Since we first met Mr. Stabby way back in Bastard Sword, it’s been an open question whether or not he was truly an intelligent item. Now we know. Dude is dumb as a box of rocks. Happily, Goldie there is all about the looks.

What I really love about this kind of encounter is the unexpected turn due to the unexpected motivation. Thief thought she managed to win a nice little upgrade to her weapons slot, but instead gets to play pander to cutlery. While most intelligent items are secretly evil or happen to despise [insert random race/class here], the story now goes in a new and surprising direction. I know it sounds basic when I lay it out like that, but this kind of thing is applicable to any number of situations. Examples:

  • The evil hag would normally ambush the party and try to kill them. What if she is willing to parlay with the sorcerer because his magical blood will make exceptionally powerful blood gems? Is this a potential new ally?
  • Lost and wandering in the sewers, the party encounter a garbage swilling otyugh. This one happens to be an epicurean, and will show the party through his sewers in exchange for some fine dining. Did anyone think to take Craft (cooking)?
  • A monster followed the heroes up from the dungeon, and managed to kill an innocent girl before they could track it down. In a fit of remorse, the party volunteer to fund a new city wall and watchtowers. One of the city councilmen hates adventurers though, and takes the opportunity to propose a tax on the party’s loot. Can they carry the vote?

All you’ve got to do is take the average encounter and look at it a little sideways. Chances are you’ll wind up with a more interesting situation. I mean, what kind of table wouldn’t want to watch Thief pickpocket Mr. Stabby in the name of a midnight tryst? I know I’d be willing to laugh at Thief’s expense.

What about you guys? Have you ever run across an NPC who turned out to have a weird and unexpected motivation? What was it?