I agree with moonhunter on what brings about trenches.
Now, what could bring them about would be some type of magical constructs which were analogs to Artilley/Machineguns, such as Lightning Spires (Similar to what existed in Red Alert). In this case, we are creating a situation where defence is more powerful then offense, and so stalemate ensues.
A nation with powerful magic users created a network of lightning shooting spires on their border with another kingdom. Since any who tried crossing over land to attack were fried, their enemies built trenches to get closer to the towers, with the intent to eventually tunnel underneath them to collapse the towers and create a breach. Perhaps both nations constructed similar spires and created a no-mans land between. The spires would of course be built far enough apart not to be able to strike each other (otherwise it would be rather difficult to build them.)
The spires would have to outrange all other forms of magical attack for this to work, and would be a very high magic world.
This status quo would exist until spires are destroyed (subterfuge, etc), or a mobile, lightning resistent attack form is developed (ceramic golems, anyone? :) ) Go to Comment
This is one of those Perfect Solution items. Someone comes up with a need, creates an item that solves it perfectly, Nice. Neat. No Drama.
Deletion of drama is not a good thing in my mind, and forcing characters to confront the realities of how to obtain information while being true to their convictions, if any, is far better then simply waving it away.
Lie detector machines can be bested. Truth serums can kill. Tortured people can still lie.
I would, at the very least, have this amulet do damage to the victim's sanity, even if they are innocent, so one must take care using it. The more they resist answering with the truth, the greater the stress upon their mind. Good folk would not be able to use this item without having to balance the pros and cons.
I like the idea of a magic currency, perhaps usable as alternate components that apply modifiers for spells. I remember an old Dragon magazine article which listed various alternate components for the various spells, and their impacts on them.
These fit more in line with the video-gamish approach to spells where consumer-goods exist and there are lot of casters in the world - so very High Fantasy.
AutoMedon – A mechanical poet of renown not for his vast catalog of poetry, but for his complete lack of anything written or spoken, having had no output in his programmed profession. His creator is unknown or at least unaccredited, and there are those in great number in the artistic world who wonder and marvel at his inability to produce poetry, crediting that flaw to his creator who is unknown or at least un-credited. There is also a small faction of scholars who believe that when he finally, finally speaks, it will be the most beautiful or sorrowful verse ever spoke or will ever be spoken. Whether his creator is among either group or dead is unknown. AutoMedon sits alone under a tin roofed enclosure, upon a stone chair, with his gaze off in the distant as if thinking.
“It’s strange to look at this mechanical man and think what thoughts are working through its’ workings or even if the damn thing is” – Aralis of Qurim, poet and pottery salesman