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by Carl Quaif

We start with some magical items (and a couple of spells) based around that low-level staple, the Magic Missile:-

Short Bow of Missiles

A standard, unadorned short bow, of the type used by Elves and Foresters, this device will function as a normal bow at any time. By speaking a command word as the string is drawn, however, the user may transform the nocked arrow into a Magic Missile, with all the effects and abilities of the spell of the same name. This power may be used up to three times per week. It is advisable to use normal arrows when invoking the Short Bow's power, as magical arrows lose any pluses or other powers when transformed. A tiny number of these Bows may have +1 enchantment, which DOES carry over to the Magic Missiles. There is one Short Bow +2 of Missiles in existence, called Gwylleach (gwih-LEE-ak). It is inlaid with silver and gems, and has a string of spun silver enchanted to be as supple as a normal bowstring. It is part of the royal treasury of Wendar, and so belongs to Gylharen, although he is presently unaware that it is anything more than a simple Short Bow +2.

Shield +1, Magic Missile Protector

These shields are manufactured by the Sheyallia elves of Graakhalia; they are simple wooden devices with lizard skin stretched across the surface. It is this skin, taken from Sa'grukk lizards*, which enables the shield to hold enchantment to +1 and grants it the power to absorb Magic Missiles cast at the wearer. Each Missile "caught" in this fashion drains one charge from the shield. A newly-made shield will hold 12 charges; one found elsewhere will have 1d6+2 charges remaining. Once the final charge is used, the shield also loses its +1 enchantment. If returned to its place of origin, an exhausted shield may be recharged (for a price); of course, the trick is finding the place of origin...

(*a Sa'grukk lizard is a small gecko-like native of Graakhalia; its iridescent hide is unusually receptive to enchantment. It takes a whole skin, split along the belly, peeled from the body and softened in vats of water to make it elastic, to cover a single shield; if split - which is only possible when its enchantment fades, and it is struck by a bladed weapon - the skin can no longer hold magic, and the shield is useless.)

Wand of Magic Missiles, Mindfeeder

This singular device is a foot-long wand of blackened mahogany with a yellow diamond at the tip. The command word ("Lhomond") is inscribed along its side. It was created by Prince Brannart McGregor, and incorporates the power of the Radiance in its construction (making it detectable by Rad's Wand of Amber, of course). It was designed to be an easily-rechargeable wand; the wielder, assuming he or she was a spellcaster, could recharge it by casting spells into the wand, which would then convert that energy into stored power. Since the Nucleus of the Spheres was altered to draw its power from Entropy, however, the wand's abilities have changed. When first found, it appears to be a normal Wand of Magic Missiles, and holds 1d6+5 charges. Once exhausted, however, its curse comes into effect; the wand will randomly drain 1d6 spells from the mind of its wielder (if a spellcaster; otherwise, it draws its power from the nearest available friendly mage or cleric - typically, one of the wielder's party - NEVER from a spellcasting opponent) in order to recharge itself. No matter the level of the spells it absorbs, the wand always gains 1d6+5 charges from its "feeding". Once the wand has "fed" once the bearer of the wand becomes irrationally attached to it and will not willingly give it up, despite its unfortunate side-effect (particularly unfortunate, if it is a companion who suffers the spell-draining effect!); in fact, it will become a favoured weapon, supplanting any other missile weapon in the bearer's affections. Its owner may even give it a pet name. If stolen or lost, the distraught bearer will go to great lengths to recover it; however, if not found within 3 months, the effect of the curse fades, although the former bearer will always feel a pang of longing when he/she thinks of it. An early experiment, Brannart lost it years ago - long before the WotI - and therefore never experienced the curse; he has, in all probability, forgotten its existence by now.

Ring of Missile Catching

The idea for this ring was conceived by Doleran Forsuph, Guild Master of the Greycloaks, a small-time thieves' guild operating on Belissaria around 1950 AL. Tired of his highly-trained cutpurses and housebreakers being struck down by any low-level mage with a Magic Missile spell to hand, or by the wands of Imperial Boltmen, he paid a small fortune to a reclusive mage to create rings which would not only shield the wearer, but allow him or her to strike back. If the wearer of a Ring of Missile Catching is the target of a Magic Missile spell, he or she may attempt to catch it (save vs. spells at a bonus of +2), so long as at least one hand is free (either hand may be used, not merely the one wearing the ring), and the wearer is not magically held, paralysed etc. If the attempt succeeds, the spell is absorbed by the Ring, and may be cast from it at any target by the wearer in the next round. If not used in this time, the spell dissipates. Any number of bolts may be caught at once by the Ring, as long as they all come from the same spell or item; the catcher may hurl back an equal number of missiles at his or her choice of targets. The wearer may not catch a spell in the same round as he is hurling one. Most of these rings are plain gold bands, with a sigil engraved on the inside of the ring (the mark of the Greycloaks). A few have been created since by other wizards, however, so Rings of Missile Catching with different designs may be encountered.

New spells:

Missile Storm
Level: 3
Range: 30' radius
Duration: Instantaneous
Effect: omnidirectional burst of magic missiles
Devised as a weapon of last resort by the Elven scout Alerivyn Feadiel, formerly of Alfheim, this spell causes a flurry of Magic Missiles to burst from the caster's body in a 360 degree arc. Anyone standing within 30' of the caster will be hit by 1-3 (1d4 -1, read zero results as 1) missiles, each causing normal Magic Missile damage (2-7 hp). Alerivyn created this spell for use when alone and surrounded by enemies - it should not be used within range of one's allies, unless they have some form of protection.

Alerivyn later created a 4th-level improvement on her spell, called Waiting Storm; this has the same effects as the earlier version, except it can be cast with an indefinite delay, to be triggered at a later time by an act of will. The caster may cast the spell on him/herself, another person, or some article of clothing which encircles the wearer, like a belt or cloak. Until the spell is released, the person or object bearing it radiates a faint magical aura which may be detected by a Detect Magic spell. Only one Waiting Storm may be cast on any subject at a time; however, a person could have separate castings on himself, on his cloak, and on his belt, any of which can be activated individually at will.

Faoren's Wild Wand of Missiles

Faoren, an extremely creative and chaotic Alphatian mage from Aarogansa, devised the first of these wands as an experiment in chaotic magic. The Wild Wand is an exquisitely carved and filigreed piece of bone from a Brown Dragon's skeleton (any long, straight piece will do; Faoren used various bones from the same skeleton over the years). The command word is the same for every Wild Wand - "Camarisa", who was Faoren's enamorata at the time. Whenever the Wild Wand is activated, it casts one of the following effects (roll d6):-

1 - a normal Magic Missile, damage 2-7 hp.
2 - a bolt which, upon striking the target or reaching a range of 50' (whichever comes first), explodes in a burst of light (equivalent to a Continual Light spell) which persists for three rounds. This effect is stationary if it explodes in mid-air, or mobile if it strikes a target. No damage is suffered by the target. Undead are not aversely affected by this spell.
3 - a bolt which causes blindness in the target for 1-2 hours (1d6+6 turns). No further damage is suffered. A save v. spells applies.
4 - a bolt which, if the target is undead, acts like a Turning attempt from a 6th Level cleric. Non-undead are not affected by this spell.
5 - a bolt which stuns the target for 5-8 (1d4+4) rounds. Undead are not affected by this spell.
6 - a double-strength Magic Missile (4 -14 hp). This has an effective range half that of a standard missile (75'), and fades away if it reaches the limit of its range.

Each wand can contain a maximum of 45 charges; if found, an individual wand will have 20-25 (1d6+19) charges remaining. They can be recharged. Faoren made six of these wands before he died; two remain in the hands of his former apprentice, Rumael. The remaining four are currently lost.

NB: Rumael, unlike his master, is a Lawful, logical, mathematically-inclined individual. He devised a formula - Rumael's Theorem - which can accurately predict the sequence of bolts produced by a Wild Wand, given examination of at least three consecutive blasts from any particular wand. This formula is so esoteric, however, that few others can understand it, let alone employ it.

Rumael later used effects produced by the Wild Wand as a template for the following spells:-

Rumael's Missile Spell Collection:

Rumael's Turnbolt
Level: 2
Range: 150'
Duration: 1 round
Effect: 1 bolt (+1 per 6 levels)
This spell creates a shimmering arrow which, if fired at an undead, acts as a Turn attempt from a Cleric one level lower than the Wizard who casts it - at its lowest, as a 2nd-level Cleric. The maximum Turn level granted is 6th (for a 7th-level Wizard). An additional bolt is gained at 8th level, and again at 14th level, for a total of 3. Multiple bolts may be cast at different targets (note: the Turning effect applies ONLY to the single undead struck by the bolt), or at the same target, in which case additional bolts boost the Turning level by one per extra bolt (2=7th level, 3=8th level). This spell is experiencing a minor vogue amongst Glantrian mages, since it provides them with one of the major clerical advantages in a land where clerics are not permitted. The spell is now on the curriculum at the Great School of Magic.

Level: 2
Range: 50'
Duration: 1 round (and see below)
Effect: 1 bolt
This spell creates a glowing arrow which may be fired in any direction to a range of 50' (or until it strikes an obstacle, whichever comes first); unlike the other spells in this collection, it does not automatically hit a living target. Upon impact, or at the limit of its range, the arrow explodes in a flash of light equivalent to a Continual Light spell, which remains for 3 rounds before fading. A bolt which strikes a moving target will be centred on it, and will move as it does; otherwise, the light will be stationary. Unlike a Light spell, a Flare missile cannot be used to blind a target. This spell has found various uses amongst war parties and armies, as it can be used to signal location, to provide clear sight of an enemy, or to frighten away night-dwelling creatures (goblins, kobolds etc). The light has no adverse effects on undead such as vampires. It is believed that Rumael has created, or is in the process of creating, a high-level version of this spell which generates light equivalent to sunlight, but this may simply be rumour.

Rumael's Stunbolt
Level: 2
Range: 150'
Duration: 1 round
Effect: 1 bolt (+1 per 5 levels)
This spell creates a softly-glowing arrow which, upon striking its target, stuns the victim for 5-8 (1d4+4) rounds (saving throw vs. spells applies). During this period, the victim is unable to fight, cast spells, or defend him/herself. The caster gains an additional bolt every five levels after 3rd (at 8th, 13th, etc). These may be fired at separate foes, or at one target - additional strikes lower the saving throw by -1 per bolt after the first. Duration is not affected, no matter how may bolts strike the target. This spell has seen increasing use in quelling brawls in Alphatian towns, and has proved useful to monster-hunters who wish to bring their prey back alive and unharmed.

Rumael's Sightblinder
Level: 2
Range: 150'
Duration: 1 round
Effect: 1 bolt (+1 per 5 levels)
This spell creates a brilliantly-glowing arrow which, upon striking its target, causes blindness in the target for 1-2 hours (1d6+6 turns). A saving throw vs. spells applies. The caster gains an additional bolt every five levels after 3rd (at 8th, 13th, etc). These may be fired at separate foes, or at one target - additional strikes extend the duration by 2 turns per bolt. A separate saving throw must be made for each missile striking the target. Like the Stunbolt, above, this spell is useful for vanquishing an opponent without causing lasting damage. A higher-level variant is currently being researched which can temporarily negate the gaze-attacks of certain monsters, such as Medusae, Basilisks, Nuckalavees, etc.