Monday, 10 February 2020

Fetish Charm Magic

Ruin your game economics with this wonderous lo-fi DIY magic system using proficiency/skill/attribute roll resolutions.

In my games, I have a skill for making fetish objects

A fetish is often a figurine but could be a lump of quartz wrapped in hair or a shrunken head, a magic rune or more. Civilised people might use a paper charm with a wax seal instead. Medallions and jewellery are common, some are worked into designs of a weapon or items or artworks to make reusable charms. Many shatter or break when depleted so some pay 10x more for artwork quality rechargeable ones. Priests will evoke gods or spirits in creation.  Wizard might prefer a charm dedicated to a demon or elemental power. Fetish crafting is more common in tribal or common people and some users in cities might risk the charge of witchcraft. Most villages have someone who can make one or maybe a d3 in a town. Would be the cheapest most common items.

Currently, I have a magic skill called craft fetish but this will become Fetish Lore
Might expand to potions poisons black powder skills too. Candle magic?
Could rune magic just be like this?

My First Fetish Skill by Alignment

Bless fetish if good or lawful
Curse fetish if evil or chaotic

Alarm fetish if neutral or balanced

You may spend further skill slots in additional fetish types to get more fetish skills. It is possible to do this without being a spell caster but it is a magical skill.

Making a fetish requires a material prop object often a tiny figurine or medallion or token or possibly a tool or weapon or clothing. Tattoos could be possible,

Can sacrifice a unit of power in the creation of a condition often to make them last longer
-target or ignore species, alignment, tribe, element or any distinction
-protects only vs one thing like acid, a certain spell, poison so activated less often  

-Wards and conditions specialising against humans and orcs are rare as they are youngest races but elves and humans are developing them in secret
Fetish crafter makes a skill roll to succeed after spending money and time creating object

Fetishes show as magic if detected
Fetishes can be damaged or disarmed like a trap if detected
Thieves can detect and disarm fetishes with lucky charms, magnets, metal discs and crystals in their kits as any trap

You could stack effects of fetishes -  carry a cursed fetish while being hit by the enemy with fetish but cant stack same benefits from two different items.

I could imagine a type of rogue specialising in fetishes and reading scrolls and healing or a monk might be good too. Humanoid leaders and spell casters knowing a few can make a war band more dangerous with preparation. Possibly the effort invested might not help by enough. Having guys watching your wagons making these could be handy. A barbarian warrior might like some of these as a higher level or a dwarf or halfling.

You need other skills in craft or art to make attractive more valuable or rechargeable items.

Fetish Cost and Time

1-4th level First Order Charm 1sp materials often sell for a gp one day
5-8 level Second 
Order Charm 1gp materials often sell for 20-40gp takes two days
11-12 level Third 
Order Charm 20gp material often sell for 100gp takes three days
13-16 level Fourth 
Order Charm 100gp material often sell for 200gp takes four days
17-20 level Fifth 
Order Charm 250gp material often sell for 350-500gp takes 5 days

Rechargeable Fetish Charms

Some have fetishes incorporated into building or item so shaman can just recharge it, costs same time and materials but for the original object must have been made for cost of a standard fetish but x10 the materiel costs.

Besides adding to the economy of one use petty magic and traps the duties of a practitioner might be to recharge fetishes around dungeon and boss guys weapons monthly.  Shamans might have assistants doing nothing but working on fetishes, another on potions etc. Now you can have lots of fetish weapons or shields for players to carry about burdening them. Plus players will be "searching to spot fetishes" every room. Raiders might all have fetish items, guards of all sorts maybe 10% of a factions warriors and most elites have one.

Foes could have fetish crafted swords and get a +3 in the first strike. Or a thief carries a +5 one use dagger and puts poison on it for a special foe. It is cheaper to have 5 +1 fetish than one +5 charm. Lots of +1 sling stones might be handy. Making a one use +1 arrow or sling stone should be far easier than a permanently +1 weapon and this might be where they come from. +1 hit and damage would be two separate projects. Anything made into a fetish has artistic embellishments and looks fancy.

A war fetish carved into a bone arrow or painted sling stone can make a +1 hit and damage one-use magic ammo taking maker 2 days plus 2sp + ammo cost. You could earn a good living making these as a fletcher or make many more normal ones which in war would be more useful. A Sword with a +3 rechargeable blood fetish would be three days to make and cost 1000gp for the fetish crafting and 300 for the sword quality. It could be recharged by some guy in village (lv 9-12) for 100gp in 3 days. So economics on these not as good as spells or traditional magic items in long run but easier to learn.

Could let a commoner drive off a magic beast. A crafted fetish weapon might have three separate +1 fetish charms built in that could be reset in 3 days if shaman not too busy. A fetish maker will be reluctant to recharge a fetish with a condition contrary to their alignment. 

1 Alarm Fetish
-Each 4 Lv of creator gives fetish a 10-foot cube area to protect
-Set minimum size to set off an alarm when created from small, medium or large
-If left to watch area and triggered will either send a whisper to caster or scream one round
-Each activation uses reduces the cube area affected till item has no power
-Conditions include to not react to non-tribe members, non-residents or certain alignments
-Placed on doors, secret doors, chests, treasures, sleeping children

2 Animus Fetish
-Each 4 Lv of creator lets fetish bearer halt HP through blood then loses a use
-Conditions might be to only benefit certain faction or species
-A fetish owner might put in unconscious person's hand to halt their blood loss
-Pendant or a scar or a miniature figurine

3 Bad Fetish
-Calls malignant spirit that activate traps, alarms, levers, buttons, drop, push, grab
-10 foot square trigger per four levels, loses 10 foot square each activation till depleted
-each activation reduces size of the defended area until none left
-Makes traps more discriminating and deadlier but trap experts know the signs
-Could leave with a crossbow or several muskets and fire possibly multiple weapons
-Multiple actions could all be used at once or in sequence like shut door dire bolt
-Day per plus to make and a blood sacrifice a medium creature
-Conditions to react only to a certain faction or ignore a group like the makers

4 Bless Fetish

-Each 4 Lv of creator gives fetish a +1 on a specific stat save or attack roll once
-Conditions include vs certain species (humans) or threat (fire) or alignment (C ot CE)
-Can use all pluses at once or as you please one at a time
-Carried on user to benefit, the standard fetish type

5 Bone Fetish
-Each 4 Lv of creator gives fetish a +1 weapon damage
-Each time you damage a foe weapon loses a plus until all consumed
-Placed on weapons mostly, exhausted very quickly
-Conditions include vs specific alignment or nationality
-Day per plus to make and a blood sacrifice a medium creature

6 Blood Fetish
-Each 4 Lv of creator gives fetish a +1 chance of a critical
-Once damage a foe a use is lost and loses a +1 in effect
-Will let someone with no critical hit chance critical on a natural 20
-Will allow those with a critical hit chance to increase their chances
-Conditions specialised on a certain foe like undead, spiders, reptiles to make the last longer
-Placed on weapons mostly 
-Day per plus to make and a blood sacrifice a medium creature

7 Border Fetish

-When line 20 foot per level is crossed intruders get a wandering monster chance roll
-Each actual encounter reduces the power of fetish by 20 foot
-Mark a line or leave a thread to make, can then hide
-Set with an alarm fetish so increases the chance of a monster

-Condition to nationality, race, tribe, family help it last longer 

8 Curse Fetish

-Each 4 Lv of creator gives fetish a -1 on a specific stat save or attack roll once
-Conditions include effect only non tribe members so they can move object
-Can use all pluses at once or as you please one at a time, set by creator
-left out with treasure or put inside valuables to curse enemies

9 Fertility Fetish
-10 foot radius area per 4 levels increases fertility, growth and lactation in area
-Can use to blight area instead and render enemy impotent; infertile or as a contraceptive
-Cover a garden or person's bed or animals pen increasing natural growth by d20% 
-Condition to effect certain species or person 
-Each year loses 10 foot radius until depleted

10 Flesh Fetish
-extra +1 HP per 5HD, when HP lost fetish shatters into fragments
-Conditions include vs certain attacks like arrows or fire or vs certain species
-a medium creature sacrifice is required

11 Harm Fetish
-Inflicts 1 HP damage per 4 levels on contact once made with a bang and a flash
-Once damage done fetish turns to ash often with a spark flash or cracks and smoke
-Usually left on fancy knickknacks around as a trap that locals warned about
-Used as alignment tester or alarm, on sling stones, can damage melee weapons
-Conditions include 
target species or alignment or type of elemental damage
-Day per plus to make and a blood sacrifice a medium creature 

12 Medicine Fetish
-10-foot cube and heals 1HP per 4 levels on healing from nights rest
-Often burned in a fire, broken or consumed in the rest
-Can use it to make it cause harm instead so all in the area lose HP over a nights rest
-Power is depleted after a single rest, around fetish over 8 hours
-Condition to only heal certain alignment or species
-Often carried by a healer or used assistant in an emergency, candles common

13 Nightmare Fetish
-Each 4 Lv of creator makes 10-foot diameter area
-Everyone trying to rest or sleep has terrible dreams and cannot rest properly
-Each sleeping person in an area saves to rest properly, otherwise wastes 8 hours
-Each successful nightmare reduces the power by 10-foot radius until none
-Conditions often to target non-tribe members or a species or gender or alignment 
-Placed as tests, to keep faithful awake, or make enemies unable to recover curse places

14 Morale Fetish

-10-foot radius area & +1 Morale per 4 levels increases or decreases morale in zone
-Each morale roll affected by fetish loses 10-foot radius until depleted
-Conditions like only effect makers faction or based on species or alignment
-Often placed on banners, thrones, altars, boss rooms, treasury doors, gates

15  Pain Fetish
-Each 4 Lv of creator gives fetish a +1 hit roll
-Each time damages a foe a +1 in lost until all depleted
-Conditions include vs certain foes such as magic creatures, undead, elves, any evil-aligned
-Placed on weapons mostly 

16 Shield Fetish

-Each 4 Lv of creator gives fetish a +1 on AC vs one successful hit
-Once damage get though one use is lost and loses a +1 in effect
-Conditions such as melee or missile only or only vs unseen attackers make last longer
-Placed on armour or shields or items of clothing or jewellery

17 Spirit Fetish
-Each 4 Lv of creator gives fetish a 10 yards area where spirits become visible at night
-they are luminous and transparent as spirits but some can manifest bodies
Each spirit revealed in a day reduces the radius by 10 yards until depleted
-Conditions such as reveal only evil spirits or spirits possessing someone or in disguise help make the wards last longer. Common spirits shun attention, some don't care
-Placed on sticks placed around area warded with fetish in middle

18 Target Fetish

-Each 4 Lv of creator gives fetish a +1 to be hit by enemies
-Once damage hurts carrier one use is used and loses a +1 in effect until depleted
-Can include condition such as melee or missile or magic
-Placed on tempting treasures so enemies take them from treasure piles

19 Vermin Fetish
-10-foot radius area per 4 levels attracts or repels vermin as per makers preference
-Vermin include: rats, fleas, weevils, ants, mould, fungi, slime, maggots, flies, worms
-Each month radius drops by 10 foot until depleted
-Plant in enemy food supplies or wells but some creatures might think this is more food
-Condition to molest or protect certain goods or a person 

20 Ward Fetish

-Vs one creature type undead, demon, lycanthrope, mammal, elemental, elves, goblinoids, devils, witches, goblinoids, elves, sylvan, plant, dragon, reptile, bird, amphibian, etc 
-Each 4 Lv of creator protects 10 cubic foot of dwelling or just a doorway
-Each time an undead attempts to cross thresh hold they save or flee for a turn
-Each successful success reduces the power by 10 foot cube until none
-Fetish lasts for a year, some towns make an event to renew them in homes
-Conditions include a specific type of creature of the type to make them last longer


d12 Common Enemy Fetish (for low to mid-level warriors)

1 +1 Bless charm coin on DEX save one use
2 +1 Bless charm on a leather thong for CON save one use
3 +1 Bless charm on holy symbol for Will save one use
4 +1 Blood charm improved chance of a critical hit by one or 1 in 20 otherwise
5 Ring +1 Bless random stat, charm can be recharged by the creator
6 +1 Bless charm on a ring to hit one use
7 +1 Bless charm on a weapon to hit charm can be recharged by the creator
8 +2 Bless charm on a weapon to hit charm can be recharged by the creator
9 +1 Defence charm on shield or armour  

10 +1 Attack charm on shield or armour
11 +2 Target fetish on a lead wrapped tooth, attracts missile attacks
12 Curse fetish from an enemy -2 on next Wis save

 d12 Dungeon Boss Fancy Fetishes
-sub-boss and level boss=1 dungeon boss or big boss=2 Superbad boss=3
1 Helmet with a +1 defence fetish and fancy brush on top
2 Dagger with a +1 war fetish and poisoned
3 Knuckle duster, silver with +2 war fetish vs magical beings only
4 Woven hair charm wrapped around weapon acts as a +2 blood fetish
5 Fertility charm cursed used as contraception or curse
6 Evil god faced coin +2 Blood or Pain Charm
7 Alarm fetish idol screams to warn if humans in the area
8 Banner with +2 Morale over 20-foot radius for helping boss minions better

9 Medicine fetish +2 to use in emergencies
10 Crown with fertility fetish and Morale fetish of the rechargeable type
11 Fancy Hat has a Bless Fetish +3 for Wis saves 

12 Concealed Knife has +2 Pain 

d20 Common Dungeon Room Fetishes

1 Alarm fetish under floor of room entry screams for a round if passed
2 Alarm fetish on lid of container contact a  local spell caster
3 Medicine fetish cursed and hidden causes anyone resting 8 hours here to lose 2HP
4 Curse fetish -3 on hit roll once, gold leaf coated acorn
5 Charm fetish +1 CHA roll on a coin one use
6 Blood fetish +1 on an arrow head
7 Nightmare Fetish with 20 foot radius, evil idol hidden in recent plaster of wall
8 Undead Ward Fetish with 20 cubic feet covering entrance in a zombie doll
9 Border Fetish made from human leg bones covering a 20 foot line
10 Border Fetish and Alarm fetish form 
painted totem pole ignores ignore locals
11 Vermin ward to repel and protect goods or placed by enemies as sabotaged
12 Fertility Fetish protecting a plant or fungus or a bed or can be reversed to sterilise

13 Morale fetish and Border fetish that might call wandering monsters set vs outsiders
14 Room seems like a good place to hide and secure has a bad medicine fetish and a nightmare fetish making it a bad place to rest. Shutting selves in with deadbolt sends a alarm to fetish crafting boss who can arrive with helpers to barricade party in room
15 Harm fetish in doorstep or door handle explodes of anyone good touches 1hp
16 Bad fetish slams and locks door, then releases gas, first person clutching at door during save gets CON -2 save
17 Fancy carved wooden spoon with a vermin fetish to attract food destroying critters
18 Poisoned trap with curse fetish barb -2 CON save once
19 Trap that inflicts damage like a scythe or deadfall has a bon fetish and does +1 damage
20 Spirit wards in room of carved bones, 20 yard area make stranger spirits visible

suggestions welcome


  1. Trilogy of Terror scared the shit out of me when I was a kid. That Zuni doll still freaks me out a little.

  2. As usual, your thoughts are well-considered. I make 1-shot magic items pretty easy for folks as well, compared to the MUCH more expensive permanent types, and it works pretty well. I use a lot of rechargeable Runes and such as well. By the way, I KNOW I've seen the movie that still comes from. My mind says I saw it on TV way back in the day, as part of a 'Trilogy of Terror'. Anybody else remember that?

    1. i think lots of these petty magic things about
      my friends had various metals vs various planar beings worked out well to make petty magic things. Makes +1 swords better and letting a villain whos +5 sword loses a plus per hit wont break your magic economy only enrich it

  3. yes i need to stat up animated fetishes
    do they contain a spirit of just golems?

    1. I like spirits for folks who do that kind of magic, but I use a 1 stimulus/response per caster level rule for casters that don't do spirit magic when they aren't controlling it directly.

  4. I like these idea though the economic parts need some work or it would make more sense to be a crafter then an adventurer (or is there a lot more treasure to be found in your dungeons and places of interest?). Also need to see what things that aren't fetish powered look like for power comparison.

    1. mostly I am stingy and mean with basic items one per 2 levels each and a few disposables pretty common. This will let me have more petty items and let bad guys have items that expire in battle

      economics of this stuff is tricky
      this set up means pricey fetishes become poor value compared to permanant +1 item. Time will be a problem too and I could see characters hiring people to re charge them or get followers to do it. Possibly scrolls are better value time and money wise. One of main benefits is a non caster could possibly make them. Casting spells for hire probably better profit value than adventuring if you factor in it being safer. On a good day being an adventurer gets you big hauls and rare stuff and level up in power better than running a shop


I love and welcome feedback but not spambots
Good feedback and suggestions inspire me to write more