Friday, February 05, 2010

What’s in Your Backpack?

While a popular commercial series for a bank posits a similar question and chases it (literally) with a horde of barbarians, during a fantasy RPG, you might actually be caught in a similar bind (that is, being chased by a horde of barbarians) and ask yourself the same question.

While it’s not likely your character will be carrying around a wallet, it’s certain that most of the time, your character probably has a well stocked backpack, or at least a belt pouch. It occurred to me the other day that beyond their normal use, the common items in your backpack can probably be used for other purposes.

This concept is utilized all the time in older versions of our Grand Old Game. However, in the 4th Edition of DnD, with its emphasis on powers and skill challenges, the good old backpack and supplies kind of take a back seat. Sure they make great window dressing, but can they still play a useful role?

In this series, I intend to outline some additional uses for some common items found in the traditional adventurer’s backpack. Since this is a 4e blog, I’m going to start with the Standard Adventurer’s Kit, which is pretty much a given purchase when creating a new character. For each item in this kit, I’ll posit one power and one additional game use for each item.

Hopefully, you won’t ever look at your backpack the same way again.

So, you’ve just picked up the Standard Adventurer’s Kit. It’s shiny. It’s new. It’s filled with cool stuff and all that cool stuff is shiny and new too. Let’s see what’s in there, shall we?

According to page 221 of the Player’s Handbook®, the Standard Adventurer’s Kit contains the following: a backpack, a bedroll, flint and steel, a belt pouch, two sunrods, ten days’ worth of trail rations, 50 feet of hemp rope, and a waterskin.

That’s a lot of stuff. Most of it seems pretty useful. Rations and water for instance, you sort of need to keep from dying of hunger or thirst. A bedroll is useful for sleeping on, sunrods for light – well you get the idea. Sometimes, however, you’re caught without your weapons and need an edge in combat. A spell caster might have his mouth gagged or his magic suppressed in some fashion. One can’t lose hope, so it’s time to get creative with the stuff in your pack:

To start with, let’s take a look at the first two items on the list: The Backpack, and the Bedroll.


Standard Adventurer’s Kit


Scoop/Shovel. Use this item to clear out 1 square of loose material per hour. After 8 hours, the Backpack wears thin and becomes useless.


(Encounter): Standard Action. Make a Basic Melee Attack roll and swing your Backpack toward the weapon or implement of your opponent. If the attack hits, you have snagged the weapon or implement of your opponent and temporarily disarmed him. You lose your Backpack as a result of this action.


Standard Adventurer’s Kit


Comfort. Lay an injured victim on the Bedroll. Gain a +1 to any Heal Skill checks made to the victim while he is lying on the Bedroll.


(Encounter): Standard Action. Make a Basic Ranged Attack roll and throw your Bedroll at your opponent’s head (range 1/3). If the attack hits, you have temporarily obscured the vision of your opponent Your opponent is blinded until the end of his next turn. You lose your Bedroll as a result of this action.

The line for the merchant starts around the corner, next to the camel stalls.

Until next time…

Game excellently with one another.

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