content. As a veteran gamemaster, by replacing boring, unimaginative magic items, I can see how Tempered items will enhance my player’s experience.
In closing, Tempered Legacy is a fun and new way to give life to magic items. The system-neutral approach provides a universal platform from which to work, and adapting this framework to any fantasy roleplaying game should be as easy as one, two, three… For the D&D 5e folks, consider for a moment, those objects you need to attune to. Now you can have a reason for a player to attune to a specific item once a slot is unlocked. If the additional slots are later unlocked, they can attune to those at the appropriate time. Thus, giving the object and the experience of attuning to it more meaning and narrative impact.
On the Technical Grimoire website, there is a Tempered Weapon and Slot generator that are also available, free of charge. The zine reviewed here is meant to give gamemasters a framework by which to more fully utilize Tempered items in their games. Pair the zine and the online generators, and you have a robust combination of tools at your fingertips.
We always talk about adding quality tools to our GM Toolbox, and while one size does not fill all, Tempered Legacy is a must-buy zine for gamemasters of any fantasy roleplaying game.
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