The Ways of Magic

The Eight Reagents

The following is an excerpt from The Book of Mystic Wisdom, by Philpop the Weary, mage to the court of Lord British.

"Know ye, O seeker of the mystic wisdoms, that the ways of magic are diverse and strange. There exists the need for utmost concentration and the harvesting of things magical in order that ye may harness the powers of the universe. Many are the aeons of wisdom contained in these pages which I write for the benefit of my pupils, yet still there is much to learn. All magic is accomplished by the use of means both human and of nature, for true magic is but the melding of human will and natural force. Without the human voice to utter the chant, no spell may be cast. Yet without the proper natural catalyst, no spell may be effective. Thus magic is twofold, a balance struck between nature and humanity. Let us examine both aspects here, beginning with those natural substances, known as Reagents, that lend power to the words of the spellcaster.

Sulphurous Ash

"Sulphur is the substance found in nature that is most useful in the generation of fire. It is the color of saffron and, when burned, gives off an odour indicative of its great mystic strength. Yet its true power is to be found in the second burning that is, in the use of the ashen residue of sulphur that has been burned in a crucible fashioned from the skull of a Balron. Sulphurous Ash is not an uncommon substance, having been a staple of the Wizard's profession through the ages. It may be purchased from any purveyor of magical goods and is useful in the casting of Energy Fields and Magic Missiles, as well as in spells requiring a quick burst of light or a sustained glow.


"Long praised for its strength-giving and medicinal properties, the root of the Ginseng plant is immediately recognizable for its forked shape, and to those initiated in the mystic ways, by its overpowering rose-coloured aura. It has been used for centuries by peasants who chew it or brew tea from a powdered preparation of the root in order to gain strength and stamina as they toil in the fields. While commonly found throughout Britannia, the Ginseng used as a component in the casting of spells is generally black in colour and found only on the slopes of the northern mountains. It may be purchased in virtually any shop that sells magical goods, and is most useful in spells of a healing or narcotic nature, such as Cure or Sleep enchantments.


"Even the most common of nature's gifts to our people have magical properties as can be witnessed by the power of Garlic. This pungent bulb is found in every garden in the lands of Britannia, and no stew or roast would be complete without its sharp flavor. Its aromatic nature makes Garlic a powerful reagent in the casting of magical spells, and it is used in all spells of the warding variety be they the warding off of common and magical sickness or the repelling of beings once dead.

Spider Silk

"The miracle of Spider Silk lies in its tensile strength. Imagine, if you will, a grown man relying on a strand of catgut to hold his weight all the days of his life. A spider relies on the finest of threads to do just that, and its silk never fails it. We should praise the first wizardling mystic who discovered the secret of Spider Silk, for it is to him or her that we owe the knowledge of binding and restraining spells. The silk of the deadly Albino Ghoul spider both the miniature and giant varieties has been used by adepts through the years in rites of magic. The spider farms of the south produce perhaps a hundred pounds of the substance each year and sell it to the merchants of magic, where it is made available to all who ply our trade. It is said that each year one worker dies the horrible death incurred by the bite of the Albino Ghoul spider to ensure the potency of the silk, although never has this deliberately been made to happen.

Blood Moss

"Blood Moss is the bane of farmers and the boon of magicians. It is a deep red fungus that attacks the crops of those who raise grain, yet it is a vital component in the casting of spells. An oddity to those who spend their lives observing the growth of that which is not animal in nature for it behaves like no other plant or mushroom Blood Moss grows only in the driest of times, when all around it is perishing from drought. It cannot survive the absence of direct sunlight, and thus passes from the earth each night, only to return when the sun blazes mercilessly upon the land. Blood Moss seems to feed only in ripening grain. It can lay waste to an acre of corn in a single day and vanish without a trace as night falls, leaving naught but fruitless stalks swaying in the cool night breeze. The magic of Blood Moss is thought to reside in its fleeting nature, for it is used in the spells of movement from the simplest levitation to making the very earth tremble. As harvest time comes each year, the merchants send runners to wait by the fields and gather the Blood Moss. Farmers consider these runners unlucky and try to chase them from their fields, but enough show persistence to ensure their masters a plentiful supply of Blood Moss to sell.

Black Pearl

"The Black Pearl is the most highly prized of all the pearls: well-formed ones command a price from jewelers that would bankrupt a score of wizards. Yet Black Pearls are vital in the casting of spells that are hurled from the mage's person and must travel to a final destination. Fortunately for our profession, even rarer than a normal Black Pearl is one that is perfectly shaped. Most are lopsided and lack symmetry the very quality that makes the jeweler desire them so highly. This ensures a ready supply for the thaumaturge the weaver of magic. It is said that, unlike the ordinary pearl which is formed inside an oyster when it seeks to protect itself from a piece of sand or grit, the Black Pearl only forms when the seed of the great pearl is yet another pearl of much smaller size cast adrift by the death of another oyster.


"Not to be confused with the rank-smelling plant of the same name, the Nightshade used in the mystic arts is an extremely rare mushroom that is only found in the deepest, most remote forests. It is said to be quite venemous to the touch of all save those present at its harvest, thus it is never sold in shops and is among the scarcest of magical reagents. To obtain it, one must seek in the deepest forest on the blackest of nights when not even a moonbeam illuminates a single blade of grass. I know not of the precise locations where this mystic fungus can be found, but there are rumored to be those in the lands of Britannia that know this secret. Its chief magical properties are connected with the use of poison and the creation of illusions so real that they can lay the mightiest warrior to the ground. So rare is the Nightshade that it's primarily used in the creation of only the most potent of magics.

Mandrake Root

"The root of the poisonous Mandrake plant is instantly recognizable by its human shape and its crimson colour. It is said that the sap runs blood-red when the plant is cut down in order to harvest the root. Long prized for its narcotic and purging effects when consumed in minute portions, the Mandrake Root is the most powerful substance in the weaving of magical spells that give new shape to the very world around us. The variety of Mandrake Root used in the mystic arts is found only in marshy terrain, where the root can thrust deeply into the earth. The more earth that must be moved to retrieve the Mandrake Root, the more potent its effect in the magic of the finder.

"Many years ago, when our people where but scattered tribes of nomads, the Mandrake was plentiful. As our people have tamed the land, however, the Mandrake has all but vanished from the face of the land we now call Britannia. It is never seen in the shops of the towns and castles, and hardly even sold privately if found. Many of our profession have devoted lifetimes to the search for Mandrake Root without ever coming into possession of a single piece of it.

"These are the eight mystic reagents used in the weaving of enchantments. Some are readily available, while others are costly or must be hunted and harvested by the mage that intends to use them. Guard well your supply of these magical components, for without them there can be no magic. Use them wisely, as ye must use the forces that they unleash. Remember that Magic is to be used only for the cause of righteousness and for the greater good. Should you use the mystic arts for personal gain or vengeance, be prepared for the desertion of your powers."

Magic Items

The mystical artifacts of Britannia come in many shapes and sizes. Below are listed some of the more widely-known items. Some of these items are available for sale from the right sources, but the secrets to creating the others are lost in the mists of time.

Weapons and Armour

Blackrock and blacksteel: Blackrock is a strange ore with properties of magic resistance, found in seams deep underneath the Serpent's Spine mountain range. When refined, it yields blacksteel, a lustrous, pitch-black metal that is dense, heavy and ultrahard. Blacksteel is nearly impossible to work, but the master smiths of Minoc have recently discovered the means to craft it into weapons and armour. These items benefit from blacksteel's extreme hardness, as well as its ability to disrupt magic.

Any shield or suit of armour crafted from blacksteel has a natural enhancement bonus of +1. In addition, the armour grants a +1, +2 or +3 circumstance bonus to saving throws against spells and spell-like abilities, depending on whether it is light, medium or heavy armour respectively. A shield crafted from blacksteel is treated as light armour for this purpose.

Any weapon forged from blacksteel has a natural enhancement bonus of +1 or +2. Weapons with a base damage of 1d4 or 1d6 gain a natural +1 enhancement bonus, while those with a base damage of 1d8, 1d10, 1d12 or more gain a natural +2 enhancement bonus. In addition, the weapon grants a +1 circumstance bonus to saving throws against spells and spell-like abilities.

If you have multiple items made from blacksteel, the circumstance bonuses to saving throws don't stack.

All blacksteel items have spell resistance equal to 10 + their caster level. This only applies to the item itself, not its user. A nonmagical blacksteel item is treated as having caster level 0.

Blacksteel has hardness 20 and 35 hit points per inch of thickness. Natural enhancement bonuses do not stack with any other enhancement bonuses; thus, a blacksteel (+2) longsword enchanted with a +5 enhancement bonus effectively has a +5 enhancement bonus. In an area where magic does not function, it still retains its natural +2 enhancement bonus. Blacksteel items are treated as masterwork items with regard to creation times. The masterwork quality does not affect the enchancement bonus of weapons or the armour check penalty of armour, nor does it add to the market price.

It should also be possible for other items besides weapons and armour to be fashioned that take advantage of blackrock's unique properties. If any such items have been created, their existence is not common knowledge.

Market Price: +5,000 gp (light armour or shield), +15,000 gp (medium armour), +30,000 gp (heavy armour), +5,000 gp (weapon damage 1d4 or 1d6), or +15,000 gp (weapon damage 1d8, 1d10, 1d12 or more).

Britannian Steel: While all steel created in Britannia is technically "Britannian steel", this term is properly applied only to the metal that is alloyed by the master steelsmiths in the city of Minoc. This lustrous substance is the pinnacle of the steelsmith's art, being harder, more durable and better able to hold an edge than any other form of steel (while blacksteel is harder, it is not a true steel). Only the master smiths of Minoc possess the knowledge necessary to craft items of Britannian steel.

A suit of armour or shield crafted of Britannian steel is less encumbering than normal. The arcane spell failure chance is decreased by 10%, maximum Dexterity bonus is increased by 2, and armour check penalties are decreased by 3. Only armour made primarily of metal is meaningfully affected (for example, a chain shirt is affected, while hide armour or studded leather is not).

A weapon crafted of Britannian steel has a threat range doubled compared to normal (this doesn't stack with the keen edge spell or similar effects). Britannian steel is the bane of demons and many other creatures of the Underworld.

All armour, shields and weapons crafted of Britannian steel are of either fine or excellent quality. A fine quality item gains a natural +1 enhancement bonus, while an excellent quality item gains a natural +2 enhancement bonus; these bonuses don't stack with other enhancement bonuses. Britannian steel of fine quality has hardness 10 and 30 hit points per inch of thickness, while that of excellent quality has hardness 20 and 30 hit points per inch of thickness. Weapons and armour crafted of Britannian steel are treated as masterwork items with regard to creation times, but the masterwork quality does not affect the enhancement bonus of weapons or the armour check penalty of armour, nor does it add to the market price.

Market Price: +2,000 gp (fine quality armour or shield), +6,000 gp (excellent quality armour or shield), +9,000 gp (fine quality weapon), or +20,000 gp (excellent quality weapon).

Axe of Throwing: These throwing, returning battleaxes are a signature item of the weaponsmiths of Jhelom. They typically have an enhancement bonus of +1 to +4.

Caster Level: 9th (+1 to +3) or 12th (+4); Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, telekinesis, animate wood; Market Price: 18,310 gp (+1), 32,310 gp (+2), 50,310 gp (+3), or 72,310 gp (+4); Cost to Create: 9,310 gp + 720 XP (+1), 16,310 gp + 1,280 XP (+2), 25,310 gp + 2,000 XP (+3), or 36,310 gp + 2,880 XP (+4).

Crossbow of Accuracy: These +4 distance light crossbows grant their wielder the use of the Crossbow Expert feat. They are commonly fashioned by the artisans of Britain, although they may be found all over Britannia.

Caster Level: 12th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, accuracy, weapon bless, creator must have proficiency with heavy or light crossbow; Market Price: 75,335 gp; Cost to Create: 37,835 gp + 3,000 XP.

Force Bow: These magical composite longbows, crafted by the bowyers of Yew, fire bolts of mystic energy instead of physical arrows. A force bow's missiles deal force damage instead of physical damage; they thus ignore damage reduction, and can hit even ethereal and incorporeal creatures. The missiles are subject to spell resistance, however: the bow's own caster level is used for caster level checks to bypass SR, with each point of enhancement bonus granting an additional +1 to the check. The wielder's own caster level and feats (if any) do not affect the check. The missiles also pass through a globe of invulnerability, but are suppressed by antimagic. Force bows are commonly enchanted with an enhancement bonus of +1 to +4.

The damage dealt and range increment of a force bow are the same as if it fired physical missiles. Any feats or abilities that affect ranged weapons still apply. In particular, bonus damage such as from a mighty bow or the Weapon Specialization feat is still inflicted, and is converted to force damage. A force bow cannot be used to fire physical arrows, and any attempt to do so destroys the arrow.

Caster Level: 9th (+1 to +3) or 12th (+4); Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, magic missile, sword of deception; Market Price: double the bow's underlying enhancement bonus (ie, a +1 force bow costs the same as a +2 bow, a +2 force bow costs the same as a +4 bow, etc).

Quicksword: These +5 spiritbane bastard swords grant their wielder use of the Rapid Strike and Improved Rapid Strike feats. Quickswords date from the Second Age of Darkness. They were instrumental in bringing about the defeat of the Enchantress Minax, but are now exceedingly rare.

Caster Level: 12th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, haste, summon monster I; Market Price: 200,335 gp; Cost to Create: 100,335 gp + 8,000 XP.

Silver Sword: These +2 holy longswords are engraved with the sigil of the great Earth Serpent on their blades. They are forged in Serpent's Hold for the use of the knights of the Silver Serpent. Some have also been gifted to adventurers as a reward for great deeds in the service of the Empire.

Caster Level: 6th; Prerequisites: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, castigate, creator must be lawful neutral or lawful good; Market Price: 32,315 gp; Cost to Create: 16,315 gp + 1,280 XP.

Wondrous Items

Gem of Farsight: This 3-inch-diameter gemstone is cut from a single quartz crystal. On command, it provides its user with a magical vision, as if from a fixed point approximately four hundred feet directly overhead. The vision lingers for one minute, but can be dismissed beforehand. It is thus extremely useful for purposes of getting one's bearings, mapping terrain, or detecting approaching enemies. A gem of farsight is good for one use, after which it crumbles to dust.

Caster Level: 7th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, scrying or divination; Market Price: 750 gp.

Rune of Virtue: Eight of these small runestones exist, one for each of the virtues of the Avatar. A rune of virtue allows its bearer to pass the magical wards that normally bar entry to the shrine of that virtue.

Caster Level: 9th; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, hallow, creator must have visited the shrine in question; Market Price: 1,000 gp.

Skull Key: These enchanted keys are manufactured by the Thieves' Guild, and bear the guild mark of a grinning skull. They are only available for sale to guild members, although some have turned up in the hands of freelancers. A skull key grants a +5 circumstance bonus to Open Lock skill checks (this bonus doesn't stack with that for using masterwork thieves' tools).

Caster Level: 3rd; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, knock; Market Price: 2,500 gp.

Minor Artifacts

Mystic Armour: A suit of armour, shield, headband or amulet with this enchantment is infused with the power of the virtues, conferring on its wearer DR 10/epic. It also grants SR equal to 10 + the wearer's level against attacks from evil creatures, and blocks attempts at possession or mental control, in a manner similar to protection from evil.

The powers of a mystic protection item do not function for any evil creature, or one with a rank of 0 in one or more virtues. If such a creature attempts to use the item, it gains four negative levels. These negative levels persists as long as the armour is worn, and disappear when the armour is removed. The negative levels never result in actual level loss, but cannot be overcome in any way (including restoration spells) while the armour is worn.

Caster Level: 20th.

Mystic Arms: A weapon with this enchantment is infused with the power of the virtues. When used against an evil creature, or one with a rank of 0 in one or more virtues, it strikes with a thunderous roar, bypassing any damage reduction and hardness the target may have. If hit, such a target must also make a Will save (DC 20) or be staggered for one round. A staggered creature can only take a standard action or a move action on its turn. A mystic weapon is treated as good-aligned for the purpose of dealing lethal damage against regenerating creatures. A projectile weapon so enchanted confers the mystic power on its ammunition.

A mystic weapon's powers do not function for any evil creature, or one with a rank of 0 in one or more virtues. If such a creature attempts to wield a mystic weapon, it gains four negative levels. These negative levels remain as long as the weapon is in hand and disappear when the weapon is no longer wielded. These negative levels never result in actual level loss, but cannot be overcome in any way (including restoration spells) while the weapon is wielded.

Caster Level: 20th.

Major Artifacts

Glass Sword: This shimmering, translucent longsword is crafted from an unknown crystalline substance. It has the power to slay an enemy with a single blow, but is itself consumed in the strike. It's said that there are only eight glass swords remaining in Britannia, their whereabouts being unknown.

A glass sword functions as a +1 longsword with the ability to bypass all damage reduction. Any creature hit by a glass sword takes +50d6 points of bonus damage, and is staggered for 1d4+1 rounds if it survives. A Fortitude save (DC 25) reduces the damage taken by half, and the duration of the staggering to one round. Even creatures normally exempt from Fortitude saves, such as constructs and undead, are subject to this attack. When used on a living creature, this counts as a death effect. The glass sword is destroyed in the attack, regardless of whether the target survives.

Bell of Courage: The bell of courage is one of the triad of artifacts embodying the three principles of virtue.

When the bell of courage is sounded by a character with rank 4 or more in Valor, Sacrifice, Honor and Spirituality, she and all her allies within 30 feet gain immunity to all death, compulsion and fear effects, and a +2 morale bonus on all attack rolls, damage rolls and saving throws. These benefits last for a duration of ten minutes. The bell can be sounded once per day, as a standard action. A character with rank 0 in at least one of Valor, Sacrifice, Honor or Spirituality who tries to use the bell of courage must make a Fortitude save (DC 25) or die (or, in the case of unliving creatures, be destroyed). Even creatures normally exempt from Fortitude saves, such as undead, are subject to this effect.

Book of Truth: The book of truth is one of the triad of artifacts embodying the three principles of virtue.

A 15th level character with rank 4 or more in Honesty, Justice, Honor and Spirituality who reads from the book of truth gains a +1 inherent bonus to all her ability scores. She must spend a total of 48 hours over a minimum of seven days reading the book, and only one person may read it at a time. Since the path to enlightenment is different for each individual, the knowledge gained from reading the book cannot be imparted to others. A character can only benefit once from reading the book.

Characters (of whatever level) with rank 0 in at least one of Honesty, Justice, Honor or Spirituality who try to read from the book must make a Will save (DC 25) or go insane, and a Fortitude save (DC 25) or be blinded. These effects cannot be dispelled by dispel magic or remove blindness/deafness, but can be removed by break enchantment or limited wish. Such characters cannot benefit from reading the book, even if they make their saves.

Candle of Love: The candle of love is one of the triad of artifacts embodying the three principles of virtue.

When lit by a character with rank 4 or more in Compassion, Justice, Sacrifice and Spirituality, the candle of love illuminates a 20-foot-radius area with soft, flickering light, for a duration of ten minutes. All creatures who remain within this area for the entire duration are affected as by heal and greater restoration cast at 20th level of ability. The candle is not consumed by the flames, but can only be lit once per week. A character with rank 0 in at least one of Compassion, Justice, Sacrifice or Spirituality finds it impossible to light the candle.

Legend has it that a character who possesses all three artifacts will be granted passage to places beyond Virtue, there to find the essence of Virtue.

Stone of Virtue: There are eight stones of virtue, one for each of the eight virtues of the Avatar. They are the blue stone of honesty, the yellow stone of compassion, the red stone of valor, the green stone of justice, the orange stone of sacrifice, the purple stone of honor, the white stone of spirituality, and the black stone of humility. Lost during the Ages of Darkness, they are said to hold the key to ultimate wisdom.

Skull of Mondain: It's common knowledge that the sorcerer Mondain was destroyed at the end of the First Age of Darkness. Even so, rumour has it that a remnant of his spirit lingers on, trapped within the only part of his mortal body to survive his fall his skull.

The skull of Mondain appears to be an ordinary human skull, but is possessed of great supernatural power. Exactly what it is capable of remains a mystery.


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