A battered leather pouch filled with marbles. The marbles are of a dark stone or glass, with astrological symbols inscribed and inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
The original Marbles where created originally by Thelvik Morshire, a court magician for Lord Angther, a noble of little note. They were used primarily as aids for fortune-telling, cast down upon the ground and their alignments telling the desired tale. Due to the various magics placed upon them, largely for convenience, Thelvik found himself using them for much more then their original intent. It was not long before additional sets were made as gifts for other nobles who found these amusing magical trinkets. Some of these had variants from the original design, but remained minor in nature. The marbles, though created by Thelvik, have been attributed to Angther who gave them as gifts, and so have acquired his name.
The marble’s primary purpose, as a divination tool, involves very little actual magic. Instead the spells have been added to increase their durability, allow them to be recovered when lost or destroyed, and to appeal to users of various sizes. Each bares a symbol corresponding to an astrological entity - planet, moon, constellation, etc. When a handful is drawn forth and cast, they can be used for divination by an astrologer. The number of marbles found will be appropriate for the number of major astrological entities for the world in question.
Basic Power Summary
1. Change size from 1/4 inch to 3 inch diameter, weight increasing appropriately. Growth is gradual - about 1/4" radius.
1" 1 Oz
2" 6 Oz
3" 3 lbs
2. Lost or destroyed marbles will return to the pouch at the rate of 1 per hour.
3. Increased durability - they are hard as cast iron.
Additional Powers (Optional)
1. Telekinetic Control
The holder of the bag can mentally control one or more of the marbles, the number of which being directly proportional to the intellect of the user. There are some that allow all marbles to be controlled (without the intellect limit) by a user who knows the correct command word. The control extends no further then the user could throw the marbles and is limited to line of sight in all cases.
A marble can be caused to glow brightly, each generating about 1/4 the illumination of a torch.
The marbles can be caused to hover and orbit, mimicking their position and alignments in the heavens
The marbles will take on the appearance of precious metals and gemstones and have obvious use in this form. They do, however, still return to the pouch at the same rate as normal.
The marbles of course have myriad mundane uses as well - they can be dropped and used as a tripping hazard. They can be thrown to check for depth, knock things over, or in a pinch, used as sling ammunition. Of course, one can play marbles with them as well.
Their magical properties can be used to inspire wonder in children (especially those with added powers), bluff or bribe. Since they are quite hard and can change size, they can be used to wedge wooden doors closed.
The marbles themselves have ties to Elemental Earth and are self-powered. They contain sufficient magical energy to employ their powers for hundreds of years, and so if properly triggered, could release a signficant magical discharge. In this case, the marble is permanently destroyed and the astrological ability of the bag is ruined. In addition, there is a strong possibility of a sympathetic reaction causing all of the marbles to simultaneously discharge, regardless of proximity.
Fortunately, the rituals used in the marble’s creation are such that to cause such release may require greater magical energy then would be provided by the discharge.
Plot Ideas/Campaign Use
One means to introduce this relatively minor item to your campaign is to equip a thief with them. When the PCs pursue the thief (for whatever reason), he uses them to help in escape. When the PC gets up and sees the odd marbles, they will likely pick one up to examine it, and perhaps pocket it. Later when they look for it, it is gone.
Later they may be hit by another, larger marble used as a sling stone, and again it disappears shortly thereafter.
When they finally catch the thief, they may find the pouch of marbles and realize its significance.
Some person the PCs are dealing with to sell items/treasure/info/whathaveyou has the version that mimics precious metals and gems, and are paid with the disappearing stones.
The Test of Intellect
While visiting a nobel in possession of one of these pouches, he challenges the PCs to a contest of intellects, with some wonderful prize put up. However, the nobel has the command word to control them all, and will win. If the PCs somehow detect his cheating, they will be faced with what to do with that info? Insulting one’s host, especially a nobleman, is a serious issue.
Treasure of the Urchins
A group of urchins has somehow come into possession of one of these pouches, and are using them as normal toys. Perhaps through conversation or observation the PCs find out these toys are magic. What do they do? They are magic after all.
Or perhaps they have been subsequently stolen and the PCs are approached to get them back.