Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Relics of Atlantasia

John Holland, in his role-playing game The Realms of Atlantasia, provides information about relics.  In Atlantasia, relics are unique magic items fashioned by the gods (as opposed to artifacts, which are unique magic items fashioned by mortals).  Relics are a form of treasure.  According to page 185…
When there is treasure to be found (there is a good chance of treasure for every confrontation <battle>) the first step is to find out which treasure table to use.
A roll of the dice determines which table to consult; results on said tables may refer to additional tables, etc.  If my calculations are correct, there is about a one-in-36,000 chance that an initial treasure roll1 will eventually result in a roll on the relic table.
There are thirty-six relics.  Holland tells us on page 227 that the formula for randomly determining a relic is 2d20 - 4, which gives us a range from negative two to positive thirty-six.  One wonders if Holland is acquainted with the concept of probability distribution.  Unlike a percentile roll, the relic table formula does not assign an equal likelihood of occurrence to each relic; it is far more likely that the cunningly named ‘Map Case of Maps’ will result instead of the ‘Gavel of Insight.’
Curiously, although relics are presented in a manner indicating that they are found randomly, the description of many relics includes a precise location where said relics are to be found.  For instance, page 228 tells us that the ‘Crown of Power’…
…will ALWAYS be found in the Forgotten City which lies under tons of ice on the Southern Ice Cap Tundra.
For the time being, let us not focus on the unfortunately realistic fact that tundra – by definition – is not covered by ice.  If I’m determining treasure for a location that isn’t in the Forgotten City, what do I do with a ‘Crown of Power’ result?  Do I reroll?  On page 239, the description of the relic called ‘Draco’s Medallion’ states that…
This relic was made by THE dragon God Draphet2 to contain the spirit of his daughter Sycaezz-aar-ryss-ail and then given to the sage Rann. So if this relic pops up the group will be heading to Baba-Luna for an encounter with Rann (he will have some information for the group) or with Sycaezz-aar-ryss-ail herself.
What gives?  Do characters not find the relic?  Instead do they receive a clue or compulsion to find the relic?  Regarding the ‘Rope of Change’ relic, page 243 indicates that…
…this rope will be found in a store among other ropes and MUST be bought (the store owner will not know where it came from or what it is so will sell it at the same cost as the other ropes).

So, amid a treasure hoard, characters find some indication of where they can get a bargain on this relic?  On page 237, Holland introduces the 'Rod of Glory.' In order... gain this relic one must complete a quest for Sycaezz-aar-ryss-ail. Therefore, if this relic pops up3, it will be an encounter with the demi-goddess who will give them a quest...This relic is only useable by any from the priesthood...

What if the party doesn't have a priest? Do they still have to go on the quest?  According to page 233, the 'Ring of Many Schools'... ALWAYS found in Shadowland on an ancient sand statue that is pointing towards the sky. The ring will be on the pointing finger but will appear to made of the same sand as the statue.

It's possible that characters could easily overlook this relic, but perhaps it's for the best – I'm not certain what's supposed to happen if and when the relic enters play.

It is only useable by human magi and whoever finds it will have to head back to the same school of magic they study that is in the war-torn area where all the archmagi of any school of magic in the area will rally behind the mage.


For a treasure room, three such rolls are made; ten rolls are made for Dragon hoards.  (Sometimes dragon is capitalized, sometimes it isn’t)
Beware of poser dragon gods that only pretend to be Draphet; accept no substitutes.

“Rod of Glory…pops up.”  Rendering appropriately juvenile phallic humor is left as an exercise for the reader.


  1. Not sure our man Holland knows what a relic is. I suppose the religious definition is not the only one, but it is the most common, being the remains of a holy figure, like a finger-bone or less commonly a splinter off the true cross. Relic comes from a Latin (an Alignment Tongue!) word meaning "remains."

    Up until this point, I was totally blown away by Holland's realistic depiction of reality. Now my faith is shaken.


    1. I am astonished that you would doubt the realistic realism that Holland proffers. Yes, reliquiae is Latin for “remains,” but the etymology does not stop there. You must realize that reliquiae itself is derived from relinquere, which means “to leave (behind).” That is exactly what the Atlantasian gods have done; they created these items and ‘left them behind’ (e.g., among a rope merchant’s wares) for adventurers to come across. You act as though Holland’s scholarship might be less than impeccable.

  2. As ever, I must bow to the depth of Holland's scholarship, and your unparalleled evaluation and presentation of it.

    Did the gods leave behind the Rod of Glory in a harem?


  3. I am always amused at Mr. Holland's grasp of the genre and tropes. For someone who claims he played lot of D&D, he still does not have any idea of what he is talking about. He has become more of a comedic figure in my mind than a game designer. If game design had a sub category of Filk he would be the best. If I had the ability to do so I would invite him as a guest to a convention, have him do panels on game design and theory and to make it more amusing invite Jared Sorensen and Luke Crane to rip this guy a new one. I would pay money for this event.