To an adventurer in Westhaven, magic is both familiar and foreign. Creatures possessed of fantastic powers and terrifying abilities abound, and the warrior who prepares to defend only against steel and claw will quickly find himself held fast by the gaze of some terrible creature, or turned to dust by a beam of pure energy. Unfortunately, defending oneself from such sorcery has never been more difficult, as the power of magic seems to be fading from the grasp of the mortal races.

In ages past, magic was abundant. While never without some risk, those with proper study and strength of spirit were capable of bending the rules of creation itself. Divine clerics performed true miracles and powerful wizards shaped the world to their will. During this period, items bestowed with magical power became commonplace, from trinkets to freshen the air to artifacts of near limitless power, and magic saw use in every corner of the world.

Then, slowly – almost imperceptibly – the mastery of magic among the mortal races began to wane. At first, it simply seemed that the younger generations were not as gifted or motivated as their elders, for they achieved power and mastery, but failed to advance the art the way their elders had. As each generation passed, the influence they commanded over the world around them declined, eventually leading to disastrous consequences.

Men of great power do not often relinquish that power willingly. As the most powerful spellcasters in the world found their ability increasingly limited, they attempted to push back against those boundaries with new, and often riskier, methods of spellcasting. Their attempts at manipulating forces beyond their control begot disaster after disaster, sometimes at the cost of thousands of lives. People quickly learned to distrust magic and its practitioners.

Today, arcane spellcasters are few and far between. The few openly known spellcasters have devoted their lives to the study of magic only to master a fraction of the power that was once wielded by their predecessors. Divine casters, with the belief in their gods shared by the masses, and gifted with wisdom enough not to push beyond their limits, have fared better publicly – with at least minor divine caster in any moderately large settlement – but have seen their power decreased nonetheless.

Rules For Magical Items

The knowledge and power to create all but the most minor of magical trinkets has been lost for some time. Consumables such as potions and oils are still manufactured and available, but anything beyond that is relic from times past.

Whether magic itself is fading from the world, or the sorcerers of yesteryear were simply not as powerful as they believed themselves to be, is up for debate, but most ‘permanent’ magical items don’t appear to be as permanent as their creators once thought they were. All but the most powerful and rare of magical items discovered in Iron Marches are effectively charged items. Each use of an item, be it a sword, a wand, or a suit of armor, depletes the power of the item until eventually the magic is completely expended.

Because characters do not know how many charges are left in a given item, heavy reliance on magic found out in the wilderness is not recommended. However, the benefits magical items offer are often unavailable by any other means, making them a valuable commodity despite their unreliable nature.

To keep book keeping easier on the DM (and to help accommodate the fact that in this game we have more than one DM), each individual item’s charges will not be randomly generated and then tracked. Instead, each item is simply assigned a percentage of failure. Every time an item is activated, the player rolls a percentile die and if they strike the range of failure for the item, then the item has run out of charges – if it is a very powerful item, then it loses some measure of its power and is assigned a new percentage of failure; if it is a weaker magical item then it is simply spent and becomes a masterwork quality item.

This system produces the same effect as rolling a random number of charges for each item, and then tracking each use of the item, without actually requiring the book keeping.