The Crystal Lute is an artifact from ancient days, crafted from the living, growing crystals deep beneath the earth without ever being cut. Strung with strands of precious metals, the sound of the lute is the sweetest and most beautiful sound imaginable. In the hands of a skilled lute player, the sounds seem to become almost solid, and it’s almost painful for the music to end; many times this fantastic insturment has been found cradled in the hands of the skeleton of the last owner, who couldn’t bear to set it down.
However, the music is only the lesser of the Lute’s powers. In the hands of a true bard, one who can wield magic, the Lute becomes far more formidable, as the Lute can be used to play songs that can produce magical effects. The musician should specify the effect they want before they begin playing; the number of creatures to be affected, and the magnitude of the effect both influence the difficulty of the skill check. Lighting a campfire is just a quick verse; burning a castle to the ground is a spellsong that would take hours of constant playing, and likely leave the bard’s fingers flayed to the bone.
The Lute’s powers are limited, however - the spellsong cannot kill intelligent creatures, although it may lull them to sleep; the range is also limited, as the target(s) must be within earshot of the musician. It also won’t work on creatures who cannot hear, although creative players can still tag them with side effects of the spells.
Finally, the Lute is both addictive and draining to use. Each spellsong drains 1D6 hitpoints from the musician, which can only be healed through the passage of time; magic will simply fail to heal the injury.
Any musician with the Lute must, each time they use it, succeed in a Willpower check or become addicted to the power and the sound of the Lute, not caring that they slowly die as they use it. (Nonmagical characters waste away without eating or drinking unless forced down their throats; magic-using musicians will find themselves playing spellsong after spellsong, draining themselves into a lifeless husk.)
Anyone who dies while holding the Lute will find their spirit drawn into it, forever surrounded by the sweet music of the insturment, used to help keep the insturment in perfect condition as it waits for the next bard to come along and claim it.