Level of wonder may vary

posted by PurpleXVI Original SA post

The Book of Wondrous Inventions*

*level of wonder may vary

The Book of "Wondrous" "Inventions"

Alright so, much like Grimtooth's Traps, this book basically contains stuff made by players and/or GM's, sent in, compiled and sold. There's not much in the way of original comment or in-character "narration" or anything of that sort, as far as I can tell, the only thing they added from TSR's side was "suggestions" on how to use the various Wondrous Inventions, they may also have been behind the background stories for each, but I'm not sure about that.

For instance, the very first item is a magical sprinkler system. You know, in case your wizard lab catches fire. And they suggest that it can screw over players trying to rob or enter a place silently when it's ticked off by their torches/lanterns and starts howling and spraying water everywhere.

Also as this first item illustrates, every fucking item in this book is literally just a real-world item or appliance dragged into the D&D world by combining items and magic until you have a highly unreliable version that's prone to exploding in your face and would, in a number of cases, actually fit into the Paranoia universe as an R&D department's darling. They're less "inventions," more magic-powered remakes of stuff we already know.

Organization-wise, the book is split into a few distinct sections: Appliances, Constructs, Dungeon Devices, Entertainment, Home/Business, Practical Services, Structures, Transportation and finally Weapons & Warfare.

For each item we get a Definition(short description), History(what traumatic event or debilitating mental illness made someone come up with it), Description(Definition with a bit of crunch), Construction(in case the PC's really want that sprinkler system they can learn that it costs them thousands of gold pieces), Statistics(Yet ANOTHER description, in this case one with more numbers), Functioning(Exactly how it works), Hazards(How this item can fuck over the inventor and anyone within five blocks) and Staging(How the GM can actively use this as a plot hook or to fuck over the players).

I've got a few items I know need to be shown off, but I'm also going to leave you guys with the index:

Then you can tell me if there's anything you REALLY want to know more about.

For the first post, though, I give you Ardraken's Refreshment Simulacrum .

this is the level of creativity we're dealing with

Basically Ardraken, a FANTABULOUS PLANEHOPPING WIZARD, encountered a Coca Cola vending machine on what must've been a visit to Earth(either that or the Coca-Cola Company is expanding into Wildspace...) and somehow this vending machine took silver pieces. Apparently, even for someone used to potions and magic, this was FANCIFUL TECHNOLOGY and Cola was a REFRESHING ELIXIR, so he decided to make an enchanted knockoff for his own homeworld.

Of course, being a fucking idiot, he mistook the vending machine for a living creature and instead of analyzing what Cola was made of or stealing the recipe(you're a fucking wizard, you can do it), he decided to pour spells like Limited Wish, Reincarnation, Simulacrum and/or Create Monster(depending on what exact edition you're using, the book notes) into an oblong metal casket, then pour it full of gems and ice. Resultingly, what he created was less a vending machine and more an asshole construct that hates everyone. You'd be an asshole, too, if you were apparently intelligent and your creator decided to make you without limbs.

50% of the time you pay it, it provides drinks. Bam. Done. The other 50% of the time it refuses to provide anything and either mocks you, "NO DRINKS FOR YOU, SCUM," the book says, is a favourite, or instead provides a drink that Isn't Cola but is instead up to the GM how badly it fucks you over. There's no random table for deciding these Special Drink effects, surprisingly, but the listed effects for the GM to pick from range from "embarrassing acne problem" through "insanity, hit point loss and death."

Also if this pisses off the PC's and they fight it, it can apparently fire canned drinks at them like that possessed soda machine in Maximum Overdrive. Beating it half to death will make it surrender and actually dispense soda, though.

As a side note, apparently you can find canned Cola from these things in markets on Oerth(Greyhawk's setting, most of these things seem to assume we're on Oerth), for 600gp a pop. I can't quite remember what prices are like in 1st edition AD&D, but by 2nd edition AD&D prices that means you could literally live in moderate luxury for the rest of your life just off selling one can of Cola to an adventurer.

There's a taste of what this book contains.

Make some suggestions from the index and we'll get this thing on the road! the book says, is a favourite, or instead provides a drink that Isn't Cola but is instead up to the GM how badly it fucks you over. There's no random table for deciding these Special Drink effects, surprisingly, but the listed effects for the GM to pick from range from

Amazing Machines

posted by PurpleXVI Original SA post

Book of Wondrous Inventions

The Economy Super-Wash Laundromagic II

So you know how in the Flintstones, all "modern" technology is replaced by a primitive analogue powered by dinosaurs? This is the necromantic equivalent: A washing machine analogue powered by skeletons. The History section also assures us that this is the LATEST STEP in WASHING TECHNOLOGY, a step up from having stone golems pound our clothes in a creek, or using water-and-air elementals to wash-and-dry our clothes.

What we've got is essentially a box of skeletons with some buckets of water and some cleaning "chemicals" made from dried-out oozes/jellies and toxic molds. This means that the major "hazard" associated with this particular Wondrous Invention is that if we spill the cleaning stuff on ourselves we may need to see a Cleric. Or you can accidentally fuck up a dress or other delicate clothing by cleaning them on the "armor" program.

Oh and it's also a tumbledrier. How? Literally tumbling . The skeletons put on the gear or clothes they've washed and round around in the wind doing acrobatic backflips until the clothes are dry.

The Staging section actually manages to introduce some relevant plot hooks to this device! Either in its operation(sabotaging it could mess up someone's house with chemicals or misbehaving skeletons) or its construction(someone needs some skeletons of exactly their own height so they can properly tumble-dry their clothes).

Ch'thon's Astral Ball

It's not a Magic 8-Ball, I'm sorry. It's a magical TV.

Again, the history section tells us how some idiot planehopping wizard ended up on Earth and was fascinated by TV's. Considering how many of them seem to stop by Earth on a regular basis, it's surprising that Oerth isn't ass-deep in cruise missiles and off-brand Russian assault rifles by this point.

But anyway, this Magic Cable Ball basically picks up Earth's television programming(though it may occasionally pick up the programming of strange alternate dimensions and universes instead), or occasionally shows a view of the Astral Plane. Of course it wouldn't be a BOWI item if it wasn't intensely hazardous to everyone interacting with it. Firstly, if you poke at the dish or antennae you'll be blasted by a Lightning Bolt(as in the spell which will fuck you up hardcore). And secondly, occasionally, it'll spawn a parallel dimension where the show you're watching is real, and you're at risk of being dragged into it.

Anyone dragged in is compelled to act "in-character"(for instance, in a Western, tropes would force them to pick a side and ride a horse) and isn't released until the plot concludes. Honestly, for a silly D&D game? This thing would be kind of funny.

Staging-wise, we already know what the biggest hook here is.

The Fiendish Exercise Machine of Bardolpho the Mad

Disappointingly this is not actually an exercise machine, though it apparently used to be one before the owner was driven bugfuck insane and refitted it as a torture device. It has a round, chambered shape through which the visitor is yanked by means of chains dragged around by the slaves in the lower section. In "better times" the user was probably dragged through various exercises as fast as possible, now he's just dragged through various tortures.

Of course, gnomes are to blame for this one, but surprisingly no goofy-ass magic is involved.

As it stands, you do get some exercise out of the trip through(and probably a few new holes). The first chamber stretches you out and limbers you up, in the second you must do push-ups to avoid being spiky-crushed, in the third, jumping jacks to avoid slicing blades, then progressing through sit-ups, pull-ups, and finally running on a treadmill that'll fling the victim into a (fake) fire if he doesn't keep up.

Alright so it's probably still an exercise machine, and probably a very, very effective one at motivating the user. Though I have to wonder how they're supposed to do all those exercises while chained so they can be dragged along.

Jaggar's Transforming Gargantoid

(Sadly there's no picture of this one, potentially for copyright reasons)

The History introduces the fact that there's apparently an entire nation on Oerth consisting of nothing but Gnomes and "Alphatians" fighting each other in robots. Magical robots.

"* Description: The invention looks like a huge red and yellow iron man. It can change its shape, altering its four limbs and head to imitate a shark’s fins and snout, or an eagle’s wings, tail and beak. A door not visible from more than 30 feet away opens on the gargantoid’s back, allowing a crew to get inside. Small ladder rungs run from the top of the gargantoid’s head down to its right heel, passing next to the door."

It's 48 feet high, can punch, fly, swim underwater, shoot fireballs and lightning bolts and is generally kind of awesome.

Aside from the INTENDED "hazards" involved in a giant battle robot, it's surprisingly non-dangerous to its users, except that the enchanted diamond reactor core can melt down if it's overstressed.

In the "staging" section we're given some unimpressive-but-functional ways of turning the PC's into a TRANSFORMING GARGANTOID crew, and also suggested that they end up fighting some of these(or getting some of them if they're up against an enemy gargantoid without one of their own):

Dragonflies of Doom, which are basically assault helicopters. It's not visible, but there are Staff of Magic Missiles gun emplacements on the side doors, like machineguns with guided bullets, and the front gun basically hurls Meteors from a Meteor Shower spell, so I guess those are explosive high-caliber rounds.

The Oddwaddle Centipede

It's a bit underwhelming after the name and the others, but this is essentially an all-terrain train. It's got no crazy magical powers, and the biggest hazard is the fact that it doesn't have jack in the way of decent brakes.

I wish there was more to say about it, but there really isn't! Except to say that, once again, gnomes are to blame for making it.

Any more requests for the next time? I'll definitely be handling Saonuihun's Speeding Sphere Game and Brandon's Bard-in-a-Box .

EDIT: Also, despite being compiled by Bruce A. Heard, apparently he's also the author of quite a few of these. Like the Gargantoid and the Dragonfly of Doom.

Attack of the Elven Boombox

posted by PurpleXVI Original SA post

Book of Wondrous Inventions

Attack of the Elven Boombox

Morath's Mobile Manor

Morath's Mobile Manor actually has a kind of amusing background. Once upon a time there was a Morath(shocker), the leader of a people who were driven from their homeland. By some twist of fate, wherever they went, they kept finding someone new who wanted to kill, enslave or eat them. Or all three. So they kept having to keep up a nomadic lifestyle. Morath eventually became frustrated with the combined issues of keeping everyone on the move at the same time, so he invented the Mobile Manor. Apparently an entire population of people built a small armada of these, and cruised around the continent in their medieval campers.

They're basically, as the image suggests, mobile mini-forts, steam-powered(and with steam cannons!) and generally armed to the gills against anything that crawls, flies or swims. It also has an INCREDIBLY 'spergy section on how to determine top speed and how long the fuel supply lasts, to the point that any GM who'd sincerely consider using it would probably be bludgeoned to death by his players with his own bag of dice.

And then the book completely ruins it by informing us that the "Hazards"(aside from the boiler exploding and scalding everyone) include random chances for the damn thing to get irretrievably stuck or break down pretty much at random.

Still, it looks goofy enough to amuse me.

Death Engine

Yet another steam-powered device. It works through the time-honoured function of enslaving an elemental to do your work for you, in this case a fire elemental that's constantly being drenched in water(and is resultingly INCREDIBLY pissed, don't break this thing if you like being alive). It's contained within the sphere on the left, which then channels the steam pressure to power the turret on the right. It's basically a comfortable armchair with the user's choice of weaponry on the front. Apparently the canonically existing ones include a steam-powered repeating crossbow and something called an "ooze cannon."

Staging posted:

* Staging: Characters learn that the great mage Oskar Wyrdsson is offering to share some of his secrets with a group of enterprising adventurers who complete seven tasks for him. One of these tasks is to recover one of his Death Engines, which is now located in a huge Red Dragon’s lair. The Red Dragon’s lair is underground, accessible on through a series of caverns filled with slime and other gross encounters. When the player characters get there, they find Oskar playing poker with a red dragon; he had lent it to the dragon to take care of some greedy adventurers, and needed someone to cart it home for him. (The DM can design six other similar tasks if the players still want to take Oskar up on his wager (which will provide worthless “secrets” such as the color of the princess Daphne’s underwear, etc.)

In another scenario, a prince who hears rumors of rebellion hires the PCs to contact the Eel and acquire his Death Engine. In truth, the prince is trying to usurp his father’s throne. The Eel, knowing this, will not give over the Engine, but believing that the PCs are the evil prince’s agents, lead them into a trapped cavern complex and seal them inside (or into any place filled with traps that suits the DM’s purposes).


The Levelmaker

It doesn't have a picture, so have this eagle

The Levelmaker is one of the more infamous BOWI creations. It involves magical slavery for the sake of turning gems into experience. You take a box, and an anvil, a dwarf and a mage. The box won't argue, because it's a box. The anvil might hate it, but it has no mouth so we don't care. The dwarf is getting paid, and all dwarves are greedy enough to go along with magical slavery for cash(the book basically says so). The mage is the one we're going to need to magically control(or a cleric, we've got options!).

We lock him up in the box with a bunch of skeletons which he animates, then whenever someone slips the dwarf a gem, the user pulls a lever that drops the anvil on the skeleton, pulverizing it and awarding the buyer a few pitiful XP(the dwarf's around to collect the gems and yank the anvil back up into dropping position). You keep this up until the mage/cleric succeeds at a saving throw against the Charm Person you cast on him, and then you're probably good and fucked because you've got a mid-level spellcaster that wants to incinerate you. Better hope you make a good profit before that happens.

If it's a Cleric, though, he doesn't need any Intelligence(which makes his saves against Charm Person more regular), just Wisdom, so the book suggests that we get a magic hat to make him retarded. Yeah, now it's not just magical slavery, now it's magical slavery of retards just to turn earning XP into a profitable industry.


Another adventure possibility occurs when an enemy magic-user has captured one of the player characters and used him or her in the box. Naturally, the PCs will want to go on a rescue mission to save their friend, hut to do this, they must deal with their possibly-charmed friend, perhaps a greedy dwarf, and the Levelmaker's owner: a clever magic-user who has access to lots of experience points and shoeboxes full of gems. Also, most of the local adventurers are likely to team up with the enemy magic-user. Those adventurers want to protect that box. After all, they get experience points from it, too.

Bladderwick's Human Catapult

Sadly it's not as impressive as it could be, it's just a stationary pogo stick with some winches for pulling its string taut. Then when it's wound up, someone mounts it, the spring is released, and they're flung to kingdom come. Predictably it has nothing to ensure that whoever's launched reaches the ground safety, so it's of pretty dubious use.

Saonuihun’s Speeding Sphere Game

It's a fucking magical Pinball machine. So from a physical perspective it doesn't need any more describing, because we know how a Pinball machine functions. History-wise it's equally simple, being made by a mage for the amusement of bored nobles. One-upsmanship, however, resulted in it having a few... extra features. Of the magical kind. The kind that will cause PC's to swear at their GM.

Whoever plays gets a score dependant on how well they roll, and the better their score, the more XP they get! Assuming they survive, because the better the roll, the more powerful a spell the Pinball machine casts against them. It starts out with minor stuff like Web, has a couple of beneficial effects like Invisibility and Blur, oh and then at the top? It can cast Wish. It explains what happens with most of the others, whether the PC is a beneficial recipient or fucked over, but not the Wish. So presumably that's carte blanche for the GM to disintegrate the player.

Aside from the Wish, though(which can only occur if a user has a high Strength), few of the spells are anything that'd prevent you from having another game. So if PC's get their grubby little mitts on one of these, the GM has basically passed them an infinite XP button.

Brandon's Bard-in-a-Box

We can blame elves for this one, as they commissioned it from a senile old mage... then it malfunctioned and killed him. And the elves decided it was a great idea to add it to their parties anyway. Elves are idiots.


The Bard-in-a-Box normally plays relatively local music echoed through the Ether and picked up by the invention: winsome flute and lyre duets, bawdy lute-plucked melodies, and brisk roundelays with drum, pipes and harp. However, at unpredictable intervals (10% chance per use), the type of music played by the Box alters radically. Strange, alien tunes suddenly blare forth at maximum volume. A pounding repetitious heat underlies the harsh, strident tones of unidentifiable instruments; sometimes voices wail in accompaniment, or a single voice shouts forth in an oddly syncopated, compelling chant.

So every 10th time you turn this thing on, essentially, it magically compels everyone in the area to dance with ALIEN TUNES whose description reminds me a bit of trance music. Elves are idiots.


Anyone who fails the saving throw is compelled to dance in an outrageous and alien manner. During the first round, these dancers, bewitched by the perverse music, gather close to the Box and throw their bodies into odd
contortions: their arms flop about and their legs move in no traditional dance step whatsoever. During the second round, each enchanted dancer begins to walk backwards as if blown by the wind, while moving arms and head in a disjointed, mechanical manner.

During the third round, and for each round thereafter, dancers hectically throw themselves to the ground, attempting to spin on their backs or their heads, or flipping their legs through the air while supporting their weight on their arms.

And then you literally have to start making saving throws to avoid breakdancing yourself to death. The damage is somewhat minor, but it's going to stack up quickly when you start reading that there's no reliable way to turn the damn box off, and anyone who's dancing isn't even going to be able to try fiddling with it for the 20% chance/round of making it stop fucking with everyone's heads. Plus if there are more than three dancers, anyone trying to approach the box to mess with it has to make saves to even get past them and avoid being bashed around by them.

Elves are idiots .

Oddly enough it has no Staging ideas for how the hell a GM could shove this into their campaigns.

I wish there was more to say about most of these items, but the amusement for most of them usually stops at the hilarious art they get.

At any rate, last call if anyone wants to see anything out of the index, otherwise I'm going to take one last update with Rahn-Ko's Ranger Fooler and declare the BOWI's amusements to be mined.

Odds & Ends

posted by PurpleXVI Original SA post

Book of Wondrous Inventions

Rahn-Ko's Ranger Fooler

Look at this goofy fucking thing.


Rahn-Ko is a paranoid genius of Chaotic Neutral persuasion, and there is nothing in this world that terrifies him more than the existence of warriors that can track him by his very footprints!

The knowledge that this is possible serves only to increase his paranoia. He took to looking over his shoulders dozens of times every hour. He shumed his feet to blur his prints. He lashed dozens of pairs of different shoes to his robe and changed shoes in mid-stride. He shunned elves, since they make good rangers. He avoided woodlands and long journeys.

So he made this steam-powered monstrosity... which still continues to leave tracks in a straight line and will only fool a ranger with a severe head injury. He may have some reason for being paranoid about the world, though, as he's encountered "leather monsters" and "wood monsters," presumably more organically-dieting versions of rust monsters. It still takes some 2000 gold pieces and a small library's worth of spells to make one of these dumb things.

The main thing of note here is really the quest attached under "staging," which is basically a huge "fuck you" to anyone who undertakes it.

The Quest: Rahn-Ko has gone missing. His device partially exploded during a testing, and part of it hit a dragon in mid-flight, which landed, grabbing him and his device, and flying away with them out of curiosity. A red dragon, meaning it's evil, old and grouchy. PC's are hired to find him, or look for him out of curiosity. If the PC's try to approach it with stealth, Rahn-Ko's device spontaneously explodes, giving away that shenanigans are up.

If they somehow survive, Rahn-Ko teleports everyone to safety(WHY THE FUCK DIDN'T HE JUST ESCAPE THE DRAGON THAT WAY?) and gives the party a working Fooler. If they don't accept it, he instead geases them to accept it and never get rid of it. This isn't just embarrassing, the whole thing also has a huge table of "hazards," most of which involve damage to the party, giving away their location, embarrassing them or attracting "wandering monsters." A side-note under "staging" also states that druids hate these things and may chase down the party to break their Fooler and maim them.

The Dreadnought

The Dreadnought is essentially a less inventive version of the Transforming Gargantoid. You've got this big, boxy tank studded with magical turrets, owned by a crazy prince who's negotiating with demons and the like and is now pissed at some nations who he wants to stomp.

Just about the only interesting part of it is the low-tech propulsion system, which consists of a bunch of Invisible Stalkers on treadmills being organized by a Djinni who slaps them around if they move too slow(or out of synch, there's a treadmill for each tread, if one's faster than the other, the tank starts turning.). Surprisingly, there are no hazards that involve the tank being a danger to its occupants.

The Barber's Aid

The art on this one makes me think of Paranoia

Dwarves, for once, rather than gnomes, are to blame for this goofy invention. It's an animated chair that's capable of dentistry and haircutting. In this case the issue with it is that the creator used a spell often used to inspire objects to attack rather than perform more peaceful functions. There are some 12 or 13 separate appendages(shears, scissors, hands, grips, drills, pliers, and some have multiples), and every time a given appendage is activated, it has a 10% chance of spazzing out and becoming offensive.

Oh yeah, and if the activator isn't fluent in dwarven? All the errors kick in, on every appendage that they can kick in on. Slip some treads on it and it'd be a more dangerous item than half the combat inventions in the book.

The Train of the Dwarven Thane

So far we've had a few items inspired by planehopping wizards stopping by Earth. This is the first(and I think, only) one that's actually imported from Earth. The History tells us of an EPIC BATTLE against a demon where a party of adventurers' spellcaster flubs a summoning spell and accidentally summons a train from 1879, sans crew.

Instead of somehow fuelling an industrial revolution as the entire campaign world learns about steam engines and trains, it only becomes one small dwarven clan who has a rail network. Further surprising is the idea that magic isn't used to fuel it, instead they somehow knocked out and subdued a small red dragon to power the boiler with its breath weapon. Nor has it been turned into some sort of war engine.

Though it's kind of hard to understand how they ever got this to work, as it lists that there's basically a 10% chance per week of the dragon catching a cold, and a 20% chance per hour that the cold will make the dragon sneeze and obliterate the locomotive and all aboard in a fireball.

"Staging" suggests that the PC's could be the ones tasking with tracking down a new red dragon hatchling due to the old one having grown too big for the train(and apparently is now used to heat a furnace elsewhere in the dwarven tunnels... this seems like a totally safe power source).

Honest Obie’s All-Night Armor Merchant

Basically it's a box containing a fire elemental that smelts metals down to ingots and pays out money for it. It's also something to either fuck over the PC's or for them to abuse.

The thing is that it has no ability to gauge quality or metal type of what it melts down. So if someone melts down a suit of +5 armor or a box full of gold jewelry, they get the same amount of money as if they'd just melted down a bunch of bastard swords they'd taken off some orcs(the way they can game the box is by feeding it some very cheap metals). Also the designer must have dealt with some very stupid PC's, because he actually notes what happens if someone climbs through the armor deposit slot(they meet the fire elemental, which is very pissed).

Staging suggests that the fire elemental loosens its bonds enough to telepathically reach out to passers-by, establishing itself and its box as a terrifying idol which must be fed regular sacrifices, which is actually one of the more entertaining adventure ideas in the book.

But that's it for this stupid tome, whose main entertainment value is largely in the art and how dumb every object in it is. Either there's no hope in hell that PC's would need or make them(sprinkler), or they exist only to fuck them over if they take a poke at them or get involved with them(Pinball machine, Rahn-Ko's).

Fuck the goddamn Book of Wondrous Inventions, I'm going back to Athas.

Elves of Athas , Valley of Dust & Fire or something else? Perhaps Marauders of Nibenay ?