• Kenny Webb

Item: Magus Opus


A heavy tome bears a leather imprint of a feathered quill encircled with elaborate flourishes. The tome’s cover is further decorated with bejeweled, gold corners. The book bears the title, “LOREM IPSUM,” and wisps of a magic aura around the book spells out the words “dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt.”
Art by John MarkS.

 

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Title: Magus Opus

Short description: A worn leatherbound tome. It feels comfortable and familiar in the hand, as if it were a childhood favorite. The pages, however, are blank.

Flavor text on the card: You see, I always envisioned the heroine of the novel through the lens of Tarvonian treatments of determinist chrono-quantism. I’m sorry, what was the question?

Expanded flavor text: Um, ah, yes. Well. The idea for the book came when I was on holiday from the Academy on the Crown Coast of Tarvon. I seem to recall a cold sea under a slate gray sky, the foam crashing on the teeth of the rocks, formed and formless at once. And then, in my mind’s eye, I saw her. You see, I always envisioned the heroine of the novel through the lens of Tarvonian treatments of determinist chrono-quantism. I’m sorry, what was the question? No, no. No. I currently have no plans for a sequel.

Tags: wondrous, very rare, single use (requires attunement)


When you use the Opus, choose:

  • a theme,

  • a language,

  • and a title.

The pages are filled with a novel of sublime beauty, based on the chosen theme, written in the chosen language, titled as you chose, and authored (apparently) by you.


You are able to talk about the novel at length, as though you actually wrote it. The book magically appears on shelves everywhere.


However, your own writing skills are unchanged.


Cost: 1,000 gp


GM Tip

As the GM, you should make it clear to your players how far you will allow the powers of the Magus Opus to extend. At its most powerful, the Opus lets the user effectively rewrite history in a small way, suddenly earning themselves fame across the land, at least among people who would have reasonably read the book.


To tone down the power a bit, the book magically appears on bookshelves everywhere and the user seems to be the author, but it will ultimately require roleplaying, dice rolls, and the GM’s judgment to decide if any NPCs are really impressed.


 

Designer notes: Kenny Webb


Writing, am I right? It’s the worst, and we all know it. Synonyms, dangling modifiers, prepositional phrases, gerunds, Oxford commas—who needs all that? Skip the drudgery and go straight to the transcendental work of art of your dreams.


Some of my very favorite magic items almost function as puzzles. I love getting an off-the-wall relic and trying to figure out some way to make it useful. The best versions of these items-as-puzzles are the ones that, once you crack the code, open up endless possibilities for creative storytelling. I decided that the Magus Opus should fall into this category.

That said, I’ve included below some ideas for those with writer’s block.


Playing by the Book


As presented in the card, the Magus Opus allows you to instantly become the author of a best-selling novel. That word is important; you suddenly find yourself a famous author of a work of fiction. And while your bank account and your writing abilities remain unchanged, that doesn’t mean you can’t find incredible uses for the Opus. For example, you could try the following:

  • Appeal to an NPC in order to get in their good graces. Imagine: you’re trying to sway the vote of a snooty member of the Shadow Council who fancies themselves a sommelier. What better way to get on their good side than revealing that you are indeed the famously reclusive author of The Vintage Time Forgot?

  • Instantly build a reputation. Sometimes you just want to roll into a settlement and get the royal treatment, even if you haven’t quite deserved that yet. Imagine: you land on a small backwater moon with a small population. Their one claim to fame is that their humble celestial sphere served as the setting for the folk holo-novel, One With the Dark. And wouldn’t you know it, the famed author has returned seeking inspiration for the sequel, Two With the Dark. The starstruck populace will spare no expense in making the author and their entourage comfortable.

  • Play as a trump card against a rival bard. Bards are often challenged to duels of creative talent. Let your nemesis toot their own horn all they want (literally and figuratively). Blow them away with the dramatic reveal that you are indeed the author of Tears of the Tuba.


Going off Book


With a few modifications to the Magus Opus, you can really open up the possibilities. Namely, you can replace “novel” with “book.” Wow a demonic chef with the cookbook you authored. Learn to pick locks with the how-to guide you penned. Pick up a new language with the book you wrote in that language.


This version of the Opus works as printed on the card but is considerably more powerful; it can be used to create any type of book, not just a novel. You can adjust it using one of the following templates:

  • Powerful, but for a short duration

  • The effects of this item only last for 8 hours.

  • Any skills, knowledge, languages, or other benefits gained from the Opus fade after 8 hours.

  • Powerful, but rare and expensive

  • Any skills, knowledge, languages, or other benefits gained from the Opus last indefinitely.

  • This version of the Magus Opus is legendary instead of very rare, and it costs 50,000 gp.


“You Wrote This??”


There’s nothing stopping your PCs from using the Magus Opus in the middle of an interaction or encounter, which might raise the eyebrows of NPCs. To borrow an example from above, how did the pretentious self-proclaimed sommelier not realize they were talking to the author of the best-selling novel The Vintage Time Forgot?


There are a few approaches here. By design, the effect of the item is magical. To continue the sommelier example above, a blank look washes over the sommelier as the spell sets in. They blink a few times, then start blustering profuse apologies while pulling out their finest vintage to toast their famous guest.


However, if your game or your tastes don’t allow for this sudden change in how the NPCs see the user of the Opus, you can instead suggest that the PC wrote the novel under a pseudonym. If an NPC questions the truth of such a claim, you can remind the player that they can talk at great length about the book as though they actually wrote it, which should easily verify the claim in addition to opening some fun roleplaying possibilities.


 

A quick note on how we approach 5e: Occasionally you might see statistics and other choices we make in our publications that make you say, “Huh. I wonder why they did it that way?”You can check out this page dedicated to explaining how we approach 5e.

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