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This is the original description of Blackmoor items, published in DA3 City of the Gods, 1987, a setting that was a part of what later became the world of Mystara (DUNGEON & DRAGONS(R) Game, Expert).
Alien Devicesby Dave L Arneson and David J Ritchie
The alien technology in this module includes many powerful devices that can be acquired and used by the PCs. While you, the DM, know that these items are simple tools or mechanical devices, residents of Blackmoor perceive them to be magic items and treat them accordingly, giving each a name that expresses its power in understandable terms.
This section lists all of the common alien devices corresponding to magic items. Each item is listed by its proper name, followed in parentheses by the name by which the item is known to non-aliens. Each listing has a short description of how the item appears to non-aliens, followed by a discussion of its functions.
Alien devices are made from super-tough ceramics and acrylics and from other exotic substances. Unless otherwise noted, they can't be harmed by non-magical weapons or tools. Also, unless otherwise noted, all items that use a power pack are powered by the same type of 1" x 2" x 1/2" pack, and all power packs are fully charged when discovered (minus any charges used during the encounter or melee in which the PCs discover them); all standard power packs are interchangeable. Used power packs can be recharged in Beagle 's power plant (which is in a high security area not open to the PCs). In some cases, alien devices are activated or controlled by voice command. Generally, these devices understand only Galactica (the language of the Galactic Federation) and the coded battle languages of the Federation Fleet. They do not respond to Common unless specially programmed to do so. Often, items respond only to special codes given in a battle language.
Alien devices aren't intended for use by non-technological species. It is especially easy for those not trained in their use (e.g. the PCs) to improperly insert a power pack, thus damaging the item. Each time one of the PCs tries to change a power pack, there is a 50% chance that he damages it so that it no longer functions.
Battle Armour (Godsuit)
Description: This item looks like a smooth, wondrously light and thin stocking but one that has been knit with arms and legs to cover the entire body. Woven into the stocking's neck is a small oblong box.
Functioning: All aliens and Soldiers of the Frog wear this tough battle armour, a type of form-fitting, light-weight acrylic mesh. A sensor in the "oblong box" tells the suit when it is being worn and causes it to emit a repulsion field that gives the wearer AC 0 without adding to his encumbrance. The "oblong box" contains a standard power pack. Squeezing the box in the palm of the hand causes it to eject its power pack. A new pack can then be slid into the box. Each new pack powers the armour for 4 months. Power packs already in suits discovered by the PCs are good for 1-4 months.
Communicator (Talk Box)
Description: This item is a grey egg-shaped device that fits in the palm of the hand. A retractable metal clip extrudes from one end.
Functioning: This communicator lets the user have a two-way conversation with anyone who has an implant or communicator or with any device that is plugged into the alien communications network (a computer, for example). Communicators have a range of 48 miles. They can always receive anything being transmitted on their band. When in transmit mode, they transmit all sounds within 12" inches. A character activates a communicator by giving the transmit signal (a verbally communicated alphanumeric code, in most cases). The small clip is a belt clip that can be thumbed out for carrying or thumbed out of the way when the device is in use. If the user tells the communicator to "translate", it automatically translates everything that it receives into whatever language the user is speaking. His own words are not translated. Squeezing the base of the device causes it to eject its power pack. A new power pack can then be slid into the base. Each pack can power the device for six hours of continuous use (about 24 conversations).
Glow Wand (Magic Torch)
Description: This item is a six-inch long, one-inch diameter grey metal tube with a translucent cap of some smooth, dense material at one end. The tube has parallel ridges running along its length.
Functioning: The item is a sophisticated portable light source. The "cap" is actually a combination lens/light source. To make it emit light, the user twists it clockwise. The lens immediately begins to cast a diffused glow. The further it is turned, the brighter and more focused the light becomes. Turning the lens in the opposite direction decreases and diffuses the light. Turning it all the way in the opposite direction shuts the light off. The glow wand is powered by a standard power pack inside the tube. The pack can be removed or replaced by pressing against one of the tube's ridges, causing an access panel to spring open. The panel snaps shut when pressed back into place. Each power pack is good for 24 hours of operation.
Grenade (Death Egg)
Description: This item is a smooth, heavy, egg-shaped ball, no more than an inch thick at its widest end. There is a small seam in the middle of the ball. The ball comes in six colours: red, yellow, black, blue, green, and grey.
Functioning: Each grenade can be thrown (up to 60 feet) or fired from a grenade launcher. However, if the grenade is inactive (its normal state), it can be thrown or fired all day, and nothing will happen. Before it can explode, it must first be active (or live, as the aliens say). To make a grenade active, it is necessary to twist the two ends in opposite directions until there is a click. The grenade then explodes five seconds later. The effect of the explosion depends on the grenade's type. The different colours indicate different types. These include:
Gamma (red): This type emits a powerful blast of radiation. All entities within 30 feet must Save vs. Death Ray. Those who fail their saving throw sustain 8-48 points of damage. Those who make their saving throw sustain no damage. Gamma grenades do no damage to the surrounding area.
Light (yellow): This type creates a globe of light 60 feet across. It is similar that created by the magic user spell continual light, but it lasts only one turn. Those who are looking directly at the grenade when it first explodes must make a Saving Throw vs. Spells. Those who fail the saving throw are blinded for one round. Those who make their saving throw are unaffected.
Opacity (black): This type creates a globe of darkness 60 feet across. It is similar to that created by reversing the magic user spell continual light, but it lasts only one turn. Opacity grenades can't be used to blind characters.
Sonic (blue): This type emits a destructive, but focused, blast of sound. All entities within 5 feet must Save vs. Paralysis. Those who fail their saving throw sustain 12-48 points of damage and are paralysed for the next 6 turns. Those who make their saving throw are unaffected. Sonic grenades destroy all furniture and fragile items within range. They damage doors just as if the door was a character. If and only if they explode while wedged against a wall or floor, they blow a hole in the surface (one-foot thick, if the surface is stone or metal; three-feet thick if it is earth or wood).
Neuron (green): This type emits a cloud of mild nerve gas. All entities within 30 feet who aren't wearing a functioning pressure suit must Save vs. Breath Attack. Those who fail their saving throw sustain 1-4 points of damage and are paralysed for the next 6 turns. Those who make their saving throw are unaffected. Neuron grenades don't affect machines (including robots), golems, living statues, or inanimate objects. The gas need not be breathed to be effective - it just has to touch an exposed surface. However, armour and clothing are no protection from the gas.
Tangler (grey): This type emits a dense monofilament web that twists itself around whatever it encounters. All entities within 10 feet must Save vs. Magic Wands. Those who fail their saving throw sustain 1-4 points of damage and are entangled in the web. They can't move until they are cut free. Those who make their saving throw are unaffected. It is necessary to inflict 3-18 points of damage on the web in order to free each entangled character. Only magic blades and acid affect the web. Since the web responds to resistance by tightening around its source, characters who try to struggle free of the web sustain an additional 1-4 points of damage (from the cutting effect of the monofilament) during each round in which they struggle.
Grenade Launcher (Wand of Death Eggs)
Description: This dark grey, foot-long, inch thick tube is open at one end and closed at the other. There is a red bump on one side.
Functioning: The closed end holds a standard power pack, a propellant pack, and all of the micro-circuits needed to fire the grenade launcher. The cap can be removed by simply unscrewing it. The red bump is a firing button. To use the launcher, drop a live grenade in it, aim it where you want the grenade to go, and press the firing button. With a soft plop, the grenade flies toward the aiming point. It takes one round to arm the grenade, load, and fire. The launcher has a maximum range of 300 feet, but is highly inaccurate ( + 5 to the hit roll) above 120 feet. Each new propellant and power pack inserted in the launcher is good for 24 uses. Those packs already inside a launcher when it is discovered by the PCs are good for 2-24 uses. If the device is triggered while it contains more than one grenade, it explodes, doing 3-18 points of damage to the user plus any damage done by the grenades (which also explode).
Hand Blaster (Wand of Sunflame)
Description: This dark grey, L-shaped device is made from some smooth, dense substance and is moulded to fit a human hand. The part that fits most comfortably in the palm is studded with tiny buttons and protrusions. The other part ends in a thin tube.
Functioning: This small, easily concealed weapon works like a wand of fireballs (doing 6-36 points of damage at a range of 240 feet whenever a small stud in the front of the pistol grip is pressed). The weapon has a standard power pack in the grip. Moving a slide on the grip causes the weapon to eject its power pack; it can then be reloaded by simply sliding a fresh power pack into the bottom of the grip. Thumbing open a panel in the back of the grip exposes a vertical gauge whose red indicator line shows how many charges are left. The panel snaps shut when released. Each new power pack inserted in the weapon is good for 24 uses. The power pack already in a weapon when it is discovered by the PCs is good for 5-20 uses. Heavy Blaster (Staff of Sunflame)
Description: This device actually looks more like an unwieldy club than a staff. The smooth, dense, dark grey substance from which it is manufactured is studded with arcane bumps and bulges and it is broader and heavier at one end, tapering to a thin tube at the other.
Functioning: This shoulder-fired weapon works is the size of a crossbow (but is much lighter and is shaped like a rifle). It works exactly like a wand of fireballs, but does 8-48 points of damage at 360 feet whenever a small stud in the underside of the stock is pressed). The weapon has a standard power pack in the stock. Moving a slide on the stock causes the weapon to eject its power pack; it can then be reloaded by simply sliding a fresh power pack into the butt-end of the stock. Thumbing open a panel in the top of the stock exposes a vertical gauge whose red indicator line shows how many charges are left. The panel snaps shut when released. Each new power pack inserted in the weapon is good for 24 uses. The power pack already in a weapon when it is discovered by the PCs is good for 5-20 uses.
Implant (Talk Spell)
Description: This item consists of a small metal and ceramic button in the back of the skull, just under the ear. This button is normally hidden under the skin, but may be revealed by a wound.
Functioning: All aliens have a miniature transmitter-receiver implanted in their mastoid bone. This implant lets the alien have a two-way conversation with any other character who also has an implant or a communicator or with any device that is plugged into the communications network (a computer, for example). Implants have a range of just four miles. They can always receive anything being transmitted on their band. They only transmit the sounds made by the character in whom they are implanted when he gives the transmit signal (a specific combination of teeth clicks). Non-aliens commonly interpret the receipt and transmission of signals in this way as the result of some arcane spell, especially since the aliens usually communicate using their own battle language, which is not understandable by non-aliens. Unlike communicators, implants do not have a translator function. They have their own power source. An implant ceases to function if it is removed from the alien in whom it is implanted or if that alien is killed.
Light Sabre (Sword of Light)
Description: This item is a six-inch long, one-inch diameter grey metal tube with a red lens of some sort at one end. The tube is banded with ridges of metal and contains a small plate near the lens. The plate is inset with a variety of studs and small flashing lights.
Functioning: This is a light sabre, a weapon designed for deep-space combat where it is desirable that pressure hulls not be damaged by casual blaster fire. The end with the lens emits a three-foot long by one-inch diameter controlled beam of light bent to form a lethal blade. Treat this weapon like a sword + 4. It is activated by pressing one of the studs in the control plate by the lens. The other studs are used to regulate the blade's length and width. The flashing lights are used to monitor its status and are for diagnostic purposes, only. The light sabre is powered by a standard power pack inside the tube. The pack can be removed or replaced by pressing against one of the tube's ridges, causing an access panel to spring open. The panel snaps shut when pressed back into place. Each power pack is good for 12 minutes (72 rounds) of continuous operation.
Medkit (Cube of Healing)
Description: This item is a smooth, white 4-inch white cube. One side of the cube is covered with flashing lights and strange symbols. There is a small stud in one corner. The opposite side has dozens of shallow indentations. The remaining four sides are blank. Functioning: When the side with the shallow indentations is placed next to a character's skin and the medkit is turned on by twisting the stud, the item performs a medical exam on the character and displays the results (including its diagnosis, if any) by flashing lights and changing the symbols displayed. The results include a readout listing any treatment that it is performing. If the machine is not turned off within 10 seconds of a course of treatment being indicated, the medkit executes the treatment. This may include debriding and sealing any wound over which it is placed, slathering ointments of various kinds on burns or irritations and/or spray-injecting the patient with one or more drugs. The medkit doesn't actually heal the patient, but it causes normal (but not magical) healing to proceed at four times the normal pace. The med; it only works in this fashion when applied to humans. It isn't designed to treat non-humans. If used on a non-human (including a demi-human), the patient must make a Saving Throw vs. Poison or sustain 6-24 points of damage as a result of malpractice. Medkits don't use power packs; they have their own internal power source. Each medkit can boost the healing of 100 points of damage.
Needler (Wand of Poisoned Dreams)
Description: This dark grey, L-shaped device is made from some smooth, dense substance and is moulded to fit a human hand. The part that fits most comfortably in the palm has a stud and several tiny protrusions. The other part ends in a thin tube.
Functioning: This small, easily concealed weapon fires small hollow steel needles containing a paralysing drug out to a range of 60 feet whenever the stud in the front of the pistol grip is pressed. Entities hit by the tiny needles must make a Saving Throw vs. Paralysis. Those who fail their saving throw suffer 1-2 points of damage and are paralysed for one hour. Those who make their saving throw suffer 1-2 points of damage, but are not paralysed. The small, light-weight needles tend to shatter when they strike heavy armour ( + 5 to the hit roll when fired at characters in plate mail or monsters that are AC 3 or lower). The weapon has a standard power pack and a tiny ammo pack (the same size as the power pack) in the grip. Moving a slide on the grip causes the weapon to eject these packs; the weapon can then be reloaded by simply sliding fresh packs into the bottom of the grip. Each new power pack inserted in a needler has 24 charges (uses), and each ammo pack contains 24 needles. The packs already in a needler when it is discovered by the PCs are good for 5-20 uses. Thumbing open a panel in the back of the grip exposes a vertical gauge whose red indicator line shows how many charges are left. The panel snaps shut when released.
Pressure Suit (Suit of Lights)
Description: When inactive, this item looks like battle armour with a hood and a slightly larger box woven into the neck. When it is active, it gives the wearer a multicoloured aura.
Functioning: A pressure suit has the same characteristics as battle armour, but it also creates an atmospheric envelope around the wearer. Characters wearing a pressure suit are immune to the effects of heat, cold, and lack of atmosphere. The suit needs to be recharged after every 12 hours of use. Recharging consists of replacing the standard power pack that powers it and hooking the box woven into the neck up to a small nozzle found next to the keypad in any of Beagle's locks.
Riot Stick (Wand of Pain)
Description: This item is a 24-inch long, one-inch diameter, smooth white stick with a grip at one end. The butt of the grip can be twisted. Attached to the centre of the butt end by a strap is a pair of odd, shiny black gauntlets.
Functioning: This so-called riot stick is designed for use in controlling shipboard mutinies. Twisting the butt of the grip clockwise sends electrical current through the stick (but not the grip, which is insulated). The further clockwise the butt is twisted, the more current charges the stick. Small alien numerals along the grip show the 10 possible settings. At the lowest setting, an unprotected individual touched by the stick gets a minor jolt of electricity that does no damage, but does startle the individual. At the next lowest setting, the stick does 1-2 points of damage. At the third setting, it does 1-4 points of damage. At each setting above the third (4-10), it does two additional points of damage (for a maximum of 15-19 points at the tenth setting). The device is powered by a standard power pack inside the grip. The pack can be removed or replaced by twisting the grip counterclockwise from the off position, causing the butt of the grip to pop free and revealing the location of the power pack. The butt can be closed by twisting it clockwise. Each new power pack inserted in this item is good for 24 uses. Packs already in the item when it is discovered by the PCs have 5-20 charges (uses).
Snoopers (Far Seers)
Description: This item consists of a pair of short tubes joined along their sides by some rigid material. The tubes are filled with layers of some clear substance and can be seen through. Connected to the tubes is a strap of some flexible stretchy substance.
Functioning: This item is actually a set of goggles that are held in place by an elastic strap. The "short tubes" contain lenses through which the user looks. Sensors in the sides of the snooper goggles react to the focus of the user's eyes, multiplying the effect of natural focus so that the harder the user looks at an object, the more it is magnified. At maximum focus, the user sees up to four times as clearly and four times as far as other characters. When the user stops focusing, the magnification steps back. Similar sensors compare the light requirements of the user's eyes with the amount of ambient light and multiply the brightness of available light sources like a starscope so that the user always sees as if it were daylight, providing there is any light to be multiplied. In situations where there is no light source available, the user need only toss his head in a certain way to kick in special heat sensors that give him infravision per the magic user spell of that name. Snoopers don't use power packs. However, their delicate lenses are easily broken. There is a 2 % chance per use that this item is made useless by damage.
Translator Badge (Medallion of Speaking)
Description: This item is a one-inch diameter button fixed to a pin, so that it can be attached to clothing. The button has two parts, a stationary centre and an outer circle. A metal rim around the centre contains a small arrow pointing toward the outer circle. The circle contains runes and revolves when turned. The centre of the button contains two glowing runes one of which matches runes on the outer circle. Depressing the centre causes the runes to change or disappear.
Functioning: This item translates the spoken word into other languages. The words of the wearer are translated into the languages represented by the outer circle; all other speech is translated into the languages represented by the centre. The arrow in the metal band is an indicator used to show the language into which the wearer wants his words to be translated. The item has a tiny speaker that broadcasts its translation in such a way that the translated words seem to be coming from the mouth of the speaker. Pressing the centre of the item turns it on and off or changes the language into which the words of speakers other than the wearer are being translated. The glowing runes in the centre correspond to the languages into which the various speakers' words are being translated. One of the runes on the outer circle is a "wild card" that represents the language of the first speaker whose words arc heard by the device after it is turned on. If the speaker's language is unknown, the device gradually builds up a vocabulary and grammar for that language by recording and analysing the speaker's words. In order to assist it in this task, the button contains a small imaging device for use in recording noun referents and body language. Translators can be plugged into computers and can then download the data they contain directly into computer. They have their own built-in power source and are designed to be thrown away when power is depleted (after 5-20 months).