Sample Artifacts and Relics

Listed below are some examples of artifacts. Because each artifact must be unique, no absolute powers are given. Suggested powers are listed, but the DM can alter these as he wishes.

The Hand of Vecna: Seldom is the name Vecna spoken, and even then only in the most hushed and terrified tones, for legends say the shade of this most supreme of all liches still roams the world.

Little is known of this being except that he eventually met his doom in some awesome conflagration—or at least that his physical body was destroyed. Still rumors persist that one hand (and perhaps an eye) survived even this destruction.

These rumors ascribe strange and powerful abilities to the Hand of Vecna, still imbued with the unquenchable spirit of Vecna. The Hand is variously described as large and small, but all accounts agree that it is extremely withered and blackened, as if from a burned body.

The first recorded appearance of the Hand was during the Insurrection of the Yaheetes, 136 years after the passing of Vecna. With the overthrow of Paddin the Vain, leader of the clan, the Hand apparently disappeared.

During the reign of Hamoch of Tyrus, the hand was discovered by the fisherman Gisel. For several decades he kept it as a curiosity, until he was slain by his brother who stole the artifact. The brother was waylaid en route to Tyrus and the Hand fell into the possession of the outlaw Mace.

With a single gesture of the Hand, Mace is said to have struck down the gates of Tyrus and brought plague onto the royal house. Stories are told how he spent one night in the royal bedchamber where he was visited by the spirit of Vecna. Undoubtedly he changed, for the next day he ordered the execution of his former followers to appease the wrathful shade.

In the 100 years of Mace's reign, the city of Tyrus grew in power, but it became ill-famed as the Slaughterhouse of the Western Shore. Mace (now styled Vecna the Second) was struck down by a Yemishite assassin when the power of the Hand inexplicably failed him.

Since that time the Hand has appeared briefly in a number of widely scattered lands. Most of these appearances are unsubstantiated, but the corruption of the Paladin-King of Miro is a well-documented case. Foolishly fixing the Hand onto his own arm, the Paladin-King discovered too late that he could not remove it and in the end it destroyed him.

For the Hand to function, it must be touched to the stump of an arm, to which it grafts instantly. The grip is immensely strong (19 Strength, no attack roll or damage bonuses however).

At first, the Hand seems useful and harmless enough, but within it resides some portion of Vecna's evil spirit. Gradually the owner comes to believe he is Vecna. Good characters becoming cruel and malevolent; evil characters become the embodiment of corruption, eventually turning on their friends and allies.

Suggested powers for the Hand include: death ray (no saving throw, once a day), cause disease (100-foot x 100-foot area/2 times per day), animate dead (1/day), darkness (at will), +2 protection, web (1/day), disintegrate (1/day), regenerate 2 hp/turn, lightning bolt (12 dice, 1/day), and time stop (1/week).

Aside from the fact that the Hand is corruptive, its other major drawbacks include the fact that it cannot be removed short of chopping off the arm and the fact that those who see the Hand will covet it, attempting to take it from its current owner. Finally, the Hand foresees the moment of its owner's doom and its powers will fail just at that given time.

The Rod of Seven Parts: It is said that the Wind Dukes of Aaqa were the creators of this legendary artifact. Manifesting themselves upon the world at the battle of Pesh, where the powers of Chaos and Law arrayed themselves, the Dukes presented the Rod to the Captains of Law. In the battle, the Rod was supposedly sundered in the slaying of Miska, the Wolf-Spider, consort of the Queen of Chaos.

The Dukes, to prevent the Rod's capture, snatched up the seven parts and scattered them throughout the world. Ever since, agents of the Queen have sought out the Rod. It is rumored that if she regains all the parts, she can return Miska to the realms of men.

The original rod was said to be about 5 feet long, but the pieces are irregular in length. The parts go together in a specific order, the first being narrowest and each later piece increasing in diameter. Assembling the Rod is difficult, however, because the item is still protected by the Wind Dukes. Each section conveys a sense of the direction to the next piece. Pieces assembled to each other in the correct order will bond together; however, if any piece is placed out of sequence, it will instantly disappear, to appear randomly somewhere else in the world. Upon assembling the first three pieces, the owner will refuse to part with the item at any time, even when sleeping, eating, bathing, or engaging in other personal activities.

Because it was once shattered, the Rod is fragile. There is a 5% chance that it will break apart (and be scattered by the Wind Dukes) each time its major power is used.

Each piece of the Rod has a minor power. Suggested powers are: immunity to one attack form, fly at will, cure light wounds (1/day), true seeing (1/day), hold monster (1/day), double character's movement, slow (1/day). When completely assembled, the Rod can have major powers. Suggested powers are: restoration (1/day) and shape change (2/day).

Created to the service of order, the Rod changes its user to an absolute follower of law, even more so than the most rigid lawful good. The character will feel compelled to intervene in all things to maintain the primacy of law over chaos, heedless of the effects for good or ill. Those not adhering to the Rod-holder's strict views are perceived as enemies. Once all the parts are assembled, the Rod also radiates an aura of fearsome, icy law affecting all within a 20-foot radius. When its major powers are used, those who fail to save must flee in panic.

Heward's Mystical Organ: In the Fables of Burdock readers find mention of a musical instrument, an organ of large size and mystical enchantment. It was said to have been fashioned by Heward, Patron of Bards, to teach mankind the art of song and to bring wonder and joy into the world. Through its keys and music, the Patron was able to spread the gifts of harmony, composing, grace, and beauty. Through his songs, Heward watched over and protected the lands, guiding the weather to glorious sunsets, rain to fall on parched soil, bread to rise firm and fresh, children to be happy, and indeed protecting all that mankind now loves.

Unfortunately, the Fables say, mice among the frets gnawed at the workings, causing sour notes to escape, giving voice to the harpies, sirens, and other evil creatures that entice and trap by song. Enraged, the Patron cursed the mice to remain forever lowly and meek of voice. Believing the Organ ruined, the Patron abandoned it (and took up the harp).

The location of the Mystical Organ is unknown, but the legends of several great and powerful bards relate its discovery and subsequent loss. Oldenburg the Blind supposedly discovered it and from its keys learned the 9 Enchanting Lays whereby he won the heart of Princess Leir, daughter of the evil Fairie-Lord Marrad. Mad Ossam was supposedly stricken upon trying to compose a tune at the Organ. Cursed with the power of blight and despair, he brought baronies to their knees in his travels. Many a bard has claimed to have studied at the Organ, but these are certainly nothing more than the exaggerations of showmen.

The Organ is a massive, immovable object. The pipes easily extended the height of a cathedral chapel. The keyboard has three different sets, and there are 27 ivory stops. Nine great pedals control the bass notes. Each pipe is sounded by a bound elemental of appropriate size. The stops, when arranged in different settings, alter the pitch and voice of each pipe, while the keys strike the notes. Age, disuse (for even an artifact of such delicacy must be tended), and the ravages of the spiteful mice have rendered many of the pipes, keys, and stops inoperable.

To use the Organ one must play a tune upon it. However, this is a tremendously dangerous business since there are so many possible combinations of settings and notes. Prior research and faith in the gods must serve as a guide. (As an option, players can compose or at least hum a little ditty of their own when their characters attempt to use the organ.)

When a tune is played, the magic takes effect. Just what magical result occurs is left to the DM. He should base this upon the quality of the playing, the tastefulness and mastery of the music, and the desires of the player.

Theoretically, Heward's Mystical Organ can have as many powers as there are settings and tunes to be played. With such a broad range, the DM can create virtually any result. The press of a key may cause flowers or straw to rain over a small village 100 miles away, while a fugue may result in the sinking of several islands off the coast or the reshaping of the organist into a newt (especially if he hits a bad note).

Unlike other artifacts (which possess powers the character must discover), users of the Organ should decide upon the effect they wish to create and then research the notes and stops needed to create it. The DM can, of course, alter the end result (mortals playing with the toys of gods seldom get what they really want) and a check should be made to see if any errors (a missed note or beat) occur in the playing.

If an error is made, the DM can have drawbacks and unfortunate results prepared. Some of these can include: permanently polymorphing the player into a small lizard or insect, permanent deafness or madness, or immediate alignment change. The character could be endowed with a voice equal to a horn of blasting (so he can't speak without causing harm), or he might be forever compelled to speak in rhyme or in song. One or more levels might be drained by the Organ. All magical items within 100 feet could be permanently negated. The organist could be teleported to another planet, etc.

In addition, the tones of the Organ, no matter how badly set or played, are of unearthly beauty. Whenever it is played, all hearing it (including the organist) must roll a successful saving throw vs. spell or be enchanted forever.

Those so stricken cannot abide any other sound. Deprived of its tones, they despair and see no wonder or greatness (in either good or evil) in the world. Gradually, those enchanted take less and less interest in life until they finally reach the point where even the finest food is an anathema to them. These slowly wasting creatures are truly piteous sights.

The location of the Organ is constantly changing. All the legends agree that it exists nowhere in the world, but in some misty other realm. Noteworthy too is the fact that those who leave its hall are never able to find it again.

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