The powers of the ring of justice are unimportant (except that they be almost munchkinlike). My ring of justice (in a D&D setting) had detect magic at will, fly 3/day, mage armor 3/day, disintigrate (2/day, only affects evil creatures), and some more. It's not important—it merely has to be so powerful and useful that the PC's will be loath to part with it.
Enter twist number one: It is intelligent, highly moral, and very powerful (in D&D terms, it has a very high ego). It can only be worn by those who are good, and wont permit itself to be used for evil. It cannot communicate with the bearer directly, only empathically, so they cannot ask about its origins.
Enter twist number two: It is the phylactery of an evil lich-lord (I'm not sure that this translates into other systems, but liches in D&D can't truly be killed unless their phylactery, or the storage-locker of their soul, is destroyed). So obviously the PC's must destroy the ring in order to destroy the lich.
Don't bother telling me it's like LotR, the question in my mind is it too much like LotR?
—Verul may attack the PC's mercilessly, and will always know exactly what they are up to and what they are thinking, seemingly inexplicably (shielding oneself from scrying has no effect).
—The bearer is unwilling to part with the ring simply because it is so powerful (you might have to scale its powers up for a higher level party). This would create an interesting tension within the party itself.
—The PC's know of Verul and are attempting to destroy him, but first they must find his phylactery. How suprised they might be...?
—The ring will not permit itself to be destroyed (granted, very Tolkien-esque), requiring all sorts of mental fortitude and luck to destroy it.
—Obviously, they are now tied to Verul. He is, in a sense, their problem. You now have another villian at your disposal, but one who doesn't have to mercilessly hunt the PC's, but can do so only when their ends diverge.
—The party's paladin can start to lose his powers because his protection of the ring constitutes an evil act. He would have to find out why and then find some way to remedy it.
Verul knows full well what his phylactery is. He gains clairvoyance/clairaudiance (or in none D&D terms, the power to see and hear the wearer) as well as limited powers of telepathy (he knows what the ring knows). He might well choose to hunt the PC's down and destroy them so as to rescue his phylactery, or may choose to leave it in their hands so long as they don't catch on. The applications for this are pretty numerous.
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? Responses (7)
An interesting take on on a few D&D stereotypes.
Before anyone starts, in many game worlds there is no fast and easy way to know who or what is 'good' or 'evil'. Actually, the terms themselves are hard to define easily. (See any of the debates on this topic on this page...)
Given that, it is very logical for a being that wishes to live forever, to bind its life force into something highly desirable, and unlikely to be destroyed. Still, it is unwise to leave such an item to freely wander the world - it could be even accidentaly destroyed. It must have been carefully guarded in some treasure vault, just as well as other items to avoid attention. The treasury was robbed, and the lich is best off trying to get it back. But unless the PCs are very easy to take out, he better not shows too much interest in this item... somebody could guess the truth.
So there come the varied plans of world domination, and other guaranteed PC attractors. :)
(The thing with the paladin seems to me a bit fishy, but is an acceptable plot-hook or clue.)
On the whole, I may not use the item itself, but the basic idea begs to be remembered and adapted. As for LOTR, the One Ring has clearly drawn people to evil; unlike this ring. (Hmmmm... but someone may get suspicious because of the evil-ring cliche, how about changing the item type?)
Oh, and one more note, to the powers: a ring of justice should have 'Detect Lie' or similar power, looks better that way. ;)
Actually an interesting thought. 3
Oh, and yes (risking that we get into a debate about what is cursed and what is not) is it actually cursed? It is a useful item both for the wielder and the true owner... unless the wielder becomes a direct threat to the owner.
I see what it is. I see why it was done (by the litch). It is just not that impressive of an item to stop someone from actually taking it and destroying it to stop the litch.
This seems almost more like a plot than a specific item.
How did the item become good? Perhaps some daring artificer imbued it with holy power in an attempt to redeem it? If it has the power to disintegrate evil, then the lich wouldn't be able to handle its own phylactery! It poses, I think, a more interesting conundrum for the lich than for the PCs.
But then again, if intelligent items are considered forms of life, good PCs would be in a dilly of a pickle.
It has the potential to inspire moral equivocation in the all-too-often black and white world of fantasy roleplay. Good good.
MoonHunter's objection about it being a pretty crappy item is a valid one -- it was initially designed for some low-level D&D characters. Hence my advice to adapt it, make it as powerful as you need it to be, including adding other abilities that you like (such as 'Detect Lies'). (As I stated in one hook: 'The bearer is unwilling to part with the ring simply because it is so powerful (you might have to scale its powers up for a higher level party). This would create an interesting tension within the party itself').
I really like Finger Master's input on the morality of destroying an intelligent, sentient item.