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I'm a DM running Storm King's Thunder, and it's likely the party will soon get the Shard of the Ise Rune item (p. 236-237). I'm reading through the description, and while I understand most of it, I'm confused about how exactly the "Gift of Frost" property works and what it does.

Gift of Frost. You can transfer the shard's magic to a nonmagical item—a cloak or a pair of boots—by tracing the ise rune there with your finger. The transfer takes 8 hours of work that requires the items to be within 5 feet of each other. At the end, the shard is destroyed, and the rune appears in blue on the chosen form, which gains a benefit based on its form:

Question #1: What does one need to do during these 8 hours of work? It is saying that you need to stand there for 8 hours straight while tracing the rune the whole time? Or is it just saying that you start the process by tracing the rune, and then all needs to happen is that the items need to remain within 5 feet of each other for the next 8 hours for the process to complete its work?

Question #2: Once the transfer is complete, does the cloak or pair of boots have all the other abilities of the original Shard, or does it only have the couple abilities listed for the specific item after the Gift of Frost description?

This confuses me because it says that you "transfer the shard's magic", which makes me think that it means the item has all the Shard's abilities. However, the description of what happens to the Cloak says that it gives the wearer resistance to fire damage but it seems that it would already have that from the "Frost Friend" ability of the rune. It also is odd that the Shard is "very rare" while the clothing that you can transfer its magic into is only "rare".

On the other hand, if it doesn't give all the shard's abilities to the new clothing, why would you want to use the Gift of Frost ability at all? It seems like you'd be giving up an awful lot of useful abilities, changing from an item that's worth "very rare" to one that's only worth "rare".

So I am just very confused about how this item works at all, as it's the first rune-based item in the campaign that we're likely to run into. I feel like I must be misunderstanding it entirely.

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When we played it we ruled that it took 8 hours of tracing/handling of the items to effect the transfer. At the time we were in a "fetch" phase of the storyline so it was easy to handwave that into having happened during travel; we never considered that it might be a "set and forget" transfer, and I'm not aware of anywhere in the book or any ruling from the authors that indicate one way or another.

The rune does just transfer a subset of abilities listed, not the whole set of Shard abilities. You're reading it right--for a downgrade in abilities one can not have an [Insert Item Here] of the Ise Rune rather than a Shard of the Ise Rune. As we came across other runes with similar constructions our party ended up with some pretty fun "customized" gear that we liked for our characters*, even if we were giving up a few bullet points for it.

(This ruling is confirmed by Travis Woodall, Adventurer's League admin, here in a closed Facebook group for AL GMs.)


* - one of them nobody had much use for, but the party greatly appreciated:

The Pennant of the Vind Rune, which perpetually whips wildly atop a tower built us by some friendly dwarves =)

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The first answer is easy: Eight hours of work means eight hours of work. You can't start the process and then wander off. As to what the work actually entails, all it says is 'tracing the rune' but you should feel free (as a player or a DM) to describe a more interesting set of tasks than just standing there tracing a shape over and over all day. It may not require second-to-second activity -- for example, you might have to trace it every ten minutes or so to keep the transfer going, much like how eight hours of 'work' with an alchemy set will inevitably involve a lot of time waiting for something to boil or holding it at a simmer for an hour.

As to the second part, the item you make only has the specific qualities listed. Yes, you're correct: Using the Gift of Frost destroys a very rare item to create an item of lesser power.

Why would anyone do that? Probably because the person who got the ise rune doesn't have much use for the standard powers. If you're playing this as a standard adventuring group, it's probably best to keep the rune intact and hand it over to somebody who can use it best, but if it's a League game, maybe you're playing a rogue and you wind up with the Shard, and casting sleet storm or granting people a one-shot weapon immunity doesn't seem very nice, but advantage on stealth is always your bag.

I think ultimately that's the intent; if you don't like the basic powers, here's two options you might like instead.

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