© Lowell R. Matthews 1999


The most powerful and potentially dangerous magical constructions are those that literally have minds of their own. It is possible to give intelligence to any permanent or rechargeable item.

There are several reasons for making intelligent items, but two common goals are (1) to allow the item to cast spells to aid its user when he is otherwise occupied or incapacitated, and (2) to allow the item to cast spells which the user cannot. Most intelligent items also protect themselves and punish would-be users whose goals conflict with theirs. The first intelligent sword was probably made by an Alchemist who wanted to give a non-spell-using friend the benefits of spells while he was busy fighting. Another possibility is that the Alchemist wanted to give his friend complex spells beyond the friend's comprehension or Attunement ability.

Intelligent items differ from living creatures mainly because their primal drives (food, water, oxygen, safety, reproduction, etc.) are vastly changed: they (usually) do not need normal nourishment, do not need to breathe, and cannot reproduce. The energy which living creatures spend to meet these needs is usually redirected into strength of purpose. This factor is one source of the purity of alignment and actions that most intelligent items exhibit, and is also a part of the item's willpower. Another source of purity of purpose is the frequent use of geas-type magic in the item's creation to ensure future devotion to the creator's objectives.

AI by Alchemical Enchantment

The artificial intelligence created by the Empathy and Intelligence spells from the Alchemist base list "Enchanting Ways" is precisely that, artificial. It is "soulless" magical energy, an Essence construct of relatively limited mental ability. Once the creator gives the AI its final instructions, however detailed, it is complete. In general, such AI's are incapable of learning or adapting to new situations except in the most rudimentary ways; nevertheless, this type of item is by far the most common intelligent item, because it is the easiest to construct and control. However, superior AI's have willpower to match, so they can easily dominate a weak-willed user even though their creativity is limited.

AI by Transferring Rituals

These three types of alchemical magic rituals differ from alchemical enchantment in that they use previously existent intelligence rather than create it from magical energy.

Soul Transfer

These intelligent items are manufactured by a ritual that transfers a soul or spirit from a living creature into the item. Transferees are almost always willing participants—what creator wants to make an intelligent item with a grudge against him? Volunteers for soul transferal are usually persons (probably former adventurers) suffering from old age, irreparable injury, disease, etc. Soul-transfer items naturally have the personality, characteristics, knowledge, and spell-casting abilities of the occupant, including the ability to learn and to advance in experience level (although usually at a fraction of the normal rate). If magics unfamiliar to the transferee are imbedded into the item, he must learn to control them. Soul-transfer items are frequently able to transfer their occupant's skills to their user.

A somewhat riskier soul transfer involves the creation of a clone of the maker or purchaser and then transferring that soul to the item. When done properly, this produces an item with the personality, memories (to the point of separation), alignment, and loyalties of the person cloned; such an item would have near-absolute loyalty to the person cloned. However, if not done properly, or if the clone succumbs to insanity, the result could well be the opposite of the desired outcome.

Soul Transfer by Invocation

The Powers can provide souls under their control, including both sapient and lesser creatures, and the deceased or unborn. The Power must be contacted directly, with all the inherent risks of that procedure. If the Power agrees with the creator, he will place a soul into the item. Although this procedure can be riskier and costlier than the normal soul transfer process, the souls delivered are frequently superior in total mental ability, and do not need to be geased to remain faithful to their alignment and the creator's purposes. In fact, they are probably more devoted and infallible than the creator!

Personal Power Transfer

Another source of intelligence is the creator himself. He can give an item intelligence by implanting a portion of his own life-force into it. This procedure is extremely costly and dangerous, but can be very rewarding as well. Through a ritual, which will be left for the individual referee to detail but which should probably include Lord Research, the creator implants a large portion of his life-force (either half or one quarter of both experience levels and life energy levels, rounding up) and creates an item with intelligence equal to his own (for half his levels) or three quarters of his own, rounding down (for one quarter of his levels).

In addition to gaining an absolutely loyal item with the normal capabilities given to an item by its intelligence, such a personal power transfer is an investment (possibly a risky one). Naturally, such an extreme loss of experience and life-force will handicap the creator severely, mandating at least three months of vacation. After that time, the creator can begin to acclimate himself to the item, so that he begins regaining the power he lost (a rate of one level per month or two months seems appropriate). He will eventually surpass his old levels of life energy and experience, gaining power equal to the number of levels originally sacrificed. Of course, if the item is lost the creator drops back to the level he should have after the sacrifice, so these items are usually rings or other items that are difficult to lose, and are frequently disguised as innocent items. Furthermore, if the item is destroyed (a difficult process), the maker will lose twice the number of invested levels, which will be fatal if he drops to level 0 or below. These items will seek to return to their creators if lost, or fulfill their goals if return is not possible, and will use their influence on any new user to meet this end. They also give power in proportion to the power of the user, equal to half his level. Thus, a ring created by a level 30 spell-user will make him level 45, but would only increase a level 2 user to level 3, and the item's other abilities would be rationed in a similar manner.


Lady Galwen the Golden
  full ¾
SD 75 56
Me 95 71
Re 100 75
Pr 75 56
Em 100 75
In 95 71
Lady Galwen the Golden, level 28 Magician, and her friend Cardinal John Whitechapel, level 25 Cleric, discover the personal power transfer ritual and desire to forge rings of power. Galwen will have to sacrifice 14 levels to create an intelligence equal to her own or 7 levels to create an intelligence three-quarters of her own; John must give up 13 or 7 respectively.
Cardinal John Whitechapel
  full ¾
SD 98 74
Me 100 75
Re 90 68
Pr 98 74
Em 90 68
In 100 75
Both decide to proceed, with Galwen going first so John can protect her. During the ritual, Galwen defines her ring's desired abilities, taking the appropriate steps to achieve them (determined by the referee). At the conclusion of the ritual, she sacrifices 14 experience levels and 4 life-energy levels, dropping to levels 14 and 3, respectively. Galwen is incapacitated for the next three months, but can then begin to learn to use her ring. After three more months, when Galwen is effectively level 17, John sacrifices 13 and 4 levels, dropping to levels 12 and 4, respectively, and is incapacitated for three months. With time, Galwen's mastery of her ring increases; she will return to level 28 after 11 more months (17 months total). At that point, she has completely mastered her ring's magical abilities. Afterwards, her learning curve slows to one level per two months; nevertheless, in 28 more months she will be effectively level 42 (original level 28 + 14 levels invested). It will take John 13 months to reach his old level and another 26 to reach his effective level 38. Both of them may continue to advance and will be 14 or 13 levels higher than they were before their sacrifice and 28 or 26 levels higher than they should be as long as they keep their rings. If either creator makes further sacrifices of power into his ring, it can increase in magical capability and level bonus, but it can never increase in mental capacity. If either ring were to be destroyed, the maker would be killed unless he had advanced sufficient levels since making the ring.

Of course, the classic literary example of this procedure is Sauron forging the One Ring in J. R. R. Tolkien's works, although Sauron was a supernatural creature and therefore his ring contained vast power (about 120 levels). In appearance it was a simple gold ring, but its destruction destroyed so much of Sauron's power and works that he was forever after unable to assume physical form, even though he had gained power over the 3,000 years since he lost it.