Throughout history, flags have had such power. They communicated almost magically over long distances and on the battlefield. They served as rallying points for warriors rising to victory. They were coveted as trophies from defeated enemies. Flags symbolize patriotism. They represent ideas as diverse as religious affiliations or product preferences. In no way should the power of these simple pieces of cloth and color be underestimated.
Add the fantastic elements of the role playing game to real world effects, and a diligent GM can create new depth to his setting and novel adventure hooks.
Be careful though. Such power can create changes and behaviors beyond the expectations of any player or game master.
Magical Flag Examples
The moon is a mysterious thing, that ebbs and flows over time. Its mysterious forces can grant flag users the following abilities:
New Moon: Prevents were-creatures changing forms at a certain distance from the user.
Waxing Crescent/Waning Crescent: Grants all allies a special ability similar to that of the governing race. For example, followers of a Moon Elf enclave would have all the advantages of a Moon Elf, regardless of their actual race.
First Quarter/Third Quarter: Grants superior night vision to all allies.
Gibbous Waxing/Waning Moon/Full Moon: Increases the powers of lycanthropes within range or lessens their disadvantages. For example, a werewolf could change while exposed to this flag, even when the moon is not full.
The sun is a giver of life and opposes death and shadows. Its influence can do the following things.
Full Sun: This flag causes undead to flee or take damage as if from a sanctified location or the true sun.
Partly Cloudy: The user of this flag can heal himself or others an amount of damage or a number of times a day.
Eclipse: This flag allows undead to walk around during the full light of the day or otherwise avoid damage caused by the true sun, which is particularly handy for vampires.
This flag alters the weather by one step. Wind might change for easier archery or worsen so foe missiles fall short. Precipitation might make the ground harder or easier to traverse. Fog and mist could obscure vision. Temperatures might drop or climb, making ice thin and treacherous or heavy armor more fatiguing.
While not many enemies (or allies) would be willing to march under the symbol of an insect, for the powers that they grant, some might be able to overlook the icky-ness of doing so.
Spider: Use of this flag grants the ability to climb like a spider. The flag could be made from spider silk. Other versions could have the user gain use of webbing or a venomous bite.
Ant/Termite: Use of this flag grants allies the ability to ignore fatigue for a set duration.
Bee (Yellow Bee on a Black field): The area around this flag is protected by a swarm of bees. For incidental flavor, its allies may have a desire for honey.
Butterfly (Violet Butterfly on a Blue field): The movement of allies protected by this flag may appear to have erratic movement, making them more difficult to target. Depending on the system, this could be represented by a Blur effect or some type of illusion magic.
Beetles Fighting (Two Black Beetles on a Brown field): Use of this flag improves grappling or unarmed combat skills.
Fly/Mosquito (Red Mosquito on a Black field): This flag creates a distracting buzzing noise that would interfere with concentration and make enemy rest difficult.
Caterpillar/Centipede: Plants and plant creatures around the flag react as if eaten by insects.
Cricket: Grants all those within the flag’s influence a restful night’s sleep.
There are a number of animal flags that are usable in your game. Here are some examples:
Great Cat (Lion, Tiger, Cheetah): Increased short range running speed. Perhaps the flag needs to be created from the pelt of the appropriate creature as part of a complicated activation rule.
Wolf or Dog: All those under its influence act seamlessly as a pack.
Fox: Increased cunning, perhaps with better ability to fast-talk or detect traps or lies.
Eagle: Improved vision.
Horse: Greater endurance or higher running speed.
Donkey/ Mule: Greater carrying capacity
Lizard: Under hot conditions, allies act with increased haste and energy, but in cold conditions they become physically and mentally lethargic.
Elephant: Grants feats of strength or endurance.
Frog: Grants the ability to command frogs or perhaps increases jumping ability.
Bat: Followers receive the ability to see in the dark, perhaps through echo-location. At its most powerful, all allies may gain the capacity for flight while within the flag’s influence.
Bear: Strength and durability, and perhaps a berserker type rage.
Antelope: Gain speed and grace and perhaps jumping better over obstacles.
Squirrel: Become superior acrobats, able to jump between trees, easily climb rough surfaces .
Ape: Gain the ability to brachiate.
Shark: This cursed flag makes those it influences seek out the smell of blood. The most typical way it does this is to have them seek bloodshed in areas of war. Anywhere there’s a battle, the followers go into a berserker’s rage until sated.
Otter: Heightened swimming ability or ability to survive in wet conditions with no negative side effects.
Wolverine: Dig with unending energy, and perhaps with a bad attitude.
Porcupine: Gain a defensive and damaging magic field, such as a wall of fire or shield of blades.
Alligator/Crocodile: Hide in shallow water. Bites also become more damaging.
Rabbit/Hare: Gain a supernatural reaction time. In some rules, this might be improved initiative, while in others it’s improved ability to sense danger.
Mouse/Rat: Command rats in the tradition of the Pied Piper of Hamlin. Alternatively, such a power could be used on people to create a form of charmed army reminiscent of the effect the Piper had on Hamlin’s children.
The users of this flag have the ability to pass unhindered through trees and undergrowth. As an added benefit, they may not bothered by intelligent plant creatures unless directly attacked.
Quiver of Arrows / Sheathed Sword
Those under effect of this flag cannot draw their weapons and may be bound by peace-inducing magic.
This flag bolsters undead. It also attracts the attention of intelligent undead in the area.
The motley pattern on this flag makes enemies sick. These flags could be related to a god of pestilence.
A powerful flag, this could grant special abilities to its followers based on the characteristics of a specific dragon. Alternatively, it could allow communication, allegiance, or even control of dragons.
This flag grants a insight into a specific skill, type of knowledge, or ability. The ability represented is spelled out in runes on the book’s pages, but may not be seen by those who do not posess that skill already.
The followers of this flag gain improved health and perhaps even the ability to magically heal themselves or others.
Flag of Disguise
Inert and grey, when activated this flag changes size and shape to appear as the non-magical flag most important to the viewer.
This flag changes time within its area of influence. For example, its followers may be able to increase their own speed or decrease their enemies’ speed. Or perhaps the flag offers glimpses of past or future.
Flag Related Plots
Capture the Flag: The enemy forces want a specific magical flag. One group defends the flag and benefits from its influence, while the other group seeks to take it.
Mysterious Deaths: Strangers have come into town bearing a great banner of their pestilent deities. In conjunction with these strangers, people have started dying and nobody knows why.
Enemy Communication: The enemy has developed a new form of long distance communication that isn’t readily understood. Maybe they’ve discovered a form of semaphore or use it in conjunction with a pair of giant magically created hands to do sign language over long distances.
Arrival of a Delegation: A group claiming to be ambassadors have legitimate flags to prove themselves but they aren’t who they say they are.
Slain Rising: There are reports of a general using a flag that raises his slain enemies and allies as undead. The characters are sent to investigate.
Enemy Improvement: The enemy suddenly gets much better at fighting. When the characters investigate, they find out that the enemy is under the influence of a flag that helps them to strike true. This could also apply to a sports team that suddenly improves on their home turf because the fans all have magical flags.
- Archery Competition Cheater: At an archery contest one of the competitors is cheating. The characters must find out where the contestant is getting help from. No one who hired them thought of looking “up.”
- Magical Chessboard: Complete with animated pieces set up between kingdoms to solve disputes. The rival king has given his pieces flags that allow him to cheat. The players must figure out the mystery.
- Wrestling Cheater: A wrestler, under the influence of a beetle flag, uses his enhanced abilities to gain an advantage over his competitors.
Monk’s Paradise: A monastery requires members to climb its rooftop. If anyone successfully reaches the flag at the peak while fighting off other monks from the temple, they gain the flag’s powers no matter where they are in the world. If the flag is destroyed, how ever, they lose all the abilities associated with it.
Teleporting Enemy: An enemy general has set up a system where he teleports adjacent to any of his troops wearing his flag. He teleports to strike an enemy and teleports back to a main location. It’s up to the PCs to defeat this tricky foe.
Persuasion: People are being persuaded to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do, such as join an opposing religion, murder someone, etc. A group is handing out flags which gives them a suggestion to do these things. The PCs need to get to the bottom of the mystery.
As you can see there are a variety of ways to use flags in your games. Feel free to like, comment, and reshare!