What kind of bonus? +1D? +s? Anything that sounds cool?
What does, “in a particular situation, to a single action” mean? Like, “+1D, once, when fighting goblins” or is it more like, “+1D to Attack actions when fighting goblins”? Something else entirely?
“…can only be used once” seems pretty restrictive for a quality that can never reappear in the game. Would that be for an arrow that grants a (hopefully large) bonus against Smaug, specifically? How would that best be used?
If you’re familiar with Fate (especially the new, pay-what-you-want Fate Core), this is exactly the sort of thing that Stunts represent. These are the special, unique properties of weapons. Sting glows blue when orcs are near. Beater and Biter are enchanted to give +1s for attacks against goblins. Maybe you have an expendable amulet that removes a condition but can only be used once.
I definitely agree about the Black Arrow example. Maybe it’s a magic item that allows you to choose a Kill conflict with a creature irregardless of Might, but is expended after the battle.
Ludanto, keep in mind that the table you’re looking at is Gear, not Magic. These are items crafted by dwarves or elves that are not magical, but exude special qualities due to the nature of their craftsmanship. +1D to Fight actions when fighting goblins is a great example, although I would tend more toward things that can only be used once (+1D when fighting goblins, once) because they’re not magic.
Magical items are described on page 146 and work differently.
Sorry, I meant to include an example. Think, for instance, of dwarven chainmail armor that is so well constructed that the first time you roll a 1-3 when checking whether it’s damaged, you ignore that result. But it only works that once. It’s an excellent little perk, but not magical.
I assume they meant only once, ever. As for me, I’m toying with the idea of allowing an Armorer test to “recharge” that special quality of an item, probably one that must be made in town. Something like:
Restore special quality (start counting at 2): re-hone an edged weapon, re-sharpen a piercing weapon, re-weight a blunt weapon
That and a “restore special quality” factor to add in to Armorer tests to repair elven & dwarven armor.
I’m only toying with it, though! I’m not sure it’s necessary. The only reason I’m even considering it is I’m afraid the warrior will ditch his (used) elven weapon for a new elven/dwarven weapon if he finds one, and I prefer to develop a little player attachment to these special-but-not-magical weapons. This seems like a way to do so without going too far and making them outright magical (plus it gives another use for Armorer, a skill I feel sees little spotlight time outside of mending armor).
Edit: Oops. That last part should probably go in the Hacks & Expansions bit. My bad.
Generally once ever. We’re not talking a magical elven sword here or a magical cloak. Those would be magic items. We’re talking about an item of superlative craft that gives a benefit once and never again.
The thing I’m wondering about is, it feels like most of these would then be tools. As tools, they ought to already give +1D. I’m thinking Lord of the Rings here, and stuff such as elven rope, waybread, things like that, and it’s not the easiest to portray. Maybe have it be a rope, which gives an additional +1D the first time it’s used?
I’d also, personally, consider making variants of such things as wine and rations; how about elven waybread acts as a meal and gives +1D to any recovery attempt in the same camp phase it is eaten? Maybe elven wine is so wonderfully awe-inspiring that it automatically cures angry or afraid, as a boost to normal wine? It doesn’t fall within the actual +1D once parameters, but is it about the correct power level?
I believe there’s already a potion that does that, and is also single use.
You could also think of it as the weapon or armor getting damaged in the first encounter and no craftsman has skill enough to repair it into what it was (to sharpen the blade to as fine a point or arrange the plates to lock as perfectly). Then again if you found someone capable of making elven or dwarven arms and armor of that quality, that might be a different story… I suppose.