Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Art Effects in D&D

Here's a list of 50 potential effects for bard-created artworks.  I'd like more (a lot more), but I figured I'd at least post these 50.

I'd recommend capping the number of modifiers allowed for a given work of art based upon its quality - Apprentice could have 1, Grandmaster 5.  I would also recommend assigning modifiers randomly, or perhaps allowing for the artist to choose every other one (so a Journeyman artist could pick one of their two effects, and so on).

The list.

Number Effect
1 Increases happiness in 1 mi radius when accessible
2 Fires burn hotter in the vicinity
3 Plants flourish, harvest is especially fruitful (yield increased by 25%)
4 Morale bolstered in its presence: +1 to morale rolls
5 Revitalizes: when resting in its view, 1 extra hp/HD recovered
6 Abstract expression fuels magic: spells have an extended duration
7 Abstract expression fuels magic: spells' random effects are maximized
8 Sheltering: nonviolent individuals near the work of art are under the effect of a Sanctuary spell
9 Blessed: art turns undead, demons, devils, etc. as cleric of bard's level
10 Contemplative: after observing object, earn 10% more xp
11 Increases Int by 1 pt for short time
12 Increases Wis by 1 for short time
13 Increases Cha by 1 for short time
14 Shortens magical research time
15 Nullifies magic in the area
16 Pacifies those who see it
17 Enrages those who see it
18 Drives people mad
19 Inspires great lust
20 Conveys luck - +2 to a die roll when it would make a difference
21 Training times shortened
22 Symbol of authority: when near object, commands are more likely to be followed
23 Shortens construction time
24 Increases the quality of metal goods produced nearby
25 Increases the quality of wooden goods produced nearby
26 Increases the quality of stone goods produced nearby
27 Mineral veins more fruitful - mine 25% more resources than usual
28 People get intoxicated more easily near the artwork
29 Lies cannot be spoken near the object
30 The object acts as a universal translator for written languages
31 The object acts as a universal translator for verbal communication
32 The object emits a faint light
33 The weather is always sunny
34 It is always overcast
35 Animals attracted to the object
36 Object provides access to small, extradimensional space
37 Convey fire resistance
38 Convey cold resistance
39 Convey electrical resistance
40 Convey magical resistance
41 Artwork emits persistent, low-grade darkness
42 Artwork glows, emitting bright (white) light as a lantern
43 Holy: attempts to communicate with the Divines are more likely to succeed
44 Sacrosanct: Area within 50' of artwork is sacred ground (as a temple)
45 Unhallow: Area within 50' of artwork is unholy ground, providing benefits to undead creatures
46 Suggestive: A Suggestion spell is placed upon all who see the work of art, with the specifics to
be determined by the creator.
47 The artwork prevents violence within 25'
48 Criminals are enraptured by the artwork
49 People are compelled to toss a few coins towards the piece of artwork; those who take the
treasure are cursed
50 All attacks deal slightly more damage after witnessing the object

I'd appreciate suggestions - I'd like a 200+ item list, at the end of the day.


  1. There are things I really like about the ideas here. They're mostly subtle and therefore campaign friendly.

    Unfortunately - and this is a problem I find often with such lists - they suffer from imprecision. I would need to know what "enraptured by the artwork" meant, or exactly how long intelligence and wisdom was improved, how much magical resistance was given, what is "low-grade" darkness and so on. Why are only criminals enraptured by the work? Criminals of what degree? Is a murderer exactly as impressed as an embezzler? But of course these are quibbles - precise details can be added later.

    My second hope would be a direct correlation between effects and the form of artwork produced. Would a really well-made dress have the same value as a madrigal? How would something fleeting like a poem compare with a marble statue? Seems to me that certain forms of art would produce certain effects - and that a player choosing to be a bard would need to choose which artwork to specialize in, giving up all those potential effects that came from other forms of art.

    Finally, there needs to be a measure for degree. What are the effects of a first level bard's work versus a tenth level bard? What are the effects of working on a piece of art for 10 hours versus 100 hours? It is possible to work for 1000 hours on a opera - but 1000 hours would not improve a serenade. These are difficult questions to answer but are bound to be posed by players in game.

    So it isn't as simple as this. But damn, this is a good foot in the door.

  2. The vagueness was intentional - as you said, details can come later, to suit the needs of the campaign and designs of the artist.

    Your second two points are absolutely spot-on, and an excellent way to expand the list.

    I'll need to spend some more time considering the potential effects of different mediums - some are obvious - a live performance medium will more actively engage the senses and emotions of all who listen/watch,while a static work of art (sculpture, painting, etc.) are more suited to the contemplative benefits (the decreases to research time, improving item quality, etc.). Fashion, though, is a tricky one.

    With regard to degree, I had two thoughts: first, as mentioned in the first post on bardic artwork, as one's level increases, the bard is able to spend longer to create more powerful artwork. The original idea was to allow for multiple effects within a single piece, but I could also see (now that you mention it) choosing the same effect multiple times to augment it.

    Thanks for the critiques - time for round two.

  3. I've expanded on the idea, incorporating your three points for an Architecture magical effect table:
    Let me know what you think.