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In my homebrew setting, one god gave his cultists the recipe for a special alloy, and a rival god gave to a kingdom that opposes the cultists the same recipe.

The PCs acquired a warhammer made of this alloy—called dense iron—, and it alone is sufficient to render insignificant a large number of encounters the PCs face.

The problem is that I've already equipped the cultists and the kingdom's army with dense iron armor, weapons, and shields, so the PCs will need their own dense iron weapons to defeat those foes, but I've made it so dense iron is so powerful that it makes many normal adventures now impossible.

This question's answers are on a much smaller scale. I've not introduced a lone overpowered item; I've introduced an overpowered campaign-spanning plot device.

What's the best way to reduce this alloy's power without leaving my plot in shambles and the PCs wondering Why's my dense iron hammer not working as well as before?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why is this a problem? Surely your team is no longer "low level" so it's fine for them to steam roll low-level... \$\endgroup\$ – Sardathrion Jul 18 '16 at 7:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Sardathrion Yeah, i might have explained it in a bad way, they are sort of low level (i dont know what the definition of that would be, in Myfarog 1E there are no levels), but by steamrolling i mean one-shot and by low level i meant anyone without a dense-iron chestplate or shield, i would be fine with that but i feel it limits my scope of possible adventures and enemies, so i would like to just take a step back and have a more "gradual" power curve instead of them having a god made weapon suddenly \$\endgroup\$ – user30267 Jul 18 '16 at 8:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to rpg.se! If this is a request for brainstorming, I'm afraid that's somewhat out of the scope of RPG.SE as a Q&A site that focuses on questions which can be voted on based on something other than personal opinion. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Jul 18 '16 at 8:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Thanks for your edit, it did make the question more readable and easier to understand, as i said i'm not very experienced with posing questions (it doesnt help the fact that i'm not a native english speaker), the edit is much apreciated! \$\endgroup\$ – user30267 Jul 18 '16 at 9:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd advise giving it a day or so before selecting a best answer. Doing it early tends to discourage additional, potentially better answers \$\endgroup\$ – Wibbs Jul 18 '16 at 10:49
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I see three possibilities: Either you change the world (and with it the campaign), change the enemies or you make the ore something more.

Change the ore: Liesmith gave a very nice possible answer, so I'll just put in a few extra possibilities. For example: What makes this ore special? How is it so powerful? Maybe it is stabilised by God #1. Maybe it feeds on the blood of those killed by it. Maybe every kill made with a weapon like this is a sacrifice to God #1. Make the consequences slow to show but long-term. If only the PCs recognize the flaws and problems with the ore, they will have to simultaniously gather evidence about it, fight the cultists of God #1 who rapidly gains strength and convince the kingdom to lay down their powerful super equipment at the same time.

Change the enemies: Adapt or die is something that happens fairly often. What would happen if every generic soldier had very good equipment? Random monsters, bandits and others would adapt, or quickly die out. If the usual tactics only lead to death, the innovators survive. Ambushes become more common and frequently only use ranged weapons. Everybody makes traps to negate the advantages of the ore. People will try to steal the superhammer before they confront the heroes. The monsters who survive become accustomed to being cautious and will avoid close combat whenever they can. So change the enemies, make them use tricks, because those who survived until now would be the tricky ones.

Change the world: A new superpower with powerful, easy to mass produce weapons who hates the gods? That is a massive background to any campaign, and would have far reaching consequences in the greater world. Other kingdoms trying to steal the weapons and the tech. Crusades against the godless. Crusade against the believers. Small groups of soldiers deciding to strike out and use their powerful weapons to become kings on their own. All in all: Total Chaos. Embrace the changes and use them to their full effect.

So these are the three possible ways I think this can go, I think they are all role friendly, but the path you take should depend on what kind of campaign do you want to run.

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Given the extent of the lore that we know:

The alloy was gifted by a god (let's call him Loki) to his followers, then the recipe was "leaked" to a kingdom (let's call it the Kingdom of Loathing), which hates the worship of gods, by Loki's enemy (let's call him Thor).

My suggestion is to keep the physical properties of the alloy the same, but reveal a negative side-effect which becomes apparent over time (similar to using uranium would lead to radiation sickness):

The hidden backstory: The entire reason that "Thor" was able to steal another god's recipe to begin with, is that "Loki" let it be stolen. "Loki" wanted this alloy to spread far and wide.

As a material which he invented, it's tied to him, and it radiates his presence. Over time, it slowly converts people to worship him. It has no effect on people (such as the cultists) who already worship him.

What the players see:

  1. The "Kingdom of Loathing" starts worshiping "Loki", despite hating the worship of all other gods. Maybe they erect a temple to "Loki". Maybe their king issues a proclamation that "Lokiism" is the one, true religion.
  2. The PCs run into a deserter from the now-religious KoL military, who warns them that everyone who was issued the new weapons and armor are now acting crazy. Whichever player currently has the hammer (or whichever has used it most often) should have to make a relatively easy Willpower check to avoid attacking the deserter. If the the hammer is visible to the deserter, he should urge them to never wield it (because the effect only seems to kick in when the alloy is worn/wielded for too long), and to keep any one person from carrying it for too long. Basically, it's the One Ring.

How this solves the problem: This will let you wind up with the players likely having to flee that kingdom (if they were in it to begin with), and gives you an excuse to focus everyone with the allow into one general region (even bandits with dense-iron weapons would feel the urge to gather at the KoL after a while).

This leads to a lore-friendly way for them to avoid enemies with overpowered equipment, and it gives you a big plot hook: they need to use their own sample of the alloy (the One Hammer) to find a way to either destroy the alloy, or render it safe for use, and free the KoL from the influence of "Loki".

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer, i would have to adjust it a little bit, but it's not far from what i wanted the plot to go (the god that leaked it wanted to use the kingdom to reconquer some lost temples thus allowing him to summon a semigod serving him), and it's a good idea, i appreciate it! \$\endgroup\$ – user30267 Jul 18 '16 at 9:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Alternate option, Loki is a trickster, and a god of chaos. Instead of worshipping Loki, KoL now worships a not!Loki (which is actually Loki), and due to irreconcilable religious differences (or so they've been told), they must now destroy the Kingdom of PC's. Meanwhile Loki-as-Loki is telling all of KoPC about what a terrible god not!Loki is, and how his armies are coming to "do unto them" in nasty unspeakable ways (which he goes on to speak about at length.) Chaos, panic, fear and betrayal everywhere, and Loki just sits back and laughs at it all from on high. \$\endgroup\$ – tzxAzrael Jul 23 '16 at 6:43
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Give it a half-life

After a few weeks/months Dense Iron degrades into regular iron or even "light iron" and loses it's awesome or magical properties. Or maybe falls apart completely. It's going to be hard to keep a steady supply of Dense Iron Warhammers for one person much less an army.

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Figure a way to counter the alloy

This is probably a variation on IanDrash's answer but perhaps your PCs can discover a way to disable the properties of the alloy. Perhaps they discover a substance that causes that specific alloy to become brittle.

The game's rules will inevitably change. Instead of being a race to arm your kingdom it becomes a race to disable the other kingdom. How much will depend on how the substance works.

  • If the substance must be introduced before the item is forged, you'll have a lot of sneaking into enemy's lines to poison their production.
  • If the substance can be applied directly into the fabricated item, logistics come into play. How do you apply it to the enemy's weapons and armor?

Just make sure you don't add another overpowered plot element. There are multiple ways you can mitigate this possibility.

Assuming you can apply it to an already fabricated item:

  • Is it liquid? Can you just throw it and have it splash? Or does it have to be applied carefully?
  • Is it expensive? More expensive that creating the alloy itself?
  • How long does it take to actually make the alloy brittle?
  • Does it render the weapon/armor completely useless? Or maybe it just becomes similar to common iron?
  • Is it toxic?
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The Gods give, and the Gods take.

The basis of your plot is that two Gods gave this alloy to their servants, so that they can kill each other happily.

The first solution I envision is that these Gods are not wise, maybe even childish. They gave it to watch humans kill each other, but they do not find this fun anymore, and they just take the toys back. But maybe they gave too much of it, and the Gods are actually not stronger than their children anymore. That would allow for a great Human versus Gods campaign, where humanity tries to break free from the yoke of the Gods, with their very own weapons.

The second solution is that all the other Gods give the same level of power to their followers. Then the world becomes divided between two groups: the Godly people who are blessed with superior weapons and armors, and the Ungodly who are just basic humans. This opens up to religious wars, crusades, and so on. The Ungodly do not have access to such weaponry, and are indeed extremely weak - but they are not stupid enough to anger the Godly. The Ungodly could go as far as creating an united unit, fighting for their freedom.

The third solution is that some other gods hate what is happening. Your characters get captured in their sleep, and are brought to the altar of the God of Balance. This God asks them to redeem themselves, by finding the solution to destroying this alloy - and you now have a quest worthy of a campaign. Maybe destroying the alloy will require the two Gods who gave it to their followers to agree on deleting it, making for an even bigger quest.

Overall, introducing an overpowered plot element was not a mistake in your current setting - it was an opportunity, opening to several large quest possibilities.

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Hmmm...

Power has a price. This is a metal of the gods, in the hands of mortals. Perhaps it begins to drain health, attribute(s), level/experience, or magic from the user and those nearby over time. Perhaps even to empower some future plot by the gods who granted it, or it could even be a punishment or test Sent by those gods or the entire pantheon

Hope these help, good luck with your world and campaign.

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I suggest you introduce a rust beast or a demon who's blood is so acidic your God metal cant withstand it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What good does this do for the "overpowered campaign-spanning plot device"? \$\endgroup\$ – user17995 Jul 27 '16 at 19:29

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