After speaking of inventions, today it’s the time of strange relics in Mystara you may find and use in your campaigns and unusual materials and the rules to craft them! There are some sources, we will indicate them along the way, a part for the usual ones: Rules Cyclopedia (RC, as a compendium of basic D&D rules) and PC2 – Top Ballista (TB) and the AC11 – The Book of the Wondrous Inventions (BWI), for Gnomes and inventions.

Blackmoorabilia: a power armor or an alien robot?

Blackmoorabilia: a power armor or an alien robot?


This is not a neologism, but a “paleologism” from PC2 – Top Ballista, one of my favorite D&D products: two Sphinxes collected remnants from Blackmoor, one thousand years ago from the present time (around AC 1000) and they participated to the first flight of the city of Serraine. It was the start of the small community of Sphinxes in Serraine. Who knows what they have collected by now? Given the very long life of these creatures, many centuries at least, it is not impossible that the first two Sphinxes are still alive and living in the same place, after a thousand years …

Many info about Blackmoor can be found in “Supplement II – BLACKMOOR” by Dave L. Arneson, “DA1 – Adventures in Blackmoor” by Dave L. Arneson and David J. Ritchie and other such classical tomes (see our discussion about Blackmoor here and previous and later posts).

Most of Blackmoor relics are too damaged to even understand their ancient use, old instructions can be altered by magic to not let people read them (the same idea is in a Gnomish runic script in Falun caverns in the GAZ7 – The Northern Reaches) so, even if intact, because preserved in old abandoned Blackmoor bases or summer houses of rich Blackmoor noblemen, it is difficult that even a gnome can make them work again. There are a few notable exceptions: probably a small generator could be used still today – it’s what they did for Serraine anyway and it was a big antigravity generator too! An energy weapon does not require a big knowledge to fire (see in Glantri, GAZ3 – The Principalities of Glantri, a certain weapon of Prince Von Drachenfels, for instance…), but if you want a more stable energy source, you could try to incorporate it into a magically powered gnomish invention: a ray gun could substitute a crossbow in a Top Ballista new experimental aircraft, reducing a bit the magical “fuel” with use, without unbalancing the game. Even so it is almost impossible that the gnomes are able to copy even the simplest Blackmoor inventions, but they could try and make it work, in another way, a few of them. Also, it is possible that Garl Glittergold, the patron Immortal of the Gnomes, prefer to include such powerful and old inventions in the Relics of the Gnomes: we discuss about this possibility in a future post!

Let’s also remember that the real alien technology behind the Beagle spaceship was never fully understood by Blackmoor humans, nor shared by the aliens: Blackmooreans had protective suits, force fields and laser weapons, by a mix of technology and magic, but not robots and spaceships like the aliens.

They also had several magical weapons, many of them not so different from today, but some other objects, like magical pearls, were quite unusual: of different colors and giving a bonus to different Classes, these pearls would be very valuable today! They could be identified like today objects, since they were purely magical. Silver pearls were non-magical but very valuable too: a very beautiful silver pearl, could be sold even for 100000 gp (like a big perfect tristal), and nowadays, with the added rarity and historical value, it would be worth even ten times more …

Quite more “common” should be scraps of metal … it may seem not so interesting but Blackmoor developed a lot of powerful alloys: the best ones were partly magical, partly technological, like for many things at the peak of the Blackmoorean society. The aliens taught them some of their secrets, but not all: they even had stronger alloys, but nothing magical!

We will discuss a bit more of these alloys and relics later on, in CRAFTING MATERIALS and next post.

Many of these technological or mystic relics are very nice as plot devices: for instance, the robots in the Beagle, the Meks, the golem-like robots of the Oards (from CM6 module), the “fake” automata of the Blacklore Vale and those of the Nithian Artificers in Hollow World and so on.

A nice idea – your players will love you for that – would be to let the PCs hear in Serraine of a very useful relic from Blackmoor and make them chase it for half of the Brun continent till they find the traces of a Sphinx in Ylaruam desert … only that he/she is not there but in her other house, in the Flying City of Serraine obviously! And the Relic is there too, collecting dust for a few centuries on a shelf of the, very bizarre, gothic cathedral-house of the Sphinxes.



For clarity and to not mix different things we put here some rules about invention properties in different than usual materials (iron, wood, leather, common glass and alloys and so on); for all the definitions (e.g. +1 materials, Saving Throws of objects, …; please refer to CRAFTING MATERIALS, later on).

Very simply and quickly:

  • materials modifications (check the next table) on to hit/damage and AC bonuses of inventions are the same of weapons/armors;
  • +0 (magical) materials give +25% hps/Hull points (if you use them) to inventions, +1 gives +50% and +2 gives +100%; off course only if the material is significantly present on the invention
  • also +0 material inventions start from -5% PF% (see the previous post); +1 start from -10% (and subtract -1% to every PF% roll); +2 start from -20% (and subtract -2% to every PF% roll)
  • +1 materials give a 5 Damage Reduction against all damage; +2 gives 10
  • high ST against a certain damage can give, in addition, a higher Damage Reduction: e.g. a red dragon skin covered hot-air balloon has damage resistance 5 against all damage (maybe except Cold if you wish) and 15 versus Fire only.

So a mostly Red Steel (see later) walker with 18 Hull Points would have 90 hps (72 for a steel one; see previous post) and starts from PF% = -5%. An Adamantite one would have 144 hp, starts from -20% and have a Damage Reduction of 10.



Here some ideas to use “strange” materials in D&D, with the legend after the table and notes and bibliography, as usual, at the end (some are quite important, please check them). Iron and leather are only there for comparison of time and cost. The costs are for characters already able to work the materials by themselves (and having adequate tools / workshops), if they have to search for a suitable smith with the needed knowledge, the price rises! All the materials in the table are in one or another book of Mystara! For reasons of space we will not fully describe them, you have to wait the next post “All the crafting materials of Mystara.”

Note: these materials are for a better roleplay experience, in my opinion, not (only) for “bigger” magical items and they should not proliferate: DMs must be careful not to unbalance their own game!

Material Cost Time Know. Enc. AC object ST mod. To Hit bonus AC bonus Magical Res. Special
Iron 1 1 Smi. 100% 19 +0%
Steel [1] 2-3 1,25-2x Smi. 90% 19 +0%
Ironwood 1-50 2x Woo. 50% 19 -1 Fi., +1 Co. +0 +0 [5] [6]
Glassteel 5 2x Gla. 50% 19 -1 Fi./Co.; +2 Li./Ac. +0 +0 [5] [6]
Red Steel 10 3x Smi. [2] 50% 19 +1; +3 Li. [3] +0 +0 +4% [7]
Meteoric Iron +1 * 3x enc. Smi. + Met. 150% 21 +2 +1 +0 -4% [8]
Mithril [11] +2 * 4x enc. Smi. + Met. 100% 21 +3 +1 +1 +8% [8] [9]
Adamantite [11] +3* 5x enc. Smi. + Met. 100% 23 +4 +2 +2 +10% [8]
Leather 1 1 Lea. 100% 11 -6%
Dragon Skin +1 * 2x enc. Lea. (+ Hun.) 100% 19 +2 [4] +1 +2% [10]



– Cost: cost to buy the material and build the object, respect to the same, bought and made of iron or leather. In some cases, you may consider steel the reference material but it should not be in a Middle Age world. The cost for Ironwood and Glassteel is for people knowing the necessary enchantments, if not, the price rises. For Ironwood the quality of the wood determines the cost. A * indicates that the material is never available for sell. The +1, +2, +3 indicate that to prepare the object the cost is the same than to enchant it as per the bonus (see GAZ3 – The Principalities of Glantri). The cost includes having all the knowledge and workshop needed.

– Time: to realize the object; 2x indicate double the time for an iron/leather object; 2x enc. double of the time to enchant an object with the indicated bonus (see Cost column.) Keep in mind that some of these times are really very long in PH 5e, like 100 days of off-time to produce a plate armor: it seems frankly too much. Adapt the times as it suits your campaign or use the indications below.


An iron sword may cost 10 gp and require 1 day to produce (Cost/Time only as reference scale.)

An ebony sword enchanted with Ironwood could cost 200 gp (exotic wood) and require 2 days while a Red Steel one cost 100 gp and requires 3 days.

And a Mithril one? [Yes Mithril DOES exist in Mystara, see our next post “All the crafting materials of Mystara.”] I give you two possibilities, or decide otherwise:

  • I look to Rules Cyclopedia and GAZ3 tables and rules (pag. 64-67). I look the encumbrance (60 cn) for a +2 iron sword and the base cost (10 gp). The base cost of the enchantment is 10 x 60 x 5 = 3000 gp; for the +2 I need 6000 gp and 7 (a base week) + 6 (6000/1000) = 13 days. For a Mithril sword I need 13 x 4 = 52 days. A bit complicated, but I used to think that the times were quite correct: with the 5e stats everything seems to work quicker so if we simply apply the same method to the tables in Player’s Handbook (longsword: 15 gp and 3 lbs) we have: 15 x 3 x 5 = 225 gp, 500 gp for a +2 and 7 + 1 = 8 days. For a Mithril one we have 8 x 4 = 32 days. A day can easily become a Long Rest. Cheaper in time/cost but still not bad.
  • Like 1) but we multiply the base cost by 10, like 2250, then 4500 for a +2, 7 + 5 = 12 days. The Mithral would take 12 x 4 = 48 days.

For a meteoric iron one (old Rules Cyclopedia data) I need 30 days; 80 for an adamantite one. For a dragon armor it’s 10000 gp and 20 days.

So you see? You can still do something with money in D&D 5e!

If you make an enchanted weapon/armor of a strange material the costs/times should be added: a +3 Leather Armor is 3*3000 = 9000 gp and requires 7 + 9 = 16 days; a dragon leather armor +3 requires 10000 + 9000 = 19000 gp and a time of 20 +16 = 36 days.

NOTE: a day can easily become a Long Rest.

– Knowledge: what you need to know to work the material:

  • : use of the Smith’s tools
  • : use of the Woodcarver’s tools
  • : use of the Glassblower’s tools
  • + Met.: use of the Smith’s tools AND a specific Metallurgic knowledge for the rare material (or a long, VERY costly research). Or access to a Forge of Power of the Dwarfs (in a future post about Demihuman Relics).
  • (+ Hun.): use of the Leatherworker’s tools AND knowledge of hunting or skinning to take off the skin from a dragon body.

– Enc.: encumbrance of an object respect to the corresponding of iron or leather.

– AC object: the AC to be used for object damages (DM guide, pag 246-7). Enchanted object should have higher AC, if it is possible to damage them at all.

– St. mod.: modifications to the ST of the object (with a fixed Stat value e.g. +4). Fi. Fire, Co. Cold, Li. Lightning and Ac. Acid. We suggest, for high bonuses to also give a good damage reduction, for objects only. This is in case you use a ST for object damage: e.g. a fireball against a red dragon leather curtain should not do a lot of damage, the reason being the +6 to ST (if this is not enough for you can double the bonus) and you can give a 15 damage reduction. Even if not physically as strong as a hard steel door, it would resist better. If you don’t use ST for objects you could consider to give at least a damage reduction: in this case the dragon skin (+2 ST, +6 vs Fire) will have something like damage resistance 5 against all damage (maybe except Cold if you wish) and 15 versus Fire only.

– Hit bonus: bonus to Hit/Damage of a weapon, even if not enchanted. You could consider to keep the bonus damage for an enchanted weapon. For instance, the difference between a +2 Steel sword and a +2 Mithril sword (both enchanted) is that the to hit/damage bonuses are +2/+2 for the first and +2/+4 for the second. Ironwood, Glassteel and Red Steel weapons can be considered magical +0 for the purpose of damaging monsters; Meteoric Iron and Mithril ones are like +1; Adamantite +2.

– AC bonus: bonus to AC of an armor of that material. A non-enchanted Adamantite Plate Mail has AC 21 instead of 18 and it is detected as magical: a +3 one has AC 24. A Red Steel chain mail armor is still considered magical with a +0 bonus.

– Magical Research: bonus to magically enchant the materials (tables in GAZ3 pag. 64-67): it stops to +6% but Mithril and Adamantite are out of scale materials.

NOTE: the creation of such object could also give experience points (DM choice).

Many materials, many different shields!

Many materials, many different shields!


  1. Steel objects can have some minor advantages vs iron ones, weight, resistance to wear, hits, corrosion: they could have a +1 to ST vs some natural harms and when used against iron objects (+1 AC, a bit more hps, for objects only). There are in fact many kind of steel, some are rightly famous, like the high carbon content Ylaruam steel (from GAZ2 – Emirates of Ylaruam). You can restrict the use of steel weapons/armors to the place that know it’s use (or dwarf settlements and so on), with advantages for security (stronger than iron doors, lockpicking penalties for thieves and so on) but very few for personal equipment, unless with mechanisms: crossbows, inventions, … It could slightly reduce the PF% of inventions (see our post GNOMES AND TECHNOLOGY – Second part): every time you get PF points through a roll (e.g. 1d4), you apply a -1 to the roll. As always the minimum is 1 and if you get a fixed number (so a 2 instead of a 1d4) you do not reduce it.
  2. There is no + Met. for Red Steel but you need anyway precise info from a smith of the Savage Coast.
  3. Red Steel has +1 to ST and +3 against Lightning (it is not a well conducting metal).
  4. Dragon skin had an additional +4 to ST on his element: a red dragon skin has +6 vs Fire.
  5. The bonus depends on the quality: for wood from -2% (common wood) to +2% (precious or worked); glass is typically like common stone (-4%) but a very pure crystal or valuable or well worked could be +0% or even +2% (maybe for 10-100 x cost).
  6. The cost for Glassteel and Ironwood objects is more for the work: it is unusual to create glass or wood weapons, few people know how to do it.
  7. A Red Steel weapon protects the wearer of minor electrical damages (e.g. not Lightning Bolt spell but it could halve the lightning damage from a Staff of Thunder and Lightning or protect from an electricity trap). A Red Steel armor, enchanted with Polymorph Self can change the form to follow the change of shape of the wearer (like an Inheritor with a shapechanging Legacy; not Druid-like transformations). Six-shooter darts cause +1 damages and have +10′ ranges (in the Cimarron 6-shooter if you know it).
  8. Interesting things in the post “Always wear your best suit” (Dragon #148, by Gordon R. Menzies), included costs of Plating, Engraving and Enameling. Another interesting post is: “Fire for Effect!” (Dragons #123, by Richard W. Hemerich).
  9. Meteoric Iron is very special in the sense that it also gives a -10% to the antimagic of the creatures when it hits: Nagpas, Demons, even Immortals! It is only for the purpose of hitting but it is conceivable to use it in a certain area to fight this kind of Powers. It is quite difficult to work with magic for this reason: the -4% for Magical Research is not a typo. The only exception (that is it has a +4%, not a -4%) is if you want to enchant it with antimagic properties, e.g. a meteoric iron plate could be enchanted to give a 10% of antimagic to the wearer …
  10. We suggest that Dragon skin armors can be enchanted maximum to +1/+2/+3 enchantments for small/large/huge dragons. The armor also has a +1 AC respect to the same leather armor. In additions to this bonus (and of counting as Leather/Light armor), a dragon skin armor gives Resistance to the corresponding Element (e.g. red dragon skin gives Resist Fire).
  11. “Old” but very powerful alloys could be considered the equivalent of other materials: we propose to consider the best Blackmoorean alloys ranging up to Mithril (and magical, at least in part), while the best alien ones ranging up to Adamantite (but not magical at all).

In the next post, “ALL THE CRAFTING MATERIALS OF MYSTARA”, we will describe, well … all the crafting materials of Mystara! Stay tuned.





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