All I needed was this image that showed up in my G+ feed on this article. I haven’t read the article, I’m just going with what the image spurred in my imagination. I then had ideas for two more posts for the following days.
My idea is for both a spell and related magic items.
[I had this and subsequent ideas and couldn’t help myself other than to hurry up and write them down. This is not polished, but gives the general idea.]
AoE: one marionette and “twin” (or one higher value marionette)
Range: Touch/Control Range:
Components: V,S,M (the marionette or set, they are not consumed)
Duration: 2 turns plus 1 turn/level.
An independent “doll” free of strings is controlled by its “twin” connected to the strings of the control bars. The twin does not have to be identical in size. For example, it could dance on the caster’s palm and be easy to conceal/carry. In all other ways it must be substantially identical. Both items must be made by the same craftsman. One cannot mix and match the full-sized marionette with a different twin with a control bar. So if one item is ruined, the same craftsman is required to fix or replace it. Minimal sets of 100gp value are needed. Finely crafted sets of at least 1,000 gp may be crafted into magic items.
After the spell is cast, the caster may let go of the control bars, which will hang suspended in the air, to add protection spells, such as fire, cold, normal missiles. If the caster is interrupted while the control bar is thus suspended, the marionette will run away and behave in a mischievous manner that will be troublesome to friend and foe alike for the remainder of the spell’s duration.
Variation: A single marionette with control bar may be constructed of 3 times normal value. The marionette will walk free of the strings when the spell is cast. If the strings are damaged/separated from the marionette before the casting of the spell, it will not function, and the spell cast using such a component will fail.
Weight limit –20 gp/2 pounds.
Assisting Spells: Invisibility to make it stealthy, in addition to soft feet or shoes. Other types of protection spells may be cast on the marionette by the caster to make it more resilient/capable in its “mission”
Good for scouting, retrieving small items, etc.
Higher level casters can control tougher/larger dolls.
Other metals, such as adamantite or mithril require the ability to cast the spell for an iron marionette.
Design can be very plain or very detailed but must be high quality materials and high quality workmanship the base wooden model minimum value 100 gold pieces.
Variation of spell – The marionette is able to leave the strings while the spellcaster manipulates the control bar.
If the spellcaster is damaged while controlling marionette there is a chance to lose control of the marionette. If the marionette is out of control there is a chance for the spell caster to regain control if control is not regained the marionette will act independently based on the last commands given, but will have the chance of a variation of that or random behavior.
If the control device is damaged the marionette is free and acting in a random manner there is a 1% chance per level for the spell caster to regain control long enough to end this behavior.
If the marionette is damaged while during the course of the spell the magic user must make a saving throw or be stunned for 1d6 rounds.
If the marionette does not return to the control device before the ending of the spell, the magic user has 1d 6 hours to retrieve a marionette. There is a 50% chance that the spell will not work on this marionette for 1d6 days
The magic user may have multiple marionettes but only one marionette spell may be active on one marionette or set at a time.
Opposing spell casters of a higher level have a 1% chance per level to counter the spell and take over the marionette if they have a control device specified for this purpose there is a 30% chance + 1% chance per level of achieving this action.
Detection spells for information gathering maybe cast on the marionette prior to leaving the caster’s presence or a high level spell caster May enchant a marionette with these abilities 10% of all marionettes found will be marionettes with one or more detection spell capabilities.
Greater Marionette – Enables control of larger versions of medium or even large sized. This is a 5th level spell.
Control Bar and strings for a marionette. Designed to control an independent marionette without the need to have its “twin”. Give the bearer a 30% chance + 1% per level to take control of an opposing caster’s marionette. It does not allow taking control of the marionette of a user with their own control bar. Some street performers have amazed their audiences with such items. Some of these are thieves who use their marionettes after the show for their foul purposes. The rich and powerful often pay handsomely for such an item for themselves or a spoiled child.
Necromancer’s control bar – Allows one to control a bone marionette, basically a skeleton. It animates an otherwise non-animated skeleton for 1d6 turns. The skeleton is in all respects as a skeleton, but able to do complex actions while under the control of the user. At the end of the duration of control, the skeleton falls to dust. Bodies of dead creatures still having flesh will have their flesh fall away. If used on an animated skeleton, it adds one to the HD for 1d6 turns. At the end of the time, if the skeleton makes its saving throw vs. magic it returns to being a normal skeleton, with any damage taken coming from the extra HD first.
Golem Control Bar – This control bar allows a magic user to control a golem. Roll to determine if the device controls flesh, clay, stone, iron, or all. Those that control clay elementals may be used by clerics. If the user of the item is not the same alignment or deity of the cleric that created the clay golem there will be additional difficulties involved.
____ Control Bar – A few texts reveal hints that some control bars have been designed for controlling different creatures. The user of the item is able to see and hear what the controlled creature hears. The user must understand any languages the creature hears or writing is sees. The creature gets a saving throw verses magic.
Cursed control bar – Anyone who picks up this item and makes a motion of controlling a marionette is now “stuck” in place and under the control of the next person to use the control bar. A remove curse will free the individual and great care must be taken to hide or destroy the control bar before someone else is affected.
Clerics have been known to craft marionettes covered with the symbols of their religion as an image of a deity or hero of their faith. Temples or holy places where clay golems are or have been constructed in any numbers are likely to have one of these in case of a rampaging golem. The chance to regain control of a rampaging clay golem is 10% plus 1% per level, unless the cleric who created the golem, then the base chance is 20%. Any clay golem that has rampaged and been brought back under control that rampages again, cannot be brought under control. If the control bar is destroyed within 1d6 turns of regaining control, the rampage will resume. After this time, the golem returns to its normal state and the control bar is no longer needed to control its actions.
Druids have been known to craft marionettes of only wood with wood and string controls.
Illusionists have a variation of the spell that lets them control one of their humanoid illusions beyond their sight.