Magical Items and Arcana Skill [No longer merged, hosted on Github]

This is a mod idea I cooked up not long ago, first mentioned the idea over on the Drawing Board ( ).

Series 1-5 were merged. More stuff was added before my being barred from the project, then others went into a cycle of fuckups and fixes without me. Due to discussion of axing this mod from the core game because no one wants to maintain this old mod, it can also be found here:

As it stands now, this adds a number of items and content in general, with more planned.

Current Content:

Arcana Skill:

  • A new skill, which I’m surprised I got working. It’s used as the primary crafting skill for magical items. Thanks to a PR by BevapDin, magic weapons can now use this skill.

The Essences:

  • Regular essence drops from slaying several different sorts of anomalous creatures, the more otherworldly the better. Main use is for creating most enchanted items. Certain magical items are also fueled by this.
  • Blood essence is drained from non-anomalous beings, using anomalous means. Main use is ammo for the one magical ranged weapon available, and as a less efficient alternative to essence for crafting. Some magic weapons are fueled by this. Certain items will ONLY be able to use blood essence for crafting, and conversely some items will only allow using normal essence to craft them.
  • Dull essence is obtained by dismantling magic items and essence using the correct tool. Used to craft and fuel certain items.

Item Dismantling:

  • Recipes for dismantling most magical items, using the hammer of the hunter. Items made by The Cleansing Flame lack deconstruct recipes, as dismantling unsanctioned magical items is implied to be their shtick.

Monster Tweaks:

  • A wide range of monsters have been edited to allow obtaining essence. Will add the full list later on.


  • Black potion. Very potent painkiller, but with several side effects. What were expecting, for something so simple?
  • White potion. Boosts strength a fair bit, and boosts speed a little, also with side effects.
  • Yellow potion. Big speed booster, and shifts stats around. Still a few side effects, almost there…
  • Red potion. Heals various injuries and features a milder return of the painkiller effect, which milder side effects. Remove a few of the weird ingredients, add some pearl ash, and what would you get? Go on, guess.

Magic Items:

  • Offering Chalice. Used for a few recipes from Oaths to the Chalice, as you could surely guess. Go on, take a swig from it. I dare you.
  • Silver Athame. Used for a few recipes in Sanguine Codex. Only a mere 3 butchering quality. Still sharp enough, so don’t play around with it. Or do play with it, that’s exactly what the authors of the Codex want you to do.
  • Symbol of Judgement. Uses blood essence to fire bolts of lightning. Hmm. Lightning, fueled by life force, where have I heard that before…?
  • Revenant Crown. Use it to gain temporary immunity to poison, in exchange for increased hunger gain. Since this includes immunity to food poisoning…
  • Hellfire Stave. Finally added that fire weapon. Uses bursts of blood essence.
  • Veinreaver. Remember that silly “bloodsplosion” idea mentioned previously?
  • Thunder gauntlets. Can you say tazerpunch? Exists due to lack of decent lighting-themed items, when I’ve got multiple fiery explody items.
  • Hammer of the hunter. Weapon of choice for magiphobes the world over. Required for uncrafting most magical items and essence. Also can be used to blind enemies, and yourself if you aren’t careful.
  • Incorruptible Sword. A holy blade that uses “consecrated” dull essence, when activated it gives of light and searing radiance.
  • Gilded Aegis. A cloak that can be activated, consuming dull essence to heal a small amount of damage, in exchange for pain.
  • Wraithslayer crossbow. Fires dull essence, basically a magic crossbow with good armor penetration and that lovely “shot” flag to annoy those annoying hard-to-shoot monsters.
  • Mask of insight. One more thing craftable via The Cleansing Flame, used to work around the flashbang effect hammers of the hunter have, with a few added benefits and drawbacks.
  • Demon claw. You won’t be crafting this one. It’s up to you to find it. Burn all the things.
  • Bane staff. Shoots acidic shots, with a side order of toxic gas. Also uncraftable.
  • Cursed blade. Another uncraftable weapon, using it can be Fun.
  • Cleric ring. The fourth and final uncraftable item, provides an assortment of protective effects when used.

Summoning Items:

  • Silver glyph. On its own it’s merely a shiny piece of silver. But…
  • Glyph of trickery. Ever wanted your own pet kreck?
  • Glyph of impassiveness. Probably the only summoning item that won’t get your face wrecked if you mess up.
  • Glyph of the beholder. It’s a thing of beauty, isn’t it?
  • Glyph of Crawling Chaos. Sit. Stay. Good boy! Who’s a good widdle winged worm wmonster?
  • Glyph of the eye. Best used underground.
  • Glyph of the looking-glass. Might want a vorpal sword for this one.
  • Glyph of anthozoa. No, not the name of some alien deity.
  • Glyph of Yuggoth. Don’t ask them about their two-for-one plastic surgery and genetic alteration special.
  • Glyph of the platyhelminthes. In Soviet Russia, spawn of Ythogtha is bribed by you!
  • Glyph of the Elder Things. Tekeli-li? Tekeli-li.


  • Blank scrolls. Used to craft magic scrolls, obviously.
  • Scroll of light. Using it might be a bright idea.
  • Scroll of darkness. Who needs sunglasses?
  • Scroll of command. Can turn monsters friendly, though the side effects might be Fun if you’re using it to get out of a sticky situation.
  • Scroll of overgrowth. Grow your own garden, grow your missing arm back. And maybe grow a few more arms while you’re at it.
  • Scroll of sundering. Bring the whole house down. Trumpets not included.
  • Scroll of discord. Try not to teleport into the walls. And mind whatever might tag along for the ride.


  • Apprentice’s Notes. Entry-level 0-to-1 skillbook, with no recipes. A religious book, implied to discuss magical concepts using religious metaphors.
  • History of Alchemy. For crafting potions, and for getting from levels 0 to 3. A madman’s interpretation of old alchemical texts, with results that would be profoundly useless without magical essence. You get a cookie if you notice the references to historical alchemical concepts, hidden underneath the stranger things the recipes involve.
  • The Six Pillars. Levels 2-4, requires a decent intellect to understand. Used to craft disposable magic scrolls.
  • Oaths to the Chalice. Also a religious book. This is where we leave the realm of sanity behind and get into stuff that requires some arcana skill to understand, for skill levels 4-7. Allows crafting the offering chalice, recipes for sacrificing items to obtain essence, and what’s currently the only magical weapon. Also needed to extract blood essence from a used chalice.
  • Sanguine Codex. Blood magic, for levels 3-6. Allows crafting the silver athame, and producing blood essence. Second option for extracting blood essence from a used chalice.
  • The Cleansing Flame. Levels 4-7. Written by an order of witch-hunters, it allows crafting a select number of sanctioned items fueled by dull essence.
  • To Master the Unknown. Levels 6-10. A book for summoning your very own pet monstrosities.

Monster Addition:

  • A fiery boss monster for players to find. Hint: which arcanist group would fight fire with fire?
  • A plantlike boss-level monster. Expect a lot of poisonous Fun.
  • A robed figure, possessed by unknown forces and wielding a symbol of judgement.
  • Dragon? Dragon. Undead dragon, in fact.

Mapgen Addition:

  • A curious structure, to be found out in the wilderness. Formerly in use by a religious order, implied to be the authors of The Cleansing Flame.
  • A strange grove, that seems to have grown over some underground ruin. And now I have yet another reason to give root walls a proper sprite.

Furniture Addition:

  • An upright sword, currently serves as an easily-removed barrier and a DF reference.


  • Meditate has been given an item_action definition due to the religious items with additional uses.
  • Added some overrides to make a new monster mutually friendly to both factions of monster that spawn in its area.
1 Like

I want a Necronomicon from the H.P Lovecraft books. So I can summon Cthulhu and shit down his throat with my plasma gun boat. Its not really a boat… Just a flat platform with .50cal and Plasma rifle turrets in every corner and down the sides. With crossbow turrets and a 155mm tank gun from your mod. Its great!

Tempting. I was thinking that summoning items would be on the list of things to craft, mostly for existing nether monsters. Summoning a star-spawn though…you might need a bigger steamboat.

EDIT: Post has been yoinked for the purpose of holding development and lore-related lunacy.

Gameplay and development concepts:

  • There are two ways one could implement player-usable magic, internally or externally. Internally would involve adding magical effects as actions, spells essentially. This would be more complex to implement, requiring source tweaks and/or appropriating bionics or mutations. The Classic Roguelike Classes mod goes this route, giving the magical professions a selection of starting CBMs and telling the player to pretend they’re magic spells.

  • External magic is easier to code. Magic items, basically. It also makes the most sense from a gameplay standpoint, as magical items have been a roguelike staple ever since Rogue itself.

  • Some part of me also liked the idea of magic items and other focuses being the only way for normal human beings to make use of magic. Magic weapons came to mind as an excellent example in particular.

  • The idea of magic weapons, especially ranged magic weapons, led to the idea of devoting an actual skill to magic. It made sense for crafting, as well. Once I had the idea of a new skill laid out, realizing that the place_item function can use skills led to the idea of adding summoning items later on.

  • I hit on the idea of extradimensional monsters being a source of magical energy fairly early, deciding it was more lore-consistent if the magic system was outright otherworldly in origin. This led to the idea of anomalous monsters dropping essence and having it be a resource for crafting and using magic items.

  • I also wanted alternative energy sources as well, so this led to the “sacrifice tainted body materials for essence” and “blood magic grants a different type of energy” ideas. Oaths to The Chalice and Sanguine Codex were pretty much the first books I thought up. I made their respective gimmicks, then started to think up lore and what items actually suited them later on.

  • In the case of the chalice cult, I suspect I was still thinking of magic weapons at the time, thought about a few old Doom-engine games where magic weapons were basically fantasy-realm guns, then suddenly thought about Strife and the red-herring item, the offering chalice. As you can surely guess, my thought process can be a bit loopy when I’m brainstorming ideas.

  • Potioncrafting came up as one of my ideas for what else to make. At some point I’d decided it made sense for potions to be easier to make than reusable magic items. I soon had the idea of it referencing real-world alchemical concepts, along with the idea that a knowledge of real-world alchemy would make it easier to interpret otherworldly magical concepts, further solidifying History of Alchemy’s place as the major entry-level arcana book. Sorry, no RWBY references for you. >_>

  • Making the four main recipes reference the Opus Magnum was an obvious choice, but thinking up effects for them took a bit more effort. The end product being a minor restorative potion was logical choice, but the first three steps are a bit more arbitrary in their effects.

  • At some point while thinking up items to be learned from Oaths to the Chalice and Sanguine Codex, I’d started solidifying their general theme, kinda just thinking up magical items and what that implies flavor-wise. So we have one group that’s worshiping an exterdimensional deity that may or may not be The Entity, and one vague cultish group obsessed with blood. I think at around that point I had the idea of creating another group from the whole cloth, instead of the other way around. This led to the idea of The Cleansing Flame and the ability to dismantle other magical items.

  • The idea of fleshing out the implied authors of the books, plus giving the items more places to be found, led to working on the first mapgen addition. I’m not sure why I also added Dwarf Fortress references to it, but some bit of clever thinking and/or drunkenness led to me getting the ideas to fit with each other.

  • At some point I’d finally added the summoning items, which I had mentioned as a future plan pretty much as soon as I started posting the ideas I’d actually started work on. Lovecraft references abound. No, you won’t get to release the gracken.

  • I think by then I was still hungering for more ideas, which led to pondering suggestions. I was thinking of adding acid or poison as one of the future magic weapons, then Xfin mentioned a certain Final Fantasy reference and things kinda snowballed from there until I had the strange grove added. This also led to a change in the implied fluff, as the underground ruins imply that it was used by the implied authors of To Master the Unknown, which I originally decided was factionless, like the implied author of History of Alchemy. I assume I resolved the issue by deciding they USED to be an actual faction but feel apart quite some time ago.

  • And then after things petered out of a bit, I got completely blindsided by the discovery that BevapDin was JSONizing artifact properties. And there was much rejoicing. I soon reworked the way a few existing items worked, and started thinking of how best to implement new ones. I think I had a classic roguelike flashback and decided scrolls was one idea I hadn’t explored. Much like the general idea of magic potions being easier than spellcasting, the theme built up around The Six Pillars is sort of an internal reference. It came about when I realized the most immediately useful and interesting active artifact effects could be worked to fit certain themes. Light versus darkness, order versus chaos, and…um…the last two scrolls don’t really contrast each other in the same way.

  • I also added two more unique magic items with that update, without yet adding a mapgen to FIND them in. At this point I had the idea of making the next two mapgens be for the remaining two factions implied to exist. By now I figured I could add an elemental them to the idea. The curious structure for fire, the strange grove for earth. I planned to add the “island temple” idea suggested ages ago and decided it might be the Sanguine Order’s relevant place. For some reason I mashed it together with my earlier dragon-related idea, deciding that would be the future boss of it.

  • So I set those ideas on the back-burner in favor of fleshing out the chalice cult’s mapgen first. Floating temple, impact crater to add another layer the the Onion of Strife References, but then I tried to see about adding an NPC to be used to actually flesh out the flavor details in-game instead of it all just being in my head as internal lore. I did a lot of brainstorming that led to sort of storyline for WHAT was happening before and after the Cataclysm, with the idea of the arcanist factions doing their business under the radar and having their respective plots crash into each other. While that gave me a lot of ideas, the actual NPC idea fell through to to coding issues.

  • So for now I have to leave the implied lore just that, implied. Details and hints can be picked up on during gameplay, but I’d rather avoid giving the player in-game info dumps. Future updates are pending that’ll add more hints, but I’ll save any info dumps for here instead of in-game.

General lore concepts:

  1. Magical energy is implied to be a by-product of anomalous extradimensional entities, and/or a consequence of interaction between the other planes and the one the game is set in.
  2. This implies that pre-established arcane cults could not have started making use of this energy until a certain point prior to the Cataclysm. However…
  3. As the existence of blood essence and other workaround can attest, full interdimensional contact was not the earliest possible starting point. As soon as information or communication from the realms was possible, it began to have an effect on small-scale cults and mystics. This sets the possible beginning back farther.
  4. To avoid conflicting with current lore, it can be inferred that these groups did not contribute significantly to the impending Cataclysm. Affects might be local in nature, small-scale attempts to exploit the overall degradation of the barriers between worlds. But even this would be dwarfed by the organized, scientific efforts to study the blob and other exterdimensional anomalies.
  5. At some point before the Cataclysm itself, the situation was deteriorating. Interdimensional contact had reached the point where life-forms could cross over, captured for study by researchers. Elsewhere this increased contact with outside forces allow the developing groups to put their own plans in motion. These plans start colliding and conflicting in some cases.
  6. Day zero. Many of the major arcane groups are isolated from the worst of the Cataclysm, and their plans go unheeded. For some, the event is to their benefit, leaving the barriers between worlds exposed to further exploit.



  • The Arcanists.
    This group was not as organized as the other three. They were simply a loose association of students and practitioners in the arcane, with only a few isolated enclaves. The dominant element of the group was a small number of summoners, the implied authors of To Master the Unknown. Quit some time before the Cataclysm, their efforts to draw forth interdimensional beings led to the destruction of their main sanctum. This would be around the point where the barriers between worlds weakened enough to allow matter or basic life-forms to cross over.

After this, most of the remaining arcanists dispersed. Some managed to prove useful to The Cleansing Flame, depending on their chosen art and whether or not the religious order condemns it.

  • The Sanguine Order:
    The blood cult, the blood mage, the sanguine cult. These are the closest in general flavor to the existing cultist faction of monsters. Their rituals are morbid and their motivations unclear, but they’re the main reason blood essence was discovered. It’s quite likely that personal power is their objective, not any religious objectives. They’re openly hostile to The Arcanists and The Cleansing Flame, and in theory on good terms with The Keepers of the Oath. They see all of the major arcane groups as potential rivals.

Sometime before the Cataclysm, after The Arcanists broke up and dispersed, they came into possession of information gained from former Arcanists. They decided to use this information to summon a creature from beyond that they thought would prove useful for their future endeavor. This went awry and led to the downfall of their main stronghold. Despite this, they managed to continue other plans, though by the time the Cataclysm was in full swing, they were reduced to only a few isolated groups.

  • The Keepers of the Oath:
    A religious group, also called the chalice cult. Their actions are influenced by an extradimensional being they revere as a deity, called He From Beyond the Veil. Their objective is ultimately to summon it to this realm. Given the large number of Strife references in their associated materials, you’d think they’re malevolent. While many of their rituals seem sinister, most of them are convinced that their deity is benevolent, and they aren’t fully aware of how their attempts to summon it might affect the already unstable fabric of reality. It’s left intentionally vague what the consequences of success would be.

At some point, just when the Cataclysm itself began, they massive amount of interdimensional contact encouraged them to attempt to summon their deity. By this time they had been in contact with one element of The Sanguine Order’s remnant, receiving assistance in the form of information and items the blood mages retained. However, the ritual to summon their god was sabotaged, the Sanguine Order fed them misinformation and gave them the wrong items for the ritual. This was done in the hopes of eliminating the Keepers so they could make use of the resources available to the chalice cult.

The end result brought the attention of an entity far more malevolent that what they sought, and it nearly wiped them out. The consequences of the sabotaged ritual prevented that element of the Sanguine Order from claiming a new base of operations, and they succumbed to attrition over time.

  • The Cleansing Flame:
    The witch-hunters, as they’re also called. A religious order comprised of several different faiths, united in their desire to stop the other groups from unleashing further destruction. Despite their good intentions, they were unaware of the much larger threat caused by experiments on cross-dimensional contact. They still made some use of magic as well, in forms they deemed safe and acceptable.

They were the last arcane group to go into decline, surviving until roughly the time when the game begins. They were already stretched thin due to the growing undead infestation and countless dimensional intrusions. The actions of the other arcane groups also began to further contribute to this instability, worsening the situation.

Then, one such occurrence of dimensional instability developed within their main sanctum. It’s unclear whether it was deliberate or sheer chance, but it led to the group being overwhelmed from within and without, forced to leave their only remaining refuge. Much like every group before them, being displaced from their main stronghold led them into steady decline.

How about instead of Cthulhu, you run into a new faction of weird Mermen in the lakes from Lovecraft’s Dagon.

Deep ones, basically? Tempting, unsure where to put them faction-wise. Though if I could find a way to place mapgen entries in the middle of rivers, small isolated islands could be used for that maybe.

Also tempting: dragons. o3o

Oh god no not dragons… They’ll take all my loot!

And eat all your elves. <3

Would dragons be in caves or have their dungeons?

Edit: Also dragon meat…yum.

One could make mapgen entries for dragon lairs or other places to encounter arcane artifacts, maybe.

In Soviet Russia, dragon feeds you? D:

Dragon drops include fur hats and sickles :slight_smile:

Don’t forget greatcoats, courtesy of a derpdragon. XP

Should be an alchemy recipe to turn blood into gasoline.

That sounds absurd.

Now if we had a way to make a weapon with that effect on a targeted monster’s blood…

There’s no spells in in this mod right? If there are do they have their own menu like mutations/bionics.

Nope. No spellcasting for you. Adding a special menu for it would entail source tweaks, and shit tends to break when I do that. :V

That’s the external, real-world reason behind it, sheer laziness and improvising with what I can accomplish using .json editing.

If you want in-game logic to explain why you don’t get spells? I like the idea of magic items, elaborate rituals, and other elements being used to add a logical, discrete element to the abstract, to make it easier for the player character to wrap their head around the concepts behind the arcane. Magic in this mod is explicitly otherworldly, operating on different laws of nature. Giving it a prescribed ritual, and making a focus for it, gives it a grounding in the “reality” the survivor is used to.

would the colors of potion be a reference to this: ?

Ding. You win a cookie.

Well, you would except I ate the cookies. 3:

Oh so its kinda like Alchemy in the Medieval Ages

Basically, yes. Or at least references to it, with the implication that the author of the relevant recipe book made an…abnormal interpretation of how to apply those alchemical texts. XP

No fireballs, me so sad.:frowning:
Not EVEN a tiny Wand of Magic Missiles or scroll of Meteor Shower?
Granted, spells would be tricky though reasoning you have learned to tap into mystical energies coming from portals.
You could do the same they did with sorcerer, no “spells”, only CBMs.
Would have a ready system, just add a new power system “Arcana” and add a rule preventing regular CBMs 'cos it interferes with the mystical.
And for ritualist “rituals”, that you need to consume like batteries.