A Ring of Character
Copyright Robert Wenner ©2001
Edited by Lowell R. Matthews for The Guild Companion
The Ring of R'Wenn
This ring is a magical artifact made by the great Alchemist R'Wenn many years ago. R'Wenn intended to dedicate the Ring to the Demon Lord Nuur, his patron, but near the end of the creation process a fatal error killed the Alchemist. The Ring was left with far less power than R'Wenn intended (though the remainder was substantial), and Nuur quickly lost interest in both the Ring and his late disciple.
The Ring of R'Wenn, itself very intelligent, does not know the truth of its origins, as its memories do not reach back to this time. As it is not a living being, it often lacks a sense of sensibility. Religion or feelings of any kind are beyond its scope. For game purposes, the Ring does not get background options or hobbies. It also has no soul; that is, its intelligence is purely artificial, a construct of Essence.
The Ring of R'Wenn must depend on another's body, that which wears the Ring. It uses the wearer's perceptions to explore the world, and after some years of learning, it tries to control its wearer. For game purposes, assume that these first years of learning have passed and the Ring of R'Wenn is ready to control a body with which it can go on adventures.
If the Ring controls a wearer, the following rules are used. If the Ring does not control a wearer, it may not use any physical skills (i.e., that would normally require a body for use).
When calculating the skill rank bonus for a physical skill, the lower of the Ring's and the wearer's rank and stat bonus are used. This reflects the fact that knowledge (i.e., training) as well as physical capabilities (i.e., muscles) are required to perform a specific action. When advancing a level the Ring may increase any of these two ranks.
Physical skills are especially Perception skills (tied to the body's sensory organs) and all skills involving AG, ST, QU, or CO.
The Ring may use all of its mental skills without modifications, when being worn as well as when not being worn, independent of whether or not the Ring has or controls the wearer.
When the Ring controls its wearer, these guidelines apply: The skill rank bonuses of mental skills remain those of the Ring, as its command overlay hides the wearer's mental activity and uses its own. Consequently, the Ring has no access to the wearer's thoughts and knowledge (memories, spell lists, secrets, languages, etc.).
While the Ring does not (try to) control its wearer, it can read the wearer's surface thoughts. It cannot read the wearer's feelings or deeper memories, only what the wearer is actively thinking. Every hour, the wearer gets a RR; when he makes the RR by more than 20, the Ring is prevented from listening for an hour. Otherwise, the wearer has an uneasy feeling of being watched.
The Ring may not use magical items that work mentally, e.g., no spell adders or multipliers are allowed. Magical weapons or garments may be normally worn and used by the wearer whether or not controlled by the Ring.
The Ring character may learn spells as usual, but it may only use these spells while controlling a wearer. The only standard exception to this restriction is the "Wearer Mastery" special spell list. Alternatively, the GM may allow the Ring a 50 ESF rating for casting spells while not controlling a wearer.
Magic directed against the Ring and its wearer normally affects only the wearer, but spells may be cast explicitly at the Ring. Spells like Absolution that affect souls will affect the wearer's soul, and his body may die (with normal stat deterioration). The Ring is not hurt by this.
The Ring's Own Magical Abilities
Whether or not the Ring of R'Wenn has any magical abilities to lend to its wearer, other than those imparted by its own knowledge, is best decided by the GM. It will likely have a few such abilities typical of enchanted rings, such as bonuses to DB, RR's, or skills; spell addition or PP multiplication; or relatively low-level embedded spells, either Permanent or At Will. For example, the GM might declare the Ring to be, upon first inspection (i.e., Attunement), a simple ring of Presence (at will).
Poison, Drugs, and Sleep
Poisons and drugs do not affect the Ring, but do affect the wearer, so they can possibly interfere with the Ring's control over the wearer.
The Rings does not grow tired, but the wearer does (as quantified by Exhaustion Points). When the wearer is asleep, the ring has a –75 modifier to Perception rolls and may not use physical activities. The Ring can awaken its wearer from natural sleep at will.
Taking on a New Body
The Ring knows the "Wearer Mastery" list to the level appropriate to its advancement, and its spells can be used to manipulate a new wearer. As is typical for intelligent magic items, once the wearer puts on the Ring, a Will Contest (see the Rolemaster Companion (I)) is used to determine, who controls whom. After the Ring is in full control of its new wearer, it has a –30 on all physical skills for one week, then –20 for the second week, and finally –10 for the third week. This reflects the time the Ring needs to acclimate itself to the new wearer. The penalty may be reduced by extensive training; every Absolute Success result on a Moving Maneuver reduces the penalty by one.
Destruction of the Ring
The Ring may be destroyed by magic, chaos, divine intervention, or by extreme heat (e.g., dropping it into a volcano). If the wearer's body is completely destroyed by a critical strike (e.g., a 100E Heat critical), the Ring is entitled to a separate RR at –50; failure means destruction.
Playing the Ring
The Ring of R'Wenn character should be played by an experienced role-player. Number crunchers would tend to abuse the powers of the Ring to get the best character, thus the Ring will no longer be special.
Game balance is maintained by the restrictions applied to the Ring. It cannot switch to a new wearer just to have fun, or to gain information, as it cannot immediately control the new wearer or access his memories. The old wearer may not be available when the Ring wants to return to him. It also cannot switch wearers frequently as it will lose skill rank bonuses. Furthermore, there is always the chance the Ring will disable itself. If it underestimates the new wearer, it might easily find itself trapped in a level 50 Alchemist's laboratory or rotting in the king's treasure room. Hobbits on their way to Mordor are also inappropriate wearers....